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Ghosts of Bara Magna


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IC: Skrall (Bone Hunter Stronghold, Marketplace) - He Is Not Immune to Propaganda

Skrall didn’t seem convinced by the ‘quicksand’ explanation. Depravity was weakness. His comrades did not seem to believe in the Black Legion’s invincibility and infallibility - not to the same extent as their superiors did. Perhaps that was why they were their superiors - this lack of confidence was potentially holding them back from elevation to what would otherwise be their proper place.

As opposed to himself, of course, whom he was fairly certain was always going to die as one of the Warrior-class - preferably in combat, though that should go without saying. Once more, he looked with sadness at those who were once his brothers, enslaved to the will of the vile Renegades, who now would most likely perish ingloriously in forced servitude.

Not that Skrall had a choice in servitude anyway. But servitude to the Black Legion was superior and vastly preferable, being to the benefit of all Skrall - and eventually, all people - and not the Renegades. There was an obvious, clear difference.

And it was obvious. There was no doubt. It was obvious…

What were they talking about? The possibility of the Renegades ambushing them as they left for the south? He decided to focus on that. If he thought too much about what he knew to be true, he started to foolishly question it.

@Vezok's Friend @a goose @BULiK @Burnmad @Nato G @oncertainty

 

IC: Taldrix (Bone Hunter Stronghold, the Tower) - Happy Endling

Not the last survivor, then - the last descendant. Did he kill any others that might have lived? He seemed a little too happy at the prospect that he might be an endling - the last of his race. It was possible that he was right to do so, if the Great Beings were as powerful as the myths claim, that power would inevitably be used to lord over the Agori. Specifically, the Agori known as Taldrix. But then, here he was, leading the Gatherers. So it was likely that no one in this scenario was an innocent party. Except the Agori known as Taldrix.

That Agori examined the table before her…

@a goose

 

IC: Xyde (Iron Canyon) - On the Menu

Xyde had been expecting some snide comparison between their people and the carrion birds perched above them, but it didn’t seem to be coming. At least, not for now. Perhaps later. Or if anyone was thinking it, it was being kept to themselves. Perhaps that was a little harsh, but then, so was the environs.

They wondered if this was how livestock felt, surrounded by creatures that only saw you as a potential future meal. If they could understand their situation at all, of course.

They felt the need to glare defiantly at the scavengers above for a few moments, before trudging along, following the others. 

@a goose @Nato G @~Xemnas~ @Burnmad @oncertainty

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IC: Tueris (Staff NPC; Valley of Death)

The first hours of their journey passed somehow without incident, and what first was a relief began slowly to congeal into its own form of dread.

The canyon was, by all appearances, dead. Carrion birds watched over them from above, but the sands and the rocks below were devoid of life, and the few crepuscular creatures that had scuttled by their feet in the early hours of the morning had disappeared with the sunlight. Even the reprieve from the desert heat, an undeniable positive, made the valley uncanny, somehow not of this world. Finally, an eerie silence settled over Iron Canyon, and Tueris looked up.

“Sun’s getting high. Keep an eye out for a cave or nook.”

He did not comment on the absence of the birds.

OOC: @Toru Nui @Nato G @Burnmad @~Xemnas~ @oncertainty

IC: The Ghost (The Tower)

Taldrix knew the movements of the Gatherers better than anyone - anyone except, of course, Crucius and the Ghost himself. She saw a pattern taking shape in the grid, that of the new scouting patterns their leader had instituted, those led by specially-equipped squads: rock steeds with strange cybernetics that made the sand shimmer beneath their feet, scouts with staves that shook the air…

OOC: @Toru Nui

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IC: Gayle – Valley Of Death

Time passed strangely in the wilds.

It could be excruciatingly slow, and terrifyingly fast.

Every move made navigating Iron Canyon was a strategic one, carefully considered. Every step felt like a journey. Every second felt like an eternity. Gayle’s gaze clung to every crack and crevice in the rockface, her attention drawn to every shallow shuffle and shifting shadow. Years of experience left her senses tensely attuned to every out-of-place sound or sudden movement. In a place like this, she knew an attack could come from any direction. And when it came, it would be over before anyone knew it.

That was the way of things out here. Hours – sometimes days – of tension and trepidation, culminating in just a scarce few seconds of furtive fighting. One mistake was often all it took. And then it was over. 

“Sun’s getting high.” To Gayle, Tueris’ words were like a thunderclap, suddenly shattering the strained silence. She visibly flinched, one hand flying to the handle of the axe at her side. “Keep an eye out for a cave or nook.”

Exhaling softly, she lowered her hand again and continued onwards, keeping her eyes peeled for a suitable shelter.

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IC, Aurax: Iron Canyon

“Sun’s getting high. Keep an eye out for a cave or nook.”

Aurax's face remained expressionless at Tueris's remark, but make no mistake, he was on edge. He was used to going through Iron Canyon, but not so much with other people.

He glanced around, making sure to spot anything that the group could hole up in, no pun intended. The sooner they could find shelter, the better; they were less vulnerable if they weren't out in broad daylight.

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IC: Selamat - Iron Canyon

The young Glatorian nodded, a bead of sweat shaking loose from his jawline and vanishing into the bone-dry sands of the canyon floor, sating them not one whit. The spear with which he upset the sand before them had shifted from one arm to the other and back again as they traveled. It was important to make sure one arm was not tired out before the time had come to use the weapon for its intended purpose.

He did not spare a glance back at his companions, but his thoughts were upon them even as his eyes scanned the canyon walls ahead for the places where they had yielded to the elements; where wind and grinding sand had carved out places beyond sun's reach, where darkness covered all and the air cooled your sweat-slick body until you were ready to venture out into the slowly baking desert once more.

He felt a mix of emotions towards the leader of their expedition, Vulcanus' Second Glatorian, who walked several paces behind him. On one hand was suspicion; Tueris had concealed details from them about the plague they were to be investigating. On the other hand was the knowledge that, aside from the events which had seen him disgraced and demoted, the Glatorian had never failed Vulcanus before. Selamat had never known the man before today, but he'd felt as if he did, Tueris was such a fixture in the village. He did not believe that the older Glatorian would lead them into certain death-- even if that was exactly what Tueris seemed to think he was doing.

The others in their party he had never seen nor heard of prior to this venture. He was uneasy about having the two Agori with them, especially if they were wandering into a Bone Hunter trap. Still, one of them was a medic, and their talents would prove vital if one of the fellowship was to be injured. Or, indeed, if there was truly a plaguestruck village waiting for them at the end of the canyon. His mind vacillated on which possible outcome to this trip would prove true, and on which would be preferable. Though he had never fought another being outside of nonlethal arena combat, he knew at heart that he was a formidable opponent, and had no doubt in his ability to strike down whatever foes fate placed before him.

But a plague? That was something that could not be slain with sword or spear, nor warded off with a shield. He would prove fairly useless if they were forced to treat the ill. Any member of the party could fall ill themselves, were they not careful around the sick. Then what? They could not simply be brought back to Vulcanus, where they might spread the plague to another village entire. If they could not be healed, would they be forced to die in the desert, for the sake of the others? What if Selamat could not return to his home, could not become its greatest warrior, its protector? What if protecting Vulcanus came to mean staying away from it, dying for it?

His brow furrowed at the thought, and in that moment, his eyes lit upon a particularly deep shadow that rested in a recess of canyon wall. "There," he spoke, voice hoarse from some hours of disuse, as his free hand lifted from his side to point out the cave to the others. "Let us ensure that it is not already occupied, and then we may rest there until the sun has passed overhead."

OOC: @a goose @Nato G @oncertainty @Toru Nui @~Xemnas~

 

IC: Skrall - Bone Hunter Fortress

Skrall did not look at his companions as he weighed in on their debate. His eyes were busy surveying their surroundings, watching for any sign of foul play; reminding the deserters that they were not trusted. "These people are common bandits. They weigh gain and loss on a scale. We bring little more than our gear, and the goods we have offered them, and we shall leave with nothing more than our gear and the goods they offer us in return. If they were to do anything, they would do it here, where they are strongest. But they will not. They would lose a dozen men or more, and our future business as well. As long as they have the weak Southerners to prey upon, and as long as they know that we are strong, they dare not to bite the hand that feeds them."

OOC: @a goose @BULiK @Nato G @oncertainty @Toru Nui @Vezok's Friend

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IC: Skrall (Markets; the Bone Hunter Stronghold)

Skrall shook his head.

“They have attacked our caravans before. It has rarely ended well for them, but they thrive on anonymity; their numbers, lack of a command structure and their disparate clans all prevent blame from being leveled, and they know that our desire for retribution will be tempered by our need for trade. The Roxtus garrison has hesitated to alienate our allies with false accusations.” He paused, then, and looked up at the watchtower on the horizon. “That said, it has been months since the last attack. Perhaps the full force of the Black Legion being so nearby has made them more wary of attracting our ire; Tirveus is known to inspire such fear.”

He wanted to believe what he had said; the might of the Skrall should be feared, and Tirveus had a reputation for disproportionate (and misaimed) retribution; he had no qualms about punishing the innocent, just so that a crime would be seen to have been punished. But even he heard in his own voice the absence of conviction, the lack of the certainty which usually came so easily to him. He knew there was another explanation, one that unsettled him greatly: the Bone Hunters had changed.

Skrall knew the South better than anyone. He had come with eyes unclouded by propaganda or tradition, and become as much a stranger to his own people as he was to the Southerners; he was a son of the Black Spikes, a true Roxtusian, of neither North nor South. He saw both with a clarity that neither possessed, whether looking inward or outward. It was this enlightened perspective that defined him; his truth was absolute. And he knew that neither the Skrall nor the Southerners were capable of independently changing their ways. They needed people like him, people who were not swayed by petty tradition or nationalistic vanity. Outsiders. It was a fundamental truth of the world that change could not come from within. This truth was absolute.

Certainly, aspects of the Bone Hunters – and the South as a whole – could change. But though their Stronghold grew and the champions of the South adorned themselves with greater numbers of cybernetic modifications, the changes were matters of scale. Of growth. Surface details. The Bone Hunters themselves had not changed, could not change, not on any fundamental level. He understood them, understood what motivated them. Survival and profit, and nothing more. If their behaviour had changed, it was in service of survival, or it was in service of profit.

“On the other hand, the Skrall being closer at hand has also made us more valuable customers. You may be right; perhaps now they see the value in not alienating us.” Profit. Survival. That was all. There was no truth to the uncanniness he felt. Things were the same as they ever were.

OOC: @Burnmad @oncertainty @BULiK @Nato G @Toru Nui @Vezok's Friend

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IC: Lorqua - Training Ground, Outskirts of Atero

Lorqua opened her mouth to answer Lutenus, then flicked her eyes over to Mard as he asked after their destination. "Tajun, of course," she says. The words came out quickly. Almost automatic, her thoughts already elsewhere. Followed quickly by her eyes, which give Lutenus a pointed look. She still remember why they were here. Lorqua wouldn't let standing on ceremony keep her from what she wanted to know. She didn't have any animus for the Agori, but she had to know.

"Tajun is where every Glatorian as upstanding as Lutenus is going, I'm told. And rather a few not so upstanding, like yours truly. Lutenus, is that the plan?"

OOC: @Toru Nui @Techn0geist

IC: Skrall - Markets, the Bone Hunter Stronghold

Skrall had been listening idly to his fellows. He strayed, but not far. The Bone Hunters' stalls were not entirely different from the casemates of supplies in Roxtus, but the shopkeepers kept catching his gaze. Renegades, the most of them, although the occasional genuine southerner in their unbelievably garish armour passed under his moving eye. Other than their eyes, however, his surroundings were a blur.

He kept meeting their eyes. They stared out towards him. Some curiously neutral and dead, like a beast of burden, meeting his own gaze but not following it. Others looked hungry, leering towards him, gesturing to their wares. He—briefly—flattered himself that only the former knew what he was. But, they all did. They could all see that, Skrall or not, he was very far from what he knew.

With a shudder, Skrall rejoins his fellows. "The way this market operates, looks like all they see is value. Value that can be... exchanged. But, it seems they know us at least as well as we know them. Enough reason for us to move cautiously. For now."

OOC: @a goose@BULiK@Nato G@Burnmad@Mel@Toru Nui@Vezok's Friend

 

IC: Escus - The Valley of Death

"Good eye..." Escus intones, his gaze following Selamat's point towards the mouth of the cave. One hand shadowed his eyeline, the Water Glatorian's eyes less well-used to the high sun than most. He felt a bead of sweat on the corner of his mouth, and pursed his lips to stop the moisture from escaping. He hefts the axe in both hands.

"Ensure it's not already occupied, hmm? Well. If it helps, I volunteer. These eyes are used to the shade."

It's bravado, of course. But Escus' tone is sober. He sounds resigned.

OOC: @a goose @Nato G @Burnmad @Toru Nui @~Xemnas~

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Posted (edited)

IC: Kirbraz (Staff NPC; The Shadiest Spot on Bara Magna)

Is this guy screwing with me?

For just a moment, blind panic was overwhelmed by sheer, all-consuming confusion. A moment was long enough; his terrified trance broken, Kirbraz could think again.

Keep it together, Kirby.

Kirbraz may not have been smart – he was relieved of such illusions when he got himself into this situation – but he wasn't stupid, either. If he took a second to breathe, he could break this down.

What on Bara Magna is this guy’s deal?

The more he thought about it, the more obvious the answer became; his jaw hung aloft with dawning horror.

Good Lords above...

The man's an idiot.

It all made sense: his basic vocabulary, his gruff affect. Maybe he was brain-damaged; perhaps he was just born half-cooked. No matter the means, it was quite apparent that Kirbraz was dealing with some manner of simpleton.

He really was fucked.

There was no telling how long Skyra might be in there – for all he knew, she could be under heavy anaesthetic, receiving some new implant. She might not even be able to drive him when she came to (or, at least, being her passenger would be even more ill-advised than usual, and Kirbraz already had one death-sentence too many to deal with right now).

There was no way Kirbraz could get out of Tajun. He needed a new plan.

And he had an idea.

“Uh… you know what, sir, I think I’ll just, uh, I think I'll be fine on my own. Just forget you ever saw me.”

With that, he turned on his heels. There was still one place in Tajun where he might be safe – the Arena Hotel. Every village leader, bar Scodonius and Raanu, would be staying there ahead of the opening ceremony tomorrow. He wouldn't dare touch Kirbraz in there, and Kirbraz himself might be able to appeal to Ackar for help as Vulcanus' representative.

He could still survive this.

Probably.

OOC: @Jesse Pinkman

IC: Crucius (The Crossroads)

It had been far too long since Crucius had last travelled alone. For the better part of a year, he had been the Ghost’s envoy and his emissary, spreading his message of change and unity to the disparate Gatherer clans. Naturally, change and unity being anathema to his people, that message was not always well-received. Despite being a formidable fighter, Crucius was not quite equipped to take on a whole clan by himself, and so diplomatic journeys were always undertaken with back-up.

Most recently, he had travelled with Metus, perhaps the single most aggravating man he had ever met. If the Ghost allowed it, Crucius would happily have picked him up by the head and pulverised his smug, puny little overly-talkative skull. Unfortunately, he was the useful variety of idiot, and thus his cranium had to remain tragically and inconveniently convex. Thankfully, the two of them had parted ways in Vulcanus so that the Ice Agori could journey onward to Tajun for the Exhibition Matches, and although this left Crucius without a means of transportation, it was also doing wonders for his headache.

With his Rock Steed back in the Stronghold, he had instead acquired a Cendox from a very cooperative dealership and set off on his journey home. His only hope was that Taldrix had not yet allowed Fero to burn the entire settlement to the ground in his absence. In the meantime, it was just Crucius, the sands and the desert sun. Simple, blessed peace, at long last.

OOC: @Nato G

IC: Tueris (Staff NPC; Valley of Death)

Tueris looked to his fellow Vulcanusian and gave him the nod.

“You go with him. Your cave, your call. Watch each other’s backs and the rest of us will keep a watch out here.”

OOC: @oncertainty @Burnmad and all the other Ferrum folks

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IC: Zha’ar – The Crossroads

Like most predators that prowled the desert, Zha’ar relied on sound as much as sight.

She was currently positioned on the West side of the crossroads, her gaze aimed in the direction of Atero, watching for the metallic shimmer or dusty plume that would indicate the presence of another incoming traveller. But her ears were listening out for sounds that were closer still, the echo of engines or baying of beasts that would signal the arrival of travellers coming from the direction of Vulcanus. There were more direct routes from Vulcanus to Tajun, for those brave or foolish enough to take them, so Zha’ar hadn’t seen as much traffic coming from that direction in recent days. But she wasn’t one to let opportunity pass her by, and it sounded like one was on approach right now.

At the sound of a distant vehicle she turned her head, her eyes alighting on the sight of a lone Cendox creeping along the road from Vulcanus. As it drew closer, she was surprised to see the bike continue Northwards, instead of turning towards Tajun like most travellers had been in recent days.  

Caution and curiosity were two instincts that so often came into conflict for Zha’ar. But today, she saw no reason not to indulge in the latter. It was just one Cendox, nothing to be overly concerned about. She whistled sharply and pointed to the Cendox, prompting Solis to rise to his feet and break into a steady sprint across the sands, moving on an intercept course.

As she drew close enough to make out more details, her curiosity only grew. This was no ordinary traveller. The driver wore the dark, archaic armour of a rock Agori, which meant they were likely a Skrall villager, or a fellow Gatherer. Either way, they were a lone traveller, like her, which meant they might be more willing to trade supplies or information.  

She left her bow stowed at her side as she closed in, instead waving her hand to wave at the other driver, hoping to attract their attention.

@a goose

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BZPRPG Mercenary Group - The Outsiders - Description - History - Base

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IC: Crucius (The Crossroads)

Crucius chuckled mirthlessly. There was a grim, all-too-predictable irony to it; of course he would be ambushed. On his own, he looked like any other traveller. Still, his would-be assailant appeared to be one of his own, if their decision to wave to him before they began shooting was any indication.

He pulled his Cendox into a sharp turn, its front blades kicking up sand as it ground to a halt. He did not return the stranger’s gesture; his exsidian hand remained exactly where it was, ready to rev up the engine should the situation turn hostile.

“What's your name, Gatherer?”

OOC: @Nato G

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IC: Zha'ar - The Crossroads 

She brought Solis to a stop a few metres short of the stopped bike, lowering her hand. The Agori's choice to greet her with words instead of weapons was promising, though it was clear he was still wary of her. 

"I am Zha'ar, conqueror of the crossed paths, taker of treasures, and, uh... scourge of... this general area," she proclaimed, wishing she'd taken the time to make up some fake titles before engaging in conversation. "Who are-" a gasp escaped her as her eyes settled on the mechanical arm gripping the vehicle's controls. “Wait, you’re him! The one they’re always whispering about. With the painful sounding name. What was it? Excruciating… Excremen-no, no, definitely not that. Sorry, what is it?” 

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IC: Crucius (The Crossroads)

Lords above. She was a comedian.

“Crucius,” he growled. Then again… Zha’ar. Where had he heard that name before?

No. Not heard. Read.

She was on the list.

It all started to come back to him – the lone wanderer with the lame leg, and a truly impressive suite of skills to compensate. “You're the nomad who doesn't kill, aren't you?”

His voice was surprisingly free of judgement.

OOC: @Nato G

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IC: Karak - Celrys' Workshop

I am unable to catch his last sentence. Too quick, too nervously sputtered out. I fear I will never learn anything at this rate - even as I assume my understanding of the language has grown, I am humbled immediately. 

The tournament is my only other lead. And so I leave Del and Skyra to their flesh-meddling heretic God. 

I smirk to myself, remembering my own and Skyra's clash as we first met. If all Southerners fight that way, perhaps the arena would be amusing if not informative.

OOC: @a goose

Edited by Jesse Pinkman
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“No. Sorry, kid, that’s the one thing you can never do.”

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IC: Zha'ar - The Crossroads

Zha'ar's embarrassment over almost insulting such a famed individual two seconds after meeting him evaporated when Crucius asked his question. Rare was the day when someone could make Zha'ar shut up once she'd started babbling, but Crucius had just managed it. 

She blinked blankly at him for several seconds, jaw hanging open, before finally finding her voice again.

"You've heard of me?" 

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IC: Lutenus (Outskirts of Atero, Training Ground) - That Two Minute Training Match Lasted Almost One Year

“That is correct. I don’t believe we’ve wasted any serious amount of time. Although…” Lutenus’ cybernetic eye whirred around, as if taking stock of the position of the sun and clouds in the sky. “I believe it would be prudent to leave as soon as possible.”

The eye then snapped to face Mard and Ahmoa, his face following after a short delay. “Thank you for your service, gentlemen.” He then trudged over to them to hand back the dulled axe to Ahmoa.

OOC: I realized upon re-reading earlier posts that Lutenus asked earlier what the price was for an hour, and Mard pointed towards a sign with the prices, but at no point did Lutenus actually give them any money, though he did fetch some coin out of his pocket when he asked. I’d like to say he did give them the money, I just forgot to mention it.

@oncertainty @Techn0geist

 

IC: Taldrix (Bone Hunter Stronghold, the Tower) - The Old Country

“You’re looking for something in the canyons.” She said aloud, looking over the map. “You believe that there might be remnants of the old civilization out there?”

Was he really only assuming control of the Gatherers just to search for answers? What happened to his people, and if he’s the only one left? What would he do if he wasn’t the last of his race, and found more of them out there? Would he abandon his position among the Gatherers to join them? No, no, anyone with his intelligence would never give up power that easily.

But what if his fellow Great Beings didn’t care much for the Gatherers? After all, their very name implied that Agori were lesser beings. Taldrix couldn’t blame the Ghost for disliking that epithet. But at least it wasn’t sanctimonious slander like ‘Bone Hunter’ was. If it were bones she was interested in, she’d have stayed in Roxtus.

In any case, she couldn’t trust that whatever the Ghost was spending precious manpower and resources to find existed, and that it wouldn’t be bad for her if it did. ‘Answers to the questions that plagued them both?’

Well. They’d see, wouldn’t they?

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IC/ Skrall/ Bonehunter Stronghold/ Markets/

“May enough of them think that logically.” she commented.

The scout was right - but so were skrall and skrall. Just because Roxtus and the tower had made a deal that wasn’t an absolute guarantee. Despite the intertwined history and rock tribe origin - the bone hunters weren’t a monolith. 

And come to think of it…neither were skrall. This group alone was proof, including herself. She glanced around at her companions. Cynics, true believers, outsiders…revolutionaries?

The sudden thought caused the usually stoic fighter’s mouth to drop open a fraction. There was an angle to this mission she hadn’t considered before - even though they had all openly guessed at its purpose already. Revolutionary? No, not in a political sense. 

Perhaps…evolutionary, then?

Yes, it made sense. And explained why Tirveus would send a group of volunteers like them. Maybe the tournament was merely a crucible to burn away the slag. This wasn’t about glory in battle and a name for the legends. Winning against the other tribes wasn’t the objective - or at least not the primary one. So even the possible outcome of Skrall facing each other was logical. This was about finding out what kind of Skrall could prevail in the South.

Maybe Tirveus was planning to conquer it all. Maybe not. But he still would need to know what kind of soldiers he would need to ensure skrall superiority.

She needed a moment to let that sink in. But standing around flabbergasted at her revelation wasn’t a good look, so she made her way over to where their Spikit wagons were being loaded, hoping her change in demeanor hadn’t been too obvious.

She returned with a handful of rations and water that she started distributing among her peers. 

“Here. Stay hydrated. Keep up your energy.”
 

OOC: Hope this doesn't read too much like her jumping to a conclusion. Debated making this much longer and more detailed, but in the interest of time and keeping up posting momentum I opted for the more direct version.

 @a goose@BULiK@Nato G@Burnmad@Mel@Toru Nui@oncertainty

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IC: Jeizmel, arriving in Tajun

Her eyes widened every so slightly. First-name basis with the honoured Glatorian? Jeiz supposed that after journeying together to reach this place it made sense; but it still felt uncomfortable to her. So few in high positions in Iconox were worthy of her respect these days that she wanted to make sure to show it to one of the only ones who was.

But respect was better expressed by honouring her wishes than continuing to address her with titles, wasn't it...?

"As you ask... Vraek."

It felt as foreign on her tongue as she had expected to not at least preface the warrior's name with a title, like she'd said something incredibly disrespectful. Still, she had asked, so Jeizmel tried hard not to let her discomfort show. At least the Glatorian's following words gave her a distraction from that feeling.

"Of course I..."

She hesitated, the instinctive response faltering on her tongue. Given her reputation back home, she felt like Vraek was entirely right to ask.

"Yeah, I will. I know I'm a loud-mouth back in Iconox, but that's because I care about our tribe so much. Anywhere else, though, I've got no reason to go looking for trouble."

Famous last words, perhaps. But she did mean them in the moment; even if her principles may couple with her recklessness to demand otherwise of her in the future.

She smiled, genuinely, at the warrior.

"Maybe I'll see you again before the tournament is over. Thank you for everything."

@Toru Nui

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

IC: Kirbraz (Staff NPC) (The Shadiest Spot on Bara Magna)

Keep it together, Kirby.

There wasn't far to go – the Hotel was at least twenty minutes away if he stuck to the open streets, but he could shave off five by cutting through alleys (and, better yet, stay out of sight while doing so). That made fifteen; he’d been in longer arena matches.

Kirbraz would not die tonight.

However, while determined, in his feverish panic, he’d failed to realize that in the past hour he’d gained another shadow. 

One cast from far above, faintly trailing a silent stalker. One cast by one of the most dangerous people in all the villages, at least statistically. Crouched behind roofs, nigh-invisible in Tajun’s night. At least for a time, Kirbraz’ personal ghost.

The realisation came as a creeping chill, like a trickle of ice water down the nape of his neck. He didn't dare look behind him – he didn't need to, but more importantly, it would slow him down. He couldn't afford to stop now, not for anything, not when he was so close. Keep it together, Kirby.

Keep it together.

Beneath the mask, his pursuer’s ruby eyes slid down, a fixed scowl obscuring her expression below. Vitrum’s calloused digits grasped her crossbow - already unfolded and against her shoulder. Ears primed to hear every movement her mark would make. The ghostly green moon looming far above her, far above Tajun’s creviced walls - the only natural light in the village.

In the nearby Arena Hotel, all was as still and as silent as the sands themselves. It was always like this, the night before the opening ceremony; the long held breath before the glorious battle-cry. Tarix didn't live for that moment the way some of his competitors might – not usually, at least. But tomorrow would mark his first match as Tajun’s First Glatorian, and he couldn't wait. For the first time in years, the nerves were truly getting to him, and his hotel room felt like a prison. At least out here, out in the cold night air, he could indulge a little.

Sure, smoking wasn't healthy. Tarix knew that. But there were far worse habits to have, and he could work on giving it up now that Tajun would truly be relying on him. Tonight, though, he needed a little stress relief, and nothing calmed the nerves like a balcony view of his hometown rooftops and a hit of tobacco.

Something tugged at Kirbraz, the same primal instinct that had won him his few arena victories, and he ducked beneath a shop tarp that had been left unfurled, backing up until he was hugging the wall. He turned his eyes to the sky, to the stars and the sickly green moon. His would-be killer was up there, somewhere; the alleys themselves were too empty, too silent, for the assassin to be on the ground with him. Already, he feared he had stalled for too long; he looked from side to side, weighing his options. He could keep running directly towards the Arena Hotel, but the fastest route was far too exposed. His every step would be bathed in moonlight.

He set off again, a running start into a sprint so hard that he almost gave himself whiplash. He would take the long way around; the shadows could be his ally, too.

(recommended listening: Uno (Alex Goose Instrumental Remix) (youtube.com))

Though nothing could betray it, Vitrum was right behind him, having crossed buildings in an instant. Something in the dark folded back into each of her legs as she dove into a quiet roll from a leap, and then entered into pursuit via the buildings above him. Kirbraz, concerned about his assassin’s line of sight, was being betrayed by every sound he made. Vitrum’s ears pricked upward inside her helmet as she lagged behind ever so slightly, turning her head along with her crossbow to the passageways below. Her red eyes narrowed for a quick shot.

Kirbraz stumbled – and for one precious moment, his pursuer and her aim overtook him. The Lords themselves must have been on Kirbraz’s side as the bolt struck not him, but the ground just in front of him, the very spot where he should have been. Instinctively, he looked up to catch a glimpse of his assailant.

Without hesitation Vitrum fired again, the crossbow’s oiled clockwork machinations dropping another bolt effortlessly.

By the time the bolt took Kirbraz in the shoulder, he was already running. Any other night, it would have been agonising; tonight, he barely noticed. Pain didn’t matter, not to the adrenaline coursing through his system, not when he was so close. Kirbraz would not die tonight.

Tick.

Vitrum’s chase slowed even as Kirbraz’ flight quickened. Even with his eyes wide and lungs in overdrive his muscles weren’t reacting like they should - his gait was shrinking into a staggered sprint. The exhaustion was setting in, perhaps even faster than it should have been. No, it wasn’t exhaustion. His head was swimming. Something was wrong. And Vitrum knew it.

Tock.

Then it came to his head, like a tobacco head rush but fatal. His vision swayed from side to side across the alleyway, something was glaring up from the roof at him. 

Poison.

Being forced into slow-motion made Kirbraz see one thing more clearly: somehow, the assassin had been following him, attacking with incredible accuracy, even when he should have been out of sight. They were working with cybernetics. What, then? Very likely visual – highly sensitive to movement, or tracking body heat or somesuch. The poison made the situation into even more of a race against time; if he didn't get help, he could be dead in a matter of minutes. He needed to lose his tail, and he had an idea.

As Kirbraz stumbled and shambled along, he went crashing through a doorway. He was fairly confident the building would be empty – most places in Tajun were, especially at night. You didn't get real estate prices like these by selling to people who needed homes, after all. The clumsiness – some of it, at least – was an act; Kirbraz’s ability to hold his drink and play drunk simultaneously had always been useful in backroom dealings. Right now, he would use that skillset to keep his assailant confident and complacent. Once he was inside, his next priority was finding a hiding place, and there he finally had an advantage: he knew this place. It was one of Berix’s safehouses, and being the incompetent that he was, they all had nearly identical layouts, including places for stashing both people and drugs. He had seconds to choose a spot; beneath the floor was too risky. He’d be penned in, and worse, the assassin’s enhancements might be able to spot his movement through the gaps between the floorboards. That left the wall.

Escape routes could be just as important as hiding spots, and Berix’s paranoia meant he kept plenty. Secret tunnels were a favourite; in this case, a false wall with a narrow passage leading into the next building. Kirbraz could lose his pursuer and get closer to the hotel in the process.

The quiet patter of footsteps as the assassin advanced inside the breached building soon stopped. In fact, Vitrum had stopped moving entirely. 

Her eyes blinked behind the mask.

Moments passed, and as far as Kirbraz could hear, it seemed as if she’d been stumped.

Tick.

If Kirbraz could have seen through walls, he would have seen his assassin staring directly at him from the other room.

He breathed ragged and clumsy and although Vitrum couldn’t literally smell blood, she could certainly hear every tick of the clock towards the moment of Kirbraz’ death. Every snort, every intermittent groan and every inhale and exhale. If she was close enough, she could probably have heard his heart desperately trying to pump the alcoholic poison in his veins away from in his chest. 

Her wrapped feet carried her near silently towards the wall. 

Tock.

She pushed at the wall forcibly with her leg.

Kirbraz was practically crawling at this point, and he heard the wall crumple behind him just as he scrambled through the exit. She wasn't following by sight. It must have been sound. Trying to be quiet was pointless – it might even have been detrimental. With all the force he could muster, Kirbraz bellowed a veritable war-cry as he made a mad dash for the door, barreling clumsily through it. He would not die tonight.

Not too far above, something gave Tarix pause. Someone, somewhere below, was shouting – no, practically screaming. He searched out the source, and saw a drunk Agori shambling out into the open street. He didn't know why, but something felt off, his well-honed combat instincts picking up on something his conscious mind couldn't identify. It might have been nothing, but he couldn't let it be; he turned from the balcony and walked to his hotel door, ready to make his way downstairs.

Instead, he was met with a familiar face, his hand still raised to knock the open door.

“Tarix,” the veteran Glatorian said with an easy smile. “I wasn't sure you’d be up.”

Vitrum’s own blood pressure finally spiked as the Agori screamed and shambled outside, as she peered out. Not because of the risk of identification but because he was beginning to draw eyes to him. She could hear two people talking in the building nearby although she couldn’t make a word of what they were saying. A drunk Agori in Tajun is hardly a story but a drunk Agori with a crossbow bolt in his shoulder certainly is.

The problem with the concoction smeared on the bolts was that they were ultimately meant to slow, not kill. That isn’t to say the poison never killed anyone but its main purpose was of utility, to make a target unable to resist capture or death. Thus it had effectively failed this task. 

The cybernetics in Vitrum’s legs folded outwards as the silent thrusters boosted her ever so slightly onto a nearby ledge, pulling herself up with little effort. She was back on the rooftops again, looking down at her injured mark.

Kirbraz would suddenly hear a whistle from above.

It took him a second to even process the sound; the poison had made his limbs and his head so heavy that he could barely even move, but it was already too late for his would-be killer. As he made it out into the street, he saw a light on in a room far above, and a figure silhouetted on the balcony. Already, the figure was gone, but the shutters on the balcony were still open, and Kirbraz knew whoever it was had recognised his plight. His war-cry, intended to deafen his hyper-sensitive opponent, had instead brought the attention of a saviour upon him.

Somewhere, the Lords were looking out for Kirbraz, and a dozen prayers went through his mind at once as he struggled to comprehend why. In his short life, Kirbraz had been obsessed with ego and greed, inflicting uncountable evils upon the Wastelands in his attempts to claim power. No more – he had seen the light. He knew at last just how precious life could be! Kirbraz was a man reborn, and he would dedicate every living moment to helping-

Suddenly, he remembered the whistle, and looked up. In front of the moon and the deep green sky, his pursuer had the look of a ruby-eyed shadow; still, something about her posture, and those eyes, felt oddly familiar.

“Don't I… know you?”

“Ackar! Don't tell me you have pre-match jitters?”

“You should know by now that I never compete in exhibition matches. Can’t be giving all my moves away before the main event.” He smiled and winked, but the sadness in his eyes betrayed the lie. Once upon a time, he really hadn't wanted to reveal his strategies too early; but now, after a decade representing Vulcanus without a Second Glatorian to succeed him, Ackar had begun to feel his years. That he had won last year's Tournament was a total shock, and he would have to conserve his energy if there was to be any chance of a repeat performance. “No, I came to check on you. Mind if I come in?”

“Actually…” Just as Tarix was about to tell Ackar what he had witnessed, he paused. Was whatever he had seen really that serious?

Ackar didn't need his years of hard-earned fluency in body language to know something was wrong. “Tell me.”

Vitrum’s stance was static, but something about the familiarity in Kirbraz’ voice pierced through her hard boiled veneer. She froze.

Thoughts of his new lease on life, even thoughts of survival, found themselves set aside as Kirbraz stared up at the assassin. The way she froze – it meant something, he knew it. If it weren't for this damned poison, he could have-

The poison.

Reality came crashing back down on Kirbraz, and with it a fresh burst of adrenaline. Even in his compromised state, he began backing away from Vitrum, shuffling across the street. No doubt his hands would be bruised and cut up like no one’s business come morning, but if he wasted any time thinking about that there wouldn't be a morning. Not for him, at least.

“It was probably nothing – just a drunk, stumbling through the streets.”

“But?”

“But it didn't feel right.”

Every instinct in Vitrum’s body wanted her to squeeze the trigger mechanism and kill him as he backed away like a cornered dog. 

And then, suddenly, she put down the crossbow. Her hands grasped around the bottom of her helmet, removing it from her face. One hand grasping the discarded helmet, the other picked up her weapon again, holding it in one hand. Her ruby eyes stared at him, the rest of her face now bare.

“You tell me. Do you know me?” Her voice came like a hiss, not having moved from her position.

Kirbraz kept crawling back, back into the shadow of the building. He didn't know what to say, didn't know whether to nod or shake his head – she was so familiar, and still he couldn't place her.

“Show me where you saw him,” Ackar said, nodding to the balcony. Tarix stepped back to let him in.

“No, you don’t. You’re just drunk, and dying.” Vitrum murmured. Her hearing implants had been deactivated in her moment of distraction, her focus broken. She dropped down onto the street, the moonlight catching her face for a moment. With one hand she placed her helmet-mask back on her head, securing the clasps as she approached him and slinging her crossbow over her shoulder again. No more running, no more risks.

Kirbraz shook his head. “No- No, I know, I know I’ve seen you before…”

He felt the wall of the hotel press against his back. There was nowhere left to run.

And then she lunged forward, easily grabbing him by his shoulder and pulling him towards her. Something metal and sharp burst through his insides and poked out of his back with little but a quick whirr. Grunting, she then pushed the man off her sword with difficulty, before the sword collapsed into itself and folded into her hand and back into her belt as she turned to leave, quickly.

Kirbraz was dying.

He felt cold. Had Tajun nights always been this cold? His head swam with poison and pain, and he struggled to keep his eyes open as the blurry figure began her retreat. It couldn't end like this. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. He’d had a plan.

It was Scodonius. It was always Scodonius. He just had to ruin everything.

“Think of it as an opportunity.”

“You think I want to profit from a man’s death?”

And there he went again, running his mouth. Ruining everything. Kirbraz resisted the urge to sigh, and calmed himself with fantasies of beating his arena partner to death. Keep it together, Kirby.

“No, we don't. I think what Scodonius meant to say is that this is our only chance to stand up for what’s right. If we as a people decide that this is okay, we won't be able to take that back – and doing nothing can only be interpreted as tacit approval. You knew the victim, didn't you?”

Neptum nodded. “Gorum. He was a good kid. Could've had a long career ahead of him.”

“Stygia allowed his killer to go free, with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Doesn't that make you angry?”

“I’m sure it was more complex than that-”

“It wasn't.” It was. Or, at least, it had been, before he and Scodonius had set the wheels of the rumour mill in motion. The most beautiful thing about a lie was that it was easy. ‘Hard truths’ were hard in more ways than one; a proper investigation and tribunal took weeks, weeks of impatience and gossip and attention-seeking. For every person who was actually there in the Arena Vulcanus that day, there were a dozen more ‘witnesses’ who were all too eager to tell their stories. That was another wonderful thing about lies: they were so much louder.

Kirbraz had been in on the ground floor – he and Scodonius had a match scheduled for later that day, which meant they had front-row seats to the tragedy. They were the first to see what no one else could: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This was the situation:

During an exhibition match in the city of Vulcanus, a young Water Tribe up-and-comer had gone toe-to-toe with the home team’s Second Glatorian. So far, so standard; the kid would probably lose, but if he didn't he would be a shoo-in for Tajun’s own Second. Bouts like these were a denarius a dozen, which only made it more shocking when the fight turned fatal. The opportunity came in the aftermath.

What Kirbraz and Scodonius knew, from their ideal vantage points, was that Tueris was unlikely to suffer any real repercussions. And what Kirbraz realised before anyone else was that there was a very convenient narrative that he could encourage to emerge: namely, that the reason Tueris got off easy was his position as Second Glatorian, and Tajun’s failure of leadership on the part of Stygia. And the best part was that their new narrative would be unfalsifiable – the arena had been utter chaos that day, and a sufficiently relentless disinformation campaign could sow doubt in the mind of even the staunchest eye-witness. As for Stygia’s part in the tribunal, any attempt to set the record straight would be coming from the exact people who would benefit most from a cover-up; no one else was in the room where it happened.

Better yet, people wanted to believe Kirbraz's version of events. Everyone in Tajun was desperate to make sense of a senseless tragedy, and conspiracy was always more comprehensible than coincidence. Truth was as hard to swallow as it was to establish; lies were beautifully easy.

“The people of Tajun are protesting as we speak, but Stygia won't bow to political pressure. Not while she still believes she has your support. You're our First Glatorian; if you come out against her, she’ll have to listen.”

Neptum stroked his chin, thoughtfully. “You have an ulterior motive.”

“I do,” Kirbraz admitted. Scodonius’ jaw fell open, no doubt thinking of all the times Kirbraz had scolded him for showing his hand; still, Neptum was the type to respond to honesty (or, at least, the appearance of it). Kirbraz knew how to work an audience. “If Stygia steps down, I’m going to stand for election. I don't expect your support, and I won't be the only candidate.”

This was also technically true; Scodonius would also be on the ballot. Everyone else they would bribe or threaten into dropping out of the running, and then whoever won – which would be Kirbraz – would co-operate with the other, who would get more leeway than any crime lord had ever had before. That was the pitch, anyway; in reality, Kirbraz knew Scodonius would only get greedy and fuck it all up, like he always did. Instead, Berix would be his puppet kingpin, and Scodonius would be assigned as the Tajunian representative to the Atero City Council, a position that was technically a political office, but would also keep him powerless and far away from Tajun (and, by extension, from Kirbraz). It was the perfect plan.

Until it wasn't.

Kirbraz had heard before that one’s life would flash in front of their eyes in the moments before their death, but why that memory? Why now? What did Neptum or Stygia have to do with this? Was that the moment when his fate was sealed? Surely that would have been earlier, or later, not-

Not Neptum or Stygia. Not even Scodonius.

Tueris?

No, not him – but close. Another place, another time, another death in the arena. It was so close, on the tip of his tongue-

“Filia.” As the realisation dawned, even as Kirbraz finally accepted the inescapability of his death, he couldn't help but laugh. “Of course… of course he would send you. I should've… known. Exile was too… easy.”

Lies were easy. Conspiracy was always more comprehensible than coincidence.

“Tell him… Tell your boss, that I…

“I don't see him.”

Tarix took a step forward, looking out over the balcony railing himself. Ackar could tell by the look on his face that he wasn't satisfied, but the younger Glatorian just shook his head and sighed.

“I guess it was nothing. I must be more anxious than I thought.”

As Ackar lay a comforting hand on his colleague's shoulder and began dispensing sage advice, Kirbraz was drawing his final breath not too far below, hidden from sight by the shadow of the balcony.

Scodonius had a few questions aimed his way.

OOC: A massive thank you to @Jesse Pinkman, without whom I could never have given my best material to this subplot. It's been one of the best collaborations I've ever done, in no small part because he's always bringing his A-game. And can you believe I nearly began this whole plotline after the murder? @BULiK gets the credit for convincing me not to, because again, @Jesse Pinkman made this so much better than it would have been if I were working alone.

Anyway, that's a wrap on Kirbraz, and a tantalising mystery for any interested PCs to investigate during these cold Tajun nights.

Edited by a goose
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IC: Maxas and Vraek (Streets of Tajun) - If You Need Instructions on How to Get Through to the Hotel…

“Oh, think nothing of it. I should…” Vraek trailed off, scanning the crowd. Where was he? He was never this late before… was he held up? Or did he have one of his schemes hatched?

Vraek noted how dark and less oppressively warm it was getting. She turned back to Jeizmel. “We should retire for the night, it’s getting late.” Hopefully this time there would be less of a hassle with her reservation at the Arena Hotel. “I will see you again, I’m certain. Goodnight, and… keep yourself safe.”

The Ice Glatorian then turned on her heel to leave - and almost tripped over a nervous Water Agori, who very quickly ran way.

“Ah! Hrmph. Hopeful that nobody saw that apart from Jeizmel, Vraek began wading through the crowd to the hotel…

@That Matoran with a Vahi

 

IC: Skrall (Bone Hunter Stronghold, Marketplace) - Mixing Work and Politics

Skrall took only a little sip of the water ration handed to him, to conserve it.

“The fact remains - the Renegades are a blight upon these sands. They may not steal primarily from the Skrall, but they do steal from the southern tribes. When Roxtus conquers the south, as it must, they will most likely begin stealing from us. Whereas, the opposite would be true - conquering the Renegades would perhaps make the southerners…” He struggled to find the right word. “Less hostile?”

@a goose @Vezok's Friend @Burnmad @BULiK @oncertainty @Mel

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Posted (edited)

IC: Skrall (Markets; the Bone Hunter Stronghold)

Most of the southerners, perhaps. But their most powerful Tribe relies on the slaves they trade for here, and they know we would be fools to continue that trade with them if we were in charge, turning them immediately into our enemies. Worse, slaves can come from anywhere; they would only briefly be handicapped. On top of this, our ambitions would be immediately made clear by the proximity to Roxtus, and though some would praise us for wiping out the barbarians they would still be suspicious of our claiming a settlement just south of our border. They would begin preparing for war, while we would still be recovering from the effort of claiming this meager prize. Our conquest would be a drawn-out war across increasingly fortified settlements, on unfamiliar territory.” He paused, and looked towards the west.

“No, our first target should be Tesara. They are just as close to the Black Spikes, but lack the fortifications of the Bone Hunters. We will lose fewer men, and though the South will become aware of our goals, we will have cut them off from a unique resource vital to all the Tribes: food. Take Tesara, and we can starve our enemies into surrender, and barely lose a Skrall in the process.”

He turned back to the other Skrall. “You are like a Spikit, snapping at anything that comes close. A handler approaches and you attack for a single, short-lived meal, when restraint would see that same handler voluntarily feed you for weeks. We are not beasts or barbarians; we are Skrall. All of you need to start thinking with your brains, instead of your damned swords.

OOC: @ Skrall

IC: Crucius (The Crossroads)

“Naturally. There aren't many Gatherers who can survive on their own, even with four functional limbs.” He relaxed his grip, and glanced briefly down at his hand. “You’ve accomplished more than most, in spite of your handicap. Perhaps even because of it.”

He rolled his right shoulder and flexed his exsidian arm.

“Imagine what you could do with two working legs.”

OOC: @Nato G

IC: The Ghost (The Tower)

“I am not one to engage in idle speculation. I know. Allow me to lay out the facts:” He pointed to the blank areas on the map. “My people had a settlement somewhere in these canyons. I am fairly confident it now lies abandoned and in ruins, and while I do have an archaeological interest, far more important to me is what lay below it.

“Beneath the Wastelands there lie not only ruins and tombs, but also remarkably well-preserved laboratories and research stations. I know this because I have seen them with my own eyes, and what I learned there has led me to one definitive conclusion: the single greatest technological discovery of our time awaits us beneath the canyons.” There was a hungry gleam in the Ghost’s eyes as he stared down at the map, envisioning the scientific treasure trove its blank squares might represent.

“There is power in that discovery; with my knowledge and the little I have scavenged already from other sites, I have given your people weapons and cybernetics to rival anything Tajun or Vulcanus can offer. But there is far more to it than that: everything that I have discovered leads here. It is a sentence marching inexorably towards a full stop. Do you understand?”

OOC: @Toru Nui

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IC: Zha'ar - The Crossroads

“Imagine what you could do with two working legs.”

More than any other trait, it was caution that had kept Zha'ar alive in her isolation. When something looked or sounded too good to be true, it was almost always a trap. Gatherers were bandits and thieves; they didn't go around giving gifts.

On the other hand... what would be the point of trapping her? She couldn't recall robbing anyone recently that would have made her an enemy of another Gatherer clan, and a lone wanderer like herself was no threat to whatever unified group Crucius was trying to build. Which meant Crucius wanted something. Zha'ar herself, or something he thought she could provide. And the offer itself... from anyone else she would have laughed it off, but Crucius' mechanical arm spoke for itself. This was someone who had the means to make good on such a life-changing promise.  

"That's quite the generous offer to make someone you've just met," she replied, forcing herself to slow down and choose her words carefully. "What do you want in return?"

@a goose

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Embers - A Bionicle Saga - Chapters/Review

Class Is Out - A Farewell To Corpus Rahkshi - Chapters/Review

BZPRPG Characters - Minnorak, Kain, T'harrak, Savis, Vazaria, Lash

BZPRPG Mercenary Group - The Outsiders - Description - History - Base

Ghosts Of Bara Magna - Ash Tribe - Precipere - Kehla, Somok, Skrall, Gayle, Avinus, Zha'ar

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IC: Crucius (The Crossroads)

“If you know who I am, then I’m sure you’ve heard of the one I represent. He understands the value of loyalty… which is to say, He understands that it doesn't come cheap.” Crucius smirked. “You have skills that many others don't, and I share His view that we should have them on our side. If you’re willing, you could even teach some of your techniques.”

OOC: @Nato G

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IC: Zha'ar - The Crossroads

"Skills?" She sputtered, shifting around in her saddle as if trying to escape the unexpected praise. "All I've ever done is... not die. That's not to say that not dying isn't an accomplishment, I guess, but I don't..." she trailed off, unable to muster more meaningless noise to cover for her conflicted thoughts. 

Self-worth didn't come easily to someone who'd been abandoned by her own clan. What could someone as powerful and important as Crucius see in her that she didn't even see herself? "...you really want me? He really wants me?" 

@a goose

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Embers - A Bionicle Saga - Chapters/Review

Class Is Out - A Farewell To Corpus Rahkshi - Chapters/Review

BZPRPG Characters - Minnorak, Kain, T'harrak, Savis, Vazaria, Lash

BZPRPG Mercenary Group - The Outsiders - Description - History - Base

Ghosts Of Bara Magna - Ash Tribe - Precipere - Kehla, Somok, Skrall, Gayle, Avinus, Zha'ar

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IC: Crucius (The Crossroads)

“Your techniques for mounted archery alone make you stand out, not to mention your skills in animal handling and the use of poisons. Also…” He paused, considering his next words carefully.

Crucius was not a man who liked to tip his hand; it was a matter of habit as much as it was a mechanism for survival. There were only two beings he believed had ever truly known him, and Crucius had killed one of them himself. Showing vulnerability was an easy way to get oneself killed, and being seen was a singularly unsettling experience. Still, this was a new world, and the rules were changing; sacrifices would have to be made.

“The Ghost knows what it means to be ostracised. To be… alone.” He took a breath to steady himself; his left hand was shaking. He balled it into a fist, and began to speak with a soft, seething passion, never once raising his voice. “You’re worth a hundred of your would-be clansmen, and I believe there's a part of you that knows it – that little whisper that you drown out by quoting everything the rest of the world has said to deny it. But that whisper is right. The world is wrong. Those fools forced you into the desert to fend for yourself, and they only made you stronger; you found new ways to survive, better ways. They live in a prison of their own making, and in forcing you out, they have freed you. Perhaps you can't see that yet, but I can, and He can. And if this is what you’ve accomplished alone and unsupported, I for one am eager to see what you can do with our resources at your disposal.”

OOC: @Nato G

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IC: Zha’ar – The Crossroads

For several long moments, Zha’ar just looked down at the other Gatherer, his words reverberating in her mind.

She’d spent so much of her life trying to keep to herself, to go unnoticed, to avoid making herself a target. At best she’d only ever been a nuisance, tolerated by other Gatherers, not worth the effort for Glatorian to hunt down. After all of that effort, it was surreal to realise that someone had noticed. Someone had seen her, not just for what she was, but for what she could be.

She couldn’t refuse.

This was her chance to become something more, to be known, to be remembered, to have a life that was more than just scraping by until her luck ran out.

“I’d like to see that as well,” she said. “You have my bow.”

@a goose

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Embers - A Bionicle Saga - Chapters/Review

Class Is Out - A Farewell To Corpus Rahkshi - Chapters/Review

BZPRPG Characters - Minnorak, Kain, T'harrak, Savis, Vazaria, Lash

BZPRPG Mercenary Group - The Outsiders - Description - History - Base

Ghosts Of Bara Magna - Ash Tribe - Precipere - Kehla, Somok, Skrall, Gayle, Avinus, Zha'ar

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IC: Selamat - Iron Canyon

Selamat nodded in recognition of Tueris' words. He supposed they constituted an order, technically? He was inclined to listen to the Second Glatorian out of respect, but in these circumstances, with him being the leader of this expedition, Selamat supposed that the glatorian's authority was somewhat more formal.

He stepped forward alongside Escus, advancing towards the cave. As he reached the entrance, he paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust a little. It really was a lot darker past the point where the sun's rays did not shine. He hoped his counterpart from Tajun wasn't kidding about having superior low-light vision.

He stepped onto the sand-strewn floor of the cave, spear held out in front of him, ready for whatever might burst out of the darkness at them.

OOC: @a goose @Nato G @oncertainty @Toru Nui @~Xemnas~

IC: Skrall - Bone Hunter Stronghold

Skrall continued to watch the throng of bartering shoppers with open disinterest as he listened to Skrall's speech. He nodded along at the end, developing an appreciation for the other spec ops Skrall in spite of himself. The scout clearly had some sense, though he was far too open about it. For all that Skrall talked about them using their brains, Skrall wondered whether the scout had just started using his own after his experiences in the South-- perhaps a close call with heat stroke had somehow started it working after so many years of disuse, and he had not yet learned the dangers of being too clever too loudly? Perhaps a nasty blow to the head had dislodged some kind of implant that all Skrall had inside their skulls to make them stupid and obedient?

Actually, that seemed like something the priestesses would do. Skrall filed that thought away for later. More immediately important, however, was the fact that, true as his words were, Skrall was saying them rather energetically, and in earshot of outsiders.

"...And that will be an excellent thought for every Skrall to mull over while preparing for our departure," he said, voice low but firm. He glanced back at his allies, his head inclined towards the market proper in a way that might look incidental to an onlooker, but which ought to make it painfully obvious to any Skrall with sense - which he hoped was most of them - that he was telling them to watch what they say in front of the barbarians.

OOC: @a goose @BULiK @Nato G @oncertainty @Toru Nui @Vezok's Friend

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IC: Skrall (Bone Hunter Stronghold, Marketplace) - Be Careful What You Wish For

Skrall began mulling it over. The scout’s comparison of him to a poorly-handled Spikit seemed to indicate that he believed that he only wanted to crush the Renegades because they were closer, not because they were… repulsive. They treated their slaves abominably and won them through foul means. The Skrall did not do such things… not in the same way, which was the crucial difference. There was no similarly between the Legion and the Renegades apart from something of a shared origin, nothing more. Nothing.

As for his proposed strategy of attacking the tribe with the food first, this too sickened him. He would have vocally objected, but the Special Operations Skrall had commanded silence, without outright saying he was commanding silence, which was also insulting.

Defeating the south by starving them would lack honor, especially since… Skrall searched for the right word. It was apparent that most of them were servants, but were not slaves, but also not warriors. They had those strange circular pieces of metal with little value to barter among themselves with. How very strange. The deaths of these people would stain the Legion’s conquest. Surely, their target should instead be…

He froze as he contemplated the implications of what the scout proposed. A victory through such dishonorable means was bad enough, but then there was the tribe with the water, and the tribe that forged using lava, using the metals from the other two tribes. The southern tribes could only survive independently of each other through trading and their games. His eyes go wide in realization. There was no feasible way for the Skrall to achieve an honorable victory without either conquering every tribe at once - which clearly, none of his brothers here would have any confidence in - or by striking at their hub, the city known as Atero. A city full of those who were not warriors.

Skrall decided he preferred thinking with his sword.

@Burnmad @a goose @BULiK @oncertainty @Vezok's Friend @Nato G @Mel

 

IC: Taldrix (Bone Hunter Stronghold, the Tower) - Her Understanding

“Yes. I think I do understand.” Taldrix said, nodding her head. “You came to us, and not the tribes, because we are easier to control. None of that democracy garbage in the tribes, where you win based on how well you can lie and how much wealth you can throw around. You came to us, because if they helped you, you’d have to give them their share. They might even have tried to destroy the ruins, if it conflicted with whatever religious nonsense is being peddled nowadays. And the Skrall would never listen to you, being so far up their own backsides that their meals are recyclable.”

She tapped where Ferrum is on the map. “I also understand that you were so interested in Ferrum’s plague because it happens to be close to where these ruins are. We’ll be at risk of contracting it the more we operate in this region, so we need as much information on it as we can…” She turned to the Ghost. “This would be my reasoning if I were you, at least, sir.”

@a goose

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Content Warning: internalized victim blaming, allusions to sexual assault
a slave | bone hunter stronghold

Sometime in between the many cycles of sleeping and waking, you hear them.   Voices.   Skrall voices.  Not exactly intelligible to your keen but un-enhanced hearing, but achingly familiar in their tones and rhythms. Perhaps another will be added to the not-hunter’s pen today, though surely not one as pathetic as you.

Then one of the voices becomes clearer, unmistakable in its tone—a women’s voice, in the unmistakable dialect of the Skrall.  Something that can only be the voice of a Sister. You are half convinced it is that voice that moves your limbs, that forces your breath out throat-drying ragged as you creep toward the barred window to get a better look, expecting the iron grasp of another will in your hands, in your body, at any moment.

The others do not notice you in their equally fitful sleep, the soft-steppers in your feet doing you, at least good service.   It is hard to see outside in the daytime; your night-seeing eyes spin the heat into smears and veils of color.  You squint, trying to focus on the tall black figures as they move through the market.

OOC: @Vezok's Friend @a goose @BULiK @Nato G @oncertainty @Burnmad @Toru Nui
Someone is watching.   Your choice on whether you notice or not.

Edited by Mel
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There's a dozen selves inside you, trying to be the one to run the dials

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IC/ Skrall/ Bonehunter Stronghold/ Markets/

The conversation had lasted long enough for her to return to the moment after her surprising revelation and to finish her ration bar. Apparently they were still on the subject of how best to conquer all that they saw before them, openly talking strategy. Maybe a bit too openly. She started to look around to see if there were any unfriendly eyes or ears nearby that were too close for comfort. All the while she wondered why they were discussing strategy in the first place - after all they already had been tasked with one. 

“War is not the southern way.” she chimed in.  “Save it for the arenas.”

That’s where disputes were settled. And when they got there they would use the South’s own honorable system to take whatever they laid claim to. Skrall would challenge, fight - and win.

All is as he willed it.

Just then, she felt the all too familiar sensation of eyes on her. She knew it well from home - had known it all her life. Those who knew what she was - or suspected - staring at her in all ways subtle and obvious alike. 

She slowly, deliberately turned and looked over to the barred window to meet the others' gaze. For a split second she thought it might have been their prisoner, already processed. But this thing was much more emaciated. Only color hinted at what had once been skrall - but was no more. Was that what awaited the unfortunate one they had just handed over? Maybe skrall could be broken after all?

The possibility disgusted her and she made no effort to hide her reaction. She nudged spec-ops to get his attention, shot him a dark look and nodded her head in the direction of their observer...
 

OOC: @a goose @BULiK @Nato G @oncertainty @Burnmad @Toru Nui @Mel

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Posted (edited)

IC: Skrall (Markets; the Bone Hunter Stronghold)

The scout glanced in the indicated direction, keeping his head still so as not to give away his redirected attention. Even so, he was caught off-guard by the singularly pitiable sight behind the bars, and felt his face contort in disgust. As if reading his comrade’s mind, he spoke quietly:

“That one was broken long before it came here.”

He knew the look in the not-Skrall’s eyes; living in Roxtus these past few years, he had seen such wretches more than once. They went into Skull Mountain as warriors, and came out… something else. What they did, they did for the furtherment of the Skrall race – it was the scout’s belief that this was a noble sacrifice for the good of all. These husks were the remains of heroes. But that was a belief that even he would not dare speak aloud, and it made the sight of them no less unsettling.

“I don't believe in witchcraft, but such sights give me pause.”

OOC: @Vezok's Friend @Mel @oncertainty @Burnmad @Toru Nui

IC: The Ghost (The Tower)

“Interesting.” The Ghost fixed his four-eyed gaze upon Taldrix, his wide smile brimming with condescension. “You are a quick study. Tell me, Taldrix: does it offend you, that I so easily came to control your people?”

OOC: @Toru Nui

IC: (Valley of Death)

The cave opening yawned back at the two Glatorian, pitch-black and silent. A gentle sussuration passed along the ceiling above; bats, a small and relatively docile variety, who seemed uninterested in their new guests.

OOC: @Burnmad

Edited by a goose
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IC: Skrall (Bone Hunter Stronghold, Marketplace) - Witchcraft!

Ah, of course - their games. Skrall had nearly forgotten. But would the south really abandon their independence, something they clearly prized by refusing to truly unite under one banner, merely because the Skrall would utterly demolish them in their arenas? Though, given how demoralizing that might be, they may eventually give up purely to save themselves further degradation-

Wait, what was everyone looking at?

There was… what once, may have been Skrall, behind metal bars, watching them. He gave a glance to the scout, as if to say ‘see what I’m talking about?’

Wait, did he really just say he didn’t believe in witchcraft? They had a conversation about this on the way here Skrall could only half-remember - did he really not believe that existed? How had he survived this long?

Something just crossed Skrall’s mind. Logically, both the Renegades and the southerners must have females - unless they grew like plants, which somehow Skrall doubted. And, just as logically, these females must have powers of their own. Hopefully, this disqualified them from raiding, or the arena.

Skrall would raise this point, but he had been obliquely commanded to be silent, so he did so.

@Vezok's Friend @Mel @a goose @Burnmad @oncertainty @Nato G

 

IC: Taldrix (Bone Hunter Stronghold, the Tower) - Easy Come, Easy Go

Now, what Taldrix wanted to say was that she wasn’t offended at all, because she knew that the fault lied with the average Gatherer, half as smart as a Zesk and about twice as ugly, but that might not be the best thing to say to someone who shared the Zesk’s four eyes.

What she was about to say may also not be the best thing, but if she pretended to be subservient too much, he might get suspicious.

“I imagine you told Crucius and the others what you’ve told me - or a version of it, anyway. I can’t say it offends me. Who wouldn’t pledge allegiance to you if they were convinced of ULTIMATE POWER being their reward?” Something takes over Taldrix, as she looms over the map. The desert would be at our mercy. And then she snaps back to normal. “Of which there is none.”

Now, if it turned out whatever was left in the canyon wasn’t as impressive as the Ghost made it sound, or if they lost too many men to the plague or the beasts known to roam that area trying to uncover it… well. If the Ghost thought it was easy gaining control, he shouldn’t be surprised how easy it would be to lose it all if he couldn’t keep his promise. Even if Crucius and those two buffoons outside still stood by him after that, they’d be significantly outnumbered by the rest of the Gatherers, and Taldrix sincerely doubted even a Great Being could survive that many angry people with sharp implements.

@a goose

Edited by Toru Nui
Removed reference to 'the Ghost claiming ancestry with the Sand Tribe' as that was me misremembering things.
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IC: The Ghost (The Tower)

Our mercy?” The Ghost’s grin grew wider still. “You’re quite open in your ambitions. I can respect that.”

Somehow, he seemed oddly satisfied, as if Taldrix had said something that pleased him greatly.

“Now, unless there's anything else, you may take your leave. You know how to reach me.”

OOC: @Toru Nui

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IC: Selamat - Iron Canyon

Selamat continued to step forward into the cave, eyeing the bats that lined the ceiling warily. He wasn't familiar with bats; he did not leave the vicinity of Vulcanus often enough or for long enough to spend much time sheltering in caves. He knew that they were supposed to be harmless, but that knowledge did little to put his enhanced limbic system at ease. His implant was pumping adrenaline into his bloodstream, making his breathing ragged and his movements twitchy.

Doing his best to suppress the artificial fight-or-flight response, the spear-wielding Glatorian looked back at his allies, and signaled them over with a jerky wave. "Looks clear," he said in a low tone, though his voice sounded strained. He forced himself to lower the spear's tip until it rested against the cave floor.

OOC: @a goose @Nato G @oncertainty @Toru Nui @~Xemnas~

 

IC: Skrall - Bone Hunter Stronghold

Skrall did not stop to follow the gaze of his compatriots as he walked about the wagons, trying to complete a cursory inspection before Atakus returned. It was easy enough to guess what they were looking at; those Skrall called to the Sisters' chambers had to go somewhere, since their brothers would not suffer their presence and hadn't the courtesy to put them out of their misery.

It was a given that most would pass through this place, as they were suited to little else than the purposes the Bone Hunters had for them. An unbroken Skrall was already nearly incapable of surviving in the South, he knew (for such was the subject of a great deal of pondering of which all Skrall were guilty, but to which none would admit). A broken Skrall, however, was incapable of surviving anywhere that he was not given food and simple, easy tasks. The Skrall in this respect was not so different before and after the Sisters had selected him; both led lives defined by structure and authority. From wake to sleep, one's day was defined by the authority of one's superior. From the rations he ate, to the tasks he performed, he lived within a cage made from the will of another. The difference - aside from the veneer of honor to which the Skrall clung so dearly - was that the unbroken Skrall filled the cage of his orders like water filled a cracked vessel, pushing at the walls and spilling out from any gap. An unbroken Skrall would trade his rations for drugs from the South, push himself to complete his tasks early, and find a secluded spot to look up at the sky without being observed. Broken Skrall, on the other hand, were prone to standing slack-jawed when not occupied.

He finished his walk about the wagons, and frowned. Atakus was still nowhere to be seen. He wondered what the Agori was talking about with the barbarians' leader. A simple exchange wouldn't take so long... That business Fero mentioned must be something more complex. Which meant it was quite likely that Skrall wouldn't learn any more details about it.

OOC: @a goose @BULiK @Nato G @oncertainty @Toru Nui @Vezok's Friend

Edited by Burnmad
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IC: (CelTech workshop, Tajun)

"Celrys to perform external diagnostic...? Test Del I?"

“Exactly right, Del. But this is a test with no wrong answers – just give the response you find to be most fitting.” Celrys turned away from Del, producing two large, flat metal ovals, with strange cylinders attached. With a flourish, he unfolded them into two chairs; one he offered to Skyra, the other he took for himself. At last, he turned once more to Del. “Now, are you sitting comfortably?”

”Yeah, I’m feeling pretty comfortable.” Skyra responds as she sits down, even if she wasn’t the target of the question.

For as much as the Ferrumite struggled to conceptualise 'comfort', they did seem to register the implicit command, turning and reclining back into the patient chair. A thumb rose from a closed hand at their side, signalling in the affirmative.

“Then we’ll begin,” Celrys smiled, the scope over his eye sliding back into place, its glassy surface now rendered opaque by a dim glow. “Now, this examination will take the form of a series of questions. We’ll start off simple, in order to establish a baseline: what village are we currently in?”

A deceptively complex question if one still doesn't quite grasp what a village is. Del focused hard, tracing back along previous lines of conversation and inquiry, lines now joining blazingly fast between dots of ever-increasing proximity.

<<Find Celrys. Find. Locate. Location. Skyra Daring the best driver. Driver. Drive. Go. From and to. To Tajun. Tajun location. Celrys here in location. Celrys in Tajun. Tajun.>>

"Tajun." Del droned. "Tajun what village are we—" they paused, reassessing. "...what village we are in.

Fascinating.” Celrys couldn’t help but lean forward in his seat. “Now, what is my name?”

"Celrys." Del responded with startlingly minimal delay. Easy, names were established back in Atero. Their eyes left the ceiling and fell on the owner of that name. "Celrys you."

“Very good. What about your companion, here? What’s her name?”

"Skyra Daring the best driver." Their gaze now turning to the Tesaran. It became apparent that Del considered that their full name; still a ways to go.

Skyra grinned, looking at Del. “****** right I am~” She'd been good about keeping quiet during the test so far, at least till now.

Celrys couldn’t resist smiling, though he quickly suppressed it, adopting a studiously professional expression as he refocused his attention on Del. “And what about your name?”

The tiniest, imperceptible to anyone but maybe Celrys, hesitation. The infinitesemal, non-zero, doubt. The name from the artificer's logs played on a thousand loops in a thousandth of a second.

"Del I." the Iron Tribal stated, asserted.

]Celrys nodded, seriously. “And what village are you from, Del?”

Got us out of Ferrum.

<<Out of Ferrum. From and to. Ferrum. Ferrum Plague. Ferrum.>>

"Ferrum is a village, like Tajun." they parroted. "Del I from Ferrum village...?" From their perspective, Del was from Ferrum as much as they were from Atero as much as they were from the deep desert. Inconclusive.

“I see. Well, perhaps we can skip the ‘childhood memories’ section; how about some maths?” Though Celrys smiled sympathetically, there was a knowing glint in his eye. “What is three plus three?”

"Six." Instant.

“Three multiplied by three?”

"Nine." Instant.

“Three divided by three.”

"One." Instant.

“Three minus three.”

"Zero." Like a ping-pong match.

“The square root of three hundred and thirty-three, rounded to three significant figures.”

"Eighteen point two."

“Divided by two?”

"Nine point one."

“Divided by zero.”

Tick. "Inconclusive. Non-conclusive" Nice try.

Celrys smirked.

Multiplied by zero.”

"Zero." Instant.

“Excellent.” Celrys leaned back, looking satisfied. “Logic problems next. A woman orders a prosthetic right arm; she lost her original arm in an accident. The prosthetic is installed and works exactly according to specifications. Has it always been her arm?”

"No." Not as quick as the maths test but remarkable in the firmness of the conclusion. Del did not show their working.

“There are two ropes in front of you; each takes exactly one hour to burn, but they do so at inconsistent rates. Some segments may burn faster or slower than others, and you have no way to tell which are which. How can you use the ropes to measure forty-five minutes?”

This took a little longer for the Ferrumite to puzzle out, although time is subjective and 'two seconds' is a longer span of time than 'two nanoseconds'.

"Burn two end of one rope. Burn one end of two rope. Burn two end of two rope when one rope finish burn. Time when two rope finish burn: forty-five minutes."

Celrys nodded. “Two men stand before two doors; only one can take you to your destination. One man only tells the truth, the other tells only lies. With only one question, how would you learn from them which door to choose?”

The underlying language of a good riddle was pure logic, as was Del's. The overlying language still needed some work, a piecemeal of limited vocabulary and patchwork mimicry. Thus some words, and their adjoined meanings, slipped through the myriad cracks.

<<Clarification.>>

"Query: what truth is? What lies is?"

Celrys perked up, sitting upright. “Truth is fact. Lies are not. For instance, it would be true to say that my name is Celrys; it would be a lie to claim that my name is Skyra Daring.”

Rapid extrapolation.

<<Facts, not. Truth, lies. One man would tell door to destination. One man would tell door not to destination. One question.>>

An answer in the form of a—

"Query: which door would not-you man tell to choose?” The meaning was hopefully communicated adequately.

“Would you walk through the door the man answers with, or the other?”

"Other door. Truth-man tell lies-door that lies-man tell. Lies-man tell lies-door that lies-man lies that truth-man tell. Truth. Lies." Cement filling cracks.

“Perfect. One last puzzle: A woman orders a prosthetic right arm. She pays up-front. The parts are acquired only after she makes her order, to her specification, and it is tailored specifically for her. Once it is complete, she immediately claims it, and it is installed. Has it always been her arm?”

Another linguistic trait to experiment with. An impressive five seconds passed.

"...Yes. Always been her arm, not always been her arm."

Celrys was absolutely beaming; if not for his earlier denial, he would seem every bit the proud parent. “Absolutely fantastic. This is simply marvellous.”

He turned his chair to face Skyra. “Well, bad news first: Del here is dealing with some serious brain damage. It would take tests I’d rather not subject them to in order to confirm the exact cause and nature, but as you yourself have doubtless noticed, amnesia is the primary symptom.”

Skyra nods solemnly, even the driver knowing when to be serious. “Right, I figured something like that was up.”

He looked once again to Del. “The good news is that your short-term memory is in perfect working order, and your other cognitive functions are performing remarkably well, especially given the circumstances. There are only two lingering questions that remain: the first is your ability to convert short-term memories into long-term, and the second is the matter of your nervous system at large. I would like to observe you over the course of the next few days – not twenty-four seven, just a few check-ups – and, in addition to this, I would like to perform another test tomorrow. This one would be rather… different, in format, focusing primarily on your adrenal response and your physical coordination. Is this acceptable to the both of you?”

<<Memory. . .>>

As with many other things, the capacity for long-term memory had not occurred to Del. They set about performing an assessment of the events of the last few days, their own internal diagnostic; back past the long drive across the roiling dunes, the faces of denizens of a dive bar in Atero, waking up in a training ground tended to by a kindly Agori couple. Beyond that, there was... there was…

A voice but no words. An answer but no answer.

"Brain damage. Del I... damage?" they said more to themself than either Celrys or Skyra. Subjectivity and unsurety crept back into their voice. One would almost swear their tone was troubled. The truth of their scenario eluded them.

Truth. It was vital they know. Anything less than optimal was un—

"Acceptable. Just a few check-ups. Another test tomorrow."

”Well if Del is cool with it then so am I, guess we’ll be seeing you tomorrow Doc.”

“Tomorrow, then,” Celrys said with a smile.

OOC: Big thanks to @Techn0geist and @Snelly for the jam!

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IC: Escus - Mouth of the Cave, the Valley of Death

Escus knelt at the cave's mouth as Selamat called back to the others. He stared, unblinking, into its depths. On the one hand, he was letting his eyes adjust to the stark difference in light. On the other, there was a certain fervor in the gesture. It looked almost devotional.

At once, he rose again. A thoughtful hrm emerged from the back of his throat. "Hasty, perhaps even dangerously hasty... But I concur," he said, gesturing with the head of his axe toward the mass of resting bats. He let the words hang in the air for a few seconds. "They wouldn't be sleeping in the same cave as something that would, well... eat them. Not much that wouldn't eat them that would trouble us. Unless it's something... strange. That is all to say, clear enough."

He took another step forward, past the young Glatorian. One eye shut, his head inclined to one side, Escus continued to stare into the cave.

OOC: @Burnmad @a goose @Nato G @~Xemnas~ @Toru Nui

 

IC: Lorqua - Training Ground, Outskirts of Atero

A skeptical look worn openly on her face, Lorqua followed Lutenus' lead in collecting up the Javelins—scattered around the arena as they were—and returning them to Mard and Ahmoa.

As the adrenaline of the fight left her, Lorqua's other concerns came to the fore. If they wanted to know more about what was going on with that Ferrumite Glatorian who had stumbled into the bar, it seemed like these two were the ones to ask. Lutenus couldn't be planning to just walk right out of here, without taking such a beautiful opportunity, could he?

Even if he was, Lorqua would dare anything. She couldn't resist some probing. "You two gentlemen must be going Grand-Tournament-way eventually, yeah? Hard to imagine a pair of trainers like yourselves wouldn't be tournament fans on top of that."

OOC: @Toru Nui @Techn0geist

 

IC: Skrall - Markets, the Bone Hunter Stronghold

Skrall's glance follows the others', the instincts of a unit—or a herd—easily taking over. The sight of the once-Skrall makes his teeth clench. He's never seen one from this close. To know that any one of them could be so reduced is troubling. His nostrils flare. The air of the marketplace at once seems sickly. A miasma.

"If they see that more than they see us," he says, speaking quietly. "It would give anyone strange ideas. But out here... what do we do?" It seemed as important a question as any; being observed by what-was-once-Skrall, and observing in turn. Were Skrall simply to turn away? Skrall was asking for the purposes of unit cohesion, of course, but also because he had absolutely no idea.

OOC: @a goose @Mel @Vezok's Friend @Burnmad @Toru Nui

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IC: Mard & Ahmoa - Training Ground, outskirts of Atero

Play it cool, Ahmoa thought, planting the handle-end of the axe in the sand and crossing his hands atop the blade. "You're right on one count, ma'am, but sadly mistaken on another. We follow the Grand Tournament season as closely as we can, we could be said to be "fans"; alas our position does not afford us the luxury of travelling to see the bouts themselves."

Play it cool, Mard thought, awkwardly hugging the bundle of javelins to his chest and trying not to let any spill. "Yeah, we don't own this joint, we're just staff. Our boss, that's the lucky sonovabitch who jets all across the desert for the Gee-Tee. And every other damn fight. 'Business trips', my be-hind." Mard had no fear of admonishment for his comments, given the target of them was scarcely present for anyone to report them.

Ahmoa was caught halfway between rolling his eyes and chuckling at Mard as he shuffled away to stow the javelins in the equipment shed, deciding on neither. "We look after the grounds while the proprietor is tending to his many-other ventures. As such, it is rare for us to attend Tournament matches even when they come Atero-way, given those tend to be our busiest seasons." The Vulcanusian put on his best customer-facing smile. "Don't fret, after tonight's performance we'll be sure to keep an eye and ear out for your names in the Tournament roster. Should either of you make it to the Atero stages, and if fortune smiles on us, you may even see us ring-side." He didn't even tell this to every client, honest.

"You'll definitely see me at the betting tables!" Mard exclaimed as he returned, dusting off his hands. "Lorqua, your odds just went up." His excitement was only half-put-on, the green guard known to make the odd wager.

"It would only be fair for me to put some coinage down on Lutenus here, then." Ahmoa replied with a grin, and no intent of following through on that.

 

OOC: @oncertainty @Toru Nui Apologies! I've been remiss in posting these boys for some months now 😅

Edited by Techn0geist
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The Writer Formerly Known as Zeal
BZPRPG Profiles
Ghosts of Bara Magna Profiles

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IC: Jeizmel, Tajun Streets

As Vraek had noticed, evening was rapidly drawing in; and down here below surface level the shadows were already long. Getting work would have to wait until the next day; for now, Jeiz figured her more pressing concern had to be finding a room at an inn. From there, maybe she could talk to the owner in the morning, see if they were hiring any extra hands during the tournament season; and so with that thought in mind, Jeizmel glanced around for the nearest signs pointing in the direction of the Arena.

She pointedly ignored the various rustles and sounds of the oncoming Tajun night, the subtle hints in the shadows that pointed towards petty crimes being planned to carry out once the cover of darkness fell. Wasn't her business, not here so far from her treasured home of Iconox... still, Jeiz fingered her new bracelet, wondering if even here she couldn't do something. Waiting tables in some bar might pay her way through life, but wouldn't be satisfying; maybe Tajun had some kind of law enforcement that she could hook up with, do a bit of good for her living even in this cesspool of a town.

A thought for the morning.

She scampered through the last fading slivers of daylight. The Arena Hotel was probably way out of her budget, if they even had free rooms this close to the tournament which she doubted; but surely there were other less-prestigious places to stay around, too. Just had to find one.

 

ooc: Jeizmel is open to interaction!

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"New legends awake, but old lessons must be remembered.
For that is the way
of the BIONICLE."

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IC: Tueris (Staff NPC; Valley of Death)

Though Tueris looked unimpressed with the quiver in the the Vulcanusian’s voice and the condescending tone of the Tajunian, he held his tongue, and nodded.

“Alright. We rest here, and keep watch in two-person shifts. I’ll take the first, and the rest of you can decide the remaining assignments amongst yourselves.”

He walked towards the cave as he spoke, hardly even looking at the rest of the party.

OOC: @Burnmad @oncertainty @~Xemnas~ @Toru Nui @Nato G

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[BZPRPG PROFILES]

Nikarra - Kaelynn - Ronan - Muir - Donal Aerus - Montague - Kira - KouraLearu - Alteora - Fuacht - Caana Nessen - Merrill

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IC: Gayle - Iron Canyon Cave

No one wants to stand watch, she thought to herself, resisting the temptation to give voice to the remark. Instead, she said "I'm happy to take the next watch," and followed Tueris towards the cave. 

OOC: @Burnmad @oncertainty @~Xemnas~ @Toru Nui @a goose

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Embers - A Bionicle Saga - Chapters/Review

Class Is Out - A Farewell To Corpus Rahkshi - Chapters/Review

BZPRPG Characters - Minnorak, Kain, T'harrak, Savis, Vazaria, Lash

BZPRPG Mercenary Group - The Outsiders - Description - History - Base

Ghosts Of Bara Magna - Ash Tribe - Precipere - Kehla, Somok, Skrall, Gayle, Avinus, Zha'ar

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