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Ghosts of Bara Magna


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IC: Lutenus (Outskirts of Atero, Training Ground) - Eye See You

The Glatorian’s head snaps to gaze down on Mard and Ahmoa, cyber-eye looming over them, as if looking straight through them. His smile said ‘OK, I believe you,’ but his eye said ‘you ####ing liars’. “Kind of you to say, but there’s no need for…”

But then, his voice trails off, and his smile fades, replaced by tiredness and confusion. For… for… for… The eye loses focus on the two Agori and the aperture begins opening and closing rapidly while making noises it probably shouldn’t be making. “For your ah, ‘pity bet’, as it were.” He finishes, and suddenly its as if nothing strange happened at all, and he begins to walk away. But then…

“Well, we should be going - oh!” As he pretends to only now suddenly remember, he stops and turns back to the training ground proprietors. “I never asked. Who was that Iron Glatorian you were with, earlier? I believe I vaguely remember them from somewhere…” He did not, of course, but moving his gaze towards the horizon while holding his chin in his left hand in thought may convince them he did.

@Techn0geist @oncertainty

 

IC: Vraek (Tajun Arena, Hotel Reception) - No Reservations About a Reservation

Though she had briefly entertained notions of letting Jeizmel stay with her at her lodgings in Tajun, Vraek knew this couldn’t be so. Her room at the arena’s hotel would be a one-Glatorian sized room - if Metus knew what was good for him that was, as bookings for people who weren’t named Strakk or Gelu were under his jurisdiction. Or at least, Strakk was. Gelu had quit and taken up a disreputable mercenary profession. Which left the position of Iconox’s Second Glatorian open… not that Vraek cared about that sort of thing. She didn’t. Didn’t at all.

Catching a brief glance of what she assumed was just a sleeping vagrant and not the recently murdered body of Tajun’s Atero councilor, she enters the arena building.

Vraek walks up the counter and dings the bell. Reserved or not, she refused to spend the night in Scarabax’s Delight. Again.

@a goose

 

IC: Taldrix (Bone Hunter Stronghold, the Tower) - Be Aware of His Stinger Tail!

She was beginning to doubt that the Ghost respected anything, much less his own people-

Wait… four eyes… were… could the Zesk… the Sand Tribe… what?!

Taldrix wants to look to see if there was a stinger tail or a scar where a tail would be on the Ghost’s waist, but there’s no way for her to do that without looking like she was checking out his-

“No sir, I believe that’s everything. I’ll continue to monitor the Aula Agoria and report on her condition.”

@a goose

 

IC: Xyde (Iron Canyon, Cave) - Bat Cave

“I’ll take third.” Xyde trudges into the cave alongside the others. It didn’t seem any more inviting than the valley itself, but it was a shelter - in the same vein that a dagger was a scalpel.

They imagine that this is the sort of place that Ash Agori were expected to live in and swap stories about any recently ‘defiled’ graves. What was it with people demanding that their belongings be buried alongside them? They were DEAD. Did they think they’d be able to take their prized possessions with them into that undiscovered country, from which no traveler returns?

Hopefully, the people of Ferrum hadn’t been summoned to that place just yet…

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

Edited by Toru Nui
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IC: Selamat - Iron Canyon Cave

Selamat nodded as Tueris spoke. "I can take the first watch as well," he said. Better now than later; he was already on-edge with adrenaline, and when that subsided would come the crash.

OOC: @a goose

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Posted (edited)

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

You stare.
 

 

It is not the disgust in her face, or the faces of the other Skralll.  you expect this—you understand it.  you are disgusting.

it must be a trick of the light, some new malfunction that turns teal to an impossible red.   and yet, she does not walk hooded, does not carry herself like someone whose very thoughts have power.  She is beautiful, yes, and those less experienced than you mistake beauty for that power.   But you have seen the beauty of the warrior women of the south, held in their well-worn weapons and sand-carved scars.  It is not the beauty of a Sister.  You, of all people, know this. And yet this women is Skrall.   You ears tell you, if not your eyes.  Skrall and not a Sister.   Skrall can be women and not Sisters.  Then—

what was it all for.

You cannot hold yourself up and slump against the wall, twisting as the harsh notes of your breath return, different this time. Anger is a foreign beast to you, you have not allowed it for so long, and it burns behind your eyelids even as you close them, praying for the strength to once again look out that window and see that vision not there.

you are in that room again, before they took you away.  you know you are not-skrall.  you are un-skrall, a mistake necessary for the future of the legion.   you must be.  Unless they lied, unless she lied.

The anger crawls out of your throat in dry ragged sobs.  You are disgusting, worth nothing, not even to the future of the legion.

A legion that lies, a desperate thought assures you, does not deserve a future.



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

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: Escus - The Cave, the Valley of Death

"Hrm," Escus grunted, and set down the axe in the sand. It was only a moment before he lowered himself to the ground as well. "I'll take the next watch, then. The second. The one where I get to sleep before and after."

He chuckled, a hollow and humourless sound. He laid in repose, propped against the cave wall. With one hand he shifted his helmet forewards, covering his eyes. Even in the darkness of the cave, he needed more to have a chance at sleep. The heat troubled him.

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

 

IC: Lorqua - Training Ground, Outskirts of Atero

Lorqua couldn't help but smile. She turned away from the others, Lutenus and the Agori both, and looked towards the horizon. She shouldn't have doubted the Glatorian, nor that whirring sparking thing he had grafted into his head. Not for a second. Lutenus was sharp, at least.

"Lutenus here knows a lot of people," she says, nodding, her back still turned. "Lot of friends, more acquaintances. In fact, that's the only reason I'm doing this tournament business at all. Not usually my scene. If you want to bet on me, well, thank him."


OOC: @Toru Nui @Techn0geist

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IC: Tueris (Staff NPC; Valley of Death)

Tueris nodded. “Looks like you’re on third, Ferrum.”

As the others settled in to rest, he found a spot near the cave mouth where he could sit semi-comfortably with his back against the wall, and turned his eye to the canyon.

OOC: @~Xemnas~ @Burnmad

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IC: Selamat - Iron Canyon Cave (First Watch)

Selamat stepped over to the spot where Tueris had sat himself, and lowered himself to a cross-legged position a short distance away. There he sat, watching the outside, which was dead still but for the occasional stream of sand blown over the lip of the canyon by the winds which raged across the desert above. His spear lay in front of him, easy to reach in case a threat should appear. His hands, free of its weight for the first time in some hours, now rested in his lap. His back was straight, body almost in a meditative posture, if not for the fact that meditation would be rather difficult with the amount of cortisol still flowing through his veins.

He did not speak to his watch partner. Not yet, anyhow. He wasn't sure how to start a conversation with someone like Tueris. In a way, he had the elder Glatorian at somewhat of a disadvantage. He had seen Tueris' fights when he was a youth, followed his career in the arena long before Selamat had ever stepped onto those sands himself. Tueris, on the other hand, had likely only ever seem him once or twice as anything other than a member of the mass of onlookers in the arena stands, and then only in passing. He wondered if Tueris even knew he was an arena hopeful-- perhaps, he thought, the Second Glatorian would be more optimistic about this expedition through the Iron Canyon if he knew how many hours Selamat had spent practicing? Something told him: Probably not. But, perhaps he might at least get enough of a sense of his younger Glatorian's dedication to Vulcanus that he wouldn't conceal any more information from him.

That was the main thing Selamat wanted to discuss, and the primary reason he'd chosen this watch: Was there anything else Tueris hadn't told them yet? But his having such a topic in mind only made initiating all the more difficult, for a number of reasons. So he remained silent for the time being, waiting at least until the cadence of their companions' breaths shifted to one which suggested they were asleep.

OOC: @a goose

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IC: The Ghost (The Tower)

“Very good,” he said with a curt nod. If he had any awareness of Taldrix's renewed suspicion, he hid it well. “If you would be so kind, please close the door on your way out.”

It was not a request.

OOC: @Toru Nui

IC: Tueris (Staff NPC; Killing Time)

“Say whatever it is you want to say, boy, and put us both out of your misery.” Even as he spoke, the veteran Glatorian’s eye didn't so much as glance away from the cave opening.

OOC: @Burnmad

IC: Portia (NPC; Arena Hotel, Tajun)

As the bell's chime echoed on, Vraek was left waiting. It took almost a minute before a door opened behind the reception desk, and a bright, ruffled young Agori stepped out, smiling so widely this could only be her first customer service job.

"Welcome to the Arena Hotel!" She announced, with ear-piercing cheer. "How can I help you this evening?"

OOC: @Toru Nui

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

On 4/27/2024 at 3:17 AM, Toru Nui said:

“I never asked. Who was that Iron Glatorian you were with, earlier? I believe I vaguely remember them from somewhere…”

Mard suppressed a shudder; just when he thought they were out of the woods. He became acutely aware of their abandoned guardsman spears, leaning a short distance away against the ring fence. He sorely missed the collection of javelins he'd just stashed away. He glanced at his partner, happy to let him take the lead.

Ahmoa returned only his warm smile, the focal point of his entire world the blunt training axe under his hands. He hefted it up onto his shoulder, casual-like. In his hands, it could do little more than bruise shins.

In full focus again, both Agori experienced the crescendo of their creeping realisation; something looming, much bigger than the guardsmen, the Glatorian, Atero and the Grand Tournament. The mystery of Ferrum. The mystery of—

"Del." Ahmoa stated curtly, offering nothing more than what the cyborg had asked. He would not lie, but obfuscation was certainly in his arsenal. "That was the name they gave us."

On 5/7/2024 at 4:06 PM, oncertainty said:

"In fact, that's the only reason I'm doing this tournament business at all. Not usually my scene."

If Lorqua was to be believed, then Lutenus seemed to make a habit of casual manipulation. Mard took another angle; deflection, trying to draw at least Lorqua away from the line of inquiry. "Uhhh, what is your scene then? You've got some fighting talent, you a guard like us maybe?" A pitiable attempt at rapport-building.

 

OOC: @Toru Nui @oncertainty

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  • 4 weeks later...

IC/ Skrall/ Bonehunter Stronghold/ Markets/

The wretch still stares. Longing for what once was? Their presence here - a painful reminder.

No…not them. He does not stare at them. He stares at her.

And she finds herself staring back. No choice. 

This is what it takes.

She can feel the hands on her shoulder and neck again - forcing her to watch, to learn.

Do not look away.

Could this one actually see her for what she was? Or what she was not? Much as she tried to fight the feeling, she couldn’t help it: There was a kinship here.

Broken things, cast aside. No longer what they were meant to be. And that was perhaps the most disgusting part of it all, the part that etched the scowl onto her features as she approached the window. She knew she shouldn’t. No choice. Watch and learn.

But she was still skrall. This thing was not. Even if it saw her, the others couldn’t. They wouldn’t.

“Has it been so long that you can’t even stand the sight?” she sneered, peering into the gloom beyond the bars. 
 

OOC: @Mel @skrall

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  • 2 weeks later...

Content Warning: internalized victim blaming, allusions to sexual assault


a slave | bone hunter stronghold

the retort jolts you out of the numbness. sharp with disgust, but familiar. has it been so long?  you do not know, time has little meaning here. there is only Before and After. to long, not long enough…they seem like the same thing.

you look back outside. She is still there.  She is still red. you are still a failure.  but you still remember how this game is played.  you played it with a Sister, a far more sophisticated opponent.

“You are not a Sister.”

when was the last time you spoke? you hardly recognize your own voice caught between a question you already know the answer to and an accusation that goes far beyond her. soft, ragged from your sobs, but still clear.

She has heard it.  it is Her turn now.

OOC: @Vezok's Friend @skrall

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

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And some aren't even on your side.

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IC/ Skrall/ Bonehunter Stronghold/ Markets/

The other’s eyes still looked as if scanning for any sign of teal. Not a sister. Skrall. He got that right. 

That a once-skrall voice could ever sound like this though…it was chilling to hear. But, there was a glimmer of resistance in the words. So, not entirely broken then after all. The expression of disgust softened imperceptibly. 

“Sisters don’t see you once they’re done with you.”

The implication was clear.

You should pray He keep it that way.
 

OOC: @Mel @skrall

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IC: Lutenus (Outskirts of Atero, Training Ground) - Whispers

Del.

“Ah yes, that was the name. Del.” Lutenus repeated, feigning recognition.  “Del.” He repeats again. “Del.” And again, seemingly staring off into space, both of his eyes seeming cold and dead, some sort of buzzing clicking sound being faintly heard before he snapped back to life.

“I’ll have to speak with Del when we arrive in Tajun. I’ve heard whispers of something terrible happening in Ferrum - you haven’t heard anything yourselves, have you?

@Techn0geist @oncertainty

 

IC: Vraek (Tajun Arena, Hotel Reception) - Frosty Reception

Oh no. She couldn’t be mean to this one.

The Glatorian sighed wearily. “There is a remote possibility that I may be booked. Under ‘Vraek’. Glatorian for Iconox.”

@a goose

 

IC: Skrall (Bone Hunter Stronghold, Marketplace) - A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Lose

Skrall was very confused about the conversation his brother was having with the once-Skrall. Apparently, the once-Skrall did not feel comfortable seeing former brothers, which was understandable - less so was his brother’s need to mock him for it.

It was also odd that the once-Skrall felt the need to state that the one before him was not a Sister, which should have been obvious. Had his mind been so damaged by… whatever it was the Sisters did to him in order to conjure infant Skrall, that he had mistaken him for one of them?

He looked to the rest of his brothers, to see if they understood what was happening here.

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

 

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

“Of course, sir.”

Taldrix left, being sure to close the door, as ‘requested’. She resisted the urge to take off the device the Ghost had ordered her to place behind her ear and stomp it into little pieces.

Making her way downstairs, she considered how much of it she was to relay back to the Aula Agoria. That was the deal, of course - info about the plague for info about the Ghost - but deals could only ever end mutually beneficial if both sides had leverage. Stuck in a cell with a fatal disease, the princess didn’t really have much in the form of leverage. Not to mention the monitoring device would pick up-

Oh no.

She had to continue monitoring Somnii in order to verify the stages of the plague for the Ghost. But then her insolent tongue would undoubtedly give away their arrangement. Make it seem like she was consorting with the product for personal gain, which was true.

Rubbing her eyes with her fingers as she came to the bottom of the staircase, she wondered how exactly she was going to wriggle out of this one…

@a goose

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IC: The Ghost (XXI - The World)

Heremus sighed, finally alone once again. From one of his drawers, he produced a list – name after name after name, some crossed out, some circled, some left untouched. Taldrix's was among the spared.

He took his stylus in hand, and he smiled as he underlined it. Taldrix had been as repellent as she was intelligent, a rather singular combination; finding her was a great relief. Best of all, she knew how smart she was. He was all too familiar with that particular breed of hubris.

Still, he found that he was oddly disappointed in this outcome. Perhaps it was in Taldrix herself; it was no coincidence, that evil and ignorance so often came hand-in-hand. But here was a woman who had experienced the world's injustices firsthand, who had left the life she had known to choose for herself a new one… and the life she had chosen was so very small. A life of evil and pettiness and greed. She was intelligent, she had freed herself from the Skrall – Taldrix could have been anything at all, and still she chose to be a Bone Hunter. Some part of him had heard her story, and hoped to experience some manner of kinship. After all, hadn't he, too, dragged himself out from under the dirt? Hadn't he chosen his own destiny, against the will of the world? Hadn't he, too, found himself here, in this very compound?

But then, perhaps he gave her too much credit. She lacked vision. Just like everyone else, she saw only the world that she expected to see.

He walked, as he so often did while in the midst of such thoughts, to the north-west window. It was a peculiar kind of blindness – so many people looked, but they didn't see. So many truths seemed to be hidden in plain sight. Perhaps his clarity was simply a benefit of having that extra pair of eyes; then again, Crucius saw. Not all of it, but enough. Enough to start questioning.

Expectation was a singularly powerful force. It could make people look at a man, and see a beast; look at a stranger, and see a friend; look upon a wasteland, and see the work of the Gods.

It could make them look at a Zesk, and see a Great Being.

Or vice-versa.

Heremus stared, and as he stared he fixed his eyes upon Skull Mountain, and the eyes of the mountain stared back at him. For a moment, he wondered if he, too, could fall prey to that power – what mysteries might escape him, if he saw only that which he expected?
 

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