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[Nobilis] Evil Friends


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CHAPTER ONE - "Plastic Soldiers"

"You can drift along
You've got the time
The rest of us will live and die
Like plastic soldiers
Only growing older"

The Lonely Serpent moves through the world. She is predator and prey. She is enormous and titanic, yet subtle and insubstantial. You feel her when your bones ache before rain, or when you intensely feel the loss of a loved one. You know her throughout the novel as the action drives forward and become more intimate with her when the story comes to a close. Her children are gone, dead, buried, or recently reborn, recreated, and renewed. She is ancient. She is mighty.

She is Lonely. Onward, she slithers.


Alone among her Celestial Brothers and Sisters, Attaris II is within the Osseous Temple that is her mistress' heart. She remembers when her dark father brought her here, made his deal with the Lonely Serpent, and then left without another word. Since that fateful day this has been her only home.

The Evil World creatures just remind her of her past.

The command center of the Osseous Temple is the nerve cluster at the heart of this inner world. From here technomagical computers of gold and bone read out status and locations of the Chancel's military beasts and quasi-human inhabitants. From here she can take in the entirety of the Chancel, from the windswept Calcified Islands, to the Smoking Jungles of Sahara, to the empty and mournful Marrow Sea where dragons once swam. From here she could see through the eyes of her Ymera, witness the Mythic World from the perspective of a constantly moving, constantly changing god-snake slithering across the continent.

From here she could even influence where her master was going.

So where was Attaris II directing the Lonely Serpent? Though everyone else may have had reasons to be out and about, the Domina Terminus was here within her Ymera and Chancel for a reason. She had somewhere she wanted the Osseous Temple to go. Where was that and why?


Nick Hill's Detective Agency wasn't necessarily a short walk from the Town of Obscurity, but to Excie Davis it represented the possibility of finding her true home, her true family. She had been following the GPS instructions of her magical cell phone and the obedient wizard trapped within it for miles, taking buses, taxi cabs and eventually walking through the big city on foot. It had been quite the trip, filled with people and places that frankly, Excie and her friends from home weren't entirely ready to see.

To them, you see, the world had ended years ago. Though they were all healthy young people and attended Obscurity's college they were all labouring under the opinion that the world outside their home town had been utterly destroyed and all of this, all of these streets, signs, smells and sounds, all of it wasn't supposed to be here. And yet, it was.

The wizard didn't lie. Excie began to realize Hather Cristnos, on the other hand, obviously had. Why? Why was he keeping all of this from her?

The cell phone told her where to go and who to talk to. Nick Hill was a detective who specialized in the weird sort of cases like Excie's. The phone promised that getting to him was the first step to solving her personal mysteries.

When the young woman and her three friends waltzed into Nick's office he was ready for them. He was used to strange folk coming and going, roping him into strange adventures and dark mysteries. Nick Hill was the Marquis of Smoke and he had seen his share of the inexplicable in the short few years he had been able to claim that title. But it wasn't his brilliant deduction that led him to set out the welcome mat and clear up a block of his time.

No, he had been warned. By his Ymera. The Lonely Serpent rumbled in the skies, swimming above the smog of the industrial sectors. From on high she hissed her cryptic warnings. A lost sister would enter his office and be in great need. That was the entirety of the message.

So, what was Nick Hill's office like? What did Excie and her three friends see when they walked into the building? What was Nick doing and what first impression did he make on what could very well be his sister? Likewise, who was Excie Davis and her friends? How did they dress, how did they act? And what would they ask this magical detective now that they had found him?


The Lonely Serpent, as any Ymera is wot, is known to have strange requests for her loyal Sovereigns. Some, like Artus Gwint, are very self-motivated, secluding themselves in their secret lairs and occupying themselves with their private goals. Others, like Roger Gothic, were always willing to do an errand or two for the god-snake that saved his life. Especially if that errand required cooking.

Deep in his marrow, Roger heard his mistress' words. Brother Artus required a feast. One fit for at least two dragons. He had not eaten in a long while and though he may not have realized, today was the anniversary of his Commencement, when he was baptized by fire and became the Dominus Dracones. Roger easily remembered his own Commencement, when he was rescued at the last moment from a Deceiver who had lied away his flesh, his muscles, his blood. It was a day to be commemorated after all and if Artus wasn't going to make an appearance at the Osseous Temple than the celebration would just have to come to him. So sayeth the Lonely Serpent.

That's how we come to find a living skeleton with the power of a demigod waltzing through Mythic Wales. This was a land rife with magic and mystery, where heroes and monsters battled and their shadows still cast long upon the landscape. Fae danced among the secret places and somewhere deep within the country Roger would find his brother's lair.

Artus slept upon his treasure in the massive golden dragon form that was the symbol of his divine might. He had no idea he was about to receive several visitors. He had been busy with his Anchor, the Red Dragon, but what exactly was he up all night doing? What plans and schemes were these two up to that led them to forsake dinner? Had he forgotten about his Commencement celebration or was he deliberately avoiding his Familia?

And what was Roger bringing his brother? Did he plan to make something there in his underground lair, or was he bringing the feast with him? He could see the cavern in the distance and knew he had to prepare himself. He might be a fearsome Noble but his brother was known to be a bit ... difficult.


In an orphanage on the mean streets the lonely and lost children of society cling to what myths and stories they can tell each other in the cold dark of the night. The fairy tales and soap operas don't speak to the realities of every day life in the gutter for these sad youths. So they tell stories of The Orphan, the patron saint of their kind, who watches over them and helps those most in need. Some may outgrow these stories while others realize how badly they need them when the world drops out from under them and they find themselves in some new strange reality.

The Orphan was real. Her name was Duri.

Well, she was quasi-real. More real than most myths but less real than most Nobles. A victim of her own powers, Duri flitted barely there amongst her orphanages looking for those in need, those unable to extricate themselves from their bad situations. With half a scissor in hand she readied herself for the painful process of freeing people. She listened to the orphans whisper her legends, smiled and kept doing her rounds.

Her barely there ears pricked up. She heard the sound of a man she recognized talking in the front office. Quickly manifesting downstairs, The Orphan saw her Celestial Brother, Nate Faulker, kicking off the dust of the road in her orphanage's waiting room, talking to the receptionist.

Nate had business here. In this orphanage there was a boy named Harry. This boy had once had a father. That father was now dead. Nate Faulker blamed himself for this boy being an orphan, being in this place. After all, it was his commands that had sent the boy's father to his death. One ghost among many haunting the Dominus Moto, but one with a legacy. When he found himself in this city with a bit of time to spare he made a habit of coming and visiting Harry. He was old enough now he might be able to explain some things to him.

Duri is hard to see, especially in the Prosaic World. She could easily follow Nate on his rendezvous with the boy and watch unnoticed. How would she reveal herself if she decided to? What would she think about her brother's visit? And what could Faulker possibly say to the young Harry to ever make up for what was lost?
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Yr Wyddfak, Cymru (Mount Snowdon, Wales)

Things are in motion. Plans and convolutions twist and turn through the world. Artus dreams of the world in the making, the rebirth of a better world.

He had been busy with his Anchor, the Red Dragon, but what exactly was he up all night doing?
Last Night...
Y Ddraig Goch and Y Ddraig Euraidd both came to Yr Wyddfak. Y Ddraig Goch came with vengeance burning the flames of her heart. But, the flame of her hate was nothing to the greed that burns through Y Ddraig Euraidd. Golden talons broke the will of the red, pushing her down to the earth, and whispering in her ear in old Welsh:

"Shall I take your will away again? Shall I make you nothing more than the treasures you wish back?"

"This is my home!" Y Ddraig Goch hissed.

"Not. Any. More." With each word, Y Ddraig Goch put a little more pressure. Blood burned out, smoking and bubbling.

Then Y Ddraig Euraidd did as he always did when his subordinate tried to reclaim her place. He dragged her to the pool beneath Yr Wyddak, where once she and Y Ddraig Gwyn slept, free of their wars. The pool boiled with Y Ddraig Goch's heat, but Y Ddraig Euraidd held her down until the water grew calm again.

He released her, and shed his dragon form, standing again as Artus Gwilt. "Please tell me there is another reason you came here tonight," he said as he flexed his fingers and stretched his back. Human spines are such stiff and unuseful things.

Y Ddraig Goch came up from the waters, dripping and angry, but no longer lost to her passions. "You are going to destroy Cymru."

Artus waved an arm dismissively, the fingers splayed strangely. Artus shook them out, aware of the difference in phalanges. "Cymru has been too long under the Saesneg yoke. This cannot stand."

"The nation prospers under this arrangement. The land has not been attacked for over two centuries!"

"And the land has not grown for four hundred years!" Artus shouted back "Is this to be the legacy of the Cymric? To bow and scrape to the Saesneg, like dogs around the table?"

"The Cymric and the Saesneg are equal now, their kingdom-"

"Their kingdom is led by a Queen too weak to use what little power she has left! Their kingdom is a blight upon the land destined to self destruct, if it is not swept away in the Valde Bellum. Cymru is weak, the Earth is weak. We are hiding our heads in the sand, even while the enemy draws blades against us. We present ourselves for the invaders to rape us and slit our throats. The world dies, because we treasure this false world more than the harsh truth before us. Children playing at peace, when the war is at our door."

"This ends in war in your homeland! With the castles pillaged, the people slaughtered!"

"We are already at war. This ends with everyone knowing it."

What plans and schemes were these two up to that led them to forsake dinner?
The seeds to victory were already planted. This argument had no hope of changing anything. Cymru would be breaking its bonds with the Saesneg, as surely as they severed themselves from Europe. And that would only be the start of it. Already Artus was raising the land to purpose. Its flowers grew more thickly, its people more sturdy, ideas stronger and fiercer. It was in the soil, it was in the air, but most of all it was woven into the nation.

Y Draig Goch debated and argued with Artus over his plans for the nation, even submitting so far as to assist his plotting, though ever so much more cautious than he. Always trying to temper the steel of his purpose. Artus tried to listen to her counsel, despite his pride and his certainty of her weakness. She meant well, and had served as protector of Cymru far longer than he.

So, deep into night they plotted, until even the endurance of the Nobilis failed, and Artus took the form of Y Ddraig Eurraid and cast Y Ddraig Goch out by force. Then he fell to sleeping in his tomb, the treasures and substance of the place relaxing in his dreams.

Had he forgotten about his Commencement celebration or was he deliberately avoiding his Familia?
Artus wakes knowing exactly what day it is. His coin burns in his mind, memories from dreams drift like lingering kitchen smells. It would be a few days before he celebrates properly. He celebrated a year and a day after his enNoblement, and a year and a day after each celebration. It brought good luck, and pleased the Coin.

But, Artus's personal celebrations were not the feast and partying that made such hoopla in the Society of Flowers. Last time he'd spent it unearthing the Pais Badarn Beisrydd. The famed red coat had been little more than a tattered scrap of red cloth, but when Artus slept with it, it was restored to its fullness and more. Best of all, either Artus had better breeding than he thought, or the coat recognized his status as Nobilis, because it fit perfectly. Artus shook off his scales and took his human form.

"What does a year matter?" Artus asks his coin. "The world does not revolve around the Sun. Shall we mark time by false passages as these?"

He flips the coin and plucks it from the air. It fits perfectly in his palm. He smiles and lets its cold heviness settle on him.

The Lonely Serpent will send someone. She would be concerned that he wasn't in her shifting Chancel. As though her temple were his home. A place to celebrate his emergence.

It wasn't that Artus wasn't grateful, or disliked his Familia. He just couldn't abide by all the babying. They were supposed to be warriors standing against the greatest enemy, and yet they gathered in the Serpent, like infant crocodiles in their mother's mouth. They needed to marshal forces, build fortresses, prepare Earth for the worst.

These are the things Artus tells himself, to hide the fact he hated to feel so small inside the belly of the beast.

She'd send Roger, he decides. Possibly others with him, but definitely Roger.

Artus had sent invitations a month ago. Select friends and acquaintances. A few old enemies.

Not to Yr Wyddfak, of course. His personal tomb was no place for this kind of thing. Nor any of his personal homes. He'd acquired a cottage for days like this. A small place in the country overgrown with beautiful flowers and ivy, carefully arranged and placed to cloak itself from the divinations of the world.

Artus emerges from his tomb to stand atop the mountain and wait. He doesn't like people entering his sanctum, and it seals its tunnels behind him. It won't stop a truly determined, but it will keep mortals and most others out.

Artus fits the landscape like he belongs there, having walked out of a fairytale. His long red hair is braided back in a thick tangle, and his beard likewise. The red coat goes down to halfway down his thighs, and though the clothing beneath it is thoroughly modern, it fits in with a casual elegance that makes the anachronisms at hand blend together seamlessly. He fiddles with his coin while waiting for Roger.


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Roger Gothic

That's how we come to find a living skeleton with the power of a demigod waltzing through Mythic Wales. This was a land rife with magic and mystery, where heroes and monsters battled and their shadows still cast long upon the landscape. Fae danced among the secret places and somewhere deep within the country Roger would find his brother's lair.
Of course, if a hypothetical observer were to be around, they wouldn't see a living skeleton. They'd see a man. Ok, so the mind might slide off particulars of skin color, hair, eyes, weight, other distinguishing features. So what? It's always been said that clothes make the man, and that man was wearing one nice suit. Only someone tuned into the true magic of reality could pick up the whistling figure of bones.

And what was Roger bringing his brother? Did he plan to make something there in his underground lair, or was he bringing the feast with him? He could see the cavern in the distance and knew he had to prepare himself. He might be a fearsome Noble but his brother was known to be a bit ... difficult.
Roger knew the drill by now. Artus preferred the cottage for these visits to the underground lair. Roger approved of this, as they made more homey surroundings. What disappointed him was Artus' desire to hide out down there instead of the Chancel. Private time was one thing, but they were a Familia! By the very name, they were stronger together than apart, and would be happier there.

Regardless, at least Roger could provide some hearty cooking to get Artus feeling better. In a bag slung over his shoulder were tupperware containers with appetizers. Sure, Roger could conjure up the meals fully cooked and ready, but that was missing the point. Only in an appropriately emergency situation would he consider such a thing. At most, he would use it to secure the necessary ingredients for his recipes.

The Greek salad and hors d'oeuvres would suffice to put something in Artus' belly, while the skeletal chef prepared the various entrees on location. Roger was smiling when he met his brother.

"You really need to stop making a habit of this. Not that I mind the travel, but Commencement aniversaries should be celebrated together."


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Artus sees Roger's approach, and spreads out a pair of golden wings, with which he glides down to the mountains base to meet his Brother.

"You really need to stop making a habit of this. Not that I mind the travel, but Commencement aniversaries should be celebrated together."
"Hale and well met to you, too," Artus said, still in Cymric. Artus shrugged elaborately at the question. "No one said the Familia couldn't come. You're the one setting up the party, invite whom you like. If the Chancel is so important, hold it there. I shall follow.
"Commencement is about more than simply Familia, if you ask me. It is one's induction into the Society of Flowers. It seems churlish to celebrate in a place of partisan power."

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Nick Hill

The detective agency started classy. Modern. Contemporary business casual so that Hill and those he hired looked like employees of a tech startup that got folded into an established company. Lots of glass and an open concept so that people knew it wasn't about hiding and secrets here but getting answers. Even as the weird stuff started rolling in, they kept up appearances. When incense started being in among the employees, some sort of instinctive reaction to the odd customers coming through, it managed to hold up appearances.

Even as Nick started smoking his cigars in the office and found himself sliding into the part of a haggard detective, he tried to keep it looking modern. But all that glass got grimy with the smoke. So he gave in. The place becoming more like a cigar club, a place to sit down and relax and tell Nick what haunted you while nodding assistants took notes and started arranging logistics.

With a client coming from his Ymera, Nick has the good stuff out. Signs of the agency's temporal success, the cuban cigars and the top shelf alcohol, but also the odd and not particularly useful tokens of appreciation from other EnNobled along with a bank note with a star eyed monarch on it as the first bit of cash earned from an Excrucian. It would be important for the possible sister to see she was trusting her problems to someone who could handle them, so she didn't go off and try and get help from someone who didn't care about the truth.


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Duri sat on the windowsill in the girl's bathroom on the second floor. It would have been cold, if her insubstantial body had any warmth to give. She was listening to the little girl sobbing quietly in one of the stalls. Not a big deal, all things considered. Some quarrel between children, no need for her to intervene. Not yet.
Feelings of betrayal, of being set apart. Small, inconsequential, something the girl would probably not even remember when she grew older.

But still, her feelings were valid. They were worth witnessing. In this moment, even though the girl would never know, she was being heard by a god. The moment passed and Duri hopped onto the wet bathroom floor. There was no splash, her feet didn't get wet. She looked over to the mirror and saw the familiar emptiness. If she had a mirror image though, she'd see a girl of korean descent, looking about 16 years of age. Thin, a bit short for her age, hair white as bone tucked beneath a pink hoodie and jeans with actual wear and tear.

She took her phone from one of the hoodie-pockets and typed a quick message.

Duri said: >Caesar, girl's restroom, 2nd floor, water everywhere, needs cleanup

Caesar said: As you wish, My Lady. It might take a bit of time, however.

Duri said: Stop it with the bs and get your metal butt up here.

Caesar said: I am afraid I am overburdened with fragile cargo at the moment. I shall send someone with haste.

Duri shook her head and continued downstairs, dodging a rampaging band of children with one of the caretakers right behind them. The building was old and a bit anachronistic in these times. Set apart from the rest of town.
Duri wasn't sure if it had always been this way or if it was her influence on the place. The St. Artus Home for Children had piqued her interest and she had invested a whole deal in it. Naming it after herself seemed inappropriate, since she liked being kind of anonymous, so she named it after the most selfish person she knew, instead. She didn't really know what her brother thought of that, but he rarely betrayed anything and seemed content to do his thing in Wales.

Duri had plans for the place, although Nate being tied up in it as well made that more different. Or perhaps the opposite. She should just talk to him one of these days.

A message came in.

Echo said: Hi, Duri! I've got news! (^~^)

Duri said: ?

Echo said: It's 🐉's what's-it-called day and 🐍 sent 💀 to make a party or something. Didn't get the details (T⌓T)

Duri said: Ah, right...
Duri said: Wonder why they didn't say anything...
Duri said: Anyway, keep up the good work

Echo said: Roger! (★^O^★)
Well, Artus was not one for parties. Still, it had been quite some time since they had all been together. She saw Caesar walk across the room, with a bunch of children hanging from his arms, an apologetic smile on his face. How he kept his suit clean while attack by toddlers from all sides was a mystery as usual.

She stopped at the bottom of the stairs, watching Nate talk to the receptionist. She appreciated that he took the time to visit the kid, be it out of obligation or genuine affection. It was important to keep track of the small things.
She considered if she should say something, then just pulled out her phone.

Duri said: Welcome >TheFlashButCool
Duri said: Here to see Harry again?
Spoiler: Show

I will regret using the text message thing, I know it...
Anyway, I have decided this orphanage is the one where the weird children are (Duri's anchors) and that there will be a project to make the orphanage part of the Chancel.

TheFlashButCool is Nate, Duri has various nicknames for her Siblings and just uses the real names for her anchors. She can directly text to your brain, so it can just be like a telepathic conversation for anyone who doesn't have / doesn't want to use a phone or other device.


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Nate felt his phone buzz and pulled it from the pocket of his khakis. He finished signing himself in and then pulled it free, idly scratching behind Rex's ears where he sat patient and quiet beside Nate. Seeing the message he looked up, wondering if Duri was there or just watching from afar. It was always hard to tell. Sometimes he'd catch something if he looked hard enough, a trace of motion with nothing there, but other times she could be standing still beside him and he wouldn't have a clue. He flashed a grin in the direction of the stairs, figuring it was the most likely place she'd be and at worst he'd just look a little silly.

He started typing one-handedly. If this was how she wanted to talk, he'd play along.

Duri said: Here to see Harry again?
Nate said: Yep! :)
Nate said: I was in the area so I thought I'd drop in.
Nate said: Hope you don't mind.
Nate was still feeling his way out on that. This was her turf, after all, even if he had an interest in one of the residents. He didn't want to intrude or disrupt things more than necessary. She didn't seem like the territorial or jealous sort of Power, but it was hard to tell without the usual visual or audible cues.

Spoiler: Show
Hey, at least you didn't give yourself any sort of complicated typing quirk!


Has Gone Matchmaker Mad
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TheFlashButCool said: Hope you don't mind.

Duri said: It's ok! Don't worry. It's not like I'm officially running the place anyway. I'm just helping out, really.

Duri said: I was wondering if you had any plans for his future. The staff does notice that you visit but don't seem to want to adopt him.

Duri said: Damn, that sounds like I'm trying to guilt trip you or something.

Duri said: Just... it might be better for him if he finds a new family, you know?
Duri felt out for the staff of the Orphanage. How had Harry been doing recently?

Spoiler: Show

Using a lvl 2 Treasure Miracle... Guidance I think is called? Subtly communicating with the staff to find out how Harry is doing.


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Nate frowned just a moment, because she wasn't wrong. An orphanage wasn't a good place for any kid, and since coming into his power he'd thought of finding some way to pluck Harry out. He just wasn't quite sure whether that'd be better than letting the adoption thing run its usual course. Surely someone would want him sooner rather than later, right, even if he wasn't an adorable baby or toddler?

Nate: Yeah I know it'd be better and I hope he finds a family
Nate: But I can't adopt him myself
Nate: Either I'd be a bad dad
Nate: or I'd end up being super illegal while LE's daughter is right there
Nate: or both
Nate: I probably should not have put that in text lol
Nate: Also we live in a giant snake, do we even have a good school district?


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Duri said: Yes, don't think that would work out. Still, he is already connected to you, whether you want to or not.
Duri said: I'm worried my own investment in this place has already caused the dharma of Separation to seep in a bit. Setting it apart from the rest of the world.
Duri said: I need a place like this though, for those who don't have any place in the mundane world. I think I will pull it into the Chancel eventually, so that they have a save haven. Just a heads up.
Duri said: ...
Duri said: Not that I know how to do something like that lol
Duri walked up to her brother and brushed over Rex's fur briefly. Animals always had an easier time sensing her.

"I don't know why I find to hard to talk to people.", she said to Nate, separating her voice from herself so it could reach, "Not being real isn't really a hindrance for a Noble. I shouldn't delay you any longer, Harry is probably waiting."
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