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IC Nobilis: Lines in the Sand

Maerok

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Nobilis: Lines in the Sand

Chapter 1: Chasing a Dream

Forty Millions of Miles From Us (Prologue)


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HW: Just checking in. Should be landing soon.

HW: Wake up.

HW: Don't be rude. Being rude is my job. :D


AA: You will burn in the Pit for your misdeeds, foul one.

MT: Where would I be if I cared what anyone thought? Lucifer is just another big gay angel as far as I'm concerned.

AA: This reign of terror will end with me. No more.

HW: Don't worry about that. Worry about what's left of your little herd back at the Stables. This will be our best one yet.

HW: Godspeed. Seeing you soon. :D


HorseWhisperer has signed off.

Chancel breach imminent.
9 seconds.
Warning! Chancel defenses holding.
8 secoǹd̷ş.
7 s̐eͩ̾͑͛͌͟c̚̕oͥn͂͛d̍s̎͒ͥ̌ͤ͞.
6̨ͧ̿ͨ̽̽̑̉ ͛̈ͭ͒̓̎̕s̀͆̐ę̊̊̒c̊̓͡ö́ń̵͊d̶̃̀͋͌͑̈́̄s͒̃ͫ̊̂̒.
5ͪ̏ͪͣ͌̒͏ ̺ͅs̤̙̘̥̃ͫ͑̒ͨḙ̺͇͐c̩͍̩͈̅̅͒oͩ̍͒̏n̐͆̑͐̿́d̷͓͕͉s̫͕̘̞͈̄̈́̿ͅ
̐ͤ̾ͧ͏̳̜̲͉̱4͇̻̝̟̰̩̇ͭ̈́ͩͮ ̗ͤ̎͝s̵̬̤̙̟e̺͈͕̼̯̰̥ͦͯ̽́̑̏c̰o̖̦̪̖̍ͧ̒̑ͩͦͫn̶͉̖̮̟̥d̥̪͉͙̤͎̘ͣ̈̎̍s̛͌ͦ̚
ͨ͌̄҉̠̤3̞̬͓̊̃ͨ̔ ͙̳̝̞̩ͧ͐̂̌s͇͙̳̜͈͔̳͑ͥ͒ͦ̀ë̱̪̟́ͩ̆ͣ̓ć̷̹̼̜̺̞͈̎o͉̪͔̗ͩͮ͋͒ͮͅͅͅn͓̭̘̙͔͎̹̊̓d̺͎̱͚̠͐̌̌s̃
̵͖̽̅̔͑ͯ2̯̤̱̱̃ ̓̓ș̣͕̐ͨ̏̂e͒̈̃ͫ̍̈̏҉̯c̡̬ͮo̭̜̠̯͛͋̓̃̈́ͅn̽͌̓̌͆d̼͉ͮ́̿̋̓ͬș͉̲ͮ͆̅ͮ́
̡̼̱͚͈̻ͨ͌1̩̣͋ͪ̑ͭͣ͛ͯ͜ ̶̩̅ͮͫs̬͎͇ͦ̅ͅē̲̱̪̺͈̊̅̈̄͛ç͇ͬ̒o͇̫̼̯ͤͦn̯ͤ̂̈̆̂̇͘d̶͕͔̙̺̱͔ͬ̓͌̀ͧ̅͐s͔̼͍͖ͭ̋

Breach successful.


An object surged through the night sky across a familiar but uncharted landscape - an inscrutable amalgam of miracle and mortal workings that had traveled so far for a simple enough purpose. Sport.

It ripped through the last threads of mankind's Prosaic entanglement as it slammed against the Chancel wall as metal met the hard rocky surface of the planet. Ever since humanity had pointed to the heavens and assigned this red body a name and origin - as manufactured as it was - Creation has known it by nothing else. No native force to the planet had ever seemed to resist this notion and so it came to pass for all but the most puissant of Powers fit to breach its wards. To many, it was merely a point in the sky so very far away - a property, a lie, that was so curiously harnessed as to bind it to mortal rules and beyond the means of those who knew better.

For you see, if you should ever reach and strike Mars ever so then the illusion of red sands and desolation as told and perpetually enforced by mortal ignorance gives way to a crisp forest forever held in bosom of Autumn. Rusty boulders explode into clouds of orange and yellow leaves in more shapes than math is fit to bear. Continued probing of the heavenly body suggests mounting evidence of water - the rivers truly flow beneath it all, out beyond the Earth and its cosmic adornments, though no longer reaching down to cool the farthest reaches of Hell in hidden grottoes below as it once did in the Second Age.

It has been a long and strange time since such a place was ever opened to exhibition. Even its own Powers - some staying behind and others migrating to greener pastures - were forced to decide where they would remain while the Chancel gates were to remain shut. The sorrows of Rivers' keeper are legends in their own right. It is through no simple means that Desecration Himself has negotiated so elite and unspoiled a hunting ground.

The far-off vessel now crashed through the forest canopy, bouncing off the highest branches at first like a stone across a pond, before carving its way lower and lower into the treeline while trees uprooted themselves to escape the helter-skelter landing. At last it came to a stop. Metal and magic and miracle putrefied amid the standard detritus of an endless woodland to release its payload.

Its most prized cargo - a sole figure, nearly the last of its kind, as majestic as all the legends and stories foretell - found itself by the side of a stream. After all the preparation, the travel, and the landing it could not fathom its own reflection; free for now yet still in the clutches of senseless malice.

A single sip of the bountiful Martian water was all it was afforded before the Blight overtook it. It was the first of its kind to grace this new world and it would be the last.


----

To Whom in May Concern...

Across Creation there had been a flurry of commotion as invites for the Hunt began to arrive. The couriers were strange folk. Things made up of the refuse of the world from every street-corner and back alley in range of their scheduled deliveries. They were polite, dutiful, and each ticket was printed to absolute precision as if their author had savored every ounce of his formality for just this moment alone.

Powers, Excrucians, mortals of great esteem, and a bevy of spirits were all graced with the honor to witness the slaughter. It was standard protocol for Meon to just go fuck himself and he was usually happy to oblige but the Hunt was always something special.

And it fell through. No one knew why. Maybe the venue was off-limits now and people talked as they often do.

But it was a few weeks later - a feeling like ages for those who'd put down security deposits on this or that - that once again the junk golems rose up out of the wastebins and sewer drains of the world. This time bearing little elaborate felt-tipped pens. They crawled up and over desks, temporary formality long since bought and paid for, before furiously writing over the particulars of the invite for a later date. And once their duty was done they collapsed into heaps once more.

It just so happens that new time is rapidly approaching. A ringing in the ears of those invited - not rumors, but a literal din. Resonance as the Power of Crystal is thought to have sway over. The seal embossed into the invitation glows a light blue hue. And if you look at it in just such a way you could swear the color was ticking.

Most likely a summoning miracle of some type to spare all participants the act of going out and buying a space program.

Spoiler: Show

Anddddd, go. The miracle ain't quite cooked yet so setup locations and actions and such.
 

MrPrim

Bleak Academic
Validated User
"Great Lord Albarom, Creator of Night, Father of Whispers, we consign this wretched soul to your embrace! With this sacrifice, we give unto you fealty, we pledge ourselves to your power! We unlock your shackles, we give unto you this blood so that you may be unchained! We free you so that you may, as is your right, ride out through the sky, draw back your black arrow, and slay the sun that we might walk the world. Work your miracles through us! Raise up the vampyr of the world, strigoi and moroi, living and dead, and claim your rightful place as the lord of the earth and the nigh--!"

A crash of shattering glass overhead ends the preaching of the Lord Sanguinary in an instant. For a brief moment, the Brothers of the Fatherhood of Night stare in bewilderment as fragments rains down from a skylight far overhead. A figure descends from a height, landing in a crouch inside the chanting ring, next to the drugged and unconscious young woman who is slated to be tonight's sacrificial victim. With inhumanly speed, the Brothers leap away from the figure, their teeth bared, their backs arched, claws and fangs glittering in the candlelight.

The crouched figure stands, her eyes kept low. She is young, a thin slip of a girl not-yet out of her teens. Long black hair reaches down to her shoulders and seems to have some sort of origami flower tucked behind her ear. She wears black and grey and has a backpack slung over her shoulder.

The Lord Sanguinary realizes what he is seeing, opens his mouth to laugh, to make a joking comment to his followers about having an extra sacrifice, but then the girl's ice blue eyes snap up, locking onto his.

In his cold lifeless heart, the Lord Sanguinary feels fear -- unmitigated, bowel-clenching fear. He is vampyr, the blood of ancient Kings awoke him from death, he is a predator unmatched. But in that girl's eyes, for just a moment, he becomes as a rabbit in a lion enclosure.

"Kill h--!" he hisses, his words, cut short as the girl winces, rubs her ear, and holds up one hand palm out and says, her accent slavic and affectless, "Hold, one moment."

The Brothers of the Fatherhood of Night crouch in the shadows, glancing at each other nervously, as the girl begins digging through her backpack. After several seconds, the Lord Sanguinary once again opens his mouth to issue a command, but is cut short by the girl standing up quickly and holding a folded piece of paper. She makes a show of reading and shaking her head. Finally, carefully folding the paper, she returns it to her backpack, which she leaves on the floor.

"My apologies," the girl says, "Where were we?"

"Kill herrrrrrr!" the Lord Sanguinary hissed, his minions leaping from the shadows.

"Da, that was it."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amy Welliver slowly comes to in a darkened warehouse. Shards of glass lay around her and a black-clad young woman helps her stand to her feet. The floor is covered in a thick layer of dust, and so, she notices, are the hands and clothing of the young woman. She stumbles a bit as the surprisingly strong girl helps her to her feet. "I... I think someone put something in my drink."

"Do not worry, I have called the police," the girl says, her Russian-accented tone distant, maybe distracted. "Look, they are already here," she adds, pointing to the red-and-blue light shining in from a nearby window.

Amy begins shaking, slightly, rubbing her bare arms, her eyes lowered. Footsteps echo through the warehouse, she looks up and the Russian girl is already at a back door. "Wait! Where are you going?" she asks, a quaver entering her voice.

Natalia Koutolika, Domina Caeruleae, pauses on the doorframe, looking back over her shoulder. "I cannot stay. I have another engagement and, if I'm not mistaken, my ride will be picking me up shortly."

:ROLL CREDITS!:

Spoiler: Show
If this little vignette requires mechanics, I'm pretty sure Aspect 5 + 2 Strike from being a Hero is plenty powerful enough to straight up dust a coterie of crappy vampire cultists.
 
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Aincumis

Shichibukai
Validated User
Daryl Hughes sat on the roof of the orphanage he had once called home, and smoked. He wasn't old enough to buy cigarettes in this state, but it was pretty easy for him to make fake IDs. All identification of any sort was his kingdom, his loyal subjects or some other pretentious bullshit.

It didn't make sense to him. It was absolutely true though.

Becoming a god had sort of been a little over Daryl's head. There were soirees to attend, political parties to give ear to, sides to decide upon and a war to be fought. He had responsibility that he just couldn't shake.

He took a long drag of the cigarette and flicked it off the orphanage roof into the Hell's Kitchen streets below.

The way he figured, it was sort of his responsibility to blow all that noise off and do his own thing some time. He wasn't ready for his new position, wasn't even legal to buy booze or tobacco. How could someone who didn't have a driver's license be in charge of reality? Why would someone with no clue who they were supposed to be be made the Power of Identity?

"World doesn't make sense," he said to himself. He instantly regretted it. In that moment he had reminded himself of Scelto so hard. He was standing right where he had been that night, when the Deceiver tried to turn everyone in the building into him. It was a slow process, hard to notice. Scelto of the Provenance wasn't something you transformed into, you just looked in the mirror one day and realized that's who you were. Suddenly they weren't lost kids with no place in society, suddenly they were Scelto, they had a goal, a purpose, power.

Like usual, Daryl had to put a stop to it. Can't let other people find a path to follow, can he?

He fell down and slammed onto the concrete. His head hurt but he felt he deserved it. That was another shitty thing to think. He had saved them. Scelto was an Excrucian, he was here to destroy everything. Daryl kept coming here to remind himself of why he had been chosen, why him of all people. And it was because of this, because of what happened here.

They had talked for hours, newborn Noble and timeless Deceiver. Under the stars in the sky blocked out by New York City smog. Scelto had stars in his eyes that were much clearer than looking up, only the were falling stars. Dying stars. Always dying.

He was an apocalypse, that man. A personal harbinger of the end times just for him. He didn't know how to do anything else about his new role and position but if it was his job to stop Scelto from pulling that biz on a global scale and he was the only one with the power to do it ... then he'd just have to. Again. And maybe again.

Maybe.

The sun was going down. Maybe he'd see stars tonight. Watching the city at night made him feel like Daredevil or something. Sometimes. Other times it made him feel like a dork.

Something awoke Daryl from his self-absorbed angst. A creature made of NYC refuse had crawled it's way to the rooftop. Hobbling on a weak leg that used to be a McDonad's straw, the golem brought a marker with it. It slid towards Daryl, who let the little guy reach into his pocket and pull out that weird invitation he had gotten earlier. The thing scribbled a new date and time on the letter before falling into a pile of lifeless garbage once more.

"What the fu-"

The young man picked up the invitation and absorbed it once more. He was going crazy here, watching these same streets at night, turning muggers and rapists into school teachers and scientists. He didn't seem to make much of a difference, knew it in his heart all he was doing was trying to bury his head in the sand, avoid his new Noble life and all the things that came with it. Perhaps this invitation and the hunt it promised would be just the thing he needed to shake him out of this funk he had been in since Commencement.

To be honest he had gotten his hopes up about it before. Unicorns were really real? When it fell through he had chalked it up as a mistake to be optimistic. Don't let a douche like Meon get you down. Now that the thing was on, and the invitation seemed eager to take him soon, Daryl had no choice but to go with it. A vacation was what he needed.

Maybe?
 
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Cyrith

The Emerald Flame
Validated User
Claire is at the range, taking aim at an apple some thirty yards away, deep in the moment, when her invitation flits out from her modest hunting cabin. A moment later it is followed by a creature of old bow strings, spare veins, and a stuffed deer head missing an eye. It locomotes itself over to the invite, picks it up and throws it toward Claire again. It doesn't go very far. Claire gives no appearance of noticing, loosing her arrow in complete silence to be followed near immediately by a spray of juice. Kimble falls from her hands before bouncing back on it's cord, excess energy from the powerful bow being absorbed into stabilizers.

"Good shot, but you shouldn't need to aim that long. And you have a visitor."

"I see it. And I don't not need to aim that long either."

The creature throws the invite again, making a pathetically small gain. Claire sighs and walks over, picking up the invite and sparing the deer headed beast the effort. It collapses back into it's pieces, leaving Claire with her newish invitation.

"Hunt's back on. You sure this is a good idea? Seems like a lot of hassle for a simple take down."

"The bad idea would be to back out, you might embarrass the team. And I would ask yourself if you really want to refuse Meon. Just think of it as practice."

Claire harumphs. "Fine, I'll go get my suit."

Spoiler: Show
What do I call the golem that delivered my modified invite? I have no eye deer!
 
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Skycroft

Space Wizard
RPGnet Member
Validated User
A tree stands in a meadow; sunlight filtering through its leaves. A young man lounges on one of its branches. His head rests on his left arm, and the fingers of his right drum on the piece of paper lying on his chest. He hmmed to himself in thought, and in his head that hum was accompanied by the ringing of a miracle.

"A unicorn hunt." He says aloud. "When it fell through the last time, I wasn't sure it was going to happen. But it looks like Meon's going ahead with it after all."

Near the tree is grazing a majestic pure white horse with feathered wings. Pegasus, son of Poseidon and Medusa, brother to Chrysaor, continued eating grass placidly as though the young man hadn't spoken. But Arthur was accustomed to that.

"I should probably do something about it, shouldn't I?" He mused.

Unicorns were not, strictly speaking, part of his Estate. It was the stories and tales about them that fell under his dominion. But even so, he couldn't help but feel responsible for what might happen.

"At the very least, I should make sure that the story goes the way its supposed to. I wonder where Meon gets them anyway? Probably worth looking into at some point. Maybe Clio knows? Though I guess they aren't really part of her Estate either. Well, one thing at a time."

Arthur Kingsley, Saint of Legends, leaped down from the tree, landing lightly on his feet, before moving over and taking hold of Pegasus' golden reins. As he did so, he passed the bleeding corpse of a red dragon lying amidst a blackened field, the tree and the bit of grass around it the only greenery in sight.

"Let's see, am I forgetting anything? Sword, check. Flying horse, check. I'm good." Arther mounted up. "Hi-ho Silver! Away!"

Pegasus raised is head and turned to give Arthur a Look, as if to say "Really?"

Arthur chuckled and stroked his mount's mane apologetically. "Sorry." Then there was a flash of light and they were gone.
 

Insertname

Registered User
Validated User
Delanis Corona sits and sips her tea quietly as she struggles to write with an incredibly leaky fountain pen. The black ink splotches and stains, and she attempts to write around it, to make it a sensible, to make it even part of the poem, but it isn't going very well. The whole thing is just awful, and she can feel the anger and evil rising within her. Typical.

Suddenly, a twisted, horrid thing forces its way into the room. It stinks of excrement and unconsecrated graveyard soil, and it trails intestines across the floor like a slimy tail. It's face is bent round upside down, the eyes unfocused and the bloated tongue lying out of the mouth. The street urchin, raped and killed and raped again, then left behind in a ditch somewhere, stretches out his hand and hands the Excrucian a crumbled, bloodstained letter.

She thanks the child, tips him an old doubloon, which becomes tarnished in his grasp at once, and reads the letter as the shambling abomination falls apart again. She reads it slowly and carefully, making sure to work out what words are hidden under the stains.

When she has finished, she looks up and across the long oak table at the smiling god sitting across from her.

"Really?" she says to Meon, "You couldn't have just said this?"
 

Maerok

Registered User
Validated User
~ NATALIA ~

The dust from a coterie of crappy vampire cultists has long since settled before the officers finally make their way into the abandoned place. Bolt cutters are used to unchain the loading bay doors and a small gathering of officers are confronted with the scene of utter devastation. There'd been a call from some girl about things going bump in the night - something they would have written off as a prank if she hadn't sounded colder than the shift's fifteen-year vet while on the call.

They ponder over now empty, ash-filled cloaks and the bodies of a few mind-fucked disciples. One of them takes Amy aside, placing a jacket over her shoulders while muttering something about kids and bath salts these days.

As Natalia makes her way out into the night the backpack continues to quake with the power of the invitation. A streetlamp's warm, flickering glow is extinguished a little way down the street. It bounces back in full force as a blinding column of blue light. And it begins to speak.

"Hallooo!" It was the kind of cheery, not-quite-condescending voice best suited to an automated call center. "Oh goodness, am I coming in clear? I'm so very excited to meet you."


~ DARYL ~

His note fixed and minor magics aside, there wasn't much else going on in a place with so little to offer.

A transformer blew just then. Typical. Frightened children hollered from within the orphanage.

Half the block must have gone out at this rate. The only place with power remaining was that bar across the street: a monument to drunken stupidity. Even after they fenced in the patio there were still too many broken bottles ending up at the footstep of Daryl's place. Every happy hour seemed to invoke little paper squares with grinning ex-presidents and fierce animals staring up into the morning sky from puddles of shattered glass.

The stained glass Old Wilwaukee chandelier in the bar's (a "pub" they'd call it, if you were the sort of person with no taste) window shimmied around in the drunken excitement of a power outage. The only source of light in this neighborhood was trying to sell you cheap beer.

And above the cries of children and roar of the bar came a knock from the lowest level of the orphanage. Whoever it was was putting quite a beating on that old metal door downstairs.


~ CLAIRE ~

The range is one part of a grand estate that spans the extremities of the world and Creation's most trying climates.

It's outfitted to train you to be the best there ever was in what you need to be and for that there is little leeway. Desert tank warfare in the Pacific Ocean, jungle vine swinging over lava, and a realistic simulation of Upside-Down Town during the Calamity of 1983 are just some of the latest installations to hone a living arsenal.

Claire cabin currently resides on the outskirts of Morocco. They have a tendency to roam about the countrysides - can't have your tracking skills getting rusty now. It's a simple looking cabin but built to accommodate all the needs of a Quiet Team member.

Her suit is where it is always is. Ready for action.

Spoiler: Show

We'll have to hammer out the details of this Quiet Team group. Powers only or mortal members as well, etc?



~ ARTHUR ~

The flash of light feels like falling down a very long rabbit hole. Blue flames wrap about his form ever gently and recede back to wherever they came from with him in tow.

Arthur is pulled under the roots of the mortal narrative of Earth and the celestial bodies.

It's quite a rush. Until the last bit. As the clay and loam of the meadow gave way to blackness and now back to what seem to be orange foliage Arthur can feel himself burst through what feels like a storm cloud. A feeling one might describe as 'thunderous, electrified snakes ready to strike'. Maybe that's just turbulence from world-jumping. But it's a feeling that hangs in orbit high above his destination.

Time and space spit him out gracefully at the entrance of a grand ballroom. He's not alone. Others have made the journey already; some have already composed themselves or just didn't feel that same twinge of awfulness.

There's all manner of spirits and strange creatures from over Creation. There's not much time to take things in before a chalice is thrust up into his face eagerly.


~ DELANIS ~

Meon smiles.

It's the sort of smile that doesn't go away if you blink or flinch or were to cut your eyes out and cast them out of Creation. It stays with you forever if you let it take hold.

It's like he knows the root of everything that ails you and the rest of the world and could dispel it as easily as he intends to sit there and watch it all suffer.

One day you will breath your last breath and look back on all the misery given and witnessed and taken during your time bound to this existence. And if you dare to wonder what it was all for - to wonder what is Creation worth that could have ever made it worth killing and dying over - then all there will be is that smile. Neither Heaven nor Hell accept those who have seen Meon smile. Such souls go mad faced with that contemplation for eternity. Evil World, on the other hand, is another story.

We who've seen it live and die for that smile and whatever Ultimate Truth or Lie may dwell behind it in the end. If one's ever foolish enough to outright ask him what's so funny, he'll casually remind you it takes more muscles to frown than to smile.

Delanis Corona has the oddest sense for companions, it would seem.

"When you're a god, Delanis, you do things in godly ways for godly reasons. Write that down somewhere." He was sipping something red from a skull with a dozen crab-like legs protruding from it. "Yes, the main event is back. Things came up and they're still up but let's see where they take us, shall we?"

The smile never wavers. But the man, if Meon were ever dredged up from some pathetic human shell, seems tense. He smooths out the elaborate yellow robes that make him a like beacon in the darkness of the Evil World. "You plan on hunting me down too, sweet little thing?"
 
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MrPrim

Bleak Academic
Validated User
Natalia does not stay to watch the police do their jobs*. Stopping in the alley behind the warehouse to scoop up her father's heavy coat and drape it around her shoulders, Natalia stepped around the corner and just out of sight right as the first officer came into the alley, flashlight upraised. He found nothing but shadows and a lingering feeling of cold.

"Vampirs," she muttered, falling into the steady, slow walk of someone with nowhere to go but a long way to go before they get there, "They are like roaches, always under kicked over rocks." The origami flower tucked behind her ear seemed to roll out from its place, spinning in the air and refolding into the shape of a paper butterfly that began circling Natalia's head lazily.

The butterfly performed a sort of waggling, fluttering dance that clearly communicated, 'Well, at least you got them!'

"They will hurt no one else, no," she agreed, her tone a touch begrudging.

The butterfly managed to look a touch consternated, making an exaggerated motion that conveyed an eyeroll without eyes or rolling of any kind. Natalia frowned and opened her mouth to chastise her newsprint companion or defend herself from its harangues when, suddenly, the street lamp above her began talking.

"Of course. The Hunt."

With a furrowed brow, Natalia Koutolika turns and levels a cool even look at the talking street lamp. Her lips pull into a thin line; she has an instant dislike of that voice. "Yes, I can hear you," she responds after a moment's consideration, "Who am I speaking to?"

* Though, let's be honest. As long as she's within about a mile and paying a modicum of attention, she'll be able to hear if they decide that instead of being Gary Oldman in "Batman Begins" they want to be Gary Oldman in "Leon: the Professional" (or, even, Gary Oldman in "Bram Stoker's Dracula"). And then it will be bad news for bad cops.
 
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Inqy

World Breaker's Sigh
Validated User
The palace of Knossos, from which King Minos once ruled over his island empire, and under which he shackled his demigod stepson in the Labyrinth of legend, was a sight even in the prosaic. Its glory days were long behind it, but even to the mortal eye it offered a glimpse back across millennia.

To the mythic eye its grandeur was greater still, for Minos had once wielded the Estate of Judgement, having wrested it from the grasp (and chest) of Rhadamanthus, before having it taken from him in turn and taking up a throne in the underworld alongside his old enemy. If one knew the trick of it, the labyrinth was still there, though a brush with an Excrucian Deceiver some centuries after the birth of Christ spelled the end for more worldly horrors that lived there, but if anything made the impossible path even more exciting for anyone suicidal enough to enter.

Not that Clio Nonesuch got much of a chance to enjoy the experience. She was currently splayed out at a table, sunhat falling over her face and gulping down a cold drink in a manner the screamed ‘tourist’. (The irony was not lost.)

She’d been waiting almost three hours now on the prosaic side, all the way through the midday sun, with a backpack bursting at the seams full of all the supplies one could want (including, admittedly, half a library of reading material. Maybe it was time to invest in an e-reader?) for a trip into what was the most notoriously difficult to navigate singular path this side of the Ash and her companion, the one who had had the idea in the first place, had gone and stood her up! Never trust a time traveller!

Still, the journey had been fascinating enough. She’d run into some graffiti along the way here, a bold anarchist declaration or somesuch, that had been positively inspiring when taken in with the eyes of History, when one could see the chain of scrawled messages going all the way back to the dawn of the Age. Political diatribes, penis jokes, declarations of undying love, stirring sentiments of support, lovers curses, rumours of magisterial corruption, poetry both beautiful and vulgar. And every word had a story. The trip was still worth it for that alone, and had it not been for the aforementioned missed appointment there wouldn’t even be a complaint. But no! She’d chosen to have a little faith in the basic decency of timeline-hopping tourists, gotten all excited about the prospect of setting out across the border of history and myth and so she’d ended up here in the role of the stranded tourist.

A clatter from the other end of the table drew her attention and she looked up to find some kind of makeshift homunculus (crawled out from the rubbish bin at the back of the stall, judging by the trail) hunched over the end of her rucksack, which it had opened and was now rapidly digging through.

“H-hey! What do you think you’re doing? That’s mi-“ The thing pulls out an old piece of card, an invitation to the aborted Unicorn Hunt which had been doubling as a bookmark. It scrawls in its correction and then decays back into the trash from whence it came.

Clio picked up the amended invitation and gave it a quick scan.

‘Meon you’re disgusting. But how can I not play, knowing what’s at stake? Very well, I’ll join your little hunt.’
 
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Of course, whenever Meon does point out it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, Delanis reminds him that factoid, while commonly believed, is entirely false. Also, it takes no muscles to do neither.

Meon had a peculiar way of talking without really moving his lips enough to block the smile, like some kind of overcompensating ventriloquist. Delanis had certainly never seen his teeth separate. When he ate solids (rare as that was) they seemed to putrefy into liquid and slide through the gaps that not even light passed through. It was an intriguing smile, to say the least.

Or, Delanis sometimes speculated, the most.

She does write something down, though it isn't what Meon says.

God that ever smiles
Does not laugh. The river laughs
At him with pity.


She smiles at the verse. Not brilliant, but cheering. Then an ink blot swallows them up.

"Why should I hunt you, Meon?" she says, "So long as I have your touch I cannot be sacred. So long as I am not sacred, I cannot truly be Her." She looks across from him and smiles her own, thin lipped, toothless smile, "Besides, to hunt something it must flee. I can't imagine you fleeing me."

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Level 1 intention of poetry to make myself happy.
 
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