Chapter One

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Chapter One Empty Chapter One

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:02 am

Jarvis sighs as he settles down into the seat. He looks out of the window to his right, peering woefully at the grey skies and the grey city sprawl of Archenrat. The train will be leaving soon…he hears the “All aboard!” call.

Not that he’s all that excited to get going. He was expecting to have at least one more day to work on trying to perfect his magnetic mine, but that will have to be another time. Jarvis can hear the hiss of steam…the train will be rolling any second now.

Minutes tick by and Jarvis is lost in thought as Archenrat gives way to the surrounding countryside, which is dotted with factories. Some factories are larger than small towns. Some have small towns that grew up around them. Many are coal fired and belch smoke and soot skyward. Every now and then Jarvis sees a soot-stained face as someone stops what they are doing and looks toward the train.

Today Jarvis’ thoughts are centered not around where he’s going, but about money. Inventors and technology pioneers like himself can never seem to have enough money to do the research that is needed. Currently, he’s working out of a temporary lab. His original lab was partly destroyed when he built a much larger sized magnetic cannon. The cannon misfired, taking out much of the ceiling, and collapsing two walls. Luckily, no one was hurt. He did lose quite a few inventions that he wasn’t sure he could duplicate.

Saddened by his thoughts about his financial situation, he suddenly brightens when he sees a couple of Draugar plod by. Now, why couldn’t he invent something astounding like that? Maybe he’s very close to a breakthrough and he doesn’t know it? Of course, inventing the Draugr did nothing for Dr Emerich. He sees no profit from it, since he is locked away. Of course, his arrest has little to do with him breaking a law, but rather is politically motivated. At least, the scientific community is convinced of that.

The train conductor comes through to verify everyone’s ticket. Jarvis did offer to get a ticket for Savv, but she reminded him that she could find her way to Tajemnica herself....if she is even going at all. “That Savv”, Jarvis thinks to himself, “is as unpredictable as they come.” Jarvis then wonders if any of the rest of the group are on the same train as him. They never travel anywhere as a group when not on a mission. At most, they travel in twos, and that is rare.

Jarvis wouldn’t doubt it if Aran is somewhere on this train. Odds are also good that Zaranda is too. Ralkin is definitely not on the train since Ralkin would probably rather travel by catapult than by train. Technology just isn’t Ralkin’s cup of tea….even though they both may involve steam. Jarvis finds this thought rather amusing and can’t wait to use it in their next argument over technology. Savv? Well, anything’s possible…she is a resourceful gal.

Finally, he can no longer divert his thoughts away from his destination. Jarvis just dreads funerals, but funerals of fellow thief-takers, even ones that have had to leave because they became a threat to the thief-takers existence, must be attended. It’s a sort of unwritten code of sorts among their group. Thoughts of the not-too-distant past race around his mind and drag him toward weariness.

Jarvis looks at his watch and realizes that Tajemnica is still two hours away, so he decides to try and take a nap. The next thing that Jarvis knows is that he is jarred awake. The darkness of the train’s interior surprises him. Then, there is another jolt and the train lurches to a halt. Confused murmurings of the other passengers grow more excited at the stoppage of the train. Jarvis is guessing there is something wrong with the train and gets up to see if he can find the engineer. Jarvis has worked on trains before, so he might as well lend a hand to fix whatever might have gone wrong. Making his way towards the front of the train, he notices that there is a large city nearby…perhaps only a mile or two distant. Glancing at his watch, it appears that this could be Tajemnica, if he’s reading his watch correctly in this murky half-darkness.

Jarvis is one step away from the door to the engineer’s car when the train is rocked by two more jolts. That’s odd...how can that happen when the train isn’t moving anymore?
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Chapter One Empty Elsewhere, in the Dundtel Mountains

Post by Spike Matthews on Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:06 pm

The old wolf was hungry. It had been a long winter, and it hadn’t helped that he’d finally lost his place as pack leader to the interloper his mate had taken in some years back. For two months, he had been trapped between the snow-blocked mountain passes and a pack that was now fully prepared to tear him apart. It had only been for his skill in unearthing hibernating animals that he’d lived this long. Unfortunately, he had passed his skills on to the rest of the pack, and the winter had been seen him making a series of raids on likely hibernation sites, only to find a few cracked bones and some scraps of snow-crusted fur.

His lowest point had come some days previously. Emaciated to the point he was hallucinating, he had chanced upon a cache of insect larvae and gulped them down before his nose told him they were fire-moth larvae. Even now, his belly burned from the poisoned juices.

This morning, he had woken, eaten some snow and retched emptily before realising something was different. The air had been gradually becoming warmer and now he sensed that the snow in one of the passes had shifted during the night. Was it enough to allow him passage? Cautiously, the wolf made his way across the deep and treacherous snow, his silvered pelt catching the morning sun. Fortunately, it was early enough in the day that there was still a frozen crust on the snow, but he knew it was only a matter of time before that gave way. He could only hope he’d be clear of the worst of it before that happened.

Some time later, he had passed the surrounding peaks. Looking briefly up to the sun, he decided to pick up his pace a little. He still had far to go and very little time left in which to do it. Trotting across the snow now, he kept his ears alert for the sound of shifting snow behind him. Avalanches weren’t unknown in the mountains and he had lost members of his pack, in previous years, to the capricious whims of the slopes. More than once, one of his forepaws broke through the fragile crust, but he managed to keep going through sheer momentum.

A muffled noise some way behind him was warning enough. All caution to the wind now, the wolf broke into a full run. His only hope of survival was to somehow outrun the worst of the avalanche and maybe reach the shelter of the distant treeline. If only he knew where it was. Beneath his paws, the snow was growing more slippery by the moment, making him unsteady. In the near distance, however, he saw that the snow was giving way to rock, which was good.

All it took was a tiny mistake. A forepaw slid from beneath him and his exhausted legs gave way, throwing him into a swift, slithering tumble down the mountainside. The wolf yelped once as it hit a partially hidden rock and was thrown into the air before landing with a thump that knocked what little air he had left in his lungs. Gasping for breath, he tried to stand, but his body had taken too much and not even the fast-approaching avalanche could spur him into action.

Suddenly, he scented something. Before he knew it, he was grabbed and hauled roughly into a glowing circle in the air, just as several hundred tons of snow rushed over the spot where he had lain.


Last edited by Spike Matthews on Sat Jul 04, 2009 2:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chapter One Empty Tajemnica

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:08 pm

Meanwhile, at the edge of town in Tajemnica...

THHUPP!
THHUPP!
THHUPP!
CLANK!

Groans, cheers and laughter resound throughout the tavern as the last dart rattles on the ground, failing to hit its mark. Zaranda (or Anna as she’s known to the patrons at this tavern) bites her lower lip and shakes her head in disgust. It was easy enough beating all 17 challengers playing 5 rounds, most points. She had to up the stakes and declare to everyone there at the Rusty Arrow that she could hit three bull’s-eyes in a row. And she did. Then she had to push it to four…she’s done it before, but not today. She was not at all pleased with everything…especially ending on the sour note that it did.

While she was gathering up her darts and putting them in her leather dart holder, a grey haired man with a long, curling grey moustache in a grey three-piece suit walks up to her. For the moment, Zaranda ignores him. After winning a whole load of dart games, she’s typically approached by two types of people: those that lost a lot of money betting against her, or those that won a lot of money betting on her. From the looks of this guy, he probably won.

Still, Zaranda doesn’t feel compelled to speak to him at all. Really, she just would rather head back to the inn she is staying at; grab dinner there and then head off elsewhere. She starts walking towards the door and was just about past him when he spoke. “Excellent dartwork there, young miss! Surely, you must be a professional dart player? Am I correct?” Zaranda then slows down and looks back at the man and says in a flat tone “No.” and keeps walking. Unfazed, the grey man has to jog after her, waving his hand to try to get her attention. He finally catches up to her at the door and continues to drone on about how well she did. Zaranda stops a couple feet away from him and turns around and says, “Look, I don’t care that you won a lot of money betting on me. Congratulate yourself, you picked a winner. I just don’t want to hear about it, ok? I don’t need any fans of my dart throwing. It’s just a hobby, that’s all.”

At this remark, the grey man looked a little sad and said “Actually, I bet on you making the three bull’s-eyes and against you for making four, so I won both times. I, too, am not worried about my winnings, at least not today. This was nothing.” Pausing here, the grey man seemed to want a reaction from Zaranda, but all he got was a cold stare. He continued, “I was hoping you’d be interested in a little business venture. A sort of dart throwing tour. We could clean up! You truly are the best I’ve seen.”

By this point, Zaranda did not want to hear anymore. She certainly wasn’t naïve enough to simply accept this man’s offer. The fact is, she hardly trusted the few friends she had…how could she possibly trust an old man in a grey three-piece suit who certainly did not have an Archenian accent?

“Listen, mister!” Zaranda said, but then was immediately cut off – “Oswald, I’m mister Oswald.”
“Listen Mr. Oswald, I have no interest in what you’re talking about. I’m not from Tajemnica. My home and business are elsewhere, so again…I refuse whatever you are offering!”

At this, Zaranda determinedly walks away. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Mr. Oswald perform some complex hand signal, aimed at the direction of the Rusty Nail. Zaranda doesn’t really care to see what he’s doing, because she’s headed back to the inn, which is at the center of town. The Rusty Nail is on the southern edge of town, on the trail that heads south into the Scharfwald Mountains. It’s just after sunset. She didn’t realize it was that late already.

About two blocks later, she notices that there are two men following her, about a half of a block behind her. Both are wearing grey and black. It almost looks like a uniform of some sort, but it’s not one she recognizes. Zaranda does her best to fade away the anger she had. This would not be the time or place to lose it. Up ahead, she notices a small, square. Not big enough to have an open market in, but it does have a fountain. It also has two statues: one of a thoughtful looking Tanoi and another of Perkeos, which is covered in bird droppings, as usual.

As Zaranda is making her way through the almost deserted square, she smirks at the traditions surrounding Perkeos, the god of air, deception and murder. Nearly all Archenians, whether they believe in the gods of Archen or not, still will follow the superstitions/traditions about Perkeos, the main one being that you never look at any images of Perkeos, that he should be avoided and shunned. This creates odd situations where Archenians will walk around statues of Perkeos by keeping him to their side or back – never facing him. Because of this avoidance, nearly all Perkeos statues are never washed and therefore end up very full of bird droppings. Here and there, there are followers of Perkeos. They are really the only ones that will clean the statue.

Zaranda makes it all the way through the square and the two men in grey and black are still hanging back, avoiding Perkeos in the usual manner. Zaranda, of course, doesn’t believe in any of that, so she has already scooted past the Perkeos statue and she then makes a run for a park.

It turns out it was not quite a park, but a large stand of trees nearly in the middle of Tajemnica. The snow had been gone from here for a few weeks, by the looks of it; spring is now here. There are plenty of leaves from last fall that had not been removed before the snow fell (if they ever are removed from here). Zaranda crouches on the ground, gathers up a huge pile of leaves and throws them in the air. She quickly lies on the ground as the leaves fall around her. She then carefully draws her air armor towards her, which pulls the leaves towards her as well, making her look like a pile of leaves. She makes sure that she can see through the leaves in case the grey/black guys show up. No need for them to surprise her. She’d much rather do the surprising.


Last edited by Ob Thundersnot on Fri Jul 10, 2009 11:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chapter One Empty Re: Chapter One

Post by mnesomeye on Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:54 pm

Back on the train...

- - -

The rocking was becoming more frequent now, more violent; almost as though there was a giant outside.

Nudging it with his foot.
The giant being twenty feet tall.

Jarvis stood slowly, eyes darting from window to window, scanning the landscape for clues. Nothing... not even people running from the train. So what on earth--

Screams and hollers accompanied the sound of an explosion, ending in a creshendo of folding metal and breaking glass. The symphony of something really, really bad happening. Jarvis bolted toward the source on impulse, only noticing he was in motion as he reached the first dividing door. He flew through three, pushing his way through panicked crowds scrambling in the other direction. It was almost like trying to swim against a strong downhill current; bloody tiring.

He reached a fourth and paused.
This was the door that seperated the 'elite' class from everyone else.

Inhale.
Exhale.
Go.

His calloused hands shoved it open (to startled gasps from a few of the shallower passengers), all that society had dictated to him abandoned. Life or death situations rose far, far above firsts and seconds. Despite the situation though, he still found himself chuckling; it was the stiffest door he'd ever had to force himself through. It said a lot.

The state of the carriage said even more.

Glass covered the cushioned red seats like glitter, and expensive posessions had been thrown about - probably due to the explosion - like a child's unwanted toys. Half the train had collapsed into itself, making the space look like a lopsided triangle; Jarvis had to stoop low protect his head from the exposed frame work. Part of the ceiling had been ripped off to reveal a smoggy sky, and the wall which hadn't been smashed in was soaked velvet red - the same, beautiful colour as the seats. But even Jarvis, known for his quiet optimism in difficult situations, knew he'd be kidding himself blind if he told himself it wasn't--

"Blood," a female voice croaked. Jarvis turned to face a woman he hadn't noticed, sat - shaking - on the floor next to his feet. Her dark brunette hair had crumpled around her tear-streaked face, and she sat gagging silently at the vicious red splatters. There were more survivors - mainly broken-looking men in expensive suits - who were all staring into space, silently watching the movie of their life flash before them. For a split second Jarvis was overwhelmed by the situation, stepping backward slightly, unconsciously rubbing his eyes. So much had happened in so little time - all of it a mystery. Not even the passengers themselves looked like they fully understood it.

But then something caught his eye.

It wasn't the blood. It wasn't the wrecked carriage. It wasn't the crying girl, or the handful of aristocrats and business men who had suddenly realised that their riches meant, basically, nothing in comparison with love, life, and all that jazz. Nope--

--it was the fading image of a gang of men, three of the eight or nine holding huge guns, dragging a young, screaming boy behind them.
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Chapter One Empty The Dundtel Mountains

Post by Spike Matthews on Sat Jul 04, 2009 2:54 pm

With a start, the old wolf woke and sprang to its feet, growling. Its dreams had been strange, filled with groups of humans holding sticks that sounded like thunder and killed from afar. Still groggy from sleep, he scented a human close by and hunched into a defensive posture.
The human looked at him and then away. Confused, but still wary, the wolf stopped growling, and inched closer. Sniffing carefully, his nose picked up nothing alarming; no fear or anger and the human’s movements backed up the sense that there was nothing threatening about him.

There was one thing he could smell, however – food. The human had a store of meat stashed somewhere and, now the old wolf’s instinct for self-preservation had been satisfied, his stomach decided to take action and growled loudly.
It was the human’s turn to start. He turned to the wolf, looked at the thin ribs and patchy fur, nodded, and reached for something. To the wolf, it looked a little like the skin of an animal, except there was no animal with a hide that smelled like that. From the skin, the man pulled out a handful of dried meat. He began to pass it to the wolf, but then halted and drew his hand back. The wolf nearly tore out his throat right there.
“Just wait a while, friend.” The human was making noises which could have meant anything or nothing, but his actions showed that he hadn’t finished with the meat. The meat was thrown into a container hanging above a fire – the wolf blinked: how could have he been so addled as to not see the flames? To distract himself from the gnawing sensation in his belly, the wolf took stock of his surroundings and realised he was in a cave. As caves went, it was decent enough. Dry and sizable, there was only one thing wrong with it.

There was no way out.

Perturbed, the wolf padded over to the mouth of the cave and sniffed at the snow blocking it up. He made a desultory scratch at the white mass, but it was clear only a great deal of time was going to shift it. He looked over at the human who was poking into the container above the fire. Despite being trapped, the wolf could sense no sign of concern from the man, which was worrying in itself. In all his years, the wolf could think of no creature that, in its right mind, wouldn’t be trying desperately to escape. Even odder, the human’s peace of mind was somehow communicating itself to the wolf and calming it down in turn.
In any event, there was nothing the wolf could do but wait for whatever fate held in store for it, so he went and sat near the fire to keep warm. If the human gave him the meat or attacked, he would have to deal with it at the time.

After a short time, the human stood, leaning heavily on a long piece of wood and walked to the snow by the cave mouth. The old wolf watched as the man hacked off several lumps and brought it back to the fire, where he put it on the ground. Through lidded eyes, the wolf saw the man produce a knife. He shifted slightly – just in case – but the human saw even this tiny movement. He looked at the wolf and shook his head, reaching into the container and pulling out a lump of meat. The gobbet of meat was dropped into the pile of snow, where it sizzled briefly. Again, the smell of the meat assailed his nose and the wolf’s stomach complained loudly. The man was just opening his mouth to speak when his own belly gave an answering rumble. Startled, he looked down and then across at the wolf and laughed. “Well, my friend, it seems that we have something in common.”

The wolf barely paid any attention to the noises the man was making. The cooling lump of meat was occupying almost all of his attention by now. The only thing preventing him from snatching it was the knife in the man’s hand. Then, with dismay, he saw the human retrieve the meat, only to realise he was testing it for warmth. Without a word, the man tossed the meat over to the wolf, who had to restrain himself from swallowing it whole. He’d had enough bellyaches from that when he had been a pup to know better.
Another piece of meat landed in the snow, followed by a third. The wolf looked up at the man in disgust. No wonder it had been soaked in hot water for some time; despite its soaking, the meat was still tough enough to give him serious problems in chewing it. It was all the wolf could do to soften it enough to swallow with relative ease. Nevertheless, hunger dictated that the other two pieces of meat went the same way as the first.

A Noise from the man made him look up. He was struggling with his own piece of meat and – judging by the expression on his face – was none too keen on it either. The wolf’s tongue lolled out as he enjoyed the spectacle of a man trying to chew the rancid piece of hide. How men had become so powerful with such poor teeth, he could never understand. The man, suddenly noticing the wolf’s humour, decided to give up the meat as a bad job and tossed it over. “Ah well, perhaps I should stick to the broth until I find something a little more tender”. Oddly enough, the wolf was coming to understand the meaning of what the man was saying. Certainly, he knew the man had been remarking on the meat’s inedibility.

After a short while, in which the human doused the fire and poured the contents of the fire-top container into another (a process which baffled the wolf), the wolf decided a short sleep was needed to help digest the poor meal. However, when he settled down and laid his head onto his forepaws, the human called to him with a note of cautious alarm. The wolf watched as the man sniffed at the air. For a moment, he regarded the human with contempt, as his own nose was obviously far superior to the man’s – but then he realised that a point was being made. Sniffing the air himself, he realised that the cave’s blockage had prevented not only their own exit, but was also stopping fresh air from coming in.

Coming all the way awake, the wolf looked to the human. Once more, the man surprised him by not seeming to be at all concerned by their predicament. Without haste, all his belongings were gathered and stored into a larger container, which the man slung onto his back with a grunt. He picked up the large, straight branch and looked at the wolf, “Ready?” he asked.
Surely the man was insane. Yes, he was definitely ready to leave the cave, but there was no way they could dig their way out – even using some of the tools men had. The human pulled out a gemstone tapped on the cave wall, and a large shimmering disc of light appeared. The human looked down at the astonished wolf and repeated, “Ready?”

With that, he stepped into the light and disappeared. After a moment, the old wolf steeled his nerves and padded after him.
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Chapter One Empty Tajemnica

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Fri Jul 10, 2009 11:22 pm

Sure enough, the guys wearing the grey and black uniforms showed up, but they looked lost and unsure of what to do next. They were standing only about 5 feet away from where she was, but she couldn’t pick out much of anything they were saying because of the leaves surrounding her, but also because the air armor tends to dampen sounds a little.

What to do, what to do…

She could pop out of the leaves swinging her short sword all about, but that might not be wise. She wasn’t sure how or if these guys are armed…the view was not perfect from her air armor leaf pile. Besides, getting into a swordfight was not high on her priorities right now. Best to avoid these guys for now. She would need to figure out who they are or whom they work for at some point.

Zaranda, nearly losing focus on keeping the air armor up, realizes that their conversation is now over, the taller of the two men is walking directly towards her, but he is looking off in the distance, as far as she can tell.

Clomp
Clomp
Clomp
Whoosh!!

Amidst a sudden gust of leaves, Zaranda catches the taller man’s foot in mid step as he was about to step where she was lying. She heaves him backwards, toppling the taller man into the smaller, skinny man and the two men in grey and black scramble to get free of each other.

Zaranda doesn’t wait to see what happens next, so she takes off through the forest as fast as her legs can take her. Ducking branches, leaping over small trees, frightening the wildlife, she realizes she is not on any path at all. Moments after she realizes this, she trips over a wooden fence and lands in someone’s backyard garden. The thyme that is crushed under her nose smells nice, but that’s about all. The shoulder that she landed on aches and she sees that she knocked down a section of the fence.

As she is standing up, she hears thrashing and stomping noises coming from the forest and in no time at all, she sees the grey/black brothers approaching her…fast. She grabs the broken section of fence whams it squarely on the taller man’s face and chest, knocking him backwards and out cold.

Zaranda takes off running again, taking one glance back to see the smaller grey and black uniformed man looking around confusedly, not knowing what he should do…run after her or help out his comrade. He yells out “Wait you, please with stop!” in very broken, accented Archenian. Where are these guys from? Zaranda cannot place the accent.

After following a couple streets and finally finding a main street she recognizes, Zaranda takes a zig-zag path of streets back to the inn she is staying at, The Dove. Once there, her plan is to have dinner in the common room…at the back of the common room so that she isn’t surprised by the grey and black guys, or Mr. Oswald for that matter.

Upon arriving at the common room, she orders a beef stew and settles down at a table at the back of the room. Within a couple minutes the beef stew arrives and after a few bites, she decides it’s the best beef stew she’s ever eaten. After that, her thoughts turn to the events that brought her to Tajemnica.

She was in Rennsheim, a sort of vacation….except Zaranda doesn’t quite know how to relax, so she spent the time looking for clues. For her, the aspect of being a Singular that is the most fun is looking for clues. Recently, she had heard that there were some very old and not widely circulated history books that were located at one of the universities in Rennsheim. She tracked down these books and found two paragraphs that mentioned a group of people that lived in Archen before the Archenians. The books didn’t name who these people were, but it did say they didn’t follow the Archenian gods, but only their one god. They mainly lived in the area near what is now Tajemnica.

So, once Zaranda found this, she was headed for Tajemnica, for certain. The strange thing is that she had received a telegram three days ago from Jarvis and the rest saying they were going to a funeral in Tajemnica and that she should come back to Archenrat and go too. The thing is, she doesn’t even know this person…it was before her time, so she doesn’t see why she ought to show up anyway.

Finished with her meal, Zaranda leaves a tip at the table and heads back to her room. Opening the door to her room, she suddenly finds herself on the floor of her room. Dusting herself off she turns around to see the door closed and two tall burly guys in grey and black holding ridiculously long swords, barring the door. At the desk, Mr. Oswald is calmly regarding her.

“How…What…” Zaranda stammers before Mr. Oswald interrupts. “Have you enjoyed your stay at The Dove, Zaranda?” Zaranda is too astonished and shocked to give an answer so Mr. Oswald continues. “Now that I have your undivided attention, there really is something we need to discuss.”
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Chapter One Empty ...inside a dark wagon

Post by Maledicus on Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:06 am

Blood was trickling down his nose. The train had suddenly jolted a few times, until it finally stopped. One of the boxes of some local food item had fallen down, and almost crushed his face. Instead, it had only hit him slightly on the nose. He was stumbling through the darkness, still feeling a bit dizzy from the impact. Sneaking inside a wagon that was filled with crates of food had seemed like a good idea before, especially regarding his current financial situation. He vowed to never listen to himself again. But now it was time to investigate what had caused the train to come to such a sudden halt. Aran slowly stepped out of the wagon, careful not to be seen. Whatever it was, it had almost caused his death, and it had given him a bloody nose.
It was time to pay.

Jarvis drew out his slingshot as he saw the men escape. They still hadn't noticed him, with all the commotion from the injured people around. He wasn't sure what to do next. There was a lot of dust flowing in the air, so he could barely get a clear line of sight. The smoke from the explosion made him feel slightly nauseous. The boy was still screaming and kicking, trying to break free from his attackers who hastily made their retreat. Jarvis wondered what this was all about. The boy must have been pretty important to get someone to launch such a fierce attack. They definitely didn't seem like professionals, though. The boy could have easily been killed in the explosion, too. Or maybe he wasn't their main target? What were the intentions of those people? And who were they?
Wondering about this for hours wouldn't help anyone, though. There was precious little time, so he had to act, now. The odds were still not great, but he couldn't just sit here and do nothing, could he?

As Jarvis took out some of his custom-made ammunition, Aran kept assessing the situation from the roof of the carriage. Starting a fight here wasn't such a good idea. They might win, but people could get hurt if they weren't careful. He wasn't even able to use any of his explosives with so many people standing around. He would have to watch out that the attackers didn't kill their hostage, too. This would have to be over quickly.
He took out some of his smoke grenades, and readied his knife. The air smelled of smoke and blood. He heard the cries of dying and heavily injured people. Everyone was running around in confusion, never having been in a situation like this before. They were just trying to save their lives, trying to get away from this place, their will to survive taking over all of their actions, disregarding anything or anyone else. This reminded him of the old days, back in Qumar. Back in the time before he...
Something inside him changed. His face frowned, and his body automatically moved into the right position, waiting for the right time to strike, waiting for his instincts to tell him when the moment had come.

There wouldn't be a problem now. He wouldn't let any more of the passengers die today.
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Chapter One Empty Near the train, on the way to Tajemnica...

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:59 pm

Gotta get off the train, it ain’t going to take me where I want to go. Not me nor my prize, nope. Jump off the train…JUMP OFF THE TRAIN! Might as well, how else can I get to my prize, my deliverance, my beauty.

Run! Leg it out, LEG IT OUT!! Run like there is someone chasing you. THERE IS! Or is there? Back to the back…normal car, broken car, normal car, normal car, cargo car…AHHH…flatbed car with my prize, my pretty!!

Candlestein’s brain was definitely not firing on all cylinders today. After Candlestein witnessed the shocking violence and mayhem that resulted in someone being taken forcibly from the train, not to mention the loss of life of a number of passengers, nearly all reason and logic fled him, save for the scrap that told him to find his way to his invention that was on one of the flatbed cars toward the back of the train.

Once there, it took just moments to get the EC-96A off the train. Candlestein felt the flood of adrenaline and panic that overwhelmed him start to drain away as he took the controls of the EC-96A.

“Ahh….deep breaths, deep breaths” murmured Candlestein as he switched switches and dialed dials that had become routine for him in the field testing that he just wrapped up last week. The machine hummed and coughed and generally started to come to life.

“Okay, baby...we’re on our way”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jarvis was ready, yet he wasn’t. This seemed too much like a mission, too much like the recent past that he had turned his back on. What was he doing? Before doubt overcame him, his resolve stuck and he clambered down off the train looking for the best place to get some shots at the attackers. His stun pellets were not lethal, but they usually knocked the victim out for 10 minutes or more.

The problem was, he had virtually no cover on this flat, barren plain. Not a tree, not a boulder. The problem was solved when a nearly 3 meter tall ball-like vehicle? robot? …what it was, Jarvis was unsure, rolled up and stopped right in front of him, blocking his view of the attackers. Jarvis jumped at this opportunity immediately and snuck around the machine, fired off two quick shots that dropped two of the attackers.

He was sneaking around to the other side of the object when he started to hear yelling and cursing from inside of it and at the same time the machine rolled a little more…perhaps a foot. Fearful that it was about to start rolling away, Jarvis backed away from it a little more, but the rolling stopped and the yelling and cursing increased. It seemed to be coming from what must be the cockpit that was above the ball, but connected to the axle. Just then a door in the cockpit burst open and steam or smoke whisped out. After that, a man poked his head out of the door.

“Enz!! Is that you, Enz?!”
Jarvis desperately made every signal to be quiet that he could think of, however Candlestein continued to try to get Jarvis’ attention. Jarvis then aimed his slingshot at Candlestein and Candlestein said “Hey!” with a hurt look on his face. He then disappeared back into the cockpit.

Jarvis marveled at how utterly clueless some of his fellow inventors could be. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a blur drop from the top of the train to the ground, not too far away from him. Jarvis recognizes it is Aran, but he doesn’t look like he’s all there.

“What is he doing?” Jarvis mutters to himself.
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Chapter One Empty At the Dove...downtown Tajemnica

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:07 am

“First of all I want to apologize, both for misleading you and also for ah, roughing you up a bit, just now” Mr. Oswald says in his most calming tone to Zaranda, who’s more than a little freaked out right now. How did this guy get into my room…how does he know my name?

“It was not truly for a dart throwing tour that I wanted you to join. No, I’ve been tasked to build the Oswald clan’s army. Are you familiar with the Oswald clan, Zaranda?” Zaranda paused a little before nodding her head no. Her education wasn’t all that comprehensive. All of what she knew she learned from the Singular monks, her cousin Zacharious and whatever tidbits she picked up around her rural mountain home. Oswald was not a clan name she recognized, but she wasn’t very good at remembering the powerful clans and family names, except of course Mullholland. That one was burned into her brain…her family that didn’t want her.

“The Oswald clan”, continued Mr. Oswald, “is one of the four clans exiled about 70 years ago, after what most Archen history books call the ‘Minor uprising’. In the end, four clans were permanently removed from Archen. All of their land was taken…gone, just like that, overnight because we were on the losing side of the, um, uprising.”

After this Mr. Oswald paused slightly. Zaranda was about to run a string of questions at him, but he continued on. “Now I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all, but I’ve recruited hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers from inns and taverns, all good at darts. We’ve found a direct correlation between accuracy with darts and accuracy with all military grade weapons that we employ. The Oswald army will be rebuilt, and it will return to Archen. It’s the only way the Oswalds can return…by force.”

At this point, Zaranda had to cut him off. Trapped in her room with two burly swordsmen and Mr. Oswald or not, she was getting close to making a break for it if she didn’t get her say in now.

“Look, Mr. Oswald. I have no intention of joining any army. That’s not what I do, ok? I have business elsewhere. Also, if your family was exiled, what are you doing in Archen?”

Mr. Oswald gave her a pitying look and said “Zaranda, you know that even the best security cannot stop something 100% of the time. Besides, if I am caught here, I have a legitimate reason for being here. I do own this inn, the Dove…that is how I know your name and how I’m in your room in the first place.”

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere, thought Zaranda. That explains how he knew my name…but still, why this insistence and persistence?

Mr. Oswald then continued on, “Why are you so quick to refuse? The members of the Oswald army are well paid and are treated with utmost respect. You’re not a strict follower of Tanoi, are you? That you can’t join any military because of that?”

At this, Zaranda gave one of her thoughtful smirks and said, “No…not anything like that, I’m a Singular. I can join any army I wish, it’s just not something I want to do with my life.”

Seizing upon this new piece of information, Mr. Oswald’s face brightens considerably, he stands up and motions to the guards, some weird hand signal. As he’s walking to the door, he says “Ah, a Singular…always searching, hmm? Well, then I have something that should suit you fine. If you wish to know more about the Oswalds and the conditions under which we left, I suggest paying a visit to one of the many excellent libraries. You’ll be sure to find plenty about the Oswalds there. Perhaps even something compelling that would make you want to perhaps sit down and have another conversation with me sometime. Hopefully the books still exist, they might have burned them.”

At this, one of the swordsmen opens the door, the other swordsmen leaves, Mr. Oswald bows to Zaranda and he and the swordsman holding the door exit.
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Chapter One Empty Re: Chapter One

Post by mnesomeye on Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:51 am

This is SO not my day.

He glared at the powdery blue sky, cursing it for reminding him of that boy. He glared at the dew-glistening willows, branches swaying alluringly in the breeze, cursing them for reminding him of that girl. He glared at the handful of armoured men carrying him above their heads in a mock crowd-surf (ironic, as crowd-surfing is something he'd wanted to do for years), guns digging into his spine and skull.

Cursed by default.

The brief had been simple, really; distract the nation into believing that Damaris Heayton - yes, the Damaris Heayton - would be taking the train from Archenrat to Tajemnica... before the train the real Damaris took (although exactly where to had been withheld from him for once). He was to board the train, get off on the other end, and stay in an exclusive 'underground' hotel for a few days before returning. He'd been given specific instructions to carry out on the train, too: stroll around a few carriages to generate some realiable witnesses, and order the mozzarella ciabatta Damaris had recently begun having a thing for... along with...

Cassius glared at the atoms in front of him. Her. This entire situation had been caused by her. See; being an official body double for one of the most elusive, prominent, and attractive teenagers on the continent tended to be a walk in the park. Nobody else in the world got paid to attend parties The Prince (The Prince, by the way, was Damaris' celebrity pseudonym) didn't want to attend. Nobody else in the world got paid to keep stunning, affluent girls company that The Prince didn't feel like talking to (something about not being able to bear their badly-masked advances - not that Cassius minded). And nobody else in the world could match The Prince's almost other-worldly beauty...

...except me, of course, Cassius smirked. Yep, that was the greatest perk of the job - knowing that you were as beautiful (perhaps even more so?) than The Prince himself. Cassius' smirk grew. Although I don't need a job description to tell me that.

But, back the point. Everything had been going swimmingly - he had even ordered the wretched ciabatta Damaris was recently so fond of - when the train had been hijacked and he'd been stolen. Kidnapped. Snatched. (Like a piece of art, Cassius thought.) The men had said absolutely nothing to him other than the mandatory "shut up"; and because of the way they were carrying him, it had become apparent that his flailing and screaming were actually quite useless. Besides, just one of the men weighed at least two of him (although whether this weight was to do with muscles or fat, he wasn't sure), so had decided very quickly that angering them would be a bad, bad move.

And all this, Cassius sighed, because Damaris wanted to spend a few more hours with her, before he went abroad to sign--

It clicked.

And so did one of Jarvis' inventions, as he finally worked out the best way to save the flailing boy from impending doom.
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Chapter One Empty In the eye of the storm

Post by Maledicus on Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:29 pm

When the men saw the little machine moving towards them, it was already too late. No matter what state of mind Aran was in, against this number of enemies, he would need some help. Jarvis knew that, so he had decided to try out his newest invention. Lightning fast, the tiny robot crawled towards the kidnappers, and started to release a chemical agent that, when getting into contact with air, would heavily expand and turn into a spiderweb like substance. It wrapped itself around the limbs, the weapons and the faces of their enemies, making them almost unable to fight. Jarvis smiled as he realised that Aran wouldn't even get to use his beloved smoke-bombs now.

Cassius cursed as he tried to get his hands free. This blasted...thing that had suddenly appeared in the midst of his kidnappers while everybody had still been distracted by this weird, ball-like machine had glued his hands to his face, making it impossible for him to see, and almost impossible to move! His abductors had finally had to let go of him, and now he couldn't even perceive what was happening around him, let alone where he was trying crawl. Really, SO not his day! If it simply hadn't been for--

A long, unreal scream disrupted his thoughts, a sound that seemed more like it had been emitted from the throat of a banshee than that of a human. A gush of some warm liquid hit his sweaty body. Cassius started to panic. He stopped trying to get that stuff from his face, and simply commenced to crawl away as fast as he could. The howl ended in a wet, gurgling sound, and something heavy hit him on his back. He started to scream into his hands as he started to roll down the hill. There was a sharp pain in his head as he hit something hard. As his mind was taken over by a blissful loss of consciousness, Cassius wished he were still in Archenrat, lying in the arms of one of its many beautiful girls.

Aran was finally back in his normal state of mind. Blood was dripping down his hands as he realised again that he would never be able to escape his past. At least he had been able to save the boy. Still, he felt like dirt.
He glared at Jarvis as he tried to break free from those damn spiderwebs which had in the heat of the battle eventually caught hold of his limbs, too. He was still waiting for the day when one of this crazy tinkerer's invention worked just as intended...
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Chapter One Empty Just after the storm...near the train

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:52 pm

Using a small pocketknife covered with some anti-adhesive, Jarvis worked quickly to free the unconscious boy from his home-made spider webs. Certainly more like glue than an actual spider web, nevertheless, the spider bot did its job, or close enough for Jarvis. Aran, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be having such a good time stuck in the webs.

When he finished cutting the boy free, Jarvis walked over to Aran and handed him the specially coated knife, explaining that it would be the easiest way to free him of the webs. Returning to the boy, Jarvis couldn’t shake the feeling that he might have seen the boy somewhere before today. He couldn’t place where, but knew that he’d find out soon enough. The boy was going to be fine…just a nasty concussion, probably.

Just then, there was more yelling…

“Enz! Enz! Do you think you could give me a hand up here? I’m running out of ideas on what could be wrong.” From what Jarvis knew of Candlestein, he wasn’t surprised he was having problems. But did he really want the headache that came with working with Candlestein?

“Enz! Here’s the ladder, I’m lowering it down. I know you’re a whiz with all things electrical. I’m thinkin’ that you’ll fix ‘er right quick.”
“Ok, Ok, Candlestein, I’ll be right up.” Jarvis said in a defeated tone.

Once Aran was free of the webs, he went over to look at the boy. Why did they want this kid? For ransom? Slave labor? Was it a random attack? Aran tried to occupy his mind on this because he sure didn’t feel like reliving what he just did, much less looking at the boy’s former captors. He felt lower than low, but yet the thought bounced around in his mind that he wasn’t truly in control…yet, he did train for this years ago, knowing what would happen…but that meant survival in Qumar, here…it really wasn’t necessary, or was it?

Jarvis had Candlestein’s machine up and running in no time. Candlestein offered to take Jarvis and Aran to Tajemnica, but Jarvis didn’t want to stop at that.

“This compartment has room for at least three more people. I say that we take three of the wounded with us to Tajemnica as well. There’s not much in the way of medical help way out here. What little is on the train is already stretched to thin.” Candlestein paused, perhaps to think over what Jarvis was saying. ‘Ok, Jarvis, but I think I might need some compensation for the extra bodies.”
“Look Candlestein, I have very little. What I can give you is time. When I get back to Archenrat I’ll help you on your next invention.” Candlestein mere shook his head no and said, “This vehicle, the EC-96A is my latest invention…I’m going to be spending a lot of time getting the production of these up and running. Really, all I’m looking for is 50 Gold.” Jarvis, realizing that this is pretty much all he has on him at the moment agrees to the deal.

By this time, Cassius had awakened. Feeling very woozy, he became aware that a tall, scarred man with bloody hands was looking at him. He corrected his earlier thought…this is SO SO not his day. He went to get up, but the scarred man held him by the shoulder and told him to sit back down. Why? Why sit down? Cassius waited for the scarred man to look away, and he bolted for the train…or tried to. He took a few wobbly steps; fell down and then lost his previously eaten lunch. The ciabatta in reverse tastes twice a bad.


Jarvis and Aran picked out the three wounded passengers…passengers that were transportable. They chose the boy that they saved, an elderly woman named Roza whose arm was broken and a little girl who was maybe 5 or 6 who had burns on both her arms and was unconscious. They loaded up the passengers and were on their way to Tajemnica.

After a few minutes of travel, they found out the boy they saved was none other than Damaris Heayton – whoever that was. Jarvis recognized the last name – who wouldn’t, but couldn’t recall any Heaytons named Damaris. Nevertheless, Damaris insisted that they take him immediately to Tajemnica. That he was staying at penthouse suite in the Dove. This boy didn’t once ask about the passengers on the train or even get close to thanking them for saving him. Jarvis came to the conclusion that he expected to be saved.

Aran’s mood was improving…they were doing some good. He wasn’t sure what would happen to those he killed. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps no one cared about them and there would be no repercussions. Still, he didn’t feel safe. The federal police could soon be looking for him. Just then, the machine jolted up a bit and landed and a book from an overhead compartment fell on Aran’s leg. He picked it up and noticed it was written in Qumarian. It was an instruction manual on how to work this machine. Why in Qumarian though? He pointed at it and nudged Jarvis.

“Qumarian?” asked Jarvis. Aran nodded. Jarvis was beginning to become suspicious of Candlestein. How could such an inept inventor as Candlestein have invented this brilliant piece of machinery? Why was the instruction manual written in Qumarian? Why were they now heading away from Tajemnica? What? Headed away from Tajemnica?

“Candlestein, just where are we going?” asked Jarvis with an edge to his voice that was just short of panic.
“We can’t go to Tajemnica…look! Draugar!! There are three of them over there!!” Candlestein said while driving and wildly pointing his finger to the right at the three Draugar just beyond the Tajemnica city limits.
“So, it’s probably just a patrol. They’ll stop us. You’ll show them your credentials and we’ll be on our way.” Candlestein didn’t answer but kept driving away from Tajemnica.
“You don’t have credentials do you, Candlestein?”
“It’s not that”, said Candlestein, “it’s just that this machine is quite illegal.”

Aran had had enough. He whispered to Jarvis and Jarvis whispered back, nodding. Jarvis held Candlestein’s arms so that he was unable to drive; Aran grabbed the controls and after his quick read of the instructions, slowed the vehicle to a halt as the Draugars closed in.
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Chapter One Empty Bragedorf, a small village in NE Yapra

Post by Spike Matthews on Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:10 pm

Hawman stumbled out of the inn, disgusted with himself. For some reason, he’d fallen for Drengler’s trick again. That made it... after a brief attempt to count on his fingers, Hawman gave up. It didn’t help he seemed to have more fingers that he usually did. Or was it less? He wasn’t quite sure. All he did know was that he’d had too many glasses of Drengler’s schnapps. Pure gold it may be as far as taste went, it was liquid hell for the rest of the body and anything after three shots was seen as heroically stupid.

And right now, Hawman was feeling particularly stupid as he shambled home. However, some little known part of him knew that it was wisest to avoid the main street and was directing his unsteady legs around the edge of the small village. If nothing else, the nearby trees were likely to be of great use to him. Indeed, more than once, Hawman’s shambling, alcohol-sodden brain misdirected his legs into the roots of a tree, whereupon he clung gratefully to the trunk of whichever larch he’d encountered. Each time, he took a moment to gather the few wits remaining to him and set off once more.

Some time later, he wondered why he hadn’t seen his house yet. After all, it was only three buildings away from the inn. That’s when he became aware he had been going the wrong way around the edge of the village. Cursing prolifically, he turned unsteadily and headed back the way he came. As he passed the glowing lights of the inn once more, the further thought filtered through that his original path had taken him that far around the village, he had almost reached his house from the other direction.

F’k this, he thought, I need a piss.

He chose a likely looking spruce behind a house, leaned one hand against its sticky trunk, and sighed happily as the steaming jet splashed onto the roots. It was only when he went to move away from the tree that he found the sap he’d leant against had glued his hand securely to the gnarled bark. Swearing, he reached up his other hand to push himself away, but stopped himself just in time as he realised that this would only succeed in trapping that hand too. He was just congratulating himself on his quick wit when his breeches, freed from support of either belt or hand, slid down to his ankles.

It was at this point that the area was lit by a bright blue light, a light that came from right behind him. The light died as quickly as it had come, but Hawman was aware of movement behind him. There were footsteps; one person and an animal on all fours. The person, after an initial, muffled snorting noise, was still and quiet. The animal, on the other hand, padded towards the luckless Hawman. As it passed by him, he saw it was a large do- no, it was a mountain wolf! Feeling horribly sober and incredibly exposed, Hawman could do nothing but watch as the wolf glanced briefly at him and then cocked a leg and urinated against the tree. Sweat pouring down his face, Hawman hardly dared to breathe as the wolf sat a short distance away, watching him with mouth agape and tongue lolling. He had the distinct feeling it was laughing at him.

“Well now, Hawman. You have got yourself into a fix, haven’t you?”

Hawman jumped – he’d been concentrating on the wolf so hard he’d forgotten there was someone else there. Not only that, it was someone who knew hi... “Ralkin!” He gasped and jerked around, tearing his hand painfully free of the sticky spruce trunk. Unfortunately, the movement unbalanced him and he collapse in an ignominious heap at the base of the tree – right where he and the wolf had relieved themselves...

Ralkin pushed back the hood of his weathered cloak and leaned on his tall staff. He fingered a scarred earlobe thoughtfully as he looked down at the besotted wretch on the ground. He smile wryly, “how is it, Hawman, that a man with such control over sheep has such trouble after a few nips of – oho! Has Drengler been fooling you into drinking his ‘schnapps’ again?”
When Hawman nodded, Ralkin covered his mouth with the sleeve of his patchwork tunic. Dejected, Hawman saw the other man’s shoulders shake with suppressed mirth. He rolled onto his knees and struggled to his feet, pulling at his breeches with his least sticky hand. He was about to attempt to brush the sap-glued pine needles from his hand, when Ralkin caught his wrist. He looked at him in surprise.

“The only way that’s coming off is with hot water and scrubbing, my friend,” said Ralkin, not unkindly. He steered the unfortunate man away from the trees, “Let us go home and get you cleaned and sobered. And I can partake of Mayla’s cooking once more. Believe me, my intemperate friend, when you have been eaten nothing but boiled cowhide for a week, even your wife’s food is fit for the gods.”

The two men walked away unsteadily and then stopped. Ralkin looked back at the wolf, who had not moved since seating himself. No words were said, but the wolf understood the unspoken invitation and trotted after them. This was becoming all rather interesting, thought the wolf.


Last edited by Spike Matthews on Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:19 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I cocked up the name of the village.)
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Chapter One Empty Just south of downtown Tajemnica

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Fri Aug 28, 2009 9:24 pm

It was late morning and lazy white clouds drifted across the sky, but to the west, it appeared as if there might be rain on the way. None of this crossed Zaranda’s mind as she stared at nothing in particular, lost in thought. She was on a small hill in a park that overlooked the river that flowed through Tajemnica. Even her proximity to water did not disturb her as it usually would. Her mind churned over and over trying to figure out exactly what Mr. Oswald knew about her, since it seemed that he knew quite a bit. How could he predict that she would react to the Oswald history as she did? Was she going beyond mistrust and into paranoia? Probably not, but she wanted to re-hash everything that happened that might help sort some things out.

Earlier that morning, she started with the only library open at 7am. It didn’t have much in the way of information, only verification that the Oswalds were one of the original 10 clans and also one of four that was exiled. The largest library, the one that belonged to the city itself had almost nothing on the clans. The next two smaller neighborhood libraries offered nothing of interest either. Not until she got to university square did she find any that really had any information.

It was at Wysoki University library that she finally found a reason behind why the Oswalds were exiled. It turns out that this was in an era when Archen was just undergoing the expansion of its empire. Wealthy families competed for the treasures that distant lands brought. There were claims and counter-claims on many places. In most cases, the Oswalds were making claims on the same lands as the Mullhollands. The families were in direct competition with each other for years and built up a healthy hatred for each other. One thing lead to another and the powerful families each formed their own army – this was the birth of the clan/family armies that are around today. What ensued was more or less a civil war. The Oswalds and three other clans were banished because they lost the war.

The next university library’s books confirmed all of this and added one more thing. There was a biography of one of the leaders of the Oswalds at the time. It was said that he could command water to do what he wished. The Oswalds and the other clans flaunted their incredible powers, while the other families denied their existence. Back in those times, it was feared that if one exercised these powers that the wrath of the gods would be upon them, their people and their country.

Knowing all of this just made Zaranda angry. Why would Mr. Oswald want her, because he somehow knew she was a Mullholland? How was that even remotely possible? No one knows she’s a Mullholland, heck, she didn’t even know for quite some time. Part of her would love to see the Mullholland empire destroyed. However, joining up with the Oswalds would almost ensure that the freedom she now enjoys would be diminished. No more running around on quests to find new Singular evidence, most likely. Right now, she could handle odd jobs…working for Jarvis now and again, working for Archen Post delivering packages to rural places they didn’t deliver to and maintain her freedom. The revenge she felt was needed was very tempting. Too tempting, maybe.

She was angry at the Mullhollands…had been for some time. She was getting more and more angry with the Oswalds, feeling like she was almost being forced into their army by what she read. Right now, she still had a choice.

Staring glumly at the ground next to where she sat, she noticed a gray caterpillar crawling near her knee. Very gently, she whooshed air away from her and then back, bringing the caterpillar with it. It dropped down onto her hand, oblivious to the fact that it had been lifted from the ground to her hand. It crawled around in her hand, exploring it and finding no tasty leaves at all. She never really had any cats or dogs growing up…no pets at all really, so she adopted all of the insects that she could, since she could move them around, using her power to move air. Ants, spiders, crickets…they were all her little friends.

She put the caterpillar back on the ground. As she was standing up, a blue and yellow bird swooped down and picked up the caterpillar in its beak and took off, into the air. In a fit of rage, Zaranda shot air away from her fast, sending the bird crashing into a nearby tree trunk.
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Chapter One Empty Re: Chapter One

Post by mnesomeye on Mon Aug 31, 2009 7:50 am

Silence descended on the cabin as the Draugar closed in. Even the wounded made no sound, although Jarvis wouldn't have been at all surprised if they chose now to leap up and throttle Candlestein. After all, it was one thing to narrowly escape death.

It was another to narrowly escape death and then be thrust back in its path by a half-crazed criminal you'd just entrusted your life to.

"Good morning," one of the three Draugar began. This one had a low female voice. "Please do not be alarmed; you are not under threat or arrest." Aran snorted in irony. "Due to a recent string of CC-RV {CC-RV - cross-country robovehicle} thefts, Draugar patrols have been commissioned to verify all cross-country robots and/or vehicles travelling over Archen or Archen-held city borders. Once your vehicle has been verified you will be tagged with an electronic transmitter, exempting you from any further patrols you may encounter. To verify your vehicle, please present valid ownership credentials to any of the three Draugar present. Rental and "Borrower" credentials are also gladly accepted. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you."

Jarvis couldn't help but smile. Archen was well known for their government robots having exceptional politeness, and he once remembered watching a Draugar apologise profusely to a criminal before vaporising the man's weapon and vehicle. He'd always wondered who on earth had programmed that.

The unbroken silence continued.

"Credentials, please," the Draugar repeated, it's single 'eye' settling on them. Aran and Jarvis looked at each other. If they got arrested, they'd be put away for life - the government may have not been able to pin them down yet, but they knew the faces of nearly every single male thief taker alive like the back of their hands. (The government was also sexist - they didn't believe females could be part of such a group.)

After a few seconds it became apparent that nobody had any good ideas, and there was no point in asking the victims - most Archenfolk had never set foot in CC-RVs. They were reserved for the highly inventive or the extremely wealthy, as cross-country credentials were very expensive and had to be repurchased every time you crossed the border of your destination. Most Archenfolk had smaller 'residential' RVs, but all these required were a valid location license (i.e. a license showing which cities your vehicle was registered to drive in), and a retinal scan. This made normal RVs tricky to steal. However, it was common knowledge that cross-country robots were easy to snatch if you knew how to drive them...

...and as Jarvis was thinking this, it clicked. Candlestein was the one who had been stealing the CC-RVs! It explained why the handbook had been written in Qumarian, and why he'd demanded 50 gold pieces so roughly - the second he got into Tajemnica, he'd been planning to buy a licence. The cliché 'it made his blood boil' can't accurately describe the violent rush of rage Jarvis felt at that moment - it was only the sudden act of Damaris (aka Cassius) leaning out of the to face the Draugar that stopped him killing Candlestein there and then.

"Good day, Draugar v298," Cassius smiled, reading the closest machine's name-plate. "I am Damaris Heayton. I ask that this machine have exemption to Tajemnica only, and urgent rite-of-passage via the nearest hospital to The Dove. We are travelling from a train crash a few miles south-west of here; there are three severely injured citizens on board that we are rescuing, along with at least four dozen others with injuries just as serious on-scene. I also require of you to fetch enough air assistance to carry approximately two hundred people to Tajemnica, whether injured or unharmed; the train in question did not have two hundred passengers, but space needs be made for their luggage. This is an order."

There was a short pause as the robot processed all this information.

"Evidence, please?" it finally asked. Cassius reached his hand down his t-shirt and pulled out a small locket. It was a delicate silver thing, shaped like a coat of arms. The Heayton seal, Jarvis slowly realised. The boy held it up to the machine, a smirk flashing across his features.

"We apologise for inconveniencing your travels, Sir Heayton," Draugar v298 replied after scanning the necklace. A second Draugar busied itself tagging the machine with a message that would get them to Tajemnica, but disappear after crossing the border. A few seconds later it was done, and the three robots rose to their full height, nodding at the EC-96A in respect as they turned away. Aran detachedly noticed they'd actually been crouching slightly to see them better. "Good day, Sir," they unisoned, and began a sprint toward the location Cassius had described.

"Right, chop chop old man," Cassius chirped at Candlestein, ignoring the open mouth that greeted him. "We don't have all day!"
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Chapter One Empty At the Dove...downtown Tajemnica

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:51 pm

Zaranda’s walk back to the Dove was a continued mish-mash of warring internal opinions. What it was boiling down to was – could she still live the life she was living now and somehow help out the Oswald cause? How could she do this without giving away her reasons? Perhaps she should demand to have her personal freedoms while appearing to need - not revenge – but convey a sense of trying to clean up Archen in some way?

It was a razor thin edge, perhaps…too pushy and they don’t even give her a chance, but giving in too much to their demands might mean less freedom for herself. Not to mention…she wasn’t sold on the Oswald cause as a whole…not that she knew completely what it was anyway, other than it opposed the Mullhollands.

Walking past the front desk, she noticed two new people there…a younger boy and older woman behind the front desk. Not the kindly old man that was there all of the other times. She shrugged this off as no big deal…the Dove probably employed many people.

When she got back to her room, she found a envelope and inside was this note:

Zaranda,

I’m definitely interested to know if you have made any kind of decision about your future. If you wish to discuss your future, please visit the front desk and ask for Mr. Oswald. They will show you where I will meet with you.

Kind regards,

D. Oswald


Hmm. The pressure is back on already! It was 20 past noon and despite not eating anything more than buttered bread early this morning, Zaranda did not want to think about lunch right now. Might as well get this meeting over with…now!
With anxiety starting to ramp up, Zaranda went to the front desk as instructed. The older woman directed her to a conference room just to the left of the front desk. Walking in, Zaranda was surprised at how ornate a simple conference room was. Most inns didn’t even have conference rooms, let alone one with rare and finely crafted chairs and the table…it was all marble and leather and wood. It looked very heavy and very expensive.

Zaranda saw no one in the room, so she wandered about a bit and noticed two pieces of artwork. One was very simple. It was a dove on a branch and two in flight. There really was no background, just the upper left was grey and the lower right was black. Looked almost like a stylized coat-of-arms. The other was of a castle that seemed familiar. Perhaps it was one that she had seen on the other side of the river…or was it the one near the port? She wasn’t sure, but it was almost certainly somewhere in Tajemnica.

Just then, the two burly grey and black outfitted guards appeared…without the swords this time. They came through a door at the opposite end of the table from the door Zaranda had entered. A moment or two after them, Mr. Oswald appeared. Hmm…Zaranda thought…No sign of Bumble and Stumble…wonder what happened to the guys that chased her through the park and into the woods?

Mr. Oswald smiled greatly saying “Zaranda, I’m glad you are here. Please have a seat.” Then after they had settled into their seats he began again, “So, I’m curious to see what you found in your search. Do you now understand why the Oswalds are coming back?” To this question, Zaranda had no clue other than the obvious, “Well, because you were exiled. But that’s something you already told me, so I guess I still don’t completely understand why.”

At this, Mr. Oswald’s smile lost much of its steam and barely smirking now, he replied, “Really…no clear reason on why we are coming back?” At this Zaranda half-shrugged. Beyond the open door near the front desk, some sort of discussion was getting a little louder, so one of the burly guys went over to the door to see what was going on. Zaranda’s anxiety level was still on the rise. Mr. Oswald, now getting closer to a puzzled frown then asked, “So, what is it that you feel that you wanted to meet with me again…or are you here to tell us you are not interested? Which is it?” At this Zaranda wasn’t sure where to turn with the answer without mentioning the Mullhollands and/or extraordinary powers that the Oswalds revere. Zaranda was only able to reply “Yes, but…”, when the argument outside the door got very loud. The guard near the door made some sort of hand signal to Mr. Oswald and Mr. Oswald blurted, “We’ll have to put this on hold. It seems I have a bit of an emergency.”

Mr. Oswald headed out the door near the front desk and the guards followed. Zaranda decided to see what had interrupted everything at the perfect time. What she saw was a young man, not too much younger than her arguing with the clerks at the front desk. At his side was a crazed looking man…much older, perhaps 50 or so? Mr. Oswald was hurrying towards those arguing when Zaranda spotted someone she recognized. There, near the entrance to the Dove was Jarvis staring at the argument and shaking his head distractedly. Right next to him was someone she was also familiar with…Aran! She had worked with Jarvis on a number of odd deliveries and with the both of them on some hush-hush, super-secret thief-taker type missions. She knew Jarvis would be Tajemnica, but had no idea he’d wind up at the Dove. She had no idea Aran would be here. Maybe today was going to be ok after all.
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Chapter One Empty Re: Chapter One

Post by Maledicus on Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:58 am

"Aren't you listening? I am Damaris Heayton, and I demand your assistance!"

Aran was getting more and more annoyed by their new acquaintances. After the group had let off the wounded at the local hospital, the Heayton-boy had offered to get them rooms at The Dove, to thank them for his rescue, as he claimed.
The only problem was that he had just assumed that his name alone would be enough to get room not only for everyone in the group, but also for that stupid giant stolen EC-something, even though in all of Tajemnica, there probably wasn't any place where they could leave this thing! The boy might have been able to command the Draugar, but he could only do that because those were actually part of the government. He couldn't just command any ordinary citizen...if this citizen was protected by someone with enough power to not be intimidated by the boy's name.

"We are very sorry, but we just don't have the place for that...monster you brought with you. We cannot keep it here, especially with the investigation about those stolen machines going on. Please understand, sir, we don't want any trouble..."

Great. Just great. The investigation was going on inside this city, too, and even the Heayton-boy wouldn't be able to protect them if anyone actually found out that this thing was stolen. And the way things were looking, the owner of this place would surely report them to some authorities soon...

"There will only be trouble for you if you don't immediately let..."
"What is the meaning of all of this noise out here?"

A man, as big and as round as a barrel of Tajemnican ale, stormed into the entrance area. He carried an air of importance with him, and didn't look like he was willing to take any orders by Damaris, or even the entire supreme council, for that matter. Just as Aran cursed their decision to even consider sleeping in this place instead of some dark, cold, but well-hidden back alley, he heard the sound of a familiar voice coming from the room in the back...


"They're my friends, Mr. Oswald.",said Zaranda as she followed Mr. Oswald through the door.
"Zaranda! So you did come to attend the funeral?" Jarvis was excited to see their old friend here. She had always been a reliable ally in battle, and had helped them out of more than one dangerous situation. Even Aran seemed to loosen up a little as he recognised the young woman.
Zaranda, too, got excited as she thought about what Jarvis had said. Of course, the funeral! This could be her chance to get out of here, and at least have a little more time to think about all of this!
"You're perfectly right, Jarvis, I just had to follow your invitation to say my last goodbye to..." what in the world was his name again? "this old friend. Please, Mr. Oswald, take care of this while we're gone. Come, Jarvis, Aran, we must hurry!"
"But...but we...",stammered Jarvis, as Zaranda pulled his arm after her.
The group was still trying to figure out just what had just happened, as a baffled Mr. Oswald could do nothing but watch them leave The Dove...


Last edited by Maledicus on Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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Chapter One Empty Tajemnica - early afternoon

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Sun Oct 04, 2009 12:19 am

It was nearly a block later that Jarvis shook his arm free of Zaranda and Aran caught up to them. He wasn’t at all sure what Zaranda had in mind, dragging them outside and away from the Dove, but whatever it was, it better be important.

“Ah…Zaranda”, said Jarvis, adjusting his coat that had one sleeve pulled out too far, “where exactly do you think we are going? The funeral is not until this evening…plus, I wasn’t completely sure that you wanted to go…you didn’t even know him.”

At this Zaranda got a funny smirk on her face and said “We just had to get out of there. I worked myself into a corner over the past couple days. That lumbering barrel-shaped guy in grey, that is Mr. Oswald…he well…he wanted me to join his army.”

This bit of information puzzled Jarvis. Aran managed to spit out “Army?” with enough disgust, that you’d think the temperature dropped 10 degrees.

Zaranda, perhaps feeling that she needed to at least partly explain this started walking down the block and the others followed. She then said, “I don’t have a regular job, as you know. I’d get regular pay, perhaps a normal house to live in, instead of being a nomad all the time.”

Aran nodded at this, but still seemed annoyed at the thought of anyone wanting to be in an army. Jarvis, however, had his wheels turning and was growing more and more alarmed by what he was thinking…
”Zaranda, you said his name was Oswald, right?”
“Right.”
This confirmed Jarvis’ suspicion. “Zaranda, do you realize that there should be no one with the last name of Oswald in Archen? They were exiled many, many years ago. I’m surprised he was so bold as to use that name.”

Zaranda sighed. “Well, actually, I did do a little research and found that the Oswalds were exiled, but that was actually one of the things that made me want to join his army. The way things are in Archen now, I think it might be best if I helped take out some of the completely corrupt elite families. This sounded like what Mr. Oswald had in mind…but I didn’t get to hear his plans. Nor would I unless I actually signed up, I guess.”

Now it was Aran’s turn to speak, “War is a terrible thing…the constant worry, the constant battle. It gets in you and becomes a part of you. You don’t want to live that life. Trust me.” Jarvis and Zaranda both looked at Aran with a small amount of surprise. They both knew Aran was from Qumar. They both knew that Qumar was under a constant state of war, but they never really got much of any comment on his past from Aran. This was the most he had ever revealed of his personal history.

Zaranda, recovering from what Aran had said, then tried to make them see that a battle against the elite families on the side of the Oswalds at least made some sort of sense.

Jarvis countered, “Fighting on the Oswalds’ side won’t do much of anything. If the Oswalds win, then what? What if they are even more corrupt than those at the top now? What can be gained from that?”

Zaranda didn’t seem to have a come back to that, but instead nodded in agreement. “I would like to do something that means something, you know? Something that I can feel good about. I don’t mind delivering packages. I get to see much of Archen and sometimes beyond, but it doesn’t satisfy my sense of justice, if that makes any sense. Sure, the Singular stuff is great...on the spiritual side of things, but there is really no setting wrongs right in that.”

Jarvis admitted that he didn’t know Zaranda all that well. This made him think that maybe he was starting to understand her a little more. He decided he couldn’t think very much longer until they had eaten. They found a small restaurant nearby that didn’t seem to have a name. They went in and ordered some food. As they were sitting down, Aran brought forth an idea: “Why don’t we go into the thief-taking business full time? It was always something I liked doing. I know Zaranda was along on a few missions, but not nearly as many as you and I, Jarvis. We get to correct what is wrong with Archen one mission at a time. We’re there to help out those that need help the most. Maybe we could go on a mission for Mr. Oswald. That would help you out, right Zaranda? Jarvis, you need a new lab, right?”

Jarvis countered, “My lab is just fine. It’s small, it’s damp and not as nice as my old one, but it works.”

Aran wasn’t convinced “But you have 10 times the space at the old place, once it’s fixed up. You were just telling me this as we drove through Tajemnica. Why not? Give me one good reason…”

Jarvis could think of one good reason not to, but it was the same reason that he should: Tilda Schon. His lab assistant 6 years ago that turned up dead. The authorities ruled it a suicide, but Jarvis never believed that she would ever take her own life. It was the first thief-taker work he ever did, and one he never solved. He ran into the heavy hand of the Heaytons everywhere he turned. The Schon clan, although not an elite family, was quite influential, but they supported the Heaytons 100%. Perhaps their support was completely blind. Jarvis hoped that was so.
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Chapter One Empty Meanwhile...

Post by mnesomeye on Sun Oct 11, 2009 4:55 am

The heat of the argument happening in the lobby of The Dove could've killed a grown man. Spit was flying, sweat was rolling, and if rage had a smell the room would be reeking of it.

"Don't you know who I AM, you over-sized buffoon? DAMARIS HEAYTON! I had your LARGEST room booked WEEKS ag--"
"For the love of Yngvdall, we cannot keep stolen CC-RVs in or near this hotel! The entire place, guests and all, would be arrested! Can't you understand that?! Think of somebody other than yoursel--"
"Please, please, keep the noise down! There is a temple nearby, and we are disrupting their worshi--"
"Does anyone know where the toilets ar--"
"MY BABY! MY BABY! YOU CAN'T TAKE HER AWAY FROM ME! SHE MIGHT NOT BE LEGIT, BUT SHE'S MI--"
"HEAYTON! Are you from the stone age, or something?! My names ends with HEAYTON!!!"

- - -

"But why don't you like your surname, D?" Two large, blinking eyes wondered. "The Heaytons are the most powerful family in the whole... country! World! Universe!" She stretched her hands up to the sky and stood on tip-toes to demonstrate her point. Damaris shook his head and smiled. Everything she seemed to do was endearing...

"Yes; we are. But we gained that power in ways too inhumane to be proud of. Everything powerful in this world - everything - is corrupt. The families, the companies - even the religions." She blinked over at him, not noticing her arms were still stretched skyward, completely enthralled with his words. "I don't want to be associated with that... with them. I want to... to make a difference in this horrid, corrupt world. But joining the government's police force is out of the question, as the government is also corrupt; and I'm too young to do charity work. I give all the money I can, but it doesn't feel the same. I just want... to help mankind. Personally."

Just then - as if a gift from Tanoi herself - the girl watched a ramshackle trio of people walk in exhaustion toward an un-named restaurant. The grin that crossed her face could easily match that of the Cheshire Cat's. She grabbed the boy's hand, and didn't notice his face change colour as she dragged him off the bench he was sitting on.

"I think I might just have your answer."

- - -

"So... what do you think? Should we go into this business full-time?" Aran pressed. Jarvis looked at him with detached interest, mulling over the pros and cons. Zaranda was thinking hard, weighing up each option with an almost mathematical intelligence. Then, randomly, she frowned.

"Jarvis?" He looked at her, not realising she was looking out the window. "Isn't that--"

Before she could finish, the door slammed open and a giggling blur launched itself onto Jarvis' lap. "I missed you!" it grinned.

Jarvis blinked.

"Savv!?"
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Chapter One Empty Tajemnica - the Dove and Turnip Street

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Sun Nov 08, 2009 12:14 am

Cassius was absolutely stumped that he was not getting his way. Normally, people would recognize him as Damaris, and if not that, they would bow, bend, break at the name Heayton. Somehow, this bellowing old barrel was completely clueless. Maybe it was time to cut his losses and be rid of this Candlestein joke of a man. Other than being his chauffeur, a role he seemed to jump into without being told, as if his Heayton-ness demanded a chauffeur, Candlestein recognized this and…that was that, right? It seemed like it worked that way.

“Okay, okay…we’ll park the vehicle somewhere else…okay?” Cassius finally conceded.

The big grey suited man gave him a long look before saying “Now, it wasn’t that difficult was it? There is a public lot for those things, but that’s over 12 blocks north of here.”

Candlestein looked absolutely frantic, like a cat caught in a roomful of snarling dogs. Cassius nearly felt a twinge of pity, but instead just said, “Go on, old man…go move the machine.”

Candlestein’s frantic look got slightly more frantic as he said “We can’t leave it there. It’d be gone in the morning, plus, it’s too far away, much too far away. I…we…we can’t have that.”

Cassius was quickly getting annoyed with Candlestein, even though he sort of needed him. “Do you have a better suggestion then?” Cassius asked Candlestein.

At this point, the…what was his name…the owner of this place was not yet out of the room, when he turned and said “What you could do, is go down two blocks and turn right. That street, Turnip Street, goes for two blocks and then dead-ends at the river. There are no houses there. I know, I was looking at building something there recently. It’s probably safer than the lot.”

Candlestein excitedly ran out of the building muttering “yeah, yeah, sounds good…” and just like that, he was out of sight.

Soon after, the man-barrel appeared again, and motioned for Cassius to join him in another room. This didn’t seem to make sense…something didn’t seem right to Cassius, but he went anyway. Perhaps this would give him a chance at redemption and put this man in his place.

“Mr. Heayton, I don’t believe we were formally introduced, I’m Damon Oswald, owner of this fine inn that you will be staying at, while you are in Tajemnica.” Upon hearing the word “Oswald” it seemed that someone gave his brain a small jolt. Cassius couldn’t believe what he was hearing…something straight out of a nursery rhyme that he and nearly all Archen youth knew - ‘Oswald, Trachsel, Uberrand, were sent to distant foreign lands.’ No one…NO ONE with any of those names existed in Archen. If they did, they certainly wouldn’t announce it as blatantly as this man just did.

“I’m Damaris Heayton…of the Archenrat Heaytons.” Then there was a short pause. “You said Oswald, right?”

After an even longer pause, Mr. Oswald replied “Yes, I know what you are probably thinking…why on earth is someone named Oswald here in Archen, right? Well, it all comes down to taking back what is rightfully ours. That which was stolen from us, we are going to take back. Namely, our place in Archen. The Mullhollands stole it, we are going to take it back.” After this, Mr. Oswald paced around a bit and seemed to be really thinking over what he was going to say next. Cassius was trying to think of a way to leave the room, but knew it was pointless.

Oswald continued, “I don’t know what level of clearance you have within the Heaytons, but I’m guessing you have the power to propose business transactions to your superiors?” Cassisus nodded.

“Good, if you agree to the terms, I’d like to draw up an agreement between the houses of Oswald and Heayton. Not legally binding until your superiors sign it, of course, but I think we could come to some sort of understanding.”

-----------------------------------------

Candlestein woke up…it was getting dark, the sun was going down. Had he fallen asleep? Confused, he began to look around the vehicle for his watch. After parking it, he wanted only to take a short nap in it, now it was getting dark. 6pm now? Not that he had anywhere to go. Out of the corner of his eye, Candlestein, saw movement out the window. The next instant, there was smoke in the vehicle’s cabin…where was that coming from? Candlestein checked around frantically…where was the fire? Before he could check around everywhere, the smoke coalesced into a dark figure sitting next to him. It said “Evening, Candlestein…”
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Chapter One Empty Re: Chapter One

Post by mnesomeye on Thu Nov 12, 2009 3:29 pm

"--and then he took me to this waterfall with a secret cave behind it and you'll never guess what, there were these crystals inside, and he secretly took one back home to his family jeweller's and cut me a necklace, the one I'm wearing it now, and--"

"Savv?" Jarvis tried.

"--it's amber like the colour of the sunset we watched while we were there, and I wish I could've painted it for you to see, but unfortunately I can't pa--"

"SAVANNAH MEYERS!"

Savv shrunk, like a young puppy who'd just been chastened and didn't understand why. Jarvis sighed in a fatherly way, a sight rare to Aran - and totally alien to Zaranda. Damaris was torn between the urge to comfort Savv, or cringe violently at the passionate way she'd recounted some of their 'this-would-have-been-a-date-if-she'd-actually-realised-it' dates.

He gingerly studied the floor, instead. Tiled. Nice.

"Now... what exactly was it you wanted to say before you went off on that little tangent?" Jarvis smiled.
"Well--"
"What the hell are you doing here?" Aran snarled.

Savv's eyes grew wide, and she turned to look at Aran from the safety of Jarvis' lap, puppy-dog routine all lined up to win him over. When she discovered it wasn't her the snarl was directed at, she relaxed - but only for a second.

"Damaris? He's my friend... !" Savv began; but Aran had leapt from his chair and threatened him into a corner - using just his eyes - before she'd even finished the sentence. Damaris twiched slightly. This encounter was growing beyond weird, and the fact that Savv seemed so cosy around the three strange adults made it even weirder.

"You are nothing but a selfish, arrogant, FOOLISH waste of my - and everyone else's - space. Get the HELL away from Savannah, and don't even think about dragging her into your nasty little world. I see the way you look at women, and quite frankly, it disgusts me." Zaranda could barely keep up with what was going on. Aran was a man of very little words, let alone descriptive ones - what was with the speech? And why did everyone seem to be so protective of the scrawny little girl cowering in Jarvis' arms?

She'd only seen her a few times before, and noticed that she'd never contributed to the missions they were on. Jarvis seemed to look after her when their missions were on a 'lull' - when they were doing book-based research, or lying low in one of their numerous bases for a while. Zaranda understood the girl was obviously related to Jarvis in some way... but even Aran was protecting her. There must be more to her than met the eye.

A hell of a lot more, considering how little there was of the girl.

"I'm not who you think I am!" Damaris jittered.
"And neither am I," Aran deadpanned. "Now get out."
"No, no, please listen!" Damaris continued, arms beginning to flail. "I'm not him! I'm... I mean, I..."

Damaris looked toward the counter of the restaurant. The owner had disappeared into the kitchen, and the comforting clanging of pots and pans echoed across the flagstone tiles. Nobody could hear what he was about to say except the three in front of him. They would be the first to hear this secret outside his circle; and all for his silly, wonderful Savannah. A peaceful smile crossed his face.

"... my body double. You met my body double. His name is Cassius. I am the real Damaris Heayton."
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Chapter One Empty Tajemnica - In the Restaurant and in front of the Grave

Post by Maledicus on Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:10 pm

„And why, in Arenthu's name, should we believe you? We've been with a boy claiming to be Damaris Heayton for the last few hours, and he sure looked exactly like you...“, snarled Aran at the boy, moving his face so close to Damaris that he had to step back a few feet. Savannah was scared out of her mind, but she had to do something – Aran looked like he was about to rip her friend apart!
„It's true, Aran! He's been with me this whole time... he can't be the person you met. And... he said he wanted to do something with his life, something that mattered, and then I saw you guys, so I thought...
...but now...“

Aran slowly moved back as he saw that Savannah had tears in her eyes. Was she serious? This little rich kid was supposed to join their ranks? Ignoring the fact that Aran didn't think he would be able to contribute any skills at all to their group, letting him join would only bring them additional danger! The Heaytons were a powerful family, and they wouldn't just let one of their own join a group of outlaws like a thief-takers group. Still, it would probably be better to back away, at least for now... they had caused enough of a ruckus in here... and maybe he would just quietly disappear on his own, without producing any more-
„That's right. I am the real Damaris Heayton, so you better stop frightening Savv this instant, or you will get what you deserve!“, Damaris commanded in a tone that reflected a courage Aran had not expected of him, and that few could muster in the face of Qumar's former military elite, as he bumped his shoulder into Aran's chest while walking back to Savannah.

Now don't push it, kid...




Thunder came down from the sky as the group made their way to the graveyard. In the end, they had decided to leave the decision until later – the decision about Damaris joining the group, and also about what they should do with their lives.
The priest of the Nomari was already waiting for them, the four obligatory brazen robots carrying the coffin beside him, as they approached the grave. Mixed feelings could be seen on the thief-takers' faces while they listened to his speech. It sounded rehearsed, lacking passion, but Jarvis was lost in his own thoughts, anyway. He didn't know much about the circumstances of Creorenth's death. None of them did. It had been a long time since they had last seen him, and now, they had to meet him again like this.
Jarvis train of thought was disturbed as one of the carrier-robots (very old pieces of machinery, rusted from too many years of use) stumbled and let go of the deceased thief-takers coffin. Savv screamed and turned away, frightened by the prospect of having to see Creo's dead body. What she saw as she slowly turned back again may have been less frightening, but it's implications were far more scary.
There was no body inside the coffin, and there had never been one in there, everyone realised as they looked at the now wide open wooden box in disbelief, empty save for a few rocks which looked like they would way roughly as much as a human body.

The priests face turned pale as his mind was trying to make sense of what had just happened right in front of his eyes, while the robots started struggling to lift up the coffin again, as oblivious to the events as the rain which was still gushing down on their rusting bodies.
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Chapter One Empty At the graveyard

Post by Ob Thundersnot on Sat Dec 26, 2009 12:53 am

The Nomari priest, seeing that there was no body there to bury, turned to those gathered and said “What a shameful hoax! I hope none of you were in on this prank.” He then gathered up the few belongings he had brought and stormed away towards the graveyard exit.

Aran, being the first over to the coffin managed to wrench it free from the rusty graveyard robots. He glared at them as they once again tried to pick up the coffin. He pushed the nearest robot as it was reaching for the coffin, and it did not topple, even in the rain-slicked grass and considering how rusty it was. “How do you stop these things?!”, Aran bellowed as the persistent robots continued their task. “We can’t let them bury a box of rocks!”

Jarvis, sloshed over to Aran and tried to reassure him by letting him know that there was a way to halt the robots. Jarvis quickly found what was, in reality, the lead robot. It was the one that received the programming for which plot they were to carry the coffin to. The other three were synced up to it. Working as quickly as he could in a blinding rainstorm, Jarvis managed to open the service hatch on the robots back. What he found wasn’t pleasant….”Ugggh!” Jarvis groaned. “Maybe I can help?” inquired Aran.

Meanwhile…

Zaranda had never met this former thief taker, but she assumed he was not a bunch of rocks, nor died while fighting a medusa. She was getting more and more drenched and cold, watching Aran wrestle with robots and then Jarvis starting to take apart one of the robots. What were they doing? She wasn’t sure and didn’t care to find out at the moment. She nodded to Aran and Jarvis and said “I’m gonna get out of this rain for a bit. I’ll be back soon.” She saw their puzzled looks and chuckled to herself. She had an idea. The idea would take her out of the rain and get her mind engaged in something rather than listen to some Nomari drone on and on. She was headed to the graveyard office that she noticed on the way in. She had a hunch…

Savv was more than uncomfortable. Add the distress of possibly seeing Creo’s corpse to the reality of it just being a bunch of rocks to cold, cold downpour and Savv just wanted to get out of here and leave with Damaris. It was all just too much. Her brain was on a constant loop, asking the same question over and over…Why?Why?Why? Pulling herself out of her “why” loop long enough to realize that Zaranda was headed somewhere, Savv decided to tag along. She motioned for Damaris to join her. She just didn’t feel right being around Aran right now. There was still a big pile of mistrust between Aran and Damaris and the less time they spent together right now, the better, right? It made sense to Savv.

Jarvis knew that there should be one green wire, one grey wire, one red wire and one black wire. In these types of robots, cutting the red wire stopped them completely, but also wiped out their memory and all sorts of things. Purely a last resort to cut the red wire. Cutting the black wire could short out the robot or perhaps do nothing. The grey wire was auxiliary. If there was special programming done, many times the grey wire was utilized. Cutting the grey wire would probably do nothing. The green wire was the one to cut. It essentially would freeze the robot, keeping everything intact. You could do what you need to the robot, restore the green wire connection and no problems…it keeps going where it left off. The problem here was that all the wires were white. The second, problem was that Aran thought he could help.

Aran wasn’t sure why Jarvis wasn’t taking his advice. Cut all the wires!! When in doubt, why bother agonizing over what might be and the consequences? The longer they took in stopping the robot, the closer the box of rocks became a lie. That Creo was in the ground, when he really wasn’t. “Normally, the green wire is one of the middle wires…so maybe I should cut this one.” Jarvis agonized. Aran just looked at him, expecting him to cut it, but when he didn’t, Aran blurted out “What?” Jarvis explained that if it was not the green wire, and he attempted to access the memory, he could be electrocuted. The robots were just a few feet away from the previously dug hole in the ground. Aran responded “I don’t see any green wires, Jarvis…” at this Aran reached in an pulled out all four wires and held them in Jarvis’ face…”do you see any green wires?” All four robots stopped in unison.

“Well, you did manage to stop them, but I didn’t get any information out of them. I wanted to see who programmed them.” Jarvis said with an edge of disappointment. Aran, not quite sorry for what he did, was puzzled about this. “What would that do, Jarvis? I don’t get it.”
Jarvis explained that these types of robots, although very rough looking, decrepit and rusty, were not at all prone to tipping over. In fact, the dynamic servos built into most of these models prevented that. What would be the worst thing that could happen at a funeral? The coffin gets dropped and the body rolls out. Jarvis was beginning to believe that this drop was programmed…but now that information was lost. Aran, leaning on the closest robot decides to give it a shove now, since its servos are shut down and it topples easily. Then Aran said “Maybe the rain shorted them out for a brief moment.”, but looking over to Jarvis, found Jarvis wasn’t there, but was scraping the mud off of the bottom of the tipped-over robot’s foot. “MRD”, Jarvis said in a puzzled mumble…”

Zaranda was speaking with the graveyard manager and things were not going well. Savv was thinking everything that Zaranda said was the right thing to say, but somehow, this person just did not want to give out any information. Savv thought it was a great idea that Zaranda had to find out who paid for the funeral. After all, that might be a big clue to why Creo wasn’t in the coffin…especially if he paid for it himself, or under one of his aliases. Of course, Zaranda wouldn’t know his aliases, but Savv sure did. Savv shot Damaris a smile. He smiled back, but quickly returned to a strange mix of defiant and deep in thought. She was torn as to what to do about this. Just then, Zaranda came back and said “They won’t give me even a hint of who paid for the funeral. He’s a tough old guy…must get grumpy working in a graveyard all the time, right?” Zaranda sure looked dejected, Savv thought.

Instantly Savv burst into tears. “I really, really need to find out who paid for burying my uncle! I just want to repay them or at least thank them. I don’t have any money and my uncle was the last family that I had left! Now I have no one…NO ONE!!”. Her crying then became an uncontrolled sobbing. Damaris was completely taken aback. He knew this couldn’t be true, but…what was she doing? The graveyard manager walked over to her and said. “I didn’t know this before, but of course I need to see your Archen ID card, plate or badge…do you have any of those?” Savv’s response was just a long wailing “NO!”. Apparently Savv had hit this guy’s soft spot because the graveyard manager walked back and pulled out a file, read it and his eyebrows nearly shot up off his head. He walked back over to Savv and said, “Well, it looks like the guy you want to thank is none other than J.N. Mullholland…if you can find him.” Everyone looked at the old man with blank looks. “Oh, you guys are from out of town, eh? He’s the one that owns the largest castle in town.”


Last edited by Ob Thundersnot on Sat Dec 26, 2009 12:59 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : minor fixes)
Ob Thundersnot
Ob Thundersnot

Posts : 150
Join date : 2009-04-05
Age : 48
Location : Greendale, Wisconsin, USA

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