Moderated Men and Monsters (Graded)

Atop a stony plateau overlooking the lands of central Idalos, and growing wealthy from the gem stones pulled from the rocky soil, Etzos is a bastion of independence; firm in its belief that man should rule Idalos, not be servants of the vain Immortals who nearly destroyed it. But can the many factions set aside their conflicting agendas and see this through?

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Kasoria
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Men and Monsters (Graded)

Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:23 pm

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58th Trial, Vhalar, 719
Outer Perimeter
2nd break

It always surprised him how few hunters expected to be hunted. One would think that someone so devoted and adept at pursuing others would know the signs when the tables were turned. Was it hubris, perhaps? The arrogant assumption that no-one would dare? That surely they would simply know, on some base level, that they were being tracked? Or that the universe itself, all creation would bend to ensure that such a gross travesty of roles would not be allowed. They were the hunters, and as such, they could never be prey. Prey were weak and running and sniveling and fit only to be picked off. That was not the way nor fate of a hunter.

Kasoria did not subscribe to this, for one simple reason: he remembered that once, a very long time ago, he'd been prey, too.

Every time they cut you. Every time you bleed or bruise or wheeze or break. You remember you're a man. You're not a god. You're not a monster. Not an Immortal.

"Wolves die jus' quick as sheep."

The murmur escaped his lips almost without his bidding. As if his mind wanted to share his thoughts despite the taciturn nature of his soul. The whisper fluttered around the wet stone and cobbles of the alley. Kasoria kept walking, not slowing, always listening. There it was again. That telltale scrape against the ground. But not leather, oddly enough. Almost like something... sharp, dragged against the stone as it set off into motion again. The Raggedy Man frowned and turned another corner. This wasn't the long way home; this wasn't heading home at all. Ever since he'd traced the faint, persistent sounds behind him. Around a corner, up a street, he could tolerate that. This was a big city, after all, and there were many pedestrians.

But the sounds had stayed with him. Always at his back, a street or so away. Following at a distance, practiced and careful, but not invisible.

Kasoria had hunted men and women and yes, at times, even children. He knew the tread of a predator. So he knew when he was the one being stalked. He shifted the pack of food over his shoulder and changed his route. Moving further to the East, away from his home. Sliding around corners, speeding up when out of sight for a handful of trills. Until the sound of scraping on cobbles was distant, but constant, source struggling to keep up-

Now.

The Raggedy Man chose his route well, not randomly. As soon as he was down another alley, he darted to the sewer grate he knew was set into the ground and yanked it up. Just far enough for him to toss the pack down, then jump down himself. Strong, quick arms snapped out to stop his fall by catching the edges of the hole, feet finding the ladder in front of him. He got his footing, reached up, and dragged the grate back over the hole. Nothing but darkness, save for a few perfect circles of light coming through the holes in the great.

Maybe five trills, from darting to dragging. He listened, on the ladder. Knife in his hand now. Hearing the scraping. Hearing it stop... very close. He could almost hear the sniffing of a snout, the puzzled look on a canine face. Should it come closer, the tracking would be over for it. He'd plunge that blade between its ribs and drag it down here with him. Lost and buried, with but a single move.

But-

"... huh."

It moved off. Scrape-scrap-scraping across the cobbles and away from him. Kasoria frowned and finally shrugged. Good to know he still had it in him. He made his way down the ladder and reclaimed his pack. Not too far, on this level. He knew the tunnels, of course. He knew them well enough to find-

Scrape... scrape...

Kasoria froze. A feeling, a memory, a sensation gouged into his flesh from seasons before, flooded over him like the stink of sewage. There was no mistaking it. His Spark snarled and howled under his skin and he dropped the pack and drew his gladius before the bag had even fully settled on the stones. Knowing it would avail him little, but wanting, needing that ancient, solid reassurance.

She moved out from the darkness. She, that had herded and directed him. He knew that from the half-smirk on her face, glowing with victory and indulgence. Kasoria swallowed and was glad for the hood covering half his face. Mainly the half that was sweating quite profusely. He lowered his gladius a few inches as she came into view, to show he meant to harm in that moment, but also... damn him... also in the awe that he could not hide.

They are not Immortals, but they are far removed from men. All the monsters of the world are not equal to them.

Well... maybe that fucking Leviathan.


"Any reason yous're followin' me... miss?"
word count: 857

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, with a plain cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually left swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Rarely clean-shaven, preferring a trimmed beard

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
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Re: Men and Monsters

Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:18 pm


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The scraping turned out to be a simple chair the Immortal pulled with her as she approached. By the time she swept her silken dress to flow modestly over her legs as she sat, the smirk was gone, replaced by a slight look of request. "Why don't you put the weapon completely away, warrior, I intend no harm."

Her head nudged just slightly behind and to his side, "Please, have a seat and let us discuss things openly, if, admittedly, in private." She did not give any further gesture or expression to emphasize how the presence of this second chair gave proof of how completely she had predicted that he would arrive precisely here.

"Technically, I did not follow you here, so much as awaited your arrival. But I guess it does imply some previous...scouting on my part." She took a deep breath, as if troubled, and continued, "So, the first issue is obviously how to get around this issue of trust. I mean, commiting to memory the paths someone takes whom you would have once needed to...meet with...was a common enough necessity for you, no? Surely you have much more serious things to hold against me than that?"

She shook her head lightly, "You know, I almost wish those who DO trust me would stop making the exact same statements that I use to present my agenda, as it cheapens them as just copying what they've heard me say, as well as making me out to look like nothing more than a source of self-serving rhetoric. Tell me, is it truly that difficult to accept that I may genuinely believe what I say?"

Her eyes narrowed just a bit on the word 'agenda' see if her guest would give some sneer suggesting that he'd caught her. Then sighed in what appeared to be resignation that the argument would now begin in earnest. "I suppose you've heard it before, that the world is changing, and that alignment with an Immortal is going to be necessary for growth, or even survival. I can understand that coming from just such an Immortal, it comes off as completely self-serving."

"But we have shared the very evidence of it this past cycle. While you made tremendous use of the unexpected backlash of my sister killing so many of your fellow countrymen, you would not have eliminated her without me. She could have simply bided her time, relaxing in Emea, letting her city be sacked, awaiting the slow corruption and madness that takes over such lost souls, then renewing her revenge. Do you truly think you could withstand her a second time?"
word count: 453
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Kasoria
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Re: Men and Monsters

Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:49 am

He could not be himself around this thing. Couldn't even attempt it. All he was, all he knew, all he'd done for arcs, had been in the context of fear and intimidation. Even when he'd been but a shadow, impossible to negotiate with, it was this aura of terror that had aided him most of all. Enemies and targets had quailed and thus weakened themselves before he'd ever stepped before them, steel in hand and ice in his eyes. His reputation, that had been his most savage weapon. Able to disarm and neutralize without a word being spoken by him.

She did not care for this. Did not care for any mortal in that regard. Kasoria stood before her and felt like an ant conversing with an elephant. Or a hurricane.

The little man stood there, feeling never so much like those two things, as she prattled on like a society madame taking afternoon tea. She sat down after fanning out the skirts of her dress. She looked beautiful. Terrible. Entrancing. Enticing. Divine. All these things Kasoria thought before reminding himself it was not a she, but an it. There was about as much commonality between the two of them as him and a blind fish in a cave.

That almost made him smile. You weren't even trying, that time.

The sword sighed on leather as he sheathed. Fates, but what good would it have been? He sat down, as he was bid, and spoke not a word as she said her piece. Again, there felt... little point to contributing to empty air. He saw her piercing gaze behind the light words, though. She was studying him, and he thought for a horrible trill that this was how those dozens, scores of poor cunts he'd killed had felt like. In those tense, trembling trills and bits before he butchered them. Interrogating, intimidating, questioning, needling and prying and poking and studying them like a bug under a looking glass. Wringing every drop of intelligence from them before tossing the carcass aside, unwanted and unnecessary.

Face blank. Eyes cold. Don't give her anything.

How will you know if you have?


Kasoria swallowed and remembered Rhakros. Even that memory was better than this present. Two feet from a goddess, one slip from a quick death. He remembered... but did not remember. He recalled a recollection; he pondered on what should have been, what must have occurred. Lissira was dead, she was right about that. Ended in the realm she had crafted for herself after trials of pursuit. Yes, yes, that was... what everyone said. But whenever Kasoria tried to remember the killing blow, the glorious moment of triumph... all was shadow and writhing, formless things that hid beyond sight and light. She was dead, and he was sure of it. But how, and who...

"That's why yeh came t'find me? T'ask me that?" He spoke eventually, words as measured as well-chosen as weapons before a mortal duel. "Can't fault yer thinkin', I'll admit. Would have been a harder fight, t'be sure. Cost far more lives, more magic, more Spark." He managed a one-shouldered shrug. "Can't say if we'da stood a second siege. But we'd a' left her without anythin' t'siege us with, an' next time... we'd be ready."

It was a childish, petulant response. Giving up nothing, retreating not a step back from a stance prideful and belligerent. It was all well and good to be a proud, stubborn Etzori among your fellows, even foreigners. But before an Immortal, it felt like the chest-puffing of an angry cat. Sintra had been there, with them, since the march to Rhakros. She and her agents had paved the way, smoothed, the road, assisted at moments too dire to contemplate. Would they even had breached Lissira's Domain without her? Would they have managed it over the walls, through the canopy? Kasoria was not strategist of grand campaigns, and he did not know. He knew what he saw, and what he saw-

Say it. Throw her off the scent. She can smell your hatred, your scheming. It's what she is. So give her something else.

"I... never thanked yeh, by the way," he said, words coming out slow as if pulled tooth by tooth. He hoped the hesitation gave not too much away; he'd surely not have missed it. "Fer what yeh did. Fer us. In the real, an'... wherever yer... sister-" Fates, can't even imagine these cunts having kin. "-went to. Woulda' died without yeh, m'pretty sure."

Kasoria, the Raggedy Man, staunch and rabid and brutal, bowed his head in thanks to an Immortal. Even as his soul roiled and stomach lurched... but his mind approved.

"So I thank yeh."
word count: 817

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, with a plain cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually left swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Rarely clean-shaven, preferring a trimmed beard

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
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Re: Men and Monsters

Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:17 am


Image

The response came smoothly enough to let Kasoria know that he had asked precisely the way she had wanted him to. For all its depth of power, her voice was casual, "No, of course it is not the only question I want to ask. It simply leads into the larger question. One that I have confidence that you will answer without posturing or an excess of diplomatic rhetoric. In effect, I believe you will give me a "straight" answer; that is, if you know it."

He looked ready to hear it, but she held a single finger aloft, "First, however, I want to impress upon you the odd, and perhaps unexpected, DISadvantage that I operate under whenever I speak to free-thinkers such as yourself. By this I mean those that are trying to make neither a friend nor an enemy of me. This whole affinity for manipulation which I possess makes it impossible to simply level with someone, and have any breakthrough in trust or truce endure beyond the first few moments when I am no longer present."

She shook her head, indicative of countless memories of such failures of accord with others. "Now don't worry..." she chuckled lightly, "...I appreciate the thanks, but I am not trying to get you to feel sorry for me or anything. But honestly, even when I can establish some trust, the moment someone has a second thought on a topic we've come to terms on, they immediately assume they've been "had", and that I've manipulated the entire thing."

She leaned forward slightly, "I have often been confronted by those that have later concluded that some agreement must be rejected, and that the alternative, which does not benefit either of us in the least, must be the right choice. I swear, these people assume that I would willingly bring ruin upon myself just to have one more successful incident of manipulation."

Her mannerisms were right in line with the display of frustration one would expect from such occurrences. "And why must manipulation always be viewed as some vile thing to be accused of? Everyone manipulates in some fashion, some time. Schedules are devised to take advantage of numerous considerations. Manufacturing is centered around material availability. The two make every effort to manipulate the other to their highest gain; cheapest cost.

Debates are rarely won purely on the merit of the facts and references given. It is on the delivery as much as anything. On the ordering and collating of information, and the luring of the opponent into asking just the right question, at the right time, to set up a response that will have its greatest shock value and rebuttal impact! Does this make them fiends? Or just someone who is doing something in their own interest? And outside of the occasional necessity for sacrifice, is it not everyone's right to act in their own self-interest?"


There was s a pause as her gaze turned slightly more scrutinizing, "Ahhh...You're doing it right now. 'What is she trying to set me up for?'...'What am I being maneuvered into?'...'Say nothing'...Alright, I'll admit, I steered you into asking if that was my only question. So call me a debating fiend! Not an entirely successful one though; you were supposed to ask me what the larger question was."

She waited a moment, her face falling in slight increments of disappointment, "Very well, I will just ask it myself. Why is the hidden power behind a throne no great concern when it is a powerful mage, with ruthless agendas equal to my own; yet a ghastly calamity, not to even be countenanced, when it is an Immortal?"

She began filling in her own blanks, counting off on her fingers, "Is it the discrepancy in power level? The difficulty for mortals to grasp the subtleties of a plan that will not come to fruition for decades? Centuries perhaps? The gap in sensibilities possessed by someone that lives forever, as opposed to one of mortal life span?"

Wrath suddenly soured her visage, her fingers becoming fists, as she made her last guess, "Or is it perhaps this ongoing nonsense that I stand accused of, which generates such a level of misguided resentment that none would welcome me. This absurd claim that I specifically CAUSED the ether storm and prolonged it in order to whisper in my sister's ear that the time to strike is ripe, just so I could come running to Etzos' aid. A treacherous savior! Killing millions to hopes to gain the gratitude of thousands? It is laughable! Or would be did it not stand directly in the way of such a mutually beneficial arrangement."

"All I want...all I need is the genuine devotion of a populace for whom I genuinely provide. This very gap in sensibilities should be reason enough for you all to know that I have less cause to interfere in your mortal lives than Lord Vuda ever had. It sounds very self-aggrandizing, I know, but the fact is, there is very little of what graces mortal lives that I have any interest in."

She sat back, her expression conveying concern that she might have spoken too passionately. But the fact was, it was part of her game, to display a potential for loss of control. In the long run, it did not actually serve her agenda to convince this mortal of anything. Her servant, Marshall Webb had become overly troublesome to her. In the course of this discussion, she would drop the hint of his connection to her, and let this Kasoria brood in simmering outrage over the thought of one of the leaders of Etzos' army being a minion of an Immortal.

Were she to actually sway this man's opinion to her favor, he might decide that it was best for Webb to stay in power. That could not be allowed. But it had to be done carefully. Kasoria must not suspect that she was only feigning this attempt to win him over. She needed for him to leave this conference all the more convinced that she was a monster, and that anyone serving her needed to be jailed or eliminated.

He would be the best choice to accomplish the latter, and she could throw the troublesome Llyr into the pot as well. There were certainly tidbits of contentious information she could drop in this discussion regarding him as well. Things Kasoria would find almost as sickening as he found her to be right now. Two strokes of the knife instead of one. Then, once those two problems were "solved", she could betray Kasoria to the guard and see him rot in a warded cell beneath the tower.

It was important, however, NOT to let this mortal before her know that she was aware of Val, and her exposure of Webb's tie to her Webspinners. She needed to present a picture of knowing nothing about the artifact, and knowing of Kasoria's encounter with Val would muddy those waters. It was alright to know the name of course. That would be one of the 'loose-lip' items she would hang upon Llyr to prompt Kasoria's outrage against him, then the fact of his mortalborn blood, and the threat of Alistair, brought to this town by Llyr's cowardly flight from Quacia.

Indeed, the ruse would practically sell itself...
word count: 1250
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Kasoria
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Posts: 1368
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Profession: Horrible Bastard
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Re: Men and Monsters

Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:35 pm

They can read minds, you know. See your thoughts.

One of many memories that came unbidden. A hundred tales and whispers that he'd heard during his childhood. Those meandering, nonsensical but earnestly pursued conversations where children spoke of monsters and ghouls and wraiths and, yes, Immortals fell into that grouping. They'd talked about how the Immortals could do anything, possess any magic or power, just by thinking it. Only the grown ups kept them at bay, for they had intrinsic powers by virtue of being... older and larger, apparently. Kasoria had never quite worked out what rationale they'd used.

Kasoria felt like he hadn't aged a trial since then. Sitting there, looking into the face of something far beyond men and monsters yet definitely closer to the latter, he wondered... and feared how little he truly knew. He knew they could control minions, scores, swarms, legions of them. He knew they could change their forms at will, grand and humble, and most of all, could weave magic magnitudes above that which even the most belligerent mages of the world could manage. But they were mortal. They could be killed.

An ant could kill an elephant, in theory, a pessimistic little voice chimed in. Doesn't mean that it ever will.

"Etzos has never needed an Immortal leadin' her," he said eventually, struggling to keep his mind focused on the direct questions, the pertinent facts. Fates, but she reminded him of Llyr too much. Weaving around webs and layers and shields of nonsense to hide what her true intentions were. Separating his attentions, guiding him here and there, stripping away his focus little by little until he wasn't watching himself anymore. But she never stopped watching him. "Dun' seem like we need one now. But she ain't ungrateful. Ask Hiladrith, from way back inna' histories."

The human leaned back in his seat, stretched out his legs... and placed on hand in his pocket. At ease. Serenely so. Nonchalantly. Ignoring the organ pounding against the inside of his ribs and hoping she couldn't hear that, too. He shrugged and pointed a quick finger up, to the bustling world above them.

"But mebbe I'm wrong, eh? Been lissnin', been watchin'. Folk seem t'like yeh. More'n they liked the Morties-," he paused briefly, watching her reaction as he used the age-old slur for her kind "-fer generations back. Dun' much matter what one Oh'Pee scrote like me thinks a' the way things're goin'. Yer better off askin' the well-to-do inna' Citadel, more'n me..."

Kasoria managed a smile that was at once brittle and keen. Fates, what he'd give to be able to jam two feet of steel through her skull. Twist it, tear it out sideways, shattering her cranium like a vase and splattering these walls with whatever foulness passed for brain matter. The world would be better for it. He knew that for certain, sure as he felt the stones under his feet and the chill in his lungs. No more manipulations, no more scheming, no more monster in the shadows pushing and pulling hapless pawns to destruction for her own amusement.

Went a little far there, you lying cunt, he thought, letting the secret words color his smile, making it a tad more genuine. If you didn't care, you'd never have come as far as you did. Not about us, not about our lives and souls and who we are... but what we do? Oh, you care. You care and it frightens you. We frighten you. Because if we aren't your weapons, we could be for someone else.

"Why're youse tellin' me this?" He spoke after long moments, pointedly not attaching a title to the sentence. Now it was Sintra's turn to be studied. Examined with canine intensity as Kasoria tilted his head slightly. "Sure yeh've got better things t'do wiv' yer time. So why me?"
word count: 675

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, with a plain cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually left swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Rarely clean-shaven, preferring a trimmed beard

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
User avatar
Maltruism
General Staff
Posts: 2312
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:57 pm
Race: Prophet
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Renown: 0
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Medal count: 25

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Re: Men and Monsters

Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:27 pm


Image

Her gaze leveled upon Kasoria, "Does not every mortal ask that when great things are thrust upon them? One could as easily ask 'why NOT you'. I have not gotten the impression that you shrink often from difficulties."

Calculation instructed her look to sour to a small degree, "But herein lies the manipulation you expect, yes? I am offering flattery, and answering a question with a question, aren't I?" she made a face as if in anticipation of his own. "Truly, two mainstays of the very concept of manipulation."

A gleam seemed to brighten her eyes, "And even if I then withdraw my question, the point is made; like a magistrate telling the sitting jurors to strike the words from their collective head. If anything, it only engraves the words all the more fully into their minds. Advocates use this ploy constantly, do they not? And who loves an advocate? The one they are representing, that's who! At least until they make a mistake, which is usually due to a failure of manipulation!"

She actually rose to her feet with the appearance of passion. "So much is made of manipulation as an evil thing, until it benefits them! Then suddenly it is just another means to see to it that the truth comes out in the most clarifying way, the most impactful way, the way that will be most beneficial to them! Hypocrites!"

Se paused for a moment, as if catching her breath from her outburst, then resumed her seat, "Perhaps it is a better analogy for me to say I aim to be Etzos' attorney. Set against those that represent your...opponents. Could you think of a better one?" Mock worry took its turn upon her face now, "But at what cost?? The darkness...The evil of her followers!"

Scorn lived in her snort of disgust, "We of our part ALL have cells of followers, watching out for our global interests. ALL of us. Mine are the Webspinners you hear whispered about so darkly. But what? Their loyalty is proven by the taking of a life. Is that really that uncommon a thing?"

The human's ability to avoid reaction, good or bad, was commendable. She went on, "You were in Rhakros, you saw sacrifices made. You did such things for arcs before this war. I see no reason to levy any judgement against you. I assume you gave your loyalty to protect something or someone. But more than that, do you think my so-called "good" cousins and siblings don't sully their squeaky-clean hands in such proof of loyalty? Because you have not heard about it?"

She leaned forward, "You are in Etzos. None of my kind will speak ill of another of our kind in this town, no matter how much they dislike them. For it makes them ALL suspect, as they should be. All the Immortals drool over this fortress, wanting to make it theirs, and for the same reason I do. The devotion of a loyal congregation."

She sat back to let that sink in, "So what makes me any different? Nothing! Absolutely nothing except that I'm admitting to it. This...slander of my having triggered this whole event is propaganda from my rivals. And as the Matron of Manipulation I must say, it was well-played! Now there is talk of my having whispered in ears during this event. Yes I did. Of course I did. I had no choice. I turned the tables on them! Taking what was meant to ruin me once and for all and instead becoming a savior!"

She seemed to recover somewhat from her emotions and shrugged regretfully, "At least savior of those that survived my sister's initial onslaught. There are those of my kind that could probably engineer some gadget to prolong an ether storm. And there are those that are allied with each other in their hatred of me. But such artifice is not my strong point. And would I be so foolish as to etch webs onto a device that I was then going to have to prove I had nothing to do with?"

She felt good about how this was going; feeling she'd struck just the right balance of legitimate points versus scapegoating, and nearly breaching outright power-mongering. She went on to again make herself out to be unfairly denied what others were granted, giving an admittedly impressive litany of the many cities serving as the seats of other Immortals, emphasizing how Etzos seemed to have been manipulated to sit between two of the most hateful of these rivals. Why should she not possess such a boon?

But it was time to apply the knife, "...and they are not the only threat you are facing here. Your Lord Parhn has already accepted me, as safeguard against a threat of an entirely mortal bend. A thrice-revealed spark-bearer named Alistair. And he only learned it from the young biqaji that recently insinuated himself into the population. And that only because of the likelihood that this Alistair is going to come chasing him down. They were lovers or something. Flattened a town in Quacia, I hear. Parhn wants me to protect Etzos from him, and I am willing.

"Your Lord Vuda already fled in fear of this mage, and this Biqaji, though also bearing three sparks, is not of comparable power in any of them, what were they? Becoming?...Etherism, or Transmutation, I think you call it. And one other...Anyway, he just had a big event at his new 'Curious Constellations' business. Your Marshall Webb was there as his guest."

She seemed to gather herself anew, "But I digress too far, mentioning this biqaji has reminded me that you want to know 'why you'. Now please do not feel pressured, but I have heard that this fellow met with some woman called 'Val' on a caravan, which is where this claim of an artifact proving my guilt was first stated." she decided that it would not hurt to mention meeting this 'Val', so long as it was only treated as a rumor.

"I have also heard that you have met her, Val, I mean. If you have not, I will make an appointment to meet with this biqaji fellow and ask him. But if you did, did you ever actually see anything being claimed to be such a device? Going back to the attorney analogy, I would like to face my accuser."
word count: 1092
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Kasoria
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Re: Men and Monsters

Sun Jan 26, 2020 6:22 pm

Kasoria had never been much for cards. Dice was preferable to him. You crackled the ivories around in your fist, felt them smash against each other, turn and twist and become chaotic and unpredictable. Right before you tossed them into the air, spinning and whirling, the plans and plots of the Fates encapsulated into a single motion, a single trill of tumbling odds and gains and losses. You watched them clack onto the ground, then roll, then settle... and there was that golden moment, when you tallied the numbers. Found out whether the Fates had smiled or spurned you. It was simple, and pure, and really, not that dependent on skill.

Most of all, you didn't need to wear a mask to do it. Not like cards. Not like... this.

Kasoria imagined that all the muscles in his face were gone. Immobile. Unresponsive. Like there was nothing across its surface but a mask he had no nervous connection to. Whatever she said, whatever she offered or teased or threatened, there would be no way for him to emote his response. Save for his eyes. Ah, well he knew how revealing those treacherous windows could be. So he focused the most on those. Keeping them slightly-lidded, but not half-closed. Not bored or disrespectful, but distinctly not intimidated.

Not hard to do, while she's rabbiting on about horseshit.

Which was a fair descriptor for a lawyer, in his mind. Answering questions with questions, veering off on tangents, hiding justifications behind musings, or teasing tit-bits behind anecdotes and philosophy... he had to admit, the creature had a style to her. He'd thought the machinations of Vorund and Sima had been subtle, and they were. They knew humans, knew the angles required to move them just as they wanted. Understood how to mold and direct passions into actions that could benefit them. But they had been players of single pawns; now he was conversing with one that moved nations and armies like seduced lovers, and had been doing so for a very, very long time.

Nothing you ain't heard before, though.

But while he would not let his mask slip nor his conviction be turned, he didn't tune her out. Always interesting, what one would let slip when another just shut up and allowed the to talk. Kasoria listened, and she told him that yes, she had used the Fall of the Emea to her advantage. That the accusation of her being its architect was slander, untruth, lies most base, but when the time had come to act... well, yes, of course she had done so with the aim of turning it around to benefit her. Damn him, but he could hardly blame her for that.

Yes, you can. Because that turning involved using us as battle fodder. She could have collected her little "Webspinners" and waged her own war. But no. She threw us into the grinder instead.

Kasoria exhaled a little louder, a little deeper, as an opposing voice quietly said: Maybe because she knew only we could do it. Only we had the rage, the hate, the fury of the lost and despoiled. Only we would walk through fire and plague and madness to end the Plague Mother. She couldn't rely on her minions. But she could rely on us.

That hardly makes it better.


He opened his mouth to speak, if only to quiet the traitorous voice. But without intending to, Sintra gave him reason to pause again. She named cities from across the world, and gave the names of the Immortals who patronized them. Fates... he'd never known there were so many. He'd heard of them before, some at least. Distant hubs of civilization and art and war and history that he'd read of. Now he could fashion Immortals to them, too. But then there was Etzos. Without a patron or protector or guardian-

We do not need any.

Kasoris felt his resolve harden anew, as a fresh analogy came to mind. He'd become something of a healer through his arcs, mainly because it always helped to know how best to patch yourself up after a brawl, and which parts of a man were best targeted to kill him. But simple, practical, work-related knowledge had grown into legitimate interest. He'd read and studied, not in an organized fashion but whenever parchment had fallen across his path. He'd learned what happened to a body when it was weakened by illness or injury. The... invisible mind, tried so hard to keep it alive, that they slowed the mechanisms to protect it from further exterior assault. The focus was shifted to keeping the body living, not healthy and robust. Such was the reason that a man sick from disease would be more susceptible to a cold or infection.

That was Etzos, he told himself, mask firmly back in place. Without that weakness, without that devastation, you'd never have wormed your way in here.

Then Sintra spoke again. Of mortals.

She poke of a three-revealed mage, a being skirting the edge of the Immortals' power, if he listened right. But then he words became murky as he listened, as he listened and heard-

"... young biqaji..."

"They were lovers or something."

"... Parhn wants me to protect Etzos from him, and I am willing."

Kasoria swallowed. He forced himself to breath. To not grip the edges of his chair or stiffen his jaw or widen his eyes. He tried and could not tell if he'd succeeded. Llyr. This could only be Llyr. Fragments of a half-dozen conversation rattled through his mind, dredged up by his memory. Hints that the young mage had dropped but never elaborated on. He was running, Kasoria could tell that, see it easily in every evasion and trailed off conversation. Something was in his past he wanted to escape from and... damn him, he hadn't pushed hard enough. Because he could understand that well enough.

Calm yourself, he thought. Don't focus on the bollocks. This Alistair cunt is the one that matters.

The Raggedy Man did just that, a slight shifting in his seat the only evidence of his turmoil. But he promised himself that he and Llyr would be having a long chat about this...

"Anyway, he just had a big event at his new 'Curious Constellations' business. Your Marshall Webb was there as his guest."

Kasoria's mouth twitched at the corner, minutely, just for a blink. Oh, he knew Webb had been his guest. He'd been the one to suggest he put him on the list. More importantly, he knew that Llyr had to be the one she was talking about; mentioning C.C. had confirmed it. Kasoria was the one watching for a reaction now; solid black eyes peering at the rambling Immortal and seeing if she was just baiting him. Hmm... no sign of it. Maybe she didn't know what was in the works. And she spoke as if Webb was just another dignitary she was aware of, now the pawn Kasoria knew him to be.

Of course. She doesn't want to admit too much.

Then, finally, she had the good grace to actually ask him a direction question. Val... Val... Kasoria frowned a touch and realized after a while whom she was referring to. The girl he'd saved, who'd told him the truth that set all this off in the first place. He couldn't pronounce her name and wouldn't even try to. He just knew her as "Vlu", and what she'd said had been more important than the label pinned on her.

She either knew, or used it to her advantage. It equates to the same thing. She pointed you in the direction of her buried little cell, and they told you even more. Proved to you she's building her power her. Spreading like a disease.

Slowly, Kasoria shook his head, and spoke with perfect accuracy: "Cannae say I know anyone named 'Val', mistress. 'specially none dat been talkin' about Morties an' the like. Probably somethin' I'd remember."

He could have left it there, but knew he had to drag it out. If he left now, so soon after her mentioning Llyr and Vlu, it would raise suspicions. As if he were scuttling away to warn or report. So he stayed, he lingered, he... no... no, he just wanted to speak his damn peace, because he was already growing weary of this mouthy Morty fucking him about.

"Y'know..." he leaned forward, elbows resting on his thighs, palms pressed together. "Y'still ain't answered me. Coulda' asked any other sod 'bout this Val girl yeh want." And now I know why you want to find her. Same reason a murderer would want to slot a witness. "But I dun think youse'd go through all this jus' t'ask a scrote like me a question. So... why else're we talkin', mistress?"

He leaned back in his chair and raised a finger, timing it so it would come up just as her mouth opened again. A prideful touch, mayhap.

"An' like I said before, we ain't ungrateful. If some mad mage is comin' this way, lookin' to squash us like that town yeh mentioned, sure we'd look fer help. Granted, a Morty wouldn't be our first choice... mebbe not even our last... but mebbe the high an' mighty would consider it. Big enough risk an' all that. Ain't nothin' I can see wrong there." His gaze hardened, though the polite smile didn't move. "But we're a... mercantile folk, mistress. We pay for services rendered, y'ken? Dat means we show gratitude, an' pay as agreed... but we ain't about t'let that someone ask fer more than's reasonable. Youse pay a baker fer a loaf when yer starvin', yeh give him coin an' its done. He starts wantin' t'move into yer home, well... yeh have to ask what he's really after."

Kasoria shrugged, surprised at himself to have spoken so much, and so boldly.

"Course... I ain't one t'judge, like yeh said. Yeh probably know me past an' pedigree an' all dat shite. But since we're chattin', might as well speak me mind."

Or as much of it as I want to, anyway.
word count: 1751

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, with a plain cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually left swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Rarely clean-shaven, preferring a trimmed beard

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
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Re: Men and Monsters

Sun Feb 02, 2020 3:41 am


Image

Hints of weariness crept into her face, "Well, you use different representations, but the same accusation still underrides the wording. The fear that I want to "take over". This "baker" does not want to move into your home, just into your neighborhood. In return, she promises you will never starve again. Is that really such an imposition?"

Weariness compounded with mild frustration in the form of a sigh, "I say again, I do not deny the hope of gaining a genuinely appreciative population that will give devotions. We of our part gain strength from this. But this does not encompass any radical upheaval of your culture."

It was clear as day that this human knew Val. He was pretty good for a mortal, but his obvious disconnect from allowing any expressions to betray his thoughts only betrayed that he HAD such thoughts to keep in check. Were he truly unfamiliar with this person, there would be an instinctive twitch of one feature or another while he considered any recently made acquaintances. A cock of the head, a narrowing of one or both eyes, a wandering gaze, a slight scowl denoting the bother of attempting to recall, or even something so blatant as the cupping of the chin in one hand.

But this flat, changeless expression was as good as a confession. Well, she did not need any such thing. It was better that he thought himself successful. A change of approach would serve to bolster this notion. And with mortals, it so often served to drop only the barest of mention to get them raking their own thoughts over the coals of second-guessing, until they arrived at precisely the mindset she wanted, while believing themselves to be resisting her manipulations.

She sat back, crossing her legs and folding her arms, "Well, I suppose I should give you marks for guiding me off-track. Much of this is moot, yet you manage to keep me speaking of it. I am already welcomed by your High Marshall. And I can provide better protection with regular devotion from the masses. If you do not want to give yours, it is hardly of any consequence; you are only one of many. But that is not what I sought here from you, and you know it."

She stood slowly, seemingly stretching kinks from her back the way any mortal would. "Well, I guess we are done here then. I have my answer. You do not know this 'Val'. That is fine. Like I said, I can always speak to the young Biqaji boy. He's undoubtedly mentioned her to others in the council. And they will also speak to others. You won't be the first, or last, mortal I expect to be asking about this. In a sense, I suppose I should be pleased with your honest display of dislike."

Just a delicate snort of amused annoyance escaped her regal mein, "But you really ought to begin considering the practicality of adapting to my presence here, and not resisting it. What are your options anyway? The council that has already extended my welcome? The cheering crowds attending my assemblies? Your shady friends? With the war over, are they going to champion this cause for you too? Or are you planning to call in the army against me? That would be a surprise."

She trusted that the emphasis on this last statement would get the mortal thinking himself in circles. 'Why a "surprise" exactly? Not just a difficulty? She didn't word anything else quite that way.' She could even now hear him asking. It would suggest something specific in place to thwart such effort. Better yet, it was the truth. Webb was her underling. Anything this Kasoria investigated could only support this suspicion. Whatever else he may have heard, possibly even from this 'Val' he supposedly didn't know, would fall right in line with it.

Webb was an accomplished soldier, but was not in the kind of practice as one that regularly found himself in the front lines. And having seen this "Raggedy Man" in action, Sintra had no doubt which of them would prevail. She smiled a serene nod to her guest as she made to depart, lending a note of finality to the comment she anticipated would leave him all the more determined to rid Etzos of the troublesome Marshall Webb; and perhaps the young Llyr Llywelyn as well.

word count: 746
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Kasoria
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Profession: Horrible Bastard
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Medal count: 7

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Re: Men and Monsters

Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:21 pm

Cunt's like her sister: not nearly as smart as she thinks she is.

Kasoria's mask did not change as the creature spoke. Nor did his opinion of her. His lapse, though... that had been foolish. She'd seen something of it, he was sure. Some brief flicker, like an eel under murky waters. Swift and occluded, but definitely there. Sometimes knowing something was there, was as good as knowing what it was. You could deduce much from that alone. The Etzori sat and listened and listened and honestly, much of what she said, he simply blocked out.

What does the boy know about her? About Webb? More than he lets on? Maybe... maybe... but a traitor? Working with her, all this time?

"Ain't tryin' t'guide youse anywhere, Mistres," he said dryly, managing to make the sentence both apology and insult at the same time. "Jus' answerin' yer question."

What about Vlu? Does she know anything? Is she just trying to get a rise out of you? No. No, not an issue. Little bitch has been gone from sight for seasons, no trace of her. And the wankers this thing set after her are gone. You saw to that. No... Llyr is the issue, here.

"Truth an' honesty," Kasoria said with a smile so bright and false it could have curdled milk. "Dat's what me Ma always said worked best. An' I'm sure there's plenty a' folk who'd wag their tongues to yeh. Y'seem t'be gettin' popular 'round here, right now."

Another bard, minor and immature as it might be. Things changed fast in Etzos, when it came to popularity. The hero of one season was the headsman's wages the next; Marshals and Lords had fallen from favor in the space or trials, let alone seasons. The people were fickle and that always struck Kasoria as proof they were... not as bright as he wished they were. They were his people, after all. It reflected upon him.

Does it? Since when were you part of them? How long have you even cared? And would you still, were your son not part of this?

The smile faded just in time, for the thought of Martyn was enough to sour it. For arc after arc he'd hidden the thought, the face, the name of that boy deep within himself. He lived in a world of magic and monsters, where that and they could pull such information from him if they wished. So he'd buried them. He'd almost numbed himself to the love he felt for the boy, but never forgot. Never risked. Never left any loose ends or anyone living that had any hope of finding his son. He was not about to start now. But as the smile fell, the monster stood, and Kasoria did the same. Eventually.

"Thanks fer yer advice," he said as the Immortal began to leave. He inclined his head with the respect he assumed she was used to. Nothing more than that. "I'll be sure t'remember it. We're an adaptable folk, after all..."

Aye. Just depends to what.

He didn't allow anything else of what she said to buffet against his mask again. Only stretched it, morphed it to include a polite smile brittle as crystals. Kasoria watched her walk away from him, feet clacking against the stones until, barely into the shadows, the sound vanished. The Etzori blinked. There was... not even close to enough space in there for her to just disappear. But he knew that if he wandered into it, he'd find naught but dust and air... and spiders, staring at him with black, unblinking eyes.

Kasoria harrumphed lowly and turned the way he'd come. Knocking over a chair as he did so, quite deliberately. Thoughts buzzed in his skull like angry hornets. The cunt was right, unfortunately. One segment of the city fawning over an Immortal was bad enough, but could be contained. For the infection to seep into every strata, every shelf, every circle of power and control... that was nothing more than a takeover. Slow and subtle, but the result was the same as a bloody-handed revolution or coup in the High Council.

Llyr.

The assassin kept walking. The buzzing would not stop.

Zarik. Whatever or whoever he is. There's something...

Even when he was back above ground and in the light, he couldn't shake off the stink. Not just of sewage or age, but doubt and paranoia. It crept up his spine and latched into the back of his head as if it had fangs.

Then the little man snorted to himself. She gave him too much credit, that was for sure. Assuming he had more pull, more influence than he did. Call in the army? Rally the Underworld? Speak before the Council? Well-well-well. Sintra clearly did think highly of him... and thus, she probably thought there was a broader conspiracy at play.

Good. Let her chase shadows and run after threats that aren't there, or left long ago. As long as she stays out of our way.

The Raggedy Man bristled as he passed a young girl, beautiful and vital... with a Sintra medallion draped across her neck. He ground his teeth until the molars popped, and quickened his pace. He could fight. That was his answer. Not to adapt, or flee, or compromise. He could cut the legs from under the Spider-Bitch and remove her pawns until the board was her alone, against a whole city.

That may not be enough, he reminded himself, with a small sigh. But it's what you know.
word count: 960

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, with a plain cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually left swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Rarely clean-shaven, preferring a trimmed beard

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
User avatar
Maltruism
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Posts: 2312
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:57 pm
Race: Prophet
Profession: "Mastermind"
Renown: 0
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Wealth Tier: Tier 1
Medal count: 25

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Re: Men and Monsters

Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:22 pm

Image
Come and get your Loot!

(There's plenty more where that came from)


KASORIA:
XP Rewards: 15

These points can NOT be used for Magic.....sorry :(

Skill-Knowledges:

  • Discipline +3
  • Endurance +2
  • Hunting +2
  • Intimidation +2
  • Politics +2
  • Psychology +2
  • Rhetoric +2

Loot:

Nothing to speak of.


Loss/Injuries:

Nope, no owies this time.


Renown: 5

Nah...too private, ohh, but it will lead to great renown.
...or notoriety...


Comments:

Always a gritty pleasure.
You know how I love to play the roles of glib Immortals. :twisted:
Battles of wits are every bit as fun as weapons, and are often the more necessary for plot advancing.
Also, I did not give any non-skill Ks as it was all BS on her part. :lol:
So this was not an active-skill windfall for you. But If there are any skills you think I overlooked, let me know.
word count: 145
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