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That Which Goes Bump In the Night (Vapor Only, IC)

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Fanaglia
Senator
 
Posts: 4061
Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:22 am

Irritable (both from the long flight and from bottle-ache) and running low on funds, Mireille had hoped to pass on purchasing a new coat while at the shop with her companions, but, between the peer pressure and the efforts of some very convincing saleswomen, she succumbed and found herself paying for a modest new coat. It was a full-length coat made of thick, gray wool that was pinched at the back with a pleated skirt section for a much more form-flattering look than she was used to with her shapeless altitude coat. The black buttons at the front and on the cuffs of her sleeves glistened under the electric lights and the fur trimming the collar brushed her cheek, reminding her that this was now the most expensive item of clothing she owned -- it had better look as fine as it had cost. Though she would never admit it to Anders as he led them on his brief tour (which she would have appreciated far more if she hadn't been so eager to just get back to the hotel), she was thankful she had made the purchase. Her old coat would have been adequate, but her new coat was far more comfortable in the cold (the extent of which she had far underestimated -- never before had she experienced such frigid temperatures) and she felt as if she fit in a fair bit better with all of the Klippenstaaders going about their business in all of their fine clothing in the cheery sunlight of that frosty morning.

Some time later, they had finally arrived at the hotel. Adjusting the collar on her new coat as she entered behind Anders, Mireille welcomed the warmth of the lobby, where a hearty fire cackled in the central hearth. Despite the comfortable temperature, the soft comfort of the fine, leather furniture, and the light from both the fire and the electric lighting, the lobby still held an air of darkness about it. Perhaps it was the somber atmosphere that seemed to hang in the air, but, more likely, it was the presence of several silent Drachenkulters tucked away in alcoves around the lobby, their eerie masks staring, unchanging at whatever their wearers were occupied with. Mireille had seen a handful of followers of the Drachenkult before, especially in her time in the large and cosmopolitan Cynfel City, but they were always a highly unusual sight and tended to draw a lot of attention when surrounded by bare-faced Christians. Ever since landing in Klippenstaad, she had witnessed more Drachenkulters than she had seen in her entire life; now, among the clientele of their hotel, she was distinctly aware of the fact that now it was she and her companions who stood out as unusual.

The concierge, like most Drachenkulter Mireille had interacted with in the past, was just as genial as any Christian back home, but, unfamiliar with the Antlitzschrift (the system of coded meanings imprinted on the cultists' masks) and the patterns of body language that substituted for facial expression, she found his demeanor unsettling and alien. Although not nearly as unsettling as the band of nearly-identical servants in their plain, permanently-smiling masks. “Madam Mireille,” the concierge said, “may I introduce Ragna Olsdatter? She will serve as your, ah, chaperone during your visit here. You may rest assured that she, and the rest of the servants, will do their utmost to ensure your privacy and modesty remain unchallenged, and that nothing will cast even the slightest doubt upon your honor. That is, of course, the guiding principle behind the Klippen-Muninssen.. If you so desire, she will also be available to accompany you outside of the hotel at no additional fee, should you desire feminine company of unimpeachable virtue and integrity.”

"Thank you very much, sir, Ms. Olsdatter," she replied with a smile. Despite her prejudices, Mireille wondered if Ms. Olsdatter would make a fine replacement for Anders. Despite the unsettling feel of the hotel and their hosts therein, this place came at the recommendation of her friend, Jackson Elias, and that was reason enough for her to trust the people who worked there. Anders, on the other hand, was clearly not one to be fully trusted. Besides, from a practical standpoint, Ms. Olsdatter's services were available free of charge.

“If Madam will follow me,” Ms. Olsdatter bade her kindly, “then I shall escort Madam to her rooms, and then, perhaps...a bath, Madam? You must be tired from your travels. I shall have one of the other maids draw a hot bath while I unpack your luggage and hang your dresses. Would Madam care for some food, as well? The kitchen prepares a delicious --”

It all sounded absolutely lovely, but, before Mireille could respond, the concierge interrupted them, holding the telephone. “It’s for you, Madam,” he said, offering her the receiver.

Mireille was taken aback. She had never had a telephone call before. Taking the receiver in her hand, she imitated how she had seen the concierge using it and held it to her ear. Speaking into the transmitter, she said, tentatively, “Hello? Who is this?”

Long seconds passed, interspersed with the crackling of a poor connection, before a voice echoed back up the line at her. “Mireille!” Jackson Elias said, an uncharacteristic but slight tremor in his voice. “Is that you?”

Mireille was shocked by the sound of her friend's voice over the device. A wide smile spread across her lips as she spoke into the receiver again. "Jackson Elias! Yes, yes, this is Mireille. We've just arrived at the hotel. It has been such a long time, old friend! How are you? When should we be expecting you to join us?"
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The Biosyn
Bureaucrat
 
Posts: 44
Founded: Jul 09, 2015
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Biosyn » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:13 pm

Klippen-Muninssen, Klippenstaad
January 16, 1910

Morning


Today had been a good day for Anders, and it wasn’t even noon yet. The fog upon the city had cleared, leading to work for the Court being halted for a few days, he had found work as a guide to a handful of foreigners that hadn’t even haggled him down on prices, and he got an extra bit of coin when they bought coats for the Varen winters. And now that he had brought them to their first destination in the city of Klippenstaad, the hotel Klippen-Muninssen, though he half expected them to dismiss him, he was thinking he might not mind that too much. Money in his pocket, he could try again at the aerodome tomorrow or the next day.

He leaned against the corner of the hotel’s counter, just off to the side, watching the reactions of the foreigners to the masks of the Drachenkult. Though not everyone in Varenhold since the Great War wore one, enough did, whether by religious choice or out of habit, it always seemed to come as an unnerving shock to visitors from everywhere by Drachenstaat itself. As the concierge introduced Ragna Olsdatter, he decided to at least try to convince them to not dismiss him out of hand. If this job could last more than just a day, then it would go from a good day to a good week. And it also just wouldn’t do to be replaced by the free services of a hotel, no matter the quality.

Idly debating to himself the likelihood Ragna Olsdatter was her real name, given Varen tendencies, he heard the concierge call Mademoiselle Mireille over to the hotel’s phone in Cynfeli.

Madam Mireille. It’s for you, Madam.

She took the phone.“Hello? Who is this?

After a moment’s pause, she smiled and said “Jackson Elias! Yes, yes, this is Mireille. We've just arrived at the hotel. It has been such a long time, old friend! How are you? When should we be expecting you to join us?

At the name of his childhood friend, Anders jerked in surprise; his elbow slipped from the counter, and he almost lost his balance. After recovering, he fixed his gaze for a moment on Mireille, his curiosity about these foreigners piqued, before turning to the nearest of the men who accompanied her. “Monsieur, excuse me,” he said in Cynfeli. “But I couldn’t help but overhear Mademoiselle. Do you, in fact, know the illustrious Jackson Elias?” As he said the word illustrious, he tried and failed to keep a smirk out of his voice at using that word to describe his friend. “Of course,” he amended quickly, so that his question might not seem too rude. “It is not that I do not believe it, but merely it is not often to hear that such a famous author may soon be here in Varenhold, even less in Klippenstaad.”

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Yasuragi
Diplomat
 
Posts: 681
Founded: Jun 24, 2013
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Yasuragi » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:15 am

Klippen-Muninssen, Klippenstaad
January 16, 1910

Morning


"Hello? Hello?" Jackson repeated. "Oh good, Mireille, I was so glad to hear that you were coming to visit Klippenstaad. I know you don't like traveling, but Klippenstaad is such a wonderful city, you'll have a fantastic time learning all about it. My old stomping grounds, after all, but even I get surprised when I find out about little secrets here and there!" He laughed, but Mireille would be uncertain if it was the connection or Jackson's own voice that made the voice so shrill. It was a stark contrast to the warm and distinctly masculine voice he normally had, the one that made him a thrill to listen to at his irregular book readings that his editors occasionally forced him to. More than the voice, though, more things seemed off - Jackson was surprised to hear she was coming? Yet, his editor had sworn up and down the letter came from Jackson himself. And what was this about Mireille hating travel? She had spoken to him often of her love of the sky, the freedom afforded by flight, her desire to delve deeper into the aeronautical mysteries of the world.

Even as she thought, he continued speaking, barely letting her get a word in; periods were more like commas, and commas, well, didn't exist at all while he was speaking. He would occasionally get like this while he was excited, she recalled, but never to this extent. "And really, Mireille, I must simply treat you to dinner, tonight. I insist, my treat entirely. You and your family --" another jolt at the mistake; there were far too many to be mere forgetfulness at this point, "--really, must join me for dinner. I'm afraid I can't meet before then, though; I've got to hunt down some last few references for my latest book -- can't say too much over the telephone, though, don't want anyone to get my latest scoop!" Another high-pitched and shrill laugh echoed over the connection. "I'll be staying at the Hotel Novda -- it's by the docks, just off of the Peace Plaza. Just ask for Room 410. Shall we say 8 o'clock tonight?" A loud repetitive banging noise cut off a few of Jackson's next words, leaving Mireille only with a snippet: "-vely, be safe, and -- care."

Jackson's voice suddenly went silent, replaced by the silent hissing crackle of the connection, which persisted for a few seconds before the calm voice of the operator came on. "The call has ended, madam. Would you care to make additional calls of your own?"

The entire conversation had taken perhaps a handful of minutes at most, but rather than answering any of her questions regarding the mysterious summons, it had only raised more mysteries. Had Jackson forgotten her entirely? Had he forgotten the entire group, and why he brought them there? Surely not; and yet he had made no mention of the message, and had referred to his other contacts as Mireille's 'family,' when he knew the truth of their story all too well. And the laugh, the laugh, it was far too shrill, far too forced to be real. His laughs were deep laughs, reverberating from the belly, not that high-pitched laugh that sounded closer to wild Parthan beasts one could find in zoos.

One thing was certain, Mireille knew. Whatever Jackson Elias had found - his 'latest scoop' - it had him as scared as he was excited.

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Liecthenbourg
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12478
Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Liecthenbourg » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:15 pm

Authors had sometimes commented, most notably and accurately, that there were cultures in the world that were alien. A fellow from the urban sprawls of the cities of Menid would never comprehend the customs and intricacies of the humble Korrukkan farmer; the subtle gestures in their posture that denoted bartering trade, the feats of strength that suggested endurance and virility from carrying heavy loads on their carrying poles.

And the journalist from the Empire was indeed very much in an alien scenario. A stranger in a strange land.

Higa could laboriously study over the symbolism and majesty of the Drachenvolk mask culture. He could write papers on this; describing for the audience at home the mystery and almost erotic fanaticism they held for their masks. Did they wear them amongst family? Did husband and wife retire to the evening, masks on? Were there intimate moments of tenderness that a husband would be the first adult to see his wife's pleasant features, casting away the polished wood to the nightstand?

Perhaps. And perhaps not.

And whilst Higa set up his camera for more of his shots, something innate within him had him span around towards his colleagues. The fellows from the airship and the entourage they had encountered at the port. Some of the porters moved around before him; luggage in tow.

His thumb anxiously rubbed against the button that would trigger the flash. He sighed inwardly. The lobby was luxurious, sure, but what -- what here could best document their journey? The airship was majestic and imposing, daunting, a clear sign of their voyage...

But what could carry it on? What sign...?

"Jackson Elias!" his closest associate, Mireille, yelled.

But the camera was not pointed at her, but at the man called Anders. He had almost fell, but there was a moment of majesty as he composed himself for but a few seconds. And in a reflexive manner, the Korrukkan journalist pressed down on the flash trigger.

"Porter, you... you... be careful with the image as it develops."

He strode over, mightily, towards Anders and the Rothian aristocrat -- Lord Luciano Errante Raminotto.

"Jackson Elias!" he yelled out in his accented Rothian as Anders finished his query, Raminotto could reply. "Is he here? He must be here!"
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Inoroth
Negotiator
 
Posts: 5280
Founded: Jul 19, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Inoroth » Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:41 am

Klippen-Muninssen Hotel, Gellir Patrekssen Aerodome,
Klippenstaad, Varenhold
16 January, 1910
11:02 Local Time


Professor Luciano had been out of sorts all morning, an effect he feared might manifest after traveling this far from home. He often found it difficult to sleep on journeys, but that wasn't necessarily a problem -- it is much less unsettling to deal with nightmares when one is awake, after all.

First there had been the almost hurried flight from the barroom back to his cabin and away from the scolding porter. He felt silly, really, as well as disproportionately embarrassed. After all, it was only that impertinent "Teck" fellow who had been directly confronted, and that over his perfectly dreadful smoking nonsense -- on an airship no less! 'What utter lack of propriety.' he had thought as he gathered what few things he hadn't already packed away earlier. In the small mirror that hung over the chair, he quietly mouthed 'New Money' with notable disdain at the reflection.

Despite not being immediately at fault, Luciano couldn't the shake feeling that the entire group was in the wrong, especially himself, someone of high-birth who ought to have known better. He played the interaction over and over again in his mind as the sky outside lightened up to reveal their destination. Clearly the bar was closed, and they weren't meant to be there. Were it not for the Khadari fellow's even bigger gaffe of smoking, what might have happened? It was certainly not the way proper Inorothians ought to behave. At least nothing had come of it this time.

Things had not improved much after landing. Passing from the cold but familiar gondola of the FAS d'Meilleur, the party had embarked on a kind of open platform elevator, one which, in his professional mathematical opinion, did not seem sufficient for the task. Wind whipping about, they shuttered and jolted downward towards the roof of the aerodrome. Faracini's famous Descent into Chaos came to mind as they cleared the roof to the sight of the artificial city. Row after row of haphazard structures and narrow streets were crushed together under the protective hangar, disorienting lights and sounds bouncing and echoing in the massive space. Many other wooden elevators, of equally questionable quality, were everywhere ascending and descending like some sort of vertical railyard. Professor Luciano wondered if this might not be how an ant might view it's colonial mound, were it of an inquiring mind. Well, the thought crossed his mind, at least, somewhere between the self-advice to 'not look down' and 'don't let go of the railing'.

At long last, they were again on solid ground, and Luciano had to fight the urge to bowl over everyone to be the first off of this dangerous contraption once the doors were opened. Taking up his travel trunk (Luciano would entrust it to no-one else), he nonetheless was one of the first to set foot in the city, and took a moment to adjust.

'Books, Gifts, Fine Dining, Scheldhind Corporation, Office of... Shipping and Transport.'

His eyes leapt from sign to brightly lit sign, converting the jumbles of stylized letters into meaningful information. He had studied Drachenscript as part of his education, but it had been a while since he really put his training to the test. Although much warmer than above, the city felt far less comfortable. It was alien, strange, an uninviting to him, the denizens staring at the new arrivals, often through impersonal, unfeeling masks.

"It's rather dark down here, don't you think?"

He asked, to no one in particular, his query largely overpowered as one of the porters dropped a bag and let loose a stifled oath. The sensation that they were being watched only intensified as they stood there, waiting. Luciano began fitfully running his left thumb over the tips of his other fingers. Before the group had moved far, a tall man emerged from the shadows. Thankfully, he was unmasked, but his sudden arrival was no less suspicious. Professor Luciano gave him a once-over whole the others spoke with him, and was about to suggest that they keep going when the Tiantian fellow, Mr. Ken-something, had requested photos.

More grimace than smile, Luciano posed for the shots as he impatiently considered that every moment they kept this lad waiting increased the expectation that his services would be purchased. He was prepared enough when the flash came, but it was still uncomfortable. When this Mr. Anders named his price, Luciano had silently balked, but the real concern came when Professor Zhakshakulovy paid the price and then some. 'Brilliant', he chided internally, 'Let's signal to the unknown stranger that we are both wealthy and careless!' It seemed to him a bad idea all-round to follow this fellow, but the rest of the group seemed eager to shop and, well, they had already paid.

As they marched through the city like a gaggle of newly hatched goslings, Luciano gave up on attempting to figure whether they were in a "good" part of town or not. It all seemed crowded, claustrophobic, and poorly lit, with ominous alleys shooting off the road at uneven intervals and equally ominous figures masked and staring at them.

The shops themselves had been a nice reprieve, and Luciano found several quality purchases. For 10 and 2 silver roths and 300 gettone, he picked up a heftier pair of gloves than his current set, a black greatcoat with fleece lining that was considerably warmer than anything he had ever owned before, a blue-and-brown knitted scarf that loosely matched his trousers, and a black fur-lined hat that had ear-flaps one could button up or down as desired. For another 2 and one 1/2 silver roths and a 25 getton coin, he had nabbed a haversack that had space not only for these purchases, but also was designed to support his trunk being lashed onto it, a welcome relief as his arms were beginning to tire. Of course, all these new purchases had to be packed away neatly, several times, but eventually all was in order.

The greatest find, however, came as a complete accident. Hidden between a black-bread baker and currency exchange booth he had spotted it -- a tiny novelty shop, not well advertised or overly welcoming. In the tiny window, however, was something akin to a hat-rack, although instead of hats it bore apparently genuine Kult masks. While the Khadari fellow in their group was still trying on every garment in the original store, Luciano had slipped inside.

After conversing for a while with the masked saleswoman in Drachensprech, he had been lead to select a jade-blue mask*, with dark red lines running in parallel pairs across the forehead and down the cheeks, ending in opposing swirls, almost like a beard. The lips were thin and a darker blue tinge, while the mouth itself was open in a wide and friendly smile, white teeth pointed and bared, vibrant green tongue forked and highly visible. The eyes were over-large but half-open, as though the face knew a secret that it would never share, black pupils dilated large and irises the same dark red as the lines. The nose was small, nostrils likewise ringed in red.

Luciano had no idea what the symbolism for such a mask might be, but he knew it would make a fine decorative addition to his study back at the Tagan Institute. Carefully, he wrapped it in his old peacoat and placed it in his new haversack. It was only with the greatest of difficulty that he restrained himself from unpacking and repacking his pack again and again as was his habit with the trunk. He returned to the clothing shop to find the others preparing to depart, and quietly rejoined the group.

They eventually made their way to the hotel, after a stop at the large statue of some 'Gellir Patrekssen', a folk hero or something. The Northern Theater of the Great War had never been able to hold Professor Luciano's interest at the best of times; it was hardly a period where Inoroth had had much interest or opportunity to excel, and what little he knew of the events led him to believe that the world -- his world, anyways -- would have been a lot better had they never taken place at all.

The hotel itself was quite grand on the inside, the Klippen-Muninssen possessing both charm and modernity. The rugs covering most of the floor, in addition to looking stylish, doubtless provided a barrier between the cold stone flooring underneath and the feet of the guests, assuming they were not already wearing shoes. A series of thin wires dangled along one wall, a means of summoning the waitstaff from a hidden room it turned out, and there was even a modern telephonic device at the concierge's desk. A roaring fire and thick walls helped trap the welcome heat, and the row after row of books on the walls gave the ambiance of an intimate personal study.

It also had the unintentional consequence of, like much of the rest of the city, following the theme of poor lighting and grim masked faces peering at one through the darkness. Wary, Luciano attempted to position himself so as to be able to see as many of the other patrons as possible, the unproven Mr. Anders, and the hotel concierge, all in one panoramic field of view. This was no easy task. Watching without staring was something the Inorothian had more or less perfected over the years, and he was fairly certain his vigil was not too obvious... unless they really were staring, in which case, they had the choice of pot or kettle.

Professor Luciano was thus preoccupied as events unfolded between Mireille and the hotel staff, but he had core points -- multiple rooms, keep men and women separate, modesty and virtue, so on and so on. He did note that the hotel was prepared to offer the services of one of their staff to do the same job as this Anders fellow, and hoped that meant they would soon be rid of this unknown and unreliable variable and...

He jumped at the sudden buzzed ringing of the telephone, but managed to keep his composure. One of the servants cocked their head at him in mild concern. The servants! Heaven bless them, they were the most disconcerting of the lot, their masks all quite similar and eerily plain and smooth. Like a flock of ghosts they seemed, spectral figures made flesh. Luciano hoped that they would behave as proper servants and stay out of view as much as possible... although not too out of view, so as to be sneaking about, but...

"Jackson Elias!" shouted the Tiantian fellow with sudden energy. His Rothian was accented but passable, and he was clearly looking at Professor Luciano as he spoke. "Is he here? He must be here!"

Bewildered for a moment, Professor Luciano eventually ascertained what was going on. He spoke normally at first, but corrected himself, speaking louder, slowing and annunciating his speech to ensure that the Korrukan understood -- Rothian was certainly not the man's native tongue.

"Ah yes, -- I mean, Ah. yes. you're the fellow that gave me quite the start on the ship. Mr. Ken-qui-ci, was it?"

Questioned the Inorothian professor, his deliberate pronunciation unsuccessful at preventing the butchering of Mr. Kenkichi's name.

"Well yes, I do believe madam Mireille is talking to Dr. Elias, but as you can see, it is through that device there. That is a telephone, imagine a 'telegraph for the voice', if you will, and she is speaking to Dr. Elias even though he is not here."

Although not his intention, it would be perfectly understandable for the Korrukan to assume that Professor Luciano was talking down to him and underestimating Mr. Ken's intelligence, whereas the reality was that the Rothian was simply unsure if the man had ever encountered a telephone before, and wished to be understood properly in light of the language barriers.

Glancing over at Mireille's facial expression, it seemed that whatever was being said on the other line, it was not making sense and/or could be bad news


*
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The Holy Dominion of Inesea
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 14439
Founded: Jun 08, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Holy Dominion of Inesea » Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:22 pm

Mendeans were recent visitors to the islands of Varenhold. Before the Great War of the last decade, few had desired to visit the cold lands of Nordesia. Even merchants were far and few in-between. The trade of the southern hemisphere was far more lucrative and close. Following the Great War, Mendeans had started to make their presence known in Nordesia. In Varenhold, they still faced a heroes welcome. In a high class shopping establishment like this, Het had hoped to find some Mendean clothing options adapted for this frigid land. After much searching and conversation with the staff, he managed to locate a small section of the store that had more or less what he was looking for. First he grabbed a hat with ear flaps, an attached neck gaiter, and a face-veil of sorts. It was a Menidi Shumka, worn by the northern steppe riders back home. It would help keep his poor head warm. Afterwards he found a variation of his current clothing, an insulated wool Kandora. He also purchased a cotton thawb to wear over it and a oiled sealskin poncho to keep out the elements. A solid pair of gloves rounded out the mix. As he went to pay, a chill in his feet made him stop. His leather sandals were wholly insufficient for this climate. Turning back to the masked store attendant, he also had some boots fitted for him. Finally fully decked out, he paid for himself and a small tip to the attendant. The poor man had worked well through the mishmash of languages in which they had to communicate.

Later the group returned to the hotel, where Mireille was accosted by a hotel attendant. He came brandishing a telephone. Het continued past, in search of the hotel bar. He was running low on vodka in his flasks and needed some replenishment. While swilling a fine Drachen lager, he heard Ken-something or another and the Rothian exclaim Jackson Elias’ name. In Rothian, the name was similar to as it was in Mendean. Het meandered back into the lobby, where he saw the Rothian and Korukkan awkwardly conversing in Rothian. Not that Het understood them, but awkwardness transcended language. In another corner, a somewhat shocked or confused looking Mireille was on the phone. Anders, the local aide, had just finished a question when Het walked in. He got the tail end of it. Taking one last swig of liquor, Het strode fully into the room and joined the group. To the Varenholder, he replied.

“Jackson Elias is a friend, colleague, and mentor to many of the persons in our group. That said, I don't know why he'd call us on the phone and not just meet in person. But alas, that's Elias”
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The Biosyn
Bureaucrat
 
Posts: 44
Founded: Jul 09, 2015
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Biosyn » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:06 pm

For a moment there, Anders thought he was going to be ignored. The Rothian seemed to have heard him but instead turned to speak in his native tongue, it sounded like, with the Tiantian, the only decipherable words being the name of Jackson Elias.

But then the Mendean, glass of liquor in his hand, appeared and answered his question. “Jackson Elias is a friend, colleague, and mentor to many of the persons in our group. That said, I don't know why he'd call us on the phone and not just meet in person. But alas, that's Elias

“Indeed, Monsieur, Jackson Elias is quite the character, from what the papers have said,” Anders said, developing a wry smile. “But you say many of your group know him? Those must be quite the stories, meeting him. And you, Messieurs and Mademoiselle, mean to meet him today?”

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Fanaglia
Senator
 
Posts: 4061
Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:54 pm

When her conversation ended abruptly ("conversation" being a word only loosely applicable to whatever that was), Mireille stared at the receiver a moment, both unsure of what to make of what she just heard and equally unsure of what to do with the device. "Finished? I'll take that fore you, madam," the concierge told her as he replaced it on the desk.

"Merci," she replied distantly, her mind elsewhere. She now had more questions than ever, but she decided it would be best to play along with whatever her old friend had up his sleeve. Something wasn't quite right and, whatever the problem was, he had his reasons for his queer demeanor, his cryptic instructions, and his referring to her party as her "family."

"Un moment, sil vous plait," she asked of Ms. Olsdatter, who gave a silent, respectful bow. She returned to where her associates had gathered; Professor Raminotto and Mister Higa were struggling through an awkward conversation in Rothian (apparently about the phone call) and Doctor Zhakshakulovy had just returned from the bar. The latter spoke to their hired man, Anders (who was poorly hiding his shock and curiosity at hearing Elias' name), to inform him about their relationship to the man. Mireille's eyes narrowed; she wished he hadn't done that. Whatever Jackson Elias' message was, one thing was clear: discretion was key. Her brow still furrowed with confusion and not a small amount of worry, she said to Anders, "Pardon moi, but could I please have a moment alone to discuss something wtih my family?" Without giving him the opportunity to respond, she added, "Thank you," as she gave a jerk of the head to Doctor Zhakshakulovy to signal for him to join her and the others. When they were all together, she placed herself between Anders and the group and said to them in a hushed voice, "Something is wrong. I don't know what, but we need to be discreet. Need-to-know only and he," she said, gesturing over her shoulder towards their guide, "doesn't need to know. He referred to you all as my 'family,' so I guess that's the cover we're to use. I'm not sure what to do about our little friend, but he knows we're not really a family and is already getting suspicious." She looked around at all of the very different faces of her new "family" and sighed. "Maybe a family is not the most convincing lie, but I'm sure he had his reasons. Maybe we've all come to town for a wedding? In any case, we're to meet Jackson Elias for dinner at eight this evening." She decided not to share the name of the hotel or the room number. Need to know. "So let's say we meet back here in the lobby at...seven thirty?"
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Yasuragi
Diplomat
 
Posts: 681
Founded: Jun 24, 2013
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Yasuragi » Sun Oct 28, 2018 12:02 pm

And, like nearly two percent of all Fanaglian families, the group proceeded to immediately disintegrate, each heading away on their own whims. Masked servants would escort each to their rooms, each room meeting into a common area that was filled with carpets, overstuffed armchairs, and yes, yet more bookcases. Klippenstaad had a thriving publishing industry, enabling even the low-class hotels to offer a fine selection of books for their clientele, let alone a higher class one such as the Klippen-Muinssen. A polished dining table allowed for group dinners, but for the introverts or recluses, individual tables were set aside within their rooms for their use. All of the servants shared one quarter, although in this case, that meant the air was filled with Khadari mutterings as they jostled back and forth to unpack their master's suitcases and transform his room into the higher standards he was expecting.

The suite of rooms, common area and each of the individual rooms, were heated by clever use of a single large kachelofen set aside in one corner. The heavy heater, made from ceramic tiles decorated in lovely geometric shapes, not only projected its heat out into the common area, but funneled the fumes and hot air through pipes into the individual rooms, and there, vented them into the cold air outside. It also, conveniently, provided a source of hot water should the guests want an emergency cup of tea without waiting for the kitchens to provide one. Not that they would have proper tea, really; the fad nowadays in Varenhold was a Parthan drink known as saro, a vaguely bitter but warming brew that really rather reminded the Eirens of coffee, and the Mizrans and Tians of tea. The drink, as Anders could inform them, grew in prominence during the War of Independence, when outside imports were limited, forcing Varen merchants to turn to local herbs and alternative recipes. Now, even with the war a decade gone, saro remained popular, from the elegant estates of the wealthy to the large-scale coffeehouses that clustered near the port.

From their rooms, the group departed on various errands or sight-seeing trips; uptown Klippenstaat was a bustling haven of technological and cultural advancement, a city come into her own. The war-time exhaustion had been shaken off, and the citizens rejoiced in being the hub of Nordesia, a place where everyone could find everything - for a price. The widespread rejection of prejudices and increased sense of national liberation and acceptance filled Klippenstaat's streets with Tiantian students, Pahadan porters, and Eiren nobles, and yet more alongside them. In this haven of cultural and intellectual wealth, one could find early films, broadcast operas, and artistically designed neon lights flickering above the crowds clamoring through High Street.

Klippenstaad was not all neon signs and crooning singers on the radio, however. Uptown was very much the aberration for the city, and the city itself was an aberration for Varenhold! Duck down an alley or two away from the high streets, and you quickly found havens of poverty sheltering amidst the wealth and advancement. Soup kitchens abounded, while wounded ex-veterans pleaded for a few coins as you passed. Pahadans filled tiny coffee-houses, drinking saro from tin cups and smoking cigarettes in abundance; in the distance, one could see a furtive Varen slipping into what looked like a Korukkan bakery that boasted rather bleak-looking bread. Grime and rust covered much, and trash and sewage could be found in abundance, not that one would be looking for them. The glitter and glories of Klippenstaat stood in harsh contrast to the seething poverty and desperation that lay underneath the mask it put forth to the world.

Thus it was understandable that -- should Mireille try -- Ragna Olsdatter's eyes, although partially concealed by the mask she wore, would go wide at any mention of the Peace Plaza. Her resistance to the notion of venturing near the docks, even in order to protect Mireille's modesty and reputation, was nearly palpable, although she would only give vague and dissatisfying answers. Anders, on the other hand, offered a wide smile and an enthusiastic nod, having already connected the dots in his head. He would be a bit more forthcoming, allowing that the docks were perhaps not the safest place to be, despite the efforts of the police and.... other people. Any excursion there would be best accomplished quickly and cautiously, and perhaps with weapons close at hand. Not that anything too egregious would occur, of course, but solely to ward off fate and chance, those eternal twins. The weapons would serve well to ward off the occasional ruffian too, as well.

Plus, whatever they had been summoned for had driven Elias into a fit of paranoia and fear; perhaps it would be better to be armed - discreetly - when they set out.

And so it was that the party found themselves clambering into two carriages - for automobiles were a rarity in the docks, Anders would say - leaving behind their luggage and the majority of their servants in the warm hotel. Setting out down the gas-lit and well-cobbled roads, the clopping of the horses' hooves echoing queerly in the evening fog, they would not help but feel a chill seeping into the carriage, despite their new clothes and the warmth generated by their proximity. A sense of nervous anticipation would settle on them, too, as their carriages took turn after turn, winding ever further into unwelcoming areas. Here, by the docks, there was activity, almost incessant activity, but it was subdued. People spoke rarely to each other, not even giving a begrudging nod as they passed. Shops here stayed open til the wee hours of the night, selling their wares to the nighttime porters, and then again to the morning shift of factory workers and dockyard men. Small fires flickered down the ends of alleyways, and many of the shapes huddled around them looked far too small to be adults.

At last, their carriages would shudder to a halt, the coachmen clucking lightly to soothe the horses as they stamped impatiently. Peering out, they'd see an imposing 4 story building, the words 'Hotel Novda' written in peeling white paint across the facade. While undeniably made of brick, the overall impression of the building was best summed in one word: rickety. It would not surprise any of them if the building were to be condemned and destroyed the next day, and yet the traffic in and out of the doors proved its activity. They waited for a few long minutes while Anders and another one of them ducked inside - their man to talk to the desk clerk, and Anders to assist if needed. It was not long before they returned, the party's coffers a tiny bit lighter, but with the needed knowledge - Room 410 was taken, and the man inside, a Robert Kaln, had just returned not thirty minutes past.

The hallways above were, somehow, less gruesome than the exterior. While the floors were black with tar and probably also filth of the years, the walls were reasonably clean, although the once-beige paint had faded to a sickly yellow, a process not assisted by the few flickering gas lamps that stained the walls and ceiling. Faded wartime propaganda posters plastered the walls, and a few painted signs in Drachenspreche marked this place as the former "Ministry of Domestic Support" - an unknown government entity that had long since departed. Clambering up the stairs, they reached Room 410. Unremarkable from the rest, yet significant because of the man inside. Why had they been summoned here, brought on this wild-goose chase? Why could he not just speak plainly over the phone? Had all their time and money been wasted? The answers lay on the other side of the thin wooden door --

And yet, Mireille noticed an odd smell in the air, an acrid metallic tang that felt oddly indescribable. And behind the door, there were thumps and footsteps - more than that of just one man.

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Liecthenbourg
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12478
Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Liecthenbourg » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:33 am

To say that he was awestruck by the sights, sounds and smells of Klippenstaad would have been an understatement. The bright neon lights, the bistro cafes and the fantastic roads and high streets of shops were all of a utopian dream that Nozumi, bless the Empress-Dowager, would spout from the new fangled radios she had ordered installed across the largest metropolitian areas of the Clockwork Empire.

Yet it was within the smaller confines that the truth was found.

It was underneath the polished surface that the cracks could be seen. And he had investigated to his heart's content in their few breaks between official business. He had navigated the urban sprawl closest to their own residency and had spoken to the Korukkans present in tea rooms, in bakeries and in other such trades and practices. He had dined with his companions when they would invite, of course, but he had the vague impression from many that he was an outsider.

He could not tell with the locals, however. They were keeping to themselves behind those solemn wooden masks. Betraying nothing.

And it was precisely a photograph of one of these masks that had engrossed him on their carriage ride towards a destination. The mask was ornately carved from a wood he knew not and the feminine figure that wore it -- she had so graciously posed for the photograph with the little he could communicate to her -- was blank. Carved in a resplendent smile the true her was an unknown.

Licking the tip of his pencil he began to scribble notes and annotations on a note-pad, to later transfer to one of his type-writers. This would be an interesting addition to their story; for there could be no feeling, emotion and impact without the heartfelt realities of the land in which they traveled.

Mireille had not been specific and had made it clear of the conservative nature of her imparting on information. He didn't agree with it, no, not at all -- but he kept his mouth shut about it openly.

He had managed to clamber into the carriage with Mireille and the Professor; two of the people he had been able to genuinely hold a conversation with before becoming unwieldy with their flowery tongues.

"I don't like this place very much." he would say, in his Korukkan. "It tries too hard to hide the suffering of the many. How can a society be built in this way?"

It was their confused stares at him once he had finished speaking that had caused him to realise his error and slowly reformed the sentence in Cynfeli.

"How can a people adorn themselves in masks at all time? Where is the camaraderie, the friendship?" He inquired, probing for opinions and thoughts. He relished this.

The carriage rocked and he grabbed onto one of the overhanging handles for dear life. Patting himself down, chest and legs and all, he regained his composure. He sighed out, considered lighting a cigarette but then thought in a considerate fashion about the enclosed space and the others about him. Best not.

"Perhaps one of you could be interested in a potential interview; to go along with my recounting of our tale for the papers?" He eventually asked, staring from one to the other expectantly.

But then the carriage came to a halt and the one behind them too. He climbed out of the wagon, conceptions of ladies first -- ironically out the window.

A dilapidated structure, a ruin most foul. But it presented a sense of honesty. No glamours lights plastering over anything, no sense of grandiose pretenses that needed to be filled.

Yet he sort of wished there was, at least for the sake of his nose.

He kept pace behind Mireille, so gun-ho in her quest for answers. He too had things in his mind; Elias' secrecy, his odd cover as 'family' -- for he could not pass as a grandfather's extended fourteenth cousin. And he, like the woman before him, heard the commotion behind that thin wooden door. And the terrible smell. It brought a wave of memories back to him; rusted metal, earth... bullets Yet of these it was none, it was far more sinister...

It raced across his mind. A man atop a horse, swinging a sabre down. A shell landing not too far. And trenches soaked in guts, limbs and shrapnel. He shut his eyes for but a moment, inhaled mightily and whispered to the others in Cynfeli, then Rothian.

"Blood."
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The Biosyn
Bureaucrat
 
Posts: 44
Founded: Jul 09, 2015
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Biosyn » Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:22 pm

Klippen-Muninssen, Klippenstaad
January 16, 1910
Morning


With a wry smile as Mireille turned her back to him to discuss things with her family, he shook his head at the statement (obviously false, even if he hadn’t already known otherwise), and propped an elbow upon the front counter of the hotel once again, waiting to see if they would continue to retain his services or not. Unexpectedly, after the group’s brief, hushed, but still in Cynfeli conversation, they simply split up, headed to their rooms to rest, or otherwise occupy themselves until 7:30 in the evening, the time he heard them agree upon. Thus, not needed at the moment, but certainly not yet ‘let go’, he decided to take a few hours to ‘run some errands’, as it were.

Once the group had left the lobby of the hotel, he turned to the concierge and asked to borrow the telephone, sliding a few marks across the counter to cover the cost. He rung up a friend of his, Egil Olsen, a Drachenvolk who was in town on business. They had met some years ago when Egil had first been in Kippenstaad on business, and after getting into some scrapes together, had remained friends since then.

Drachensprache”My friend, this is Anders. I know we were going to get drinks in a few days, but something came up. You know our mutual friend, Elias?” he said to Egil over the phone. “Apparently he’s in town. I don’t know where he is yet, but I think between the two of us, we can find him.”

~~~

University of Klippenstaad, Library, Klippenstaad
January 16, 1910
Mid-Afternoon


A few hours later and having found nothing on where Elias might be in town, he had lunch at his girlfriend’s and then arrived at the local university to check in with his cousin who was studying there.

Varen“Little cousin! There you are!” he said to Sevia, striding up to the table where she was studying in the library. “I knew I would find you here. Here, Marinette sent some lunch for you.” He sat down and pushed a paper bag across to her. “She knows you’ve been stressed the past couple weeks and is worried you might forget to eat. Oh! This might interest you. I know you’ve been dying to meet my friend, Jackson Elias. Guess what! He’s in town. I don’t know where yet, but I think I’ll track him down soon. If you’d like to meet him, I think the group I’ve been hired as guide and translator will be meeting him soon. Meet me at the Klippen-Muninssen hotel at 7:00 this evening? That is, if you think you can ditch your studying for a night.”

~~~

Klippen-Muninssen, Klippenstaad
January 16, 1910
Evening


He arrived back at the Klippen-Muninssen at about 4 in the afternoon, to ensure they didn’t try to ditch his services by somehow misleading him on when they would be meeting back in the lobby. He grabbed dinner at 5 at a nearby cafe, and saw the Korukkan wandering about. He secured a seat in the hotel’s lobby afterwards, and waited; and shortly before 7:30, he heard Mireille talking to someone else, presumably Ragna Olsdatter, asking her to accompany them to the Peace Plaza, before entering the lobby, seeing him, and going quiet. Ragna, on the other hand, was trying her best to convince Mireille that the Peace Plaze was “no place for a woman such as Mademoiselle.”

Anders stood up and walked over to the two woman. Cynfeli”Mademoiselle! I didn’t know when my services might be required again, so I left earlier on some errands, but I am glad to see that my absence was not inconvenient to you and the Messieurs. I heard you say that you wanted to visit the Peace Plaza? That is near the docks, so certainly it is as Ms. Olsdatter here is saying. But I would be happy to take you and the Messieurs there, though you should know it’s not the safest part in town. The police and others do their best, but bad sorts still crop up and conduct business there. I would recommend us being prepared to defend ourselves, but it wouldn’t do to be indiscreet about it.”

After a few more moments spent discussing what would be needed with Mireille and the others of the group as they trickled into the lobby, including introducing his cousin, Sevia, as an alternative to Ms. Olsdatter while they head to the docks, he excused himself for a few moments to use the phone to let his Belle know that he would be out late, and to not worry. At the counter he slid the concierge a few more marks, and called not his girlfriend, Marinette, but instead rung up Egil.

Drachensprache“Ma Cherie, this is Anders. I will be out late tonight. The group I am translating for has decided that they require my services for a few more hours today,” he said, speaking in coded hints to Egil, hoping to get his point across without having to be explicit. “We are headed to the docks shortly, but don’t worry, we’ll be prepared.” He stressed a few words as he spoke. “Yes yes, I’ll make certain to get some food to eat on the carriage ride over. Don’t worry, I’ll see you soon.”

In only a short while, they were in their carriages, Anders outside with the driver of the front one, instructing him, in Varen, on the path to take. The carriages made their way to the docks, but not before driving past the hotel where Egil was staying, and, having successfully gotten Anders’ hints, was outside, ready to jump onto the back carriage as they rolled by.

And so the group found themselves outside of Hotel Novda. Anders informed the Messieurs and Mademoiselle that the new man, wearing a mask of the Drachenkult, with them was Egil Olsen, a friend of his, and that he had asked him to join them as extra security while here in Peace Plaza. Heading inside and finding Room 410 was let to a ‘Richard Kaln’, they soon found themselves outside its door.

Anders had been fairly relaxed up to then. No trouble thus far, and none anticipated. Mireille and the Messieurs continued to be cagey about why they wanted to go to the docks, but if it wasn’t to find Elias, sooner or later they’d end up there, he figured. But now, standing in front of Room 410, an odd smell in the air, and sounds issuing from behind the door, their only source he knew (in his experience) was that of multiple people casing the place, ransacking it, searching for something. He quickly started pushing his way through those around him to the door, ignoring any indignant reactions from them, not caring if his job with them would be ended, barking at Egil, Drachensprache”My friend, behind me!” and at everyone else, Cynfeli”Get back! Let me through!”

At the front of the group, he roughly tried the door handle. Finding it locked, he sternly and quietly told everyone but Egil to get back once more, he drew his .45 Colt, and, provided no one took action to stop him, he proceeded to slam the door in with his shoulder.

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Fanaglia
Senator
 
Posts: 4061
Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:15 pm

While Mireille hated to depend on their man, Anders, he had at least been more willing to lend his guidance and expertise than Miss Olsdatter. When they finally ventured uptown, huddling for warmth in their carriages (Mireille wondered why, in Varenhold of all places, there were no charcoal floor heaters fitted to these carriages, especially with how much they paid Anders to arrange for them), she could see why the servant assigned to her had been hesitant. It reminded her of some of the less-desirable quarters she had seen in Cynfel City, although she was sure the homeless and destitute were far more likely to freeze to death in the night than they were back home in sunny Cynfelyn. Mr. Higa (who had joined her and Professor Raminotto in her carriage) seemed to share her pity for the have-nots who inhabited the parts of the flashy city that had been swept under the rug, away from visitors' eyes. And despite their arrival interrupting Mr. Higa's request for an interview with one of them (to which she replied with a hurried, absent-minded "sure"), she was also sure she was not alone in feeling relieved once arriving at the dingy hotel, off the street and away from the cold.

Everything about this adventure so far had been profoundly off. From the circumstances that brough them there, to Elias' queer demeanor, to Anders' unsettling friend he'd invited along for "security," she felt exceedingly off-kilter. Although she could not read them, the old war propaganda and official-looking government signage made her feel even more displaced from the reality in which she was familiar. And what on earth was that strange smell?

Upon arriving at Elias' door, she and her colleagues could tell by the sound of footsteps on the other side that he was not alone. Perhaps those in her group were not the only people he had invited to join him. Or perhaps Anders had sent some sort agents of nefarious intent ahead of them. Or perhaps the walls in the tumble-down hotel were so damned thin that she couldn't accurately determine footsteps from within Jackson Elias' room from those of this neighbors. In any case, she had been on edge and on guard since leaving the Klippen-Muinssen. Her hand drifted into her coat pocket, wherein rested that cold, hateful machine of destruction that had ruined her family and her life. Her stomach turned when her fingers touched the steel, but she had brought it along in case she would have to call on its powers of destruction once more, this time to protect her and her friends. She hoped she would't. With her right hand still in her pocket, grasping her father's gun, she reached up to knock on the door with her left. Her usual, playful knock, four knocks, and two more -- "shave and a haircut, two bits" -- would immediately announce that it was she at his door and not whomever it was he was hiding from. Although, this time, it felt a lot less playful.

"Blood." Her hand froze centimeters from the door as the word softly passed her Korukkan friend's lips, the fear in his voice transcending any tinge of his accent. He was right. That was the smell that so assaulted her senses. Images from the past -- images she'd long fought to bury in the back of her mind -- came flooding back once she'd made the connection. While she hadn't been there for the deed, the responsibility fell to her when it came time to...clean up. So much blood. Little shards that looked like glass, but were actually fragments of skull. The stains that would just...not...come...out. And that smell -- that smell she had tried so hard to forget. Yet there it was.

She felt about to faint, especially when she spied the glint off of it -- the gun. The gun Anders had drawn as he pushed his way through her gaggle of associates, shoving her nearly to the floor. She caught herself on the shoulders of Professor Raminotto and buried her face into the breast of his waistcoat, fearing what was to happen next as Anders shouted and smashed his body against the door. Wham! WHAM!
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Factbook
OOC: Fanaglia is a steampunk nation; whenever I post IC, I'm posting from 1886. That, or from some sort of weird time rift in which my characters don't realize they are in fact 127 years in the future.
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Drachenstaat
Civil Servant
 
Posts: 6
Founded: Feb 07, 2018
Scandinavian Liberal Paradise

Postby Drachenstaat » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:27 pm

Morning

Egil dropped the phone back upon the receiver, dragging a cigarette from his mouth, a thin smile appearing across his weathered face. He could finally catch-up with Elias and settle a dispute with a man he had never met.

The Drachenvolk man extinguished his cigarette on the bottom sole of his boot, saving the butt in his trouser pocket before wrenching himself up from the chair. Egil set to dressing himself, he was already half so, only missing a shirt, coat, and mask.

An undershirt, a sweater, suspenders pulled over, he cared not for any fashion. He secured his holster to his chest and nestled his C96 pistol into it. 10 rounds pre-loaded.

Egil draped a black hood over his head, a skull bone mask over his face. And of course, his dull grey peaked cap, from his days in the revolutionary Volkswehr.
He was Todenvolk, the death worships of Drachenstaat, and this skull was his face.

Egil continued, with his coat, stuffing his MP18 and three 20-magazines into special pockets.

He was almost ready, to finally track down and confront Elias.

One final thing before he set off.

Egil secured a pair of ice cleats to his boots, never one to slip on Klippenstaad ice.

Evening

This was Egil’s first meeting with Anders’ group, the group his friend was guiding. Egil took no liking to the most of them, a Fanaglian girl with no reason to be in such a shady place, a Clockie reporter too far from home, a rich bastard, a Rothian wreck. The Mendean may hold if, if he dressed proper for the cold.

Egil decided against speaking to any of them, outside of Anders. He followed closely behind his friend, keeping close, ignoring anything the others were doing. He couldn’t understand them regardless.

And then there was Anders slamming away at a door with his shoulder, a revolver in his friend’s hand.

Egil whipped his submachine gun out from his coat, loading it in preparation for any shooting or gun-pointing that was needed to be done.
But looking up from his gun, there was Anders still trying to batter down the wooden door.

“Friend,” Egil said, speaking in the proper ‘Volk Drachensprahce accent, his hand reached out to Anders, “You’re going to hurt your shoulder like that. Kick it with your foot, next to the lock. Surely, I need not show you how to do it like we did in the Civil War? Or at least try shooting the bolt before you break your arm!”

This could only end so poorly.
Last edited by Drachenstaat on Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Inoroth
Negotiator
 
Posts: 5280
Founded: Jul 19, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Inoroth » Tue Nov 13, 2018 4:01 pm

Klippen-Muninssen Hotel, Uptown
Klippenstaad, Varenhold
16 January, 1910
Morning through 18:30 Local Time


Luciano's awkward conversation was thankfully cut short by the gathering of the "family" by Mireille, but it was only a small mercy. His suspicions had been confirmed, and it seemed Mr. Elias must believe something were very wrong if he wanted them to use such an obviously false ruse. Like the others, however, he could not puzzle out what it might be -- or, more accurately, he could imagine any number of increasingly wild and implausible possibilities. At least it seemed that they would no longer require the services of the 'colorful' fellow they had ill-advisedly taken on back at the aerodrome, and after making a phone call, the man left. Hopefully tonight would provide some answers. Long after the others had dispersed, he found himself still seated at one of the armchairs in the hotel lobby (one that was in a corner and with a full view of the space), musing by the fire and chewing absentmindedly at his thumb. He refuse all attempts by the hotel staff to assist him with his bag.

Several glasses of brandy later (some local variety that had come "highly recommended" by the masked concierge), and finally Luciano retired to his room for a few hours. It was comfortable, and he appreciated the warmth emanating from the little coal stove in the common area. There was a little card explaining how one might brew something called saro tea printed in several languages, but Luciano decided he would pass on the "wonderful Parthan-inspired experience" for the time being... 'If he had wanted that, why not go to Parthan to find the genuine article?' he thought as he unlocked his door.

Luciano carefully unpacked his travel trunk and newly acquired haversack, laid the items out on his bed and the small table, and meticulously redistributed them to better balance once heaved it onto his back. True to form, he unpacked and repacked again, four times in total, each time a bit faster and more efficiently. By the end, he was certain he could produce any item that he might require at a moment's notice, with his eyes closed if need be. The experience had been more relaxing than expected -- perhaps it was the Klippenstaad brandy still swimming in his head, or perhaps that this had been the first appreciable block of time where he did not feel that he was being watched by masked strangers, or it may have been the ability to command order in a new and strange place. Regardless, he smiled as he checked his watch, heaved his pack, and went down to meet the others.


Hotel Novda, Peace Plaz, Dockyards,
Klippenstaad, Varenhold
16 January, 1910
18:30 through 19:58 Local Time


As Luciano entered the lobby, he spied that Anders fellow in one of the lobby chairs, watching the outside door. 'Damn, did no one dismiss that over-priced vagrant? I thought...' -- His thinking, thought, was interrupted as he ducked back behind the wall, their 'guide' glancing back his way. It did not appear that he had been spotted. At least, Mr. Anders did not pursue, and Luciano decided to find another place on the first floor to wait. There were a few chairs near the landing of the staircase, and as this was most likely the way any of his compatriots who might still be in their rooms would take, he waited there until nearly the appointed time.

The Rothian entered the lobby about the time Miss Mireille, Miss Olsdatter, and Mr. Anders were discussing the meeting point. He expected that his Fanaglian compatriot would explain in short order that the man's services were no longer needed, but as he approached he caught their conversation. It seemed that their destination was not in a nice part of town, and only one of their guides was willing to escort them there. It was not hard to guess which one that might be. So much for being rid or Anders, then.

Eventually, they were all gathered, the coachmen had been 'convinced' by a healthy sum to secure his large pack to the back of the carriage rather than leave it behind, and they were off. Luciano found himself in the coach with Miss Mireille, Mr. Ken, and Miss Selvia, the 'cousin' of their guide (a likely story). The whole affair did not set well with him: they were split up, heading into an unsavory part of town, and now their guide had brought more compatriots... if it were his own intention to lead a bunch of naive travelers out of safety and steal from them -- or worse -- it was the Rothian's opinion that this would be about exactly how he might go about doing it. Thankfully, he had taken his service revolver out of it's place in his trunk, and it was now safely within on of his coat pockets. He also gripped his cane a bit tighter, trying not to look as nervous as he felt.

KORRUKAN "I don't like this place very much. It tries too hard to hide the suffering of the many. How can a society be built in this way?"

Luciano started slightly, his worried pondering interrupted by an unintelligible comment from the man seated next to him. Raminotto looked at the man curiously, who seemed slightly embarrassed and said something that sounded completely different, this time in a tongue much more familiar.

CYNFELI "How can a people adorn themselves in masks at all time? Where is the camaraderie, the friendship?"

The man looked expectantly on, and Luciano was about to answer, when the carriage shuddered and its occupants rattled about within. Luciano bumped his head against the vehicle's window frame rather severely. Rubbing the lump that was forming on his head, Luciano had quite forgotten the question. No matter, it seemed, for the Korrukan seemed to be full of them.

CYNFELI"Perhaps one of you could be interested in a potential interview; to go along with my recounting of our tale for the papers?"

Mireille was almost dismissively terse, but then as something of a "matriarch" of their "family" (Luciano flashed a smile as he mentally approved of his own word-play), she had a lot on her mind.

CYNFELI "Well Mr. Ken, although I fear you could find a host of more exciting subjects for your interview than a lowly professor of chemistry and mathematics, , if you feel it is worth your trouble, I would very much enjoy any excuse to...

He was interrupted by the abrupt halting of the carriage. They had arrived.

As the party gathered outside the "Hotel Novda", Luciano could not believe that their friend Elias had chosen it as a meeting point. It was clearly structurally unsound, and in a bad part of town to boot. 'Maybe the rumors are true, and his spending habits had already gone through the book royalty moneys...' he thought, when suddenly a figure emerged from the shadows, mask a white skull. Luciano cried out and leapt nearly three feet back, eyes wide: 'This is it, this is where we die!' he thought. His body tensed all over, and he raised his cane menacingly at the figure. Thankfully, Mr. Anders was able to explain that this was one Egil Olsen, added muscle and security. Luciano remained highly suspicious, but was so rattled that he did not even to think to ask how the man knew to find them. Mr. Egil seemed equally content to remain silent about the matter -- and indeed, all matters.

After a delay, Mr. Anders assured them that the room Mireille had specified was indeed reserved, and that a Mr. Robert Kaln had recently returned. The inside of the crumbling 4-story edifice was even worse than outside. The floor was black with what he could only hope was some kind of intentionally sticky-tacky material, the walls stained and a sickly yellow, the unflattering affect aided by the flickering gas-lamps. It did not help the appearance that faded and torn posters still littered the place either, some dialect of Drachensprech and seemingly still holdovers from the war. 'If they haven't bothered cleaning these up yet, what other corners must they be cutting?' he wondered.

His musing was cut short as they finally arrived at Room 410, and it was immediately apparent that there was trouble. Although not in front, Luciano could see the look of alarm on Mr. Ken's as he stooped down, repeating the same word in multiple languages: "Blood." No sooner had the man said it than the smell hit him. Luciano involuntarily took a step back in shock, feeling immediately ill to the stomach. The smell unlocking several horrid memories from the war. Time seemed to slow as the faces of the dead flashed before him; some he knew well, others complete strangers, all lying piteously and haphazardly in the mud of the trenches. Meaningless in their arrangement, futile in their sacrifice, some were maimed beyond all recognition, gore and viscera splattered everywhere, others reposed, supine in their slumber.

His breaths came short and rapidly, the world contracted and felt unreal around him. He felt like a spectator in his own body. He could feel the same rush of emotion flooding over him that he had felt all those years ago. When he had completely lost himself, when in an unthinking rage he had operated his gun for hours, when it had taken half a dozen soldiers to be rip him off of it, when... Something smashed against his shoulder, and then something else was thrust against his chest. Luciano snapped out of his daze, frightened as he instinctually grabbed at whatever it was and forcefully pushed it out to arms length. Adrenaline was flowing, and he was ready to kill or flee from whatever this thing that had attacked him was. Horrified, he realized that, instead of finding himself face to face with an assailant, there stood poor Mireille. Luciano realized that he was gripping poor Mireille's shoulders far more tightly than could have been comfortable, and he immediately let go in shock. She appeared quite afraid and on the verge of tears -- not least because of his own reaction, no doubt. His expression softened immediately to one of apology and shame. He felt awful and hoped she would forgive him.
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I am apperantly a Neo-Conservative... who knew?

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The Holy Dominion of Inesea
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Holy Dominion of Inesea » Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:58 pm

For Het, the world contracted to the small, dingy corridor. As they walked the corridors towards the room where the answer to their quest supposedly laid, Het felt a long forgotten yet sickeningly familiar feeling coil in his stomach. This place, this building, was exuding the very negative energies that any soldier learned to fear in the battlefield. His hands dropped to his sides, onto the Jhile blades tucked into his robe. He doubted the feeling was anything more than a reaction to the...poor surroundings they found themselves in. Yet one didn't survive the Qarilik by ignoring one's gut. As they approached the door, the group came to a halt. From the room came the sounds of many men -- many when they expected one. From the mouth of the Korukkan came one recognizable word. Blood. The Varen in the party immediately jumped into action, bashing into the door before being redirected by Egil. Pushing past the frozen Mireille and Luciano, Het joined the men at the door. With a heavy grunt, he slammed the pommel of one of his blades into the hinges of the door. The rusted old metal broke with a snap. As the metal clattered to the ground, the door began to sway before toppling inwards. In charged Het, a knife in each hand and a mad gleam in his eyes.
Last edited by The Holy Dominion of Inesea on Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Yasuragi
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Capitalist Paradise

Postby Yasuragi » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:14 pm

Wham. Wham! Wham!

Anders had given the door three solid blows with his shoulder, and yet it still stood. Its flimsy nature could not be denied; splinters of wood littered the floor, and visible cracks were apparent all around the hinges and door-jamb. And yet it still stood. Anders muttered something in Drachenspreche, back and forth with Egil, even as he stepped back to begin kicking the door in instead, relying on his thick boots to finish the job. The hinges, courtesy of Het’s frantic work with the knives, had given way, and a decisive kick from Anders saw the door topple inwards with a horrifying scraping and grinding of wood. The noise had drawn even these reclusive Varen to their doors; no community this, it was not particularly common to see a door kicked down so loudly or dramatically. Upon seeing heavily armed foreigners, many of them retreated as quickly as they had opened the door in the first place, taking care to fasten an additional latch or two as a precaution.

The odor of blood, initially faint enough to be barely recognizable, now became an overwhelming miasma emanating from inside the room, which was - rather bizarrely, illuminated by warm and inviting glow. In contrast to the light, however, the room inside was cold, a chill breeze from the outside passing through a window somewhere inside the room and reaching the rest of the party standing in the hall.

As Het charged inside, however, he had no chance to examine his surroundings, before he immediately found himself engaged in combat. Three men were inside the room, each taller than the Mendean, and each clad in heavy Varen coats - and masks. Not masks like the ones they had seen on the streets or in the hotel, though, no. These masks were bizarre and unsettling, even to native Varen. Perhaps even especially so, for they did not follow any of the conventional norms of mask-making.

For one, their masks were made from flesh. Stitched together with neat, tight loops of string, each mask was a unique pattern of different colorations and textures - there, the dense white fur of what could have been an Arctic hare, and here, the wiry fur of some terrier, and on the cheek of that one, a large patch of hairless pale flesh that looked unsettlingly soft in the glow of the oil lamps. No Drachen or Varen used flesh for their masks, unless it was potentially well-cured leather, and certainly not this mottled patchwork of materials.

The holes of the mask were too wide, as well, allowing Het, Anders, and Higa to see the dark brown skin of some of the men, and see their wide eyes, pupils overly dilated. Red-stained teeth, too, were visible, as the two groups regarded each other for a heartbeat.

Het stumbled slightly as he attempted to charge into the room, brandishing his knives; the door, hanging wildly askew from the frame had lodged on something underneath it. The shattered remnants of a chair back was barely visible underneath. He turned, keeping his knives visible and ready, only to note that the three men inside had weapons too. Large ones. Practically swords, from their length, but oddly hooked at the tip, and wickedly sharp from the gleam on them. The sight of them would stir something familiar in Het’s memory -- he knew those weapons. A common favorite for Parthans, it was equally adept at hacking vegetation as it was at hacking flesh, which many a Mendean soldier had learned to their despair. Panga. But what were they doing here, in cold Nordesia, half a world away from its jungle origins?

Het had no time for further thoughts or recollection, for things began to move very quickly.

The masked men had clearly been aware of the group outside, or had been expecting some sort of outside interruption -- the chair lodged underneath the handle proved as much. Anders’ last blow, and the shattering of the door, had apparently interrupted them regardless, for one of the men was crouched at the half-open window opposite the door. Partially obscured by the curtains billowing in the cold Klippenstaad air, he too had his panga out, but was hunched with one foot on the rusty fire escape outside. His other hand clutched a bundle of -- something. The leather bindings indicated a journal or book of some sort, but Anders, Higa, and Het had no time to investigate further, for combat was upon them.

With a wordless shout that sounded more like a guttural roar than anything else, the man nearest to Het proceeded to rain down a flurry of powerful blows. Brandishing his mismatched knives, which looked puny in comparison to nearly two-foot long panga, Het furiously deflected each blow as best as he could, sometimes only narrowly averting disaster by a hair’s breadth. Outmatched in size, weight, and strength, he gave ground quickly, only to come to a sudden halt as he found his back against a table. The moment of surprise nearly proved to be his undoing as another blow slipped past his defenses and slashed into the table, splintering it heavily -- and leaving a hearty gash along Het’s arm in the process. The two men - the shorter and slighter Mendean and the heavy-set and imposing Parthan stared at each other, breathing heavily.

Well, no, that wasn’t entirely accurate. A sheen covered the Parthan’s eyes, and he stared at Het as if at a man possessed. It was as if he fought perfectly, devilishly, but without awareness of who he was fighting or perhaps even why. His chest was heaving too, perhaps from the exertion of all the powerful blows, but his breath was sickeningly sweet. He wrenched the panga out of the desk and would have driven it through Het’s body then and there, were it not for the timely intervention of Egil and Anders. A tightly concentrated flurry of bullets from Egil’s gun cut through the air to hit the man in his chest, sending him stumbling back a few steps. He still stood, miraculously, for a second or two, clutching his weapon - before Anders’ .45 cut him down where he stood. The panga clattered to the floor to lay besides his unmoving body.

Across the room, Higa stood above the body of the other Parthan, tucking away a gun and sword with a suitably grim expression on his face. Egil appeared in the doorway too, brandishing a large gun with an outsized drum cartridge; the barrel still smoked slightly. The battle was over almost as quickly as it had begun -- but it had raised still more questions.

As the group began to put away their weapons - but keeping them still close at hand - they became aware of three things. First, there were only two dead masked men on the floor of the room. Of the third, the one that had been clambering out of the window when they entered, there was no sign; whoever rushed to the window would only see the backside of a carriage disappearing into the mists around the corner. Pursuit would be impossible - clambering down the staircase would take time, and catching a carriage on foot would be difficult. So too would be finding it afterwards, given that their own carriages were out front, rather than behind the hotel. The third man had escaped, unfortunately.

The second fact that they discovered was that he had apparently escaped with what he had come to find. Chaos and disarray covered every inch of the room, with upturned tables, emptied drawers, and discarded clothes lying everywhere. Feathers from slashed-open pillows swirled in the breeze, and papers crinkled and rustled as they searched through the mess.

The third thing they discovered was that there had been four men in the room, not three.

Jackson Elias’ body lay on the bed, lying on his back, with his face hanging over the edge. His expression was slack, his sightless gaze fixated on the door. He still wore his usual suit and vest, although it had been ripped open, and the tattered remnants did little to conceal a scene of absolute carnage. Elias’ intestines lay exposed, the pale loops piled atop the gleaming white of his rib-cage, which had been splintered and broken in half. He had clearly been disemboweled, viciously, and with sufficient upward force to shatter his sternum and ribs. The blood-loss was immense; the very mattress was suffused with blood, and a faint pitter-patter could be heard as Elias’ blood drained onto the floor.

There were additional indications his death had been quite bloody. His right hand bore horrific marks, the unnatural bent to several fingers indicating they had been broken, and several fingernails on his left hand were bloody and shattered. Wooden splinters underneath, and deep scratches on the floor would reveal the truth; in trying desperately to escape, Elias had ended up damaging his own fingernails so.

The most gruesome scene of all, however, was reserved for his forehead. Above the pale eyes that gazed unseeingly at the hallway where Mireille, Luci, and Sevia still stood, a symbol had been carved into his forehead, the blood still freely running from it to the floor, where it mixed with the blood pooling from the two Parthans.

Jackson Elias was dead. His room was ransacked. What were they to do now?

OOC:
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Liecthenbourg
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Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Liecthenbourg » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:28 am

Wham. Wham! Wham!

The door did not budge. Anders' shoulder rammed against it thrice yet it still stood. The wood was bent and splintering and the frame was shaking, but it stood. From the corner of his eye, Higa noted the commotion from down the hallway as dozens of masked faces peeked from behind their doors towards the ruckus. They retreated back as Anders raised his heavy boots and slammed the door down.

It swung off of its hinges and clattered onto the ground, almost shattering as easily as a piece of glass.

The stench of blood waved over him, but he had a enough fortitude to wave it off. A hand darted into the inner pocket of his black jacket, reaching onto the wooden grip of the wonderful revolver secured for him by Anders. He sighed. Inwardly.

Much like on the fields of Ibrahama before him, with the Toyone Grenadiers at his back, he stepped forward. A slick, pointed dress shoe as opposed to his battered combat boot. Yet even this upgrade of class meant nothing: it was still the same.

The Mendean known as Het had entered the room first, brandishing his knives and daggers and blades. Higa entered shortly after, rubbing his suited shoulders with the well-dressed Anders. In the commotion, Higa cared not for the secrecy between their two groups: they had a common foe before them.

And what a foe they were; grotesque monsters parading around with stitched masks -- a mockery of the locals? -- that hid away their features. Red teeth, swarthy skin and large, black eyes. They were armed with hooked blades that looked more like agrictulrual scythes than weapons of war. But they had an edge to them and Higa was not about to let a farmer's weapon take him out.

He instinctively darted to the left once he and Anders had entered, raising the revolver to his eye level.

"DROP IT!" he yelled in Korrukkan and in the panic did not realise that he had yelled in his native tongue. When the assailant before him refused to comply in the mere second after he yelled it, his finger pressed on the trigger.

A booming sound erupted from the barrel of his revolver as the hammer came down. A round fired, swift and true, and blew off of a chunk of the man's shoulder. He yelped in pain, having been stopped in his menacing advance with the blade. Clattering onto the ground, he or she became unarmed. It was in this yelp that Anders managed to whip the Parthan over the back of his head with his .45, whereby he came to the ground with a crashing thud.

Anders moved off, to help Het, but at this Higa strode forth with his officer's sword at hand. He prodded the unconscious man numerous times in non-vital areas, forming minor cuts along the arms and thighs, before bruising the man across his chest with the pommel of his sword. He inspected the man's pockets, tapped him down, the mask too... to reveal the face of the perpetrator. And the weapon caught his eye, as well. He grimaced slightly, staring at the man now on the ground and pocketed his weapons as the others began to shuffle in once Egid had gunned down the final man.

Removing the mask, the man he had brought down to an unconscious state was of black skin. His teeth, as if stained from chewing tobacco; yet this was far more sinister. Red markings, as if they had been chomping on flesh. He... did something frankly disgusting, having knelt down to get a closer look. The whiff wasn't acrid like blood, but the breath was sweet and... frankly sugary, fruity. The dilated eyes betrayed an opiate of some kind.

"Drugs." he said in Cynfeli, loud enough for those outside to hear.

He rummaged further, inspecting. Their pockets were turned out and only revealed several coins and notes, of a currency he cared not for. It was when he shifted the body to an upright position, noting the pooling blood around the left shoulder. But that could wait for now. Or someone could tie it up for him.

The others had funneled in by now with a sense of trepidation and worry. Het was wounded and battered, some cuts across his arms. Higa frowned, checked over himself and saw he was alright. He had been too quick on the draw and had the help of the much more reactive and alert Anders. Very good. He looked back down at his shoddy detective work, all the time thinking in his mind of how to put this pen to paper. None would believe of a crime fighting journalist... but the charismatic strong-man that Anders could be portrayed to be...? Perhaps.

Looking down it was the sight of the rectangular card on the floor, bent in the middle, that caught his eye. He scanned it over quickly but pocketed it, for his almost secluded work was interrupted.

Someone shrieked: likely Mireille. He looked up, now noticing the sight on the bed. The gravity and calamity of the situation before him hit him like a truck.

Now the room sunk into him; the overturned cabinets and drawers, the possessions, papers and parchments strewn across the floor with little sympathy or concern. The countless broken baubles, mirrors and glasses. The seeping liquid of Elias' preferred beverage dripping from the counter top. His shelves, swiped clean.

And the pit-pat, the rhythmic pit-pat, of the blood that was pooling on the floor by the bed.

There he lay, a martyr of the cause. A martyr of truth, justice and all the journalistic freedoms and expressions. He brought a handkerchief to his nose, snuffled it, and then wiped away the few tears he would not permit to be shown. They were not what one would call fast friends, or close friends, but acquaintances none-the-less. With similar interests. Be it a cover or not, this was... they were codenamed his family. His family. Were we the only ones left he could call upon, Higa dreadfully thought. Were we his last hope, to prevent this?

No man, no matter your relation, deserved to have their chest split in twain. Ever rib would have been protruding out if not for the mesh of organs and guts that were piled atop it like a sick perching bird of flesh.

He brought the handkerchief down and covered his mouth and nose again, taking a deep breath and shutting the eyes of their deceased comrade. On a knee at that side of the bed, he knelt in reflective thought and began muttering to himself in his mother tongue. Even as the others watched and gathered round.

"Mokh: let your stern but understanding nature guide Elias to where he deserves, through your seas and storms... Huri: let your tender embrace and generosity grant Elias a reprieve in death that he could not have in life in your gardens... Rishiri: let his spirit roam free as the creatures of the forest, free from the chains of life... Tsukatomi: let the wealth of Elias' character enter your tender embrace, judge him fairly and truly, let not his square character affront your trickster nature... And Eijiro: hero of the new age, see yourself in Elias': allow him to your hearth. A hero of the truth and understanding in our cruel world."

It was only when he looked up from his solemn silence that he truly noticed the etching on his comrade's forehead and squinted at it to take a better look. He couldn't find anything of relevance; it made little sense to him. All he knew it was some sick, twisted practice in the arts of these men. Why go through the trouble to do this? This sick... mutilation of the flesh. Slowly standing up, he reached back into his pocket and spoke in a broken tone, carefully choosing his words in his Cynfeli.

"I-- I found this on the..." he gestured with the card towards the slumped unconscious body resting on an overturned chair. He held up the business card and read off the words. "Emerson Imports." he squinted. "660 Northern Way Street. Voernee, Klippenstaad. Telephone Number: HA 6-3900." He turned it around and looked at the back of the bent card.

"Does anyone know of Elias... handwriting? There is cursive here... I think it is a name."

"Silas N'Kwane."
Last edited by Liecthenbourg on Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Drachenstaat
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Founded: Feb 07, 2018
Scandinavian Liberal Paradise

Postby Drachenstaat » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:51 am

With the fighting over and Elias dead as a doornail, Egil kneeled down over Elias's body. The man he had been chasing after for years was now dead, and not by Egil's hand.
At least Egil would have given an honorable killing.

Regardless, there was something bigger going on. Certainly something big enough to get in the way of Egil's honor feud; his spy training kicked in, information was to be found.

Egil wasted no time investigating the corpse, first copying down the symbol from Elias's forehead into his sketchbook, before rifling through Elias's pockets. He found only two things of note.

The first, some richboy's business card, clearly from someone with too much money for their own good. Fine cardstock and gilded lettering. Typical bourgeoisie pig shit.

"The Penhew Foundation,
45 Cristofo Court, Rothia

Eduardo Gavigan, Director"


"Penhew?" Egil said to himself, no louder than whisper. He hadn't heard of it before, it didn't exist in the technological circles that Egil ran.

Egil then examined the other thing he had pulled from dead Elias: an empty, orange Korukkan-styled matchbook. A relatively unremarkable thing, if such a useless object wasn't so far away from home, the Tiantian continent.

Egil stood, walking over to Anders, his heavy boots clonking across the wooden floor with his ice cleats giving a secondary click.

Egil handed the pair of items to his Varen friend.

"What do you make of these, Andy?" Egil asked in Drachensprache, quietly eyeing the others in the room.
I'm Servoth.

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The Biosyn
Bureaucrat
 
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Founded: Jul 09, 2015
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Biosyn » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:43 pm

After saving Het from the second of the two remaining masked assailants, Anders rushed to the window to look down at the retreating carriage. As it rounded the corner out of sight, he briefly saw the brass circle on the side or it, marking it as a public carriage, much like the ones they hired, rather than the private carriage of someone who could afford it. He briefly considered rushing after it, whether out the window or through the door, but after it disappeared, he swore in Varen, but did neither. It was gone, and knowing the carriage had an identifying license was much different than actually seeing it.

Still swearing to himself, letting the others to their business for now, he turned to the ransacked room, and quickly ransacked it even more. Thought these three had found what they were looking for, that’s not to say there wouldn’t be something else, anything, that could tell them more about what was going on. There wasn’t much to be found: only thing of interest was a picture of some large steam- or diesel-powered yacht, alongside Korukkan junks. It seemed to be somewhere in Tiantian, but he didn’t recognize it, and could barely make out the first three letters of the name of the yacht: ‘DAR’. He hissed in frustration at the lack of, well, anything in the room that said why Elias was here. His anger at the gruesome death, more personal to him than anyone in the room but Egil and Sevia would know, turned his open and kind face from earlier hard, hard and determined.

Drachensprache”What do you make of these, Andy?” his friend said to him. He barely flinched anymore at the nickname that was uncomfortably close to his given name, as Egil often called him that, but now, distracted, frustrated, and angry as he was, he couldn’t keep his head jerking in response.

Drachensprache”You found these on Elias?” he asked, as he took the notebook and business card to inspect them, trading Egil for them with the picture he had found. He inspected the two items. “This address…. It is Rothian, so I know nothing…” He sighed. “And while I could take us to the Korukkan shops in town, this notebook… the tiger on it… never seen it before…”

Then Higa spoke up. Cynfeli”I-- I found this on the...Emerson Imports.660 Northern Way Street. Voernee, Klippenstaad. Telephone Number: HA 6-3900.”

Anders’ thoughts raced. He didn’t know this specific business, and highly doubted it was a Court operation. The address he could find his way there, but it certainly wasn’t close by. And then HIga continued, ”Does anyone know of Elias... handwriting? There is cursive here... I think it is a name. Silas N'Kwane.”

And with that, Anders knew, as certain as he could possibly be, that this was not the Court’s doing. A small part of his mind uncoiled as that worry slipped away, but it was quickly replaced, as his attention was pulled to the room full of people. The police would most definitely be arriving soon, and, while he may not have cared if the foreign visitors would be detained, but the interference it might create…

He swore again in Varen before speaking to the group, Cynfeli”Messieurs….. And Mademoiselle…. I…. I would highly recommend that we leave as soon as we can. The police will arrive soon, whether in two minutes or twenty I don’t know, but we won't want to be here when they do. And… I suggest that we leave this…” his voice tightened briefly as he gestured to the room in its entirety, the dead Parthan, and the dead Elias. “all of this, to those in positions of power to… handle it. And this one,” he said, his eyes glinting, turning to the live (though barely) Parthan. “I think he needs to be kept alive for now.”

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Inoroth
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Founded: Jul 19, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Inoroth » Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:51 am

Hotel Novda, Peace Plaz, Dockyards,
Klippenstaad, Varenhold
16 January, 1910
20:07 Local Time


Luciano had no time to ruminate over his actions, as just then the door crashed open and gunfire erupted from inside the room. Surprisingly, the sound of battle had the curious effect of clearing his head. His instinct to act decisively under fire suppressed the feelings of horror and doubt he had felt and still felt. Everyone else poured inside, but, considering his responsibility as a gentleman, Luciano's first thoughts were towards Miss Mireille and Miss Selvia. As the bullets flew, he dragged both ladies down to the ground as gently (yet as quickly) as he could, trying to ensure that he squatted down between them and potential danger. They did not resist, though Mireille retained a dazed, terrified expression the entire time. Plugging his ears with his fingers, he turned back to face the broken door. His balance slipped, and he took a knee to stabilize himself. Aware at how contorted his priorities were, yet unable to help himself in the moment, he cringed as his knee touched the grimy floor, and felt sorry the clothing was soiled. Not only his own, but the girls' as well.

The battle was over quickly. Luciano helped the girls to their feet, led the trio as they walked into the room. Several strange figures lay on the floor, Mr. Anders was at the window and seemed to be contemplating hopping out after something, Dr. Ken was in the corner near one of the bodies, Mr. Ken was standing over the other, and the skull fellow -- 'Oh God'. Immediately Luciano's eyes locked onto the grisly scene of Mr. Elias' remains, his hand covering his mouth in disbelief. It was rather terrible, one of the more ghastly sights he had ever seen, even during the war. He stared in shock for a second or two, processing that his pen pal -- and the whole reason for their journey -- lay sprawling across the blood-stained bed, his insides torn open most violently. Who would want to kill such an upstanding man? Why would they do so in this manner? What --

The cry from Selvia as she saw the disemboweled body was jarring, and Luciano felt another pang of guilt. He ought to have thought about that, this certainly wasn't a sight for proper ladies. He gently shooed them both outside and told them to wait a moment and he would be right back. He made a mental point to be better about these things in the future. That crisis managed, he reentered the room. Luciano glanced around, and noticed at once that the room had been ransacked. Drawers were open and empty, furniture was toppled and strewn about, papers and feathers lay everywhere, and there was no suitcase or luggage to be seen. Then there were the figures lying on the floor, and what a sight they were. Riddled with bullets, blood pooling on the floor, the first thing Luciano noticed was that they wore masks, but not any like he had seen before. Upon closer inspection, he realized with disgust that the mask was made of a patchwork of skin. Then there were the strange weapons, like the billhooks he had seen the Guastatori (Sappers) carry, but linger and more cruel. By the skin-color visible by the large eye-holes, he determined the man to be from Pahada. Then he noticed the teeth, red-stained and vile:

CYNFELI "Drugs"

Said Mr. Ken, leaning over the other fellow. Although Luciano would have known the smell of opioids by his chemistry background, he did not feel the need to confirm the assertion -- it was not at all difficult to believe that one had to be out of their minds to behave so cruelly. The dead man before him was not, however, his primary concern, nor were the scattered papers his eyes passed over on his way forward. He barely noticed as the skull-masked fellow walked past him, tuning out his conversation with Mr. Anders in Drachensprech. No, eventually he came to the bed-side, and fighting against the desire to avoid looking upon the horror once again, he raised his eyes to the scene. It was too much. He tried several more times, but could not hold his gaze for more than a second or two. Eventually, Luciano mustered up the resolve to check his friend's pockets. There was very little there, nothing to indicate what was going on or why he had been killed. He did find the man's gold pocket watch, covered in blood and damaged by a slash from whatever had impaled poor Dr. Elias but still in one piece. Pulling out his handkerchief, he wrapped the watch up carefully and pocketed it.

There was nothing more to be gained from staring at the lifeless, mutilated corpse, so Luciano then checked beneath the bed, hoping to find a bag or something whomever had ransacked the place might have missed. He was disappointed to find only a few more loose papers, mostly covered in the pool of blood soaking through the mattress and dripping on the floor. That is not to say the search was fruitless, however, as something did catch his eye, however. One of the papers had an image - three maroon triangles - that he recognized as the logo of Opiskella University. Although not his field of study, Luciano had heard colleagues speak about how Opiskella had one of the largest collections of books and artifacts in Nordesia. It was significant too because, although well within range of the many destructive bombing raids that characterized the final days of the Great War, the archives themselves were barely touched. Examining the typed-out letter, he read the following:

Dear Mr. Elias,

The book about which you inquired is no longer in our collection. The information you seek may be found here in other volumes. If you will contact me upon arrival, I will be most happy to further assist you.

As Always,

Miriam Atwright,
Opiskella Univerity Archives


The letter was dated about a month ago. Luciano folded it carefully and took care to place it in a pocket other than the one with the watch. It was a lead at least, something the authorities could go on once they finally arrived. He found his mind wandering again, thinking about what could have prompted such senseless violence. He became aware of muttering next to him, and realized that Mr. Ken was saying something in an unknown tongue.

KORRUKAN "Mokh: let your stern but understanding nature guide Elias to where he deserves, through your seas and storms... Huri: let your tender embrace and generosity grant Elias a reprieve in death that he could not have in life in your gardens... Rishiri: let his spirit roam free as the creatures of the forest, free from the chains of life... Tsukatomi: let the wealth of Elias' character enter your tender embrace, judge him fairly and truly, let not his square character affront your trickster nature... And Eijiro: hero of the new age, see yourself in Elias': allow him to your hearth. A hero of the truth and understanding in our cruel world."

It seemed to be some kind of last-rights, and Luciano bowed his head respectfully as best he could. By now, the others had gathered around, and there was a second or two of silence as everyone thought about what to do next. Then Mr. Ken spoke up:

CYNFELI "I-- I found this on the...Emerson Imports.660 Northern Way Street. Voernee, Klippenstaad. Telephone Number: HA 6-3900... Does anyone know of Elias... handwriting? There is cursive here... I think it is a name. Silas N'Kwane.”

Luciano glanced at the note, then shook his head. He had no idea what it meant, or who this 'Silas' fellow might be. Another clue. Turning to their guide, he noticed the man looked rather uneasy, and Mr. Anders addressed the group with concern:

CYNFELI "Messieurs….. And Mademoiselle…. I…. I would highly recommend that we leave as soon as we can. The police will arrive soon, whether in two minutes or twenty I don’t know, but we won't want to be here when they do. And… I suggest that we leave this… all of this, to those in positions of power to… handle it. And this one... (nodding at the unconscious Parthan) I think he needs to be kept alive for now.”

'Oh, of course, why wouldn't our shady guide have a problem with the legitimate authorities.' Luciano thought, annoyed. This sounded like the worst possible advice for a group of foreigners who had witnessed a violent crime. Voice trembling with rising anger, anger from Elias' death and other sources, but increasingly directed at Mr. Anders, he spoke:

CYNFELI "Perhaps it is you who does not wish to be here when the authorities arrive, Mr. Anders. With all due respect to you and your... obviously violence-loving friend over here, your plan sounds like the worst possible response we could choose. We are a group of strangers in a strange land, who have just witnessed a violent crime, and defended ourselves against the perpetrators. We have one of them in our power, we have clues that could help the investigation!"

Luciano pulled out the letter from Opiskella Univerity. Continuing:

CYNFELI "I do not know what checkered past you may have with the law, but we have none. It is the duty of citizens to obey the laws of their legitimate governments, and that goes doubly so for guests in another legitimate government's jurisdiction. If we run off, law enforcement will be entirely justified in assuming we were involved and, I should hope, would come after us with all means at their disposal. We should wait for the authorities to arrive, so that we can tell them exactly what happened, and try to... try to... try to get justice for our friend here, Dr. Elias!"

Luciano turned away, back towards the bed. Tears were welling in his eyes, but he would not give Mr. Anders the satisfaction, nor did he wish to lose his cool completely. Once he had regained control, he faced the group again, intending to continue lecturing until noticing for the first time the gashes on Professor Het's arms.

CYNFELI "Professor Het, you're bleeding! Here, we need to get that patched up."

He walked over to his colleague with considerable concern.
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Fanaglia
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Posts: 4061
Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:39 pm

In the overwhelming commotion, Mireille soon found herself gripped tightly by the shoulders and thrust roughly away from the man to whom she'd turned for protection, a wild, crazed look in his eye. She stumbled when he released her and, just then, the door splintered and fell in on itself. But this was not the end of the commotion, oh no! She spied several dark shapes moving about within the room as some of the men in her group rushed in. The cacophany rose, but Mireille could hardly hear anything anymore -- the explosion of sound, the gunshots seemed a world away. But that smell -- that smell washed over her in a wave once the barrier of the door had been removed. That smell followed her. Enveloped her.

She felt herself falling, falling. A great pressure, crushing her body. She was no longer in the grimy hotel. She was in her home. Breakfast was cooking, but it didn't smell like bacon or eggs. It was that smell. She saw her father, seated at the dining table, his back to her. As she crawled towards him (for she found she could not stand), she could hear the scrrrap scrrrap of her hands and knees sticking to the floor with each motion. Outside, she could hear distant thunder, muffled cries and the shouting of men, but, in the windows, she could see no clouds -- only blackness. She reached out -- her father's elbow was much farther from her than it appeared to be, but she reached, reached. When her fingers made contact with the coarse linen of his shirt, it felt cold to the touch and as stiff as stone.

Slowly, he began to turn to face her. Mireille recoiled in horror when she once again saw his face, or what was left of it. Dried blood caked the lower quarter like a grisly beard on his shattered jaw, which hung loosely from the right side as the left swung open, no longer attached to his cheek, exposing the shattered teeth of the skeletal remains of his upper jaw. His tongue was visible through the aperture, flopping around lazily inside its unhinged home, trying to form words, but produced no sound. A noise came from outside and he turned his head, exposing the gory crater from which the bullet departed from his thoughts, leaving behind a lumpy, gray mess of bone, brain, and blood.

Turning back to once again face her, he then rose from his seat and gripped her roughly; she could not protest as he lifted her to her feet and half-led, half-dragged her through the door to the next room. The smell. The smell grew ever-more unbearable. She gripped his hand more tightly as they proceeded and she looked to see his response to what he'd brought her to see, to ponder what was in his mind. Except, when she looked at him, she no longer saw the face of her father, but that of Jackson Elias. Blood coursed down his pale countenance from some otherworldly symbol scratched -- no, carved -- into his brow; his jaw was slack, his eyes unfocused and unmoving. He moved his other hand, which he had been holding at his abdomen, to grasp her by the shoulder; when he did so, the grey, bloody curls of his innards tumbled out onto the floor with a sickening slop.

Mireille could hear a woman screaming, somewhere far off. She only realized it was herself when she also realized she was out of breath. The real world came flooding back. The bodies of two, strangely-dressed men clad in horrific masks, one of them clearly dead. The panting men in her "family" collecting themselves after their brawl. Professor Raminotto eyeing her with a look of worry, or pity, or both. And, worst of all, her old friend, mangled and mutilated, dead and forever gone on the bed. Her stomach turned. The room spun. She tried to hold it back, but could not help but to double over and retch on the sticky, black floor.

"Oh God," she heard the professor utter in horror. She felt his hands on her once more, this time far gentler and with much more care, as he escorted her and Anders' young cousin back out to the grimy hallway, out of sight of...it. As she slumped down on the floor and brought her head to her knees, he asked softly for the two women to wait there and assured them that he would be right back.

Jackson Elias...Gone...Dead...Jackson...Mireille did as the professor asked and waited there as she sobbed quietly into her knees.
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The Biosyn
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Founded: Jul 09, 2015
Father Knows Best State

Postby The Biosyn » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:56 pm

CYNFELI "I do not know what checkered past you may have with the law, but we have none. It is the duty of citizens to obey the laws of their legitimate governments, and that goes doubly so for guests in another legitimate government's jurisdiction. If we run off, law enforcement will be entirely justified in assuming we were involved and, I should hope, would come after us with all means at their disposal. We should wait for the authorities to arrive, so that we can tell them exactly what happened, and try to... try to... try to get justice for our friend here, Dr. Elias!" Luciano said to Anders, taking a moment to compose himself, before walking to where Het was giving himself first aid, best as he could with a single hand. ”Professor Het, you're bleeding! Here, we need to get that patched up.”

Anders gave a harsh laugh at the thought that justice for Elias would come from waiting for the police. CYNFELI“What are we going to tell the police? Elias was dead before we got here, and these Parthans? One has escaped, that one is dying,” he said, pointing at the one lying on the floor, where Higa was trying to address the bleeding wounds. “and the third is dead, by my hand in order to save this one, your friend." Anders gestured to Het. "We will find no justice for Jackson if we wait for the police. At least none swift enough.” He finished, his voice thick with emotion as he said the first name of his friend.

He walked over the where the still live Parthan was laying upon the floor, and knelt on one knee, watching the administrations of Higa to keep the Parthan breathing. Higa gave Anders a glance as he worked, and said, CYNFELI“Anders... nice work with the pistol whip, we should nurse his wound and bring him with us. He could be instrumental to pursuing our multiple leads.”

He continued working for a few moments in silence, whether in concentration on the first aid or in collecting his thoughts and words before speaking, those around him couldn’t tell.

CYNFELI”Professor...” he said, addressing Luciano. “I fear we're at a bit of an odd here. I have been open at what I found, even if I do trust some of you half as well as I should like. Whispering secrecies and the whatnot will get us nowhere, especially in the passing of a dear friend here. Let us remember; enemies we are not. Enemies are dead, one, unconscious another and a third fled. Please, we... should do all we can to share what we have found: for Elias' mission."

CYNFELI"Be that as it may, I fear we must make haste. I do not feel comfortable remaining here for the authorities, Professor Luciano. You are of their conceptions of civilised and normal; I am but Korukkan. Concessions aside, I have seen how my countrymen are treated in this city. I do not doubt the police-men are men of good virtue, I fear that to them I am not.”

Anders tilted his head as Higa spoke before speaking up. CYNFELI“You may be right, but not now. In fact, this brings up yet another reason we could, and should, leave: the police will not suspect any of you who arrived today. But they will not be happy to see that." He gestured at the body of Elias. "They thought they caught the man responsible four months ago. The bodies stopped turning up, we all thought they had. But..... it seems they were wrong.”

Luciano gave a light scoff. CYNFELI“Then if none of us are to be suspected, why should we flee? The Parthan must have valuable information that the police will need for their investigation.”

Anders cut in. CYNFELI“I said none of you would be suspect. That still leaves my cousin, my friend, and me….. Especially me, though I’ve never had a bad run-in with the police. And I really don’t think the police will get anything useful out of the Parthan, for you think of them.”

CYNFELI“That's an interesting point you raise, Mr. Anders. You say you want justice for Dr. Elias, and perhaps you do... but your impulses seem to be working contrary to that end. This…. This barbaric assassination that we have discovered, surely the police will be able to get to the bottom of it. What else can we do? What information will this fellow tell us that the police wouldn't also get out of him? Do you think we can solve this better than the local authorities? It could have been anything!”

Luciano began pacing back and forth, unaware that he was speaking louder and faster with each word.

CYNFELI“It could have been one of the countless religious cults Elias has exposed through the years, looking to get even. Maybe even one connected with whatever it is -- was rather, that Elias wanted us all here for in the first place? Alternatively, it could have been some local crime syndicate -- it cannot be denied that this venue is not befitting a famed author like him, and it may be his spending outstripped his income. Who knows whether he fell into the wrong crowd as a result? What have we walked into?”

The Rothian professor became more and more agitated, gesticulating wildly as he continued to expound different theories, each one ramping up his feelings of paranoia in a self-propagating feedback loop. Anders stood from where he was kneeling, drawing the attention of the professor.

CYNFELI“And you!” He nearly yelled, pointing at Anders, accusingly. “You and your machine-gun toting friend! For all we know, you were a part of this! This whole series of events could all have been part of a clever plot to cover up your own roles in the assassination of Jackson Elias! Perhaps you had some personal score to settle with him, hired these Parthans, and arranged to barge in on them shortly after the deed was done. Then you found us at the aerodrome, convinced us to hire you, and then brought us here, thus not only using us to secure an iron-clad alibis, but also to gain a convenient means to kill your accomplices and get rid of anyone that could implicate you! Airtight alibis and a clean getaway, the perfect crime!”

At that, Anders was taken aback. Such an accusation, he hadn’t seen it coming. His face clouded as the professor finished speaking before angrily interjecting. CYNFELI“Whatever it is you might think of me, Professor, I would never have been part of any attempt to kill my friend.”

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Yasuragi
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Founded: Jun 24, 2013
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Yasuragi » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:38 pm

Following Anders’ angry outburst in Cynfeli, he moved out of the room - although judging from his posture, he would have stormed out, had there only been enough space and not so much debris blocking his way. Once in the hallway, he’d exchange a few words with Egil and Sevia, before turning to the rest of the party. The bandaged Het, the sobbing Mireille. The exasperated and panicky Luciano. The cool and collected Khadari. One by one, they’d be collected, before gathering in a huddle to discuss next steps - which took only a few seconds. Pushed by Anders’ eagerness to leave before the police arrived, as well as Mireille’s shock and Het’s weariness, they decided to return to the hotel, leaving Luciano behind to arrange things with the police. Anders and Egil could check on him once the rest of the party had returned safely to their rooms, after all.

The Korukkan paused for a moment to exchange a few last words with the exasperated Rothian, before following the rest of the party as they hastily stumbled through the hotel down a different stairway. Ducking out into the the reception area - although it was barely worth the name, they noticed the receptionist was not there, having presumably gone up with the beat cops heading for the room. Outside, the group quickly bundled themselves into the carriages, the chill of the environment now minimal compared to the somberness of their hearts. Jackson Elias….dead. The horrific scene played over and over in their heads like the new motion pictures. The soulless gaze of Elias, the splayed limbs, the pale loops and fleshy lumps that were draped over the fractured ribs…. It was enough to turn the heart of even the most hardened veteran.

A bullet meant death, true, but it was an impersonal death. The business of war paled in comparison to the savagery of the scene they had just seen. That.. that had been personal, deeply personal and passionate.

Anders quietly muttered to the coachmen, and the two carriages trotted off into the foggy mists, heading back to their hotel. As their carriages rattled their way through the streets, they could hear the faint - but shrill - screech of a beat cop’s whistle, sounding over and over again. Soon, Anders could tell them, the scene would be full of Klippenstaad’s finest….or not-so finest. With such a scandalous and bloody crime, he could tell them, there would be hordes of onlookers too. And where there were so many eyes, and such shock at the brutal scene, there would soon follow reporters, eager to make a living and a story out of a new bloodthirsty criminal that stalked the shadowy night-time streets of Varenhold’s capital.

At least, until they found out that the latest victim was one of their own. Then, even the most hardened of journalists would get an extra little glint in their eye, and their pencils would press a little more strongly on their foolscap pads. The glee and excitement at a potential new scoop and a little more money in the pocket would fade, replaced by a more subdued sense of anger and fear. Many a bar would be full of Elias’ people the next day, lifting a shot to one of their greats -- after they turned in their stories first, of course.

Elias would expect nothing less.

The newspapers the next day would cover Elias’ murder, to a one. The normally gossip-filled Herald and Tribune would splash it across their front pages -- ‘Author Brutally Murdered’ or ‘Vicious Bloodthirsty Murderer Loose?’ -- while the more staid Times and Globe would publish considered introspectives, often written by colleagues of Elias, who had known him well. It would not be long before foreign-language newspapers, the Zeitung or the Varenico, would publish stories of their own, spreading the news of Elias’ death around the world.

Of course, the group would learn more tidbits they hadn’t been aware of after consulting the morning papers - if they could bring themselves to do so, of course. Drinking a steaming cup of tea, or coffee, or even saro, anyone who read the papers would learn that a deep-seated fear of Klippenstaad’s citizens had come to pass - the murders had begun again. Oh yes; there had been similar murders in the past year, over two dozen of them. The press-sheets had dubbed the perpetuator the “Bedtime Ripper” for how all of the victims had all been found in the morning or late at night in their bedrooms, brutally slaughtered and with ‘much bloodshed’. Although the papers did not go into any further detail, the similarities between their imagery and the scene at the hotel could not be denied.

However, the mystery deepened; for the past four months, there had been no murders of that sort whatsoever, ever since the police had arrested a man - Harkan Adams. A poor stevedore, Harkan had seemed bewildered by the turn of events leading to his arrest and appearance in court. He did not even offer a single word in his defense as the court and judge found him guilty, and sentenced him to death by electrocution - a new method of execution in Varenhold. A few newspapers and temples had protested, arguing that the man was mentally incapable and unwell, but the results had been unmistakable. Harkan Adams was the Bedtime Ripper. How else could one explain the lack of murders since he was arrested, ‘til now?

Some newspapers castigated the police, particularly a 'Leutnant' Poole of the Homicide Squad, for not investigating further, and called for Adams’ case to be retried. Others maintained that Adams was the true killer, and this was solely the act of a copy-cat. Still others maintained that Elias had been murdered by an elaborate cover-up posed to look like the gruesome murders of the past year, and one final tabloid rag tried to claim that Elias had been murdered by a hit-squad hired by Rothian nobles.

It was clear that the newspapers would be of little help for now - the assembled journalists of Klippenstaad were equally at a loss. If they could be believed, so too were the police.




Assembling in their common room again, after each had had time to recover in their own way, the group looked over their paltry collection of clues. One by one, each of them would pass what they had found to Mireille, who would solemnly lay them out on the table for consideration by the entire group. By the end, they were left with a small disheveled heap of assorted scraps, cards, and photos in the middle. A few moments passed as Mireille situated herself at the head of the table, a sheaf of papers and a pencil in hand, ready to note down the group’s comments as they came forth.

The first would be Higa. Gently touching the new photo of the gleaming new yacht sailing amidst Korukkan ships, he would consider it for a few seconds before looking up. “This looks like Jiaoying. I recognize the new Port Harbor tower in the background there. It’s an old town, currently being torn down and replaced by a new planned city by the Protector. A yacht like that,” he shook his head, “would certainly stand out.” He moved on to the empty matchbook, frowning a bit as he read the Korukkan characters stamped in gold on the outside. “The Stumbling Tiger, 14 Lantern Street, Jiaoying. Elias was in Jiaoying recently? Why bother keeping the matchbook for so long…” He trailed off, tracing the orange cover of the matchbook with a finger.

Following almost immediately after him would be Anders, barely pausing from translating Higa’s words into Drachenspreche before switching back into Cynfeli. “The university.. Opiskella.. That’s relatively close. I don’t know what Jackson was looking for, but… their collection is immense. Trying to find things ourselves would be difficult. Perhaps we could reach out to this woman? See what Jackson was looking for?” He cleared his throat as Mireille noted down his words carefully. “As for Emerson Imports… erhm, it’s by the ports. I’m not familiar with it, but I spoke to a few people last night. It’s run by a...Parthan fellow, Mr. N’kwane - the name that’s written on the back there. Nothing sketchy according to my friends, though, just a shabby shop.”

The Rothian business card was also considered carefully by the group, and although they discussed many reasons why Jackson might have been consulting with an auction house, they found all the explanations to be rather hollow. None of it seemed to explain the deep passion with which the crime had been committed. An upscale Rothian auction house would hardly brutally murder a reporter halfway around the world…. would it?

A few other scraps they had picked up were similarly discussed and debated at length, with some members convinced they held the key to unlocking Jackson’s murder, and others equally convinced they were utterly useless. As the party unraveled around the table, people splintering into small groups to discuss at length with each other, Mireille looked down at the paper in front of her, covered with notes and comments. The Parthan murderers, the innocuous Parthan business by the Klippenstaad docks, the murder of the Carlyle Expedition at the hands of Parthans…. Quite a bit pointed to something happening in the dark depths of that strange continent. And somehow, whatever had happened there, in the wilds, had found its way back here, in the concrete jungle of Klippenstaad, where the expedition had begun. And yet, Mireille could not help but wonder -- had the darkness that seemed to haunt the expedition followed it back to Varenhold….or had it been here all along, cultivating in the hearts of the Parthan stevedores and porters and shiphands that thronged the port-side streets of the Varen capital?

And yet, the random stray clues - why had Jackson visited the Clockwork Empire recently? He had expressed an interest in the past, but the expedition had never even come within 500 miles of Tiantian. The auction house in Rothia… she had even less idea of that. Perhaps artifacts uncovered by the Carlyle expedition? Had Jackson found a valuable clue there? Was it worth traveling all the way to Rothia as yet?

So many questions. So few answers. She gazed around the room at her ‘family’, this unlikely group of people that had assembled to answer Jackson’s call - and were now bound by the horror they had witnessed together. Out of the depths of her confusion and muddled thoughts swam two utter certainties, which Mireille fixated on with her usual determination, touched with a tinge of stress-induced anxiety. First; she needed more information on Jackson’s notes and movements in the past few months. Perhaps, armed with that knowledge, she could make better sense of these clues, and piece together an approximation of her friend’s last acts on this Earth. Johann Kinder, Jackson’s publisher, would be of great help here - and she had a meeting scheduled with him, after all.

Secondly, they needed direction. Without her intervention, their group - her ‘family’ - would split and splinter, each of them disappearing to their own ends and places. Perhaps some would pursue the mystery of Jackson’s death, perhaps not. Some might return home in sorrow and sadness, the absence of their friend weighing down their heart until they recovered, in due time. She needed to take action, to unite the group, and to point them in a single direction, one that would provide a clear and decisive course of action. But which one? There were so many options…




Beforehand, Mireille would make - or receive, depending on her mental state and other activities - a call from Johann Kinder. The man’s voice, a deep and reassuring baritone, would come through the telephone line clearly and easily. He would commiserate with her, their shared sorrow bringing them together despite their physical separation. More importantly, he would not press her for the details of Elias’ death; Kinder had his own sources, and Mireille could tell that the man knew all-too-well what had befallen his friend. Kinder picked his words with great care, his mannerisms overly cautious, as he moved on to the next topic, his real reason for calling.

Elias’ funeral was to be held the next day, the 19th. While Kinder had wanted to delay until the 24th, for the eclipse, the law forbade him from doing so. The humorous irony of burying their friend, who had devoted his life to combating superstition, under one of the most superstitious astronomical signs would have driven Jackson batty, he confided in Mireille. Still, the law was the law. He had already met with the priest, but of course he would understand if Mireille would not attend; the horrors of yesterday, the stresses of traveling… he trailed off awkwardly, waiting for her reply.

After she gave it, he picked up where he had left off, his voice turning brisker. Elias’ will was to be read the afternoon of the funeral as well, in Kinder’s office. Being the executor of it, Kinder had already examined it initially, and Mireille had been named -- “in a certain manner” Kinder said, although he refused to elaborate. As a result, he wanted her to attend, again solely if she felt well enough to do so... Or perhaps a representative in her place.




LUCIANO

Luciano’s night had certainly not settled his nerves whatsoever. The idea of remaining in Elias’ room, with the man’s sightless eyes seemingly following him wherever he paced was quite unnerving. Still, though, he couldn’t leave - the Klippenstaad police officer standing in the doorway had seen to that. Nor could he sit, not that there was furniture left to sit on - save for the few dirty bureaus and the….deeply blood-soaked bed. That too led to a shout from the police officer, who had apparently decided that volume was the only way to bridge the communication barrier between them.

Things had moved quite quickly after Higa and the rest had left. The police officer had burst into the room, the doorman on his heels, only to be brought up short by the sight of the dead corpse and the two unconscious and dead Parthans. The scene and smells had proved too much for the doorman - a puddle of vomit in the hallway proved that much. The beat cop had been of hardier stock, though, with multiple scars on his face and hands indicating a history of combat. Attempts to communicate had been in vain, though -- every time Luciano tried to speak, the cop only shook his head, an angry scowl creasing his face. Attempts to leave would earn him a sharp prod with the baton he wielded, and attempts to search or sit would lead to further shouting from the Varen.

It was not long before additional policemen showed up, clambering up the stairwell and through the hallway with their heavy boots announcing them well in advance. One by one, they’d peek into the room, blanch, and then retreat to murmur amongst themselves in Varen. A few words would be discernible to Luciano -- ‘blood’, ‘Lieutenant’, ‘another’, and ‘wrong’. He also picked up two names -- Robson and Poole. One or two of them would attempt to speak to him, gabbling quickly in Varen, and then repeating themselves more slowly and with greater exaggeration, before giving up and resorting to the previous strategy of shouting and prodding.

Luciano only had to wait about half an hour before he could hear a car hissing and wheezing up the street in front of the hotel. A few seconds later, the clattering sound of more boots announced the presence of a new policeman - but this one was dressed differently, and carried himself differently, as well. A grey trench coat covered a normal-looking business suit, for one, instead of the dark blue uniforms of the beat cops. For another, he didn’t carry a heavy baton, but instead had a leather-clad holster on his hip. For a third, he spoke Drachenspreche, albeit with a bit of an accent - but still more than enough to be heard.

“Lieutenant Martin Poole of the Klippenstaad Homicide Squad,” he said, speaking casually as he glanced around the room, taking in the scene with barely more than additionally pursed lips. “Identify yourself, please, and explain what happened here. If you wish to have an advocate with you at this time, we can summon one. I won’t let you leave here,” he finished examining the room without moving from the doorway, his grey eyes fixating on Luciano again, “without explaining why exactly my officers found you a foot away from two,” his eyes flickered down to the unconscious Parthan, “two and a half corpses. And without a drop of blood on you, too. Quite a feat.”

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Fanaglia
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Founded: Nov 09, 2009
Capitalizt

Postby Fanaglia » Mon Nov 26, 2018 8:58 pm

A faint but warm light filtered in from behind the shade drawn over the window; canaries sang their cheery morning songs in the branches and great knots of the banyan trees outside the inn. The Cynfel sun was not all that warmed her bed; Mireille let out a soft sigh and smiled when she heard his little snore. Deep, yet soft and smooth. She turned on her side and watched his Adam's apple bob up and down with each breath beneath his prominent, stubbled chin. Up and down.

When he did not stir when she nuzzled up against his shoulder, she reached across his waist under the thin sheet to pull herself close to him. But, instead of the firm abdomen she was accustomed to, she felt something warm. Something soft. Something sickening...sticky. Grimacing in concern and confusion, she withdrew the sheet and recoiled in horror when she saw her hand in the midst of the pale, twisted loops of Jackson's innards in a soup of sticky blood and flesh. She sat bolt upright, clutching the sheet to her chest, barely stifling a scream.

Then he turned to face her, his face not as she had seen it mere moments before, but unnaturally contorted in agony, eyes rolled back, and blood pouring from that symbol carved deep into the skin of his brow. He rolled over, his intestines spilling out onto the bed like hideous, red cottage cheese as he reached out towards her with his twisted, mangled hand, baring his broken, bloody, and missing nails.

Mireille moved across the bed in horror, trying to avoid the touch of the man whose touch she once so loved. Closer, closer he came; farther, farther she scrambled, never seeming to put any more distance between them. Farther still, until she found herself falling, falling from the edge of the bed.




She hit the ground with a thud and saw a flash of white light when her head struck the floorboards. Stifling another scream, she wiped tears from her eyes with one hand as she clutched the back of her head with the other. The room was cold. There were no canaries singing beyond the shade over the window. She knew there were no banyan trees, either, for they would never grow in the harsh, frigid climate of Klippenstaad. She knew as well that the bed from which she'd fallen would be empty, but she still felt compelled to check to be sure. Pulling herself up, she saw that, yes, apart from some rumpled and twisted bed sheets, there was nothing there. With a groan, she lowered herself back down to the floor and lay there on her back, staring at the ceiling.

Then came a knock at the door and a muffled voice from the other side. "Madam, are you all right?" It was Ragna Olsdatter, the chaperone assigned to her by the hotel.

"Y-Yes, Ms. Olsdatter. I just fell out of bed."

"Another nightmare, madam? Shall I come in?"

"No. No thank you. I'll be fine. What time is it?"

"It is about half past ten, Madam. Can I get you anything?"

"I suppose it would be too much to ask for a glass of orange juice?"

"Afraid so, madam."

"How about a cup of black coffee? And perhaps a bag of ice?"

"My pleasure, madam. Anything else?"

"No, thank you, Ms. Olsdatter."

"Of course, madam. I shall return shortly." There was a faint shuffle from outside and Mireille knew she had gone. She rubbed her eyes once more and shuffled groggily to the mirror, frowning at her reflection. She'd hardly slept a wink in the last two days and had been keeping to herself, not feeling up for conversation with the rest of her "family." This, however, meant that she was left largely alone with her thoughts, her memories, and the horrors she'd borne witness to. But today was the day -- the day she had suggested they come together again, after having some time to process what they'd seen and read the papers, to try to figure things out.

As she laid her clothes for the day out on the bed, Ms. Olsdatter returned with the ice for her head and, more importantly, with the coffee. She was going to need it.




Mireille was last to arrive in the common room; the rest of her "family" was seated in plush sofas drawn around a large, low table beside the fireplace. The fire cast a somber glow over their tired-looking faces as they watched her approach the table, where they had reserved her a seat at the head of the table. This meeting was her idea, after all; the last two days had been torture, not only from the memory of that grisly sight, but from the feeling of utter uselessness she felt. Maybe if she hadn't absolutely lost her head, she could have seen something, found something that could have provided her with some answers. Now, all she could do was hope one of the others had found something of use. She produced a pencil and paper as her "family" turned over any possible evidence they had collected.

Mr. Higa passed her a photograph of a yacht, very much out of place back in his native empire, and a matchbook with an address, also in Jiaoying. Anders was next to speak, informing her that the library Jackson had visited was quite close and that he had done some research on the import company, but apart from its location, had discovered little else of use. There was also the odd appearance of the Rothian auction house's business card, as well as the whispers in the papers of other murders. And who could forget the whole reason any of them were there in the first place -- what on earth ever happened to the Carlyle Expedition?

While her associates shuffled about and chatted amongst themselves, Mireille gathered her papers and her pencil and went to the concierge. Maybe Jackson's publisher would know what to do? "Would you mind calling a friend for me, sil vous plait?"

"Of course, madam. Whom shall I ring for you?"

"Mr. Johann Kinder."

While he was unfortunately no better-informed than they she and her "family" about their mutual friend's murder and he was careful not to give any explicit advice, it was nice to hear Kinder's voice again; it had been years since they had last spoken. His cool, calm voice reassured and comforted her as they spoke of old times and of Jackson. Even when speaking about their friend's funeral, which was, per Varenholt law, to be held quite promptly, they were able to exchange jokes about how amusing he would have found it if they had let them bury him five days later, during the solar eclipse. Mireille chuckled along with him, but found herself wiping a tear from her eye at the same time. A sniffle from the other side of the line told her that Mr. Kinder was feeling much the same. "I have already met with the priest," he told her, "but of course I would understand if you aren't up for attending..."

"I'll be there," she assured him.

"Very well; I shall see you there," he replied. He then added, in a more hurried, business-like tone, "Elias’ will, of course, will be read the afternoon of the funeral as well, in my office. I have already examined it and I must inform you that you have been named in a certain manner."

"A certain manner?"

"Yes, a certain manner. I would quite prefer if you could attend the reading in person, but, again, you may send a representative if you feel unable to attend."

"Johann. I'll be there. Don't worry. Jackson was my friend, and yours. We owe it to him to try to figure this out."

"Very well, Miss Delatte. I shall see you tomorrow morning. Good day, and please pass along my best wishes to the rest of your team."

"I shall. And a good day to you, too, Mr. Kinder."

She returned the receiver to the concierge and made her way back to the table by the fire, just as the others seemed about ready to dissolve their meeting. "Pardon my absence, my friends. I have just been on the telephone with Mr. Johann Kinder, our friend's publisher. He wishes us all well and hopes to see us all at the funeral tomorrow morning. In the mean time, we have one day to try to learn what we can. We owe it to Elias. I know they are not much to go on, but we have two leads here in Klippenstaad; I think they're worth looking into. Anders, you've already done some digging on this import company by the docks and you're familiar with the area; your friend here," she said, gesturing towards Egil, "can obviously handle himself in a fight if that becomes necessary. Why don't the two of you and Dr. Z. go down there together and speak to this N'kwane fellow and see what you can learn?" She spoke with as much authority as she could muster and hoped that the two rough characters wouldn't take offense; she was also careful to include Dr. Z. to ensure there was someone in the group whom she could trust. "I'll go to the university with Professor Raminotto and Mr. Higa to see if we can find this Miriam Atwright; maybe she can tell us what Elias was researching." She looked to the other members of her "family" assembled around her, apparently awaiting instruction. "The rest of you...you can either go to the docks with Anders, follow me to the university, or remain here and keep an eye on things...I feel we cannot be careful enough after what we've seen."
Last edited by Fanaglia on Mon Nov 26, 2018 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Liecthenbourg
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Posts: 12478
Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Liecthenbourg » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:05 am

Higa had entered his room with a slump. He hung his sword on a rack on the desk he was temporarily calling his own and sat down on a cushioned chair. He raised his feet onto the desk, reclining back and reaching into one of the inner pockets of his coat. He drew out a cigarette from its pack and whipped forth his stylised lighter. He lit the cigarette and inhaled, relaxing. As much as one could relax.

He had tried to console Mireille on their journey back, but it was clear she did not want to speak. And with Professor Luciano gone, it was with a fair few he had the pleasure of even any ounce of conversation. So he had idly conversed with Anders, if the man had wished, about the events of the day. Their next moves. It was only a soft smile and odd hug once Mireille got off: "We'll finish what he began."

Elias' death had hit her the most, of course. Yet Higa himself felt resoundingly empty: he had so many questions, so much to talk about and to discuss. His mental vision retraced itself back to the site on the bed and in shock he almost fell off of the chair.

He shook his head, angrily, and quickly finished off the rest of the cigarette before pressing the butt into an ash-tray. He swiveled on his seat, grabbing his type-writer out of his desk and beginning to write.

It felt wrong, but this was how he always composed his feelings. The methodical click and clack from the keys pressing against the paper, the ding from the carriage reaching the end of the paper and the beautiful whizz of the resetting of the device.

'In Memoriam', it began, the account of the death of Jackson Elias that he would send to his Korukkan Journalist Union. He finished it off with a fabrication, a falsity: 'Mr. Elias is survived by his loving family and his majestic works.' He quickly reached into one of his books -- the 'Way of Terror', his personal favourite -- and flicked rapidly to the section about the author.

There it was, in all its flattering glory. A picture of Jackson. He sighed, defeated, and reached for a pair of scissors. He snipped and snipped, carefully cutting out the photo from its paper prison.

And then he was done, opening up an envelope and gently folding the type'd documents and the photograph inside. Yet he would do it not today. He would need to re-read it, re-think the words and the sentences. And he would do that under a fresh pair of eyes on the morrow.

For now he would shower, retreat to the restaurant in the hotel and buy some dinner, and retire for the evening.




"I'll have... hmm, just... a coffee and a sandwich: I don't mind which: as long as you remove the tomatoes... not a fan." he said in Cynfeli to the cafe staff. Luckily, they understood, and before he knew it he was sat alone in this quaint cafe not too far from the hotel. He was... alone, but he enjoyed it. It allowed him to compose his thoughts.

As he awaited for the service he flicked open the envelope he had sealed the night before. It hadn't been sealed shut, so it didn't prove too difficult to reach in and grab the first draft of the obituary from it. He read across it intently, carefully, underlining the spelling mistakes and mis-translations he had in his mind from the dialect of Korukkan he was so used to.

He needed to conform and write to the Imperial standard, and that he would do.

Yet something was missing, impactful content. Truth in some of the words. His ending, whilst heartful, wasn't what he truly wanted. He needed more within, more heart and feeling within, more.... meaning. He mentally scolded himself: a friend has just died! And indeed, this was how he would honour him.

"This wont do..." he uttered to himself as he underlined 'was unjustly killed' and rewrote it to 'ferociously and savagely murdered in his quest for the truth.'

One of the waitresses handed down his coffee and sandwich. He removed the top piece of toasted bread, revealing the lovely sliced pieces of roasted chicken within. They were served on lettuce, with fine pieces of cheese and other such vegetables adorning it. Slicing the roll in two, he began to tuck in.

Before long he had paid, put his hat on once more and entered the hotel he was residing in. It was here, in the lobby, as he stood around in his own company that he realised what it was that he required.

He entered the elevator, those metallic contraptions, and paced nervously. He couldn't do it. It was too cruel, to soon. But she would understand, would she not? She would... perhaps like a way to express herself in these hard times...

And before he knew it, his hand was knocking on her door.

He knocked on Mireille's door, holding his trilby at his chest as he awaited for the woman to open. If she was going to, that is. Once she had done so, Higa bowed at her. "Mireille." was all he said, tip-toeing around the matter at hand.

"I have... a request." He would finally say. "I've... I've written an obituary, for the Korukkan papers, and I was wondering if you'd... you'd be willing to give me a statement; of raw feeling and emotion, something we can use to remember him by... legitimacy, honest passion."

With her contribution secured and the fleeting remarks of "If you need someone to speak to...", Higa was off to retype his draft and to post it back to the Journalist Union in the Clockwork Empire. He felt better. He felt... as if he was doing his familial duty. He smiled for the first time in two days.



Mireille had seemed more accomplished and in control today. Which was good.

She was in the middle of her organisation, when Higa, who had been relatively quiet since explaining the Jiaoying yacht and the matchbook to the group, noted she had mentioned him again.

"I'll go to the university with Professor Raminotto and Mr. Higa to see if we can find this Miriam Atwright; maybe she can tell us what Elias was researching."

"A sound idea." he quickly added in between her breaths. He and Luciano had gotten along well, as had he and Mireille. It would be quite the jaunt, the three of them. But he couldn't help but feel a niggling feeling in the back of his mind, and once she had finished speaking Higa quickly moved to try to steer the conversation.

"Whilst we do cover more ground this way: we must be... cautious. Is this wise? We have hostility to what we seek to uncover: enemies of Elias are certainly enemies of ours. Splitting up seems to be making any potential job easier for them. We must remember, one fled, and likely knows that we know something..."
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