Welcome to No Books of Men! We are a modern alternate history board set in a magical school nestled in the Columbiana Valley of the Rocky Mountains. Students of the Collegium Illustrata Columbiana (commonly called simply The Academy) are free to explore their wildest imaginations in learning the mystic arts, so long as it does not jeopardize the ongoing Shadow War with the Exarchs. How will you live up to the legacies of Merlin?






darkkenchild is the Head Admin here at No Books. He enjoys long walks on the beach and debating the metaphysical underpinnings of reality, so any questions about your character , the plot of No Books, and/or how magic works on the site, please do not hesitate to ask him.

Squeeji is the head of “Human Resources” here at No Books, and responsible for pretty much everything related to our contact with the outside world. Advertising, orientation, and just about anything to do with bringing in new blood is in her wheelhouse.
  
Pages: (2) 1 2  ( Go to first unread post )
Add Reply
New Topic
New Poll

 The Long Dark Lunchtime of the Soul, Tag: Open
Crystal Wright
 Posted: Oct 20 2015, 04:06 PM
Quote
73
Herald
Rogue Psychopomp
Group Icon


Chrys needed to meet more people. She knew this and knew that it would help her maintain her Cover. She would gain a greater context for who she was now that she had a living human host, allowing her to better understand the emotions that seemed so foreign to her. It would help her co-workers get to know her and allow her to socialize more easily. Above all, it would help remind her why she had Fallen in the first place. Of course, there was a complication that all too often got in her way. She wasn't a Mage like so many of her co-workers. Sure, her Cover had provision built into it so she fit in. She was a known member of House Batini in good standing. She had, through trickery and clever Embed use, proven herself mystically capable as a Master. So far, everything was covered and she knew no one really suspected her of being anything other than Professor Crystal Wright. That was good...

...but it was also very lonely. Crystal was known to be insular and was rarely seen outside of her office or classroom. Indeed, despite being seen frequently walking through town as she traveled between her home and campus, she was rarely seen speaking to anyone beyond the bare minimum. She avoided social events on campus and in-town alike. Nothing seemed out of character for the sort of woman she was known to be, but she desperately wished to find someone to talk to about everything. She was the only Rogue Herald in the Valley as far as she knew and none knew her secret, not even the man who had driven her to Fall. The only others who even knew her kind existed were the other Heralds, who now hunted her either for revenge for her former master or to absorb her power into themselves to serve their own masters.

That was why she was, for the very first time, sitting at the food court. This was not the first time she had visited the place, though she did not require food for sustenance she enjoyed the act and it helped support her Cover as well. She always took her food to go and retreated to the comfort of her office however, and never lingered longer than was truly necessary. Now though? Now she sat alone at a table, slowly picking apart the Chinese food she had ordered and eating it one thing at a time. First a forkful of rice, then a piece of chicken, then a water chestnut, then more rice... Slowly and meticulously she ate her food and never allowed more than one kind of food enter at a time, though only the most astute observer would likely notice this fact. She seemed to be enjoying it however, as she smiled and closed her eyes for a fraction of a moment with each bite. She had chosen to eat here in hopes that someone would join her, but a large part of her was nervous at the concept and wondered if this was a foolish idea....
PM »Email
^
Elizabeth Wyatt
 Posted: Oct 24 2015, 02:24 AM
Quote
32
Thanatos
Creepy Curious Girl
Group Icon


The first half of Elizabeth’s day had been almost entirely unproductive. That was to say, she had meant to get some work done, but had instead spend the morning mired in mind numbing paperwork of all flavors. Dealing with belligerent ghosts wasn’t been half as bad as trying to navigate her father’s Medicaid paperwork. By the time lunch rolled around she was itching for a break: a change of scenery, someone to talk to, literally anything.

With any job, having a work-life balance was important. When your work involved a heavy helping of death magic, work-life balance was doubly important. Elizabeth had always made a point of getting out and about, talking to people, and making friends with the living. It helped to keep her grounded, extra insurance against becoming a megalomaniac. More than that though, she simply enjoyed company.

After ordering herself a runza and a lemonade, she scoured food court for a seat. There were a few empty tables, though if she had wanted to sit alone she could have ordered her food to go. As she surveyed the room her attention was caught by the presence of one of the faculty. After becoming a graduate student, Lissi had made it a priority to learn the names and faces of Columbiana’s faculty. She knew who Crystal was, but beyond the occasional glimpse from across the school grounds she rarely saw the woman.

In fact, Elizabeth had been to the food court countless times and had never once seen Crystal actually sitting down at a table. Her immediate assumptions were that the woman was either very busy or just shy. Either way, a friendly hello was in order.

“Hey, mind if I sit here?” Elizabeth asked, pointing to an empty seat across the table from Crystal. When she determined that her presence was not unwanted, she set her tray down and slipped into the chair. “Crystal, right?” She asked, seemingly unaware at her question was a homophone. “I don’t believe we’ve actually met before, my name is Lissi.” Elizabeth reached out over the table, extending an invitation for a handshake.
PM »
^
Crystal Wright
 Posted: Oct 25 2015, 03:46 PM
Quote
73
Herald
Rogue Psychopomp
Group Icon


It was during one of the moments when her eyes were closed that Elizabeth approached the table where Chrys sat. Thus Chrys was quite surprised when the young woman seemed to simply appear out of the crowd with a tray of food. Her eyes grew wide in the scattered seconds before her mind caught up to what she was seeing. Despite neurons and circuits firing at speeds approaching that of light and processing power that would be difficult to quantify, the sheer multitude of thoughts that erupted through the woman's head in those seconds were enough leave her looking shocked and incapable of speech.

Chrys's mouth moved for a moment before any sound actually came out, trying to force language to work as it was supposed to. "Y-yes. Yes. Fine. Good. That'd be fine!" The words were stuttered and forced, and the last few words were almost shouted. Chrys felt like such a fool and she winced at her own flubbed social greeting. Finally, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath trying to reactivate her Cover's subroutines and stop looking like a frightened child with a stutter. "Sorry..." An idea flashed through her head that could easily explain what had happened. "You spooked me there!" She smiled lightly, blushing as she did so. "I'm usually a bit more articulate than that, promise..." She laughed lightly and waved a hand at the seat across from her. "But yes. You go right ahead and have a seat." The timbre of her voice was still shaky, and she seemed to be compensating through her overly formal word choices, but Chrys deemed it to be within the acceptable range.

"I do believe you are right, Lissi. I do not think we've met before..." Chrys ran through her memories quickly and nodded. No, they had not. Though she did recall some glances back and forth at varying school functions, particularly in the preceding year, but they had never been introduced. "...and I'm sure would remember someone like you if I had seen you in one of my classes." The girl had the look of intelligence in her eyes, even compared to the typically above average intellects that was so common amongst magi. It was difficult to say for certain, but if Chrys were to hazard a guess she would presume Lissi was the sort who participated in class in such a way that professors remembered her. If so, the comment would likely create a positive response, and if not than it would be overlooked as pointless pleasantry. Either way, proper conversation that would distract from the faux pas of the greeting. "Either way, a pleasure to meet you Lissi." She grasped the hand, firm but not hard in an overpracticed fashion, and returned the shake with a bright smile.

For a moment, Chrys returned to her meal. Methodically picking up a few more differentiated pieces and eating them with a smile before glancing over at Lissi. She cocked her head to one side with an expression of curiosity and asked, "So, if you don't mind me asking..." She paused for the polite amount of time before continuing. "What department are you associated with? I recall seeing your face at a few faculty functions, so I would presume you are a TA of some sort...?" She hesitated, seeking through her mind for the right combination of words to convey her intended meaning. "I suppose what I'm asking dear, is what is it that you are studying here at Columbiana?"
PM »Email
^
Elizabeth Wyatt
 Posted: Oct 27 2015, 06:02 PM
Quote
32
Thanatos
Creepy Curious Girl
Group Icon


“Oh! I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to surprise you.” Elizabeth’s apology was entirely genuine, though mixed with a breezy laugh to help downplay Chrys’s embarrassment. It was not the first time she had startled someone with her sudden presence, and it was certainly not going to be the last. Statistically speaking though she probably had a lower scare-to-greeting ratio than the average Thanatos mage, both because she lacked the stereotypical eerie appearance and because she wasn’t terribly detached. Sitting down, she offered Crystal thanks and a reassuring smile.

Elizabeth wasn’t quite sure what Crystal meant when she said she would have remembered someone like Elizabeth in one of her classes. Given that Crystal didn’t have a reputation for meanness, Elizabeth trusted that it was a compliment. Generally speaking, Elizabeth had been well liked by her teachers throughout her academic career. She had always done her work, never shied from questions, and never intentionally caused trouble. In those subjects she particularly enjoyed, her earnest enthusiasm drew notice.

“Likewise.” She replied cheerfully. The handshake was mutually firm, neither crushing nor limp. When finished, Elizabeth withdrew her hand and started on her lunch.

“Not at all.” She reassured, encouraging Chrys’s question, whatever it was. “Ah, I’m a graduate student. I got my Bachelor’s in History with a minor in Necromancy.” In most situations Elizabeth expressed reluctance to acknowledge her necromancy in the company of strangers, but as Crystal was a member of Columbiana’s faculty, Lissi was operating under the assumption that she was unlikely to come unglued at the mention of an otherwise taboo subject.

“Right now I do a little bit of TA-ing for the History department, but my main focus my master’s thesis. I’ve been studying the impact of mundane and magically induced dementias on the formation of ghosts, and have been trying to determine to what extent frayed memories can be mended and retrieved post-mortem.” It was a fancy and roundabout way of saying she talked to ghosts and tried to extract useful information from them.

“And what about yourself? I can’t say that I've seen you around much.” If pressed, Elizabeth could have talked about herself and her studies all day long, but she was equally if not more interested in learning about the elusive professor. “You’re a Professor of…English?” She inquired uncertainly, trying to recall what she knew of Crystal. Very little came to mind, though it wasn't that surprising. Professors were often very busy people, and Elizabeth wasn't exactly swimming in free time either. As she waited for a response, Elizabeth nibbled at her runza.
PM »
^
Crystal Wright
 Posted: Oct 30 2015, 10:06 AM
Quote
73
Herald
Rogue Psychopomp
Group Icon


"Oh, don't worry about it..." Chrys waved a hand lightly at Elizabeth's apology. "Happens a lot. I tend to zone out a lot, especially when I'm reading. I don't think I could count how many times I've had a jump like that just in the last year or so..." She smiled. "So there's no need to apologize. It's happened before and it'll probably happen again." She laughed a little at that, but it was still tinged with a bit of anxiousness.

Instead of focusing on the unease she felt at the situation and instead watched Elizabeth thinking about something. It was only a moment's worth of consideration, but it was long enough for Chrys to munch on a few bites of her food and wonder what the girl was considering. It was probably something that Chrys had said, but what had set the girl to contemplation escaped Chrys. She wasn't entirely certain if it was something that someone should understand or not, so she didn't ask. A moment later though, the handshake was strong and confident, polite besides, so whatever it was didn't seem to be problematic for the girl, so Chrys quietly filed the event away in her memory and did not broach the subject further.

Chrys smiled lightly as Lissi encouraged her question, only to smile and nod at the response. "I thought you might be a Graduate. You don't have quite the timidity of an underclassmen..." Not to mention it was unlikely that Chrys would have seen the girl at school functions if she hadn't been a Grad. It fit in quite nicely with the conceptual model she was constructing in her mind as they conversed. "And in History? I dabble in that a bit myself, though mostly through the lens of my own expertise." She nodded and continued to listen as Lissi discussed her thesis.

"Hrm... Necromancy. A fascinating bit of the Art, isn't it? Old as mankind and reviled almost as long." She nodded a bit at that point. "Kind of ridiculous if you ask me. How is it not natural for people to wonder what comes after... Why wouldn't you ask the dead if you could?" Chrys tapped a finger on her lips for a moment. "My guess? Probably a result of some of the more modern religions fearing that their flocks would learn the wrong sorts of things about the afterlife." To say that Chrys didn't care much for the condemnations of the Abrahamic tradition, particularly regarding their opinion on 'demons,' would be a gross understatement. "But you're studying how said spirits linger in the first place? And Must be fascinating...."

She paused, almost seeming to have 'forgotten' that she had been asked a direct question and was only just remembering. "Hm? Oh, yes. English. I specialize in Classical Literature, personally. Though I dabble in most pre-Modern works, including Middle English works like Chaucer, I really focus in on the True Classics, such as Oedipus Rex and the Illiad." She smiled coyly. "I do delight in finding methods of reading between the lines of those works and glimpsing the past through the lens of those who lived those times. In fact, I'm currently working on an essay on identifying the difference between mortal fancy and true Magic in literary works..."
PM »Email
^
Elizabeth Wyatt
 Posted: Oct 31 2015, 04:43 PM
Quote
32
Thanatos
Creepy Curious Girl
Group Icon


Reassured, Elizabeth didn’t feel quite so bad about startling Crystal anymore. She did, however, make a mental note of Chrys’s skittishness and made a point of trying to avoid any greetings that might startle her in the future.

Trusting though she was, there was a visible brightening in Elizabeth’s expression when Crystal responded positively to mention of her studies. Instant brownie points. “I know, right?!?” Much as she felt the urge to launch into a series of complaints about people who just didn’t understand Necromancy, she restrained herself. A little bit.

“So many people think it’s disgusting, which I suppose I can understand. There’s a natural instinct for people to avoid dead and dying things, self preservation and all that. But the people who insist it’s evil. How do you even objectively gauge morality? It’s completely subjective! I mean, logically, how is talking to the souls of the departed worse than say, smiting someone with lightning or turning someone into a frog? No, it’s evil because a book or a church told them it was bad.” She shook her head with a soft ‘tsk’. “That’s not to say Necromancy doesn’t have its issues, but it’s a tool like any other sort of magic: Completely dependent on its wielder and never inherently bad.”

Finished with her rant, Elizabeth seemed to decide she might have come on a bit strong. “Sorry, I get a little carried away sometimes. I love my work. I’ve learned so much and met so many fascinating people, but when ninety percent of the population demonizes you and your work, it starts to wear you down.”

Lissi’s curiosity was once again piqued as Crystal described her specialization. “Oh, that sounds very interesting.” In both expression and tone it was clear that she was not being dismissive. “The Greeks were excellent storytellers, there’s something about the fallibility of their heroes and gods that is both appealing and satisfying. I don’t know who wrote it, but I’ve always been partial to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.” What wasn’t there to like about a mortal man who traveled to the underworld, persuaded the gods to let him bring his wife back from death, and then screwed it all up by not listening to instructions? The whole story was a wonderful illustration of human pride and imperfection.

Pausing for a beat, she took a bite of her lunch and a drink of her lemonade. “So, have you had any success so far? Any stories you’ve found to be more truth than fiction?”
PM »
^
Crystal Wright
 Posted: Nov 2 2015, 03:10 PM
Quote
73
Herald
Rogue Psychopomp
Group Icon


At Elizabeth's reaction, Chrys's eyes widened slightly in surprise but her face also cracked into a smile. It was rare to see young people so excited by their studies. Granted, it was less rare in Grad Students what with having dedicated their lives to their studies but still a delight to see it. She nodded in agreement as the girl continued, only stopping to add, "Yes. Mores and morals vary between generations or sub-cultures of a single culture, let alone between cultures. An example I know personally is the Greeks. While interacting with the dead was not necessarily condoned, it was certainly not seen as uncommon or inherently evil. Odysseus, Orpheus, and even Pythagoras were all well known as Necromancers and were seen as heroes and philosophers, not villains. I doubt you would find an Ancient Grecian who wouldn't deny that you can use Necromancy for evil, but they seemed to see it as no more dangerous than a pick or an axe in the wrong hands..." She paused, tapping her chin with her fork for a moment. "I suppose one could say the same about any magic really. Arguably, the Arts of Forces or Life are at least as dangerous as Death, if not even more so..."

"I mean. That's how I see it..." She blushed slightly, having let a tiny bit of her outsider perspective leak through. It wasn't enough to seem odd or out of place for the opinion of a Columbiana Professor, so her Cover was in no way jeopardized by her assessment, but letting her own opinions and thoughts drift out was always risky. On the other hand, the fact that her personal thoughts wouldn't seem out of place was a powerful sign of progress. Chrys wasn't human, but she was growing into her Cover and becoming more so by the day. It meant her connections to humanity were growing stronger, rooting her more firmly in this Reality and making it harder for the City to find her... "Don't apologize. You're not the only one who got worked up there..." She laughed lightly, a bit embarassed by getting carried off by the topic herself.

"But, yes, it is quite engaging to study the works of the Ancients. Delightful works of beauty and art hinting at a Golden Age of Humanity, a time when things were simpler but so much more potent than our current world. A place where Gods spoke to mankind and Heroes could walk in the open without fear of the Scourge or the torches of the Inquisition. Magic was as real as water or air..." She trailed off, sounding faintly wistful. Now this? This was not Chrys. This was Crystal. Crystal was fascinated by how things were before the Sleepers had turned against Magic and the world had become a greyer place. Chrys knew better. The "Golden Age" was no paradise, but quite the opposite. "It was a wonderful time to be alive, I'm sure..." She sighed before nodding. "Oh, yes. From what I have been able to ascertain, using a combination of scrying and careful research I have found that Ovid?" She paused, looking for a glimpse of recognition from Elizabeth, and seeing enough to feel that explaining who Ovid had been wasn't necessary, before continuing. "Ovid was a Sleeper, and an unaware one at that. Of that I have little doubt. His references to Gods, works of mortal Heroes, and everything else seems to point to him having nothing but fancy and the stories of others to reference." She paused. "Now Homer? I'm not so sure about him. Much of the Odyssey seems to me to have been allegory and fancy, but Circe? There is evidence that at least some of her mystic works were real. And the Iliad? I have found reference to a document written by Stasinus, a known Magi of the period, that corroborates much of the meddling of God-Spirits and the enchantments of Achilles. I have not yet managed to get my hands upon the document itself, so I cannot yet verify if the claims are true, but it looks promising..." She trailed off and took another few meticulous bites to finish her meal.

Chrys started to set her food aside, to settle in for a long conversation, when she seemed to freeze. She felt something. A ripple. There was another Herald nearby and whoever it was was up to something. She could feel the echoes of the reality alterations a Herald left in its wake when not hidden by a Cover. The ripple was small, barely perceptible event to Chrys's inherent senses, and appeared to be isolated. It was too small and too quick for her to place a direction or distance, let alone guess at what could be occurring, but it was enough to pique her suspicions. This wasn't good. It wasn't good at all. For the moment however, she had nothing to go on and without another ripple she couldn't even try too triangulate or speculate. It was possible that the event was singular, minor, and not directly dangerous. Or not. She would have to stay alert. Turning her attention back to the conversation, she realized that Elizabeth had continued to converse despite Chrys's distraction but it was unlikely that her freezing and mentally scanning the area had not gone unnoticed...
PM »Email
^
Elizabeth Wyatt
 Posted: Nov 3 2015, 01:40 AM
Quote
32
Thanatos
Creepy Curious Girl
Group Icon


“I didn’t realize they were known Necromancers. I didn’t even consider that they might be real people, well Odysseus and Orpheus at least. I assumed Pythagoras was real, just that he was a mathematician.” Elizabeth’s grasp of ancient Grecian history was broad but imprecise. Had she the time and the brainpower she would have learned everything about everything, soaking up knowledge like a sponge, but such a thing was impossible for a mere mortal. Nevertheless, she filed the interesting tidbit of information away in the recesses of her mind.

Her lunch was quickly becoming secondary to the conversation. Every now and again Lissi took a bite of food or a sip of her drink, but otherwise she was far more engaged in talking to Crystal. “That’s a very sensible way of looking at it. I think Mind magic is up there too. Intangible, hard to defend against, capable of enslaving or destroying the essence of a person with just a thought…” It was part of the reason why Elizabeth had pursued the study of the Mind. She had only dabbled at first, but after seeing what it was capable of she wanted to learn more specifically for her own defense and that of others.

That Chrys might be anything other than human had not occurred to Elizabeth. She had no reason or desire to pry deeper than the facade the professor presented. Having shared the company of weird people all her life, there was nothing about Crystal’s mannerisms so far that had raised any sort of red flags.

Even as Crystal took a turn for the melancholic, Lissi did not grow suspicious. Instead she joined in the pining. As a naturally curious person she’d certainly thought of it a time or two, what the world would have been like without the Scourge, magic free and abundant. “That does sound nice. I don’t expect I’ll ever see such a world in my lifetime, but I can’t help but wonder what it would be like. Wielding magic with as much ease as breathing. Dangerous, but useful I suppose..like a river. Rivers can sweep away careless children, but they can also be used to provide electricity or trade routes.”

At the mention of Ovid, Elizabeth nodded. It sounded correct at least. She did not seem particularly disappointed to learn that none of Ovid’s works had been extraordinary, but was instead intrigued by Chrys’s findings during her study of Homer and Stasinus. “Ah, I remember reading about Circe. As I recall she had a thing for turning those who offended her into animals, sounds like a mage to me.”

There was a lull in the conversation and Elizabeth took several bites of her lunch in quick succession. “Well, if I come across any of Stasinus’s works in my studies, I’ll be sure to let you know.” Not that there was a particularly high chance of that happening, but Lissi thought it seemed nice to put the offer on the table anyways. The lull in conversation lasted and Elizabeth looked up to see Chrys absolutely frozen, staring off into the middle distance. “Are you alright? Crystal?” There was no immediate response. Another oddly long moment of silence and Crystal seemed to tune back in. “Is something wrong? You kind of spaced out there for a minute…”
PM »
^
Crystal Wright
 Posted: Nov 4 2015, 07:31 PM
Quote
73
Herald
Rogue Psychopomp
Group Icon


"Hrm?" Chrys focused back on her conversation partner after her moment's distraction. "Oh, sorry. Zoned out there for a moment. It happens..." She trailed off with a shrug and a blush. "I never mean to, but I've been doing it all my life." That much was true, she had been doing this for as long as Crystal had existed. The fact that she had only existed for half the time that her physical age implied was irrelevant, Chrys had long established that her momentary lapses like such were not uncommon for Crystal. "Sorry..." She smiled apologetically.

"Anyhow. Yes. It was well documented by contemporaries that all three, and many other philosophers, dabbled in the necromantic arts. It was far from uncommon at the time, even if the average Grecian would still be suspicious of those who did so. Thus, while it wasn't well accepted, it was still acceptable as a practice." She smiled and nodded. "And you are exactly correct. Any of the Mystic Arts can be devastating in the wrong hands, and all of them can easily be used for evil purposes by the immoral. That does not mean that we should agree with the Puritans and burn all who practice such arts. Magic is like nuclear energy, horrifically destructive in the right hands but can also bring light and heat to everyone, its all in how it is used. The Greeks seemed to realize that, but then again they knew magic was a real and powerful tool..."

Chrys took a moment of silence, finishing the rest of her drink and smiled wistfully. "It was a magical time, for sure." Chrys, but not Crystal, knew that it was a time of chaos and flux to be sure but not necessarily one of Heroes. Crystal saw the era as idealized as the historians of later eras however and she wished for it to be true once more. "It was a time when many were Awakened, and even those who were not knew that there was wonder and power in the world around them. Sleepers today are very different from the Sleepwalkers of the Golden Age. Already by the time of Ovid, the world was a darker and colder place, a place of the Scourge even if it was still weak back then..." She sighed lightly and shook her head lightly. "Though I think Circe was not Awakened herself. If the stories of her were true, I suspect her to be more of a Sleepwalker of her era. She knew a few tricks, and the power of her world at the time, but I have found little evidence she was Awakened in her own right..." She tapped her chin. "That said, Homer seems to know much about the underworld and the influence the invisible Gods have on our world..." She shrugged. "I am not totally certain however. Such is the nature of things. If we knew these things for sure... Well, I wouldn't have a job now, would I..." She winked and laughed.

Chrys would have kept discussing such, but then she felt another Ripple. It was a big one, almost more of a Wave. It was a major change and it was close, near the northern exit. She turned her head, seeming to forget that Lissi was even there. "What...?" Then she felt another one, this time near the eastern entrance. "No." Then another, to the West. "No." Then again to the north. “No...” Chrys's eyes darted between the various exits with increasing concern. She could already feel the influence of Infrastructure rising within the building. She glanced around the food court and saw that people were already starting to step in unison. The sounds of the kitchens were starting to resemble methodical music. She had no idea what Herald was acting or who they served or even what they hoped to achieve with the brazen move to establish Infrastructure in the heart of the Academy. What she knew is that she had to do something about it.

Chrys stood up and started making for the north exit out of the Student Center, but stopped for a moment and glanced back at Elizabeth. She could see that the young woman's eyes had that look, the look of a mortal falling under the spell of Infrastructure. If she were clever and astute, she'd notice the strange symptoms (the perfectly timed steps or the almost melodic quality of the kitchens or the way that light shone through the windows in perfect ways to illuminate seemingly coincidental events) but the power of a Herald would ensure that it would seem to only be a coincidence. Even mortal Magic wasn't enough to avoid that, not without preparation and awareness before hand...

Chrys hated herself for doing this. She hated the interloping Herald for forcing her hand. Above all, she hated that she kind of wanted to do this. She had been curious ever since her Fall and now she'd know how it felt, assuming the girl was willing. Chrys reached out and placed her hand atop Elizabeth's. “Lissi.” She paused, waiting for the girl to look her directly in the eye. “I need you to trust me. Can you do that?” She reached down and picked up a napkin from her tray, swallowing hard as she felt it start already turning into heavy parchment beneath her fingers. “We haven't much time and I'm probably going to need back-up, but you can't do it without signing on the dotted line...” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to ignore the sensation of increasing Waves coming from all around them. “Name one thing you desire, the one thing you want the most right now...”
PM »Email
^
Elizabeth Wyatt
 Posted: Nov 5 2015, 09:12 PM
Quote
32
Thanatos
Creepy Curious Girl
Group Icon


Lissi waved off Crystal’s apology, “Don’t worry about it.” Though, she found herself wondering if the woman might have had some type of attention deficit disorder. It wasn’t uncommon, and regularly spacing out was a symptom. However, she said nothing of her hypothesis. She hardly knew Crystal and offering untrained medical diagnoses to anyone, let alone to a near-stranger, was uncalled for.

They chatted a while longer with Elizabeth occasionally nodding and picking at her lunch while Chrys detailed what she knew of the Golden Age and its magics. It was truly a tragedy that so much knowledge and magic had been lost through the ages. Whether or not it was right or worthwhile to return the world to such a state, Elizabeth didn’t know for certain. What she did know was that regardless of its benefits, the scourge was a pain in the ass.

“It is a shame we don’t have more intact sources. Though if we did…” Her voice trailed off as Crystal seemed to lose herself in her imagination again...or maybe not. Elizabeth raised her straw to her mouth and took a long, contemplative sip as Chrys began to fret about something. She was about to dismiss it as a fit of fancy when the pulse of the room caught her attention. Not unlike a line of synchronized blinkers in a turn lane, the room seemed for an instant to be coordinated like cogs in a clock. Huh. Weird. Lissi thought dismissively.

Her attention was only diverted by the presence of Crystal’s hand on hers. “Yeah?” she set her drink down, and looked to Crystal, confused as to why the woman suddenly seemed to be on the verge of panic. “Well I mean, I’m capable of trusting you. I don’t know, should I?” The question lacked sincerity and suspicion and was followed by a flippant laugh.

But Chrys was serious about...well, something. All of the sudden she was holding a large sheet of parchment and muttering something about desires and signing things. Lissi was honestly having a hard time following, but she blurted out the first thing that came to mind anyways. “Oh i don’t know, a snickers bar?” She had passed one up when buying her lunch, but it did sound really good right then.
PM »
^
Crystal Wright
 Posted: Nov 7 2015, 12:12 PM
Quote
73
Herald
Rogue Psychopomp
Group Icon


Chrys looked genuinely upset as she regarded Lissi and only part of that was regret that the situation had turned so dark so fast. She would much rather have continued discussing secret histories with the girl... Even if it didn't provide valuable practice passing as Crystal, it was fun besides. She found that she was starting to like this girl and given time they may have even become friends. Now though? Now that some damned Loyalist Herald had decided to make a move on her campus? To risk the Valley and the people that were under her protection? That would not do, and sadly it was far to unlikely that she could defuse the Infrastructure while its architect was still present. She needed a second. Someone to dissolve the Infrastructure while she distracted whoever this Herald was and for that she would need Lissi.

"No. You probably shouldn't, but I'm going to need you to anyhow..." Chrys bit her lower lip, nervous as hell as she started to form her first pact. Already scrawled across the top of her 'parchment' was the dense legalese that came with such deals. 'The primary party {the "broker"} agrees to grant the desire of the secondary party {the "signer"}...' and as Lissi confusedly mentioned a candy bar, the contract continued to fill with further legalese so dense that not even Chrys was entirely certain what it truly said. The important part was that a line appeared on the bottom and Chrys felt the weight of a pen suddenly in her hand. It was time...

Chrys pressed the pen into Lissi's hand and directed the girl's hand to sign on the dotted line. As soon as Lissi finished the signature, the lines she had written began to glow a bright electric blue that bordered on white, seeming to burn itself into the parchment but did no harm. Chrys for her part was looking directly into the eyes of the young woman and her eyes suddenly seemed to glow with the same blue-white fire as she muttered. "Deal..." A faint wind tinged with the otherworldly energies of the Aether, the power of the Void itself, began to swirl around the pair but went unnoticed by the others in the Student Center. A sudden weight appeared in Lissi's hand, a 'king-size' Snickers bar having appeared there...

Slowly, but surely, Lissi would noticed that the world around her was changing. She could see energies unrecognizable to the Mage coursing through the Student Center. Impossibly intricate gears made of the same Aetherial energies seemed to appear from nowhere, dominating about two-thirds of the structure (leaving only the Southern most parts of the building so far untouched). The gears even touched the people within the building, seeming to direct their movements ever so slightly so that they were in almost perfect time and leading to the odd 'coincidence' that she had noticed earlier.

Beyond that, she would see that Chrys was not quite as she had seemed even moments before. Crystal Wright was still there and visible, but her image seemed super-imposed over a figure of ivory and metal roughly in a human shape. Circuitry could be seen through the creature's skull, glowing with the same blue-white of the her eyes. Upon her back were structures that seemed to be made of portions of a satellite dish, disassembled and put back together in the rough shape of wings. Above all, Lissi would notice that the figure was indistinct seeming to be 'dimensionally wrong' and unfocused to the human eye. The creature spoke and the image of Crystal's lips moved in perfect time with the creature's words. "I know its a lot. The Stigmata is never easy the first time, but I need you to focus."

She took Lissi's hand and, somewhat insistently, pulled the younger woman towards the north exit. "The deal we struck granted you temporary Thralldom. You can see the Aetheric constructs of the Heralds. The things they build to grant their Gods power. Some foolish Herald thought to turn this building into one of those constructs. I can't let that happen. I can't let the students who come here to relax to become unwitting Thralls used to unmake their own world." She stopped at the door and glanced at Lissi, silently praying that the young woman wasn't too freaked out yet to panic. "I need to stop him, but I can't do it alone. He'll try to distract me to ensure that his construct can finish taking hold before I can stop it. That's why I need you. I'll keep him busy, but I need you to find the Keystone. It'll be something innocuous like a rock or a tree, maybe art made by a student or something, that is near his point of 'infection,' somewhere near this door... Find it and destroy it." Chrys took a deep breath, smiled (both as Crystal and, somewhat unnervingly with a metal/ivory face, Chrys) and said, "I need you to trust me and do that or we're going to have a lot of difficulty dislodging the construct later... I'm counting on you..."

Chrys took a deep breath (though she honestly didn't need it) and pushed the door open. Her eyes scanned the handful of figures that were milling about in the mid-autumn chill. Student. Student. Student. Faculty. There! A seemingly young man further down the sidewalk and seemingly lounging on a bench was clearly not human. Super-imposed over the young man's form was another robotic looking monstrosity. All sharpened blades and glowing red eyes and a burning foundry for a heart glowing from within. He had no wings, so Chrys knew what she had to do. She dropped Crystal, leaving a faint image of her Cover seeming to forget something from within and disappearing back into the building. She faded from mortal (but not Lissi's eyes) and dove into the air where she silently (again not to Lissi, but to all other mortals) screamed, "Rhodi! You bastard!" As she approached his form, her arm dissolved and reformed as a large sickle-like shape. The metal creature looked up at Chrys's desperate charge and only laughed while he stepped away from the young man he was hiding within... He threw up an arm and effortlessly blocked Chrys' wild attack. Her attacks kept swinging wildly and he continued to bat them aside like a seasoned warrior blocking a child. "Well, well, well... Chrysopoeia... I was wondering if your rebellious ass was going to notice me here..." He stopped blocking and released a vicious blow that Chrys wasn't able to block in time, sending her flying. With a laugh, he leapt after her and when she struck the ground hard he landed atop her chest. The sound of metal creaking echoed across the area unnoticed by mortals. Chrys cried out and dissolved and reformed a few feet away, taking care to point her enemy away from where she had left Lissi. "Of course I am. You and the Living City will never gain a foothold in this place while I still function!" She narrowed her eyes and prepared for the next assault, hoping that Lissi hadn't simply run away...
PM »Email
^
Elizabeth Wyatt
 Posted: Nov 7 2015, 07:00 PM
Quote
32
Thanatos
Creepy Curious Girl
Group Icon


“I don’t see…” Being rushed was undesirable. Frankly, it was up there with “jellyfish” and “people who talk in the theatre” on the list of things Elizabeth didn’t like. She needed time to think, and to understand before acting. Unfortunately such a luxury could not be afforded to her at the present. One moment she had mentioned something about a snickers bar, and in the next moment a pen was pushed into her hand. In a fit of carelessness she hastily scribbled down her name. There had been no time to pause and consider what a catastrophically bad decision it could have, and might still be. It was just a piece of paper, after all.

At the end of her stroke, just as the nib left the paper, Lissi saw her signature flash bright blue and then turned to look to Chrys. Her look of vague confusion was replaced with alarm as Crystal’s eyes glowed blue to match. “What…” Out of nothingness into the palm of her own hand appeared the snickers bar she had been so badly craving. “God dammit!”

She had made a terrible mistake.

The room began to shift before her eyes. No, it wasn’t so much that the room was changing as it was her perception. It was reminiscent of her first time peering into the underworld, the sensation of seeing things that existed, unseen, beyond mundanity. Strange and unfamiliar energies circulated throughout the building, ethereal gears governed the movements of everything in the room: students and staff alike. Well, everyone it seemed except herself and Crystal.

Speaking of whom...there was something very wrong with Crystal’s appearance, namely that she appeared to be more robotic than human. Absolutely overwhelmed and dumbfounded, Elizabeth just stood and stared for a long moment as she tried to make sense of it all.

Something something stigmata, something something focus…

Elizabeth found herself being pulled towards the exit while Crystal gave an explanation that she found unsatisfactory. “THRALLDOM?!? CRYSTAL!” She roared. To add insult to injury, all she had gotten in return was a fucking candy bar. Some of Chrys’s explanation was lost on Elizabeth, namely the definitions of some of the words and the bit immediately after the word “thralldom”. What she had gathered, by the time Chrys had pushed the door open, was that the deal had been a regrettable measure, but necessary in the face of something worse. “I’ll help you, I’ll help you, just...FUCK, you didn’t have to ENSLAVE me, GOD.” Lissi steeled herself. She could hold it together, help Crystal, and then if she survived they could sort out the rest later.

“How will I know the Keystone when I see it?” Anger and dismay reined in, but still tangible just below the surface, Lissi watched as Chrys separated from the image of Crystal and lunged forward. There was another robot...construct…thing there too, just down the path. It either didn’t notice or didn’t care about Lissi’s presence. It focused instead on Chrys, batting away her attacks with practiced ease. Elizabeth watched silently for a moment until the thing, Rhodi as Chrys had called it, sent Chrys flying. It wasn’t looking good for Chrys. It was at that moment Lissi seemed to remember that she was supposed to be doing something.

The Keystone, right.

It would be somewhere near the door, Chrys had told her. Something innocuous. While the two...Heralds? Whatever they were, were busy fighting, Elizabeth began her search. Rocks in the garden bed? No. A nearby bench? No. The trash can?
PM »
^
Crystal Wright
 Posted: Nov 9 2015, 07:57 PM
Quote
73
Herald
Rogue Psychopomp
Group Icon


Lissi wasn't happy, that much was obvious. Granted, it made sense why she would be upset. After all, Chrys had just tricked her into signing a pact with a being that, for all intents and purposes, was a demon. Chrys would never call herself that of course, but she could understand why so many of her kind had been labeled as such for centuries. Nor was it wholly wrong and Chrys felt awful for sort of proving that image correct. There simply wasn't time to say much beyond another muttered "Sorry..." softly before grabbing hold and dragging Lissi to the door.

She winced heavily as Lissi bellowed before they were out of earshot of the rest of the Student Center. This would take some explaining later to prevent Crystal from dissolving. It wouldn't be the first time, but she never relished the task. Worst of all, she couldn't even be angry at Lissi. If there had been time, Chrys would have handled this situation very differently, but there hadn't been time and besides it had already been done. While things could be undone, Chrys lacked the power to do so... Instead she could only respond and try to keep Lissi focused on the reason for revealing the world of Stigmata. "Shh... Please be quiet..." Chrys looked honestly pained and apologetic as she muttered in the brief moments before charging towards her enemy. "I haven't. I wouldn't. This is temporary. Long enough to save hundreds of students their freedom. You can be mad, but later. Now I need you to save lives..." That was all she said as she ran towards the other Herald and began to take her beating.

And a beating it was. Chrys was not a warrior. She had not been created to fight, but rather to build. She had since learned how to defend herself, but this was not a mugger or a rapist like the classes had taught her to deal with... This was a combat drone created by the greatest technological mind she had ever known for a singular purpose: to ensure that the Living City would win The War and to destroy any who would stand in the way of that goal. Horrible talons dug into her flesh harshly, too quick for her to dematerialize. A bright blue liquid flew clear, her blood spilled with a pained cry. A moment later, she dissolved from view and appeared above Rhodi, slamming herself down with sharp spears of blue metal. She managed to strike him, but his reinforced form was only superficially damaged by her futile strike.

"Hah! Is that all you have little girl?" Rhodi walked over to her, agonizingly slowly and obviously taunting her how he did so. He reached down and grabbed her by the back of the throat and lifted her up forcefully to look him directly in the eye. "I cannot believe the Master would ever have created something so weak as you. It shames me to know we share a pedigree." He laughed mockingly directly in the face, spittle would fly if he were human enough to have saliva. As it were, he started to pick her up higher and squeezing ever tighter. The sound of warping metal and cracking ivory could be heard echoing across the quad, only drowned out by Chrys's inaudible (to all but Lissi and the Heralds) screams. She struggled furiously against Rhodi's iron grip, shifting between dimension but finding herself held fast on all levels of reality. She had one more trick up her sleeve, but she couldn't use it yet. Not until Lissi destroyed the keystone...

Meanwhile, as Lissi searched, the gears slowly spread further and further through the Student Center. If any thought to calculate it they would find that about 80% of the structure had been suborned by the invisible gears. They all stretched out from a single source however, a single gear made of a vile looking red metal which slowly turned within its disguise. On a level only visible to Heralds and those who bore Stigmata, the gear was visible within its disguise of a small ankh made of a silver looking metal. To any observer, it was simply another of countless 'art installations' of a local 'rogue artist' on campus, who was famous for putting ancient mystical symbols in unexpected places. It was small and partially hidden by the decorative shrubbery around the building, easy to over look. Even those who did see it would only assume another bit of that artist's work. To Lissi, bearing the unwanted marks of Stigmata, it was a beacon. Physically it was a symbol of eternal life made of polished steel, on a metaphysical level (beyond even mystical) level it was the power source of a machine that would turn the activity within the building to a sinister goal...
PM »Email
^
Elizabeth Wyatt
 Posted: Nov 10 2015, 11:11 PM
Quote
32
Thanatos
Creepy Curious Girl
Group Icon


Sorry just didn’t quite cut it. If signing the paper meant what Lissi thought it meant, sorry didn’t even come close to cutting it. Still, both through her own observations and through another of Crystal’s hasty explanations, she was able to recognize that now was not the time to go ballistic. She would be mad, but later.

It was hard to focus on her search while Chrys and Rhodi went at it. Elizabeth could hear the whining of metal against metal as she searched trash can, and the crackling of some other type of material she couldn’t place as she searched through the shrubs. She paused, very briefly, and turned to see the other machine holding Chrys by the neck. Only a little of what Rhodi said sank in, the rest of it went in one ear and out the other. They shared a pedigree...like, siblings or something. This was bad. Bad, bad, bad...on so many levels.

In spite of her anger, if Crystal’s goal really was to help the student body, Elizabeth wanted to help her. It would have been nice to be able to run over shut the other herald down, but Lissi knew she didn’t have the knowledge or the means or the brute strength to do so. The only way she knew for certain she could help without just getting in the way, was to find the keystone and destroy it.

There. Once she’d gotten past the shrubbery, the keystone stood out like a sore thumb. It shone bright and malevolent amongst the other, lesser gears. Now, to destroy it. Closing her eyes for a moment, Lissi took a deep breath and cleared her mind of the little niggling doubts and thoughts. What remained were stronger, baser emotions. Her rage at Chrys deceit and her fear of the implications of “thralldom” twisted together, fueling her spell. Every ounce of death magic she knew was brought to bear, flying from her fingertips in inky tendrils. They wrapped around the ankh/keystone in an entropic embrace, eating away at the metal with a wicked hiss.
PM »
^
Crystal Wright
 Posted: Nov 13 2015, 02:39 PM
Quote
73
Herald
Rogue Psychopomp
Group Icon


Chrys could feel the metal bones and ivory 'flesh' cracking and fracturing under the other Herald's grip. She could feel her life essence, her Aether, starting to leak out of her wounds and through his fingers as he squeezed. Her eyes flew wildly, keeping her intent unclear and seeming like panicked desperation. Admittedly it was that in some part, but she was really attempting to catch a glance at Lissi and her task. She saw the woman disappear into a bush, and Chrys grew tremendously worried. Lissi was going into hiding, probably hoping to lay low until Chrys was dead and Rhodi had departed. With resignation, Chrys started to go limp. She didn't blame the girl. She had tricked her into signing a pact of thralldom, of course she was angry and had every right to be. It had been too much to process and while Chrys could've forced Lissi to follow orders through the pact, she couldn't bring herself to do so. It was everything that she had rebelled against all those years ago. This was it. The end of the line. She had failed...

...except a moment later she saw the Aetheric gears falling away and dissolving into nothingness. Gear by gear and inch by inch, the Student Center lost its Aetheric controls and the natural chaos of life began to reassert itself. Though she could not see through the walls, Chrys knew that within the steps would become less coordinated and the sounds of cooking would grow more scattered as the gears fell away. Lissi hadn't run, she hadn't hid, she had destroyed the keystone and liberated the building from the Living City's influence. She had succeeded and thus made the pain Chrys had suffered in the preceding moments worthwhile. Good... Chrys felt her consciousness starting to fade, having lost a bit too much Aether. She maintained her resigned and limp stance for a moment, allowing Rhodi to revel in his victory.

Then, suddenly she tensed and looked him directly in the eye. "Not today, bastard!" She glared and pulled a single 'feather' from her 'wing' and jabbed it into his side. Rhodi, for his part, looked confused and started to laugh. "It didn't even hurt! What did you hope to ach---" His words were cut short as he folded in half, then again, and again... Folding and folding until he was the size of the feather and then he was gone. Snatching up the feather, Chrys knew she didn't have much time. Setting her remaining Aether ablaze, she took off running into the bushes where she had last seen Lissi. After a moment's frantic search, she found the young woman and grabbed her wrist. "Time to go! He'll be back any minute, not to mention the others..." Her eyes were terrified and a thick, electric blue substance still leaked from the numerous cracks and shattered remains of her neck. "This is going to suck!"

Then Chrys faded out of existence and brought Lissi with her. Lissi would feel like she was simultaneously compressed to the size of a pin and stretched to the size of a continent, all while she felt the disorienting sensation of traveling at nearly ten times the speed of sound from a thousand locations in minutes. When the pair landed a few minutes later in an alleyway, even Chrys seemed about ready to retch. "Almost there, but the rest on foot..." She paused for a second, waiting to see if Lissi needed a moment to recover. Then she grabbed the woman by the wrist again and tugged her as she ran the final block through backyards to the small but ornate house that Chrys called home. As they barreled through the back door, Chrys winced as she felt Rhodi return back on campus but grinned as she felt an explosion of what must've been angry Aether. Good. They should be safe for now and Rhodi wouldn't dare try something so brazen for a while...

...thus she could finally turn to her companion. Chrys staggered to her feet and offered a hand to help Lissi to stand herself. "We should be safe now. They can't sense me here and our trip was chaotic enough that it would be nearly impossible to follow our trail. Just one last thing to ensure that I'm undetected..." She looked up and smiled as Crystal came walking into the kitchen from the front room. The two were strangely opposing in appearance, Crystal looking as well put together as she had been at lunchtime and Chrys still holding a hand to her bleeding neck and trying to ignore the pain of cracked and splintering stone and bone. They shared a smile and a nod with each other and Crystal walked over and into Chrys. A moment later, even with Lissi's Aetheric enhanced sight, there appeared to only be Crystal standing there as Chrys had faded from view within Crystal. "Now. I'm sure you have questions..." Crystal/Chrys smiled apologetically. "But first, let me say I'm so sooo sorry about all of this..." She visibly winced as she apologized, already tensing for an expected punch.
PM »Email
^
0 User(s) are reading this topic (0 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

Topic Options
Pages: (2) 1 2 
Add Reply
New Topic
New Poll