Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sooo Close... (Wayward Saga)

Doul: Wh-aa? *shoots a half-afraid, half-suspicious glance at Ira and veers left towards the gate* I've got keys for it, so why would we have to scale it? Besides, that'd look even more suspicious.

Taryn: Not like we're not -all- on the security cameras already. But that's a bridge we'll have to cross when we come to it for now.

Billy: *looks expectantly at the fence and keeps moving forward while trying to look everywhere at once when he hears Taryn's comment about security cameras*

Garret: *curls is lip in annoyance. Taryn had a point, it was likely they were being watched anyways. Which sucked. But there was nothing they could do right now.* Yeah, I guess so. *stumbles for a step or two, but recovers enought to fake health again*

Lisette: *keeps her distance still, regardless of cameras she still doesn't want to freak Doul out more than necessary*

Ira: *leads Doul up to the gate and waits for him to unlock it, scanning the yard beyond while he waits, looking for any sign of other guards or personnel and seeing no one yet*

Doul: *fumbles and finally manages to unlock the the gate, holding it open for everyone to pass through first* The parking arcade is in the basement, so we'll need to head inside and down the elevators...

Taryn: *heads forward, leaving Ira and Doul by the gate to close up, and advances towards the complex doors* Is there anything we should be cautious of? Guards we should be aware of? Anything you haven't told us about?

Billy: *moves forward through the gate, hoping that they will be able to leave this place, looking expectantly at the guard, waiting to see what he has to say*

Garret: *shuffles through the gate, not liking where Doul is leading them. It seems like prime places for an ambush. Still, he grits his teeth and bears it, hoping its just paranoia and not premonition* How are you holding up kid? *he asks Billy once they're through the gate*

Lisette: *pauses as she nears the gate and see's Ira and Doul waiting. With a deep breath, she begins to move forward. Tailing didn't seem much of an option anymore* All is clear behind us Ira... so far. *she speaks as she passes through the gate, keeping an eye on Doul and trying not to show how terrifed she really is right now*

Ira: *saluts at Lisette before nudging Doul to lock the gate after them* Good work, dollface. Now then, to the getaway car! *pulls Doul along with him*

Doul: *locks the gate and then stumbles as Ira pulls on their invisible connection* Look, I already told you, I don't know where exactly the other guards are. They're supposed to be on the move like me. But, once you get in through the doors, the elevator is just on the left hand side...

Taryn: Do we need a security key to get through the building? Is there a security guard manning the desk? Come on, Mr. Doul, your ass is on the line here anyways, you might as well co-operate and avoid more pain. We want to get through this as quickly as possible, and then you'll never hear from us again.

Billy: *looking at Garret* Uh...I'm ok I guess. I'm just looking forward to getting out of this place and finding something to eat.

Garret: *nods but doesn't say anything more. He just looks over his shoulder at Lisette and smiles slightly, looks like Doul didn't freak out. It was also nice to see Lisette wasn't glowing. Which meant either she was cool and calm, or getting better at controlling her panic*

Lisette: *was really focussing on not glowing. The raw willpower it was taking left her senses a bit dull. She was amazing herself by holding it off this long though.* The faster we get out of here, the happier I'll be. *not noticing, she almost stumbles over a piece of broken asphalt. Stooping, she picks up a piece the size of a walnut and fiddles with it as she walks*

Ira: *pushes Doul back tot he front of the group, so that he can lead the way in* Alright, everyone be on guard here... less open space means harder to keep sights on everything...

Doul: *fumbles with his security card and opens up the outer doors and then points to where the elevators are* There's security desks on some of the higher clearance levels, but i'm just an S Class, I don't get to see those parts of the complex... *leads them inside a modern-looking building - all steel and concrete and banked florescent lighting overhead. This level is clearly a warehouse, for packing and shipping goods, with a few personnel at the far side working without looking up. Doul pauses briefly looking towards them before waving them towards the left and inserting his card into the security slot*

Taryn: *keeps close, not wanting to blatantly ask questions in the presence of other site personnel, instead she keeps an eye on the space, picking out te materials and the colours incase she needs to shift quickly*

Billy: *seeing the other employees working across the wharehouse he quickly moves towards the elevators*

Garret: *follows as inconspicuously as possible, which is tough since none of them look like guards or employees* I really don't like this. Any way we can speed things up even more?

Lisette: *still concentrating and fiddling with the peice of asphalt, which she does not notice is starting to glow slightly* Yeah, I don't like being this vulnerable. It makes me... nervous. *she shoots a look to Ira with that "you know what that means" kind of look as she moves quickly to the elevators*

Ira: This parking arcade of yours is just out these doors when we get to the right floor, right? Like, no maze with retinal scanners and martial prowess, and skill-testing questions, right? *glances at Lisette and gives her a reassuring wink*

Doul: What? *frowns at Ira with no sense of humour at all and shakes his head* No, it's just down on B4. Believe me, I want to get rid of you guys as soon as I can... Why would I be leading you all over hell's half-acre?

Taryn: *watches the illuminated lights on the elevator bar move down to M on the display with some impatience* I somehow feel like we should really be taking the stairs.

Billy: *looking at Taryn* Uh...I like that idea, the stairs might be better. *steps back a couple of paces to see if he can spot the door sto the stairs*

Garret: *he doesn't say a word, but he agrees as well. The elevator just seems like a bad idea. But Doul has a point, why would he lead them all of hells-half-acre when his safetly was on the line* As much as I hate to say it, lets give the guy the benefit of the doubt. The elevator would be the fastest way down. *sighs*

Lisette: *the chunk of asphalt is glowing a little brighter and she looks impatient, her brow starting to bead with sweat* Can we just get going already?

Ira: Ding! *in time with the elevator's like sound* Alright, everyone, pile in nice and cozy... What's this elevator's max. capacity anyway? *steps in, dragging Doul with him and peers at the plaque* We're good to like...fifteen people, so we should be fine... *grins at them easily, as if to remind them all to stay calm*

Doul: *is hauled into the elevator with a tug* Urk! Would you stop doing that? *hisses under his breath* It feels gross! *inserts his pass key into the slot and presses B4, as he said*

Taryn: *steps in, feeling relieved that there's no one inside the elevator when it came to Main.* Okay, so far, so good. Let's go... *but her voice is tentative, and she glances at Garret to see how he's doing*

Billy: *steps into the elevator quickly with everyone else*

Garret: *his face is growing more and more pale as things drag on, and his movements are sluggish at best, but he's trying to hide it as best her can. Scratching at the stubble on his chin, he catches Taryn looking at him. He lifts his hand to say that he's alright without actually saying it.* We're almost there. *shifts to beside Taryn in the elevator and grabs her hand, giving a quick squeeze*

Lisette" *still hasn't noticed the glowing rock in her hand. She climbs into the elevator with the others and wipes the beads of sweat away with her free hand*

Ira: *watches the counter moving down as he hums some elevator Muzak, then as the doors are opening he says* Welcome to B4, please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle until it comes to a complete --- Shit. *with the doors fully open, there is a man standing behind a row of guards armed with pistols and shotguns*

Friday, July 1, 2011

Primal Crusade #6 - Topher on Assignment

Daeron was so fed up with finals this term it was not funny. Every class had demanded a polished programming project, all due within two days of each other, and he wasn’t even getting a chance to rest after that. He’d been itching a lot recently, and his skin was even peeling in a few places… a medical condition, he was sure of it, but not enough to be debilitating. His close friends had taken to jesting with him about the matter, telling him his stress was causing him to shed. Whatever it was, it was annoying… At least until the hair began to fall out. He’d noticed a strand or two here and there and now he’d taken to wearing a cap because he’d developed a bald spot on the cowlick of his head before the week was out. A doctor’s appointment had been arranged but it was unfortunately after the majority of his projects were due… leaving him to stress about his body, complain about the sun (or lack thereof) and endure the ridicule of bemused friends. He’d already been ‘gifted’ with a box or two of Rogaine… He sighed as he basked in the sunlight and typed away at his laptop, it was, at least, almost over. Another week and he’d be free to return home – not that it was that much of an improvement but familiar territory and faces would at least soothe the academic panic that gripped most university students at this time of the year. Hopefully his skin allergy, as that is what he’d convinced himself his condition was, would be cured by then. Beyond him, the pond burbled merrily and the quiet-loud voices of exuberant students drifted on the wind, a pleasant backdrop to his work.

Topher was a little lost. Normally his sense of direction was quite good - but that required some knowledge of the area he was in, and this was nowhere near anything he knew. He still wasn't entirely sure why Darius had selected him - of all the Weres and all the more experienced hunters in their group - to fly out here for this little task. He was certain Daquiri would have done a better job, and that Lee had friends in the area (hadn't he friends everywhere?) but no, they'd chosen him - Topher Bier - to fly halfway across the continent in search of a specific Demon. He was still nervous about that. Though they had told him this particular Demon was on their side, and that she'd helped them in the past, he was still nervous. He'd only ever encountered Demons in a fray before, and then he'd had to either kill them or run for his life. So, what was this mission to be? He stopped, and shaded his eyes with one hand. He was hopelessly lost on campus, which was at least in the right direction, but past that he was unsure. He glanced at his watch: quarter past 2. If this kept up, he'd miss the meeting, and he hated being late for things like this. Glancing around, he caught sight of a student working away on a laptop in an adjacent building. He swung around the side of the structure to find the door and stepped inside. Immediately the cool of air conditioning hit him, and he was glad he'd brought his windbreaker. He shrugged it over his shoulders and strode towards the window where the young man had been working and lifted a hand in greeting. "Excuse me..."

Daeron flicked his gaze up at the words, but only briefly, in that side-long checking-if-it's-you glance most strangers give when addressed. A scan of the area near him revealed a lack of others to query so he tilted his head and looked from under thin brows at the man, "Need something? I'm in the middle of a project..." He gestured at his laptop, on which a wall of computing lingo marched across the screen in neat, colour coded rows. Absently, he scratched at his wrists.

Topher smiled apologetically and nodded in understanding. "Yes, I'm terribly sorry to interrupt. I'm trying to find the Eidon building? Could you point me in the right direction?" He noticed the scratching and tried to avert his gaze. He knew some people could be self-conscious about such things and didn't want to draw any more attention to the condition than necessary.

"Eidon?" He looked amused and shook his head, "You're on the wrong side of the campus, entirely. Eidon's with the business section not the computing technology buildings. Here, I'll show you the map." Tapping away several commands in the blink of an eye, he then closed his laptop and rose, a gust of wind nearly toppling his hat from its place and he grumbled as he clutched it to its spot, tugging some hairs loose at the same time. Realizing this, but not wanting to look like a freak before a stranger, he gestured with his free hand, "That way, just around the corner." He waited a moment then hastily dropped the hairs as he moved forward as if everything was normal, "Visiting a friend?"

Topher blinked a little, wondering if perhaps this student had leukemia and was undergoing treatments. He turned to follow the man's pointing hand and looked off across the campus to a walkway lined with trees. "I must've gone right past it..." He muttered to himself and then smiled back at the student. "Thanks a bunch, man." At his follow up question, Topher's smile faltered a little. "Ah, no... Not really. I'm supposed to meet someone, but it'll be a first for me."

"Nah, a lot of people miss it because it's tucked in behind the larger buildings and doesn't have any direct access - need to go through the buildings around it. See?" He stopped at the wall plaque that was just around the corner and tapped a finger at the gathering of four buildings in the area labeled for business studies, "Easiest way is to follow this corridor, hang a left at the McKinsman Theatre and follow that hallway to the Business Admin building then cross the gangway into Eidon. Most people get lost... it's an old campus. Even net hot spots are hard to find." He gestured back at where he'd been working. "One of the profs, maybe?" He quirked a brow at that, wondering if this was a poorly arranged net-date or something. Wouldn't be surprising, really. "There's maps dotted along the walls so you should be able to find your way...."

"Ah, well, the indoor maps should sort me out. I usually have a good sense of direction, so..." He trailed off as he studied the map and followed the path the other had voiced with his eyes. Ah, he wasn't so far off as he'd thought. He should be able to make it in time. "Ah, not a professor, actually. She out of one of the buildings. Like a liaison, I guess. Have you heard of Leithe Allusion?"

"Allusion..." He trailed off, biting his lower lip thoughtfully, "Oh! Yeah. Heard of, don't want to get involved with though... couple of my buddies says she's got this weird voodoo vibe about her." Daeron chuckled, "I don't know myself, the business side's not my thing. All I can say is general consensus is 'be careful'." His curiosity was piqued, however, and he wondered just what this man wanted with the somewhat infamous woman. Probably none of his business... but still. Curiosity was a hard thing to deny, though caution too had its place.

"Ah..." Topher replied dumbly as his smile grew a little wooden. "That's....encouraging." He took a quick exchange of breath and looked at his watch again. "Well, I'll be off to my doom, now. Thanks for showing me the road." He gave a soft chuckle and shook his head. Seriously, why had Darius picked him?

"Doom?" He asked, arching a brow, "You're an optimistic one, aren't you?" It was, perhaps, a sarcastic remark and he cast a sidelong look at his laptop then, seeming to come to a decision, slipped it into his satchel, "Less doom-likely if I come along? I've never met her... want to see if the rumours are true. If you don't mind? You won't get lost, then." Hoisting the strap over his shoulder, the slender student made a great show of 'preparing' for this escort.

Topher looked mildly surprised at the help, but after he registered what had been said he grinned full out. "Actually, that would be great. She'd probably be a little less scary if I was with a h--" He cut himself off with a cough and ended lamely, "an actual student, rather than a visitor." He glanced down the wall in the direction they were meant to go and hooked his thumbs through his belt loops. "Shall we head out then? Er, I'm Topher, by the way." He extended a hand to the other boy in a firm handshake. "Thanks again, man."

"And a student knows these walls well enough to escape easily." He jested, "Just in case things go south." Winking, he took Topher's hand and shook it with a surprisingly firm grip, "Daeron. Daeron Hould, Computing Science Fourth Year, First Class Honours, at your service. Not much of a title now but it will be... when I get out into the 'real world'." He grinned, obviously a man with a dream.

Topher looked suitably impression. "I'm just Topher Bier." He replied, a little self-consciously. "I didn't go to college. Life took me down a different path, and dropped me at a garage. I'm training to be a mechanic now." It seemed a silly thing to offer, but he felt he had to say something to rationalize why he hadn't opted to enroll for four years of self-torment and debt. He began walking, the long-legged stride of an athlete and glanced sidelong at the Daeron as he went. "So, these friends of yours that went to see Miss Allusion...Why'd they go see her?"

"Hey man, there's as much money in cars as there is in computers. Besides, knowing how to program doesn't mean much if you can't fix an engine in the middle of nowhere." He chuckled, "Nothing wrong with being a mechanic." Walking alongside, Daeron shrugged, "Research, advice... whatever, really. I don't know a lot, I only know they're careful in their dealings with her... tit for tat, sort of thing." He made a helpless gesture. Such things weren't unheard of in university... but it wasn't something he actively pursued either, "Last time... oh! It was something to do with some high-level business theory or some such.... contracts and obligations and the like."

Oh, for the love of... don't tell me I'm meant to bargain over souls, or something? Topher visibly flinched. He took a deep breath and reminded himself that Darius was a good person, all lifestyle choices aside, and that this Demon was supposed to be on their side. "Well, I hope I can keep up with her legal jargon." He said aloud, quite bluntly. "I'm not very good at Machiavellian plots."

Daeron noted that flinch and frowned, "Why're you so uncertain? S'just another of the Business staff. And I'm not good with that sort of thing either... better at this stuff." He patted the bag at his side, "The superstitious mumbojumbo hasn't set you off has it?" The student chuckled, scratching at his neck as he teased the stranger then paused as he felt something come loose at the back of his neck. Swearing softly, he muttered a quick 'be right back' before ducking into a side-corridor and into the bathroom as he pulled away a sheet of skin, almost like a burn, save for the fact that it was textured.... scaley at the back of his neck. Stunned, he found a stall and sat down, belatedly scratching with some fervor.... but the only scaly patch was at the back of his neck... and yes, he could feel the bumps, smooth and surprisingly soft. He shivered, "What the hell?" Getting rid of the evidence, he checked the bathroom then leaned out the door and called down the hallway, "Uh.... Go on without me, something's come up." It was a lame excuse, even for him, but... weird skin conditions were more important than voodoo ladies.

Topher was thinking on a careful answer when Daeron ducked into the bathroom. He waited patiently in the hall, inspecting the vending machine, chunking coins in to get a package of dried apple rings, and was filling up his stainless steel water bottle when Daeron leaned out the doorway. Topher turned, screwing on the cap, in time to see Daeron duck back into the bathroom. "You alright?" he asked, obvious concern in his voice. Earlier thoughts of a serious illness jumped back to the fore and he was seriously concerned. What if this guy was going into some sort of chemo-induced shock and needed medical attention? Topher pushed the door open in the bathroom and followed him in. "Yo, Daeron...everything okay? You feeling alright?"

A door towards the end slammed shut when Topher entered, a nervous reaction on the student's part, "Uh... yah. Skin's been weird lately, I'm reacting to something... fine otherwise, really. Don't worry, just weird allergies. Don't wait up!" He called again, willing the other man away as he inspected his body and found he was rather hairless (not so bad) but his skin was peeling in several places, scaly at joints like his neck. "What is going on?" He grumbled to himself, picking at the skin in confusion. He was molting? Sick? Dying even? He had no idea... and his dorm sounded like a very good idea. Just needed to get rid of the stranger.

If there was one man who wasn't one to step away from a fellow being in need, it was Topher Bier. He was stubborn in his mild way, and genuinely cared about other people - even those he just met. Moreover, he was accustomed to consoling people who'd had weird things start happening to their bodies. He remembered still, all too clearly, how terrified he'd been when he'd started changing, and the alienation he'd suffered, first to his brother, and then to his mother. He had no idea if this was anything like it, but if there was something he could offer to help, he was ready to give it. In a soothing, non-confrontational voice he spoke as he stepped towards the final stall. "Allergies, you say?" He asked lightly, trying to calm the other through words alone. "Not severe I hope? Can I get you anything? A drink, perhaps, or something from the campus pharmacy?"

"Skin... irritations. Like... bad laundry soap." Daeron replied, distracted, offering the same excuse he'd given his friends time and again. His clothing had apparently rubbed his skin off... it was so weird, but he didn't feel ill! "Severe enough to... well. Never mind." Then he seized on the offer and nodded though the other couldn't see, "Something from the pharmacy would be good... some kind of moisturizer, maybe... Skin's all scaly. Thanks." 'Course, with the other gone it would give an opportunity to run... but he tried to hide that from his voice as he spoke. He'd never been very good at the whole deception thing.

"Irritations, eh? Like Eczema?" He asked, rifling through his pack as he replied. He fished out his well-loved bottle of Aveeno moisturizer and offered it over the stall. "My skin gets pretty dry when I'm doing courses in bad weather. This stuff always does a charm for me... Feel free to use as much as you want." He was still a little baffled by the other's insistence on hiding though. If it was just scaly skin, what was the big deal? "You can come out, you know. I'm not going to freak, or anything. Believe me," he added, conviction in his voice. "I have some weird friends. I doubt you can top them."

"Yeah... like that." He mumbled, silently cursing himself. "Ah... yes, yes you will. Don't worry. I'm fine, got a doctor's appointment next week anyway. I have some weird friends too... but shedding and molting hardly fall into that category. Man, I need a shower." He was itchy all over and the more he scratched, the more came loose.... He tried one last time to get rid of Topher, trying to put his most convincing tone into his speech, "You really don't have to worry about me. Go talk to your business friend, hey? Don't let me keep you."

Topher got as far as hearing the phrase "shedding and molting" and his brain jumped track. His sense of smell was pretty good as a human, but not quite as adept as some of his fellows at picking up that distinct aroma of the children of Gaea. He did a quick scan to make sure they were alone and then let his bear snout come out to better smell with... He breathed deeply, that distinct huffling sound of a big animal sniffing the air. He picked up the scent of reptile, and fear, and a mix of annoyance and distraction. He shook out the snout, and waited for his face to revert to normal before attempting to speak. "Ah, well, no need to worry about that, friend." He said, coming back towards the stall door and squatting down so that his arms and bent knees were visible to Daeron. "I know it's a bit scary at first, but you'll grow more comfortable with it in time. I did." He paused, not knowing how much to say if this guy hadn't actually made his first change yet. "But, you're not alone. There are a lot of people out there with...similar conditions as you."

Daeron stared at the door with a look of concern at the sound of huffed sniffing... what in the world? He shook his head, better off not asking. You were usually better off that way on campus anyway. "Grow more comfortable...? What are you talking about?" He eyed the arms and legs that became visible at the stall's bottom and frowned, "Hey. Don't be looking in now... I'm not that sort of fellow. And my condition is just some bad skin. Jeeze." He was getting irritated, now, snappish and he felt cornered. For a moment be considered kicking the door then remembered they swung inward rather than out and he'd only hurt his foot. "Look... just leave me alone, okay? Go talk to your girl. I'm fine." There was shuffling as he arranged himself, covered the bumps on his wrists and set his hat and shirt back in place then took a deep breath, and eyed the other as he opened the door, face to face, "Don't know what you're playing at, friend. But I'm fine. If you need my friend, his dorm's on the fifth floor, room two-oh-one." He neglected to mention it was his dorm too but he figured he'd just make himself scarce if this guy turned up again. "Just fine. See?" It might have worked if his eyes weren’t slits, and crystal clear where before they were sort of dull - though that was easily attributed to overly long hours of studying.

Topher stood up as the door opened and Daeron reappeared, defensive and angry. Topher raised his hands, palms open and spread. "Woah, now, hear me out... I can help... I, er, have a condition too... Look..." And he extended one open hand There he allowed a little of his bear fur to come through, glossy and darkest brown. But no matter how you looked at it, this wasn't body hair, it was clearly fur. He paused, keeping eye contact with Daeron. "I really think you should come with me. You're getting close to a full out molt, and it'd be better if you were in safe company when that happens..." He paused, realizing he didn't know a whole lot about reptiles, and secretly prayed that his friend didn't turn out to be poisonous. The last thing he wanted was a deadly bite and a demon on his case.

Daeron's eyes narrowed, his brow drawing down in a look of... repulsed recognition, "So... what? You're a hair-stealing demon now? That's not funny." Still, he could tell it wasn't normal hair... whose hair grew that fast anyway? He shook his head, "Full out molt? What do you think I am? Some kind of bird? I'm not going to sprout wings and fly away. Safe company is my dorm, but thanks. Life's weird enough without following a fuzzy stranger around... What makes you think my problem's.... whatever your problem is anyway, hm? You're a mechanic not a doctor." Irritation was plain in his voice as he rolled a shoulder, clearly itchy.

Topher winced a little under the verbal assault. "I'm trying to help you, honest I am... You don't know what it is that's happening to you, I know that. Could it be so strange that I do know what I'm talking about? That I went through something like this myself? Here, tell me if this sounds familiar at all: You started having this random itching, and then patches of you grew...well, in my case fur - in yours scales? And they seemed to flake off, to fall out. But it got worse at certain times of the month, and when they did, you got this urge in you, like right in the pit of your belly, like you had to do something - whatever it is you love most. Like a burning need for it, a focused passion where it was all-consuming? And you started to get a taste for strange foods you never used to crave..." He kept eye contact while speaking, in the same, calm voice, looking to see if the recognition was there. He thought hard, what sort of symptoms might a reptile experience that he - a mammal - had not? "Heat?" He asked, hope that he was striking the right chords. "You started craving heat? Finding yourself unreasonably cold unless you were in the sun, or near the heater, like no matter what you wore, you just couldn't warm up on the inside? And a sudden sensitivity to motion, like it just captures your interest for no reason?" He stopped. He was nearly breathless with the tension. But he couldn't let Daeron go, not in the condition he was in. He wanted to make a friend here, and he knew all too well what would happen if he had to restrain him by force. Hadn't he himself suffered a similar beginning? He needed to avoid it at all costs, and if that meant inducing Daeron to change, so be it....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Distant Star - Log 06 - First Contact

Distant Star - Log 06 - First Contact

"Curious." It was likely the fourth time he'd said the word in the last hour. Not more than that, just 'curious' in an increasingly perplexed tone. It seemed strange that he might need to confer with another about the results of the equipment on his ship. There was only two other beings in the universe he would ever deem to have knowledge surpassing his own about the workings of his treasure of a Ship, and they were a Prodigal Genius and a Veritable God, respectively. However, these were not the normal circumstances. And so it went that Jack went romping off through the ship, from the Navigation Chamber, all through the decks and down the ladders towards the door that lead to the Library linked to his Estate House. He entered in a long-legged stride, and swept the room with a glance upon entering for sign of his guest.

Viira was perched on a high-backed chair, one foot settled on the knee of the other leg as she leaned over the desk reading from the gift Jack had given her. It was quickly proven more efficient just to read in the library to forgo the recording of the books she was in the process of reading. In particular, this one seemed to be a manual on the movements and interactions of celestial bodies as evidenced by the scribbled circles and lines and sigils denoting numbers on a spare sharkskin she'd procured. The fishbone quill was well stained and used the decorative spines at the top broken in places. She'd been diagramming the process currently described in said text for her own understanding, or rather trying to, when Jack came in. She glanced up and smiled, sitting back as she set the quill down, "Hello Jack. You've got perfect timing, could you check these diagrams see if my understanding is correct? I think I am... but it's hard to picture." She gestured as the pair of bladder-balls she'd been using as a visual aid with a sort of 'I feel like a kid' embarrassed expression.

Jack strode across the library floor, taking in the smell of rubbed cloves that his servants had put in the diffuser over the fireplace. He allowed himself to be momentarily distracted from his own course of action and came up beside her, glancing at her notes, at the page she was currently at (lifting the edge of Fnellian's Tome gently to peek at the text hidden beneath). "Ah, you've understood the principles well enough, though the theories are a little skewed in this case, you see..." He pointed to a slight orbital inconsistency and made a few lines of correction in shape rather than text for her benefit. "Do you see what the difference means, when it comes to the course taken to apogee?" He put down the bone quill and rubbed idly at the ink stains on his skin in lieu. "I actually have a few questions for you, Madame... I'm not sure what aspects of your world in specific are causing it, but something is wrecking havoc on my instruments. I do hope you might be able to account for it..."

She drew a few associated lines of implication then nodded, a thoughtful expression on her face as she tapped the top of the quill against her cheek. When he spoke his question, Viira blinked and looked up, tilting the brim of her favourite hat up a little more so she could properly see him, "Pardon? I don't know. Possibly, those chances are no - your equipment's so strange to me still. What's the question? Your ship's not, ah... damaged for some reason is it?"

Jack slouched back into himself, hips cocked forward, shoulders slumped forward, spine collapsed into a switchback on an S. "Nay, no damages... But, the instruments in the Navigation Chamber, the Levy Sphere in particular is nearly unintelligible." He paused, looking at her, and then realizing, he might be speaking Klergian for all she cared, he tried to think of a way of phrasing it that might be more accessible. "Er... The Levy Sphere... The, er...piece of equipment mounted into the ship's hull like...a nervous system? It picks up on Leyline sources so that it can pick them a magnet? And relay them to the Alembic for conversion into usable energy..." He trailed off, squinting at her, wondering if he was helping or hindering the issue.

She peered at him, clearly trying to understand what he was saying but not quite getting it. Then came the explanation and a look of understanding dawned, "Oh, you're trying to get a fix on them? If you can do that, the world over would be impressed, methinks. You can't draw energy if you can't properly target them, right?" Viira seemed rather amused, "Either that, or they're messing with you."

"Messing with me..." He repeated uselessly, still squinting. Then he shook himself out and blinked rapidly, as if waking up. "Leylines don't move where I'm from. Or rather, they move in terms of eons, and so are imperceptible for the purposes of measuring or tapping into. Aether dust drifts, but it is a different energy source. It looks like what my equipment is trying to do is track aether dust when all of its senses are telling it that it isn't aether dust at all, but Leyline energy. It's as if a fish were calmly swimming through the sky with no water at all, and someone asked you to calculate its speed of flight." A short pause, a hand gesture as he tried to relate his analogy to the current discussion, "The Fish being a Leyline out of its element, if you see the light?"

She laughed, "They do here all the bloody time, it's next to impossible to find them if they don't want to be found. You're probably trying to toss a rope around the wind, my friend. Sails are better suited." Winking, she marked her place and rose, shutting the book. "If they're moving, it's because they're not sleeping... and I highly doubt any Leyline's out of its element - they're as old as the planet, Jack. I don't know much about them but the lore all says they're the most potent beings that exist here. I'm pretty some crazy cults on the mainland worship them.... and I can't really blame the cultists either, if those same legends are to be believed, you want on your side. I have a scroll if you want? It's not aged well though, so I'd be careful." She gestured at the door, then paused a moment, "Well, /they/ don't move - the lines that is - but their souls or thoughts or whatever do. Are your leylines not intelligent?" Viira seemed perplexed by the notion; Leylines were the stuff of legends and fairytales to the people of the planet, mainland and sea alike.

Jack stared at her. "Your Leylines are to our Mystics..." He murmured and then he paused, thumbing his earlobe. "Our Leylines aren't sentient, nay, nor are they alive. They are pockets of energy, same as there are deposits of ore." He thought on this, vaguely trailing after her, not quite looking at anything in particular. "If they are alive, with souls and thoughts, as you say, can a part of them even -be- taken? Am I chasing a Latimian through the woods, or is this honestly a viable method of recharging my ship?" He paused by the ledger, a thumb on the pages, idly pressing at its texture, ink forgotten and dried on his callus.

"Eh?" She blinked then tilted her head, "Ah, yeah, they can be taken. Though you're probably needing a lot of what they have to offer, right? You'll have to ask one yourself. S'far as I know, all the magic users draw their power from the Leylines - as in use them. I've never heard of one not being used unless they cut their connection off...." Viira pursed her lips, "I've never even seen one, to be honest, so I have no idea what to tell you. I only know they're tied to the cycles of energy inherent to the planet and that they're both sentient and capable of movement... and not the kind of people you want to piss off. Like I said, the lore scroll might be more useful? But if your instruments have odd readings it's likely because they're trying to track the Leylines as they move – the chart I gave you is just their physical locations. I can't do anything about where they actually are, sorry. They're not the sort to just come when called."

"They aren't, eh? What I would give to bring the Speak Box with me when I travelled. Unfortunately, I don't think they know the old Codes, your Leylines. Still, always was a good way to get the attention of all-powerful beings when you needed to." He grinned a little rakishly at old memories that had yet to lose their shine. "Summoning...summoning..." He murmured, and reached both hands into his pockets well-past his wrists, searching for something. After a moment he drew forth a crown. The thing was delicate and slender, a little too small to fit properly around Jack's skull, and instead sat atop his black hair when he chose to don it. The thing looked as though it was carved of hollow glass, with filaments of captured light running through it, and set into this flowing swirl of circlet were seven small orbs, like water droplets, each containing the light of a star, glimmering and flickering as if pulled from the heavens themselves. He lifted it in both hands, letting the circlet rest on his upturned palms. "May this finally find a use, I wonder..."

Viira stopped to watch him, a bemused expression on her features, "I still haven't gotten used to you doing that. I half expect you'll disappear entirely into a pocket one of these days, just curl and poof." When he produced his diadem, she tilted her head to the side, "And how is wearing a tiara supposed to summon a Leyline?" It was beautiful to behold, yes, and she was certain it was important - nearly everything of Jack's had some obscure purpose or two, she'd learned quickly enough - but to one not trained in the arts she saw only finely crafted crystal spun through with light. Meanwhile, as Jack donned the diadem, a ripple played out across the ambient, passive energies that permeated the channels of connection the Leylines often considered private. A new figure, a soul wholly alien to them, and it caught attention immediately. Three consciousnesses flashed like lightning across Jack's and though two swiftly faded, one lingered and an impression of a figure, humanoid in shape and lit from within seemed to regard him curiously for a moment before it too faded. Viira, ignorant of this, fixed the tilt of her hat as she turned to go, "What does it do?"

Jack placed the thing on his dark hair, the twinkling sending a play of reflected light cascading across his dark locks, his quet sticking up from under it like untended bed head. It sat a little askew, looking completely incongruent with the rest of his appearance and attire. Seemingly careless of how silly he looked, he swept his glance around the room, although his depth of sight was clearly not fixed on the material. Jack registered the shock of the minds pressing against his and swayed nearly drunkenly on his feet. His sky-legs gave him enough flexibility not to topple, and swiftly enough two of the minds drifted away, leaving him to pull himself upright again. One remained, yet, one shining being, as if it too were made of the materials used to craft the Diadem. Jack had enough time to register this, and then it left him, physically, he left the loss of it as if a great sorrow passed through him. He staggered again and then, hands shaking, reached out for the nearest stable thing to steady himself. He forced himself to breathe deeply, felt his heartbeat more quickened in his ribs than it had been in a decade or more. As he forced himself back to calm, he became away of Viira's voice, though it was nothing more than unintelligible sounds to him. He squinted, saw a smudge, an impression, and tore the crown off with an effort. The solid world clarified, Viira resolved from a smudge and he gasped, "Whot??"

Viira had stepped closer to him as he swayed and reached blindly out, offering her shoulder to steady him, a look of concern on her features, "I said 'what does it do'? Are you alright? You're pale..." The tone in her voice warned him not to lie and shrug it off. "Jack...." Elsewhere, a flurry of communications flickered across the Leylines, causing wards and spells to fluctuate oddly for several moments before they settled. When it did, a single mind seemed to focus and pull together into a knot of energy. Heartbeats later a young man gasped as his eyes burned and shone bright, glowing like starlight, then he too settled, rose and walked out the door, leaving the hot meal he'd just sat down to untouched.

"I can't die, remember... No need to worry about me..." He replied hoarsely, still trying to accustom himself to the shock of that. He hadn't needed to use this one of his Treasures before, as the Mystics were visible to the naked eye unless they were using their Arts to cloak themselves. He hadn't known what to expect, especially not on another world... Finding her eyes, he held her glance for a moment and in all seriousness said, "I'm not sure if that did anything I'd expected, but I think whatever it was that just happened...worked." He exhaled then, and swaying over to the nearest chair sank into it. "By the Leylines, I need a sit."

"Rergardless, you still feel pain, you're not a block of wood." She frowned at him then huffed, "Immortal or not, I'm still going to worry if Mr. Wonderpockets suddenly staggers.... though I'm half convinced you're made of noodles now too." Viira chuckled and shook her head, finding it was easy to forget he was as infamous and tough as he said he was. "That's all well and good, but what's it actually for? I'm assuming it's some new... gizmo of yours?" She grinned, having picked up a new word she rather liked the sound of from the texts.

"Aye, constant pain... Though that is not what currently ails me. I feel as if I have just been plunged into the darkness of eternity, or unceremoniously into ice water after touching the fire of creation." he pressed a hand to his face and then shook his head, the Diadem still clutched like a discus ring in his other fist. "Never mind my ramblings; I think I am yet scrambled. And more an Artifact than a Gizmo, m'dear." He added, the hand dropping away from his brow as he sagged back into the chair, his gaze finding hers, a wan smile on his still-pale lips, the grey eyes deep and dark with the weight of things he'd experienced brought fresh to the fore. "The Stellar Diadem, crafted for the line of Emperors of the Mystic races... Eons ago, by most accounts. It was said that then they were but a single species, not the many fractious races they are now, and that they held a time when they ruled the universe as a child stages wars with his toys. The legends vary, but the essence is this: The then-Emperor was gorged on his own power and satisfied with his lordly might to the point where he chose to make for himself a symbol that he was master of all creation. So, he plucked from the heavens Seven glittering stars from the far-flung quarters of the heavenly firmament, one for each of the Moons he ruled. He set them into his own crown, and replaced it on his head. When he did so, he was aghast to discover that he was but a small god walking in the world of giant, powerful, ancient energies that had existed long before his line had risen, and would be long after his empire had passed to dust. Humbled, and terrified, the Emperor spoke unto these giants of power and begged them forgive his hubris for being himself all-mighty. The Ancient Spirits did not care to heed him, except for one, (some say the youngest and most curious, other the eldest and wisest) and this being came unto him and said: Weep not little king, for you have power yet to take these seven suns from the blackness where they offered light and warmth to many worlds and all their peoples. Because of your power and might, they have all been snuffed out. You have the power to take away the light of stars that were once seen y all who gazed in wonder at the heavens, and now they are for your eyes only. You have the power to place yourself here amongst the powers of the universe, and be unseen. Horrified, the emperor snatched the crown from his brow and the beings all vanished from his sight. They say that he decreed that his kingdom should fall and his line of heirs go barren and fade away, for their dominance meant nothing. Others say he would don the crown every night and went mad with the visions it gave him. Others say he went on to rule for many more decades, and that after each great triumph or victory, he would don it again to remind himself of humility." Jack exhaled, the colour returned to his face and sat forward a little. "Whatever the end of the tale, the truth of history remains: there is no longer, and never again will be, an Emperor of the Mystics, nor an Empire for them to rule."

She leaned back against the wall beside Jack as he started in on his tale, crossing her arms beneath her breasts, regarding him with curiousity. Viira, smiled however, and nodded towards the end, "I think that's one of the checks here... one of the factors balancing everything. It doesn't matter if you're Korinthian or from the continent, everyone knows and acknowledges the Leylines. Our societies would be very different without them. I know there's legends where they take an avatar and incite change, level things out but I've no idea if that's true." She pushed off from the wall and arched a brow, "Is that what you did then? Talked to the Leylines? If I remember correctly, our position is nearest the parallel lines, we call them the twins because they run at the same angle and are the same distance throughout their lengths." Pointing at her feet, she smiled, "They run through the ocean's bed." "So if it worked, you got their attention?" She understood a little better now, why he seemed so unbalanced and wondered what it must be like to encounter one of the creatures unbound. "Did you still want to see that scroll or is that moot now?"

"Not so much talked was seen by them. They know I am, and I they." Jack pushed himself with a grunt to his feet and waited a moment for the tingles of pain to trickle through his body. "Twins, say you? I felt the presence of three, but only one took form before me. A single body. But we did not speak before it left again..." He looked at her, considering her information and question carefully. "I'm not sure, in all honesty. I do not know which of them paused long enough to eyeball me, and as I said, it left again - I know not for where. My guess would be getting closer to it that stepped forward might make it easier to establish some form of normal - or at least closer to normal - contact. The problem is I don't know how to tell the difference between them. Would your scroll help discern which Leyline we might be chasing?"

"I see..." She frowned, thinking back over what she remembered from the scroll, "It gives general temperaments but there's no guarantee it's remotely correct - the legends tend to be three quarters conjecture. And, like I said, they're next to impossible to find if they don't want to be found. But.... supposing you caught the attention of those nearby..." Viira smiled, "I can take a guess as to who's who via that chart? We're not near the Prime or the Equator, so it probably wasn't them. Where's that chart?" She asked, tucking a stray fall of hair back behind her ear, "We never use that one otherwise I'd know it by heart."

"Never use it? A useful reference then..." Jack replied dryly, following her lead. "As I said, I felt three, two that left almost immediately, and one who lingered, stared right at me, then melted away." He paused. "I didn't get a long enough moment with them to be able to explain personalities or temperaments, I'm afraid though. I was left with the sadness, as I said, but I feel that was for their departure, not their sentiments." He was thoughtful, a tad retrospective, still clutching the diadem fiercely.

Viira frowned at him, "I navigate by the stars and skies, Jack, and the waves beneath my ship, not by invisible beings of power. It's a piece of information not many have any more, so yes a useful reference." Eyeing him a moment she stepped past, "Oh? They weren't upset? That's good to know." Her gaze flicked to the diadem and she pursed her lips, "Why not try again? If they weren't upset, then calling out again can't hurt. Can it?" She shrugged, "Beats the chart if you can ask one directly."

"I can don it, of course." Jack replied, looking around the corridor for a moment to no purpose. "But I recommend I stop moving to do so, or I might fall over this time." He had no more to say on the scroll until he had seen it. He knew as little of the workings of her world, and how they navigated as she did his, it seemed. It was a sentiment he was swiftly growing accustomed to. He drew up a fair distance between glass lanterns and, taking a deep breath to steel himself, once more replaced the Stellar Diadem to his dark hair.

She nodded and came alongside him as he stopped, keeping near in case his legs gave out regardless and watched expectantly. The thrum that had greeted him the first time he'd donned the circlet did so once more in an almost idle answer to some unintentional call. Nearly immediately a shudder rippled through the plane of awareness and a section seemed to grow cold, dark... empty, as if the space was in fact there but something had chosen to exclude him. The fabric of energies about him warped and shifted as the rest of the ambient forces reflexively picked up the slack and the cold drifted into a distant chill. In the heartbeats of that reaction, which carried tones of discomfort, the being from before suddenly sighed, the sound as if at Jack's ear. No words were spoken, simply impressions given. Firstly, Jack's toys were irritating in the way sand in the trousers were irritating. Secondly, patience... and thirdly, a half joking quip about caution with such things lest he burn his mind out. There was an undercurrent of discomfort too, but it seemed to tolerate the sensation of Jack's consciousness long enough to impart its sentiments before it too went cold and the threads of energy Jack's diadem were drawing on and connected to cut off entirely. It was more abrupt then it was rough, like cutting power to a music player.

Jack paid close attention to the responses, and as swiftly as he could without seeming rude or careless for their warnings and chill greetings, he pushed out his thought in his words: "I am Black Jack Finnegan of Terrene - a world far from yours. I have been stranded here, and do not wish or mean to disrupt the world's fabric any more than I already have done... I am in need of energy to repower my ship and so return to my own world. Would you be willing to co-operate with me and my equipment long enough to help me home?" His words rippled out from him, as if a vibration on a violin string, melodious and strong. Though he knew he spoke words of his own tongue, to his ears (and to Viira listening) they sounded only like song, and the song that Jack's spirit sang was fraught with sorrow, with great weight of conscience, with heartbreak and loss, a deep, tireless existence without end, rippling on and on despite the sands of time. His was a soul made of a stone that could not be eroded, a metal that could not be corrupted, and the depth of it vibrated beneath the notes of his actions, his worth and his destiny in a beautiful but haunting melody.

It was, perhaps, the song of his soul that drew the attentive one back more so then the request that came with the melody. Strings of light flared across Jack's vision, visible, empowered spider webs of whatever made up the Leyline's plane. They wafted in the air a moment, drifting in the slight air currents of the Ptarmigan’s room before they drew nearer and through Jack. As bright as they were, their insubstantial nature was surprising and when then drifted within in him, a voice very much akin to a youth's, though its feel belied its age, sounded in Jack's mind, "I said patience. Understood? We've noticed your presence from the moment you tore through us, it's unkind to give a stranger such an ache of the body, you understand." The being seemed to arch a brow, quirk a lip, "You're also very loud. Simmer down young one. Wait. Your ship makes port soon, yes? Meet me there. Look for the gawkers." A laugh and a wave and the threads faded, drifting into transparency once more, "And don't use that device again. You have any idea how irritating it is?"

"I haven't any idea no. In an attempt to contact you did I use it..." Jack replied humbly. "If you forbid its use here, I will heed your wishes, of course, but then how ought I contact you?" He replied, leaving all other feelings and responses to the warning and the admonishment for the silence. He was not about to apologize again, as his speaking to them this way seemed an irritation, it was best he not waste time of manners that served no purpose, to the point, quickly, and so quit its use as soon as he could. Though he did not mean to, the Diadem carried these sentiments with his words of reply, and even untrained as he was he caught the drift of them there, mingled in the notes, and knew that they, being more trained to this form of communication would hear them. Too much said, loud as he had been chastised, despite his efforts to say little.

"Use something native to this realm?" The voice returned quickly, bemused, "You utilize things not made to resonate with this world and so it does not fit. You're twisting the tendrils into knots every time you use one. You're a bright man, I'm sure you can figure it out. Alternatively, wait the time it takes to travel and speak to me in person. You're always so impatient..." The voice faded then and silence reined. Enough that Viira's words might break through whatever fog of vision Jack might be in. "Jack? Well? What's going on? Did it work?" Her head was tilted to the side, watchful and more than a little curious. "What's it like? To speak to them?"

Jack blinked at that. He had been accused of many things, sloth, laziness, carelessness, rashness, but impatience? Never, if anything he took too much time because he had it to burn. His efforts for haste here were to their benefit...were they not? Nevermind. He removed the Diadem and breathed deeply as the world bowed and wobbled and then returned to normal. He cleared his senses enough that he heard the last two questions and focused his stormy glance on her. "In person, it said. Am I to expect some manner of flesh and blood, or shall I simply look for a cluster of lights in port?" he felt the tingling roll through him, and the itch of pain as his Mark of Eight devoured the sensation in the effort to return him to his ever-stasis. "We must make to port, and soon, I think, so as not to keep your fleshy Leyline waiting." He glanced once more at the diadem and then stuffed it back into his pocket. "I am not to use anymore of my gadgets, I am told." He grumbled mostly to himself, but aloud. Not use them...not use them? Had they no idea that they were his charge, his purpose? No, likely not. Jack, Jack, here you are not Black Jack Finnegan, here you are simply Jonothan...skip even the Lord. You are nothing to them but a flea, one best shook off quickly, remember that.