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Nerin looked out the window and down the winding length of street that led past Sethwick’s Soothing Parlor and Lounge. It was late afternoon, but night had already fallen here in the 7th Octant neighborhood of the Hollows, shadowed by tenements. It wasn’t quite a bad part of town, but neither was it good - at least, that’s what old Jeb said. As far as Nerin was concerned, the Hollows were just fine. The people here were rich enough to pay her but miserable enough to come looking. That’s all she needed. She’d once asked Jeb who Sethwick was, to which the old Soother had replied “some fine dandy git.” Nerin took that to mean that Jeb had made him up, and she didn’t blame him really. “Jeb’s Soothing Parlor and Lounge” rolled off the tongue with all the grace of two horse shoes jangling in a sack. It was so much easier to lie about such things. It was expected, really. No one ever really trusted a Soother anyhow, so you might as well spin a pretty fiction. The clock on the wall hit five and Nerin got up from her seat by the window to light the little gaslamp outside the door. She pulled her coat tighter at the autumn chill, cupping her match as she reached inside the blue glass lantern and lit the wick. It caught with a stuttering flare of yellow, then shrunk to its usual steady glow as she closed the little hinged glass door. The lamp cast a calm haze of blue around the poch, a luring kind halo of light. Come forget, it beckoned. For just a moment, all your troubles will melt away. Nerin looked out at the street one more time, then went back inside. Jeb was wiping down glasses at the bar, setting them behind the polished wooden countertop and counting out the money in the till. “It’s a chill evening,” Nerin said, tapping one finger on the bar and nodding toward the wall of liquor bottles. “I imagine it’ll be the hard and dark stuff tonight.” Jeb nodded, not looking up from his counting. He was a good-looking man for his age, somewhere north of forty and south of sixty, with coal-black hair shot through with silver and tied at the nape of his neck. He had keen eyes, flinty and sharp, which matched his proud nose and angled chin. His skin was paler than most, likely from years cooped up inside parlors like this one, though he’d kept up his physique through the years -- Nerin cocked her head. What am I thinking? She cast a withering glance at Jeb, whose mouth had started to quirk up ever-so slightly. “Stop trying to Soothe me into your bed, old man,” she said dryly. “I’ll have a glass of red, and none of that Callingfale dreg you buy cheap. I want the real stuff. It’s going to be a long night, I can feel it.” Jeb reached behind the bar and drew out a bottle, pouring her a generous glass. He slid it across the bartop and winked at her. “I can’t make you feel nothin’ you don’t already have cookin’ up there, love,” he said, smirking. Nerin rolled her eyes. “I’m a Soother, not a grave robber.” Jeb chuckled and she walked towards the back room, wine glass in hand, savoring the last moments of quiet dusky evening before her shift began. It was time to begin the business of forgetting.
On the eastern edges of Alleycity stood a large, stone tower. The tower was crooked, it's walls seemed to spiral around themselves as they grew from the ground and culminated in a metal tip which resembled a satellite dish. The door to the tower stood open, a young man in his early teens waited in a fine suit, holding the door ajar and greeting visitors as they arrived. Invitations had been sent out to a number of individuals, requests had been posted in taverns and missives had been sent to various guilds, all to try to gather people in this tower for an expedition. They'd kept the invitations brief and to the point, a somewhat eccentric scientist had discovered a rift in the cognitive realm, while the cognitive realm was already a convenient means of travel to distant places it still took some time, and this rift in particular seemed special. It was a rift to an entirely unknown section of the universe, or perhaps a different universe altogether. Some early groups had passed through and begun to scout out the area, reporting constellations that didn't match anything that had been previously recorded. But now a larger expedition had been requested, and they needed volunteers. "Good day sir, my name is Gedwyn, may I take your coat?" The young man at the door asked as a man walked briskly up to the door. "Thank you sir, the gathering is just through that door, to the right of the stair case." He gestured towards a set of double doors on the interior that led into a large room, larger than seemed possible given the dimensions of the tower, filled with large comfortable couches, a warm rug and a roaring fireplace. A trio of other men and women, dressed as waiters, circled the room. They offered drinks and food to those waiting in the interior.