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  1. A small figure lurked in the shadows, observing the masquerade with interest. Not interest for the dancing and political positioning. No. He was looking for someone. Someone to kill. The MaiPon forger had one goal, and one goal alone. Destroy the Rose Empire, once and for all. He’d heard rumors of an imbalance in power, and knew it was time to strike. If only he could remove those in power and those vying for it. No one else would be strong enough to take control. Glory was getting too close, though. They were on the cusp of seizing the empire, and his window would be closed. The masquerade, though, made it nearly impossible for him to find the right targets. It’s why he lurked, waiting for the right moment. --- It’s time. Daasu edged his way through the thinning crowd. One person stood out among them. One person whom Daasu knew was leading the rebellion. The mouse. Daasu’s red eyes, veiled by the swan costume, kept focused on the person who stood in the middle of the crowd. Several people were accusing her of being a traitor, but no one was acting. This was not a time for talking. Daasu approached the group, knife concealed in his hand. “I’m not the one you all seem to be hunting,” said the mouse. She pointed toward a figure standing by the food table. “That man, there. The albatross. He’s done nothing to help us find the culprit.” A few people began to nod in agreement. Daasu glared at the woman. How did no one else see it? She was manipulating them. Gritting his teeth against doubt, Daasu stumbled forward, knife concealed in one hand and a glass poised in the other. He crashed into the woman’s side, pretending to catch himself on her arm. The glass shattered and the knife slid smoothly through the fur and fabric, into skin. The mouse cursed, shoving Daasu away and lifting a hand to her now bleeding arm. “I’m sorry,” he said, feigning subservience. “You’re too drunk, man. Go home.” Daasu nodded and bowed, leaving quickly with the blood he needed. --- The mouse pulled her hand away from her arm to find a lot more blood than he’d expected from a simple broken glass. She cursed again as she watched the drunken swan retreat. She’d need to get this seen to before carrying out the rest of her plans. With a heavy sigh, she waved for servants to join her at the edge of the room. “How can we help you,” one said with a bow. “Just get me a bandage for now. I have more important things to do than this.” They complied, and within minutes had her arm bandaged and costume roughly sewn back together. It wasn’t beautiful, but it would function. The mouse stood and made her way toward the falcon. “Would you mind joining me? I’d like to discuss some matters with you.” He looked up at her, picked up a few strange items from the table next to him, and followed. “Are you enjoying yourself this evening?” she asked kindly. “Not entirely. It feels strange to still be holding a masquerade even after the emperor died. Shouldn’t we all be in mourning?” “We can enter mourning when this is done. For now, we honor his wishes to continue the festival.” The falcon nodded. She was leading him through the hallways behind the hall, usually used only by the servants ferrying food to and from the parties. “Are you concerned about me? I know you’ve had your doubts.” “Not as much as others. The albatross does seem rather strange, though. Maybe he’s the murderer?” The mouse smiled. It was the response she’d desired, but she still couldn’t trust him. She looked forward in the hall, finally finding what she’d needed. An open doorway with a lock. “The albatross is my concern as well. They’ve seemed content to let us remove ourselves.” The doorway was only a few steps away. Keep him distracted. “I think we should remove him today.” “I agree. However-” The mouse didn’t let him finish. She shoved the falcon through the doorway, slamming it shut behind him. With all her weight and strength, she kept the door pressed closed as she fumbled for the key. Something hit her in the side - her cut arm - and she recoiled with a cry of pain. She turned and found a skeletal looming over her. Behind the skeletal was a pale figure with red eyes. Daasu. The cursed bloodsealer. “How dare you,” she screamed. “You dare attack an arbiter?” “Yes.” The skeletal struck forward again, swinging a club toward her head. She ducked away, but still felt the wind from the club. She backed away, panicking. The skeletal advanced. It’s menacing grin chilled her to the bone. It struck again. She could not move fast enough. I --- “That’s enough,” Daasu commanded. The skeletal stopped, standing above the motionless body. His only command was to disable the woman, not kill her. A breathless falcon emerged from the room. His eyes grew wide as he looked at the skeletal and down at the fallen woman. The skeletal turned to him, but did not move. The falcon grasped something in his hand and hurled it toward the bones. The object - a small statue of a fish - crashed into Daasu’s creation. The heavy object shattered the skeletal’s skull, and the whole construct collapsed into a heap of bone and armor. Daasu ran before he could be the next victim of a crazed falcon. He took a deep breath as he exited into open air. The loss of one of his creations would be nothing in the end. Not if it meant saving the Empire. A force struck him in the side and a searing pain erupted. He looked down to find a crossbow bolt lodged between his ribs. Another one struck, just a few inches above. Daasu looked to where the bolts came from and saw a pale mask in the shadows. Another bolt struck and he fell. The pale mask appeared above him, stark against the black sky. “You cannot stop us now, bloodsealer.” --- The forger kept an eye on the mouse and falcon as they left the room. Were they conspiring together? A consensus had been reached, and albatross had been dragged away. Another member of Heritage, taken to be slaughtered at the will of a paranoid aristocracy. It had to end. The forger - clad that night as a tuatara - decided to find the falcon and mouse. Stepping quietly into a darkened hallway, he pulled out a small box. A box he would never leave behind, and never lose. His soul was in that box. His hand passed over the Grand. The vote had already been made. It hesitated over the Urchin. Maybe he should hide another night. Survive just one more time. No. The time to strike is now. He grasped the Warrior stamp, and placed it on his skin. It sank in after a moment’s resistance, and he turned it, sealing the stamp for now. Years of training in the art of ChayShan flooded his mind. It was not time to hid, nor time to manipulate. It was time to kill. The forger stepped out of the shadowed hallway, muscles suddenly more tense, more responsive. Soon, he came across the scene he’d not quite expected. The mouse, unconcious or dead on the floor. A pile of bones - he recoiled with a hiss. A bloodsealer. Standing above them was the falcon. “So you are one of them,” the forger said. “What? One of the Glory? No!” The protests seemed forced. With a lithe grace only accessible to the forger as the Warrior, he stepped forward. The falcon reached down, picking up a small statue. He held it up menacingly. “Don’t come any closer.” His words meant nothing. The forger advanced. With a grunt, the falcon hurled the statue forward, but the forger easily dodged, closing the distance between them. Sweeping his leg low, he kicked the falcon’s legs from under him. He fell with a thump and groan of pain. There was no time to waste. The forger pounced, striking vital organs and breaking bones. Within moments, the falcon was nothing but a motionless heap on the floor. The mouse stirred beside him. She’s not dead? She lifted a hand to her head, then looked around at the scene. A deep laugh burst from her, echoing with a haunting air in the stone hallway. Magenta Albatross was lynched! They were a member of the Heritage Faction. Coral Swan was killed! They were a Bloodsealer for the Heritage Faction. Emerald Falcon was killed! They were a member of the Heritage Faction. The Glory Faction has won! Congratulations! Vote Count: Azure Mouse (1) - Cream Tuatara Magenta Albatross (3) - Azure Mouse, Emerald Falcon, Melon Dingo Player Count Docs: Dead/Spec Doc Glory Faction Doc GM Spreadsheet Rules Remember to log out of your anonymous accounts. If you want copies of any PMs, best to save them now before the IMs go through and purge. Thanks again everyone for playing! I'll post thoughts later.