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Corette extended her arm. "Please," she said, a wry smile twisting her mouth. "It's making my skin crawl, too."

As she waited, she looked around, senses alert though she maintained a calm air. Without her Bronze on, she felt nearly blind. Corette had little to fear from the DA team - well, no more than usual - but she supposed that anyone else would be nervous in the presence of the DA, so she allowed a little of her unease to show on her face. She'd pocketed a few more beads in the rush to claim a portion of the treasure, and she was eager to get back to Matthieu and present them, as he'd requested.

'Bring me back something interesting.'

Corette was certain that even he hadn't expected her to find Atium down here. She was almost disappointed that she hadn't been there to see the look on his face when he'd received her report. It was next to impossible to surprise the old Inquisitor, and to think she'd missed the show...

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Vita nodded, grabbing her arm, careful of the wounds. Immediately her awareness expanded, knowledge about the woman's body flowing into her. Curiously, she didn't notice many spikes, other than what she assumed was the standard loyalty spike. She focused on her arm, dampening the nerves first to lessen the sensation of having your flesh regrow. It wasn't something she always did, but it made sense to extend at least some courtesy to a co-worker. Quickly she regrew the flesh, taking care to avoid leaving any scarring. It wouldn't do to leave anything that could easily identify her after all.

When she finished she let out a quiet sigh of relief, and restored the nerves she had dampened before this. "Finished," she said in a professional tone, quickly releasing her. All in all it had taken only a few seconds, though as always it seemed to have taken a lot longer to her.

Edited by kenod
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1 hour ago, kenod said:

Curiously, she didn't notice any spikes.

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I'll edit in a real response after work, but Corette actually does have at least 1 (her loyalty spike), it's just located beneath one of her metalmind bracers in her upper arm. Unsure if this would change Vita's perception at all, but I did want you to know :]

 

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Edited it, thanks. I forgot about loyalty spikes.

 

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The Stranger watched as Lita offered her hand to Laurelai. There was so much hope in her words, so much fear in her eyes. She was choosing to walk the path of secrets, of blinding truth and burning knowledge. It was a path that changed you, he knew from personal experience, that stripped away the inconsequential and familiar and replaced it with the glorious burden of Knowledge. The Stranger looked at Lita and knew that she was determined to undertake this path, but she was terrified of walking it alone.

Laurelai stood there for an endless instant, doubtlessly feeling the pull of the waters. The Stranger saw her gaze and the Hunger within it. It was alike to Lita's, and yet different. Lita's was a hunger for Secrets, while Laurelai's was the hunger for knowledge. To gain and acquire it, to amass it as a dragon amasses wealth, as a tree amasses nutrients. Both were Hungers that could destroy them, drives that could cut their paths tragically short if they sought that beyond their power to hold without an anchor.  Lita was reaching for a tether, for her connection with Laurelai so that she would still be herself even in the midst of transformation. They had no idea how much they truly needed each other. But would that need, that bond be stronger than the pull of the quiet waters? The Stranger wasn't sure, none of them were. He watched the daughter of his friend, and said nothing for that finite eternity.

Then Laurelai stepped away from the water. He saw the strain in her every movement, the gravitational of pull of temptation that made every inch feel like a league. But she turned from the pool and took the proffered hand, and the Stranger wasn't sure who's relief was greater, Lita's or Laurelai's. He grinned, but felt it slip as he he caught their reflection. Reflected in the pool, he saw not Laurelai and Lita, but Voidus and himself. Grasping each other's hands with bright smiles, ready to face the world. Colleagues, peers, lab partners.

Friends.

The Stranger watched as Laurelai squeezed Lita's outstretched hand, and felt something that hid deep within him. It was quiet and painful, and it hurt with a pain both alien and familiar. It swam like a sightless whale in a lightless chasm, ponderous and slow, sending ripples with it's motion. It's was a pain and a hunger and a sweetness.

It was a sadness. Eons of memories and experiences were making a million tiny cuts inside him, each one building upon the effect of the others. He was going to lose his only friend, his tether.  But he could not stop to consider the pain, could not let himself doubt or fear, or he would surely fail both himself and Voidus. And he would not let that happen.  

The Stranger felt his grin stretch a little wider and he looked again at the two who would help him reforge the world. They had no idea, not really. Lita may have glimpsed a portion, but even her brush with omniscience hadn't shown her the full scope of his designs. He looked at the pool and felt the hunger, beckoning him like an oasis in the desert. With a small shudder he turned away once more, hardening his will against it's siren song. One thing was for certain, he couldn't let either of them back in the waters, or he risked them discovering the true nature of the experiment.

"Very well, then let us begin."

He reached out and tried to transport the entire Chapel of Rain to a very, very Dark Alley. But as he began to pull on the ties that would ordinarily bind an invested object like this to the planet, he found that something was different. This wasn't just a location or an object, but rather a source of investiture tied directly to the planet, somewhat similar to a Shardpool, if not exactly alike. He grimaced, this was even more horribly complicated than he had expected. Removing a source of investiture this potent would cause a considerable disturbance, especially a source so integrally linked to the planet. He cursed mentally, another complication he didn't have time for. Very well, if he couldn't remove it, he could make it even harder to find. He first transported Lita and Laurelai into a lab that was deep within the dark recesses of the Alleys. Then he reshaped the cavern, collapsing tunnels, stone shaping walls destroying any and all evidence of it's existence. When he was finished, all that was left was a minuscule trickle of water, hidden almost completely rock formations and carefully arranged debris. He nodded as he observed his handiwork and nodded, it would do for now. Then he travelled through the Alleys and joined his waiting guests in the small sitting room he had left them in.

He turned to them and grinned. "Sorry for the delay, we are deep within the Alleys and I had to make sure that everything was secure. Once again I must stress how important it is that you don't breathe a word of this outside of this Alley. What I am doing is a secret to everyone, and I mean Everyone. Not even Voidus knows what I am working on, and that is for his own benefit, as well as the entirety of the World. I am creating a simulation of sorts, the likes of which is unparalleled. Tell me, what do you two know about the World Spike?"

@Voidus @ZincAboutIt

Edited by Fatebreaker
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6 hours ago, Fatebreaker said:

He reached out and transported the entire Chapel of Rain to a very, very Dark Alley. He hid it with all the cunning and subterfuge he could muster, and made sure it would be nigh impossible to find. 

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Hey, great post as always :) but I was wondering if you could edit this part, so others can still use the Chapel of Rain if they want? It’s a really cool creation by Zinc and taking it away is a bit major, in my opinion. 

 

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Ok, give me a bit to think of a good alternative that makes sense for the character.

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Edited the post, hopefully the changes are agreeable.

 

Edited by Fatebreaker
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Lita felt her insides lurch as the Stranger spirited them away from the cavern in the earth. She struggled to think through the sudden and abrupt disorientation, and clenched her jaw against a moment of intense nausea that was only amplified by her Tin. It felt like Alleytravel, in the same way that being flung through the air via trebuchet felt like riding a train. As she regained her footing and the dizziness passed, she was hit by a terrible, deep loss within her. It was a grief she had never known, a rending lack that tore at her soul with vicious claws. 

She held in a gasp and felt moisture prickle at the corners of her eyes. Something had been taken from her, something important. She had to find it, she had to --

The water. Lita forced down the panic and grief, swallowing her instinct to scream, and held herself still for a moment. This was only the power of the water, the aftershock of its effects. Lita took in deep breaths, still holding onto Laurelai’s hand, then slowly released her grip. She looked over at her friend and offered a small, unsteady smile.

“Hell of a day,” Lita said, her voice quiet and a little rough with leftover emotion. “Though I did promise you something more exciting than the Department of Records.”

She wanted to ask Laurelai what she saw in the water, but asking that would prompt questions from Laurelai that Lita could never answer. The memory of the Stranger’s will pressing into her mind made her shudder a little; he wouldn’t even need to kill her. He could tear her to bits inside her own head if he so desired, unraveling her consciousness like a ball of yarn.

Lita wrapped her arms around her shoulders, suddenly cold, and turned to get a look at their new surroundings. The little room had that bare, slight hollowness that all entry spaces seem to carry. It was a place to wait, and the lack of identifiable details only served to heighten Lita’s anticipation. The Stranger had transported them here on purpose, which likely meant that this room - and whatever lay beyond it - belonged to him. Some of Lita’s earlier tension bled slowly into a kind of quiet excitement, and she felt that old familiar fascination begin to take hold of her again. 

She turned to Laurelai and put a finger to her lips, then closed her eyes and flared Tin. Immediately, the sound of Laurelai’s quiet breathing became a torrent of wind, and Lita could smell the wet, chalky grit of the caverns on her boots and shirt and trousers. She acknowledged these things, then dismissed them, tuning her ears instead to the space around her. The room was still - nothing moved aside from Laurelai and herself. She then turned her attention to the door, and what lay beyond it. 

Again, there was no sound. Or, there was something, but it was less a sound and more an absence of sound. A deepness, and a distance, as though she was farther from the wind and the sun and the City than she had ever been before. If the Alleys even had a center, Lita imagined that they were likely very close to its writhing pit of a heart. She lowered her Tin and opened her eyes, suddenly grateful for the room’s light.

“I think we’re the only ones here,” she said, though whether she meant ‘here in this room’ or ‘here in this strange pocket of space and time’, Lita was not sure.

Then, with that same silent apparition that Lita had seen in the Chapel of Rain, the Stranger was suddenly there.  "Sorry for the delay, we are deep within the Alleys and I had to make sure that everything was secure.Once again I must stress how important it is that you don't breathe a word of this outside of this Alley. What I am doing is a secret to everyone. And I mean Everyone. Not even Voidus knows what I am working on, and that is for his own benefit, as well as the entirety of the World. I am creating a simulation of sorts, the likes of which is unparalleled. Tell me, what do you two know about the World Spike?"

Lita blinked once, but she hid her confusion. A simulation? That didn’t sound right, she knew it wasn’t right, but as she cast back into her memory the images were increasingly jumbled, the logic fraying and dissolving with alarming speed. Rusts, she was losing the memories even faster than she’d originally guessed. What she needed was to write down what she had left, though something told her the Stranger would hardly lend her his pen for that job. Lita chewed her lip.

Damnation, why didn’t I ever pick up an unsealed Coppermind?

Well, there was nothing for it. She was here, and she was alive, and if she fancied either state she had better start acting useful. Lita thought on the Stranger’s last question - that, at least, was something she did remember. Laurelai might have been the scholar, but Lita had spent a fair bit of her own time poring through the Department of Records. What kind of spy would she be if she didn’t even know about her own organization?

“It’s the foundation of the entire universe,” she volunteered, pleased that her voice was steady and confident despite the state of her thoughts. “Voidus spiked the identity into this place before it was anything, connecting it to the rest of the worlds, allowing for life to exist. It's protected by some kind of barrier - no one can reach it.”

Lita weighed present company, then amended her statement. "At least, almost no one."

@Voidus @Fatebreaker

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Laurelai felt a tug of force that was at once gentle and also entirely inexorable. It was not the harsh lash of will that the Stranger had pulled her from the waters with, but it also brooked no argument now that they had agreed. A polite insistent whirl of force that tried to whisk her away, but as it did she felt something holding her back still, something tethered her to the chapel.

Time stretched as she dwelt in some in-between state of transportation. Wishing that she had a mouth to scream with, Laurelai steeled herself as she felt that tether agonizingly wrenched away, like a tooth being extracted without painkillers. Each strand of the tether were snapped one by one until only one thin fibre still connected her to the mysterious waters of the chapel.

Gasping as they rematerialized, Laurelai sucked in a deep breath in relief. The air helped to cool her down, suppressing the sudden flush of heat and tension that had hit her in that moment of transit. But the cool air did nothing for the lingering ache she felt, like some part of her soul had been stretched and partially severed with only a thin strand still connecting her to the waters.

“Hell of a day,” Lita said “Though I did promise you something more exciting than the Department of Records.”

"Once again I'm reminded that the DA has little sense of subtlety." Laurelai said, mirroring Lita's weary smile "It's either bookkeeping or some world-shattering experiment and a chapel of ancient forbidden knowledge. Never any middle-ground."

She fixed her cheek muscles in place, holding the smile even after it would have faded. The familiar action gave her small comfort, something to cling onto as she tried to sort through the chaotic whirlwind of emotions and contradicting thoughts that still flooded her mind. But the smile slipped as Laurelai locked eyes with Lita, a twinge of guilt as she tried to wear a plastered on expression while talking to her friend.

There was a moment of awkward silence, she felt that Lita too was on the verge of saying something, but they both remained silent. The silence seemed to press in around them until Lita finally broke off, investigating the room that they found themselves in. Flaring her tin and extending out her senses as Laurelai waited in the silence, wondering if Lita could hear the forceful beating of her heart, could sense the empty spot inside of her where that connection to the waters had been torn out.

She nodded when Lita said they were alone here, she doubted anyone would intrude on the Strangers project without permission and he had been too secretive about this to have invited others already in on it, the Waters had scared him somehow, made him worry that they'd have realised what he was doing? But there would be other ways to keep them silent, even if they'd already found out. Laurelai doubted anyone would raise a voice if the Stranger caused two denizens to vanish without explanation.

"Sorry for the delay." The Stranger said, causing Laurelai to jump as he was suddenly simply there with them. "We are deep within the Alleys and I had to make sure that everything was secure.Once again I must stress how important it is that you don't breathe a word of this outside of this Alley. What I am doing is a secret to everyone. And I mean Everyone."

So why then would he invite them? He had seemed to take a bit of a liking to Lita, but if his work was as important as he said then surely that wouldn't matter. And even if it did, why bring Laurelai as well?

"Not even Voidus knows what I am working on, and that is for his own benefit, as well as the entirety of the World." The Stranger continued.

A secret from Voidus? Laurelai imagined there were probably plenty of projects that Voidus didn't take any interest in, possibly some that he wasn't even aware of. But to actively keep it a secret from him? Only the head of the R&D department would even attempt something so dangerous. What could possibly be so important that it was kept a secret from Voidus, yet that the Stranger would still feel comfortable sharing with them?

"I am creating a simulation of sorts, the likes of which is unparalleled. Tell me, what do you two know about the World Spike?"

Laurelai felt an eyebrow raise at the unexpected question, curiosity magnifying a thousandfold already. If the Stranger was planning something to do with the Worldspike then surely it was even more important that Voidus be aware of it.

Lita hesitated only a moment before beginning to answer and Laurelai found herself nodding along at the succinct summary that she gave. Absently she felt herself beginning to speak as well, adding on out of habit drilled into her at the department of records.

"A stability spike some have called it." She added. "Keeping the world in a stable state despite having so many connections to other worlds. Often misinterpreted as a spike which somehow created the universe itself. Creating such a spike was attempted as well, but stabilising an existing universe proved simpler."

She blinked towards the end, realising she was speaking in a somewhat lecturing tone as her concentration slipped. She was also acutely aware that she was speaking to someone who had likely been present at its creation, most of the records of the Strangers experiments back then were kept under lock and key but she'd read the records for the creation of the Worldspike, notes from both the Stranger and Voidus had been all over it.

"I believe there was a drinking party to celebrate after it's creation?" She asked, more question than statement this time and he mouth curled into an amused smile.

Some of her tension left her as she imagined that scene, Voidus and the Stranger throwing an arm around each other as they admired their work. It was difficult to picture, and even when she tried she could only imagine a grim vaguely-satisfied expression on Voidus' face, but the Stranger surely had been celebrating with his friend hadn't he?

Something clicked in her mind at that moment, the smile freezing in place. The Stranger was friends with Voidus, they'd known each other for longer than she'd been alive. Possibly longer than anyone had been alive for all she knew. So the Stranger probably knew things about Voidus that no one else did. Secret things, like whether or not he had a family. 

Laurelai felt her heart speed up, the smile widening a little further as she stared intently at the Stranger. Was her guess correct after all? It had taken a while to notice the similarities, the strange coincidences and connections. But she had eventually begun to suspect that Voidus had not been staring at her out of malice but out of some protective instinct. Could she really be related to him? And did the Stranger know?

@ZincAboutIt @Fatebreaker

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"Once again I'm reminded that the DA has little sense of subtlety." Laurelai said, mirroring Lita's weary smile "It's either bookkeeping or some world-shattering experiment and a chapel of ancient forbidden knowledge. Never any middle-ground."

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Loved this description of the Alleyverse. 

 

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On 10/02/2020 at 4:06 PM, Sorana said:Althea hid a grimace when she watched the Underling turn away. She wouldn't leave without him, couldn't leave without him, but thankfully Adren's words gave her a good excuse to stay for a while longer.

"Get ready to leave." She told Wes in a quiet voice, and knew that Max would hear her words as well. The others - probably, but it didn't matter. It wasn't secret anyway. She shifted her weight to her other leg and looked at the woman, waited to see her reaction to Adren's proposal. She had picked up some atium, but if they were willing to hand over some more she wouldn't mind. In the end every single bead could proove helpful.

@kenod @Ookla the Maybe-Existent

Wes nodded, staring at his Kalea and stuffing his device in his pocket. No response from Mike. Or maybe the connection was terrible down here. Behind him people were discussing things about a public gold rush, and keeping this atium store a secret.

He thought about sitting down but the words of the Righthand to be ready to leave stopped him. He didn’t want to be left behind, in these dark caves. Instead, he held the enclosure for the Kalea up and close to his face, watching it walk closer and sniff the air.

“Do you think that’s the right thing to do?” He whispered to the small creature. “To leave all this here for the DA to take, to keep it all a secret? From everyone, from Mike?”

The Kalea stared at him with big eyes.

“Yeah, you’re right,” Wes said, looking down. “Maybe it is the best thing to do. And maybe I can tell Mike. Telling one person shouldn’t be an issue, right. But no one else, okay?” he looked up quickly to the Kalea and it sat down, which Wes took as a confirmation. He smiled. “Thanks.”

—-

Max watched as Althea spoke to the underling boy. It was a good trait in a leader, to make sure the smaller guys didn’t get hurt. Max made a note to check on how some of the Canton interns were doing when he got back.

As long as the rest of the cave is open to research, he said secretly to Althea. I’ll count it as a win. There’s a lot of things of use here other than the atium that I think people are overlooking.

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The Stranger's grin became somewhat wry. He remembered that celebration vividly, or rather, parts of it vividly.

"I mean, creating a world calls for celebration. You know, I made this drink for Voidus out of chronocompressed whiskey that got him so absolutely smashed that he tried to test our theory of partial translocation and recombination, but we forgot to factor in the axial tilt and his top half ended up in..."

He coughed and trailed off, realizing that he probably shouldn't be telling younger denizens about one of his and Voidus's most unprofessional moments. Especially to Voidus's daughter. He coughed again and and banished the memories of that time from his mind, they were distractions. Wonderfully pleasant distractions, but distractions none the less. The work was paramount, absolute. He must focus on the task at hand, and that was to secure the help of two extremely clever individuals without revealing the true nature of the task they would be assisting him with. It was but another needle to thread in order to keep the tapestry of his designs from unraveling.

The Stranger nodded, "You're both right about the Worldspike.  While that is a simplified version, you've perfectly captured the essence of it. But it's more, it's become more." He used Lightweaving to make the image of the Alleyplanet float above his fingers, spinning slowly in place. A glowing spike pierced it and the planet began to change, it's surface bubbling and rippling as the topography changed and a tiny Alleycity began to grow. But then the spike began to change and the City grew and aged, the patterns on its surface growing as the populace grew.

"The Worldspike became a part of the Physical, Cognitive, and Spiritual identity of the planet. This, though a monumental undertaking, was doable due to the lack of a populace at the time of spiking. But as more and more people came to our new world, more and more stayed. They lived their lives on it's surface, creating their own memories and legacies, and some had children. Children whose Spiritual Identity was linked to the planet upon which they were born, and thus to the Spike itself. Generations were born, inherently linked to the Hemalurgy that shaped this planet. We hadn't even considered this. Why do you think we have so many denizens? People here are literally born with Hemalurgy in their Souls. And as they in turn study and shape the planet with their work, so they incrementally, tangentially shape the Worldspike, just as those who come here and build new lives help shape it."

His gaze met Lita's and he grinned a little wider. "Some have larger impact than others." His gaze shifted to Laurelai, "And some are more closely linked to it than they realize." He turned from them as the glowing image grew larger, filling the room. "It was a great work indeed, but slowly more and more arose that sought to undermine and destroy us. We were no tyrants, keeping every person in line upon risk of death. We were focused on our work, on the next great endeavor, and so the weeds grew. In the very place we created, our enemies arose and struck at us and our works. The Imprisonment of Voidus, the Seven Day War, and now those fools at Plasmacore with their ridiculous Lord Ajax."

He felt that slow cooking frustration boiling deep within him, but he continued. "These aggressions have become increasiningly destructive and require more and more time and resource to deal with it seems. And so I have been pursuing a project to, modify the Worldspike. I plan to rewrite some of the connections, make it so certain groups and individuals feel unwelcome here. I can minimize and mitigate the rival guilds without spilling a drop of blood, simply by altering their connection to the planet, albeit in complex metaphysical and spiritual ways. But my editing has had unforeseen side effects, some of which you have noticed. The growing nature of the Worldspike's spiritual connection means that certain locations have ties to people, memories, events. It's like trying to pull a book from a stack, but each book has over one trillion threads connecting it to other books in the pile. There are so many elements of the world I have forgotten or never even known, and that reflects in the disappearances, I'm sorry to say. And that's where the two of you come in."

He gestured towards them in an inclusive gesture, his expression encouraging. "You two are some of the brightest young minds in the Alleys, and are perfect to help me for a number of reasons. The first is that I have seen first hand your tenacity and dedication. Both of you handled yourselves marvelously during the plasma core debacle, and both Voidus and I were impressed. The second reason is that, despite your aptitude for the alleys and various forms of investiture, you're still somewhat new. The Chaos of the Alleys hasn't drastically altered you yet, which means you're much more reliable for operating outside of the Alleys. And third, you're both ambitious enough to want to take a chance on being a part of the experiment that changed history. At least I hope that's the case?"

He grinned, and he hoped the lies in his words had been well braced by the truths. He knew his body wouldn't have given any physical indicators, but words were tricky things, especially when he had so much on his mind. He pushed the doubt aside and carried on, "What I need you to do is gather information about the city for me. Atmosphere, latent locational memories, community figures. And little details too, like what kinds of birds you notice, what does the wind smell like? I need you to spy on the city itself for me."

The Stranger fixed them both with an expectant look, waiting for how they would reply. 

@Voidus @ZincAboutIt

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On 23.2.2020 at 3:36 AM, I think I am here. said:

Wes nodded, staring at his Kalea and stuffing his device in his pocket. No response from Mike. Or maybe the connection was terrible down here. Behind him people were discussing things about a public gold rush, and keeping this atium store a secret.

He thought about sitting down but the words of the Righthand to be ready to leave stopped him. He didn’t want to be left behind, in these dark caves. Instead, he held the enclosure for the Kalea up and close to his face, watching it walk closer and sniff the air.

“Do you think that’s the right thing to do?” He whispered to the small creature. “To leave all this here for the DA to take, to keep it all a secret? From everyone, from Mike?”

The Kalea stared at him with big eyes.

“Yeah, you’re right,” Wes said, looking down. “Maybe it is the best thing to do. And maybe I can tell Mike. Telling one person shouldn’t be an issue, right. But no one else, okay?” he looked up quickly to the Kalea and it sat down, which Wes took as a confirmation. He smiled. “Thanks.”

—-

Max watched as Althea spoke to the underling boy. It was a good trait in a leader, to make sure the smaller guys didn’t get hurt. Max made a note to check on how some of the Canton interns were doing when he got back.

As long as the rest of the cave is open to research, he said secretly to Althea. I’ll count it as a win. There’s a lot of things of use here other than the atium that I think people are overlooking.

Althea inclined her head towards the DA representative. "Then I will leave this cave to you." She said calmly before turning around and walking towards the exit. It felt strange to leave it all behind for the DA to use, but then - it had been the best possible option, by far. And if ACE were worried about it - well, let them bargain with the DA on their own. She wouldn't mind them receiving their share, but she wouldn't be the one to bargain on their behalf.

I agree. I would like to capture a few more of these animals. She replied to Max before turning her attention to Wes. Quickly she wrote down a name and offered him the slip of paper. "If you really want to take a look at another department, call my assistant and tell her, I sent you. She will take care of everything else." A tiny smile touched her lips, nearly invisible despite the slight softening of her face. "And if you don't want to, then you can always stay where you are."

Do you have any plans what to do now? She resumed talking to Max. Do you want to take a look around the cave?

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Posted (edited)

I'm in the alleys.

Wes quickly held up his device as he heard it beep and read the message. Alleys. Had Mike gotten lost? Everyone knew what lurked in the Alleys, and Wes knew Mike wasn’t the type of person to go and seek them out. Before replying he waited until Mike had sent everything.

Met some strange people and Xanas took me here. Would you like to meet later? Once he lets me go?

Mike wanted to meet later. Wes has been keeping a guard on himself, but he couldn’t stop a bright smile from forming on his face. Mike wanted to meet! But the rest of the message was odd. Strange people? Someone needing to let Mike go? It sounded like a prisoner situation, but it didn’t seem like Mike was worried.

I would really like that. I have a lot to talk to you about. He turned to the Kalea, staring at him with big eyes. And there’s someone else I want you to meet, too.

Before he could type more the Righthand approached and he stood straighter. She wasn’t as scary as the rest, that part was clear. And by now Wes was sure if the kindness was all a test, he would be dead already. So, he had to assume the kindness was real.

“Thank you,” Wes said, clutched the note and read it fully, before placing it in his pocket. It was an option, an escape. Quietly he made his way to the main group, wrapping his cloak around him tighter. Technically he wasn’t an underling anymore, so he didn’t need the cloak. But it meant so much to him. For a long time it had been his only comfort, the large cloak.

- — -

I think we should go the way we came, Max said. And get a sample of any new thing we find, like that mushroom. I’ll send a Canton team down here later, we can go with them if you want. Or,

He looked at Althea, near the underling kid.

We could go deeper into this cave system. See what we find.

Edited by I think I am here.
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Lita felt an eyebrow quirk at the Stranger’s mention of ‘chronocompressed whiskey’; she filed that knowledge away with every intention of revisiting it at a later time. The Stranger’s grin filled with the unmistakable rueful fondness that so often accompanies tales of drunken misdeeds. Lita’s years of training to keep her face carefully blank warred with her immediate desire to know where, in fact, Voidus’ top-half had ended up. She glanced to the side where Laurelai stood, hoping that she could somehow read Lita’s thoughts and was already checking her mental catalog of the Records Department for anything that might solve this mystery. This also, of course, brought up questions of his lower half.

The Stranger seemed to come back to himself before divulging anything more, coughing awkwardly. Lita almost laughed, but kept herself in check, standing still and quiet, eyes focused. He began to speak about the Worldspike, effortlessly spinning a perfect Lightweaving replica of the planet above his hand. It was mesmerizing, but Lita kept the majority of her attention on the Stranger himself, trying to glean anything from his expression and his words. The words people chose to speak were clues - even a master of deception often spooled out more than enough rope to hang himself by his tongue. 

The words that the Stranger used now sounded perfect, but something didn’t quite match up. There were holes in the sense of it, and Lita fought a wave of frustration at the fact that for a moment she had known what they were. For all the Stranger’s grand talk, this was an immense improvisation. He would never have known of the disappearances and disturbances if Lita hadn’t somehow caught his attention when she stepped under the stream of the Chapel. She could still recall the terrible chill of his voice when he had demanded she hand over her memories of the entire event. There was a part of her soul that knew he had almost killed her in that grotto; it would have been so easy. 

But he hadn’t. Something had changed his mind. Lita fought the urge to flex her the fingers of her left hand, the hand she’d laid over the back of the Stranger’s own. An insane move, and one she’d have never made if she’d been thinking at all. Surely that hadn’t been what had changed his mind; no, it was something else, it had to be. 

Lita looked at the model of the world and the Worldspike, taking in the Stranger’s explanations. He wanted them to collect intel on the city - well, she could do that. Intelligence work was intelligence work, for the most part. Nothing she hadn’t done before. The real secrets were in here, buried in between what was nearly true. If it had to do with the Worldspike, Voidus should have been involved, not two junior Denizens who had maybe three years’ experience between them. And yet here they were, suddenly folded into a plan so secret that even the world’s creator couldn’t know of it. 

She looked back to the Stranger, considering. He was ancient, and brilliant, but he was no spy. The best way to get someone to reveal a secret is to give them what they expect. Lita smiled, and it was full of all the clever hunger she knew he’d anticipate of her when presented with a new secret to hunt. If she managed to play this correctly, he’d never have to find out that he was her true quarry. This plan, the oddity of it, the fact that for a moment she’d known precisely what was going to happen. It was all that was needed to blow the latent embers back into a fire of fascination and curiosity.

An image flashed before her eyes, a familiar one: the Stranger, his face lit with a fiery glow, head and shoulders surrounded by a thousand points of light. She’d seen that in the water. So, it wasn’t completely gone then. Good. If she could get some back, then she could get it all back. Maybe.

“Information happens to be our specialty,” Lita said, eyes bright with eagerness and Tin. “How should we report our findings to you, Sir?”

She had the Coin, of course, but Laurelai didn’t need to know about its powers of communication. Just like she doesn’t need to know about who her father is, or what you saw in the water, or what you’ve really been up to for the last six months. Lita grinned with a practiced ease she didn't feel, and tried hard not to think about her odds for living out the year. It didn’t look good, but rust and Ruin, she sure felt alive right now.

@Fatebreaker @Voidus

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Posted (edited)

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Sorry for the bad quality of this post, I’m having writing issues ^_^ 

Myriad waited at the back of the line with the members of the party who’d been injured, though her body was unhurt; her reason for being here was different. This woman was part of the Dark Alley, a guild that was supposed to know more than any other individual or group in this world - and possibly all others. She wanted to talk to her. 

She jotted off an update to the Scholars’ Guild about the current situation, then waited until she was the only person standing in front of the healer. “May I talk to you?” she asked quietly. 

@kenod 

Edited by AonEne
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10 hours ago, AonEne said:

Myriad waited at the back of the line with the members of the party who’d been injured, though her body was unhurt; her reason for being here was different. This woman was part of the Dark Alley, a guild that was supposed to know more than any other individual or group in this world - and possibly all others. She wanted to talk to her. 

She jotted off an update to the Scholars’ Guild about the current situation, then waited until she was the only person standing in front of the healer. “May I talk to you?” she asked quietly. 

@kenod 

"Hmm?" Vita said, looking at her, wondering why she'd want to talk to her. It seemed she had some sort of investure, though she couldn't determine what. She held up her hand, signalling for her to wait for a second. Quickly she gave orders to some of the still remaining denizens, asking them to gather some of the Atium so that they had some initial samples to send back, as well as asking them to try and get a better estimate on how much atium there was, how difficult it was to get it, and what they'd need to get access to it. Two others she send to secure the tunnel that got them there, and to explore and secure some of the nearby tunnels connecting to this one. Finally she looked back at the woman.

"You said you wanted to talk?" She asked, trying to sound polite and profesional. It couldn't hurt after all, better to be at good terms with the ACE team. "I have some time now. Do you prefer to talk here, or would you prefer to head back to your base-camp, or somewhere more private?" Not that the later case would actually be private, of course. She wasn't stupid enough to go somewhere alone with someone she just met without some other denizens being close enough to render aid. In this case a private talk simply meant she wouldn't be aware the denizens were keeping watch.

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11 hours ago, kenod said:

"You said you wanted to talk?" She asked, trying to sound polite and profesional. It couldn't hurt after all, better to be at good terms with the ACE team. "I have some time now. Do you prefer to talk here, or would you prefer to head back to your base-camp, or somewhere more private?" 

“Thank you. It doesn’t matter to me, I just have a few questions. Does the Dark Alley have any ways of returning lost memories to people?” she asked bluntly. 

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10 hours ago, AonEne said:

“Thank you. It doesn’t matter to me, I just have a few questions. Does the Dark Alley have any ways of returning lost memories to people?” she asked bluntly. 

Vita tilted her head slightly at the question, thinking. So she either has memory loss or knows someone who does. She filed that particular though away for later reference, instead focusing on her question. "We might," she answered. "I do want to point out that the particular knowledge involved isn't my speciality, so please keep that in mind." She paused for a bit, thinking about the question.

"First of all, the answer would depend on the cause," she continued after some deliberation. "There are quite a few forms and causes of memory loss after all, and something like this likely involves all three realms, and my knowledge of these particular interactions is somewhat limited. Of course, there's also the fact that there are different types of memory, such as Semantic and Episodic, the first dealing with factual knowledge, such as the knowledge that the DA uses Hemalurgy, or the Ghostbloods live in Oasis City. Episodic memory, on the other hand, contains your actual experiences, such as what you had for breakfast two days ago. This particular bit of information will be important later, by the way."

She drank a little bit of water to prepare for the rest of the talk. "I'd say that purely physical memory loss from brain-trauma could likely be fixed using healing magic that focusses on the spiritual, like stormlight healing, though there might be a few complications there, since the general lack of guidance for this type of healing can make it unpredictable. This method would likely work because the physical damage generally won't affect the cognitive and spiritual aspects of a person, meaning that the memories would still be stored there. After all, the spiritweb transcends time, so even if the memories themselves aren't stored there the Connections could allow the healing magic to reform."

"Of course," she continued, "If the damage isn't purely physical things will get a lot more complicated, and will depend a lot more on what exactly caused the memory loss. One positive here, however, is that a fair number of artificial methods for inducing memory loss seem to simply seal away the memories, instead of destroying them, though this isn't always a given. For example, the Returned on Nalthis seem to have an ability to recall their past to some degree, under certain circumstances. I believe a fair number of memory manipulation Epics are also capable of restoring memories, though I'm not sure if these are simply blocked or if the Epic steals them and later restores them based on what they themselves remember of the memory from when they erased it. Similarly, back when someone at Bioscience invented a drug to interfere with memories it also simply blocked them, though that was mostly because removing them tended to also target all other memories, and normally turned the test-subject into a vegetable."

"Well, most forms of memory loss fall into these two categories," she said after drinking some more. "Of course, there's also trauma and alcohol-induced memory-loss, but you can argue that this isn't really losing the memory, instead the mind never gets the chance to transfer its short-term memories into long-term memory."

"As for actually curing it..." Vita paused for a bit, thinking. "I already explained memory-loss induced through physical trauma, so I won't be going into that. For the other cause, it depends on if the memories are sealed or destroyed. The first one is theoretically reversible, but doing so could prove difficult. I suspect the Nightwatcher could do it. Some researchers at the DA who specialize in Cognitive and Spiritual manipulation might be able to as well, as might some memory-manipulation Epics. Of course, the actual technique, level of power and level of skill required would vary a lot depending on the origin of the block."

"Destroyed memories, on the other hand would be much more difficult," she continued in a slightly regretful tone. "Most standard methods likely won't work. If it's because of Spiritual damage you might be able to fix the Spiritweb, but I've got no clue on how to do so. If the Spiritweb isn't damaged, the only idea I have that could theoretically work would be to manually trace back your Spiritweb, and find out your past that way, though I personally wouldn't be able to do so. Once you've done that you could read your memories like a book. You wouldn't have the experiences themselves, but you would know what actually happened. And, of course, if you don't mind the artificiality you could have a Forger use this knowledge to create artificial versions of the memories for you."

She paused, looking at the woman. "The final advise I can offer you... I'd suggest finding out if there are still traces of the missing memory remaining. Something like faint impressions, or small fragments of memories, or sudden flashes. If that's the case the memory is likely only sealed, or at least still connected to the Spiritweb. Well, that's all I have, I hope it can be of some aid."

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On 3/31/2020 at 2:24 PM, kenod said:

"Well, that's all I have, I hope it can be of some aid." 

“Thank you,” Myriad said, giving her a grateful smile. “Would you know anyone who specializes in this field?” The woman had known a lot more than her, and she wasn’t sure she could remember every detail. 

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8 hours ago, AonEne said:

“Thank you,” Myriad said, giving her a grateful smile. “Would you know anyone who specializes in this field?” The woman had known a lot more than her, and she wasn’t sure she could remember every detail. 

"Um..." Vita thought about the question for a bit. "I know someone in Bio-science I can refer you to, but they specialize in purely physical causes, not in anything Investure related, and they likely won't have access to the knowledge to try the more complicated Investure-based remedies." She shrugged. "There are probably some around, there are always people in the alleys with any expertise you need, but finding them will be difficult. My suggestion would be to try and find someone related to R&D. I might be able to arrange a meeting, if you wish, but I will require more knowledge about the situation in order to convince people it is interesting, and this might mean the duration of your stay will not be up to you."

She thought for a bit longer, opening and closing her knife out of habit. "I think your best options would be to either see if there are DA members amongst the ACE team who work in R&D, and see if they know someone, or to actually join the DA and do the research yourself, or use the opportunity to find someone who knows what you want to know."

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16 hours ago, kenod said:

She thought for a bit longer, opening and closing her knife out of habit. "I think your best options would be to either see if there are DA members amongst the ACE team who work in R&D, and see if they know someone, or to actually join the DA and do the research yourself, or use the opportunity to find someone who knows what you want to know." 

Myriad’s eyes drifted up to the ceiling as she thought. “Does the DA require you to not be in any other guilds to join it? And would you know what the cost of the information would be if I did join?” 

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On 4/5/2020 at 10:59 AM, AonEne said:

Myriad’s eyes drifted up to the ceiling as she thought. “Does the DA require you to not be in any other guilds to join it? And would you know what the cost of the information would be if I did join?” 

Vita thought for a bit, trying to remember if there were any regulations regarding this. While doing so she suddenly noticed she was playing with her knife. Quickly she put it away again in her sleeve, trying to hide her embarrassment. "Um, I don't think so?" She said, sounding slightly uncertain. "You'll probably be required to put the DA above your current guild, but as long as their interests don't fundamentally conflict with ours I don't think it's an issue? It might be hard to gain access to the more classified parts of our knowledge though."

"As for the price..." She thought a bit longer. "I guess it depends on what you do. If you work in the DoCI or acquisitions I guess you just need to make yourself useful, and you can look into it in your spare time, and you manage to catch the eye of a higher-up they might decide to help you. If you join research you're probably required to research it yourself, but you'll have access to the knowledge and equipment necessary for it, and you might be able to find other people researching the topic that way as well." She sighed. "I guess that's kind of the rule for achieving your goals in the DA in general, make yourself useful or use the resources available to achieve the goal yourself, though the second option means you're useful as well, just in a different way, so I guess both are kind of the same?"

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On 4/15/2020 at 2:10 PM, kenod said:

She sighed. "I guess that's kind of the rule for achieving your goals in the DA in general, make yourself useful or use the resources available to achieve the goal yourself, though the second option means you're useful as well, just in a different way, so I guess both are kind of the same?" 

Myriad considered that for a minute. “Would you know where best to contact them? Acquisitions in particular?” 

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"How do we report our findings to you, sir?"

In response, the Stranger pulled two coins form his pocket and proffered them forth. They were a grey metal, dull and smooth, and on both sides there was an engraving, a hammer on one and an anvil on the other. "You'll be able to convey sensory data through these, as well as more vague data like impressions. The latter takes focus to convey properly, but I'm confident in your skills." He stared off into the distance as if remembering searching for something, his expression distant and thoughtful. "If this experiment is successful, you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. And I don't mean that as a superlative." He paused  briefly to let the words sink in, then continued, "And in that vein I need to know another piece of data. I want both of you to tell me your greatest desire, even if it's impossible. Not here, you may use the coins when you are ready, but soon."

The Stranger grinned widely, his expression warm. "We are going to accomplish something truly great, something most would call impossible. We shall carry the torch of Science into a vast unknown and illuminate the abyss of ignorance that lies before us." His voice rang with conviction and resolve, and as he spoke the room began to hum with power, low and resonant. His gaze was into the future he envisioned, and he raised a hand as if to grasp it's ethereal strands. Light and shadow swirled around the three denizens, the alley itself seeming to pulsate with energy. 

"We shall defy destiny, we shall reshape reality into our design. We shall wield the hammer of Science and become Fate Breakers!"

The light and shadow swelled to a crescendo with his words and then all was still. Lita and Laurelai were each in their homes, alone. But a voiced whispered to each, like a wind through the boughs of a tree,

Your work begins, a path of shadows to tread. I am waiting...

...

The Stranger stood in the Forge, and stared at the work before him while thinking of the conversation that had transpired. This was not wise, trusting some so young, so new. But if his gamble payed off, it would be worth it. He knew they didn't trust him, it had gone far to poorly for that, but he knew they were curious and afraid. People were always afraid of madmen, the smart ones anyways. So he didn't have much time. fear and curiosity bought much less time than trust, but it would have to suffice, he was short on time anyways. He picked up a forge hammer and lifted it overhead. A point of white hot fire burned in the hammers head, and suddenly a sea of tiny fires glowed all around him, illuminating the runes and circuits of metal with their radiance. As he grabbed a chisel, The Stranger whispered softly to himself. 

"Nothing great is achieved without sacrifice..."

And the hammer fell, ringing and ringing in an endless warning that no one heard.

@Voidus @ZincAboutIt

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