Temple of Kraden News:
Some of these fighters are more tentative than others. For instance, the first four and Rasputin are very much not-at-all-tentative.Leroy BrownSusan TalbotGraeme, Guardian of Angel FallsNovice Monster Hunter AlexaElysia LestikGrigori RasputinLinkTactician Graeme
NPCs:Lich-King GrimGrusja GurjukStellaDr. Jekyll
A twelve-year-old emperor-in-name-only, his country is still ruled by its regent, his uncle Joshua. Standing at a height of five and a half feet, this blue-eyed brown-haired "ruler" is a strongly opinionated, fiercely emotional, and shockingly powerful psychic. This is, of course, in part due to his lineage, as he is a member of the American royal line and, like the Russian Tsars, can trace his ancestry back to one of the most powerful original psychics (in his case, a young woman named Emily St. Joseph).
Agile, graceful, and intelligent, Alexis is deadly on the field of battle and magical on the dance floor. While his knowledge of modern dances is a bit rusty, he's mastered many classical American dances, including the "breaking" dance. A very fast young man, he is admittedly better at long runs than at sprinting due to working on his endurance.
Alexis is a powerful psychic whose line has granted him both the ability to learn quickly and a vast multitude of ability aptitudes. Despite his age, he has mastered completely the fields of Kinesis and Sensing, and is making steady progress toward the mastery of Hermetics.
Emperor Alexis I Mitchell wears the blue robes of imperial office, which look something like what the Pope wears (although there hasn't been a Pope for several hundred years). He also wears the Steel Circlet in place of the Pope's hat. Set with a step cut amethyst, the Steel Circlet is just what its name implies: A circlet made of steel. Alexis also carries the royal arming sword, Artemis, with him wherever he goes. The blade was designed specifically to act as a conduit and amplifier for any psychic powers channeled through it.
Alexis has an uncle, Regent Joshua Mitchell, and a sister, Imperial Princess Maria Sybil. His parents, Emperor Abraham I Mitchell and Empress Elizabeth, are both dead — his father killed in battle against Tsar Fyodor the Cruel, his mother killed in an assassination plot.
So since I seemingly left Psychic Wars at a standstill (actually, I'm writing chapter 2 — it's just taking for-freaking-ever) I figure I can use my blog to help with it. Namely, I'll begin putting up nation profiles and character profiles. I'll also be updating this post with links to all of them.
Expect the first one soon. Haven't decided if it's a person or a place yet.
Chapter One: Join Together
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
A van was driving across the American countryside toward rural Kentucky. The driver was Martin Novida, and he was singing along with the radio. The problem was, Martin Novida was singing along with the radio. “Fly by night away from here!” he “sang”, although to call it singing would be to glorify the screeches coming from his mouth. “Change my life again!” Most of the rest of the van’s occupants had their fingers in their ears. “Fly by night, good bye my dear! My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend! My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t pretend! My ship isn’t coming and I just can’t prete-e-yeh-end!”
Everyone in the car let out a sigh of relief as the song ended. “New rule!” proposed Jen Hatfield, who sat behind the man who had afflicted their ears with such torture. “Martin isn’t allowed to sing along with the radio!” Everyone except Martin nodded their heads fervently and stated their agreement.
“Come on, I’m not that bad, am I?” Martin turned down the volume of the radio. “I mean, I’m in tune, aren’t I?”
“Martin,” said Takeru Shima, who was sitting next to him (and had therefore had the worst time of it), “you’re a good friend and a great guy and I’m glad I’m your friend, but your singing sounds like someone took an out-of-tune trumpet and handed it to a hippopotamus. Frankly? I think I could sing better than you, and that’s saying something. I sound like a three-year-old girl with a cold!”
“Seriously?” asked Aaron Lawrence. He was sitting in the back left, and his necklace was on display for the moment. “That kinda sounds hilarious, actually.”
“It sounds hilarious in description. It sounds painful in practice.” Aaron nodded at the response.
Meanwhile, Ewan MacMathan, seated next to Jen, had begun singing with the song that was currently playing over the radio. “Finished with my woman ‘cuz she couldn’t help me with my mind! People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time!”
“See, that’s what a good singer sounds like,” said Iris Hale, who was next to Aaron. Ewan continued to sing along as Martin grumbled, slowly turning up the radio. “Martin, I like you, but you can’t sing.” Martin grumbled more.
“So why are we headed out here, anyway?” he asked. The question was clearly directed at Aaron, who was currently looking out the window.
“Dad said there was a Frost Giant here,” replied Aaron. “We’re going to check it out.”
“Why would your dad know? I mean, I can understand if Thor knew, but… Baldur?” asked Jen.
“Still one of the Aesir,” replied Ewan. “They’ve got so much giant blood running through their veins, I wouldn’t be surprised if half the reason that Baldur’s so invulnerable is because of giant heritage.”
“But it’s a frost giant,” Martin pointed out. “What’s it doing in Kentucky?”
“I remember hearing about a friend of a friend who fought a Fire Giant in the arctic,” replied Jen. “Cousin of mine, Scion of Zeus Don’t really know the guy that well, I think his mum was Chinese, upset the Celestial Bureaucracy like no other that Zeus was having affairs in their territory.”
“Ah, but that’s how he always is,” said Ewan. “I’d not be surprised if Zeus has had children all over the globe and even had some in Japan before the West came.”
“Why would he do that?” asked Takeru.
“Because he’s a philandering lug,” said Jen. “Seriously, Zeus has had more affairs than the world has people, it seems like.”
“If we’re done ragging on your uncle?” asked Aaron. Iris giggled. “Anyway, Dad says he thinks this giant might already have a few thralls and maybe even a buddy or two.”
“In a podunk nowhere town in Kentucky,” replied Martin.
“Yup,” said Aaron. “Build the army in the nowhere town, draw big legend from marching a giant army into downtown Frankfort.”
“Frankfort?” asked Jen. “The hell is Frankfort?”
“It’s the capital city,” said Iris. “You know, like if we were in Wisconsin, they’d march on downtown Madison.”
“Probably be a shock to Doyle,” said Aaron, smirking. “Frost giants show up in Madison, wreck downtown. Doyle urges Legislature to pass Giant Prison Bill.”
“Yeah, well, Doyle can get stuffed, only reason I’d help him out of that one is because the giants are a threat to everyone,” said Jen. “Can we please move on to a different subject from Jim?”
“How about Iris’s singing?” asked Ewan. “I mean, we haven’t heard her sing yet.”
“You don’t want to hear me sing,” mumbled Iris.
“C’mon. It can’t be any worse than slapping your mum across the face,” ribbed Takeru.
“That was deserved and you know it,” said Iris. Still, she took a deep breath. “They told him don’t you ever come around here, don’t want to see your face, you’d better disappear… The fire’s in their eyes and their words are really clear so beat it. Just beat it.” Her voice was incredibly quiet and shy, and Martin turned off the radio so they could all hear. It was actually probably the best voice of any of them, though. Her voice slowly grew louder as she continued singing, and by the end Ewan, Aaron, and Jen had joined in — Takeru had done one verse as well, with a horribly stereotypical Japanese accent that probably only he could get away with, and Martin had even joined in at the end — though Iris still tried to be louder than him and drown out the man’s warbling.
“You seriously want to play Thriller as we fight them?” asked Jen as they pulled into parking lot of the Kenneth, KY Wal-Mart. “Why?”
“I just think it’d be a fun song to fight to,” said Iris, grinning. Slowly, everyone got out of the car. Takeru walked over to the trunk, opened it, and took out their gear.
Handing a bulletproof vest to Aaron, he said, “Maybe if we were fighting zombies. Giants, though… seems a bit off.”
“Hey, they could be out of a horror movie,” said Aaron, buckling on the vest over his dress shirt and accepting his sword, sheathing it at his side.
“What, Wolf-Man versus Zombie Giants?” asked Martin. Taking his spear from Takeru, he said, “Man, that movie would kick ass. I’d probably go see it five times.”
“Just what we’d need,” muttered Jen, accepting her bulletproof vest, the only other one in the car. “A giant who was immune to bullets.” She strapped her own sword to her side.
“So it’s me and Iris against the thugs, right?” asked Takeru as he handed Martin his spear.
“That’s the plan,” said Aaron. “You guys take on the bikers, us four will take on any giants. That sound good to everyone?” There were several murmurs of assent as the odd-looking group began walking toward the city proper. “Now remember, we’re on the lookout for at least one frost giant, possibly two or three, and at least ten thralls.”
Jen looked down a broad, empty street, and tapped Aaron on the shoulder. “Hey, Aaron… I think there’s more than three frost giants.” She pointed to a park; standing there were no less than five giants, as well as at least fifteen thralls. “Do we still fight?”
“It’s only frost giants,” muttered Takeru hopefully. “We can take frost giants.”
“I dunno,” said Iris, taking a look. “At least one of ‘em looks like a fire giant, and I think I see an oni there.”
“So… it’s a great cross-pantheonic coalition of giants,” said Martin.
“Dumb giants,” said Ewan. “Still… Five’s a fairly hefty number, and that Oni’s gonna be a tough opponent.”
“Well,” said Aaron, “only one way to fight ‘em, and that’s to do it straight up.”
“Me and Iris can do some stuff to lessen the threat,” offered Takeru. “We’ll just stand back here and do that while you take them on head-to-head.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Aaron. “On three?”
“On three,” agreed Jen. The others nodded.
“All right then. One… Two… Three!” The group rushed the giants, eager to get combat underway.
The giants seemed to have been discussing something as the six Scions ran up to them. Ewan was the first on the scene, and he leapt toward one of the giants, a frost giant. Although he managed to scratch the giant, it was a glancing blow for the most part, only drawing a few drops of blood. The giant roared with rage at being struck by such a puny being.
Takeru was fairly quick to react after that, targeting the Oni with his ability to cause chaos in opponents’ minds. The giant’s mind, however, was a bit dull, and so the chaotician’s intended effect didn’t quite take hold. Ewan, meanwhile, had begun leading his giant away from the others. Martin then stabbed a giant in the gut, another one of the frost giants — and this time, the giant’s blood did more than coat the spear’s obsidian head. Martin had to shake a little bit of intestine off his spear’s head. Aaron, Iris, and Jen had already taken positions near the other giants, and even though the Oni was frozen in confusion, the other giants struck. While the giant on Ewan missed, the giant that Martin had just hit aimed a heaving kick at the Mexican, kicking him back three yards — which he tumbled gracefully into a standing position. And the fire giant swung at Aaron, and though his hit connected, it was rather light, and it didn’t hurt as much as Aaron had been expecting it would.
It was then that Aaron struck, stabbing the Fire Giant with his sword. The giant’s wound closed almost supernaturally as the blade exited his arm. Jen swung at the giant on her, but unfortunately it stepped aside quickly. Ewan attacked again, stabbing this time, and managed to actually do some damage, piercing the ribcage right near the giant’s heart. Iris, meanwhile, was stepping back and beginning to chant. “Ul Aicheiy, ul Akkaris, naz Doroq!” The Oni could feel the curse settling around it, the dark fires seeping into its bones. You didn’t need to be smart to recognize the effects of a curse. And the Oni could tell that this one was potent.
Jen’s blade, the swift sword, was quick as lightning, and before the frost giant she was attacking could register that she had tried to hit him, she had struck him, though her attack still drew no blood. Martin rushed his attacker, leaping into the air before coming down with a slash of the spear. The cut was deep, hitting bone, and as he landed, the giant staggered back a few feet. Takeru, meanwhile, had been surrounded by thugs, along with Iris. His response was simple: Elbow one in the nose and then kick another in the stomach. Unfortunately, these weren’t garden-variety mooks, and Takeru’s powers weren’t suited to mass combat. He had a feeling that he could be in serious danger if he allowed them to keep surrounding him. Meanwhile, the fire giant swatted Aaron away. The poor Scion of Baldur lived up to his ancestral hardiness as he slammed into a lamppost with enough force to snap it in half and got up with barely a scratch.
“I guess they don’t have guys like me where you’re from, huh?” The giant didn’t respond. “Well then, I guess that means it’s up to me to show you just how much ass I can kick!” And he ran forward, sword held high. As the sun glinted off the blade, he plunged it deep into the giant’s stomach. As he withdrew it, he could see that the giant had forced it to act more like a club than a sword on his body, as the sword came out of rippling flesh that looked more like a bruise than a stab-wound. The Oni, angry at Takeru for trying to confuse his tiny brain, took a swing at the poor half-Japanese man. But Iris’s curse was doing its work, and the giant aimed to the left, knocking one of the thugs away from the Scion.
Each of the frost giants tried to swing at their enemies, but Jen, Martin, and Ewan ducked. Ewan responded to his frost giant’s attack by raising his spear and screaming bloody murder, stabbing it deep into the giant’s leg. As the thralls attempted to hit Takeru and Iris, missing despite their multitude of attacks, Jen cried out, “For the Glory of Hades!” and stabbed the giant on her. It coughed up a small amount of blood. Martin jabbed his spear into the giant again, the sheer force of the blow causing it to stagger back a few more yards.
Iris, meanwhile, turned to one of the thralls on Takeru and gave him a wink and a wave, pouring her focus into having him come after her. It worked, and the thrall began shoving other thralls aside to see her. Takeru, meanwhile, got a brilliant idea. “I’m going for a swim,” he said, diving into a nearby pond. Several of the thralls waded in after him, with others surrounding the pond. The fire giant, by now quite angry, swung at Aaron again. Aaron rolled out of the way as the massive flaming fists struck the road, cracking the asphalt.
Aaron grinned as he shifted the grip on his sword slightly. “VALHALLA!” he shouted, and his ichor swelled within him as he swung at the fire giant, slicing a thick gash in the giant’s chin. Takeru, meanwhile, activated one of his myriad powers and began breathing in the water as though it were air. Ewan, meanwhile, had gotten an idea. Kicking off from the ground, he speared the giant in an impaling upward motion. As he withdrew the spear, scoring a circle in the asphalt with the spear’s head, still hot with giant’s blood, he could see the frost giant roaring with rage. It attempted to swing at him, but he rolled between its legs, his spear ducking through in time to avoid being snapped in half. The giant on Jen swung clumsily, and she didn’t even have to try to dodge as its fist carried it into a spinning circle. Martin’s giant was a little bit smarter, and it bellowed before charging him in a bull rush — but Martin managed to step out of the way.
The Oni, meanwhile, had raised a single fist and brought it down right where Aaron was standing — except that its fist was slowed by the curse, allowing Aaron to move without the giant hitting anything. The Japanese giant screamed its rage to the heavens. It would kill the one who put the curse on it after it killed Bright Baldur’s son, the dancing monkey! Jen leapt at her giant and slashed thrice with the sword, each swing only making a superficial wound as he raised his arm to block. Martin stabbed again, even though his giant was barely wounded from his last few attempts. Although the blow was more glancing than anything due to the odd angle the spear had been held at, it still managed to drive the giant into a streetlamp.
By now, people were gathering, watching from the windows of nearby businesses and houses. Takeru, meanwhile, swam further into the pond, eventually resting in a drainage pipe. While it wouldn’t be hard to spot, it would offer him an advantage if any thralls tried to reach him. Namely: He could breathe water. They could not. He made a mental note that the next time they fought multiple giants with thralls, he would at least bring a staff or a katana or something with which to defend himself. Iris, of course, didn’t have that problem. She was busy asking the thrall she’d seduced where the nearest wasp-hive was. He was more than eager to lead her to it, which she was privately thankful for.
Jen, meanwhile, was swinging her sword back and forth, getting it to a speed fast enough that she she finally swung at the giant, it hummed like a hummingbird, slicing through the giant’s thick stomach. The force of the blow knocked him backwards, into the wall of a bank. Fortunately, the building was still very secure even with a giant colliding with the wall (and knocking several bricks into the building). Aaron, meanwhile, stabbed the fire giant in the stomach, twisting his sword before pulling it back out with some of the giant’s entrails rupturing as the sword was pulled out. The giant staggered back, placing a hand on its stomach and glowering at Aaron. “You,” it said, growling. “YOU!” Apparently that word was the only word it knew.
Ewan, meanwhile, was still going at his frost giant; this time he had begun spinning his spear around and stabbed it in the giant’s heart. The crowd was growing anxious; here were the five strangers who’d twisted their neighbors and friends into violent brutes, getting some rather violent comeuppance from some kids from out of town! The excitement was palpable. The crowd let out a collective gasp as the giant swung at Ewan. But the young Scots-Irish lad was smart, and ducked at precisely the right moment to draw the adulation of the crowd. Jen did a fancy acrobatic jump over the fist of the giant that swung at her. Martin, meanwhile, wasn’t quite fast enough to dodge the giant on him. The blow to the chest hurt like hell, and onlookers could actually hear it strain his ribs to take the blow. But he got back up and steadied himself on his spear. He then charged, spear forward, and leapt into the stomach of the frost giant that had thrown him back so far. It looked at him for a moment with hate in its eyes as the spear pierced it through before collapsing backwards, bleeding out on the street. The wounds on its head and in its stomach were particularly serious, and the crowd was torn. On the one hand, this man had threatened their town. But on the other, if he didn’t get medical attention, he would die. The confusion paralyzed them.
Jen, meanwhile, built up momentum and did a stunning somersaulting leap that ended with her sword stabbing into the giant’s throat. As she jerked out the sword and kicked the giant away, it stepped back a few steps, its eyes clouding over in a blood rage. The crowds had begun to go back to their lives, thinking that perhaps if they didn’t make a scene, these bloody butchers wouldn’t come after them. Three thralls remained underwater, waiting for Takeru to come out — they were particularly stubborn. They were also servants of the Oni, who seemed to be the leader — Takeru made note of that as he watched them sit underwater looking at him.
Aaron tried to slash open the fire giant’s hamstring, but although the sword connected, it did little more than scratch the skin. Ewan stabbed at the frost giant he was fighting, stabbing out its eye and ripping the offending organ from its head. The giant roared in pain.
At the hive, watched only by a few curious people who had decided that the battle was too bloody for them, Iris approached the wasp hive. Iris began speaking to the wasps, modifying her voice so that they could understand her. “I wish to speak with your queen and your warriors,” she said.
The hive buzzed with excitement, and several wasps approached her. “You understand us? You speak our language?” they asked. Iris nodded. “What is it you wish, tall smasher of houses?”
“I wish your aid,” said Iris. “The great ones who smash all have taken up residence here.”
“We have noticed,” said the wasps. “We are no idiots.”
“My friends and I wish to drive them away.” The wasps buzed excitedly among themselves. “My friends can be distinguished because they fight against the great ones.”
“Hmm… Perhaps we shall, and perhaps we shall not. It is the Queen’s decision.”
The fire giant swung at Aaron. Through some twist of fate, Aaron managed to avoid the fist, almost dropping his sword. Jen then began spinning, leaping into the air in a pirouette of death before stabbing her giant in the eye. The frost giant screamed. At the scream, most of the remaining viewers closed their windows, drew down blinds, or ran off in search of other places. Better not to mess with someone so skilled with a sword. In retaliation, it swung a heavy kick at the girl who had put out its eye. It missed horribly, spinning on the leg that remained on the ground. As one of its comrades bled, the other swung at Ewan. Its attempt at an uppercut was strong but pathetic, and it almost staggered back a couple steps. The Oni, meanwhile, took the fire giant’s miss as an opportunity to kick Aaron square in the small of the back with all its might. Although it managed to hit head-on, it only managed to slightly wind him. Still, he staggered forward a few yards, turning to look at the two giants that were attacking him.
Martin began spinning his spear, trying to give it a bit more kick and give him a little more height as he leapt, spear eventually finding its home in the Oni’s back. As he jerked out the spear, he could feel the red blood spurt slowly from the quickly-scabbing wound. The Oni staggered forward, amazed that someone could penetrate its thick hide. It roared in outrage. Meanwhile, Aaron rolled between the fire giant’s legs and swiped with a severe intent to kill at his achilles tendon. Although that area was unusually well-protected, he still managed to cause a significant flesh wound to the surrounding area. Ewan swung at the frost giant that had tried to hit him, stabbing deep into the hamstring before pulling his spear out. Icy blood flowed from the veins.
Jen twirled her wrist for show before leaping toward and stabbing the frost giant she had been fighting. Her blade struck home in its left shoulder, and as she pulled it out she could hear it grunt with pain.
Iris continued to speak with the wasps. “Please allow me to speak to the Queen.”
A large wasp moved to the forefront, obviously the queen. “I am she,” she said. “What is your desire, tall smasher?”
“My desire, o Queen,” said Iris, respect heavy in her voice, “is that you and your Hive aid my Hive in our attack against the great ones.” The Queen buzzed incredulously.
“You have a hive? What know you of hives?”
“That a human can form a hive-bond with other humans,” said Iris. “And that humans can understand the hive relationships. Please. Aid us. We wish only to distract the servants of the great ones. Is this acceptable?” The queen buzzed, moving back and forth.
“So long as you extract an oath from the tall smashers not to harm my hive.”
“After this battle has finished, o Queen, your oath shall be gained.”
“Then alongside you we shall fight, Friend of the Hive of Azanta. What is your name, tall smasher who is a Friend?”
“Iniz,” said the Queen, mimicking the name to the best of her ability. “Very well! Warriors! Aid Iniz! Distract the smasher enemies she indicates!”
“Follow me!” shouted Iris, and a large cloud of wasps (most of the warriors, although some remained behind to protect the hive) flew out behind her. The cloud caused several of curious bystanders to follow her.
At the battle, as Iris was convincing the Wasp Queen to have her hive help the Scions, Martin was doing something incredibly different. He had allowed the Oni to move slightly from him, but there were no fewer than two streetlights in the way. So Martin hefted his spear in one hand and shouted, “Blood for the Smoking Mirror!” He charged, his charge taking him up a streetlight. His boot kicked out the light as he leapt at the Oni, his spear piercing its ugly blue-green skull right behind its massive horn. The oni, unable to cope with the twin forces, collapsed onto the ground. While not out, it was certainly down as martin yanked his spear from the hole it had made and leapt off the oni’s prone body. The fire giant, tired with Aaron’s dodging and blow-withstanding ability, charged him with a ramming shoulder. Unfortunately for the fire giant, Aaron sidestepped the blow, dodging easily.
The oni, not content to remain an easy target on the ground, slammed a hand on the ground and pushed himself up, leaving himself quite vulnerable to attack. The frost giant that had been attacking Ewan aimed another punch, a colossal haymaker, at his target, but almost wound up punching itself instead thanks to momentum. Ewan took the opportunity the giant had given him to stab it and puncture a lung. Meanwhile, the frost giant who Jen had half-blinded was still seeking revenge for being made half-blind by the sword-wielding girl, and still swinging at her with all his might, despite the fact that his eye was hardly trustworthy. As it swung, Jen ducked in with her sword and sliced open an artery in its arm, causing it to collapse and begin to bleed out. It let out a cry of pain as it fell to the ground.
Martin wheeled around to the oni’s front, stabbing the massive beast in the stomach. While its thick fat absorbed most of the blow, a little fluid still leaked out. Jen took the opportunity of the giant’s distraction to leap at it and slice open its hamstring. The oni roared as Jen cut open its leg and began bleeding it as though she were a leech. Aaron swung his sword again at the fire giant, the sun glinting off the steel moments before he buried the blade in the fire giant’s stomach. The giant roared as it saw Aaron withdraw the bloody sword. It swung a massive haymaker to hit him, but instead it overcompensated for his dodge, spun around once, and landed flat on its face. It grumbled a few insults in Old Norse as being attacked in such a manner. Ewan, meanwhile, was looking for an opportunity to strike at his giant. Finding none, he held back.
The oni, incensed that Martin had actually pierced his fat, swung blindly at the youth. Martin, in a mood to show off, actually leapt onto the Oni’s fist as it sailed on a trajectory through where he had been before dropping down. The frost giant that Ewan had been harrassing lifted a foot and attempted to bring it down onto Ewan’s head, but missed, instead cracking the pavement with its massive stomp.
Jen swung again at the Oni, but this time its tough hide proved too difficult a nut to crack, and her sword bounced off the rhino-like skin. The giant brute laughed, turning around to grin at her. Martin felt that this battle had gone on long enough. His belief in his own supremacy had kept him going, his conviction that he was a great warrior who would be able to fight off a giant like this no problem. Channeling that conviction, he moved, spinning so that his spear would draw up hot asphalt from the pavement before flinging it straight into the Oni’s chin. He then ran up and grabbed the spear, pulling it out with unnecessary force. The oni, already staggered from the blow, stumbled back slightly before falling onto its back, its chin bleeding profusely. This angered the giant greatly.
It was about then that Iris arrived back on the scene, leading a crowd of wasps and a crowd of people. The wasps immediately began harrassing (but not stinging) the thralls, except those underwater; the people began running the other way. No girl who could talk to bees was worth getting caught up in this. Better to just call the cops after it was all done and let them sort it out.
Aaron moved before the fire giant could act, stabbing it in the ack of the neck. As he withdrew the blade, the giant went limp. Although it wasn’t dead yet, it was dying. Jen, seeing Martin’s display of conviction, raised her sword high in the air. “In the name of Lord Hades, I sentence you to your doom, foul beast, for corrupting this town!” She ran at the oni, kicking off her charge by pushing a manhole cover out of the manhole, flipping it like a giant quarter that landed face-up on the street. She leapt into the air, bringing her blade down in the Oni’s chest, and withdrew the blade as she rolled off. Iris, however, had a different idea. “Ul AIcheiy, ul Akkaris, naz Doroq!” Her chanting struck the oni again, but it recognized the curse this time, and fought to ward off most of its effects.
Again, the Oni stood, focusing only on the act of standing. Its hide had only been pierced by mortal luck; why should it fear these mortals? While it was thinking that and rubbing its chin, the frost giant Ewan had attacked swung at him with a massive fist, but in trying to avoid overshooting it instead plowed its fist into the ground near him, which caused a dust cloud to rise up. Ewan used the distracting cloud to move around to the giant’s back unseen. Meanwhile, those few thralls who had remained underwater were now resurfaced and swatting at the wasp swarm that had descended upon them.
Martin stabbed at the oni’s throat, almost the only unbloodied part of the giant, discounting its arms. The throat shot drew a great deal of blood, and as the spear came out smoothly the oni staggered back a fair distance (about six yards). Aaron quickly ran to where the Oni was and stabbed it, but the blade bounced harmlessly off the oni’s ugly clawed hand. Jen’s blade, meanwhile, moved so quickly through the air that it let out an audible whine as it cut into the giant’s kneecap. Ewan, however, was still fighting the one standing frost giant. He stabbed his spear into its ribcage, wrenching a few ribs loose as he tried to cajole the spear out. Takeru, sensing that he would be able to move unmolested (the buzzing of wasps, combined with the shouts of thralls, convinced him that Iris had been working her bee charm) and so he began the process of switching back to breathing air, moving to leave his cozy haven as he did so.
As Takeru resurfaced, he saw that most of the giants, with the exception of the oni and one frost giant, were dead or dying. The frost giant on Ewan swung, his fist missing Ewan in the rage of the wounded giant and instead smashing in the hood of a car. The Oni, still as dumb as ever, turned to Aaron and swung, but the young man ducked. This gave Martin the opening he needed, and he laughed a little as his spear missed its intended target, the giant’s heart, and instead hit the giant’s ass. The oni, for its part, grabbed the slightly-bleeding protrusion with both hands and howled. Aaron laughed. This was a battle he would survive, and that gave him courage. Courage which he channeled into a massive attack. “Valhalla!” he shouted, jumping high into the air and stabbing deeep into the oni’s chest. It collapsed just as the police sirens became audible. It looked at Aaron, and made a sneering face.
“Ka…ra…su…” It coughed up a small amount of blood. Ewan stabbed again at the remaining frost giant, and his spear pierced its heart. As the giant fell over, the cops fanned out from the car, guns raised.
“Put the weapons down and put your hands in the air,” came a voice from a megaphone. Aaron found himself on the receiving end of a glare sent by Martin, who dropped his spear and raised his hands.
“Whose idea was it to attack the giants in broad daylight?” The young Mexican’s tone was dripping with sarcasm.
“At least their threat is over,” replied Aaron. “…Ewan? Some help?” Ewan nodded.
“Excuse me,” he said. “This wasn’t really our fault…” He shrugged innocently, allowing some of his divine power to flow forth. “We’d just heard rumors about these villains plaguing your town, and decided to do something about it!”
The officers immediately began muffled discussion, all while several of their comrades kept arms pointed at the six. Finally, the one with the bullhorn turned it back on. “Very well. However, we have to make it known that vigilante justice is not appreciated in Kenneth, Kentucky. It’s that kind of lawlessness that leads to New Jersey-style crime rates.” Ewan nodded. “I think we can negotiate a fair fine for this first offense, so long as we get your agreement to stay out of the vigilante business from here on out.”
“That sounds good to me, sir.” Ewan nodded. “My Japanese friend here can tell you what happened.” The officer with the megaphone nodded. “May we place our weapons in our van?”
The officers conversed with one another. “I’m sorry,” said the one with the bullhorn, “but they’ll have to be confiscated for now. If you could please come quietly with us, we’ll sort out this whole mess at the station.” The six followed calmly, and as soon as they had reached the squad cars, two officers went and gathered their weapons. The officer who had had the megaphone looked at them. “I’m gonna need your keys, son,” he said, addressing Ewan. “I’m afraid your van will have to be impounded until we’re done. Matter of procedure, you can go to the impound lot after we’re done and pick it up there.”
“I understand,” said Martin, pulling the van’s keys from his pocket and handing them to the man. “Here you are, officer. The keys to the van.”
“Thank you, son.” As the six were put in two different squad cars (Takeru with the girls, and the other three men together), the officer took the keys and handed them to one of his subordinates.
The drive to the station was a short one, and the officer hustled the six into a back room. “All right,” he said, pointing to Takeru. “Start talking.”
“Well,” said Takeru, “to be perfectly honest, we weren’t trying to be vigilantes.”
“You willing to swear that?” asked the officer.
“Bring me the bible and I’ll swear to it.” The officer, still skeptical, had his subordinate bring a bible in. Takeru put his hand on it and said, “I swear to the Almighty, this is the true story.” As he said those words, some of his own divine power flowed into the room, altering the officer’s mind so that he would accept the outlandish-but-true story for what it actually was: the truth of the matter. “We were hired by my friend Aaron’s father to investigate these men who were making a mess of your town. We were told to permanently get rid of them, using any force necessary. And we were told, in no uncertain terms, that we would have to do this alone.” The officer nodded.
“And just who is your friend’s father?”
“That,” said Takeru, “would be Baldur, Norse god of the Sun. I know it’s hard to believe, and you probably wouldn’t be able to include that in your report, but believe me. Those five men weren’t just large men, but giants. And Baldur sent us to find them and kill them before they caused any more trouble.”
“Well I’ll be damned,” said the officer. He straightened his glasses. “I do believe you’re right. I can’t put that in my report, the judge would think I was crazy. I’ll tell you what, though. I’ll put it in that they were members of an international drug ring, and you’re with the DEA. That sound good to you, sir?”
“Sounds wonderful, officer. So… Will there be any charges?”
“No, no charges. No fine either. I’m sure we’ll find some sort of criminal record on these men.” Takeru nodded.
“You might want to ask the men they’d victimized if they were fed anything,” added Aaron. “Might help build the case that they were drugged by this drug ring.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” said the officer. “Now then, your van is at the impound lot. I trust you’ll know where to go?”
“Of course,” said Aaron. “And… our weapons?”
“They’re in the evidence locker for now. Stop by after you’ve gotten your van. You’ll be able to get your equipment then.” The six nodded. “Again, thank you for your time, son of Baldur and companions. I mean, Officers Lawrence and company. You have a safe trip now.” They left the building quietly, and they could hear the chief explaining things to his subordinates. “Yeah, Drug Enforcement, apparently those big guys were members of a drug ring. We’re going to want to interrogate the people involved in this, starting with Ryan Hanes, but they said it was…”
After getting their van, the six drove by the police station. The chief and his lieutenant were waiting outside. “Chief’s told me everything,” he said. “Undercover DEA agents tracking down a meth ring, I just have to ask why you didn’t reveal yourselves as DEA.”
“If we had,” said Martin, “would you have believed us? An Arab, a Latino, and a Jap along with three white middle-class Americans?”
“Two middle-class Americans and an Irishman,” corrected Ewan. The lieutenant nodded.
“All right, I can see why it’d be tough to believe. We’ll be conducting those interviews now. I’d ask you to stay for a while, but the Chief says you’re needed elsewhere?”
“Have to go back and file our report,” said Martin. “But thank you, officer, and if we’re ever in town again we’ll be sure to let you know.”
“Drive safely, Mr. Novida.” And with the Lieutenant’s last words, they loaded the weapons in the trunk and then drove off.
Martin rolled the window back up. “So… five giants, and one of them says Karasu. What’s it mean, Takeru?”
“Karasu? It means crow.”
“I meant metaphorically.” Martin turned on the radio. “Obviously he’s not reporting to an actual crow, that would just be stupid.”
“I don’t know,” said Aaron. “Giants aren’t exactly bright.”
“They’re not that dumb, either,” retorted Martin. “Karasu has got to mean something.”
“And their organization, too,” said Iris. “I mean, they don’t spontaneously organize like that. They don’t really organize at all, actually.” Aaron raised an eyebrow. “I think something’s organizing this, causing little chaos bubbles in preparation for something big.”
“You mean like a ritual?” asked Jen. “I can actually kinda see it. Some chaotic demon-summoning ritual conducted by a Scion who calls himself ‘Karasu’ and is trying to find the secret to ultimate real arcane power. Through… um… chaos.”
“If this Karasu has a ritual, we’d better be ready for it,” replied Ewan. “Wouldn’t want to be caught with our metaphorical pants down. I’ll begin by looking through the library of the next town we stop in.”
“And I’ll listen for rumors,” said Jen.
“I’ve got dibs on the tabloids,” said Martin.
“You just want to keep up with the amazing Bat-Boy, don’t you?” asked Aaron, laughing a little.
Martin laughed too. “Yes, yes, it’s all coming together now! Clearly the bat-boy is the one mustering the giants in a small Kentucky town!” At this, Iris couldn’t help herself, and she burst out laughing, complete with a very unexpected snort. The snort caught Jen off guard, and she began laughing as well.
“Iris the pig!” she shouted, and Takeru began howling. Even Ewan got in the act when Takeru muttered something in Japanese that Ewan was fairly certain he wasn’t supposed to hear. Not that he understood it; he just found it funny that Takeru had muttered in Japanese.
Speeding off into the sunset, nobody noticed the strange hitchhiker by the side of the road with a sign that read “New Orleans or Bust.” But he saw them, and he frowned. “My giants… killed by those six. I can smell their revolting human-corrupted blood from here. I will have to be more wary.” And the old man took flight, flying southward to New Orleans. “But perhaps my distraction in rural Illinois will work… mmhmmm… hahaha… yesss…” The karasu-tengu flew south even as the van continued to roll on down the highway.
Chapter One: Aleph’s Vale
A pair of people walked up to the customs counter. The girl had blue hair, and stood at almost five feet eight inches — and she didn’t have shoes making her taller. Her blue eyes were full of worry as she handed the TSA official her passport. Standing next to her was a short young man, blond, barely five six, with purple eyes. Their passports identified them as Mia Krupin and Ivan Reed, respectively. Mia was dressed in a flattering blue dress, while Ivan wore a suit and looked quite dapper. “And where are you headed?” asked the TSA official who was standing at the security station checking their passports to make sure their visas were up-to-date.
“Aleph’s Vale, Minnesota,” said Ivan, displaying a thick Oxford accent. “And we’d like to get there as quickly as possible, my good sir.”
“Of course, of course,” said the TSA official, handing back their passports. “Everything looks in order.”
“Thank you,” said Mia quietly, her Russian accent thick, and tinted with a slight amount of French. “Let us go, Ivan.” Ivan nodded, taking her toward the terminal. As soon as they were out of the TSA guard’s presence, she switched to Russian. “Which concourse do we take?” she asked. Ivan looked around.
“That one,” he said, speaking in Russian as well. “Leads to our flight to Minneapolis, and from there it’s a short flight to Aleph’s Vale.”
“I certainly hope so,” said Mia, and Ivan placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “The passports are still in order, yes?” Ivan nodded.
“Of course. And the visas,” he said. “Of course, since we’re traveling within the US from here on…” Mia smiled at that.
“Then they won’t check?”
“We’re in the country legally,” said Ivan. “They have no reason to check anymore.” Mia nodded, slightly more assured. Ivan’s words were a comfort to the woman, and he could tell without looking at her mind that she felt more comfortable with the faked passport. Ivan smiled as well, and continued down the concourse. “So what’s in Aleph’s Vale that’s so important?”
“Well, the Mysterium is concerned with something there, won’t explain what. We’re being sent to check it out, make sure everything is good.” Ivan nodded, switching back to English for the man at the coffee shop. “Two capppucinos, and a biscotti, please,” he said, smiling at the man.
It was Saturday, and in Aleph’s Vale that meant the VFW, all four of them, got in uniform and went to feed the birds. They were so predictable you could set your watch by them. Ten AM, bird-feeding. And at a glance, they were all there. Carl had been sick with a cold last week, and Burt had been hospitalized with pneumonia the week before.
But if one looked more closely, they would notice, leaning against a tree, a fifth face that blended in with the other veterans, a uniform that didn’t look any more wrinkled than theirs, a young man who was nonetheless feeding the birds, and hung on the periphery of the conversation. Still, he was hard to pick out from them, because he looked like he belonged. His cane certainly looked like it belonged. And his brown hair looked just ruffled and worn enough to fit in with William’s premature greying and scar from a grenade exploding near him in the Gulf. William looked at the fifth man, standing against his tree. “Felix,” he said, nodding. Felix nodded back, tossing a few crumbs to the birds. “Leg still acting up?
“I doubt it’ll ever stop,” said the young man, still leaning against the tree. “Then again, that’s what happens sometimes.”
“True, true. Nasty scarring. How’d it happen again?”
The real answer was something Felix could never actually say, so he went with a lie again. “Buddy of mine stepped on an anti-tank mine. Blew him sky high. Thank God it only got my leg.” William nodded. The two younger veterans always seemed to hit it off quite well.
“Girlfriend still doing all right?” asked the older of the two. Felix nodded.
“She’s just fine. She’ll probably be bringing some lunch by later.” Felix looked up at the sky. It was early November and it still hadn’t begun snowing; by Aleph’s Vale standards, the snow was late. Still, Felix didn’t mind; winter was a busy time for him. As he looked up at the sky, a few snowflakes began to fall. He sighed and placed a hand on his cane, throwing the rest of his bread crumbs onto the sidewalk. Fortunately, there weren’t many.
As if by divine coincidence, a young woman, pale-skinned with wiry red hair, walked up to him. Felix saw her as she truly was, a maiden of ice and snow, and she saw him for what he really was, a gaunt soldier with a machine-leg, altogether too thin. Felix embraced her gently. “Good morning, Felix,” she said, smiling.
“Karst,” he said quietly, holding her close. Felix could hear William snicker.
“That’s about your one defining feature, eh, Felix? Apart from your limp.” William laughed a little harder. “My wife doesn’t do that to me anymore. If I want a hug, it has to be my girls.” Felix smiled sadly at William.
“Still, it’s not a total loss,” said Felix. William chuckled and went back to his conversation with the other normal veterans. Felix stood, holding Karst around the shoulder and watching the snow fall.
“Nah, nah,” said a tall college student, hulking over his two friends, a good foot and a half taller than the red-haired girl at his side and over a foot taller than his other friend, a blond man wearing a yellow scarf. The tall one had red hair with a white streak in it and a shirt that said “UM AV” on it. “I’m just saying,” he continued, “that Felix has been pretty jumpy lately.”
“Can’t understand why he’d be jumpy, though,” said the blond. “I mean, unless it has something to do with me and Jenna.”
“No,” said the girl. “You’re fine in his eyes. I’ve seen it too, he’s begun drifting away.” The red-haired boy nodded. “And he kinda seems afraid of your dog, Isaac.”
“Hey, he’s not my dog,” said Isaac. “He’s Garet’s. I just take him for walks sometimes.” The tall man nodded.
“I’ll believe it when I see him and Garet together.” Isaac sighed. “Anyway, Garet, I think it’s because he got turned down at Grad School. Something about a lack of original ideas for research. Kinda struck me as odd, I mean, he used to be really good at coming up with original ideas for stuff.”
Garet shrugged. “Turned down wouldn’t make him jumpy, but it’s the best explanation we can come up with so… Jumpy it is.” Garet clapped a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “So, Jenna,” he said. “Is today the day we get to meet your mystery roommate?”
“She’s not a mystery roommate,” replied Jenna. “Her name’s Sheba and she’s nice. A bit weird, but nice.” Garet and Isaac exchanged smirks, and Garet chuckled. “I’m serious. I’m hoping we four can become good friends.” Jenna led them to a dormitory labeled Venser Hall, then up three flights of stairs and down a hall. She pushed open the door, which was propped open by a doorstop. “Hey, Sheba!”
Sitting on the sole futon that occupied the room was a girl, average height, blonde hair in a bowl cut, who looked up from the book she was reading — a course book for Chemistry 101. Sheba quickly set the heavy tome aside and waved hello. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and was wearing a smirk the size of Texas. “How’s it going, jenna?”
“Oh, good. These’re Isaac and Garet. Isaac’s the short one.” Jenna winked; compared to Garet, most of the football team was short.
Garet’s hand dwarfed Sheba’s as he shook it. “Nice to meet you,” he said. “Garet Carbone, mayor’s grandson.” He sniffed the air slightly; something about her seemed off in a way he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
“Isaac von Steinfaust, I keep these two in line.” Isaac shook her hand, rubbing his eyes a little. She seemed a bit “off” to him as well, though he couldn’t put his finger on it. It was a different kind of “off” than Felix felt lately, not so much distant as… well, he wasn’t sure what. Isaac looked for a moment at Jenna, then at Garet and Sheba. He smiled a little at Jenna. “Jen, I was wondering… If you’re not doing anything…”
Jenna pursed her lips and looked at Sheba. “Sheebs, don’t let Garet break anything.” Garets and Isaac’s eyes connected for a moment, and Garet knew what Isaac wanted him to do. Truth be told, it was something Garet wanted to do as well. The cute eyes, the purple eyebrows — such an unusual color, compared to her hair, had to be dyed — the earrings and that strange look in her eyes… Garet wanted to know more. And Isaac taking Jenna away would be… wait.
“Wait,” said Garet, “you’re leaving us alone together?”
Isaac laughed. “You may be impulsive, Garet, but you’re not fooling anyone if you think you’re that impulsive.” Isaac’s words carried a hidden tone, one that suggested if danger came, Garet could handle himself. And with that, Isaac and Jenna left the room.
“Isaac, I swear to God. I get a new roommate and you have Garet check her out? Do you remember Andrea?”
“Hey,” argued Isaac. “Garet knows better now. He doesn’t clown around as much.”
“Yeah, I just wish he wouldn’t wind up shagging every single roommate I have, ever had, or ever will have.” Isaac smirked.
“Sometimes I wonder if that’s his job, banging Jen’s roomies.” Jenna hit him playfully. “It was only a joke. Anyway. I was wondering, if you were free, would you like to grab lunch? Just the two of us?” Jenna sighed.
“Hang on, just lemme tell Sheba something.” Jenna leaned in the door. “Hey, Sheba!” she shouted. “Don’t let Garet trick you into sex!” Sheba rolled her eyes.
“I’ll be fine, Jen.”
Jenna nodded and closed the door, then smiled at Isaac. “Well, where are we headed?”
“I thought maybe we’d take a trip to Vaulten, there’s a restaurant that old Mr. Kraden recommended.”
“Mr. Kraden… You mean our old high school history teacher? The one who was wounded in Korea?”
“Yeah,” said Isaac. “Him. He says we can get a nice romantic lunch there on the cheap!”
“Ooh,” said Jenna. “Romantic lunch?”
“Hey, since when has old man Kraden ever let us down?”
“…Never,” admitted Jenna. “So… Let’s go?” Isaac nodded. “We taking your bike?”
“Nah, I managed to get Dad’s car.” Jenna grinned.
“Well then,” she said, “let’s get a move on!”
Garet’s ear twitched as Sheba looked at him. Off or not, he had to admit that she was kinda cute, and would probably be his type — actual type, not just “fling” type. “So what’s the white streak for? Mourning a grandparent?”
“Nah,” said Garet. “It’s a religious thing, you wouldn’t get it.”
“Ah, cool,” said Sheba. “That actually sounds kinda exciting.” She looked him up and down. “Jenna says you have a dog? Or rather, you claim to have a dog that she thinks is Isaac’s?”
“Yeah,” said Garet. “He’s really mine, quite friendly, about the size of a mastiff. Isaac sometimes takes him for walks.”
“So he’s a mastiff.”
“Nah,” said Garet. “He’s part wolf and I’m not quite sure what the other part is, some kind of mutt.” Sheba smirked. “We never got him tested. Afraid of needles, the big sissy.”
“Ha, I bet you’re afraid of needles too,” said Shea.
“A-am not,” said Garet. “Anyway. That’s not important. My dog, let’s talk more about him.”
“Nah. I like dogs, but I’d rather meet your dog than hear about him,” said Sheba. Garet smirked. “So did you read the paper? Full moon tonight, supposed to be some weird spooky stuff happening.” Garet laughed. “I’m serious! There’s this big article on the full moon!”
“Probably the student newspaper trying to make a big name for themselves on a slow news day. They always talk about weird things happening and then never actually find anything weird on nights like tonight, slow news nights with full moons or solstices or shit like that,” said Garet. “It’s nothing big.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing, though,” she said. “I think it’s kinda cool. Like a Weekly World News that seriously believes in Bat Boy.” Garet chuckled. “Maybe we could do something weird, just to get their hopes up, then show it off as a hoax!” Garet laughed at her suggestion. “I’m serious!” said Sheba.
“Like what?” asked Garet. “Paint ourselves red and perform voodoo on the Chicken God with KFC?”
“Why not?” asked Sheba, laughing a little.
“All right,” said Garet, grinning. “You get the KFC. I’m gonna make us both matching tartans. You decide what we say, I’ll repeat you.” Sheba grinned at his proclamation.
“And if I say something really weird?”
“I’ll do my best,” said Garet. Sheba laughed.
On the flight from New York, Ivan and Mia were separated. This didn’t make Ivan happy. Ivan was seated next to some strange Chinese woman, and Mia was somewhere on the plane — Ivan knew it was a few rows back but couldn’t remember the number. It was all very irritating.
Mia, meanwhile, was deep in conversation with the man next to her, a blue-haired Frenchman who was apparently headed to Minneapolis for a business convention. He seemed a bit young, but he displayed incredible skill with Russian, and also seemed to know more than he let on. Mia wished Ivan were here to talk to him, but such was life. “So who do you work for?” she asked. “Are you a big name firm?”
“Somewhat big,” replied the young man, who’d given his name as Pierre Picard. “Atlantis Shipping and Trade, you might have heard of us.” Mia’s eyes widened; apart from the Hammet Consortium, they were probably the biggest name in shipping in the modern world, and had roots going back hundreds of years. “I’m one of the younger representatives, sent to give the company a newer image at the business convention.”
“How exciting,” said Mia. “So what goes on at a business conference?” Pierre smiled enigmatically.
“Oh, many things. For instance, as a member of my company’s international branch, I’ll likely be talking with representatives from other countries.” Unfortunately, he was cut off by a loud string of what Mia assumed were Chinese expletives from the man behind them. That was when Pierre turned around and started yelling at the man in nearly accentless Mandarin. The two traded words, slowly calming down, and then Pierre turned back to Mia and said, picking Russian back up as though he’d never left the language, “My apologies. Inconsiderate idiots trying to use their cell phones mid-flight, despite regulations.” He smiled. “At any rate, one of the reasons I was promoted so quickly was because of my gift with languages.” But when pressed further on the promotion issue, he just smiled his enigmatic smile and gently shifted the conversation.
And Mia could tell that this would be the end of that line of questioning. She frowned slightly. “So… if you work for Atlantis, why are you flying coach?”
“My bosses,” he replied, “are notoriously stingy in the financial world. You could ask young Master Hammet up there; I’m not sure why Jean Hammet is flying coach, but I assume he has a good reason.”
“Er… yes, I’m sure he does,” replied Mia. She was thankful when the airplane’s snack cart came by; it gave her an excuse to get something to eat, thus keeping her from blowing their cover. She should have suspected that this Picard person would recognize Ivan; he may not have been all that famous outside of Europe, but she was fairly certain that someone in the financial industry would recognize the scion of one of the trade world’s giants. Mia quickly ordered a bag of pretzels and began eating them slowly.
“So, Mia, I assume from your dialect that you’re from Eastern Russia?”
“Da,” she said, over a mouthful of pretzel. “But I spent a large portion of my life in Nice.”
“Ah, parlez-vous Français?” he asked. Here, his Norman accent came in thick and strong, as though it had been waiting for a chance to show off.
“Un petit peu, monsieur. Je prefère la russe.” She spoke with a thick Russian accent, and Piers smiled.
“Ah, right, my apologies,” he said, returning to Russian. “Of course you would be more comfortable speaking your home language.”
She smiled and nodded.
At a cafe in Aleph’s Vale, two people were sitting outside watching the snowfall. “Autumn’s almost up,” said one of them, a man in his mid-thirties with blue hair in a half-shaved punk-ish hairstyle. He had a very large sword at his side, and a look in his eye that said anyone who questioned it would be in for the ass-whupping of a lifetime. Plus, if the police asked, he had a permit for the damned thing. Measuring by eye, it was probably about five feet long on its blade alone and had to weigh at least six pounds. He stared pensively into his coffee. “I imagine the Winter King will want to gather us all again.”
“Yes,” replied his companion. She was about the same age as he, her blond hair long and held via hairspray in an elaborate design. She had no weapon in immediate display, but her nails were quite sharp and seemed sturdier than most people’s. Her face was pale, with red marks that looked like unusual makeup under her eyes. “I wish he would just declare it to happen the day of the changeover already, though. Instead of a meeting on the Equinox. Who the hell stays in Aleph’s Vale on the Equinox?”
“Many people, I imagine,” said the man. “And, most importantly, all of us. I’ve a feeling the young King knows us better than we know ourselves, Menardi.”
“If you say so,” she replied, sipping her own coffee, which (at her request) had had several crushed coffee beans mixed in, and to which she had added something of her own — a dash of tabasco. “I just wish I could figure out why Agatio never attends. Do you understand it at all, Saturos?”
“He has a disdain for Winter’s commands,” said Saturos, taking another sip of his coffee, which he had infused with a great deal of sugar. The bitter-sweet taste excited his taste buds. “And with good reason. He seems to believe that the Onyx Court would lead us to folly, and I can’t say I blame him. From what I’ve heard, Winter left a distinctly unfavorable impression on him.”
“Hm. True, although at times he seems so eager to cause fear I’m not sure why he isn’t in Autumn’s hallowed grasp. Then again, I’m not sure he’s smart enough to realize he’s causing fear.” Menardi finished off her coffee and looked longingly at the biscotti near the register. “Once you’ve finished, I think we should be going.”
“Yes,” agreed Saturos. “On this we agree. …And by the way, Menardi?”
“Let Agatio know that his presence will be required or I shall hunt him down personally.” He finished his drink. “I would do it myself, but today is a day of practice for me.”
“Understood,” said Menardi. “Practice well, Saturos.”
“Well shall I practice,” he said quietly.
As the plane took off from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Aleph’s Vale, a man in the terminal opened his cell phone. “Mr. CEO?” asked Alois Picard, his French slipping into a dialect that hadn’t been used for over six hundred years as a living language.
“Yes, Alois? What is it?” Picard smiled.
“I believe I have some interesting news. I have found Jean Hammet. He is on a flight to a small town in Minnesota, in the United States.”
“The United States, you say?” asked the man on the other end. Picard nodded. “Very well then, Alois. Once this conference is over, I urge you to seek out young Hammet to determine why he is in Aleph’s Vale, if he is still there, and if he is not, why he went there.”
“Understood, Mr. CEO. I ask permission to take my leave of this conversation.”
“Permission to take leave granted.” Picard hung up and placed the cell phone in his pocket before strolling with his carry-on to the baggage pickup. He was glad Northwest didn’t have problems with baggage handling yet, unlike so many other major airlines. Within a few moments, his bags were unloaded from the plane and he had them in hand, and was in a shuttle to his hotel.
Ivan and Mia had the fortune to be seated next to each other on the tiny flight into Aleph’s Vale. The plane was small enough that every seat was practically Coach; the only exception was the front row, which Ivan had bought two tickets in. “Did you manage to get in touch with them?” asked Ivan. Mia frowned.
“After a fashion,” she said. “But all they said was that we would receive our instructions upon reaching Aleph’s Vale.” She sighed. “I’m not sure what he meant by that.”
“Well, hopefully it won’t be too complicated.” Ivan looked over the pamphlet he’d gotten from the Mysterium. “Says here that Mysterium Necromancers ought to be on their guard there. I guess we’re fortunate neither of us is a necromancer.” Mia nodded. “Hm. It seems to be a fairly normal town. Why would we be sent here? Unless… maybe a Seer Pylon has been unearthed?”
“If it were that,” replied Mia, “they wouldn’t send us, would they?”
“We have experience with them,” replied Ivan. “Even if we didn’t fight, I think they consider us to be a valuable resource.”
“Maybe it’s a negotiation of some kind?”
“The grand caucus is getting involved. I doubt it’s anything but the most serious of circumstances.”
“Well, do we at least have instructions for where to go?”
“Yes… to the University. Something about a Lewis School of the Arts.”
“We’re going to have to thank him for recommending this place to us,” said Isaac around a mouthful of a spicy gyro. “It’s a cool place, this is.”
“Mediterranean deli. I didn’t realize Vaulten had one,” said Jenna, taking a bite of her hummus. “But… this is really good.”
“I know,” said Isaac. “And I know there’s at least some greeks and turks in this area. I saw a gyro cart last time I came here, not sure where it is now.”
“A gyro cart? You can’t be serious.”
“I am! It was run by some orange-haired guy that looked like a shorter bearded Garet!”
“Now I’ve heard everything,” said Jenna, laughing. “A short bearded Garet?”
“Hey, if the description fits…” Isaac took another bite. “Anyway, I’ve seen the guy with Mr. Kraden’s son.”
“Ooh, you mean Sean?” Isaac mumbled something. “Oh, come on, there’s no need to be jealous,” said Jenna. “It’s not like I’m into him that way. I just think he’s an interesting guy.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” said Isaac. He looked at the TV hanging in a corner. “Is a score of two to one a good game in soccer?”
“Why’re you asking me? Garet’s the one to ask about sports.”
“Garet’s not here and his texts are indecipherable. Besides, he doesn’t know soccer.”
“Maybe that should’ve been your first point,” joked Jenna, taking a bite of the kebab she’d ordered. “Anyway, why me? Do I look like I’d know anything about soccer?”
“More than Garet would,” replied Isaac, finishing off his gyro with a grin.
“Somehow I doubt that,” said Jenna, finishing off her meal. She and Isaac put their plates in a small dish tub that was set out for just that purpose and headed out to the car. “So why did your Dad let you have the car?”
“He said he figured I could have it for the day. Said he wasn’t going to be going anywhere, and neither was Mom.” Isaac closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. “Really don’t want to think about it.” Jenna just giggled.
The plane touched down at five in the afternoon. By five-thirty, Ivan and Mia were in downtown Aleph’s Vale with two members of the local Mysterium, a pair of elderly gentlemen, who’d named themselves as Vladislav and Holcombe, were eating lunch with them. “As you are aware,” said Vladislav, “the Mysterium’s brought you to Aleph’s Vale. The reason is simple and sinister. We believe that the local branch of the Free Council has been infiltrated by a Seer pylon. Unfortunately, due to… faling-outs we’ve had with them, we’re in no position to warn them. We figured if you could get close to one of the more crucial members, onvince him of the Seer presence…”
“Done and done,” said Ivan. “What’s he called?”
“In the official records,” said Holcombe, “he’s called Megiddo. We have a photograph of him, but we don’t know his true name. It’ll be up to you to befirend and convince him.”
“I understand,” said Ivan.”Mia and I will work on that.”
“She’s fairly quiet… Does she speak English?”
“Only somewhat; she understands just fine, but she prefers her native language. La russe.”
Mia frowned slightly as Vladislav muttered something about “goddamn russkies” and “lame-ass tyrants”. “All right,” he said at full volume. “We’ll take care of your tab, and your hotel rooms are paid for. You’ll be staying at the Mariott, suite twelve eighteen.”
“It’s a very nice place,” added Holcombe. “Quality accommodations.” The tone in his words indicated that it was a safe place to practice magic, and Ivan and Mia guessed that the Mysterium had bought the suite from the hotel some time ago.
Agatio sneered at the sniveling coward in front of him. Ashardalon was a dragon, or should have been; his scaly face and arms gave that much away. And his yellow eyes had slit pupils, and there were probably several other signs but right now Agatio couldn’t even bother himself to lift up the man by that idiotic rag he called a head of hair. It looked like a toupee, and a badly-made one at that. If the tall, ogrish man had to guess, he’d say it was full of lice. “Please, please, Agatio. They’re gonna condemn me to death, you’ve gotta help me.” Agatio frowned.
“Unfortunately,” he said, pulling a small knife from his pocket, “they’ve already figured out who you are, and they’ve spent months gathering evidence. And it’s so amazingly compelling. It’s like they actually saw you drag those kids into the Hedge.”
“I never dragged no new kids off to the Gentry,” stammered Ashardalon. “You know that, Agatio!”
“I know that,” said the ogre, grinning halfway. “And you know that. But the rest of the freehold thinks it’s you, not me. I figure I can lay off for a little while.”
Ashardallon blanched. “Y-you mean… I’m going to…”
“Yes. I hear the Winter King has even prepared Tectrix for the occasion.”
“You…” Ashardalon was sweating like a pig, which Agatio was willing to guess didn’t feel too good in this weather. “If I’m gonna die, I’m calling you out before I go,” he said, the last of his courage going into his voice. “And you know what the Winter King thinks of you!”
“Yes, I do,” said Agatio, smiling. “And you’re right. If you told him, I’d probably be dead. But,” said Agatio, his grin darkened and thin, “you’re not going to tell him. Would you like to know why, Allen?” Ashardalon blanched. Agatio was fairly certain this was the first time he’d heard his name, his real name, spoken out loud in a long time. “Because I’m going to kill you tonight, without incident. Police will find a dead body, of course. A man who went missing years ago.” Agatio put on a pair of surgical scrubs.
“They won’t find the murderer, either. Oh, some poor mortal bastard who used to have a connection to you will be suspected and tried, and the cops will probably pin the evidence on him.” The knife flashed quickly, slicing hard into Ashardalon’s neck. “And then he’ll be given a chance to defend himself, a chance he’ll bungle. But hey, at least he’ll be able to see you in the afterlife.” A few more quick stabs, and the other man was bleeding out on the cold hard ground. “Oh, wait… You won’t be there, will you?” With the handle and blade wiped clean, Agatio knew there was no chance of the police discovering that he was the one who did it. He tossed the knife into the poorly-paved back-alley that served as the killing ground.
“Well, now to find the Winter King and tell him what I did… after all, ‘tis better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission…” Agatio whistled a jaunty little tune as he left the alleyway.
An hour later, a woman would scream and the police would show up to investigate a murder scene.
This is a lot more of a why not entry than my previous ones have been. All the last ones have been creative. This one's breaking the mold and posting just where I'm at in the game, unlockables-wise. And yes, I used GameFaqs to tell me how high of level I need to be to unlock certain classes. What can I say, I like knowing how close I am to random shit.
So, without further ado, the first Disgaea Progress Report!
SPECIAL ITEM SPECIALISTS:
Armsmaster: 1148/1900 (1248% Weapon Mastery Rate)
Witch Doctor: 10/100
Coffee Maker: 2/998
Medicine Man: 0/998
Social Worker: 6/998
Firefighter, Cryophile, Aeronaut, Manager, Statistician, Broker: Maxed Out
NEW CLASS UNLOCKING
F. Cleric: 37/100
Total: 111/300, 189 to go (37%) (0/200)
M. Brawler: 37/200
M. Warrior: 37/200
Total: 185/1000, 815 to go (18.5%) (0/500)
CLASS RANK/MONSTER CLASS UNLOCKING
M. Brawler: 37/100 - 4
F. Brawler: 37/100 - 4
M. Warrior: 37/100 - 4
F. Warrior: 37/100 - 4
Ninja: 37/150 - 4
Samurai: 37/150 - 4
Knight: 37/150 - 4
Archer: 37/120 - 4
Skull: 37/50 - 5
Mage: 37/50 - 5
M. Cleric: 37/100 - 4
F. Cleric: 37/100 - 4
Scout: 37/120 - 4
EDF Soldier: 37/200 - 3
Thief: 37/120 - 4
Faerie: 2 to go - 4
Spirit: 2 to go - 4
Golem: 3 to go - 3
Treant: 2 to go - 4
Winged: 2 to go - 4
Dark Knight: 3 to go - 3
Lantern: 2 to go - 4
Gargoyle: 3 to go - 3
Shadow: 2 to go - 4
Serpent: 5 to go - 1
Galactic Demon: 3 to go - 3
Dragon: 4 to go - 2
Undead: 2 to go - 4
Beast: 5 to go - 1
Succubus: 3 to go - 3
KitCat: 3 to go - 3
Prinny: 2 to go - 3
Total: 114/221, 51.58%
Tera Fire: 37/100 (37%)
Tera Ice: 37/100 (37%)
Tera Wind: 37/100 (37%)
Tera Star: 37/120 (30.8%)
Gun: 1/40 (RQ22 Common, Level 70/100) (Hit +218, All +121)
Armor: 1/40 (Amulet, Level 60/100) (Def +180, All +96)
Muscle: 1/10 (Muscle Brawn, Level 50/100) (HP +186, All +63)
Symbol: 1/10 (Imperial Seal, Level 30/100) (HP + 155, All +107)
*The Zeno Challenge is as follows: Begin Zeno (a Ranger) with a legendary version of the lowest-ranked equipment of each type (in his case, I chose guns, armor, muscles, and symbols). Go through each item world, fully upgrading with a specialist on every stat until you reach the Item God. You must beat every Item General and Item King along the way. Steal a legendary next-ranked equipment from the Item God. Repeat until Zeno's items are all at maximum tier. This is an endurance challenge, one I'm excited for! And as you can see, I've already got a fairly good start on some of the items. The gun in particular is coming along really nicely.
Why did I do this with this character? Because I happened to randomly get a legendary RQ22 Common from the practice map, so I decided "What the hell, let's train up a guy with absolute shit equipment — and train up the absolute shit equipment to be awesome!"
So while I was walking home from a friend's house, my mind naturally turned to making a magic system for no f***ing reason. Best read in an old-man voice alternating with a little kid's voice.
"As you know, magic has three power sources. The first source of power is nothing more or less than life itself, and as consequence of that death. The magic of life is not taken, but asked for. It is drawn by the Druid, who follows one of two paths. The first is the Path Vital, the path of the living. Vital Druids tap into the immense energies of life to work wondrous magic, but their powers are strongest when surrounded by living things... so in cities, where so much dead wood surrounds them, they have difficulty enacting their greatest magics. The second is the Path Withered, the path of the dead. Withered Druids tap into the foreboding and inevitable energies of death to work great and terrible magics, and they are at their strongest when surrounded by agents of decay, which is why so many of them carry fungal talismans and molded tomes with them."
"They sound scary."
"Ah, but death is as much a part of the cycle as life is, and in truth the Withered Druid walks a path as necessary as the Vital Druid's. Now, they draw their magic from its source as mankind draws water from a well. The well may seem infinite, but if there is no rain, eventually it dries up. A druid's magic is the same. And when druids cast their spells, as only druids do, they do so by requesting the land to allow them to draw magic."
"So... what other sources could possibly exist? I mean, life is everything except the rocks, and I don't think rocks are all that magical."
"A different way entirely. You see these bottles? These tools? They are the hallmark of the laboratory of a Wizard. Wizards deal in the alchemy of an unusual form of elixir called an Essence. Think of things which are not alive but still hold power. Flame, wind, water, metal, dirt. Emotion, component parts, all these things. Each has a magical essence that the wizard can distill and form into an elixir. And wizards drink these magical elixirs regularly so that they may gain access to their magic. After all, a Wizard's magic is not permanent."
"Tell me... if you ate until you were full to bursting yesterday, would you still feel full to bursting today?"
"Of course not."
"That's because your body has taken the food and turned it into something you can use. It has turned it to energy. A wizard's elixirs work the same way. They may last days, or months, or on rare occasions years, but few elixirs are permanent. And those that are are incredibly complex to craft."
"Of course, there are ways around that, but they're incredibly complex as well. So... in essence, pardon the pun, it is a limited magic. Now, wizards do not cast spells; casting is how druids bring their magic to fruition. Wizards produce spells, by converting magic from imbibed elixirs."
"What's 'imbibed' mean?"
"To drink heavily. Of course, that's ignoring the third and most complex brand of study. One whose power derives from a wholly human construct."
"Huh? But don't people make elixirs?"
"Yes, but they represent things that exist in the natural world. Summoners deal in an entirely human creation. They write arcane formulae, make complex diagrams, and call great magic into being. They declare that something is, via their arcane formulae, and will it into being. Of course, it's not as simple as saying something. They channel their knowledge into their spells, and it requires a great deal of study to create something that the world allows to exist."
"Really? Does it ever work?"
"Dragons exist, don't they? Legends say that dragons were first made by an ancient summoner."
"So... yes. Summoners can bring things into being. But it would be very difficult."
"So who's the most powerful?"
"Hmm. That's an interesting question. Druids' magic lasts for a certain time, but as all living things, the spells a druid casts eventually die. However, their power is tied to the subject. Wizards' magic lasts only so long as it is necessary. It can be quite powerful when it needs to be, but is rarely more powerful than that — more powerful spells burn magic more quickly. As for a Summoner... their magic is powerful and ancient and quite useful. But in their life, a Summoner may only cast one or two spells of that caliber. Hmmm... an interesting question."
So I've come up with yet another project. This one hopefully more able to be completed. Which really needs its own word. But anyway. This one's actually pretty simple in concept. I'm making a world. But instead of starting with a map or a history or even just a set of country names, I'm building it by detailing its history through its religions. So far I've got one religion named, the age of the world set, and the existence of magic confirmed. So some random details:
Civilization is about 5000 years old in verifiable recorded history.
Magic cannot bring back the dead or travel to other realms of existence.
The planet has one moon, and orbits a single sun.
I may develop the planet's system further, but for now? Nothing else.
So far, I've developed the following religions:
2. Ord Eltanism
This post will be updated to add religions. Once I've got a decent number of religions (I'd like you guys to help me determine what a good number is) I'll begin detailing the history of their interactions and stuff. I'm not sure how it'll go, and some religions may die, or split off into even more religions, or get co-opted. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
And then, once that happens, I'll post the results up here, one religion at a time! What do you think?
Once that's done, of course, I'll begin working on countries and stuff, as well as geography and things like that.
So the final category of Scion characters is here. *sounds fanfare* After this, I'm gonna put up the first chapter (once I've finished writing the first chapter). Also, I'm doing this as a Solo Test Run, so expect narrativized game mechanics. Fortunately, most of the mechanics I'm doing are battle, and that's surprisingly easy to narrativize (or not, if you're one of the Temple's D&Ders).
So without further ado, the last batch of characters: Your supporting cast!
Name: Becky Lawrence
Parents: Giovanni and Rosalyn Vischio
Appearance: An Italian-American woman of about fifty, Rebecca Lawrence has her mother’s hair — blond, beautiful, and probably to remain that way until she’s dead. Much to the consternation of those who are jealous of her, she doesn’t even dye it — she just puts conditioner in it every day. Her blue eyes shine from her face, and she looks almost like the goddess Aphrodite’s own daughter. She isn’t, of course; her true heritage is completely and utterly human, but she’s so attractive to gods that she’s gained something of a legendary reputation in the Overworld. She dresses in business casual, and she’s a media consultant.
Personality: Smart, cunning, and with a slap that can pierce even Baldur’s protection (her maiden name, Vischio, means “Mistletoe”), Rebecca Lawrence is her father’s daughter through and through, concerned with justice, what’s right, and keeping her heritage from becoming the butt of every joke from here to Sicily.
History: Being a Vischio meant something to her when she was growing up. It meant a lifetime in the national eye as her father, an Italian-American with strong ties to his heritage, became Governor of New York in the most contested election ever. It meant watching her parents grow concerned over the US branches of several mafia families. It meant moving to Wisconsin when all was done just so they would be able to escape her father’s enemies. And it meant meeting Mark Lawrence there, in college. Mark Lawrence, poor oblivious Mark Lawrence, who she is utterly in love with. Even though Mark’s father would say differently, according to Becky she’s had three children with Mark, and all three are perfectly wonderful.
Languages: English, Italian
Friends/Allies: Aaron Lawrence, Miles Lawrence
Main Rivals: N/A
Other Rivals/Enemies: Aphrodite, Isis, and any other envious beautiful goddess
Name: Chrissy Logan
Parents: Sunblossom Logan, Moonbeam Logan
Siblings: Sam Logan (Half-Sister, Scion of Baron Samedi)
Appearance: Chrissy tries her hardest to look like a woman. She stuffs her bra, she shaves with a religiosity that would make Jesus look heretical, and she even applies makeup as though she were an actual girl. She doesn’t prefer to wear dresses despite her assertions of femininity; instead she wears short pants and cute t-shirts. She takes great pains to wrap up masculine organs, and does not use public restrooms for that selfsame reason. Her hair is as red as her sister’s is black, and her eyes are a deep blue.
Personality: “Upbeat”, “optimistic,” and “downright perky” are the terms most used to describe Chrissy Logan. Chrissy refuses to let a bad day get her down. It’s almost as though she challenges the world to adversify her life. And yet, she remains a kind-hearted girl and a dedicated pacifist. Most people do not understand. Chrissy feels she can do the most good by being a pacifist. She also feels slightly worried, as many of the mental disorders in her father's line were some form of psychosis, and her pacifism also acts as a means of nipping those tendencies in the bud.
History: Christine Logan was born Christopher Logan, a name she felt didn’t fit her entirely. She disclosed her true feelings to her family and friends in fifth grade, and it took them a while to understand that she felt that, honestly, she was a girl. However, she is currently dating one of the friends she’s told who, in a coincidental twist (likely due to her sister’s nature weaving odd stories) is a man in the body of a woman.
Other Friends/Allies: Sam Logan
Main Rivals: N/A
Other Rivals/Enemies: N/A
Name: Damien Tanner
Parents: Marianne Tanner, Eddie Tanner
Siblings: Andrew Kyle Tanner (Half-Brother, Scion of Skaft)
Appearance: Black-haired and brown-eyed, Damien looks like the owner of an occult bookstore. From his horn-rimmed glasses to his penchant for sweaters to his strange necklace with alchemical symbols dangling from It displayed quite prominently, Damien saves the really ostentatious getups for when he’s leading his group of New Atlanteans — including his most ardent supporter, his wife Alicia.
Personality: Interested in the occult since early youth, Damien Tanner has become an enthusiastic man with a continued love for his job. He works with his wife to spread his brother’s following, although currently he only has a select few members, most of whom are enthusiasts in the Atlantis myth. Damien can get very defensive about his beliefs, but this stems from pride in his brother rather than any sense of ego. He fully supports his brother, but feels distrustful of the figure Mr. Nought who Damien believes is trying to tempt his brother into becoming an evil god.
History: Damien grew up fairly normal until a sick, wizened old man with not long to live came into his store one day and informed Damien that his younger brother was the son of a God, and would have to be carefully guided. Damien agreed immediately to guide his younger brother toward being faithful to the values that his ancestors had held dear… but he didn’t get the chance before Damien’s visitor, the god Skaft, had died. Damien instead became the leader of Andrew’s followers, although he still keeps in touch with his younger half-brother.
Languages: English, Latin, French, Atlantean, Greek, Japanese
Other Friends/Allies: The New Atlanteans, Nova Atlantis
Main Rivals: Mr. Nought
Other Rivals/Enemies: The Servants of the Six
Name: Melissa Arboria
Appearance: To mortal eyes, Melissa appears to have beauty unequaled by anyone they’ve ever seen, enough to make any woman at least slightly envious. Her eyes are bright green, her hair is a lovely auburn, and her skin is of an olive shade. The more ruthless sections of the female population might actually try to demean or embarrass her, but she can quite easily shut down even the meanest of mortals with a well-placed stare. She wears simple clothes that accentuate her good features and smooth over rough spots. To any observer who has the ability to perceive legendary beings, her skin looks like oak bark, and her hair is a mixture of oak and elm leaves.
Personality: Of the six dryads, Melissa was the one who they claimed was the weirdest. Her choice of the elm so mystified the other six that they began concocting theories amongst themselves about why such a tree would be chosen. Melissa, however, chose the tree for specifically that purpose; she enjoys causing confusion in immortal minds. She also plays the part of a naïve young maiden, and loves tricking young men. She finds tricksters to be kindred spirits, and enjoys their company (both social and physical).
History: One of six dryads to swear allegiance to Dionysus in exchange for the ability to bond to another kind of tree, Melissa Arboris chose the (in her mind) noble elm as her tree, in exchange for being called on one day to serve as a guide for one of the wine-god’s Scions. That Scion came in the form of the ever-curious trickster-god-in-the-making, Miles Lawrence. The tree-spirit has proceeded to gain a crush on the unsuspecting young Scion, who has fallen for the Scion of a Death God. Although she could likely teach him about several things, and could alert him to the fact that Mr. Nought is a Svartalf, he rarely asks her questions about things like that, preferring to focus on other important issues.
Languages: Greek, English
Fatebindings: Miles Lawrence — Mentor
Other Friends/Allies: Miles Lawrence
Main Rivals: N/A
Other Rivals/Enemies: N/A
Name: "Mr. Nought"
Appearance: A tall man in a fedora and a pinstriped suit, Mr. Nought looks like the slickest man in the world, with none of the trustworthiness. His thin nose is short and pointed over thin lips, and his entire face looks like it was squeezed thin in a vise before being ironed flat. His hair, white with what he claims “age”, is cut short, and his eyes glitter with an inhuman malice. He speaks with perfect enunciation, and sounds like his voice has been chilled.
Personality: Manipulative, slick, and boiling over with a cold rage at how humans have handled the world, Mr. Nought acts very much like a devil when he wishes to be, although most of the time he chooses to string people along into doing his bidding without backing them into legal loopholes. Or, as he puts it, “My tools are carrots and sticks. And a carrot can draw several horses on its own, while a stick is beating one horse at a time.”
History: The name “Nought” was chosen by the Svartalf, who has also called himself “Dr. Zero” on occasion. He has built up his legend as being the hardest man in the world to understand, and offically does not exist according to most countries — and in all others he moves as someone with the highest clearance. Nought’s devotion to the plans of Cathars is chilling to a mortal. Even Nought isn’t sure how old he is, but he figures it’s old enough that humanity wouldn’t believe it.
Languages: English, Old Norse
Other Friends/Allies: Akton
Main Rivals: Damien Tanner, Melissa Arboria
Other Rivals/Enemies: N/A
YES! BEHOLD! THE MAP OF RAIMAKE!
Actually, I've been sitting on this since last night, but as my printer decided to crap out on its scanner, I used the one downstairs just today to get it scanned and up on PhotoBucket.
Anyway, as you can see, Nishoukisun (the main prefecture where this takes place) is pretty far from the prefecture where one of the Maids comes from, Hankosaa (all the way down south). Also, for those of you wondering "WTF is Noboraki?" The Imperial Province, Noboraki Tokubetsuke. Basically, DC. And it's big because I felt like having it be bigger than just a city.