Fading Suns MUSH
Old Rumors

These rumors date from May to November of 2003

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Talk is cheap...listening is free [Fri May 10]
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Two Li Halan servants are overheard by a couple of guards who were over heard at a local bar...and it all spreads from there.

"Well, she was drivin' one them Scraver Rover's came driving upm ad as hell,"the older of the two servants states,"And you know when a woman is driving mad, cause dey is all over the place. Well he was ranting and raving, and she was as quiet as the clouds...nothing was said. I was scared, when a woman like that is quiet she is about to explode and I wasn't gonna be around when she did." then younger of the two servants is hanging on every word, when a Gaurd pipes in,"Yeah but he left soon after and all I heard was HIM yelling...and normally when they fight it is BOTH of them going at, but still she never said a word. One of the maintenance men was called up to fix his door. He said she wasn't there either..."

The two servants and the guard look at each other and cross themselves before the youngest one pipes in,"Well tha rover ain't here, and we ALL saw her kissing that Lord Gavalin in the court yard...."

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Mutterings [Sat May 11]
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Two guards talking amongst themselves:

"Well, all I know is, that woman came up out of the shaft, a look of fear in her eyes, fear and dread. Then, she scribbled off some note to the Baroness and went off, muttering something about her hard suit and facing the fires of hell."

"All I know is, sometimes, that woman scares even me.

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Teasing and taunting.... [Tue May 14]
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"I was there I tell ya," a young girl is sitting on a crate by a stall in the Agora," you all was just sellin stuff but I was sittin' near da cafe." Nodding her head she begins to talk again,"And she came in right after him, I hear she is bonded to that Li holl'rin' that tall one, and she was baitin' Sedosaien. talkin' about how he don't care 'bout no one, and stuff. And he told her to leave but before she does, I heard her jibe at him again, man does she ever sound like a bit....Um mean woman.." the girl flushes when older brother glares at her from near by and then she continues. "Well anyway he stood up and I thought he was gonne kill her through a bag of coins at her he did and almost hit her too. Then she turned around and told him a few more things and was about to leave when he came running over to her I thought sure he was gonna hit her, but he didn't he picked up the nag talking about looking for some girl that is missing." The girl stops and loosk around and waves for everyone to come a little closer and she talks in a real loud whispers,"BUT that ain't all it... That woman kissed him RIGHT here in the middles of the Agora, and hugged him too I thought he was gonna faint he seemed so shocked and then he turned and walked away some silly grin on't 'is face." Hopping off her crate she shakes her head,"Damned if I understand people screaming one minute kissing the next."

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Blood Spilled in the Agora [Thu May 16]
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Overheard among the merchants of the Agora:

"Aye, I was just taking a walk around, like, and I noticed that girl at the Cafe. Ye know, the one that's been walkin' about all in disguise like, lately. Anyhow, I just happened to sit down and take a rest at a bench, right, and..." "Ah, Tanner, I know whatcha was up to. Watchin' that pretty waitress at the cafe, you were!" *SMACK!* "Shush, you! Anyhow, liken I said, they was sitting there, the catgirl and that real tall Knight as she 'works' for. And they was gettin' all cozy, holdin' hands and such, when that noblewoman, that Hazat, walks up with her bodyguard and their horses. She walks right over to the two, and they start talkin'. Well, after 'bout five minutes, the Knight has to leave. He takes off, and the noble sits down at the table. They talk for a bit, and that girl is actin' like the Empress of the Cafe, she is! Callin' Jenn the waitress over and flirtin' like she allays does, just like the woman with her is any other Vargen! It shocked me, ye know?

And then suddenly, the girl stands up, and starts to walk away. She said somethin', I couldn't catch what, but I betcha a hunerd- nay, a thousand, firebirds that it was about that crazy Vargen that's set the rebels all in tizzy. Anyhow, the noble goes all white and quiet-like, an starts whisperin' to herself it looked like, but then three aliens- yeah, Ukari I guess- come out of nowhere, and surround the girl! A bad day to be wi'out that crossbow, eh? And the girl- Yea, Harli- looks upset, but just throws her cloak back and grabs a gun, pointin' it at the Ukari! One of 'em pulls one of them weird blades and goes for her gunhand, right? She tries to dodge, but it hit her arm anyhow, and blood was just ever'where! So the crazy thing reaches a hand up and starts wavin' for the VCG! All that time runnin' from bein' arrested, and she gives herself over, all quiet-like! I'll never unnerstand that 'un!"

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Monsters in Vargo City [Fri May 17]
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An Amalthean nurse discusses her day with a friend over a stall in the Agora.

"Well there I was.. helpin' out at the 'Malthean hospital when we all saw that big black thing' o the Duchess' fly in from th'North. A minute later I gets sent up to the roof and you'll never guess what I saw there.."

"Aye.. what'd that be then?"

"I tell ye, they had the ramp unfurled and these men in black armour were leading this.. this thing down it! I tell ye, scared me out o' my skin. Like a plain ol' moggy it was, 'cept as big as a horse, and it were snarlin' an' growlin' and stuff something fierce!"

"Ye' don't say.. a giant kitty huh?.."

"Aye.. I heard one o' the Dragon men say it had gotten sicky and needed treatment, seems they got a lot o' them out there in the Duchess' own stable.. Breedin' them as ridin' beasts or summat'. I'm tellin' ye.. with beasties like that around I wouldn't go out there for 50 birds.."

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Whole lotta shakin'... [Sat May 18]
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"...damned Engineer," mutters a Vargen merchant as he gathers up the inventory of his overturned stall in the Agora. "I thought he said it would be just a little shaking... nothing to worry about."

A fellow merchant, inspecting the cracked window of his shop, looks over and snorts. "Nothin' for the offworlders to worry about, that's for sure. Ya don't see many o' them among the wounded lined up at the hospice."

"Aye, well... I guess we should be thankful the hospice is there, though 'tis mostly bruises and broken bones they be treatin'..." The two merchants fix a level gaze on the teamster who makes this observation, then go back to their conversation.

"Anyway, I heard that several windows in the Cathedral were shattered, and a wall on the second floor of Keddick's collapsed..."

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An' more shakin' while we're at it [Sat May 18]
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" Didcha see tha' Hazrat woman commin' by?"

"Which one ya talkin' 'bout. They've got some wimmin in tha' compound...heh heh..."

*Whack* "Think proper thoughts or them priests with them fireguns gonna come knockin'. The one with tha' ugly temper, 'course.".

"Tha' di'n't make it any easier. Them's got lotsa temper most o'them."

*groan* "Tha' big tall one with th' long hair an' all them letters on th' back o'her uniform.".

"Most o'them are big'n tall but I think tha' tha' marshall thingy's got some letters on her uniform."

"Yeah, tha's her. Th'one with tha' bloody 'orrid accent. Kin hardly unnerstand a word. Talk proper's wha' I'm sayin'.".

"Heh...listen t'yerself man. Wha' about her."

"She got busted up pretty bad methinks. Tha' quake an' all. I saw her walk by...."

"If she kin walk s'not bad.".

*whack* "Whaddya know about thems sorta things? Her arm was bent all twisted an' stuff. I tell ya...s'not the way an arm is meant t'be sittin' on ya. Anyway...she came back the other way with a splint on i' a little later. Wonder wha' happened."

*shrugs* "Well, s'good t'see they bleed like proper folk anyway. They always seem so high an' mighty.". *groan* *whack* "Whaddya know anyway? She's th' one tha' helped them people up Enides way. She's okay."

"Oh...well...pity on her then...an' stop 'ittin' me!"

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Whole lotta shaking going on [Sat May 18]
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A guard for the Li Halan Lord of Antol is seen walking through the Agora escorting some women servants to the stalls for food and them just chattering away,"Well she came in with some other man carrying her like she was a sack o' potatoes. And She seems more concerned with the house then the Lord although she did finally go over to him...prolly hopin' he was dead or sumtin'."

The lead woman shakes her head a few times a bit sadly,"Well she got hers I saw her comin' down the stairs when they collapsed and she got stuck like a pig, her high and mighty self. Pancreator and light shouldn't have saved her or the baby, by that Sainted man Pater Basideus came right away, I am sure it were for the Laird, he being more 'mpo'tant then some loose scraver."She tsks and shakes her head slowly.

The guard pipes in a little as he can't seem to contain it,"Yes the light was fantastic and the windows were shattered, his lordship was stunned as was his Bodyservant, both of them cryin' over the likes of her."

THe head servant pause and shakes her head a bit snickering,"T'wer'n't her they were crying about, was the babe, we all know'd his lordship needs an heir an what with his sainted wife being gone...."She falls silent as they finally reach the stalls.

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Mantis Keggar [Sun May 19]
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Pancreator! Them Deckydos sure do know how ta throws a party!

Did'ja see wot them nobles were wearin'!? Or what they -weren't- wearin'!?

First, there wuz them nekkid folks an' them others in those tights all feelin' on each other... should'a seen some o'tha guests.. looked like some'o 'em were gettin' mighty 'ready' if ya knows what I mean!?

Diner was actually jes' -diner-.. .reg'lar food an' drink... -den- them's fighters came out an' one o' em kilt the other one! Twas a show or sumpthin! Sure enough, though.. one o'em were dead when it finished...

*Whew!* An' then tha shootin' started!

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I do declare [Sun May 19]
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Two servants outside the walls of the Tower:

"I didn't think the shooting would never end!"

"Well, it did...and it was all strange, I tell you! First, half of them running outside, using swords and pistols against those....armored things. And everyone else, remaining inside, a bickering and a nattering about protecting things and what they should do. Almost as big a ruckus there in the Hall, it was.

The other nods, replying, "Ain't that the truth! Then, just when it looked like those things were gonna get past Her Ladyship and those with her, it was amazing. One took out the creature's eyes with his sword, a group of soldiers arrived to take out the other one. The Hawkwood Lord, he was trying; but he got injured on the face. But...those other two, they were....acting oddly.

The next servant places a hand on her chest and nods vigorously, "The one lord, he went a diving through the arch, diving into that there Duke; and that odd girl, the one dressed in that strange coat, she just got up, walked over to the thing through a hail of bullets, and cut out something inside the critter.

"Strange goings on, I tell you. And, I wonders, why were those things trying to get into the Grand Hall - what were they shooting at?"

"I don't know I ...quiet, people are coming. Let's go talk somewhere else" and she tugs the other girl on the arm and they walk off, huddled and still talking.

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Hazat Invasion force? [Mon May 20]
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" You should have been here this morning... it was a mess.. that assault lander took up nearly all our room at the port.. and those soldiers were making such a mess.."

"Soldiers? Assault Lander?? Who were they?" the other man asked
" Hazat.. there had to be a hundred of them and you won't believe whos banner they were flying.. They had the Filsan crest on their flags!"

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That White Knight? [Mon May 20]
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More or less a story, yet still it can be considered a rumour. It all starts with a pair of Brother Battle. Who knew that Brother Battle liked to gossip?

"Chubbs," calls one of them, a rather trim man though hardened from years int he service to the Pancreator. "Rumour's got it on good authority that Nathan came about."

A rather large Brother, one that is infamous to only a few on Vargo nods. His name of course is Chubbs. "Yeah mates, he did. He did. He came about just yesterday morning. He seemed all noble, except he didn't wear the silks or the satin, didn't seem like he wanted to present himself as high and mighty. Yet, he came about for get this..."

"Get what Chubbs?" The man seems to smirk. "Hurry along, we gotta get going, the new command around here's strict eh?"

Chubbs seems to wink, and you'd never figure he is their chief scout. "Morning prayer. Then spent the day discussin' theology. I tell ya, fer all the jokes about The Stiff One, he sure is a decent guy. He didn't wear his vibro rapier, or his insignia. He wore this really keen lookin' ring mate, as well as the scabbard we got him and just a broadsword. Nothing more."

"Clothes?" There's even a soft snicker.

"Course he wore clothes, though let me tell ya a time I caught him when he wasn' wearin' no..." Chubbs trails off into laughter as both go about their morning duties.

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Love of Family? [Tue May 21]
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" Did you see her enter the Compound with that child?"

"Indeedy I diddy. What's more is I saw her in the Shop buying some little outfits for her. That sure isn't little Bella. In fact, looks a little like that fork tongued woman's child."

"Anand says the Lady said she was going to help raise the child now. Imagine that. And she even had a bed delivered to the Compound that read: Cherijo."

"Say, wasn't it rumored to the the Duke's child? Maybe that is why she is doing it. For family."

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Along the starlanes [Wed May 22]
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Hefting his gear bag over his shoulder, the pilot of the Freighter, Orion's Challenge, laughed, grinning over to his co-pilot, saying "Well, Cor, that sub-space communication came in while you were getting some rack time, the one about the Mocker's Delight. Light, I didn't think it was /that/ important."

Cor looks back at the pilot, eyes wide, "Look, Kenro, I know you're not into lantern shows and such; but that ship, well, carries one of the most renown troupes of Masquers around. Should be quite a visit, and if we could see them perform."

A few moments of silence ensue before Cor looks back to Kenro, "And, you said Kalesh V'Tiro and her partner were with them, getting a ride to Old Urth." His eyes getting wider, Cor continues, "You know, what that means, two of the Chorali, heading towards Urth don't you?"

As they walk off and begin to melt into the crowds, their voices fade away, only one or two words catching anyone's attention, "Venice" and "...concert before the wars."

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From the Light to the Claw [Sun May 26]
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" I dunno, I don't like it all that much," says on Hazat man, dressed in what appears to be the formal colours of a military uniform, to another who is also dressed the same. A quiet conversation in the Agora which is sure to spread outwards after.

"Well, he is marrying the Marquessa. He is family," says the second man in defense of whomever they are speaking of.

"True, but he isn't Hazat. He gets a few lucky wins on a battlefield with Brother Battle for Pancrator's sake and all of a sudden he's allowed to see all of our--" he is cut off though by the second man.

"Come on now, you are being a little harsh. I have seen him with Don Alvaro, the Duke himself and they seem like they are good friends. At least from what I've seen and he seems to like the kids. And just the other day he was asking me for advice, me... just another guy that wanders the halls of Jericho."

"Advice?" says the first, being a little more lenient in his tongue lashing.

"Yes, advice. I think he was writing poetry," there is a cunning grin, as if it were a silent joke that is exchanged between the two about the man they speak of.

"Hopeless," says the first.

"Aye," says the second. "Love can do that to a man, but alas he is our commander and afterall he paid for this coffee."

They break into laughter, perhaps another silent joke between the Hazat before they get back to their walking and away from their gossiping. It only takes a moment before variations of the story spread throughout the city.

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Note found near a cemetery [Mon May 27]
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A note found near a cemetary in Vargo that reads as follows:

What price is freedom?

A laughing child;
A loaf of bread, warm from the oven;
A dream of a better life.

The answers needed are here; and, they are in the past.

Two sides are opposed, mirroring one another.

A reflection of things that have been.
A reflection of things that will be.

To overcome, to achieve victory, sometimes one must work from within.

Passivity can do more than activity. The lessons of those who have gone before sometimes show us this.


The dreamer has awoken.

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Do lions mutter? [Wed May 29]
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Lord Peter must have been letting the guard on his tongue loose lately -- staff around the Hawkwood mansion have heard him talking about the services his House has rendered to the people of Vargo. Contributing money towards the reconstruction of the bridge, helping refugees from Menzel, spending enough money to buy most of a year's supply of grain, providing a haven for victims of the Fallen Templars, providing aid to the orphanage down the road, etc. etc. In particular, the phrase 'I'll listen to those terrorists the moment they help the people of Vargo as we have, rather than urging the sons and daughters of the world they /love/ to throw their lives away in violent and futile rebellion' seems to stick in minds.

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Grand Opening of Restaurante [Thu May 30]
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Now open at the intersection of Parade and Cliff, serving the very finest in traditional Aragonese cuisine: Restaurante La Plancha and Bar Tendido Cero. Grand Opening Celebration will be held March 12 5001. Come sample some of the best wine, apertifs, and prime gilled meats that Hazat culture has to offer, all compliments of the house for this one time only. This establishment requires no membership and is open to all patrons, however Management reserves the right to deny service to anyone impinging upon the enjoyment and comfort of other guests.

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Blood on the paving stones... [Fri May 31]
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Pools of crimson have recently been added to the decor of the ever so popular street cafe of the Agora. A table, covered in blood, chairs around it spattered with red, towels lying about, soaked through with blood, abandoned along with hope...
Another Vargen dead. By his own hand, though as the news spreads, the blame seems to settle squarely on the shoulders of the offworlders. Another dead Vargen, and who to blame?...

The details vary, some voices whisper of an offworlder plot to crush a possible Vargen rebellion by killing its leaders, yet others mutter of even wilder things, of grand intricate plots by nobles plotting against each other or demons haunting the shadows....

One fact remains the same amongst most of the rumors, of how the freeman Sedosaien took his own life one fine day, spilling his own blood onto the paving stones of the Agora......

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Arrivals [Sat Jun 01]
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Scene: Highport Station
Time: The present

The Mocker's Delight docked in the landing bay safely; its captain disembarking and going to speak with the powers that be on board the station.

Meanwhile the troupe began disembarking and after a quick, boisterous and nerve-wrecking visit to the Mall, boarded the Shuttle Effaxis: taking with them, several dozen suitcases, equipment and two Chorali: masked continually, dressed in white synthsilk jumpers and golden flowing capes.

Upon arrival in the Vargo terminal, and going through all appropriate and proper channels, the entire group descends upon the Hotel Helix, checking and paying for a month's occupation..

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Whispers in the Agora [Tue Jun 04]
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"Well I ain't seen her in days and last I heard she was leaving vargo," says Jenn the Cafe waitress.
An older lady pipes in,"Far as I am concerned good riddens to bad rubbish, she was trouble that one was...why she is to blame for what poor Sedosaien di to his self. Far as I am concerned, I am glad she is gone."
A younger Vargen man shakes his head,"Yeah but she was still one hot chick, Sed was a lucky man to have at least had her for a little while....Still I hear that she didn't leave Vargo, that she is still hear only she ain't all in one piece..."

A couple of VCG pass by the stalls where the three talk and silence reigns again as the trio break up and go their own seperate ways...

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Tales from Antol [Wed Jun 05]
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The refugees start to come from Antol with a strange story than the ones that most of Vargo knows.

...There was no violence in leaving.

The lord...he is acting all strange...fired all the staff

I heard after issueing the two orders, he went up to his room, and heard violence...

I saw the lord in the main hall as I was leaving. He was staring blankly at the wall...

If he is staying there...and no one else is there...how is he going to take care of himself? Maybe a serf?

The businesses is still running, everything is still running, but no one is in charge.

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Brave Almathean [Wed Jun 05]
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At first, a couple of soldiers speak.

"Yeah, did ya see the stick-like almathaen with the forked tongue? Ran right past the gurads and right up to the manor."

Teh seond one nods slightly. "A couple of horus later, they both came out, like he had been cleaned up, he was, and following meekly behind her. He got the fallen soldier's salute form everyone that had gathered there."

The first one just sighs. "Hopefully this will end soon."

Netx is a couple of vargens at the agora. "Yeah, that priestess brougth that li-horrelin lord into the agora. She went ot set down, and then started to berate him like he was a school-boy. He juts cried and took it. He did everythign she siad. He stared crawling on his hands and knees, even got humilated with a tomato on his head."

The second one pipes up. "Yep, came into it late. But he seems to show a bit more backbone, but still refused to do anything about his bondmate, saying she never loved him. Strange people, offworlders. The last the healer said was that she is going to fight for him. I didn't think that Almathaens fought at all?"

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Blockade over? [Fri Jun 07]
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Two travlles are discussing their trips:

"Yeah, just back form enide, and was coming along chegen, when I hit antol. i was used to seeing the troops guarding the border."

The second one nods. "Yeha, that li-horrelin lord, the one that used to be with the scraver. Hear he isn't anymore, she is just gone, or dead."

The first one nods. "Aye, that one. Well, anyway, I was used to seeing the troops up there. But today, not a man or woman in sight, except for that road guard that seems to be awlays there."

The second looks at the first, "Truly? I haven't heard of a reacall order."
The first nos. "Yep, it seems that they are not sealing it anymore." The two begins to have a drink.

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Shaky foundations [Sat Jun 08]
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A servant and a guard watch as a messenger leave the compound before heading back to Shomes.

"All I know is, they won't let that little one go out there to her. He's near frantic. She wouldn't be able to say anything anyway - unconscious she is, And even when she's awake - well she don't say much."

The guard nods, eyes serious for a moment. "Hard when duty and honor compete with what...." he shakes his head, tapping the servant on the nose, "Now, you're making me talk poetic...we can save that for another night." The servant smiles coyly, a little laugh before her eyes grow serious, "Well, yes, Diego.... but still. What was she doing out at that church? It's all in ruins. She's just strange anyway. Who'd prefer digging underground, stead of being outside anyway?" Diego's eyes shutter, flicker from side to side for a moment, "I don't know, 'Cheta. Place is spooky, St. C...well, people always wondered why it was left like that." Diego curls an arm around 'Cheta's shoulder and they walk off, heads dipped together, whispering.

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Missing Persons Report [Sat Jun 08]
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" Darkness consume me, he's gone!" says one amalthean to another.

"Who Marlene?" there is concern evident in the voice of the woman that speaks to an Amalthean bedside of an empty bed. The only remains to show that anyone was there is a slightly ruffled set of sheets.

"That man, Lord Nathan Justinian, at least he is a Lord now. He is gone, he was here an hour ago and we discussed theology and I went to get his medicines and now he is gone..." she seems rather worried.

"Oh he just stubbornly left or something," though the headshake from Merrik shows that perhaps that is not the case. "Though his weapons are still here, rather just one... a shield of some sort."

The worry begins to set in. "We must inform the Hazat at once, at least the Marquessa," they both nod to this and she goes on, "He is missing, perhaps Darkness took hi--" though she is cut off.

"Silence oh no, the Pancreator watches over good men like Nathan..." and both mutter a prayer in latin.

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Cerulean Blue [Sun Jun 09]
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4 men are sitting in the Soveriegn State talking over the gambling tables and drinking whiskey like they was water,"Well I was there I saw it, she was riding this big black beast of a horse and wouldn't come down, claiming she was on the business of the Duke,"a snarl of derisiveness,"far as I can tell that Duke is too busy with his new toy to care about doin' some real business." The 3 other men all laugh and nod," well,"one pipes up," a lady is as good as a courtesan but cheaper all ya gotta do is compliment her and she spreads like honey."

A round of drinks arrives and all the men drink them down before continuing. "Well anyway, she was brought before Lord Shiraku and he started fire off question at her, and she was smooth as silk. I was even believin' the lies she was spewin'. She was real slick until that ring she was wearin' got seen, stupid move that..." he is given yet another drink as he continues to talk,"The Lord got suspicious then, started demanding she remove her hood and wanting to see her face and she kept refusin'...finally he told us to shoot her and she was on the horse and all and it started getting nervous, but she calmed it down and then finally removed the hood she was wearin'. Can you believe it was that scraver bitch we been searchin' high and low for, stupid idiot." One of the men gapes at the other,"Your lying, we all know'd she is dead..talk on the street says the Lord of Antol killed her and cut her up and your captain's have been scattering the remains all over Vargo."

The first man gets up and punches the one spewing rumors and starts to beat the hell out of him for nothing other then slander. The bouncers come along and break it up as the other patrons look on.

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Choirs of angels, here on earth [Sun Jun 09]
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As the two priests move about the Plaza of the Prophet, followed by a few acolytes, they speak wonderingly; and, it is perhaps one of the few times that their students pay rapt attention:

"It was as if there were choirs of angels here on Vargo, to hear her sing. And her songs, they seemed to touch, here..." the elder priest touching the area of his heart, "...as if she could see right inside you, tell you what you were feeling and thinking."

The younger priest nods his head in reply, "Yes, Father Ansalo, I quite agree; but at the same time, it was as if another stood in her place. Did I not hear her say that the words were not hers; but the words of Him?" eyes glancing up towards the sky.

The acolytes whisper amongst themselves softly, eyes remaining on the backs of the two priests, avidly waiting for another word or two.

"Of course, that is evidence of the Chorali belief - a true devotion to the Prophet - perhaps it is why He gifts them with blessings we cannot begin to comprehend, my dear Anton."

"But she is so unusual, so tall and those strange, strange eyes. Surely she must have some power to make even /him/.." glancing towards the Avestite temple, "...smile (truly a miracle!) and hum along. And she stayed and spoke to that engineer who seemed so ill for quite a while."

"Yes, Yes, she did. Perhaps before devoting herself to the Chorali, she was a member of the Amalthean sector - as caring as she seems to be. I am glad that I heard she would sing at that play they are talking about. /She/ has said that any church member is welcome to attend, that it would please her that it (the performance) is open to the entire public." He smiles, and they continue to move onward, melting into the crowds, "What was it she sang about the stars and time?"

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And Then There Were Three [Sun Jun 09]
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Three men are sitting in the Sovereign State talking over the gambling tables and drinking whiskey like it was water:

"Hey, have you heard from old Gatlin lately?"

"Nope, not since that day he was talking about ladies here that day."

"Speaking of, I saw that Lady Lisabeta pass through earlier. Weren't we talking about her just yesterday?"

"Ayup. I hear she's been asking questions about that Scraver harlot. Ya know the one that they say is so loose she wouldn't know the father of her baby if she eva were ta get knocked up?"

"Ya. Heard she's been trying ta get an audience with tha man. Whadayacallhim? High Inkeysator?"

"Well I don't know. But she was also asking about Mazorca. Like she was figuring it all out but needed more. Oh by Saint Vargo. Hush, here she comes out of the Members Only Area."

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Sex and Violence [Mon Jun 10]
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" Your hear what happened in the Delbairn house?" - "No, but there was a might uproar last night." - "Certainly was. Old Del found his son in bed with his lover." - "Old Delb has a lover?" - "No, the son has." - "Really? Woah, respect. I thought he was one of them... I mean..." - "Yeah, that's what everybody thought. And we were right. That lover was a man, one of them offworlders." - "He was?" - "If I say so. In the service of the Mantis, too." - "Whoah. With Old Delb's stance towards Mantis, that's..." - "Enough reason to attack him." - "He attacked the Mantis soldier?" - "Well, yes. Pretty much the whole family did, Delb and his other two sons." - "And?" *laughter* "You know, the Delbairn now need a new door, new windows and definitely new furrniture." - "They roughened him up?" - "Nope, not a mark on his angel face after the fight, and he seemed to have enjoyed it enormously. Then, he kissed the son and left, laughing." - "Weird."

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Carnait Finally Gets Hers [Thu Jun 13]
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A waitress in the street cafe leans over a table on her break, talking to her boyfriend about what she saw just a short while ago. "Oh yeah, she was just standing around singing with Ravael and that new Masquer, when Lady Sofia rode in..what? A rebel song? I don't know..I wasn't paying attention, it was just singing...some kind of fighting song, you know I never pay attention to those.." At a comment from the man, she shakes her head and folds her arms over her chest. "I'm getting to that! Anyway, that Decados baroness was sitting down here, and she'd been having this thing with Carnait the whole time...no, contempt. Who's telling this story, anyway?"

The tale breaks off as the man begins to plead for more of the tale, and finally the waitress is mollified. "Well, anyway, the two nobles started talking, and something must have set Carnait off, because she started muttering under her breath. And that just set the Hazat off, so off went Lady Sofia on her horse, up to the woman. And what do you know? Pretty as you please, she said in a voice as loud as anything, Lady Sofia was shaming Duke Alvaro and all the Hazat with her ways towards the Vargens."

The waitress pauses a bit, for dramatic effect as her words sink into the startled man, before continuing. "But that's not all! Then, up from out of nowhere, came those Ukari..they grabbed Carnait and held her down and started hitting her.." She starts gesturing with her hands and telling the story, though she's starting to get a bit confused. "And then that Muster Chief came in..or no, it was that Brother Battle Commander, first, and she started saying how Carnait belonged to her, and punishment had to be from her. And then /Porter/ started saying how the VCG was in charge, but he let Mendoza have her anyway.." Her hands move wilder now, as she starts to tell the exciting part. "And then, Sister Mendoza says that Carnait can't talk for two weeks, and she's going to get twenty lashes in the square..and she calls for the whip, and strips Carnait down to the waist right then and there!" She shivers at the thought, before continuing, still excited. "Then she grabbed a rope from out of nowhere and started beating her, as hard as she could, until her back was all broken and bloody and.." The man interrupts her, and she frowns. "No, I don't /like/ that kind of stuff! Hey, here I am telling you what happened, and you start accusing me? What's wrong with you, anyway?" And the conversation dissolves into yet another lover's quarrel, the sort that the Agora is known for.

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The end of the Ducal family? [Fri Jun 14]
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The seneschal of Iriskaya is on leave, taking a brief trip into Vargo city with a group of Freemen friends. They sit in the street cafe talking amongst themselves.

"I'm tellin' ye.. I'm dead worried about th'Lady.. Ever since that last trip into the city she's been actin' very.. strange."

"Strange? Well nobles is always strange.. How d'ya mean?"

"Well.. she spends a lot more time with her daughter, just sittin' with her, watching her in her cradle and I'm tellin' you.. I ain't seen her smile once since that day."
" Well, maybe she got wind of the rumours 'bout the Duke and 'is cousin.. Heard they been.. fiddlin' around more 'n is healthy.."

"I dinna' think so.. The lady was never one to listen to rumours like that, not 'bout him anyways.. Ye don't think?.."

"..Ye don't think what?"

"Ye don't think she may have found out they might be true, do ye?"

There is a shrug from the assembled masses, and all move on to lighter topics..

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Rash Affront! [Sat Jun 15]
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Two Li-Halan guards are talking to a Hawkwook guard from across the street.

Hawkwood: "What in the blazes what all that commotion a little while ago?"

Li-halan: The guard grins while the other just shakes his head. "The Imperial knight came charging up to the manse on his horse, never left it once. He came up through the courtyard, yelling about how he was on imperial business, and then had his horse kicked down the door. Turns out the knight was after a noble who had been seeing the Lord Shiraku."

Hawkwood: The guard sort of blinks. "Who?"

Li-Halan: "He was once known as Sirac, Shiraku is apparently his real name, and the other is a nickname, left over form his army days. He has changed a lot since his wife and bondmate died, meaner than ever, even injured one of the guards for running his mouth during a practice bout." Hawkwood: The guard sort of blinks at that one. "Oh really? Then what happened?"

Li-Halan: "Well, the lady cassandra apparently knew the knight and the Lord Shiraku knew them and the relatiohship, but I am getting ahead of myself. He ordered us to surround the knight, saying he had no authority there, and to use any means necessary to subdue him. Officer talk for if he resists, kill him."

Hawkwood: THe guard sort of blinks stunned at that and continues to listen.

Li-Halan: "Well, the knight was wanting to ride through us, but knew he might be endangering both him and the lady, so he didn't. He then told Shiraku that he was leaving since that is what the li-halan lord asked him and that he would make reparations. The lord shiraku said that a private apology was not good enough, and that it had to be public, to which the knight sort of got a bit ruffled by that. Then the lord Shiraku let the knight leave, but then he congratulated us on our fine job, and ordered us to spread it aorund. Nobles, who can understand them."

Hawkwood: The guard nods his head. "Isn't that the truth, why I saw a noble...."

And they continue to discuss gossip.

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Into the night... [Sat Jun 15]
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The brothers battle guarding the bridge are standing their silent vigil when at a fast pace a dark horse bearing two dark figures passes the length of the bridge, its riders engaged in quiet conversation. Like wraiths, they are, and after the beast's passing the guards turn to each other in some curiosity:

"What was that, brother?"

"I know not - a rider, clearly, but who and where bound, I could not say."

As things often do, this tale becomes one of many around the city, but some light is gained when it is added to two others - one, the oft-repeated story of the Imperial Knight invading the Li Halan compound, and the other, the mysterious absence of that same Sir Artur from his manor house.

Clearly, he has gone, and with him he seems to have taken the Lady Cassandra, who has disappeared once more into the night.

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A strange event [Sat Jun 15]
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It's a pleasantly sunny mid-afternoon in the Agora, the merchants are hawking, the beggars are crying for alms, and the normal serf and freemen folk of Vargo go about their business of buying and selling, just as it has been for hundreds of years in this city.

Until the screaming begins.

"The lord rises.. the lord rises in the south!"

People gather in a ring around the woman, who has collapsed, her shopping spilled beside her, on the cobbled floor. Her eyes appear strange, vacant, and she thrashes and contorts as she continues to yell cryptically. "The lord calls his viziers to him. The lord devours his viziers. In the void the Ebon Dragon rises and tears the hearts from the trees.. The gateway lies shattered.." There are a few yells from passers by now calling the woman to shut up before the Avestites arrive, and one or two youths have started throwing stones, but the woman only seems to get worse, her ranting becoming increasingly manic. "..The nightmares circle the lord, infecting the living.. They seek the bowl, the bowl of dreams and.. Oh Pancreator! Dragons and nightmares! Dragons and nightmares! Dragons and..."

The taunting of the crowd is broken as a cold wind suddenly blows through the Agora, whistling from the south. It seems to chill right to the bones of the passers by, causing adults to shiver and children to clutch at the legs of their parents. Of one accord the gathered masses turn to watch the vast blanket of dark clouds that rolls slowly forward from the Deep recesses of the Southern Ocean. "Look!" someone cries, and the crowd strain to see the tiny flashes the seem to flicker across the now black southern horizon, like bolts of sickly lightning.. A man drops to his knees, another follows him, and towards the back of the crowd a woman mouths gently. "Pancreator have mercy.."

Within minutes, the cloud has cleared, but far into the distance, one area still seems to retain a fraction of the darkness it took on, as if the very colour has been drained from a small patch of the sky. For a moment, a feeling passes through the entire planet, a feeling that something terrible has happened..

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A sudden takeoff [Sun Jun 16]
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Military Field, Vargo City Spaceport, Late in the night.

"She came stormin up ta that big, black ship without a word an' she was up the ramp, followed by her stormtroopers at the quick march... that ship was up and off quicker than I could spit."

"Which way was she headed?"

"Out over tha sea."

"Wot's got the bloody bug queen all up in a tizzy?"

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Proprietress Holds a Private Party [Sun Jun 16]
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Restaurante La Plancha Aragonesa, early one morning; Pedro the barkeep, having his brains picked by the cleaning crew:

"Did I see what I think I saw?"

"Ah si, looks like her ladyship spent the night downstairs again."

"What, in the winecellar?"

"Si si, la senora has it quite cozy down there with sofas and everything."

"Believe I saw a few others last night pass behind the curtain and slip down there too.....couple of Hawkwoods if I'm not blind, and some frilly-dressed lord I didn' know. Wonder why she stayed all night? Beggin' yer pardon Pedro, but she didn' look too good when she left few minutes ago."

"You shut yer trap, none of yer business what la senora does at her own 'stablishment."

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Carik's - An odd place for music [Mon Jun 17]
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Well, it was there the other night that the tall drink of water who was a singing in the church the other day was seen. Acting as if she hadn't a care in the world, she was, seeming to be happy only to let music and song drift along.

Now a few others, they came in and listened for a time.

Some lady with bandages on her hands who later left with tears in her eyes and a confused look on her face.

Some lord who got all angry and upset by the Singer's choice of song (especially when she started that duet with the other tall drink of water (guy who plays that Baleeset thing of his).

And then there was that VCG man who left all in a hurry (thought is name was Crayfish or something like that).

I tell you, the whole place was silent while she was singing, it was. And no one knew if they should be a clapping or just watching quiet like. Sure wish we get to hear her again. But if I don't, what I heard was great. You know, she sat there for a long time, talking to that Baleeset man after they done sang that loverly duet.

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Him! [Mon Jun 17]
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Overheard among the idle wives shopping in the Agora:

"Have you heard?"

"Heard what?" Replies one younger wife.

"'E's back. I saw him come walking through the Plaza and up into the Cathedral. I wonder what it all means.?"

"Shush you, leave the Church's business to the Church."

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Asylum… [Mon Jun 17]
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The heavy metal door of cell 15 of the Oubliette guild swings open with a clank, sending a stream of light into the darkened cell within. The chaplain, a robed Avestite with a stern expression and bushy eyebrows, makes his way down the dripping stone steps, accompanied by two uniformed Vargen boys recruited to help the guild handle it's patients. The Avestite's eyes swing back and forth across the cell, eventually coming to it's occupant, a bald man who sits rocking gently in the corner, clutching his hands to his chest as if afraid of what they might do. Those bushy eyebrows curl inwards in a kind of contemptuous frown.. Before the chaplain's analysis is interrupted by an astonished noise from one of his aides.

"Holy..."

The chaplain turns slowly, to see what disturbs the young man, and his eyes fall upon the opposite wall to the cowering wretch, or more precisely, the markings, drawn in the man's own blood and excrement, that cover the stone. They display a winged stick-figure, arms outstretched, surrounded by broken, disjoined looking stickmen, who seem to be writhing on the ground. The rest of the wall surrounding the primitive picture is coated with crude writing. The Avestite turns to the aide who spoke first..

"You, boy.. Tell me what that writing says."

The boy gulps, and with a shaky voice explains.

"It's just a load of random things, sir.. Talks about an 'Ebon Dragon' and 'Nightmares that fly on the wind,' and some kind of bowl as well.."

The Avestite shakes his head slowly, and after a while his voice comes firm and strong.

"Take this wretch out and give him fifteen lashes for his sin, and you.." he turns to the other aide, "..clear this heretical filth from the wall."

However, as the two quickly scuttle away, a strange expression has come over the Avestite's stern features. What does this mean? What evil could have created this, and most of all, how does an illiterate man manage to scrawl all over his cell wall?

Shaking his head, the Chaplain turns to leave the cell.

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Once Lost but Now Found [Tue Jun 18]
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A tall, dark-haired woman in a crimson jumpsuit with a gold embroidered claw upon the breast makes her way to the nursery at the Hazat Compound. When she finally locates the child she seeks, she kneels down to the ground, smiling, holding out one hand in supplication. "Come," says the noblelady softly. "We have found her. She is resting at the Hospice, surely awaiting the sound of your voice."

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Vile deeds in dark nights... [Thu Jun 20]
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Ugly rumors around town - bad things are afoot.

"Two of them! Women, aye, their hearts cut out, left lying there in the street."

"Pancreator... What kind of monster...?"

"Some Gehenne-spawned madman - punishment for our sins..."

"Do the VCG know anything?"

"I haven't heard - I did see that detective, though - the one with the trenchcoat - Santa Vargo, he looked like an angel of vengeance, only with no place to go avenging..."

"I hope they find him... Have they found any more bodies?"

"I don't know, but I worry about my daughter... I mean, these were just ordinary girls!"

"Light... I'm locking my door tonight."

"Aye, me as well, and I pity the fool who doesn't and loses wife or child."

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Troop Movements? [Fri Jun 21]
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One dockworker to another in the Vargo port:
" Yeah, Ol' Ned said he saw a buncha old barges from Filsan haulin' a whole mess of them Hazrat soldiers over inta them Li Holleran lands right across the river. All geared up with their guns and their armor an' everything.."

"Wunner where they're goin'"

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The rematch! [Sat Jun 22]
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Pancreator! I thought they might kill each other... that big Brotherhood warrior and that black lady of death... they wuz ready ta strangle each other, they were... that lady were not happy with that big man and didn't seem to be intimidated... he kept callin her stubborn and that she was making the situation worse an' it had to be, that she hadn't a proper clue to what was going on... she said that he shoulda died for what he did, that he betrayed her and tried ta start a war.. it were gettin ugly an' then that other churchie came in all short'o breath and led the big one off... An tha' Carnie woman.. By The Pancreator, does she have a wish to die? It wasn't a week ago that she pissed off that Hazat lady right here in the agora and she's got the nerve to start up with that Dekydos Spawn of Gehenne?

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Wroom wroom!!! [Sat Jun 22]
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-
This running through the Agora of Vargo and every street from there on out.

"Didcha hear the noise last night?"

"Aye, ye'd have t'be dead nae t'hear. E'en me ol'e deaf mum asked wha' the blasted ruckus was all about."

"I saw them huge bloody tanks...yeah, those...you know, those big Hazat ones....drivin' through the countryside. They looked like they were headed somewhere particular too. Not like a standard patrol or anything"

"Heh...how'd ye know? Did it have "I'm headed t'location X" painted on th'side? An' if i'did...when did ye learn how t'read ye brummy git!?"

"No, I'm serious. Honest. Those huge monsters...".

"An' so wha'? The Li Wossnames have bigger tanks than those Hashi-whatevers anyway.".

"Uh uh...not like these. These are bigger. Bloody awful I tells ya! An' all the little ones were comming along too. An'...I could've sworn the air around me was alive. Tha' was creepy."

"Yer a halfwit. Livin' air? An' tanks tha' big? Get real."

"I'm TELLIN' ya...I'm bein' honest here. Promise. On me grandmothers grave!"

"Nottle, yer grandmother was eaten by a tusk-beast out Seren's way. She doesn't HAVE a grave!"

"Oh...erhm...well, you know what I mean, buggo. Mark my words, somethin' big's gonna happen."

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Blood and bells at sea! [Mon Jun 24]
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The nobility of Vargo is abuzz with gossip after a day of fire, battle, and most importantly wedding bells aboard the good ship Vixen:

"Indeed, my lord, I was there. A touching ceremony by Father Marten, joining those two lovebirds... Ah, I'd wish that when I find my lord, he's just as handsome as that Quamar. Lady Sofia is so lucky. The vows were heartwarming."

The lord this estimable young belle is talking to seems a little impatient. "Yes, yes. Marriages are sweet, I suppose... But battle? I hear there was battle." He seems almost eager to hear the story, and most regretful he wasn't there.

The lady blushes. "Well, yes. But I will admit, I spent that particular time under a chair, frightened out of my wits - Demons, the priests said! Ten of them, the size of houses they must have been!" She's gesturing wildly and probably exaggerating.

The lord raises an eyebrow. "Ten? The size of houses? Wouldn't that swamp the boat?"

She smiles. "Well, perhaps two, and perhaps a little smaller. But they were most frightening, I promise you that. And they destroyed poor Lady Sofia's wedding..."

Nodding, the lord asks, "But what -happened-?"

"They destroyed Lady Sofia's wedding! All the guests got up and started fighting them, the Lord of Antol with his swords and that prospector with her knives defending Sofia, one of those Brothers Battle flailing about with his staff- and that Questing Knight just slashing with some invisible blade that clove one of those things in twain! Gunfire from soldiers, yells from nobles, fire - it was all very exciting."

The lord seems frustrated by this remarkably imprecise account. Resignedly, "What else happened?"

The lady brightens. "Well, then His Grace and another Hazat arrived... The Lady Sofia's father! They weren't too pleased about the wedding, and they started fighting - well, discussing heatedly - the matter with the lady."

The lord nods. "I see."

"That's about when I left... I thought I'd be better off away from three Hazat - and three Hazat tempers. Still, the whole event was exciting..."

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Wedding Gift [Thu Jun 27]
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Pedro the barkeep eyes the nobleman as he passes through the bar and out onto the terrace. Sill polishing the glass in his chubby hands he walks out from behind the bar over to a window which is his favorite vantage point. He observes as pleasantries are exchanged between the proprietress and her guest (or perhaps not so pleasant, by the look on the lady's face). After a few more words spoken on either side, the nobleman unbuckles the scabbard and sword from his belt and offers it to the lady. She takes the scabbard and draws the blade forth, holding it aloft while she says something. Pedro moves quickly to the doorway and listens intently to catch what she says.

"Well--that's a strange name for a blade," he muses, and then as an afterthought, "No...not strange...sad...."

The lady replaces the sword to the scabbard and steps forward, apparently to give it back to the gentleman. Pedro steps away from the door suddenly and clears his throat, ashamed of himself. He does not catch any further snatches of conversation, but watches as the two nobles speak a few minutes longer. The lady offers her hand to the gentleman, which he takes in his before leading her towards the door. Hastily Pedro scrambles behind the bar, watching from the corner of his eye as the pair leaves the bar walking down Cliff Road at a leisurely pace.

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The Ring [Mon Jul 01]
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"Did ye see that rock Carnait's wearing now, nice as ye please?" one Vargen hissed to another over a mug of ale in the Vortex. "Has she no shame, then, to flaunt her wickedness so?"

The thin woman who sits besides the man shakes her head and clicks her tongue. "And you, always looking for evil where there may be none. What makes you think that ring's from the offworlder? Maybe she finally saw the error of her ways, what with th' man fooling around with that Battle and all. 'Guns' indeed..I'll bet I know what gun /she's/ thinking of. Maybe she finally is settling down with some good honest Vargen."

The man, however, shakes his head darkly, tossing back the rest of his glass and glaring at the woman. "Do you tell me what I saw, woman? I tell you she was shining, sparkling brighter than that diamond she wore. And who's she been shining for lately but that Musterman, indeed now? You'll never convince me she wears it for anyone but him."

At that, the woman shivers. "Imagine if it's true..what'll he do, what'll she do, now? No one will trust her..no one /can/ trust her. He'll see everyone she sees..he'll know everything she knows. And doesn't she know.." At this point, she drops into low, worried Vargen, at which the man nods in return. "They'll all die, all of them fool enough to trust her." he intones solemnly. "Pancreator have mercy.."

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Church Gossip [Mon Jul 01]
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A Eskatonic tertiary and a Brother Battle auxiliary meets as usual on the Plaza of the Prophet, taking the opportunity of a slow saturday morning to meet and chat about things. Simply put - to hear some gossip.

The Eskatonic Tertiary, a man in his early twenties, lead the auxiliary to a more quiet spot of the plaza, peers around a little innocently and then asks "I have heard that things are happening out in your monastery?"

The auxiliary nods slowly "Yes.." he whispers "They have locked the monastery, only letting Brothers and Eskatonics enter.. or so I have heared. I think it has something to do with you Eskatonics.. they have been running around there a lot lately, and they are always treated like the most important of peoples"

"The Eskatonics!" Tertiary Kevin says surprised "Your Brothers runs in and out of the Auberge so often that I know many of them by name. A lot of secret letters and books being carried here and there. That huge stubborn Brother is there every other day.. he know the library better then some of the Eskatonic monks!"

Marcus hushes "Keep your voice down.." He quickly looks around, but they are as always being ignored. He continues with a low voice "I know about letters being sent to the Orthodox too.. and one of our monks had an important meeting in the Cathederal with some priest and that Lady Sofia of the Hazat"

Kevin blinks and tilt his head as he searches his memory "I was right here when that meeting took place.. Brother Elexarpeh met that stubborn Brother just down the road here" He points up north as he speaks "The both quickly approached and entered the Cathederal, talking quietly to each others... it looked like something both secret and important to me.." Kevin has already started to see the conspiracy, perhaps a side effect of being close to the Eskatonics all days long.

Marcus hmms silently while he carefully peers around, trying to see if someone is spying on them "Perhaps that is the reason why they are up to something at Enide.. I know that we in the Brotherhood have a close relation to Lady Sofia" The auxiliary enjoy finding oppurtunities to say 'we in the Brotherhod' and smiles slightly "Brother Samiloth was quite irritated when the Claw treated the Lady so bad after that wedding.. furious even.. um.. or so I have heard.."

With a nod Kevin agrees to what he hears "I have heard similar things among the Eskatonics, it seems like the Lady are very well liked by the church sects.. Perhaps they are doing some kind of Divine blessing for her in Enide. I have heard that major theurgy rituals demands privacy and many priests.. Perhaps they call for an Empyrean guardian or something like that"

Marcus frowns "Um.. I think it is more likely that they bless their weapons and armors. Perhaps they fear for the Lady's safety.. I have myself heard that she is truly faithful and that she would be a good example for other nobles to follow, and you know how fanatic the Brothers are when protecting such persons.."

Kevin nods and peers around nervously, he clearly see how the conspiracy grows. He takes a deep breath and continues...

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The Dare [Mon Jul 01]
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" Right, real quick here Freddie, before we open the merchant stalls, but this is the scoop. Speakin' 'o' tha' Musterman who thinks he is tough..." the first merchant is cut off by the second one.

"Thinks he is tough? Whadderya mean thinks? He's got a big mout' an' big guns to back 'em."

"Shaddap. Anyways, he was talkin' to tha' Harli woman. Nice Vargen ya know? She's all for tha' cause that ain't a cause no more. Anyways, then he stands up on a chair, then the table 'o' this very cafe. It's dead night, middle of tha' night an' only a few peoples is listenin'. Well we all sure listened when we heard a shot fire. Right into the air. Says he don't care who wants to kill 'im, just get tha' balls to do it. Then he stands down, looks at tha' nice Vargen gal Harli--" he's cut off again.

"Second time ya called 'er nice. Ya thinkin' o' somethin'?" He grins. Then the man is slapped on the arm.

"Shaddap. So he looks at' her an' says he don't need no handouts. He ain't 'fraid 'o' nobody."

"Can't blame 'im. I hear he kills peoples, ya jus' don't know 'bout it. He's worse'n a noble, cause he don't gloat 'bout it. Tha'--" it's a who can cut of who contest.

"Listen Freddie. We all know 'bout 'im. I think she jus' has 'im all riled up. Nobody in their right minds'd try to kill a guy tha's like a snake ya know?"

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Secret Mission [Fri Jul 12]
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I heard a couple o dhem ngineers talkin dhe odher day. Sumethin bout dheir Chancellor gettin involved in thangs he shouldnt be gettin involved wit.

Really, like whut?

Dunno xactly, but evryone seems to be involved in dhis stuff one way or anodher. I heard dhem talkin bout sume Lt. followin orders for sume secret mission.

Secret mission, like whut?

How should I know, its secret remember? Anyways, nothin goodl come o dhis mind ya.

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Killing in the agora. [Thu Jul 25]
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Well, there was the tall LI-halan lord in the Agora. YOu know...well, there was anohter lord, a Mantis...what they call a Decaods. Well, anyway, this little hazat servant went shopping for something, and these two came right after her. THe hazat could fight, but barehanded, she was not a match against these two. The woman....changed. SHe did things that no normal human is supposed to be able to do, and the man...was shooting lightning out his hands...or somehting. WEll, anyway the li-halan stps in fornt of the hazat to protect her, and says they can't do this. They did it anyway, finally getting past both the lords, and there was a priest there too. He was praying over the body. But the Li-halan managed to kill the woman assassin. Last i saw, the VCG was carting the bodies off for study...

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More from the Oubliette [Wed Jul 31]
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Physik Meleth pushes open the swinging double doors that lead into ward two, wondering what the disturbance must be this time. Around him, harassed looking orderlies struggle to control patients who are fighting their bonds and straps with every inch of their deluded lives. The sound of mumbling, groaning and the occasional revelatory shout fills the close, windowless room, creating an atmosphere of complete anarchy.

One of the orderlies runs towards the new arrival, who is standing, looking very annoyed at having his midday meal interrupted, at the door.

"Physicker, thank the Pancreator.. They've been like this for nearly an hour now.. We just can't calm them down. Even the stuff we bartered out of the Scravers doesn't seem to be working on them." His face is white, his lip trembling, he is too young for this kind of work.

With an impressive stride the medic makes his way down the hall, observing each of the patients one by one. A bearded face looms towards him from a restraining bed, his dribble has left yellowing marks on his Oubliette gown. "They're coming.. Don't you see, doctor, they're coming to get me! The dragons are traitors and the viziers carry knives behind their backs.. Poison! Everywhere is poison!"

With a distasteful sniff the physick moves on, to the next bed where a woman thrashes wildly against her restraints. "33.. 33.." she shouts. "..33 souls at the gate, and a thousand faces break their prison!"

The physick has heard enough, turning to an orderly he yells his instructions over the madness. "Go to my private medical cupboard and remove the three green jars you will find there, and bring some syringes." The orderly watches open mouthed, "..But sir.. that stuff is illegal, if the Church knew we'd used it.." The doctor doesn't wait to hear the end, "Just bring it, now! I want order in this ward and I want it NOW!"

Turning away he subconsciously bites his lip, hoping to all the angels of the Empyrean that the orderlies do not notice the hairs at the back of his neck..

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A Curious Game [Thu Aug 01]
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An off duty pit boss from the Sovereign State enjoys a break at the Cafe with his friend, an Engineer Jobtech from sublevel 15. Naturally conversation concerns the events of the day:

"Well.." the pit boss announces, "..That one eyed Hazrat was in the Casino, right.. When the Madame comes down an takes a seat at a empty gamblin' table.. Before I knew she'd sent someone to call him over."

"Aye.. Lookin' for some action was he? Ye know what them Hazreds are like.."

"No ye' daft taffer, she was lookin' for someone to play with.. Ye' know she's always fiddlin' with those wierd glowin' cards. They don't come from no game I've ever seen. Well she had those and she dealt them out and they played.."

"Aye.. and what happened then?"

"Well they played fer a while, and talked, I didn't hear what t'was about, and then the Hazrat won! Beat the Madame fair and square! I'm telling you, she looked like she was about to cry.. Then she pushed this big bag o' money across the table.. must've been a fortune! Well over a thousand 'birds fer a single game."

"Gee.. Perhaps I should visit yer' Casino more often.."

"Aye.. but the wierdest thing was his face afterwards, that Hazrat looked like he'd just met the Pancreator himself, at least you'd think it from his face."

"Aye.. must be some game.."

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Chaos [Tue Sep 03]
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" Madness.. abseloute madness I tell ya."
" What's ye on about now. It ain't more o' those odd shaped vegetables again is it? Ye' know auntie Dorris damn near had a heart attack last time you.."

"No, did ya not hear? There was this big battle in the Agora like.. all nobles and guilders and such sluggin' away at one another.."

"Battle ye say? Now that sounds like news, what happened then?"

"Well this funny lookin' bloke turned up in the 'Gora and started talkin' this freaky shit 'bout darkness and the like.. And then the Baroness bodyguard, ye know.. well he goes mental and starts tryin' to kill 'is mistress.. Next thing ya know the funny guy is gone and all these nobles and stuff are there tryin' to kill this one bodyguard.. I'm telling you.. the Duke was there with all his men, only they all mowed down some innocent folks too so the Duke went in and took this guy on with his bare hands in the end.. and that bard was there two.. shootin' with this wee little gun which didn't do nothin at all, not to mention that other mantis.. the one with the bleached hair who fancies himself big time.. and the fat girl who heads up the Scravers too, with this wierd gun which fired bits of wood around.. Twas like the pancreator himself had come down to Vargo to and had a bad headache.."

"No kiddin'.. sounds like quite a show.."

"Aye', but in the end twas that Musterman wot got him.. put a cap clean through his head.. It took them long enough, but they got that bodyguard in the end."

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Insert Spanish Word for Drunk [Wed Sep 11]
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" Aye, 'e has a terrible voice, but 'e was singing," says one roustabout to another. "Yer pro'lly gonna ask how I know this, but I heard it from one 'o' his troops." The man seems to slump over a counter as he continues with his story. He's smirking, though not the menacing kind, the surprised and eager kind. Eager to get a story out.

"So what yer tellin' me," he takes a slight pause to nod to Karl for another. "Is tha' Porter, the guy who quit drinkin', was supposedly seen comin' from the Duke's compound, tha' Claw House, an' he was stinkin' drunk?"

"Aye, again, I have to tell yer. Yeah, he was stinkin' drunk. An' tha' Duke's men loaded 'im into a truck an' sent 'im home. So the truck brings him up tha' road." By this time, Karl hasn't heard this part of the story and decided to become interested in what is happening. "An' so Porter literally falls from the truck to the floor an' they drive off." There's about to be an interuption, but he puts up a hand, to signal that his story is almost done. "So then, they hasta carry 'im inta tha' house he an' Carnait share." There's a tisking sound from the man's mouth. "An' here's tha' kicker! He only had three glasses 'o' tequila." The bar seems to just shake their head as a whirlwind of thoguhts emerge in the form of faceless voices.

"No good troublemaker...."
" Well he hasn' drunk in a lon' while...."
" Remember he used ta hang here every day...."

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Posterbills [Thu Sep 12]
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Posted in the Agora, throughout Vargo City and surrounding fiefs:

Lords and Ladies

Citizens of Vargo

You are cordially invited

To a Grand Aragonese Fiesta

To celebrate the groundbreaking in construction

of the first bullring on Vargo by House Hazat

This grand revelry and merrymaking

Will take place on 12 October 5001

At Restaurante La Plancha Aragonesa and Bar Tendido Cero

Both provender and beverage plentiful shall be offered to all

As well as live music and Aragonese folk dancing

Courtesy of the proprietress

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Seclusion? [Sun Sep 15]
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Two people are talking by a stable in the Agora.

Man: Hm...things seem to be quiet now...especially in the outlying fiefs.

Woman: Yes, no news from any of them. The Li-halan seem especially quiet.

Man: He just nods his head. "Heard that the two that actually rule hav pretty much gone into seclusion.

Woman: The woman blinks at that. "Really?"

Man: The man nods. "Yeah, I even heard from on of the servants that the Lord has preety much been asked why he is not going out. He just replied. "Becuase there is nothing out there worth my attention, and there is not likely to be." He affects a mocking air when he repeats it."

Woman: THe woman listens, then giggles. "You shouldn't do that."

Man: The man sort of grunts again. "Bah. Well, they are welcome to stay up there. I doubt anyone will miss them much. I know I won't."

Woman: The woman just sortof nods and the two continue with thier regular duties.

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No bells, no rings, but... [Sun Sep 15]
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" What?"

"Yes, that's right - Porter and Carnait, married in the center of the Agora, with an Avesti presiding and the Duke himself giving away the bride."

"What?"

"I've said it once. We all knew it would happen... Still, it was rather sudden. I was talking to a fellow who saw it... The whole thing began when Carnait -tackled- Porter! And then the Duke arrived, and some priests - an Avesti, an Orthodox, and that Brother Battle woman. Oh, and his daughter."

"I imagine that'd raise a stir. Pura's not a quiet one, you know."

"No, she isn't... And it did. Still, Porter kept her quiet, well, until some Mantis lord pulled a gun. Then she and that detective and the Brother Battle all pulled their guns... I swear, I thought it was going to be a firefight. The Decados put his gun down, though, and left. Very odd."

"I'll say. They -did- get married, though, didn't they?"

"Aye, aye... They did, and it was a beautiful thing. I saw a tear on the Duke's face, even... And Porter seemed happy."

"That's an odd enough thing on its own. Still, I suppose it's nice to have something pleasant happen in the Agora, for once. A welcome break from all the violence."

"Aye."

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Fighting gets you Ale [Sun Sep 15]
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It seems that the Gannock is full of patrons, though once again a small debate arises from a certain table. No weapons are drawn but on one side there are a bunch of Muster troops, people that hardly visit the Gannock as often as the debate personel on the other side, which are Vargens. It seems that a shouting match has occured and Karl has just tuned in. Afterall, this is his bar. Wiping a mug without even properly washing it, he smirks as he listens to what the representatives from each side have to say.

"You offworlders are all the same," says a Vargen man wearing a hood. "You skew ya facts, an' make it seem like we is ta' blame..."

"Awww stuff it you lazy sons of bitches," says the Muster in retort. "You jus' can't accept some sorta happiness can ya. You always seem like ya hate for the sake of hating."

"Tha' man has brain washed her!" shouts a Vargen woman from the rear. "Yeah!" goes the cry of folk to support it. The hooded man from the front seems to nod. "Now she isn' opposin' you so much, like we don' have no freakin' leader. He's makin' sure we don'--"

Again the same reply, "Stuff it you morons!" There's an affirmative nod from the muster that stand behind this roustabout. "You sure are stupid aren't you. Don't you realize that when you take up arms over a silly revolution, you get killed and possibly captured? See? Hatin' for the sake of...."

"Says you! We were free!" And before the people can shout out more, the musterman makes another point. "Free and cold in the winters, until the Wheel heated your homes in Eastbridge. Free an' homeless, until the Vargo Civic Guard employed half of its enlistings with happy, working Vargens. Free an' starvin', until Lord Hawkwood gave wheat an' cargo fro his stores for nothing at all."

The Vargens stand by to listen, they really can't put up a fight against such easy logic. Though some seem to disperse from the crowd, other hardcore pro-Vargens stay to fight the good fight (well it's a debate). "You offworlders jus' enslave us wit' yer prices an' yer markets. With yer views an' yer... yer..." He shakes his head. "We were simple, we didn' need your goods!" "Yeah!" Goes the agreeing cry from the back. "I bet Karl agrees wit' me!"

"I bet Karl agrees wit' us." Afterall, the muster as a whole are frequents to this wonderful bar. And all heads seem to turn to the smirking bartender who has seen more action than one of Militsa's girls on a Full Eclipse. The bar is silent as the man addresses the crowd.

Karl shrugs his shoulders. "I seen Carnait do good things wit' her work. I seen her carry you guys from nothin' to somethin'. You now have a voice an' tha's most important." The Vargens smirk and agree as they turn to the muster to show how 'right' they are. "However, I seen Porter risk his job, his wages an' his life to make sure she's safe to continue tha' work tha' gets people hurt sometimes." The muster turn the sneer back to the Vargens. "He's happiest I have ever seen 'im in a long while. She's happiest 'n I have ever seen 'er in ... ever. The only people not happy is you guys." The man shrugs his shoulders. "So him an' her is offerin' drinks on 'im tonight." After a lot of silence, both parties seem to agree that drinks are such an endearing way to settle a fifty-fifty argument. The Gannock is suddenly a lively place with music and cheer. They sing Vargen songs, they sing Offworlder songs and everyone is happy.

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Zealous Bombers? [Fri Sep 20]
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I tells ya! Someone want's 'er dead!

Der's alotta that wan'er dead...

Nah, nah! Someone jes' got'er big thug dead in the 'gora an' jes tha' otha night an' she got shot up real bad... well der wuz some ruckus near tha manor...

So?

So she comes out wid nearly nuthin' on an goes afta da troublemakers ridin' one o' dem lyocel beasts!

An'?

An' she caught up ta one o' dem.. someone yelled sumpthin 'bout a Republic an' der was a flash and an awful roar... flames shootin ever'where...

Bloody...

She came back lookin'a mess... she went back up ta tha manner at nearly a stagger... those Dekydos troops looked mighty worried...

....

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" I am a Courtesan!" [Thu Sep 26]
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" What the hell??"

The words echo throughout the Gannock as someone comes in from outside, running.

"That big knight is out in the Agora! He's taking his clothes off!"

"What? What do you mean?"

"Come, look!"

The crowd heads out with speed; after all, this is a sight to see. Indeed, the tale seems true - there's the Questing Knight Artur, standing on a merchant's table, stripped against the fall morning chill- wearing nothing but boots and breechclout. As the people filter into the square his voice booms across the Agora, bass-baritone carrying across the plaza.

"My name is Artur! I am a Courtesan!"

As the echo of the words fades, the tall knight's face suddenly gets red with shame - and then, an instant later, red with anger. Gathering his clothes in one hand and drawing his pistol in the other, he stalks passed the crowds and out of the Agora, face set with terrible anger, enough to send those who look too closely back a few steps in fright.

Muttered under his breath as he leaves, "That bastard will pay." It may have been a low coment, but there's enough venom in the words to spread throughout the crowd, quelling laughter and sparking a cascade of worried looks throughout the spectators.

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Back in the city... [Fri Sep 27]
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" I saw that Li Halan lord - the recluse at Antol - ride back into the city with the big knight and some Hawkwood lady..."

"You mean Sir Stripsalot?"

"That's not the point... Word is from the Li Halan servants that the Lord Shiraku's moving back into the compound for a stretch..."

"A good thing, too. The place has been empty without him."

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Evil goings on... [Sun Sep 29]
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" Ye hear?.."

"What?"

"Well, that priest out at Penitence met his death he did, and by his own hand.."

"Really now?"

"Aye.. I heard twas a demon, when the rest o' the church arrived to take him away, the demon spoke to him and made him kill 'imself."

"Such a pity.. I hear his sermons were something to be believed, folk used to come out so peaceful, 'twas as if all their cares had been washed away.."

"Strange thing is, I hear the caves where he died is now haunted.."

"Like, haunted how?"

"Well, there's been rumors 'bout blood appearing on the walls, making funny shapes.. Maggie went down there to leave flowers, now her legs healed up.. and she says there was a mark on the wall.. a rose.. a bleeding rose."

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Around a campfire... [Thu Oct 10]
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" Well, me little 'uns.." The bard says, tuning his lute as he sits on one of the logs surrounding a large fire. "..Would ye like t'hear one o' the oldest tales o' terror on Vargo?"

The children, huddled on similar logs around the fire, evidently a little afraid of the dark, nonetheless nod dumbly, their little eyes fixed on the storyteller, who, with a rakish smile at one of the supervising peasant mothers, now begins.

"Well.. Ye probably wont believe me, since these offworlders ply the oceans and visit islands alla the time.. But once one o' the islands way down South was strange.. it was a place o' nightmares.. but nightmares which came -true.-"

The children huddle closer, still listening, a few of them are going to be having nightmares of their own tonight.

"Well.." the bard continues, "..People used to avoid that island.. twas haunted by great evils, evils which would make yer worst fears real if ever you went there. All the things you were really afraid of.. like spiders mebe.. or the dark.. If ye went to that island ye'd find them there waiting for you."

A few of the children nod, wide eyed, and keep listening.

"Well.. one day, a man who was braver than any o' the others went there, and though all his worst nightmares came out to meet him, he dinna' even flinch.. and so he climbed down into the rocky heart o' that mountain, where it was said the evil grew strongest and ye'll never guess what he found there.."

The children literally grab hold of one another, they are very young after all.

The storyteller smiles and scratches his beard, "Well actually.. noone knows quite what he found. He never came back! But that was the day the nightmares stopped, and people were free to live and work on that island.. Some say he trapped the demons in himself, throwin' away his own soul in order to stop them.. Either way, theres still somethin' evil 'bout that place.. somethin' which waits fer a time when it can pounce!"

One of the younger children screetches and hurries over to clutch at the storytellers leg,

"Aye.. what is it lad." the young man says, evidently a little annoyed at having his story interupted.

"Please sir.." the little boy sobs, "..Twas one o' the shadows.. I saw it move!"

Before anyone can speak, the recent spell of storms which has rocked Vargo renews its fury, cutting short this little meeting and ruining one perfectly good lute in the process.

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How many do you think? [Fri Oct 18]
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" Wow...." says one Muster roustabout working at the Starport to another. He seems to stop working to look at his companion. When his companion is hit by a crate, he rubs at his head and turns to look at his friend.

"There a reason you left me hanging back the-- Oooh." The man's eyes widen as he looks at the large startship, just another one of many that land at the Starport here on Vargo. They both seem to stare at the large ship and whatever files out.

"How many you figure?" The first one says, wiping the sweat off his brow with his hand, the back of it. "I say a hundred and fifty..." the man seems to even count on his fingers.

"Naw, tha's not that much. I'd say well over two hundred. They all came like that? Wait there' sa dozen there, then about fifty there, holy crap man..." he slaps his friend on the back. "Look at 'em all, they look fresh out of the academies of Bannockburn!" The man seems to actually widen his eyes, "What the hell's that man up to?"

"I dunno man, I really don't, but look at all 'em Musters. I predict bad times for someone tha's messin' wit' them. There's more than enough to take out a small noble army, or even take over fieflands, if thye wanted to. Hell there's more than enough to fight anyone the Muster wants to friggin' fight... Gannock's gonna be busy tonight, we won't get a seat." Though he looks down yonder at the Teamster trucks. "Wonder where they are bein' transported to."

"Who cares, if we don't get our work done, we don't get paid, help me unload this one. Friggin' nobles an' their boxes. This side up?" He rattles it for no good reason. "Take that..." and both men break off chuckling and continuing their labours.

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Cocoon of Light [Wed Oct 23]
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A lay sister nurse at the Amalthean Hospice chatters excitedly with a fellow nurse out in the Yard.

"I was doing my rounds and looked in that wretched Hazat lady they brought in yesterday--"

"What?" says the second nurse. "The one they were holding for ransom?"

The first Sister nods. "And Father Basideus came in and talked to her for a few mintues, and then began to pray, one prayer right after another...These rings of white light began to appear, hovering about the lady, linking themselves together...He kept on praying all urgent-like and then suddenly collapsed, and there was blood everywhere. And the rings, they came alive almost, wove themselves together and then engulfed the lady from head to toe like a great cocoon."

The second sister makes the sign of the Jumpcross, eyes wide. "Blessed be the Light. What happened to the Father, is he alright?"

"I don't know," says the first. "I bumped into his wife Sister Mendoza on my out, she was heading that way. I'm sure she took care of him."

The second sister shudders. "A cocoon you say? Pancreator protect me that I never the likes of it myself."

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Brawl in the Cathedral [Thu Oct 31]
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Two Novices can be heard gossiping as they tidy up the Plaza of the Prophet.

"Hey Athis, did you hear what happened to Father Marten the other day?"

"Marten? That weird priest? They say that him and that Mantis lord..."

"Shhh. That's not what I'm talking about. I saw it with my own eyes Athis. They were talkin' nice as you like, and that Amalthean attacked him!"

Athis looks around and motions for his friend to keep his voice down. "Attacked him? Why?"

"I dunno. Brother Samiloth had to come in and arrest her. Father Marten was screaming somehting about demons and her being possessed."

"This weren't that one Mantis Amalthean were it? They say she's evil and talks to ghosts."

"I dunno about all that, but the good Father needs to take care. First the Claw, now the Mantis. There's not too many more powerful people for him to upset."

A Deacon passes by and sternly admonishes both boys with his staff for gossiping and sends them back to work.

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The Mad Marquessa [Fri Nov 01]
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"I heard she was back in the Oubliette havin' her brains scrambled like a brown egg." The barmaid sets down a tankard of ale before a rough-looking customer.

"Don't be a ninny. Her brains was already scrambled." A House guard chimes in.

"That ain't what I heard." The rough customer interrupts, "They say she's as sharp as they come and only pretends to be crazy so's people don't suspect what she's really up to."

"And what might that be?" The barmaid smirks.

The rough customer shrugs and wipes beer foam from his mustache, "All I knows is that she was gone and nobody knew where, and then she was back, and nobody knows why."

"I know where she went and I can guess why she came back." The House guard grins.

"Where was she, then?" The barmaid asks, curious in spite of herself.

"I ain't saying where she went, cause I don't want my tongue cut out," The guard's solemn expression turns suddenly playful, "But she came back for a certain Questing Knight."

"You mean that one who stripped...?"

There is general laughter and the conversation moves on to other, more important, topics.

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Strangeness [Fri Nov 01]
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A group of well to do Vargans seem to have taken the liberty of hosting a small street celebration to welcome the New Year.. As befits such an event there is dancing, music and drink freely available. However, as the precious seconds before midnight finally count down something strange seems to occur.

10..
9..
8..
7..

"Hey! Charlie! Is this ale gone off, or do ye see that too?"

"What'r ye blabberin about ye drunken foo.. By the holy pancreator an' all 'is saints! What in the name o' demons is that!"

"I dinna believe it!.. Look! Look.. tis like fire in the South!"

The flashes on the horizon grow in intensity.. not natural lightning, no.. there is something sickly, something baleful, something.. wrong here.

6..
5..
4..

"..Oh merciful Pancreator.. May ye send us yer angels to guide us!"

The celebration has slowed to a halt, all eyes transfixed by the unholy storm raging in the south.. and which seems to be growing, changing..

3..
2..

"Oh Zebulon.. I know I been a sinner! I know I done dirty with Barry's wife an all! But I ain't ready to die yet.."

1..
0...

And something seems to change all of a sudden, like a violent awakening or a malevolent fit of fury as a soul is released into the void.. A great roll of thunder rocks the sky, and with it comes an answer.. a low whispering, rising from the south, barely audible except to those so attuned. Nonetheless, children hide behind their mothers.. For some reason, a the terrible feeling rises amongst the revelers that something just passed overhead, something evil yet unseen.. speeding on it's way to some unknown and hideous purpose.

The storm fades, the clouds settle, and the moment is over.. yet something is different now, something will always be different, and maybe the sun doesn't shine so brightly...

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Of Shadows and Light [Fri Nov 08]
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"I tell ye, we're none o' us safe, nowheres!" insists a trembling Vargen in the Agora. He glances over his shoulder down Prophet's Way, where the spires of the Cathedral rise, and crosses himself.

"Light! Ye're as white as a sheet!" exclaims a merchant at her stand. "What happened to ye?"

"During the Horos service," the man answers shakily, "Darkness filled up the Orb when Father Danala started communion. When the black light touched a woman, she . . . she . . ."

"What?" presses the merchant, now white herself.

"The woman's flesh melted from her bones, and she started to laugh! She said no one was safe, anywhere, and that the darkness would come for us all!"

The small knot of listeners begin to cross themselves, looking around nervously as if daemons might rise up from Gehenne that very moment to claim their souls.

"That masked priest, he knocked the . . . the thing's head off with a staff, and the other priests a started prayin' and the Light was restored. But still . . . " He shakes his head, then stumbles off across the Agora.

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Winter Blossoms [Tue Nov 19]
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Overheard between two Vargens at the Grinning Gannock.

"Amazing how those nobles choose to throw their money around."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. When I came through the Agora just now I had to look twice. The monument-shrine-thing to that Amalthean was just covered up in flowers and there were a couple of noble-lookin' types kneeling on the ground, prayin' or somethin'. Looked like whoever it was musta bought out the florist."

"Wonder where they came from in the dead of winter."

"Dunno, just glad it's not -my- bill to pay. I mean I've never seen so many flowers in so many colors in all my life. Looked like somebody had cleared the snow away first to make room."

"Huh. Ya don't say....my wife's birthday is this week, I wonder..."

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.. and Too Much Cider [Tue Nov 19]
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"Oh you old fool. Ye surely must be full of tha special cider. Tha offwerlders have done that sort o thing time before. Tis nothing special. Maybe a frying pan to the head will help ye remember?"

"Oh yeah? Must have been a while back. My memory is kind of slipping."

"I wonder if it is some kind o offwerlder holiday or a custom ov theirs. You never know with dem offwerlders. Every day fresh flowers have been there for the past year. Wonder if this Leonie was sumthin special...."

"Well it is their martyr, not ours."

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Chills in the Cathedral [Tue Nov 26]
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(A discussion, overheard between two of the flock.)

"Did you hear?"

"Clearly not, mate, because I'm standing here with a confused expression."

"Aye, well then - you need to. Darkness is come again to the city... Some shambling mound of ice invaded Vargo's own Cathedral! Attacked a priest in the nave, it did!"

"A priest?"

"A priest - twas that Marten fellow. He was talking to the big knight and his lady when this mound of snow come in, that's how I heard it. This demon snowman attacked him, it did, and there was a fight... The priest with his staff and some musterman - not seen the fellow about - with some crackling club."

"T'at would've been a sight to see. They won, did they?"

"Sure they did. Those two and that Phoenix knight wailed on the thing for a while until finally the big fella clove it in twain with his glowing sword. He and Father Marten looked awful dark afterwards, though... Seems they was worried about something."

"Of course they was worried - they'd just been attacked!"

"Aye, but it seemed something more... Least, that's what I figure."

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