[Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby Scarik » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:26 pm

Jaculus

Jack can see the nexus open below him and distinguish thirteen humans arranged around a magic circle. Except for one they chant and kneel as weak magicians often do when enacting useful magics.

The one, their leader, stands tall with an altar set before her decorated with her mystic trappings while in her right hand she holds an athame made of bronze in a Minoan forge many centuries before and in her left a staff carved from the heart of an ancient oak destroyed by lightning.

Recognizing the wand and the dagger Jack then looks for the cup and the coin that he knows must accompany such Hermetic magic. He spies the chalice, brimming with blood that seems to have a life of its own, and within that sanguine anathema he senses more than sees the coin.

Blackened with age and tarnished by its own evil, the silver coin spins under its own action within the bloody cup.


Wizmous and Levi

Levi can feel the portal open and the the dragon emerge from it from where he rests in feline form before it shuts and the Veil of Bast hides Wizmous once more.

Minutes later they lurk, stalking one another in the darkness, know what the other is but nothing of their intentions.


Ulupi

With a flick of her tail and a flare of her hood Ulupi changes her own deadly venom into a powerful antidote. Those addicted to the vampire's saliva are suffused with the warm touch of Ulupi's mercy and their symptoms vanish in an instant. As a one they are stunned by what they experience and cannot help but explain it later on as a truly religious epiphany.

Sure, some may well succumb to evil's grip once more, but most are changed permanently for the better and a few moved even more deeply.

The Infected do not have it so well. Their bodies are suffused with the toxin and have one foot in the Nevernever where the demon waits to consume them. For them Ulupi's healing aura is like fire pouring through their veins.

The three closest pass out in agony while those further away develop a fever. The Naga Queen can feel their suffering and relents for now. She could cure them, she knows it, but whether they will survive is another matter. To ensure that they will need to be prepared, and the Goddess will need to be careful.
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby Ladki96 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:54 pm

Pannagi waves off the apology with another smile, "You are focused, I can respect that. Stay as long as you wish, Lilli. I'm afraid I'm called elsewhere, but I would like to speak if you are around later."

real snakes are better than real boys
Diss track, where you at, Kiv

In the room upstairs, Ulupi bends over an infected in concentration.

"वैसे भी उसका जीवन बहुत छोटा होगा," complains Pambu.

Daya gives him a look. "हा, और अगर हम तेरे जीवन को ब्रह्मांड में माप लेंगे, तोह तु भी बेमतलब निकलेगा."

"मैं नहीं कह रहा हूं कि उनके जीवन बचाने लायक नहीं है, पर उनके और Pambu के बीच अंतर है... हालाकि वह उनके जैसे बेवकूफ हो सकता है," teases Mani.

"शांति," a distracted Ulupi calls out as Pambu begins to protest, and they fall silent, watching her.
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby panda1594 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:01 am

With a smirk, Lilli waves Pannagi off saying "have fun with whatever you're doing. I may be around later"

Now that she's alone; Lilli contemplated on looking for the vampire, or to just let things be. Wondering what Samantha would want, Lilli decided to let things be- for now.

Contemplating what to do from here, Lilli stayed at the bar until last call. Once the bar was closed, Lilli wanted to do some hunting since it was still early. Deciding to try and figure out where the vampire was heading Lilli waited until the coast was clear, chanced back into a cat, and ran off to maybe get into whatever trouble she could find along the way.
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby CarrieVS » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:24 pm

Spoiler: show
Jack can see the nexus open below him and distinguish thirteen humans arranged around a magic circle. Except for one they chant and kneel as weak magicians often do when enacting useful magics.

The one, their leader, stands tall with an altar set before her decorated with her mystic trappings while in her right hand she holds an athame made of bronze in a Minoan forge many centuries before and in her left a staff carved from the heart of an ancient oak destroyed by lightning.

Recognizing the wand and the dagger Jack then looks for the cup and the coin that he knows must accompany such Hermetic magic. He spies the chalice, brimming with blood that seems to have a life of its own, and within that sanguine anathema he senses more than sees the coin.

Blackened with age and tarnished by its own evil, the silver coin spins under its own action within the bloody cup.

Ah. One of those.

Not a rival hunter Jaculus is willing to share territory with. Nor anything they might be trying to summon when that is involved, whether it be the thing anchored to the Denarius or not. This will not do.

The crown of the hill is bald, and though the trees lower on the slopes grow high enough to offer a view of the ritual, they are not well positioned to launch an attack. He gains height, as quickly as he can in silence. He can always fight what they call forth, but it might require some effort. Dealing with the sorcerer and disrupting the ritual would be more convenient. It is just possible that this one is already bound to a coin, but he can deal with one such. If any of the others were, they would not be so weak.

His height is sufficient. He folds his pointed wings and stoops.

After a brief downward kick of his wings, he is merely falling. A cat will not fall faster than about sixty miles per hour - they are light, and fall belly-downwards, legs outstretched. A peregrine falcon in its stoop, head down and wings folded, can free-fall, if its height is great enough, four times that fast. Jaculus is not that high up, but with neck and body rigid, tail straight out, all his limbs tucked tightly backwards, the winged serpent is even more streamlined than a falcon. By the time he is close enough, and fast enough, for the wind of his passage to be audible to his distracted prey, he is only an instant from impact.

Unlike a bird he does not turn at the final moment to lead with his feet, but only closes his eyes and nostrils as he strikes with his pointed beak and stout, sharp nose-horn.
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby CarrieVS » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:09 pm

The sorcerer is caught completely unawares(1) as Jaculus strikes her in the back(2), just below her ribcage. He tears into flesh and organs, inflicting a wound that is not immediately fatal, but a good start. She screams in pain and rage. But as he extricates himself, he feels a force around and within him, trying to pin him down. She will make a fight of it then.

He slows, his movements becoming awkward. He tries to bite her side and inject his venom(3), noticing as he does that no blood has spilled from her wound. She should be drenched in it by now and weakening fast.

She thrusts her forearm into his jaws, trying to both block and hurt. He grabs it with his hands, lets his tiny body move with it, and bites her arm instead. His venom does not seem to have the immediate effect it usually does, but he has still hurt her. Now her blood pours forth, moving as if with a will in a stream towards Jaculus' face. She wishes him to swallow it. He closes mouth and nostrils and twists aside, just managing to avoid it. That would doubtless not be good. The blood washes over his head, and it smells wrong.

He leaps to the floor, flicking scarlet drops from his scales, and darts around her with lightning speed. He was never truly held. Another bite, to her calf,(4) and he is wearing her down.

The sorcerer staggers, trips, and rolls some feet down the hill, into the treeline. She clambers to her feet and seems to finally shake off her initial shock, but now Jaculus has room to manoeuvre. He springs into the air with a hop and a flick of his powerful tail, and gathers speed. He is above her, but not far enough to harness the speed of falling. He borrows speed from the wind instead, assisting the efforts of his wings. He is still not moving quite so fast as in his first dive, but there are trade-offs. He does not fold his wings until his beak strikes her torso, and his aim is precise.

He smashes two ribs directly over her heart and passes straight through(5), feeling the heat of her foul blood bathe his whole body. She is dropping to the floor even as his tail is exiting the wound. Within moments she is still. He sweeps his wings forward to arrest his remaining momentum and avoid a low-hanging branch and hovers over her, kestrel-like, for a few more seconds. No. She is dead, or as good as.

He senses a wave of power from uphill and turns, gaining a few feet of height to see. Nothing is in the circle. No power remains - the circle was broken, the nexus is closed. The other mortals are no longer chanting; most are on their feet or in the act of standing, staring towards him with expressions of fear, awe, revulsion. As he takes a few lazy wingbeats towards them all but one shrink back. Two break and run immediately. The one who stands, a tall, dark-skinned male, stares him down defianatly, but cannot hide his fear.

Run away. The tall one starts, and takes a couple of steps back. Jaculus advances by a slightly greater distance, closing the gap a fraction. Now. He turns and flees, with a fair turn of speed for a mortal. The others follow his example.

The altar is intact, chalice still standing upon it. The staff was dropped not far from it, the ancient athame a little farther down the hill. Jaculus lands on the altar, not too close to the cup. The blood within still roils, but it is weakening as he watches. Within minutes of the sorcerer's death it is still, and the only power within is that bound to the Denarius. The coin is the only thing here that was truly a threat. It must not be touched, he knows. He pushes it over, hopping back as it spills and tumbles the blackened coin onto the bare earth.

He calls the wind again, as a whirling dust-devil, to lift the little silver disc and carry it. Deposited at the base of a large tree, it is an equally simple matter to command the forest giant to bury it. Roots writhe for a moment and the coin is drawn beneath. He hops on his hind legs the short distance to where the dead sorcerer lies. Blood leaks from her wounds now: not fast for there is no beating heart to pump it, but naturally. Like the blood in the cup, the will that held it has vanished, and it smells simply like blood. And flesh.

Flying, fighting, magic. All hungry work. His sharp beak tears off chunks of meat which he gulps down. There is far more than he can eat, but he puts away a surprising amount and hops away, slowly, and climbs a nearby tree with some effort. There is a hole just above its lowest fork which he knows well. In this nest, already lined with now-dried leaves, an extremely round Jaculus licks himself clean, curls around his distended belly, and sleeps.


SFN
Round 1
Jaculus

Create Advantage - Caught Unawares (Guile): [+-+-]+4 = 4
Success, +1 free invoke (Scale) = 2.

Round 2
Jaculus

Attack - Javelin Strike (Haste): [0---]+5+2 = 4
Defend: [+-0+]+3 = 4
Jaculus invokes Caught Unawares to reroll: [+0+0]+5+2 = 9
Success with style, +3 shifts (Scale, Armed and Armoured) = 8
Sorcerer Doomed, 2 stress.

Sorcerer
Create Advantage - Grabbed: [0---]+5 = 2
Overcome (Guile): [--0-]+4 = 1
Jaculus invokes Caught Unawares to reroll: [+-00]+4 = 4
Failed.

Round 3
Jaculus

Attack - Deadly Venom (Haste): [0-0+]+5 = 5
Defend (Force): [-++0]+4 = 5
Jaculus invokes Doomed for +2 = 7
Success.
Sorcerer +2 stress = 4.

Sorcerer
Create Advantage - Infected with my Blood: [00++]+5 = 7
Overcome (Haste): [-0++]+5 = 6
Jaculus invokes Caught Unawares (-1FP) for +2 = 8
Failed.

Round 4
Jaculus

Attack - Deadly Venom (Haste): [-0+-]+5 = 4
Defend: [-0--]+3 = 0
Sorcerer spends FP to reroll: [+0+0]+3 = 5
Jaculus invokes Easygoing Yet Deadly (-1FP) for +2 = 6
Success, +1 shift (Armed and Armoured) = 2
Sorcerer In Peril.

Sorcerer
Overcome - Caught Unawares: [++-0]+3 = 4
Passive resistance (Create Advantage roll) = 4
Success at a Cost.

Round 5
Jaculus

Attack - Javelin Strike (Haste): [++00]+5+2 = 9
Defend (Haste): [00--]+2 = 0
Success with style, +3 shifts (Scale, Armed and Armoured) = 12
Sorcerer Taken Out and then some.

Out of 17 rolls, including all the rerolls, in this conflict, four were -3. Almost a quarter. Weird, huh?

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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby lualuadingdong » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:17 am

Perching on a rock and licking her paws, Wizmous considers the dragoncat before her. He smells of the sea, deep and dark, and also of something else... remnants of something foul on his teeth and claws.

Skipping any preamble, she gets straight to the point, "What horrible things are you doing so late at night, so close to my demesnes, ancient one?" Suddenly, echoing across the water, the distinct feel of familial magic brought her head up in alarm, looking to the southeast at World's End. She turned her gaze back to Levi.

"You can answer my questions momentarily. You're coming with me." Her draconic power flared, and reality warped. The clearing on Moon Island was now, at the same time, also a clearing in the woods at World's End. The smell of magic was stronger now, and she could sense another dragonic presence. Movement in the woods resolved into the fleeing forms of many humans, scattering through the trees. Unerringly her attention was fixed on one running figure, Molly, one of the younger adolescent grandchildren of the falcon-nosed man. She tripped on a tree root and fell in her flight, scrambling to hide in the roots of a large oak.

Wizmous regards Levi for a moment, "Do as you will, but leave the girl alone. I will know later what your business here was." She pads quickly over to the girl's hiding spot, nudging her leg and purring. Molly lets out a small, barely contained scream before she recognizes her family cat, inexplicably here to comfort her.

Gathering Wizmous up into her arms, she lets her tears flow, the cat's soft fur muffling her sobs.
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby bydawine » Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:15 am

Levi raises an eyebrow at this most curious specimen of dragon. Levi isn't sure what just happened but, this will get him to moon island much quicker than expected. He strolls through the portal looking for a promising human to stalk. One of these idiots must know what was trying to be accomplished here. His thoughts now drifting to the hassle if this involves outsiders and the days or weeks it will take to find anyone or anything will knowledge of this incident, getting rid of them, and avoiding unnecessary attention while doing it. After all this time these glorified monkeys are still as careless as ever. Levi low growls to the patch-worked one before it moves to the human spawn. "Fine. I have a feeling I will be in the area for a while. You can figure out how to find me."
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby Ladki96 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:24 am

Ulupi rises, frowning. No, they can't be cured here, not right away. The fight, then healing the addicts - there's not enough power in her for such a taxing spell. She orders Pambu, Mani and Ratna to take the infected to the temple. Daya leaves for Yamini's house.

Pannagi comes down just as Lilli's leaving. "Good luck with the search :) Sorry I'm not much help right now, but I'm sure our paths will cross again."

--------------------------------------
"Thanks for letting me use the rooms." =)

"Anytime. Look, bar's closed," the bartender begins apologetically but Pannagi interrupts him. "Listen, Tim. Alawa isn't coming back anytime soon. But you don't need to worry. Just keep doing your job. You trust me, don't you?"

The man looks at her and nods. f yeah attraction magic)

Pannagi smiles, "Thanks. Tell the other employees too, will you? Don't hesitate to come to me if you run into any problems, alright? I will drop in every week, or will send word otherwise."
-----------------------------------------

Day 2
early morning
in a hidden part o the sanctum sanctorum

The sun peeks over the horizon. The four infected people have been placed together in a line. Ulupi prays first to the gods greater than her to show mercy to the innocents before starting the ritual.

It is not easy. Ulupi feels the strain of stretching her powers, awesome as they may be, beyond their limits. Hours later, she nods at the other nagas, and they move in to share the work, coiling and interlocking to form a protective ring.

When that is not enough, Ulupi throws herself into it with more fury, reaching into her divinity to draw further power. A reckless move, but it certainly shows results, as the mortals shift and show consciousness. The bright light washes over them, and they blink several times. One or two groan. A man falls further sick.

And yet, yet, they are not completely healed. Ulupi thinks even as she continues to cast, the motions automatic`. The Mrtasanjivani. Should she use it? It is a dire situation, but then she swore not to use it trivially. And the mortals are only... Her gaze falls on Yamini. No, she can't let her come to harm.

The goddess bows her head and closes her eyes. She thinks of having the gem of the snake people, their most precious possession. As soon as the thought enters her mind, there is another flash of light as a gem of the darkest black flies into the room and drops into her outstretched palm.

Ulupi places the gem on Yamini's chest, and the effect is immediate. She opens her eyes again and sees Ulupi. Her eyes widen. Ulupi caresses her hair and motioning Daya to take over, rises to take care of the young college student beside her. He too wakes, and Mani comes forward to calm him.

The last two do not respond as favourably. As Ulupi bends over the third one with the stone, he cries out weakly. She squints and touches him gently. He yells in pain, and then abruptly subsides. Ulupi hurriedly checks him - he's still alive. She runs a hand over his body, and find that he responds to nothing. Only his eyes twitch frantically at her.

Oh, no. The power, it was all too much for his body. He's completely healed. and completely paralysed.

But Ulupi cannot fret now. She moves on as another snake steps in.

As soon as Ulupi meets eyes with the last human, she halts. He is considerably weak and barely seems to be hanging on. Moreover, his soul - is not a pleasant one. But she must push on, she has to try. Ulupi places the gem on his chest, and he screams out loudly like one possessed. His infection peels away as with the others but the light, once taken hold of him, does not let go. It burns brighter and brighter, and the man burns with it to cinders.

Ritual Magic
Preparation Roll: Focus vs. 15
Ulupi: ([0] [-] [+] [+]) + 4 = 5 + 5 (Followers) + 5 (Dragon Magic) = 15
Result: Tie
Costs: 9

Compulsory Costs:
1) Attention: Red Court Takes Note
2) Component: Snake Gem

GM's Costs:
3) Time: (the whole of Day 2; Alawa begins recovery)
4) Attention: Alambusha Takes Note (a rakshasa and the killer of Ulupi's son)
5) Spend Resources: Checked Hurt
6) Spend Resources: Checked 2 boxes (Indebted: Ulupi's divine power)

Player's Costs:
7) Drawback: Couldn't Save Everyone (one killed, one maimed)
8) Special Circumstance: Sri Lakshmi Temple (No cost, but in the future such rituals must take place in an equally powerful place as Ulupi's home base)
9) Spend Resources: Snake Gem (1 FP)

Day 2
11.17 pm

Her work finished, the cat sneaks into the temple office. Lu wants to sleep badly, but she has to do this before she forgets the number the woman dialled at the bar.

"Hello? Is this Lilli's friend?"
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby roobeastie » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:42 pm

During a long night of contemplation while guarding the infected human, Lux reached a decision. She would do some research on Mr. O'Hara, and if all panned out accordingly, she would see to it that his prayers were answered and his problem solved. After all, she was the one who got him on Cheshire's radar, and even she knew that most likely wasn't the best place for anyone or anything to be.

In the morning, after being returned to the church by Mr. O'Hara, Lux got down to business. Or, Samantha Hill did. While many would consider pulling building permits and other public documents to be boring or tedious, she found it soothing. Well, more like she found getting other people to do it for her was soothing. She got just as bored doing it as anyone else, really.

There were little clues hidden on those files that could help to pinpoint more about the vampire that eluded Nox. The archivist she got assistance from was able to locate quite a few holdings, including the bar Lilli called her from last night. And, when she wasn't concentrating on puzzling through all that, she was able to find out enough about her churchgoing friend to feel that protecting him could give her some peace of mind.

It was with that in mind that Lux found her way back to the now-familiar shabby apartment, conveniently right as her new friend was arriving home from work. This time, he was less hesitant about letting her in, and perhaps her magnificent cat-like presence allowed him to fall asleep with even less of the cheap booze to guide him there. She started to drift off herself before the phone ringing roused her enough to answer.

Checking to make sure Steven was still out, Lux shifted to her human form, eyebrows raising at the question that came from the other end of the line. "Lilli has many friends, might you be more specific?"
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby Scarik » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:51 pm

Wizmous

With Molly in hand, well the other way about but still, Wizmous can take her home and away from the sleeping dragon that tore apart the cult leader.

Something else tugs at her senses as well, but with the pulse of the ley lines and the aura of the other dragon's power still covering the area its hard to locate. She feels as though she has felt it before though she will need to consult her library to be certain.

Molly won't remember how she got home but she is happy to fall asleep in her bed rather than at the bottom of a hill.

Leviathan

Levi smells neither Deep One, nor the acrid smell he's come to associate with creatures from Beyond. He smells blood, sweat and fear as well as gasoline that drifts out over the water.

The only human left on dry land is the one Wizmous has claimed, the others escaped over the water in two boats.

He follows them out into the harbor where they turn west and into the protected moorings of Hingham Harbor where they tie off their boats to the same pier and then, still panicky, they head for their cars.

One pair get into a convertible.
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby Ladki96 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:05 am

A female voice, and a cautious one. Pannagi pauses. Time for some direct reassurance.

"The friend looking for Alawa. Nox went after the vampire for them. Do you know if her search was successful?" Pannagi quickly identifies herself as the one Lilli spoke with at the bar. "I let her escape to tend to her victims." Images of the last two infected flash her mind, and Pannagi's grip on the phone tightens.

"Whatever your own reasons for seeking her may be I, personally, wish to see Alawa dead. On this we can agree, yes?" Pannagi asks calmly.
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby CarrieVS » Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:37 pm

Jaculus awakes.

It is light. It is morning. He is in one of his nests in the woods - the one that had been a favoured haunt of one of the lesser jaculi that used to claim territory around Boston, before Jaculus ate her.

There is only one Jaculus, but there are some hundreds of lesser winged serpents: mostly in Asia, Africa, and Europe, where Jaculus had originated, but by now they are also in what mortals term the New World - as if it was not just as old and full of just as many old things. Some are weaker, some stronger; none are anything more than beasts, but most are intelligent, long-lived, and dangerous as beasts go, and each has a tiny fraction of his power. There had been two in this region when Jaculus arrived here, also drawn to the ley lines. One was wise enough to flee, and Jaculus let him: it is well that the strongest of his brood should survive.

One day he will catch and eat them all, draw all his power back to himself, and cast aside the Veil of Bast. But not now.

Restored to his usual svelte form after his sleep, he climbs higher in the tree until he can take off from the outer branches. Mortals are about, but he flies high, a small shape against the sun. Another flier catches his eye, darting and wheeling almost as swift and agile as he. A swallow. He pursues it, and for a few beautiful moments puts forth all the speed and skill of his wings in the joy of the chase. But he is not hungry, and he lets the bird escape.

He flies on until he is over the Ellisons' immediate neighbourhood. He dives, plunging quickly for the cover of a large elm tree. Once screened by its leaves, he settles on a slightly stouter branch and makes a momentary effort.

Jack, the ginger cat, sits on the branch, surveys his street, and a minute later climbs down to ground level. He saunters past three houses and into the front yard of the fourth. The living-room window is open and it is the work of an instant to hop up, and in, and down onto the floor. Across the hallway, Francesca Ellison is just clearing away the plates from breakfast. Jack miaows brightly and Tommy twists around in his chair to look and immediately jumps down.
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby roobeastie » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:31 am

Despite the reassuring tone in the other voice, Lux was still playing things close to the vest, in an effort to determine just how much Pannagi already knew. Her unasked question was answered quickly enough, though she wasn't going to assume anything of the potential ally.

"It was my understanding that 'Alawa', as you said, was already gone by the time my associate arrived," Lux commented, making a note of the vampires' name. "My reason for seeking her is my own, but I can certainly agree that having one less Red Court around would be a good thing."

It stood to reason if the woman on the other end of the phone stayed around to tend to the victims of the vampire, she might be able to assist with helping Mr. O'Hara find peace as well. "Are you proposing a meeting of the minds, then?" If that was the case, Lux would be on board with that, so long as she could bring Nox as well. "It might be prudent for us to introduce ourselves and see if we can't help one another."
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby Ladki96 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 5:36 am

Pannagi smiles at the woman's secretiveness. "Neutral ground then, of course --- Mm, tomorrow is alright. Far too late tonight to even apologise for calling." Her voice remains light as she says goodbye and hangs up.

Lu leaps up and settles on a temple wall, stretching and mewing as she feels the full effects of the day's work now. She always feels uneasy going to Boston. Way too many souls in distress, buzzing in her head. Like... bees. Bzz.. zz.. But the cat cafe is lovely. She likes the twins. No distress there. No zzz... the woman might even reveal her na-zzzz
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Re: [Fate RP] The Dragon Files: Boston

Postby CarrieVS » Wed Jun 27, 2018 2:04 pm

Tommy wants to build a blanket fort, but is directed to "go and play outside. It's too nice a day to make a mess in the living room."

You could take the blankets outside.

This is, eventually, negotiated, only because the blankets he is allowed to play with are old ones and the yard is too dry at the moment for them to get muddy. Jack spreads himself out in a patch of sun and watches with one eye, occasionally offering construction advice.

It's an excellent blanket fort, encompassing two shrubs and a pair of lawn chairs laboriously dragged into position, and improved by the appropriation of a number of Francesca Ellison's clothes pegs to hold edges of blanket in place. The yard toys are invited in: Dobbin, the little wheeled horse that's just getting a bit small for Tommy to ride; Bouncy, who's nothing but a rubber ball with a face painted on; and Sammy, some sort of garishly-coloured clown thing that, being large and sturdy and made entirely of plastic, belongs outside. Jack, too, graces it with a visit.
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