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Faerie tales from beyond the veil to the streets of RhyDin

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Bailey Raptis
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Os Abduzidos

Post by Bailey Raptis » Sat Apr 11, 2020 10:32 pm

February 20, 2020
São Amador


“Court of Endless Summer, my ass!” Similar grumblings in Portuguese could be heard from the small group of people gathered in the Cais Juniors gymnasium, staring down at the spotlit podium at center court from their seats in the bleachers. The crowd -- somewhere between 50 and 100 -- could have been mistaken for basketball fans with really bad timing on when to go to a game, if not for their appearance. They were humanoid, yes, but not human. Not fully. Some of them had porcine noses, equine hooves, or scaly and furry tails. Others were less like animals and more like manifestations of primal elements. A woman with icicles for fingers. A man with granite skin. An androgyne with wind constantly blowing through their hair, though the air inside was stagnant and warm. From the impossibly beautiful to the monstrously ugly to the just plain monstrous, they each seemed to present a hundred different ways that evolution -- or, more likely, magic -- could shift humanity towards the uncanny.

They were Os Abduzidos of São Amador, and they were not happy to be there.

It was a common enough story in cities with both Fae and Stolen One courts. The latter grows to a certain size, assesses the strength of its Gentry counterpart, and decides it has the power to kick out or destroy the other. It never ended well for the Stolen Ones. More often than not, the Fair Folk would entirely wipe out their opponents, either in straight-up battle or through a clandestine campaign of assassinations, bombings, and public relation smear campaigns. Oftentimes, it wasn’t enough to eliminate the Stolen Ones. The Fae sought to utterly destroy them, physically, mentally, and socially. The better to serve as an example to future Stolen Ones and their fellow Kindly Ones that they were not to be trifled with.

Fortunately for the São Amador Stolen One court, the Fae there had granted them a kind of mercy. Instead of eliminating them entirely, they decided to put one of their own people in charge of the Stolen One court. They grumbled, but given the choice of new leadership or annihilation, they wisely chose new leadership. That was why they were here today -- to meet the new boss, under the watchful eye of 20 men and women dressed in SWAT team gear with assault rifles in the opposite stands.

They didn’t dim the lights or play any music over the loudspeakers when their boss finally entered the gym. The door just opened, and there they were, walking up to the podium, stepping up, and adjusting the microphone stand. They dressed in a long red silk jacket with white and pink resham embroidery and gold zari work, a white shirt and trousers underneath, and what looked like a Chinese opera mask on their face. The mask seemed to be made of porcelain, and was mostly red save for the stylized black eyebrows and circle beard. Their black hair shined in the light, tied back into a thick ponytail. After clearing their throat, they spoke, in a twinned voice consisting of what sounded like a male countertenor and a female contralto, harmonizing and almost echoing. There was a bit of distortion, too, and that, combined with the fact that the two voices seemed perfectly in sync with each other, led some of Os Abduzidos to suspect their new boss was using magic or technology to alter their voice.

Olá!” They continued to address the crowd in casual Portuguese. “You can call me The Prince in Red, and my pronouns are they/them/theirs. First, I wanted to thank you for coming. I’m looking out, and I’m seeing most of the people they told me would be here, so thanks. I know this isn’t easy for you, but I’m here to make sure it’s a smooth transition-”

“Why don’t you tell us who you are!?” A deep voice shouted, somewhere within the crowd. The Prince took a step back from the microphone when interrupted, glancing back at the troops gathered to serve as their protection -- or muscle. They waved at them a few times, as if to say It’s okay, it’s okay. The Prince let the group murmur amongst themselves for a few seconds, and then approached the mike again.

“That’s a very good question. First, that reaction is exactly why Rainha Madelina asked me to put on a mask and alter my voice. If you knew who I was, some of you might try to kill me. You’d fail, and you’d die,” they stopped to cast a quick glance over their shoulder, then continued, “but you’d still try. And I don’t want any of you to die. I need you for something better. Second...who here is familiar with RhyDin City?” The Prince heard a few murmurs, and added, “Go ahead and raise your hands if you have.” Roughly 15 or so of the group obliged. “Good, good. Who can tell me who’s in charge of their court of Stolen Ones. Anybody?” A sickly, grey-skinned man in the middle almost seemed surprised when the Prince picked him out.

“Sandman.”

“Yes.” The positive feedback brought a smile to the gravewight’s face. “And what does Sandman look like?”

“Nobody knows? He’s always in white robes, keeps his face and hair covered…” The Prince watched as the realization dawned upon most of the group. “...like you.”

“Exactly.” The Prince put both hands around the microphone stand as they leaned forward for a moment. Then they addressed the crowd in Common. “Anybody here who speaks Common, please, raise your hand.” About 20 hands went up, and the Prince nodded. “Please see me after this more formal meeting is concluded.” As soon as their hands went down, they switched back into Portuguese. “Now, where were we? Oh, right, something better. Quentin?” They looked back at the squad in the stands, waiting for the person they addressed to reply.

“Yeah?”

“You can leave us.”

“But-”

“You’ve warded the stage, and I trust your wards, and I also trust that if the wards fail, I can defend myself. But this also needs trust. Go. I’ll be alright.”

“Alright, boss,” Quentin stood, and the rest of the Endless Summer tactical police marched out of the bleachers, row by row. Only when they had all departed did the Prince resume speaking.

“Sorry about that. Consider that a show of trust. I trust you won’t try to kill me, and I also trust you’re willing to consider what I’m about to propose. You came pretty darn close to making the Fae here in São Amador sweat, and that’s no mean task. But, and I mean no disrespect to São Amador here, but it’s not RhyDin. What if I told you that the Stolen One Court in RhyDin City was ripe for the plucking? By us?”

“Why would we want that?” The same deep voice from earlier chimed in again.

“Why would we not want to be in charge of the Stolen Ones in the center of the Multiverse,” The Prince said. “A city with undoubtedly the largest Stolen One population on this planet, if not in this universe, or perhaps even the multiverse. And yet, it cries out for leadership. The Court there has gone stale, as Sandman’s reign continues on endlessly. His ruinous civil war within the court, his damaging conflicts with the Fae and other organizations within the city, have limited his ability to do anything but hold onto power. They’re not properly training the Taken they rescue -- hell, they’re not even really regularly going out to rescue Taken like they should.”

“But what about the Fae there?” In the back, a beady black-eyed abduzida with gray mouse ears and a pink nose squeaked out her question.

“I’m not going to lie, there are a fair number of Fae in RhyDin. But we’re mostly beneath notice for most of them, the ones that have courts are mostly disorganized and fractured, and...I have an arrangement with one of the stronger ones. Not only will they leave us alone if we do the same, they’ll help us rescue our Taken if we ask. You’re not going to get that from Rainha Madelina.” The Prince took a moment to pause for effect. “Look, you don’t have to do this. You can stay here and let them --” They jabbed a finger at the exit door. “ -- keep you under their thumb. Or you can come with me, to RhyDin, overthrow Sandman, and implement a more just Court for a city that deserves it. You can be freer than you’ve ever been. But make no mistake. I am going to kill Sandman and take his crown, and when I do that, São Amador will still be under my sway. You can be my allies, or you can be my subjects. And I’d rather you be my allies.” With that, they stepped off stage, heading to the opposite exit that the Endless Summer soldiers had gone through. They waved a hand at Os Abduzidos, inviting them to come outside for further discussion.
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Bailey Raptis
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Achlys and Bolér Vs. Bailey

Post by Bailey Raptis » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:15 pm

April 12, 2020
The Callow
Dockside


Even on Easter Sunday, The Callow stayed open. After all, not everyone celebrated the holy day in RhyDin (some didn’t even celebrate it on that precise day), and really, when did the club kids ever let holidays get in the way of drinking, drugging, and dancing? In fact, the club’s bookers for the night had leaned into the religious aspect of the day and put up flyers all over town the past two weeks for a special event: Vespers. Moody soft-focus photos of priests and nuns dominated the poster’s visuals, but the text promised musical sets by the likes of DJ Synner, DJ Bad Habit, Strych9 & Sadness, and Plasma Freek, playing music described as “goth, industrial, EBM, aggro, and dark alternative.” The bulletin also suggested attendees wear black clothing or some manner of vestments -- preferably both at once, if they can find them.

Bailey either missed that part of the flyer, or he ignored it, and given his general attire and demeanor of late when he deigned to visit RhyDin, it was likely the latter. He wore a rayon short-sleeved button-up shirt with a tropical print, some fashionably weathered blue jeans that smelled faintly of sea salt, and some clean white sneakers. He ignored the dirty looks he got while standing in line from the boys and girls in black, in nun’s habits and cassocks. After all, he was something of a regular here. They’d let him in no matter what.

It’s why he didn’t immediately react when a hand, dry and rough with skin he could feel flaking, grabbed his wrist. His first inkling was to chalk it up to someone being overzealous, or too touchy-feely on some good molly. He turned around to face the person who grabbed him, feeling the grip tighten on him as he did so. The blotchy, auburn-haired and sickly green-eyed woman who looked at him wore an expression of pure malice. Achlys! was the last thought Bailey had before every last nerve in his right hand seemed to catch fire at once.

Even as Achlys secreted acid all over Bailey’s wrist, his free hand instinctively lashed out at her. She couldn’t fully duck the blow, but managed to tilt her head to the side just enough that it glanced off of her cheek instead of striking her square in the nose. Then, the acid began pouring down Bailey’s hand, and he howled in agony. That scream, coupled with a few flicks of acid in the direction of anybody who looked like they might want to play hero, sent everyone in line scattering away from them. Everyone but one person.

Tears of pain nearly blinded Bailey as he dropped to one knee, his hand still burning, but through the blur he saw a sunburned man with black-braided hair walking up to him, a switchblade in his hand. Bolér. He flipped it open and shut with a casual flair, and Bailey knew he had little time to react. He needed to break free from Achlys, and he needed a weapon, fast. Or, perhaps, there was another way. Biting through his bottom lip to block out the greater pain for a moment, Bailey leveraged his greater weight, height, and strength against Achlys and judo tossed her into Bolér’s path. She hit the ground in a crumpled heap, pausing Bolér’s approach for a split-second, but that was all Bailey needed. He spun his left hand out by his side, opening up a small portal that he reached through to grab his sword. Between heaving gasps, Bailey addressed the would-be assassins.

“You are...going...to...have to do better than that.” Bolér, having finished helping Achlys to her feet, ignited his hair and charged Bailey.

It tore a shriek loose from his throat, but Bailey lifted his right hand and fired off a bubble of water that splashed in Bolér’s face, dousing his flaming braids. He coughed and sputtered, and Bailey might have been able to counter with a sword thrust, had Achlys not flung a throwing knife into the meat of his left thigh. Bailey took one step back and yelped. Then, the added shock and pain forced him back to a knee. They weren’t giving him any breathing room, rushing forward as soon as they saw the knife’s impact. Out of desperation, Bailey dropped his sword and slapped his left hand against the concrete. A thick cloud of mist obscured him from the pair’s sight for a handful of seconds. That was all the time he needed. By the time the unnatural fog lifted, Bailey and his blade had vanished.
Proxinho
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Eva, Proxinho & Bailey, Part 1

Post by Proxinho » Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:09 pm

April 12, 2020

Proxinho didn't sleep -- at least, not the same way that the flesh and blood denizens of RhyDin did. As a being of animated marble, magic fueled them, not food or water or air. So long as the city remained linked to ley lines, Proxinho could "stay awake" indefinitely.

Still, Proxinho did take what they called "breaks." Oftentimes at night, when those who needed to sleep frequently did so, Proxinho would find a garden with other statues, or a fountain bereft of sculpture, and stand in place there for hours. Stand in place, and think. Some might have called it meditation, reflection, or contemplation. Others might have suggested it was the statue's own way of sleeping and dreaming, of processing a day's events. At any rate, once they went into one of those breaks, very little could break their concentration.

Tonight, Proxinho stood in the backyard of a grand mansion in New Haven, one with a hedge maze that kept them hidden from the owners of the residence. The night had been shaping up to be quiet and uneventful, surrounded by rustling shrubbery, when distant thoughts suddenly flashed into their mind. Bailey's, the statue realized. In jumbled bursts, they saw the man fighting off what appeared to be a pair of assailants, running away down narrow alleys and rough-hewn roads, his mind entirely focused on escape and pain. Pain. Indescribable pain from his right hand.

Proxinho went mobile, crashing through the bushes making up the maze, loud enough that lights came on in several rooms in the mansion. Once through the shrubbery, Proxinho's heavy footsteps thudded against the grass and cracked the stones used to form the swimming pool's deck, bringing floodlights to bear on them almost immediately. A number of interior lights turned on as well, and when Proxinho went to knock on the door, they found it opening before their fist could even find wood. They found themselves face-to-face with a blue-clad security guard, clutching a canister of pepper spray that the woman immediately realized would be useless against the golem. Her face turned nearly as white as Proxinho’s marble.

"Can I use your phone?" they asked, in an echoey approximation of Bailey's own voice. The guard swallowed, twice, then nodded and opened the door.

Sunday was one of Eva's nights off. She and her colleagues at the clinic took turns being on call, working late nights. But Sunday wasn’t one of her nights. She and Mason usually took the night off together, a date night. Sometimes out, sometimes in. Tonight had been an evening cooking together, dancing at home. Mason was in the kitchen cleaning up, while Eva sat on the couch finishing a glass of bourbon and reading a book. It had been a long work week for her, and she was ready to wind down on her night off. And that's when the vidphone rang. Mason paused in the kitchen. This time of night, Eva had an immediate sinking feeling about it. She set aside her drink and sat up. Then she engaged the vidphone--voice only. "Hello?"

At first, the voice on the other end of the line sounded like Bailey's, only with more echo, with something muffling it. Perhaps the connection was bad, or something else was interfering with the signal. Pretty quickly though, it became clear that Bailey was not calling. "Eva? This is Proxinho. Bailey's..." They trailed off, unsure what term to actually use to describe themselves, and quickly realizing that was less important than the actual reason they had called. "Bailey's hurt."

Eva looked over at Mason as she got to her feet. "Where is he?" Mason wiped his hands on a dish towel as he moved to get her go-bag out of the closet.

For a moment or two, there was nearly dead silence on the line. No breathing, no sighs, just a faint hum of connectivity. "...He's moving through Dockside. Running, or trying to run. I think he's trying to get to Kabuki Street. I'm....over in New Haven. I'll see if I can convince him to hide until you or I can make it there."

"Tell him to go to my clinic... if he's in Dockside he shouldn't be far. There's a coded door in the back, off the alley. I'll give you the code." Eva threw on her coat while Mason mouthed a question, Want me to come? She shook her head no, grabbing the bag from him as she moved to the door. "I'll be there in five minutes."

The phone went quiet again, before something approximating a sigh came out. "He's on his way. I'm on my way too. I'll be there as soon as I can. Thank you, Eva." They lifted the phone away from their mouth as they spoke similar words and an indecipherable name to somebody nearby them, and then hung up.
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Eva, Proxinho & Bailey, Part 2

Post by Bailey Raptis » Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:15 pm

Five minutes was almost exactly the amount of time it took Eva to get from her home in the Water's Edge neighborhood to her clinic in Dockside. She arrived on foot, just barely out of breath. Like Bailey, she came in through the secure backdoor into the empty clinic. Her brow furrowed as soon as she spotted Bailey, right there in the hallway, leaned up against one of the treatment room doors. She dropped into a kneel, letting her bag down, as the back door secured behind her. Her eyes moved up and down him. "What happened? Can you speak?"

Bailey was dressed in clothing more suited for a night out than an evening spent in an emergency room. He wore a tropical printed rayon short sleeve button-up shirt, blue jeans, and clean white sneakers. The first immediate sign of something amiss was the rusted scabbard he held in his left hand, tight enough that his knuckles were white. The second sign of trouble was the small puddle of blood on the floor, coming from a gash in his left leg that had cleaved through denim and struck flesh. The third, most worrying sign, was his right hand and wrist. Something caustic had turned what should have looked like normal skin into a blotchy, red-and-white-and-black flecked mess. His right elbow rested on his right knee, and Bailey kept his eyes off of the injury and on Eva, though he struggled some to focus. "I got attacked while I was waiting in line at The Callow. A woman who can secrete acid out of her hands, and a man who can turn his hair into fire."

Eva reached for him, moving towards his left side. "Let's put this down," she gently tried to take the rusted scabbard from him. "Do you think you can stand?"

He stuck his right hand out to the side, looked at it, grimaced, and then finally let go of the scabbard in his left hand. "I think so. I managed to run earlier, but that was adrenaline, but I also managed to walk here." With his left hand pressed against the door frame, Bailey grunted and slowly rose to his feet.

Eva immediately put herself under him to support him so he didn't have to put too much weight on his left leg. She walked him into the nearest treatment room. She used the foot lever to lower the gurney to make it easier to get him up on it. "Okay, here's what we're going to do. The burn is urgent, alright? But I need to slow the bleeding in your leg. So I'm going to put on a compression pad onto your leg, and then we're going to look at your hand, okay?" It was difficult being a one-woman emergency room, but Eva had practice. She scrubbed up her hands and arms, and quickly got on a gown and gloves.

While she scrubbed up quickly, he went through the slow and laborious process of trying to remove his shoes and jeans one-handed. He started by taking his keys, wallet, and cell phone, and placing them on the stool that gave shorter patients a step up onto the gurney. Then, he untied the laces and slipped off each shoe. While the first two tasks were fairly simple, the jeans were another story entirely. With them, he found himself shimmying and kicking both legs up in the air like some sort of turtle flipped onto its back, before he finally sat up and began pulling at them, one leg at a time. "How often do you treat non-humans?" It was an attempt at small talk, but teeth gritted in pain didn't exactly make the words come out as friendly as he might have liked.

"Daily." She moved to help him with the jeans, though she probably would have just cut them off. The clearer field was easier to work with though. She assessed the gash quickly, then pressed a compression pad into place. "I'm going to move the gurney here against the sink, okay." She rotated the gurney so that his right side was near the sink, then re-set the brake. "Because we don't know what kind of acid this is, I need to make sure that it won't react to water, okay?" She set a padded field on the edge of the sink where he could rest his arm with the hand out.

"Okay." He mimicked Eva as she shifted the gurney over against the sink. "I did not know there were acids that could do that. I suppose I am not a chemist, though, and would not need to know that. But you do." After spotting the padded field, Bailey set his right arm down on it, closing his eyes tightly so that he did not have to see the injury.

"Yeah, different acids require different treatment." She turned her head to the monitor, "Records, Raptis, Bailey. R-A-P-T-I-S." As the records popped up on the screen, she skimmed it then moved to the sink, still working quickly. "I need you to tell me if the pain gets worse, okay?" She started a gentle stream of water, and brought over a tiny drop testing it on the side of his hand.

"I-I'll be honest here, Eva." He stopped speaking, sounding like he might be on the verge of losing his composure. He found the words again, but they lacked the usual precision with which he spoke in Common. "I can't remember a time I've hurt worse than this, so I'm guessing if it does hurt more, I'll probably just wind up screaming." When the water touched his hand, he didn't immediately scream or weep, so it apparently wasn't reacting right then and there to water.

"I know, I'm sorry." She couldn't give him any pain relief until she figured out the acid base. She turned on the water in a gentle stream. "Okay, we need to flush your hand for about 20 or 30 minutes." The water was cool and should provide some minimal but immediate relief. "I need you to hold your hand here and just let the water wash, okay?" She started to peel off her gloves and ready a fresh pair. "I'm going to get you on a drip, you should be more comfortable in just a moment."

"Funny, this hurts worse." He stuck his hand under the water, sucking in a sharp breath at first before sighing. "Worse? Worst. After all the injuries, cuts, breaks...just some acid." Bailey suddenly cocked his head to the side, like a dog who heard someone at the door. In fact... "Proxinho is just about here. I am not sure what he might be able to do to help you, if anything, but..." Sure enough, the faint sounds of the code being entered into the security system and accepted were soon followed by clunking footsteps, then the door shutting. A voice eerily similar to Bailey's, but with more reverb on it, barely made it through the walls of the clinic.

"Eva? Bailey?"
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Eva, Proxinho & Bailey Part 3

Post by Bailey Raptis » Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:21 pm

"In here, Proxinho." The door to the treatment room was open, but Eva cautioned them. "Please stay by the door." She didn't want them to contaminate the room while she worked, but she had no objection to them being nearby. With an IV in his other arm, Eva pushed some morphine, then set up a drip with fluids. She moved to inspect Bailey's hand, making sure the water wasn't making anything look worse. "You should be feeling better," she glanced at Proxinho, then moved to look at the wound to his leg again while the burn continued to flush.

Proxinho had been just about to enter the room when Eva warned them off. They stood looking in at Bailey, injured, partially undressed, and with an IV in his arm. With a nod, Proxinho turned around and stood with their arms folded across their chest, looking as much like a bouncer as a 5'6" mostly featureless humanoid marble statue could.

Bailey, for his part, stared at his former proxy, the mixture of emotions making his expression impossible to read. The silence between the pair felt like a stone pressing down on his chest, and as the morphine began its slow work, he worried he would soon be unable to lift that weight. Finally, a small voice squeaked out. "...Thank you, Proxinho." The statue responded with a quick nod from their post. Bailey then fixed a crooked grin on Eva. "I see why they worry about this stuff..."

"You get some rest." Eva smiled faintly at Bailey. "When you wake up, your leg wound will be all stitched up, and we'll have a treatment plan for your hand, okay?" With the urgency of treating the burn taken care of for now, Eva was turning her attention to the leg wound, readying to clean and dress the wound. "Proxinho will keep watch." She said it as much for Bailey's benefit as for Proxinho, wanting them to feel they had a purpose considering the apparent connection between the two.

"Nobody's getting past me tonight," Proxinho said, quiet but firm. Bailey smiled at that, then looked at Eva.

"I can go to sleep now? I must admit, I am getting kind of tired. You do not need me up and about to help with the treatment?"

"No. You get some rest," She offered a reassuring smile to Bailey. "I'll be here too. Okay?"

"Thank you, Eva," he said, between yawns. "And I'm sorry to interrupt your night." As best as he could, he settled up against the gurney's cushions to slip into slumber.

Over the next hour, Eva monitored Bailey's heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. She cleaned, stitched, and dressed the wound in his leg. And then she spent the bulk of her time treating the acid burn on Bailey's hand. She worked quietly, focused in the silent company of Proxinho as the late night steadily approached dawn.

((Edited and adapted from live play with Eva’s player, with many, many thanks!))
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The Hounds of São Amador, Part 1

Post by Bailey Raptis » Thu May 14, 2020 9:16 pm

May 13, 2020
Impulse
Star’s End


The old hideouts for Bolér and his kind in RhyDin City were disappearing fast. Roving bands of red-clad ruffians were making life difficult for anyone attached to the Stolen One Court in the city, particularly those with high-level ties to its leader, Sandman. What made it worse for Bolér was the fact that he had switched sides in the civil war, joined Glesni’s group, and then watched as she essentially put up the white flag and retreated from the city. It left him a man without a court, both a traitor to Sandman and a symbol of Sandman’s oppression for his newfound opposition.

When he and Achlys stumbled upon Bailey waiting in line at the Callow and attacked him, the hope was that eliminating this thorn in Sandman’s side would strengthen their hand with Glesni and him. Either it would turn Stolen Ones disgruntled with Sandman’s reign to Glesni’s side, or they could use Bailey’s head as a bargaining chip back into the Court’s good graces.

It didn’t quite work out for them. Bailey wriggled off the hook that night, then later fought in the Archmage tournament and Archmage challenge. So while Bailey crawled out of whatever hole he’d been hiding in since December, Achlys and Bolér went to ground. What else could they do? Past attempts by Sandman and Glesni to leverage greater forces than Achlys and Bolér had not worked. Bailey’s friends had not weakened. Bailey had not weakened. The noose was tightening.

And yet, a stubborn sense of pride, a refusal to let a bastard like Bailey get the best of him, kept Bolér in the city. He rented a room in a flophouse in Dockside, one of those places where it was a dice toss whether or not the roof would leak or not. A place, more importantly, that took payment in silvers and didn’t keep track of who stayed where. The last rung on the ladder for gamblers and addicts, before there were no more roofs to be found over their heads.

That same pride kept Bolér going out in the evenings, trying to drink away the pain and shame of his failures and diminished status with the Stolen Ones. His insistence on bar hopping and carousing had driven a wedge between himself and Achlys, who insisted on staying off the streets except when absolutely necessary. Well, whatever, he thought. He’s probably got bigger fish to fry, and he’s still got bandages on in those dueling blog photos.

One of Bolér’s new favorite haunts was Impulse in Star’s End. He knew the risk of coming to a bar that Sandman frequented in the past, but he also knew the place was loud, crowded, and full of cold iron. The Fae would stay away, and Sandman or what remained of his cronies were unlikely to see or hear him here. Nearly going deaf and dodging vomit from extraterrestrial tourists was a small price to pay.

Bolér eased through a crowd of green-skinned Orion women in skimpy, shimmery dresses to find a seat at the obsdian bar. He started off slow, with a Badsider, trying not to look too paranoid as he swept his black-eyed gaze across the dark interior.

Caipirinha, por favor.” The voice came from Bolér’s right, as an average-sized man with a long, thin nose squeezed in against the bar. Bolér scowled at him, but the man just responded with a large, gap-toothed grin.

Calma, cara,” he said to Bolér, still grinning as he got his drink and let the blue-skinned Twi’lek bartender scan his credstick. When he got it back, he took a sip, nodding somewhere over Bolér’s left shoulder. Bolér’s eyes tried to follow where the man looked, but then stars suddenly burst across his vision, as a large hand palmed the back of his head and drove it into the bar. Repeatedly. The drum and bass kept thumping all around, but the bartender’s screams and the desperate scrambling to escape from customers within eyesight of Bolér cut through the good vibes, right before a dozen bouncers in black t-shirts and ear pieces fanned out throughout the building to keep the peace. Half of them went to ensure the jittery dancers and VIPs that all was well, just a little dispute they were taking care of right now. The other half surrounded the bloodied Bolér, the craggy-faced giant holding him up by his collar, and the man directing him, currently filing his nails with an emery board despite the security squad circled up around them.

“You’re outta here, all of you,” the head of the group said to the three, a canister of some sort of spray in his hand. His empty hand brushed over the top of his bald head. “And don’t thinka coming back.” His tone softened a touch, when he noticed the blood pouring down Bolér’s face from a gash on his forehead. “I can call you an ambulance when you get outside.”

“No need,” a voice chimed in from over by the entrance, nasal and yet still commanding. A man in all white -- boots, trousers, and a hooded sweatshirt that somehow shadowed his face -- stepped forward. “They are with me.”

“If they're with you,” the leader said, trying to divide his attention between the trio of troublemakers and this new potential threat, “you need to leave too. This ain't the Outback -- you can’t just beat the shit out of somebody out of nowhere for no reason.”

“I suspect you misunderstand how the Outback operates, but that is all right.” The man removed his hood, showing off a crooked grin. “I am Sir Bailey Raptis, Knight of the Wayward Court, and I am here on Wayward Court business.”

“Never heard of it.” That response prompted a quick laugh and a roll of Bailey’s eyes.

“Jolberto, Starkud, can you believe this guy?” He looked first to the shorter man and then the taller one as he spoke their names.

“No, sir, I can’t,” Jolberto responded, somehow still smiling despite the situation.

“He must have heard of Jewell Ravenlock, right, Starkud?” The giant grunted in reply.

“J-Jewell? The Empress?” Bailey watched as the lead bouncer gulped, and the space between the others, Bolér, and his friends increased.

“Oh, you know her! Then you must know that it is a very bad idea to cross her, or interfere with her...tools.” Bailey tugged at the collar of his sweatshirt, watching Bolér’s eyes grow wider and wider as he realized his plight just kept growing worse and worse. He tried to wriggle out of Starkud’s grasp, but the mountain of a man drove his free fist into his stomach, doubling him over.

“Please!” Bolér gasped, between wheezing breaths. “You...can’t...let me...go with...them.”

“Sorry, friend,” the bouncer said, now waving his companions away. “I’m not the city guard, and even if I was, I can’t stand against her. You’ll put in a good word for me?”

“The best.” Bailey crooked a bandaged finger towards Starkud and Jolberto, who obliged by walking towards him, while his other hand spun a clockwise circle by his side. The few Impulse patrons who hadn’t scattered or remained willfully oblivious to events by staying on the dance floor or in the bathrooms fled further away from him as a purplish-black portal opened up. “Thank you for your understanding, and sorry about the mess.” He directed the others through the portal, even as he approached the guard. Reaching inside the pocket of his hoody, he retrieved a jingling bag of silver coins. He opened it up and showed the man, allowing him to do a quick count, before thrusting it into his hands. “I trust this will cover our debt to you?”

“Yes, mister -- Sir Raptis. It will. Thank you.”

Bailey curtsied, then spun back on his heel and entered the gateway, which winked out of existence the moment he stepped through. The security chief began a more thorough count of his coin, muttering all the while.

“Freaking...crazy…” He cut his thought short, with a shiver and a shudder. Best not tempt fate any further this evening.
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Bailey Raptis
Seasoned Adventurer
Seasoned Adventurer
Posts: 350
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:25 pm
Location: Twilight Isle and RhyDin City, mostly

The Hounds of São Amador, Part 2

Post by Bailey Raptis » Sun May 17, 2020 6:17 pm

The Hedge

The four men stepped into the Hedge, inside the Veil, onto a barely visible dirt path wending its way through an old-growth forest. A torrential downpour had turned the road into little more than mud and puddles of stagnant water, the falling droplets ripping through the leaves of the beech trees and redwoods that allowed only glimpses of the black-gray sky overhead through their branches. The rain quickly soaked the semi-conscious Bolér to his skin, but Bailey, Starkud, and Jolberto’s clothing remained untouched by the showers above and muck underfoot.

After walking for a few minutes, they stopped, and Starkud tossed Bolér face first into the mud. He woke with a sputter, attempted to scramble to his feet, and promptly found a silver dagger pointed just inches from his face.

“Hello, there, Bolér,” Bailey said, with a pause as he glanced over at his companions. A chuckle escaped his lips, one soon matched by Jolberto’s cackling and a rumbling laugh from Starkud. “Apologies, my friends, I did not mean to rhyme there.”

“Wha-what?” Bolér blinked, trying to regain his bearings, then suddenly leaning away from the knife with a yelp. He fell back into the mire, prompting more laughter from Jolberto and Starkud, which ceased after a stern look from Bailey. “Wh-where am I?”

“You do not recognize this place?” Bailey’s bandaged hand waved towards the trees and sky. He held it aloft for a moment, then let it fall to his side. “I mean, I suppose you might now. Everyone’s voyage back from The Lands to RhyDin is somewhat different, after all…”

“The Hedge.” Despite having his hands pinned behind his back, despite the blood and rain flowing down his face, defiance crept into Bolér’s tone. “They were right. You’re a traitor. A collaborator.”

Bailey sighed, covered his face with his hand, and pinched his nose. “I am losing track of how many times people tell me this, and how many times I have to remind them, they did this to me. You did this to me. You did this to yourself. But no, Bolér, I am not The Snake. I would not do something so crass, so heinous, as to sell you out to the Keepers. Believe it or not, I offer you mercy.”

“R-really?” Bailey saw some light flash into those black eyes of Bolér’s, and he had to hide the smirk that threatened to cross his face.

“Do not get me wrong. You are still going to die.” A strangled cry, somewhere between a sob and a gasp, escaped Bolér, but Bailey turned away from him. “But you have a rather unique opportunity here, Bolér. You get to choose how you will die.” Bailey waited for him to respond. Nothing came from Bolér except anguished moans. It prompted Bailey to sigh and pinch his nose again. “You have two options. We kill you here, and we leave your corpse for the hobgoblins to find. No one will ever know what became of you." Bailey paused. "Do you have family, Bolér?”

“P-p-parents,” he stammered. “But my fetch took my place pretty good -- better than I ever did. I killed him a couple of months after I got back from Faerie.”

“Any distant relations? Friends? Lovers?”

“Achlys, but --”

“Anyone else?” Bailey interrupted, his voice dripping with acid.

“...Rixia.”

“Rixia, then.” Bailey looked to Jolberto, then gestured for the man to come closer to Bolér. “As I was saying, you have two options. You die here, and your body becomes food for the monsters that roam these lands. Or we take your body back to the other side, leave it with Rixia, and your spirit is given some measure of rest. I just need one thing from you.”

“W-what?”

“Tell me where Achlys is,” Bailey stepped up and leaned into Bolér’s sniveling face. “Oh, you are far from blameless in all of this. You did attack Eden, and you did injure my leg. But you at least did me the favor of not hiding like a rat, and, well -- “ Bailey pulled back, holding up his right hand, still covered in bandages. “-- You did not do this. So, tell Jolberto here where Achlys is, tell him where your Rixia is, and I promise I will make your death quick and painless, and return you to her, and not harm a hair on her head. Otherwise, well? I believe I have made my point clear -- but do not imagine you can lie about Achlys. If I come back without her blood soaking my clothes, yours will be replacing it. Understood?”

“Y-yes.” Bolér nodded, gulped. “Yes.”

“Jolberto?” At Bailey’s prompting, the man knelt down beside Bolér to hear his whisper. Jolberto nodded as well and then repeated what he had heard to Bailey. “Thank you.” With that, Bailey spun his left hand out by his side and opened a portal, leaving the three of them to wait for him to return from RhyDin.

May 13, 2020
RhyDin City


Bailey leaped through the gateway into a pitch-black hotel with rotten wooden floor beams and a window with iron bars criss-crossing it. He pointed his left hand at the ceiling and fired off a magical flare, filling the room with blinding white light. It succeeded in three things: giving him a clear view of the room, waking up its occupant, and leaving them dazzled. A blotchy hand fumbled desperately for the gun on the nightstand, but Bailey moved quicker, turning himself into water and flowing right up to the bed. As soon as he became flesh again, he drew a dagger and stabbed at that hand, pinning it to the wood with a primal howl. Achlys’ howl. He saw her lift her other hand, and shifted back into liquid, letting the blast of acid sizzle into the closet door. He slipped under the bed, on the opposite side of her, and this time when he became solid, he turned all the way to stone, hammering Achlys with a fist across the back of her head.

“Well, now, Achlys, what to do with you?”
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