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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-01-23, 12:56

You stand on the precipice of history: the opening ceremony of The Queen's Game. The world has seen numerous changes in technology and culture, but one thing remains constant. Every child as long has history can recall has grown up listening to the wondrous tales of The Crown of Krosa, the legendary artifact that you and tens of thousands more have come to The Queen's Isles to claim as your own.

Until four months ago, when The Queen made her staggering announcement, the world had never seen nor heard of the six islands that constitute her domain. The Queen herself remains an enigma, as does the true nature of The Crown of Krosa. Yet the following is clear: who or whatever leaves with the tournament's grand prize will command unparalleled fear and respect across the globe.

You have put everything on the line to be where you are now - standing on the largest of The Queen's Isles and gazing over a hoard of eager contestants. The crisp tropical weather and salty ocean breeze does nothing to penetrate the collective apprehension of the crowd as it watches an elderly woman hobble on to a large wooden stage accompanied by an entourage of green-garbed attendants.

Ahead of you the elderly woman, robed in flowing purple and topped with a careful braid of white hair, approaches a ceramic urn mounted on a wooden pedestal against the backdrop of a slowly rolling sea. Behind you, an enormous mountain range towers over the island. Everywhere else, a fantastic collection of humans, elves, giants, and nearly every other creature imaginable packs the large valley to capacity.

"Achem!" The woman clears her voice. Perhaps it was once a thing of irresistible presence, but age has since dissolved it into a fatigued rasp. "The Queen's Game has officially begun. You are each to come on to the stage, one at a time, and draw a card from the urn. This will tell you who Fate has chosen to help or hinder you on your quest. Once you have assembled accordingly, you will be instructed further. Enjoy your stay on these isles. Only one can claim the Crown."

The woman steps away from the podium and descends from the stage, her golden, gem-encrusted crown gleaming in the beating sun. The crowd erupts into chaos as individuals try in vain to push past the unordered mass onto the stage. Before long, an earth-shattering roar erupts and a dragon, grey as an overcast sky, swoops onto the stage's ramp, crushing a few unlucky competitors under its sword-length talons. Wasting no time, it slithers onto the stage on all-fours, the wooden structure groaning under the weight. It approaches the urn, and a single paper card floats gently from it into the air. The dragon looks out over the crowd, lets out a sigh that freezes into an icy mist, then slinks off the stage, the crowd parting hastily before it, card gliding behind its slowly swishing tail.

After a few moments a long single-file procession proceeds past the urn, each drawing a card in turn and descending down the other side of the stage. You too go in kind, and after sorting through the crowd now find yourself faced with three others, each presenting a card like yours. The remaining line appears to be about halfway through. How do you address the strangers before you?
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-02-01, 16:33

Calurakus stands a little apart from the rest of the crowd. He stands tall, closer to seven than six feet. His skin is pure white, without even a hint of color. The only thing that breaks up the white monotony are his eyes, a total pure black, leaking a constant tarry substance. He stands silent, and closer inspection reveals why; his mouth is stitched shut.

He raises one arm, and there is a blur of color. Two pseudodragons, one red and one blue streak down from the sky, flaring their wings and landing at his feet. Where Calurakus wears a set of fine noble's clothing, with a generous heaping of rubies studding the black fabric, the pseudodragons wear miniature studded leather armor. This armor is finely worked as well, with small gems dotting the protective coating.

Calurakis lowers his arm, and his card floats into the air to confirm that he has joined the right group. He remains silent.
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Post by Hallbera Ulfsdóttir on 2015-02-01, 16:56

Hallbera eyes her new companions skeptically, feet set stolidly apart and arms crossed. Heavy boots and heavier gauntlets contrast with her blouse and knee-length skirt, but the half-plate fitted over the dressy clothes looks well worn. She fingers a faded red scrap of a family banner tied around her bicep. The ribbons tucked into her mass of thick brown curls look more or less ridiculous. The two pseudodragons commanded by one of the rare individuals taller than her make her scowl.

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Post by Lyrissa on 2015-02-01, 17:38

Lyrissa does not remove her hood, gazing out of the darkness while calmly surveying her new companions.  A particularly observant observer may notice the slight twitch under her cloak around her leg, but whatever causes this twitch remains hidden underneath.  A seemingly simple sword hangs by her side, but once the light catches the blade, the sword gleams with a nearly infernal darkness.  The hand which rests near the hilt shows many signs of weather abuse and a bronzed color which indicates much time spent outside.  Her companions stand higher than her, but this does not seem abnormal.  Her slight build does not indicate any armor under her cloak, but her bearing underneath that cloak remains hidden from view outside.  

The card which Lyrissa received hangs in the air in front of her, revealing she stands in the correct position.  No noise escapes her, aside from the swish of a slight breeze catching the hem of her cloak.

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Post by Noada on 2015-02-03, 17:42

Noada stomps up to the small congregation, her elaborate armor letting off a soft puffs of purple steam as she moves. Her helmet is strapped to the haft of her warhammer leaving her face as the only uncovered part of her body. She is dark of skin and hair and stands of average height where she is from. Though somewhat less than average in her current company. She eyes the psuedodragons warily before taking in the rest of the silent bunch. "Well judging by the cards it looks like i'm in the right place, you can call me Noada."

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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-02-03, 19:46

Noting the semi-hostile stares of many of the gathered group, the pseudodragons raise their wings and hiss slightly. Before the situation can escalate, a strange voice rings out in the minds of those nearby.

Cerioth, Tyrath, cease your posturing The dragons glide down quickly at the sound of this voice and move to their master's heel. The voice sounds as if it comes from far away, ringing through the void. A voice that conjures images of the dreams of madmen.

Once more, you hear the voice ring in your minds.

"Well, Noada, it seems we are now allied. Allow me to announce myself, as the help here have failed to do so. You stand in the presence of Calurakas, Son of Sevenless, Baron of the Misty Barrow. I hope our partnership will prove amicable .... and profitable." As he "speaks" you feel an almost overpowering sense of assurance and elan. His black eyes rest on each of you in turn, and it seems as if the corners of his mouth, the only parts free to move, shift up in amusement.
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Post by Lyrissa on 2015-02-04, 10:48

"I apologize for not speaking sooner," comes the soft voice from under the hood. "You may call me Lyrissa. I needed some moments to determine how to interact with you. It is not often that I meet new people, or new anything to be honest."  

The voice does not resound mentally, as that of Calurakas does.  However, a certain amount of weight can be detected behind each word, showing that these words are well thought out.  The speech seems strange, however, as if speaking out loud does not come naturally.

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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-02-05, 05:11

Your jubilant and openhearted introductions come to a halt as you notice a dark-skinned man with pointed ears and a fine set of nobles’ clothes approach your position. His broad features and carefully trimmed stubble tell of his half-elf nature. He walks calmly away from what is clearly his assigned group: a goblin cloaked in tribal garb, a Dragonborn with a complex mechanism encasing her entire arm from shoulder to claws, and a towering Centauress with an equally massive bow strapped to her back. The half-elf stops five feet outside your gathering. His words are graceful but filled with dread. “Have you heard rumors? There are plants amongst the competition, placed by the queen herself.”
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-02-05, 11:54

Calurakas' eyes tighten as he hears the half-elf.

"Indeed?" his voice resonates. "Tell us more, stranger."
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Post by Lyrissa on 2015-02-05, 12:03

"I am with my groupmate in desiring this information."

Lyrissa's voice radiates calm, despite the words come from her.

"I had assumed the Queen would take precautions. It would be foolish otherwise."

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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-02-05, 13:45

The half-elf seems unfazed by the odd assortment of creatures before him, even Calurakas’ horrific appearance. “Yes, well, that is the optimistic approach to it. It would be one thing if the plants were here to keep the queen safe, but it would be quite another entirely if their purpose was to thin the competition.”

The half-elf lets out a troubled sigh. “A shame really, part of the reason I came here was to get a break from the constant web of intrigue I have to deal with in my line of work. Just have a good fair fight, nothing on the line but our prides, you know? Oh well, I guess that is just too much to ask for in this day and age.” He tosses his head in contempt and his dark, luscious, flowing hair follows suit.
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-02-05, 18:21

Calurakas is amused. You hear his voice again, speaking faster. "Of course. Nothing on the line except ... our pride. I'm glad to learn how you view this competition. I hope you can experience the, what was it? 'A good fair fight'? Might I trouble you for an introduction? You strike me as a possible peer, yet I am ashamed to admit that I do not have the honor of knowing your name."

His smile grows, and the stitches on his mouth tear into the skin, leaving small cuts. A black ichor, much like the one dripping out of his eyes, begins oozing from the wounds.
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-02-06, 04:44

The half-elf raises an eyebrow. He’s not frightened by the state of your body, but perhaps disgusted, or possibly even curious. “Sorry, but a name is a powerful thing and for all I know you could belong to the queen. In another time and another place, certainly. In any case, I’m sure we will be seeing more of each other. I plan to stay to the end.”
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Post by Hallbera Ulfsdóttir on 2015-02-06, 08:35

"Wonder what the f*ck he wanted." Hallbera mutters to heavily-armored girl next to her.  "If it really was a fight, he'd be better off punching stitch-lips over there in the face than chattin' at him."

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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-02-07, 01:08

At Hallbera's harsh words, Cerioth moves between her and Calurakas. His red scales seem to glow brighter, and his back arches, much like an angry cat. A surprisingly deep hiss leaves his toothy jaws. Tyrath moves forward as well, joining Cerioth in protecting their master.
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Post by Lyrissa on 2015-02-07, 03:39

"There is no need for fighting amongst us. However much we may dislike each other now, we can only work together in order to advance. None of us are strong enough alone to win this competition." Lyrissa steps forward, her calming words sweeping through the group, hopefully to settle the emotions here.

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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-02-07, 06:20

A thunderous ringing explodes from atop the wooden stage. An attendant stands with ears covered beside a shimmering gong. The dull roar of the crowd vanishes beneath the sound and the elderly woman makes her way back onto the stage. “Achem! Kneel before the queen!”

Most of the population obeys the command and hurriedly drop into the respectful stance. However, a handful of competitors spread out through the crowd fail to move. Perhaps they do not understand the order, or perhaps they are too proud. Looking back, you see that the half-elf has dropped to one knee, head bowed, but his centauress companion stands tall. How do you respond?
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-02-07, 11:39

Calurakas kneels without hesitation. He may be conceited and arrogant, but he knows the importance of proper respect for his betters.
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Post by Lyrissa on 2015-02-09, 11:58

Lyrissa bows, always careful to remain able to see the stage, despite her respectful position.

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Post by Hallbera Ulfsdóttir on 2015-02-09, 19:50

Hallbera folds her arms, hunches her shoulders and scowls. Her fingers rub again the cloth tied around her bicep.

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Post by Noada on 2015-02-11, 13:35

Noada kneels with surprising grace given the mass of her armor and looks expectantly at the stage.

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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-02-11, 19:24

The gong’s ring continues to sound throughout the valley. All is still save the tropical breeze which sends ripples down the grassy earth as it waxes and wanes. “Achem!” The elderly woman atop the stage appears to have grown nervous. She glances anxiously right and left. “I said, kneel before the queen!”

“I’M COMING MOTHER!” A woman comes blundering up the stairs from behind the stage, hoping on one leg as she flails desperately, attempting to pull her scarlet stockings over the tanned skin of her other leg. “You couldn’t have waited one more minute for me to finish getting dressed? By the gods above, are you TRYING to make me look like a fool?”

Having arrived front and center on the wooden platform, she abruptly straightens her posture. She holds a hand to shade her eyes and scans the sea of creatures assembled below her. “Wow! We really did get quite the turn out!”

“Yes your majesty,” mutters the elderly woman, trying to hide her embarrassment. “They await your direction.”

“Really!? Amazing!” A delighted grin spreads across the younger woman’s face as she turns towards the assembly again. “Achem!” Taking after her mother, she clears her throat, but her shrill, excited voice lacks a great deal of presence in comparison.

“Oh yeah, now where did I put that thing again… oh! Here it is!” From a fold in her violet dress, she reveals an object of unquestionable beauty. The small, blood-red crown radiates crimson and leaves a shimmering afterimage in its wake as the woman gingerly balances it atop her braided brown hair. Bereft of any jewels, five equally spaced triangular shapes jut from the crown’s top, bowing inward toward a central point just above the woman’s head.

“I a –” The woman’s speech stops abruptly as a towering hooded figure materializes inches behind her, one hand stretched towards the crown and the other clenched tensely at its side. In a blur of motion, the woman spins towards the figure. Steel rings as she yanks a broadsword free from a scabbard tucked inside her royal garments and plunges it straight through the figure’s arm, just below its tightened fist. As bodily reflexes take hold of the figure, its hood falls away and its fist releases, the former uncovering the face of a tiger while the latter reveals a shining red bead.

At the same time, the woman flashes her free hand towards the figure’s open palm. She grabs the bead and flings it into the air. In the same motion, she pushes the creature away with a heel placed squarely on its belly and retrieves her blade from its punctured wrist. The bead rises several feet in the air before exploding in a brilliant burst of fiery energy. The tiger-faced man stands stunned, clutching its wound with its other hand. It looks on with wide eyes as the woman, rather than pursuing her assailant, casually wipes a thin stream of blood from her sword on her sleeve, paying no heed to the dark streak now stained on to the fabric. It creature’s eyes dart this way and that across the valley. Without a moment of hesitation, it disappears from the stage, just as suddenly as it came.

“Mother! Didn’t you tell them to kneel? Answer me this: how did one try to assassinate me if it was kneeling? Ugh! Can’t a queen get some proper respect anymore!? As I was saying,” she turns her attention back towards the crowd, “I am The Queen.” Looking about the assembly, you can see that the centauress, among other who before refused to kneel, now show the proper respect.

The Queen lets out a sigh. “If I wanted the crown to go to whoever could assassinate me, I would have just tied world domination or something, yeesh! No, instead, we’re having a nice, fair, tournament, and I hope everyone understands that. In fact, just to show you how fair it is, I’ll compete myself. Yes! That way, no one can complain! If I can do it, you lot should have no problem!”

As The Queen speaks, she waves her broadsword around haphazardly, as though conducting the thoughts running through her mind. At last, she sheathes the blade and slams the end of the scabbard onto the stage, the sound lending finality to her statement like a gavel. “The tournament will consist of several different trials. Exactly how many, I haven’t decided yet, but that’s not important! After all, most of you won’t even make it past the first one.” She indulges herself in a prolonged chuckle. “Ah, yes, I should say that as soon as you fail to complete even a single trial, you will be disqualified from the tournament and asked to leave my realm. What can I say? There’s a lot of you!”

The Queen now starts to pace back and forth across the stage, clearly unable to remain still for any amount of time. “Well! I’m sure you’re all wondering what the first trail is.” The Queen briefly suppresses a giggle, then swings her arm up in a wide arc until her outstretched finger points toward the top of the mountain behind you. “Go that way. You’ll know when you get there. That’s it.”

She turns her back to the crowd and begins to make her exit. “Ah, one more thing! If your group hasn’t finished in umm… 36 hours, I’ll have to consider yours a failure. Too bad I suppose, but I’m not a very patient lady! Start whenever you’re ready, and remember: only one can claim The Crown!” The Queen lifts her crown towards the crowd and curtsies. As she recovers from the formal gesture, she stumbles a little and flings her arms up to catch her balance. She offers one last excited smile to the crowd, then disappears behind the stage.

The Queen’s exit triggers a storm of activity. Thousands of contestants break into a sprint headed straight for the mountain. Several creatures take to the skies, some on their own wings, some fly on contraptions of various kinds, and still others soar with invisible magic. Some competitors simply disappear, a few even taking their group with them. The remainder remain motionless, either lost in thought or too astonished by recent events to act just yet.

How do you proceed?
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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-02-11, 20:22

Calurakas stands and addresses the other members of his team.

"I know we have not begun our partnership with the greatest amity, but we must make haste. I do not believe that sprinting forward, as some of these fools seem to be doing, is the best plan however. If we move at a steady pace we will be able to cover much more ground."

His voice becomes quieter as he speaks the blue dragon at his side.

"Tyrath, be my eyes and ears." At this, Tyrath leaps into the air and begins flying towards the mountain the Queen indicated. Cerioth remains behind, at Calurakas's feet.
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Post by Lyrissa on 2015-02-12, 08:19

"I agree, it is best to proceed steadily, while being prepared for whatever this challenge which awaits us is."

As she says this, Lyrissa pulls back her hood, revealing a set of curled horns pressed against her blonde-red hair. Gold eyes peer out of a pale complexion, as the shadows fall away from her face.

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Post by Jarrion Xanatov on 2015-02-13, 21:19

Tyrath rises quickly above the rushing crowd, staying 500 feet high above the ground. His keen dragon eyes peer forth as he shoots forward, seeking signs of danger.

[Tyrath makes a perception check at +3]
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Post by Gwain von Griswald on 2015-02-14, 06:38

[The wisdom (perception) check has minimal success]

From its elevated position, Tyrath takes in the breathtaking landscape. A dense forest covers the base of the mountain where it continues up the mountain before tapering off into a grassy hill at the peak. The mountain is not prohibitively steep, but is nearly as wide as the island itself. Judging by the speed of some of the sprinters, it certainly seems possible to make it to the other side, or at least scale it, within the 36 hour time limit.
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