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New Avalon Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=New%20Avalon
Colors' Sheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gq9ZEFrwnYjQpSeuMg1a_7UepedMrQUSEwbrHWntFCo/edit?usp=sharing

You are Colors Eriksdotter, the Warlock Knight of the Spring Court. Your primary skill set runs in the direction of battle (honorable or otherwise), artwork (glass and watercolor), dancing (those formal waltz lessons as a teenager paid off), general heroics, the wooing of maidens and, of course, poor poetry. Proper knightly tradition suggest quality poetry but so far 'uninspired rhyming couplets' is just about your speed.

Unfortunately, what you have on hand right now is the intricacies of politics. When did you sign up for this, again?
>>
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>>1668718
"We're leaving," you announce. "Vickie, we've got other places to be. We're late as it is."

"You can't be serious," the Darkling demands.

"As grim death, Deputy," you assert. For a moment it seems like the Summer Courtier is going to argue the point, but Vickie backs down with a small nod. Venus lets you leave without further comment. It's a good call on her part; you can feel the rage bleeding off of Vickie like steam from a pot.

Fancy is waiting downstairs, and looks up with an interested expression. What the Rook said rattles in your head, and you decide to ask what's on your mind.

"Fancy, have you been to Wonderland?"

Fancy startles; her eyes widen in shock, and she looks at you in sheer disbelief. After a long moment, she hangs her head in shame. "I know you told me it was a dumb idea," she says in a whisper. "But I had to see at least somethin' for myself. You know? Something real, that I could treasure for myself. There was this guy, with your Freehold tattoo on, he was offering tours. Him and his motley, of the World Inside the Mirror, the place you call the Hedge. So I signed up. Me and a bunch of kids. They took us through a door into a place where it was like...like the city was just growing wild, like someone planted a town out there and it grew crazy, grew however it wanted with no people in it and nobody it was meant for."

"...Fancy," you say at last. You close your eyes and pinch the bridge of your nose.

"Colors, I'm sorry," the dancer pleads. "I just -"

"If you're making excuses, you're not sorry."

"C'mon Colors, don't be like this. It was one time. I had a guide and everything!"

> Count slowly back from ten. Then explosively lose your temper while telling her exactly how that could and in some senses ought to have gone wrong.
> Go outside. Ask Vickie to question Fancy further while you cool off.
> Demand further information.
> Write-in? (Keep in mind: Colors is up-fucking-set)
>>
Surprising precisely no one, I'm up too late and need to go to bed. Votes remain open.

Questions, comments, discussion, feedback, and criticisms remain welcome and appreciated. And no I haven't forgotten that part of the last vote was reporting this to Ramona specifically.

Thank you all for reading and participating!
>>
>>1668936
Did Fancy even bother to ask Colors before diving headlong into danger?
>>
>>1668993
Nope! Moreover, as the conversation suggests, she deliberately ignored warnings to Not Do That, Ever.
>>
>>1668936
> Count slowly back from ten. Then explosively lose your temper while telling her exactly how that could and in some senses ought to have gone wrong.
>>
>>1668936
>Demand further information.
>Write-in?
>"They pull you apart, Fancy, take everything you are and mold you however they please, you won't even recognize yourself. And the nightmares, They, Never, Stop!"

>"There was this guy, with your Freehold tattoo on"
This is important, the current ruler needs to know.
>>
>>1668936
Um, is there anything unusual about the Freehold tattoo? Is there anything stopping people from just copying it?
>>
>>1669026
I feel like we should throw in a "I thought we were friends?!" in there as well but I'm really not good at being angry.
>>
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>>1668936
"Fancy, don't do the thing!"
*She runs off and does the thing.*

I think we should
> Go outside. Ask Vickie to question Fancy further while you cool off.
Rather than explosively lose our temper in front of a friend. Better to go out into the alley and explosively lose our temper where no one can see.
>>
>>1668936
>Changing: >>1669026

>Supporting:>>1669083
>>
>>1668936
>>1669026

Supporting. Also given our state I'm wondering whether we start to sound like shattering glass or really active wind chimes whenever we get upset.
>>
>>1669026
I would support this, but after we snap we should take a deep breath and just go vent outside. We will go back in when we feel better.
>>
>>1669035
Not magically unusual, just locally. It'd be "easy" to fake (easier still with shapeshifting such as Contracts of Mirror); before everything went down, having one was just an expression of pride. Now more and more Lost in New Avalon are getting the Freehold's symbol tattooed on their bodies for various reasons: solidarity, safety in numbers, to encourage the Valks to leave them alone, peer pressure, the works.
>>
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Aight folks, so: I woke up too late and go into work too early to update beforehand. I'ma attempt to do so after work. Also on the docket today is continuing the work on the character list and glossary in Colors' sheet.

In the meantime, votes remain open, and I'm opening the thread up for Q&A with the understanding that I'll likely have to answer A. from work and B. on my phone.

Questions (obviously), comments, discussion, feedback, and criticisms remain, as always, welcome and appreciated. Thank you again for your patience with me while I get used to doing this in and around a work schedule again.

Thank you all for reading and participating thus far!
>>
>>1669026
supporting
>>
Rolled 84 (1d100)

>>
Called, writing at last
>>
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>>1668936
"What else?" you press. "What did he say? What was his motley like? Where did you go, what happened?"

"I - we stayed in that city-style area! He said it was kept safe by his friends? They were all like, animals, like wolf-like and bear-like?"

"Riddlekith," you and Vickie say at the same time.

"Excuse me?" Fancy asks.

"It's a basic kind of shapeshifting," Vickie explains. "And it's free if you've had dinner in the last week with the kind of Changeling you're turning into. You can't control the look, but that makes it great for anonymity."

"...Oh. So looks are -"

"Useless," you agree. "Let me guess: clothing was lots of tough denim, thick shirts, maybe jackets?"

"Yeah, kinda low-rent punk looks. Big steel-toed boots, all of 'em, with that heart symbol on it. Um...actually, wait, there was one thing. They kept talking about the 'wing'. Not secretively, but like..." Fancy trails off. "Like, we went into one of the weird buildings so they could show us this gum, right? You chew it and you can speak any language, but you can't read or write. And while two of 'em were showing us, the three guards on the outside were saying about how the 'wing' would come around, and then everything would be fine again."

"Mean anything to you?" Vickie asks.

"Not a damn thing," you say with a shake of your head. "The wing? You're sure?"

"Yes," Fancy agrees. "Just 'the wing', not anything plural. They seemed, I dunno...excited? Looking forward to it? Are...are you still mad?"

You're quiet for a long moment; the theater muffles sound from outside, leaving a heavy silence.

"They take you apart for pieces, Fancy," you tell her. "You understand? They take everything you are and remove whatever doesn't please Them. They mold you however you please until the face in the mirror is a stranger. Most people go gibbering mad, Fancy. You understand? You lose too much and you never leave. They take and take and you crumble, because you can't fight without ground to stand on. And if you're one of the people who makes it out, one of the tiny fraction of unfortunate souls who comes back, you can re-live it every night. The pain, the suffering, the guilt."

Fancy backs up against the wall, eyes wide.

"Fancy," you tell her in a murmur, "I need you to understand me when I tell you that if you saw me being taken back to the Fairest of Lands, I would want you to kill me. You think about that, and then you tell Vickie the rest of what you know."

You go out the stage door. There's nothing to do for now but figure out for later.

> Meet up with the Rook and Forum before you make any reports; you're already late
> Report to Ramona and Arthur before you do anything else
>>
>>1672674
>> Report to Ramona and Arthur before you do anything else
Send a message to Rook about bringing some info to Ramona and Arthur.
>>
>>1672674
> Meet up with the Rook and Forum before you make any reports; you're already late
>>
>>1672674
> Meet up with the Rook and Forum before you make any reports; you're already late
>>
>>1672674
>Meet up with the Rook and Forum before you make any reports; you're already late
It kinda sucks, but the investigation takes a bit more priority.
>>
>>1673157
Maybe we can shoot a text to Ramona or Natalie about the Goldspinner while we're on our way to meet up with the others.

>>1672674
> Meet up with the Rook and Forum before you make any reports; you're already late.
> Send a message to anyone whose still awake; Venus will need to be spoken to, or make an appearance at Court.
This is a serious matter, and we can't just let it continue. I have no qualms with her selling some gold in return for some favors, if she's being fair. But this? Just plain dumb and reckless.
>>
>>1673198
Sending Ramona a message is a very good idea, I don't think this practice she has going is really harmful other than making gold drop a little in value, and her clients seem like people who genuinely have nowhere else to go, but she refuses to say what she's getting out of it, and if this was completely on the level she would have cleared it up with Ramona at least.

I don't think this warrants the attention of the seasons ruling monarch but at least we should let Ramona know eventually, chances that Venus will skip town are not that high yet.
>>
>>1672674
>> Meet up with the Rook and Forum before you make any reports; you're already late.
>> Send a message to anyone whose still awake; Venus will need to be spoken to, or make an appearance at Court.
>>
>>1672674
>> Meet up with the Rook and Forum before you make any reports; you're already late
>>
Called, writing.
>>
>>1672674
You shoot a group text. [We'll be done in ten minutes or so. Got a place to meet?]

[Rimshot Arcade.] the Rook texts back. [Bring quarters.]

[There's no time to play.]

[There's always time to play.]

[??]

After five minutes of staring at the phone you accept that you're not going to get an answer to your question marks.

Vickie comes out quietly, and falls in when you set out without a word. You stop at a laundromat to feed the change machine, and the Darkling follows suit after you say you're going to an arcade.

"You really scared her," Vickie says at last. "She's got this idea in her head that you're not her friend any more."

"I never said that."

"You certainly fucking implied it, Warlock Knight."

"So I'm 'fearless leader' as long as you agree with me?" you snap. "You /know/ what she did was moronic. Why are you defending it?"

"Excuse me if I remember what it's like to want a little wonder so bad that you do something stupid to get it!" Vickie shouts. Her voice echoes with the crack-boom of her Mantle; the few pedestrians on the street stop to look at the confrontation and slowly edge away when they see the fury between the two of you. "Jesus fucking Christ, Colors, you have any idea what most people would do for just a little of what we've got? For just the tiniest scrap of magic to call their own? What they'd offer, promise, sacrifice? Your Court's supposed to be the one that's all the fuck about that."

"You expect me to sit back and let this happen to -"

"/I expect you to go back there and make this right/," Vickie interrupts. "Fuck you for even thinking the other thing. Nobody needs /this/ to happen but /everybody/ needs a little shard of sunlight you fucking idiot. You promise me you're gonna go back there, /tomorrow/, and make this right."

"Or what?" you ask, arms folded across your chest.

"Or when all this is said and done you're gonna get a visit from the Ghost of Ass Whippings Future, at the very least."

"Real original, Vickie."

"Jesus, fuck you, okay? I'm trying to have patience with your whole Elemental schtick 'cause I wanna like you but if you're gonna be like this you can go directly to hell and die."

> Vickie has a point. You can at least go talk to Fancy?
> Fuck you too, Vickie. Fancy was warned
> We got places to be, Vick. We'll table this row for after the Arcade
> Write-in?

How're we feeling so far? I'm trying to give the opportunity to characterize Colors here, to feel her out some.
>>
>>1673510
>> We got places to be, Vick. We'll table this row for after the Arcade

Can't deal right now. Focus on the mission, then figure out the people.
>>
And now I hit work. Again. Votes remain open.

I swear to god I'll hit my stride soon and get back to more than one to two updates per work day.

Questions, comments, discussion, feedback, and criticisms remain, as always, welcome and appreciated. I know y'all are looking to learn more about Colors' past in Philly (and don't worry, that's coming); what else might you like to see?

Thank you all for reading and participating!
>>
>>1673510
See, this is why it's important to explosively lose your temper where no one can see you.
> Vickie has a point. You can at least go talk to Fancy?
>>
>>1673510
>Write-in?
>"What about you? how would you feel if one of YOUR only friends went behind YOUR back, walking within arms reach of those hellish things? Without even considering to ask you if it was on the level or not. I wouldn't wish that torment on my worst enemy... I don't have that many friends, Vickie, and I don't want to lose the ones I have to 'them'... I'll talk to Fancy, but we also have a job to do right now."

Anger, betrayal, but also fear and regret, Not sure if the elemental thing works with what I got but I feel like Colors would treasure friends a lot, seeing as a lot of people want her due to the Summer thing.
>>
>>1673510
> Fuck you too, Vickie. Fancy was warned
>>
>>1673510
>> Vickie has a point. You can at least go talk to Fancy?
>>1673557
>Support for this
>>
>>1673555
I also would like to see Vickie, Forum, Colors, heck even Rook become friends, or at least a healthy form of respect between the four.

And I'm forever doubtful if I'm getting the emotional/social queues right on these things.
>>
>>1673510
>> Vickie has a point. You can at least go talk to Fancy?
>>1673557
supporting
>>
>>1673579
You're well-plausible to see things from Color's perspective.
>>
>>1673864
... Fucking phone. Well-equipped.
>>
>>1673510
Supporting this; >>1673557
>>
>>1673510
>>1673557
Supporting.
>>
>>1673510
I support >>1673557
>>
>>1673510
>>Write-in?
>>"What about you? how would you feel if one of YOUR only friends went behind YOUR back, walking within arms reach of those hellish things? Without even considering to ask you if it was on the level or not. I wouldn't wish that torment on my worst enemy... I don't have that many friends, Vickie, and I don't want to lose the ones I have to 'them'... I'll talk to Fancy, but we also have a job to do right now."
>Anger, betrayal, but also fear and regret, Not sure if the elemental thing works with what I got but I feel like Colors would treasure friends a lot, seeing as a lot of people want her due to the Summer thing.
>>
Aight, I am entirely too fucking wiped to update tonight. Tried to get my shit together, my shit is firmly fucking separated. You have my apologies, and my thanks for your patience. I'll update before work tomorrow.
>>
>>1675726
It's okay Vox. We all know your pain.

Well, I mean, we DON'T, cause you're a walkin' talkin' skeltan that ignores the fundamental laws of reality, but you get the point.
>>
>>1674863
Seconded
>>1675726
Do what you have to do, Lich.
>>
>>1675726
You know what would help?
Laying off the coffee.
>>
>>1676670
Dude, no.

Vox has taken the Caffeine Biology debuff for Intoxicant Immunity (All). If he stops taking his required dosages he might actually start being affected by painkillers and alcohol.
>>
>>1676670
Over my steaming corpse, sir

Called, writing.
>>
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"You wanna bring Seeming into this? Fine, envision it for a moment, Vickie." You jam your quarters into your pocket and keep moving, because it's easy to walk and be angry, but also because you're still running late. "One of your only friend goes behind your back and waves her ass out in the Hedge with only strangers to protect her. She didn't ask you, she didn't have you check if shit was on the level, she lied to you and went out where anyone or anything could take her. What if they were privateers? Loyalists? What if one of Them attacked? I wouldn't wish any of that on my worst fucking enemy and it almost happened to one of my only friends. I don't have loved ones left to fucking lose!"

"...But...you're Spring," Vickie says in a small voice. "I thought friends was the point. That's why you join up."

"I'm the Warlock Knight, Vickie. I don't get the time of day from most of the Freehold. Ramona understands, but she's the Queen, she's busy. Natalia too, but surprise of all surprises, she's busy too. I can't exactly drop by their house at two in the morning to cry shit out, can I?"

The Darkling woman tucks her hands into her pockets. She's still angry, but maybe she has a right to be. Letting it all out helped you cool off, some.

"We've got a job to do right now, but I'll talk to Fancy when I can, okay? That's what I have to offer you."

"Yeah." Your teammate walks quietly for awhile; when she speaks up to ask her question it takes you by surprise. "You knew, before you signed up. About the whole...you know, you broke a pledge. Maybe more than one. Why join Spring?"

"You join Spring to make a new life without the baggage of the old one, Vickie. You join Spring to leave it behind."

"...Most of 'em seem pretty bad at that."

"That's why we're a Court and not the default state of society."

Rimshot Arcade is like a blast from the past. Arcades died in the United States awhile back, except in little pockets here and there, places that survive on nostalgia or on tourists, on poor city kids with more quarters than dollars or on just plain criminal backing. Rimshot Arcade was a tiny little thing nine years ago when the Rook came crawling out of the Hedge, and he went to it like a moth to flame. Even after he joined Autumn he fed it, pacting with its owners and staff, buying his way into the business with pledges, with money, with threats and violence every now and again.

Now, nearly a decade later, Rimshot Arcade is the largest arcade in the United States, a contender for that title on the global stage, and it is a shrine to the love of the game. It never closes its doors, never stops operating; you can hear the sounds of its amusements from a block away.

Despite the sprawling maze of games, cabinets, and other temptations, the Rook is easy to find. Even at nearly one in the morning, he's at the center of a throng of gamers clustered around a Soul Calibur cabinet.
>>
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>>1677155
One of the figures on the screen (if you're reading the healthbar right, Ivy?) goes down, and the Rook's opponent swears, slapping the side of the cabinet. He reaches for his wallet, counts out a sheaf of bills, and puts it on a pile atop the game.

"Anyone else?" the Rook asks, scanning the crowd with one eye. Without a word, a young man steps up and puts his ante on the pile. The Rook nods and offers his own so the taller player can put it on.

"How in the hell...?" Vickie murmurs, but then the game is on.

The Rook plays in a cold fury. His expression never wavers, his eye never leaves the screen. The furious bounce of his hand, fingers stretching to reach buttons without letting go of the stick, sends metallic slams and clacks over the sound of the fight, but on-screen the fencer he controls moves with total precision. The dance of parries and counters comes with bright flashes that stab at your eyes, but eventually your eyes slide back to the Rook, watching him for the telltale signs of magic - the flare of a Mantle, the taste of Glamour on the air.

The Rook's opponent takes the first round. The next three go to the Wizened, and through it all there isn't a single sign that he's doing it with anything but raw skill.

"Who's next?" the one-armed man rasps, as his opponent slams his forfeit atop the cabinet.

> Break it up; you've got work to do. And this is probably illegal?
> Go find Forum. The troll's got to be here somewhere, right?
> Maybe Vickie would like a game?
> Write-in?
>>
> Go find Forum. The troll's got to be here somewhere, right?
> Maybe Vickie would like a game?

Ask Vickie if she wants to publicly executed by Rook and then go find Forum.
>>
>>1677164
>Go find Forum. The troll's got to be here somewhere, right?
Rook only has one arm, this pretty amazing, let him have his fun a bit longer.
>>
>>1677164
> Go find Forum. The troll's got to be here somewhere, right?
>>
>>1677164
>>
>>1677255
>> Maybe Vickie would like a game?
>>
>>1677164
>Go find Forum. The troll's got to be here somewhere, right?
Why would we interupt? This is art!
>>
>>1677164
> Go find Forum. The troll's got to be here somewhere, right?
>>
>>1677164
> Go find Forum. The troll's got to be here somewhere, right?
> Maybe Vickie would like a game?
>>
To clarify, I'd intended the Vickie option as you playing with her; are the folks voting for it intending the vote as suggesting she play against the Rook?
>>
>>1677582
Uh yeah kinda. At least that would keep her occupied until we find Forum.

As a side-note, I don't know why but I pictured the Rook as an old man, complete with flowing grey beard...
>>
>>1677582
Yeah, let´send her to the meat grinder.

"I will always remember you as a hero, Vickie"
>>
>>1677589
For some reason, I keep picturing him as Joe Pesci. Don't ask me why, but I do.

>>1677582
I wasn't originally, but now I'm supporting that idea!
> Colors goes to find Forum.
> Vickie VS Rook. Go!

I wonder what character Vickie will choose? Yoshimitsu? Cervantes?
>>
>>1677592
>"I will always remember you as a hero, Vickie"
Supporting whatever gets that line used. :D
>>
Called, writing. Thank you for your patience.

>>1677589
>>1677650
The Rook was originally (and briefly) described in July at Christmas Quest:

> "Zippo!" You know that voice, furtive hiss or no.You stop and turn, and sure enough, it's the fucking Rook, standing up from the waiting bench.
> The little Wizened bastard is dressed sharp, as he always is, in black and orange, with just a faint bit of red (for Summer) and white (for Winter) trim on his jacket. You're pretty sure the jacket is actually a part of him. The headphones he's never seen without definitely are; he smashed them at a party once just to prove it and they were back on his head the moment anyone looked away from him.
> His eyes are flat, like screens, and they play a live feed of the annoyed look on your face.

The Rook is short (standing at four-nothing in the big steel-toed boots that are so popular with New Avalon's Lost population) and sleight, with wedge-pointed ears that stab out from under his perpetual headphones. His jacket glows faintly with fiber-optics that may or may not be changing with his moods; regardless, his chalky skin never seems to redden, tan, or burn. What was once a clear and strong voice has become a ragged rasp thick with liquid and punctured by regular coughing. He is missing his left eye, which stands open with strange electrical scabbing beneath the sliced-up lid (when he closes it a thin 'x' is visible, healed over with small copper stitching), and his hair tangles out from under his headphones, going anywhere but in the way of his gaze.

It is thought that the Rook doesn't openly display Spring colors despite his political ambitions because his obsessive support of Rimshot Arcade proves his respect for Desire without further action.
>>
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>>1677164
"Going once," the Rook offers. He stops to cough into the sleeve of his jacket. "Going twice." The men and women gathered around look at each other, each person clearly unwilling to be the next one in this line. "Final offer," the Rook rasps. "My pot against your stake."

"You should play him," you suggest to Vickie. "What do you have to lose?"

"I mean, my dignity?" the Darkling says, looking at you with a curious expression.

"After he just beat all of them?" you point out.

"...I've never played this game."

You shrug. "So he wins a few bucks off of you and you made him a little happier. And I, for one, will always remember you as a hero."

Vickie makes a thoughtful face - her lips go all sideways, like she's gonna spit something that-a-way - and then she nods. "Fuck it, sure. Hey Rook, I'm in!"

The Rook looks past the gamers with a brief expression of actual surprise. "I didn't know you played," he admits.

"I don't," comes Vickie's shrug. "But what the hell, you know?"

The small Wizened shakes his head. "I won't just take your money, Vickie. There's no point in playing unfairly. But if you'll take my winnings from the top of the cabinet, I'd be happy to teach you. I don't think there are any other takers."

Everyone in the crowd gives each other the time-honored 'You First, Dude' look. Vickie chuckles and takes the pile of bills from the top of the machine; the Rook counts them before making them vanish into one of his many pockets.

The Rook feeds the machine, and Vickie follows suit. The machine announces Kilik as his selection. "Pick anyone and we'll go over the basics first. Have you played this genre before?"

"...Mortal Kombat," Vickie says, after a moment. "The first one. It came out when I was a kid." She sighs. "I'm really new."

"We were all new, once," the Rook rasps, with surprising compassion.

After some deliberation, Vickie settles on a knightly character named Hilde, and at the point where you start thinking 'damn that knight girl is cute' you check out of watching this and go looking for Forum.

You wouldn't think a seven foot literal troll would be hard to find, but you're at it for nearly ten minutes in this arcade before you finally spot him in the food court, with his laptop on the table in front of him. Forum types away, a look of concentration on his face. You've seen this scene before; the meme that eventually drove him out of Autumn started with a picture like this, while he was posting to some messageboard or other. Literal Forum Troll, they called it, and after that he was laughed out of the Court of Fear in disgrace.

He doesn't seem to have noticed the guy filming him with a cellphone, from behind a cabinet for a light gun shooter.

> Play it casual; approach with food and talk to Forum
> Make your way around to the asshole and teach him a lesson
> Discreetly let Forum know about the man filming him
> Write-in?
>>
>>1678927
>Discreetly let Forum know about the man filming him
"Want me to...repair his phone screen?"
>>
>>1678927
>> Discreetly let Forum know about the man filming him
>>
>>1678927
> Make your way around to the asshole and teach him a lesson
>>
>>1678927
>Play it casual and block the view of the peeper at the table with the excuse of food, who doesn't like food?
>>
>>1678927
>Discreetly let Forum know about the man filming him
>See if you can use your glass-powers to point the camera in a different direction. Try not to break it; magical crime is now legally considered crime apparently.
>>
>>1678927
>Discreetly let Forum know about the man filming him
>>
>>1678927
> Discreetly let Forum know about the man filming him
>>
>>1678927
>Discreetly let Forum know about the man filming him.
>>
I'm alive. Will call and write shortly.
>>
And called, writing.
>>
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>>1678927
You circle around a set of games and approach from an angle to block the guy filming. Forum looks up when he hears the rustle of your mail (the armor is bright in the light-slashed darkness of the arcade, competing with the cabinets and flashing bulbs for attention) and does not flinch when you gently lay a hand on his shoulder.

"You've got a gentleman filming you," you tell him, sotto voce. "Would you care for some assistance with that?"

Forum shakes his head. You remove your hand as he starts to stretch. There is a swirl of snow through his Mantle that makes the air sharp and crisp. You hear the phone clatter to the floor, and the man filming emits a choked sob. You look just in time to see the would-be snoop go back around the cabinet and sink to his knees, trying to hold back his tears and failing entirely.

"What did you do to him?" you ask.

"I made him remember his sorrow," Forum says with a shrug. "He seemed intent on digging up mine. You hungry?"

"I could eat," you agree. On Forum's suggestion you get a bowl of the loaded nachos and take a seat with them across from the massive Troll. He's right; the nachos are delicious, with just the right amount of jalapenos in the cheese. "So I see the Rook is unwinding?"

"He needs it," Forum says with a shrug. "You looking for a report?"

> Yeah? It'd be nice to get Forum's impressions without the Rook there
> Nah, just shootin' the shit (propose a topic)
>>
>>1680295
>> Yeah? It'd be nice to get Forum's impressions without the Rook there
> But only briefly, a quick summary. Save the details for when everyone's here.
>>
>>1680295
>Yeah? It'd be nice to get Forum's impressions without the Rook there
>>But only briefly, a quick summary. Save the details for when everyone's here.
>>
>>1680295
>>> Yeah? It'd be nice to get Forum's impressions without the Rook there
>> But only briefly, a quick summary. Save the details for when everyone's here.
>>
Called, writing.
>>
>>1680295
You shrug. "I can take a summary, sure. Nothing in-depth without the others."

Forum makes a complicated shrug. "We came in expecting to just be crossing it off of the list. That's not what ended up happening. Did you know we have groupies?"

"Yes," you confirm, managing to take the hot blush trying to form on your cheeks and throttle it to death.

"Some bright bulb is running Carrol House as a brothel for our groupies."

You put your head on the table and groan.

"The Rook wasn't too pleased with it. Now, the Rook doesn't seem to be pleased with anything, ever, but he was pretty especially pissed to get hit on. And it's not like the girl in question was unattractive or anything," Forum adds. "She giggles and asks if he's on the shift, and the Rook, he touches her skirt and freezes it in fucking time. She's probably still there, trying to get out of it, but nobody can touch or affect the thing until sunrise. Dude was pissed beyond belief. Security staff made us leave, and we had to break in the back door."

You look at Forum in disbelief.

"...Should I have stopped him?" the Troll asks, uncomfortably.

> Yes. Duh. Why the fuck did you permit that?
> No, you made the right call. United front.
> It's the Rook's business. We've all got our own damage
> Write-in?
>>
>>1681369
>> It's the Rook's business. We've all got our own damage
>>
>>1681369
> It's the Rook's business. We've all got our own damage
On the one hand that was a serious overreaction to a simple comment. A really dumb, insensitive comment, but a comment nonetheless.

On the other hand, getting judgmental about blowing up at humans being dumb would be kind of hypocritical after what we said to Fancy.
I'm inclined to just give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
>>
>>1681369
> It's the Rook's business. We've all got our own damage.

Basically >>1681474. Wasn't good that it happened, but if Troll'd tried to call Rook on it the situation would only have gotten worse.
>>
>>1681369
> It's the Rook's business. We've all got our own damage

There was no real harm done, and considering our problems we're likely to be understanding here.
>>
>>1681369
>> It's the Rook's business. We've all got our own damage
>On the one hand that was a serious overreaction to a simple comment. A really dumb, insensitive comment, but a comment nonetheless.
>On the other hand, getting judgmental about blowing up at humans being dumb would be kind of hypocritical after what we said to Fancy.
>I'm inclined to just give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
>>
>>1681369
>It's the Rook's business. We've all got our own damage.
Could have been a whole lot worse I guess?
>>
>>1681369
> It's the Rook's business. We've all got our own damage
Write-in: I'll talk to him about that, feelings are okay but we can't put the mission in jeopardy.
>>
>>1681369
>> No, you made the right call. United front.
>>
Called, writing. Thank you for your patience.
>>
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>>1681369
You finally sigh. "No, that's on the Rook. We all have our own struggles and we handle them different ways. He's Autumn, he's /meant/ to scare people, and...well, if how he goes about it is wrong in this new context that has to be between him and the monarch, or him and his Court."

Forum nods and there is a comfortable silence between the two of you while you finish your nachos and he finishes...whatever he's doing.

Actually, what is he doing?

"Can I ask what you're writing?" you say. In answer, Forum turns the laptop. You know the word for this, it's...there's text with images, no one seems to have any names, you know this one Colors.

Image board?

Forum takes pity on you after a moment. "It's a board for and about us. Changelings, that is. After this site's politics and news boards flooded with us they broke the topic off into its own board to contain the discussion. I lurk, mainly, reading without posting, but every now and again I step in to...correct things."

"How do they know you're one of us?"

"They don't," Forum admits. "But my Court's job is disinformation, so..."

"Huh. And people read this?"

"When were you taken?"

You let out a long breath. "Summer of '89. I was fourteen. Left the Fairest of Lands as a young adult. Time's...weird...there, but I came back in 2001. August of 2001."

"Ooof. Just before Autumn got that big spike of power from -"

"Yeah, just before that. Anyway, I missed pretty much the entire internet as a thing. I got Natalia to show me how to use Etsy to sell my art but that's about the extent of my power there."

"I can teach you sometime, if you like. There's things to know to stay safe, but it can be...I've made friends I never would have even met in real life. Helped some folks out, gotten help in a bind. Learned things, taught things. Y'know?"

"I'll keep it in mind," you agree. "Let's go get the others."

The crowd has dispersed from around the Soul Calibur machine, though a pair of people are still taking notes.

"How do you know all these moves?" Vickie is asking. "You don't just memorize - you do, don't you?"

"Memorization is part of it. So is practice," the Rook agrees. "You're learning well. It helps that you actually fight, I think. I have a friend who studies the katana in his spare time. He picked up Mitsurugi that way."

"Really?"

"Don't get too excited, not everyone here is that well-researched. And it's still a game."

You clear your throat. On-screen, the giant the Rook is controlling parries a blow from some kind of (undead?) pirate, grabs him, and begins a chain of brutal grapples and throws.

"We'll cover escaping throws next time," the Rook rasps. "We need to convene. I have an office key, Colors."

> Give your report first
> Get the Rook's report

Sorry for the short update I kinda had to scramble to get this out before work
>>
>>1682888
>Give your report first
I am both relieved and slightly worried that both pair uncovered things I wasn't expecting at all.
>>
> Give your report first
Given what happened to Rook, it seems wise to give our report first so we can have a clear-minded conversation before breaching the topic of Carrol House. Admittedly the thing with Fancy going to Wonderland was bad to us, but Rook's sounds like it was something personal.
>>
>>1682888
> Give your report first
>>
>>1682888
>> Give your report first
>>
>>1682888
>> Give your report first
>>
Called, writing.
>>
>>1682888
The four of you slip into the back areas of the Arcade; the Rook takes a set of keys from his jacket pocket and opens an office up. You don't know what you were expecting, but it wasn't this; the space is shockingly mundane, with two chairs in front of a small desk that has a third chair behind it. The small Wizened turns off the computer monitor and gestures at the chair behind the desk; you take a seat in it while Forum closes the door. The Troll leans against the door, giving up the two chairs to Vickie and the Rook, which is honestly just as well; they look like he'd break them.

"Vickie and I went to go see the white rabbit I know, a dancer named Fancy," you begin. "What we found was the local Gildspinner, Venus Kennedy, plying her trade for mortals. After being pressed, Kennedy admitted to recruiting 'soldiers' for a third party of Lost who have enjoined her secrecy."

The Rook whistles. "That sounds bad. Four, five years back there was a militia in DC that pulled that same kinda stunt, the Red Badges. They were bastards, recruited cross-Court, tricked people into Pledges. They caught wind of some exiled Other in the Hedge and went after it with fifty, sixty mortals and a dozen Lost. Three people made it back home, one of whom turned out to be a Fetch, and the Freehold over there hunted the other ones down and put them to the sword. Every last one."

"That seems harsh," Vickie says uncomfortably.

"It was that or force them to break their oaths," Forum says with a shrug. "...And frankly, I agree with it. That was the right call for everyone's safety."

"Right or wrong, it was the call they made. They purged the District of Columbia of Red Badge members and got King Leo to turn over ours. They died too." The Rook's face has absolutely no remorse in it. "We declined to receive the bodies. I'm told they were traded to a Goblin Market."

"That's fucking sick." Vickie shakes her head and scoots her chair away from the Rook. The Wizened just shrugs.

"Militia are bad news," you say in a low tone. "They're delusional extremists, and if Venus is helping to fund or recruit for one, she is going to be in deep shit. I'd rather she not be, because she's valuable to the Freehold, but that's on her, not me. But it actually gets worse. Fancy paid a mysterious motley to give her a tour of part of the Hedge."

The Rook accepts the information with grim stoicism; you can almost feel him socking away his rage for later use. Forum swears freely, though under his breath. You run over Fancy's testimony about the group, paying particular attention to the mention of 'the wing'.

"That sounds weirdly familiar to me," Forum muses. "...Where the fuck have I heard that before. I think I know from who. Gimme three, four hours and I think I can dig up more on this Wing, boss lady."

"Someone should stick with you," Vickie says.

"You," the Rook says. "I'd like to accompany Colors."

"Shouldn't you give your report?" you ask.
>>
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>>1685997
"There's nothing to report," the Rook snarls. "Certainly nothing that needs airing out in front of everyone. I can give it in private if you insist on -"

A ragged bout of coughing interrupts the Rook; he clutches the desk for support and coughs into his shoulder. Blood flecks his white jacket while he heaves for air.

"...I would like some privacy with you in any event," the Rook continues in a hoarse voice.

"Are you okay?" you ask in a concerned voice.

"I'll live."

> Let Forum and Vickie follow up
> Keep the group together

AND

> Insist on hearing the Rook's report
> Let the Rook keep his secrets
>>
And now surprising no one, I'm going to crawl into bed and fucking die. I gotta Prevent Homelessness tomorrow but other than that my day is free; I'll update as much as I can. Votes, obviously, remain open.

Questions, comments, discussion, feedback, and criticisms remain welcome and appreciated.

Thank you all for reading and participating!

If anyone has more Changeling or Changeling-adjacent images I am hard up on shit to expand my folder with.
>>
>>1686011
> Let Forum and Vickie follow up
> Insist on hearing the Rook's report
>>
>>1686011
> Let Forum and Vickie follow up
> Insist on hearing the Rook's report
I find the Rook to be a strange character...
On one side, the past sessions in this universe really have established him as a power-hungry asshole willing to use trickery and deceit to get what he wants but on the other hand you've got stuff like ""We'll cover escaping throws next time," the Rook rasps" where he seems to exhibit a degree of hidden depth.
I look forward to the character being more developped throughout the adventure.
>>
>>1686102
He may have mellowed out after what happened, and most to all people tend to have something of a good side. Rook is definitely an interesting fellow, though.
>>
>>1686011
>Let Forum and Vickie follow up
>Let the Rook keep his secrets

We already heard about it from forum, no need rehashing it.
>>
>>1686011
>Let Forum and Vickie follow up
>Insist on hearing the Rook's report
>In return we can share how we snapped at Fancy, I feel like we have some common ground here.
>>
>>1686194
Support
>>
>>1686194
Supporting
>>
I'm here to day drink and update and I just got applejack. Called, writing.
>>
>>1686781
Nice!
>>
>>1686781
Sounds like you're all out of bubblegum, too.
>>
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>>1686011
You look at the Rook, whose jacket colors back in to its usual orange-and-black with trim (why did it turn white during his coughing fit?), then look up to Forum while the Autumn Courtier discreetly wipes his blood from the leather. "Go ahead, just stay in touch," you tell him. "Vickie will go with you. We've started making moves, which means whoever we're after may be on alert. I don't like fighting in the dark."

"Of course not. That's our job," Forum chuckles. Vickie seems all too happy to get away from the Rook; she shoots you a worried look, which you return with a subtle shake of your head. The Darkling sighs and slips out of the room.

"I lost my shit on Fancy," you admit, once the door is shut. "I was so scared. So angry, you -"

"Spare me the peace offering," the Rook snaps. "I don't need to be talked down to like some stripling churl. If you want my report, ask for it."

You stand, slowly, and put a hand on the desk. "If we have a problem, I'd prefer you just say it," you warn in a low tone.

The Rook meets your gaze, then looks down at the table after a moment. "We don't," he says at last. "Please forgive me."

"You don't have to roll over and bare your throat for me, Rook. I'm not trying to attack you," you say, with gentle respect. "I appreciate the work you do for the Freehold and respect your achievements. Even now, at the lowest point of your power, you're a figure in your Court and entrusted with vital works. That doesn't happen for no reason."

That untrusting gaze goes back to your face; you can see your eyes reflected in his own as he searches you for signs of treachery. Finally, he sighs. "...Carrol House was...difficult...for me. I do not like Pixie Chasers, Colors. They are an affront, and the more because I know that I am ugly and hateful." The Rook lets out a ragged cough; he spits into the room's lonely trash can. "They don't care about me, or you, or anyone else. They see something magic and they want it to serve and pleasure them. I did my time before that mast, and I refuse to be demeaned and insulted like that ever again. I am not a toy to be played with or a concubine for the pleasure of fools lusting after what they do not understand."

"So you trapped a woman in time?" you ask.

"She wanted a little magic in her life. I gave it some. If it wasn't to her liking, so much the better." The Rook ruffles a stack of papers on the desk. "Do you want my report or my justifications?"

"The report," you say with a sigh. "What'd you find after you and Forum broke in?"

"Not much that was blatant, but then we'd need several days to case the joint properly," the Rook admits. "Several of the younger members of the Freehold work there. I talked with four of them; they pay their tithes, and are violating none of our laws. Mortal laws are another matter. But I tell you this, there's a Hedge Gate in there somewhere."

"And you know this because...?"
>>
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>>1687053
"Because I won the power to sense them off of a hobgoblin who thought cheating could let him beat me," comes the Wizened's answer; he gives you a savage grin. "He's still paying the forfeit on that particular game. I wouldn't mark Carrol House off yet, Dame Colors. I would prefer, in fact, to go back at some point and find where the gate lets out."

You nod. "What had you wanted to talk to me about?"

"...The Winter Court has an interesting belief system about the Courts and their roles," the Rook begins. "They believe that in any mixed-Court group, each Court should be given deference in its speciality. That is, if the mission calls for stealth, you listen to the Winter member. If it calls for an assault, you defer to Summer, and so forth. I am not suggesting that for this arrangement, not in its entirety, but I would ask that you..." he trails off.

"Take your time," you invite. "...I, too, have had moments where English fails me."

"Heh. One thing our Seemings have in common." The Rook frowns. "You said it yourself. I am at the low point of my power. I have been disgraced in my own Court and cowed beneath the fury of Reeds and her ally, Zippo. To complete my public humiliation and failure, I have now been denied the crown that I worked so hard for. You say that what I have left is a testament to my craft, but I do not agree. That victory should have been my own, and I was cheated of it. So I ask that you give me the opportunity to defend myself if it comes down to that. Don't step in until your oath would compel you to; let me stand or fall on my own. My reputation has been sullied, and I need to get it back."

> Agree
> Refuse

AND

> Go back to Carrol House with the Rook
> Investigate the Old Docks with the Rook
>>
>>1687115
>Go back to Carrol House with the Rook
> Agree
>>
>>1687115
>Fine. I can understand that. But it doesn't need to lead to death if it comes down to it, there is no shame in asking for help. There is always another path.

>Investigate the Old Docks with the Rook
If we're going to head into the hedge, we should go ready for a fight.
>>
Slow night. If I don't have a tiebreaker by 11:30 EST I'ma call it myself.
>>
>>1687115
> Agree
> Go back to Carrol House with the Rook
>>
>>1687115
> Refuse
He wasn't cheated, he simply rolled the dice and got burned, and there is a lot more at stake here than his reputation.

> Investigate the Old Docks with the Rook
Thus far, 2 of 2 places we've checked have turned out to have something sinister going on. Wonder what's going on there.
>>
>>1687115
> Agree, but only up to a point.
> Investigate the Old Docks with the Rook.
> Share what Ms. Miller told you about her dreams of hawks.
>>
>>1687115
>Agree
>Investigate the Old Docks
>>
Called, writing.
>>
And I just lost my ENTIRE FUCKING UPDATE to a computer crash. Backup didn't save either.

Fuck it, gonna write in the morning. I'm very sorry.
>>
>>1688578
Are you sure your eldritch rituals of unfathomable necromantic power haven't attracted the attention of predatory entity of infernal origins?

Alternatively, you need to get a new PC. I for one would be willing to throw money at you.

...And no, you do not need to strip. Unless you want to, you most lewd of skeletons.
>>
>>1687115
> Refuse
> Investigate the Old Docks with the Rook
Rook wasn't cheated.




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