Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Monday, 27 June 2011
New Immortals trailer heralds the hairless, greased up war of the Gods [Video]
IO9 | JUNE 27, 2011
Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE
Disclaimer: Kris gave me permission to post this ;)
I know not everyone is as into writing bluebooks as I am, but if anyone IS interested in writing some stuff, I thought I’d throw in the idea of doing ‘collaborative bluebooking.’ It’s basically how I used to do online roleplay – two or more people writing a story or cut scene. One person [voicing the thoughts and actions of their character] writes a paragraph or so, and the other/s reply [not instantly… I used to leave days sometimes between getting back to fellow players] with a paragraph explaining the actions of their character. It’s a good way to expand upon existing storylines [or create new, minor ones] when we’re not playing a game, or in downtime. The nature of tabletop roleplay means that one-on-one scenes are often limited, mostly because of dice-rolling. Also for some [including me] it’s more difficult to physically roleplay their character in-game, and easier to write things from their perspective instead.
Just a thought – I understand that not everyone will have the time or inclination!
Friday, 24 June 2011
PART TWO!!!!!!!!!!! EVERY TIME YOU MASTURBATE, GOD KILLS A TRUE FAE!!!!!!!!! ...so go ahead.
RATED NC-17 for adult content. Warnings: slash [boy/boysex], femslash [girl/girlsex], het [girl/boysex], slightly squicky Changeling sex.
Madam Roseblood had left abruptly after her final words to Clio, and Clio finished her cigarette before wandering around the rest of the palazzo, feeling quite lost. It was a large place, and she recognised very few of the guests, so she had nothing better to do for a while than walk along, accepting drinks when offered. She made a stop in one of the glorious, marbled bathrooms, adjusting her hair and makeup – when she had washed her hands, she spied a bowl of what appeared to be some kind of hedge fruit next to the basin. Almost like cherries… but their colour was a lurid turquoise and they were sprinkled with something that looked like sugar. Clio probably sampled a few too many – within minutes she was feeling a little ill, the hallways around her seeming to shrink and grow with every step she took. She had to close her eyes, waiting for the strange bright ripples to fade from her field of vision.
An hour or so had passed, and she made her way back to the main hall. She was now less shaken by her encounter with Madam Roseblood, though she did want to mention it to Malvolio. She couldn’t see him anywhere as she entered the foyer, but the room was slowly becoming more populated again. The string quartet still played, and a few couples were beginning to dance. As Clio stood off to the side, a shadow fell in front of her, a hand extending to hers.
Mercutio, the Fairest that she had known intimately (if briefly) was also wearing green - dark green trousers, a white shirt with ruffles on the cuffs, and a green brocade waistcoat. “Clio. You’ll dance with me?”
“I don’t know this one,” she replied, even as Mercutio pulled her forward, slipping a hand around her waist.
“I don’t think anyone else does, either,” he said, a little mocking of the dancers around them that didn’t possess his skills. “I haven’t seen you since…” he trailed off, not needing to finish the sentence.
“I know. I’ve been fairly busy…”
“Yes, so I’ve heard.” He appeared good-natured in his remark, but it was obvious what he was alluding to.
Clio let him spin her gently, then spoke when she was facing him again. “Meaning?”
“Nothing,” he chuckled. “That reminds me, Malvolio told me he took some photographs of us together…” He leaned in a little closer, whispering. “I wouldn’t mind seeing those… if only for vanity’s sake.”
“Yes… he gave them to me. I don’t quite know why… he was just being provocative, I suppose. I expect he thought I would be ashamed, but I didn’t see why I should be. I’d forgotten about it, actually.”
Mercutio’s eyes widened. “You still have them, then?”
“Yes.” Clio had stuffed them into a drawer at her apartment, along with the rose that Malvolio had left next to them. She hadn’t really thought about why she had kept them all this time, or why indeed she’d kept the rose, which was now dead, the dry petals falling off. She certainly hadn’t taken the photos out to look at them, though whenever she saw them in the drawer she neglected to throw them away.
“And why’s that?” Mercutio grinned.
“As I said… I forgot about it.”
Mercutio looked crestfallen, but in a comical way. “Hurt my feelings, why don’t you,” he said blithely, twirling her around again. “I sincerely hope I wasn’t too disappointing… because I was going to request that you come upstairs with me. I hear Madam Roseblood will be entertaining up there in a while…”
After her earlier run-in with Roseblood, Clio did not want to be caught naked and at her mercy, no matter how many others were there. “No… thank you, I have a prior engagement,” she said, as courteously as possible.
“With the Duke?”
“Not necessarily,” Clio said, though she would likely feel more at ease in Malvolio’s presence.
“Well, you can always come and find us if you change your mind.” The song ended, and Mercutio gracefully left the dance-floor, disappearing up the staircase.
Feeling slightly awkward alone on the floor, Clio stuck to the side-lines, but the amount of guests in the hall was still few and far between. From within the closed doors and curtains surrounding her, she could catch salacious giggles, the clinking of wine glasses and illicit, lustful gasps. Unsure of who she might find – or more accurately, who she might wrongfully disturb – behind each partition, she had little choice but to go back to the room she was in before. Hopefully it would be empty, or at least Malvolio had returned there. When she reached the door, it was ajar, and one of the voices unmistakably belonged to Malvolio. Clio knocked twice before pushing on the door – she wasn’t sure of etiquette, but the door had been left open.
Malvolio was slouched on the day bed, shirtless with trousers undone – the Sage Escort, Blue Monday, was wedged next to him, mid-kiss, with a hand on his thigh. Clio couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy – not for his enjoyment of someone else’s company, but for the snowy beauty of Blue Monday. A beauty that was otherworldly, but still conformed to human standards. The Sage Escort was wearing nothing but a grey slip, cut extremely high on the leg. Her buxom breasts were very visible through the silk.
Malvolio and Blue Monday were not alone, though – Tybalt was standing at the now-open French windows, leaning against the railing and dropping cigarette ash into the water. The room seemed cold, and Clio couldn’t tell if it was due to the wintry climate outside or the presence of Blue Monday.
“Ciao,” Malvolio greeted Clio, then gestured. “Close the door.” He idly pushed Blue Monday’s hand from his leg, standing up to embrace Clio’s hips. “I was worried you’d gone home,” he declared, and Clio could see that his pupils were as dilated as her own now were. His usual flowery mien seemed touched by alcohol, sweat and Blue Monday’s sharp, biting frost.
“No, I’m here,” Clio smiled. Stating the obvious, but her brain was a little short on capacity – it felt like a mirror that had been steamed up.
“Perhaps we should have that dance, then?” Tybalt chimed in, having thrown his cigarette stub into the canal. He stalked towards her, but was interrupted by Blue Monday.
“Whatever happened to ‘ladies first’?” She said light-heartedly. She beckoned to Clio. “Don’t be shy, Clio. Come here and kiss me.” Her voice, with its thick Russian accent, carried a certain chill with it as well, but it was more relaxed than it had seemed two hours before.
Malvolio looked almost giddy at the idea, as he watched Clio step up to the day bed and bend down towards Blue Monday’s waiting mouth. Blue skin met blue skin, and Clio felt the strange reality of being stared at as she kissed
cold lips. Even threesomes had been scarce in Arcadia, except for with her Keepers – such was the sense of possession over her, and the need for her clients to have her completely, if only for an hour.
At the touch of Clio’s tongue, Blue Monday let out a soft, practised moan. It reminded Clio of the rehearsed sounds she used to make, exaggerating her own desire. She gingerly touched Blue Monday’s inner leg – she had experience with women, but she was acutely aware of her audience. In fact, they both were – Blue Monday’s gaze drifted across to the others, who were now each lounging on the rug. Malvolio sat, one knee bent, his eyes focused on the two women; Tybalt lay outstretched on his stomach, looking up.
Blue Monday’s hands found the zip fastening on Clio’s dress; brazenly, she forced it all the way down so that she was able to un-sheath the gown from her body. Clio had not replaced her underwear after her earlier rendezvous with Malvolio. She crouched in nothing but high heels, for a moment blinded by Blue Monday’s mien, before continuing the kiss, letting her fingers wander inquisitively. They ran along the outline of the Sage Escort’s slip, scrunching it upwards and feeling frozen, glistering flesh. Blue Monday did not object to this, instead arching her back and allowing Clio full access. From a slight distance Clio could hear movement from the men – they were closer together now, Malvolio absentmindedly caressing the nape of Tybalt’s neck. A distinguishable purring sound came somewhere from Tybalt’s chest, and he nuzzled at Malvolio’s mouth. Malvolio accepted the kiss, but kept his attention on the performance before him.
Clio had now moved to straddle Blue Monday’s hips, lifting the slip over her head to display the glory of her curves; again Clio felt that same envy, comparing their feminine aspects. If she squinted, Blue Monday’s body appeared much closer to a mortal woman’s than hers could ever be – it was not strewn with scales or deformed with webbed skin. It was just as she was thinking of this that Blue Monday’s mouth moved onto her throat, playfully flicking her tongue over the gill-like slits. Clio hissed, half in protest – she was not averse to anyone kissing her neck, but Blue Monday deftly struck her tongue into each gill, treating them as she would any orifice.
Malvolio had teased Tybalt onto his back, crawling on top of the smaller man and goading him to dig his claws in farther, deeper. He kept stealing glances back at the women – Clio writhing from the touch of Blue Monday’s tongue, pulling at her hair – as he fought back bites from his catlike paramour.
Blue Monday paused her delicious torture, giving Clio a chance to grind herself against her – but it was only a few moments before she was flipped over onto the day bed, and the ice maiden planted her head between her thighs. Clio was about to speak, but was hushed by Blue Monday’s finger over her mouth. Without warning, that chill tongue was swirling round her clitoris, making her squirm and buck her hips. She turned her head to see Malvolio, now nude, on his knees behind Tybalt, stripping down his trousers – fingers pinching the scruff of his neck, paralysing him. Tybalt felt the agonising first thrust of Malvolio’s cock as he was pushed down onto all fours.
Blue Monday kissed along the folds of Clio’s flesh, leaving her hands free to apply some relief to herself. She was quietly smug about her performance’s effect on the others – Tybalt was doubled over, grasping at the rug, Malvolio driving into him with relative ease. She could tell that Clio was close; the tension below growing tighter, but before it happened she heard Clio speak breathlessly. “You don’t want me to pleasure you?”
Blue Monday considered for a second. “Of course… if you like,” she said breezily, as though she didn’t hold out much hope for Clio’s pleasuring skills. Her tone touched a nerve with Clio – she sat up and shuffled closer, pressing her hands to Blue Monday’s hips. Blue Monday rose onto her knees, leaving her pubis level with Clio’s mouth.
Behind them Clio listened to Tybalt’s weakening growls as she traced her tongue around Blue Monday’s clitoris; she used her fingers to part the tight creases of skin that surrounded her opening. Feeling Malvolio’s eyes on her, she thrust two dry fingers inside, causing Blue Monday to cry out. Then, a slow flexing motion, and she could already feel her digits getting moist, drenched with Blue Monday’s juices. A minute or so passed, and Blue Monday’s orgasm came strongly and suddenly. She didn’t tremble as she opened her eyes afterwards; she was the pinnacle of poise, her statuesque form holding up against even the last waves of climax. Meanwhile, Malvolio and Tybalt had cut their union short, too engrossed in the show to continue. Malvolio’s hand grabbed at Clio’s, enticing her into a clinch – without a word, Blue Monday slipped off the day bed and crawled forward to take care of Tybalt.
Clio let Malvolio prise her legs apart, hardly giving her a moment’s notice before beginning to pump his cock recklessly to the hilt. She was distracted by Blue Monday in the background, clamping her mouth over Tybalt’s manhood – Malvolio grasped her chin, making her focus on him instead. He rasped something so throaty that she could barely catch it. It must have been something vulgar; he licked his lips. The sight of it pushed her over the edge, prompting him to stop holding back, and Clio felt the flood of his seed as his groans subsided.
The last thing she remembered afterwards was playing voyeur to Blue Monday and Tybalt; even then she could sense her eyes closing against her will.
Clio awoke, covered in a thin blanket, to see stinging sunshine, shining through the French windows and glancing off the canal. It seemed to be late morning. It took her a moment to realise that Malvolio was stood there, wearing some kind of kimono. He held a steaming cup of coffee in one hand, listening to the stirring sounds of life outside. The room was otherwise empty.
Hearing her shift, Malvolio turned to look at her. “Buon giorno.” There was a tray next to him on a table – another cup, a jug of coffee, a small container of milk. Clio slipped off the bed, twisting the blanket around her and clutching them like a towel, before padding across towards the coffee. Malvolio seemed to grin at her sense of modesty – but it had been almost instinctive to her. Perhaps it was because it was morning, but she didn’t feel like a whore parading herself for the pleasure of others. She held the blanket to her body with one hand, whilst pouring espresso with the other – luckily she was practiced at serving hot beverages, even when she was still half asleep. She tossed a splash of frothed milk into the cup, stirring the liquid then leaving it to cool.
“I hope you didn’t have work this morning,” he said wryly. “You may be running late.”
“No,” she shook her head. “Not until later.” A pause. “Where did the others go?”
“After you fell asleep, they stayed until sunrise, then I dismissed them,” he shrugged.
Clio bit her lip. “But you let me stay.”
“You were passed out, Clio. I’m hardly cruel enough to just put you outside,” Malvolio laughed.
“And if I’d been awake?”
“Well, there’s room for two on the bed, either way.”
Clio glanced downwards for a second. This did not help her at all, especially since members of the Spring Court appeared to pounce on any snippets of gossip that they could. She picked up her coffee cup and walked steadily ba
ck over to the bed. Seating herself on the edge of the mattress, she blew gently at the coffee’s surface and took a careful sip. “Did you to happen to see Madam Roseblood last night?”
“See her? Yes. She was here with me, before I met with you. So was Tybalt. I didn’t come across her for the rest of the evening, though. Why?”
Clio hesitated, not wanting to sound petulant, or as though she was telling a tale. “She had a word with me when I first left you. She seems to think I’ve become involved with you to… well, she thinks I have ulterior motives.”
Malvolio sipped at his coffee. “Do you?” He asked bluntly, if playfully. When Clio looked up at him, his eyebrow was raised.
“Of course not,” she answered, though she felt her cheeks glow a little red at the question, feeling guilty nonetheless.
He smirked. “Maybe you should.” At her look, he added, “I know what they’re saying about you; the rumours come back to me quicker than anyone else. The Spring Court thrives on ulterior motives. And Roseblood’s one of the worst for it. She’s just annoyed that she has yet another rival to compete against.”
Clio smiled a little, bitterly. “I didn’t want to be anyone’s rival.”
“Well, you’ll just have to accept that you are. Whatever you do here, it’s bound to ruffle a few feathers. Sometimes you just have to ignore… or better yet, aggrandise.” Malvolio set down his empty coffee cup. “Which is why I’d like you to accompany me to the Carnival ball.”
A moment passed where Clio wondered if he was being serious – but there was no humour in the sentence, just an airy statement of fact. “I don’t know if that’s the best idea,” she replied, putting it lightly.
“Why not?” He asked. “I was going to ask you anyway; now I’m even more certain.”
“But… I wouldn’t like to offend anyone,” said Clio, a little meekly.
He scoffed. “They’ll be offended, regardless. And if they ask, tell them you were obliged to accept my invitation.”
She blinked at him. “Am I obliged?”
“That’s up to you to interpret. I thought you enjoyed spending time with me.” A hint of emotional blackmail, but very difficult for Clio to detect.
“I do,” she confirmed.
“Good. Then it’s settled.” He walked over to the bed, perching next to her. “You know, the only way you’re going to survive in the Spring Court is to be a little less modest and a little more… audacious.” He lifted a hand to stroke the length of her hair. “You can come here on Wednesday and we’ll make final decisions on your masquerade costume. I trust you’re heeding my advice about the black.”
Clio nodded slowly, and let him continue to caress her red locks for a minute or so. “Before I forget… I’ve been thinking about returning the book. The Book of Names… to the House of Winter.”
He paused, considering this. “Why’s that?”
“As I mentioned to you… I don’t know if it’s what I want.” Those words rang true now, even if she had been exaggerating them the first time. “Or at least, that’s not the way I should go about it…”
“I understand. But I wouldn’t suggest you go back to the House of Winter, that’s far too dangerous. If you bring the book to me, I can get someone to take it there for you.”
She frowned. “It’s probably better for you to have them meet me at the Florian. I’ll give the book to them there.”
Malvolio smiled. “Why, don’t you trust me?”
“I was thinking more of your safety. But I do recall you having a vague interest in the book when I first acquired it. Am I wrong?” She flinched inwardly as she said it.
His eyes glistened. “No, you’re not wrong. Unfortunately I don’t think I’m ready to share all my secrets with you, Clio.” He kissed her on the lips before standing up to retreat back to the window. “More coffee?”
Thursday, 23 June 2011
Saturday, 18 June 2011
L.A. Noire is set in the post war 40s. The Holywood sign still reads Holywoodland. It is the golden age of cinema. L.A. is a city built about the automobile. There is the fear of Communists. And for the citizens of L.A. the murder of the Black Dhalia is still on the loose.
Into this city of crime and glamour the player takes on the role of Detective Phelps. Starting off on the street as a beat cop you progress to taking on cases on in Traffic crime, then Homicide, and onwards to Vice and Arson. Along the way you have to deal with the opinions of the day, be it sexism or racism, displayed by cops, partners on cases or from criminals. Fortunately, Phelps is of sound mind and liberal, moderate ideals, and so acts as an island of sense in the world. On this note, I feel that compared to some films that depict the genre, L.A. Noire lays it all on a bit too thick. While Sin City displays the same attitudes it does so knowing it is a pastiche, while L.A. Noire seems to present it as fact.
Of course, as to be expected, the city is wonderfully rendered, and one of the things I love is how the game has reinforced the role that you are playing. You can't just go about running people over, or shooting them as you would in GTA.
Of course the main focus of the game is the invesitgation of crime scenes. The manner in which this is done is by walking about, waiting for the telltale vibration to say a clue is nearby. Of course some of the objects that you can pick up are in fact just read herrings. Once a clue is piked up, by moving it about you can look for further information. In a similar manner the bodies can be investigated. It is at this point I have to mention that while there is nothing inherently bad about investigating the bodies, I feel that it would have been better to remove the shock factor and have the bodies shown with a sheet covering them.
With clues collected the next major factor in the game is the interviewing of suspects. This is where L.A. Noire shows its main feature, the amazing rendering of faces the actors. With the level of detail captured you are able to look for the changes in attitude as the questioning progresses, allowing you determine whether the suspect is telling the truth, holding back something, or lying. Of course acqusations of lying requires evidence to back this up.
Added to all this are side missions such as stopping bank robberies, gun men, car heists, and so there are some shoot outs that make use of cover in a manner more like modern over the shoulder fps like Gears of War.
My main gripes so far has really been the amount of deaths that have just been women. I understand that they are try to give a certain vibe to the game, but I don't see why the Homicide desk case could not have be a bit more broken up. Plus more positive women characters in the game would be a bonus, rather than the femme fatal, the whore, the nosey old lady. it would have just eased my resentment for the Homicide desk and the Rusty character. Perhaps cutscenes are a bit long, but then I have to say I find the game rather relaxing to play.
So overall a few faults but a game that rewards careful thinking. I'd be happy to see the same style used for a different time period, and perhaps has a more positive equality (hey how about a female lead detective next time during the 70s).
Friday, 17 June 2011
I will not be stopped. Advance apologies for the sex, it's not that bad, you can deal, etc etc. CALM DOWN CHILDREN.
RATED NC-17 for adult content. NSFW sex scene. Moderate bitchiness. Part two to follow sometime next week.
Clio’s reflection looked back at her from the small bathroom mirror in her apartment. She was swathed in her green, ankle-length satin dress – the only formal item she owned that wasn’t plain black. After Malvolio’s gentle reprimand about her monochrome wardrobe, she felt the need to look less like her usual self, even if she had worn the green dress many times before. Her long hair was half-pinned up with cheap hair grips; she had taken a break from fixing it due to aching arms. She’d done her eyes up in chocolate brown and gold, and her lips were a silky peach. A pair of discarded false eyelashes lay on the edge of the sink – she had found them at the pharmacy, but was clumsy and failed with gluing them on. She didn’t understand them, anyway, and in fact barely understood the cosmetics aisle as a whole. It was a marked difference to kohl and rouge.
Flexing her wrists, Clio reached up to secure the rest of her hair, twisting it into makeshift ringlets atop her head. She’d only worked until 9pm tonight, leaving her plenty of time to return home and make herself look presentable for the party. Now it was nearing one – extreme punctuality would have caused her embarrassment, she was sure – and as she took a last glance into the mirror, she went to grab her coat.
The streets were not yet filled with tourists – it was still winter, but not yet Carnevale, so the people she passed on the way to the House of Spring were mostly locals and visitors who obviously wanted to avoid the most popular seasons. When she arrived, she was met at the door by a woman who, like herself, also had a hint of blue to her skin – but where Clio’s was smooth and silk-like, Blue Monday’s seemed touched by a patina of frost. The Sage Escort's hair was indigo-coloured, her eyes a misty white.
“Clio,” she greeted, with a cursory glance over Clio’s hair and makeup. “I wasn’t expecting to see you here tonight.”
“Malvolio asked me to attend,” Clio replied, stepping into the foyer as Blue Monday allowed her to pass by.
“Oh? He didn’t mention that.” Her tone was just level enough not to sound patronising, but there wasn’t any warmth there, either. “Not that it matters, I suppose… I just assumed he would have said something, since you don’t usually come along…” A short pause, as though Blue Monday was thinking, and she looked away from Clio for a split second. “You’re still welcome, of course.” Again, no evidence of welcome in her voice. Then she was distracted, as more guests were at the door. She waved Clio towards a room on the left - “Someone will take your coat,’ and then turned to the new arrivals.
After Clio had exited the cloakroom, she wandered back into the foyer where the bulk of the party was taking place. It was a typical Spring event – fresh flowers everywhere, lining the border of the room and winding round the rails of the staircases. The main hall was well-lit, a string quartet in the corner. There were only drinks and canapes here – Clio knew that the stronger substances would be partaken of in the surrounding rooms. She walked rather awkwardly through the foyer for a few minutes, completely aware that everyone seemed to be locked in private conversations. She wasn’t really surprised – she only knew a handful of people in the Court of Spring, and she wouldn’t describe them as friends. Though, who would she describe as a friend? Her workmates at the Florian? They were nice people, and she was talkative with them when on a shift – but she had never seen them in a non-work context. Then there was her motley, and she could never remember meeting with them when it wasn’t a dire situation.
As Clio stood on the perimeter of the room with a drink, she heard a door click a few feet away, and the sound of laughter as a number of people appeared. Amongst the ones she recognised were Tybalt and Madam Roseblood, the latter of whom sauntered back into the crowd. Tybalt instead surveyed the room, catching Clio’s eye – he weaved his way between the guests to reach her.
“Hello, Clio,” he said. No matter how pleasant the salutation, it always seemed a little sly coming from his feline mouth.
“You look nice. Maybe we’ll have a… dance… later.” He smiled, showing pointed, catlike teeth. Clio wondered whether it was coincidence, or if he was referring to her dalliance with the Fairest Dancer, Mercutio, a few months back. Either way, his words were rife with suggestion. He added, “Malvolio wants to see you.”
“Now?” For some reason, Clio had imagined that Malvolio wouldn’t show his face until much later in the evening.
“Yes, now,” Tybalt replied, slightly amused, as though he knew something she didn’t. “Follow me.” He turned on his heel, stepping back towards the smaller room he’d just come out of, with Clio in tow. He knocked twice, then pushed the door, gesturing for Clio to go inside.
The door shut behind her as Clio glanced around the space. It seemed to be some sort of drawing room, with a day bed, a coffee table, a large bookcase. It was decorated in forest green, and the low light made it seem darker than it was. Malvolio had been buttoning his shirt – it was pale blue, and worn with navy trousers - but he turned as soon as he heard the door close, seemingly unfazed by the fact that he was not properly dressed.
“Mia cara,” he said, casting an approving eye over Clio as he walked over. He leaned in to kiss her on the cheek as he had done a few days before. Then he drew back, but lingered for a moment afterwards, clearly waiting for Clio to return the gesture. Her lips softly grazed the pallor of his face, leaving a very faint trace of peach lipstick behind.
“You’re not ready yet,” Clio summised, noting the half-fastened shirt.
Malvolio laughed a little. “It’s just a little early… Blue Monday tries her best, but her parties rarely get interesting until much later. In the meantime, I like to create my own entertainment.” He briefly examined Clio’s drink, pulling a small pink sachet from his pocket. He tore it open carefully, making a tiny slit in the paper, before dropping its entire contents into Clio’s glass. The powder from the sachet was also pink, and it survived a second or two in the lime-coloured liquid before dissolving. Malvolio reached down to the coffee table where he’d set his own drink – he picked it up, swirling the fluid around a little. He held it out to Clio, clinking both their glasses together.
“Entertainment?” She echoed, lifting her glass slowly to sip from it. She was pleasantly surprised that the drug did not affect the taste of the alcohol, but it did make her feel instantly intoxicated, as though she was verging on four or five cocktails. She blinked as the room appeared to shudder in front of her; tiny lights seemed to materialise and then vanish. Everything blended into soft focus.
He smiled. “Pleasure is an interesting concept, don’t you think? Especially here.” He turn
ed away from her, beginning to idly pace the room. “We encourage it and endorse it, we want everyone to experience more of it.” He paused. “But pleasure is still ultimately a mercenary thing.” Swallowing the remainder of his drink, he returned the empty glass to the table, and looked at Clio. “It’s funny… I spent so long waiting for you to share yourself with the Court, and now I want to keep you for myself.”
Clio felt her cheeks flush a little; she glanced down at her drink.
“I won’t, of course.” Malvolio added, moving back towards her. “That’s not to say I don’t intend to be selfish once in a while.” He trailed his palm across the satin of her dress, along her stomach and just above her hips. “I see you’re not wearing black tonight.”
She watched his gaze travelling from her breasts and up to her face. “I wanted to try being someone different.” It sounded odd even to her – could it really be that different? She knew what would happen now, she knew what these parties entailed – and she’d never wanted to feel exploited again, or coerced into acts that she felt obliged to perform. But this wasn’t the same as Arcadia, with her Keepers breathing down her neck. She admitted to herself, standing here in front of Malvolio, that pleasure had been a welcome side effect of trying to find out his secrets. Regardless of her lack of success thus far.
Malvolio teased the glass from her hand – when she didn’t object, he drank the rest himself and set the glass down. “Different… ?” He mused, running his hands over the straps of her gown and pulling them from her shoulders. He wasn’t really looking for an answer – he caught her lips in a kiss, unrelenting and wanton. Clio reached out to his arms to steady herself, twisting and creasing the fabric of his well-pressed sleeves; he tugged down again on her straps, revealing the nude shell of a bra underneath. “You don’t need this,” he smiled wickedly, releasing the hook at the back and putting her scale-coated breasts on full show. “Or these,” he continued, tracing the edge of her underwear through the thin material of the gown. He paused a moment, his eyes locked with hers and his chest pressed heavy against her exposed flesh, before grasping at the seam of her skirt, bunching the satin together and sliding a hand up her silver-blue thigh. He forced down the briefs, leaving them abandoned on the floor. Clio’s hands were inside his shirt, fingertips raking against white and violet skin, as he crushed her to the wall.
She could feel the solid mass at his crotch as he pulled away from her kiss; he slipped two fingers into his mouth, his expression sinful and bold. He suckled on her earlobe, gripped a breast in his other hand, as he plunged both digits inside her. The lack of apprehension in his strokes made Clio ache - she thrust her tongue back into his velvety mouth, relishing its sweet taste. Malvolio’s breaths grew harsh and laboured; he removed his hand from Clio’s dampened entrance and tore impatiently at the buttons of his trousers. Clio didn’t see his next move, only felt it as he keenly struck into her wetness. He held himself there, allowing her to sense his full length, before beginning to thrust methodically. His hand tangled into scarlet hair, and the hair grips came loose as he whispered filthy sentiments against her neck. The drug was still racing through Clio’s system, heightening everything – Malvolio’s body felt searing hot to the touch, and his gnawing on her throat seemed like it was breaking the skin. She wrapped her right leg around his waist, taking a moment to yank his head back and stare into the shining green of his eyes – he grinned at her forcefulness, increasing the pace and depth. Just as the friction began to grow unbearable, Clio’s muscles spasmed tightly, and she felt him slam her shoulders back into the wall as he climaxed hard.
Almost immediately Clio began to feel sore – the substance hadn’t worn off yet, but it only served to amplify the rawness of nerve endings. She let Malvolio step away, and stood supporting her limbs on the wall, breathless as he tidied himself.
When they walked out of the room together, looking a little worse for wear, Malvolio kissed Clio gallantly on the hand, throwing her a lingering glance, then ushering himself off into the throng of guests. If Clio had not watched him go, she would have noticed Madam Roseblood on the other side of the room, eyeing her with interest.
The party was getting more lively now, with people disappearing into neighbouring rooms and behind drapes. Clio managed to find a stack of cigarettes that seemed to only be tobacco, and she let the attendant light her one before wandering to the back doors of the palazzo. They were open, the cold mist of the lagoon gently seeping in, with the canal lapping quietly below. This part of the building had been busy earlier, but now it was empty. Clio stood with her cigarette, listening to the muffled sounds of music and laughter.
“Ciao, Clio.” The voice startled her suddenly, and Clio turned to see it belonged to the slender and pale figure of Madam Roseblood. From what Clio could recall, they had only met once or twice in passing.
“Ciao,” Clio replied, suddenly self-conscious of her state of disarray. She brushed back an unkempt strand of hair.
Madam Roseblood’s gaze was scathing; she looked pointedly at Clio’s smudged mascara and swollen, kiss-ridden mouth. “Enjoy yourself with Malvolio?” Her tone was icy.
Clio’s eyes narrowed, disliking the air of animosity. “…Yes,” she said carefully. “Why?”
“Just curious. It seems such a sudden change for you… a few weeks ago I’d hardly ever seen you here, and now you’re quite a regular visitor. Especially to Malvolio’s chambers. If you don’t mind me being blunt.” It was clear Madam Roseblood didn’t care what Clio minded.
Clio scoffed. “I’ve spent a very small amount of time with him.”
Madam Roseblood smiled, but not kindly. “But moreso, since he became the new Duke.”
Clio felt a cold dread in her stomach at the mild accusation, but it was clouded by her need to be defensive. “I’ll have you know that Malvolio has paid an interest in me, not the other way around.” She wanted to backtrack her words when she heard them out loud, spiteful and malicious.
“Is that so?” Roseblood mused, folding her arms.
“What does it matter to you, anyway?” Clio turned away from her slightly, inhaling smoke from her cigarette. She heard footsteps behind her as Roseblood came closer.
“Some of us have spent a lot of time and effort making our name in the Spring Court,” Roseblood said darkly. “Do you really think we’re going to sit back and watch someone like you get all the attention?”
Clio couldn’t help but laugh. “Attention? If Malvolio likes my company, that’s his prerogative.”
Roseblood pursed her lips. “But you’re foolish to accept his invitations blindly. Did you assume people wouldn’t talk?”
Clio shook her head, thinking. Surely she hadn’t caused that much of a stir… “I told you, I’m not…”
Roseblood’s eyes were challenging. “Then what else is there? Don’t tell me you feel affection for him, or something ludicrous like that.” The very idea caused Roseblood to smirk cruelly.
“No,” Clio countered. “Why would I?”
“I’d feel sorry for you, if you did.” Roseblood placed a hand on Clio’s shoulder, crimson fingernails seeming s
harp and predatory. “You may be his little favourite now, but soon enough he’ll find a new plaything and completely discard you.”
Clio took this in momentarily, then made a mockingly sympathetic face. “Oh, is that what he did to you?” The venom in her words was palpable, and surprising even to Clio.
There was a split second where Roseblood looked stricken; her face flickered to angry, and then settled again. Her words were slow and considered. “…You think I care about Malvolio? I have a list of lovers that would rival even his.” A pause before she struck with more poison. “And mine doesn’t include hideous Elementals.” She hissed the last two words into Clio’s ear, and then stepped back, hearing voices approaching. “Enjoy your upward mobility… at least until someone cuts you down.”
Monday, 13 June 2011
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Episode 1 - Sins of the Past - Part 4With the beast dead, torn to shreds by Light's spell, Death of Obsidian Butterflies, Echo, Dorn and Rain investigated the body. Echo recognizes the the creature is partly composed of magical materials, including a previously unseen type of jade the is coloured yellow. Together they able to ascertain that the creature is in some way made from different parts. Dorn looked around at the rest of the other tanks and found remains of other similar bodies in various stages of modification. The creature then was some form of experiment or construct, where limbs and organs and bones had been replaced. Worse was the fact that the creature had begun as human. However, the magitech was far beyond their understanding and was clearly something from the First Age.Aisha, Kheralin and Light tend to the children, resuscitating them and removing the needles and tubes that have been inserted into them. Considering what they had seen of the creature and the others in the tanks, the children were to be somehow changed. This meant that there was some original creator but the question was where were they now. It seemed impossible that the creature that they had just fought was capable of doing this all by its self.Leaving the main chamber the group investigated one the earlier corridors that they skipped before. Within the massive room was a tower in the centre. Lighting arced about above, jumping from conductors and gems. The room resonated with essence. Again Echo had the most insight into the device, stating that the machine was similar to the essence accumulators that are used in Lookshy. In effect the tower was the heart of a manse, and in turn powered the entire complex. Once more the scale and technology and magic was beyond comprehension for the circle. However, Dorn through caution to the wind and attempted to detach a red jewel from its setting on the device. Essence built up and lighting jumped and earthed on Dorn. There was the smell of cooking flesh and burning hair, but Dorn was able to prise the gem off the device. It was then that machine really did go out of control as lightning began to arc erratically. They take off at a run at Kheralin's suggestion. Rain accedes this time.Light is first off down the tunnel towards the surface, with the others close behind except for Dorn who trailed behind, still stunned by the shock he had received. The entire complex rumbled and shook. The light globes dimmed and soon went out entirely. Though they were plunged into darkness many of the circle still retained their anima flare, and so illuminated the corridors with their caste marks. They rushed to the main door, and as all but Dorn went through the door iris began to close. Rain jammed his sword into the iris to give Dorn enough time to exit, though Rain lost the tip of his sword as the iris cut it to a new razor sharp edge.Exiting the cave Dorn and Rain were almost caught by the landslide from the cliff face above. Dorn dodged many of the tumbling rocks, while Rain employed his Seven-Shadow Evasion technique. Regrouped, the circle watched on in awe as the hillside collapsed in on itself. A beam of blue light, wrapped in electrical arcs erupted into the sky. It was clear that the circle should move soon before they were spotted.Wondering back to the wagon, the circle took the children back to safety. They worried what the best way would be of returning them as the circle wanted to attract the least amount of attention as possible. Aisha's use of Stormwind Rider was considered to blatant. Rain, not too concerned about the children, and therefore stayed out of the discussion and so was able to make out movement ahead of them. He quietly warned Echo. Kheralin and Echo both called upon their charm of Monkey Leap Technique to leap up into the branches of the trees above them. Rain is annoyed. His warning was not meant to be used for individual evasion. Kheralin scouted ahead and finds a large group of men with lanterns and weaponry. She reported this back to those on the ground. The group attempted to slip away, but Light stumbled, breaking a twig. Rain asks Kheralin if the group of men are from the village, or if the Guild might have had that many men in town. Aishsa doubted that the Guild had that many resources. Rain motions for everybody to put their weapons aside, and wait calmly, and Echo leapt down, his sword ready behind his back.The villagers encircled the group of Solar Exalts, initially cautious and hostile. Rain tried to pass themselves off as peaceful travelers, who have come across the children and are returning them to the village. Rain, trying to placate the mob, asked if the parents are with the villagers, as they would like to return the children. Light bowed as he handed over a child. However, a priest of Grey Tiger emerged from the crowd. He is adorned with a necklace of many tiger fangs which shows that he is quite an authority within the faith. He attempted to turn the villagers against the group, and tried to shout down any of their claims, calling them anathema and monsters, deceivers, who have stolen the children. Rain pulled himself together and appealed to the villagers, infusing his words with essence. Driven by his anger at the priest, and being called a boy by this backwoods cleric (he's in his 30's), Rain spoke to the assembled crowd, presenting the group as peaceful in their intentions, and the priest as a fear-monger, only trying to scare the villagers against imaginary monsters so that he can exploit his position of privilege. However, Rain knew that he was in a tight spot, as he felt his command of essence drained and that any further use of his supernatural talents would cause his anima to flare. This would simply confirm their nature and show them as liars and the priest will in turn have won. Luckily, his points are persuasive and start to win the crowd around. Aisha made a social attack against the priest for acting in his own interests, but her words were rebuffed as he pointed her out as a foreigner whose words are poison. Light made an appeal to the villagers as a man of Khacin simply trying to do a good deed. But the priest is scornful, suggesting that Light is the reason his own village of Wai'hl is destroyed. Dorn stood up straight and proud and presented himself as a hero of Khacin. But again the priest just pointed out he is nothing but a barely civilized barbarian from the North. The priest attempted to attack back at Rain, again denouncing them, calling them deceivers. Rain was able to stand firm against these words, but felt his heart beginning to race. Rain shook his head slowly, calmly pointing out of the priest is angry, and irritated, and calling for blood, when it is unnecessary. Who is the monster here then? Rain asked. The priest lost the support of the crowd, who start to drift away back to the village, now more concerned with the rescued children than in making new enemies. The priest too is forced to leave, telling Rain that this is not the end of this. Rain agrees. Rain turns to the rest of the group, and is halfway through the sentence 'I believe that we may have to kill this troubles...", when Red Echo dashed forward, and from behind the un-expecting and defenceless priest cleaved him in two with his greatsword. The priest's body fell into two pieces with blood fountain out. Rain's visible response to this is a single raised eyebrow as Echo walks back cleaning his sword as if nothing important had happened. Rain had anticipated slipping back to the village in the dead of night
to do the deed. Or at least try and convince one of the others to do if for him. Although messy, this did speed up the process somewhat. If the group could be turned against priests who stood in their way, then they would indeed be a useful tool against the priestly bureaucracy of Khacin.In the dark of the woods, with the circle of Exalts gone, the crumpled form of the priest rested in halves. Then, the dead fingers of the holy man twitched, and his eyes rolled back open. The priest smiled and then began to laugh. 'Yes, I will be trouble. It seems that you all have a penchant for causing chaos and disrupting order. Next time you won't get away so lightly. I WILL BE THE ONE LEFT STANDING ECHO AND RAIN!'.
Thursday, 9 June 2011
I've been writing a couple of bluebooks with the aim of developing Clio's story between the first season of Changeling and the Carnevale oneshot that we plan to do at some point. They take place after the last session and in the weeks leading up to Carnevale. They'll focus on Clio's changing attitude towards Malvolio and an inner conflict about what she wants. There'll probably be at least one more story after this to bring us up to the oneshot.
RATED PG-13, gen, no warnings.
Clio stood with her arms stretched outwards as the seamstress ran a measuring tape around her ribcage. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen herself in such detail - she was clad only in underwear, surrounded by a set of mirrors that revealed almost every angle. When she had first stepped into the room, Clio had joked with herself that Malvolio must spend a lot of time here.
She had received a note from him at the Florian, when she arrived for a late-night shift. The envelope was embossed in cream and violet and held a small, pressed flower that she did not recognise.
I have rearranged your dress fitting with Madam Canvas, as promised. Tomorrow evening.
This practically archaic form of communication had been essential when she grew up in Venice, but it seemed strange to use it with the advent of technology. Such was Malvolio's gaudy use of old etiquette.
She arrived at the House of Spring to find Madam Canvas already waiting for her in the foyer. Clio had only met her once at most; she was a Wizened Artist, and she didn't speak much, except to instruct her to change position every few minutes. When the fitting was over and Clio was dressed, the seamstress handed her a book of fabric samples, inviting her to look through them as she packed away her things. The fabrics might have appeared perfectly normal - if expensive - to the human, naked eye; but otherwise they glowed almost with a seeming of their own. Glittering forest green brocade, like grass touched by dew. Red velvet that shimmered into blue and back again. Undulating pink silk.
"Pink? A little adventurous, no?" Malvolio's voice came from the doorway, and Clio glanced up to see his reflection. He was dressed in a pale cream suit with white shirt, and idly clutching a lit cigarette between his fingers. "I don't think I've ever seen you wear anything but black."
Clio's brow furrowed, though she did turn the page. Madam Canvas passed her by, indicating she would leave the samples behind for Clio to look at. Malvolio murmured a quiet grazie to her as she left the room, and took a seat next to Clio on the couch.
"Black goes with everything," Clio replied. It was true, she would often get teased by her colleagues if they spotted her out of work hours - she hardly owned anything colourful. There was necessity in her clothing choices - she could not spare much money for fashion, and so anything she bought had to match with what she already had. Beyond this, the insane scope of modern style for women somewhat confused her.
"Oh, Clio. Anyone would think you were one of those... gothic types." Malvolio's mouth curled in mocking distaste, and he took a drag on his cigarette. "Do you smoke?" When she gave an uncertain nod, he explained, "It's just tobacco." He drew the packet of cigarettes from his pocket and offered one, watching as she took it between her lips, before sparking it with a silver lighter.
He slid the sample book from her lap, flicking through. "You know, I didn't even expect you to come tonight."
"I asked you to arrange the fitting in the first place, didn't I?" She shrugged. "Though I was curious that you sent me a note, rather than call..."
Malvolio smiled. "I suppose I'm old-fashioned. There's no tangibility in a phone call. I'd only write letters if I had the time."
"I think you romanticise the idea too much," Clio laughed gently. "In fact, it surprises me you would choose to always send letters. They can be intercepted so easily."
He smirked. "Perhaps I like the risk." He extinguished his cigarette in a crystal ashtray on a nearby table, as though bored of it - it was only burned halfway. "No... I was concerned you may be regretting our tryst last week."
If Clio had felt anything in particular after their night together, she would not have described it as regret. This had almost surprised her, especially given her reason for allowing him to seduce her in the first place. When he had accompanied her to the aid of her motley the morning after, he was practically invaluable. Though she wasn't sure if he would want something in return for offering help.
"Why should I regret it?" She asked, holding her cigarette aloft as she exhaled smoke. "My memory is scarce, anyway..." The drug that Malvolio had given her had contributed to this. She was also unaccustomed to acknowledging sex after the act had occurred. She had never done so in Arcadia; she rarely saw the same client twice, and her Keepers didn't discuss anything with her - unless she displeased them.
He seemed quietly satisfied that her reaction was not a negative one. "That's a shame. As I recall, there was nothing I wouldn't choose to repeat." His voice was gentle, almost a whisper, and he leaned in close to speak as though they were in a crowded room. Clio caught the scent of roses and tobacco on his breath.
She was used to flattery from other Changelings, but much of it was based only on leering glances. Lecherous though he was, Malvolio conducted himself with better form. There was something else in his words, not just cold suggestion. It was odd, establishing a connection with a partner that went beyond flesh. Even the fact that they had spoken many times, and the fact that they were speaking now, was more than Clio would ever expect.
She shook herself mentally, tearing away from Malvolio's green eyes as she remembered the book - not the one he was holding, but the Book of Names - still with Stitches, where it was safely hidden. She knew that Malvolio had more than a passing interest in it. The thought of this stayed present in the back of her mind.
"Cosa c'è?" He asked.
Clio blinked. "Di niente." She reached into her bag, retrieving her phone from inside, and checked the time. "I have to go."
He pursed his lips. "I was hoping you'd stay for a drink, at least..."
"I'll be late," she explained, standing up and putting out the cigarette in the ashtray.
He also stood, facing her, a light smirk touching his mouth. "Then, be late..." His eyes gleamed jokingly - he already knew she wouldn't stay. So he laughed softly, and turned to lift Clio's jacket which was folded on one of the chairs. He gestured for her to turn around, and helped her into it graciously. "I'll walk you out."
The corridors were empty, but the House's foyer was now scattered with Changelings, sipping cocktails and sharing conversation. Malvolio received several nods of acknowledgement as he swept through the hall, but didn't pause - he led Clio to the main door, and stopped there as she buttoned her jacket.
"There's a party on Saturday," he said. "You'll come, won't you?"
"I might be working..."
"The Florian closes at midnight. We won't be starting until one." He spoke into her ear. "I'll be extremely disappointed if you're not there." His tone was warm a
nd sincere, like that of a cherished friend, but it also had a touch of authority and instruction. As he drew himself away, he planted a kiss on her cheek. Clio could have sworn she heard the whispers in the room rise in volume - notes of blistering gossip. She had never been a regular at Spring gatherings, so her presence was bound to be noticed and remarked upon.
She nodded, understanding, feeling the eyes of the guests boring into her back. "Ciao," she murmured, stepping towards the door as Malvolio held it open.
"Buona notte," He smiled, closing the door as she left.
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
Light sat in the back of the caravan, seeing it as his time of rest, though he barely slept since that night fire, metal and death had rained from the skies of his home, the screams stayed with him and his promise to take vengeance still burned white hot. The encounter with the priest had left him angry, memories of his family and friends resurfaced and he blinked away tears of sadness and rage. “I won’t let you down…” he whispered to himself as he closed his eyes and laid back against some of the goods they had obtained, he’d have felt bad about it if the man they took it off hadn’t been a slaver himself. As Light sat there, staring up at the ceiling of the cart, listening to the voices of the others outside on watch or keeping the horses on track, his companions of chance more than choice. First impressions had been poor of most, even someone from his childhood home, though her nobility annoyed Light more than anything and her unwillingness to see justice done. Then Dorn, the hulking barbaric fool, more of a liability than anything, especially after killing his friend. The others seemed alright for now, though Echo was a little too quiet and it made him feel uneasy at times. He sighed loudly and shifted about a bit, his eyes flickering slightly before closing and a smile crossed his lips for the first time since that night, “finally, sleep” he thought. His dreams were vivid, more so than anything he had ever felt before, flashes of a life, a woman he didn’t recognise though she felt oddly familiar to him, like an old friend. He watched her casting spells the like of which he’d never seen, using weapons and machines that were far beyond his wildest imaginings. She was tall and her dark skin seemed to bristle with a barely contained energy, she was walking through a desert at the head of an army, standing proud at the forefront of the shimmering ranks of armed men and women. A man approached her and bowed before speaking a language Light didn’t understand but the woman smiled and gave him a nod as he ran back to a different unit. The dream flickered and went white before another image appeared, the woman again, sitting at the head of a table, armoured men surrounding it also, all speaking in the same tongue he’d heard before. Then she raised her hand and all went silent, then she spoke and light understood every word, unlike the others her voice almost seemed to speak to him personally “We will march here, this will be the best position to launch the attack from. I shall take my guard and we shall enter the front gate and you shall follow” She pointed to a few of the gathered men “The rest will take the rear gate and we shall make sure to crush them in the vice of our forces” she smiled as the men nodded in agreement. Again the dream went pure white as the images changed, again they stood in the desert, the woman at the forefront of an army. She motioned silently and her forces started to march towards the giant towering city walls, arrows started to fly towards them and she made a motion and voiced something too fast for light to even see and the arrows seemingly shattered harmlessly in front of the army, then they retaliated, arrows flew towards the walls striking true against many targets as they desperately tried to reload and loose another volley. With a bellowing creak the front gates started to open, men pouring out before lining up in front of the walls in shimmering rows of a metal Light didn’t recognise, the first rank fell to their knees and lowered a strange long barrelled implement at the charging forces and the second did the same. The woman leading the army made several more gestures just in time to stop a black, flame from consuming her and everyone around her, though many further away were not quite as lucky, screams filled the air and Light could smell burning flesh as the black fire burnt straight through metal and bone alike. Another flash and the woman stood inside the broken gates, her small unit of blood drenched soldiers beside her, she raised her hand and a lance appeared, burning with the fire and light of the sun. A man clad in armour of bone marched towards her, blasting a black flame from a staff, similar to the ones the barrelled things had been firing out in the previous vision, once more the smell of burning flesh saturated the air as soldiers fell, screaming as the skin was burnt from them. “Enough, we shall settle this now!” her soldiers parted and she stepped forward, whispering in an ancient tongue and making gestures faster than Light thought possible her body was suddenly clad in brilliant light as plate covered her strong frame. She lowered the lance in a defensive position and smiled, the man opposite threw his hand forward and a the black fire arced forwards towards her, she smiled still then jumped and flipped over it at the last moment “You’ll have to try better than that” her smile turning into a grin. He continued walking towards her clicking his fingers as he passed bodies of the slain from both sides and they twitched into life again, clutching at wounds and weapons as they dragged themselves up and marched towards her. Still she smiled as she brought the lance to bear, shattering the creatures with ease as they came into range of her attacks. She jabbed the lance into one as it got close and muttered a few words as her hair flapped in a wind that hadn’t been there mere moments before, this Light recognised as the spell he’d used to dispatch the creature in the tunnels and he felt himself smiling, waiting for the man to be cut to ribbons. The glass butterflies streamed forward, shredding everything in their path, then they stopped and the bone clad man continued to march unscathed towards her, Light felt his smile disappear as the figure continued to click his fingers and more dead rose to fight once more. She sighed “Fine, if you want to make this more difficult then so be it” she started making gestures and speaking words that burned deep into Light’s mind as she wove her essence about her and time almost seemed to stop as she did, her eyes closed but her lips and hands moving with purpose, then her eyes shot open and time seemed back to normal as a spiked chain appeared behind her, Light tried to call out to warn her but she simply smiled almost as though she knew he was trying to warn her, then the chain flew forward towards the figure clasping perfectly round his neck and tightening. His eyes widened as the spikes and blades of the chain cut deeper into his throat as he tried desperately to pry it off. Then with a snap and a brief spurt of blood the chain tightened again and he fell to the ground and his head rolled towards her, eyes still bulging in their sockets as she rested her foot on it. The c Then everything went white again and there stood the woman from the dream, facing him with a smile “I impart this knowledge to you, use it wisely and together we can reclaim the world” Another bright flash and Light sat up back in the cart, he panted heavily and his brow was wet with sweat. He took a moment to gather himself before lying back, his heart still pounding in his chest though this time he lay there with a knowing smile at what was to come.
reatures turned to dust in the wake of their master’s demise and she smiled “Amateurs shouldn’t try opposing the might of the sun” She turned to face her troop who were cheering “Sound the call of victory, this battle is over!” she cried as she retrieved her lance from the ground.
Light sat in the back of the caravan, seeing it as his time of rest, though he barely slept since that night fire, metal and death had rained from the skies of his home, the screams stayed with him and his promise to take vengeance still burned white hot. The encounter with the priest had left him angry, memories of his family and friends resurfaced and he blinked away tears of sadness and rage. “I won’t let you down…” he whispered to himself as he closed his eyes and laid back against some of the goods they had obtained, he’d have felt bad about it if the man they took it off hadn’t been a slaver himself.
As Light sat there, staring up at the ceiling of the cart, listening to the voices of the others outside on watch or keeping the horses on track, his companions of chance more than choice. First impressions had been poor of most, even someone from his childhood home, though her nobility annoyed Light more than anything and her unwillingness to see justice done. Then Dorn, the hulking barbaric fool, more of a liability than anything, especially after killing his friend. The others seemed alright for now, though Echo was a little too quiet and it made him feel uneasy at times.
He sighed loudly and shifted about a bit, his eyes flickering slightly before closing and a smile crossed his lips for the first time since that night, “finally, sleep” he thought. His dreams were vivid, more so than anything he had ever felt before, flashes of a life, a woman he didn’t recognise though she felt oddly familiar to him, like an old friend. He watched her casting spells the like of which he’d never seen, using weapons and machines that were far beyond his wildest imaginings.
She was tall and her dark skin seemed to bristle with a barely contained energy, she was walking through a desert at the head of an army, standing proud at the forefront of the shimmering ranks of armed men and women. A man approached her and bowed before speaking a language Light didn’t understand but the woman smiled and gave him a nod as he ran back to a different unit.
The dream flickered and went white before another image appeared, the woman again, sitting at the head of a table, armoured men surrounding it also, all speaking in the same tongue he’d heard before. Then she raised her hand and all went silent, then she spoke and light understood every word, unlike the others her voice almost seemed to speak to him personally “We will march here, this will be the best position to launch the attack from. I shall take my guard and we shall enter the front gate and you shall follow” She pointed to a few of the gathered men “The rest will take the rear gate and we shall make sure to crush them in the vice of our forces” she smiled as the men nodded in agreement.
Again the dream went pure white as the images changed, again they stood in the desert, the woman at the forefront of an army. She motioned silently and her forces started to march towards the giant towering city walls, arrows started to fly towards them and she made a motion and voiced something too fast for light to even see and the arrows seemingly shattered harmlessly in front of the army, then they retaliated, arrows flew towards the walls striking true against many targets as they desperately tried to reload and loose another volley. With a bellowing creak the front gates started to open, men pouring out before lining up in front of the walls in shimmering rows of a metal Light didn’t recognise, the first rank fell to their knees and lowered a strange long barrelled implement at the charging forces and the second did the same. The woman leading the army made several more gestures just in time to stop a black, flame from consuming her and everyone around her, though many further away were not quite as lucky, screams filled the air and Light could smell burning flesh as the black fire burnt straight through metal and bone alike.
Another flash and the woman stood inside the broken gates, her small unit of blood drenched soldiers beside her, she raised her hand and a lance appeared, burning with the fire and light of the sun. A man clad in armour of bone marched towards her, blasting a black flame from a staff, similar to the ones the barrelled things had been firing out in the previous vision, once more the smell of burning flesh saturated the air as soldiers fell, screaming as the skin was burnt from them. “Enough, we shall settle this now!” her soldiers parted and she stepped forward, whispering in an ancient tongue and making gestures faster than Light thought possible her body was suddenly clad in brilliant light as plate covered her strong frame.
She lowered the lance in a defensive position and smiled, the man opposite threw his hand forward and a the black fire arced forwards towards her, she smiled still then jumped and flipped over it at the last moment “You’ll have to try better than that” her smile turning into a grin. He continued walking towards her clicking his fingers as he passed bodies of the slain from both sides and they twitched into life again, clutching at wounds and weapons as they dragged themselves up and marched towards her. Still she smiled as she brought the lance to bear, shattering the creatures with ease as they came into range of her attacks. She jabbed the lance into one as it got close and muttered a few words as her hair flapped in a wind that hadn’t been there mere moments before, this Light recognised as the spell he’d used to dispatch the creature in the tunnels and he felt himself smiling, waiting for the man to be cut to ribbons.
The glass butterflies streamed forward, shredding everything in their path, then they stopped and the bone clad man continued to march unscathed towards her, Light felt his smile disappear as the figure continued to click his fingers and more dead rose to fight once more. She sighed “Fine, if you want to make this more difficult then so be it” she started making gestures and speaking words that burned deep into Light’s mind as she wove her essence about her and time almost seemed to stop as she did, her eyes closed but her lips and hands moving with purpose, then her eyes shot open and time seemed back to normal as a spiked chain appeared behind her, Light tried to call out to warn her but she simply smiled almost as though she knew he was trying to warn her, then the chain flew forward towards the figure clasping perfectly round his neck and tightening.
His eyes widened as the spikes and blades of the chain cut deeper into his throat as he tried desperately to pry it off. Then with a snap and a brief spurt of blood the chain tightened again and he fell to the ground and his head rolled towards her, eyes still bulging in their sockets as she rested her foot on it. The c
Then everything went white again and there stood the woman from the dream, facing him with a smile “I impart this knowledge to you, use it wisely and together we can reclaim the world” Another bright flash and Light sat up back in the cart, he panted heavily and his brow was wet with sweat. He took a moment to gather himself before lying back, his heart still pounding in his chest though this time he lay there with a knowing smile at what was to come.
Sunday, 5 June 2011
Exalted - Part 3
At the bottom of the stairs the circle found a locked door. The door was more of a portal, sealed by a metal iris. Rain, Light and Aisha examined the door and found a panel next to it. This was the lock. It bore Old Realm runes and a circular slot. Realising it would fit the jade disc that Light was given by Sapphire Talon.
The jade disc came to life, and the rings of the jade disc began to more freely on their own axes. It was then that they noted that each of the rings bore stylized symbols for the sun, moon and the 5 maidens. They set the position of the rings o match the date and the door opened.
Within was a circle entrance hall. At the centre was a curved desk. The desk was topped with a dark glass which was cracked. Along the edges of the glass were ivory like runes. At the desk in a seat was a dessicated corpse. The corpse had some form of mechanical eye augmentation, and metal grills replacing the mouth. The group searched the chamber, with Red Echo uncovering a silver, light weight, bone saw. Aisha found a drawer in the desk and within in some medical scaples, and a sheet of glass. The glass responded to Aisha's touch and Old Realm script scrolled across it.Kheralin touched the desk and found it to came to life, but only for a second as it also displayed some Old Realm script. Rain realises that he must learn this ancient language if he is to better understand how he, the others, the jade disc, the raiders on the village, and this place, fit together.
As Rain looked at one of the three net doors he found the lock responded to his essence. The iris opened and there was a corridor beyond. He and Echo and the others went down it to the next door, which also responded to their essence. Inside was a room that looked like a barracks. There were bunks that were over turned, and more bodies. They were also dessicated. Then the temperature dropped and the spirits of the dead revealed themselves. The group backed out and closed the doors behind themselves. Rain hen realised something. The doors only react to essence, and worse, anathema.
Dorn, on his own, checked another door, tracking the beast. He went down the next corridor and then down a branching corridor, finding a room filled with equipment that made no sense to him. In the centre of the room was some form of glass tank that was cracked and empty.
The others checked the the last route out of the entrance chamber. They found a large room filled with pipes and tanks. The tanks had contained some variety of fluids and chemicals, but were now empty. The chamber however smelled caustic and foul. It was while investigating this chamber they noted that Dorn had gone off on his own, and Kheralin questioned why Rain thought he could give the group orders.
The group followed after Dorn, and found him and he explained the room he had found. They went to the next room and Light was able to pick out some surgical tools, some vials filled with a pinkish fluid, and some sort of syringe gun, and what looked like scrolls that described the essence nodes of a person. he tank in this room was filled with a dark fluid. Light lifted a limb from out of the fluid, and it was studded at the joints with some sort of sockets.
The group continued down the corridor, they found a large room filled with over 2 dozen tanks large enough to contain an ogre. the tanks were not all filled, but those that were contained a green fluid. Running above the tops of the tanks was a gantry, and high above were numerous pipes, cables and hanging equipment more than likely used to operate the tanks and fill them.
Rain went forward to look about while Dorn did the same, but made his way down the nearby stairs and to the main floor of the room. It was then that Echo spotted up above in the pipes a large figure moving. It dropped towards Rain as Echo called out to alert him.
Rain glances up at the shout, his eyes widening. Barely hesitating, he crouches before leaping upwards to meet the monster. He uses his twin shortswords like ice-axes to push himself up and past the creature, his attacks do no damage however, and he starts to fall back to earth. Dorn is on the lower level, walks towards the stairs whist stoking up his battle fury focus. Echo attacks with his sword, dashing past the creature, fails to get past its defences. Kheralin hits it with a charm-enhanced flurry of three arrows that bounced of its hide. Light leapt off a gantry railing striking down with a series of rapid blows. His spear is able to do damage, causing green blood to erupt from the beast's hide.
It was now that it was clear the the creature was hunched over and would be some 10 foot tall. One arm ended in long, sword long metal talons. Its face was concealed by a metal cap, revealing only the lipless mouth of razor sharp teeth. Its body was heavily modified with metal replacements for joints and bones. Luminous green blood could be seen running through the vein of the creature.
Rain lands on the creatures back, grabbing hold with one hand and striking with the sword in the other at the monster's neck. He channelled all his might into the attack but the monster parried with its claws, sending sparks everywhere. In response it lashed out, with Rain using his supernatural speed to dodge out of the way, and Light being lucky not to have been hit. With essence being channelled many of the group were now experiencing anima flares, and the room was lit up. Aisha rushed off to find the child that the monster had taken, and Dorn began to channel his essence, entering a beserker rage. Aisha eventually finds that there are three children suspended in the tanks, with tubes entering their bodies. She breaks them out and began to use her healing charms upon them.
Echo has another go at the beast. Even magically enhanced his great sword is rebuffed. Light starts to shape terrestrial sorcery, with the intent of casting Death of Obsidian Butterflies. Rain realises that he can't hurt the monster with his limited weapons, but also that Light's spell would be prone to disruption, and so makes himself a tempting target. He gets up close to their opponent, dodging its claw strikes, and keeping it in place. Dorn gets up the gantry charges at the melee. Attempts to grab the monster to damage it with his steel guantlet and his spiked harness. But it stays out of his grasp. Keeping out of the melee Kheralin's arrow hits the monster in the neck. The monster lashes out at Echo he barely blocks the claws before using his inhuman ability to leap far out of the way to the ground below the gantry, skidding to a stop.
Light finally unleashes the Death of Obsidian Butterflies, the shaped orb of black stone exploding in the direction of the monster. Dorn is forced to shelter behind the beast's massive, armoured, but rapidly shredded body, whilst Rain again uses seven shadow evasion, leaping up and somersaulting backwards over the clouds of razor-edged death. He lands on a relatively stable part of the now collapsing gantry as the others steps to safety.
Saturday, 4 June 2011
So recently I have had the joy of contributing a little to this game, Amaranthine. It is my first true stab at some sort of freelance writing for an rpg. And I think I can say that it has gone well. It is only a thousand or so words, but I would like to think that I can actually write in an evocative way that is useful both as prose and gaming content. It has been a good learning experience as well as I feel that I have already learnt how to improve my writing just by getting back the red lines.
Anyway, Amaranthine is an rpg by David A Hill Jr and Filamena Young. Daivd is best known for his work with White Wolf on recent projects like Invite Only, a suppliment for Vampire The Requiem covering how vampire socialize and run gatherings, and the Werewolf The Forsaken Chronicler's Guide, a multipart book that remixes the game. He has also worked on such things as writing content for EVE Online, the rpg Eclipse Phase, and his own game, Machine Zeit.
Filamena Young is also co writing Amaranthine with David (duh, David is her familiar... I mean husband) and so also wrote Machine Zeit. Filamena is also known for her work with White Wolf on such books as Nighthorrors: Unbidden (Mage The Awakening), Nighthorrors: Wolfsbane (Werewolf The Forsaken), Ancient Mysteries (Vampire The Requiem) ad Immortals.
So what is Amaranthine about? Well a few weeks back on the Darker Days Podcast I had the joy of interviewing David about the game and asked him about the mechanics of the game.
Amaranthine is a game about immortal souls. Souls which have been reincarnated over many lifetimes. So it is clear that you are playing a game about supernatural creatures. But more critical is that the game is about relationships, and how they turn hot and cold and snap over time. Something that is pretty important for characters that can hold grudges and romances over many lifetimes.
Anyway here is the description from the writers themselves.
Something of the things that have jumped out about the game are the mechanics for relationships, and the the method of character design.
Character design is a collaborative effort, similar in some ways to some indie rpgs. In Amaranthine, during character creation a number of questions are answered, and some may be direct towards others in the groups. For example some of the questions are simply filling in the blanks e.g. I have never, I have once, I have sometimes, I always, I will never. Its good fun and something that I would use in other games in future. It also provides a good laugh for the players as they see relationships set up. Go listen to the podcast that David and Filamena recorded with their gaming group when testing this out with some new players.
The main focus of the game is relationships, and this is visually and mechanically tracked using relationship wheels. The idea is to show how relationships can change over time, go sour, or turn a full 180. It can help drive the plot and show how relationships can be driven to break point and that only some other great act can rescue it. Or how a emnity can turn into love. All of this is magnified by the immortal nature of the characters.
The other neat thing is that the game is moving away from an xp driven system for advancement, and instead will focus on roleplay in game actions to drive advancement. It will then reward players for good roleplay, and also prevent stats just magically improving without good reason e.g. no time being spent on training etc. The other neat idea is how a character can discover new skills through roleplaying flashbacks where said skills were used in a previous lifetime.
So Amaranthine is shaping up to be the Highlander like game we have always wanted. A game about epic romances, brotherhood, betrayals, and revenge, taking place over lifetimes. I'm looking forward to having a crack at the finished game and I think my own gaming group would really enjoy after playing things like Vampire and Changeling. Go check it out and read their blog for more.
Friday, 3 June 2011
So apps. What do I use on my Asus so far?
Well the Asus ships with the Polaris office suite. This is a very cut down version of something akin to MS Office. You can edit documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations. So far I have just been typing using it, but to be honest I am very happy with the fact that this software exists, as it means the Asus can really be a netbook when you wish for it to act as one. One gripe. No spell check function. Maybe this a feature to make us better writers?
The next app that I really like using on the Asus that I have used on the X10 is Pulse. Pulse has gone from strength to strength, becoming better integrated with google reader. Over time it has made easier to mark items that you have read or like in google reader. Compared to other RSS readers it is more visually appealing to use, and more fun to browse items with. But it really comes into its own on the tablet.
Next is MyZine. Again it is an app by Asus for the Transformer only. The aim is to neatly bring together in a single widget a slide show of your images on the machine, weather information, a quick link to your ebooks, a link and alert to email, and a recently played alert for music and a recently broswed alert for the web. It just seems nice and fresh to use and acts as a good summary.
Speaking of ebooks. Two apps I make use of are focused on that. The first is RepliGo pdf reader. Why this rather than the Adobe app. The ability to highlight and save the pdf. This is a god send for my own work or reading scientific journals so I can highlight and even annotate pdfs for later use. The other app also ships with the Asus only, and is MyLibrary. This also read pdfs. But I have found that it is much more able to read rather large pdfs (like those for rpgs).
Other apps get a make over in Android 3.0+. The Android Market it much nicer to use. Youtube looks stunning. BBC iplayer however is still not ready for this version, but with flash not a problem you can watch iplayer in browser. Evernote is of course even easier to use now that you have the option of a physical keyboard.
Tip: When typing make use of the mouse on/off button on the Asus. It will save you the pain of accidentally selecting and then editing that text already written. Instead just reach out and move the cursor by hand (literally!).
So there you have it, another brieft over view of things. I will give more of an update soon on using the device in games.
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
So far I have been very pleased with Exalted. I have had the joy of running the game twice before (1st and 2nd Ed). As we are only 1 episode in to the story I have been pleased that combat works much smoother than 1st ed.
But what are your impressions?
- I like the colour. The chocolate bronze.
- I like the texture to give better grip.
- The form factor - Widescreen is much better I feel than the ipad design. I read a lot of ebooks and so the ratio is great for that.
- The dock is nice and secure. The keyboard is well made and already I have learnt most of the shortcuts.
- I actually like being able to type with it and then reach out and touch. Seems very natural.
- Android gui is a dream. The Music app is good to look at.
- Flash. I actually hate flash but at least I can use it on sites that are into that crap.
- The dock battery system - I can also recharge my phone from it!
- Apps! I don't get Apple being scornful of droid apps. So what if there are only a few optimized for tablets. Droid apps scale very well. Tweetdeck is great on the asus. Also Pulse is a joy to use.
- MyZine - neat little widget - weather - email - books - calendar - web - music, all summarized for you. ALso photos are shown in a cyclicing manner.
- Polaris suite - This is great. I feel like I can now type anywhere and look at data for research.
- My Library - great at handling rather difficult pdfs.
- Honeycomb in general is a joy to use.
- Brilliant screen. I would say better than an Ipad when I have played with one of those.
- Easy for a new user - my wife has a mac, and an iphone. But using the Asus was quite easy, and the keyboard makes things easier and more comfortable.
- My boss had a look and now wants one!
- MyCloud - unlimited asus cloud storage for a year? Yes please.
- The camera is ok, but not quite up to the standard on my sony X10.
- Expandable memory - sd cards galore (micro port and standard port) and 2 usb ports!
So as of yesterday I am an owner of the Asus Transformer. As always the person delivering it was surprised when they looking for my flat. Again a symptom of it being a fairly new block of apartments.
So I got the box, opened it and was first met by the tablet, and then under it the dock.
First impressions? Well it was like opening something very industrial. Where ever the boxes were stored on transit had made the Asus very cold to the touch.
The device itself is very sturdy, clean lines, good size bezel to rest fingers at when holding it. The finish is great, even it is plastic (I honestly could have been mistaken that the entire thing is metal). The screen suffers from glare a bit - maybe a screen protector would help?
The mouse pad is also a pleasure to use, but a pain when touch typing. But this is a common issue of netbooks in general. You end up moving where you are typing by accident.
So overall I am very pleased. It combines everything I have wanted (pdf reading, text editing, web, email). Now hopefully soon tethering it to my phone will become a bit easier, and then I will be very mobile (the asus is wifi only - I prefer this as you can lost on your data usage with such a beast). Even my wife wants one now.
I'm sure I will say more in the future on this device (stability, mobility, apps, battery life).
Expect this to be used during gaming a lot!