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  • Serge is the only one we haven't talked with at length, so yeah, Serge.

    Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post

    I need 10 characters, but I'm voting for Serge.
    I can do one better:

    Last edited by Prometheus878; 11-17-2016, 06:30 PM.

    I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~


    • She walked across the room and grabbed a seat next to Serge. "Hi again," she said, putting her elbows on the bar. "I don't believe we've had a decent conversation as of yet. What's your poison?"

      Serge had been in a momentary lull in an animated but one-sided conversation with the patron on his opposite side. Ash's question broke his train of thought, and he turned to look at her with confusion. Once he took a second to process it, he answered "Sake. But that's too expensive out here, so there's this corn beer stuff." He blinked, then remembered who he was talking to. "Oh, hi Ash. Didn't see you come in."

      "That's alright. Hey, barman! More chicha here!" Ash waved to get the owner's attention, then returned her focus to Serge. "So, I've been meaning to ask - why'd you want to take on Stitch-Eyes?"

      Serge blinked again. "Well, he's an outlaw, isn't he? Taking on outlaws is what marshals do."

      The barman put a full pair of cups in front of them. Ash grabbed one and took a sip. "True enough. But he's mighty dangerous, if that three-figure bounty wasn't clear enough. If I was a marshal, I'd be goin' after him with as many deputies as I could press, and a couple more marshals too, if I could swing it."

      Serge puffed himself up. "I don't need anyone to fight for me. Anyway, you seem to think just five people will do."

      Ash shrugged. "I've got my reasons for keepin' our numbers small."

      "Bigger shares?" Serge raised an eyebrow.

      "Partly." Ash smiled. "So, how do you become a marshal?"

      Serge's eyes flicked down to his badge. "I was awarded this for military service."


      "Of course. I served three years in the legion. When I decided it was time to go, they gave me this badge and a mandate to uphold justice on the frontier. So, here I am."

      "That's impressive. I guess you were one hell of a soldier."

      Serge took a long drink from his cup and then smacked it down on the table. "Damn right! I was always on the front - first to the fight, last to retreat, every time. No one else in my talon could match me." He was getting loud again. "My name is Serge, and I am the strongest!"

      Ash leaned back a little. "Whoah there. Steady now. Folks are tryin' to sleep upstairs." She sipped from her cup while she waited for Serge to settle down. "One more question, if you don't mind..."

      Serge chuckled. "Go ahead."

      "What's it say on your badge there?"

      He glanced down at his badge again, then looked at Ash with suspicion. "What do you mean? Can't you read?"

      Ash raised her eyebrows. "Not the high speech, I can't." She took a nonchalant sip from her cup.

      Serge's face relaxed. "Oh, right. Well, it says... 'To serve and protect.'"

      Ash laughed. "Oh, come off it. You're not fooling anyone, least of all me."

      Serge looked surprised, then his face contorted with rage. "Damn you. I am a marshal!"

      Ash shook her head. "No, you ain't," she said, gently but firmly. "You're a fake. I'm guessin' you stole that badge. I don't know why anyone would do that, but that's how it looks."

      The impostor exhales forcefully and stood up from his stool. "Do you want to take this outside?" he said, clenching his fists. From the other end of the bar, the barman started looking in his direction with concern.

      Ash did not get up. She took another drink and looked away from Serge. "No, I don't. Bein' truthful, I don't care if you're a marshal or not, if you're willin' and able to help. But if you've got a price on your head, or there's a real marshal out there who's goin' to come lookin' for that badge, I can't let you join my little enterprise."

      Serge stepped forward and grabbed Ash by the shoulder. He had a very strong grip. Ash turned her head and looked him in the eye. They stared at each other for a long time. Finally, Serge let go and took in a breath. "There's no price on my head, and nobody's going to come looking for this badge," he said, firmly. Ash believed him. But then he added, "I am a marshal," and Ash's credulity slipped away.

      "Whatever you say, Serge," she replied. The man nodded and sat back down. The two of them finished their drinks in silence.

      The next day was full of preparations for the show. Ash explained the details of her vision to Bo, Serge, and Seres, and they all agreed to help - albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Serge seemed eager to prove he could be useful, apparently unconcerned that this might be unbefitting of a marshal. Seres went along willingly enough, although she'd often stop and ask why they had to do this or that and rarely seemed satisfied with Ash's answers. Bo was the most reluctant, clearly laboring under a belief that public performance was a pursuit unworthy of a dragon, even one in disguise. But even she was able to understand how circumstances necessitated an unusual course of action.

      In the morning, Ash spent most of her remaining money getting props - a barrel, a bullwhip, some knives balanced for throwing, and a modest amount of firedust. She borrowed old Renbud's venerable firewand, with a promise that he would sit (for free) in the front of the audience and that it would be returned to him at the end of the performance. The other members of the group went around advertising - posting signs, paying cryers, or just shouting in public places. Soon Ash's name was on everyone's lips, and even folks who couldn't care less about the show could tell you when and where it was happening.

      In the afternoon, Ash and Seres practiced a few tricks that required more than one person to do properly, while Bo continued to work on getting the word out. Serge worked on turning the empty land around the rock into a proper venue - drawing lines in the dirt and putting down plank benches. Ash's plan for monetizing the show was simple enough - anyone could come and see, but anyone who wanted to sit or stand close enough to see well would have to pay.

      Come sundown, folks started to gather around the spearpoint - young and old, rich or poor, all hoping for a bit of entertainment. Serge, Seres, and Bo herded them around, separating those willing to spend money from those who weren't. They shepherded the former towards the front after collecting a fee.

      Finally, the time came to start. Ash climbed up on top of the rock with her borrowed firewand in hand and raised it above her head. When folks started to get quiet, she yelled "Howdy, Roca Roja!"

      The audience murmured. A few people called greetings back and there was a scattering of light applause.

      "Thanks, everyone, for coming here tonight. I promise you won't regret it. But first, the important part - cash! Has everyone paid up?"

      The audience murmured some more, mostly with disapproval. A few people laughed.

      Seres, walked up to the base of the impromptu stage with a hat full of banknotes. Ash leaned on the firewand and made a show of staring at the money. "Now, that's what I like to see! Pass that up here, miss."

      Seres held up the hat. Ash knelt down, grabbed the hat in her left hand, and lifted it away. She stood up, weighing the hat in her hand. Then she hurled it into the air, scattering paper into the evening sky. Before anyone could react, Ash tossed the the firewand up to her shoulder, aimed for the hat, and squeezed the trigger.

      There was a loud bang. The flung papers and the hat were caught by a wave of fire and sparks that lit up the evening sky. Smoking ashes started to rain down around the Speartip. The audience gasped with awe and disbelief.

      Ash tossed the firewand from one hand to the other. "Did you see that? Didn't miss a single one!"

      "Ash, what're you doing!?" screamed Seres.

      "...Makin' a start with a display of flame-marksmanship?" replied Ash, with exaggerated innocence.

      "Those're for the seats! You can't just burn money like that!"

      Ash scratched her head below her hat. "What money?"

      "The money I just gave you!"

      "Oh, this money?" Ash reached into her coat, pulled out a bundled sheaf of notes, and held it high. The audience oohed and aahed their approval.

      With the ice broken, Ash showed off a few more tricks with that firewand. She twirled the weapon around her arms, lit a set of braziers that would keep her illuminated for the rest of the show, cast burning dust around herself in fascinating and dangerous patterns, and wrapped up by shooting at a target behind her while doing a handstand. She got to her feet and picked up her hat while the audience applauded.

      "Now, for this next act, I'd like to start off with a story," Ash began. She walked over to a chest she'd dragged up onto the rock and opened it up. She pulled a whole chicken, recently dead but not plucked, out of the chest and carried it over to a tall pole stuck in the ground by the rock. A small noose hung from the pole, which Ash used to string up the dead bird. She kept talking all the while.

      "Many years ago, I wandered the Wastes searchin' for the lost treasure of Ovonel. I didn't find it, but I did stumble onto somethin' else. I found myself in a deep, dry gulch, full of caves, and I wondered if there might be something hidden inside them. But as it turned out, every one of those caves was sand-dragon's burrow.

      "I must have done somethin' to irritate them, 'cause they came pouring out of those caves, hissin' and wavin' their arms. I thought I might have to fight me way free of them, but then he appeared."

      As if on cue, King came rambling out of the darkness beyond the firelight. He walked around the Speartip and over to the chicken on the pole. He raised himself up, tore the bird free from its noose, and chomped it down with one bite. Even the audience members who had seen King before gasped.

      "All the other sand-dragons made way for this big, red beast. We circled around, sizing each other up." Ash walked back over to the chest and pulled out another prop - a bullwhip. "That was when I knew I was in the presence of royalty. And I could do but one of two things - bow down, or show how I wasn't afraid."

      Ash whistled, and King climbed up onto the rock. She pulled the hat off her head and tossed it onto King's own ridged crown. King stood up on his hind legs, looming all the larger for his position on the rock overlooking the crowd. Ash unwound the whip, gave it a little shake, and then lashed out at King above her.

      The while cracked over King's head, neatly flicking Ash's hat into the air. The headpiece flipped over and over until it landed neatly on Ash's scalp. At once, the sand dragon sank down onto its forelegs, enabling Ash to climb on. Ash leapt into the saddle, pulled her hat off once again, and posed with her arms held above her to further applause from the audience.

      Then King jumped off the rock while Ash held on, and the two of them rode up, down, and around the Speartip for several minutes. The sand-dragon nearly ran right into the audience a times, only to turn away at the last minute and whip his tail past their faces. Finally, mount and rider climbed up on top of the stage one last time, and Ash climbed off. She gave him a courtly bow, and he bobbed his head. The audience went wild. Ash grabbed a second chicken from the prop-box and flung it into the dark. King chased after it, and then it was time for the last act.

      Seres and Serge rolled a barrel onto the stage and held it in place while Ash climbed atop it. Now, the Speartip was not a level surface, so as soon as Serge and Seres let go, that barrel started rolling away. But Ash expertly walked backwards on the barrel, stopping its momentum and even rolling it further up the rock a little bit.

      Next, Serge tossed Ash Renbud's firewand to her. She caught it without losing her balance, then said, "If there are any young'uns in the audience, do not try what you're about to see at home. Even I think this is stupid, and it was my idea!"

      The audience chuckled, but then went quiet when Seres came back with a belt covered in knives. She walked between the Speartip and the audience, pulled one knife free of the belt, and slowly waved it around so they could see.

      "Alright, missy. Just like we practiced. Throw them at me!" Ash commanded.

      Seres turned to Ash and turned the dagger over in her hand. Then she hurled it - apparently at Ash, but aiming much too low. The dagger thunked into the wood of the barrel and stuck there.

      Ash adjusted her backwards walk and let the barrel roll over. She expertly bent down, tugged the knife free as it approached her feet, and the fixed her walk again. Soon she had rolled the barrel back to where it had started and was keeping it there. "Try a little higher," she called, as she tossed the knife back. It stuck into the ground in front of Seres.

      Seres picked the knife up, raised it behind her shoulder, and threw it again - this time at Ash's shins. Ash jumped. The knife sailed by under her feet. Then she came back down on top of the barrel, wobbled a little, and righted herself. "Still too low!" she called. The audience laughed.

      The next knife Seres' threw flew straight at Ash's stomach. This time, Ash deflected the blade with a sweep of her firewand, sending the knife spinning off into the darkness. "Better! Now, again, but faster!"

      Seres obliged. She tugged several knives free of the belt and hurled them at Ash one after the other. Maybe one in three would have hit anything, but Ash treated them all the same - she spun the firewand round and round, parrying every flying dagger off in a different direction. The whole time, she never wavered on that barrel. The whole time, she made it look easy.

      "Is that all?" she called, when Seres had apparently run out of ammunition.

      Seres shook her head and pulled one last knife from the belt. Once again, she held it up for the audience to see while she let the belt drop to her feet.

      "Alright! Last one! Make it count!" called Ash, and she tossed the firewand aside.

      Seres pulled back the knife. This time, she took careful aim. She practiced the throwing gesture a few times, slowly, without letting go of the blade. Then she pegged her last dagger at Ash's head.

      The audience all saw the knife fly at her. They all saw Ash's head snap back... and then they saw her come up again, with the knife caught between her teeth, smiling a distorted smile. Everyone roared with approval while Ash hopped off the barrel, allowing it to roll away. She spat the knife out into her hand and tossed that aside too. She raised her arms, and there was a standing ovation with cheers.

      "Thank you!" called Ash, though few could hear it. "Thank you! Thank you all!"

      Finally, the show was over. The hat (now slightly scorched) had gone around a few more times, the audience had gone home, and what was left was cleanup. Renbud collected his firewand, undismayed by the new scratches on it, and congratulated Ash on a fine performance.

      "That sure was somethin'," said Seres, when there was finally a bit of peace to talk. "I mean, I knew how it was goin' to go, but damn. You could get really rich, playin' that on the Isle." They were sitting side by side on the Speartip, tallying up all the coins and banknotes they collected.

      Ash shrugged. "Maybe so, but that's not really what I care about. Money's only what you need it for..." she trailed off when she came to the end of a stack of bills. "I reckon I have about... sixteen and a quarter. What about you?"

      "Nine even," answered Seres. She swept a pile of silver into a bag. "Is that enough?"

      "It's enough for now," replied Ash. "Come on. Let's give the others a hand."

      The group finished gathering up their props, and then they went back to the Rooster for a well-deserved rest.

      When the sun came up, Ash was sitting on the Rooster's front steps, staring into space. By all accounts, the past few days had been a success. But these were just minor victories, and from here it was hard for her to tell if she was getting any closer to Stitch-Eyes. She mulled over her options, and came a decision.
      • It was time to leave Roca Roja. In this secure corner of the frontier, it was easy to believe nothing was wrong. She could almost forget Stitch-Eyes. But she had a mission, and she wasn't going to finish it here. More to the point, the people she'd hoped to find weren't here. She'd have to look elsewhere to fill out her posse.
      • She decided to stay a little longer. Roca Roja was a big town, relatively speaking. It'd surely take more than two days to turn it over. The next train might bring in the people Ash was looking for.
      • Something else?
      OOC Commentary
      Becoming a marshal is a fairly straightforward process. Despite popular belief, you do not need to be an awakened Dragonblooded to do it - you only need to be 1) a member in good standing of a house with holdings in the frontier or 2) someone who can get permission from a house with holdings in the frontier, or from the Imperial court. A court official will stamp a signed application, deliver a badge, and that's that. Of course, the fact that marshaling isn't easy and isn't a paid position helps to narrow down what kinds of people volunteer, and the people who give permission generally don't want to give ne'er-do-wells any legal authority over their property.

      No one is ever "awarded" marshaldom. In some circles, becoming a marshal is a sign that you were too much of a failure to get real work in government or the army. Granted, those circles tend not to include any frontier folk of any sort.

      As alluded to before, marshals' badges are tiny, silvered tin shields. The words inscribed on every marshal's badge in Dragonspeech are "By the Empress' Will Shall this Land be Tamed."

      And yes, Ash knows all of this.

      On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

      Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz


      • Time to go. Don't want to wear out our welcome.

        I write things.


        • Time to go. We've got a map to fill out.

          I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~


          • Let's mosey on out.


            • I've decided to cast all of my votes in Gif format.
              So I say let's

              I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
              I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero


              • It was time to leave Roca Roja. In this secure corner of the frontier, it was easy to believe nothing was wrong. She could almost forget Stitch-Eyes. But she had a mission, and she wasn't going to finish it here. More to the point, the people she'd hoped to find weren't here. She'd have to look elsewhere to fill out her posse.

                So she got the others out of bed, bought them all breakfast, and went shopping for necessities - a hardy pony for Seres, durable food, and extra camping gear for everyone. She also got a cheap firewand for herself. I should say, very cheap - one of those old matchlocks, if you can believe it. Practically an antique, but it was well-preserved, and the owner graciously included a bayonet.

                Ash and company left town that afternoon. Ash led the way on King, followed by Seres on her pony, Serge on an old, skinny nag, and Bo on her mule. Their destination was...
                • ...west, to the mountains. Ash had a hunch that the frontier's frontier was the place to search for what she needed. Somewhere among the pioneers and fortune hunters there had to be some folks who had what it took.
                • ...far south, to the Wastes. Now that she had supplies to spare, Ash figured they could manage a trip deep into the desert. There, she knew of at least one person she could count on to stand with her against Stitch-Eyes, although they wouldn't be easy to persuade...
                • Something else?

                OOC commentary
                Just for kicks, here's the character selection list I envisioned for each location:

                Mountains: Old Hand, Preacher, Hunter
                Wastes: Old Hand, Mystic, Savage

                I'm holding the Opportunist in reserve. And remember - you only get two more!

                And now, more firewand headcanon
                Firearms made in the Age of Sorrows come in matchlock, wheellock, snaphance, and flintlock varieties. The flintlocks are by far the newest and most popular, but the technology is not so new that you cannot still find older weapons for sale.

                Firearms are manufactured individually by wandsmiths. Wandsmithing is an advanced, highly technical profession that requires skill in carpentry, metalurgy, mechanics, and chemistry. The most successful wandsmithing workshops usually have multiple smiths, each of which is specialized on only one or two elements of the process.

                Firearms from before the Age of Sorrows are more advanced, but this is a mixed blessing. They are frequently made using magical materials or unique alloys that the average wandsmith simply does not have access to, or contain mechanical elements that are all but impossible to produce with modern techniques: clockwork loaders, variable triggers, and swivels, to name some. While this does mean ancient artifact firewands and flamepieces tend to be more powerful or versatile than contemporary firearms, they are also very difficult to repair. Sometimes even arming them can be a challenge, as they are made to use breech or slide-loaded metal cartidges in an age where the only ammunition you can buy is muzzle-loaded charges.

                On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz


                • I was thinking wastes but then I read the possible characters. I want to see Mountains again, Gandalf!

                  Preacher! I want to see a Genre take on the Immaculate Religion.

                  (I don't know why I have an obsession with the Immaculate Religion. Maybe I am intrigued by the idea of religion as a Social Engineering tool. )

                  I write things.


                  • We're gonna have to go to the toughest places to find the toughest folks. Head to the Wastes.

                    Share your wonders in The Artifact and Evocation Workshop


                    • Adversity breeds strength. Wastes!


                      • Hm... we should go into the Wastes before we use up our supplies. I hope we brought enough goods to buy off the natives' ire...

                        I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~


                        • Go West! Because mountains and Preacher! I suspect we can get enough supplies in the mountains to sustain us when we turn South eventually (flamedust mines perhaps). I also like the thought of having an almost full posse to help sway the difficult to persuade individual we know of in the Wastes.


                          • Their destination was far south, to the Wastes. Now that she had supplies to spare, Ash figured they could manage a trip deep into the desert. There, she knew of at least one person she could count on to stand with her against Stitch-Eyes, although they wouldn't be easy to persuade.

                            It wasn't an easy trip, or a short one. But I think you'd find most of it boring just the same, so I'll limit myself to the interesting parts.

                            First, there was the conversation they had when they were setting out.

                            "The wastes?" asked Seres, skeptically. "What for?"

                            "There's someone out there I hope I can find," replied Ash, already regretting her decision a little.


                            "...I can't say."

                            They were loading up their mounts outside of the Lazy Rooster. It had taken a bit of time for everyone to wake up and load up. Ash was tightening King's saddle and studiously avoiding Seres' gaze.

                            "Listen, I know I said I wanted adventure, but that's a long way to go without knowin' why." Seres looked to Serge, who was lounging on the front steps and munching on an egg. "You're with me, right?"

                            Serge shrugged. "We've got to go where we've got to go. It doesn't really matter to me." He shoved the last of the egg in his mouth and continued to talk around it. "Washa mattah? You 'fraid of Dunefolkth?"

                            Seres glared at him. "I ain't afraid of nothin'. That's not the point. How 'bout you, Bo? Don't you want to know what we're doin'?"

                            Bo was just coming out with a few full baskets to put on her mule. She struggled with the weight of them as she walked past Seres. "I will trust Mistress Ash," she said, curtly. "And so should you."

                            Seres threw up her hands, and they never talked about it again.

                            Then there was the part where they passed the Painted Rocks.

                            The painted rocks was a major landmark in the south-southeast - if you were taking the train from the dust mines to the eastern states, you'd pass right by it. Ash and company wound up walking through it after they crossed the train tracks.

                            From a distance, the painted rocks looked like several tall, brown, rocky pillars that had fallen against each other to form a crude lean-to. This lean-to was tall enough that you could ride a horse through it, which is just what Ash and company did. And once inside, they could see the ancient drawings that gave the painted rocks their name. The interior stone had been carved out, smoothed, and bedaubed with some kind of paint that had resisted time and weathering. The paintings showed images of something like a city under a yellow sun, surrounded by blue water and green farmlands. Following these were images of people fighting with spears and fire. Then there was the image of a tower, with people gathered around it in worship. Finally there was the city again, but now under a red sun, with all the blue and green replaced with yellow sand.

                            Seres was fascinated. She'd dismounted from her pony to take a closer look. "How old are these, do ya think?" she said, reaching out towards one of the paintings.

                            Ash, who had seen these before, had meant to ride through without stopping. Instead she hauled on the reigns to bring King to a stop and turned in her saddle to look. "Older than anyone alive. Don't touch them."

                            Seres pulled her hand back and looked back at Ash. "So what are-"

                            "It's a native legend," answered Ash, jumping ahead of the question. "They say that long ago, there was a great city in this area. But there was a war - civil or against another great city, I've heard it both ways - and the people wanted to find a way to win it. Their trickster god - his image ain't here, showin' his face is supposedly brings his curse - offered a way to help. They found, or built, or summoned... it's an old legend, so the details are fuzzy... a great tower that would destroy their enemies. And it worked." Ash pointed at the last image. "It worked too well. They say the sun burned so hot, it scorched all the earth. Their water dried up, their crops died - both sides starved. And then great sandstorms came and buried everything they built."

                            Seres scratched her head. "I've never heard this before. Is it true?"

                            Serge gave a noncommital grunt. He wanted to ride around Ash and keep going, but there wasn't quite enough room. Bo, in the meantime, was waiting in the back for Ash's word.

                            Ash shrugged. "I don't know for sure. But I can tell you that there are no great cities around here, and a hell of a lot of sand." She flicked her reigns to get King moving again. "Come on. We've got a ways to go before dusk."

                            Finally, there was the tiny village they reached on the edge of the wastes - Outpost, the archetype of the nowhere-town. Once, it really had been an outpost, but the last soldiers had moved out a generation ago. What remained was the tiny settlement of their camp followers who, for whatever reason, had decided to stay and eke out a living on the edge of nothing. It always seemed like they were one bad growing season or bandit raid away from complete destruction, but somehow they held on year after year.

                            Picture Freewater, but with all the fat stripped away. There was a cluster of tiny farms around a couple public buildings and a well, and that was about it. This place survived on the stubbornness of its residents.

                            And that's where they found...
                            • ...the Old Hand, a veteran whose best days were behind him. They say old heroes never die - they just fade away. Well, this man was nearly faded to nothing, and I don't doubt that he'd have been forgotten completely if he hadn't become part of this story. But though his strength was nearly gone, his skills and his mind were still very, very sharp.
                            • ...the Wild Beast, a vicious outcast from society. And given how the society he came from was already a bunch of murderous cannibals, that should tell you something. Proud, strong, and cruel, he was the kind of man who either ends up becoming a warlord or dies at the hands of a mob. Today, it looked like it was going to be the latter.
                            • Something else?
                            Last edited by semicasual; 11-22-2016, 03:10 PM.

                            On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                            Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz


                            • Let's go with the Old Hand. Need someone to balance out the Youngblood's youth. And old war stories are the best stories.

                              I write things.


                              • OH MAN, this is so difficult... I WANT THEM ALL.

                                But I suppose I'll have to go with the

                                I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
                                I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero