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  • The Youngblood.

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    • The Youngblood.

      Edit: I would appreciate getting an elegant, finery appreciating person in our social circle at some point, but the tagalong kid is just a given.
      Last edited by Prometheus878; 11-02-2016, 01:14 AM.

      I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~


      • The opportunist because mayhem.


        • It was the Youngblood, a cocky girl who was just coming into her power and itching for a chance to use it. She jumped to her feet almost at once and wiped a bit of blood off her face with one sleeve. "You call that a punch!?" she screamed back into the doorway she had just come from. "My granny hits harder 'n that, 'n she's pushin' three hunnerd!"

          Imagine a girl in her late teens, tall for her age. Her skin is pale where it isn't sunburnt. She has very short platinum blond hair, shaved off everywhere except the top of her head. Piercing grey eyes frame a crooked nose - broken, and then not set properly when it healed. She has a wiry figure covered by ill-fitting worker's clothes, a drawstring bag on her back, no shoes, and rough hands like a boxer's.

          Now, imagine a mountain of a man, nearly as wide as he is tall. He has a sallow complexion. His beady eyes are sunk into a bald, round head stuffed into a short, round hat. He is wearing a suit that looks like it can barely contain him. One of his fists is bloody, and it's not his blood.

          The girl stood with one foot forward and her fists up, staring the big man down as he squeezed out the saloon door.

          "You just don't know when to shut up," growled the big man.

          "And you don't know when you're licked," said the girl.

          The big man laughed and stepped out into the street. "You're joking. You think you can fight me? I'll crush you like-"

          The girl threw a punch at the air. A streak of lightning flew from her fist across the empty street and blasted right through the big man's hat. An instant later, thunder boomed and echoed off the walls. A rush of wind briefly buffeted Ash and Bo.

          The big man flinched and froze in place like a rabbit that just spotted a hawk. He blinked to clear the flash from his eyes.

          "I'm givin' you one chance - say you're sorry!" the girl commanded.

          The big man was still in shock. He could smell smoke and feel a draft on his head. He turned slightly around and looked behind him to see his hat on the ground, a little bit on fire.

          "Hey! Fatso! I'm talkin' to you!"

          He turned back to the youngster and found her right in his face. The girl jabbed him in the stomach with one finger.

          "Say you're sorry and gimme my winnin's, or I'll beat you black 'n blue all over, see if I don't!"

          "I'm... sorry?" he answered, more confused than repentant.

          "Good. And the money?"

          The man's brain hadn't caught up with his tongue, unfortunately. "What money?"

          The girl jumped and raised her fist for a flying uppercut that caught the man in the jaw. He fell back, stunned, and she followed up with a roundhouse punch to the gut. The big man stumbled and fell flat on his back, crushing his hat underneath him.

          The victor, breathing heavily, took a moment to wipe the sweat off her brow. Then she stepped over the big man's body and went inside the saloon. A moment later she came back out, holding a wad of notes that she stuffed into her bag. She started to walk away, walking down the street like she had somewhere to be.

          "Miss Bo, would you kindly make sure that man's not dead?" said Ash, who had been silent up to this point.

          "Yes, mistress," said Bo, who immediately climbed off her mule and went to the fallen giant's side.

          Ash, for her part, gave King a nudge and trotted after the girl. They caught up to her quickly enough, in part because the girl slowed down and stopped to watch the sand-dragon approach.

          "Howdy!" said Ash, with a tip of her hat. "I'm Swifthand Ash. That was quite a show you put on, miss...?"

          The girl hesitated, then nodded. "Ja... Janev Seres. Are... are you really...?" She paused, then started again. "I mean... I read a book once..."

          Ash smiled. "'Swifthand, Legend of the Wild South?' Yup. That's me."

          Seres squealed and clapped her hands. "Oh, fates, I can't believe this! You're real! You're really real!"

          Ash's smile grew broader. "As real as you are. I'd like to buy you a beer, if you've got some time to spare." She looked back over her shoulder to the saloon down the street. A small crowd of people were milling around it and looking in their direction. "I know a place that should be less... busy."

          Seres agreed, and once Bo had rejoined them (with a favorable prognosis for the fellow Seres had dropped), they went together to a little hostel just outside of the town square. It was a quiet place with a sign out front depicting a chicken lying on its back - "The Lazy Rooster." Inside, the three of them gathered around a little table and traded stories.

          Seres became comfortable with Ash very quickly, and freely admitted that she was a runaway. Her blood had quickened the year before and, rather than go off to school or join the Legion, Seres had decided that she would sneak out of her family's home in the middle of the night. Then she ran all the way to the coast, stowed away on the first boat headed south, and gradually made her way to Roca Roja. She'd paid her way with a mixture of fighting, gambling, and theft, and had no particular goal in mind except to live wild and free. She had always enjoyed fighting, sports, and athletic exercises of all kinds, and loved being outside.

          "Heh. You're real, lucky, kid," commented Ash, as she sipped her beer.

          "Oh? How?" said Seres, her train of thought momentarily broken.

          "Well, you've done what most folks your age only dream of - all of a sudden, you've got powers, and then you're runnin' off to a life of adventure. Livin' the dream. It's like something out of a book. Which reminds me..." Ash put her drink down and looked Seres in the eye. "I meant to ask - why the frontier? You could've gone anywhere. But you're here, and if I may be so bold, you're speakin' the language like you've lived here all your life."

          Seres gave a nervous chuckle. "Well, I've got a little family history here. My uncle used to be a marshal, an' he brought back all kinds of stories. I got books, here 'n there... includin' yours... and well, I guess it just felt right."

          "And now? Is it everything you hoped for?"

          "Yes! There's no rules out here! I can go where I want, do what I want, and nobody tellin' me what to do." Seres' jubliant shouting echoed through the room. Other folks turned to look, shake their heads, and look away. Seres went on, a little more quietly. "The only thing I'm missing is a real adventure... I'd like people to tell stories about me, too, someday. But that day'll come. I know it."

          "Maybe sooner than you think. Listen..." Ash leaned over the table and gestured for Seres to come in close. Seres did, along with Bo. Ash made her pitch just above a whisper. "...I'm huntin' a very dangerous outlaw, goin' by 'He Who Sees With the Eyes of Death,' or 'Stitch-Eyes.' You might've seen some posters up for him."

          "Uh huh..." Seres nodded.

          "Thing is, I tussled with him once already and he almost killed me."

          Seres eyes widened.

          "I got a plan to take him down, but I'll need some help. You're young, but I can see a spark in you, and I think you might have what it takes."

          "I'm in," said Seres, without hesitation.

          Ash briefly paused to wonder why Seres hadn't asked if there was a reward, or what the details of the plan were, or for any other information at all before making her decision. Then she decided it didn't matter. "Alright, then." Ash sat back in her chair. "Well, the first step is puttin' a team together. Right now, it's just you, me, and Miss Bo here. I'm thinking' I'll grab one or two more people here in town, and there's a few more on the frontier I think'll be willin' and able to help."

          Bo spoke up now, having kept her silence up to this point. "Mistress Ash... how will we find these people?" Bo gave Seres the side-eye. "They cannot all be found on the street, surely."

          Seres looked taken aback, then harrumphed and crossed her arms.

          Ash shook her head. "Don't worry, we'll get the word out. Miss Janev, could I borrow one of those guild notes?"

          Seres looked at Ash with surprise. "What for?"

          Ash shrugged. "To pay our tab. Don't worry, I'll bring it right back."

          Seres seemed confused, but she rummaged around in her sack and pulled out a fistful of notes. She unpeeled one and hand it to Ash. Ash nodded and walked to the bar.

          "Clearing out your tab?" said the man at the bar. He was young, probably not the real owner of the bar, with curly hair and sleepy eyes.

          "Yup." Ash laid the bill down on the bar, but did not take her hand off it. The barman automatically reached for it, then realized that Ash wasn't letting go. He looked up at her with suspicion.

          "Now, wait. I got deal for you. Leave that bill where it is." Ash took her hand off the paper and took two steps back. "Now, hold your hand out over it."

          The barman was bewildered, but he did as instructed.

          "I'll bet you I can grab that bill before you do. If I can, my friends and I don't pay. If I lose, we'll pay double. What do you think?"She spoke louder than she needed to. The Rooster's other patrons turned to see what this latest disruption was. Seres got up from their table and took up watch at the end of the bar.

          The barman looked down at the bill, then at Ash, then at the bill again. "Miss, that's no contest. You're a mile away."

          Ash smirked. "Yeah." She felt the eyes of the whole room on her, and stuck her hands in her pockets. "You feelin' lucky?"

          The barman smiled back. "It ain't luck, but who am I to argue if you want to lose? You're on."

          "OK. We'll both go for it on the count of three. One... two... three!"

          The bartender's hand slapped down on to the bar. He looked up at Ash triumphantly, but then his face fell. Something didn't feel right. He looked down at the bar and lifted his hand. There was nothing under it.

          Ash pulled the bill out of her pocket. "Looks like I win." She smiled her showoff's smile.

          The barman laughed with disbelief. "What... how did...?"

          "I'm Swifthand Ash," she answered, talking loud enough for the room to hear. "The swiftest in the south. I'm lookin' for tough, brave souls to join me for a journey that will be very lucrative and very dangerous." Then she continued, more quietly. "Now, about our tab..."

          The barman sighed. "I suppose a deal's a deal..." He trailed off, shook his head, and waved her away.

          Ash walked back to her table. Seres followed. "I didn't even see you move!" she hissed. "How do you do that?"

          Ash maintained her self-assured smile. "That's a trade secret, Miss. Now, we've got business to take care of." She put her hand down on the table and looked at Bo. "Miss Bo, I'd like you to stay here, in case anyone comes lookin' for me. Miss Janev, you're comin' with me. We're goin'...
          • do some recruitin'."
          • get supplies."
          • gather gossip."
          • Something else?
          OOC Commentary
          Janev is a minor house on the Blessed Isle. They used to have strong investments in frontier mining operations, and several members of the family were Marshals at one time or another. But the mines are now closed, and no one has even considered Marshalling in the last twenty years. Even before the Empress vanished, House Janev was consolidating its resources, withdrawing their assets from abroad.

          Seres is not kidding about her granny. Janev "Thunderfist" Koju was one of the foremost wrestlers on the Blessed Isle in her heyday.
          Last edited by semicasual; 06-26-2017, 01:04 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


          • Do some recruiting!

            I write things.


            • Let's go shopping! Time to get supplies and see who comes out of the woodwork while we're at it. Besides, shopping always gives Swifthand opportunity to grow her legend.......


              • Gossip! What's new and juicy!

                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


                • OOC Commentary
                  Well well. A three way tie. What do I do with that?...

                  Oh well. Have some more headcanon:
                  Crime and punishment are necessarily kept simple on the frontier. Execution is almost always done by public hanging, and the only crimes that merit execution are rape and murder. Almost everything else is either managed through fines or punitive labor.

                  Kidnapping people and selling them into slavery outside the frontier has been known to happen - the Guild quietly supports human trafficking through shadowy proxies. Depending on who has been taken and how, this might or might not be perfectly legal.

                  Slavery is legal on the frontier as it is in the Realm, but as a practical matter almost no one keeps slaves - there simply isn't enough infrastructure to chase runaways or suppress revolts. Slaves are most commonly captured natives or their descendants.

                  Firedust is the frontier's biggest export. Firedust weapons are common in part because Dust is comparatively cheap in this region. Dust-scouting and mining can be a very lucrative trade for experts, of which there are few, and almost all of them members of the Guild. The Guild can and will push independent prospectors off of their claims if given the chance.

                  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'll break the tie with Gather Gossip. We might hear some things about where to find posse candidates and supplies, along with some other things ta'boot.

                    (Also, pay the barman under the table with Ash's own money, and thank him for being a good sport.)

                    I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~


                    • Oh, and for those of you wondering who might have taught Ash that little trick:

                      I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~


                      • "We're going to gather gossip."

                        A short while later, Ash and Seres reached the town square. The gallows, low as it was, seemed to cast a long shadow.

                        Ash looked up at the sky, guaging the position of the sun. "'s about that time of day," she said, after finishing some calculations in her head. "You see that message board over there?"

                        Ash pointed at a broad, wooden sign at the foot of the gallows. Seres nodded. "Yeah, that's where bounties 'n stuff are put up."

                        "That's right. Now, every Marsday at about this time, a town clerk will come out here and shuffle the notices. Tear down the old ones, put new ones up. And then..." Ash gestured at a loose group of men and women loitering around the square. "...the flock comes in. They're bounty hunters, traders lookin' for tips, exiles waitin' for news... People who like to stay aware of what's goin' on. I'd like you to talk to 'em."

                        "Why're we doin' this again?" asked Seres. She was intrigued, but she'd also been hoping for something more exciting.

                        Ash shrugged. "Just to get the lay of the land. Somebody might know where Stitch-Eyes is now. Or maybe there'll be somebody interested in hunting him down. Or maybe you'll learn somethin' else. I dunno - keep your ears open."

                        "An' what'll you be doin'?"

                        "I'm goin' to buy liquor for an old buddy of mine - hold up. Here comes the clerk."

                        A little round man in a brown suit came around the side of the governor's mansion with a sheave of paper in one hand and a large basket in the other. The crowd of loiterers watched him quietly as he approached the board, set down his things, and set about removing notices. He took an adze and meticulously pulled out the nails holding each message in place. He swapped the old notices for the new ones in his basket, then hammered the latest onto the board with the same nails he'd just removed and the same adze he'd used to remove them. Folks started gathering around to see what the clerk was putting up.

                        Ash patted Seres' shoulder. "You should get goin'. I'll meet you back here."

                        Once again, Seres was perplexed. But, once again, she went along with what Ash asked.

                        In the meantime, Ash went to Roca Roja's Guild bank and withdrew some of her modest savings. Bounty hunting could pay well, but it was also a costly profession, what with long stretches between paydays and the cost of equipment. Ash reckoned she spent more money on dust than on all her other expenses combined. Anyway, she didn't have much set by, but she took what she could and hoped it would be enough. It was certainly enough for a bottle of cheap wine.

                        Renbud was in his usual spot - dozing on the porch in front of Nehpet's Wholesale Cloth & Tailoring. The retired rancher was laid out in a big wicker chair with his hat over his face. Ash stepped onto the porch and walked around to Renbud's side. When Renbud didn't respond to Ash's footsteps, she cleared her throat, and then finally said "Hey! Renbud! wake up!"

                        Renbud gave a start and sat up. His hat fell away from his face, exposing bleary eyes, unkempt facial hair, and a dazed expression. "Wuzzah?"

                        "It's me, Ash. I just got back in town and thought I'd say hi."

                        Renbud turned to look at her. Recognition sank in, and he smiled. "Well, howdy, 'Swifthands'. Feels like it's been ages."

                        "Maybe just one age. An age and a half." Ash smiled back. "Here. I brought you this."

                        Renbud took the bottle from her extended hand and looked at it. "Heh. Ol' Santon's swill. How did you know?"

                        "Call it a lucky guess."

                        Renbud chuckled and reached into his pocket. He withdrew a crude corkscrew - just a nail stuck through a wooden peg - and started working it into the stopper. "So, what's goin' on in the wide world, Ash?"

                        Ash leaned against the wall of the shop. "Oh, the usual. The frontier's goin' to the dogs, and only I can stop the worst of 'em from tearin' it apart."

                        "You huntin' anyone in particular?"

                        "Yup. They call 'em Stitch-Eyes."

                        Renbud stopped what he was doing to give Ash a wide-eyed stare. "...I admire your notion of fair odds," he said, finally. "But that man's worth six hundred dinars. And I got a friend in the clerk's office says he's goin' to seven. They're sayin' he killed another Marshal."

                        "Really? It was five hundred, last I saw. The man's climbin' fast."

                        "Ash, I mean it. Stay away from that one. Or if you do go, make sure you've got an army behind you."

                        Ash took off her hat and looked away. "...I'm puttin' a group together. But that's not what I wanted to talk about."

                        "Yeah?" Renbud went back to fiddling with the cork. "What do you want to hear from an old man who ain't gone nowhere in years?"

                        "Old stories. I was wondering if you ever heard anythin' about a gentleman with no eyes."

                        "No eyes?"

                        "No eyes at all, stitched or otherwise."

                        Renbud sucked on his teeth. " eyes...gentleman... is he handsome?"

                        Ash frowned. "Maybe. Why?"

                        "Eh, I'm just rememberin' an old story. How'd that go..." Renbud trailed off as he finally popped the cork look. He took sip from the bottle and smacked his lips. "My pa was still alive the last time I heard it. The legend was, if you said the right prayers, a eyeless, handsome, well-dressed man would come to you in your dreams and give you anythin' you wanted. Money, lovers, a nice house - he'd get it for you. Pa told me that he'd tried it himself once. All four of my uncles did too, but nobody ever answered..."

                        Renbud paused, then shivered, then took a long drink. Ash looked at him with concern. "Is somethin' wrong?"

                        Renbud's expression soured. "It's just an old, unhappy memory. It's nothin'."

                        Ash thought differently. "Does it have somethin' to do with the gentleman we're discussin'?"

                        Now it was Renbud's turn to look away. "Naw, not really. It's just..." he grimaced. "...When I was twelve, there was... well. We used to all live on a big farm a ways southwest of here. And we had a neighbor, the Drallob family. One day..." He stopped to take in a breath. "My sister and I went to the Drallob's place to see if we could trade a bit of food for medicine for our pigs. Mister Drallob knew something about herbs, you see. But when we came to their farm, it was awful quiet. No animals in the yard. No people around. And when we got to the door, a man we didn't know opened it up for us. He had... wild eyes..." Renbud took in a deep breath. "He told us that Mister Drallob was away for a bit, but he would be back soon, and we could wait inside if we wanted. I told him no. I didn't like the way he was looking at my sister. We left, and we got back home safe, but I felt like I was being chased the whole way."

                        He turned back to Ash. "A month later, we heard that Marshal Eicus - he was more of a hands-on sort back then - had been to the Drallob farm and found the whole lot of them dead. They were butchered and hung up in the smoking house like... like livestock. So of course he grabbed the man who'd been living in their house and took him back to Roca Roja. At trial, the man confessed. Said that a gentleman with no eyes made him do it. Eicus decided that the man was crazy, and had him hung."

                        Ash adjusted her ponytail. "And that was it? Nobody looked further into it?"

                        Renbud shook his head. "You can try asking the Marshal, but I don't believe anybody did. What was there to look for?"

                        "Maybe the restless dead touched that man. Or he tried to call on evil spirits. For sure, it seems strange that a stranger would just turn up, kill a bunch of people, and eat them."

                        Renbud shuddered again. "I'm sure Eicus knew what he was doin'. Can we talk about somethin' else?"

                        Ash shrugged and gave up. They spent another hour chatting about Renbud's favorite subject - horses - before the wine started getting to his head and he dozed off. Ash left Renbud to his beauty sleep and walked back to the town square.

                        Seres had been pacing around the perimeter. She practically ran at Ash the moment they saw each other. When Seres was close enough, she said "Look what I found!", before Ash could say hello. She waved a piece of paper in front of Ash's face.

                        Ash's hand snapped up to grab the paper and hold it steady. It read: "AUCTION: The possessions and estate of the late SILIKES DILATRO to be sold at SANTA MELA TOWN HALL. All comers welcome." The announcement was followed bya short, generalized list of goods (clothing, furnishings, livestock, etc.) and the date of the event.

                        "I know Dilatro! Or, well, I know of 'em," said Seres, smiling broadly. "He was the only son of Marshal Silikes Dolh. I'll bet there'll be all kinds of relics at this auction."

                        "Huh." Ash held onto the notice until Seres took the hint and let go. Ash folded the paper up and slipped it into her pocket. "Might be worth lookin' into."

                        "It gets better! I found someone who'd like to join us?"

                        Ash looked up with a mixture of curiosity, hope, and concern. "Who's that, then?"

                        Seres gestured to the gallows steps. There was someone sitting there. They rose as if on que and approached Ash and Seres. They were...
                        • The Opportunist, a woman plainly out for the reward. She tugged on the lapels of her coat with gloved hands. "Salutations, Ash. I never took you for the recruiting type. But I suppose you'd have to, if you want to land the biggest scores." When she smiled, two of her teeth were jade. "So, what's it going to be? Seven hundred, split four ways?"
                        • The Impostor, a man who was not what he claimed to be. He raised his hand to his weather-beaten hat in an approximation of a salute and smiled. "Marshal Tepet Serge, ma'am. You want to bring in an outlaw, I'm your man." He had a confident swagger, and the Marshal's shield on his chest looked real enough, but Ash could tell right away that there was something... off... about how he carried himself.
                        • Something else?
                        OOC commentary
                        Yes, this is the same "opportunist" from earlier. To spoil the system a little, I came up with 7 different characters who could join the party, and you'll be given the chance to pick 4 of them. Each time, you'll have a binary choice like this. If you'd like to write in a character instead, or if you think both choices are awful, you can take advantage of the "something else?" option.

                        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


                        • Impostor. Can't expect the kid to get it right on her first outing.
                          Last edited by wonderandawe; 11-08-2016, 08:38 PM.

                          I write things.


                          • I vote for the Impostor!

                            Are you in the market for some Martial Arts? Perhaps some custom Artifacts for your campaign?


                            • ... Dang it, I want a fancy-pants person on the team, but the Imposter must have a good story to tell! How can someone be spoiled for choice when there's only two choices?!

                              I'm feeling bluuuueeeee~


                              • Yeah, Imposter.

                                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