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  1. #1
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is online now Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    The World of Emporium: Harmony Point

    The World of Emporium: Harmony Point

    A letter sent to Emit Shornoc, the High Chronicler of Rekōdo...


    Vester Irwin Plundell Administrator of the Harmony Point Historical Archivists Association



    Dear Emit,

    I'm glad you asked for this primer on Harmony Point. When viewed in chronological order, in the historical archives, the whole matter can look like quite the confusing mess (except for Merryweather's volumes, I simply adore her analysis of the regions genealogical history, it reads like poetry).

    I will try to give you the overview of the history and local culture that you'll need before delving in.

    To begin, the region has always been a highly disputed territory on the Maginus and Da'Jinn border. Disputed because it is the location of the largest known deposits of Desert Diamonds (or as some of the locals call them: Mirage-stones). If you had studied your geology, you would know these gems are an excellent source of magical energy. They make potent spell ingredients, components in arcane item creation, or a handy source of a power jolt for a spell caster in need of a boost. Conversely these diamonds are incredibly hazardous to mine. In their natural, uncut state they can often times project their magical energy in the form of random illusions (hence the nickname of "Mirage-stones"). These illusions can make the diamond mine extremely perilous.

    How perilous? We recently had quite the disaster here. It resulted in some parts of the mines collapsing, many miners dead, and a fire in a local arcana refinery. All told, the town suffered terrible casualties. The mines can be a tragic business, as I'm sure your research will show you.

    But enough of our local tragedies. You're here for a primer, not the tales of woe from my little, faraway outpost. (Though, I am told the mines will soon become quite safer, as the mining commission has hired an alchemical company to produce mechanical workers. Automatons. Can you imagine such creatures mining? Utterly fantastic!)

    During the Great War, Maginus and Da'Jinn fought quite viciously over this sliver of land. The province that could control the mines would gain a vast source of magical power, something that was desperately needed during the height of the War. This small territory traded hands so many times during the War that switching which province's banners hung in the town square was an almost daily ritual (or so the locals claim).

    Eventually, the Great War ended and the true battle began: the negotiations of the new provincial borders. Many thought the debates and cutthroat bargains involved in settling what territory belonged to which Guild would have resulted in a whole new Great War. The territory of the Desert Diamond mines was one piece of land that neither Maginus nor Da'Jinn would part with. The magic hidden in those mines would do much to aid in rebuilding their war-ravaged lands.

    In an effort to make progress, and prevent the matter from devolving back into open warfare, King Heron forged a compromise. The disputed territory would be made into a royal settlement of the kingdom of Rekōdo, however, the kingdom could not partake in the profit or power of the diamonds mined from the land. This allowed Rekōdo to act as an impartial overseer of the land. As for Maginus and Da'Jinn, they would both be given equal shares of the diamonds produced in the mines, but only if they allowed Rekōdo to control the territory.

    By some miracle, Master Darmon and Mistress Jinai both agreed to this. Lair'Don must have been smiling upon that negotiation chamber on that day, my friend. Or, as some locals would claim, Darmon and Jinai simply knew they did not have the forces needed to take the mines through battle. They agreed to this deal in order to buy time, to regain their strength, and prepare for a new attempt to take this territory. Or they decided to utilize more underhanded methods of claiming control of the mines. Those two Guild Masters are quite clever and devious in their ways, I would suspect that they do indeed have secret strategies in place to gain control of this town and our mines.

    Oh, listen to me go on about such fanciful things. Small town life can do this to you, my friend. It makes you as bad as those gossips that used to annoy me so much back in school.

    With this new status quo established, and the disputed territory made into an independent patch of land that was only beholden to the rule of the crown, the small mining town began to flourish. This tiny town gradually blossomed into the hardy little burg that is now known as Harmony Point.

    Harmony Point is quite the marvelous little oddity. An odd melding of Maginus and Da'Jinn settlers that have developed a culture quite unlike either province. The inhabitants of the town have dealt with the invasions of both sides, and the hardships they all endured during such attacks has made many of them more loyal to their fellow townspeople rather than their homelands.

    The town is also a hub for those seeking to make their fortunes here. Working in the mines, engaging in diamond trade, or simply providing much needed services and goods for the workers and traders all provide ample pay for anyone with ambition and the fortitude. This promise of good pay, and potentially the ability to amass a fortune, has drawn people from every corner of our continent to Harmony Point. A miner that discovers a new and large vein of Desert Diamonds can retire off of the bonus offered by the mining commission. Traders that find new routes to take the ever valuable gems to new corners of Rekōdo can also become quite wealthy in no time at all. Someone opening a new shop or other business that fills some need not otherwise being fulfilled might find themselves extremely successful entrepreneur.

    At least that is the promise of Harmony Point. True, a few do achieve such successes. However, many do not. This is a harsh place. If one is able to put forth a titanic effort into their work they will succeed, those that cannot will be chewed up by this place. At the very least, hard work will earn a settler respect, which by itself can be a valuable commodity in this place.

    Harmony Point can indeed be dangerous. Not only in the depths of the trickster-mines, but also above ground. The promise of fortune not only draws in the legitimate enterprises, but the illegal as well. Bandits and raiders often seek to pillage the town or the mines. They either ride in from the deserts of Da'Jinn, or down from the hills of Maginus. On rare occasions criminals from further away will make the long journey here to seek their own chance to take what others have earned through toil.

    Thankfully, our little town is defended by a genuine sheriff of the crown, and a band of able bodied deputies. It should also be noted that the townspeople are a rather scrappy bunch that have no qualms with taking up arms and protecting themselves.

    It seems my little primer has become somewhat romantic, with talk of bandits, heroic lawmen, brave townspeople, etc. I am afraid I have come to love this little town. Though, perhaps a trip back home to Rekōdo will do me some good, and help me to shake off these bad habits. At the very least I will get to see how well the position of High Chronicler suits you (I am guessing very well).

    I do hope this primer is of some use, my friend.

    Enjoy your research. May your library always grant you the answers your soul shall forever crave.


    Your eternal friend, Vester Irwin Plundell

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    Harmony Point Index

    Chapter 1: Welcome to Harmony Point
    Pages 1 - ?

  3. #3
    Harmony Point: The Diamond Saloon

    Silenha.jpg

    Silenha, Head of Mankato Ranch, Castillo Rockwell, Tender, Artor Lawe, Rekōdo Marshall



    A Qirin was roped outside the Diamond Saloon[/URL] and such a sight meant one of two things. The first and the most likely being that Silenha Mak'ato was in town and unhappy. Extremely so. She never, ever set foot inside the saloon during peak hours unless she had someone specific to find and they were squatted in one of the tall stools nursing a drink at the bar or hunched over a set of cards in their hand at one of the gambling tables. The second, and less likely of the two options is that she was thirsty. Or lonely.

    The batwing doors being shoved open weren't given much notice at first. They swung hotly back on themselves with a clatter before shuddering closed. She was halfway across the room and over to the bar before they finally closed. It was only after she'd stalked by the many gambling tables loaded with drink, gambles and grungy men that they began to notice her. She was not a common occurrence here. When she turned over the contents of a bloodied bag onto the bar top directly in front of the Rekōdo Marshal, then people began to notice her. Very few people could claim to get a jump out of the good Marshal. She was one of them. Dumping a severed, hornless head out of a Qirin was one way to do it.

    "Liar'Adon's dust!"

    The Marshall's curse momentarily paused the games in the direct vicinity of the bar. He pushed his barstool back angrily and flung his arms back to avoid getting carcass bits in his drink which was still quite full. The other tried and failed miserably to wipe the blood spots off his coat and shirt.

    "What in Creation's name is the matter with you!?"

    "Six, Artor" she spat at his and pointed with the hand that clutched the blood-soaked bag to the head on the counter. "This is the sixth raid on my property this month. Six in one month, Artor. I won't have it!"

    "It's Marsh-"

    "You get your name when you do your job. My Qirin are dying, Artor. What are you and your fancy deputy doing about it?”

    "And yet you call Starling ’Deputy’?"

    "He's earned it. He’s tried, however unsuccessfully, to talk to the Da’Jinn bandits that keep raiding my ranch."

    The Marshall ran a weathered hand down his face and the length of his beard.

    "Look, Sil-"

    The batwing doors burst open and a man with a large top hat and a medical bag came rushing in. His other hand reached up to keep the alchemical spectacles perched on his hat from falling.

    "Cas? Cas! Where's the Marshall? There's a trail of blood-"

    His finger pointed out the blood trail and followed it to the bar top as he spoke. The doctor's jaw fell open.

    "What in Deanna's starry heavens that!? And why is it on Cas's bar?"

    The Marshall Lawe gestured to Silenha who had taken to crossing her arms across her chest.

    "That's a good question, Doc. Perhaps the good lady here can answer that for you."

    Silenha's hazel eyes glared angrily at the Marshall.

    "It's evidence to the crime committed against my ranch.”

    "Again?"

    "Sixth time this month.”

    "You don't say." The doctor peered curiously at the Qirin's bloodied head. He looked carefully to the arteries that had been severed, the dermal layering of the skin beneath the scales on the neck and the muscle's connective tissues. "Shame, that. Shouldn't the Marshall do something about this?"

    "Don't encourage her, Doc."

    A round of whistles and applause signaled another show finished upon the painted wooden stage of the saloon. Several women with feathers in their hair and stockings rolled up to their thighs amid frilly dancing dressed giggled and waved as they scuttled haphazardly stage left. A man cam rushing back behind the bar. He lifted the sectional of the bar up and dropped it back down. He turned around to face the Marshall with a ridiculous grin on his handsome face. His long, dark hair was tied back in a gentleman's ponytail at the base of his skull and, like the doctor, his mustaches was manicured into a fine twist at its ends. His pristine white shirt was as flawless as his looks. He moved effortlessly as a man who knew his trade better than most to the various liquors stocked on the mirrored shelves behind the bar.

    "How's the scotch, Marshall? Do you need a refill yet or-"

    Something in the mirror caught his eye and the tender wheeled around.

    "Liar'Adon's ghost!" he yelled and gestured dramatically to his lacquered, wooden bar top. His deep brown eyes looked widely around for an explanation. He found Silenha and his upturned, questioning hands moved toward her.

    "Sil!" he shouted. "What is this? What is it doing on my bar?"

    "Marshall's slacking on the job."

    Marshall Lawe took a long pull of his scotch.

    "Doc, I swear, if you weren't our only physician, I'd-"

    "Sixth raid this month on the ranch" the Doctor interjected.

    Castillo blinked.

    "Doc" he said with a recovering nod. "Didn't see you come in."

    The Doctor shrugged indifferently as he leaned further over to study the head on the bar top.

    "Just followed the trail of blood, Cas."

    Castillo made a face at the trail coming into his saloon from outside.

    "Just make sure you clean up your mess before you leave, Marshall."

    Artor sat up and looked at Castillo and opened his mouth to yell at the tender, but the man had moved on and moved with a look of disgust around the severed Qirin head to be closer to Silenha. With the dead head behind him, he leaned casually on the bar and gave Silenha a debonair smile. Silenha had begun adjusting the strap that ran cross-wise across her chest. Behind her, her glaive shifted and moved with her adjustments.

    "Sil."

    She gave him a nod without looking at him.

    "Cass."

    He wiped the countertop with a stray bar rag. He looked up at her with his dark eyes as he did so.

    "You know, I was thinking-"

    "No."

    "Since you're down one less horse-thing-"

    "I said no."

    "-and your miner-kid orphan ratio is at an all-time high-"

    "Not interested."

    "Maybe we could take a moonlight ride out on one of your pastures and-"

    "I said 'Not interested'."

    "The desert blossoms are beautiful this time of year-"

    "You need to shave."

    Castillo looked taken aback.

    "I- what?"

    "Between the beard and the mustache, your face looks like it adopted a Da'Jinn beggar."

    Cas turned around to look at his face in one of the bar shelf mirrors. He rubbed his beard and examined the fine points of his mustache for any flaws. He found none and turned in hurt to look at her.

    "It does not" he muttered, affronted.

    The Marshall laughed at that and pointed a pistol finger at the hurt bartender. He made a shooting motion and a soft "pew" with his lips before he laughed again and drank from his scotch. Silenha was done here.

    "Enjoy the carcass, Doc. I've no use for it anymore."

    The doctor looked up from his study and afforded her a smile.

    "Good to see you, Silenha. Say hello to my future apprentice for me."

    Artor looked into his glass thoughtfully.

    "Miss Mak'ato."

    He gave her a nod.

    "Marshall."

    One which she returned before she turned and headed out the batwing doors. She had to side-step so that Deputy Lucius Starling could slide by her and enter the saloon. The tanned man tipped his black hat formally to her with the other hadn to the lapel of his long trench coat.

    "Miss Mak'ato."

    She nodded to him as he turned and went inside.

    "Marshall, what happened in here?" she heard him ask as the batwing doors swung shut behind her.

    The air was dusty but brilliantly bright outside. Large, fairweather clouds were beginning to clutter together on the horizon, but here, above Harmony Point, they floated lazily by and casually observed the goings-on down below on the terrain. Natsalane waited for her outside. The large Qirin was untethered and raised its head proudly at the sight of her. Its main, tail and hind accents blended from a crimson red to a beautiful blue. its yellow-golden scales glistened in the mid-day sunlight. The divining horn on its head held a slight opal shine to the white bone. She held a hand out and the Qirin nuzzled its horse-like muzzle into her palm. It snorted lightly and its deep golden eyes regarded her as if silently asking her something.

    "The Marshall is a good man" she said gently as she stroked the nose of the Qirin. "He'll help us figure something out."
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 11-13-2017 at 08:09 PM.
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  4. #4
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is online now Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Xal Qwaring



    The Mines...


    Xal tugs on the stubborn trunk and finally slides it free from the wagon. The back half of the trunk freefalls for an instant before stomping into the dusty road. When the wagon had shown up at the train station to give Xal an urgently required ride from the station all the way to the mines, there had been a pair of sturdy workers to aid in the loading of the trunk. Now that the wagon, trunk, and Xal are here at the mines those two workers have seemingly melted away into the throngs of miners, clerks, and general workers that flows through this place like blood through the veins of a great beast.

    Xal looks upon the mining complex for the first time. In the center is a large formation of titanic rocks sitting in a bed of desert sand. From this distance the massive rock formation looks like a giant squatting goblin half buried in the sand. Surrounding it all is a nest of utilitarian buildings for offices, workshops, storage, worker refuges, and material processing. There are mine cart tracks, pipes of large machines, and rivers of workmen feeding into the hungry maw of the mines located at the base of the rock formation.

    To Xal it all looks like some massive machine, with thousands of miniature mechanisms performing their individual operations, all dedicated towards the purpose of the whole assembled device. He can't help but grin at how efficiently this place operates.

    If only the duo of workers that had brought him here had not vanished, then Xal would not need to tug this large chest, containing all of his worldly possessions, around this very busy place.


    "You the Taroc mechanic?" a gruff voice asks. The voice could easily be confused for a chef trying to stir a bowl of gravel into some kind of jelly. Xal turns to see a large and somewhat hunched over man with a very dusty workers uniform fit over his wide frame. His face wears years of sun, hard work, and angry shouting upon ever inch of his harsh, wrinkled features.

    "Yes, sir," Xal offers with a smile. He holds his hand out to the man. "Xal Qwaring. I just arrived, and the men said I was needed at the mines right away."

    "Yeah, I'm Roald, foreman," the hunched man replies, while taking out a rag to wipe away a layer of dusted sweat from his forehead. Xal's extended hand seems to go unnoticed by the man. "Did you bring tools? If you didn't we can supply you some, but we'd have to take that out of your pay."

    "Yes, sir," Xal pats a bag slung over his shoulder. "I have my tools here."

    "Uh huh," Roald replies as he eyes Xal's large trunk. "You can leave that stuff here, I'll get someone to put it into your workspace for you. In the meantime we've got an auto-unit down in shaft sixteen."

    "Auto-unit?" Xal repeats. "I'm guessing that's one of your automatons."

    "This unit wasn't assigned to a squad," Roald says, as if Xal hadn't said anything worth replying to. The hunched over man begins walking towards the mines. Xal, gives one last worried glance towards his chest before abandoning it and following after the foreman. "We got some of the autos working alone to run cables down through the tunnels. No need to risk any men for that."

    "I see," Xal offers, but is getting the sense that he could say anything at this point and the foreman is so entirely focused on keeping this vast machine running that he can't acknowledge anything else. Eventually, they arrive at the entrance of one of the large mines.

    "Normally a squad will carry a broken down auto-unit back up for repairs. Or for a lone unit like this we get a nearby squad to get it. There ain't no one else in shaft sixteen right now. So we need to send a mechanic in to sort things out."

    "Um- Certainly you already have a mechanic that could do this- You see, I haven't had the chance to unpack or-" Xal begins, but is distracted by the sight of two miners carrying a stretcher between them. On the stretcher is a moaning man in a mechanics uniform holding onto his heavily bandaged and bloodied side.

    "You got some of that Taroc sight, right?" the foreman asks the now distracted and somewhat worried Xal. "You can see through this mirage hoodoo, or something?"

    "Uh- I can sense patterns," Xal replies as he tears his attention away from the seemingly mortally wounded mechanic that is being carried off towards a medical building. Xal definitely senses a pattern to one terribly wounded mechanic being carried out of the mine, while Xal is being sent into that same mine.

    "Patterns?" Roald finally halts his own inner workings and tries to solve the puzzle being presented to him. His features bend into a confused mass of wrinkles.

    "I've studied every mine schematic and researched the principles of mining and tunneling," Xal confidently informs the man. "Between my knowledge and my divining power I can safely navigate these mines blindfolded."

    "Sure thing, kid," the foreman replies with a chuckle. He unclips a spare helmet from his belt and hands it to Xal. Xal notices a small lamp bolted onto the front of the helmet, and a dent already on the crown. "Use the helmet light if it gets dark. One click lights it up or turns it off. Three clicks will activate Astral ghost light, which can sometimes cut through illusions. Don't use the ghost light too much, it doesn't always work and it burns up a lot of oil."

    Roald reaches into his pocket and recovers a small pad of forms linked to a pen by a string. He drops the pad and pen into the helmet Xal holds. "Go down there, find the unit down in shaft sixteen, junction eight-C. The unit you're looking for is designated Henry-six. It'll say its designation on the identifier plate on its chest. Fix old H-six up as best you can, fill out the forms for our maintenance records, and then head back up."

    "What if the unit can't be fixed down there?" Xal asks, wanting to know how to proceed if he finds the automaton is far too damaged to be fixed in the mine.

    "Then you come back up here, and I take men and another unit away from more important tasks, and they carry the broken unit back up here. We lose manpower, and lose the money they would have made us working in the mines."

    Xal nods to the foreman. He tucks the pad and pen into a vest pocket, and slips the helmet onto his head. He can feel the dent resting against his scalp. The foreman ever so briefly grins at Xal, pats him on the shoulder.

    "Good luck down there, kid," Roald wishes to him, before the call of more urgent crises draws him away from Xal and the mine. The hunched over foreman stomps his way off towards the administration building.

    Xal gives one last glance towards his trunk, which is still sitting in the spot he left it. There's a flash of disappointment that no progress has been made to secure his belonging. With a deep sigh, Xal decides to earn his pay and focus on his job. He turns around and heads into the mine.

  5. #5
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    Wiatt Faulk



    Inside the Diamond Saloon...


    "Seven in one month!?" Wiatt cries out as wakes up. Wiatt sits at a table several yards away from where the Marshall is. Up until now, he had been lying on the table, passed out from an early morning of heavy drinking. In fact, his startled return to awareness knocks over a couple emptied bottles that sit on his table.

    Wiatt Faulk is a worn down man with dark hair and a perpetually baffled and unshaved face. The air around him is thick with the scent of the alcohol he regularly drowns himself in. His clothes are old and appear to have lived through a rough few years. If one looks close enough at this intoxicated man they might see brief flashes of awareness and greater understanding, but these could just be the odd facial ticks of the town drunk as he descends further into an alcohol induced stupor.

    Wiatt looks around at the saloon, as if confused by it. Gradually, he turns himself until he is facing the Marshall and his deputy.


    "Seven raids?" Wiatt slurs out. It sounds as if his words are still in the process of waking up, and lazily stumble out into the world. "That's a lot- a lot of raid'n, an' not 'nough Marshallin'. We need some, maybe, more Marshalls or mebbe less months."

    Wiatt turns away from the Marshall, and looks at the couple that sits across the table from him. He shakes his head and comments to the man and woman, "Seven!"

    The drunkard then realizes that there are indeed two people sitting at the table with him. He's not quite sure why that is.

    "So what's yur story?"

    The man and woman look at each other, eternally baffled by the drunk. The man and woman are barely into their twenties. The man is a modestly dressed clerk from the local bank. He holds the hand of the woman. She is in a simple peach colored dress and a pale ivory bonnet. The clerk eventually turns his now frustrated focus back to Wiatt.

    "We're paying you to predict the best date for our wedding," the clerk angrily replies to Wiatt.

    "What? We agreed to talk 'bout that at noon. Yur a bit early, aren't you?"

    "Noon was two hours ago!" the woman snaps at Wiatt. "You passed out halfway though your prediction."

    "Oh," Wiatt replies as he falls into a ponderous silence. His quiet contemplation drifts over to a fourth of a glass of whiskey sitting on the table. He picks up the glass, and gulps down much of its contents. Wiat closes his eyes and rests the nearly emptied glass against a cheek, as he appears to once again lose contact with the waking world.

    The man and woman look at each other. Both reaching the limits to how much of this drunk's antics they can endure. Then they rise and take the first few steps on their attempt to storm off.


    "The second week of spring," Wiatt mutters. The clerk and woman halt several paces away from the table. They both turn to cautiously look at the drunk. "I'm seeing the second week of spring. There will be rain a few days before, so yur family can take the train in from Elve and Palios. It'll rain at the end of the week, so they can head home b'fore you can get sick of 'em. But during that week, it'll be sunshine. It'll be beautiful."

    Wiatt's eyes drift open. He lowers his glass down to the table and looks to the couple. His eyebrows give a triumphant wiggle to them.

    The man and woman look at each other, trying to read each others reaction to this drunken prophecy. Gradually, they begin whispering and muttering. Plans are made, schedules take shape, and over the course of a very few minutes their notions for a wedding becomes something quite real for them both. The joy and cheer begins to overtake them.

    The woman rushes over to Wiatt and gives him a kiss on his stubble covered cheek.


    "Thank you," she tells him as she rises away from the stench of the whiskey it smells like Wiatt has bathed in.

    "Spring is perfect," the clerk cheerfully tells Wiatt. He then pulls several gold coins out of his pocket and places them on Wiatt's table. "Thank you."

    Wiat scoops up the coins. He grins and nods at the happy couple as they rush off to begin planning for their future together. The prophetic town drunk triumphantly rises from his table, and begins to stagger his way over to the bar. There he will spend his coins on the only substance that allows him to reach the mental state needed to receive prophetic visions: alcohol.

  6. #6
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    Ingall



    Outside of the Diamond Saloon...


    Silenha's words to her Qirin are soon replied to.

    "Perhaps it's not a good man that can help you?"

    The words are spoken by a slender man with very short hair, and a desert battered dark military uniform. The uniform is of old Maginus. The uniform of cavalrymen. Something worn horseback sorcerers as they rained death upon the Taroc countryside.

    Sheathed on his hip is a short sword. The hilt and handle of the weapon appears entirely untouched by the dust that the desert has powdered this mans clothes with. The blade of the weapon is sheathed and is only as long as a man's forearm.

    The man is Ingall. He arrived in town late last year. At that time he was one of the many mercenaries that the mining commission regularly pours in from all over Rekōdo. The commission employs a small army of mercenaries in order to protect the mines from raiders. For many months Ingall had been one such protector of the mines.

    It's not known why the Maginus man was fired. Rumored whispers tell of him trying to pocket some of the mines diamonds for himself. The mining commission rarely shows mercy to employees that steal diamonds. It's said that Ingall had to fight his way to escape the mining complex, as the commission sent his fellow mercenaries to extract vengeance. Ingall managed to escape, and has been haunting around town ever since.

    No one is quite sure what he's been doing since then. Though, it's probably no coincidence that he seems to come into money whenever some dispute gets solved through violent sorcery and bloodshed. The Marshall has yet to prove that the mercenary has been involved with any fighting or deaths.

    Ingall boldly approaches Silenha. He grins at her, drinking in the sight of her like a desert weed welcoming the rain.


    "Surely, a lady, such as yourself, could use an able bodied man to help protect that lonesome ranch of yours," Ingall offers. "The Marshall is a tired, old man. The bandits don't fear him any more. What you need is someone that can make them feel fear again."

  7. #7
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    Xal Qwaring



    The Mines...


    The upper levels of the mine are well-travelled territory. They have long since been picked clean of the extremely valuable Desert Diamonds. Now they simply act as the bridge between the dusty, sun-baked surface world, and the dark, mirage-haunted tunnels.

    As Xal makes his way through the large upper passages of the mines, he feels out of place. He wears one of his few remaining suits. Obviously he had expected to have a day to settle in at town, and sought to look his best when making every first impression he could in one day. Now he's the best dressed mechanic hopping over cart rails, and dodging stone-filled carts and throngs of busy workers. Xal tugs away his bow tie, and stuffs it into his suit jacket pocket.

    Xal notices patches nailed to the stone walls. Hundreds of patches. Many have threads or torn fabric attached to them, as if they had been torn off of garments. The mechanic takes a closer look at these patches. They have the mining commission logo and Guild symbols or sometimes the symbol of Rekōdo city. There are patches from every province here. Hundreds of them. Hung up on display right near the entrance/exit of the mines. Xal continues past the walls of patches, unsure of what they are meant to symbolize.

    He pauses as he sees a trio of automatons marching by. Two of the mechanical men carries a cart filled with stones imbedded with sparkling diamonds. The diamonds are the color of opals, but transparent like glass. There's a hazy glow about the precious stones. However, Xal pays little attention to the fortune of diamonds the machines carry. He is instead fascinated by the automatons.

    The mechanical workers stand nearly seven feet tall. They're broad, and have a powerful stature. Their exterior is grey metal, bolted and welded together, and caked in dirt, grime, and scrapes earned from many weeks of tireless labor. Their eyes are glass lenses, that shine no lights. They're like windows of an abandoned house. Sticking up from their backs are pipes that occasionally hiss as they release invisible ethereal vapors.

    The mechanical brutes march by Xal and continue on their way, to deliver their haul of valuable diamonds to the material processing building. Xal is soon aware of the smile overtaking his features. He realizes that he had been grinning at the automatons, like a schoolboy discovering his crush for the first time. Feeling self conscious, Xal resolves to force the smile away and continues further down the tunnel.

    Eventually, he finds his way to the elevator for shaft sixteen. Xal calls upon the memorized layout of the mines, and knows he will have to take the elevator a few levels down to reach the junction where the malfunctioning machine waits for him. Xal hops into the elevator. He reaches for the controls, but halts as a squad of miners speed in with empty mine carts. Once the squad is inside, one of the miners takes the controls and sends the elevator descending down into the depths of the mines.

    The squad is composed of four men, three automatons, and two empty carts. They're all covered in dirt. Xal guesses they must have gotten through dropping off a haul of diamonds or stone and are going back down to dig out more. For the most part the men seem entirely uninterested in the mechanic in the suit. The automatons seem entirely uninterested in everyone.

    Xal on the other hand, finds his attention drifting from the automatons to one of the miners. The miner that captures his attention is a bright eyed man with rams horns. The horned man eventually notices the mechanic's attention and glances at him.

    Realizing how rude it was to stare, and worse to be caught staring, Xal turns his gaze downward. He then busies himself with digging out a pair of work gloves and goggles from his bag. He slips the goggles on over his red eyes and gloves over his hands.

    He focuses his thoughts on the automatons. Xal was given schematics to study during his train ride to Harmony Point. The automatons are highly advanced works of alchemy. Purely mystical creatures or magically powered machines tend to break down when exposed to too much raw Desert Diamonds, and so the mining commission had to have alchemical machines built. These machine men are powered by elemental power. Fire for fuel, water for cooling, air working the pneumatics, earth to power the crystal awareness circuits, and ethereal waste filtration conduits. However, the most amazing piece of technology is the automaton's mechanical brain. A computer sitting in the heart of these technological creatures, is what gives them their intelligence. It allows them to memorize and perform tasks, understand instructions, and solve the small, simple problems faced by workers in the mines.

    Xal feels a tinge of sorrow that he'll never be able to see how these mechanical brains work. They're locked away deep inside of the automatons, and according to Xal's contract he is forbidden from trying to access them. The alchemical company that invented these machine workers don't want the secrets of their most advanced and valuable invention to get into the hands of their competitors, and so they have taken every precaution to defend it.

    Xal would give anything to know what forces were used to give these automatons a thinking mind.

    Eventually, the squad of miners reach their level and depart the elevator. Xal takes the controls for the elevator and descends further down. Moments later, he halts the elevator at the appropriate level. He shoves the sliding door aside and exits the elevator.

    The tunnel he now stand in is rougher and narrower than the entrance tunnel. This place has not been as well travelled. A few cables and pipes are bolted to the stone ceiling and run down the length of these tunnels. Every four yards, or so, a lantern hangs from a pipe and casts a dim amber light on the surrounding mines. Except for these occasional pockets of dim light, the passages are very dark.

    Xal clicks on his helmet lamp and begins walking down the passage to his left. Within his mind exists a detailed map of these mines. His mental schematic holds data that even the mining commission does not have committed to paper. He knows the patterns and necessities of creating a mine, and this allows him to predict the small details that overworked map makers can't be bothered with drawing out.

    At all times he counts out his paces. He's measured out his strides. He even knows how to compensate for the ever so slightly longer stride of his dominant side, which has plagued many travelers that have found themselves unknowingly walking in circles. Xal knows how many paces it takes to travel down every passage in this mind. In a place where what he sees can be entirely unreliable, this information mixed with his natural divining talents will keep him alive.

    Gradually, the dark tunnel of stone melts into rows of books. Xal stops and looks around at the bookshelves surrounding him, and the high domed ceiling towering above him. It's the Central Library. Xal inhales and can even smell the scent of ancient tomes.

    He closes his eyes and reminds himself that this is only an illusion. The untapped magic of the raw Desert Diamonds in the stone around him is projecting this false reality. It's not real. Not tangible. Only a figment of sight, smell, and sound. He can't let it distract him, or else he risks getting lost. Xal opens his eyes, and continues both his walking and his counting. Despite whatever the unmined gems are showing him, Xal knows exactly where he is and what's around him.

    Just as predicted, Xal is soon walking up to junction eight-C, where the foreman grumbled he would find the damaged automaton.

    Xal halts in his tracks as he sees something even he could not predict.

  8. #8
    Harmony Point: The Diamond Saloon

    Deputy Lucius Starling.jpg Doc Leotris Galleo.jpg

    Castillo Rockwell, Tender, Artor Lawe, Rekōdo Marshall,
    Lucius Starling, Deputy and Dr. Leotrus Galleo, Physician



    The Marshall sighed. His Deputy froze in the light of the entrance.

    "Seven what?" Lucius asked.

    "Six you intoxicated idiot. Six."

    The Marshall does not even glance over his shoulder at the drunken man. His voice is an irritated growl. He takes a long pull from his scotch and swirls the rocks around within the class.

    "Another round, Marshall?"

    The Marshall slid his glass on the bar toward the Castillo and rubbed his forehead with a rough, weathered hand.

    "Straight up. And make sure it's the good stuff, not that coffin varnish you serve the drunks that don't know any better."

    Cas looked at the Marshall sidelong with his dark brown eyes as he turned to the stock behind the bar to refill his glass. He looked back behind the Marshall to the couple that waited pretty patiently for the drunk to foretell a great day for their wedding. Cas shook his head and turned to hand Artur his drink.

    "Rough day already?"

    The Marshall shook his head and took a long drink.

    "Doc... Do you think you could get that thing off the bar now?"

    "Mmm?"

    Leotris looked up from his examination of the Qirin head. He lifted the violet lenses from his eyes with a clean fingertip.

    "This? Right. Give me just a moment."

    The doctor opened his medical bag, it hummed lightly and glowed faintly, a light blue-violet color. He pulled another bag from within the black, leather bag he pulled out one of crushed, purple velvet. He examined the Qirin head and then the bag, then draped the opening over the head. It disappeared within the bag. It and all the blood it spilled on the bar. Leotris looked at the blood on the floor and motioned with a finger. The droplets peeled themselves off and flew up and into the bag. Every surface that the Qirin blood had touched was cleaned of the ichor. The velvet bag, which remained the same size as before the Qirin head, was placed back within the medical bag, which was then snapped shut.

    "Finally" Cas breathed under his breath. The tall, dark-skinned deputy came forward finally and eyed the doctor's bag skeptically.

    "I thought I had that taken care of. Sorry, Marshall" Lucius muttered under his breath about the raids. The Marshall grunted. He looked over his shoulder as Wiat came up to the bar.

    "I hope you at least had the conscience to give them good advice" he said to Wiat with the glass poised at his lips. The doctor shook his head at the three of them.

    "Now, now, Marshall. Don't be unkind." Tess crooned from a support post. Her blue-green eyes looked antagonistically at the Marshall. A sultry smile painted her lips.

    "Wiat here has predicted a lot of accurate stuff lately, haven't you, honey?" Liza's darkly painted lips offered the drunken man a smile. Her bobbed blond hair curled enticingly around her hat pinned slightly to one side on her head.

    "What are you all dolled up for today, girls?"

    Cas slid Bess a shot of whiskey, which she downed heartily and turned the shot glass upside down upon the bar top. Only the one for her. She'd just come off "]stage and was due back up in a few minutes.

    "Train came today. Fresh meat in town." Luelle called from where she sat leaned heavily on a gruff-looking man playing cards. She leaned forward so that the eyes of the other players were on her endowments, not the game. She'd been paid to distract and distract she would. She was dressed up like a Da'Jinn dancer, despite Bess's protests that they never dressed that way. Liza laughed loudly and ran a hand along Wiat's arm enticingly. He'd just gotten money. She had something good for him to spend it on.

    "Lure them here and show them the finest of what Harmony Point has to offer." Cas threw over his shoulder while he mixed drinks. Bottle floated up from the shelves and into his hands, which moved autonomously in a rhythm of practiced and honed skill.

    "It is too early in the afternoon for this" the Doctor muttered with a shake of his head. He spoke up louder. "I am going to go autopsy this Qirin. I'll be in my office if there is need of me."

    The Marshall nodded.

    "Doc."

    "Let us know if you find anything unusual, Doc" the Deputy said. Leotris offered him a sure nod and left the saloon.

    "Actually" Tess said and pushed herself up from the pillar where she leaned."I heard it was just the one passenger. A new mechanic for the mines."

    "Ooo. A mechanic!" Liza cooed and shook Wiat by his arm giddily. The Marshall groaned and rubbed his forehead again.

    "We should head out to Mankato before the sun's down, Marshall" the Deputy said, stepping closer to Artur. The Marshall considered this. "Silenha will be expecting us."

    The Marshall exhaled a scotch-soaked breath.

    "Yep" he said and pushed himself up from his stool. He pulled the brim of his hat farther down over his eyes. The sun would hurt his eyes after so much drink. He placed a coin on the bar under his upside down glass.

    "Cas" he said with a nod. "Let me know if the new guy comes in here. I want a profile on him. Make sure he won't start any trouble with the locals."

    Cas reached for the glass.

    "Sure thing, Marshall. Fate or fortune today?"

    The Marshall shook his head. Castillo slid the glass to the edge of the bar and let the coin drop into the till.

    "Ladies" Lucius said with a polite nod to each. The girls waved and smiled with their fingertips. Liza giggled and put her hand back on Wiat's arm. She leaned toward him and whispered something that made her smile into his ear.

    The Marshall readjusted the hat on his head once more, checked the pistol at his hip-holster and led his Deputy out of the saloon.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 11-19-2017 at 09:53 PM.

  9. #9
    Harmony Point: The Diamond Saloon

    Silenha Carissime Caelum Makato.jpg

    Silenha, Head of Mankato Ranch



    The first response to the voice was not words. Her eyes looked up from her Qirin and locked upon Ingall with precision and assessment. She knew the uniform. Old Maginus possibly leftover from the Great War. She noted the sword without moving her eyes, and placed a calming hand on Nastalane as the tall animal danced lightly where it stood. It snorted uneasily, like a horse when it sensed danger, but made no other noise or motion after Silenha touched her ride's scaled neck and mane. When he approached, she walked from around her Qirin to stand between it and Ingall. If it was within her character, she would have spit on the ground separating them.

    She knew him, or at least, knew of him. She was not a fan of mercenaries. They worked for money not loyalty or cause or even goodness. One could buy a mercenary and then another man could come and overbuy them and whatever services the first bought were to the wind if the mercenary felt no shame on his conscience.

    Consequently, though this was her first encounter with the man, she decided she did not like him. Especially when he looked at her so boldly. Not even Cass would dare to put eyes on her like that. His grin makes her eyes narrow slightly and her mouth set in a straight line. She considered his words a moment, weighed them.

    "I'm not a trough for you to drink from" she decided to say. She nodded her head toward the batwing doors. "If you need a drink, the saloon is right there."

    Her Qirin flicked its scaled, giraffe-like tail. Its golden eyes stared unnaturally at Ingall. In perfect alignment, the stag-like horn atop its head seemed like a perfect opal and bone spear. The lead to the animal's harness was in her left hand.

    "I've got plenty of help to keep me company on my ranch. It's far from lonely."

    There were quite a few children who were turning out to be able-bodied ranch hands. They were children, orphans of the miners left behind in the recent great accident. Was it lonesome? Sure. He didn't need to know that. Private? No. Noisy? Yes. But she had been alone in her work for quite some time and it did not bother her a bit. She looked to his sword finally to openly acknowledge the weapon was there. Silenha kept her eyes on him and moved back around to the other side of her Qirin.

    "I don't hire mercenaries, even the ones that scare others into being good for a time. You can't hire loyalty."

    She adjusted the blanket on its back. She never rode her Qirin with a saddle. The Shamaa never used saddles. They felt the animal's power as it moved beneath them and connected with the earth and air. Jokes were made in town about that among the lesser men. What that must do to her lady parts as she rode. Maybe she enjoyed it. They were ignorant, all of them.

    "What I need is another ranch hand. The little ones don't seem to like mucking stalls. Interested?"

    She looked up at him from reading her ride. Her hazel eyes were challenging and beautifully fierce. It was an exotic tincture of a Shamaa warrior and Astral attractiveness.

  10. #10
    In Town: Waiting outside the Schoolhouse




    Cammi and Red McClure, Ranch Hands at Mankato


    It was warm when the breeze did not blow from the north. It was intermittent and the midday sun beat down upon the Cammino as she waited. She sat atop a female Qirin, nearly indiscernible only by the lack of a singular antler upon its head. Where the antler should have been was a round mound of smoothed bone that shone with the same opalescent quality as the male's antlers did. Tethered to her ride were five other Qirin of varying sizes and genders. All had blankets on their backs that were hand-made and woven together in the Shamaa fashion. Each was of its own colors, chosen by the weaver. Sensing her apprehension, the red-haired, young woman's Qirin shifted beneath her. She steadied it with a pat of her hand and then a gentle caress on its scaled neck.

    "You're late, Merriam" said said annoyedly. She did not look at him, but rater kept her eyes trained to the weathervane-like iron structure atop the red schoolhouse on the edge of town. Rather than having directions, the points on the bottom of the vane held the symbols of the six provinces of Rekōdo and the infinite diamond symbol of the capital city. Atop it was an iron Qirin, to honor the woman who donated funds to fix-up the dilapidated schoolhouse after the mining accident that left so many charges in her care. The vane was still despite the breeze. Cammi looked up at it from beneath the brim of her leathered hat with her keen brown eyes. Her long, red hair was braided back and thrown over her shoulder, much like their caregiver. Her twin brother loped up on his Qirin and reined in beside her. He wore no hat- in his own fashion so as to show off his swept-back red hair. His blue eyes moved to the schoolhouse.

    "You know I hate being called that" he said indifferently. A fine thing to be named after a great aunt somewhere in Clow that he'd never met, powerful msytic or not. If it wasn't his dying mother's choice, he'd have petitioned the town clerk for a name change when he officially became of age years ago.

    Cammi took her eyes off the vane to judge her brother's face. Her eyes narrowed and he looked side-long at her under the intense scrutiny.

    "You can't be late to pick up the orphans" she responded. Her brother sighed and repeated the same, calming gesture to his ride when it pawed the earth. No one could ride his Qirin except, maybe, his sister. It was a temperamental beast he rode with a temper as hot as the volume of red in its mane.

    "I'm not a babysitter, Cammi."

    His sister was silent for a long moment. Neither was she but, here she was. Silenha had business in town today. Another raid had happened in the night last night. Some of their herd had been killed. Some of the children had been frightened. She had asked them both to bring them to school and to be there when it let out in the afternoon. They had both done so, he at a distance, watching the horizon of the town that led into the sand dunes to the east. After the children had been brought to school, he had nodded to her and ridden off.

    "You know you shouldn't go near the mercs. They're dangerous. We don't need that kind of trouble on the ranch."

    He looked fully at her now. There was a smile of amusement on his face, one whose charm did not work on the more serious of the two twins.

    "It's not funny, Mer. You know father would have forbade that of you. You're better than that."

    Red looked away from her then, at the mention of their father. Unconsciously, he sidled his horse a few paces away from her. He looked in the direction of the mines, out of town.

    "He's gone, Cammi. What he would have wanted doesn't matter anymore."

    Willem McClure had been one of the lost in the great mining accident. He had two children, twins, and no wife. She'd died in childbirth. Twins were a hard thing. The honorable man had done right by his children and raised them with all the love and guidance he could muster. They could not have been more different, they two: one a serious, ill-tempered tomboy of a girl child, the other an outgoing, gallant, daring charmer of a son. They had been sent to Taroc to complete their studies when they came of age, but both returned to Harmony Point when things there just never settled right. Miners children were highly out-of-place in a world of Seers and mystics, even if their powers did hail, however distantly, from that land. And then, there was Reds run-in with the law...

    The weathervane like suddenly spun to life. The bell within the small tower of the schoolhouse began to ring. When the direction the Qirin faced aligned with the symbol of a province, the children of those talents came pouring from the school doors. Children too young to begin displaying their talents, or whose heritage was unknown or otherwise un-manifested, came forth when the Qirin aligned with the infinite diamond symbol of their united land.

    "But what about what you promise me? Does that matter anymore?"

    Her brother was silent, but the shifting of his Qirin silently showed his disquiet. Cammi dismounted her ride and with a loving pat to its shoulders, began to untether the four smaller Qirin in its wake.

    One by one the symbols aligned.

    From Taroc came forth the quiet and beautiful Ginnevy. Her father and his new wife had come from Mirian. He was a blacksmith. Her father had taken a chance to earn his young daughter and her step mother a more comfortable life in Harmony Point. He shoed horses, but never Qirin, and worked on the side in the mines, hoping to find the riches that everyone here strove for. When it was clear the widowed stepmother wanted nothing to do with the child left behind, she was taken in by Silenha. She was quiet and spoke little. They waited on word from extended family in Mirian to see if any could take the girl in. Some political mishap there delayed all correspondence to the area.

    From an odd fluctuation between Astral and Shamaa came the elegant Isilia. She was the most properly dressed of the children, wearing a blue pioneer dress and bonnet that brought out the exotic green in her hazel eyes. Her full lips were set evenly as she exited the schoolhouse. Her long, golden brown hair was tied back in a beautiful bun beneath her bonnet. Her mother was of Astral, her father os Shamaa. When in town, she dressed the part of a lady. When on the ranch, she felt drawn to her Shamaa side. She was a beautiful blend of both worlds and the one with whom Silenha had connected with the most.

    From Maginus came the brothers, Darin and Albern. Darrin carried both their books under one arm and guided his younger brother forward as he spoke to him quietly. The younger boy had a his hat pulled down over his eyes. In his clenched hand was a note from his teacher.

    From Da'Jinn, the youngest of Silenha's orphans called Saradi came at a run with her bound schoolbooks in one hand. Her dark brains flew behind her head as her hat toppled off and bounced on her back. She was a happy child and her smile could provide more light than Emporium's sun. She ran straight into Cammi's waiting arms and was lifted into a huge hug. She kissed Cammi on the cheek and pulled back form her excitedly.

    "I read all of my Da'Jinn script today, Cammi! By myself in front of the whole class. My teacher said I will be reading Da'jinn better than her soon." Saradi's dark eyes positively beamed and the youngest McClure twin offered back to the young girl a smile. Cammi helped her onto her Qirin and Saradi hugged the neck of the great animal. They would ride together back to the ranch.

    "Albern, how was school today?" she called over her shoulder as she secured Saradi's books to the satchel on the haunch of their ride.

    Albern looked down and muttered "I don't want to talk about it."

    "We will talk to Silenha about it when we get home" his older brother insisted gently. He nodded to his brother, who grudgingly handed the note to Cammi. She looked at Darin and then opened the noted. She read it quickly and arched an eyebrow at Albern, who was still looking at the ground. He kicked the dusty earth angrily with his boot.

    "Your brother's right. We will talk with Silenha about this once she's done in town. Up you go-" she motioned to his Qirin, but then added. "And don't kick dirt their way. You know they hate that."

    He did not respond. His brother elbowed him roughly.

    "Ow!" he glared up at his brother and then sighed."Yes Miss Cammi."

    "Cammi is just fine."

    Red sidled his Qirin up to Albern and Darin's and leaned over to him as Cammi spoke to Isilia and Genevy about their days.

    "Get in another fight at school today, Bernie?"

    The boy looked hotly form under the brim of his hat at Red.

    "Don't call me that" he muttered.

    "Albern" came his brothers trying voice. Albern sighed again.

    "What? He's not dad. She's not mom. I don't have to be like you are to them."

    "They've done a good thing by taking us in. You need to be respectful, Albern."

    Albern looked the other directly and grumped a noise of disagreement. Darin shook his head and looked to apologize to Red, but the older twin's eyes were off looking in the direction of the mines again.

    "Yea, Bernie. I get it" he said distantly and spurred his Qirin into a slow trot homeward. Darin watched Red go and then looked disappointedly at his brother.

    "One of these days, those pretty dresses will have you walking the long way home, Isi." Cammi called as Isilia struggled but managed to get herself sidesaddle onto her Qirin. She breathed in evenly to hide any frustration at the dichotomy of her self and her attire.

    "Well if the Qirin would just take to a saddle-"

    "You know they won't."

    "And I haven't worn anything so presumptuous yet-"

    "Presumptuous?" Darin teased her. "Is that a word you learned in your Astral class today?"

    "It sure sounds like a big Astral word!" piqued Saradi from in front of Cammi as she mounted their ride. Isilia hmped and turned her nose up slightly. Darin looked at Cammi and grinned.

    "Definitely an Astral school day today" he joked. Cammi gave him a soft warning look to leave Isilia alone. She turned behind her to Ginnevy, who had independently mounted her Qirin and remained tight-lipped.

    "How was your day today, Ginny? Did you get a new Runology book to practice tonight?"

    Ginnevy's stern, but sad eyes looked up at Cammi. Her hands toyed with the spine of one of her strap-bound books as if she were mentally toying with the idea of showing it to Cammi, but then she looked farther down to the dirt beneath her Qirin's hooves and shrugged her shoulders silently. Cammi's lips pursed as she watched a hopeful moment dissipate before she would say anything to nudge the hope farther forward.

    "It's okay, Ginny" she said gently, with sympathy. "When you're ready, you can tell me all about it."

    With all the orphaned children secure on their mounts, Cammi spurred her ride forward. The children, expert riders under Silenha's tutelage over the years, gently got their rides to go follow behind Red, who'd slowed so that they could all catch up. Cammi and Saradi took up the rear and with an appropriate pace for riding through the center of town, the group began their journey home.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 11-24-2017 at 02:10 PM.

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