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Sleeping Fort is a crossroads town. I used to be, as it says in it's name a fortress. Specifically an orc stronghold, but no more. After a long and bloody battle the fort was torn down. Few remnants of the steel and woord instilation remain. Enough to catch a traveller's eye though.

Thoughout Sleeping Fort you can find many tents. The sturdeier tent are business and homes. the weaker ones are squatters. Still, like every town, there is one building everyone can count on. The Tavern. The Drunk Nymph is not a "good" tavern per se. Sure the drinks are par, but few come their for the drinks. Most people are in here for one reason. Work. Not bartending or barwenching. The Drunk Nymph attracts "adventuers" (if you're in a good mood) and "mercenaries" (if you want a dagger lodged in you somewhere). All of them looking for quick coin.

It's midday. the tavern is sort of empty. Bartender is there. Few serving wenches chatting up the patrons and earning their coin their own way. A dwarf with a scar across his eye sits in a dark corner. A young woman, clearly distressed, orders drinks at the bar and gives the bartender the stinkeye when he suggests she slow down.. A trio plays darts and are conversing about their travels. Al the while an elven woman with a lute sings a haunting melody of tales of former heroes, all ending tragically. Still sounds beautiful though.

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Kor'ki wasn't exactly going anywhere in particular when he arrived in Sleeping Fort. An orc stronghold now occupied by its conquerors, this was the kind of place that people who were "just passing through" or just wanting to be left alone went. Either way, it was a fairly safe bet that most of the people here had next to no connections to speak of with most of the other people here. It was his kind of place.

He was accompanied, as was the norm by now, by the one that called herself Jysala. To be fair to all involved, the name wasn’t terribly important. For the better part of their relationship, whatever it was, he had simply thought of her as That Naked Bitch. For the most part it was still accurate though he was going to have to find a new word than Bitch.

Perhaps Witch. It even rhymed. Perhaps Rape Bait. Wasn’t inaccurate, though the spear was a bit of a deterrent. Situation might change if the spear was ever far enough away to be taken out of the equation but that was an uncommon enough occurrence that it didn’t bear more than just casual consideration. Much like the possibilities of dragon invasion or secret armies of nymphs rising from the woods and conquering a nation. Interesting, definitely, but unlikely in current times.

Glancing across the bar at its inhabitants, he took a brief moment to check up on them. Attention Whore was at the bar sobbing into a glass begging for someone to come and take her away from her dreary woe-is-me life. If there was something that was really worth doing she would have walked across the bar to one of the other occupants. Someone like Tortured Dwarf, the scarred bastard sitting over there being all dark and brooding as if he figured it was something to be impressed by. Fuck him.

The trio of dart players were a tough read, they were either Hustlers or Marks. He would find out which whenever a fourth party joined the mix. Or one of the three left crying and broke. Not terribly interesting and yet present were Tragedy Bard and Bartender. Tragedy Bard of course plying her trade in the form of a rather well done song about heartbreak and loss. Real cheerful ditty if he said so himself. Bartender was Bartender, nothing to speak of there.

All in all, it was a Tavern. At some point he would likely take one of the wenches off to a back room and make them earn their tip but in the meanwhile, it was just a matter of spotting the interesting people.

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Jysala knew of the world of man’s restrictions on things. She didn’t care much for that whole “jail" thing. so she stayed out of big towns. She and her travelling companion, Kor’ki (a high elf, she never thought she would live to see the day when she would travel with Ka’vala) were in a smaller settlement now. Something orcish. Something that used to be orcish at least. These tents interested her though. Some were busy selling things. Others were just families. It was like a surprise in everyone. She was eventually stopped by Kor’ki. Not because he cared, but because he saw their destination. A non tent building. There was a stylized picture of a beautiful woman tipping back a tankard and looking quite sloshed.

When they walked in a few eyes turned their way. but no one said anything to the two elves. Jysala gripped her staff as the room fell quiet. All except for the woman singing baleful tunes. Jysala had been in establishments like this before. It was Kor’ki that introduced her to them. The drinks they served there were strong. She always felt a burning in her throat and a lightness in her head when she drank them.

Though those nights usually ended with them geting thrown out of the establishment. Too many wanted to mate with her. She said she would say “No" one more time. and they didn’t listen. So they were obviously looking for a beating. A beating she gave them soundly. Though this was irrelevant now.

“Kor’ki," Jysala said in their elven tongue, “ “Isn’t it a little bit early to be in this place? We usually wait until the sky turns dark."

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Rape Bait was talking again. This happened occasionally, and unlike most people who had her looks, a good portion of the time it was worth listening to.

“Kor’ki, isn’t it a little bit early to be in this place? We usually wait until the sky turns dark.”

(Elven)“A little bit, yes. Main reason we’re in here now over later is we get to see all of the interesting people as they come in. This way there’s a chance of finding something worth doing in this place without getting thrown out after you cripple some dumb bastard that can’t take a hint. As great as that is to watch, generally not that productive.”(Elven)

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Jysala shook her head. she remembered the last three establishments. The establishment owners didn’t seem to mind her walking in but on the way out they threw every one of their accusations at her. Wasn’t her fault they werent ready for a sneak attack.

Walking over to a corner table she sat in a chair and stretched, then lit a candle. unlike the dwarves she could not see in pitch blackness. The waitress came to take their order looking at the two elves the waitress didn’t say much and wanted to flee. She quietly asked them what they wanted to drink.

“I’ll take your strongest fire water,” she said a bit loudly in Common.

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When Serving Girl came over to take their order, Kor’ki paused for a moment and let his eyes linger on her. She wasn’t bad looking, though she carried herself like she was at that point between “all used up” and “dead from exhaustion”. In fact, that was her name now. Pausing a bit and considering whether he was going to tip this one, he considered what exactly it was that he wanted. Similarly, he half curiously wondered whether the conflicted look on her face was fear, envy, lust, or some combination of the three. It was usually a combination.

“I am still considering what I will have. Don’t go too far though, I’ll let you know when I decide”

He probably wasn’t going to do anything to or with All Used Up but there was no point in closing that door before he got to it. Experience did count for something, after all, even if there was no enthusiasm.

As she left the table to bring Rape Bait her drink, Kor’ki observed and decided that he would pass on this one. It would mean that she would sadly be without a worthwhile tip, but it would also mean that she would be able to save her feminine wiles for some other lust addled fool with too much money.

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Ryoma entered the bar, flush from a minor job, a few thieves had stolen something from one of the merchants, and he had been paid well enough to retrieve the trinkets. He'd helped himself to some of their other spoils, they certainly wouldn't be needing them.

He paid up for a few drinks, noted the others present with a casual look, Surprised to see three elves, let alone what could only be a high elf, within a bar like this, and then sat down with his drink to await the meal he ordered as well.

He had put away some of his reward, it always paid to have something for a bad day, but at least tonight he'd eat food he didn't cook. Then of course, it would be time to look for work again...

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When Pretty Boy walked in, he immediately struck Kor'ki as one of the 'interesting people'. Perhaps it was the giant red cloak-coat that he wore, perhaps it was the degree of armament. Wasn't entirely sure, but entertainment did pick up a bit.

Flashing a bit of coin, Pretty Boy paid up front for a few drinks and a meal. Off to the sides, All Used Up and Naive Rookie worked to finish up their current tasks so they could be the first to wait on this strapping young gentleman. This part never got old. They didn't have any clue who this was and yet at the first sign of coin, they were all over being as helpful as they could possibly be.

Kor'ki knew first hand just how far serving girls would go for a sizable 'donation'.

Point being, they had no idea whether this newcomer was the wandering hero type or if he was a murderous sellsword who wore red to disguise the bloodstains. Perhaps that consideration and a moment's hesitation was why Naive Rookie got to him first, flashing her best charming smile when bringing his food.

He considered calling her over to join them at the table at some point during the night. She seemed just the sort to be looking a few extra coins. In the spirit of fairness, though, he would give Pretty Boy his opportunity. If he left her in an unfortunate state, then there would most likely be a tiny pang of regret at not jumping at the opportunity, but there were always more Naive Rookies to be had later.

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The sky was red, just like it was yesterday, and the day before.

The light changed slightly when, outside of her home/prison, day became night, so she had a rough idea of how long it'd been. Several weeks, at least, since she'd been bound to the ring. A long enough time to figure out what she planned to do next, should the opportunity arise.

She'd practiced with her powers, reshaping the formless sand of the interior of the gem into an ornate palace of the mind, where gravity was optional, the temperature was always pleasant, and the library downstairs went on forever if you let it. She'd spent a great deal of time there, researching who she was now. Whatever the magic was, it was unlike anything she'd ever heard of - it had changed her so completely, even the name she used to call herself felt wrong.

But there was only so much studying the young djinni could fit into a single day, so she chose to relax by going for a swim in the open air pool in the rear of the grounds, the water a deep shimmering blue, and cool to the skin.

If someone were able to look down on her from above, they might be able to make out the palace she'd built, and the person who'd built it. But it's take a very keen eye to make that detail out, even on a ruby as perfectly cut as the one sitting on the ring Ryo had taken from the thieves...

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Ryoma'd eaten his fill and had a drink, he wouldn't lack for company, if he felt that urge, but for him, the pickings were slip, and the barmaid really held no interest for him. He sat quietly, watching the others, some watching him, and looked down at the golden ring, a small ruby affixed to it firmly. He held it to the candlelight, glad his back was against the wall. not that it made him safe, but it helped slightly.

He slid it on his finger, and saw a brief flicker. There was "Something" more to this ring. "What on earth?" he saw something within, He looked closely, and pondered.

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Djane swam her fiftieth lap, and pulled herself out of the pool, rolling over on her back, eyes closed. She exhaled, wondering if she even needed to keep swimming to stay in shape any more... or did the magic take care of that too?

Well, regardless, she enjoyed it. She wanted to lie there for a while, drying off, but then she heard a strange tugging sensation, and the red skies seemed to part, to let in... a giant building...?

Then the view swung around, and a giant face stared down at her, filling the entire sky.

"What on Earth?" asked the giant figure, in a voice that shook the grounds and the palace, displacing blown sand and dust. Djane gasped, covering her nude form in surprise.

... oh, the tug was - he put the ring on and now I'm his - he's my -

She exhaled, and snapped her fingers, a translucent silken outfit appearing on her in a puff of smoke. "Who are you?" she asked the sky. She waved her arms. "Can you hear me?" she asked again, her voice hesitant.

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From within she could see the white haired man's brown eyes narrow in in the candlelight, looking intently at the ring. He nodded. He heard her distinctly, a small tiny voice, a female voice. "Very interesting."

Despite the spectacle, an knowing eyes were upon him, he couldn't bring himself to stop now, it was as he was compelled, a connection was forming.

"My name is Ryoma, whom am I addressing?" One eye he kept on the ring, now laid flat on the table, the other he h took in those in the bar, watching carefully.

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"You are addressing the genie of the ring, Djane." Djane swallowed thickly as the compulsion to answer rose from within her. "I am yours to command, Master." She paused. "I, ah, I hope you aren't a dick about it."

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He looked down. A Genie. He remembered stories, but they were just that. That it could even be possible that they could contain a kernel of truth... He finished his drink and sat back.

"Well Djane, I don't think I've been called that before. Ryoma will suffice."

He had to know, his curiosity was piqued now. "Would you like to come out?" He didn't seem the sort to be a Master, there was an underlying softness to his voice, beneath the gruff hardness.

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"What on earth? Very interesting"

Pretty Boy had made a move. Apparently he had decided that Naive Rookie wasn't his speed and had decided to go with the good old spot-on-the-floor technique. Fairly basic, but not overly effective. Sometimes it worked, and in the case of Naive Rookie it would have a decent chance. Kor'ki wasn't terribly concerned by this turn of events. It just meant more for him later.

"My name is Ryoma, who am I addressing?"

What... The Unholy... Fuck.

Batshit Redcoat had gone far beyond trying to play disinterest off as some other equally interesting thing that had nothing to do with Naive Rookie now talking to a piece of jewelry. What was worse, he looked like he actually thought that the jewelry would talk back.

Kor'ki glanced at the drink that had been served to the human and compared it visually to the drink that had been served to Rape Bait. Not terribly similar, which was good. Perhaps Batshit Redcoat had ordered some sort of hallucinogen. Maybe his food had been laced. That would be interesting.

"Would you like to come out?"

Kor'ki nudged the elven girl beside him and indicated the red clad man across the bar from him talking to his latest delusion. He wasn't sure what was going to happen next, but old Bats had just taken the crown for most interesting person in the room.

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A woman in an indigo hooded cloak emerged from one of the darker tables and went to the table Ryoma was having his conversation at. Her features were fair, if a little stern and hard; her eyes were cobalt blue. She leaned over the table slightly and said quietly, "I've no idea why I'm bothering to tell you this, but you're in a bit of trouble, lad. Rich dress, careless showing your gold...and now flashing that ring about and calling attention to it. Things are going to get interesting for you very shortly."

Her eyes flicked down to his weapon, then back to his face. "I've no doubt you can take care of yourself...else you'd be long dead by now. That said, if you want a way out of this that doesn't involve leaving a long line of bodies in your wake, I think I can help you."

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Ryoma pulled his gaze from the ring, snapped from the life risking curiosity, and nodded. "It's been a long day. I promise you though "interesting" always has a way of finding me. I'd wager that it already has in many ways."

He offered the blue eyed woman a smiled. "Please sit, if you will, and we can discuss this bloodless way out. I've had my fill of violence today."

The tiny voice wasn't forgotten, nor his curiosity. Whatever this ring was, he had a feeling that it would be of real help.

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The woman's eyes flickered down to the ring and she smiled slightly.

"You really have no idea what you have there, do you? Stolen, then. You're a little ostentatious for a thief, which means its previous owner is lying face down now, I expect. Whoever it was didn't use it against you, or you'd have some idea what it did... So I'm going to say you took this off the body of a thief you killed. I wonder who had it before that..."

She shakes her head.

"There's little to discuss. We'll head for the door. I'm sure some of these will try to stop us. When they do, everything will turn dark. I will grab your hand and lead you out. Then it's all a question of how fast we move."

The stranger pauses, then notes, "Have you noticed the two elves watching you? The naked savage, and the pale one? Are they friends of yours?"

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Re looked at her and nodded. "I've seen them, and no, I don not know them."

He shrugged. "It was in part of the haul that wasn't on the manifest I was hired to recover. I took it as spoils of battle, it seemed, "right."

He looked at her his eyes narrowing sharply. "We'll do things your way. Though, I wonder, what favor you'd have in return for your advice and assistance." It wasn't an accustation, just a simple statement. No one did anything for free in this world.

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Jysala looked a bit confused herself. This guy was a bit of a lightweight to be talking to jewelry after not one fire water. Quietly watching the whole thing with a chuckle, drinking her own fire water. Then she got interested, wondering who the cloaked woman was appearing from out of nowhere. She made sure it wasn't the fire water showing her things by prodding Kor'ki,

"See that?" Jysala asked curiously.

He nodded.

"Excuse me for a second." Jysala she grunted, getting up. She eased over that way. Stealthy as a gorilla she was, but she heard the conversation crystal clear. When the cloaked woman asked if the red coat knew her. She spoke up in her broken Common tongue, "We're here on our own. Not talking to rings. Quite funny if you ask me." She grinned, "I can probably drink more than you."

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She nodded at Ryoma. "Good. You've got some wits then."

Whatever haggling she might have done was interrupted by the half-naked elf coming over. Her mouth twisted into a little frown.

"Hilarious," she agreed dryly. "And I have no doubt of your ability to drink. We are discussing business though, so a drinking contest is not in the cards now. May I suggest...well, anyone else as a substitute? I'm sure any number of men here would love the chance to get you drunk."

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As her master gave her permission to leave, Djane felt a change in the sky, as the barrier she'd strained and pushed against for a full day fell away, and she was suddenly aware of the hugeness of the outside world... and how small this one felt by comparison.

So she transformed into smoke, and expanded, exceeding the boundaries of the ring and seeping out the sides of the ruby. The cloud of smoke poured forth, pooling, thickening, and resolving into the form of an attractive young woman, with blonde hair and ruby red eyes, attired in a silken outfit that left little to the imagination - vest, bra, puffy pants, jewels and a facial veil.

She stretched, exhaling. "Ahhh, that's better. I didn't know how much I missed being outside that ring! Thank you, Master. Can I ask, what's the... correct... date..."

She trailed off, looking first to Silhouette, and then to Jysala, forcing herself to make eye contact. "You don't - your, uhm, your... well, I guess you'd know."

She then looked at the rest of the bar, which was filled with people, all of which were staring at them.

"Oh boy."

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So evidently he had to set the time on the ring. That wasn't the wierdest thing he'd had to do today. "It's the twentieth day of September, in the Four hundred an sixth Republic Year." He rattled off quickly.

"Oh it's not that bad, yet." the last word was added a few dozen decibels lower. whatever and whoever he'd just summoned from the Ring, she looked like a genie, and that was liable to make the next few moments extremely interesting.

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Jysala scowled at the cloaked woman. She was going to have her fire water contest with red coat. Or at least she WOULD have had it before a woman popped out of the ring. She looked at the oddly dressed woman with a slight right head tilt. Jysala heard something come out of the genie's mouth but she was too busy trying to figure out what happened. Stabbing the impetuous cloaked figure would have to wait. Drinking the red coat under the table would have to wait. No, this deserved her full attention. She held tightly onto her staff with one hand. "Who... What are you?"

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Back at her table, close enough to see and hear the conversation but far enough to make a discrete exit should it be needed, Silhouette's eyes widened and her hands clenched shut. The glamour warding her from sight wavered, and she had to hastily refocus on it before she appeared out of nowhere.

A djinn!

Possibilities marched through her mind. The seated warrior and elf were surprised. She could use that moment of indecision to scatter illusory rings over the table, then approach, grab the real one, and leave quickly. A decent plan, but it was hasty. Dangerous.

The elf obviously had excellent senses to have overheard the conversation from where she'd lurked with the pale one. She might hear or even smell Silhouette approaching. Her pallid companion was a completely unknown quantity as well, though he stank of magic; reason enough to be wary.

The red-cloaked warrior was also still an unknown quantity. He seemed calm enough, and his lack of bravado was encouraging, but she didn't have his measure yet.

And the ring itself. The ruby had been a hint, but she'd never imagined a djinn was bound to it. That made it a treasure beyond price...but such things often had hidden costs. In particular she was wary of its previous owner, who would certainly want his bauble back.

Yes. Smarter to wait and see. She would stay with this warrior, see what happened to him. Let him make his wishes...she would lose nothing doing so. He would chart the path, setting off the traps, and she would be forewarned for when she took the ring for herself.

But first she had to make sure he survived, and kept possession of it. Once people figured out what that girl was, and where she'd come from...

Silhouette tugged the mental strings of her puppet of light and sound at the table. The convincing illusion of a woman gave the djinn a startled look, then rounded on the warrior.

"Are you mad?!" she hissed. "Summoning her in the middle of this place? Prepare to defend what is yours. I will do what I can to help. We will discuss price afterwards."

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Kor'ki hadn't moved from his spot during this entire time. After being nudged to ensure that Rape Bait was not, in fact, hallucinating, he had noticed her walking off to apparently challenge Batshit Redcoat to a drinking contest. Probably her way of saying that he was falling over drunk, hallucinating, and didn't know it yet. At the same time, he wasn't entirely sure what Helper Bitch was trying to do. He had heard the words 'trail of bodies' because a man like him tended to listen for things like that and saw a lot of head shaking, but that was about all. Little did he know that question would soon answer itself.

The brief shine of magic on the ring that Batshit Redcoat had been talking to was the first warning sign, and the stream of brightly colored smoke pouring from it was a second. Had someone actually made a smoke cloud ring? Why would anyone- It took him about a second and a half to put two and two together. Definitely most interesting person in the room. Not hallucinating, but still bug nuts.

Kor'ki counted down in his head... And 3... 2... 1... not being terribly subtle about it either, counting down on his fingers and placing his hand on the table just as the smoke coalesced into the form of a pretty young girl wearing quite possibly the most atrocious and out of place outfit that could possibly be imagined. Not that he thought it would do anything, Kor'ki decided now was probably a good time to make himself less than solid. It wasn't like it was a noticeable change or anything, just a precaution. Kor'ki liked precautions.

Redcoat's Genie was doing the standard bottle-genie routine. Gratitude, confusion, wanting to know the date, all that. The best part was she(it?) was doing it with all the grace and tact of a hill giant running through a ballroom. It? She? Glancing around the room, he was not the only person who had taken interest but most seemed to be finding themselves warned away by Rape Bait's spear and Batshit Redcoat's sword. A shame, that. He would have enjoyed watching some overzealous drunk getting stuck through the chest and hung from a support beam like some sort of drunken warning sign. Woe Betide Those Who Do Not Pay Their Tabs.

At this point Helper Bitch had turned on Batshit Redcoat and was giving him some sort of berating, probably something to do with the fact that the bastard had summoned a damned djinn in the middle of the room and hadn't even gotten on the same page with it beforehand. Meanwhile, Rape Bait and Redcoat's Genie were in what passed for a heated, intellectual conversation. The type in which one party is asked to identify themselves as a who or a what, and that party chooses either to respond to the request either with information or flippancy. The first response option was informative, the second was amusing.

That said, he would be mildly cranky if his mostly naked associate got them thrown out of yet another bar before he'd had something to drink or even had a chance to feel up some of the staff. At that moment, Kor'ki's priorities shifted. He observed the interaction between the three and a half people over where the oddities were happening, but he also (with not too much effort) got Naive Rookie's attention and called her over.

Batshit Redcoat had not shown interest in her in the slightest, and as the saying goes: Waste not, want not.

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"I'm, ah..." Djane was at a loss for words as everything started to happen at once. "I'm just a, er, a normal person who was trapped inside of that ring. I called him 'Master' because he... and I... are... into that." She nodded at the topless elf, almost convincingly.

Then she paused, and went back over what Ryo said. "It's 406? I... I was in there for a decade!? Oh, Host Above, I - " She shut her eyes, gritting her teeth, and then Silhouette chose that moment to say exactly the wrong thing to set her off.

She whirled on her, glaring at her with red eyes. "Excuse me? Excuse me? 'We can discuss payment later?' 'Defend what is yours?' I'm not his property! I didn't - I just made a stupid wish and set her free and I took her place and everything's ruined now! I have a name and it's Djane! D-j-a-n-e, the 'd' is silent and that's not even the name I had before I got turned into a stupid genie and - "

She paused.

"Whoops."

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Amidst the confusion of the little scene, the three dart players had disappeared. Seemingly into thin air. The dwarf in the corner? Gone. The bard? The bartender? The drunk girl? The serving wenches? All vanished with nary a trace! The silence is broken when the front door opens. Two girl - twins, about 15 or 16, black hair, black eyes, dressed in black gowns - enter the bar. They are gracefully poised, their feet (covered by those dresses), seem to be not touching the ground. There is an air of creepiness about them to all of you.

"You lot have been chosen," the girls say in unison, "Our master has seen into you. He wishes your audience." The girls hand one of you a map. It shows you a way away from this settlement off into a keep in the wilderness. "It pays well. See you there." The two girls exit the bar as they entered. The people do not come back.

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Ryoma took it all in, and looked to Djane, and nodded. "Well, what is done is done, now."

He looked to the others, and then to the door where the girls entered, made their decree, and vanished. "Well, That fills me with abit more dread than normal."

"More to the fact, that they're all totally sure that we'll all show up there."

He looked to the blue eyed woman and nodded. "Not particularly mad, just not exactly myself. There was a feeling of being compelled. Overrode my generally more cynical outlook."

His eyes turned to Djane. "Not the worst decision I've made."

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Djane looked around at the suddenly empty tavern, then down at her hands. "Ah, that wasn't me." She craned her neck to look at the map. "So we are... where are we again? I've been inside a magic ring for ten years, is all... who were they?"

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He shrugged. "This is the Town Sleeping Fort. As to whoever those two were, emissarries from a potential employer who is quite eager to hire everyone remaining in this room, and likely knowledgeable regarding each of us as well, to have orchestrated the preceding events."

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"I don't think the others in here were hired. Chased out, most likely."

The blue-eyed woman rippled and faded out of sight. At the same time, another woman appeared at a neighboring table that had seemed empty a moment before. Her skin was jet black, the color of obsidian, and her eyes a faded grey. Her hood was back, revealing that her head was smooth; hairless.

"Excuse the charade. I don't like making public appearances. You can call me Silhouette."

She focused on Djane. "And I meant the ring. I'd like to hear more of your story though, sometime. You've only been bound to it for ten years, you say? Hm."

Then she looked back at the pale elf, still sitting away from the others.

"You're still here, so I assume you've been invited as well. Or do you plan to defy the unnatural little girls?"

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There were words.

Words from everybody. Something about masters and being chosen, various folks tossing responsibility for events from person to person and questioning what to do now. Kor'ki could hear what was going on, but much like you can hear the mooing of a cow, he just didn't care.

So he had called over Naive Rookie and whispered assorted things in here ears that were simply not suited for polite company. Or mixed company. Or any company really. Ultimately the company didn't matter as he had given her a not inconsiderable amount of coin. Not a lot on an 'adventurer's wage' but still enough that he had her wrapped around his finger, and there was the promise of more. She had gotten up, straightened herself out, (he might have teased her a bit while she was over with him) and was headed to the back to earn the rest of her tip. Likely more than that, but that was going to be seen.

About the time he was about ready to get up and go have his way with the staff, Drones 1 and 2 walked in and said their piece. Something about being chosen, employers, and being paid well. Handing what looked like a map to someone not important (read: not him) they walked out in unison after quite effectively creeping out the bar.

It was about that point Kor'ki realized something was wrong. The music had stopped. Tragedy Bard was gone. Tortured Dwarf was missing. Attention Whore was no longer crying into her mug, the Dart Hustlers were absent, and most shockingly of all, no Bartender. Kor'ki was on relatively high alert, which to everyone else looked like he was somewhat paying attention and maybe a little grumpy.

More words.

Helper Bitch had vanished into thin air, because that's just what happens when genies are in the room. He hadn't heard an "I Wish" from Batshit Redcoat though so that was moderately confusing. The confusion was mostly resolved when Bald and Black rolled up out of the corner at one of the tables. He was pretty sure she wasn't there before, but that wasn't a big thing. Bartender was gone.

He understood the next words out of Bald and Black mainly because he hadn't labeled her yet.

"You're still here, so I assume you've been invited as well. Or do you plan to defy the unnatural little girls?"

Still here? Of course he was still here. Where the fuck else was he going to go? More importantly, Bartender was gone. So was All Used Up. There was nobody serving drinks! For all he knew that included--- Dammit!

Kor'ki stood up with a purpose.

"I'm not planning on defying anyone that I know of."

He walked back into the back where Naive Rookie had gone to 'freshen up' and was gone for a solid minute before string of "Dammit!" could be heard from the back room. A short time after that he walked back out holding a near full bottle of some sort of liquid, presumably alcoholic, that he was brushing dust off of.

"Bartender's gone. So is everyone else. That decidedly cramps my afternoon. On the plus side, liquor's on the house."

Kor'ki looked around at the rag tag group in front of him. This was seriously what he had to work with? Here's hoping they didn't have to be friends or anything. He opened the bottle and sipped from it. It was terrible, but expensive. He was pretty sure he was drinking something laced with actual gold.

"As far as the twins go, I'm generally open to most things. Particularly if I'm being paid. Worst case scenario, it's a horrible trap and we all die. Could be worse"

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Jysala's staff ground into floor when the goth tween twins were prancing around. She wanted to tackle one down and ask were everyone was. And why this certain group had been chosen. And why they were so tiny. Seriously she could break both of them in one sitting. Still that wasn't the point at the moment. They were gone and there was a map. To them? Maybe.

Jysala crouched. "No tracks." the first words that came out of her mouth in a while. Were they even real? Jysala had a new driving goal. Find the twins. Pay them back for not letting her tackle them. Taking a deep breath, she stood up again. "We should find the people they stole," Jysala said lying through her teeth, "Kor'ki seems quite angered that he didn't get his mating done. I, uh, care about the welfare of the missing people." She nodded slowly with a forced grin.

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Djane looked around, and sighed. "Not that I get a vote or anything, but if this whoever actually DID abduct all those people then we ought to at least try and get them out. If they were all illusions, then at least we'll find out by going there. That's my two ceepee anyways."

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"It would be a lot of trouble to go to just to get our attention," Silhouette points out. "More likely whoever is behind this is just well known to the locals, and they clear out in a hurry when they get some signal we missed."

She looks at the map for a moment.

"Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained." She pulls a mask made of white, polished ivory or bone, and sets it over her face, pulling her hood up. Between the two, her alien features are well hidden.

With a glance at Ryoma she asks, "What do you plan to do?"

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Ryoma shrugged. "Well I had been planning on getting a good night's sleep, but it would seem I've a more pressing engagement."

"It pays, and it can't be any more dangerous than some of the other things I've done in the last few years."

"Besides, I don't think we've got a real choice in the matter."

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"Hmm."

He seemed defeatist to Silhouette, but she had to admit...the way everyone had vanished did seem a little suspect. Rather than respond directly, she went to the door of the tavern and looked outside.

It was very much as she remembered it, but for one thing; the tents were empty, the grounds around them bare of people.

So it's like that then.

She closed the door again and rejoined the others.

"It seems not."

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"Hmm"

Masked Darkie didn't seem too thrilled about the prospect of being 'invited' by the Drone Twins to go anywhere. Nor did anyone else, for that matter. Batshit Redcoat, like himself, had clearly had some other plans before this whole thing happened. Looking over at Redcoat's Genie, he could probably think of a few things he could wish for that would take up plenty of time. Besides that though, his total lack of enthusiasm was palpable. It sounded a lot to him like a little kid agreeing to eat their vegetables after mommy and daddy had pinned his skinned puppy to the door after his refusal to eat them last time.

Ah memories. He wasn't sure which part of the memory played what role, but he was pretty sure there were vegetables, eating, a puppy, skinning, and somebody's parents involved. He didn't think he ate the puppy. Why the hell would he do something like that? They're just little balls of unformed fur and fat at that point. He was an elf, maybe he ate the vegetables. That could be it. Mommy was pretty cute though, but where were little Jack and Jill? What were they doing? Maybe they had the puppy. But if that was the case, what the hell wound up on the wall? It was so confusing.

"It seems not."

Huh? What? Kor'ki replayed the past few moments in his mind as he had clearly just spaced out for a moment. Masked Darkie had walked to the door, checked outside, and then come back. Kor'ki did much the same thing, looking out the door. The whole place had just cleared out. The Drone Twins and their Dark Lord Upon The Mountain, whoever that was, were nothing if they weren't subtle. He had to give credit though for how thorough their execution was. They didn't even leave a single person behind. The town had gone from mildly depressing hole in the ground trade town to empty in a matter of minutes.

"Well, damn."

He turned back around and looked over the misfit gathering in front of him. Looked like he was going to have to get to know these folks. Sonofabitch, he hated this part. But, he would do it anyway. Mainly because if the Dark Lord Upon The Mountain' was going to be fucking with him, he needed to know what he had at his disposal to fuck right back. He made his way over to the group, still drinking from his gold liquor. Still didn't taste good, but he was fairly certain his body's material value had gone up by at least a few silver at this point.

"Looks like we're going, and it looks like we're alone. So. Might as well get to know the rest of you people before we all wander off to Castle Doom. I'm Kor'ki"

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"Ah, like I said. I'm Djane. Djane Souhaite." She blew out between her lips, her veil puffing up in front of her face. "But before you ask, I can't just teleport us all up there, or at least, have us all arrive in the same number of pieces we left in. We'll just have to hoof it. The sooner we leave, the better, I think."

Djane looked around at the group she was stuck with. Well, Ryo seemed nice. He hadn't immediately wished for her to sleep with him, which she was terrified someone would do. The rest of them, though? Sil seemed far too secretive to fully trust - leaving the line about 'what is yours' aside, who used illusions to talk to people and wore a mask? Jysala she didn't fully have a bead on yet, and thinking about Kor'ki made her clench her teeth a little.

"I'm also leaning towards 'no' on the job, but at the least we'll hear it out. If you go along I guess I have no choice."

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