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  1. 1 point
    "I'm certain the efforts of those of us who have been working towards the group's goals will prove satisfactory." Jase's affirmation should have been said with a hint of sarcasm or irony, with a raised eyebrow and perhaps a wry smile. Instead the line was delivered in a tone that was as ambiguously bland as his expression - save for the faint gleam that appeared and disappeared in his gaze as, somewhere beneath the green ice, something far older than a sixteen year old youth flashed a fin or, perhaps, a claw. If Marissa's curt greeting and catty manner had affected him at all, it was anyone's guess how or to what extent as he turned his stare on Courtney and Kat. "Were you waiting long?" he asked with simple courtesy. "Fifteen minutes or so." Courtney said when it became apparent Kat was, at least momentarily, tongue-tied. The telepath reached out, an instinct for her by now, and tried to get a sense of their host's emotions, a task that was easy enough with anyone else but with Jase simply left her with the sense of touching a dark, cold wall of ice the consistency of diamond. Which would be no great revelation, except that as she'd sensed his mind just a minute or two ago, sitting in the Charger with Autumn, a faint warmth of feeling had been sensed. But now? Zip. He was buttoned up and on guard, whether due to her presence, Marissa's curtness or just from habit when around others, the redhead could not tell as the lean youth nodded. "We're still waiting on one or two more, I believe." Jason indicated the larger barn that served as the Fellowship's HQ. "There's cold drinks and some snacks up in the war room. Let's go and get comfortable." "War room?" Cassie asked, grinning. Jason smiled, shrugging as his hand found Autumn's and he began leading everyone over to the barn. "Situation Room, perhaps?" he suggested. Autumn found herself smiling, for the moment dismissing whatever stick Marissa had up her ass as her boyfriend and her partner in plucky investigation bantered. "Fortress of Jaseitude." Devin chimed in. "Bet it has meathooks and-" Courtney began, then stopped as the doors were opened and she, along with the others, passed through into the colour-strewn paradise of the indoor greenhouse / hothouse. "...holy shit." "Yeah." Marissa muttered, feeling an unaccountable pang of... something or other as she watched Courtney and Kat react to the beauty around them. "Holy shit." Courtney said again, mildly entranced. "Did he- did you-?" "Yes." Jason said simply, glancing back once as he led them through the riot of sights and scents that were, by now, at least somewhat familiar to the others. He didn't hurry those that wanted to linger a little, merely waited by the door leading to the stairs up, Autumn's hand slipping from his as she moved to investigate a cluster of orchids and breathe in their scent. Her last and only visit to this garden to date had been too short, it seemed. There was still more to see, as timed sprays of water struck rainbows from the sunlamps overhead and trickled down over rich green foliage and lush blooms. Jase smiled a little as he watched her, and the others. "I'll be upstairs setting out chairs." he said quietly. "Since we're still waiting for others, take your time if you wish. I ask that you be careful what you touch." "Careful how?" Kat asked as she found her voice. Jason's lips twitched in a wry smile. "Don't touch anything set out of easy reach and marked 'Do Not Touch'." he said simply. "It would be inadvisable." And with that he was gone, ascending the stairs to the loft.
  2. 1 point
    Autumn was struck, simultaneously, by two impressions: first, that she was glad that this man had been friends with her grandfather, with his gracious demeanor and forthright manner, and second, that this place was protected in the same way Owen's study had been. At least, it felt that way, which meant that she could relax a little about hanging the bundle from her grandparents' place in her own home. Smiling, she gestured toward each of the teens in turn. "This is Cassie, my partner in crime," the redhead grinned broadly, "and this is Devin... and I apologize for him in advance, for whatever he says, and this..." Glancing up at the laconic young man next to her, she inched a little closer to him. "Is Jason. I hope it's okay that they came with me, Warden Crocker suggested it." Cassandra gave the old man a thumbs up and a smile, and greeted him with a bright, "Hey." "It's nice to meet you Mr. uh, Joe." Devin offered the older man a nod. "So, uh," he jerked a thumb towards the door that would take them back out to the lobby, and to Mary. "Is she seeing anyone?" Cassie looked at Autumn and made a little 'elbow jab' gesture... suggesting that was her cue. With a quick heavenward glance, the redhead nudged Devin sharply with her elbow. "Like I said, apologies in advance." "Ow, what?" he exclaimed, scowling as he rubbed his side. Joe laughed, his grin infectious. "Mary? Oh, she's currently between boyfriends. But you can dally around another day, kiddo." Joe smiled broadly as he took in the four. "Seems to me to be downright provident, four of you being here." As Jason nodded in his own silent greeting and the teens grabbed chairs, Joe fixed Autumn with a friendly grin. "So. Warden Crocker sent you to me? Nate's a good man." The gaze took on a sharp, knowing air. "Anything else bring you here?" Devin looked to Autumn. It was obvious he wanted to say something- when didn't he?- but he gestured from her to Joe. "It's your show, Granola. Glare if you need us." He winked and smiled at her, his consideration earning a warm grin of approval from Cassie. "Mmm," she assented, tucking a rogue curl behind her ear before flashing a quick scrunched-nose scowl at the teleporter. "Nathan sent to me to ask about some kind of ritual, but I also got into Grandpa's study, and found his journals, and a couple of letters he left, and one of those..." Autumn glanced pointedly at one of the bundles above the entrances to the room. "...And," exhaling quietly, she pulled the little cloth-wrapped object from her pocket. "And a lockbox full of these." Unfolding the brightly-patterned bandana she'd carried it in, the redhead revealed a maybe-copper bracelet that looked oddly familiar. Cassandra frowned at the bracelet, then glanced at Devin. "Isn't that... Devin, lemme see your arm for a second." Devin held out his arm, positioning his wrist near the bracelet Autumn was presenting to the group. "I got this from The Land of Upside-Down Thunder. How did your Grandpa have a whole box of them?" The freckled girl’s response was a helpless shrug and a quick shake of her head. "You got it where, boy?" Joe was not laughing - or smiling - now. He stared at the bracelet on Devin's wrist, then at Devin as though the young man had claimed he found it on the moon. "It's not exactly the same...but yeah..." Cassandra murmured thoughtfully, studying the designs engraved on both bracelets- similar, yes, but not quite identical. "The Land of Upside-Down Thunder. The other side,” he explained, unsure if Joe’s question was from disbelief or ignorance. “It's a nightmare realm, darkness and corruption everywhere. It pulled me through, but I-" Devin stopped short as he suddenly remembered he didn't know this man from Adam and decided not to inadvertently spill any more of his friends’ secrets. "Aaaand, you probably think I'm crazy. Never mind." "So." The old man sat back in his chair, his manner thoughtful rather than disbelieving. "You've seen it. Just you?" "We all have." Jason spoke up quietly. Autumn nodded in silent agreement, her blue eyes uncharacteristically grave. "Most of us haven't been there, but...yeah..." Cassie remarked. "Actually," Autumn shook her head, glancing over at the clever blonde. "Most of us have. At least the ones of us here. At the trailer." Cassandra frowned, "I didn't think you were there for that... Wait, no, that was like where you first..." She winces. "Sorry. Never mind. Wrong time." Recognition dawned on the redhead's features that they were talking about two separate events, two separate slices of awful from the same evil pie. "Yeah, no. Different trailer, sorry. Not the party you guys went to." Cassie nodded, quietly working to piece together the fragments of things she’d seen, heard, and intuited so far. There were so many threads to weave together, and so many things that had happened it was hard to keep track of them all; once in a while, though, she was sure if she could just see a little more, she’d be able to make out a pattern… "Something is there,” Devin interjected, jarring the seer from her musings. “On the other side. Autumn brought us here as rocks to cling to. She has questions, we all do, now, I suppose. Help her and then we can go from there. I know her Granddad was important to her, so..." He half-smiled. "That's more important right now." "Okay." Joe had been rubbing his chin thoughtfully, listening to the various recountings of events. "Okay," he repeated and took a deep breath, seeming a little shaken. "Never thought this day would come, personally." He fixed Autumn with a look. "You wouldn't have been able to find these things if you didn't have the Light. So everything I've been told, all the secret stuff I've had passed to me... It's all true. And now I'm having to take a moment, here." He took a hip flask from his pocket and took a long pull from it, restoppering it with fingers that shook a little. "All of you got it. It's not my imagination, or wishful thinking, right?" he asked the teens. "The Dawning Light?" Autumn nodded. "Yeah. There are others, too, who didn't come with us." "We call it the Shine, though," Cassie elaborated a little. The hip flask in Joe's hand began to shimmer and blur with a purple aura before blinking out of his hand and appearing in Devin's with all the same fan-fare, save reversed as the object rematerialized. He held it up and showed Joe. "Yep. We’re just big balls of pure sunshine and bad assery." He leaned over and handed Joe back his flask. "But we're flying blind." With a smirk, Devin nudged Autumn and whispered, "Tell me that wasn't cool though." Incredulous and wide-eyed, she smacked his arm with the back of her hand, hissing under her breath. "Stop it! You can't just take people's stuff!" "I gave it back," the unrepentant Jauntsen protested even as she sighed. “I swear, we can't take you anywhere," Autumn grumbled, more to herself than anything. "Holy shit." The old-timer looked like he'd seen a ghost, then abruptly he laughed. "Holy shit!" he exclaimed, still laughing. "It's real." And the teens realised the old man was crying even as he laughed, tears working their way down the craggy leather of his cheeks. Jason leaned forward, offering a handkerchief, seemingly unmoved by the man's emotional display, then sat back and waited as Joe collected himself. "Alright then." The old Indian said eventually, nodding. "So, you've gotta understand, kids, this is all ancient stories and stuff handed down through medicine men since before we had bows and arrows - so it's said. So if there's gaps in the story, or things that don't make sense, treat it as one of them allygoryes." "Uh, one sec before you get started." Cassandra held up her phone. "Mind if I record this? So we don't have to keep pestering you if we forget something." "Not at all." Joe shook his head. "We're supposed to keep it secret until it's time, but now it's time. So... Record away, girl." "Thanks!" Cassie manipulated her phone, then nodded. "Okay, go for it." Devin looked to Jase and leaned towards him, silently whispering. "What's an allegory? We fought one of those yet?" "A story, or poem, or sometimes a picture that can have a hidden meaning." Jase murmured in response. "Like some of the Bible stories - not literally true, but true in a sense." "Oh! Okay," Devin nodded. "Got it." Joe had taken another hit from his flask while this exchange had been taking place, and now set it aside before handing Jason back his handkerchief with a nod of thanks. "Alright. I'm translating some stuff from the old tongue, so it might be odd, but here goes. Long time ago, this land was hit by a star that was a giant boat, ridden by two men who were not men, but gods. But they looked like men, and talked like men, and so the Blackfoot tribe met with them and talked with them, and found they were very wise, and had mighty medicine." Cassie brightened at that, a fiercely triumphant expression blooming on her face for a moment. It didn’t totally confirm her theory, and she’d definitely need more information to be one-hundred-percent sure, but it also didn’t not confirm it, either. Resting her elbow on her knee, chin on her palm, Autumn idly twisted the bracelet in her other hand, features rapt as a child's as she listened. Wedged between Cassie and Devin, she focused on the older man’s words, letting the sound of his voice paint pictures in her mind’s eye of the events he was describing. "Their star boat was broken, and its glow escaped into the land, causing strong shadows to rise. Because the stronger the light, the stronger the shadow it casts. And the two men-who-were-not saw this, and were angry - with themselves, and with the other gods who had caused them to crash their boat. One of the men wanted to bury the wrecked boat, to keep it from the hands of normal Man, who would not be able to use the magic inside safely. But the other was maddened at the thought of never sailing in his star boat again. And so the two men fought, with weapons and magic that shook the earth, and one of the men was the victor. But the other did not die." Autumn stiffened slightly, teeth catching at the inside of her lower lip as she frowned. They had never seen Devin so quiet. His attention was fully fixed on the old Laughing Joe, listening to his story like a five-year-old might sit and listen at story time. He leaned in, resting his elbows on knees and just listened, for once in his life. Jason was motionless, his face expressionless as he listened, but like the others, his gaze was fixed on the old storyteller. "The winner was the Trickster, who all the Indian peoples call Coyote, in one form or another. He won because he liked Man, and did not want him to be destroyed, which would have happened if the other god, the Huntsman, had his way and tried to sail the ship again. Coyote spent some time with us, as his wounds healed, and he warned us of the dark place to the east, where he and the Huntsman had fought. He said we did not have the Light to fight the Dark or heal the wound their fight had caused, but he could show us how to guard ourselves... and then he gave us those bracelets to keep, for one day warriors with the Light would come forward, and they would need protection from the Dark. And the Huntsman... He became a spirit thing. Angry, tied to the Darkness. He became the eater of hearts, the cannibal who turns brother against brother. The Wendigo." "Yeah, we've seen him. He's a dick." Devin said flatly. "Fuck," Autumn murmured under her breath, not bothering this time to apologize for her language. It made sense. The puzzle pieces that had shifted in the basement of the Old Town Hall were slowly beginning to fall into place. Laughing Joe nodded sombrely. "His power was limited to causing madness and violence before. But it seems to have grown, if he can now draw you into the wound that is his realm." "So, a god couldn't beat the Dark, and now us, warriors are supposed to do it?" He seemed all manner of skeptical. "No way. No flippin' way. How're we supposed to beat a god? I'm barely passing algebra!" The old man shrugged. "Hell if I know, son. I just know you're the first to develop the Light, like the gods themselves had. You can feel it, use it, and wield it. For all I know, you're the new gods." He winked gravely. "Don't let it go to your head though." "We met him too," Cassandra said. "Coyote. He told me a lot of stuff that sort of dovetails with what you're saying. ...left a few things out though. Please go on." Joe's eyes widened, then he nodded slowly. "He's been walking the earth since that time. Now and then he's returned to this place - to keep an eye on it, I'm guessing. Otherwise, he's been off doing whatever he does." The old man rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "The talisman your granddad left you? He left instructions, right?" he asked Autumn, who nodded. "Follow 'em. As for the bracelets... They're for you - anyone with the Light, really. All I know is they grant 'protection'. That's it." He squinted at Devin. "I'd sure like to know how you got one on your wrist though, boy." "And why it almost killed Cassie," Autumn half-asked, half-stated quietly. "Because I'm a god and she was still getting a grasp of her powers. My greatness was too much for her mortal frame to endure." Devin looked at her shaking his head. "Obviously." "Devin," Autumn groaned softly. "Please, shut up." "I think it might have been because it had already bonded with you." Cassandra looked at Joe. "They can only be used by one person, right? Once they link...that's it?" Joe shrugged. "I've never seen one worn by someone with the Light before. So your guess is as good as mine” Cassie nodded. "Imma go with that." Autumn frowned a little at Cass then, her lips compressing into a thin line, but she said nothing, instead rewrapping the bracelet in her hand and tucking it back into her pocket. "So, do your stories tell of a third?” Devin asked. “Someone who exists in the Land of Upside Down Thunder? Because mine was given to me by a woman there. I didn't get mine from this realm.” Joe looked thoughtful, his gaze distant as he plainly tried to dredge up some mention of a third mythic figure. "It's said that the Trickster and the Huntsman had followers - people they ruled over. Not men, but looking like men. There's one old, old tale of a war party of ours meeting a handful of warriors in strange, bright clothing with strange weapons. These warriors hunted our war party for sport, it is said, and only three men returned home, and none of them without scars. One of these men told that the shining warriors asked about a horned man - which the earlier tales tell was the description of the Huntsman. When a larger war party went out, to seek revenge, the trail of the strangers disappeared into thin air. As if they had simply gone." "I can definitely confirm the horns," Cassie muttered. Tilting her head, Autumn peered over at Devin thoughtfully. "Does that sound like the woman you met?" "No, she was," Devin looked to the floor trying to recall her features. "She was... normal it seemed. Her head was covered with a helmet, but, I didn't feel a Shine from her. Then again, I'd just blown up the school and torn my organs apart by rapidly jumping to avoid the explosion... so, she could've looked like Beebo for all I remember." Grimacing, the red-haired teen nodded. "Okay, yeah. I guess that's fair." "A mystery, then." Jason murmured, his manner somewhat preoccupied as he turned over the terminology in his head. Two gods... the Trickster... Strange warlike followers hunting for their god, perhaps? Autumn straightened in her chair, again chewing the inside of her lower lip as she considered what her grandfather's friend had said. "All right. So it's basically just as my grandfather wrote, then, and we need to figure the rest out on our own. One of the things I'm curious about, though... And, admittedly," she added with a little smile, "it's kind of trivial compared to everything else. How did the lock to his study end up... um, 'tuned,' I guess? To people with the Light." Cassandra checks her phone to make sure it's still recording, then starts drifting away from Devin, Jase and Autumn to check the room out more, looking at the books on the shelves, and just sort of poking around as she listens to Joe. "You noticed that, huh?" Joe's eyes crinkled at the edges, the old man seeming somewhat pleased. "That was my doing. I don't have the Light - but I can feel it a little. All medicine men have, since the old times. And like the talisman, we've got some tricks to sort of... bend strands of the Light, in little ways. Rituals that look hokey and stuff, but they work. Mostly." She nodded, her expression relaxing slightly into an easy smile. "Yeah, it was pretty cool, honestly. I guess Mom gave up trying to get past it, at some point." Swinging her legs back and forth, the toes of her shoes scuffing at the floor, Autumn exhaled, clear blue eyes meeting the old man's deep brown ones. "So. What can you tell me about the ritual I'm supposed to do?" "Oh, that?" Joe smiled a little. "That's little initiation for the Kavanagh and Crocker line, a bit of a ceremony to bring them under our umbrella, so to speak. They learn some of the tales about the dark spirit, with some examples of the sinister stuff in Shelly's past, and then they learn about the talisman bundle, and hopefully enough belief is scared into 'em that they do what they're supposed to and protect their homes and watch for the cycle to start up so they can keep their loved ones close. That's about it, really. You already know it all, and your Light is stronger than any medicine I can give you to ward off the spirit." Autumn hmm’ed at that and nodded. Nathan had said this was for both the families, that the elders checked to see if they had the Dawning Light… But if Joe was right, that meant none of the Kavanaghs had- at least, not in recent memory. It was a lot to take in. "You mentioned we could 'heal the land' where the fight happened," Cassandra said. She looked over at Joe. "Do any of your stories mention how to do that?" "Plant trees and dance in the rain would be my guess." Devin said sarcastically. "We've all seen The Tree. I think if we're going to heal the land, we need to start there." "Yeah, but how?" Cass said, turning to face Devin. "It's huge. I've seen it." Distracted from her thoughts as the freckles on her cheeks vanished beneath a wave of crimson, Autumn glared at Cassie and Devin in turn. "Do not finish that thought, Deej. I can see it all over your face." Devin pursed his lips together, as though he was fighting a pitched battle against some great force within his soul. "Okay," he finally exhaled. "Fine." "That's what she said." Jason said quietly, a faint gleam in his eyes as a grin tugged at one corner of his lips. Cassie threw her hands up. "Aww, I was going to try to keep it going too. I was just about to say how impressive I thought it was he could keep a grip on himself." "Even if it does lead to blindness." Jase commented, nodding sagely. "Oh, come on." Devin glared at Autumn while gesturing to the other two. Joe's presence became a momentary afterthought. "How come they get a pass?" "I swear," the blushing redhead sighed, raking a hand back through her hair. "I literally cannot even right now, with any of you." Autumn covered her face with her hands, taking a few steps away from the group as she pleaded with all the gods, any god to just... incinerate her on the spot, right there in front of everyone. ...to no avail. Cassandra looked back at Joe, still grinning. "Seriously though...anything about the cleaning thing?" Joe was chuckling, his eyes bright as he watched the by-play. Shaking his head, he said, "There's purifying dances and ceremonies, but somehow I think this will take more than rattles and sacred feathers." "Trickster - Coyote - said that we have to destroy the skull, and that will do it." Jason commented, all business again as he looked at Cassie. "Isn't that right?" "Makes sense." Joe nodded approvingly Cassie frowned. "I don't remember him mentioning destroying the skull...but there is a skull over there. On the throne. And yeah, that does make sense. The throne is what...does it, I think. So the skull must be sort of a center of power." "The throne Is what does what, exactly?" Autumn asked. Cassandra shakes her head. "I'm not sure. The guy, the Air Force guy...he threw it off. He didn't go in. But I remember he was like...drawn to it. You could see it in his face. He couldn't take his eyes off of it. It wanted him to come to it. I think that's what happened to Cody." "Okay," Devin said with all his usual assertive bravado. "Then let’s go break that sh-" he paused and collected himself. "Thing." Autumn folded her arms over her head, slowly pacing the length of the room. "Okay. So. We deal with Cody. We deal with this spirit. We clean whatever's festering in the wound this ship made out, help it heal. More or less in that order. Yeah?" "Seems so." Jason nodded, sitting motionless in his chair save for the turning of his head as he watched Autumn. "I'm not sure the wound was made by the ship anymore. At least not ALL of the wound. I always thought it was weird the Dark is so far away from it. I think it's because the 'wound' that the Dark got in through was made by this fight," said Cassie. "Maybe," Autumn shrugged, unfazed, her eyes moving around the room, skimming over the artifacts and the faint, luminous overlay of silver that limned them as she walked. "So we deal with Cody. We deal with this spirit. We clean whatever's festering in the wound between worlds out, help it heal. What else do we need to find out?" Cassie considered. "I think, if we follow the Man in Black's plan, that's when we head to the ship." "Site B." Jason murmured, and Cass nodded in agreement. Autumn pursed her lips, the image of snowy mountains vivid in her mind's eye. "In the short-term, what do we need, though? Aeon's not calling back, so we're on our own." "Well, some of these bracelets, for one,” Cassie remarked. “And then...we just need to be ready to fight. If Cody was possessed or something by this Huntsman, there's no telling what he'll be able to do." "I have a dozen. You can pick the one you like,” Autumn replied somewhat tautly. "OH! And Enterich,” Cass exclaimed. “We should find him. Find out what he knows." "Ente- oh! The one who told Air Force Guy to..." Autumn paled a little, going still as she remembered what had happened in the basement. "Yeah. him." Devin looked to Joe and shrugged. "You get used to this. Someone says, 'loan me a quarter' and they all pace about and discern the meaning of his cryptic words: why does he need the quarter? Who else knows about the bargain of the quarter and why just a quarter? Will two dimes and a nickel suffice? If not, why?" He rolled his eyes and shrugged. "I'm still on break the skull." "That is definitely the end goal." Cassie nodded again. "You're also still on, 'That's what she said,'" the third official member of the Jauntsen Inner Circle quipped, a little dryly. "We train. We pick our bracelets. Then we go to the Old Town Hall and we do what needs doing." Jase's voice was as calm as his features. “Everything after that... comes after that." "See?" Devin gestured to Jason. "That's my plan. I like that. Let's to the thing." "Sounds like you don't need anything more than what you've already got." Laughing Joe advised. "Oh, sure. Lay out a simple, straightforward list of how we can proceed, and we're talking too much. Jason says the same thing, though, and suddenly it's reasonable. Ugh," Autumn huffed quietly. This was not how she envisioned this meeting going. At all. "That's my superpower." Jase's smile was microscopic, but definite, eliciting a faint, answering smile from his girlfriend. Cassandra had half-turned away, a thoughtful concentration pinching her forehead. "I think I may know how to get a lead on Enterich...but... Hey Laughing Joe?" She looked up at him. "This is all getting all out of control here, and we're kind of wasting your time now, but I have one more question before we go." "Shoot." Joe leaned back in his chair, eyes on her. "Do any of your stories tell you where any of these things happened? Like...the ship crashing, or where your people and Coyote talked, or any of that? Like, are they places around here we could visit? Or those three warriors...anything like that." "The star boat came down in the mountains to the east, so it's said. Coyote hid it from the eyes of Men... But there's a lot of official looking business going into and out of Glacier National Park. If folks have found it, then it makes sense that's where to start looking." Joe said, frowning as he considered. "As for the other events? They took place hereabouts in what is now called Montana. I've no idea where my people first met the god-men, or where the shining warriors hunted the braves, or any of that." Cassandra nodded and let her breath out. "Okay, figured I'd ask. Thanks for all of this. It's been a huge help." "My pleasure." Joe got to his feet, looking around at the four of them, his gaze sober. "Y'all have got a long road ahead. Miles stretching out, not all of them easy ones. You and your friends are welcome back here, though." The angsty loudmouth of the group got up to excuse himself, assuming the meeting was over, and took up a pen to begin writing something on a post-it there on one of the shelves. He passed the yellow square to Joe, where Devin’s phone number had been hastily scrawled. "If you need to Joe, please, call us. You helped us out, we owe you, big time. We're here." He smiled and shrugged. "And, y'know, pass that to Mary if she’s into gods or whatnot." Autumn's hands slid from the crown of her head, finding their way into the back pockets of her jeans as she hung back, watching the others. It was an uncomfortable feeling, bringing other people into something that was hers, inviting them into her house and her life… But that was a good thing, right? Wasn’t change supposed to be uncomfortable? The older man snorted a chuckle, nodding as he tucked the post-it into a pocket. Jason rose from his chair, nodding to Joe, then looked at the others questioningly as if to ask if they were all done. He smiled slightly as his eyes moved to Autumn, studying her expression and posture with his customary intentness. "Are we ready to go?" he asked, both generally to the group at large and specifically to her. "Yeah," she nodded with a little smile, grateful for the distraction. "I think so. The kids are getting restless. Go ahead, I'll be right there." "This is a nice pen," Devin said on his way out. "Writes good, I'm totally keeping this." Cassie snatched it from his hand with a roll of her eyes and set it back on the desk, pushing Devin out of the room. "Hey! C'mon!" "Haven't we stolen enough from the Indians?" Cass asked him archly. "Come on." She took his arm and escorted him from the back room back into the building proper, where he immediately began hitting on Mary, much to Cassie’s chagrin. "Thank you." Jason said quietly to Joe as he stepped after the bickering pair. Casting a glance at Autumn, he added. "I'll be outside." before following Devin and Cass from the room. Joe turned to Autumn, his gaze inquisitive. "Something on your mind?" "So, listen, I know that was a lot," she began, smiling as she stepped forward. "And like they all said, thanks for this. Everything's kind of been dropped in our laps, and we really have no idea what we're doing. Which, I guess, is kind of obvious." The leathery face creased in another one of those beaming smiles. "You're handling it well. Think I was half as composed when I was tapped to be medicine man and told all this stuff?" He raised a hand and grasped Autumn's shoulder. "Your ancestors are watching you, and they're proud, girl. Take it from one who knows." Oh, god. I am not going to cry in front of this man. Nope. Not happening. "Thanks," she breathed, her eyes brightening with emotion. "And, you know. I'm, um. I'm glad you were his friend. He didn't have a lot of those. So. Yeah. I guess that's it. I'll talk to mom tonight, and..." Sighing, Autumn licked her lips. "And deal with the rest as it happens. But at least now we all know we're not totally crazy, right?" "Well, not for believing in Light and Darkness. We might still be crazy for standing against it - but then, someone's got to." Laughing Joe said, his gaze more serious. "You be sure to stop by and let me know how it all turns out, once you win, hey?" "Yeah." She nodded, pushing the hair back from her face. "Yeah, I'll be sure to do that. Listen, um. Would it be really weird if I gave you a hug?" "It'd be weird not to." Joe laughed, opening his arms. Relieved, Autumn embraced the old man who'd been a friend of her grandfather's, and who'd given them more information than she could've hoped. It was exactly the kind of hug she'd expected from someone with his name, and exactly the kind she needed- warm and restorative. They talked for a few minutes more, with the youngest Kavanagh asking Joe a few more personal questions- how her grandfather had come by the lockbox, how they’d become friends, and finally... how to pronounce his name, which she sheepishly admitted she’d avoided on purpose. By the time Autumn headed out to join her friends she was smiling again, and glanced down the sidewalk toward the fast food restaurants. "So," she asked. "Anybody hungry?"
  3. 1 point
    This is a quick write-up I did for anyone interested in participating in the group outing Autumn will invite the teens to on her family's property. There's no obligation to be involved, obviously- my thought is that it would be a good opportunity for roleplay, character development (specifically with regard to some short-term aspirations), and general shenanigans apart from all the externally-driven drama of the plot. If your PC would be interested, they're welcome to attend! We can work out the "hows" and "whys" in Discord. That being said, it will be brought up IC in some fashion as well, to give people the opportunity to ask questions or make suggestions. If there are any specifically OOC questions, comments, or concerns, I'd like to hear them! -Vivi Group Camping Proposal Location: The campsite is a broad, roughly circular clearing of mostly bare, packed earth on the edge of a slow-moving creek, surrounded on three sides by tall, narrow pines and a few smaller deciduous species. There is a fire pit dug in the center for cooking and heat, and plenty of seasoned firewood already stacked between a pair of small trees. There is no running water, no wifi, no electricity- no man-made hookups or tech at all. That means no microwave, no USB charger, and no plumbing. Phones and GPS still work, but the absence of development makes the place feel more remote than it actually is. In the event of an emergency: the site is roughly 4 miles from Autumn’s house (~2 miles off the road from her grandparents’ driveway). An ATV could get back there without much problem, but the trail isn’t meant for full-sized vehicle traffic. Getting back there: Autumn’s mom is willing to allow a few (3-4) vehicles parked in the driveway overnight, so carpooling may be a good idea. It’s entirely possible to walk the entire distance in about an hour and a half, or less if the pace is more than “leisurely” (at least one character intends to do this). What to bring: This is just a list of practical recommendations and suggestions to give you an idea of what your character might want or need to have on-hand. It’s not intended to be exhaustive or all-encompassing. -Entertainment. Cards, books, musical instruments, fishing tackle and gear, games, or your own personal electronic devices and charge packs- whatever your character would want to do with 1-2 days away from everything. A few of the bulky/expensive items could probably be foraged from Autumn’s house, or her grandparents’ garage, if someone really wants a canoe or kayak or something. Other ideas: Star charts, binoculars, a journal, homework (ugh), etc. -Food and drinks. Water. For practical purposes, the creek water can be safely boiled, but you’ll want plenty to drink depending on activity level. Stuff for meals and the means to cook them will be provided, but snacks or anything special your character wants/requires will need to be brought along. -Clothes. Basic, sturdy, comfortable outdoor wear. Good quality sneakers or hiking boots (preferred). Light jacket for early morning and evening temps in the 40s; layers are a good idea. Whatever your character needs to do the stuff they enjoy- swim clothes, towel, sandals, etc. -Basic necessities. Standard toiletries, whatever your character needs for general good hygiene. Insect repellent (more for ticks than mosquitoes). Sunscreen. The usual. There’s a first-aid kit, but it never hurts to have more than one. Flashlight and/or lantern. -A bag. You will need this to put your trash in. -A tent, sleeping bag, blanket, pillow, etc. Autumn can furnish a couple, but either everyone’s cramming into 2-3 tents, or other people will need to chip in. -Folding chair, blanket, beach towel, etc. to sit on. The (Basic) Rules of the Site: -If you bring it in, you take it out. If it’s here when you arrive, it stays. -If you don’t know what it is, don’t touch it. -Do nothing to alter the camp site. -Don’t feed the animals. Who's invited?: All core PCs. Considerations: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hygiene-sanitation.html?series=intro-to-backpacking https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/@5677433/historic?month=8&year=2019
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