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About Shosuro Miren

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  1. Kitsu's ability did not sit well with Miren, though he showed no outward sign of it. It was useful and she was a damned soul. There was much worse waiting for her when her soul was finally released to her eternity. He'd worn a mask of hunting this night, one of black and gold like the sun chasing the moon through the night. He spoke softly from behind his sister, reigning in his temper over the sellspell's words long enough to accomplish what could be salvaged of their mission here. "When you stand before Emma-o, you must face Miru-me and Kagu-hana as well. She will know your secrets and he all your misdeeds. Would it not be better to face them with your final act while lingered one of at least some atonement?" His brow lifted and his tone hardened, "Or would you prefer that the Lord of the Dead extend your time within Jigoku because of your stubbornness and poisonous heart? We are offering you your absolute last chance to seek some modicum of honor before Emma-o passes sentence on you."
  2. "Possible, mais pourquoi boire le meme sake? Pourquoi ne pas boire de le sake local?" Possibly, but why drink the same sake? Why not drink the local sake? The thought had been tickling at the back of Miren's mind through most of the conversation. Why create a trail of commonality over alcohol? It was easy enough to acquire, especially in smaller amounts locally, than to make such a single sizeable purchase in one place. In the common tongue, he continued, "Is there anything already known about the sake? Any special property to it or something added after it was purchased?"
  3. "Not with crossed swords," Miren spoke with confidence and the finely honed cadence of a courtier, "but I have fought their influence in court and as my sister stated, she has made a great study of their methods and magic. Usually they are far more circumspect in their movements than to dispatch zombies to a festival. The tactic seemed too bold for their leadership and too clever for their base adherents. It speaks to a fundamental shift in their manners, one I hope does not become disturbingly commonplace in the days to come."
  4. Several minutes later, Shosuro Miren and his sister Kamiko both stepped into the inn. The male twin divested himself of all weapons and approached the table of Jade Magistrates with keen deference and grace. His kamishimo was of the finest cut and bold red and orange cloth, flattering its owner perfectly and lending a courtly air to Miren even in the midst of an inn; the mask he wore was of fine black filigree inlaid with red stones, some opaque carnelian, and others glittery, flashy rubies. The effect drew attention to his unusual blue eyes, but the offset in colors and swirls of metal made the oddity far more beautiful than off-putting. He bowed precisely where and when he should upon approaching the table and said, "Thank you, magistrates, for the honor to work with you to solve this most vexing issue of moon cultists and their unusual cleverness."
  5. "Would you like us to stand with you from the start?" Miren asked with delicate sincerity. Apologies could be tricky; sometimes instead of soothing old wounds it could open festers and lead to new disagreement - or worse. Miren would be quite incensed to lose Ujimitsu-sama, either to the Topaz Champion's anger or to the law for protecting himself. On the other hand, pushing too hard might hurt Ujimitsu's pride or make him too self-concious to apologize for whatever it was that had happened in the past. "Or would you prefer our introduction afterwards?" he finished.
  6. Miren watched his newest adult clanmate with understated appreciation. It was always a happy occurance to add to the strength of the Scorpion, and even sweeter when such a prize was plucked from the blind and unworthy. As his sister attended to Ujimitsu's tea, Miren served the fellow samurai from the platters that had been set out for the twins. His movements were smoothe and almost dance-like; years of training in courting and the beautiful art of the tea ceremony evident in every small gesture. "Clever cultists," Miren spoke mildly. In truth, he was quite alarmed at the prospect of such leadership and thought mixed together with the insanity of the moon cultists. "They planned the zombies as a distraction and were ultimately after the Dragon Globe?" He hoped this was an isolated incident, but he never planned on hope. It was too depressing.
  7. 1) The main issue with high-powered novas is that they are effectively gods. Most of the characters in QF could have destroyed the world multiple ways if they got into a snit and decided to. How do you make interesting challenges for such characters? I think part of the frustration with the game ended up being "well, it's either all social plots or we blow up the world - maybe even only accidentally - if we actually get into combat". Also, novas as any sort of persecuted minority is just effing laughable at that point, and playing a "future" game becomes a question of "so, how long before novas are the only people that matter because the mega-brains can make a completely need-free civilization through q-tech, the mega-socials can quantum-xanax entire nations into complacency, and the mega-physicals can just threaten to punch your entire continent off the planet if you don't behave." High powered novas make Superman look like chump change, and that makes any sort of realistic Earth-based game an absurd proposition. 2) Really, the only two answers I've ever heard are "do something to lower the effective power of the novas" or "take the game off Earth and don't involve baselines at all because they're not even useable as cannon fodder." 3) This is far too complex of a question to answer generically and usefully. The answer is always going to be "adjust the game to provide the most fun for everyone involved", but how you do that is going to depend on the specific player, PC, and game mix you have going. The problem with high-powered vanilla Abby games is that the system scales up exponentially, has major mechanics holes, and includes powers like make your own universe. It's not a game at that point, it's interactive cooperative writing because the mechanics don't really matter anymore. By removing pretty much all limitations on characters via high Quantum rating, Mastery, and Lvl 4+ powers, you've removed the ability to actually challenge the characters in any meaningful way, and that means you've removed the capability of plot.
  8. Sahale led the three through the forest. Devon seemed at home and utterly relaxed despite their situation. He acted like they were strolling through a park rather than walking deeper into captivity. Though he was confident in his ability to beat the leader of this pack, he knew better than to assume the victory was settled. ,, The trees thinned a little when they saw their first house, but unlike humans, therians didn’t build in clearings. The houses, such as they were, are tucked under the trees. The buildings were all mobile housing, RVs or small cabins made of logs, mud and shingles. ,, Sahale turned once they were inside the settlement and said, “Human, glowbug. Stay here. Black Wolf needs to talk to Liwanu.” ,, “Nope.” Devon crossed his arms, his legs spread wide in a firm stance. “I have made a commitment to them, to guard them. Until I know they’re safe, they don’t leave my sight.” ,, Sahale growled. “You talk like you have a say, Wolf. You don’t.” ,, “Care to test that?” Devon’s voice was cool and dangerous, but there was a hint of excitement in his tone. ,, The two therians stared at one another for long minutes. Finally Sahale lowered her eyes and said, “You can stay in sight of them while you speak with Liwanu. If he doesn’t mind, of course.” ,, Devon nodded once in acknowledgement and his manner had shifted to polite. “I’m sure he won’t, once he understands that I’m committed to them. Even given our issues, I know that he will not insist that another therian break his word.” ,, “No, he will not.” The man who had stealthy joined them was short and lean but there was a sense of power around him. It was like the aura that Devon exuded; the therian mark of true strength. “Black Wolf, come and speak to me. I would know what you’re doing here, and why you’ve brought a human to my lands.” ,, “Gladly.” Devon glanced at Jasmine and Puck as if to warn them to be good, then followed Liwanu to a spot within sight but out of hearing. ,, His companions watched as he walked away, Jasmine worrying nervously at her lower lip. She felt Puck shift his footing slightly and she glanced at him, a flicker of embarrassment at having to have been carried finally catching up to her. “You can put me down now.” ,, “I could,” he agreed in a low murmur, making no move to set her down. “But your feet are still blistered,” he continued on in an infuriatingly calm, logical voice, “and you’ll wince and either step around gingerly or sit down. Either will be seen as weakness to our...hmm...hosts. Whereas me standing here, holding you without needing to set you down, might just give them pause on thinking the two of us easy and injured prey.” He shrugged and grinned down at her. “Or I just like being all manly and holding on to you. I’ll let you decide, ‘Cinny’.”
  9. They made it through a dozen or so streets before the barricades were up, Puck's driving skills tested to the limits as he sped along the thoroughfares, taking tight turns to avoid their pursuers and avoid clipping terrified pedestrians at the same time. By the time they'd made it to the small dock he'd spotted from the streets, Devon had managed to get the bullets out of his body and heal up most of the actual wounds. ,, "We're here," Puck said a touch breathlessly. "I don't suppose either of you know how to run a ship?" ,, Jasmine shook her head in a wordless 'no' and Devon groaned out, "Not well, but I can help you if you do." ,, "Well, we're about to see how much I remember from the Quinn's yachts." He helped pull the bulky therian out of the car and onto the small pleasure cruiser. "Cinnamon, see if you can find any food downstairs while I get us up and running. Devon, uh, just sit there and don't eat us, okay?" ,, Despite his levity, Puck's mind was racing through what he knew about modern boats and how to get them running without a key; it really had been simpler when all you had to do was run up some sails and hope the winds were with you. He jimmied the door to the captain's cabin and pried off the panel around the ignition. It took a few tries, but the motor purred to life with minimal spark damage to his fingers, and they were underway. He pointed them upstream, back towards the nephilim-controlled of the Isle de la Madelaine; it was back-tracking, but after Cinnamon's pyrotechnics at the abbey, he was pretty sure they needed whatever sanctuary they could find at this point. Jasmine came back up on deck with some beef jerky and several pounds of uncooked hamburger patties; Devon ripped into the raw meat with a grimace at the pre-processed taste, but healing was more important than flavor at the moment and it was all they had. ,, They'd barely made it around the Íle d'Oléans before the border patrol ships started appearing. He grimaced and wondered how long he could keep a glamour around the whole ship, then cussed in that peculiar language Jasmine had heard snippets of since being caught up with the beautiful and enigmatic nephilim. "Cinnamon, I don't suppose you've got some fireballs that could melt an entire river fence, do you?" ,, She glanced ahead of them and swallowed hard, already feeling the cost of her spontaneous eruption at the abbey. Oh god, did I kill those men? She shook her head, shaking and curling up on one of the built-in seats. "N-no, I don't think so. Maybe one section, t-to slip through-" ,, Puck gave a sharp shake of his head, "No good, they'd know exactly where we'd be and just gang up there." He gave the wheel a sharp turn, his two passengers sliding hard against the change in momentum. "We need new transportation, and some that doesn't scream 'escaping fugitives'. Any ideas?" ,, "Get us on shore again," Devon growled, more from hunger than bad temper but it was still intimidating. "I'll get us a new car." ,, Puck headed them to the nearest marina, pulling the little cruiser up to the first empty dock and jumping onto the pier, tying them off more out of habit than care for the ship going drifting. The trio made quick time back to shore, not running but definitely making better time than the leisurely stroll of the clueless humans around them just out for a day on the river. Devon scanned the road running along the marina and picked his target, a large, sturdy-looking blue minivan and moved quicker than Puck or Jasmine could stop him once they realized his plan. The van hit him squarely across grill of the vehicle, pushing the dense therian several feet into the street and leaving a dent in the front bumper. Devon had chosen well, though - the van hadn't been going fast enough to kill him or for him to completely crush the front of the car. ,, Puck grabbed Cinnamon's arm and thrust her at Devon's crumpled form while he headed for the human man getting out of the driver's seat. He snuck up behind the man, snaking an arm around his shoulder in a secure hold and managing to get a hand over his mouth before the poor man could scream. He pulled him back to the van, mostly hidden from the mariners and other possible onlookers by the van itself. "Don't struggle and this will go better for everyone," he said quietly in the man's ear. "We don't want to hurt you, but we're all going to go for a bit a ride." ,, He pulled the key bob from the man's hand and unlocked the car, "Open the side door." He pulled the man's body into a painful twist when he hesitated, "Like I said, I don't want to hurt you, but I will." The man made a strangled half-sob and pulled the door open. Two children, a girl of eight and a boy of four, were seated in the two bucket seats just behind their parents, and another bench seat too up most of the back of the van. Devon and Jasmine stumbled into the backseat, the smaller human woman struggling to help the larger therian into the car. The two human children stared in shock at the weird things going on, thankfully still silent instead of screaming at the weirdness. Puck shoved the man in with them and cautioned his Sumaya, "Get his cellphone and keep an eye on all of them." ,, He shut the door with a sharp slam, then slipped into the driver's seat. The man's wife was staring at him in horror, her mouth open in a silent O of fear. Puck put the car back in drive, completing their carjacking/kidnapping in under thirty seconds. He eased them back into the flow of traffic and quickly locked the windows and doors from his master controls on the driver's door. "Do you have music?" he asked the wife, his voice jarringly conversational. ,, "W-what?" She swallowed hard and glanced back to her children, who in turn were staring at the bleeding man-shaped but not human person curled up on the backseat. ,, "For the kids," Puck responded impatiently. "I don't want them screaming, so do you have any music we can put on to distract them?" ,, "Are-are you going to k-ki-" she started to ask him, hysteria setting in as his words put her mind on the danger to his family. ,, "Not if I don't have to," Puck's irritation was showing through as he kept one eye on the roads and the other searching for CDs or cassettes or something to stave off the tantrums building the back as the kids finally picked up on the fear of their parents. "We just need your car and if you cooperate, it'll just be one bad car ride you tell you friends and therapist about over a lot of wine. If you behave and keep your kids from freaking out." He looked over at her, his personal glamour slipping as his focus was split between making the van look undented, tinting the windows just dark enough to look normal while keeping anyone from being able to see inside, and keeping a lid on his own fears. ,, The wife, long accustomed to following the orders of the men in her life, stumbled through the glove compartment for the case of children's CDs, slipping one into the player. Upbeat children's hymns hummed out of the van's sound system, an absurd juxtaposition to the situation, but the little girl began singing the lyrics loudly and off-key, bouncing up and down in her chair. The little boy took a little more convincing and Puck gave the mother another stern look when they pulled up to a stop-light; she gave the boy a wobbling smile and began singing herself. He still wasn't convinced and the woman finally gave her husband a terrified look and motioned him to start singing as well. Puck winced at the complete lack of anyone in their captive family to carry a tune, but it kept them distracted and let him thread his way through the city, using the GPS navigation software displayed on the screen on the dashboard to find the small, forgotten side-streets to get them past the blockades and out into the countryside. ,, Twenty miles outside of Quebec City, Puck finally relaxed enough to glance over his shoulder at his two current partners in crime. "Well, that could have gone better. How's he doing, Cinnamon? Oh, and next time you visit family, try not to blow up the abbey, 'kay?"
  10. Puck moued in a momentary fit of pique at being told just how plain he'd have to be, and he shrugged. "I'll do my best, but I may actually need some make-up." He held up his hands as Cinnamon started to object, "No, like concealer and nude base. I can tamp down pretty hard and look mostly human, but...it'll be hard, I'll be distracted and I might slip on the documents. It's better if I have some makeup to lend a hand." ,, At his new companions' twin look, he shrugged. "This isn't the first time I've gone playing in human lands, it's just been a while." ,, "This ain't a damn game," Devon growled, still annoyed from the flight. ,, "No," Puck answered slowly, "that would be fun. This is infiltration of a people that would rather see your and my heads on pikes than knowingly speak to us, over a matter that may very well mean our world is about to be burned to the ground over...." The nephilim visibly caught himself and tapped his fingers on his leg, letting out some tension that honestly had nothing to do with sneaking into human territory or dealing with a grumpy therian. "Look, there are limits to what I can do and things we can do that will make it easier on all of us. So, let's go do some shopping and then get on the boat." ,, The Black Wolf huffed, but the three headed off towards the shopping district of Iles de la Madelane. Makeup was easy to pick up, including a kit proper for the wife of an ambitious priest. The clothes, though, they almost missed the boat over that. Cinnamon picked out enough proper outfits for herself in less than a half hour; the rest was spent 'negotiating' with the prima donna nephilim. For every brown or grey inconspicuous outfit Cinnamon brought him, he'd counter with something technically following her instructions, but more stylish and in bright reds or striking whites. Devon paced the store and eyeing the clerk, a pretty young nephilim boy that was caught between laughing at Cinnamon and Puck's back and forth and how easily his attempts to flirt with the therian flew completely over the intense man's head. Watching the clock, Devon finally grabbed a half-dozen of the suits they were nitpicking over and shoved them at the counter. ,, "We're going to miss the damn boat," he snapped. ,, Puck sighed and added on last suit, a blue one he and Cinnamon had finally agreed on, and a good chunk of the money they'd gotten from the plane disappeared inside the cash register. They changed on the ferry and repacked their luggage; Puck took the Ibiza clothes to someone on the ship and came back with a little bit more money and some jewelry for Cinnamon that looked real unless you had a jeweler's magnifier. "There we go, darling," he beamed as he clasped a gold link chain and an antique-looking amber pendant. ,, The ship horn announced their arrival in Quebec City and instructions for where each class of passengers was to go for customs and disembarkation. Puck held out his arm to his Sumaya - Mrs. Julia Simons for the moment - and smiled. "Shall we go, my dear?" ,, Puck's Suit and Cinnamon's Necklace ,,
  11. Please leave comments, conjecture, questions, and reviews here. Rules are: be courteous and helpful; critiques are welcome, belittling is not. ,, Thank you for reading and taking the time to discuss!
  12. Abbey - Communal living accommodation for nuns. No abbeys exist for men in Children of Heaven. ,, Family - When used with a capital in reference to a nephilim bloodline, it refers to nephilim families of high "purity", or angelic ancestry, influence, resources, and connections. A family is usually composed of multiple Households of the adult members of the family, with children often living most of their lives at home. ,, First - The terms used by therianthropes for their leaders, usually coupled with a geographical or social tag, such as the First of South America or the First of the Ailuranthropes (cat shifters). There is also the First, who is the leader of all therianthropes. The term of First is gained through a democratic vote, with acts of bravery, martial prowess, and personal magnetism determining most votes. Flood, The - The flooding of the World by human Sanctified that ended the ancient Nephilim empire roughly five thousand years ago. The Flood broke up the original single landmass of the World and reconfigured the world and oceans to their modern locations. ,, Humanity - The children of Seth, third son of Adam and the Eve, and his three wives. Humans carry the divine gift to perform miracles and claim that they are the chosen people of God, having souls and free of the sin of Caine. Humanity controls most lands considered "First World" countries in our world. ,, Kizora - A nephilim that is not considered a child but is not considered adult yet because they have not established their own Household. ,, Metatron - The Voice of God, the only angel that God communicates directly with. ,, Miracles - Magical abilities possessed by humans. They include healing, repairing broken objects, cleansing items and people, creating everything from fire to simple items, flight, etc. More specifics to be added as we come up with them. ,, Monastery - Facilities for both men and women (always separate facilities) for those that commit sins against the Church but not actual crimes. Like asylums of the Victorian era, many methods are used to "rehabilitate" those sent to monasteries. Very few people sent to monasteries are released again, almost always women and universally broken in spirit. They are usually kept out of sight by their families and take up menial tasks in their family's homes. ,, Nephilim - The bastard children of the Second Woman and God's angels. They wield glamour, the ability to cast illusions, and are inhumanly beautiful. They also emit a glow, the stronger the glow the greater the angelic heritage of the nephilim. Nephilim are confined to small islands around the world, neither humans nor therianthropes will let nephilim get a foothold on any mainland. Nephilim lifespans are directly tied to the strength of their angelic heritage, ranging from human average to centuries; it is rumored that there truly ancient nephilim still living in the World. ,, Nephilim Empire - The first empire of the World, created and ruled by the nephilim, with humans and therians as slave races. ,, Nun - A human woman that has taken vows as a Daughter of Seth, forsaking marriage and children to pursue magical and professional ambitions otherwise denied to women in human society. Nuns that run an abbey are referred to as Revered Sister, and nuns that are particularly respected in their field of choice are called Sister Superiors, usually with their area of expertise added (the Sister Superior of Engineering at Brightenburg Abbey). All inventions, discoveries, and advancements made by nuns are considered the property of and created by the Church. Any nun or her family that takes personal pride in the accomplishments of the nun is considered prideful and crass. ,, Praisya - Nephilim word for slave. ,, Pirajana - Nephilim word for servant. ,, Prophet, The - The head of the Church, and technically elected by the Cardinals after the death of the previous Prophet. In practice, Prophets usually designate an heir before they die that is then voted in by the Cardinals. It has happened before that a designated heir was not voted in, but only once. The first Prophet was a human that (at least claimed) the Metatron spoke to him, instructing him in how to organize humanity to cause the Flood and end the nephilim empire. ,, Sanctified - Humans with significant talent in miracles. ,, Ser - Unisex nephilim term of respect. ,, Sentinels - A clerical order of soldiers that oversees the security of nuns and pursues profane crimes - crimes that specifically violate the tenets of the Church. ,, Sumaya - The head of a nephilim's Household. ,, Therianthropes - The children of Lilith and Caine, therianthropes have the ability to shift between humanoid and animal forms. Therians control most of the "Second World" and "Third World" territories in the world. They lost control of North America to humans only a generation ago; some therians even still remember living on the continent. Therians usually live a few decades longer than humans. ,, Wives of Seth - When each son of Adam was born, it was with a twin sister. God commanded that Caine's twin sister be Abel's wife and Abel's twin be Caine's. Caine's twin decided she preferred Caine over Abel and seduced the younger brother. When Caine confronted Abel to officially claim her as his second wife, the brothers quarreled and Caine murdered Abel. Caine was expelled from the family and both women were given to the third son Eve bore afterwards, who also had a twin sister. Thus Seth came to have three wives, which is now the legal limit for a man in the human empire. ,, Woman, First - Lilith, created at the same time as Adam. She refused to be submissive to Adam and left him. ,, Woman, Second - Created from dust just as Adam and Lilith had been, but Adam refuted her as he had watched God create her and was disgusted to see the innards of a human. She left without having been given the Breath of Life, a soul, by God or a name by Adam. She is also known as the Nameless One. ,, Woman, Third - Eve, Adam's second wife and the mother of Abel, Caine, and Seth and their twin sisters.
  13. The flight out of Ibiza was as clandestine as you could get in the early afternoon. Packing was done with haste, mostly Puck just dumping essentials and small, expensive and saleable items into the expensive luggage set he dug out of the depths of walk-in closet in his room. He left a note, written in surprisingly elegant handwriting, on the table, thanking the Quinn family for their hospitality and apologizing for the hasty departure - polite and done in under a minute. Then they literally snuck over the fence at the back of the estate, where a cab was waiting on a small service road running between the estates of the neighborhood. ,, They drove to the docks, not the airport, and boarded a small but luxurious sea plane. Once they were all in and the luggage stowed, Puck ducked into the cockpit to give their destination, "Quebec City. How close can we get?" ,, "Iles de la Madelane is ours," the female nephilim replied, flipping switches and doing other inscrutable actions that would takes them from the water to the air. "There's a boat service into the city, but it'll take a few hours. I can try to fly in low, closer, but there's a good chance we'll get tagged and taken in as smugglers." ,, "Madelane, then. Any customs or visa issues?" ,, "There's a dozen blanks in the closet in the cabin, depending on what you need. Some money, too. I'm cleaned out on clothes, though, and wouldn't have anything for the therian anyways." She glanced back at him, her smile distant and professional. "Either buckle in as co-pilot or go sit with your Sumaya and the therian. We're taking off now." ,, Puck made his way back into the cabin, pausing to grab the forged documents out of the closet along with one of the rolls of human money from a box with another half-dozen rolls. He slipped into a seat and belted in next to Cinnamon just as the plane revved up and pulled through the water and up into the sky. "We're going to land on a nephilim island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and take a boat into Quebec City. We've got some starter cash and ID's. We need to decide on who we're going to be while we're there. Tourists from the Iles de la Madelane is the easiest story, but it'll mean we're on a restricted visa and any hotel we stay at will require us to register so the city police and Sentinels can keep an eye on us." He grinned at Devon, "Well, you and me, mostly. Since we're both such monsters." ,, He flipped through the passports in his hands, glancing through the filled-in parts that set up sketchy but usable alternatives to the generic 'tourists'. "Let's see...." he chuckled, "oh, here's my favorite. The personal servants of the Bishop of Eastwick. Ah, that takes me back.....unfortunately the good Bishop had the indecency to die a year ago and there's been a snag in the confirmation of the new one we set up. Apparently some human actually managed to make a legitimate bid for the position. So that's out. Pity. So much freedom for so little scrutiny." He sighed and continued sifting through false identities, "There's also novitiates on a pilgrimage to the Grand Cathedrals around the world. Quebec City has a Grand Cathedral, but passing as clergy...." He glanced up at Devon and shook his head. "I barely know enough to really do it, and I don't think you could pull it off at all even if I glamoured you to look human. You're just a bit...wild...for a nice young priest and his pretty new wife." ,, He tapped the passports against his lip, thinking, "Although, I could probably pass well enough, with Cinnamon to help me, and you could be our bodyguard while we travel. The dynamics are close enough to the truth that so long as someone doesn't ask me to perform a mass or bless a baby, we might just pull it off." He cycled through the last ones, shaking his head. "Ehh, I think those are our best options. Cinnamon? You're our human expert, what do you suggest?"
  14. Puck kept his seat, unlike the human tradition of standing and shaking he hands. He motioned for Devon to take a seat himself, and watched the therian curiously, trying to hold back his usual boyish enthusiasm for new and interesting things. "So, what sends the Black Wolf, nephew of the First, to Ibiza? Since you're here and not hip-deep in sex and drugs already, I assume it's not the usual reason." ,, "This is business." Devon didn't seem entirely comfortable with his business. "I need some help, something that therians can't do themselves, and in return, I offer you therian help." Puck arched a brow and stood up, pacing over to a large crystal decanter of strong bourbon and poured them both glasses; he held one out to Devon. "Well, I might be able to help you, depending on what it is you actually need, but I'm a bit curious as to what kind of 'therian help' you think I need?" he asked, his tone inquisitive rather than sinister. ,, "I've been approached to kidnap your Sumaya." Devon actually winked at Cinnamon, and took the drink, "and I coulda done it to, if I'd snatched her at the gate. However, I'm not even interested in that. First, I'll let you know who approached me, but better, I'll spread word among the therians not to help anyone moving against your Sumaya." ,, Puck lounged back into his chair, sipping at the bourbon. "That might be helpful," he conceeded, but continued, "except that the most likely therians to do such a thing would be in the service of a nephilim and not care one shit what you told them once they were out of your admittedly esteemable presence." He watched Devon with curious lidded eyes, "What do you need? If I know that I could tell you what it would be worth in return from me." ,, "True, I don't have any influence over bottom-feeders. But I'm not in service, and I was approached." Devon paused and lifted his drink to his lips. Puck noticed him stop before it reached his lips, his nostrils flaring wide. Lowering the glass without drinking, he continued, "I need to get to a human of influence and speak with them. I'd be helpful if they were a human who didn't have their head lodged up God's ass so far all they hear is His farts."
  15. Puck leaned back in his chair and sighed. "You know...pretty much nothing about nephilim society, right?" ,, A flippant remark sprang to her lips - about corruption and stealing souls - but she bit it back at his expression - a mix of annoyance, seriousness, and an undercurrent of something she couldn't quite pin down but that seemed a little bitter. "Yeah." ,, "Okay, then, we'll start somewhere near the beginning. Nephilim society, despite appearances of being nothing more than a collection of degenerates and drug dealers, is actually highly structured. Everyone has a place - a rank, if you will - that is a combination of their familiy's standing, wealth, and influence, and their personal standing, wealth, influence, and blood purity." He idly shuffled through the small boxes as he spoke, opening them and inspecting the contents with minimal curiosity. "Blood purity is how strong their angelic heritage is and that particular aspect is the single most important determination of a nephilim's worth. The other parts can all be acquired or faked in the course of a lifetime, but purity, that's set the moment you're born. A poor nephilim of high blood purity will always outrank a thin-blooded nephilim of great wealth and influence. Take Cessily. She's a vicious little bitch, which would be more of a positive trait for her had she not been born so thin-blooded. Not only was her mother fairly thin-blooded herself, but her father is a snake therian. This means that Cessily is only half as pure as her mother. Even had her mother been somewhat pure-blooded, Cessily's non-nephilim heritage would have kicked her down several ranks below where she'd've normally been." ,, He tossed a card decorated with pink and red roses and smelling strongly of rose petal perfume back down on the tray and shrugged, "That's racism for you. Unfair to Cessily, perhaps, but the World is the World. No matter if she had the mind and charisma to wheedle her way into great wealth and personal influence, she still lacks any noteworthy family connections and none of the important Families," he stressed the capital again, "would ever consider her for anything other than a low-ranking servant, and certainly not for mating privileges. So she'll stay at the lower edge of society her entire life. It's part of what makes her so full of spite and venom. She particularly hates me because we are opposite ends of the spectrum." ,, He glanced up at her, flipping the next card he'd picked up between his fingers. "What you saw when you came into my room this morning? That's a mark of a pure-blood nephilim and I'd appreciate you not speaking about it to others. Janessa broke the locks, but I usually put a chair in front of the door to keep her or others from coming in uninvited." His fingers worried over the card and he wasn't quite looking at her. "The stronger a nephilim's angelic blood, the brighter they will glow when not glamoured and the more draw they will have. Their glamour will be stronger, as well, and a nephilim's lifespan is also tied to their purity." ,, He did look up at her then, his impossibly blue eyes pinning her in place. "These are things not told to humans or therians that are not bound in service, Cinnamon. You can run away, like I said before, and it will take me time - possibly even the rest of your lifetime - to track you down, but if you speak of these things to those not bound in service to another nephilim, you will be killed by my people. As will the people you have spoken to and anyone else that is suspected of knowing. Loose lips on your part can kill dozens, even hundreds, of people. We do not share our secrets with others." ,, "Then why tell me?" Jasmine whetted suddenly dry lips, unconsciously leaning back from him. ,, "Because," he replied in that same serious tone he'd threatened her with, "like it or not, we are bound to one another for now and I am not yet prepared to leave Ibiza. That means you will be my Sumaya here and you will need to understand these things when dealing with other nephilim and their servants. Like Geran. You outrank him even though I am only a guest in this house. You cannot order him to betray his Family, but you can order him around, if you wanted to, and if he acts disrespectfully to you - which he won't - it would be as if he acted rudely to me. He would be punished by the Quinns, possibly even released from service if they perceived that I was offended by his behavior." ,, She nodded, taking that in and mulling over what he'd told her so far. "The therian last night, the one with the eyes-" ,, "Ndale, the one that was trying to get you killed?" Puck interjected. ,, "Yeah, him. He said you hadn't claimed to be from a Family, right?" She watched him closely, learning the little tells of his movements and expressions. "But from...from what you said, about this morning and your...the way you..." She trailed off, not sure enough what she was allowed to say about it without making him annoyed or even angry. ,, "Nephilim can't always control themselves when they sleep. Sometimes they loose their glamour completely," he explained. "Especially if they've had a stressful night." He tried to hold a stern look, but a smirk hooked onto his lips after only a few seconds. Despite the annoyance her appearance was causing him, Puck found himself liking his new human. She had a spark he'd rarely seen in human woman and the presence of mind to roll with the curves life was throwing at her. ,, Jasmine managed not to flush at the smile and nodded, "Right. So, if you're that pure-blooded...?" ,, "Why don't I have a Family?" he finished for her. "I do, I just don't claim them and that's all I want to talk about that." She could tell that struck a nerve with him, especially when he changed the subject as she had just a few minutes before. "Now, back to what it means to be a Sumaya. You are the head of my Household, which right now consists of you and me. Usually, you would have been groomed for this position for years, even from birth, and the establishment of my Household would have been some grand event, complete with presents of property, servants, slaves, and any number of other ornamental things complimentary to my lineage and personal success as a kizora - a young nephilim that is not a child but has not yet begun their Household." ,, He gave her a crooked smirk. "You've officially forced me into adulthood, Cinnamon. I hope you're proud of that." His tone had that same undercurrent of bitterness, but it was cut with a self-deprecating humor. "No doubt over the next several days these invitations and presents will become more elaborate and larger. Hopefully people on Ibiza will know me well enough by now not to try sending me people, but don't be surprised if strangers show up claiming that they now belong to me. Send them back with a polite thanks but an explination that my Household is as large as I deem necessary at the moment." He glanced around the pool house and shrugged, "At the least, I don't have room for anyone else." He held up a hand as a thought occured to him, "Oh, any gifts of property must also be refused. Just say...uh...that I haven't decided where I intend to settle my household yet. That should hold them off for a while." ,, Jasmine's eyes widened at that. "Will people really try to give you things like that?" she asked incredulously. ,, "Oh, yes, the ones that can afford it or desperately need a mate for themselves or a female relative," he assured her with complete seriousness. "Remember the rna? Not even the gift of a mansion or country estate would be enough for any Family on Ibiza to try to claim me for rnin, and part of that is because they're kept off balance by not knowing just how pure-blooded I am or what Family I undoubtedly must belong to, but they are trying to incur enough debt with me to be able to claim a mating contract from me. I've kept the Quinn women out of my bedroom and usually been more circumspect in my sleep for the times when they were able to sneak in, but they know enough to know that I would create children of greater purity than they are - and they are the most pure-blooded nephilim in the Mediterranean, at the very least. Their prospects for mates to produce high purity children that aren't far too closely related to them is already quite a small pool of candidates, which is why they've put up with supporting me for so long even though I was upfront with them from the moment I arrived on Ibiza that I did not want to father children-" ,, "And giving you a place to stay and whatever else they have hasn't already been enough?" Jasmine was doing her best to keep up with everything he was telling her, trying to make correlations to the human lifestyle. That wasn't working much, but she had a sharp mind and a good memory. ,, She was rewarded with another genuine smile from Puck. "There are several things in play on that. The first is that they gain prestige from hosting me, lessening any rna I would incur from staying here. There's also some traditional hospitality rules among the nephilim that further lessen any debt I would have to them. Also, I'm very good at this." The smile turned into a cocky grin, one Jasmine was sure she was going to learn to want to smack him for in the future. "Nearly everything I've gotten from them I've gotten one or another of them to declare dana, especially when the women were initially trying to curry my favor. Finally, the Quinns can afford to be patient. They're pure-blooded, remember? And that means that they will live much longer than a human or therian. I've been here for...a while. A long time, by human standards, but by the timeline of a well-bred nephilim, I'm still 'settling in'." ,, Her mouth had gone dry again and she asked, "How long have you been here?" ,, "How old are you, Cinnamon?" His eyes were twinkling with amusement, but she could feel him pulling back some from her. ,, "In my twenties," she replied vaguely, her own reservations about revealing too much about herself rushing back in. ,, "Then I arrived on Ibiza some time shortly before or after your birth." ,, Her jaw dropped a bit in shock and she closed her mouth with an audible clack from her teeth. He barely looked as old as her, let alone old enough to have been travelling around on his own before she was even born. "H-how old are you?" ,, The twinkle fled from his eye and the grin disappeared completely. He put down the box he'd been hold, shutting the lid over the gem-covered tie-tack. "Old enough. That's a sensitive question to ask a nephilim, by the way, Cinnamon. Don't ask it of anyone else again unless I specifically direct you to, understood?" ,, She nodded and he cast about the room for a moment, obviously collecting his thoughts again. "Good. Now....back to being my First. Your primary duties are to handle the affairs of my Household. That should take all of ten minutes on a busy day, as I don't plan on actually establishing a power base and playing politics on that level for a long time yet. After that, you are to attend to my needs and any duties I direct you to. Like returning these invitations. You can read, which is good. How is your penmanship?" ,, Jasmine shrugged, "Fine. Why?" ,, "Some of these invitations will require a written response, as opposed to a printed one." He was already sorting them out into two piles, one significantly smaller than the other. "Do you know how to use a computer?" ,, "Yes," she answered with more of a huff than she'd intended and Puck looked up in surprise. "Like I said before, Cinnamon, most human women I've met are barely literate, if they can read at all, and haven't been allowed to use a computer for anything other than browsing for clothes and make-up. And those were the daughters or wives of wealthy, influential, or incredibly permissive human men." ,, "Sorry," she mumbled. She sat down in a chair next to him and added, "I have good penmanship, I can type and I know how to use most programs on a computer. I am not particularly good at cleaning or healing." She tried not to sound bitter or angry, but it was difficult. The memory of failing at so simple a miracle as fixing the lamp she'd broken still stung in her mind. ,, Puck just nodded, as if that was not only normal, but perfectly acceptable for a woman to be deficient in her proper duties. "Geran does all the cleaning and would probably have a fit if you tried, and I do my best not to get injured so I think we'll be fine there. Computer skills are much more useful. How are you with diplomacy and etiquette?" ,, Jasmine's brow furrowed in confusion at Puck's blithe indifference to her unwomanlyness. The only kind of diplomacy or etiquette women were taught was what was necessary to set up important dinners for her husband and knowing how to keep out of sight while the men ate and socialized; being the daughter of a Cardinal, she'd learned a little more from the need for state events and photo ops, but again she was expected to be seen and not heard speaking. "I...I know a little. What do you expect me to do?" ,, "Meet with people I don't want to or can't for social reasons, mostly. You're my interface with the public world now. It will be expected that in order to see me, formally, others will have to go through you first. The highly ranked nephilim will send their own servants, other Sumaya if they want to show respect and lesser servants if they're particularly arrogant or trying to establish that they're more highly ranked than I am. Or that they're offended at having to deal with a non-nephilim Sumaya. Ask anyone that comes to you to identify themselves and the Family they represent first thing, and send anyone that identifies a Family but doesn't identify themselves as a Sumaya away immediately. The others," he sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I guess I'll need to get you a smartphone and keep a calendar with you. I'll mark the times I'll leave open for meeting with people and you'll schedule them in. Their masters, I mean. Never schedule me to meet with a Sumaya or other servant unless I've told you to. You meet with servants; I meet with the nephilim they represent, if I agree to it. Never promise or indicate that I will, only that you will check with me. You can use the phone for that as well, unless I text you that I need to think about it or need time to decide or check them out." He took a breath and blew it out slowly, going over things in his head as he continued, "Humans or therians representing themselves or another human or therian must go through you, because even after a half-dozen millenium, we still haven't gotten over having ruled over the rest of you before the Flood. Be polite to others, but remember never to accept a gift unless it is declared dana, for yourself or on my behalf. And don't lose your temper - it makes you look weak and exploitable, and rudeness itself can incur rna and since you represent me, that rna falls on me." ,, He stopped and let silence fall between them for several moments, then tilted his head and tested her. "Now, what are the important things I just told you?" His tone and intensity belied his youthful look, giving a glimpse of that pure-blood nephilim agelessness he'd spoken of.
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