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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 4:00 am 
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The night went on as smoothly as the others had since their leaving Lookshy.

The lands of the Confederation of Rivers were seldom peaceful in this late Age of Sorrows, yet as Guildsmen were wont to say, “Trade must flow…â€


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:22 pm 
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Ake lay next to the campfire at evening, casually watching the flames while his brain considered the information they had been collecting. Interesting things were afoot, but the question was if they were worth the detour. On the one hand, someone was manipulating forces towards a conflict that could cost many lives if it were not contained. On the other hand, if that someone happened to be their target then they would strike out at the catspaw while ignoring the feline's head. Of course, if that was the case then the situation could also spin out of control if they removed the mind directing it.

Ake really did not know which course of action to take, as either one would be worthy of their time, although the immediate satisfaction of protecting the weak and innocent was strong. He would listen to the others though. He suspected though that support for the interlude might not be great. Orduin would of course want to follow his duty, and Teamhair, while her own Lunar, would probably support him. Liayna could go either way as disruption of trade in the region could prove costly to her interests, but then again annoying Lookshy by chasing rumours instead of accomplishing the given mission would also hurt trade. Yevela and Kolth he wasn't too sure where they would fall.

They had just enough information to get burned by this whole scenario. If they went one way then they would miss the opportunity to get more information and possibly avert a war, but if they went the other way then they would lose valuable time and could let their prey slip through their fingers. He would listen to the arguments of the others first before making his own.

"So what do the rest of you think of this whole Valmer/Keln thing? Something stinks here and the dead have already been driven back, so hopefully it isn't them," he commented before throwing a bit of grass into the fire, watching it burn up and fly away as scattered embers before it even hit the burning wood.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:30 am 
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"It's worth a look at least," Teamhair agreed. A war would not help her plans for the River Confederation, and might cause Lookshy to step in. "The real problem will be time. Do we have enough to do both?"

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:31 pm 
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"In theory." Orduin said slowly. "The real question is whether our quarry will have fled after we aid in the battle." The Gunzosha was torn. Duty pulled him in both directions. "I admit I have trouble deciding. While our mission is our mission, this war will disrupt Lookshy's main objective in the region."

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:11 pm 
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"It is a troublesome set of circumstances to be sure." He admitted. "It is said that the relationship between the Marukani and our present employers is good, I am uncertain if that extends to Valmer/Keln. However, we should keep in mind our overall objectives and the reason why we have come this way to begin with." His head turned from side to side as he considered what each chosen had to say. In many ways, their responses mirrored their individual personalities and their own distinct agendas. He glanced towards Kolth only to discover that the Night caste was not where he had moments before been.

I am going to have to get used to that.

"It is certainly worth a look. However, consider that of the two paths before us only one is expected to be time sensitive. A conflict worthy of the name will take some time to play out, there is no guarantee that our quarry will remain where he is now. As a result, I would recommend that we deal with our quarry first." It was the most logical choice. It could also be argued to being the least sympathetic. Nonetheless, conflicts in the scale of Kingdoms and nations were usually time consuming affairs. While it was true that every day that passed risked the loss of many lives if they were lucky the nations were evenly matched enough that no easy victory would be achievable to either side.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:12 pm 
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Liayna had been unusually quiet as the news had come in. The caravan itself knew that there had recently been several crossroads like this, where Liayna had to make a choice between two situations. Protecting her family had almost always come first, but she could not turn a blind eye to the suffering of innocents. Often her hand was subtle in such matters, but a few times it had resulted in other actions. With a deep sigh, she stared off into the distance, deep in thought. Finally, she spoke.

“War is not my place, but I cannot sit idly by and let innocents suffer. What weighs on my mind is the cause. We have been sent to deal with one responsible for inciting acts of violence through trickery and subterfuge. Which will save more lives? Dealing with the direct conflict, or dealing with its possible mastermind? I do not enjoy either option, as leaving one to fester will almost certainly result in a great loss of life. Part of me wants to take my caravan to the warring nations to try and investigate, perhaps even negotiate, to solve the problem peacefully. That would leave the rest of you free to deal with the trickster’s machinations more directly.â€


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:58 am 
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Ruminating on what the others had been saying, Ake said, "Dividing the group may not be the wisest of decisions. And I suppose the question is this: how long can the puppetmaster make his strings before he risks tangling them? If this is the work of our target, could he run this campaign of escalation effectively from afar, or will he have moved closer? In fact, if our target knows Lookshy is painting a bullseye on his back, would it not aid him to create a war zone to disappear into? Of course, we are trapped due to a lack of information, as either path could further or hinder our mission. Thus if we cannot determine our path through intellect, we must choose with our hearts."

Nodding, Ake says, "If none of you can present a compelling argument otherwise, I say that we will learn more and prevent more suffering if we proceed to discover what is happening between Valmer and Keln."


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:54 pm 
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"Then let us go to Valmer and Keln quickly," Teamhair said, rising. "If we are blessed, we may find the source quickly enough to catch our Demon Summoner as well."

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:23 pm 
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"We can hope Lookshy's gotten a squad down there. The officer will be able to speak with Command. And if they order me to leave off, well, I know no going home. To the war." Orduin nodded firmly.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:46 pm 
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"I still think this is a mistake. This conflict that has erupted is not going to go away over night, our target may not resurface for months if he goes underground." He said nothing about some of the observations that the other members of the circle had offered. He did not enjoy to deal with possibilities. He preferred facts and the facts in this particular situation indicated to him that his desired course of action made sense. Ultimately however, he lacked the necessary passion about these matters to completely go against the circle.

"If you are adamant that this conflict is where we should be I will go along." He said flatly. It was clear that he was not used to not getting his way, but that was the peril of working with others. Maybe the Lunar was right but he was far less optimistic about their chances of stopping this conflict and snaring their prey.

If worse comes to worse, we will have done something.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 3:26 am 
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With a majority of the Circle in favor of averting the conflict between Keln and Valmer, the caravan changed its course towards the countries' mutual border. Kolth had mysteriously vanished, but his companions surmised that the Night caste had good reasons for disappearing so.

Two weeks later, the caravan reached another outpost, just at the intersection of the countries borders. Mercenaries had been hired just in case an outbreak of violence threatened the city - in the chaos of war, the town was one of many tempting opportunity. The more socially inclined could gather that it was the clan of the Swift Featherhooves that had made the accusations on Keln's council of elders and was howling for blood.

Meanwhile, there was a rumor that the Kelnak Elder Labdaran of the Twentieth Spring had called for a general mobilisation, envenoming tensions that threatened to burst into full out war.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 4:22 pm 
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"The agitator or the agitated..." Orduin mused as he considered the map and news that reached the group. "If I were more skilled, we could handle the mobs easily. For now, perhaps we had better find out what's causing a call for general mobililzation, and perhaps stop this before it gets worse."

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:42 pm 
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"It could be as simple as a reaction to the hiring of mercenaries," Teamhair sighed. "I would like to know what Clan Swift Featherhooves thinks happened, and why the accused the whole Council and not just one or two."

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:49 pm 
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He was not thrilled about the decision that the rest of the circle had concluded was the best course of action at this time. Would their future goals be so easily side tracked in the future? While the idea of doing the most good was admirable, the fundamental truth of creation as it stood now was simple. People were dying every day for a multitude of reasons and seeking to address every injustice and soothe all suffering was something that simply could not be done at this time. Still, such was the peril of working alongside others.

I am not always going to agree with the circle. I will have to come to terms with that.


He hid his disappointment beneath a layer of calm. He had no idea of where this merry chase would lead but he intended to give it his all. His companions deserved that much from him.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:50 am 
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Following Orduin’s suggestion, the caravan moved towards Keln for another four days. Numerous small mercenary companies travelled towards clients desirous for more protection; irregular units had not been hired by Keln and Valmer yet.

The nation of Keln harbored nearly ten thousand natives, two thousand of which lived in the capital. A small fraction of the population was still in the business of horse-breeding, and though Kelnak culture still resembled their Marukani cousins’ (though most of the proud horselords would have scornfully employed the term ‘aped’), comparatively few of them lived in contact with horses except as a national symbol. Farming was the most common activity, as in the rest of the East.

Keln, capital of the eponymous nation, was build according to a model most similar to the Marukani capital of Celeren. While the latter had been a Realm city before later modified to accommodate the spirit of freedom and open spaces of the Marukani, the former had from the start been designed in order to maximize open air businesses – whether shops, amphitheaters, or official buildings. There were few stone buildings, and the whole city looked like it could be taken down in a pinch.

Liayna’s caravan was attributed a parking lot, a few blocks away from the district where the indentured workers were accommodated. Slavery was anathema to Marukani culture, but the need for a cheap workforce meant that war captives and their descendents were often ‘offered’ employment, officially to compensate for military drain on the economy engendered by conflict with their nation. Usually, freedom could be bought off or even outright offered after the fourth generation, but Kelnak customs extended this to an arbitrary duration.

Keln’s Council of Elders mimicked the functioning of their Marukani cousins’; the city sported no manse or demesne though; a great hall, one of the few stone structures in the city, harbored their meetings and a significant part of their diminutive bureaucracy; an open-air plaza where debates and speeches took place adjoined it. They seemed a more formal people that the Marukani, more mindful of written laws and regulations.

Elder Labdaran, the most vocal of the warmongering faction, would be returning from a business trip the following day. Apparently, he was testing the waters in the remote communities. As Keln had little in the way of formal military (though proportionally more so than the Marukani), and most of their troops would be conscripts. It was probable he was fanning the mood to be more receptive to the general call.


Last edited by The Nomad on Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:52 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 9:04 pm 
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He was not used to following but he settled on doing exactly that. This particular approach had not been the one that he had desired but his loyalty and obligations to the circle forced him to kneel to the majority. It was not a sensation that he was fond of and one that he understood deep within him that he would never be comfortable with. He was a leader not a follower, but he would not allow his ego get the best of him. At least, not this time.

The trip took four days and it took about that long for his resentment of the decision the circle had taken to simmer down beneath the surface of his mind. Even though he had taken great pains to hide from his circle mates how irritated the decision had made him, he made little secret of his overall lack of enthusiasm towards their chosen path. Still, when the fourth day hit he decided that channeling his talents into something more useful was of use to him and the circle. The sooner they dealt with this little adventure the sooner they could hunt down their original task.

He had not been so focused inwardly to not notice the numerous bands of mercenary companies as they traveled towards the site of pending conflict. Mercenaries were drawn to the promise of battle like flies were drawn to a fresh kill. When the opportunities presented themselves he sought to learn as much as possible about the area and the nations at the core of their mission. Upon their arrival he took pains to drink in every sight and sound that was offered to him. Ultimately, his attention flickered towards Teamhair and Orduin before glancing towards Liayna for a moment and settling on Ake.

"So here we are. Thoughts?" He said.

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 11:58 pm 
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Upon Yvela asking him for his thoughts, Ake considered and said, "We need to take the pulse of this city and determine what the locals are saying and what they have been told. We cannot fight a battle if we do not know where the enemy is, and we cannot track prey if we do not know what its tracks or spoor look like. One or more of us must go out and learn who the public agitators are, and who is holding the purse strings. Wars cost money, but they can also make money for those with lax scruples. We learn who is shouting the most loudly and who stands to gain the most and we will have our first leads.

"Now all we need is someone of subtlety and social guile to start learning these basics. I could probably turn on some charm, but subtlety... yeah... not something I excel at. About the most subtle I get is waiting for someone to not be looking at me to stab them in the back rather than the front. Now, if you want a distraction that's something I'm good at, but I think we all agreed that it would be best to avoid attention. Still, if you need an angry mob whipped up in an instant, I'm your man," Ake said with a self-effacing grin.


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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 6:54 pm 
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"Then it is up to Kolth and myself to be subtle and charming," Teamhair replied. "Although, with the mercenaries about, perhaps a few caravan guards who know a bit about fighting could go speak to their fellow warriors as well."

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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 5:35 pm 
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Teamhair, with the help of her Lunar powers, and plain social talent, had not trouble connecting to Keln's social networks. By the end of the day, she had tested the waters among the native population.

There seemed to be a common agreement among Keln's population that, during the past decade, the Valmerid had suffered from a mixture of inclement weather - probably linked to obscure offenses committed against the local spirit court - and incompetent management among several of the head clans. The Valmerid themselves, of course, blamed Kelnak sabotage in both unfortunate turns of events, but then, this was the way of "Dem' filthy jealous sisterfuckers," as one horse dealer put it.

Outsiders that had lived for some time in Keln - Guild traders, notably - claimed that the rivalry between this country and Valmer existed even before the fouding of the two nations, and was the basis for a great deal of jingoism.
Most of the time, it did not turn into pure hatred, and no significant war had occured during the countries' histories beyond the skirmish stage, but Valmer's recent accusations had sparked outrage, and a growing minority of the population was of a mind to 'teach the Valmerid a lesson about badmouthing their neighbors'.

Labdaran's efforts had resulted in more than the preparations to repel Valmerid skirmishes: there was talk of hiring mercenaries to conquer and occupy parts of Valmer. He had presented clever plans to secure a return on the campaign, but Liayna's expert mind realized that even with those the whole operation would be nothing but a monetary sinkhole, though the Guild would reap significant benefits from both the militarization and the subsequent occupation.

Kolth reappeared later in the day, obviously tired and, unlike his good old self, morose. He told the Circle that he had made a brief investigation on the Elder's case: a decently wealthy man who had good contacts with the local Guild factor, though it was not public knowledge. Nothing beyond that, for now. But if there was something hidden - and Kolth was pretty sure that it was always the case - he would unearth it. Lighting a blunt, he waited for the remainder of the group to decide on their course of action.

It appeared the Elder would be back in a day or two later than expected, as his convoy had suffered slight logisitics problems.


Last edited by The Nomad on Mon Jun 15, 2009 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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"Thus, we have a series of bad harvests mixed with incompetent leaders, who used an old enemy for a scapegoat to hide their incompetence," Teamhair finished sharing what she'd found out amongst Keln's society peers. "Add in ancient grudges between the two, and the population of the city is getting into the 'teach them a lesson' mood."

She sipped from her drink, all but sprawled in Orduin's lap as she relaxed with the Circle. "And now there's Kolth's little tidbit about the Elder's friends in the Guilds," she added with a sigh. "Which would certainly explain where he's getting the money for mercenaries, as well as who has the motive to egg the fight on."

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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 11:50 am 
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Ruminating on this new information, Ake sipped at his cup of wine for the evening while he considered a few things. Finally he said, "While I have a bit of a history of coming up with bad ideas, I figure I should share a thing or two here. These people aren't going to back down from their escalations if they have a long enimity with their neighbours and they feel that they are in the superior position, especially with the Guilds egging them on for the purposes of occupying Valmer. They probably see it as an opportunity to 'change management' and turn the region profitable again. The dead of both sides should make wonderful fertilizer for the fields once processed through the carrion birds. Thus I wonder if cooling them down might not be the way to go.

"Now... now just bare with me here for a second, but the true danger here is the popular support combined with the money provided by those backing this whole operation. We separate those two and the teeth fall out. Now, one way of doing that would be to make the Guilds fear the mobs, fear that which they have created. While I'm not saying that we should stir up too much trouble, perhaps a few words in the right ear here or there and we could get people talking about other grievances, get people talking about what to do after Valmer. Strengthen the anger of the common folk and the greed of the midlevel businessmen but diffuse its focus and do not work on the higher ups. Then when they start to see the disaster if they don't reign it in, when they start trying to damper the spirits for anything but Valmer, we turn those into doubts on both sides. Doubts amongst the commoners that they can win a war, doubts amongst the Guilds that they can make money off the venture. It could take some doing, but the chatter of mercenaries at the local inns could be rather effective at subtley inflaming the passions of the commoners while merchants conversation do always turn to thoughts of silver and jade, no?"


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:24 am 
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His attention settled as Ake responded to his inquiry. Overall, the solar spoke sense and while what he suggested was little more than common sense, it cemented what he expected. Simply because something was common did not make it any less true. Knowledge was power and it was something that they were lacking greatly at the moment.

"I agree that your suggest course of action is likely the one to be the most fruitful at this point in time." He admitted. His enthusiasm was still somewhat diminished but to do something was preferable to doing nothing. The Lunar spoke and his attention slid towards her as he nodded. It was a sensible choice. It was a pity that Liayna had disappeared somewhere for he had little doubt that she could mingle with others of her profession and have them spilling their secrets beneath the promise of a smile and a touch.

"I will breathlessly anticipate your information Teamhair." He said without a hint of mocking beneath his tone. His head turned and he glanced around the area around them as if seeking Kolth. He saw nothing but the wind.

What game is Kolth playing at?

The thought lingered on his mind before he pushed it aside. Kolth did not play games. Something had caused him to become aloof as of late and he had vanished like the scent of salt water in the middle of a desert. He would have to ask the solar what had caused such a reaction. Had he been irritated with the choice of the circle as he had been himself or had it been something else completely?

"I will do whatever digging I can as discretely as possible but I make no promises that my talents are up to the task of matching your own." he said to Teamhair a moment before he considered how to best take advantage of his own gifts. Ultimately, he settled on an approach that should have gained him some information without garnering undue attention. The end results were mixed. While usually people seemed to like him, the populace proved to be exceptionally well guarded. When he came to meet with the others, he felt he had surprisingly little insights to share with the others.

Teamhair however proved that she had taken her mission seriously and revealed a significant array of new information. The return of Kolth had not been missed, but he did not approach him. The solar looked exhausted and aloof weighed down by thoughts he seemed unwilling to share.

I will bother him later.

The decision was an easy one to reach. His eyes settled on Teamhair as she spoke and he found himself frowned. They were wasting their time over human stupidity? It would take far more than a circle of Solars to change that.

"Incompetent leaders we may be able to address, even the elder if we put our minds to it but dealing with human prejudices and the enmity between two peoples is a bit more difficult to accomplish on a limited time frame." He said. Leaders could be deposed, removed, hidden away or exiled if push came to shove.

Ake spoke then and his attention gravitated towards him. In the end, his words took hold within him. "We should certainly seek to harness and guide public opinion to where we want if at all possible." He said. His talents were not strong in that area but he could be persuasive when it was necessary. "The guild however is dangerous. If we are going to try and get in its way, we should make certain that we do so without underestimating or overestimating their abilities." He had no love for the Guild but he knew enough about the organization to know how the guild had gotten to where it was today. It played to win and most importantly of all, it tended to do so.

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Teamhair thought silently, weighing the options. The Elder would be delayed, his retinue plagued by supply problems. The Guild was in the city, and a collection of men that she or Lyana could sway given a little time.

Yet, something about the Elder's delay bothered her, making her ears twitch as she tried to pin it down. Something about him being out, with a light retinue, trying to get his countrymen mobilized for war. The whole city just looking for a ...

"By all the little gods.... all they'd have to do is kill the Elder to start the war!" she exclaimed, sitting up and staring at her Circle. "Make it look like a Valmerid attack, whether the Elder survives or not it's an act of war and he will have all the troops and backing he needs."

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Kolth blinked, looking oddly at Teamhair before nodding slowly. "That's good - I didn't even seen that one."

Beginning to pace, Kolth stared at the ground, looking serious as he thought. After a few paces, a smile slowly grew on his face, and he slowed to a stop. Looking at the others, his eyes twinkled mischievously as his smile widened. "I think we should utterly ruin their plans. What do you think?"

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What? There's nothing weird about having a pet housefly. He smuggles cigarettes for me.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:16 pm 
The All-Seeing Eye
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"I agree, Kolth. I'm glad my Lunar mate is so on the ball; I'd not spotted it either." The Gunzosha stroked his chin. "Do you have a plan, Kolth, or is the look in your eyes unrelated?" A smile.

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Tev: You're happy. You're Plotting. You're Evil.
Me: Evil is so inappropriate. I'm ruthless.
Tev: You're turning me on.

I Am Rage. You Will Know My Fury.


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