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Götterdämmerung [IC/PG-16/Not Accepting]

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OH Muse, I sing to thee a song most pure
And hope the winds might play again to you
Please carry, breeze, the tune I’ve writ: a cure
For all your ails and let your soul renew
--Song for the End of the World, lines 1-4


Notes from Captain Helmsley’s Logbook

I never got a clear answer from those dogs I picked up a few days back. “West” was all they told me. I think they trust that I’m going to get them to the right spot, but I’ll be damned if I know what that is. I never even found out how one of them got on this ship in the first place but he’s a watchdog too so he too got passage.

I did have some cargo I needed to drop off that way, though. Got commissioned to take some fabrics out to Galatea. I know that’s not the farthest west you can get, but until I get some clearer answers, that’s about all I can give them.

That’s not to imply Galatea is an awful place to be, of course. Once upon a time, before captaining this ship became what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I thought for a bit about retiring there. I’d still probably like it, too. It’s not as big a trading hub as, say, Sindalium, but Sindalium has a load of other issues that Galatea just doesn’t have. I avoid Sindalium when I can.

Galatea, though, what an island! If I had to pick one -- just one! -- feature that puts it above all the others this far west, what else can my answer be but the temple square?

The temple square! Where every god and every goddess has a temple dedicated to them and no other. The architecture alone, every building is unique in its design, each one in exact specifications to the priests of that deity. It’s a marvel to look at. And not only that, the cobblestone area in the middle has each stone inscribed with a prayer. Some of them have faded over time, but the memories are still there. Speaking of memories, maybe I’ll stop by after handling my own business. It’s good to keep these old bones active.

We’re set to arrive mid-morning tomorrow. I hope this is the place these dogs were meant to go. If it wasn’t, I hope they enjoy their stay.


Amir’s Dream

He dreams of a great bonfire. It crackles and roars and yet never seems to escape the confines set by its kindling. Surrounding it in concentric circles are an endless number of faceless beings, each staring at the fire. They seem to lean back and forth, gyrating, causing ripples of motion spreading back to where the fire’s light cannot reach.

One of the beings, not from one of the closest rings, but maybe a ring or two back, steps forward. They are inches from the fire, now, and yet, they show no fear. Nor do they show any hesitation at all as they bend down and, in one swift motion, pull out a still-burning log from the fire.

The fire continues to consume the wood, but the embers do not move onto their hand. Even as they hold the log aloft, even as they begin to hum a single, low note and begin to move again, back and forth, the fire only seems to burn the wood.

The hum, like the movement of each individual form, seems to ripple back into the crowd. But each form hums a different tone, each one kind of matching the ones near it and yet never quite the same. It creates a cacophony, one that grows louder every moment as more and more join in.

The ripples of movement move faster and faster. The sound drowns out the roar of the fire and continues to get louder and louder until, finally, the vision fades, and, eventually, so too does the hum.


Emily

Emily Briar paced back and forth on the dock, watching the Swallow Tail lazily drift down into port. It was late, and yes, the difference between “mid-morning” and “mid-day” was only a few hours, and yes, it was actually rather impressive that zeppelins arrived on the same day as their charted predictions, no matter the actual time, but didn’t they know she had business with one of its passengers?

Well, of course they didn’t know; Emily hadn’t actually told them yet. But she just had to get their attention. She had put on her best dress and everything, a deep green to compliment her orange-red hair. She couldn’t fail now. So if the Swallow Tail could just land already, if everyone could disembark…

There was a crowd starting to gather. Emily wondered if every island had these sorts of gawkers, the kind of people who showed up just to catch a glimpse of the new arrivals. She tried to pay these people no mind. They were just things to get around, and it wasn’t like she wasn’t willing to jab a few elbows into stomachs if she needed to.

One particular member of the crowd drew her attention, though, and realizing who it was caused Emily to curse under her breath. What was Levanna Marcus doing here? What business did she have that couldn’t happen when the dogs inevitably made it up to the temple square? Emily watched her wade through the masses. Of course, she could command such authority that people just naturally got out of the way for her. Not even a “Make way!” or anything, just a fluid motion, always forward towards the docking zeppelin.

At last, the ropes had finally all been tied. Emily’s journey to the front of the crowd, as expected, was significantly rougher than Levanna’s, but she managed all the same. She wasn’t able to get to the dogs first, but Emily was close enough now she could hear everything Levanna was saying.

“Welcome to Galatea!” Levanna said, leading, of course, with that classic empty phrase accompanied by its naturally empty tone. “Welcome to our humble island. I trust you had a pleasant trip?”

As Levanna continued with her introduction, (“My name is Levanna Marcus blah blah blah… I’m part of the council that oversees the theocratic goings-on around here blah blah blah…”) Emily craned her neck as she moved forward, trying to get a better glimpse. There was one specific watchdog she needed. More, of course, could never hurt, but she needed to know which of them specifically she needed to aim for.

Emily had forgotten that watchdogs could be so young. Two of them were hardly older than she was! But it was the youngest one, and the only girl among the four, that caught her eye specifically. Nuumu’s watchdog, that had to be her. And so she pressed on.

Levanna had just finished saying, “Why don’t we retire to my office chambers and I can show you a little hospitality? This afternoon may be a little busy for one of you; one of our blacksmiths has been toiling away at something he would like to offer to Taros. I’m sure it would mean the world to them if you oversaw the ceremony,” when, in one final surge, Emily managed to make it to the part in the crowd. And when Levanna turned around to lead the watchdogs away, Emily took her chance.

Her hand shot out, seizing the Nuumu watchdog by the wrist. Her grip was firmer than she’d intended, but she was more focused on what she had to say next anyway. “Excuse me, miss,” Emily said. “I was wondering if you could come with me? It will only take a moment, and then I can show you to wherever you intend to go.”


OOC

Spoiler

Hope you can forgive my preference for writing from the perspective of a character or two. It won't be all the time, but I find it easier than general omnicience, so it'll certainly be there.

Welcome! Feel free to have a few moments between yourselves as the Swallow Tail descends upon Galatea, maybe reflect on how you slept if you're the dreaming sort (not just Amir, haha), but you've arrived on the island, now, so that's where your post should probably end up. I know it seems like kind of a binary choice -- whether to follow Emily or Levanna -- but if you'd rather buck both of them and explore the city on your own, that's certainly an option too. Or anything else, really.

If there's anything else from the scene you might need of me, whether that's the entirety of Levanna's long, rambling speech, or another place to head off to, or anything else, any questions at all, don't be afraid to reach out to me. This is your game as much as it is mine.

-r

Captain Helmsley -- Emily Briar -- Levanna Marcus

 

Edited by radio414

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Galatea, aside from the Temple Square of the island where every god and goddess had a uniquely built temple dedicated to them and their needs, it was a strange place for the direction that was needed to be. And for Kitt, who watched the island come into view from his window, he did have to wonder what purpose did Taros have to send him here first. Nevertheless, he figured that now wasn't the time for him to worry about that...no, right now he needed to get into the right mindset and have his thoughts in order. The young man began to kneel in his cabin, eyes closed as his breathing began to slow down to a consistent rhythm.

"...your steel is my body and your fire my blood...forge a pathway to understanding and cleave through uncertainty...I am the bone of your sword, you are the Master Forger." Kitt muttered quietly to himself, exhaling slowly as he mentally prepared himself for the task at hand. This had been the way he meditated and communed with Taros, this was also the way he attempted to calm down and unwind, when he wasn't taking the time to do his normal blacksmith deal in order to de-stress. Every once in a while, he figured Taros would basically shout in his head to finish the prayer, but that was just because he knew how his patron would be every once in a while. Nevertheless, with his meditation in process, he was able to gather his thoughts to where they wouldn't run rampant.

Something told him he should reflect upon his compatriots currently on the Swallow Tail with him, the other Watchdogs. Truth be told, one glance from each of them and he was surprised that these other dogs were like this. First, there was the flower in the ashes: Neasa Flynn, the Watchdog to Nuumu, God of the Afterlife. She had this presence about her that he couldn't quite put his finger on, but regardless, she was the kind of girl who prefers to observe things rather than get involved at first. Second, there was the dreamer: Amir Qureshi, the Watchdog to Myria, Goddess of Dreams, Prophecies and Rest. Kitt couldn't get much of a reading off of him, aside from him namely doing his best to take a rest here and there, true to the reality of what his patron was dealing with. Then again, he did seem like the person who tended to want to watch the clouds all the time...that might've been something. And finally, there was the thief in dog's clothing: Olive Yurgold, the Watchdog to Hinder, God of Gambling, Thievery and Wealth. True to his patron, the man was quite the thief and gambler, especially after the night prior to where Kitt noticed him gambling against some of the crew and practically swindling them...such a terrible thing to do, but alas, he was doing his patron proud.

With another exhale, Kitt found his reflections on his thoughts complete and that the Swallow Tail finally arrived at the destination. I suppose it's time... he thought, finally standing up and gathering his belongings before making his way out of the zeppelin and onto the docks.

BGM

Not surprising, or very surprising, Kitt saw that there was quite a crowd awaiting the arrival. It was generally the same any place he went, now that he thought about it. Regardless, Kitt paid no mind to it...well, that was until someone came forward.

“Welcome to Galatea! Welcome to our humble island. I trust you had a pleasant trip?”

Kitt looked at the woman who referred to herself as Levanna, who was part of the council here on the island. The young man smiled, before stepping forward, bowing slightly. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Levanna. Kitt Axton, Watchdog to Taros, God of Blacksmiths and the Forge." Bowing? Check! Introduction? Check! Respecting an individual in power on the island? Check! Definitely making sure you look good doing it? That was a double check!

"Oh, you don't have to call me miss!" Levanna said. "You especially. With all that's going on, I don't want you to be worried about who you need to call 'miss' or anything like that. 'Levanna' is fine."

"I apologize. I was taught to treat those I speak with the same respect that I would want to be given." Kitt responded, smiling. "However, if you wish to be called just Levanna, then I shall oblige." With that out of the way, Levanna began to lead them away from the docks, most likely to get away from the crowds and prepare for what they were sent here to do.

“Why don’t we retire to my office chambers and I can show you a little hospitality? This afternoon may be a little busy for one of you; one of our blacksmiths has been toiling away at something he would like to offer to Taros. I’m sure it would mean the world to them if you oversaw the ceremony.”

A smile appeared on the young man's face, hearing about this blacksmith toiling away at an offering to Taros as well as the asking of him to oversee the ceremony. Kitt only gave a firm nod at this. "Of course. I would be delighted to assist my fellow blacksmiths in any manner I can."

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The Swallowtail

Olivander snored softly, having been magicly propped against a wall in the cabin of the zeppelin. Unlike the other watchdogs, he hadn't arrived on his own. Olivander literally just 'appeared' onboard. A soft bump of turbulence awoke him with a snort and he stumbled forward, barely catching himself. "Whoa, whoa!" he called out suddenly. He stood up straight at last and took a gander around the area. "Where... the hell am I?" he wondered aloud. He quickly clasped his mouth with his hands and sank back against the wall. He realized he was in unknown, uncharted territory, and he wasn't sure who or what was around. Olivander slowed his breathing and took a deep breath as he looked around. Silently, he inched closer to the center of the room where he could see light. The closer Olivander got, the wider his eyes got. "Am I in the fucking sky?" he thought to himself as he grasped a metal railing and looked down. He slowly came to the realization that he was most definitely no longer in Sindalium. But how he got aboard this zeppelin and where he was being taken was another mystery.

"Was I captured? No. No, the last thing I remember... Hinder! He knocked me out cold!" he thought as he stepped away from the railing. "... fuck. But then... it happened! It happened! I'm a watchdog!" His mind began racing at the thought of what he would be capable of now. "Man, oh man! I wonder what Hinder has in mind for me next! I gotta get to a temple soon so I can thank him. Whoo!" However, something was still amiss. How long had Olivander been on board? If there was something that occurred the previous night, he didn't remember it at all. In fact, up until now, the last thing he remembered was being in Hinder's presence. That did not bode well.

"No time to dwell on it. I'd best figure out who's on board and where we're goin'." Olivander made his way to the nearest staircase to begin his search of the zeppelin. As he climbed, Olivander came to the bridge where a gentleman carrying great dignity, was going over some notes. "Pardon me," Olivander called over, making his presence known as he approached. "Name's Olive," he started. "I apologize for intruding. But, ya see, I'm havin' a bit of short term memory here. Can I ask, where abouts are we and where we headed?"

Captain Helmsley let out a laugh. "Oh, you do talk!" he said. "I was wondering if I'd get anything from you. All the other dogs said was 'West,' so that's where I headed. Galatea, that's the name of it."

Olivander nodded in compliance. "Must've been out longer than I thought," he mused to himself. "Thanks, Captain," Olivander said before disappearing downstairs again. "Galatea, huh? Haven't heard much of it. But then again, I ain't heard of much outside of Sindalium. I guess its time to explore the world and find the greatest loot. Is that what you have in mind for me, Hinder?" On his way down, Olivander passed a number of cabins that were occupied. "He mentioned other dogs. I wonder what gods they represent then..." Silently, Hinder walked past their rooms and observed them from the shadows.

There was a young girl with red hair. "They let kids be watchdogs? Though... I'm not a god so I don't think the way they do, I suppose."

Then, there was a young man with a sash over his shoulder. "Hmm. Is he royalty? I bet he's got good loot. But if he's a watchdog, then I can't approach recklessly. I'll observe for now."

Finally, the last watchdog was another young man with dark blonde hair and a sword on his hip. "He seems like your average adventurer. It's no wonder he was picked as a watchdog. I'm kind of curious... does he drink?"

With mental notes, Olivander slid into the last available cabin. It was bare, with no bed but a straw pile, a bucket, and a wool blanket. His *thief's tools* were alone in the far east corner of the room and that was all to be noted. Olivander smiled. "Just like home." He flopped atop the straw and drew back the blanket. He got himself comfortable and waited for the zeppelin to land.


The soft, clean landing stirred Olivander from his sleep just enough to get him to rub his eyes. He gathered his tools and made his way downstairs as fast as he possibly could. He was excited to see what Galatea was like! As Olivander made his way into the sunlight, he squinted his eyes and put a hand over his brow. When his vision cleared, he was surprised to see that there was a large crowd gathered at the landing site of the zeppelin! He stood in awe for a moment and observed the sights. The other watchdogs had also gathered, and they were now being approached by, what Olivander presumed to be, a representative of Galatea. She introduced herself as Levanna Marcus. And now, Olivander's heart was pumping with excitement. If someone this important was greeting the watchdogs, then their mission was sure to be grand.

And a grand mission meant grand loot to steal.

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If she was being quite honest, Neasa still wasn't fully used to riding on zeppelins. Not having the solid ground of an island beneath her feet was still something new and strange to her, and although it was necessary, she would have preferred to walk from place to place instead if given the option. Such a thing was both a foolish and impossible request, though. At least zeppelins were great with punctuality, and the Swallowtail she had found herself aboard was specifically meant to transport watchdogs like herself around. How considerate!

What will be your role in the Ashwood, I wonder? Judging how people lived their afterlife wasn't her decision to make, of course. The worlds of the living and the dead were not meant to cross, so that would be entirely under the jurisdiction of Nuumu himself. She wasn't the only one here, either. Three other watchdogs were aboard the ship, simply heading west. The watchdog of the forge god - Taros - was the most interesting one to her. Something about that Kitt boy was distinctly different from the other watchdogs. However, what it was remained a mystery to her. Amir - dog of the dream goddess Myria - was someone Neasa hadn't really spoken to. In a loose fashion, she couldn't help but feel a certain type of kinship with a watchdog of dreams, though. After all, some philosophers could call death but an eternal sleep, and while the logistics weren't quite there, the label almost made sense. And then there was one other. Watchdog of Hinder, the god of wealth, Neasa's only interaction with that boy so far had been confirming that he wasn't dead when he was first spotted aboard the ship. How he got aboard was anyone's guess as far as she knew.

But all of that - including the name of Hinder's watchdog - would have to come later. For now, although she'd only been told to travel west, the zeppelin was coming to a landing. She had heard of Galatea before, of course. The temple square was supposedly quite a sight to see. A temple devoted to each individual deity, built to the specifications of its worshippers. Whatever was built here in Nuumu's honor would clearly be no Ashwood Citadel, but the chance to see a smaller temple would certainly be interesting. Anyone working at the temple would surely be excited to be met with his watchdog. It was the next best thing from meeting the Ashen King himself, after all.

Perhaps a visit was in order after wrapping up any business that might have come up on the island.

Before doing that though, she'd have to actually set foot on the island. As the ropes were tied and the watchdogs were finally allowed to disembark, Neasa looked at the crowd before them. This sort of attention was another thing she was still getting used to. As a noble's child on Sonus, most people that cared about you were other nobles from other families, and even then, only as far as your usefulness in some sort of business marriage. Within the Order of Ash, a fledgling young acolyte like herself was hardly ever worth going out of your way for, except to correct errors they might perform in sparring matches, rites, et cetera. But being a watchdog? People tended to take notice of you real quick like that, always asking for divine favors. Although she was pleased that her errands were mostly the same as any other monk's, she had to admit, she was often a bit disappointed that she didn't really get much use out of the power Nuumu had granted her.

“Welcome to Galatea! Welcome to our humble island. I trust you had a pleasant trip?”

This woman - Levanna Marcus, who was with the council overseeing Galatea - had wasted no time greeting the watchdogs. It seemed that this was a nice little island Neasa had found herself on. Before she could join Levanna and the other watchdogs on this trip to her office, though, Neasa felt a hand grip her wrist. Neasa turned her attention to the source. A girl, probably around Neasa's own age, was the owner of that hand.

“Excuse me, miss, I was wondering if you could come with me? It will only take a moment, and then I can show you to wherever you intend to go.”

A request of some sort? She couldn't imagine anyone being foolish enough to try and pick a fight with a watchdog. Especially not of the god who decides what happens to you after you die. That would be a great way for your immortal soul to burn as fuel for the Ashwood's bonfires, or have it turned into a beast to be hunted. So, logically, it could only be work. And making her way through a crowd specifically to find a watchdog made Neasa think that this was something your garden variety monk couldn't handle. Nudging one of the boys with her foot, Neasa commented "I'll catch up later" to the other watchdogs, before finding her way out of the crowd in the company of this young girl instead of with Levanna.

Once the two were separated from the crowd, Neasa asked "Now then, what is it you need a watchdog of Nuumu for?"

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The fire roared in Amir's ears, the heat stung his skin, and his eyes watered in the haze of smoke. He turned away from the pyre, drawn in by the faceless collective of roiling onlookers. The torrential onslaught of their humming vibrated in Amir's head. He called out in warning as a figure approached the fire, drawing from it a log. A shower of sparks rained down on the man, but he did not alight.

The humming of the congregation grew louder.

And louder.

And louder still.

Amir covered his ears and closed his eyes.

There was no escape.

He yelled in pain.

His agony swallowed by the chaos.

...

Amir's eyes slowly flicked open. The remnant pain and confusion brought about by his dream fleeing into the deep recesses of his mind. He stared at the ceiling above him. The painful cacophony of the faceless congregation had been replaced by the soothing hum of the Swallowtail. This wasn't the first zeppelin he had taken at the behest of his goddess. It was, however, his favorite so far. Perhaps it was the ship's charming name or the fact that he was just one of many Watchdogs that had been aboard the vessel, but regardless he had quite enjoyed his time with the crew and fellow passengers so far. 

Amir had never met another Watchdog before boarding the ship. Interesting folk they all were. Perhaps that was a requirement of being a representative of a god. Or perhaps he just had the good fortune to be in interesting company. 

The image of the figure reaching into the fire, unhurt by the flames that had licked at its skin. Perhaps they were another Watchdog. Or a god. Someone that could walk unhurt through fire. Kitt, Watchdog to Taros, sprung to his mind. The Forge Master was no stranger to fire, after all. Perhaps the rest of the gathered people were all the Watchdogs out there. Of course, the bonfire might relate to Neasea's patron as well. He didn't know much about the God of the Afterlife, but the fire could've been a reference to the Order of Ash.

Or, maybe the true meaning of prophecy remained as elusive as ever. 

...

Levanna's speech caused Amir to glower in response. She was a politician to her very core, Amir could tell. He wondered how many people she had to lie to and exploit to maintain the aura of self-importance that polluted the very air around her. Amir cast a skeptical glance in Kitt's direction as he bowed to her. Though she objected at such formality, Amir had no doubt that Levanna enjoyed Kitt stroking her ego.

Amir felt Neasea nudge him. 

"I'll catch up later"

Amir turned to see the young girl that was drawing Neasea away. He took another look back at Levanna, his brow furrowing. He had no want to be around her any longer. He shrugged and began to follow the redhead through the crowd. He was in no hurry to push his way past, surely he would be able to follow the bright hair with relative ease. 

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Levanna

Five dogs! One from the Breadbasket, wretched old ship that it was, and a full four from the Swallow Tail. Levanna couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if both ships had arrived at once like they were meant to. It wasn’t a wonder she could express out loud, of course, especially within earshot of those so dutifully following her. It wasn’t just the watchdogs she had to worry about in that regard, either, while many of the gawkers from the dock had dispersed, a few had decided they’d nothing better to do than keep following her around.

She managed well enough, of course. Watchdogs weren’t the only ones who could solve problems, and they weren’t the ones with intimate knowledge of Galatea like she had. All this was just another problem that needed solving, and Levanna thought she was doing a pretty good job of it.

The walk up to her office quickly turned into a tour, as Levanna pointed out the various sights and sounds that she could think to mention. The street full of taverns, the town hall, the amphitheatre, anything they came across had a story, and even without looking, Levanna felt like she had her audience in rapt attention.

When she did look back, it only confirmed her suspicions. They were following along just fine, especially the Taros dog, who had been very polite earlier. It took her a second look to realize just what exactly the problem was.

“Oh dear, two of you wandered off and didn’t tell me?” Levanna said. “We can’t have that, no, surely not. Imagine if you got lost marveling at Galatea’s wonders and weren’t able to perform your duties. There’s a reason I am accompanying you, after all.”

She clapped her hands twice, and a keeper of the peace rushed over to attend to her. One might have said they suddenly appeared at her behest with how fast they came over. It was a common rumor, or so Levanna was told, and one she was happy to keep unquashed. “I’m afraid I’ve misplaced a few dogs that were under my care,” Levanna told the guard. “Could you be a dear and find them for me while I help the ones I still have? One’s a girl with red hair, and the other, I believe, has a mark identifying him as Myria’s. They shouldn’t be too hard to find? Just bring them to me when you can.”

The guard gave a curt nod and Levanna dismissed them to perform their duty. “We’re almost there now,” Levanna said to the remaining watchdogs in her care. “Now, let us continue…”


Emily

Emily kept her head on a swivel, looking all around for anyone who might have noticed what she’d done at the docks. There had been none, as far as she could see, though that was before the crowd had cleared out, gone off either to follow Levanna around or back to whatever they had been doing before. Once they had, Emily noticed the white-haired watchdog had decided to follow along at a distance, which Emily was willing to permit.

In fact, “It would probably be faster if he were travelling with us instead of merely following us,” Emily said aloud. She led -- still by the wrist -- the Nuumu watchdog back around, approached him, and said something similar. “We need to hurry. If you are following me, you need to do it close.”

They were only a few turns away anyhow until the three of them reached a small square full of shops. One could tell, earlier in the morning the temples might have cast a shadow over the whole market, but now, in the noonday sun, there were hardly any shadows at all. Despite the time, though, several of the stores seemed to be closed, or, at least, void of any sort of activity. It was something Emily tried not to think about, as she led the two dogs to a small bakery in the corner of the square. Above the door hung a sign. “Briar and Thistle Bakery” it read, with a small carving of a rosebush, replete with thorns, underneath the text.

Once they were inside, Emily finally started to explain herself. “My name is Emily Briar,” she said. “My family runs this bakery, or we had run it until my father fell ill and was left no longer able to continue the work. Now my mother is ill as well, and the doctor and the apothecary have been of no use. 

“My mother is suffering, and I will not stand for it,” Emily said. “I need you to either kill my mother or, failing that, find a way for her soul to be at peace.”


Levanna

The offices of Galatea’s religious council were housed in a large building. It wasn’t as large as the temples in the square, such a thing would be sacrilegious, of course, but it was large enough to still make an impression, or at least Levanna hoped it did. “Fortunately, my office is on the ground floor,” Levanna said. She laughed. “These old bones couldn’t take the stairs if they placed it any higher.”

She continued speaking as she brought the two dogs inside. “Now, this will be very exciting, I’m sure. Another watchdog actually arrived earlier today, and he should be waiting in my office. Five watchdogs, all at once! I think I speak for everyone on Galatea, we feel very privileged to have you all. Now, let’s go meet him.”

Thankfully, this watchdog had the good sense to not run off when left alone. “Here he is,” Levanna said. “A little on the young side, I’m sure, but you all are on the young side when you get to be my age. I can get you some tea while you introduce yourselves, maybe some biscuits too. Do you have a preference?”

The conversation would have continued from there had someone not knocked on the door. Before Levanna could even answer, they walked right in. It was Aiden, because of course in addition to the missing watchdogs, she had to deal with Aiden Bell. “How kind of you to join us, Aiden, what-”

Aiden interrupted her. “Spare me,” Aiden said. “We need to talk. It can either be in front of these dogs or not but we do have to talk. Simon is-”

Levanna felt herself make an involuntary noise -- some sort of combination between a “Sh!” and a “Zzt!” -- but managed to quickly recover. She turned and smiled at the watchdogs. “Well, the tea and biscuits might be a bit late,” she said. “But do feel free to introduce yourselves still! I’ll be right outside if you need anything else.”

She left the room with Aiden and slammed the door behind her.


OOC

Spoiler

Unless you pick better team names, you're going to be "Team Levanna" and "Team Emily" while you're split up like this.

Team Levanna

So here's Finn, though I'll let Hyde do the introduction for you all. Levanna's office is pretty standard -- a desk and a couple of chairs is really it, though the door is impressively fancy. It's even thick enough that, with Aiden and Levanna right outside, the best you can hear is muffled voices unless you were to, like, put your ear against the door or something.

Let me know if you have questions about any of that.

Team Emily

Emily probably sounds a bit like Mattie Ross. Similarly, I'll leave it to you whether the details of the bakery are important enough to describe. The oven is probably the most impressive part of the ground floor, and otherwise there is a counter and not a lot of bread stocked on display. There's a door in the back, which presumably leads to the upstairs.

I imagine Emily's request is going to be enough to respond to, but if you want or need anything else, just let me know.

 

Edited by radio414

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The Life, the Lights, and the Loot

Rather suddenly, during Levanna's introduction, the watchdog girl with red hair was dragged away by a young woman. They were then followed by the well-dressed watchdog with white hair and they disappeared into the crowd. Not that Olivander cared, but two people were just vanishing into a crowd in the midst of this spectacle. Either this was an assassination attempt--a poor one at that--or Levanna only had interest in two of the four watchdogs. Whatever the case, Olivander was keeping a mental note of these events. He wasn't invested in the other watchdogs so he gave Levanna his full attention. He wanted to see how long it would take her to realize two of the dogs were missing.


She was a bit older, but the amount of time it took for Levanna to notice her lack of a crew was worrisome. She tunneled in on the sights and sounds of Galatea with no sense of her surroundings outside of that which was in front of her. If there were a snake in the road...

“Oh dear, two of you wandered off and didn’t tell me?” Levanna said. “We can’t have that, no, surely not. Imagine if you got lost marveling at Galatea’s wonders and weren’t able to perform your duties. There’s a reason I am accompanying you, after all.”

"... took you long enough," Olivander thought silently as Levanna clapped her hands together. Guards were summoned to her instantaneously, ready to heed her every word. "Oh? Maybe she's more important than I originally thought," Olivander mused silently. It was now important that he gave Levanna more of his time and attention. She could be useful for information. Who knows what treasures Galatea holds. After explaining the situation to the guards, Levanna dismissed them to find the two missing watchdogs, Levanna continued the tour. Olivander listened intently and hung on to her every word. She was now leading the two remaining watchdogs to a large building which housed the religious council of Galatea.

Olivander and... whomever this other watchdog was, were guided to Levanna's office where she announced the presence of a fifth watchdog who had arrived earlier.

“Here he is,” Levanna said. “A little on the young side, I’m sure, but you all are on the young side when you get to be my age..."

Olivander smiled devilishly to himself. "And still quite a peach," he thought to himself. "Aged like fine wine," he said as he examined Levanna quietly. But his inappropriate thoughts were interrupted when a new party barged into Levanna's office and demanded an audience with her in private. "Now this is interesting," Olivander thought. Levanna obviously didn't want whatever this conversation was about to be discussed in front of the now three watchdogs, because she quickly silenced the man she called Aiden. She excused herself from the room and shut the door tightly behind her. There was already something brewing in Galatea and Olivander was excited.

"Olive," he said to no one in particular. "My name's Olive. I'm the watchdog for Hinder. But, we can court one another later. Don't mind me, lads," he said as he pressed his ear to the large wooden door in Levanna's office and attempted to listen in on her conversation.

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"One, two, Ocean's so blue~,"  A boy in a large overcoat sang to himself, kicking his feet into the air as he sat on one of the large couches of the room he had found himself in.  He had been escorted to this building as soon as he had ran off the zeppelin to Galatea, and he had been waiting here ever since.  Something about needing to wait for more people, or something like that.  Whatever the reason was, he was sure it wouldn't be an excuse that Dia would take to heart.  He'd for sure be scolded instead of visiting the temple to commune with her.  "Three, four, better row the oar~," he continued before switching his position on the couch so that he lay flat on his back.  This ceiling was way more boring to stare at then a starry night sky on the ocean's tide.  "Five, six-"  He was interrupted by the doors of the office being swung open.  

The lady who had introduced herself as Levanna when he arrived had entered the office once more, tailed by a couple of others.  They all looked...unique in their own right.  Could they be-?

“Here he is,” She must have been referring to him.  He gave the others a smile upon the greeting. “A little on the young side, I’m sure, but you all are on the young side when you get to be my age. I can get you some tea while you introduce yourselves, maybe some biscuits too. Do you have a preference?”  Another knock on the door, and someone else entered the room.  By Levanna's expression, she wasn't too thrilled about the man barging in.  “How kind of you to join us, Aiden, what-”

“Spare me,” The man bluntly stated.  The disrespect that the man showed Levanna was a bit excessive, but the boy sat there without blinking an eye.  “We need to talk. It can either be in front of these dogs or not but we do have to talk. Simon is-”

“Zzt!” The woman stopped the man's talking in it's tracks, as she turned to the rest of them and smiled. “Well, the tea and biscuits might be a bit late,” she said. “But do feel free to introduce yourselves still! I’ll be right outside if you need anything else.”

As they left the room, the youngest among them came to the realization that these other people were also watchdogs!  He hadn't met one in quite some time, but his curiosity has certainly peaked.  

"Olive," The darker skinned dog said to no one. "My name's Olive. I'm the watchdog for Hinder. But, we can court one another later. Don't mind me, lads,"  He pressed his ear up against the door, prompting the boy to laugh.

"I wouldn't expect any less from hinder's watchdog!"  He cleared his throat, trying to make his voice just as deep as Oliver's.  "My name's Finn!  Finn Flanagan!  I'm my goddess', Dia's, watchdog!"  The boy placed a fist over his heart, and bowed to the both of them.  "It's a pleasure to meet you all!  Aloha!"  Finn looked at the last to introduce themselves, smiling and shifting the balance of his weight forwards and back.  "The world sure is big, huh?  This is my first time visiting Galatea!  Let's make sure to drop by the temple later, yeah?"  

 

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“Oh dear, two of you wandered off and didn’t tell me? We can’t have that, no, surely not. Imagine if you got lost marveling at Galatea’s wonders and weren’t able to perform your duties. There’s a reason I am accompanying you, after all.”

Truth be told, Kitt didn't even notice the Watchdog of Nuumu and Myria leave the group, as he was a bit busy just taking in the sights and the sounds of the island. Again, it wasn't much to write back home to Caminus about, but still...it was someplace new. So saying that he too was surprised at the two 'dogs basically just up and leaving was quite unexpected. However, what became more unexpected was Levanna's reaction to it, sending a guard to find them.

Strange attitude to have there...after all, perhaps they were doing something as their patrons requested. Kitt thought, not risking to speak out right now. After all, a situation like this required him not to overstep his boundaries, especially with someone who was on the council of this island.

Still, this was odd behavior to say the least...


“Fortunately, my office is on the ground floor. These old bones couldn’t take the stairs if they placed it any higher.”

"Nonsense, Levanna." Kitt gave a smile, waving his hand dismissively. "Surely you've got quite a few good years still left before you can say that." He knew that she pretty much was right, however, but at the same time he figured he'd be courteous and pay her a compliment.

“Here he is. A little on the young side, I’m sure, but you all are on the young side when you get to be my age."

There in the office sat a young boy, adorned with quite the aquatic themed attire, even down to an Orca whale head piece. Kitt was quite impressed with the young kid, not expecting a kid such as he to appear in the midst of all this, but then again...he too was in that sort of predicament too. Ah the days of him under the tutelage of Taros' Watchdog Flynt and his father, Gaillard.

However, as Kitt was reminiscing about days past and looking around the office, a gentleman named Aiden came in and that's where things were getting...stranger...

“How kind of you to join us, Aiden, what-”
“Spare me. We need to talk. It can either be in front of these dogs or not but we do have to talk. Simon is-”
“Shzzt! Well, the tea and biscuits might be a bit late. But do feel free to introduce yourselves still! I’ll be right outside if you need anything else.”

And with that, Kitt watched the two of them retire to a room, closing the door quickly with a slam. This was quite odd for the young man to see, but then again, ever since the strange attitude she had in regards to Nuumu and Myria's Watchdogs being gone from the group, Kitt was eerie of her but said nothing.

"Olive. My name's Olive. I'm the watchdog for Hinder. But, we can court one another later. Don't mind me, lads."
"I wouldn't expect any less from Hinder's watchdog! My name's Finn! Finn Flanagan! I'm my goddess', Dia's, watchdog! It's a pleasure to meet you all! Aloha! The world sure is big, huh? This is my first time visiting Galatea! Let's make sure to drop by the temple later, yeah?"

"Dia, the goddess of water and purity? Well, that would definitely explain the interesting attire as well as the greeting there." Kitt commented lightheartedly, as he glanced over at Olive, now pressing his ear to the door. "My acquaintance there, Olive, already heard me introduce myself earlier, but allow me to reiterate it for you, Finn." he smiled, before bowing slightly himself. "I'm Kitt Axton, Watchdog to the Great Forge Maker himself, Taros. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Once the introduction was out of the way, he glanced over at Olive and cleared his throat slightly, whilst speaking as softly as he could to make it where the two behind the closed door wouldn't hear. "Well, anything?"

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Untitled.png

It seemed that Neasa wasn't the only one intent - though calling her intent would be a bit mistaken - to tag along with this girl. The Myria watchdog, Amir, had also followed along. Something that Neasa's sudden escort noted, eventually turning around to bring him along at a similar pace to the one she'd been dragging Neasa along with. She had to admit, she was more and more curious about just where it was that she was being taken. Imagine the Nuumu watchdog's surprise when it was - of all places - a bakery. The Briar and Thistle Bakery. It wasn't until they were inside the place that the girl introduced herself as Emily Briar and explained her situation. Her father had passed, and her mother had fallen ill. And so Emily wanted Neasa to perform the grisly task of taking another human life.

In short, euthanasia.

It wasn't really a topic covered all that well in Nuumu worship. Sacrificing living creatures was strictly forbidden. Killing for sport was strictly forbidden. Murder, be it for revenge, money, or any other personal gain, was strictly forbidden. But taking a life for the peace of the one being killed was a hazy subject at best. Neasa remembered that this was a topic acolytes in Ashwood Citadel were left to debate among each other over, after a pair of masters within the Order of Ash presented their points for or against the act. The main argument against it was that it was still a life being ended by external means, sending a soul into Nuumu's care before its time had come. On the flipside, the masters arguing that it was allowed would make the point that the time of someone's death was of no concern to Nuumu - his domain wasn't in ending lives, but handling the souls of those who perish - and that stakes clearly intended to pierce human hearts while making as little mess as possible had been among the tools of Nuumu worship since before the Order of Ash was formed. And with human sacrifice having always been known to be something Nuumu frowned upon, those stakes had to have been made for a reason, and they weren't practical enough as weapons for that reason to have been combat.

And, as a recruit in the citadel had once pointed out, euthanasia was an act that perfectly encapsulated both the beauty of life and the necessity of death. Two concepts that were fundamental to Nuumu's theology. Looking at the cold hard facts, Neasa had always been among the monks who believed taking life in such a manner was permittable, as long as it was done in a proper manner. Which is to say, with the right tools, and via the correct procedures. Tools that probably weren't available in this little bakery.

"I can kill her," Neasa confirmed. "Mercy killing is a bit of a debated topic among Nuumu worshippers, but I've always been on the side in favor of allowing it. I'll have to grab some tools from the local temple though." The stake, of course. And she'd have to alert the monks in the temple to get the pyre ready. Actually, come to think of it... "It might be faster if we can just move her there, though. After the deed is done, I'd have to get her body to the temple anyway for proper cremation." Neasa's eyes shifted over to her fellow watchdog. "I suppose it's a good thing you tagged along, after all."

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Behind Closed Doors

“You are not to interrupt me when I’m with company. You know this. Especially with dogs involved.”

“You need to deal with Weatherson and his goons.”

“We’re dealing with them as best we can. Did you really barge in to tell me how to do my job?”

“No, I came here to tell you to do your job. It’s a subtle difference, but I thought you’d appreciate it. They’re hurting people, Lev.”

“We’re handling it! Medeis’ temple wasn’t seeing much use, anyway, and until we get them something Simon will actually accept-”

“They moved. Again. If you were any good at your -”

“Where?”

“Taros. And they’re spilling out from there too. At Simon’s behest, of course.”

“Taros! They haven’t -”

“Do something about him, Lev. Let me go back to my actual job and relieve me of being your stupid messenger, please.”


Office Space

The voices on the other side of the door stopped talking after that. What little noise remained was the sound of someone pacing back and forth in front of the door, which too stopped eventually, and nothing could be heard at all for a while until Levanna finally walked back through, carrying a tray with teas and biscuits for all.

“I do apologize,” Levanna said. “In fact, I’m afraid I owe you a three-fold apology. The first is for the interruption. Aiden is a marvelous priest, and he really cares about those who worship with him, but he can get ahead of himself sometimes. The second, though I may have apologized for this already, is being late with the tea. I don’t have anything exotic to offer, either, just some herbs found here on Galatea, but maybe that’s exactly what you were looking for all along.

“The last apology I have to make is concerning the faulty scheduling.” She nodded at Kitt. “I’m afraid the temple to Taros is currently occupied with another matter, and the offering ceremony must be postponed. It truly is a tragedy, and on such short notice too! What else can I do but apologize?”

Levanna set the tray down and passed out the teacups to her guests before sitting down at her desk. “Well, it wouldn’t be much, but I suppose I could try to answer any questions you might have about our humble island? If this is your first time here you must have many, I assume? Or perhaps you would like to visit the temples yourselves? I’m sure I could arrange for an escort if you so desire.”


OOC

Spoiler

Medeis is Naviim's Goddess of Magic, not that there's much if any of that left in Naviim.

Tried something with the formatting, let me know if it doesn't make sense.

Hopefully this is self-explanatory, but the choice I've tried to present is either digging out what Levanna's hiding or visiting the temples to try and see what's going on with Taros' temple that way. Again, let me know if you need anything.

 

Edited by radio414

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“My mother is suffering, and I will not stand for it,” Emily said. “I need you to either kill my mother or, failing that, find a way for her soul to be at peace.”

Amir's eyes grew wide at her request. He faltered; he choked on his words. Fortunately, Neasa took the lead.

"I can kill her." 

Again, Amir was shocked at the response. Both of these women were so quick to embrace death. The concept was alien to Amir, but it made sense that Neasa was better acquainted with it. As she spoke on the practices of her religion, Amir felt a bit jealous. Myria's edicts were not so plain. The cornerstone of his religion, interpretation, guesswork. Hope. Faith. Far more immaterial than the rules that his fellow Watchdog had clearly committed to memory. 

"I suppose it's a good thing you tagged along, after all."

"Mmhmm, should we truly be so quick to end this woman's, your mother's, life? Can we not possibly pray to our patrons for aid?" He turned to look specifically at Emily. "I don't want to give you any false hope, but I feel it is a waste not to at least try to ask for help, no?"

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Dish, dish, dish!

Olivander focused completely on his task at hand, accidentally tuning out the other dogs in the room. With his ear pressed to the oak door, he could hear Levanna squabbling with Aiden. Apparently there was quite a mess happening at the temple of Medeis. It was important enough that Levanna was dragged away from her duties with the watchdogs. And apparently, things were getting violent too. Olivander frowned. He was starting to think that the reason the watchdogs were there, was to deal with the mess at Medeis' temple. He could be wrong, but judging by Levanna's hesitation, they were about to be dragged into a scuffle with a rowdy bunch. Olivander would keep that note to himself for now, because Aiden had left and Levanna was simply pacing behind the door. When the pacing stopped, Olivander moved quickly away from the door as not to be slammed by it, and quickly took a casual position against the wall opposite Kitt. He excitedly observed Levanna as she entered the room again.

“I do apologize,” Levanna said. “In fact, I’m afraid I owe you a three-fold apology."

"She feels guilty? Well that's a telling sign," he thought right away.

"The first is for the interruption. Aiden is a marvelous priest, and he really cares about those who worship with him, but he can get ahead of himself sometimes," Levanna explained.

"No kidding. He obviously has no respect for you, judging by the way he barged into your office without warning or greeting. Is it because he's a priest, that he's an ass? Or are they not mutually exclusive?" Olivander wondered.

"The second, though I may have apologized for this already, is being late with the tea. I don’t have anything exotic to offer, either, just some herbs found here on Galatea, but maybe that’s exactly what you were looking for all along," she went on.

"Oh, right. Tea. I hope it's sweet," Olivander admitted to himself.

“The last apology I have to make is concerning the faulty scheduling," Levanna continued. She directed her attention to Kitt. “I’m afraid the temple to Taros is currently occupied with another matter, and the offering ceremony must be postponed. It truly is a tragedy, and on such short notice too! What else can I do but apologize?”

"...liar. Should I bust her? Or, should I assume that, because she's lying, its something she doesn't want dogs involved in?" Olivander mused. He silently chose the second option and listened to Levanna as she handed him a teacup.

“Well, it wouldn’t be much, but I suppose I could try to answer any questions you might have about our humble island? If this is your first time here you must have many, I assume? Or perhaps you would like to visit the temples yourselves? I’m sure I could arrange for an escort if you so desire," she offered.

"...hmm. I may have an opportunity to do both. Exploring the island will definitely give me a chance to find some loot." Olivander took a loud slurp of his tea. It was sweet. He smiled softly. "Actually, Levanna, I was hoping to take a look around Galatea. I don't have the chance to travel so visiting a new place is exciting. Is there some place you recommend?"

 

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Not surprisingly, Kitt found that Olive not speaking or answering him when he asked what was going on. If anything, it probably wasn't any of his business anyway. Nevertheless, Kitt took himself a seat, moving his bag and sword over to his side, just awaiting for Levanna's little chat with the young man to end. It wasn't too long, but finally he watched Levanna walking out with a tray of biscuits and tea.

That's when she started to apologize to the group of Watchdogs...

“I do apologize. In fact, I’m afraid I owe you a three-fold apology. The first is for the interruption. Aiden is a marvelous priest, and he really cares about those who worship with him, but he can get ahead of himself sometimes. The second, though I may have apologized for this already, is being late with the tea. I don’t have anything exotic to offer, either, just some herbs found here on Galatea, but maybe that’s exactly what you were looking for all along."

Sort of small minute reasons to apologize. The man simply is just a priest who loves his job, don't get to see many of that. Kitt thought, nodding at Levanna speaking. As for the tea, that really shouldn't matter all too much. She shouldn't need to apologize so hard for things she can't control.

“The last apology I have to make is concerning the faulty scheduling.”

Kitt noticed her turning her fully attention to him when she began speaking.

“I’m afraid the temple to Taros is currently occupied with another matter, and the offering ceremony must be postponed. It truly is a tragedy, and on such short notice too! What else can I do but apologize?”

The young man began to stare intently at Levanna, bringing his hands together to clasp them as he stared at the woman. While she went on about possibly giving a directed tour towards the temples or even answer questions about the quaint little island, Kitt couldn't help but feel something was off about what she spoke. However, he decided to test this little feeling out...

"Hmm? Oh well if it's something that is in a bit of a high importance than the offering ceremony, then perhaps I can assist."

"Higher importance..." Levanna tapped her fingers on her desk. "I mean, of course, you are a Watchdog of Taros, I understand your concern. And as I said, of course I can arrange an escort to guide you to the temples. But what is actually happening inside is, ah, a private matter, and perhaps it would be best if it were not disturbed. There really is no need to worry."

The feeling strengthened. If Kitt had to guess, this definitely was some sort of sign to him by Taros. Plus, it was obvious about another thing: Levanna was simply scrambling for cover with her explanation. Something indeed was up...and the Watchdog of Taros, was planning to figure this out. He simply smiled and continued further in his...interrogation?

"I see...well pardon my concern, I just wish for everything to be in order for the Great Forge Maker's offering ceremony, so I would love to inquire as what else could be so important than that. If you could enlighten me, that would be greatly appreciated."

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"Dia, the goddess of water and purity? Well, that would definitely explain the interesting attire as well as the greeting there." The other watchdog chimed. "My acquaintance there, Olive, already heard me introduce myself earlier, but allow me to reiterate it for you, Finn." he smiled, before bowing slightly himself. "I'm Kitt Axton, Watchdog to the Great Forge Maker himself, Taros. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Finn's eyes lit up, and his mouth hung open.

"Wow!  So you can make like...metal things and stuff?!  That's so cool!"  He scratched the back of his head with an innocent smile.  "All I can do is fish, really!  I'm happy to have met Taros' Watchdog!"

“I do apologize,” Levanna said as she returned to the office room. “In fact, I’m afraid I owe you a three-fold apology. The first is for the interruption. Aiden is a marvelous priest, and he really cares about those who worship with him, but he can get ahead of himself sometimes. The second, though I may have apologized for this already, is being late with the tea. I don’t have anything exotic to offer, either, just some herbs found here on Galatea, but maybe that’s exactly what you were looking for all along.

"There's nothing to apologize for!"  Finn giggled.  He looked at the cup of tea that was placed before him with a blank expression.  As the surface of it rattled, he couldn't help but wince at it.  All Tea was was impure water.  Dia would get mad at him if he were to partake...but she'd have been mad at him for something else if not this.  Finn picked up the cup and gave the drink a light sip.  It was bitter, but strangely delicious.  He stuck his tongue out at it after the fact.  "Is that man....Aiden right?...Is he a watchdog too?  He seemed rather rude."  His tone was pout-like.

“The last apology I have to make is concerning the faulty scheduling.  I’m afraid the temple to Taros is currently occupied with another matter, and the offering ceremony must be postponed. It truly is a tragedy, and on such short notice too! What else can I do but apologize?”

"Geez...sorry about that Kitt."  Finn said, taking another sip of tea, and then sticking his tongue out again.  "I'm sure it'll open up soon enough!  You should introduce me to Taros!!"

“Well, it wouldn’t be much, but I suppose I could try to answer any questions you might have about our humble island? If this is your first time here you must have many, I assume? Or perhaps you would like to visit the temples yourselves? I’m sure I could arrange for an escort if you so desire.”  Kitt asked his own question, prompting a rather suspicious response from their host.  Even though Finn was young, he knew something sneaky was up.  He wasn't a watchdog for nothing after all.  Finn looked to Kitt and rolled his eyes in doubt, making sure to place a hand over the side of his face as to not show this display to Levanna.  After Kitt had one of his questions answered, Finn decided to ask his own.  

"Would Galatea like it's own ocean!?"  The boy asked with a wide grin.

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Corner

Some of the questions Levanna got were easy. Tourist attractions? Would Galatea like an ocean? These were things she could deal with. “Well, outside the Temple Square and perhaps Tavern street, we do have a natural spring we get our water from,” she said. “A Dia watchdog long ago came and blessed it so we would never run out. So no, I don’t think we need an ocean. I appreciate the thought, however. And people do find it tranquil. Would that interest you? Or perhaps you’d rather the excitement of the theater? We have a rather exciting amphitheatre that maybe you would be interested in visiting sometime. And, ah, no,” she gestured at Finn to indicate the other inquiry he’d had. “Aiden is not a watchdog, merely a priest for Lar.” She laughed. “Maybe he thinks he’s a dog sometimes.”

It was Kitt, the Taros watchdog, that made things difficult. Vagaries, of course, invited questions she didn’t want. She’d already answered one and all of a sudden he came back with “I would love to inquire as to what could be more important than that.”

There were a lot of things Levanna wanted to say. She could conceive, for example, of a lot more important ceremonies -- even Taros ceremonies -- than just waving a sword around and saying “I made this!” or whatever the ceremony was supposed to do. Maybe they were dedicating a whole smithy or something like that. But at the same time, it was like a bolt of clarity hit her, and she realized that simply making excuses wasn’t going to cut it anymore. She’d revealed a nugget of the truth somewhere, and now she had to follow along with that. At the very least, she could regain her ground that way.

Levanna stood up from her desk. She was quicker than she’d hoped, and certainly not as smooth, but the point was still the same. “Alright,” she said. “Well, I imagine you’ll want to see the Temple Square, then, seeing as you’re so anxious about its goings-on. I think, ah, Finn, you said you were interested in visiting Dia’s temple at some point today as well? We could all go together and then after that, we’ll see about your temple, how does that sound?”

She didn’t wait for an answer. More questions were not what she wanted right now. The only other things she said were “You can leave your teacups on the tray if you like. I’ll make sure someone cleans them up for you,” and, when she reached the door, “After me, please.”


Coroner

“Can we not pray to our patrons for aid?” The dog who Emily had not asked to follow along asked. “I don’t want to give you any false hope, but I feel it is a waste to not at least try to ask for help, no?”

By the mark on his chest, Emily assumed he was a watchdog of Myria, but she didn’t want to make assumptions, nor did she care whether she was right or wrong. “False hope?” she said. “My mother is either going to be dead soon by your hand or continue to suffer and end up lost to me later, what hope is there between those two options? You cannot give me false hope; I lost it all when Doctor Wendell failed to treat my father. As I said, I’m working to keep my mother from the same fate.”

She was wasting time and she knew it. And from what the Nuumu watchdog said, they were going to spend even more time getting the correct tools. Did they not just always carry their tools with them? Couldn’t they just mutter a few words and have it be so? But it wasn’t her place to argue. She knew enough of her theology to know what she was doing, enough to make her daily offerings to Lar, and that was enough. “Do as you like,” she said. To Nuumu’s dog, she said, “You said it’d be best if we moved her, though, so we’d best get to her.”

As soon as she’d finished speaking, she heard her mother call from upstairs. “Emily!” her mother said. “Emily, dearest, are you there?”

The frustrated determination Emily had with the dogs in front of her immediately melted away and was replaced with worry. “Coming, mother!” Emily gave a quick beckon to the two watchdogs to follow her, adding a “We do need to hurry,” before racing up the stairs to her mother’s side.

The bedroom was as she had left it that morning. Her mother was even in the same position she had been, clutching her covers and forehead drenched with sweat from her fever. The only things that had changed were the light from the single window overlooking a barely-attended-to garden now more suitably lit the room, and the water cup Emily had left out had been drained to its last drop.

“Mother, I’m here,” Emily said. And she was. She was kneeling right by the bed, grasping her mother’s right hand with both of hers. “What do you need? More water? A change of sheets?”

“Oh, Emily, dear Emily,” her mother said. She turned her head and looked Emily in the eyes. “I’m glad I got to see your face one more time. I’m afraid your father’s disease is getting the better of me.”

“Mother, please hold on. There are people here who can help you, I petitioned them mysel-”

Her mother interrupted her. “No, Emily, listen to me.” With her left hand, she drew back her bedsheets, revealing Emily’s worst fear to her. “There is no hope for me, Emily. I’m sorry to have been such a burden. Do good, Emily. Take care of yourself.”

Emily’s mother had two final words. First was an “Ah…” as she lay back in her bed, as her grip relaxed on both her sheets and Emily’s hand, and the second, fainter than a whisper, was “Ina͠ni̷s...͝” as the rest of her body turned to stone.


Crowd? Er...

The Temple Square was, as Levanna had expected, rather empty. A few people were out and about, but instead of the general milling about normal for an open and public space, their eyes were kept right on the stones in front of them, as if that would get where they were going faster. Levanna couldn’t help but remark on it. “Ah, normally there wouldn’t be this much peace and quiet, but surely you can appreciate it, no?

“Dia’s temple is right over there.” Levanna gestured at a large building with an exterior the color of the sea. “You know, here’s a fun fact you might not know. Inside is one of the last remaining Mother of Pearl stones in all of Naviim.”

Right as she started in its direction, there was a roar from across the way, from Taros’ temple. As if what was already a hastily-put-together plan couldn’t get any worse! And it was just starting to go downhill, soon after, the doors to the temple were flung open, and a number of people started crowding the entrance, calling after anybody who looked at them funny or dared get too close. They were incomprehensible from where Levanna was standing, but she knew what they were saying all the same. They were beckoning people in.

“Pay them no mind,” Levanna said. She clapped her hands twice to summon a few guards over. “Please, could you contain this rabble for me?” she asked. Behind her, she said, “See, it’s all under control. Shall we visit Dia now?”


OOC

Spoiler

Team Levanna:
Continuing the Coen Brother's theme, Levanna's character inspiration, especially when cornered, is something like Jerry Lundegaard

The section break where Levanna leads you all out the door is an opportunity to split from the group if you don't want to go to the Temple Square right now. Between Levanna's insistence on leading and her previously-established failure to look behind her, I'm sure she wouldn't notice if you went elsewhere. Let me know if you decide to do that so we can work something out.

Team Emily:
I didn't exactly establish where you two were standing when you followed Emily up the stairs. I imagine you're at the doorway, if that helps. I feel like you might have questions for me and/or Emily now; feel free to either put those in your posts or let me know ahead of time so you can put the answers in.

 

Edited by radio414

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“False hope? My mother is either going to be dead soon by your hand or continue to suffer and end up lost to me later, what hope is there between those two options? You cannot give me false hope; I lost it all when Doctor Wendell failed to treat my father. As I said, I’m working to keep my mother from the same fate.”

Neasa nodded in agreement. One way or another, it seemed Emily's mother wouldn't have long left in this world, would she? For a watchdog of Myria, Neasa could imagine Amir might be able to at least give the woman a painless death. Put the woman in a deep sleep with peaceful dreams, and let her die quietly in her sleep. Or something like that. But what comfort would that provide the living? Even in the depths of sleep, she'd still be suffering. If the options were a peaceful death caused by external means, or a more natural one of suffering, which one to go with would depend on the person. It seemed that this Mrs. Briar was a good enough person to deserve not to suffer at the end of her life.

As Neasa stepped into the room to look at what she was dealing with, it was all about what she'd expected. Sick old lady stuck in bed, probably not long for this world. A simple kill with the stake then subsequent cremation would suffice. However, there was something Neasa didn't account for. Something she had no way to predict, really. And that was that rather than simply closing her eyes and drifting off into an eternal slumber, the now-late Mrs. Briar had - of all things - turned into stone. This... wasn't part of her training.

Bewildered and unable to put together an idea of how this could happen to someone, Neasa couldn't do much else but look at the statue. What was she even supposed to do with this? She couldn't exactly cremate a statue. On the flipside of that, strictly speaking, she didn't have to. The historical purpose behind the cremations was to keep necromancers from tampering with the bodies, but between magic being on the decline across Naviim and necromancy not exactly being able to move rocks around, doing that served no purpose. Although, nowadays, another reason behind it - at least on Sonus - was so that the dead wouldn't take up space when buried in a graveyard. The equivalent would be... breaking the statue down to gravel, perhaps?

That Taros watchdog would probably be helpful for that.

But, if nothing else, Neasa could confirm that Mrs. Briar was dead. And while she couldn't exactly cremate the woman - let alone inside a bakery - there were still other rites that could be performed, even on a statue. Although carrying stakes outside of temples was a rarity, there were three tools any monk worth their ash was expected to carry with them at all time. A small sack of ash, fastened to her hips, a few tiny Nuumu effigies fashioned from wood stored in her bag, and a special sort of knife. Not to be confused with the wooden stakes used to end someone's suffering; the knife was for combat, and the pommel was carved from stone down to very precise specifications to make it a readily-available firestarter. Cremation ceremonies weren't always an option after all. For example, mass cremation of the fallen in war was simply too impractical to do the old-fashioned way, or someone whose body was discovered in a place with no wood to make a pyre from. The standard procedure for those cases was to perform a simpler ritual meant to at least see the soul of the dearly departed off, and if possible, come back to burn the bodies later.

And, at least in Neasa's case, those tools were easy conduits for the powers granted to her as a watchdog. But that wasn't what they were for today. Last rites.

"I'm afraid cremation might not be possible, if that's what this disease does," Neasa regretfully said, procuring the knife and one of the effigies, resembling a horn of the Ashen King. "The most I can do for her now is see her off to the Ashwood. With your permission, of course."

Emily stared at Neasa, a mixture of sadness and misunderstanding on her face. "I cannot give that permission. Her soul is still in this shell, can't you see that? There will be no send-off, even if you try now."

"...then we shall break her shell, and set her soul free," Neasa responded. "Hers, and the shells of anyone else that has met this fate. Getting in contact with the watchdog of Taros would be beneficial to that. I believe Levanna Marcus said there was a blacksmith looking to offer something to Taros. Heading to the temple square would be as good a starting point as any, in that case." Returning the knife and effigy to their proper places, the watchdog concluded "If you would be so kind as to show us to the temple square, I'll make investigating this disease my greatest priority. The best I can hope to do in the immediate present is cut the problem out at its heart, then help with the cleanup once the matter is resolved."

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“Alright! Well, I imagine you’ll want to see the Temple Square, then, seeing as you’re so anxious about its goings-on. I think, ah, Finn, you said you were interested in visiting Dia’s temple at some point today as well? We could all go together and then after that, we’ll see about your temple, how does that sound?”

...yeah, she's hiding something. Kitt thought, seeing how easily she avoided his questioning altogether. Regardless, the young man stood up, gathering his stuff and prepared to follow Levanna and the other two Watchdogs out of her office. If anything...he'd be able to see with his own eyes what this woman was trying to hide about Taros' temple.


“Ah, normally there wouldn’t be this much peace and quiet, but surely you can appreciate it, no? Dia’s temple is right over there. You know, here’s a fun fact you might not know. Inside is one of the last remaining Mother of Pearl stones in all of Naviim.”

Levanna directed the dogs to Dia's temple, whilst also giving out a bit of trivia regarding the goddess' temple. Which, in fairness, was a pretty good reason why she would spotlight that one first over all the other temples. And though Kitt was grateful for the little history lesson and given insight about the stone within that temple, his mind was on other things...about the one thing that now grabbed the group's attention.

There was quite a roar from across the way, from Taros’ temple. It immediately caught Kitt's attention as he turned to face the direction of his patron's temple, seeing the doors flung open and quite the number of people starting to crowd the entrance. The people there...they were calling out and after anybody who looked strangely at them or even dared to get close. While most of it was hard to make out...Kitt could gather namely one thing to take away from this: they were beckoning others to come in. And quite frankly, the Watchdog of the Great Forge Maker was being sickened and repulsed by this little action.

The training he received from Flynt showed greatly at this point, allowing him to definitely notice that these individuals around the temple didn't have the worship of Taros in mind not one bit. The devil was in the details...they were as clear as day to the young man. The hands the individuals had, they didn't have the grease or soot...they were spotless...not the ones of a hard worker. The clothing, while not having any grease or soot either...for Taros if any blacksmith came in looking rugged and dirt and grime from their work was on their clothes, he wouldn't have given a care...but these individuals were unkempt...worse than one would think. To top it all off, their overall attitudes that they were having just turned him off...this wasn't a way to act towards a Naviim deities' temple...especially not the Great Forge Maker. All of this was just making the young man sick and feeling quite a bit of rage about it. He watched this happen, all the while his hands slowly reaching into his bag as he began to fiddle and mess with a few leather strips, tying them tightly together...just repeating this process. This was one of those moments that he knew his emotions were going to go crazy at seeing this...and it was one of those moments he figured...Taros wouldn't mind this.

“Pay them no mind. Please, could you contain this rabble for me? See, it’s all under control. Shall we visit Dia now?”

"No. It's not." Kitt simply said, making his stride towards his temple, even passing the guards. "Taros, grant me strength for what I'm about to do...and possibly get ready to see a show..."

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Temple of Doom

“Dia’s temple is right over there," Levanna said, directing their attention. “You know, here’s a fun fact you might not know. Inside is one of the last remaining Mother of Pearl stones in all of Naviim.”

Olivander kept his expression composed but a mental torch was now burning brightly in his head. "One of the last, huh?" he thought to himself. Best not to draw attention to himself too soon, especially before he had an opportunity to survey the temple, its immediate surroundings, and their various security. Nevertheless, Olivander now had an immediate goal in mind: find and steal the Mother of Pearl stone.

Mission Start! The Mother of All Pearls!


Olivander hadn't yet had the chance to "reveal" what he overheard with Levanna's conversation, but it would seem he wouldn't have to. As she escorted the dogs to the Temple Square and attempted to highlight the temple of Dia -- whom Olivander was wholly interested in investigating, among others -- there was a ruckus. And judging by her almost immediate and incessant demand that it be paid no mind, this was an ongoing problem. The doors of the Taros' temple flew open as if by storm force winds, and there were not quite discernible, but angry voices coming from the entrance.

“Please, could you contain this rabble for me?” Levanna asked of her summoned pet guards, who quickly appeared to her side. That was something Olivander would have to keep in mind. These guards were very quick to come to her aid. “See, it’s all under control. Shall we visit Dia now?” Levanna requested.

At this, Olivander chuckled. "Forgive me, Levanna. But that it is--"

"No. It's not." Kitt interrupted. The previously calm demeanor of the Taros dog had suddenly melted away to reveal a burning magma forge beneath it. He began marching toward the Taros temple to investigate it himself. As he walked away, Olivander couldn't quite make out his words. "Taros, grant me strength for what I'm about to do..."

Olivander folded his arms and stood his ground. "Well. This will be entertaining. So, Finn," Olivander said quickly. "You wanna go pray or watch the street brawl?" Despite having previously focused all of his attention on listening to Levanna's conversation beyond that large door, Olivander did indeed hear Finn and Kitt introduce themselves to each other. To be able to notice these things in an environment was key if he was going to be a legendary thief.

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“Well, outside the Temple Square and perhaps Tavern street, we do have a natural spring we get our water from.  A Dia watchdog long ago came and blessed it so we would never run out. So no, I don’t think we need an ocean. I appreciate the thought, however. And people do find it tranquil."  The fact that Dia had another watchdog sometime ago...it was kind of a shocker.  Conceited as the thought may have been, Finn thought himself the first Watchdog.  He'd have to ask Dia what they were like.   "Would that interest you? Or perhaps you’d rather the excitement of the theater? We have a rather exciting amphitheatre that maybe you would be interested in visiting sometime. And, ah, no,” she gestured at Finn to indicate the other inquiry he’d had. “Aiden is not a watchdog, merely a priest for Lar.”  Finn nodded in understanding.  

“Alright, Well, I imagine you’ll want to see the Temple Square, then, seeing as you’re so anxious about its goings-on. I think, ah, Finn, you said you were interested in visiting Dia’s temple at some point today as well? We could all go together and then after that, we’ll see about your temple, how does that sound?”  

Finn shook his head up and down with excitement, threading his fingers together and holding them up against his smiling mouth.

"That sounds great!  I can't wait!"  Hehe, that rhymed~!

“You can leave your teacups on the tray if you like. I’ll make sure someone cleans them up for you,” and, when she reached the door, “After me, please.”

Finn did just that, hopping to his feet and prancing right behind their guide.  

"I can't wait for you guys to meet Dia!  She's really cool, and so pretty!" 

 


 

“Ah, normally there wouldn’t be this much peace and quiet, but surely you can appreciate it, no?  Dia’s temple is right over there.” Levanna gestured at a large building with an exterior the color of the sea.  Finn's eyes were glowing at the sight of it. “You know, here’s a fun fact you might not know. Inside is one of the last remaining Mother of Pearl stones in all of Naviim.”  

Finn's adoration was interrupted by a complete storm of chaos erupting from where Levanna said nothing of importance was going on.  Incidentally, that had not turned out to be the case.  

“Pay them no mind.” The request was pretty much impossible, but Finn somehow managed to keep his eyes away from the whole ordeal. “Please, could you contain this rabble for me?” Levanna asked here guards, “See, it’s all under control. Shall we visit Dia now?”  Finn was about to agree before he heard someone else speak up.  Kitt was now moving away from the group and towards the temple of Taros.

"Taros, grant me strength for what I'm about to do...and possibly get ready to see a show..."  Finn reached out to stop him, but he knew how Kitt must have been feeling at the site of such desecration.  

"Well. This will be entertaining. So, Finn," Olivander spoke quickly. "You wanna go pray or watch the street brawl?"

"Uhh...I don't really like fightin' that much brah..."  Finn said rubbing the back of his head.  "Dia's probably waiting on an update from me too...It's been a couple of days since I last talked to her, so I better head to the temple and see her!"  He said following close behind Levanna.  

 

Edited by Mr. Hyde

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“False hope?” Emily's voice was incredulous. “My mother is either going to be dead soon by your hand or continue to suffer and end up lost to me later, what hope is there between those two options? You cannot give me false hope; I lost it all when Doctor Wendell failed to treat my father. As I said, I’m working to keep my mother from the same fate.” Emily turned to Neasa, clearly ready to accept the passing of her mother before it had even happened.

"You misunderstand, I am suggesting that we ask Myria to alter fate, to sav-"

“Emily!”

Amir was interrupted by the cry for help, no doubt coming from Ms. Briar's bed-ridden mother. The baker's daughter rushed to her mother's side, quick to find the source of her discomfort. Amir watched on, the love evident on Emily's face. He wondered how she could just so easily accept that someone so close to her heart would die. How could she not cling to the bond? Amir thought of his own mother, a pang of sorrow and hurt striking at his chest. He almost envied Emily, at least her family was separated by uncontrollable circumstances. She would not carry the weight of betrayal on her shoulders.

“There is no hope for me, Emily. I’m sorry to have been such a burden. Do good, Emily. Take care of yourself.”

Tears welled up in Amir's eyes as he watched the terribly sad scene unfold. He stood in the doorway, not wanting to intrude on the moment. It seemed that they were too late. Emily's mother gave her hand a final, warm squeeze before succumbing to her illness. As her final breath past her lips, Amir shivered. It was like she was breathing on his neck.

“Ina͠ni̷s...͝” 

The recently departed's flesh turned to stone, the bed she laid in sagged under the weight, and Amir could hardly do anything but stare in disbelief. Emily had said her mother was ill, but this was no disease that Amir had ever encountered nor heard about. This seemed like something far more sinister.

"I'm afraid cremation might not be possible, if that's what this disease does." Neasa said with almost speculative interest. She seemed relatively unbothered by what they had just witnessed. Amir looked wildly towards her as she and Emily discussed what to do with the body.  

"If you would be so kind as to show us to the temple square, I'll make investigating this disease my greatest priority. The best I can hope to do in the immediate present is cut the problem out at its heart, then help with the cleanup once the matter is resolved."

Amir shook his head at Neasa's relative callous demeanor. This woman had just lost the last of her family. If being a Watchdog meant that they had to look on the plights of the world with an emotionless heart, then Amir would be happy to do things wrong. 

"We are so sorry for your loss, Emily." He moved to comfort her. "I can't imagine what you must be going through. I wish there was more comfort that we could provide," Amir looked up to where Neasa still stood in the doorway, "but I assure you that Neasa will see your mother's soul peacefully to the Ashwood." 

"Is this how your father passed as well? Did your mother's final words mean something special to you?"

"You can see my father outside in the garden," Emily said. She gestured towards the bedroom window, where the stone visage of a man indeed lay among the orchids. "The only thing I have to say about my mother's final words is that my father said the same."

This, Amir was certain, was no mortal affliction. This was a curse.

Edited by Ren✧

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In the Wake of Dia

The interior of Dia’s temple was much like its exterior, though the way it intentionally closed itself off from all but the most necessary natural light meant the colors of the sea it presented to the world were much more muted now, closer to the seafloor than open ocean. Where light was necessary, torches had been set up, and the flickering light of the fire appeared similar to the refraction of light as it passed through water. In this environment, finally, Levanna breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe now, she thought, she could start thinking about what needed to be done.

There weren’t all that many other people in Dia’s temple. There were some acolytes, but all of them seemed busy with the maintenance and upkeep and less time on visitors. What visitors they did have were silently attending to their own prayers. Maybe they did want an ocean, Levanna pondered. It would certainly increase attendance, ignoring all the practical matters of terraforming, first and foremost being where it would go in the first place. Well, you also had to ignore Adrian’s complaints, but that was an entirely different matter.

She’d nearly forgotten that she had someone following her. Finn, of course, had come in right after her. Levanna turned her attention to him. “I think --” she kept her voice low “-- there’s a path behind that altar that leads to a little pool and the mother of pearl stone if you would like to commune there,” she said. “I will be right out here if you need me for anything.”


In the Court of the Blacksmith King

The occupants of Taros’ temple didn’t seem to notice the active hostility his watchdog had for them, or, if they did, they didn’t seem to care. In their defense, a few of the stronger -- or at least bigger -- of their company had moved to the front, but for the most part they still loudly beckoned anyone interested in coming in to do so.

The calls never really seemed cacophonous, though, like a large group of people talking over each other normally would. Instead, each voice seemed harmonious with every other voice, a massive chord that never seemed to lose intensity. Nor did it gain it, though, even as Kitt approached. “Come in!” they called. “Come and listen.”

The larger members of the crowd broke off and moved even more forward to meet Kitt. The guards behind him were significantly less ambitious. Without Levanna or a similar authority to encourage them, some even backed off, instead moving to the perimeter where they could at least keep things contained. The whole situation had built to a high-pressure crucible, perhaps fitting for those involved.


Epitaph

Emily was caught at the crossroads between two, no, three emotions. The first, and most obvious, was grief. Her mother had just succumbed to her illness right in front of her, and the watchdog she had enlisted to assist her wasn’t doing much comforting. The one she hadn’t did a little better, but it did little to quell how she felt. The second emotion was fury, and that one was a little harder to describe. The Nuumu watchdog had still pledged to fix everything, for example, and she seemed pretty firm on that promise, for example. But she still felt the need to lash out at someone, and there was only a certain subset of people that would do.

The last feeling was a certain numbness. It wasn’t a “not feeling anything” feeling -- there certainly was something there -- it was a “world in slow-motion but not quite nauseous” sort of feeling. The weight of the world had yet to crash completely down on her, but it certainly seemed like it was about to.

“If you would be so kind as to show us to the temple square,” the Nuumu dog had said. That, she could do.

“Of course,” Emily said. “Just one moment.”

She had to center herself, and the only way she could think to do that was through prayer. Emily made her way back down the stairs to the bakery and took a small bag -- no bigger than an apple -- over to the oven, placing it just inside while she knelt underneath to set it alight. “Oh Lar, God of Hearth and Home,” she prayed, “please help to repair mine.”

It was a small gesture, probably barely noticeable to someone as important as a god, but she hoped it would help. What was next? The Temple Square? “Ah, yes, follow me.”

The temples were only a few turns away anyways, and as long as you kept your back to the sun, it was actually difficult to get lost. Even besides that, Emily had taken the route so many times that she could have blindfolded herself and still made it. 

“That’s the Taros temple over there if that’s where you were headed,” Emily said, pointing towards the guards and the crowds. “I heard there was supposed to be a ceremony today, that must be what the bustle is about, but I’m sure you can find someone who can help you there. Nuumu’s temple is right next to it.

“But as for you,” Emily turned her attention to the Myria watchdog, “if it’s no trouble, I’d like to ask you for a favor.” She seized him by the wrist, again, perhaps a bit more forcefully than she’d intended, and pulled him away from his companion.

Turning around, she brought her voice low and said, “Is there a way for you to tell me my fate? Or what will happen if I perform a specific action? I’d like to request your guidance.”


OOC

Spoiler

Gold star if you get the section names.

A little short for Team Levanna because it already seemed a bit obvious where you all were headed so I didn't prompt too hard. Olive seemed to prefer being a bit passive in the post so I didn't touch on him as much but we can talk about things to do if you're looking for some in discord or in DMs if that's not the case.

We're at a point where it seems like you're going to want to call on your patrons, and while I do encourage you to be a bit creative with this, I ask that you just shoot me a message beforehand, just for a general sense of what you had in mind. I'll probably say yes, but with divine things specifically, I'd like to be kept in the loop. Combat in general too -- as I said in the OoC thread, I'm no good running combat so I'll generally leave that to you so look as cool as you want -- but I'd like to be aware of it.

I'm a little tired as I write this little spoiler, so maybe things don't make too much sense. As always, feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

 

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An Unsavory Bet

"Uhh...I don't really like fightin' that much brah..."  the young watchdog admitted to Olivander. "Dia's probably waiting on an update from me too...It's been a couple of days since I last talked to her, so I better head to the temple and see her!"

Olivander only nodded in understanding as he watched Finn and Levanna make their way to Dia's temple. "Well, he's certainly responsible. That's an admirable quality to have," Olivander thought to himself. "He's sure to be furious when that pearl's gone missing. But for now..." Olivander's attention turned to the local guards. He purposely waited for Levanna and Finn to be out of earshot before he addressed the guard. He would bide his time and learn a bit more about them and what was going on in the Taros temple.

"Hey there!" Olivander called to whichever of the guards could hear him. "A moment of your time, please?"

The guard first glanced in Olive's direction, then looked around for Levanna, before turning away entirely from the commotion at Taros' temple, seemingly relieved they had an excuse to step away. "Certainly," they said. "How can I help?"

"Ah, good. Listen," Olivander said casually throwing his arm around the guard's shoulder. "See that fellow with the large whip, about to enter Taros' temple? He's an acquaintance of mine and Taros' watchdog. I'm thinking he's gonna go in there and handle that ongoing problem all by his wee scrawny self. How about you? You think he's up to the task?" Olivander never bothered to introduce himself. Did this guy take him for an ordinary citizen of Galatea, or... ?

They frowned. "He is a watchdog," the guard said, "so I have no doubt he'll at least manage to clear them from the temple, but ongoing problem? The religious council already has a solution to 'the ongoing problem', so I'm not sure what else there is to handle. Once Simon's temple is built the disruptions will stop, or so I'm told."

"Hmm. Maybe he doesn't know who we are just yet. At least, judging by his reaction to my pointing out Kitt." Olivander nodded as he listened to the guard. "And if this religious council is heavily invested in what's happening in Taros' temple, their guards probably are too. That must mean the priest from before, Aiden, is on the council. Or close to them, at least. It only makes sense." Olivander's face widened with a shit-eating grin. "C'mon, now. Think about it. The religious council has nary a solution. So what do they do? They call for one. Specifically, one who is directly related to the current problem. Kitt here is the reason they're gonna be able to build that temple. I'd bet all my coin on that."

"If you say so," the guard said, in a way that made it seem like they weren't fully convinced. "What did you need my help with again?"

"Ah, right. To the point. How do I speak to this religious council? Seems kind of dangerous to be perpetuating violence on holy grounds and then using a watchdog to clean it up. Honestly, I'm surprised more people haven't come forward," Olivander said softly. "I'll have to get more information from the council before I can scout out Dia's temple."

"They're not viol-" the guard began, but they cut themselves off, instead focusing on the actual question. "If you want to speak to the council as a whole, their next biweekly meeting is tomorrow morning. If you talk to Levanna, I'm sure she could formally invite you."

"Hmm? What was that just now?" Olivander wondered, as the guard hesitated. "He didn't confirm or deny my guess. Either way, I need to get closer to them." Olivander smiled. "Thanks. Be seeing you," Olivander replied. "I'll just have to stick to Levanna's side for now. Not that I mind, so long as I get to watch her walk away... wait! Focus, Olive! Don't your prick cost you the loot! Don't lay and stay man!"

Olivander took a few steps back from the temple square and observed Kitt from afar. The troublemakers in Taros' temple didn't seem to tough. Surely the young boy could handle it on his own. "Best of luck, Kitt!" he called out, uncertain if the boy heard him or not. "I'm gonna make a wager with Hinder. Odds are in your favor!"

Olivander turned and began sprinting in the last direction he saw Levanna and Finn taking off, hoping to bump into them again before he went to pray.

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Untitled.png

Neasa still found herself perplexed at this apparently-not-quite-death. What could have been the cause of this? No ordinary disease to be sure. A curse. And that name. Inanis. Not something Neasa had heard before. As Emily did a brief prayer to Lar, god of hearth and home, Neasa couldn't stop pondering just what could this Inanis have to do with it all. Damn shame that the study of gods outside of Nuumu weren't really part of the Order's cirriculum. Neasa made note of that, as well as the name Inanis. But until the mystery had been solved, the best Neasa could do was investigate it. And the place to start would be...

“Ah, yes, follow me.”

The temple square.

“That’s the Taros temple over there if that’s where you were headed. I heard there was supposed to be a ceremony today, that must be what the bustle is about, but I’m sure you can find someone who can help you there. Nuumu’s temple is right next to it.”

Neasa nodded, taking off into the temple square proper. And indeed, there was bustle about near the temple of Taros. And... wasn't that his watchdog? He seemed angry about something. Well, that was his god, his temple, and thus his jurisdiction. Best not to get in the way. Instead, Neasa focused on her own destination. The local Nuumu temple. Built to pretty worthwhile specifications, at that. Though, anything would have been fine as long as it was made of wood, Neasa reckoned. As she entered, two important things stood out to her. One, nobody here was turned into stone. Two, Neasa was probably the only Nuumu worshipper with any power to solve this issue, otherwise the monks here probably would have handled it by now. Neasa glanced around, looking for the first monk that passed by who didn't seem occupied with anything, and greeting them with a tap on the shoulder and an "Excuse me. I need to ask you a few questions."

The acolyte looked up from what seemed to be a book on Nuumu mythology, and their eyes widened. "A watchdog!" they said. "Yes, of course, how can I help?"

"I'm investigating the happenings around Galatea. Whatever it is, it's an affront to Nuumu and has to be dealt with. Have any of the monks here been afflicted by... whatever this is that's turning people into stone?"

"None of the monks, no," they said, their expression turning serious. "We had a novice succumb to that dreadful disease early on, however. Since then many of us have either stayed at home or found shelter in this temple."

"Making it through the initiation rites, just for this to happen to them," Neasa sighed. A tragic fate, to say the least. "What can you tell me about the name Inanis? They don't really teach us about any gods besides Nuumu in Ashwood Citadel, but here where there are temples to every god, I can't rule out knowledge of others being commonplace. I have reason to suspect that - if this Inanis is a god - a watchdog serving them is the cause of all this."

There was a shift in their expression when Neasa mentioned Ashwood Citadel, a brief moment of awe at where Neasa had come from, but it disappeared just as quickly as it appeared. A bit of familiarity remained, though, especially at the mention of Mrs. Briar's final words. "Oh, you've heard that word too? If it is a name, it is not one I know," they said, though they hastened to add, "I wouldn't be the person to ask about that, of course, it is above my station, but whispers are that the temple elders, nay, even the religious council is as flummoxed as we are."

"For the elders and this island's council to not know..." If it's a god, it's one that's been forgotten.

Certainly not a fate she would wish upon a god. But that meant that she had no idea what it was she was dealing with. This was only getting more and more complicated. "Thank you for your time. I and a few other watchdogs will get to the bottom of this." Hopefully today. After which point, the pyres would have to be lit up and that poor novice and any of Nuumu's faithful among the afflicted would have to be given the proper rites. With that handled, it was probably best to see what was up next door. Neasa exited the temple, and peeked over to the commotion near the Taros temple. Just observing, and not yet interfering.

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The inside of the temple was surprisingly bare, but the design was just as beautiful as the outside had been.  Noticing how empty it was, he was sad to always realize that Dia wasn't worshipped as much as the other deities of the realm.  It made him sad, but that's why he was here!  He wanted to spread her influence in the shape of water!  Finn looked around every which way, waving at the acolytes that were scattered about, only to receive strange looks in kind.  They must have never seen a watchdog his age.  He was quite used to the fact that he was truly an oddity amongst already odd bunch that were the watchdogs.  It never deterred him or his demeanor, so he kept pace behind Levanna.  He would've rushed ahead long ago,   

“I think --” Finally speaking again, she kept her voice low “-- there’s a path behind that altar that leads to a little pool and the mother of pearl stone if you would like to commune there,” she said. “I will be right out here if you need me for anything.”

"Thanks Levanna!"  Finn smiled, stepping beside her and bowing his head to the woman.  "I'll let Dia know that you're keeping her Temple tidy!  She'll probably be a little upset about the no ocean thing though!"  Knocking on his head, Finn stuck his tongue out playfully.  "I'm sure I'll take most of the punishment though."  Finn turned on his heel, and headed for the path behind the alter that Levanna had pointed out.  Walking through the temple, finally free from watchful eyes, he picked up some speed.  At the end of the path, he finally saw something shimmering.  The clear and beautiful refraction of light that only water could produce!  In the center of the pool was the Mother of all Pearls on a pedestal.  He skipped towards the pool, opting to strip down to his last layer of clothing, a bathing suit with flowers haphazardly printed on the blue surface.  He cannon-balled into the pool, only to have the familiar sensation of a hand grabbing his wrist.  

"Seriously?  Every time with you!"  The small deity chastised him.  "I have anointed this as holy water, and yet you still dive ass-first into it!?"

Finn rubbed the back of his head with a huge smile on his face.

"Oh come on!  Don't act like it isn't a cool entrance!"  He was clobbered on the forehead with a chop from Dia.  That would probably bruise.  

"So," The goddess' mood reflected in her lightened tone, as she looked to the side, "What have you to report?"

"Well," Finn began, taking Dia's hand into his, "I arrived in Galatea, obviously, and I met Taros' and Hinder's watchdogs!  They seem really nice!  I wouldn't mind travelling with them, but we probably have differing priorities in our duties.  I also tried to get Galatea's leader to go for your idea, but she opted out of our offer...so there won't be an ocean on this island either."  Finn sighed.  "I'm sorry Dia...I just want you to be taken seriously as a Goddess that's more revered than you are now."  Another swift chop to the forehead concluded his damp mood.  "Hey!?  What was that for?"  

"You obviously weren't trying hard enough to convince her is all!"  Dia snapped.  "Why don't you just skip the convincing and just drop my tear somewhere?"  Finn clutched her hand tightly.

"I don't want them to see you as a monster, Dia...I want them to see your beauty first hand, unclouded by fear or judgement...just like I did!"  Finn said with a cheesy grin.  It prompted the Goddess to stew in anger for a bit, before pouting to the side.

"Hmph.  A proper response from my watchdog."  She touted.

"Oh!  There was something I wanted to ask you, for once!"  Finn spoke with enthused curiosity.  "They told me a watchdog made this pool...one of your old watchdogs!  I thought I was your first since I haven't met any others....what were they like?"  He prodded the deity.  

Edited by Mr. Hyde

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