Three On A Match
-- : Third on a match. Meaning: bad luck.

Amazing Night
Northrop Botanical Gardens 

Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Open thread for the Labyrinth event! Big Grin

Jules straightened his coat as he stepped out the car. His skin looked a little thin, wrinkles more visible and veins pressed against the flesh tight, but he was still a ways from needing to ground himself. He just looked a bit older than normal, which meant nothing to him really, and the driver asked if he needed any help as the old man seemed at something of a loss of where to go next. He waved the driver off and stepped forward toward the gardens.

He actually didn't particularly know where he was going. He had been in a bit of a state the night before, and apart from trashing his living room for some reason he also wrote down two words on his wall. Maze and Beltane. These little bouts of hysteria and madness were inconvenient but a relatively small price to pay for functional immortality.

As he moved through the area he spied several people but nothing of any import to him. He worked he way by people and stalls for anything that would make this place so important as to write the names down even while in the grip of insanity. Could it have been the people? Certainly there were a fair few but if he had intentions on stealing away their souls he would need a good deal of effort first to accomplish it. Was it a note to try doing just that in a few decades? Jules doubted that as he tended to not think that far ahead, it was all well and good to say you wanted to do that but actually seeing it through was tedious and he couldn't say for sure if he wouldn't lose interest in the project in five or six years or just completely forget about it.

Was that it? Had he already set things up and then forgotten? Unlikely.

Just looking around Jules was sure if he were to have a hand in the festival the standards of decorations and events would have a touch more class.

As he began wandering the hedge maze he waved off any torch or light. Instead he just focused a bit on his eyes. The optical organ was a marvel but no less immune from Jules' fine senses or control than any of his body. The pupil went wide until it almost eclipsed the iris. Taking in every scrap of light and feeding it to Jules so that he could see in the dark. A normal eye would be damaged by this but Jules hardly cared. It wasn't as if he had eyes when he was just a walking skeleton and he saw fine then too. His eyes were just trying to adjust to what the necrotic energies that animated him, that were him, already did. Pacing through the maze he wondered again.

What was so interesting about this place that it would draw him from his home this night.
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Cinder (skill check) complete success

Spring was on its way and Algy could feel the potential, everything warmer and thriving after the winter despite the nip in the air. The cold evening mattered little for a dragon as Algy had his own heat to keep him warm, comfortable with his worn and well-used bomber jacket. It was dark all around, but the dragon felt comfortable, where a human might've felt that prehistoric fear of the unknown in the dark. He could sense the flames dotted around him, the flaring potential of power clinging to their fuel sources.

Algy had missed the day of Beltane, never an observer of such things, but he knew the significance and magic attached to the day. Knew how much meaning others put into it. He respected such beliefs and enjoyed its results, the spring festival a relaxed excuse to have some fun as the weather warmed, to revel in a shared history of humanity.

He'd begun his evening circling the pools of light and gathered humans, carefully drinking his way through the drinks on offer. Eventually, Algy had found himself at the mouth of the labyrinth, a brightly coloured red and orange cocktail in hand, someone offering him a torch and the customary comment about taking care with spirits and the fey-born. Algy, very used to going with the flow and taking the little hints when they came, figured there was something more going on, but precisely what was impossible to tell.

As the only logical next step, Algy had entered the maze and went a-wandering. Passing underneath the Fuschia and trailing leaves felt like power shivering up his spine, a warning Algy did not need as he took a left turn. Soon he discovered that the twists and turns made it easy to get lost. The lack of a logical path turned Algy around so thoroughly that he may have been worried if he hadn't had wings to fly out. The drink running through his system made it all the worse. Perhaps he would've been able to keep track of his path if he'd passed on his third cocktail.

Torch in one hand and cocktail in the other, the dragon breathed out a slow stream of smoke. Living fire in his hand and a fire in his belly, Algy felt relaxed. He was so relaxed that he did not feel startled as he turned a corner in the maze and spotted the dark outline of someone ahead in the torchlight. Someone else lost in the labyrinth, Algy supposed, especially if they'd skipped a torch to see by.

“Hail, stranger,” Algy offered, voice wryly amused at this little run-in.
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules wandered the maze, one hand stretched out as his fingers trailed the edge of the hedge. The leaves and sticks scratching against his skin with a mix of bark and leaf. The sensations between one and the next distinct to him. The smells of the earth and the plants, the night air, the faint laughter of people enjoying the more well lit side of the festivities. Then two words that stopped Jules in his tracks.

Hail, stranger.

Jules turned around but he wasn't in a maze anymore. For him it was the fast settling dusk on an old road. An english man road toward him, the talbard over his chest emblazoned with a angry red cross. The lich narrowed his eyes at the symbol and felt his lip raise involuntarily. The rider had a free hand on a torch raised high up and his long beard was well groomed. He looked regal and pompous in his righteousness. The lich lifted up a thin bony hand and splayed his fingers to call upon his servants.

But nothing happened.

Jules looked at his hand again to see flesh on his fingers and hand. Flesh, a watch, the coat he'd dressed in. His eyes drifted back toward the man with the torch but he saw neither cross nor beard. No horse or sword. Ah... yes of course. He'd been remembering something. Jules lifted his hand a bit higher and covered his face with the shadow of his hand, his eyes adjusting again to the new light as his pupil's retracted. This man with a torch was younger looking and carrying a drink. Jules gave him a friendly smile that didn't reach his eyes.

"Hello there. I may have gotten a bit lost." Jules said, sounding friendly if just a little confused.
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
It took a moment, Algy watching the man in the darkness take his time to respond, but the dragon was patient. Something strange was going on with the expression on the man's face in the dim torchlight, but Algy wasn't quite able to read them in the dark. The raised hand was curious, but after a brief stutter, it went higher, shielding his eyes from the torch's light. A typical gesture, possibly the shock of something bright after walking around in the dark for so long, the pupils sensitive after expanding to take in the night.

There was something curious about the man, but as he spoke, Algy pushed it aside, focusing instead on the fissure of confusion. He assumed it was simply from being disorienting, considering he had been wandering in the dark until Algy had come across him.

“It's the name of the game,” Algy joked, swinging the torch to the side and holding it away from the man, shifting his drink to hold it by the edge with that same hand, out of the way. “And we've got something in common. I'm Algy–” the dragon held out his hand, offering a handshake, “–and a bit lost.”

He laughed brightly, unbothered at the prospect and hoping his relaxed manner would ease the other man's confusion, relax those tense shoulders. A little bit jumpy in the maze, maybe.
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
The man before Jules seemed out of place and yet comfortable in a way that Jules had trouble placing. The lich tilted his head a bit in a somewhat sudden jerk that while not exceeding anything natural still seemed... odd. Stepping forward toward the light as the man with the torch spoke to him, Jules slowly lowered his hand and took the other man in. Nothing about him instantly sang to the lich like some others did. He looked to have an adequate skeletal and muscular structure, his skin seemed healthy enough, but nothing instantly rang to Jules that some part had more value than any other. The lich had a habit of classifying people in terms of value to him. He was a business man by nature and it wasn't an uncommon mentality even if it wasn't in a conventional sense.

This of course didn't mean that he thought this man, this Algy, had no value. Rather the man possessed something else. A certain je ne sais quoi that seemed to draw in the Lich toward him. Maybe it was the memory he had invoked or the influence of the maze. The exact details were difficult to pin point. Regardless, the Lich gave a friendly small smile to the torchbearer.

"Yes... I suppose its not uncommon in a maze. Have you been wandering for long?" Jules asked.

Maybe it was Algy's voice... it certainly had reminded him of whoever was in that memory. As the lich neared the other man he tucked his hands under his armpits and hunched his back a little bit. With his age it made it seem like maybe he was a bit cold after wandering in the dark. He wasn't cold. Or at least didn't concern himself with feeling cold. Jules' body temperature had stopped being something he worried about hundreds of years ago.
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
The offer of a handshake went ignored, the man's hands tucking under his armpits instead. The night wasn't so chilly, was it? He was an older human, possibly more sensitive to the chill. Algy wasn't all that good at judging how cold a human might find it, preternaturally warm whatever the weather.

Perhaps the man's age, disorientation, and the cold were factors in why the man offered no name in return. Despite all the reasons, the dragon interpreted it as a cold welcome to his friendliness. An incomplete exchange that left Algy with nothing to call the man by. Alas, there was nothing to it, so the Welshman ignored it, well used to dealing with all manner of individuals.

Algy dropped the handshake, taking his drink from his other hand so he could readjust his grip on the torch. “Oh, twenty, fifteen minutes or so? Roundabout there. Not too long.” Or he thought it had been around there. It was always tricky to tell when it was dark. “And you, sir?”

After asking, Algy downed the last of his drink before tucking the plastic cup away in his pocket.
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules looked around them slowly as he seemed to think, the lines of his face deepening somewhat as he pondered. Algy, nice fellow that he seemed had only been wandering for twenty minutes give or take. Jules hadn't been in the maze much longer himself but didn't feel like he should share that. What was it about this place that was drawing him, that question annoyed him to no end and made him want to discover it or burn the whole maze down so it stopped skittering over his brain. He looked back over to Algy. The lich's expression hadn't changed from that sense of worried confusion as he tucked his hands a bit tighter into his arms and gave a small shiver.

Shivers were easy when you were dead. Just a small series of light contractions of different muscles groups. When you were alive it took outside stimuli to make such a ripple of motion. The dead were more disconnected from such things and for Jules twitching those muscles in order was like plucking his long fingers against a harp cord. Simple and effective.

He looked at Algy and answered. "At least thirty minutes... no more than an hour or two I think. I- I want to go to the center." Jules said.

He seemed small when he spoke, like he was afraid of the other man's reaction to his words. He was an older gentleman wandering the maze without even a torch and unable to say if he'd been there for minutes or hours. All he knew for sure was the wanted to go toward the center. That was the part the Lich was playing... the fact that he was a bit confused did little but help sell the overall charade.
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
The longer Algy watched the man, the more concerned he grew. Signs of confusion and disorientation were warnings of something worse. Algy had seen plenty of his friends suffer the effects of dementia, enough not to take it lightly.

“Ah, Sir, the centre? Mightn't it be better if we found our way out of the maze?” Algy suggested gently, brows furrowing with his concern. He wondered if the man had come alone or had company, but they were nowhere around if he did. “We could find a tour for you, rather than wandering in the cold.”

It seemed odd to go without light, especially as the night's chill set in. The torch didn't offer much heat, and the man didn't have anything. Algy had to wonder if he hadn't been here since before the evening light had faded.
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules looked at the man speaking to him, holding his little torch and trying to push back the night with simple flame. "Je n'ai pas besoin d'un groupe de touristes." (I don't need a tour group.) he muttered in French. His tone was mildly annoyed, though if this torchbearer didn't speak a proper language like old French that might well have been lost on him. In English, his French accent well and subdued, Jules added. "Is it cold? I barely noticed." He looked cold, but he wasn't. Or rather he always was, maintaining a constant raised body temperature was just a waste of time and energy. It wasn't as if he actually needed it to persist. Even his skin, eyes, and motions were mostly a façade for others.

Well... they helped keep him in the here and now as well. He had a tendency to lose himself to his work otherwise.

Jules looked back into the darkness, forcing his pupils to dilate again to take in the darker path of the maze. It wasn't as effective with the light of the torch behind him and made the edges of his vision blur with the influx of light his eyes were absorbing. He forced his eyes to contract and considered sneering, but the man was behind him and that was a waste of energy much like maintaining a higher body heat.

"I need to get to the center... There was- is- something there. I don't know what." He said, not really able to explain why he thought what he wanted would be at the center.

This would be all so much easier if he'd left a proper note while having his episode the prior evening. At this point it was almost insulting that he hadn't had the wherewithal to leave a damn letter to himself at the very least. He did so hope he had the sense of proper manners to do better the next time he slipped into madness.
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
As luck would have it, Algy did speak French. He also picked up loud and clear that the man was annoyed at the suggestion of caution. The dragon thought he recognised the signs of Middle French in the short sentence the man said. It was understandable, if archaic. Curious, though, and an indication of something more going on. No one casually spoke Middle French these days, however much intelligible it was for modern French speakers.

That little curiosity was enough to have Algy give in to indulging the man, even if he still wasn't entirely confident in its wisdom. Sometimes there were things worth a risk, and Algy's risk assessment for this came out as negligible.

Offering a quick and cheerful, “D'accord,” Algy's accent near-perfect with years of using it, he leaned to the side to peer down the same path in the maze the man was. “I was planning on trying to find the centre myself. Do you mind the company?”
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules was still looking cold and a bit confused when he heard the man with the torch, Algy he had called himself, spoke a bit of light French. The lich looked back at the man and then forced his undead facial muscles to twitch out a small smile. That small courtesy was worth the bit of effort. Jules so did miss a more civilized tongue. French was like spoke cursive, or a verbal expression of a conductor's hand gestures as they led a symphony. English was like three angry children dressed in a trench coat trying to pass themselves off as a credible language. It could be worse, but it would take several liters of alcohol and the aid of an Egyptian 'scholar' as far as Jules' was concerned.

Where was he? Ah yes, The man was offering to travel with Jules into the maze and help him find the center. Rather decent of the man.

"As long as you are willing to bring the light I should be happy of the company." Jules said. As he spoke he forced the smallest tremor through the muscles of his jaw that caused a small shake in his voice. A classic sign of the cold creeping into the body, or a small parlor trick for the undying Frenchman.

"You said your name was Algy? I am Jules." he said, identifying himself.
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
The dragon noted the slight smile, finding some life in the man. The little shake to the man's voice was another sign that it was possibly a bad idea, but Algy had already given in. If the man got worse, Algy would be there for a quick extraction.

“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Jules,” Algy offered, glad to have a name to the face now. There was no offered hand, so Algy kept his to himself. “We'll have the light. I'm not likely to lose it. Shall we?”

Algy indicated the other branch of the turning they'd collided in, the third that Algy had not chosen to walk down when he'd turned onto the pathway he'd encountered Jules on. Neither of them had explored it, so the centre was more likely to be thataway. Although, in a maze, such a thought was hardly reliable.

Regardless, Algy took a few steps in that direction, holding the torch up high. There was a shriek in the distance, followed by laughter, so there was someone nearby having fun with the whole endeavour. Less obsessive than the man Algy had encountered.
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules gave a slow nod as Algy agreed to walk with him, providing the torch for their walk. To be perfectly honest Jules would have just as soon left the stick of fire behind but that would have been more suspicious than anything else. So Jules kept his arms huddled about him as he walked beside Algy.

It was tedious. Constantly adjusting his eyes to match the optimal view of a flickering light. The human body took time to adjust the pupil, Jules did not, but he became aware of how taxed the eye must have felt from all the sudden small changes. He was unwilling to throw away the advantage of controlling his own sight but it did make he miss being just a skeleton.

He could see fine as a skeleton just as he could talk fine as one. The necromantic energies that both falsified his living form could make up for such trivialities as well. Truly if it wouldn't alarm so many people Jules would be freed of the skin suit he wore every day.

He heard the laughter not far off.

"It seems some people enjoy being lost." he mumbled a touch of sulk in his voice.
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Unaware of the man's feelings about the light, Algy forged on. He let the path guide him, carefully keeping his eyes out for signs of someone having passed by and any indication that they were nearing the centre. He thought maybe the curve of the hedge, more pronounced the closer to the centre they got, would give it away, but it was far too difficult to follow in the dark.

The sulky little comment from the man had Algy glancing his way, huffing a brief laugh. He didn't begrudge the youth their fun, probably getting up to no good. There was a sort of attraction to being lost with someone.

Of course, a friend or a lover, not a shivery stranger insistent on going to the centre.

“It has a certain charm, doesn't it?” Algy offered, not hiding his amusement. “I suspect they are enjoying the adrenaline rush of frightening each other. Ah, to be young again.”
Third on the Match Offline
Wandering Spirit
DC 3
Intent: Cautious, friendly
Keywords: Plants, Illusion, Empathy
Cinder 7d6
Strike 4d6
Luck 4
There are more than just human laughter and giggles in the maze. Ahead of the two men, a little girl giggles, her ghostly form skipping over their path, turning a corner to disappear out of sight. Her giggling continues, the illusion of flower petals following in her wake. Should she be followed, on the spots where her feet have touched the ground, flowers have bloomed: bluebells and daisies.

Further, along the winding paths of the hedgerows, the wandering spirit can be found in a small grove, surrounded by hawthorn and wildflowers, twirling around, her old-fashioned skirt flaring out around her. As she solidifies and becomes less washed out, her hair is a strawberry blonde, her dress white cloth and lace. When she spots the interlopers, she'll stumble to a halt, gasp and hide behind a tree, the trail of flowers and petals following her.
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules smirked as he rubbed his arms uselessly against himself as if trying to keep warm. He glanced over at Algy and gave an expression somewhere between a sneer and a smirk. "You talk like you're already over the hill yourself young man." the lich commented. Then he looked back down the path. Fun frightening each other, such odd pass times. Jules found no value in fear, or hate, or love, or anything that wasn't simply progress.

The old undead felt it before the spirit manifested.

Cold against his very bones giving him a direction to focus on when a small form flashed into view and then out against as it rounded a corner. The giggle in the air like chimes in a breeze. Jules focused in on where he last saw the spirit like a cat readying itself to strike.

"Over there." Jules said, indicating the direction.

As they rounded the corner a young lass slowly brought herself into focus. She seemed hesitant toward the two man, which frankly was silly. Algy seemed like a perfectly fine person.

As for Jules, he slowly smiled toward the girl. it was a friendly and kind smile that reached his eyes and almost seemed like the welcome of a grandfather. He worked hard to move all the muscles in his face to match that just right. Internally he was already building the spell he would need... to bind this little spirit.

"Are you lost little miss?" he said with a voice of equal parts charm and concern.
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Spirit Cinder (Empathy), complete success
Cinder (skill check) exceptional success
Cantrip (Air)
Spirit Cinder (Plants), complete success

The dragon chuckled at the man's observation, knowing that the conversational branch would be all too revealing if they ventured to discuss ages and experiences. He thought even the age he appeared to be, somewhere in his forties, allowed him to consider himself old compared to today's youth. Although perhaps the observation itself was odd for these modern times, it appeared age marched forward a little slower, at least mentally. All these twenty-somethings with no idea what to do with themselves and such.

But with a childlike giggle coming from up ahead, Algy's mind turned to other things. He missed the glimpse of the spirit, finding Jules' interest odd. Should they not let the youth be? Unless the older man had some mischief in mind, but the man had seemed so absent-minded and confused that Algy found that hard to believe. Still, he followed, soon enough catching a glimpse of the spectral figure and the spots of blooming flowers she left in her wake.

With a curious and delighted hum, Algy bent down and plucked one of these blooms as Jules walked ahead, straightening to spin the dainty bluebell between his fingers. With the flower in hand, Algy followed Jules, pace relaxed and attitude unbothered by their spectral encounter. He couldn't tell if Jules realised what they were following.

As they entered the grove, the air fragrant with the scent of wildflowers and fauna, Algy had the impression Jules wasn't aware, with how he approached the spirit like a lost child. However, the spirit didn't respond well to the question, sensing something in the old man. Perhaps a lack of something. She recoiled, running a short distance to another tree, hiding behind it.

Algy, completely unaware, stood behind Jules and twisted his fingers subtly as he spoke, “What's a little lass doing out in a maze in the dark?” He said it with amusement, knowing fully what she was.

A gust of wind caught the floating petals and loose grass, flowing with Algy's gestures, catching the bluebell in his fingers and elegantly weaving through the air, around trees and branches, to tickle the spirit and offer the bluebell to her. A giggle and the spirit was chased from her hiding spot by the gust of wind, petals swirling in her wake like a spring storm, but her cheer was back, dainty hand gripping the bluebell. Algy thought they were dealing with a playful ghost rather than a wrathful one and knew they enjoyed a little play even if they'd be banished like fog in the daylight once it came.

With a strange organic creak, popping like forced rhubarb, a variety of plants erupted at Algy's feet, a playful vine snaking around his calf to root him to the spot. The girl giggled as she ran, circling them in the clearing. Algy laughed, bending down to try to pry the vine off his leg.

Social encounter, 3/4
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules Necromancy Roll: 6d6
2 passes = partial failure

The little spirit moved back from Jules, it seemed shy and made some distance. Distance wasn't good, it wasn't terrible but the binding would be easier if it was closer. Algy seemed to find it amusing, likely because he didn't have to worry about complexities like contested will with the dearly departed or the optimum distance to enforce a binding without giving a ghost time to flee. Jules considered trying to just lock the spirit to the world for a few moments, it would make it all easier, but also make the spirit more likely to run. No surprise was his ally here to see if he could just trap the spirit in one go.

Yet as Jules considered all of this a light breeze began to waft through the maze. It took flowers and made them twirl in unnatural patterns. Jules glanced back at Algy to see the man's hands still moving. Jules hadn't moved his facial muscles again and maintained his friendly smile he had made for the little ghost. Turning back to the spirit he saw it looking more comfortable as it began to prance around them. A vine began to grow from the ground as slowly circle Algy's foot.

"So, you can control plants?" Jules said, an amused edge to his voice.

He lashed out with his hand when the spirit was near him in its dance. There was an unseen force, it cut into the wind with a kind of bone deep cold and rushed toward the little spirit. The girl seemed to sense it just before it could land and vanished from sight.

She reformed some ways off looking equal measures scared and angry at whatever it was that Jules had done. For his own part the older man seemed slightly thinner than before, the skin on his hands more pale and tight against his ligaments and bones. The features of his face sharper than before. His expression fell as he saw his attempt to bind the spirit failed. The necromantic energy slowly pulled back toward him and his pallor recovered somewhat. "No need to be so scared." he muttered at the little ghost. It was already dead after all.

Jules magic uses until Grounding, 1/3
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Strike (skill check) complete success
Spirit Cinder (empathy) Partial failure

Busy prying off the vine without damaging it, Algy missed much of the exchange. He had, of course, heard the comment confirming that Jules wasn't a stranger to magic. He had also seen Jules' stiff smile when Algy's hands had been moving as he followed the wind, but the dragon didn't think much of it. Waving his hands about could be explained away with enough insistence.

Once he freed himself, Algy looked up in time to see the ghost's reaction, but not what had caused it. Furrowing his brows, Algy peered at Jules, spotting the man looked particularly sallow for a moment before his skin seemed to return to normal. It was difficult not to put some pieces together of the puzzle, but a significant portion was still missing before he could put a full picture together. Perhaps Algy misjudged the spirit. Perhaps Algy misjudged the old man.

When the man muttered, a reassurance that did not seem to reassure the spirit, Algy wondered about the man. He looked to the spirit, but she remained at a distance, an expression of frightened anger fixed on her face. Not disappearing entirely, but not approaching them. So much for Algy's playful little overture.

But the dragon was suspicious now, having seen enough that things were not as they seemed. In what way, it was hard to tell.

“Now then,” Algy murmured, voice low, falsely pleasant as he stepped out from the little patch of newly grown vegetation, the vine having loosened around his leg. “She doesn't seem to like you much. Why might that be?”

Social encounter, 3/4
Combat encounter, 4/4
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules tilted his head, annoyed with the spirit that seemed to be very warry of him now.

He was fast, his body didn't tire and he had perfect control of his muscles so there was never any wasted movement, but to catch a ghost was another matter entirely. If she decided to not be here then she simply wouldn't be. He could track her well enough but would have no guarantee of binding the little brat. While he was considering what to do Algy mumbled behind him in a very pleasant tone... asking why she didn't seem to like him.

Jules' reminded himself to keep the small false movements that implied life about himself. He glanced back at his companion and gave a thin worn smile. "Children never know what is good for them." he said, like a parent remembering his own.

Jules did too. He remembered all... well he remembered most, of the ghosts he had trapped in his long life. They were all suffering much the same afflictions. Fading over and over again and losing bits of themselves. Reliving their tragedies like some sick performance. Acting out like animals after losing too much of themselves. Binding them to his magic, his will, it was a mercy for these poor dumb beasts. It kept them from fading further, gave them a driving purpose and a will. It was Jules' will but an existence of servitude was far better than one of shallow suffering.

The old Lich looked back at the little girl.

"How do you think she died."

Magic 1/3
Luck 6/6
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Strike (skill check) exceptional success

Algy narrowed his eyes at the other's response, finding it peculiar and speaking of an attitude that he disagreed with fundamentally. And an old-fashioned one, but that didn't surprise him with how old the man looked. Perhaps older, with the way the little oddities were shining through the veneer, but humans could also be pretty odd.

Shaking his head a little, Algy had no words to offer. Spirits were not always static. Sometimes they evolved, re-learned themselves or found a new self in their eternal existence. Ghost children could still live an existence that aged them and gave them wisdom beyond human understanding, even if it didn't appear so—eternal youth in death.

The question was morbid but something Algy often asked himself when he encountered spirits, violent or peaceful, so he had no issue with answering it.

“She seems at peace,” Algy murmured, thoughtful as he stepped towards one of the trees, recognising the Hawthorne and recalling the importance of it for Beltane. Was she here because of the old celebration? “But she has a closeness with nature, the flowers. Maybe an unfortunate soul lost in the woods, exposure or hunger ending her life before her time.”

Algy found himself midway between Jules and where the ghost suspiciously hovered, standing beneath one of the flowering Hawthorne. Gently, Algy began pruning the branches of the Hawthrone, finding his pocket knife and gathering the branches without damaging the trees. Perhaps the spirit needed some help to find her way back, as much as she seemed to enjoy the gardens. It would be safer for her to go beyond again.

The branch with the most flowers on was the one he offered out to her, waggling it with a charming grin towards her. Shyly, she began stepping closer, the flowering footsteps erupting in her wake.

Social encounter, 2/4
Combat encounter, 4/4
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
She did seem at peace. Jules watched her then turned to look back at Algy. He took in the man and picked his words very very carefully.

"Do you know why a choir is beautiful?" he asked.

The old man was still barely moving.

"It is because of its size. The strong voices cover the weak and the weak voices give it depth." he explained. He had a kind of whimsical touch to his voice that made it seem like he was far away in his own thoughts.

"There are few professional singers in mass but the hymns are always so beautiful." he said.

His eyes seemed to gain focus suddenly and his voice became much colder. [Collr=palegreen]"The child does seem at peace. That peace could help many others."[/color] he said.

There was a new edge falling in his shoulders and into his stance.

Magic 1/3
Luck 6/6
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Spirit Cinder (empathy) exceptional success
Cinder (Fire) complete success

The man continued his peculiar behaviour as Algy held out the Hawthorn branch, and the little spirit girl stretched out to take it in her dainty hands. Algy tucked his pocket knife back where it'd come, noting how the spirit was watching Jules, her eyes cautious and sharp. She'd decided Algy was not a threat, but the way the little girl had been skittish around Jules told the dragon that she was picking up something he wasn't, even if he'd spotted the man wasn't quite right.

The white blooms of the Hawthorn were bright in the moonlight, glowing in the spirit's hands, whose form was vaguely transparent. Even as Jules said his ominous line, Algy took in calmly how the other man's body language changed. The words were the cold justifications of necromancers and dark magic, which gave Algy some insight into what he might be dealing with.

But a century of being under fire meant he remained calm, instead looking to the spirit. He spoke as he wiggled his fingers and summoned fire, forming the flowing shape of a dragon in flight to sail around the spirit and light the surroundings in a warm orange glow.

“To refuse the dead their peace is selfish and self-serving,” the dragon pointed out, cutting a glance at the other man, eyes narrowed. “To refuse the natural end of someone's spirit is an abomination.”

And necromancy was most foul.

Meanwhile, the spirit giggled, the sound echoing as her eyes followed the flaming dragon as it circled her and dived.

To Bloodrush: 1/4
Social encounter: 1/4
Combat encounter: 4/4
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules Strike: 6d6
5 passes vs 3 Defense

This was growing tiresome... Jules could not explain to someone the beauty in a medium that person refused to even look at. The choir Jules once conducted housed the souls of the hundred years war, or the lost of famine, of the dead of crusades...

The crusades...

Algy spoke of natural end and the abomination of one's spirit.

Jules did not hear him.

Jules heard the voice of a young man many years gone now. A man wearing leathers and sporting a long cloth and brazen cross over his chest. He had said something similar.

Jules saw himself not in a dark botanical Maze but in a cave, the light equally dim. That young man had also carried a torch.

Jules became still, staring at Algy... then his skin seemed to receed. It grew tight against him then tighter still until it was thin to the point of tearing. A second later it seemed like cobwebs and bone was quickly exposed to the world.

Bones as black as pitch.

Jules skeleton was black as tar, with carved runes all through it that had been filled with different colored metals. Only his teeth, all false and bright white, shone.

"Tu viens dans ma maison en répandant tes sales mensonges... Tu apportes ta lumière dans ma tombe... Je vais t'arracher cette croix et te la fourrer dans les tripes, espèce d'hypocrite dégoûtant." came a rasping voice like a death rattle from between the skeletons teeth.

Jules was well and lost within his delusion now.

When he did move it was fast. Kicking off from the ground and rushing who he precerieved as an invading crusader. Jules reached out his boney hand like a talon, intent on tearing the pious knight's throat out.

Even if he was attacking someone else entirely.

1/3 Magic
6/6 Luck

The attack is just an attempt and I leave the little spirit up to your control because it seems like she is more likely to side with Algy than Jules :])
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Algy Strike (Heightened Strength) 4 passes vs. DC4, hit
Spirit Cinder (Plants) Complete success

Algy's glance caught the old man in an odd mood, but his attention was on the spirit when the man began speaking in French. The way the spirit recoiled from the twirling dragons a moment before was enough warning for Algy to spin around. He was only fast enough to face his attacker when the man–an undead of some kind, he realised, with that reference to a grave or a tomb–lunged.

The frightful speed only helped confirm Algy's theory, the sight of the corpselike hand, all bone and stretched skin, adding more evidence to the pile. Algy barely avoided the blow, skeletal hand managing to scratch at his throat, the sting a sobering feeling of how close that had been. On instinct, Algy brought his arm up to try to slam his elbow into the side of Jules' head with a grunt, ducking to the side, knowing it was in his interest to get out of the way in case he hadn't connected as solidly as he'd wanted to.

The dragon had some help, the spirit throwing up her hands to summon more of her plants, thick roots shooting up to curl around the undead's feet to root him in place. Algy appreciated the attempt at allowing him to get some distance, even if he hoped the spirit didn't end up regretting it with how the man had been so preoccupied with her.

Algy Luck 4/5
Bloodrush 1/4
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Cinder Necromancy: 6d6
1 pass = Failure

Jules nails skimmed the edge of the man's neck. An inch farther in and there would be blood seeping from his neck. Another inch past that and his lifeblood would be all spilt in a couple minutes. The skeleton landed and flicked its hand as if something filthy had touched it, but before he could make his next move the ground rumbled slightly and the holy warrior had struck the skeleton in the head. The lich's boney head tilted harshly to the side, his spine bending unnaturally from the angle.

Then the lich threw out an arm without bothering to full straighten himself. Reaching out again, this time for the soft meat of the stomach. However the motion came up short as plants began wreathing themselves around the skeletons legs. The tight grasp of the vines showed that even the skin beneath his suit had decicated past any real support... yet still the bones moved. Looking at the plants, confused but with no facial muscles to show it, the Lich began directing cold energy down into the walls of the cave he lived in.

Except he wasn't in a cave and though his magic strived to obey it simply wasn't able to considering the reality around himself. It fizzled with its vague delusional direction and the very real opposition of the small spirit's willpower. The skeleton looked up at the man it saw as a Knight of Faith and spoke with spite and vitriol.

L'agneau est perdu pour les sauvages de l'homme. Votre cause ne sert à rien.

Magic 0/3
Luck 5/6
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Cinder (Air) Exceptional success
Spirit Cinder (Empathy) Partial failure

The blow hadn't had much effect in neutralising the undying, who had turned into an animated corpse of desiccated flesh and bone. Insane, at least, as it howled in Old French about nothing that made much sense to Algy. Thankfully, Algy had an opportunity to gather his wits with the spirit girl hobbling the ghoulish being. A moment to strategise, even as he saw the ghoul attempt something. The dragon braced for the magic to hit him but was relieved when it seemed to fizzle and die out. Was it the spirit?

But Algy had to think of how to deal with this. Simple physical blows would only slow an undead. From experience, Algy knew one had to lop off limbs and cripple them to slow them down, even if it would not kill them. But he had no convenient blades, and fire only toasted them. Perhaps if he used the wind he had at his fingertips, but even then, Algy wasn't confident he could take a limb off with it.

Seeing no other course of action and knowing he'd only wear himself out trying to pummel the creature, Algy moved his hand to summon the wind with far more force than before when he'd simply been playing with the spirit. He felt the spirit at his shoulder, her hand gripping his arm, the feeling of something brushing his consciousness as she attempted something else, but it went nowhere. Instead, Algy pushed more of himself into what he was trying, bringing a gale's worth of wind and pressure slammed down over the undead creature to pin it along with the vines holding it down.

“Come with me,” the dragon murmured, thinking of the spirit and himself and knowing he didn't think he could permanently entomb the undying with what he had available.

Luck 4/5
Bloodrush 2/4
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Jules Strike 6d6
1 pass = failure

The vines wrapped tighter and tighter around the skeleton, creating the lines of his suit. The old bones looked down in a moment of confusion before starting to tear at them to rid itself of the accursed binding. When the skull glanced back up the hospitiler was before him with... someone.

It didn't matter, it didn't match with what he remembered.

Then came a howling gust of wind. Jules leaned I to it to push against the gust, the vines helping him for a moment before they snapped away. The bones of the lich seemed to go loose for a second, spreading an inch or so away from each other as if to be blown asunder, before closing together again.

The old monster seemed to lack the strength to push through the wind with his light body. Instead the undying leaned forward until it was near laying on the ground, crouched low on all fours. It's jawbone began to waggle as words poured from its mouth.

"ʍօɨ, ʊռ ʄɨɛʀ ֆǟɢɛ ɖɛ ʟǟ ʍօʀȶ, ʝ'օʀɖօռռɛ à ʟǟ ֆǟʟɛȶé, à ʟǟ ƈɛռɖʀɛ ɛȶ à ʟ'ǟɨʀ ɖɛ քʟɨɛʀ ʟɛ ɢɛռօʊ ɖɛʋǟռȶ ʍօɨ -"

It's voice seemed to reverberate as if echoing through a hallway. Even as it spoke, the skeleton reached a hand forward and dug It's black bone fingers into the dirt. In a vicious motion it dug out a furrow shaped like a circle... a ritual circle.

Ritual Prep 1/3

Magic 0/3
Luck 4/6
Algy Trevelyan Offline
Zmey Gorianin Half-Blood
Cinder (Flying) Exceptional success
Cinder (skill check) Partial failure

The undead ghoul struggled under the force of the gale, the delaying tactic working better than Algy had hoped. But not for long, noticing the former man begin scratching into the ground, forming shapes Algy knew to be ritualistic markings. Dangerous for the undead to do, but just as dangerous for him. More reason to extricate himself as soon as possible, leave the undead wandering in the maze. Perhaps he would find someone to sate the hunger, but that was the risk of existing in a dangerous world.

The dragon took his chance then, the magic surging through his blood rising to the occasion. Pulling his jacket off quickly, he gripped it tightly as his wing nubs ached, and then they grew out all at once. His wings stretched out around him, larger than they needed for his human body, glimpses of blood red in the torchlight from the fallen torch, the fire benignly resting on the paving stones in the little courtyard.

With the gale roaring, casting out gusts of wind that threatened to catch his wings and lift him, he reached out to the spirit, trying to take her hand. But his hands went through hers, gripping onto nothing as she gave him a sombre expression. She remained silent but touched his hand in defiance of his inability to do so and pulled away. Realising that he could not pull her with him, Algy let the winds pull him up and away. He saw her edges go blurry, but the dragon twisted in the air to gain height, beginning to circle the sky over the maze. Could he see someone he'd need to warn? Not at the moment. Hopefully, the daylight would come before the undying found someone to feed on.

Twisting in the air, Algy gracefully glided through the air, leaving the maze behind and the danger held within. He'd have to warn the local Exchange, but he wasn't sure if there'd be much for them to find.

Algy leaves the Encounter
Third on the Match Offline
When Algy checks his jacket pocket after landing safely, he finds a seed of a Casa Blanca Lily that will bloom at night. It will emit a calming, happy feeling in the room it's in and bloom with a constancy that is simply magical.

When Jules gathers his wits, the spirit has long since faded after getting the last bit of kindness she needed to depart the world. He will find the sharp Rose Thorn (Superb Component) left behind on the spot she stood when Algy left.
Jules Durand Offline
Lich Undying
Cinder Impossible Necromancy Roll 6d6

Jules hunkered down against the wind, his other hand lashing forward over and over again. Each hand drew different symbols of power that crisscrossed the circle in sharp angles and lines looped in fanciful elegant swooping curling runes. It only took a few seconds. He'd done runes for so long drawing them was second nature, the thing missing were components but his home was full of them. He simply selected the fragmented bone dust that made up the floor, five bodies worth of bones was a small thing for him to give up... only Jules was not in his cave. There were no bones at his feet... there were no components.

"զʊɛ ʟǟ ȶɛʀʀɛ ֆɛ ɮʀɨֆɛ, զʊɛ ʟɛֆ ȶօʍɮɛֆ ֆ'օʊʋʀɛռȶ, ʋɛռɛʐ ʟɛֆ ɛռʄǟռȶֆ ɛȶ քʀɛռɛʐ ƈɛ ƈɦɛʋǟʟɨɛʀ. ʄǟɨȶɛֆ-ʟɛ ɢʟɨֆֆɛʀ ɖǟռֆ ʋօֆ ʍǟɨֆօռֆ ʄʀօɨɖɛֆ. ʄǟɨȶɛֆ-ʟʊɨ ʊռɛ ʋօɨӼ ɖǟռֆ ʟǟ ƈɦօʀǟʟɛ!"

Jules slammed his claw like boney hand into the circle, expecting the human blood built up under his nails to serve as activation... only he hadn't been steeping in human blood in a long time. Only the thick black ichor his body produced lay under his cracked nails that split as he dragged them through his circle. The lich's magic dug deep into the edges of the circle and ran the lines searching for the choir the undying called. The Choir that had gone so silent since his long rest and eventual reawakening.

No spirits answered his necromancy, no components balanced his ritual, no mortal blood restrained the magic. The circle didn't break- it shattered. The earth under the lich cracked in a sudden shock as the necromancy rebounded back at him sending a small fissure of lines through his old bones. The plants around him withered and lost their color as they died. The thread of his clothes frayed at the stress of the arcane energies. All while his intended target fled in the skies safe from the madness of the French Lich.

As the cascading power submerged the lich the power filled in and shook what passed for consciousness in the dammed monster. Jules slowly raised his head and saw no one... just an empty shredded and dead hedge maze. The lich stood slowly and looked at himself. He felt weak, no that wasn't the right phrase. He could exert all the power he had just moments ago and he knew no pain. Loose. Examining the joints of his hand he saw and felt the magic that bound him together weaker than normal. Jules glanced around and realized he'd likely had an episode.... either that nice fellow Algy had escaped or was very very dead.

Shame either way.

The lich stepped forward when he felt it under his foot. Glancing down he noted his shoes were ruined... and a small rose throne teeming with power was now wedged between the bones of his heel. He plucked it and examined the thing... a bit of life from this magical maze that withstood... well whatever it was he did. Likely he broke a circle, hard to say as he only had flashes of what he'd seen or done.

After concentrating for a moment, Jules body filled out with pseudoflesh. The ectoplasm the wrapped around himself from a memory of skin and muscle. He looked more frail than before, to be expected if he had expended a good deal of power. "I suppose I'll have to eat tonight." he muttered annoyed at the lose of a good soul due to his own carelessness.

After another second sulking, he straightened the remains of his clothes and started the long walk home.

Magic 0/3
Luck 1/6

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