OPEN Chapter 1: A Murder Mystery

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Jorick

A thought often makes us hotter than a fire.
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#21
The Land, Coal Shovel Tavern - Lucius "The Maggot" King

While chaos erupted around him, Lucius remained calm and composed. The bartender's insulting comment about his appearance earned her a lopsided smile. It had been a long time since someone was brazen enough to say a word about his disgusting appearance in his hearing, much less with a direct insult. She was either stupid or brave. Either way, her declaration of quitting was quite amusing. While the others in the bar were busy freaking out over the child and his message, Lucius finished his drink with two quick swallows and put his gas mask back on, making sure it was tilted just so to hide the ever-present wound on his face.

By the time he was satisfied with its placement, the Moray and Jackdaw had already run out to chase the boy and a good portion of the tavern's other guests had followed. Lucius strolled over to the former bartender and took a recently vacated stool right beside her, sitting to face her rather than the bar. He reached into a pocket and pulled out a small wooden object, looking it over himself for a moment before he placed it on the bar in front of the cheeky woman. It was a wood coin with a simple symbol carved into both sides, a five pointed star made of five straight lines with the addition of an X carved into the pentagon at the star's center.

"If you ever get fed up with trying to conform to the chafing will of others to make a living, seek me out in the Underground. Ask to be brought to the Maggot and show this coin to anyone who says they can show you the way for a price. I've got a lot of plans to change this wretched city, many of which may greatly appeal to you. I could use the help of folks with a spine to see those plans accomplished, and I think you have what it takes." Lucius didn't bother waiting for a response before pushing away from the bar and heading for the door.

His little recruitment speech had been equal parts bullshit and honesty. The coin would work, but only for someone of her general description to avoid the chance of it being passed off to a Cloak, and he did indeed think his plans would appeal to the average citizen of Golden City. The talk of her being something special was nonsense, but he'd found that making people feel special was a good way to get them on your side. Hell, that was how he'd acquired the majority of his followers, and it might just gain him another from that little chat.

Recruitment was not his main goal today, though. Lucius turned the opposite direction from the child-chasing crowd and slipped down the first alley he came across, using it as the starting point of a twisting and meandering path that would take him away from the tavern and shake anyone stupid enough to try to tail him. It would also, conveniently enough, take him toward the home of a man he'd wanted to see dead for some time. Lucius wanted to get in on the game in his own way, and quite literally killing two birds with one stone seemed like a grand idea indeed.

The Sky, Overton Manor - Lady Almyra Grace Overton

"Well, that was easier than expected, but also less useful than hoped."

Alymra's silent guardian had nothing to say to that, but he did rise from his chair to come and see the results of her work for himself. Amidst the discarded bits of paper covered with all manner of scribbled notes, there was one clean and finished product. At the top there was a clearly labeled key, with the alphabet in standard order in the top row of boxes and the substituted letters below them. Below that, the ciphered text from the paper was written out twice: once in the spaceless block it had originally been in, and then with spaces added. Below that was the solved text in full, written in all capital letters as it had been presented in the paper with the addition of proper punctuation.

HELLO CITIZENS OF GOLDEN CITY HOW, LOVELY TO MEET YOU. I AM MASTER AND I HAVE COME HERE TO ANNOUNCE MY RETURN. CONGRATULATIONS SOLVING THIS PUZZLE, YOU HAVE PROVEN YOURSELF TO BE VERY AMUSING SO I WILL PLAY SOME MORE SOON. I DO GET BORED VERY FAST.

While the Inquisitor looked it over, Almyra called out for some of her own personal guards. The call was immediately answered by four men shoving into the room one after another. Clearly they had been less than pleased by her previous order to leave her alone with the Inquisitor, and as expected they'd remained lurking outside the door despite being ordered to go relax. She held up two simpler copies of the solution to the cipher and offered them to the guards.

"Take this one to the Golden Times, and pick me up any late run papers for the day on the way back. This one goes to Amos Fleming. Quickly now." The guards took the papers and had a quick hushed huddle, and within the minute two of them were headed out the door while the other two took up watchful positions in the room. Almyra let them be rather than ordering them out again, and she pushed away from the desk to return to her comfy chair on the other side of the room. She noticed the Inquisitor giving her a strange look, so she flashed him a fierce smile as she sat. "Never underestimate what a bored lady can accomplish with sufficient motivation, dear Cloak." He made that sound again, something like the very start of a laugh muffled quickly, but he couldn't hide the amusement in his eyes this time. Almyra suspected he would be less than pleased if he'd gotten the chance to read the notes added to those two copies of the solution she'd sent out, but she of course kept that to herself.

On the copy sent to Amos Fleming, she'd written a quick and chiding note: Amos, hiding in our homes is merely cowering in fear from petty criminals. Please lift your silly edict and send this Inquisitor to get out there and find the murderer rather than staring at me all day. There had been no need to sign that one, because Amos would doubtless recognize her handwriting or be made aware the delivery had come from a man dressed in Overton guard livery. The one to the Golden Times, however, was a different matter.

To whomever it may concern at the Golden Times,

Above you see the solution to the cipher that was printed in your paper and others this morning. I ask that you print it along with the message written below the line as soon as possible. Should any payment be required for the inconvenience, send someone with the bill to Overton Manor and it shall be paid upon arrival.

My thanks in advance,

Lady Almyra Grace Overton

~~~

Dear Game Master,

Your puzzle kept me entertained for about ten minutes. I must admit I was disappointed by its simplicity. I hope this is not your idea of a challenging mystery, else I'm afraid you do not live up to your reputation. Hopefully this four part key shall prove more intriguing, but I shall not hold my breath.

Regards,

Lady Almyra Grace Overton


Goading a murderer was absolutely not something a wise person would do, but Almyra had never laid claim to wisdom. She hoped it would prod the Game Master, for that was undoubtedly who was behind this twisted game, into hasty action that might get him caught once and for all. If nothing else, it served as a nice way to vent her frustration at being more or less imprisoned in her own gilded cage. If all she could do about the situation was to rattle the bars while being an irritation, then she would do just that. She suspected this first round of bar rattling would get the job done though, so now she waited patiently in pleasant silence to see what would come of her messages.
 

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#22

 

The Raven; The Land; Coal Shovel Tavern 


 

Raven growled in annoyance and glared at her brother as she was smacked on the head for no apparent reason. Well, one could argue the way she referred to the Maggot, sticking her nose into business that weren't her own even in passing like that, was a poor choice and thus the slap would be sufficient warning. Not that it mattered to Raven. She had not meddled with the Maggot and somehow she doubted the man would go out of his way to hurt her for such a passing comment. But, the slap was the least of their problems.


Somehow, Hagen had gotten himself involved pretty deep with the Bird. At least, deep enough to allow the Cloaks to get him for the Bird's murder. Now, Raven might have been kept mostly out of her brother's business, but she knew pretty well. No matter what, he would never kill someone, especially a woman, the way the Bird died. Rolling her eyes at his comment about announcing their engagement in the killer's game to more patrons in the tavern, she ignored it. "You're an idiot and you owe me the whole story this time. Don't think you're off the hook once we get home." She warned him and got ready to chase after the kid just as her brother was doing. She could feel the excitement of the chase already getting to her.

It all happened rather fast for Phineas. The Moray answered his questions, the bartender tried to chase him out, a paperboy came in to yell some random information that he couldn’t care less about. It all dizzied the young Rat who was getting an overload of information on an empty stomach.

Moray’s threats were clear, however. At last Phineas could understand that as he watched the man run off. Turning around to Raven the boy smirked before turning to the bartender that just resigned. He could understand that implication as well. How silly of the Moray to ask these unreliable adults to do a job.

“Well, I’m off,” he announced loudly, as if trying the crowd. Another woman had joined the small group, a rich one looking at that and Phineas couldn’t help but peek at the fair maiden. The rich definitely were of another quality. Another air, he would even argue that their skin was different! Long he didn’t stare, however as he duck his head to escape any grabbing hands and started to bolt towards the doors. He was not afraid of any ear-pulling.

And of course Phineas wasn’t planning on staying, Raven could tell as much and had purposefully stayed behind to make sure to foil his first attempt at an escape, even as Hagen and Jackdaw had ran off. “Oh no you don’t, you little bug!” She made a grab for him, but just as he ducked to avoid her grip on his collar, she heard her name being called and her path blocked by someone she never expected to run onto like that. It was enough for Phineas to disappear.

Raven groaned. She knew Hagen was not going to be pleased with Phineas, or with her for that matter. She had managed to fail him twice just about now. First off, she had Phineas and he slipped right through her fingers, quite literally for that matter, and second, she wasn’t going to be joining the hunt for the newspaper boy anytime soon.

“What in the world are you doing here?” Doctor Breston demanded in that no-nonsense tone of hers, quite the same she had used when Raven had broken into her shop with a bleeding arm one night. “Doc, this really isn’t the time for another scolding. I was just about to leave.” She told the silverhaired woman in a very urgent tone as she attempted to sidestep and make a run for it. If she took to the roofs and hurried she might’ve been able to catch with Hagen and the Jackdaw.

---
Ritual Lobotomy Ritual Lobotomy Nemopedia Nemopedia Jorick Jorick Aero Blue Aero Blue  
@Princess Misaou Giving you a chance to have Kaylee grab her, otherwise Raven's going to bolt out of the tavern. XD
 

Ritual Lobotomy

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#23

 
The Moray; Streets of the Land 

 

w/ Nemopedia Nemopedia

Moray groaned once the dim shadow of the Jackdaw’s swift and lean frame passed over him. Show off. But as long as it was put to a good use, he could show off as much as he wanted. For the moment of what later he thought of utter stupidity, Moray slowed down slightly, allowing Jackdaw to lead forward. People on the street made harder for him to follow the boy, and having a pair of eyes from the bird’s perspective was an advantage he had to trust the lanky clown with.

The streets of Golden City were hard to navigate through. With the alleys connected at random and sharp turns the boy had to skid frequently to catch the right path. Luckily he had some experience as a paperboy, which helped him in remembering the roads. That didn’t help him when an obstacle landed in front of him, however. With barely any time to stop himself his face collided face first into something soft from which he bounced off and then fell backwards, his head dizzy from the collision.

The large man made a turn where Jackdaw landed from the rooftops just in time to witness the head on crash that made his face wince slightly. Poor bastard did not see it coming, and on the level of being a man as well, he found an ounce of sympathy to spare. Dazed the boy blinked at the smoky air, the roofs of the buildings above him twisting before straightening themselves out again in the same organized chaos that was the city he had grown up in. The anxiety of his job was what helped him jump onto his legs again, finally meeting the person he had run into.

Moray wasted no time, and he quickly closed the distance between himself and the boy now focused solely on Jackdaw, with his back turned to where the other man was approaching from.
Clutching his crotch the miner seemed pale from the pain that the paperboy’s head had given him, but the boy had no time to think of that matter, face paling up as well for another reason.

“Don’t get into my way!” he yelled, loudly, attracting a few onlookers. Most of them passed him by placidly, apathetic for the screams and the panic from the boy. The shout of such nature, scared and urgent, caused the man to rethink the course of his action in the moment before he stepped behind the boy and reach out to grab him by the back edge of his trousers before he could resume his frantic run. Pulling the boy in stopping his attempts to break loose, he looked down at the man in agony with a smug smirk escaping under his dark moustache. “Go home, birdie. I can take it from here.” A certain amount of gratitude was in order regardless. “Thanks”, he thanked the man with slight insecurity, as if weighting was it worth it or not.

With task at hand, man’s face turned grim quickly and he pushed the boy forward slightly, stepping around Jackdaw and resuming the walk. “Listen, kid”, he mumbled, taking another look around them before leaning lower towards kid’s ear once his breath stabilized. “That was fun, but I am done playing. Go to wherever the hell you need to be so urgently, but I am coming with you.” Sealing his demand, he tightened his grip on the boy’s garments and yanked him forward lightly.

“After you.”

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#24
Amos Fleming; The Sky - Fleming manor > to > Overton manor
“A letter.” Amos took the letter from his secretary, opening it with a glance before smiling at himself.

“I was wondering when this would come,” he spoke, handing the note back before he buttoned up his jacket. The second seat was still at home, though apart from his secretary the house was empty in overall. No cloak in sight, which went against the orders he had given. Something wholly unsurprising, seeing as Amos was the conductor to the whole orchestra.

The house arrest he had put all Council members under had cut significantly into his own timetable. However, he wouldn’t be the celebrated member he was today if he didn’t manage to loophole himself around it. Dressed in baggy pants of muddy colour, a white shirt and a muddy coloured jacket, patched up and worn accompanied with the hat of a worker Amos found a familiar image within the mirror. Older than he remembered, but reminiscent nonetheless as it had been his before his career.

“No need to send out a response, I’m heading over there,” Amos called to the automaton. It was a smooth model, almost human in appearance, except from the lines at the joins and the way it spoke in. It was one of the reasons why Amos had commanded it not to speak.

“If anyone comes to the door say that I’m not meeting anyone.” With another last set of instructions the man left from the back, deftly moving around out of sight and away from the attention surrounding him. Though old the man still retained his fine skills from his vigilant days, his eyes still recognising the roads and knowing what signs to look for.

Slipping into the Overton manor, which was a matter of persuasion and discretion, he then entered the room. “Busy at work, I see,” he observed, hands folded to the back and standing straight. The aura of authority that Amos exuded clashed with the appearance of the commoner he actually had, yet it was recognisable all the same.

“I heard you wanted out?” he continued nonchalantly, unbothered with his intrusion as he smiled at the noble woman. “Disguise yourself and be quick about it, my guard must have noticed my unusual long potty time.” Amos laughed, eyes twinkling in mischief as if he was a young boy again. Though, somewhere deep down men never grew out of being boys.


Jorick Jorick
 

Nemopedia

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#25
GM Post
The Underground


“Are you sure?”

A pathetic figure he was, all bones and skin, scrawny beyond imagination. The years had hollowed him out, literally and figuratively. Though supposedly young in age his appearance suggested that he was twice, perhaps even thrice his actual age. Skin hanging, eyes drooping, the male’s appearance screamed ‘pitiful’ and ‘miserable’, which is how he felt in every bit of his being as well.

“We can’t back down,” his companion gruffed, sterner, stronger, but still stewed in the same stench and melancholy that he was born from. “Maybe we will be luckier the next time,” he slid his hat further down his eyes, teeth gritted in an attempt to conceal his emotions.

“Maybe,” the young man sighed, clear blue eyes flickering one last time over to his friend before they both looked down at the burning ovens underneath them.

They held hands as they took the plunge down.

Coal Shovel Tavern


“I quit, I fucking quit,” Mallory snarled at the pale haired skywalker that neared her, emptying her glass in one go. Impatience ran through her as the brunette drummed her fingers on the wood. She needed the job, but she could impossibly hold herself back from the adventure and promise of grandiose. She wanted out, out of this place, rise up and become someone of her own worth.

When the man with the deformed face spoke up Mallory barely listened to him, thinking that he was ordering another drink from her. However, as his speech was too long for an order and the item near her was no gold, or silver the female straightened herself up. Though she only caught half of the message and though the man had left soon after the former bartender stared at the coin with interest. It was true that she was dissatisfied with the city and she had heard of fanatic groups banding together in secret, but was she willing to go that far and deep for change?

Rolling her eyes the female slipped the item into her pocket, telling herself that the answer was ‘no’, but convincing herself that she could get a pretty penny out of it if she handed the wooden coin over to the authorities.

Just as Mallory decided to leave the dump and start her investigation a rough shake of the establishment threw her back into her seat. Screams both inside of the tavern as well as outside mixed with each other as people threw themselves under the tables and seats. The bottles of liquor fell down and shattered on the ground as the loud explosions and the rumbling continued to growl throughout the city.

The Streets


Near the Tube a low rumble could be heard. First it were only the pebbles that trembled, then the people noticed something growling upwards. However, within another second the growl became a roar, bringing with it all the heat and stench from the Underground with it to fill up the streets. A cloud of dirt and heat, thundering black and red engulfed the open place near the tube before it dove into the streets. Windows shattered because of the force and the heat, people burned, the elevator shot upwards violently, squashing the passengers inside.

In another second it was over. While it was impossible to see it was clear that the damage was devastating on the streets. Coughs were heard while the Underground continued to rumble, as if giving a warning that it could continue again.

Near the Tube, where nothing could be seen through the darkness of the smog, a red glow could be seen. The flickering of the Ovens continued on the pace of the rumble that could be heard from down below.

Then, once more, from below a voice came. Awkward and rusty a mechanic voice started to sing. Loud enough to be heard over the rumbling, but still able to sound like a whisper to the ears of men.

The first word I have given to you
Have you guessed what it was?
Even so, it is only one fourth.

A B C D E F G
Now these are letters you will need
Singing is all I do
While you count around the clock
Exclude Y and Z
Read it carefully and don’t miss a clue