CLOSED SIGNUPS e s o t e r i c a || DRY SEASON

Doctor Jax

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IT BEGINS ON THE WATER

The stars are bright. She stares up at them, and they are such a multitude. Ever had she heard them referred to as a sea, but she found this description lacking.

No. It more resembled a still and quiet pond - placid and gentle. One star, luminescent, begins to descend before her eyes, and it hovers ahead of her, a beacon illuminating a languid mirror of water up to her ankles. It leads her forward, beckoning her.

"Angelica."

She wades ahead at a breakneck pace. Her heart thuds as the familiar voice murmured to her from behind the Will-o'-the-Wisp.

"Angelica."

"Nong-Angelica."

The young woman's eyes opened in a single, fluid motion as she was shaken to her senses. Quickly memory returned to her, and she looked to the familiar voice which had disturbed her slumber. Lung El sat on the edge of the narrow bed, his dark eyes searching her face. She rubbed her face as she sat up, looking about the tiny cabin. Aboard the vessel Avertine the rooms were mean, of shallow character and brutalist with only a single porthole. Outside, the day was bright, a beam of light shining into the somewhat dim surroundings.

"Lung-Greene ao loog yu ni foredeck," Lung-El stated gently. Your uncle Greene wants you on the foredeck.

"Khap khun nah kha. I shall be right out. My apologies, I know I overslept. I must have been trying to make heads or tails of these, and I drifted off," Angelica muttered as she sifted through the notes strewn upon the bed. Some of these phrases were difficult to unravel without a lexicography to work off of. Lung-El nodded along, keeping a respectful distance.

"Please not wait too long. He is not the man who waits much," Lung-El chided gently in his soft manner, smiling, and Angelica nodded. No, her "uncle" was not at all the sort of man who waits...

Angelica quickly made herself more presentable to company. This would be the first real congregation of their little expedition. Uncle Greene had thought it best to work things out aboard the ship on the two week journey out of London towards Siam rather than have everyone meet up as the year before. Outside, the harsh light of the sun washed out the outdoor furniture on the second-rate liner. Already, a few were seated in chairs around a few tables - some of the auxiliary riflemen like Helmut and Orville, the junior doctor Danford, and of course Lung-El. She took a seat with all her notes beside her long-time family friend and retainer.

Alright! This is the chance to make your introductory posts! This is a second-rate liner called the Avertine, a steamer with a few amenities such as a bar, a restaurant, and a very tiny gym. Feel free to start in your room, sitting in the outdoor area on the foredeck, or at the bar near the foredeck. This is the first day of the journey, and this is a great time to start asking questions and getting some character interactions in! Don't worry - there'll be time for the spooky later... Red Thunder Red Thunder DayDreamer DayDreamer Kuno Kuno Applo Applo Nemopedia Nemopedia Ritual Lobotomy Ritual Lobotomy
 
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Nemopedia

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FINLEY ELLIS || BOTANIST
There was a reason why Finley hated the sea. Hanging over the railing the redhead emptied the contents of his stomach once more, his legs and stomach unable to stand the constant waving of the deck. However, to get off the damn island that was England there were only a few options. To get to Siam he had to take the boat and for that reason alone Finley tried to tolerate.

“Eugh,” the male groaned, a napkin wiping the corners of his mouth as he straightened himself up. Deep breaths, he told himself, hoping to finally calm his stomach down. It did feel a little better, but only barely so. Turning around sharply the male quickly made his way down the deck, to the bar or his room. Anywhere but outside where he could see the water.

Ironically his order had been exactly that. Throwing himself in a seat near the bar the male raised a hand to the bartender, his back slouched over as he breathed hard. “A glass of water, please,” he spoke, pained and restrained, regretting the decision to ever step onto the boat. Finley just hoped that the adventure would be worth the seasickness.

“First time?” the bartender asked sympathetically. Finley smiled wryly as he let his head fall onto the top with a thump. The force resonated through his head, but was welcomed. Anything better than the sickening headache he had acquired as well.

He wondered if it wasn’t the sea that hated him instead. It certainly felt that way.
 

Red Thunder

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Tatyana Volkov
To Hell and Back, then Back Again

”Fifty rubles. No less.”

“Fifty!? You listen here, you
ublyudok! If it wasn't for me, the Petrov Crew would never have even heard of you, let alone-”

“Fifty, Ms.
Gonchaya. You've done much for us, but smuggling is dangerous and expensive work, and even our allies must pay.”

“You're a rat and an extortioner, Gregor.”

“Maybe. But I'm also a patriot.”


Patriot. Right. As much of a patriot as she was for running off, maybe.

Tatyana Volkov eyed her shot glass with distaste, though whether at the urge to drink that had brought her down to the bar in the first place or merely at the emptiness of it, she couldn't be sure. A glance up showed her an attentive barman, who was wisely avoiding her while still watching for request to offer a refill. Her mouth was dry; she wanted, needed, more vodka. Maybe in a little.

For all the tension and fear that was involved with being smuggled out past the Russian borders, the trip to England had been rather boring. A carriage ride first, then boat here, a train there, more than a few miles on foot, and yet again one more voyage over the water, to jolly old England, land of the damned monarchists. Idiot lot; the royalty oppressed them as it did the Russians. There were whispers of Socialists, though; perhaps things would change for the better.

Or maybe that status quo of inefficiency would be maintained, rocking and meandering with no feeling of progression, much like the damned ship she now found herself on. No one here from the previous endeavor, it seemed; not that she'd found, anyway. Ana was en route once again to Siam, financed as before by Mr. Greene's insatiable curiosity.

And indeed by her own. Subconsciously, her hand touched a charm that hung from a golden chain around her neck. The charm was hidden within her blouse; she daren't let anyone see it. Itself golden, the small fetal shape had gone back home with her when the original expedition failed. Ever since, it pressed her mind, seeking attention. Dreams were wrought with terror and disgust, and daylight was haunted with hellish mimicry of the screams of her father in prison before his death. She had been told how to care for it, of course. But the Revolution was pressing, and news of her father's death had been taxing, and the small shrine she'd built when she first returned home was quickly forgotten.

It had not been forgotten once she ran. On the road, she'd fashioned a makeshift shrine for it, filling it with knickknacks and baubles. The charm, the Kuman Tong, seemed content, and now the few auditory and visual hallucinations that she experienced were little more than annoyances.

But that didn't mean they weren't irritating]] annoyances. And tapped her glass on the bar and was quickly answered with another three fingers of vodka. Damn you, Greene. Damn your plant.

And damn this Thing. If I ever marry, I will never have children.


Stumbling and unsure footsteps drew her attention, and she looked up, vaguely curious. Some boy had wandered in, clearly not belonging, neither on ship nor on expedition; he looked to be lived a sheltered life. Oh well; best not get too attached to a quick and early dead man. She turned away before taking another sip of her drink.

Nemopedia Nemopedia
 

Applo

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“Oh blast.” For anyone wandering the corridor by the half-open door of Bertrum’s room, this softly utter exclamation of frustration was followed by a slow, dull rhythmic tapping. Inside his room, Bertrum surveyed the scene of organized chaos that his quarters had become, his cane bouncing off the floor every other second. In front of the Englishman, the contents of a travel chest had been systematically arranged on the cabin floor, and his blue eyes scanned over the various items repeatedly, evidently not finding their quarry. The only time the man’s gaze shifted from his possession was when he would inspect the inside of his trunk momentarily, as if the bare metal was hiding one last item.

After five minutes of this virtually silent charade, Bertrum pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed gently. What he was looking for clearly wasn’t here. He could have sworn it had been packed in this trunk, but the evidence of his eyes told him otherwise. He would just have to hope it had ended up in one of the trunks in the hold and not been forgotten entirely. Either Way though, it was out of his reach for now. Bertrum wasn’t much in the mood to repack his belongings.

Instead, he took his light linen jacket from the back of his cabins door and slipped out of the room. The weather was as pleasant as could be expected for this time of year and Bertrum took some pleasure in promenading around the deck of the ship, nodding silently to those he encountered. The smell of the spray and the rocking of the waves transported him back to the month he had spent touring the Mediterranean at the end of his grand tour. Those had been good days. Back then life had been carefree and easy. Now he was heading to deepest, darkest Siam. It was peculiar how just a few years could change so much. The impromptu tour of the ship ended on the rear deck with Bertrum symbolically looking back at home. He had been relatively quiet before but now this morphed into a silence that almost seemed to suck sound in as he stood with both hands resting on his cane.

“Enough now Bertrum. Enough.” If anyone had enjoyed a reasonable view of the blonde haired doctor’s face as these words tumbled from his lips they would have seen his face shift from a deep frown to an almost playful grin. When he set off once more the was a new bounce in his step and it was still present as he sashayed into the bar.

Propping himself against the counter Bertrum surveyed the other occupants of the room as he slipped a pair of fine kid gloves from his hands. He had braced himself for worse. The people in here, few as they were, looked at least half respectable. Hopefully, the rest of the company would follow suit. After a little while, Bertrum became aware of a presence at the corner of his vision and turned to find the barkeeper staring at him.

“A pint of bitter or stout if you have it please.”
 

Ritual Lobotomy

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THOMAS "TOM" O'REILLY|| NAVIGATOR

Placing his boot on the crate and a bottle of whiskey by his side, the rugged-looking Irish man cleared his throat audibly as he unfolded the map over his thigh, facing the rocking water ahead. The lack of any living soul on that very side of the vessel was a bliss to Thomas O'Reilly. It often meant some needed peace and quiet to plan and to drink. Not necessarily in that order and not necessarily during different times, granted. But he'd be half damned if someone would manage to convince him that there was a worse focus breaker than a judgemental stare of some ape leering at your life's choices.

Preparing up front was a good excuse to avoid unnecessary company, but even that aside, the promise of an adventure excited him. An office job and stability did not have O'Reilly on the list, but that was also one of many lists he would rather avoid anyway. Journey to the said adventure, however, could not be passing slower and it was a pain. Soaking in the ocassional sun for a bit, the man eventually folded a map and stored it back in his trousers, ruffling his hair and stretching out at his full height until his shoulder blades popped back in their place.

He welcomed the relief from tension with a low grunt, pushing the sleeves of his light shirt back up and grabbing the almost half empty bottle of whiskey resting on the crate next to him. The golden liquid in the bottle, disrupted by a sudden lift and a swing, responded with a loud 'bloop' as it struck the thick glass walls on one side. For a hostage, it certainly did its part quite gladly, much on Tom's delight. As a sign of good will, he was ready to return it where he'd originally found it early on that morning.

***

A pair of heavy steps sounded against the wooden floor once the rugged Irish, in his casual shirt, brown trousers and boots, stepped into the bar. He wasn't drunken beyond repair, and yet he narrowed his eyes at the figures present, right as they appeared in his field of vision. He stood at the doorway, all six feet of a man, debating whether he truly needed to be there at that point in time. Figuring that the most, if not all, were already aware of his presence, he found himself indifferent to the inconvenience. Without a greeting, Thomas made his way towards the bar behind which a man was already eyeing the missing bottle with an unamused frown lingering on his face.

Talking about judgemental glares...

Without much care for the patrons sitting at the bar, of which one, a fiery-haired young man, did not look so good, Tom tapped the bottle against the top with a loud thud, glaring back at the bartender with a charming smirk.

"Thank ye", Tom spoke up huskily and happily, pushing the half-empty bottle away from himself, grinning at the man who's frowned expression remained unchanged as he grabbed the bottle and dragged it under the bar with a scolding huff.

"What?", Tom shrugged his shoulders casually, leaning partially against one of the bar stools as he was being scolded by the man.

"This bottle costs a small fortune. Mister O'Reilly." The last part was added out of sheer politeness, even though Tom knew them man had no bigger wish but to fist him to the ground since the first time they've interacted. That was quite alright. The line of people with the same goal was long, and having chosen not to waste his time was a smart decision.

"A small fortune, huh?" Tom seemed interested, rubbing the stubble on his chin, before waving it off dismissively. "Had better." Straightening back up, Thomas pulled out a small, neatly lock-picked padlock from his pocket, tossing it in man's hands on his way back. "And you may consider locking it better in that case."

Not sticking around to be asked any more questions, Tom made his way towards one of the comfortable-looking lounge seats in the corner of the room, paired up with a coffee table stacked with papers. It probably may have been the first time he was sailing without having to take on any of the responsibilities of it, and he was sure to indulge in the luxury of seating himself with some papers, making it last as long as possible. He welcomed the feel of cushions against his back as he leaned in comfortably, grabbing the first papers off the stack and unfolding it for a read.

There was nothing interesting to see in them, however, but they were a good distraction. Even so, not too long after, his thoughts drifted and he reached into his pocket carefully avoiding the map, wrapping his fingers around the cool, round device. For its size, it wasn't too heavy, and for its age, it was quite sturdy and trustworthy.

The chain it was attached to rustled briefly as the round, golden-hued compass traveled from his pocket up to his face where it briefly reflected the sunlight coming from the window behind, before the man lifted the cover and glared at the needle attentively. Thomas never owned a watch and in exchange, he never separated from his other nifty little gadget. Alike men keeping their eye on the time, Tom kept an eye on the way he was heading just as casually. Just like time, but better.

Course, he'd argue. Course is at the very least something you are able to control.

Unlike time.
 
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Red Thunder

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Tatyana Volkov
Better Than Drinking Alone

”A pint of bitter or stout if you have it, please.”

Beer? Really? Who the hell would- Ah. That one. Ana eyed Bertrum with no small distaste. How do you justify a beer on such an auspicious journey as this? She threw back the remainder of her glass, smiling at the warmth that had begun to settle in her belly; it had only taken six shots. No, this one looked as green as the seasick fellow, and moreover, had been talking to himself when he arrived. She tapped her glass to draw the bartender's attention.

But it had already been drawn, and she frowned deeply at the offending party. Irish? Which meant whiskey in that jar. Ana scoffed audibly but let the matter slide when he turned away; rebuking the fool for his choice in alcohol was beneath her. Besides, there was another fool that needed correcting.

Nyet,” she said as she swatted aside the bartender's proffered stout to her neighbor. “This is women's drink. It will fill an empty belly with nothing. Have real alcohol.”

Ana cast a wayward, somewhat fuzzy glance, toward the doorway, considering again his entrance.

“You need it, yes? Yes. For this trip, you need it.”

Applo Applo
 

Doctor Jax

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The tableau out on the deck and inside the bar was oddly serene, a strange sort of calm. Indeed, a perceptive man would note that such peace was not really a peace at all - more the tension that builds as the air thickens before a storm, some animal instinct setting the teeth on edge in preparation for an encounter. Yet, the threat - if there even was one - remained obtuse, unobtrusive. This stagnant atmosphere was somewhat disturbed as two men entered the bar, one of them an athletic fellow with a dark head of hair and a mustache maintained well despite the humidity, and the other with a swagger of a walk, full of youthful exuberance despite a rather lined face, hair and beard sun-bleached blonde.

"I'd rather say that now is not the time, Andrew--" the first said, an American accent punctuating his words with the urgency attributed to his breed. To those who had been on the prior expedition, it was obvious who this man happened to be - Charles Green, benefactor, financier, explorer. The man who seemed to hound him, however, would pose no familiarity.

"Quite the contrary - ain't this what our meetin's for?" asked the man, his baritone evidently of Australian origin. "From the things I been hearin', this ain't quite the happy jaunt you've been makin' it out to be, not after talkin' it out with Danford, with Olivier, Helmut. Don't help that you ain't told me a bloody, thrice-blasted thing, and I don't fancy leadin' in the dark."

"And all that will be taken into account -- at another date, in another place," Green said, looking away from Andrew to see that there were already a few people in attendance. "In the meantime, I shall fetch our other crewmen, if you will... play host."

Green clapped Andrew on the shoulder, leaving the man with a visage of disappointment and frustration. With that, Andrew drew up a chair at the bar, seated between Ana and Finley. His eyes flashed recognition at the woman, though he had a cursory glance at the other two.

"Ah, I think I've seen your faces a time or two. Name's Andrew, Andrew Locke. You all in this... expedition out in Siam?"

Evidently ushered by Green's invitation, young Angelica and her retainer, Lung El, also entered the bar to sit and chat quietly between each other.
 

Kuno

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PETER O'KEEFE || RIFLEMAN
Location: Avertine deck
Somewhere on the far end of the deck, swathed in cigar smoke and a tight gaggle of onlookers, a lengthy game of Old Maid was being played. A deckhand had spotted Peter playing a game of Patience an hour before and, after much coddling, convinced the other to play the Queen’s game. Now that more men had joined the foray, Peter had a decent tournament on his hands. It was a good time waster; far better than being alone, dwelling on his thoughts and ceaseless worries.

He had yet to see another familiar face. Perhaps it was for the better; he could hardly rest knowing that yet another member of their party had been duped into returning to this fool’s errand. It was bad enough that he’d been made to come, and God only knew how much prodding and needling from Delia it had taken to make him change his mind. The thin redhead was small as could be, but insurmountably determined when she mustered up the energy for it. His thoughts drifted to his wife as he pored over his cards listlessly. Where was she at now , he wondered? He’d hired a local field hand to come help with the outdoor work, but knowing Delia, she was most likely spoiling the boy with easy labor. Peter frowned. He’d have to write her--

“I’m all out, fellows!”

With a triumphant laugh, his opponent Briggs waved his last remaining card before their faces. The other player, Richard, gaped at the man, his face mottling red. Peter watched him uneasily.

Gambling made tempers flare like no other vice did. There was always some poor sod too pig-headed to be content with his own rotten luck, and another too prideful to know when to keep their mouths shut. His wife in particular despised it. There was always a man fixing for a fight, so she claimed. One man willing to risk his life over a handful of pounds and some worthless trinkets, like a pompous ass.

Today that man was Richard. Peter visibly started as the sailor slammed his cards down unto the table, swearing profusely as Briggs discarded his last card. When he leapt to his feet, hands curled into fists, Briggs rose as well, equally agitated. Peter came between them in an instant.

“Easy now...”

His concern was ultimately unwarranted. Like a balloon, Richard was all hot air, and the anger seemed to leech out of him as his eyes flicked between Peter and Briggs. Perhaps realizing how foolish he looked--and sensing the futility of fighting both men--he turned abruptly and left with a huff, much to the amusement of the other players.

One of the ship mates met eyes with Peter and gave a lazy shrug. “Eh. Don’t mind ‘ol Dicky. He’ll come ‘round soon enough.”

Peter merely grunted. Clearing the cards off the table, he stacked them neatly in the center before the players. “I’m off to the bar for a quick drink. I’d better not come back to missing cards.”

He was no more than five feet away from the table before the conversation devolved into seediness. An eyebrow raised as snippets of the men talking reached his ears.

“....an hour with your sister and those fine breasts of hers, eh?”

“Ha! You’re fresh out of luck, fellow. Sister dear never had much in the way of teats. Now your mother, on the other hand...”

The group erupted with raucous noise, and Peter laughed in spite of himself. The noise carried into the bar room as he entered, and he smiled at the bartender, momentarily oblivious to the other occupants of the room.

“Do you have any rum, by chance? Or whiskey?”
 

Red Thunder

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Tatyana Volkov
A Fool in the Hand is Worth Two on the Boat

Chert! Vy damy i vashi napitki! Come, Petrov; you know you need better.”

Her world rocked, if gently, as if the Avertine had a boat on another ocean within its hull. Tatyana held the bar tightly as she attempted to stand. Damn this extra ocean; she was still getting her sea legs back again. Andrew had been mostly ignored, save for a glance of assessment, and now her attention had focused on a familiar face, one which her inebriated state had caused her to focus on most insistently.

“I cannot believe you're here again, Petrov. You know we're dead, yes? Have you a death wish? Will you eat shot, like Roland?”

Ana spoke in a rather disinterested tone, slurring her words and gesturing vaguely in Peter's direction. Her voice remained low, for a mercy, and beyond the stagger as she attempted to retain her rapidly evaporating equilibrium, she had yet to make too much of a spectacle of herself. Of course, her proximity to Peter might do that for her; she stood well within his personal space, and with the two several buttons of her coat undone against the sweltering heat, one night gather a false impression.

But Ana didn't seem to care. Balance finally abandoning her, she shifted her weight to brace against the nearest body, who just happened to be Bertrum. She looked at Peter's waist, blinking rapidly in a bid to make her eyes focus.

“Where is the handgun? I need more lessons.”