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  #1  
Unread 28th of March, 2011, 12:56
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Earth Gate : The Blight

A chill wind curls around the blackened and dilapidated buildings that line the square. It worms through broken window panes and creeks through rotted beams before swirling through a pile of dust that once, long ago, was a bone. The buildings creek, and moan beneath the wind’s lashing - empty husks lamenting the loss of their occupants.

Nothing living stirs in the broad square. No birds fly overhead, no mice scurry below, no weed thrusts its brazen leaves through the smooth, soot caked cobblestone.

Only buildings and wind.

The wind suddenly begins to howl through the narrow alleys and gutted building, its cruel fingers prying ancient tiles from sagging rafters and pitching them across the bleak cobblestone field. A hole opens in the air above the square bathing the stones in a chaotic deluge of light. A great explosion jars the frames of the square’s aged sentinels, and four figures erupt from the sky and fall hard onto the black stone.

A moment later the hole collapses in on itself once again leaving the square in silence.

Last edited by -J-; 31st of March, 2011 at 01:29.
  #2  
Unread 5th of April, 2011, 23:55
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Cat stirred and groaned, blinking her eyes in an effort to rid the ringing from her head. Everything burned, as if her skin had been given a thorough rubdown with broken glass. She coughed once and managed to roll onto her side. Buildings tilted up, blocking out half of the leaden gray sky.

Where am I?

Everything hurt, and not just from the myriad of scrapes and slashes that marked every inch of exposed skin. Her left arm, shoulder, and hip were throbbing to the beat of her pulse, with a pain that made her grit her teeth. She sat up, a small, sharp cry escaping from behind the clenched wall of her pearly teeth. Her gloved right hand reached up, instinctively lifting the burnished goggles from her eyes, some small part of her brain breathing a sigh of relief that she wasn't blind as well. She cradled her left arm in her lap as she tried to turn her head to look around the square with watering eyes, everything around distorted and blurred.

There was none of the debris or chaos that she would have expected from an earthquake or tornado, just a dilapidated and ill-used city square. Her breath catches as she spots other prone forms, one - a large, square jawed man - drawing her recognition.

"Sam?" she croaks harshly, blinking to clear her eyes of the unwanted tears. They had been driving . . . no, that was long ago. They had been . . . her mind freezes as her body begins to sweat, unable to provide her with the answer to that simple question.

"Sam?" she repeats, crawling in ungainly fashion toward something familiar in this unfamiliar place.

Where are we?
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Unread 6th of April, 2011, 00:51
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The froth coated saddlebred thunders down the hard packed dirt road that served as the main artery for the town of Monterey. On its back clung a gaunt, weathered man with a wide brimmed hat and thick moustache. Townsfolk slow and watch as rider and mount streak past, their sudden appearance quickly becoming the subject of neighborly gossip and speculation. Nearing the whitewashed adobe church at the center of town, the man reins in the heaving beast and slides from its saddle. The man hobbles up the steps favoring his right leg. Blood oozes from the hasty bandage tied tightly about it, leaving a drunken trail of splatters that follow him to the door.

Hat in hand, he throws the door to the church open and steps in. He is at once blinded, his eyes struggling to shake off the glare of the Texas summer sun. He can hear the flutter of robes and the flurry of sandaled feet on hardwood floor.

“Sam, wait…”

Father Miguel calls, his voice followed by the cloying scent of incense. It was the same smell that filled the church when Sam was baptized forty three years ago; the same smell that wrapped around his parent’s coffins when he was ten, and then followed him down the aisle to his waiting bride Anna six years later. It was the smell of community, of shared joy, pain and hope.

“Sam....Sam...you can’t see her like this Sam...Sam!...” the priest’s voice begins to change, as the specters of the past melt away like spring snow.

“Sam.”

Suddenly a rush of chaotic memories roars through his mind.

Byron...

The temple…

Mohinder and Deirdre screaming and then… and then…

White piercing light and deafening thunder…an explosion?

Panic fills him.

“Cat…” the old man croaks through a mouthful of blood and phlegm as his mind fully returns to the present. A spasm of coughing wracks his wiry frame as a lungful of black soot tries to crawl its way down his windpipe. Pain lashes through his cracked bones and his bruised and lacerated flesh, but he was thankful; thankful to be alive enough to feel, and thankful that he wasn’t in a small church in Monterey in the middle of a summer long ago.

“Cat” he staggers to her and pulls her into a fierce embrace.

“You ok kid?”
  #4  
Unread 6th of April, 2011, 01:24
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In silence Ingram writhes in agony his mouth working uselessly as he tries to find his breath while his battered, bleeding body rebels. With a loud gasp he finds his purchase against the sooty black stones. Leaning back on his elbows he surveys the pieces of manticore spike in his wounded leg, and the long man folds himself cross-legged onto his good leg with hips spread stable on the ground. Closing his dark eyes he breathes deeply purposefully focusing his intent and placing his long-fingered hands firmly on each side of his upper thigh where the spike has pierced the meat completely through.

Staring at the spike the soldier’s eyes narrow in concentration and his temples flash as the bloody metallic spike slowly retracts from Ingram’s thigh to briefly hang upon nothing before clattering to the stone next to him. The bands at his wrist flash as his hands press against the wounds his own blood seeping between them. Barely visible like waves of heat curling wisps of psychic energy mingle with and pull at the fresh blood, and in seconds he takes his bloodied hands away the new flesh closing over the wound knit whole.

Ingram brushes the tears from his eyes with the now ragged sleeve of his long coat before repeating the process on his damaged calf. Apparently satisfied Ingram offers a grim smile as he stands testing his work and pocketing the smaller spike.

“Cyrill Bishop, are you well?” he says calmly ignoring the nagging feeling that he was the instrument of their relocation.
  #5  
Unread 8th of April, 2011, 10:10
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“Cryill Bishop, are you well?”

A familiar voice calls, moving Cryill from his quiet reflection. After being dumped on the ground in yet a new place, Cryill was deciding if he was kicked or dragged by the testicles across every rock and hard thing in the known universe.

Brushing himself off, Cyrill sits up and stands, noting that his body feels remarkably better than it should considering his trip to this place. Taking stock of his surroundings, Cyrill quickly examines the dead and skeletal buildings that surround the square, the tall man with the metal spike in his leg approached. The spike now gone, a hole in his clothing and clean flesh in its place. There were also two other figures in the square.

“I’m well enough, Ingram … I think you said that was your name. You’ve a way of making acquaintances, fights with beasts and mystical transportation.” Cyrill speaks, reconsidering his levity and thinking of what the man had done earlier to help protect that girl. Was she ok? Cyrill wondered. “I’m glad to see you walking, and thank you for what you did back there." placing his hand upon Ingram's shoulder, "I don’t know you well, but you are a good man." pausing Cryill gestures to the others, "There are others here, they do not look as though they fared as well as we did, we should help them,

“Hello!” Cryill shouts, moving toward the two figures, now embracing or holding each other up, “are you badly hurt?”

The events of the past few weeks being too much to fathom and fully accept, Cryill shrugs them off for the moment and sets his sights on the present.

Last edited by carnivalhandgrenade; 9th of April, 2011 at 13:03.
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Unread 13th of April, 2011, 00:12
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Samuel staggers up and wraps her in his strong arms; she could cry for joy that he was alive. Cat nods into his shoulder and then pushes herself at arms length to look at him, wondering if she looks half as bad. She nods again.

"I'm alright, I'm alright. Feels like I was run over by a steam train, but I don't think anything is broken."

She knew better than to ask the old Texan about his health. The man made a habit of pretending he was never in pain; she knew different, but she also knew he'd never admit weakness, especially not in front of strangers. Her head is turning even as one of them calls out - a handsome man, or he would be once he got cleaned up. He wasn't overly large but there was something inherently powerful about him, an elemental wildness that made her breath catch. Through the holes in her memory she seeks some familiarity and finds none.

Instead of answering, she whispers to Sam, "Do you know him?"
  #7  
Unread 13th of April, 2011, 09:10
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Sam just shakes his head. "They ain't armed. Still, best hang back case things go south."

He turns from the girl and begins to saunter towards the men. Their tumble from the sky had been rough on the old man. He was bleeding from a dozen scrapes, his left hand felt broken...maybe a cracked rib or two as well not to menion enough bruises to make him look like holstein.

He was in no shape for a tussle.

"You boys alright?" he says drawing to a stop a few paces away.
  #8  
Unread 14th of April, 2011, 05:46
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The tall lean man nods to the older gentleman. "We're well enough. Thank you for inquiring. I'm Ingram Spencer, and this is Cyrill Bishop," he says with a gesture to the powerful man beside him.

Calmly but without pause he continues, "I am concerned that we have been portaled into what residents of The City call The Blight. Let me explain briefly. The City is a plane of existence or dimension that is functionally in between all others. For example the light by which we see is from a relatively permanent portal to a dimension called Iriandris. The Blight is an area closely connected with negative energy which is harmful to most humanoids though a sustaining force for the undead. Although I don't have the equipment to monitor how much negative energy this specific area has, we should for safety leave the Blight before Iriandris recedes. I believe our odds of survival would be increased by staying together."
  #9  
Unread 14th of April, 2011, 12:37
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Sam nods as Ingram talks. If the Texan was surprised at being forcibly ripped through time and space he didn't show it.

"Agreed. Name's Sam Mason," he shakes each man's hand in turn. "That there is Dierdre Mourne," he nods towards the striking red head, "she prefers Cat," he adds softly.

"Come on over Cat. This here feller says we've been...ah...what'd you call it again?"

"Portaled"

"That's it. Portaled. We've been portaled to...some dimension...city...aww hell." Cursing he pulls a silver flask from his jacket pocket and takes a swig. "I never could understand all that magic gibber-jabber."
  #10  
Unread 16th of April, 2011, 00:33
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Cat slowly exhales and reaches up to brush back her flaming red hair - smoothly releasing her hold on the heavy pistol holstered on her left side, out of view of the others. She was grateful it hadn't been lost in the abrupt transition. Her ears pricked up at Ingram's words, and if Sam was confused, she was too but in an entirely different way. A whirring accompanied by a familiar chittering stopped her question before it reached her lips; she extended her right arm and Remi landed there causing her to wince a little.

He was a dazzling creature, all brass and copper, with silver tracery and wings that looked gossamer despite being woven of finely extruded strands of metal. Apart from the wings, he was similar to a lemur in both size and shape, despite the complete mechanization of form.

"Portaled?" she says, accepting a mouthful from the flask and belting it down without batting an eye. The hot liquor burned all the way down to the pit of her stomach but it did clear her head a little though she can remember nothing of how they got here or what she had been doing. She nods in greeting at the two men who seemed so unlike one another, and both utterly unlike any person she had ever known.

"If what you are saying is true, then I agree - the sooner we are gone the better. How . . . how did you get here?"

And how can we get out?
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Unread 16th of April, 2011, 03:47
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"After we'all get acquainted I'm fixin' to look around a bit. See if we can't find some of our gear, and pick out a vantage point to get our bearings."

Last edited by -J-; 18th of April, 2011 at 23:19.
  #12  
Unread 16th of April, 2011, 06:20
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Cyrill accepts the flask handed off to him from the shaken red head. "thanks," he says as he tentatively takes the flask. Looking down at the mouth of the flask a swift brush of the past came up to meet him as he wiffed the strong liquor. Father's breath he thought to himself. This was a new time a new world the past would haunt him for sure but he needed to move forward. With resolve he takes a swig, grimacing as it burns down his throat.

"Thanks, I like your pet," he says to Cat, handing the flask to Ingram, "It's nice not to be the only new guy here. I'm not greatly skilled but I can pull my weighr, Let me know how I can help."

Last edited by carnivalhandgrenade; 16th of April, 2011 at 06:23.
  #13  
Unread 16th of April, 2011, 09:25
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Smiling Ingram takes the flask from Cyrill and tosses a slug of whiskey to the back of his throat. He chokes back down the cough as the volatile liquid burns into his gullet.

"Thanks. Quite potent," he says hoarsely handing back the flask to Sam.

"I have been in the City three some years give or take the differences in our calendars. I had elected to be trained as a Specter class agent at which time my people provided these."

He pulls his longish hair away from his face revealing the clear faceted crystals smoothly implanted at his temples and tugs back his sleeves to show the flesh-shaded bands on his wrists. "They enhance my psionic capabilities offensively and defensively," he says quickly swallowing back some emotion more potent than the whiskey.

With a quick toss of his head he continues, "I currently seek full membership in House Tverin, one of the major powers in the City. A vision told me by one of their members lead me to Cyrill Bishop in another part of the City. I had not finished introducing myself before we were unexpectedly portaled here."
  #14  
Unread 21st of April, 2011, 00:57
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Cat looks at Ingram with something akin to wonder in her eyes when he displays the crystals. Psionics. She knew the term, using the potential of the mind to create tangible effects in the physical world. But many arcanists held the idea in disdain. She looks quickly at Remi and the crystals that are dotted here and there in his silvery filigree. Had she somehow tapped into that power in his creation?

"Well this is fascinating. Psionics, you say? And the crystals are for augmentation, or focus? According to Rice's doctrine, of course, there is no such thing as 'psychic energy' and even if there were it wouldn't be in any way different than energy from any other source. But if we ignore that for a moment and focus on the matrices, where would they fall in the elemental - or rather outside the elemental? Probably a star grid pattern, I think, and in that case wouldn't it make sense that crystals would mesh with the resonance? I mean - "

She breaks off, aware that the other two were looking at her strangely, and suddenly realizing that she was babbling. Well, not really babble - theory, and some of it her own. But she had a tendency to get carried away with her own ideas, and she'd learned that not a lot of people were as interested in those ideas as she was.

"Well, I mean . . . I mean, that's interesting," she finishes rather lamely.
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Unread 22nd of April, 2011, 01:09
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Sam's bruised face cracks into a grin as he listens patiently, delighting in both Cat's excitement and her acumen. “Now look at what ‘cha done,” he says with a wink. “You two can talk port’ls and rez-zo-nance later. Now, near as I can figure, that port’l spit us out sideways so over yonder,” he points to the far end of the square, “is where I reckon we could find anything or anyone else it might’a picked up.” He takes another swig from his flask before returning it to his coat pocket. “That and there’s that mighty fine tower. You reckon its tall enough for you to get yer bearings Ingram?”

The tower at the far end of the square juts sharply into the darkening sky, like a granite needle some two hundred meters high. Its sides are smooth and uniform, as if it were pulled from the ground in a single piece, polished and then placed like statuary. At the very top, beneath a tapered copper roof looks to be an open observatory.
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Unread 23rd of April, 2011, 22:14
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Cyrill stands off to the side, contemplating these three. He felt out of his element to be sure. He found himself wishing for the quiet safety of a fresh plowed field. His lack of experience in portals and "psionic energy" was weighing heavily on him.

Why am I here and with these people? Does the universe make mistakes?

Looking over at Ingram, the man now contemplating the tower at the end of the square, at least, Cyrill thinks, I believe I have a friend in him and perhaps he'll help me figure this whole thing out.

"If there are others who went through that, we should see if we can help them too."
Cryill adds, knowing his sense right and wrong would be the only thing he could add to the decision making process.
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Unread 26th of April, 2011, 09:14
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Noting the rapid onset of darkness and the well-maintained if bleak nature of the granite tower Ingram appears conflicted. Cyrill's comment seem to solidify him.

"Yes, we should see if anyone else came through. The height of the tower is sufficient, but I fear it may well harbor what we hope to avoid. If we had with us a way to detect the shadow - negative energy - we might not plunge deeper into danger."

He nods toward Cat and continues, "Your Rice's Doctrine may still hold for though we can measure negative, positive and planar energies easily enough, the psionic remains elusive seeming to have more to do with intent and consciousness imposed on matter and energy at a sub-atomic level. Though I would discuss this more, Sam and Cyrill are right as we need to move now."

Training demanded a low profile and quick movements from cover to cover, but Ingram acknowledges to himself they had already been standing in the open without direct attack so he heads toward the imposing tower without dropping into a crouch though obviously alert to any sign of movement.
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Unread 26th of April, 2011, 11:46
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Spreading out the group quickly picks their way through the dead scrub and withered trees of the square. Small pieces of strange, glyph covered stone dot the ground, mixed amongst them are glittering pieces of silver manticore. A squeal of delight catches the men’s attention as Cat excitedly flourishes a long, intricate looking wand – her arcane stylus.

All together they managed to recover three back packs with three days worth of rations in each, two blankets, a tent, hatchet, magnesium fire starter, three 100ft coils of strong hemp rope, two boxes of .44-40 ammo, Sam’s Winchester model 1873, and a 12g double barrel shot gun with a box of shot, and one of slugs.
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Unread 7th of June, 2011, 07:36
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Sam stands near the base of the tower looking upward. He whistles softly as he cranes his neck back to see the top.

“So...what do ya think?” he asks, his right hand rests the barrel of his rifle against his shoulder, while the other hangs from the wide gun belt around his waist. Cyrill and Ingram stand on either side of him, while Cat sits on a rock nearby intently working on etching the lenses from Sam’s scope.

The base of the tower is far more mundane than the featureless granite spire. Poured concrete stairs lead to a flagstone patio that encircles the tower’s base. Scouting around the base proves uneventful and fails to reveal any doorway or opening into the tower’s interior.

“I’ll be done in a minute,” Cat announces, holding a lens up briefly to a critical eye before returning it to her makeshift workspace, “I’m betting if we scan it with the arcanometer we’ll find something.”

Ingram scans the courtyard intently the granite tower reigns silently over decrepit scene. Even the wind seems hushed. Satisfied there is no immediate threat, he asks trying to break the heaviness, “What’s it like where you come from? Mage overlords, technocracy, a shattered moon throwing rocks from the sky?”

“Seems a lot like here. Same folk living the same sort of life.” Sam gazes up the tower, his tongue playing over the cuts in his lip.. “Not as much magic laying abouts. In our world we use it for machines and the like.” He turns slightly to face the dimming planar conflux that served as the sun. “Daylight’s a slippin’. Reckon you were right about this tower Ingram, seems about as invitin’ as a bucket full’a rattlers.”

As they speak, Cat carefully packs her tools and then rises, holding the scope to her eye, one foot now perched before her on the rock that was so recently her combination seat and lab table. The blasted landscape is behind her, and in the fading light she looks like nothing so much as a castaway pirate - complete with her oddments of garb, pistol, and telescope. All she is lacking is the requisite cutlass and a vessel to pilot.

Scanning the tower studiously with her magically enhanced perception, she gives a low whistle at the patterns now obvious. “It’s a doozie alright - some sort of planar conjunction, probably a focal point of sorts,” she says without interrupting her careful study, pacing off to one side to get a better view. The telescope dips lower as she pans down from the heights, until it is pointing directly where a door might reside, if the place were to have a door. She takes several steps forward, until she feels Sam’s hand on her shoulder. Cat moves the scope away from her eye, looking at the Texan curiously for a moment before staring back at the now featureless tower.

“There is a schema- there,” she indicates with an outstretched arm, finger pointing at the area, “ - which is a matrix like spell, kind of like a lock. Difficult, but I think can manage it.” Cat’s emerald green eyes flicker to the rest of the group before settling back on the elusive spot, like a tiger eyeing potential prey. “If we want to, that is.”

Cyrill surveying their flank, had been largely ignoring the slow pace of the arcane inspection, turns at the prospect of action. “I could do with a change of scenery,” he says eagerly, neatly clipping Sam’s southern drawl.


CHG, Erik, Gral, J

Last edited by -J-; 7th of June, 2011 at 08:00.
  #20  
Unread 11th of June, 2011, 00:49
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A voice booms out over the group gathered around the base of the spire.
"This is a restricted area."
The words manage to avoid being overly threatening, they instead conjure an image of an announcement made by a slightly perturbed bank clerk. Tired and barely diverging from a monotone, the disembodied voice continues,
"Unscheduled appointments are not permitted. Failure to leave immediately will be viewed as a sign of wilful trespassing."

Without the bodies or background chatter, the warning echoes oddly and acquires a strange distortion towards the end of each clause.
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  #21  
Unread 13th of June, 2011, 05:15
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With a smile broadening as the echoes of the slightly out of place voice fade and eyes still scanning the group's immediate perimeter Ingram says, "We seem to have triggered something, but I say our odds are better with a building that has a vocal warning rather than an immediate assault response. No doubt it has dangers, but I'm guessing it might be a facility for defense or to keep something locked up which could serve our immediate needs."

The tall man pauses verifying Sam and Cyrill seem in consensus, "If you're ready to work the schema, Cat, we'll cover you."
  #22  
Unread 14th of June, 2011, 00:35
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"Intent to bypass security has been noted. Defensive protocols engaged."

A tingling sensation fills the air, like the time Cat touched a arcanic battery to her tongue just to see what it was like, only all over. Still studying the tower she can see its dimensional signature shift and change until it resonated with planar energy.

Just beyond the concrete landing a shimmering field appears and stretching completely around the tower and extending from the ground to well out of sight above.
  #23  
Unread 14th of June, 2011, 05:40
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"That don't look good," Sam say slowly, his jaw tight. The lever action rifle falls easily to the ready as he glances from Ingram to Cat.

Last edited by -J-; 14th of June, 2011 at 05:45.
  #24  
Unread 15th of June, 2011, 19:12
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"Perhaps a somewhat less than immediate assault response?" Cryill smiles toward Ingram, moving between the field and the rest of the group.
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Unread 20th of June, 2011, 03:02
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Moving into a position so that the three men make a triangle around Cat, Ingram says with a low chuckle, "Yeah, that did seem a little too easy. I'm not going anywhere but engaging stealth." And with shimmering waves like summer heat the tall man vanishes.
 

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