2014-09-13 - Dungeons and Dragons

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Title: Dungeons and Dragons

In an effort to get some of her less-friendly friends more comfortable with each other -- to prove that they can all be friends together -- Madoka hosts a session of Dungeons and Dragons at her house, thus proving she has no idea what playing this game is actually like. Part 1 of a series.


Madoka Kaname, Sayaka Miki, Kyouko Sakura, Mami Tomoe, Homura Akemi


The Kaname Household

OOC - IC Date:

09/13/14 - 03/13/14

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Tomohisa and Junko swept out of the house an hour ago, resplendent in a tuxedo and a red velvet ballgown that swept from top to toe in Grecian tiers. As affluent, cultured members of society, they're off to the opening gala of an opera at Searrs Symphony Hall. Normally Madoka might have gone with them, but tonight she begged off -- there's another task she must undertake.

Tonight, she shall be as a god.

With only mild disappointment, the gods among gods gave their benediction for this get-together, on the condition Madoka watch her brother, obviating the need for a sitter. Thus, Tatsuya is dandled in her lap, knocking dice around behind a makeshift Gamemaster's Screen that was once a composition notebook for English. Every so often, she gently guides his hand away from a small boombox, which is currently blaring cheerful jpop. There are, however, several nearby CDs.

The table is set with all the requirements: there are dice of all shapes and colors, some kind of gridded map, and a series of beautifully drawn miniatures, paper dolls propped up on popsicle sticks embedded in some of Tatsuya's play-doh. Each of them is splendidly detailed, in full color, with gorgeous costumes and equipment. Also, typical of Madoka's art style, their faces are relatively underdrawn, with hollow scribbles for eyes.

Which is designated for each arrival becomes clear as people, indeed, arrive. The character sheets have also been pre-generated -- possibly inexpertly. In particular, on the lines where there are extra spaces for new, unique Skills, everyone has two, gracefully penned in a young girl's meticulous hand.

Mami, as she is handed sheet and miniature, discovers that she is the Crimson Barbarian. Clad in winged helmet and armed with a greathammer larger than she is, she is a mighty combatant, but one whose greatest strength lies in the pure expression of her feelings. (Feelings like 'rage 1/day'.) Her unique skills are 'Diplomatic Baking' and 'Aggressive Scavenging'.

Kyouko is the Violet Rogue. A deadly assassin, she is dark, sleek, and mysterious, armed with daggers and throwing bombs of various types, such as 'tangle', 'smoke', 'sun' and 'boom'. No one can get close to her without her consent. Her unique skills are 'Sleep Anywhere No Matter What' and 'Master Plans'.

Sayaka is the Golden Wizard. The miniature's more like a cute witch, but also a very /cool/ witch, with those striped stockings and magnificent plumed hat with all manner of jewels dangling down from it. She commands the elements, with a specialty of lightning, and her backup weapon is a gorgeously ornate longbow, because she is an elf. Her unique skills are 'Starforge' and 'Courage'.

Homura is the Rose Priest. A cute, innocent halfling with wide, fluffy skirts, she's armed with staff and sling, but her greatest strength lies in her belief and determination: she is a masterful healer, and can bring strength to all around her with her prayers. Her unique skills are 'Dutiful Research' and 'Reaching Things On The Top Shelf'.

Finally, Madoka herself has a party member, either because nobody told her she's not supposed to, or because -- well, no, that's probably it. Regardless, the Blue Paladin is resplendent in a white cloak, armed with a silvery longsword and a mace that looks vaguely similar to The Bat without risking copyright infringement. Her miniature's expression is somewhere on the spectrum between 'brave' and 'sassy'. She forgot to give herself unique skills, but doesn't seem to mind.

Lest we forget the most important thing, there are also bowls of snacks, ranging from the extremely healthy to the sadly un-nutritious. Having asked in advance, everyone's favorite treat, or whatever they felt like naming as such when asked, is in attendance.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Kyouko has no earthly clue what she's gotten herself into...except that snacks will be involved, and lots of them. She even got some input on what would be there! Only some, though; Kyouko with a blank check can have a tendency to see how many delicious foods she can name from memory. Whatever else that happens, the food will form a foundation for her. And Madoka seems awfully enthusiastic, so surely this Onions and Flagons thing won't be all that bad, even if it /does/ have a really weird name.

Fingers laced behind her head, elbows to the sky, red cinammon bubble gum well bubbled before her, she bends back, upper torso parallel before she recedes from her stretch. Popping her bubble and smacking the gum back into her lips, she knocks on the door, bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"It stands for <Tu hitto ee shi zero>," Sayaka explains, one hand on Madoka's shoulder, the other pointing to the open Dungeon Master's Manual. "So it's not weird that the Barbarian's is lower, because it's like... a lower bar for the high jump on Sports Day! It makes it easier. Because you add the Ee Shi--the armor--to the roll. And if it's over the THAC0, or the same, then it hits! The lower that number is, the better." She nods to herself, then considers. "I think it's the only one like that, though..."

The doorbell rings, and suddenly the door is a Schroedinger's Mami. It could be Mami or the isotope could have decayed and left only a smelly Kyouko. Sayaka's an optimist, and so she knocks a four-sided die off the table in her haste--impressive, given the d4's reputation for superior structural stability.

Yanking the door open, with a "Senpai!", Sayaka finds herself standing opposite a human body with a pink sphere instead of a face. It pops, and she flings a hand up to protect herself from any possible spray of moisture, glaring over it as the sunken pink tatters reveal Kyouko's blithe face. "Anko! You aren't going to stick that under the table, are..." Sayaka's entire attention switches to Mami so suddenly and rapidly that to Kyouko it seems like a DVD skipped a minute of dialogue. "Senpai! Thank you so much for coming! Wow, I love your hat so much! Come in, please!" Beckoning them both inside, Sayaka seems to grow a foot taller suddenly as she returns her attention to Kyouko. "Shoes go here," she says, pointing to the shoe box like a judge with gavel.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Mami finds herself really quite impressed. Mami had just assumed at first that she'd be doing more of the preparations; after all, it's something she's quite accustomed to doing. But, it seems not; Madoka prove herself more than able, as Mami only needed to mention what sort of snacks she might like to have available. ...But she couldn't help but consider the group at least a little, and went for a lighter sort of cake. After all, she fully expects Kyouko to eat at least a plate of hers, too.

Mami stands with rather more seriousness, as a rule, though she is smiling and apparently relaed. Her hands are folded in front of her, fingers together, as she glanes Kyouko's way a moment after the knock. Then--

"Miki-san," she greets warmly. "Thank you! I'm particularly fond of this one," she mentions, reaching up to touch her hat's brim. This hat has a few yellow flowers on it. She glances between red and blue, briefly, but in the end just smiles Kyouko's way.

She has, she hopes, gotten across her wish that they get along.

Thus she indeed steps inside, setting her shoes where they go without so much as a mention, and cheerfully greeting her pink haired friend, "Madoka-chan!" with a bright smile. ...Only here does she find the sheet and miniature, blinking once. She of course has never played one like this, but the one she's given...

"Oh my, this one looks exciting!" she pronounces, beaming over her little sheet all the way to the table, where she gently sets the miniature down and sets to reading in more detail. "A /melee/ weapon... and... Diplomatic Baking..."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Homura Akemi could think of a million excuses on why she shouldn't go through with this, but she could only think of one reason on why she should. But sometimes that one reason can be more important than the million excuses combined. Afterall, that reason was actually a person. And that person was definitely one in a million to Homura.

".....we could all just be friends together."

The door was right in front of her. All she had to do was knock and just commit to it. Homura frowns. There was almost nothing that she wouldn't do for Madoka Kaname, but Madoka herself had nearly found that elusive thing in asking Homura to play a tabletop roleplaying boardgame with a group of girls that Homura knew all too well. Her hand reaches up now to knock, but she hesitates. This was a foolish idea. What did she even hope to accomplish by agreeing to this? Homura's frown deepens. But this would make Madoka happy and Homura has done far worse deeds to ensure that Madoka is able to smile again.


Oh my who could it be? Is it the big, bad wolf or merely Homura Akemi?

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka is trying really hard to be on top of all of these rules kept in all of these books, several of which are in English (and others are translations). Tatsuya tugs on one of her twintails, and in so doing his hands hide the sweatdrops of panic that are forming beside her head. "Um, ummm..." She searches her brain frantically for something intelligent to say. "...okay!!" Best to just agree. And she does /believe/ Sayaka, she just doesn't entirely /understand/ her. "Tuu hitto ee shi zero... takuto shizuru...?"

Oh dear.

She is distracted from her frantic flipping (and Tatsuya wrangling) by the entry of Mami and Kyouko into the living room. "Good evening!" she chirps cheerfully, handing around sheets and miniatures. She blushes hotly over Mami's praise. "It-it's nothing," she demurs, "I just wanted everyone to look pretty. And, um, powaaful." She tries the English term -- it suits the setting. "I'm really glad you came," this is to both of them. "I think it's going to be silly, but fun! And it's so nice to get everyone together."



Scooping Tatsuya up under one arm, she bounds towards the foyer, skipping past her other three guests in her stocking feet. "Homura-chan!" she calls gaily, and all too innocently, as she throws the door open wide. "Look who's here, everyone!"

Stars in her eyes as the gathering becomes (close to) complete (as Eri Shimanouchi was invited, but unable to attend due to some time conflict), she gazes around the room as she leads Homura into the living room, quite possibly clutching one of her hands with her free one. "Now we can get started!"

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Kyouko grins to Mami's glance, toothy as ever.


By the time Sayaka's face comes into view, it's half concealed by a shielding hand. With a mouth full of gum, Kyouko beams, pink glop clinging to her teeth. She makes a V-sign with her index and middle fingers.


Flashing a wink and chuckling at her own wit, Kyouko slips past Sayaka the moment her attention is diverted to her more bonafide friend. Kicking the air a few times, her shoes fly straight up so that she can snatch them in one swipe, clicking them together in her hands before putting them with the rest, as bidden.

Mami smiles, and Kyouko winks. She knows to play nice. Though if Blueberry gets some teasing thrown her way, it isn't like she doesn't have it coming. Kyouko's attention turns inward, and as she calls out, her voice is lazy like a cat's, with a purring drawl. "Madoka-channn~"

Diplomatic baking? What the hell is Mami talking about it? Kyouko's neck stretches out a little as she peers over, trying to get a glimpse of the impressive tableau Madoka had arranged. Stepping closer to see, her newly deshoed foot quickly finds that a black sock alone isn't much good against the triangular point of a four sided dice jabbing into her sole. She leaps into the air like an electrified kangaroo, spinning in mid air and landing on her unharmed foot while clutching her other angle with a hand, hopping one-legged like a pogo stick.


Falling into a couch, her body seems to collapse into a pretty comfortable groove between the cushions right off of the bad. Hissing between her teeth, she glances up as Homura enters the room. Waving with an imprecise, broad-stroke arc, she nurses her foot, her attention divided.


<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Heeh?" Sayaka responds, freezing in panic as Kyouko calls her kohai right in front of Mami. "S-shut up!" she says, only able to muster so much. Kyouko draws further exasperation when she steps on the die. "Did you knock that off?" she says grumpily. "Serves you right." But she leans over the table. "Okay! Madoka-chan worked really hard on this. I know you haven't done this before, but she's a good Dungeon Master, and I'll help you understand the rules. So..."

Sayaka leans back, the mirth draining from her eyes, as Homura enters. She feels as though the dark-haired girl has brought a dark cloud into the room with her. Seeing Madoka reach for her ghostly hand makes Sayaka feel sick.

She had a bad train ride last night.

"Transfer student..." It's not even a greeting, just an identification. But she looks back at Mami, old and wise and beautiful and cool and with hundreds of muskets hiding invisibly inside her clothing, and she relaxes. Just let this weird girl try something.

"I guess that one's not for Eri-chan," she observes, nodding to Homura's adorable little halfling doll. "Okay, then." She sits down at her seat, to Madoka's left. "You can all sit wherever you want, make sure you get the right character, though." She grins at Madoka. "Just throw 'em in the deep end! Where are we, at a tavern?"

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

...This is probably the best she can expect from Kyouko for the moment. Mami accepts the wink, the look in her eyes the sort of affectionate precursor to a sigh. She is probably going to have a bit of worrying to do.

She does not step in over the 'kohai' business.

But, "I'm looking forward to it," Mami replies warmly to Madoka, and perhaps more importantly, she peers down at her sheet a little more than she usually would reading. She makes her way down another section before suddenly sitting up and looking towards Kyouko at the bizarre shout. "Sakura-san!?"

She turns and stands up, immediately taking a step towards the couch where Kyouko ends up. And then... Sayaka acts like it's nothing at all. Mami in turns stops, and stands up a little straighter.

Maaaybe nobody noticed.

Embarrassment becomes the least of her concerns, however, as the group is apparently completed. Surprised, the blonde Puella Magi lets her golden eyes track from Madoka to Homura. 'Transfer student', Sayaka mentions. And Madoka seems so terribly excited.

"Good evening," she greets Homura pleasantly. It is probably even convincing. Taking her seat again, she looks down at her miniature, and the smile becomes more genuine. "I have the right one, I think. Come on over, Sakura-san." She gestures Kyouko over as if the caltrop had never been found. ....But she is terribly earnest about it.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

The door opens more quickly than Homura expects and she's caught with an awkward quasi-frown on her face. She does her best to wipe the expression off her face and nods her head politely at the warm greeting before upturning her mouth ever so slightly. It might not be much to most people, but Homura Akemi is atleast -trying- in this. And, it's too late to back out now without her hurting Madoka's feelings. Which meant that it was time to face the music so to speak. And what music she is greeted with as Homura overhears a Kyouko-like yelp coming from the other room. Homura deposits her shoes alongside everyone elses and lets Madoka lead her by hand into the 'game' room. A quick scan of the room confirms that this is going to be one interesting night. Sayaka, Mami, and Kyouko were all here as well. "Good evening," she greets flatly with.

Homura looks left and then Homura looks right. She finally looks down at the table. There are three 'figures' left on the table. Was one of those hers? Her eyes immediate fixate on the character sheet of the purple rogue. A deadly rogue who is all dark, mysterious, and deadly? How very fitting for her. She should of known that Madoka would do something like that.She then realizes that peculiarly her character sheet has Kyouko's name on it. Purple eyes blink a few times. She then cranes her neck to the character sheet that was obviously Madokas from another time, the Rose healer. And to Homura's horror, she discovers that it is this character sheet that has her name on it. She -really- should have known that Madoka would do something like that.

Homura maintains her composure and takes a deep breath. Carefully, she manuvers her way to the empty seat next to Sayaka and sits herself down at it and before her actual character sheet. Definite frown on her face, Homura reads over her sheet one more time before lifting her gaze up towards her fellow players. "Let us begin then."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka sets Tatsuya down when Kyouko yelps, "Kyouko-chan!! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" --and he tumbles forward, chubby hands grasping. In no time at all he has secured the wayward caltrop, and he avoids swallowing it by only the narrowest of interventions.

This is likely to be a major flavor of the evening. It is quite impossible for big sister to let go of little brother for more than a moment and still retain any control over his omnidestructiveness. Toddlers, as terrible as they are adorable, require /constant/ supervision.

Clutching the four-sided die, she retreats to her seat after seeing that Kyouko is -- relatively -- all right. She exhales with relief, and retreats being her Gamemastery screen. She has no idea what Sayaka and Mami, especially, are being put through here; all she's aware of is vague, and less vague, hostility on their part, but nothing that can't be soothed by giving each other just one more chance, in the mediated space of a gaming table. Instead she smiles at each of them encouragingly, then over at Homura as she sits.

"Yes!" she affirms, as to Sayaka's question of locale. "Once upon a time... there was a tavern called the Falling Star Ramen Bar." Madoka isn't entirely clear on what a 'tavern' really is, but her approximation isn't bad. "Each of you has traveled from afar to sample their legendary ten-million-spice super garlic ramen, or perhaps for some other reason, but the soup really is supposed to be very good here. It's a busy place, and there's only four stools still open. They're all adjacent to each other, you see. They're also directly across from the stage... tonight there's some entertainment."

She dutifully clicks a button on her stereo, and dramatic music plays. Tense strings, vivid brass. Something belonging in a soap opera. It makes for excellent background.

"They seem to be doing a play. It's a love story," she explains breathlessly, "But also a tragedy." Glancing at her notes, she finishes, "But it becomes especially tragic when someone leaps onto the stage, right in the middle of the play, and rips a necklace off the leading lady, then makes a break from the door! What are you all doing?"

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Mami's mommying her but that's to be expected when fire and ice bump into each other. No biggie! She can hear the alarm in Mami's voice when she yelps, though she's too distracted to see her move. It's worth a full-mouthed grin and a "Heeee!"

Sayaka's accusation is met with distracted indignity. "H-hey! I bet /you/ knocked it off! You were laying a trap for me, weren'tcha?" She sticks her tongue out and winks. "Too bad I'm innerstructible!"

Kyouko doesn't have any particular opinion about Homura, but she's aware as anybody else of the chill that enters the room with her. Slightly bemused by Sayaka and Mami's reaction, she slithers out of the couch to spill out over to Mami's side. Scratching the side of her head, her eyes go a little buggy as she sifts through the papers, finding hers after a moment or two.

/Violet rogue..violet rogue../

Kyouko messily scrawls "PORK BUN" into the blank space for the character's name. How's that for a violet rogue?

Drumming on her thighs, she peers around, looking for snacks...and settles on her miniature figurine. Picking her up and looking at her from different angles in the light, she hums and hmms softly, putting her down as Madoka begins to speak.

So she sits, rapt with attention, still not quite sure as to just what exactly is happening. But if Kyouko's good at anything, it's rolling with it. When that question mark hits, Kyouko is ready.

"I'm eating the noodles! The legendary ten-million-spice super garlic ramen! So many spices! So much garlic! Definitely ramen! I throw the bowl at the dude -it's hot, right?- and order another bowl, which as a lady-protectin' hero, will be free, right? Uh, I guess that's a question for the dudely-bobber, right?"

She scratches her head, and dramatically points at a wall, where there is nobody. "GARCON! Another bowl! Hero discount! I'ma be countin' all the spices, don't try t'rip me off with no eight hunnerd thousand spice knock-off!"

Her stomach gurgles. She looks down and pats it. "Urgh. I should have thrown Sayaka's bowl..so hungry.."

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"You always have to start in a tavern in this game," Sayaka explains airily to Kyouko and Mami, who are across from her. She lifts her shoulders, tense, as Homura takes a seat next to her. Well, at least she's between Madoka and Homura. "So, try to think like your characters, okay? Like a barbarian or a rogue or a priest." She reluctantly includes Homura. "See? I'll show you. I'm Maria Peachblossom the Golden Wizard. I'm a fine elven noblewoman from the deep Forest City. Madoka-chan, is it okay for me not to be here to eat the ten-million-spice... oh, right, you said it was okay. I'm actually travelling to try and help people..."

Sayaka's jaw drops at Kyouko's sudden outburst of roleplaying. "Um... w-wow. Anko, have you done this before? That was... it was stupid but I'm still really impressed." She clears her throat, less secure in her role as teacher for a few seconds. "A-anyway, Maria is going to try and make sure she doesn't get any ramen on her when Pork Bun--Anko c'mon pick a real name--throws her bowl, by standing up elegantly from her seat and sweeping her cape out to the side with one arm. Wherever beauty and art are threatened, the Golden Wizard shall appear! Return the lady's priceless belonging lest I strike thou... thee?... down with the ancient magicks of the Forest City!"

Sayaka stood up at some point and is pointing across the room with a determined expression. After a moment, she turns to Madoka wih a rueful grimace. "Can I roll a reaction check to stop him? Maria's Charisma is actualy /19/ instead of 18, Gilded Elves have a racial modifier you forgot about..."

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Mami is, truthfully, a little tense. It's easier to project calm than it is entirely to feed it, and her last conversation with Homura was not exactly pleasant. One of the things to do with that feeling is to smother her friends a little bit!

Er, to look out for them a little bit. Kyouko just laughing off the whole thing and bickering a little with Sayaka gets a short, low siiigh, though Mami isn't really all that bothered.

She does, however, feel a distinct sympathy to Madoka right now, who is also looking after someone whose eyes are stronger than his sense of trouble. ...And it helps that Madoka smiles her way anyway, at which point Mami smiles right back.

That she finds herself looking up at Homura when she looks up from her sheet is at least not a /surprise/, since she's been here long enough to see her sitting down. Mami looks her way once--makes eye contact, to be sure, not exactly hostile but certainly assertive--and then leans down to scribe a name on her own sheet.

Mami's attention lands on Madoka, her golden eyes rapt in the description of this Falling Star Ramen Bar. They are here for... food, it appears, and then she hears Sayaka's explanation. Think... Like her character. She looks at Kyouko, and back to Madoka, avoiding Homura in between.

Kyouko makes a speech, and she looks back to Kyouko thoughtfully, right as--

Mami's eyes sparkle. "I, Lancia, from the frozen West, stand up from my seat! I've only had four ramen bowls so far, and I won't tolerate any interruption of my dinner!" Pause. Her voice sounds... familiar. "...Can I charge him? I want to leap at the thief and hit him with my hammer!" There's a moment as she beams. "Oh, wait. In my other hand I'll keep my bowl."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Homura has been staring down at her character sheet. There was a blank there next to character name. Did this mean she had to come up with something? She reaches for a nearby pencil and starts to write something before pausing and erasing it. It looks like Homura Akemi is stuck at the very first part of this as she is taking entirely too long in writing down a simple name. In fact, she misses part of the explanation of what is going on due to being so engrossed in trying to figure out that one small detail. Her train of thought is further interrupted when Kyouko starts off by -really- getting into character. Had she done this before? And to further add to Homura's confusion, Sayaka begrudingly includes her and then uses herself as an example of how to get into character. And then she starts asking some questions that Homura is completely lost in trying to follow. She can't be the only one here who is utterly lost. Well she can't look to Sayaka or Kyouko as both of them seem to be experienced board game players. Madoka is the one running the show, so Homura also can't look there. That leaves Mami.

Homura glowers across the table at Mami. And she can't even get any sort of look from her since she is avoiding eye contact with her. With no help in sight, Homura looks back down at her nameless character sheet. She presses her pencil against the paper and scans down the content of the sheet for any help with her character name. She brings strength to others through her prayers? Praying never had gotten Homura anywhere, so what solace was she to find there?. The raven-haired teenager grits her teeth slightly and must have been pressing her pencil a little too hard against her character sheet. The pencil snaps in two pieces from the pressure.

The broken pencil is immediately dropped and Homura maintains the frown on her face. She can't give up this easily. Homura reaches out to grab a new one. Purple eyes now survey the chaos of the room around her. The scene in the boardgame was seemingly as chaotic as this moment in reality. "I, Beretta the Halfling, look around the room and survey the chaos. Knowing not what to do, I do nothing and sit there." She then promptly writes the brand name of her firearm of choice down as her character name. Apparently, sometimes art can imitate life as much as life imitates art.

DICE: Madoka Kaname rolls 1d20+0 and gets 17!
DICE: Madoka Kaname rolls 1d20+0 and gets 1!
DICE: Madoka Kaname rolls 1d20+0 and gets 14!
DICE: Madoka Kaname rolls 1d20+0 and gets 1!

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Wow!" Madoka exclaims when Kyouko immediately leaps to the fore -- and where there were stars in her eyes, there is now a galaxy's worth, as Maria Peachblossom and Lancia take center stage. She starts rapidly flipping between rulebooks. "Um, ummm, racial modifier, gilded elves... okay!"

Sitting back, she disentangles Tatsuya from another hair ribbon, then looks at each person in turn. "Kyouko-chan! You have to roll your die, the twenty-sided one, there, to see if you can hit the thief! It might miss and hit the lady instead, so good luck!!" She flashes a V for victory that turns into crossed fingers for luck, then turns back into a V as a seventeen appears. "You did it! You did it!"

She's /so/ excited, bouncing up and down in her seat with more enthusiasm than Tatsuya's shown all night. "Okay, so the ramen goes ALL OVER the thief and the noodles get in his /hair/, and the spice gets in his /eyes/... and /Sayaka/, I mean, Peachblossom-sama, you can roll a reaction check..."

The one stares up at them from the middle of the table.

"Oh nooo!!!" She's enthusiastically dejected, clapping a hand to either cheek with outsized horror. "Now the barkeep thinks you're part of the thief's gang, and he's coming for you with his garlic-chopping hatchet +5 of yumminess!"

...those modifiers may not be in any rulebook.

"And, and," she's breathless with glee now as she considers Mami's request, "The thief is clutching his eyes but he's still got the necklace, and he's trying to make a break for it, so you can totally leap at him with your hammer, yeah! Go Lancia!! Try rolling that die, the pretty pink one right there!"

It clatters across the table. "Fourteen... hmmm, according to Sayaka-chan with Lancia's takuto shizuru that means she... um..."

Frantic mental math ensues. It's interesting that a 17 didn't merit this kind of careful consideration, but shh. "She hits! The hammer hits the thief right in the face and punches him straight out the curtain of the ramen bar and into the street!"

Finally, Homura. Madoka gazes at her for a long moment, silently regarding her, and then smiles perhaps her sweetest smile of the evening thus far. "Don't worry, Homura-chan! Trouble comes to Beretta. The helpless maiden who was robbed by the thief staggers over and collapses weeping in Beretta's lap! 'Please save my necklace,' she cries. 'In the name of your goddess! It's all I have left of my family... of my father!'" You should roll a Sense Motive check...

...one 1 later...

"Yeah, she's totally, completely, for sure telling the absolute truth! Definitely."

Sitting back, she nods, and summarizes. "So yeah, Nikuman-sama brought rameny justice to the thief, and Lancia-sama hammered him out onto the street, and Sayaka-sama tried to yell at him but now the owner thinks she's one of the bad guys, and Beretta-sama has been given a plea for aid!"

Whew. She palms sweat off her forehead -- GMing is /hard work/.

"NOW what do you do?"

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Always start in a tavern..it seems like good life advice. Kyouko furrows her brow and tries to mentally lock that one down. When Sayaka's jaw drops, Kyouko's face flushes scarlet. With an uncharacteristic shyness, she twirls a stray strand of hair around her finger. "N-no..thanks, Blueberry."

That's weird. Why would that make her shy? Weird. And dumb. Deird and wumb. WHATEVER.

Rubbing her tongue against her fangtip, she considers Sayaka's chide..and pencils in between the two words to make her name "Porkin Bunsalot." She is genuinely unaware of how that may sound to somebody, and is totally straight faced about it. She just -knows- Sayaka is gonna harp on her about taking the game seriously, so hopefully this name tweak will help nip that in the bun!

She stands up, and starts to slowly patrol around the room, peering around for something to munch on, and grabs a packet of pear flavored kit kat bars for good luck. Tearing open the wrapper, she pushes one into her mouth in its entirety, munching thoughtfully as she peers at everybody's paperwork. Reaching back without even looking, she grabs a fistful of candy for a few candies more, and returns to her seat, dumping them on the table for others to share.

Kyouko is as serious and spellbound as she takes the die in both hands, laced together, rolling it around between them and letting it fly! Seventeen? Is that good? Apparently so! Kyouko spins her button the ground, legs splaying out a little as she pumps her fist in the air. "Yataaa! They should start callin' me Garlic Throwsalot!" As the rest of the actions play out, Kyouko's tickled pink, laughing raucously at Sayaka's misfortune. "I bet the Golden Gizzard could afford to pay the Great Bunsalot to bail her buns out of trouble! Git'im Mami! Er..Lancia! Hamma slamma! Take his lunch money! Oooh, maybe Beretta has a new giiiiirlfrieeeeend.."

Clutching her knees, she wobbles around on her buttperch, considering her next move.


"I'ma..walk up to the owner that's totally gonna kill Sayaka-chan if I don't save her. I'm gonna go.."Hey! Broski! I gotta have more noodle! Heroic deeds have heroic needs, and this appetite is..pretty might! Eee! And ale! Noodles and ale! Fer everyon'! On the house, to commemmormate the birth of mah legend!"" Yeah... that's the stuff.."

Smirking with satisfaction, Kyouko leans back, reclining like she's in a hammock, confident in her mastery of both Onions /and/ Flagons..particularly when that ale shows up!

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Sayaka looks uncomfortable with Kyouko looking uncomfortable. "What's that face for?" she demands.

"THAC0, Madoka-chan," Sayaka sighs. "'Sha-ko.'" But she's in high spirits. "Good shot, Anko! Now leave it to me!" She rolls with a flourish, giving it some backspin. It lands right on the worst possible number, and her face swings down like an axehead into the table behind it.

"Maybe Maria just seems so beautiful that she must be a bandit princess," she says muffled into the table. She pulls her head up rapidly, a big pink circle on her forehead. "Okay, senpai! I know you can do it!" When Mami doesn't perform the roll instantly, Sayaka leaps into action, picking up the pink die. It's as sparkly as an elementary schooler's three-ring folder. Placing it in Mami's palm, she is beside herself with anticipation. "Wow, Mami-senpai's first THAC0 check! Okay, now close your hand loosely. And we just..." She leans way over the table, gingerly grabs Mami's wrist and shakes it back and forth gently. "We just..." This die has been shaken way longer than is necessary, and Sayaka is blushing more with every second, her shoulders slumping despondently as each shake gets slower and slower.

"...everybody on the entire planet already knows how to roll a die, don't then?" she observes from her glum depths. "Eh-heh." She releases Mami's wrist and pushes her hands down on the front edge of her chair, red-cheeked. "...sorry."

Kyouko rescues her with a jolt of anger. "Don't call Maria Peachblossom names! She's an elegant lady! Not like Pork Bun..." she glances at Kyouko's character sheet and realizes that Kyouko isn't just using a longer nickname. "Porkin Bunsalot?! Be serious for once!" She sighs, shaking her head. "Fine, you're supposed to say it as Porkin, but Maria agrees to give you twenty silver pieces if you help her. You can't hurt him, though! He's just dazed by my elven beauty, he's not evil."

She's already getting a little caught up in this, such that she sympathizes with Homura's situation immediately. "Um, it's not normally okay to tell you this, transfer student," she winces, "but a 1 is a really bad roll. So... just be careful, okay?" She turns to Madoka. "Maria Peachblossom is going to cast Charm Person on the innkeeper so that he will listen to, um, Porkin. I don't really want to rely on a reaction roll off of /his/ Charisma."

DICE: Sayaka Miki rolls 1d20+0 and gets 18!

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Mami would find Madoka's enthusiasm infectious if she weren't already really getting into things as it is. She looks and listens as Madoka handles the other actions first, something about a racial modifier and then more sensible things like actions and--

"My, what a fine first showing," she says to Kyouko, completely missing as she looks to Madoka Kyouko's extra-red moment.

"W-with a hatchet?" Mami responds in mild horror, but then there's her own roll, and she remembers that she's supposed to think like her character. She is all seriousness once again, as--

The bandit princess takes her wrist. "...?" She would not of course have /asked/ for help, but indeed she follows directions as they're given, caarefully holding the die as her wrist is shaken... and shaken.. and shaken. Is it important to shake it this long?

"Oh, no," Mami says, and lets the die go as Sayaka sets hers down. "I think you have especially good technique. I'll try it this way."

The blonde in a lovely hat is on the edge of her seat waiting for the result, and when it's given, "Yes!" ...She goes slightly red, realizing that was out loud. conveniently, things move on to another player.

She takes a candy from the pile Kyouko mentioned, "/Lancia/ thinks Peachblossom's name is wonderful!" Tht is her defense, and it has all the refinement (mild snootiness) of a noble at tea.

Homura... Forgetting her enmity for the moment in the joy of playing with others, she looks right to Homura as she's given this information. Hmmmm....

"Lancia cares little for money!" she proclaims. "She cares only for the bowl in her hand. She'll lift the thief up and bring him back inside where he can be dealt with properly." Pause. Think like her character...

"And the next bowl is on him." Pause. She didn't mean it literally, but now it's going to look that way. She closes her mouth and isn't sure what else /to/ say.

There's a moment, and Mami sits up straighter again, "...I'll set him in front of Beretta."

DICE: Mami Tomoe rolls 1d20+0 and gets 16!

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Homura keeps looking around the room as various things happen. Kyouko continues to be Kyouko which is a very good thing. This time loop already has enough variations that it actually was pleasant to see something or someone, more precisely, was the same. But could the same be said of Sayaka? She tilts her head to look the blue-haired girl's way first at her antics and then a second time when she offers her advice. Hmm. Yes, she still was very much acting herself as well. In fact, she seemed awfully comfortable compared to when Homura first walked in. The long-haired girl raises a hand and presses it against her temple lightly. While doing this, she glances up and sees that Madoka is smiling happily at her. She is going to have to hang tough and endure this, for Madoka's sake at the very least.

She is then told that a helpless girl is making a plea to her character. That means that she is supposed to think how her character would react to this situation. But Homura's eyes are on Madoka. "I won't fail you this time." She says calmly aloud before pursing her lips together and shaking her head slightly while taking a hand off her temple. "....my character says that she will not fail to get the necklace back." Homura then glares at Mami when she says that her character brings the thief to Beretta. She is definitely not on Homura's side this day. What is supposed to come to next is understood more or less by inexperienced board game player'. "Next, my character will...." A glance is flickered down to the skills of her character sheet. She's a healer? And her skills are dutiful research and reaching the top shelf? "....ready her sling and point towards the thief. She will then say, 'Give back the necklace now or I will send you to meet your nonexistant gods." Perhaps even halfings can be menacing.

DICE: Homura Akemi rolls 1d20+0 and gets 14!

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka seems into Kyouko's diplomatic solution. "Okay, Kyouko-chan, then you need to roll to see if Porkin Bunsalot," she's also straight-faced and earnest with the name, "can rearrange the barkeep's priorities."

Sayaka's objection to the name goes straight over her head. She smiles softly at the dicerolling instruction gone on between Mami and Sayaka, and cheerfully chimes, as that lovely 18 hits the table, "He's totally charmed!" In a stage whisper, though, behind one palm but not particularly quiet, she corrects her bluenette bestie, "I think Porkin-sama is a girl, though, look at her miniature..."

Clearing her throat, she pronounces officially, "Between Porkin-sama and Peachblossom-sama's efforts, the barkeep is charmed out of pressing charges or hatchets against Peachblossom-sama. All attention turns to the pursuit of the thief... by Lancia-sama! Wow, that's a good roll, Mami-chan, you snatch him right up and plant him down in front of Beretta-sama." Mami gets two thumbs up for her wise actions and great dice.

Then she shifts her weight on her butt to give Homura her full attention, or as much as it as she can spare when Tatsuya is squirming, trying to get up onto her shoulders. Eventually, inevitably, he succeeds and she relents. Now crowned by a tiny lad, she meets the player of the Rose Priest with laughing eyes. The first-person statement takes her breath away, and by the end of her threatening speech Madoka has burst into spontaneous applause.

That it is the innocent-looking halfling cleric making these grim statements about 'nonexistent gods' is irrelevant in the face of how awesome this was. "Wow, Beretta-sama is so cool!! Roll Intimidate," Madoka squeals, "Roll Intimidate, Homura-chan!"

A fourteen. Good enough. "You succeed! Now, let me look at my notes..."

Papers shuffle, as Tatsuya kicks at his sister's shoulders. After a brief pause, she announces gravely:

"Oh, the thief was wearing a mask, I forgot to mention that before, sorry..." She blushes in genuine contrition, but forges onward nonetheless. "The mask comes off in the confusion, though, and everyone can spot that it's not a he but another she! And she looks a lot like the lady who originally had the necklace. Same blue hair, royal blue eyes. The thief drops to her knees in surrender, but holds the necklace in the air and proclaims, 'This is by all rights mine, not hers! I have tracked her across three counties to reclaim my family heirloom, which she stole on the night of our grandfather's death. It is the key to enter the Lost Ruins of Abacadabra... where awaits great danger, and great treasure."

The other lady folds her arms and juts out her lower lip, but does not directly refute these claims. Instead, she mutters, "That place is a death trap. I was saving your life, keeping you out of there. Please, my saviors, return unto me the family jewels and see this brigand safely away, back to her ordinary life as a barmaid."

The 'thief' clasps her hands over her head. "Come with me instead! Let us go find high adventure! A great evil is said to stir in those Ruins, besides. We have much to gain by fulfilling this quest, and everything to lose if we ignore it!"

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Caught off guard by the comment about her face, Kyouko makes an exagerrated kissy face almost reflexively, thinking of that before she can come up with a verbal comeback. Taco? Kyouko hadn't seen one of those on the spread..or smelled any either. Could there be some in the oven? Sayaka goes down with a thud, and Kyouko lets a chortle or two sneak free.

Smiling with mild amusement as Sayaka grabs Mami's hand, her grin grows wider with every awkward moment of the fairly odd exchange. It's kinda cute the way that she's taking so much care about it. The smile turns into more laughter with Sayaka's latest admonishment. "Okay, okay. Well, Mamerzell Peachblossom, I'll take yer silver, but only if I get to spend it on buyin' you a drink! For I, Porkin Bunsalot, am a legendary lover and ladykiller! I'm sure you've swooned to the songs about me many times. It's ok, you can stop shaking your knees; I make myself a little starstruck sometimes too!"

A charm spell, huh? Hmm..how../charming.../

"Yeah, good one Blue....Peachblossom! As I have charmed you, you shall charm he! He's listening to me, right?" Kyouko stares intently at Madoka for a moment. "Alright Barkeep! I'm that fancypants, Queen Bunsalot! I'm here fer mah date with Otherqueen Peachblossom! Bring us the finest of the fine, the winest of the wine! A feast fit for true love!"

Kyouko winks slyly at Sayaka. As Mami takes up her turn, Kyouko listens intently, cheering as she drags the miscreant back inside after a heroic mini-monologue! Her eyes go wide to Homura's turn, and she claps her hands with the conclusion of the threat. That's a good one..she should take a note of it!

As the drama unfolds, the thief is looking less sneaky by the moment! What to do..who to decide between?! Easy.

"I, Queen Bunsalot, on this Eve of my fancypant dinner date, toast the Abbercabberdabber lady! Let's drink to adventure, a treasure, and abbercabbers of all dabbers! To the Lost Ruins of whatever Madoka-chan said!"

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The sheer seriousness Homura displays is in Mami's eye actually slightly alarming. She remembers well the end of that last conversation, and returns to the real world enough to lokk right back at Homura's glare and smile. It is a smile that is maintained with extra effort over Madoka's applause at Homura.

So she looks quickly to Sayaka at the call to roll Intimidate, and then--ah, even better. Mami picks that moment for a bit of candy, as Madoka looks over her notes.

E...cept... she can't help but laugh again softly at Kyouko's antics towards 'Peachblossom'. Sure, she should really be worried, but if she didn't like Kyouko's wild tangents she wouldn't like Kyouko very much at all.

It's enough to insulte her against the blow that is the super-cool finish of Homura, and then the exposition to come. "Pursuing a family legacy or just ignoring it," Mami says thoughtfully, and considers. She then realizes her arm is out, like it's holding a bowl, nd quietly sets it back down.

"How can we let a great evil go unchallenged? And besides, it isn't right to leave the legacy of your family untaken! I..."

She peers own at her sheet.

"Lancia, the Crimson Barbarian, steps towards the kitchen! She'll settle this with Diplomatic Baking!"

...And encourage the necklace to go back to the other one. "Oh, and the mighty Lancia apologizes about the good madam's face."

DICE: Mami Tomoe rolls 1d20+0 and gets 1!

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Mami always knows how to make things better, and Sayaka relaxes a little as she carefully enshrines Sayaka's technique of die-rolling.

Kyouko always knows how to make things worse, and Sayaka recoils at the unexpected pucker. "That's not better!"

And it's not /getting/ better either. "Pfffah?" she sputters in outrage. "There has never been and will never be any legendary lovers named Porkin Bunsalot! Not even Saionji-senpai could get a date with that name!" Sayaka picked her answer to the "Touga or Saionji" game long ago, though she's never had an actual crush on him. "Can you even imagine a song like that? Of course not!

Por-kin Bunsalot~
His chest muscles? Really hot!
His cute smile? Megawatt!
That's why girls love Buns-a-lot!

It's ridiculous," Sayaka concludes, not skipping a beat after her imprompto composition. Madoka has seen her do that before, burst into a fairly committed rendition of a made-up tune.

"Wait, um... Porkin /is/ a guy, right? I mean, you said he was a lady-killer?" she says, almost imploringly. She suddenly turns to Madoka. "Anyway, Madoka-chan, I am going to cancel the spell on the inkeeper so he doesn't listen to Porkin. Wait... no I don't think I'm allowed to do that... okay, I just tell Porkin that I don't drink wine unless it is made from flowers, and normally I just drink tea from the Vanillapetal in Forest City. A combat round is only about a minute long, though, I don't have time to explain the sacred elven Starforge I guess..."

Sayaka alone seems to feel genuinely chilled by Homura's actions. Throwing a rock at a helpless captive? She knows it's just Dungeons and Dragons. But Homura's never played. Is this like an ink blot test, to her? Is that a glimpse at the real Homura?

Mami manages to cheer her up with her fantastic roleplaying. "Just like Mami-senpai! A pro Arru Pi Ji player on her first night! Let's see that delicious baking!"


Sayaka stares down at the miserable, treacherous die, the world behind her turning into a howling grey void. Not Mami. How could this happen to Mami? Seconds pass, and she looks up to Kyouko at last. "Porkin. Don't order me anything until... we see what happens." She reaches over, and picks up Mami's glittery pink d20, holding it in the palm of her hand as if had once belonged to a man named Yorick. "Madoka-chan," she says dully, pulling her arm back and shaking the die.

"I'm rolling my Courage ability. Whatever comes out of Lancia's oven, no matter what it is... I'm going to eat it."

DICE: Sayaka Miki rolls 1d20+0 and gets 15!
OOC: Kyouko Sakura says, "Will Peachblosom resist Bunsalot's Cassanovian charms? /Can/ she?! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdIlP488n14"

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

The first major twist of this story is revealed and a small decision is offered up. But it is what is happening in real life that Homura focuses on. Madoka actually -liked- her response? Well, good. Homura supposes. This was all for her anyways. She then shifts her purple eyes over on Kyouko and Mami as they both carry on. They were closer than Homura had though. The news that they were living together already hinted that they much closer in this timeline than in others. But seeing their close ties in person sounds a few warning bells inside of Homura. An alliance between those two could prove very troublesome in the near future. Something might have to be done about that and soon.

Mami's choice to support the 'thief' brings Homura back into the matter at hand. She frowns slightly again before shaking her head. "We should give the necklace back to its rightful owner. She is only being sensible and trying to keep anyone else from dying. Her wise advice should not be ignored." Homura intones despite the fact that no one has 'died' in this adventure.

Sayaka's little song and her wilingness to be a sacficial food tester cause Homura to glance her way now. Tch. It seems that some things don't change at all. "Your impulsiveness will get you killed. You should think through a decision before you rashly make it." Apparently, Homura either has a poor opinion of Mami's character's cooking or Homura, the new player, is having a little trouble seperating what her character thinks from what she thinks.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka gapes, openmouthed, as though Kyouko is playing some kind of Takarazuka star -- never mind that her character's totally a girl, it almost makes it better. She is, in fact, enough of a credulous sucker to be swooning a little right now.

Blushing faintly, she finds her voice in time to announce, "The barkeep, um, hastens! Yeah! Hastens to bring Porkin and Peachblossom wine and, um, dine. The top-TOP-secret, off-menu, million-fold-spice super-ramen is yours to enjoy--" Sayaka interrupts, and she hears her friend out, collapsing into giggles at the song. It takes her a long few seconds to get over having the heaves, and ultimately she vents her emotions by swinging Tatsuya off her shoulders, into her lap, and giving him a monumental raspberry.

Turning to Mami, she regards her friend's pronouncements with an attempt at gravity. "The blue-haired thief flips her cloak inside-out, revealing the inside, which is white!" Cheerfully she puts her own miniature, the one with a cloak and bat, onto the field. "She grabs a nearby glass and toasts your efforts, then sits back to watch you work your magic..."

There is definitely some squeeing at the revelation of Mami actually /using/ Diplomatic Baking. Madoka /knew/ it would turn out to be useful! She knew it! Her face falls down a cliff, bouncing off of every rock and thorny bush along the way, though, at the natural 1 that follows. Her voice drops to a low murmur, shadowed by tearful -- though not /truly/ tearful -- ominousness. "B-but, unfortunately... inside the kitchen, you mix up the ten-fold and the bazillion-fold spice, and... the ramen-bread that you ultimately deliver to the cousins is, um, on fire. And a little smelly. And the original necklaceholder does not accept your apology about her dented face." Her fingers tent in GMly apology for this dolorous outcome.

But, Peachblossom to the rescue! Madoka is intent as she watches Sayaka roll her die, her fingers now folded in prayer. "Yatta! Peachblossom-sama bravely eats the bread on behalf of the cousins, and they are so impressed by her fire-breathing afterwards, that they agree to make up after all. The actress-cousin goes back to the stage, and the players continue their play."

Homura speaks up, and Madoka glances between her and Mami, her and Sayaka, nervously. "U-um," she points out, ever the timid peacemaker, "Peachblossom-sama made peace between the sisters, so they're not fighting over the necklace anymore. It was risky, but also brave. Otherwise they might have fought forever... either way, I don't think Lancia's cooking would have /killed/ anyone..."

Clearly starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the tension at the table, she ducks her head down behind the GM screen, and changes the background music again, this time to a cheerful traveling tune. All ocarina and reed whistles, it evokes a simpler, happier time.

"So the thief, whose name turned out to be Lady Sandy, leads whoever wants to go out to the entrance to the dungeon. It's a big cave..."

It's as though her words are becoming reality. Everything seems darker, shadows lengthening to spaghetti-thinness. "...with a gate in front as hard and sharp as pointy fangs." The shadows themselves seem likely to possess teeth of their own, glinting red ones. "But there's an impression on the gate in the same pattern as the pendant on the necklace, and as Sandy puts the key into the lock, the dungeon..."

For the first time, Madoka herself seems to notice how scary the room is, and in the tiniest of voices, stammers, "...opens..."

There's a crash as stacks of dice and the miniature paper dolls go flying, loud and scary. Madoka leaps, but it's too late; Tatsuya has knocked the GM screen over and gone sprawling over the playspace like a gigantic babygodzilla. "Tatsuya!" Is she scolding? Is she worried?

No -- she's terrified. For in these intervening moments, space has already begun to warp, and even as she reaches out towards him, she feels herself being dragged further away, rapidly consumed by the shadows. Tiny fangs flicker in and out around her as she fades away. The little boy is going in the opposite direction. "TATSUYAAAAAA--!" "DOKA, DOKAAAAA!" His chubby fists grasp at the air, and then, in a flicker of strange markings that Sayaka, at least, might recognize as heraldric imagery, he, too, vanishes. Their cries for each other are the last heard from either of them.

Not one Witch, but two. The Puella Magi in the room, their rings abruptly burning with brilliant, colorful incandescence, can feel the two barriers conflicting, twisting space and each other as they fully manifest, and everyone can feel a popping in the ears, the sort of sudden vertigo that often induces a nosebleed.

The gathering of girls stands on a path. Beneath their feet, black and white cobblestones mingle, but fowards the former predominate until the road is an ebon river, and backwards a white tooth. The sun sets over both horizons at once, and yet, disorientingly, there is only one, shadows swapping direction depending on the route of one's gaze.

The faintest cry of a lost kitten moans over the air -- quickly subsumed by the sound of chittering vaguely male voices, spouting only gibberish. Neither can overcome the weight of the barren, desolate landscape, quickly squashed by overweening silence.

A breeze disturbs the dead air. It carries on it the faintest hint of a reed whistle... and crying.