Jun 05, 2020 8:49 AM
the 1920s sure were roaring (or, dungeons and dragons and prohibition)
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Jackson, Mississippi is a booming town. Speculators are searching high and low and all along the Pearl River for natural gas. The railroad's coming through with the new Union Station, and with it comes a wave of new workers - farm hands and the unemployed looking for a paycheck, mostly, but some out of towners, too. It's not helping the tension thrumming in the city much at all - and with railroads, too, come adventurers. Adventure's mostly dried up since the turn of the century. Dragons are either insured against or negotiated with, and the gold rushes of the 1800s plumbed most dungeons dry. Still, there's a thrill to it, a sparkle of days mostly consigned to the history books, when people unhappy with today claim surely things must've been better. Adventurers are just about as exciting as bootleggers (and, though high society won't admit it except with a wink and a nudge, are often the same thing), and it's adventurers the mayor and his friends are entertaining today at the new and luxurious Hotel King Edward.

The mayor of course, wants every - sanitized - juicy story, and to know the tall tales of the guests of the hour.

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Joy - who introduces himself as 'Joyful Luck of the Starlit Hills Clan, call me Joy' - is delighted to tell stories! And he has so many to tell, as well, tales of his childhood among the Tabaxi of the great plains, and of his misadventures in the time since. As a traveler by preference, he has been all over the country, from the burning hot south to the equally dangerous north, and across the border into the Canadian territories as well. Some of his tales are just this side of believable, and many feature being absurdly lucky at just the right moment to save his life, his livelihood, and/or the day. 

Why, just last year he ran a, ah, priority package between Chicago and a small city just north of the Canadian border. He cheerfully recounts a titillating encounter with some misguided... 'bandits', determined to take him for all he was worth, a daring, death-defying escape into a mysterious secret tunnel, a run-in with a lurking monster in the tunnels in question, a hair-raising half-hour spent creeping past the 'thugs' set to guard the exits near his destination, and finally his triumphant escape into the night with his prize. He absolutely should have died at least twice throughout the story, were it not for fortune swinging abruptly his way. Such seems to be the way of things for him. 

He has seen all sorts of beautiful wilderness, as well. As an artist, he can even show off some of the places he took the time to paint, if that interests the mayor and his friends and guests. 

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Pennie is a small halfling woman, her red hair braided to keep it out of the way of her armor, but she still manages to stand out as she tells her tales of her childhood and training. She's particularly animated with her hands and arms, continuously miming the positions she claims she keeps grappling creatures twice her size in. This might be more impressive if she weren't a halfling, although she claims she managed to wrestle a hungry gator that had gotten too adventurous near her home into submission before. More than once, if she's to be believed, and she's certain the thing seems to be *learning* how to get out of grapples so it's good practice for the future when she will have to wrestle demons or dragons.

It's not a matter of if, she says, just a matter of when.

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Temperance Greenstep is a half-elf wizard with the entirety of the excitement of an elf and human added together in a single package. Her own mother was a self-taught wizard and her father was a bard. So she has a lot of stories, not only about herself, but about her parents. And her father's other children. Which she only sadly learned about after his tragic death in the hands of a jealous lover. Or some kind of fire-based monster. Or both. She might not be the best about sanitization, but she has been around a lot of places and knows about even more about the ones she is planning to visit one day.

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The mayor and his friends are impressed! Some of the ladies are quiet enjoying being mildly scandalized. One's sighing over the stories with a somewhat far away look in her eyes.

The food's good quality, the service is impeccable, and it's a grand night, all in all.

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Marcel slips through the door, quiet as a shadow and dressed to the nines. Adjusting the collar of his sharp pinstripe suit, he skirts around the room, snagging a few morsels of food and slipping them past the muffler wrapped around the lower half of his face. Though he tries not to draw attention to himself, he's hard to miss with his impressive height and deathly pallor. Arriving at the mayor's side, he tips his peculiar, broad conical hat in greeting. "Excusez-moi, monsieur. Urgent news. I think you'll want to hear this."

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He raises a glass and tilts his head, though his lips are pressed together a bit around his friendly smile. "Excuse me," he says to the party. "It seems governing knows no closing hours. Go on without me! I'll be back as soon as this little matter is dealt with."

He stands and moseys with Marcel into a quiet corner. "Yes? What's so urgent?"

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Marcel leans down to the mayor's ear, bending like a willow tree, an image completed by the tendrils of silver-streaked black hair wreathing his face.

"It's the cult. We thought they were small-time, but I was saddled with watching them all the same. Seems we may have underestimated their capacity for mischief, though; I caught wind they're in talks with a nearby dragon. I don't know how it's going, but if they manage to convince it, there's no telling what havoc they'll have it wreak."

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"Well, I'll be damned. Thanks for the heads up," he says. "Suppose it's convenient we had some adventurers come through. Can throw them at investigating instead of risking my boys."

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"Indeed. Then I'd better stick around and relay what I know to them, non?" Marcel eyes the group of adventurers. "Perhaps we might pull them aside? I wouldn't want to interrupt your little party."

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"They're the stars of the night, but we've been winding down. I can see about having them stay after the party ends."

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"Bon. Then I suppose I'll make myself comfortable." Marcel fetches himself a glass of wine and more food, mingling with the guests and adventurers.

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The mayor returns to the party as well, waving aside concerns about the 'urgent matter.'

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Joy's eyes follow the mayor and the new arrival to their secluded corner curiously, his ears twitching, but he quickly refocuses on his conversation partner once they move out of the range of his hearing. Once they return to the party, however, he excuses himself to wander over in the newcomer's direction to satisfy his curiosity. 

"Hello!" He greets, tilting his head up at the much taller being, "Leaving us in suspense about the urgent business?"

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Marcel smirks. "I'm afraid so. At least for now. Wouldn't want to spoil the party." He looks Joy up and down with scrutiny. "You are... a tabaxi, yes?"

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"Oh, that would be a shame," he agrees while Marcel is looking him over. Then he giggles, "Half-Tabaxi," he corrects, running a hand over his cheek, "Mother's people are usually more feline looking than I am. I can pass for an elf if I hide my tail and ears." His head tilts the other way, "I don't think I've seen anyone who looks like you before." And that's pretty interesting!

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"Yes, well, you don't see many Shadar Kai this side of the Deep Marsh." He grins. "Some people go their entire lives without meeting one. But I suppose the same could be said for you, I don't think I've ever met someone quite like you."

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"You're not the only one!" He agrees with a laugh, "Half-tabaxi are rare enough without also being half-elves! I think I got all the best parts out of the deal, though," he twitches his ears and swishes his tail into view in example. "The Deep Marsh..." He hums, "That's what they call the Vast in Louisiana, right? What's it like? You hear all sorts of stories, but of course I've never met anyone who fell in." 

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"Ah... it's hard to put into words. I haven't been there in a long time." He scratches his chin. "In a word, it's... muted. The colors, the sounds, everything is subdued and dreary. Some Shadar Kai prefer it that way. Me, I'm happy to be on this side of the mirror. What about you? What's life like where you're from?"

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"It does sound pretty dreary," he agrees. "I think it would still be interesting to see it, though!"

"As for me - I grew up on the plains. Wildflowers and grasses and scrub as far as the eye can see, and the sunsets are really something! Over all, though, it's, hmm... wide-open. If you find a good spot you can stand in one place and see the world stretching out forever all around you. Really gives a kitten the urge to go out and see it, you know?" 

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"I can imagine." Marcel chuckles. "Seeing all the strange and wonderful people and places of the world makes me want to take as many stories as I can back to my people." That much, at least, was true.

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Pennie, in the meantime, has zeroed in on Temperance in an effort to exchange stories. Faraway places? Crazy families? Sounds like fun!

"Hey there! Name's Pennie. Do ya have any stories about exotic beasties? Maybe even magic ones?"

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"Oh, I have one from when I was little and my mom took me to her friend that had a hipogriff that just had two babies, and I begged all day to let me ride the mom, but she was tired and needed rest. So I did the logical thing - for a child - and tied ropes around the little babies in hope they would lift me in the air. Which only made the hipogriff mom mad. So imagine my mother and her friend stumbling upon the scene of a barely mobile hipogriff mother chasing a young me around a pen, while the tied babies run around making the both of us stumble. Oh, and hipogriffs don't lay eggs. I was so disappointed because I wanted a bit of their shell as a memento."

It's amazing she has enough breath to say all that that fast.

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"Oh, I've heard of hippogriffs! That poor mama, but it must've looked hilarious. Haven't seen a hippogriff myself yet though. Real shame you couldn't get to the air back then."

She takes a quick bite out of a cake, as if this were more necessary than pausing to take a breath. "When I was a kid, one of my buddies dared me to jump on the back of a sleeping horse, see how long I could stay on. That's the day I found out what a pegasus is. Turns out I could stay on for a while. I hope to have a ride like that again some day." 

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Temperance giggles. "I hope so too. I mean, to ride like that. And also for you to ride like that."

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And then there's a roar that shakes the building.

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