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Season: Autumn

With the cooling season of Autumn, Ice-types are starting to re-emerge from their hibernation as Ghost-, Normal-, and Flying-types swarm in the largest numbers they will all year. In comparison, wild Fire- and Bug-type populations are falling in number. The migration of Flying-types to the south in search of warmer weather has also started, as Istin City starts to re-freeze and Autumn marks the beginning of Cypwater Point's rainy season. Handlers and Rogues alike should be wary: Ghost-type powers are boosted during this season, at the cost of being more prone to their triggers.

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 Chances Are, Eryn Norwood
Johanna Murdoc
 Posted: May 15 2017, 05:07 PM
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[ OoC: Forgive my typos. I am at work on my tablet. @Flight ]


At the end of the day, when shadows gather over days and years and pile up like drifts of snow on the hunched shoulders of memory, there was no dissuading the heart from seeking places that had once -- however briefly -- been home. A tidy but unremarkable inn in a not-quite-poor neighborhood where any traveler might stay the night for the payment of a few coins and all the information the innkeeper could gather about them to report back to her Trick. A place to hide. An old friend who had sheltered her when she had but clips to her name and was lost to the ravages of grief. That debt would never be paid -- what price could there be that would make up for the innkeeper's silence? That silence had been and still was worth the blood from her throat, but the old woman who had once been a dancer in her youth had kept silent lips and still eyes with the skill of age. Johanna had never entered by that front door since her removal from the Order until today.

But when Johanna walked in that summer evening, leathers soaked and chill from an earlier spring shower that had caught her in the streets, the old woman only smiled. And then she frowned. The room Johanna Murdoc still thought of as 'hers' was rented, taken by another and had been for several months. Yes, she was quite sure, and with apologies. She could not and would not say who, no more than she had given away Johanna herself. Yes, the room with the hidden stair from the backhouse and the window above the old bricks. She offered the assassin another room, with a sad smile that said she knew Johanna would not take it.

Troubled for reasons she could not name, she hesitated and declined, but left the old woman the loaf she had come to give her along with coin: a sumptuous thing, laced with foreign chocolate and spiced with cinnamon, still warm from the baker and enough to feed two for the day. The old woman patted Johanna's hand and kissed her forehead like a mother, but did not stop the younger woman from going back out into the coolness of the evening.

Johanna stood outside that inn for what seemed like an eternity, exploring the ragged edges of the loss that should not have been a loss as one feels the place where a tooth had been. Then, she made a decision -- not consciously, but decisively. It was foolish, but there it was. She turned and traced her way through the familiar alley-backs to the place with the old mortar behind a pub, and began to climb. Up, across the pub roof and its careful timbers with haste, over the thatch of a brothel with care, over the shingles of the low stone row house beside the Inn... and then up the bricks of the Nine Tails Inn wall to the window whose latch was an old friend and who was invisible from the street.

The room... She had not known what she expected. It was kept, but carelessly as any travelling handler might, but no handler would know to ask for it -- to ask for the "old loft rooms" in an establishment that had never had a loft in its life. But, soft footed and careful of touch and trap and replacing exactly anything she dared move, she found nothing extraordinary in the wardrobe or the drawers, no poisons or daggers or tools whose weilder she might have known. Not until she had made her way in the darkness to the other side of the bed filled with her own too-strong memories and saw it on the chair.

Red, even in the deepest shadow of the evening in a closed little room. Miramossan luck charms, embroidered on the hem. The assassin frowned.

She returned to the tavern beneath the Inn, cowl lifted to hide her face in its shade and nondescript beer before her. She had to know, had to wait and see.

She watched the doors -- the door to the front and the door to the backhouse. She didn't know she would be following the person who stayed too long in the latter to truly be minding their business, who came out, perhaps, wearing what they had not entered with, until she saw them. Johanna Murdoc slipped silently out into the night in their wake, leaving far too many gold pieces for the Innkeeper in her wake. She had to know. That hole in her heart demanded it, as did the tournament matches that had yet to come for her.

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Mirage
 Posted: May 15 2017, 10:47 PM
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Harper's Pass brought bad memories, as well as fond ones - but it was not Istin City, cold as it was. It was not where their team had died. Eryn took that to heart as they settled in the room, out of the way and discreet as it was. The tavern-inns in the slums of any city were the most quiet and professional about it - and it helped, too, that this one's 'keep eventually reported back to the Trictess of the city.

But Eryn Norwood, handler from Miramossa, could not be seen hanging around in an inn like this; and so she did not. They, instead, removed the effects of the handler save for one, an innocuous enough thing that had made them famous within the context of the Rose Bowl but was anonymous outside of it. To a majority of the Region, the Shifting City was a legend, a rest stop. There was no need for them to study its traditions or symbols.

When they slipped back in from the backhouse, in hardier clothing and armor that did not whisper, they did not hesitate to go back inside. The shadow by their feet shifted, morphed, grew larger then smaller. A clawed finger tapped the back of their leg, twice, before she slipped away again.

Eryn did not go to the Innkeeper, or case the room, or return to their own as a greenhorn might have. Instead they nodded to the woman, who nodded back with a gleam to her eye and the slight smile that all of her kind had, and headed out.

There was no pokemon at their heels or flying overhead as they walked - but even in these streets people talked, and street rats listened. People cleared out of the way when they passed through, their stride a streetwalker’s cant from Cypwater, something lazy and feline and heavy-clawed.

They weren't a greenhorn; they knew when they were being followed. Nevertheless she took them on a path that wound through the city streets, between the red district and the black market and the little plaza that everyone knew about but no one actually mentioned, past One-Eyed Harry and his blanket of goods that no one asked where the pokemon parts came from. This wasn't home, for them - they hadn't grown up here. But they'd spent years in places like this, learning their particular trade and to watch their back without the usage of pokemon.

The catacombs were wounding, and far too extensive. instead they found a little place, a small overhang whose rails still exposed them to the mountain air, and leaned forward to rest their elbows on it. They kept a three-quarters profile to the street, the wall at their back.

And they waited, no weapon in hand, only a shadow that was a shade darker than it should be.

@Johanna Murdoc

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Eryn Norwood
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“Today is a good day for someone else to die.” - Terry Pratchett


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Johanna Murdoc
 Posted: May 16 2017, 05:46 PM
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Johanna did not go out of her way to make it obvious that the stranger had a tail, but nor did she hide it. If she had wanted to go unnoticed, unseen, she could have with the ease of years and hard-earned skil, but that was not the goal. Rather, she let the person lead where they would. It was difficult to tell from the back whether the stranger was man or woman and impossible to tell from the room, but that fit with the stories she had heard too. Eryn Norwood was not known for her femininity.

She followed possibly-Eryn through the streets, passing the brothels whose madames sometimes offered a meal to an urchin, and sometimes sought to earn a new lady-in-the-bud thereby with pastries of cheap meat and promises of shelter in time (if you like, my sweet, don't be afraid...). Johanna had first learned to apply makeup and the kinds of power it gave from similar women in Fough. Past the Black Markets, looking like nothing so much as a nearly-empty street whose root cellars held more than than the last of the winter apples. Through the square that was once called after an ill-favored king who was overfond of magic, that folk made a point not to name. Past a rough looking old poacher or poacher's fence she didn't know.

The Pass was a second home to her, for nothing of importance happened that did not, appropriately, pass through the capital city. She knew it almost as well as she knew Fough, with its smoky air and frequent storms. Johanna followed Eryn up where the city began to climb up into the mountain feet like a child searching for a better perch in his games, and then through the timid lantern light to the little balcony where the road begged for more room to turn and a little sweets shop sheltered it beneath spreading eaves intended to shelter patrons during the warmer hours of a day.

Johanna glanced at the shadow, breathing in the slight chill that hadn't been before with the familiarity of a woman who once belonged to a ghost, and dismissed it. She did not stop, but padded into the little pool of lamplight where Norwood stood, as casual as if this were a truly random encounter. It almost was.

"You're her, aren't you?" Johanna paused, letting the silence elaborating for her. "You've rented my rooms."


@Flight

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Mirage
 Posted: May 17 2017, 09:14 PM
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Eryn Norwood

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They almost didn't expect her to show. That was in line with what they knew of her - and the Order was not in the habit of suffering traitors or turncoats. The hidden viper at the breast could not be tolerated.

But Johanna Murdoc appeared out of the darkness like a ghost, padding forward with ease in her gait, and Eryn did not freeze. They breathed out.

"You'll have to be more specific than that," they said, as if they had no idea what she were talking about. (They had every idea what she was talking about.) "What rooms are these?"

They did not deny the first question - you're her, aren't you. Eryn Norwood. Miramossian handler. Someone had been in their rooms and here the answer was before them, because who else would know to follow someone in a crowd and who else would know about the old loft rooms and who else, who else, would have the brass to confront them about it?

Only a former Order Rogue, perhaps. But Gould's business was not their own; only Craft's, and anyone that they chose to associate with. The Trick of Fough was someone who could take care of his own messes.

But Murdoc was someone who had lived this long, even with that price on her head, and for that Norwood respected her.

They leaned further back on the rail and tilted their head. Join me. The sweets shop was closed and here, in this nook and cranny, it would be difficult for people from the road to see.

@Johanna Murdoc

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Eryn Norwood
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Johanna Murdoc
 Posted: May 17 2017, 09:41 PM
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Johanna pursed her lips for a moment and gave Eryn a flat stare. "Mine." She let the tension hold for just a moment, then casually picked a particular pokeball from her belt, bounced it in her hand once, and returned it to its place where the others were arrayed beside her dagger hilt. She held the woman's dark brown gaze with her own, the color of old steel, and folded her arms.

"There is enough to hide and be wary of in both of our lives without playing these games. I have done it before. I will do it again. But I will not do it tonight," Johanna paused for half of a heartbeat, "And not with you. You're of the Masque. No handler fights as you do or is so guarded."

Nevertheless, Joan kept her eye on the woman's hands as she accepted the invitation to join the woman at the railing (barring a significant glance cast at a certain shadow, one brow raised to let the woman know that the banette had not fooled her into believing it was absent). She leaned beside the other rogue, the heels of her palms against the cool stone and just out of reach. She spoke to the city and the night and Eryn. Her voice was quiet, peaceful and candid in the way two rival or would-be-enemy rogues never were upon meeting -- but tonight it felt right. Order or not, she had no reason for this woman to be her enemy outside of the eye of spectators in the tournament to come.

"You've rented the old loft rooms. I once stayed there... for a time." Still, it would do neither of them any good to give away too many secrets at first. How sick the assassin was, of secrets. They crowded up her throat some nights, clawing out of her belly and blacking her eyes until she thought she might choke and blind herself on all of the things she was-and-was-not and could not say. To hell with secrets, tonight.

"Tell me, who are you?" Tiredness weighed heavy on the words, the exhaustion of years and the taste of sincerity that had not been practiced and distilled and bottled to buy trust. She would be lying if she said the thought had not crossed her mind, but she had discarded it. A woman with Eryn's skill would have known it, and she did not really want to use it with her anyway.

Remembering, though, she held up a finger for a second and then gestured to her belt. "If you prefer, my weavile can cloak us in her darkness. It may be safer that way."


@Flight

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Mirage
 Posted: May 17 2017, 11:34 PM
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Who are you?

What a direct and multi-faceted question to ask.

"I wasn't aware you'd bought those rooms," they said, and made sure to pitch their voice amused. They kept leaning on the railing. Murdoc pulled out a pokeball, bounced it once in her hand, returned it. A tell? Too professional for that. Intent was behind it. A threat?

Perhaps.

"A bold statement to make." They demurred instead of acknowledging. The walls here were sheer, clean stone, but the air was open and they were outside. The air might not have ears but there would be ears in the air. Eryn did not seek to fill their hands with anything, merely kept them in sight and dangling over the railing. Murdoc did the same.

What a pair they made - one Order, one ex-Order. Both people with more secrets that would kill if they were ever let out to light, both tired, both weary. Both standing outside on a cold day in the middle of Harper's Pass.

Eryn tucked the information away absently: Murdoc knew of the old loft rooms. Given, they'd have been surprised if she did not - those were a staple in their line of work. A common, unobtrusive thing that civilians would not know of. But for a time, she said, and she said it with the sincerity and weariness and the exhaustion of one who carried her secrets, weighing down her neck.

(Of someone who left the Masque, and that was something Murdoc had done that Norwood had not yet.)

They nodded to the pokeballs at her belt, knew the way that Murdoc looked to their shadow and knew that they were not alone. Secrets all, and yet here they were, revealing some of the cards held to their chest to an assassin.

How life did change.

"If your Partner does not mind," they said, and made sure to put the inflection on the 'Partner,' clear as a bell of what they were saying. And, after it was done:

Eryn breathed out to the air, gaze cast away. "I am myself. Eryn Norwood, of Miramossa. I used my true name for the Rose Bowl," Just as you did.

@Johanna Murdoc

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Eryn Norwood
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Johanna Murdoc
 Posted: May 21 2017, 10:21 AM
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Johanna nodded, flicked her wrist with the deft little motion common to all master handler. Lune dropped to the stonework, glanced at her Partner's posture, and leisurely stretched briefly on all fours like a cat: no threats. The small and sincere smile that had always been reserved fro her team warmed Johanna's face as she nodded to the weavile. Lune understood. The shadows around them grew perhaps a shade darker, the feeling of something as light as flurries of snow on both their shoulders for a second, and then it settled. The dark type blinked lazily at Eryn, nudged the woman's hip with her head to mark her with the third-eye-gem on her forehead, and settled herself against the railing to enjoy the chill of the stonework.

A little knife in the ribs, though. Just a little one. "I suppose I hadn't bought them outright, it's true. I don't think Old Garetha would ever sell." She left other things unspoken -- I would buy them, if I could. They were a home. I don't want to be reminded that they are not really mine, that I might have been just another tenant. She let her fingers trail along the tips of the weavile's feather crest, so different from the tingle of static in fur. Lune flicked an ear in friendly token objection but did little else.

Eryn Norwood; but she had all but known that. The woman had a way of speaking but saying nothing. The night air flowed between them a minute before Johanna replied, making the decision that truth called for truth. She had meant what she'd said about being tired of games.

"I don't know my last name, or if I ever had one. Murdoc is the last name of a girl named Marcia who took in a little girl too young to know how to pick a pocket or find a meal or survive the street. She was nineteen and I was nine when she got caught up by the Guardians. After that, Gould had me. Haven't seen her since. It was just me left of the gang by then. They'd always called us 'Murdoc's.' It stuck -- and it started as a mark of respect.

"The name's mine now, though. It has been for a long time -- I suppose that makes it true enough. Johanna Murdoc," she tasted the name on her tongue, "is a woman to be feared, even by the Tricks. Or I will be. The assassin. It's what I'm good at, not that I seem to have ever quite had the choice to pick a different skill.

"Reputations are well and good, but they're also cages like you see in those menageries. Behold the great and wild arcanine from far Canaan, with his black fur and orange stripes! Don't worry, folks, see those bars? You're perfectly safe! -- but the beast still only has those few yards to pace and move. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to turn into a mouse and go on your merry way?"

She'd wait, decide if Eryn was going to answer or stay silent or speak only half way true again. If she said nothing at all, well. Perhaps she would ask who the woman worked for. She didn't know what she even wanted from all of this, but they had the night and perhaps enough exhaustion that it pretended to be peace. Johanna would walk away at the end of this, just as she always had, but for now she simply wanted to feel human again for a time before she had to go hunting her next bounty.


@Flight

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Mirage
 Posted: May 23 2017, 01:04 PM
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It was quiet, after Eryn placed the truth out on the rails and stone like the plain thing it was. Perhaps Murdoc had been expecting something more flamboyant, or a deep and dark secret that would reveal the Eryn Norwood to have been someone else after all, for the name to be a skin like all else had been.

But they knew who they were, and knew how to play the game. The weavile nudged the woman's hip and Eryn smiled at that, though the expression was faint and quiet, easily hid in the night shadows.

They had heard of the Murdoc that escaped Gould's grasp; when they had been young they'd whispered the name in dark alleys, of an assassin who escaped and the pokemon team she'd sacrificed to do so. It had not been a voluntary decision, any more or less than theirs and Istin City and the Lady Holden had been.

"Johanna Murdoc," she said, "is a woman to be feared, even by the Tricks. Or I will be."

Ambition. Eryn inhaled the cool night air, feeling Danya's chill against their legs as she stayed where she was, content to drink in the quiet promise of vengeance and weary thoughts that the both of them leaked, and thought for a moment that they envied her. She was a woman who was hunted for what she was, did, and represented, and yet.

And yet.

"I have," Eryn murmured, and let the night wind blur the words for them. "People look at me and see what I want them to see. That is what I want; that is what I do. Reputations are a cage that I build and maintain."

It would be easy to slip those bars, they do not say. But at the same time it would not be easy at all.

(Their father was in the Order; their mother was a woman they had never known. Eryn Norwood had grown up under the cloak of the Masque and its protection, had honed their claws and sharpened their teeth on the bones of its enemies. They had learned skills outside of its tutors, perhaps, but always the work consumed it. The work had come first.

What were they, without it?)

"But." Eryn breathed; inhaled, exhaled. "A cage is still a cage."

The job was still the job. The work was still the work.

What would be at the end of it?

Eryn turned to Johanna Murdoc, assassin, ex-Order, and did not ask How do you do it, because what the Masque had made them still bled into their lives. Instead they asked, "Have you ever thought of starting again elsewhere?"

The ports admitted foreign ships like clockwork. It would be easy, to pay for passage on one of them, away from the Region and those who had known them, by reputation or by personal relationship or otherwise. It would be so easy to disappear away from the Order's reach, in the Region or otherwise, but a foreign nation would mean a minimal pursuit - if at all.

Danya stirred in their shadow, but did nothing else.

@Johanna Murdoc

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Eryn Norwood
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Johanna Murdoc
 Posted: May 23 2017, 04:01 PM
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Johanna nodded at Eryn's words and repreated them back to her with small correction, a grim agreement and a rueful smile. "A cage is always a cage."

Her mind slid back to the not-quite-intentional dream she'd had of her team when Vita was still learning her psychic amulet's limits, when Johanna had been too asleep to contain her yearnings. Cages. A flash of blood-poiling hatred erupted in her breast for just a moment, and she felt her muscles stiffen with the sudden demand of memories not entirely her own and the desire to break. But then, after so many years, was there truly a line between her and the lion? She took a breath, and that desire to rend and fight faded along with the memory of pain that flew with it.

She murmured, understanding well the unspoken sentiment and seeking to confirm it to the night air, "There is always another job. It is what we do. Even now, even for me."

But... to start again? It terrified her. She had the skills, and she could build the reputation again in time. She spoke other languages that she had not used in years or decades, and she had been to other nations beyond the borders of her home. But with the thought, the word Home fell into place. That was the glass-shard-sharp blade to stick on, wasn't it? It took a very long time for her to reply to Eryn then, considering the idea from each angle like a weavile stalking, a luxray circling its prey and waiting for that opening, a swellow harrying an invader in their nest, a ninetales glowering at a danger, a lucario waiting with enviable patience, a ninjask focusing in for an attack, a froslass's eerie giggle and malicious smile... But it all came down to the knowledge that this idea was not merely new. It was also dangerous, it was also a threat.

Finally, several beats after Lune had looked up to see why she had stopped speaking to see the woman with hands curled tight like claws over the bannister and staring out into the air, Johanna loosened her grip and answered slowly.

"I...am Harper born, and presumably Harper bred. I have been across the seas to the south and across the seas to the east... I've seen islands and I've seen war camps. I've seen plenty of foreign shores following Gould's will and in pursuit of his goals among diplomats and common people both. I was young and pretty enough to blend in any society and be looked upon with favor. It was, clearly, a long time ago," She paused, licked cracked lips and unconsciously picked dirt from beneath her nail. Her age felt scrawled across her face. "This place, though... I have known Harper as well as a woman knows her own body. It is my home. There is no running from yourself, though, if there's anything I've learned. We can't start again. Only continue."

The weavile at her feet nodded her approval and went back to eyeing up the city, watching things move that neither human could see but that would have made for a fun chase or a full belly. Or both. Both was good.

"What of you? You and I, we've both fought our way up, made names for ourselves in the tournament among the common folk. The innocents and the marks. I'm surprised your Trick allowed it -- Gould would not have. What if you are recognized, he would say." Johanna scoffed, but didn't deny that it was a liability. Too many people watched the matches either in person or via psychic illusions in a safer place. "What use do we have for the prize -- who wants a shining pokemon in our positions? As good as to spit in the Trickster's face."

Another moment of quiet.

"I'm seeking to show them what they should fear. I want him to know I'm coming, to do to him what he did to my family... But what are you doing there? What are you looking for? Where have you come from?"

@Flight

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Mirage
 Posted: May 28 2017, 02:31 PM
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Eryn did not know where their parents had come from. Father had never spoken of it, not that he had stayed at home long enough to do so; love them he might have done, but there had always been the work, and they'd grown up with the street children more often than not. Perhaps it was because of that that no one really knew where Norwood had come from and where he - she - they were going.

But there would be the freedom, a corner of their mind whispered, of the choice. You swore yourself to Craft when you were fifteen and never looked back. You were never given cause to look back. But this land has taken Vincent from you, and Xandria, and Havoc, and Father-

They shut up the voice with a sigh, long and drawn out and forceful enough to shake their frame. "I would not be recognized," Eryn said. Considered winking. If they were Maria, they would. If they were Lady Elizabeth, they would give Murdoc a slight smile, something soft and secret enough at court.

But they were themself. They shrugged, comfortable in their skin, easy with the weight of their bones. "I competed last year because the healing was free and my team needed an outside force to bring them together. I compete this year because I do not like leaving matters unended."

Azar's gaze had challenged them, when they'd turned in their notice of resignation and left for different climates. They hadn't needed a psychic or an Amulet to know what she would have said - When will you stop running?

Somewhere in Istin City, a Lady of noble and worthy blood lay sleeping, her mind at ease. Eryn Norwood would ensure that she would not be left alone for long.

"Miramossa," they said, and shrugged again. "Where my parents came from, I do not know. My father was often away; I never knew my mother."

What are you looking for?

In. Out. Danya stirred in their shadow, tilting her head out to peer into the darkening night with glowing eyes, but said nothing. One of your greatest faults, Shanna had said, lips pursed and eyes keen, is that you are not ambitious enough. You do not seek more than what you have.

But what was the point of that? Stability, and the means to keep it was all that they strove for. Eryn Norwood was not someone who wanted to be famous, nor would they be happy with such a lifestyle. "A shining pokemon would be to invite disaster," they murmured, too aware of what they represented. "I do not wish for one."

And you, they almost asked, before they bit down on it. They hummed instead, low and lilting. "You seek vengeance on Leonard Gould, then."

It was not a question.

@Johanna Murdoc

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Eryn Norwood
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Johanna Murdoc
 Posted: May 28 2017, 04:09 PM
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Johanna nodded, looked at Eryn speculatively. "He is no lord. I do, though. He owes me a life debt -- several, and not only for my own." She counted them off on her fingers, eyes distant. "A luxray. A swellow. A frosslas. A chimchar. ...I could show you them as last I've seen them, if you wanted. My fox has an amulet."

She paused, pain creasing her brows. "I don't know if they're still alive. Or... or still themselves. But there is no benefit to rushing in, getting myself killed, for the illusion of a chance. I have to wait, and bide my time and rebuild my strength."

Johanna watched Eryn hard, until she turned to meet her eye, and quietly but distinctly warned her, "Do not let your pokemon be separated from you, Eryn Norwood. Do not trust the Tricks who style themselves as Lords and Ladies. Do not become me."

She set Vita's pokeball carefully on a chip in the railing, where it would not roll, one hand protectively curled around it. If she wanted, Vita would show the other woman what the assassin had last seen in an unwelcome nightmare of a dream-that-was-not-a-dream brought on by the vile amulet to tease and torture, a too-distant and too-small glimpse of those she had lost. It was not her place, and she did not know Craft, but she had thought she had known Gould and had thought she was safe and had let herself grow confident.

What she wouldn't give to return to that night, to warn herself not to leave those pokeballs behind in trust that they would be safe at home. To warn herself to get out years before then. Who would she be if she had never met the man with skin like night and eyes like coal and teeth like ivory fangs? The man who had taught her so well.

She shook her head to herself, at her own foolishness.


@Flight

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Mirage
 Posted: Jun 1 2017, 11:35 AM
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What Johanna Murdoc was discussing was treason - or had been treason, at least. And from the way she said it, Eryn did not think that mutiny had come first. No, knowing what they did of Gould it had been, perhaps, the opposite: a Trick Lord's routine elimination of a used tool gone wrong.

Ghosts haunted those who'd wronged them. Murdoc had apparently had a froslass; Eryn thought that fitting.

"Thank you," they murmured. "But your memories are your own, even if it is through your ninetails." A roundabout way of saying no to the offer of memories, perhaps. But Eryn had lost their team as well, and hearing stories of pokemon that may or may not be alive was easier than seeing memories of them.

Perhaps, though, it was too late. Murdoc was warning them away from the Masque; them, who had served it for years. They'd not left, not because those who did died, but because it was steady work and something they knew how to do.

(You lack ambition, Shanna had said, but perhaps it was not ambition. Perhaps it was something else.)

A corner of their mouth quirked up at that - the Do not become me that Murdoc intoned, low and cautious. An ironic thing to say to one like them, perhaps. "Thank you," they said again. Acknowledgement without promise.

No one could promise anything, in their - both of their - lines of work. But Gould would, eventually, die. And at this woman's hand, if she who stood before them would have anything to say about it.

"Vengeance is best served cold." A saying they'd heard, somewhere, long ago. They leaned back from the edge and straightened their spine, cracking away the stiffness. "And not everyone likes the Trick Lord of Fough - common agent or otherwise."

Craft was unimpressed with the Trick of Fough Place, they knew. Blackwell did not like the False. Gould was someone who lived in common sight and ruled with the confidence of the zealous, the visionaries. It was a tidbit of information for the woman, if she could parse it,

Eryn nodded to Murdoc, and blinked slowly. "Watch your back."

Because against all circumstances, Murdoc had become someone interesting, instead of just a child's nightmare story.

@Johanna Murdoc

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“Today is a good day for someone else to die.” - Terry Pratchett


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Johanna Murdoc
 Posted: Jun 12 2017, 10:42 AM
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Johanna stood silently for a long minute so that Lune looked up at her, a quick glance with those eyes as sharp as broken glass and twice as piercing. The dark type was, consummately, of the dark. She could not read minds. But she knew the world and what ran within it and beneath it and through it as intimately as her own skin, and she knew her partner and did not touch the woman who had stiffened ever so slightly. Unnoticeable to a human, but this was her Partner. She felt the way the whiskers between her feathers moved and scented the change in the woman's scent and knew the disappointment that curled tight in her belly.

People were made of nothing but longing. What did that make someone who echoed like a drum beat in the hands of a Bulwari babe? Like light on the surface of a pond, nothing there, nothing there, only a flash but impossible to touch. She tasted the bitterness of it in the back of her throat like bile and swallowed as she turned to look at the young woman and straightened up. Johanna cast her perceptive assassin's eye once over Eryn Norwood, who would speak to her of Order politics she had lived and breathed for more of her life than not.

Her years sat heavy on her shoulders. The woman... was young. Not youthful, and not a child, but young in the way that Johanna was ever more aware of the way her own knee creaked just so when a storm rolled in, that little ache in her back when she leapt from a roof that never quite went away until days later, all the little ways her body reminded her of a hungry childhood and hard use. When she had first learned to kill, this woman -- she estimated from that plain and narrow face -- would have been yet in a cradle or perhaps toddling. It was a strange and difficult reminder, but it was important.

Eryn Norwood did not believe her. Not really.

And despite herself, she had sought in the woman not a mirror but an answer to a question not asked, a seeking for one of her own kind. Someplace to share and soften her own sorrows that nested so well in her breast. Her hands itched to tighten on a hilt for comfort, but she placed one on the stiff leather of the armor above her hip instead and refused to consider the impulse further. All she had found was another echo and another reason for the love she bore her team. She let the other hand settle on Lune, who stood with her without instruction and simply understood. The cool fur like silk smoothed fraying edges and the pokemon's solidity brought her back.

"Watch your back."

Johanna gave Eryn a wan flicker of a smile, already withdrawn back to herself and as the competitor that others feared, squared her shoulders, and let the other woman's words go by into the night like water parting around a swanna. She wondered if she would ever, really, stop being so foolish. Stop hoping. Stop reaching. Nothing but longing.

The assassin inclined her head to the woman, the moment when they had felt perhaps like kin gone.

"I will see you in Navdia. Send my regards to Stan, and my hope that we might share a table again someday."

A nod, and then she turned and walked away with the dark type at her side matching her stride for stride, her hand still warm against the frost-chill of that silken fur of the weavile's shoulder, affection and protection and love.


@Flight
[ OoC: This is ready for closing unless you need another post. ]

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Ray
 Posted: Jun 24 2017, 01:24 PM
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This open freeform is Canon! It is now closed as requested.

No pokemon were eligible for experience.

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