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Urban Arcana Story: Rated R

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#1 Nikki Peppermint

Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 11:09 PM

This was a game I was in on another board.  I want to do some writing now and then, so I thought I'd bring this story here to play with.  The RP never really went very far, so I never developed the character or her story beyond her profile.  The world is already established and I have two of the books; I'll just have to make up the setting and the storyline.  Well, here goes...........

Edit: I've changed my approach, as I am known to do :wink:.  The characters of my story are going to start out NOT knowing each other or being involved in any way, so I changed a bit of Rhianna's profile.  Am I a nerd for being so enthralled by this Urban Arcana stuff, especially the rule books  :angel:?

Posted Image  - What Rhianna looks like in the Shadow world as a Shadowkind.

Avatars_009.jpg - What the humans of the regular world see.

Rhianna Sheridan

Charismatic Hero; Personality; Speed Demon

Race: Elf
Eyes: Dark brown
Skin: Fair
Hair: Dark brown, long, thick, and curly - but has had many hair colors and styles for different roles.
Height: 5'6" - tall for an elf where she came from
Weight: 110 pounds (the camera adds weight, you know ).
Body build: Slender, lithe, well-defined muscles.
Profession: Actress of stage and screen, very popular and well-known.
Age: About 80 in elf years, but appears 23 still.  True age is unknown to her as it was counted by the Elven calendar which Rhianna does not know how to convert.

Below is Rhianna's profile:
Spoiler: click to show/hide
Strength 15; Dexterity 16; Constitution 12; Intelligence 15; Wisdom 13; Charisma 17

Appearing through a rift in the veil between the human world and the dimension in which elves live, Rhianna came to the modern world ten years ago. At that time she was what humans would measure as 80 years old, but appeared only 23. In the past ten years she has not appeared to age. Once in this modern world, Rhianna experienced near total memory loss and could only remember her name, her family, her former profession--which was, coincidently that of a famous entertainer in the Shadowkind--, her Elven customs and traditions, and, of course, the existence of magic in all dimensions.

Brought a slightly magical cat with her as she was holding him at the time.

Elves were aware of the existence of different dimensions, but Rhianna never expected to end up in one through a spell cast by a jealous rival in the entertainment business. Waking up in an old, abandoned building one morning, Rhianna at first panicked at her situation. Dressed only in a sheer, flowing gown entwined with gold threads and covered in small jewels, she garnered much attention as she wandered out into the world she found herself in--a large city.

The only aspect about Rhianna that didn't seem to gain any attention was her elven appearance-- pointed ears, slender figure, beautiful appearance, and strange language. People seemed to understand the dark-haired young woman even though she spoke the Elven language.

From the beginning people just seemed to want to help this young woman, who obviously was not homeless-looking but appeared to have nothing. A jeweler helped her to sell some of the jewels off her dress for large sums of money; a kindly elderly woman gave her a room in her three- bedroom house; the woman's son helped Rhianna set up a bank account, apply for identification, and learn to drive--which Rhianna picked up quickly--; and eventually she obtained a job as a model in one of the big city modeling agencies. Throughout this period, the elf realized she was speaking more and more English, but also retained her Elven tongue.

Instantly popular as a model, Rhianna quickly ascended to supermodel status within four years. Her ageless yet charming beauty became the latest "look" in the business. Blonde was no longer the popular hair color, everyone wanted to be a brunette now. Rhianna just seemed to ooze charm and personality, although she remained a bit aloof at times. But this just seemed to enthrall her fans and admirers even more. As if by "magic", Rhianna moved from supermodel status to popular and talented actress status; although she worked hard at her chosen craft. The actress soon began to star in hit movies, Broadway plays and musicals, and recurring roles on several television series. As a bit of fun, she even accepted a small part as an elf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

She earned a great deal of money for her talent. Along with investing wisely--Rhianna learned quickly about this world and how it worked--her income provided her with a mansion at the end of her own private road on a large expanse of land 'outside' of the city. A winding road keeps her secluded from the noise, congestion, and pollution; as does an Elven magical blessing spell. Rhianna can do very simple Elven magic, more of suggestions that the Universe seems to grant her, so she blessed her mansion, land, and all possessions against harm and danger.

Fast cars began to fascinate Rhianna, and she discovered she had a "talent" for driving fast among other interesting connections with vehicles. Soon she bought herself an fast car and motorcycle, as well as began to delve into amateur racing--much to the horror of her agent and the people she works for.

After seeing how this world treated the environment, Rhianna began to work towards saving the planet in any way she could. She's influenced local leaders and top government officials in various issues dealing with the betterment of the nature, endangered animals, and air quality. Some of the results have been minor, others have been huge successes. Her goal is to at least stop the encroachment of mankind and save what is remaining. Her ideal vision is for all of the Earth to revert back to nature--but even she knows that won't happen.

Rhianna has no family except for the old woman who took her in; the woman's son and his family; her best friend of ten years, Phoebe; and the man who loves her and wants to marry her. Although she does care for Marcus, due to her elven nature Rhianna is hesitant to accept.

Danica1.jpg She has copper and gold hair.

Name: Danica Owens

Smart Hero; Field Scientist; Acolyte

Race: Dragonblooded Human
* descendants of ancient dragons and half-dragons; although they may be several generations removed from draconic ancestors they can manifest certain traits and abilities that betray their nonhuman bloodline.
Eyes: brownish copper, serpentine shape (slightly almond)
Skin: Hispanic/Chinese heritage – golden light brown, very beautiful – wears no make up and is very natural looking
Hair: Long, copper and gold mixed (not so much stripes as just mixed together) – usually wears up in a bun of some sort
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 130 pounds
Body build: Medium build – well-toned but not muscular
Occupation: Librarian/Archeologist – runs the library of the Institute for Continuous Education – trained in archeology, history; also works consulting with various museums
Age: 27

Danica's profile
Spoiler: click to show/hide
Intelligence: 17, Strength:  13, Dexterity:  15, Constitution: 15, Wisdom:  16, Charisma:  12

A California native, Danica was born in San Diego and grew up with her two older sisters and younger brother in a fairly “normal” life considering her parents were descended from powerful dragon bloodlines from China and Spain.  Eventually, through intermarriage with humans, the family became Dragonblooded Humans; but their dragon blood is very powerful, so even the moderate amount that Danica inherited is enough to make her manifest certain traits and abilities that betray her nonhuman bloodline. But whenever she had her blood taken, the mundane humans over looked the oddities as if they didn’t see—or didn’t want to see.  Her parents were always honest about their heritage because Danica had manifested golden claws instead of fingernails No mundane--or normal human--ever seemed to really notice. Her nails grew longer as she grew up, eventually reaching an inch long and very sharp and thick—but mundanes only saw long fingernails painted a deep gold color.

Highly intelligent, Danica graduated high school at sixteen and entered college at the University of San Diego for archeology and history, specializing in ancient history. She graduated college at 20 with her masters and spent the next few years on archeology digs until she was 25.  Then her brother was killed when he was 18, and Danica rushed home to be with her family.  Deciding to settle down in Santa Monica, she went to work for the Institute for Continuous Education  in the main library, coordinating and running everything.  She has a staff to help out as she also does consulting for the local museums (and some non-local) in their acquisitions.

One part of the Shadow world that Danica embraced came through her quest for spirituality. She’d always been very spiritual even as a child, and after trying most of the world’s mainstream religions and not finding what she was looking for, she discovered the Church of Pelor at age 15.  It was through this church in San Deigo and its priest, a Shadowkind human, that Danica discovered she was an Acolyte.  She learned to harness her faith, belief and ideals in the ultimate force of the universe and use this power to perform magic--divine spells.  She declared her allegiance to the energy of good and designated her gold sun medallion from the church as her holy symbol. She wears it around her neck on a thick gold chain that is blessed with a spell so it never unlatches. Her parents were not too happy about this event in Danica’s life as it could draw attention to her, but Danica promised to be careful.  She has become quite adept now, but not as strong as she will become.

A close-knit family—in spirit if not in location—the Owens see each other as often as they can.  Danica’s parents now live in Hawaii in blissful retirement and the hot sun, while her two sisters live in California. Danica is just trying to live her life as unobtrusively as possible and fit in.  She knows she’s different, and she knows about Shadow but not just how deep it all goes, and she sees the “others” and accepts them but just tries to live a “normal” life.


Zane Merrick

Strong Hero; Archaic Weapon Master; Soldier

Race: Snakeblooded Human
*human with Yuan-ti blood
Eyes: Dark brown, seem to glisten
Skin: Toffee colored, African American – has slightly scaly patches on back of hands, tops of feet and lower back
Hair: Bald.  Has a well-trimmed mustache and goatee
Height: 6’
Weight: 185
Body build: Muscular, strong.
Occupation: Athlete: Works at the local Church of Pelor as manager of sorts; also works at a local youth center..
Age: 35

Zane's profile
Spoiler: click to show/hide
Intelligence: 13;  Strength:  17; Dexterity:  16, Constitution: 15, Wisdom:  12, Charisma:  15

Being ex-military is hard for Zane; he thrived in the Navy Seals, and now he seemed to be unable to find anything as fulfilling or something to really be a part of where he could make a difference.  He’d joined the military at 18 and lucked out by getting a Shadowkind Human doctor who befriended Zane and conveniently overlooked his blood that marked him as a Snakeblooded Human.  This doctor warned Zane that his blood would show up as very odd and couldn’t be overlooked by the mundane.  His “skin condition” was also classed as “untreatable but harmless”, as it was just scales on the back of his hands, tops of his feet, and along his lower back. The doctor tried to help the young soldier out and referred him to other Shadowkind Human doctors or those few enlightened mundanes who saw and understood the way the world really was.  Despite this "special" treatment, Zane tried to ignore his differences from other people, and pretended to be normal. He tries not to see the oddities around him.  Zane lived for his years in the military and became a world-class soldier.

But when he was severely wounded in the arm in an incursion a few years ago, the military honorably discharged him and sent Zane home to Louisiana.  After healing completely, left only with a large scar on his left arm, Zane moved to Venice Beach in California and found a job at the local Church of Pelor.  Managing and organizing two branches of the church, Zane also works out religiously, practices with his archaic weapons, and works at a youth club helping to keep kids off the streets and out of gangs.

However, his life seems empty and unfulfilling in many ways.  Taking off often to camp out in wilderness and do extreme sports activities soothes the need to be as intensely active as possible, but does nothing for the rest of him.  Although he words at the church, Zane doesn’t practice the religion.  He occupies his time by reading various genres of books, watching television, and cooking; and he’s up on what’s going on out in the streets of the “city”. Human women love Zane and are intrigued by the ex-military, exotic aura, physical aspect of him. They fall in love with him constantly, but he’s not interested; although, that doesn’t mean he turns them away. Underneath Zane is a good person and tries to be friendly and enjoy his life; but he can never get serious about a woman.

Zane is searching for something—or is something searching for Zane?--but just what, he doesn’t know.

Adam Kenton

Dedicated Hero; Martial Artist; Shadow Hunter

Race: Shadowkind Human
* not all creatures from Shadow are alien to human eyes –he is a human who comes from beyond Shadow, from a medieval, magic-rich, low-technology world – his kind are sometimes called “Shadowborn” or “Shadowkin” – similar to Earth humans in physical diversities
Eyes: Stormy blue eyes
Skin: Lightly tanned
Hair: Short, somewhat spiky in places, dark brown
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 165
Body build: Lean but strong, well-defined muscles
Occupation: Private Investigator
Age: 36

Adam's profile:
Spoiler: click to show/hide
Intelligence: 16;  Strength:  15; Dexterity:  15, Constitution: 12, Wisdom:  17, Charisma:  13

Adam’s family “fell through” the veil of Shadow one day when he was just a small child.  They ended up in Washington state with several other families from their reality, a more medieval and magic-rich world.  Luckily for everyone, they were all discovered hiding in an abandoned building while trying to figure out what had happened and what to do by members of The Displaced.  This charitable organization—for Shadow creatures and humans—helped the Kentons and other families to settle down in the Earth reality.

At first they were all perplexed by technology, the morality of the times, and modern-day customs, but then most of the group began to adjust and blend into the mundane humanity.  They all had only hazy memories of  where they’d come from, and the children quickly lost all memories except for flashes now and then.  Adam’s parents died a few years back from a home invasion of Shadow doings, leaving Adam alone in the world, without any real knowledge of his original home.  To all intents and purposes, Adam is a typical human man.

Except his truly human ex-wife always felt there was something odd about him.  She tried to fight it because she did love him; but finally, along with other ordinary marital problems, divorced her then-police officer husband and moved to another state with their daughter.  Adam tries to keep in touch with the little girl, who is now seven.  Divorced for four years now, Adam lives in West Hollywood in a house on a quiet street in an average neighborhood.  He isolates himself from women as anything more than just acquaintances for fear of being thought “weird”.  His sensitivity to the feelings of others would make him an ideal husband if only he would open himself up to the one woman who could love him.

Having quit his job as a police officer shortly after the divorce, Adam started out in California training to be an EMT to further his first aid training as a police officer and discovered a talent for healing the injured; but then he began a business of private investigating which paid more money. His clients include mundane humans clients with average investigations, as well as clients who wish to engage him as a Shadow Hunter—tracking, stalking, finding lost Shadow things and people that usually don’t want to be found.  When he’s not working, his secret passion is writing.  Usually alone, Adam will spend time keeping up on the world’s events, although the state of the world today leaves him with the desire to be elsewhere.  One way he “leaves” is by practicing martial arts, something he’s an expert at and finds very useful in his line of work.

While he enjoys his work, it is dangerous, and Adam sometimes wonders who or what he’s doing all this for.  He’s confident in his abilities and rarely comes back from a hunt empty handed, but he feels there should be something bigger that he’s working for rather than just working from day to day.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 09:32 PM.

#2 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 20 March 2005 - 12:43 AM

The city of tall palm trees sweeping upward on slender trunks; fancy—and not so fancy--cars crawling along crowded streets and freeways, stores too expensive for most people to even dream of walking into, tall buildings looking blindly outward, and those seemingly eternal sunny days with piercing blue skies.  The city of crowded health clubs, meditation and yoga sessions, the search for spirituality, and nearly any physical activity one could desire. The city of sandy beaches, never-sleeping ports where ships unload desired goods, fiery sunsets over the gently undulating Pacific Ocean, night clubs pulsating with every sort of imaginable music, restaurants from the very fancy to the coffee shops that feed the citizens, and the lights that darkness ushers in sparkling like jewels in a Queen’s velvet case.  The city of drugs, perversions, fetishes, and decadence.

The city of inhabitants going about their lives—most of them mundane and unaware of what has been emerging through the veil of Shadow. The evil that most people understand has been infused, and in some instances replaced, with an evil beyond most of the citizens’ comprehension.

The city of Los Angeles—City of Angels.  Or should that be Devils?

#3 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 20 March 2005 - 02:55 AM

Rhianna opened one dark brown eye then the other from her meditative state, and judged by the light coming in through the shuttered french doors in her bedroom that it was morning. Technically she didn't have to be up early today, as she was between movies at the moment, but she wanted to take care of some business in the city.

Stretching languidly under the thin silk sheet of the purest white that covered her, Rhianna yawned and ran her slender fingers through her long, brown, wavy hair. She enjoyed laying in her soft bed during her meditative periods.  A soft purring from her pillow caused a smile to cross the Rhianna's lips.  Tandros, her cat, was not yet prepared to greet the day.  Throwing back the covers, the elf slid gracefully out of bed feeling the coming warmth of the Los Angeles early summer sun and padded naked to the bathroom in her bedroom suite.

"Brrrr! I should really wear slippers," she mumbled to herself, forgetting that first step into the bathroom on the marble floor was always cold no matter what the weather outside. Wiggling her toes into the soft, luxurious forest green rug made her laugh, though. Taking a moment to water all the plants which hung in the bath area, Rhianna turned on the gold plated handle to run the hot water for her shower.


"Good morning, Helena," Rhianna greeted her cook as the elf took her place at the breakfast nook table. Her laptop, cell phone, appointment book, and other necessary items needed for the actress' busy life was already in place, laid out by her efficient and loyal personal assistant.

"I see Ashley is up already!"

"Good morning, Miss Sheridan," Helena replied smiling broadly, her round cheeks shining. She set down a cup of morning herbal tea in front of her employer, not seeing Rhianna's pointed ears but a human-looking woman who was a famous actress that Helena, her sister, and brother-in-law had the good fortune to work for.

Rhianna had tried to convince her house staff to call her by her first name, but all three insisted on referring to her as "Miss." "Yes, Miss Sheridan. He's been up for awhile now, but had some sort of "outfit crisis", as he called it, and had to go change before you awoke."

Trying not to laugh, as Ashley was the most devoted, efficient, and wonderful assistant to be born into this world, Rhianna nevertheless shook her head. He had been with the actress since her modeling days.

"Well, I'm fairly certain he'll manage to pull together something fabulous. He always does. Now, let me take a peek at what all I need to do today." Rhianna turned her attention to her day’s activities.

Outside old trees and tall hedges surrounded the large mansion and private land, cutting it off from view from anyone who might get too close.  Leo was already busy with giving his lady employer’s car a final polish for her drive down into the city.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 20 March 2005 - 02:59 AM.

#4 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 01:47 AM

With her straight hair held by back by a bandana wrapped around her head like a cap, Danica flowed smoothly from Downward Dog pose into Crow.  She appeared to hover effortlessly for a few deep breaths balancing on just her hands with her knees resting on either side of her elbows, then released her legs back onto the mat.  The soft, peaceful expression on her face never changed as she focused on the "now" of her life, stilling her thoughts. The remainder of her morning yoga asanas were completed in silence—inside her quiet mind as well as outside where the darkness was slowly slipping away once again.  Always up before the sun, the young woman faithfully followed her morning routine each day as part of her desire to create positive energy in her life—deep breathing, an hour of meditation, then yoga.

As she was picking up her mat one golden claw snagged into it and created a small slash. Danica sighed resignedly and stared at her hand, stroking the one-inch claw familiarly. “Just as well I buy several at once. Well, this one will last a while longer yet, I suppose.”

Walking tall and gracefully across the polished hardwood floor toward the window blinds at her balcony, Danica whisked them open and stood for a while worshiping the rising sun in all its powerful glory.  The sounds of the early morning commuters leaving the neighborhood began to float up from the street as Danica opened the window. She pulled off her bandana as she headed for the kitchen and ran her fingers gently through her hair as it cascaded down her back.  Although she couldn’t see the effects, the sun that was beginning to shine in through her window created a soft glow all through her gold and copper-colored hair.  

Suddenly the phone rang its gentle ring, almost as if there were small tinkling bells inside.  Smiling Danica picked up the phone and greeted her mother in Draconic.

“Oh, you should speak English! What if it hadn’t been me?  You should be more careful, sweetheart,” Mrs. Owens admonished her daughter as Danica gracefully pulled herself up to sit on a counter in the kitchen for a chat with her mother.  

“Mom, I knew it was you, don’t worry!  Besides no one else calls me this early in the morning,” Danica teased as she wiggled her toes, also painted gold to match her claws—she found the mundanes were ill at ease when her “nails” and toes were different colors—She sipped at her water bottle and continued chatting with her mother.  The young woman watched the blessed sun—the giver of life to the world—begin to flood her condominium with healing, healthy light.

"So, are you and dad coming out next week?"

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 23 March 2005 - 12:07 AM.

#5 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 07:33 PM

Zane woke up in a cold sweat, breathing heavily out in a long ‘sssssssssssssss’ sound. It had been the snake dream again. Shaking his bald head and wiping the sweat off his face with his hand, he felt the wetness even in his mustache and goatee.  Sitting up he swung his dark, muscular legs over the side of the bed, the covers rumpled and balled up where, during the night, he’d wrestled with……something in the dark recesses of his mind.  His feet thumped on the floor. Resting his forearms on his taut thighs, Zane gave a low groan before hauling himself up and into his work out shorts and t-shirt.  A quick sniff had told him they would last at least another day before being dumped into the laundry basket.  

Plodding through the still dark house, his dark skin making him nearly invisible except for his white t-shirt, Zane smelled the ocean as he opened the front door to retrieve the morning paper.  Looking upward he paused to watch the early morning sky still dark but with day ready to break through.  He could hear the surf pound gently down on the beach and looked forward to his morning run.  With a dull smack the paper landed on the junk-filled table for later as Zane practiced his throwing.  He quickly began to stretch out his strong, sleeping muscles.

Zane grabbed his sweat jacket, slipped it on, and then headed for the back door.  He could hear Misty, his two year old yellow lab, sniffing around at the outside screen.  After zipping up his jacket and pulling the hood up, he grabbed the dog’s leash and opened the back door to be greeted by soft woofs, much hand licking, and a couple of turns around the porch steps.

“Whoa!! Hey, there!  Morning, girl……hey, Misty, how’s my girl this morning?  Ready for a walk. Huh?” Zane laughed quietly in his deep, rumbling voice as the lab was barely able to contain herself in her excitement for him to attach her leash to her collar.


The faint tendrils of the palest orange and pink in the sky as he left had transformed into early morning by the time Zane and Misty returned from their morning run along Venice beach.  The pair headed up the different shaped flat stones in the grass that lead from the sidewalk to Zane’s small backyard. Everything in Venice was small, which made Zane look that much larger and more imposing.

“Good morning, Zane,” Mrs. Henderson from next door waved from her front garden.  “Lovely day already, isn’t it?”

Misty greeted the old lady happily and sniffed at her new flowers, while Zane talked of the weather with the spry old lady.  Soon he headed back into the house to eat a breakfast full of protein, shower, and begin another day of…….well, whatever it was that he did, Zane thought.  He had to keep some routine in his life—it seemed to be ingrained in him from his military days—but it had been hard these past couple of years.

Those were the days, Zane thought to himself as he headed the garage that was crammed up against the white stucco house but had no entrance into or out of the house.  At 6’ and all muscle, he barely fit between the inside wall and the door of his black Ford pickup.  Of course it didn’t help that his truck was huge, too.

“Yeah, those were the days,” Zane repeated to himself, staring at his dark hands, with their scaly looking backs, on the steering wheel in front of him as he sat in the garage, listening to the heavy motor of the truck rumble and wake up.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 29 May 2007 - 09:27 PM.

#6 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 05:37 PM

Adam felt the one small consolation about his situation was that the dank sewage tunnel he was currently splashing ankle-deep through eventually drained into the ocean and not the waste treatment plant.  The few rats, normal rats Adam thought gratefully, wiping the dripping blood from his forehead where he’d been slammed into a wall, that inhabited this tunnel stared boldly at him with small, glittering eyes.

The beam of his flashlight shone into beady eyes.  He kicked water with a heavy boot at a small group of three rats, huddled on the slim edge of the tunnel floor not covered with water, making them scurry out of the way with many squeaking protestations .

“Go on!  Go see what I left you, why don’t you!” he taunted the nasty, furry creatures with a slight grimmace, his voice echoing down the tunnel.

Reaching the steel ladder bolted to the tunnel wall that he’d come down sometime around three AM, Adam looked up into darkness and then back the way he came, also in to darkness.  The zombie he had successfully shot and decapitated, just in case, after days of tracking and quiet hunting, had put up quite a fight.  But the woman who had hired him was paying a tidy sum to erase her now-dead husband’s foray into necromancy.  Adam shook his head disdainfully as he began to climb the metal rungs, flicking off a bit of decayed flesh from the front of his torn shirt.  From the woman’s account of the “incident,” as she called it during their first meeting in her expensive home, her husband had suffered a heart attack the night he first caught sight of their son coming home from the local cemetery in his zombie state.  The one person who could control the zombie was dead.

Adam had thought the husband must have had some latent ability for spellcasting, had perhaps even been part Shadowkind and not realized it; although he made no mention of this to his client.  She just wouldn’t have understood and more questions would have to be answered by Adam—more than he was willing to go into.  Raising the dead was not something just anyone could do even with the right materials and spell.  Halfway up, the dark-haired man stopped and listened intently. His steel blue eyes narrowed.  Had he heard a noise from the direction of where he’d left the body of the former high school football captain, dead from overindulging in alcohol one night?  But no, once dead the zombie should stay dead—especially minus his head—so Adam continued climbing until he reached the round covering of the sewer entrance.

As he pulled himself out into the mostly deserted street of downtown Los Angeles, Adam gazed up into the early morning sky tinged with pale pink and orange.  There would be time to reach his house, run through a few martial arts routines, check his injuries, then shower and head out for his day job.  

“Private Investigator/Shadow Hunter for hire,” Adam said quietly as he replaced the metal cover with a clang and quickly headed for his van to get out of sight.  He was surely covered with bits of zombie flesh and goo, although this one hadn’t been a liquified zombie, for which Adam was eternally grateful. “Make my own hours and work as I please.”

Pulling out into the street and passing two homeless men shuffling along with squeaky shopping carts, Adam ran one hand through his short hair, creating odd-looking spikes with bits of blood remaining in his hair, then sighed slightly, his adrenaline dissipating. “Yep.  All on my own.  No one to answer to, nothing to be responsible for except myself…..”

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 23 March 2005 - 12:20 AM.

#7 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 05:40 PM

"You look marvelous this morning, Rhi," Ashley cooed as he made his entrance into the large, airy kitchen, sitting down across from his employer and friend. Helena served him the same breakfast as Rhianna, scrambled eggs with low fat cheese and sliced fruit on the side. Close friends called Rhianna, "Rhi" pronounced Rhee. "As is always the case. Why is it that you don't look a day older than when I met you eight years ago?"

Rhianna's personal assistant began his favorite repartee with his boss. "And I know for a fact you've not had any, shall we say, 'enhancements'."

"Ashley, you're impossible, you realize that don't you?" Rhianna laughed, the musical sound sending waves of love and comfort through both Ashley and Helena. Every day they fell more in love with Rhianna as a person and employer.

"I'm only 33," the elf lied easily, sometimes even she forgot she was really around 80 years old now. But this world she'd stumbled into ten years ago would view her as the young, vivacious, and beautiful 23 year old she appeared to be back then. It would take decades for her to even seem to age, which would cause problems eventually. But Rhianna had a plan for that--when the time came. For now she delicately ate her breakfast, sipping tea from a delicate china cup in between bites.

"And I see you managed to pull together something to wear, Ashley," Rhianna commented approvingly at the thirty year old man's choice of yet another trendy and "colorful" outfit.

Her own choice of clothes--snug beige, cotton slacks paired with a silk dusty green tank top tucked neatly in her slacks and matching light sweater and low-heeled beige sandals--came from one of her three walk-in closets full of clothes and shoes. Rhianna had to admit she loved clothes.

"I did, thank goodness," Ashley sighed gratefully, then got down to business, doing what he did best. "Now, here's your schedule, Rhi...," he took the laptop from his boss who was sort of poking at it cautiously. "9:00 AM, meeting with your agent regarding upping your salary for the re-occurring role in that television series."

"I honestly make enough money, you know. I wish Chuck would stop doing that," Rhianna was sometimes completely amazed at how much money she made for doing something she loved, not to mention the small fortune she'd amassed from investing, despite the recent downturn in the market the last several years.

"Yes, well, you deserve it, so be quiet and let your agent take care of it. All you have to do is sign the new contract," Ashly remarked efficiently. "Next is an interview for Mademoiselle magazine at Chuck’s office, then lunch with Phoebe."

"Yes!" Rhianna cheered suddenly, startling Helena into dropping an egg on the floor. "It's been simply ages since Phebes and I have seen each other." The smile stayed on the elf's face as she thought about her best friend of the last nine years. "What else?"

#8 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 07:27 PM

Having retired to Hawaii where the weather was mostly hot—all the Owens’ seemed to be slightly colder than everyone else no matter what the weather—and leaving their three daughters on the mainland, Mr. and Mrs. Owens were planning on a visit to California in the next couple of weeks.

“We’re hoping too, dear.  We want to visit your brother’s grave soon; it’s already two years since he was killed,” Mrs. Owens said to Danica quietly, although the young woman most certainly did not need reminding that her little brother had been killed when he was 18.

“I know, Mom.” Danica’s almond shaped, copper colored eyes filled with a few tears as she thought about her brother and his death.  Unconsciously stroking the small, gold sun medallion she always wore on a chain around her neck, Danica felt a surge of positive energy flow through her.  

The young woman with the dragon blood believed that people died when it was their time, no matter what the circumstances, and she accepted his death as meaning to be, but she still missed his laugh, his enthusiasm for life, and his teasing nature.  With the loss of her brother, Danica’s spirit for adventure seemed to diminish a little. Thinking of him made Danica shiver a bit and start to feel colder than she was already feeling. Sliding down off the counter and continuing to speak to her mother on the cordless phone, the young woman poked around the condo for her sweat jacket.  She slipped it on, juggling the phone first in one hand then the other and pressing it between her ear and shoulder in her maneuvers to get the garment on and warm up.

“Okay…then call me when you’ve decided. I have to get ready for work now.  Yes, my job at that “odd” school is still going just fine, Mom.  No, I don’t want to get back to “digging up bones and stuff”…..you know that’s not all I did!” Danica laughed at her mother’s last minute chatter and instructions on how to be safe in the city. “Okay…okay…yes, bye, Mom! I love you, too.”

Blowing out her breath gently as she returned the phone to its cradle, she smiled.  Talking to her devoted mother was quite an experience, Danica always thought as she made her way down the carpeted hall to the bathroom to get ready for another uneventful and normal day—just the way she liked them.

#9 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 08:20 PM

How I know what my characters know, how well they know “it,” and what their basic personality should be, etc.:

Spoiler: click to show/hide
I use the character guidelines out of the rule book for Urban Arcana which gives me their class of hero, skills, and talents, and I chose two advanced talents for the three new ones since Rhianna already had those.  I don’t just make up what my characters can do but pretty much go by the “rules”.  I don’t do anything with dice—that’s beyond me and not something I want to get involved with, so I guess I do make some modifications to the rules.  But I like the guidelines and knowing what my characters can and can’t do…it’s fun to create a character/personality around the basic template.

So….some examples:

Abilities:  I’m pretty sure these were dice rolls, but I could be wrong.  If I remember correctly, 12 is upper average (compared to a normal human) and 17 would be expert.  I just used the same numbers for all my characters but in different orders depending on what their class was.  This is Rhianna’s and her class is Charismatic Hero, so her highest score needs to be in Charisma.  This is how I determine how well my characters perform in their skills.

Intelligence: 15 (how well she learns and reasons, ability to analyze information)
Strength:  15 (her muscle and physical power)
Dexterity:  16 (measures her hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance – needed to be good shots with weapons or handle a vehicle fairly well)
Constitution: 12 (her health and stamina)
Wisdom:  13 (her willpower, common sense, perception, insight, keen senses, and intuition – relates to being in tune with and aware of one’s surroundings)
Charisma:  17 (her force of personality, persuasiveness, magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness – represents strength of personality, not merely how others perceive her in a social setting)

Skills: These are the skills that Danica has as a Smart Hero.  So her Intelligence score is 17 and the use of computers uses Int., which mean she can be an expert on computers.  Her Charisma is only 12, so she’s just average in the force of her personality, etc.  Just like a regular person.
Simple Weapons Proficiency
Computer Use (Int), Craft (electronic) (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Demolitions (Int), Disable Device (Int), Forgery (Int), Investigate (Int), Knowledge (Int), Navigate (Int), Profession (Wis), Read/Write Language, Repair (Int), Research (Int), Search (Int), Speak Language

Advanced Classes: One of Zane’s advanced classes is a Soldier, which gives a description and class skills.
Trained warrior, as good with a gun as he is with a knife or some melee weapon.  Came out of the military.  Learns how to defeat his enemies, to complete his missions, ultimately, to survive.  He is a well-rounded combat expert.

Class skills: Demolitions (Int), Drive (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (current events, history, popular culture, tactics) (Int), Listen (Wis), Navigate (Int), Profession (Wis), Spot (Wis), Suvival (Wis), Swim (Str)

And then there are descriptions of what each character species is like in general, so I also pull personality traits from that as well as physical appearance.  So there you have it!  I get to make some stuff up and be creative, but also have templates and guidelines to work with.

#10 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 02:09 AM

As he drove along Venice Boulevard, Zane left the small beach city behind as it quickly and seamlessly merged into the west part of Los Angeles.  Soon the smell of the ocean no longer reached into the open window of the black truck that sped toward the New Age church where Zane worked.  Taking a left a bit too fast, the motion caused his military dog tags hanging from the rearview mirror to swing wildly.  Zane grabbed them in a large hand to stop the back and forth motion and slowed his speed down.  In the split second before he let go, Zane wondered for the umpteenth time why he kept something that reminded him of that which he no longer could be a part.

Zane pulled into a parking spot in the back lot next to Neil’s station wagon.  Both usually arrived before 8:00 AM. Father Neil Mitchell--neo-pagan , do-gooder, preacher of peace, love, and harmony, and Zane’s boss—was just unfolding himself from inside his car and gave a cheerful wave to his young manager.

“Morning, Zane!  Coming to services today?” Father Mitchell asked, as he pulled his white robe over his head and pulled out the medallion around his neck so it lay over the robe.

“Not today but maybe soon,” Zane replied patiently, jumping down out of the truck, leaving his black sunglasses on the dash.  His black tennis shoes made a flat smacking sound on the asphalt.  He tucked his white, short sleeved shirt back neatly into his jeans.  “I’ve got too much work to do, Neil.”

The two men went through this ritual at least once or twice a week: Father Mitchell trying to convince his manager that belief in something greater than oneself—in the Church of Pelor’s case, the Shadowkind god of the sun Pelor himself—was beneficial in life; and Zane insisting that he was too busy but might check out a service at some point. To Zane belonging to something bigger than himself had ended when most of his Navy Seal team had been killed and himself injured enough to warrant an honorable discharge from the only life he’d known.

“Ah, well, soon is something anyway,” the tall, aging priest acquiesced with grace as Zane unlocked the large building’s ancient-looking dark wood back door.  There was no need for bars or metal screens on the doors of the cabal—no one was ever getting in without the right sort of key.  

“I’m glad you talked me into painting the offices and back rooms this pale green, Zane,” Father Mitchell kindly changed the subject. “It’s very relaxing for when our people need to see us.  Very relaxing,” he smiled serenely as he left Zane to enter his simple yet comfortable office to open the windows.  The cabal had windows everywhere to allow in as much of the life giving sun as possible.  

Zane furrowed his forehead slightly at “our people.” The Church of Pelor attracted two kinds of people: the Shadowkind and regular mundane members, most of whom believed the church’s teachings to be some exciting and original New Age spiritual idea. Knowing about the Shadowkind and embracing them were two different concepts; and Zane was quite skilled at pretending they mostly didn’t exist, despite being one himself.

#11 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 05:51 PM

As Adam sunk deeper into his mind during his chosen Tai Chi routine, his body became one with his mind, while everything around him—his neatly landscaped back yard, the warming sun over the shade tree he was practicing under, the soft wicking of early morning sprinklers of his tranquil neighborhood, the cool grass under his feet—disappeared except the present moment.  He was alert and awake to the moment practicing a moving yoga combined with meditation.  The heat from his strong, fluid movements formed a faint sheen of sweat over his chiseled, bare chest, a few drops trickling slowly down until they were stopped by the elastic waistband of his sweat shorts.  The makeshift bandage around his head that had stopped his cut from bleeding was nearly in need of changing.

After slowly, almost reverently placing his palms together in front of his chest and bowing his head, Adam let his exhaling breath cleanse his spirit and prepare him for the day. “Namaste,” he said quietly, ending with the Sanskrit greeting of respect used in yoga.

Walking to the back patio, the private investigator stooped down and picked up his dirty clothes from this morning’s hunt.  The shirt was unsalvageable, what with being torn in so many places not to mention covered with blood drops, so into the trash it went, but the pants were thrown onto the floor of the laundry room in the ‘have strange substances on them but still washable’ pile.  Adam always seemed to have a large pile of those clothes.

From the outside the house on Barklay Street was like all the other houses—neat, well-maintained, painted a reasonable color with a contrasting yet also reasonable colored trim around the windows and on the shutters and front door.  The trees that lined the street and provided shade in the quiet, old neighborhood were all tall and healthy. Inside there were either two or three bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, and backyard. On the inside however, the house was nearly spotless and took the term minimalist to an extreme.  The master bedroom had it’s own bathroom with low pile carpet—beige in Adam’s house—that was still fairly clean thanks to Adam’s habit of undressing on the tile in the kitchen or laundry room before moving about the house if he had been out shadow hunting.  It was toward this room that he strode barefoot and in his shorts.

The shower water came out hard and hot, hot enough to wash off the grime of the sewers, the blood of the battle, and the sweat of his morning workout.  Adam began to hum to himself as the faintly pink water turned clear.  After a good scrub of his body and hair, Adam stood with a towel wrapped around his waist in front of his mirror, leaned forward and examined the wound just below his hairline.  It wasn’t all that deep and would probably heal fine on its own, but just to be sure he applied a bit of some magical salve that he’d purchased.  Watching, as it never ceased to amaze him, Adam saw the edges of his wound begin to seal together in rapid healing.  It would leave a scab for awhile until that dried up and fell off, but overall he was good to go for the day.

Feeling rather good, despite having had to leave the zombie in the sewer as he had no way to transport a dead zombie back to its mother, Adam whistled on his way out to the pale sun lit bedroom to get dressed.  First he donned underwear and brown socks and a pair of brown, casual slacks, then hunted around for an decent shirt in the closet.  He found a blue one that wasn’t too badly wrinkled but ended up knocking a box off the shelf above it as he grabbed for the shirt.  With the shirt on but unbuttoned, Adam bent down to retrieve the box and spilled items.  His hand wrapped around a piece of cloth with something inside.

“Don’t do it, man. Don’t open it,” he pleaded with himself, knowing full well what he was about to do.  

As Adam unwrapped the Chicago Police Department badge his heart gave a lurch and a sadness flowed over the ex-cop.  

“That was a long time ago now,” he remarked to the air.  “A time best not remembered.”

#12 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 11:40 PM

Standing out in the bright, early morning sunshine, Rhianna Sheridan stood basking in the warmth.  She winked at the three dryads, who’d taken up residence in the trees surrounding her house, as the tree sprites played hidden away in the foliage. Her Astin-Martin Vanquish stood ready for her on the freshly swept stone driveway. While Ashley hesitated about sliding into the two-door luxury sports car, Rhianna slipped right in and started up the purring engine.

"Well, are you going to get in or shall I leave you behind?" Rhianna shouted out the open passenger door while her assistant stared inside. The silver car gleamed on the outside and the palest blue leather interior beckoned its passengers to settle in comfortably.

But Ashley was having none of the lure. "I don't know...you always drive so fast. Maybe I should just take my car and meet you there."

Rhianna revved the engine and slipped on her faux-leather, light weight, summer driving gloves. "Have it your way! I'll go by myself then!"

"Ooooooooh, okay, wait for me!" Ashley eased himself down into the passenger seat and buckled his seat belt quickly. Holding onto the sides of the leather seats he braced himself.

"Have I ever had an accident? No. Have I ever come near having an accident? NO! So relax and enjoy the ride!"  Rhianna waved to Leo as he stood safely out of the way.

Donning her sunglasses against the morning glare of the bright sun, Rhianna slid the car into gear and zipped down the driveway and out onto the private road. Once she hit the main road that led down through the secluded neighborhood, the elf began to take the curves a bit faster, smiling and having the time of her life. Somehow the car glided along with ease, never once losing traction on the road.

Ashley practically held his breath the entire way until they reached the more populated area of Hollywood Hills and then the freeway that led into Los Angeles. He swore under his breath and knew he was aging every time he rode with his boss. He fanned himself with his hand so he wouldn’t faint.

"This is the life, isn't it, Ashley? Fast cars and winding roads...but damn, here's the freeway.  Now we sit with the rest on the straight and narrow."

Rhianna still had plenty of time for her 9AM meeting with her agent...well, plenty of time considering how she drove. She turned up the CD player while they traveled into the city.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 03 April 2005 - 12:21 AM.

#13 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 25 March 2005 - 12:15 AM

“Gooooooood morning, Danica!” a high-pitched male voice came from behind her as Danica faced the door on the common brick walkway to secure the top lock.  She heard the bolt click into place securely, triggering the arcane lock spell she’d paid a mage to place on her door for protection.  He’d included the windows in the spell for free.

“Good morning to you, Sean,” Danica replied, smiling as she turned to look downward at the gnome from three doors down, dressed in his flashy, expensive suit and carrying his smaller sized briefcase.  He came up to just above her waist but had more energy and “presence” than most normal sized humans.

Danica’s pale rust colored blouse paired with light gray, light-weight crop pants caused the gnome to shake his head.  He thought the young woman gorgeous—and never failed to tell her this fact that she seemed bound to ignore--, but she insisted on dressing down.  Danica rolled her eyes at his expression.

“I suppose you don’t approve of my shoes, either?” she asked teasingly, holding up one foot encased in a flat rust-colored, closed-toe shoe.

“Darling…….sweetheart,” the dark-tanned gnome began enthusiastically.  “Look at you…you’re wearing your hair in an old lady bun, boring clothes, and sensible shoes. Boring, love.  Boring!  Sexy clothes is what you need!" Sean winked mischieviously.  "And a little makeup would bring out those lovely dragon eyes, too!”

“Shhhh.” Danica laughed then shook her head.  She didn’t mind Sean’s teasing, but she’d never been one to “present” herself to the world, preferring instead to blend in with the mundanes just because that is how she wanted to live her life.  She liked being ordinary and free from the attention of people, especially men.

Deciding to change the subject, Danica gestured to the gnome’s short, neatly trimmed beard.  “I see you decided not to shave it off.  I’m glad—it suits you.”

Stroking his beard and grinning, Sean nodded his little head vigorously.  “It’s very stylish these days, yes?  Most gnomes have beards, I know; but I think I pull it off just a little better. I was thinking of blond stripes, though. What do you think?”

Danica laughed heartily at Sean’s love of style and flash.  Both the young woman and the gnome turned as Mrs. Heartcliff came out of her door down the walkway for her morning walk with Scooter, the little dog that yapped a mile a minute.

“Well, I’m off to another day at the office to improve on technology and make money, love.  Enjoy your day!”  Sean blew Danica a kiss from his stubby hand and strode off, winking at Mrs. Heartcliff as he passed.  The woman nodded politely and Scooter barked.

Danica headed along the walkway toward the parking garage more slowly, swinging her purse over her shoulder and getting a better grip on the books in her arms and her own carrying case.  She, too, greeted her neighbor with the energetic dog.

“He’s so cheerful….for a little person, isn’t he?” the middle-aged woman commented as Danica passed her.

#14 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 01:42 PM

“$1000……$450……,” Zane murmured as he finished entering numbers from yesterday’s donated checks and cash into the whirring adding machine and watched the numbers add up on the narrow roll of paper being spit out at the top.  He tore off the strip of paper and rubber banded it around the pile of stamped checks and neatly ordered cash.  He would
drop everything off at the bank later today before it closed for the weekend.  

Leaning back from his desk, Zane reached back to the shelf for the zippered pouch and placed the bank deposit inside.  Sounds of the other staff members arriving in the parking lot floated in through his open office windows as he secured the pouch in the safe in the corner of the room.  Soon the main sanctuary and classrooms of the cabal would be open for morning services and the various classes and workshops that were held throughout the day and evening.  Along with these services, all the Churchs of Pelor were involved with local efforts to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and raise money for any good work that the lead priest thought worthy and legitimate.

The phone rang suddenly and Zane picked up the receiver, tucking it between his ear and left shoulder. “Zane Merrick here.  Oh, hey, Father Adair.  How’re you? Yeah? I’m good, thanks.  Yeah, it’s going to be a hot one today…again!” Zane laughed. “I’m still coming, you bet.  I’ll have my truck filled with donations you can give out to your people.  Oh, I’d say I’ll leave around nine…..I have to run by the bank, then I’ll be on my way. Right.  Uh huh.  You, too.  See you then.”

Hanging up with the priest of the downtown Church of Pelor, Zane punched in the inside code for the small warehouse at the end of the building to let Jakob know he’d be pulling his truck around for the boxes marked for downtown to be loaded.  Although he was helpful in the donation room, Jakob’s mood level was usually hard to judge at any give moment, so Zane preferred to warn the man of any impending visits to his territory.

* * * * * *
Zane was helping the tall man who worked in the donation loading area pile boxes and bags in the back of the black pickup and noticed again how unhealthy he looked.  The gray pallor of his skin made it seem like the man never went out in the sun; he certainly kept to himself around the church.  Zane had heard some of the members who spotted him remark that Jakob reminded them of an ancient Neanderthal man, what with his sloping forehead and jaw that stuck out.  Jakob opened his mouth to yawn widely and his large teeth were quite visible.

“Yer loaded up. Now get out of the way,” Jakob mumbled irritably to Zane, giving the truck a slap and lumbering back into the darkness of the donation room.

The unfortunate looking man turned back briefly just as Zane looked up. Jakob gave a slight grimmace as Zane jerked his head slightly, caught off guard.  Then Jakob turned with a ‘hrmph’ and disappeared between crates and boxes piled high.  Zane’s mental block that helped him to avoid seeing Shadowkind distracted him once again from Jakob’s true nature of half-orc.

#15 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 02:48 PM

“What!  Oh, you have got to be kidding with that……..,” Adam yelled at the politician being interviewed on WNN, the national news station, then realized his oatmeal was about to spill onto the carpet.

Standing in front of the television was Adam’s usual spot to eat breakfast while he caught up on the local, national, and world news; but his enthusiasm for responding and trying to eat sometimes made for a dangerous combination.  He managed to keep his breakfast from ending up on the carpet which, for the another day, remained clean.

* * * * * *

Following several cars behind the dark gold BMW, Adam glanced down at the open briefcase on the passenger seat of his van.  Gray, nondescript, and a safe distance behind, Adam could easily follow the well-dressed man without him spotting Adam.  The private investigator found that most regular citizens were so involved with their own selves and lives that they never realized they were being trailed.  An 8 X 10 picture of Mr. Joseph Randolph, just coming out of an expensive restaurant alone but smiling looked back at him.  Well, he hadn’t known the other day that his photo was being taken of course, but Adam had caught him feeling happy about something.

He only hoped it wasn’t what his wife, one of his current clients, was suspicious of and was paying Adam a great deal to find out.  Divorce could be a very emotional and heart wrenching event; although, in this case, extremely expensive for Mr. Randolph as well.  It was Adam’s hope that Mr. Randolph was not having the affair his wife was suspicious of and that their marriage wasn’t about to take a turn down that painful road….

“I’m sorry, Adam, but I just want out.  I want the divorce,” Shayna Kenton announced, holding the documents toward her husband, her hand shaking slightly. “I never know if you’re coming home after work…,”

“Sweetheart, please…I’m a cop.  There are risks, yes, but you know it’s what I love.  You knew that going into this marriage,” Adam was fighting back the tears of losing his wife as they sat at a quiet bar table in downtown Chicago , but he couldn’t give up his job—he just couldn’t. It gave him something to belong to, something to fight for, a way to protect others.

“It’s not just that…some of the things you used to talk about…and you spend too much time on the job,” Shayna began, then stopped. “Well, I can’t handle it anymore.  I’ve made up my mind.  Here are the papers…my lawyer will call you.  I suggest you get a lawyer of your own.  Kira and I are packed, we’ll be at my folk’s.  Don’t make this harder than it is, Adam.  Please.”

Adam had made the mistake of trying to tell his wife about Shadowkind and his childhood, but quickly stopped when it was clear she did not have the open mind he believed her to have during their courtship.  He had stopped but felt that a part of his past, and himself, was being denied expression.  Perhaps he had pulled away a bit and delved more into his job than he meant to.

Adam nearly missed seeing Mr. Randolph make a right hand turn, but managed to move over and stay a two cars behind.  He focused his attention back to his surveillance and away from his painful past.

#16 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 02:51 PM

By the end of the telephone meeting between her agent, Chuck, and the producers of the television series in which Rhianna had a recurring role in, the producers had willingly agreed to increase Rhianna's salary by, well, a great deal. She agreed to work a bit more now and then in return.

"After your interview with the magazine, why don't we go over some scripts," Chuck suggested once the phone call had been concluded. "There are several of the fantasy type that are so popular now--witches, vampires, fantasy world ones."

"Not on your life!" Rhianna exclaimed, startling Ashley out of his concentration with the laptop concerning her remaining appointments next week. "I have lunch with Phoebe, then the day and weekend are mine!"

Ashley was headed off for a few days of vacation starting this afternoon which gave Rhianna a chance to be alone. Although her assistant was invaluable to her, and Rhianna could not function in her chosen career without him--well, not without difficulty--she had to send him off every few months to give herself some free time.

"Send them to the house, Chuck....as usual. I'll read them later when I have time. And don't start with the 'you need to keep your face in the public eye at all times' bit either....it won't hurt to take a small break."

The elf laughed. Her agent and her assistant were devoted to her and only wanted the best for Rhianna, but they were so out of tune with the Shadowkind that they'd vehemently deny it if anyone told them their employer was an a very charismatic elf. So, Rhianna knew her success in this world would last as long as she wished it too.

“Well, where are they?” Rhianna inquired about the magazine reporter and photographer as she pushed her wavey brunette hair of her shoulders. “I have a snooty magazine to impress now!" Rhianna laughed and watched as Chuck rose, shaking his head, and went to a smaller office where he’d had the two Mademoiselle people wait.

#17 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 02:53 PM

The dark blue Nissan Altima, it windows rolled down to let in the morning heat, zipped along the streets of Santa Monica and carrying Danica toward work.  Knowing she didn’t really have to be there until 9:30, the young woman with dragon blood in her veins decided to swing by and discuss something with Father Mitchell at the Church of Pelor.  It was a quick drive into the west part of Los Angeles toward the cabal.  Tapping her fingers to the radio station, Danica sang along as she made her way south.  

After driving up the short driveway past the few trees that led to the church, Danica was glad to see the front parking lot contained only a few cars so far this morning—morning meditation services didn’t begin for a while yet.  Danica had attended during the day occasionally and found the those classes and services had more Shadowkind than mundanes.  Only the good Shadowkind or those who needed assistance seemed drawn to the Church of Pelor and its beliefs—those who wished to do others harm, and Danica knew they existed but not to what extent, tended to avoid the churches at all costs.

Danica pulled her car into a spot near the front door. She headed up the steps to the soothing white and tan building with the large brass sun-shaped symbol of the sun god himself above the front, glass doors.  The blinds were drawn up in welcome—although later when the sun shone too bright and hot, they would be lowered.  Even Pelor could be too powerful for his followers sometimes.  Lucky to be on a small plot of land and surrounded by grass, trees, and flowers, the church was truly a sanctuary and a lovely place to just relax in.

“Morning, Kiki.  Is Father Mitchell available to talk?” Danica approached the young, redheaded woman behind the welcome counter in the lobby.  The light blue carpet was inlaid with symbols of Pelor, comfortable straight-backed chairs lined the long narrow room, and pamphlets and books were arranged neatly in the book rack against the wall near the receptionist’s counter.

Kiki looked up from her work and smiled. “Danica! Hi there.  Yeah, go on back.  You know the way.  I’m sure Father Mitchell will be glad to see you.  I’ll buzz him to let him know  you’re on the way.”

Waving in thanks, the gold and copper haired girl pushed through the doors that led into the main hallway.  To the right were the double doors leading into the large sanctuary room where the services were held, while to the left were several numbered doors.  Danica walked past those doors, turned a corner to the right and headed down another hallway with more doors—all rooms used for various classes.  Finally she reached the back of the cabal and pushed through free hanging yellow beads that clinked lightly against each other as they were released.  Her shoes made a slight noise on the tiled floor of the office area.

Knock, knock. Father Mitchell? Are you here?” Danica poked her head inside the office and found the priest just standing up to greet her.

“Danica, my dear, do come in!” Father Mitchell took Danica’s hands in his own, leaned forward, and kissed her gently on one cheek. “Have you finished the book I gave you already?”

Danica laughed as Father Mitchell waved her to the couch.  The young woman sat down sideways with her back facing the door, and Father Mitchell took the opposite end of the couch. “Oh, my goodness no!  That will take me a bit longer to read, I’m afraid.  The world’s religions aren’t an easy subject to just skim through.”

The summer air wafted in through the open windows and brought with it the muffled sounds of the cars that trundled along the streets beyond the trees surrounding the church.

“Well, then what brings you here? Although I am never adverse to your just dropping by for a chat,’ Father Mitchell winked, then looked seriously at her.  “But you’ve come with a purpose, I can tell.”

“I have….and I’ll get right to the point, since I do have to get to work and I know you have services in a bit,” Danica said in a straightforward manner.  “I have something at home that I need to identify, and I know that you, well, might know people who can tell me more.”

Danica knew that all the priests of the independent Church’s of Pelor had certain Pelor-granted powers and that there was more to the priests than met the average—or even Shadowkind—eye.  Father Mitchell looked at her curiously and was intrigued.  

“Please, do go on. This sounds most fascinating.”

“Two years ago, when I was on my last dig in Egypt, we came upon some a small tomb with the usual mummy in the sarcophagus, canopic jars, a bit of treasure, and so forth.  I was poking around in a corner, alone…..,” Danica paused remembering back to the dry, hot pyramid and how exiting it was. Then she went on to describe the long tube made from black alabaster which she’d found buried with the ancient Egyptian artifacts.  She’d known it didn’t really belong there, just like she knew that it shouldn’t fall into mundane hands.  There was an odd sort of writing, or symbols, on the sealed tube that just didn’t belong in the era it in which  was supposedly buried.

“Hmmm, sounds very interesting…,” Father Mitchell said, intrigued.  The Shadowkind human leaned forward a bit.  “And so you…….?” he inquired with a twinkle in his eye, knowing Danica as he did.

“I…..well, I slipped it into my bag.  If the others had gotten hold of it, it would have caused too much confusion which would have lead to many questions.  I just sensed something about the tube…it wasn’t made by mundanes,” she finally admitted. “And I haven’t been able to find out any information about it at work.  Our resources are extensive for basic information, but even we don’t have everything on Shadow artifacts.”

Father Mitchell expressed a desire to see this alabaster tube, to which Danica agreed to bring when she could.  For now it was hidden away, sometimes remembered and sometimes forgotten by it’s latest owner.  The young woman stood up and prepared to leave, turning the conversation to a question about a class on advanced meditation to be held at the church.  Father Mitchell glanced up to the door behind her and gave a small wave, presumably to someone; but when Danica turned around the doorway was already empty.  She heard the sound of the back door closing with a click of the latch.

#18 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 02:57 PM

About 9:00 Zane passed by Neil’s office on the way out, after having returned to gather up the deposit for the bank, to wave goodbye.  He’d heard a woman’s voice—a very pleasant and peaceful voice—and didn’t want to interrupt.  As he waved to Neil, Zane took in the gold and copper colored hair done up in a neat, simple bun of the woman to whom Neil was talking.  Then the tall, African American man was out the back door and heading for his truck full of donations.

After a quick trip into the bank, the drive over to downtown Los Angeles took about 45 minutes due to the heavy traffic on the freeway.  It seemed that more and more cars appeared on the freeway on a daily basis and turned the supposedly high speed method of getting around into nothing more than parking lots that inched painfully along.  With his dark sunglasses on, Zane kept himself occupied by planning his next backpacking foray into one of California’s many wilderness areas, probably Sequoia or Kings Canyon further north.

Just as Zane was imagining the immense solitude and physical exertion he would encounter, the off ramp for the downtown branch of the Church of Pelor came up on him, and he signaled to exit the freeway.  The area became more run down and in need of repair as Zane made his way through this part of the city.  The church itself bordered several areas of differing socio-economic levels, but all of them were in need of the services of the cabal.  After Zane turned the corner that would take him to the driveway of the church, three young gang members blocked his entrance about 100 yards before the church’s property.  

Although none of them would admit it to the others, they were scared to enter the vicinity of the church.  No fence of any kind surrounded the church’s buildings or property, yet they never had problems of loitering or theft.  Another friend of the three young men, who were more wannabe gang members than hardened criminals, had spotted Zane’s impressive black truck when he turned the corner and noticed the variety of saleable items in the back.  He’d called his three partners on a cell phone to warn them.

Stopping the truck quickly so as not to hit any of the youths, Zane sighed and stared out through his dark glasses.  Taking them off slowly, his face expressionless, the large, ex-Navy Seal lay then on the dash.  He watched the boys draw knives in broad daylight, although they kept them concealed in front of their bodies.  The dark-haired one motioned Zane to get out of the truck.  

“Man,” he drew out the word, eyeing Zane as the large black man stepped down from the vehicle, his white, short sleeved shirt and jeans giving him a look that claimed the man didn’t belong in this part of town. “We sure do like this trunk you got here.  Hand ‘em over, ” he demanded, gesturing with his sharp knife to the keys Zane has slipped into his pocket.

His two friends laughed and began to spread out around Zane, who’d closed the driver’s door and was standing with his large arms crossed over his chest.  Since they had the knives, and were rather cocky and arrogant, the young men had no fear of the large man in front of them.  Besides, they had nothing to lose and much to gain by acquiring this fine truck and the items in the back.

“Don’t do this.”  Zane was not asking or pleading but telling the boys outright.  While not afraid, Zane was angry……angry that the children of today were being driven to violence, theft, and other illegal activities for a multitude of reasons stemming from society’s inability to take care of its people.  “First, you don’t have to steal and threaten people to make something of yourselves in life.”

The boys laughed harshly and glanced at each other.  “Are you crazy, man?  Just hand over the damn keys and shut up!”

“Look I work at a youth club sponsored by the Church of Pelor.  We can…..,” Zane began, hoping to get them to meet him at the club later on; but he knew they probably wouldn’t.  

“Hey, we’ll kill you right here if we have to.  Now shut up, hand over the damn keys, or you’ll find your guts spilling out into the street!” The dark-haired leader hissed angrily, bored at being thwarted by this rich man in front of him.

Dedicated to helping the kids of the inner cities and poorer areas to break free of their environment, Zane was far from naïve about what reality had in store for the kids and that many could not be reached.  He decided his first plan was going to fail.  Now the ex-soldier got angry at the boys.

“I don’t think so.  You see, you don’t want to mess with me,” he replied calmly and truthfully, not moving an inch or even uncrossing his arms.  

While he didn’t threaten them, the boys began to sense that Zane could, and would, beat the crap out of them despite the knives.  But the leader was now angry himself and moved toward Zane threateningly.  But what he saw made him stop short and back away, startled.  His two partners also saw Zane’s dark brown eyes turn black as night and glisten as if wet.  Then his black irises seemed to grow wider and wider until they obscured the whites of his eyes.

“Screw you, man!” the dark-haired leader yelled and backed away quickly. Then all three boys were walking quickly backwards, trying not to trip over each other, still staring at Zane. The were scared but unwilling to actually run.  Finally, one turned to bolt away, and the rest gave in.

Blinking his eyes, aware of what the boys had seen but not why his eyes did that, the snakeblooded human dropped that mental veil again and told himself the boys had been scared off by his words and size.  Nothing more.

“Damn.  They’ll end up in jail or dead someday,” he said to himself, as he climbed back into the truck to drive the final yards to the Church of Pelor to deliver the donations.

#19 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 02:59 PM

For the next couple of hours Adam tailed his target throughout the man’s morning routine.  The private investigator knew from his time gathering information on Mr. Randolph’s habits, that Friday mornings were spent away from his office, if possible.  His breakfast at Monroe’s had not involved another woman but three other equally well-off men who could afford to eat at the expensive restaurant and be away from work.  Luckily, the suit jacket that Adam kept in the van went with his brown pants and had been acceptable enough to enter the restaurant. He’d sat in the corner in back of his target, keeping his head down over newspaper but keeping an eye on the suspected philanderer.

Later at the health club, Adam was able to secure a guest pass to have a look around with the guidance of a lovely young woman.  He’d managed to convince this young woman to allow him to wander around randomly with her explaining as they went.  In this way he was able to keep an eye on Mr. Randolph during a long game of racquetball and a workout in the weight room.  However, Adam was fairly certain the man wouldn’t be able to meet for an affair during his time in the steam room and shower—although, one never knew--and so waited out front as if perusing through the various brochures on the health club’s facility and ammenties.  Either way, Adam wasn’t going to bother trailing someone into a steam room at this point.

Finally, as Adam was beginning to get bored of Mr. Randolph’s, so far, ordinary Friday, the man arrived at his office in Beverly Hills.  Adam decided to head back to his own office, write up what information he’d gathered so far, and report to Mrs. Randolph by phone.  He’d schedule another surveillance next week on Wednesday evening, a time when Mr. Randolph apparently had more free time away from the office.

#20 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 10:34 PM

Laughing with the magazine reporter who had interviewed her and waving to the photographer, Rhianna watched them leave her agent’s office later than anticipated. It was now nearly noon. But she'd given a good--in showbiz standards at any rate,-- interview, saying a great deal about her career and less about herself. By now the elf knew how to play the game.

And her career was more of a game to her than anything--Rhianna just happened to have the talents from her former reality that corresponded with the talents of acting over here. The fact that she was "magically" endowed with certain beauty, charms, skills, and elven talents just made it that much easier to succeed in this world. She remembered that she’d been a moderate success back home, but not many memories of her previous life remained.

The dark haired elf didn’t really have a purpose in life, except doing what she could for the environment.  So she threw herself into acting and creating and being happy but never really feeling fulfilled.

"Ashley, my dear, here is where we part. You have a wonderful time...." Rhianna was saying as they came out into the early afternoon to the sounds of traffic traveling up and down the street. There was a car waiting at the curb for her assistant to whisk him away to LAX to catch his plane.

"Now, all your appointments are in your planner....in the laptop. Please remember how to use it!" Ashley interrupted his boss, handing her the laptop in its case and staring hard at her, his hands on his slender hips. "Don't forget about the formal dinner later in the week. It's very important that you be there!"

Rhianna laughed as her assistant looked at her imploringly. She'd only missed one important function before, and it had not been the end of the world despite what Ashley imagined.

"I know, I know....now go before...." She was shooing the anxious man toward the waiting car.

"OH!! And please remember to...."

"ASHLEY! SHUT UP AND GET IN THE CAR!" the slender, brunette woman finally yelled good-naturedly, causing first shock then a small grin to form on the blond man's face.  Several well-dressed ladies walking past gave small gasps and hurried along.

Ashley took a deep breath. "Right.....vacation...time off......don't think about work......Oh, but there is that....."

Rhianna shut the door in his face and waved cheerfully as the car pulled away. The last thing she saw was her wonderful, organized, and anxious assistant looking out the rear window.

"Ahhhhh, sweet freedom to be alone," she whispered, grinning. No one bothered Rhianna on the street despite her beauty and obvious familiarity to those who saw her. Who didn't know Rhianna Sheridan from her modeling days, countless hit movies, television appearances, and interviews? Mostly no one. But somehow she was left alone once she donned her sunglasses to protect her green eyes against the sun’s reflection on the sidewalk and walked to the parking structure to retrieve her car.

Lunch with Phebes was going to be the best part of the day.

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