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Mysteries Infinite: The Palace of Fortune [IC]

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The Luxury is a marvel of modern architecture. A tremendous tower reaching towards the heavens is the first thing to catch your eye as you enter the dome. Adorning the tower is a giant, neon symbol of a royal crown, placed on top of the word "Luxury." In front of you, a marble staircase and ramp encircle a majestic fountain, featuring a noble king outstretching his hand in welcome.

The soothing majesty of the building quickly wears off, however, when you notice the blood red reflection in the water of the fountain - the color of the sky and your surroundings. In every direction, flames have encircled and entrapped the building. Oddly enough, you do not feel particularly hot, which would certainly be the case if a towering inferno that could blot out the very sky was this close to you. It is simply more warning that you should best be on your guard.

The windows of the towering building seem lifeless - a disconcerting observation, since the number of visitors said to be in the casino numbered in the thousands. There are lights coming from the glass doors at the front, even though the crimson dome would have surely cut off external access to power. Strange things are afoot indeed.

Tread carefully, heroes.

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Kid Cthulhu's eye widened at the sight of the mystic flames. One thought surfaced to his mind. "Crap, I hope this wasn't my fault. Freedom Angel might banish me. His head began to spin and he walked inside the casino. "I need time to think about this...wish I was old enough to drink.

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The sliding glass door automatically opens to you as you approach. A cool, artificially filtered air blows past you, escaping into the surreal landscape.

You have entered The Lobby. A beautiful stone centerpiece built around a rather comfortable-looking throne takes up most of the space center space. The whole display is roped off with red, velvet ropes and a plaque finishes the artistic piece. The plaque Reads:

Welcome to The Luxury

Where you are Royalty

Up ahead, you see row upon row of electronic slot machines and gambling tables of all sorts. The tell-tale plinking and ringing sounds indicate that some of the slot machines are currently being played, although a cursory glance reveals no one.

The patterned marble floor mosaic flows around the piece, with a golden mosaic path branching off in various directions A sign hanging above you labels the paths.

  • ↠Reception
    ↑→ Hotel Tower, Gaming floor
    ↑↠Attractions, Shopping
    → Parking

Despite the indication that the Gaming Floor is towards a specific direction, any direction beyond the lobby is lined with various electronic gambling machine. This place is a labyrinth, and it would be easy to get lost.

Despite the number of people that were supposed to be in the casino and hotel at this time, you see no one and hear no one.

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Last thing he knew, Nick was trying to decide whether to tough it out in the withering energies of the crimson font, retreat for the relative safety of reality, or seek out the collapsing bastion of light. Now it appeared the choice had been made for him; the next thing he knew, he was stumbling over the plush carpet cast down on the lobby floor. As he came to his senses, he took a look around the place. "Yeah, that consumption sure is conspicuous," he said to himself. "Now where did everyone else go, and where's that crying child the Fates talked about?"

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It seems that around this place, the sounds of the dead are more silent than usual. This is both a blessing and a curse, for while it is difficult to ascertain clues about the enigmatic girl in this place, it is also quite likely that the people in the casino are still alive for the moment...

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Last thing he knew, Nick was trying to decide whether to tough it out in the withering energies of the crimson font, retreat for the relative safety of reality, or seek out the collapsing bastion of light. Now it appeared the choice had been made for him; the next thing he knew, he was stumbling over the plush carpet cast down on the lobby floor. As he came to his senses, he took a look around the place. "Yeah, that consumption sure is conspicuous," he said to himself. "Now where did everyone else go, and where's that crying child the Fates talked about?"

KC blinked. "Nick! Thank God there's someone else here." He rushed up to Nick, catching his breath. "This is seriously freaking me out. I hope I didn't do all this. You know. If this is my fault, I want you to be the one to kill me. Not that it was my fault. What?" KC took a deep breath, and calmed down. "Now the first thing, other than the dome that's kind of freaking me out is obvious. Where'd everyone go?"

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"No idea," Nick said. "Good news is, there's no dead voices here, which means chances are the guests are still alive, wherever they are. Bad news is, I don't really have many ways to track whatever's going on here,"

He turned to Kid Cthulhu. "I did consult the Fates before I came in here, though," he said. "Someone made a deal with something for this -- a child, probably, missing someone. There's definitely power bound up in here, and a number of individuals behind it. We've just gotta find the folks involved so we can figure out what the hell's going on."

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KC nodded. "Sounds like a plan, Nick. The thing is...why would they stay in their own mystic bubble? They'll probably be outside of it, or something. Maybe even far off. Maybe if we look hard enough, we can find a weak point in it. KC started walking into the lobby, taking a look around the place. The location made sense- a highly populated building with lots of good hostages. The question that was on KC's mind was troubling him. What could be powering such a huge dome? Such a bubble would take a huge strain on a single wizard to maintain.

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Your conversation is interrupted by a peculiar sound. Echoing over the ambient noises of the casino and your own voices, footsteps on the marble floors echo throughout the Casino entrance with unnatural clarity.

The footsteps are generated by a pair of sparkling, brightly polished tuxedo shoes, worn by a tall man in fancy evening wear, complete with a large top hat. However, much of your attention is drawn to his head: a perfectly round sphere with no visible ears and a grin that stretches half of the head's circumference. His eyes are similarly large and perfectly round, but the pupils themselves are exceptionally tiny given the proportions. Underneath the hat there appears to be a tuft of carefully styled golden hair, sporting a plastic sheen that is untroubled by the mortal concerns of hat hair. He is a strange-looking fellow indeed.

With a fine white glove, the strange visitor takes off his hat and bows low to the ground towards you. "Ah! Esteemed guests. The Master welcomes you, gentlemen." Finishing his bow with a flourish, he stands tall, firmly placing a hand on his lapel.

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Nick was momentarily stunned by the strange visage. Then again, he'd caught Hel before she'd gotten her makeup on. He'd seen weirder.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance," he said. "Name's Nick Cimitiere. I've got to say, you've got a good thing going here. But I'm afraid I don't have the acquaintance of the Master..."

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The grin on the strange man's face never wavers as he speak. "A pleasure Mr. Cimitiere. We are certainly glad you could make it."

Fixing his bow tie and golden cufflinks, the thing before you flicks its wrist, producing a card in what appears to be a simple trick of sleight of hand. Making assumptions in a realm of magic is often dangerous, however...

"Unfortunately, as I'm sure you understand, The Master is unable to properly introduce himself at the moment. I'm certain he would like to greet you personally when he has a chance. As for this humble servant, please call me Mr. Suite."

Again, the creature known as Mr. Suite bows to you. While the giant, grinning facial expression of Mr. Suite continues to not change, his eyes show the distinct glimmer of pride as he finishes his bow. "The Master has charged me as the host of this establishment for the time being. It is my sole duty and purpose to ensure that you are taken care of."

Mr. Suite's speech is light, careful, and confident - the sort that a normal person would need a great deal of practice to perfect.

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KC looked to Nick, and then at Mr. Suite. Curiouser and curiouser. "Who is your master, anyway? Is he the one that has this bubble around the casino?" KC curled his hands into fists. "What the hell is going on here?" He was admitedly freaking out a little bit. He felt trapped in the sphere, and his heart was racing in his chest. If there was a way out, KC was determined to find it as quickly as possible.

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Mr. Suite chuckles. "It would be terribly presumptuous of this humble servant to believe that I could properly introduce the Master within his very domain. I fear my explanation would do terrible injustice to his character and splendor."

The odd servant reaches for his hat, producing what appears to be cards out of thin air. At a cursory glance, these do not appear to be playing cards, but rather vouchers of some sort printed up by the hotel, most likely before it was besieged by the crimson dome.

"Of course, if you're curious about the master and his domain before he meets with you, I would be more than happy to show you around. You can always judge a king by his castle, after all."

Mr. Suite paws through the cards, one by one, as he looks towards both of you, awaiting an answer.

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Nick looked from Mr. Suite to Kid Cthulhu, then back to Mr. Suite. Well, he's not trying to eat us right now... doesn't mean he won't try, but...

"Sure, I could go for a guided tour," he said. "So, how exactly did you guys come to set up shop here?"

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Mr. Suite motions you along to a velvet carpet that exits the lobby, taking the forward-left branch and continuing on his way. He continues to speak as you follow.

"We got here the same way that everyone else arrived here on that prestigious evening, Mr. Cimitiere. We were invited."

You pass row upon row of one-armed bandit machines and other electronic gambling devices befitting the most modern of casinos. It doesn't take long until you see one of the things you were looking for - people! At a few of the odd rows, people are sitting and playing the machines with complete, unshakable attention. They do not notice you, nor acknowledge your presence.

Each and every one of the people you come across has a smile upon their face - a beaming grin so large that your cheeks hurt simply by looking at it. But the eyes reflect nothing but emptiness as they continue their routine of placing in a coin into the machine, pulling the lever, and repeating the process, without even the slightest hint of a reaction to the game, win or lose. Their skin displays a sickly pallor, befitting the dead.

"The master himself passed on these invitations. It seems that the human people wanted something better with life - a chance at happiness. We're happy to oblige. The master, a kind benefactor indeed, has asked for nothing in return, save for that which was already promised." Mr. Suite continues along the path of the velvet carpet, which twists and turns as it navigates through the games. Many modern casinos are made to be labrynths, and it seems this one is no exception.

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Nick looked around the casino floor, casting his gaze over row after row of gamblers, all pasted smiles and obvious compulsion. Great, another mystical casino filled with enthralled customers, he thought to himself. I am really starting to hate the Boardwalk.

"You mind me asking who sent out the invite?" Nick asked. "And maybe channel of contact, case I need to make any arrangements in the future..."

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Your tour guide, Mr. Suite, continues down the winding path, leading you further into the halls of The Luxury.

"I'm afraid that would be quite impractical, Mr. Cimitiere. Management has changed recently after this realm's grand opening. As I understand it, the previous owner, Mr. King, is now enjoying a very pleasant retirement to spend more time with his family."

Having passed a number of rows of machines and the people who play them, you still have the unnerving feeling that there are far less people around than there really should be. While it's possible that the guests are still in the hotel part of The Luxury, you have not seen any of the employees of the casino, save for the bizarre Mr. Suite.

"If you're looking for contacts, however, I could certainly arrange for you to meet the new heads of staff, if you so desire. There are 8 in total, including The Master and myself - each with their own list of duties that they attend to with the utmost efficiency." Mr. Suite turns to face you, still bearing the unbearable grin. "Of course, it would be presumptuous of this humble servant to guess as to your desired arrangements for the future."

You've stopped walking forward. You are no longer surrounded by gaming machines, and have come to a crossroads in the path - each direction continuing to a very different-looking decor. Straight ahead of you, the hallway becomes decorated with pictures of oceanic waves and occasionally marked with marketable, unrealistic depictions of Poseidon and Atlantis.

To your left, the lights are subdued and the velvet carpet is lined with exquisite, velvet ropes. A sign reads "Auditorium", with an arrow pointing toward the center of darkness.

To your right, the walls are obscured with various tropical trees, and the sounds of various bird calls and various animal noises blare from semi-hidden speakers.

As you observe the different paths available, Mr. Suite flicks his wrist again, displaying three vouchers - the same cards he was playing with before.

"If you would care to see further, gentlemen, perhaps I can be of assistance? If you're feeling a bit peckish, I can offer a free luncheon at Poseidon's Parlour. I assure you that the fish are the freshest you've ever seen. Or, perhaps you're more interested in the entertainment scene? I also have a free pass to the Auditorium, where a show is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. If you still feel adventurous I can get you into the Jungle Attraction, which is perfect for having a really wild time."

Smiling, Mr. Suite awaits your answer.

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"Early retirement," "spend more time with his family"... odds are Mr. King's dead, whoever he is. Nick turned his attention back to Mr. Suite, whatever the heck he was. He's not pinging the death-dar... but that doesn't mean he isn't any other number of extraplanar denizens. Guy looks like a Cenobite after plastic surgery. Hmm... food's a bad idea, given the whole "Persephone and the pomegranate thing"... jungle attraction's an invitation to wild beasts... the show's an open invitation to audience participation in a Grand Guignol... hmm...

"I don't know, Suite," he said. "There's a lot of promise here... what do you recommend?"

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"Me, sir?" Mr. Suite shook his head as hew waggled his gloved finger at his guests. "It would be inappropriate for a Host to play favorites in his place of business, would it not? Still, if that's your desire..."

Mr. Suite stared idly at the ceiling while stroking what could pass for his chin, losing himself in thought. "A wise man who seeks would undoubtedly visit all the places where mystery exists. Auditoriums are for the lonely who wish to seek companionship through the stage, even if only for a brief moment. The jungle holds mystery, and mysteries hold answers, if one can find them. But I?"

Mr. Suite looks back down at both of you. His smile, as usual, has not changed, but as a whole, he appears to have a slightly more devious demeanor.

"T'were I you, I would see to Poseidon's Parlor, for both the same reason and a completely different reason one goes to a restaurant in the first place. Simply, if I did not go there, I would fear the consequences."

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KC nods to Nick. "What do you think, Nick? Should we trust this guy? He's pretty much freaking me the hell out." KC's heart was thumping in his chest. He had his hands ready, prepared to cast a bolt of mystic fire if Mr. Suite caused trouble.

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"We might as well," Nick whispered back. "Don't really have much of a choice."

He turned back to Mr. Smile. "All right, then," he said. "I think we'll check out the Parlor. Been a while since I had seafood."

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Mr. Suite bows as he hands each of you a voucher. "Very good, sirs."

The voucher appears to have been created as part of the grand opening of The Luxury, and depicts a rather jovial fellow masterfully using a skillet while skillfully tossing various cooked vegetables into the air. Each voucher reads "Good for one free entree at Poseidon's Parlor, 5-Star Dining Experience only at the Luxury Casino", a deal that, according to the fine print, expired last night during The Luxury's grand opening. The symbol of The Luxury, an ornate crown, is stamped on the top right corner of each voucher.

Mr. Suite finishes bowing. "Unfortunately, I am unable to accompany you any farther, sirs. I'm certain you'll find everything to your liking."

Mr. Suite gives both of you a nod, giving you an opportunity to ask any final questions before he leaves.

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KC cleared his throat. "Thank you, Mr. Suite. You've been an excellent host. Give The Master my regards." He grinned as wide as he could.

As the two of them walked into the restaurant, KC was whispering to Nick. "Am I the only one who's slightly freaked out?"

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"No, you're not," Nick said, scanning the restaurant. When he was sure Mr. Suite was gone, he whispered to Kid Cthulhu, "Probably don't have to tell you this, but just in case -- don't touch the food. Even if it's not poisoned, it represents a favor presented and in need of repayment. Persephone got stuck in the Underworld half the year because she ate some pomegranate seeds; last thing we want is to be stuck here because we had the shrimp cocktail."

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"Good point, buddy. That would probably be a good idea. It's a nice place though. What do you reckon it is? Some kind of spiritual construct?" KC said as he walked around the restaurant. "Isn't that kind of how the fairies do business? Ask one favor and they demand a huge favor in return. Just what I hear."

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