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RocketLord

Mysterious Menagerie of Monsters

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GM

 

December 1st 2018, 3 PM

Emerald City

 

Ever since Oz had arrived in Emerald City, rumors had started to reach him through the magical community. Bits and pieces, hints of a story, someone that claimed that their friend's cousin's uncle's grandchild had seen it. A collector of the strange, a man who sought out magical beasts and creatures, collecting them in his own private zoo. Somehow, its true location was kept hidden, somewhere within Emerald City.

 

And on this day, the very first day of December, he had heard one more rumor. Something concrete, something that might actually lead him to this mysterious menagerie of monsters: There was a man that had actually seen it, and right now, this man was in the Eastern District. He had no name, he had no appearance. All he knew was that the mysterious visitor was a man. 

 

Perhaps, that would be enough.

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Oswald didn't hate the cold weather per say, it was in his opinion quite beautiful and scenic to look at but it was quite a bit easier to appreciate it from the comfort of his warm house.

 

Astra had been as ever, unperturbed by the cold and windy day in her wanderings and attempts to escape the confines of her field, unable to secure a baby sitter for her he'd simply done his best to keep her busy if not entertained until he could get back.

 

He was of course rather intrigued by this dimension and its much more subtle nature, both magical and colour saturation wise, what manner of arcane life might've developed here where magic was a hidden art.

 

His other reason was concern for the wellbeing of such creatures, even on Oz there were those who could only see the monetary value of life, sapient or otherwise so ensuring that they were being treated well weighed upon his mind.

 

And so here he was, dressed warmly for the winter, sturdy black umbrella in hand (for use as a walking stick inbetween the rain) looking and enquiring after the man who had seen this "miraculous managerie of monsters" he'd heard so much about.

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GM

 

Now, there were but one question? How would Oswald approach such a task? The man in question was, according to the rumor, a member of the magical community himself. None that were not would be permitted to see the menagerie, after all. Would he listen, would he seek, would he try to find the telltale signs of magic amongst the mundane? Would he look for auras touched by otherworldy forces?

 

The street that Oswald walked was busy. While the clouds were dark, rain had yet to fall to chase the visitors away from Jadetown. Maybe the man were a local, or maybe he would stick out like a sore thumb, much like Oswald himself did in the predominantly Chinese-American population. 

Edited by RocketLord

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Subtlety felt like the right approach to oswald, the menagerie was hidden from prying eyes and possibly malicious intent.

 

He was yet to become aquainted with this part of his new home city as well, taking a slow, steady approach to familiarize himself was not a bad idea, he would look for signs of the craft, sigils and symbols of the multidimensional entities invoked by mages accross the multiverse and with his glasses special lenses, for spells of concealment and misdirection as well.

 

His first port of call would be somewhere he could grab lunch, he had skipped his second breakfast to be out on such short notice and he was rather eager to further sample the culinary delights of this dimension.

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GM

 

Oswald made his way through the street, soon finding himself on a small pedestrian street. It was filled with booths on all sides and corners, even in the middle. While some simply sold goods, the vast majority offered some kind of culinary experience. Despite being in Jadetown, the dishes were varied, though mostly of Asian variety. The smells were intoxicating, mingling with shouts and a multitude of rapidly spoken languages.

 

Not far from the entrance, Oswald noticed something. A man, clad in a dark red coat, a grey scarf tied around his neck and mouth. He stood in one of the booths. While Oswald could not see the man fully over the din of people that separated him from the crowds, he did notice one thing, quite well. A symbol on the booth, a ward of protection from ills. An eye in a triangle inside a square. Not something one would normally find in Jadetown.

Edited by RocketLord

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That eyes were a prominent feature in wards seemed to be an almost universal fact, he admired the ward for its simplicity in form and function.

 

Once he'd finished his meal and conversation with the booth owner he began his approach, absently wiping his face clean on the plain hankey he kept for just such occasions, first impressions were very important after all, especially with a paranoid (rightfully so from what he had read of salem and the  apropriately named "dark ages") and secretive society.

 

"Good day my friend." He began as he drew up "and blessed be." He added more quietly.

 

"I couldn't help but admire your rather unique logo must be quite a craft you practise."

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GM

 

The dark haired man did not look up from his work, even as Oswald spoke to him. He was completely focused on his work. His hands was moving rapidly on the table before him, cleaning a type of meat. Lamb, perhaps. Or maybe something more exotic. The hands moved in a rhytmic pattern, an almost intuitive dance. There was something more to it than the simple act of cutting the meat. Some sort of ritual, meat being cut in precise patterns, while the man muttered his incantations. Magic hidden in plain sight.

 

"Hello, my friend." The man responded, after he finished with a piece of meat, quickly holding it up to appraise the quality of the cut. "It is indeed quite a craft." Satisfied with his work, he speared it with a small wooden stick, then turned to the burning grill behind him, hanging the meat on a rack over it. "What are you looking for, my friend? I have the only the finest of meat, safely blessed, sanctified and with extended longevity!" Oswald got the sense that perhaps the man was being more open than he would to more mundane customers.

Edited by RocketLord

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"So many options, i will take what you reccomend my friend, i am rather new in town you see!" He laughed a little "eager to explore the wonders hidden away in the secret places and make friends of course." He explained as he leaned against the booth examining the quick and clever knife work and ritualistic cuts with fascination.

 

He didn't feel a need to press the man immediately and made polite conversation whilst the food was cooked and consumed.

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GM

 

The man smiled mischievously. It was clear that he had his own thoughts about someone being a newcomer. "Just one moment, I need to finish this one." The knife danced, almost as if it was alive. In between cuts, Oswald could notice patterns engraved into the blade. At some cuts, they glowed lightly purple. Nothing the untrained eye would notice, but Oswald's eye was not untrained, was it now? The patterns appeared much like Japanese or Chinese letters, though they did not correspond to any such characters.

 

Finishing with the cut, the man appraised the meat, before hanging it with the previous cut. "Welcome to the Emerald City then, my friend! What may I call you?" His tone was jovial, as he cleaned his knife. Swinging it out, he pointed at a meat. The mischievous smile played over his lips again. "Might I recommend the long pig? It is a speciality."

Edited by RocketLord

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Oswald smiled his own slight smile in return as he tilted his head, he knew of course what a long pig was, he'd been called one by several of the less pleasant inhabitants of his home realm, particularly the fair folk and giants were most inclined to think of humans as livestock, either figuratively as beneath them or in some rather gruesome cases, literally and whilst the thought of consuming another humans flesh was unpalatable to him he had been forced by certain diplomatic missions to other cultures on Oz to do stranger things still.

 

"You may Call me Oz" he answered politely before regarding the hanging meat "ah yes, the most dangerous game of all, if the rumors are to be believed, I fear I would be remiss to partake however, though I may take some home for my more...esoteric friends in the wood clan." he stated simply and evenly "I do believe it is unwise to over indulge in it, Spongiform Encephalopathy I believe it is called here?" he asked peasently before shrugging and continuing on "not something anyone would want a mage of my calibre to have..." he laughed as he tapped the side of his head "Got to keep the demons in you see."

 

"Though on the topic of more esoteric things..i have heard tell of a miraculous menagerie of impossible creatures within the city, much to my interests though I have had difficulty finding anything more about it."

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GM

 

The man smiled, shaking his head. "For others, perhaps, it might be. Not here! Nothing dangerous about a log pig, after all." He pointed over his shoulder, to a few carcasses that were hanging off a few hooks behind him, ready to be cleaned, cut and cooked. It was indeed a pair of rather long pigs, easily more than one and a half the length of a regular pig. The man in the booth seemed to enjoy his own joke, chuckling at it for a moment, before reaching out to offer Oz a piece a small piece of cooked meal. "Here, have a taste!"

 

His friendly demeanor soured somewhat, as Oswald mentioned the the menagerie. He looked over his shoulders for a moment, before resuming his jovial tone. "Oh, yes, I have heard tales of this menagerie as well. A vast collection of the possible and impossible creatures of this world, and others. What is your interest, Oz?" He put a bit on pressure on Oswald's chosen name. Spoken a bit harder than the rest of his words.

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"I have an affection for animals." He confessed plainly as he sampled the long pig quite a contradiction some might've said but it didn't trouble oswald at all.

 

"I am intrigued to see what it offers...and if i find it unsuitible for the animals i will end it." He added with a hardness in his eyes, backed by the strength of will that allowed him to transmute matter with a glance.

 

"I cannot abide cruelty to animals."

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GM

 

The man in the booth nodded slowly, while cleaning his knife. Oswald could see the glow quite clearly once more. "I see, I see." He appeared to be deep in thought. As if he was making a big, hugely important decision. With a quick and practiced motion, he stabbed the knife into the cutting board, then leaned forward over the booth's table, his eyes only inches away from Oswald's.

 

"And how would you end it, if that were the case then? How would you even judge something like that, hmm? A place like that is bound to contain animals no one has even heard of, after all. What may seem like cruelty could be their way of life, could it not?" His tone was still jovial, but with a harder edge to it than before. 

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"By the animals." Oz answered resolutely as he leaned back in towards him "I find that all animals of all kinds can communicate when something is amiss." Oswald responded calmly as he adjusted his glasses to sit more comfortably on his face and cast his gaze upon the being before him through the emerald lenses.

 

"You too have a great respect for animals." He commented looking at the ritualistically prepared meat lining the shop "I cast no judgement or condemnations for those just trying to live...it is blackest greed and disregard i level my strength against." He explained as he raised his hand and for the briefest of instants filled it with emerald green lightning.

 

"Of which i have sufficient to do as i claim if the need arises."

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GM

 

The man looked Oswald in the eyes, through the emerald lenses. He eyed the green lightning as it danced in his hand, for but the briefest of moments. Standing back, he crossed his arms. Then he smiled once more. "It seems that you are a man of good taste and conviction, my friend." Then he leaned closer again, his voice falling to a hushed whisper. "I sense that you are not quite from around here, is that right? Do you have a cell phone? Any other way that you can be reached? Preferably something slight covert, if you understand my meaning. Nothing too public." 

 

There was something to this man, something not quite human, now that Oswald had been this close. Something in his eyes, that he could not place. Feral, but playful. Perhaps something a bit feline, like a great cat.

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Oswald deflated some, it was as he had feared then? This menagerie was a vile place of greed and cruelty?

 

"Indeed, you might say i blew in reccently..." he responded with an attempt at humour despite his soured mood.

 

"I have recently become aqauinted with smartphones yes, i quite enjoy browsing youtube as a matter of fact, its been quite informative." He blabbered as he took it from his pocket and exchanged numbers with the merchant.

 

"I take it then that this menagerie is...objectable to our sensabilities...reggretable...what should i put you under, friend?"

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"Yes, the youtube is quite useful, is it not? Here, give me your number, and I shall see what I can do." It did not seem that the butcher wanted to share his own information. And truly, why would he? He was not the one inquring about information, after all.

 

"Oh, that is something you will have to decide for yourself, is it not? Whatever you think of the menagerie, I am not one to judge. I supply feed, and happily so. It is good for business, if nothing else." He still smiled. "And I am sorry, but I hope that you do not look upon me with unkindness, but I would rather not they found out just who told you about the menagerie. Bad for business, you understand."

 

The man still smiled. "Now... as a token of good faith, and trust that I will deliver... what will you have, my friend?" He gestured to the booth behind him. Beyond anything else, it seemed that he was a businessman.

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"I will have some of that delighful long pig to go, for i must return to my home and make ready for what may come." he answered simply and politely as he reached for his ever trusty wallet.

 

He'd been out for a while now  Astra would be getting antsy if she had not already slipped her bounds to explore the surrounding countryside, ontop of that he could use this time to prepare a ritual that might prove to be useful in some regard or another, so really it was a oppertunity to secure his home and self before undertaking this risky buisness he had volunteered himself for in his moment of passion.

 

"good day my friend." he concluded along with his buisness and made for his cottage with a brisk walk.

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The man happily accepted Oswald's cash. After all, was he not a salesman? And if some information could make him a sale, then should he not? His smile remained broad. Perhaps a bit too broad for what it should be. He quickly gathered some choice long pig, freshly prepared. He placed it in a black plastic tray, quickly folding a piece of thin plastic over it, to protect it contents. Then into a brown paper bag, which he ended over to Oswald. "Here you go, my friend! You should receive a message before long! Make your preparations, mind your step, and may fortune favor you!"

 

It would be a bit longer than Oswald had anticipated, before he received a message. But it gave him time to make his preparations. And to make sure that Astra had not wandered off. How he would choose to spend his time, was entirely up to Oswald.

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Oz idly petted astra's head as he sat in his arm chair regarding the message on his phone, he didn't experience fear anymore, it just entered his mind that it had been a while since he'd potentially done anything like this and that he was now rather out of shape, he'd considered preforming a ritual to grant him some manner of suprise or advantage if things had turned sour but they were length and costly and often produced prodigiously pungent smells that sank into the walls like the caustic farts of a devil and he simply didn't want that in his abode.

 

Astra had of course solved her way through the measures he'd taken to contain her, it was her very nature to be uncontainable of course, but this world was for all the youtubes help still rather unknown to him and he was unwilling to risk his beloved pets wellbeing on it quite yet.

 

He didn't have to do this, he could just stay home with his pet cloud sheep and enjoy a quiet, peaceful (if forced) retirement from this busywork, surely there were younger mages eager to crusade against the darkness?

 

He felt disgusted at himself for a moment, he'd send youger and less experienced spellcasters into the maw of danger for his own comfort? never.

 

so with a tired sigh he hauled himself from his armchair and went for his coat.

 

"Here we go again, eh Astra?" he spoke, knowing full well that for all her magical nature astra was still a sheep.

 

"Be good for daddy won't you?"

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GM

 

The message that he received came from a blocked number, about four hours after Oswald had returned home. Whoever had sent the message, whether it was the man with the dancing knives or someone else, obviously did not want Oswald to have a way to contact them. It had not the most expedient message, but it would have to do. The message was an address in Bridgepoint, not too far from Archetech West. A quick search on a map would show that the address didn't hold any houses, and in fact, the area held a number of similar technological giants. Nothing that would suggest a mysterious menagerie of monsters. Still, it was all that Oswald had to go on.

 

If Oswald made his way to the address, he would indeed find what appeared to be a grand building. The local office of some international tech giant, whose identity did not matter to Oswald's search. It was modern, built recently. Far later than the rumors about the menagerie had first begun. 

 

There was something that was interesting, however. On the side of the building, far away from the main entrance, was a door. With the same number as the address in the text message, the number 13, placed in a great cursive. The door seemed to be made out of oak. It was decorated with golden lilies. The handle seemed to be pure silver. 

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Oz had taken a short time to prepare himself, creating himself a snappy suit from the the Thaumatons abdundant in the air before opening a swirling portal to the location and stepping through.

 

He regarded the peculiar door with cautious intrigue, checking with his glasses for any sort of trickery or concealment or in general any trickery of mages.

 

Knocking resolubtely on the door once he was sure nothing...unfortunate would befall him

Edited by Exaccus

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One knock. Two knocks. Three knocks.

 

At the third knock, the door opened, revealing a man dressed very much like a stereotypical butler. A penguin suit, so to speak. He was short, broad at the bottom, narrow at the top. His hair was dark, neatly brushed, falling flat against his head. His eyes were halfway open, halfway closed, almost like he was in a daze of sorts.

 

He eyed Oswald for a moment, appraising him, trying to recognize this strange new man at the doorstep. "And what brings you here, kind sir?" he finally asked, his voice a deep baritone.

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"Good evening." Oz stated politely as he leaned on his umbrella lightly as he in turn appraised the man before him.

 

"I have heard there is a most...

Magical menagerie at this locale through some friends of mine in the local community." He explained with a smile.

 

"Im rather new in town but i have quite an interest in the wonderous world of animals and wonder if i might be permitted to view it?"

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The man looked suitably unimpressed, simply looking up at Oswald with just about all the disinterest he could muster. 

 

"I see. That is a most interesting proposition. And what possible reason you could you give? Curiosity? Looking for a certain ingredient, that one of my master's pets might hold?" His voice was as deep as before. It was obvious that he was looking down on Oswald, having decided to barely acknowledge his presence in the first place. "Do be quick about it, so I can turn you away before it takes too long."

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