2020-01-26 - How Much Of A Tithe?


Inside the barrier on Staten Island, more information is gained.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sun Jan 26 00:59:51 2020
Location: Staten Island

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Theme Song



Staten Island is a total no-go zone. The NYPD and what's left of the SIPD are keeping people away. There's a picture being formed of what's happening inside the barrier and none of it good.

The Island has become little districts - villages, if you like. Some are bustling towns with all the associated problems. Others remote farms or communities, and still others something more fantastical - faerie mounds or communities that have taken to underground.

It's almost like someone has opened a series of fantasy books and remade Staten Island in those images.

Volunteer heroes have been working with the PD and SHIELD to get inside the barrier and find out more.

Magical amulets provided to at least protect the memories of those going in. They won't negate the effects of change or the fact that technology just doesn't seem to work there.

The group went in about a half hour ago, were changed and have been working through the area. Just up ahead is a small village, smoke curling from chimneys and huts scattered about. It would be a fairly normal scene, except for the horde of Orcs descending from the hills and on the village.

People are scattering, children being dragged into huts. Men and Women taking up scythes, shovels and axes - and whatever else they can find, trying to mount a defence.

What had been a snug-fitting and modestly sturdy jumpsuit, outside of the barrier, became a more-or-less efficient set of leather armor over rough tunic and leggings, including bracers on her arms. At the time, Hisako had merely looked herself over, made sure it was still adequate in terms of clothes, and continued on her way with the rest of the team.

The sight of the orcs approaching the village - and the villagers' collective reaction suggesting that the orcs *aren't* there for a peaceful trading visit - is enough to make Hisako call on her powers, surrounding herself in the yellow-tinted 'armor' of her codename, picking up speed to a jog at first. "Probably best to stop the monsters, right?" she asks her allies - even though she's pulling ahead, just by dint of the longer stride she has when armored up.

She'll quicken her pace, and even scale up further, if she needs to in order to intercept the orcs before they reach the village. Never mind what the villagers may think about a young woman suspended inside a 'suit of armor' molded out of telekinetic force; they have to be alive to ask questions, and it's worth enduring their questions to protect those lives.

Being made a team lead for this operation by Agent May was unexpected, to be sure. In a way, it suggests that his superiors at SHIELD consider Kwabena more of an asset than a liability now.

Upon entering the affected area with a red amulet around his neck, the African's transformation was among the most dramatic of all; the nanotech he's in symbiosis with in effect causes him to die. Fortunately, it's not his first time; the mutant's body transforms into that of a wraith. Black smoke roils violently, but it makes not a single sound; in fact, if one were to draw to close to the ghastly visage, they would find it oddly quieter and very cold. The amulet glows red where his heart once was, suspended within a skeletal frame, and eyes of fire burn within the skull where Kwabena's head once was.

Magic is strange.

When he speaks, the voice is an audible whisper, with the faintest hint of a scream that borders on painful.

When the village comes into view, Kwabena floats back toward Sarah Black, a fellow member of SHIELD. "Perhaps I should remain behind, so as not to startle the villagers," the wraith speaks, but when the horde of orcs become visible, Kwabena's eyes of fire burn a little brighter. "Perhaps not."

To Sarah, he says, "Portal in on the opposite side. I will cut them off at the front." To Hisako and Ken, he nods. "Come at them from our side. You will flank them with agent Black."

Without further adieu, Wraith-Kwabena suddenly bursts forth, flying at an alarming speed toward the front of the incoming horde. As he cuts between them and the village, the wraith suddenly bursts into flame, making to sear the front line of those orcs.

WAND Agent Sarah Black had shown up for the expedition at the appointed time, dressed not in her usual mission gear of black-on-black SHIELD tactical wear with the WAND patch on the shoulder, but… normal clothes. "I've read the reports," she'd said. "I know it's not totally consistent, but in a lot of cases, modern equipment transforms into whatever its equivalent would be in there. I didn't want to take the chance of Kevlar turning into 80 pounds of chainmail. Or worse, some kind of plate armor." She had a brown leather messenger bag slung over her left shoulder by its strap, stocked with the various magical instruments the WAND lab team could provide, to try to learn more about what's going on under the dome.

Once under the transformation effect, her mid-weight jacket, sweater, and jeans had become a flowing grey cloak worn over an emerald-green dress with an almost embarrassingly plunging neckline, its ankle-length skirt slit to the hip up either side, leaving Sarah looking like a 'sorceress' straight out of some RPG rulebook or fantasy comic. Looking down at herself after the change, she'd commented wryly, "All right, could have been worse. No chainmail bikini, and at least I'm not barefoot." Instead, her suede ankle boots have become black leather, laced up the sides, and reaching to just below her knees.

Now, here at the approach to the village, Sarah nods to Kwabena, performs the gesture and speaks the word to open a portal as directed, and quickly steps through.

When the man who had showed up in dark leather and the demon-half mask had passed the barrier he had transformed into a full blown samurai with mirror bright armor. This had made any attempt at stealth somewhat… troublesome. But the swordsman hadn't seemed especially surprised by the change and did at least seem to know how to move in the armor.

He lags behind Kwabena when the man bursts into flight and charges. But - after a glance to the others present - he does draw one of his two swords and follows after, shouting at the oncoming tide of brutish thugs to try and draw their attention from the obviously underequipped and ill prepared villagers.

The redheaded in the black armour with a yellow Bat emblazoned on her chest had been transformed into an woman in Sherwood green clothing, cloak to match and small bow in her hands. Rather than a full faced mask however, it's a domino mask which reveals brilliant green eyes behind it. That's probably not a feature she wants *someone* to remember, but needs must.

"I think so, given these people are probably Staten Island citizens." Interesting that a group in the lower wealth areas see themselves as poor villagers, really.

The portal Sarah opens, opens directly on the flank. Letting her and Kwabena (and whoever else) step through and surprise the Orcs. It works. They get to cut down about six of them before that side of the horde turns and descends upon the group. Clubs, fist and teeth flashing and slashing at the group.

Orcs are smelly and strong. They're also incredibly dumb.

From behind the melee fighters, arrows thin the back ranks. The redheaded Batgirl is a good shot.

In the background, they can hear the sound of horns and … hoofbeats …. something *else* draws near.

Armor doesn't usually put too much stock in battlecries, but that doesn't stop her from yelling wordlessly as she reaches the Orcs and lashes out, her armor's size shooting up to about nine feet in height - more than enough, in all likelihood, to tower over the orcs, and when her strength scales up with it, *plenty* to send an orc flying with a sweep of one gold-hued arm.

She's not deliberately trying to kill any of the orcs, just dishing out blunt-force kinetic energy with her strikes, punches, even the occasional kick. If she has to bodily pick an orc up and deliberately fling them, she'll pitch them as far from the village as she can without a protracted wind-up. She's not going out of her way to do anything deliberately fatal - but she's not overly concerned with holding back, either.

Honestly? Getting chucked around by something significantly larger than the orcs are, even if the 'something larger' has a smaller person visibly inside the armor-shaped energy, should be enough to take the fight out of any living being with a penchant for self-preservation. But Armor's still glad she's not the only good guy here.

A thought crosses Kwabena's mind as his flame burns through the orcs he comes into contact with; are these citizens as well? Human beings transformed into monsters, or just more machinations of whatever witchcraft is at play here? It's no matter; there are villagers to save.

Bearing down upon one of the orcs, the wraith lets out a viscous sound and engulfs the creature in fire, causing it to squeal and flail about as its body is cooked into a full cut of orc, well done.

Briefly, Kwabena's wraith-like appearance takes stock of the ongoing battle; noting where his allies are in relation to the village they are protecting, along with enemy movements.

However, at the sound from afar, the fire is extinguished. The black, skeletal wraith takes to the sky, flying straight up in an effort to try and spot what may be coming.

Sarah's taking a similar approach to what Armor is doing — She's not going to kill if she doesn't have to, but she's also not about to let the villagers get massacred. She's also going to need to pace herself, if she doesn't want to wind up out of mojo and in need of rest — If this is what they're going to be facing repeatedly, this could get to be a very long day.

Choosing her targets, the 'sorceress' lets fly with a spell of punishing blunt-force impact, the effect forking as it nears its targets to split between three of them, delivering a painful blow to each, if not enough to knock them off their feet, at least sufficient to hopefully give them second thoughts about continuing their attack.

Are they villagers? Are they monsters? Are they conjurations of the spell? Without time for a full blown magus to analyze them it's impossible to know. Not that it seems to bother the silver one. "Stay close, Batgirl." A bow isn't a great close combat weapon and Ken can cover her in close while she covers him at a distance.

Armor has a lot more protection than he does so the silver clad one follows her in trusting on Kwabena and Sarah to do their thing without much support. A glow rims his blade and he slices through an orcish sword here, a shield there. He shears through mail like it wasn't even there. Through flesh and bone like they're not even there too. It's a bit… messy.

"Can anyone see the newcomers?" Lacking a radio, The Samurai has to call that out and hope he can be heard above the din.

The pounding of hoofs grows louder. The ground shaking from the impact as well as the fight. At least the heroe's have drawn the attackers from the village. The heroes might notice the 'patches' on the crude jerkins the Orcs wear.

Gang symbols perhaps?

The Orcs are now caught between the heroes and the 'calvary'. Though the calvary doesn't seem to be trying to kill them either. Two of the four knights cut through the horde and send some of the running. The other two turn towards the other flank that's being dealt with.

As Kwabena takes to the sky, he can see the incoming two knights clearly. They aren't an 'organised' group but those who seem to see themselves as Knights or similar.

Armor can certainly throw Orcs about like nothing else and she does. They crunch and 'oof' as they hit the ground. Sarah's blunt force magic attacks, hit Orcs in their chests - sending them, nearly comically, flying backwards into others.

The Samurai finds himself facing off against three Orcs directly - large brutes. His glowing sword has drawn their attention. "Get girl." One grunts as another tries to get around the Samurai to the archer behind him. Batgirl rolls her eyes at that and launches another volley of arrows. "I'm not going anywhere, Samurai."

Gang symbols. So, they are people.

"Friendlies," the wraith calls down to the Samurai. "I think!"

Police officers, perhaps? Kwabena turns back to the ground, and sweeps over to come alongside Black. "Don't know if they're on our side yet," he alerts his fellow agent, before moving away and flaring into fire once more. This time, he doesn't cook any of the orcs; after all, he suspects that they are people. Gang members who deserve their day in the Justice System, if they can be smart enough to have it. Instead, his jaw opens in a terrifying way, and the sound that comes from his skull is a terrifying mixture of screaming and snarling, like something straight from the pit of hell.

"Rather than 'get girl,' how about you get *lost*?" snaps Armor, coming up behind the last three orcs - and "up" is the operative word, as her armor scales to about *twelve* feet in height, features and articulation growing more pronounced; the helmet even has a couple of glowing eyes set in it, more pronounced than when her armor was smaller.

The orcs shouldn't have much time to reflect on that detail, though, as Armor grabs one orc, twists, and *hurls* the brute as far up the hillside as she can. If she has time to deal with the second orc, he goes the same way, and even further if Hisako can manage it: she puts more effort into the throw, accompanied by a yell of exertion.

Nodding to Kwabena, Sarah does, indeed, try to pace herself, by casting something less strenuous than another combat spell. Instead, she conjures what appears to be a creature of fire, in the shape of a great cat perhaps a meter and a half at the shoulder, snarling at the orcs as it stalks toward them. In reality, it's a glamour, an illusion without real substance or capacity to harm. But it looks and sounds real enough, and if any of the orcs are brave enough to come close to it, they will feel the 'heat' it's giving off. But on 'contact', there will be no pain or damage, or any substance at all to the 'creature'.

With any luck, the orcs will not be foolish enough to get that far.

Armor's intervention is timely. The Samurai reverses his grip on his blade and runs the last one through. That… seems to be it. He glances around to see if the villagers seem to be faring well. Hoofbeats get closer and become riders as they come into view. The gleamingly armored man turns to face them with his sword in a low guard. It's not an especially aggressive stance but it's not an especially nice one either.

"Thank you miss." That's to Armor, for her aid. "Hisako, was it not? Domo arigato." From the way he pronounces it, he's a native Japanese speaker.

"Everyone else alright?" That's mostly for Sarah and Kwabena. Ken can see Babs and knows that she is as unhurt as can be reasonably expected.

The Orcs are thrown and knocked out or scatter. Many run bellowing in fear from Kwabena's scream. The Knights horses rear, pawing the air as they do. It takes a moment for … calm … to settle.

"Who are you that ventures in this land?" One of the Knights asks, raising the visor to their helmet. Ken might recognise this person - it's one of his employees. One of the security guards that worked in a company building. Matthew was his name.

"You have fought off the hordes of Skullcrusher, who sees themselves as lords of these lands." The other knight, settles their horse next to Matthews, raising their visor. A woman this time, that Batgirl frowns at. "Leisl?" beat "I am fine, Samurai. And thankyou, Miss." That's to Armor, the domino-masked redhead glances at the others, waiting for their responses to the Knight and the Samurai.

Armor smiles, bowing in return to Ken as she replies, "Dou itashimashite." Her pronunciation is also native, although her accent is somewhat Americanized from the years she's spent in America.

Then she turns her attention to the knights, her armor scaling back down before the energy fades. "'Skullcrusher'?" she echoes, frowning. "Do they claim any right to their authority besides strength of arms? Have they pledged to defend the people of these lands against greater threats from outside?"

The Fire is drawn back to its resting place in Wraith-Kwabena's eye-sockets; the creature joins those that make up their merry band of adventurers, but he remains quiet, watching and observing. Playing DND is not his strong suit, not by a long shot. After all, being 'Team Lead' doesn't always mean calling all the shots. It often means trusting in your team to do the right thing.

Once the threat has ended, Sarah dismisses her flaming-cat glamour, before going to join the others as well. For the moment, she listens, to see what answer is given to Armor's question.

Ken gives Armor's Japanese response a somewhat rare smile and then turns his attention to the 'knights'. "I am the Silver Samurai. We have come…" From outside the dome. Odds are good 'the dome' is not a concept in these people's minds.

"… from outside this realm. We have heard that this is a land overrun with beasts and monsters and wished to help if we could. To whom would we address our offer?"

That is probably as good as he can do. Also Armor's questions are good ones. Who were the Orks and what sort of claim does this 'Skullcrusher' have?

"You know one of them?" That's muttered behind to Batgirl.

The Knight Matthew turns his attention to each member of the group in turn "I am known as Sir Matthew, Knight Errant and this is my companion Sir Liesl. We have pledged ourselves to protect the innocent folk in this land. Well met, Samurai, who are your companions?" beat "You, Lord Lich that was an impressive display. You fight on the side of the people and not the leige of the land?" That's to Shift. "And you, Miss. Do you owe allegiance to Circe?"

Batgirl nods to Samurai and sotte voces "Liesl. She worked in a bookstore in this area. Well, what was Staten."

Liesl takes up the story "They claim right by allegiance to Leige of this area. A fearsome Lady by the name of Amara. She has empowered these hordes to hold the land for her. These villagers have refused to pay tithe."

"I have been turned," Kwabena explains, his voice having reverted to that haunting, audible whisper. "By a great sorceress named Zatanna." It isn't exactly a lie, which helps in its delivery. "I had no name, but they now call me 'Shift'."

The interjections of Ken and Hisako are greatly appreciated, and a brief look is given to each; he would smile, but he's incapable of such things in this form, it seems.

The fire in his eye sockets briefly burns a bit brighter as a name is given, a name to whom may be behind all of this sorcery. "We have suspected that there may be powerful places; towers, perhaps elements of witchcraft, that are empowering the beasts of the realm. It is possible they were built by this Lady Amara. Have you seen anything like this?" he inquires.

"My comrades know me as Armor," the girl with the armor-projection powers replies to the knights, inclining her head politely to the two of them. She'd prefer not to mix up her civilian name and her code name, but 'Silver Samurai' and 'Shift' clearly aren't the names to be found on birth certificates. And she has to admit, the Japanese swordsman in their group deserves a title such as that.

"How much of a tithe does this Lady Amara demand from a humble village like this one? What if they physically don't have the money, or the other resources, to pay the demanded tithe? What if paying it would reduce them to poverty or starvation? Does she care only for the fattening of her coffers, at any cost to those who withhold what they must for survival's sake?"

That's probably enough of a question, but Hisako adds one more: "And where would we find this Lady Amara?"

It is possible that some of the heroes might actually know of the name 'Silver Samurai.' It's certainly a bold claim, if true. That name is associated with the Japanese Government sponsored hero team 'Big Hero Six'. Supposedly he retired some years ago though he's still listed on their site as an 'inactive member'. With a bio. It's not hard to google.

Ken's eyes narrow slightly at the knight 'Matthews'.

"That man…" He says sotto voce to the ones nearby him. "Was a security guard at one of the companies I run." Interesting that this is what his mind has made him.

"And tell me who is your lord?" They may as well get both names in this conflict. "Or do you have one?"

"I am called Sarah," Agent Black says, when her turn for an introduction comes, withholding her last name for multiple reasons, not the least of which that it might have unintended meaning here. "And I serve Her Majesty of my homeland across the sea, and the good people of this land I have been sent to protect."

"Shift then, Lord Lich." No, Shift isn't a Lich but give the Knights a break. "And Armor. Does Zatanna oppose Circe and her minions then?" Sarah gets a frown "What is there across the sea? And if you serve Her Majesty, you must be an enemy of me and mine." Oops.

Matthew considers the question most carefully. "There are many towers that populate the realm. Some are the demense of Sorcerors and Sorceresses, of course. Others are inhabited by still others. Lady Amara is a dark elf. I do not believe she possesses any special magik. Her … lair, can be found to the South, in the hills over yonder. If you … were to seek her, beware. It is no just hordes of Orcs she controls."

"The Lady Amara demands forty percent of all takings." Liesl answers. "For herself and she cares not about the people who are beholden to her. Why would she? The people of this village are human." That might say a lot.

"We have no lord, Lord Samurai." Matthew answers. "We are independant and provide aid as we can. As you can see, there are four of us in this band and I believe there are others who act to protect the humans of the lands."

"FORTY percent?!" blurts Armor, staring at Liesl, utterly aghast at what she just heard. "That's - that's absurd! I don't know what this village's main trade is, but taking almost half of what they harvest or earn in trade -"

She runs out of words, shaking her head vehemently. She might just be ready to go find Amara's tower and push it over all by herself, if it comes to that …

They don't even remember what is across the sea? With their memories gone, they very well may believe that Staten is all there is.

"She fights for you," Kwabena tells the Knight. "Therefore, she is your friend."

Turning away from the band of Knights, the wraith addresses those in his party. "We could scout Lady Amara's tower, perhaps take the fight to her. Or we could remain, defend the villages, and eventually draw her out."

Odds are, none of them planned to be setting up camp in this fantasy land, but, them's the breaks.

"We should reconvene with our other parties," he advises the group. "See what they have learned before we make our decisions." He turns back toward Matthew, though, and lifts his skeletal chin. "If we hear the sound of your horn, we will come to your aid."

Okay, so, yes. He did some homework for this operation. He finally watched Lord of the Rings.

"Could be worse actually…" The Samurai mutters. "If you have no lords then this village remains at risk. Keep yourself safe Matthews. We shall see what may be done about this Amara." For now though they had best be moving on. They really don't want to stay in here long term. Samurai isn't at all sure that the charms will protect them for that long.

"Batgirl, Sarah, Armor, Shift. Shall we?" Unless the others have something to do.

"As Shift said, I am not your enemy," Sarah says. "Whether you know of them or not, there are other realms, where your 'Amara' holds no power. My homeland is one of them, and the Queen I serve is not her, nor do I give allegiance to the Circe of whom you speak. I am sent and sworn to protect the people of this land. If Amara is your enemy, then she is mine, as well." And with that, she nods to the Samurai, and prepares to go.

Matthew looks at Sarah carefully and nods. "You are correct that there are many places we have not yet ventured." Hisako's sputtering draws another nod. "Just so."

As Shift turns to go, the Knights look to the others.

"Come now, we will take you to the village where you can refresh yourselves and speak to the Headman if you wish."

The knights move their horse around and wait for the others to follow them. The village isn't far after all.

Sometime soon, the group will have to return from the barrier and prepare for their next foray in.

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