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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

Degorram

Skald
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Everything posted by Degorram

  1. The door opened with a *woosh* that ruffled the ink-dotted paper, its wilted edges fluttering nervously as a pair of golden eyes scrutinized the squiggly handwriting. Degorram, official Recruitment Officer, leaned her head around the door frame. The hall was empty, except for perhaps a muttering shadow of doubt that was just creeping away down the passageway. Thought I heard someone out here... With a sniff, Degorram plucked the paper off the door, which wheezed like an old woman in complaint. "No sympathy for you," she growled, cracking the knuckles of her left hand absently. "I have just as many creaks and groans as you these days." Her long ears twitched and she glanced down the corridor one last time. Had someone peeked down the hall just now? The shape shifter's lips crimped inwards, eyes flashing crimson along with her hair before settling back to the tried and true golden hue. She had been feeling gilded of late, abandoning her decades old purple for something a bit more reflective of her age. She was getting on...well never mind. Ageless as the stones themselves. Tired nonetheless. Degorram sighed and collapsed into the chair at her desk, smoothing out the parchment and scanning down the lines. "Only right that someone dust me off now and again," she said, rummaging through a drawer for the tried and true, over-large stamp. She traced a finger over the final four scribbles, eyes hooded in lost thought. My head is filled with imagery that cannot be described...quite. "No stranger here," she purred, slamming the stamp down on the paper and leaving an enormous ACCEPTED in red ink. The noise echoed around the room like breaking glass, and she bared her sharp teeth, blowing on the ink to dry it. "Welcome welcome Fluke. I look forward to meeting your Squirrel and Cat someday." Her eyebrows wiggled as she tucked the paper away in her files. "You are now an official Initiate of the Pen."
  2. OOC: That moment when you type a whole, beautiful response, only to have it be destroyed entirely by hitting the wrong button. *seethe* As Tulay's footsteps faded in the distance, an awkward silence fell over the room, as if waiting for a storm to descend. The door creaked guiltily in its frame, squirming beneath the papers tacked to its surface with the incriminating inscription of "For Wyvern" on the front in bold, fluid handwriting. The application ruffled in response, caught in a breeze that had suddenly picked up at the back of the room. In midair a sudden tendril of black smoke was squeezed into existence, spreading down over the desk and pooling onto the floor, spiraling in searching motions. It grasped with finger-shaped tendrils towards the door, pointing, reaching, but pulling back with inquisitive caution. The smoke cloud grew, from the size of a pinprick to the size of a man, and suddenly, from its depths, a leg stepped out, followed by two arms, and the shapeshifter uncloaked herself, casting back the waves of ashen air from her shoulders like a cape. Tulay's gentle tapping on the door had been like an overzealous gong to Degorram's ears, a series of gunshots, highlighted by the sound of breaking glass. It was how she had designed the spell, for there was not much else that could awaken her from her reveries where she saw through time and space to other galaxies, to other ages of men -- to other stories to be told. Not the gentlest wake-up call. But effective. Degorram brushed the final wisps of smoke from her clothing and it scattered and vanished, snapping back into non-existence as if it had never been there to begin with and the changeling had always been present. "A little more melodramatic than intended," she mused out loud to herself. But then, what was wrong with a little drama in private? Besides, it was still the fastest way to travel from the ether back into the physical planes. In a few strides, Degorram had crossed the room and snatched up the application, raising an eyebrow fondly at the note intended for her predecessor. "Ah, Wyvern," she murmured. "If only I had known the size of the shoes I was meant to fill." She smirked quietly as she could almost hear the almost-dragon's response involving the sly connection between big shoes and big feet and... Turning back to her desk, Degorram spread the papers over its surface and tapped the corners, scanning through the poem of origins with a smile here and a twitch of her ear there. Sparks ignited on her shoulders and a rush of air lifted the edges of the application, swirling around and through Degorram's multi-colored hair. She pushed her bangs out of her eyes routinely and chewed her lip. "Takekaze," she said, repeating the name a few times to attempt to recall it to memory. "Passing through by another name, are we?" Degorram paused and glanced out the window at the Pen's towers, far different now in their reconstruction than they had been in those eras gone by, when she herself had sat on the other side of this desk. Perhaps it was only fitting. There were so few of them left now who retained the old names. "Quite lovely," she complimented the papers, which seemed to blush under her fingers, and she shuffled through her drawers for a fresh stamp. With a slam, she marked it with a large green "ACCEPT" and filed it away in the "Initiates" section of her records. Degorram turned her flashing eyes on the door and addressed its trembling with a scowl. "I suppose I should hang a sign. And you, you miserable creature, are not going to spit out any more hooks. I'm not afraid to turn you into a breakfast table." An hour later, a small wooden plaque hung on the subdued portal that read: Degorram Office of Recruitment Honored Guests Inquire Within OOC: Welcome back Tulay! Good to have you at the Pen again. Your title has been upgraded from Honored Guest to Initiate!
  3. It must have been easily past three in the morning – he could feel it in the room before he felt the need to lift his glasses and rub his weary eyes. Here in this tiny office, pitch black except for the pale glow of the three four consoles, you couldn’t see the subtle changes of light that might alert one to the turning of the world. It was so far underground that no noise from above, no early morning rush of traffic nor sleepy birds chirping at sundown, could tell him when to abandon his post and trade shifts with someone else. But there was always a feeling, some change in the atmosphere that told him when his shift was coming to a close. With a sigh he resettled his glasses and leaned back in his chair, staring blearily at the readouts on the center console. Slightly abnormal, but nothing to be worried about. Still, he had better tune Inder into the changes when he came to relieve him. There was no margin for error, and ignoring even the slightest tremor could mean death to millions. The thought alone was one he had gotten used to, and yet every time it crossed his mind (which would be once about every twelve hours or so) a pale shiver crept across his scalp and down his neck. On a good day, he could brush the feeling off and return his mind to some mundane task that needed doing. There was a small stack of reports left that needed to be coded into the console on the left…but tonight he couldn’t seem to push the feeling away. The tingle, like a soft breathing on his back, continued down into his shoulders until he felt compelled to turn his eyes onto the console on the right. Don’t play around, he thought in the sharp, panicky tones of his incoming shift relief, Thomas Inder. You stare at that thing too long and it’s going to start staring back. He sat up and placed his chin in one hand, leaning slightly to the right so that he could get a closer look. Shut up, Inder. A small square of live video was his only visual relief from the long lines of green-texted data that filled up the other two consoles. How could he resist the urge to rest his eyes by gazing down on it every now and then? Besides…the figure in the video had been asleep for longer than he had been alive. Those eyes weren’t going to open just because he happened to be watching. Somewhere even further underground than where he sat was a chamber rigged with sixty kilotons of nuclear explosives. If triggered, the resulting destruction would set off a chain reaction in the core of the planet that would send the tectonic plates spinning out into space at several times the speed of sound within minutes of pushing the button. But popping the Earth inside-out like a kernel of corn had long ago been measured as a better sacrifice than what could potentially be done to the human race on an intergalactic scale if the being below ever woke up. He often wondered how tall she was. Contained in that upright cylinder of glass, she looked downright petite: slender limbs and hips, a small mouth, and long, pale hair, forever flowing upwards like smoke in a suspended state of partial gravity. The second-skin garment that covered her narrow frame was pale as well, a similar tone to her skin, and frankly, seen through the color distortion of the console, she could have just as easily been nude as clothed. He rubbed his eyes again and thought, for the thousandth time, if perhaps he was a pervert for noticing. It isn’t as though she’s human. A soft knock on the door behind him pulled his eyes away from the screen, and the shiver that had spread to his knees dissipated like it had never been there. It suddenly felt very warm in the little office, comparatively. He turned, feeling slightly unwell, and turned the three padlocks on the door so that his relief could enter. Inder poked his head in, a perfect match in all ways to his partner sitting at the computers: scrawny, hollow-eyed from uneasy sleep, with glasses perched primly on the bridge of his nose. His hair was pillow-swirled and standing on end from widow’s peak to crown. Even his eyebrows seemed sleep-mussed. “G’mornin, Ian” he mumbled as he slipped into the room and locked the door behind him again. “Mmm,” Ian replied, running his fingers through his own hair sympathetically. After hours of not speaking, it was difficult to feel like talking. “Long night.” “Agreed,” Inder said with a groan, pulling up a second chair and collapsing lankily. “Didn’t sleep for beans….I kept jumping up from my bed, reaching for the light switch and not knowing why.” “We don’t have light switches.” “I’m aware,” Inder said grimly. “I spent the rest of the night wondering if it was just a reflex leftover from life on the surface or if it was…..” he glanced at the screen and grunted. Ian began to wonder if maybe informing his paranoid partner about the abnormalities in the data was a good idea. “It happens to all of us. Every time I get out of the shower I grope around for a good five seconds looking for a towel before I remember to set the fan to blow-dry. It’s just habit.” Inder did not look convinced. He was instead looking warily at the video console, chewing on his lip. “The beings outside of time,” he said softly, and his shoulders shuddered. “I wish I had never landed this miserable job. Two degrees from MIT and a decent career promised to me, and somehow, instead, I find myself in a hole fifty miles below the surface of the earth watching a sleeping god.” “You say the same thing every morning,” Ian quipped. “Though I’m pretty sure you’re spending more of your sleep shift coming up with different, more dramatic ways to say it.” Inder glanced at his partner and squinted unappreciatively. “It’s not as though I can say you don’t understand.” Ian shrugged in agreement. “We’re only here for three more years. Then we’ll have our choice of positions on any planet in the Formation we want, remember? That was the carrot they dangled.” “Well, maybe I didn’t consider how much bigger of a carrot I would need to keep my thumb glued to a suicidal amount of nuclear devastation.” He rubbed his face. “Speaking of – anything to report?” Ian hummed absently. “Not in so many words.” It took nothing more than the absence of a simple ‘no’ to put Inder on full hair-crackling alert. He sat up in his chair faster than he had sat down in it, eyes on fire with, no doubt, the fires of the bombs they were sitting on. “What is that supposed to mean?” he said loudly. Ian waved Inder away from the console with a growl. “It means what it means,” he said. “There were a few blips in the data over the course of my shift, but they were all well within the normal range of movement. It’s not like she’s started dreaming again.” “It better not be,” Inder hissed. “We can’t exactly sing it a lullaby and hope it normalizes. If it pushes past the Irraden, there isn’t a stronger drug we can dope it with.” He tapped his finger stiffly on his thigh. “I’m not even sure why we keep it alive.” Ian looked back at the figure far below him, and wondered the same thing, but with a different feeling of dread than his comrade. We are such stuff as dreams are made on. The soft, summer afternoon had settled in with hardly a whisper when Ian found himself standing at the top of a small hill in an otherwise uninterrupted sea of flat grasslands. Though it must have been high noon, the sun was nowhere to be seen in the rich, cloudless cerulean canopy. It was inexplicably gorgeous out – he had never seen such a perfect day in his life. For miles around the golden fields were crowded with waist high fronds, each blade of grass identical in shape and size. There was something inexplicably reverent about the scene. The horizon seemed blurred and blushed with canter smoke, and a humble quiet lay over the shimmering grasses that whispered their prayers in the wind, their bowing heads tickling his fingers. The constant movement of the fields was an almost shocking contrast to the utter stillness of the sky. Yet Ian could feel no wind, warm or otherwise. It was as if his body was hardly there at all. He could hear bells, soft and distant, echoing off of the invisible walls of the world-cathedral. Gradually, he started following the sound, feeling a strangely urgent need to find the priests who rang them. They held the key to something important. Or maybe he needed to confess; though what his sin was, he didn’t know. Somehow he had knowledge that he was walking for miles, even though the farther he went, the less his surroundings changed. After some time, and yet no time at all, he sat down, only his head and neck remaining above the sea of grass. He sat, and he waited, somehow still at the top of the same hill he had started on. Far in the distance, the bells chimed. After a time he felt compelled to look back the way he had come, and he turned to see a tree growing in the middle of the path he had taken. Its bark was black, ink-dark in contrast with the sky and sun-fields that surrounded it, like a mid-day shadow casting itself out over the sunlit landscape. The branches, gnarled and angular, were bare except for the brass bells that hung in varying sizes from every limb and twig. Suddenly at his side, standing as if she had been there for hours, was a pale-clad figure staring down at him. Ian didn’t have a chance to see her face before he woke up with a strangled yell. Ian slapped his hand over his mouth to stifle the scream and spent several minutes concentrating on the resulting pain across his cheeks, trying to shut out what he had just seen. Finally he peeled his hand away from his face, holding it up so he could watch it shake. His whole body was trembling. What was usually just a creeping chill over his shoulders had invaded him entirely and was starting to feel hypothermic. He leaned forward over his legs and hid his face in his hands, trying to slow his breathing with deep, controlled gasps. On the opposite wall, the clock ticked methodically. He had been asleep for only four hours. After these dreams, Ian was never able to finish his rest-shift. He rubbed his face wearily and stared at the clock, disappointed. No matter how little he had gotten, it was impossible to try and slip back to sleep. He had spent hours before lying there, sweating, staring at the image of that blackened tree burned against the backs of his eyelids. But this was the first time he had ever seen her there too. He rolled over and plucked at his sleep suit, now growing hot against his icy skin. The bedroom that he shared with the two other operators in the facility was only the size of a large broom closet. One narrow bed, one desk, a bathroom through a door on the right that contained a shower, toilet, and sink. This far beneath the earth, digging was a challenge, and the living areas were appropriately downsized. There were three cubbies embedded in the wall over the bed that held their few belongings, but otherwise the room remained devoid of any customization. Ian stood and pressed his fist again the control panel next to the door. Behind him, the bed rotated in the floor, appearing again a moment later with fresh sheets and a new pillow while Ian let himself into the bathroom. The shower was as hot as Ian could make it, and it still wasn’t warm enough to chase away the chill. He stood under the water, just soaking, for longer than his fair share of designated bathing time. He’d catch it from Inder for that, ever the loyal patriot of structure. Structure is the only way we keep this facility running 24/7 with only three operators. Ian had heard it plenty of times. Shut up, Inder. After groping about for a towel, and cursing grouchily when he remembered there were none, Ian dried off under the strong current of the ceiling vent and slipped into his day-suit, fresh and still slightly warm from the tiny laundry closet adjacent to the shower. He fingered the cloth uneasily for the first time as he realized that, were it not for the looser cut of the suit and the various zippered pockets that adorned it here and there, the regulation clothing for living at the heart of the world was eerily similar to the bodysuit that covered the creature below. Now that he was up, he had almost eleven hours until his next shift in the observation office. Living under the regimen of three eight-hour shifts for working, sleeping, and conducting routine daily tasks just didn’t seem natural to Ian, seeing as how none of them ever managed to finish a rest-shift, and everything that he could possibly do in his life-shift could easily be accomplished in less than three hours. There were two books in his cubby that he had read five times, and after spending half of your waking hours monitoring a screen, watching any holovids to waste time lost its appeal. Ian strapped on a pair of soft-soled boots and leaned against the wall, staring at the empty bed that now looked as if no one had ever slept in it before. If he felt like exercising, there were a variety of outdoor scenarios he could choose from in the exercise simulator. He blinked and a flash of golden grasses reminded him that he didn’t exactly feel like being outdoors at the moment. For an hour or so Ian roamed the single hallway that circled the observation office, allowing himself to be fooled that he was actually going somewhere. The white walls, themselves perfectly curved, lacked any distinction to distract him from his wandering, and the few doors that he passed were unmarked. At long last, his muted footsteps led him back to the same place he always went when he couldn’t sleep. He announced his presence in the cafeteria lounge with a couple of knocks on the door before walking inside to be enveloped by a thick cloud of smoke. Adam had his feet perched on the table and was leaning as far back as he could manage in the space available, balancing his chair against the wall behind him. He had turned the lights down so that it was almost as dim as the observation office, his face illuminated not by the pale glow of the consoles, but by the red light of his flaring cigarette. In spite of the darkness, Adam was wearing a pair of sunglasses that glinted with each puff of smoke. “You’re up early,” he mumbled around the filter that hung from his lips. He peered over the top of his glasses at Ian’s drawn face. “As usual.” He pushed the sunglasses onto his forehead and watched Ian from under his eyelids, blowing a stream of smoke through his nose. “I don’t suppose you ever get tired of being in the dark,” Ian said, sidestepping the unspoken question. He put his back against the wall and half-shut his already watering eyes against the stagnant cloud. “Not as tired as I am of fluorescent lighting,” Adam said, tapping ashes into his cereal bowl, mostly untouched. “None of the light down here is real. Even the simulator…you’re not supposed to be able to differentiate between it and the real world but I can. I can tell.” He gestured at the cereal and raised an eyebrow at Ian. “Breakfast?” “Not hungry.” “Me neither.” Adam brushed a few strands of his hair away from his face. Unlike Ian and Inder, he hadn’t gotten it cut since their arrival six months ago. He flicked the sunglasses back down onto his nose and settled against the wall with another draconian sigh. “The sunglasses are a bit overkill, though,” Ian said. “You want to be blind as well as agoraphobic when we leave?” Adam shrugged listlessly. “You don’t like them? And I ordered you a pair just like them too.” He paused in thought, then smirked. “Post man might have some trouble finding our address though.” Ian returned the smile wryly. “Smart ass.” “That’s why I’m here, baby,” Adam said. With a practiced twist of his hips, he stretched one foot over to the wall and kicked the control panel that turned on the air filtration system. With a gentle hissing, the smoke was sucked through a vent in the ceiling and replaced with clean, specially piped-in air from the surface. The temporary suction made their hair rise and extinguished the cigarette, half finished, which Adam tucked behind one ear for later. “God knows we’re not here for anything else. Damned boring waste of time.” He tapped the panel again and the ceiling gradually brightened back to normal light-levels, making him wince as he let the legs of his chair hit the floor again with a clack. He pulled the sunglasses off and tucked them into the chest pocket on his day-suit, which was identical to Ian’s. “So - what’s got you awake at this ungodly hour of the morning?” Ian rubbed the back of his neck and crossed his arms over his chest. “Just….can’t sleep, I guess. I’m having these weird dreams and they wake me up.” Adam stirred the cigarette ashes into his cereal, not meeting Ian’s eyes. “Do you have them every night?” “No, they’re inconsistent.” Ian pulled a chair out of its slot in the wall and sat down at the table across from Adam, crossing his legs so he wouldn’t bump the other man’s knees. “Some nights I have them and some nights I just lie awake thinking about them. It’s the same dream though. It never changes. Or….well, at least it hadn’t changed, until…” “Until last night.” Adam said, giving up on the cereal and shoving the bowl into the dish cubby at his elbow. “Or should I say, for you, tonight. For me, this morning.” “What time is it, actually?” Adam pressed a small bulge in the wrist of his suit and squinted at the numbers that lit up on the fabric. “Almost 10:30. Strange way to live, isn’t it? None of us being on the same schedule.” He pressed his thumbs against his eyes. “You’re the only one who actually gets to interact with more than one person. How’s Inder doing, the finicky bastard?” Ian laughed softly. “Still finicky. Actually I’m sure he’s had a very tense observation-shift. There was a slight anomaly at the end of mine and he, uh – he wasn’t happy to hear about it.” “Oh, piss,” Adam scoffed. “We’ll be lucky to make it through to the end of this run with Happy at the controls every sixteen hours. Say, if we’re vaporized in the night, you can have my sunglasses.” Ian tried his best to smother laughter, but the ensuing chuckles died on his lips as the image of a black tree popped into his mind again. Adam, taking note, tapped the side of his nose, suddenly serious. “Do these dreams of yours always follow an anomaly in the data?” Ian blinked and said nothing. He hadn’t thought to check. In the pit of his stomach, a nagging wish that his observation-shift wasn’t nine hours away began to gnaw at his uneaten breakfast. Maybe I should take up smoking. Adam grunted, pulled the cigarette off his ear, and chewed it thoughtfully. After a moment of silence, he pushed back the chair and stood, stretching his arms. “Come on – let’s get some commercialized sunshine.” In two steps he had reached the door, but paused before opening it to look back at Ian, tapping his forehead meaningfully. “Mm – don’t tell Happy, eh?” He could hear bells, soft and distant and echoing. Gradually, he started following the sound, and noticed that the farther he went, the less his surroundings changed. After some time, and yet no time at all, he sat down, only his head and neck remaining above the sea of grass that swirled around him in the breeze. He sat, and he waited, somehow still at the top of the same hill he had started on. Far in the distance, the bells chimed. After a time he felt compelled to look back the way he had come, and he turned to see a tree growing in the middle of the path he had taken. Its bark was black, ink-dark in contrast with the sky and sun-fields that surrounded it, like a mid-day shadow casting itself out over the sunlit landscape. The branches, gnarled and angular, were bare except for the brass bells that hung in varying sizes from every limb and twig and a single, simply constructed swing. A young girl was sitting on it, swaying back and forth, her toes barely touching the ground though her pale hair curled in loops beneath her feet. She was petite and narrow in her youth, her body covered in a suit much like his own except that it was a light cream color that matched the color of her face almost perfectly. The girl turned to look at him, but before he could meet her eyes, Ian jerked awake again. Adam, leaning his face back towards the warmth of the sun, glanced down at his shivering companion and raised his eyebrows. “You fell asleep so quickly, I didn’t feel I had any right to wake you. Was that the wrong decision?” Ian stared up at the intensely blue sky of a perfect summer day and thought in his split second of waking delirium that he was actually outside. The grass that he had ripped out of the ground was cool against his fingers, locked away behind clenched fists, and he raised his right hand to let the blades catch the breeze and fly away. There was even some dirt under his fingernails. But this world was no more real than the golden one he had just woken up from. In reality, he was still miles underground, encased in a simulator that made the outside world seem possible again. “You know the doc-bot can give you drugs to keep you from dreaming, right?” Adam stuck a piece of grass in his mouth. “I know,” Ian said wearily. “I’ve thought about it, but…I don’t want to be like her. I’m not interested in spending my sleep-shifts drowning under the influence.” The sun reflecting off of Adam’s sunglasses gave him a perplexed look that was mimicked by the curious twist in his mouth. “Don’t tell me you now feel sympathy for a Dream Weaver? They create worlds in their sleep and destroy them when they wake. We’re lucky to even be here. ” “If I’m going to have problems sleeping, they’re going to be natural ones,” Ian argued. “Come on Adam, look around you. Look at how we spend our days. We don’t really do a damn thing down here but make sure that the little squiggles on the page are all lined up. The system runs itself, and we mill about in a hamster-run so far down no one even knows we’re here.” He sat up and gazed miserably at the verdant hills that stretched for miles around them, interrupted by a haze of indigo mountains on the horizon. “None of this,” he said, gesturing at the landscape, “is even real. Sometimes none of it feels real. At least when I wake up screaming, I know I’m not still asleep.” Adam pursed his lips. “And you passed the psychology screening tests?” Ian glared at Adam sarcastically in response. “We have another inspection in a few months,” Adam pointed out gently, trying to redirect the conversation away from Ian’s growing agitation. “Maybe you should request leave.” Ian’s shoulders relaxed very slightly. “No…three years isn’t that long. I just have to keep telling myself that and remember where I want to be when they’re over. I’m—I’m just tired.” “Hmm,” Adam agreed, and sat back again, legs crossed, breathing deeply through his nose. For a few moments they sat silently. Finally, he announced his incoming question with a loud sniff. “So what color are her eyes?” “What?!” Adam stood, stretching his back with a satisfied groan, and turned for the exit of the simulator before Ian could recover from his shock. “If you find out, let me know.” Ian sat still until Adam had gone before he looked down at his clenched left fist. He opened it slowly, fingers shaking, and the green grass immediately caught the wind, accentuated only by a few blades that were now a vivid gold.
  4. Degorram sat up quickly, snorting in surprise as she was jerked out of the position she had dozed off in by the gentle knocking on the Recruitment Office door. She flailed for a long, drawn-out second as her sudden movement set her chair off balance, and fell over backwards, the air in her lungs taking its leave with a *WHOOSH*. "Come in," Degorram wheezed, struggling to get back her breath as she disentangled herself from the treacherous chair. She pointed at the door, and with a snap of her fingers it swung open, revealing a very startled looking Pennite. Sillytune jerked their head back from where they had pressed their ear against the door. "Come in," Degorram repeated with a little more volume as she stood, wincing at the bruise on the back of her head where she had smacked the floor. "Yes -- *cough* -- welcome, welcome. Please do have a seat." She gestured at the chair in front of her desk. "You have an application for membership?" "Er...yes," Sillytune said, handing the papers in their hand over to the Changeling. "Are you ok?" The prospective Pennite sat with only a little hesitation, as Sillytune noticed the petite red cushion that was perched in the offered chair; it had started to purr. "Fine, fine," Degorram said, waving a hand absently as she regained her own chair and began glancing through the application. "I've dealt with worse." The Changeling brushed a few dust motes off of her clothing and extended a hand to shake. "Welcome to the Recruitment Office. I'm Degorram -- Skald and Elder of Initiates." Without another moment, she turned to the application in her other hand. She drummed her fingers on the desk as she read, ears and eyebrows twitching with each stanza. "Very nice," she said at last, putting the application papers down with a rustle. "You say English is not your first language, but you have very decent command of it. I would be much interested to see the original work in your tongue, side by side with the translation. There's a room around here specifically for works in other languages..." She rummaged in one of her desk drawers for a moment before pulling out a small map of the Pen. She circled one section with her finger and handed it over to Sillytune. "Head over to the European Classics room, if you have a mind." "So....that's it?" Sillytune asked, looking around the office as if expecting some other kind of test. The door behind Degorram squeaked rudely, and she tossed a crumpled piece of paper at it with vehemence. "Yes," Degorram replied, refusing to translate the previous comment. "That's it. Welcome to the Pen! Feel free to stop by and get further acquainted, if you like, but you'll find me haunting the Assembly Room from time to time as well. Otherwise, I encourage you to take a wander and get to know what's where. Stop and ask for directions if you get lost. If there aren't any other Pennites around, the walls will know where you are, at least."
  5. Degorram grinned wolfishly and moulded back into her usual form. It was good to stretch things out after so long a time in one position. She would have to conduct a changing-meditation soon, to make sure she remembered all the important pieces. "I could use a drink myself, if you don't mind," she said, nodding amiably to the large rodent behind the counter as if such things were seen everyday. "Once we're done catching up here, I have my own office to visit and clean. Who knows what's become of the Recruitment corner of the world while I've been...sleeping." She skipped over the word as casually as she could, still bothered that she could not remember why she had entered a Fae sleep to begin with. But she supposed it didn't matter at this point. Everything matters....every detail, every seemingly trivial nuance....everything. She flicked an ear and narrowed her eyes at the nearest wall, suddenly uncomfortable. It wasn't that she had forgotten the hardest lesson she had ever learned. It was just that she had hoped that she had entered a time in her life when it wouldn't be needed. She would speak with Kikuyu soon about it, to see what her twin remembered. And perhaps Snypiuer, the ever vigilant tinkerer, might have a clue as to what had been happening in the Pen world when she had gone under. "Besides," she said quickly, breaking out of her silence. "Old Splinters has either rotted away or is in an even more foul mood than before. His hinges probably need a good oiling, else I'll catch hell from him."
  6. Degorram followed behind Tanuchan and Mynx quietly, smiling to herself as they harassed each other about adventures long past and caught up on events that the other had missed out on. The Changeling began to wonder where she had been and what she had been doing when their adventures had been playing out. Her own memories were swimming around in her mind, flaring up in places, sometimes painfully, sometimes making her smirk. Her eyes sparked as she remembered the Necromancer, and how easily he had tempted her into his trap by playing against her rage. She banished the easily revived anger when a memory of soot sprites and feathers pushed itself through the darkness to soften her face. No matter what she had been doing at the time, though, it was a separate experience from her current companions' own shenanigans. They were faces she had known well at the Keep, people she had spoken to often, but the hazardous destruction that had befell the fortress had prevented her from getting to know more than a few select Pennites very well, and the greater portion of the lives and personalities of Tanuchan and Mynx she felt were still a mystery to her. But....weren't most people. Degorram sighed through her nose. She and her twin had always struggled to make more than a few friends at a time. It was in their nature to be selective, whether they liked it or not. And yet, once it was earned, they valued friendship higher than many things in the world. Degorram eyed the backs of Mynx and Tanuchan with a mixture of respect and curiosity. They were all that were left now, a feline, a wolf, and a Fae -- they and perhaps a few others working silently in the Keep who had not yet made themselves known. But Degorram could sense that they were all beginning to converge on a single location. The Cabaret Room was drawing near, and who knew who else----- Degorram stopped dead in her tracks and turned her head to gaze down a hallway on her right, sniffing at the air. A few paces later, and her companions realized that she had stopped. They turned back halfway in curiosity. "Degorram?" Tanuchan cocked an ear with concern. "What's wrong?" "Nothing's....wrong. Quite," Degorram said hesitantly. "We're headed for the Cabaret Room, but I just get the feeling that there's someone down this way. I can smell them. Where does this hall lead to again? Normally my sense of direction is good but I'm still a bit hazy..." "Well, that's one way to get to the Banquet Hall," Mynx said, hands casually on her hips. "But if you keep going further you'll find your way into M-CP. It's a maze down there. I'd be surprised if anyone was wandering around in that part of the Keep." "It is surprising," Degorram agreed, having wandered those halls herself on occasion. "And yet, someone is definitely down there." Tanuchan growled softly in her throat. "Friend? Or not?" Degorram closed her eyes briefly, reaching out to the soul that was tinkering deep in the inner workings of the Keep. She tapped it gently, and smirked when it flared up in shock (she sensed that the owner of this consciousness had just fallen over). "Friend. Come to think of it....if that isn't Snypiuer, I'll eat my hat." "You're not wearing a hat," Tanuchan said quizzically. "Then it most certainly is Snypiuer," Degorram said with a straight face as Mynx tried to flatten out her own smile. "Come on," Mynx said, continuing down the hall. "If you haven't already, give him a poke and tell him to come along. Anyone left at the Pen is probably headed for the same place. I don't know about you, but I'm starving." Degorram sent one last mental nudge in the direction of M-CP, and turned to follow her companions. Indulging a sudden urge, she bent in one fluid motion to all fours, hiding her pale skin in dark fur, her face lengthening, and her ears and tail fleshing out to fuller versions of their previous selves. She nipped at her fellow wolf playfully, and, suddenly full of energy, bolted down the hallway. The Waker was ahead, and she was ready to begin the long work ahead of them.
  7. Degorram knocked on Kikuyu's door gently, and waited for a response. There was movement within, but the door remained shut. Hmm....her fae sister had always been the quicker one to wake. But there was no rushing these things. A Fae Sleep affected some harder than others. She turned and walked down the hallway, eyes feeling sharper than ever before. After so long asleep, every detail jumped out at her in crystal clarity, as if being seen for the first time. There was a time when she would have woken feeling dull and blurred, not quick and lively the way she felt now. That was the difference between being woken by an outside force and waking up on one's own. The brain was much slower to catch on to its own suggestions. Dragging a hand gently down the side of the hallway, feeling the old stones with a sense of nostalgia, Degorram turned right at the next junction and opened the door that would lead her down the stairs of the Eastern Tower towards the maze of passageways that would eventually deposit her in her old haunt, the Assembly Room. From there, if she did not find any signs of the Waker, she would seek them out in the Cabaret Room. If there was to be a gathering of old souls at the Pen, it would surely be there. Down the curving staircase, over the open, arched bridge towards the main structure of the Keep....she paused momentarily at the massive stone doors that led to the Vaults, noticing that the hinges had been cleared of rust and cobwebs. The scent of magic was still heavy in this part of the Keep. A large amount of work was being done behind closed eyes. Pondering at the size of the undertaking that was unfolding around her, Degorram tugged on the next door handle -- and stopped dead in her tracks to come face to face with a brick wall that now covered one of the several entrances to the Assembly room. Scratched crudely into its surface were the numbers 404. Degorram blinked. And blinked again. What the...who could have put this here? And why? But as she watched, grasping at theories as to what the numbers might mean, the door suddenly began to cave inwards, crumbling away. As more bricks fell under Degorram's watch, she began to hear a scratching noise on the other side. Wary, she lifted her lantern, twitching her ears to get a better listen, and finally was able to get a peek at the large wolf on the other side, pawing the fallen bricks into a neat pile. "Ah - Tanuchan, old friend," Degorram said softly so as not to startle the busy wolf.
  8. Degorram snapped her fingers and lifted one, now topped with a dainty, perfect little flame. "I found some of your scrolls in the Vaults a few months back. Very interesting ideas on technique and sustainability. Though I'm not sure I agree with the Limitability Principle." *creak* Her eyes and hair flashing red, the Changeling twisted in her seat to glare at the door. "WE COULD TEST THAT IF YOU WANT TO."
  9. Degorram quirked a smile and reached down into the drawer that had caught Tanuchan's attention. Pulling out a bone-shaped chocolate bar, she tossed it to the wolf and winked. "Company is always appreciated. I don't mind talking to myself ordinarily, but Splinters over here," she gestured to the sentient door at her back, "has a nasty habit of providing a running commentary." The door creaked passive aggressively. "I will set you on fire, so help me," Degorram snapped back. *grooooooooooooooan* "Watch your language."
  10. As for me, my thoughts are slow; aged and weakened, starved and cold, covered in soot from an age old flame, now barely burning, lost and lame. Long has this death been watched with dread. Years have I stood as my muses fled. What could I do to call them back? Where once was a star, my mind is black and colorless, but not yet killed... A tiny spark remains there still. And along comes a wind to kindle the fire, to burn my thoughts and light my ire. Oh what a feeling, to write again! How could I have lost so much back then? The words are slow, but they gather strength, and soon I hope to write at length. What can we do but continue to hope? Our words will be there when we need them most. The muses don't leave, they only sleep, as long as we keep them buried deep beneath the crush of 'real life's' pain, until we feed them once again with comfort from a fellow heart, with music, stories, song, and art. We cannot harvest what we do not sow. And so to you, Polite one, I owe, a debt of fire, a debt of light, for returning to me the reason to write.
  11. This was stellar (sorry, couldn't resist)!! I loved it and would love reading more. It definitely felt up to the caliber of some of my favorite science fiction novels.
  12. Welcome, new and familiar faces, to the Recruitment Office! Here you will find the applications of those writers who have come before you. Browse the stories, poems, songs, and other works that have been accepted at your leisure, and extend a greeting to our new members! If you wish to read applications from days long past, you can dig through the Vaults of Time. If you are interested in becoming a Member of the Mighty Pen, please continue to read for some important information. First, membership is by no means necessary for you to participate in the community here at the Pen. Several of our forums are public to all guests, and you are more than welcome to post and express yourselves in these sections where you can receive feedback, critique, and encouragement on your work. We encourage you to post freely before starting an application so that you can get to know the community better, and so that we can get to know you! Here is a list of the boards that you can access as a Guest (though some forums within these boards will be Read Only). The Tavern of the Quill – forums for all styles of writing The Manor of Tongues – language-oriented discussions and multi-lingual postings The Walls of the Pen – archives, member biographies, news, FAQs, and more You may wonder why you might care to become a member of the Pen? There are several reasons, the first of which being that you will gain access to additional forums which are exclusive to members. As you continue to grow in the community here at the Pen, more doors will be opened, revealing further mysteries about life within these walls. Secondly, you will have the chance to grow in your writing alongside fellow dedicated members, and as you distinguish yourself in the community, you will be able to in turn mentor other writers who may just be entering the writer-sphere. Writing is an empowering but very intimidating craft, and the support you can receive from and give to other members of the Pen may prove to be invaluable to your development. Finally, by becoming a member you are taking your first step into the ranks of those of us who care for the Pen and ensure that it remains a safe haven for writers of all stages of life. The more you develop your areas of growth, and contribute to the community here at the Pen, the further you will progress through the various levels of membership. Each stage will grant you different privileges and, if you choose, responsibilities that you will be allowed to take on. You can visit our Ranking FAQ for more information on how the structure of the Pen works. So! You’ve made your choice then? You wish to apply? The process is quite simple. All you have to do is post an ‘application’ in this forum via a new thread. The application consists of any piece of creative writing that demonstrates your skill and your passion for whatever style and genre you call your own, be it a story, a poem, a piece of roleplaying, etc. The piece should be an original work posted specifically with the intention of joining the Pen. Once your application has been posted, the Elder of Initiates (that’s me!) will read it and interact with the application on an individual basis. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach out to me by sending me a private message here on the forums. Welcome to the Pen! --- Degorram signed the notice with a tap of her quill and sat back in her chair, eyeing the fine, needle-straight letters that sprawled across the page in front of her. Hmm. Line four was a bit askew. But she was already on draft six, and her hand was starting to cramp. So far, this was the only piece of parchment on her neat and tidy desk. Every pot of ink had its proper place; the quills were aligned just so on the upper right hand side; and there was a short stack of trays for organizing incoming and outgoing applications. Degorram presumed (and hoped) that soon they would be too small to handle the influx of paperwork. After all, it was the first time this desk was being used by the Elder of Initiates herself. She flicked an ear back at the door behind her, which squeaked and creaked grouchily. Behind the persnickety portal was the old (and now completely unusable due to the mountains of clutter) main office. What had once been the center of Recruitment was now a storage space where Degorram intended to one day inflict order and cleanliness. Eventually. As if reading her thoughts, the door groaned loudly. Degorram ignored its profanity with a sharp sniff. The Changeling sprinkled the ink with a fine sand to help it dry and stood, stretching her stiff back, before crossing the room and opening the door to the Recruitment Office. In her eagerness, she had almost anticipated that a line might be starting to form outside. But the hall was empty. For now. None-too-gently, she hammered the notice onto the front of the door, right beneath the newly painted “Recruitment Office” sign that dangled from a precariously bent nail. She’d get around to fixing that soon. She turned to gaze thoughtfully down the hallway, lit by gently flickering candles, and could almost hear the approaching footsteps of new Pennites. High time to get to work. With a small smile, she walked back into her office, sat down at her desk with a sigh, and twitched her tail mischievously. “The Recruitment Office is open for Applications!”
  13. Deep in a place that saw no sun, Degorram's spirit stirred. Just a little. There was a familiar presence that had arrived and gently touched on her dreams before flickering away as if it had not been there at all. Like a child who is awakened by the sound of familiar footsteps, Degorram's spirit paid it no heed, and slumbered on. But, only moments later, and more like herself, who sleeps awake with one eye cracked and and legs ready to run, she drew herself deep out of the place in which she had hidden herself, opened her eyes, and lay still. The sun had set outside her window, though it was not yet completely dark. The first thing that she noticed was the musty smell of her living quarters, and she realized with a chill that she had been lying on her bed, entombed in unconsciousness, for longer than she had meant to be. As she gazed silently around what parts of the room she could see, the layers of dust and cobwebs sparked in her a fear that could only be soothed by getting up. Slowly, she sat up and let one leg fall off the edge of the bed. From this angle, things did not look as bad, though the quickly fading light was not helping. Everything in her room was in its proper place, though clearly in need of a good cleaning. A bubble of soothing warmth grew in her chest as she noticed, on the windowsill, that the herbs and venus fly traps were still alive. So, she had not slept for centuries, as she had feared. Her first thought was, Where is Kikuyu. Her second, Why did I sleep? The second question would undoubtedly answer the first. Though her memory was slightly fuzzed by sleep haze, she knew that there was no universe in which she would have entered Fae Sleep unless her twin were either....dead (forbid the thought!!)....or sleeping as well. And since no horror and sorrow was beginning to envelop Degorram's heart, she knew her twin must be alive, but perhaps just now waking up as well across the hall from her. She remembered a mighty battle, and the aftermath being so powerfully devastating that she had been bedridden for weeks. The damage to the Keep had been extensive, but what she remembered was that work had begun on it almost immediately. She did not remember it being finished, though. And for that matter, the Keep felt silent and empty to her stretching mind as it searched into the corners of the Eastern Tower for others. There was Kikuyu - just now waking. But where was everyone else? And who, or what, had wakened them? Degorram resisted the urge to immediately go on the defensive. If what had gotten her attention enough to draw her from her unconscious state had wished her harm, she would not have woken so peacefully. Or, if it had been a particularly insidious force, she would not have woken at all. Instead, she had roused as if from a perfect dream, silent and soft. She tossed her other leg over the edge of the bed and stood gingerly. It never did well to stand too quickly after lying down for....well it could have been months. Years even. She looked around her, squinting in the darkness, and located the lantern across the room. Pointing at it, she snapped her fingers, and it flared to light with a crackle and a pop. Crossing the room in a few, wavering steps, she lifted the lantern and threw open the windows to let in some fresh, night air. From the smell of it, spring had passed and was now warming into summer. Lightning bugs were beginning to star the dusky gardens below. The roses had begun to grow out of control. Not for long, Degorram thought with a smile as she felt her sister begin to rise, across the hallway. The roses were Kikuyu's charge. Finally beginning to shake the dreamy state that clung to her shoulders, Degorram closed her eyes, straightened her back, and breathed gently through her nose. Somewhere in the keep, an old friend had arrived. Someone who had begun a change in the air strong enough to wake her. She searched along a train of thought for the power that could do such work, but either they had entered a separate dimension since wakening her, or they were far enough on the other side of the keep that her mind could not quite reach them. She would have to search on foot. But before that....a little summer cleaning. Placing the lantern on the window sill, Degorram crossed her hands over her heart, breathed in sharply, and pushed her hands towards the floor with a jerk. A blast of wind shook the windows and disturbed the fine layer of dust and cobwebs covering her belongings. Raising her hands towards the window, she opened her eyes and let forth a shout that sent the unwanted dirt flying out towards the garden. A flurry of papers and loose drawings caught the air and became disorganized, but stayed within the room, eventually falling back to rest on the floor. She would organize those later. Picking up the lantern again, Degorram walked towards the door and entered the main hallway of the tower. Something was stirring again in the heart of the Pen. She intended to find out what.
  14. I'll be over here, dusting off my quill set. We have work to do.

  15. Degorram dropped from the ceiling where she had been cleaning cobwebs, much to the young woman's surprise. She twitched, startled, and stared at the shapeshifter as Degorram brushed a fine layer of dust off her clothes. "How long have you been up there??" "A few hours," Degorram said simply. "I didn't want to startle you when you first came in, but after you sat down...well, there was no good way to announce my presence. Coughing would have been disastrous up there." She glanced up wearily at the layers of cobwebs that she had yet to even get to and was further convinced that her half-dragon predecessor had been breeding the little monsters for some unusual purpose. Degorram picked up the manuscript from her desk and folded her limbs into the chair, one by one, catlike. "A very interesting premise," she mused to herself as she read through it. The young lady's ears pricked up at this, and she sat straighter, earnestly. "Finish it. Most certainly." And she picked up a rather oversized rubber stamp and slammed it down on the top of the manuscript where it left a huge, sticky green check mark. The shapeshifter blew on it briefly and then handed the papers back over the desk with a sly smile. "Welcome to the Pen, Initiate." OOC: Welcome, welcome, Ellia! Good to have you. : ) You are now a member of the "Initiate" group. If you wish to continue this story, please copy and paste what you have and post it in the Assembly Room.
  16. OOC: Woops! Sorry for getting your name wrong. Degorram's ears twitched, comforted slightly that Morindin at least could cite the names of her friends. She was slowly letting the tension leave her shoulders. "Wyvern has been away for quite a long while now," she murmured, clear regret tinging her voice. "He was, and still is, one of my dear friends here. He saved my life a few times. But even persons such as Wyvern occasionally have serious business to attend to. He was called back to his homeland by older friends and needs than the like of which reside in this keep. He made no mention whether he might ever return. As for Peredhil, he comes and goes; I get letters more often than I see him on the grounds. Appy I have neither seen nor heard from since..." she frowned as her mind trekked back into a different age, "well, since the Necromancer caused his damage." She sighed, and her lizard-like tail twitched, tracing the curves of the cobblestone absently. "Your presence only reminds me of how untrusting I have become. The world used to be a place of peace, and we never feared to welcome strangers into these walls. I apologize for that. If only I could control the times, I should make things like they once were. But welcome, Morindin. I assume you do not need a tour." Degorram shifted her body so that the pathway was clear, extending an arm towards the castle. "By the way," she said, a glint entering her eye that assured Morindin that she was of good humor once again, "if you have any magic that can fix this old place up more *quickly* I would appreciate the help. I have been sole-grounds keeper for quite a while, and my patience with repairing brick by brick is wearing thin."
  17. Degorram sat up in bed as if she had never been asleep, staring around at the walls carefully and with an outward sense of calm that her pounding heart did not betray. The prickles on the back of her neck were crawling up into her scalp, setting her mussed hair ablaze with shimmering flashes of red and purple. Her eyes narrowed, and she took a deep breath through her nose, inhaling the fresh, sharp scent of wind and rain and sky that was entering her room through the open window. The curtains swayed with a light evening breeze. I did not wake up on my own, though, Degorram thought as she pulled the covers off of her legs and stepped silently out of bed. She placed her hand on the windowsill and peered out at the night sky. A bank of thunderous clouds was moving off into the east, beating a hasty retreat after an even hastier disturbance. But no rain had entered her room; the table covered in scrap bits of paper, doodles and notes, had not lost a single occupant to any strong gusts. Something smelled nasty in Degorram's subconscious. Nasty and familiar. She didn't want to believe her instincts, wary and unwilling to admit that perhaps the horror was starting again. You killed one necromancer before, she reminded herself. But at what cost? was the immediate counter. Yet something was also different. If their ancient foe had indeed decided to come back himself (again!) then she would be at this very moment melting into the forest, drawn against her will by a power malevolent enough to overrule her own. And this time, she thought with a chill, none would be the wiser. The fortress had been quiet for a long time. Pennites had been coming and going for months now, keeping to themselves or attending to other business or adventures abroad. She saw them, occasionally, in the hallways, and greetings were exchanged, but other than that....quiet. Even Kikuyu was away, aiding the adventures of a bard that Degorram had introduced her to. How would the shapeshifter's twin be able to get to her in time if a necromancer (the necromancer) had come back for a second battle? Degorram suddenly felt very alone. She concentrated on the spark that differentiated what she felt now with the darkness that had almost consumed her all those years ago. Yes....something surely had come out of the ground recently. It had been summoned. But there was life there, not un-life. Someone had come back, but it did not feel forced, unnatural, angry, or diseased like the work of a necromancer. She threw on a short over-cape that hung to her hips and leapt over the side of the window. A pair of black wings sprouted from her shoulders as she plummeted, the feathers catching the air to slow her descent just a few yards above the surface of the ground. Too late she realized that she had left her scythe leaning against the wall in her room. Degorram shrugged the cape closer around her neck and brushed off the unease she felt at being unarmed. If she had to make do, she was perfectly capable of making do. The entrance to the keep was just in her sights when her eye caught the semi-hunched figure making it's way boldly through the gates, a staff extended in front of it, guiding its way like a blind man. Could be a ruse, she thought, but she did not feel the conviction of the suspicion. She moved close enough to be within earshot. "Pause a while, stranger," she called out, her voice an uneasy mix of cold inquiry and suppressed good manners. "You have just entered the gates of the Mighty Pen Keep. We do not often receive guests in the middle of the night, and I know all the names of those who belong here." The figure, removing the cowl from over his face, glanced up at Degorram curiously to reveal the face of a man. "The keep I know," he explained slowly. "You, however, I do not. My name is Solivagus. Who are you?" "I am Degorram," she replied. Her muscles were slowly relaxing, even though her mind was not. "I am one of the remaining guardians of this place. I am to understand that you are a pennite yourself, or were, once upon a time?" "Indeed," the man replied, glancing around nostalgically at the walls, grounds, and towers that sprawled before him. "Once upon a time, quite a time ago in fact. I have been...resting, so to speak. I had hoped that perhaps there would still be some who know me living here. Where are the others?" "They come and go," Degorram said. She gestured helplessly at the keep behind her. "Our humble home has seen better days, I will admit. We were attacked some time ago by a powerful necromancer, and we never quite recovered from the sacrifices that were made to stop his ruin." Her eyes grew dark, and her hair flashed, as if an electrical shock had run through her from bottom to top. "Which is why," she said, her voice suddenly harsh, "you surely must understand that being woken by the rising of the dead is unsettling to me." "Ah," Solivagus said, tapping his staff gently on the cobblestone path in thought. "And I have no way, if as much time has passed as I suspect, to prove to you that I mean no harm." "There are ways," Degorram replied more softly. "You can start by explaining to me who you are and how you came to be standing here now." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OOC: Welcome back, Morindin! So good to see some activity on the site. : ) I am Degorram, the current in-charge Pennite of the Recruitment forums and Shape-shifting Quill Bearer. You will see that I have changed your membership status from 'Guest' to 'Initiate'.
  18. Degorram

    NEW SKINS!!!

    My exams are 95% over now, so in the coming week I'll have time to throw something together.
  19. Degorram

    NEW SKINS!!!

    If there's not a way to differentiate between logos for the skins (as in assign different logos to different skins), then I'd say let's stick with the old one.
  20. In as far as the default, I'm voting for Medievil. It looks far more put together than the others, goes with the flavor of The Pen, and matches our current and beloved logo.
  21. Is it just a matter of transferring the skins back over? I can load them again manually, if so. Might be faster. Just tested that theory out. All the skins I downloaded are for a previous version of IP. So we'll have to get different ones. When I have a spare moment I am happy to look up some nice premade skins and upload them.
  22. Can you be more specific to what the problem is Quincunx? I would be happy to go in and fix the problem immediately, but I don't know what feature you mean...*confused*
  23. Valka, The font color of people's signatures is a setting that each user changes themselves, so there is nothing in the skin that we can change to make them any more readable.
  24. There are now five new Skins available for use, including the new default "The Mighty Pen - Tan". Be sure to play around and see which one you like! -Oldschool -Medieval -Red Vision -Tower You can change the look of your Pen experience by scrolling down to the bottom of the page, clicking on "Change Theme," and selecting the skin you desire.
  25. A large black crow alighted on the windowsill with a clattering flap of wings. It peered around the office with beady eyes before taking a skip to land on the desk that was covered in papers. With a sigh, the crow shrugged its shoulders, ruffled it's feathers, and a moment later it had stretched and pulled into the shape of a long, lanky young woman with unevenly cut hair that flashed like a cuttlefish before settling down into a deep purple. Her ears were black and foxlike, cocked now in irritation, and her lizard-like tail twitched. Degorram placed her hands on her hips and shook her head. "I leave the window open for convenience and the wind ruins my organization." She leaned over and pulled the glass panes shut, and as if on command the papers flew into the air and settled back down, neatly stacked and categorized. She pulled a sour face at the many name plates on the wall and gently took them down, reading their names as she went: "Circe, Socrates, Poe, Dickens...Wyvern." Degorram paused on the last name and shook her head sadly. "I really should get my own name plate. Might be a bit less confusing." As she placed the name plates of former Application Associates into a drawer, she noticed one of the pieces of paper on her desk hopping about upright, as if to get her attention. She picked it up and scanned her eyes over it. "Ah!" she cried, her hair flashing turquoise. "Wonderful!" Grabbing the over-sized green stamp on her desk, she slammed it down on the paper, leaving a large, shimmering "ACCEPTED." Then Degorram tucked the paper into her files. She pulled out a sticky note and began scrawling a note on it -- "Dear Mom (do you prefer Delilah?), thank you for your application! You will find that it has been enthusiastically accepted and you now bear the title of Initiate. Welcome to the Pen! Sincerely, Degorram, the Applications Keeper." Degorram folded the sticky note into a paper swan and sent it flapping out the window to find its owner, wherever on the Pen complexes she might now be. OOC: Welcome to the Pen Delilah! Excellent show on the poem. I hope we'll see more from you very soon!
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