Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do - Juniper's backstory

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Re: Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do - Juniper's backstory

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Once they had passed the boiler room, they sneaked through a maze of corridors formed by steel-clad wood-framed walls all connected with rusty bolts. Eventually it lead them right into the heart of the former steam complex through a series of tunnels and pipes. This once active industrial installation was really huge, and Juniper wondered if the accident with the mines was the only reason why the owner had abandoned his facility like this. She realized however that the cost to tear something of this magnitude down, might be as much as erect a new one elsewhere. And thus this factory had probably been awaiting its destiny for decades now, until some corporation, or someone with at least a lot of money would see its potential and breathe new life into it.

And yet, it was crazy. They found nobody in here. No guards, no security. And no scavengers. That last thought had her heart beating faster and her lungs burning for air. But still she didn’t make too much sound nor dared to even whisper. The only sound was that of the wind softly blowing through the openings in walls and roof. They had been here, she has seen them with her own eyes. Bodago suggested it might have been because of the fever, but Juniper had remained unyielding. Something was going on in this place. Most rooms however they came across thus far were packed with huge machina, and with mangled tools scattered everywhere, and it all was looking decrepit and abandoned. Not a trace or a sign of human (or gnomish!) activities. And still, it felt like they were trespassing. Maybe a reason to feel badass?

Drops of moist fell on her cheek, and the air felt very stale and turned very warm as they approached the eastern section of the deserted site. It was also getting darker in this place, and they all had to watch out to not trip over any railway tracks. Well-maintained railways this time, Juniper noted, but she didn’t dare to say anything to the others. Not now. She perked up her ears as they cornered several huge piles of metal objects, probably once donations for the melting halls where they used excessive heat to recycle these. In this twilight, this place made Juniper think of one of those freak houses built for entertainment, the metal pieces and other garbage sticking out from the black massive piles, reminding her of bizarre, inhuman shapes she had seen in such a ‘funhouses’. And the more she started to think about her visit at such ‘place of tears and fright and fears’, the more she was starting to feel sick. What if…


But her stream of thoughts was suddenly interrupted when a completely new and relatively clean area came into sight after they had descended a metal staircase.

“What the hell is this place…” Spring started whispering.

Shhhh!” Pixel hushed the smallest gnome. “Someone is there!”

From behind a pile of crates the group looked out over some sort of sublevel street, with buildings on the other side that reminded Juniper of one of those storage places where things were locked behind bars, waiting for their owners to retrieve them. Small, warm lights flickered on and off in indiscriminate rhythms along the walls. Juniper noticed the smell of toxic waste even before she saw the guard across the street...

Image
Moire Rouge : 'Coins are flat, and are meant to be piled up.'
Juniper : 'Your local tinkerer!'
Kitty -Less hell, more cat-
Álfhildr Fältkrigare -Oaken soul-
Erickar Avery -More than meets the eye-
& Brendika F., Jyn R., Bash B., Lux, Rift, Jezebeth, Isabel C., Depheant M., Sona K.

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lum
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Re: Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do - Juniper's backstory

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Juniper peered along smoke stained walls and old rusty chains, discernible remnants of a once industrious and prosperous time these buildings must have known. Long, darkening shadows started to stretch across the place as they waited, indecisive, watching the guy who seemingly stood guard near one of the ten gates Juniper could perceive. One featured a dark metal door with numbers on the top frame. The lock also looked way more complicated than the ones on the barred metal gates, but it wouldn’t pose a problem for any of their nimble fingers.

Wait,... what?!

Why was she even considering to sneak over there and figuring she might be able to open that lock?? They were already trespassing, and probably would be severely punished by the authorities and whatsoever if they were caught and this all turned out to be legitimate business. It would be better if they’d just turn back now, and confess their unauthorized actions before they really got themselves into trouble. She turned around and was to address her sister about it, but then noticed that look in her sibling’s eyes, gleaming with excitement. Juniper sighed. Unfortunately, this was how her sister was. Way more adventurous and also determined to bring a little bit of justice around here. At times Pixel seemed to imagine herself as a member of the Copper Brigade, or some secret agency of sorts.

It didn’t matter. Juniper was actually very proud and very fond of her big sister Pixel. For who she was, and how she looked after those close to her. At night they still slept together as often as they could, chatting and talking till late under one of the workbenches back at the Bottlesocket factory. Pixel was her sister, her best friend, her everything. She knew she kinda clinged to her, but Pixel was also her only blood relative. Their parents they’ve never known, and neither they did know where they were born. She could never turn her back on Pixel, let alone abandon her, and so they were into this together. No matter the consequences. Who knows, this moment may even one day in the future be one of their fondest memories. Especially since they rarily adventured together in a setting as strange and as thrilling as this one.


She looked up, startled, at a sizzling sound right above them, and sensed how the blood drained from her cheeks as steam blew out of a small pipe protruding from the ceiling of the building. That… of course also drew the guard’s attention in their direction. They all ducked their heads behind the crates, and Juniper could sense her heart beating in her ears. Had he seen them or not?? Would he come to investigate nevertheless?? And what would she do if this all turned into a fight?? She absolutely didn’t want to fight. She didn’t even knew how to fight as all her young life she had been simply avoiding conflict whenever it occured.

Her sister had encouraged her to punch those bullies from her class on the nose back at the time, telling her they wouldn’t bother her anymore once she would bite back. But Juniper never dared to, frightened they might laugh even more at her if she’d miss, or when she hit they’d beat her up badly. She was no coward however. She just didn’t like to hurt people, imagining they might feel a pain similar to the pain her bullies’ words had had on her. And finally, revenge was a word which simply wasn’t listed in her dictionary. She had other distractions and other concerns which already occupied her mind more than enough. Positive things, constructive things, for that was her attitude, her… ‘configuration’.

No, if that guard popped his head in here and caught them, it was just better to apply a little lie in order to maintain peace. They could just tell him they wandered in here by accident and got lost. With one deafening shriek, the steam ceased to whistle. Just like the others Juniper lowered her hands, but she hadn’t been in time to prevent the sound from battering her ears, the overexposure to the noise now resulting in a loss of hearing as she had been closest to the pipe. She did hear things, only they didn’t have anything to do with their environment. The ‘sound’ in her head was constant, a multi-toned buzzing noise. Acoustic trauma’s like this sometimes go away, others were permanent if not treated properly. That was not a worry now though. The major problem was that she couldn’t hear anything at all right now, and though her sister Pixel knew a thing or two about magic, it was far too dangerous to use any verbal spellcasting. She didn’t even dare to ask her sister for it, since she wouldn’t be able to hear her own voice, let alone how loud she’d ask.


Juniper peeked over at the others, and then saw Bodago pointing at her and motioning to sit down and be silent. She stole a glance between two crates and saw the guard was on the move. In a moment he’d be coming down those stairs… right in Juniper’s direction. The Gond girl could only sense how panic began to cluster in her stomach, and how she struggled to controle her breathing. When she then perceived dark boots moving into sight at the turn of the metal staircase, there just didn’t seem enough oxygen in the air. Like as if an invisible hand had clasped over her mouth.

Bodago motioned like a wild maniac when he saw Juniper peeking. But the gnome didn’t know that Juniper couldn’t trust her hearing. Even the buzzing in her own ears sounded far far away. She wanted to close her eyes when she saw those large sized boots, likely man’s boots, worn and scuffed, heading her way. Instead she watched… transfixed...

Gond, no please! I’m still only a young girl!

Image
Moire Rouge : 'Coins are flat, and are meant to be piled up.'
Juniper : 'Your local tinkerer!'
Kitty -Less hell, more cat-
Álfhildr Fältkrigare -Oaken soul-
Erickar Avery -More than meets the eye-
& Brendika F., Jyn R., Bash B., Lux, Rift, Jezebeth, Isabel C., Depheant M., Sona K.

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lum
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Re: Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do - Juniper's backstory

Unread post by lum »

This time it was going to be for real. This time this wasn’t just one of her nightmares. An increasing tremor crept over all her limbs as adrenaline flooded her system. Her mind screamed at her body, ordering it to run away and fast, back through the old factory. But her body reacted in a different and odd way. Her eyes watered as her hand reached for an iron bar standing next to the crate.

I just can’t go hit anyone? Can I?

And then, for some unknown reason, those boots stopped half way down that last stairs which lead to the darker sunken floor where she sat crouched near a crate. She could now see the lower half of the man’s body, but not his torso or face. Big-eyed her gaze shifted to his hands. In one he held nothing, his other however carried a lengthy, razor-sharp curved sword. She saw how he seemed to balance and weigh the weapon, squeezing away at the hilt rather determined. This very instrument of death was clearly an extension of his arm, and she would have no chance against it.

It looked like a very good weapon too. The sleek and almost silvery metal had likely been heated in a controlled way in various parts of the lengthy body for maximum strength as well as flexibility, right before it must have been passed on to the polish worker to achieve that gleam with specialty stones. The outline of that hardenened zone was a fascinating piece of art. And the longer she considered that sophisticated mark of identification, the more she became convinced she was looking at some specialty weapon, one that was uncommon to the region.

A katana!!

It was almost strange to admire and appraise a piece of equipment in a situation like this. And likely it this was just her way to distract her mind from her inescapable fate. Doing something she was rather good at, or something she liked to do, helped her divert her mind and to find a sense of calm. Stopping her panic attack in all its tracks wasn’t possible, but she did feel like she was grounding herself a bit. It was also because that guy didn’t seem to step down any further. Perhaps he had encountered the source of the noise? That broken valve not so very high above her. Juniper squinted up. It looked as if it had stopped entirely with releasing hot air. Maybe he was now just investigating that.

Likely. It will be fine, Juniper. You’ll see.

She remained hidden behind the crate, and as she gradually became aware of her own heart again, she closed her eyes and drifted into a state of almost semi-consciousness. And she sat there waiting like that, until all of a sudden a hand slipped over her shoulder and mouth, albeit not with force. Her eyes flew open wide, but she calmed down when she saw Pixel’s face before her. Her sister’s lips were moving, but Juniper couldn’t hear what she was saying, so she just shook her head, and she shook it again, and then at what may have been another question she just shook it once more.

Pixel looked to her left, and motioned at someone to come closer. Bodago quickly joined them and seemed to examine Juniper before he nodded once at Pixel. Juniper sensed a hand on her head again, this time over her ear. And then another over her other ear. The gnome had taken her head between his hands, and moments later warmth and a familiar type of energy filled her ears. Magic, divine magic, and Bodaga was using it to… calm her? No… wait… he was restoring her hearing.

“… you hear… now… Juni….?” I

Her silent world with this dull beeping in the background was now interrupted with voices that first sounded deep like the ocean, but gradually became clear and comprehensible. She nodded at Pixel.

“… is… big relief… need… get out here… Can… walk?” Her sister inquired as she offered Juniper her hands.

She was pulled back to her feet, and as soft as possible she asked. “Where did he go?”

Pixel looked at Bodago who shrugged, right before she turned back to her sister, frowning. “They left about an hour ago. Didn’t you see?”

An hour!??? Holy Gond!

“Uh… no…” Juniper frowned as well. “Maybe I passed out a little?” She blushed.

Pixel smirked a bit as she hugged her sister briefly. “A little? Not sure how you can pass out just a little. Anyways, we need to leave, and we need to consider what to do with our information.”

“Information?”

“Boy, you really passed out, didn’t you? We think these guys are smugglers.”

“Smugglers?” Juniper felt like as if she had just missed quite the adventure. “What were they smuggling?”

“Toxic waste. Likely illegally dumped here from alchemists’ labs who are trying to dodge the processing fees and taxes. They had a wagon full of barrels, and one of those was leaking some of its content.” She held Juniper at arm’s length. “Are you sure you are alright?”

“Just a little bit uh… disorientated I think. Where you think they are taking it?”

Pixel rubbed her chin. “Well… I’m guessing to the southern island.”

“To Suj?”

“Yeah, and from the shore straight into the jungle I’m betting.” Bodago filled in.

Meanwhile the other two gnomes had joined them as well. “We should go see on which ship they are loading this stuff.” Spring, the youngest and smallest suggested. “That will give our story some extra credibility. Though, it’s not a very unlikely thing to happen around here. And of the southern island it is common knowledge that outlaws tend to operate there more than here.”

“Plus, the Copper Brigade’s arm doesn’t reach that far.” Bunk said, absently rubbing his brash fist pieces. It was clear the gnome was eager to teach someone a lesson with those.

Pixel, sixteen years old and otherwise the most adventurous one of them, shook her head. “We’re not going after them. Not really. My sister still has to recover a bit, and I don’t want us to be in danger. However, I like the idea of tracking down that ship. They haven’t seen us, they don’t know us, so we could be just a group that is strolling about the quays. And we still have a few hours left before it’s dark, so we don’t look any suspicious.”

Three gnome heads nodded, meaning they agreed. Then, they all looked at Juniper.

The red-pink haired girl was briefly looked around and then back at them, blinking. “Uhh…”

Image
Moire Rouge : 'Coins are flat, and are meant to be piled up.'
Juniper : 'Your local tinkerer!'
Kitty -Less hell, more cat-
Álfhildr Fältkrigare -Oaken soul-
Erickar Avery -More than meets the eye-
& Brendika F., Jyn R., Bash B., Lux, Rift, Jezebeth, Isabel C., Depheant M., Sona K.

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lum
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Re: Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do - Juniper's backstory

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The skyline at this part of Sambar’s port was one that was a mix of heavy-duty dockside ‘titans’ and hardwood ramrod-straight masts of which several reached up to two hundred feet towards the heavens. The gnomes and girls passed a shipyard where a shipbuilder had been commisioned to restore an antique craft to its unique, prior splendor. Juniper found herself in awe at the added embellishment of a teakwood hull polished to a luminous sheen, which made it look as seaworthy as a frigate of Lantan’s navy.

Up ahead, a couple of wind-driven fans were gently spinning in the early evening breeze, their gearboxes ensuring efficient power transfers required to assist smaller handling cranes with lifting cargo on and off the vessels moored. This job was really a milk run like this, also because this anchoring site was located in a water channel which was preserved from waves and tides thanks to an ingenious and complex system of sluices and locks.

Slowly, one by one, self-filling oil lamps which would burn all evening and night, were lit by one of the harbor’s lamplighters, a human worker who was carrying around a ladder and a lengthy pole. The chemical composition had been developed by the city’s alchemists, and once burning, it spread a light that was nearly as bright as lightning or ignited gas. Hundreds of these light sources had been erected along the docks, while private shipyards relied on their own ways to ensure safety at full darkness.

They passed another site where halliards, sails and riggings had been commissioned to one of the most renowned ship refurbishing companies in the world, founded by one of Lantan’s local maritime heroes. Next to it, a couple of blue and green warehouses serving the purpose of naval trade, were lined up just behind the docks.


“There… could that be them?” Bunk suddenly pointed.

All five of them looked over at a group on the other side of the quay. The men they spotted were attired however as simple crewmen, and carried no weapons.

“Hmm… no.” Pixel sounded determined. “I saw some of their scruffy faces, and one of them was a ginger, and another looked like a veteran soldier or something.” She shook her head. “Let’s keeping going, it’s only a matter of time before it gets dark.”

As the sky darkened slowly, they passed the yard that served the High Crafthouse, a site that had been built on the eastern flank of the Sambar, and which was regarded by Gond’s Holy Council as the site for future tech-smiths to master naval engineering feats of the highest order. This place was located away far enough from the main current of the river to avoid silting, but provided access to ships in high tide as well. Juniper smiled as she recognized where they were.

But... it also distracted her, and she didn’t notice how the others before her took another turn that lead them in between towers of cargo and away from the city, while she was rather moving back towards it while admiring the site and buildings reserved for devotees of the Wonderbringer. She remembered how hundred of years ago, the High Artificer of that time, had ordered to have this built in this steep-sided canyon cut into the coastal rock by forces of nature. It was the perfect spot to hide away their latest innovations on ship building from prying, mostly foreign eyes. Of course, thousands of workers had had to alter the site just enough so the buildings would fit. Under the bridge and below her feet, fresh water from a source hundreds of miles further inland, still continued to erode rock and stone.

Image
Moire Rouge : 'Coins are flat, and are meant to be piled up.'
Juniper : 'Your local tinkerer!'
Kitty -Less hell, more cat-
Álfhildr Fältkrigare -Oaken soul-
Erickar Avery -More than meets the eye-
& Brendika F., Jyn R., Bash B., Lux, Rift, Jezebeth, Isabel C., Depheant M., Sona K.

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lum
Posts: 852
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:37 pm

Re: Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do - Juniper's backstory

Unread post by lum »

At some point she realized she was alone. Not that it was quiet though at this prototype shipyard. Young tech-smiths, just like she was to about to become, worked here day and night on their senior thesis projects. Juniper already knew what she was going to pick when it was her time. She’d make a Gondsman of her own. It was a commonly selected assignment, but her version would be special.

She’d make it a flawless design, not so raw or tough like many others, and with eyes that shine bright and warm. Oh! And somehow she would fix it up so it can smile… just so it would look friendly. In life, especially in hers, friends didn’t seem to come that very easily. So she had no desire whatsoever to scare anyone off even before introductions. Her Gondsman would be perfect, and maybe it would make her a little more accepted too? She sighed as she turned away from the site and went to look for the others.

Friends… how could I ever trust anyone else besides the very few I trust, after the whole thing with the oil and feathers, and bullying at school...

She had to admit it has lessened to almost nothing... but one, she’d be always on her guard regardless. Likely forever. And two… the fact they were not on her back anymore didn’t have anything to do with her, but with her sister. She knew Pixel dealt with them, somehow. It was one thing Pixel didn’t want to talk about, no longer considering it an issue and seeing it as ‘case closed’.

Hanging out with some seniors has been fun though, and she figured she may rather have to look in circles like that to find friends. Perhaps they’d at least understand her whenever she was talking again about one of her ideas.

Yes… there is wisdom in those thoughts… and maybe I find a handsome boy among them who is the most gentle of souls, but who’d also fight for me… and… and… he has to have soft hands, and a soft voice, and speak with gentle words and… and he has to be a gentleman. And he has to be good w...

Stop that!! Don’t be so… so primitive, Juniper!

I wanna drown in his eyes though…


She giggled soft to herself, flushing as she re-entered the common parts of Sambar’s harbor.

Image

Hmf, where did they go?

She passed a crane, and on the surface of its chains rust’s effects had rippled along the entire surface and burst through like some bad skin disease at a few critical points.

If I’d be the foreman here...

As her mind processed the view critically In the distance, she overheard the tolling of a church bell. Once, twice… nine times. And when she looked around, that is when she saw them...
Moire Rouge : 'Coins are flat, and are meant to be piled up.'
Juniper : 'Your local tinkerer!'
Kitty -Less hell, more cat-
Álfhildr Fältkrigare -Oaken soul-
Erickar Avery -More than meets the eye-
& Brendika F., Jyn R., Bash B., Lux, Rift, Jezebeth, Isabel C., Depheant M., Sona K.

User avatar
lum
Posts: 852
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:37 pm

Re: Imagine, Create, Inspire and Do - Juniper's backstory

Unread post by lum »

Her sister and the gnomes were on the other side of an two layer aqueduct which rose from the harbor floor like a line of strong oaks. It was however getting pretty dark, and Juniper didn’t want to yell. Besides, it appeared they were stalking someone. And thus Juniper tried to follow them. There were however many obstacles between her family and her. This was also one of the less busy places of Sambar as this was merely used for storage, both outdoor as well as indoor. It made sense though. If those guys were actually smugglers or something, this area could be used to operate more or less out of sight of the Copper Brigade.

From the outside some of these buildings appeared abandoned, some were roofless and windowless, and every single storm would pound the interior with tons of rain. If suspecting criminal activity in sections of the harbor, these would likely be the last place to look. As she silently tried to catch up with her family in this maze of storehouses, she found herself surrounded by shappy wood paneling, frames with dusty broken glass, and creaky doors bolted with rusty rods and from which chalky paint fell in fragments on the cobblestoned floor. Not exactly the most charming spot to be.


She was just in time to see how they entered one of the buildings through a doorless opening, huge cobwebs hanging loosely in the doorframe. The structure was no different from others with windows above who either were cracked or missing. It was extremely bone-chilling to enter the place herself but nevertheless she did. Almost immediately after stepping into the darkness, from behind her a hand clasped over her mouth, jerking her backwards.

Then, as she wanted to resist, her sister’s voice whispered near her ear. “Don’t… make a sound. We almost got them.”

Almost got them?? What does Pixel mean by that??

She looked up at them after she was dragged behind a crate and down on the floor. Pixel craned her neck to look over the obstacle, and it’s then she heard the voices. Foreigners by the sounds of it as their knowledge of Lantanese seemed limited. But even as they were mixing with some other language, Juniper could clearly understand they were arguing. Someone made a small comment which stirred a storm of hoarse and harsh insults.

Are they gonna fight?? And what are they arguing about?

Then, one booming voice sliced through the air and the rest fell silent again. It was then that she dared to peek over the crate as well...
Moire Rouge : 'Coins are flat, and are meant to be piled up.'
Juniper : 'Your local tinkerer!'
Kitty -Less hell, more cat-
Álfhildr Fältkrigare -Oaken soul-
Erickar Avery -More than meets the eye-
& Brendika F., Jyn R., Bash B., Lux, Rift, Jezebeth, Isabel C., Depheant M., Sona K.

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