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April 4th, 1889 — Knockturn Alley
For Conundrum Roulette

The night is often dark, and can be full of terrors if you find yourselves in the wrong pocket of it—and Knockturn Alley is distinctly the wrong pocket. Quiet and dingy by daylight, the district truly comes alive at night and a wrong turn, misplaced apparition, or intentional trek can see you lost within its labyrinth of side-streets, alleyways, and dead ends.

Enter our intrepid heroes, a vampire, and a minor explosion. What's the worst that could happen?

No post order, but please wait two days or two posts before replying again!

@Cyrus Westerman, @J. Alfred Darrow/@Ophelia Devine, @Petra Sleptova/@Ursula Black, @Azazel/@Benedict Sterling, @Theodore Gallivan/@Elias Grimstone
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   Ophelia Devine

Are your characters stuck in the smalltalk loop?
Does your imagination feel like it just can't perform as it used to?
Mid-thread crisis getting you down?
Unable to get that post up?
Is your relationship suffering because of your inability to satisfy your partner?
With a little intervention from @The Suggestionizer your RP life could be back on track in no time!

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Known side-effects include: chronic ridiculousness, immense satisfaction, itching, uncontrollable laughter, burning, deep regret, despair, shock, horror, incidental dismemberment, joy, and death. Use at your own risk!
Winter was always a slower season for nautical men, given the storms that tended to rage only a few miles off any coastline. In Alfred's day it had been the practice of the Navy to spend most winters refitting and refurbishing their vessels before things picked up again in spring, and he would have been happy to continue the trend. The problem was, after several months of fundraising for his two ships, he had poured every cent into the Avalon expedition, which left next to nothing in the coffers for repairs. With ships that were somewhat less than ship-shape, as it were, Alfred had been forced to pick up whatever nautical work he could find freelance in order to make do until the weather warmed. This had taken him, on more than one occasion, to Knockturn Alley as his ships helped ferry vessels through treacherous waters (vessels which were laden with goods both legal and slightly less-than, if he understood correctly).

What he didn't know wouldn't hurt him, though, and so Alfred had stayed as blissfully ignorant of the nature of these journeys as possible. They had returned only a few hours ago from a week-long underway, and although it was late, Alfred had decided it would be best to go and see his employer for their payment straight off. It was more likely to find a shop open in Knockturn during the night than during the early morning, and his crew would want to be paid sooner rather than later, so there was no reason to delay. Besides, it wasn't as though anything was really different about Knockturn after dark — even if it certainly felt different.

On second thought, maybe he'd apparate home instead of walking back from the storefront. He didn't want to run into any shady characters, particularly with his pockets full of gold.

He was just cutting through an alleyway and back to one of the main roads (he knew Knockturn better than he might have preferred after the past few months) when the wall to his left began to crumble with a loud noise. Alfred turned to try and see what had caused the explosion, but took a brick to the head instead, which knocked him to the ground.
Her evening was going horrifically. Pet didn't like parties at the best of times but this evening had been a disaster from the very start. Her eye had popped out in the middle of a dance and as if that wasn't bad enough, someone had stepped on it and fallen over which had caused quite the spectacle. Humiliated, Pet had sheepishly retrieved her glass eye and intended to sentence herself to a self-imposed exile for the rest of the night, avoiding as much interaction with people as was possible.

Ordinarily she didn't drink anything alcoholic if she could help it, she thoroughly disliked the notion of voluntarily impairing her brain function even if it was on a temporary basis. Tonight, however, was an exception. She understood alcohol could dull other things besides the senses such as negative emotions and as she couldn't leave yet and couldn't face the party either, she decided just this once to try it. It was an experiment really, she told herself.

Merely two glasses of some pale colored liquid later Pet decided she preferred being embarrassed rather than trapped in her suddenly clumsy body that was liable to say or do something she'd regret. Deciding fresh air was probably the best way to make it go away, she delicately (in her attempt to minimize her lacking coordination) made her way towards the nearest door which happened to be the one she'd entered by.

The outside air did not immediately cure her and so she misguidedly decided a brief walk up and down the street would set her right. Except this was London and the fog was thick, the light was dim, and she was not in possession of her wits. Before she knew it she was lost. Now very distressed, she took out her wand and was on the verge of apparating home when the thought of splinching occurred to her. What if she not only splinched herself but also ended up in the wrong location and got into worse trouble? The building she'd come from couldn't be far she'd surely be able to find it if she persevered a bit longer.

A considerable amount of time passed and she was just about starting to sober up, at least enough so that she was starting to realize the implications of being a young unmarried female wandering alone at night in a large city. If she managed to get home without incident it'd be nothing short of a miracle if the whole of Hogsmeade hadn't gotten wind of her suspicious disappearance. The shame and disappointment she'd bring her father... Pet blinked back a tear and realized she'd been staring vacantly at a sign she recognized. The Leaky Cauldron! Someone there could surely help her. A fully sober Pet might have stopped to consider that The Leaky Cauldron was an inn and thus no place for her, especially at this time of evening, but then a sober Pet wouldn't have been there in the first place.

Upon entering The Leaky Cauldron she finally realized it was not the sort of place she felt comfortable lingering about and rather than go back out into muggle London, she hastily continued on through to Diagon Alley. She realized now that she was garnering looks from the few people who were still out and about which oughtn't to have perplexed her so considering she was dressed for a night of dancing. Her feet carried her clumsily but fairly swiftly through the street avoiding incident until someone grabbed her arm. The adrenaline started to kick in and she squealed, wriggling out of their grasp and running away as best she could in heels on a cobbled street. She turned down a street and the sound of a very close explosion startled her so much that she almost lost her footing, it was only a few seconds later that she finally did fall flat on her face. She was distinctly aware that she'd tripped over something large and somewhat soft but solid enough to send her flying. Pet had managed to hit her head on the cobbles and knock her eye out for the second time that night but she thought she might at least be sober now or certainly close to it.

Lifting her head a fraction, she managed to turn it just enough to identify the thing she'd tripped over as a man. She didn't have time to look at him any closer, however, for she could hear her eyeball starting to roll away from her. She managed to clap a hand over it before it got away but didn't immediately restore it to her eye socket. She couldn't be here, she had to get home or at least back to the party before things could get out of hand. It might even already be too late...

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   Ophelia Devine

Thank you Bee for my stunning Secret Swap gift <3
It had fallen from his bag.

Cyrus realized this as he stared up at the gas-lit lamp post, ears still ringing from the blast that had knocked him flat on his back. The vials were supposed to have been entirely stable—that would teach the healer to trust the word of any man who peddled his wares in Knockturn Alley. The vial he had checked had been essence of dittany, true enough, but the others, at least one of them, must have been a more explosive pretender. Damn him for not being more thorough!

Wincing at the sting and throb of it, the wizard moved into a sitting position, ears still ringing as he looked about to get his bearings. Clearly his lack of vigilance had had other casualties: as Cyrus rose shakily to his feet, he could see no fewer than two others had been knocked to the ground.

"Are you well?" he asked cautiously, voice hoarse, to no one in particular. As a healer, his duty was to tend to the wounded—particularly as their injuries, if they had any, were likely his doing. As someone doing shady business with shady people, though, every nerve in his body was screaming at him to flee before he drew more attention to himself.

Rather wobbly (and thus, not at all firmly), Cyrus stood his ground. At least for now.
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   Ophelia Devine

MJ is pretty nifty @ graphics, if I do say so myself!
Now this was more like it. Azazel swung her leg lazily as she lay on the roof of a nearby lookout window. The day had passed as usual, but she wasn't entirely sure if she was still hungry or not. She sighed and shifted the hood of her cloak so she could see. If she could sleep she would have just woken up from a nap; nowadays, she just daydreamed.

But now she was bored.

Grumbling rather crankily, Zel kicked the roof in frustration as she looked up at the sky. It happened all rather suddenly. An explosion ripped through the air, making her snap to attention. Twisting her body around, she peered down at the ground and saw an interesting scene. Two figures lay below her. One clearly knocked out, and the other looking like he'd just been disorientated. A noise of interest escaped her as her body became more alert and she watched them. One man didn't move, and the other just sat there. Zel pouted. While she could convince herself to be hungry, this was hardly an enjoyable catch. Any easy meal might as well be regarded as such. She grimaced distastefully and made to lean back when another movement caught her attention.

She'd missed a third figure on the ground, this one female. She quite reminded Azazel of a frightened animal. As she watched the girl scramble about for an object that had fallen out of her reach, she realized that it wasn't that the girl had been holding it. It was a glass eye, and she'd been wearing it. A laugh threatened to betray her location and Azazel managed to keep it down. "What a delightful little lamb," she muttered quietly to herself.

This night had certainly taken an interesting turn indeed. Azazel leapt gracefully down a level so she could see the scene a bit more clearly. Making no attempt to hide at this point, the vampire perched on the lower roof's edge. If she'd taken one more leap she would have been on the ground. Her dress swished about her legs as she swung her feet like a little girl eagerly watching a child's play.

[Image: AzazelSig.png]
"Follow him," the Auror with him demanded, from where he was curled up on the floor, still convulsing.

Every atom in him felt it wrong to leave him here - the operation had gone badly from the start - but he was supposed to defer to instruction. And if he didn't, the offender would get away again, and they had been tracking him for weeks now. If he disappeared again, it might be years, and countless more deaths would be on their hands because of it.

So he dashed down the stairs of the boarded-up house, burst out through the door. The bastard was wandless now: he couldn't disapparate. Theo could still get him. Wand out, he was racing through the streets at the ready for a confrontation - when the sound of an explosion threw him off.

Warily, Theodore edged around the corner, and saw, in the dim light, a man upright, towering over a scene that was littered with more bodies. Shit.

He wasn't close enough to see whether or not they were moving, so he sprang forwards into the street. "Stay where you are," Theodore warned, pointing his wand at the man who had been closest to the explosion, and yet the only one now standing. He had to be the same wizard... But he was wandless, and if he made any move towards his bag for another explosive, he'd Stun him.

In his haste to catch him, he hadn't seen the vampire on the roof behind him.
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   Idunn Fraser

Alfred opened his eyes just a sliver against the horrible pounding in his head. Shadows resolved themselves into fuzzy shapes — a pair of men standing in the street before him, a figure hunched over a little farther away, the vague outlines of buildings, something irregular sticking up against the skyline — a gargoyle on the rooftop? Sort of a strange place for decorative architecture, but he wasn't in any sort of mental position to be questioning the shop owners of Knockturne Alley's building choices.

He pushed himself into a sitting position but regretted it immediately as the scene before him started to swim. He blinked, trying to bring the world back into focus, and lifted up one hand to gingerly touch his forehead. Touching it was a mistake — it hurt, in a sharper and clearer way than the repeated pounding before — and his fingers came away wet. He assumed with blood, but since he couldn't really see even as far as his hand to determine the color, he couldn't be sure.

"Ugh," he moaned quietly, unaware of the drama playing out before him.
Warily, Cyrus raised his hands so they were at shoulder height, indicating he was of little threat—especially not compared to the youth currently pointing a wand at him.

"I am trained as a healer," he words were carefully chosen and offered in a measured cadence, slowly, as if soothing a startled fawn—or a rabid dog. "I would like to check on them—" he gestured with one hand to where the people lay on the ground "—and ensure any injuries are not critical."

MJ is pretty nifty @ graphics, if I do say so myself!
Theodore was torn.

This was supposed to be what he was training for - trained for, very nearly - but none of this night was happening as it had been supposed to. He was not supposed to be alone on the street, was not supposed to have left his partner behind, was not supposed to falter like this under pressure when he never had before -

There were bodies on the street, but did he dare take his eyes off the man before him? The man sounded calm - almost too calm - and had a story to tell, but what had he learned from this if not vigilance? Dark wizards were not to be trusted. He should wait for backup, perhaps, take this man into custody before he got away. Or he should let the man flee, and attempt to help the casualties themselves, rather than possibly let this man finish the job right before his eyes.  

One of the victims was stirring now, Theo could see out of the corner of his eye, sitting up, murmuring. There was blood, but - at least he was conscious.

“Show me what’s in the bag,” he ordered, not lowering his wand. He couldn’t just let the stranger attend to the bystanders without even knowing if the man’s story held up. What if he tried to set off a second explosion? If Theo could just remove the threat of that -

As painful as the collision between her forehead and the cobbles had been, she was fortunate enough to have only sustained enough damage to result in bruising that would probably be very colorful in a few hours time. It had at least seemed to have chased off the remaining effects of the drink even if she was seeing stars in her one good eye. Pet didn't have time to fret over her throbbing forehead, however, she seemed to have very literally stumbled into some sort of commotion that she didn't want to be a part of and she really did have to get back.

With her eyeball clutched tightly in her clammy fist, Pet scrambled back to her feet with considerable difficulty thanks to her dress. Her knees hurt and she realized she must have hit them hard against the ground too. Hopefully her dress wasn't too filthy, not that she was precious about it but it wouldn't look good when she got home. Her step-mother would probably try to have her shipped off to finishing school after this, provided she actually survived the night. She realized now that she was on her feet that part of her problem getting there was that her surroundings seemed to be swaying.

Pet brushed her glass eye vigorously against her skirt and pushed it back into her eye socket. With a quiet yet satisfying 'squish' noise it was back in place and she allowed herself to turn around to see what hellish situation she was in the middle of. One man was brandishing a wand at another man, the man she'd tripped over seemed to be not a corpse, and she wanted to leave. Fixing her gaze on the way she just come, she tried to discreetly scurry off before she could get further involved. She had only moved a few swift steps when she had to abruptly stop and reach about for the nearest surface to lean against before she lost her balance or threw up.

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   Aldous Crouch

Thank you Bee for my stunning Secret Swap gift <3
If anyone had told her she'd find this so deliciously entertaining, Azazel would have agreed. A rather good looking wizard showed up, brandishing his wand at another, demanding to see what was in his bag. Was it the bag holder that caused this explosion? The vampire peered down at the scene unfolding. "You'd best do what he says," she trilled at the bag holder as she swung her feet gleefully and got up to stand on the roof. Her eye caught the girl trying to escape and she grinned, flitting to the corner of the rooftop and prancing down to street-level. If this poor one-eyed little creature got away, that'd take away half the fun! Ohhh, wait until she told Ishmael about this!

"Poor poppet," she simpered, reaching out and making to stroke the girl's hair. In Zel's mind, her own curls had been so much prettier - so much more glossy - than this girl's. She didn't like to know that reality had made them rather limp, refusing to cooperate with her no matter how much she curled them. "You don't want to leave now, do you?" she said, widening her eyes innocently. "The fun's about to start!"

[Image: AzazelSig.png]
"It is on your shoulders if they perish because you've wasted time!" Cyrus muttered darkly even as he moved to obediently open the bag. The young lad, he suspected, would not even know what he was looking at!
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   Ophelia Devine

MJ is pretty nifty @ graphics, if I do say so myself!
He was supposed to be in control of this situation, somehow. Merlin knew what he'd gotten himself into. Merlin knew why he thought he was any good at this. Because there were lives hanging in the balance here, and this was no test-run, no way to regain the seconds he was losing or to second-guess decisions and - and it was all going south very quickly.

But difficult situations were not something you could just run away from, not when one man was still on the floor and the girl seemed to be having difficulty moving, and some other creature had just sprung down from a roof and, in a chilling tone, declared this scene as fun. Theodore swallowed, and reassessed the man he'd thought was his biggest threat in light of her. She was pale - too pale - and too fast and too nimble to be human. Whatever the man had in his bag, it could not be as dangerous as this.    

So Theodore threw out his inspection and pushed the bag back towards the man who'd said he was a healer, turning on his heel to face the woman - vampire? - his wand still in hand, hoping he looked like more of a threat than he felt. If she was a vampire, she couldn't do magic and that might prove her downfall, if she didn't kill them all first. "Get them out of here," Theodore hissed to the stranger, in a change of tack he hoped would save their lives. Merlin help him if the man was a dark wizard. As for him - he had faced down his father as a werewolf once, and he had been younger and more unprepared than this -

An unpleasant turn had grown less desirable still. Bag returned to him and clutched now to his chest, Cyrus moved towards the strangers, though the arrival of a woman who practically screamed danger with the sinews of her body gave him pause—he was no hero, after all.

MJ is pretty nifty @ graphics, if I do say so myself!
Her attention was drawn away from her one eyed target to the mistake she'd made at making herself known. There was only one way she was getting out of here alive, and it wasn't through blood. There was no way she'd survive facing down a wizard with a bang-stick. She pouted. When she said fun she meant for her, not them!

Clearly a change of tactic was needed. Dinner would have to wait a few more days. Perhaps she'd try those blood-pops everyone talked about. Changing tactics the vampire turned to face the man with the wand pointed at her. The other one was wide-eyed and rightly ready to run. Looked like he would scatter at the sight of a piece of parchment in the wind. She flashed a smile at him and waved as if she were a small child waving to an adult from the skirts of their guardian.

"Would you be talking about me?" she said, pitching her voice higher. There was no way pitching her voice would even marginally work at letting her escape, but it might make her less threatening. Her eyes zoomed towards a few pebbles at her feet. Kicking them towards the auror would be perhaps her only chance of escaping, however it was only a matter of time.

[Image: AzazelSig.png]

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