Begin...Continue...Continue...Continue...Continue...Continue...OliveWhiskeyCoreyMavisContinue...StorefrontGardensThe PitTherepy ShackArcher HomeThe CottageThe Corvid OakContinue...Credits
Mavis watches the clouds in the distance darken over the course of several hours. This is her third cup of coffee, and the last before switching to something more fitting for a lazy afternoon, perhaps tea. She sits on her front porch, the paint on the wood stripped and peeling. The home is old. She raised a family here; lost a husband here. It was only natural that leaving would be hard. She takes a sip and listens to the creak of her rocking chair as she gently leans back and forth. Mavis has signs of graying hair and laugh lines marking her face. Her attire screams "soccer mom," and her way of speaking has that classic southern twang to it. The boys up north used to love that. She turns and stares at an urn of ashes on the table to her right. "I know I said I'd die in this house," She stops, as if waiting for a response or maybe just mustering the strength to finish her statement, "but someone has to keep those kids out of trouble."
Mavis hears a sudden rumble in the distance and nods. "That olive," she says the to urn. "Doesn't know how to take no for an answer, that girl." She stands up, takes the urn, and waits. "Bless her heart. It would be nice to have one last adventure." She watches the tree line. All is still and calm save for the low rumble. Like a giant's footsteps, it rattles the earth. Even the house shakes with every step. Moments later, the source of the rumble appears. A double wide trailer home darts across the canopy, but it's so much more than that. A Wooden deck wraps around the entire structure with steps leading up to what appears to be a humble wooden cottage. Jutting out of the center of the structure is a massive oak tree, the roots of which hold it all together. Black birds flock and flutter around the tree as the house moves. How is it moving? Mavis thinks to herself. She narrows her eyes and smiles. On the underside of the structure sits a mass of black, fleshy, viscous viscera. It's obviously organic, like a strange tumor growing out of the central structure, but it flows like tar.
From this mass, five chicken-like legs with talons stretch to the ground. Each takes a step with little to no thought. Just as it reaches the edge of her property, Mavis hears a car alarm blaring, likely triggered by its clumsy and aimless gait. She laughs as the house stops on her front lawn, the legs receding into the black mass and lowing the house to the ground. "She actually did it." Olive opens the door with a wide grin. There's a glow about her, a red in the cheeks that Mavis can't recall seeing once since she's known the girl. Olive calls out to her, "Miss Mavis?" "Yes, ma'am." Mavis replies. "Dread Romantic is officially open for business." She gives a wink and gestures for Mavis to come inside. "Care to join us?”
Dread Romantic is many things. It's the first of its kind, an esoteric emporium, an occult co-op offering goods and services of a magical nature to any and all willing to barter and trade. It's also the first time since the end of the world that a group of Touched gathered together to achieve a common goal. The organization operates out of a strange amalgam of real-estate, a structure that would become synonymous with the organization itself. It's a walking neighborhood in a sense. Every member's home is somehow fused to the structures base. Despite the endless motion, the structure is stable and strong. You wouldn't even notice it on the inside. It's membership is small but the organization commands a level of power few could rival. With this many spell workers cooperating, each with their own unique skill set, anything is possible.
It starts with Olivia Strand. She was among the first wave of touched to learn magic, and this early adoption had its benefits. The more one learns of magic, the more rules there happen to be to learn. The more you study it, the more complicated it becomes. It's as if magic doesn't want to be understood... unless you're like Olive. Olive can learn all she wants to about magic, and she can teach it with little to no consequence. She set a plan into motion, a group of touched offering their services to any and all as they explore and learn more about the new world they find themselves in. When the world ended, much was lost. Magic suddenly appeared and someone needs to figure out why and how. Not only is it a pursuit of knowledge, but it is also a humanitarian effort. Members trade goods and services, powerful magic, for whatever they can make use of. This makes their goods affordable and ensures better lives for each community they encounter
Olivia "Olive" Strand | The Bird Woman | Woodswitch.
Everything you learn about spellwork can change the rules and in some cases knowing too much can make it impossible to use magic at all. Olive is immune to this rule. As such, her services include teaching magic to other touched and products she creates to better quality of life. Olive is a woodswitch, a mishmash of various pagan and new age traditions that developed in the early days of magic just before the end of the world. It was the natural progression of the E-Witch when the internet became inaccessible. Their skills are broad, and while they rarely specialize, they tend to always have a tool for any given situation. Surrounding shanty towns refer to her as The Bird Woman due to her many winged companions, a vast swarm of corvids she can speak to and command.
Sits-with-whiskey | Shaman
Whiskey is a young native woman who grew up on a reservation in Oklahoma. She's particularly skilled at working with wildlife and nature, especially in cases where the nature is questionable and life is more... exotic. She serves as an intermediary for nature or if the situation calls for it, a hunter. She also has an affinity for spirits and other forms of life beyond the physical. Many of the strange qualities of Dread Romantic's storefront are only possible through her dealings with spirits. She's also capable of learning from these entities. She can shift her form to that of any creature she successfully hunts, for example, and can also track just about anything in some way or another.
Corey Strand |Doomsday Therapist
The Doomsday Therapists are highly sought after in communities that know they exist. The end of the world brought about more than enough trauma and travel through direwoods can be dangerous. Therapists can help with both. Their nomadic lifestyle guarantees they won't be around for long, however. For this reason, Corey is often overbooked shortly after the organization's arrival in a new settlement. He offers entertainment, a shoulder to cry on, and his spellcraft is unlike any other. Therapists use the power of words. They always know what to say, and when to say it, altering emotions to speed up the process of healing In a way no one else can. A session can last less than half an hour and do more than years of therapy and medication.
Mavis Archer | Alchemist | Apothecary... Cat Wrangler
The oldest member, and resident alchemist, Mavis produces the widest assortment of goods and services. Her potions and salves are popular but she's always willing to offer a stiff drink and a good meal. In fact, few who enter Dread Romantic leave hungry. She's a capable gardener and well versed in what she refers to as "kitchen sorcery," a term referring to her highly experimental concoctions. Her presence is often jarring, as few can imagine a woman in her fifties congregating with the other, more youthful members. She is, however, a vital component to the organization's success. Her level headedness and legal background as a lawyer before the end of the world does wonders in keeping the group together, as does her "mama-bear" personality.
Dread Romantic is labyrinthine in structure and this is by design. Don't be fooled by the nonsensical architecture. Only those who live there can navigate it, preventing those who don't belong from going where they shouldn't. Still, there is a method to the madness, a layout of designated spaces that each have a purpose serving the greater whole, and pitfalls for those who stray. It's fair to say that once you enter, you leave the world behind you. This is their world and it follows their rules, as should you. The first thing one sees before entering the storefront is an impossible structure defying all laws and reason. A neon sign displays the words "Dread Romantic" in bright blue lettering. This sign is lit only when open, following no known schedule. It's not clear how the structure maintains and creates power.
The mobile home serving as the central structure is the main storefront of the organization. Inside is a wide space bigger than the outside should physically allow and furnished with a variety of tables and chairs. Shelves line the walls, each stocked with potions, tools for spellwork, and devices. It functions much like a bar, though it defies that definition in many ways. This is also where scheduling and negotiation occurs for those wishing to use services on offer. There are three exits from here, one leading to the gardens, one leading out the way you'd come in, and another that leads to Whiskey's residence, which is naturally off limits to the public.
The gardens are available for those who want to explore, its winding paths wrapping around the entirety of Dread Romantic. Food is grown here along with other ingredients used for the organization's products. Due to the frequency of chromatic rain and the use of magic, anything grown can be taken… within reason. The gardens will take you to any other location in the structure, if you can navigate them. Those who get lost snooping where they shouldn't often report winding paths that never end, as if the garden is alive and shifting constantly.
Reports concerning the gardens also include a wooden door that leads to nowhere out in the open along the garden's path. The door is old and rotted with a sign posted on the front that says "Do not open for your own safety." and "Turn Back!" If one were to open this door, and they shouldn't… don't open this door, they would find The Pit. It's just that. It's a bottomless pit in the center of an empty room with concrete floors. The members of Dread Romantic divert all waste and trash to this location and dump it inside. If you were to enter the room, and you won't, of course, but if you did, you would hear whispers. Something is in that hole and once you step beyond the door, you belong to it. No one knows what happens after that. Most refuse to step inside once they hear the whispers… it's assumed.
by Jonas Off
The Therepy shack
A makeshift structure stands in the garden, a shack made of sheet metal, plywood, and 2x4s. It is wrapped and coated in vines and thick foliage, decorated with blooming flowers, their colors always dark and muted. This is Corey Strand's shack and where sessions with him take place. The muted colors of the flowers always seem moreso during this time, growing darker the longer the session happens to be. Corey can be found outside strumming a guitar when not in session, as he seldom handles other functions of the group. This isnt just out of laziness, though the argument could be made. His door is simply always open, as even the other members of the organization utilize his services during the off hours.
The Archer Home
Closer to the storefront is the home of Mavis Archer, the house she's lived in for twenty years and counting. She spends most of her time at the storefront preparing goods and filling orders. When not working, she is often found on her front porch, and is always willing to offer hospitality to those wandering the gardens. While the home is normally off limits to even other members of Dread Romantic, a feast is always prepared every sunday evening for any and all who wish to join.
by Ha Nguyen
Olive's cottage is the highest point of the structure, save for the great oak, and the area is closed off to anyone who doesn't have permission to be there. This is where Olive spends much of her time. She reads, teaches, and produces her goods all in the confines of her home. Those who venture too far and find themselves near the cottage will often feel a sudden urge to leave, a kind of disquiet or anxiety brought on by complex runic wards Olive carves into the surrounding trees and decking.
The Corvid Oak
While it isn't off limits, visitors are often warned against visiting the massive oak growing near the cottage. It's safe, for the most part, but the many avian tenants that live in the oak enjoy pestering those they don't know. The crows like to steal, the ravens tend to fly a little too close, and its just generally a bad time.
Olive admires their work. A year's worth of planning all led to this. Sure, it wasn't the prettiest or most organized, but she's proud to call it home. Once Mavis' home was added to the structure, olive meets everyone in what would be the storefront. "We did it!" Corey smiles "Well, you did it." Mavis shakes her head, admiring the interior of the storefront. "Fine work." Olive nodded. "So," she says, clapping her hands together. "North?" "Why north?" Whiskey asks "A while back, I heard of weirdness going on near the Canadian border." Olive walks to a map hanging on the far wall. On the map, a series of red push pins dot various locations throughout what used to be America. "These are all the settlements we know of between here and there." Corey nods. "Sounds good." After getting several nods of approval, Olive smiles. "North it is."
NicePNG, PNGTREE, Gabriel Kraus, Florian GIORGIO, Jonas Off, Nathan Dumlao, Ha Nguyen, Kristaps Ungers, Alexei Scutari, Rawpixel and Pikisuperstar on freepik,
Huge shout out to Stormbril for his forbidden CSS wisdom! Would not have been able to do this without his advice. Backgrounds by Rawpixel and coolvector on Freepik
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