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  #61  
Old 12-06-2016, 11:57 PM
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Andrzej Zaituc
The Varisian music that filled the crowded streets tugged at Andrzej's soul as he dismounted from the carriage after Carlo. As his feet landed on the cobblestone street, the weight of anger was carried away by the departing carriage. The smell of sweat, of roasted meats and stale ale, horses, hay, and smoke... it mixed with the heady scent of celebration and energy that filled the crowd. Underneath it all, however, was a more pungent stench, that of fear. Whomever the beast was, caterwauling in its cage as it was, the people of Leipstadt were deathly afraid of it.

They're scared of the wrong thing, boy.

Andrzej shook his head and half-listened to Carlo while scanning the crowd.

"Mother...?"

There was no way. It was impossible. Yet, in an instant, he was a small child again, beneath the heated eyes of his mother, ready to get hit by the wooden spoon she used when his mischief had been especially troublesome.

His mind, too stunned to react, didn't even realize that his feet had started taking him in the direction of whatever that person was. His mother had died over a decade ago, so whoever this was had some explaining to do.

" Nu, matusa, eu nu fac. Am venit din întuneric deja."

She was, of course, not actually his aunt, the sightless Varisian on the wagon, but within the Varisian community, Andrzej at least knew that much.

"Who is that who beckons I follow?" He asked her, keeping his eyes where the Varisian woman had disappeared and momentarily forgetting his frati.

 
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  #62  
Old 12-07-2016, 06:26 AM
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Runahildr Valkadottir

Runa was thankful for Pike's words. It was good to know that at least one of her traveling companions shared her sentiments in regards to the trial. She nodded her agreement with Kendra and remained with the majority of the group as Andzrej and Carlo veered off to join the festivities and Hrani and Jamir sought out the university. The temple of Iomedae offered a welcome break in her inner musings, and she allowed herself to be taken in by its splendor for a moment, before continuing on towards the professor's apartment. She did take note of the temple's location though, so she could return later. Although she had adhered to her rituals and prayers during the travels, she was somewhat overdue for a proper mass and blessing at a shrine dedicated to the Inheritor.

Runa helped in stabling the horses, offering her thanks to Samovar for the constant effort he put into easing matters for everyone else around him. He was not the most talkative man, but he didn't shy from hard manual labor and that spoke highly of him.

The declaration that the place was currently inhabited caused her to frown, and she dumped her saddlebags next to her allies belongings before drawing her sword and following Samovar inside - only to become witness to events that left the straightlaced paladin equal parts flustered and indignant. Having spent most her life in a convent, she was not a stranger to the sight of the naked female body. Baths were communal after all. She was, however, not used to female bodies displayed in quite so vixenish a manner, and her cheeks flushed with equal parts shame and anger at the presumptuous use of the late professor's estates and belongings.

Her upbringing and studies in the convent didn't revolve around secular matters either, and so the man's name, face or manner didn't spark any recognition in Runa. She didn't need all of those to act however, and the man was clearly trespassing. So she half-turned towards Kendra, sword still in hand and eye still locked on the stranger.
"Do you wish for me to show this man and his... female companions... outside, Kendra?"

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  #63  
Old 12-08-2016, 12:55 AM
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With neither the experience of Runa nor Samovar, Mara is as puzzled by their aggressively cautious reactions as she is by the discovery that Lorrimor's apartment is occupied. Surely this must be some simple misunderstanding? A caretaker on the premises, perhaps? After all, thieves and bandits would not be so courteous as to remove their shoes before entering, and the carriage and horses hint at an entirely different class of person.

Nonetheless, she follows them upstairs without objection, trusting that their wariness is not without cause—and so the playful pillow fight catches her off guard. Unlike Runa and Kendra however, Mara doesn't seem the least bit embarrassed by the combatants' state of undress—after all, she herself did not start wearing clothes until after meeting the Professor. Indeed, the singer seems rather bemused by the whole affair, and perhaps even a bit jealous of the blonde's freedom.

“Runa, please.” She holds up a hand for decorum—they finally meet someone with actual class and the paladin continues to threaten him with her sword. “I'm sure there is a reasonable explanation for all this.” She glances at Kendra--he did introduce himself as "Lorrimor's Heir" after all, so perhaps he has some right to this place?--then turns to the nobleman with an apologetic smile, her face still openly beaming from his flattery.

“Adivion Adrissant. The pleasure is mine.” With an elegant outward sweep of her arm, she extends the back of her hand for a kiss. His face had seemed oddly familiar, but it is the name that triggers Mara's memory, placing him within the proper social circle of Caliphas. “And please, you must not exaggerate. The White Stag's Lament was but a trifle.” She deflects the compliment with an unassuming shrug and a graceful wave of her hand. “You may as well praise typically a children's productionThe Owlbears' Dance for its sophistication.” The soprano's smile only widens beneath her veneer of false modesty.

“Lady Luck truly favors us today. Fancy meeting you here, of all places. Whatever brings you here to Lepidstadt? Not this terrible business with the Beast, I hope?” Her bright blue eyes continue to sparkle, and her slender fingers coyly brush back a few strands of hair, but there is also a slight, barely noticeable emphasis on the word 'here'. Apparently Mara also wants to know exactly what Adivion is doing in Lorrimor's apartment—but in a delicate, tactful way.
  #64  
Old 12-08-2016, 08:13 AM
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Pike, as usual, is intrigued. Who could have arrived ahead of them here? Someone who knew they were coming? Someone who has access to the apartment? A trespasser maybe? The cinnamon scented horses tell him little other that someone of apparent wealth owns them.
Once they reach the apartment the spectacle within draws a smug grin from the dwarf and the scantily clad ladies seem to have his full attention, he even blows the halfling a kiss as she scurries out of the room.

"Don't think we'll be needing swords here people." he mutters as leans in to get a better look at the departing duo, yet in spite of his apparent focus on the women he points absentmindedly at the fireplace "Unless the late professor has a magical fireplace I'd say this was the work of someone able to manipulate the arcane, or maybe the people of Lepidstadt have figured out a way to keep them running with no firewood." they can see now that the fireplace indeed has no wood burning "So, let's keep the swords down but our hands where we can see them, for now." his smile is aimed at Adrissant as he moves over to shake his hand "The name's Pike, Torsten Pike. A pleasure, I'm sure." even as he shakes hands with the man he nods at their surroundings "Nice of you to clean the place up for Miss Kendra, missed a spot or two but otherwise it's good." his smile has now turned quite smug "Lorrimor's heir, hey? So judging by the fact that you haven't touched so much as one of the books on his shelves makes me think you either didn't inherit his ravenous taste for the written word or you were otherwise occupied with other activities."

Pike keeps his impish grin as he steps back to the group At least I can safely bet he's not a wizard, possible sorcerous lineage though." he thinks to himself.
  #65  
Old 12-10-2016, 04:23 AM
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University exploration troopHrani briefly considers Kendra's request for them all to go check on the state of the house together, but in the end Jamir's eagerness and his own curiosity win out. Though the elf had scoffed earlier when Pike had spoken of civilization - as if anything in the human lands could be considered civilized - this was still a safe city and not a dangerous swamp in the middle of nowhere, with ethereal beasts waiting within. And besides, even if there were an intruder in the house...between Samovar and especially Runa, assisted by the myriad of other abilities the group had available, Hrani has trouble concocting a scenario where his presence is really necessary.

So, off in the direction of the university it is, with Jamir lecturing him on the history of the Treyes Museum of Antiques. Some things the halfling mentions he already knows, but he doesn't get the chance to interrupt. And some things are also new to him, so he doesn't mind too much. A fascinating story...
"And one that implies a bunch of potentially powerful artifacts might still be buried out there..."

It is an intriguing thought, though not one for now. There are other matters to attend to. And if everything at the museum turns out to be junk anyway, that would make the prospect of delving down into ancient burial sites haunted by some nightmarish undead agglomeration that possesses people seem rather less attractive. "We could always take Samovar to be possessed again, and then freeze him until he can no longer move. It worked well last time..."

Hrani doesn't dignify Orenmir's last comment with an answer, moving on, and marveling at the University's impressive and simultaneously practical architecture. Turning the student dormitories into the outer wall. Morally questionable if the wall were actually ever needed as a defensive measure, but one cannot argue the practicality for the staff.

The magus is so fascinated by the buildings around him that he doesn't notice the crowd until the dueling music catches his attention. And then he is challenged to a duel, by...well not quite a clown, but his outfit is bordering on comical. "A history duel?" The pale elf replies, confused. "You must excuse me, but I am not from around here. Would you care to give me a brief rundown of the rules?" Normally, Hrani isn't one for brawls. Much too barbaric. Duels, on the other hand, if fought by proper terms, can be rather civilized. The magus spares a glance at the man being dragged away. He is cursing rather uncivilized, but he bares only two cuts on his cheek. Minimal loss of blood would indeed indicate that the rules could be civilized. A part of Hrani's mind reminds him that he has more pressing concerns, and points out that his companions might not be too happy with him getting into a duel. Another part of his mind, however... "What, are you going to let this guy in the clown costume challenge you in front of all these people and just walk away so you don't end up with a cut on your face? Are you scared of losing, or scared of what your watchdog Kendra will say?"

After a quick glance at Jamir to confirm this duel is legal in Lepidstadt, the magus nods. Bowing to his opponent, he says: "Very well, Myphar Drago, I will not decline such a civilized duel. I, Hrani, accept." It was only proper courtesy to introduce yourself prior to a duel, and his opponent had been ahead of him in that matter. Not anymore. History. It was not exactly Hrani's strongest suit, but he had spent a lot of time talking to the professor, who had been trying to convince him how fascinating the remainder of the world was, and that he should go see it. It hadn't struck a chord with the magus back then, but his excellent memory should serve him well. 'Now, to choose a topic where I should be at an advantage...or perhaps at least one where I shouldn't be at too much of a disadvantage.' It is clear Myphar is well studied in matters of history if he oftentimes fights such duels. On a well-studied subject, he will easily outmatch Hrani's superficial knowledge of things. So, his best bet is likely a subject on which only superficial information exists. "Very well. My subject of choice is the Age of Legends." Gearing up for the duel, Hrani tries to remember what Lorrimor told him about the rise and fall of the first human civilization on Azlant.


OoCOk, history duel. Sure, why not, how often am I going to get use out of that rank in knowledge (history) anyway. As long as Jamir (or someone else who seems trustworthy) confirms such a duel isn't illegal in Lepidstadt, and as long as the rules explanation Hrani gets agrees with my initial assessment that a loss here would mostly result in wounded pride and not a lot of injuries Hrani would need someone else in the group to patch up, he agrees to the duel.
 
  #66  
Old 12-11-2016, 11:47 PM
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AdrissantKendra, barely seeming to hear Runa, seems automatically enraptured with Adivion Adrissant. Samovar, noting this, clears his throat once a full five seconds have past since Runa's question. "O-oh, no, that's quite alright, Runa. If you wanted to head on to Temple, it seems like it's right behind here." It's as though she's transfixed, in another world separate from Runa. It's as though she's separate from everyone, but Samovar is like a rock. He's ever stuck here. Adivion smiles, kindly, to Runa. "I do apologize, this all must be so jarring. I can't imagine you've had much experience with this seemingly libertine situation. And let's see, a nearby temple... Iomedae? A crusader, are we? The Professor never spoke well of Lastwall, but I'm sure individuals aren't all bad." A rather pointed statement, but said with honesty. She can respect that and he carefully avoids giving his own opinion. Unless it's cloaked in the Professor's name.

Samovar sheathes his sword, and nods to Runa to do the same. He may not have picked up on the wordplay, but he's certainly willing to give Kendra what she needs. Mara agrees. And so does Pike: quite eloquently, looking the fire over.

Then comes the flattery. He takes the hand, and kisses it as he showers her with compliments. Samovar scoffs nearby. As she plays with the flattery back, and he smiles at her humility. "Ah, but The Owlbear's Dance teaches us metaphor and innuendo, does it not? We all must start somewhere, and you're already miles ahead of the rest." When Pike offers his hand, Adivion takes it and shakes it, a firm grip worthy of Pike's own father. "You'll forgive me for not kissing your hand, but your debut in Caliphas has yet to be seen, sir. Perhaps I can introduce you to a few baritone coaches? But who am I kidding: Madame Mara is much more well-versed in those circles than I!" And looking over to Samovar, he raises a brow. "And you must be Samovar. Gods, his description of you really does not do you justice. That chin looks chiseled from the Age of Legend." Kendra laughs. Samovar grunts.

Pike's barb is met with a grin and a chuckle. "No need to retread ground I've covered. My last time here, I devoured the whole of the library. I can recite them, if you'd like. Every single one of them." Now the Professor might have been a smart man, he was never that smart. This Adivion Adrissant is either needlessly arrogant, or needfully boastful. Perhaps both. The two women, now dressed, emerge, the Halfling dressed in an emerald dress that accentuates her perfect rusty hair, the blond wearing a dress of blue and gray. Adrissant smiles at both. "I had planned on staying here tonight, ladies, but I think one of your abodes might be more prudent. How about you pick one and I find you there, hm?" The Halfling, passing Pike, smiles. "Fine." They giggle and head out the door, Kendra glaring as they pass. A flick of the hand, and the door shuts behind them; Pike's theory is correct, he is at least a mage of some kind. Whether or not he's a sorcerer? That's hardly too vulgar a display to show.

And then, Mara asks her question, kindly, without mention of his absence in Ravengro. "Well, that's complicated. I happened to find myself here about a week ago, and then, suddenly, the Beast falls into my lap. I've stayed on to observe and give professional opinion on the poor thing, and find this whole event a travesty of justice. I've a dinner with one of the judges soon, she lives right across the street." Kendra's eyes go wide. "Really now? That's just the woman we're here to see." Adivion smiles. "Your father was fond of coincidences. I wouldn't put it past him to have organized this one." He waves his hand, directly at the seats, now free. "I'm afraid I must ask a gruesome question, if I may. I'm sure you have your own."

Kendra sits. Samovar does not, but moves behind her, as if he is a part of her. He eyes her, but smiles none the less. Mara begins to have the distinct impression this man is a more tactful Carlo. A wonder who will emerge the victor if they meet.

"How did he die?"
Mother is the NameCarlo is almost drawn into the dance, one of the women and one of the men twirling him around, but as a Varisian, he knows exactly how to avoid dancing as well as how to dance. There is a time and place for these things, and when one's kin is in danger, there is no option but to avoid dancing. Unless dancing will save one's kin. It's an intricate, delicate system.

The old woman smiles at the mention of darkness. "From darkness whence we came, to darkness we return, nephew. You recall our lessons. But what darkness overtakes you, you must choose. For you are one haunted not once, but twice. By the Dark, and by your own soul." A vexing suggestion, but one that Andrzej finds almost accurate. Almost.

"We see our mother in all things, nephew. Mother is the first soul we spy. Mother is the last name on our lips as we die. Is it any wonder you see death before you now?" Her milk-white eyes seem to reflect where once there were pupils and irises, but just enough is there to look like twin sets of skulls. Except, is the left one truly a skull? Or is that a familiar face staring back at him? Andrzej can't be sure, if he truly recognizes the face. It looks like Andrzej, but the beard is different. The voice seems like it would be deeper. "The one who beckons you bears that face, but you see what you want to see. Who she is, I cannot say. But I know you seek her." She turns away, shuffling her harrow deck. "One of us, that much is known. But not one of mine."

Carlo, try though he might, is drawn back into the dance. Now he has no choice but to dance. He begins his twirling, his legs in the air, and his hands clapping; but his eyes never leave Andrzej. He just can't seem to get away.
LegendaryMyphar Drago smiles, chuckling as he lets it grow into a laugh; the crowd cheers. "A greenblade! Never had a history duel! I imagine whatever institution you come from spends most of their time in libraries reading, instead of forming new ideas. But worry not, worry not, Master Elf: we'll teach you how to duel." He rattles his blade against his sheath, a gorgeous gold-trimmed scabbard with a blue-painted wood beneath. Two souls, a woman and a man, step out, holding sticks. They move into the center of the circle, opposite of one another, and then put one hand behind them, before bowing. Then, they stand suddenly, offering one another their blades, at no more of a distance than seven feet from one another; their blades are but two feet. They begin to circle each other, getting closer.

"First, you choose a topic, which our two historian-duelists will, for argument, will debate the creation of the Palatinates and whether or not the revolution in Vieland is truly a revolution. Bowing is the send off; the lower, the more confident your argument. Then, you both state a thesis." They both do so: the woman stating that it was a revolution, despite the bloodless nature of it, in part because it overthrew the governance and a revolution is a change in the current state of a thing, be it political, cultural, or economic. Meanwhile, the man says it is merely the passage of power and one of convenience, for the Caromarc had long since removed themselves from power, especially the latest Count Caromarc. Drago nods. "And then, you duel, debating points as you go. Let your tongue wag, but your blade shall do the talking!" The two begin to beat their sticks against one another, debating political science.

Jamir, chuckling, shakes his head. "How academic."

In no less than two minutes, the woman knocks the wooden blade away from her opponent. They both bow, and both go back into the crowd, hand in hand, her academic prowess besting his. Myphar Drago reemerges in the center of the circle. "And now our neophyte knows our ways! Let us initiate him into the University!" The crowd roars, and Jamir, seeing Hrani looking for confidence, seems to smile. "The Professor promised me this was a young man's game, but I never thought I'd see such an old one as you at it." Then it is real. He accepts. The crowd gets somehow louder.

As he steps forward, a topic is chosen. "Ah, the Age of Legend! That first great age of mankind!" Gasps all around, and a general attitude of apprehension. Hrani picks up on it quickly: so much of it is subject to debate and conjecture, with the author of a paper or an idea adding so much of their own work there as to more or less become a crafter of fiction. This is not the work of an Elf. So what does he know? What does Hrani know?

He knows the basic facts: that the Age of Legend saw the rise of a great empire on the lost continent of Azlant under a great emperor, Xin. Elsewhere in the world, mankind rose under draconic tutelage, or were the slaves of Cyclopes. Pathetic, truly, but Elves, at the end of that age, knew to leave this world: for it ended with the fall of the Starstone, which created the Age of Darkness. There is much there to extrapolate and create a thesis. But what to create? Perhaps something in relations to the Elves' leaving Golarion? He recalls the history of his own people much better than the history of these barbarians, as much as he hates to be in concurrence with Orenmir.

Jamir calls from behind. "Avoid the Aboleths! It's to the blood! And no magic!" Of course: the Aboleth brought the Starstone to Golarion, to destroy Azlant and punish them for their hubris. Why remains a mystery to his mind, racing with details of what's to come.

Once in place, Drago bows. His blade dances up, his hat's wings bobbing as he moves. "And now, we exchange theses! You have the first blow there, friend." The Gnome's steps are fleet, light with every touch, while Hrani's brain moves.

He had better think fast.
 
  #67  
Old 12-12-2016, 05:27 AM
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Runahildr Valkadottir

Runa's brow furrowed as she practically glowered at the man. Finally she took a deep breath and huffed once, returning the man's smile with a curt one of her own.
"We are not chaste in the order, Master Adrissant. Nor are we blind to the attraction between man and woman, or between any gender for that matter." Her single eye rested on the stranger. "It is simply that we would not think to use our mentor's bedlinen - or their beds for that matter - for our cavorting. It would be considered distasteful."

Letting her single eye linger on the ruffled bedsheets the paladin pursed her lips to show the tiniest hint of displeasure before she once more assumed the shadow of a smile.
"I think I shall indeed visit the temple," she looked to Kendra and the others. "I will return once I have arranged for the souls of the departed travelers - perhaps after evening mass. Good day to you Master Adrissant."

With that the bulky and armored Runa sheathed her sword and turned to leave, searching for a bit of piety and soul saving at the temple of Iomedae and hoping that it too wasn't flavored by the same strange festive mood of exuberance and reveling that seemed to hold the city in its grip.
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  #68  
Old 12-12-2016, 08:48 AM
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He decides it's not his place to tell this man he knows nothing about -charming as he may be- how the professor died, leaving that task up to Kendra or even Mara, but he can't help turning his back on the man and stifle a laugh as Runa speaks, his face turning bright red in the process.
Clearing his throat with a cough as the Beast is mentioned again he quickly regains his composure and gives Adrissan a solemn look "So this Beast business has created quite the scene by turning Lepidstast into a twisted outpost of Galt it seems. The citizens ready to revel in its already determined death sentence. I would be interested to hear what a, uhm.... more sensible man than the ring leader of a group of travelling carnies has to say about this farce and how it came to be?" he eyes the man questioningly "Unless you're under some sort of obligation to hold your tongue in this matter in which case I might be forced to buy you a drink or two." he offers with a smug wink.

The more he hears about the Beast the more curious he gets, there are thousand questions to be asked and possibly even more answers to be found and for the time being he has all but forgotten about their business in Lepidstadt.
  #69  
Old 12-14-2016, 02:53 PM
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Hrani watches the demonstration he is given in a bemused manner. Perhaps he has overestimated the civility of this whole matter, it seems this Myphar Drago is more interested in showmanship than anything else. But he has already agreed at this point, so any concerns he may have now are irrelevant.

The magus draws his black Scimitar, exquisitely crafted even when the magic within it is not activated. Myphar can rattle his tongue against his teeth and his blade against its sheath as much as he wants, but Hrani is going to prove to him that big words and showmanship BEFORE the fight are entirely irrelevant. "I do not need magic. My words and my blade will more than suffice." - "You'd better not disappoint, kid. Because if that clown manages to cut your skin, he may as well kill you while you are on the ground."

Of course, Hrani likes his pristine white skin exactly as it is. Myphar won't be putting a mark on it. Now all he needs is a thesis. The departure of the elves is tempting, but taking something from his own race might be viewed as cheating. No, he wants to defeat Myphar outright, at his own game. He might prefer more civilized ways of handling his business, but now that he had been roped into this, he would leave no doubt as to the victor of the match. And Myphar's own words suggest the perfect thesis. The elf bows deeply, extremely confident in his argument. "Yes, the first great age of mankind, as it is so often fondly remembered. And yet, riddled with failures of your race. My thesis is thus: The great empire of Thassilon was doomed to fail. Even without the fall of the starstone, it would not have lasted long."

And then the two men duel. Myphar might be younger, and more spry, and Hrani needs some time to adjust to not relying on his magic, as well as the whole battle format. But his thesis is strong, and his arguments are piercing. The pale elf does not hold back, realizing that a prolonged battle will probably favor the more experienced of the two. And so he comes out of the gate strong. "The empire of Thassilon was great under its founder, the emperor Xin. His immense power and foresight crafted a by human standards incredibly civilized paradise. Had the runelords carried on following the seven Azlanti virtues of rule, their empire would have continued to flourish. But they perverted the virtues and were instead driven by their constant desire to overthrow their peers."

Orenmir flashes, as the sun in the courtyard reflects off of the black metal. As Hrani presses forward, his Scimitar dances, and his footwork is flawless. For someone who usually danced in the ice, keeping his balance on level, solid ground is a trivial matter, and it is an advantage that shows even against the experienced and quick Myphar. Determined to end things quickly, before the other man can hit his stride, the magus pushes his advantage, intending to close this fight before it has gotten properly under way. "They enslaved giants to build them pointless monuments, wasting the empire's resources, just as their constant war and strife wasted the empire's lives. True, they moved away from open warfare in favor of battling champions against one another, but it was too late at that point, and the only reason they did so was because the consequences of their actions were so blatantly obvious even they couldn't miss them. Perhaps their oppressed and bled-dry people would have revolted. Perhaps the enslaved giants would have risen up against their masters. Most likely, the empire would simply have run out of resources. A long-lasting nation needs a solid, broad foundation to stand on. And the runelords kept on building their pile of rotten wood higher and higher, generously lobbing of pieces of the already instable bottom to produce new material as they did so. They had built a structure that was about to collapse on top of them because of their own doing, and the only reason it didn't is because a cataclysmic event beat them to the punch. And that is why the Empire of Thassilon was doomed to fail and would have ended quickly even without the fall of the starstone..."

OoCHm, this is hard. Anyway, rolls on the first two history checks were 18 and 27 (natural 20), so by my understanding that means Hrani wins the duel, correct? I hope I'm getting this correct, because the rolls after that were useless (History 14, Attack Roll 12)

Last edited by Inem; 12-14-2016 at 02:54 PM.
  #70  
Old 12-15-2016, 02:13 AM
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As Kendra sits, so does Mara, accepting the offered seat without hesitation, though she does take special care to meticulously smooth out her gown both before and after sitting down. She is barely comfortable when Adivion's question catches her off guard: her slender eyebrows arch upwards as her forehead creases in an equal mixture of puzzlement and surprise, while her nose wrinkles with distaste at the brusque introduction of such a delicate topic. She exchanges a sympathetic, knowing look with Kendra; a gentle, reassuring pat on the arm follows as the songstress decides to protect Lorrimor's daughter by intervening upon her behalf.

“Did you not hear?” she asks the nobleman,
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clearly incredulous that he, of all people, would not know. “He ...” she pauses, searching for some euphemism. Finding none, she sighs reluctantly and slightly clears her throat. Best to get it over with. “He was crushed by a gargoyle. Near Harrowstone.” She says nothing more, not wishing to dwell upon the subject, both for Kendra's sake and her own. Her memories of Harrowstone are not pleasant.

Instead, the singer nudges the conversation to an adjacent but less grisly topic. “The funeral was very moving. Miss Lorrimor,” she smiles warmly at the woman, “delivered an absolutely wonderful eulogy. Truly inspiring. It's such a shame you couldn't come. You must have been busy with something extremely important? I know your genius must be in high demand. Caliphas speaks every day of its most brilliant citizen.” Mara's Take 10 on Diplomacy for 21honeyed words continue to dance along etiquette's meandering boundaries, waltzing through niceties and twirling around Adivion's evasions and deflections until they reach the heart of the matter. “No matter; I suppose Lorrimor's heir must be here now to pay his respects to the Professor?” Her eyelashes flutter innocently as she gazes at him with a sweet, sweet smile.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:44 PM
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Andrzej Zaituc
Andrzej chewed the inside of his left cheek thoughtfully.

"Dark things walk this earth, Aunt. Almost as dark as the ones that stalk our mind."

He was distracted. Danger was before him, but so, too, was the possibility of answers.

A few months ago, the most dangerous thing Andrzej had encountered was a farmer's angry pitchfork or Barrabas' snarled tongue.

What were they compared to the Splatterman risen? What was this phantom before him compared to bleeding walls trying to spell his name? What was this woman's warning against the cancerous spirit that haunted his soul?

The Varisian's hand reached up to stroke his flame-scarred flesh absentmindedly. The rough tranches and smoothed edges soothed him now. He broke off the touch and looked around for his fratti.

"Carlo, come. Danger and answers lie before me."

With a purposeful stride, Andrzej ducked into where the Varisian imposter had moved.
 
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Old 12-16-2016, 08:49 PM
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The Heir's Apparent ShameAdivion smiles at the comment given by Runa. "Well, that's good to hear. I worry sometimes some faiths are stuck on marriage-as-progeny-producing-only. I forget that Iomedae is not quite as a stickler about that as Erastil is. But then, magic is a fickle mistress in that regard." His smile is wide, but his face bears no emotion. When the suggestion of heading to the Temple is heeded, she offers a farewell to Adivion who nods. "Indeed, Miss Runahildr, was it? I imagine we'll meet again, sooner rather than later." Runa heads out the door, Samovar watching her as she went; Kendra, however, is enraptured by her father's favorite, now before them all. There's much to discuss concerning the events surrounding this place and Adrissant's place in it all.

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"Indeed, though Galt has least has the consistency of the guillotine. Here they're planning a much more mundane and uncivilized murder for the poor thing." He sighs, shaking his head. But Pike asks for information concerning the Beast, and Adivion shrugs his shoulders as to that point. "Well, I can't say too much beyond what research I've done in aims of helping tonight to convince justice to be done. The Beast is—was—an urban legend told to keep children in town, or at least, in their villages. It lives in and around the marshes beyond Lepidstadt, always seen at a distance, never truly understood. It's blamed for murders beyond count, though not all of these murders have bodies. Some of them are impractical in location or precise detail, but still the charges stand. The court case, which I have little information on because, until now, I have been unable to get said information from the Defense or even the Prosecution. What I do know is that the night before my arrival, the Beast stormed into the University's Antiquities sector, destroyed countless artifacts, and went into some kind of spellbound coma, a malfunction of its internal mechanisms, whatever animated it. This is no mere Flesh Golem—that is, an artificial being made of pieces of necrotic flesh, brought to life by magic and natural power. It holds more power than any I've heard of, nor any the Professor has heard of. I think that's why he disbelieved it; we discussed it once, when I was a boy vacationing up here. After he saved my sister, we kept in contact for a long time back and forth, and I visited him on occasion. The last time was not long after your, I think ninth, was it, birthday?" He looks to Kendra for vindication. "Y-yes, I think so. You brought me my own alchemical set and an Owlbear doll. I used the former to accidentally set the latter on fire." Laughter all around.

"At any rate, I found myself curious and so I've stuck around, but I can't stand the injustice of it. I must know more and must understand why this town, this bastion of sensibility and reason, has descended into demagoguery." Kendra nods, a noble gesture. Samovar grunts. But the conversation turns darker thereafter, as mention of Lorrimor has brought on a darker topic altogether. His death, and Adivion Adrissant's absence. For Mara's part, he seems genuinely interested in knowing and knows nothing of the sort as to what happened to him.

"A gargoyle? And isn't that... the prison, was it? The old prison at Ravengro? Pharasma's ravens, that seems.... So impossible. A gargoyle, a mere statue, kill Petros Lorrimor?" Kendra looks to Mara, trying to determine why she did not tell the truth; but then, she determines that it's for the best. Her father's true death needs to remain a mystery. Adivion might be someone with whom the truth could be trusted, but that needs to be seen.

As to Mara's incredulous attempts to draw the truth as to why he was not present seems to work. A great shame seems to come over him. "I was there, on the outskirts. I had my driver stop at the crossroads, just east of the The large lake outside of RavengroDot. In the summers, the first time I visited him outside of Caliphas, he took me there, to discuss... we saved my sister, but not her body. She wasted away, after Vrood did that unspeakable deed to her, that curse. I needed to get away, and I came to stay with him one summer when I was sixteen. He had just moved there, to Ravengro, and he taught me much. Seeing the Dot, nearly frozen over as it was, I thought of my sister, the state she was in. The way the skin around her mouth rotted as the curse took her.... There was nothing we could do. I've studied, so much that my eyes have bled, but there's no cure in the tongue of man or angels that could have saved my sister. And the Professor did what he could to prepare me for that, and we got our revenge on Vrood besides. Seeing that lake, it brought me back... I couldn't bear to face the fact that now he'd been taken, too. I was a coward. I ran." A sigh. He looks meekly at Kendra. Her own eyes narrow as she offers a compassionate hand. He barely takes it.

"I wandered, mostly. I visited sites around the Palatinates, the Ascanor Lodge, the ghostly village of Feldgrau in County Ardeal. The sites we spoke of but never visited. I almost returned to Ardis but elected to, at the last moment, not to, in order to visit his old stomping grounds. At last I arrived in Lepidstadt, and... well, now here we are. I am trying to right more than one wrong, Miss Mara. I am trying to make the world a better place, as he did. His legacy.... Well, I felt it was on my shoulders, and it was a crushing feeling. The funeral, beautiful though it may have been, may have destroyed me. But given my own chance to recover, I think I'm ready to do that. To take up his legacy and free Ustalav of the darkness that haunts its every corner." He smiles ruefully, his candor returning. "And yet it took you all a month to meet me here. A strange coincidence; what kept you all in Ravengro for so long?" Kendra, looking briefly at Mara, answers this inquest. "That would be Father's will, which brings us here now. Father wanted to make sure I was cared for, and ordered that everyone who attended the funeral according to the request stay for a month, to determine that I was alright. I needed less looking after than Ravengro did, it turned out, but now we're here to fulfill the final part of his will. We've books to return to Judge Embreth Daramid." Samovar grunts, not having brought the books upstairs from the chest they were placed in.

Adivion laughs. "Of course you are. As it happens, I'm having dinner with her in about half an hour. A strange coincidence indeed. Shall I introduce you all to her? You'd be my honored guests." He seems rather eager for this to come to happen, a kind of penance.

Samovar groans, audibly. What kind of dog is he?
The Name of God on the Lips of Children
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The old woman smiles, as he prepares to head onward. Spying his friend caught in the dance, Carlo spies Andrzej noticing him and finally he is able to be freed, with Andrzej's help; not that he needed saving, the bastard. A thin bead of sweat drapes from his eyebrow downward. "Well, I thought I'd never find you. A maelstrom, that song. This place is great, isn't it? But still... frati, what's happening?" Danger, is it? "Oh, that sounds about right." They head onward, towards the tent where the woman disappeared into.

As he leaves, the old woman takes up her harrow cards, shuffling them. "Truth is a whisper, shared to the dark." The song stops, and there is a cheer. Varisian and non-Varisian alike prepare to share gaiety and love, but not where Andrzej is going. He ducks into the tent, and behind him, a different kind of song plays. A lone woman dances now, vexing all with her near-impossible movements.

The tent is dimly-lit, but seems larger in the dark. Like they have entered a cave, the only sound of the outside world is that violin, the fiddle singing a sad song. The woman stands with her back to them, wearing the red top, the red trimmed with yellow bottoms that seem to flow forever. The woman in them continues to irritate Andrzej. What he sees, he knows. But he knows it cannot be real. It cannot be anything. Carlo, looking from his frati to the woman, sighs an audible relief. For a moment, he was scared they would find another woman in this tent, another face to tear them limb for limb.

The woman turns. How can it not be her? It must be. It's then that Carlo notices the resemblance. He looks to his frati, standing beside him. "Is that... is that her?" She speaks, at last: a mere whisper. Varisian: He sees what he wants to see, the mule. I have come to show you many things, Andrzej, and you, the fool Carlo. We know of you. We wish to know more. Will you sit?"El vede ceea ce vrea să vadă, catâr. Am venit să-ți arăt multe lucruri, Andrzej, și tu, bufonul Carlo. Noi știm de tine. Noi dorim să știm mai multe. Vrei să stai?" She sits, and when she does, a small candle lights at her feet; a silver pot, holding tea or coffee, sits beside the candle, and small cakes with them. The smell is not unpleasant, but something hangs beyond the simple smell of cinnamon. Perhaps it's the resentment from Carlo.

He sits. "Why not, frati? We've dined with worse devils." The woman in Andrzej's mother's skin smiles. She pours them tea, a fine Keleshite blend that is almost sweet. She speaks again, still a whisper. Varisian: Why are you here?"De ce esti aici?" Carlo responds simply. "Sight-seeing."

The woman's smile fades as she looks from Carlo, whom she seems to detest, to Andrzej. The tongue she speaks then is unpleasant, a rough one in her mouth and on their ears, and certainly not Varisian. "Siz faqat tushib, hozirga qadar kelgan." She takes her own tea, steaming. There is much to discuss.
Fall of the Runelords
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The duel begins, in earnest.

Spurring the advice of Jamir and of the blade, Hrani prepares for his duel in kind. His mind races as he prepares to take on the Gnome, knowing full well his wits matter as much as his fancy footwork. Indeed, he presents a fine, general thesis that can be easily defended. Myphar knows this. His grin betrays his intent, and he prepares to go perhaps farther than he himself is capable of. "Ah, but it lasted for so long; what is inevitable about falling? Look at Cheliax, how it survives today: could not Thassilon have done the same and kept itself from falling? There are specific details that could—" Hrani gets too close for comfort, though he does not make an aggressive move; Drago grows nervous and steps back, still grinning. "—could have shaped its continuance past the destruction of Thassilon. After all, did Aroden not make an empire of mankind in the Age of Darkness?" Murmurs throughout, his thesis not being as well received; too much conjecture. Myphar begins to realize he's overstepped his boundaries. But he might as well keep stepping.

The two attack, parry, block, pirouette, and parry. A back and forth for a moment that leaves the audience enraptured. And then, Hrani offers more to back up his thesis. "That's a criticized theorem, now that Brodert Quink has started publishing his works again in the wake of the purported rise of the Runelord of Greed in Varisia. These virtues, if they were ever truly virtues, seemed to promote selfishness inherit to the Runelords, and their power was drawn not from virtue, but from sin." He loses his footing; those ideas are highly criticized, and the proof of the rise of the Runelord is tentative at best. The adventurers behind it have long since disappeared, if they ever existed. Bringing in hearsay and rumormongering was a mistake. His face shows it, as the Gnome begins to lose ground. He no longer controls the flow of blades or steps.

As Hrani begins his final punctuation of his thesis, he carefully pushes back Myphar Drago again and again and again, the Gnome's face showing his frustration, his hat moving about his head back and forth with every step. Every word is a hammering, very flash of the scimitar a deathknell for the Gnome's argument. And then, finally, before the final blow, he knocks the Gnome's blade away, and delivers a slash across the cheek. The conclusion delivered, the crowd erupts into cheers as Myphar Drago falls to his backside, trying to catch his breath. The crowd quickly swarms Hrani, celebrating him, while Jamir goes to fetch Myphar's blade. The Elf has won.

But was that ever a question?

When the crowd begins to dissipate, the Gnome remains, smiling and wiping the blood from his cheek. His hat removed, he bows. "A fine thesis, if an obvious one. You are quick in mind and blade, master Hrani. Might I offer you and your friend here a tour of the campus, and perhaps treat you to a meal as penance for my loss? I have suffered only three in my time here, and this should be the last before my studies conclude. Myphar Drago recognizes a superior scholar and duelist when he can, and he must know more of him." Jamir looks to Hrani and shrugs. "That's fine by me, this is a rather large campus."

What could it hurt? He doesn't seem a sore loser. Quite the contrary, he seems eager.
Iomedae's LawFinally free of that braggart and most irritable of men!

Runahildr, finally free of Adrissant, and indeed any irritance in that group, needs to bring peace not just to those poor dead souls, but to purge herself of her own anger. That near outburst... she finds it in her to justify it, and it's a simple task to do so, but still. What is it about that man that drives her to insanity? To such anger!? But in her it remains. She isn't that angry, it's just... it's easier to vent now, when she is alone. Clearing the stairs and exiting, the back way will not allow her into the Cathedral; there is a tall red-brick wall between the apartment and the cathedral. She must go around and make the block. A walk will be good for her.

As she goes on, people eye her, still partially in her armor, armed as she is. She elects to head south and make the block that way, not wanting to be further outraged by the sight of the giant wooden effigy ready to be burnt. The trek to the Cathedral proves to be a shorter one than she expected, for there is a trail that goes between some of the buildings, one of which is on the grounds of the Cathedral, that tall red wall looking much better here than it did back at the apartments. She passes the gate, past the statue of the flaming angelic Iomedae, flanked by a choir of vindicator angels. The path trails upwards, slowly heading onward to the rounded cathedral, older than some of the buildings around it, flanked on top with the hilt of her crusading blade, her holiest of symbols.
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The steps that lead upward are narrow, and the door to the Cathedral closing, as a middle-aged Half-Elf and her young Halfling attendant begin to shut them. The Halfling speaks, his voice cracking. "We're closing now, m-ma'am, you'll—" The Half-Elf holds up her hand, and the Halfling stops. "Timbre, wait. Recognize this woman for what she is: a crusader of Lastwall. Hail, sister, and lay down your troubles here. Have you come to commune with us, the Inheritor, or?" She shakes it off, looking down to the young, golden-headed Halfling. "Timbre, keep the doors open until the end of Prioress Clotilde's vow is finished." He nods, and pushes the door on his side open. The woman leads on.

"I am Sister Adelheid, and I would like to welcome you to the Cathedral of Incandescent Valor. We're not as well-equipped for crusading as some of the more righteous monasteries in Lastwall or the Hungry Mountains. You'll find we take a more relaxed approach but no more righteous one here. Our trope is led by Prioress Clotilde, who once fought in Kenabres against the infection that is the Worldwound." Whatever she is going on about, Runahildr cannot find it in her heart to agree with the assessment of the young, naive woman: this church is larger than almost any monastery Runahildr has ever set foot in, and indeed, more elaborate. Is this what it's like to worship the Light of the Sword outside of a constant state of threat? What a world to live in. Candles about the Cathedral illuminate it, hanging from chandeliers and from a mountain of offering candles, red and gold in color, that burn near the back of the Cathedral. Beside the door is a place to set weapons; she is not asked to put hers there, but knows this is for Crusaders fresh from the field. Inside are mostly attendants, monks mostly, who wander, discussing things or talking to the two or three attendees of the nightly mass that either is just over or has not yet started; but the Halfling's words before, she has missed it. A private mass might be in order, but would prove too much trouble to request.

Adelheid leads Runa into a side room, where an older woman stands over a table, flanked by a robust man with a flowing gray beard and an Elf, whether woman or man it is unclear, with white hair and pink eyes. All three look up from the document they are discussing, but the elder-most woman, whose mouth never opened, has on her face a silver nose, held in place by straps, and is missing one of her eyes in a horrendous scar that stretches almost from the left side of her mouth mouth to left ear. Her smile grows upon seeing Runa, while the other two stand in awe.

Adelheid speaks. "We have a visitor, Prioress. I know you are headlong into your vow, but I imagined it would be worth your time to meet with her. What's your name, Sister?" She turns back to Runa, who just has time now to understand what she's looking at.

As the Elf and rotund man wrap around the table to meet her, the one-eyed crusader realizes that on the table is the effigy of the Beast. Around the figure, made of dried reeds, are notes, notes on how best to light it without harming the city.

Are they...?
 
  #73  
Old 12-17-2016, 12:05 PM
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Mara glances at Kendra before politely accepting Adivion’s invitation to dinner. “That is most kind of you to offer. It would be our great pleasure to join you. And …” she hesitates, a delicate pause for a delicate subject, “… I am so sorry to hear about … about your sister’s curse. That must have been horrible, to … to be so helpless.” With dark, downcast eyes she slowly glides her hands over her lap, listlessly smoothing out the wrinkles in her dress. Clearly moved by the noble’s sad tale, and with a natural empathy for his sister’s plight, she seems crestfallen: what hope is there if both Lorrimor and Adrissant together cannot find a cure to reverse a curse?

At last the songstress looks up, a sad, compassionate smile upon her face. “At least you are ready to honor the Professor now. You have a noble heart, to follow in his footsteps.” Adivion’s seemingly cavalier intrusion into Lorrimor’s apartment is forgotten, and she feels darkly guilty for ever doubting the poor man. Respecting his memories, though Pike might she does not pry any further into the details of his sister’s fate, nor into the justice meted out to the villain responsible—though her subconscious might recognize Vrood as a possible enemy seeking revenge upon the Professor.

“But …” the singer seems troubled by something the nobleman had said earlier, “… there is something I do not understand. This … this ‘Beast’. The way you describe it—as an artificial being brought to life by magic—is it even alive? Is … is it like a zombie?” She shudders, remembering the first zombie she had ever encountered. With an effort, she tries to shake the memory out of her mind—that is not how she wants to remember Professor Lorrimor. “Why don’t they destroy it already if it’s just a … a thing? Why all this fuss over a zombie?” She looks back and forth between Adivion and Pike, her confused face searching for an explanation. Clearly she does not comprehend the difference between golems and the undead.
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Old 12-18-2016, 10:39 AM
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Runahildr Valkadottir

Runahildr felt a sense of calm and serenity wash over her the moment she stepped through the temple doors. It was as if the weariness of the road and the last several hours of severe contemplation, followed by the brush in with this 'Adrissant' all but vanished, barred entry by the threshold she had just passed. And there was another thing - it was quiet in here. Runa had not even considered how much the constant murmuring of people all around her, and the sounds of the city would affect her mindset. She was, after all, used to the tranquility found in the Order's halls, or the stillness on the road, only occasionally broken by a chance encounter with strangers. Here, in the city, there was a constant backdrop of noise. Of people chattering, carts rolling, merchants peddling their wares, bodies shifting, laughs, sneezes and coughs.

All that was gone the moment she stepped through the temple's doors, and it was not until that point that she realized how much it had affected her. It was as if she only now could fully relax, and the paladin wondered briefly if everyone accustomed to the road had the same experience as she greeted the Sister and followed her through the temple towards the Prioress. Her heavy boots sounded a steady rythm across the polished marble floors as she walked, and she was astutely aware of the difference between her armored and rattling form and the soft-spoken monks that almost seemed to float between the marble columns with nary a sound but the whisper of cloth. She caught more than one throwing her a disapproving frown or a questioning look, but she simply offered a curt nod in response and kept walking.

The brief walk also allowed her to take in the splendor of the place. It was clear that this temple had means, and that they knew how to use those means for an optimum effect. The soft glow of the candles had a soothing effect and alongside bright drapings and banners helped mitigate the coldness of the stone and marble that surrounded Runa. Instead of imposing and harsh the domed temple awe-inspiring and the paladin almost had to stop herself from gawking like the rural visitor she was.

Upon entering the room, Runa quickly oriented herself, her single eye resting on each in turn as Sister Adelheid speak before she gave a short bow in the prioress direction once she was made aware at least who of the three that was.
"Runahildr Valkadottir, Sister of the Order of the Lazuline Blade out of Lastwall," she introduced herself. "Recently arrived to the city."

The paladin's eye sought the effigy on the table. "I do not wish to impose myself if you are in the middle of an important discussion, Prioress. I merely sought spiritual succor - and perhaps the opportunity to arrange for the souls of some unfortunate travelers, whose remains I encountered on the way here." She paused, unsure whether she should explain in depth, but in the end continued. "My comrades and I were set upon by a phase spider, and when we vanquished it, we discovered we were not its first victims. I intended to visit the temple of Pharasma to enlist the assistance of one of their priests, but thought perhaps a guide or an introduction from a brother or sister of the Inheritor would expidite matters..."


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Old 12-18-2016, 04:19 PM
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Myphar is struggling, and Hrani can tell. His strong opening has thrown the Gnome off balance. Likely, he was expecting someone in their first duel to play it safe and careful. The duel is over almost before it begun.

"Congratulations. You are stronger than a clown who has somehow learned how to hold a blade, apparently. I hope you are proud of yourself for this victory..." Orenmir comments on the outcome of the battle, apparently already having forgotten about being the main driving force between Hrani accepting the challenge to begin with.

Then something unexpected happens, and Myphar acts like a good loser. Not only accepting his defeat without crying foul, but also offering some form of penance to the elf and Jamir. Naturally, such an act of kindness sets off all the alarm bells in the magus' mind. Was this all an elaborate setup, challenging him to a duel, intentionally losing and then offering a tour just so he could lead Hrani into a trap? But no, somehow he doesn't think so. Words are easy to fake. But swordplay is different. It is hard to intentionally lose a battle without tipping your hand, and as far as Hrani could tell Myphar had desperately been putting forth his best effort, however little chance he might have stood from the beginning.

"I agree. He's just a gnome, no way he is a good enough actor to fool us both in combat..." Jamir sort of brings everything down to one critical point as well. This is a big university, with a large campus. A guide would be quite helpful. "You are a gracious loser, Myphar. We accept your offer of a tour and a meal. My companion and I have a particular interest in the Treyes Museum of Antiques, so it would be great if you could include this in the tour? I assume a historian such as yourself can understand our interest? Which is not to say we do not wish for a tour of the rest of the university as well..."

Of course, Hrani also picked up on the fact that the gnome wants to know more about him. How much is he willing to reveal to this stranger? Not really much if he doesn't have to, but it will remain to be seen what the gnome wants to know, exactly. Perhaps a few morsels of information to keep their host in a good mood...?
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