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  #1  
Old 02-28-2017, 03:56 PM
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Prologue: A Harrowing Experience




Prologue: A Harrowing Experience



Korvosa. Gateway to Varisia. Nestled in the southeastern corner of Varisia where the Jeggare River spills into the sea it was the sole refuge of civilization in an otherwise untamed land. For 300 years its prosperity had waxed and waned as rulers came and went. Once it served as the capital of Chelish Varisia, but those times were long gone and these days it was one of three city-states that claimed independent authority over their individual holdings in the region.

And the people of the city were for the most part, a prime example of civilization too. They were friendly and helpful. And meticulous too. They followed the rules, walked the line, and filled out the forms exactly as instructed. But like any city, Korvosa also had its share of undesirables. Eighteen thousand souls generated a certain steady volume of waste, and this waste included a constant trickle of the lost, the useless and those who believed it easier to prey on others than do an honest days job themselves. These were cutpurses, thugs, thieves, burglars, assassins, and lowlifes of every sort who did not, per se, adhere to the same rules and laws as laid down by society. They could be found in waterfront slums, creeping in the sewers, or hiding in the tangled Shingles above, and while the Korvosan Guard did what it could to keep the city’s criminals from causing too much harm, the reality was that it the Guard would always be the underdog in any scenario, and no matter how diligent, there were always more undesirables in the woodwork, ready to crawl out the moment someone was snatched up or brought down.

That also meant, that some crimes went unpunished and some criminals saw great success. Worst of these, perhaps, were the city’s crimelords. Dozens of them operated in Korvosa at any one time, from the sinister leader of the Red Mantis assassins all the way down to the Varisian Sczarni thugs who presided over a gang of a half-dozen friends and cousins once, twice or three times removed. These minor crimelords were often, ironically, the ones to do the most damage to Korvosa’s law-abiding citizens, as larger organizations had little need to bother commoners. They did so because they believed themselves outside the Guard's field of focus - too small to warrant a full-scale mobilization, too fierce to risk losing valuable men against. Oh, sometimes the Guard would muster, and raid the lair of a Sczarni underboss who got too clever or too uppity for his own good, but more often than not the Guard was needed elsewhere, and could not see the manpower to chase down pickpockets or burglars or street urchins who were bold as brass and impossible to find if they first disappeared into one of the many empty buildings spread throughout the city. So the common man just had to suck up their losses and fend for themselves. That was just how you got through a day in Korvosa. Take your punches and roll with them. This afternoon, however, would change things, though no one at the time had an idea just how much.

A gentle breeze had just brushed in over the city, momentarily relieving its inhabitants from the last ditch effort of a summer sun that had been baking down relentlessly all day and now was starting to dip towards the horizon. All through the city, from the carefully maintained streets of the Heights to the shanties of Old Korvosa, street life was slowly winding down as shop owners packed up, carts got carted away and people found the paths back to home and hearth and the families they had there.

Not everyone was going home, however. Moving through the crowd of chattering common folk and tired dockworkers were those who had another destination. Six people, each walking alone, yet ultimately searching for the same house to meet up in. In their hand, they held a single harrow card. They weren't quite sure how it came into their possession. One of the six, clothes speckled with paint, had gone away from his most recent painting for a moment, only to find a card resting gently against the canvas upon his return. One had found her own harrow deck to hold a strange duplicate, another discovered it wedged in her spellbook. One man, down on his luck, found a card stuck to his cheek after sleeping headfirst on yet another tavern table, cup in hand. Yet another discovered it while tending an altar during his daily chores at the temple, and one had found his conspicuously lying straight in the middle of his path while on patrol.

The card was unremarkable - one like any other so often seen in use all over Korvosa - and wear and tear gave the impression that it had seen fair a bit of use. That was not important. What was important was what was written on the back of it. Meticulously penned were words that at once could still a heart and the same time get the blood boiling with the promise of something each of the six had longed for longer than they cared to remember. Written on the back of the card was an offer, and the hope, however faint, of retribution and vindication against someone who had eluded them since the day a twist in fate made their paths collide and whole lives were thrown asunder. On the back of the card was an offer to end Gaedren Lamm.



It was that offer that had led them here. Whether they believed it too good to be true, wanted to learn more, or simply jumped at a chance to strike back at someone that had done them so much wrong over the years, each of the six was currently on his or her way to 3 Lancet Street to meet up with whomever arranged for the harrow cards to reach their hands.

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Lancet Street was located in the southern part of the West Dock area. It was close enough to the docks that the ever present odour of the fishing industry made itself present over the other smells and scents of the city. Here and there warm light began flooding the street, as residents and tenants lit cookingfires and oil lamps inside the comforts of their own homes, and the clattering of cooking utensils and sizzling of food being prepared spilled out onto the street through opened windows and chimney tops.

The street was normally fairly well traveled, although chance, or perhaps fate, saw few out and walking about just then. No one but those summoned to that one specific adress. And as the setting sun began bathing the sky in colours of crimson and gold, the six, one after another, neared their destination.

The house in question, situated in a row of similar buildings, seemed little different than its neighbours. It was relatively small, simple and nondescript, and, perhaps, in need of a good overhaul at some point in a not too distant future. Green paint was peeling of the windowsill and the panels of the house had eroded in places, allowing the wattle to peek out where the daub had fallen away. Soft candlelight - no more than from a single candle or two at most - illuminated the small glass squares in the window from within, though the thickness of the glass made it impossible to get a good glimpse of what lay behind it.
A rickety set of stairs on the side of the building led to a second jettied storey, although from a glance it seemed a different tenement and not the address mentioned on the card.

The only thing that marked this house as something more than just a regular residence was a small wooden sign hanging above the door with a crescent moon and a star painted on it next to the name "Zellara".


 
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Last edited by Thorsten; 02-28-2017 at 04:03 PM.
  #2  
Old 02-28-2017, 11:40 PM
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Ameya kneels on the moth-eaten carpet, eyes closed, and exhales slowly, trying to gather herself.

It had seemed like such a simple plan; find him, follow him, stick a dagger in his ribs, walk away...and everyone's problems would be solved. But that was three weeks ago...and all that she had accomplished was to wear through a pair of shoes. She must have walked every street and alleyway in Korvosa, but Gaedren Lamm seemed to have vanished in the wind; he was nowhere. How in the gods' names was she going to be able to kill the man, if she could not even find him?

Every morning she had begun with the same ritual; a harrow reading, to guide her steps for the coming day. So far, they had guided here everywhere but to wherever Gaedren Lamm could be found...yet still, she felt driven, felt compelled. So here she was, going through the ritual again, in yet another rat- and flea-ridden room on some nameless lane, hoping against hope that this will be the day she will complete her task, and be able to return home...wherever that is...

Pulling out the nine key cards, she selects one and places it in front of herself: The Demon's Lantern - the card of traps and tricks, of impossible situations - or possibly, representing a guide to show the way. But is she the guide, finding her way through the quagmire, or is she the one in need of guidance?

She sits still and silent, staring at the card for several long moments, then lets out a cry,

"Gah! What is wrong with you, stupid girl?!? What are you waiting for? One card does not make a reading, get on with it!"

Snatching up the card, she slams it back on the stack, and shuffles furiously, the cards slicing into the deck like knives into fresh meat. Once she deems that the deck was once again thoroughly mixed, she pauses again, struggling to regain her composure, then deals out the spread.
The Locksmith, The Midwife, The Cricket - The Past: She has been granted the keys needed to unlock her destiny. But the journey has gone poorly...the treasure has been lost

The Lost, The Dance, The Betrayal - The Present: Cooperation is needed. Selfishness, envy, evil threaten everything, but even through difficulty, the path is clear

The Sickness, The Rabbit Prince, The Keep - The Future: There will be combat...blood will be shed. Great temptation, danger of falling...but great strength, great opportunity
Again, she sits motionless, stating at the cards. They should mean something; they should be telling her a story - her story - but all they are giving her are questions and riddles...

"This is impossible! What was I thinking! Gaaah!"

With a sweep of her hand she throws the rest of her deck against the wall and buries her head in her hands, giving in to despair, and sobs quietly. After a few minutes, her breathing steadies and she sits up straight, composure regained. This too had become a sort of ritual for her in recent days; now that she had completed it, she felt ready to face the day. She scoops up her cards from where they lay strewn about the floor; that's when she sees it. The illustration is familiar - it matches those on the rest of her deck - but this is not one of her cards; she knows them as well as she knows her own body.

Suddenly filled with a sense of panic, she leaps to her feet and looks around her...but there is nothing out of place, no one out on the street. She is alone as she has been; whoever placed this card here has left no trace.
The Joke - a terror that must be overcome, a monster that can only be defeated through trickery
"But why? What does it mean? Where did it come from?!?"

As she shakes the card in her hand, as if hoping she can scare it into revealing its secrets, she notices the writing on the back of the card.

"I know what Gaedren has done....others like you will be there...who? what?"

She turns the card over, and over again, hoping that it will reveal more mysteries - then it comes back to her: The Demon's Lantern - A guide to show the way!


~~~~~


The sun was just dipping behind the city skyline as she found Lancet street. It would not be 'sunset' for a few minutes yet, but the shadows were already deepening in the narrow streets. Most of the people had stayed indoors during the heat of the day, and would not venture out for a bit yet, until the temperature dropped a few more degrees; in the meantime, she seemed to have the street all to herself.

But she would not be alone for long, if the card was to be believed. Others would be joining her here...or would they? Would the others come? Were there really any others at all?

Yes, there were. And they would come. She knew it. And together, they would do what she could not to alone. Justice would be done.

But that was still in the future. Sooner now, than it had ever been, but not just yet. For now, she steps back into a darkened doorway, just across and down the street from Number 3, and waits to see who else will show.
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Last edited by Eleven Sided Die; 02-28-2017 at 11:41 PM.
  #3  
Old 03-01-2017, 08:34 AM
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Gavin "Dashing" Rideout
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Dashing was in a rut. Not a metaphorical mental rut, but a long deep track created by the weight of years of pressure from heavy wagons. He had passed out shortly after being thrown into it the night before by owner of the Rusty Nail tavern when he had tried to pay for a night's worth of raucous and rowdy drinking with an IOU.

Hung over and nursing wounds from his brawl with the tavern owner, it was clear that Dashing had hit rock bottom. The once wealthy socialite now had only a single gold piece to his name, along with a bottle of wine he had managed to pilfer from the behind the bar. His once fine clothing was threadbare and sporting with several snags and tears that the former merchant prince had neither the knowledge nor wherewithal to patch. His chain shirt and rapier were still serviceable, but without a servant to take care of them, had fallen into disrepair.

As he sat in the dirt road, his mind wandered back to three months ago at the end of his parents trial. The high paid lawyers had promised them it was an open and shut case, an mere inconvenience that would quickly be dismissed. They had said only a fool would believe that his parents, pillars of the community, were criminals, much less the murders they were made out to be. Unfortunately for the Rideout family, it appeared that that day the jury had been seated with seven jesters.

His parents were found guilty of murder and executed within a matter of hours. All of their assets were immediately confiscated by the crown, the swiftness in which the verdict was meted out taking the unprepared Dashing by surprise.

The socialites he had once considered his closest friends had quickly turned their back on him, not wanting the stigma of caught fraternizing with the son of a criminals. He was homeless, penniless and without friends. All that was once good in his life was gone, leaving him nothing to live for. His eyes turned towards the knife he held sheathed at this side, a shutter going through his body as he momentarily considered an expedient way out of his situation.

But as his eyes turned away from his knife, they settled on a rumpled harrow card with a peacock emblazoned on it's front. He laughed bitterly as he realized the card could only be the fates mocking him. The peacock was not unlike the man he once was, a proud and noble beast of exceptional good looks. It was not afraid to show it's colors, whether it was trying to impress a woman or scare off a foe.

His hand moved quickly as he angrily picked up the offending card with the intent of tearing it up, a small act of defiance against the gods that had abandoned him. But he stopped as he saw writing on the back. I know what Gaerdren has done to you. it began, the words causing his blood to run cold as he quickly read the rest of the script.

Gaerdren. It was a name he had only learned of the night before, when he was told the truth about his parents trial. Gaerdren Lamm was the lowlife criminal who had brought forth the initial charges against his parents. The thug had framed them, undoubtedly in an effort to horn in on a piece of his parents legitimate business. Lamm was responsible for everything. And it appears I am not the only one he has wronged. he realized as he carefully placed the card in his torn jerkin pocket,

Dashing rose up from the ground, taking a time to brush the dust off his pants and run his fingers through his hair. It had only taken his a few moments for his situation to change. The harrow card and the writing on the back of it had given him a purpose and direction in his life. He was not longer the man with nothing left to live for. He would live for revenge.
The nimble rogue made his way quickly through alleyways to Lancet street, grimacing as he came to building number three. He scoffed at the size of the place, little more than a peasant's hovel. He did not dwell on it, but instead made his way inside without knocking, his eyes glancing up at the sign as he makes his way in througn the darkened entrance.

He stops quickly upon entering, his eyes catching sight of a husky and somewhat unattractive young girl. She was a Shoanti, a gypsy who had flitted from place to place. A gypsy? a &$@* gypsy?!?! he curses inwardly as his he obviously thinks that Ameya is the one that had left the harrow card - and has major concerns about it. Not only is she young, he Dashing is rather xenophobic and considers Shoanti as uncivilized and unintelligent mind jumps to a conclusion about the room's only occupant.

"You? You live here? You are Zellara? The one who left me the harrow card?" he asks her, his face knotted up in confusion.


Last edited by Squeak; 03-01-2017 at 10:00 AM.
  #4  
Old 03-01-2017, 08:53 AM
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BeginningsThe day had started about as badly as his actions of the night before could have made it. Badly drunk he had barely found his way home, though the drink had admirable succeeded in making him forget his troubles - if only for a few hours. Far too soon it all came crashing back into his conscious mind, when Marisa woke him a lot earlier than he would have liked.

The still young day went downward from there. First it turned out that his supply of alchemistís kindness had run out. Then Kennyth had been as coldly dismissive of Dariusí congratulations to the birth of his nephew as he had expected. And finally the man he had paid good money to to look into the whereabouts of Gaedren Lamm had come up empty. There werenít a lot of things that could have made the day worse at that point.

It was thus that the guard captain was rather quiet and somber company to the other guards. He would have welcomed someone trying to make a fuss, but it seemed that the sweltering weather made everyone too sluggish to bother getting worked up about anything, keeping even the less law abiding citizens indoors, waiting for the cooler time of night.

Even before noticing the writing on the back of the card that had so conspicuously lain in his path had the Harrow card been enough of a diversion from his otherwise bleak thoughts that Darius didnít think twice about picking it up. He didnít really believe in fortune tellings. Well, that was not entirely correct, if he was honest with himself. Surely there had to be those who could use magic to make such tellings actually work, he just had no way of differentiating one such from the many charlatans that seemed to pop up at every corner, especially during any kind of festivity. And so he simply steered clear of any and all such offers.

Consequently, the image on the card told him nothing beyond its face value. Turning it idly over changed things considerably. Darius read the words and stopped dead in his tracks. A wary look flicked across the street, trying to make out anyone who might have placed the card in his way, but finding no one.

It certainly wasnít inconceivable for anyone to have found out about him looking for Lamm, though the reasons behind that were a different matter. As much as he was still stumbling around in the dark, it was at least unlikely that it was a trap. Unlikely, but not impossible.

And so the evening found Darius striding down the streets towards Lancet Street wide awake and alert, scanning the shadows of alleys and doorways for suspicious shadows and the roofs for movement that didnít belong. His steps took him into the street and along it, past number 3 for now, taking in the state of the house and the light within, eyes never lingering on any one spot, moving over the sign at the door just as they did over the doorway opposite, without giving away whether or not he had seen anyone standing there. The warrior continued towards the next corner turning there and quietly - or at least quieter than he had walked until then - doubling back towards the corner to keep an eye on things for a bit longer.
  #5  
Old 03-01-2017, 12:07 PM
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Deep plum smeared in broad, fat strokes in a curvy fashion from center and out. Darker hues of purple, coal and black opposite thin lines and scattered scratches of light blue, silver and ivory had the dark angelic wings come alive perfectly. He had been working on the dark celestial visage for a week, when his bread-and-butter work with book illustrations and covers allowed it. The buyer was a real smooth-talking gallerist who had talked Edelbart into a poor pay for his work and he had the feeling that Mr. Paise wouldn't be as appraising of the working artist as he had promised. Another thing that bugged the exiled northerner was the likely fact that Paise would sell the piece for a whole lot more than just adding the usual gallery percentage. It was a great work, quality oil paint on thick canvas tight set on a sturdy pine frame. Alas, if artists could just skip the middleman, he would be ending his working days in a front side - full glass front - grand studio in the Heights before he knew it.

Edelbart brushed off his work table and turned to the painting again. In the lower right corner a card was resting lightly on the support construction. A deep frown spread across his face. He snatched the card from its place as if it had been a fly on his pie and flipped it around. It was a harrow card and while he knew nothing of its proper meaning and name he could tell from the rich and colorful illustration that it was one such. That, however, did nothing to clear up just why (and how) it had found its way to his art studio...

The backside unveiled some of the mystery, at least. He sat heavily. Baffled and with gaping jaw. Revenge? the word made his azata blood pump faster through his Ulfen veins. For a few minutes he sat still, eyes turning on long distance and thoughts drifting in and out, not really getting anywhere... brief images of Aiun - laughing and beaming back at him over their beach wood dinner table back home - and stabs of sorrowful agony as the child of sun, love and brightness, crept further and further along a painful recession in life. Edelbart bit down in a iron clenching jaw and snapped out of the reverie. He would respond to this call of opportunity. He knew that if he didn't, because he was safe, he had moved on or because he told himself that he was no man of revenge, he would think about it the rest of his days and scorn himself about not taking the chance.

There was no hurry though. He knew the city well and estimated that at a casual, long-legged Ulfen gait, he would make it in a little less than an hour. He meticulously packed down the studio for the day - rinsing every bit of oily paint from the horsehair brushes, safely tightening the lids of his waxes and doing a routine lock check on the windows, roof vents and shutters before he shouldered his empty willow basket that had held his lunch - steamed cod minced with basil leaves and great amounts of black pepper served on uneven lumps of rye bread. Quick, determined strides took him home quickly, where he drew forth his family's heirloom weapons from a low wooden chest under the bed and equipped them with trembling halls. Cynthia kept a full size mirror - a pricy addition to their otherwise 'homemade' apartment - and Edelbart felt his guts and stomach tighten to a knot as his green eyes greeted the fierce Ulfen vikingr that confronted him in his wife's mirror. Polished and blackened hard wood club hanging loosely in a netting of fine leather and a coarse bow string snapping coarse ochre-dyed leather to a hairy chest. The weapons and armor, decided Edelbart, was changing him to something he certainly did not think well of. Change? probably the single thing that he and Cynthia needed for their life to carry on as if Aiun's death had not crushed their belief in a purpose of life. Change. the word still clung to his mind as he picked his father's shield from the wall above the bed. The action had him reminding himself to leave s note for Cynthia... she would be tired returning from the bar hob, but she would certainly notice the shield had disappeared and would get worried. He didn't need that.

Edelbart lid a candle and took the time needed to scribble a note for Cynthia:

- Hope you had a decent night, love? I went to check on a few things. Don't worry about the shield and father's heirlooms, I am just bringing them for reference... I don't know when I'm back, but keep my blanket and your body warm and I'll be back to see the glory of a new day with you.

With that slapped onto the dining table, Edelbart stepped into the evening and saw how the last rays of golden greatness reflected on the baubles and flimsy extensions of the Shingles high up. A paradox really. Edelbart came to think of Nathisius' work on 'Art and the principles of understanding it' :

"Mercy, indulgence and virtue always have the brightest shine when they shed their glory on the ugliest of things."

As he trotted away over cobbled stones, he nodded to himself. Nathisius had it right. Again.

Halfway through the city, Edelbart came by a closing shop dealing with mundane trinkets from all over Golarion and he glimpsed a typical Linnorm King drinking horn. Polished horn on brass lion feet and lined with a golden tip. Skald letters inscribed in the thick brass ring that held the feet: BOTNLAUSA which translated neatly into the needs one might have in a drinking contest among the brutes of the North. One of those he was not... as was the case with most disciplines, skills and traditions of his home country.
Edelbart's curly artist mind swung neatly from his lack in processing large quantities of alcoholic beverages and catching greased wild boars in muddy pens to the claim from his father... to return home. Maybe this sign of revenge, faith and change was in fact the sign for a beginning of a new era in his life. Somewhere inside his good natured and Korvosa-eager soul, there was a hope that Kalsgarde would understand the need for beauty and artistic entrepreneurship. He almost laughed out loud, immediately mentally sealing the lid of that box and returning to the reality. Who was he to think that a stupid picture of a kneeling old king and a few words of shared hatred would bring him revenge? He had donned his father's arms, but he would accomplish nothing by himself.
If it did work out... he still had built his life evolving around Cynthia, his studio and idiots like Mr. Paise - all except a bitter Cynthia would end in a single stroke. He knew her too well to even hope that she would thrive in any way up North. Cynthia needed warmth - not only from the sun on a day like this, but also from patrons, neighbors, her husband and the city as a whole. In Kalsgarde she would instead find harsh prejudice, unbending will, fierce strength and a bone-chilling temperature.
Still - it was Siggeir Eriksson, his father who had sent forth a petition for him, the Exile, to return and erect the skewered empire of his family in the North.

With those thoughts rumbling forth and back, like an angry storm threatening to attack, Edelbart trampled onto Lancet Street. He didn't notice smells or other people's behaviors before he stood in front of the house that he sought. The door was open and a male voice rung out accusingly from within. Edelbart tried to relax, but his heart was racing. He stepped forth and knocked the door before he pushed it entirely open - still standing outside himself - his basil eyes adjusted to the darkness as a natural thing, although colors seemed to slip when the day subsided, but as Kevirian Fortť wrote in 'Spectacles':

"...and he who sees the world in grey, black and white will still know right from wrong...

It suited this situation pretty well, for Edelbart needed to know quickly what to make of this situation he had put himself in and first and foremost, he would like to find out if his endeavor was safe.

Last edited by Dressedtojazz; 03-03-2017 at 09:27 PM.
  #6  
Old 03-01-2017, 04:54 PM
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Gavin "Dashing" Rideout
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Dashing's eyes widen as a Edelbartman opens wide the door and stands in the doorway, staring. A bow was slung over his shoulder and a bludger's club hung from his belt, while his body tensed as he peered inside the small home. Movement over the man's shoulder gave another hint to the young ne'er-do-well of what was happening.

"Son of a $#*&... A trap." he curses softly as he steps backwards to put a solid wall behind him. He quickly draws his rapier and a dagger, the point moving quickly between the young woman and the man at the door.

"Who sent you? Judge Zenderholm? What, parents weren't enough for the bloodthirsty bastard, he wants the son too?
No? Mikhail Harrp then... I told him I would pay him back and I will. He just needs to give me a little time."
he says, his eyes shifting quickly from left to right as he looks for a backdoor to this tiny hovel.

"Not talking, eh? Well, if it's blood you want, you'll find I'm no easy prey. But first, send the gypsy girl on her way. She did what you paid her to, she got me here by leaking that damn harrow card. I'm not the kind of man that wants to see a young girl hurt, even if she is one of the damn Shoanti." he growls at Edelbart, his jaw clenching in anticipation.

"Come now, let's dance, you and I... Man against man." he says, his eyes widening as he once again sees movement behind the dumbstruck man.

"Make that two on one, you coward. Don't think I can't see your Dariuslittle attack dog out front casing the place." he says, a glance to the left showing that the girl seemed rooted to the spot.

"Or is it three to one? You've got the girl fighting with you too? Have you no pride?" he asks, the remark meant to belittle his attackers.

"It doesn't matter, I'll take you all on. Just know that I don't intend to be the only one that dies this day." he snarls through gritted teeth, spittle flying as he spoke, his whole body as tense as a wound spring.

"Well then, what are you waiting for, you yellow bastards? And engraved invitation? Let's end this." he asks, his knuckles growing white as he steels himself for the attack he was certain to come.

Last edited by Squeak; 03-01-2017 at 05:53 PM.
  #7  
Old 03-02-2017, 12:06 AM
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Crouching in her doorway for what seems like an eternity (but was in reality only a few minutes), Ameya fidgets nervously. Did I arrive late? Or is no one else coming? ...or perhaps they are all already inside... She shifts restlessly, trying to remain patient, but mere seconds later she can no longer contain herself; with a quick glance to ensure she was still alone, she dashes across the street and through the door.


As deep as the shadows were in the lane outside, the interior of the building was even darker. Trying to close the door behind her both swiftly and silently, but fearing she had failed miserably at both, she presses herself against the wall, hoping she could somehow disappear into the woodwork while her eyes tried to adjust to the gloom. After a few long moments, she begins to be able to make out her surroundings; she finds she is alone in a rather nondescript vestibule, lit by a few candles lining the walls. A door at the far end of the room would appear to be her ultimate destination, but she pauses, unsure of herself still. Am I meant to enter? Or will we be met here?

Before she can answer herself, the outer door flies open, and a figure fills the doorway. Another step reveals a rather disheveled man, dressed in what looks like might have once been fine clothes, but which had clearly seen better days...but with a rapier at his side which still looked very much up to whatever task he might put it. Before she can even think about formulating a greeting, he challenges her, his face a mixture of confusion and derision.

"What, me...no...I didn't leave any...I just got-" She is interrupted by the door again swinging open, and a third guest joining the party. This new arrival is tall, pale-skinned, clad in fur-trimmed leather: an Ulfen, very far from home. No sooner has he entered the room than the other man turns on him, drawing his sword and waving it menacingly. Ameya flattens herself against the wall behind her, her eyes glued to the tip of the rapier swaying back and forth between her and the man in the doorway, and draws her own dagger...
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  #8  
Old 03-02-2017, 01:27 AM
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With the patience of a teenage girl, Ameya lasted a full five minutes before she crossed the road and tried the door. It was unlocked and easily pushed open, revealing a small antechamber of dark colors. A small table with a single lit candlestub placed on it and a chair standing next to the window was the only things immediately visible - likely a place for customers to wait before being called in. Ameya had just stepped inside and barely had time to close the door behind her, before it was ripped open once more by someone who probably might look roguishly handsome, if not for the fact that his clothing looked - and smelled - like it had been dragged along every back alley of Korvosa.

Words flew and tempers rose, and just as Edelbart was the third to reach the address, and Darius was all but done circling back, Ameya found herself forced to step back to avoid the blade leveled at her. Doing so, she pressed her back against the wall behind her - only the wall was not a wall, but rather a curtain of thick cloth in a colour so dark as to almost appear black in the diminishing light.

Ameya found herself stumbling - backwards through the curtains and into the room beyond it, releasing a fragrant haze of flowers and strong spice upon the unsuspecting strangers.

The interior of Zellara's consisted of a single room that seemed to double as both home and workplace. The hazy aroma originated from several sticks of incense smoldering in wall-mounted burners that looked like butterfly-winged elves, and the bluish smoke that coiled upwards from each stick helped give the room a dreamy feel. The walls were draped with brocaded tapestries, one showing a black-skulled beast juggling human hearts, and another showing a pair of angels dancing atop a snow-blasted mountain. A third tapestry on the far wall depicted a tall, hooded figure shrouded in mist, holding a flaming sword in a skeletal hand. All motifs kept in the somewhat macabre style of art that many Korvosans seemed to prefer.

Towards one side of the room lay several rounds pillows on a small bed that looked like it also functioned as a low couch, and one of two cabinets in the room stood next to it, with the other finding use in a corner, where it had been turned into an oversized candlelabre, with numerous candlestubs all melted together to form one big glob of wax on the cabinet top. Pieces of broken mirror on string had been hung from the low ceiling, no doubt to help confer an air of mystery to room.

Several brightly colored rugs covered the floor, but the room’s only other furnishing of any note was a wooden table covered by a bright red throw cloth and several elegant, tall-backed chairs. A basket covered by blue cloth sat under the table. A single oillamp stood on the table and was the only source of illumination bar what slipped past the trio and the dark cloth in the entrance. A note lay next to it, weighed down with a stone paperweight.



 
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  #9  
Old 03-02-2017, 05:00 AM
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For a brief moment, Edelbart forgets everything about his equipped gear and the calm attitude he prides himself off. The inner Northman breaks through layers upon layers of stoic ease and patient calmness. He still grasps the door with his hand, thinking to slam it shut in the face of the shouting man or maybe just punch him and run, but a few things prevents all this from happening. First and foremost, Edelbart is entirely and utterly baffled with the situation. Secondly, the man accuses him for being... Gaedrean? the mere thought has him near roaring his indignation. Better to die than be remembered as scum like him. He lifts his hands and spread them out in a gesture of surrender and with a sliver of panic tries to get the man to calm. no... no, no, no. You have it all wrong. I am not the one you speak of. I am, but an artist of Korvosa. Living by the law... I... the other man had accused him for bringing allies to the fight. Worse - he said they were hiding behind him. Unsure what would be most fatal of turning his back to the rapier loon or approaching him to get away from daggers in the dark, he slowly turned, still holding his hands high. I came alone... was someone behind me?

Edelbart was feeling dizzy. He realized that it looked very much like a lie, to say he was an artist and then bring an arsenal of weapons and shield to the meeting, but there was very little he could do about it as of now. The man he just turned his back to was, as far as Edelbart could see and hear, a madman - perhaps wronged by Gaedran, yes, but still a madman. He could as easy as anything drive that blade of his into the innocent man in front of him. Cynthia - she would be torn from sanity if loosing the last bit of her family. Edelbart found resolution in his mind and it tightened around his jaw. With his most demanding presence he spoke again, now stripped from fear and only bearing command and determination, you better put the blade down and behave civilized. We are here in a common cause... that's what I get from all this. Stand aside.

He turned just in time to get a good view of how the young woman flailed through the thick curtain - ripping open a gateway to both light and a room beyond. Hoping - for a second time - that the rapier-dandy wouldn't pierce his kidney with his weapon, Edelbart stepped to the woman's aid, offering her a hand. Seems you got scared too? he squinted back at the fallen fop and gave the lady a wink and a grin, ...guess we all go a bit scared?
  #10  
Old 03-02-2017, 05:52 AM
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Escalation?Darius didn’t hear everything being said, but the bits and pieces were enough to make him believe that he was not looking at a setup. Or it was the most weird setup ever conceived. By pure looks and armaments the men might have been part of a trap, however he did not think that Lamm would have hired actors to play out a charade for Darius’ benefit. Simpler ways to get a drop on someone.

Having made up his mind that these were likely the co-conspirators mentioned on the card, Darius approached the door himself, making no more attempt at keeping himself hidden. It wasn’t his forte anyways. He stepped into the doorway, momentarily darkening what little light still came in from outside, and took in the situation within.

His eyes were immediately caught by the youth with weapons drawn. The warrior’s trained eye told him that here was a man who knew how to handle the blades in his hands. He also didn’t need to be a clairvoyant to see the stance of someone feeling pushed into a corner. The Ulfen - if that was, what he was - was harder to read. Was he just trying to defuse the situation by helping the clearly scared girl or attempting to get closer to the dandy? Hm, I missed the girl. Or maybe she had been here already?

Figuring that it would be better to not cut the youth off from an escape route, but also unwilling to just stand outside waiting like a fool, Darius took a step inside and then away from the door and the youth both. He had no problems keeping his hands away from the greatsword and javelins carried on his back, even though he was ready to dodge an attack should it come. "Caution is good, boy, paranoia can be dangerous. Don’t do something now that you might regret soon." There was the hint of a threat in Darius’ voice. "Seems to me he," he gestured towards the Ulfen, "has got the right of it. We’re likely here for the same reason." He had heard that part of the conversation at least.

"No sense in killing each other if there’s someone else we might all be looking for." The guardsman kept as close an eye as he could on the three to try and judge their reactions.

Last edited by Blackfyre; 03-02-2017 at 05:53 AM.
  #11  
Old 03-02-2017, 10:49 AM
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Gavin "Dashing" Rideout
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As the others look at him with a mixture of fear and confusion, Dashing relaxes, the point of his rapier dipping momentarily. The rogue didn't know whether or not they were telling the truth, but backing down when the only other option is a fight to the death made it a simple choice.

Nodding in agreement, he slides his rapier into his sheath quickly and begins talking amiably to the others as if he had not just threatened to kill them all. "Scared? Me? Hardly..." Dashing says dismissively, not even considering that the comment was directed to the girl and not at him.

"They left a hand-written note for me on a harrow card, hardly a formal invitation. And then when I come here, whoever planted it doesn't even bother to show up? You have to admit, that is strange and sounds a bit like a trap, doesn't it?" he says matter-of-factly as he reaches under the table to pull out the basket of goodies and helps himself.

"Name's Gavin. Gavin Rideout. But everybody calls me Dashing." the rogue says through bites of a large piece of bread. "I got a card that said this was the place to come if you had a beef with Lamm." he says, chuckling momentarily at his witty word choice.

"And I do have a score to settle. If I ever find that bastard, I'm going to... EEEEWWW!" he says, spatting out a mouthful of wine onto the floor, gagging a bit as he does so."By Calistria's saggy tits, how can anyone drink that swill?!" he asks, setting his glass aside and staring at it as if it had grown devil's horns. He quickly produces his own bottle and expertly pops the cork with a single flick of his dagger.

"Here now, this is what wine is supposed to taste like. Elven vintage, 20 years old. There was a drought that year and as you know, the best wine is made from vines that had to dig deep." he explains as he pours himself a glass and inhales deeply to absorb the aroma.

"While we are waiting for our host to arrive, why don't you all enjoy a bit of bread and some real wine and tell us who you are and what brought you here?" he suggests as he lifts his glass in salute to the others and takes a small sip, swishing it around in his mouth to enhance the flavor.

OOCRemoving a bottle of 10gp fine wine from my character sheet. As a warning, if nobody else has any wine, you'll probably end up with a tipsy rogue before too long.

Last edited by Squeak; 03-02-2017 at 12:33 PM.
  #12  
Old 03-02-2017, 11:56 PM
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BiongorBiongor did not even receive the message at first when it was given. A card sitting on top of the altar got swept into the pockets of his robes as he went about preparing for the dawn liturgy. The hymns of dawn were among his favorite in the canon. Not the most rousing for a public celebration but for a deeply meditative service they were just right. It was to that purpose that the dwarf surrendered himself that morning and he allowed the music to carry away his soul and his troubles. The prayers of the morning ritual were rote and easily gotten through and those faithful who came for the inspiration of Sarenrae at the beginning of their day sent to go bear the Everlight into their communities. The priest who serviced the shrine, in the meantime, headed back to the sacristy to get changed out of the ceremonial robes of the clergy. It was then that he saw the card again.

The dwarf snorted at seeing the harrow image staring back up at him and went to go toss it in the rubbish bin when a random twitch showed him that there was text written on the back. He briefly skimmed it with curiosity but then stopped and read it again more carefully. … … … "Well then, this is unexpected." The dwarf set the card on the table and finished disrobing from the ceremony and putting his ‘street clothes’ back on. He then picked up the card again and sat on a bench in the sacristy reading it over and over.

The issue of what to make of this tossed through the dwarf’s mind. Biongor knew why his superiors had assigned him to this church: to give him a space to get away from the malevolent crime lord’s influence. A new leaf and all that. Perhaps, given the goddess he served, he should make some fire/light reference, but new leaf seemed to work better than any that were coming to the dwarf’s mind at the time, shock and all limiting his available vocabulary. Gaedren had almost ceased to be a person to Biongor, just a phantom whose horror spread over the city like a blight. A cursed darkness so dark it was almost easy to forget there was a person behind it. The fact that hardly anybody ever actually saw the man much less traced him back to a home only lent a certain aura to the myth of Gaedren Lamm. But now, if this card was to be believed, his location was known and a task force of the bereaved being summoned to take him down. A worthy cause, and a necessary one.

One usually thinks of priests as more beneficent in their daily interactions and certainly that is an image they try to present. But anybody who looked at Biongor’s face that morning as he sat in the sacristy of a temple of Sarenrae would not have immediately seen a priest. A smile formed a thin crag across a face hardened by anger, the smile itself not one of joy but of savage glee. All of the justifications Biongor fed himself were true in and of themselves, but Biongor had long since admitted to himself that they weren’t the real fuel here. Gaedren Lamm needed to die. For what he did to the city and for what kind of a man he was sure, but every sentient creature has something less than sentient at their core: an animal sensibility. And Biongor’s was absolutely positive about the need for Gaedren’s death. It was nice that his mind could come up with reasons, but they were entirely secondary. Even as he pretended to wrestle with the ethics of getting involved in this, Biongor knew that there was never any real doubt. He would be at that meeting.

The rest of the day at the temple passed in something of a blur. Noon services were never truly his favorite, and they always felt rushed by the pressures of the lunch schedule. Fortunately, there were others who could take the dusk service. Sarenrae was not so deprived of clergy that Biongor was the only acolyte at his temple and the dwarf happily left the others in charge. Instead, he dressed in clothes that could almost have belonged to anybody. If it weren’t for the giant angel emblazoned on the chest of his heavy tunic and the tabard that hung down his front, he would almost look like any other dwarf. But the clothes were not the only pieces of his ensemble, which included the armor that all clerics of Sarenrae were trained to wear and the only incongruous piece of equipment he owned: a scimitar. It wasn’t incongruous with his faith, for the reaping scimitar was Sarenrae’s favored weapon to sweep aside evil but Biongor knew from the dwarven enclave that dwarves with scimitars were not exactly common sights. But tonight, he didn’t care. For tonight, he was going after the Enemy.

As dusk approached, Biongor left the temple behind him and strolled off into the streets of Korvosa. He had, over his life, spent a lot of time in these streets and a brief check of maps reminded him where Lancet Street was and how to get there easily. Of course, being a dwarf, and a short one, meant that he traveled through the streets slowly and by the time he arrived at the house the sun had definitively set. He could see and hear people talking in the building as he approached it and he knocked loudly at the door. It would be rude to just bust in after all.

He hoped that they were here for the same thing he was. Otherwise, this was going to be awkward.
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Last edited by Adorios; 03-02-2017 at 11:56 PM.
  #13  
Old 03-03-2017, 12:51 PM
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The Hidden TruthLate to the party, but never not the life of it.

At least that's what she was once told. All truth being told, Drulia knows that the only life she brings to the party is the one that smells like she brought both life and death with her. That may be an exaggeration, as her personal smell isn't all that bad, and mixed with some of the more compelling smells of antiquity she deals with on a regular basis, it's hard to complain really when the rest of the city smells like Imps and Pseudodragons run mad in the wastebins.
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That was on a good day, she supposed.

She had been "working." Working, of course, was a subjective term. She perused. She moved about. Nickelbreeches was kindly enough, but she did not like the busy work that he gave her. Clean this, polish that, why does this smell like Arcadian tobacco? Order after order after order! She missed uncle on the days he was gone. One the days he was here to remind her what a good thing it was that Nickelbreeches was doing this for her, she wanted to vomit. And stab something.

After her third Shining Crusade shield, Drulia decided to take an early lunch, which usually constituted stealing a bit of bread from the old Gnome whose antique shop she lived while was distracted, sleeping, or both.

The spellbook had been a gift, once, when she started to show arcane promise. Her mother's family had not appreciated it, but it had been one of the gifts from her relatives in Westcrown whom she had never and would likely never meet. Her tenth nameday, a promise that magic opened up the infernal depths to all of our hearts. Dark secrets lie in magic. All that Cheliax nonsense. Her father had found it amusing; she was obsessed, and spent the night trying to dictate in her spellbook her first spell, a simple cantrip to produce light. Of course, she did not have the right materials, not that anyone in her family knew that, and instead drew a pretty picture of arcane characters, sigils, and text to provide notation. A quick mind, she realized it was no spell, yet. The next day, with her savings from her mother's side of the family, she began dictating her own spells from scrolls her father had bought for her nameday.

Soon, she was in the Academae, and the rest, as they say, is tragedy.

She flipped to that page, the page she had started to write the illumination spell upon. She had, of course, marked back over it with the appropriate alchemical ink, giving it a blue color, but the original, black ink did not fade: it seemed darker still, an irony she reflected upon with a smile. But the page was not as she had left it. A simple Harrow card, of an old man reading from a book with an excitable, arcane look on his face. And a note on the back.

"Nickelbreechesó" She cried out, preparing to give him a scathing retort to this insult, but then she saw the first line. She froze, reading the rest quickly, and again, then a third time to make sure. She didn't hear the Gnome's reply until he was already there, upon which time she had read the message ten times over.

"What is it, girl? Wható"

She stood, quickly. "Nothing, Nickelbreeches." Her hand reached above him, to where she kept her cloak on a Qadiran cloak rack. The Gnome was small, but he was a character, in bright purples and blues with a mustache that hung like a vine from his gigantic nose. If she didn't know any better, she'd say he was the fellow on the card, save for the hair color.

"Now, Drulia, girl, I must insist you tell meó"

She strapped her rapier to her side, and then her spellbook to the opposite side with her chain. "If Uncle returns, tell him I'm away on business." She was gone wtihout a second thought, leaving most of her things behind: only spell components and a bit of jerky and berries came with her, beyond her warrior's tools and magician's works.

"I don't like that sort of business," she heard the Gnome say behind her as she headed off, down the ladder to the ground floor from her perch on the third, above the precariously stacked archives of Nickelbreeches' Rarities.

And so, she was late to the party.

Perhaps it was on purpose. She arrived at the place well enough, but making sure she was not followed was a hard enough task. She walked right by the place twice. Three times. Each time, she took a different alleyway to return, and on the second time, she noticed that others were coming and beginning to congregate before the house, marked Zellara. She didn't know the name. Varisian? Probably. It didn't strike her as Taldane. Not in the slightest.

If this was Varisian business, she would see herself out. No offense to Varisians, but a blood feud was hardly her way of getting revenge, and besides, there was no guarantee this was not set up by Lam himself.

Upon her third return, everyone had gone inside and left a note, of sorts, and so, Drulia went and read it. And listened, besides, to the benign conversation inside. Mostly the one fellow yelling. A lot. She slips in, quietly enough, but making sure the sound of the door shutting behind her is heard. She strides in, cloak pulled over her head, hand on the hilt of her blade, making no eye contact but looking over every face slowly.

"Well, if it is a trap, you've made it well known to the gods and everyone where you are. So, in that regard, I congratulate you. We all know you're here." The man going on about food and whatnot, Drulia takes a seat, and places her boots on the table, pulling back her hood. Her skin is sun-kissed, but faded of recent months with a dark sagging set of lines underneath pale eyes. Her brown hair is matted, as if unwashed for a few days, and her clothes do not match her personality. Fine though they are, and only weather-scuffed, she seems a little worse for wear, smelling like cleaning materials and musk from the walk down from Old Korvosa.

She does not partake in food.

"So you all received the same thing, hm? Is anyone fluent in Harrow? I recognize the card and can discern some esotericism from it, but have little use for petty superstition. Perhaps, together, we can discern a meaning from our collective cards. And while we're at it, share our names." She has no interest in sharing her backstory, and thus preemptively took over the conversation and abrasively.

"Drulia Amaranth. The Hidden Truth."
  #14  
Old 03-03-2017, 01:26 PM
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IntroductionsAnd just like that the situation was a lot less volatile. A little more at ease, Darius ventured into the main room of the flat, looking around with interest. The tapestries especially looked like he might actually put one or two up in his own home, though he had no eye for interpreting any hidden meaning they might hold beyond face-value. And why should he. As far as he was concerned, art was supposed to look good and not be used as basis for deep, philosophical discussions.

However good the pieces looked, there were, at present, several far more interesting subjects present to focus his attention on. "You worry about a trap, yet simply drink from the offered wine? No matter the quality." Darius himself had no intention of partaking in either the food and drink in the basket, nor the one offered by the youth. At least not until he knew more about whoever their host was turning out to be.

For the moment though, it seemed that while more people still arrived, neither of them had left the note. Or the cards earlier. A dwarf. And another, down-on-her-luck youth. The group was turning out to be quite fascinating.

"I do not much care for the meaning of the picture," he stated, drawing forth his own card. It showed The Forge. "more in the message on the back." The warrior considered the others for a moment, wondering if he should even bother introducing himself. However, if this was not a waste of time, it was likely that the night still held violence in store for them and in the middle of combat it was rather inconvenient to call for “hey you!”. "Darius Vendral," he introduced himself simply.
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Old 03-03-2017, 11:28 PM
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BiongorAs the doorway in front of him cleared, the dwarf stepped into the room to find it quite the unusual situation. People who seemed to almost irrationally hate and distrust each other and yet were trying to put on a veneer of sang-froid in order to elevate themselves. Forcing cheeriness on their interactions and speaking in stilted sentences as if that were going to impress anybody. One of them apparently could not stay away from any bottle of liquor and had indeed brought his own to supplement what this Zellara had provided. Broken men and women, all of them. But probably no more broken than Biongor himself was. The detritus and disorder left in the wake of a man like Gaedren Lamm. Here was more proof, if more were needed, that Lamm needed to be eliminated. For what greater evidence could be martialed than the pain the people in this room were presenting?

Not that Biongor said anything like that as he made his way quickly into the room, his armor clinking softly among the heavy clothes that he wore. The stocky dwarf was not a quiet mover though, and his footsteps were almost certainly as loud as the armor. Most of what he wore was plain and simple but the holy symbol of Sarenrae, Goddess of Redemption, stood out proudly against his chest. He moved over and stood in a corner to be out of the way. The table was a little crowded for his tastes so he stood close enough to participate in any conversation but also not so close that others might bump into him. The room was big enough to accommodate them without crowding. He moved to take neither food nor drink, his eyes flicking over and past them with barely any recognition. He was not hungry and this was not a time for drinking. He figured that introducing himself now was a proper course of action. "I am Brother Biongor. And yes, I came because this Zellara spoke of seeking a way to punish Gaedren Lamm for all the evil he has done." He figured there was no reason to be circumspect with this group about it. Trying to speak around what had brought them all here was only likely to lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings. If any were here for some other purpose, or if indeed he was the only person here for that purpose, it would be best to discover it now.

Biongor’s voice lacked the guttural brogue most often associated with dwarves, sounding almost human (albeit a bit deeper than the human average) and while he spoke with the proper intonations and inflections, there was not much emotion coloring his words. They were calm and unhurried. He reached into the pockets of his coat and pulled out the harrow card that Zellara had used for him. It was The Midwife. ”I have no experience in harrow … Do you call it harrow reading? If any of you do, I suppose it might be interesting to learn if these have any meaning.”
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