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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 12:33 PM
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The Midnight Mirror: Chapter One - Dread of Night

No Rest
Avistan Aid Association Lodge
Location: Korvosa, Varisia
Time: Toilday, 23 Rova, 4714 AR

A Call into Darkness

The concept of normal working hours is utterly foreign. Darkness covers the city of Korvosa, the chill sea breeze whipping through the streets and keeping folks indoors under the threat of the changing seasons. Most workers have long since abandoned the taverns to rest for the coming day’s labors, but plenty of people find excuses to keep their eyes open long into the night. Messengers flit back and forth across the port city at all hours, summoning guardsmen, warning bureaucrats, transmitting clandestine messages, or, most importantly, carrying urgent notices to certain canny individuals whose services could be obtained with sufficient coin.

With the first watch nearly over, though, it was not entirely expected for five lackeys to be dispatched from the Avistan Aid Society Lodge, the runners coursing through the streets in search of five specific individuals. With a single rolled piece of parchment stuffed into the inside pocket of each of their waistcoats, the aspiring young people carefully schooled their features to hide the excitement that came with their duties. Few proposals required the Association to send for their contractors immediately, and even fewer necessitated such nocturnal activity.

Adventurers are not always the easiest people to find. To be sure, they are often found in the various taverns and wine shops of any given settlement, but their lives can not be narrowed down to drinking, sleeping, and traveling. Perhaps one has taken it upon themselves to spend a night in pious vigil at the nearby shrine or even in a wooded glen beyond the city walls. Perhaps one has found companionship for the evening, or even longer. The lackeys surged through the streets, stopping at the inns to inquire after their targets, then continued on their ways, undaunted by the prospect of exhaustion. The further they had to run, the more guards they had to be interrogated by, the more difficult their quarry was to corner, the more they proved themselves.

The Association is selective on whom it accepts for any role, and the pages are no exception. Dogged determination wins the day. In due course, all five found their assigned targets. Each delivered their roll of parchment, the crest of the Association pressed in wax upon the seal. Each bowed graciously upon receiving the token that would prove their success, then disappeared back into the Korvosan night.

Their duties were complete. The rest depended upon the whims of the Darkwatch. The whims, and, more importantly, the greed. Money spoke volumes, and each piece of parchment promised that and more.

The Summons
23 Rova, 4714 AR
11:23pm



Esteemed Association Contractor,

An urgent contract has been received by the Association Lodge in Korvosa, seeking immediate assistance from proven agents. Lodge personnel have determined that the most qualified contractors currently located in the Korvosan region are the Darkwatch. As such, you and your companions have the right of first refusal on this matter. Simply arrive at Docking Berth 6 before the midpoint of the second watch, and you will be transported by sea to Nisroch, in Nidal. Initial payment offer is 6000 pieces of Nidalese-minted gold. Offer is as follows:

Baron Tiboros, Nisroch

I have ceased to receive letters from my daughter, the baroness of Karpad. I do not believe harm has befallen her. I wish to determine the health of my daughter and her son. I will provide transport from Nisroch to Karpad. Payment on completion plus reasonable expenses. Mark urgent.

All communications are subject to verification upon arrival. Message received via Amulet services at 9:56pm, 23 Rova.



Regards,
Horbad Kunlin

OOCWelcome to the Midnight Mirror!

From here, you have two and a half hours to arrive at the docks. Feel free to describe any preparations and/or deliberations, as well as your late-night walk to the port. Upon arrival, you may converse at your leisure. Full progress to Berth 6 is not required, but it is acceptable. I will move things on once everyone is settled.

Last edited by Ziether; Oct 12th, 2020 at 04:12 PM.
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Old Oct 13th, 2020, 10:23 PM
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Jeydavu was packed and ready to go by the beginning of second watch. He owned very little, and what he owned he could carry easily in two satchels, courtesy of some well spent coin, and magic. For a simple monk, it made life easier, or at least, it made all things appear easier, and simpler.

That's half the battle, isn't it? he thought. He wiped a speck of dust from his bow, and stowed it in his quiver, a seemingly impossible task to fit a four foot long bow into a three foot long quiver. But, with magic, it too was done easily. And efficiently! He took a small moment of pride in that thought.

Getting to the docks would be little trouble, but the monk didn't wish to risk waiting for the last moment. "Early is on time, on time is late," he repeated quietly to himself. It was a mantra he had trouble learning and accepting, when he started his life at the monastery, coming as he had from a clan of people that had little concept of time, except as something to waste. The Oread still remembered the sting of the cane switch on his knuckles, every time he was late to a training, session, or lesson. Even the chores were regimented, and Jeydavu paid many a price for his tardiness, before he finally learned. Like many of his lessons, he was slow to master it, but once he did, it became set like stone in his life.

Later in his life, those lessons would pay huge dividends, as learning patience and valuing time became extremely important to him.

And so, the brown skinned archer collected his things in preparation for his trip. He pulled his cloak over his head, and headed towards the docks, leaving a silver coin on his cot for the acolytes who would find it tomorrow, and prepare the room for others. He hoped they would buy something nice for themselves, but he knew they would dutifully place the coin in the coffers, for all to use.

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It was an easy walk through the streets, not crowded now that commerce had closed for the day. He kept his eyes focused on those people he did see, making sure they knew that he saw them, for after dark, a different commerce began to commence in the streets and alleys of the port city. An unwary pedestrian could easily walk into a snake's pit, and the monk knew it.

He was not fearful for his safety. So long as he paid attention, and remained alert, the scoundrels would slink away, to find easier prey, than the squat, cloaked man. No scent of alcohol preceded him, and there were easier prey on the streets, or would be soon enough. Despite being a bit taller than a typical dwarf, he knew he looked enough like them to make most humans pause, and rethink their ideas. Drunk dwarves were no one's idea of an easy mark: they rarely got so drunk they couldn't fight back, and they were damn tough pieces of work when they did.

The Oread arrived at the docks well before midpoint of the watch, and slowed his pace. A careful circle of the area, almost without thinking, found three good nests where he could set up and watch, and with over an hour until the meeting time, that's what he did. He climbed a short wall, and hopped onto a lean-to roof, using it to get atop a fish-monger's shop. From here, he could get the occasional whiff of fresher sea air, filled with salt and almost cool, instead of the constant odor of rotting algae and fish guts that permeated the air at dock level. The night air still stank, but from his perch, he could at least see the meeting locale, and let the sweat cool from his exertions.

He settled in, somewhat comfortable in the shadows, and waited. Jeydavu carefully withdrew his bow, and using a practiced motion with his foot, strung it with ease, before laying it aside. He pulled five arrows out of the quiver as well, and lay them next to his make-shift aerie.

If it were a trap being set, he would see something in the next hour to tip their hand, and from his position, he could warn the others. He settled in, picturing himself as a rock in a field. Very few people could wait like the Oread, motionless and serene. Helps to be part elemental, he reminded himself. It had taken him a long time in life to accept that his heritage was a bonus, but once he did, he embraced it.

His lip twitched as he smiled slightly. Become the rock, he repeated to himself, and let his eyes roam over the docks. Become the rock.
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Old Oct 13th, 2020, 11:55 PM
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"What? Yes, I am he. Ah yes, of course, here you go...good evening."

Aziq fetches a few silver from his pouch and presses them into the messenger's hand. The wizard breaks notes the familiar mark of the Association as he breaks the seal on the scroll. He should have known it as soon as he saw the messenger; no one else would have known to find him here, particularly at this hour. "An urgent contract..." - it must be urgent indeed if they were calling in agents in the middle of the night. Oh well, such was life in the Darkwatch...and it wasn't like he had anything better to do...

He had come to Theumanexus College on a rumour of an Azlanti treatise on planar travel that was said to be located in one of the vaults. But if it existed, it had defied all of Aziq's efforts to find it over the past three days. His fingers were starting to crack with dryness from turning page after page in his fruitless search, but a voyage at sea was sure to remedy that. The third bell had just sounded, so there was plenty of time to pick up provisions on the way. Upon reaching the street, he pulls his hood close around his head. Korvosa was cosmopolitan enough that ratfolk were not overly feared or shunned, but he had always found that the less attention he drew to himself, the better. On the way back to the inn to gather his belongings he reads the note again...Baron Tiboros...Karpad...Knowledge (Nobility) on Baron Tiboros = 14; Knowledge (History) and (Geography) on Karpad = 16 and 12, respectivelytrying to recall any scrap of memory that those names might trigger.

At the inn he packs his bag and settles with the inkeep (knowing the Association, he might be back in a few days, or he may be gone for a few months). Next, a stop to pick up provisions (some hillcakes for the journey, and a Mahktasha for a late-night snack before the voyage). Arriving at the docks with time to spare, he takes a seat on the pier. Even in the dark of night the docks are a bustle of activity; dozens of crew scramble like ants in the moonlight, loading and unloading ships, bringing in cargo and preparing for passengers, to every corner of the Inner Sea, and beyond. He thinks back to his own journeys: His first sea voyage, from Goka, to Vudra, Jalmeray, and finally to Katapesh. The jobs with the Aspis Consortium. And now, the latest in a series of missions for the Association. He has been to more places than he even knew existed when he was growing up in the Deepmarket, but they were an infinitesimally small speck compared to the whole of creation that was out there waiting for him.


One day...


 

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Old Oct 14th, 2020, 05:56 PM
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Liliana
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The flickering light of a small lantern played across the manuscript Liliana had spread across the desk in her private quarters. The Avistan Aid Assossiation provided modest rooms for those without boarding of their own, and while many would consider them glorified pantries, Liliana rather quite liked the boarding she was afforded here. The rooms may have been small, but they were cozy, and it was much preferred to living on the streets of Cheliax. Plus, her own room was tucked away in a relatively remote corner of the building, so she had plenty of privacy. She could study whatever she wanted to without distraction. Especially in the middle of the night.

Nighttime was something of a haven for Lily. She enjoyed the stillness of the sleeping city, with only the distant footsteps of patrolling guards and the occasional drunk stumbling home to interrupt the sounds of crickets, owls, and other nocturnal creatures. She needn't worry about her odd appearance, or her atypical behaviors. She could pursue whatever odd topics caught her fancy without interruption.

That was, of course, when she heard an unfamiliar set of footsteps in the hall outside her dorm. They walked with purpose, but they were close together. Running? No, more like jogging. Small feet, indicative of someone either young or of a smaller race, halfling or gnome, maybe. They echoed lightly on stone walls, and they were getting closer. Liliana's room was the only one occupied in this far-flung section of the compound, so it seemed logical to assume whoever this was, they were looking for her. She sighed, and rolled up the scroll on her desk, and set it aside on the pile of similarly bundled texts, neatly stacked in a basket she had set on the corner of her study-space. Lily stood, straightened the wrinkles in her trousers from her prolonged sitting position, and moved toward the door.

As the footsteps came to a halt right outside her door, she opened it, startling the young boy. His fist had been poised to knock, raised in the air at head-height. He quickly lowered it, and said, "Ms. Vaticus, I 'ave a missive for you." He was speaking overly formally, but his accent still had the streets on it. Probably thirteen or fourteen, he was still small, but he had the sure signs of late-stage puberty. Patches of stubble on his chin and cheeks from an inexperienced hand at shaving, a pronounced Adam's apple on his otherwise skinny neck, and gangly proportions that he had yet to fill out with the muscle he'd gain in the next couple of years. His accent and frame led her to believe that he had been one of Lamm's Lambs, a group of children coerced to follow a crooked thief several years back here in Korvosa, and steal on his behalf. Probably one of the younger Lambs, but the evidence was mostly circumstantial at best. Unimportant, either way.

"Yes, young man, I'd assumed as much." Her tone was even, mildly annoyed at the interuption, and the boy flinched a bit. Evidence of verbal abuse. He was keenly aware of tones that indicated displeasure. He subtly moved his feet to a defensive posture, and his eyes flitted back down the hall whence he had come. Sighing, and blushing slightly, she moderated her tone, "I'm sorry, I don't mean to shoot the messenger. You're just doing your job." She held out her hand, and the boy quickly handed her an envelope. She opened it, and quickly read over the contents, frowning slightly. A mission, on this short notice? At least she was already awake, but the others may not have been. She quickly folded the paper back up and tucked it into a pocket.

Nodding, she turned her gaze back to the messenger. "Thank you for the message. What was your name again?"

"It's, uh, Gerald, miss, but most people call me Gerry." He nervously shuffled his feet.

"Well, Gerald, I apologize again for my terse response. It was uncalled for." She fished a couple of silvers out of her pouch, and placed them in his hand. "Go get some rest, you need all the rest you can get at your age. You know, during puberty, the human body needs an average of nine and a quarter hours of sleep to healthily develop. Studies have shown that-" She blinked, and cleared her throat. "Anyway. Thank you. Good evening, Gerald." She closed the door as Gerald scampered off, relieved to get away from the odd tiefling woman.

Lily began reading the missive again, more carefully this time. Baron Tiboros, Nisroch, Karpad. This mission was in Nidal, she had gleaned that much, but she'd have to contemplate if she'd heard of the other areas and the baron in more detail. For now, she begain packing up her belongings. She pulled out the trunk tucked underneath her bed, and opened it, retrieving her belongings. A pair of pistols, both of her own desgin, a rapier, a pair of daggers, and a haversack with the rest of her traveling implements. It was much easier to keep things packed and ready to go when she was on call for missions. Preparation was key. She was ready within minutes, and she only had one thing left to do. She opened a cabinet in her desk and slipped a clean piece of parchment from a stack left there for notes. Pulling an ink pen from her belt pouch, she wrote a short message:

Lucy, I have been called out on business for the Association. My team and I will be traveling to Nidal, so I suspect I will be gone for a few weeks. I will write when I can. Be well, your sister, Lily

She folded the note into thirds, and, shouldering her pack, blew the lamp out. The light source had been mainly a convenience, making reading a little easier. Her eyes adjusted to the dark immediately, and the room's muted brown tones turned instantly shades of black, white, and grey. She departed her dorm, and locked the door behind herself. She shrugged her shoulders to settle the haversack into a more comfortable position and began slowly walking down the hall, lost in thoughts about the mission ahead.

In a corridor off the main hall, she tucked the note she had written under another dormitory door, one her sister shared with her current lover. Lucy went through partners at least once every couple of months, so Lily wasn't sure who the current affair was with, but she didn't want to walk in on the pair. She had done that enough to lead to some very awkward situations. Turning, she proceeded to leave the compound and make her way to the docks.

It was a short walk, and though she was a woman traveling alone in the dark, she met no footpads or other unsavory sorts. Sure, they were around, but a tiefling's horns, even on a woman, cut an intimidating silhouette, so they scuttled back into their alleyways, waiting for an easier target. Near the docks, she could see a pair of men, frustrated, tucked behind a pair of crates. "First that dwarf bloke, now a devil, where are the easy marks?" Older, human, mid-thirties to forties, Sczarni from the sound of his voice. Further grumbling amongst the pair followed her, probably too quiet for most people to hear. She grimaced, resisting the urge to reach up and touch her horns. She still harbored some shame, however irrational, at her heritage. Cheliax had beat that into her, many times literally.

The docks were busy, and several ships were occupied, loading or unloading cargo. She spied a figure sitting in the shadows, a bow in one hand, and a group of arrows tucked into the ground. That would probably be Jeydavu. A cautious oread, and a newer member of the Darkwatch. She surmised he might suspect a trap, and wisely took a post to watch for potential ambushes. A small figure, arriving just ahead of her, was settling down on the docks to wait. Probably Aziq, a ratfolk wizard, whom she had shared a few discussions on magical theory with. She nodded to Jeyvadu across the shipyard, and moved to sit next to Aziq.

"Good morning, Aziq." She crossed her legs, and adjusted her belt, making sure her pistols or blades didn't jab into her leg. "I hope you aren't too tired for the voyage to come. I suspect you were already up. My studies say that many ratfolk are nocturnal by nature."
 
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Old Oct 15th, 2020, 08:29 PM
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Aziq
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"Ah, Lily...I guess it is morning, isn't it? I hope you've been well." He shifts a bit to make room on the bench for the tiefling's equipment. "I was awake, yes. An unsuccessful attempt at doing some research. I suspect there will be opportunity enough for sleep once we get underway."

He looks out at the water again, counting the berths to pick out which ship was theirs. "It is...curious...that this mission is so urgent that we are leaving in the dead of night, don't you think? Have you ever been to Nidal? I know it only by its reputation."


 

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Old Oct 15th, 2020, 09:38 PM
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Liliana
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Smiling slightly at the companionship, Lily settled more comfortably on the bench, murmuring her thanks. Fiddling with the buckles on her bandolier unconsciously, she turned and looked out to the dark waters. "I'm afraid most of my knowledge is from study as well. I read up on it quite a bit, though, as a possible route from Cheliax to Korvosa, but my sister and I decided travel by ship would be much easier. The nation is surrounded by by the Mindspin Mountains to the north and east and the Menador Mountains to the south, so travel into Nidal is difficult by wagon or foot. The Baron who contacted the Association, from what I gleaned, a rather powerful man in the port city of Nisroch, our destination. Most travel into or out of Nidal passes through that city, so we I wouldn't be surprised if he or one of his retainers were waiting at the port for us."

She moved her hand into her pouch and pulled out a small wooden puzzle box. She had solved it long ago, but she always felt calmed when she fiddled with it, pushing the intricate wooden buttons or worrying at the hidden switches. She was honestly surprised it hadn't worn out with as much as she played with it. "As for his daughter, not much is known about her; I couldn't find much in the family genealogies about her. I read that there was a rumor that the Baron of Karpad, one Boroi, married into a western Nidalese family recently, and that sounds like that woman might be the daughter Baron Tiboros. It's just hearsay from what I can gather, but it's the best we have to go on."

Lily finished disassembling the puzzle box and began putting it back together with practiced ease. A hint of bitterness crept into her voice as she continued. "It's just conjecture, but from what it sounds like, this Baron may feel some shame towards his daughter." Grimacing, she paused, the box half constructed in her hands. "It seems to be the most logical conclusion, assuming this mysterious western noblewoman in Karpad is his daughter. I can think of no other reason than shame to marry off one's daughter to a house of lower station in what is, compared to the city of Nisroch, a backwater town." Shaking her head, she resumed her work on the puzzle box.

"Anyway, what I know of Karpad is that it's several days travel north of Pangolais, which is somewhere in central Nidal. Which means it'll be even further travel from Nisroch, I imagine. It's off of a small offshoot of the Usk River called Dimar's Way. We may make our way via river boat, since Nisroch is situated at the mouth of the Usk River where it empties into Nisroch Bay, and then to the Arcadian Ocean."

The last piece of the puzzle box slid into place with a satisfying click, and she held it before her. It was rare that she was allowed to actually provide so much information. Most people would be annoyed by her ramblings, but luckily, Aziq was much like her. They both coveted knowledge for its own sake, and she was sure Aziq would at least appreciate her intel on the next mission's location. She hoped she hadn't bored him, at least.
 
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Old Oct 16th, 2020, 01:22 AM
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Berimus Throamire
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Berimus was excited.

He was always pleased when the lackeys found him, and the missives came. A little spark of joy leapt into his heart, raced earnestly around his body, filling his entire being with the thrill of adventure. This one seemed straight into his 'ballpark', a strange phrase to be sure, but one he had picked up from the locals in Old Korvosa as they charged around the streets playing their foot-the-ball games. Berimus had tried to join in once, the children had even done their best to involve him, but they had ultimately run rings around the clumsy cleric. He thoroughly enjoyed himself nonetheless, as did the children, which only encouraged his awkward antics further; the children there didn't always have much to relish, so why not join them in lifting some spirits?

Staring down at the paper, Berimus' eyes lit up at Urgent. He shot a look at the man who had delivered the message, who merely shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something about "don't know what's inside, mister..." Berimus thanked the messenger courteously and handed him 5 gold pieces, before rushing back into his room to gather his belongings. Closing the door, he changed into his travelling gear. First vest, then robe, then cloak, finally the glasses dangling around his neck on their long string, their red lenses glinting in the candle-light. He grabbed his golden amulet and strung it around his neck also, tucking it in behind his robe. His backpack usually remained packed for the emergency situations, so he grabbed that without further thought and shot off across the city.

As he charged off through the city, he idly thought of the others who might be called for such a task. No doubt he was not the only one, in times gone by parties of 6 or 8 might have been called upon, and 6000 gold was nothing to be turned down hastily. Would it be Thruxtin? The big lovable oaf who nevertheless could cleave you in two with a single swing? Or Aldalgrim-the old halfling who never ceased to crack Berimus up with his wild tales of yesteryear? Liliana and Aziq might be intrigued, their curiosity might be piqued by the strange request. Amanath too might be drawn in by the chance to 'people watch', as he once told Berimus he was doing. The cleric shook his head and smiled at the memory-as soon as Amanath had said that, all Berimus could imagine was the man crouching behind barrels and peering around corners, watching everyday folk going about their business. For all he knew, Berimus could be being studied by Amanath right now, watching his gait, seeing his subtle movements.

If you are watching me old friend, I wonder what you would learn?

Chuckling once again, Berimus strode forward and jumped up in the air and clicked his heels together, like he had seen the children do from time to time. At least, he Acrobatics check 8attempted this strange maneuver-what appeared was more of a twisted, clumsy effort that nearly pushed him into the hay stack he happened to passing. Yet, the optimistic cleric steadied himself and continued on, humming gently to himself. Another face flashed in his mind as Berimus hoped that Jeydavu might show up as well. Knowing him, Berimus couldn't be guaranteed whether the monk would actually make himself present before all danger had passed.

Berimus neared the docks and his mind turned back to the names and places on the list presented. Nisroch... Karpad... Tiboros... Nispad... Karboros... Tisroch... NisborosKarTipadroch... They swirled in his mind, coalescing in strange shapes and patterns as he tried to recall his teachings and study. Were these places of any real significance at all? They must be if they were offering 6,000 gold for "deterimining the health of my daughter and her son". The cleric neared Dock 6 and beamed as he could hear Liliana and Aziq already conversing. Rounding a corner, he called out to the pair wholeheartedly.

"Ah! Aziq, my dear fellow-how goes the tinkering? Good to see you have yet to summon anything that you can't handle. And Liliana, your wise presence here is very welcome. With the two of you, I don't think this errand should take very long at all. Hmmm..." Berimus paused a moment and donned the strange Deathwatch gogglesred-glazed glasses and stared critically at the pair of them. He seemed immediately pleased and radiated a smile as he took them off. "Good to see you both in perfect health! So-what's the news? Have we met our mysterious Horbad Kunlin yet?"

OOCKnowledge rolls:
History check on Nisroch - 22
History check on Karpad: 25
Religion Check on Nisroch: 20
Religion check on Karpad: 10
Nobility on Baron Tiboros: 13
Nobility on Baroness: 17

 
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Old Oct 17th, 2020, 08:13 AM
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Perched on his aerial look out, Jeydavu watched the docks as three of his companions arrived. He had not seen them since they had parted ways a fortnight earlier, each going their own way upon arrival in the city.

Should have known this was a call to all of us, he said, and released a bit of tension with a cleansing breath. The chances of the situation being a trap actually increased inside his mind, but the odds of surviving it increased greater because of his trust in his allies. A smile actually crossed his face, as he watched the Ratfolk engage in an animated conversation with the tiefling.

Those two... he thought with some admiration, as their voices carried his direction in the faint sea breeze. The Oread was not a bright man, and while he had been schooled far more than the average person, he knew he was barely a candle to either one's bonfire when it came to intelligence. Probably already figured out ten plans for us try, and have another dozen ready to go. He trusted their knowledge, like they trusted his aim.

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He looked around, and found a small stone on the roof, probably tossed there by a bored urchin in times past. He held it in his fingers for a moment, and a third figure joined the talking pair.

Berimus, he thought. Good to see you. Jeydavu stretched slowly, and drew back his arm. With a careful toss, he sent the stone arcing through the moist air, to land on the dock and bounce a few times, before slipping off into the water with a plop. It clattered a dozen feet or more behind the trio, and when they peered into the darkness to discern its source, he waved, and nodded, the motion giving away his position, only for a moment.

Then, the Oread stilled himself once more, and nearly disappeared against the roofline.
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Old Oct 17th, 2020, 09:25 AM
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Brazen BrazierLucael lounged among the pillows and silk sheets. He was enjoying some much needed time off reinforcing one of the perceptions people had of him as prone to vice and easily manipulated, while at the same timechecking up on one of Mama's businesses and doing his own self-appointed task. Mr. Fox, the soft and timid voice hesitantly asked into the silence, Mr. Fox are you sure you don't want... she trailed off uncertainly. Lucael looked at the young woman, careful to keep the hand-carved fox mask in place. Always use layers of deception, a sloppy disguise over a comprehensive one will give people the assumed power they are looking for without revealing the deeper truths. The words of his master were always present, which is part of why he came to these establishments. Drink, women, gambling, drugs...all things people might use to try and leverage against him, even the obvious fake name "Mr. Fox" over the carefully cultivated identity of "Lucael" was planted with intention. Focus on the name he only ever gave to one person, and he would know the leak instantly. Mama prized loyalty, and Lu...no, he shook his head Amanath visited these places to check on such things and ensure "the girls" were up to par.

....Mr. Fox...

The voice snapped him to reality and he fully focused on the girl, the literal mask slipping as the figurative one snapped back into place. He looked at her, standing there in just her silk underthings, her hair falling like a folder river over her shoulders, looking so confused....and so young. Her hand went hesitantly to one of her shoulder straps, perhaps trying to anticipate his will. He knew men who demanded such things and it made Amanath's palms itch. Before she had done more than to slide the strap off her shoulder, Amanath was there, one hand gently covering hers and the other turning her chin to his face. My lady, Lucael had a deeper and more resonant voice than Amanath did, slight rasp to the Rs from a cough when he was a boy, you have performed exceedingly well. Not every customer requires the....full suite of services. He let those words linger and his crystaline blue eyes hold her deep green ones before allowing a slight cough to break their contact. Practice the massage techniques I showed you and your small talk with the girls. Save up a small sum and then go see Raleene for the oils, ask for the Fox set and she will know what you need and provide a small discount. He let another cough overtake him, such things were very useful in guiding the length of a conversation, he turned away to don the rest of his clothing, Only give your clients what they need, little one. Once you learn to read that inner desire or to sus it out, you will never work harder than you have to. He finished donning the fitted blacks and settled the cuffs into place giving the command that would change his outfit. He turned back to the girl, And remember what I said, you only need work here for as long as you want. if that desire changes, you are to tell me and you will have assistance to leave. No one should be bound to this work against their will, understand? His words were kind but his tone was commanding and demanding, she would share the story he had impressed upon her, of an average lover who finished quickly and called her by another woman's name. He had cautioned her against too much embellishment but it was to be her first practice. There were others that understood what it meant to "meet Mr. Fox" and would interject if she floundered.

Wiithout another word to her he was out the door and down the back stairs...there for discretionary use when it didn't pay to be seen at a brothel. It also just happened to go by Madame Tulvia's office. A young man's voice was heard being insistent with her and Amanath palmed a small metal tube, tapping it softly against his leg. ...if he is here, the man's voice said insistently seemingly repeating himself. Amanath perked up a bit, someone looking for someone here, and trying to pressure the Madame into giving in, oh Mama would be very please at his next report. He crept up very quietly to listen, I'm sorry son, the weary woman 's voice said, but if they aren't expecting a message I cannot allow you within and if I don't know of such a thing I cannot even tell you if a person is here or not. There was more but Amanath had heard what he needed, and he recognized the voice, one of the association runners, which meant it was for him. Amanath considered making a run for it, they were good, oh yes they were very good, but he had tricks of his own. He was promised a three-day furlough and had barely finished one, they were lucky he had chosen this particular task tonight.

Pulling himself up straight into his most imperious posture, he spoke a word to alter his clothes slightly, darkening the colors, adding metallic thread embroidery, and also cutting sharper lines. He allowed himself a small smile, loving the little toy he had acquired, then threw open the door, She is a LI-, he cut off his words as he entered the small office, taking note of the other presence. He let his tone drip with venom as he turned his head back to the Madame, Seeing clients in the office? Highly unprofessional Madame, besides... he allowed a slightly cruel smile to cross his lips, I thought those days....behind you. He let the words hang in the air until the moment before she found her words once more. Never mind that, I shall need use of your office while I deal with the messenger. She sputtered and Lucael turned his full attention to her, I said. I. Shall. Need. Your. Office. The Madame rose quickly and nodded once to Lucael and shot a pitying glance at the messenger before exiting. Normally, a rant and rage would be more appropriate here, noblility are not generally calm and calculating when defied, but he needed to speak to the messenger and didn't want to play the whole scene out.





Dock Dock GooseIt wasn't long after that Amanath and the messenger were ambling companionable down the streets toward the docks. A quick exchange of pass phrases had proven his identity, and Amanath had had the messenger fetch his cart while he mollified the Madame. Now the boy was pulling it for him while Amanath shared some story or other, he wasn't truly paying attention, just letting the words flow. He generally kept an ear to the ground so he knew who would be available for such a task as he was being given.

Aziq and Liliana would be major assets in a job like this, their knowledge paired with his golden tongue was nearly un beatable. Amanath chuckled to himself since they were also some of his teachers of tongues, he'd been meaning to work on a new one, but being regularly pulled in many directions meant his time was precious. Then of course you had Berimus, always good to have a clergyman around as their powers were invaluable, though this one was more....preachy.....than Amanath cared for. But no problem there, unlike with the final member who would likely be called to this endeavor. It was rare for Amanath not to get on with someone, even more rare for him not to be able to win them over after a few meetings, but Jeydavu had remained...well like a stone. Aziq and Liliana had assured him Jeydavu just took time to warm up, even Berimus said as much, but for some reason, he and Jeydavu didn't have more than a professional relationship. In a way it was his most honest relationship, as they watched each other closely and kept each other on their toes. And they worked well together. Amanath fairly danced in front of the enemies and Jeydavu was almost supernaturally skilled with that bow, there was respect, but not friendship.

Amanath stopped suddenly and smiled broadly. Continue on to the docks boy. There will be four...no three people bunched up and talking companionably, tell them you are delivering the cart as hired and then you are done for the night. Amanath flicked a coin at the boy for his extra work and disappeared into the shadows. The moment he was out of sight he relaxed in a way that few others could ever understand, collapsing into a tiny pile of fur and bounding off. The tiny fox nimbly ran through the side streets toward the dock, scenting the many things he missed when he was merely a man, and enjoying the simplicity of it. He caught scent of all four of the ones he was expecting and took care to not draw attention, watching them for a bit, the cart was there as he had requested and the three were almost right where he assumed. If took a few minutes of sniffing around but he found Jeydavu's perch too, once more Amanath was impressed with his skills, knowing that is was only the fox's scent that gave him the edge here.

Moving over a couple streets Amanath watched for a person coming from his group's direction, spying a dock guard he studied the man for a minute before flexing that muscle within and pushing his body into a mirror of the guard's. A few mummered words tweaked his outfit to match and he took a few practice steps, getting the gait right. If there was more time he would have gotten the guard to talk a bit to get his voice just right but there was a time limit here and he was pushing what the group would be comfortable with already. So he strode back the way the guard had come, adding in a little whistle. He tossed a cursory "good evening" at the trio and walked a bit past before stopping abruptly. He wandered over to the cart itself and grabbed it up to begin walking away with it. Curious how they will react to this...

 
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Last edited by Scimmy; Oct 17th, 2020 at 09:27 AM.
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Old Oct 19th, 2020, 12:55 AM
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Berimus Throamire
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While Berimus waited for the others to enlighten him on the events thus far, his mind ticked. This would not have caused him any consternation, except that the ticking suddenly became louder, as if his thoughts were escaping his mind.

Tick... tick.. tick. ti-ti-t-SPLOOSH!

That wasn't right, his mind had never quite done that before. Snapping out of his reverie, he saw the ripple in the water, and glimpsed Jeydavu's stony wave up on the rooftop behind him. Berimus cocked his head to one side, smiled and waved. "Ah-a stone, of course! A game, is it?" The cleric had no idea what Jeydavu was playing at, but he would humor the fierce archer for a moment. Looking around, he spotted another small rock and picked it up, feeling the weight carefully in his hand. Berimus wasn't a good shot, but he thought he would give it a go anyway. He held the stone between his fingers and wound his arm up, sighting up to the rooftop high above him. "No harm in trying, right?" Taking a few steps, he flung the stone high into the air, watching with pride as it sailed far above Jeydavu's head and over onto the street behind.

There was a sharp *TACK* in the distance and a muffled yelp, and immediately Berimus looked sheepish. He called out into the night, unaware of what he had hit. "Err... Sorry! Just a bit of fun!" Berimus watched as a boy suddenly rounded the corner near where he had thrown the stone, pushing a small cart. The boy seemed unperturbed, Berimus hoped that it was not this stranger who had been frightened half-to-death by a stone from the skies, and the cleric greeted the boy as he arrived in front of the three of them.

"Hello, boy! Did you have a pleasant trip over here, from wherever you came from? No omens or messages from the gods in the shape of... errm... a stone or chip? What have you got here then, hmmm?" When the boy offered no real answer, except that he was paid to bring the cart here, Berimus sighed and began inspecting the cart. The boy ran off and a guard wandered along past the group, causing Berimus to stiffen slightly again. Berimus had never even heard of poker, let alone perfected his poker face. "Good evening there, sir! Pay no mind to us, we are just taking a moment to enjoy the salty air. I did hear some shouting down the alleyway over there, though it has stopped now, likely nothing of real portent. What are you doing with that cart? It just arrived, yet now you take it away? Curiouser and curiouser.. Aziq? Liliana? What do you make of this?"



 
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Old Oct 19th, 2020, 06:52 PM
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Lily nodded to Berimus. "Good morning, Berimus. I was just letting Aziq know of my studies of our destination. I think you in particular might find them of note." She was interrupted by the skittering of a rock, and subsequent light splish into the harbor. She glanced up at the waving oread along with the cleric. She waved again, and smirked when Berimus clumsily replied with his own tossed pebble.

A young boy rounded the corner, nonplussed at the motley group of people gathered around the pier, and Berimus tried (poorly) to play his antics as a sign from the gods. It was all good natured of course. Berimus didn't have a duplicitous bone in his body, at least as far as Lily could tell. Not like Amanath. That one was a mischievous trickster. I do wonder when he'll arive. No telling where he is at this hour. Could be anywhere in this metropolis, to be honest. I've heard his stories of romping around in Old Korvosa, and sneaking into the castle... I'm surprised he hasn't gotten himself into more trouble than he has. The boy deposited the cart and hustled off, probably to get some sleep. She was about to continue her lecture on Nidalese politics and geography when a guard shuffled around the corner from another direction and moved to pick up the cart. He began to trundle away with it.

"If I were to guess, I'd say it's cargo for one of the ships, Berimus, but I don't have enough evidence to say one way or the other. The oddity of the situation is that a guard would be helping to load cargo instead of one of the deckhands. I have my suspicions, but they would only be conjecture." She brushed a strand of hair behind her ear and looked up pensively. "Though that cart does seems oddly familiar..."
 
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Old Oct 20th, 2020, 12:57 AM
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Aziq
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Aziq listens with great interest to Lily's history/geography/social studies lesson, enjoying the opportunity to play student to her teacher. It occurs to him that he could have spent some time before he left the College researching the subject of their mission...but that's the advantage of working as a team. Besides, he thinks as he wipes a crumb from the side of his mouth, this Mahktasha was well worth the detour...

"Berimus, good evening!" He stiffens his back and puffs out his chest as the Cleric performs his examination. "Sit with us...we still have a few minutes before our presence is required." Moments later the still of the night is broken by the tap..tap...splash! of a tossed stone. The projectile had come from behind Aziq, but he need not turn to look; Berimus' response was enough to announce the presence of Jeydavu. No doubt their earthy friend had found a quiet perch somewhere from which he could assess the situation.

Liliana, Berimus Jeydavu...there was one name conspicuously absent from the list. Where is their kitsune friend? Knowing Amanath, he could be anywhere - or anyone. Indeed, when a boy turns up pushing a cart just a few moments later, Aziq is certain he is the 'missing' member of their party...but his first assumption seems to be faulty, as the boy departs as quickly as he had appeared. His next, however, he felt much more confident in.

"Ho there!" he calls out to the guard, currently beginning to make off with the recently deposited cart. "Where are you taking that? Does it belong to you?"


 


 
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Old Oct 20th, 2020, 02:58 AM
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Skin DeepCale....no Cael....hmmm Cazler, yeah and his friends call him Caz. Amanath was whipping together a quick backstory for this guard. See that's what most people forgot when dealing with disguises, the reason you make the choices you do. Take Cazler here, he was working the night shift on the docks because his wife passed away a few years ago and left him with their young daughter. Tutors and dresses weren't cheap but he also couldn't just leave her alone during the day hours. Guard work was relatively easy and it allowed situations like this, where you can take a little extra on the side for 'extra services' and he still had the daylight hours with his daughter. Hmm what would her name be, probably something with an 'L' named for her mother's mother...

Cazler's ruminations were interrupted by the motley crew interjecting, interrupting a hardworking guard just doing his job. Cazler stopped and focused on the trio, eyes going to each one, studying them and a light of recognition enters them. He opens his mouth to say something but suddenly bends over coughing. They are loud wracking coughs and he spits a gob of phlegm out when he was finished. Can't shake that damn cough, maybe this job will be enough to hire a physician, but Lanira so wanted that little music box... His voice is raspy when he speaks, Apologies, I was so focused on fetching the cart I missed you all. He tugs a rolled bit of parchment out and shows the now broken guild seal. This came about an hour or so ago, some smooth talkin, firey headed, prick tossed it at me with some coins and barely paused. It said I would meet four of your here, we seem to be missing the, he paused as if recalling the exact wording, the sour-faced bow nut with less humor than a stone. The guard tucks the paper away and looks around squinting again.

So no uh.....uh....Bearface and ummmm......Azar I think? No, this here cart ain't mine but I was paid to bring it aboard and to tell you lot to hurry up about it if you were waiting. With that he pushes the cart around the trio and, clearing his throat, begins walking with a tired but measured pace toward the boat. Knowing them, they probably suspect, but that's the trouble with working with others, for the added support and versatility, they have to be let in to some of your capabilities. He smiled as he remembered the day he had spent with Liliana and Aziq pretending to be Berimus. He'd learned a lot about them that day, and their heightened sense had proved an extra challenge. The perfumery had been an inspired choice he thought. Berimus was generally a happy and inquisitive person so 'his' excitement at the new shop was an easy sell. The thought lightened his step just slightly and he whistled a bit, dry and airy from soo much cool air, and the tune half-hearted. He couldn't stop his fingers from lightly drumming as he walked and tried to time his steps to be deliberately asynchronous with his whistling or drumming.


 
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Old Oct 23rd, 2020, 12:32 AM
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No Rest
Korvosa Port
Location: Korvosa, Varisia
Time: Wealday, 24 Rova, 4714 AR

Killing Time

Even the fairly low tones of the small gathering stood out against the soft rocking of the moored vessels and the lapping of the small waves against the pilings. The hustle and bustle of Korvosa’s daytime activity was long forgotten, and what few remnants of the city’s drunkards had no business near the sea. The crews of the ships all slumbered in their bunks or within the welcoming walls of the inns scattered about. All, that is, except one keelboat. Glowstones set at regular intervals throughout the dock cast a soft luminescence through the thick mist that sat like a blanket on the surface, but torches clustered on the deck of that one boat, and crewmen could be seen crossing back and forth from bow to stern and climbing up the mast to make sure the rigging was just proper.

Into the quiet of the night, a pair of watchmen rounded a corner, lit torches in hand and hands on the hilts of their sheathed swords. Rapidly, they approached the small knot of adventurers, the shorter calling out in a timbre that suggested something of femininity, "An odd time to be loitering about, if I do say." The two stopped a short distance away from the suspicious individuals, their weapons remaining at their sides. "If you have business in the docks, be about it. I can’t have folk in the port without a purpose at this hour. You can understand why, I trust." The speaker gestured with her head toward the hand at her side, a confident gleam in her eyes as she looked back at the trespassers. "It would be a pity if I had to clean my blade tonight, wouldn’t it?"

Before the circumstances could devolve any further, a new voice cut through the fog, and a figure leaned over the railing of the keelboat that seemed to still be full of activity. A gruff, scarred man’s face appeared, barking at the guards. "Hey! Are those my passengers? You'd better not be stirring up trouble with my fare. We don't want to fill out extra forms now, do we?Oi! Oi! Are them me passengers, eh? Yer'd better not be stirrin' up firbolg stubble wiv me fare. We don't want ter fill out extra forms now, do we?" Shaking his head with exasperation, he added, "It's strange business to be leaving port at this sort of hour, but I have permission from the dockmaster himself. Must be something important.It's strange business ter be leavin' port at this sort of 'our, but I 'ave permission from the bleedin' dockmaster 'imself. Must be sumfink important." The menace in the voice elicited a swift response from the threatening guards as their hands left their swords and their stances softened up.

"N-n-no, sir, captain, sir!" the young woman managed to stammer, shaking her head violently before turning back to the victims of her insinuations. "My apologies, sirs and madam. Welcome to the port of Korvosa, and please accept my wishes for a safe voyage." Bowing their heads politely, the guards shuffled their feet awkwardly, then beat a hasty retreat, looking to avoid the irate captain.

Once the watchmen had disappeared, the voice rang out again, this time without quite as much edge to it. "You're the agents I was told to transport to Nisroch? Best get aboard quickly so we can set sail. The men are champing at the bit.Yor the bloody agents I were told ter transport ter Nisroch, isit? Best get aboard quickly so we can set sail. The men are champin' at the bit." The misty face faded behind the railing for a few seconds, then quickly reappeared, an arm joining to point along the docks to the boarding ramp for the vessel. "Where are my manners? I'm Captain Gershakh Thatcher of the Selkie's Plea. If your masters want you in Nisroch, you won't find a faster crew.Where are me manners, then, mates? I'm bloody well Captain Gershakh Thatcher of the Selkie's Plea. If yor masters want yer in Nisroch, right, yer won't find a faster crew." A flash of teeth made a brief appearance, then the captain pulled himself back to prepare for the arrival of the passengers.

OOCAny further actions at the port are welcome at this time. I will post again once everyone is aboard the Selkie's Plea, and my next update will montage the entire voyage to Nisroch to save much wasted time. Feel free to interact with Captain Thatcher if you wish.

Last edited by Ziether; Nov 7th, 2020 at 01:00 AM.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2020, 07:59 AM
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Upon the arrival of the ship, and the standing down of the two guards, the Oread unfolded himself, and climbed down from the shanty roof, to join the others. They had already boarded, but spent a few moments talking with the ship's captain to give him time to make his way across the wharf. He slipped his bow across his back, and took a deep breath.

Jeydavu glanced around, and counted. "Just us four?" he asked as he arrived at the smaller transport boat where Berimus, Lilli and Aziq were stalling. "No trickster?"

The monk turned to scan the docks again, his eyes settling on the fifth figure there, the other nightwatch/dock guard. "Unless you crave adventure, sir?"
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