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  #271  
Old Feb 13th, 2021, 11:44 AM
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Two Chiefs One Lizard One Tiefling
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Your strategy of plain, direct speech works well with Karghazz. He seems to respect your openness and returns it with his own.

"We don't know where the dragon's eggs are. They are not here. Cryovain does not speak of it. We pray for the day when he will be returned to health, to rise again, and paint the skies with the blood of our enemies. His demonstration in dispatching the borcs has inspired us to believe this will be soon."

He takes a deep ecstatic breath.

"We lost many in the battle. Before we knew the extent of the danger, many lizards dropped and died. Fortunately many of our mounts were out with hunting parties, and the borcs were not able to reach the hatchlings before the dragon responded. But our mouths are sour with the taste of death. We must rebuild now."

He goes on to explain that most troglodyte tribes worship a toad god called Laogzed, who is basically a symbol of gluttony and wanton destruction. This tribe does worship him too, as Cryovain is kind of a recent ally/acquisition. You get the impression that troglodytes in general revere dragons as greater lizards, and that this tribe and sees their association and care of Cryovain as something that really elevates them. Karghazz has allowed them to see him as a god, and swear their allegiance. Laogzed doesn't seem to mind or pay any attention to them anyway. A few feasts and massacres here and there and he's happy.

"Of course you may meet Ahbahlock," says the chief, extending his scepter toward the giant lizard. "His name means Hunger of Hunters. He is my personal mount."

Hunger of Hunters lifts his head with extreme nobleness when his name is said, and he accepts some shoulder pats and neck scritches with even more nobility, only betraying his enjoyment of the attention with a very slight tilt of his head. Coming close to touch him, you realize he is so freaking big.

The chief accepts your sending stone and slides it into a pouch on his belt. He agrees that his people will not harm yours, and asks that you establish a sign of some kind that he can teach to his people, so they won't be alarmed when you or your allies come back.
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  #272  
Old Feb 13th, 2021, 12:59 PM
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Fioravanti has a crafty and terrible Father. She believes in three step authentication.

My people will wear purple cords tied around their upper arm, left side. But, do not trust this alone. It can easily be copied or noticed. If you make this hand signal (she does a fast transition from “rock” to “paper”) they will know to make this one back (a fast transition from “scissors” to “spock” to “lizard”). Last, if they do these things, but still you worry it is a trick of the Spider or feels wrong, you can ask for a third sign. My people will know to draw this symbol on your palm with a finger.

She traces Quam into his hand, a draconic letter that she knows because a boy she sometimes ran with in Vallos had a Quam tattoo; his great grandma had apparently been “part dragon-kin.” Mm-hm. He was cute, though, and could always get a table at this elodrin-run restaurant with insanely good veal shank.

Her ears perk at the hunting parties out on “MOUNTS” news.

Ahbahlock is very, very beautiful and clearly strong and loyal. My lifestyle is too dangerous for horses. A trio of riding lizards would be worth a lot to me and my officers. We would value and treasure such mounts and treat them with all dignity. Would you trade for three? She is not sure what their currency might be, or if they HAVE currency, but surely they have trade? An idea sparks. Is there a service I might do for you? The undead in the Dwarven temple, for example. Do they ever leak out and trouble you? I could fix this for you.

Mormesk is on her To Gack list anyway, and now that this ANTI-FATHER DRAGON BUTTON ALLIANCE is in place, a wraith is not needed to secure the forge. She means to duck back in and deal with him as soon as she gets Nundro (and Gundren and the wolves and humans, if they have survived) safely out.

She really likes these lizards, horrifying gods aside. They are frail, though. Kidneys very near the surface, Ripper said, which might account for smell...) As Forge Securers, they are only valuable as long as they have their giant white winged icy-breathed OH SHAT button. Once Cryovain is fully well, she doubts he will be content to stay here and be a lizard god.

But that is GOOD. Because she might have to deal with him, which would wreck things with her new allies; her slippery liar’s heart says, Wellllll just do not kill the dragon anywhere near HERE! HAMUN KOST him, far from this place, and never ever tell them!

She wants to stay at peace with lizards. More to THEIR benefit than hers, long term, as they are frail without their dragon. Right now, having this evil dragon in residence is wonderful, since those who can call him hate Borcs and other Spider pets and are at peace with her and hers. She really only needs DRAGON BUTTON in place until she comes to some kind of...

Resolution

with Father. Best not to think of what that might look like or entail. Patricide and its adjacent options are hard to consider. KILL LEGS! NO MORAL AMBIGUITY THERE!

She asks Karghazz if he knows if Cryovain was able to reach the upper chambers. If not, she needs to go clean that out, now, and carve a path to the entrance while Nundro is safely invisible.

 


 


 

Last edited by Fillyjonk; Feb 13th, 2021 at 01:28 PM.
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  #273  
Old Feb 14th, 2021, 03:42 PM
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Two Chiefs One Lizard One Tiefling
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Karghazz says that the dragon didn't go up past this level. In fact he didn't even fully come out into the Glitterhame. The lizards drew the borcs out into the big chamber, at great cost to their numbers, but to protect the hatchlings. Then when the dragon came he just stuck most of himself through that passage that is now a gaping hole, annihilated the borcs that were killing the lizards, and then went back down.

You tell him about the Dwarven Temple and about the undead threat there. You get the sense that he hasn't traveled beyond that passworded door at all, but he has some inkling about what's back there. At least a mine and a forge, if not a magical forge like the Forge of Spells.

Karghazz is very formal, but his lip twitches the tiniest bit when you say you can clear this dungeon out for him. "In this world," he tells you. "There is no clean dungeon. There is a dungeon occupied by your allies, a dungeon occupied by your enemies, or a dungeon occupied by allies or enemies you have not yet met. Even a dungeon that's been purged of sentient life will be found and inhabited by monsters. The Underdark, with all of its denizens, is a constant threat. Life breeds everywhere it finds an empty space."

He thinks that clearing out the undead and having live dwarves moving in and out would be a boon in a way, if the occupants respect the lizards' ways and boundaries. He doesn't seem to feel like this will be possible for too long, though.

"I only ask that you give me warning, when you intend to restore the mine and the forge. If you do me this courtesy, I will set aside three mounts for you personally. We are still recovering from the massacre we suffered. We may need all we have at this time. But--" he pats his pouch with the Sending Stone in it. "We will be in touch."

He stands up and asks if you would like to see where the dragon lives, which he said he has seen twice, and lived. It involves going down "the Sinkhole" and visiting what he calls a "white lake." He would be willing to go there with you if you want. Or he will show you (you already know this) where their exit tunnel is that bypasses the upper level. Or you can make your way up to the levels above if that's your intent.
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  #274  
Old Feb 14th, 2021, 06:11 PM
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Agreed. I would appreciate the riding lizards when you can spare them. I do believe the mine and the forge will reopen. I’m not sure how much control I will have. Many besides me, quite powerful and organized, find those ruins to be--- she smiles. Sacred. The toothy pragmatist who made the dragon into a god for his people understands this is a euphemism.

She points at him and messages, smiling, cognizant of Nundro’s ears. If I have my way, the person who will be in charge of the mine is not a dwarf. She is a flexible and canny leader. If she said to the miners there would be peace with lizards...well... she is one that people do not care to cross.

Understatement, she thinks, remembering the lack of a Lemon Sticker at the Miner’s Exchange. She thought it was because Halia was Spider’s and a Glass Staff ally. Really it was just that Halia is a bad arse.

Out loud she says, As you say, nature abhors a vacuum. If you leave, something else will come. I will warn you if I know a dangerous faction is moving in on this place, so you can go. In return, tell me who comes here, and tell me if they trouble you. Some dogs I can call off, some dogs I can kill, and of course some things are beyond my powers. For now, I am going to use the recent dragon attack to keep as many factions away as I can, so you have time to regroup.

I would very much like to see the Pale Mer, but the Borcs have allies, one level up. They might want revenge upon you, and they have captured some of my people. I go now to rectify this situation via slaughter.
She smiles again and offers a little evil god humor: I understand Laogzed enjoys such things, so perhaps tell him to pay attention. If I have time, I will come back and accept your kind offer to see this secret place.

Halia Thornton will want to be neck deep in whatever happens here, and frankly? She greatly prefers Halia’s neutrality and opportunism to Gundren’s blustering and prideful stompings. He is NOT flexible, and would be an absolute shirt about these lizards.

But if she does give Halia a toehold here, Halia will have the place crawling with Zhenterim. Not great. There has to be a way to balance that? Perhaps the answer is Halia AND. Like the Aldelver’s pact. Balancing forces. Halia and...

It comes to her, and it is simple and perfect.

Halia and a Harper. That’s who should run this place! Not her nun, though. Someone cannier. A match. A chess player. Zhents to accumulate, Harpers to disperse. Two sides of the same coin. A balance.

Garaele and Daz have BOTH told her she must find a higher up Harper to progress! Yes! THIS IS HER PLAN. Perhaps the lizards will decide to move on. Too much civilization. That is up to them. But they won’t be killed or harmed if she can help it, and HALIA + A HARPER in charge here is how to do this!

While she is thinking of it, she messages Daz. They are not on the same trajectory anymore, and she needs the other half of her sending stone pair. Friend, can you send or leave the second sending stone for me at Stonehill Inn, soon as you can? I have great need of it.

They head up the way they came down, where that Shaman was, mindful of the STINGIES. They are the stingiest. Marigold will try the Grick Whistle should any attack.

Fioravanti is still thinking of the lizards, though. She really, really likes them, especially their leader, Khargazz, though they are monsters. And therefore “bad.”

Maybe she is bad? She has always assumed she was a good person because Nan told her she was. And Nan is good. And what she said to Halia about why she is a Watcher and not a Fang is absolutely true: she cannot abide a foot on a throat. Injustice, big powers rolling over little Pells and Pips, Cragmaw monsters burning smithies, kidnapped girls meant to be murdered for theatre to scare her, Father using up dwarves as if they were disposable handkerchiefs! Unendurable.

She will go knives out against that every time. She almost can’t help it. It is what she sees here: Borcs picking on lizards, going after HATCHLINGS. Nope. They deserved every drop of the dragonning they got, and she feels bad about starting the war in the first place.

But more and more, the things she truly feels herself in kinship with are things that some people---that most people---that good people---call evil.

Da, for example. She really likes Da. (WELL, WHO WOULD NOT! THE COOKIES!) And Halia, although Halia has always struck her as more neutral than evil. The Fae---gods she adores them, and they are not kind.

Now these lizards. What are they doing? Hunt eat sleep egg. Protect hatchlings, kill borcs, be affectionate to noble riding animals. This is a village, not an army.

Perhaps it is lawfulness that chafes her; the Lord’s Alliance strikes her as a buncha uptight prigs. But no, Da is lawful. Anya, too. She likes them. It simply isn’t simple. She likes what and who she likes.

So, she can’t define her moral center; does it matter? She believes she has one. She knows a violation when she sees it. She is an agent of chaos, so goodness, her idea of it, is very flexible.

Situational ethics are still ethics, kinda, right? Well, whatever. She likes Lizards.

She can’t really say the same about Many Arrows. Any of them. They head up, followed by the watery outline of Nundro she can see because she touched him.

 


 


 

Last edited by Fillyjonk; Feb 14th, 2021 at 06:55 PM.
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  #275  
Old Feb 15th, 2021, 11:43 AM
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Back on the First LevelYou head up the stairs cautiously, mindful of the stirges and such, and keeping it dark for stealth purposes. But up above, as you go up, you start to see the flicker of torchlight and the murmur of voices. Familiar voices. As your head rises above the ground level, you tip over slowly, assessing what's up there, and seeing feet. Human feet? You take one more step up, and you see, manspreading in a camp chair, a battered Halia Thornton.

There are a few others with her, sipping from waterskins, bandaging each other, resting in corners. Townsfolk, Sildar, Sister Garaele.

Halia jumps up with a big grin and gives you a hand as you come up the stairs, pulls you into a tight, one-arm hug. "Well look who decided to survive The Black Spider." When she releases you, she casually keeps your hand.

"I know I should have texted you, but we were just resting up and getting ready to come downstairs to find you. I wanted it to be a surprise. Lavinia and I... we just couldn't sit back in Alfriston and wait. So we came on over, collected Sildar and Daran. They had already taken out a significant number of guards, so we came on through."

She points down the tunnel that had been blocked, and is now cleared away. The door to the shaman's room is propped open, and there are torches blazing everywhere.

"Everything orcish is dead. Some bugbears too. I am really glad to see you."

Sister Garaele intercepts, hugs you warmly with both arms, and then Marigold and Ripper. Sildar is there too, but no Daran Edermath, and no dwarf. Halia sees you looking and pulls you aside where you can speak privately. "We did have some casualties and there were some tough battles. Daran fell. And your friend Gundren is dead. I'm sorry."


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  #276  
Old Feb 15th, 2021, 01:41 PM
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The first thing she thinks is, Who the fork is Lavinia? but of course Halia means Sister Garaele. She hugs the nun very tight and whispers in her ear, Lucky me, to have such friends.

If Nundro hasn’t thought to be visible, she reminds him, and she introduces him around, and offers sincere condolences. She and Marigold exchange a glance that seals between them forever the memory of letting orcs put Gundren in that cage. She is sad, but not apologetic. She thinks, If we hadn’t, Nundro would be dead and Marigold and Rips and me. Spider can eat the bill on this one.

It is easier to send bills to a drow named Spider than a person who is your father.

She hopes someone released the wolves into the wild. If they are still locked up, she will go let them out to be wild wolves, and Rips will handle the negotiations on that. If they were killed, she is sorry for it, but better Vak than “Lavinia.”

Mostly, she is deeply relieved and heartened and horrified to find herself so publicly, dreadfully, sincerely moved. They came for her. Every fighter in Alfriston. She looks for Grishta and goes to shake her hand. She claps Sildar gratefully on the shoulder. She finds Butter, Caitlyn, Madison---all those savage girls that are now the town’s militia, and bumps her shoulder into theirs.

She is having terrible surges of conflicting emotions about loss and belonging; Gundren and Daran, dead, because she is part of a town. She has a house and friends. They know her. These people rallied and came to get a tiefling.

She doesn’t care to have emotions publicly, so she distracts herself by trying to steal Halia’s cigarette case out of her shoulder bag, 17 sleight of handfirst to see if she can, and if not, then to see if Halia will let her. She busies herself with the minutia of thievery and smoking, trying to keep her stupid feelings off her stupid face.

Rips makes it worse. He looks to her, a little desperately; he knows she’s cagey about him, but his time is up. He gets very eyebrows at her, like a desperate-superman-with-no-phone-booth, but she waves it away, smiling, absolutely refusing to tear up, no matter how thick her throat feels. If these people are going to come down into orc-hell and fight for him and lose their lives, well, shiz, she can stop being so untrusting of their reactions to her Fae'd-up, weird-as-hell, talking-dog-with-a-pet-Squirrelock best friend.

It’s okay, Mr. Sleeves. We live here. They’ll get used to you. They have apparently gotten used to a girl from hell. Ripper is instantly easy once he sees she is. He dogs.

She turns to Sildar. What’s the plan town manager? I’d prefer not to stay here. Spider has another force of orcs at the shrine. He could send them. But I have an alarm system in place, if that happens. We can talk about that and what to do now on the way home? I have a lot to tell you.

And even more to tell you, she messages, stealth, pointing a casual cigarette Halia’s way. She is absolutely angling for an invitation. She is curious---fascinated even---to see inside the fortress of Zhentitude. Halia has impeccable taste (well, her tailor does), and yet Fioravanti has always imagined the inside of the house by Miner’s Exchange as dim, dingy, overcrowded with heavy walnut furniture, full of traps and hidden weapons, with dark paneling and ancient, gritty black-out curtains. In her head, rows of stern-faced portraits, all of questionable origin, all in massive gilt frames, stare viciously down from the walls with those kind of oily eyes that follow you everywhere.

Unless Sildar has some sort of plan to stay here and try to keep this cave secure with the Spider still loose (like a crazy person), then as soon as they are ready to clear out, she sending stones Khargazz: My friends came. Caves clear of BORC allies. Much orc meat available. Come get once we are gone. Keep me apprised if more (b)orcs come.

 


 


 

Last edited by Fillyjonk; Feb 15th, 2021 at 08:38 PM.
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  #277  
Old Feb 16th, 2021, 11:03 PM
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Wave Tree Forge of AftermathSolemn celebrations and reverent handshakes all around. It is a massive thing that has happened here. A serious enemy vanquished, a hugely valuable asset acquired, and terrible cruelty stopped. After your efforts at the Shrine of Savras and here, the Many Arrows orc tribe is broken in this region. The Cragmaw Clan is in tatters too, with these bugbears the last of the goblinoids to stretch their green fingers around the travelers and travelers' pouches around Alfriston. Much has changed for the people of this little town, rocking on the front porch of the war, forgotten by the kingdom, beset with so many dangers. It's a serious thing to lose allies, brothers, friends. But their deaths were valued. Everyone knows it was worth the cost.

The wolves have already been set free. This level has been looted, with the former adventurers and the girls of the militia kicking their way through the enemies and the other townsfolk coming behind to pick up treasure, clean, and sort things out. When Ripper turns back into a dog they are surprised but fine with it. They know of werewolves but they also know Reidoth, this tracks to them as druid stuff, and the fact that his origin was a bugbear's wolf is something that can go in the stories he'll tell. It's amazing but not off-putting. It's something they'll be proud to write to their cousins in Triboar about, or talk over around the hearths in Alfriston. The tiefling, the wolf man, and little Marigold, who beat the Spider.

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Halia says that of course you're going to stay with her. Marigold will go back to Qeline's and "sleep for five hundred days." You text Karghazz that you're leaving the caverns to his supervision. He texts you back that while his numbers are depleted he will do his best to keep a patrol on all parts of both levels of Wave Echo Cave, and give you a daily report. You and Sildar walk-and-talk back through the cave out to the entrance, and cross the rope bridge that you first traversed, polymorphed into orc bodies, when this place was crawling with baddies, and The Black Spider was still an unknown, down below somewhere, picking away at unlocking the Forge of Spells.

When you come to the part about the lizards having their own exit tunnel, Sildar perks up and asks if you guys can just locate that, before you go back, so that the town militia, which is going to patrol out here, will know where it is. Why not? Most of the folks go back to town, but you, Ripper, Sildar, and Halia head around the back of the mountain. You're still very high up. The Meriabrand mountains stretch off to the east, some in snowy peaks. You can see the little valley where Alfriston is. The air up here tastes clean and perfect, such a relief after being down in the tunnels. You march along, kind of on autopilot, with Sildar on one side and Halia on the other, Ripper ranging out in front over the rough grasses, peeing on clumps of rock, panting, sniffing out marmots. As you come around to the north side you see high greenway, scrubby and sparse, like an alpine meadow. There you locate the egress of the lizards' tunnel. You reckon from where it comes out up here, and how far down it was down there, it's a long tunnel with a lot of climbing.

In the meadow is a lake, and before you turn back and head to Alfriston you just look at the lake for a minute, the setting sun glinting off it. Halia and Sildar are silent, even Ripper takes a seat, and you sigh, thinking about this big world and your place in it. A breeze ripples the water and a raptor circles high above. As you watch the glassy surface turn to tiny ridges in the wind, without warning, you see the surface of the lake broken by a -- spear? a stalagmite sticking up through the water? No, it moves. It's the white spike of a dragon's head, then neck, then with a huge bulge rising in the water and then a massive splash the wings of the dragon erupt from the surface of the lake. It takes flight, dripping sheets and rivers of water off it, and flapping its wings hard, climbing high up in the sky. It turns, wheels past you. Sildar and Halia are frozen in shock. Ripper stands stock still. The dragon screams and flies away, up north toward the snowy peaks.
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  #278  
Old Feb 17th, 2021, 06:50 AM
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They watch until Cryovain is very, very distant, not even a speck. She is quiet. Big-eyed, even after it’s completely clear he is not going to wheel back around and finish them.

That’s twice, Ripper says.

Hunting, but not hunting us? she asks. Dogs can’t really shrug, but what he does is not unlike a shrug. Whatever the reason, Cryovain is gone, and she looks at Halia and Sildar and starts laughing, just peals of it, happy to be breathing. You start to think you’re big stuff. And then. She grins up at the blank sky where the dragon disappeared, giddy.

A piece of her is and will be forever wretchedly sorry about Gundren, the cage, his brother, Daran, finding Father hiding under Spider. But she is young and alive and so is her excellent dog and her lunatic Id-Hin and her cleric is healed for now and the orcs are gone and the air is clean and sweet and the little town she loves is safer and someone lovely let the wolves go free instead of killing them (was her uncle here?) and the dragon didn’t eat them; this is the good stuff that she came galloping into the world to do. Let’s go home. My dog wants to check on his squirrel.

She got Woe and Anya’s elven cloak and Halia’s last dagger back from Marigold before the Hin bugged out. Marigold made an, Oh Rats, You Remembered face, but she knew they were borrowed, and she's pleased with her Ogre gloves. She headed to Qeline’s fully intending to arm-wrestle Carp into humiliation, but that good-natured little object will ruin it by simply being happy to hold her hand. Fioravanti is sorry to miss Marigold’s response to that.

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As they go, she passes Patience back to Halia, saying, Thank you for the loan. But you don’t seem to be quite through with these, after all. I really like the whole--- she waves a hand at the now familiar black ensemble.

She chats with Sildar about anything he wants to discuss, but as they talk, she is playing with Vyerith’s little copper wire---such a lovely way to remember he is still dead!--- and some things she says only to Halia.

Tymora, if only my bathhouse was ready. I smell like dead bugbear and trog-kidneys.

---and Vyerith-poo. He’s dead, did you see? I think killing him is one of those sweet little things, like Bergamot scented candles, that is always going to please me.

The second we are back, I’m going to hurl huge clinking fistfuls of money at Trilena for the kind of neck-deep bath where her girls run up and down the stairs with pot after pot of ever hotter water until I boil off all my blue.

Halia! It just occurred to me---I don’t suppose that you have plumbing? If you do, and if I'd known, believe me, I would been much nicer to you sooner. Maybe I shouldn’t stay with you. I come with 174 pounds of dog who believes it’s his inalienable right to sleep in the middle of my bed or on Anya’s feet, and she went ahead to Vallos. Also, there’s a fair possibility a huge-arse cat from hell will planewalk in to see me five minutes after I’m asleep and do you want that in your hou—oh, shiz, sec I think he’s going roll in tha--- RIPPER! COME ON! --- Aaaaanyway. I’ll come to dinner, if you’ll have me. I have three things to ask you and two things to show you and a business proposition and some things I need to disappear including that forking hell-bow that killed us both and and I have to go to Vallos tomorrow and, well, I want to see you.

She has a lot to do in town while there is daylight left. There is information she must get pre-Vallos from both Sister G and Qeline (Reidoth would be better, if he's around) and she wants to talk to Trilena. Then she will circle back to Halia. Who is being annex-y and creepy and disconcertingly delightful.

Perhaps all Zhents are delightful when they get exactly what they want. Halia is going to have her hands so deep in the reopened mine she’ll disappear up the shoulder. Fine, if she doesn’t cut out Nundro. Or maybe it is just being ten years younger. And not dead or in hell. And victorious in battle. Halia has had a good day. Fioravanti should let her enjoy it.

But she doesn’t know what to do with a Halia who is being straight up nice. It’s damned unsettling. And she cannot fully relax until she counters Halia’s encroaching response from when Fiora outed Derball Pooit as the Spider. Halia said: Will pass this information on to our superiors. Our?

It’s been chafing at her, though she’s not mad. Anymore. If you give a Zhent a secret, she’s going to want your signature in blood on her Zhent-recruitment roster to go with it. A part of her even finds it satisfying: “Oh, Fiora, smirky-smirk, you are so open, so free. Such a pizz-poor Zhent you would make; I shall never ask again...”

Mm-hm. The backdoor attempt to co-opt her via grammar feels like a win, and she loves winning rounds with Halia Thornton. Probably because it’s rare. But Halia has scored, too; Fioravanti didn’t take her hand away when Halia publicly dragged her up out of a dungeon. So. She has somehow landed herself a single Kevin-Bacon-Degree away from Halia’s baby-eating, unsavory allies. She means to maintain the small distance inherent in that degree, firmly, but her personal loyalty toward Halia runs very, very deep.

By which she means, no one is allowed to murder Halia except for her.

So she messages once more: By the way? Our superiors? Nice plurals, Lady Pronouns, but I have no superiors. I barely have equals. She keeps her tone light, faux-cocky, like she’s stunting. Which she is. But it’s also a clear Harper declaration. She adds, conciliatory: I like you. Singular. You can point me at whatever evil shiz is troubling you---maybe that green dragon, when I get home from Vallos? They have a lot of cash, and you know I like that.

She needs to understands the Black Network that has its hooks set so deep in her shadiest friend. She doesn't understand how the Zhenterim works. Hells, she doesn't fully understand how the freakin' Harpers work, and she is one.

She also has one more Spider thing to do today, and as soon as they are close to town, say, at Barthan's old place, she casts today's last big spell: a SEND to her sister; Mara invited Fioravanti to the wedding on the sly, when Father was “away on business.” Heh. Riiiight. GERYON’s business. But then a real invite came. Thick cream paper. Official response card. She picked to have the lamb.

She SENDS the words she has been crafting on the walk, tone interested and kind and pleasant:

Hullo, Mara, are you excited to be wed? I have to ask---who knows I’m coming? Mother and Father? If secret, I can be low-key.

Sure, she can. Purple AF in her Fae dress with her butterfly hat turned up to eleven. (She is also, POST Agatha-wedding, wondering---IS Mara excited to be wed to a Tresander?)

But mostly, there is no way she can walk into that wedding without at least trying to find out if Spi—Fa—FORK. If he is expecting her.

 


 


 

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Old Feb 17th, 2021, 05:31 PM
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Aftermath AftermathMara messages back. Her voice is sweet and a little breathless: Sister Frutopia! Yes, Mother knows. I insisted. Father knows, he's back in town. As preparation for marriage, they told me about the Price. I never--

As you walk along, Sildar goes up ahead for a bit leaving you and Halia alone. "I hope that someday we will have time to talk about philosophy. Maybe we will invite Lavinia to join us. She can drink her Earl Grey, I will drink my bourbon, and you can have a hot toddy."

The sun dips below the mountains as you head back through the wooded paths toward town. Halia takes her dagger back and sheaths them with a gesture that's as natural as breathing.

"Lavinia and I are small potatoes, but we do have our allegiances. We are no wild planestepping pirates, nor are we Bane-worshipping slavers. We are small town folk. I do treasure my connections and I believe... in my ways. But I treasure you too. And I understand you don't want to join the Black Network."

Ripper goings springing into a copse of trees, scaring off a grouse. Marigold throws a clump of dirt after it and he pretends to chase it. Halia sighs.

"As cruel as my organization can be, and as ugly as its past has been, I know that you do, and the world does, need it to be there. You may need me, to be there. Or if not me, someone like me, but bigger, maybe someone I can introduce you to..."

Her words trail off.

"Fiora, as someone older who is less powerful than you are but maybe more cynical than you are, I urge you -- don't dismiss the usefulness of allies because they come to you from the shadows. Don't get caught up in Sildar and his world of shining good and obvious evil. Don't let anyone, ever, make you feel like you belong on the other side of---." She stops. "And this is not a plea for me to stay relevant in your life, although I want to. But I--"

She doesn't bring up the pact. This is the place where she might bring up the pact but she doesn't bring up the pact. Up farther in the procession, Sister Garaele is singing a song and she has her arm around Nundro. She doesn't bring up the pact but you know that in this person you have a friend who will never, ever feel that you did anything wrong in making that deal. Not just because it saved her life. She would have given it. But because she believes in making those kind of deals.

"It doesn't matter. We can discuss it further if you want, or we can never speak of it again. Our alliance needs no corporate affiliation. I'll take your devil bow and your secrets and make them disappear."

When you get to town you separate, and can do your errands. Halia says she hopes to see you later and that she will be at the mining center for a bit and then home.

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Old Feb 17th, 2021, 07:49 PM
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Say what you will about Halia Thornton: the birch can count impeccably to 25.

Sister? In verbal italics even. Tymora help us all. Can anything be so pink and sweet and young and dumb? How terrifying. On the bright side, Mara also sounds NOT like a girl being oppressed into a vicious loveless marriage with a laundry-pervert, so there’s a plus.

Aaaaand the Pooits know she’s coming. Well. No need to be low-key then. She’s either going to eat lamb with Father or become one, sacrificial style.

Remember whose girl you are.

To Halia’s offers of a toddy and philosophy with Lavi---nope! Sister G, she says, I want that. I’ll have a dinner. When the Teapot is done, and I am home, and Nan is here. I’ll bring back a bourbon from Vallos that will make you have an un-curated facial expression. I know a distillery. She grins. I know several. But this one I’m thinking of, smoked cherries and pepper. It's a good talk for when Nan is here. Nan understands more about “philosophy” and what you’re saying and what I am than I ever even thought to question.

Then when Halia talks about Sildar, she nods. That’s smart. I mean, the whole Lord’s Alliance thing already makes me eye-roll, honestly, but in my center? I want so very badly to be good. I try for good. But I am what I am. I’m from where I’m from. I like what I like. I also think that you’re the most enraging person on three planes. And I wish that you would not say stupid things.

It’s the tonal opposite of that spooky vocal thing Halia does --- like when she described her Grandmother’s retirement home, saying, "Pretty music and flowers all the time" as if she meant "Violent murders and death, all the blood." When Fioravanti says “enraging” it sounds exactly like “fascinating.” When she says “I wish that you would not say stupid things,” it sounds exactly like, “Do not ever say to me that you aren’t relevant.

When Halia says exactly nothing about the pact so very, very loudly, she grabs her hand. Hard enough to hurt. She listens to her Harper sponsor singing with the dwarf she did get out, until she’s absolutely certain she’s not going to cry.

Then she shakes herself like Ripper, and she lets go and says. Don’t make me steal your cigarettes again. She smiles. The big one. Toothy. Eyes so alight with laughter that it’s almost thaumaturgy. And don’t eat Nundro, because we both know whose going to end up running that forge.

A pause. She adds, very very quietly, without ever saying the word she’s not allowed to say:

I haven’t even read it. I’ve been too scared to read it. I’m going to. I am. Whatever it says? It was a pretty good deal. I’ll be by your place later on.

She peels off toward her little house, calling her dog. Once there, Ripper persons, and together they wrestle the furniture Thel Dendrar has left for them down into the secret level under the house and set up Nan’s bolt hole. There, she also installs the hunk of geode that creates a radius where burrowing creatures can't penetrate.

A bath now.

She’s pretty flush, for her, and Trilena’s hot and cold running servant girls are a fifteen minute walk away. But she wants the cold. They walk down to the river where the bathhouse is being framed and she strips down and Ripper dogs and they wade in.

Ripper likes it until she gets the soap out, and then he sneezes and struggles and acts like he’s being murdered. Once he is clean, she scrubs at herself in the center, where the water is its iciest, letting the last of Vyerith Candor leave her skin. By the time she gets out, her purple has gone very blue.

As she dresses, her teeth chatter and she shakes in the warm summer air. She feels the diamond on her sternum, even colder.

They go inside. She needs to go see Sister Garaele and hopefully her uncle, but. This first.

She gets out the dense white paper, almost cloth. A pleasure to touch. A pleasure to unfold. Da has such nice things. She peels back the ice-blue seal that burns her fingers, it's so cold. And she reads.

 


 


 

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Old Feb 18th, 2021, 07:33 AM
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The PactYou open the cream envelope and slide out the folded paper. You can see the curled ink shapes even before you break the seal -- a rapier stabbing through a cube of ice -- and open the paper. You read:
Beautiful Fioravanti,

Of course, my dearest girl, there is no pact. You were mine before you were born, bound to me by magic older than the sky. You are more to me than all the robed humans in the north, scraping along in service to the waif, after they make their crawling little bargains, and eke out their rotten little boons. I have a pact of ownership more powerful than any mewling mortal could stammer out to be scribed by some pedantic bug. You are the Price. You are mine by molecule.

This doesn't mean our negotiation was meaningless. It meant everything to me that you were willing to freely give me what I have. Our association will be much easier and more productive as you are a willing participant. The alternative is very grim. And the gifts I can bestow, as you have seen, much more rewarding. All that is before I mention the joy of being near you, my child, to see for myself who you are and how you have grown. It took everything that I have to be present with you like that, and I will now be gathering my powers for the day I can push through the planes to visit you again.

I am your patron, and you are my warlock. By agreement *and* by birth. And by a pact that was written and signed a thousand years ago, I am also,

Your Fond Father,
Levistus
Oh. Well hey.
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Old Feb 18th, 2021, 01:13 PM
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Da
1) Oh. Well hey.



Dazlyn and Trilena and Sildar

1) If Dazlyn was at the Battle of Wave Echo Cavern, she retrieves her other Sending Stone. She likes Dazlyn and Norbus, but they haven’t worked together again, and she has 1,000 better uses for this set. If Daz wasn’t present, she goes by Stonehill and tells Trilena that Daz or a messenger sent by him will be there soon to drop off a package, and to please hold it for her.

2) She will not live at the Teapot. It’s for Nan; it always was, and on some level, she knew that. She even outfitted her room like a novice’s dorm, and she is no novice. When in Alfriston she’ll be there daily, helping Nan with chores and steaming herself to a puddle in the bathhouse, but she will never again live with her Nanny. Which leaves her homeless. Which means she needs more money---a lot of it! What’s. New.

For now, she asks Trilena about exclusively renting the suite of rooms she used for Halia’s dinner. She will pay for three months in advance (she assumes whatever house she ends up with will require extensive renovations, AKA PLUMBING). Her requirements are simple: Trilena’s staff keeps the suite always empty, ready for her, clean and fresh---not using Elsa. Elsa never sets one sneaky, banally evil, tiresome little foot in there. Baths and room service when she is in town, and if someone comes and knows the password Dandelion, then Fioravanti sent them, and they are to be treated as if they were her. tell me the $ and I will remove from inventoryShe’ll pay for this in advance, now.

3) She tells Sildar she is real estate shopping again, and asks him to show her options when she gets home from her sister’s wedding. But. She also lets him know she is thinking of the Edermath place. It abuts the Teapot, and it has an orchard, which Nan and the still theoretical Orphans (Hin??? So many were lost in Woodbottle...) will love. She is very delicate about this, butchecked the module LOL Daran was an elderly half-elf without a wife or children, so if it is on the market, she would like Sildar to secure it for her from his heirs, sight unseen. The house doesn’t matter. She can build or renovate.

Then it is time to go and see her most important allies:




Sister G

1) Sister G, her Harper sponsor, has indicated Fioravanti earned a promotion; she doesn’t understand this process, but hells yeah, one step closer to Bright Candle! She still gets a pleasant shiver remembering when Wick Edder wrongfully called her that most excellent title because she flashed him Daz’s button.

Halia offered to intro her up the Zhenti-Chain, so she hopes Sister Gareale has a similar contact for her. If not, she wants to know where to go in Vallos to meet Harpers. And if there are signals or passwords or Harper places or taverns where she can go to meet like-minded spies.

2) The nun is also her spiritual advisor, but she buries her second question in chatter and general religious questions that seem whimsical and random—though maybe not to Garaele? Halia has indicated, strongly, that Garaele knows she is a Zhent. So the nun has a few cards she keeps close. Perhaps the relentless whimsy is, in some ways, cover? INTERESTING.

She accepts a cup a cup of tea and is handed instead the taxidermied badger, which she cuddles as she asks silly things like, Is Tymora HIN? Marigold says... and, Can Tymora’s devotees also pray to Torm sometimes? Asking for an uptight friend who assures me daily that they CAN... and barely listens to the answers. In this deluge, she buries the one that matters: Can a Warlock, or any such who does not own their own soul, follow a god?

Fioravanti chose Tymora in the Shadowfell. She tossed that coin, and something slotted into place inside her, but now, is she allowed? Not just by Da, which is another conversation, but by the goddess herself. Perhaps the answer doesn’t matter, for her; she didn’t even trade her soul. It was never hers to begin with.

Oh. Well hey.

She still wants to know what Garaele thinks.


Drooid Pooit If the Druid is at the farm, she will just ask him. Who was the Price in his generation? Is she alive? Does he know of any others? Alive? Where? If he is not home, she will ask Qelline to find out as soon as she sees him, and get the information to Halia Thornton ASAP. Halia can message her, so...It’s urgent.

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Ripper is ecstatic to see CouCou and goes very very dog, all legs down, butt up, play shapes and Yaw-Yaw noises. She shakes her head and tells her happy dog, Pack him up. Mara has said there is no need to be low-key.

Gods, if only Khargazz had had even one spare riding lizard! She would love to pull up at the venue on a big-arse Draconic-named noble scaly steed, Fae-ed out to the Bright and back in her butterfly dress and hat and slippers, her Uptight Cleric +1 riding b*tch, her Emotional Support Wolf surging alongside with his magical Emotional Support Squirrel... HI. MUM. WHAT. UP.

She’ll stay for a quick beer and thank Marigold for being such a bad-ass trooper down in the trenches, and she’ll ask if Rips can sleep with her tonight. He’ll know where to come and get her in the morning. Marigold is fine with it. What’s one more animal at the Alderleaf Farm?

Don’t eat Beatrix, she tells her dog.

You could stay too, Marigold offers.

Ripper quirks one furry eyebrow and declines for Fioravanti in the weird growl of a voice he has been given. She’s going to see Trilena’s country chic sofa.


Two Things to Show, and a Business Proposition
She goes to Halia’s, minor-illusioning on a conciliatory and amusing mustache. She doesn’t care if dinner burns up or gets cold, and she doesn’t care to tour the house (well, not true. She is a “house” person. Her curiosity about Halia’s could be categorized as wild.) But as soon as she’s in, all she wants is for Halia to shut up and take her hair down. Then she wants Halia to trace those patterns on her back; her shoulder blades burn and itch.

Something is in there. Rustling, disconcertingly, from the inside. She tries again to FWOOOOMP them out, thinking that it would be funny, even though she might get a little immediate-reaction-stabbed for startling a Zhent who so recently visited the Shadowfell and then fought orcs. Worth it!

They do not come. Also, she realizes --- (Oh. Well Hey.) --- she had wings long before Da offered them in the “negotiations.” There is no pact. She has always had them, because she was always his. AND ALSO! She startles and sits up, remembering. THEY HAVE COME OUT BEFORE! When she rode Gorthok, the Thunder Boar! She remembers, in a vague and dreamlike way, the glorious feel of buffeting the air with their strange, carnal musculature.

She keeps trying to finagle them out, even as she digs in her bag and passes Da’s letter to Halia, with no comment. She mostly wants her friend to see the name. It’s important that Halia not continue to think that Da is Geryon.

So, no cat-from-hell will stroll through your mirror tonight, if that’s a comfort, she says. Beyond that she doesn’t want to talk about the letter. In fact, by the time Halia is done reading, she is already unfolding the rough plans she has been working on during short rests. Bright smile! New topic! Crayons! Dear old friendly friend Ferrar! That dead bugbear is a gift that keeps on giving.



You like power. That's just your thing. You like it, that's how you are. She sounds like racist Caitlyn, from a thousand years ago, saying, that “being purple” was just Fioravanti’s thing. So she starts over. I know you died, and believe me, I know the Shadowfell’s upsetting, but don’t snag a DYI wimple kit and cozy up to Helm just yet. If you find yourself Shadowfellside again, chin up, and remember, If I get my way, the worst hell has in store for you is a mild need for a cardigan. She grins. But. And I like this option better. What if we didn’t die? Immortality seems like it would be in your aspirational wheelhouse, or do I misread you? Because it’s for damn sure in mine...

She talks openly about the Geode, the mists, the portal, the key, and especially the tunnel she believes runs from the portal cavern all the way back to Alfriston, ending under the ruins in the Nothic’s trench.

Step one: We rebuild Tresander Manor. Get that green dragon to fund the endeavor. She hears the echo of Da's laugh: Step two, profit. Use the old footprint and foundation, and then close off the other entry points to the caverns. Put your center on top so all the miners don’t get Mist-Curious. Likely you would move there to guard the access point. I’d do it, but you know I Travel. You could even move the Exchange to the front, and then open a general store in your space down here. The town needs one since, well---I’m sure you figured out Anya and I were the “farm girls” who killed that shirthole Spider Spy, Barthen, right? It’s a lot to think about. But fun, right? And then we have time and privacy to figure out how to use that mist. I’m going to hop that port one day, see if I can’t dig up some Netherese secrets.

Da will not block her path to immortality, and why should he? There is no pact. Dead or alive, here or in hell, she’s his. Stygia is deeply lawful and full of devils. She prefers here.


Three Questions with Halia Thornton
She pulls on one of her old Nan-packed white lawn nightgowns, just in case. Maybe Da’s letter meant he couldn’t visit as Levistus, and Cat could still appear. She thinks not. She hopes not. For now, she finds his absence a relief. She has a lot to think about. A decision to make about how to deal with Father. The fact that she never had a choice. What that makes her and if she has one now or---Nope. Later.

She wants to eat whatever ruined dinner might exist. She has three questions for Halia, always her favorite game, but once again with no Zone cast. Zone of...trust? Yerg. Less favorite. But she has decided to blanket trust Halia the way she does Anya and Sister G.

1) Even if she talked to her uncle, she will likely want to know what Halia knows: At the inn, you said you knew I was the Price, and who my family was. You said, I know that there are others, like you, in the family.

Are. Not HAVE BEEN. Yes, okay, maybe I hang too much on grammar, as we have already seen today but...are? As in, you heard of Prices who are still alive? If you have a name or an age or even a location, or can get one, I’d be very, very interested.


2) She and Halia hate the Dral. It’s a better enemy to share than the Black Spider, because she is pretty damn sure that the ravening hordes of Dral will not one day come to her and reveal they are her father. She says, Here’s a whisper you can use, though if my source knows, you likely do, already. Amun Rus is said to be an agent of the Dral. What do you know of him? I’m going to give him a good hard look, while I’m in town. I’ll tell you what I uncover.

3) Last, she says, Halia, can you explain the Zhenterim to me? Not a sell job. We’ve both agreed, except for sometimes you, that I’m not Zhent material. She’s playing. She grins, showing Halia all her teeth. But seriously, how did you get on this path? I ask because I am strongly considering your offer to introduce me up the chain.

She does not add, And I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand you until I understand the Black Network, because she does understand Halia well enough to know that “being understood” is not a daisy sticker on her aspirations board.

Or, if that’s too personal, or broad, maybe just explain, in Zhent-philosophy terms, why you didn’t slit my throat for killing Hamun Kost. He was one of yours. I’ll slit any throat whose owner comes after Rips, or Anya, or my nun, or my Hin---or you, quite frankly. Was it because he planned to betray you to keep the mists for himself, or because he planned to betray the organization. Or both? Or was it just, in spite of what I grant you is a very useful skill set, he was genuinely horrible, and perved on you, and sometimes Zhents just kill each other?

She gives up on getting her wings out for the nonce, and unless Halia kicks her out, she’ll sleep there after all. In her way, she’s bad as Ripper: if you give a bard a cigarette, she’s going to want the middle of your bed and all your covers to go with it.


CODA She said goodbye to all her favorite allies already. She will get Halia to “disappear” the devil plate and longsword and she’ll take whatever money is her cut. Vallos and shopping (and a wedding...) await, so she can surely find a use for all the cash she can get her hands on. But. She gives the bow to her friend.

It’s powerful, if you don’t mind things from hell; I am laboring under the impression that you don’t. Still, it is the bow that killed you. Killed us both. So. Maybe not the best memories. Use it or sell it or kick into pieces, as you will.

if this long rest if completed I will reset I releft the stat blocks in case of interruptionShe’s ready to go when Ripper shows up with his squirrel to collect her.


 


 


 
[/fieldset]

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Old Feb 19th, 2021, 08:26 PM
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Many Meetings
1. Dazlyn.

You message him. He has gone on from Bucklebutt, and is now under cover in Chippling, posing as an archivist from Bucklebutt University. Norbus has gone on to Catlewen, to relieve the... the something, the message cut off.

2. Trilena

Rental for 3 months on the best suite at the Stonehill Inn is 90 gold. She is grateful to you for everything you have done for the town, and would give you this if she could, but you get the sense that with Alfriston secure from Cragmaws and such, business is picking up, and it would hurt them to take their best rooms out of circulation.

3. Sildar

The heirs / next of kin of Daran Edermath will have to be contacted. Sildar will get on that. Apparently there is a big barn with a cider press in it and Sildar says Daran had considered bottling hard cider but thought it would have a degrading influence on the town youth, tantamount to opening a pool hall or something terrible like that.

3. Sister Garaele

Sister G tells you that the highest-ranked Harper she knows is the proprietor of The Affable Dragon, in Vallos. This shocks you. Billy Staggers? Billy Staggers is the most gee-hock golly-gee yokel idiot in town. His shop is basically a medieval dollar store, and he spends all his time trying to get adventuring customers to wear his logo patch on their armor. You can hardly believe that -- but the suddenly-serious look on Sister Garaele's face when she says "Don't. Tell. Anyone." is pretty convincing. Maybe she *is* able to keep other people's secrets, just not her own.

About the worship of Tymora, Sister Garaele says that Tymora is not a jealous god. She also tries to explain that... everyone has a relationship with Tymora of one kind or other. Some ignore her, some fear her, some think she's a joke, some become addicted to her. Her worshippers respect her, honor her, understand her importance. But her spheres of influence -- chance, luck, randomness, the coin on its edge or the quest balanced on the edge of a knife -- are part of your life no matter what. So, your relationship with Tymora is something you can develop and practice, contemplate and pursue, even while worshiping other gods or -- whatever.

4. Druid Pooit

Druid Pooit isn't there. Qeline says if she makes contact she will ask, although she warns that he doesn't have a lot of contact with the Vallos Pooits. You get the sense she's not totally sure what "The Price" means.

5. Halia

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Halia is 100% down with your mining center plans. She listens calmly to your descriptions of the geode, asks a few questions, expresses mild horror at the dangers you encountered. She seems uncertain how best to proceed, but agrees with you that it is very wise to keep a mining-center lid on it for the present. You get the impression that Halia feels like this is above your, and her, pay grade. She recognizes you have stumbled onto something that you collectively really can't handle at this moment, but would be potentially good for you both. She is both concerned and delighted by this. She tells you, these are the secrets that kings send armies after. No one must know. No one. She doesn't say you need to kill Anya but you get the sense that if Anya was about to blab, she'd kill Anya with a dagger to the eye, from two buildings away, and walk on.

Halia says these three questions are connected. The Price, the suspected Dral agent Akemon Rus, and the Zhents.

The Zhents are knowledge, information, and power. They are curiosity, manipulation, plots. They are hearing a story all the way to the end. They are knowing what will happen before it happens. They are opening the envelope and seeing what's inside. At times in their history, they've pushed past unpleasant boundaries in pursuit of power and knowledge. That is true. But. It is because of the Zhents that she knows about the Price. It's not common knowledge! In fact, it's a very deeply buried secret. She tells you, if people knew about what you are, and what you are for, they would kill you. They would hate you. They would kill your family. They would end the line. The town would, the people would, the army would, the king would. The only reason she knows about the Price is because she is a Zhent. And the only reason everyone doesn't know is that the Zhents keep secrets.

Perhaps the Zhentarim can best be understood in contrast to the Harpers. What would the Harpers do with the envelope? The envelope the Zhents would open up and read? The Harpers would burn that envelope, and if they happened to read it first, they would kill themselves to bury that information. The Harpers would explode the Forge of Spells, the Harpers are probably responsible for the fact that it was lost in the first place, likewise the Amaranthine Geode. Want to go after those ancient secrets of the magical Netheril Empire? Don't ask the Harpers. They want that power to stay gone. High level magic? Forget it. Consolidated power? No. Equality and confusion and shifts and upheaval. The Now, the Zhentarim don't want to rule -- maybe at one time, there were those who aspired to holding powerful positions themselves, but not anymore. They just want to know. They want to use knowledge, and they don't have a problem with picking sides.

[INSERT THE STORY OF THE LAST KING OF THE CALDERAS]

Who are the other Prices, still alive? She doesn't know. She cautions you: don't be so open with talking about it. The Pooits are an old, huge, and powerful family. They have everything to lose by this information about the source of their strength getting out. And what you have to lose is your life. And no fun budding magic skills will help you if the whole kingdom turns against you. She worries about you going to the wedding in a big parade. She can't imagine, in 1000 years, why the Pooits would allow a Price to attend a big family event. She can't imagine. It's just unwise for all involved, unless -- unless no one knows who you are? Will you be sitting in some back pew, going to the reception as a friend of the groom? Where is your protection? How do you know?

She tells you that Akemon Rus is not on her radar as a suspected Dral agent. She does know that he has been advocating for the king making a truce / alliance with the Queen of Savoie, and that doesn't seem like what a Dral agent would want. She wonders if you learned he was a Dral agent from a Harper, because she reckons that Harpers can't be too pleased with the prospect of a United Kingdom.

And yes, sometimes Zhentarim kill each other. There are open power struggles within the organization, and assassinations are common. Killing Hamun Kost wouldn't necessarily be without consequences or judgment, but it wouldn't be because "killing people is wrong" or anything like that.

Halia gives you an excellent dinner, a wildly satisfying night, an exquisite breakfast with the best coffee you've had in a month, and 1000 gold in advance of whatever she can get for the Erinyes' gear, which she expects will be a lot more at the end of the day. But it will take a very particular buyer and probably some shady middlemen.
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Last edited by lostcheerio; Feb 19th, 2021 at 08:36 PM.
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Old Feb 19th, 2021, 10:04 PM
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WEDDING-BOUND

1) Honestly. Dwarves.

2) 180 removed from inventory and this is why she is always broke.She gives Trilena double, tells her to use at least 50 for tips spread out over the time, and advises her to fire Elsa.

3) She is going to have a cider press, and bottle the hell out of it. Keep the name, to honor Daran, who died for the town (but who was dumb about youth). Hells, she will hire town youth to run it. Maybe build an adjoining pool hall. It will pay for itself. And the mine---Alfriston is going to flourish. At least until the Dral kill them all. But before that, there will be cider and pool and mild, sweet corruption.

4) She adds Billy to her VALLOS TO DO list, kisses Sister G solemnly and loudly on both cheeks, one after the other, Savoie style. She takes her leave much lighter in spirit.

5) In the morning she bugs out early, before Ripper can show and scratch at Halia’s door. THE HOUSE! THE BEAMS! She should have known. Too austere for her own packratty, brightly colored, faux-boho tastes but---im-forking-peccable.

She does tell Halia, who likes information: My Akemon Rus info was not from a Harper, so give it more credence maybe? It was from Marigold, pre-me-recruiting her, which I KNOW you think I am too open, but please! Like Sister G didn't already tell you five times now I Harped that Hin up! Anyway---I think Marigold got it from Bunce; that's Ten Spires stuff.

From Halia’s, she goes directly to the Shrine. In spite of all that Sister G said, she is anxious.

Tymora Tymora, Fancy Tymora, Test My Luck in the Gates of the Moon. She flips the coin Garaele gave her.heads!!!! Heads. Which is, of course, random. But does not feel random. It feels like an affirmation and a blessing and an answer. She nods, and presses one palm against the heap of stone she helped put back together correctly by not putting it back together at all. Okay, then, you fickle birch. I’m yours. It might not be how Anya prays (Spoiler: it’s not) but it’s sincere.

She heads back to the Alderleaf Farm at a saunter, humming and feeling good, in spite of all Halia has given her to think about, especially the wedding. Mara seems innocent and pinkly against injustice, but Halia has a point. Acknowledging SISTER Frutopia could be bad for Fioravanti. She wants to message Mara but she waits. She wants to talk to her moral compass, her most insightful friend, first.

She tells Qelline not to bother Reidoth though---she got the pricing information that she needed from Halia, the canniest merchant she knows. She asks instead that Quelline ask her Uncle to think about the places he sees in all his wide roving in his various forms. She is looking for a haven for her lizards. Khargazz, she has realized, now that her blood is down, is right. Civilization is coming to the mine, and it will not be good for his folk.

Her dog meets her with a cocked eyebrow and a squirrel. I liked sleeping here? he says. He did. Who would not. But he is asking her a question. A little anxious.

Don’t be dumb, dummy, she says, and ruffles his ears. We’ll be living at the inn. My sofa’s moving up onto the hill to squat with knives over my geode.

Okay. And he’s already frisking ahead, his squirrel lofting Eldritch Blasts at horseflies.

She is glad she ditched her dog for a night (Halia’s ice white carpets were not made for Ripper) and stayed over, because---well, the coffee. But she mostly did it for Halia, who seemed uncertain of her ongoing value to Fioravanti, and Fiora likes things to be clear. She thinks they are, now. Halia Thornton is not her girlfriend. She is a staunch, moderately black-hearted, useful ally who sees Fioravanti clearly and accepts her, which, for this girl who still and likely will always (considering) write No-Last-Name on deeds and contracts, is very, very powerful.

That moment, coming down the mountain, when Halia said nothing and everything about the pact---for Fioravanti, it felt the same as when Reidoth looked deeply into her and then silently radiated, Yes to all this. This is fine. Fioravanti reciprocates; she sees Halia much more clearly now, and she accepts her. It’s enough. More than.

Fioravanti believes her cynical Zhent has no more interest in fidelity or vows or cozy domesticity than she herself does (which is to say, zero), but all the same, she loves Halia, and she believes she is loved back. A bizarre turn, considering how recently she was actively plotting her murder, but apparently that’s not...super abnormal in Halia’s life.

Now? She will kill or die protecting Halia, storm any hell to fetch her back if some doomed moron dares to off her, and work with her to become immortals if she wants it, too. The “if” makes her laugh. Halia wants it. She is aware that Anya won’t. But Halia’s charcoal-colored opinion is an equal and opposing weight to Anya’s crisply ironed white one, and she needs both. Fioravanti also likes sleeping with Halia, very much, but she’s a dedicated sybarite and sex for her is simple as boiling hot baths or Trilena’s rustic pate: a luxury to be enjoyed when one is home or otherwise safe-ish.

She hopes Anya will spend the spell and message her soon, so she can say she’s inbound; she needs those slots. She has SENDS she’s working on should they make it to bedtime without needing that magic for some violence.

They set out for Vallos.


 


 

Last edited by Fillyjonk; Feb 20th, 2021 at 07:04 PM.
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Old Feb 20th, 2021, 06:46 PM
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THE WEDDING

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