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  #106  
Old 10-16-2018, 09:56 PM
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Loftwick looked much as it had, besides the potentially ominous greenish cast from the slow-moving storm. There were the familiar spires and battlements, and undoubtedly the predictable masses and stink. It was difficult to tell whether its fortunes were waxing or waning. The ongoing storm undoubtedly had some effect on the city's current amount of traffic. And one could hardly judge the general contentedness of a populace by what they wore out in the rain. Whatever banners might by flying over the city, and there must be some, were apparently too sodden to unfurl. The wind's rowdy gusts churning under the storm's leading edge, must have already passed there.

Yet the somewhat distant view of Loftwick was not entirely 'normal'. There was clearly a largish circle of ... most likely people, undulating in unison just outside the near gate. Mostly it looked like raising their arms to the sky, then lowering their hands to the ground for a long moment, before repeating the act. That was new. Yet it was not disrupting the meager traffic passing through the city's gate, and the gate guards looked to be keeping a respectful distance from the waving circle. It could be just about anything.
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  #107  
Old 11-09-2018, 11:24 AM
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Cassel was clearly unarmed as he approached the gate. He did not give MealStone a second thought: the Margoyle would conceal himself or he would not, a choice that would always be his own. The white-haired half-elf stopped walking between the city and the ring of waving kneelers, taking it all in before deciding what to do. He patted his traveling partner on the shoulder to suggest that they pause momentarily, then spent a bit of time watching the worshipers. He allowed his sight to bend, letting in more than just colors and light. He was very curious to see if this activity was resulting in a flow of power; either to them or from them.
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  #108  
Old 11-10-2018, 06:10 PM
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Having passed under the storm's more turbulent leading edge, Cassel and Mealstone approached the eastern gate of Loftwick under a steady downpour. The cloud-riven sky had lost most of its greenish tint, and the sodden breeze was relatively warm. Yet they were the only travelers approaching the gate, as others must have chosen shelter during the heart of the storm.

The waving circle was still there though, scooping towards the ground, then 'throwing' their hands skyward. And the circle of rain-slicked peasant women were chanting in unison, although the sounds were so thoroughly guttural as to be incomprehensible as language. Plodding along next to the wizard, the margoyle looked upon the activity with distaste, a sharp contrast from the smile his recent meal had earned. Cassel knew that some trivial amount of magic was involved in the circle's antics, which was apparently enough to pique his curiosity.

Sensing the magic revealed it to be fundamentally of the elemental variety, specifically involving the sturdy essence of Stone being flung into the storm-wrought air. Yet the tiny dregs of energy being 'scooped' by the women were being accessed via some kind of primordial confluence of Arcane, Divine, and Nature magics. It seemed like the kind of thing one learned about from the ancient past, before Magic was divided and categorized in people's minds.

The women's garb provided insight though, as the animal skins and crude wrappings were obviously of current materials and craftsmanship. Even the decorative flint knives worn on some of their belts, had clearly been shoddily crafted with metal tools. So these were modern folk, pantomiming some ancient ritual, with extremely minimal effect. And as far as measurable results, Cassel could detect none. Which might beg the question of 'why bother', but the women looked ready to continue their flinging for the duration of the slow-moving storm.
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  #109  
Old 11-12-2018, 01:00 PM
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Cassel looked over his shoulder at Mealstone and smiled. he pointed at the circle and mouthed, "This is the stuff!" He was far too excited about a ring of pagans. The half-elf began walking around the circle, feeling the energies being mustered with his heightened senses. He found a gap between two of the kneeling ladies that was wide enough to permit him to pass without nudging them. Then, slowly, he stepped into the center of the ring. Reaching out with his hands extended, his fingers wavering, he brushed the gathering mixture of forces. He understood its combination of sources, and was pleased to share the arcane pathways with divine and nature.

He considered that these women were trying to push away the storm with energies from the Earth. Alas, he had no earthen magics at his disposal. Maybe fire would help push it away? He really wanted to help. Even though the storm seemed to be good and passing already. He tried to mimic the chanting, lifting his arms into the air in time with the ladies. He then let off a Lighting Bolt straight up to the sky. What it lacked in ability to reach the sky, it made up for in... well, effective damage to birds.

He waved to the women as he stepped out of the circle. Exposure to The combination of magic was worth the trip. He enjoyed the experience, and was also able to announce his presence to Loftwick with authority. There was no sense in trying to fly under the radar. A Mage should address his equals as a Mage, not sneaking around in the dark of night in alleys and mud. Though sneaking around had its advantages. He moved towards the gate and waived to the persons in the area. There might be 'guards', for which he had little attention.

As with any city of this size and age in a relatively valuable area, the gates and walls were mostly stone. There were wooden platforms at key locations. The gate houses were expanded with wooden enclosures, and taller scouting towers were wood. It all needed repair, which was ongoing (but not today). The buildings within were a vast combination of materials: most community structures began as wood and were eventually replaced with stone. Union buildings were stone and private buildings were wood. Some three story structures existed, but most were one story or a business with residence over. All seemed consistently roofed with a dark grey tile. Undoubtedly the color of the local clay quarry

Roads were a mixture of stone and crushed stone, though all were covered in mud, sadly. This was nearly impossible to keep up with: dirt and droppings fell on EVERYTHING. Frost heave in the winter and rains in the summer changed the elevations of ground. The road sank and the earth took over. Cassel trudged through. He shifted his sight to look for accumulations of magic, but he remembered where the arcane library was. He wanted food first, though. He searched the shingles overhanging the narrow streets until something caught his eye.

"The Roasted Elf. Sounds like a good place to start."

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  #110  
Old 11-18-2018, 12:00 AM
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A handful of heartier folk waved back at Cassel, having watched his involvement despite the lingering drizzle. The guards looked ... vaguely amused, yet offered no comment on the display or the odd pair's entrance to Loftwick. For his part, Mealstone observed it all in his typically stoic margoyle fashion. Yet his interest seemed piqued by the mention of a meal, or perhaps the inn's name.

Ye Olde Roasted Elf
The tale of how Lachurvin came into ownership of the tavern in Loftwick has too many varieties to choose from, but nearly one hundred and fifty years ago, she did. The daughter of a wood elf and a jungle elf, itself a tale she would not retell, Lachurvin had made the unusual choice to live among humans. She ran the tavern for seven years, before an accidental kitchen fire burned it down. The lady elf suffered many burns pulling customers from the flames, as did others, but no lives were lost in the fast-moving blaze.

Determinedly, Lachurvin built a stately inn on the land cleared by the fire, including where the tavern had stood. Someone had begun calling her 'the roasted elf' after the fire, in part due to her somewhat darker skin, and it quickly became a running joke throughout the merchant district. So the new inn was thusly named, where a clean bed and a great meal could be had for all those years. Lachurvin still greets customers some evenings when she is in town, but most of the ownership duties have been bequeathed to her daughter, Linarvury.


An elderly human woman hurriedly waddled up to the inn's entrance ahead of the pair, clearly not enjoying the accompanying squall of rain. Judging by her finery, she could be nobility, although it is always difficult to tell with old humans. The doorman was ready for her, of course, and held open the stout oak door as Cassel and Mealstone approached. That allowed them to overhear "Lina my dear! A spot by the hearth, to warm these old bones please." from the dim interior.

As expected, the comely youngish elf gestured that she would be right with the pair as they entered, while she was leading the old lady towards the padded benches ringing the large hearth in the far right corner. Apparently Lina's father was a sylvan elf, considering her modest height and the slightly greenish cast to her chestnut skin. Her green eyes were alight with mirth under the heavy redwood beams, easily seen with her unnaturally reddish brown hair tied back as it was.

Nearly all of the intervening tables were empty, and all of the seats along the bar sat empty beyond the small maze of round tables. A couple of city merchants mumbled to each other in a plush booth along the wall to the left. A seemingly wealthy courtesan lounged theatrically in the near corner to the right, reading a smallish book by candlelight as she dangled a nearly bare leg. Three of the city guards sat at the table nearest the hearth, quietly discussing watch compositions over empty plates and bowls.

A human in his late twenties smoothly came out from behind the bar with a steaming tea service for two, heading for the elderly lady, whom by then was seated before the faintly glowing hearth. Dressed as one would expect from an upscale bartender, he did not spare the elf and margoyle a glance as he hurried across the richly decorated room. By then though, the elven lady was rapidly making her way to greet the pair, smiling in the hopes of their indulgence at the minor delay.

"Greetings, and well come to the Roasted Elf on this gloomy day. Our special today is Ham of Halfling with dwarven toe-tatoes and greened-elf beans with cheese, paired with our infamous beard bread of course."
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Last edited by Codger; 01-01-2019 at 12:49 PM. Reason: I'm an idiot!
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  #111  
Old 02-08-2019, 02:27 PM
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Cassel moved into the inn with a nod to the people who ignored them. He probably stank like wet dog, though he had always liked to think he had some lizard in him. A dragon ready to boil over and strike out at the lazy of the world. Which is a joke, because no one is more lazy than a dragon. A dragon with a hoard, that is. He supposed that dragons had plenty of motivation until they gathered the wealth that they would need to sleep on for centuries. Jerks.

Stank. He was concerned that he stank, having been everywhere except polite society for… weeks? When he was in the other realms, was he even in a place? Did he have a body that could sweat and stink? In any case, he’d been in the rain and on the muddy road for long enough that he felt he could do with some personal kindnesses. Mealstone was of mud, so he figured that a little road mucus would go generally unnoticed.

Therefore, he did not want to sit particularly close to anyone else. Especially not the hoity toity of this locale. You never get a chance to second impress a firstly impressioned. He ignored the old adage that keeping your back to an open door was a good way to get assassinated and simply grabbed a chair at the nearest free table. He would rather see everyone in front of him than be wary of some idiot that thought he was killable. He waited until getting served was inevitable, based on the Halfing Ham comment. All in all, though, he felt pretty good. This room might result in some entertainment before the night got too long.

"Ma'am, that sounds delightful. I'll have plenty of that and something fruity to drink, if you don't mind." He smiled broadly at the expanse of room. "I'd like to stay here for a bit."
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  #112  
Old 02-09-2019, 04:17 PM
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"Adjacent rooms please." Mealstone murmured from his squat alongside the wizard when she glanced his way for an order. Her surprise at his words was of the pleased variety, earning a smiling nod. The room settled back into its arguably pleasant quietude as she hummed her way to the kitchen. The hearth popped and crackled, the guards sounded like they would be departing shortly, and the merchants mumbled in the corner.

The young man promptly brought a chilled bottle of modest elven wine and a pair of crystal chalices to the table, as the door behind Cassel opened. Wordlessly the young human uncorked the green bottle with aplomb, before filling both chalices to about two thirds of their capacity, releasing a fruity bouquet that only elves could achieve. He then looked to the new arrival, who had cautiously entered the inn just far enough to see and be seen.

Dressed in a cloak of singularly utter gray that nearly matched his skin tone, stood a rather unusual figure that was perhaps a head shorter than Cassel. He was obviously of the relatively rare salamander folk, with some human in his recent ancestry. He had the air of a learned philosopher, or perhaps a novice sage. He appeared to be unarmed, yet likely capable of defending himself. Rather than address the attentive bartender though, the newcomer politely turned to Mealstone with his query.

"May I join you two, as I prefer to not eat alone." he asked while sliding his hopeful gaze over to include the stark-seeming elf.

The possibly mute bartender quickly turned and left, only slightly miffed, as he heard the return of their humming hostess from the kitchens. Mealstone simply looked to Cassel for an answer, yet with a look of mildly piqued curiosity that was unusual for the margoyle. Adding to the vague oddness of the exchange, was the fact that Mealstone wasn't sliding a stone around in his mouth as was his near constant habit.
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  #113  
Old 02-11-2019, 01:49 PM
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The white-haired half-elf noted with some fascination that other people were talking to Mealstone. At times, he felt like the Margoyle was part of his ego; an aspect of him that was private. Maybe a conscience. Maybe a fragment. If that was not the case, them maybe Cassel needed that fragment so much that he was transferring that responsibility onto his companion. It felt awkward that he was at times completely untethered by rational thought, and at other times nearly suffocated by it.

In any case, the stony fellow was part of this adventure in a way that Cassel had not previously given him credit for. The ‘extras’ were communicating with him, so it was important that he play along. The salamander wanted to sit, he should sit. Cassel nodded and gestured towards an open space at the table. Chair or no chair, he could share their space. He also gestured to the wordless barkeep that they would need another glass. Although this seems like a complex point to deliver without speech, barkeeps were always prepared to sell more goods, so Cassel never doubted the man’s ability to get the message.

He added, ’Also food’.

The half-elf waited a few minutes for this to develop on their own, then turned to face the salamander full on. ”What brings you to these parts, guy? Do we have a warming trend coming our way? Anything I should be alarmed about?” He was partly joking, partly trying to trigger conversation. He was certainly not concerned for increased warmth, either on his part or for Mealstone. But an increase in rarer races generally meant an increase in strangeness.

Good times ahead.
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  #114  
Old 02-16-2019, 04:16 PM
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"Fried fresh fish, if you would." the salamander added after Cassel's helpful gestures. He took a seat on a chair, with himself facing the table but the chair facing to one side in order to accommodate his thick tail. Apparently he was quite accustomed to doing so, and made nothing of it. He then grinned a rather toothy grin as he dove into his answers.

"Nothing as interesting as all that, although I remain in favor of a warming trend on principle of course." he grinned even wider, including Mealstone in his slowly sliding gaze. "No I seek a couple of rare books said to be accessible in libraries here, chasing down details regarding a ... very old prophecy that ... may have been misunderstood at the time." he humbly admitted with a shrug for modesty's sake. "Since you are clearly a learned fellow" he nodded politely to Cassel "and margoyles are renown for their curiosity" he smiled at Mealstone "I had to risk imposing on the two of you in this way." he explained, spreading his hands apart, palms up, in a gesture typical of preachers and their ilk.

Understanding how that might seem like a leading statement, the drab-colored salamander quickly added some context in a thoroughly humble tone. The prophecy purportedly claimed that one mantle of power from some ancient fallen god, could be claimed by whomever earned it in the valley where the god perished. Of course many had attempted to do so over the centuries, with nearly all of them ending up poisoned by the plethora of snakes inhabiting the stony valley. He admitted that it sounded more like an allegory than some poorly-remembered bit of history, but he had recently come across an old text that used the same location name for a different valley. He added that there were a couple of unrelated details he hoped to corroborate in the libraries, which would make the trip worthwhile in any case.

A third glass and a basket of bread with a small plate of spreads were expertly placed on the table by the so-far-wordless bartender, meaning that their meals would be arriving soon. With a faint bow to the table, the young bartender returned to his station as the three guardsman made their way to the door, amicably chatting. They smiled a bit at the sight of Cassel and his companions, likely enjoying another example of that which made their jobs more interesting.

"So may I ask what has brought yourselves out in fair Loftwick on such a gloomy day?" the gray-cloaked salamander queried his table-mates in an innocuous manner.

 
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  #115  
Old 02-18-2019, 01:39 PM
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Cassel cast about the common room, pleased at the normalcy. Working men and women, elites/nobles, guards, extreme races, and him. This was his kind of society. To each their own. That doesn't mean that things are easy, but it does provide for a level playing field. No matter what the game. He gave a simplified, non-military salute to the soldiers and asked the bartender to pay for their evening's libations.

The salamander was piquing his interest, far more than he would have anticipated. He had no knowledge of the race's predilections, but finding out that this fellow was chasing a vestment of the gods triggered many of his excitement centers. His smile wasn't hidden. He found no joy in games of chance, nor in bluffing. Intimidation was more fun, though out of place in this specific scenario. He listened to the full story and nodded along. Their dinner guest may not have known that he was inviting them along, but he just did.

Just as his casual question had opened up a new Chapter in Cassel's life, he might just do the same for the Salamander. "Cyndor destroyed my companion, a Messenger, without my consent. In the process he revealed to me a scene of ancient power wielded by the Greyhawk Mage Guild. I am here seeking clues as to the Rite they used." He leaned his head towards Mealstone. "He's my muse."

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  #116  
Old 02-20-2019, 03:18 PM
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bar JokeA salamander, a margoyle, and a wizard walk into a bar. The fire marshal says, "You're not rated for this occupancy."

"The building code doesn't cover this."

"I just had a seminar on this last month..."

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  #117  
Old 02-24-2019, 09:24 PM
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Surprise and sorrow flashed across the salamander's leathery face at Cassel's words, as he made a concerted effort to engage, until the guild was mentioned. There was the expected recognition, but also thinly veiled disappointment. Mention that the wizard sought a specific rite roused at least a flicker of interest deep in his pallid eyes, yet laced with obvious pessimism. Confusion briefly clouded the reptile's countenance at the status of the margoyle, but he literally shrugged it off.

Mealstone had long since mastered the blank look, yet the one he delivered upon being called a 'muse' may well have been unique. His heavy lids had receded a bit more, while his feyish ears pulled his rubbery gray face a smidgen tighter. The margoyle quickly looked away to some middle ground, apparently to ponder the unexpected development.

The bartender arrived with the requested chalice and a sizzling plate of fried fish for the salamander. The lady followed right behind with Cassel's steaming meal, and all was quickly set before the diners with professionalism. Sensing an ongoing conversation, the pair mutely bowed themselves away.

"That mage guild is widely renowned among my folk as being overly secretive, although to be fair, few of those requests related to ancient times. Of course the source of the request makes all the difference." the gray salamander confided as he looked over his meal with apparent relish. "You might try Olgnaf the Odd, as he specializes in ancient records and has proven quite helpful to my folk over the years." he offered with a faint shrug as he dug into his fish.

After an angled bite to accommodate his fangs and a quick swallow, he added "My hope is that he has some news for me when I hear from him this night."

 
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  #118  
Old 02-26-2019, 11:54 AM
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Although multi-tasking was not on the menu, the white-haired elf was appreciative that the food added an extra dimension to their conversation. The matter they were discussing was suddenly heavy, and it need not be treated with such depth. Hence the MUSE comment. If there was a way to diffuse such topics as treason, he would surely do so. Not that he was afraid of the outcome, but intensity had a way of drawing attention. Unwanted attention, that is. Just the presence of a Margoyle, a Salamander, and a Wizard in a bar would be the butt of jokes in no time.

"I was under no illusion that the information I desire would be offered freely. It will have to be taken. I am warmed to know that Olgnaf is in town, and I will be glad to see him. That will surely give me a head start." He used a spoon on his meal, whether the food called for it or not. "The Guild and I parted ways some time ago. In fact, it is not fair to say that we were ever of the same ways. I did not appreciate knowledge until later in my life. Their adherence to structure", he said this word with no small amount of distaste, "put me off. A lot. I cannot for the life of me figure out why they disliked me, though."

Cassel spared several glances at the other parties in the common room. The wealthy woman was having her glass refilled: the pageantry of it was clearly pleasing her. He recalled with some fondness his foray into wealth. As it turned out, you could not take it with you. Unless you had a Portal of Safe Retreat, then you could take damn near anything with you. His inner dialogue was almost certainly what Mealstone was thinking as well. They met eyes and he exchanged a knowing wink with his Eternal Companion. If Margoyles could roll their eyes as well as they rolled stones, this town would never want for flour.

"I must admit," he continued, "I am greatly intrigued by your story as well. It seems I am currently lacking in mantles. And if I had one, I could always use one more." He smirked at his own lame joke, then got back on track. "Why do you seek it? For the joy of the chase? Or is there someone you work for? Is it for yourself?" He could go on, but hopefully one of those questions would trigger the Salamander to continue.

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Old 03-03-2019, 03:32 PM
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Amusement flickered across pale gray features at Cassel's expectation of having to take the knowledge he sought from the Guild, but mention of meeting Olgnaf piqued enough interest to wipe it away. There were bites of steaming fish taken as well. Talk of the guild's 'methods' aroused no discernible reaction, and the gray salamander eloquently shrugged over why the Guild might have disliked the wizard. He did seem to be thoroughly enjoying his meal, although he never touched the bread.

For his part, Mealstone did not appear to be following the conversation, a favored ploy of his. He did sample the wine from the sturdy chalice placed before him, and apparently pondered the result for a truly inordinate amount of time. Eventually he took to staring into the chalice's depths, tilting the vessel a bit this way and that, almost as if reading tea leaves or some such. In any case, the margoyle was engrossed.

Surprise blossomed from the salamander at the wizard's expressed interest in the mantle's tale, with an accompanying prideful improvement in posture. He smiled politely at Cassel's 'joke', before grinning through the flurry of questions that followed. After swallowing his bite, he dabbed all the way across his wide mouth before responding, smiling throughout.

"I too would accept a mantle if I came across one, but I must admit I much prefer large scarves." he earnestly admitted. Yet he could not keep a 'straight face' for more than a moment, and grinned at his own lame joke. Shaking his head at his silliness, and perhaps for enjoying himself a bit too much, the scarf-less scholar from the depths settled in to explain his reasons for such a long journey.

"I never pay for knowledge with coin, and have yet to even consider 'taking' knowledge I seek, as everyone in possession of useful knowledge, inevitably is seeking some other knowledge." he claimed with authority, of a flavor that only significant experience can typically provide. "Which is exactly how I ended up on this quest for the true location of Awlswidth Valley, you see. And dear Olgnaf might have the location of a relevant ancient map for me when I meet him at the Shrine of Lost Hope this night." he added in a hopeful tone.

"While a mantle of serpent control would definitely be of some use to me, the knowledge of a better location to seek it, could, and hopefully will be, traded for a kernel of knowledge I have long sought, which I finally tracked to its source just over a year ago now. It involves a non-magical extraction method of specific ingredients from the waters found deep underground." he confided with a measure of pride.

"Lie!" Mealstone blurted out, still staring into the swirling depths of his chalice.

"Excuse me?" the baffled salamander asked into the sudden silence, which briefly spread to include the inn's other patrons.

"Soap." the margoyle blithely answered, finally looking up from his thorough inspection, as the rest of the room turned back to their own interests. Unfortunately perhaps, neither the bartender nor the hostess happened to be in the room for the awkward exchange.

"Lye soap. In excess, I presume you mean. I failed to notice." the recovering salamander commented in a softer tone, glancing to his own chalice. And with the subject broached, the interior of Cassel's chalice might also contain a trace of insufficiently-rinsed lye hidden in the fine wine's undertones.

Obviously regretting his outburst, Mealstone quickly set the chalice down as if he would never touch it again, hunching down in place with guilt. "My apologies." he mumbled, looking to the empty portion of table before him.
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  #120  
Old 03-05-2019, 05:24 PM
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Cassel
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Cassel twisted his mouth at his parnter's outburst. He was not embarrassed, but he was briefly concerned. He did not want to listen to lies, nor did he want Mealstone to be upset. When it turned out to be a sensitivity to cleaning products, he felt like all was well. Personally, he was adverse to nuts. They always upset his stomach. And no matter who tried to tell him otherwise, nuts were not a dessert topping. They were an unwelcome crunch in an otherwise smooth treat.

He turned back to the Salamander mix when all was once again quiet. "Ah, see, it is simply a philosophical difference. You are spreading the subconscious will of the knowledge entity. That is admirable. You have knowledge and you share it. I recommend that in all possible cases. Otherwise, how would I get it?" He raised his glass and partook of the fruity beverage. In moderation, of course. He did not sense the lye, but there was no reason to enjoy a tainted vintage.

He sat the glass down and continued. "I, on the other hand, am climbing a pyramid. Each level is occupied by carefully guarded knowledge and power. The admission to the each subsequent tier is complete mastery of everything beneath." He cast his eyes around the room. Normalcy reigned. Even in its weirdness, this space was plain. It was...

Mundane

He looked back at his dining partner and waved an inhumanly dexterous hand around, encompassing everything. "I'm of this world, but I am not in it. I have goals that are distinct and otherworldly." He stared at the fish-eating fellow.

"I want the Mantle. And I want the Rite. And I don't want to pay or trade for them because then I will not advance to the next level of the pyramid. I am going to a place where only one man may stand."

He sat back in his chair. Mealstone would surely be rolling his stony eyes at the elf once again waxing egotistical. But without the goal of world domination, one would never rise out of obscurity.

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