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  #46  
Old Jan 23rd, 2021, 02:05 PM
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Wynamoinen Wynamoinen is offline
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Chat with NechotasHaemon parts ways with Nechotas less-than-amicably. Kyai Applecore lingers and approaches him confidentially. She makes a suggestion: Reflect on my words, on your heritage, and where your loyalties truly lie.... She then watches.

He scowls at the reprimand. But as she watches, Rolled a 5 on the savethe scowl shifts. His eyes search her own, and then flicker around the courtyard. His scorn seems to shift, from her, to himself, to the pampered isolation of the Heights.

Without a word, he turns on his heel and walks away. A seed has been planted.
The group's quartersAs evening falls, the group convenes in their quarters. As the Master of the House had pointed out in their initial tour, they are housed in a large open room directly beneath Ismene's quarters. Marble columns hold up the ceiling and a geometric mosaic decorates the floor. The many doors along the outside wall are opened, leading to one of the many patios of the estate, and allowing the night breeze in.

The room is a testament to the city's changing fate. It is not dusty, having recently been cleaned. But it still sits disused, its many pieces of furniture covered in cloth. It must have been host to frequent balls and galas 50 or 100 years ago. But the Dukas family is smaller, the coffers of the elite smaller, and the population of the city smaller, than in the Five Cities' heyday. What used to be a palatial space for entertainment is now a barracks for hired help.

It does make for generous accommodations, though. And with easy access to Ismene, if necessary.

The group consults in their unexpectedly-Lordly suite. The last two days turned up little evidence of intrigue from within the house, but that leaves the rest of the world to suspect. Newly-acquired knowledge in hand, they make plans for how to proceed.
OODMI want to leave another round of interaction and planning before I push forward. So, please continue the interaction.

As part of the discussion, I need to know what sort of security you all are putting in place, especially at night time. Will you set watches? Cast spells? Set out for a full-group, all-night hunting party? All sleep and hope for the best? This might be a discussion worth having partly OOC.
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Last edited by Wynamoinen; Jan 23rd, 2021 at 02:26 PM.
  #47  
Old Jan 24th, 2021, 09:01 AM
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Haemon the physician
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Haemon listened carefully to the others, occasionally nodding in agreement with their conclusions and suggestions. He was starting to feel respect for these unlikely and so mismatched companions, who -despite appearances- had proved especially talented and skillful. It seemed that the FatesMoirai had decreed that this would be the group to finally shed some light to the disappearances that had been troubling Anykhet for some time now – or at least that’s what the Elean hoped.

When Heliae asked for a new batch of the ointment that offered her the much needed protection from the sun’s rays however, the physician could not help himself from shaking his head in disappointment. He knew that such irresponsibility was a trait of youth, but that was still no excuse for neglecting one’s health in such a way. Searching briefly inside his satchel, Haemon produced a small unguentarium full of salve he had prepared for his own use. As Master Aristarchos had often claimed, the best physician was the one who followed their own advice. "Here, take this, but please, do take better care of your sensitive skin patches. Anykhetan Ra is much less forgiving than Elean Helios and I would hate to see him deal any irreparable damage to you." The rebuke might have seemed harsh to a patient‘s ears, but it was the Elean‘s way to hide his concern about the well-being of others behind a mask of gruffness. Besides, if a patient was not to feel sorry for proving careless or disobedient of their physician’s advice, would it not be likely that such a behavior would be repeated in the future?

"All right, let’s see what options we have. We should find some way to capture one or more of the jackals, whether by trap or ambush, I’ll leave this up to those with more knowledge of these beasts than a humble physician." The Elean’s gaze wandered from Raemka to Heliae and then back to the Ta-bash-ke. "Should it prove of any worth, know that I could make one of you invisible, as long as you don’t actually attack the beasts. To hide from the sight of the living is Persephone’s gift to the initiated and I will be glad to share it with you, if you so desire. The faster we deal with the jackals, the sooner we will be able to rule out an infiltration of the estate through such means."

Having come up with a strategy to deal with the matter of the four-legged interlopers, the Elean continued with the second -and possibly even more important goal. "If we are right about the disappearances not being linked to kidnappers, Ismene will probably benefit more from a person she considers of trust than a bodyguard, though to be absolutely certain both positions should be filled. It is after all what our patron expects us to do. Is there some particularly effective way of keeping tabs on the girl without raising her suspicion? I am able to summon a semi-intelligent unseen servantforce to perform simple tasks, but I am afraid surveillance of a particularly smart and willful young woman might be too complicated a task for it. Is there some way to plant a more inconspicuous spy inside her room – like a small animal?" It was clear that the question was directed mainly towards Heliae, who had proven her affinity to the Anykhetan fauna many times. "Are you able to talk to others of your kind when you wear an animal’s shape, Heliae? If not, we could just take turns to watch over her, especially during the night."

Waiting for the others to comment and offer new ideas, the physician eventually came to the next point of their investigation. "Finally, I think it of the utmost importance that we interview the families who have already lost a child. In this, I think, my services would be particularly valuable. A physician is always gladly seen in the homes of the not so well off, especially a physician who requires no fee for his services. That said, I would certainly welcome at least another pair of eyes and ears. As I tend to those requiring my needs, one or more of you could make inquiries and have a discreet look around the place."

Pleased with the plan he had come up with, Haemon regarded his companions under half-closed lids. The day had proven too long and he was eager to retire for the night.

 
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  #48  
Old Jan 26th, 2021, 09:47 AM
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Kyai Applecore
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Pikcing up where Haemon left off Applecore added, "And seeing how night is upon us, it only makes sense to approach the task of these jackals before traipsing off to bang on doors of families with lost children. But before we do, perhaps a reading is in order?"

The Dulamah stood and slowly circled the room pausing by each open door, apparently feeling for the strength of the breeze. After a few minutes she strode to the middle of the room and picked a spot slightly off-center from the exact mid-point where the mosaics seemed to converge in a visually appealing manner. Clearing a space on the floor she then removed her shoulder bag and began pulling various accouterments from it; a length of string, a single sheet of paper, a series of thin metal rods, and a quill with no inkwell. She assembled the rods, attaching them to each other to form a triangular stand that sat roughly approximately 60cm or 2 feet.1 cubit and 3 digits in height. Tying one end of the string to the tip of the quill and the other to the apex of the stand it hung suspended in the middle of the apparatus, upside down, and began swaying slightly in the breeze.

With a look to the others that cautioned silence, she drew the small knife from her belt and sat on her knees, hands folded. Externally Applecore kept her eyes closed and remained still for many long minutes in concentration. Internally she called out to her divine benefactor. Mesiddica. My protector. My strength. I beseech you. Use me as your vessel. Guide my will this night. Grant me the barest glimpse of your all-encompassing knowledge! In her mind she focused on the images of their group's upcoming activities. Hunting jackals. Trapping Jackals. With the end goal of getting a step closer to uncovering the mystery of Synkel's missing children.

Once she had this course of action locked within her mind, once she was certain Mesiddica had heard her request for aid, Applecore acted. In one swift motion she held her empty hand over the apparatus and sliced across her palm with the knife. Without the slightest flinch she kept her eyes closed as blood flowed freely from her wound in a steady stream. Falling onto the rods, some of her lifeblood followed the outer rods and pooled on the mosaics around the paper. Much more of it, however, followed the string onto the quill where it ran in rivulets over the feathered pen and dripped onto the pristine white paper. The breeze had begun to pick up, perhaps only a coincidence, but who could say? Regardless the quill swung to and fro, back and forth in a seemingly random pattern, buffeted by the night wind and the blood spilled onto the paper in a series of blots and lines.

After another amount of time deemed complete only by the opening of the Kyai's eyes and the staunching of the wound she withdrew from her trance. Carefully removing the quill so as not to spill any unintentional blood, she peered over the paper. "Now then, let's see what's in store for us tonight, shall we?" Reading the shapes that had formed through the divination she was able to make a prediction about what might transpire tonight...

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  #49  
Old Jan 26th, 2021, 11:12 AM
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Heliae Eshe
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"Do you know of others with such gifts, who might take the form of any happenstance creature to pass unseen in plain sight, like so many servants among nobles? Perhaps, say... as a jackal?"

Heliae felt a strange swell inside them at the old woman’s comments. Gifted…blessed omen… oracle. They had been called many things, but not usually something so flattering. If the young druid was not so intentionally stoic, they might have beamed with a touch of pride. Instead, a small, half-smile spread. “I have before, and could certainly take the form of a jackal and slid among them. However, it does take a toll on one’s body.. the rearranging and upending of both inside and out. I would need a brief rest in order to pass among the jackals with any true authenticity. If it’s what the group requires, I would just need a few hours to clear my mind and perhaps sleep.” They paused then, remembering the true question asked, briefly embarrassed for letting the compliments distract them. “Yes, there are others like me. We have many names and come in all forms. I learned the skill from –" Another pause from the druid, who took a long sip from their water and brushed their long, black bangs from their face.

How to explain the relationship to Ruby? And her gifts had been largely unknown, at least until adulthood. She had been far more than a keep or a master. She was a friend, surely, and the two could have easily been lovers if circumstances had been different. Ruby was the only family Heliae had known.

“I learned many skills from my former master, Rubia Zemanthe. She was so gifted with her ability to listen to and learn from the desert and was gracious and generous enough to teach me her practice. However, not all can learn. It is less of a skill and more of a gift.”

Heliae graciously accepted the salve from Haemon, his reprimand not unnoticed, but not entirely unwarranted either. Heliae had been in the same skin their entire life, they knew to take care. The physician spoke directly to Heliae then, "Are you able to talk to others of your kind when you wear an animal’s shape, Heliae? If not, we could just take turns to watch over her, especially during the night."

They applied the salve to their burns, and instant relief radiated as cooling wave along the crimson patches of skin. “My ability to communicate with creatures depends on many factors. I know of some with similar abilities to my own that can do so reliably. That’s not been the case for me, as of yet. Every game I've played in it's up to the DM whether or not the druid can chit chat with animals. I'll leave that to you, Wyn.I can certainly make an effort, though. I can also make it possible for others to pass by the jackals with me, Could cast pass without trace?undetected.”

Heliae made their way over to their belongings in the corner of the room and began to remove a bedroll from their pack. They looked over their shoulder to the group “if I am to take another shape today, I must rest.”
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  #50  
Old Jan 27th, 2021, 10:52 PM
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Dunyazad
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"But so few in number, and without a means to communicate across long distances, should we not at least travel in pairs? Perhaps we separate only into two: one group to remain with Lady Ismene, and another group to search for jackals. After the hunt, perhaps the hunters return, and whether the groups are reassigned in any manner, perhaps a group still remains on the estate grounds while the others go to speak with the families of the missing. None travel alone, none are apart for too long, and a presence is maintained here," Dunyazad thought aloud. Dividing themselves would cover more ground, to be sure. But she was no warrior and preferred to not find herself in danger alone if they could just as easily be otherwise.

"I certainly prefer to remain here, if it is all the same. The endless dunes have long called for me but old knees don't bend and stretch fast enough for running down jackals; I am better suited for hunting predators much closer to the nobilium... such as elusive dust bunnies... Though should the group see a better fit elsewhere, I am humble before a greater service to our cause," she bowed her head, pleased with both her suggestion as well as the somber delivery of her joke. "Besides, there are several myths detailing guardians outsmarting tricksters -- as well as tricksters outsmarting guardians -- they may be of great use here: Qinmenor of the Third Gate, Bulut the Patient Wind, Obde the Ever-Seeing, yes, hmm..." The slow-talking Dunyazad went on to detail several ideas for taking shifts and proper preparation among the estates' guardians:
  • "Irregular and overlapping shifts of the guards, to be pulled from other sentry duties, ready to widen and extend the other watches as needed. Though, only their captain should know of when and for how long such watches over her Ladyship will be. Even then, whomever of us remains on watch here will visit the captain periodically, irregularly, and call for changes to the watch as well.”

  • "Instructions to the guards to watch for wildlife: mammals and snakes and birds. Even bugs. Catch them all, with cages and sacks, to offer to the Domantine augurs for sacrifice, or if such shaping-magicks last for only so long as you say, talented Heliae, for at least several hours before releasing."

  • "Those of our numbers who remain here might sleep in shifts, and while awake, keep with them a servant, pulled at random with every shift, to serve as a runner in danger.

  • "We check with the guards and the captain periodically, and again with the other of our group upon exchanging shifts."

  • "And the guards should be equipped with nets, if not already done so. Extra nets equipped at the watches around and above Lady Ismene's quarters."

  • "Hmph," She grinned. "The simplest of traps to outsmart even Halspard of the halfling legends: no magic, no pressure plates, no sliding doors, but simple bells on string. Just out of sight from Her Ladyship's windows should be enough without any constant visual reminder to her."

  • "To be able to detect arcane energies and divine intervention will be valuable in Her Ladyship's watch, though... I suppose it would be invaluable when hunting for desert changelings as well... Should anyone have any warding or alarming magicks, those might be cast before departing on whichever path to which we are taken."

  • "It might do for us to keep a change of Ismene's sleeping gowns -- something billowy and covering. She likely wouldn't miss one or two pairs... Hmm..."
The old woman peered off at that thought, running through unknown scenarios in her head filled with further guile and traps. That she rattled off a handful of defensive tactics, whether effective or not, was somehow unbecoming of a small-statured old maid like herself.

She couldn't help, though, but peer back to looming Applecore as she constructed her mechanism for divination. "Rods instead of bones...? String instead of hair...? How very clever, little Applecore, to maintain the ways..." Dunyazad smiled wide, tenderly, but said nothing.


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Last edited by cottontailwind; Jan 28th, 2021 at 08:46 AM.
  #51  
Old Jan 31st, 2021, 03:01 PM
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The planAfter some discussion, the group appears to agree that the the immediate safety of Ismene comes first. The presence of jackals on the estate is, at the least, a disturbing incursion. More than a few of them wonder if there is something more.

Applecore does more than wonder: she inquires. Laying out the divination tools of her order, she appeals to her goddess. Is there wisdom in pursuing the jackals as a means of uncovering the mysterious disappearances? The ineffable sight of the gods is always a hard thing to bear, much less comprehend. Yet a rare sense of surety comes over that Applecore. Or an unmixed "weal" in the categories that Augury offersYes. That is enough for her. The jackals must be pursued.

The group beds down early, so that they can rotate their watches and remain vigilant throughout the night.
OODMYou may all consider yourselves to have taken a long rest when you...

Join me, please, in Scene 2: https://www.rpgcrossing.com/showthread.php?p=9039127
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