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Old 10-08-2018, 07:38 PM
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The Breaking of Exandria: Part 1


ProloguePrologue:

Near the floor of the Lucidian Ocean...

Clinging to the side of the diving sperm whale, Dhimas Alornath peered down into the darkness ahead. Virtually no sunlight penetrated this far below the surface. The pressure of the water was so immense at this depth that few humanoids could venture here. There weren’t many Tritons who would even attempt it. But as one of his people’s Deepwardens, Dhimas had trained his body to survive brief visits to the ocean floor.

As the last rays of light yielded to the permanent darkness of the depths, Dhimas reached into his satchel and removed a golden metal tube with a polished sphere at one end. He struck the sphere against the haft of his trident with a tinny clang that was muted by the water. The sphere glowed, dimly at first, but quickly became too bright to look at directly. The huge pupil of Dhimas’ sperm whale mount contracted in response. Dhimas patted the beast’s side in a gesture of thanks before pushing off and kicking his legs to propel himself further down toward the sea bottom. The whale altered its dive to begin the long ascent back to the surface to take a breath. It was quickly out of sight in the darkness beyond the sunrod’s reach.

The barren rock and sand of the sea floor became dimly visible as Dhimas dove, kicking powerfully with his webbed legs and feet. He surveyed the landscape below and his grim expression darkened further. Stoic even by Triton standards, Dhimas was troubled by what he saw. He could read the sands of the ocean floor as well as an elf could read the forests, and something was wrong here. Unnatural patterns became apparent to him as he continued on, tightening his grip on the trident.

Movement at the edge of the darkness interrupted Dhimas’ thoughts. A finned tail disappeared behind a rock formation ahead. Dhimas scanned along the rock, waiting for the creature to emerge. When it rounded the far end of the outcropping, Dhimas’ tension eased. A many-gilled shark curved toward him. Just a scavenger searching for a carcass to feed on. Something about the way it approached caused Dhimas’ gaze to linger. Suddenly the creature rushed toward him in a burst of speed, its mouth opening wide to expose rows of flesh-rending teeth less than an arms-length away!

Instinctively, Dhimas brought his trident up in a practiced movement. Clenching his teeth, he drove the three points into the exposed ventral skin of the shark! The beast thrashed madly, nearly pulling the trident from Dhimas’ grasp. The jerking motions cast the shark free of the weapon. Dhimas expected it to flee, but instead it lunged toward him again, snapping its jaws violently! Dhimas thrust forward with the trident once more, burying the central point in the brain of the beast. The strength of the attack faded, but the jaws continued to snap open and closed until finally the shark was still. The mad eyes rolled backward into the head and the shark fell free of the trident, drifting downward and leaving a trail of blood and broken flesh floating after it.

Dhimas moved away. He’d never seen a many-gill behave that way. They weren’t frenzied predators. He hadn’t even believed they could move so fast. He gave a nod of respect for the creature’s spirit and continued on, diving deeper to follow the slope of the ocean floor.

Something in the water began to taste foul. Dhimas noticed it intermittently, catching some scent of metal or decay here and there. But it gradually became pervasive, almost sickening him. He turned his head away and felt a small current of cleaner water wash over his face. Strange. There should be no current down here. But something was definitely drawing the water forward. Dhimas stopped swimming and allowed himself to feel the movement of the water. It pulled him along with it, almost imperceptibly at first, but with building strength.

Then he saw it. The fissure in the rock. A great rending wound on the ocean floor. Dhimas had seen volcanic vents and seismic trenches before. This was neither. The surrounding floor was littered with debris, as if the bedrock had exploded violently. But there was no molten rock, no hissing gouts of steam. And it was cold. So cold.

Now the water was pulling him toward the fissure at an alarming rate. Dhimas kicked his legs against the current but he was still being drawn in. In desperation he dropped the trident and tucked the sunrod into his belt so that he could pull with his arms as well. The temperature plummeted even more dramatically, making his limbs lose feeling and threatening to freeze his very blood. His movements felt sluggish and labored. His neck gills started to freeze as the icy water flowed through them. Dhimas stopped breathing but continued to fight against the powerful water. His heart pounded frantically as his muscles expended the last of the oxygen in his blood.

Dhimas was barely moving by the time he was carried over the lip of the fissure, and down. Deeper down into water so cold it should have been frozen solid. The light from the sunrod showed an ever-narrowing trench, the walls of rock moving faster and faster upward as Dhimas was borne down into the bowels of the world.

And then the walls were no longer rock. Jagged ice surrounded him on all sides, tearing at his flesh when the water dragged him against it. Until finally, barely conscious and bloodied from a thousand wounds, Dhimas was expelled from the ice tube.

The violent movement became a gentle floating as the water released him. He was drifting, not in water, but in a vast nothingness. His eyes were freezing over but he could still see the ice tube he had just emerged from, like a beautiful inverted cathedral with a geyser of sea water bursting from its roof.

Dhimas floated in the empty space, surrounded by frozen globules of water. And beyond them...stars! Billions of points of light in a never-ending Void. It was magnificent!

With the last of his conscious thought, Dhimas perceived a huge form moving towards him. A skeletal creature with rows of glowing eyes and hundreds of needle-like teeth, tendrils whipping to the sides of its massive body. Somehow, it spoke to him. Alien words that pulsated inside his brain, breaking the last grip of sanity.

Dhimas smiled. And died.


 

Last edited by 4eyedBadger; 10-08-2018 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 10-13-2018, 04:18 AM
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The Year Eight Hundred Thirteen, Post DivergenceThe summer sun stood high above eastern Tal’Dorei, burning the last of the morning clouds from the Summit Peaks of the Lucidian Coast. Squawking seabirds returned to their mountain nests, bellies full of fish from a morning spent diving into the nearby ocean.

Between these peaks and that ocean was a sprawling strip of land, filled with brackish water where runoff from the mountains met seawater pushed inland by the tides. Something about this combination produced the dense vegetation of the K’Tawl Swamp. Even the noon sun couldn’t burn all the mists that roiled below that canopy.

Nestled in a coastal harbor at the south end of the K’Tawl was the small city of Stilben. These few hundred buildings huddled together against the sea from which it took its livelihood. Large ships sat at anchor a little ways off the shore, waiting their turns at the docks where their holds were emptied of wares from the distant ports of Wildemount, and filled again with the varied products of Tal’Dorei. Small fishing vessels plied the waters to the north and south.

The city’s streets were veins of activity at this hour, as the lifeblood of commerce moved back and forth through them. The fishmongers and bakers pushed their carts past all manner of shops providing daily sundries. Blacksmiths and carpenters fashioned parts for ships and carts, while priests stood in front of their temples, telling passers-by of the tenets of their faith.

Through this bustle of activity, a young human boy of about ten moved quickly from seedy area to seedier area within the city. Thin of build but with keen eyes and a mop of unkempt brown hair, the boy ducked into this tavern or that alley, apparently looking for somebody.

Or several somebodies, as it turned out, for he stopped to talk to several of the less savory figures in each location; a half-orc girl with an angry scowl, a dirty man with a wicked-looking hammer resting across his broad shoulders, a cloaked man with one hand, a shadowy stranger who kept to himself, a small woman with a mop of curls and strange ears under a bold hat, one of the reptile men from across the sea, and a stout, smiling woman in the act of pouring ales from one of the small casks she carried. Each time the boy’s eyes marked one of them, he approached, spoke to them for a bit, and then moved off to find his next mark, occasionally stealing a pie or an apple from a cart with a practiced young hand...

OOCThe boy is Pol Venner. You recognize him as one of the urchins who run errands for members of The Clasp and he brings a message to each of you.

Talia Cat
 

Cyprian Thoros
 

Ada Proudwind
 

Verdigris
 

Confire Tenpenny
 

Bellamy “Doc” Hannan
 

Ronald Devyn
 

OOCYou all know “The Muck” to be the Stuck in the Muck Tavern and Inn, a three story structure on the waterfront with its own dock. It’s nicer than the name implies and it’s become kind of the unofficial hangout for The Clasp lately.

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Old 10-13-2018, 07:27 AM
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Confire TenpennyConfire ruffled Pol’s head, mostly because he knew how much the boy hated that.

"No thanks, kid. Maybe you should give that bread to Bella or that other little blonde girl, wassername?"

The boy looked angry for just a second, then a wicked grin spread across his face.

"Maybe Meela would like it, huh?" he said and then darted away into the crowd.

Confire growled and went to give chase, he’d better not talk about my daughter like that! But before he could even get all the way to his feet he saw that stinking pile of gator-dung, Dhogol, sauntering over. Confire tried desperately to keep his hatred in check and adopted a bored expression as he settled back down to his meal.

"What’d the boy want Tenpenny?" he asked, and just as Confire was about to answer something mild and inoffensive he followed up with his dig, "Or should I say Fivepenny!?"

Confire could feel his crystal glowing bright and warm against his heart. It wanted him to unleash its power. He wanted to unleash its power. But he kept his temper under control. Even with this new power he would need to be cautious, at least for now. Instead he just contented himself with an angry stare.

"Whatever it was, you’d best watch yourself, Connie. I’d hate to see you lapping up your food from a bowl like all the other mongrels." the dwarf said before walking away. Confire’s blood was boiling. More than anything he wanted to overturn the table and turn that stinking dwarf into a pile of ash. He glanced around the room, noting the people who were watching his humiliation. You’ll all get yours, soon. Oh, just wait and see.

He forced himself to wait for five minutes after the dwarf left the bar and then he paid off his tab, leaving a big tip for the staff, making sure everyone could see just how unconcerned he was with everything that had happened. He took one last look around before leaving, making eye contact with anyone looking his way, a cold grin on his face.

I’ll own this town soon, he thought, but I’ll need some help.

He stepped out onto The Wynd and lingered in the doorway for a moment as he gauged the crowd. There were at least twenty people around, fairly busy for a small road in this small city. Confire adopted his friendly demeanour and nodded at anyone looking his way.

This is how the politicians do it he thought, building up the goodwill one brick at a time.

He wandered slowly towards the docks, taking the busiest route, all the better to show off his fancy new clothes.

Yes, Stilben. This is the brand new Confire Tenpenny here. You’ll be seeing a lot more of him.

As he walked he wondered what Shelley might want. She was cautious by nature and never broke her own rule about running too many jobs too close together so it couldn’t be another run. The last one had been particularly successful, maybe she wants to celebrate? Maybe she has more important duties for Confire? Maybe she wants to bring him into the Clasp proper?

Confire mulled over the idea as he turned onto Port Street and looked down the hill to the harbour. Just a week ago the idea of joining the Clasp would have been the most exciting thing he could think of. But now, with Dispater in his corner, it was a means to an end at best. He stepped into Moson’s Bakery to pick up two half-dozen packs of sweet buns and then continued down Port Street.

The best thing about joining the Clasp, he mused, would be learning their secrets. If I knew who all the movers in the city were I could be more certain in my plans. And the more allies I have to do my dirty work the better.

He made another quick stop in the stables at the bottom of Port Street and then made his way over to the Watch Station. It turned out to be Rawling, the new boy, holding the fort. Confire grinned at the boy and presented one of the batches of sweet buns.

"You boys do such good work, and it rarely gets rewarded," he said, feigning sincerity, then paused looking embarrassed, "And I’ve given you all so much trouble too. I wanted to make up for it, at least a bit. Please share these with your colleagues. I’ll bring more whenever I can."

"I, uh, I don’t think…" said Rawling, ever eloquent.

"Please, I need to do this. It’s for my daughter, as much as anything. I need to make a change, and that includes making up for any past, uh, transgressions."

The boy looked relieved. He took the package and glanced inside.

"Okay Connie," he said, the nickname prompting a flickering frown on Confire’s face, "I’ll see that everyone gets some. And Connie?" he paused, looking Confire in the eye with an earnest expression on his face, "This is a really good thing you’re doing. If you ever need anyone to, you know, talk with? Let me know."

Confire couldn’t look away from the boy’s eager puppy dog expression. For a moment he didn’t know what to say. Does this child actually believe he could give me advice? He broke eye contact just before it got too weird and patted the boy on the hand.

"Thank you. That means a lot."

And with that final lie he walked back out into the street, heading now for The Muck. I hope I didn’t put too much horse-dung in those buns, he thought, if he tastes it he probably won’t give one to Dhogol.

He clutched the other pack, the buns he hadn’t contaminated, close to his chest as he walked, convinced that he was now on the road of Fate.

 

Last edited by Lazer; 10-13-2018 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 10-13-2018, 08:22 AM
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Ronald ‘One-Bone’ Devyn
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When Pol finds Ron, the broad, ugly man is doing his second most favorite thing in the whole universe. He is sitting by the docks on an old bench, doing absolutely nothing. Not even thinking about something. That wouldn’t be close to his second favorite thing in the whole universe. No, he’s sitting on the bench, doing nothing at all. And he’s been doing it all morning. He did it for most of the previous day before. Because for a change, Ron has a bulging purse and nobody calling on him to do work.

He is interrupted when Pol finds him. When the boy excitedly tells him he’s been practicing, Ron stiffly gets up, leaving Ronda leaning against the half-rotted bench. He fakes a small grimace when the lad punches him in the stomach. “Good. But use your hips more. Your skinny arms are weak. Swing from the hip,” he says, grabbing the boy by the hips and showing him how to twist to generate more power. “Punch low in the gut like that,” he says, allowing the boy to punch him again, “and when that Hollins-kid bends over you step in and give him the old elbow to the face,” he says nodding sagely. “Once he’s down, just kick him until he stops squirming. It sends a message to everyone. Don’t mess with Pol. That’s the message,” he happily explains.

He listens carefully when Pol tells him about a good spot to spy on the local house of ill repute. He’ll have to remember that later. He doesn’t always have the coin to get women so ogling them through the windows is a good plan when he’s broke again. His face breaks into a grin again as he thinks about this, so he doesn’t hear Pol when he continues speaking.

“Huh? What was that?” he asks, and Pol obligingly repeats himself. ”The Muck? Why? Do you know what’s up? Are they putting together a crew or is it a knee-job? Come on, tell me, who else are you telling to come?” he asks, grabbing the boy by the wrist to prevent him from running off.

OOC
 

 
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:03 AM
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Pol and Ron
Quote:
”The Muck? Why? Do you know what’s up? Are they putting together a crew or is it a knee-job? Come on, tell me, who else are you telling to come?” he asks, grabbing the boy by the wrist to prevent him from running off.
Pol tried to wriggle away but Ron’s big hands were just too strong! "Ouch! Hey, C’mon Ron, let go! You know she doesn’t tell me anything important! I’ll tell you who’s coming but that’s all I know." Pol told Ron who else he was giving the message to. He also made sure to remember not to stand so close to Ron next time he had a message to give him.


OOCPol said he was told to give you seven the message. He didn’t mention anybody else.
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Old 10-13-2018, 11:53 AM
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Ronald ‘One-Bone’ Devyn
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Ron peers at Pol for a moment before releasing his wrist. People tend to underestimate his speed. He has a reputation for being strong and tough, but the speed can often surprise people. “Okay, so you don’t know what’s up, right?” he confirms, only to have Pol nod and get out of there quickly.

“Wait!” he shouts to Pol. He gets his pouch and fishes out a silver coin. He tosses it to the boy without a comment. Little people have to eat too.

Ron sits back down on the bench and peers at the sun. It’s nearly down. No wonder he’s feeling hungry. He’s been here most of the day. Grunting, he reaches for his massive hammer and gets up. If they want him at the Muck, they are probably going to feed him.

As he walks over to the tavern, he thinks about the others Pol mentioned. Some he knows, others he’s pretty sure he’s heard of, but some of the names are unfamiliar to him. He frowns as he walks, pushing his way through a crowd of people that has inexplicably stopped in the middle of the street. The sad fact is that he has no idea why he would be called to a meeting with those five or six people Pol mentioned. And rather than spending energy thinking about it he simply enters the Muck to get someone to tell him.

OOC
 

 
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Old 10-13-2018, 07:56 PM
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Cyprian ThorosPeople watching. It was a very informative pastime. Bits of conversation, expressions, body language, inflections of voice and, most of all, what was left unexpressed. That last skill was the single most important one that had saved his life more than once.

His mind was usually a cascading stream of captured details, analyzing and categorizing the information. Right now though, Cyprian contented himself by not thinking. He didn’t allow himself to think about hidden emotions of the couple walking past. He kept himself from drifting away to the conversation between friends standing a few yards away.
Instead, he sat solitary among a stack of crates that haven’t moved since being unloaded, and his focus was on a father and son sitting on the pier with their backs to him. The father was teaching his son how to tie a hook to a line. Cyprian centered in on the gestures and clothing of his subjects as he sketched their impression onto a page.

The leatherbound book he was working in was being slowly filled with charcoal scenes of people in the area. Each one was roughed out as he was satisfied to only spend a handful of minutes on each. He was halfway finished with the newest sketch when thunderous footsteps bounded toward him. His heart rate spiked. Muscles tensed. He was ready to spring. He nearly reached for his dagger but stopped. He relaxed his grip when he saw Pol darting up the pier towards him.

Gods damned kid. You’d think he had lead strapped to his feet.

The boy’s speed faltered and he gingerly walked forward the last few paces. Cyprian’s analytical mind came flooding back even as Pol said, “There’s a meeting tonight at The Muck. Dinnertime, okay?”

There was an uncomfortable lull as Cyprian found himself filtering away information. The subtle indicators of fear always starts with the eyebrows, raising and furrowing in a single movement. Corners of the lips would pull back toward the ears, almost making the mouth flat. It didn’t take much for anyone to know Pol was afraid, but it was facts Cyprian looked for.

“Shelly said. Not me.” Pol added, licking his lips when Cyprian hadn’t responded.

“Names. Who will be there?” Cyprian asked as he retrieved the charcoal pencil he had dropped. The assassin’s voice was a crisp, lifeless baritone.

Pol’s feet shifted at his question. In response, Cyprian fixed him with a sharp look. The boy froze in place, unable to flee under his glare. Pol gave away the names in rapid succession of who else got the same message. The boy was awarded a silver piece, tossed in his direction as Cyprian stood. It took Pol by surprise but he was able to catch it.
Cyprian strode away toward The Muck after that, having seen in the corner of his eye that the subjects of his sketch had left.

Any sort of infiltration was based on word-of-mouth and money. It wasn’t his first time positioning himself into a small town, so he knew how they worked. He know how people worked. Money opened a lot of possibilities down the line.

Now that he traveled through backstreets and out of sight, he allowed himself a moment of immense irritation at his situation.

I swear to the gods if she puts on another extortion run, I will likely stab someone. His eyes narrowed into hateful slits. I have sent noble houses into ruin. If I have to babysit a shipment one more time...

After those irritable thoughts, he put it out of his mind. A job was a job and he'd get it done.
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Old 10-14-2018, 05:05 AM
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Finally, a moment's rest, thought Bellamy as she parked herself in the furthest corner of Martha's bar. The bar was one of the cheapest in the city, and she'd taken to coming here when she wanted to get away from poor mothers with fevered children. She'd been in Stilben for near on twenty-five moons now, but word had finally seem to gotten out that her healing talents and she'd found herself swamped with work as of late.

"I should raise my rates..." She grumbles to herself. Before her was a book, The Broken Body, written by a monk of The Cobalt Soul by the name of Noitre. She'd been intrigued when she found the book among piles of used goods while browsing in one of Stilben's many dingy stores, and pleasantly surprised when a casual flip through its worn brown pages revealed a fascinating examination of the mortal anatomy.

In one hand she held her head as she leaned over the book on its place on the worn wooden bar top and in the other she held a slowly burning roll of paper holding her personal mixture of dried herbs. Every so often she would bring it to her lips as she contemplated her reading, releasing a cloud of aromatic smoke from her nostrils. She was quite comfortable to stay here in solitude for the rest of the day.

That's why when the child Pol somehow managed to find her, it was only with great reluctance that she acknowledged him and the summons that was his message.

"Tell Lanky that if he continues to apply to salve I gave him, at quite a discount I might add, and stays off his feet like I told him, he should be right and getting up to his usual foolishness in no time," Bellamy says without looking up from her book. Lanky was around her age, but humans aged more slowly in body and mind. The youth was a true adolescent, stupidly attempting to capture a swamp lizard to impress some silly Stilben girl with his bravery. Instead he ended up with a chunk taken out of his flesh and a leg full of venom. "And if he wanted the teeth, he could've picked them out himself."

She nods and sighs at the mention of Shelly's name, taking a deep drag of her herbs and turning the page.

"Noted," Bellamy says simply. She would be there later. The Spireling's work, when offered directly like this, tended to be more lucrative and certainly more interesting than another shifty thug bearing some variety of stab wound. Finally the half-orc looks up from her book and fixes the child with withering stare, "Now go on and
Dice Intimidation:
1d20+1 (16)+1 Total = 17
don't tell anyone you found me here.
"
The last thing she needed was for patients to bother her in her hiding spot too.


OOC
 

Last edited by Vislands; 10-14-2018 at 05:08 AM.
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Old 10-14-2018, 09:40 AM
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Verdigris
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Verdigris sat on a rickety old wooden pier on the north-western edge of Stilben. He'd agreed to wait 'in town', and this was technically still part of Stilben, no matter how hard the K'Tawl swamp was trying to reclaim it. At this precise moment, he is dangling his feet off the side of the pier, with his toes wiggling in the greenish water. Methodically, he picks apart a stale load of bread, crumbling it up and feeding it to the fish gathered around.

Verdigris looks up at the boy's approach, waving back in a slightly uncertain, stilted fashion. He was about to respond to the invitation, but by the time he was ready, Pol's mind had already moved on. Words flowed from this one like waves crashing upon the shore, and like waves it was hard to tell where one thought ended and the next began. Once the stream of questions finally ended, the dragonborn did his best to respond.

"I will be there for dinner, thank you for your warning about Bace's father. I would not want Shelley to be mad at him because I failed to appear. But I do not wish to eat Raef Hollins, he is far too skinny and stringy to be very tasty. Whatever food is being prepared for the others will be fine, I am sure."

It is an unusually long speech for Verdigris, spoken in a careful, measured pace as he fully forms and enunciates each word, wrapping his reptilian mouth around the unfamiliar sounds. He remains seated for a moment longer as he watches Pol rush off to deliver the next message. Dinner time is a nebulous concept, but there is still time. Verdigris attempts to return to his earlier contemplations, feeding the fish, but his concentration had been broken by Pol's message, and now he cannot stop thinking about it. With a sigh, he rises to his feet and tosses the rest of the loaf into the water whole.

He turns towards Stilben proper and considers his path to the Muck. He did not like the stares that his walks through the town generated. Draconia was now a free and open country, so his kind were not so rare as to illicit panic or confusion. But curiosity, of that there was plenty, and Verdigris had felt it weigh upon him during his previous journeys to the Muck. Today he did not feel up to it. Staring at the streets and waterways that sliced through the town, Verdigris concentrated on his desire to be small and unnoticed. The magic was within him and all around, he just had to reach out to it.

A small brown rat scurries along the streets of Stilben. It clings close to walls and overhangs, trying to stay out of sight. It is not the only rat around, but it seems oddly focused as it moves with a purpose and singular direction, passing by food on its way. It is so focused on its journey that it never noticed Bathsheba, the foul tempered and deadly huntress that prowls the small, dark corners of Stilben. She follows the rat for a moment, then there is a sudden burst of speed, flashing claws and sharp teeth close on the rat, snuffing it out in an instant.

With a sigh, Verdigris looks down at the very surprised cat who is quite disgruntled to suddenly have a mouthful of dragon scales instead of juicy rat. Quietly detaching Bathsheba from his arm, he drops her to the ground and looks around the alleyway. At least nobody saw. Musing on the benefits of his natural form, he steps out onto the main street again, enduring for now the curiosity of the townsfolk as he continues his journey to the Muck as he is.

Last edited by hafrogman; 10-14-2018 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 10-14-2018, 02:23 PM
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Ada
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Ada smiled as they finished reciting the prayer, "...and may we rest in Elysium eternal. His will be done." She opened her eyes and noted that Pol was already getting up to leave. No matter, we all find our way as walk life's journey.

"Pol," she said as she reached into a belt pouch, "make sure to thank to the Dawnfather tonight and stay outta trouble. Once you're a bit older I'll teach you how to make your own. Stilben could use a brewer that knows how to craft a proper red ale." She tossed him a silver piece as she stood. "I'll be there," she added. The lad scampered off, presumably on his next task or a separate quest for sweets.

Quaffing the dregs of her tankard, she reattached it to her belt and adjusted her pack. Hopefully this will be a task that can free the Gartners from their debt. I'd love to pay it all now, but that might leave me unable to help anyone anytime soon.. As she strolled through the markets towards the Puddle Frog tavern, she stopped at a few of her favorite stalls to stock up on brewing ingredients. Just a sealed jar of hops, some yeasts, and a small bag of barley. One gold piece in all, but an extra silver for the keep who always stocked her requests and had a brand-new baby girl to feed. "That silver is for your daughter, Remus. Make sure you all have some fresh greens or fruit tonight.. my treat."

The Puddle Frog was a warm spot in a marshy town, one that Ada frequented for the hot food and excellent brew. The owner had a secret recipe for a brown lager that used a rare root from the marshes. Ada had never gotten the name of the plant out of him, but maybe she'd pop in tomorrow for a visit. Perhaps some extra silver will loosen his tongue.. that or a strong barley wine.. As she sat to eat, she scribbled out some ideas for a new recipe. As the sun began to sink in the sky, Ada left some copper on the table and waved goodbye to the owner.

Stopping in at the Gartners, she dropped off a gold piece as their dinner money. The father, Roland, stared at Ada with his mouth agape. She smiled, "I have a good feeling about this week Mr. Gartner. You all eat hearty tonight." After hugging most of the family, she started in the direction of the Muck. Stretching the aches out of her arms and shaking out her legs, she trudged down the sidewalk toward the meeting place. "Our Lord of Morning.. Bringer of the Day.."


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Last edited by AmonBlackwood; 10-16-2018 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 10-14-2018, 03:41 PM
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Talia
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Talia only raised an eyebrow at Pol as he said what he came to say and then ran off, fearing he had offended her in some way.

Actually, what he had said was preposterous as she didn't think there were actually any of the werekind she was supposed to be descended from anywhere on these lands, and a normal cat, hair or no, like he mentioned was far from a Shifter.

She watched him go and was about to get some lunch when the local drunks made a crude remark in her direction.

With one hand on the pommel of her Rapier, and the other using her cane as any upright citizen on a stroll would, she closed on them, but kept a good dash distance away as she
Dice Intimidation:
1d20+2 (10)+2 Total = 12
Dice Deception:
1d20+4 (11)+4 Total = 15
said with a smile, "Do you really want to address a known associate of the one nickname of one of the bands of the local thieves guildRiver Rats in that manner? And if you do, please get some more clever insults. Your attire and foul stench alone are enough to have most ignore anything spoken from the lot of you."

No matter what they replied, if anything, she'd
Dice Stealth:
1d20+10 (5)+10 Total = 15
slip off into the crowds and alleyways and head to a favorite food vendor that served up morsels on a skewer. She'd get one with some kind of fowl or another with some roasted vegetables and eat it on the way to her... place of rest.

Her place of rest was an abandoned overseers office up in the rafters in a long term storage warehouse on the docks. Even the means of access by some crude stairs had long since been taken down
It took some
Dice Acrobatics:
1d20+5 (12)+5 Total = 17
acrobatic talent and some
Dice Stealth:
1d20+10 (16)+10 Total = 26
stealth to get there safely and without being seen. Aided by her cane and dagger as a brace in the rafters when needed, she finally got to her place.

She gathered her gear, took a nap, and then went to the place of meeting at the appropriate time. She didn't take the nap out of laziness, but out of preparedness since she didn't know how long she'd have to be awake after the meeting - a hazard of the kind of work she did.

 
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Last edited by Drachenspirit; 10-14-2018 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:37 PM
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The Stuck in the Muck Tavern and InnThe sun is low above the swamps to the west and the night mists are already rising from the waters. It looks like a busy night at The Muck, and a mostly-full common room can be seen through the front doors as patrons come and go. Men and women are standing outside talking and laughing in small groups, and the incoming tide can be heard lapping at the wooden pillars of the dock below.

Stepping through the front doors, the steady din of lively conversation fills the ear, and the hustle-and-bustle of serving girls moving among the tables with trays of food and drink draws the eye. Smells of sizzling fish filets and hearty oyster soups are heavy in the air. It’s a warm night and the dual fireplaces are set with small fires for light and comfort only. Oil lamps hanging at intervals on the walls chase the rest of the shadows from the large room.

Working the bar and constantly brushing an unruly lock of hair from her forehead is Karel Ophena. The pretty half-elf woman has run The Muck for a few years now, since shortly after arriving in town with her son, Velt, in tow. The six year-old boy can occasionally be seen peeking out from the banister at the top of the stairs, but his mother is quick to shoo him back to their rooms. Karel treats her Clasp customers with the same hospitality she gives all her guests, but she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want young Velt taking after them too closely.

In the far corner of the room, seated at the largest table, is Addison Shelley. Not really pretty by most standards, Stilben’s Spireling of Shadows has an air of competence around her that some might find attractive. Her slightly graying hair is pulled back into a tight braid that runs down to her midback. Always impeccably dressed, the wise observer would suspect that she had more than one dagger concealed in the fabric folds of her jacketed dress. While no one calls her “Silent Shelley” any longer, the nickname she earned as the favored protegé of the Spireling of Blades is still an apt one.

The barrel-chested man standing next to Shelley’s chair is Ames Cueller. If he ever did smile, nobody would see it beneath those giant grey mustaches. As her dinner invitees begin to arrive, Shelley hands Ames a scroll. "I leave it to you, Ames. See to it." With an informal nod, Ames takes the scroll and walks out of The Muck, shouldering aside a skinny fisherman who was too slow or too drunk to get out of the way.

Looking up briefly, Shelley gestures the arriving guests over as she carefully arranges a white cloth napkin in her own lap. The table has places set already and large trays, plates, and ladeled bowls are filled with bread rolls, cheeses, fish soups, potatoes and mushrooms, even buttered lobster. Pitchers of ale and bottles of wine are spaced around the table.

"Please, sit down," Shelley greets you all with a formal smile. "I thought we’d eat family-style this evening. Help yourselves. If you want something else just ask, but the lobster is very much in season."

OOCOver the next half hour or so, Shelley deliberately encourages a lively conversation and casual atmosphere at the table. She brushes off any talk of business or questions about why you are all there. As the wine and ale flow, she visibly relaxes and her practiced laugh becomes more natural. It’s not until after the meal that she begins to turn the conversation toward the business at hand.

Addison Shelley sighs and pushes her mostly empty plate away from her. She refills her wine glass and waits while empty dishes are cleared and cakes, fruits and puddings are laid out for them. She does not serve herself any of the desserts but waits patiently as everyone around the table gets their fill. When the serving girls have left them, she leans forward and waits for the table to grow quiet, although the room around them is still filled with the noise of the other patrons.

"I need you all to make the K’Tawl run tonight." She glances around the table to take in the varied reactions, or non-reactions. "But this run is about more than just cargo. Last week Trympa and Forver took a shipment into the swamp. They’re three days overdue getting back."

Abigael Trympa and Del Forver may as well have been an old married couple for all their bickering. But they have been a reliable smuggling team for years. Shelley continued, "Before you ask, they weren’t Lambs," referring to the occasional low-value shipment that was pre-arranged to be intercepted by the Waterwatch. That practice, and some well-placed coin, usually ensured that the other shipments got through unmolested. "Their cargo was actually quite valuable. We’d like it back. But even more than that, we take care of each other. If they’re in trouble in the swamp, I owe it to them to send help. That’s why I’ve called on so many of you. I don’t know what might have happened to them out there, but I want to be sure to send enough resources to handle it. You’ll take two boats, plus a small amount of cargo that has arrived since they left. If you find Trympa and Forver, help them complete the run. Make the drop at Saltend Wharf, and get back here with the payment and a report. If we have to find a new route, I want to know sooner rather than later. Now, it’s three days to Saltend, three days back. I expect to see you in a week. If I don’t hear from you, I can’t afford to send more boats and members after you, so I’ll make it worth your while. The run normally pays twenty gold each. I’ll double that, payable when you get back."

Shelley takes another sip of her wine while she waits for what she just said to sink in. She puts the glass down. "Now, this job’s about more than money." She glances at Cyprian. "For some of you, this is your first real chance to prove your worth to the organization." Her gaze shifts to Confire. "For others, this is your last." She looks down briefly and then back up at the group, "I won’t falsely flatter you. I won’t even deny that some of you were chosen for this precisely because you are somewhat expendable to the organization at the moment. But I wouldn’t send you into possible danger if I didn’t have some measure of confidence in your abilities." Shelley retrieves a small sealed brass tube from her waistpocket and passes it to Ada, "Your manifest, to be delivered with the cargo. If there are no questions, Ames will meet you downstairs at the boats in an hour."

OOCI’ll stop here to allow for any interactions, bits of dinner conversation, questions, insight checks, etc. that you’d like to make. This is an optional post. If you have any last minute business before you leave town, now’s the time to do it. If you just want to grab your gear and meet Ames at the docks and don’t want to post that, I’ll assume that’s what you did when I post the rest tomorrow.

Last edited by 4eyedBadger; 10-15-2018 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 10-15-2018, 07:21 PM
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Ronald ‘One-Bone’ Devyn
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Ron is early, as usual, but he doesn’t mind. He stands outside the Muck as night falls, watching people coming and going. Some see him, lurking in the alley, and those who do give him a wide berth. Others walk past him, oblivious to the fact that if he were in the mood for an easy coin, and not concerned with mugging people this close to the Clasp’s place of business, they might end up taking a fist to the head, or worse, a hammer affectionately named Ronda.

After waiting for what he feels like might be an appropriate amount of time, Ron picks up his hammer, which he had left leaning against a wall, and heads to the Muck. Once through the door, his nostrils flare as he takes a deep breath, inhaling the smell of oyster soup and bred like a man who hasn’t eaten since the morning. Which, as it happens, is exactly what he is.

He nods politely to Karel, aware that her sharp tongue might lash out at him should he be impolite to any of the customers or staff. He even notices little Velt, hiding behind the ugly tapestry depicting the knight riding a cow armed with a long stick of bred jousting a halfling riding a goose. He’s always liked that tapestry. It’s artful. Ron makes a face at the little boy, the way he usually does, and the kid’s face disappears behind the tapestry. Ron grins and looks around.

Shelley is sitting at the large table in the back, Ames Culler standing next to her. When she gestures to Ron to approach, he looks around, as if making sure she means him, and then makes his way to the table. “Evening Miss Shelley,” he says politely. “Nice day, innit?” he says as he puts Ronda down, letting the massive hammer lean against the corner of the table.

He sits at the end of the table, his back to the door. He’s been here long enough to know that nobody is going to take a shot at him while he’s sitting with Shelley. But some of the new people might feel comfortable with their backs to the wall. He doesn’t mind. His ugly face breaks into a grin as he watches the food on the table and he has to abruptly close his mouth to prevent a drool from running down his chin. He wipes his mouth with the back of his filthy hand. ”Food looks nice, Miss Shelley,” he says, hoping the others join them soon. He’s learned the hard way it’s considered impolite to start eating before all the guests are here. He rubs a scar on the back of his hand where Ten-Finger Ted had stuck his dirk, pinning Ron’s hand to the table, just as he was grabbing a roll of bred. Ron prides himself of not making the same mistake twice. Most of the time.

Ron watches the others arrive and take their seats at the table. Some of the faces he knows, others not at all. He doesn’t care. Shelley won’t choose amateurs to work with him. Never has in the past. And if she has now, he can’t do anything about it, so why worry?

“I’m Ron,” he says to the new people, introducing himself. He doesn’t offer a hand. People around here seem to prefer not to get too close to strangers. Especially strangers that could break their hand with a good squeeze.

When Shelley finally asks them to help themselves, Ron doesn’t hesitate. Using his massive, filthy hand, he simply grabs a handful of lobster and puts it on his plate. When he sees the looks others give him he remembers to use the ladles provided and heaps potatoes and mushrooms on his plate, swiftly followed with a pair of bread rolls and a large slab of cheese that was probably meant to serve more people.

He then starts what can only be described as a deliberate attack on the food on his plate, stuffing food into his mouth, sometimes using his fork, but more often grabbing his food with his hand and shoving it in. He chews fast and swallows each mouthful, shoveling in more food before swallowing. He seems less concerned with drinking, until his plate has been cleared and a few lobster tails left over have been hauled to the plate and likewise consumed.

Only then does he touch his pitcher of ale, downing it in one, belching a little as he puts the pitcher down and looks for a refill. All this time he hasn’t once looked up at any of the other diners or offered one piece of conversation as he ate like a man who’s been starving at sea for weeks.

Ron pulls out his knife and carves a thin sliver out of the table, using it to pick his teeth clean as he sheathes his knife again. When the dessert arrives, he repeats the whole process, filling his plate with cake, fruits and pudding and eating them like a starving man might. Only when the others have finished the rest of the desert, or placed it on their plates, does Ron stop eating, eying the plates that still have food with longing.

When Shelley finally gets to talking about the job, Ron just nods. A smuggling run. Not his favorite type of jobs, but a job is a job. And it’s paying double. He belches pleasantly, wishing he had a pipe and some pipeweed. Find Trympa and Forver, get the cargo, get paid. Simple really. Ron isn’t concerned with the dangers, or what might have happened to the other smugglers. They will either find them or they won’t, and if something tries to kill them they will either kill it or it will kill them. Not much more to it, not really.

He leans back in his chair and lets the others speak, enjoying the warmth and the full belly. He’ll have plenty of time to get his pack with things he might need on a smuggling run before the time comes to leave. The attic he rents above the bakery isn’t far.

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Last edited by kymrel; 10-15-2018 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 10-15-2018, 08:33 PM
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Verdigris
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Verdigris' approach slows to a crawl as he reaches the Stuck in the Muck Tavern. While walking through town, he could keep moving and it wasn't so bad. But walking through that door, he wasn't so sure about. He paused to try and work up his courage, but eventually drew more stares by standing outside the tavern than he would have just walking in. He shook off the feeling of eyes on the back of his head and reached for the door handle, narrowly avoiding Ames on his way out.

With a confidence he didn't feel, Verdigris stepped into the Tavern, looking around for familiar presences to latch onto. For now it is Shelley, and he makes a beeline for the table, avoiding eye contact with any of the other patrons. He carefully picks out a place at the table and sits there for a moment, shoulders hunched over. Eventually as more guests arrive, he relaxes as he spies a few familiar faces, offering greetings to Doc and Cyprian. He turns to face Ron as the large human introduces himself. He starts to offer one clawed hand, but sees that Ron has not extended his own and snatches it back, still unsure as to the social intricacies of shaking hands. "You are Ron. I am Verdigris."

Throughout the dinner he tries to contribute a little to the conversation flowing around him, but mostly is content to sit and listen. He starts with a bowl of fish soup, similar enough to what they used to feed him on his ships. At Shelley's instruction, he also takes some lobster, cracking directly into it with his teeth and sucking the meat out noisily. As dinner dies down, he selects a piece of colorful fruit from a bowl and sniffs at it thoughtfully before taking a few bites as he listens to Shelley lay out the mission.

Another trip out into the swamp was promising. He felt a vague twinge of regret for possible fates of Trympa and Forver. The K'Tawl could be dangerous if you did not know your way, but he had briefly met the pair and they seemed unlikely to have fallen victim to any of the normal issues. But such concerns were brushed aside by his own wish to leave town. His time alone had been educational, but felt empty. But here in Stilben there were far too many people. He looked up and down the table at those he would travel with. This would be a nice, small group, a good way to learn the ways of this land without being so overwhelmed.

Even the prospect of getting back out on the water again was soothing the dragonborn's blood, and it was a much more relaxed and happy Verdigris that leaned back in his seat at the end of the meeting, eager to get started. He offered a toothy smile to his new companions, wondering what new things he would learn from them.
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:38 PM
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Cyprian Thoros
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Cyprian’s general avoidance of large groups was an amalgamation of personality and training. It wasn’t clear, even to him, which was the cause and which was the effect. It mattered very little as the truth of the matter was...He despised crowds.

Droves of people were convenient when needing to disorient enemies giving chase or blend in when following a target to their timely demise. Otherwise, if it was not necessary, Cyprian would just as soon take backstreets over the overwhelming din and distraction. It was one of the reasons why he felt a sense of dread when approaching The Muck.

One-on-one, dead drops, or encrypted messages were more his methods of choice. He couldn’t deny the value for meetings and its usefulness in larger procedures, but there would be a good number of people all at once. Additionally, the meeting was at The Muck. At dusk. That meant more people.

He quietly ‘tsked’ in annoyance as he stalked up the steps toward the common room.

Pretend there’s prey inside. Don’t think about anything else.

With that in mind, Cyprian pushed the door open and was welcomed with a face full of sticky, warm air. Once inside, he gazed around the room, assimilating the surroundings.

Drunken laughter peaked in the far corner. A silver tooth flashed in oil light as a woman bared her teeth during a round of cards. Little did she know her contender was cheating. Rich perfume drenched with sweat drifted over as a serving girl pushed by. Frying fish held the room hostage. The floor was sticky with scent of fermenting ale. Smoke filled the rafters with haze. Staccato voices hummed. Tankers clattered.
File it. Don’t lose focus.

Striding over toward Shelley and the table she had reserved, Cyprian had noted that Verdigris was already there. He acknowledged the Dragonborn when he approached. He didn’t know how to read draconic expressions well, but he got the impression that Verdigris was...Relieved? He would not admit it, but he felt relieved in turn.
The other man he knew he had met before. Ron’s face was a...Distinctive one. When looking into his eyes, he was sure that there wasn’t a light in every room. What he knew about the man, however, was Ronald ‘One-Bone’ wasn’t someone to underestimate.

He knew Doc as well. Not in ways that he would like to admit to. Being injured was not something he was particularly fond of. But, she didn't speak much and he appreciated that. On a deeper level...He understood her. Cyprian saw a small reflection. He knew where the innocence had been brutally torn out and was replaced a cynical darkness. That, he knew too well.

Cyprian settled in the middle seat, not overly enthused about having someone on either side of him, but he had a view of escape exits and potential danger. Backing himself into a corner was a sure mistake. The golden rule about any situation was: the harder it was for enemies to get at you, the harder it was for you to escape. Blockading oneself in too much was just as deadly as leaving yourself wide open.

More people arrived. Discomfort rose, but damned if he was going to show it. He concentrated on an ale and good food. He allowed himself to lower his guard, snatching conversation bids from those around him, learning patterns and habits.

When he exchanged his name to those who didn’t already know it, it was spoken as an expressionless, “Cyprian.” Any questions tossed his direction were answered the same monosyllabic, monotone.

When Shelley got to the business portion of the meeting, he noted the agenda, the names of the people involved and predominate words she used.

Another smuggling run. Gods. He kept his exasperation to himself. It would change soon. He would just have to do this last one.
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Last edited by Odyssey; 10-15-2018 at 09:43 PM.
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