Game Thread Chapter V: The Beast on Trial - Page 23 - RPG Crossing
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  #331  
Old 12-18-2018, 03:47 AM
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Bird is the WordThe fire finds a new contenders, one that comes from without. A new face around it: but is it friend or foe?

Vutha, the bird, speaks clearly, a strange animal... or mortal masquerading as one, anyway. Awakened? Instantly, Fido is interested, beaming as he studies. Signy, meanwhile, is ready to reach for her weapon and use it, putting the bird out of its misery in one fell swoop. But given her arm, she's not ready to swing quite so fast. Fast enough to hit anyway. Pike, meanwhile, takes the middle ground and speaks to it, as diplomatically as possible.

Signy grunts at Pike's first comment. "Very strange."

The mention of what is clearly Sully peaks both of their attention, though Fido won't stop grinning like an idiot. Signy seems suddenly more concerned, though less inclined to reach for her weapon. They listen, for their part, letting Pike lead where he will, but Fido can't help himself but interject.

"Stories regarding... regarding our friend go back over two decades. Twenty... one years? I think so. They are so outrageous and farcical that it's hard to believe any of them, even though some can be relatively benign; before he showed up in Lepidstadt University, he wasn't even grounded in a single description! And, it appears, some of the cases don't even agree on how he looks." From there, Pike Vuthas speak further.

What would they have Vuthas do?

"For starters, how can you speak? Are you an awakened avian, or a transformative tree-hugger? A shapeshifter? One of those odd mortals who can take on the form of animals, without going full lycanthrope?"
Just as BadeThe woman smiles, staring at Hrani, a wolfish grin despite her claims to sheephood. "Well thank you, I try to practice sincerity thrice a day. It's an interesting muscle to bear." The mention of her running causes her to laugh aloud, putting her gloved hand to her chest, as if utterly bemused by this. Holding her bag closer to her side, the woman seems tempted to run again, but does nothing.

Back in the main street, the woman who was once Mara points out an odd boogeyman, trying to convince the guards to go deeper in, go further away from the woman and from Hrani. And so they do, with little effort, and she slips away, limping as she can, before anyone can notice she's gone. When they do notice, seeing her run frantically into the alleyway, they yell after her, but nothing comes of it. They seem not to pursue: and a woman running from her pursuer? Who can blame her?

The woman laughs, hearing the yelling somewhere else in the city. "Hrani, is it? Hm, a curious name, to match your curious ears. And yet, who am I? A question we ask ourselves every day of our lives. Not that 'lives' is any concern to me, truthfully. Life worth living deserves a hundred faces." Not instilling a great amount of confidence, but then she plays the game. "My name is Miss Margot Vorkstag, younger sister of Master Vorkstag. I'm an apprentice alchemist at the Chymic Work, out collecting ingredients for a new formula; I can show you my list, if you like? As for the running, well... a beautiful young woman, pursued by strangers in the dark? Can you blame me? I only did as I was bade to do. You have made enemies, Master Hrani. You and your songstress, and your Dwarf, and your investigator. You tarnish the reputation of one Professor Lorrimor." Her words become more and more toxic, drawn out, the more she mentions enemies. "I did as I was bade. We know about you. And tell me, what do you think you have found? What do you think you know? About the Beast of Lepidstadt?" Her stance is different now, somehow more striking, somehow more terrifying. "Whatever this 'Whispering Way' is, it must be an interesting organization to have made enemies of you. Perhaps I should seek them out?" A wink.

In the darkness, a figure shambles closer, and Miss Vorkstag notices. "I see we aren't alone now. Now, shall I scream, or is our misunderstanding misresolved?"
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  #332  
Old 12-18-2018, 07:24 AM
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Runahildr Valkadottir

If Runa's cheeks coloured somewhat it was surely just because the heat from the fire was finally succeeding in warming her body up and not on account of Kendra's words or Samovar's pointed snorts.

She cleared her throat and refocused her attention on the dealings of the court in the morning.
"I am not interested in coaxing or embarrassing anyone. I just want truth and justice to emerge the victor of the proceedings. It galls me that the public has determined guilt before a trial has even taken place and a verdict been found. Everyone should be equal before the law and justice impartial and unbiased in placing guilt and innocence in any case - even one such as this."

The paladin pulled herself to her feet, fatigue taking its toll on her by now.
"I thank you for the offer, Kendra - but I fear I would have difficulty sleeping in your bed." She glanced at Samovar to forestall any noises from the man. "I would drown in the comfort, unused to it after sleeping on temple cots and earthen floors as I have been. You need not worry about me not getting enough rest from the couch. It will be a luxury in its own right."
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:19 PM
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at the campfireThe eagle turns her eyes towards the shortest one with the scrolls bristling from his pack. Her own feathers bristle a bit at his questions, and she flutter hops a step back away from him.

“My magic is from the earth itself, not from playing with the unknown. I have been many forms, all of them quite natural. This is not the one I was born with, but it is one that I have a strong connection to. If you find any of this alarming it is probably because you yourself have strayed from the path of nature into your own arcane fantasies. I have no time for such idle chatter about abstractions. If you want me to help aid our mutual friend in any way, let me know what I can do to be of assistance. Otherwise I shall be on my way and attend to my own concerns.”

She turns towards the dwarf who had originally questioned her, almost dismissing the gnome. She certainly feels less inclined to share with them the body she was born with after his rude interjections.
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  #334  
Old 12-23-2018, 09:35 AM
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Oblivious to the ongoing conversation between Hrani and Miss Vorkstag, Mara rushes in, disguised as Unless he attended her funeral, I don't think Hrani would have seen her before.Belladora Raskell. “Thank goodness!” she exclaims with genuine relief, glad that she has arrived in time to see that the elf is unharmed. Her voice is lower, almost husky, layered with a rural Ustalavian accent that is surprisingly easy to affect, thanks to her temporary transformation. On the other hand, this ease is disturbing, for it suggests that human vocal cords are naturally coarse, and what effect would that have on her normally mellifluous voice? Her brow furrows with anxiety even as she struggles for breath.

“Please, I think ...” she trails off, as if noting the obvious tension between the magus and his quarry, then shifts her approach. “Is ... is everything alright?” Mara looks at the redheaded woman, then at Hrani, then back to the woman again, assessing the situation. They seem to be just talking for now, with no immediate threat of violence. There should be no need for histrionics; ordinary diplomacy should suffice perfectly well. She takes a step closer to the woman, as if instinctively taking her side. “Is ... is he bothering you, Miss ...?”
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:32 AM
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Sensing that Vutha is not willing to talk too much about herself (himself? Itself?) Pike put his hands up in a calming gesture "Do not worry Vutha, we do appreciate all the help we can get but for now we must rest, it has been a long day and tomorrow we have one last location to visit before we return to the city. I hope you understand that we have just met you and we don't have the luxury of trust just yet so we'll be keeping watches as we rest. I think I speak for all of us that you are welcome to the safety of our fire. We will speak further come morning, yes?"

OocI don't think we have assigned watch order so I suggest Fido/Signy/Pike?
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:24 PM
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The eagle nods her ascent to Pike’s suggestions. She is much more trusting of this one than the others. Perhaps it is the large smoking nub of something that he’s been sticking in his mouth that makes her feel at ease. Perhaps it is something else altogether. “Yes, we can talk more in the morning. I can accompany you to your next location if it is helpful to my friend. Beyond that…I have no interest in visiting this city of yours. Hopefully it will not be necessary to save the life of my friend.”

With the evening pleasantries (such as they are) having been exchanged, she takes wing and lands in the branches of a nearby tree. She sits there motionless, perhaps sleeping. Perhaps simply resting her wings and legs.

As the night goes on, at some point the shape of the creature in the tree has changed into something much different. It is large, possibly larger than even Runa, though it is hard to tell from this vantage point. Whatever this thing might be, it is nearly as dark as the night sky and therefore difficult to tell the details of. Close observation does show the slow movement of something breathing, and it is not hard to make out the rough approximations of a humanoid form. There are no signs of the feathers left, nor the silhouette of anything resembling hair. There is something long that dangles from the tree near the form of this creature. Perhaps a branch, or perhaps part of it? Sometimes it twitches when there is no sign of a breeze. Every now and then a pale gleam in the pattern of sharp teeth appears around the facial region of the creature.

And throughout the night it seems as if the smoke from the fire is drawn towards that tree.

 
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Old 01-05-2019, 06:30 AM
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The woman says a lot, and much of it is exceptionally intriguing. Master Vorkstag's sister. And an apprentice alchemist. "Why yes, in fact if you could show me your list of ingredients that might do much to help convince me this is all a misunderstanding and you are indeed who you say you are." So Hrani answers that suggestion, though in reality the ingredient list will do little to change his opinion of this woman in the slightest. He does not doubt she really is Vorkstag's sister, and he does not really care whether she is an alchemist or not. And he already knows she is playing for a faction that at least in one form or another is opposing them, though their goals might not yet be clear. However, a quick glance at the list of ingredients she is acquiring might be invaluable for other reasons. In the best case, it might even allow Hrani to gain insight into some of the things going on inside the Chymic Work. So if Miss Margot Vorkstag wants to show him the list, he would be a fool to pass on that chance. If she does show him, he
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does his best to hazard a guess as to what they might be used for. In any case though,
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he'll pass the entire list on to his memory so that he can convey it to Jamir later, or do some research.

As the discussion moves on though, the woman says something that makes most of this previous discussion pale in comparison. "Wait, what?" Hrani does not even attempt to hide his expression when Margot explains he and his companions have been tarnishing Professor Lorrimor's name. "I think, perhaps, there are even more misunderstandings going on here than we originally thought. Neither I, nor my companions would do anything to harm the professor's reputation in any way. Lorrimor was a great man. In fact, he is the only reason I am even here." It is true, had it not been for the man's funeral - albeit the funeral Hrani missed because he initially took it for another one of Lorrimor's attempts to finally trick him into leaving his homeland - the magus would still be roaming the snowy slopes and hillsides, dealing with very different problems. "If you think we are ruining his name, I would greatly appreciate if you could explain to me how. I am not sure I understand or am aware, and I think the same goes for my companions."

Is this all about their investigation into the beast? Surely people cannot get that upset about it, especially before they have delivered any evidence. As far as the public knows, the case of the Beast is still as straightforward and predetermined as ever. "What have we discovered about the Beast? A few things. Several of which I am currently unsure as to what they actually mean. Is this Beast guilty or innocent? I honestly do not know. We have some information that would disqualify it from at least one of the crimes, though this means nothing as to the others. It might well be guilty of those, and if so, I am sure it will get its proper punishment." Hrani considers mentioning he does not have all the information yet, since some of his companions are still on the road, but he holds off. After all, why tell the woman who tried to stop him and Mara from entering the town that she could also do so to the rest of the group. Except maybe Fido. He briefly contemplates making the man's life hard by pushing Margot into going after him. However, he decides that isn't a good idea either. "So...I cannot help but notice you appear to be heavily invested in the Beast of Lepidstadt. And you make it sound like there is something I do not know. Something that you...and my enemies, as you call them but refrain from actually identifying them...would seem to know, judging by your claims. Perhaps you would care to enlighten me. If you think it is lack of information that is driven me and my companions to unfortunate actions, you can put an end to it here and now. Fill in that lack of information. Tell me what you know about the Beast that we don't. Tell me about my apparent enemies. I'm willing to listen. I'm willing to hear what you have to say. And I will consider it with an open mind. For as I have told you, I have not yet made up my mind concerning the Beast's guilt. If you have information, as you indicate, that is what is keeping me from coming to the right conclusion,
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you can end this here and now by telling me what it is I don't know."


Then, a figure does indeed shamble closer, ending the pair's solitude. Initially, Hrani hopes it will be Mara, but instead You are correct, ekidnu, Hrani has not seen Belladora. I was wondering this entire time whether you remembered this or were going to be surprised it is a woman he does not recognize. Before the newcomer is in earshot, he answers: "I don't believe screaming is necessary. Hrani's willingness to walk away sort of depends on her answers to the above questionsBut I'm also not entirely sure our discussion is over yet." He mulls over what Margot has said, hoping to buy some more time for Mara to arrive. Where was the songstress? Shouldn't she be here by now? Had something kept her? Or was his initial concern correct all along? Was it not him stalling Margot until Mara arrived, but instead Margot stalling him while someone else dealt with Mara? This thought, combined with Margot's threat of screaming puts Hrani more on edge once more. He isn't going to run quite yet, because he is confident in his ability to get away. But he is definitely tensing up so that he could make a break for it at a moment's notice.

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  #338  
Old 01-05-2019, 08:47 PM
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Night ShiftFido seems to be taking notes. Endearing he is not, to the shapeshifter.

"Nature magic, right. Understood, so likely some sort of... what's that word... Druid? Shaman? Something like that. Hm. Meaning you could be anything. Anything at all." Signy rolls her eyes. "More importantly, he... he? she? it? Don't know what you prefer, Vutha, so apologies." Exhaustion cements the point, as she rubs the bridge between her eyes. "You are helpful to the cause of discovering the truth, in which we are all in service of. No matter what that truth ends up being." A diplomatic way of disagreeing that Sullivani is innocent, but also potentially admitting that the popular opinion might be wrong. A funny thing, that.

Pike admits they are exhausted, and the two nod in agreement, though Fido less so. Signy's injury was significant enough to make her treat it now, though just by putting her hand on it and poke around more than anything. It's quickly decided, based on activity while out at the ghoulish village, that Fido will go first, then Signy, then Pike in the morn. The bird, whether it stays or goes, has no choice in the matter and is not included in the Mortal's set up of who is taking watch.

Night grows deeper, stiller, meaner: yet more relaxed, as the fire burns.
Blind, Deaf, DumbJamir snorts now, at the insistence of Runahildr's love of law.

"And yet, if Sullivani had been a Goblin? Do you think he would have been treated quite so luxuriously as he is now? More than likely we'd have seen his head on a pike and then gone our separate ways, looking for the Whispering Way. The law is not blind, I have found. Not blind, not fair, not kind. It is a cudgel for the powerful and the fearful, in equal parts because they tend to be the same. If the powerful are not fearful, they fear the mob, who is. If the mob is not fearful, they are made to be." He nods to the window. "And fortunately for us, neither has to do any work in this case. Our friend, Sully, is their nightmare made flesh. The law should be fair, certainly. Perhaps on Axis, in the Outer Planes, it is. But we are on Golarion, where the whims of Mortals is all too fanciful and inheritably broken. I suspect Lepidstadt is being more civilized than we give them credit for." Kendra's glance is not kind to Jamir, but he takes it. "Let us pray that it does not turn to savagery."

Kendra sighs. "What Runahildr is saying, Jamir, is that if the law is not fair, we balance the scales. We make it work, the way it was meant to work. Justice does not always work out, in favor of ill or good. But it's worth fighting for. I never went to Harrowstone, but isn't that what the Hawkrans believed? Warden over a prison of the dead, for half a century in the name of justice and law and goodness?" She shakes her head. "And besides, we haven't seen the judges, let alone the prosecuting solicitor, in action yet. The biases of the system remain to be known. But if we don't rest then our own bias may be a murderous thing."

Jamir has already returned to his book. Samovar has no snorts left in him.

Kendra stands as Runa does, and takes the comment in stride, laughing a bit at the idea. "Let it never be said I didn't try to drown you all in comfort, as it were." She looks quickly to Samovar, cutting off any potential snorts. He turns away. "At any rate, it is late and time for rest. I think I'll take some of the files to bed for some light reading"—now Jamir snorts—"and prepare for the beginning of proceedings tomorrow." She nods to Runahildr with a smile (and are those rosy cheeks?) and taking a folder of files, heads to her room, shutting the door lightly.

Samovar takes off the oven mitts and apron, and taking a cup from strange hanging prongs on the wall that hold many tankards and cups for tea, pours some steaming hot tea and brings it to Runa, whether she wants it or not. He sits, still imposing without armor or an apron. Washed, he almost looks tamed in that moment, scars and all. "Did it put up a good fight?"

Is Samovar trying to... to communicate?
Reputations to KeepMargot does not hesitate, reaching into her satchel and pulling out a list, though relatively short, on a piece of torn parchment. "You'll understand when you read it why this is a sensitive matter and night is more appropriate. My brother has a reputation to keep, you see." The list is intriguing, largely involving several different animal parts, either whole or in dried out husks, as well as some bone fragments, some of which come from Mortals. But it is not exactly illegal, even mage need them from time to time. Even couth Elves, like Hrani. It takes him a moment but he thinks that the formulae may have something to do with transfiguration, creating a desired effect wherein the mutagen changes the drinker into something else, physically rather than an illusion. It is a dangerous list, all in total, and certainly uncouth. She snatches it back, when he has memorized it and offers it up.

From there, the conversation takes a darker turn. "Oh, you think I thought you were doing so actively? Well, of course you are, even if you don't realize it. People talk, you know. Right now it's the upper crust, the well-to-do. An accidental word from the Dwarf husband of your solicitor, babbling little man that he is, and it goes into the dinner halls, the parlors, the salons. I imagine you're the talk of the town now, even if you spent all day out of town. And just what do the servants of Lorrimor's daughter think they're doing in the wilds, following ghost stories?" Her grin is wide, almost frog-like, ill fitting for her face. "Actions have consequences, dear Elf. Come tomorrow, you'll find that out. And whatever you think you've found, whatever evidence brought you back and has had you and that little strumpet frollicking from shop to shop here in Lepidstadt, let me assure you, it will come to an end. Your freedom ends here, with this assault on my dignity. You'll lose more than that."

She laughs at the offer to tell him what they don't know, plain and outright. "Tell you of your enemies? I can't give you a detailed biography of the cobbler and the highborn judge, you foolish, stupid cretin. I come from a far away land, I found these stories when I got here. True or not? I care not. This is not a carriage of justice. It is a hammer against a monster. And let the hammer come down, and nail the coffin shut, that we may burn it, for all I care." Her frog-like smile threatens much worse than to burst her face open. The more she talks, Hrani notes that she brings her right hand to her left shoulder, tracing it across. The satchel, carefully on her right shoulder, makes sure not to touch it; even her cloak avoids it. What is the purpose of that? It only began when talking about the Beast of Lepidstadt. Her skin is not flush; there is a strange color to it, in this odd alleyway light.

The new woman causes the frog-like grin and the touching of her shoulder, whatever that means, to cease. Margot, confused, tries to understand why the strange woman, in the visage of Belladora, is speaking to either of them or pursued them. Was her yell that effective? Is this luck and happenstance? "He is, good ma'am. This man followed me into this alley and is making rash accusations against me and my family, and our Chymic Works. I'm Margot Vorkstag, you understand, and we have a reputation to keep, my brother and I." She reaches into her satchel to grab something as she speaks, but she does not produce it, whatever it is. Her hand remains there.
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  #339  
Old 01-05-2019, 11:47 PM
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No! aka MaraBelladora instinctively tenses as Margot reaches into her satchel. Like an archer drawing back his bowstring, or a caster retrieving a spell component, this action is pregnant with danger and hostility. She must protect Hrani at all costs ... but how can she do so without revealing herself? To side with Hrani would immediately raise suspicion, or worse; besides, she had assumed her present disguise with the goal of befriending the woman, not alienating her. Fortunately an idea is born from her urgency.

With her arms spread out wide in a defensive posture, Bella quickly steps in front of Margot, as if shielding her from the elf, though in reality it is Hrani she is protecting with her own body. “Fie! You should be ashamed, good sir!” she scolds the magus, affecting the language and tone that she imagines Belladora Raskell would use. “Harassing an innocent lady is no way for a gentleman to behave.”

“And look at you! Why, a handsome elf such as yourself—I'm sure you must have a lady of your own. No need to be harassing Miss Vorkstag then, is there now? Why don't you head on home—your wife is probably waiting for you, wondering where you are.” With this last bit, and with Margot safely viewing her back, Bella winks and even mimes a kiss at the elf. Please Hrani, it's me she thinks desperately, but she cannot think of a better way—or any other way, for that matter—to communicate her real identity to him. Well, there is one word she might say, but she would never say that in public.

“Go on then, or I'll call the entirety of the town guard down upon you.” With little shooing motions she waves the magus away, then half turns, presenting a face of
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friendly concern to the Vorkstag woman. “I hope you're all right, milady?”
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  #340  
Old 01-06-2019, 11:51 PM
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At the campfireAs the night sky began to lighten, the features of the creature sleeping in the tree became more apparent to Pike as he sat the last watch. Though humanoid in shape, for the most part, she was covered in black scales. Some of them were tight over her muscled form. Others rose in ridges and spikes along her head, back, and tail. It was a tail that had dangled through the night. It was thick, black, and the scales along it were rough than on the rest of its body. Her face was mostly filled with a large crocodilian mouth, sprouting sharpened teeth. She wore the hide of some creature secured by an ornate looking belt. A similarly ornate band adorned the frills atop her head.

Eventually she dropped from the tree and loped towards the watchful Pike while the others remained asleep. Whether or not she had intentionally chosen to reveal herself in this way was not clear, but it certainly gave the dwarf some time to contemplate what he thought about lizardfolk twice his size before she arrived for some morning conversation and/or breakfast.

“It seems we have made it through the night,” she says, a forked tongue darting from her mouth on occasion. “Can you tell me more of what you would do on this day? I don’t trust your companions. They smell wrong. I would like to learn as much as I can before they awake.”

Her cold-blooded lizard eyes appraised the dwarf while waiting for his response. It might seem as if she is considering him for a meal, but somehow Pike has gained at least a small portion of her trust.


 
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:50 AM
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He'd noticed that Vutha had shifted to another form during the night but he said nothing, instead he took to making breakfast from what rations they had, a scoop of oats in water with a pinch of salt, rye bread and cheese, dried meat of unknown origin. Only thing missing was steaming cup of coffee the color of ink and he'd be a happy dwarf indeed.

With a collection of small jars and pitchers in front of him, working on some formulaes from his already worn tome he nods towards the lumbering hulk approaching "Good morning Vutha." he says in a low tone pointing towards the meager provisions he'd laid out on his blanket in front of the fire "Please, if you're hungry." he passes his waterskin towards her, another offering.

He clears his throat and reaches for a cigar that he lights with a small twig from the fire, quickly becoming surrounded by a haze of sweet smelling smoke "There is a building not far from here called Sanctuary that used to be an asylum for the mentally ill, although I have my doubts as to the sanctuary part of it." he does not go further into his doubts "It caught fire a month or so ago, the short story of it is that we are going to look for clues as to who set it on fire. A survivor swears it was our mutual friend, which the people of Lepidstadt call the Beast. But there is contrariety between the description given of the pyro and the accused." he pops a piece of cheese into his mouth and chews on it thoughtfully "Too many things in all this farce just don't add up." he mutters to himself, shakes his head and grins at Vutha "Which is why we are here to piece them together, right?"

He chuckles and shrugs "In any case we could use a good scout, with your ability of flight you could do us a great service in scouting out the area from above and of course if there are some other qualities that you think could come in use then by all means let me know."

At the mention of his companions he scratches his beard and nods to himself "Well I can't judge people by their smell but I am a fair judge of character nonetheless and they are honest people, good people and only wish to do the right thing." at least he hopes he is right about them, he hopes they will speak true and fair when the time comes about their findings at the scenes of the crimes.

Clearing his throat he starts stirring the oats as he raises his voice enough to rouse other two "It's morning, let us eat and be on our way." it's time to enter Sanctuary, for good or ill.
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Old 01-10-2019, 10:58 AM
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Things do not go as planned. This is why Hrani doesn't talk to people. Shouldn't be allowed to talk to people, for that matter. "You can hardly be blamed for the illogical behavior of the non-elven races.". Orenmir's voice whispers in his mind, and the scimitar is right, of course. Entirely unhelpful at the moment, however. The magus tries to parse through what Margot says. She claims not to want to tell him anything, but he seems to have infuriated her enough with his question that she has let some details slip despite herself. Margot lets on that she knows they are, in a manner, working for one of the judges. How unfortunate, for that was certainly not supposed to be public knowledge. She also lets on that their enemies include another one of the judges, though Hrani isn't entirely clear on whether it is someone actively opposing them, or more of a general distaste that the other judges share with the rest of the population for anything that might vindicate the Beast. And he knows that he certainly isn't going to be able to get the woman to confide in him any further, even accidentally.

Another thing of note: The woman, despite earlier indications, seems to care little for the truth or have any information about the thing on trial that they don't. She just wants it punished, like everyone else in Lepidstadt, though again the elf isn't quite sure as to what her motives are, for clearly she is motivated enough to actively do something about the matter. And then she threatens him, with consequences of his actions. Threatens his freedom, and implying he'll lose more than that. Could she convince the guard to arrest him? He hasn't done anything to her, and there aren't even any witnesses to their chase. To say nothing of the fact that working for the barrister is probably an acceptable reason for talking to her, even at this time. She would need to have significant connections to be able to pull something like that off, without any evidence. If she or the people she works for had that kind of pull, it seems like they would have resorted to that to keep her and Mara out of the city, as opposed to relying on ineffective bribes. So for that reason he isn't afraid. Well, that reason and another reason. "They'll never take you." Orenmir is right. Hrani is not worried the guards would be able to catch him, if it came to it. He'd prefer not needing to resort to violence to prevent his capture, but he likely would, if someone tried to unlawfully arrest him. He would have to leave the city, most likely, if it came to that, but it's not like he has ties here. He's only here to help the others with whatever the hell is going on here, and if he can no longer do that, or if he can do so most effectively by getting some of their enemies to chase him out of the city, the elf wouldn't mind. He can always head back home, far to the north. His only regret would be not being able to satisfy his own curiosity as to what happened in terms of the Beast and the Whispering Way. Well, that, and not seeing Mara anymore. Despite all of his mistrust for even his own companions, Hrani cannot deny he has somehow grown fond of the songstress...

Who then appears, even though the magus doesn't realize it. The newcomer, probably somewhat attractive by human standards despite how unrefined she appears, instantly takes Margot's side. How unfortunate. There is no way he can stay around now, or he really might give Margot a legitimate case when it comes to organizing the city guard against him. On the other hand, this woman appearing also gives him a witness that everything here was peaceful, as long as he leaves now. Which Hrani is about to do, when 'Belladora' continues on talking, about how handsome he is, and that he certainly has a woman waiting for him. 'Technically true, Mara should be here somewhere. Hopefully, unless she's been attacked while I was being distracted here, but Margot's actions seem like she wants to get rid of me. An extremely strange observation to bring up, nonetheless.' Yes, a strange observation for the newcomer to make. Instantly, alarm bells go off in the magus' head, and his mind starts racing through a thousand scenarios. As unwarranted as his paranoia typically is, that doesn't stop it from coming into play when something genuinely is not as it seems. And that is currently the case, even if Hrani hasn't quite figured out what is off. 'Alright, what's bothering me? This newcomer. Something's off. Options: Have I seen her before? No. Is she secretly my enemy? Possibly, but not if she's really an innocent passerby. Is that's what is bothering me? Yes. The coincidence of her suddenly showing up just at this moment, and the coincidence of her acting weird and making a veiled reference to Mara?'

Either of those might be enough to make Hrani suspicious on a good - or bad, depending on your viewpoint - day. Both of them at the same time, by coincidence? 'Hardly. So, you aren't who you appear to be.' His mind continues to race. 'So who are you? Not one of Margot's allies, or she wouldn't have been surprised by your arrival. So a third faction? Someone from the Whispering Way, getting me out of the way so they can talk to Margot? No, their arrival just defused this situation, would have been better for them to just let it escalate. Really, in the end, I'm probably benefiting more from your arrival than Margot. Weird. Unless...someone on my side? But who?' And then it clicks. He isn't entirely sure, but it would fit. Both the timeline of the arrival and the reference to Mara make sense. And the fact that defusing the situation actually benefits him ultimately cements his decision, when added onto the wink and the mimed kiss. 'It's a good thing you showed me this trick already once, Mara. No way I would have figured this out otherwise.' Hrani remembers how impressed he was by the songstress flawless Kendra illusion, manufactured by her new hat, that she had shown off...earlier that morning. Had it only been earlier that morning? Sooo much had happened since then.

He could be wrong, of course. But he needs to get out of there anyway. So he might as well play it under the assumption that he is right and this is in fact his companion in disguise. "My apologies, mam. I did not mean to bother this lady, here. It was a simple misunderstanding. You are correct, of course, I do have a lady waiting for me." He raises his hands in defense. "There is no need to call the town guard, though I can understand why a graceful woman such as yourself...might I say almost carrying herself with the grace of an elf...would prefer to be careful." Hrani bows, before turning around. There isn't much more he can do without giving away Mara's identity, not with Margot watching. But perhaps the songstress will remember the compliment he paid her early on, before knowing her actual ancestry, when he alluded to the fact that she might have some elven heritage given her grace. Hrani takes a few steps down the alley, then turns around once more, as if just remembering something. In truth, he was already considering how to impart as much information to Mara as possible. "Miss Vorkstag, I apologize you and your allies believe me and my companions to be your enemies for researching the truth before the Beast's trial. You appear convinced he is a monster, and if that is so, you should have nothing to fear from us. Our investigation will turn up just that, and no judge we might or might not have talked to would change that. But, as I have said, this appears to have been a misunderstanding. I falsely thought you were interested in the truth, and knew something we didn't, from what you said. Had that been so, I would have been happy to hear it. Now, I think you have simply made up your mind that the creature on trial shall be burned no matter the question of guilt, even if I do not know why. As I said, my mistake for the misunderstanding, I apologize." Hrani turns around a final time, and trots down the alley, vanishing around the corner. He doesn't go far though. Just far enough to remain out of sight, moving further away if he hears Margot and the woman approaching. But close enough that he would hear a scream from the woman he is really hoping he was correct in assuming to be Mara.
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:30 PM
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Breakfast and such.Vutha feels a pang of self-consciousness as the dwarf mentions the building burning down. She is no stranger to false accusations around fires. Perhaps not so false in her case, yet mention of the fire only increases her desire to clear the name of her friend who is held captive by these city folk.

She only grunts noncommittally when Pike speaks well of the other two. She has no explanation for her intuitions, and Pike’s assurances do nothing to sway her doubts. Perhaps she senses in Pike some amount of compassion for the Beast’s well being that is not present in the other two. Maybe when all the pieces are put together their logic will dictate that they make the correct choice. But the logics of the city are not to be trusted, for they often lead to destruction without rebirth.

“Once I am a bird I will not be able to speak more unless I use my magics. I would rather save them today in case there is danger ahead. If I scout ahead, I may not be able to communicate for some time unless you have a means of helping in that regard.”

Once there is nothing more to discuss and they are within range of the structure, she shifts again into the form of an eagle and flies towards the structure indicated by Pike.

 


 
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Old 01-25-2019, 12:37 PM
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Morn's SanctuaryThe night does go over largely without a hitch. Noises occasionally but nothing one would not expect to hear. A nightbird, calling; something jumping in the water, a simple small fish catching an insect newly awakened for the spring. The crackling of the fire, stoked by those who are awake.
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The final watch comes, and Pike takes it. But he is not alone.

Vutha and Pike discuss their plans, including the nature of the sleeping investigators from Lepidstadt. What's in the smell of a Mortal? What does it tell a creature such as Vutha? Once changed back into a bird, what will become of their bond? Will nature take its course? Pike has of course heard of such creatures that can change their forms: druids, or shamans, even. The witch-daughter of Lorrimor was... well, different, but not dissimilar.

Ultimately, as the sky, cloudy but pleasantly so, turns to blue, Pike awakens his companions. Fido is a slow riser but Signy is quick to pack her things and prepares. She is silent and surly, though. By that time, the strange form of Vutha is replaced with that of an eagle, which the Dwarf regards with a leery glare. Signy is not friendly, so at least the feeling is mutual.

They head south, down the hill, to the ruins, now made plain by the light of day. The chimney is the primary standing part of the building, but the roof remains, collapsed down on the Sanctuary, with a number of walls in varying states of disarray. Scorchmarks line the stone where the fire destroyed the wood that held it up, and the ruins are hardly inviting; more a disaster no one has cleaned, given the state of winter. In spring, this building will likely be destroyed, or rebuilt. Who can say?

Upon approach, each of them begins looking about. Fido, to mark the occasion, sighs. "Remind me what we're looking for, exactly? What your fears are?"
The Beast Must BurnThe scene in the alley is coming quickly to a conclusion, but at what end?

Miss Vorkstag, prepared to fight and to make flight at once, begins to stand down as Belladora begins to defend her, though her look is leery, staring longways at the newcomer. She is an unexpected though not unwanted element, and the woman, who does not seem to understand how to where her expression, seems confused by her. The mention of a wife changes nothing. Hrani slowly begins to piece together what is happening before him, and decides to end it while he can. Complimenting Mara as a way to convince her he knows and understands what she's doing, but there comes the final word from Margot Vorkstag.

"I fear nothing from you, Elf. Why should I? You need fear. Fear is in your nature, isn't it? All you mere Mortals. But make no mistake, we will not forget tonight. The Beast must burn, for all of its crimes, whatever be true or not. Truth is what we make of it, aye?" Her head falls to the side, curiously but quick, before she puts both arms to the side and returns her head to normal. Hrani makes an exit, and soon, Margot prepares to do the same, collecting herself: fixing her hair, her dress, her sleeves. When Belladora speaks, Margot regards her cooly for a moment, before turning on her heels and leaving. "I have business to attend to."

She says no more.
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Old 01-26-2019, 03:27 AM
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With a look of relief Belladora watches the magus leave safely, though without the elf’s perceptive intellect, she does not know he knows. Besides, his carefully phrased compliment is but a mere drop, just one compliment lost in a pool of hundreds from admirers far and wide.

As for Miss Vorkstag … the songstress stifles an internal sigh, as it seems that her normally silver tongue has abandoned her. Was it the strain of effecting a rural accent that impeded her efforts so? Or simply the coincidence of her presence? Perhaps it was her undisguised surprise when Vorkstag said ‘you mere mortals’—is the woman some sort of immortal then?—or when she vehemently insisted that the Beast must burn regardless? In any case, the woman’s cold demeanor makes any attempt at continued conversation futile—there is no point trying to glean any further information, and since Mara’s true form would undoubtedly fare worse, it is time to say goodbye.

“I understand,” the singer nods politely, though she can’t help
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peering curiously at Margot’s somewhat peculiar movements, “you must be in a hurry. Take care, stay safe, and good night.” For a moment she watches as Vorkstag leaves—when she is sure the woman is gone, she hurries off in the direction Hrani had left, hoping to catch up to the elf. Once she finds him, she takes a quick look around, making sure that no one else is present, then slips into the shadows to undo her disguise.

“My apologies,” the soprano whispers to Hrani, resuming her usual dulcet voice, “I should have warned you, but there was no opportunity to do so. I’m afraid that was my only idea to protect you.” She glances around nervously, still not feeling particularly safe, and slowly begins making her way back to Lorrimor’s apartment. “We had best return—the others must surely be wondering where we are. Did you manage to glean anything from our ‘friend’?”

 
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