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  #376  
Old 04-11-2019, 01:59 AM
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Mara weaves her way slowly through the tremendous crowd, pausing periodically to brush back her hair or smooth out her long gown. Of course, in general, the singer doesn't mind crowds at all—indeed, she rather enjoys large gatherings: for a performer, the bigger the audience, the better—but such a preference is generally conditioned upon her being on stage, and the center of attention. Mingling as a mere minnow amongst a tightly packed crowd—one on the verge of becoming a mob—is another experience altogether. Especially given her affliction, she would prefer to have a bit more personal space.

Somehow they manage to spy Pike amidst the throng, or perhaps more accurately, the keen-eyed detective finds them. The songstress greets him warmly, glancing curiously at the nearby eagle but otherwise ignoring the bird. “Your timing is impeccable—the trial is about to commence, and we are headed to the courthouse now. We should discuss your findings” she slightly raises her eyebrows, as if probing for the success of Pike's trip, “with Kaple as quickly as possible.” Her brow furrows. “Not that I am disappointed, but whatever happened to your other companions?”

When Adivion alters the cigar-smoking dwarf's scent, Mara cannot help but smile. True, Lorrimor's self-proclaimed heir can be almost as thoughtless and rude as Carlo—she thinks back to how he had awakened Kendra and Runa this morning—but subverting Pike's usual smoky stench is genuinely amusing ... almost as amusing as making one of his wretched cigars blow up in his face.

“And a pleasant morning's salutations to you as well Veronique,” the songstress returns the cadet's greeting with an amiable smile. “Thank you for the escort. Please, do lead the way.”
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  #377  
Old 04-11-2019, 06:05 AM
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Torsten Pike
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Pike wearily nods his head at Fido, he suspected as much but he did not want to press them. That they'd assisted so much in the past few days was much appreciated by the detective "Thank you Fido, for your honesty. You have been of great help, for what it's worth and hopefully we can paint a picture in court that shows the truth." he makes sure everything is strapped tightly to his horse "Don't go far when we get to Lepidstadt, I'm not sure it's needed but I guess having you available for testimony couldn't hurt." he smiles through his beard as he mounts his horse, brings a thick cigar the color of burnt wood from one of his many pockets and lights it "And you, Vutha? I know you don't like the city and if I am to be honest with you I don't think the city will like you in your natural form. But your friend is on trial and if you want to see this through I would be glad to have you with me. Now I don't know how familiar you are with what we call civilization but there are rules there, so don't take it bad if I feel the need to explain some things to you, it's for your own safety." he offered this partly because he wanted her to have the chance to assist with freeing Sully, partly because he's curious and wants to know more about the fascinating shapeshifter.

Upon their arrival he makes his farewell to Signy and Fido and turns towards the courthouse, judging by the time of day he could make it just in time. Riding through the streets, unwashed after a hectic few days out the rural areas of Ustalav and he was painfully aware of how the stench of death clung to him after fighting spirits of dead children, ghasts and wraiths and climbing into a manticore's nest to poison it. Not to mention the severed, decomposed head he carried in a sack strapped to his saddle "My soul for a hot bath and a stiff drink." he mutters to himself as his horse carries him towards the courthouse, his keen eyes spotting familiar figures as he closes in "Ms. Mara, a pleasure." he grunts as he tips his hat and dismounts, flicking the stub of his cigar away and smiles "Signy and Fido have parted ways with us, their contracted job fulfilled it seems. All good though, we can call upon them should we need them to testify". he notices he attention going to eagle "Everyone, this is Vutha. She is a friend of our client and helped me out at Sanctuary. Vutha, these are my friends. The ones trying to save your friend." he then takes a moment introducing everyone in attendance.

"Been following the trail of death Master Adivion." the dwarf says with a grim grin as he unties a waxed sack from his saddle "Brought a sample with me, we'll be needing a priest by the way. One who can compel the dead to speak, also to verify the sample I sent with Runa. Where is she by the way?" he nods in appreciation as Adivion removes his smell, it makes him feel a little more up to the task ahead "If you'll have me with the Solicitor then I'll be happy to oblige, if not..." he pauses and takes a look around "... well than I can probably snoop around some more, found some leads that I want to check with here in the city if time allows. But I believe it can wait until we're done with court for today."

He glances at Vutha, not sure what to do with the big raptor now seated at the saddle of his horse "So, what shall we do with you my friend?"
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  #378  
Old 04-13-2019, 01:08 PM
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Vutha, a very anxious eagle at the moment.Vutha has never been so scared in her life. So many people everywhere, more than she’d ever been around, and each one of them with no clue of how the world actually works. Each one of them willing to destroy an entire ecosystem without even realizing it or caring once they found out the harm they had done. The smells were everywhere: smells of nature sapped and sucked, burned and distilled, tortured until there was nothing natural left to them. It was the smell of hammered coins and colonialism. And all of it packed into these confining rigid and unnatural walls. Inflammable walls, at that.

She longed to just fly up above it all and follow the smoke man from above where the air was clear and there was nothing to confine her. But she knew if she were to allow herself that much freedom she would more than likely just fly off altogether never to return to this city. So she gripped the shoulders of the smoke man tight with her razor sharp claws. Fortunately his leather armor takes the brunt of the damage, though by the time they reach their destination it is filled with slash marks to show her anxiety. She tries, at least a little bit, not to actually hurt him. Still
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"And you, Vutha? I know you don't like the city and if I am to be honest with you I don't think the city will like you in your natural form. But your friend is on trial and if you want to see this through I would be glad to have you with me. Now I don't know how familiar you are with what we call civilization but there are rules there, so don't take it bad if I feel the need to explain some things to you, it's for your own safety."
he finds a way to threaten her as they enter this abominable place.

The only thing that kept her locked in place was the omen and the knowledge of what might happen to her friend. He would burn unless she did something to stop this city. Just like her own people had burned on account of her all those years ago. She wanted to believe that if somehow she could save him from this it would satisfy the curse, release her from this omen, allow her to become what she’d always wanted to be. The only way out was through.

Vutha tries to stay calm as they join the others and approach the courthouse, but she only feels her anxiety rising. It seaps out of her in black smoky tendrils at first as she tries hard to control things. She tries to take in all that goes on, though says nothing so as not to betray her nature (if possible). She doesn’t trust this place or this people. There is something of death in the air around this courthouse: the unnatural grinding of lives beneath the gears of tyranny. Somewhere her friend is beneath those gears and will be shredded unless she finds a way to stop them. And suddenly it happens, there is a zap of magic unnatural that strips the smoke man of all his scents and replaces them with a fake effervescence. Vutha responds instinctively by Cloud of Smoke abilitydropping a giant smoke cloud around her and the once smoky dwarf. Only after doing so does she realize that maybe he wouldn’t appreciate it, so she flutters from his shoulder onto the saddle of his mount.

She says nothing, but she knows the smoke man can enter her mind to see what’s there. And as much of a violation as that would normally feel, it is the only way forward in this situation. She looks at him and tilts her head to the side as a sort of invitation into her mind.
 

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  #379  
Old 04-14-2019, 02:01 PM
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The smile upon Mara's face disappears the moment they are attacked by a billowing cloud of smoke. She quickly stumbles back, her slender arms raised instinctively to protect herself—after all, where there's smoke, there's fire. Fortunately the adage proves false in this case, and eventually the smoke dissipates, leaving her to look about in bewilderment for the cause. But there are no signs of anyone casting a spell, or throwing a bomb and running away, and of course who would suspect a bird as being the culprit? With a sudden flash of insight, she remembers Adivion's earlier antics this morning, all executed frivolously without so much as a spell component. Her fear is replaced by a cold anger.

“Adivion Adrissant.” Her eyes darken with the fury of a storm at sea, though her words remain even, precise, and dangerously detached. “If you would be so good as to control yourself? One scent should suffice for Torsten—there is no need to vacillate between two.” Indeed, it is as if the arrogant noble can't decide between a sweet floral scent and a quite visual representation of the dwarf's usual smoky odor. Her gaze flicks to the eagle with the curiously cocked head. “Your ostentatious display of the arcane has quite frightened Pike's new familiar, to say nothing of the crowd. Are you intending to initiate a riot?” The singer sniffs dismissively.

Without waiting for an answer she turns. “My apologies Veronique. Please.” With a broad sweep of her arm she indicates that the cadet should continue her escort duties. “Pike, you should calm down your familiar—the last thing we need is for your bird to create a ruckus in the courtroom.” Not knowing Vutha's true nature, the songstress imposes an explanation that matches her limited experience. “Jamir, perhaps your raven could assist?”
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  #380  
Old 04-15-2019, 06:17 AM
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Pike is taken by surprise as he finds himself engulfed in smoke, coughing and spitting as he quickly steps out of it. Realizing that this must have been the work of Vutha he glances at the druid and finds that she has something that she needs, an instinct of fear and rage aimed at the city and possibly the fate of her friend. Something startled her, that's fur sure. "Aye Mr. Adivion, please make up you mind." he quips, barely able to hide his smirk as he moves closer to Vutha, speaking in low tones "I know you don't like this place or the people and I can't help but agree. Still, we need to draw as little attention as possible to ourselves right now. We will be heading inside this building in a few minutes where we will present what we know to help your friend. I can sense your feelings, this is all a bit much to take in I suppose so I recommend you stay outside. I'm not sure if you can control yourself once inside with all these...erhm, unnatural people with their unnatural laws. The choice is yours of course." he motions for the roof of the courthouse "From up there you can stay out of sight, perhaps find a window where you can watch the trials, but for your own safety please don't draw attention to yourself."

Stepping back in line with the group he sighs and motions them forward "Vutha is not my familiar Miss Mara, she belongs to herself as you will soon find out. Now let's get a move on, long day ahead of us."
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  #381  
Old 04-19-2019, 03:29 PM
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Breakfast turns out to be a highly politically charged affair, with so much nonverbal communication going on it is unbearable to Hrani. Of course, Mara always lets her food cool down, but at the same time she is looking at Adivion as if begging him to challenge her on the fact that she isn't touching his food. Adivion replies with complex expressions of his own. Meanwhile Samovar comes out and decides to start cooking a second breakfast. Choosing to partake in Adivion's meal as opposed to his meal or vice versa would probably send a statement. Fortunately, Hrani doesn't care about all that nonsense. At all. What he cares about is the fact that every time someone serves him food, that gives them the chance to poison him. So the elf hedges his bet and goes with Samovar's breakfast. The man has had enough opportunities to poison him by this point that the odds of him doing so seem slightly lower than of Adivion doing the same thing. Not a lot. Just a little bit. A few percentage points that the elf's rational mind values much more highly than any message his refusal of Adivion's meal might send.

His opinion of the mage does not improve with the later display of rousing Kendra. In fact, the amount of arcane power Adivion wastes on mundane tasks rather than accomplishing things with them or using them to protect his life makes it hard for the magus to see him as anything other than a jester. Oh, a highly dangerous jester who could seriously threaten the lives of anyone present, but a jester none the less. 'It's too bad I wasn't still in my room for this little display of his. I'm sure he would have been highly upset at his little moment of showing off failing because my barricaded door wouldn't open...' Hrani feels a little sorry for Kendra for how she was torn from sleep, but then again, she too could have prevented this by taking measures to block her door like any sensible person should.

With breakfast behind them, they head off to the courthouse, where the group is finally reunited with Pike. It feels like it had been forever, yesterday's long days still deep in Hrani's bones even after a night of rest. Much to the elf's surprise, he even feels a brief moment of...not happiness, but maybe contentment at seeing the dwarf again. Not seeing Fido, and to a lesser extent Signy with him, now that would certainly be pleasing. Except for the fact that Hrani is busy scanning the crowd, expecting them to be hiding somewhere in the masses, waiting to murder him with a knife to the back.

"Don't forget the threat in front of you, simply due to the threat of that buffoon..." Orenmir's voice in his head brings Hrani back to the present situation. 'Right, strange bird. Should definitely be concerned about that.' Just as the magus has started paying attention again, Pike is enveloped in an explosion of smoke. Hrani reacts instantly. In a flash, Orenmir is drawn from its sheath, the black scimitar basically leaping into his hand. But his main concern isn't even for himself, because Mara, who had been greeting Pike rather than scanning the crowd for Fido, was closer to the dwarf when he was enveloped in smoke. In one fluid motion, Hrani steps up to steady the songstress who is stumbling backward, while at the same time maneuvering her behind himself. He places himself between her and the smoke, but if she doesn't resist, he maneuvers her all the way around until the courthouse is at her back. That way, the elf and his scimitar can cover three directions that attackers might be coming from, and the wall can help with the fourth. There is no forceful tug though, no harsh pull on Mara's garments. It is fluid, almost like a graceful dance, from the moment Hrani steadies her, to the moment she either begins to resist or is fully behind him.

Initially, Hrani assumes this must be Vorkstag's work, or that of his sister, if she isn't the same person. They would certainly have the equipment to produce this much smoke at a moment's notice. But there is no follow up on the attack, and Mara quickly turns her anger on Adivion. The magus remains unconvinced, but sheathes Orenmir for the moment. His hand does not leave the hilt, however, even when Pike also seems unconcerned. In fact, he seems more worried about the bird...Vutha he called her. There is definitely more to her than meets the eye. It remains to be seen exactly what that is.

"I agree, we should hurry. There is not much time before the trial starts, and it sounds like if any of us want to not be present for all of that, we need to leave beforehand. And personally, I do not see myself being of much use in the courtroom...unless it is in my uncanny ability to annoy someone. But I think it makes sense for us to strategize before anyone sets off." All the while, Hrani continues to scan for people following up on the smoke attack, his gaze coming back to Vutha every so often.
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  #382  
Old 04-22-2019, 10:57 AM
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Adivion seems lost, and irritably so. "What? A soul should smell civilized, at least, before standing before a judge. I've been there a few times myself, and among others, too. But as you like, as you like..."

And then, the puff of cloud. Adivion steps back, his eyes full of a need to understand, and he looks at the bird. Jamir, too, looks excited, and Kendra, all of them studying what's going on. Kendra laughs. "I hope that means you're cursed, Pike, and nothing more." Jamir's familiar caws, looking back to the Halfling from the raptor, and Vutha can clearly understand it: it knows exactly what she is. And now, so does the Halfling, eyes wild with the prospect of secrets. "What a pretty bird you've discovered, Torsten." The raven relays that they mean no harm, even if they are all insufferable idiots, the irritating man of fake smells especially.

Adivion fixes his coat, and sighs. "I can see I am of no more use today. You have little use for me, so Hrani, if you seek a place in the stands, I will secure you one. And whomever else, too. Otherwise, I'll see you after court." Kendra wants to say something, but stops herself, letting him go off towards the back, where the stairs lead to the stands. She shakes her head, but does not voice her thoughts.

And so, Veronique leads on.

Up the stairs they go, the walls clearly greased in some way to facilitate Sully's movement to the second floor from the basement, and soon they arrive in a room that they can barely hear their own thoughts in. The stands at the front are unoccupied except for scribes and a woman, hooded, dressed in armor similar to Runahildr's own. There are cloaked priests of a different order, too, their faces all hidden, talking to one another, and soon Kaple spies them, waving them over. He stands alone against the table, where four chairs are placed. In the stands behind, all the witnesses are present, some of them even waving to Pike and Mara.

In the stands above, Hrani spies the dandy Gnome, who waves down at him as well.

"G-Good, you're all h-here. F-from the look o-o-of you a-a-all I'm not the only one who's n-n-not slept. My husband made us a preparatory meal or snacks, depending on how you look at them." He eases while talking about his baker husband, and it's not hard to see or smell why: Pike smells the wondrous assortment of pasteries, fruits and meats mixed inside some. It's also not hard to see that the prosecution has some as well, a gift from Kaple to show no il will. The man there is stooped over pieces of paper, and the woman beside him pointing something out to him. He looks up briefly, but is not ready to speak to them.

To Vutha, it's like being in a den of insects or birds, chirping away at nothing, with no sense of sky. A cave by design? Madness!

At the front of the room is a cage, now empty, with chains about the sides, and Pike's keen eyes can tell that they're made of fine alloys, not quite mithrail or adamantine, but something sturdier than mere steel. Kaple walks to the defense's chamber and opens the door, bringing the pasteries with him.

"So, what did you find? I ad-ad-admit I think we're still d-d-d-d-doomed."
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  #383  
Old 04-25-2019, 02:40 AM
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With a friendly smile and a slight nod, Mara acknowledges the witnesses who greet her arrival. After a moment of getting her bearings in the busy room, she takes a moment to look over the gallery, wondering if the elf Radniche—and his supposed companion Master Vorkstag—are in attendance, or if they, like Sulliviani, have yet to arrive. Glancing at the empty cage—and the assortment of chains accompanying it—she is rather glad that the defendant is not here. Part of her wonders what Sulliviani's friend Vutha must think of all this.

Vutha. Now there is a puzzle. She glances at Pike and the eagle riding upon his shoulder, giving them both a puzzled look. What is the bird doing here if it isn't the detective's familiar? Why would the dwarf bring an ordinary bird into the courthouse? And how, exactly, is this Vutha bird a supposed friend of the Beast? Evidently there is much more to the story, but for the moment the singer says nothing, trusting that Pike will reveal the truth in time.

The soprano greets Kaple with her customary politeness and grace and follows the barrister into his office. After the door is closed for privacy, she exchanges a look with Hrani and Jamir before answering the stuttering man's question. “As I am to testify today, do allow me to practice in relating our discoveries to you. Hrani: please inform me if I forget any details—it might be helpful to write down the relevant information for me to recall. Indeed, I wonder whether you should be one of the three ...” here she briefly turns to the solicitor “... that is correct, is it not? Adivion—I do believe he is finding a place in the stands now—he said that only three of us are allowed to sit with you for the trial?” Brushing back a long strand of hair, she returns her attention to the magus. “You do such a wonderful job of connecting all the evidence, and in such a clear, simple manner—your ability to remember and organize all the information could prove to be very useful in the courtroom.” She smiles warmly, with a light fluttering of her eyelashes. “After all, you were most certainly useful outside of the courtroom.” It seems that the songstress has not forgotten the elf's protective stance: she was grateful then, offering no resistance to his efforts to defend her from the smoke, and she is still grateful now.

With that, she proceeds to tell Kaple everything she has witnessed, from Morast to the intervention at the North gate to the hunt for the owner of the surgical tools, concluding with their encounter with Miss Vorkstag. Throughout she meanders and embelllishes with the flair of a natural storyteller, her voice rising and falling in a sing-song fashion, like a poet reciting a ballad. She forgets a number of details—what was in the manticore's nest, and some of the items in the graves—but never does she neglect any of the people in her tale: with an almost musical sigh she laments poor Portea's fate, and an ominous tremolo seems to weave through the standoff with the suspected skin-stealer.
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  #384  
Old 04-26-2019, 06:27 AM
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"Cursed?" the dwarf smirks "Not at all, dear Miss Kendra. Not at all." in fact he felt blessed for all the interesting people he'd met since his arrival in Ustalav couple of months ago, far more than he'd met in a lifetime in Druma. Perhaps it was the Lorrimor effect or perhaps this country was just full of interesting people. Chuckling to himself he gives Jamir a friendly wink "She found us Master Jamir, not the other way around." he bids Adivion farewell and follows the group inside.

The smell of pastries awakens a beast within his stomach and a loud growling can clearly be heard by all in attendance "Apologies, I've been travelling all morning and have to admit I'm famished!" he helps himself to a plate of scones and a large buttercrust pastry filled with nuts and dried fruits "Oh this is something else!" he proclaims with his mouth full "You are a well married man Mr. Kaple, my regards to your husband, this is delicious." he props himself down and finishes his meal in silence, listening as Mara goes over her part while he sips on his tea and licks his fingers clean. As she finishes he clears his throat and picks a few crumbs out of his beard before wiping his hands and mouth clean with a napkin "The contents of the manticore nest were not related to the trial itself and as such we should leave it out of our statement." he states, not mentioning what he found in the nest and certainly not what he left in it. His mind is set on one piece of information a piece in the puzzle that now seems to be moving closer to it's intended place "Miss Mara, you mentioned that the owners of the surgical tools found in Morast were sold to Vorkstag and Grines, the former even coming back for another set later on? Perhaps after he'd lost this set." he drums the edge of the table with his fingers, gives it a sharp rap and reaches for his bag "Then it's not a coincidence that the people of Morast and the witness from Sanctuary both described their "Beast" somewhat different from the one we know, as if it was off somehow. The skin not fully fitting..." he pulls a shard of broken glass from the bag, with a label on it belonging to Vorkstag and Grines "I found this in the ruins of Sanctuary, it links the same Vorkstag and Grines to both places. Smells of bleach, probably used to disinfect or for cleaning. I was going to do some snooping around after the trial today but your mention of these gentlemen has me convinced they are the missing link, perhaps they are responsible for the "skinchanger" we were talking about back in Morast?"

He let's these words sink in for a while as he tries to paint a broader picture of the whole scenario "We need to get them in for questioning, at the very least." turning towards Kaple he motions to the sealed bag on the table "This bag contains the severed head of Dr. Brada from Sanctuary found in a nest of heads made by ghouls. I'd like you to arrange a priest that can speak with the dead if you would please." he continues to tell them about what they found in Hergstag, of the lost children and the wraith that called itself Brother Swarm who created them. He tells them about the ghost of Elssa, leading them to the bones of the other children and of the words she spoke about the beast and the message he was to give to her father, they were safe now that Brother Swarm was vanquished.

"Runa brought the bodies back here to give to the families so they could see to their burial. I'd rather not have a priest disturb the sleep of these children, but if it must be done.... I even managed to get a speck of ectoplasm that a priest could confirm belonged to a creature such as Brother Swarm. Hergstag was a tragedy, brought on by a vengeful spirit who wanted revenge on the people of that town. Our client did not commit a crime in Hergstag, but he lost one of the few friends he had there when Elssa died. A tragedy, really." he finishes his tea and scratches his beard, leaning on the table "We are not doomed Mr. Kaple, we have the evidence and we have Miss Mara who can spin gold from wool with her tongue. Get us a priest and get us Vorkstag and Grines on the stands so we can end this farce."

Last edited by Cedric; 05-02-2019 at 06:55 PM.
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  #385  
Old 04-27-2019, 11:06 AM
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VuthaAs the fake smelling man steps towards the doorway, Vutha flies through the open space over it to drop something on his head as he moves inside. But she flies headlong into some invisible barrier and falls back down into the arms of the smoky dwarf below. He again tries to threaten her into submission. She wants to fight back in some way but isn’t sure what that looks like in this place beyond burning the whole thing down. She can’t even fly through the city without even knowing when there would be one of those cursed windows in the way. She has no choice but to trust him, I mean why did she even come here if she wasn’t going to do that much. A bushy eyed Halfling with some fey creature disguised as a bird on his shoulder looks at her as if he is playing with his food before eating it. Sigh.

Her discomfort goes down substantially when they enter the room. There are fewer of these city folk about, making it is easier to keep track of them all. As she does, she suddenly realizes the one who has been doing most of the talking is someone she’d seen before. Back when she had been a frog, this was the one who spared her friend with child. She was the reason why Vutha had even considered approaching the rest of them in the first place. As she listens to the conversation, she realizes that this entire operation is similar in nature to what was done when they spared her pregnant friend: some way of using words to get what you want instead of just burning things down. Which seemed rather inefficient, but then she remembered the window and that she was out of her element. She had no choice but to trust them, it seemed.

She picks at the plate of food, but everything on it tastes of the city. Where was some raw meat when you needed it?

 
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Old 05-01-2019, 03:11 PM
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Hrani is glad Mara takes the task of relating their side of the story, because he feels he has had to repeat it so often the previous night that he has nearly grown sick of it. And if he can barely control his impatience here, how would he ever fare in a courtroom? "Thank you for your kind words, but while I might have a great grasp on the facts, in this trial things won't solely be about what is said, but also about how it is said. And in such a situation, I have no place. I would not be of much help, and I am not convinced I wouldn't end up saying something which would end up causing offense to some person or another, and thereby complicate your life." Hrani replies to Mara with a rare, genuine smile. "Thus, the three people with the barrister should be you, Pike, and either Jamir, Kendra or Runa if she shows up." The magus looks at the dwarf, who is digging in to the provided food, waiting to see if he has any opinions on the matter. Hrani, for his part, has had his share of meals until it is time for lunch.

The elf, listening to Mara recount the story, corrects her on the occasional detail she gets wrong, and even helps her write a list of notes that will help her keep her train of thought and be able to look up anything she might get confused about. Once that is done, he focus more on his own task. "I see myself being more useful in one of two roles: Either providing security from the stands, in case Vorkstag were to start anything. Or outside of the courthouse altogether, investigating. There's probably enough security here already, in addition to several of you..." Hrani glances at Mara. She would be ok, would she not? "But at the same time, the question is what exactly I would be going out to investigate. The Chymic Works while Vorkstag is busy in the courtroom? I'm not sure I could even get in, much less what I could learn, but I could try. Or Vorkstag's sister, though it is not out of the question I would run into her at that location. And I do think that if she were to catch me snooping around, I could be in for some trouble, given yesterday's threats."

Hrani glances around the room, evaluating options for backup. "And with most of you here, I'd have to do this predominantly on my own. Mara and Pike need to be in court. If Runa doesn't show up in time, that would leave Jamir or Kendra, which, no offense intended, but both of you are probably more use following the proceedings here. I suppose I could go find Runa for backup, but we aren't sure what she is up to. I'll go check up on her in any case, but I can't count on finding her. And even if I do, she might be helpful here as extra security. So that leaves me..." Hrani pauses, before adding as an afterthought: "...and I suppose the bird. Vutha, you called it, Pike? It seemed...intelligent, outside? Would it be able to relay a message from me if I get in trouble?" Hrani, unaware of Vutha's nature and abilities, is unsure how much help she would really be. At the same time, he is split on going on his own. On the one hand, nobody with him means no one to betray him. On the other hand, nobody with him means he doesn't have eyes on anyone, has no idea what they are up to, and whether they are circling around somewhere to set up an ambush for him...or for Mara. It is at that moment that the elf realizes that they are dealing with skin-changing creatures, and he hasn't really had an eye on anyone except Mara for over a day. Which opens up the possibility of any of them being an imposter who could stab him in the back...in addition to the previous possibility that they were the companions they claimed to be but would still stab him in the back.

This new possibility makes him worried about leaving Mara out of his sight, with the others. At the same time, perhaps some research into these skin-stealers would be useful. He isn't about to announce that to the room though, not when he is hoping to discover a method that would reveal any imposters here. Hrani glances back at the bird, then shrugs at Pike, as if he hadn't had a thousand new thoughts running through his head before finishing his earlier statement. "I don't know whether it'll be of any use to me, but I'm assuming you didn't bring it for no reason. And since you didn't mention calling Vutha as a witness, besides me, it would seem to be the one who is of the least use here in the courthouse?"
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Old 05-02-2019, 05:31 PM
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Mara shudders, her nose wrinkling with distaste when Pike mentions that his bag contains a severed head. She can certainly understand his logic—compelling the dead to speak as a witness to what actually happened at Sanctuary is an excellent, if grisly, plan—but somehow it still strikes her as wrong, especially after all they have endured at Harrowstone. The thought of reanimating the dead sends a nervous chill down her spine ... but there is more. Something else bothers her, and it takes her a long time before she realizes what it is.

“Severed heads,” she murmurs to herself, noting the plural form of the word. “Pike, did my ears deceive me or did you say that there were multiple severed heads? So people were murdered before the fire even began?” She pauses as a thought occurs to her. “Perhaps ... the fire was set to destroy the evidence?”

The songstress looks around the room for a moment before her gaze settles upon Hrani. “As usual, you are correct. Your skills are needed elsewhere. It seems as if Vorkstag and Grine are the key to this entire affair—you must learn all you can about them.” She twists and untwists a long lock of hair. “According to Radniche, Vorkstag himself will be present at the trial. But we know nothing about Grine or his involvement.” The singer tilts her head to one side. “Hrani, did you not say that you met a gnome at the university? Do you think he would know anything about Grine, seeing as they are kinfolk?”

“As for our third witness, I believe that Runa would be the most sensible choice, for she was also at Hergstag. Besides, as an oathbound paladin, her words should carry more weight, and she is more likely to be believed.”
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Old 05-03-2019, 10:05 PM
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VuthaVutha begins to take stock of her surroundings in this tiny room, feel out who she can trust at least a little bit. It is easier now, there are not so many of them, and the fake smelling man is gone. There is the smoky man with his continued threats, though arguably her closest ally within the room.(Sigh) There is the nervous man with the food. She feels a bit of a connection to him just because she feels the same way. But his food still tastes of the city. There is the one who saved her friend, whom she feels a growing trust for. And then there is the thin one who is talking about her now. She does get a bit of the nervous vibe from him, which makes him more trustworthy in her book. And he did seem a bit protective of the other one she trusts in the room, a mark in his favor. But he keeps calling her it.

Casting BeastspeechVutha croaks once. It sounds almost like a cough.

And then she speaks.

"My pronouns are she/her. Sometimes I am a bird as you see me now. Sometimes I am other things. The smoke man" her head bobs to indicate Pike "says it's better for everyone if I'm a bird."

“I don't like this place, this city or anywhere like it. I am only here to save my friend. I don't know how I would do so in that crowded room we were in unless it meant killing everyone until I found him. It sounds like you city folk have something more effective in mind."
she looks directly at Hrani as she continues. "If I can help you somewhere else, thin man, it might be for the best. I'm really good at burning things down. Especially cities."
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:32 AM
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Hrani had already gathered that there was more than met the eye in concerns with Vutha. That much was clear from her behavior and Pike's subtext. Still, the elf finds himself surprised when she actually speaks. He listens to what the bird-not-really-a-bird has to say, before nodding. "Well, it looks like we have a plan then. Her...", the magus gestures at Vutha "...and I will go do some research. Hold back on burning things down for now, but it sounds like you will be excellent to have along for backup in case we do run into trouble."

Hrani considers more Vutha has said, and he finds himself agreeing with parts of it. He isn't particularly fond of this city either. The uncivilized behaviors here rub him the wrong way, though less so than they were a few days ago. 'I find myself growing more accustomed to things here than I like...' With a shudder, Hrani recalls the man they had met the previous evening. Radniche. Barely a shell of an elf now, after years of living in this town. Acclimated. Devolved to enjoy this place. Was that what he is in store for if he stays longer? "No. You would make this place adapt to you, not the other way around. That is your place in the world..." A sentiment that perhaps Hrani should spend more time thinking about, but Orenmir's words are feint at the back of his mind, talking more to his subconscious, while his conscious mind is focused here on the present.

"I did meet a gnome at the university." Hrani nods to Mara. "And under different circumstances, I agree that it would at least be worth trying to see if he has information. Unfortunately, I already spotted Myphar in the crowd in the trial chamber, so I do not think he will be available for me to talk to today. It sounds then, like my investigations will be focused on Grine, Vorkstag's sister and skinstealers. Alright, Vutha, let us go investigate..."

Hrani begins making his way out of the chamber, before turning around at the last minute. "Good luck with the trial. I'm sure you'll do great." He doesn't address anyone in particular, speaking to all those who will be involved in the proceedings. But as he looks around at them, his gaze lingers longer on Mara than the others. His words are meant for all of them, but also for her in particular. Then he leaves, Vutha in tow, unless someone has anything more to add.

On his way out of the courthouse, a though strikes the "thin man". "Sometimes you are other things? So you mean to say you change your form into that of another creature." Hrani says matter-of-factly. Very convenient. Perhaps he could take care of the first order of business right a way. Who better to ask about shapeshifting creatures than a shapeshifter? Of course, the potential danger isn't lost on him. Can he really rule out that this creature is not a skinstealer, in league with Vorkstag's sister? No, if he thinks any of his old companions might have been replaced, or been skinstealers from the beginning, for that matter, then a known shapeshifter is certainly no less suspicious. It would be a very indiscrete way of approaching the matter, but in Hrani's mind that doesn't necessarily mean the plan is so stupid that no one would do that. No, to the magus' mind, this instead simply means the ploy would be so complicated he has not figured out the benefit yet.

OoCFirst stop university for some general research on skinstealers, I think. With a particular focus on how to recognize them/whether there is a way to force them to reveal their true form. Trying to be at least a little bit subtle about it and not blabbering to everyone what his goal is, but also more intent on results than secrecy. Figure Hrani would hit up any contacts he has at the university (I remember there was at least one professor he talked to, and I believe someone in the library/archive) and see if they can point him to an expert, as that would be a lot faster than reading up on things himself.

 
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:24 AM
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VuthaAnd so they leave the courtroom. When the thin man starts asking her personal questions when they are back out on the street in front of all the cityfolk she becomes even more frustrated. Didn’t he realize she only talked when she was with those she felt safe with? Well, as safe as could be expected given that she was in a city and everyone else was cityfolk. Was he this stupid or just distracted by something? She assumed stupid.

Her only response was a rather rude squack followed by a negatory shaking of the head.

This wasn’t working. She should go. Back to the smoke man. Whatever else she was supposed to be helping the thin man with, it didn’t sound like it involved burning down the city, so it couldn’t be much more useful than whatever she was going to do here.

She turned from her perch on the thin man’s shoulders to look back into the courtroom. The fake smelling man paused from whatever conversation he was having with some female courtier to look at her. The disdain in that glance told her everything she needed to know. He was in charge here. Hadn’t he stopped her the last time she tried to come into this courtroom all by herself? And then he turned away from Vutha as if she didn’t matter and whispered something in the ear of the slight human female that seemed to be enraptured by his talk. She giggled and Vutha was forgotten. But Vutha knew that the fake smelling man could use his windows are a sufficiently advanced technology as far as Vutha is concernedunnatural magics again to prevent her from entering. In fact he probably didn’t even have to consciously be aware of it for it to work. It seemed like he was in charge of this entire city and there was nothing now she could do to save her friend except go with this seemingly stupid thin man to do something other than burn down the city.

She said nothing, but petulantly rearranged her perch on his shoulder as he set off about his business.

 
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