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Thread: Chapter Four: Are There Any Bad Seeds?

  1. #1

    Post Chapter Four: Are There Any Bad Seeds?

    SPLIT SCREEN: ON SIDE “A” OF THE WALL, FLINT AND ULVENN…

    Out of a combination of training and habit Flint and Ulvenn move with stealthy grace and soundless footfalls and mask their own passage in the sandy underground caverns as best they can while they trail Ashlan. A year ago someone who observed them and deduced they might pick her pocket or cut her purse strings wouldn’t have been wrong, but that was then.

    Their subterranean journey involves more mazelike corridors and illusory walls and two orange glowing teleportation circles, the last of which deposits them in a dramatically different corridor whose smooth red stone floors and walls suggests a finished building. The two soldiers-of-fortune have high hopes they have at last reached their destination.

    As if sensing their high spirits, Jack the almiraj pokes his horned head out of Flint’s enchanted backpack, and Syriaax the green pseudodragon sticks her snout out one of Ulvenn’s coat pockets. Both of them take deep sniffs. Then they extricate themselves and stand “at attention,” the rabbit-like fey creature poised with neck raised telescope-fashion beside Flint’s foot, and Syriaax with her leaf-like wings furled and tiny claws digging into one of Ulvenn’s shoulders.

    Ashlan hmmms at the appearance of the beasts and makes sure neither man is wearing any kind of mask or face covering, including making Flint remove his darkvision goggles. She even pats their cheeks lightly to make sure they do not wear false faces.

    “No disguises in front of Lady Weslen. Strict protocol,” she explains. “She is trusting us to look upon her, and her most valuable asset the Oppara Gateway, after all. But I will allow you to make your own introductions.”

    Then she leads them through yet another false wall, takes a few steps toward a seeming dead end (though they know better now, of course), and raps out a pattern on one wall. It’s obviously a code but not one either man recognizes.


    SPLIT SCREEN: ON SIDE “B” OF THE WALL, SHADE…

    After Ashlan’s knock rings out (similar to the maritime code of Shade’s acquaintance), Peasblossom the pink haired and pink winged pixie renders herself totally invisible with an easy effort of will. She stands straight at her favorite post on her companion’s shoulder, with Shade’s dark locks providing convenient (well, convenient for one of them) handholds if anything should startle them.

    Shade reassures Lady Weslen in a low tone that she will be discreet about whatever and whomever enters through the secret passage. Subconsciously the private investigator adjusts her wide brimmed conical black hat.

    It’s a hat with storied history that transcends boundaries and planes, a history that would have some onlookers beseeching her for herbal remedies and others scurrying the other direction---neither of which was incorrect as a show of respect when meeting with a witch.

    Lady Weslen issues commands in the nonsensical machine language, spurring the gold plated winged constructs to lumber away from a far wall and line up in two orderly rows. Their ranks form an aisle that leads from a blank wall to where she and Shade stand with their backs to the magical Gate.

    (golems, refresher)


    BOTH SPLIT SCREENS, NOW UNITED

    A concealed door in the wall swings open…


    OOC:

    To be continued directly! When these posts get too long I feel the need to break them up into a series.
    Last edited by magrat4; 03-19-2020 at 11:08 PM.

  2. #2

    Default A Wolf, a Fox, and a Witch Walk into a Parley...

    [From Shade’s/Peasblossom’s perspective:]

    The first to enter the large room of arches and pillars (and too many gold constructs) is another fetchling woman. Ashlan has yellow eyes and pale hair like Lady Weslen but looks young enough to be the middle-aged woman’s daughter, and is clad all in black with many knives strapped about her person.



    Behind Ashlan are two men between the ages of nineteen and twenty-two if Shade had to guess, both around six feet tall and clad in black cloaks and varying armor (one plain leather, one shiny mithral silver). They are well armed with sheathed blades of varying length and different types of bows, one a longbow and one a crossbow. Some of their weapons emit a moonglow radiance of enchantment.

    To the trained eye of a witch accustomed to meeting “Otherworlders” like fey and elementals and shapeshifters and even the undead, certain aspects hint the men are not themselves ordinary, or at the very least their ancestors weren’t.





    On the longbowman’s shoulder perches a cat-sized emerald pseudodragon with leaf-like wings.




    [@JB: Knowledge Arcana to ID the dragon? Read next spoiler IF you roll high enough to match the Difficulty Class, i.e. DC listed.]








    Hopping beside the crossbowman is what appears to be a brown rabbit with a black unicorn horn.



    [@JB: Knowledge Arcana to ID the magical beast? Read next spoiler IF you roll high enough.]





    [From Flint’s/Ulvenn’s perspective:]

    The door opens to a palatial chamber crowded with golden gargoyle-like constructs whose ranks leave only a narrow clear walkway. This path ends in a fiery-orange magic portal, with two female human figures standing in front of it dramatically backlit, only one of whom is obviously shadowfolk.



    “I did not anticipate you had company too, Lady Weslen,” Ashlan says in a tone that clearly gripes Because you didn’t warn me.

    The fetchling she addresses has one metallic golden arm ending in a claw just like the constructs, but otherwise is typical of her people with yellow eyes and white hair beneath her leather cap that holds a pair of dark goggles. Her clothes are grand, almost like an Admiral’s dress uniform, except for the black glove dripping mechanical grease that hangs from one fist.

    The men study the room’s other occupant while the thirty-ish human looking woman studies them back, first checking for weapons concealed or otherwise. They detect none amid her black and maroon traveling clothes and boots. None, save for a bandolier (peeking out from the gap in her high collared midnight blue cloak) that could hold flasks or potions. Her witchy hat strongly hints they’re potions.

    She does not appear to be accompanied by a cat or other traditional familiar.






    Ashlan extends her arm toward the other fetchling and declares, “Lady Weslen, I may have found some men willing to help with our recent…troubles. When you have a private moment.”

    Lady Weslen shakes her head. “Too late for secrecy, Ashlan. She deduced the murder of Mr. Zlatnik and the Pathfinders sent her to see that his killer doesn’t get away with it. She may as well know about the---“ she falters a moment---“the other murder, too. They may be unrelated…or else Rovagug’s cult may just be getting bolder.”

    In a flash Flint and Ulvenn recall the first murder mentioned, and it seems likely the Shining Quarter’s herald and favorite minstrel is the second.



    The fetchlings look from Shade to Flint and Ulvenn, clearly hoping they’ll choose to introduce themselves.


    OOC:

    Respond at will! And it doesn’t have to be with introductions just because the NPCs expect them, there’s a lot going on here.

    Done editing this post.
    Last edited by magrat4; 05-03-2020 at 08:05 PM. Reason: orc

  3. Default

    Shade takes a step forward, greeting the newcomers with a tilt of her head. "Greetings. I'm Shade Renard. As Lady Weslen says, I've been hired by the Pathfinder Society to find out who's responsible for the murder of Mr. Zlatnik. The tiefling was found dead in a crate that he'd apparently intended to stow away in. The crate that left the Umbral Market arrived in Oppara holding his dead body and a living Goran mastiff." She pauses. "I was unaware there was a second, connected murder. May I ask what you know about it?"

    It's a good sign to Shade that both the fetchling women seem to trust the men who stand before her. Still, she doesn't mention Peasblossom, or give her familiar a sign to make herself known. She'd wait to see how the men reacted to her first. Not everyone trusted witches, and the close call with the construct had her feeling more overprotective than usual.

    Knowledge Arcana rolls mentioned in above post:
    Last edited by jblackstream; 03-20-2020 at 01:10 AM.

  4. Default (^%$%%^

    Knowledge Arcana rolls mentioned in previous post that I forgot to include in my response and the *$%*% editor won't let me edit to add later.

    Authentic Forum Dice-roll(d20+14) [22]
    Authentic Forum Dice-roll(d20+14) [22]

  5. #5

    Default

    Before entering the room.

    As Syriaax comes forth from her hiding place Ulvenn rewards her with a small wedge of cheese, projecting to her a mental image of a peaceful waterfall, as he does so in case her memories of the shadowplane might bring some anxiety.

    In the room

    The Ulfen (think viking) warrior stands taller than his roguish companion, however despite his somewhat wild appearance his eyes are critical, observing the room in a few moments. He looks the investigator up and down as she speaks before introducing himself, unlike his outward appearance his voice comes is soft and deep, "If we're sharing names then you can call me Ulvenn, and this," he says gesturing to the little dragon munching cheese on his shoulder, "is Syriaax. As for the murder we are as a wolf pack at the beginning of the night, unsure of what quarry we might seek, knowing only that a hunt is before us," Ulvenn then parrots what Ashlan had told Flint and himself just a little bit ago, adding his own faint knowledge of history, "What we do know is that a bard was murdered, and in some fashion preventing basic magic from restoring his body and spirit. It may be the work of a weapon owned by Zantog fashioned after a vile demon's blade, or it could be something else. Not enough information to really lay blame."

    H
    e turns to Lady Weslen, "But that's not the only reason we are here. We also have some business in Oppara, and your gate seems to be the best option for getting there swiftly."


  6. Default

    Shade smiles at the imposing man's deceptively soft voice and poetic turn of phrase, though it wilts quickly at the mention of the bard's murder. As the warrior turns his focus to Lady Weslent, she unzips her pouch. "To do list," she murmurs.

    Bizbee scowls at her from inside the pouch, the grig's antennae vibrating in apprehension. New people made him nervous. Well, until he was introduced. Then he treated them all as children. She glances at the remaining person who hasn't been introduced. One more, then she'd introduced her smaller companions.

    She takes the to do list and reads the remaining item:

    Speak to Rhodal's butler Hubbert at 121 B Sonoria Lane, above Joyful Strains music shop about mysterious retrieval team. Password: Swordfish

    After a moment of hesitation, she sighs and accepts the pen to add:

    Address poor conditions of the Umbral Market for Harbormaster Annett

  7. #7

    Default

    The two fetchlings interject to clarify what Ulvenn was explaining.

    Lady Weslen begins in a somber tone, "Zantog is an orc and known worshiper of Rovagug. Gods help us, he is also one of six merchant royals that form the Caliginous Court that oversees the Umbral Market, at present."

    The emphasis on the last words implies she wants him ousted, perhaps even has plans to do so.

    Ashlan chimes in tightly, "Zantog's territory is the Gambling Quarter. Its centerpiece is a gladiatorial arena. Fights there are always vicious and to the death. We have no proof he was involved in Duffy's murder. But as Ulvenn said, Zantog owns a sword in part fashioned from demon teeth. It can drink the soul of a victim stabbed in the vitals."

    "However," Lady Weslen resumes, "as I was about to tell you Miss Renard, those two witnesses to Mr. Zlatnik's murder saw Zantog's second-in-command break his neck. That would be an orc named Mr. Splinterbone, a powerful druid and shapeshifter. To my disgrace, the Umbral Market has become a law unto itself and a very corrupt one. The four Darklanders on the council voted not to punish Mr. Splinterbone beyond a sum of blood money which nobody has shown up to collect."

    He turns to Lady Weslen, "But that's not the only reason we are here. We also have some business in Oppara, and your gate seems to be the best option for getting there swiftly."
    His mention of Oppara spurs a memory in Shade, and she realizes one of these men's faces look familiar...




    "I could let you use the Oppara Gate for a sum of 975 gold for two heads," Lady Weslen offers. "Or you could pay for its use in trade if that suits you better?"

    "Seizing the demon blade from Zantog!" Ashlan blurts.

    Her superior grimaces. "That might be asking too much. Perhaps a reconnaissance mission first. Then we'll see."


    OOC:


    Am happy for the PCs to talk among themselves a bit while I plan...
    Last edited by magrat4; 05-03-2020 at 08:06 PM.

  8. #8

    Default

    Flint's deep blue eyes seem to shimmer, either showing the dark unknowable sea, or the fury and passion of the hottest flame, either way, No one but perhaps the wolfish ulfin beside him could hope to divine what the pickpocket was thinking. Still his cocky smile and relaxed posture betray that the young man is never far from overcoming yet another "impossible" challenge. Diminutive besides Ulvenn, the young man moved with the practiced grace of a lethal duelist, who could say who was the greater threat between the two? One thing was sure, a concert of Fox and Wolf was surely a daunting affair for their enemies.

    Despite being classically handsome, it was clear that the taldan could disappear into the streets of oppara and be as invisible as any spell could make him, at least within a throng of other humans or a dark alley. Though like any good gambler, Flint held more than just an ace up his sleeve, barely hanging out from under the cuff a leather wrist sheath could barely be seen. In fact the way that he bore some weapons openly and hid others was far more interesting than him carrying a hidden blade.

    Inquisitive eyes sweep over the room, they never seem to stop moving, weather darting back to whoever was speaking, checking the doors or simply peering at anything that could even pretend to be valuable, a pair of eyes that rest curiously over shade for far longer than anything else

    "I am Casper Rooke" Flint leans back on standard alias for the shadow market, a gift from an vishkanya who had helped him fake his own death. Dexterous fingers freeing a fresh stick of celery and presenting it to the large jack rabbit sitting at attention by his feet "And didn't another prince loose his seat recently? makkenna? malazar? something like that? the way I heard it, he managed to get on the wrong side of a genie and had a tunnel dropped on top of him."

    Of course Flint could remember Melkenazar's name, it was certainly one of Flint's most vicious duels and ended with the former Drow prince being beaten to death by one of Lucianna's worst spells, but that was.... well about a week ago. "I think we can handle 'royalty" Flint mocks "as for Duffy, I don't mind getting paid to avenge a friend" Flint states finally, his jaw set, though no murderous intent can be read from his face.

    As for Flint's voice, it is rather common for a Taldan, but there is something more to it, its not just that he seems to know how to wear his words like a mask, or use them like a blade, there is more, something... something ancient, and powerful, but simple at the same time. An old type of magic, a magic left to runic goddesses, and pacts made under willow trees in the moonlight. The kind of magic that wizards dismiss and clergy condemn. Whatever the power was, it clearly enhanced a natural ability and for the young street rat, it was a welcome tool.

    ooc
    sorry if the post was overly flower/took too many liberties, and sorry if I mischaracterized the nymphs kiss
    Last edited by magrat4; 03-21-2020 at 03:27 AM. Reason: not an ifriti but a vishkanya who helped him, tiny detail change

  9. Default

    "If this Mr. Splinterbone is involved in the murder of the bard--Duffy?--and Mr. Zlatnik, then it seems our goals may be in alignment. Though if I may ask..." Shade tilts her head and focuses on the man who'd introduced himself as "Casper Rooke." "Who is paying you to find the murderer of the bard? I've been hired by the Pathfinder Society, but Lady Heidmarch didn't mention another party was involved. Though perhaps she did not realize the two murders were connected."

    Shade doesn't respond to Lady Ashlan right away about the request that they steal the demon sword from Zantog. She's only just begun this investigation, and knows little of what lies ahead, and the level of danger posed the threat they faced. Casper had spoken with a great deal of confidence when he'd assured the room that he had no doubts he and his companion were more than a match for any of the royalty Lady Ashlan and Lady Weslen seem so concerned about. It was too early for Shade to know for certain if it was the bluster of youth that gave him that confidence, or if he had concrete reason for believing himself a match for the royal with the demon blade.

    Shade glances at the first speaker, Ulvenn, looking to see if he shares his companion's conviction.
    Last edited by magrat4; 03-21-2020 at 03:27 AM.

  10. #10

    Default

    "The drow merchant prince lost his power to a Matron Chazserae," Lady Weslen agrees. "She is still in power far as I know, but her influence has diminished. Duffy was the one who financed the liberation of the slaves who were expanding her tunnels, and the destruction of those tunnels. So it is possible that the drow were the ones who killed Duffy or paid for the...despicable deed."

    Shade tilts her head and focuses on the man who'd introduced himself as "Casper Rooke." "Who is paying you to find the murderer of the bard? I've been hired by the Pathfinder Society, but Lady Heidmarch didn't mention another party was involved. Though perhaps she did not realize the two murders were connected."


    Ashlan speaks up to answer Shade's question before Flint can. "I told him less than an hour ago that Lady Weslen would hire someone with a proper contract to find Duffy's killer and bring them to justice."

    She reconsiders her words. "Well, as much as can be had, when arrests cannot be made within the Umbral Market. The only court around here are the merchant royals. As the murder of Mr. Zlatnik proves, they are not reliable for justice. They had one of two witnesses willing to testify. The other witness was a half-elf ranger who has not been seen in the marketplace in two days."

    Lady Weslen raises a finger. "No contract has been drawn up yet. Perhaps the more brains working on the problem, the merrier? But perhaps you have pressing business in Oppara first, some of you?"


    OOC:

    Ulvenn and Flint definitely have business in Oppara. Shade's investigation has some leads to follow in Oppara as well.
    Last edited by magrat4; 03-21-2020 at 03:52 AM.

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