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Friday, 2nd November, 2007, 11:17 PM #1
Novice (Lvl 1)
We're Still not Quite Dead Yet, a Planescape Story Hour (updated 11-21-07)
This is a story hour for one of my PBP games on the Planewalker forums (check them out). I'm looking to improve as a writer, so any kind of feedback is really apreciated. I'll update when I can (which probably won't be too often). Because it's PBP, it is possible that I may catch up to the campaign. If so, I'll write about character backstory and metaplot. Some changes have been made to improve how the story reads, but much of the dialouge is straight out of the game.
Yebena ap Ezeya the Bearded sat quietly in a far corner of the roof/balcony of the Crossed Daggers tavern in Hell’s Gate. It was light, and Sigil’s normally choking smog had dissipated in a moderate breeze. The tan and white furred aracanaloth was flanked by two hulking skeletons. Both were polished until they reflected their surroundings and then decorated with elaborate blue spirals. ‘She’ was here for a reason, but she willed it out of her mind, assuring herself that no matter what happened, planning was futile now. Such an attitude flew was against her nature, but it was necessary. The pieces had been set, but despite all her best efforts and those of her superiors, the other side–fate–had the first move in this game. She would wait.
She settled into her seat and casually took stock of her surroundings, searching for possible threats or opportunities. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the security staff which consisted of three barbazu goons. They were neat and dressed in sharply creased crimson uniforms trimmed with gold thread. Dressed for the parade field, the lesser devils looked almost socially acceptable. The other employees of the tavern wore a similar, though less martial version of the same outfit. The arcanaloth quickly lost interest in these sights, however. Tonight’s patrons seemed fairly typical given the infernal nature of the tavern. She noticed that the mortal serving staff shied away from her, politely checking to make *absolutely certain* other more distant patrons were completely satisfied with their food and drinks.
The arcanaloth steepled her long clawed hands front of her and sat indifferently for a moment before telepathically ‘clearing her throat’ to remind the serving staff of her presence. More prompting was unnecessary and the four serving girls wordlessly singled out the unlucky one who walked quickly and resignedly to the ‘loth’s table.
“Umm...excuse me…uh,” the small black-haired girl managed to say; hesitating under the fiend’s expressionless stare.
“Ma’am,” Yebena offered helpfully. A thin smile stretched across her jackal’s muzzle. It seemed almost friendly, pitying maybe. Or maybe not. She would have some fun while she waited. It would help keep her mind from the task at hand.
The girl hesitated again, “Excuse me, ma’am…uh…what is it you want to order tonight?” Still spoken timidly.
“I think…perhaps that I may need some time to think on that.” Yebena laughed inwardly but still wore her almost-friendly face.
The girl’s shoulders fell. She knew for certain the fiend was playing games with her mind and deriving great enjoyment from her discomfort.
“Do you…menu. I mean…” she faltered again and stopped dead.
“No. I memorized the chalkboard downstairs.”
The girl quickly retreated. When she was halfway to the stairs Yebena held up a clawed finger, “Wait,” the girl spun around in surprise. “On second thought, I think that I will have something to drink while I decide.”
“Surprise me,” the arcanaloth said, inwardly laughing. Creating stress and fear in others helped to lighten her own burden.
Yebena crossed her arms and patiently waited for her new toy to return.
Instead, a winged humanoid walked slowly to her table, holding a bottle of wine and a glass. Yebena allowed her ears to visibly droop in disappointment.
“Hello and good evening to you, Ma’am,” said the erinyes, who seemed unfazed by the arcanaloth’s presence. “Have you decided what you want to eat yet?” the she-devil asked, curling her brownish wings around her shoulders like a cloak as she poured the ‘loth’s drink.
This question gave Yebena pause. She had already planned out a needlessly complicated and difficult-to-remember request to torment the mortal with. She wouldn’t eat most of it, but money wasn’t of any real concern. Now she had to think of what she actually wanted. The menu wasn’t long enough to confuse an erinyes who probably had thousands of years’ experience negotiating needlessly complicated infernal contracts and treaties.
“I will have bread,” Yebena said simply.
“Will that be all?” confirmed the erinyes, genuinely surprised at the arcanaloth’s simple request. The devil was certain she missed some extremely important detail.
“Yes, that will be all.”
Yebena resumed her idle observation of the patrons. “Oi, you!” Yebena’s head snapped towards the foolish mortal who had interrupted her reverie. Her fur bristled and she suppressed a snarl. This was not a convenient time. The exclamation also caught the attention of other nearby patrons, who turned towards the disruption. “Aye, you!” mumbled the human loudly, taking another sip of his ale and spilling the better part of it on his shirt. He was dressed in Sigil’s latest fashions and very drunk.
Out of the corner her eye, Yebena could see the three barbazu chattering telepathically. One laid down a few gold coins. The other two followed suit after some more chatter.
You will have no fight today, little devils, Yebena thought to herself.
Nearby customers also waited expectantly for something to happen. The rest were too absorbed in their drinks or conversations to notice.
“I assume,” said the ‘loth (after she had smoothed out her fur and composed herself) levelly–almost whispering, “That you are speaking to me?’’ To any sober person, the threat would be painfully obvious. Then again, a sober person would have the good sense not to taunt a greater yugloth, thus avoiding the problem entirely.
“Aye. Yam talking teh you, berk,” slurred the drunk. “Whadar you doin’ here? Thish eesh an estableeshmunt for…Baatehs…Bait-a-shoe…devilsh, not for ‘lothsh.”
“I suppose you should leave then.” Yebena’s soft, matter-of-fact voice did not change. It betrayed none of her emotions, though the ‘loth’s mind wandered, meditating on the best way to make the mortal suffer.
“Yesh I yam! Yam Mehpishtophleesh, Lord of the Fifth,” countered the drunk.
“I’m sure Levistus is thrilled by this turn of events.” This comment was met with small grins from the spectators and harsh, grunting laughs from the more distant barbazu.
“Levishtush? Yam Levishtush too! Yam…Mephilevistopheleeshusomesuch, Mashter of Hellfire! I’ll cast you into the deepesht pit of Hell!”
Yebena turned her attention elsewhere.
“You can’t jusht ignore Mephit-levishtush! I call on the power of hellfire to shmite you!” The bubber flailed his arms wildly and pointed to the ‘loth’s turned back. Evidently, he was not Mephistopheles, the Lord of Hellfire.
The erinyes returned a few minutes later with a small loaf of freshly heated bread and butter.
“You musht remove her,” the bubber instructed the erinyes. “She ishen’t a devil.”
The erinyes’ attractive face twisted from the politely indifferent face of a waitress to a vicious sneer. Mortals weren’t supposed to tell devils what to do. Yebena raised a clawed hand and saved the devil from the eternal disfavor of two Lords of the Nine, “This berk is Levistus *and* Mephistopheles,” she said as though it were the truest thing in the multiverse, “You probably shouldn’t cross them.” As an afterthought, she added, “Their power is a terrifying thing.”
“That’s right, it eesh! I’ll shmite you all! Don’t laugh at the lord of hellfire!”
The erinyes glared at the mortal and held his gaze for several second. Her string of telepathic threats was sufficient to shut him up temporarily.
Yebena looked around for another empty table. A shouting match–or worse, an open fight (one-sided as it would be) wasn’t her style and she couldn’t afford to be kicked out of the tavern tonight. She would get her revenge…but on her own terms. Yebena was disappointed–it was a busy night–but she saw that one table’s composition had shifted.
A minute ago, there was an aasimar couple and a falxugon seated at the table. The fiend’s bodyguard stood behind his master’s chair, arms crossed. Yebena got the general drift of the conversation despite the distractions in her immediate area. It seemed that the couple was trying to bargain for the woman’s soul back with little success.
The devil ended the conversation: “Don’t worry, your soul is in fine hands.” The tearful couple left quickly.
“Don’t worry; your soul is in fine hands.” Heh. She would have to remember that one.
Now a strange human wearing a ragged blue buccaneer’s coat and a silvered gauntlet sat talking to the falxugon. The human’s face was heavily bandaged save for his eyes. One was a normal shade of blue; the other was a brass orb with a sharp yellow glow where the pupil would normally be. He did not seem particularly invested in the conversation. Yebena thought he heard him introduce himself as Bruce.
“Please pardon my asking,” Yebena telepathically hailed the falxugon, “But may I join you? I tire of my current...company.” She added this with a meaningful glare at the bubber, who was oblivious.
“Certainly. I do so tire of the chatter of mortals, so I would appreciate the company of peers. May I have your name, my lady?” replied the devil.
Peers indeed, devil! The yugloth scoffed to herself.
“I am called Yebena ap Ezeya the Bearded.” Yebena did in fact have a small and neatly trimmed white beard.
Yebena stood to her full height–almost six-and-a-half feet tall–and powerfully built for an arcanaloth. Despite her size, she still looked almost skeletal. The devil instructed his bodyguard to pull out a chair for the ‘loth and one of Yebena’s skeletons set her plate and glass down. At her direction, the skeletons took two steps back and stood completely still, resting their sword points on the ground.
For several seconds, Canzonzabar turned his attention elsewhere. Yebena followed his gaze to the drunk human, who was utterly terrified by whatever telepathic threats the devil made. Fearing for his life and soul, the human searched for the quickest way to escape the bar–off the edge of the roof. As the bubber clumsily lowered himself down, Yebena gave him a small telekinetic push. The sickening crunch of breaking bones and the screams of pain could be heard clearly from two stories in the air until they were suddenly cut short by another crunch of bones and the sound of something heavy and wooden hitting the ground.
“SHUT UP YOU BLEEDIN’ MORTAL!” Barked a loud voice in infernal.
The other of the two hamatulas in charge of security downstairs laughed, “Huszi, you have just killed a mortal with a *table.* New lows, comrade. New lows.”
“Lows? Surely you jest. They should pay me to be the entertainment here! It beats the sodding dreadful flute players we have tonight,” replied the first hamatula.
“Improvisational mortal killing. That’s not such a bad idea. We could sell tickets.” The two hamatula’s conversation faded as they went back inside; likely to be continued telepathically.
The fiends and some of the nastier mortals smiled or openly laughed. Those who knew the context of the previous conflict looked worriedly at Yebena, assuming she was responsible for the bubber’s fall.
The falxugon turned back and addressed new guest warmly as though nothing had happened, “I am pleased to meet you. I am known as Canzonzabar, and this is my associate, Trift. The fellow there is called Bruce Maxson. Pray tell, what brings you to the Crossed Daggers this fine day?”
“I am called Yebena,” she said for the benefit of Bruce. “I am here to sit, drink, and maybe talk.”
“Ah, but there is much to be found in this establishment aside from beverages, Lady Min. Opportunities abound for the enterprising sort, such as myself. Connections to be set up, bargains to be negotiated. If I may ask, where lie your interests in such matters? I am always on the lookout for profitable arrangements… mutually profitable, of course”
If I wanted to do business, I would be at the Tenth Circle speaking with people who have something useful to offer me. Think what you will, but your game is a very small one, devil.
Bruce turned to face Canzon, a strange intensity in his voice, "So, you never answered my question before. How many generations are you?"
The falxugon responded with a hint of irritation, though his tone remained charming and polite, “I’m afraid your question is lost on me, Mr Maxson. Are you referring to “age,” rank, or some such?”
"You know, how many gen..." Bruce suddenly loses the intensity in his voice. "I'm sorry, sir. At first glance, I was of the impression that you were had fiendish heritage. I realize now that despite your humanoid appearance, you are full fiend. I apologize if this has insulted you in any way."
Insulted, Canzon takes care to restrain himself. For a moment, his smile twisted into a subtle sneer, but it was gone before the change was noticeable. ”For a centuries-old planewalker your…unawareness…astounds me, Mr. Maxson. You would know, that an abundance of exemplars assume visages much more ‘humanoid’ than mine. The whole term is terribly misconstrued – a great deal of us had four limbs and a head on a torso long before humans existed. After all, the creator gods had to get their inspiration from somewhere. However, thanks to the sheer abundance of humans on the planes, the power of belief has altered our forms to more closely resemble theirs.” Turning back to Bruce, the falxugon returns to his more formal tone, “I have not failed to notice, my dear Mr. Maxson, that you have not answered my question, either. Do you have business to pursue here?”
"I never said I was a planewalker, experienced or otherwise." Bruce replied, dully, "And as for my purpose here, I seek to entertain myself and pass the time. Nothing more, nothing less."
A dark haired and heavily muscled human dressed in a fine crimson toga strode regally to the table, heading off any potential confrontatation. Like the others, he noticed that the table was not occupied by a fixed group. He wore two gauntlets made of mithril and silver mixed together in a regular spiral pattern. At his belt, he carried a falchion–beautifully forged and decorated in some places with gold and rubies. He looked like a well dressed warrior, though he had no scars on his tanned skin to prove it.
"Do you mind if I pull a chair up? You seem to be a more intriguing group than these other dotards sopped in bub."
Smiling to the newest guest, Canzonzabar indicates an empty chair.
“Peculiar. It seems this evening is for new acquaintances… By all means, have a seat, my good man. This is Yebena,” says the falxugon, gesturing to the arcanaloth, “The…thoroughly clothed gentleman is called Mr. Bruce Maxson. I am Canzonzabar; businessman and diplomat; depending on where I stand to profit. Might you be so kind as to grace us with your name?”
The tanned man sat, keeping his back straight and shoulders squared in perfect military posture. "Indeed it is, Master Canzonzabar. I'm a foreigner interested in business of the sharp sort," his tanned hand rests upon the pommel of the falchion, "If you catch my drift. You may call me by the surname of Penance. What sort of trade do you run?"
Canzonzabar never had the opportunity to respond. He was interrupted a tremendous crash of the tavern’s heavy metal doors. Yebena’s ears twitched at the noise.
So it begins. I’d have thought they’d be more subtle.
“NOBODY PIKIN’ MOVE!!! THIS IS A BLEEDIN’ ROBBERY!” The voice is loud, but strangely high.
Or maybe not. This may present a…problem.
The security staff on the second floor appeared strangely undisturbed by this so-called robbery. They continued their conversation as though nothing had happened.
“THAT’S RIGHT ADDLE-COVES! KEEP REACHIN’ FER THAT CEILING! I’LL BE FINISHE – HAHAHA, I’LL BE…” the ‘robber’ snorted, “…FINISHED WITH YOU IN NO TI…” He broke into fits hysterical laughter. “OOH, YE SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE LOOK ON YER FACE KHARASTA!”
There was a short pause, followed by muffled conversation on the otherwise quiet first floor.
A few seconds later the sound of feet banging against the stairs, could be heard–as if someone was hopping. True enough, a ridiculously looking character hopped onto the second floor. He had pale white skin, long green hair, and glowing red eyes. The figure wore a black and red silk jester’s outfit. He wore two longswords sheathed at his waist The jester was flanked by two similarly dressed lackeys. All three carried loaded crossbows Bruce leaps to his feat, his silver gauntlet leveled at Drum.
“Ladies! Gentlemen! Whatever the hell Kharasta is….have no fear! Su’ore Drum – the JOKER is FINALLY here!!!” Drum broke into another fit of hysterical laughter.
So the tenth most wanted man in Sigil has graced us with his presence. I wonder what the price on your head is now…No. On second thought I’d rather mount your head above my desk. The City Guard can’t have it.
In all of ten seconds, a Xaositect had ruined plans that had taken decades–no, centuries–to put into action. It was time to improvise.
On hearing the introduction, Bruce returned to his seat. Penance allowed the Joker to finish before smoothly rising–assuming a defensive stance. Canzonzabar’s hulking bodyguard also acts. His bow is drawn, raised, and pointed at the stairs in one smooth motion. Yebena turned her head to look Drum in the eye but otherwise remained motionless. Canzonzabar also glared at the Joker.
Noticing the extreme hostility in the eyes of the occupants of Canzonzabar’s central table, Drum skips up to them, wearing an impossibly wide grin. “Ooh! Tough crowd..... Like the saying goes: Dying is Easy - Comedy is Hard.”
Without warning, the Joker’s grin shifts into an unnaturally frightening frown, “Boys, let's bring some cheer to that table.” He points right at the standing Penance. Just as quickly as he frowned, the Joker grinned again: “LOOK SHARP!” He screamed and fired. His lackey’s did to–a few seconds later.
The crossbows do not fire metal bolts. They did nothing more than make a loud bang and a bright flash. The Joker broke into another fit of rabid laughter. His minions seem to have missed the joke. They stand, confused.
Turning his attention towards Canzonzabar, he says, “Don't worry guvner. I wouldn't kill you...unless, of course, I WOULD!”
“Those would be the two choices, yes,” says Bruce blankly.
"Indeed. Dying is easy. Easier than you would think, even," says Yebena, scowling.
Canzonzabar regards the goons. Whatever threat he made leaves them visibly shaken.
Well, devil, it seems you have earned some right to brag tonight. I am genuinely impressed–though I don’t find you particularly frightening myself.
Canzonzabar calmly replies to Drum’s threat, “What a cunning speculation to put forward. I would have expected nothing less from alternatively stylized escapees of a Pandemonium-inspired circus.” Pausing for effect, the devil adds: “I assure you, my remedies do not shoot blanks.”
“I think your kind are better served elsewhere,” says Penance in a voice laced with magic.
The Joker’s weak minded goons scurry down the stairs, compelled by Penance’s magic.
Bruce straightened, the intensity returning to his voice, "You call yourself a Joker, then tell us a joke whydon'cha," he says, drawing a disapproving look from Penance. The intensity vanishes and Bruce hangs his head and sighs.
Penance resumed his conversation with Canzonzabar as though nothing had happened, “Canzonabar, you were saying your business was in..." Penance trails off, affording the falxugon an opportunity to respond.
“Well, a little of this, and a little of that,” the Devil replied, “My main focuses revolve around matters that require a tactful tongue, rather than brute violence. I serve as a diplomat, a negotiator, a mediator, what-have-you. I also provide consultation in subjects of planar nature, and I provide access to valuable papers, in ways much more expedient and efficient than through conventional authorities. In addition, I am authorized by my superiors to channel a variety of favors to mortal clients – typically gold or magical increase in personal prowess, depending on the client’s needs, in exchange for… trifling posthumous services.”
Smiling wickedly, Canzon adds, “And should any of you be interested, I am certain we can come to a favorable arrangement.”
"Quite a vocation...and what would you call this...brokerage of information? I'd be highly invested in hearing some of the means by which you acquired such a vast network of programs to capitalize on your...talents."
“I would call it just that, brokerage of information; though I would not say my services are restricted to what such a description may imply. Details vary depending on the case in question, but should you have a specific conundrum in mind, please do indulge me.” The falxugon’s tail brushes off a speck of dust from his vest. “It takes centuries to establish a network the likes of which I benefit from, Mr. Penance,” the devil adds, “The means that I employed to go about with this… well, you have to keep your business secrets safe, or you’d quickly be ought of business, wouldn’t you agree?”
Centuries? Beh. There’s an arcanaloth sitting next to you, and you ask the devil about his spy network.
Last edited by A Crazy Fool; Thursday, 22nd November, 2007 at 01:36 AM.
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Thursday, 8th November, 2007, 12:06 AM #2
Novice (Lvl 1)
um...poke. I'm kind of hoping for feedback. Writing for no audience isn't much fum.
Thursday, 8th November, 2007, 02:18 AM #3
Though I cannot know its size, an audience exists. Perhaps we are just waiting patiently in silent expectation of further posts?
As for comments, I have none now except to say that there is an issue of transparency when posting a story hour for a PBP game. Post updates too infrequently, and the gaze of the audience may be swayed to the original thread, whereupon, having once read the story, they may be disinclined to do so again.
But I am but an ignorant neophyte here, so my comments should not be taken as anything resembling sage advice; I may speak only for myself, and expect that my opinions may be entirely different from those of everyone else here.
Last edited by William Ager; Thursday, 8th November, 2007 at 02:25 AM.
Thursday, 8th November, 2007, 02:58 AM #4
Novice (Lvl 1)
PBP is mercifully slow and my thread isn't on EN world. I find PBP threads a bit long for my liking to catch up. In any case, expect an update this weekend-ish.
Thursday, 8th November, 2007, 06:04 AM #5
I'm afraid one of my major faults as a human is my obsessive reading. I didn't really have a choice of whether or not to seek out and read the other thread.Originally Posted by A Crazy Fool
Am I correct in presuming that Yebena is called Min in the PBP thread? If so, there's one mention of Min that needs to be changed here. The narration also seems to alternate between past and historical present at peculiar times, and there is one comment by Yebena that isn't italicized ("So the tenth most wanted man in...").
Various semi-spoiler comments (I apologize for the primitive method of writing these, but I'm very new to the forum and only stumbled upon this method):
Bruce's speech issues might benefit from more diversity in expression. There is the accent change that could be included as well as the intensity change, and it is at least my belief that 'intensity' might not be the only, or even best, term to describe it. Perhaps that part of him might be said to be more lively, light-hearted, or impulsive? Personally, I quite enjoy the duality of his character, and hope that it will be expounded here sometime, though it is true that all of the characters seem to be very unique and interesting.[/spoiler]
Besides those mostly inconsequential issues, the writing is considerably more fluid than reading the PBP thread, and much more fun to read. It does seem that too much focus and writing effort might be being placed on Yebena in the first post compared to all of the other characters, but then again, it is only one post, and with so many interesting characters, one could hardly expect it to focus on all of them.
Thursday, 8th November, 2007, 11:38 AM #6
Novice (Lvl 1)
Yebena is my DMPC in the party. She is also my primary metaplot device. The focus will shift as appropriate and as I get more familiar with how my PCs think. As for the Yebena-Min thing, in game, Yebena shapechanged into that messed-up transmuter's experiment to get the improved sense of hearing, and the extra muscle--anticipating a fight. This seemed a bit cumbersome, so I just ditched it.
Last edited by A Crazy Fool; Thursday, 8th November, 2007 at 11:57 AM.
Thursday, 22nd November, 2007, 01:27 AM #7
Novice (Lvl 1)
update, school ate me, sorry.
Penance chuckled, "What a black cloth of insight you weave, Sir Canzonzabar! Hmhmhm...However, I do have a question: Which service intrigues you most? Surely, a courtly and canny devil such as yourself has a singular passion from among his other interests." He pauses for effect, "With one so eloquent, I'd guess the market of mortals has a sharp competitor within the ranks."
Pleased with the compliment, Canzonzabar responds to Penance’s inquiry, “My passions lie with the central dogmas in diplomacy: Making your subject believe that he has achieved what he wished for, when in fact it is your own agenda you have furthered. Or the maneuvering of words in relation to a superior, so that you make your ideas seem like his own – having others unwittingly put your own projects to work. In either case, it is delightful when your quarry realizes the real order of day – too late, of course. There are many games that can be played with words; I have a hard time picking a favorite.” The baatezu sips his wine, savoring the exquisite vintage.
“Or perhaps you are interested in concrete cases? I can recount for you a tale of how I helped convince a passionate eladrin of how inappropriate a life it has lived… it now serves faithfully in the Iron City…” The devil smiled malevolently at the memory, an endeavor that gained him a great deal of prestige. “Yes, I deliver my fair share of souls to their rightful destination… rightful by rightful standards, of course...”
Between the frequent nods and occasional arch of an eyebrow, Penance seems fully invested in the conversation, absorbing the information given. "An eladrin, you say? Yes, that would be quite the tale...but what of their slipperier cousins, the archons? I'd be interested in seeing how you turned their codices around to bind them." Flecks of golden zeal surface in his irises as Penance continues to give Canzonzabar his full attention.
Canzonzabar leaned back in his chair and crossed his fingers.
“Actually, I would say the archons are a lesser challenge to corru… enlighten to our cause than the eladrin, being at least an orderly species. Our own lord of the 7th is testimony to their inclination.
Gesturing with a smile to Penance, the devil allowed Penance the opportunity to respond: “I think I have spoken enough of my methods and professions for now, but then again we would not be having this conversation were we not where we are. What of yourself, Mr. Penance? You are no stranger to how things work on the Planes, such is easy to tell. Surely there is more to you than being another sell-sword? Pray tell.”
"Ah, ‘good’ old Baazebul," Penance smiled wryly at his own joke. "I am a also a proprietor of arms, though I enjoy the arena of negotiations as well. I'm based out of Thuldanin. If you ever travel by that way I'd be rather pleased to have such enlightening company stop by...rust dragons are a rather dull dinner guests.”
"Please excuse my interruption,” said Yebena quietly, “I was...distracted, but this seems a good time to return to the conversation. I think what I am explains sufficiently what I do, although I often find myself dealing in obscure information and knowledge specifically,”
…And Blood War troop movements and blackmail and forged papers and spells and souls and poisons…,
“No apologies necessary, Ms. That is quite an interesting trade. How did you come about your brokerage?”
Min’s ears twitched at the sound of whispered voices outside the tavern.
You are late.
Again, she gave the impression her mind was elsewhere for a few seconds before answering: “Natural aptitude–obviously, dumb luck, personal preference, and…competition in other areas.”
Drum, who had only just realized his hired goons had made themselves scarce, looked around him. His face shifted from confusion to anger as he realized they had too much of a head start.
“I’ll deal with them later,” he mutters before looking around for more people to ‘amuse.’
Drum’s thoughts and those of the other patrons were interrupted by a brilliant flash of teal light. When their eyes had adjusted, they could see the bar was surrounded by a brilliant hemisphere of teal energy. After a puzzled silence, many of the patrons rose, confused and indignantly demanded answers. Many drew whatever weapons were on hand. Assuming the worst, nobody tried to cross the crackling barrier that surrounded the tavern.
“Shall we continue to have these interruptions?” Growls Penance, drawing his blade from its silver and onyx scabbard, murder gleaming in his eyes.
Teleport denial. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Yebena calmly stood, also drawing a longsword from an extradimensional pocket in her bone-colored robes. The crossguardless sword was made out of greensteel and adorned with elaborate and tiny writing on the blade. With a few quick gestures, she sent her skeletons off. The undead stood on either side of the stairwell, swords raised above their heads. The exaggeration of pose was comical. The blades were not.
The patrons’ attention quickly shifted as the Crossed Dagger’s heavy steel-reinforced doors were kicked open. The offender could not be seen. Chaos ensued. Many patrons sought cover behind their tables or the bar. After a confused delay, the security detail downstairs moved to surround the door and hem in the invisible intruders. The better part of the downstairs security staff was felled by blades to the back as they pressed forward to tighten the circle around their invisible foe. The invisibility that had been protecting the unseen attackers faded. Each of the roughly twenty attackers wore steel grey cloaks. Their faces were similarly obscured by matching scarves. Each carried a highly polished silver longsword that shone with more than just the reflected light of the room.
“Holy weapons!” yelled one of the hamatulas to what was left of his soldiers. Most of them had noticed already.
Upstairs, Drum grinned. HEHEHHEHEHE, What fun we're going to have ladies! Drum thinks to himself on hearing something about holy weapons before vanishing himself. Canzonzabar reached into the pocket of his jacket, gracefully withdrawing a scroll. He skillfully speaks the necessary arcane words–allowing him to see the unseen.
“Trift, cover the stairs and be ready to shoot for an invisible aggressor on my mark. Have Brimstone scout for any hostiles, but do not let it touch the field around the inn. Stay close,” Canzonzabar commanded his bodyguard as he moved to a good vantage point. He held his staff apprehensively–ready to use it on any enemies.
Yebena also muttered a spell to increase her agility and walked purposefully towards the stairs along with Penance (who now ‘wore’ a crimson jerkin and ornate scale mail), and the invisible Su’ore Drum. Trift stood at the top of the stairs, longbow strung.
A lone cornugon who had been absorbed in his drink rose without warning, effortlessly hurling the thick oak table he was sitting at across the room. It struck one of the attackers in the chest. With the sound of crushing bones, the unfortunate bent at almost a ninety degree angle. The heavy table showed no sign of stopping, continuing until it pinned the grey-clad assailant’s body against the wall. If the snapped spine failed to kill the attacker, the stone wall finished him off for certain. The cornugon unwound his spiked chain from his shoulder and swung, clearing a wide arc in front of him. The chain swept aside tables, chairs and patrons, hurling them into the air and leaving a clear path to the attackers. The cornugon’s display helped to rally the remaining devils and patrons. The defenders redoubled their efforts, but were rebuffed effortlessly by a highly efficient enemy who now stood surrounded by bodies.
Having disposed of the closest threat, the attackers spread out and turned their attention to the cornugon, which was menacingly advancing towards them. The greater devil swung his chain again, swatting the maimed remains of another two guards aside. Realizing the urgency of their situation, several of the grey-cloaked assailants broke into a full run, hoping to reach the cornugon before he had another chance to swing the chain. The rest of the guards fanned out, casually dispatching the patrons of the bar—most were too drunk to fight back effectively. The bar’s two erineyes (the bartender and the chief waitress) had returned from a back room behind the kitchen carrying armfuls of crossbows that originally belonged to the security detail. They also carried their own weapons. The two erinyes began distributing the crossbows and organizing the defenders behind the bar. Amazingly, the well-coordinated but horribly inaccurate hail of fire managed to drop several of the grey-cloaks who were advancing towards the bar. Many overturned the heavy tables, taking cover from the hail of crossbow bolts. They slowly pushed their tables forward to advance.
The cornugon bit, clawed, and swung his chain, trying to swat aside the attackers and the painful stings of their silvered blades. The devil’s flailing was in vain. Though he was surrounding by a heap of dismembered bodies, the cornugon also lay dead and still bleeding profusely. The handful of surviving attackers scurried to escape the arrows and bolts. Most of the wounded were too slow and never made it more than a few feet, but the less seriously wounded ones made for the corner of the bar furthest away from the bar. They took positions around an overturned table at the far corner of the room, evidently protecting it.
Yebena allowed her newfound allies to step past her and then followed her skeleton bodyguards down the stairs and into the melee. She also allowed Bruce, who had only just gotten to his feet and run to the stairs; enter the fray ahead of her. Nobody–except, perhaps Bruce–was in any particular hurry to rush into such a risky situation. Penance was the first to step off the stairs. Several defenders fired at him–thankfully missing–before realizing whose side Penance was on. He slowly and skillfully picked his way through the carnage and moved behind the nearest grey-cloak’s table. Su’ore Drum deftly rolled and leapt over the rubble, moving to cut off the door and study his enemies.
Raising his sword, Penance whispers to the grey-cloak in the same magic-laced voice he used earlier: "Combat is a thirsty business. You might want to get some drinks for your companions." His ploy was unsuccessful, and the grey-cloak spun to face his new adversary. The falchion flashed downwards.
Yebena stepped off the stairs, overtaking Bruce. She searched through her component pouch and found a small green gem that glowed with a flickering internal light. She spoke an elaborate string of arcane syllables and raised the soul-gem above her head. Threads of shadowy soul-stuff wove themselves together into a nightmare of a creature: gaunt, ten feet tall with claws the size of shortswords. The internal light of the soul gem was extinguished. The insubstantial creation shambled mindlessly towards the nearest enemy, claws held high.
“Hide in the corner will you?” sneered Yebena telepathically, advancing with her sword raised
Bruce looked around the room and raised his right hand. A tiny, pinpoint of blue light appeared in his palm and a wave of blue light leapt from his hand, engulfing and slaying grey-cloaks and patrons alike. The area of the blast is covered in frost and everyone is relatively silent.
"Now that I have your attention, I figured I should let you guys know that if you don't leave now, you're going to die." He says this as though he is reminding the grey-cloaks that you had to breathe through your nose if you wanted to smell something. His threat had little effect–the pinned-down grey-cloaks weren’t going anywhere. “Very well,” he says, charging forward with his gauntlet raised. It was wreathed in flame. He slams the nearest grey-cloak in the chest. Knocking him out of his cover with an unnatural force. The opportunistic defenders finished his work for him.
Canzonzabar quickly looked at Trift and his shape shifted to an identical copy of his bodyguard.
“Move up so you can get clear shots of the enemy force and kill any hostiles approaching us or my table guests,” he commanded, following his bodyguard to the top of the stairs and then halting as the real Trift advanced further.
Penance continues his original plan and walks up behind the next closest enemy: "There's a secret entrance at the back. Take a squad there and you'll remove the bar's advantage." This time, his magic worked. The grey-cloak gave a series of sharp hand gestures and he and several of his comrades crawled along the floor towards the door. As the last one exits, Drum pursues them—his invisibility has faded—flailing his swords above his head and shrieking. The guards break into a run through the glowing barrier and down the street pursued by the tenth most wanted man in Sigil.
Trift calmly fired four arrows at the nearest foe. None strike anywhere vital because of armor; though all but one all inflicts some damage. After a fraction of a second’s pause to readjust his aim, Trift fired another four arrows to far greater affect, brining his target staggering down.
Inside, Penance hefted his falchion and his appearance shifted yet a third time. He wore a cloak and scarf like the grey-cloaks,’ except for it’s crimson red color. “Perhaps you aught choose a fashion few can mime, fools...besides, grey is for the deaders!” Penance brings his blade to bear against the closest opponent but the two heavy blows are deflected. He glares at another foe and bellows, “There's an assassin creeping around here. Protect your boss!”
"That would be quite a long walk, berk. Your tricks won't fool me," countered the grey-cloak as his left hand is wreathed in purple light. He shoves penance and the wounds he has sustained are transferred back to surprisingly little effect.
"You speak premature, sod," says Penance. “Why don’t you speak your master’s name while you still have a tongue in your head,” he adds in a tone laced with magic.
“Dream on you...” The grey-cloak’s insult was cut short by a falchion’s blade to the gut. “Tell it to the deaders, sod,” Penance followed Yebena’s lead and closed with the cowering wizard.
Yebena, who was steadily advancing towards the corner of the room, dropped one of the two enemies in her way and then followed through with a second less powerful strike to the other. He staggered backwards and gave a hand signal to one of his comrades. His eyes glow and he is replaced with the unwounded ally he signaled.
"Now, unlike some other people here, I just want to talk. Depending on what you say, I might not kill you. So, what do you say? Time for a chat?" asks Bruce.
"I tire of this game. Out of my way," Yebena growled, taking two more sweeping but well-controlled strikes at her new enemy. The first severs his head. The second misses for lack of a target. Kicking the headless body out of her way, she continues her advance.
“Now, wizard, let's see you escape from a teleport warded building,” says Min, turning towards her real objective.
Following the lead of the others, Bruce also makes for the table. As he does, he snaps his fingers and the heavy table is smashed against the wall by a silent concussion. blast.
At this, Yebena growls in displeasure “This one is mine.”
“Though I'm all for being courteous, I would rather discover who paid this house call before you get your fun...of course, you could go on and live without knowing the reason behind this attempted murder.”
Oh, but I do know the reason.
Penance turns to the mage, “Why don't you make it easy and tell us why you are here and who sent you? It'll speak better for you in the end,” again aiding his command with magic.
"We work for a dream…" Replies the wizard. He catches himself after he realizes what he's said, "…A dream of a better world," the wizard adds. He makes an effort to sound as though he is still under the influence of the suggestion but fails.
“I had no intention of actually killing this one,” said Min to all her allies She sounded slightly offended, “If you really must interrogate him in the middle of combat do carry on,” she adds dryly. With a much sharper and angrier tone she adds to Penance: “There is great value in concealing one's true intentions. A wise warrior should know this. You saw his hand move for his dagger instead of his component pouch. My bluff worked.”
Penance glared at Yebena, "As to intentions, who is he to know if I truly give a cranium rat's ass whether he was hired to kill me or just wanted to face off against a few fiends?” Penance's face turned to a look of inscrutability, as though he just might not care. "Perhaps, you don't fear for your life as much as you should, fool." A burst of energy flashed from the warrior's hand towards the cowering mage, sucking at the life and experience contained in his soul.
Yebena smiled wickedly at Penance but said nothing. She spun on her heels to face the enemy who had escaped her once already.
“Hello. Shall we try this again?” she said.
Canzonzabar, who had now assumed the form of a pleasant-looking middle-aged tuladhara, stepped softly down the stairs and out of cover.
“Gentlemen, ladies, allow me to step in here… This man and I can come to an understanding, I am sure of it…”
“A more subtle approach can give more reliable information extraction, and I daresay I am the man for the job. More aggressive methods can be employed later, as needed… and for entertainment purposes,” he adds to his allies.
Canzonzabar walks up to the wizard, keeping a non-threatening distance between them. He signals the wizard to sit. The wizard resignedly complies with the order.
“Take my word for it: you want to deal with me, rather than the fiends. Now sit.”
“If he speaks a single arcane syllable or makes sudden movements, start by pinning an arrow through his hand, but leave him alive,” Canzonzabar instructed his bodyguard.
“Excellent. Now, time-efficiency is key here, so I implore you to answer without hesitation, or we might have to get…creative…” says the falxugon, folding his hands behind his back and very slowly pacing around the wizard, taking great care to unnerve him while constantly observing his body language.
“Let us start with something easy. As a cunning wizard, I am sure you can manage. What name shall I know you by? You’re real name is not important… for now…”
"You should call me...three," sneers the wizard, with more conviction now.
Last edited by A Crazy Fool; Thursday, 22nd November, 2007 at 01:35 AM.
Saturday, 24th November, 2007, 04:39 AM #8
Novice (Lvl 1)
Hey Wei! it's me- Trias - nice work!! I haven't rechecked the OOC history of this game, but have you told the others about the story hour?!
"Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."
-Onam Chymosk, Xaositect linguist, philosopher
Saturday, 24th November, 2007, 01:24 PM #9
Novice (Lvl 1)
*brick to the head* no, I kinda forgot to say I actually wrote something or posted a link. The SH will contain some metaplot, but I have faith that everyone can ignore it in-game.
Monday, 26th November, 2007, 10:14 AM #10
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Hey Wei, its Dun. Great writeup of our game and it does answer a few questions that Canzonzabar has been pondering about "Min".
Heh, don't worry, we'll seperate in-game and out-of-game knowledge, of course.