Cerebral Paladin's Storyhour (updated 4/22)


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    Cerebral Paladin's Storyhour (updated 4/22)

    Welcome to Cerebral Paladin's Storyhour.

    All of the write-ups are copyright 2003-2005, Adam H. Morse, as is all of the general world details. All rights reserved. Please do not copy my storyhour posts without my express permission. The player characters are owned by their respective players; aspects of characters or the world developed by both myself and my players are jointly owned by myself and the player who developed it with me.

    Session 1:
    2/7/752
    Sheets of rain pour down on Lir Sanek. Periodic flashes of lightning illuminate the ancient port city. Although it's late morning, the storm makes the sky dark.

    In the complex of buildings outside Dro Sanek, the mighty castle overlooking the city, a young woman, dressed in nondescript clothes, is escorted into an office.

    "You asked me to see you, Kinric?" asks Ginara cath Kalissar.

    Kinric Halrin looks up from his paperwork. "Thank you for coming," he says with a smile. He nods to the guard who escorted Ginara in. The guard walks out and closes the door. Ginara notes the footsteps as the guard walks away from the door. That's odd; usually when she's in Uncle Kinric's office, he has a staff attendant just outside the door.

    "I was wondering if you could take care of something for me, Ginara."

    "Sure, Uncle Kinric. What is it?"

    Kinric pulls open a desk drawer and pulls out a small statuette. He places it on the desk between them. The statuette is of a human looking man, wearing fine armor and holding a claymore raised above his head. The white tabard draped around his armor is made of morther of pearl, the armor is burnished silver. Golden rays project out from around the figure, two upward and two downward. The statuette is clearly a devotional object for Galerius, the god of valor in the Church Imperial. To Ginara's practiced eye, it looks to be worth better than 1000 gold.

    "I believe you know Melor cath Nortis? Large, boorish man? He maintains a vigorous social life. One of his guests recently was a priest who happened to notice that the statuette on cath Nortis's familial altar was rather more significant than the man thought. After the priest informed him of its significance, some 10 days ago, he began bragging to anyone who'd listen about how his family heirloom was a powerful holy focus.

    "We have some people who keep an eye on the Church Nusaybian. We have reason to believe that they plan to take the statuette. Its loss would hurt our position and strengthen theirs. But beyond its relatively minor mystical significance, it also has some political importance; His Imperial Highness the Prince used to pray in a chapel that included the statuette, before it entered the cath Nortis family's possession. We don't want it lost.

    "After cath Nortis declined a generous offer, we decided to take it into safekeeping. We fabricated a copy and had it blessed. We then performed a switch."

    Kinric picks up a small piece of dull gray metal and taps it against the statue. A ripple travels across it; gold changes to dull brass and mother of pearl to enamel.

    "As you can see, someone beat us to it. We know that it's not the Church Nusaybian, because they're still planning to steal it. I would like you to find out who took the statue and recover it."

    "Of course, Uncle Kinric," Ginara stammers. "When did your people take the statuette?"

    "Two nights ago. We discovered the switch this morning."

    "And you're sure this wasn't the original?"

    "Positive. The priest wouldn't have made a mistake."

    "Can I get some friends to help?"

    Kinric pauses. "Absolutely. You will likely need to recruit assistance, but be careful. If the Church Nusaybian realizes either how important this is, or that you're involved, it could be very dangerous. I trust your discretion. I would also prefer it if you avoided any unnecessary killing."

    "Unnecessary?" Ginara squeeks. "There won't be any killing!"

    "Be careful what you say; you need to be ready to take care of yourself, and hesitation can be risky. But I'm glad that you'll try to avoid killing anyone.

    "If you should find it necessary, we can supply you with some money. Because the statuette is currently in the hands of thieves, we would prefer to recover it without compensating them, but recovering it is more important.

    "I leave it to your discretion how to locate it. Should you choose to investigate at the cath Nortis house, I strongly urge you to not touch the statuette."

    Ginara carefully places the statuette in a pouch. This will take some help...

    Melania sits alone in a favored tavern. There's a good crowd in the place, but she's enjoying her mulled wine and relaxing. The door swings open and Ginara steps in. She looks like a drowned rat as she pushes back the sopping wet hood on her cloak. Melania looks up with a smile and gestures her over.

    "Ginara! How are you? Another mulled wine for my friend."

    "I'm glad you have a seat by the fire." After warming up for a few minutes, Ginara continues, "I need to talk to you about something."

    "All right. What about?"

    "Can we go back to your place? It's a secret."

    A handful of the other patrons in the tavern look up with curiosity.

    "Yeah, let's go."

    A few minutes later, Ginara finishes explaining the situation.

    "When people do things for Kinric, he tends to be grateful, right?"

    "Oh, yes! He even said that we could have some money, for expenses and such."

    "Sounds good. I'm in. If we're going to need to do tracking, we might want to bring in your friend Dov."

    The two of them walk into a barracks where a scout company is based.

    "Dov? Can we talk to you for a bit?"

    Dovkania Skyrnath looks up from the card game she's playing with her comrades. "What is it?"

    "We want to talk to you about a little business," Ginara explains. "It's a secret. Can we go to your parents' house to talk?"

    "What sort of business?" interjects one of the other soldiers. "Anything we could help out with?"

    "I'm afraid that it's a girl thing," Ginara says.

    Melania flashes the young man a winning smile and adds, "maybe the two of us can talk about it later."

    Dov stands up from the game, slings her swords, and they head out.
    Last edited by Cerebral Paladin; Saturday, 23rd April, 2005 at 02:56 AM.

 

  • #2
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    A girl thing, eh?

    This is great! I'm looking forward to it.
    - Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now writing TimeWatch, an investigative time travel game.

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    Originally posted by Piratecat
    This is great! I'm looking forward to it.
    Amen.

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    *sets up a tent and camps out waiting for an update*

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    Ignore Cerebral Paladin
    I've lightly edited the first post; I added a copyright notice and made a couple of very minor alterations to the text of the storyhour post. Now on to the next post:

    Session 1 (cont'd):
    As the trio sloshes up to Dov's parents' home, a nice two story building in a nice, but not rich, area of the city, they see a lone figure standing on the roof near the corner of the building. She is dressed in robes dyed a hideous shade of pink.

    They hurry in to Dov's house and gather by a fireplace on the second floor. While they drink hot ciders to warm up, Ginara begins explaining again. While she is still explaining, a sopping wet Sister Aurora comes in. Her hair is bound in twelve shoulder-length braids, each of which is dripping its own puddle. The resemblance between Dov and Aurora, her older sister, is clear, although Dov is substantially larger and more muscular.

    Ginara looks up at her with bafflement. "Why were you standing on the roof? And why are your robes such an unfortunate color?"

    "Father Daybreak says that you can see a ray of sunshine on every day. It's my penance. I complained about the color of the robes-there are much nicer pinks possible."

    After warming up briefly, Aurora begins to head back to the roof.

    "Dai- wait a second." Melania stops her. "You know a lot about religion. What can you tell us about Galerius?"

    "Of course I know a lot about religion. I am a novice of the Rays of Truth. Galerius is the god of valor and honorable warfare. He's the son of Luirta; his father is a war god who isn't part of the Pantheon. We actually know less about his father than we really ought to; it probably merits some research in the future. Galerius is the patron of the imperial military. Why do you ask?"

    Everyone tries there best to look innocent.

    "Dov- are they trying to get you in trouble?" Aurora asks suspiciously.

    "Not yet..."

    Melania and Ginara exchange glances. "She might be helpful-- all the religion stuff..."

    Ginara nods. "So, Uncle Kinric asked me to help him out with something..."

    "You mean Sir Kinric?" Aurora responds, using Kinric's honorific as a Champion. The Champions are the elite heroes of the empire who perform great feats in both peace and especially in wartime.

    "Yes."

    Aurora pauses for a second, thinking about Sir Kinric. Kinric keeps a very low profile for a Champion. He generally does not participate in ceremonial events and the like. The only other thing Aurora knows about him is that Ginara's mother is rumored to have had an affair with him about 15 years ago.

    Ginara explains the conversation with Kinric and shows Aurora the statuette. To Aurora, the statuette is quite unusual. The style of the representation is archaic, most popular about 450 years ago. Also, depicting Galerius with a claymore is highly unusual. Most depictions show him with longsword, or occasionally bastard sword, and shield. The golden rays of light also extend away from him in an unusual pattern. While there is nothing inherently heretical about the representation, several of the elements are more common within the Traditional Church.

    When Ginara and Aurora have finished exchanging information, Aurora says, "Did Sir Kinric say anything about touching the statuette?"

    "He did say that I shouldn't take it."

    Sister Aurora nods. "I thought so. He's left a trap for them. Ginara... Maybe you should ask your brother to help as well. He knows much more about illusion than any of us."

    After some grumbling, Ginara sends a messenger to fetch her brother. He arrives some time later. Lhovrik cath Kalissar looks somewhat like his sister, although the resemblance is much slighter than that between Aurora and Dov. He wears an expensive dark blue robe, embroidered with obvious magical sigils, and a pendant emblazoned with his family's arms.

    "What is it, Ginara? I should really be concentrating on my studies."

    "Uncle Kinric asked me to help him out with something, and since it has to do with magic, we thought you might be able to help."

    Lhovrik frowns. "Kinric isn't our uncle. What did he want help with?"

    The group rapidly fills Lhovrik in on the situation.

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    Sister Aurora clarification

    A few minor additions from Sister Aurora's player:

    Father Daybreak told Sister Aurora two separate things -
    A. that it was inappropriate to complain about the color of her vestments, which symbolized the first hour of the morning (hence rosy pink)
    B. in a sermon, that one could find a ray of sunshine in every day.

    Sister Aurora chose to self-impose the penance for her remarks of standing on the roof and looking for said ray of sunshine, despite the fact that it was raining cats and dogs. She considered casting Endure Elements: Cold but decided that would be cheating, but comes down regularly for cups of hot tea - hence meeting with her plotting sister and friends.

    Physrep: The priests of the Rays of Truth all wear their hair in twelve equal braids, with a golden bead at the end - hence the multiple puddles. It should be noted that the Rays are a quite young order in the worship of the Sun Goddess Liuerta; while officially recognized by the Church Imperial, many of Aurora's friends and family viewed her decision to become a novice as equivalent to her joining a wacky out-there cult.

    In current game-time, Aurora has not yet found a ray of sunshine.
    "You know, Roman emperors have plotted against each other without the help of random Celtic people." --Metellus

    All roads lead to Rome, so come visit the Alea Iacta Story Hour.

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    Originally posted by Cerebral Paladin
    I've lightly edited the first post; I added a copyright notice...
    Quick, identify the lawyer!

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    Session 1 (cont'd):

    After some discussion, the group agrees to split up. Lhovrik and Aurora each make separate social appointments, scheduled for after dinner. Melania heads over to the cath Nortis home on her own.

    The cath Nortis townhouse is about the same size as the Skyrnath house. Although both families are wealthy without being rich, the cath Nortis taste, if it can be called that, leaves rather more to be desired. The facade of the house is styled as an ancient manor, with large pillars supporting the roof of the two story building. Even from outside, the decor is ostentatious to the point of being tacky, with an enormous coat of arms above the main double doors and repeated on each of the doors.

    Melania strides up to the door and knocks. Moments later, the door is opened by a halfling in impeccable livery. Melania introduces herself and asks whether Melor cath Nortis would be interested in hiring her as a performer. Tendros, the halfling butler, invites her into the servants' area and informs her that he handles the entertainment hiring. After a fine demonstration of her vocal and harp skills and a brief price negotiation, Melania has a job offer for 7 gold... scheduled two weeks later. Tendros is very closed mouthed to her questions. Melania pushes on whether there have been unusual people around lately, but Tendros refuses to discuss it. His response to basically every question amounts to "I cannot discuss the Master's private affairs." Melania does confirm that there was a party at the house a week ago; Melor cath Nortis is an active participant in the petty noble social scene. But, at least to hear Tendros speak of it, the party was completely uninteresting. After some further investigations are rebuffed, Melania heads out.

    Aurora and Dov arrive at the cath Nortis home shortly after Melania departs. Tendros ushers them in to a sitting room. The sitting room's decor is more profuse than tasteful. Shortly after they arrive, Melor cath Nortis, a barrel-chested man whose youthful fitness has long-since given way to flab, joins them. He sports a thick, bushy moustache, somewhat unkempt hair, and moderately expensive, slightly ugly clothes.

    Aurora and Dov talk with Melor for some time. He's quite a braggart, talking about his great accomplishments in the war with the kobold empire about fifteen years ago. Aurora cannot resist correcting him on his numerous misstatements about the major battle he fought in; to hear him tell it, he personally killed more kobolds than were even present. He does show off a large scar on his arm, which does indeed look like a spear wound, although not nearly as dangerous as he makes it sound. He shows off the spearhead that makes it. The spearhead is finely made and does not resemble at all the kobold spears Dov has seen in her training, but he assures them that the difference is simply the difference between the local kobold rabble and the kobold empire. Melor also talks about his son, Melor Minor, who is fighting against kobolds in the Northlands of the Empire; from his perspective, it's a pity he's simply fighting barbarians, because there's less opportunity for heroism that way.

    Aurora asks to see the statuette, which Melor is only too happy to show off. They ask a little about how his family got it, but he refuses to say, except to note that it's been in his family for generations. Melor mentions that when his son faces more dangerous combat, he intends to have a special shield made so his son can carry the statue into battle. While they look at the statue, which is set in a shrine in the house's second floor, Tendros periodically slips in silently with drinks. Most of the time, they don't even notice his coming and going until a drink is at their side. Aurora visibly flinches when Melor picks up the statuette, but nothing untoward happens. If her theory about a trap is correct, she thinks, it must have an exception for the family.

    Lhovrik and Ginara arrive while Aurora and Dov are still examining the shrine. Tendros shows them into the sitting room, where Melor quickly rushes in. He fawns slightly over Lord Lhovrik, and quickly calls for his daughter, Calia. Melor works vigorously to introduce the two, largely ignoring Ginara, but Lhovrik and Ginara ignore the hints. Lhovrik quickly asks to be shown the statuette, claiming that Master Verifax, his instructor, wanted him to examine it. Melor is nonplused by the suggestion that he take Lhovrik to see the shrine while Ginara talks with Calia, but he agrees, because he's so proud of his family's heirloom. Lhovrik asks who identified the statue's magical power, and Melor says that it was Father Liren, a guest of his about ten days ago.

    After being shown to the shrine, where everyone pretends to be surprised to see their friends, Lhovrik excuses himself and goes to the privy. After closing the door, he casts Detect Magic, and maintains his concentration while walking back to the shrine. While appearing to look at some minor details around the shrine, he studies the aura of the statue carefully. The statuette radiates powerful holy magic. There are at least two magical auras. One is a conjuration; he is unable to identify the other, because of a deliberate masking effort.

    Melor rejoins the group near the shrine. As he approaches, Aurora comments on the halfling butler. "Your butler moves remarkably quietly."

    Melor smiles proudly. "Of course he does... that's the point in having halfling servants." Tendros returns to the room to collect empty glasses, and Melor continues talking about him as if he weren't even there. "But Tendros is a fine servant- completely unobtrusive. He just bought his freedom."

    "When was that?" Aurora presses.

    "About a week ago. He was a debt-slave, so he only needed to pay off his debt. So when he paid the 150 gold, he got his freedom."

    "How could he afford that?"

    "I assume he's been saving his wages. Of course, now I have to pay him more. But at least I got the 150 gold. And he is a good servant."

    Meanwhile, Ginara chats with Calia. Calia is somewhat annoyed about her father's most recent matchmaking efforts, but is fairly resigned to it at this point. As she says to Ginara, "In my family, there are two types of people: soldiers and soldiers' spouses, and I don't want to be a soldier." Ginara asks about Calia's father's military background. Calia is fairly dismissive; it's not that her father didn't fight in the war, she's just pretty sure that he spent a lot less time at the front than he would have people believe. The worst is when his old military buddies are around; to hear them tell it, they personally won the war.

    Ginara and Calia also talk about her father's parties; he's very fond of them. At least the last one was fairly interesting; there was a gnomish illusionist who did all sorts of neat tricks, leading up to a finale where he juggled flaming spheres and then threw them into the ceiling where they exploded harmlessly into streaks of light. Ginara asks his name, and is told Bildorinsomethingallindorf. At about this point, the people from upstairs return, and all four set out into the night to meet up with Melania and compare notes.

    End of Session 1

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    Some elaboration and clarification from Ginara's player, on that conversation between Ginara and Calia:

    First, the end of the scene The last few lines went something like this:

    Calia: Something must have gone wrong at the end of the gnome's act.
    Ginara: Really? Why? What happened?
    Calia: Well, his fireball things went straight at the guests. They weren't _real_ fire, of course, but the guests were still pretty scared - jumping under the tables, shouting, things like that. Father was really angry - he'd wanted to show off his statue all night, and now nobody was even looking at it.
    Ginara [with lightbulbs going on in her head]: Right. I bet nobody was looking at the statue at all...

    And second, a bit of the earlier conversation, when Calia was talking about her father's war exploits:

    "From the way my father talks, you'd think he and his friends won the war himself," grumbles Calia, rolling her eyes.

    Ginara shakes her head. "I've never heard anyone talk about it so much...I mean, _my_ parents were in the goblin wars too, and they _never_ talk about it."

    "Really? What did they do?"

    "Well, my mother was with the wizards, but my father was on the front lines - Third Battalion, Sorcerers' Corps." Ginara gives a wry little sniff, recalling one of Calia's earlier lines. "In my family, you're either a wizard or a wizard's spouse. Or both."

    Calia raises her eyebrows, impressed. "So your father must have seen a _lot_ of action..."

    Ginara nods. "I think so...that's probably one of the reasons why he never talks about it."

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    Session 2:
    2/8/752
    In another gray and drizzly morning, Dov sets out from her barracks to rejoin her friends at her family home. She heads out quickly, making her way through the empty streets. As she heads out of the barracks area and into the mostly empty streets, she notices a figure heading in the same direction as she is. Not for nothing was she assigned to a scout company. She stops and looks at a random storefront. The figure behind her stops as well.

    Enough of this. She takes a quick turn down an alley, moving stealthily and quickly. Her tail follows briefly, but then she loses him. Or at least, she thinks she does.

    A few minutes later, she arrives at her home. Aurora, Melania, and Ginara have preceeded her. The four wait for the better part of a half-hour for Lhovrik.

    A young man, with bleached blond hair, foppish clothes, and a rapier hung at a strange and unwieldy height comes in.

    Ginara boggles. "Lhovrik! What are you doing?"

    "This is dangerous, right? And keeping a low profile is a good idea, right? I thought a disguise would help."

    Ginara shakes her head with disdain. "Well, at least don't wear your rapier like that- you wouldn't even be able to draw it successfully. You should be wearing it lower, and farther back, like this." Ginara adjusts Lhovrik's disguise; it still looks fairly off, but it's less blatant now.

    Lhovrik goes over to Misty, his gray cat familiar. Misty continues to sleep, having spent the night at Dov and Aurora's house. Lhovrik takes out a fresh fish, bought on the same shopping trip this morning that got the rapier, new clothes, and make-up, and slides it in under Misty's paws. He may be asking her to do things today, and he wants to make sure that she'll be cooperative if he asks her for favors. Misty awakens and is pleased by the offering. She'll be benevolent if her human wants her to do things today.

    The group exchanges the information they got the previous night. Ginara asks Melania, "Do you know anything about a Bilhorngsomethingdorf? I think he's a gnome illusionist."

    "Bildorintingallindorf? Sure, I know him. He's a fellow performer. Calls himself "the Magnificent."

    "Where could we find him? I think he was a diversion for the theft."

    "We'll go to the Gnomish Quarter and ask around. It can't be too hard to find him."

    "And then we'll kill him," Aurora declares forcefully.

    "What?! Uncle Kinric said no unnecessary killing."
    "Gnome illusionists pervert the Holy Truth with their foul lies and deceits. Plus he's a thief."

    Lhovrik mediates. "Aurora, there isn't really any reason to kill him. Just because he doesn't have as good a respect for the Truth of Luirta as he ought isn't enough of a reason. We really need to get some information from him; if he's been part of a conspiracy, we can deal with that later."

    "We can claim that Dov is interested in hiring him to perform for your family," Melania suggests.

    "Do you mean that we're going to perpetrate our own deception?" Aurora asks. After a moment's thought she continues, "Well, I suppose in the greater pursuit of truth and knowledge, it's all right."

    After the group is confident that Aurora won't do anything rash, they head to the Gnomish Quarter.
    Last edited by Cerebral Paladin; Wednesday, 5th March, 2003 at 12:33 AM.

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