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Dark Days in Sion - Act 3: Scene 2

narayan

Explorer
At Jabbar's Trade Shop

The young Elf was a little startled by the swift response to her tapping at Jabbar's door.

~Alas it seems someone is awake at this moon-touched hour! Traders are hard working folk, much as my dear Mother used to be. No time to ponder too deeply on that now though...~

She took a step back from the door, and replied, "Please forgive my unexpected intrusion at this late hour Sir. My name is Aletia Moonborn, a humble employee of the Red Sands Inn. If he is awake or not disinclined, I bring word for Jabbar, and Jabbar alone, if he will see me."

~A few moments in front of a warm fire wouldn't hurt either.~

Jabbar shares a glance of intrigue with the others as he opens the door revealing a cloaked and sodden-wet elven lass with a black-stained longbow slung across her shoulder and two quivers by her side.

Jabbar: Regards the young high elf with a look of curiosity and pity as he states.
"I am Jabbar. Please come inside out of the rain, the streets are dangerous tonight." He states with a tone of plain concern and polite invitation.

Jabbar appears to in his late forties and thin, yet still evidently fit and strong. He is clearly Akhenaten by birth, with darkly tanned skin, well-weathered by the sun, and short-cropped grey hair and a beard. You note a pale scar across his jaw and cheekbone that carries on down the side of his neck and likely across his shoulder and down his back currently covered by his tunic. By the look of it the scar isn’t very old, perhaps a year or two at most? His eyes are clever & experienced, yet darkly intelligent.

The common room past the door appears to have a hearth, a small kitchen, a table, and enough chairs to sit six. It is also already cramped with a very interesting group of strangers.

_______Avar_______

Beside Jabbar stands a sour-looking sundered dwarf (4'10" tall) in a deeply soiled and unkempt bearskin cloak over a rough-worn leather tunic pulled open partway at the chest revealing a tattoo across his lower neck that looks like broken chain-links? You glimpse more chain-link tattoo's around his forearms as he stands with his arms crossed.

[Aletia: Make a Knowledge: Local Check to recognize the significance of those tattoo's]

The sundered dwarf has a warrior's build with the characteristically pale skin of his race within a mop of curled hair and beard grown wild and untrimmed, so black they look almost tinged with blue. His leather leggings are stuffed into tall moccasins strapped around his shins. At his waistband he carries a bone-handled hunting knife and horn-handled throwing axe. Despite the beard, you'd guess this dwarf to be barely an adult by dwarven standards (which is still younger than an elf of the same standard) but there's enough confidence behind his grey eyes to give you the impression he can take care of himself.

_______Burrai________

Behind them are another pair of dwarves, specifically mountain dwarves. Both a male and female. The male has
the look of a veteran mercenary, standing 4'9" with thick arms and shoulders built on the forge and exercised on the battlefield. This one hasn’t got the typical barrel gut of a dwarf his age, instead he’s thick like a tree, almost square. Other details are there, hinting at a deeper discipline. His beard is neat, short, little more than a heavy goatee. His hair too is cropped close – not the flamboyant Mohawks of a berserker, or the shaved skull of a thug, but a clear sign of a dwarf who appreciates neatness. Both are black, striated with grey.

His proud Dwarven face – complete with heavy square jaw, bold nose and dark brown eyes is bisected from hairline to chin by a ragged scar, worse even than Jabbar's and poorly healed. The skin to either side is ruffled and raised like a burn, almost like a fault in the skin. His left eye is almost closed; the socket little more than a deep pit with a dark jewel folded inside. His nose has been broken at least once, deviating sharply. Other shallow gashes, white lines and shirt creases, adorn his chin and right cheek. One thick calloused hand holds a massive dwarven war axe while the other carries a heavy steel shield.

*Note: There is evidence this dwarf typically wears heavy plate armor; although I can't remember at this point if he's currently wearing it?

________Elloral________

The female dwarf, is
middle-aged with wise brown eyes dressed in plain grey robes carrying a heavy walking staff. Her once yellow hair, now mostly gray, is kept in two large braids that hang before her battered steel breastplate, clasped with heavy silver bands bearing a unique holy symbol.

[Aletia: Make a Knowledge: Religion Check to recognize her holy symbol]

Of everyone inside, she appears to be the friendliest and most peaceful as she regards you with a warm smile.

_________Ersun__________

Clearly not human, this one has a build that resembles a stout elf with ash gray skin; large, deep set jade eyes and even larger ears. His silvery-white hair is cut short on the front, but kept in a long braid at the back, reaching halfway down his back. He has thick eyebrows and a round beard on his bony face. Although his hair and beard have been grown for quite a while he is no more than twenty-five years old, and moves firmly with the fitness of youth. He has a calm, collected presence, and speaks with a rumbling baritone voice.

His choice of clothes is somewhere between elegant and practical for travel, never knowing what to expect next. It roughly consists of a pair of heavy boots, leather breeches, belt, shirt, a fine chain shirt, a vest, a coat, a well-loaded backpack, and a modest leather hat to keep off the sun. He also carries a sword sheath about the size of a long-knife on his back.

[Aletia: Make a Knowledge: Dungeoneering Check to recognize his race]


_________Ren___________


A small cloaked figure with a long rats tail stands beside the odd non-human stranger. Beneath his hood you glimpse large dark eyes and a whiskered snout, this can only be a rhat... a city rat most likely given the dark grey coloration of his fur.



[Aletia: What do you do? By no means does this group appear to be sociable and relaxing. They've clearly been through a hell of a day. All appear fatigued and tense (some more than others) and there is a general mood of stress and an attitude of perceived danger behind their eyes.]
 
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97mg

Explorer
Aletia: A Nocturnal Gathering

Jabbar: Regards the young high elf with a look of curiosity and pity as he states. "I am Jabbar. Please come inside out of the rain, the streets are dangerous tonight." He states with a tone of plain concern and polite invitation.
Aletia nodded graciously before meeting the man's mysterious gaze again.

"No need for concern Jabbar, I traveled devoid of incident, cept for the drenching weather. The streets were quiet this night, and nobody bode me ill will."

Stepping into Jabbar's abode and softly closing the door behind her, she become somewhat unsettled by the rough assortment of folks within. She let her eyes dart to each and every one of them, yet never lingered long enough to be discomforting, direct, or socially awkward.

~More dwarves! Oh, and a strange one, no, make that two. What an interesting assembly of late night friends he keeps.~

Sadly, the links of chain marqued into the flesh of one of the rougher of the crew, meant nothing to her. The ink-scarred flesh did however look serious, much like the stouty fellow wearing them.

A lady, the only other one in the room, bore a symbol upon her breast which was most truly of significance. If only the young Elf had paid more attention to these things; yet when Vallio had spoken of religion, gods and faith, Aletia's mind usually meandered far away. She was Moonborn. She knew where her devotion lay, and never really paid much attention to the faith of others. Each to their own. In acknowledgement of the woman's softer demeanor though, Aletia gifted her a small and truthful smile.

Then the tension hit. The commonroom's air was thick as silt. Most of those before her seemed somewhat anxious and ill at ease. It was like she'd stepped into the middle of something, plotting perhaps, or simply come at the worst possible time. Jabbar however was polite, and didn't seem particularly frayed by the uninvited guest. She turned her eyes back to him, looking up into the face of man who oozed complexity, experience, and something akin to an unknown wisdom.


"Kind Mister Jabbar, as a new arrival in this land, I wish to prove to Master Burlock of my usefulness. This eve, he requested that I bring you news."

Aletia rubbed her slender fingers together, warming them and shaking off droplets of the night's damp air. Then she retracted a scroll from her pack and held it out for the man.

She wasn't sure what to say next, but given the current company it was likely she'd be sent on her way once this task was done.

~No! I need to open a door of mine own. Sew a seed of sorts.~

As she waited for him to take Burlock's message, she plucked up her courage.


"I hope that Master Burlock will soon learn that my usefulness far exceeds the task at hand. In fact, he encouraged me to speak with you, about connections, about..."

Her lips quivered a little, the grief still fresh as wheat-field dew.

"...to impart dark things which have stolen both friends and kin from my very hands. Alas, it is late kind Jabbar, all I ask is to share words with you on some future day, as I see you are no doubt busy and in fine company. Before I return to the Inn, is there anything you would have me tell Master Burlock in reply, be it verbal or written? It would honor me not to return empty handed."

[Knowledge Check Local (Tattoos) = 5. ]
[Knowledge Check Religion = 3.]
[Knowledge Check Dungeoneering = 18.]


[sblock=Aletia Stats]

ALETIA - Shining in the darkness

Sheet:
http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheet.html#id=725599
Level
4 Sorceress Init 3, HP Max: 22 Current: 22, Speed 30ft
AC 14, Touch 13, Flat-footed 11, Fort 3, Ref 4, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Longbow +5 to hit / D8 damage (+1 point blank +1 with magic arrows)
Longsword +2 to hit / D8 damage

Familiar Crez (Tiny silver viper) Init 3, HP Max: 11 Current: 11, Speed 15ft
AC 19, Fort 2, Ref 2, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Poisonous Bite +2 to hit / D1 damage (+poison)
Abilities: Deliver touch spells, Alertness, Improved evasion, Spare spells, Empathic link
[/sblock]
 

narayan

Explorer
[Sblock=Results of Aletia's Knowledge Dungeoneering Check] Underfolk are descendants of Akhenatens who were forced to move underground about three thousand years ago. Over generations, these humans adapted to this strange world, filled with natural wonders and dangerous creatures. Most have not ventured to the surface in many centuries but they have never forgotten their origins above ground.

Because of the multitude of evil, predatory races and creatures underground Underfolk have become quick, stealthy, and survival-oriented. Although rather primitive and rustic when it comes to technology, Underfolk are adaptable and very clever. Underfolk have evolved an ability to blend into their surrounding terrain. Their skin has special pigmentation that can mimic the various rocky hues found in the underground, allowing them to seemingly disappear into a nearby wall.[/sblock]

[Aletia: Although you have never encountered an Underfolk before (few surface dwellers do), Vallio explained how they were discussed by the Moon-blooded as a potential ally against the Drow.]

Jabbar: Quickly shuts the door behind Aletia and gestures for her to stand near the hearth to warm up as he accepts the offered scroll, heeding her words with a raised brow of sympathy and curiosity as he remarks.
"I am sorry for your loss. The darkness of this land takes a heavy toll, even within the walls of this fair town. Mr. Burlock and I have faced many evils together. He is one of my oldest friends and partners." He states, breaking the wax seal in the process. His eyes glance across the ink as a deep frown of dismay and strange opportunity takes root in the roughness of his face.

"Tomorrow's contest has an interesting guest-list." He states holding up the list for all to see. "Two of these 'patrons' are known associates of the Black Network!"



[Everyone: What do you do?]
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
Aust sees Aletia...

~ What a way to end this evening...am I seeing things...~

Clearly elven. He knew if from her voice before he ever laid eyes on her. He had stepped away to wash up and relieve himself. When he returned, Jabbar was talking with a newcomer. Even soaking wet, he was instantly struck by her presence. She was...not like ordinary elves. She was not like ordinary anything. Certainly not the barmaids he was accustomed to. He was not present when she entered, so he was naturally curious how she came to be in their shop. The way this evening had gone, nothing in that regard was off of the table.

He instantly felt awkward. Self-conscious even. After all, he looked like death-warmed over. And based on the rhat's neurotic pity, he might well BE death-warmed over before the week was out. She was...exquisite. No way was she a smuggler. She wasn't dressed for the weather; that much was certain. Her wet clothes stuck to her skin, outlining her figure despite her cloak. Nope. No way. She wasn't anything that could hide anywhere, least of all plain sight. She wasn't about the Vul or the guards; none of their ilk could touch this.

He only caught parts of what she and Jabbar were discussing. Still self-conscious, Aust nearly tripped as he made his way behind the bar, finding a spare bottle of wine where it hadn't been before.

~ Well, hell. If I'd only have found this earlier....~

He found a clean cup. Heaven forbid he simply chug the wine from the bottle. There were ladies present! Dwarves didn't count. He took both to a spot at the bar close enough to eavesdrop but not to intrude. He needed a brief respite. If nothing else, the shallow act of seeing something as darn pretty as this elven lass, even soaked to the bone, made his predicament the least little bit better. Jabbar was discussing something with her. Aust heard one phrase clearly, and it shook him out of his blurred puppy-dog admiration of the attractive newcomer: "...patrons are known associates of the Black Network...."

His interest shifted suddenly and totally. His self-consciousness gave way to momentary clarity. "...the Black Network...."

All of a sudden, this white-hot beautiful elven girl was a whole lot more interesting in a whole lot less trivial ways.
 

p3sent

First Post
Ersun, late newcomer

As Jabbar let the elf in Ersun relaxed himself. She was not exactly dressed for the weather, and was not really shy about it, which the underfolk found strange. Especially since she seemed eye-catching, the looks of others supported that assumption, so he thought it was strange for her to make the journey this late with such alertness outside. He thought she might've had a trick to her safety. Or maybe she was just too eager for a place and recognition. Maybe both.

He nodded with a faint smile at Aust as he came back.

He listened carefully to her words, trying to puzzle things together, and get an impression off her. He got up to take a closer look at the letter Jabbar showed. Reading the signature it came to him that he mentioned Kayote as a friend and probable ally, so that helped to get his head around. Although he was not sure what was the significance of the Black Network patrons and what that meant to Jabbar.

He turned to the elven lady.

"I am Ersun. May I?" and he softly touched the edge of her clothes while humming a quiet little spellsong to clean her clothes of water [Prestidigitation]. Then he steped to the side and watched curiously what the rest is going to say or do.

(Bardic Knowledge on Black Network: 18)

[SBLOCK=Results of Bardic Knowledge Check]Your knowledge on this topic is scattered, since under-dwellers rarely have anything to fear from the so-called Black Network. You are not aware of the specific history of the network or what it's actual hierarchy, ethos and methods are.

You are aware the network is composed of evil humanoids based out of Skull Mountain. Rumor has it Skull Mountain was once the home of a huge dwarven clan who lost their stronghold. You are also aware that large warbands from Skull Mountain can do unspeakable harm to innocent townships and caravans, yet typically it is smaller groups of trained scouts and assassins that give the network its reach and power. Agents of Skull Mountain are responsible for countless acts of sabotage, arson, murder, and many other dark deeds under orders from greater evils and more devious minds.

The Black Network disrupts the flow of trade around Skull Mountain (Which include Vulkh, The Elven Kingdom of Siellon, The Kingdom of Nefer, The Ahura Expanse and the Sezzara Wasteland) destabilizing local authorities and religious establishments. Their presence looms over the region like a black cloud, always threatening to bring chaos and war. Neighboring Elves in particular are the networks worse sworn-enemies.[/SBLOCK]
 
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Hillsy7

First Post
Burrai Steelborn

At the knock of the door Burrai had taken up his axe and shield from their place beside the door and stepped to one side even before he really questioned who was calling on Jabbar. Old soldier habits died hard – clearing a space with the doorway in clear view, corner checked and to his back – and if those habits didn’t embed themselves deeply, something sharp often did. Burrai was too old and experienced for those habits not to have taken hold.

Jabbar seemed unperturbed, as though this night of strange and eclectic visitors was mundane. Expected. He opened the door and welcomed a waif out of the rain and dark. She was an elf, with the long, fragile body and those limbs that seemed thin enough to break in the wind. Like all elves, he supposed. The bow on her back looked well-crafted and cared for – though he worked in steel, he still knew good weaponsmithing regardless of material.

When Aletia defined herself as a messenger, and Jabbar installed her in front of the modesty warmth of the hearth, Burrai relaxed. Clearly there was a natural trust here, and Burrai’s nerves were too dulled from the evening to maintain unneccesary suspicion. He slipped his axe and shield into their clips and leaned back on the wall. He retrieved his pipe from his pouch and began thumbing a ball of fresh tobacco inside.

At the mention of the Black Network, Burrai realised he hadn’t really been listening and jerked upright. Jabbar was flourishing a sheaf of paper, talking of patrons and guests. He scowled, confused, and glanced at Elloral. She scowled too, but in distaste. He stalked over and with and open handed gesture of “may I?” took the paper from Jabbar’s large hands.

He read quickly, scratching at his beard with one scarred hand, pipe jutting unlit from the corner of his mouth. Due to the abundance of capitalisation, this was certainly something regular, renowned enough to have gathered titles for activities and roles. He raised one eyebrow, further creasing the seam of scars running down his face, meeting Jabbar’s eyes and then Bill’s

“Kong again.” He rumbled. “Didn’t expect to be seeing his name again so soon. And this Koyote, Jabbar – the very same?” The old smuggler nodded, and Burrai looked back at the paper, lips pursed in thought. “And two of these others are known to you, you say? Hmmmm…….I’m a little confused as to what’s at play here. Mr Burlock we wished to speak to, but how has he become entwined with two members of our…ahem...mutual adversaries to invite them to this ‘challenge’?”

He handed the paper back, thoughts tumbling and locking together, pieces on his mental board moving around each other. “This clearly seems like an opportunity of some kind; a confluence of allies and enemies like this can always be exploited. But I’m afraid to say I’m in the dark as to the setting: This ‘challenge’. What’s at play here?” He glanced between Jabbar and the elf, Aletia, looking for more information. Knowledge was the grease of all great strategic machinery, and rarely could you have too much.
 

97mg

Explorer
Aletia: Hands off!

Silver beams of soft moonlight had heralded Aletia’s arrival into the world. Through no choice of her own, her very being had been bestowed with both gifts, and oddities. She didn’t really think twice about night time activity. Hell, the young Elf was completely nocturnal when she had half a choice in the matter. A night sky overhead was better, be they the best of times... or the worst. Today was very much the latter. Grief. Loss. An unsteady future. An assemblage of hard facts she could hardly begin to chew. The icing on top was that terrible premonition which refused to fade away.

Now she found herself amongst the most unusual strangers. Aletia was pretty used to eyes upon her; be it the mere curiosity of passers by, or those who dared to flirt, charm or simply seek reason to behold her grace or more physical assets just a touch longer.

All this was nothing new. It didn’t mean there weren’t rules though. Rules of engagement with a wild, somewhat naive, heart-breaking and youthful wielder of arrows and charm.


Jabbar: "Tomorrow's contest has an interesting guest-list." He states holding up the list for all to see. "Two of these 'patrons' are known associates of the Black Network!"

She stayed still and quiet as Jabbar announced the news, and used the opportunity to take note of the team’s reactions. They were a team right? It didn’t seem like usual late night drinks or a little gambling going on here. How much did they know? One would presume they would know far more than her…surely... or maybe not?

As a young Elven man entered the room, and made a mild fool of himself, Aletia smiled.

~An Elf! Almost unrecognisable with that disheveled thing going on. Some days are better than others for all of us. This bodes well none the less.~

~A ssstrange sscent, and still no mouse?~

Even from within the confines of the backpack, it was hard for Aletia’s familiar to not notice. The one she'd presumed to be Underfolk, based purely on her dear mentor’s words, was a race she’d never before seen. Her eyes lingered on him a moment. Perhaps a little too long.

Rule one. Strangers don’t touch, not unless they are invited, which was quite a rarity to be honest. Groping hands. Unwanted touches. Close proximity. These things brought out the darkness in her, the very dark that held her Moon oh so high and oh so lonely.

Ersun: He softly touched the edge of her clothes while humming a quiet little spellsong to clean her clothes of water [Prestidigitation].

The dweller of underground realms was humming something incomprehensible! He was reaching out to touch her!

[Spellcraft check to identify spell = 12. Fail.]

“NO!” the young Elven lass called out, bluntly and with nowhere near the politeness she’d gifted upon them thus far.

[Reflex Save to avoid touch = 14. Pass.]

She quick-stepped it backwards, one hand on the sodden silk of her dress, pulling it out of reach, the other firmly planted on something behind her back, over her shoulder, something long and sharp. The wall near the doorway was the end of her retreat. At worst, even though outnumbered, she’d have an escape route.

~How dare he! Without explanation! Without being so chival as to ask first! Who knows what soiled mischief this thing intends to sew! And there I was being respectful, respectful enough to drop the disguise that got me here in one piece.~

“What be your purpose Mister? Where I come from, we have something called manners. I fairly urge your apology!” she demanded from the Underfolk with eyes narrowing, a defensive stance, and perhaps a little quivering of voice.

As Aletia had moved back to immediate safety, she’d missed something. One of the rough n’ tough dwarves, one with a rather discomforting scar, had spoken.

Burrai:“This clearly seems like an opportunity of some kind; a confluence of allies and enemies like this can always be exploited. But I’m afraid to say I’m in the dark as to the setting: This ‘challenge’. What’s at play here?” He glanced between Jabbar and the elf, Aletia, looking for more information. Knowledge was the grease of all great strategic machinery, and rarely could you have too much.

Her gaze moved to Jabbar, softening somewhat, as she said,
“Jabbar, I can not proclaim to know your allegiance with Master Burlock well, nor in detail. If you have queries, make them known, and I will ask of Kayote for answers first thing in the morn. I will say this, though, that Master Burlock is no fool on this matter. In one eve I’ve come to naught but confidence, in whatever plans he may lay. I dare say, this message truly must mean far more to you, than it would to me, his humble servant.”

~Cats and snakes do not escape the bag so easily!~

Then her eyes shot back to the one who emitted the smell that her tiny viper seemed so interested in. It was clear for all to see, she was anxious yet prepared, and in order to seek her assistance, they would need to do better. Much better. This feisty young thing demanded respect.

[sblock=Aletia Stats]

ALETIA - Shining in the darkness

Sheet:
http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheet.html#id=725599
Level
4 Sorceress Init 3, HP Max: 22 Current: 22, Speed 30ft
AC 14, Touch 13, Flat-footed 11, Fort 3, Ref 4, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Longbow +5 to hit / D8 damage (+1 point blank +1 with magic arrows)
Longsword +2 to hit / D8 damage

Familiar Crez (Tiny silver viper) Init 3, HP Max: 11 Current: 11, Speed 15ft
AC 19, Fort 2, Ref 2, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Poisonous Bite +2 to hit / D1 damage (+poison)
Abilities: Deliver touch spells, Alertness, Improved evasion, Spare spells, Empathic link
[/sblock]
 
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p3sent

First Post
Ersun, blink and smile

Ersun at first just blinks a few at the reaction of the young elf, then steps back, smiles kindly and seriously. “I did not mean to startle to you, I apologize.” he nods his head a little and puts his hand to his stomach, and underfolk bowlike gesture of meaning no harm. His kind is very traditional, although usually in the Theocracy more so than the tribals like him, but due to his frequent travels he sometimes encountered circles where such helps. “I merely wished to dry your clothes.” On the other hand, he reminds himself of different cultures, different people, and different situations, he can expect little similarity to underground cultures here.


“It is of little work to me, in case you require it, but you may stay as you are if you wish so.” he adds sincerely. He keeps the amusement out of his tone, as such can often come across as rude and arrogant, but he does find such reaction humorous.


He glances a little at his own wet boots, and realizes he could’ve cleaned those too when he came inside to keep Jabbar’s place clean, although it would’ve been little more than a gesture as the others’ footwear weren’t drier. He lets the thought go and focuses on the happenings with the letter. He reminds himself to keep a slight awareness on the elf lady, as women do not take ignoring well in his experience, and by his first impression she is no different. That, and he did offer his service.
 

narayan

Explorer
At Jabbar's Trade Shop

Jabbar: -Looks between Aletia and Burrai- "It's a long story about Kayote, but trust me when I say he is, and always will be, a staunch ally against our mutual enemy. The Burlock's suffered a great deal making enemies of the Black Network. They are now marked-for-death with a huge price on their heads. The Red Sands Inn is their sanctuary and they dare not leave for fear of their lives."

"The Burlock's used to have a large fortune but their trade enterprise has long since collapsed after years in seclusion. 'The Contest' earns income to support the Inn yes, but Kayote's real purpose was to draw agents of the Black Network into a trap." - Sighs - "Part of me wants to commend the old pirate for luring them here. Unfortunately I'm not convinced his plan will work."

"Our only advantage is how they may not expect we know who they are, but I know enough about Ozzen Spellstrife and Houlgrim Hillstone to know it's risky to go after them, even within town walls. Agents, assassins and informants of the network already live among us. Kayote knows this from bitter experience. This trap of his could actually be a trap for us." Jabbar states with a tight jaw.

[Everyone: What do you do?]
 

97mg

Explorer
Aletia: Overstep

Ersun: “I did not mean to startle to you, I apologize.”
“I merely wished to dry your clothes.”
“It is of little work to me, in case you require it, but you may stay as you are if you wish so.”

Aletia's hand retreated from the hilt of her back-strapped sword, returning to her side as the strangest of Jabbar's crew spoke words of apology. The seriousness on her pale and flawless face dissolved. Her eyes once again became bright jewels of green, and her lips upturned a little in a diffusing smile.


"Forgive me Sir, I act hastily and on instinct. Since the passing of my mentor and life's love, and arriving in this land, my heart swells with such fear that I can barely trust that which is unknown. I did not mean to be rude, your kind... I must say... I have never laid eyes on before. As for my clothes, please do not worry yourself. My journey has been long-winded, so the weather I've come to accept as yet another of time's little challenges."

Nodding respectfully in reply, the young elf moved closer to the warmth of Jabbar's hearth, and paid attention to the words of the smuggler and the jewel-eyed short one.

Jabbar: -Looks between Aletia and Burrai- "It's a long story about Kayote, but trust me when I say he is, and always will be, a staunch ally against our mutual enemy. The Burlock's suffered a great deal making enemies of the Black Network. They are now marked-for-death with a huge price on their heads. The Red Sands Inn is their sanctuary and they dare not leave for fear of their lives."

"The Burlock's used to have a large fortune but their trade enterprise has long since collapsed after years in seclusion. 'The Contest' earns income to support the Inn yes, but Kayote's real purpose was to draw agents of the Black Network into a trap." - Sighs - "Part of me wants to commend the old pirate for luring them here. Unfortunately I'm not convinced his plan will work."

"Our only advantage is how they may not expect we know who they are, but I know enough about Ozzen Spellstrife and Houlgrim Hillstone to know it's risky to go after them, even within town walls. Agents, assassins and informants of the network already live among us. Kayote knows this from bitter experience. This trap of his could actually be a trap for us." Jabbar states with a tight jaw.

~Master Burlock's trust of Jabbar is true. Ah ha! Traps. And there I was half thinking this was all about coin. They do not leave the Inn? Interesting. This is where I will find purpose with the man, as an anonymous, often disguised newcomer, who can assist like this in the exchange of words and collection of intelligence. It does sound like Kayote, in his illness and growing impatience, has laid a plot that may turn upon him... us... all.~

Aletia looked up to Jabbar, considering his confirmation and freshly laid fears.

"It be not my place to make decisions for our friends at the Red Sands Inn, but your words do not instill confidence either. If as you say, my Master may have bitten off more than he might chew this time around, I wonder if we might seek to assist him? These colleagues of yours..." She looked to Jabbar's guests. "... perhaps whilst the contest is in progress, we can keep our eyes on the exits, watch for unscrupulous activities, and if need be intervene."

There was a shrug as she finished the suggestion. A moment of self-doubt. Was she treading on toes?

~It would be harmless right? To just post lookouts. Question is, do I let Kayote know. Umm, he would take it as overstepping one's mark, and it might prick his ego like a lance to the side.~

Opportunity abounded here also. Names she did not know. People within a web of terror that maybe, just maybe, might one day lead to her to some form of justice.


"Who is this Kong you speak of?" She asked the dwarf. "Sounds like you have a history there." Piece by piece she planned to know who these people were. All of them.

Then she looked to Jabbar once more, and inquired as to the names he had spoken.
"What do we know of this Ozzen and Houlgrim? At worst, I'd like to understand a little about these key guests, so I can know perhaps what to look out for."

[sblock=Aletia Stats]

ALETIA - Shining in the darkness

Sheet:
http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheet.html#id=725599
Level
4 Sorceress Init 3, HP Max: 22 Current: 22, Speed 30ft
AC 14, Touch 13, Flat-footed 11, Fort 3, Ref 4, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Longbow +5 to hit / D8 damage (+1 point blank +1 with magic arrows)
Longsword +2 to hit / D8 damage

Familiar Crez (Tiny silver viper) Init 3, HP Max: 11 Current: 11, Speed 15ft
AC 19, Fort 2, Ref 2, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Poisonous Bite +2 to hit / D1 damage (+poison)
Abilities: Deliver touch spells, Alertness, Improved evasion, Spare spells, Empathic link
[/sblock]
 
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narayan

Explorer
Aletia said:
Then she looked to Jabbar once more, and inquired as to the names he had spoken. "What do we know of this Ozzen and Houlgrim? At worst, I'd like to understand a little about these key guests, so I can know perhaps what to look out for."

Jabbar: Shakes his head slowly. "Between Ozzen and Houlgrim, it's difficult to say which is more dangerous. The gnome is a most wicked wizard. His shop up in Tachir is known to sell the largest variety of cursed magic items found anywhere in Vulkh. Ozzen is also rumored to conduct vile magical experiments, consulting with demons, devils, and beholders. Many call him a 'collector of secrets', which serves to be his most lucrative trade. Divination spells, torture, and the use of dominated creatures (or persons) who spy for him are just some of the tools at his disposal."

"Houlgrim is no better. The 'Bone-Breaker' they call him. An infamous hill dwarf of exceptional strength, cunning and cruelty who mutilates his enemies. Most of eastern-Vulkh's black-market goods; entering or leaving through the south, is controlled through him. Strangely, Houlgrim has no qualms associating with Orcs or other evil humanoids and often employs them as scouts and assassins. Some say he even took the half-orc lover of a powerful Orcish chieften as his bride after slaying him in single combat, making twisted half-dwarf; half-orc children with her. A rumor other dwarves find most revolting..."
He says with a look towards Burrai and Elloral.

Elloral: Grasps one of the silver beads on her long braids bearing the holy symbol of Valkauna and appears visibly sickened.
"How in the nine hells do these villains enjoy such freedom in this land? Is there no one here in Vulkh capable of stopping them?!"

Jabbar:
Sighs.
"It is true they are both known criminals and dangerous degenerates. The Vulfear keep accounts of their activities and known associates, but so long as they operate away from cities and larger towns like this their offenses are largely ignored. Local sheriffs or town guards are too weak to intervene. Only the Vulkyrie are strong enough to apprehend or kill them, and it's anyone's guess why they don't?"

"There must be some kind of relationship between the Black Network and the Vul hierarchy we aren't aware of? Vulkyrie aren't the decision makers after all. They obey and protect the the Vul-Kings royal family, who himself takes orders from the Vul Elder Council. As always, the Vul Elder Council occupies the Vulmek Rookery on Mt. Sumeru, neighboring Skull Mountain. This adjacency must have lead to an arrangement of necessity between these evil powers, who otherwise should have long since been at war by now, given the frequency of raids and attacks in these lands that have brought us all such suffering."
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
Aust Breaks His Silence

~ A Rogue's Gallery, even by smuggler standards ~

Aust takes a deep swig of the wine. ~ Red. Not cheap either. All the better. ~

He clears his throat, "Kong. Would love to watch that rocks-for-brains bleed out. Somebody ought to bean his bean with an arrow. Or maybe an axe. Sorry mi'lady. I promise any disdain you might feel at my words would come to a quick end once you get a eyeful of that brute. Wicked ugly, with a matching disposition."

And to Jabbar's description of Ozzen & Houlgrim, Aust spits in disgust. Ozzen is an exaggerated sick caricature of all of the reasons Aust loathes gnomes. And Houlgrim. He simply shakes his head. Although he says nothing, Jabbar can pretty much read his mind. He has no interest in being within a mile of these blokes except to slit them hip to breastbone and watch them die along with Kong. He never regarded himself as being particularly inclined to wishing bad things on people, notwithstanding his brother. Really. He made it a point to be diplomatic. After all he was a smuggler. But these people were bad elements. Removing them from the realm of the living would be an improvement to all evil beings everywhere, not to mention good people.

"Jabbar, unless you have anything that you require of me, I'm going to pack it in for the evening. I doubt I'll sleep. But I'd like to try. Well met, young elven lass. Thank you for gracing our abode. Archaeos knows after the night I had, it's a silver lining indeed. 'Nite all. "

Aust raises the bottle in a weak toast, and trudges up to his bed. He doesn't truly sleep, opting for the elven trance. However, that is even restless and troubled, certainly a by-product of residual poison or perhaps the lycan curse.


[sblock=Aust Picture]



[/sblock]
 
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Hillsy7

First Post
Burrai Steelborn

Burrai watched the exchange between Aletia and Ersun with a mixture of confusion and mirth, but he still caught most of Jabbar’s explanation. He did have to run it back through his head once though to ensure he had all the salient pieces identified. So this Kayote was living in self-seclusion, laying honey traps for Black Network operatives using this ‘Contest’ somehow. There was a painfully limit amount of information as to how the trap worked; Burrai knew as much from smithing as from soldiering that the strength of anything was different depending on the forces applied. Some steel could be shattered with a single blow but strong enough to hang half a mountain from. It would be the internal workings of the trap that would discern whether these two Black Network operatives could be contained.

~Contained?~ At first Burrai’s initial thought surprised him, but almost at once he realised why. Though both seemed suitably vile enough that their destruction was all but a moral responsibility – This Houlgrim…consorting and fornicating with Orcs! ORCS! If there was some ritual that could divest Houlgrim of his dwarven heritage before Burrai exterminated him, the dwarven race would owe him an almost unpayable debt – Ozzun provided an opportunity. Anyone who could consort with demons and devils surely would be able to translate the diary. Especially being of the Network too. It seemed worth the effort to save a journey and another potential battle with another evil entity.

Burrai then realised he’d essentially Agreed to offering Kayote aid. Certainly it would seal the man as an ally, which was Burrai’s intention anyway, but he was intending to do so with words rather than involving himself in other plans. Still, tactics and strategy were by definition flexible things and an opportunity.
He was still deep in thought when Aust excused himself, and Burrai realised the elf girl, Aletia, had asked him a question.

“Kong?” He snorted. “History is perhaps a strong word for it, lass. We’ve orbited in similar circles for years. Mercenary work doesn’t have a many old faces, you get to hear about those with scars and wrinkles, even if you never fight against or alongside ‘em. Fact first time I’ve probably been within ten feet of the Khrazzit [Not a pleasant dwarven insult] was tonight when he and a few friends decided to jump me. Thanks to Billanverthorne, and the Guards moving passed, we chased him off. Thought we’d get a second bite at him soon enough considering who his employer is – didn’t think he’d have got entangled in other areas. Still,“ Burrai shrugged, huge shoulders shifting a mountain of air, “Opportunity knocks, eh?”

He wandered to the fire and lit his pipe. The leaf was a bit dry, but still kept its flavour and scent. “So Jabbar, seems as though there’s three potential targets all in the same place, at the same time. Considering our main goals right now are aiding Rasul in thwarting Noro, neutralising the threat this Chuth poses, and finding allies to add to our roster – this would certainly intersect with two of those, assuming Noro had further plans for Kong other than splitting my head open.”

Burrai leaned back against the hearth, the orange firelight gleaming in ripples across the fine plate of his armour. “So do you know how this ‘Contest’ operates as a trap of Black Network agents? And how could we use it to pin down and eliminate three targets at once? I presume an ambush or frontal assault is out of the question; if other patrons who aren’t intended victims are there, Kayote won’t want a reputation for attendees getting periodically murdered. Makes the trap ineffective in future. So do we have options?”

Burrai made an open gesture. “Seems like an opportunity to take down a few targets, make dealing with Noro less risky – fewer unknowns – and we can bind Kayote to us a little firmer. “
 
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p3sent

First Post
The outsider

He nods in acknowledgment to the lady.


When Elloral gets outraged about how can such get away with, well, being such people, he remembers one or two alike back in his home. Starting with the duergar crimelord beneath the old ruins. From that experience it seems to him they are so deeply embedded into the local politics it is sometimes hard to make a distinction between them.
When Aust leaves he bids him good dreams. Good night is a strange expression to him, feels so archaic. So far he has only ever heard of the phrase in history and theology, well, mostly those. He does pick up the strangest things as a bard.
Ersun considers what has been said so far about this trap of Kayote's. He nods as Burrai speaks his mind and as he ponders on it he makes his own comments. It seems to him the discussion is never ending, but not to anyone's fault. He sighs.
"I do not know how efficient or advantageous this trap might be. I haven't been here long enough to do so, but given your friendship... I assume the only question is how you aid him."
Then he voices his concern.
"And while gathering allies is good. It seems to me the tasks are gathering, while time isn't, and to manage everything manpower will have to be split."
He looks around to see if the people present agree with the statement, which in reality means Jabbar, Burrai and Ren.
He can't fathom how much preparation the strike on the wererat den would need. Or to be more accurate while not a military expert of organisation he can gasp at it, hence the pondering on time and tasks.
 
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narayan

Explorer
At Jabbar's Trade Shop

Jabbar nods in acknowledgement to Aust going upstairs as he glances jealously at Burrai's pipe and reaches for a finely carved ivory box sitting atop the mantle. Inside, resting on a cushion of blue-velvet, is an exotic, antique, wood pipe capped in solid gold engraved in ancient script.



Jabbar: "This pipe, or 'Midwakh' as its named in the old tongue, was gifted to an ancient ancestor of mine by the name of Suhrawardi Najafi. By all accounts, Suhrawardi was an esteemed philosopher, explorer and healer, renowned throughout Summara for his miracle cures. His fame grew so great in fact, he was invited to the court of the reigning King Kalash who was terribly afflicted by gout, the so-called 'disease of kings'. They say the king and Suhrawardi sat together in private, discussing treatment for his illness in the king's own baths within the palace..." Jabbar says while removing a small leather pouch with the pipe containing finely shredded tobacco mixed with leaves, bark, herbs and spices.

"...This did not sit well with the other members of the royal court. Tradition demanded private audiences with a king were chaperoned by his advisors, especially given how Suhrawardi was not himself of noble descent, and known to be influenced by outsiders..." Jabbar pauses placing a few pinches of the fine tobacco (known as Dokha) into the pipe, lighting it with an iron stick coated in alchemical wax that flared hot and brightly placed near the open flames of the hearth. Jabbar takes a deep puff from the pipe, releasing the smoke slowly through his nose, savoring its flavor.

"This pipe was a token of appreciation from the king for his medicine, truly a treasure!" Jabbar states admiringly.
"It's been passed down through my family now for fourteen generations, though unfortunately Suhrawardi himself did not possess it for long. He was arrested a few days after he came to the palace when King Kalash died horribly in his sleep, his body contorted and twisted in a most disturbing way. Suhrawardi was blamed for his 'foreign medicine' and imprisoned. They say he was tortured first, allegedly to induce confession for regicide, but that was in fact, a cover for another matter."


"Secretly, the court knew King Kalash was actually poisoned. Suhrawardi was just a convenient scapegoat to keep in a cell while they discreetly went about the real investigation of the king's murder. Nevertheless, Suhrawardi was executed anyway without acknowledgement of his innocence. King Kalash's successor ended up to be King Hamza, the cruelest tyrant in Summara's history."

Jabbar paused again to take another puff. "The rest of Suhrawardi's family had to flee for their lives, hunted by hired killers of King Hamza until the Kingdom of Vulkh was born. It is the long-held belief in the Najafi family that the king's affliction may not have been the only thing Suhrawardi and the king discussed together. Perhaps some matters of state, or even some royal secret pass through his ears? Whatever it was, this pipe serves as a reminder about the dangers of accepting invitations."

"My point is we would be wise to assume Ozzen and Houlgrim are prepared for Kayote's tricks. This 'Contest' of his was a questionable idea to begin with. He has his reasons to abuse and torture the man in the iron mask to be sure, but it was only a matter of time before the Black Network decided to end his game. Whatever's gonna happen at The Red Sands Inn tomorrow I know this for certain, it'll be bad, very bad..." He states with a clear undertone of dread, unconsciously touching at the scar across his cheekbone.

Elloral:"What do you suggest?"

Jabbar:
"I suggest Kayote cancels his event and closes the inn for a few days! Battling Ozzen and Houlgrim inside the inn is a huge risk to so many innocents there for the scheduled entertainment. Even if we prevail against them, how do we explain the bloodbath to the town guard and/or the Vulkyrie afterwards? We'll be lucky to escape arrest even if we survive." He states with a warning look to Aletia

Elloral: Frowns.
"The danger to the innocents is a valid point. But we should not let them simply let them stroll in and out of town without making them pay?! Suppose we lure them elsewhere?"

Jabbar: Scratches at his beard.
"Perhaps... perhaps... yet there is little time to setup an effective ambush."

Ren:
"Master Rasul can help! Besides that, Rhats like myself know every dark corner in this town. Some are good for fighting as much as hiding!"

Avar: Picks at the edge of his handaxe in agitation.
"One way or another, so long as I'm breathing, those two won't be leaving Cabarda without meeting the sharp end of this axe! The honor of my clan demands it!"

[Aletia, Burrai, Ersun; What do you do?]
 
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97mg

Explorer
Aletia: Warm mists and cold news


The young newcomer hovered next to Jabbar’s hearth, a light mist arising off her silver silken dress as it slowly succumbed to the warmth. Heat thawed her legs whilst strange new knowledge soaked into her ears. Her first job for Burlock, and so very interesting!

Jabbar: Sighs. "It is true they are both known criminals and dangerous degenerates. The Vulfear keep accounts of their activities and known associates, but so long as they operate away from cities and larger towns like this their offenses are largely ignored. Local sheriffs or town guards are too weak to intervene. Only the Vulkyrie are strong enough to apprehend or kill them, and it's anyone's guess why they don't?"

"There must be some kind of relationship between the Black Network and the Vul hierarchy we aren't aware of? Vulkyrie aren't the decision makers after all. They obey and protect the the Vul-Kings royal family, who himself takes orders from the Vul Elder Council. As always, the Vul Elder Council occupies the Vulmek Rookery on Mt. Sumeru, neighboring Skull Mountain. This adjacency must have lead to an arrangement of necessity between these evil powers, who otherwise should have long since been at war by now, given the frequency of raids and attacks in these lands that have brought us all such suffering."

Ozzen and Houlgrim, clearly a vicious handful! The theory about their corrupt dealings with the Vul was just as intriguing. These were names she’d need to remember, to add to a growing list of people she’d need to investigate… approach with caution, or just stay well clear of. There was no telling who she’d need to know, and what actions she might one day need to take. As Aletia quietly wondered in what manner to reply, the well-worn elven man made to retire for the evening.

Aust: "Jabbar, unless you have anything that you require of me, I'm going to pack it in for the evening. I doubt I'll sleep. But I'd like to try. Well met, young elven lass. Thank you for gracing our abode. Archaeos knows after the night I had, it's a silver lining indeed. 'Nite all."

“Well met indeed, sleep well kind sir,” she replied, nodding a little as the man turned to go. “Perhaps we will meet again? Enjoy your rest.” He sure looked like he needed it.

This was unusual, Aletia thought, how Jabbar and his friends didn’t seem to mind the inquisitive questioning of an Inn’s messenger girl. Perhaps it was obvious that she could be entrusted with secrets and confidence? Had Burlock’s scroll been all she’d needed to lay the first steps of trust with these folk? It appeared that her Master had handed her a gift, a key which would unlock the gateway in her search for answers. There was mutual respect here, and the Underfolk’s cantrip was soon out of her mind, as she thought on how a common aim or hatred as it may be, removed all the politics of race, past and swift judgement from the smuggler’s abode.

The words of the battle-scarred dwarf confirmed it.

Burrai: “Kong?” He snorted. “History is perhaps a strong word for it, lass. We’ve orbited in similar circles for years. Mercenary work doesn’t have a many old faces, you get to hear about those with scars and wrinkles, even if you never fight against or alongside ‘em. Fact first time I’ve probably been within ten feet of the Khrazzit [Not a pleasant dwarven insult] was tonight when he and a few friends decided to jump me.”
Her eyes opened a little wider at this news, as she turned to Burrai with an apologetic look.

“I hope he got all that was coming to him. Were you or your friends hurt during this ordeal?” she asked, before prodding a little deeper. “Why would they target you so? It seems everyone I meet in this land has enemies, and it saddens my heart. The days of wandering free and without fear seem to have well and truly passed.”

Aletia couldn’t deny that their were serious undertones here. By making allegiances, she’d no doubt be stepping into a dark new world. A place of threats, complexity, and the potential to be targeted merely by association. One fact was looming all too clear, she’d have to keep her wits about her and proceed with great care. Essentially, if the anonymity was torn away, Burlock’s enemies might become her own.

There was a change of pace then, as Jabbar fingered his pipe and relayed a most grand tale. She listened with the sparkle of interest within her eyes, taking note of the man’s skill in delivering the story of the heirloom, and most of all what it stood for, what Jabbar was really trying to impart here.

Jabbar: "My point is we would be wise to assume Ozzen and Houlgrim are prepared for Kayote's tricks. This 'Contest' of his was a questionable idea to begin with. He has his reasons to abuse and torture the man in the iron mask to be sure, but it was only a matter of time before the Black Network decided to end his game. Whatever's gonna happen at The Red Sands Inn tomorrow I know this for certain, it'll be bad, very bad..." He states with a clear undertone of dread, unconsciously touching at the scar across his cheekbone.

Elloral:"What do you suggest?"

Jabbar:
"I suggest Kayote cancels his event and closes the inn for a few days! Battling Ozzen and Houlgrim inside the inn is a huge risk to so many innocents there for the scheduled entertainment. Even if we prevail against them, how do we explain the bloodbath to the town guard and/or the Vulkyrie afterwards? We'll be lucky to escape arrest even if we survive." He states with a warning look to Aletia

Elloral: Frowns.
"The danger to the innocents is a valid point. But we should not let them simply let them stroll in and out of town without making them pay?! Suppose we lure them elsewhere?"

Jabbar: Scratches at his beard.
"Perhaps... perhaps... yet there is little time to setup an effective ambush."

Ren: "Master Rasul can help! Besides that, Rhats like myself know every dark corner in this town. Some are good for fighting as much as hiding!"

Avar: Picks at the edge of his handaxe in agitation.
"One way or another, so long as I'm breathing, those two won't be leaving Cabarda without meeting the sharp end of this axe! The honor of my clan demands it!"
Somehow the discussion was leading into things which pushed Aletia further into a grim acceptance of her new reality. What now? She wondered. Neither option sounded simple nor pleasant, and if requesting Burlock to cancel the event wouldn’t be hard enough, the Rhat and the dwarves seemed to be leading the conversation somewhere else. Murder. Assassination.

She stared at the floor a moment, summoning some courage before exchanging words. Then she looked to them and finally said, “Kind friends, what would you have me say to my Master? I can deliver your reply, that is certain, but I’ve no doubt that Burlock is too confident, arrogant, dare I say it, to abandon his plan.”

“Perhaps, if we were to meet him together, we might be able to impart sense to his ears, but alas it is late. My Master has retired for the evening, in poor health, and I expect he won’t be much for negotiation in this morning’s hours.”

Then their was the issue of the “other” plan. Dealing with Ozzen and Houlgrim by alternative means. To be honest, she really wasn’t sure what to think of this. The elven lass was law-abiding. She’d never killed without certainty in her actions. She’d never really worked with a team of strangers before either. There was a lot at stake, but despite the risk, she knew deep down that she would need the help of these people, if not now, later down the track.

“Aside from my duties for Burlock, please consider me available to assist,” she said with a touch of sorrow in her voice.

“I offer you another set of eyes, and the tips of my arrows should they be needed. I must ask though, should a plan to remove these fiends be successful, who would replace them? What long term damage would it do to the workings of this treacherous web? It is only natural for me to question if your lives might be at great risk in such an undertaking, and unless the reward is a great sting to this endless assortment of evils, I ask that perhaps you keep your lives, and work on some other honourable deed to flush out the pestilence that plagues your land, and steals our loved ones.”


[sblock=Aletia Stats]

ALETIA - Shining in the darkness

Sheet:
http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheet.html#id=725599
Level
4 Sorceress Init 3, HP Max: 22 Current: 22, Speed 30ft
AC 14, Touch 13, Flat-footed 11, Fort 3, Ref 4, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Longbow +5 to hit / D8 damage (+1 point blank +1 with magic arrows)
Longsword +2 to hit / D8 damage

Familiar Crez (Tiny silver viper) Init 3, HP Max: 11 Current: 11, Speed 15ft
AC 19, Fort 2, Ref 2, Will 4, Base Attack Bonus 2
Poisonous Bite +2 to hit / D1 damage (+poison)
Abilities: Deliver touch spells, Alertness, Improved evasion, Spare spells, Empathic link
[/sblock]
 
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p3sent

First Post
Ersun to pondering

Ersun quietly follows the conversation. It is not his place to make the decisions and and judgements about Kayote’s guests, as he is not part of it, not strictly. It seems he is part of the struggles against the wererats and with Noro, given that the fate of his host and even a huge part of the city politics is heavily dependant on those. While thinking of the power struggles, his mind wanders to Thiara. She did not respond or acknowledge his message, although his understanding is that the stone allowed that. That made him worry a little, made him uncertain, and made him consider if he should go out with Ren to find Rasul. He does not share his concern with the rhat yet as he does not want to worry him. It is a rather unnecessary line of thought as they previously discussed that with the given situation Ren can not leave.


He puts the pondering of that aside for now, and returns to the discussions at hand. So given he is involved in Noro and wererat struggles, and it seems the team is his team in it, that makes him ligthly connected to the Kayote and the Black Network. He rubs his head a little: his situation is much more complicated than he would like. It seems to be a returning concept to him these days, given what happened just before he left home. A weirdly interconnecting web of allegiances. He glances at Aletia, and is amused that it seems she is in a rather similiar situation. She just became a henchman of Kayote today, and is already plunged into some depths. She does not even see yet the further parts that he was introduced to recently, but he expects soon so will she.


Since he wasn’t heeded so far, and really it is not his place to butt into things right now, he just comments a step more respectfully. He gives a look to Avar, Ren and Jabbar.
“It is not my place to make any of these decision, especially given my limited understanding of the city and the region. In these situations I am with Ren’s master whatever his actions will be and whatever you work out between yourselves. An alliance is more than feasible, given the other threat, or at least that is my assumption. The rest… is all about making priorities I suppose.” he says and closes it with a gracious nod..

With that he sits down and puts his mind at ease a little, paying less attention to the discussion. He would not mind some private space, and glances around a little wonderingly, but it seems he is in no position to find some (the secret storeroom is closeby under the traproom, but he would consider respiting there awfully rude of himself). That makes him postpone journal writing, or at least the actual act of penning itself. He does begin to gather the script in his head and ponders about his place in all of… this.
 

Hillsy7

First Post
Burrai puffed away. Thinking. Planning. Evaluating. It all bubbled away as naturally as breathing, and finally other streams of information were appearing. He turned to Ersun as the Underfolker gave his thoughts.

Ersun "And while gathering allies is good. It seems to me the tasks are gathering, while time isn't, and to manage everything manpower will have to be split."

“I agree with your assessment. Mostly.” Burrai let pipesmoke stream out through his nostrils. “However, I think there maybe just enough time. This contest is tomorrow night, and an ideal strike against Noro the evening after. So there’s perhaps time. The bigger fear here is that by not striking both targets close together, we risk scaring away one quarry after dealing with the first. The decision first and foremost is if we can afford to lose one of the two. It’s tough, yes. Audacious? Yes. The question is: Necessary?” And Burrai was a student of audacious plans. History was essentially a record of those who’d gambled with the fate of the world and won.

Aletia “I hope he got all that was coming to him. Were you or your friends hurt during this ordeal?” she asked, before prodding a little deeper. “Why would they target you so? It seems everyone I meet in this land has enemies, and it saddens my heart. The days of wandering free and without fear seem to have well and truly passed.”

Burrai glanced at Elloral, but the Dwarven priest had already called upon her god to heal her minor wounds. “No. The guards chased them off before blood could be properly exchanged, thankfully for them. As to why us?” Again he glanced at Ellroal, this time a quick, sharp look. “The Black Network has taken an interest in us, in something we’ve discovered, and I suspect will soon realise we are actively working against them. This was always going to be a collision – they just made the first move. On the plus side, it means that dealing with Kong will almost certainly be part of the next few days.” His grin was only half-hearted though as he turned back to Jabbar, Ren and Elloral discussing the Contest….

Jabbar: Scratches at his beard. "Perhaps... perhaps... yet there is little time to setup an effective ambush."

Ren: "Master Rasul can help! Besides that, Rhats like myself know every dark corner in this town. Some are good for fighting as much as hiding!"
……….
Aletia: "I can deliver your reply, that is certain, but I’ve no doubt that Burlock is too confident, arrogant, dare I say it, to abandon his plan.”

Allies, pieces, manoeuvres; so many options, so many intricate paths. Burrai cursed under his breath softly. He just didn’t know what was possible right now, and he had dwindling hours to find out. Give him a half dozen men he knew well, a familiar valley, and he’d hold back an army of a hundred foreigners. Right now he just had a handful of possibilities, allies he knew little about, and enemies who refused to meet them on the battlefield. In was enough to make a dwarf stop drinking.

“Aletia. I think Ren here has the best read of what we do next. Before we persuade Mr Burlock to do anything, perhaps we should check this last avenue to see if we can still make it work to our favour. Tell him to expect a visit from us tomorrow morning, and try and convince him an open mind is best. And get some rest, Lass. Tomorrow might be a long day.” The last was delivered softly, almost fondly.

He turned back to the others. “If Kayote is going to be bull-headed about this, and doing this at the Contest is going to be too difficult to do clean, maybe there is something Rasul can help with to do this away from prying eyes. Yes, it puts us in his debt, meaning helping Rasul with Noro is an obligation rather than a favour, but if we want to strike twice at the Network rather than once, I see no other option.”

He puffed hard on his pipe for a moment, deep in thought, creating a small fog cloud around his head he had to swat away. “And time is pressing. Jabbar, Avar, anyone else,” he gestured to the room at large. “are we awake enough to take a night-time stroll through the sewers?”
 

narayan

Explorer
At Jabbar's Trade Shop

Jabbar takes a deep breath, almost a sigh as he presses his hand against his chest.

Jabbar: "Smugglers are more experienced avoiding fights than preparing for them. I'm no battle-commander... the nervous hammering of my own heart spells out trepidation better than words ever could. The evils of the black network are hard to forget, and harder still to face again..." He swallows. "I'm not prepared to make life-or-death decisions with the rest of your lives..." He states with weariness and dismay, locking eyes with the battle-scarred dwarf. "They say
the wisest way to prepare for a combat-engagement is gather allies and choose a favorable battlefield. Burrai has called for this twice already. I cannot speak for everyone, but I'd gladly defer leadership to Burrai Steelborn for the time-being. He has proven himself a brave and stalwart veteran. We could hardly ask for a better commander against such powerful foes!"

"I put myself and all my resources at your disposal Burrai. I will even follow you into the sewers to meet with Rasul. All I ask is that you leave the priestess, Elloral, behind to look after my partner Aust. He must be taken to the temple of Ishvar at dawn. I will not leave unless
he is looked after in my absence. There's no telling how long we'll be delayed down there."

Elloral: Nods somberly. "I will do as you ask Jabbar."

Avar: Looks strangely at Jabbar, clearly disappointed to hear him speak of abstention-by-cowardice. A difficult thing to swallow for any dwarf. And yet, there is understanding there as well. A mutual appreciation for the one nominated to take command. Avar stands beside Burrai with arms crossed. "So be it, I will take orders from Burrai. I have no keen desire to descend into the sewers, but I will do whatever's necessary to have a chance to strike a blow against the ancient enemies of my clan!"

Ren: Flicks his whiskers with eagerness. "Master will be pleased! I am prepared to lead you to Rasul immediately. It is not safe in the sewers without a rhat as your guide!"

[Aletia, Burrai, Ersun: What do you do?]
 

97mg

Explorer
Aletia: Temples & Tunnels

Aletia kept her chosen place by the hearth, smiling as the Underfolk sat and appeared to enter into contemplation. Like her, he seemed to be quietly trying to come to terms with a vast number of deeds, actions and potential consequences that the group was in the midst of fleshing out.

Ersun: “It is not my place to make any of these decisions, especially given my limited understanding of the city and the region.

So she wasn’t the only newcomer here either, this too was interesting news. Her elven curiosity beckoned to want to know more, but alas she held her tongue… for now. Jabbar and Burrai were busy forging some kind of a plan, so she stood patiently and let their paths be drawn.

Burrai: “The Black Network has taken an interest in us, in something we’ve discovered...”

~Oh really. And this discovery is? If they are marked, then surely whatever they have learned is of great interest. I must find out, one way or the other, I will be patient and hope to be entrusted with details, at some later time.~

Burrai: “Aletia. I think Ren here has the best read of what we do next. Before we persuade Mr Burlock to do anything, perhaps we should check this last avenue to see if we can still make it work to our favour. Tell him to expect a visit from us tomorrow morning, and try and convince him an open mind is best. And get some rest, Lass. Tomorrow might be a long day.” The last was delivered softly, almost fondly.

Every day was going to be long. Long with grief, anxiety and a burning want for information. Coping would be about finding distractions and making oneself useful. Jabbar’s crew seemed a perfect means to more than one of those ends.

“Certainly,” she replied with a light bow. “I will return to the Inn and warn Master Burlock of the arrival of some very special guests in the morning light.”

So the war-weary Dwarf was going to lead a team into the sewers, in search of intelligence. It didn’t sound like the most heart-warming and glorious adventure. Crez, on the other hand didn't seem to mind the idea.

~Sewersss and mices, breakfast is nicesss~

~Oh shut it Crez! Eating rodents around our present company wouldn't be good form now would it.~

In truth, following the Rhat sounded pretty terrible. Sewers at night. Pouring rain. A meeting with an unknown piece of Jabbar’s puzzle. She was torn, between wanting to help these men and make new discoveries, and not being knee deep in excrement and a terrain where well-fletched arrows might not be so handy. No. She was here for Burlock, and delivering Burrai’s words would be her deed.

However, perhaps there was time to do something else. Assist in some other manner, which didn't involve potential contact with the city's underpath filth.


Jabbar: All I ask is that you leave the priestess, Elloral, behind to look after my partner Aust. He must be taken to the temple of Ishvar at dawn. I will not leave unless[/I] he is looked after in my absence. There's no telling how long we'll be delayed down there."


“Friends,” she said, regarding the occupants of the common room. “Perhaps you will let me assist further in some small way. I can now go to the Inn, leave your words for Master Burlock, and then return here before dawn and help your fine companions, Elloral and Aust, in their travel to the temple. After that, I will once again return to the Inn and await the safe arrival of those who seek to speak to my master. Perhaps I can help you present your case and concerns to him.”

Yes, visiting a temple sounded far better, not to mention safer.

“May I ask what is wrong with him?” She asked, in regards to Aust.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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