"Second Son of a Second Son" - An Aquerra Story Hour (*finally* Updated 04/19)


First Post
BlackCat said:
Why thank you, sir. I did try to keep things away from simply "Wow! What a dick!"

I look forward to seeing the dark side of any character manifest itself in ways that are meaningful and move things along!

My apologies for not responding to this earlier. I think this was really spot on, and things get more interesting as we go along. I think things are settling into a place where nuance may come more into the mix, which will be a nice change.

Now, if I could just stop John from pissing me off so much, I could get closer to a purely character reaction to Markos. ;)

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Telémakhos said:
My apologies for not responding to this earlier. I think this was really spot on, and things get more interesting as we go along. I think things are settling into a place where nuance may come more into the mix, which will be a nice change.

Now, if I could just stop John from pissing me off so much, I could get closer to a purely character reaction to Markos. ;)
No apologies necessary.

I don't think I can help you with that last. He had a talent at pissing me off in OOTFP but it's not a surprise considering race and alignment and general character demeanor. In this case, there may be similar circumstances as far as House, alignment and attitude are concerned.

It's just important to make sure that any particular discussion (read as argument) is relevant either to character or story development and that it doesn't take too much time from others. I realize, though, that it's very easy to lose track in the heat of the moment.

I'm really looking forward to getting more opportunities for insight into the other PCs. Telie himself is a pretty interesting character and I like seeing him in action.


First Post
Telémakhos said:
And his cousin is a good man he would like to see make something of himself so he would like to help him as much as his limited courage will allow.
Amusingly, his cousin would say the exact same thing, but the other way around. ;)
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InterSession #4.1 – “Oh Captain, My Captain!”

Telémahkos summoned a page as he made to leave the Citadel that morning and had the boy send word to the Captain of the Guards that he had a message for him. (1) He spent the first part of the morning playing cards at the Bird’s Eye, probing for information as innocuously as possible among the hard-core gamblers who has been going all night. In the mid-morning, after a run of bad luck, though he got up and headed out to the market to talk to folks around there, but aside from some vague word of an unusual number of Herman-landers over in Tribunisport, there was nothing of interest.

He hurried over for lunch with Timotheus at the Sign of Green Gem, and not an hour after that he was back at the Bird’s Eye trying dice with some better luck, but still not finding much that seemed like a lead to an attack on the Wetherwax fleet. Before the dice got cold on him, he stopped and headed out again to try to roust up some rumors around the docks. He was stopped by a townguard.

“Follow me,” said the man, wearing the long thin beard with no mustache that was the custom among the Swanns and the people of New Harbinger. He carried a spear, and wore a heavy mace at his side and shield on his back.

Through a few narrow winding streets, down an alley and around back of a quaint stone house, he was brought to a patio with a small wooden table flanked by two benches. A window in the back of a house looked into a kitchen where a goodwife sang sweetly while preparing something.

“Sit down,” the guard said and then left. A moment later, Captain Aurelus Oberto came out of the house, grim-faced. Telémahkos stood to greet him, bowing slightly. The captain stopped on the opposite side of the table, placed a booted foot up on the bench.

"You have a message for me?"

"I do." Telie reached into his belt where he had the note given to him by Floris Tenbrook stashed, and handed the small folded paper to captain.

A widening smile appeared on the captain’s face as he read. "Sit."

The captain sat as well, and the woman came out with a tray with two small cups of a steaming black coffee and a small bowl of sugar and two tiny spoons. She did not look either Telie or the captain in the eye, and curtsying, went back inside. She was young and pretty, with a sort of vacant look that Telémahkos found appealing.

"I take it you drink coffee? This is some the best. The real stuff, not that dwarven mushroom sh*t. . ."
Captain Auerlius Oberto put half a spoonful of sugar into his coffee and stirred. "So, did you read this note?"

Telie took a long careful sip of the piping hot coffee, enjoying its bitterness.

"I am intrigued by your question, so why don't we assume I did read it?” Telémahkos smiled as well as he put down his cup, looking the captain right in the eye. “Whether or not, I have, rest assured that you can ask of me whatever it is you have in mind…" (2)

The captain’s smile widened to show perfect white teeth. "We can use good liars, but perhaps not so good that we cannot detect the untruths ourselves. . . so I guess you will do. . ." He winked and took another sip of the coffee. "As for what I want of you. . . It is not what I want, but what we want - and what we want is for you to add your support to a group of concerned citizens of the Magocracy that I am representing at this moment. . . A group that has foreseen the coming political and social turmoil throughout central Aquerra, and wants to minimize the consequences of that chaos, but also to take whatever advantage of it we can to ensure Thricia's future prosperity and security. . . " He took another sip. . . "I mean, you are a patriot are you not? Or you would have not have signed that charter. . . But you are clearly also a man seeking to make his own place in the world. . ."

"I am indeed a patriot of Thricia and also a loyal scion of House Briareus. It is also fair to assume that if I am able to enrich myself and my House while helping my kingdom, I would be a fool to protest,” Telémahkos paused to drain the tiny cup. The afternoon sun was hot, and the coffee made him sweat. “However, that being said, I am also not looking to carry a large target on my chest to encourage slings and arrows...”

Telémahkos waited to see if the captain would say anything, but was met with silence. The woman came out with a iron kettle to pour more coffee, and brought out a plate of tiny cinnamon pastries.

“So, tell me of your proposal," Telémahkos finally broke the silence when the woman left.

"Ideally, not one of us would have a target on our chests - but sometimes the coat of arms on your tunic is target enough for some. . ." Aurelius replied, reaching for the sugar bowl. "Tell me. What are your feelings on our barrel-making friends?" (3)

"I have been a foreman at the family mines. Barrels can be very useful at times," Telie smiled and took a bite of a pastry. "My compliments to the local baker, captain. This is most impressive… Anyway, barrels and those that make them… I think it is enough to say they serve their purpose. On the other hand, they have not all been reared with the idea of playing nice with others and sharing when there is enough to go around.”

Telie dipped was left of his pastry in the coffee.

"Those barrel-maker's bosses are all found in Herman Land, and as the need of coin grows there, they think they have grab more and more from here, causing practical, but law-abiding men, such as you and me, to have to pay attention to the legal indiscretions we might have ignored before. It may be coming time to pull our teat from their mouths, before they decide they want to turn us over and really have a go. . ." The captain cleared his throat and took another sip. "And speaking of teats to be sucked, I heard you and your companions are thinking about going to the Disputed Territories. . . It would be a shame if every barrel in that land, when it is opened up, ends up coming from the same source. . . "

"How can we change what is in the barrel before we arrive to know where they are?" Telémahkos asked, hoping he was not losing the thread of the obtuse conversation.

The Captain replied: "What might be in those barrels remains to be seen, but for so long that group of concerned citizens of our mutual interest have been unable to spread any news aside from that that might be found in a barrel, or would be of interest to those that sell barrels - if you follow me - but this close relationship also means that the framework is already in place to replace that barrel lobby - but we need people to spread that message. (4) The Disputed Territories will open up, and when that happens - be it through war or negotiation - would you not want it be organized Thricians who spread that news and show their influence? Heralds of a new order that does away with the petty needs and measures of barrel-makers. . ."

"And whom do you see replacing the barrel's friends? Is the aim to replace those who are there now with people more in line with our thinking so we do not need to reinvent the thing?" Telémahkos asked.

"If you were to inherit a manse with a staff that knew the local land, the house, the locals and how to serve their master faithfully would you not keep them on? All you would need do is spread the word that you were the new master. . . " The captain picked up a pastry as if to eat it, but put it back down and took another sip of coffee instead. "The question is. . . Are you willing to help spread that message?"

"I suppose this brings us back to the question of how big of a target I wish to wear. I am willing to do many things, but under the right circumstances, the right cause, in service of my crown, without betraying my charter or House ... I think I need more information at this point." Telie sipped his coffee.

"Adela!" Captain Aurelius called to the woman in the house with a sudden stern voice. She hurried out and he made a dismissive gesture to the table. She quickly cleared away everything, including Telie's unfinished second cup of coffee.

The captain stood, and once again propped one foot up on the bench. "That is not how it works, Master Briareus. . . Information is the most precious commodity those people of our mutual interest have access to, and I think you understand, that sometimes the less you know the better. There is a certain amount of faith required to work in the borderlands of law. Trust is earned by means of small steps, but what is more important than trust right now is just knowing that you support the cause your brothers died for. . ." (5)

Telémahkos stood and tried to keep his composure, but was certain he might have blinked one too many times. "I cannot speak of these unknowns, but I am loyal to my brothers' memory," he replied with a bit of heat in his voice. He adjusted his cloak in an exaggerated display of aristocratic manners and continued "If I am given cause to believe I can support something they believed in deeply, and better yet, bring to light any facts that lead to those that plotted their demise, assuming they did not all die on the other ship that sank that night ...(6) If I am given reason to believe this, I will not fail to find out more and act accordingly... I obviously cannot say more without the invaluable information others hold."

He stepped over the bench and turned as if to leave. “Good day Captain, and thank you for the delicious treats."

"So should I take your leaving to mean that you have no interest in doing something specific that can lead to that invaluable information?" The captain asked, ignoring Telie’s tantrum.

"No, you can take my leaving to mean I no longer expected to learn anything useful and that my time has some value while I am still in a town ... by all means, what is it you hope I can do?"

"I want you and your companions to infiltrate Kraken's Cove. . ."

Telémahkos sighed. "Something I have already considered. But how does a charter of adventuring nobles infiltrate such a place? Especially when it seems like there has been a great deal of fanfare associated with our movements? It is not myself I am concerned about of course. But you do realize I have a watch-mage and two priests of law with me, yes?" Telie turned back to Oberto expectantly

"The fanfare can easily be avoided. For one, don't ask you steward to send out messages to all local nobles about your movements and arrivals," Aurelius Oberto said, not bothering to hide his disdain, but his stance softened. "As for the other, perhaps the word 'infiltrate' was too strong. It may be technically a lawless place - but it is still a place where smugglers and the less law-abiding of our merchants gather to make trade - and it is technically not in within the borders of Thricia. In other words, you could get access there, if it were arranged through a contact of mine. . . And what you and your companions do while there would be up to you. . . what matters is that our message is sent. . . And that part would be yours to handle. . ."

"Does this place have dealings with Red Godians? Perhaps if I were to ‘find’ evidence of a conspiracy here in Harbinger, I would have what I need to get the upstanding members of the charter to move in this direction. You spoke of the Disputed Territories, which is where my companions wish to be. What is the connection with the cove...?"

The captain let out a huge laugh. "The Rubes! Ha! Who do you think the smugglers get their sugar, coffee and spices from? Though, I guess they are lapsed Rubes, but who can pay attention?"

"I know a lot more about the Hobgoblins up north than the situation down here: So, former Red God followers are traders or they run plantations? Where do they get their goods from?” Telie asked.

"Everything down there belongs to the church, and that includes all lands and all products of the lands - but that doesn't mean that crops don't go missing . . . They have a tradition down there called 'Midnight Harvest'. Overseers wake up in the morning and a whole section of plantation is picked clean. . ."

“Do you know anything about Dervish activity of late?" Telémahkos figured it was worth asking to see if his companions’ fears had any foundation.

"Just the usual rumors. . . nothing of substance. . . But anyway, do I have your interest now? Shall I put you in contact with my man in Tribunisport so you can arrange passage?" the captain asked.

“Yes.” Telie replied.

"I am glad to hear it," He walked closer and clasped a strong hand firmly to Telie's neck and shoulder and smiled. "I am sure I don't have to say this, but once this conversation is over we should return to less familiar relations, and of course to anyone else it will be as if this conversation never happened. . ."

He stopped himself shortly. "Did you tell anyone about the note you brought me?"

"No. And my discretion is assured," Telémahkos replied.

"Of your discretion I am certain. . . I mean, people have ended up on at the bottom of a staircase with their head cracked open for less… But good… Discretion is good… But if for some reason someone were to ask, you were just bringing me our mutual friend's latest King's Men (7) move to me - as we have been playing a game for nearly a year now via messages…"

Captain Aurelius Oberto stepped towards the house's backdoor. "When you get to Tribunisport, look up a fat Herman-lander named Boris Crumb at the Brown Turban. . . He will see to getting you to the cove. Another agent will be contacting you about the specific message. Farewell."

Telie stood there for a moment, nodding, and then slowly departed. He felt his head spinning as he headed back to the citadel to freshen up before meeting the merchant Cornwallis Lowe.

End of InterSession #4.1


(1) See Session #2

(2) Of course, Telémahkos did read the note. It told the captain that Telémahkos was of a like mind as they were and he should be offered a job. It also noted that Telémahkos would have probably have read the note.

(3) This is a reference to The Coopers the Thrician arm of Berman’s Gang, a Herman-lander Thieves guild, and the most connected criminal organization in the Spice & Thread Islands.

(4) This obtuse talk filled with innuendo and code is referring to the Herald’s Guild, a Thrician organization that lost all repute due to selling out all sense of integrity and privacy in passing news and messages to The Coopers. The innuendo here is that the Herald’s Guild could take over the running of the criminal enterprises, squeezing out the Coopers.

(5) Three of Telémahkos’ brothers died in 564 H.E. (635 M.Y.) aboard the Siren when it was purportedly attacked by pirates.

(6) NOT FOR SsoaSS PLAYERS: [sblock]Telémahkos is privy to information that one of his brothers, Jason, survived the initial attack and knew it was an inside job. However, he was caught up to soon after and killed as well. Telie was fishing for information here, mentioning another ship to see if the captain might let go of some more info about what happened, since he seemed to know something about the real reason they died.[/sblock]
(7) King’s Men is Aquerra’s version of chess. It is not unknown for people distant from each other to play by means of passed messages.


First Post
I'm glad that Timotheus has been getting a good bit of screen time in the Story Hour so far, since he doesn't show up in any of these InterSessions. I feel so left out! :p


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InterSession #4.2 – “At the Watch-mage’s House”

As Laarus and Bleys made their trek through the narrow streets of New Harbinger towards the local watch-mage's house, the priest noticed his companion's every step betrayed signs of discomfort. Bleys felt a hand press firmly upon his back, as he continued to walk, and heard Laarus' voice clearly call: "May the warmth of Ra's light ease your pain." A sensation of warmth passed through the watch-mage's body, as the last of the bruises from the battle with the lizardfolk faded away.

Oroleniel the Salmon lived in a small cottage tucked behind two large buildings near New Harbinger Gate. The half-elf answered the door with a wide smile. Dwarfed by Bleys, the half-elf had very pale skin with mottled spots of blue-green on his neck. His green hair had yellow highlights, and was very long and worn in one thick braid. His large green eyes opened even more widely in obvious joy at having company. He wore pinkish-orange Academy robes.

"Master Bleys! I am surprised and pleased to have you visit again so soon!"

"Oroleniel, good morn. I had nothing further to attend to until the formal dinner this evening. Not being particularly comfortable imposing upon the hospitality of House Swann, I figured that you might not mind if I found refuge here for a spell. I hope you don't mind but I've brought along a companion of the Charter: Laarus of Ra,” Bleys said, more verbose than Laarus had ever witnessed. “Laarus, this is Oroleniel the Salmon, Watch-Mage of the Academy. He graduated a few years before me."

Laarus nodded and extended his hand to Oroleniel, "It's a pleasure to meet you."

Oroleniel gestured for the two of them to enter the well-appointed cottage. "I was about to make some tea. Would you like some?"

Inside they saw a white and gray gull hopping up and down a rafter above, squawking at them as they entered. "Oh don't mind Coleridge, he's a crotchety old bird."

The gulls squawked even more angrily as the watch-mage put a kettle on the iron stove, which he lit with a quick cantrip.

"Please. . . Please sit. . .” he told them gesturing emphatically when Laarus hesitated for the host to take a seat as well. “Don’t wait for me, I need to see to the tea, and plus I picked up some wonderful sweetbread in the market this morning. . .Let me cut us a few slices. . . Now was there something specific you wanted to consult about?"

"No, nothing specific, really. I hope we are not imposing. Though perhaps you could tell of this drug called shannis?" Bleys sat in one of three large stuffed chairs that surrounded a low table.

The half-elf busily prepared a tray as he talked. "Shannis? I am curious why you ask of it. I know something of it. . . It is sometimes called 'Soldier's Boon' or even 'Soldier's Bane'. . . Rare and expensive, it has a numbing effect that is not dangerous in small doses. . . or so I have been led to believe. . ."

He set the tray down on the low table and asked Laarus how he'd like his tea. He remembered precisely how Bleys likes it (lemon, no honey) from the night before. The priest of Ra replied, sitting upright and folding his arms across his lap.

“Is this the same variety of tea as you served last night?” Bleys the Aubergine asked politely.

"Yes, this is pinesmoke black tea, grown on Black Thread Island. . .Delicious!" Oroleniel smiled and patted his stomach.

"We've heard of individuals who are transporting this shannis for sale. Its trade does not seem to be viewed favorably. Though, I don't know its legality," Laarus commented.

Bleys drank deeply from the cup of hot tea, "Mmmm, pinesmoke... Do you know how the shannis is made?"

Oroleniel handed Laarus his tea and sat across from them with his own cup. The gull hopped from the rafter to the windowsill and then to the back of the watch-mage's chair.

"I am not sure how it is made,” the half-elf replied. “Except that it uses the pollen of some dangerous marsh plant and some kind of mushroom - but the process is a mystery to me. I understand it is inhaled through the nostrils."

After a few more sips of tea and a bite of sweetbread, their host continued, "As for the legality, I am surprised a priest of Ra would not be versed in such things. . . I do not think it is illegal to own it or use it yourself, but if a local watch-mage or magistrate wanted to declare it a poison, then its sale and transport in quantity would be illegal, and also any bulk amount of a crafted product, poison or not, falls under the need of peddler's license. . ..Could you share with me what this is about? Is the sale and transport of shannis what brings you to New Harbinger?"

Laarus carefully squeezed a bit of lemon into his tea, placing the rind back on the saucer. He took a slow sip, savoring the flavor. He permitted himself another sip before responding to the Oroleniel's comment. "Contraband isn't my area of expertise," he informed with a stern tone. "That is not what brings us to New Harbinger. We'd already planned on stopping here on the way to our next destination."

"I meant no disrespect, good sir. . ." Oroleniel said, a smile never leaving his lips. "I spoke out of turn, what do I know of what is taught to young priests of Ra? I spent some months in Herman Land after my graduation and before my appointment here, and there, as you know, the church of Ra is involved in every aspect of law and the judiciary. . " He stood and offers refills.

Bleys leaned back in his chair as if to study the structural integrity of the rafters for a time before speaking. "We only happened upon our limited exposure of the shannis on our journey here, but it is not the purpose of our sojourn. There is a tribe of lizardfolk whom we know have harvested the plant pollen necessary for its creation. Specifically, I was more curious to learn what you may know about the mushrooms, or a man in the bog who sings to them?" (1) At this last sentence, Bleys leaned in a bit scrutinizing Oroleniel's face for any immediate reaction.

"A man who sings to mushrooms? Ha!" Oroleniel laughed. "I have heard of no such man, though admittedly I know next to nothing about what folks call the Crossroads Bog. . . it being relatively small and all. . ."

Bleys was unamused by the half-elf's attitude. "Well, I guess there is no accounting for local legend. My mistake…" He grew quiet, enjoying another cup of the pinesmoke black tea.

Orolieniel refused to let Bleys recede, "But why ‘a mistake’? As I said, I know next to nothing of this bog - so I cannot clarify the matter for you. . . but perhaps if you explain how you think this man is connected to the shannis trade I might at least give you a different perspective on the puzzle pieces you do have. . . You will have to excuse my ignorance, but my expertise lies in the Great Wanderings of the elves and the conflicts of migrating and neighboring cultures. . ."

"Well, I only mean that I was simply mistaken to ask you. You obviously know nothing of what I was asking is all. As I already said, mushroom spores are required to make this Shannis. I was merely inquiring, thinking perhaps this 'legendary' man may know more about them,” Bleys replied flatly. "But if the shannis is not illegal, then my inquiries are unnecessary...." Bleys again found refuge in his cup.

Oroleniel the Salmon smiled and gave a forced laugh as if Bleys made a joke. "If only legal and political matters were so black and white!"

With an arcane word from their watch-mage host, an invisible figure began to clear the dishes. Coleridge the gull leapt up onto the half-elf's shoulder and was fed some bits of sweetbread. "So, what is happening with the Shannis? Is there a local problem with it I should know about?"

"Well that depends… Is the shannis a problem? I must assume that its use is new in the area. Do you know what its effects are? Perhaps you could enlighten us, as I myself am unaware of how it works." Bleys plucked his cup from thin air, before it could escape him, not wanting to waste the final sip of the flavorful tea from the overeager unseen servant. Oroleniel commanded it to put the cups and saucers back.

"Aside from some specific locals who became addicted, I would not say there have been any broader problems that have come to my attention regarding it." Oroleniel the Salmon got up and put on more water to boil. "As for the effects, it has a numbing effect with an associated euphoria that varies based on the strength of the dose. It also can have the side effect of rash or spontaneous actions. It is as if it can drain the very wisdom from a man. . . Overdose and withdrawal both cause wild emotional fluctuations, from what I understand - and a more severe clouding of wisdom."

"Then its use must certainly be new in the region, for the growth of something so potentially harmful to the mass populace should certainly be addressed. It is like a plague, for which the only cure is abstinence. People willingly wasting their hard-earned coin on a drug that robs them of their wits? Certainly if they are not savvy enough to protect themselves, it is our duty to do so. What are you and House Swann doing to wrest its deathgrip from the people? Perhaps we can be of some assistance?" A tinge of eagerness actually entered Bleys’ usual placid voice, as if ready to charge forth from the hut to see to the task immediately.

Oroleniel looked surprised. "You have not told me anything of what you know to lead to that conclusion. I just said there have been some isolated cases. . .. But, I think its addiction is only a problem to those who use it for a long time. Its numbing qualities can still be very useful to those who suffer from debilitating chronic illnesses that cause pain. . . So, to answer your question more directly, nothing is being done."

Bleys looked to Laarus, staring hard at him. Though he might have simply been looking through him, as he turned thoughts over in his head. Finally, he exhaled heavily. "Very well, since you are obviously confused and eager for more information, allow me to disseminate. But first, let me urge you, this is in confidence and know I give you this as a fellow Watch-Mage, believing the greater good is served by my doing so."

Ever-insightful, and sensing that Bleys was about to tell the details of Sir Quintus Gosprey’s shame, Laarus stood up, attempting to draw attention towards himself. "You've spoken much already," the priest said, looking at his wizardly companion, "Enjoy your tea. Give me the honor to share our knowledge about this shannis." Laarus gazed at Bleys for a moment, ensuring the purple-cloaked watch-mage was amenable to this arrangement.

Laarus went on to explain about Sir Quintus and his men, the brigands/smugglers, how Sir Quintus worked alongside the lizardfolk to get the components of shannis and provide it to the brigands/smugglers, in hopes of uncovering the criminal elements behind the drug ring. He mentioned the names Sir Quintus supplied them with (MacHaven and Connduel), in hopes they might be familiar to Oroleniel. The priest paced a small area of the room while he spoke, looking towards the floor at times, and others at Orolenial. He left out Sir Quintus' addiction and the deal with the lizardmen to speak with young lord Swann. He did briefly mention, however, that the lizardfolk had helped Sir Quintus in hopes of building some form of alliance with House Swann.

"So, you see,” Laarus concluded. “Though they've not seen fit to get it legally ruled a poison, House Swann does seem concerned with stopping those transporting and selling it."

There was a long quiet moment before Oroleniel said, "Sir Quintus? Is he not Sir Quorland of Gullmoor's son? He earned his knighthood at the Battle of the Burning Rift by leaping over a wall of flame to kill the opposing force's priestly leader. It is said he suffered some terrible wounds in the process. . ." The watch-mage was quiet for a long time again, considering the tale he had been told, before speaking again. "Do you know if Lord Gosprey of Gullmoor has sought the aid of Lord Swann? Or is it perhaps a more localized issue? I would take your recruitment to their aid to mean that he has not. . However, this is not a surprise to me considering the delicate political situation in House Swann right now. . ."

"I do not know of such aid being sought, and I do not feel our recruitment sheds any light on it. It was Sir Quintus' supposed disappearance we were asked to look into. Though, I sensed his men didn't know how involved he was in the plan to capture these shannis smugglers," Laarus of Ra replied. "Our talk now is of our own choice. We've not been asked for any other aid by Sir Quintus or House Swann in the matter."

"And yet you continue to look into the matter, so you must feel there is more to it, or that it goes deeper and poses some danger. . . I have not heard of this MacHaven or the other name. . . But there are many that smuggle goods from the Glogrichio and beyond. . . Cwell the Hawk would be the one to ask." Oroleniel the Salmon looked to Bleys as he said the name of the watch-mage of Tribunisport. "As for the lizardfolk's desires… Well, it is not that I know of anything specific about Lord Swann’s feelings about the lizard people, but the fact that his most favored knight is sometimes called 'the Lizardbane' may reveal something about that house's attitude in general. . . "

“I can only hope that the new Lord Swann's eagerness of youth does not cloud his judgment from making a decision that is best for his people," Bleys said, standing. "Perhaps there are more than a few answers in Tribunisport." Almost absentmindedly, he broke the remaining pieces of his sweetbread into small bits and threw them down to Coleridge, who was looking for crumbs and squawking occasionally.

"I am curious, have you any theories about Barakis the Bold's untimely demise?" Bleys changed the subject as he sat back down.

Oroleniel the Salmon let out a long low breath and then stood. Coleridge hopped down onto the watch-mage's shoulder, as the latter walked over to the window. Oroleniel took the bird from his shoulder and held him up and out towards the window, standing near motionless for a full minute, before the familiar flew off.

"The only people who really know aren't talking, and it really is not my place to ask, unless I happen upon more information that can lead in some direction or another…” Oroleniel the Salmon finally replied, as he turned around. “My own limited inquires have been exhausted…"

"Is that all?” Laarus asked with sudden intensity. “I feel you might know more. If you'd share, I'm sure the weight you're feeling would be lessened." (2)

"Weight? Feeling? Whatever do you mean?"

Laarus stood and placed his cup down on its saucer. He looked towards Bleys. "Leave me with Orolenial for a moment."

"Hmmm....." Bleys looked to Oroleniel for a response. "You have me at a disadvantage… Did I miss something?"

"I must have missed it as well," Oroleniel replied, frowning and then looking to Laarus. "I am at a loss for what you are implying. . ."

Laarus walked over to the window where Orolenial was standing, putting his back to Bleys. He clasped his hands in front of him and fixed his eyes on the half-elf's. "There is more you aren't saying. I see it bothers you. You're nervous about sharing with Bleys. So, speak to me," he said quietly. Being closer the half-elf's height, Laarus bowed his head slightly and turned his ear to the watch-mage, giving him the opportunity to speak more privately.

Oroleniel the Salmon stepped away from Laarus as if startled. He sighed and his shoulders sagged. "I mean no disrespect, but there is no way I can express what are unsubstantiated opinions without giving insult. . . It is not that I am trying to be unhelpful. . ."

"This that weighs on your heart appears too heavy to be unsubstantiated opinions. I feel you yet have more you can say,” Laarus insisted. “More that can lead to the truth and bring justice to the guilty. You are not disrespecting me. Your silence insults your late fellow watch-mage."

Laarus maintained eye contact for a long moment, and then turns and walked back to his seat, making eye contact with Bleys along the way and giving him a short nod.

"It is not you I would insult. . ." Oroleniel said with a sigh. "As I have said before those who know are not talking, so who am I who was not there, and not having any special knowledge or evidence to speak against someone else? Down that path lies rumor and injustice, and I will not be origin, or part of, that. . ."

"Very well, I respect your position. Perhaps we have imposed too long," Bleys stood and made for the door. Turning with raised eyebrow, he added: "But one last thing, can you tell us who it is that you think knows?"

"Ask your former master…" The half-elf said, looking down. He took a deep breath and then his demeanor became gregarious again as he showed them to the door. "But if there is anything else I can help you with you while you are here, let me know. This last exchange has soured your visit some, which is the last thing I desired. . . and so, would like a chance to make it up to you. . ."

Laarus shook the watch-mage's hand, "You've been most hospitable. May Ra's light shine on you and light you the way."

"We are not soured, Oroleniel the Salmon. We are only seeking answers. It is commendable that you wish not to sully the reputations of others by propagating half-truths, speculations, and rumors. We will speak again, I hope sooner rather than later. I should enjoy some more of that pinesmoke," Bleys shook his fellow watch-mage’s hand and turned to walk away with the priest without a backward glance.

As the Bleys the Aubergine and Laarus of Ra strolled back, the priest seemed lost in thought, and no words passed between then until they had nearly reached the citadel.

"Who is your former master?" Laarus asked.

Bleys kept a steady pace, without breaking stride, he replied flatly, "Sir Abberd the Argent, of House Schemerhorn. Uncle to the Margrave,” Bleys said, not looking at his companion, or slowing his pace. “I resided in the Golden Tower of the West for nearly three years before entering the Academy of Wizardry. In Sluetelot, Darbold told me it was Sir Abberd who had been sent to investigate the matter of Barakis' death. I saw no further need for inquiry."

"You saw need to inquire of Orolenial. Something still bothers you about the matter?" Laarus asked.

"Well, it is a mystery. I was merely inquisitive is all… I thought perhaps if some knowledge was to be shared a fellow watch-mage would have more than that slovenly backwater bard,” (3) Bleys allowed himself a rare sigh. “Apparently I was wrong. If there have been answers found they must not have been made public to the rest of we alumni."

There was another long silence before the watch-mage continued. "And I wish you had not brow-beaten Oroleniel, I fear it reflects poorly on me. We were guests in his home. He is lonely is all, and eager for company, otherwise I'm sure we may have both received a tongue-lashing from a graduate more senior. Cwell the Carmine, for example."

"His lies reflect poorly on him. He knows something more than his personal opinion. Your broaching the subject made him very nervous. Why would he feel that, if he knows nothing? He was hiding something,” Laarus insisted. His brow furrowed as continued. "I'm beginning to sense the truth is not wanted to be found. Tell me, do you know what Barakis had accomplished while serving as watch-mage, or what he hoped to?"

"Again you have me at the disadvantage. Either you have had a revelation from Ra or you are vastly superior to myself when it comes to reading the subtle nuances of body language and tone of voice. I wondered how it is you knew he was lying, but I do not doubt your divinations. I agree the truth must be serving some other purpose, perhaps protecting someone or something. An agenda?" Bleys paused, while musing, before continuing. He stopped walking. "I suspect Oroleniel was nervous that we, an Academy Mage and a Priest of Ra showed up at his door making inquiries. He may have suspected that we had indeed suspected him of some involvement. But, I do not think he is the type to harbor secrets."

The taller man resumed the pace back toward the Citadel, "As to Barakis, he was, as you may have gathered, best known for his carousing, drinking, brawling. He had no real enemies or agenda of his own that I know of… Perhaps he was merely a target of circumstance or an unwitting pawn in someone's game. As of now, I am content to keep my ears open, as it is not my place to make any official inquiries, especially at the risk of offending my mentor. I'm sure you understand."

Laarus nodded. "I understand the delicacy of politics. I understand when I can speak freely and when I must hold my tongue. It may not be your place to make inquiries but as a shining servant of Ra, it is my place to seek the truth, ensure His laws are upheld, and mete out His justice. My gut makes me feel there's something else."

"I guess mine does too then, eh?” Bleys frowned. “Why else would I still be asking about it?" Bleys receded into his thoughts as the duo reached the Citadel.

Laarus' lips stretched into a brief smile at Bleys' comment, but the walk concluded in silence, the watch-mage considering another visit to his fellow alumnus later in the afternoon. Alone.

End of InterSession #4.2

(1) Tavius made an off-hand remark regarding the hermit that sings to mushrooms in Session #3.

(2) Laarus of Ra made a sense motive check to determine that Oroleniel the Salmon seemed to be holding something back in Bleys’ presence.

(3) This is a reference to Darbold the Gay.
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InterSession 4.3 – “Just Business…”

That afternoon Amalda met Telémahkos with a chaste kiss and a wink in the upper hall of the Sign of the Green Gem. "Master Lowe knows you are coming and is eager to meet you. He is inside with his middle son, Plavus who shares his business savvy. His other two sons and his daughter are about somewhere well."

She knocked softly on a room door and let herself in. After a few words that came through the closed door as a murmur, she opened it again and called Telie into the suite.

Cornwallis Lowe appeared to be nearing his fifties, but in good health. He wore a red and green kilt and a long lighter green-colored shirt tied in an elaborate knot with the edge of the kilt and tied again with gold tasseled silken rope. His long brown hair was whitening, but not thinning, and he had alert light brown eyes and a paternal smile.

"Master Briareus! It is a pleasure to meet you!" The merchant stretched out to take Telémahkos’ hands and shake them firmly. "This is my son Plavus." Standing next to him was a squatter and darker version of Cornwallis. The son, likely in his late twenties, smiled nervously and nodded.

Amalda lets herself out with a quiet and respectful, ‘good-bye’.

"The pleasure is mine," Telémahkos replied with a hearty handshake. He made a respectful gesture to the son. "Plavus."

Cornwallis Lowe gestured for Telie to sit in a low stuffed chair across a low table from two chairs that had been pulled up for the merchant and his son. He poured the young Briareus some wine and then a glass for himself. Telémahkos smiled and noted the quality of the surroundings. This was clearly the most expensive set of rooms in the place, and many personal items had been brought in to make it more comfortable. Over Lowe’s shoulder to the right was a curtained doorway to an adjoining room.

“This is beautiful land around here,” Telémahkos said taking the glass and trying to think of a pleasant and innocuous way to start the conversation.

"Aye, it certainly is beautiful, but I prefer the amber plains of Schiereiland myself. I worked a trade route from Heartspire to Hillsgate for over ten years, and I still dream of that place…” Lowe was wistful. “One day soon I hope to have the coin to purchase some land and build a more permanent legacy for my family…" He raised his glass and his son followed suit, "But enough about me, let us toast to you and your braves companions that I have been hearing about. . . Well, the word is you have only just gotten started, but if the nobles I have known are anything to go by, I am sure you already have several irons in the fire all of which require discretion."

Cornwallis Lowe smiled and raised his glass even higher, "To House Briareus and the Charter of Schiereiland!"

"Here, here!" Plavus added weakly. The younger man's smile reminded Telémahkos of a face someone would make when straining on a chamber pot.

"Here here!" Telie echoed and took a sip of the wine. It was strong and sweet, just how he liked it.

"House Briareus has a long mercantile tradition. I can honestly say trade has been our lifeblood," Telémahkos said. “I think my goals fall somewhere in the realm of that tradition…”

"And what are our children and their children if not a means of extending that lifeblood and tradition beyond our own allotted time?" Cornwallis said, getting very serious and reaching over to clasp Plavus' shoulder paternally. "A father must ever seek to expand his wealth and resources so that his progeny might have an even better life…" He took a sip of wine.

"If you know of my own father's path then you know my family believes deeply in that same value," Telie replied with feigned emotion. Sometimes he amazed even himself with just how easily he could turn it on and off.

"I know of your honorable father, and his sharp and uncompromising mind when it comes to business. He is no doubt a great man. . But he is established and rich. . . It is with the younger generation and how they surpass their fathers that I am concerned with, and that is why I was so happy to hear of you and your group," Lowe paused and took another deep sip and then refilled his cup. He gestured as if asking if Telie would like a refill. And Telie nodded. "Are the rumors I hear of your plans to enter the Disputed Territories

"It appears that sometime soon we will be heading there. I hear there may even be land suitable for the nobility of Thricia to cultivate. There might be some money to be made for a trader down there if a town or keep of some sort is established or re-secured."

"The apple does not fall far from the tree it seems," Cornwallis said with a wink. "For it was something along those lines that I wanted to talk with you about… That is, when the disputed territories are open up the way the western frontier has been, and when a declaration of homesteading is made, it will be those who are prepared to seek out and hold lands that will succeed the most; those ready to set up routes by which needed goods can be sent to and brought from there." He stopped and took another sip. "And those who know of lands… who might have access to maps or detailed directions to fertile and safer places to go along with that preparation, they will be in the best position…And the wealth that will come from being in that kind of position will purchase a form of independence and influence that I feel is harder and harder for the younger noble generations to attain…"

"It certainly is,” Telémahkos smiled realizing that they were closing in on the heart of the matter. “It would seem that those who can supply information and logistics will be seeking those with the standing and resources to settle these areas. I suppose some might already be making arrangements to assure themselves such a position early in the game. I am sure there will still be a price to pay to gain this advantage on the competition, but I am certain it will be worth every silver piece." He drained his glass and accepted another. "Now that I am aware of these opportunities, I am very interested in expanding my family’s holdings, status and fortunes simply because I know it is going to help my beloved kingdom and better yet, will relieve my
father of his worries about my future. The problem I face right now is a lack of financial stability within the charter..."

"Yes, coin is certainly an issue…" Cornwallis raised the bottle to pour more and seeing it is empty, put it back down a little too hard. "And if we can come to an agreement, I would certainly invest some to help in your endeavors. . ." He clapped his hands loudly and called out, "Ida! Attend to me!"

The curtain to cordoned off section of the suite was pulled aside, and for a second Telémahkos could see another man standing back there, but the man was easily forgotten when Ida came walking through.

She was a lithe girl of about fifteen summers - petite, with long golden brown hair, and a soft radiant beauty like a romantic painting. She wore a flower patterned silken dress that Telie reckoned cost more than everything he wore. Ida was demure and graceful, gliding over with a freshly uncorked bottle of wine in her hands. Telie could see the label facing him, "Pyla Reserve". She had soft brown eyes, and each of the handful of freckles on her nose were like a mote of stardust…

"My daughter… Ida…" Cornwallis said, standing. Plavus stood as well, but Telémahkos was already on his feet, bowing.

She curtsied. "How do you do, sir. . .?" she asked in perfect practiced diction. Ida filled Telie’s glass and then her father's.

"Where was I?" Cornwallis asked rhetorically. "Oh yes. . . Investment. I also wanted you to understand that I there are some business relationships that coin alone cannot arrange. . ."

Ida blushed, and her air of innocence redoubled as she stood there awkwardly, before remembering to pour some wine for her brother.

Telémahkos was quiet just a little too long before saying, "Yes, of course, more than coin alone..." Telie nodded distractedly as he made a mighty attempt not to look upon the daughter for overly long.

"As I said," Cornwallis continued, putting an arm lovingly around his daughter's shoulder as he gave her a kiss and shooed her off. "I am most concerned with the generations that come after me and that their lives
and that of their children will be in a better place than I am now. . ." Lowe smiled broadly. “And to that end I am willing to invest not only coin in your efforts to aid our business arrangement, but invest my children in this endeavor as a means of investing in their future…If you get my meaning… And it is for this reason that as part of our understanding, I would like for you take one of my other sons with you to the Disputed Territories. He is trained in martial skills, but just as importantly he is a gifted surveyor, knows his letters and speaks four languages. . ."

"This is an interesting development. You do understand that the charter lists in excruciating detail how any riches we discover are split, yes?" Telie mulled the idea in his head. "Your son's role would be to help with
cartography and dealing with local populations? We certainly see ourselves as liberators and heroes rather than merely on a quest for land. That being said, many of us do also wish to honor our Houses as best we can."

Telie sipped his wine and took another long look about the room. "So, where is this son? And can you tell me where he may have learned his craft?"

"Like Plavus here, my son Tymon learned a great deal on the road with me, bringing goods up and down the coast to and from Schiereiland to New Harbinger and back - but recently he just completed a series of courses at the University of Thricia. . . He is actually at the port right now with some of my employees securing some shipments of spices to be brought north, but I can arrange for you to meet him later tonight or sometime tomorrow. Actually, you may have seen him in the common room last night, he is taller and broader than me, and, but darker. . .taking after his mother in that regard, like Plavus here. . ."

The merchant continued: "As for the split, I willing to pay for his travel and needed gear for the journey, so that is not an issue - and as for any recovered treasures, we are more than willing to leave it to a handshake agreeing that you can give him whatever you consider fair for his help - whether that be from your own share, or from some agreement made among your companions… On a case by case basis, of course."

"What sort of martial training does your son have? I am certain that the biggest qualm my companions will have is not wanting to responsible for bringing a merchant to his death."

"My son was trained by the former head of my company's caravan guard. He has been involved in more than one battle involving bandits, and once against a treacherous kobold ambush…" Cornwallis poured even more wine for the both them, smiling proudly at the recollection of his son’s heroics, and ignoring Plavus who seemed to be nursing his wine. "But I was speaking of your companions…Before we make a final agreement, I was curious… How well do you get-on with Mistress Ostrander?"

"She and I get along fine. I am not certain of her inner thoughts of course since she is a woman…” All three of them burst out into self-satisfactory man-laughter, and then Telie continued, “But then again, she is an Ostrander and I do not expect any of that House to look very kindly upon House Briareus. That being said, I think she is much more concerned with Anhur and honor to worry much about politics. Why do you ask?"

"I was wondering if you knew if she was close to her uncle, High Inquisitor Estatius Ostrander, of the Margrave's court. . ."

"No idea… But I could always ask her,” Telémahkos replied dismissively. “But regarding coin, I was thinking that two hundred and fifty silver pieces might be a reasonable number to acquire my support in this situation. The coin would allow the charter to not worry about immediate needs and rather concentrate on the correct next step. If we were to gain land in the Disputed Territories, your company would be among
the most advantaged merchants we work with. I would love to offer you exclusive access but I am certain my father would not be happy with that. Also I can assure you that your son would be more than fairly compensated in return for this generosity on your part."

Telie finished his fourth glass of wine.

"Well, if those lands are made available in the same form as that in the western frontier was given, that is, first come first serve with the condition of there being evidence that the land is being worked and remains productive - then those who are prepared will arrive first. . . It would not be a matter exclusivity… So do not worry yourself on that point…" Cornwallis Lowe looked to his son and nodded, and Plavus got up and went to the back room.

"It is commonly known secret. . ." Lowe winked when he said this. "That Esatitius Ostrander is one of heads of the pro-expansionist movement, but he is also kind of an outsider in his family, and since he and Sir Lionel Ostrander, Victoria's father, are the only children of the same mother in that particular branch of Ostranders - I thought perhaps there might be a little of that outsider status for her as well… And so she might stand with her uncle on the issue. . . And if so, this might help you in your own endeavors… Or should I say, our endeavors now that we will be working towards a common goal."

Telémahkos mulled this over, but did not respond to it, his mind still on Ida.

"When we are done, I request the honor of bidding your daughter farewell, and if my companions and I decide to stay in the town another day, I would like to have tea with your beautiful daughter with a chaperone of your choice of course,” Telémahkos said as respectfully as he could, trying to hide his nervous excitement.

But it was as if the merchant could read Telie mind, for he stood when Plavus came back into the room followed by Ida.

"Ida, come and bid this fine young man farewell. . " Her father said to her.

Blushing as she glided towards Telie, she immediately looked down when their eyes met. "It was my pleasure, sir. . ." She said as she daintily offered her hand and curtsied.

"Nay, m'lady, tis all mine, as Bast herself has blessed my eyes this day..." Gently and slowly he bowed low gave her the lightest kiss on her hand.

"I do. . . um I do hope that we get to meet again soon," Ida bated her eyelashes and looked down again and then turned to leave. As she got to the curtained doorway to the adjoining room she looked back at him, and seeing he was still looking let out a little yelp and hopped behind the curtain.

It is then that Telémahkos noticed Plavus was sitting and writing at a desk against the wall. Cornwallis led him over. On the desk were two piled stacks of ten Thrician gold pieces each and five stacks of ten Thrician silver pieces each.

"If you will sign here," Plavus said handing Telémahkos a quill.

"Stand up you idiot! Let him sit!" Cornwallis Lowe smacked his son in the back of the head, and Plavus leapt off the chair to allow Telie to sit.

The paper was two copies of a simple receipt acknowledging Telémahkos’ acceptance of two hundred and fifty silver pieces from Mister Cornwallis Lowe in return for "future special considerations".

Telie took the quill and sitting, took a deep breath and signed his name twice. "I may need to be circumspect when I explain to my companions where this coin has come from. They are very suspicious...." He said as he put the quill down.

"You know best your own business," Cornwallis said with a smile, risking the familiarity of a pat on the shoulder.

"And I need to emphasize the danger you are sending your son into,” Telémahkos said, turning in the chair to face the merchant. “We have already traveled into a deadly bog in the middle of the night and done battle with vicious lizardfolk. This is no caravan. My companions are looking for trouble so they can right wrongs... I am happy to have your son along but he will need to join us as my hireling. You and he will be relying on my own honor and generosity until he proves himself to the rest of the company."

Telie got up and Cornwallis Lowe walked him to the door. "My son is not only aware of the danger, he is eager for the adventure. He has sharp eyes and a sharp wit and will only be an asset. When and where shall I have Tymon seek you out? Or should I simply send him to your steward for the arrangements of travel?"

Arrangements were made for Tymon to meet with Euleria that evening, so that she may question him a bit and make arrangements for him to meet the rest of the group the next day.

"I do look forward to forging a lasting alliance between my House and your family, if Bes and the other gods see fit for this to happen."

Telémahkos headed back to the citadel to get ready for dinner.

End of InterSession #4.3
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All I know is that I hope that Telie knows how or can learn how to juggle real fast! He has a few balls in the air at the moment and his footing isn't as even with the group as one might like. I really do like how he goes for it with those around him and deals with the people that approach him.

He's swiftly becoming my favorite. Say what you like about him but you gotta admit, the boy's got STYLE and that's a facet of a very interesting character.

Kudos, Telie!

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