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Old Kentucky Shark
May 25, 2012

If you think you're gonna get sympathy from the shark, well then, you won't.


Haunted Zevra


Avra, -- Zevra's mother-- croons gently as the priestess holds out the book. She traces a ghostly finger over each page, memorizing the sigils of the rituals. Sighing, Zevra comes over and holds it open for her, flipping pages when her mother reads to the end of a section.

"Not only have we never heard of Hi’ilei, even the dead I've spoken to have forgotten her name." She broods on this for a moment. "Although... do you have any maps? Of what the world used to look like?"

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Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.




Iole's mouth gapes after Sathain shares the frightful images in her mind. "I...I can't believe it. It's true? Nobody was able to hear the gods speak again? Not a one..." she trails off. "Please do not apologize. This simply reaffirms my desire to help you."

Iole is clearly still somewhat shaken but is quiet for a moment as she ponders Zevra's question. "Regrettably, I am not certain if we retained maps of the world below, since we in this temple primarily kept to ourselves. Even before my death, it had been years since I had traveled far off this mountain. The hills were rolling and green - sometimes up here we would get mist and fog rolling into the valley below. The travelers that came here would tell us that the temple and the little village below were the first signs of life they had seen in days."

She picks up a stray piece of paper flung to the ground during the battle and places it flat on her palm. She waves her hand over it and a shimmering image appears on it. "This would be how I remember the view looking down the mountain. It is...quite different."

Wol
Dec 15, 2012

See you in the
UNDERDARK




Shaiha maneuvers herself around Sathain to peek at Iole’s image. While she is familiar with the concept of a verdant plain, an expanse of green so vast that it meets the horizon, it’s quite another to see it. Even as a pale reflection of the real thing, the image fills her heart. “It’s beautiful.” She takes a moment to appreciate the scene. Even in her gladness, however, her mind races with questions. What does Daclamitus intend with tge orb? What are they actually supposed to do to bring green back to the world? Is Iole even genuine? She hates that the last question even comes to her, that the harsh world of Athas has acclimated her to ask it of everyone she meets. She opts to hold these questions on the back of her tongue. Instead, she says, “We’re honoured to have your help, Iole. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from us - nobody seems to know much about these places of power anymore, us included. I’m sure we’re arrogant for even trying, but the need is too great to pass on.” Shaiha gives a little shrug and a smile, though she hopes the sincerity in her voice will come across. She means what she’s saying - while still not completely sure their goal is even possible, even attempting it means more to her than anything.

Old Kentucky Shark
May 25, 2012

If you think you're gonna get sympathy from the shark, well then, you won't.


Haunted Zevra


Zevra gasps. It's one thing to hear second-hand rumors from the long-ago dead, and it's another to be shown a vision, in full color. She reaches out to touch the water-filled valley, and her hand passes directly through it with a ripple.

Zevra's mother, Avra, neglects her readings to wander over. She stares at the illusion for a long time. "For this, I stayed behind. I knew, deep in my bones, that my worthless daughter had a destiny ahead of her. Despite her uncountable shortcomings, she will help you bring this vision to life. I swear it, just as I once swore vengeance, on her behalf."

"Thanks, mom," Zevra deadpans.

LogicNinja
Jan 21, 2011

...the blur blurs blurringly across the blurred blur in a blur of blurring blurriness that blurred...


Unlike the rest, Sathain looks all the more heartbroken to see that vision. It hits too close to home. "It's like the Land Within the Wind. But... everywhere," he murmurs. More parallels than one, there: like the Land Within the Wind, it's just an image, a mirage.

"You said you felt your... Hi'ilei... stirring. Are you sure? She's not... dead, or fled beyond the world? If you can feel her, where is she?"

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.




Iole furrows her brow. “Where she is is…quite the question. When you roused the sphere, I only briefly felt her stir. It was such an unfamiliar sensation that I could hardly be sure it was real. Just from that brief moment, I cannot determine her location. Perhaps my abilities have weakened over time.”

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.


Iole’s ghostly image fades a little, glowing less luminously. Her voice is much softer as she speaks. “I fear that I...lack the vigor I once had. Speaking with mortals for so long has drained my energy. I must bid farewell until we speak again. The remaining guards in this temple shall have no quarrel with you, and you shall be able to return to the outside undisturbed.” She smiles softly at the party. “For the first time in countless years, I feel there is some hope.” She returns to the shrine, where her skeleton lies, and fades away.


The return to the outside is uneventful. Somehow, after making Iole’s acquaintance, the very air in the temple seems to be lighter. Athas’ oppressive heat is unable to penetrate the temple walls. Through the doorways comes an occasional cool, refreshing breeze. Bevus is pacing outside of the temple doors, muttering incoherently. The sun has nearly set, conveying just how long the party has been gone. He beams upon seeing the party.



“At last! I worried you had been lost to the ruins! I was beginning to wonder how to explain it all to Daclamitus too. What did you see? What lies beyond that door?” He barrages the party with questions, but at one moment catches himself. “It grows late. I should return you to Cromlin. We must talk on our journey!” The Bevus before the party is a far different man than their previous acquaintance - he is a talkative man, almost cheerful by Athasian standards, and curious.


He returns the party to the outer edge of Cromlin, where a camp has been set up. A fire has been started with food cooking over the flames, lovingly tended to by Daclamitus with Bevus joining him to assist. An unknown figure looms nearby. He smiles warmly, in a grandfatherly way, at the party.



“Welcome back. I am sure you had quite an adventure, yes? Iole certainly is a spitfire, but she is a dear soul. Speaking of dear souls, I have located one more unique person who will be of great help to you.” He gestures towards the figure, “this is Kalakote. Perhaps after we speak, you should take some time to rest and get acquainted, yes?”

Daclamitus turns from tending the fire and the food and looks to the party. “Your journey into the ruins was successful, but that is only the beginning of our work. There is much more to be done from here. I would suggest looking towards the Silt Sea, beginning in Balic to speak to my contact there. Or, you may wish to speak to the Druids of the Crescent Forest.”

Take a long rest and level up to 12! Everyone gets one free level 12 item of any rarity from the temple stores

Doomykins
Jun 28, 2008

Didn't you mean to ask about flowers?



Kalakote PDF

A large figure clad in chitinous armor silently watches the group arrive, committing himself to passing wood and tinder into the flames, patiently tending the fire as though a servant to the other men. Once introductions are made he comes to attention and looks down each of the party, idly wondering if Daclamitus had organized a team of scholars first. Mentalists and Elves? They were small. Half-giants clear seven feet easily and Kalakote's shaped plate boosts him further to nearly eight feet in height, the natural spires of the centipede extending further as wicked horns. The natural colors of the insect have been worn down by hand and replaced with paints to match the desert colors of a large cloak. Cracks and hollow spots show in small stretches of the shoulder and chest, outlined by light blue paint. He removes a wrapped great sword from his back and sets it aside to lean against the camp's tent. His helmet follows, set beside the blade, then his largest traveling pack. He fetches something wrapped against the elements and straightens up, giving everybody a fresh look over once again. An old wound mars his right eye but it moves in sync with the left and he chuckles, taking everything in.



"Warriors, let me add to your revelry. This is a reminder of the home I leave behind to help the Honored Sage." He draws the leather wrap from around the bundled goods and shows off a bundle of dried and smoked bird meat, the heavy smell of salts and hot spice released into the air. "I am Kalakote, the Eater of Revenants. Your work is of a noble sort. If Master Daclamitus is right, then Athas is not in a decay. It has died and we shall see it reborn, honoring the efforts of this era. I would serve you as blade and vanguard to see that joyously done." He speaks seriously yet never seems somber, instead sweeping his free hand to his chest and bowing at the waist, still holding the gift up with one hand to be accepted.

Wol
Dec 15, 2012

See you in the
UNDERDARK




Throughout the journey back to Daclamitus's place, Shaiha busies herself with research and practicing some different magic from her usual, poring over notes she's copied down from various ancient texts and temple carvings over her last few adventures. The group is forced to get accustomed to various half-formed magical phenomena as they're eating their nightly rations, setting in for the night, and trying to get to sleep. One night, while everyone is sitting around a small fire, "enjoying" the jerky remains of a kank Jascha had brought down a week ago, Shaiha leaps up from her seat with a shout. "Okay, everyone. I've figured out summoning magic. I can feel it. I just reach into the arcane fabric, like so..." Shaiha breathes deeply, closes her eyes, makes a subtle gesture with her left hand as if isolating a thread in a loom. "And pull it into the shape I want." With a wave of her hand, a ghostly serpent begins to form around the fire, glowing a vibrant azure blue with arcane energy. The serpent sways its head back and forth hypnotically, lingering a few seconds before leaping forth, striking a point in the sand at Shaiha's behest, and vanishing. "And the world pulls back. Infinite possibilities and no harm done."

Over the next few days, Shaiha sets to work repurposing the enchantments on three of her relics to serve as foci for summoning spells. While they no longer serve their former purpose, the arcane energy within the relics now anchors Shaiha's conjured creatures so that they may linger a while longer. Pleased with her success, Shaiha is in visibly high spirits by the time the party reunites with Daclamitus and his towering companion. "Kalakote, is it?" She beams up at the grim giant. "I am Shaiha Nilil, a doctor when I'm called on and a seeker where secrets are found. I see Daclamitus's words have stirred yet another bold heart." She sweeps an arm across her midsection as if to suggest a bow, but doesn't actually lean forward - she's short enough as it is, especially compared to this newcomer. "Speaking of which, what we've returned with is an orb. An orb that I...would like to take the time to examine now that I'm not distracted. What exactly is this orb going to do for us, Daclamitus? The actual details of this restoration are still a mystery."

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.


Kayode "Baba" Babatunde

"I am Kayode, of house Babatunde," says the old man to the newcomer, "but most people call me Baba." His journey back had been spent in solemn contemplation, meditating on what they had found in the temple. He still hadn't been sure of all the implications. Athas, a green world, once? A green world once again, if Daclamitus had his way of it. Things would change so drastically, he wondered if he could even imagine all the consequences. Still, hopefully Daclamitus was up to answering some questions. The man's knowledge of certain things was...uncanny, to say the least.

Dick Burglar
Mar 6, 2006

ROBBLE ROBBLE ROBBLE!


Jascha the Lost

The elf is silent on the journey back to Cromlin, wearing an unwelcoming frown the whole way. His expression softens when he spots Daclamitus, but immediately hardens again once he spots the newcomer.

"Welcome," the elf forces himself to say as he nods to Kalakote. He waits for all of the party to greet the new member of the group, then speaks up again.

"There is something I should tell all of you before we travel any further together--especially now that we are before Daclamitus again. I have not been entirely forthcoming with my past." He raises his left arm, which is covered in an intricate brand that covers the entirety of the arm and the back of the hand. "I was a slaver. I spent many years doing terrible things as a Gulgan headhunter, then spent several more trying to undo those things. If we can save Athas, perhaps that will be enough to atone for my past. If, however, you do not wish for me to travel with you any longer, I understand."

LogicNinja
Jan 21, 2011

...the blur blurs blurringly across the blurred blur in a blur of blurring blurriness that blurred...


Sathain

A feeling. Sathain shakes his head as Iole fades. Of course a priestess, waking from death-sleep, thinks she feels her goddess stirring. There's no way to know whether it's true. He is disinclined to believe it. But the orb... that much he believes. He can feel it, even in the extradimensional depths of his cloak.

He greets the newcomer, looking the half-giant up and down skeptically, as if wondering whether such size might not have left the man unskilled. But then, everyone else Daclamitus recruited had proved competent, even that strange gnoll. He shrugs, and introduces himself: "Sathain." He isn't wearing his human guise, so Kalakote can see him as he truly is: a mixture of elven and human, with white hair and surprisingly pale skin, like life had bleached the color out of him. Without the psionically reinforced shell of his armor, he looks slender, almost harmless. Let Kalakote underestimate him if he likes.

He claps Jaischa on the shoulder. "You're not here because of what you were. You're here because of what you are." He turns back to Daclamitus, as if the matter is closed. "Baltic first, I'd say. If we're going to get on Andropinis' bad side, we may as well do it sooner rather than later. But first: I'm with Shaiha. You knew what we'd find in the temple. You knew Iole? You know far more than you're telling us. But we've risked our lives for you, and now it's time to share. What else are we after? And what happens when we have it?"

LogicNinja fucked around with this message at May 26, 2018 around 18:53

Doomykins
Jun 28, 2008

Didn't you mean to ask about flowers?



Kalakote PDF

Kalakote straightens and helps himself to the food, as he seems to be the only one interested in it. He regards the others as introductions are shared, chuckling with a hint of mirth at the older man. "Then I shall call you Baba. Well met." The shrouded man's revelation is a bit much for casual conversation, but he finds it a good sign. "Proof of your strength. You are fine by me, branded! A few servants would make our travels easier."

Underestimating a <Walking Ghost> would be a mistake fit for a newborn. Kalakote grunts and nods in response to Sathain's curt greeting. "An honor." He manages a sincere, wry grin. Something about the smell of those places never went away. Ah, but there's one introduction that Kalakote was not expecting and he stands at attention, peering down, down, down at Shaiha. "Doctor! Blessed Mender, you must be the captain of this band. I pledge my blade to your authority!" Size difference or not, he shows only the utmost respect!

---

As grand as the Sage's plans were, it was much easier to dream of something than to take steps toward it. It is not his place to demand answers yet, but he is party to what will be revealed. "You've found a relic? You must have a tale to share. And come, Honored Sage. You've still not told me what I can do for this dreamer's task." They did have the makings of a fireside feast here, surely all would be made clear tonight.

"Cities or Trees... soft living, either way. But Baldic, that is a stench that is easy to understand. As good a start as any."

Old Kentucky Shark
May 25, 2012

If you think you're gonna get sympathy from the shark, well then, you won't.




Zevra leaves the strange temple in a contemplative silence, accompanied by a cloud of pale, half-visible flickering ghosts. Her mother, a powerful spirit in her own right, seems to have acted almost like a lodestone, drawing into herself all the fragments and tatters of the defeated raaigs and more faded ghosts. Avra seems more solid than she used to be; where once Zevra seemed to spend most of her time griping at a totally invisible interlocutor, now she addresses a hazy presence in the air for anyone to see, and her mother's words can be heard in turn.

The ghost of Dog, is, of course, still just a dog.

-----

Back at the little camp, Zevra looks up, and further up, as she's introduced to the half-giant. "Well met Kalakote, bringer of food," she says mildly. "I'm Zevra, daughter of Avra, and this," she snaps her fingers, "is Avra." The desiccated ghost appears behind her daughter. Burning corpselight in flickering empty eye sockets looks the warrior up and down. "Well at least he's not another elf," she says acidly.

"For my part," Zevra says, "I'd rather see Balic. I've never been to either, but after the last vision we saw, I fear that the crescent forest would prove... disappointing."

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.




Daclamitus smiles and chuckles warmly. “I am not surprised that you are curious. The orb...in and of itself will not serve a purpose for you.” He steeples his fingers and gazes off in thought. “I am sure the guardian of Hi’ilei’s sphere told you, but these orbs allow mere mortals to communicate with the gods. The orb you have in your possession would allow communication with the goddess Hi’ilei - with the proper rituals in place, of course. But to speak to her alone would be fruitless. She alone would not be able to change the fate of this dying world. Gathering more of the orbs would allow us to….call a congress, of sorts.”

“And you are correct - I do owe you information after the grand task you undertook. I am not personally familiar with Iole, you see. As you may be able to tell, I have walked this world for quite some time,” he gives a playful tug on his beard for emphasis, “and I have delved deep into what ancient texts and records yet remain. Iole, given her role, left a large mark on the world. Especially in the world prior to whatever caused the current state of affairs. Her personality shone through, even in those old books.”

He gazes meaningfully at Jascha and Kalakote. “We all have roles to play in this grand task. Whether it be our knowledge, our strength. All of us bring something to the party that will achieve our goal. Your venture into the temple was but the beginning, and a very important first step. Jascha, I knew of your past when I reached out for your assistance. Because you seek to atone, because you are leaving that chapter in your past, is why you are a cherished and valued member of this party.”

He paces leisurely, as though giving a lecture. “Balic is a...unique place if you are unfamiliar. It’s far larger than any village, with far more money and resources. The wealthy barter in power and climb to gain the favor of Andropinis - who has been in power for centuries. Far longer than living memory. The templars are no ordinary soldiers, as they have been granted a small piece of Andropinis’ power. I would strongly suggest that you remain cautious while maneuvering through the city. However, your end goal lies not in Balic itself. Rather, you need help from the silt sailors in order to cross the Sea of Silt. The destination is the Isle of Shault. There, you will meet its keeper, Mearedes.” He presents the party with a small scrap of paper with a symbol upon it. “Give him this. It will explain everything he needs to know.”

He ceases his pace and warmly regards the party. “I believe I shall turn in for the night. The evening is yours, though we depart at dawn tomorrow.”

Wol
Dec 15, 2012

See you in the
UNDERDARK




"Leader?" While Shaiha was beaming before, she now positively radiates, clearly chuffed. "I don't think my companions have ever called me that before, but if you're going to pay me such compliments, I'll have to make you my second in command." She bows her head slightly, breaking eye contact so as to free Kalakote from having to carry her little joke any further. "Seriously, though, we're all equals here. And right now all I am is a very sore, very dusty equal." Despite dressing for the desert, there's no way one can travel for days upon days without some sand getting through their protection. She can feel it weighing down the curls of her hair, hiding in the ridges of her ears, encrusted in the wrinkles around her eyes. "I'm going to refresh myself a bit. If anyone else wants to join me, I have enough balms and salves for all." She gestures her intention to walk past Kalakote, then does so, sluffing her pack off on a table behind him with a sigh of relief.

Kicking off her sandals before hoisting her self up onto a chair, she starts bringing out little bottles, "for joints" - "this one picks up sand really well, no matter where it's hiding" - "in case you have a headache". She also grabs a little sachet of pressed leaves from a side pocket. "Daclamitus, do you have a censer or two? These herbs are good for relaxing, but they have to be diffused or things can get weird." She leaves it on the table in anticipation of his answer. The first thing she does to help herself is to grab a soft strip of cloth from her pack and dab it with a couple drops the second of her three bottles. The cloth is one of Dejera's, a fine, luxurious rubia-dyed material that betrays the privilege of its owner. Shaiha wipes it gently across her face. The effect is immediately refreshing.

Relatively free from dirt and grime after she finishes washing a few other areas, and still riding high from both her arcane success and her new companion's kind greeting, she finds herself in a conversational mood. "Hope begins to spring, like a shoot pushing its way through a field of stone. When my thoughts drift, I can't help but picture myself in this new, green world we're working for. There are sweeping societal changes I'd like to see of course, but I'm talking about the little things. Little images come to mind, hopeful scenes or little moments I might find myself in. Like..." she blushes slightly, clutching her cloth. "There's someone important to me in Draj, someone I traveled with before this. Sometimes I picture her and I in a green field, a clean, gentle breeze blowing, sitting beneath a - beneath some kind of massive fruit tree, I don't know what they had back then - just sharing fruit, with no worries on our minds." She's heavily blushing now, surprising even herself with the degree to which she's opening up. Though the group has had time to travel together, they're still mostly strangers. Some nights in the desert have passed with barely anyone saying a word. Shaiha would like that to change, but her own comfort zone is proving to be the first one she'll have to chisel through. "How about you?" She scans the room to clearly indicate the use of the collective 'you'. What thoughts keep you hopeful, or keep you sane while we're trudging through the desert?"

LogicNinja
Jan 21, 2011

...the blur blurs blurringly across the blurred blur in a blur of blurring blurriness that blurred...


Sathain

Sathain joins Shaiha, breathing in the herb-smoke once the censer is lit. He seems almost immaculately, annoyingly clean, himself: the telekinesis he wears like a second skin seems to be as effective against dust and sand as it is against blades and spirits. It's palpable even now, when he's relaxed, for anyone with the arcane senses or training in the Way to feel it: a weight in the air around him.

"I'm afraid I can't bring myself to dwell on the pleasant things that might be. I've been mulling over the fact that gathering these relics might be the easy part, whatever guards the others. Not to make light of the battles we've fought, or the ones we have yet to fight, but... you've heard of the Land Within the Wind, yes? Where my people make their home? It's... for all intents and purposes, it's green and thriving. Not like that vision, not anymore, but," a hesitation in his voice, a momentary pause before he soldiers on, "it's lush, alive. And yet, we keep the paths to it secret on pain of death, and still we have to deal with defilers who seek to drain it for their own ends. I'm afraid that we are all forgetting that even if we can somehow make Athas green, the world was green, once--and it didn't save it then. And now, we have those who... well."

He shrugs, and snaps his mouth shut, as if holding back the rest of his thoughts, but the conclusions are logical enough: what, if the world is made to grow, is going to keep the sorcerer-kings and their lackeys from draining it dry all over again--and becoming something even more terrible in the process?

LogicNinja fucked around with this message at Jun 1, 2018 around 03:12

Doomykins
Jun 28, 2008

Didn't you mean to ask about flowers?



Kalakote PDF

He hums in appreciation, unmistakably pleased by his new authority. Then Kalakote throws his head back and laughs aloud, a voice deep and booming! "Hahahahahaha! Truly, Blessed Doctor, you would already have a second at hand! But you honor me all the same!" He grins to Shaiha, the joke forever blurring with reality. And as his introductions carry on he suddenly feels a need to stand even straighter, to show even more respect.

"Divine Seer, Noble Ancestor." Kalakote bows to Zevra with reverence, and again to her ghostly mother! As he straightens up again he looks to Zevra with intense interest, smiling widely. "A great title, though I am no match for my old friend, Genn, Who Finds Water. I hope someday to truly be a bringer of food..." A bit of sadness creeps into those last few words but he makes a strong effort to wall it out of their time of good cheer. "I see now. Clearly you are her Second. Divine Seer, Blessed Doctor, I pledge my blade to you both!"

---

The salves and ointments draw a small appreciative whisper of "expert skill.." and the giant patiently hears out Daclamitus' words, his companion's hopes and concerns. He makes a low hum as he considers Shaiha's words. "A path of wisdom. This is a good vision you would wish for us all. I believe I feel similarly.. there is little for me left in my life. I would very much like to carry meaning and triumph to my grave."

Getting comfortable, Kalakote is used to long times spent standing, a tall observer in conversations. He folds his arms over his chest and chuckles. "Where the Sage gives us one impossible task, this walking ghost suggests another. Your time in the space between winds changes your eyes. Let good effort be made today and when tomorrow comes, let it be made again. That is all to think about."

He unfolds his arms and makes to examine this magical sand removing salve. "Besides, surely one of the Kings will challenge us the moment our task is known. It would be a good way to die." He regards the ointment curiously before trying a smallest dab to cleanse his ears.

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.


Kayode "Baba" Babatunde

Baba, for his part, doesn't simply lounge in the lingering smoke. He accepts the relieving balms gratefully, of course, but rather than sit and soak, he instead goes through a few routine exercises, with slow, measured movements. "It is a form of meditation that helps keep my body limber," he mentions towards quizzical expressions, his voice strangely serene, almost monotone. Alongside the physical benefits, it was a fine way for him to keep hold of the powers of his mind, by settling the focus and not letting petty thoughts distract him.

Still, Shaiha's question reaches him perfectly clear. "Have you any children? Any of you?" Avra's shrieking protest doesn't even raise an eyebrow. "Ghostly company excluded." Baba's words come slowly, as if with great deliberation. "I have three children - two daughters and one son - and they all have children of their own, eight in total." A long exhale follows the words, and his eyes seem to grow more aware, as he comes back into the conversation at a more normal tone of voice. "I do this for them. If they and their children can see a greener Athas, I should wish for nothing more."

Old Kentucky Shark
May 25, 2012

If you think you're gonna get sympathy from the shark, well then, you won't.




"Noble ancestor?" Avra says. She gives Zevra a spectral elbow in the side -- it goes right through her. "I like that. Why don't you ever call me that?"

Zevra smirks. "Maybe we should call you Kalakote, Who Knows How to Talk to Women."

---

Inside Shaiha's tent, Zevra relaxes. While the others talk, she listens and spends the time removing her skull and thorn head-dress and scraping away her white face-paint with a small dull bronze blade. Without her witch raiment, she's just a small, tired woman with copper skin and premature age lines. "I don't have children," she says finally. "Or a lover waiting for me. I have no..." she trails off. "I have no home, and there is nothing behind me to give me comfort." A spectral shape curled at her feet lifts its shaggy head and noses her hand. "Dogs excepted, obviously," she says, scratching its ears. "What I have is freedom. I have repaid my grievances with the blood of my enemies, to the point where even I have judged it enough. All my debts are done. Everything after that is a fortunate gift."

"I tire of the company of the dead," Zevra says. "I want to see a city full of the living."

Wol
Dec 15, 2012

See you in the
UNDERDARK



"Sathain..." The elf's comment wasn't exactly the kind of bonding Shaiha had been looking for, but it did speak to a thought she'd had as well. The sorcerer-kings certainly wouldn't just stand by and allow the world to be healed, not without taking cruel advantage. The only way Shaiha can see this quest ending is with the sorcerer-kings dead or deposed. "I don't disagree about the sorcerer-kings, but let's save that talk for another night." As the others tell their stories, Shaiha nods along, listening intently. It seems there's hope in the future for most of them, even if it's not for themselves. That warms her heart. She longs for more in this stage of her life than a grim, single-minded mission, and getting to know her traveling companions gives her a bit of what she's looking for. She's happy for them for their own sakes, too. It could be hard enough to find anything to look forward to in this wasted world.

To Baba's comment, Shaiha says, "I have no children, no. It never seemed like the right time, the dusty streets of Draj never seemed like the right place, and in a few years I'll be too old anyway. But I can appreciate your goal - it's a noble one. Maybe for your grandchildren's children, there will never have been a dessicated desert world of Athas. Maybe for them, it'll always have been green. We can hope as much. And I hope you can see it with your own eyes. From the way you fought in the temple, you have a few good years left in you yet." Shaiha chuckles, utterly relaxed within the smoke.

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.


Kayode "Baba" Babatunde

Kayode simply sits, cross-legged, and nods. "Aye. The teeth of time have fortunately spared me the curse of the cripple or the infirm. But even so, this old body ages, and it will not be long before I, too, crumble into sand." His eyes glimmer with focus. "I shall endeavor to complete our quest before that happens, however." Whatever else might be said, the old man simply lapses into thoughtful silence, enjoying the soothing alchemical supplies.

LogicNinja
Jan 21, 2011

...the blur blurs blurringly across the blurred blur in a blur of blurring blurriness that blurred...


Sathain

For a moment, Sathain's expression is pinched and sour, full of some bitterness that obviously extends beyond his current thoughts. It seems like he's about to start arguing, try to drive his point home. Then, he shrugs, and unhappiness drains out of him like the color from a dying man. It's replaced by an easy smile--one that seems to warm his cool violet eyes a little--and his shoulders lower. With a man who puts on false faces like others do clothes, who can tell which expression is real? "All right," he murmurs, leaning over to Shaiha. "For now. We may yet all die in Balic and spare ourselves a lot of planning and worrying. But if we don't, it needs to be addressed with something more than 'it would be a good way to die'."

He listens for a while before chiming in again, his black mood apparently vanished. "There are options," he tells Baba, floating the idea without judgement. "Men younger than you try all kinds of things to extend life, and some of them work. Many of those I serve maintain themselves as psionic liches, but I've come across stranger beings than that. Bains floating in vats of liquid, souls bound to canopic jars, crystal coffins in which the body could lie and shrivel away while the mind wandered free. Even a kind of layered golem--skin over flesh over bone, painstakingly constructed to look like the psionicist who transferred his mind to it. --Most of them didn't survive me, I admit, but it all seemed to be working well enough up to that point."

LogicNinja fucked around with this message at Jun 6, 2018 around 10:05

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.


As Dawn breaks, Daclamitus and Bevus prepare to see the party off. “I shall not be far behind you, I have...much catching up to do with Bevus.” He claps Bevus on the shoulder in a brotherly way. Bevus chuckles, his face seeming brighter than ever. “That he does. I promise, I’ll get him to you in one piece.”



Travel to the city-state is calm. The party is able to shelter through a dust storm, and rewarded for the efforts by a refreshing misty “rain.” As the group crests a sand dune, the party is able to see the sweeping city below. In the distance, there is a group of sails in the silt harbor, although none appear to be coming or going. Off to the side, the spacious patrician villas rest on wide swaths of land, dotted with trees. In the distance looms Mount Laeron. The entrance is decorated with an opulently carved gate, flanked by two stern praetors. In the background looms Andropinis’ White Tower and the Chamber of Patricians. As the party draws closer, they point their weapons towards the group and take a defensive stance.

“Halt, strangers!” booms a praetor. “What is your business in the great city of Balic? No one is to enter! Not until we find the scourge that attacked the Chamber of Patricians!!”

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.


Kayode "Baba" Babatunde

Daclamitus' place

Baba scoffs at Sathain's suggestions. "I have no delusions of immortality or grandeur, and I take great offense that you would suggest such a thing. Time will take me when it is ready. I have long since accepted this. Spare me your cynicism, Sathain."

Balic

"Ho there!" The old man hails the guard with a jovial raising of the hand. "Be at ease, sir. My name is Kayode, of the House Babatunde of Tyr, and this here is my entourage - protectors and companions alike. I have come to speak with my friend, Darius Veraxis, the pottery merchant! You know of him, yes? His vases are the finest in all of Balic, as I'm sure you are aware. I myself am no longer in the merchant business, I'm afraid - old age has taken its toll - but I had hoped to convince him to continue business with my son, who has taken over." His gentle smile turns into a worried frown. "But what is this about an attack, you say? What a terrible thing! I do hope there were no fatalities... Have you any idea what happened?"

Bluff to get us into the city at 1d20+15=34.

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.


The praetors pause, somewhat taken aback, as they seem to puzzle over Baba’s response. Clearly, they were expecting something much more hostile. They look at each other for a moment, and one shrugs at his partner.

“Who are we to halt the business of Balic?” ponders the left praetor. He nods towards his partner who fiddles with a large latch, unlocking the gate. The right praetor turns from opening the gate and sighs before responding to Baba. “It was a shame, what happened to the Chamber. Some scoundrel attempted to assassinate Lord Metrobius, the head of the committee overseeing trade into and out of the city.” The left praetor jumps into the conversation, almost a little too excited to share some juicy details. “Yes, yes! Stabbed him in his side, just as he was about to enter a Chamber meeting! He’s alive, thankfully.” The right praetor nods “for the moment, that is. It was quite a serious injury. No one is quite certain how he has lasted this long. The whole city is praying for his recovery.”

The praetors pause for a moment, solemn. The left one speaks up again. “Well, we’ve talked quite enough I suppose. You may enter” he pronounces as he pushes open the gate. The right praetor speaks one last time. “Tread carefully, strangers, and mind yourselves while in our city. Don’t make us regret allowing you in.”


The party enters through the heavy gates. The gate opens onto a well-tread road. Flanking the road is bustling workshops, artisans selling their wares, and all sorts of more niche stores. The side streets are full of people conducting their business, socializing, and relaxing. The store fronts along the road appear to be well tended and cared for. Throughout the regular citizens lurk armored praetors making patrols. They are briefly confused by seeing strangers enter the gates but choose to ignore them, most likely assuming someone above them allowed it to occur. Directly at the end of the road looms the Criterion, Balic’s grand arena, its marble facade almost gleaming in the sunlight.

Wol
Dec 15, 2012

See you in the
UNDERDARK




Shaiha gives Baba an appreciative nod as the party walks through the city's sandblasted gates. She had been prepared to offer her forensic skills to the praetors' investigation if it'd get them in the city, but if a quick lie could get them on their way without all that trouble, she'd just as soon not. She doesn't plan on lingering here long - while she wouldn't turn down the opportunity for a well-furnished room and a proper bath, the group's quest isn't exactly something she wants to delay. Well, not too long, anyway. Her eyes are drawn to the shops lining the roadway. At the very least, she wants to restock on alchemical components before any further travel. It never hurt, either, to browse a little. Places like this, the first shops travelers see when entering a city, are well-known for turning up odd rarities and surprising bargains from time to time. She makes it known to the rest of the group that there's no two ways about it - she's going to spend a little time shopping. "You should come with me, Zevra," she adds. "The city of the living awaits! We won't have time to sample all of its wonders today, but I'm sure we can scare up a morsel or two." There's a twinkle in her eye as she beckons the shaman. Whether or not Zevra follows, though, Shaiha's first stop is going to be the nearest shop selling oils and and other reagents.

Doomykins
Jun 28, 2008

Didn't you mean to ask about flowers?



Kalakote PDF

Helmet on and fully clad in chitinous plate, Kalakote looms behind the group in the classic posture of the hired guardian. Tall, foreboding, completely polite and compliant. Waiting for the others to speak their way in goes smoothly and settling into a role as a mercenary is well enough. Once they are past the gate he looks to the rest and voices a humble concern. "You must be proud, Baba, but we will have to be quick to meet this Veraxis." Surveying the crowd and the city's silhouette something a bit more alarming than an assassination plot stands out...

"The harbor is still. Targeting their "Lord of Committee" has halted all passage in and out, more so than just the gate. This may be difficult." He reaches up and pinches the bottom of his face plate, adjusting the fit of the helmet. "Come, I'm certain a skiff will depart if enough coin is offered." Astoundingly, the point blank thrust-pouch-into-chest approach may not turn up any leads on skiff captains! Perhaps Kalakote would best serve by actually being a silent guard for Baba and the others.

Checking out this silt harbor with no sail movement!

Streetwise 9.

Doomykins fucked around with this message at Jun 12, 2018 around 01:26

LogicNinja
Jan 21, 2011

...the blur blurs blurringly across the blurred blur in a blur of blurring blurriness that blurred...


Sathain

Sathain has his unremarkable-human face on again, a man with an abundance of visible scars and short-cropped hair this time. He sidles up to Baba after they're through. "Nicely done. I was going to go with something similar, but I don't know the merchants here like you do. ---look, I apologize if I gave offense, before. Very few are content to let their end come. Maybe a good life makes that easier."


He touches Shaiha's elbow before she can head off. "Enjoy yourself, but... be cautious. Try not to draw attention to yourself. With what's happened recently, the guards, and Andropinis' templars, will be on high alert--and looking for someone to pin the blame on."

Old Kentucky Shark
May 25, 2012

If you think you're gonna get sympathy from the shark, well then, you won't.





Zevra has toned down the witch getup for their presumably low key entrance into the city, but seeing the hordes that throng the streets in modes of dress she never imagined, she's not sure why she bothered. Shaiha is right about at least one thing; compared to the wastelands and dust bowls that Zevra grew up in, the city is teeming with life.

She nods numbly at Shaiha's offer to go shopping and wordlessly produces a jingling, clanking bag. "I have money," she offers. "From dead elves. It never really bought anything worth having in the wastes, but here..." She shrugs. "Shopping?"

Old Kentucky Shark fucked around with this message at Jun 13, 2018 around 12:41

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.


Shops:

The atmosphere in the marketplace is tense. Praetors, not nearly as pleasant as the fellows at the gate, are accosting people they deem to be suspicious. One praetor shoves an elf who appears to be on his way to the Elven Market and barks questions at him.The shopkeepers are visibly nervous and quiet. They make uneasy eye contact with Zevra and Shaiha. Some shopkeepers lamely attempt to hawk their wares, but the citizens appear to be attempting to conduct their business and depart as quickly as possible. Some praetors positioned at the openings of side roads glare in Shaiha and Zevra's direction, observing them coldly.

Everyone else:
Kalakote's earnest attempts to gain access to a skiff succeed in frightening the citizenry. One citizen, a middle aged woman, rushes away. For a moment, it appears she was simply running away from the group. Another moment passes, and her voice somehow rises above the din - "Help! Praetor! Someone! This man is trying to leave the city!" The woman manages to find a praetor willing to listen and fusses at him for the duration of the brief walk back to the party.

The praetor looks at the wailing woman, who has now worked herself into a terrified frenzy, and then at the party. The woman continues to fuss and wail. "These people are...are...flouting the laws of this great city! The laws apply to everyone! Praetor, I just want them to obey the laws! Why would these people try to leave if they didn't have something to hide?! They must have been the assassins!"

He cocks an eyebrow and loops his thumbs into his belt. He turns to her and attempts to assuage her. "Calm down, ma'am, I'll handle this," he says a few times before she finally quiets down. "What's this about trying to pay someone to leave the city? Don't you know that the gates are closed for everyone's safety? There was an attack on one of our fair leaders, and we must find who is responsible! Why are you trying to leave, do you have something to hide?"

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.


Kayode "Baba" Babatunde

It takes a hot second before Baba realizes what their newest companion had wrought. He tries to stop the giant from making a blunder, but alas, the praetor already approaches. Putting on his best friendly old man face, he steps forward with an apologetic bow. "A thousand pardons, master Praetor. This is all a big misunderstanding. Rightfully this good woman here is concerned with the laws being upheld! But we have little to hide, nor do we wish to break said laws. My name is Kayode, of House Babatunde of Tyr - formerly a merchant by trade - and this is my entourage. Your companions at the gate can confirm that I am here to visit a former colleague, and we only just entered the city. I had asked my guard here to see about securing us passage out, indeed; but only as soon as this dreadful business with the attempted assassination was done! Certainly, we do not wish to flaunt your beautiful city, or its just laws. But he is an unsophisticated man - his talents lie in other areas, as I'm sure you can imagine - so it was my folly indeed to ask this of him, and thus cause this panic. I beg of you, master Praetor, and you, good lady, forgive an old man an earnest mistake." Another bow, deeper than the former. This was going to take his best convincing to see off the praetor.

Bluff at 1d20+15=23

Doomykins
Jun 28, 2008

Didn't you mean to ask about flowers?



Kalakote PDF

"I tell you, I could not hide from one such as you. I am much too large." Following Baba's lead, Kalakote executed his own full bow at the waist. "Forgive me, Honored Matron. I should better obey the laws."

Wol
Dec 15, 2012

See you in the
UNDERDARK




"The city doesn't seem forthcoming with its charms today." Shaiha whispers to Zevra as they proceed down the lane of the bazaar. "Keep an eye out." Nonetheless, she points out to Zevra some of the more interesting shops, making little stops here and there to browse and pick up a trinket or two. She makes a quick stop to replenish her basic alchemical ingredients when something the next stall over catches her eye. The stall is clearly run by marauders - bandits who make their living ambushing caravans in the wastes and selling their ill-gotten gains back in the city. As far as Shaiha's concerned, while distasteful, marauder stalls are good for one thing. She floats over to the stall after packing her new powders and oils in her bag, browsing the wares until 'happening upon' a pretty, delicate metal ring. She barely has to pick it up before her suspicions are confirmed. Marauders, while talented with violence, are not often known for their arcane senses. Occasionally, a magical item ends up in their possession - and when it does it tends to be without them knowing. It seems this is one of those times, and her lucky day. She casually haggles the price down to reasonable for what appears to simply be a nice piece of jewelry, takes the ring and is on her way.

Moving on, Shaiha's not entirely sure what Zevra might like, so she decides to try and cover all the bases. The two move from clothing merchants ("I know a thing or two about dyes, if you want help picking something with a colour that'll last"), to artisans ("Maybe not too practical for travelling with, but the art in these places is always beautiful"), to tool merchants ("Anything you might need for any purpose, there's someone who makes it"), to street food vendors ("We'll have two inix kebab, please!"). The kebab vendor seems slightly more gregarious than the overall guarded mood among the bazaar today, and it'd not like there's a lineup, so Shaiha decides to try and strike up a conversation once she and Zevra get their food.

"Mm - a thousand thank yous, this is delicious. My friend and I have been travelling all day, and it seems to be a miracle that we've even been let into the city. This is exactly what we needed." Shaiha leans in closer, one eyebrow conspiratorially raised. She lowers her voice so that only Zevra and the kebab vendor will hear. "So tell me. We've heard the news, but an assassination attempt isn't a once-in-a-lifetime event. Seems to me it'd take more to put every single citizen of Balic on edge. Is there anything more to the story?"


Forgot to pick out the level 12 item we got at level-up, so picking it up now: Lesser Ring of Feather Fall!

Diplomacy to try and get the kebab vendor talking: 12 (nat 1 )

Wol fucked around with this message at Jun 16, 2018 around 08:07

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.


Shaiha & Zevra:

The vendor is nervous in replying to Shaiha's thanks. "I, erm, appreciate the compliment...I try hard to make the best food I can, you know?" She is slightly taken aback by Shaiha leaning in to make deeper conversation. "I-I mean...it's scary to know that someone can just sneak in and attack a patrician that easily! If they can do that to someone like them, then what about the rest of us? What are they trying to do?" The vendor looks around nervously and makes it a point to appear conspicuously busy when a praetor walks by. She grumbles, loudly enough for her conversation partners to hear, "the praetors and the head of the guard certainly aren't helping...they look at all of us like criminals."

Rest of the Party:

The woman is mildly placated by Baba's apology and sniffs "well, his kind should be better aware of their behavior when amongst civilized people. I should hope you're doing your best to educate him." She turns to the praetor, huffing, "well? aren't you going to do anything?"

The praetor looks visibly annoyed, though this piece of nonverbal communication fails to reach the woman. "Ma'am there isn't much I can do. The gates are locked down, and the other guards know their orders. I'm not sure how these folks got in, but they won't be leaving." The woman protests but is immediately hushed by the praetor. "They haven't hurt anyone. Like this man said, they didn't know any better. Good help is hard to find eh?" he winks at Baba. "Go, madam, be on your way. I'll attend to them from here." He hushes her final protest and dismisses her. He glares at the party after she leaves and hisses "I better not see your faces or learn your names, or things will become much more difficult." He allows the threat to hang and stalks off, presumably to lecture his colleagues at the gates.

Melchiresa fucked around with this message at Jun 18, 2018 around 04:33

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.


Kayode "Baba" Babatunde

"Of course, master Praetor. You shall have no trouble from us. Thank you for your gracious mercy." Baba keeps his subservient smile, and bows once more, until the preator is far out of ear-shot. Once he is sure they are alone again, he sighs, his expression becoming slightly annoyed. "It seems we must tread more carefully. Let us go and find our ladies before they get carted off on suspicion of assassination." Turning to Kalakote, he mentions, "...and perhaps next time, a little tact would be of use."

Old Kentucky Shark
May 25, 2012

If you think you're gonna get sympathy from the shark, well then, you won't.





Zevra seems very taken with the textiles section of the market, in particular the many beautifully colored fabrics, which she can't stop fingering thoughtfully. Barring face-paint, Shaiha has never seen the witch wear anything that wasn't sand-colored before, but she certainly seems to be considering the idea.

"That's very unfair of the praetors," she tells the stall-keeper, "I've only seen two actual thefts in the entire time we've been in the market, and the praetors' didn't notice either of them. They seem to have very poor eyesight." Compared to the desert witch they do, anyway. She decides not to mention the literally dozens of ghosts of executed criminals thronging the marketplace, because that kind of knowledge usually upsets people. "Could I buy two more kebabs, please? For taking away?"

Doomykins
Jun 28, 2008

Didn't you mean to ask about flowers?



Kalakote PDF

Like the wind passing by, Kalakote feels the threat come and lets it go. He nods to Baba. "Forgive me, I have not dealt with a city in some time." He ruminates for a moment. "The shared madness of so many seeking so little to do..." He shakes his head in the vague direction of the retreating old woman. "We will be watched and none may pass. Perhaps if we stepped into the light and settled the matter."

Sensing a misunderstanding before it comes, he holds up a massive palm to request a moment to explain. "The soldiers sniff out those in the shadows. Help them and we clear this lockdown while escaping their notice."

Dick Burglar
Mar 6, 2006

ROBBLE ROBBLE ROBBLE!


Jascha the Lost

The elf does his best not to stand out among the crowd and appear non-threatening. His sleeve is repaired, his bow unstrung and lashed across his back, and his quiver is capped with a cloth to prevent sand and dust from settling inside. He remains at the back of the group, watching the rear and keeping himself as far away from interacting with the locals as he can. When Kalakote suggests 'stepping into the light,' Jascha's body tenses.

"I do not like the idea of drawing attention to ourselves..." He pauses for a moment, choosing his words. "But our status as outsiders alone makes us suspect. Stepping forward may be our best--and only--option."

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Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.


The vendor smiles, genuinely, at Zevra. She hands Zevra two wrapped up kebabs and presses them into her hands. “On the house, for listening to an old woman. Empathy is a rare gem in this sad world.”

Suddenly, men and women armed with official looking scrolls fan out into various locations throughout the marketplace. One mans’ voice booms over the rest.

“Now hear! Now hear! News has reached us from the Chamber of Patricians!” A quiet, reticent crowd forms as the man repeats his introduction a few more times. Once the crowd has assembled and settles, he continues. “Sorrow has struck this city! Lord Metrobius, one of our fair leaders, has succumbed to his injuries and left this world!” The crowd murmurs and buzzes with anxious energy, careful not to become too riled up because of the presence of praetors.

“Our brave praetors are seeking the murderer as we speak! This vicious creature is believed to be an elf! Last seen running towards the Harbor Precinct! Be warned, this attacker has been seen using magic!”

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