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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Lima, Peru
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    Male

    Default A City of Sinister Delights IC

    Chapter I: From the Ashes


    Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

    - Franz Kafka


    *********

    A few nights ago...

    They knew coming all the way here was not safe. Away from the flaming barrels and the singing of the Mercyfolk in and around the Bitter Coffee and environs.

    They were told to stay out of this area. Hell, Kyle had been quite clear about night time exploring in The Mercy.


    Loot all you want, but keep it within these areas. Barring that, I can make a run for the city and get you what you need...


    But his warnings fell on deaf ears as the group of five, covered from head to toe in whatever cloaks, trappings and bits of rusted armor they could scavenge and polish, crossed the derelict bridges of the once lush parks of the Mercy, now a grim reminder of the Great Fire's legacy.

    This part of the Mercy was untouched. Rife with riches in a sea of broken glass and concrete. If the pay off was to be found anywhere, it had to be in a place away from The Society and the Cold Hammer's jurisdiction.

    Even those fools: The Rooster Gang.

    To boldly go...

    The towering buildings, many reclining against their dead brothers, watch the group through empty eye sockets as the scant moonlight creates eerie shapes on the cracked streets. The torches providing light, yes, but not enough to provide a feeling of safety.

    At best, the fire from the torches increase the odd shapes as one in the group coughs and asks the rest to stop.

    "What is it?""

    "You can't smell it? Sheesh! What died here and forgot to flush itself... I'm getting sick!"

    Another in the group walks up to his friend as this one is about to remove his mask.

    "Are you daft? Keep it on at all times! Someone check out where that stench is coming from!""

    Another in the group does a quick reconnaissance and grunts as the echo of metal on pavement rebounds along the street.

    "It was a manhole... and it was open. Didn't you say that this place was deserted?""

    A shorter figure in the group rises the torch to shed more light around.

    "It is deserted! I know it is. That's why we are here. Now, let me check my map."

    The group gets closer to the map reader as this one sits on the ground and spreads the map, tracing a gloved finger along all possible streets.

    "We aren't far. Just a few more blocks. We do this and we'll be regarded as heroes. I want to thank all of you for your help.""

    "Coin will do, thanks."

    It is a few more minutes walking around a few uneven streets, with pieces of rubble trickling down the massive urban giants left here to rot so many years ago as the shorter one in the group raises the torch to a worn out sign.

    "This is it! Here's where I was told they were. You guys got your bags?""

    One of them walks up to the front door and tries the handle, realizing it's locked and then pushes against it.

    "Barricaded from the inside. Hey! You three! Come and give us a hand here. We're busting in.""

    A wind flies through the dark street and threatens to extinguish the torches as the group places their gloved hands around it.

    "Don't let the fire go out! Come over here and...""

    It is then that one in the group stays still as the sound of a manhole echoes not too far away.

    "Didn't you close one on the way here?""

    "I closed one, but that was several blocks back. Are you sure this place is... AHHHH!!!!""

    The torch falls from the poor sod and extinguishes on the ground as the group runs to their comrades position.

    "Hey, guy! Hey! Where are you?!""

    One of them kneels on the ground where the burnt out torch lay and runs a gloves hand on the broken concrete.

    "Blood... fresh, too. Screw this! I'm going back. You lied to us!""

    The shorter one holds its scouting partner by the arm.

    "We can't split now. Stay together and let's get what we came for. Then, we can go find him. It's a promise.""

    The moment that all of them turn their attention to the door, their friend's blood curdling scream can be heard rising above the ground as something drops the extinguished torch on a rancid puddle and his screams are muffled several feet in the shadowy skies, never to be seen again.

    Panic runs through the three remaining scouts as they begin kicking the barricaded door, dropping their torches on the ground as these roll a few feet away.

    "We need to get inside now! Push, goddammit. PUSH!""

    The shorter one in the group drops the map and joins in the fruitless attempt to gain access as shrilling screams, unlike any animal ever made, echo through the darkened street as one of the brave scouts cries in pain as its arm is pulled back from the door by an unseen force, causing the other two to freeze in place, subject to utter fear before his limb is brutally sliced by an unseen blade as the scout, its entire body drenched in blood, takes a few steps back, attempting to register what happened, only for its legs to be surgically removed as its body drops to the ground and a droning of wings can be heard over its body as its face mask is dissolved by acid, causing the poor guy's body to twitch and sizzle.

    Hopefully he died from trauma at first strike.

    The last two place their backs against the door to the building and the taller of the two draws a dagger.

    "What the hell is going on here! Isn't this part supposed to be deserted??? You said none of the others come here.""

    It's a females voice that can be heard in the dark.

    And for good reason...

    The dagger is sliced in two by an unseen blade, followed by the brave scout's face mask, which slides down his chest, taking his face along for a bloody slip and slide down his chest and on the cracked street as he keels over, leaving the shorter scout paralyzed with fear as the bodies of the scouts are dragged away into the shadows, the sound of cracked bones and ripped flesh the only sound as a cloaked figure walks towards the last survivor, who kneels and places its hands together in prayer.


    Please, gods above. I meant no harm. Never have. All I wanted was to...


    The cloaked figure grabs the last surviving scout by the neck and lifts its entire body off the ground, with its boots dangling a few feet in the air.

    "Were you not told to come alone? I believe her instructions were quite clear, were they not?"

    The poor scout can barely breathe as the woman's grip on its throat threatens to crush the windpipe.

    "I... I... can't...breathe...""

    The cloaked figure keeps her grip before dropping the scout, who takes off the mask, in order to get a fresh breath of air, accompanied by the thick scent of blood and acid.

    "It is just as she predicted: You get to live, as per her wishes. And as promised...""

    A small sack floats in the air from the shadows and is dropped at the scout's feet.

    "All you want is in there. Now, let me take a look at your face.""

    The woman checks the scouts facial features and this one tries to look behind the hood. See who caused the death of so many in such a short time.

    And that's when a tiny sting is felt on the scout's neck as this one drops on the ground, feeling extremely sick as the hooded figure and the entire street seems blurred and hazy as the poor naive scout's body convulses on the ground.

    "You will not die. Be content with that. This was just a bad dream. You will wake up to sunny skies and happy faces. Known faces.

    You are also never to come here again...""

    Numbness takes over the scout's body as a puddle of stagnant water meets an unconscious fool in the bowels of the Mercy.

    ************


    Day 1



    @Ketra: It's been less than a week since the Mass Migration.

    Swift Eoil was good on his word- a hundred clipped wing binds, now taken away to his own hideout. Hell, this is as much raw metal as anyone will find in The Mercy. It isn't rusted and with a little creativity, who knows what that elf might be able to do with them and a good smelter.

    He also found all of you a place to call home- The Royal Wyvern Luxury apartments.

    Back in the day, before the Great Fire, Hope's Caress had the best in comfortable deluxe living. Be it as a citizen, or a traveler. The typical wooden shack seen all over Oerth for centuries and a staple of adventurer meetings was ditched in the City of Power.

    Halmathan is a metropolis and unless you can afford the coin to live in the richest suburbs, across the city and as far from The Mercy as possible, the thirty story building is your new home.

    Appearance wise, it's a dump. The pillars that hold the base of the building still stand- which is a miracle in and of itself, but years of looting and squatting by who knows how many brigands and petty thieves have left the once prosperous and pretentious hotel in ruins- garbage and waste litter each floor. Squatters at one point must've bashed the walls in order to set up large hiding holes to live and conduct whatever shady businesses people in the mercy are so fond of.

    There is a positive side to this, though- because of the fire, age and lack of maintenance, the stairs connecting the tenth and eleventh floor have been destroyed. The lift, a marvel of gnome engineering has long been out of order and several floors beyond the eleventh have such faulty rotten floorboards, that they have become effective death traps.

    Unless someone's flying, they aren't reaching you and the rest.

    And to make your home just a little better and more comfortable, your mother Celitas came up with an idea, a few days before the flock took of to The Mercy:

    Ketra, please ask fair Lady Silvarel for earth. Earth from Glenndale Park, as much as we can carry in bags.


    Of all the churches in Halmathan, that of Ehlonna is not built in an urban trench. Glenndale Park is the only natural preserve in the City of Power. It is said that when Halmathan was built, Glenndale Park was left untouched, effectively, being at the center of the city.

    This "park"is more akin to a forest. Yes, it is gated, with short walls surrounding it and over the years, pavement and benches have been placed for everyone to go and either take a stroll, sit down and paint a picture of the city amidst the only true nature in this place.

    They even have those silly looking boats shaped like swans for couples to row across the clear lagoons and recite badly written poetry.

    The place is idyllic, were it not for those smoke chugging machines: The Eyes in the Sky, always hovering a little too close to the canopy.

    Lady Silvarel was not one to question your request. She had been impriosned falsely by Connor over a month a go and she knew what it is like to be oppressed and discriminated- Connor, on top of it all, despises elves and Lady Silvarel is a grugach, or wild elf in the Common tongue.

    Everything was set and then...

    Vaea was lost.

    You and her used to sing as children, roosting on the tallest buildings in Halmathan before taking the ballsy glide to the next rooftop, an act that may have given your mother more than a few grey feathers.

    And as you became attuned to the City and its untamed land, so did Vaea nurture her voice. She came to be known as Halmathan's Nightingale.

    There is no remorse for blasting Teros Feldspar. Much less for bringing a tree down on his manor.

    If there is any remorse to be had is that your actions, noble as they were, doomed the entire Aerie.

    Wing binds? Are you serious? Tuilviel gave you wings to soar high and become that much closer to the Heavens.

    And now Connor wants to keep you all grounded and shackled. One has to wonder if he did this because of a twisted sense of humor- because he enjoys watching people be miserable.

    Or maybe. Just maybe... because the idea of a flying minority in the City, angry at him has given him the slightest glimpse of what may befall his fate, should he continue being the way he is.

    One must also wonder if your stint against Feldspar and dozens of Raptorans flying across Halmathan's sky, dodging Connor's mighty machines will enact some sort of Retribution, a concept he loves to embrace.

    Celitas was quick to take the mantle of leader- or as much a leader as she could be, being the eldest after Toomin.

    Building large wooden terraces and hanging them from the many balconies in the hotel, the community has created a sort of hanging gardens. Not as impressive as those of Babylon, but with rich earth from Glenndale Park and your expertise on growing things, at least your flock has greens to grow and the occasional rain helps the fruit and vegetables come forth and not be polluted by the toxic ground and water below.

    Celitas has made the younger ones understand:

    You all stay on this rooftop. This is our home. The Mercy has a misleading name. Until you can fly properly, you are to stay here, where it is safe. And if you can fly, you are to always go out in groups of no less than two.


    Your mother means well for the children, but you are not a child anymore.

    Her words are honeyed, to reduce panic in the flock, but you know better.

    Down below, it's a dog eat dog world. And they will eat anyone, feathers and all.

    And so, bright and early, you wake up and commune with nature, even in this scorched concrete jungle and swoop down below and and take to the streets, ignoring the looks of the Mercyfolk, who, although they know what a raptoran is, have not had a flock of them dot the skies not too long ago.

    A rare sight indeed for this place.

    Soss, a few years younger than you, but with a promising future as an archer, has gone missing. There is always a hot head and now, the flock mourns his inevitable passing.

    But you aren't mourning. You are going to find Soss. He is alive and you are going to drag him by the tail feathers back to your new home.

    Whatever it takes.

    But being new here, you need a lead. And so far, your only lead is Eoil.

    His workshop is a few blocks away from the The Royal Wyvern. Well concealed, with a few steps leading down to a thick wooden door.

    The elf is quick to recognize your voice as a multitude of locks can be heard on his side and he lets you inside.



    "By Urbanus! If it isn't Ketra, free as a bird, coming down from her lofty heights to see us poor folk...heh. Come in, take a seat."

    There isn't much space in here. Eoil has a bunch of junk littered about. The wing binds are nowhere to be seen, probably smelted already.

    A large table cluttered with more junk and a ledger occupy most of it as Eoil uncorks a very old and dust covered wine.

    "A gift from my brother. Aged eighty years. Want some?""

    Eoil is quick to pour you from a dirty glass and one for himself.

    "So how's the family up there?""



    @Seti: You are late already.

    Twice a month, The Society meets up at Hope's Caress Hall of Justice. Back in the day, the City had the finest judges and police stationed there to oversee its citizens and make sure that everything ran smooth.

    Today, such hallowed hall serves as the bi monthly meeting point for all the factions in The Society. Mainly to discuss how each crew is doing financially. If there are any problems, and most importantly...

    To collect a share from each crew, since some outrank others. Favors are owned and the only way to see that through is to pay in cold hard cash.

    As usual, you are at the bar in the Bitter Coffee, with Kyle getting your drink in a to go cup as Nana Rose takes a break from her patrons and shows you a new card trick.

    For such an old lady, she sure is nimble when it comes to cards. The stories say that she once left the King dry in a game. Yes, Marcus Airdan is said to have visited the Mercy several times after the Great Fire, usually in disguise and alone, escaping the stifling protocol that his station burdens him with.

    Whether the tale is true, who knows. It's a good story and Nan isn't shy to talk about it.

    Neither is she shy about saying her piece of mind about the Grand Inquisitor.

    "Heard today that the old gas bag is going to raise taxes even higher. At least that's what one of the patrons earlier this morning told me. Raise them more? By Job! He's breaking the City apart with this. He thinks we are all made of money? Since when does a leech take the position of Church Leader?

    Anyways... see that guy over there? That one. yeah, he...""

    That;s when Kyle comes over and gives you the look, as he puts the cup on the counter.




    "Your coffee. Watch it: it's hot. Two coppers.""

    Maybe he knows what you call him and his little Boy Scout Squad. Maybe he doesn't, but it is clear that between you and Kyle, there won't be a flourishing friendship anytime soon.

    You glance at the man Nana pointed out and he does seem rather different from the other regulars.

    For one, he's dressed head to toe in a thick coat and a hat. The man keeps his hat down so as to cover his face as much as he can and his hand shakes a lot as he downs what you can guess, is the third shot of whiskey, given the other two empty glasses.

    Breakfast of champions.

    Nana speaks to you in her native tongue.

    "Guy comes in once a month for the last three. Drinks nearly a full bottle and then, off he goes. Where? I have no idea. So tell me: how's things going outside the Coffee?""


    @Isobel: It rained last night, but nothing even close to the Vile Rain.

    Why would Lady Beory send something like that? Sure, Halmathan right now, given who governs it, would deserve a cleansing like that, but not for everyone, gods forbid.

    If only that rain had fallen over the palace of Justice... wishful thinking.

    Your apartment, in Green Meadows is anything but.

    The once bustling gated community was said to be one of the upper crust sections of Hope's caress. Flora Park still remains here in name only.

    The place is still green, but not because if the soft grass and trees, but because of the pool of toxic water a few yards away with a large grate that spews the nasty stuff into the pool every so often.

    Birds won't even dare roost or fish there. Doubtful that any fish could live in such polluted water.

    But at least the apartment, located on a third floor, does not get the smell, partly because of the many potted plants and flowers you and Vim Von have used to decorate place and maybe it is her music that gets them to grow faster each day.

    That's when you spot one of the newer additions to the Mercy:



    Senerain Blach, the Merciful Father's bodyguard. She has been scouting the area around the Mercy for weeks, looking for a place to build a mission to Phaulkon.

    She hasn't seen you, and it is clear that her attention is on the stagnant toxic pool as she leans on its shores and takes out a vial, not before handling it with tweezers, and scoops up a sample before putting a cork in it, looking at it raised to the sky, swirls the contents inside, shakes her head and pockets the sample as she walks away.

    "Rise and shineeeeeee!""



    Vin Vom, your adorable splurging roommate. Vin came from Halmathan, like you. The girl has two talents:

    Singing and Spending.

    A pity that the latter surpasses the former.

    "Will be performing at the Coffee tonight. Hope to see you there. Oh! Big news! Met an artist here the other night. She's some big shot painter? Or was she a photographer... I don't know, but she saw me perform at the Bitter Coffee and told me she has a studio here. I guess rent's cheaper when it's free, huh?

    Anyways, you're looking at the next Mercy Muse. At any rate...""

    Vin flowers the plants and gives a loud yawn.

    "Time for me to get my beauty sleep.. do we have milk? I sure could go for some milk. And eggs... no! Pancakes. Oh, what I'd give for those!""

    And before you can answer, she goes to her room and collapses on her bed.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Smeggedoff's Avatar

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    Sep 2008
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    UK

    Default Re: A City of Sinister Delights IC

    Bella watches stoic woman examine the pool with a slight pang of guilt and makes a note to see if she can't work at purifying some if it in the near future. Stagnant water is one thing, but that pool is anything but natural.

    Jumping slightly at her friend's exuberant greeting, Bella nods along in a bemused fashion as she shares her daily gossip at a mile a minute.

    "What's wonderful Vin, really, and I'll be there"
    She calls to the woman as she prepares to leave the apartment.
    The sound of her kicking her books into place against the joorframe causes her erstwhile companion to rise from the shaggy lump on the floor and yawn before padding over to her

    "Come on lazybones" she chides, letting him go first before closing the door behind them "Milk and eggs she says, still, can't hurt to look"

    The dog lefts out a 'boof' in response as they make their way down the hall to the stairs and out into the Mercy heading towards the market

    Spoiler: ooc
    Show
    completely forgot about my animal companion, just gonna go with a riding dog, fits an urban environment and is probably a bit easier to explain away than a brown bear and less likely to get citations than a giant eagle
    Spoiler: Games I'm a part of
    Show

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    TankLaser007's Avatar

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    Default Re: A City of Sinister Delights IC

    Seti gathered his hair with one hand as he listened to Nana, his eyes sliding quickly over those in the bar that morning looking for anything out of the ordinary. One could never be too careful, especially these days. Not after what happened with Ivo. Whatever did happen to him. Seti took another quick glance around the room for Draven, the poor sod, before tying off his hair and placing a black leather bycoket on his head, tucking his hair beneath it as he placed the triangular cap tightly upon his head, running the glossy violet feather between his fingers in a habitual flourish as he returned his hands to the bar.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanBruce View Post
    "Heard today that the old gas bag is going to raise taxes even higher. At least that's what one of the patrons earlier this morning told me. Raise them more? By Job! He's breaking the City apart with this. He thinks we are all made of money? Since when does a leech take the position of Church Leader?

    Anyways... see that guy over there? That one. yeah, he...""

    That;s when Kyle comes over and gives you the look, as he puts the cup on the counter.

    "Your coffee. Watch it: it's hot. Two coppers."

    You glance at the man Nana pointed out and he does seem rather different from the other regulars.

    For one, he's dressed head to toe in a thick coat and a hat. The man keeps his hat down so as to cover his face as much as he can and his hand shakes a lot as he downs what you can guess, is the third shot of whiskey, given the other two empty glasses. Breakfast of champions.

    Nana speaks to you in her native tongue.

    "Guy comes in once a month for the last three. Drinks nearly a full bottle and then, off he goes. Where? I have no idea. So tell me: how's things going outside the Coffee?""
    Seti's eyes took in the man, as Nana spoke, while Kay the Rook placed the hot beverage before him he began to reach out still not removing his eyes from the tremor plagued mystery man. Seti's hand slides down towards one of the magically sealed pockets on his belt, then he remembers he's broke -- as usual. While not everyone answers to that old "Gas Bag" the cutpurse cleric "Father Cutter", everyone does have to pay dues to someone.

    Tithes were steep all round these days. The Stools running things in the Society were still new, and still testing their limitations with the flock. Give 'em a few months and "dues" would likely drop, but these last few weeks had been hard and with the new taxes, even the Mercy was feeling the squeeze, less people were giving to a poor old beggar like himself, and even less so since these disappearances started.

    "On second thought Ka--- Kyle. I think I'll pass." he said sliding the steaming hot cup back towards the barista.

    Turning back to Nana he replied to her in Gnome; "Can't say. Not much. A lot. You know how it is. But this character here," he says indicating the man with the whisky breakfast, "would you like I try to discern his story?" Seti asks the Gnome with a sly grin and a wink as he pulls the peak of his hat slightly down over his left eye.
    Last edited by TankLaser007; 2017-01-23 at 12:01 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Syless's Avatar

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    Ketra wore a grin as she entered Eoil's 'home', if you could call it that. The grin was a false one, visible to anyone with the slightest social graces, but she wore it nonetheless. "Hey there, Swift. And I'll never turn down an offer like that." Stepping around the clutter and finding a seat, as much as she could, she takes a sip of the wine herself. "We're settling in as well as, well, anyone could. Lovely view of all the sights to see here in the Mercy, and such friendly neighbors."

    Setting down her glass, she rests her elbows on the table and looks Eoil straight in the eye. "This isn't a social visit, I'm afraid. A member of the flock's gone missing- Soss, the boy who's been running messages for you and a few of the other locals. I know it's the Mercy, so he may just be gone... but I'm not giving up without a fight. If you've heard anything about him, or anything that might point me in the right direction, I would be quite grateful." She picks up her glass once more and takes another sip. "Naturally, I don't expect anything for free."
    Last edited by Syless; 2017-01-23 at 04:38 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Lima, Peru
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    Default Re: A City of Sinister Delights IC

    @Travis: It's that dream again...

    For the fifth night in a row, you have had the same recurring scene:

    The entire City of Halmathan, consumed by flames. The cries of innocent numbering in the millions as a single crimson eye breaks through the smoke ridden sky and that mad laughter echoes chills your very being into waking.

    The Rope Trick spell should expire in a few minutes, but you can easily take an hour at the House of Knowledge to prepare your own spells.

    It's not like the classrooms will be full, anyway.

    The Mercyfolk have flooded the streets early today. A good sign for their dwindling market place. And now with Raptorans having flocked and roosted over the many buildings, who knows...

    Perhaps this place has a chance, after all.

    It doesn't take long to reach the House of Knowledge:



    Granted, it's no Runestone Academy, but when compared to the other buildings in The Mercy, this place isn't too terrible. The stories say that it used to look even worse. A mesh of planks and mortar mixed together along with a few nails to really bind them.

    Needless to say, this is your new home and workplace. Is it a normal workplace? No, and that is something that you need to remind yourself every day:

    None of this is normal.

    A year ago, you and Michael would teleport from anywhere in Halmathan and pop right at the doorstep to the Royal Mare Inn and have a few drinks before popping back in Runestone, just in time for Mistress Fyrune's Theory of Enchantment: The Mind and You.

    The class wasn't anything spectacular, but she sure was. Of all the teachers at Runestone, she is said to have made more hearts throb on campus than any spell, elixir or charm.

    On a lazy day a year ago, you could take to the skies and fly above the buildings of Halmathan because... well, why not? You could fly.

    Today, the mere thought of that is enough to warrant you a one way ticket to prison and from sleeping in a comfy bed at home, you have to watch your back every night before jumping in a Rope Trick because a bunch of losers who equate themselves to fowl have taken a disturbing liking of sorts to you.

    It may be that you, being a wizard, has attracted The rooster's attention: few mages are known in The Mercy and who wouldn't want to have a Runestone graduate in their payroll?

    Thankfully, they haven't been much of a nuisance since two days ago, when a crew of them was lounging at the doorstep to the House of Knowledge, bullying children and grown men alike for going to school.

    It would have ended in bloodshed, had it not been for one of those Ilumians, Githslayer Kyrich, who simply crossed his arms and leaned against the door, giving them a silent deadly stare that drove the fools away.

    That and a wicked spiked chain... probably that was motivation enough.

    As soon as you walk inside, you can see Michael seated at one of the empty desks, finishing to review his own spell book as Sister Hannah greets you with a bow.



    "A fair and blessed morning to you, Master Travis! I hope those Rooster rascals didn't give you any problems on the way here? You do know the House of Knowledge has rooms to spare. You need not find a place outside every night.""

    Hannah is working on placing a bunch of notes on a large wooden board. This isn't uncommon- although the house serves as a school, it also helps people reach out to others. A roster of sorts.

    The word MISSING is repeated like a pattern all over the board, along with a multitude of names as Hannah sighs and finished taping the last sign before asking your help to place the roster outside for all to see.

    "Five more of these came today. I really don't get it. The Mercy is a dangerous place, yes. But with Sarjon gone, we should be a lot safer now and yet... oh, well. Michael says he wishes to do pull a double shift today, if that's fine with you. Lately, the number of students coming has decreased.

    I honestly don't know how to keep people interested in learning anymore. Not with all these disappearances.""

    Sister Hannah sighs and takes a look at the roster, doing a mental count of the missing ads and walks inside. But there is one ad that does catch your attention, hidden under the many other parchments on the board:

    Crafters Wanted


    Knowledge of Arcane Magic a must.

    If interested, head to:

    45 Galatea Dr.

    Discretion and Good Pay
    This ad seems recent.


    @Ketra: Swift savors the wine, taking an exaggerated pose as he straightens his back, attempting to show the slightest sliver of his elven heritage- which doesn't work in a cellar filled with who knows how much dirty rusted contraband.

    "You know, if it weren't so far away, I would have had you settle in the Ashford Gardens. Back in the day, before the fire, that place was the hub for the rich and famous in Halmathan. The wealthiest families had deluxe apartments there that made the royal palace look like the Bitter Coffee by comparison.

    Of course, today, that place is so ruined and polluted, that not even a rat would dare scuttle around the debris, but in its heyday? Forget it: you had a view of the entire city from the penthouse.""

    Swift Eoil puts down his glass as you mention the nature of your visit and looks at you for a few seconds, clearly studying your words and motives behind it.

    "Haven't we all lost someone? I remember Soss. Black feather tuft on his head? Yeah. Good kid. Big mouth on him, though. Too big if you can't fly off, if you ask me.

    Look, Ketra I don't know where Soss is, but... but I may know someone who might. You don't live here for almost a century without knowing the locals."

    The elf turns his back to you and fidgets in the drawers, taking out a piece of paper and a quill.

    "You need to find a human by the name of Seti Udzich. He belongs to the closest thing The Mercy has to a government. If anyone has gone missing, they will know... or they will have done the poor bastard in and that's that. Regardless, he can give you answers.

    However... because there is always a however in my line of work, Ketra. I need you to do me a favor."

    Swift looks at you and then at his baubles in the cellar.

    "I have reasons to believe that there's an arms dealer in The Mercy. I need you to find this person. Just give me a name, that's all I require. If you can get Seti to help you with that, all the better, BUT... you never heard this request from me, deal?"

    @Isobel: A pretty lady walking alone in the streets of The Mercy is just asking for trouble.

    But when you're a pretty girl who can turn into a freaking bear and maul people to death and who just happens to have a St. Bernard like Donna next to you, creeps tend to skulk in the shadows, several feet away, if not an entire block.

    Hopefully Vim get her big breakthrough. As a bard in Halmathan , she could make it big. The girl can sing and dance like few you know.

    But with Connor's stupid laws against bards, claiming that they... what was it he said:

    They are demons that will confound the minds of good folk with songs taught by the Devil himself! I will not allow the fair citizens of Halmathan to become enslaved by these witches and their musical craft! Henceforth, to protect you, law abiding citizen of the City of Power, I am placing a ban on such heinous music and deviant arts!

    Any music to be heard in public will have be closely monitored and reviewed by The City.

    Everyone have a lawful and blessed day.


    So many things to say against such a preposterous order, but who would stand up to His Holiness? Definitely not Vim, that's for sure.

    And it would seem that the market place is filled with vendors. A lot more than usual. The whole Raptoran Exodus has swelled the numbers in this district. Who knows how many more groups move in.

    There's only so many derelict buildings to squat in before someone gets cute and starts charging rent.

    The House of Knowledge can be seen a few yards away, nicely settled between a pair of buildings. Who knows how many people are actually attending. With all these missing cases, it is a surprise to see people out and about.

    Then again, it is early morning... and you need to get eggs and milk.

    One thing The Mercy has is diversity. Food is expensive and the people are poor, so trade in goods is not unheard of here. You do spot several vendors, stacked next to each other with their carts and a few of them having a semi dead goat leashed to the cart, chewing on a tin can.

    That is a good sign here- it means this man sells goat milk. It also means that it costs more.

    Those that do not have a goat leashed to their carts means that they sell milk, and at cheaper cost... but you don't even want to fathom where it was milked from.

    Then there's the eggs. The Mercy has resorted to very basic farming- the land is o polluted that it is nearly impossible to grow anything, but animals like chickens are a valued commodity here and you better have a deep purse to buy a dozen eggs, let alone a bird.

    And it is as you browse through the wares, making sure Donna doesn't knock over a stand that you freeze for a moment and hear a familiar voice in your mind:

    Tristram!


    Sis, let me know where you are so I can meet up with you. Urgent.



    @Seti: Kyle sighs as you refuse the coffee and he's about to pour it down the drain when he looks at nana, hands her a pair of coppers and takes a sip, wincing at the taste, which is sure to carry the Coffee's namesake.

    Talks have been running like wildfire in The Society meetings. Mainly about the new Church Leader, Borazon.

    Yes, the guy's a hero. He took down Sarjon, the meanest baddest mother in this place yadda yadda yadda...

    But of course, new questions poured in:

    With a Church leader in The Mercy, that means Connor will now start meddling here. Hello, stupid oppressive laws. Good bye any semblance of freedom.

    And the Merciful Father is conveniently away... a conspiracy between the Falcon and the Cudgel? Not too far fetched.

    There is that guy, Rothen, Borazon's second in command. The guy is as sharp as a hammer. He definitely does not have the makings of a religious leader. He has avoided giving any kind of information regarding Borazon's whereabouts, but that;'s because nobody has asked the right kind of questions at the right time of day.

    Maybe something to check on later. Right now, there's a drunken fool with a very heavy coat on for early autumn that draws way too much attention to himself.

    Nana pats your hand and gives you a wink.

    "You do what you have to, kid. Just don't get in any trouble, ok?""

    The man shakes profusely as he places three gold coins on the table and gets up too fast, holding onto the table as the whisky runs its course through his bowels and threatens to resurface, something nobody is eager to witness so early.

    Thankfully, he composes himself with a loud belch, tips his hat to Nana and moves with a bumbling pace, leaving The Bitter Coffee and hitting the streets.

    Something is odd, though:

    You can swear you heard some jostling from this man. Something tucked beneath his coat. A stolen bottle, maybe?

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Eoil's description was fascinating. Ketra was of two minds- without the Mercy as it is, she would be dead or imprisoned by now, as would her flock, but to have seen what it once was, what it was meant to be... a whole different world. But it's not one she had the luxury of imagining right now.

    Eoil's assessment of Soss was spot-on, he'd been a gossip and a braggart back when it was safe to do so, and the fact that it could get him killed here hadn't quite sunk in.

    She furrows her brow at the mention of Seti, though. The idea that Soss had gotten himself mixed up enough to draw the attention of someone important was... concerning. "Thank you, Eoil. You've been a great help. I'll see what Seti knows, and if something's happened to Soss... well, I might need to arm up to do what must be done." Ketra offers a small wink, the wink of someone not used to lying. "If he's not responsible, I'll see if Seti can help me get ahold of any equipment I might need..."
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
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    @Raikou: The last few months in Choralis Isle have been nothing short of amazing.

    Who knew Oerth had so much water- miles and miles of clear blue sea and bight blue skies with white clouds.

    The Ossian Way is a dangerous place, of course, but so was home and you are alive.

    Lady Choralis has been a good mentor... or rather, her sisters, Alsira and Severna, the Sirine Pranksters. One such tale they love to retell, always with more grandiose detail is how they stole a valuable treasure from the nefarious Captain Matlal, of Sekolah's Jaws, an order of deep sea creatures known for slavery and a particular fondness for the taste of man flesh- sea elves being their preferred dish.

    Their ruse on Matlal was a success... somewhat. There were repercussions. Big ones. Choralia did not go into much detail, but suffice to say, that two names surfaced a lot during your last weeks in her island:

    Archaidious Mithmironel and Tonel Carth.

    Raikou, your training here is nearly complete, but these waters have offered you all the challenge you can get. To stay longer will not make you stronger.

    I have a favor to ask of you. I am certain Kaalo will not object: Please, Raikou, go to the city of Halmathan and find them. Archaidous is an elf wizard. Tonel is a human priest. An archer priest. Hard to find those. He reveres the Sky Archer. Please find them and tell them to get out of that place.

    To leave immediately. Once you have made contact with them, have them reach me.


    And so, with teary good byes, you took off on top of your faithful friend, Cyrus the elemntal as Alsira and Severna swam below on hippocampi, astride the surf and foam of the sea until they stopped less than a mile away from an imposing dock filled with ships.

    "That's where the humans live. Their port.""

    "Choralia says we should not get close, Raikou. Besides, we wouldn't fare well on land. Go have some fun out there and make sure you return soon, ok?""

    The sirine sisters dive with their steeds below the waves and you bid Cyrus to take you as close as possible, at the highest of speeds.

    The smell of fish wafts through your nose as the masts of these beautiful vessels bid you good bye and you calmly soar above them all, catching more than a few with their jaws dropped as you wonder if they have ever seen a mage riding his familiar before...

    And then, the City of Halmathan:



    What the... who build this place? Humans? Are they as resourceful? The ones back home are nomads. An achievement in engineering and architecture back home is pitching a sand storm proof tent.

    And this place extends for miles and miles. How many people live here? By the gods... how the hell are you going to find those two here?

    Alert! Intruder detected!

    An intruder? Where...oh. It must be you they are talking about, but who is...

    That's when a shadow covers you and Cyrus as you look up and watch something breaking from the clouds:



    The hell? This thing is as big as a whale, but whales can't fly and they are definitely not made of metal.

    You wave at the airborne monstrosity and are about to state your name when a single cannon aims at you, not unlike those seen in opirate ships, but much bigger.

    And then, without giving you a chance to explain yourself, the blast.

    You were hit once by a fire giant back home. A war hammer wreathed in fire, straight for your ribs.

    That sensation would be welcome any day when compared to the massive blow suffered by this one single blast from that ship, as the explosion deafens you for a few seconds and Cyrus does his best to hold you as both are shot miles across the vast city and you barely can keep your eyes open as everything becomes a blur of buildings, roofs, a wall... people? Who knows by this point, but Cyrus is not able to stop your fall as he does his best to have you fall on the softer possible surface.


    @Isobel: Tristram... what did he mean? Has Runestone finally fallen to Connor's zealotry? Is he going to be okay?

    Donna barks at you, but you keep your thoughts swirling around your head and then...

    It's a meteor that knocks you over at least twenty feet, carving a trench on the street and knocking several bystanders on the ground as Donna barks louder and a couple of goats panic and bleat and bite their ropes, scampering free and as far away from this as possible.

    Your head feels dizzy... and there is a weight on you. Not your conscience, though...

    A halfling!



    Who is this guy and why has he crashed directly into you? You are lucky there is only scrapes and bruises- no internal bleeding or broken bones.

    The same cannot be said for him, who manages to smile with one eye shut and turned into a purple knot.

    He isn't alone, however:



    An air elemental... you are acquainted with these. As a druid, you have come to summon a few back in the day. They are the most pure manifestation of the Natural World and its four building blocks taken life and free will.

    This still doesn't answer how this guy fell on you.

    The crowd is visibly scared. They have seen weird stuff happen here, but a fiery halfling drop from the sky?

    That's a first.

    @Raikou: That's... that's the best they got? Pansies.

    But where are you? Is this still the City? Cyrus is close by and a large riding dog snarls at both of you as you look up at your cushion.



    Maybe you died and went to Heaven, after all. Shortest mission ever.

    @The Party: Whether at the House of Knowledge, the Bitter Coffee or scheming at Swift's, you all hear the commotion in the streets.

    Something big has gone down.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Titan in the Playground
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    @Ketra: Soss and his temper.

    That kid had to be gagged once when he was about to shout to one of the Eyes in the Sky back in Halmathan when Connor banned flight for everyone.

    His heart may be in the right place, but that doesn't mean it may not be removed by those who most likely not share his loud views on, well...pretty much everything.

    Still, a punk as he may be, given the new place he lives in, he must've taken a Wild West approach here and for someone like him, that means a swift death.

    You need to find this Seti guy. If he has knowledge of your friend, then you have no other choice but brave The Mercy. The district is huge and although you could glide from building to building and get a good view of the streets below, you cannot see inside them.

    Hiding in this concrete jungle is way too easy for anyone.

    Eoil corks the bottle and hands you the brief letter with his signature.

    "Seti and his friends... they meet somewhere in the Mercy, but going alone will not end well for you. This guy has clout. He is known and liked by his people. Find him and you may get access to the information. I know he is a local at The Bitter Coffee, so chances are you can find him there.""

    So at least you have a lead. That place was mentioned many times by the Mercyfolk. A pub of sorts. The only one named and known by the populace at large.

    Worth a shot.

    Then there's the arms dealer Eoil wants you to investigate. Who knows where this guy is, but you can probably get a name and a face before taking off. Make it nice and easy.

    And that's when the loud crash and bang can be heard a few blocks away, causing Eoils' cellar to shake and several of his valuable baubles to fall off the wall.

    "What the hell was that? An earthquake? No. That sounded like a... hmmm. Ketra! We are done here. I have to close shop and would rather be alone when I do that.

    Be safe.""

  9. - Top - End - #9
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    Bella makes the sort of wheezing noise one makes when a ballistic halfling knocks the wind out of them.
    huh, so that's what that sounds like.

    Gathering her wits sluggishly she taps the living projectile on the shoulder carefully

    "Pardon, but are you alright? I only ask because if the answer is yes I wouldn't mind you getting off me so I can stand, otherwise... Well I'll see what I can do"
    Spoiler: Games I'm a part of
    Show

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanBruce
    Nana pats your hand and gives you a wink.

    "You do what you have to, kid. Just don't get in any trouble, ok?""

    The man shakes profusely as he places three gold coins on the table and gets up too fast, holding onto the table as the whisky runs its course through his bowels and threatens to resurface, something nobody is eager to witness so early.

    Thankfully, he composes himself with a loud belch, tips his hat to Nana and moves with a bumbling pace, leaving The Bitter Coffee and hitting the streets.

    Something is odd, though:

    You can swear you heard some jostling from this man. Something tucked beneath his coat. A stolen bottle, maybe?
    And on that note, I’ll just head off to the latrine, and then be off. I think I am quite late enough as it is. he says sliding off his stool as the jacketed man exits. Thanks again for the Coffee, Kye. he with a wry smile as he heads off to the head. Once near the door to the latrine, and out of sight he makes a quick change.

    Jib'syr'ree he whispers puling a chipped ceramic mug from a pocket in his belt. With a thought the clothes he wears begin to shift and twist until his former attire has become nothing more than rags and tatters. Another thought and his appearance blurs for a moment before settling upon a new visage, an older looking and weather worn face with leathery looking and pocked skin and scraggly beard. Another whispered word, ““Veng'jow and his belt of pouches disappears being replaced by an old knotted twist of ash stained rope.

    Spoiler: Disguised
    Show


    His disguise in place he quickly makes his way out of the Coffee and into the street looking left and right for “hat and coat” as he stumbles and limps his way into the morning air towards Hope's Caress Hall of Justice. Trying to scrounge some change from anyone he encounters along the way; Mercy on you, few coppers; spare some coins, coppers for a cripple?

    That’s when he heard a large crashing sound, sounding like it came from the market.

    Spoiler: rolls
    Show

    Disguise - (1d20+28)[47]
    Profession Beggar - (1d20+10)[29]

  11. - Top - End - #11
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    When Raikou first comes upon the massive metropolis his eyes widen with amazement. He had seen villages and small towns before, but nothing on this immense scale. The buildings here seemed to stretch for miles and miles with hardly an end in sight. What these humans had done here was nothing short of breath-taking.

    Of course, that would make his task here a bit more difficult. Where in this massive city could those two be?

    He and Cyrus rise quickly into the air and they begin to fly over the city. His thoughts and amazement are suddenly interrupted by a strange voice. The halfling turns to look at this giant metal flying monstrosity.

    Huh...? What the heck is that?

    Then he sees the cannon aimed right at him.

    Uh oh...

    Raikou and his familiar barely have time to react before a massive blast send both of them hurtling across Hamalthan.

    When he finally regains consciousness he opens his non-swollen eye and once the World around him stops spinning, he begins to take note of his surroundings. If the city he had seen before was an impressive feat of engineering and ingenuity, this place was a dump. The houses here were run-down, crumbling, and in many cases had been completely burned to a cinder.

    He then sees Cyrus, who is currenlty and somewhat nervously eying a rather aggressive-looking dog.

    Finally, he looks at all the people gathered around him and he realizes he is currently sitting on something...

    With a quick hop, he steps off of Isobel and moves closer to his familiar.

    Really sorry about that, I do appreciate you cushioning my landing though. How rude, I was just flying above the city minding my own business when all of a sudden some giant metal flying behemoth comes out of a cloud and blasts me. And boy did that hurt.

    Seriously, I think I've been hit by fire giants that hurt less than that.

    Anyways, hi there. My name is Raikou and this little airhead is Cyrus.


    He gestures to his familiar before turning back to the human cushion with a big friendly smile.

    What's your name? Are you okay? And where is this place? Am I still in Hamalthan? This looks different than the place I was flying over earlier. Also... do you know where I can find Archadious Mithmironel and Tonel Carth?
    "Now you'll see some real magic!"

    Raikou Stormborn Thunder Incarnate and his elemental familiar Cyrus

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Titan in the Playground
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    @Aren: It's been a few weeks since your arrival to The Mercy.

    The City of Power has been seized by a Cuthbertine, that much has been clear to you from the information given by the locals. Grand Inquisitor Connor of the Cudgel now holds the power of a King in one of Oerth's strongest kingdoms.

    And this has not gone unnoticed by other nations.

    Maybe it's the fact that you don't like followers of the Cudgel as much. Yes, you and them show a devotion to the Law and Order, but in your tenure as inquisitor, you have seen more than a fair share of them- on both sides of the fence, mind you- take on a dangerously zealous streak.

    Thankfully, those that demonstrated such inclinations were shut down quickly. Many of them did not have the power to stand up and mete out their own version of Justice before the manacles came upon them.

    But here... here it's a different story altogether- this guy has access to the military, both mundane and arcane. On top of that, some churches have said to pay fealty to him and lend their own support, having armies of their own.

    And this why you are here, basically: to verify if the representative of the Archpaladin in Halmathan, Sir Randolph Brunhausser has indeed taken sides with this Grand Inquisitor and if so, find out why.

    And once you find out why, well... you'll have to figure something afterwards.

    But Sir Randolph is not in The Mercy. People know his name, that is true, but in this part of town, his name is but a whisper in the wind. Few here have made it past that Wall of Separation and some couldn't care at all about the city's religious figures when they have more immediate problems of their own here.

    Lawlessness, banditry, theft, extortion... and that's on a good day.

    The Raptoran community is something new for you. Back home, you barely saw one, maybe two.

    Now they have flocked in here, flying in droves from the city. Why? Who knows, but you didn't bother with them before, why start getting chummy with them now.

    The Mercy is not entirely devoid of good honest people, thankfully.

    The ilumian Kyrich, or as his fellows refer to him as Githslayer Kyrich has given you a room in the run down building he and his mates claim as their own, not too far from a modest little building, new in comparison to the crumbling structures around, known as the House of Knowledge.

    These ilumians, the Githslayers, they belong to some Order, but none which you have heard of. Kyrich says they have the rank of knights and have devoted themselves to protect their race's most valued treasures.

    Why they are in The Mercy, with so few in number and how long they intend to stay... these things the ilumians aren't saying, but clearly, these men of arms and great strength would make for brave paladins of Heironeous.

    At least you are protected while with them. You have already seen enough petty theft in the streets under broad daylight to know that nobody is truly safe here. Maybe if Sir Randolph were here, he could put a stop to it, like any follower of the Archpaladin, but he hasn't shown his face in The mercy in years... and probably never will.

    The closest thing to a religious figure here- besides you, of course, would be Rothen of Suel:



    Like you, Rothen is not from Halmathan, but like his namesake, he's Suloise. This hunter was called from such far away land by the acting religious figure in The Mercy, Father Borazon the Merciful, Halmathan's religious representative in this district.

    It would seem that Rothen and Kyrich have established a friendship of sorts. For one, Rothen is a close friend to the missing church head.

    Kyrich has hinted that he and Borazon underwent a mission not too long ago, but he has refrained from divulging more.

    Rothen has taken to your appearance here as a blessing. The man has no knowledge of how to run a church and he has been pressured by the City to establish one in The Mercy.

    Truth be told, where could a church be built here? Unless you were to kick out squatters from some building, the Mercy has no safe open areas to build such a lofty temple, something that Rothen is always quick to correct.


    It's a mission, not a church. The Merciful Father was very clear about that. He does not wish to build something pretentious and lavish here.


    And so, in this particular morning, you find yourself with Kyrich and Rothen scouting areas around the marketplace as Senerain Blach, one of Rpthen's close friends and a follower of Phaulkon, walks up to all of you and shows you a glass vial with brackish water in it.

    "Good morning, Aren, Kyrich. Rothen, it's not good: I thought the Green Meadows residential area might have some potable water, good ground to build in, but look.""

    Senerain shakes the vial a little and the water fizzles inside.

    "Without a proper lab or someone to run tests, I can tell by gut instinct that we are walking on poisoned land. We need to get the druids of Glenndale to come here and cleanse it before we even think about building anything.""

    Rothen looks up at the sky as his pet falcon flies over head, always keeping watch.

    "Tell that to Dalpinian. He has been making my life a living hell since Borazon disappeared. He insists that a church needs to be built immediately.""

    "Well, have you told him about the poisoned water? This place is not fit for anyone to live here. It's a miracle these folk are alive and healthy.""

    Kyrich is about to say something when he points at the sky and Rothen's falcon screeches and evades a ball of fire that lands several hundred feet, right in the middle of the market place.

    Rothen looks at you and Senerain and then at the explosion.

    "We'll discuss that later. Let us go see what's happening over there. The last thing I need is for Connor's people coming here and asking questions."


    @Seti: Kyle listens to your not so subtle commentary about your destination and raises an eyebrow.

    "Restroom sounds a lot better than latrine.""

    He may be right, but the bathroom at the Bitter Coffee is not exactly a hallmark of sanitation.

    A jagged shard serves as a mirror on the wall and the toilet has been clogged recently, with a small window that is not enough to dismiss the smell as a parade of cockroaches tread quickly around your boots.

    You look at your reflection in the mirror and think of a million possibilities:

    What will you be today?

    If you were to pull this trick in Halmathan, chances are you'd be in shackles the moment you uttered the first word but here?

    Here, you are free to do as you wish and this becomes quite clear as your appearance becomes disheveled and your clothes ragged. Wrinkles form around your face and your back humps just a tad, not too much so as to seem forced, but enough to compel the idea of a man weighed down by his own miseries in life.

    Nana Rose doesn't even notice you walk out but Kyle sure notices a different person leaving the bathroom, something that does not draw much of his attention as he gets about to work making more coffee.

    And so, you pick a spot outside the Mercy Pub and rattle a rusty mug, asking for help, any kind of help.

    In coin form, preferably.

    It's a single silver that drops in the mug as you look up and watch Senerain, one of the priest's lackeys nod quickly and tighten her purse as she rushes past you with Rothen, the massive Kyrich Githslayer and a Raptoran girl.

    Most likely one of the new feathered folk that flocked from the City.

    The crowd has gathered around and smoke rises from the ground as Rothen and his posse make their way through it. You are about to go check for yourself when that man from the Bitter Coffee is seen way back in the crowd trying to get a better look...

    That's when someone butts into him, being pushed from another bystander, causing the man in the hat to look at him.

    "Watch it, you punk!""

    That is no punk. Direct in his approach and yet subtle enough not to get noticed:



    That's Drakan, perhaps one of the last few Olidammarans left in the entire city.

    "You watch it! And real nice: drinking so early. Great role model!""

    The people around him turn around at Drakan's words as the man is about to respond, but stays his tongue and walks further away, deeper into The mercy.

    "That's right, walk away, drunkie! Alright, guys let me see what's going on here.""

    Drakan is not one to just bump into people unless he's drunk. And even if he's drunk, there's always some part of his mind that is always sharp and very attentive.

    In other words, that was no accident.

    But what to do? That guy is walking steadily away from the crowd. You could follow him or go check out what happened.

    @Isobel: Maybe this guy got hit harder than you thought... what is he talking about?

    Thing is: he isn't getting up and the people gathered around are really getting into your personal space as Donna barks at them.


    Are you alright?


    It's Rothen, the Phaulkonite and de facto church leader of The Mercy. The young man extends his hand for you to get up.

    "Alright, everyone! Nothing to see here! Get back to your shopping.""

    The crowd is quick to react.

    Ooooh! If it isn't Connor's pet!

    That leash still tight?

    The Inquisitor Cometh!


    Rothen sighs and smiles despite the clear attacks directed at him.

    "Are you alright, madam?""

    @Raikou: You start spinning your tale when a massive hand reaches out and grabs your head and lifts you off the woman and places you on the ground.

    Ready to blast the idiot to kingdom come, you realize it's some kind of bald giant decked in armor, ready for a fight by the looks of it.

    "You're hurt. You have any way to treat those wounds?""

    A black haired warrior crosses her arms and looks at you.

    "And hide? Because that would be a good idea.""


    There is another in the crowd that stands out from the rest: a bird woman. You have seen these before, back in the Ossian Way.

    Harpies... never a good sign. Where did Choralia sent you, anyway?

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Travis paces to clear his head of the nightmare. After washing his face, he heads to the House of Knowledge. Holding his quarterstaff at the ready, he tries to keep a sharp eye out on the way. Not that I'm afraid, but being jumped would be embarrassing.

    Along the way he thinks about what spells to prepare this morning. He'd seen women choosing clothing to wear by trying on various items in front of a mirror, and thinks of a wizard choosing his spells as much the same process.

    Soon he is there, and greeted by Sister Hannah. Ah, she is a pleasant sight at least! "Good morning, Hannah! Michael! No problems, and it'd take more than a few chickens to bother me, though I may yet take you up on the offer Hannah."

    "The missing ... No, it's not normal, even for here. Probably there is a single force behind many of these disappearances."


    He examines the board closely, looking for names of anyone he knows well. I should prepare a scrying spell and try to find one of these people, if they are still alive. But I would need a team to attempt any rescue. Michael? No; perhaps he knows some spells to fight with but to endanger a friend would be foolish. I am not going down that road again ...

    Suddenly he hears a crash or something outside. What the hell now?

    "Wait here. I'm going to look." He goes out to try to see what happened in the direction of the market.

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    Ketra takes the letter and tucks it away safely in her pack, ever-so-slightly buried so as to not be visible. No sense in making it a target for pickpockets. "Thank you, Eoil. Again. May our mutually-beneficial relationship continue. I'll let you know when I-" The sudden jarring noise startles Ketra, causing her wings to ruffle to fly- not that it's possible in the cramped cellar. When he ushers her out, she nods. "Of course, take care, I'll be seeing what that is." Rushing out, she takes a quick flight up to the nearest rooftop, gaining some altitude to try and see if she can find the source of the noise.
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    @Travis: Getting jumped in this place is way too easy.

    Without actual law enforcement, someone getting robbed and gutted in view of everyone has become the norm. yes, there are so called "warlords"and "vigilantes"that, for a price, make sure that doesn't happen...

    Because if you don't pay, they are the ones who will rob and gut you, so being extra careful helps, even in broad daylight.

    But once at the House of Knowledge, you breathe a sigh of relief. Sister Hannah told you once how Sarjon sent people to burn the place down, but with his death, none have attempted to do that.

    Still, she has been living here longer than you. It's only a matter of time before some thug with a big stick knocks on the door and demands protection money.

    And it is because of that reason and many others, that Hannah is more than grateful that you and Michael are here- thugs in the Mercy are stupid. They know how to use a blade, but display a few flashy spells, and rare is the brigand that will stick around to find out how the incantation ends.

    But thugs are the least of your concerns now- people are missing. And a lot more than the usual rate here. Yes, you could Divine the location of one of these many disappeared and find him or all of them.

    If your hunch is right, this isn't a disparate operation. Someone is behind them all, but at this point, it's wild speculation and who to bring along for that?

    Sister Hannah is well intentioned, but she's a teacher. Raised as one. Her dedication to the school should remain here. Out there, fighting these thugs...

    The Mercy would lose a good person.

    Michael is capable on his own, yes. As versed in the arcane as you- maybe a little less. Still, you are not losing friends again after that ghoul ambush.

    This district has a lot of bad seeds, but there are a few who are fighting the good fight. If you could get ahold of them, maybe... just maybe.

    And then the ruckus and cries from the market.

    Something went down.

    Michael gets up from his desk and pockets his spell book as he walks with you outside the school and watches the commotion several hundred feet away.

    "Be safe, Travis. We are very close, ok?""

    The crowds of people make it very difficult to get a clear view of what's going on, but a thin trail of smoke can be seen emerging from the center.

    What is clear is that whatever fell in The Mercy, must've flown at high speeds, since you can see a ditch carved on the ground at least twenty feet in length.


    @Ketra: Eoil has to make sure his trinkets don't fall off the walls as he turns to look at you and smiles.

    "You get me that name, Ketra, and I will have a lot more jobs for you. You have my word.""

    Tucking the letter in your pocket, you leave the cramped cellar and take in the direction of the noise, noticing quite the group of people gathered around the market. Many are booing someone as a healthy gout of smoke begins to dissipate in the air.

    You need to get a better view.

    It's a bundled pile of trash overflowing an old trashcan that serve as a jumping point as you bend your knees and keep your eyes locked on a window sill several feet above you.

    With a grunt, you take off and hold on to the ledge and waste no time to jump to another sill in the opposite building. If you had the chance to fly like your mother, this would be much easier, but as it stands, ricocheting between towers will have to do.

    And so, once you find yourself a good thirty feet high, you hold on to an old lion head made ornament, now a nest for pigeons and covered in their caked droppings and look down on the crowd.

    A bunch of beggars and other miscreants are gradually parting ways from a small crater on the ground.

    A human lady in robes is being helped up by a hunter. Eoil told you about him, the Mercy's Church Leader. A man by the name of Rothen.

    A halfling with an elemental very similar to Sfaer assumes a fighting stance against the slowly receding crowd. The halfling has seen better days, that's for sure- he is the source of the smoke.

    But there is someone else that catches your attention:



    A Raptoran! But wait... she's not one of your Aerie, or any flock in the city. You know every single one of them.

    This one dresses differently. Has an air about her and her trappings belie either a knight, a warrior or most likely, a secular position.

    But that is odd: no churches exist in Halmathan devoted to Tuilvilanuue...

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    Aren walks up on the scene as Kyrich picks up a wounded Halfling and sets him on the ground next to his victim. What is happening here? An attack? No, no one seems to be getting ready for a fight, at least not until the Halfling sees you. Then he strikes a fighting stance.

    You have seen enough in your time not to underestimate anyone, and he does seem to have an air elemental as a pet, familiar? Something. Rothen reaches down and helps the woman up who apparently got knocked down by whatever just passed overhead.

    “Do you see me as a threat Sir? I assure you I am not, so long as your intent is not to do harm.” The Raptoren Inquisitor looks at the woman Rothen just helped up, “But perhaps you already have….”

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    Ketra's eyes only lock on the chaos momentarily before her gaze is drawn to the other Raptoran. There's another of us here? She has to have heard about us by now, we're not exactly hidden... I have to find out who she is. Before she gets herself hurt or bound, she doesn't look like the Mercy type. Leaping from her makeshift perch, Ketra glides towards the market, attempting to land as close as she can to the crowd without landing in the middle of it all. And if things get messy... well, she'll be glad she was there.
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    Woaahh. Thanks for the assist big guy.

    Raikou begins to notice the crowds of people starting to gather around him. But he turns back to the bald knight with a confused look.

    Wait, I don't get it mister... Why would hiding be a good idea?

    He also turns to look at Aren when the Raptoran addresses him.

    A threat? No no. You just look a little like some harpies I've met before. Not pleasant people those ladies. But I'm sure you're not one. And I don't mean anyone harm. This incident here... well, I had a bit of trouble controlling my descent. Some metal monster flew out of a cloud and blasted me what feels like halfway across the World.

    I'm here to find two people though, an Archadious and some human named Tonel... heard of them?
    Last edited by Niwrad; 2017-01-25 at 03:11 AM.
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    Seti slowly makes his way through the crowd, tripping and limping along towards the centre while thinking to himself; Leave it to Draken to sharp my mark. As much as I would love to follow the Tipsy Hatter, it'll have to wait. It would be too conspicuous now, that he is peeling off on his own, with most of the crowd still here, I'd have scant cover. Besides I am Late. I'll catch up with Draken at the Coffee later and see if he knows anything about our mutual 'friend'. In the mean time I should gather as much info about this disturbance, so I at least have something of value to report once I reach the court, and can always use it as a resealable excuse for my tardiness.

    He takes up the people's cries of disdain at seeing Rothen and tries to take stock of everyone assembled; "Ole Cutter's traded his cudgel for a bow, come to bleed us from far!" he yells limping closer so as to be able to get a clear look.
    A Halfling?!, no wonder he couldn't see what the commotion was about through the crowd, there at the heart of all the commotion was an eclectic assemblage of people, a smoking, singed, Halfling, a robed woman, a swirl of air and debris some type of magical beast or spell, a very big dog -- would make a small family happy for at least a few days, 'Mercy meat', beggars can't be choosers as they say. The Suloise Rothen and Senerain , no surprise there, although the woman was much prettier than people had mentioned, but a many viper beguiles with its beautiful colours. There was a Raptoran, but she had a different cut to her than those recently taking roost here, a hardness, a determination, for some reason she reminded Seti of the watch, defiantly an outsider. Just as he was about to limp a little closer to better hear what they were all saying, another Raptoran came gliding in.
    Last edited by TankLaser007; 2017-01-25 at 03:32 AM.

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    "Um, Isobel" Bella replies to Raikou before replying to Rothan as he helps her to her feet "And yes, I'm fine thank you. My, it certainly is lively today, what's going on?"

    Bella pats her dog to reassure him and looks around in confusion
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    Travis replies "Thanks Michael. I will be fine. Just keep yourself and Hannah safe, in case the trouble is not confined to the market."

    He considers casting a few defensive spells, but absent a definite threat, decides that it is best to keep them in reserve for later.

    He makes his way through the crowd towards whatever meteorite must have shot from the sky, only to discover that it appears to be a halfling. With an air elemental ... that tough little guy is a caster.

    He also notes the others who chose to move towards, rather than away from, the source of the commotion. Raptorans in the Mercy, I might have expected. These are all brave folks ... hmm ... Wait, a metal monster in the sky? I don't like the sound of that!

    He approaches. "Hello there! Uh, welcome to the Mercy, meteor man. I am Travis. I would very much like to know more about what just happened. Perhaps we could talk about it over coffee? Also, if any of you are would-be heroes, there is a matter that I would like to discuss."
    Last edited by kinem; 2017-01-25 at 10:17 PM.

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    @Aren: You watch Senerain flip a silver to the beggar and smile at the Arcanamach.

    Not many people here have the coin to be giving it away like that and yet, heavily taxed and living in subpar conditions, this warrior woman does not hesitate to help a man in need.

    Your smile turns to a tight lipped concern as your training as Inquisitor to the Archpaladin kicks in and something tells you immediately that there is an illusion shrouding that beggar.

    That posture. Those rags. The wrinkles... not of that is real. An elaborate make up, to be sure, but alas, as you move away from him, you are unable to make out who hides behind the mask.

    Is it a caster? Most likely. Senerain did mention that many wizards fled here and hid amongst the Mercyfolk. She might have just shown kindness to some corrupt mage...

    But let us not get ahead in passing judgement. Your race already attracts attention- you don't need zealous fingers and lofty accusations thrown around.

    Not here, at least.


    @Ketra: So a burning halfling, a human woman who has been knocked to the ground, the Mercy's own priest and priestess and ...

    A Raptoran. Definitely not one from your Aerie or any other in the City.

    Why is this one here? Has she gone mad?

    And so, the mob accusing Rothen of Suel is caught by surpriuse as you land a few feet away from the crowded group and display your wings as Rothen gives you a nod as he helps the lady back on her feet.



    "I had heard of a raptoran community making a home for themselves here. A few weeks ago. Pleased to finally make your acquaintance. I am Rothen of...""

    he voice keep chiming in.

    ...The Cudgel!

    The Inquisitor with a bow!

    And with Holy thugs, no less!



    @Aren: She simply landed amidst the protesters... a leader type? Time will tell. One thing is for certain:

    They don't like priests here. Rothen and Senerain follow Phaulkon, a good of the skies and birds. A god who preaches freedom, but the people's attitude here towards him is one that you;d be getting if they knew who you really are and what you do for a living.

    Rothen raises his hands, showing that he carries no weapons and does a quick 360 turn so everyone gets to see him.

    "Please, I mean no harm. Return to your shopping. We will handle this...""


    @Seti: You are effectively another face in the crowd. None of those big shots could ever tell who you really are and so, taking a cue from the crowd, you utter some words of your own. Might as well play the part as good as you can.

    There are two things that disperse the crowd.

    One is Senerain reaching for her great sword and gripping the handle as she begins to unsheathe the blade, having a few rays of sun cast a blinding glean around her.

    "You heard the man... scram.""

    Rothen may not be as strong willed as his Suloise friend. He is certainly a good shot with the bow, but when it comes down to the masses, he is not suited for this.

    And this is where his colleague from Suel shines, driving several peddlers away.

    There is something else that disperses the mob: something you said. Can't point out what, but the eldest amongst the mob of people have turned pale as they walk away, looking back at the large group.

    With most of the crowd gone, you loiter around a kiosk, several feet away, but at good earshot range.

    Why give away your position and identity, after all? Although it is unlikely any of them can figure out who you are.

    @Isobel: Rothen waits until you have gotten back on your feet and gives a slight bow.

    "Sorry that you got to be target practice, Isobel. We will not bother you anymore. The market is still in one piece... mostly. I am sure the vendors will track their runaway goats.

    Have a nice day."


    @Raikou: You pat your self and clean your robes as Isobel's Riding Dog sniffs you and licks the side of your face as he wags his tail and barks loudly.

    And then you tell the story on how you got here. Something that Rothen, Senerain and the giant bald guy who lifted you off Isobel are quick to respond:

    "You got shot by the Eyes in the Sky. We were told that those things have massive weaponry attached to them.""

    Senerain looks up at the sky and clenches her fist.

    "That is something I can vouch for really well... and yet, Raikou, you survived. And you said you were looking for?""

    @The Party (whether in disguise and hiding or not): Senerain looks at Rothen, who looks at her and then at the massive Kyrich. Something about the names mentioned by the halfling have not settled well with these three.

    @Raikou: Rothen walks up to you and places his hand on your shoulder and looks you straight in the eyes.

    "Now, more than ever, do I believe firmly that keeping you hidden here in The Mercy is the best course of action.""

    @Travis: You muster your confidence to step forward as the crowd has largely dispersed and clear your throat, addressing all gathered- raptorans, halfling, elemental, ilumian and human.



    A human, by the looks of it, but dressed like an adventurer. Not much meat on his bones, though. Maybe a rogue?

    Senerain looks at you and listens to what you have to say.

    "Hello, Travis. I don't believe I have seen you before...""

    Kyrich places his hand on Senerain's shoulder and looks at you.

    "But I have. He cares little for the Inquisitor beyond the Wall of Separation and is a good man, teaching the people here at Keéra's school. I vouch for him...

    And I vouch for Aren as well. I trust you two will know what to do. Take care, everyone.""

    @The Party: Rothen crosses his arms and looks at the building a few blocks away and then back at Raikou, Travis and Aren.

    "I'd rather not discuss this at the Bitter Coffee. Raikou, we're taking you to a safe place. There, we can talk. Travis, since Kyrich has put the good word for you, I see no reason why you could not sit down and talk about this. You are a mage. Runestone? If so, you might be able to help.""

    Rothen then looks at Isobel and Ketra. Seti, being so well disguised, goes utterly unnoticed.

    "I do not mean to take off your busy schedules. I heard the raptorans have settled in just fine. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to come and talk to either me or Senerain, please.

    Isobel, sorry that you got thrown on your back. It will not happen again.""

    He then looks at Travis and then at Aren and Raikou.

    "Pleas lead the way.""

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    Isobel's face sets as she is dismissed "Now hang on one moment" she hisses quietly moving to keep up "I think if the eyes are firing into the Mercy we have a right to know what's going on and why, don't you think?"
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    Raikou glances at Isobel and attempts to assure her.

    Oh don't worry Bell. The... whatchamacallit... the Eyes in the Sky? Wasn't firing into this place.

    I just happened to be flying and it hit me so hard I crashed here.... So yeah. You got nothing to worry about.


    The halfling grins uneasily.
    Then he turns and follows Kyrich
    "Now you'll see some real magic!"

    Raikou Stormborn Thunder Incarnate and his elemental familiar Cyrus

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    Bella narrows her eyes at the halfling
    "... fine, if you say so" she decides finally, "but only because I have other things to worry about today. Nice to meet you anyway"

    Bella sighs and calls Donna to heel before heading off to the Coffee, thoughts of milk and eggs gone from her head.
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    So this Halfling is looking for a "Archadious" and "Tonel" and seems like the Suloise and this Kyrich guy know who he is looking for. I need to get to court and report this. Seti takes another quick glace at the group as they walk off trying to get an idea of where they might be going, so as to follow up should he be ordered to. He begins limping away shaking his mug with the silver piece in it as he does so and casting glances at the retreating group of the Halfling, Githslayer, and the two Suloise. He makes a mental note of this "Travis" should he need to follow up on him, he seemed rather eager to speak with the group, seemed ready to possibly pitch some type of work. Might be a useful contact.

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    Ketra had obviously flown into a mess. She recognized Rothen, but he was interrupted before she could offer her own greetings in turn. In truth, she was a bit stunned by... whatever had happened here, and waited to gauge the situation before getting a word in edgewise. As things began to slow down, and Rothen offers his support, Ketra gives a slight bow, her wings drawn back to indicate trust. "Thank you. Should you need any allies in the sky in return, send a message to our aerie at the Royal Wyvern apartments. My name is Ketra, either direct your message to me or Celitas, our current leader."

    Her next target of address was to the unfamiliar Raptoran. "Excuse me... um, I didn't catch your name. What are you doing here in the Mercy? I know you aren't from here or the city proper, I would at least of heard of you if you had... and I really have no idea why one of our kind would come here willingly under the circumstances. If you need somewhere safe to stay, you're welcome at our aerie."
    Last edited by Syless; 2017-01-26 at 02:30 PM.
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    Aren nods to Kyrich in acknowledgment of his endorsement, “Thank you Sir Kyrich.” The she turns to the Raptoren and stands tall in a soldierly manner addressing her in Tuilvilanuue, “It is good to meet you…. Lady Ketra? I’m sorry, I don’t know the correct form of address.” While the words are correct, the accent is thick, and the grammar is as though Aren learned it from a book. Which in act she did. Not only that, her body language and mannerisms seem odd, not just foreign, but alien to an avian’s body.

    “I am not from the City, as you have guessed, nor am I from Hopes Caress. I come from a good ways away.” Aren looks upward as though hoping to see others roosted on the buildings above. “I am Aren," she leaves off the usual title she would add to her name in the interest of discretion. There are undoubtedly prying ears about, "you say you wonder why I might come here willingly, do you mean to say you were brought here unwillingly?” Aren narrows her eyes at Ketra, but can find no signs of magic or mischief about her.

    “I am glad to meet you, Lady Ketra, perhaps, if I find the time, I will come to vist you. I have not spent time with others like myself. It would be interesting to see how your lives and worship is ordered.” Aren inclines her head to Ketra, if she were human, it would be taken as a polite but reserved gesture. In the armored Raptoren, it is hard to be sure that is what she meant.
    Last edited by Frendle; 2017-01-26 at 10:49 PM.

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    Ketra smiles at the sound of her mother tongue, despite the oddness to how she spoke. Nonetheless, she responds in kind. "It's nice to meet you, Aren. And just Ketra, no formality, no title. I do what I do and people listen to me because I can protect them."

    The girl seems to evade her question about her purpose, but Ketra lets it slide. No need to pry in the Mercy. "We... recently left the city under bad circumstances. We're hoping we can head back before long, but while the, um, leadership is as it is, we'll remain here. While you're always welcome to visit, you'll find our worship situation a bit insufficient- our shrine to Tuilviel Glithien was forcibly dismantled and we were unable to salvage anything before our move, and we don't really have anyone in the way of true clergy. But come by whenever you'd like."
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    @Seti: With all these blokes around, there is no way you;re getting any good info or bauble.

    You could perhaps, maybe, get the jump on one of them alone, but as it stands and with all the attention that halfling has drawn to himself...

    You have a Society Meeting to attend anyway.

    The people go about their business in The Mercy, as usual- which includes making a quick coin. In a sense, many of the people in the district as a whole fulfill the roles laid out in The Society's charter, but the group was never organized enough to round people out in the street and tell them what to do and not to do?

    Has it happened in a more private manner? Yes. Some poor fool decided to take on a few desperadoes and began messing with the Gardeners’ Guild once, taking on their name and activities as their own.

    You heard they were given a choice- join the Guild or leave The Mercy. Whether these idiots paid attention, who knows. The Society is spread out so much in the district that crew members often gravitate to another faction and then bank on the successes of both sides, usually without one side ever getting wise to the move.

    But if they do... watch out. Better have a big stick close by. Which, if the stories are to be believed, is how Boss Sarjon came to be the undisputed leader of The Mercy for several years and strong armed many members of The Society in the process.

    The entrance to the old building has the Society flag flapping against the wind and, although you cannot se them, a few brigands are sure to be hiding amidst the ruined houses leading to the meeting.

    Chances are they have been tailing you for a few blocks already. That's one thing The Society gets done right- security and surveillance.

    By the time you reach the ruined building, the hat has worn off and only your beggar trappings remain, but you do know the codes inside and if anyone jumps in to stop you, a few well placed words should allow you entry to the meeting room.

    What used to be a grand office for judges back in its hey day, is now a broken mess of chairs, a large uneven table and sprayed graffiti of the Society's symbol on the walls.

    The heads of each guild are seated with their most trusted m,en lounging behind them, hands in their belts, ready to draw a weapon in the odd case things goy ugly.

    Spooner turns around the moment he listens to your footsteps and finishes a swig from his earthen mug as the rest of the Society watches you come in.

    "You are late, boy. I hope it was worth it.""

    There is one amongst these unsavory medley that at least lightens up the mood amidst cheap cigar smoke and contraband liqueur:



    Sedge Bonney, The Ambassadress. Rarely is this neutral party invited to Society Meetings, but her counsel is sought out by every faction leader. Her knowledge of the working inside and outside The Mercy are invaluable.

    It's the Bitter Boys & Girls Club leader, Coco "Lean Eye" Lucciani, who starts the meeting as he nods to all those present.

    "My crew is losing clout in the market place. They claim that Drakan has been taking and taxing from all items hard gained by my men. I want to know who here hired that son of a bitch and I want my cut. If I don't get my cut in coin...""

    The others look at Lean Eye and laugh.

    "What are you going to demand.. your pound of flesh?""

    "He's a lone agent. Nobody here has him as hired muscle. Don't make your problem ours. Besides, the market is open to everyone. We have bigger issues at hand here.""

    Benny "Fat Boy" Gamboa, of The Fraternal Order of Cobblers puts out his cigar and looks at all of you.

    "I lost my men a few nights ago. Not too far from here. No bodies. No trails. Nothing. I have families to feed now that are coming out of my own pocket. So yeah, I am making this issue everyone's issue. I know we have had our differences in the past, but we are civilized, goddammit! Keep the kills outside The Society.""


    The group goes into whispered murmurs, but Sedge remains quiet as she looks around at the ceiling and the possible exits before one of the other leaders, Frank "Bagels" Brancaccio of The Office of the Watch chimes in.

    "You want extra coin? Tax the newcomers. The Raptorans from Halmathan have flocked in and settled in the Wyvern Apartments. I heard they made a deal with that twitch elf Eoil Swift to get their wings unbound. They probably don't know the rules here, so if you want your money so bad, get their cut.. but I must remind you:

    That building is under my supervision, so I get ten points, which is quite fair, if I do say so myself.""


    Benny Gamboa nearly chokes at Frank's suggestion.

    "You got guts, you know that? That building is on the border of your turf, not in it. So it's... who owns that part? Spooner?""

    Your mentor was just about to refill his glass when he's brought back to the now and looks at the other thugs.

    "It's not my area. Truth be told, it's not really claimed, but... I can have someone go talk to their leader. Just hand me the info after the meeting.""

    Spooner looks at you and lowers his voice.

    "You got this one, right?""

    The rest of the meet revolves around money. Always the money. There may not be much in coin to be had- over the years after the Great Fire, the Mercy became a looter's paradise and it would be rare to find a building with a box of jewelry or expensive furniture.

    It is then that Coco Lucciani calls one of his guys to light his cigar.

    "I think it's about time we addressed the elephant in the room- the church.""

    Everyone stops talking amongst themselves and their eyes direct to the thug leader.

    "This guy... Rothen of Suel. I heard he was made Church Leader in the Mercy. I think, in the name of good faith, that we ought to tax him as well. For protection. The guy only has that one bitch that shadows him and he doesn't seem like a tough guy. Easily shaken.""

    It's a light chuckle from one of the chairs that causes everyone to direct their gaze to Sedge.

    "What's so funny?""

    Sedge gets up and walks around the room, checking all of you out as she places her hands in her pockets.

    "You boys and your games. It's all fun until you mess with the wrong guy. I was invited here to oversee that no silly business was thrown about.

    You want to investigate the missing people? Go for it. If I have to tell you by now how to run recon in The Mercy, then you shouldn't be here in this meeting.

    If you want to muscle Drakan and get him to give you a share of his cut? You know his name. Go knock on his door... wherever he may live.

    You want to shake down the Raptorans? I hope you can fly. Have you checked the place they live in?""

    Sedge stops and places her hands on the table as she moves forward, a ray of light falling on her face and extending her shadow over the Society's leaders.

    "But if you are that stupid to go muscle Rothen, then you are all dumber than I thought. There is a cardinal rule you all should be well acquainted with:

    Never shake a stick at someone when they have a far bigger one.""

    One of the bosses looks at her and raises an eyebrow.

    "Rothen? If you mean he has an army, you need to get your eyes checked, Sedge.""

    The Diplomat shakes her head.

    "Rothen does not have an army, true. But who do you think put him here in the first place? Halmathan's biggest crook, that's who. You start shaking up that farmer boy and we'll have a couple of Eyes looming above us before you realize what the hell happened.

    As a personal favor, I am asking that you leave Rothen of Suel out of your business. I knew his superior... he was a good man. But sentimentality aside, you'd all be committing suicide if you even think about extorting him."

    Sedge starts heading for the door when she turns to look at all of you.

    "Also, you might want to check on a rumor running around about weapons being sold. In large amounts, so I've heard.""


    And having said her piece, the Diplomat walks out of the meeting.

    The bosses wait for her to be gone when they start laughing.

    "She's getting soft and wants to scare us. Any takers to shake the farmer?""

    Spooner gets up and takes a final swig.

    "I have my own business to run. See you around and make sure you get me the names of the people to talk to. Seti, you coming or staying?""


    @Ketra: Rothen bows to you and smiles.

    "Back in Suel, my friend Borazon and I used to watch the birds fly. Our land is rich with wildlife and as a follower of Phaulkon, I have come to see them as emissaries of his divine being.

    We are all very fortunate to have you in The Mercy. Know that if you need any help setting, please do not hesitate to come and talk to either me or Senerain. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to talk to mister Raikou here.""

    @Aren: Rothen nods to you and smiles at Ketra.

    "Whenever you are ready, please join us. Have a good day, Ketra. Nice to meet you.""

    You never did have much to relate to people like Ketra. being raised as a Heironean, your duties to the Archpaladin gave you scant time to deal with matters outside the church.

    And yet, despite a life time devoted to his tenets... well, who knows how long you will be stationed here. And who knows how long before you meet Sir Randolph face to face.

    Might as well attempt to make peaceful dealings with the natives.

    @Isobel: The giant bald ilumian, Kyrich shakes his head and looks at Raikou.

    "Those things shot him, not The Mercy. You should be fine as long as you stay in this side of the wall. I will go and train a little on my own. Aren, let me know how it went.""

    And so, the crowd is dispersed and you contact Tristram about meeting you at the Bitter Coffee.

    You have been here a few times since your arrival, mainly to watch Vim perform. The pay isn't great- when you live in a slum, you can't expect gold coins to fall on your lap. You are lucky if you get enough coppers for a silver.

    The good thing is that, unlike many places in Halmathan, the Bitter Coffee is animal friendly, so Donna is welcomed by Nana Rose, who runs the joint and gives your St. Bernard a plate filled with what you can only hope is processed dog food.

    Whether it is or not, Donna eats up gladly as Kyle serves you a tall cup of coffee, on the house.

    Vim may have to have a late breakfast as an hour goes by and Tristram walks in, doing his worse to disguise himself, having donned a large straw hat and a worn out poncho...

    His runestaff, though... he has yet a lot to learn. Still, seeing family is always good, as both share a warm fraternal hug and he hands you a small bag with ten silvers.

    "Mom worries about you. She hopes you are doing well over here. Things back in the city... it isn't good. Not at Runestone definitely. Connor has really put down the hammer on us mages and is threatening to go as far as shutting down the school...and everyone inside. He is getting out of control and I doubt my school masters will take much more of it before something really bad happens.

    And so, I spoke to one of my teachers, Itharr Griswold, an abjurer who is, by chance, acquainted with some people in The Mercy. I told him about someone I know here and he asked that you help us, sister.""

    Tristram takes out a piece of parchment and shows you a detailed drawing:

    "I don't know how long you have been here, but this elf is one of ours. His name is Archaidous Mithmironel, a recent student at Runestone and one of Connor's biggest enemies.

    This mage is said to have unraveled many mysteries surrounding what is happening in the city. It is my belief that he may hold a key to actually set the city free, Isobel.

    However... master Itharr lost contact with him and his team awhile back. We have attempted to track him down through divinations, but we aren't getting any response. we haven't ruled out the fact he may be dead, but we are still clinging to hope at this point.""

    Tristram pats Donna on the head and then looks at you.

    "There is another reason why I thought of you when my teacher mentioned getting help:

    Archaidous Mithmironel is said to be involved with the Vile Rain. How? I do not know, but if you can find him, you may get your answers... and we may be that much closer from getting a break from that bastard Connor. I need to know first if you can help me with this. If you can't I will understand."

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