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  1. - Top - End - #841
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    Kett Collier
    Human Shadow Monk/Rogue
    AC: 19 HP: 52/52
    PP: 19 PIv: 13 PIs: 13
    Conditions: Darkvision (~7 hours), 6/6 Ki Remaining
    Concentrating: --

    Her nose flares ever so slightly at the idea of Danilos fetching Arano instead of her, but she didn't want to waste time arguing. Instead she 'borrows' some of the inn's stationary and pens a quick note. "There is an elf warrior guarding Arano, hand her this and she'll assist you in bringing my husband back to me. She won't trust you otherwise, it's her job not to. Read it if you care to, it's not secret." The note itself is in elven, though not for any secrecy reasons - Kett assumes that one of the two has at least a passing grasp of the language, if not fluency - it's solely because she assumes Tairil would prefer it in her native tongue.

    Should anyone peak over her shoulder as she writes, or simply read the note when she's done, it states Cyll menta-o naitie-se. Arano indu'tyasta-e muig estes ar'áure. Arano'cundo Jhory's Reprievenna tó marlunte so telya'molsta. Short and to the point, there should be no issues covering all the bases with this. Arano will know it's from her, Tairil should follow her request to end the guarding task a week early so she can go home, and all would be as it should.

    Spoiler: Note Translation
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    "Bearer of this note is legitimate. Arano will verify that the cat rests in the sun's beams. Escort Arano to Jhory's Reprieve in the docks district and your duty is fulfilled.

    -Kett"
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  2. - Top - End - #842
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    Kleris grumbles at the others as they bother him for a private secure room. He had wanted to hold the reveal for a little longer so he could add a few more odds and ends but it seems like needs outweighs the desires. "It seems we have come to an accord. If you will all follow me then I can take us to a secure room for our meeting. I'll just close up while you all prepare your spells."

    Kleris casually walks over to lock up the doors of the inn. Hopefully he could get it open tonight when the staff come in. After he wraps that up he walks back over to the bar and slides a few boxes out of the way on the floor. He gropes the floor for a moment before pulling up the hidden trapdoor, the thin but sturdy ladder leading down into the dark not the most welcoming sight. "Give me a second and I'll get the lamps lit."

    The innkeeper slides down the ladder and a few moments latter the rest of the party can hear some muttered cursing punctuated by strikes of matches shortly followed by a soft glow of light. Soon the voice calls up "Come on down."

    When the party joins Kleris down below they see the brand new secret basement crafted by days of work from Gryphon and Kleris. The high stone walls are covered by colorful wall hangings or cheap tapestries, and the floor by large carpets. Lanterns hang from the ceilings and walls, throwing soft light all over the room as shadows flicker and elongate. The main room is filled with a long table and various stools with cushions for people of all sizes. The table has a nice bottle of alchemical wine, a keg of dwarven mead, and a bottle of Aundarian Brandy.

    The room seems to only have two entrances to other rooms, the doorways partially obstructed by hanging curtains that anyone can walk through. As others come down they see Kleris making himself comfortable on one of the more cushioned seats, tossing out some clean glasses to other seats along the table. "It needs some more protections but this should do for now with our friendly blessings of the divine. Ambassador please join me."
    "Facilis Descensus Averni." - Virgil, The Aeneid

    “Why would I want to win anything other than a beautiful game?” - Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear


  3. - Top - End - #843
    Ogre in the Playground
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    As all the presents are escorted into the new safe room, Arimart satisfies the ambassador's request by quickly casting a Zone of Truth, watching to step himself into the zone itself, then following with a set of questions, that should cover their immediate needs.

    He starts with the usual set of questions used to determine the correct functioning of the spell, "Is it evening right now? Are we in the city of Throneport?" then, he continues with questions regarding their actual situation.

    "Is Your name Danilos ir'Sencriss? Can you confirm that your daughter, Layla ir'Sencriss, has been kidnapped? Can you confirm that some people want to take control of the Orrery after your auction?" And so on, as quickly as possible.

    After everyone is convinced about each other's identity and motivations (or, at least partially satisfied), the paladin agrees to prepare an additional note for the Ambassador to bring with him and present to the Thronehold guards*

    You should be able to get Arano without problems given your titles, if you have problems show this note and ask about Magistrates Lann or Irandra, they will understand.




    Spoiler: Note
    Show


    Prisoner Arano is needed for an interrogation
    every further request will be clarified.
    Release him Immediately, in accordance to
    Legislation 1.8.10, paragraphs 3-7.

    By Justice Through Freedom

    sir Arimart Kaessal


    Last edited by CozJa; 2021-06-16 at 02:46 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #844
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Ir'Sencriss is prompt and to the point in answering the questions posed to him while under the truth-telling aura, which he readily accepts without a fuss. "Yes, it is approaching the halfway mark of the ninth hour. We are in Throneport. My name is Danilos ir'Sencriss, Ambassador to Thrane on Thronehold island. My daughter Layla has been..." he stops and swallows, "kidnapped. I believe the same people who took the orrery at her birthday six nights ago are responsible, given the contents of the ransom note they left behind." He also deigns to answer any more questions to determine the veracity of both his identity and that of his steward, which lasts for a few more minutes before everyone is satisfied. Ghastor volunteers his own identity as well for the sake of thoroughness while Danilos joins Kleris for a comfortable seat, giving Arimart a grudging nod as he accepts both notes on behalf of his master.

    "We will ensure that both missives reach the right place, Sir Kaessel, Madam Kett." Tucking them into his lapel, Ghastor waits for ir'Sencriss' word before the two of them depart - though not without a single longing glance at the glass bottle of the brandy.

    It is the better part of an hour before two more figures arrive at the Respite's door. Arano has changed clothing since you saw him last: now the agent wears a comfortable navy tunic over grey trousers, both fitted yet comfortable enough that they would flexible in a fight or a street chase. He carries no weapons that any of you can see, which given what you know about he and his wife's line of work is nowhere near as comforting as it should be. Tairil Jennaris, on the other hand, wears the same loose, silk clothing and light armor decorated with elaborate engraving and embroidery she had on the first night you crossed blades. Her matching crimson veil covers her features, and she has an unstrung bow at her back as well as a curved blade at her belt.

    "Yes dear?" the Phiarlan spy cannot help a slight smirk as he enters the semi-secret hideout beneath the dockside inn after being let in. He plants a single kiss on Kett's cheek, a solitary concession to their bond before he resumes business mode. "We got your note and came as soon as we could. I assume you want the Valaes Tairn in on this?"

    Tairil stands stiffly near the door, saying nothing yet. She cases her surroundings like a professional, preferring to nod her greeting as opposed to saying hello.
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2021-06-16 at 02:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
    Currently Running:
    - Tales of Neutral Ground

    Winner of Total War: Rise of Kingdoms (Ironfang Republic)

    Loser of Total War: The Final Hanrui (Elda Hafnar)


    "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

  5. - Top - End - #845
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Kett Collier
    Human Shadow Monk/Rogue
    AC: 19 HP: 52/52
    PP: 19 PIv: 13 PIs: 13
    Conditions: Darkvision (~7 hours), 6/6 Ki Remaining
    Concentrating: --

    Before Arano can completely pull away from her she grips at his shirt and returns his kiss, allowing her the briefest moment of affection, before she too returns to work, albeit with a few butterflies in her belly. "Depends if she's willing to help." She gives the briefest of rundowns regarding the situation - what details they have on "D" and supposition regarding the identity, the kidnapped Layla, the proposed tradeoff at midnight, likely fighting - though she keeps mum about the Codex's existence. Arano knew about it; Tairil didn't need to know. The details she does provide come fast and precise, with words carefully picked, though she also asks Arano to elaborate on potential abilities that Lady Dox has, in preparation if she is "D". It's as much to get him up to speed on the situation as anything else.

    With the explanation concluded, she speaks directly to the veiled warrior: "Now that you know the situation, two questions remain - are you willing to help, and if so what would you want in return for that help?" She didn't want to beat around the bush with this. If Tairil couldn't be bought with gold or favour then they wouldn't - couldn't - waste any more time on her. The clock was ticking, and finalising their grasp of the situation was more important than ever.
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  6. - Top - End - #846
    Ogre in the Playground
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    When ir'Sencriss and Ghastor are gone, the paladin turns to Kleris "It looks like I'll make good use of your gift faster than expected." he says, then goes back up, takes his new armor and changes himself with it. He tries all the joints and is especially satitisfied of finding it only a little more imposing than his previous one, while giving a feeling of protection much better than before.

    As all are reunited again, the paladin observes the presents, thinking that things seem bad, but they cannot be as bad as the last week when they went to a party and ended up in hell. At least now they know they are going to face danger. Like that time in the sewers.

    "Damn sewers" he thinks, while he shudders thinking at the smell they had to bear. "Well, at least filth is easier to take care of than Phiarlans."
    This last thought stays locked into Arimart's mind, considering who's sharing the room with him.

    He turns to Tairil, considering how she could be of help.

    "Well, I think a honorable and capable warrior such as you could help us greatly. I don't know what you may want, but I can offer you another favor for your services. You were indebted to us, but if you help us this evening, I will be indebted to you. And I have many ties in this city. Alternatively, if you prefer a more tangible payment, ambassador ir'Sencriss is known for his generosity with the people who helps him, especially when family is at stake."
    Last edited by CozJa; 2021-06-16 at 04:23 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #847
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    Tairil nas-iel Jennaris, outrider of the Valaes Tairn and warrior of Valenar, lets out what you're sure cannot be a slight chuckle beneath her zaelta - the cloth mask over her nose and mouth beneath her diaphanous veil - at the open praise from the half-elf wearing an adamantine fortress on his body. By the crossing of her arms, it's quite clear what her opening position is on such an offer.

    "I have brought honour to my blood by protecting the fir-avel for such a time as his paramour required. Beyond that, I see little reason to involve myself in your affairs unless the coin promised is substantial." Yet she has not walked out the door, and points directly at each of you. "Has this 'ir'Sencriss' human proved his generosity to any of you in material means? You have not proven me wrong in this port of thrones yet, so I will trust your word if you say that my line will be paid handsomely for my services.

    Ancestors willing I am able to actually earn my pay..."
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2021-06-16 at 04:41 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
    Currently Running:
    - Tales of Neutral Ground

    Winner of Total War: Rise of Kingdoms (Ironfang Republic)

    Loser of Total War: The Final Hanrui (Elda Hafnar)


    "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

  8. - Top - End - #848
    Troll in the Playground
     
    (Un)Inspired's Avatar

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    Pleased to see that his week of hard work was already proving useful, Gryphon remains standing while the burgeoning group fills the room, and waits patiently for the barbaric Elf to respond to Arimart's question. When the savage woman finishes speaking, the Ambassador from Droaam offers his perspective on the matter.

    If a tradeoff of Professor Shardstone's remote control and diary for Lady is going to be attempted, then we must first outline what hurdles must be surmounted before we can determine from whom we require assistance, and just what sort of assistance we might request. While the number of problems with our upcoming summit with Lady Dox may at first seem innumerable, I believe they can be reduced to three broad categories.

    First, the problem of determining if the person being traded to us is actually Layla Sencriss, rather than someone shapechanged, fleshwarped, or otherwise disguised to appear as the young Lady.

    Second, avoiding the likely scenario that the handoff will be made in bad-faith; an ambush, if you will.

    Third, the matter of the loss of the dear Professor's property. I can't help but think that offering up the control device brings Professor Shardstone one step further from reacquiring his Orrery, rather than closer.

    Now the best method, of Layla-confirmation, that comes to mind, is Professor Shardstone reading her thoughts to test her authenticity.

    The solution to both the second and third problems, is to approach the trade off in bad-faith ourselves; ambush the ambushers, so to speak. Obviously we're not going to be sending Professor Shardstone into the proverbial Lion's mouth alone, as the note suggests. Sir Kleris and I are undetectable via magic, and therefore could walk invisibly aside the professor without fear of detection. If anyone present is capable of replicating Mr. Raz's Pass Without Trace trick then, not only could Sir Kleris' ability to move silently be supplemented, but the rest of the team could hoover hidden as close as possible while still under some species of urban cover.

    Once you're able to determine the proffered Layla is genuine,
    Gryphon says to Drake, you fold a predetermined code-phrase into conversation with Lady Dox's goons, which the rest of us take as our signal to spring from hiding and destroy our enemies. Sir Kleris and I can move invisibly around them ahead of time to flank from the rear and cut off their escape; Prosecutor Arimart will ride in atop his angelic steed (who will also be under the effects of Pass Without Trace) and hoist Layla into the saddle with him and out of danger. Any survivors of our assault we tortu... question vigorously, and the casualties can be interrogated with an application of Speak With Dead.
    amazing avatar of my favorite character, Gheera, by Pesimismrocks

  9. - Top - End - #849
    Ogre in the Playground
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    "You make good points indeed, sir Gryphon. For once, I concur that a 'strike first' approach is to be preferred. And considering how much our enemies seem to know about us, I believe that a sword more wouldn't hurt us" he says, while pointing at Tairil.

    The paladin stops for a moment, with his left hand massaging his chin while he reflects on something.

    "I remember the gift your rival gave to Layla. We could use it to track her direction, assuming it wasn't taken away from her, and add another mean of confirming her presence, if needed.

    As for the rest of your plan, I'd say it works quite well. At least, it works as much as planning goes. We all know that we can plan for ourselves, but not for others. And let's not forget that there are different parties interested in the... objects we want. As for our enemies, I will not strike to kill but, this time do whatever you want. I won't get out of my way to protect the lives of those who use children as bargaining chips."

    He glances at Arano and Kett while saying this last phrase, than looks back at Tairil.

    "Ambassador ir'Sencriss already promised a large reward, and he is a man of his word. Obviously I can't give you a precise sum, but I'm sure he will pay enough, even for you. As you can see from my newly acquired armor, we tend to attract rich contacts."

    He breifly turns at Kleris, winking at him, then speaks again to the Valenar warrior.

    "Tell you what, apart from the ambassador's reward, if you help us, I'll add you on Thronehold list of contacts. We sometimes need the help of private contractors to complete our more delicate tasks and the Tribunal is not nit-picky about the use of objects you can find when accomplishing those tasks; as you can see", he touches his magical gauntlets "this line of work can be quite rewarding."
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  10. - Top - End - #850
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    Kett Collier
    Human Shadow Monk/Rogue
    AC: 19 HP: 52/52
    PP: 19 PIv: 13 PIs: 13
    Conditions: Darkvision (~7 hours), 6/6 Ki Remaining
    Concentrating: --

    "Arano and I can replicate Pass Without Trace, and I've got some disppearing dust that can keep one of us," she tilts her head at her husband, "invisible for a few minutes. It is only a few minutes though, time will be tight. Otherwise our best bet would have to be hiding nearby and hoping the meeting point is in range of the spell. If a sudden shadowy figure drops invisibility, I expect the meeting would go south immediately." She looks past Arimart's slight. Maybe if a certain Brelish Dark Lantern agent hadn't shoved the incredibly dangerous artifact inside Layla then they wouldn't be in this mess.

    "Sparing any Phiarlans means we could probably put them to work in our favour rather than against it once Dox is deposed. I wouldn't spare her though, she's rather too dangerous to be left alive, and I'm not just saying that because I want her dead. But I do, to be clear."
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  11. - Top - End - #851
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    The paragon from Taer Valaestas ponders your words for a moment before making a little shrug motion. "As I said, your word is good enough for me. I trust that the ambassador will pay well for the return of his offspring." When Arimart further mentions the contractor list, she doesn't quite disguise the telltale quickening at an unexpected windfall. She takes less than six heartbeats to agree after that, sitting down on one of the divans and promptly sharpening her arrowheads.

    Arano wastes no time chiming in after Tairil, after having read both of the notes and been brought up to speed while Gryphon starts up his diatribe and both Arimart and Kett reply in kind.

    "Stealth is important here, but Kellson has the right of it; preventing enemy detection via anti-scrying will be the key if you really want to emerge unseen. Whoever has the most capabilities in that regard, I would recommend they are the ones protecting your face asset." He looks carefully to both of your spellcasters and then Kleris.

    "If it's you two, then you're better off as the hidden knives of the group. I understand that Kleris wears armor and isn't particularly well-suited to stealth, but could you perhaps impersonate Professor Shardstone and walk in his place? You do have a way with words, and I think you could play the part convincingly with the right magic."

    He languidly links one arm over Kett's shoulder. "The two of us can stay hidden with Tairil and Arimart from a modest distance, backup for when things go sideways. Tairil can shoot from range and Kett can teleport in, so if Arimart is mounted then might I be able to ride with you sir?"
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2021-06-17 at 08:18 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
    Currently Running:
    - Tales of Neutral Ground

    Winner of Total War: Rise of Kingdoms (Ironfang Republic)

    Loser of Total War: The Final Hanrui (Elda Hafnar)


    "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

  12. - Top - End - #852
    Ogre in the Playground
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    At Arano's question, Arimart raises an eyebrow, but changes immediately expression.

    "I guess you could, yes. That would make us quicker to enter into action and to secure Layla if the need arise."
    Last edited by CozJa; 2021-06-17 at 12:55 PM.
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  13. - Top - End - #853
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    Kleris looks a little irked by the even more people coming into his secret meeting room basement. He grumbles under his breath slightly "I swear that one day I will use this inn for paying customers."

    When the idea turns to stealth and impersonation Kleris strokes his chin in thought "I am definitely not the most stealthy person here. However as Gryphon says magic, like Pass without Trace, could definitely mitigate that with ease. I do have a way with words but there is a difference between having a way with words and trying to impersonate a person I know very little about to a person who has theoretically studied the good professor in detail. I have some thoughts on how to implement the impersonation if we want to go that route but I would need a quick trip to Pffenigans for a few potions."
    "Facilis Descensus Averni." - Virgil, The Aeneid

    “Why would I want to win anything other than a beautiful game?” - Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear


  14. - Top - End - #854
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    Professor Drake Shardstone

    Drake was quiet as the others spoke, first enlisting new help at the drop of a hat, then launching into the planning phase. He mentally cringed at the lack of operational security being displayed here. His old guild had a saying - “The more the merrier ... except for secrets and trysts.” The Codex was a world-changing artifact and they had just invited another newcomer to be privy to the secret. Raising his hand for a moment, he nodded to Arano and his guard. ”Before this continues, please verify both intent and identity for the new guests. And least anyone takes offense, I am certain the Phiarlans having been playing long cons using familiar faces to gain entry much longer than most of you have been alive. Add to the fact this D seems to know all of you quite well, and it wouldn’t be hard to predict Madam Kett would leverage this into an opportunity to free her husband.

    I’m new here and not a spymaster, and even I can see that.”


    After verifications were made, he sighed aloud and ran his hand down his beard. ”I wanted to point out some things, least we loose sight of the gravity of the situation. I do not know how long you have been of interest to Lady Dox, but we should presume that your establishment has been under surveillance since at least the night of the party. While the last Phiarlan escaped, Dox was likely there until the end, monitoring the last piece they needed - the controller. Seeing me depart with you all, it would make sense she used her resources to listen in on these premises.

    To be clear, she likely knows everything we discussed that night. The contents of the last pages of the journal, the prize Kasimir was after, and the importance of Layla. Imagine the bloodbath that will ensue, should Lady Dox get ahold of it? The orrery is a conversation piece by comparison, but one that could cause considerable mischief - the item may represent the greatest change to the world politics since the Mourning.”


    Reaching out, he poured a mug of the dwarven mead and took a long pull before continuing. ”I have not left the controller alone, therefore it is hidden from scrying - which is the only reason they have not taken it from me yet. This means that if Layla is similarly hidden, we will not be able to target an item on her person ... nor read her thoughts. However, the detection of an active mind not hidden from divination magicks will work, even if they are unseen. Which may work to our benefit, or against us for those relying on invisibility alone to sneak up.

    I do like the idea of using a decoy. Master Kleris, while I agree masquerading as another is a challenge, given that I am a relative unknown here, it will be hard to spot a fake me. That being said, when we enter into negotiations, you must remember we still have an upper hand. Lady Dox probably doesn’t know how to access the item yet. She doesn’t have the details we have from recent translations regarding the mastermind. And she cannot control the orrery. She needs us more than we need her, at least temporarily. That means we have a stronger bargaining position.”


    He raised his hand to forestall any abrupt complaints. ”I am NOT suggesting we abandon the young lady, nor let her be harmed. But it is not you negotiating - it is Professor Shardstone, new player in Throneport, who is solely focused on his personal objectives. It will serve to set the tone for discussions as well as well the illusion that I am there alone ... because Lord Arimart and Master Gryphon would never treat Layla like a chip.

    Can you do that Master Kleris?”


    OOC - Pause for some more discussion
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    AC: 14 HP: 40/52 Init +2 Move 30’
    Saves: Str +0 Dex +2 Con +2 Int +2 Wis +6 Cha +0
    Skills: Arcana/Religion +8; Insight +5; Perception +9;
    Warder’s inspiration (+1d4): Investigate, History, Thieves tools
    Weapons: shortsword (+5 / 1d8+2); shortbow (+5 / 1d8+2)
    Channel divinity 3/3 (Turn undead, destroy CR 1/2, Knowledge o/t Ages, Read thoughts)
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    Prepare 9 spells, DC 15, 4-1st / 3-2nd / 3-3rd
    0: guidance, thaumatugy, toll the dead, mending
    1st (x4): command, identity, alarm, armor of Agnatha, cure light wounds, healing word, guiding bolt
    2nd (x2): augury, arcane lock, knock, suggestion, silence, enhance ability, locate object
    3rd (x2): non-detection, speak with dead, glyph of warding, magic circle, clairvoyance, meld into stone, dispel magic
    Wards & seals (1/long): alarm, arcane lock, mage armor

    Effects: 60’ darkvision
    Life is ... life. As always bot/cut as necessary.
    DM: "Why do you have so many characters?"
    Me: "Because I never embraced the strategic value of running away."


    Fare thee well, N_R ... you will missed!y

  15. - Top - End - #855
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    Both of the elves - having easily agreed to the truth-telling and verified both of their identities and that they have every intention of helping deliver Layla from harm tonight with you all - listen to Kleris' agreement and then Drake expounding more on the plan. If Tairil is at all shaken or effected by what you are discussing, she does not show it behind her zaelta. Almond shaped eyes consider the room coolly, taking in what is said but offering no comment beyond a remark about her effective bow range.

    Arano, meanwhile, has settled next to Kett and wears an openly expensive frown. "So it sounds like we have a plan. A word of warning before we proceed: Lady Dox is as skilled an infiltrator and tactician as they come. She is proficient with the arts of death of course - as is any freelancer snatched up by the opposition - but she's even better at scheming than she is at wielding the knife. If this really is her, we should expect to be outfoxed at least once tonight. Factor that into your calculations."

    That said, all that remains are the final choices... and the action.
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2021-06-20 at 04:39 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
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    Winner of Total War: Rise of Kingdoms (Ironfang Republic)

    Loser of Total War: The Final Hanrui (Elda Hafnar)


    "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

  16. - Top - End - #856
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    Kett Collier
    Human Shadow Monk/Rogue
    AC: 19 HP: 52/52
    PP: 19 PIv: 13 PIs: 13
    Conditions: Darkvision (~7 hours), 6/6 Ki Remaining
    Concentrating: --

    "Good to go." Kett's preparations, such as they were, didn't require any additional time. She takes a moment to triple check her gear's strapped tight and where it should be - it is, of course. She does retrieve two of her leg-strapped daggers and hand them off to her husband though. He was perfectly capable even without them, but flexibility didn't hurt, and a well-placed well-thrown dagger had saved her life on more than one occasion. Better to have and not need than vice versa, and she still had 3 of her own even after giving away two.
    Last edited by Amnestic; 2021-06-20 at 04:51 AM.
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  17. - Top - End - #857
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    "Well, up until now we've been outmaneuvered, outflanked, outsmarted and whatever else... but we're still there standing while our would be enemies are dead, in prison, or... joined us."

    The paladin, his new armor shining with the polished adamantine metal reflecting some of the colours of the secret room's lights, raises up and inspections his gear. A new resolve is in his eyes, maybe bolstered by his improved equipment, or by the fact that they ended up having to protect a little kid, again.

    "It's better to act as fast as possible when we are there. If we don't have tactical advantage, quickness of action can often nullify this gap."

    He turns to the Valenar warrior, whose culture he studied a bit about, after their first meeting.

    "In the end, you will ride by our side, let your enemies meet their end and your weapons grant you honour."
    Does this poster have a sign?

  18. - Top - End - #858
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    The Midnight Meet

    Midnight approaches, and with it the hour of reckoning. It finds you as ready as you can possibly be: decked out in protective enchantments and illusions, you cut through the furtive alleys and graveyard lanes of Throneport after dusk. After a quick stop in Pfennigan's night market - where Kleris disappears to pick up the aforementioned items and returns a few minutes later looking exactly like Drake down to each bolt of clothing and lock of hair - and you are well on your way to the location of the meet. Despite the time of night, there are plenty of people out on the town, and you're all stopped at the zone border into the Karrnathi district by the usual international complement of guards as you file through; in separate groups to avoid suspicion, of course. After the cursory papers check, it's a quick left down Rovira Street and to the outer gates.

    As you emerge from of the shadows of the city, you enter another world entirely. Here the outbuildings of Throneport drop away almost immediately, replaced by low-lying fields that range to the edge of the silver-distant shores of Scion's Sound. It must be the better part of two miles from here to the water though, most of which seems to be filled with some variation of farmland. The horizon line is smooth and sloping, interrupted only by the odd lonesome copse of trees or granary. Whispers of warmer days carry on the breeze out here, though for now they keep to themselves and dare not speak openly of summer. Above you the clouds have parted, allowing for a rare view of all twelve of Eberron's moons. At this time of late spring, the argent face of Eyre is coming into prominence to mark the turning of the month; it is its silver light under which you travel.

    Up ahead, the seven of you catch your first sight of the windmill. Though the building faces south to catch the breezes off of Scion's Sound, you spot the lazy circular movements of the vanes even from a distance. Not too removed from the main trade road which runs between it and its farmhouse, the mill stands at the summit of a gentle incline. It looks like a rough conical cylinder of stone with a circular open-air deck, with a linked pair of outbuildings and a loading crane on its eastern side. A single lemon tree stands guard to the north-east, and a semi-collapsed stone wall abuts the path to the west: both potential sources of cover. By the looks of the crops being grown around here - the mixed grapes and other fruits kept unseasonably in harvest likely by druidcraft nearly outnumber the grain plots - whoever owns the land here likely does not keep the mill in constant use year round. The farmers of Thronehold island are paid well to keep the city fed, but you might hazard a guess that they are being well-compensated for luxury crops. But the possible noteworthy rural gossip is only useful to you in the context of your immediate observation.

    There is light coming from inside the mill's windows and a thin column of smoke coming from a chimney - somebody is definitely home.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Well here we are! I have uploaded the new Roll20 map and placed all of your tokens as well as those of Arano and Tairil. Don't worry too much about the exact placements, but you are approaching roughly from the north which means the top of the map. Right now the in-game time is approximately 11:15 pm, but by the looks of the lights and moving windmill you can obviously conclude that someone is already inside.

    For currently active effects and the like through spells and magic items, I've noted that we have used/will be using:

    • Nondetection (Kleris - item; Drake - item; Gryphon - spell)
    • Invisibility (Gryphon & Drake; spell?)
    • Pass Without Trace (Arano, Kett, Arimart & warhorse, Tairil; spell)
    • Disguise Self (Kleris - potion)

    In the planning process, another Nondetection and Zone of Truth were already cast by Drake and Arimart respectively. If you haven't, everyone please mark off the spell slots as they are used up.

    Now... how are you going to approach this?
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2021-06-20 at 05:22 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
    Currently Running:
    - Tales of Neutral Ground

    Winner of Total War: Rise of Kingdoms (Ironfang Republic)

    Loser of Total War: The Final Hanrui (Elda Hafnar)


    "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

  19. - Top - End - #859
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    Kett Collier
    Human Shadow Monk/Rogue
    AC: 19 HP: 52/52
    PP: 19 PIv: 13 PIs: 13
    Conditions: Darkvision (~5 hours), 4/6 Ki Remaining, Pass Without Trace (1 hour)
    Concentrating: Pass Without Trace (1 hour)

    Before they arrive, though not by much, Kett mutters a quiet incantation and clicks her fingers. The already dark night becomes darker still as shadows coalesce around the group. Their footsteps muffle - aside from Kett's, which were already silent - and their forms are cloaked in an umbral gloom that defies the clear night sky overhead.

    Upon arrival she looks around, as much as she can with limited vision range in the dark, and briefly considers simply slumping down under the nearby lemon tree and grabbing a small nap until the appointed meeting time. It's not that she wasn't invested - she is, and will be putting her all into seeing a success - but time passes faster when you're sleeping and she was eager to get on with it. "I'm not averse to scoping out the area but I expect to meet another Phiarlan doing the same if I do, and that could ruin the entire evening. If we do send anyone to check out the mill, I vote it be 'Drake'." Her airquotes, even if not clearly visible in the pale gleam of the moon, are audible well enough. "Just in case 'D' decided to have a spot of tea before the arranged meeting time."
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  20. - Top - End - #860
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    Advancing slowly under the moons' light, feeling only the galloping of his steed and Arano's breath behind him, Arimart keeps his senses as keen as possible, ready to act at the first hint of an attack.

    The sweet air, caressing his skin, reminds him of brighter times, of a sense of innocence and assurance somewhat lost along the way. Now, even if those feelings aren't gone, the dread sensation of fighting for a lost cause accompanies the paladin as a worn-out traveler, not completely unwelcomed, but neither beloved.

    Another night, another dive into the deepest and depraved violence of humanoids. This time, not even kids are safe from the powerplays of Thronehold. Sometimes Arimart wishes that the Flame would drown this entire city in its holy fire, but such are not the way the world works.

    As Kett speaks first, the paladin is ready to answer.

    "Since our real Drake already told us he could scoop the place from distance, I believe that would be the most secure course of action. Wouldn't it be, professor Drake?"
    Does this poster have a sign?

  21. - Top - End - #861
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    Professor Drake Shardstone

    Drake scanned the area, his mind racing as they took in the area. [i]Windmill provides the high point ... spotters and or archers ... farmhouse is perfect for reinforcements ... stone wall gives cover ... and potential ambush site ... I’d put another spotter in that tree ...

    Moving to, to a spot where they could talk, Drake pulled forth a small well crafted eyepiece that no one could see and called upon his scrying ability. He focused his gaze upon the windmill, starting from above and swooping down into the building. From there, he settled in to search for signs of the kidnappers.

    OOC - casting clairvoyance quietly to cheat the windmill, looking for spotters and folks inside
    Spoiler: Status
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    AC: 14 HP: 40/52 Init +2 Move 30’
    Saves: Str +0 Dex +2 Con +2 Int +2 Wis +6 Cha +0
    Skills: Arcana/Religion +8; Insight +5; Perception +9;
    Warder’s inspiration (+1d4): Investigate, History, Thieves tools
    Weapons: shortsword (+5 / 1d8+2); shortbow (+5 / 1d8+2)
    Channel divinity 3/3 (Turn undead, destroy CR 1/2, Knowledge o/t Ages, Read thoughts)
    Spoiler: Spells
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    Prepare 9 spells, DC 15, 4-1st / 3-2nd / 3-3rd
    0: guidance, thaumatugy, toll the dead, mending
    1st (x4): command, identity, alarm, armor of Agnatha, cure light wounds, healing word, guiding bolt
    2nd (x2): augury, arcane lock, knock, suggestion, silence, enhance ability, locate object
    3rd (x1): non-detection, speak with dead, glyph of warding, magic circle, clairvoyance, meld into stone, dispel magic
    Wards & seals (1/long): alarm, arcane lock, mage armor

    Effects: 60’ darkvision
    Life is ... life. As always bot/cut as necessary.
    DM: "Why do you have so many characters?"
    Me: "Because I never embraced the strategic value of running away."


    Fare thee well, N_R ... you will missed!y

  22. - Top - End - #862
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    Drake

    The divination is nothing you have not performed before: as you call upon the blessing of the Host, your senses expand to see a world stretched thin like a bag overfull. Light spills from its seams where the edges fray and reknit themselves. Here is your gift, a mark of trust as an agent plenipotentiary for the divine. You close your eyes as Drake the dwarf, hurtling through the dark with only faith to guide your hand. It is the wager you make, your power and will in the balance every time you strike it with your gracious Sovereigns.

    When your eyes open, you find yourself inside the mill. The spell sensor remains in place where you have chosen it, out of immediate eyeshot and looking down above the building's interior. The cabin attachment - more of a cottage really, now that you're getting a closer look at it - was clearly designed to be both minimal and comfortable. A single armchair lurks at the end of a modest dining table, both looking across a worn wooden floor at a single bed and a tasteful armoire, the only concession to outright luxury in the décor. There look to be two doors out of the room, one a heavier job with an entry mat that looks to be the other side of the portal from the outside and the other hanging ajar at the top of a three-step landing. At the far end is a small hearth and fireplace. A simple enough abode for a miller; there is even a mostly-finished dinner on the table. It looks like the kind of place one might relax on a cool summer's evening.

    Well if it weren't for all the blood, anyway.

    The body lies facedown on the bed, the sheets of which have been so thoroughly soaked through that it's near impossible to tell what colour they were originally. The backsplash on the walls and floor, at least, look decidedly black in the half-light. A few flies flit around the matted hair on the corpse, one particularly enterprising insect prying open an eyelid with its proboscis to crawl underneath.

    There are also two living people within sight of your spell's sensor. A man - who you note isn't a man at all, but rather a half-elf by the sharpness of his ears and the angularity of his features - occupies the chair by the table, putting away large forkfuls of what appear to be some kind of mince pie. When he cracks a yellowed smile, you spot doughy flakes and bits of puckered meat between his teeth. He waves his utensil and says something to the other figure, who is facing away and towards the fire.

    The second person turns their head, and you see a profile of a face backlit by the low-burning flames. She looks… perfectly average. Skin ever so slightly tanned, aquiline but understated features, eyes and hair of no particular colour. She could be human, but you aren't sure. She says something in response to the half elf, before beckoning at the door at the top of the landing. A third individual pops in, his face the spitting image of the first; he is smoking a cigarette, and with his free hand flicks around a dagger with great aplomb. Their exchange of words is brief, and less than a minute passes before he retreats back through the upper exit he emerged from. From your angle it's difficult to make out too many details of what is on the other side, but you see a deck and a few crates - perhaps a storage area?

    You emerge from the spell after a few more minutes pass, secure in the knowledge that not only is the kidnapper here, but she is not alone. By all appearances, she is waiting for your arrival.

    Spoiler: Conversation Excerpt
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    "… looking out there? Any sign of Shardstone or the others yet?"

    "No boss. That snake-woman isn’t exactly forthcoming with her check ins, but she hasn't spotted anyone trying to sneak up."

    "Hrm. Allotting for time and travel, they should be here already. Tell the others to expect an ambush imminently."
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2021-06-26 at 12:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
    Currently Running:
    - Tales of Neutral Ground

    Winner of Total War: Rise of Kingdoms (Ironfang Republic)

    Loser of Total War: The Final Hanrui (Elda Hafnar)


    "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

  23. - Top - End - #863
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    Professor Drake Shardstone

    Unseen, Drake’s eyes turned opaque and glowed with divine blessings. As his second sight came into focus, he found himself looking at a room with both life and death, and thick with subterfuge and purpose. He closes his eyes for a moment when he saw lips moving, and suddenly he could hear the two people talking. He almost smiled at the conversation, but quickly returned to a visual as another figure emerged from upstairs.

    He whispered his findings as he saw them, adding his own perspectives and suggestions as he did. [i]”Nice cottage, wooden floors, two exits - front door and a raised landing. t
    Table and chairs ... well made dresser ... big chair ... bed with a dead body. By the Host, lots of blood ... too much for a quick, surgical kill. Savage ... or someone enjoyed it too much. Probably the miller, poor sod.

    I see two people. Distant is half-elven male, yellow teeth, eating at the table. He’s saying something to the an average looking woman standing nearby. She’s beckoning to the upper door. Second figure ... looks like a twin of the first man. She’s starting to talk, hang on ...

    ‘… looking out there? Any sign of Shardstone or the others yet?’

    ‘No boss. That snake-woman isn’t exactly forthcoming with her check ins, but she hasn’t spotted anyone trying to sneak up.’

    ‘Hrm. Allotting for time and travel, they should be here already. Tell the others to expect an ambush imminently.’

    They must have had eyes on the inn and know we left ... or assumed we did after we detected their scrying. At least two others we haven’t seen, maybe more. Finding and taking out the snake woman might be ideal - sounds like she’s aloof. Use her lack of cooperation to our advantage. Expect eyes up on the windmill from one of the twins. I have a lantern that will illuminate the unseen, but that includes the holder. Perhaps it is best used by ‘Drake’ when he approaches from the main road. It will demonstrate good faith and no one will know you have the spell upon you ... but if you need to escape simply douse the lantern and you’ll disappear.

    If sonro e can check the cottage for magical wards or enchantments, please do so. I cannot check for thoughts randomly - I can only ‘hear’ the thoughts of an individual I can see.

    Recommend we try to find their support so we can ambush the ambushers, but otherwise approach with ‘Drake’ openly. Thoughts?”


    OOC - No detect thoughts here. But Drake will let Kleris use the lantern of revealing
    Spoiler: Status
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    AC: 14 HP: 40/52 Init +2 Move 30’
    Saves: Str +0 Dex +2 Con +2 Int +2 Wis +6 Cha +0
    Skills: Arcana/Religion +8; Insight +5; Perception +9;
    Warder’s inspiration (+1d4): Investigate, History, Thieves tools
    Weapons: shortsword (+5 / 1d8+2); shortbow (+5 / 1d8+2)
    Channel divinity 3/3 (Turn undead, destroy CR 1/2, Knowledge o/t Ages, Read thoughts)
    Spoiler: Spells
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    Prepare 9 spells, DC 15, 4-1st / 3-2nd / 3-3rd
    0: guidance, thaumatugy, toll the dead, mending
    1st (x4): command, identity, alarm, armor of Agnatha, cure light wounds, healing word, guiding bolt
    2nd (x2): augury, arcane lock, knock, suggestion, silence, enhance ability, locate object
    3rd (x1): non-detection, speak with dead, glyph of warding, magic circle, clairvoyance, meld into stone, dispel magic
    Wards & seals (1/long): alarm, arcane lock, mage armor

    Effects: 60’ darkvision
    Life is ... life. As always bot/cut as necessary.
    DM: "Why do you have so many characters?"
    Me: "Because I never embraced the strategic value of running away."


    Fare thee well, N_R ... you will missed!y

  24. - Top - End - #864
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    Sask spends the journey over fretting over his disguise. He had the look down but he did not know enough about the new addition to their little group yet. He spent the trip quietly examining the dwarf, listening to him talk and strategize. 'You are an academic, you have hidden depths with unknown plans revolving around the orerry, you have no real relation to Layla and are more pressured by new companions then real love for Layla.'

    You know I think an intelligent dwarven chessmaster would be a good persona to add to the roster, maybe you should consider adding one to the roster developed off of Drake.'

    'One step at a time choir boy. He still needs to develop Shemran and Orlan first.'

    When they arrive Sask examines the area, waiting as they get Drakes information. It was... not promising. The dead body was a bad start which was closely followed by the worse news of possible additional plotters and expected ambushes.

    Sask looks at Drake and breaths out calmly, settling into this new mindset "I believe it would be best for me to start the approach now. I will happily utilize the lantern here sir and attempt to replicate several effects myself. I will slowly approach and prepare to engage in four minutes, have positions prepared for that time and if something unexpected happens try to signal subtly to me."




    Drake slowly approaches the windmill at a sedate pace. He moves slowly and simply so as not to attract any untoward attention. At the four minute mark the dwarven professor calls upon his gods to protect him in this time of need, settling under its protective glow.

    Looking at the Windmill Drake stops beside the wooden fence beside the end of the path. Going in would introduce to many unknown entities and he did not want to treat with these parties on their prepared ground. They would come to him. He uses prestidigitation to create a bird whistle briefly and loudly blows on it, unnaturally loud in a ravens trill in the middle of the night.

    He waits a second before calling out "I believe I am expected?"

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    Casting Shield of Faith before this starts.

    Then prestidigitation to create a non magical bird whistle of a raven to make a loud call.
    "Facilis Descensus Averni." - Virgil, The Aeneid

    “Why would I want to win anything other than a beautiful game?” - Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear


  25. - Top - End - #865
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    Before the team heads out into the long, cold night, Gryphon passes Spritz off to Arimart, once again. The paladin and the snake had already gone into battle together once before, and if the prosecutor was going to be riding in to save Layla, Gryphon wanted to lend as much help as he possibly could; besides, the wizard's serpentine familiar would only get in the way when traveling invisibly.

    Once more to battle, paladin. The broken, anguished, cries of our victims will be the tide that carries us to victory!

    The Occidental Wizard listened intently as Professor Shardstone gives his Clairvoyant report on the interior of the windmill. It's doesn't matter how many of them their art, what matters is that Layal is nowhere to be seen! At least she isn't one of the corpses, but damnit, do any of these humans treat fairly with one another? Before he has a chance to get lost in his worry, Gryphon holds his right palm upright, closes his eyes and concentrates on his own long, drawn out, inhales. As he does so, all the color begins to drain from both Drake and his own countenances, eventually both appear only in grayscale, before even their outlines fade away entirely, and the pair are completely invisible. His last words, before he vanishes from view, are to the dwarven cleric. Don't forget to check the thoughts of what ever they present as Layla...

    As "Drake" approaches the windmill, Gryphon follows invisibly, ready at any moment to drop into a bladesong and begin carving up the kidnappers.
    amazing avatar of my favorite character, Gheera, by Pesimismrocks

  26. - Top - End - #866
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    As the reptilian scaly thing that accompanies sir Gryphon climbs on Arimart's shoulders the paladin shivers, and tries his best to keep his cold. After all, he's not going to argue against a clear tactical advantage, he'd only wish it was less... slimy.

    When the evil familiar "encourages" him the paladin answers him calmly. "Well, sure, I suppose... at least elementals didn't cry out." He says, before rolling his eyes.

    After this brief, light-hearted moment is passed, the paladin concentrates on their mission. Once again, the life of a frail being depends on their ability to act bravely and cunningly; and probably this time he won't be able to solve their problems just by talking very passionately to whoever they are going to face. Knowing that one of the enemies was supposed to be in jail angers the half-elven prosecutor: He knows how things work, but if even a guard killer can expect to escape free, then the situation in Throneport is worse then he believes...

    Before they act, the paladin gestures to their newfound elven companion to preapre herself, then he glances at their other newfound elven companion, whose riding with him.
    "It is time, master Arano, this evening will tell us a lot, maybe even more than we can imagine."

    Looking at the lantern's light getting farther away, Arimart prays silently before getting ready to act.

    "Like this lantern that shows us path through darkness and deceit, Flame guide my hand and my mind, to find the true targets of your rightful justice, and to bring illumination to those lost in their own darkness.
    Does this poster have a sign?

  27. - Top - End - #867
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    Arano gives one last look to Kett before hopping up on Arimart's steed behind him, nodding at the prosecutor as he steadies himself on the steed. "I just hope that we get Layla back before Dox figures out how valuable she really is." He doesn't comment on the paladin's vague prediction of illumination, just grimly nodding his head in lieu of verbal agreement. Then he settles in for the wait, barely moving on the saddle as he focuses on what lies beyond. At the same time, Tairil strides forward beneath one of the nearby stone walls, stringing her bow and casting her eyes out into the darkness. She's barely said a word the entire journey, and isn't about to start now.

    The span of the prayer is released at last in the form of the three - two invisible, the other disguised - who approach the windmill. Kleris-as-Drake is the tip of the spear, his manifold self more veil than substance. The new Drake seems to match the original's pace ably, getting more of a feel for his new alias' gait and clothing with each step. The deific protection hasn't quite faded, and anyone looking closely at the floating sigils would only see the pattern of the sixfold cross of the Host emblazoned onto the air. To either side, Gryphon and the real Drake Shardstone proceed with caution, keeping their steps and breathing as silent as possible as they trace the changeling's advance.

    The time approaches, and Kleris makes his magical birdcall. There is a pause where nothing is audible to the outside world, yet a few seconds after he calls to the contacts he hears an odd sound. It's... knocking. He realizes eventually that nobody else can hear the knocking, because it's happening inside his own head. Three polite taps, one after the other. Opening the door, Kleris hears a dry and ageless voice clear its throat.

    <Good evening. I have been instructed to inform you to proceed alone to the mill's main entrance on its eastern side. I am very sorry, but they have told me that if you are not seen complying in the next ten seconds, they will take it as a sign that Drake Shardstone is 'not dealing in good faith' and 'Layla will be paying your dues'.>
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2021-06-29 at 04:04 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
    Currently Running:
    - Tales of Neutral Ground

    Winner of Total War: Rise of Kingdoms (Ironfang Republic)

    Loser of Total War: The Final Hanrui (Elda Hafnar)


    "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

  28. - Top - End - #868
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    Drake raises a single eyebrow with a slight frown on his face. 'Greetings. Well it seems we find ourselves having a problem then. I will not be entering the building to do this business. You may play your card with the child if you wish but it is a card that is played once so I suppose we shall be back in touch when your employer manages to find another well connected heir with which to blackmail me. I hope Layla 'paying her dues' is a consolation to the lack of workable orrery she will be stuck with afternoon leave.'

    Drake was not too concerned. He was not the child's parent or guardian. He didn't have personal connections to the girl like Sir Gryphon or Kleris. They wanted this deal badly enough to blackmail powerful nobility so they wouldn't let it slip through their fingers.

    At least... he hoped so at least.

    Spoiler
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    Deception Roll if needed: (1d20+7)[10]
    "Facilis Descensus Averni." - Virgil, The Aeneid

    “Why would I want to win anything other than a beautiful game?” - Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear


  29. - Top - End - #869
    Titan in the Playground
     
    3SecondCultist's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tales of Neutral Ground IC

    Another six long heartbeats elapse before Kleris receives a second telepathic missive.

    <Please, sir. Unlike you, they are not bluffing; I've been told to inform you that they have just given the girl a dose of midnight tears. At the stroke of the midnight that approaches she will surely die. I am also passing along one last message: 'I didn't want to do this, but it seems you have forced my hand'.

    If you have a means of rescuing her from here, I recommend taking swift action. Otherwise, I would give my mistress and her partners what they desire. Dally too long and Layla ir'Sencriss will pay the price.>


    At the same time, the secreted Drake hears a faint scraping sound from somewhere near the western edge of the mill, conspicuous against the grave-quiet eve and the soft song of the wind.
    Last edited by 3SecondCultist; 2021-06-29 at 04:04 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeno Desaqqara View Post
    You divine bastard.
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  30. - Top - End - #870
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Tales of Neutral Ground IC

    Drake clenches his jaw as they deliver the message. He was not caving to this crass blackmail, the second the blackmailers seize the upper hand then the negotiations will become even more complex. Maybe they aren't bluffing. Maybe they do poison the girl and I continue to wait out here. Then we shall see how negotiations go without the card you have. I have the means of rescuing her but I also do not plan on playing the fool thats gets both of us killed. If someone does not come out here to negotiate with me I shall take my leave and your employer shall have nothing but the corpse of a girl who shall bring down the wrath of powerful nobles with nothing more to lose.'

    After a few seconds Drake turns as if to leave and starts to slowly take steps back down the path.

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    Bluff for ending the negotiations (1d20+7)[11]
    "Facilis Descensus Averni." - Virgil, The Aeneid

    “Why would I want to win anything other than a beautiful game?” - Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear


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