A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Jan 2017

    Default Planar Odyssey [IC]


    The Great Void of the Astral Plane

    Spoiler: Atticus
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    Perhaps growing up in a world where magic was unknown made traversing the planes harder, or perhaps in some ways it was easier as everything was equally strange and alien. You’d been here long enough to know the type of creature you were dealing with here, a devil of no small power named Talsamoch. Its corpulent red body almost reminded you of Santa Claus when it bellowed its deep laugh, and it seemed safe enough to at least remain in its presence among mixed company. Every night, in that planar tavern, the devil returned and subtly encouraged the patrons to partake in jaunty tunes as he spent coin freely.

    On occasion the devil would speak to you, clearly interested in getting to know everyone who frequented that tavern but also respectful of your privacy. One day, you overheard Talsamoch in a conversation with another tavern regular, “Souls? Dear me no! I gave up on that trade centuries ago. You wanna hear the full story? Course you do! You see, it never quite sat right with me. Sowing the seeds of doubt into the pompous and self-righteous was and still is fun, but tempting them to damnation? There’s no point to that callous suffering. At first I thought I just didn’t care for the whole eternal torment thing, but as the centuries wore on it eventually dawned on me that this wasn’t who I am. So I got up, gave my boss the middle finger, and plane shifted outta there. I bummed around the cosmos for a few decades before I met an old acquaintance. An Archon who had actually put some thoughts into what I’d told him back when I was with hell, and he’d given *his* superiors the finger and got outta heaven. Told me about a place in the far reaches where no one is defined by which plane they formed from, where you can just be you, and didn’t have to worry about some archon splitting your head because you’re a devil. So, I made the trip to Basrakal, and did a few decades stint with a temple there run by an Asurendra named Ursiyam. Wise and ancient bitch who can see your inner conflicts as easy as she can see your face. After a few one-on-one sessions with her, I decided to let every soul I’d ever signed go, no strings attached. Haven’t looked back since,”

    This was the first you’d heard of Basrakal, and it piqued your interest - if for no other reason than it sounded like somewhere your pursuers would have a hard time finding you. With no means of transit out of your current planar hub for at least a few days, you continued to visit the tavern. On occasion the devil would speak to you, always eager to give you advice and poking you with questions, but never pressing too deep at once.

    Then one day you had a bad feeling as you left the tavern. The streets seemed *too* empty. You ducked into a back alley and broke into a paranoid run. You heard other footsteps nearby as your darted through the twisting paths between buildings before coming face to face with a half-elf. You’d remembered him from the tavern, but couldn’t quite place his name. Before you had much time to react, they were upon you. Angels on either side, trapping the two of you in between them. You instinctively fell back to back with the half-elf, holding your grandpappy’s musket and prepared to make a last stand when a familiar voice rang out, “hey now, what are you troublemakers up to?” Talsamoch bloated body floated down from up above.

    “This is none of your business, devil, and we have no cause of action against you; begone,” one of the angels waved his sword threateningly at the devil.

    “See, that attitude is exactly why this is my business,” he turns to Atticus and Rhennar and passes something to each of you, “head back to the tavern, give the barkeep this, and tell him to scramble the portal afterwards so these *******s can’t follow you,”

    “If you think we’re letting our marks escape, you have-” the angel prepares to rush forward.

    “Too late!” the devil cries as flashes of magic erupt around you. Amid the chaos you sprinted back to the tavern. What follows was a blur as the barkeep lead the two of you to a secret room in the basement containing a portal. When you next had a moment to collect yourself, you found yourself in a port on the Astral seas, Ankoro. Talsamoch’s charity and assistance were fresh upon your mind as you considered what to do next, and his earlier words about Basrakal resounded in your mind. This time, though, you had a compatriot.


    Spoiler: Rhenner
    Show

    Having been raised in a place that taught you they were myth, you’re unsure whether it was more or less difficult to become accustomed to this rather unorthodox devil. You knew that Talsamoch was a being of great power not to be trifled with, but at the same time his deep laugh was infectious and it seemed safe enough to at least remain in its presence among mixed company. Every night, in that planar tavern, the devil returned and subtly encouraged the patrons to partake in jaunty tunes as he spent coin freely.

    On occasion the devil would speak to you, clearly interested in getting to know everyone who frequented that tavern but also respectful of your privacy. One day, you overheard Talsamoch in a conversation with another tavern regular, “Souls? Dear me no! I gave up on that trade centuries ago. You wanna hear the full story? Course you do! You see, it never quite sat right with me. Sowing the seeds of doubt into the pompous and self-righteous was and still is fun, but tempting them to damnation? There’s no point to that callous suffering. At first I thought I just didn’t care for the whole eternal torment thing, but as the centuries wore on it eventually dawned on me that this wasn’t who I am. So I got up, gave my boss the middle finger, and plane shifted outta there. I bummed around the cosmos for a few decades before I met an old acquaintance. An Archon who had actually put some thoughts into what I’d told him back when I was with hell, and he’d given *his* superiors the finger and got outta heaven. Told me about a place in the far reaches where no one is defined by which plane they formed from, where you can just be you, and didn’t have to worry about some archon splitting your head because you’re a devil. So, I made the trip to Basrakal, and did a few decades stint with a temple there run by an Asurendra named Ursiyam. Wise and ancient bitch who can see your inner conflicts as easy as she can see your face. After a few one-on-one sessions with her, I decided to let every soul I’d ever signed go, no strings attached. Haven’t looked back since,”

    This was the first you’d heard of Basrakal, and it piqued your interest - if for no other reason than it sounded like somewhere your pursuers would have a hard time finding you. With no means of transit out of your current planar hub for at least a few days, you continued to visit the tavern. On occasion the devil would speak to you, always eager to give you advice and poking you with questions, but never pressing too deep at once.

    Then one day you had a bad feeling as you left the tavern. The streets seemed *too* empty. You ducked into a back alley and broke into a paranoid run. You heard other footsteps nearby as your darted through the twisting paths between buildings before coming face to face with a human. You’d remembered him from the tavern, with his distinctive firearm slung over his back, but couldn’t quite place his name. Before you had much time to react, they were upon you. Angels on either side, trapping the two of you in between them. You instinctively fell back to back with the human prepared to make a last stand when a familiar voice rang out, “hey now, what are you troublemakers up to?” Talsamoch bloated body floated down from up above.

    “This is none of your business, devil, and we have no cause of action against you; begone,” one of the angels waved his sword threateningly at the devil.

    “See, that attitude is exactly why this is my business,” he turns to Atticus and Rhennar and passes something to each of you, “head back to the tavern, give the barkeep this, and tell him to scramble the portal afterwards so these *******s can’t follow you,”

    “If you think we’re letting our marks escape, you have-” the angel prepares to rush forward.

    “Too late!” the devil cries as flashes of magic erupt around you. Amid the chaos you sprinted back to the tavern. What follows was a blur as the barkeep lead the two of you to a secret room in the basement containing a portal. When you next had a moment to collect yourself, you found yourself in a port on the Astral seas, Ankoro. Talsamoch’s charity and assistance were fresh upon your mind as you considered what to do next, and his earlier words about Basrakal resounded in your mind. This time, though, you had a compatriot.


    Spoiler: Sasha and Kethor
    Show
    The room is set; two fires burn on either side of the table, with the harrower sitting across from the siblings. In the center of the table a deck of cards sits. The woman looks at you, “there is something that the cards want to tell you. I have seen this only a few times, and I must warn you that it has always portended ill omen. You still have the choice to leave now, but I doubt you will. The cards already know what you wish to ask, so speak it,”

    Sasha clearly articulates a deceptively deep question, “what is our fate?”

    The harrow reaches for the cards, and spreads them out before you, “each of you has a role to play in this world; let us see which card represents you,” she gestures for you each to take one card. No sooner do the siblings hands retract does the harrower sweep the deck back into a tower, “so ends the choosing, and now we shall see what fate has in store for you. Such a question is the purview of the stars, and I can already feel the apprehension in this question. Please, reveal your roles,”

    Looking at Sasha’s card, the harrower nods in agreement, “The Hidden Truth of the suit of books; a portentous role in light of your question. Doubtlessly the cards wish to guide you towards that truth, though we shall need to consult them further to understand what that may be,”

    She then turns to the Kethor and raises an eyebrow, “The Juggler, of the suit of keys; It too is strongly attuned to destiny, but also to deities and those who would meddle with others. Like your sister’s card it is ominous in light of the question asked. These cards suit the two of you very well, and there is great power in this reading,”

    The woman takes both cards and shuffles them back into the deck. She hands the deck to each sibling in turn to cut before setting it down before her. She looks at the two of you and draws nine cards and sets them before you. She hesitates as she lays down the final card, but releases it at least and waves across the row to her right, “your question pertains to the future, but fate transcends and threads through all time. It has its roots in the past, and that is where we shall begin,”

    She turns to the left and flips over a column of three cards. She pauses and breathes deeply as she turns over the last card, then moves her hand up to the first, “The Winged Serpent, of the suit of Stars, is in perfect alignment; it represents balance of knowledge and judgement, and bodes great weal for our question. It is followed by The Dance, of the suit of Keys. This card represents complicated frameworks and cooperation. It too is aligned; I see great stability here. What you have told me of your own history leads me to believe these cards do not refer to your own past, but events much more distant that echo into our present. But it is the last card that causes me pause,” she points to The Hidden Truth, “this is your card, Sasha. It is in the past, not the present or future, that the truth you seek lies. And look, it is misaligned; ordinarily The Hidden Truth is a good omen, but in this position it represents woe. The truth you seek - or perhaps, that you are destined to find - is not a pleasant one,”

    The harrow takes a moment to close her eyes and calm herself before she turns over the next column of cards. She seems almost shocked as she turns over the last card, but once again returns to the first of the three to speak, “Once again, the stars appear to guide you. The Midwife is our first card of the present. It represents new creation and arrivals, and is a hopeful card that I pray outweighs these next two revelations. The next card is The Beating, and represents an unrelenting assault. You will face great hardship, and there will be no reprieve from it,” she then sighs and points to the last card and locks eyes with Kethor, “you already know what I’m going to say, don’t you? This is your card, the Juggler, misaligned much like your sister’s. Your fate is being manipulated by powers beyond our ken, and they do so to your detriment,”

    The woman pauses as her hand gestures to the last column, “as I dealt these cards, I felt great power. The cards want you to know something, they desperately sing answers that you cannot hear and that I can only interpret. Let us see what they have to say,” she turns over only the first card before speaking, “The Empty Throne; this card breaks a pattern,” she gestures to the top row containing the Winged Serpent and the Midwife, “The previous two cards were of the suit of stars and were in perfect alignment. This is the suit of crowns, and it is misaligned. Moreover, the card represents the ghosts of the past that are now gone. The stability that these previous two cards embody does not continue into the future. All that remains is the wisdom and lessons that have been passed down,” she touches the next card then recoils in pain she looks at both of you before reaching out again and gently turning it over, “this is The Owl; our suit of stars once again appears in this column, but in a different row. This is a harsh and unforgiving wisdom, of a natural order that can create new life… or destroy it. Where the stars saw stability and weal in the past and present, they are undecided in the future. Let us see what the last card has in store,”

    She reaches for the last card, flinching but not releasing it as she flips it over. She looks down at the card for a few moments, then at you, “I am sorry,” she shakes her head, “the Waxworks, of the suit of shields. It represents torture, imprisonment, and helplessness,” the woman pauses, but then her demeanor shift, “but look, this card also breaks a pattern,” she gestures to the bottom row, “your two cards are misaligned, but this one is in perfect alignment. Perhaps… perhaps this card represents not an inexorable fate, but what awaits you if the status quo remains unchanged. Your misaligned cards bode ill, but perhaps the trials they portend will save you from a fate far worse,”

    The harrower places the cards solemnly back in the deck, then cuts the deck one more, “but there is one more card I wish to draw. In a dream last night, I saw a premonition of another who is deeply connected with your question today. Please, draw one more card together,” the siblings draw and reveal one last card, “The Unicorn, of the suit of crowns. It both shares the suit and is aligned to the position where we saw The Empty Throne. There is someone who awaits in your future who will offer you what you need, and ask nothing in return. I hope you find this person, before it’s too late,”

    ----

    The memories of the reading were still vivid in Sasha’s mind as she traversed the library. She could not remain here long, not with the assailants so close, but she needed some idea of where she might find refuge. As she thumbed through the book on various esoteric planes, she came to a sudden stop. A bookmark had been left here by a reader, long ago. A harrow card, depicting a Unicorn. Without hesitation she knew her destination, for the page the unicorn had been lodged into described the plane of Basrakal.


    Spoiler: Sefariel
    Show
    “The cycle of souls,” your religious instructor began in his usual monotonous droning voice, as he reads directly from the textbook, “is of critical importance to the healthy function of the multiverse. Souls of mortals are formed of raw potentiality, which is drawn in part from the mortal plane, but in equal measure from the Maelstrom. From this seed of potentiality the mortal soul is formed and begins to grow, and through a lifetime of experience it shall blossom and bear fruit. Upon the death of the mortal its soul is sent to the Boneyard for judgement, where Pharasma assigns it to the plane of best fitting. From there the soul is absorbed into the plane, either being reconstituted into an outsider or broken down into raw quintessence which fuels the planes. This quintessence is ever eroded by the Maelstrom, which converts it back into potentiality, beginning the cycle anew,” you can’t help but yawn, but the instructor sets down the book to begin speaking of his own accord

    “Doubtless you’ve heard of all the major outer planes; Heaven, Axis, the Abyss, and so forth. But today I wish to talk to you about a very small plane that is seldom discussed but holds an important part in the cycle of souls. Basrakal receives no souls or petitioners directly, and is home to no deities who can receive prayer from mortals. Yet it receives enough quintessence to avoid being eroded despite being wholly contained within the raging heart of the Maelstrom. How is this? Well, as we just discussed mortal souls are assigned to the plane which best fits them; that is, the soul in its entirety. A tyrant is sent to hell regardless of what redeeming qualities he may have, and a hero may go to heaven despite a darkness in their heart that they never acted on. In this way the planes receive conflicting forms of quintessence, and must expel it to retain their dominant characteristics. In the usual course, this results in outsiders of varying personalities, but in rare cases these individuals may come to reject the very alignment of their parent plane. These outcasts are drawn to Basrakal, and their presence there provides the quintessence that sustains the plane. Thus, Basrakal serves a valuable role in the cosmic order, absorbing this wayward quintessence that could upset the stable balance of the planes. By its nature it receives less quintessence and erodes more quickly than the major planes, limiting its size and restricting it to the status of a minor plane, but its role is none-the-less a critical one,”

    Years later, standing atop the bodies of both angels and the allies who had fought valiantly with you against them, you cannot help but think of that old lesson. These attacks makes no sense, Sophia cannot fathom why other archons would act with such hostility and refuse to speak to her. If they are not acting like normal archons, perhaps then this has something to do with those wayward cosmic exceptions your teacher was talking about. You’d hesitated to travel to the great beyond, but the more you think about it, the more certain you that your answers are to be found in Basrakal. Only a single one of your allies remains alive, a Nagaji woman named Zaraweti. You can’t exactly recall when the two of you fell in, but you’d surmised that these attacks were as common for her as they are for you. You pulled out the scroll you had been carefully saving, and a tired and weathered tuning fork, hoping it was good for one more trip to Ankoro.


    Spoiler: Zaraweti
    Show
    You’d fallen in with the group of adventurers more or less by chance, simply by virtue of the fact that you were all going in the same general direction. The fact that they didn’t scatter like seeds to the wind when a group of devils attacked certainly helped, although as the attacks persisted the mortality began to rack up. Still, sleep came slightly easier after weeks of shedding blood in each other’s defense, and you had at least some trust for the others to keep watch.

    You held the seed close to your heart as difficult dreams descended upon you. The indignity of becoming a guard, made only worse by the fact that your own resentment validated their decision, turned into torment by the damage you had inflicted in your zeal. “You can never go home, never belong again,” a voice from the void says exactly what you are thinking, but the dream passed.

    Another day, and this time it was angels. When it was devils and demons the group had held together, but being attacked by angels shook some of them deeply to their core. You did notice, however, that the Aasimar in the group seemed entirely unsurprised by this turn of events. A peculiarity, to be sure.

    That night you had the same uneasy dreams. This time, however, a terrifying visage seemed to grow out of the tree you mangled. Its eyes burn with embers of a hatred whose flames were long ago extinguished, “I can’t see you clearly,” she says, “please, show yourself,” in the fugue of dreams you find yourself unable to react to this plea, either to move towards it or fall away. The visage shifts slightly, and for a moment you feel like you’re peering into the cosmos itself. You intrinsically understand that something very distant is reaching out to you, “I’ve seen this before. I want to help you, please come to-,” you’re snapped awake by an alarm. Within a minute you once again stand over the broken bodies of your enemies.

    This time, only a single ally is left standing. The Aasimar Wizard looks despondent, and he pulls out a scroll and a strange metal fork. When he finished casting his spells, you beheld the Astral Sea for the first time. In the distance, there is a crackling storm at the edge of the void. It reminds you very much of the dream you just had. The wizards turns to you and points to that storm, and tells you that it is your shared destination, and perhaps salvation.


    Ankoro has proven safe for at least a spell, and you haven’t yet seen any suspicious behavior on the part of the many outsiders in this port at the edge of the Astral seas. This has allowed you to inquire on passage to Basrakal. It is a rare destination, and the path through the Maelstrom that leads to it is both treacherous and rarely traveled, but strangely there are others seeking passage at about the same time.

    After a few cautious meetings, it slowly dawned on the six of you that you faced a common dilemma. The brother and sister Sasha and Kethor Ven; the last survivors of their adventuring party, Sefariel and Zaraweti; and the unlikely duo united by an angelic ambush, Rhennar and Atticus. The fact that many of you had independently decided to head to Basrakal reaffirmed this decision, and you redoubled your efforts to find passage. A number of interesting leads has come up in the last few days.

    Sefariel discovered that caravan came through Ankoro not long before the group arrived that would be headed into the Maelstrom. While not headed to Basrakal specifically, it could at least get all of you much closer. Unfortunately, it has a few weeks head start. It is within your means to charter a planar skiff to head it off, but this would deplete your currency.

    On one of his many walks Kethor ran in with a group of “privateers”. The ne’er-do-wells are cagey as to their intents, but have stated they’d be willing to take you to Basrakal if you’d do a few jobs on their behalf. You’ll need to arrange a further meeting to get them to elaborate further. They seem to be an untrustworthy and shifty sort, but are the only souls even willing to consider taking you to Basrakal on any payment you can afford.

    Rhennar had a strange run-in with a maverick tiefling in a local inn. The woman owns a planar skiff, but it was impounded by the Ankoro authorities after she committed a crime she simultaneously claims to be innocent of but doesn’t want to talk about. If her skiff could be returned to her, she seems the adventuresome sort who might be willing to guide you through the astral sea.

    However, Atticus has also brought to your attention some cagey behavior he’s observed. It’s mostly been imps and spyglass archons that have disappeared just after they realize he’s spotted them. You’ve all seen this pattern before; you know you don’t have very long.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    Spoiler: OOC
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    When in doubt, let's honour tradition!


    In a relatively quiet corner of a tavern Rhenner looks to the other characters of this strange journey he ended up on. He knew the human man a little and the others none at all, yet they had the same destination, same purpose for finding it and the same pursuers, most likely. "So... Seems like we have a few options to choose from...", he begins carefully, not sure what to expect from this motley crew of fellow hunted individuals.
    Last edited by CWater; 2019-09-01 at 09:38 PM.
    Alamryn Kven, a druid who tries very hard not to be useless.
    Celesta Halla, a fearless barbarian.
    Jheren Falconer, a drifter ranger.
    Rhenner Calami, a snarky medic with an untrustworthy memory.

    DMing Ljonarian Enigma: Imperial Affairs and The Pirate Dream: Sliced Heart

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
    MesiDoomstalker's Avatar

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    The Tiefling. Atticus grunted. She's our only real option; the caravan won't get us to Baskral even if we can catch it. The 'privateers' will just as soon rob us blind the second we're dependent on them for safe travel. He crossed his arms, frowning. Not a great option sure, but it is one ya? He leaned back and sighed, resting his head against the wall, reflexively scanning the room. Besides, its not like any of us will be here for much longer. They're on our trail, we'll have to leave soon anyways.
    Awesome Avvy by Sizlord!

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    "True enough, except we don't know anything about her as she pointedly refuses to say why she lost the skiff. And how would we even get it back? Catching up with the caravan might be costly, but it would get us out of here fastest. They are onto us now, we need to leave quickly."

    The thought of their pursuers makes the half-elf visibly nervous, and he puts his hand on his holy symbol, running his finger on the two lines that form its rather simple engraving.
    Alamryn Kven, a druid who tries very hard not to be useless.
    Celesta Halla, a fearless barbarian.
    Jheren Falconer, a drifter ranger.
    Rhenner Calami, a snarky medic with an untrustworthy memory.

    DMing Ljonarian Enigma: Imperial Affairs and The Pirate Dream: Sliced Heart

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    "We do have an array of options available, yes" Sefariel replied evenly and softly, seated comfortably against the outer wall of the tavern, his hands pressed up against his temples.

    "The caravan would be the safest by far, were we able to catch them. I don't mind the cost particularly. There is safety in numbers, after all. But I do recognize the potential difficulties in the rapid travel required to make their acquaintance. I admit some discomfort with this tiefling -- if their transport has been impounded for some indiscretion, as seems probable, we would most likely bring additional attention upon ourselves from the local authorities. The other group may carry a similar penalty depending on the nature of their dispositions."

    "Were it solely my choice, I would seek additional information on both fronts. Why has the tiefling's ship been taken away, and is there a way to retrieve it sensibly? If so, and I use that word 'if' most advisedly, that would be acceptable. Meanwhile, the other group -- can they be trusted? Failing that, what are their capabilities? They may think they are at a position of advantage, but if they are not as capable as we, they may find themselves quickly disabused of the notion of aggression. Mind you, I am not suggesting violence by any means, merely a show of strength sufficient to deter such from their position."

    " I believe I would suggest attempting to find the answers to these questions, with utmost haste of course. I do recognize the dangers inherent in delay."

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    "I can get the tiefling to talk," says the nagaji, taking a sip of her ale. "Can't say I really care what she's done, though. More to the point, she's our fastest and cheapest option for getting to Baskaral. And I know how to choose my battles. Who'd you rather fight: some impound guards, and maybe a single woman who couldn't hold onto a ship by herself? Or whoever the pirates don't want to fight personally, and probably the cutthroats themselves when they turn on us?"
    Last edited by Cyclopean; 2019-09-02 at 02:48 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    "I believe you present a false dichotomy, Zaraweti. It may not be necessary to fight either one. But since you ask: I would be much more concerned about a single individual in full command of such highly valuable merchandise. Were she less than extremely capable, I doubt she would hold it for long, were there pirates capable of taking it from her. A group operating together for profit can be divided as necessary."

    "Even so, I shall defer to your mutual decision. I just ask that we be careful."

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    Observing the intriguing assembly of adventurers discuss their options, Kethor sat to the right of his sister, feet kicked up on the table. His eyes occasionally flicked in the direction of the main entrance to the tavern, keeping watch for any unwelcome guests.

    "That's one way to look at it. Another perspective: what if we get captured, whether by the law or those pirates and, as our progress is delayed, our friendly pursuers catch up with us? That said, I'd rather take my chances with the authorities than risk struggling to catch up to the caravan or left stranded if the pirates betray us."

    "If we want to figure more out about both the tiefling and the pirates, I might as well go see about the latter. Already ran into them, and I'm not exactly distant from that sort. Or I could ask around about the former if we're agreed on that. Somebody's bound to know where it is."

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    "Gathering information is probably best before we commit ourselves", Rhenner agrees and nods to Sefariel, "I don't consider myself much of a talker, so it's good to hear others have got that covered." He glances at Kethor and the reptilian woman, Zaraweti was it? In some other time and place, long ago, he would probably have thought she was a very strange creature, and wouldn't have known what to make of her. In this time and place however, she was no stranger than any of them, really, and whether he understood her or not didn't matter.

    "I'm not opposed to helping the tiefling, though it does sounds like that might mean stepping on the toes of the local authorities and I'm not too thrilled about that. Our current enemies are more than enough. That said... I guess it wouldn't be the first law I've broken in my life." Rhenner grabs his mug and takes a sip of whatever passes for a drink around here.
    Last edited by CWater; 2019-09-02 at 06:50 PM.
    Alamryn Kven, a druid who tries very hard not to be useless.
    Celesta Halla, a fearless barbarian.
    Jheren Falconer, a drifter ranger.
    Rhenner Calami, a snarky medic with an untrustworthy memory.

    DMing Ljonarian Enigma: Imperial Affairs and The Pirate Dream: Sliced Heart

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    Though trust was difficult to come by for Sasha, it had appeared that they had lucked upon others of their kind in the four travelers that she now sat with in an astral tavern. It raised a certain few questions about the purposes of their attackers, considering the varied nature made for little in the way of patterns for her to go off of and make any guesses. Perhaps something deeper than on the surface, but she was in no position to check or find out without some invasive questioning. That would only create problems rather than solve them, and take too much time.

    Time that they didn't have, if she could fully believe this Atticus's reports that there were imps and archons on the horizons following them... and she had no reason to not trust it. With little time, they couldn't really work out too many things before heading off to Basrakal, and as well traveled the group could be, this was still the Astral Plane, making it likely foreign territory for them all. This made their options quite difficult to choose out of. "Privateers is a very colorful way of saying pirates, if I may interject, and the typical tiefling Astral Plane captain is also no better for trustworthiness. She could be innocent of every crime Ankoro could levy against her, and I still would have qualms about her trustworthiness. The resources of our pursuers are those of entire planes, it feels like, meaning that either she will fail to match up to the competence we desire in the face of that, or the loyalty we'd hope for. A caravan is hardly full of trustworthy figures, but they're likely the easiest and fastest way to cross the planar barrier, no strings attached."

    She swept her hands across the stacks of tomes she carried that lay to her side, glancing at them as her eyes flitted across the room in a fit of consideration, but she grabbed a hold of herself and spoke again with little pause, "Problem would be catching up. I am not averse to throwing coin at the problem, but we run into the same problem that either we pilot it ourself, or take on a crew. A crew ought to face similar issues as the tiefling or the privateers in our situation. If any of you have an idea of how to handle a skiff, it would be nice, but if not, we need another option. A teleportation ritual to catch up, maybe. It would take some time, but it would be a step up from the strangers. I'm... reticent on not handling this ourselves."

  11. - Top - End - #11
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    Atticus rose, leaning on the table and looking down slightly at the others. Look, we don't have time ta argue. We've got less than a day before we're swamped with every Tom, Dic and Harry with a horn or halo aiming for our guts on the streets. We don't have time to argue more-n'-less figure out the complex arcane intricacies of a teleportation ritual that travels through the Astral to reach a different part of it. He breathed in to steady himself before continuing, voice dropping to just above a whisper. None of our options are great, ya? We aren't getting out of this peachy clean with no risk. I say, we take the most direct, promising option with ta fewest complicated factors. One untrustworthy Tiefling is easier to deal with and keep an eye on than a load of pirates or a giant caravan.

    Standing up fully now, he addresses the group as a whole. Now lets start movin'. You he pointed to the snake woman, Zaraweti. And you to the aasimar, Sefariel. Go find this Tiefling. Figure out what she's capable of, why they got her skiff on lock up. Make her an offer; we spring her skiff, she takes us to Baskaral. He turned to the siblings (he still wasn't quite used to Half-Orcs). You two can sneak into wherever they are keeping this skiff ya? Go in and scope it out. Figure out the best way in for all of us and the path of least resistance. Do it quiet like. Don't want to spook them. He finally turned to the Half-Elf. You and me will hit the pavement; find word on the street. See what we can find about our options and what not. He waited a moment for people to jump to the task. When they didn't (because why would they?) he gestured generally. C'mon then, lets get going! I don't feel like pissing off another innkeep by punching holes in their wall!
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    After a brief discussion of their options, the group disperses into three pairs, each with their own purpose to pursue.

    Sefariel & Zaraweti
    You find the tiefling exactly where Rhenner last saw her; playing cards at one of the local bars. You appear to have arrived at a game time, as the other players at her table seem to be leaving. All of them give her a dirty look as she slides every last coin on the table to her corner and begins to stow them. There's a wry smile on her face as she does so. She looks up at you as you approach. Her eyes are first drawn to Zaraweti's imposing frame, and she whistles as her frame comes to loom over the tiefling.

    "Wowie, you're an impressive one. I don't suppose you care for a round of keys and crowns?" she asks as she deftly flicks the cards between her hands, but she pauses as she peers around the nagaji to see Sefariel.

    "Oh hey, you're a cutie. Have the look of a man who wouldn't leave a woman down on her luck hanging," she blushes slightly as she looks down at her impressive winnings, "figuratively speaking of course," she snaps to her feet and graciously extends her hand, "the name's Tanner. Formerly Captain Tanner of the Cerulean Gray,"

    Sasha/Kethor
    It doesn't take much inquiry to deduce where the tiefling's skiff is, though getting close without attracting unwanted attention requires some caution. There is a fortified compound that encircles part of the harbor area, and among the patrol vessels suitable for only short excursions into the void of the astral sea is a small but sleek-looking skiff with flamboyant coloration. Streaks of purple and yellow clash with the pristine white of the Ankoro Peacekeeper vessels.

    Approaching as close as you can, you can see a pair of Janni standing on guard at the gates of the facility, and the skiff appears to be secured quite well by chains. While it would be easy to make a rush for the skiff, freeing it from its shackles would be the real challenge, and it would be right under the nose of the Peacekeepers.

    As you move about, you notice a group of Peacekeepers approaching, with a strange figure walking in their midst. A reptilian face, a long flowing beard, and an otherwise humanoid body garbed in a long flowing robe. He seems to be having a conversation with a Sylph Peacekeeper who is escorting him. You nonchalantly keep moving to avoid drawing unnecessary attention.

    Spoiler: Sasha only
    Show

    You recognize this individual as a Reptial Agathion


    Spoiler: Kethor only
    Show

    You manage to overhear some of the conversion, as they are speaking in celestial

    "and the whole apparatus has been jury-rigged. Petri can't figure out how it works and is afraid to try to fly it. We really appreciate that you're helping to shed some light on this, Kassrin," the sylph remarks.

    "hmm... well, I can't make any promises, but I'll take notes and see what I can find. I may need to make a few trips back to the library if the manuals I brought aren't sufficient," the reptile-headed outsider speaks.

    "Whatever you need, we're just happy to have your assistance in the matter,"


    Atticus/Rhenner
    The two of you make your rounds through the city. It doesn't take much prodding to learn about the caravan that came through here and departed a little over a week ago. It is apparently headed by an unusual duo: an Axiomite named Xaro and a Rakshasa named Amber, both merchants with good standing and reputation. They're known for running a lucrative circuit around the astral plane for the past century, and a fair number of travelers and merchants time their own trips to coincide with the caravans to gain safety in number. They are presently on the leg of their trip towards the Maelstrom, which would serve your purposes, and it's always possible someone in the caravan is going to break away and head further in that direction.

    You also learn a bit more about the "privateers" Kethor learned of. The group is called Daggan's Wolves. They claim to be bounty hunters and mercenaries, but were put on trial in Ankoro at one point on charges of piracy. The charges didn't stick, mostly due to a number of credible witnesses providing a strong alibi as to their whereabouts at the time of the alleged attack. You get the sense that the merchants have a low opinion of the group, but many of the travelers and laborers seem to think they're being picked on. There may be a class divide at play here, but the best that can be said of them is that they're mercenaries in it for the coin.

    You don't learn much of note about the tiefling, other than she hasn't been to Ankoro before and that the name she goes by - Tanner - isn't her real name. Also, she's been accused of cheating at cards but no one has been able to prove it.

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    "These stories put the pirates in a slightly better light", Rhenner comments to Atticus, "Though that still doesn't mean we should trust them. Especially if they conclude we have wealth they think could better be used elsewhere. We also don't know what they would like us to do for them first, could well be there's a merchant they want to rob." He shakes his head, "But then again the tiefling seemed shifty too. With options this good we might as well toss a coin to decide."

    As they continue their walk around the city, Rhenner refers to the earlier discussion in the tavern, after which their little party had momentarily split up. "You were quick to take charge, happen to have experience in giving orders? Don't take this as a criticism, if someone doesn't sketch a path forward, nothing gets done. And one can always disagree, if it's important. Anyway, I was curious?"
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    DMing Ljonarian Enigma: Imperial Affairs and The Pirate Dream: Sliced Heart

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    Atticus was out of sorts. He realized that, despite him assigning himself to this task, he wasn't the best with words or rumors or anything of the sort. Even as they spoke with people on the street, he had already regretted putting himself to this task and not some other that may have been better suited. He almost jumped when Rhenner addressed him, so lost in his own self-doubt. Uh... no, actually. Quite the opposite. Where I grew up, you listened ta your father, no questions asked. And then... I guess you'd call it a first job was similar. Follow orders, don't ask questions. Yes Sir, no Sir, right away Sir. He stood up straight, mocking salute.

    Truth be told, I just didn't like waiting. Decisive action has kept me alive through this weird-azz journey so far. Ain't broke, don't fix it. He became quiet for a few moments, before adding, a mumbling a bit. 'Course, I ain't no Captain.
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    Sefariel returned the tiefling's handshake -- friendly, but businesslike at the same time was the right tone to set. "I am sorry to hear of your misfortune, but pleased for you that it seems to be changing. I will be brief, so that you can resume your game quickly enough."

    "We are in search of someone that might be able to transport us to Basrakal -- we are intending to do some research there. It is my understanding that you have -- or, had -- a ship and might be able to provide said transport. It is further my understanding that your ship is currently impounded by the local authorities. We would be willing to do our very best to convince them to release your vessel, or perhaps make arrangements for compensation, in exchange for your providing of the transportation thereafter."


    "I am aware that you dispute the charges -- most do, whether it's true or not. I am not asking if you did it, for the moment, though I admit to curiosity. I am merely asking what the nature of the charges against you may be, so that I know what we are dealing with when we do speak to them. Is that information you're willing to provide? I acknowledge that, for the moment, you're holding all the cards -- figuratively speaking -- but at the same time, there are other potential avenues for us to explore."

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    Tanner releases Sefariel's hands and whistles, "you're pretty forward with a girl you just met, y'know. 'Hey baby, let's head out to the far reaches of the cosmos together, you an me'. Oh, don't gimme that look, I know what you meant," she rolls her eyes and spares a glance to Zaraweti, "yeah, sure, I'd love an excuse to blow this dump, but it ain't like I just gotta pay a fine or something to get my ride back. I'm a victim here, they know this is a personal matter and I can't exactly bare my innermost secrets publicly, and they're counting on it to seize my property without me being able to contest it. I know it's a lot to ask to believe a stranger sight unseen, but this really ain't something I can talk about,"

    Spoiler: Sefariel
    Show

    You get the sense that Tanner desperately wants to keep the situation surrounding the seizure of her skiff private, but you can't get a sense of whether this a genuine personal concern or if she's trying to be deceptive. She seems forthright, but she also seems to have a very slick tongue.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Scratching her bare forearm like some kind of Pesh addict as she moved past the compound with Kethor, she couldn't help but wonder as to the nature of the realms in which they now proceeded that Janni could exist so regularly in the same frame of mind as a Reptial and strange psychically controlled skiffs. Reading about individual kinds of outsiders and their homes, or summoning one to the Prime gave one a point of reference that did not allow for a proper understanding of these middle grounds, where outsiders of all kinds mingled, no matter how much she could read about the Astral Plane and the Maelstorm. The complexity of the world she now inhabited was strangely wonderful... and terrifying, presenting countless interpretations, avenues of threat, firing lines, and concepts she couldn't anticipate. It was an unenjoyable sensation to be so out of one's own lane without more preparation, but she no longer had the time to be as cautious as she usually was. If it were not for Kethor, she probably wouldn't have managed to think that way even, and would've spent dozens of hours making as much progress as she had.

    She glanced at his face, but caught a hold of herself, remembering both her place and the words said all those years ago. Shaking her head, she whispered to Kethor "Can you make anything out from what the reptial is saying? A scholarly agathion in a compound of skiffs must have something interesting for us to work with. If we decide to trust that tiefling, I think we could make a break for it, unchain it, and get away, but the circumstances might change by the time we return, and with all those Peacekeepers around, they'd immediately give chase."

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    Goblin

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    Cruising along the streets at his usual quick pace, Kethor does his best to appear inconspicuous as he observes the compound, trying to figure out ideal paths of entry, routes which provide the most cover, places where the guards might make the most movement and come into view from. Fortunately, in as strange and diverse a settlement as Ankoro, a half-orc is relatively mundane a creature. He hopes, anyway. As he is focused on the chains binding the skiff to the harbor, a bit of movement draws his attention. Some strange looking reptile... thing, speaking to another Peacekeeper. Fortunately, he manages to overhear some of their conversation.

    As his sister faces him, he catches her flinch slightly. He forms a faint smile, partly amused and partly pained, then mutters in a low tone "Seems the bearded lizard, Kassrin, has been hired to mess with the skiff. Apparently the tiefling had it rigged in such a way that they can't figure out how to work it. Lizard says he might need to get more supplies from some library, and the guards seem happy to oblige as much as they can."

    He continues pacing in a more meandering fashion. "Looks like it'll need a new paint job."

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    Quote Originally Posted by MesiDoomstalker View Post
    Atticus was out of sorts. He realized that, despite him assigning himself to this task, he wasn't the best with words or rumors or anything of the sort. Even as they spoke with people on the street, he had already regretted putting himself to this task and not some other that may have been better suited. He almost jumped when Rhenner addressed him, so lost in his own self-doubt. Uh... no, actually. Quite the opposite. Where I grew up, you listened ta your father, no questions asked. And then... I guess you'd call it a first job was similar. Follow orders, don't ask questions. Yes Sir, no Sir, right away Sir. He stood up straight, mocking salute.

    Truth be told, I just didn't like waiting. Decisive action has kept me alive through this weird-azz journey so far. Ain't broke, don't fix it. He became quiet for a few moments, before adding, a mumbling a bit. 'Course, I ain't no Captain.
    "Guess that first job taught you something then", Rhenner smirks, "Like it or not. I used to be a follower of orders too, at one time in the far past, before the lies became too glaring and I couldn't stand it. At least... I think that was the reason I left." He shrugs. "Anyway, as I said, I don't mind getting orders. Gets things done."
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    DMing Ljonarian Enigma: Imperial Affairs and The Pirate Dream: Sliced Heart

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    "It could do with being a little less garish but with nightmares on my heels I don't think I particularly care if I arrive in purples and yellows or pink and red. Kassrin, eh? An Agathion named Kassrin... doesn't ring a bell as any of the big ones, not that I expected one." she mused, matching Kethor's stride but not his pace as she lagged behind somewhat.

    "The nature of the skiff gives some credence to the tiefling, though. Rigged up non standard that they have to bring a scholar in? Any idea how long it might take him? Because it does also put a bit of a time restraint on us."

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    Goblin

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    "True enough. Paint job might give us some more time if we need it, but it might be better to fly under these colors. They seem more neutral, even if they're a bit... zany. Wonder how the others are doing chatting up with her." He yawns a bit as he slows down even more, going from meandering to downright moseying. Looking somewhat more serious, he continues in a quiet tone.

    "Uncertain. Couldn't quite tell what the exact issue was, so there isn't really any way for me to narrow it down. Of course, we could always just try to figure out a way to slow down his progress. If we get the chance we could try to do some more thorough investigation by nightfall, see how this place is organized then."

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    Quote Originally Posted by CWater View Post
    "Guess that first job taught you something then", Rhenner smirks, "Like it or not. I used to be a follower of orders too, at one time in the far past, before the lies became too glaring and I couldn't stand it. At least... I think that was the reason I left." He shrugs. "Anyway, as I said, I don't mind getting orders. Gets things done."
    I think I understand where your comin' from. Back where I'm from, Angels and Demons are just kinda stories they tell ta make people stay on ta straight and narrow. Dunno why they only show up ta kill me but they did. So when word got 'round, I was labeled an anti-christ. Uh... I think the word is Blasphemer? Basically, they thought it was my own fault for these damn outsiders comin' to kill me. He sighed. Those people were my neighbors. Helped bring in the harvest every year; went ta church every Sunday together. And they turned on me and Ma and Pa just like that.

    He paused, studying Rhenner for a moment. 'Course, elves were just stories too. A lot different than the real ones, actually. Boy they sure got them wrong.
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    Daemon

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    Zaraweti drummed her fingers on the table while Sefariel circled around the reality of the situation. It frustrated her how cagey he could be, but she trusted him enough to follow his lead in negotiating.

    "Well, like my friend here said, there's 'other potential avenues.' We're traveling with four others, and given that we're all eager to get to Baskaral, we're willing to explore them aggressively." She leans forward, and puts on her best insincere smile. "Your secrets can stay your own business. We just need to know that if we can get you back in your boat, you can get us where we're going, and there won't be any complications from your end slowing us down."

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    The tiefling nods at Zaraweti, "oh, I like you. The kind of person who cuts directly to the heart of the issue, the kind of person who knows her destination and wants to go there directly. I think you and I could have a great working relationship," she grins and gives a wink, "you do good by me, I do good by you. Tanner looks after her friends,"

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    Made sense, Kethor had always been able to hear even the squeaks of distant mice, but even that couldn't tell them everything from where they were in relativity. "We might not have until nightfall, but with the way this is going, it doesn't seem like we have a choice. I think if the others make much progress with the captain of our good ship, we might have to plan to leave tonight with them helming it. You're thinking of stealing it yourself, aren't you? Seems like the sort of thing you'd come up with. Well, don't, because it's an astral skiff, you need to by psychic to pilot that. Let's check out the compound's exits and entrances a bit more, I think we should be able to talk about its ins and outs when we get back to the others. You're the Eagle Eye, spot anything useful?"

    Sasha clicked her tongue, and then spoke again, "We should pay a visit to this library if that 'Kassrin' heads that way. I'm... very interested, to be frank. It'll serve more than just a singular purpose."

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Planar Odyssey [IC]

    Quote Originally Posted by MesiDoomstalker View Post
    I think I understand where your comin' from. Back where I'm from, Angels and Demons are just kinda stories they tell ta make people stay on ta straight and narrow. Dunno why they only show up ta kill me but they did. So when word got 'round, I was labeled an anti-christ. Uh... I think the word is Blasphemer? Basically, they thought it was my own fault for these damn outsiders comin' to kill me. He sighed. Those people were my neighbors. Helped bring in the harvest every year; went ta church every Sunday together. And they turned on me and Ma and Pa just like that.

    He paused, studying Rhenner for a moment. 'Course, elves were just stories too. A lot different than the real ones, actually. Boy they sure got them wrong.
    "Stories can get a lot of things wrong, yeah. The farther away they're told from the source the more twisted they get, usually. I'm not a full elf, you know, but a mix-blood, part human. Like that guy Kethor, except different other half. So if you put it all together, we've got a total of 3 humans worth, half and elf and half and orc in the party. And whatever Sefariel and Zaraweti are, I'm not entirely sure to be honest. But I'm curious, what are elves like in those stories of your world?" Rhenner asks, his mouth sliding to a lopsided smile.
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    DMing Ljonarian Enigma: Imperial Affairs and The Pirate Dream: Sliced Heart

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    Kethor grumbles a bit, mildly amused. "Psychic boats aren't really my style anyway. It's not even in pink." He chuckles as he casts a sideways glance back towards the compound. "Not much else I can see, unfortunately. Looks pretty open. We'll either have to go in quick or whip up some magic to deal with the lack of cover ourselves."

    Turning to face the joint one last time, he nods slightly. "Alright. Let's check it out. Hopefully we can get those manuals before our scaled friend doubles back. Not the most thrilling journey but it might come in handy if we get delayed for whatever reason." He taps his temple with his index finger. "Plan ahead, right?"

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    Sasha gave a sarcastic smirk back as a response, remembering well that Kethor was at heart some kind of fae bastard, but she appreciated his thought at the very least. "At least something I tried to teach you got through your thick skull, which is useful for when you were getting your ass kicked but never when you needed to learn something. Perhaps those ears work after all." she spoke, letting loose a chuckle that surprised her. It felt good to talk to someone again, Kethor most of all.

    But she had to refocus herself yet again, and wiped her eyes, the steely cold returning to them as she moved her hand out of her face. "Library shouldn't be too hard to find, but let's get to it. I'd rather not tangle with the Peacekeepers or that agathion if we can help it, so lets get moving. Plus, if we get the tomes he needs specifically, we can delay them from figuring out... whatever it is that's different about this particular skiff."

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    Sefariel blanched a little bit on the inside, but managed to maintain his placid visage. "I will say that I would be much more comfortable with this option were I more properly informed. I do understand your desire for privacy. It does make it rather difficult to commit ourselves to making Lady Tanner into Captain Tanner once again. Ah well, I'm sure you have plenty of other people willing to act on your behalf, and you'll have your ship back in no time, with or without us, right?"

    The assimar rose with a slight bow and an extended hand in offering of a handshake. "We shall leave it open-ended then? If we are able to procure your vessel, you will provide us transport directly to Baksarel. If not, no hard feelings, and we wish you better luck in the future."
    Last edited by Stelio Kontos; 2019-09-04 at 01:18 PM.

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    Sefariel and Zaraweti
    "That's all I can ask for, cutie," the tiefling winks as the aasimar backs away from the table, "I'll seeya around,"

    As the two are about to walk out the door, the tiefling's voice echoes in both of their heads, "by the way, there's an invisible imp that's following you around, and I think its boss wants to kill you. You might want to shake it. Good luck with that,"

    Everyone Else
    Sasha and Kethor make a few inquiries and quickly ascertain the location of the library, which is not far off the main thoroughfare. Atticus and Rhenner are canvassing the area as the siblings pass through, reuniting this part of the group.

    The library is just around the corner from where you ran into each other, and its history is laid bare by a statue and plaque that stands in front of it. A janni prince is depicted in a striking blue stone, an abacus held in his right hand and a large tome stuffed under his left shoulder. The janni seems incredibly focused in this depiction. At his feet, embossed on shining metal, is the dedication of the building, "Lord Ryel Fairwind Library; through peace and learning comes prosperity. Just as the library contributes to our collective knowledge, so too should you," though you're not entirely clear on the dating convention in Ankoro, this is by far the most recent year you've seen on any public dedication; this library must be relatively new.

    The library doors open to a grand hallway from which multiple stories of bookcases are plainly visible. Another statue of Lord Fairwind, this one even larger, decorates the lobby. A very large lockbox stands in front of the statue with a large sign with the same word written in no fewer than seven languages: "Donations" the statue seems to glare at visitors who enter. The entire complex is in immaculate order, and clearly no expense was spared in producing a library that could easily have served as a palace.

    Watching the lobby is a sylph who is thumbing her way through a book. She looks up to the new entrants, double-takes for a moment, then looks back down, apparently satisfied that you don't seem like troublemakers. You can see two others perusing the books from here. One appears to be a tall figure in a thick robe who is slowly moving along the length of the bookcases reading something in particular. The other is an unusual creature. At first glance you almost mistake it for a pair of air elementals, but it becomes apparent as you observe it that it's a single creature composed of two churning funnels. It leaves no wind in its trail, and has a set of arms on each of its funnels. It has two books open which it appears to be reading at the same time.

    Spoiler: Atticus
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    You recall this creature from a crash course in planar cosmology you received. It's a Synesis Aeon, a creature closely associated with scholars, philosophers, and artists. It often serves as a dispassionate guide to such individuals... but just as quickly can turn on them and destroy their work. Like all aeons they are inscrutable and unpredictable, helpful only up to the point at which they are not.

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