Chapter 1-A war of attrition (Part 3)


The interrogator listens to you distracted, with little interest in your excuses, as if he has heard it all before. Nevertheless, when you are done talking, he orders his inferior to sheathe his knife. He seems to have bought your lie. He gives you no reply, addressing his inferior instead: “Throw him with the rest. It’s the gallows for this one first thing in the morning.” “Aye, sir” the henchman replies, before punching you in the chin. The blow knocks you out once again, and you sink into a deep sleep.

You enter a dream-like state, where everything seems incredibly vivid and alive. You see nothing around you but a large, marble staircase that ascends hundreds of feet to the sky. At the top, you can see a large, ornamental seat and the goddess Matthias urging you to go towards her. You start ascending the stairs, but you are stopped by two figures blocking your way. One is a large man, who wears a blood-red suit of plate mail and carries the tools of war. His face is concealed by a helmet of matching color. The other is a beautiful woman wearing a dress decorated with floral patterns. She carries flowers and a basket filled with fruit. Both of them address you in turn. The warrior goes first:

“I am the aspect of War. I represent the hell of steel, the brutality of battle and the ubiquity of death. You, too, walk the path of war and death; this much I can tell. But you have only just begun treading on this long, treacherous path. If you manage to escape from death’s clutch, you shall see things that you may not be prepared for.
Death will be your constant companion: you will witness the deaths of your enemies [OOC: you see Aurelius dying at your feet] but also of those you love [OOC: you see your wife holding the body of your child]. Old enemies will turn into allies [OOC: you see Graycloak fighting against the Legions] and friends will betray you [OOC: You see the rest of the party members abandoning you]. You will see innocents slain [OOC: you see peasants slaughtered by the militia] and the unjust rise to power [OOC: you see a member of the senate being cheered by the people]. The tide of war will rise and fall, but you will endure. Are you ready to pay this price to see your cause succeed? Are you ready to sacrifice not just your life, but your very soul, to the cause?”

The woman then speaks:

“I am the aspect of Peace. I represent the confidence and serenity that only individuals who stay true to their ideals possess. If you follow my path, you choose not to compromise your beliefs, even when doing so would further your cause. If you choose this road, you must be willing to give your life to uphold your ideals [OOC: you see your own severed head as it rolls on the ground]. You must be ready to put your beliefs ahead of those you love [OOC: you see yourself, waving goodbye to your wife and daughter] and even ahead of what you are fighting for [you see Andelia burning from afar]. But what I can guarantee is that, if you stay true to your beliefs, you will have eternal peace [OOC: you see yourself, in shining armor, standing by Matthias.]”

[OOC: If it’s not clear, I am giving you a “do the means justify the ends” dilemma here. If you choose the man, your answer is yes. You will have a greater chance of escaping / recovering your items, but this will be the darker, more pragmatic choice. If you choose the woman, your answer is no. Escaping might be more difficult, and recovering your items will also be challenging. There is no cost to your PC (other than maybe some items) but you should role-play your choice. I would also suggest making some of those scars / head injuries leave a permanent mark, so that Malcom will be physically changed through this experience, but this is eventually up to you.]
As Jules finishes assembling the makeshift stretcher, he thinks of the best way to keep the man from going to the guards. He tries his best to act priestly in front of the man.

“Sir, you have done more zan could be asked of anyone. And Ah know zat ze goddess will remember your generosity tonight. Ah could not ask you to break ze curfew and endanger yourself. We will not stay and impose any longer zan is necessary to make sure we can transport zis man. You have done a good thing opening your house to zos you don’t know, and offering your bed to a stranger, and Ah will not ask more of you. Ah will go and alert ze guards and have zem meet us at ze temple where we will take zis man.”

With that Jules heads out the front door of the house, and as soon as he feels he is out of sight he finds a dark place to hide for ten minutes. all the while he keeps an eye out for suspicious activity or guards on patrol, waiting for an ideal time to return, having ‘told the guards’ all about the situation.

[OOC: Diplomacy (10) and Bluff (9) to get the man to accept Jules’ decision.]
Stealth – (1d20+7)9
Perception – (1d20+3)21
Caithas watches Jules leave with trepidation. After all, he didn’t know the healer and Elana wasn’t exactly the ideal companion to be left alone with. He’d fought and bled with Jules and Malcom; these two women, while both rather stunning to look at, were not what one would call battle-hardened.

Still, there were worse places on this plane than being stuck with two beautiful women.

“Well, as you said, my lady,” the ranger says, turning to the cleric, “this man must be taken to a temple. Do you know of one close by perhaps? I will try to shoulder the burden if you can point the way for me.”

He then turns to Elana.

“And what of you, madam? Will you wait for your…ahhh, ahem…husband, I presume, here? Or will you join the sister and myself in bringing this man to a holy place to be properly healed?”

As he waits, the half-elf’s eyes drift to the paralyzed man laying before them.

Heal him, aye…but not do much that he will ever be able to raise a blade again, I hope. If this poor bastard ever wakes up…truly remembers…gods help us all.
Ariel nods to Caithas. “Yes, follow me.” She lifts one end of the makeshift stretcher and proceeds to head out of the hut. She weaves her way through the streets trying her best to focus.

She hesitates momentarily at a cross street, the memory fresh in her mind, “I’m sorry Ariel you must leave at once!” Aldus’ face as he ushered her out… She shakes her head shrugs her head right. “This way.”

She does her best to sneak through the streets moving as hasty as they can with the man in tow. They come across what was once a beautiful structure that has clearly worn down with age and disuse. She sets the man gently on the ground and swings open the wooden door to the small temple. The main area of the temple is a long hallway with various doors off. Ariel leads the group to a room with several small cots. As gingerly as possible she aids in setting the man onto one. She then ducks out of the room, returning moments later with a two acolytes carrying bags of medical supplies. She turns to the strange group. “Thank you for calling for me when you did, You probably saved this man’s life. My name is Ariel Rolden, how may I address you?”

((OOC:If you need rolls for moving through the city, I’ll change it.))
“Ahhh…yes, well I’m…ahhh…Caithas,” the half-elf finishes lamely, unable to remember his rarely used pseudonym.

“It is a pleasure to meet you Ariel. Tell me, what church do you hail from?”

After a slight pause, the ranger adds with a smile, “A church with members as beautiful as you is one I need to start frequenting, I’d say.”
Ariel looks to the other half elf, and she hesitates before answering, “Uh, until recently I followed the Goddess Echo…however recent…uh…events have shown me other paths that the gods have for me. We are in the temple of Delrodin here.”

She blushes slightly at Caithas’ compliment, then turns hastily to the others hoping to hide the color in her cheeks.
“Delrodin, you say? Just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?”

Caithas grins at the cleric. A healer, and a pretty girl who can take a compliment? Not too shabby, he thinks as he continues talking.

“I’m no theologian, my lady, so I fear I’m unfamiliar with the god of this temple. Tell me, what does he…er, or she…represent? I’ve always been more of a Half-Blood man myself,” Caithas finishes with a wry smile.
Jules returns to the house a few minutes later, and he relays the fake situation to the man, “Ah found a small patrol and informed zem of what is happening. Ah told zem we would be taking ze guard to a nearby temple and zat zey should meet us zere. Zey don’t even know you were involved, so Ah see no reason zat you should be troubled about zis situation. Once more, Ah thank you for your generosity and ze kindness you have shown us, it is more zan most would give.”

Finishing his benediction for the man he leaves the house again, giving one last instruction to Caithas as he does, “Please, keep him alive, and safe,” hoping his friend gets the meaning he shakes his head as he leaves, feeling the fake holiness starting to grate against his more traditional skills. He hopes for a chance to change out of the now dirty and damp priestly robes and into something more natural, but to do that he needs a place for his friends and that guard to stay. Whatever temple they go to would help heal him, true, but they wouldn’t provide shelter for a bunch of fugitives. For that he would need Malcom’s contacts. He follows Malcom’s instruction on how to reach them and tries to get in touch with their reinforcements.
She smiles again, “Delrodin is the goddess of freedom and life. She seeks to preserve and protect life, no matter what the cost. All those people who die every day from neglect and cruelty, we have an obligation to stop it.” She can feel the emotion rise in her throat. "She promises that she will provide blessings and power to those who seek to liberate the captive and heal the wounded! When her messengers arrive, the people will be free! Her holy book dictates that while she was part of our world she led revolution and ended injustice! Suddenly Ariel blinks realizing she has been speaking quite loudly.

“I’m sorry, you must think me ridiculous, babbling on like a brook.”She looks embarrassed and looks down at the floor.
“You? Ridiculous? My poor lady…don’t you know that one as comely as you cannot possibly be ridiculous? It’s a proven fact; Z’chiani Q’iaatha herself couldn’t hold a candle to your beauty. I mean no offense nor threat of one, Sister…it is just a fact, no more, no less.”

The ranger marvels at her. Half-elves were a rare breed; their crippling inability to procreate left them an oddity in a world full of oddities. And to find one so kind, so dedicated and so stunning…it was almost enough to make Caithas forget the gravity of the situation.


“You speak with passion for this Delrodin, my lady, yet you say you recently left Echo’s services. How did your passions transfer with such haste?”

With a sideways grin he adds, “Just how much passion do you have, my lady?”
Ariel blushes again, “You are full of flattering words.” The smile fades slightly though when Caithas asks about Echo. “That is a long story, and quite painful if I may say. You are still a stranger to me, perhaps you could tell me more of your story before I share more of mine.”

She gestures out the room and leads down the hall. She ducks into a small room with a wooden table and a small area for food preparation she sits. “How do you come to be here in Andelia? And what of your friends, who was that cleric you were with?”
“My lady…I say this without malice, I swear…but trust goes two ways, I fear. For now, assume I’m a friend…and we shall continue from there when rest and a drink are in our sights instead of a dying man of the guard.”
Ariel yawns and stretches. “Ahh I had forgotten how late it is… perhaps we ought to continue this in the morning when our minds are clearer?” She places a hand down and accidentally bumps Caithas’ hand in the process. She jerks back instinctively then blushes. “Uh… we have guest quarters, you may stay there for the night.” She steps out of the dining area and up a rickety flight of stairs. “Here we are, if you need anything let one of the clerics know.” She bows politely then heads back down the stairs.
“And you, my lady? Where shall you be staying this night? I would hate to take a bed that you yourself need.”
She catches herself on the stair, hearing the man’s voice and smiles slightly. “I have a room of my own, don’t worry about me.” She says without even turning.

Gods… he flirts so shamelessly…and why me? I’ve never been particularly beautiful… Her mind drifts as she moves back to her quarters. Oh…what am I thinking… Mother would be so excited hearing me think about boys…The thought is the last one she has as her eyes close and she slips into a deep sleep.
As Caithas retires to a room to snatch some rest, he falls asleep smiling.

That cleric…by the gods, she makes this whole fucked mission worth it, he thinks.

His smile fades when his dreams turn to Malcom…
((Lord I missed a lot))

While Jules was out seeking Malcom’s contacts, and Caithas was talking to Ariel, Elana sat in the adjacent room feeling both worried and relaxed. The mission was going to hell, and yet here they were in a temple which emanated an aura of tranquility. She took deep breaths. Everyone else seemed to be handling the situation fine. The faint sound of Caithas’ voice breached the wall. Some more than others.

Elana sighed and had a seat. “No good comes of worrying,” she told herself. They were safe, for the moment. Malcom could be dead, and Jules was out being Jules. She just hoped he didn’t get himself stabbed like last name, because Caithas wasn’t going to be there to help him out of this one.

She propped her spear up against the corner, and laid her crossbow on her lap as she leaned against the wall, sitting on the wood floors. As the minutes creeped by, her eyelids started to feel heavier and heavier . . .
Temple of Delrodin (Ariel, Caithas and Elana)

Despite the late hour, the streets are heavily patrolled. With the wounded guard slowing you down, it is impossible to avoid the military patrols, despite your efforts to keep a low profile. However, the guards are used to seeing priests carrying the wounded or dying to their temples. Ariel explains that the wounded man needs to be carried to the temple of Delrodin nearby, otherwise his life may be at stake. The guard in charge of the patrol has little desire to interrupt his routine to escort or question you. He checks under the blanket that covers the improvised stretcher to confirm Ariel’s sayings. Fortunately, the wounded guard’s armor and uniform have been removed, and his wounds make him difficult to identify as a member of the city watch in the darkness. You breathe a sigh of relief as he lets you go on your way, after uttering a few words of caution: “Move along, then. Don’t let me catch you outside again.”

The temple of Delrodin is nestled within the poorer districts of Lower Andelia. A simple, two-storied wooden building, it stands in stark contrast to the imposing churches of the more popular deities, which are housed in the church district. Nevertheless, even at this late hour, the temple is teeming with activity. Most of the rooms feature bunk beds that are currently occupied by many unfortunate souls: sick, wounded or starving men and women are being taken care of by the clerics, who share similar beds in separate rooms. Ariel contacts her colleagues, who quickly tend to the guard, moving him from the stretcher to the temple’s largest room, reserved for the grievously injured. Despite her eagerness to help, her fellow priests discourage Ariel from helping with the man, seeing that she is at the brink of collapse from exhaustion. Instead, she and her two companions are given two rooms to spend the night in. Ariel and Caithas share one, while Elana takes the other. Despite the fuss in the building, everyone quickly falls asleep, worn out after such a long day.

You wake up the next morning to the sounds of a violent snow storm raging outside. The wind is smashing against the temple, giving you the impression that the small building is about to collapse. The priests at the temple seem to take little notice of the storm. After having a humble breakfast, you contact the head priest and inquire about the guard’s situation. The priest informs you that the guard is sleeping, but he is able to communicate, despite his injuries. You are free to visit his room, but, you are not encouraged to interrupt his rest. Ariel observes her new companions a bit more carefully in the daylight. Her attention shifts to Caithas, who seems vaguely familiar, despite the fact that she is certain that she has never met the man before.

[OOC: You can do whatever you want. Talk to the guard, the other priests, seek out contacts or Jules, walk around the city etc. For Ariel, you should do an Intelligence check vs. a DC of 8. If you succeed, you recognize Caithas as one of the wanted men from the posters that have been put up all over the city.]

Housing district in Andelia (Jules)

Jules reassures the peasant before he steps outside his house, in an attempt to convince him that he will seek out help. Careful not to stray too far, Jules walks around the district as stealthily as he can. Other than the increased alertness and prevalence of military forces in this half of the city, there is nothing noteworthy. The night is dark and cold, with the silence being occasionally interrupted by the sounds of the soldiers’ boots as they walk on the snow.

Jules returns to the hut after just a few minutes and reports back to its owner. The man is eager to believe anything at this state, especially when it comes from the mouth of the priest. Jules recalls Malcom’s words before this mission took a turn for the worse. He instructed you to look for Domitius Lepidus at Fence lane 7. You ask for directions from the peasant, before going out once again, to seek out for this Domitius.

You manage to slip through the guarded streets and reach the front door of the house. Trusting blindly in Malcom’s words, you start knocking at the door, hoping that you are at the right place. After a couple of minutes, a weary-eyed figure emerges from behind the door. You ask for his name and, when he replies that he is indeed Domitius, you explain the situation to him. You are rushed inside, the door being hastily closed behind you, and are ushered into the small kitchen. Domitius lights only one candle, unwilling to risk more light, as he shuts the curtains behind the windows. He offers you a cup of tea and gives you the opportunity to recount the night’s events.

In the dim candle light, you see that Domitius is a tall figure, standing at six foot four, at least. He has tanned skin and a large, black beard which reaches down to his chest. Althoug it is difficult to say, he seems in his late thirties to early forties. He appears to be alone in his house, which is in a messy state. Used cutlery are spread across the kitchen table, some containing old food, and there is military gear lying around: a dagger here, a piece or armor there, and a shield leaning against the kitchen wall. Small cockroaches are running around the utensils, but Domitius does not seem to care.

The man listens to your words eagerly, before introducing himself. “I am Domitius Lepidus, but the natives here call me Langbard. Like Malcom, I am a member of the guard, although unlike him, I still maintain my position. Nevertheless, I believe in the cause almost as firmly as he did. We were all afraid that something had happened to him when he stopped showing up for duty. Unfortunately, your presence here suggests that these fears are well-founded.”

[OOC: I will let you disclose as much or as little as you want. If you want to go about it differently, let me know and I will edit.]

“There are pressing issues to discuss, but it is late, and I have to leave early for the barracks tomorrow. I will wake up at the first cock-crow and we can resume our discussion. You can share the bed with me, or sleep on the floor. Suit yourself. We anyway have only a few hours before daybreak.”

[OOC: You can assume that it is dawn when you make your next post. Feel free to ask / do whatever you want.]
Int – (1d20+3)5

As they eat Ariel scrutinizes Caithas. “You seem so familiar…where do I know you from?” She scoops up the meager porridge with a wooden spoon. Why can’t I place him. His face… She immediately blushes realizing how hard she is thinking about him. She begins picking up bowls and carrying them to the kitchen to clean.
Jules introduces himself to the man as Brother Percy, a priest who believes deeply in Malcom’s cause. He doubts that anyone would live in a place like this just to set a trap for him, but he still has no reason to trust the man. He tells the story very briefly, saying only that Malcom has been captured, but that he is working on a way to save him. Jules agrees with the man that they can speak again in the morning, and when asked about the sleeping arrangements he decides to share the bed with Langbard, not eager to let the other vermin in the house crawl over him in his sleep.
Caithas smiles broadly at Ariel.

“I’m the man who shared your bedchamber last night,” the half-elf chided, “do you forget so soon?”

Dammit, he thought. Dammit, fucking hells. It would be so easy to lie. So easy to fool this innocent cleric. But…

She’s honest, kind, trusting…and that face…that smile! That perfect, almond smile…

His smile faded and he lowered his voice.

“My lady…I wish I could say you knew my face from daring deeds or philanthropic ventures…but if you think you know me, Ariel, it is likely from a charactature from a wanted poster. They…there’s been a misunderstanding, to be sure, but as it stands…I…I am a wanted man.”

Fuck. DrAwesome
Suddenly the image clicks in her mind. “Oh…oh my…And I.. oh no…” She clasps her face in her hands. Suddenly she grabs a sap off her belt and moves to a defensive posture. " Don’t come any closer…I’ll use this!"

She turns to Elena, “And you…you’re with him…” She takes a few steps back in fear. “Why shouldn’t I go get the guards right now?”
“Because we helped you save a man’s life, Ariel,” Caithas says without emotion.

“Because we…we try to do what’s right. We hope, anyway. This woman,” he says, indicating Elana, “is a good woman. She is kind and just. If you wish to call the guards on me, so be it; there is blood on my hands. But not her. If you turn her away…you’re not the cleric you appear to be.”
“Well..yes…I suppose you did.” The anger leaves her eyes, and is replaced by shame. “I’m sorry for my outburst. That was wrong of me. I was…frightened by the possibility.” She looks around realizing the other clerics are looking at her, " Perhaps we ought to speak in private. Follow me."

She moves quickly to the room she and Caithas’ shared. Once inside she shuts the door carefully and sits down on the bed. “Now I think you should tell me more about yourselves. I have told you about who I am, it is your turn.” Her tone attempts to be authoritative, but there is a hint of fear as well.
Elana follows Ariel into the adjoining room, after shooting Caithas a questioning look that seemed to say: what the hell are you thinking?!

She takes a deep breath and introduces herself properly. “I’m Elana Savain, niece of Lord Mannix Savain of Grey Hold.” She looks back at Caithas then continues. “Our other companion is my husband, Jules Aime Amour. We’ve been married for a few days; it was an arrangement between our scheming families. He . . . we joined the rebellion shortly after our wedding. We think our families are setting us up for failure, or worse, and Jules is convinced this is our best way to turn the tables on them. And I’m sure he’s worried about the plight of the people as well.”

Elana looks between Ariel and Caithas. “I’m sorry, I really don’t know what else to say. Caithas? Oh! And the wounded soldier . . . you want to explain that one?”
9th of Frer-mánuðr, 2482

Langbard’s house, housing district of Lower Andelia (Jules)

Langbard takes the news delivered by brother Percy with a mixture of concern and dread. After hearing that Malcom has been captured, he explains to the nobleman in disguise that, he too, shares his sentiments, but he warns him that attempting to release him is a suicidal task. Without going into many details to explain why this is so, he instead shows great eagerness to learn the circumstances of Malcom’s capture, and how come a man of the cloth like brother Percy knows both Malcom and what he’s fighting for.

[OOC: Feel free to answer (truthfully or falsely), ignore, deflect etc.]

After your discussion, Jules sleeps next to the man, who snores throughout the night. Nevertheless, the nobleman is overcome by fatigue and promptly falls asleep. He wakes up early in the morning by a frenzied Langbard who is looking for his equipment, which is scattered throughout his house. In the light of day, Jules observes that the house is in a miserable state, neglected and unclean.

“Sorry, brother. The house isn’t what it used to be ever since the missus left. GOD DAMN IT! WHERE THE HELL ARE MY SHOULDER GUARDS!”, he curses to himself. He spends the next few minutes searching for his shoulder guards before you point out that they are lying on the floor, beneath a pile of garbage. “Thanks”, Langbard mumbles. “Listen, about rescuing Malcom: I don’t know how we’ll make it, especially since the barracks have recently been cleared from all members of the guard. They are being used by men and officers of the Legions now, who are swarming to the city with each passing day. We guardsmen are using a nearby square now for our assemblies. The prisoners are most likely held within the barracks, where god knows what’s going on. As much as it grieves me to say this, we should forget about Malcom-he’s either dead or as good as dead by now. Instead, we should focus on the rebellion. What progress did Malcom manage to make during his absence from the guard?”

[OOC: Feel free to discuss whatever with this Langbard. He will leave to look to his duties as soon as you are done and, provided that you do not insult him or something, he will suggest meeting at a quiet place in the evening. Till then, you are free to do whatever you wish. It is morning, and civilians are allowed in the streets.]

Temple of Delrodin (Ariel, Caithas and Elana)

The discussion between the three companions is interrupted by a prolonged moan coming from the room where the injured guard spent the night. The man seems to have woken up; you realize that now is your chance to talk to him, before the priests of the temple rush to him to see how he is doing. It is about ten o’ clock in the morning and, despite the storm outside, there are a few people wondering the streets of the city.

[Feel free to continue role-playing, go outside, question the guard, talk with the priests, whatever you want basically.]
Jules explains only that he was attacked by a guard and that Malcom gave him protection afterwards, saying that his experience under the guard’s brutality turned him to Malcom’s side. He explains that Malcom was captured defending him from another guard, but neglects to mention the circumstances of their entry into the city. When he wakes in the morning he addresses the man’s idea about leaving Malcom behind. Though Jules bears no great love of the soldier, he does realize his importance as a leader, and while dead leaders can rally existing troops; alive, Malcom has the ability to draw in new ones. The ability to bolster the loyalty of others is a trait Jules isn’t about to let go if he has a choice. To try and turn the man to his way of think, Jules does what he does best to soldiers, he lies.

“Malcom’s rescue is going to be our first priority, we discovered a coded message that only a member of the Black Chamber can decode for us. However, Malcom is ze only one with a copy of ze message. Now as for ze method of ze rescue, Ah need to know everything you do about how a hostage exchange would be received by ze Andelia guard.”

When he finishes talking to the man he leaves the house and heads straight to the temple district, asking around about an injured man brought in by a half-elf last night, saying that he wants to check up on the man and ensure that he survived. All the while saying a prayer to nobody in particular that the key player in his plan is still alive.
“Yes…ahh, well, the wounded man…you see Sister he…that is to say, I…,” Caithas stutters to Ariel, searching pitifully for the words when he heard the moan.

“Ahh, speak of the demons! That’s him now. Let me see how he is doing and then we’ll continue. Elana, please do go on. Perhaps you could tell Ariel about your wedding day and the guards’ attacks on the innocent; it will explain our choices better than I ever could. Excuse me…,”

With that, Caithas hurries out to see the awakening guard.

Upon seeing the man, Caithas leans down and whispers, “There, there, my good man, you’re safe now. Try to relax…and please, tell me how you came to be so horrifically wounded?”

The half-elf keeps his voice low and his smile pasted on his face. But gods help the man if he was more aware of the situation than he seemed…
“To give up everything I stand for to rise to the top makes me no better than the ones I’m trying to replace. They don’t care for their subjects. War only breeds hatred, and though it’s a path I’m on, its a necessary evil to achieve the peace we want. And on this path I can’t claim that I’m of the peace, even though that is the end goal, it can only justify so much. But I’m not going to throw away ideals to make things easier, and I’m willing to put my life on the line, but I don’t plan on dying for it.”

Malcom looks to the woman

“If I might, ask for your hand up the stairs. I will not compromise beliefs for anything unless it is inevitable.”

he pauses,

“Like a damned war…”
Ariel looks surprised at the comments by Elena, “You are so young to be a bride. Do you love him?” She then pauses and thinks for a moment. “Rebellion? I had heard rumors and drifts in the wind, but I thought surely…” She trails off.

She hears the moan of the wounded man and instinctively goes for her bag of supplies. She finds it and follows Caithas into the man’s room a few moments later.
“Love him?” Elana echoed. “Well, we just met and things have been very . . . chaotic since.” Caithas practically dashed off when they heard that the guard was awake again. Ariel moved to follow him so Elana tried to stall her. “Oh, wait! I think he’s, um, fine?” But it was too late; both the half-elves had fled the room. Elana sighed and followed after them, hoping the guard wouldn’t remember anything condemning.
Temple of Delrodin (Ariel, Caithas and Elana)

Heeding the guard’s call, the group rushes to his room. Caithas, eager to discover just how much the man remembers from the previous night’s events, asks him his name and how he came to be injured. The man, clearly in shock over his condition, gives the half-elf a puzzled look, before realizing that he is addressing his saviors.

“I am Gordianus, sergeant of the Andelian guard… What… what happened last night? I only remember patrolling on the city walls, when we chanced upon a man trying to climb the wall. All I remember is being pushed down from the battlements, before everything went dark…” He looks at each and every one of you inquisitively, before adding: “Are you the ones to whom I owe my life?” He tries to push himself upwards, but his broken body fails him. Suddenly, as if having an epiphany, the man realizes his predicament. “Help!” he cries out to the priests, “I cannot feel my legs! What have you done to me?” The guard starts frantic attempts to get out of the bed by using his arms only. His desperate attempts to get up make for a miserable sight to behold.

Barrack dungeons

The armored figure looks at you with some signs of respect, but his words and tone are condescending: “You are a man of contradictions, sir Malcom, if you say that you are willing to put your life on the line for his cause of yours, but you don’t plan on dying for it… Yet death will follow you throughout your journey and each battle you fight may be your last. Consider that as you decline my offer.”

The woman takes Malcom by the hand and whispers to his ear: “You made the right choice. Only those that stay true to their beliefs might stand a chance of breaking the irrational cycle of violence and death.” You both start ascending the staircase, while white light descends from the sky. The light gets brighter and brighter, until it reaches a blinding intensity. Suddenly, you wake up on the floor of a small holding cell. The architecture of the corridors seems familiar; it takes a while, but you realize that you are held within the barrack dungeons, along with other prisoners whose fate is more often than not to be executed.

[OOC: You are at full hit points, thanks to your choice during the dream sequence. Also, you will be given different choices in your efforts to escape, because of that choice.]

You are not alone in the cell. A young adult, probably around fifteen years old, is with you. You recognize him as the peasant you captured with the rest of your men a couple of days ago, during a night patrol in Lower Andelia. He and the other peasants provoked the guard by throwing rocks at you. The peasant does not seem to have recognized you, but this is not surprising, given that your face is still in a miserable shape.

Langbard’s house (Jules)

“A document like that changes everything…” Langbard replies. “If it falls into the wrong hands, the Imperials would not hesitate to torture Malcom until he revealed everything he knows. Listen, brother Percy: I like Malcom, but you have to understand that our cause comes first. If the message is compromised, then we might lose a significant advantage. Depending on the contents of this message, that is. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that?” he asks Jules, with evident suspicion that the priest is hiding something.

“Very well, I will try to check if Malcom has been captured, although without a plan, helping him escape would be suicide. But I take it you have devised a plan already? Who is this hostage you speak of? Holding a nobleman or a member of the senate captive could certainly help, under these circumstances.”
“Gordianus, please try to calm down; you need your rest, sir. Yes, we did indeed save you, though the damage was already done. I know nothing about the man you saw or the fall you took, but I saw the result of it. You were near death when this kind woman,” he says, nodding at Elana, “and I came upon you. A citizen, most bravely, opened his home to us and you, calling for a healer. Sister Ariel here did what she could…but understand that you nearly fell to your death. Your legs…,” Caithas hesitates, thinking ‘come on, dammit, one tear,’ before squeezing his eyes closed in mock sympathy, “your legs, sir, may never be the same. I am truly sorry.”

Looking at the poor bastard, Caithas wonders how the hell he and his companions will make this work. This pitiful mess for Malcom? It’ll never work, the half-elf mused bitterly. They might as well hang their friend now and get it over with.
[[ I’m assuming since I was unconscious that they had plenty of time to find my hidden daggers, along those lines, is Malcom bound in any way? ]]

Malcom looks calmly at the man as he passes, but says nothing. For he knows the man is right, but there’s no use dying for a cause until it was all said and done.

As he stirs and looks around the room he mutters to himself, for the very first time audibly, “Not today…” he was certain it’d not be the last time he’d tell himself that. There was a glimmer of hope in the room, a familiar face is always welcome in trying times. A sympathetic one would be even better. “You there, boy. Come closer.” he wasn’t quite sure how to get out of this situation, but at least the boy was there. Then an idea came upon him.

Magic… that’s the key to getting out of here. I may be able to surprise a guard with my abilities and subdue him to make my escape…
Ariel watches as the man comes to the realization of his predicament. “Sir, sir..Please calm down. We will continue to do what we can for you. There may still be a chance to save your legs.” She glares at Caithas, and then motions for clerics to aid her.

She turns back to the man, “Sir, is there anyone we can contact. Do you have a wife or family? Anyone who might be worried about you?”
Barrack dungeons (Malcom)

[OOC: All of your processions have been taken, but you are not bound. It is still the 8th of Frer-mánuðr for you.]

The boy looks at you, as he approaches cautiously. Under these circumstances, you cannot really blame him for being careful. For all he knows, you could be a criminal or a murderer. He looks at you, waiting to listen to what you have to say.

It is impossible to calculate how long you have been unconscious, but since most prisoners in the neighboring cells are sleeping, it is probably late at night. There are no guards present in the corridors between the holding cells. From time to time, complaints from other inmates can be heard, but they are ignored most of the time. Particularly persistent prisoners provoke short, loud, commanding replies from a guard, whose voice echoes throughout the dungeon. Although you cannot see the guard, his voice seems to be coming from a nearby room.

Temple of Delrodin (Ariel, Caithas and Elana)

[OOC: There are no clerics with you in Gordianus’ room currently. Ariel is there, so the priests in the temple are assuming that she has everything under control.]

Gordianus looks up at Ariel from his bed, momentarily comforted by her reply. “Aye, I have a wife and two kids. Her name is Floriana; you can seek her out at the lower quarter of the city.” He gives you the address of his house and removes a ring from his finger, giving it to Ariel. “Here, you can use my wedding ring as proof that you know me.”

[OOC: Ariel can take the ring, if she wants. Grant, you should update your character sheet accordingly.]

He pauses, his mind wandering to his family, before he suddenly recalls: “Hells, I forgot! Do the guards know what happened to me? If they haven’t been informed, I should tell them at once! They might still be out there, looking for me!”
Jules avoids revealing that their hostage is little more than a lowly soldier. His hopes had been for an equal trade, but the more he thinks on it, the more he realizes that their offer could very well just be refused.

“Ze hostage situation is being handled by my allies in ze city, Ah plan to go and see to zem now. As for ze contents of ze letter, all Ah know is zat it is a military correspondence most likely. Ah can tell you zat if you manage to find wherever zey keep ze prisoners belongings it is written in ancient Demerian. If we have any hope of freeing Malcom, zen Ah need to go and do what Ah can. If you know of a safe place where we can meet again, tell me and Ah will be zer zis evening if possible, we can discuss ze plans further zen.”

Jules leaves the small building, hoping to avoid anymore of the man’s questions. giving too much away about their situation to someone who could already be compromised would destroy their revolution before it even fully got underway. When he leaves he heads towards the temple district, asking around if anyone has seen a half-elf and another man and woman treating an injured man last night.
Langbard’s house (Jules)

Domitius is hardly happy with the situation, but the information from brother Percy seems to limit his options: “I’ll search the barracks and I’ll try to find Malcom. With any luck, he might still be alive. Recovering his letter and items might be easier: the prisoners’ processions are always kept in a secret room in the dungeons. No-one will notice a missing letter or a few items. Let’s just hope that the letter has not been discovered yet.

Meet me at The Finest Tankard Inn in the evening. The Inn is frequented by soldiers and men of the Empire, so if you’re bringing any allies, I’d suggest you make sure in advance that they won’t be drawing any attention. I know it sounds insane, but hiding in plain sight is our best option in the night, with all of the military patrols. I will gather Malcom’s men and book a large table there.” With those words, Langbard escorts you out of his home and departs for the barracks. Jules decides to head for the temple district, hoping that his friends will be waiting for him there.

Temple district (Jules)

The temple district summons memories of Jules’ wedding with Elana. It is hard to believe that the ceremony and the unlikely events that followed it took place just three days ago. Hoping that his disguise is good enough to fool even men of the cloth, the nobleman enters the walled district, looking for his companions. When he realizes that he cannot see any of his friends around, he starts asking a group of acolytes that are standing outside one of the churches. The group consists of about ten priests, their low rank signified by the color of their heavy cloaks, which cover their entire body and most of their face. They all seem to be praying, despite the heavy snowfall and wind.

No-one of the young priests in training seems to know anything about the people that Jules is describing, but a pair of them clearly show interest when you mention that you are looking for a half-elf. The small ensemble eventually disperses, with only two of the acolytes staying behind. One of them addresses you courteously: “Greetings and well met, brother. I know not of these strangers you seek. Forgive me for my straightforwardness, but if I may dare to observe, I have never seen you in this district, despite the fact that you are, like me, a man of the cloth. To what church and order do you belong, brother?”

Although the priest appears well-mannered, the acolyte behind him looks somewhat threatening: tall and broad-shouldered, he stands behind his colleague without uttering a word, with his hands tucked into his sleeves and his hood obscuring his features.

[OOC: I am assuming that Jules has introduced himself as brother Percy, but if not, feel free to introduce yourself now or avoid doing so. Also, feel free to request a Perception check to try to discern the acolytes’ features under their cloaks.]
Jules thinks for a moment, remembering the explanation he gave to Mara, it seemed to work on her, maybe it could work here too.

“Ah am brother Percy, and Ah am a priest of Lineen, ze goddess of loyalty and faithfulness. As for why you haven’t seen me, Ah have only been in ze city for about a month, and for much of zat time Ah was in ze upper district trying to spread ze kindness of my goddess. During ze riot a few days ago Ah was down here buying food for a family in ze upper district, but in ze aftermath Ah was sealed in by ze guards and zer were so many hurt and dying, Ah have tried taking care of zem, but zey are many and my skill in ze healing arts have always been limited.”

Hells, if Ah keep acting like zis some fool in our rebellion may actually think me pious. Ah must admit, Percy sounds like such a nice person helpful, loyal, hard-working. Boring as all ze court dinners in ze empire. Maybe someday a tragedy will befall him, died by a guard’s hand while protecting a litter of kittens and children with only nine fingers. Zen he can have a nice statue raised for him when all of zis is done, face obscured of course.

After a moment he snaps out of his thoughts on Percy’s fate and returns his full attention to the man he is talking to, trying to discern what he looks like under his covered face.

[OOC: Bluff (+9) for the story about his faith and why he hasn’t been around.]

Perception – (1d20+3)14
Caithas jumps in before the cleric can respond.

“Good Gordianus, worry not. A fellow concerned citizen who saw you in your injured state hurried off to inform the guard as soon as you were stabilized. I’m sure he’s giving his eye-witness account as we speak. What you need to do is rest, recover and relax. Your duty is done for now, sir; you’ve given more than any man should be asked to give. Let us do the rest.”

What a fucking nightmare this is turning out to be, the half-elf thought.

Enough of this dancing about and subterfuge. Just give me a bloody enemy to stab already…
Temple district (Jules)

As you explain to the cloaked figures who you are, you try to observe them discreetly to discern their features. Behind his hood, you can only see his mouth and part of his nose. The man you are talking to seems human, probably young if you judge from his wrinkle-free complexion. His companion is covered even more, making it difficult for you to estimate his appearance. However, as your eyes wander over the two of them, you catch a glimpse of something unnatural on the larger figure: a small tusk momentarily protrudes from his mouth, as he attempts to suppress a yawn.

You are not sure if the courteous human standing in front of you has noticed you noticing them, but as you provide your excuses, he responds in a warm tone, after giving a broad smile: “Happy to make your acquaintance, brother Percy. These are trying times for us all, and especially for men of faith. I couldn’t help overhearing that you are seeking certain individuals. May I request why you are looking for these people?”

[OOC: I will wait for more responses from the others, to see what their PCs want to do, but I can go on with Jules’ story for now.]
“Last night, while Ah was asleep, Ah heard a loud noise, and when Ah awoke Ah went outside to find a man unconscious on ze ground. Ah had never seen a man so badly beaten and hurt as him. His assailants were nowhere to be found. As Ah said, my skill in treating ze wounded is limited as it is, and zis man was on ze very brink of death. Ah told two of ze patrons at ze inn Ah was staying at to get help, ze man and ze woman, and when zey returned zey had a half-elf priestess with zem. Ah went to inform ze guards and try to find out what had happened, but when Ah returned ze four were gone, presumably to a temple. Ah have been trying to find zem to make sure ze man survived, and if not, zen Ah am afraid Ah have another duty required of me by Lineen.”

Jules gives his explanation, not fully sure of how much of his understanding of Lineen or what is required of their priests is accurate. The most he actually knows about the priests of Lineen is what his sister had told him when he was young and she wanted to frighten him, that anyone who takes advantage of a priestess of Lineen will find themselves without the tool of their betrayal. It is on that threat and a few childhood tales that Jules was basing Percy’s faith on. Hopefully the other clerics knew as little about Lineen as Jules did, or his theology might be found lacking.
Temple district (Jules)

The priest listens to your tale without uttering a word. You feel that something is off about these two cloaked figures. The man in front of you, in particular, seems to be an intelligent individual, capable of controlling his emotions. He seems interested in what you know, because although his fellow priests have already gone inside, he is still conversing with you out in the cold. However, neither his words nor his demeanor betray any interest.

“Please, follow me, Percy…” the man requests, “we shouldn’t be discussing such matters out in the cold.”

[OOC: Provided that you follow him.]

The man leads you to a quiet place within the temple district. There are no churches around, just a small pond that is surrounded by statues depicting animals. You notice that the style of the sculptures is very distinct, quite unlike the Demerian art that you are more familiar with. They are much cruder but, despite their imperfections, they seem to radiate some sort of primitive, wild force. The pond is frozen, the ground is covered with snow and there is nobody around. A small, wooden shed can be seen a few yards away. The priest addresses you again, not as courteously as before, but in a friendly tone still:

“There are not many half-elf priests, and even fewer have a talent in the healing arts. I might be able to help you, but first, can you tell me the name of this cleric you seek?

[OOC: The bigger cloak figure with the tusks is still with you, having followed you.]
Jules follows the man, fearful that his lies have been discovered. His hand moves slowly toward his bag, hoping he can get his new crossbow out quickly if the need arises.

“Ze half-elf never actually told me her name, zer was too much going on with ze injured man, and she was very focused.”

Ah should go for ze man with ze tusks first, he seems like ze most dangerous in a fist fight. But zen Ah would be exposing my flank to ze other man. Oh hells, who am Ah kidding, if zes men come for me Ah am dead no matter who Ah go after first.
With little more that Caithas could do, he left the guard in Ariel’s hands. He whispered to Elana on the way out, “Keep an eye on them, my Lady. This situation is volatile at best. Be safe; I will return by nightfall.”

The longer he was there, the more likely that he’d fuck it up, and he knew it. He needed to be away from the lies, from the church. From Ariel.

Plus, he needed a drink.

With his cloak around his shoulders and his swords strapped to his waist, the half-elf sought out the nearest pub he could find.
Elana looked from Caithas to the injured guard then back to Caithas . . . but the half-elf was gone. “Great,” she thought. "First Malcom, then Jules, and now Caithas. They had all better come back alive . . . "

She smiled awkwardly at the guard, not sure what to say, or if she should say anything. He’d have her killed if he knew who she was, and she would’ve killed him if it came to it. Then there was Ariel, dutifully checking the man’s condition.

After a minute of awkward silence, Elana excused herself from the room. She fetched her crossbow, Ællastyr, which was unloaded; Lucius taught her that the wire would slacken if kept loaded too long. A few of the priests cast curious glances at the young woman walking around the temple with a gilded crossbow, but Elana paid them no mind.

Her hand went to the wand at her belt, taking some comfort that it was there. She paced the halls of the temple, her thoughts wandering and becoming worried. The thought of battle terrified her, but waiting knowing that there could be a fight any moment was far worse.
Temple district (Jules)

Still focusing on you, the man nevertheless changes his tone, as he asks apologetically: “I am sorry, but without a name, I cannot help you. There used to be a half-elf cleric around this district, but she has mysteriously disappeared just a few days ago. I am just as interested in finding her as you. Any clues you might have will be helpful. She may not have shared her name with you, but her appearance was not forgettable. Dark hair, delicate features and eyes full of resolve, right? Is this the priest you are seeking?”

You sense that the man has realized that you are beginning to doubt his intentions. As a result, he has shifted his tone, perhaps in an attempt to avoid escalation. He eagerly watches you as he describes the cleric, observing your reactions.

Streets of Lower Andelia (Caithas)

You step outside and the cold wind immediately freezes you to the bone. You are still unfamiliar with this side of the city, but you recall that there are several pubs around the market district. Without any other idea of where you might find a warm meal and a stiff drink, you head towards that direction.

The streets are mostly empty, due to the storm, but there are guards standing at street corners, wrapped in multiple layers of thick clothing. They eye you suspiciously, but they leave you be. As you approach the market square, the concentration of people increases. Before you reach the square, you become witness to a strange event.

You see a man in his forties being shoved against a wall by a larger, tattooed male. His tattoos are extremely familiar: you recollect that the men you slew at the Golden Eagle tavern bore similar tattoos on their hands. The victim of the attack has blonde hair and a long beard: most likely a native, from the looks of it. As the assailant is about to punch the bearded man in the face, an old man in robes interrupts him, grabbing his hand and shouting: “What do you think you are doing, thug? What the hell is your problem?” He then turns to a group of four guards, who are standing a few dozen of yards away, and shouts: “Guards! There is a violent criminal here! I demand that you arrest him for attacking this man!”

You observe this scene as it plays out. You have not attracted anyone’s attention yet, but you are worried that things may escalate, soon.

Temple of Delrodin (Elana)

After accepting Gordianus’ ring, Ariel decides to tend to her duties. She hands the ring to Elana, explaining that she is extremely busy with her tasks, and that she is unable to go looking for the crippled soldier’s family. She kindly asks you to leave her alone with the man. You leave her to her duties and pace the temple’s corridors, crossbow in hand. The clerics give you strange looks, but no-one dares to provoke you.

After a few minutes of frantic pacing, you discover a large bookcase in the temple’s main hall. Without anything better to do, you go through the titles on the back of the tomes, trying to find anything interesting or at least distracting to take your mind off things.

[OOC: Feel free to come up with whatever title Elana might be interested in. Also, you are free to venture outside and try to catch up with Caithas, do something else or try to contact Gordianus’ family.]
Caithas creeps ever closer, his eyes flicking from the old man in robes to the bearded native to the assailant and surrounding onlookers. The tattooed one was an asshole; the half-elf was sure of that. But was he in the right? He needed to know more before he got himself in trouble on both sides of the bloody river.

His hand drifts to his blade’s pommel…

(Stealth +7 and Perception +2)
Hearing the man’s description Jules knows that they are talking about the same woman, but that doesn’t do much to stop his worry. If anything the fact that other clerics are looking for the same woman only worries him more, but at the moment these two are his best chance and he decides to trust them with the information that they are talking about the same woman.

“Yes, Ah would say zat describes her fairly well. You say she disappeared, do you know what happened to her?”
Close to Market district (Caithas)

Caithas approaches cautiously as the soldiers walk leisurely towards the scene. The commotion works to his advantage, as he manages to escape notice by those involved in the dispute. The argument continues, albeit at a lower volume, but Caithas is able to make out what is being said by both sides.

(Old man in robes, to the guards) “You are soldiers of the republic, are you not? How can you allow this to happen when this man has done nothing wrong?”

The soldiers’ leader leisurely throws the cigarette that he has been smoking down on the snow, as he addresses the man: “Μove along, sir. This is none of your business.” This provokes an angered reaction from the old man: “I will not leave until you’ve told me what this man has done wrong!” He goes on protesting, receiving no reaction from the captain, but eventually the latter interferes again: “Sir, I will not repeat myself again! The man you interrupted is a member of the secret police! He had valid reasons for making this arrest, before you jumped in! I should take you in for obstructing the work of an officer!” The old man, surprised but not intimidated, continues arguing: “If you are indeed the enforces of justice in this city, you should not encourage this lynching! This man offered no resistance, yet your “colleague” was ready to strike at him!” He continues shouting, as a crowd slowly gathers around the scene. The captain says nothing, but with so many spectators having heard of the argument, he seems unwilling to continue talking to the old man. Instead, he strikes him across the face, before ordering the crowd to disperse and leaving with his men. The old man falls to his knees, watching the captain as he departs.

Caithas focuses so much on catching every word the argument that he fails to notice that the tattooed assailant escapes during the heated discussion. With him gone, the guards abandoning the scene and the crowd breaking up, there is nothing to do other than to converse with the old man and the native or to continue walking, hoping that a pub is not far away.

Temple district (Jules)

“Ariel Rolden is her name, in case you didn’t know…” the priest says enigmatically. “She disappeared under mysterious circumstances just a few days ago. Coincidentally, we lost all traces of her during the day of the Einherjar, after the traitor Markus’ escape from the Imperials. Nobody knows how or why she vanished, but there are whispers saying that she had something to do with the escape.” The priest signals subtly towards his associate; as a result, the bulky cloaked figure moves closer, pulling his arms from his sleeves. His fingers are rolled up in fists, as he moves threateningly behind you.

“Now, this brings me to an unpleasant situation, brother Percy, if that is your true name. For reasons that are of no concern to you, I am interested in this priestess. In particular, I think it would be unwise to disclose any information you possess with the guards. I could help you find her, but you must share everything that you know about her with me and give me your word that you will not go to the authorities.”

The less vocal of the two priests is standing closely next to you; you can feel the tension building up. It is clear that what you will say next will decide the priests’ reaction and, perhaps, your own fate.
Not go to ze guards with zis information. At least zey aren’t agents of ze law. Not zat it puts me in a much better position, now they are either priests or criminals.

“Ah have told you everything Ah know about ze woman, zis Ariel, but Ah have not been completely honest about ze man she and ze other two are with. It was true zat Ah found him beaten and dying, but what Ah didn’t say was zat ze man in question is a guard of Andelia. Ah have yet to inform ze guards of ze situation, but zey will surely be looking into zis matter. Ah do not know why you wish to keep ze guards away from zis woman, but if you don’t help me find zem, Ah guarantee ze guards will track down ze man and with him, Ariel. Ah promise zat Ah will not go to ze guards about Ariel, but eventually ze injured man will likely say something, but if we act fast you may be able to get her to safety before zat happens.”

The tension of the situation is forcing Jules to lose his composure. His priestly demeanor is easy enough when it is a simple conversation, but with his life on the line a small flicker of his more practical and calculating nature bleeds through.
When the guards are gone, Caithas approaches the beaten men. He offers a hand to the old man on the ground.

“Come on, old timer, let me help you up. You’re a brave old bastard, standing up for what’s right in the face of strength like that; a real hero. Not many of you left, I’d say, no matter what the bards have to sing on the matter.”

Turning to the native, the half-elf says with a smile, “I don’t know what you did to deserve that, friend, but if the guards hate you that much, it’s likely we’ll get along just fine. Gentlemen, let me buy you both a hot meal and a cold drink. Gods know that after that shit-show, you both need it. What say you?”

The ranger felt guilty for not intervening earlier, but what good could he have done? At least now he had two faces that the guards hated nearly as much as him and his ilk. That had to count for something.
Temple district (Jules)

The priest’s tone changes after listening to your explanation, but the fist of his companion remains clenched. “At last, some honesty! I am glad that you have no intention of reporting last night’s events to the guard. Thy enemy’s enemy… well, you know how the saying goes.

Allow me to introduce myself: I am Alquiel and this is Bagdul.” The priests remove their hoods, allowing you to see their faces for the first time. The talkative of the pair is a young man in his early twenties; his most distinguishing feature is his clerical tonsure, which is typical among some churches. His youthful, attractive appearance is contrasted by the one called Bagdul, a bald half-orc with savage features. As he shakes your hand, Alquiel continues: “Ariel was an esteemed fellow cleric until just a few days ago. I fear that she has been victim of the political machinations of our high priest. The convicted traitor Markus’ escape has been blamed on her; I think that is the reason of her disappearance. You may find her at the temple of Delrodin, a church not that far from here.” He explains how to get there. As soon as he’s finished, the half-orc approaches and shakes your hand. The handshake lasts longer than what is accustomed; as you try to let go, the priest squeezes your hand so much that you begin feeling pain: “The name’s Bagdul Harad. I don’t trust you, brother Percy. If anything happens to Ariel, I will hold you responsible.” He does not let go until he is certain that you have gotten the message.

As you are about to part ways with the two clerics, Alquiel bids you farewell: “Give my greetings to Ariel, and let her know of the imminent danger. I am not certain if she understands the gravitas of the situation, if she has decided to provide care for a guard. Farewell, brother Percy… or whoever you are.”

[OOC: Feel free to exchange a few last words with the pair and then tell me where you want to go. If you wish to go to the temple of Delrodin, you can RP with the rest of the PCs who are there.]

Near the market district (Caithas)

The old man cleans the snow from his robes after you help him up. In response to your compliment, he merely says: “Hero? Hah! Woe to the kingdom that relies on heroes to deliver the people from injustice…” His appearance, behavior and this deeply insightful comment give you the impression that you are dealing with a sophisticated scholar or a philosopher of sorts, but this notion is immediately dispelled, as the man erupts in a torrent of profanity against the Andelian authorities. A few of the onlookers, who were dispersing, turn to look at the old man, puzzled at his words and outspokenness.

[OOC: I don’t have much inspiration to come up with anything original, but I am giving you writer’s license if you want to describe his profanities.]

As soon as he calms down, the old man’s attention shifts to you again: “I could sure use a drink after this mishap. I am certain our friend here would appreciate one as well. What is your name, friend?” The native, still shocked by what has just occurred, mumbles towards the two of you: “Ey… Eyolf, sir. Thank you, sir. I swear, I did nothing wrong! I was just minding my business when that tattooed devil tried to punch me! I did nothing to provoke him; I give you my word of honor! May the Gods strike me with lightning if I am not telling the truth!”

“Alright, alright, we believe you, my good man.” says the old man. “It appears that you need that drink much more than I do. Since this kind stranger has agreed to buy us a round, I suggest we rush to the nearest tavern, before we freeze to death! Come on, follow me to the Wooden Spoon!” With these words, the old man rushes forward, leading you to the tavern.

[OOC: Feel free to set the scene; just don’t make it too extravagant please. I am attaching a picture of the old man below. I will give him a name tomorrow, I hope.]
Caithas had never heard such wild profanity strung together before, even from sailors and whores.

Fucking grobbdinaggian assfuck sonshit cunt? Shiteating cockrockers? Ballpussied twatweasels even? Incredible. The old bastard had a way with words, the half-elf had to give him that.

“Well met, Eyolf,” Caithas nods at the native. “And your name, old timer? I’d hate to guess wrong and have you spit colorful invective like that at me!” Though his tone is light, his words are true. That was unlike anything he’d ever heard…

The Wooden Spoon, thankfully, was not far. It was a small but busy pub, filled with very few reputable-looking folks; just the way Caithas liked it. After that bloody scene in the imperial bar, it was nice to be surrounded by drunks, hobos and whores. It felt like home.

“Now then, gentlemen, I beg you, tell me how you both have landed on the wrong side of the Empire’s good graces? I can’t imagine how; the Crown is such a reasonable bunch,” the ranger chuckles over a tall, frothy mug of ale.

He squints his eyes at Eyolf for a moment and says, “I am sorry to pry, sir…but you don’t happen to know a fellow named Erik do you? I swear, you look just like him.”

(Diplomacy +3 and Sense Motive +1 for both NPCs)
Malcom faces the boy, “I might not look it, but I helped you out once before. How long did you get stuck down here for throwing rocks?” he pauses for a moment, “Knowing the bastards they probably threw you in as a rebel and you’re on the gallows tomorrow. Bah. Bastards. I don’t plan on dying today nor tomorrow.”
Elana finds a copy of Baldwin Bitterbrew’s Brilliant Adventures on the shelf in the temple, which seemed very out of place. Perhaps one of the priests enjoyed a comical read? She sat down at a table and cracked open the spine, flipping through chapters she’d read before.

Though she read the words, she didn’t comprehend them. Her mind was thinking of other things. Eventually she shut the book, and dropped her head to the table with a thud. This wasn’t how adventures unfolded in the stories. There was no glamour, heroics, and daring rescues. Not that she was delusional enough to believe it would have been so, but she still pictured the mission unfolding very differently.

“I should’ve gone with Caithas,” she thought. “It would beat staying here, waiting around for something to happen.” That damn half-elf would pay for leaving her behind with the priestess and the guard.
Caithas (Streets of Andelia and The Wooden Spoon)

“Harald’s the name,” says the old man, extending his hand in a friendly manner. “Let’s get out of here before those guards change their mind, eh?”

The three of you enter the small tavern, feeling thankful that you can leave the snow-storm outside. You order the meals and ale, which you graciously pay upon delivery, and continue the conversation over lunch. It is now the old man’s turn to ask for your name.

[OOC: Answer as you see fit.]

Eyolf responds to your question first, repeating what he said earlier: “I did nothing wrong! I do not know why they wanted to take me in!” Although honest and well-meaning, this Eyolf does not strike you as a particularly intelligent man.

Harald rushes to reassure the-apparently still shaken-native: “We know, Eyolf, we know. It doesn’t take much to attract the guards’ attention these days, if you are a Svodun…

It wasn’t always like this, you know.” he says, addressing this last comment mainly to you. “The guard was fairly descent before the new commander, Aurelius, took over… With the recent troubles, the bureaucrats figured that it is best to err on the side of caution, and appointed the over-enthusiastic lieutenant as captain. Big mistake, if you ask me!” Harald seems honest and eager to talk, his tongue perhaps loosened by the free ale, but you do not fail to notice that he avoids answering your initial question.

Upon hearing you mention Erik, Eyolf’s eyes open wide: “You’ve heard of Erik? How is he doing? I thought he was heading for Sailor’s Stone last time I spoke with him!” Seeing your reaction, Harald interferes: “I am sorry friend, but you seem new to Svorinn. Erik is a fairly common name among the Svodun. You will have to be more specific; there are dozens of Eriks living within this city.”

Malcom (barrack dungeons)

The boy takes a closer look at you, encouraged by your words. Eventually, he recognizes you, despite the dim light. He answers your question as best he can: “I do not know, sir. Nobody has told me, and those who ask get beaten up. Every morning, the guards take some of the prisoners away. They never return, but new prisoners are brought in on a daily basis. How did you end up in here? Aren’t you supposed to be a guard yourself?”

Concerned by your last comment, the boy asks fearfully: “Do you think that they’d really hang me? Just for throwing some rocks?”

Elana (Temple of Delrodin)

As you sit beside the bookcase, with Baldwin Bitterbrew’s Brilliant Adventuresin one hand andÆllastyr in the other, you contemplate just how rapidly your life has changed during these last few days. Your uncle has exiled you, abandoning you in a city full of unrest. Griff is being held in an infamous orphanage because of his relationship with you. And now, Malcom has been captured and may well be dead by now, Jules has disappeared to gods know where and, Caithas is probably drowning his sorrows at the nearest tavern. You have been left alone with a priest you hardly know and a crippled guard, while the rest of his colleagues are probably looking for you. You think that you never had more reasons to sink into a deep depression.

One of the clerics observes you, lost in your thoughts, and brings you a clay mug containing hot red wine. He tries to comfort you: “We have all, at some point, lost people that were near and dear to us. Although the healing process takes time, one must keep in mind that the memories those people have left will always accompany us.” The cleric seems to have misunderstood the source of your woes, but he seems well-meaning and honest.

Atmosphere (link)

Looking out of the window, you observe a landscape that seems to be fitting with your mood. The winds seem to have settled and, although snow continues to fall, the thick, slow snowflakes are now performing an intricate dance as they approach the ground. The few trees that you can see at a distance are also moving their branches in response to the soft wind. As you remain inside, observing the landscape sheltered from the cold, you cannot help noticing that the scene, although melancholic, has a certain sweet nostalgia to it, as it reminds you of happier days in Grey Hold. You shift your focus to the scene and your memories, setting the book aside, as you await for the return of your new friends.

[OOC: Not advancing the story much, but I wanted to paint a pretty picture. Hopefully, Jules will be with you soon.]
Caithas downs his ale and orders another. Harald was an odd one, and Eyolf wasn’t exactly the sharpest blade in the bunch, but they seemed a decent sort. For the first time since that godforsaken boat ride, he was enjoying himself.

Not enough to give his real name, though. Not yet.

“Jeenan Hyain,” Caithas responded to Harald when his name was asked. His father’s friend, the half-elf’s “uncle” seemed as good a name as any. Besides, Caithas had already forgotten his last alias; he was shit with lying and names, so lying about names was especially troublesome for the ranger. This one, at least, he’d remember.

“Aurelius, you say? Aye, I know of him. He was the butcher who slaughtered the innocents at the botched hanging a few days ago. A madman. I saw him cut down women and children with my own eyes! It speaks much of the bloody Crown to have appointed a man like him to a command post.”

By god, the ale’s serious stuff, the half-elf thinks as he slakes his thirst. I’d best be careful here, even amongst seeming friends.

He’s happy to listen to Harald bitch about the injustice of the world, but when the talk turns to Erik, Caithas focuses once more.

“Aye, new I am to this city. Not a great time for a vacation on these shores, eh? Ahh well. But Erik! Of course it is common; I apologize. The Erik I speak of lives on the other side of the city. A shoemaker by trade. Good man; I am proud to call him friend. You look much like him, Eyolf, and though you are both Svodun, truly, the resemblance is striking. I hoped that, perhaps, I’d stumbled into a couple more friends on this side of the city, is all.”

Caithas peers around the bar as he says this. Friends indeed. Who else in here might be friendly to the cause, he wonders. And who else might be ready collect the bounty on my bloody head…?

(OOC: Perception +2. This is likely my last post until late in the weekend guys, unless I can squeeze one more in before I head off to the land of no internet. See ya soon!)
“I used to be a soldier, but after the first storm I became a guard. And one who served the people, not the crown.” Malcom shakes his head dejectedly, “They might do all sorts of things, but I don’t know about hanging you. Even if they did plan on it, I certainly don’t plan on letting them follow through with it.”

Malcom stands slowly and moves towards the door and glimpses as far down the hallway as he can in the dungeon lighting before returning away from the door. No need to let his voice carry after all. The cold stones of the walls and floors would easily send his message along to a guard. “Have you got any talents that might prove useful here? I assume you can’t pick locks or you wouldn’t be in this mess…” Malcom looks from the boy to the lock on the door, giving it a stare as if it would suddenly just melt off. Then again, maybe the door was weak, or worn out.
The Wooden Spoon (Caithas)

You look around, trying to get a feel for the atmosphere in the tavern. There are about twenty tables in the small dining room, all of them full. Two serving wenches are walking frantically from the kitchen to the tables, carrying ale, food and cutlery.

The customers at a table far away from where you are sitting, all male, are behaving more intimately with one of the wenches than is appropriate, but she seems to be on top of things.

At a neighboring table, far away at the corner of the room, a couple seems to be trying to attract as little attention as possible. The man is short, plumb and dressed in fur; his clothes are not expensive enough for you to assume that he is a noble, but he seems well off. The woman is young, slim and small. She is wearing heavy make-up and a provocative dress. Caithas has slept with some whores in his life; he can recognize one when he sees one. At some point, you glance over the couple’s table; your eye momentarily catches the man’s hand fondling the whore from underneath the table.

A group of ten men are sitting at a table in the middle of the room. They all wear similar clothes, thick outfits that a farmer would use. Standing on the two benches beside the table, with mugs of ale in their hands, they are singing with loud and bass voices Demerian folk songs.

In the table next to you, a group of young males dressed in the trappings of scholars, seems to be having a drinking competition. From time to time, they spin an empty bottle on the table. As soon as the bottle stops, they wave for one of the barmaids for a pint of ale. When the booze arrives, one of them tries to down it in one go, as the rest of the adolescents chant: “Go! Go! Go!” This usually ends up in a loud banging noise, as all of them knock on the table and cheer excitedly. Less often, the outcome is the drunkard vomiting all over the table. You can see from the barmaids’ behavior that they do not like this group.

Overall, the atmosphere in the tavern is extremely lively, but it’s hard to estimate the patrons’ political affiliations in this setting.

Unfortunately, Eyolf does not seem to know Erik particularly well. He scratches his head for a few minutes before finally remembering the man Caithas described: “I think I went to him once, when I needed my boots fixed. I don’t remember him looking like me.” The native’s disposition seems to go a bit sour, but you do not see a strong reaction.

The conversation between the three of you is interrupted by one of the students from the table nearby: “Hey! Herr Professor! Come share a drink with us! Hey boys, you’d never guess who’s sitting next to us! It’s the grand Professor himself!” Harald seems to be blushing. He attempts to dismiss the drunkard, but the boy simply becomes more insistant, as more and more of his friends join in: “Herr Professor! Come have a drink with us! It’s on us! Fuck the establishment, right?! Isn’t that what you were saying in the lectures? Yeah, raise your glass in solidarity so that we can collectively stick it to the man!” By now, a group of five drunk boys have gathered around Harald, offering him drinks and attempting to drag him off to their table.

Barracks dungeons (Malcom)

The boy simply replies: “Me pa used to tell me that I was good at counting money. But I’m no good with locks. I am no petty thief, sir.” He seems a bit insulted by your words, but at the same time interested in this escape plan you are thinking.

You grab the door and shake it. It appears to be holding well. The lock on it seems large, but old-fashioned. Rust has began accumulating on one of the lock’s corners.
Ariel passes by where Elena is sitting. She hesitates for a moment then sits down next to her. “You are still here? Is everything alright?” Her face expresses genuine concern. Out of the corner of her eye she notes the crossbow and takes nervous gulp. “Where did…uh…your friend run off to? Finding Giordanius’ family?” Surely he wouldn’t be foolish enough to walk right up to a guard as a wanted man..

She studies Elena’s face carefully. She seems so innocent to be traveling with a wanted man…Surely she isn’t like him
[OOC: Nice post, Vlad. Very picturesque]

Elana jumped at the cleric’s voice. Her mind was wandering as she stared out the window and so she didn’t even notice Ariel’s arrival. “Oh, yes,” she replied. “I’m fine.” Elana didn’t want the priestess to know how concerned she was. “I’m in hostile territory, alone, and at great risk if any other guard should see and recognize me,” she thought.

She took a sip of the hot red wine one of the clerics provided her. It was a cheap vintage, but the heat did wonders for the taste. “I’m not entirely sure where Caithas went,” she replied slowly. “I’m sure he’s staying out of trouble.” That probably wasn’t true, but Elana felt it would be better if Ariel believed it.

The noblewoman noticed Ariel’s eyes drift to the crossbow more than once. She lifted the unloaded weapon and placed it on the table in front of the priestess. “Don’t fear this thing. It’s mostly for show.” Another half lie. True it was ornamental, but it was also highly effective; only, Elana wasn’t a good shot with it. “Do you know how to shoot?” she asked, hoping to change the subject of the conversation.
“I’m glad to hear it. Though at the moment it seems a shame that neither of us is.” Malcom inspects the lock closer before turning back to the boy, “There’s two ways to go about this, either we try and tear down the lock through a spot of magic, or we try to get a guard to foolishly open the door by himself.”

Malcom takes a moment to size the boy up, “I don’t want you getting hurt, so if you have the chance to get away, do so.”

after a little while longer of inspecting the lock, Malcom decides that it’d be the best course of action.

“We can’t wait for tomorrow to surprise them as they come for me, and we certainly cant call out to a guard and get him to come, he won’t be alone. I say we try to beat the lock.”

Malcom tentatively places his open palm on the lock, and looks to the boy for his approval.

assuming he has no suggestions, acid splash orison on the lock
Relieved that the men seem to have decided not to start a fight Jules can’t finish, he breathes a sigh of relief. He readily agrees to tell Ariel of the guards that could be looking for her and of the two men trying to help, and leaves the two behind as he heads for the temple of Delrodin. Upon arrival he can’t help but feel he is in the wrong place. The small temple on the outskirts of the district looks almost nothing like what he had expected it to look like. Perhaps Delrodin wasn’t very popular with the locals.

When he enters the temple he finds Elana reading a book, he casually moves up to her, dropping the pious tone of brother Percy for his more natural voice.

“Alright, Ah was nearly attacked getting here, but Ah made it. Where is Caithas and ze man?” Glancing around and seeing Caithas nowhere in sight he groans, “We are trying to lay low right, not wandering around and drawing attention to ze three highly noticeable fugitives, Ah jsut want to make sure Ah wasn’t misunderstanding zat part of ze plan.”
Ariel nods slightly when the woman says she is alright. When Elena metions that Caithas is staying out of trouble she sighs deeply. “How did you come to be in the company of such a man?” She glances again at the crossbow and when asked about her preference she shakes her head, “I am not well trained with weapons. I have my sling and dagger, but I don’t think I would be of use in battle.” She smiles to herself thinking of her brother’s attempts to teach her the art of swordsmanship.

She barely clears her thoughts when the strange man enters the temple and begins speaking with Elena. Ariel glances at him and then realizes who he is, “You were there last night in the hut. You’re a priest as well. How do you know each other?”
“Caithas is more like my husband’s bodyguard,” Elana told the priestess while they conversed in private. “How everything else happened, well that’s a whole other story.”

The door opened and Jules appeared. Elana didn’t think she’d be so happy to see the man. “Caithas left,” she replied, though his groan indicated he’d figured it out. “The guard is still in the back. Did everything go alright?”

In response to Ariel’s question, the noblewoman glanced back at Jules. He wasn’t doing his brother Percy impersonation, so maybe he was done with the act for now. “This is Jules,” she told the priestess. “My husband. Technically.”
Jules goes wide-eyed for a moment as Elana introduces him to the priestess. He pinches his brow together tightly while he takes in everything that has happened in his absence. Unaware of just how much the priestess knows, he hopes that she doesn’t know enough to realize that he is a fugitive. A new mask slips over himself, the devoted husband…who was for some reason pretending to be a priest. Hells, zis is going to be hard.
“As my darling wife just said, we are married,” He offers a deep bow to Ariel before he continues, “As for ze technicality of ze marriage, male priests of my order are required to take a wife, usually as part of an arranged marriage, in order to act as a constant sign of our loyalty and devotion to Lineen’s teachings.”

Jules gives a slight smile as he finishes explaining Elana’s words, his creativity and guile straining to the point of snapping under the weight of the lies he has told today. As an attempt to throw the priestess off guard and change her focus he continues.

“You, Ariel Rolden, correct? While Ah was looking for zis temple Ah ran into two men looking for you, Alquiel and a half-orc named Bagdur or Bagdan or something of zat nature. Zey seemed to fear zat you are in some danger from ze city guards.”
Barrack dungeons (Malcom)

The boy is noticeably distressed by your ability to use magic and the casual way by which you go about doing so. Still, he offers no protest, in part due to curiosity and in part because of a desire to escape. As you place your palm on the lock, the boy stands back, but he remains silent.

You still haven’t gotten used to your newly-acquired powers, but it does not take long before you realize that this particular spell was not meant to be used for this purpose. You are compelled to hurl the small amounts of corrosive liquid that form in your hand, but you know that, in order to open the lock, you will need to accumulate sufficient amounts of acid. Therefore, you allow for more acid to build up, despite the fact that the liquid appears to be eating through flesh at least as good as through metal. The pain is difficult to endure, but you are encouraged to continue, as a stream of foul-smelling, brown-reddish smoke is released from the lock. It takes nearly half an hour for the acid to completely eat through the metal, as you are forced to retract your hand several times, because of the pain. Eventually, however, your persistence pays off, as the lock breaks apart, allowing you to open the cell door.

[OOC: This wouldn’t have worked with rules-as-written, but I want to reward creativity, and it was a good idea. Just don’t abuse this type of rule-bending too much. In addition, if you identify the acid and the gas produced, I will throw in a small surprise for you in the next post. At least I get to use my awesome chemistry skills .]

You carefully open the door; although it does make a creaking noise, you manage to do this carefully enough to avoid waking up any of the prisoners held in the other cells. You know that, if they were to discover that you have escaped your cell, that they might be extremely interested in you, with unpredictable consequences.

[OOC: Stealth check-success!]

The boy is reluctant to step out of his cell. He looks at you silently, with big eyes, as if asking “what now?”
Elana pats Jules on the arm as he launches into a series of half lies. “She knows. Caithas told her.”

The last bit of news was surprising. Why would the guards be interested in Ariel? “I hope we haven’t involved another innocent in this mess,” Elana sighed inwardly. It would seem that wherever they went, trouble befell those around them.
When she had addressed him by his name instead of Percy, Jules had suspected Ariel might already know what was going on, but his hope that it was limited to their names vanished in an instant. He shuts his eyes again, and for almost a minute straight he does nothing except breath in and out slowly, trying to avoid overreacting or doing something he would regret in front of a potential threat. After he collects himself he looks back at Ariel.

“My sincerest apologies, my dear Ariel, but as you may have guessed, ours is a situation zat requires a level of deception to stay safe. Let me start over, my name is Jules Aime Amour, and Ah am a wanted man because when Ah saw guards slaughtering innocent people Ah influenced a man who could put an end to ze bloodshed to stop ze massacre, a massacre Ah udnerstand zat you were nearly involved in. For zat act, Ah am now wanted by ze law. Now if you have any compassion in your heart you must understand zat you have found us in a poor spot in our lives, and we need you to do us ze courtesy of not turning us in.”

With his point made to Ariel he turns to Elana.

“What information have you gathered about zis guard, Ah need to know what Ah can use before Ah speak with him.”
Elana retraces the information the guard had given them. “Um, his name is Gordianus. He’s a sergeant. He doesn’t remember what happened, only that he was pushed. He lives in the lower quarter of the city with his wife, Floriana and their two kids. Oh!” She reaches into her pocket. “And this is their wedding ring . . . he gave it to me.”
Jules quickly runs through the few facts they have about the man, the family would be a huge help if he was anything like Malcom he would do anything for his family. That would be where he would hit. Jules reaches for the wedding ring before heading to speak with the man. When he reaches him he sits down so that the two are at an equal level.

“Gordianus, that is your name, correct? Ah have something important zat Ah need to speak with you about. It is a matter of life and death for a good man, and you may be able to help me save his life.”
Temple of Delrodin (Jules et al.)

Gordianus seems to faintly remember Jules, for he is neither startled nor surprised by his actions. “That is correct, brother,” he answers, still under the assumption that Jules is a man of the cloth. “I did not thank you for your help last night. If you hadn’t helped me, I would have died. For that I am grateful. Rest assured that, once I can leave this place, I will reward you properly.” He then listens to Jules as he mentions this issue of great importance: “Of course, I would do anything to help. Although I am not sure if that is much, given my current state…” He pauses to look at his legs, his face changing to a sorrowful expression. But this spell of sorrow is brief, for he turns to Jules again, adding: “… but I know people.” He looks at Jules conspiratorially, but Jules is unsure of what he is trying to suggest.
“Please, think nothing of any reward. It was my duty as a servant of the goddess to help you. But what people do you know zat could help?”

The curiosity in his voice is clear, he had assumed the man was merely a guard that they might be able to trade for a nameless prisoner, but if he has some sort of contact that Jules could exploit. Perhaps getting Malcom back will be easier that he first thought. Of course nothing had gone the easy way recently, so Jules quickly rids himself of that naive thought.
Caithas raises an eyebrow at Harald after apologizing to Eyolf.

“My mistake then, friend; I am new to these shores, as I said,” he replies, though he notices the change in Eyolf’s temperment. But why? Best leave well enough alone, the ranger thinks.

That turns out to be easy to do when the boys start calling Harald ‘professor’.

“You seem quite popular around here, my good man,” Caithas says to the older gentleman with a smile. “Or should I call you ‘professor’ as well?”

Turning to the drunken boys, Caithas raises his glass and says, “Boys, I had no idea I was drinking with a man of letters! What exactly is my new friend here a professor of? And,” he continues, lowering his voice a little but widening his smile, “exactly what establishment are we fucking?”

The half-elf was encouraged to hear what the drunken kids said, though. Likely, Harald was along the rebellion’s way of thinking, though what good an old but popular teacher would be was beyond him. But the bar was full, the ale was good, and what was the point in leaving? The cleric girl, the first half-elf he’d seen in months and certainly the most beautiful he’d seen in years, looked at him like he was a bloody criminal. Which, of course, he was, but that was besides the point. Jules was off doing gods knew what, Malcom was likely short a few fingers by this point, and Elana…well, hanging out with Elana, especially without Jules around, never seemed like a great idea to Caithas. So here he sat, with bartenders and serving wenches, drunkards and whores. And if the best he could accomplish was making a few new friends over copious amounts of ale, so be it.
As the lock burns and hisses away Malcom does his best to whisper to the boy in between the attempts, “I’m no sorcerer, but I’ve got a bit of divine favor on my side here. I’m certainly no spell-flare.”

After the door swung open Malcom looked both ways down the hallway, inspecting it trying to get more of his bearings. A quiet point down a corridor towards the armory, pausing only to reposition the door so it at least looked a little like it was closed and locked. There was little doubt his armor and weapons would be there… but his glaive was another matter, it was nicely crafted and might be taken by an officer or one of the guards that took him. As his feet met the ground down the corridor he tried to remember where they positioned the guards and patrols in the barracks.
Temple of Delrodin (Jules et al.)

Gordianus looks at Jules and his expression betrays embarrassment. He seems to have regretted bragging about these “people” he knows, and he tries for quite some time to find the appropriate phrasing to explain himself, seemingly wary that he might offend you:

“Well… Brother, you are a man of the cloth. You know that the gods are just and punish those who deserve it, but with so many people to be judged, they can be busy at times… At those times, certain parties might need to make sure that certain other parties are brought to justice. Me and a couple of the boys from the guard have taken this task upon us. If someone has done a disservice to you, we’d be happy to show them the gods’ displeasure with them. No charge for you, since you are, after all, a representative of the gods.”

You realize that this guard is also a thug for hire, using his position and authority to extract money from those he can. Luckily, he seems genuinely grateful to your group for saving his life and he is willing to provide his services for free.

The Wooden Spoon (Caithas)

You try to converse with Harald, but it is difficult, as the group of students (many of whom have now moved to your table) are proving to be quite the distraction. He tries to give some sort of reply, but you cannot hear him with the commotion in the tavern. He simply moves his palm dismissively when you call him professor and urges you to leave the tavern. But this proves to be a difficult task, as a group of five students is now surrounding you.

All of them are quite drunk, even though it is still noon. They seem particularly interested in you. One of them, clearly the drunkest of them all, seems to be fascinated by the shape of your ears. He runs his fingers through them repeatedly, oblivious to the conversation, in a manner that is seems disturbingly homoerotic. From time to time, he says: “Pointy!” with great exclamation, before he starts giggling to himself.

The rest of the students are not that drunk yet, and they are eager to engage in conversation with your group. A glassy-eyed, black-haired student with a tall and wiry frame answers your question: “Man! This guy was the coolest lecturer we had during two years of lousy, boring courses!” He slaps you on the back, momentarily disturbing his friend, who is fascinated by your ears. “What was that lecture series called?” The thin student scratches his head, thinking hard before he continues: “How the system fucks us, and how we can fuck the system?”

This provokes roars of disapproval from his colleagues: “No! That wasn’t it! It was…” (the crowd pauses to think) “How history repeats itself and thus we are all screwed ad infinitum."" The crowd is still displeased: “No, it wasn’t that, you idiot! It was…” (pause) “How people should get together to collectively stick it to the man!” The discussion goes on, with neither from the group coming up with a satisfactory answer, giving a much-needed respite to Harald, who hides his face within his palms and shakes it, embarrassed by the situation.

At the table next to you, where the students were initially sitting, none but one of them remains. He is the most silent of the group; a young man with blonde, short hair, currently deep in his cups. As the argument between his friends ensues, he breaks his silence: “Does anyone of you even attend the lectures?! It was called: “A self-fulfilling prophesy: How the political system breeds socio-economic inequality.” Gods, why are your wealthy parents even paying for your educations, if you are anyway going to spend your time in brothels and bars?”

The group shifts their attention towards the man, and the leader says: “Oh yeah, that was it! Heh-heh, you’re such a nerd, Christoff! You should really get laid!” The band shifts their attention to Harald and your group again, as the leader says: “Hey, what happened to you, professor? I haven’t, like, seen you in ages!”
“Indeed, what happened?” says the one called Christoff in a clearly ironic tone.

Harald does not respond to his former students. Instead, he turns to you, saying: “I’ve heard enough to become disillusioned with these so-called scholars. Let’s leave now.”

Barracks dungeons (Malcom)

You concentrate, trying to remember how the barrack dungeons are organized. You have been here only few times in the past, although it never was your duty to guard the prisoners. Nevertheless, you manage to remember the architecture of the area.

[OOC: See map thread for a basic map.]

You recall that the prisoners’ equipment is taken for safe-keeping to a room that is not located within the dungeons, but on the first floor of the complex. The room is usually kept locked and, although unguarded, it would not be particularly wise to attempt to go there, for you would need to navigate through the entire building. The armory, on the other hand, is located on the ground floor of the complex. Although easier to access than the storage room, you would also have to pass through several rooms populated by guards to get there. Perhaps the safest choice would be to simply eliminate a guard and steal his equipment.

The boy follows you silently, uncertain of his actions now that he has escaped his cell.
Jules keeps his smile going even as the man unknowingly bashes his hopes for rescuing Malcom.

Fucking thugs! Zat is what he offers me? And from ze guards no less. Ah need a way to help get our leader out of captivity, zer is no way in ze madman’s hell zat Ah can use some vigilante goons for something like zis.

It takes him a moment after listening to the man before he can finally speak, but when he does a thought strikes him. The man was helpless before them, Jules could say whatever he wanted without fear of the man running off to betray them. A helpless audience, as his father would say.

“Ah make no judgements about what you have chosen to do, my friend. Ze servants of Lineen are sometimes called into similar action. In fact, if you had died, it would have been my sworn duty to hunt down whoever killed you and bring zem to justice. Can you direct me to your home, Ah am going to go and make sure your wife and children know zat you are alright,” Jules gets up from the man’s side and begins to leave, only turning back to say one final thing as he reaches the door. “Before Ah go, Ah want you to think about something. It is clear to me zat you are a man who sees ze world as it is, without ze blinds of ignorance zat many in your line of work seem to have. You are practical and yet loyal, a rare combination. But from what Ah have seen, such rare men are not often accepted by ze authority in zis land.”

With his warning planted in the man’s mind Jules leaves to go and contact his family, and hopefully find out more about their captive thug.

[OOC: If it wasn’t clear I’m trying to plant the idea that Jules/Percy is accepting of the man’s actions but that if the guards were to find out he would be in danger, hopefully in an attempt to make him less loyal to the guards. Diplomacy (+10).]
Caithas tries to disengage himself, especially from the more homoerotic boys, wiping their hands away with a shake of his hand.

When Harald says he wants to leave, the ranger nods in agreement.

“Aye, leaving sounds like a good idea, sir professor,” he says with a smirk that is only half forced. His eyes drift to Eyolf, who seems forgotten in the drunken din.

“I have some friends back at the temple of Delrodin who likely will be waiting for me, and after a few ales, they’ll probably think me in far more trouble than I’m actually in. Would you care to join me? The peace there is far more forthcoming than in this place, and you’ll find fewer admirers. If not, I understand, but I truly must be off. But if you’d care for the company…come, sir, and we’ll leave this rabble behind. I’d love to know more of what it is you teach, versus what it is these boys think you taught.”

The ranger stand, ready to leave, though the old professor intrigues him. If he’d join him, all the better; if not, so be it. As for Eyolf…well, the native had gotten a free drink out of him, and that had to be good enough, right?
When Jules opens the door, he finds Elana standing squarely in his path. “If you’re going somewhere, I’m going with you,” she said, arms crossed. “I don’t care where it is, as long as I’m not waiting by myself again. No offense,” she says the last bit to Ariel.

Her crossbow is hanging from the strap at her belt, and her spear, with it’s head wrapped in a leather satchel to make it look like a walking stick, was propped against the wall nearby. She didn’t overhear what Jules and the guard were discussing, but she had a good feeling he was about to go run off and do something. This time, she would be there.
Give or take what little options he had, it seemed like fighting would be the only way out. Not even the cleverness of a fox could escape this ensnarement. Two guard rooms to fight through with two unarmed people?

Malcom wasn’t even sure that if the boy had the tools if he’d knew how to use them properly. One thing was certain, the boy would try.

An idea comes to him quickly and he motions towards the torture chamber before listening for noise from the inside, better safe than sorry after all.
Caithas leads the old professor back the way he’d come, a little drunker but also far calmer than he’d been previously, chatting about history and politics along the way. Harald was indeed a brilliant man, and the things he knew of the history of the world and its peoples fascinated the half-elf; he could listen to him all day, especially with a few drinks in him.

When they reach the temple, which seemed too grandiose for the little place, Caithas sees Jules starting to head out the door, with Elana right behind him.

“Well, isn’t this nice? You’re not dead after all, my dear and honored lord. And my lady…always a pleasure. My friends, this is Harald…or shall I call you Herr Professor? Either way, he’s a hell of a lot smarter than I am, which isn’t saying much. But he’s a good man who helped stop a random beating from our fair city’s guardsmen, and he’s on the right side of politics and history; good enough for me. We’ve been swapping tales over ale, but I hated to think of you two getting in trouble without me so…,”

The half-elf trails off with a lopsided grin. If he’d done something wrong in his companions’ eyes, he certainly wasn’t aware of it. He was just genuinely happy to see them both alive and not in prison.

Yet. DrAwesome
Ariel nods to Elena’s comment, “And I don’t care what you say, but I’m coming with you too. The clerics can stay here and help him, I want to speak to his family.” She looks to the other man…Plus it can’t hurt to keep an eye on these people. Make sure they don’t hurt others…
Jules looks at the two women demanding to come with him and nods, but as he hears Caithas he walks up to his friend, seeing the older man with him. In little more than a whisper he says, “I know this one isn’t as good looking as the priestess, but please try to avoid telling him everything about us. I’ve also learned something about our friend in the back room. He and some of the other guards fancy themselves vigilante thugs. I’m working out how to bring it to our advantage, but I’d prefer he also stay in the dark about who we are for the time being.”
Streets of Lower Andelia (Caithas and Harald)

Harald is happy to hear you agree with his suggestion, although he is clearly embarrassed when you call him “sir professor”. “Please, one title at a time” he says half jokingly, before getting up from the table. The group of drunken students is disappointed to see the three of you go, but a fresh round of drinks quickly distracts them; they quickly forget about you and continue their drinking game.

Once outside the tavern, Eyolf gives his hand to Harald, saying: “Thank you once again, Professor. I have to return to my duties, but may the blessings of the gods be with you.” Harald is clearly dismissive of the title, but he says nothing to betray this. He simply thanks the man, who turns to you and thanks you for the drinks. He then leaves towards a different direction, allowing the two of you to continue to the temple.

Along the way, Harald tries to sate your curiosity by answering your questions. He is particularly outspoken, considering that you are but a stranger to him. You suspect that this may be due to the ale, but he seems sober.

He explains that he is associated with the Keepers, a group of scholars that seems particularly wide-spread in Svorinn. You have never heard of the group before, but you do not ask Harald anything about it. He explains that he is a historian, focusing on the history of the Demerian empire. At a young age, he became fascinated with the colonies, travelling to Svorinn in hopes of learning more about the history of the native people. However, he quickly discovered just how inaccessible the lore of Svorinn was to a Demerian who didn’t even speak the native language. Over the years, he has taught himself the native tongue and has studied the pre-colonization era of Svorinn, but his interests have slowly shifted to politics. He explains that the current political situation is non-sustainable, but you do not manage to finish your discussion, because you arrive at the temple. Harald does not share the rest of his beliefs and opinions, and he does not comment on the Keepers or the students’ comments back at the Wooden Spoon.

[OOC: Remind me to include Knowledge (Politics) as a new skill when you guys level up.]

Barrack dungeons (Malcom)

You walk on your toes, slowly, trying to avoid waking up the thirty-five or so prisoners that are currently sleeping in their cells. You press your ear against the torture chamber’s door and wait for a minute, but there are no sounds coming from behind the door. Feeling that it’s probably safe to explore the room, you push the door, which proves to be unlocked.

The torture chamber is familiar enough, given that you were there just a few hours ago. You examine the room, which contains six torture racks as well as tools for “interrogating” people more efficiently. These torture tools are scattered on small tables lying close to the racks. You could use some of those as weapons, and there are plenty of them to go around. Nothing that could serve as armor can be found, though.

[OOC: You can find tools that can serve as a dagger, light mace, club, shortspear, handaxe, light hammer and sap. If you decide to pick up one or more items, please update your character sheet accordingly. Also, please remove all other items from your character sheet (I already wrote them down, so if you can recover them, I will still remember what you had.]

As soon as you have decided what to take, you explore the rest of the doors close by, choosing to stay away from the door leading to the guards’ room for now. The door to the area which is meant for preparing the corpses is unlocked, and there seems to be no-one in the room. The door to the segregation cells, however, is locked with several, sophisticated locks [OOC: you cannot use acid to break in]. At times, you hear prolonged moans coming from behind the door, but they are not particularly loud.

Temple of Delrodin (rest of the party)

Jules leaves Gordianus’ chamber with a last word of warning. The soldier seems to interpret the disguised nobleman’s words a little differently than he had anticipated: “You won’t say anything to my commander, will you? What I’ve just said will be our little secret, no?” His tone betrays slight concern. Jules exits the room without giving an answer, leaving the guard to worry about something other than his health for now.

Caithas arrives soon thereafter, with company. The old man, whom the ranger introduces as Harald the Professor, extends his arm towards Ariel, Elana and Jules, asking for their names while saying: “Jeenan here is overstating things. You can simply call me Harald; no need for any titles. I am but a humble teacher of history and most certainly no Professor. What seems to be the problem?” he asks the group, seeing that everyone is about to leave.

[OOC: You can introduce yourselves or ignore him. He can come along with the party (provided that you give him a good reason to do so) or you can ask him to meet sometime later. Whatever the majority wants.]

Gordianus’ house (everyone except Malcom)

The walk towards Gordianus’ house is not a long one, but the deep layer of snow slows you down. Eventually, you reach the address given to you by Gordianus. The house is no mansion, but it is a decent, middle-class dwelling made of stone and wood. It has a sloped roof covered with red clay tiles and two windows. It looks big enough to accommodate a family of four. Neighboring houses are also built in similar style.

Jules knocks on the door, while the rest of the party remains behind him. After a few moments, a woman with blonde, braided hair opens the door. She seems to be in her early thirties. Her face is covered with freckles. She is neither particularly beautiful nor completely unattractive. Her eyes are red and swollen, as if she has been crying. She addresses Jules while observing the rest of the group: “Who are you? Can I do something for you, brother?”
Elana looks from “herr professor” to Caithas, who smelled of alcohol. “You went drinking?” she asked, in a flat tone. “And story telling?” Her voice hinted that she was upset with him, but she wouldn’t reprimand him here, though she didn’t really have the authority to reprimand him anywhere.

She curtly introduced herself to Harald, then shouldered her way past the pair. “We’re leaving now,” she said to Caithas, stepping outside into the frosty air.

At Gordianus’ house, Elana keeps her cloak pulled tight against the wind with her hood drawn up; she was painfully aware of how noticeable her red hair was, and that the she was a fugitive. Standing behind Jules, she studies the woman, Gordianus’ wife most likely. She looked like she’d been crying; she must’ve gotten news that her husband was killed or taken prisoner by the rebels. Elana felt a pang of guilt, but also some relief, knowing that she would be brightened by the news that Gordianus was still alive.
Caithas notes Elana’s disapproving tone, but what of it? It was nothing new. Poor girl couldn’t relax to save her life…

Before the journey to the wounded man’s house, though, a thought occurs to Caithas. He turns to Harald.

“Harald, as a scholar of Demerian history…you can’t read ancient Demerian by any chance, can you?”
Jules quickly introduces himself to the professor before leaving the temple. “Brother Percy, it is a pleasure to meet a scholar in zis city, but Ah am afraid Ah must leave, zer is a no doubt frightened woman for whom Ah bring good news.”

At Gordianus’ house Jules looks around, curious for a moment about how much of this house was paid for with his guard’s salary, and how much came from his extracurricular income. He brush the thought aside when he sees an average woman open the door, tears in her eyes. “My lady, Ah am Brother Percy, a priest of Lineen, and zes are ze people who helped save Gordianus’ life last night. He is still in recovery, but he is alive. He wanted us to come down and make sure you knew he was alright.”
Streets of Lower Andelia (everyone except Malcom)

[OOC: @ Jeff: By “introducing herself”, I am assuming that Elana gives her real name to Harald (if not, let me know, I can edit).]

Harald kisses Elana’s hand courteously, not failing to take note of her surname. “Elana Savain, as in of the Savain house? I know the stories of your father’s house and his tragic demise. Lord Keagan would be proud to see that you have become such a beautiful lady.” He pays less attention to Jules, who seems to be too preoccupied with other matters to engage in chit-chat with an old man.

As the party slowly makes its way to Floriana’s house, Harald accompanies you, staying closer to Caithas, who seems to be enjoying the old man’s company more than the rest of his companions. Most of the time goes by with Harald chronicling tales of major battles in Svorinn, which established the Demerians’ dominance in the land. In response to Caithas’ question to the scholar, he replies: “Why yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Reading ancient Demerian is an indispensable skill for every aspiring historian. How else can one have access to the original sources dating more than a thousand years ago?” Caithas takes a mental note of this, before allowing Harald to go on with his stories.

As the party approaches Floriana’s house, the historian briefly pauses, remaining silent as if contemplating. He addresses Caithas, speaking in an undertone: “I am sorry, but ever since we met outside the Wooden Spoon, I cannot shake the feeling that I have seen you somewhere before… Your face seems familiar, but somehow I cannot place you. Have we met?”

Harald awaits for an answer, before parting ways with the group: “I do not wish to meddle in your business. Sirs, ladies, it’s been a pleasure”, he says, offering his hand to all. “If you ever need me, you can find me at Wailing Winds street 7. Just ask for Harald.”

Gordianus and Floriana’s house (everyone except Malcom)

Jules observes the house. He is still a newcomer in Andelia, so he does not have much experience regarding the salaries of guards. If, however, they are anything like the ones in Yorvik, Jules thinks it’s pretty safe to assume that Gordianus could not have afforded buying this house on his work’s pay. Additional funds must have been necessary, but Jules cannot say exactly how many.

[OOC: Did an appraise check for Jules, the results are given above.]

After Jules addresses the woman, her expression changes from that of mild annoyance to one betraying eager anticipation. It seems that Jules is easy to trust when disguised as brother Percy, for Floriana does not even question his claims for a second: “Gods! My prayers have been answered! Thank you, brother, thank you!” she says as she embraces Jules, with tears of joy in her eyes. “Please, come in, tell me everything you know!” she says to Jules, before adding with a hint of skepticism: “Are these people your friends? Should they join us inside?”
Jules smiles as the woman suddenly invites him inside. His ego had been feeling a little bruised since coming to Andelia, but feeling his words strike the right chord helps to relax some of the tension he has been feeling. “My lady, it is your house, and your choice of course. Ah only thought to introduce you to Gordianus’ saviors. When Ah shouted for help, zes kind people came running.” His worry suddenly starts again, remembering that Ariel is with them. He silently hopes that she go along with their lie for a little while longer, but starts planning for the worst. Jules steps into the house, looking around for a few seconds before turning his gaze back to the woman.

“You said you wanted to hear about Gordianus’ condition, well Ah don’t know much about what happened before Ah found him, Ah was getting some fresh air, and Ah heard someone shouting, something strange about a thief or thug or some such criminal. Ah thought someone had been robbed and Ah went to investigate, but what Ah found was Gordianus, he was unconscious on ze ground beneath ze wall and Ah think someone had pushed him off. Ah have little skill in treating ze wounded, and Gordianus was in great danger of dying, so Ah called for help and zes two arrived and helped me move him to safety, and when a healer finally arrived he was stabilized and moved to a temple where his wounds can heal.”
Caithas’ eyes alight at Harald’s admission of being able to read the ancient, now-dead language.

“Harald…you ask how you know me, and…and I cannot give you the full tale, as of yet. It comes not from a lack of trust, I promise you; it is simply for time and expediency’s sake that I abbreviate my explanation. Suffice it to say, sir, that you and I are on the same side of a much, much larger conflict. The Crown and her subordinates subjugate this land and you and I, along with these fine folks I call friends, believe that that oppression is directly in contrast with honor, decency and the right of every free-born man, woman and child of this land. Your knowledge of ancient Demerian may truly be essential to the cause of ending the Empire’s crushing, never-ending choke-hold on this land and her peoples. As of now, I can say no more, but there may be a document that, in the near future, I ask you to translate for us. I hope you will do so, sir. We will find you, as you say, at Wailing Winds, Street Seven. I thank you again; it has been a pleasure sharing your wisdom and your company, over ale and otherwise. You are a good man, through and through.”

With that, the half-elf bids goodbye to the professor, silently thanking whatever gods were listening for bars and decent men the world over.

At the wounded soldier’s home, Caithas hangs back. Jules was the superior liar and master of skullduggery; there was no need to interfere with a master at work. If invited in, he would accept politely; if not, he would remain outside, eyes alert for trouble. The ranger did, however, alert his companions before arrival at the wounded man’s home about Harald’s ability to read and translate the now-lost document. If it could be recovered, along with – gods willing – Malcom, then perhaps this abortion of a trek would not be for naught after all…

When the lady of the house offered her hospitality, Caithas quietly accepted, entering the home of the poor, broken guardsman. At Jules’ flattering description of him, the half-elf coughs uncomfortably and nods.

“My lady, it was what any decent man or woman would have done. I saw a man badly wounded and I came to his aid, as best an untrained man like myself could do. If I did anything to save his life, I am forever grateful to the gods above for that chance. You have my sympathies; I would not wish what happened to your good husband on any family, enemy or friend. Thank you for your hospitality and invitation into your home; I sincerely hope that your husband will soon be back here with you and yours. Brother Percy here is the real hero, along with Sister Ariel, a skilled healer and cleric of the good god Delrodin; I was a mere passerby who did what little he could in a tragic situation.”
[OOC: Sorry for the radio silence. Parents in town, I have to entertain them.]

Floriana’s house (everyone except Malcom)

Harald parts ways with the party, bidding farewell to all, but sparing an extra moment for Caithas. The half-elf’s words seem to have struck a chord with the old man. He gives Caithas a warm handshake, before leaving. “Wailing Winds, number seven. Do come by; we still have stories to share, friend.”

[OOC-Caithas-Diplomacy check-auto success due to good RPing.]

Outside Gordianus’ house, Floriana takes the news with relief. Jules senses that she has been dealing with a great deal of emotional stress lately. Because of this, the woman will most likely need some time to fully digest the news Jules brings. When the self-proclaimed priest introduces the rest of the party as Gordianus’ saviors, Floriana extends her invitation to the group. Jules leads the way, as the rest of the group follows him inside.

[OOC-Jules-Perception check-Success.]

After entering, Floriana listens to Caithas’ words, offering nothing but a “Thank you” in response. Her tone of voice seems somewhat strange, for she does not sound thankful when she utters these words. Nevertheless, Caithas is unable to sense what is wrong.

[OOC: Caithas-Intelligence check-failure.]

Jules takes a few moments to survey the interior, before the soldier’s wife bombards him with questions. Neither particularly large nor small, the entrance hall nevertheless features certain luxuries that are beyond a guard’s means: a wooden floor, double glass windows for insulation and a fireplace. The decoration is sparse and limited to simple handicrafts, which include some wooden toys. Three doors, currently open, lead to different rooms. A strong, appetitive smell is coming from behind the left-most door; Jules identifies it as some kind of soup, suspecting that the room behind the door is the kitchen.

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-success!]

Two little girls, both less than five years old, are playing in the room. As you enter, Floriana instructs them in an authoritative voice: “Children! To your room! Mother needs to talk to our guests.” The two girls follow her instructions obediently. Soon, the group is left with Floriana, who is eager to learn more about her husband’s condition and whereabouts: “My husband’s colleagues have been searching for him throughout the entire morning, but to no avail. You say that he has been wounded. How serious are his injuries? Please, take me to him; I need to see that he is alright.”
Jules nods at the woman when she asks to see her husband, “Of course, Gordianus has been wounded and is still recovering. It may be a while before he has healed enough to come home, but he is in no danger of dying right now. Ah can not imagine how difficult zis must be for you, and Ah think zat seeing you would do Gordianus some good. If you like Ah can show you ze way to ze temple and you can speak with him. If you have a way of getting in touch with his colleagues we can tell zem zat he is safe, and zey can call of ze search. Ah wouldn’t want to waste ze guard’s resources, especially now.”
[OOC: I will wait for more posts before moving forward.]
Caithas finds the woman’s treatment of him as odd. Odd, in his experience, was rarely good, especially in this city. So while Jules speaks with the wife further, the half-elf excuses himself and waits outside the home, feeling the snow kiss his hooded cheeks.

Not a bad day, really, he considers. If we ever get that paper back, now there’s someone to read it for us. By the gods, I should go to bars more often!

He waits until at least one of his companions comes outside before leaving the home’s borders. But he does not re-enter. It was, after all, a frigid night, and mad as it was, the ranger was becoming to like the cold in this part of the world. It reminded him of long nights in the mountains, full of fires and mead.
Floriana’s house and the way to the temple of Delrodin (everyone except Malcom)

Floriana listens to Jules carefully, hanging on his every word. She seems convinced by the young man’s pretence, trusting him completely in her vulnerable state. “Please, take me to him, I need to see him. Just give me a second to talk to the children.” The woman leaves the room, following the direction that the two girls took. She can be heard walking up a wooden staircase, before telling her daughters to wait for her and open the door to no-one. Soon, she returns, excusing herself to the kitchen, to put out the fire in the hearth. Finally, she puts on a heavy coat, before following Jules and the rest of the group towards the temple.

[OOC: Jules-Diplomacy check-Success!]

Along the way, Floriana prefers to stay close to Jules, directing a flood of questions at him. She is extremely interested in the specific details of Gordianus’ injuries: “You said that he is in no danger of dying. Was he in such a danger last night? How badly did those thugs hurt him? You are a priest; how grave do you think his injuries are? For how long will he need to stay in bed?”

When Jules tries to shift the conversation to getting in touch with the guard, Floriana explains that some soldiers, including many of Gordianus’ colleagues, have been dropping by her house regularly to check if her husband has returned. “I don’t think they know anything of what you’ve told me. If you want, we can wait for them at my house later. When they come, you can report to them what you have seen. I am certain that they will want to speak with my husband as well. In all likelihood, they will want to transfer him to the military infirmary for treatment. But this is all secondary; right now, I just want to see him.” She shifts the topic to her husband’s state once again, barraging Jules with questions, eager to learn as much as she can before seeing him.
Caithas hears the woman mention a return visit to her home later, as well as more soldiers, on his walk back with the group.

No fucking way, the ranger thinks, considering the increased chances of being identified or generally fucking it up. Let Jules do it; he’s handling the woman well enough as it is.

So the half-elf will be a good companion and stick with the group until the temple, and rest a bit while the woman sees her broken spouse, but he will not join her and Jules and any others later on, heading back to her home. Instead, he’ll likely return to the bar where he met Harald; perhaps lightning will strike twice, he thinks. Or, at worst, perhaps a drink and a whore will do…
Jules struggles to retain his priestly composure as he is bombarded with questions. He tries to sooth her worries as best he can, “Well, as Ah said, Ah don’t know exactly what happened, but his injuries and his position near ze wall tells me zat he likely fell. As for his health he was in serious danger of death when Ah found him, but after zes good people came together to help him his condition has improved significantly, Ah do not believe he is in any danger of dying now. Ah don’t know how long he will need to rest, but Ah would not want him walking around any sooner zan a week or so. He could have internal injuries zat need to heal, and Ah would not want to risk further injury.”
Elana followed the other closely, content to remain out of the woman’s line of questioning; Jules was doing well enough to parry her inquisition. She empathized with the wife’s pain; it only made things worse that they were directly involved in it and the woman was completely unaware.

“This is just one family that we almost destroyed,” she thought to herself. War killed many and ruined the lives of so much more. Elana could stomach killing, at least that’s what she told herself, but she’d drive herself insane thinking of all the fallout their actions would cause.

Instead, she channeled her thoughts back to Harald, the professor. Most people knew of the tragedy that killed her parents. It was big news at the time, but that was over ten years ago; it was an old story to some and completely forgotten by others. Harald’s condolences were welcome, if unexpected. Elana didn’t remember much about her parents, and she was always interested to hear from people that knew them. She wondered if Harald had ever met her parents. She would have to ask him about that if they ever met again.
Temple of Delrodin (everyone except Malcom)

Floriana listens to Jules’ answers with increasing concern, remaining silent and absorbing the information. After entering the temple of Delrodin, Jules guides her to the room where Gordianus is recuperating. Upon seeing her husband, Floriana exclaims: “Oh! Thank the Gods!” She embraces him for several minutes, with tears in her eyes. The group remains in the room, but maintains a discrete presence, realizing that this is an intimate moment for the couple.

Eventually, Floriana and Gordianus regain their composure. Looking at Jules with gratitude in their eyes, both of them express their appreciation: “Bless you, brother!” says the woman, “and may the gods keep your companions well!” Gordianus also shares the sentiment: “I could not have asked of more from you, brother,” he says to Jules. “I am forever in your dept. Rest assured that I will make sure those responsible will be brought to justice.” Floriana then proceeds to unleash her barrage of questions, previously directed to Jules, towards her husband. Gordianus does his best to answer, but luckily for the group, it seems that his memory is still fuzzy. He verifies the information that Jules provided earlier, but does not add anything new.

[OOC: Not yet sure how the party wants to handle this, but feel free to do as much damage control as you can. Right now, both Gordianus and Floriana intend to contact the authorities, although they do not know about your real identity.]
Ariel looks on as Floriana hugs her husband. She gasps and speaks up, “Please be careful, we need to make sure we can heal him fully.”She looks concerned somewhat and then turns to Jules, “Brother… may I speak to you in the hall for a moment…please…”
[[ Mace / Dagger, equip the mace ]]

It doesn’t take long to find some useful tools, at least he was armed now, for what it was worth. The mace is sturdy and fits well in his hand while the dagger gets slipped within the folds of his clothes. Malcom looks to the boy to see if he plans on grabbing anything, but it was probably for the best if he didn’t.

The noises coming from the door was worth a quick, and quiet investigation. It only takes a few soft steps to approach the door and investigate it. The locks were certainly as sturdy as they had looked. But what was on the other side?

I’m not really sure if there’s a window or a crack or something, but its safe to say, he tries to avoid being spotted by the person(s) inside for now
Caithas follows Ariel into the hallway, assuming Jules and likely Elana will follow, allowing the reunited couple some well-deserved time together.

When the four are together, Caithas looks to Jules and Elana, while avoiding the cleric’s gaze.

“Well…now what? Time is running short, my friends. We’ve done a good thing for these two…but we haven’t long once the authorities get wind of all this.”
Jules follows Ariel into the hall, hoping he isn’t in for a scolding of some sort. When Caithas speaks up Jules tells him how he plans to deal with the authorities.

“Ah have a plan. Ah met a contact of Malcom, he is a guard as well. Ah plan to tell ze two zat Ah will go and report ze incident and hopefully Ah can come back with Malcom’s friend. He can explain zat ze crime is being looked into, but zat zey have no leads right now. Zos two won’t be a problem, what we need to focus on is rescuing Malcom. And for zat Ah have no ideas at ze moment, or at least none zat won’t blow our cover.”
Barracks dungeons (Malcom)

[OOC: I deleted your double post-hope that’s fine.]

The boy reluctantly grabs a long, pointy pole from one of the benches next to the rack. He attempts to thrust it against an invisible enemy, making it evident that he has not been trained in the use of arms. Still, he seems determined to use the weapon, if it comes to that.

Malcom silently approaches the door leading to the segregation cells. It is a large, metal door with a small, grated window at the top. He bows down, trying to avoid being seen through the window by the prisoners on the other side. Malcom recalls that this room in the dungeons is reserved for criminals that are extremely dangerous. Murderers, psychopaths and unlawful magic-users are typically held within these cells. A large lock is placed upon the door, ensuring that the criminals will not escape.

[OOC: Malcom-Intelligence check-Success!]

Malcom presses his ear against the door, trying to make out the noises behind it. Although he can hear constant mumbling, Malcom is unable to discern the words being uttered.

[OOC: Malcom-Perception check-Failure.]

[OOC: You have explored 3 out of 5 rooms: The normal cells (where you were held), the segregation cells (currently locked) and the torture chamber. The guard room and the mortuary remain unexplored. You may not realize it, but I am giving you several choices here (some have been partially revealed, others not).]
Ariel listens to the dialogue between Jules and Caithas somewhat concernedly, “What do you mean they won’t be a problem? What if they don’t believe you or you can’t find your friend?” She turns to Caithas, “I’ve trusted you for only the gods know why, can you please explain to me what is going on with your little group before you get rounded up and hung yourselves?” She lets out a sigh and glances back at the room where the soldier lays.
The half-elf turns to Ariel and returns her sigh.

“Let me explain. No, that would take far too long. Let me sum up. The truth is, Ariel, despite the posters around this city…we’re trying to be the bloody good guys, for gods only know why. This crown, the abusive guards, the constant oppression of the natives…the Empire cares nothing for Andelia. It is a backwater on the wrong side of the ocean, so the crown abuses this city and her peoples all it can. We have, or had, documentation supporting this that could help bring down this harsh rule…but it was lost with our captured friend. If we can get him back, and get the papers back, which we believe we can with this wounded guard…then, just maybe, we’ll be able to set the spark that will ignite the blaze that will free you, me, and everyone else in this poor, beaten-down city. So I ask you Sister: Do you want to maintain the miserable status quo and watch the suffering multiply before your very eyes…or do you want to help us, take a stand, and perhaps create true and lasting change?”

Fuck me, the half-elf thinks in amazement…I almost believed that little speech myself! This city really is getting to me…
As Caithas’ speaks Ariel finds a familiar twinge in her gut. The same feeling she felt when she heard of her father’s death in the war, seeing innocent children starving as she trained with the clergy, and even as she was kicked out of the temple for a crime she didn’t commit.

She runs her finger along the hem of her simple robe contemplating what to say, then looks up at Caithas. “If you don’t want to attract any more unwanted attention perhaps you ought to keep your voice down.” She smiles slightly and then continues, “Master Caithas, I have seen my fair share of the pain and suffering of this city, more than you will ever know. And I have watched as people I care for are beaten down by a system that couldn’t care two shits for them. So if you really are who you say you are… I will help you.”

The blood rushes to her cheeks and she offers a silent prayer, Delrodin, do not tease me with hope, then snatch it away. “What must we do to help your friend.?”
Caithas smiled. First Harald, now her.

Not a bad day of drinking, the half-elf muses. If we ever get Malcom back, this little sojourn might not be a complete disaster yet.
Unable to discern what exactly was being said, Malcom tries to take a peek in through the window, to see if he can spot a possible familiar face. After-all, there are plenty of rebels who might get locked up here.

To the mortuary!

Though not exactly sure what could be of use within the room, Malcom decides to check all possibilities before trying to go through armored men… The thought of playing dead came to mind, but it was a little late for that, after all, the lock on the door had been eaten away by acid.

He could always rally the prisoners for a jail break but he’d have to burn each of the locks off, and that would take quiet some time, if he could even sustain himself for that long. But there was always the notion that there was some unsavory characters here who belonged here. Thieves and the like, the thought of letting them free for a chance to escape was simply not enough. Each cell would have to be checked for anyone he recognized and then… when the fighting starts, or even before then, the rest of the prisoners would not sit quietly by.
“What we can do for him, ol’ Brother Percy is the man to ask,” Caithas responds to the cleric, his smile genuine.

“If you’re on our side, all’s the better, but Jules is the one leading this attempt to fix this failed mission. I just hang around…and hope for the best.”
Ariel smiles at Caithas’ response. Gods this man even when I’m pissed he’s charming…

She turns to Jules "Well then Brother, what do you recommend we do? "
Barracks dungeons (Malcom)

[OOC: I will just assume that you first go to the mortuary, it’s simpler that way.]

Malcom leaves the segregation cells door for the time being, moving towards the mortuary. The door is unlocked; no-one seems to be in the room except for the bodies of men whose spirits have long left this realm. Pausing for a minute to investigate, Malcom inspects the room, hoping to find anything that might help him escaping from the dungeons.

[OOC: Perception check rolled on player’s behalf.]

The room is large but plain: surrounded by four gray walls, it only contains long, narrow wooden tables and a big cart. Most of the tables have dead men of all ages lying on them. A pair of tongs can be found next to some of the bodies. The dead men on those tables have their mouths open, as if screaming for one last time, but their eyes are closed. Malcom has difficulty understanding the significance of the tongs, until he discovers a small number of golden teeth piled up on one of the empty tables. He estimates that collectively, the teeth are worth at least three hundred sovereigns.

[OOC: Appraise check rolled on behalf of player. Sovereigns = gold pieces.]

After deciding what to do with the teeth, Malcom takes a closer look inside the cart. The two-wheeled vehicle is covered with a white piece of cloth. It is just small enough to fit through the doorways of the dungeons, most likely pulled by a mule or other beast of burden. Malcom lifts the cover to reveal a number of bodies stacked inside the wagon. He is forced to put the cover back almost immediately, as the stench of decomposing corpses makes him gag with disgust. Despite the gruesome sight, Malcom realizes that hiding amongst the corpses in the wagon might be his only chance of escaping the dungeons without bloodshed. He recalls that the guards carry off the dead before executing the prisoners. If his absence from the cell is not noticed, Malcom might have a chance of escaping, although he does not remember what might happen to the bodies after they are carried out of the dungeons.

[OOC: Intelligence check rolled on player’s behalf.
I will give you some time to consider your options, before going back to the segregation cells and looking through the window. Hiding amongst the dead is not easy: you should roll a Fortitude or Will check against a DC of 17 if you want to try this (reflecting physical toughness or willpower, respectively). If you want to try this, you can roll both and if either check succeeds, you successfully manage to hide in the cart (but role-play the results accordingly). The boy will refuse to follow you (you can try to change that through various means).]

Temple of Delrodin (rest of the party)

[OOC: Nice plan, Ross . I will give Jules and Ariel some more time to talk to each other.]

Jules looks at the pair: Floriana has been hearing everything Gordianus had to say. The man seems to have confirmed what Jules already told her and now Floriana has moved on to checking her husband’s injuries. She seems genuinely concerned about his legs, pinching him and making numerous inquiries about what he can or cannot feel. She also asks several questions regarding his health, how the priests have been treating him and if there is anything she can do for him. Jules thinks that the pair is busy for the time being and that Floriana is too distracted to think about reporting to the guards. This might buy him and the group some time, but Jules is not sure how much time exactly they would have, before Floriana decides to leave.

[OOC: Jules-Wisdom check-Failure.]

Reassured that Floriana and Gordianus are busy for now, the party leaves the room, ensuring privacy for both the pair but also themselves. The corridor is frequented by priests, but they are too busy to pay any attention to any of you. You decide that it is best to discuss amongst yourselves how to proceed with everything, before making your next move.

[OOC: You are outside of Gordianus’ room, but the door is closed. There is no chance of him or his wife escaping. You can safely discuss what your next move will be. Jules’ meeting with Langbard at the Finest Tankard, a large tavern frequented by soldiers and guards, is in two hours. You can discuss, agree on the plan of action, and proceed as you wish.]
Jules listens to Caithas recruit Ariel to their cause, restraining himself from saying anything, when he mentions that Jules is leading them. If he was their backup leader then Malcom’s rescue just became even more important.

“Well, first of all, if Ariel is being hunted by ze guards as well, zen you are going to need a new identity and a new wardrobe. After Ah talk to zos two in zer, Ah am going to try my best to make you more difficult to recognize. Zen Ah have a meeting with a contact, Caithas, Ah might need you to keep any more blades from find zer way to my liver. And hopefully sometime in ze next few hours Ah will finally think of a way to get our friend out of prison.”

After a rushed explanation Jules knocks on the door saying, “It’s brother Percy, do you mind if Ah come in?”

[OOC: If they let Jules in.]
“Ah am glad you two are together again. Ah have a few errands to run, but while Ah am out Ah will check to see if ze guards have started investigating ze attack, and make sure zat zey know you are safe.”
Caithas nods at Jules, turning from Ariel.

“Of course, my friend; hopefully it won’t come to blades, but with us – heh – you never know, eh? What of our fairer sex companions? What will you two lovely ladies do during our little appointment? The more, the merrier, as they say. But having some eyes here to watch and potentially stop the guard and his wife from leaving and reporting anything would likely be terribly helpful too.”

(OOC: So, unless someone speaks to Caithas again directly, wanting a response, he’ll hang out and then go with Jules.)
The smell was more than enough to warrant a second thought about joining the dead in the cart. Though it seemed like the only fairly certain way to get out without fighting. But he couldn’t abandon the one thing that connected him to his Goddess, and he certainly felt alone without it. It never really crossed his mind until now, but he silently prayed that the rest of the group was doing fine, and that the mission was going well. His glaive was his focus and he’d fight to get it back if need be. The thought of anyone laying hands on it was nearly as atrocious as the smell of the cart, and judging by his own reaction, and that of the boy’s, he wouldn’t go easily that way, but yet he didn’t want to fight… why exactly did the boy even leave the cell then?

At least now he had an option for escape, and that was good enough for now. The muttering from the segregation cell was still intriguing enough to warrant an investigation. Though the thought of time crossed his mind, and though he moved quickly, he would not sacrifice quiet for speed as he went back to the door to check on it.
Barracks dungeons (Malcom)

Malcom decides that the segregation cells are worth another look. He cautiously approaches the heavy door, guided by the constant mumbling coming from behind it. This time, Malcom takes a peak from the grated window, as the boy remains in the main chamber, not sure of what to do next other than follow Malcom around.

The room behind the door is dark, long and narrow. It takes a while for Malcom’s eyes to adjust, but eventually he manages to see numerous chains attached to the walls, all of them terminating in handcuffs and other restrains. They are designed to fit around a prisoner’s hands, ankles and neck. Malcom can only see two prisoners in the room: closer to the door, a man lies on the floor, apparently sleeping. Further down the room, a fidgeting figure can be observed. At the same time, Malcom can hear curses, insults and threats, evidently coming from the prisoner who is awake. All are spoken quietly, but with great zeal.

“Fuck you Gods, and fuck you, Fates! I will kill you all for this! You think that these chains can hold me?! Mark my words, I will escape and I will get you for this! But I will start with the guards. I will tear out their eyes and piss into their eye sockets! They’ll see if they can mess with me!” The curses continue, accompanied by the rattling sound of chains that is made as the prisoner moves his arms in frustration.

[OOC: Malcom Stealth vs. prisoner Perception check-Success!]
[OOC: Malcom-Wisdom check-Failure.]

Failing to observe anything else in the dark room, Malcom withdraws from the window. All neighboring rooms have been explored, save one: the small corridor connecting the two main holding areas, which is manned by guards. Malcom assesses his choices before deciding on his next move.

Temple of Delrodin & outside The Finest Tankard (Jules, Caithas, who else?)

Floriana looks up from the bedside and replies to Jules: “Your kindness knows no limits, brother. Friends of Gordianus’ have been checking on me since the morning; they pass by our house frequently. If you wish to report to them, you can wait them there. My two daughters know you, and they will open the door for you if you tell them I said so. I will stay with Gordianus and return to them later. There are still several things we have to discuss in private.”

Jules leaves Floriana to tend to her loved one, as the party gathers and decides how to proceed. Jules decides to head to the Finest Tankard to meet with Langbard, accompanied by Caithas. Before doing so, the nobleman volunteers to provide a convincing disguise to anyone who might need it.

[OOC: Who will join, other than Jules and Caithas? If no posts are made, I’ll assume Elana and Ariel will stay at the temple. Also, who is disguised (other than Jules), and as what? You are heading to a soldiers’ tavern, so it’s kind of important.]

Followed by Caithas, Jules rushes to the tavern, finding Langbard waiting for him outside. He is wearing the guardsmen’s tunic over a set of chainmail armor, the typical attire for a member of the guard. “I see you’ve brought company,” he observes. “May I know who you’ve brought along and, more importantly, why?” Jules senses that Langbard is somewhat suspicious, although under these circumstances, it is hard to blame him.

[OOC: Jules-Wisdom check-success!]
Ariel looks to Elena, “I think it would be best if I stayed here and kept an eye on the soldier and the lady. I will try to pick up any information they might have, and help keep the authorities away.” She keeps her voice hushed, so no one can overhear her.
Caithas, with his Empire’s cloak over his armor, dresses much like the rest of the militaristic crowd. His twin blades gleam against the snow sparkle.

Addressing Langbard, Caithas goes with simple honesty.

“My name is Caithas. I am this man’s friend and loyal soldier. I am also on the same side of this bloody struggle as you are. I am here merely for safety sake. I leave the thinking to bright gents like you two.”
Before leaving Jules decides to caution Caithas for the meeting, “This man believes me to be brother Percy, and Ah don’t fully trust him. So try to avoid using my real name.”

Jules is a little put off by Langbard’s cool greeting, but it isn’t without reason, Jules hadn’t exactly been open when they last spoke. “He is with us. Ah am ill-equipped for a fight, so Caithas here offered to keep me safe. Now, we have some things to discuss don’t we?”
“Well, it only takes one person to babysit the couple,” Elana thought to herself. She addresses Jules and Caithas. "I’ll be going with you then. As for a disguise . . . " She reaches for the wand that was only good for conjuring grease puddles, but they didn’t know that. She touched the wand to her hair and said a few made up words whilst channeling her own very real power.


Her long fiery hair darkened in waves until it was pitch black. “There,” she said, running a hand through her hair. “Disguise!”

After Jules introduced Caithas, Elana gave a curt bow. “And I am sister Ælla,” she said, using the alias she gave when meeting the rebels. “I am brother Percy’s assistant.” Her crossbow was hanging unloaded at her side, and she looked harmless enough to be a priestess or even just a clerk; hopefully the man would gloss over her.
As the three companions head to the meeting, Caithas leans in to Elana and says, “Dark hair looks good on you, my lady.”
After the others leave Ariel goes back to talk to Floriana and her husband, she grabs a pack filled with various medical supplies and knocks on the door to the room before entering. “Sorry to interrupt, just want to check on those wounds, I’m sorry milady this may be gruesome. If you do not wish to view it I could find you a more relaxing place to wait.”
The finest tankard (Caithas, Elana and Jules)

Outside the tavern, Langbard spends little time for introductions and pleasantries. In response to Caithas, he says: “Very well, but keep your blades in their scabbards and your tongue in your mouth, Caithas.” He pauses to take a closer look at the ranger, before exclaiming: “By the gods, you are the half-elf whose face has been decorating every fucking wall in this city! Are you mad to come here?” It takes a little time for Langbard to calm down, before he concludes: “Well, at least now I know where your allegiances lie.” He eyes Jules suspiciously, but he seems unable to discern his true identity. Turning to Caithas once again, he concludes: “Leave the talking to me. I doubt that you can pass of as a guardsman or soldier in conversation.”

[OOC: Disguise checks-Success (Jules) and failure (Caithas).]

As Elana introduces herself, Langbard turns to her in surprise, before turning back to Jules and looking at him with disapproval. “What? She is with you as well? I am sorry madam, but this is not a place for ladies. I cannot protect you from insults if you come inside. And hide that crossbow! Some of the soldiers are into these types of things, you don’t want to attract any unwanted attention.”

[OOC: Assuming that everyone enters the tavern.]

As you enter the tavern, you are led into a spacious hall filled with the sounds of lively discussions. A small band of musicians is playing in the center of the room. They are playing instrumental pieces, traditional tunes that are not accompanied by singing. You feel that they are deliberately avoiding happy or fast tunes. The hall, although spacious, is half-empty. You notice that a large table, suitable for about ten persons, is empty, although there are mugs of ale and plates containing food standing on it.

[OOC: Everyone-Perception checks-success!]

Langbard leads you to a table where nine other men, all guards apparently, are sitting. The soldiers, who appear to be the allies Malcom had mentioned, introduce themselves, before Langbard introduces the three of you to them. He then takes a seat in the middle of the table, allowing you to sit beside him, before saying: “I have good news and bad news. Which ones do you want first?”

[OOC: Order differs according to Jules’ preference. Malcom’s storyline is still ongoing, although in game time it has already happened, so I will be deliberately non-specific.]

“The good news is, that I have managed to retrieve a document that fits the one you described”, he says to Jules. He hands the nobleman the piece of paper. Jules unfolds it and is relieved to see that it is indeed the coding message the group is trying to decipher. Langbard continues: “Although the barracks are off limits for us normal guardsmen currently, I have a man on the inside that managed to find this amongst the prisoners’ belongings. He promised that he is able to find and return Malcom’s remaining gear, if it is also kept there. It seems that our common friend was indeed taken to the barracks…”

“As for the bad news: I fear that I was unable to find a trace of Malcom, or a man bearing resemblance to him, in the dungeons. I asked one of my contacts with access to the prison to look for him, and he provided a list with all prisoners taken yesterday.” Langbard hands the list first to Jules, who passes it off to Caithas and Elana, adding as you read it: “You will notice that Malcom’s name is missing. This can mean two things: either he did not make it through the night, or he stayed true to the cause and did not reveal his identity. In either case, I am sorry to shatter your hopes, but he is most likely dead by now.” He gives a long pause, allowing the news to sink in.

As the three of you go through the list of names, you fail to spot Malcom’s name, but one of the names catches Caithas’ attention: it is Matthias; the obscure deity that Malcom had said was the source of his magic.

[OOC: Intelligence checks-Caithas (success) and Elana (Failure). I checked the threads and Malcom did not reveal this information to Jules, so no roll for Ross…]
[OOC: Not sure how you wish to proceed with your plan of rescuing Malcom, but it might be difficult, given that the two storylines are not synchronized… For me, it would be easier to keep them separate, but if you have a creative way to make this work, I am open to suggestions ]

Temple of Delrodin (Ariel)

“Nonsense, I will remain with my husband.” says Floriana. But when Ariel starts examining Gordianus’ legs, the man urges his wife to follow Ariel’s suggestion: “It’s alright honey, you do not need to see this. I will be fine, I am in good hands.” Floriana is reluctant to go, but she caves in to her husband’s request and leaves the room. Ariel realizes that the real reason underlying Gordianus’ behavior is that he doesn’t want his wife to see him in this state.

[OOC: Ariel-Sense motive check-Success!]

Ariel takes some time to look to the man’s legs. She is certain that, without the aid of powerful magic, the guard will be unable to stand or walk for the rest of his life. Ariel knows that such powerful magic greatly exceeds her talents; it is more akin to miracles conducted by saints and deities in the legends she has read about.

[OOC: Ariel-Heal and Knowledge (religion) checks-Success!]
Jules listens intently as Langbard explains the situation with Malcom. His mind quickly running through all the possible ways he could have avoided notice with the guards.

He was likely wounded, he could have used zat to disguise himself, but if zes men know him zen zey should have been able to see through it. Ze stubborn bastard would die before giving up his cause, so zis list is useless. Zat only leaves a few options, he has been taken somewhere else, in which case we can’t help him, he has managed to escape on his own, in which case we can’t help him, or he is dead, in which case we can’t help him.

When the explanation is finished Jules finally speaks, addressing the table in a low voice. “Alright, for zos of you who don’t know, Ah am brother Percy. For ze meantime our friend will have to wait. Ah won’t risk precious lives on a task zat may not even have what we want at ze end. Our friend is creative and strong willed, if he is alive zen ah have no doubt zat ze reason you didn’t find him is because he didn’t want to be found by ze wrong sorts. Instead we need to spread our focus, a narrow minded approach will leave us vulnerable.” Jules taps the note on the table. “First, information. We need two things to break zis code, a keyword and a translator. Ah don’t know where to find a translator we can trust, but Ah do know where to find ze keyword, ze Black Chamber. Ah need to know everything you know about every member of ze Black Chamber, every guard zer, and everything zat could help me get in contact with someone zer. Decoding zis note will not only give us valuable information, it will give us ze full support of ze Irregulars. But zat is not enough, Ah also need information on a guard by ze name of Gordianus, who he reports to, who he spends his time with, who his friends are. And finally, Ah need to know any Imperial Officials who are in ze city at ze moment, nobles, senators, advisers, tax collectors, anyone even remotely important in ze Empire.”

Jules gives his requests a moment, hoping the other guards can at least give him something to go on, otherwise he might be forced to take to the streets to figure these things out, an undesirable and time consuming waste.
Ariel tends to the wounds and can’t help but grimace at the extent of the damage. Gods…he’ll never walk again. Delrodin heal him, and allow him to run with his children again.

As she works she tries to strike up a conversation with Gordianus, “So you have children yes? What are their names?”

I have to keep them talking, the longer I stall the greater chance the others have of getting their friend back. I cannot allow the authorities to know of what happened…
Caithas stands quietly behind Jules.

Sir Amour, really. Because that’s who he’s being, and that is exactly what this rebellion needed. The underclasses are looked at as weak, dumb, stubbornly persistent parts of the rich, noble peoples’ world. Even a weak title is a title. Jules, and Elana, were the names of this rebellion; the table just didn’t know it yet. The forces would help.

Everyone wanted a hero.

Most wanted to be a hero.

Not Caithas. He lowers his already-uncovered face and stands quietly.

Because Malcom was likely gone, one way or the other. He hoped he wasn’t; but he likely was.

And he’d joined this bloody rebellion. Because why not?

Why not help overthrow the world?

Caithas saw two nobles in a sea of faces.

So he stood and nodded.

He tried not to smile.

He failed.
Elana scanned over the list of prisoners and felt disheartened when Malcom’s name wasn’t included on it; at this point it seemed very likely that he was killed. She didn’t let her despair show; not now, not in front of the others. She sat straight and proper, watching the meeting with an air of dignity she had long ago picked up.

Jules constantly surprised her with his capability. On the one hand, he was a unreliable rogue and a poor excuse for a nobleman. On the other, he showed gentlemanly quality and had solid understanding of the world around him; something Elana’s inexperience left her lacking. It was comforting seeing him take charge the way he was now. Comforting, mind you, not attractive; Mannix could have told her to marry the most attractive man in the world and he would have lost all luster, thanks to her stubborn and rebellious ways.

[OOC: Elana will sit and watch the meeting; obviously she doesn’t hold much weight here and she doesn’t want to be in the spotlight anyhow.]
[OOC: Relatively short post-busy busy busy! I will try to answer all of Jules’ questions, but for now I will start with a few of them.]

Langbard patiently listens to Jules’ words, giving his men a stern look when a decision is made about Malcom. The men solemnly agree, understanding that this decision might seal his fate, but realizing that it is a necessary evil. When Jules starts to barrage him with questions, he does not hide his surprise, trying to lighten the mood by making a biting comment about the nobleman: “As a young man, I believed that priests had their minds on the heavens. It took me a few years to realise how practical and calculating many of your ilk are… At first I was disillusioned, but right now I am happy that we have such a practical man amongst us!” He addresses the comment to his men, as he pats Jules on the back whilst ordering another round of drinks.

Langbard first addresses Jules’ question regarding Imperial officials in Andelia: “I could enumerate the members of the small senate, those that I remember, at least. But what good would that do? Caius Sextus, our wise and honored governor [OOC: slightly ironic], has transferred all power to the military, with the blessings of the Small Senate, the most powerful noble houses and the Merchants’ Guild. The events that occurred on the day of the Einherjar have frightened the political elite, who sought to empower the military, hoping that they will swiftly restore law and order. I am not sure if you have heard the rumors, but there are whispers in the winds that Aurelius Fortius, until recently the captain of the Andelian guardsmen, has disappeared after the fiasco of the execution. The rumors are true. Aurelius has been replaced by Quintus Calpurnius, an officer that has never been on the field. The bureaucrat has managed to reduce the guard to shambles in just a few days, with men going missing or being found wounded in the back alleys of Upper Andelia, claiming to have been the victims of rebels. But while the guardsmen have been fighting-and losing-this war of attrition, more ominous events have been unfolding. The full might of two Legions has been amassing in Lower Andelia. Legion IX, under general Vassilius, has displaced the guardsmen from the barracks, where they have been preparing under utmost secrecy. At the same time, Legion XI, commanded by general Boronius, has been summoned to protect the political elite. As a result, all buildings in the Government district, major noble houses in the wealthier neighborhoods of Lower Andelia and wealthy merchants are under constant guard, surrounded by soldiers all the time and with draconian restrictions as to who can access these areas.”

“There are many amongst us, ourselves included, that believe that the Small Senate is using the guardsmen as fodder, in an effort to buy enough time to summon all detached troops to the city. When the Legions draw their full might within the city walls, Upper Andelia will be sealed; its citizens left to starve or freeze while the military makes sure to uproot all resistance against Imperial authority. I fear that time is working against us.”

[OOC: Just a brief outline of the current political situation. I can come up with more specific details regarding the (Small) Senate, which is the governing body of Andelia, as well as important noble houses and the Merchants’ guild. Same goes for Legions IX and XI. Just ask. I will address the rest of Jules’ questions-namely, details about Gordianus and members of the Black Chamber-soon, hopefully tomorrow.]
Caithas piped up from the back, “There may be reinforcements coming, though. The good Brother here, along with the lady, and myself…we’ve put out messages for support. So perhaps, if timed right…it could be a, you know, pincer manuever. So if support can be gathered in here…and, if they come, the others strike from the outside. It could work. Otherwise, and I say this with all due respect, we’re all fucked, aren’t we?”

Probably should have held off on the drink, the half-elf thinks slowly.
Temple of Delrodin (Ariel)

Gordianus bites his lips, trying not to let the pain get to him as Ariel removes the bandages and looks to the wounds. “Two little girls; they mean the world to me. Gratiana is six and Iunia has just turned four. I don’t know what I’d do without them. One day, they will grow up to be fine ladies and they will be proud for what their father has gone through for them.” The guard takes a look at his legs, but then averts his gaze from his grievous injuries. He chooses to focus on Ariel, keenly observing her as she does whatever needs to be done.

The Finest Tancard (Caithas, Elana, Jules)

Having outlined his estimation of the situation, Langbard proceeds to answer more of Jules’ questions:

[OOC: I checked and I don’t think that Jules has mentioned Gordianus before to Langbard.]

“How do you know who Gordianus is? I suppose you know something about his recent disappearance? The entire guard has been looking for him since yesterday.” He looks at you inquisitively. After all those questions, Jules suspects that Langbard would require a more convincing explanation than that of a wandering, benevolent cleric who is eager to help Malcom.

Despite his suspicions, Langbard goes on, reluctant to dispel the charade: “If you know Gordianus, I have only one piece of advice: stay away from him.” He looks around the table, apparently searching for someone, before continuing in an even lower tone than before: “See the second table on the right, next to that barmaid? These are the men of Maxentius Tertius, Aurelius Fortius’ right-hand man. Gordianus is-or was-one of them.” You see approximately twenty men, gathered around the table. “They are a despicable bunch.”, Langbard continues. “Even now, when it has been made plain that the ruling class won’t hesitate sacrificing the guardsmen to buy time, these idiots remain the senate’s loyal lapdogs. No wonder, since they have friends in high places that don’t mind turning a blind eye when Maxentius decides to make a little dough on the side. If Gordianus is dead, then good riddance, I say. One corrupt guardsman less to worry about, if you ask me.”

Langbard also tries to explain how Andelia is governed. Officially, the Small Senate, a group of thirty representatives, holds all political power in the capital of Svorinn. The Small Senate is analogous to the Demerian Senate, but it only has one fifth of its size. All free Demerians are entitled to vote for Senators of their choosing, although the plebeians are excluded from the elections. Master rector Caius Sextus has been first among the senators for longer than Jules can remember.

In reality, the Small Senate is influenced-some even say controlled-by the Demerian Noble houses and the Merchants’ guild. The Merchants’ guild uses its money to buy political influence, whereas the Noble Houses provide senators, commanding officers for the Legions, orators, politicians and clergy. Langbard refreshes Jules’ memory regarding important Noble Houses in Andelia.

House Aureus is an old and powerful Demerian line, one of the first to move to Svorinn after its discovery. Due to its history, the house holds enormous prestige, although its power has waned over the last century.

House Livianus is famous for producing officers loyal to the Imperial Legions of Demeria. Many of the most well-known tacticians in the Demerian army were descended from this house. General Boronius Livianus, commander of Legion XI, is currently the most important member of this house.

House Petronius has been producing skilled orators and clerics of Gorthorm Thord ever since it was established. The current head of the house is also the high priest of the temple district of Andelia.

House Traianus rose to power after putting on a string of successful gladiatorial shows that captured the public’s imagination several years ago. Although Andelia does not sport a fighting arena, as master rector Caius Sextus views such customs as barbaric, nearly all major cities in Svorinn own one or more. Providing circuses for the public, especially when there is no bread to be had, can be a very lucrative enterprise, one from which house Traianus has profited immensely.

House Nestorius is less important politically than other houses. Nevertheless, it is widely respected among the educated populace for its accomplished scholars. Members of the house occupy key positions in the organization known as the Keepers of the Light.

House Thoranius has grown powerful as slave trade in Demeria prospers. There is a great market for natives of Svorinn in the Imperial states of Demeria, and House Thorianus has made sure that its monopoly in this profitable business is never challenged. While Lord Thorianus resides in Lower Andelia, slave-traiding is conducted by his many sons, exclusively from the port city of Sailor’s Stone.

Langbard then tells Jules what he knows about the Black Chamber: “The Black Chamber is supposedly located within the government district of Lower Andelia, although none of the guardsmen would know where. If it is protected, then the Andelian guard knows nothing of it.”

[OOC: Jules however, does know the exact location of the Black Chamber, since Greycloak told him. So feel free to ask.]
Jules takes in as much of the information as he can, trying to process everything and fit it into his plan. The knowledge that Gordianus and his allies are loyal to the senate starts to hurt his plans for them, but if there was one truth the Linees had learned, it was that revenge can push a person to fantastic extremes, and twenty fully trained and equipped allies would be a great help if he could get them. But the houses and the senate would be where the battle might truly shift in their favor. As they are they are outnumbered, possibly five or even ten to one depending on the enemy forces. Not to mention ill equipped and with most of their forces untrained.

Hmm, zes houses. Ah need to learn more about Aureus, but with ze proper motivation zey may join us, or at ze very least stay out of our way. Livianus is a threat, Ah will try to learn more, but it is likely zat zey will need to be controlled in a less subtle way. Petronius, Ah should learn more about zer god, if zey are as devout as you say, zen faith may be ze way to zer loyalty. Traianus, zey may bend to a convincing tongue, but Ah will not be placing much faith in it. Nestorius, if zer is any house to contact first it would be zem, reason, scholarship, and intellect as well as a lack of political ambition will help with convincing zem, and ze Keepers, to aid us. Thoranius, zey will not likely side with us. Zis rebellion threatens his business and Ah would fight it if Ah were him. He may need to be dealt with before ze rebellion comes out in force.

Jules thinks for a few minutes, ignoring the table before him and focusing on how to best deal with the problems before them. When he finally has a strategy ready he speaks again.

“Very well zen. Ah will speak with my allies more on our specific roles in zis plan later, but for ze time being Ah have a few more questions and a request. First, have any of ze senators or nobles spoken out against ze Empire or ze actions of ze senate, even in passing or rumor? Second, who in ze senate or ze guards would be capable and willing to launch an investigation or arrest Maxentius and his men? And finally, do you know ze names of any of ze members of ze Black Chamber?

“Also, as for my request, Ah don’t know how much time or ability to move freely you all have, but Ah would like to know ze common haunts of Livianus, Traianus, and Thoranius. Brothels, taverns, mistresses, anywhere zat zer protection isn’t as heavy, and when zey are most commonly zer. Ah know zat Ah am asking a lot, and zat you may be reserved about giving so much to one you know so little about, but please trust me when Ah say zat Ah am here not to give us a chance at victory, but to make it a certainty. Ah am not about to risk my life on anything less, and Ah will make sure zat by ze time Ah am done here, assured victory is what we have, nothing less.”

[OOC: Probably diplomacy here (+10)]
Caithas smiled again at Jules’ handling of the situation. Most of the political mumbo jumbo was over his head, but he got the gist of it. Once they had a location to match to a name…well, his swords would not stay sheathed long, he imagined.

Trying to focus, Caithas does his best to follow along, though his eyes drift to Elana now and then, no matter how much he tries to avoid it.

Surrounded by beautiful women, the half-elf thinks, as he looks at his friend and leader’s wife, while his mind drifts to Ariel.

I’ve been in worse spots, the half-elf thinks.

All this talk of women, and something occurred to him. His original mission, so long abandoned…hell, there were a lot of them. It couldn’t hurt to ask.

At a lull in the conversation, Caithas asks, “I’m sorry to interrupt, gentlemen, but with so many of you here, I thought I’d ask: Have any of you heard of a woman by the odd name of Laitis?”

Shots in the dark often missed but sometimes hit, the ranger mused.
Ariel smiles involuntarily at the idea of the two small children. “I do hope so…How did you meet your Floriana? She seems like a fine lady herself…” She trails off again, and tries to avoid eye contact as she finishes changing the bandages.

After he answers she opens the door and ushers Floriana back into the room. “You can come back in now…I’m all finished.”
The finest tankard (Caithas, Elana and Jules)

Langbard continues his discussion with Jules, while the rest of the men sitting around the table remain silent, apparently interested in the conversation. “No-one amongst the senators and none of the nobles would dare criticizing the Empire of Demeria openly. In fact, few of them would have the inclination to do so. Senators, nobles, merchants: The political elite knows that its privileges, and perhaps its very existence, relies on the Empire maintaining its hold over the colonies. Wealthy, influential and intelligent men have a strong interest in self-preservation, it would seem.”

“That is not to say that all interested parties agree that the current plan of action is optimal. Within the senate, there are a few voices that support quelling the rebellion while it is in its infancy. Seven of the senators believe that the guardsmen should be immediately mobilized to stage a pogrom against the Svodun natives, in hopes that this would discourage any planned uprising. An equal number of senators have realized that the situation in the colonies is unsustainable, and they propose seeking a fairer settlement between the hoi polloi and themselves. However, they do not have concrete suggestions and they disagree amongst themselves as to what the preferred compromises would be. The majority of the senate is being led by unfolding events, interested only in its safety us unrest starts to swell. This is why the legions have been deployed to Andelia.”

Regarding the issue of Maxentius, Langbard gives a brief reply: “I doubt that anyone would care about Maxentius’ corruption, especially under these circumstances. The senate has bigger problems now, as the outcry against the Imperials turns to an uprise that is gaining momentum. Right now, neither nobles nor senators would have reasons to turn against their enforcers, even if the accusations against the latter are valid.”

Finally, when Jules asks Langbard about the Black Chamber, he replies: “Lowly soldiers such as myself do not have access to such information. The Black Chamber, even if it exists, is a carefully guarded secret of the Imperial bureaucracy. If you ask for my opinion, I doubt that the Black Chamber is a place or a organization. More likely than not, it is a small, secretive group of highly qualified individuals within the bureaucracy. But that’s just my gut feeling.”

Langbard continues to address Jules’ questions to the best of his abilities: “The noble sons of house Livianus do not have many vices, valuing discipline and honor-their own brand of honor, mind you-above all else. But many of officers under general Boronius are rumored to frequent the Seductive Succubus, a high-class brothel on the outskirts of Andelia.

Those of house Traianus have a great love for gambling. After all, they did rise to power through the gladiatorial arena. There is no such arena in Svorinn, but the house has been illegally organizing a series of “games” in different taverns from time to time. You would most likely find members of house Traianus running these games, should you chance upon such an event.

Members of house Thoranius are the leaders of the underground slave trade here in Andelia. They must be shipping natives to Sailor’s Stone somehow, although they must be doing it under the utmost of secrecy, for I do not know anything else about the matter.”

Across the table, one of Malcom’s men shifts his attention to Caithas for a moment, quickly answering his question: “Laitis is no name, friend. I do not have much knowledge of the native tongue here in Svorinn, but the word “Laitis” should roughly mean “snow-bird”. I could be wrong, though.”

All conversations are interrupted as a guardsman from a few tables across the room raises, holding his mug up. According to Langbard’s earlier statements, the man is none other than Maxentius. His men pound their fists on the table, as the soldier makes a toast. Turning to the empty table, Maxentius says: “To our fallen brothers. May they soon recover and join us in quelling the anarchy in this city.” All men in the tavern, Malcom’s men included, rise from their seats and raise their mugs in solidarity.

Temple of Delrodin (Ariel)

“Her family introduced her to my family about a decade ago. We married after our elders validated our union. It may not be much of a romantic story, but we have been happily married for more than ten years. That is more than I can say for some other couples.”
As Ariel invites Floriana back to the room, the wife inquires: “Is everything alright?” Turning to Gordianus, she asks: “It is getting late; I should go check on the children. I will bring them for a visit tomorrow. Iunia has been worried sick about you.” Gordianus nods in agreement, as his spouse prepares to leave.
Caithas raises his glass with the others. He nods at the man’s response but furrows his brow.

No name?


Perhaps Harald was the man to ask about translations…

But one thing stuck with Caithas during the chat and after the toast, he addressed Langbard.

“House Traianus…I believe I’ve run into them without knowing it. I fought in a bare knuckle fight across the river…it sounds like the same thing you mentioned, sir. So perhaps…perhaps if I go back for another round, my friends and I may be able to get close to one of the noble gamblers. Or, easier, if there is such a game in a bar around here, I could give that a go. If I last a few rounds, it might be long enough for my friends to make a move and learn what they may. Do you know of a tavern here that hosts?”

With a smile, the half-elf adds, “Of course, if that doesn’t work, the Succubus sounds like a good place to spend some time. There are worse ways to investigate, eh?”
Jules continues to listen, standing and giving a cheer with the others, no reason to give the loyalist guards a reason to confront him. As the last of the information trickles in Jules begins to amend his plan. Not knowing the name of any Black Chamber members would make things more difficult, but he would manage regardless.

“Sir, Ah want to thank you for all of your help, and everything zat you and zes men risked by giving it. But now it is my turn to take what you have given and put it to good use. For ze time being Ah think it would be best for you all to avoid notice and wait. When we are done with ze preparations or if we require any other aid, Ah will contact you.”

After thanking the men, Jules looks to his friends asking, “Are you ready?” before standing and leaving to return to Ariel’s temple.
(OOC: Once Caithas learns if the men know of a brawling tavern location nearby, he’ll head back with Jules and Elana.)
Ariel thinks quickly as Floriana prepares to depart. Any way… must stall them from leaving.

“Uh, If you’d like to stay with your husband, I could go get them for you. I mean, there’s no sense in you traveling all over town by yourself. Plus, you could relax and talk more with each other.” She smiles her most reassuring smile hoping that they allow her this.

((OOC: Bluff check or no?))
Elana stood and followed the others out. Despite sitting out of the discussion, she was very interested in what was being said. Many of the noble names were familiar to her; most she’d never seen in person, but she knew of them and she was curious as to how they would affect the rebellion.

Back outside the air was cold and fresh, a slap in the face compared to the stuffy warmth of the tavern. Elana pulled her cloak about her. “Back to the temple then?”

[OOC: I know I’m not posting much right here, but Elana’s not going to have much impact at this part anyway. Still, definitely enjoying where this is headed!]
(OOC: I don’t know Jeff…if she starts showing off a little as a spellflare, she may get some serious respect from the rebels pretty fast. Or they’ll just burn her at the stake. Either way. )
“Yes, ze temple. Ah want to be somewhere secure before we discuss ze details of ze plan.”

He looks at his wife of only a few days, and though there is no real love between them, he still feels a small pain when he realizes that he could very soon be asking her to put her reputation, her family name, and even her life in danger.
The Finest Tankard (Caithas, Elana and Jules)

As Jules prepares to leave, Langbard grabs his wrist, holding him down to his seat. “Wait. I have trusted you with all this information, but I know nothing of your own motives. I thought that you were only in this to help Malcom, but your actions speak otherwise. Who are you, really, and what do you want? You seem to be on the right side of the conflict, but I don’t buy your story. A priest of an obscure deity, accompanied by a wanted man and his wife, who is seeking access to the Black chamber and knows who Gordianus is? Do you take me for a fool?” The guardsman looks at you threateningly, waiting for your reply, which will determine his actions.

[OOC: If Jules decides to lie, Bluff check, please. Otherwise, diplomacy.]

Temple of Delrodin (Ariel)

[OOC: Ariel-Diplomacy check-success!]

“Really? You would do that for me?” says Floriana. “Please, take the key with you”, she says as she hands it to you. “Make sure you lock after you leave.”

[OOC: Longer post tomorrow. I have taken note of Caithas’ request as well, and I will give a reply.]
Jules is abruptly yanked back into his seat and turns to Langbard. He leans in close so that only Langbard can hear him, the other men seemed decent enough, but any of them could be captured, bought, or made to talk; and the less people who know about their group the better.

“Very well Langbard, Ah suppose you deserve zat much. My name is Jules Aime Amour, excommunicated son of Lord Claude-Bennett Amour, and future ruler of Lineen. But for now, zat man is wanted by ze city guard and ze empire, so for ze time being Ah am Brother Percy. What Ah want is my kingdom, and at ze moment ze Empire’s presence in Andelia stands in ze way of zat. Everything about Gordianus and ze Black Chamber is all part of my plan to crush zat presence. And you trusted me with information zat will take Andelia out of ze grip of ze Empire, so Ah know you are not a fool.”

[OOC: Diplomacy (+10)]
The Finest Tankard (Caithas, Elana and Jules)

Langbard releases his grip, allowing Jules to leave the tavern, if he so desires. “I see. Gods know we do not need any more scheming nobles in the city, but we could use one on our side, for a change. But if you are leaving, I am coming with you. The streets are teeming with patrols, and you look like a man with big plans. I wouldn’t want you to risk capture.”

[OOC: Jules-Diplomacy check-success!]

Further down the table, one of Langbard’s men overhears Caithas’ question. “If you want to enter the tournaments, talk to Apicius at the marketplace of Lower Andelia. He is the appointed recruiter by house Traianus. Don’t tell him I sent you. A word of advice: keep your eyes open and your blades close to you at all times when dealing with him. Apicius is infamous for fucking his fighters over.”

Having found what he came here for, Jules raises from his chair, bids Langbard’s men farewell and exits the tavern. He is followed by Caithas, Elana and Langbard. Together, the party walks towards the temple of Delrodin.

Streets of Andelia (Caithas, Elana and Jules)

Once outside, Langbard tries to find an opportunity to speak to Jules privately. When he does, this is what he tells the young noble: “You mentioned Gordianus in the tavern. I do not know how you know the name, or if you have anything to do with his disappearance. But if you know his whereabouts, maybe we could use this to our advantage. Maxentius, for all his faults, is loyal to his men. He would rush to the aid of Gordianus, if he learned that his associate is in danger. We could use this to set up a trap for him and his men. Even the odds a bit before the fighting gets into full swing. There will be no turning back if Maxentius and his men suddenly disappear, but things are already approaching that point of no return, anyway. Think about it, and let me know if you need help with the implementation.”

As the group reaches the front door of the temple, it finds Ariel outside, apparently ready to leave. Langbard looks at the companions, saying: “You know where to find me. Farewell, and good luck.” before he leaves.

[OOC: Let’s assume that the party meets with Ariel outside the temple. It is very late in the evening. There are patrols going around. Langbard will leave unless instructed otherwise. What do you do?]
Caithas takes in the information gratefully.

“Apicius. Thank you. I shall remember that name.”

Back outside the temple, before Ariel approaches, Caithas watches Langbard speak with Jules privately. He turns to Elana, “Well, my Lady, what do you think of your husband’s chance to get us out of this shitstorm alive? He’s got my vote…but does he have yours?”

When Ariel is close, the half-elf smiles at the cleric. “Sister, how goes our…situation?”

(OOC: If Langbard stays, he’ll need to be introduced to our erstwhile holy friend, but I don’t want to jump the gun; he’s Jules’ buddy, not mine.)
“Ah will take it under consideration, thank you for escorting us back here, but Ah am sure you have work to do and you will need rest. Ah will contact you when Ah have gotten everything in motion.”

When Langbard leaves Jules looks to Ariel, “It is good to see you again, my lady, but Ah would prefer to speak inside, away from unwanted company. Unless you have some important business, in which case Ah can wait for your return.” He turns to Elana and Caithas saying, “Ah have a plan of sorts in ze works and Ah need your opinions on it. As well as ze roles zat you will play in it. Shall we go inside?”
“Lead on, my friend,” Caithas says, following Jules into the temple to find a quiet place to talk.

(After the discussion, Caithas will sleep; he’s beat )

Inside, Caithas says to the gathered friends, “I think I should see this fellow about the tournament, eh? Perhaps tomorrow.”
When everyone is in the temple and, ready Jules explains his plan.

“Alright, from what ah understand ze key to winning zis is going to be through ze nobles. Having a large force will be helpful, but in a straight fight even with ze aid of ze Irregulars we would be crushed by superior numbers and training. Zer are four noble houses zat Ah believe we may be able to convince to aid us.

“Aureus is an old and likely proud house, and ze offer of reclaiming zer past glory may be able to win zem over to us, or zer pride may get in ze way and force us into a position where we have no choice but to make zem obey. Zat is why soon, Ah want you two to find a way to with someone in ze house. Elana, Ah would prefer if you did most of ze talking, with Caithas providing backup if something goes wrong. Get a feel for ze house, what zey believe, what zer ambitions are. If you think zat zey will be unwilling to join, leave peacefully and we will deal with zem later.

“Petronius is a pious house, and Ah would like to see what Ariel knows about zer god, Gorthorm Thord, before doing anything about them, but if zey follow zer faith zan it may be possible to use zat to influence zem.

“Traianus runs all of ze illegal fight rings in ze city, and we may be able to offer zem legality after ze rebellion. Zat offer may be enough to influence zem. But not until we can get in close enough to actual get a meeting with zem, and zat is what Ah need you to do, Caithas. Fight for zem, learn what you can and find a way to get a meeting with ze leaders of zer house.

“Nestorius creates scholars and intellectuals. If any of ze houses could be persuaded by logic it would be zem. Elana, Ah want you to learn what you can about ze Keepers, Caithas, get in contact with your professor from earlier today, find out who we can talk to and get us in ze door with zes people. After zat, we will need to do our best to convince zem to aid us. Ze fact zat zey have little political ambition should help with zat.

“As for ze other two, Livianus and Thoranius, Ah see no way to deal with ze zat doesn’t end in violence. Livianus provides commanders and and tacticians as well as being lead by ze current commander of Legion XI, a Legion currently occupying ze city. Ah believe his capture should mark our final push to take ze city when ze time is right. And Thoranius…Ah will not risk losing ze Svodun people for ze shaky loyalty of a family of slavers. In fact, my instincts are telling me zat putting down House Thoranius could send a powerful message to ze natives and to ze other houses. But zat discussion will need to wait until we are further along in ze plan.

“As for what Ah will be doing, Ah will be working on handling ze Black Chamber and zis note for ze time being. Ah can move more easily through ze city on my own zan with a noticeable group. Tomorrow Ah plan to go and investigate ze location and see if Ah can learn anything about its members.”

Jules becomes silent as he finishes his explanation, waiting to hear what his friends think on the plan.
(OOC: Good plan RC )

Caithas quickly scribbles something on a scrap of parchment and hands it to Elana.

“Harald, the professor; his address, my lady,” the half-elf says. “Your husband’s plan is sound. Harald will help, I am sure of that. While you do that…well, we’ll see if my luck in the ring holds out, eh?”

The ranger turns to Jules.

“I mean it, friend; you have a mind for this. I wish Malcom had met a fairer end…but he was a mere soldier. You, though…this is your bread and butter, sir. I will, first thing in the morning, head to the marketplace and see if I can enter the tournament lists. This…ahhh…Arista? Aristus?…well, whatever his bloody name is, I will enter the lists, do what I can, and see what I can glean as far as loyalties lie. If I come back in one piece, I’ll help support and guard you and the lady where I’m needed.”
Ariel looks torn when Jules ushers her back inside the temple. She listens patiently to his plan and then speaks, “Let me think on that, I promised our ward that I would seek out his children and check in on them. Perhaps one of you might accompany me..” She glances at Caithas absentmindedly, then back to the rest of the group.

(OOC: If no one joins her she will head out for Floriana’s house. If they do we can continue talking. Also religion check to know about that deity Jules mentioned.))
Malcom returns to the boy and whispers to him, “There’s two ways out of this place, either we get in the cart or fight our way out. If we’re lucky, its night and the guards are sleepy or already sleeping. I’ve got something important I need to get back from the guards but I’ll have to worry about getting that some other time. Things of that nature have a way of returning to the rightful owner after all.”

(( Sorry for not posting for a while we had some… issues with our housing that needed to be resolved, basically they shut down our internet because they thought we were downloading illegally when we weren’t ))
To Ariel, Caithas replies, “I must speak with Brother Percy inside, Sister, but if you wait a moment, I will accompany you.”

Assuming Ariel waits, Caithas will try to help her safely to the guard’s house.

(Perception +2, Stealth +7)
Barracks dungeons (Malcom)

The boy nods in agreement, although he is torn between two equally difficult options: “Me pa always said that no good can come from dealing with the dead. But maybe we’ll join them soon, anyway…” Malcom seems just as undecided; he heads for the door that leads to the guards’ room and presses his ear against it. He tries to concentrate hard, but he is unable to hear any sound coming from behind it.

[OOC: Malcom-Perception check-failure.]
[OOC: Glad to have you back. Sorry to control your PC there, but if I hadn’t done that, nothing would happen. Plus it didn’t hurt. So, what does Malcom do?]

Temple of Delrodin (Elana and Jules)

With the half-elves gone, Jules and Elana enter the temple, hoping that their companions will return soon. The priests of the temple have become accustomed to lady Elana’s presence. They have kindly prepared a small room for the party. The humble room lies on the attic. It can be accessed by a ladder and it has a low ceiling. The two nobles climb the ladder and look around the room. It is plain, with a low wooden ceiling that prevents them from standing up. There are four straw mattresses on the floor, all of them next to each other. Numerous holy symbols, belonging to all sorts of deities, have been etched on the wooden walls of the room by previous occupants. Behind a small window, the night sky can be seen. The flowing clouds move quickly across the darkness, at times revealing a multitude of stars and a bright, crescent moon, before inevitably concealing them again.

As Jules and Elana prepare for sleep, they awkwardly realize that they have little choice but to share the small room. They also realize that, in this room, they have a few private moments between them, before the half-elves return.

[OOC: You can share neighboring beds, or you can take more distant ones. In either case, as soon as Caithas and Ariel join, certain party members will unavoidably be closer than others while sleeping. ]

Streets of Lower Andelia (Ariel and Caithas)

The ranger and the cleric do not enter the temple. Instead, they head for Floriana’s house. Caithas takes the lead, expertly guiding his companion through dark alleys. The duo encounters a patrol once, but Caithas and Ariel manage to avoid detection. As soon as they reach Floriana’s house, they enter the building. Ariel quickly finds the children, who have not been sleeping, anxiously awaiting their mother’s return. As Ariel explains the situation, she discovers that the children are particularly obedient. Having seen Caithas earlier in the evening, they do not hesitate to follow the two half-elves to the temple. Caithas instructs the children to be silent, as the four of them return to the temple. The journey back is brief and uneventful; the two party members are relieved to return to the warmth of the temple once again, having avoided any mishaps along the way.

[OOC: Caithas-Stealth check-success!]
[OOC: Ariel-Knowledge (religion) check-success! You can find some info on Thord here, which we can assume that Ariel already knows. I might give you some additional info later.]
(OOC: Assume that Caithas said his plan about Elana and Harald, along with going to the bar fights, before going with Ariel.)

Returning to the temple, the ranger breathed a sigh of relief and realized how tired he was. He was told where his room was, climbed the ladder…and took in the room, where Jules and Elana already were.

And he saw…

(OOC: I will add more, after RC and Kyoh post )
Jules climbs the ladder and looks around, not exactly surprised by the cramped quarters, but still feeling exceptionally awkward about them. For a moment he considers whether it would be more awkward sleeping besides Caithas or his wife. The fact that he thinks sleeping next to his wife, the woman who he will likely be spending most of his life with, as awkward, is enough to spur him into action.

In an unusually serious voice he says, “Tell me, my lady, how do you feel about our marriage?”
Back outside the temple, before Ariel approaches, Caithas watches Langbard speak with Jules privately. He turns to Elana, “Well, my Lady, what do you think of your husband’s chance to get us out of this shitstorm alive? He’s got my vote…but does he have yours?”
She looked from Caithas then to Jules before answering. “Well,” she began slowly. “He’s got a better head on his shoulders than I thought.” That was true. “And he’s surprisingly good at scheming.” Also true. “I think this could end well for us.” False.

“With Jules scheming away,” she continued. “Myself doing whatever, and you to butcher anyone who tries to stop us, we make a formidable force. And of course, we have Ariel to put you back together.” Elana put a playful emphasis on the priestess’ name, watching Caithas out of the corner of her eye.

Once they were in the attic room, Elana took a minute to appreciate the view. The sky had cleared for a moment and the stars were out in beautiful numbers that night. Her thoughts ran back to Grey Hold and the nights she spent sneaking up onto rooftops or the battlements to watch the stars with Lucius or Griff. The thought of them left her longing for home.

“Tell me, my lady, how do you feel about our marriage?”

Her attention returned to Jules and it was only then that she realized how close their quarters were. And how close they were.

“Our marriage?” Elana repeated, buying some time to formulate her thoughts; the direct question caught her off guard.

When she first heard about her arranged marriage, Elana planned to feign happiness and make the best of her life that she would no longer have any control of; that wasn’t so unusual amongst noble marriages where love had little to do with the relationship. After all, what good would her rebellious and stubborn attitude bring her?

Only, Jules didn’t turn out to be like the man she expected to marry. He was young, younger than her even, and handsome too. He was intelligent, though reckless at times. He was courageous when it was needed, though he was no saint, even if he enjoyed impersonating one.

But most surprisingly of all, Jules didn’t try to force himself on her. He had an eye for women, Elana could tell that much, but he was a gentleman to her since she’d met him. Shockingly, he seemed as apathetic to their marriage as she was.

All of this flashed through Elana’s thoughts in that moment. “Well,” she began. “You know I didn’t choose you, and I know you didn’t choose me; I don’t think either one of us would have agreed to this if we had the choice.”

She looked down at their feet, gathering her thoughts, before looking back up at Jules. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t seem like the type to settle down. You know, with one woman.

“You’re driven,” she continued. “And if we’re throwing our family ties to the wind, I don’t see why we should be together; unless I have something that you could use to further your goals?”

Elana wrung her hands as she pondered her next words; was this coming off too harsh? “Even if we stayed together, we hardly know each other. There’s so much I don’t know about you, and there’s a lot -” She recalled the laughter in her head and the burning cat in the alley. “A lot that you don’t know about me.

“But given time,” she continued. “Maybe . . . maybe this could work. I mean, you could have been much, much worse; I was picturing a fat balding man, really. Its just, with all of this,” she said, making a sweeping gesture to include the attic that they were sheltering in to hide from the local guards who would kill or capture them on sight for treason against the Empire.

“With all of this going on,” Elana concluded. “I just don’t think there’s room for us, even if we wanted there to be.”
“Not interrupting, I hope?”

Caithas pops his head up the attic stairway and smiles at the married couple.

“Don’t mind me, m’lord and lady; just going to grab some shuteye. Need my rest for my Lower Andelia debut in the taverns tomorrow, eh? Let’s hope they’ve got more half-orcs for me to beat about the head, like last time.”

The half-elf looks around the room, seeing Elana on one bed and Jules on the other. He pauses.


“Ah. Well…ummm…here, now, let me just snag a pillow here and I’ll…ahhh…just curl up here in the corner,” he says, laying on the hard wood floor. “Feel free to continue; pretend I’m not even here. Goodnight, Jules. Goodnight, my Lady.”
“You’re probably right about most of zat,” he says as he lies down on one of the mattresses. “Zer have been women zat Ah care for more zan others; some zat Ah even considered marrying on certain nights. But you’re right, Ah have never met a woman who Ah can say Ah honestly want to spend ze rest of my life with.”

“Ah also hate ze idea of using you to ‘further my goals.’ Perhaps it is just me being superstitious or ze way my people think, but Ah can’t see myself being with a woman solely to make myself more powerful.”

He pauses for a few seconds, gathering his thoughts before continuing. “Ah had a beautifully romantic gesture zat would have worked perfectly just zer as you said zat zer isn’t room for us. Ah would have grabbed your hands, closed my eyes, and said something like ‘Elana, even amongst all zis chaos and fear, zer is always a hope, no matter how small, for two people to find zemselves in love.’”

He sighs propping himself up on his arms so he can look Elana in the eyes. “Maybe it would work, maybe it would make you laugh and Ah could play off of zat, but right now Ah am just tired. Ah have spent more time lying to people zan Ah have spent being myself, and it is only going to get worse from here. And zer probably isn’t room for us here. Hells, when Malcom finally gets back he and Caithas are going to need to share a Mattress. Ah only asked because Ah wanted to get over feeling awkward about sleeping next to you.”
Elana didn’t laugh at Jules’ hypothetical line, but she did smile; it was just the kind of cheesy sentimentality she could picture sweeping a number of enamored girls off their feet. “Thank you, Jules,” she said, laying down on her own mattress. She was glad to get all of that out in the open, and that Jules took it so well was another big relief.

Caithas barged in then. Elana was going to ask him about Ariel, but the man seemed tired, and so was she. Instead, she tried to get comfortable on the straw mattress and get some sleep.
A strange disconnected loneliness met him as he listened at the door. He wanted his glaive back, and he’d have it. It was his connection to whatever was driving him, and the changes within himself. Its more than a want to have it, it was a need. Even though he had been with Matthias without it, its the only weapon he felt comfortable with. Even if it was more spiritual than anything.

“I’m getting whats mine and then getting the hell out of here. You’re welcome to do what you like, I won’t hold it against you if you’d rather sit in the cell.”

Malcom formulated a plan within his mind, he’d give a tug at the door to try and get a guard to open it, and if there wasn’t any on the other side, or there wasn’t any awake enough to notice it, he’d sneak in and deal with them. If someone answered… waiting behind the door and slamming them between the door and the frame was a solid plan.
After returning with the children Ariel turns to speak to Caithas, but finds that he has already gone. She makes her way back to her quarters and lays down on her bed, trying to process everything that had occurred that day.

She lays in the darkened chamber staring at the ceiling, and sleep remains distant. Standing up she makes her way back out to the main library, where she decides to look up more information on the deity that Jules had mentioned. Sometime during her studies, however, she drifts off to sleep on the book she is reading.
Barracks dungeons (Malcom)

The boy reluctantly follows you, with his improvised spear in hand. You approach the door leading to the guards’ chamber and give it a light push. Light flows in from the chamber to the cells, as you concentrate to hear if there is any activity coming from the room.

[OOC: d100 to determine guard’s status; 0-25 asleep; 25-50 awake but without equipment; 51-75 awake, with weapon; 76-100 awake, armed and armored. Result: 31-awake but unequipped.]

“Who goes there?!” shouts a man from behind the door, as he rushes towards you. You remain behind the door, waiting for just the right moment to implement your plan, while the boy clutches his weapon decisively. There is no turning back now.

[OOC: Let’s resolve this “getting stuck behind the door” plan with opposed Strength checks. Make a Strength check for Malcom and also roll for initiative. I will be tracking rounds now (since time is of the essence) and perhaps I will upload a map in my next post.]

Temple of Delrodin (all except Malcom)

10th of of Frer-mánuðr, 2482

The attic is isolated from the rest of the temple through a small wooden hatch door on the top of the ladder. As a result, nobody tries to wake you up in the morning. Exhausted and sleep-deprived because of last night’s events, you over-sleep and you only manage to wake up several hours after dawn. After making your preparations, you climb down the stairs and start making plans for the day. The priests offer a small breakfast consisting of a cup of tea and a slice of dried-out bread.

[OOC: 1d4 for random PC; result=2; Caithas]

As the rest of the group has breakfast, Caithas decides to check on Gordianus and his family. He enters the room where the wounded man was, only to see that it is completely empty. The soldier, his wife and their children are nowhere to be seen. Distressed by this new development, Caithas asks the priests if they know where the family went. “They decided to go home this morning”, one of the priests replies. “The woman insisted that she could take good care of her husband, and we had no reason to argue. Two of the priests carried the man on a stretcher to his home. They thanked us profusely before they left, and they said that brother Percy is always welcome in their house.”

[OOC: As for Ariel’s Religion check regarding Thord, Ariel knows (through memory or through studying that book) everything that is written in the wiki about this deity, as well as some additional pieces of information: 1. Thord’s cathedral at the temple district of Andelia is the richest, most majestic and biggest of all churches; 2. Thord has many believers amongst the Demerian colonizers living in Andelia; 3. Thord’s dogma has been effectively used by the ruling classes to pacify the masses in Andelia and 4. Silanus Petronius, the high priest of the temple of Thord, is a man of great political influence in Andelia.]
Caithas rushed back to the meager breakfast and whispered quickly, “The soldier…he’s gone. Home. Released.”

The half-elf grunts as he sits down.

“What now? Go ahead with today’s plans or do we improvise a bit thanks to this latest development?”
Jules sighs, uncomfortable and still tired as he gets up. “Wonderful. Yes, for ze time being we move on as planned. Nobody has any information zat would make zem turn against us, and anything zey uncover can be explained away. We saved his life, and zat should buy us some time before we need to deal with zem again.”

Jules gets up and gets dressed, going through his clothes and pulling out an outfit that would make him look like a minor noble or a courtier. He disguises his face to look a few years older, and adds in some fake hairs across his jaw, creating the look of a man with a light beard. When he is finished he asks the others if they feel a need for a disguise, and helps any that request one.

[OOC: Disguise check. The srd says that only minor changes grants a 5 to the check, not sure if you qualify this as minor, if so it is a (16) if not (+11). He is attempting to disguise as a courtier so he can blend in better in the government district.]
[roll0] Strength – 18
[roll1] Initiative – 13

The voice of the guard is slightly startling, but for now it only seems like there is one guard in the room. With a makeshift mace in hand, Malcom forces the door against the guard

[[ What in blazes? Why is it just roll0 and roll1? I know the correct syntax is [ roll = Strength ] 1d20+3 [ /roll ] sin spaces ]]
[[ I made a post in the GD; and added the values here.]]
Caithas nodded at Jules words.

“Well then, I’m off. Elana, you’ve got Harald’s address; good luck. You too, sir. As for me…I’m going to pick a fight.”

With that, Caithas dons his empire cloak and armor, blades sheathed, and heads to the market district to try to find where to sign up for the bouts, trying to avoid guards’ gazes.

(Diplomacy +3 and Stealth +7)
Barracks dungeons (Malcom)

[OOC: Guard rolls initiative (1d20+1=2) and Strength check (1d20+2=13). The boy rolls initiative (1d20=17).]

Malcom carefully times his reaction, closing the door as quickly and strongly as he can only after the guard has stepped through it. The guard tries to push back the door, but his reaction is too slow. He sees Malcom and the boy, realizes that they have just escaped from their cells, and tries to head towards his weapon, a longsword lying on top of a desk in the guardroom. However, he is unable to do so, as he is constrained by the door.

[OOC: Boy attack roll-1d20=12, damage roll 1d6=4. Treat the guard as having the pinned condition.]

Before he has a chance to retreat, the boy thrusts his spear against the guard. To everyone’s surprise, the attack connects, as the spearhead penetrates the guard’s ribcage, injuring him grievously.

Round 1

[OOC: Malcom’s turn.]
Jules (Nobles’ District)

After finalizing his disguise, Jules bids farewell to everyone and starts heading towards the Nobles’ district, where all the major Noble houses are concentrated. As he passes through the streets, commoners and soldiers alike take notice of him, bowing politely and standing aside whenever he crosses their way.

[OOC: Jules-Disguise check-Success!]

As Jules approaches the district, he sees barricades that have been hastily put up on all major streets leading to it. Each barricade is manned by at least two guards, who are restricting access to the district. Jules keenly observes the men, and he is able to distinguish the regalia of the soldiers. He recognizes the emblem of Legion XI decorating their uniforms; not a single soldier from the Andelian guard can be seen near any of the barricades.

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-result kept secret.]

Seeing that sneaking into the district might prove a daunting task, Jules decides to trust his skills in impersonation. As he approaches one of the barricades, he is stopped by a soldier: “Good morning, my lord. Please state your name, purpose of visit and hand in your documents before you proceed.” The soldier makes these demands in a cold, but not necessarily impolite, tone.

[OOC: Jules-Disguise check-Success!]
[OOC: (1) If you want to sneak in, this is also possible. Just say so and I will edit this post. (2) Not sure if you wish to head towards the government district or the Nobles’ district, but they are connected and close by. You can change your mind later and stroll towards the government district, if you manage to enter the Nobles’ district. (3) You get a +16 modifier for the disguise.]

Caithas (Market District)

Caithas, dressed in the uniform of the Andelian guard, but with his chain shirt worn under it, heads for the Marketplace, in search of the man named Apicius. Although he manages to hide his unmistakably characteristic ears under his long hair, he knows that his disguise would not convince anyone willing to examine it closely under daylight. After all, there is probably not a single half-elf soldier in the city. For this reason, Caithas tries to maintain a low profile as he marches towards the Market district.

[OOC: Caithas-Disguise check (with help from Jules)-success!]
[OOC: Intelligence check (to assess the plausibility of the disguise)-Success!]

As soon as he reaches the district, he decides to take a look around the market to see if there is anything he could use to make his disguise more plausible. It does not take a great deal of searching to find what he is looking for-an old helmet, mostly ornamental, but good enough for the half-elf to hide his face. Caithas pays the few copper pieces for the rusty helmet and puts it on, before continuing on his search for Apicius.

[OOC: Perception check (to locate the closed helm)-Success!]

The ranger asks several merchants to direct him to the man, but none of them seems to know who Apicius is. After half an hour of futile search, Caithas is about to give up, when a short, mustached man with a balding head addresses him from behind: “You don’t go looking for Apicius. Apicius finds you. What do you want, guardsman? I ‘ve paid for this month; let me be.” The small man is flanked by two tall, threateningly-looking goons who have weapons on their sides.

[OOC: Sorry to seize control of Caithas there, but donning on a helmet seems to be making things a bit more plausible. The man and his goons still think you are a guard, because of your uniform.]
(OOC: Thanks for the helm, Vlad; no worries.)

Caithas raises his hands at the three goons.

“Hey, hey…boys, you misunderstand. No trouble here. I’m just a guy trying to make a coin or three on the side; you know how the bloody economy is in this city these days. I heard Apicius is the man to see about…bouts? Tournaments? Bare-knuckle entertainment, that sort of thing. Don’t let the uniform fool you; this is strictly off the clock and off the book. What do you say fellas? Need a fresh body for your fights?”
Caithas (Lower Andelia, Marketplace)

The small man looks at Caithas skeptically as he explains his intentions. “Keep your voice down, damn it! If you’re looking for Apicius, you’ve found him. If you ’re looking for a fight, then you might have found one, too, one way or another…” He smiles at his goons as he says these words, before continuing: “…but I am willing to give you a chance to prove yourself. Fist-fighting is all good and fun for the plebs, but the road to fame and wealth lies through armed combat. Now, if you choose the latter, I will not be held responsible if you end up getting maimed, or worse. And I have no desire of getting blamed for a dead guard. You will have to explain that greedy bastard of yours, Maxentius, that I will not be prosecuted if you end up dead. So which one is it gonna be?”

[OOC: Caithas has to choose between bare-knuckle fighting or-potentially lethal-armed combat.]
[OOC: Caithas-Bluff check-result kept secret.]
Jules finds himself trying to suppress a smile as he heads toward the noble district. He might still be in disguise, but this outfit and this place makes him feel more like himself than he has in over a year. The memories of the lower class nodding, bowing, and sometimes swooning takes him back to Lineen if only for a moment. He responds the the guard without missing a beat.

“Of course, of course. Luke, Sir Luke Claire Guerre. Ah am supposed to be meeting my fiance for a business lunch with some of her friends in ze Livianus House. We are supposed to discuss my family funding increased provisions for Legion XI. Ah have my documents right here…” Jules reaches into his bag, feigning searching for the documents and acting surprised when none are found, he reaches into a pocket and becomes more frantic as each pocket he searches fails to reveal his documentation. “Oh hells! Carol is going to have her knife at my stones for zis. Ah can’t believe Ah lost zem again! Please, my friend, ah know zis doesn’t mean much to you, but my Carol is dead set on zis deal being struck and if Ah am not zer…well you know zey say about ze wrath of a woman, it is doubly true when zey are Linees. Is zer anything zat you can do to help me here?”

[OOC: Probably diplomacy (10) or bluff (9).]
“Apicius…well met sir. You are a member of an old and noble house, correct? House Traianus. Like most of the noble names, I imagine you’re taxed to the tips like the rest; the Crown will have her way with us all, eh? But enough of that.”

Caithas pauses, eying the small man.

“I do not wish to die; who does? But nor do I wish to do anything half-way. It’s like this rebellion brewing in the city; either the old rules die and the nobles rise to run the show, or we keep the same old, same old; no half-ways in this life. So if given the choice: Lethal combat it is. Me and my two blades are ready.”

The half-elf tries to gauge the man’s reaction. If he seems interested, he’ll continue talking of rebellion and revolution; if not, he’ll let his blades do the talking and may the gods will it as they will.

(OOC: Fuck it, might as well go for broke; we’re making an epic tale, after all. Death happens. But I swear, if Caithas dies and you start me back at zero XP with a new PC, Vlad, I may never speak to you again. Haha.)
Jules (Nobles’ district)

The soldier waits while Jules attempts to retrieve his documents. His frustration is increasingly evident as Jules keeps searching his pockets and gives an excuse. “You know, I haven’t got all day. Move along. Just make sure to have your documents on your person at all times. I won’t be so generous next time.” Jules realizes that the soldier makes these comments with no little pleasure. He guesses that it is probably not every day that a plain soldier gets a chance to taunt a nobleman.

[OOC: Jules-Bluff check-success! and Wisdom check-success!]

Once he has put a good few yards between himself and the barricade, Jules pauses for a moment to observe his surroundings. Jules takes some time to recall how the district is structured. Although it feels like ages ago, Jules was in fact hosted in the official guesthouses with Elana in this district not more than a few days ago.

The elongated grey government building that houses the city’s bureaus and the Master Rector’s seat lies ahead. According to Greycloak, the Black Chamber should lie within it. The large, two storied building is guarded at all entrances. In general, the military has a strong presence within this part of the city.

On his left side, Jules recalls the pathway leading to the seat of the Senate. This large, circular building is topped by a large dome, which is supported by numerous pillars. Within it lies a small circular amphitheater, the place where the small senate meets on a daily basis and discusses current events.

Further down the road, the government district exit leads to the more prosperous neighborhoods of the city. It is there that the estates of the Noble Houses of Andelia can be found.

Far to his right, Jules can see the road leading to the West gate. Beyond the gate, which is currently locked, the Knight’s bridge leads to Upper Andelia and Jules’ rebel allies.

Caithas (Streets of Andelia and One Last Lager Tavern)

Apicius abruptly interrupts Caithas: “Are you here to talk politics or fight?” When Caithas swiftly changes the subject to the games, Apicius replies: “Now that’s more like it! But the games are not for the faint of heart. No offense, you being a guard and all, but before I sign you up, I will need to see what you can do in the arena. If you are still interested, follow me. Otherwise, get lost and remember: this conversation never happened.”

[OOC: If you decide to play along…]

Apicius leads Caithas to a tavern at the other end of the city. It is a large building with a sign denoting its name above the entrance: “One Last Lager”. Along the way, he asks Caithas his name and for which house or noble he will be fighting for. He explains that different gladiators devote their victories to different Noble Houses, thus increasing the House’s prestige. Not all Noble Houses have fighters in the games, though. He explains that Caithas, being a free man, is allowed to choose any House he wants, or even postpone this choice until later.

Once inside, Caithas observes that the tavern is deserted, save for a few goons who go out of their way to open the doors for Apicius and make sure he is satisfied. Apicius leads Caithas downstairs, where a circular arena dominates the large hall. He points the half-elf to a large table with all sorts of weapons, urging him to leave his swords and pick up a pair of training weapons for the test.


[OOC: If you choose to listen to Apicius, leave your short sword and scimitar on the table and pick up a pair of training swords. They work as normal swords, but they deal subdual damage. Then, you can climb the ladder down into the arena and fight to prove your value! Roll for Initiative if you choose to fight.]
As he passes the guards Jules hopes that Elana will be able to get past them as well if she comes down here. Going back and forth between the guards would become obvious and dangerous, and Jules decides that he either needs to acquire some documentation or find a place inside the district to stay while he is down here.

After examining the district security, Jules heads into the central government building, deciding to observe the routine of the people who work there, and hopefully pinpoint some of the members of the black council.
Jules (close to the-putative-Black Chamber)

Jules follows Greycloak’s instructions, hoping that the manipulative mage did not mislead him. He heads for the northeastern edge of the governmental building. The stroll is short and uneventful. Inspecting the bureaus in this part of the building reveals nothing particularly eye-catching. The Black Chamber, if such a place even exists, most certainly lives up to its reputation of utmost secrecy.

Reasoning that, after all the trouble the party’s been through, a closer look is worth the effort and time; Jules decides to remain near this part of the building. The chilling wind is keeping everyone except for the soldiers indoors, so Jules decides it is best to hide if he is to avoid detection. He hides behind a large, naked shrub, the branches of which have accumulated enough snow to fully conceal a single person within it. Alone in the cold, Jules patiently observes the activity within the area of interest for an hour.

[OOC: Jules-Stealth check-success!]

There are two windows through which Jules hopes to catch a glimpse of the interior. Both are rather small, being narrow and high. One lies on the ground floor and another one is directly above, on the first floor. Jules does manage to see flickering lights behind the windows, but he is unable to discern anything else. Perhaps the glass windows are covered by ice or humidity, or there might be a curtain behind them. A chimney rises through the building’s roof, releasing black smoke and grey ash in the atmosphere. Near the end of the hour, Jules sees a man stepping outside for a smoke. Although he is not wearing any uniform, he does not attract the soldiers’ attention, who seem used to his presence. Jules attempts to discern the man’s features, but he is too far to figure out any details.

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-Results kept secret.]

As soon as the hour passes by, Jules recalls that it will take two more hours for the civil servants’ lunch break. He realizes that a decision must be made: either he stays longer, with the hope of gaining additional information, but also increasing the risk of detection, or he leaves, content with what he has learned thus far.

[OOC: Jules-Intelligence check-Success!]
[OOC: It is now noon (12:00). The lunch break is at 14:00. For every additional hour you spend in the bush, you get to make another perception check, but you also need to succeed on a Stealth check to remain hidden. You can ask to stay for one more hour, and I can make the necessary checks, or you can leave and come back at 14:00. Or you can do whatever else strikes your fancy.]
Caithas follows the shifty Apicius trying to feign off most of his questions.

“Oh, you know, fairly new in the city…free man and don’t know the area that well…who to fight for, who to fight for…”

Caithas stops and says with a smile.

“Perhaps I should fight in the name of that young nobleman who has caused all the trouble lately. Amour, right? I saw his signs posted about; whoever he is, he pulled a fast one on the Empire with that stunt across the river, eh? Never heard of him, but he must be something else…”

At the tavern, Caithas grabs the practice swords, says a prayer to The Bastard, and enters the arena…

Initiative – (1d20+2)3

Jules stays waiting for any other information he can gather from his hiding spot. The little he has already found isn’t enough, and the risk of being found is something his mind is already planning for.

[OOC: Staying hidden for two hours. To see if he can notice anything else.]
Elana clutches the slip of paper in her hands that had Harald’s address scribbled on it. She didn’t know her way around these parts and tried to navigate as well as she could without having to stop for directions; the less interaction with people she had, the less the chances of someone recognizing her were.

Today she magically altered her hair to a dark blond, but she kept her hood up anyway; thankfully the cold weather didn’t make it at all suspicious. She was looking forward to meeting Harald and learning what she could of the nobility here in Andelia. Elana also wanted to pick his brain for details on her own family, if he had any to offer.
Caithas (Basement arena in One Last Lager Tavern)

Caithas leaves his weapons behind, replacing them with a pair of training swords. As he climbs the ladder down into the sand-covered arena, Apicius’ two goons examine the table with the training weapons, unsure of what to chose.

Once Caithas is in the middle of the arena, Apicius addresses him in a confident, unfriendly tone: “I do not know who you are, stranger, but I do not trust you. I’ve never heard of a guardsman wanting to fight in the games, much less one who chooses to pledge his victories to the rebels. Shafat, Akbar: Put this imbecile out of his misery.” As the two ruffians enter the arena, Caithas notices that they have real weapons on their sides. They are both wearing studded leather armor. One of them is carrying an axe, while the other is holding a heavy mace.

[OOC: Axeman initiative=13; Thug with mace initiative=12. Axeman charges; attack 20; damage 7. Thug with mace takes two move actions.]

The axeman charges blindly, screaming along the way. He lowers his axe on Caithas shoulder, breaking his left clavicle and causing massive bleeding. Caithas manages to retain his footing, as he observes the second goon circle the arena, attempting to flank him.

Round 1

Jules (close to the-putative-Black chamber)

Jules remains hidden behind the bush. Luckily, nobody notices the young noble, but the two hours pass agonizingly slowly. Minutes seem like hours, as nothing of interest happens over the first half hour. While waiting for something to happen, Jules recalls that, although this building is symmetrically built, the opposite end of it did not feature a chimney, unlike this part. Jules spends some time trying to understand the significance of this difference, when a rider with a satchel arrives outside of the building. He is wearing the uniform of one of the Legions, a set of chainmail and he wears a sword in a scabbard on his side. Jules finds it difficult to spot any other details. He leaves his mount outside and enters the building. Just ten minutes after that, he returns, climbs on his horse and rides towards the senate.

[OOC: Jules-Stealth checks-Success! For perception checks, results kept secret.]

Over the next hour, Jules notices the same man as before exit the building for a cigarette break. This time, he is able to discern his features: Short, brown hair, clean-shaven chin, sharp cheekbones and a small scar over his eyebrow. The man finishes his cigarette and throws the stub on the snow. Instead of returning inside, he starts walking along the elongated building. Jules contemplates following him or remaining behind the bush as the man moves away.
Caithas uses his action to withdraw, twenty feet back and to the west, away from the thugs, another ten feet.


“Wait! Wait a minute! Fine, I’m no guard! Look at my face: I’m on the bloody posters too! I want to fight, but not die here, like a dog. I cannot match with these play weapons…please. You want honesty? You’ll get it Apicius. Just ask, I beg. Let me fight, with my weapons! I’ll fight for you, your house, Apicius. I’ll fight and die for your family’s glory if need be. Please…”

Jules looks on trying to figure out why there would be a chimney on one side and not the other, but his thoughts turn to other matters when the guard arrives. A messenger. When the first man leaves moments later and begins to walk away, it only confirms Jules thinking. Ze man just received a message, and if he is leaving as soon as he gets it, it means he either has an important matter to deal with or some sort of meeting. Jules glances around, making sure it is safe to leave his hiding spot and begins to trail the man, trying his best to avoid notice.
Caithas (Basement arena in One Last Lager Tavern)

Apicius raises his hand, shouting “Wait!” to his bodyguards. He listens to Caithas pleas without bothering to hide his satisfaction. Being too far from the ranger, he asks one of his goons to verify Caithas’ claims: “Is he telling the truth, Shafat?” The axeman eyes the half-elf cautiously, before he concludes: “I think so. He does seem familiar from somewhere.” Apicius laughs confidently, before sharing his thoughts: “Then you are a bigger fool than I thought. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t deliver your head to the authorities.”

He continues to taunt the ranger, hurling insults in a smug tone: “Was it sheer stupidity that compelled you to come to me, wearing your allegiances on your sleeve? Did you honestly think that we would strike a deal of sorts? Don’t you know? Making the games illegal was the best thing that ever happened to me. I make three times the profit that I used to, with only half the trouble. You come to my arena with your two blades, expecting that they make you twice the warrior, but you fear death as much as the common man. You are dead already; you just don’t know it yet.”

“I have no use for any more half-assed warriors in my tournament. If you think you deserve the honor of participating, you will need to prove your worth.” Apicius takes Caithas’ swords and tosses them into the arena, allowing the half-elf to retrieve them. “I’ll give you one more chance. Akbar! Stand down. Shafat will handle this. Let’s see what you’ve got, corpse!” The axeman raises his weapon once again and begins heading towards the half-elf.

Round 1

[OOC: Please re-roll for initiative. Shafat rolls a 20 and, if he goes first, he will charge again. I’ve made the attack roll (result=10) and the attack fails, so if you go second, you can do as you wish.]

Jules (Government district)

Jules quickly leaves the bush and starts following the man. As he walks across the large building, he observes several officials leaving their offices, all of them heading towards the same direction. Still, the streets are far from crowded. Therefore, following the man is not difficult, although Jules knows that this makes it easier for his target to spot him. Still, Jules does not sense that anything has gone wrong, until he follows the man as he turns into a narrow street close to the seat of the Senate.

[OOC: Jules-Stealth check vs. officer’s Perception-Failure and Perception check vs. Officer’s stealth-Failure. Intelligence check-success.]
Once in the street, Jules tries to re-locate his target, but the man is nowhere to be seen. As he frantically looks around in the empty road, a voice from behind informs him that his presence has been noticed: “Don’t turn around. Who are you? Why are you following me?” Judging from the volume of the voice, Jules estimates that the man cannot be more than 10 feet away from him.

[OOC: Perception check-results kept secret.]

Elana (The Keeper’s headquarters, Lower Andelia)

Elana leaves the comforts of the temple, allowing Ariel to decide how she wants to spend her day on her own. She heads for the address Caithas gave her, which brings her in front of a large, stone building with two large wooden doors. The two doors bear the image of a black tree, which seems to have been burned into the surface of the wood. Above the doors, an inscription reads: “Veritas-Gnaritas.” A door knocker made of black metal is attached to either door. They both depict a young, attractive woman holding several tomes. Elana makes sure of the address, before lifting the large metal ring and knocking on the door.

A small, old man with white hair struggles to open the door, letting lady Savain inside. The reception hall is spacious and it is dominated by a wooden sculpture depicting a large tree with a myriad of branches. Elana explains that she is looking for Harald. She is directed to the second floor, which she reaches by climbing a spiraling staircase.

Several small doors lead to numerous rooms on this floor. Each door bears a lock and a sign signifying the occupant of the room. Elana finds Harald’s room and knocks the door. A reply comes soon thereafter: “Welcome, lady Savain! Please come in! What brings you to my humble abode?”
Caithas picks up his blades. Ahhh…that scimitar.

I’m sorry I let you out of my hand, my friend, the half-elf thinks as he holds the pommel.

Live or die…I’ll go bloody.

Initiative – (1d20+2)19
Caithas, still bleeding, snarling, dodging the charge, turns and wheels his blades both for the overrun remaining foe.

Come on, you Bastard, he thinks as he swings…

Attack – (1d20+6)21

Attack – (1d20+6)24

Damage – (1d6+6)8

Damage – (1d6+3)5

And he smiles when both blades hit home, tearing into flesh.

You shouldn’t have thrown me these blades, the ranger thinks, eyes on his foe…his prey.
Jules stands perfectly still as the man questions him. He was a fool to think that anyone associated with a secret government council wouldn’t be capable of noticing someone following them. But perhaps that skill, that knowledge of subterfuge and paranoia could be used against the man. He doesn’t turn to face his questioner, instead answering him in a clear voice, trying to hide as much of his accent as he can.

“Alright, no lies then. If you could spot me then you probably know enough not to buy the cover story I was given. My name is Pitch, Lionel Pitch. A man hired me to follow you and then say where you had been. That’s it I swear on my mother’s grave.”
No Move

Malcom keeps pressure on the door to keep the guard from arming himself or escaping, hoping that the man will either fall unconscious from his wounds, or the boy will finish it

Round 2
Elana let herself in. “Harald, it’s good to see you again.” She does her best to be friendly. How are you? I love your home! Tell me about the history of this structure, etc. After she gets past the small talk, Elana gets to the matter.

“Actually, I had a few questions about some of the noble houses in Andelia. Particularly, I’m interested in Aureus and Nestorius. What can you tell me about them and their relationship with the Empire?”
Caithas (The Arena)
The fight does not last long. The man clutches his belly as Caithas’ scimitar slices it open, causing his guts to spill over the sand. Stunned, he has little chance to react when the ranger thrusts his smaller sword into his chest, before removing it by pushing against the goon’s body with his foot. The axeman first falls to his knees, before collapsing entirely. He remains on the ground, twitching gruesomely on a pool of blood and innards, until his soul departs.

Apicius does not speak for several minutes. He simply smiles, as his bodyguard lies there dying. Akbar, the man with the mace, stares at Caithas in astonishment. He seems unable to believe how quickly everything happened. When Shafat finally stops moving, Apicius breaks the ominous silence. “May that serve as an example to you, Akbar. Incompetence will not be tolerated in our line of work.” Turning towards Caithas, he continues in a content tone: “Congratulations! You have just made it into the games! Let’s see how well you will do against more seasoned warriors tonight. Akbar, take him to the pens. Make sure that a medic fixes that wound of his.” The good quickly obeys. This time, his demeanor betrays respect; perhaps fear even.

[OOC: Update the kill counter if you want. You can converse with Akbar while he leads you to the gladiatorial pens, where other warriors are preparing for tonight’s tournament.]

Jules (Government district)

[OOC: Jules-Bluff check-auto success; Perception check-success!]

Jules hears the distinct sound of a crossbow being loaded, before he receives an answer: “Drop your weapons to the ground. Then take ten steps forward.”

[OOC: If Jules decides to follow all of the man’s orders…]

The official picks up whatever Jules drops and continues: “Good. You are a smart man. If you know what’s good for you, you will keep walking. Don’t run, and do not look behind you. I will tell you where to turn.” He instructs Jules to walk towards a less frequented area in the district. Jules observes that there is no soldier to be seen around. Once the man is satisfied, he instructs: “Stop. That’s good. Don’t turn around. Answer all my questions truthfully. Who sent you, why, and how much is he paying you?”

[OOC: Jules-Perception check-success!]

Malcom (Barracks dungeons)

[OOC: Malcom Strength check (10) vs. guard strength check (22). Guard wins.]

The guard frantically pushes the door back. Perhaps it is the realization that his death is approaching that grants the soldier strength, for he manages to break free. Malcom is unable to constrain him, as the soldier prepares to retreat into the guardroom. The boy seizes the opportunity to take another stab at the man. This time, the guard manages to move away just in time. The spear stabs at the door, as the soldier prepares to make his escape.

[OOC: Boy’s attack roll 1d20=9. Malcom’s turn. Scene viewer is somehow not working, but the guard is still within reach. If you wish to attack, you will need to spend a move action to draw a weapon (since you were pushing the door earlier).]

Elana (The Keepers’ headquarters)

Harald seems happy that Elana has taken a liking to the building. “You are in the scholars’ rooms now. The entire floor contains thirty small rooms, where the Keepers spend their time studying.” Elana looks around the small room, which only contains a narrow bed and a desk. Several books are piled upon it, in a disorganized manner. “As you see, the accommodation is far from luxurious, but a lavish lifestyle can distract from the search for truth.”

“The ground floor contains the reception hall, which you have seen. The lecture halls are also located there. Some of the lectures are open to everyone. The first floor contains the library. Access to it is restricted to Keepers only, I am afraid. The third floor contains the research facilities. Only a few Keepers can enter these rooms. I am afraid that I do not have that privilege.”

“So you want to know about House Aureus… Ah, the once proud house of Caelianus Aureus, now nothing but a shadow of its former self… The House of Aureus was one of the most powerful Noble Houses in Demeria three hundred years ago. They controlled a good part of the senate and were richer than most other Houses, yet they thirsted for more power. They plotted the downfall of our Emperor-this was back in the days when Demeria’s Emperor was more than just a figurehead. But their conspiracy was uncovered; some say it was betrayed from the start… Half of the House was slaughtered, the rest of them were exiled to Svorinn, after being stripped of their wealth. Over the centuries, the Nobles of the line of Aureus have grown bitter and cynical. They long for the power they once had, but thus far they have been unable to find it.”

“But you asked about the House’s current relationship with the Empire, and I am already babbling about their history. Well, like all Noble Houses, House Aureus supports the Imperials. After all, it was the Demerians who colonized this land and brought civilization to it. The whole continent was but one vast wasteland before…“

“The other Houses publicly acknowledge the House’s rich history. However, it is common knowledge that most consider the line to be a relic of the past. In addition, the taint of treason has not washed away, even after three centuries.”

“House Aureus have only one senator in the Small Senate. I believe Tertinius Aureus is his name. The Lord of the House, Ammonius Aureus, is the father of the senator, although he does not respect his son. Ammonius uses his son as a political puppet, encouraging the enforcement of increasingly demanding taxation over the people. I do not know of the son’s convictions, but if he has any thoughts of his own, he hasn’t found the backbone to stand up to his father yet.”

[OOC: More about House Nestorius tomorrow. Generating lore and following four parallel storylines takes time ]
Jules does as the man says, dropping his hand crossbow and walking where he is directed.

“I don’t know his name, just what he looked like. When I asked why he told me it was an official matter than didn’t concern me. And he gave me two sovereigns up front and promised another three when I reported back, he also said I could keep the clothes.”
Caithas smiles up at Apicius.

“Thank you, sir. As I said…I just needed my swords back, eh?”

He follows Akbar, but stumbling slightly from his wound.

“So…a medic, eh? That’ll be welcome. By the gods, this bloody hurts. If I’d had to finish against the both of you, with those pratice swords…hells, it’d be my guts on the floor in there. But as my father used to say, Fate’s a funny bitch.”

He continues on to see the medic, rest, and prepare for the night’s games.

(OOC: I don’t suppose slaughtering that last bastard was worth, oh, let’s say, 205 XP was it? )
Jules (Government district)

[OOC: Jules-Sense motive check-failure.]

Jules cannot tell whether the man has bought his story or not. The man continues to question him: “So, Pitch, what do you do for a living? What did this man look like, and where did he find you?” As soon as Jules answers the questions, he asks again: “So this leaves only one critical detail unexplained… How did you manage to get past the barricades? Without the necessary documentation, not even nobles are allowed in.”

Caithas (Gladiatorial infirmary and pens)

Akbar is not particularly talkative during the short journey to the infirmary. To Caithas’ comments, he simply states: “Better him than me. Don’t expect to last much around here. Hardly anyone does.” At the infirmary, the ranger is instructed to leave his weapons behind once again. A priest takes over Caithas, pouring salts into the ranger’s wound before casting a spell that closes the cut. Caithas is subsequently ushered to a small cell, where he is expected to wait until the games start, alone.

[OOC: Not enough yet, but I will tell you when to level up. Sorry for the short posts, busy day.]
Jules begins to tremble as he speaks, only needing to half-fake his fear. The questions were becoming more specific, the man trying to poke a hole in Jules’ story.

“For a living, mostly things like this. My particular skill set isn’t exactly valued in any other line of work, so I do this. Follow people, gather information, that sort of thing.

“As for the man, he came to me dressed like a merchant or a common man like myself, well not like myself now, but you know, more simplistic. But I could tell by the way he held himself that he was important, or at least he thought he was important. He was of average build, but a little on the tall side. His hair was black, and his hairline starting to pull back. At least forty or even fifty years of age. And his eyes, they were brown, not exactly anything special, but every time he looked at someone it was as if he was looking down on a shit stain, like even asking for my service was degrading him.

“Not fully sure how he found me, someone must have told him where I was staying that week. Some of the temples have pretty good rooms if you look poor and desperate enough. I was dressed like a beggar, staying with Strom’s people when he found me.”

The last question almost brings a smile to Jules’ lips when the man asks it.

“I pretended to be an absentminded noble in a hurry. I said I lost my documentation, let the guard scold me for a bit, and then they let me through.”
Caithas does what he is told, mostly.

He is quiet, peaceful, and a good patient; but his blades he refuses to leave behind a second time. He’ll sit alone in his cell, like a good little gladiator, waiting to die…but nothing will part him from those blades a second time.

After that last close call, the ranger is taking no more chances.

But as he sits in the cell, he is forced to be honest: He’s excited. For all he wanted to live…this was fun! Now if he could just live long enough to help and get back to Jules and the rest, his near-useless life might actually finally be worth something.
draw weapon and attack
accuracy – (1d20+3)8
damage – (1d6+3)8

Malcom stumbles back from the door and brings the mace out. He swings it towards the man as he tries to flee
Jules (Government district)

[OOC: Jules-Bluff check-auto success (good RP)!]

The man listens to Jules’ story without interrupting him. He makes no comments, making it hard for Jules to figure out if his story has convinced the official. When all explanations are given, the man responds, his voice calm and emotionless: “The way I see it, you have two choices. You can take a bolt in the back. It will be quick, painless and efficient. You won’t need to worry about anything anymore. Just sweet oblivion…” The man pauses, allowing Jules to consider this option, before proceeding: “…or you can take my offer. How much did you say your employer was paying you? Five sovereigns? How would you feel about earning ten times as much? Fifty sovereigns in one day, and you get to keep your life. How does that sound?”

[OOC: Assuming that Jules agrees-I guess not any real choices can be made here .]

“Good. I hope you won’t regret it. Turn around, so that you can see me.” Jules sees the man he had been stalking, crossbow in hand, standing calmly before him. He is young and confident. Callous, cold and crafty, he nonetheless lacks the pride and smugness of most men with power. “I want you to take me to this man, the man that hired you to follow me. Can you do that? But before we go on, how about lunch? I am starving. What do you say? I’m buying.”

Caithas (The Arena-Qualifying match)

Caithas is allowed to keep his blades, as he is pushed into his cell. “Don’t kill yourself! Not before the match, at least!” the guards say mockingly, laughing as they leave.
Time flows slowly in the cell, hours feeling like weeks. Despite his boredom, this is the only chance Caithas is given for more than a week to sit down and think of the recent events. A lot has happened extremely fast, but until now, he hardly had the time to consider the big picture.

Finally, the same guards unlock the ranger’s cell and escort him towards the arena. Caithas puts on his helmet as he is pushed into the fighting pit. A screaming crowd greets him with curses and insults as he enters, which are impossible to make out. On the other side of the arena, three young men stand, confused and undecided. They hold clubs in their hands and they are dressed in rags. They are no soldiers, Caithas realizes, but there are three of them. As the crowd roars its disapproval, Apicius, sitting in the front rows, rises. Everyone goes quiet as he shouts: “Begin!”

[OOC: Roll for Initiative . Boys roll 3, 12 and 17.]

Malcom (Barracks Dungeons)

Malcom’s attack hits the door, as the guard retreats in panic, heading towards the desk. The boy reacts immediately; he runs through the door and hurls his spear towards the soldier. Unfortunately, he misses entirely, as the shortspear hits the door leading to the exit, making a loud noise.

[OOC: Guard takes Withdraw; Boy takes move action and attack (1), which fails entirely. Scene viewer is still not working, so map is attached.]

Elana (The Keepers’ Headquarters)

“So you wish to know about house Nestorius… If you really wish to understand what their house stands for, then I shall have to go into our Order’s history in more detail. I shall try to keep this brief, as I do not wish to bore you, my lady.”

“The Keepers have always been a lose association of scholars, coming together only when necessity dictated so, to exchange knowledge and expertise. When our forefathers arrived in Svorinn, many sought to explore the land, while others just wished for an isolated location to focus on their studies, away from the prying eyes of the nobles or the commoners.”

“Out of those who sought knowledge through exploration, a new breed of scholars arose. Eager to share their knowledge for the benefit of the community, those learned men played an important role in stabilizing the colonies. But the isolationists among us dismissed such endeavors. They set up their libraries and laboratories along the multitude of small islands on the shores of Svorinn. They have decided a long time ago not to meddle in the affairs of men-or so they proclaim.”

“This schism of sorts has produced two factions of diametrically opposing philosophies. The Keepers of the Tree believe that every individual is entitled to an education. They believe that sharing knowledge-every imaginable aspect of knowledge-is not only desirable, but a noble pursuit in its own.”

“On the other hand, most of the Keepers of the Light are recluses, living on their islands for years without any human contact. They believe that knowledge is to be shared with only those that have the capacity to understand it.”

“House Nestorius has long provided scholars for the Keepers of the Light. They are educated and well-respected, yet they choose to refrain from politics. Or so they say. Admittedly, they do not hold any positions of power within neither the Small Senate nor the bureaucracy. Nevertheless, a select few members of this organization are rumored to serve as councilors and advisors to men of influence. Those that speak ill of the organization claim that the Keepers of the Light have formed a secret alliance with the Imperials. No longer able fund their expensive research, they have turned to the Demerian motherland for financial support. Who knows what secrets they are willing to trade for such support?”

“The Keepers of the Tree are also, in principle, sworn to refrain from politics. But our organization is extremely heterogeneous. Our members have strong, often conflicting opinions, as you can imagine for a group that believes that all knowledge should be accessible by all. I have to admit that I do not exclude myself from this. While our leaders have chosen to avoid taking sides in the upcoming conflict, many of our society’s members have different opinions.”

“This temple of knowledge that you are in is shared by both branches of the organization, the Keepers of the Light and the Keepers of the Tree. It is the last place in Svorinn where members of these ideologically opposing factions can meet and discuss. Although the Keepers of the Tree outnumber the Keepers of the Light within the city, it is the latter who are the leaders of the group. This is why access to the library and laboratories is restricted.”
Jules agrees quickly when the man offers him ten times his nonexistent price. But his drive starts to fade when the man demands to be taken to his fake patron. “Sounds like a generous deal, and I’m not in much of a position to bargain.”

At the mention of food Jules nods in agreement, trying to remember the last time he ate a good meal. His stomach suddenly feels an emptiness he had failed to notice until now. “While we eat we should discuss how to handle what you want me to do. I can see a few pitfalls that should be avoided.”
Initiative – (1d20+2)19

(OOC: How far away are these guys, Vlad?)

Gods, they look to be children, and poorly armed ones at that, the ranger thinks. Still, the crowd roars…and those clubs would hurt. Kill, even. He raises his blades…
Elana sat through the explanations patiently. It wasn’t a chore really. She found this sort of thing interesting, like a living history rather than what she would glean from the pages of a book. And Harald had given her some crucial information regarding each house. Armed with this knowledge, Elana was sure that they could come up with something.

“Thank you, Harald,” she said. “That was quite enlightening. I must admit, I don’t get the chance to converse with scholars as often as I should like. It beats reading the stuff from books any day.”

She wasn’t just being flattering either; Elana could spend hours talking, or just listening, to history and philosophy. This interest of hers, normally reserved by old men, cost her many friendships with other noble girls growing up; either they found her weird, or she just couldn’t care less about their self revolving worlds.

“Before I go,” Elana began. “What can you tell me about my parents? Did you ever meet them?” She tried to keep the eagerness from her voice, but she wasn’t sure if she was successful. She did love to hear about the parents she hardly knew. To hear people talk about them, share their memories of them, it helped paint a picture in her mind of what they were like. Who they really were. Not just the warm fragmented bits she had in her own mind.
Jules (Government district)

The man puts away his crossbow, warning Jules: “Don’t try anything funny.” He then takes him to a simple eatery not far from the bureaus of the district. Upon entering, Jules notices that the small dining hall is crowded with officials. Most are sitting in groups of three to four, although Jules observes some sitting alone, as well. The sound of muffled conversation dominates the room. The officials behave in a reserved, civilized manner, much unlike the patrons of a noisy tavern. The man chooses a distant table, from which he can get an overview of the entire hall. While he is waiting for a waiter to take notice of him, he turns to Jules: “So, you mentioned something about pitfalls. I’m all ears.”

Caithas (The Arena)

[OOC: Pyromancers not working still, so I am attaching a map. C=Caithas, B=boys. If you want to speed this up, you can post conditions / actions for subsequent rounds as well.]

Elana (The Keepers’ Headquarters)

“Met them? No.” replies Harald. “But I have read of your father, Lord Keagan Savain. Unfortunately journals or commentaries of his reign are extremely rare. This is quite atypical for a man of his stature, but perhaps this is because he was in power only for a few years… But the Keepers take pride in their extensive collection of textbooks on such matters. We have a small account of his time as Lord of Grey Hold in our library, and I have read the publication. If you want, I can bring you the book, so that you can have a look yourself.”

[OOC: If you want to, Harald will fetch the book, which you can fill in with details as you see fit.]

“The book is not extremely specific, but it describes your father as a Noble in the true sense of the word. Although he was clearly a representative of Imperial authority, he also believed that all people in the colonies should be treated as citizens of the Demerian Republic, and thus be granted equal privileges. Your father might not have been a radical revolutionary, but he was a skilled diplomat. Who knows what he could have achieved, if his reign would not have met such a tragic end…”

[OOC: If you had a different idea for Lord Keagan, I am happy to edit. Having a bit of writer’s block right now .]

Chapter 1-A war of attrition (Part 3)

The road not taken Svorinn