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Persons of Interest
Timeline of events
Clipped Wings (GM Announcement) (01/03/2020)
|In character letter from Selbi inviting individuals to kick off the Clipped Wings storyline.|
|To whom it may concern:
Given the recent efforts of our own Greth Rottgutt, I have chosen to make his establishment the location for a discussion that needs to be held. I will be arriving there around 1pm Elven, and have several announcements to make, after which I will be taking a few questions from those in attendance. I hope to see you all there.
Regards, Mistress Selbi Interim Administrator of Mist Harbor and the Isle of the Four Winds
|OOC Notes and Invitation|
|What: Clipped Wings (AKA QST) - A new Premium-Only storyline based in Mist Harbor, on FWI
When: Beginning on Sunday, January 5th at 1pm EST. The storyline times will be Thursday nights from 8pm-930pm EST and Sundays from 1pm-3pm. Start times are pretty set in stone, ending times are somewhat nebulous, though likely to be within 20 minutes of the listed time, in either direction. The storyline will EITHER end or go on hiatus before Duskruin begins in February (depending on where the story is at that point).
Where: Each iteration of the storyline will begin at Greth's, AKA the Stumbling Pebble II. The story will almost never REMAIN there, but it should be considered the gathering point for each start time.
Who: You! (Provided you're a Premium Subscriber and have an interest in playing along with us.)
How: Show up and play your character! Expect lots of conversation/debate/polarizing subjects. Also, feel free to join us for lively OOC discussion of related matters in the #premium channel of the official Discord.
Originally posted on the official forums by GS4-Quilic on 01/03/2020 at 1:30 PM CST.
Darting out of Greth's (Story Log) (01/05/2020)
Mistress Selbi addressed the group of adventurers gathered at Greth's. With her normal diplomacy, she informed them all that it was time to move forward, and to get past the horrible things that had happened previously. She chastised the group at large, but then said she would be taking suggestions from the Flock (who she terms "the birdbrains"), as they had shown themselves to be united in purpose, and had been instrumental in protecting the Isle as of late. There was general outrage at this.
Socius showed up and the two of them argued over this decision. Greth asked them, politely, to take it outside and they agreed. When they were outside, Selbi was felled by an attacker from the shadows who used an enruned dart. She fell quickly unconscious, and the attacker teleported away before they could be clearly seen. Socius rallied quickly and carried Selbi in to be cared for by Penre (in Greth's backroom). He then said he was going hunting for the attacker, and Greth said that he would inform Socius if there was a change in Selbi's status.
The adventurers examined the dart, which began to act oddly. It began to pulse with a crimson light, then move on its own. It disappeared in a flash of crimson, accompanied by a slight shockwave. The adventurers went back into Greth's to check on Selbi, and the dart reappeared in there, flying at Greth, who dodged it at the last moment. The dart once again pulsed, then vanished. Throughout this whole time, various adventurers got odd sensations, and in some cases visions, all seeming to pertain to the dart.
The adventurers went to the local alchemist, who informed them that the poison that might have been used was actually water-soluble, and suggested that they wash the wound out. They brought (clean) water to Greth, who passed it to Penre, and Selbi awoke soon after. She was very weak, but stated that she wished suggestions from the Flock... and from the Militia... in three days' time. Then she went to bed.
- Adventurers saw varying visions. A list is compiled below on the page of the log.
Adventurers: Akenna, Aleid, Ceciliah, Darcena, Dayzed, Dhairn, Lord Faerinn, Mistress Khobra, Juspera, Lady in Waiting Lynaera, Madalayne, Mellny, Defender of Mist Harbor Naamit, Flockmaster Nehor, Opalina, Relic Hunter Ordim, Raelee, Rinori, High Lord Sarmoya, Steenk, Talinvor, Tatria, Wodsong, Wolfloner, Xanthium, Defender of Mist Harbor Xilona
A Night in with the Pets (Player Vignette) (01/06/2020)
|Originally posted on the forums by DIEHLS on 01/06/2020 at 11:42 AM CST.|
|Faerinn was scribbling in his sketchbook when the kettle started calling to him. He glanced down at his work, the phrase "produced the same nauseating feeling as chronomage travel" and "elven ancestry!? needs outside verification", written and linked to circle labelled THE MESSENGER. Sketches of a slender figure backlit by crimson light and a dart from various angles surround the circle.
He poured himself a cup from the kettle, grabbed a handful of sugar cubes from the saucer, and returned to his divan with the black longcoat draped over it. In his sketchbook were other circles around the names GRETH and SELBI. He took his brush, loaded it with ink, and with brush in one hand and sugar cubes in the other he begans anew.
Plonk goes the sugar cube in its tea bath. A line goes between SELBI and THE MESSENGER.
Plonk! A note is added: "An obligation unfulfilled."
Plonk! A line between GRETH and THE MESSENGER.
Plonk! A series of question marks added between them.
Plonk! A line goes between SELBI and GRETH. A note "~~Common Debt~~? Enemy?
His dog Altahuan came galloping into the living room for that last sugar cube, claimed it, and got a pet on the mane.
A line from The MESSENGER goes to the top to WHO BENEFITS FROM US ALL FIGHTING.
Faerinn guzzled his too sweet tea and headed towards the bed. He removed Kitty from the covers who screamed like a human in protest. He sat cross legged in the middle with canvas over his lap and paints at the ready. He was poised for the additives to his tea to kick and for a hypnotic state to pull more details of THE MESSENGER from his memory.
A deep breath, followed by a countdown blanked his mind. The hands took the tools and went to work on the campus. Somewhere in the house an opossum slept in a chestnut horse's mane.
Dealing with the Devil (Player Vignette) (01/09/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by FUDGEHJ on 01/09/2020 at 02:14 AM CST.|
|Nehor tapped his fingers idly on the wooden desk, eyes narrowed as he read the missive for a third time. Work on the Iyo project was going slowly. The freakish snows had ground construction to a halt and the transportation of supplies had been disrupted, exacerbating the issue even further. Sighing, he placed the corner of it to the candle and tossed it into the wastebin, the paper of the message curling as it slowly burnt to ash.
He stood, pacing the room, running the numbers in his head. The Council would want a report on the progress soon...and the news when it came to the Iyo was not good. Nehor did not worry overmuch, though, as the rest of the news was grand. Mistress Selbi had given them an enormous opening, one that his Flock had been quick to take advantage of. Just this evening, he and Mistress Lynaera had met with the investigator, Mister Faerinn. The evening before, with concerned visitors and residents of Mist Harbor as well as a rather productive one with Mayor Lylia.
Each had gone exactly as planned. The suggestions put forth to the townsfolk did not meet with too much pushback, and the various flock members positioned throughout the crowd took notes on who nodded too vigorously at Akenna's rudeness, or who seemed to be in disagreement too strongly with the propositions given. Their names and faces had been noted...for later. That, and the one Tatria had unwittingly helped them along by bringing up the children. Nehor smiled, smug at his own cleverness. Of course with the lost orphans having been so recent a thing, someone was bound to bring that up or something close to it. He had gambled on it being so. Much easier for the people to swallow their own suggestions, than if it had been him to bring it up.
Walking to the window, he drew back the curtains to look upon the town...torches and lamps flickering against the night. People moved easily through the streets, even at this hour, though they still did not have the easy confidence they had before the unfortunate Nazhor business. There was a general feeling of uneasiness in the air. The threat of the meek had passed, but many were still on edge. Suspicious, scared. Wondering what the next threat would be and if they could weather a new storm.
It was a perfect situation for his plans.
He had spoken briefly with Mayor Lylia, Mistress Xanthium having set up the meeting quickly after hearing of the Police Force proposition he would be presenting to Madam Selbi tomorrow. Some had submitted names for consideration, but he had filed them away alongside the burning scrap of paper that remained in the wastebin. Mistress Lynaera would be the name he brought forward to lead the group and along with the cadre of Faendryl Loyalists that the Mayor had promised him (and whom had proved so adept during the final battle against Nazhor) as a core, they would train up a force that would further the Flocks aims. Further HIS aims.
Faerinn was the last piece to this. His investigative skills would prove quite useful in tracking down the latest issue they had. This...assassin...or messenger? Whomever they were, they were a threat. Something Nehor had not planned for, did not control, was entirely ignorant on. Such a state was anathema to Lord Nehor. Information was life and it was information he lacked. Why did this person attack? Why did they use the method they did? Surely they could not think such a weak poison would succeed...so why attack at all, if lethality was not the goal?
So many questions. So little answers. Faerinn would find them. When he did, as per his newly sealed contract with the Flock, he would bring what he found to Nehor directly. Yes, perhaps he would come up empty handed...but if so, nothing was lost. Lynaera had been skeptical of the idea, but Nehor had held firm in this. The investigator had access to sources that would balk at sharing information with the Flock proper. This way, anything they divulged to him would be learnt by Nehor. Faerinn was an Honest Man and would honor his pact, would tell all he knew.
And even if he decided to betray them and not honor his bargain....
Taking out the copy of a small card he had given to Faerinn as he had left the meeting, Nehor held it to his ear and listened. Quite an interesting device the Council had provided. A Calling Card indeed. Nehor smiled as he closed his eyes, listening, as the sounds of a crowded bar slipped inside his ear and words began to be picked out amidst the tumult:
“Nehor is more skilled at this than I expected, his terms were way too reasonable. He’s got me where he wants me, and I know there is a catch I’m missing.” Nehor smiled, listening long into the night as the candle burnt itself out.
Selbi Spreads Her Wings (01/09/2020)
Selbi asked the players to come to her office, where she felt safer, for a talk about what the Flock had come up with. She utilized SIGNAL for the first time, tipping off the non-Flock who are still members of the Council to her allegiance. She then listened to, and agreed with, everything the Flock proposed, which included a police force of sorts, to protect the Isle from internal threats, and an orphanage/finishing school. Headed up by Lynaera and Talinvor, in sequence. Selbi remarked that she had diverted funds from the Mist Harbor Militia Project in order to fund the Flock's goals. People were mildly annoyed.
Socius showed up and the two of them argued. Selbi let drop that Socius's "sister" was alive, but under an enchantment which stipulated that if Socius were to strike at her, the sister would perish. Socius was taken very much aback by this news, but managed to rally somewhat when Selbi strode away in a huff. He asked the remaining folk to side with him, and stated that he was going to fight to win, not just for the sake of fighting. A number of individuals agreed to stand with him against the Flock, to protect the townsfolk.
The enruned crimson dart appeared suddenly, taking down Naamit and poisoning her. The discharge of a teleporter was heard just after a comment about keeping promises. Water was procured, the wound irrigated, and Naamit recovered quickly. An assassin took a potshot at Socius, and he went rabbiting off into the night after the shooter.
Adventurers: Defender of Mist Harbor Akenna, Aleid, Apsaras, Avaia, Ceciliah, Darcena, Dhairn, Lord Faerinn, Juspera, Mistress Khobra, Lady in Waiting Lynaera, Mellny, Mnar, Mistress Naamit, Flockmaster Nehor, Opalina, Relic Hunter Ordim, High Lord Sarmoya, Steenk, High Lord Talinvor, Tatria, Lord Thrassus, Chatelaine Traiva, Xanthium
Orchestrina (Player Vignette) (01/12/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by RAVENNA on 01/10/2020 at 03:52 PM CST.|
|Xanthium’s breath caught as she worked through the difficult axel turn, barely managing to bring her working leg down in enough time to prevent a fall. Now her rhythm was hopelessly kinked. Still, she finished the routine before completely beating herself up for it, and thus found herself able to get back onto the beat in the final pivot. The difference in effort and grace between now and when she took to the floor after Service was humbling, and she took it personally. She had been a dancer long before she took her vows, and her skill and love for it needed to be maintained.
“You were off-balance from the first ball change.”
For not the first time, Xanthium wondered just how her grandfather always knew where she was. This time, that was the rehearsal hall in the Landing’s bard guild. Not only know she was here, but how the pales did he get in himself?
“But I started with the ball change, Grandfather.”
“So you did.”
The familiar smirk that accompanied the response was going to be etched in her memory deeper than her own name. Xanthium responded silently, giving him a long, searching stare instead, which he again easily countered. He grabbed her still-outstretched hand and hauled her into a spin, forcing her to fall into the fourth position, heels turned out, or be spilled upon the hardwood. She raised her arms up to match her feet, and twirled herself out into a pirouette, letting him be the one to keep up. He laughed, and they coursed across the floor together, letting their soft sounds of amusement and enjoyment be their score. Dyvim Kalal was one of the few elves she knew taller than she, and between their shared height and his centuries of experience, he was one of her favorite people to dance with.
Xanthium breathed in his presence and humor, feeling them untangle the knot of anxiety and longing that was always knitted into her belly. She switched back to her native Faendryl, with a momentary sensation of comfort from that, in not having to constantly think of the correct translation.
They paced across the imaginary corners of the floor, passing the lead back and forth with a few experimental turns. She pleased herself by occasionally outpacing him, their competitiveness and mirth a perfect remedy for her earlier awkwardness. Finally they came to a rest in the center of the hall, and he kissed her hand affectionately. His pale grey eyes creased with the smile, the only lines that ever crossed his face at all. It was a marvel, that face, and the raven-black hair that framed it- so he had been as for nearly two thousand years prior to her birth, and would be this way long after she turned to dust.
"Speaking of meter..." They spoke as they left the hall, walking out to Parsnips Street, where she saw the tail end of Grandfather's caravan making its way toward Moot Hall. He had brought Lady Rashere what he could, from his own plantation and that of his Agrestis allies. Naimorai Kestrel's blight raged on past her demise, this shipment would help, at least for a little while. "...what I wanted to ask you about. Does your foundry still do contract work for the Chronomages?"
He regarded her curiously and nodded, "We are far from being their only provider, but yes, we still produce the brass and gold suitable for their work. Why?"
"I told you about the mystery unfolding in Mist Harbor. It's nearly worthy of one those stories you used to tell me. Shadowy figures and magic weapons..."
"Those were not stories, Xanthium. They were warnings for you to pass on to anyone you might recite them to, to be wary of crossing your kin."
He had a point, as they wandered closer to the Town Square, she had to pick her way around the putrid piles of snow and garbage, while he appeared to glide unhindered, as if the gunk and refuse dared not to cross him, either. It reminded her of the way in which the shadows seemed to part for Socius to come and go during the events of this past Restday, as well as the assassin and their most unusual dart. She told her grandfather of the attempt on Administrator Selbi's life, as it was, and how the dart left an impression of non-conformity, as if it did not quite belong- before it vanished from each appearance.
"I heard the whir of a Chronomage device, when the Messenger- that's what Faerinn calls them- first appeared outside of Greth's bar. But I didn't see it. The dart might well be one of their devices, or at least known to them. It had that sensation, of displacement. I was hoping you might use your contacts to see if anyone would talk to me. Something I could pass on to those who seek out this strange attacker."
Xanthium thought of the faces and personalities she'd been getting to know; Xilona with her kind smile and ready humor, verbose and poetic "Lord High" Nehor, stolid and protective Greth, fierce Darcena. She whispered some detailed observations to her grandfather, telling him of each of them, and finally, what she'd learned about the giantess, little as it was. As she spoke, her recollection settled upon one face in particular, and she decided- if she was fortunate enough to find out anything from the Chronomages, he would be the one she would share it with. At least, to start.
"Xanthium, the Chronomages are notorious for being not just secretive, but veritably unknown outside of their services and their price for them. I am not sure even my status would warrant a meeting, much less useful information. But of course, I will try. Mist Harbor, you said? Once I am done here and meet with your father, I will travel hence. A few days. Best I can do."
He pulled her hand back to his lips for a farewell kiss, and she looped her arms about his neck instead, regretting that most all their visits were so brief. His hand left hers and lighted down upon her face, a familiar gesture that made her miss him already. With that, he turned to go, and the distance between them seemed to swell with the stench of the blight; the noise and clatter of the midday square grew to a cacophonous force. The chill that came with it sparked a memory, and she called back out to him, getting him to turn and meet her gaze.
"I know, you realize. I know I'm the spring lamb, Grandfather."
He stared back at her, and the grief that met her eyes nearly made her fumble. They held their positions, the sky darkening with a falling clouds. Finally, he nodded.
"I will try, Xanthium." His posture became more reserved, though his grey eyes kept the pain of her reference upon their silvered surface. "Go find some company. You will need it, soon."
With that, her grandfather vanished into the convoy, leaving her alone in the square.
<This is an attempt to fulfill Xanthium's "job" from QST this past Sunday, as she agreed to try and find out if the Chronomages have any details about the Messenger or the dart that was used. If you want to find out more, come to QST this Restday/Sunday at 1:00 PM EST! You won't regret it!>
Mellny. No coffee required. (Player Vignette) (01/10/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by JAKAESA on 01/10/2020 at 09:51 PM CST.|
|So many ways people can wake up. A slow drift, gentle, as a feather tumbling from the sky of sleep to the ground of awakening. A clawing from sleep, as if emerging from a buried coffin. Reluctantly, after retreating into dreams to hide from wakefulness, then found and dragged out.
In one minute, in a tiny lofted room, Mellny sleeps. In the next minute, awake! Yesterdays rush into her mind to dance a jig while the possibilities of today madly begin to twirl.
TalkyTalky Man! So. Many. Words. He got a disease, he said. A sickness called lokwacious. She don't know what that be exactly, but she hopes it involves pustules that engorge flaming on his skin, then burst in oozing sickly green goo fountains. Maybe some shaky shaky seizures and he drops, stretched out and jerky, foaming at the mouth while gasping out fragments of fancy words until he turns purple? Maybe his EYEBALLS will burst? She squirms happily, in that second before her eyes open.
Those arrows! That arrow? One? Two? Many? She doesn't know, but thrills to recall. The first piercing the grouchy shrew that be expert about stupid people. Zoomed out of a shadow blurring with blue and THUNKED into that mean-talking biddy. Smelt of death and lemon tarts and maybe a little cinnamon? Oy! Laid her out right good! Mellny emits a tiny OOOH of joy, in that second before her eyes open.
The giantwhiplady! Whatever promises she not be keeping must be all sorts of important for the twitching arrow with squiggles to be whistling after her. But, yeesh, that whip! So mighty fine, that whip, each little bone leaning to caress the next, all flexing and squirming and fitting together to lash smoothly as one. And the mossy dark elf, he says he got a good old whip, but he didn't pull one out or nothing. So he probably all talk. Mellny huffs, disappointed in a possibly only-pretend whip, in that second before her eyes open.
Glorious yelling! And that office? The screechy gnomelady said it were a comfortable place, so maybe she don't know much neither because those benches were awful hard. If the other bloke takes it over, he could buy some cushions. Soft and fluffy. A slew of them folks, like that elf girl and that tall dark elf and that half-elf and that other dark elf? Maybe they already spend too much time sitting on hard things. But cushions might make them holler less? Maybe no cushions. Mellny shifts restlessly and indecisively, in that second before her eyes open.
Oy! The arrow might come back! Or a new arrow? TalkyTalky Man might strangle and and stiffen dead, bound up by fancy words without air! That truefolk with the muffins might bake more? Maybe meet those kids that sleep in the day and see if they know any games awake? More loud words and thunkings and thumpings? Sides to pick? Middles to fill? What would the bloke do with that loud biddy's head? Cliffs and voices and spinning and oy, so much could happen. Did someone say muffins? She be hungry!
Mellny opens brightly blue eyes to another day filled with tantalizing possibilities.
On Death and Taxes (Player Vignette) (01/10/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by ASILE on 01/10/2020 at 11:16 PM CST.|
|Neutrality is never Neutral. By not choosing a side, we cast our lot to the faction that is most powerful.
Sometimes that is not a bad thing, when the powerful faction serves the same interests. But when it comes to Four Winds Isle, this is not the case. The Flock may not yet be more powerful, but their interests are not guaranteed to match Traiva's. That will be a problem if they overpower Socius.
She tosses the brush onto the vanity with a sigh of frustration. Nehor's blathering would too quickly get under her skin anyway, and eventually Ordim's alliterations and crumbs would also make her snap. And... and... She quickly realizes that running down the list has forced her jaw to tense, almost uncomfortably.
She rises and walks to the window to gaze down at the pond below. The water is still at the surface, reflecting the afternoon light, but she knows there is activity below the surface: the darting about of fish and reptiles, the waving about of the aquatic plants, the flow of small currents. But the surface calm gives no indication. Thankfully for Traiva, people are not so skilled as the pond at keeping their surface calm.
That could be a liability for the Defenders.
It is a liability for Socius.
Nehor said the Flock will not harm any who work against them. Socius made it clear that he would not hesitate to act against those who seek to harm the Isle.
Socius, she can trust. Nehor, she cannot.
She turns her head at the sound of her assistant's rap on the doorframe. "Excuse me, I did not want to leave this on your desk, it is for a meeting tomorrow morning." Traiva takes the paper and scans it quickly before nodding a dismissal. The timing may work around some other appointments, but she will surely get a summary if she cannot attend.
She returns to her vanity, gazing at her reflection. Her expression is calm, even...and fully controlled.
There's a point to all this. (Player Vignette) (01/10/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by DIEHLS on 01/10/2020 at 11:31 PM CST.|
|After a time Faerinn found Naamit again in her gallery in Ta'Illistim.
She peered at him through the door in her garden open only a crack, backlit by a flickering of candlelight that did nothing to reveal her features but illuminated a pillar of Faerinn's face - the side with the scars.
"Good night to you Faerinn," Naamit said, "But its late, and I'm in no mood for callers this evening."
"I just wanted to know how you were feeling well-" She shut the door, but he was faster and wedged his foot into the doorjamb. He didn't manage that with her very often. *Maybe it was a side effect of the drug?* he mentally mused. As Naamit continued to push on the door, Faerinn was thankful for whatever combination of strong bones, faulty nerve wiring, and magical slipper enchantments that kept his poker face in place.
"Also to show you these drawings of the dart since it may be fresh on your mind," he said and a grimace slipped out. "To confirm its the same one."
She retreated further into the gallery and left the door open. Faerinn followed behind her. He offered her a two stacks of parchment and a flask of water that just seemed to appear in his hands. She took the parchment.
"The first stack is from Restday, and the second are from yesterday. I drew them from memory less than an hour after their appearances. What do you think about them? What sort of impressions do they give you?"
"The dart from Restday and the one I saw yesterday...." She flipped through the pages between sips of hawthorne tea. "Assuming your memory can be trusted, that is. Your first one's line work is sharp and rigid suggesting looking down from a great height, almost nauseating. The other one you've mixed blue pastel to hint at sadness? Why bother?"
"I wanted people to feel that same thing when they looked at them that I felt."
"Well, they're the same once you stop trying to personify them."
"Makes me wish I knew a thing about runes, " Faerinn added. "Darcena mentioned they were familiar to something of Socius's, but I have no clue what she's talking about. What runes are associated with Socius?"
Naamit stared silently into her tea for a moment before returning Faerinn's sketches then searching the cubicles of parchment lining the wall. She came back shortly with rolled vellum in hand. Faerinn unfurled it and examined the sketch.
"Is this knife what I think it is?" he asked.
"One of Socius's before you started getting involved with Mist Harbor. He lent one to me once and it stuck around for about a week before it vanished."
"I didn't know those knives existed away from him much less returned," Faerinn glanced back and forth between the runes on both. "What color were these?"
Faerinn rushed straight to his The Messenger Vision Board when he got home. Ok, well, first Faerinn feed Kitty, or she would just get into Rohese’s trash again. But then the vision board. Well, right after taking Altahuan for walkies, of course, because Faerinn did not want to clean that up again. Then this time, for sure, he attended to his vision board like he did every night before bed. He pruned and attended to it like a shrubbery until now it had blossomed to such lengths that it had spilled over with new facts and links from the original vellum onto to a small chalkboard held by a lobster statue.
On the other side of the statue was an oil painting of a silhouette cast in crimson shadows just glowering at him in its easel. Faerinn looked closer at the detail his subconscious finally gifted him - the ears. He glanced between the outline of the figure’s ears in the silhouette then back at his own reflected in the vanity mirror. There was a slight point to the silhouette’s ears, implying some sort of Elven blood, perhaps? Not enough of a point to assume full Elven heritage anyway.
Faerinn took up his brush and ink. He drew a line from “Socius > Knives” to "The Messenger > Dart", and labelled the line "Returner, glowing red runes". With thick blotches of ink, Faerinn marks out "The Messenger > Has Access to Chronomage Magic and Tools" and replaced it with an identical entry from the Socius box "Reality Bending Powers Resulting from Paternal Heritage". He then erases "The Messenger" altogether from the chalkboard and in its place he writes:
THE HALF SISTER
The Dawn (Player Vignette) (01/11/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by SMITHS89 on 01/11/2020 at 05:40 AM CST.|
|Akenna had just arisen before dawn. Sleepily, she opened the small bronze stove in the corner, softly murmuring an incantation and setting the insides of the small interior of its belly ablaze before latching its grate shut. She uttered another phrase to fill the kettle atop it with water. The fox on the bed shot his head up for a moment at her stirring but had already settled back down, closed his eyes, and drifted back to sleep.
Another Dawn(Player Vignette) (01/11/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by CHIVERST on 01/11/2020 at 08:01 AM CST.|
|Confused? No, that wasn’t the right word. Rohese was trying to find the term to describe how she was feeling. Unsettled? Yes, but there was more to it than that.
Her nights had been restless recently; she had spent most of them tossing and turning with her mind racing through a jumble of random thoughts. Her days weren’t much better; so many silly things irritated her lately and she had often found herself just staring out of the window. Like now!
The tea in her cup had gone cold. With a frustrated sigh, she refreshed it and resumed her seat at the desk. She had woken early with the dark veil of night still drawn across the sky. Her first thoughts had been to write a rather sternly worded letter to Selbi regarding the possible misappropriation of funds and she had become distracted ... again.
In an attempt to try and isolate the issue around her distraction, she abandoned the letter and, instead, began to scribble down notes about all the aspects of her life that might be giving her cause for concern. Her quill slowed and her gaze drifted towards the window again. Glints of silver and gold danced across her vision as the early morning sunlight glanced off the Manse windows, mesmerising her.
Realizing that she had caught herself daydreaming again, she put her head in her hands and breathed another heavy sigh. Pull yourself together! At least she hadn’t thrown her teacup at the wall in frustration ... yet.
Glancing back down at the sheet of parchment, she saw various names clearly jotted amid the doodles. Without thinking, she dipped the quill back into the ink and began to connect the names in one unbroken movement. Once completed, she was amazed to see a perfect pentagram laid out before her.
Lumnis took pride of place at the spirit point or apex. Beneath, to the left and right, were her grandmother taking the position of air and Sighisoara notably aligned to water. Below those, again to the left and right, were Socius denoted by earth and Aendir by fire. Seeing the most significant individuals in her life represented as such suddenly made so much sense.
Resting her quill aside, Rohese pondered the symbolism and felt a weight lift from her mind. Finding herself in the center of this arrangement – of the magical circle - it somehow felt right.
Below them all, however, was another that didn't fit. Written in boldly emphasized black ink and oddly capitalised was the name, Nehor. Picking up her quill again, she scratched through it with several strokes in an attempt to remove him from her thoughts.
It hadn’t worked.
In the Blue Hour (Player Vignette) (01/11/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by SORUS on 01/11/2020 at 12:59 PM CST.|
|Her hand was broken.
She regarded at it curiously, head cocked to the side and black eyes narrowed, wondering when that had happened. She let the wingless she held drop to the ground, an orc or troll or something--it didn't really matter, it was an enemy and that's all the recognition it merited--and not for the first time wished she still remembered what pain felt like. But she didn't feel pain anymore, nor fear, as such things weren't useful to her kind before the portal. Now it just marked her as broken.
The bones in her hand ground and slide between the surface of her skin, knitting themselves back together as she gathered what she needed to set the camp ablaze. She had been at this for hours, losing herself in the jungle, moving from one set of enemies to the next, considering her next move.
There were other enemies, but these did not dwell in the jungles of the island. She could not do as she did here for not all wingless in Mist Harbor were enemies, of this she was reasonably certain. Some might even be allies, wingless as opposed to the corruption she sees taking root as she was. She would have to consult with Traiva to determine which was which.
The camp burned around her, and she allowed herself a small smile of satisfaction, hefting the brick one of the enemy had been carrying. This she would deliver to another as the first warning.
A Morning After Dawn (Player Vignette) (01/11/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by INSPADES on 01/11/2020 at 03:39 PM CST.|
|The sun was already up, the annoying brightness waking him for the third time already this morning. He yawned and stretched, his muscles thanking him as he turned to thump his feet to the floor. A sleepy figure shifted next to him, pulling the blankets back over her head. He turned briefly, his lips quirked into a wry grin. Standing up with his eyes half closed, he swaggered over to a small room adjoined to his bedroom with a gait that was anything but straight. Closing the privacy curtain behind him he gazed out one of several small windows that were open. Despite the glaring light he was afforded a tranquil view as thoughts drifted to the previous night’s pleasantries.
The serenity of the moment was lost as the sound of a tea kettle whistled next door - his neighbor. Groaning, his eyes closed shut and rolled in his head as he began to relieve himself. The force of the stream hit the back the chamber pot with the urgency that only a late night of drinking could summon. The tea kettle’s insistent cry continued as he shifted, sustaining his pent up stream. Dismissing the irritation of the kettle, a wave of relief washed over him as he opened his eyes and his wry grin returned. Looking down he seemed impressed with himself for the persistence of his stream. All good things coming to an end, and with both hands he put himself away.
Washing and drying his hands at a nearby washbasin to complete the morning ritual, he returned to his bedroom. Glancing over at the feminine curve of the sheets as they clung to his bed’s occupant, he considered returning. Being already awake and fighting off the urge, he drifts over to a large desk laden with papers: Mostly half written song lyrics, epic tales in the works, and the occasion purchase for the Chalice. Slumping into the chair he pours himself a glass of blood wine and begins sifting among the papers. Retrieving a small notebook, and leafing through the pages he noted several events, meetings within the Elven court, and even the occasional gig. Stopping at today's date he leans back in the chair contemplating the bold word written in red ink.
His lips pursed to a thin line, and he nodded to himself. "So it shall be done," he whispered to himself, as it was indeed time to get on with it. As soft murmur coming from his bed's occupant enticed him, calling him back. Musing to himself, “surely there is time for a quick dalliance before business” as he strides back to his bed. Collapsing upon it, the figure beside him stirred seductively, rolled toward him and snuggled against his bare chest.
To the Defenders, Don't Open Until Feastday (Player Vignette) (01/11/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by DIEHLS on 01/11/2020 at 10:05 PM CST.|
|If you are reading this I have likely been detained and can't make it to the Defenders closed meeting. I'm intending to filed our complaints with the magistrate along with signed witness testimony first thing in the morning. Keep in mind I don't think this will do anything about our current situation, but it will tell us just how much local government has transitioned into being outright Flock controlled. Its not good, I can tell that. I went to the local Barrister's Guild for help since I'm not part of the local court system here, but the building's empty. A feathered mask laid at the door.
Oh, and by detained, I mean literally detained, not just errands were taking too long by the way.
However, don't worry or stop this meeting to come find me. I'll be back in time for the open meeting. I have experience with this sort of thing, and I'll go over it more later. Not only are they holding Socius's only family hostage, but the entire town now. We can't make this an open conflict yet. However, we don't have to just sit around and let them get anything done. We have a moral imperative to obstruct them whenever possible.
- Carry milk and water, these could counteract many of the common chemical irritants townsfolk and yourselves may encounter from anti riot measures. - Just because you can't touch the Flock and Selbi, doesn't mean you can't touch their stuff. Wreck it all. - Bards, what we do best is disrupt. Walking sanctuaries and anti-magic zones. Nothing is getting done there. Similar spells from other spheres will of course help. - Don't lift a finger to help even when you are being arrested, make them work for it. - I would usually advise having a pre-paid courier ready to contact the Guild of Barristers, but that's out. However, congratluations, I'm representing you all now.
Now we’ve gotten through all that. Aside from general civil disobedience, we need to find this lady who’s doing the attacks and secure Socius’ sister. Well I have good news for you that must not leave this room: these are not disparate tasks. You find one, you find the other.
Faerinn Greatsinger, ESQ
What Nehor Heard (Player Vignette) (01/11/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by DIEHLS on 01/11/2020 at 10:19 PM CST.|
|At the start time for the closed Defenders meeting, Nehor put his calling card to his ear like a seashell, but instead of hearing the sea, Nehor heard Faerinn’s voice rattling off a list of crimes in alphabetical order that Nehor whose recitation he came into halfway.
Another voice Nehor doesn’t recognize cuts in. “I'm not even going to be humoring this. We are redoing our whole...*justice system* this weekend. I don't have time to deal with your slander against our leaders-"
Papers rustle as the clerk returns the forms.
"When its written its libel, but in this case corroborated by a dozen eye witnesses. Look at this letterhead these are official prosecution via citizen forms."
Papers rustle again as Faerinn pushes them back across the desk.
"Please just leave. I don't want to have to talk to the guards again today. "
"Sure, just file these."
Rustle, rustle, as the tug of war continues.
The warmth usually in Faerinn's voice drained out. "I'm not leaving this office until you file this paperwork."
A second voice broke in, "We need you to come along with us, Sir."
A third voice follows, "We don't have to be polite to this mutt!"
"Take your hand off me or I'm keeping it," Faerinn said.
Then there are sounds of scuffling, clothes rustling, a brief grind of metal on metal, and screaming.
A fourth voice comes in that Nehor does not recognize, "That's an officer of the law you're manhandling!" The fourth speaker tries to add admonishment, but is cut off by his brother in arm‘s incoherent screaming.
“Oh, beans, oh, beans, look at Juice’s arm, the way it’s twitching and a thrashing - it’s gonna explode!,” said Guard number 1,” The half-elf's putting a sorcery in his bone! We gotta stand down.”
“Oh, please, oh please Mr. Half-Elf,” ‘Juice’ bellowed. “Don’t disrupt my prize winning wrasslin’ arm! I didn’t mean it! I’m just a product of society and-“
“Oh, it’s just an arm hold,” Faerinn purred the warmth returning to his voice. There’s a sound of paper rustling as Faerinn extracted something from his pocket. “Grit your teeth and read the name on this card, please.”
An awkward moment of silence followed for far too long. “Oh no, can you not read?”
“I can,” Juice countered,”But I’m under a lot of pressure here and you’re putting me on the spot!”
The sound of a pop and a sigh as Faerinn cracks his own neck.
“Ok, y’all! This card says I am here under official Flock business, and your are to render all the assistance you can for my investigation. Now can y’all do that? Do I gotta call the Big Bird himself down to explain this to you?”
“Anything but that!” Beans pleaded. “That would be our whole lunch break!”
“You better do what he says and file those forms, Clerkus,” Trav added.
“That’s not my name- Fine where do I file these under?” Clerkus responded.
“S for Selbi, or B for Birdbrains,” Faerinn suggested.
“Is there anything else I can help you with today, Sir.”
“Yes, give me your coffee mug. “
“Why would you need that?”
“Don’t question the Flockmaster’s business!,” Faerinn shouts and Juice yelps in pain. “I’m requisitioning it for my investigation.”
“And fill it with all the quills you have on hand.”
The melodic pinging of metal against ceramic sings as the mug is filled.
The sounds of booted feet scuffing carpet and the clanking of chainmail is heard as Faerinn throws Juice into the other guards tumbling them over.
"You might want to ice that arm. Your buddy has a lot of compression on his ulnar nerve, for some reason, but his arm will return to normal soon." The sound of wood creaking is heard as Faerinn opened the door. "But if not, maybe the Flockmaster will reward your faith with your own magic arm."
Hearts and Minds (Player Vignette) (01/12/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by FUDGEHJ on 01/12/2020 at 02:26 AM CST.|
|((OOC note: This is a narrative log of a meeting that occurred saturday evening, posted with permission of all involved. Dialogue edited for clarity and brevity, but I tried to keep the meaning clear. This is considered OOC information. I hope you enjoy it and it adds to your experience))
The paneled ebonwood door opened smoothly, and two women, both very different yet with equally stern expressions, entered the room. Lord Nehor stood, adjusting himself smoothly before offering both a bow.
"My thanks for bringing her here." Nehor drawled, all gratitude and smiles.
The elf curled her lips upward, ever so slightly, a twinkle of amusement in her eyes that belies the deadly grace with which she carried herself. In simple words, she replied "You are welcome." Tatria watched the exchange with a bemused expression. Gesturing for both women to sit, he takes one himself and begins to explain why he asked her here. Nehor addressed the girl in polite tones, his volume and cadence perfected over years of stagecraft. "Tatria was it? I was told that it might be in both our interests if we has a conversation."
Nehor smiled thinly, adjusting the cuffs on his sleeves as he regarded her. "Fat owl been talking again?" was the short reply, tone free of the amusement implied by the words Shaking his head simply, Nehor explained to her to the purpose of the visit. How she had been the only one to speak up for the children at the community meeting, and she alone had expressed concern for their welfare. Nehor went on to claim how this gesture, this show of genuine care, had touched his heart.
The lass was skeptical at first. Almost angry, confrontational. She brought up several rumors she had heard.
Bluntly, she spilled forth the first: "Say flock burns children. Defenders say they not allow Flock to take children."
Sorrowfully, putting all the practice and effort he can muster into his body language as well as his words, Nehor carefully explains how that such things are not true. How it was Nazhor that was responsible, ultimately, how the Flock had been instrumental in striking him down. How Socius, the butcher, had failed his people and the children both and thus no longer was worthy of the responsibility of caring for the Isle.
Throughout the conversation, Lynaera watched, her keen elven eyes always moving...ensuring the doors and windows were secure and free of watching eyes or listening ears. She chimed in when appropriate, backing up Lord Nehor's words, adding to the believability of the performance.
Slowly but surely, as the conversation went on, Tatria turned from argumentative to curious. From skeptical to accepting. Finally, when Nehor noticed her nodding along with his words, his claims that Greth's was no appropriate place for children, that they needed a safe space. Not barracks, but a place just for them. Education and comfort and, above all else, safety. When Nehor saw that the lass nodded...not just with politeness (this one had no sense of manners, and lacked all guile or pretense) but with conviction...he broached what he had intended from the start.
Carefully stressing his words, Nehor continued: "It is why Mistress Selbi has placed us in charge. We wish to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again. That no children burn because the leaders would not do what they need to protect children."
Tatria frowned, listening.
Nehor soothingly whispered "Greth means well but his place is...unsuitable." Lynaera quietly added, "And Greth can only help so many at a time."
Tatria piped up in agreement: "No place for kids, water is bad."
Speaking calmly to Tatria, Nehor continued, "It really is simple. The Flock has a safe place being made ready. It should open tomorrow, in the fact. We need volunteers to help guide the children and ensure their safety."
Lynaera and Nehor glanced at one another. "We would like to offer you a position. We need someone who genuinley cares for children to help see to their comfort and well being. Would you aid us? Would you help us bring the kids to safety?"
Tatria looked between the pair, a thoughtful expression on her stern features. Slowly and carefully, she replied: "Will make sure kids stay safe. You will take them if I say yes or no so I say yes."
Nehor smiled, exuding warmth and approval. They stood, exchanged a few more words between them. The Flock would provide her the resources she needed. She would be allowed to watch over the children under the care of the Orphanage and its staff. All she had to do, when the time was right, was to sneak the children out of Greth's.
Tatria left, a look of determination on her features. As the door closed, Lynaera and Nehor studied each other.
"Do you think she'll succeed?" Lynaera asked, her tone full of doubt.
"With the proper support. I shall make arrangements." Nehor confidently replied. He turned to the papers at his desk, studying them as he thought. After a moment, he added "And if she fails, we still have taken a tool from the Rebels. Such things are important, to deny the enemy resources. It will also be good optics. We will be seen trying to help someone who cares for the children shelter them. If the Butcher and his ilk try to stop us? Well. They are seen preventing children from reaching safety."
Nehor leaned forward in his chair, a grim expression on his face. "This is a conflict that will be won, not with force of arms, but with winning of hearts and minds. We must use a firm hand at times, to be sure, but it is these little things that will make the difference."
Lynaera nodded, still doubtful. Both sat, talking well into the night of what the future may hold.
Somewhere, in the distance, thunder rumbled.
A storm was coming.
On Death and Taxes (Player Vignette) (01/12/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by NAAMIT on 01/12/2020 at 08:03 AM CST.|
|Restday dawns across the Isle of Four Winds, but there is no whisper of quietude in Gardenia Commons. Not on this morning. Three giantmen stand in the plaza. talking in voices that are hardly hushed. "You know what you must do. Use an assuring, but insistent tone. Ensure they understand the threat and the plan." The two men nod and the three split up, moving to various stores on the main thoroughfare to spread their message of resistance.
The woman makes a bee-line toward the Western Harbor.
An unusually short giantwoman enters the quaint tea shop with a brisk air. She stops to haggle with the cafe owner, Misty a moment over a tin of the rarest loose-leaf, as an uncharacteristically pleasant smile tones her every word. The conversation continues in hushed murmurs before the two nod in agreement. "No taxes." The giantwoman extends Misty a handshake and the woman clasps it enthusiastically. "Thank you, I understand" she murmurs.
"I am here for you. The Defenders of Mist Harbor are here for you, and we will defend you and yours, Misty. You and your business are important to the Isle," says the giantwoman with a firm nod. "Besides, whatever would we do without your tea?" The dark haired woman nods approvingly to the merchant and turns heel to leave, trotting briskly off to another store.
Conspiratorial tones continue with the next merchant. "Taxation without representation!" the man exclaims. "Close. This is resistance in action. Do not pay your taxes until Selbi and the Flock are put down. Their regime uses your funds for dark purposes and oppression. Do not aid them and do not forget the assault they laid on this town. It will never end with them in power." Eyes wide, the dealer nods with clear understanding.
The unusually short giantwoman meets with two large, burly giantmen in the street. One yes. One no. How curious. "Is it fear, resignation, ignorance or complicit acceptance? Either way, the message must be heard," she says to the two tall men. She directs one toward the Western Harbor and the other to the East, while she strides off to the pawnshop.
'Well good morning, Naamit! What do you have for me today!" exclaims the pawnshop keeper. "Good morning, friend. We need to talk," She says. The two carry on a brief conversation in the art of idle maundering before Naamit puts an end to the niceties. "Cendadric, you are paying taxes to help an illegitimate establishment. Stop. Simply resist. The flock mean you and everyone else here grave harm. I will provide you with Issimir guards, should they try to extort you further."
Cendadric, ever modest, gives a firm nod of agreement. "I will do this, Naamit. There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not believe. For only two things are for certain to drive a man to ruin: Death and Taxes, and life is too short to live under tyranny anymore. Not after what happened with Nazhor. I will stop paying taxes as they aid the Flock now. I will comply with the Defender's instructions."
"That's right, friend," she says. "Thank you for your cooperation. We stand by you, just as you stand by the citizens and the Defenders of Mist Harbor."
Children Forcibly Removed from Greth's Custody (Story Log) (01/12/2020)
Greth began the afternoon looking rather beat up (arm in a sling, and shiner under one eye), and in a rather surly mood. When everyone had gathered, he revealed that someone had barged in during the early morning hours, roughed him up, and severely injured Penre, en route to making off with the children that Greth had been harboring. He revealed that the interlopers were disguising their appearance, appearing to be friends of Greth's, but he revealed that each of them were wearing what was eventually determined to be a lily. He also disclosed that he had killed one of them, and that while they were talking amongst each other they used a language he had never heard before.
People were mildly annoyed at this revelation, and there was some calm discussion amongst the gathered parties. After some time, Selbi showed up and calmed everyone down with her levelheaded, logical explanations and assurances. Which is to say she was horribly biased toward the Flock and everyone was even more incensed when she announced that there would be new Government Posts established in the coming days, then flounced out the door.
The enruned dart made an appearance, burrowing through Nehor's neck. Before it could disappear, Socius slipped out of a shadow and grabbed it. He assured everyone that he had killed the remaining four kidnappers, in rather extreme fashion. He said it was justice, and then also said that none of them knew where the children had gone (else they'd have definitely said so). He said the dart was a Family artifact, and that his (adopted) sister must be the one using it. He said she died when they were 8 years old, and she had been an orphan that his father adopted, and they had been raised as brother and sister. Socius tasked the Defenders with finding where the children were being held, and they agreed. Socius said that he would do his best to track down his sister.
Adventurers: Defender of Mist Harbor Akenna, Aleid, Darcena, Dhairn, Lord Faerinn, Juspera, Mistress Khobra, Lady Kioya, Lady in Waiting Lynaera, Mellny, Defender of Mist Harbor Naamit, Flockmaster Nehor, Opalina, Relic Hunter Ordim, Magister Raelee, Defender of Mist Harbor Rohese, Sreka, Steenk, High Lord Talinvor, Tatria, Chatelaine Traiva, Xanthium
The Arrival of Children (Player Vignette) (01/12/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by INSPADES on 01/12/2020 at 07:19 PM CST.|
|The last few days had been busier than usual, coordinating on behalf of the Flock the necessary supplies to run this boarding school. It rather jumped being a simple orphanage, once education was required. He admitted he was probably the best qualified, and despite initial grousing about dealing with whining children - he acquiesced. After all, he was expected to contribute - and he was an expert. He’d lost track of how many Dhe’nar students he’d had over the years, and if anyone could deal with discipline, it was him.
His orders for food from the cafes and diners were off schedule, but the owners were happy for the extra business he brought regularly and the coin he brought. He paid them extra for their discretion, having the goods shipped to his shop and transported from there. The staff at Luna’s Rest were particularly pleased to see him, as he put forth his regular purchase of bloodwine from the backroom by the case. He was pleased that his arrangement with the owner was finally able to import one of his favorite labels and he always made sure he did not let that convenience go to waste.
He’d been given specific instructions on the delivery of the children. He had to wait. Which he did, to his irritation. He paced back and forth wondering what the Flock had done to finally convince Greth and Penre to relinquish them. Despite every single reason to remind them they were not safe - they were both stubborn in their desire to help.
Talinvor shut his eyes, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his fingers. A wagon had arrived with more than a handful of children and several brutish looking individuals. It wasn’t yet dawn, and looking up at the sky for a moment - seemed like it was still a few hours away. He stifled a yawn, and masked his irritation of having to deal with this at such an early hour.
Striding up to the contingent, he could see the children were afraid - and he flicked his grey eyes at the largest of the men. “How incompetent,” he glowered. “By the looks of it, you dragged them here.” Dismissing them, he knew immediately he would need to fix this. His eyes met on the spindly giantkin girl he remembered from before. The one that scooped up Faerinn’s socks and not candy. Smart girl.
Removing his hood, he smiled in the most charming way he could manage - which as a bard is quite good. He approached the girl and offered his hand. “I must apologize on behalf of these buffoons,” he crooned. “You should have been left to make you own choice, though since you are here, I encourage you to at least see what I have to offer - clean water, comfortable beds, new clothes and the best food to be found in all of Mist Harbor,” he added. “There was concern for your welfare, and you were indeed wise to not trust Greth.”
The girl clenched the hand of her sister for reassurance, but nodded. Talinvor grinned again, his words and reassurances putting them under his charm. He gestured toward the building with a grandiose sweep of his arm. As the children started to head toward the door, Talinvor bared his teeth and growled at the men as soon as the children were out of earshot. “You almost made my job harder,” he seethed but then caught himself. He began to hum between his words, “You should forget this place, what you did here tonight. Go back to your homes.” One after the other began to blink, but he continued his charm and humming as they each turned back the way they came until he could no longer see them. Turning, he jogged back to the children who were milling about at the door, and he captured the handle and opened it before them.
“Welcome to your new home, children” he replied, his voice dropping to a silken whisper that only they could hear.
Honesty and Duty (Player Vignette) (01/13/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by CHIVERST on 01/13/2020 at 04:01 AM CST.|
|Tucked away in a less-travelled area of Mist Harbor is a rather plain-looking building that purportedly closed for refurbishment some years ago. Rohese glanced around to make sure that she hadn’t been followed and stepped inside.
Pushing back the hood of her cowl and allowing it fall over her shoulders, she was met with a sea of anxious faces and a barrage of questions.
"No one tells us anything!" "Is it true that Greth was attacked?" "I heard all those poor orphans he was looking after have been snatched!" "Someone said Socius tried to kill Nehor with a dart!"
All the wild speculation and genuine concern, however, was drowned out by general grumbling and outrage over "no-good" governments and corrupt administrations.
"Hush now, one at a time!" Someone handed her a cup of freshly brewed tea, which she gladly accepted, and she took a seat in an attempt to calm the mood.
"We’ve suffered enough!" A shabbily dressed man limped forward after his outburst and sheepishly cleared his throat.
Rohese noticed that the right side of his face still bore the raw red scars of a nasty burn, despite his attempts to conceal it from her. Rising to her feet once more, she approached him and tenderly held his hand in her own. She was sharply reminded of the horrific events last year where the townspeople had been attacked. A solitary tear ran down her cheek.
Struggling to find the right words, she simply nodded in agreement and added, "I know."
"Jus’ tell us what we should do or we should trust!" His frustration and skepticism, along with those around him, was clearly evident and it tore at her heart.
Rohese surveyed the room, taking in each and every face now looking to her for answers. She was fairly sure that some of them were Flock sympathisers and word of this gathering would probably reach Nehor but that couldn’t be helped; besides, she had nothing to hide.
How am I ever going to convince them? Honesty. That was her only weapon against the Flock.
Taking a deep breath, Rohese calmly and carefully shared everything she had been made aware of over the last few days, even her own reservations about some of the decisions being made in the name of "restoring balance."
Slowly, but surely, the crowd settled and began to nod along as if they understood and appreciated the complexity of the situation in which they found themselves.
"All I can ask is that you trust us; trust that we are doing all we can to put things right so that you and your children can live in peace and do not suffer anymore." She smiled – hoping it was reassuring - and finished her tea before adding, "trust your instincts and what feels right."
Placing the empty cup on the nearby table, she watched with no small measure of relief as everyone started to discuss ways in which they could help or at least cope with the uncertainties of the days that were likely to follow.
I've done all I can. It's up to them now.
Glancing around the room one last time, she noticed a small group of children playing a game of dice in the corner. She wandered over to them and knelt down. A hushed discussion took place amid a lot of giggling and playful nudges. Rohese then handed them each a piece of colored chalk.
Taking in each of their eager expressions, she began to regret her actions but opted instead to clarify her proposal with a gentle smile.
"Remember what we agreed: nothing offensive or destructive, just draw something that you think your friends will find funny. Promise?"
"We promise, Miss Roh!"
With a conspiratorial wink, she rose gracefully to her feet and slipped away into the night.
Rohese smiled softly at Greth, stepping towards him and planting a tender kiss on his bruised cheek.
"Forgive me for calling so late but I am here to fulfil Socius's request. Is he ready to be moved?"
Greth cast a perfunctory glance at the door behind the bar and nodded. Resting a small hand over his, Rohese took in the injuries he had suffered and sighed.
"We have to trust that Socius knows what he is doing."
"Right you are, Miss," Greth replied, somewhat reluctantly. "I’m not rightly happy about this but if you think it's for the best too, then so be it."
Rohese gazed fondly at the gruff barkeeper and quietly thanked Xilona for the introduction.
"I have prepared a bed for him at Cyraeni's house, just along Gardenia Lane. It's a peaceful spot, tucked away from prying eyes, so Penre should be safe there and I will do everything in my power to aid in his recovery."
Seeing his brow furrow, Rohese hastily added, "I would welcome any help you might wish to give in terms of a guard and, please, could you see that Darcena is informed of his location."
Greth absently nodded and Rohese noticed a pained expression cross his face.
"We will find those children and see that they are safe too," she added. "It wasn’t your fault!"
Rising to her tiptoes, she kissed him again on the cheek.
"Take care and I will see you very soon."
Making her way back to Cyraeni's, Rohese noticed that one of the propaganda posters now boasted a bird image with a pair of bright yellow penguin feet and a ridiculously large green bowtie. She giggled to herself before hastily pulling the hood back over her head to conceal her obvious amusement.
She mentally checked off another name from her list. There was still so much to be done before she could retire for the night.
Penre would soon be resting in a comfortable bed and receiving around-the-clock care.
I must send that letter of introduction to Socius tonight; I promised Juspera.
I need to consider how to approach the Council of Thrones regarding business dealings with Mist Harbor.
Lylia. Why did that conversation with Xanthium bother her so much? What could the Mayor be thinking! Rohese shook her head and was reminded of her own words earlier that evening. Trust your instincts.
And then, of course, there was Nehor. Despite her best efforts, she was still concerned about that outrageous man. There was definitely something there earlier - a moment - something in the eyes and the way he looked at her. Rohese shrugged it off. I have more important matters to deal with first.
A courier handed Socius a folded sheet of white parchment with an avian-stamped silver wax seal. It read:
12th day of Lormesta in the year 5120
My dear Socius,
It was a pleasure to see you today. First, I want to thank you for stopping by the Museum last month and supporting the Elanthian Vogue event. I’m sure the Lady Avawren won’t mind me saying that she is somewhat enamored with your portrait in the Gallery journal. It is in safe hands.
Secondly, I am writing to let you know that your request has been granted. I have spoken with Greth regarding Penre’s relocation and he will see that your orders are carried out. Please be assured that I will do everything in my power to keep him safe and ensure his recovery.
And finally, please forgive my impertinence, but I have a small favour to ask of you in return. I have been approached by Juspera to see if you might be willing to meet with her and the Magister Raelee Svala. I can vouch for both of them in terms of their respectful behaviour towards to me but I am hesitant to say more as I am not particularly comfortable with certain aspects of their reputations. It is worth nothing that Akenna is not happy at all about the Hall of Mages being involved but I shall leave that for you to determine further. I am, of course, more than happy to accompany both parties, should you or they ask it of me.
As always, your friend and confidante.
I Will Not Pay (Player Vignette) (01/13/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by AVAIA on 01/13/2020 at 09:18 PM CST.|
|"I will not pay."
The words were offered unasked for, quietly but with a resolve she found unusual. Still, they confused her, and her half-hearted rummaging for trinkets to sell him came to a halt as she looked up.
"You ..will ...not?
She stared at the pawnbroker for a long while, waiting for some further explanation to be offered. None was forthcoming, as Cendadric merely looked at her with a frown, eyes sometimes darting away and then back to her face as if he was trying to hold his nerve. Then she understood.
"Do as you wish, Pakk'a." she scoffed. "I am not my Brother."
Waving her hand dismissively, she turned and left the shop.
The night air was cold as she walked down Gardenia Lane the short distance to the bank. Brushing her fingers gently across her urglaes bracelet, she allowed her mind to open itself to the thought net. Once her mind had settled, she thought directly to each of them in turn.
The interior of the Wayside Inn was filled with noise, as was usual of an evening this time of year. Warm and close and thick with smoke and the steam rising off of the damp clothes of those gathered within, it was difficult to see from one end of the room to the other.
At a corner table she sat, sipping bloodwine and resisting the urge to summon a fiery elemental wave that would rid her ears of the squawks and squeals of the rabble she found herself among, and her nose of their stench.
"Patience," she reminded herself. "Mhe Stry." Her eyes closed briefly, her fingers twitching ever so slightly in just the beginnings of a spell that she did not let herself complete.
One by one the Four joined her at the table, their movements unnoticed in the general mayhem that always accompanied the arrival of Dreaven and his cohorts; whose shuffling from group to group, table to table, always occupied the full attention of most of those who happened to be there already or who ran breathlessly through the door to catch up to them.
Several full turnings of the seasons had passed since she last spoke to the Three she had brought north with her from Sharath, and the One who had remained here during her last journey south. Her desire was to let them each find their own way amongst the Northerners they would find so unfamiliar. Her word had not been questioned. Now, she regarded each of them in turn. Calmly, they all returned her gaze. The Watcher. The Purifier. The Cenobite. The Highwayman.
"There has been a .... disturbance...on the Grey Isle." she began. "Under the guise of Order, the forces of Chaos have begun to flourish. This will not be permitted. Corruption will not be allowed to take root."
"Which of you will I send?"
"Your word is our Will, Priestess" came the reply. Three voices speaking together and one..did that last one hesitate, just a bit? She shifted her eyes to the Highwayman. In response he merely shrugged and flashed her a quick grin. "He bears closer watching," she thought as her eyes narrowed. "A useful agent he has always been, but is he truly Loyal? Umesha'i?"
Such things were to be decided another time. For now, the answer to her question became clear as she spoke it.
"None of you." she spoke with finality. "You will stay here in the Northlands and observe, as you have been doing. Report to me each full moon, or if there is something that requires attention." Standing up from the table, she dusted off her robe and pants, adjusting her bandolier and other gear as she looked once more around the inn, making sure that the small gathering had garnered no unusual amount of attention.
"I will take care of this, myself."
Brimstone and Ink (Player Vignette) (01/14/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by UBERWENCH on 01/14/2020 at 05:43 AM CST.|
|Fred expected a quiet night. It was a Restday evening, and the neatly kept house at the end of Lyon Way had had few visitors to welcome that day. The most recent visit was from the mayor and her towering half-Elven companion, but that hardly counted as a visit. After all, the mayor's other office was in Brigatta. It was no surprise to see her or her young flaxen-haired friend Xanthium, although the younger woman rarely looked as serious as she had earlier.
He was daydreaming of Xanthium and her graceful walk, in fact, when the smell of burning brought him fully awake. Fire, always a danger to the sprawling house, brought instant alarm; the distinctive whiff of brimstone that accompanied balefire suggested the mayor's wrath, which was potentially worse. He was about to leave his post and investigate further when Lylia appeared at the door, green-black fire wreathing her hands. Her voice betrayed little emotion, but the viridian flames told a different story.
"Frederick. I shall be working late at Moot Hall, See to it that Xanthium is comfortable and has everything she needs. I left her rather abruptly after our discussion, I fear." Balefire snaked from her clenched fists to her forearms in a lurid green blaze. "Unconscionably rude of me, really." Although she faced him as she spoke, the Faendryl woman's unblinking eyes seemed focused on a point somewhere well behind Fred's head.
"Of course, madam. She's a member of the house too, and you know I -- "
"Thank you, Frederick. It is good to know I can always entrust tasks to you and know they will be carried out to the letter." Her lips skinned back from her teeth in a smile that didn't reach her eyes. "To the letter," she repeated, "and speaking of letters, I have some I must write." Sulfurous smoke trailed after her, mingled with the sillage of her perfume, as she turned to walk toward Moot Hall.
The doorman didn't realize he was holding his breath until he released it in a rush once he heard the last echoes of her brisk steps fade in the muffling fog that had rolled in from Darkstone Bay.
Once in her office, Lylia paced across the tapestry rug in long strides, sending little puffs of fine dust from beneath it. She had let the last embers of her initial incandescent rage fall away from her during her walk to Moot Hall, and she was ready to consider the matter more coolly. She looked at the names on the pair of envelopes she'd addressed earlier, intending to fill them with less incendiary script. Thrassus. Nehor. She added a third envelope now, writing in a slanting copperplate hand: Socius.
Using the original letters as kindling for the stove that warmed her kettle, Lylia sat to pen new words as the old ones burned.
Thrassus -- You have no doubt heard of the insufferable pantomime comedy with the lilies and those who falsely bore them during an assault on two notable residents of Mist Harbor. Suspicion falls heavily upon the Faendryl, as always, and we are again in the tiresome position of disproving any ill intent despite the idiocy of these acts being manifestly visible. How fortunate that whomever is behind it all has acted clumsily, with no regard for the velvet glove and only the fist within. It is absurd that anyone would even attempt such a ruse, much less that anyone would assume any of us were a part of it. How very un-Faendryl it all is. There is no power to be gained by it. Find them, and we shall put an end to this charade.
Nehor -- Word has reached me of the terrible beating that befell Greth and Penre. As I know you abhor violence yourself, I feel certain you had nothing to do with this. Likewise, I assure you this was not my doing, nor that of my friends to whom I have entrusted the execution of my directives. Shall I speak plainly? I do not much care for children and find them useless. Why would I wish to take more into my charge then, or that of my be-lilied associates? Our interests are not served in any way by interfering with the lives of orphans abroad when my own town, besieged by a blight, has many of its own. Orphans are a net export for the Landing, not an import, if I might make such a dark jest. Are you certain that your "Flock" remains yours and has not been undermined as well? We should meet soon and discuss these matters over tea. I could invite guests who might shed more light too.
With the second letter signed and set aside, the most challenging one remained. Preparing her tea gave her time to think and calmed her with its familiar ritual; by the time she returned to her curule chair, she had an idea of what she wanted to say. The mayor idly ran her fingers over the ancient predator's skull on her desk, contemplating the nature of the thoughts the age-darkened bone once housed. The man she wrote to could also be predatory, vicious in his own way when roused, so she chose her words carefully.
Socius -- It grieves me to hear word of the abduction of the children Greth and Penre attempted to shelter from rough handling by the malefactors besetting the isle and its people. How much more it wounds me to learn that those responsible cloaked themselves in illusions and flowers, implicating me and mine in a repugnant act. Let me be clear and to the point: I did not do this, nor did I have it ordered. It is beneath me. All of it, from the beatings to the taking of the children to their current circumstances. Those who did this must be brought to justice, however rough such justice may be. My people are there to ensure peace in troubled times in exchange for a small share of the abundance of food your rich land has to offer. It is an equitable trade, but one that may not continue if disruptive elements cast doubt on our intentions, which I hasten to add align with your own in virtually every regard. The island and all its inhabitants, from the Iyo to the town's citizenry to its visitors, must feel safe from the depredations of those who mean them harm. That, not turmoil, is my goal.
Weighty Moments - A Clipped Wings Compilation (GM and Player Vignettes) (01/14/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by GM-QUILIC on 01/14/2020 at 08:03 AM CST.|
|"Hey!" A short half-elf limped up to the young skinny human with comical haste. A tall gruff giantman in splintmail followed behind wearing a banded kettle helmet that was too small for his massive melon and jangling a set of keys. "What do ya think yer doin' there! Duntcha know defacement's a crime?"
The human youth turned around with a startled look on his face. He hid the paintbrush behind his back immediately as he recognized the guard behind the half-elf. A poster behind him dripped wet with yellow paint, the word "Flock" altered and appended in a rather vulgar fashion. The giantman guard grabbed the youth by the shirt and looked over to his half-elf companion.
Letting out an exasperated sigh, the half-elf retrieved one of the parchment rolls from under his arm and placed a nail in his teeth. He drew a small tack hammer out of his satchel and muffled out "Put 'im in irons, Dab." The giantman complied silently and clamped the youth in manacles. He dragged the scared boy behind himself south toward the constabulary while the half-elf went to work replacing the propaganda.
Light from nearby gas lamps cast a soft glow over the pawnshop, and the Flock courier had a hard time seeing his work through his shadow against the poster. If it wasn't for that hoodlum, he'd have had the giant with him to help tack up the parchments. He moved to put his armful of posters down... but the ground was damp from the water buckets dousing the last vandalism. They had just been here a half-hour prior replacing one that had been set aflame by a cloaked giantman smoking a cigar.
Exasperated, he let out a sigh and straightened himself. "Hey Dab," the half-elf had hoped his escort was still in range to come back and hold the poster up, "Hey DAB!" The man's shadow against the side of the storefront grew longer and wider. "Thank goodness... hold this here while I tack..."
The words came out muffled as his face was palmed by a very sizeable assailant. The half-elf tried to kick his good leg, but the massive form behind him already had him off the ground and hurried through the door to the pawnshop. Cendadric immediately began to protest as the large figure bolted the door behind them but was silenced when the masked individual shot his glare behind the counter. A quiet voice escaped from beneath the featureless eahnor visage, "Leave. You will be compensated."
Cendadric hurried his lockbox closed and secured and departed through the rear of the establishment.
"Where are the children, Birdbrain?" The giant figure thrust his half-elven quarry against the wood of the door, causing a louder noise than intended. A loud crack that accompanied the thump sounded like more money he'd have to spend in repairs.
"I don't know what you're..."
CRACK! Another slam against the door shut the half-elf's mouth as he bit down hard on his tongue. The glossy mask stared accusingly at the terrified courier. "You know where the kids are, or you know someone who does. The next word out of your mouth had better be a proper noun."
"M... my frien' Dab. Th' guard. He works for th' flock and sometimes goes wit Nehor. He may've heard somefin'."
"He the one that took the poor kid away to the cells?" The masked giant glanced down to see the half-elf's feet hanging a full ten inches above the floor.
"He's on duty tonight. He'll watch the kid there until they come ta try 'im! Vandalism's a crime ya know!"
A small ebon kunai slipped from a sheath at the giant's thigh and up to the half-elf's throat - the weapon looking positively diminutive in his massive gloved hand. "Well then... after I litter here, I should probably go turn myself in." A quick deep cut from the blade nearly decapitated the half-elf and spewed thick vitae on the floors and walls. No sound escaped. No flailing. Just a simple bugging of eyeballs as the husk of the courier dropped to the floor of the pawnshop. Leaving the front door bolted, the masked figure emptied a small pouch into a bulging sack from his duster and weighed it. Satisfied, he plopped the sack onto Cendadric's lockbox and slipped out the way the opulent shop keeper had gone. Moving off at a trot toward the constabulary, he connected a glaesine chain to his kunai and the other end to a hand sickle.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
There was nobody inside the office when the cloaked figure entered. He knew he didn't have long, so he immediately went to work. After a tripod of spears was brought over in front of the iron barred door, the figure leapt from the desk to grab onto a crossbeam. With impossible grace for his size, he swung himself up to mount the load bearing support. His movements seemed fluid and elven as he produced his chain and simultaneously began a small chant. A pair of ethereal eels snaked their way around the jailhouse, bringing a thick fog up from the ground before dissipating in a coiled dance near the entryway.
He didn't have to wait on his perch for long. The fog had barely ceased churning when the door opened. The thick blanket of greyish white shifted out of the entrants' way as the giantman dragged the poor lad toward the iron-bound door. Dab was simple and didn't slow his stride in light of the unusual state of the First Sergeant's Office, stopping in curiosity only as he looked upon the tripod of spears in his way. The next eight seconds were a blur.
The first three seconds saw a figure drop from the rafters, landing a twin hammerfist on top of the guard's too-small helmet. As the sentry's hands instinctively raised to the pain and encroaching metal, the assailant fell low, slamming his kunai through Dab's ankle and tossing the sickle to loop over the crossbeam overhead. The bellow of pain was loud, and may have caused unwelcome attention, but the graceful beast was fast. A quick jab into the guard's lower ribs drove the wind out of his lungs in a quiet puff, rending the bellow muted. The third and fourth seconds were spent waiting for the rattling glaesine chain to drop the sickle down to the stygian figure's waiting hand. Having been released by the guard, the youth ran over to the side of the room and huddled in a corner. Dab was still doubled over from having the wind knocked out of him, allowing his center of gravity to be shifted with a few powerful pulls on the chain.
The guard fell to the floor with a thud. A deep gasp escaped as he tried to catch his wind but was lost again as his skewered leg and lower half were lifted from the floor with consecutive massive tugs on the chain. By the eighth second, the giant was dangling precariously by a chain from the rafters - his helm having clattered to the floor and blood from his forehead leaving red drops along the underside of its kettle rim.
The assailant wrapped the chain around his corded and taught bicep, bracing himself and leaning backward to keep the giantman hanging upside down. He slid the tripod of spears under the giantman with his right foot and tugged a few links more on the chain. The guard panicked at the sight of the sharp weapons aimed up at his dangling form, the pain in his ankle and foot all but forgotten in the face of imminent death.
An eahnor mask glanced away from Dab to the poor youth with yellow paint caked on his hands and shackles on his wrists. "Take his keys. Free yourself. Open the cell. Leave."
The poor lad was dumbfounded and scrambled over to the hanging giant. He hopped up toward the giant's keyring, but the slowly rotating form was too cumbersome to get around. The figure took his sickle in one hand and splintered the floorboard at the chain's full length, leaving Dab suspended above the spears. He moved back to the giant and gave him a little shove. The giant began to yell. An eahnor face slammed into an unbroken nose and one of the two gave way. Dab immediately lost consciousness. "Great. Now I'll have to wait to find out."
He retrieved the keys from the giant's belt and released the poor vandal. "What's your name, sir?"
"I... I'm G-g-gera... I'm G-g-gerald," the youth stuttered. He rubbed his wrists and ran over to the iron door to unbar it.
"Well Gerald, get yourself to the healer. You look a bit roughed up." The youth ran past the masked figure and was caught by his wrist. "Here... this'll pay for that eye." He shoved a handful of coins into the youth's hand and watched some of the fog roll outside of the jailhouse chasing after Gerald.
He dragged the First Sergeant's chair away from the desk and parked it by the kama shoved into the floor. After closing and locking the constabulary door, he straddled the chair facing the Dab chandelier. He lifted his eahnor mask to above his eyes and lit a cigar. The pain was beginning to bring Dab to, and the guard moaned as he blinked away blurry vision from the blood rushing to his head.
"Where are the kids, Dab? You tell me and you live."
The guard mouthed something that looked like "Call for me...", but no sound came from his lips. The black skinned intruder stood up from the chair and replaced his mask. He walked up to the hanging giant and snuffed his cigar out on Dab's forehead. Dab winced but would not scream.
"I couldn't hear you," he said as he dropped the cigar stump to the floor. "Last chance."
Dab mouthed something again, no sound coming from his lips. He winced and reached up to the small of his back in pain. His mouth opened as if to say something, and his eyes closed tightly.
"Very well, nightie night for you again." The assailant placed his hands on either side of Dab's face to facilitate another meeting of eahnor mask with now-broken nose... and realized his mistake. A shackle and chain clapped closed on the assailant's wrist, securing him to Dab. A defiant and bloody-toothed grin from the hanging sentry brought the inquisitor's anger to a head.
Out in the street, a few passersby heard some of the screams from the jailhouse, but none would dare do more than hurry along their way. With all the turmoil in the town, not one wanted to end up on the bad side of whomever was causing those screams.
As the lamps died down and gave way to the rising sun, light penetrated the windows of the pawnshop - but wouldn't reach the splintered cracks on the back of the shop door. No light would find its way to the blood splattered around the entryway.
Light found its way into a fogless First Sergeant's Office - but not to the broken floorboards that once held a sickle. No light would shine to the top of the rafters where a chain had been sawed too quickly in release of a giantman.
Light found its way to the iron-barred door of the jail - but not to the spear tripod or the trail of blood that lead to the inside cells.
No light would shine on the skewered form of a giantman guard, or the stump at the end of his arm that pooled blood around the cell floor.
It was as though the island itself didn't want to know what had happened the night before.
It was dark when they came. She was expecting them... and everyone in town agreed that it would happen in the dark hours. So when the knock came, she was prepared. Her father's sword raised high, she crept around from the side of their little cottage and swung with all her might, grunting with the effort. The dark form moved with liquid grace, sliding aside effortlessly, and the weapon THUNKED into the doorjamb, the reverberations causing her hands to sting terribly. She let go of the weapon with a gasp, but fear and rage caused her to lunge at the form, fingernails slashing like a wild feline, her face a rictus of terror and fury. The form moved again, so fast that she could barely follow, and she found one hand jerked behind her, and her face pressed against the splintered walls of the only home she had ever known. She felt hot tears stain her face, and she shook from embarrassment, pain, and the terrible sensation that she had failed. One part of her hoped that all the noise wouldn't have woken her boys, but she dreaded their reactions when they found her corpse in the early morning hours.
The dark thoughts wound round and round in her mind, but then she felt something weighty press into the palm of the hand held behind her. Her face screwed up with confusion as she tried to puzzle out what it could be, then she felt hot breath on her ear and she recoiled. A quiet, even voice whispered, "Resist, Mother. All is not lost."
And the presence was gone, as quietly as the mist. She moved hesitantly away from the wall and pulled her sore arm around in front of her. Glancing down, she stifled a gasp. A large pouch of coins sat in the palm of her hand, and fresh tears flowed as she dropped to her knees. She shook with relieved gasps for a long few moments, then squared her shoulders, nodded once to the ground, and stood. She wrenched the sword from the doorjamb and made her way into the cottage, her jaw set with determination.
The silence was a living thing, and Xil felt it like a weight in the room. She moved uncomfortably, clearing her throat, but despite her best efforts, her gaze would not rise from the bartop in front of her. Again, she felt the words rising in her chest, forming into an... apology? Explanation? Epithet? The words fell apart once more, dispersing into disparate wisps of emotion that curled and coalesced into another layer atop the knot in her guts. She raised her mug to her lips and took a small sip, but even the alcohol tasted bitter and out of place. She couldn't place her emotions... there were simply too many of them warring for dominance. From one heartbeat to the next the riptide changed course, flinging her back and forth and causing random surges of adrenaline... from panic one moment, to rage the next, then to shame. And then the cycle would repeat itself.
The door opened, but she didn't bother to look up. It didn't matter who it was. She heard his voice, calm and measured as always, greeting the patrons. Like nothing was different. Like it was all the same as it had been. Her grip tightened on the mug, her knuckles turning an angry white, and she felt the words forming in her gut. This time they survived, and burst forth in a guttural growl.
"No," she growled.
He shuffled in front of her, and she felt his eyes on the top of her head. The rage empowered her, and she lifted her eyes to meet his. Placid hazel eyes met hers, as familiar as always, and the familiarity made her all the angrier. How DARE he look at her that way? As if it was all still the same? As if things just... continued on as they always had?
"Are you ready to listen now?" he asked, his tone even.
Xil glared daggers at him, but held her tongue. Even in her state, she knew he should not be the target of her ire.
"What ah been tryin' to tell you since you came in here, Xilly Girl... is that Ah'm OK."
Xil felt her eyes suddenly grow hot with tears, and she looked away, blinking furiously. Her tone was rough and ragged as she responded, her gaze remaining averted.
"But you might not have been. And I wasn't here."
Greth chuckled slightly, and Xil felt the rage return. The constant switching of strong emotions was quickly exhausting her, but she glared back at the placid bartender.
"Do me a favor, Xilly Girl... take a look at the floor behind you."
Xilona narrowed her eyes then glanced at the prominent smear on the floor behind her. Before she could look back, Greth had continued, his voice going quiet.
"Nobody... an' hear me clearly here... nobody... is gonna come in here an' end me. Do you understand? Not in here. This is my place."
There was a curious intensity to the bartender's face, and his tone was more forceful than she was used to hearing. Xilona watched him for a long time, her face growing calmer by degrees, until she nodded, just the once, and took a long pull from her drink.
He gazed tiredly at the vaguely avian mask on the wall, hating the thing with every pore of his being.
"Ends and means," he grumbled, though the words brought him no more comfort than they ever did. He heaved a sigh and began to dress. His finest garb, though it was starting to get a little tattered. He needed to replace it before the ruse fell apart completely, but he didn't have the funds. This particular role, he knew, had about run its course in any event. He finished dressing and stood, studiously avoiding the looking glass. It made him nauseous to see himself dressed in such a fashion, especially given what he had done recently while so garbed. He steeled himself, forcing ten long, slow, breaths in and out of his lungs, willing his heart to slow, and his hands to cease their trembling. When he had finished, he began the slow, painstaking construction of the smile he had been wearing for nearly a week now. It was an awful thing, and it made him taste bile every time he donned it. The smile was cold, mocking, and cruel, and carried with it a bargeful of arrogance. He knew it was in place when he felt as dirty as he could possibly imagine.
He fastened the lily to his lapel on his way out the door, his mind squarely on his mission. He could not fail... and so he would not.
She was gone. She'd taken his ring, and his hand, and his heart, and now she was gone, and those things were but a portion of what he had lost in the process. She hadn't paid, they said. She hadn't given enough. She hadn't been supportive enough. It was all garbage, and everyone knew it. They'd taken her because they could, and didn't give a damn about anything more than that. They'd taken her, and he had nothing left.
He hadn't eaten for two days, nor bathed, nor left his cottage. He sat and he waited. He hadn't paid his tithe in those two days either, and he knew they would come for him soon. He just couldn't find a way to care any more.
When the knock came, he did not rise. He didn't call out, or attempt to hide, or even look at the closed door. It wasn't locked, he knew, and even if it had been, it wouldn't have stopped them. They came in, loud and arrogant, and for the first time since she had been taken, he smiled.
He carefully opened the chest in his lap, feeling the tug of the mechanism inside, and then then percussive force that propelled the deadly shards throughout the small space. The flechettes, razor sharp, shredded everything they came into contact with, bathing the entire area in blood. His final thought was a happy one, as his eyes closed for the last time.
"Five less to deal with."
Mayor Lylia, I appreciate your efforts to be frank, and let me return the courtesy in the only way I know how, by being completely forthright in return. I shall take you at your word in this matter, as there are some residents of my Isle who have indicated that I may do so without reservation. However, I must be plain. I will brook no harm to my Isle or its residents, and I will not hesitate to seek justice where it is warranted when it comes to those I have sworn to protect. Do not believe that the relative distance between us would stay my hand, should I seek redress for wrongs perpetrated against my home. Avoid those circumstances, and we have no need of hostilities between us. As you are aware, there is currently a dire situation which is taking a large portion of my time and attention, but when it has subsided, I would like to meet face to face, that we might take better measure of each other, and know what to expect from any further interactions. Sincerely, Socius Leiffen
OOC Note: These were developed, as always, as a collaborative effort between myself and the players listed, where appropriate. Thank you all for playing along so wonderfully!
Agreements and Opportunities (Player Vignette) (01/14/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by BROWNTHOMM on 01/14/2020 at 11:09 AM CST.|
|The tall dark elf's stride was leisurely through Gardenia Commons, thinking quietly to himself as his keen ears picked up on the quite conversations of the people milling about. He allowed his thoughts to strike a fleeting moment of amusement across his face. Those who fought so hard to support Socius would soon be looking to shed blood in the name of righteousness. So determined to resist, they whispered how they would refuse to pay their taxes. They seemded not to consider how many precious souls go unfed without funding. How many buildings and services begin to crumble without silvers. A few proclaimed how they will take bloody revenge in very hushed tones.
His thoughts turned to the Arkati of Liabo, how they must look down upon their servants and wonder how they all became so bloodthirsty in their pursuits. He didn't venerate Arkati as gods, himself. Like most Faendryl he viewed them as merely another type of being to be dealt with or bargained with. Bemused by the thoughts of how many of Liabo's faithful would be passing the gates of Lorminstra in the coming months, a chortle escaped his lips.
The sudden, striking smile of a child cut through the fog of introspection. Though she was some distance away, she stood out strangely from the small flock of children around her. A human female child, with hair the color of wrotwood and sun-kissed skin, stared silently into his violet eyes. Her arms were bent at the elbow, palms up, toward him. Her smile grew wider as he studied her. Just as he thought he caught a flash of pointed teeth, a group of portly merchants passed between them. When the gaggle of tea-smelling peddlers had moved on, the little human was gone.
A rustling at his feet drew his gaze downward to the tail of a serpent slithering over his boot. He collected the creature gently, gathering a small two-headed asp in his hands. Both heads of the sanguine-scaled creature bit angrily into his arm, a brief haze clouding his vision as the mild venom begun to run its course. With a satisfied grin, Zolis carried the reptile to the edge of town and released it. He watched as it disappeared into a patch of rocks, its passing marked only by the warm poison in his veins. A reminder that old agreements must be kept, and new opportunities must not be missed.
Aftermath (Player Vignette) (01/14/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by TATRIA on 01/14/2020 at 02:58 PM CST.|
|“It was good plan, good enough to trick Flock leader.” She complained to the waves crashing against the seawall. “Look like bard had better plan, maybe Selbi help. Flock leader seem not to know so not think plan made with big elf found out.” Stooping, she picked up a rock, flinging it out to sea with a surprising amount of force for one her diminutive size.
Her anger seemed to have joined the rock in its flight past the wall and into the restless sea, leaving her tired, weighted beneath a heavy sense of disappointment. No kits now, only killing for Malcrith. The thought wasn’t entirely unpleasant though, there was coin in it and coin its own pleasures.
It was with a lighter spirit that she went back to the business of culling ogres for coin. If she imagined one or ten of them were wearing cloaks pinned with lilies before they died, well…what’s the harm?
Sreka's Search for Lost Children -- The Wilds (Player Vignette) (01/14/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by GEHAYI on 01/14/2020 at 08:35 PM CST.|
|Sreka painstakingly made her way through the wilds on Four Winds Isle.
She had no idea where the stolen children might be, and truthfully, she didn't believe that the Flock would have left them anywhere easily accessible, particularly in a forest so close to Mist Harbor. That seemed impractically reckless, and if she was any judge, the Flock seemed to be not only methodical but to be playing a long game.
But her instincts were telling her that there was something deeply wrong nearby. Maybe in the wilds; maybe on one of the smaller islands in the Eastern or Western Waterways. But where wasn't as important as what. And it felt--it even smelled--like a monstrous storm was brewing. She could almost feel lightning sizzling in the air, brushing against her skin.
Until a few months ago, Sreka had spent her life as a slave on a krolvin corsair. If she knew anything, she knew how merciless a storm could be. This one felt as if it had been building for a perilously long time.
She went through each zone of the wilds methodically. Monsoon Jungle. Cloud Forest. The Cor'rah. Shimmering Mists. A predator of some sort roared at her once. Another time, she was briefly outpaced by a Guardian of Sunfist opening a door in the air to a Grimswarm warcamp. And yet, despite checking every single zone, the wilds was oddly placid. She could almost hear it whispering.
<Nothing wrong here. I'm a perfectly normal forest, me. Why, there's nothing going on beneath my surface at all.
Sreka shook her head.
<I must be imagining it. I'm more familiar with the sea than the land. How do I know what's normal for forests? Especially this forest?
She was all but falling asleep on her feet when she stumbled upon the butterflies.
Up until now, the wilds had been dark and, barring the occasional screech of an owl or forest bird, quiet. The silence remained, but the nighttime darkness retreated, leaving her staring at a bright green glade filled with vibrantly hued orchids and equally colorful butterflies flitting about. It looked like high noon.
Sreka peered west of her, then east. Both areas were dark. A quick glance at the sky told her that yes, it was still filled with stars, despite the false noon of the glade.
She could feel a lassitude creeping through her, though. *You should sit,* it told her. *You're exhausted. You've been walking for so long that you're ready to fall over. It's time to sleep. Rest. Rest...*
"In peace?" Sreka said aloud, and then let loose a short bark followed by a grunt of doubt. "I think not."
Without thinking, she headed west--as far from the Glade of False Noon as she could get. It wasn't long before she reached the area of the forest known as the Forbidden Hills. She had to climb in much of that region, which was a blessed distraction.
Then she reached the Grasslands.
Looming in the distance was a large mountain that stood in the center of the island. A cloud of mist surrounded the upper portion of the mountain, hiding it from view, while thick jungles ringed it in a skirt of verdant hues. Green. Again. Green that should look like tar to me, as there's little beyond starlight and it's the middle of the night
Winding its way through rolling foothills was a twisting passage that led to the distant peaks. Sreka frowned at this passage. Her map, which was unquestionably old, indicated that the pass was closed. When mountain passes marked closed on maps, that usually meant a rockslide or an avalanche. This was open. At least, it looked open.
<Ronan, Tonis, and Imaera be with me.
Hesitantly, she stepped into the pass.
She pushed forward again. The voice repeated its words...though now, Sreka thought uneasily, it was not speaking but snarling. Something did not want her here.
<All right. There's a barrier in this passageway. Is it intangible or is it solid?
Feeling foolish, she gestured as if tapping on the air--and was astonished when her fingers brushed an unseen wall.
<But people don't build walls out in the middle of nowhere. They only build walls for two reasons--to keep the world out, or to keep themselves in.
Someone, it seemed, wanted very badly to do one or the other. Or perhaps both.
And, as near as Sreka could tell, there wasn't a door in the wall...or even an alternate path to the distant mountains. A boat wouldn't help, as she was far from a river or the sea, and airships were so rare as to draw instant attention.
<You'd need something else to get back and forth from the mountain. A gold ring, maybe. Or a...
Hadn't Greth Rottgut said that the five who had assaulted Penre and stolen the children had used a portal to escape?
<Maybe wherever they went is is like the Monastery in the Lyserian Hills. Someone who can already access the place has to open the way. And since the Flock has no intention of opening the way to the Defenders, that gives them a stronghold that we can't breach--and hostages we can't rescue.
It was all supposition, of course. There was no proof, and Sreka had no idea how to obtain any. And yet...and yet it fit all too well.
She gazed at the mountain, straining her ears for a word or a scream as she scanned the distant cliffs for even a glint that might be a lantern's light or a telescope. She saw nothing, heard nothing--but as she stared at the mountain that loomed high above the rest of the island, she recollected an image from the Flock's propaganda posters: a gigantic crow flying far above the Isle, its outstretched wings shrouding the island in shadow.
What if "we loom over you, and you are all under our wings" wasn't just a metaphor? If the Flock was on top of that mountain, they would loom over the rest of the Isle. The entire Isle would, in fact, be under the Flock. And the Flock could say this without lying.
Of course, she had no proof that the Flock was on, or even near, the mountaintop. Hiding beneath the ground in burrows would make more sense. But something told her that this would offend their pride--and their metaphors. They spoke automatically of wings, of soaring, of flight. They would need to be somewhere high, somewhere that those not of the Flock could not climb or swim to. Perhaps on the mountaintop. Perhaps a stranger, more uncanny plane of existence, like the Rift or the Confluence, adjacent to the mountain's peak.
Uncanny. She let loose a wild yowl of laughter. Her mind was playing games, it seemed. After all, only one word meant "uncanny" and sounded just like the word that meant "a hard-to-reach mountaintop nest of a large bird of prey."
OOC Note: This is the room that Sreka is talking about. You'll notice that I copied the description, changing only the tenses of the verbs.
Forbidden Hills, Grasslands - 20979] Looming in the distance is a large mountain that stands in the center of the island. A cloud of mist surrounds the upper portion of the mountain, hiding it from view, while thick jungles ring it in a skirt of verdant hues. Winding its way through rolling foothills is a twisting passage that leads to the distant peaks. Obvious paths: northeast, east.
Fog Wrapped the Isle Like a Saephua (Player Vignette) (01/12/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by ZILAL on 01/15/2020 at 12:10 AM CST.|
|If anyone had been lingering outside the bank several hours past midnight, they would have seen a slight individual enter the area and paste a crisp parchment to one of the columns. Notably distinct from all the other posters and various graffiti in town, the parchment bore only a simply-drawn, inverted crown, with a short slip of verse:
Yesterday, fog wrapped the isle like a saephua. Who was awake to see its retreat? Last night's breezes swept the island clean.
Jasmine unfurls in familar gardens. Who can foresee what the day will bring? Serenely, dawn comes. No harsh words are spoken. Vessels bob gently at rest on the sea, Quiet as the krakens that slumber beneath.
Velvet Glove, Iron First (Player Vignette) (01/15/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by FUDGEHJ on 01/15/2020 at 02:58 AM CST.|
|The sharp tick tock of Nehors boots echoed through the hall of their makeshift headquarters, set up in a warehouse just outside of the Eastern Docks district. It was not the Flockmasters first choice, but it was located where it needed to be in order to most efficiently fulfill its purpose. The Isle's humidity had not been kind to the structure and the place reeked of mold and sweat. It seemed to suck the will out of anyone in it, those old beams and rotted boards. It was structurally sound...but barely. The main hallway was hardened with old stone and thus that is where most of the business was taking place. The warehouse was crowded now with dejected residents, most of them frightened and scared. He pitied them, being woken up just before dawn, dragged out of their houses by armed guards...but this was necessary. Their community was where most of the violence had taken place. Many of his guard had been killed and injured, Flock Loyalists had been assaulted in the street...and while not everyone they had rounded up was guilty, they had to cast a very wide net to ensure they caught all who were.
His adjutant tagged along, her short shuffling steps struggling to keep up. Standing at a mere five feet, she was of mixed race: part elf and part human. She had only just joined with the Flock, but in that short time she had proven both capable and loyal. She passed on several missives and orders to the various squads that were still cleaning up after this mornings operation. As Nehor watched, two breathless young men ran up in avian masks, passing her a few more notes which she read silently to herself. Not deeming them worthy of bringing to the Flockmasters attention, she put them in her satchel, scratched something he couldn't make out on her clipboard and ripped the paper off to give to the man on the right. Both saluted and left. The half-elf noticed Nehor's gaze and shook her head slightly. Nothing of note.
"...and as you can see here, we've separated the detainees into three groups."
The Faendryl escorting them spoke in crisp, correct common. The type of common that only one expertly educated but not used to speaking it could pull off. His words held no tone besides professionalism and Nehor found himself immediately annoyed at the man. Where was the inflection? The sense of theatrics? He shook his head and ran a hand over his tired features, his eyes baggy and hair disheveled. He had not had any time to look his best, so he could forgive this one his lack of passion.
As they stopped at the entrance to the part of the facility dedicated to detainee processing, Nehor asked "So tell me of your method." The Flockmaster looked around as he spoke, slightly distracted by the sounds of orders being yelled and the soft whimpering of families huddled together, awaiting their turn to be processed.
The Faendryl in the tailored suit, not a wrinkle in sight, waited patiently for the Flockmasters attention and, when he received it, continued in that toneless common of his: "It is quite effective. When your guard went in, those who did not resist were placed in group one. They were questioned by your sergeants and then sent on their way, unless the questioning came up with something they felt was pertinent, then they joined group two...the ones who resisted but without violence." He continued on with some minutiae about the sorting process and they rounded the corner, finding themselves at the back of two lines. The right line was the longest and by the relative care the guards were showing to the inhabitants of this group, Nehor supposed it to be the non-resistors. One of the guards had a large wicker basket and was going through the line to ensure each family and person received their due ration. Out of the corner of his eye he caught his adjutant slipping one of the children a sweet with unpracticed stealth. The child accepted with a look of stunned awe and its parents, wary still, smiled weakly at the half-elf. She flashed an overly stern expression at the kid, which giggled and buried it's face in their mothers skirts.
The left line was decidedly less well treated.
As they walked between the two lines, they passed several flock guard with heavy looking truncheons who were shaking down individuals in the left line while a serious looking Faendryl with a white lily on her lapel supervised. This line shuffled slowly forward into one of the rooms at the end of the hall. Their destination in fact. Two Flockguard shoved a few of the detainees roughly aside as the trio slipped past and into the large room.
"As you can see, Flockmaster, the procedure is relatively quick and...if they cooperate...mostly painless."
A man in a healers robe stepped forward, touching a nervous looking human girl of no more than 17 summers. He maintained contact and nodded to a Faendryl with the same cold eyes as his guide, who began asking a series of questions.
What was your favorite color? How long have you been working with Socius? How old are you? When did you first decide to rebel against the Isle? Do you enjoy the water? How many Flockguard have you killed? How many have you wanted to kill? Do you like sweets? How long have you been working with Socius?
On and on, rapidly, the dark elf went through his questions. The girl, getting more and more nervous, began to cry. The inquisition stopped until she suddenly grew more calm and composed, and then the questioning continued.
"We ask a series of questions while the detainee is linked to an Empath. The Empath maintains the link to measure heart rate and respiratory levels, as well as to calm them if they get over-wrought. There is a bit more to it than that, but let us not dwell on needless details." The man waved a well manicured hand in a idle dismissive gesture that still managed to convey a certain grace...which Nehor had always found quite infuriating in elves.
"If the detainee is not found to be violent or harbor violent intent, they are sent to be fined for resisting or set free if circumstances deem that expedient." The Faendryl shrugged. "A case by case basis, you understand."
Nehor nodded along, watching as an observer made a few marks on a pad and shook his head at the questioner. The questioner nodded to the Empath who broke the link and the girl was shuffled into a relatively sedate looking cell. None of them seemed overly nervous, so Nehor supposed this was for the people who were found to 'not be violent or harbor violent intent'. In this spacious area, five interrogations were being held simultaneously. Efficient and quick, most were sent to the cage at the far end of the room, which in itself was being processed, groups sent out to other areas...presumably to be fined or released. As he watched though, one man's Empath suddenly went rigid and the interrogator nodded to one of the guards, who began to viciously beat the detainee over the head. "Violent Tendencies. Lying about connections to Socius. Possibly feeding Intel to the Rebels. Put him in with group three."
The man paled visibly. "No. No! I promise! I'm...I'm innocent! I didn't do anything! I...I've been set up!" The interrogator looked at the Empath, who nodded once more...this time more firmly. With their cold, pitiless dark elven eyes the Faendryl looked down upon the weeping, beaten, pleading man. In the same tone he'd used if he was ordering a coffee from the local bakery, he repeated "Put him in with group three."
The man screamed as the guards drug him to the door opposite the caged area.
Nehor pondered this for a moment, turning to his guide. In a curious tone he asked "Do you ever get it wrong?"
The Faendryl shrugged and nodded his head. "It is not a perfect method. However, we are confident that our rate of accuracy is within acceptable bounds."
"What are 'acceptable bounds', exactly?" Nehor drawled.
It sounded good to Nehor, so he nodded and they moved to the next room, following the poor sod that had been dragged there.
"And here we have group three." His guide informed him, rather needlessly at this point.
Violent offenders. Those who had taken up arms, attacked a guard, or otherwise tried to forcefully injure the Flock or its Loyalists. The people were manacled and then tethered together, their feet hobbled with heavy iron chain. They turned as Nehor entered, and a combination of hate and terror shone in their gazes. Whilst the other lines had fear and worry, a pall of grim hopelessness hung over these ones like a cloud.
"Did we ever catch the one who beheaded that poor sod in the Pawnshop, by the by?" his Adjutant asked, her voice lilting with an accent Nehor couldn't quite place. The Faendryl turned almost imperceptibly and there was a flash of something in those icy, cold eyes. Nehor marveled...all this time the dark elf had exuded a cool professionalism, with not a hint of emotion in tone or gaze...but that hot lance of disdain he had seen as his adjutant addressed him? Well. If Nehor had to choose between the ice or the sheer hate he had just glimpsed for an instant, he would prefer the ice. After what seemed like a solid minute, Nehor piped up with "It's a fair question. Did we?" The lily bearer shook his head. "The matter is being handled, Flockmaster. My people will suss them out."
Nehor let the matter drop, and eyed his adjutant, silently willing her to do the same.
The smell of sweat and blood was strong in this room, and the slow cloying air, protected from any refreshing breezes by a relatively solid wall (the sturdiest in this cursed structure, he noted) added to the oppressive atmosphere. Each man was taken, one by one, to be questioned...in a far more forceful manner. Every time they refused to answer, or tried to deceive the questioners, one of their fingers would snap or in one case the mans jaw. The jaw was mended swiftly, so that the questioning could continue. The fingers were not.
"Well it seems that there are not too many here. Much smaller group than the other two."
His guide nodded absently, seemingly uninterested in the size of each group. He did however, pose a question in a very careful tone.
"What would you have us do with the ones found...irredeemable?"
Nehor thought a moment, carefully considering. These people had violently attacked his forces. They were a grave threat to peace and stability...and for the council's plan to work, they MUST have stability.
He turned and asked the Adjutant: "Do we have sufficient rope for those here who are in group three?"
She looked around, her mouth moving slightly as she counted to herself "Yes, we've collected much in the way of such resources from the Tithes."
"Mmmm..." Nehor mused out loud "...still. Good rope is expensive.
"Shall we charge it to...?" the adjutant began, and Nehor quickly interrupted speaking over the woman who almost (but not quite) hid her annoyance: "Yes. An excellent idea. Bill the families for every length used, increasing their mandatory tithe."
The half elf nodded and he could have sworn he saw the Faendryl's lips curl up into a smirk for a moment.
"Very well." The lily bearer acknowledged the order, whispering to one of the guards who passed the order along.
The group left the warehouse, but as they were walking back toward the entrance suddenly there was a commotion. From the first group a man stepped out, quickly, wielding a vicious looking shiv and heading straight for Nehor. He stood frozen, paralyzed with terror. Not again. The pain of being stabbed...immense...no, he couldn't- His thoughts were interrupted by a single syllable, a small thin grey beam connected the Faendryl and his assailant, and then suddenly the assailant simply *ceased to be*. He didn't scream, there was no blood, there was just...nothing. It was as if the man had never existed.
A nervous looking avian masked guard came up, panting. "Flockmaster! Are you alright?"
Recovering, trying to smooth out his even more disheveled hair, Nehor tersely snapped "I would be more alright if you would do your job, man! Search these folk again, and have someone competent assist you."
The masked guard gulped audibly, saluted and went to once again frisk the line of agitated detainees, who protested audibly but did not otherwise resist. The adjutant received another missive, this one she deemed important enough to share. "Sir, the collections proceed as planned. We've scheduled the third delivery for one hours time. We've been sending them alternately to the Moot Hall and dock warehouses in the Landing."
Nodding, Nehor said "Good, tell me if there are any hiccups. And distribution to the Isle residents?"
"Proceeds as planned. They should be fine to last till the next distribution."
A cry went out from one of the people in line listening "Ya gotsa be kiddin! I ken barely feed me kin on such meager rations! We're gon all be skin n bone by the time ye done with us, crow!"
The Faendryl and Nehor merely observed as the adjutant stepped forward, a fiery heat in her eyes as she clenched her clipboard so hard it threatened to snap. "You will be fine! You don't even know what its like to be hungry! The people down there are ACTUALLY starving. Just because you can't gorge like the glutton you are doesn't mean you can talk that way to us!"
Nehor placed a hand on her shoulder and spoke in soothing tones "There is no need for such harshness. The man is merely concerned." He turned to address the one who had spoken up. "Sir, believe me, I feel your pain. I too have had to sacrifice. But the good of the many must outweigh our comfort. Know that your donations are going to a good cause."
The man spat at the Flockmasters feet. "Donations. Of all the nerve, ye ha' the gall to-" his rant was cut off by a heavy cudgel to the face applied by a nearby guard, and Nehor frowned down.
"...put this one in group two."
The guards saluted and moved to comply, as the man's family began to wail.
The Crate (Player Vignette) (01/15/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by ZILAL on 01/15/2020 at 11:49 AM CST.|
|This vignette is long, but hopefully my assurance that it contains some familiar faces will help keep your interest. It was written collaboratively with the many characters who appear within it and was approved by them, and by Quilic. Thank you so much to everyone who participated.
She scanned the smoky room, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dim light. The Half-Elf wasn't hard to spot; her gaze was drawn immediately to the coal-black cascade of curls and the scar on his upper lip. She strode to where he stood spectating a rowdy game of darts and curled her finger to beckon coyly to him, but her whisper in his ear when he stooped to hear was shaky with nerves.
"Gavrien? We met before, remember? I need your help."
The swarthy man tilted his head to eye her with sharp assessment, scratching at the stubble along his jaw. "Keep talking," he said after a long, silent pause that bordered on uncomfortable.
"I have a job," she whispered, and then her voice caught and she swallowed audibly. "I need a blacksmith who can be discreet and won't ask questions. Not here, I'm afraid of being traced. I was hoping South Haven..."
He grunted and gave a slow nod. "Might do, might do." He raked her with his amber gaze again, then glanced away. His posture softened to a casual slouch and the smile he gave her was a leer of invitation, incongruent with his next words. "Dunno your business and not getting in the middle of it, but can give you a couple names, places to go. You bring trouble to my contacts, I bring trouble to you, got it?"
She froze for a moment. Then she nodded slightly, and brought her lips to his ear once more. "I promise it's for a good cause. Please."
Gavrien snorted his derision. "Don't give a damn about your cause," he muttered in response as he turned, jerking his head in an indication to follow. There in the backroom, beyond the ears of the pub's motley patrons, he told her what she needed to know. Juspera, her heart still pounding, let the directions slip from her mind and clung only to the easiest things to remember: the scorpion, and the name.
The next morning she crept through South Haven, her head swiveling, on alert. She was a creature of alleys and streets; but these were not her streets, not her alleys. It was toward the eastern end of the Crooked Way that she finally she spotted the scorpion, painted above a yawning open doorway. She stepped in. The smith was at the anvil; he was a small but powerfully-built Human, dark hair shaved on the sides of his head, muscle rippling along his arm as he swung the hammer. On a table nearby stood finished pieces: curious small blades with severe curves or grim-looking spikes, the purposes of which she declined to imagine.
At a pause in the din she called out, "Sol!" The smith turned and fixed her with startling violet-green eyes in a sooty, delicate-featured face, and Juspera realized she was in fact looking at a woman. After an astonished pause, she took a breath and explained the work she wanted done, the price she was willing to pay. The woman laughed.
"You're out of your mind, Dhe'nar," she snorted. "Triple your offer and I'd consider it."
Juspera squinted and tried to calculate how much silver was left from the firewood donations, but then, confused, she simply nodded. She'd spend her own coin if she had to. "I'll toss in another hundred thousand if you can have the order ready for me in a sealed crate by midnight," she said. The smith grunted and turned immediately back to her work. Uneasy, Juspera backed out. She would have to trust Gavrien's instincts.
She made her way to the fletcher's next, where she scanned the selection of paintsticks behind the counter. With a frown, she asked the elderly Sylvan attendant whether they had any orange ones in back. He went to check. As soon as he was out of sight she heaved herself up and over the counter, snatching a black paintstick and darting out the door.
Paper. She needed paper, a large sheet. She asked at the scrivener's, browsed the pawnshop for scrolls. Nothing suited. She was walking back down Triton Road when the elegant facade of the library caught her eye, and she entered.
"Do you have any books of maps?" she asked at the desk.
"Of course," said the librarian, a demure auburn-haired woman with a kind smile. "Let me show you."
"I'd like to see a map of the Empire that's really big. Really detailed I mean."
"Are you looking for modern or historic maps?" The woman put her hand on a glass case, inside which was a sizable tome bound in decomposing leather. It was longer than her arm. "We have this remarkable volume from the reign of Emperor Krellove Chandrennin. It's five hundred years old and shows the Empire as it existed then, barony by barony, all in exquisite detail."
Juspera nodded vigorously to the woman, who smiled.
"Let me take it out for you. You'll need to keep your gloves on when handling it, please."
"Oh, I always keep my gloves on."
The woman carefully laid the volume on a table, opening it to expose a gloriously illustrated map of old Tamzyrr. Every side street and building was detailed, down to the last hovel; the titles and legends were outlined in gilt. The librarian stepped back and folded her hands, watching Juspera.
Juspera fidgeted. She pretended to study the map. The woman was still there, smiling pleasantly. Humming under her breath, Juspera reached a deft hand into her pocket for a gold ring. Then she stretched down to scratch her shin, setting the ring on the ground just before her toe. Humming louder now, still scanning the map, she kicked her leg out, sending the ring shooting across the floor to carom loudly between some bookshelves on the other side of the room.
The librarian startled. "Oh, dear," she said. "Let me just check on that noise. I hope it's not the rat again..." Gathering her skirts, she hurried in the direction of the ring.
Juspera swiftly drew her dagger and sliced down the side of the map, tight against the binding, then lifted it, folding it into squares as the gilt flaked and came off. She shoved the map in her pocket and and brushed the flecks of gilt from the table, then turned the volume to another map as the librarian returned. "Thank you, I'm done," she said, and stood, moving quickly to the door.
It was a tense walk back to the Landing. At Aspis, she curled up on the couch and closed her eyes, slipping immediately into a fitful nap.
The last of the day's sunlight slanted through the leaves shading the patio where she sat with a slender Elf whose face was hidden under a cowl, save for misty grey eyes and a glint of silver hair.
"That might be enough information about Socius," Juspera said quietly, then leaned in. "Did you bring the stuff for my project?"
The Elf hesitated for a moment and then nodded. Reaching into her robe, she retrieved a small jar of tar-like black salve, which she placed carefully on the table, followed by a crucible and several varicolored refraction lenses. "I'm not going to ask what you want these for but please promise me that no one will get hurt?"
Juspera swept the items into her satchel and stood. "I promise. Though... I can't promise you'll get these things back. And I'm sorry, I've got to meet another friend. At least I think she's a friend."
Her companion nodded. With a wistful look behind her, Juspera exited the cafe, transporting back to the Landing. She couldn't speak a peep of her project; she knew how eagerly that information would be mined if things went south. Still, she needed to lean on others, at least a little. She'd drag in anyone she had to to get this thing done. Anyone but Xanthium.
She sidled into the alley off the town square, exhaling as the false night from the buildings on either side enveloped her. Then she felt a stir of air; she turned, catching a flash of green in the glow from a streetside lantern. The figure silhouetted before her was slight, shorter even than Juspera herself.
Juspera grinned. "You're early. Did you find some?"
The melodic, slightly accented voice seemed to float in the evening air. "I did, it is no trouble at all." Her head tilted down slightly as she gazed at the carefully wrapped package. "Do you think this will be enough? And do you need any other supplies?"
Juspera's grin widened. "This is it for now. But I never know what I'll need. Maybe we can stay in touch." As she took the package and slipped it into her satchel, though, her grin faded. "I've got another person to hunt down, then I have a delivery to pick up. I hope."
The air stirred slightly with the gentle flutter of wings. "Do keep in touch, though I know nothing of tonight." A stray beam of light caught the faint twinkle in the hazel eyes. "Travel safely."
Dipping into a hasty curtsy, Juspera stepped out of the alley and turned her bracelet again, launching herself back to Mist Harbor. Her head spun; it seemed like days ago that she'd been in Solhaven. But there was something she still desperately needed, a piece without which the whole project would fail.
When she walked into Greth's, her spirits lifted to see what she was hoping to see: there at the bar sat a tall Sylvan, red hair cascading down her back, aquamarine patterning gracing her neck and face. But she was slumped in discouragement. The two redheads chatted quietly for a while about the recent attack before moving to other subjects.
"Have you been talking to the shopkeepers, by any chance?" asked Juspera.
"I have actually," responded the other woman. "How can I help?"
Juspera grinned. "I need somebody who's a gossip. Any ideas?"
An immediate nod. "I have the perfect somebody." Her friend snickered. "She doesn't care for me much... but the woman never takes a breath."
Juspera grabbed the other's shoulders in excitement. "Really?"
She nodded. "Come with me a moment?"
They passed through the dark streets to a blue stucco building with daisy-patterned curtains.
"Miss Daisy. She knows everything about everything."
"What time does she open?"
"She's always open, but she herself doesn't come in until early afternoon I think?"
Juspera winced, but then nodded. It would have to be in daylight. "All right. I can do this." She turned to her friend. "Thank you so much. You are the final piece that's going to make this thing work. Well, not counting Miss Daisy."
The two embraced and then it was another turn of the bracelet, another gut-wrenching twist. It was almost time. Juspera visited the bank, then made the long slog to Solhaven in the dark. She paced quickly through its streets, taking a deep breath before entering the Crooked Way. She found the place more easily this time. A light was on inside.
When she entered, the smith barely nodded to her. Juspera handed over the sack of coin, its weight almost too much to hold with one arm. In response, the woman turned and pushed a wooden crate at her with a boot-clad foot. Juspera quickly shouldered the crate and stepped out. It took most of the distance back to the Landing for her stomach to unclench.
That night in Aspis, she knelt on the hardwood floor and took out the neat package she'd been handed in the alley. She took a peek to confirm its contents, then used the black paintstick to write a single word on the package in her best handwriting. After that, she unfolded the map and spread it in front of her. Then she flipped it over. She began to sketch shapes on the back side, then drew her dagger and cut out each one. Laying the perforated map over one side of the crate, she carefully colored in each cutout with the paintstick, and then stood and tossed the map in the fire. The floor where she'd been kneeling was scored with a couple dozen fine lines and littered with strips of gilt-dusted vellum, but she didn't care. It was almost done. Collapsing on the couch, she drifted into another restless sleep.
The following day, she teleported back to Mist Harbor, crate on her shoulder and an adze in the other hand. She walked to the little stucco building as quickly as she dared, her eyes flicking to either side, on the lookout for passersby. She ducked into an alley as someone drew close, then she slipped out and set the crate down right in front of the building. She set the blade of the adze into the gap between the crate and its lid, and jerked.
She jerked again. It wouldn't open. Taking another quick glance around her and cursing, she grabbed the crate lid with her free hand, then screamed another curse when a splinter went nearly knuckle-deep into her thumb. Without stopping to remove the splinter, she began to smash at the crate in a cacophonous fury until it split open, spilling its contents into the street. Juspera sucked in an awed breath. The blacksmith had done exactly what she'd asked. It was even better than she'd imagined.
The damaged crate lay much as if it had just fallen from a cart and smashed there. Juspera reached quickly into her satchel and drew out the alchemical supplies she'd been given, dropping them on the mess. On top of that she threw the little package. Then she withdrew to the alley across the street, to wait.
Ten long minutes later, she held her breath to see a dowdy woman shuffle into view and head for the stucco building. The woman stopped when she came to the crate in her way, staring down at it. Juspera watched the woman's gaze take in the the crucible, the colored refractory lenses, the jar of mysterious black salve; the neatly-wrapped package, labeled now with the word LANCETS; and, beneath them, the pile of wrought iron. The jumbled iron circles must have been a puzzling curiosity. They looked almost exactly like collars and manacles, except they were far too small: they wouldn't have fit anyone larger than a halfling, or a child.
She watched Miss Daisy blink, dumbfounded, then glance at the side of the crate. In boldest black were stenciled there the words: PROPERTY OF THE FLOCK.
The woman stared another moment, and then her jaw began to slowly drop. Juspera's hand went to her bracelet to give it a swift turn, and disorientation took her -- but not before she heard Miss Daisy begin to screech for her neighbors to come see.
Tithes and Death (Player Vignette) (01/15/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by SMITHS89 on 01/15/2020 at 06:04 PM CST.|
|She moved through the commons that morning and noted it was empty. Far different from yesterday, she felt eyes on her and turned her head to see it was someone staring at her through a window in a shop. It was a lady there gazing at her with red, tear-stained eyes before turning away. Akenna frowned, and continued to the beach, Phalyn trotting next to her. She heard an intense argument, three men, she noted, one shouting in defiance about tithe. Her face turned towards the sound, and not paying attention to what was in front of her, she almost ran into a slight figure in an avian mask. “Hello there, Defender.” It sneered at her. “Your tithe? I don’t believe we’ve collected from you yet.”
“Phalyn, I need you to deliver a letter for me.”
Clipped Wings - Quick Scenes and Common Knowledge (GM Forum Post (01/15/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by GS4-QUILIC on 01/15/2020 at 06:22 PM CST.|
|Sitting by the pool on the Green, she slowly drew a quiet melody from her harp. Humming in time with the progression, she closed her eyes. Opening them again after a moment, she blushed slightly, her mind wandering. Shaking her head, she put the harp down and picked up a goblet of wine.
After taking a sip she thought to herself, "Who would be the most receptive to what I have to say? Maybe the she wolf? Or the fox?"
Pausing, she tentatively added a few words to the melody she was humming. Nodding her head, she picked up a journal and jotted down her creation. "I am not sure I understand it all. So many names that are unfamiliar. The she wolf... or the fox?" Sipping her wine once more before setting it aside, she took a clean parchment and quill and began to write.
I will not mince words with you, as it is not my way, and I value your loyalty far too much. What occurred last night will not be tolerated, and I swear to you on my father's name, justice will be served.
I ask that you remain steadfast for but a short while longer. Hold to the faith you have shown me in the past, and I will prove worthy of it once more.
I will brook no harm against the townsfolk, and for every harm they have endured, the inflictors of that harm will pay... and dearly. This I swear to you.
To those who knew her, even in passing, Selbi's mood was cause for grave concern. She was quiet. Her voice was cold when she spoke, and the biting tongue which she had become so famous for was largely absent. She was focused, and could spare hardly a word for any who approached her... not that many dared, given her mood. Selbi rummaged through her desk for a small item, tucked it into a pocket, then made her way out the door, locking it behind her once more. She glanced at a guard passing by, and with a minimum of terse words, instructed him to ensure that the door did not get opened until her return. Then she stalked away, her brow furrowed, and her small feet making unreasonably loud noises with each footfall.
Selbi was livid, and someone was going to pay, the guard thought. A shiver ran down his back at the thought, and he wrenched his gaze away, hoping someone else would relieve him before she returned.
OK! So, there's a lot going on, and in the interest of determining what's meant to be "common knowledge", here you go. For clarity, these are all things that are widely known enough that every resident of the Isle would be talking about it basically nonstop. These are THE topics of discussion:
- The Flock is in control of Mist Harbor, with Selbi at their head.
- The Flock have begun demanding tithes of all the residents. Food and supplies are demanded, but coin will suffice if there is not enough food. The collectors are not gentle or kind in their efforts.
- There are individuals wearing lilies around town, and these are the scariest ones. When they take notice of someone, that 'someone' tends to go missing shortly thereafter. They do not act, as far as anyone has seen.
- The Flock took the orphans out of Greth's kitchen by main force, severely injuring Penre, and roughing up Greth himself. The Flock has them somewhere, but swears that the children are safe.
- People have been going missing. A few here and there, but last night (Tuesday the 14th), there appears to have been a "roundup" of sorts. A noticeable number of people were apparently spirited away in the dark of night, perhaps as many as twenty, and people are scared and angry. Everyone assumes it was the Flock, but nobody seems to have any proof.
- The Flock are angry about the killing of a number of their guards. The "killers" are widely unknown, but there is common knowledge that SOMEONE... or a group of "someones" is/are fighting back against the Flock. Public Opinion about this is somewhat split, with some supporting the resistance effort (quietly), and others not wishing to make things worse.
- Some of the merchants in town have publicly declared that they will not pay taxes to the Flock. Everyone in town is waiting to see what will come of that stance, if anything, but everyone knows it's happening.
- Socius is out there somewhere, and watching over the town. Whispers of his presence are passed around, always someone with a semi-fantastical story that may or may not be rumor, but his presence is commonly accepted. Everyone feels that it's only a matter of time before he "does something". Some people talk about individuals who have joined him in an effort to help the town, but they do so very quietly, so as not to tempt the Flock into violence.
If anyone can think of anything that should be on the list (remember, this is what everyone on FWI should theoretically know all about), just drop me a note and I'll update it. Thanks again to you all for playing along!
Clipped Wings - Finit - Things Known and Unknown (01/29/2020)
|Originally posted on the official forums by GS4-QUILIC on 01/29/2020 10:16 AM CST.|
|Greth polished the bar, though he was fully aware that all he was accomplishing was staying busy. He couldn't wrap his head around it all, but that wasn't an unfamiliar sensation for him. He wasn't a smart man, and he was comfortable with that fact. But this time... he just wasn't sure what to make of it all.
Selbi... The Flock... that 'Essit' girl... and Socius. Greth felt a quiver of fear run through him at the thought of the man. He'd gotten used to Socius always being around, always nearby. Greth heard more whispers than most, and he'd heard what the man had been doing while Selbi's game had played out. Food and coins being distributed in the dead of night, beatings diverted... and turned on the attackers tenfold. Socius had been tireless, and the townsfolk had known it, and it had given them a sense of hope.
It had done the same for Greth. There was no denying Socius had been a lunatic, Greth thought. The man had committed cold-blooded atrocities time and again, and Greth wasn't sure the man was even capable of "feeling" the same way as everyone else. But he'd been the town's lunatic. It's always easier to appreciate a furious grizzly bear when you're the one she's protecting, after all.
And now he was gone... and the town was... Greth couldn't finish the thought. There was just too much uncertainty, in his mind. Selbi gone, Socius dead, Ilsola back in control... He supposed things would just die down to their previous levels of comfort, before all the craziness has started up. But that's not what his gut told him.
He stuck the rag in a pocket and made his way to the small door behind the bar. He knocked once in forewarning, then let himself in. The kitchen was cramped, but not nearly as much as it had been just a few days prior. More of the cots were empty, he noted, and it was mainly the littler ones who were left. Except for the mama hen, he noted with a slight grin.
The giantman girl put her hands on her hips and growled at Greth.
"What's so funny?!" she demanded.
Greth put his hands up in a placating manner before he replied.
"Just checkin' to make sure everything's OK. Penre will be back in a day or two, I'm told, an' I wanna make sure ye lot are in good shape afore he gets here."
The girl's expression didn't decrease in intensity the slightest bit, but her voice came out several degrees warmer than it had been initially.
"We're fine. Thank you for the food this morning."
Greth nodded amiably, then noted, as casually as he could, "Looks like a few more left?"
The girl turned her intense gaze away from him to note the empty cots, then she nodded slowly.
"Left in the night, like the others. I've seen a couple of them around, and they say they're staying safe... they just don't take well to charity."
Greth grunted, then replied, "I kin appreciate that, I s'pose. They know they always got a place here, right?"
The girl's gaze was full of derision now as she regarded the man.
"You've only said it twelve times. In the last two days. I think we got the message."
Greth lifted his hands once more, then backed through the door slowly, his tone calm and even.
"Jus' checkin'. If y'all need anything, ye just let me know."
As he softly closed the door, he couldn't stop the grin from sliding across his face.
She twitched slightly and groaned, the movement sending waves of agony up her side. Her shackled hands remained locked to the blackened iron ring overhead, and her toes barely grazed the stone floor below as she twitched. One eye was swollen completely shut, but the other's eyelid had been cut away so she could still see.
They wanted her to see, after all. That was part of it.
She was to be a warning, they had said. They wanted tales of her punishment to border on the legendary... to prevent any from choosing the same path. And so they kept her alive, but only barely. There wasn't a whole lot left to her, she knew. They'd taken pieces, and done their utmost to make sure it had hurt as much as possible.
Despite the lack of teeth... she grinned.
The tremors were constant now, and she could feel them throughout her shattered body. The sickness was coming for her, and would release her long before they wished her to depart. They were powerless, in other words, and so she grinned as they came for her once more.
Hours later, as best she could guess, the tremors redoubled, and she felt them disrupting the thready beating of her heart. The sensation made her gasp, and her breathing became suddenly ragged. None of her tormentors were in evidence to witness it, and she breathed a shaky sigh of relief as numbness spread through her limbs.
As Selbi's eyes began to roll back in her head, her final thought was a lament for the terrible cost of her soul, and her final whisper was one of heartfelt thanks.
The terrain was unfamiliar, but then they all were. Instinct was all that remained, and in this, the figure was nothing more than a wild thing. It slept, it hunted, it ate, and it hid. What more was there, after all? It watched as a small herd of roltons was driven by, a shepherd hot on their hooves, and the figure tensed. It was time to hunt once more.
So familiar... and yet completely unfamiliar at the same time. She walked the corridors of Hale Hall, and she visited the shops, and her feet remembered every step. This was her home, but so much had transpired that it felt... alien somehow. The air had changed, though the mist remained, as always. The tropical breezes were just as sweet as they had always been, and she still took the same simple pleasures in dipping her toes into the water and listening to the cry of the birds. But there was no mistaking it... things were changed, now and forever.
She'd listened to Selbi closely, and taken many notes, but it was still hard to digest. Selbi had been, somehow, working on behalf of the town the whole time. She'd double-crossed the Flock, ruthless and cold in her machinations in a way that was just... wrong. And Socius... the enigmatic man had been a party to it all. It seemed too much to take in, but the evidence of her own eyes had confirmed the story. The Flock members were wandering around the town, nasty scars in clear evidence, and though their gazes weren't exactly pleasant... there had been no mischief from them either.
The guard had been restored, such as it was. She sighed a little at the thought of that imbecile in charge, but Selbi had assured her... things would be dying back down now, and the idiot at least had experience enough. And if greater threats should arise, there was the Militia. She shifted uncomfortably at the thought, but Selbi had assured her that the Militia members... and the former "Defenders"... were as stalwart as could be desired, and had proven time and again their ability to stand fast and defend the Isle when there was a need.
Her feet carried her to the cemetery while her mind drifted, and she blinked in surprise to find herself standing before the obelisk. She read the words again, and carefully gathered up the flowers that had been left into a small bouquet that she laid atop the nearby pedestal. She stared at the cliff face, her gaze distant, and then she began to speak.
"You terrified me, you know. You had a savagery of purpose that I could never hope to understand... but none could doubt your heart. You will be missed, dearly."
Lady Ilsola turned and left the cemetery, heading back to Hale Hall and the mountain of paperwork that awaited her. She would adjust to the changes in time, she knew. She just hoped she would be up to the next challenge, whenever it came.
Another storyline come and gone, and once again, I simply don't have the words to thank you all properly for bringing this story to life. Your commitment and enthusiasm made it magical, as always, and I couldn't be more grateful for you all. As always, I won't name names, out of a certainty that I would overlook someone, and that would be a travesty.
There are two mysteries in the above post. One blatant, one subtle. I'll leave you to play with them as you like. When we get rolling again... they may take on a certain relevance.
Thank you again, Q