Nicholas and Unafe,
The Aristocrat and the Mystic:
Nicholas Tyrel's Nisroch town house, Gozran 10th, 4:15pm
Just a day ago when Unafe arrived in Nidal (by boat at the busy Nisroch docks) she was already suffering from a headache, the sweats, and a terrible, enduring chill. None of her own divine magic worked to get rid of it, though she could at times ease the suffering. Still, desperate to pursue the nagging feeling at the back of her mind, she pressed into Nidal alone. Nisroch, like most of the country it's in, is a cold and dark place. No music or art is tolerated here, no appreciation of beauty. There is no dancing, and there is very little beyond to-the-point businessmen, shadowy mystics, and grey featureless buildings.
No surprise that Unafe's exhausted form ended up in a darkened alley, her clothes sweat through and her limbs largely unable to lift her body. It was lucky that the first person with any intent to happen upon her was Nicholas Tyrel, a minor aristocrat and enforcer for the Umbral Court. Nicholas, who was possessed of a basic concern for other human beings that the majority of his countrymen did not share, knew that even the hospitals in the area were to place to be if you had no connections, and with an arm under hers, he helped her into his small but well-appointed townhouse just a few blocks from the alley where she had collapsed. There she lay, for just over twelve hours, safe in his guest bedroom.
At Nicholas' previous meeting of the Scions of Dou-Bral, they had tentatively planned a meeting for the 10th, for prayer, and for some solidarity. However, the customary signal that the church is available for some secret and illegal prayer did not come this morning - this is not cause for alarm on its own. This happens frequently, because other Kuthites often with to use the church space in which the Scions pray. However, it does mean that while he was expecting evening plans, Nicholas has the evening free. He is then home when he hears a sudden clang from above.
Startled, you flail to wakefulness, rolling off of a soft bed and onto a hardwood floor in a small guest bedroom. Now that you are awake in the country of your destination, you can feel a stronger connection to your second heart than you ever have before, but it still has not awakened within you.
You have some connection to visions granted by your Ancestor Spirit, and just felt a connection to him. Each day, once per day, you can make a DC 20 Will save. This allows you to connect momentarily with your Ancestor Spirit, gleaning some knowledge or clues from it.
Nicholas jumps to his feet when he hears the loud thump on his second floor, his finely tuned and slightly paranoid reflexes having him ready for anything. He relaxes as he realizes that his guest must have woken up. He absently tucks his dagger under his robes, just in case, and heads upstairs. He knocks on the door of the guest room, not wanting to startle the odd woman he found in the streets. "Good evening," he says through the door.
Cai'nan and Osborne,
The Soldier and the Spy:
Osborne Finklethorpe's apartment and storefront, Nisroch, 4:25pm
Osborne has been operating a storefront in Nisroch for a few months now in anticipation of the Kazavon operation, selling... whatever it is that gnomes do. His apartment, a small three-room affair directly above his retail space, was chosen because of its cozy size and unexpected defendability and security. He rents the whole building from a large rental conglomerate rather than from a single landlord because it arouses less individual suspicion. Here, Osborne has quietly been living, avoiding colorful clothing, visiting nice restaurants, and making a steady (if uninspiring) living.
Cai'nan was contacted in person during his last job in Nirmathas, by a young (slightly unsettling and emotionless) aasimar woman named Lachesis, and given enough advance pay to cover several needed upgrades to his gear, as well as instructions to make an overland journey to Nidal. He needed to cross the Menador Mountains, and with the help of a Book Club guide and travel companion (an Ulfen ranger and survivalist named Garrett), avoid any detection from Nidal's border patrol. Garrett took his leave of Cai'nan during the crossing into Nidal proper, creating a diversion long enough for Cai'nan to slip into the country and use a small boat (painted dark and disguised as driftwood, not hydrodynamic but ever so slightly magical so that it would drift in just the right direction) to drift closer to Nisroch.
There, Osborne met Cai'nan, and under cover of invisibility the pair retreated to Osborne's apartment. Once inside the city, suspicion was allayed - it was difficult for unknown agents to enter and leave, but very few glances were spared random humans simply going about their business. Cai'nan's entrance to Nidal was just a few days ago, barely in time for the sending that came for them from the organization's leader, the paladin Gallanda.
The message, relayed to them telepathically while they were simply having a meal together, was: 'Next step found. Connection to Kazavon in Mwangi Expanse. Possible asset Nicholas Tyrel sheltering person of interest. Find and investigate possible leads originating from asset.'
I hate this place.
It was a simple fact that Cai'nan had concluded just two days since he arrived. Everything was drab. The people, the colors, the houses, the food. Nothing embraced the life and glory so readily found, well, Cai'nan was pretty sure everywhere else.
It was then that the sensation of magic washed over him, causing a chill to run down his spine. As the message was delivered, he sat his fork and knife down to focus. Once complete, he takes a drink from his tankard and looks to his host.
"Mwangi Expanse? What sort of lead would this person have about something halfway across the world? And do you know this Tyrel fellow?" he asks the gnome.
Sitting to eat, Osborne covers himself with a fine monogrammed cloth napkin. Protecting his fine, if rather drab clothing. Grumbling to himself about the 'palette of shadows' used in the textiles in this gloomy country, he gazes down at his food. A delicate wine-braised pork shank sat on the plate before him, along with a nice glass of vintage Sealord Wine next to it. At least decent food can be had for the right price, he thinks with an inaudible harrumph.
Osborne jumps as the sending begins--it never seemed to give him any warning--and shudders visibly when the words 'Mawangi Expanse' come through. They had tried to send him to that accursed steaming wilderness once before, and he had only lasted a few days before he bribed one of the other Book Club members to finish the task. There was no way he was going to be wandering around some endless expanse of swamp--a place without proper accommodations, good food and high quality alcohol. Just the mention of it sent him into a cold sweat, though thankfully it became quickly obvious that they hadn't suddenly decided to send him to that Abadar-forsaken place again.
He breathes a sigh of relief before answering Cai'nan, his guest these past few months. "I can hardly imagine! But since whomever this 'Tyrel' person is here and not in Mwangi, I am perfectly happy to try to try and help find him." Slate, obviously having sensed his discomfort only moments earlier, rubs up against his leg and lets forth a reassuring 'Meow'. "Oh shush, Slate. You're very supportive when I have food, but nowhere to be found when something bad happens and I'm without it!" he says before tossing a chunk of his pork down to the cat.
Turning back to his guest, he continues. "I suppose we should set about getting some information about this fellow so we can arrange a meeting."
After weeks at sea, Unafe stepped off the boat onto steady--yet utterly foreign--ground. Around her were pale joyless Avistani in dark, drab clothes. All seemed intent on some business. Some looked at her and gasped, while others pointedly glanced away and walked in the other direction. Summoning her courage, she wrapped her furs around her to fend off the cold and clinging shadows, and started to walk the streets.
Namane, you led me into this fearsome land. Why? These busy, worried Avistani look and dress like those pillagers who attacked us...who caused the Goapeke to scatter and flee...who came hunting for the Bound Blade...and who I failed to stop. Did you send me here to torment me? To know the fullness of our people’s defeat?
As she walked, her fever rose. She couldn’t tell how much time had passed, but she knew she needed to rest. She turned down an alleyway--looking for a place where she could sit undisturbed--and squatted down, her back against a damp wooden wall. Unafe attempted another healing spell, but it did nothing to alleviate her exhaustion and chills. With a shiver, she decided, I’ll close my eyes for a moment then. Just a moment, to gather my strength…
Now, Gozran 10th, late afternoon
Unafe tossed and turned feverishly, fading in and out of consciousness. Suddenly a voice rang out in her head: Awaken, young one. You have work to do.
With a start she bolted upright--and then fell to the floor with a loud thud. “He aha? He aha te mea te reira? Ko e koutou, Namane!?” She called out, her voice strained with anxiety. What? What is it? Is that you, Namane? Unafe was sure there was more to hear, but suddenly all she could hear were her own blaring doubts and self-recrimination.
”Na e te katoa! Te mea ke atu!?”, she sobs. So that’s all! Nothing else!?
Unafe pauses to collect her breath, and suddenly the dream world fades from her eyes and she notices her surroundings. I’m inside some kind of building. Some bedroom, it seems. How? What happened?
At the sound of someone greeting her through the door in Taldan, she recalls foggily, Did some pale Avistani find me on the street? Yes, and he guided me here, shouldering some of my weight.
Summoning her courage, she replies in the Taldan tongue (which Old Aye had taught her, and which still felt strange in her mouth, despite using it a good deal as she crossed the Sea), ”Is it evening? I don’t know how long I’ve slept. Please come in.”
When the door opens, Unafe is sitting on the floor: a gangly seventeen year old with short hair and dark walnut skin. She is still dressed in the bright orange-and-yellow robes she arrived in, with saurian teeth sown into the seams. The grey-white stripes painted on her face are smudged and flaking. Without rising, she nods and says, ”I am Unafe Rua-Ngakau. Unafe Two-Hearted, in your Taldan tongue. You...you have taken me into your home, have you not? That is a mahi atawhai. A kindness. Thank you. Who are you? Why have you given me hospitality in this cold land?”
Will: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (1) + 11 = 12
Nicholas enters the room and shut the door behind him. He's a pale man, like many in Nidal, and a bit skinny, though his height only emphasizes his slim frame more. His raven hair is short and slicked back, and his eyes are even a pale greyish color, yet they seem to reflect light like a cat. He wears a jet black outfit somewhere between a robe and a tunic that swirls around his slightly and casts odd shadows on the ground as he walks.
"You've slept away most of the day by now," he says gently. "And you've been insensate for hours. I was starting to fear that I may have to beg a friend of mine to come tend to your illness." He offers her a hand to help her up off the floor, causing one of his sleeves to ride up slightly. His palm is marked with a complex tattoo of a closed eye surrounded by intricate runes in purple, blue and black and another tattoo in a similar style is just barely visible on his wrist, though the details can't be made out clearly. "My name is Nicholas Tyrel, but you can just call me Nick if that's easier for you. I'm nothing more than a minor functionary around these parts, but I couldn't leave someone to die of exposure in a back alley."
Cai'nan nods, "Very well. I will do my best to not cause any trouble for you. Will I look out of place carrying my weapon?" he asks, pointing to the elegant glaive leaned against the table.
Unafe takes the tattooed man's hand and rises to her feet. "Thank you, Nicholas."
As she rises, a two-foot long obviously predatory bipedal dinosaur peeks out from her robes. It’s hide is covered in copper feathers with a spray of bright blue under it’s chin. It stands just over 12” at the shoulder on powerful legs, and needle-like teeth are visible between it’s gums. "This is Tuturatanga. She's smiling. That means she likes you."
The shaman takes a moment to conjure water into her cup, and takes a drink. Then she looks Nicholas in the face for several long moments.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (15) + 12 = 27
"I...I don't know who or what to trust right now, but you seem like an honorable man."
She brushes off her robe and sighs. "I am alone in a hostile land. You are the closest I have to a friend on this entire continent, so I might as well trust you. My people have been attacked. Our assailants were Avistani, possibly from this land. They came for a terrible artifact that we--that I--was charged with protecting. I have to assume they have it now. Do you..." her eyes have a pained, pleading look, "Do you know where I could turn? I am bound to my Ancestors to set things right. My dreams have led me to your land, and now to you.
"Minor Functionary Nicholas Tyrell, will you help me?"
To his credit, Nicholas takes the dinosaur appearing in stride. "He's nicer than some of my colleagues' familiars," he says, carefully holding out a hand to the beast like one might greet a cat. "I know a man with an augur kyton that's... less than friendly."
He his face goes level and a bit grim as her tone shifts. "I'm not certain that I'm what you might call honorable, but I try to practice basic human decency, even when many of my countrymen do not. And I cannot leave you to wander the streets on some quest without the slightest clue where you're going." A small, more natural, smile momentarily turns his lips up. Perhaps he shouldn't have given a title to someone with a different first language. "I will do my best to find you aid, or provide it myself if it's possible. But I need to know the details of your mission if I am to do so." He gestures to the door. "Would you like some dinner while we talk? It's just a stew and biscuits I'm afraid, but I'm sure you could use something to regain your strength."
Tuturatanga turns her head to the side curiously at the offered hand, and then sniffs it.
Unafe holds her breath as she listens: trying to gauge the meaning of this stranger who has taken her in off the street, offered her manaaki.
Will my path forward be revealed through this stranger? Will I finally understand why things have gone so terribly wrong, and what I am meant to do?.
The mention of stew makes her realize just how long it's been since she's eaten. Nodding eagerly, she agrees, "Stew would be most welcome."
Unafe follows Nick through his house silently, taking in all the odd, foreign details. She tears into the biscuits and stew eagerly. Feeling emboldened as her belly fills, Unafe starts to respond to Nicholas' question about her mission. With pride in her voice, she declares, "I am a shaman of the Goapeke, the Dwellers With the Saurians. I was born and raised to protect my people, and to keep the artifact we call the Bound Blade from being used for evil. I have great gifts, great power. The prophecies declare that I am Two-Hearted, and that I will...I would..."
...And suddenly her pride vanishes, and she cleaves to his arm, burying her face in his shoulder. Amidst sobs, she says, "Only...only my Ancestor Heart should have came. It never did. And now...now I've failed my people and my ancestors and Shimye-Magalla. And the visions...Old Aye always seemed to know how to read the tohu, the portents, but I...I don't know. I just don't know!!"
Nicholas nods and gestures for her to follow as he takes her downstairs. The house is dark and almost depressingly barren. Nothing decorates the grey walls, not even windows for the most part, leaving the halls to feel empty and confining at the same time. Oddly, two statues sit on either side of the staircase as they descend to the ground level: one a woman carved to be beautiful and sensual, but with an expression of utter horror and loss on her face, the other a hideously disfigured man who looks almost rapturous.
Nick serves a sizable meal for both of them, then sits next to the girl as she begins her story. He eats slowly, far more interested in her tale than the food in front of him. He flinches slightly as she suddenly clings to him, tears in her eyes, then puts a hand on her shoulder and tries to pat it comfortingly. "For what it's worth, I understand. I was born with the ability to use shadow magic. In these lands, it's considered one of the greatest gifts of our god to be born with this power. I've been expected to excel, to do great things, since I was old enough to cast my first spells. It's not easy to live up to those kinds of expectations, and you're still far too young to have that weight on your shoulders." He sighs. "But this Bound Blade... I've heard of the item of which you speak, in ancient legends. It's originator is somewhere between a horror story and a national hero here. If someone wanted it, that can't be good..."
Unafe feels miles better than she did just earlier in the day. It seems her sickness, or whatever it was, has totally dissipated. However, a loud noise interrupts Nicholas and Unafe's nice dinner. A frantic and heavy knocking comes at Nicholas' door - six knocks. Six more come shortly after, and then a woman's voice cries "Nicholas! Let me in."
Osborne and Cai'nan know that it isn't illegal to carry a weapon in Nisroch. It might attract some unwanted glances at Cai'nan for sure, but nobody would accost him for it. However, curfew draws near. Though the pair have operated during the night in the past, it is important to note that being out after sundown is illegal, and draws sentences from hefty fines and immediate escort back home to death, depending on the suspicion of your activities. The Shrouded Ones, an order of monks who keep order in Nisroch, are unforgiving.
Cai'nan and Osborne have operated at night, though, and moving outside of the law removes concerns about weapons and about curfew. It's not impossible to avoid the guards.
Beyond that, Osborne has a small filing system in his home of all of the local assets. Osborne's predecessor, a Book Club member who set up the Nidal operation but was caught by the Shroud and killed, created it. Nicholas Tyrel has a file. It says that he is a minor functionary, part of the Umbral Court. It also says that he belongs to a church called the Scions of Dou-Bral, a heretical subsect of Zon-Kuthon worship that believe the diety can be returned to his old, non-horrifying portfolio. It gives the address of his townhouse and also his church.
Cierno and Salla,
Spawn of the Profane
'The Streets of Nisroch, Dusk'
At the sun drops ever lower and night draws near, Salla and Cierno drop more into their native element. Their ability to see in the dark and their natural sneak talent makes them both prime candidates for active roles in the Nidal mission. A spy organization requires a lot of information, and some of that information cannot be had from operating inside the law. Patrols must be stalked. Aristocrats are to be watched. Enemy operations need tabs kept on them. So the pair makes a habit of moving unseen in the night, following the shadowy agents of Nidal's security force, keeping track of those who move openly in the night. Many horrors have been witnessed by the air in recent weeks - not horrors of action, but even Nisroch sees creatures such as vampires, devourers, shadow-plane outsiders, and other such monsters walk the streets. Nisroch's guard force - a muted force of monks - go about their dirty work rooting out extremists in the night. And they are watched all the while by Cierno and Salla, who wait for a opportunity for them and their allies to strike.
It seems that one of those possible opportunities has come. Very close to dusk, a Kuthite priest entered one of the smaller temples in the city, quickly followed surreptitiously by about a half-dozen other individuals. The pair know this congregation to be a small sub-sect of the Kuthite faith that doesn't conform entirely to the expectations of the masses, and so they meet in secret. They also know that a man - an unknown man whom neither of them recognize but both know that he is no resident of Nisroch - is taking shelter within the church tonight.
Waiting in a small second-story apartment across the street from the church (its occupant has one of the few jobs with a permit to be out at night - he is a city custodian. Out of night of the city's residents, he and several dozen other men and women clean the city's streets) the pair see the Silent Shroud move in towards the church. They slide across the ground with creepy speed, moving to surround the church's several entrances. The coincidence is too great. This church has been operating for years, and now - with the apperance of this stranger, the guard moves in? He must be important.
Something is afoot, and these two are in a prime position to find out what. But what will they do?
Nicholas jumps as someone pounds on his front door. "What the... who would be here at this hour? Excuse me a moment." He hurries to the front and opens the door a crack to peek out. "Yes, what is it?"
Taking a bit of liberty since the Safehouse ability grants a fairly sizable secret lair (60x60x60') for the Vigilante.
Osborne finishes his meal, taking time to savor every bite. There was no sense in rushing, after all. After nightfall was the best time to move around, without a doubt. Certainly the penalties were stiffer, but the ability to not have witnesses was essential, as people in these parts were anything but trustworthy, especially when it came to questions from The Shrouded Ones. "Now that we've eaten, I feel like this Tyrel name sounds familiar," he says to Cai'nan. "Come, let us go check the notes."
He walks to the back of the apartment and pulls on a particularly hefty tome labeled The Excruciatingly Complete History of Trade Laws of the Inner Sea, Vol IX, one of a set of 10 awfully dull looking treatises on trade regulations. Pulling it out completely, he reaches back behind one of the other tomes and presses something, causing an audible click. The bookshelf slides in slightly and moves off to the right, revealing a passage with a ladder going down. He casts light on his ring and heads down the ladder, briefly popping his head back up to say "Be sure to close the bookcase behind you." Before he disappears a second time, Slate rushes in and hops at the gnome, nearly failing to come to a stop and clawing his way back up to Osborne's shoulders much to Osborne's dismay.
The ladder descends two stories, into what must be a portion of the basement that was closed off, revealing a small office along with plenty of storage for supplies and such. Down a small set of stairs is another couple of rooms with storage for weapons and armor, though it is almost completely empty except for Osborne's gear. Walking through, he takes a moment to light the sconces to provide more light for the room, then extinguishes his ring. "I really must get some decent magical torches down here," he says to no one in particular.
He takes a seat at the desk and digs around in the files, mumbling to himself. "Tarkin, Teller, Tormond... Tylmarande..." He stops finally and pulls out a file, "Ahh, here we go, Tyrel, Nicholas. A minor functionary and cultist of a heretic cult. Sounds like the sort of person who might be able to help us." He slides the file over to Cai'nan and walks over to the wall, where he has a map of the area on the wall, studying the best way to get there. "I am going to grab my armor and weapon," he says, walking down the steps to the small armory he maintains below. "You are welcome to store anything you do not wish easily found down here," he calls up as he strips down to don his mithral chain shirt and a fairly drab and dark-colored set of commoner's clothes he kept in case he needed to avoid using magic disguises.
"Let me know when you are ready and we can depart," he adds as he walks up the stairs again.
Salla has been watching, patient and silent for the whole time.
She looks at Cierno, her mismatched eyes intent. "We need to get closer." She speaks for the first time in hours.
Loading her lovingly cared for crossbow and making ready to move out.
She wears a dull grey cloak and has her lower face concealed.
Disguise (Other Race): 1d20 + 14 - 2 ⇒ (5) + 14 - 2 = 17
Nisroch. Ciervo was all too familiar with the port city. More than one assignment had taken him to this place, either to seek passage elsewhere, or to eliminate the members of some forbidden cabal that had let one too many of their secrets slip. Not too far off from what he was doing now, ironically. While not shrouded in perpetual shadow like Pangolais, the city was as cold and dark as nearly every other place in Nidal, especially after sunset. To admit it aloud would make his skin crawl, but it all still felt so much like home to him. Here, more so than anywhere else, Ciervo was in his element.
With some light applications of makeup, Ciervo was - for the most part - able to conceal his deathly pallor. At a glance, he could pass for just another pale Nidalese citizen that has not seen nearly enough sunlight. Anyone that took a close look however, would be able to see straight through his thin veil. There was something unnatural about the glint in his eyes, and there was no hiding the prominent canines that his lips just barely hid from plain view. For the most part, it was all a moot point anyway; if anyone besides Salla saw him at all on this night, then the two of them were not doing their job very well.
Speaking of whom... Ciervo glances at his companion for what seemed to be the umpteenth time. Initially, he had resisted the idea of being partnered with someone - throughout his years as an assassin, and even as an exile, he had only ever worked alone. The thought of changing that, even in the name of a different cause, had just felt wrong to him. Of course, the choice had not been his to make. But in the short time they had worked together, it occurred to him that his worries were perhaps misplaced. So far, she had proven to be more than just competent or efficient. Beyond that, there was a sense of... something that he could not quite identify. It bothered him, but he was much too professional to let such paltry things distract him from the task at hand.
When Salla breaks the silence, the dhampir replies with only a curt nod. He eyes her weapon, admittedly a little curious about her skill with it, before taking the lead, creeping closer to the church. His sleek black armor and billowing cloak seem to simply melt into the shadows, as though his very existence had become null.
Stealth (Shadowed): 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (16) + 19 = 35
Standing on Nicholas' front stoop is Diana, the stout halfling dockworker who attends the Church of Dou-Bral alongside Nicholas. She is crying, her eyes red and bloodshot, and her cheeks wet. Behind her, the sun dips just below the horizon. "Nick," she says, gasping, "They came for us. I just barely got away."
I'd like a Stealth check from Salla.
Cai'nan follows along quietly behind the gnome, silently listening to what he has to say. He prepares his weapon, sharpening the blade with his whetstone as Osborne does his research.
When the two are ready, he heads out as quietly as he can.
Stealth: 1d20 + 4 - 2 ⇒ (19) + 4 - 2 = 21
So how long have I been in Nidal? Days? Weeks?
Nicholas somehow manages to go even paler than he already was. "Come inside, quickly." He pushes the door open and gestures for her to get inside. He slams the door shut behind himself and locks it tight. "Where? What happened? Who else was taken?"
Ciervo and Salla,
Guard Perception (Distance): 1d20 + 11 - 5 ⇒ (1) + 11 - 5 = 7
Guard #2 Perception (Distance): 1d20 + 11 - 5 ⇒ (4) + 11 - 5 = 10
Ciervo and Salla leave the apartment that they had been staking out in, making sure to lock the door behind them as if they had never been there, and stalk down to the street. Once down there, Ciervo blends into the shadows and Salla finds a stray and unoccupied seller's cart to hide behind, about 50' from the church's entrance.
Of the dozen black-robed, mute monks that the pair had seem, two wait outside of the main entrance of the temple. They stand, arms crossed across their flowing robes, and watch the night. Both Salla and Ciervo escape their notice, however. The rest of the monks must have entered the temple, for they're nowhere else to be seen.
Nicholas and Unafe,
Diana pushes her way into the building, sniffling and wiping her face. "I think the government finally found out about us, Nicholas. The Silent Shroud came to the temple. It was just a few minutes ago, but I saw them get Simon. He just gave himself up, of course. Who knows what they'll do, Nicholas! We're heretics! He'll be tortured for days for sure, and then they'll come for us."
Nicholas considers for a moment. "Not all hope is lost. Simon didn't send the signal this morning, so there may not have gotten many of us. If we can get there before he's taken away, I might be able to do something. Heretics fall more under the jurisdiction of the Enforcers than the Shroud, so perhaps I can claim 'custody' of him and get him out of the city before they realize that something's gone wrong. Or I can fake an execution and give him a chance to get away clean." He grabs his cloak and then freezes. He looks back to the girl still sitting in his kitchen. "Unafe... Diana, this is Unafe, a visitor from the south. Unafe, this is Diana, a friend and colleague. I would suggest you both remain here and try to hide until I return. If I don't return... Diana, I must ask that you provide Unafe whatever help you can. She's here looking for something dangerous and I fear that the... traditional followers of our lord are involved. She'll need help if she's to find it and if they take me as well, I don't want her to be left alone again."
Unafe tenses at the pounding at the door, and sits--alert, confused--while Nicholas and Diana talk.
At Nicholas' introduction, Unafe steels herself, mentally picking back up her mantel as spiritual protector of the Goapeke.
"Hello Diana, friend of Nicholas. I am sorry that your mutual friend is in danger.
"Nicholas, you've taken me into your home, fed me, offered me atawhai manuhiri. If you had not, I might be dead myself right now or in the hands of these people, yes? It sounds like this Simon is a friend to you. If so, then I would return your kindness and help you get him to safety."
She rises, brushing off her orange-and-yellow robe. Tuturutanga chitters as her nose pokes out from under the fabric.
Yes, *I* realize Unafe stands out terribly in Nisroch, but she doesn't yet have a sense of where she is and what it's like here.
Nicholas hesitates for a moment, then pulls a dark traveler's cloak from a rack by the door and shoves it in to Unafe's hands. "Very well. I'm in no position to turn down help right now. Wear that and try to keep your friend hidden underneath it if you can. If anyone asks, I've recently taken you as an apprentice and you're new to the city. If they ask any questions about your studies or my work, tell them it's a state secret. Redirect any questions you don't know how to answer to me." He pulls his hood up and his face takes a strange shadowy cast, making it hard to tell what he looks like in the darkness. His clothing shifts and shimmers, revealing strange metallic bands running around his shoulders and waist, with small sharp looking spikes lining them. He mutters a few words in a hissing, whispered language that sound almost backwards and his appearance shifts further, making him even harder to recognize at a glance. "Diana, I don't know it you want to come or stay away, but it's your choice if you want to get involved in this little piece of madness."
Disguise (Shawl, Disguise Self): 1d20 + 9 + 5 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 9 + 5 + 10 = 26
Nick's trying to make himself look like any Umbral Court Agent other than himself, just in case the Shroud is looking for him. Hopefully 80 minutes is long enough that my disguise self lasts. He should have a badge or some sort of credentials too now that I think about it.
Osborne and Unafe - Stealth or Disguise checks.
Diana takes a deep breath. "Ummm. I don't have a weapon or anything, and I'm not part of the Umbral Court like you are, so I don't have the credentials to be out at night." She chews her lip. "I won't come with, but I can make sure that Simon has a place to hide and a way out of the city when... if... you get him."
She takes Nicholas' hand for a moment. "Be careful, Nick. And you too, uh-nefee."
Unafe opens her familiar satchel and Tuturutanga hops in. She accepts Nicholas' dark cloak. Seeing that her robes will stick out the bottom, she takes them off--revealing a shirt of cured triceratops hide--and wraps herself tightly in the foreign cloak, pulling the hood as far over her face as she can without compromising her vision.
Then she stares at Nicholas for a few minutes. She does her best to mirror some of his posture and way of walking...and then to will herself toward the functional invisibility of an apprentice who is unworth paying attention to.
"Thank you Diana.
"I am ready, Minor Functionary Nicholas Tyrel. Let us go and see if we can help your friend."
Unafe prays silently as they walk out the door, Wise spirits of my ancestors, I've failed at my sworn duty to protect my people, and the Bound Blade. Please, help me at least to save this one friend of my friend.
Disguise (untrained): 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (20) + 3 = 23 Well, I didn't expect that!
Will either my shield or my ioun stone compromise my disguise? If so, I put them away before we go out. (Unafe wouldn't have any idea about that, but I'll assume Nicholas does.)
Before donning her pack, she casts Ant Haul on herself. Note that she has Bestow Curse in her spell-storing shield, cast on a previous day.
"Then stay here and stay safe," he tells Diana. "I'll return as soon as I can, hopefully with Simon in tow." He looks over Unafe's disguise and finds it surprisingly decent. "That should do. Your equipment should be fine I believe. Plenty of people use Ioun Stones, and weapons aren't exactly standardized among the Enforcers. Ah, and refer to me as master or Agent when we're out like this. Using my name or cover position would be suspicious when I'm on duty." He gestures for her to follow and heads out for the church as quickly as possible.
Nicholas and Unafe leave Nick's town house behind just as the sun dips below the horizon, casting Nisroch into nightfall. Diana leaves as well, speedily but sneakily moving towards the docks to try and secure whatever help she can for Simon.
After just a few minutes on the street, the pair approach a duo of Silent Shroud monks.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (9) + 11 = 20
The monks' eyes pass over the pair only for a few moments before they register Nicholas' identity as an Umbral Court agent. One of them nods and the four people simply quietly pass each other in the street. After a few more minutes, Nicholas and Unafe arrive at the church that the Scions use as their secret meeting-place. Plain as day (though it is night) the pair can see another pair of Silent Shroud monks waiting outside of the door. One of them sees Nicholas and nudges the other monk, who 'silently' and quietly heads down the small flight of stairs into the low-set prayer room.
Monk Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (9) + 11 = 20
Nicholas Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
Unafe Perception: 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (19) + 19 = 38
Nicholas remains stoic as they pass through the streets, used to the tension that permeates the city at night. He approaches the Silent Shroud agents at the church confidently. "My sources have informed me that the Shroud has moved against a group of heretics. I have come to attend my duties as an Enforcer of the Court. Take me to your commander. Immediately."
As Unafe and Nicholas approach the church, the Goapeke shaman nudges Nick's arm.
In a whisper (before the monks get within earshot) she says,
"M-master. Don't look now, but there's a young woman with a crossbow behind that cart. And a man over there who seems to be blending into the shadows over there. Do you know them?"
Nicholas doesn't break his stride as he hears Unafe's whisper, not wanting to look like there's something wrong. His eyes flick toward the two locations she identified, but that's all.
Salla Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23
As you guys move down into a closer position, a new pair of people come into play. One, a dark-shrouded member of the Umbral Court, and the other, a cloaked and robed assistant of his, following mutely and timidly behind.
Salla sees something interesting, though - the young woman is apparently from the Mwangi Expanse, as is evidenced by her dark skin, and has a strange scaled creature following closely underneath her robes. She looks timid and slightly confused, and also slightly fearful. The man strides up to the Silent Shroud guards at the front entrance to the temple, one of whom enters the temple. He pronounces, "My sources have informed me that the Shroud has moved against a group of heretics. I have come to attend my duties as an Enforcer of the Court. Take me to your commander. Immediately."
Nicholas and Unafe stride confidently up to the Silent Shroud member as his compatriot goes down into the temple. Pronouncing their purpose to him, they are met only with silence. Figures, the Silent Shroud are rendered mute as part of their initiation, but after only about a minute, the second monk returns with a third man. This man doesn't wear the robe and cowl of the Silent Shroud guards, and Nicholas recognizes him as an Umbral Court Enforcer, though without recognizing him by name or face. He is, like most Nidalese, pale-skinned, though with prematurely grey hair along the sides. He's a human who looks to be in his late forties, and he has a spiked chain looped onto his belt. It clangs against his armored greaves as he walks. He smiles as he comes up the short staircase to ground level, a greasy-looking facial expression. "A fellow Agent, hello." he says. He dismissively looks over Unafe for just a moment, up and down only once. "And... an apprentice. What are you doing out here? I wasn't told that there would be any additional Agents on the mission, only myself and some of the Silent Shroud for backup."
His smile grows wider. "Were you just drawn to the legends?"
Nicholas scowls, but you can't really tell under the layers of magic covering his face. "It seems my informant was lazy," he mutters. "I wasn't aware that another Enforcer was already on site, only that the Shroud had moved against a group of heretics that needed dealing with immediately." His eyes narrow slightly. "Legends? Apprentice, make a note to flay that information if his information is this half assed again."
Nicholas Bluff: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23
Agent Sense Motive: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
The man's eyebrows raise, but only for a moment. "Are you telling me that you've never heard the legends of Grey, the man who brought our lord's favored servant to his knees?" he chuckles. "You have some reading to do, but it doesn't matter anyway. This is my case. He is mine, and you'll have to find someplace else to gather glory."
"Grey... the paladin Grey? He's here?" He gives a low whistle. "Now this I have to see. I don't suppose I could get a little peek. You can keep all the credit, but I want to see if this 'legend' actually stands up to the tales."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (2) + 12 = 14
The man blinks lazily at Nicholas, his smile never leaving his face. "Oh, no. My Silent Shroud have searched the chapel. He's not here, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the chaplain knows where he's gone. It really is too bad that by the time I'm done with him, you won't be able to copy my work and follow me, isn't it?"
Nice, nice. So what's the chance that Ciervo and Salla will do something if I drop a Color Spray on these guys? Because I see two options here: pretend to leave then try to sneak in using magic, or blast them and hope the watchers take their chance to get involved.
Yeah, I was more asking their players OOC. They certainly look shady and quite likely not friends of the Shroud, but if they don't step in I'm like doomed and Unafe is in serious trouble and I really don't want to be responsible for another character's death due to a bad call on my part.