Welcome! Please, introduce yourselves.
Vizio's tavern. The door to the establishment offers little to impress. A weathered sign with the image of a tankard frothing with ale hangs over the entrance, and there's a peculiar smell in the air. Yet this is where Janiven asked you to arrive for an early dinner. An early dinner and information.
When she approached you, it was with the right words. One way or the other, you were convinced to arrive at the establishment at this hour, "for the greater good of Westcrown."
The goal is the betterment of the city, she told you. A citizen's watch to protect the people, and eventually steps to get rid of that which threatens the people. She never said it outright, though there was no mistaking that she, like some of you, desires the fall of the House of Thrune.
Glancing in though windows show only Janiven inside, working on what looks like food. The streets outside the tavern are empty, save for a couple of cats chasing what looks to be a famished mouse.
There is nothing to do but enter...
Hi folks! FireclawDrake here, hailing from Alberta, Canada!
Illithia enters the tavern, fiddling with her hair as she does. She never really liked taverns, and this one certainly wasn't looking to shake her doubts about the places. Still... what Janiven had proposed was interesting. A citizen's watch could be just what the city needs. Illithia enters and stays near the back of the room as she waits for the others to file in, staying quiet.
Hiya! Joy from WV, USA :)
Circe stops before entering the tavern, glancing in one of the windows at her reflection, making sure her scarf is pulled low enough over her head to cover her little horns. Though she was finally coming to accept her heritage she preferred that it not be the first thing people noticed about her. They tended to make unpleasant assumptions...
Deciding her scarf was ok, she bent over to scoop up the little black cat that had been trailing behind her and settled her in the bend of her left arm as she uses the right to open up the door to the tavern and walk in. Circe nods hello Janiven and makes her way over to a table and sits down. Letting her gaze wander over the room, she finally notices the half-elf standing in the back.
Recognition eventually dawns on Circe as she realizes she's seen her several times at various services to Sheyln though she hasn't had much chance to get to know her though she thinks her name is Illithia. Not wishing to presume the woman remembers her name, she decides to go ahead and introduce herself. "Greetings, my name is Circe."
Hey! Amazing Red from CA, USA
Bishop enters the tavern and takes a look around. "There's a lotta pretty women-folk here." He thinks to himself seeing the women already present. He nods to Janiven with a smile and proceeds to greet the other 2 women in the room. "Howdy ladies. Name's Bishop. Pleased to make your acquaintance." He says walking up to them and extending his hand for a handshake.
Illithia smiles at Circe as she approaches. She had seen this woman before. "Well met Circe. I am Illithia, it is my pleasure." bowing slightly, but respectfully. As Bishop enters, Illithia wears a frown. He should take more care of how he looks. she thinks.
Illithia is dressed in her chainmail armor, but visible underneath the mail is a bright green tunic and functional dark-blue pants. Despite her inital harsh judgement of the man, Illithia grants him the same courtesy, introducing herself and bowing respectfully. Her hand grips a glaive, it's tip sheathed, which she had been leaning on.
Off to a speedy start! This is flykiller from Riga, Latvia (time for a little geography exercise folks!).
Roman stops in front of the doorsign and sighs. It is as I thought. No way I will gain anything out of this meeting. Still, worst case scenario is I'll simply get drunk. Works for me. He enters the tavern and greets Bishop.
"Hello Bishop, I didn't expect you to come before me. I'm pleasantly surprised. Oh, and excuse me ladies, my name is Roman. I'm honored to meet you."
He shakes hands with Bishop and bows to the ladies. He is clad in dark clothes, the scales of his armor are also blackened. Weapons are strapped to his back.
A ruffian, a bandit of some sort, and a girl who doesn't look like she's ever seen combat... some Civilian Watch we'll make. Illithia is thinking, but bows to the newly entered man as he introduces himself. "Please, call me Illithia."
Illithia will quick cast Detect Evil and scan everyone in the room.
Tilnar -> From Ontario, Canada..
Dracius approaches the tavern carefully, shaking his head as to what he's getting himself into..
If this is a grand story, and this Janvien is the siren or nymph that draws me into danger.... well, I'll just have to try to ensure she doesn't lead me to doom... And hope that the blessings of The Eternal Rose keep protecting this fool..
He smiles at the thought as he enters the tavern, his eyes casting over the assembled crowd. A Paladin of Shelyn! ... I do not know if I should feel reassured by that... or wonder if we're about to be culled... Still, at least I need no longer worry this is some plot of my grandparents to erase their shame...
He steps toward Illithia and the knot of people around her, adjusting his cloak and holy symbol, and tossing her a small wave as he does.
"It seems we are introducing ourselves. I am Dracius Ludo... " He pauses a moment to judge the reaction to his name before he continues, "..and pleased to make your acquaintance."
Dracius is wearing an ingraved breastplate over fine clothing, and a dark blue silken cloak which was clearly not made for someone so tall, using his brightly-painted holy symbol as a clasp.
A look akin to sympathy briefly passes over Circe's face as she recalls the scandal associated with that name as she gives Dracius a curtsey and introduces herself. She's lost in thought for a moment as she recalls the scandal her own birth caused her family, though hers was kept much quieter than his.
Her little black cat is now curled up underneath the chair she has been sitting on.
Roman's eyebrows fly up, his mouth slowly forming a grin. "Well, if it isn't the infamous prodigal child! I'm Roman, glad to meet you in person. I must say it is a bit... unexpected to see a man of your publicity here."
He shakes Dracius's hand and winks at Bishop:
Well, let's say I took extra precautions to make sure those who don't need to know where I'm heading stay in blissful ignorance.
Hello, I'm Patcher, from Northern Norway. Pleased to meet you.
Janiven throws you all a glance, accompanied with a smile, as you all enter. "Welcome. Have a seat," she calls out to you. "I'll be with you in a second."
When Jerro calls out for a drink, she's there with a tankard filled with ale. "You didn't say which kind." As she returns to tending to the room - cleaning off tables, soaking tankards in warm water and scrubbing them, stirring a cauldron that emits the sweet smell of some savoury stew - she throws occasional glances out the dirt-stained windows. "Anyone else want a drink? Water, wine, ale, mead? Though I don't think you should hit the bottle too much just yet, just a thought."
"Greetings Mr. Ludo." Illithia chimes in as he introduces himself. Illithia knew the story, even if she had never met the man. His piety was known. At least one man I can trust here.
Sorry, not a ruffian, a drunk. Much better. Is Illithia's thought as Roman speaks his plans for his first drink. "Water will be fine for me, thank you." Illithia pauses a moment to consider, "or if you've fruit juice, that would be preferable, thank you."
"All in due time, Roman. I will explain everything." She smiles and disappears into one of the rooms in the back. Shortly after she returns with water for Circe, a sweet, thick fruit juice for Illithia and another tankard of mead for Roman. "I pray you are hungry? I did work hard on the stew over there."
She playfully licks her lips, her eyes again darting out the window.
Tell me when you wish to advance beyond the introductory stage.
Take 10 on Sense Motive: 10+7 = 17
Roman winks at Janiven.
"The smell of stew could attract the cats right to our door, don't you think?"
He assumes a relaxed pose, turning 45 degrees away from the table, leaning backwards on a chair and locking his fingers at the back of his head.
Dracius eyes the chair next to Illithia for a moment and catches her eye, asking an unspoken question. He pauses a moment to look at the chair It doesn't look like one of those flimsy chairs made for small folk.. and then sits with a smile and mouthing silent thanks to her.
He looks up at the hostess and nods, "I would love a small glass of wine, thank you. Though, if it is strong, could you water it slightly. I prefer to keep my wits about me, such that they are."
He chuckles slightly at his own joke, keeping a smile on his face and eyes as he studies the others... We seem to come from many walks of life... I wonder if this is a deliberate choice, or was Janiven scraping the bottom of a barrel in her recruitment... I guess we'll learn soon enough -- though that fellow reminds me of some of the ruffians I grew up with in Rego Cader.. He continues to nod in response to conversation, but saying little, trying to get his bearings and be sure that everything is, indeed, on the level.
When she makes the offer of food, Dracius turns to face Janiven with a smile, "The stew smells heavenly, and it would be a sin for me to shun your culinary artistry." He winks and smiles flirtatiously, almost out of instinct.
Ready to start
Sense Motive: 1d20 ⇒ 13
Illithia leaves her glaive leaning against another table nearby, close enough to be but a few steps to grab it, but far enough that it doesn't get in the way.
Illithia smiles in response to Dracius', bowing her head slightly, acquiecsing. The juice is thick and delicious, no doubt expensive to acquire. She'll have to make sure to slip their hostess a few coins for her trouble. "Your hospitality is most generous, and I am also eager to taste of the stew."
Illithia manner seems to be fairly easy-going, but her eyes give away a certain hardness. After everyone has comfortably supped, she will turn the conversation to business, if no one has already.
Also ready to go.
Janiven smiles and there's the slightest flush on her cheeks as she rises from her chair. ”Oh, you,” she says to Dracius. ”The stew should be ready, just be seated. Guests at the establishment and all. And watered wine to the lecherous gentleman.”
Shortly after, the table is decorated with bowls, forks and spoons, and the meal commences. It is a tasty experience of potatoes, beef and onion, with an odd mixture of seasoning. As you eat, Janiven is treading about the room, making sure the windows are closed, while shuttering them, and she eventually locks the front door. She treads into the back room momentarily, and returns while draping a pair of black leather gloves on her hands.
“Again, thank you for agreeing to meet with me here. I have chosen each of you for a singular reason—everyone here, myself included, has suffered, whether we realise it or not. I have lived in Westcrown my whole life, and although I love this city, I must admit, as must you, that despite our peace and prosperity, we continue to suffer. Fear should not be an expected part of life, and yet each night brings fear to our doorsteps. Yes, Westcrown has been safe from war and famine for nearly seventy years, and yes, our businesses has prospered—but this safety and prosperity has been bought in the coinage of fear and prayers to Hell.”
“Other lands live free from tyranny. Other cities do not fear the night. Other governments do not cede the streets to monsters of the infernal shadows. Westcrown was once such a place, and she wants to be such a place again. Westcrown is not only her buildings and canals and docks and history—she is also her people. Westcrown is our friends and neighbours, our mothers and fathers, our siblings and cousins, our sons and daughters! With but a small group of supporters and dedicated brothers and sisters, we can earn the trust and admiration of those people. A Westcrown free of these shadowy beasts that stalk our streets is one step closer to a Westcrown free of the devil that is the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune!”
”What say you?” Her brown-and-green eyes flash with inspiration.
Illithia smiles to see such passion. She felt much the same at times, but lacked a clear path. Perhaps Shelyn has finally shown her the way. With a quick glance at Dracius, Illithia speaks, softly but with conviction "I say you are absolutely right Janiven. If the city is to be safe once again from these terrors of the night, we must rid the people of a reason to fear. You may count me among your number."
Dracius watches Janiven intently as she speaks, admiring the woman's beauty and noting how her passion brings a most becoming flush to her face, even as he finds himself nodding and being caught up in her passionate speech. She is right.... I have lived in the darkest corners of the town, where life is worth less than a handful of coppers and the only thing worse than the hunger and misery was the fear... I have heard of the things that walk the night, and know people who simply 'went missing'... And I know that people like my grandparents and the other rich are content to allow this to continue, so long as their wealth and comfort are not disrupted...
His own cheeks flushing slightly, Dracius stands quickly, his chair falling away behind him. "I say aye. It is only an accident of birth and the grace of the Eternal Rose that has given me this measure of security that I enjoy. These evils of which you speak are most ugly, and they cast their taint on our beautiful city, and all of the lives within it."
He pauses to take a breath, somewhat surprised by his own reaction, and then looks up, locking his dark eyes into Janiven's and feeling another jolt, as he did when she first approached him. I swear, this woman truly is a siren, and will be the end of me...
"What would you have us do?"
As Janiven starts her speech, Roman abandons his pose and leans forward, becoming more and more stiffened. He recognizes the genuine dedication in her voice, and her words ring true. As she finishes, he noticed that his hands are shaking, and he had to clench them into fists to stop it. His throat was dry, and he did a big gulp from the mead tankard before speaking in his turn.
"I know the evils you speak of, Janiven. But before I pledge anything to you, I have to ask - what exactly is it you propose here? I don't think gathering over food and drink is going to accomplish anything. You can see I've come here armed, as you requested. Do you want us to put these arms to use? Against whom? And on whose behalf? I don't want my grief to serve as a fuel for someone's political machinations. I want it to be the point of impact against the nightly terrors of this city. If you can promise me this much, I am yours, Janiven.
By the end of his speech Roman is standing, his clenched fists are on the table, and his cheeks are burning red.
Circe finds herself standing as she simply says: "I would pledge myself to freeing the people of this city from fear Janiven." I know that I am tired of being afraid all the time. I can only imagine how my childhood would have been if it wasn't so acceptable to summon and deal with those infernal creatures. I might have been normal instead.
Circe looks about her and the others that are gathered about the table, a questioning look upon her face. "I do wonder what you have planned that an odd assortment of people like us could accomplish though."
A big smile, as mischievous as her eyes, lightens up her face. She brushes her black hair out of her face and nods to each and every one of you. "The essence of it is simplest, so I'll be blunt. We have to change the city with our own hands, offer help to those who need it. We have to win the support and admiration of the city, and rise as ... heroes."
She throws a swift glance at the door, as if she heard something. She resumes without another beat. "But I did not ask you to come armed for ill means. It is dangerous, yes, but it is not my intent, nor should it be yours, to rise against the House of Thrune as rebels or rioters. Or at least not as such in their eyes."
"Good deeds." She let the words hang in the air for a second before she continues. "It sounds foolish, I know. But the best way to start is to build up a bulwark within the hearts of the people. By doing good deeds - and avoiding as much direct conflict with the government as possible - we will gain power while the House of Thrune will ignore us for our... 'petty squabbling.'"
Illithia watched the conversation unfold. She didn't think much of the woman's plan. Some of us here have already been doing good deeds. Hopefully, at least, her words got the others thinking.
"Shall we simply stroll down the street, handing out gold? Where do you propose we begin?"
Roman cocks his head.
"My words exactly. Why do we need undercover meetings for simply doing good deeds? I'm inclined to think you mean some specific deeds which aren't strictly legal. If there was a Hellknight or a Devil-worshipper here, that would be enough to drag us all to the torture chambers right now. The difference is that we would be let out after implicating you, Janiven, but you would meet your end there. So if you've gone this far already, it would be wise to open up your cards now."
Let's try to add some weight to my words:
Intimidate: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Dracius smiles for a moment, lost in a romantic notion of heroism and proving his worth to his grandparents, until Illithia's words return him to reality. "But surely we already do just that? Not the random distribution of coin...," he pauses to nod and smile at Illithia before continuing, "..but good deeds, that is. I know the church does much for this city, even if it is not always doing so loudly and in full view."
As he finishes, he raises his eyes to meet Janiven's, and takes a breath, What is it about this woman that captures me so -- is it just that she seems to believe that the world can work the way we all feel it should in our hearts? She seems to believe... that good deeds will win the hearts of the city and take it back... could it really be such a simple thing?
He is shocked out of his reverie by Roman, surprised by the man's sudden vehemence and unable to hide his distaste at his reaction.
"Spare me your empty threats. If you intended to implicate me, you would have done so before you arrived." she says coldly to Roman. "If you think your good deeds are doing well enough at this point in Westcrown," she adds in Illithia, "Then you may also leave. However, if you want your deeds to matter..."
She sighs and turns away from you, muttering angrily to herself under her breath. "I apologise," she sayd. "I am frustrated. My mentor was supposed to arrive earlier, he's the bigger part of this endeavour, and I fear my worry has taken a hold of me."
"There are no 'specific deeds'. It is the gesture of a better future - a Thrune-less future - that matters. When we work to save the people from the terrors - the night-terrors that prevent us from crossing the street at night, we gain loyalty and support. With that support, we can undermine the House of Thrune, and bring it crumbling down to ashes. But it won't happen overnight."
She softens considerably, but still holds a critical eye to Roman.
Illithia lets out a soft breath. What she had said was little better than Roman, and harsh for a woman who was so clearly concerned. "I apologize if my words seemed.. rough. I, indeed, wish to do more for the city. What I lack is guidance. I too am frustrated." Illithia pauses to allow her emotions to settle, then continues briskly, her tone all business. "Who is this mentor of yours? If he has not arrived... it is possible he met trouble in the street."
Janiven shakes her head with a sigh. "Again, I apologise... you put words to my fears. I don't want to think that he has met trouble, but-"
Her sentence is cut short by the sound of something crashing into the front door - followed by very weak knocks and a muffled voice. Slightly startled, Janiven hurries over to the shutters and opens them, and with a gasp - and a flash of anger - she closes them shut and opens the door.
Inside, a small boy, no older than ten or eleven, comes crumbling in. He is covered in blood, and his right arm is missing. Blood oozes from the stump. "J... Janiven, they got... they caught Arael...the dottari...hellknights of the Rack... custody..."
"Morosino!" she shouts as she kneels next to the boy. "No, stay awake, you'll... you won't..."
With a quiet sigh the boy closes his eyes. There are no tears under Janiven's eyes but her face is filled with an unspeakable fury. She drags the body inside, and peers outside quickly, only to close it and lock it shut.
"They're here." Her voice trembles. "The hellknights have us surrounded. At least half a dozen. We have to flee."
"We have surrounded the building!" A voice bellows from the outside. "You are under arrest! If you resist, we will put you to the blade on the spot!"
Janiven looks at all of you, her eyes seething with anger. "I know a way out of here. There's a path to the sewers in the basement. It'll likely be our only way to escape the Hellknights."
She lifts Morosino's dead body and flings it over her shoulder, and walks over to the door to the back room. "Hurry!"
Dracius frowns at Jeniven's outburst, thinking them unfairly directed at the paladin. When Jeniven apologizes before he could step in to speak in Illithia's defense, he sighs in relief, I was worried, for a moment, that I had mistaken passion and faith for zealotry... Thank the Rose it is not so. His mood is further lifted when Illithia accepts the apology and offers one in return.
He silently nods his thanks to Illithia, then turns back to Janiven and says softly, "Some of our resistance, I think, was your ability to state what we all knew already: taht the good deeds that we do have so little effect on the city as a whole." He pauses, then looks up again, his voice stronger, A simple dramatic trick, but effective, nonetheless..., "But, in accepting that painful truth, then I see that there could be much to be gain by directing our efforts in these good deeds, rather than casting them into the darkness like so many stones in a pond. But yes, what of this mentor? I would like to know who it is I am dealing with... and, I share Illithia's concerns about the dangers of the streets."
Ninja'ed by the GM. Please pretend this happened before his post.
Dracius' mind struggles to catch up with the sudden rush of activity. Without thinking, he mutters a prayer to Shelyn to try to save the life of the wounded man, attempting to Stabilize him. Seeing Jeniven's panic, he begins looking for furniture to barricade the door, putting his hands under the large table and lifting.
He drops the table when Jeniven mentions an escape route, his eyes sparkling, "Then lead the way, I'd hate for my grandparents to end up being right about me." Indeed, again, I follow the Siren and her song..
Roman's face contorts with anger. "There were no signs of a "tail" when I arrived... I thought I knew their ways but their bloodhounds work better than expected."
When the wounded boy appears. Roman rushes to stabilize him but Dracius makes it before him. He then helps with barricading the door with the furniture.
"Allow me to go last, I'll cover our retreat!
As the party follows Janiven into the escape Path, Roman goes last and keeps looking back, his longbow drawn.
Circe had been sitting quietly as she listened to the others question Janiven and was so focused on the woman and her answers that she was quite startled by the sudden crash at the door. Jumping up to her feet as she clutched Kista in her arms she stares in shock at the maimed child that Janiven lets in. How could anyone do such a thing to a child?
Circe quickly follows Janiven's lead to the back room as she keeps glancing over her shoulder at the door. Certain that at any moment it will be kicked open by the Hellknights.
Giving an affirmative nod to Roman, Janiven leads you all into the back room. Very little decorates the area, only a few barrels that ooze with the stench of fish and vinegar, a pair of shelves holding stacks of platters and cauldrons, and a couple of oddly-placed cupboards on the floor. She rips off one of the doors and kneels in front of it. "Close the door, and start barricading it with the shelves and barrels!"
Shortly after you hear the back of the cupboard crash over, and she points; inside, you see a small tunnel - and smell the sewers. "Quickly. The tunnel is only thirty feet long, and then we're in the sewers!"