DM Vord's Zeitgeist Act I - Portents of a Starry Sky

Game Master Vorduvai

"Times are turning. The skyseers – Risur’s folk prophets since their homeland’s birth – witness omens in the starry wheels of heaven, and they warn that a new age is nigh. But what they cannot foresee, hidden beyond the steam and soot of the night sky, is the face of this coming era, the spirit of the age. The zeitgeist."

Current Date: 6 Summer, 500 A.O.V. (towards early Hunter's Moon on 10 Summer)
Current Location: Cloudwood District, Flint City, Risur
Prestige Favors Used: Risur 0 / Flint 0 / Unseen 0 / Family 0
Summary of Clues HERE

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Winter, 499 A.O.V. – after dark
(A warehouse in Pine Island District)

The injured woman runs for her life.

She is dressed in simple workman’s shirt and trousers, with a small woolen cap and scarf, her face and arms dirty and soot-stained. She could pass for any number of young lean men here working the sordid docks and shanties of Pine Island. In fact that was her disguise. To be an outsider woman alone in these parts was more than dangerous, it was unproductive. To be one of hundreds of barely-fed laborers afforded her the freedom she needed to move around. It almost worked too.

In by boat at dusk, out by boat by the shine of Maiden’s Moon. I got in easily enough didn’t I… And she had at that. The dual run-down warehouses connected over two spits of land barely above high tide. Nothing surprising about that here in the Pines, but what was surprising was that it had its own personal covered boat slip, when larger and better docks were so close at hand. It was the place she had the description of. There was no mistaking the warehouse from her Docker informants in Bosum Strand, but no word of its operators either. No connection to Kell’s Guild or the Family, yet it was lot of hardened men and supplies for local Pines smugglers. For two days and nights she watched the men go in and out at night by rowboat or small barge, bringing in supplies. No men guarding the landside doors, or even coming and going by that route. Then just past the morning they brought in a woman – covered and shrouded from sight, but a woman just the same. The woman wasn’t a prostitute or slave either, not the way she held her posture in the rowboat with the rowers giving her wide berth. Imperious almost. Something was going down, and so she had to get in there and uncover the mystery, reveal the threat. She was very good at that after all. It was easy to sneak on the last barge when some of the men were coming back from getting food from Tortle’s Row, contorting herself to hide under a burlap tarp covering two barrels of pickled fish. Getting inside was easier than she had expected.

I got more than I wagered too…damn if that stupid wretch didn’t look up in the rafters right at that moment I was shifting my weight, I’d be well and gone by now… She winces in pain at the burns along her left arm and shoulder, the workman’s clothes burned through in two places revealing blistered and burned flesh underneath. A bruised rib – probably cracked – from a club to her side when she took the first three zealots down in combat just outside her mark’s doorway. A wave of nausea threatens to overtake her but she pushes it back down with a grunt, putting a hand to her middle as she struggles to pick up her pace in the open space of the cavernous rear warehouse. She loses her torn woolen cap but it doesn’t matter now, her lustrous black hair starting to stream out behind her. She could hear the labored breathing of the nearest man just a half-dozen steps behind her, strong but not conditioned, running hard in as direct of a line as he could manage. He didn’t know it but he was no match for her, even with her wounds, yet the mysterious woman who scorched her with nimble precision just moments ago was a very big problem. She had to evade that female spellcaster and her remaining zealots and get out on the landside to have a fighting chance to disappear in the alleys and warrens. Of course they knew that too, so the race was on.

The warehouse wall ahead comes towards her fast, with clearly marked double doors that are closed and barred. No chance to open before they close in… Next to the doors are a series of wooden shelves packed with crates and barrels, the rows of shelves disappearing into darkness. Too risky to get trapped in there and the darkness won’t be a problem for the woman… Above the farthest shelf by the wall is a flimsy shuttered window, a clear climb to the shelf-top and the window two feet above it. Take it! She leans forward with her right shoulder and takes a sharp turn right before the double doors and towards the shelves, surprising the man who assumed she was making straight for the doors themselves. His mistake and forced correction gives her enough time to make a running jump to grasp the shelves – she bites her lip in pain from her wounds but carries her lithe dancer’s body up and over the shelf to stand atop it, her skill in acrobatics clearly evident. The shuttered window reveals a wooden beam over pungent bayou water which has been enclosed with now rotting wooden planks, connecting the rear warehouse with the front warehouse and blocking access to the outside. The water underneath could have a way out under the warehouses which were elevated on log posts, but there was no way to tell. Not going to get trapped and die down there. Across the beam to the front then…

She turns back and kicks the pursuing man trying to clamber up the shelves right in the face; he yells and falls back to the ground hard in a spray of blood that suggests his nose was badly broken. Movement of several others approaching in pursuit is clear in the dim light; just as she kicks the flimsy rotted shutters out and prepares to cross the wooden beam, she is hit from behind by two azure bolts of energy from the woman that threaten to knock her off the wooden shelves – yet they absorb into a leering feline brooch pin that she concealed under her shirt. She laughs in relief and balance-walks across the plank to the other side and into the window of the adjacent warehouse. Halfway there.

What I wouldn’t give for a sending-scroll to alert the others, but no time to send a message right now anyway…stupid mistake…I have to warn them! When she gained her way inside earlier in the afternoon she found quickly enough the men were not part of a small-time smuggling or slaving operation, but a true terrorist cell. Casks of firedust were everywhere, along with weapons, uniforms, maps and detailed timeframes of the event. And pouches of gold-dust on a table. The men were all set to task without the usual complaints one would expect of criminals - fairly disciplined zealots, so not the crime syndicates. Was it Gale’s hand showing again? Probably. That would explain a great many things, though she knew the mysterious woman was not Gale herself thank the stars. The uniforms, maps and timeframes gave her understanding of the target, but she wanted to overhear the woman and whomever she was meeting with in the closed off dockside warehouse office. Admittedly, she got greedy. She wanted to crack the conspiracy wide open, leave no stone unturned. So she shifted her spot in the rafters to get closer to the office, and by chance she was spotted by a man that never should have seen her otherwise. Embarrassing really – she could have done the same thing thirty other times and not have noticed her once. Still, he did. She had been discovered. Oh she dispatched the fool and the two other zealots nearby in mere seconds, but lost her rapier and earned a cracked rib in the exchange. Then the door swung open and the mysterious woman appeared, with what seemed to be a boy and another possibly feminine figure beyond him, shawled in green silk, rising from a comfortable chair. Also a man – if one could call his kind “human” that is. The mysterious woman acted first and burned her horribly with a fiery ray that she couldn’t dodge. A similar ray from the man-that-was-not-a-man that she barely ducked under. Then she ran, and the life-and-death chase was on.

Landing on the dusty floor of the front warehouse, the smell of decayed fish clinging to nets and dried barnacles on the hull of a dry-docked fishing barge reveals what the cover of their operation is. A slight creak of wood from the beam rafters above draws her sharp attention, but she sees nothing above her. Probably the settling of the ramshackle warehouse as the night draws colder, but further scrutiny is dismissed as she hears angry pounding from the double doors nearby followed by the iron bar being thrown aside. No time.. She draws as deep of a breath as she can painfully manage and pushes herself onward around the barge hull towards what she surmises is the front of the warehouse. It is as she expected, with a darkened hallway just ahead of her, something that leads to front offices and the front door to the outside. Yet a large guardsman comes towards her from that direction, blocking her potential escape route, a wicked-looking heavy axe in his hand. Behind her she can hear the bar coming down and the double-doors about to be pushed open. Behind her with several toughs and at least two arcane casters that can burn her with fire. Behind her is death. She has to confront what lies ahead of her, wounded and without her rapier.

Yet she is not without weapons or resources. As the large guard seems to spy her in the dim light and warily moves to close, she pulls a rare Drakran metallic ball from an enchanted pouch at her side, a gift from one of her friends and associates. She utters a quick incantation of her own to ignite a flame upon a wick at its top – the flicker of light alerts the guard to her presence and he begins to run forward at her but this is what she expects he would do. Taking a step back and to the side by the hull she sets the sphere down and hastily wedges it by a supporting sawhorse. Just in time too. The hulking axeman comes around the hull’s edge and takes a wild swing at her head, but she nimbly ducks into a crouch and tumbles aside to his flank, popping up into a graceful leap forward that carries her just past his returning stroke by a fingerspan. He turns to face her and charge…

…and the metallic sphere detonates at his feet, the force of the blast throwing him violently sideways into a stack of barrels several feet away even as shrapnel from the Drakran grenade rips through the lower half of his body. Lamb eats wolf this time… With gleeful satisfaction she sees part of the barge hull is torn away in a heap, helping to obscure and block the floor between herself and the double doors behind her that have now just been thrown open. But she isn’t done yet – she draws her finely engraved and enchanted Drakran steel pepperbox pistol, taking shot at a male underling nicely silhouetted in the doorway between the warehouses. The cry of pain and muffled curses signifies she connects with her target and sends others behind him diving for cover, yet he stumbles forward into the wooden hull debris in attempt to close the distance. Stupid. He thinks I have to reload… She fires two more shots in quick succession before the zealot underling realizes his fatal mistake at the kind of pistol she carries, the last shot ripping away his cheek and eye socket before he collapses. Feminine voices uttering mystical arcane words can now be heard just past the doorway’s edge, but she used the one Drakran grenade she carried. Only three shots left and my dag against the rest. Time to run. So she does.

At a full sprint she reaches the entrance hallway even as the voices behind her reach an eerie arcane crescendo. She pushes the intent of those spells out of her mind and focuses all efforts on the doorway ahead of her, now just twenty paces away. It doesn’t look barred or reinforced, so she has a chance still. The arcane words end behind her but she doesn’t feel any effects. Did they miss me? Fifteen paces. Out of range? Ten paces. Who cares just GO! Five paces. If locked I’ll shoot it out then its straight across the road to the alley with the bridge and my…

She is halted in her tracks by a wrenching pain in her abdomen, looking down in horror as the haft of a harpoon sticks through her, the braced weapon materializing into view in the hands of a crouched figure set in the corner by the doorway, invisible no longer. The boy. No…not a boy…of course not…how did he get past me…the rafters maybe? The dimpled halfling leers at her with a gleeful malevolence, knowing he inflicted terrible damage to her due to her own haste to reach the front entrance, running right into his braced weapon. Brilliant really, she had to admit. She coughs up blood involuntarily.

Yet she’s not dead from it. She can pull this off yet. Her beloved pepperbox is in her hand still, and she aims it right at the halfling’s forehead. His smile turns to fear, for he’s wedged in the corner between the hallway wall and the door, and has nowhere to go, the harpoon keeping him from drawing dagger and closing in. Three shots are left but one is plenty to finish him off easy.

”That’s right guttersnipe! A kiss for a kiss!”

Her arms feel heavy now as she is about to pull the trigger, but she never gets the chance as the floor falls away beneath her feet, plunging her into a smooth-walled shaft with a bottom that is impossibly deep. She lands with a sickening thud in foul-smelling water, her pistol and the shaft of the harpoon landing in the water beside her. The water is only waist high and she knows she has broken one of her ankles from the fall. How…did I miss the trap in the hallway? Yet with one look upwards she realizes she has fallen well over forty feet. Impossible… No chance a pit trap would be this deep in the muddy basin of the Pines. It’s magic.

A moment later when she starts to scream, she realizes too late that the foul-smelling water is not water, but acid. The acid burns through her worker’s clothes, sears into her flesh, eats away at her hair. Her Drakran pistol bubbles in the corrosive brew, the haft of the harpoon already turning to slag. She screams again and nearly passes out from the shock, but somehow manages to lift herself up out of the acid and cling to the smooth wall by sheer determination and skill. It’s bad, and she isn’t sure she has the stamina to try and climb out of it. That is when magical light illuminates the shaft of the pit from above. Four faces peer over the edge of the pit and look down upon her. The boy who is a halfling. The mysterious woman who is not a human woman. The man who is no mere man. And the fourth figure, the verdant-shawled woman who was seated in the comfortable chair, who is now seemingly floating effortlessly by the pit that most likely she conjured. That woman moves aside the silken shawl and reveals her face…

”No…NO!” The stench of the acid fumes mixed with the smell of her own flesh prevents her from speaking further. Her vision blurs and she nearly falls back into the pool of acid, but she holds on and just glares upwards, tears forming in her eyes.

”I’m sorry dear,” says the shawled woman, sighing but seemingly with little remorse or emotion. ”You see, you think you protect Risur, but you blindly serve that which leads to our destruction. I have seen it. Millions will perish if I do not act, and so what must be will be.” With another sigh and shrug of her shoulders, the shawled woman looks to the others. ”This untimely business has taken resources from us. Can you find replacements?”

”Not as smart or capable as our own, but enough to see my diversion through,” says the man who is no mere man.

”It will work,” chimes the mysterious woman who is not human. ”It must work.”

”Too much planning went into this to call it off now I’d say,” says the halfling.

”Indeed. We will not get another chance, and the stars will go against us if we delay. We keep to our timetables. Regrettable this one and a waste of talent, but the greater good must take precedence.” The shawled woman nods to the others and raises her hands. ”Ready?”

She has no more time and no more tricks left. All she can do is meet her end with courage. She hurls her last defiant insults at those above as they summon their magics, until five scorching rays of fire pierce and burn through her body. Then she screams, and falls…

_______________________________________________Z E I T G E I S T
_________________________________________ACT I: PORTENTS OF A STARRY SKY

______________________________________________ISLAND AT THE AXIS OF THE WORLD


91 Winter, 499 A.O.V. (Maiden’s Moon)

Another day dawns in Flint.

Not just any day however, but the last day of the year. The last day of Winter. The day before the Beginning Day of the new year and the new century, after which comes the 1st Day of Spring and the Spring Equinox…and your first Season’s worth of duties and preparations finally come to fruition. For it is on the 1 Spring of 500 A.O.V. that King Aodhan himself will arrive in Flint personally to see to the launch and maiden voyage of the R.N.S. Coaltongue, newly commissioned flagship of the Risuri Navy and the first fully-realized warship of its kind that seamlessly blends new technology and old magic together, the result of near forty years of development. It will be a glorious event and one for the histories. Assuming of course the constables of the Royal Homeland Constabulary can ensure its security and success. You have spent your first Season in the R.H.C. preparing to make that happen.

Yet that glorious event is fully two days away, with celebrations and revels taking place across the city both day and night to herald the end of Winter and the Beginning Day of 500 A.O.V. Unfortunately, morning check-ins and briefings at Flint R.H.C. Headquarters do not halt for holidays, changes in years or seasons. Fortunately, this endyear time seems to be a quiet and dull one, with the using morning duties more of a formality. Lady Inspectress Saxby is said to be on brief holiday with friends in the North Shore, and Inspector Delft made it clear yesterday that he didn’t need to “play minder” with you all the time. So you rise at dawn and prepare yourselves to go into R.H.C. HQ for a brief period, until a plausible period of time passes to where you can leave and delve into more entertaining aspects of what the districts of Flint have to offer.

The morning air is chilly and damp with mist that is not quite cold enough to freeze – a recent storm from the northwest has brought colder weather to Risur, to what many say is an unwelcome “final Winter’s gift” from the Danorans. Yet the storm helped to blow off much of the usual soot and smog from the factories of Parity Lake eastwards, giving as clear of a morning sky as has been seen in several lunar cycles. As you make your way into the streets of your home District on your way to R.H.C. HQ, you cannot help but notice the decorations of lampposts and windowsills, the bustle of street vendors and couriers, hawkers of news and gossip, the jubilant energy of street performers and beggars alike. This morning brings promise and many of the more serene areas of the city such as Central, North Shore and The Stray will have open houses to spread cheer and offer hospitality to neighbors and guests, complete with caroling of Risuri songs both ancient and modern. Some will even put out plates of milk and treats to appease the fey, though most do not take that seriously except in the Nettles and near the Cloudwood. Whatever the tradition, even in the bustle, grit and grim business of a metropolis such as Flint, the endyear reminds most of family and friends. Yet, duty is duty, and R.H.C. prides itself on certain values and traditions. Being on time for morning briefings is one of them.

An interactive post will be coming shortly to get you through the gates of the R.H.C., but please post a small intro for your character if you are inclined to do so, whether current-day or historical in nature.

Human Alchemist (Grenadier / Saboteur) 1 AC 16/13/13 / HP 10/10 / F +3 R +5 W +1 / Init. +3 / Perc. +5 / Bombs 5/5)

91 Winter, 499 A.O.V. (Maiden’s Moon), Loft 304, 1137 Taggart St. Eastside District

It was the smell that first registered to Arthur Wilde, before he ever opened his eyes.  Hydrogen sulfide gas or H2S for short. A clinical name for a unwholesome and dangerous byproduct of the Cloudwood paper mills. At least it ain't the Nettles. Arthur though to himself while rubbing the sand out of his eyes and blearily looking around his loft apartment.

Now where the hell did I put my leaf? The dark skinned man grumbled to himself, while pushing himself out of the mattress that lay on the floor atop a few wooden pallets. Taking his first step, Arthur glanced down feeling a slight crunch below his bare foot. Dammit! it's always the last place you look. Sighing, the slight man sat back down on the mattress and grabbed one of the crushed cigarettes, before shoving it between his lips and lighting it with a quick flick of a phosphorus striker. Arthur closed his eyes. In hindsight it probably wasn't the wisest idea to be smoking with all of the compounds present in the flat, but the man would be dammed if he let fear rule him. After all, if growing up in the Nettles hadn't killed him, and the war hadn't either, then he would take his chances.

Breathing out a thin stream of smoke, Arthur felt his morning headache disappearing. He glanced at his hand. It was smooth and steady. It was time to get up.   

Female Human (Risuri) Fighter (tactician) 3rd AC 20/14/16 / HP 33 / F +5 R +5 W +2 / Init +6 / Perc. +7 / Sense Motive +5

91 Winter, 499 A.O.V., Central District, Barker's Way

"Well, that was good!" Gemma stretched and yawned at the table where she and her sister had just finished eating breakfast. She briefly looked around, surveying who was in the coffee shop...same thing she'd done when she walked in...but now some people had gone and new ones had come in. She was always trying to hone her skills of perception without seeming like it.

"You're doing it again." Her sister always knew.

"Dammit! How do you always know?" Gemma said under her breath.

Her younger sister shrugged a little and took one last bite of her pastry. "Cause I'm your sister. I can always tell. But it was subtle enough that no one else would catch it." Bliss seemed very unimpressed by it all.

"Well, good. At least I'm getting better."

"You've been better for a while now." One last sip of her coffee and she added,"Like I said, I doubt anyone else would have noticed except me and maybe one of your they are."

"It's the R.H.C. I've told you a million times."

Again, just a slight shrug and a little mischievous smile from her sister. "We best be off then!"

The two women walked towards the door, leaving a little coin to pay for the meal along with a nod and a smile towards the cook and his wife who ran the place. Gemma and her sister were regulars at The Gaslight Eatery. It wasn't far from where they lived, the food was good and the service was cheerful. Once outside the door, Gemma put on her navy-colored, woolen coat that had the R.H.C. sigil on the right-hand lapel (a place where the coat could be buttoned and the sigil easily concealed if need be) and gave her sister a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. "So where are you off to today?"

"Oh, you know. Here and there. Exploring," her sister said with a slight smile. Gemma's sister had spent all her days in Flint exploring the town inch by inch. First it was out of boredom, then it became something more. She knew every square inch of it by now and somehow never managed to get herself hurt or killed, even in the most dangerous parts of town. Gemma asked her about it every now and then, but never really got a good answer.

"See you at dinner then." A statement made by the sisters to each other in unison. One last smile and they were off in different directions...Bliss Atherton one way down Barker's Way and Gemma up until she had to take turn at a crossroads and then over a few blocks, enjoying the holiday decorations along the way, until she walked to the front gates of the R.H.C. headquarters.

Female Human (Risuri) Arcanist 3; AC 12/12T/10FF; hp 17/17; +2F/+3R/+3W; Init +3; Perc. +0; Sense Motive +7

"Technically, the spell won't produce fire. It will produce a flammable gas that will synthesize with the oxygen in the air. The spell then produces a spark of sorts, starting the chain reaction that ultimately ends with a wave of combustible gases washing over your face and body at a temperature of over 1,500 degrees Celsius. It is a subtle difference that renders my earlier threat somewhat unclear, but the message ultimately is the same. Drop the knife or I will set you on fire." Anneca gestures with her wide-barreled gun as a point of emphasis. The constable waits for the wide-eyed robber to make a move, keeping the arcane patterns firmly in the correct order in her mind's eye so that she can unleash the aforementioned flames upon him if he does something stupid. Anderson Sperring, senior constable and the agent whose work gave them the lead that brought them to the abandoned warehouse, simply waits and watches as well. He had been against the idea of taking her along on the mission, but Inspector Delft had insisted that she accompany him.

They had been on the case for three days now. The man had robbed six people on the street in that time, always with the same strange description: a short, shabby man with one arm longer than the other. Three of his victims were stabbed, with one coming perilously close to death. If not for a passing clergyman, this would be a murder suspect that they had cornered. The man is a Docker by appearance, she would guess. "Can't you just addle his mind? Maybe I should have brought Rhegalion," Anderson says with a pointed venom.

Anneca glances over at him, irritated by the question. She had been failed out of her school of wizardry for her inability to grasp even rudimentary spells that didn't involve manipulation of elemental forces or tangible effects. Mind-affecting spells, illusion, farseeing - all magic she has no hope of mastering. Her tutor once said that it was because of how her mind operates, that she needed to change her perspective to learn those spells. "I prefer setting him on fire if he doesn't comply. It is sticking to my strengths." For all of her struggles with most magic, her talent with pyromancy is second to none.

The knife clatters to the ground as the suspect puts his hands up. Anderson moves in quickly to shackle him. Anneca lowers her gun and lets the magic fade from her mind as the danger fades. She runs her hand over her face as she reflects on just how tired she is. The two of them had been chasing leads with just a few hours of sleep daily, and had been running and gunning on this one since dawn the previous day. With the morning sun starting to brighten the streets, it had been a long day. At least it meant some extra coin in her pocket from the overtime pay. "Let's get a move on," she says to Anderson. "I have roll call to get to."

Human (Risuri) Oracle/Gunslinger/Investigator AC 16/12/14 / HP 30 / F+5, R+7, W+6 / Init. +6 / Perc. +4 / Sense Motive +4 / Max Grit/Luck Pts 8

Emerson awoke with a start. He had the dream again. Actually more of a memory really. One moment, surrounded by his men, the next, everyone in a one hundred foot radius, dead or dying.

His ears ring with the memory of the shelling. Lying there for what seemed like an hour, Emerson mustered up the will to sit up. He picked up his leg brace of his nightstand and affixed it to his one ruined left leg. He steals himself for the pain as he stands to his feet. The initial pain is excruciating. By reflex he puts his hands on his thigh and instinctively channels a bit of mystical energy into it.

The pain subsides and he is able to stand fully. ”Going to be a cold one today.” He muses, as he puts a kettle on for tea. He washes up and dresses as quickly as he is able while the water boils. Not having enough time to enjoy his morning tea at home, he pours it instead into a large metal thermos and makes his way to the stairs.

He was able to secure lodging in the Central District a dozen blocks away from RHC Head Quarters due to his injury, but the smart ass clerk who assigned his quarters put him on the top floor of the tenement building. He curses Jenkins at every landing.

Once down the stairs, Emerson slides into his overcoat and steps out into the cold misty morning air.

Raising his goggles up to his forehead Francis pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath, rubbing his eyes he sighed and looked at the rising light out his window. 'It's not ready.' he thought with some regret as he took out his pocket watch from his vest pocket and checked the time. It was time to head into the office. Taking of his goggles he leaned in one last time and inspected the contraption he had wedged on a statif on the wooden bench, surrounded by molds, wices, diagrams, drawings and various tools of his own making arranged in an orderly fashion on the bench and the facing wall, the would-be pistol was slowly taking shape. 'Nearly there.' he thought with some satisfaction. The mechanics were done, the trigger, chamber and firegem were set, there were just the finishing touches left, barrel alignment in particular, and testing. The tests would have to be done before he took it out into the field, he couldn't risk the thing exploding in his hand on duty, no, it had to be tested first.

Smiling one last time at his handywork Francis stood up from his workbench to make ready for work.

Buttoning up his vest and tucking in his shirt the straight-backed, lean half-orc deftly knotted his tie before donning his jacket. Collecting various items from the room, ticking of a mental list in his head as he goes, he pats himself down one last time by the door before grabbing his bowler hat and heading out the door.


Out on the Streets, Early Dawn
It occurs to Anneca that she could inform Constable Sperring of Rhegalion Arbalistre’s unheralded transfer to Slate Branch of R.H.C. just a few days before, but she decides against it given his prickly demeanor towards her. It would not surprise her that he actually may not know this news as Sperring is often not seen around at Flint HQ, but her calculations conclude there is simply no upside in the conveyance of knowledge to him.

As they “bag” and cuff the perpetrator, she wonders at the results of this extra volunteer assignment and what it could mean for her career at Flint Branch. After all, Lady Inspectress Saxby has often remarked that she values hard work and dedication…and it is no small secret that she reviews the case quantities and results for each Constable, dividing them mentally into groupings of merit or demerit. Anneca wants to be on the “merit” side, volunteering for extra duty with a more experienced Constable to assist the Flint Police on their overwrought case loads. The extra pay at a time of holiday is not bad either, as not everything is covered by her monthly stipend.

As for Constable Anderson Sperring, he is quite simply an ass – brilliantly talented and a tireless worker true, with a mission record that outpaces all but Makala Fileccia herself, but with an unmistakable arrogance, impatience and intolerance for any of the newer Constables that he perceives as holding him back…and the more senior Constables he views merely as rivals to put up with. Anneca thinks Lady Saxby most likely assigned her to him in no small part to irk him and put him in his place somehow, as opposed to any motive of helping her with investigative procedure and process in the field. Yet for Sperring’s near constant irritation of Anneca and not-so-veiled barbs at her lack of experience and nuance during their brief time together, she did learn a fair bit from him on those very tactics. Hopefully, he would treat her fairly on his after-action assessment reports to the Chief Inspectress.

”Yes, Constable Summers. You do have a roll call to get to, do you not? Why don’t you run along once we get to the corner of Ashland and Fortilane up ahead, and I’ll take him to the precinct house from there – no sense in you getting in hot water with Inspector Delft because you miss the briefing time start.” Sperring’s good-natured advice comes across as smug and not entirely trustworthy, but Anneca simply cannot tell if he is bluffing with her or not. ”You do realize Delft prides himself on running early briefing sessions precisely during the holidays in order to determine who he can count on, do you not? I, of course, have a waiver as I am heading out before sunset tonight, but you don’t need a black mark in your file so early in your career.” His smile is suspiciously sweet. ”Go on now Summers…and don’t worry about the report – I’ll be sure to include your efforts on the assist with this one.”

They reach the corner of the busier intersection, whereupon Sperring waves over two policemen for assistance. With a curt nod that can be in part taken as a dismissal, Anneca realizes she has just the proper amount of time to make her way back to the R.H.C. Compound, though a stop at one of Central’s fine coffee houses or morning eateries will have to wait.


91 Winter, 499 A.O.V. – Morning
R.H.C. Compound – Front Gates

The walls are twenty feet high and as drab of a grey colored stone as one can imagine, varied only by darker soot stains from the days when the belching of the Parity Lake factories come southeast around the Nettles and Cauldron Hill. You stand just outside the twin iron-wrought gates to the R.H.C. under watchful eyes of Risuri Army soldiers on the flanking towers and walls around you, the line of researchers, scribes, kitchen staff and other civilians forty deep stretching well down the sidewalk of Gladson Way. Gladson. Named for the first Flint R.H.C. director as you recall from your mandatory history course from Summer. The road parallels the front compound walls which could easily be described as a small fortress in its own right, made all the more formidable with the protection of a half-company of Risuri Army soldiers garrisoned here at all times.

”Next!” The line advances slowly as only a couple at a time are let into the right-hand front gate, at which point just beyond their identification is painstakingly identified by more soldiers, before being granted access past the entry block into the “outer yard” beyond it. A tedious affair really, one you were accustomed to as mere prospects to the Constabulary in the Summer and Fall seasons. That was before you gained your badge of course. Fortunately for you, R.H.C. Constables can approach the left-hand front gate for faster admittance.

”Good Mornin’ Constable! A good mornin’ it is too, on this very last day of the year, isn’t it?” Sergeant Hunley Stiverson recognizes you on sight from behind the iron gate and gives a smile with crooked teeth and a slightly misshapen nose, the middle-aged man clearly having seen more youthful days and many fights from then to now. Stiverson, however, takes pride in knowing all the constables and getting them onto their morning briefings, typically with a kind word and fair mood on most days. He cracks open the left-side gate enough to let you pass by, then shuts and locks it again with a large iron key. Now in the wall-enclosed Entry Blockhouse area with another fortified gate to go, he ushers you over to a small makeshift table just outside the guardroom doors, handing you an inkpen and making a polite motion to scribe on the day’s rosterbook next to it. While you write in your name and the time – given to you by the good Sergeant with a pocketwatch in his hand – he customarily checks your R.H.C. badge for authenticity. Two hard-bitten soldiers watch nearby, ready for any signs of trouble. Not that there would be trouble just inside the gates, as the squad of soldiers above on the walls and towers ensure the Entry Blockhouse grounds are a crossfire death-trap if the unthinkable ever happened. Just another morning at the entrance to the R.H.C. – at least you pass your checks in a fraction of the time the line of civilian entrants do across from you at the far table.

”That all looks in order then!” He tips his hat to you, though even Sergeant Stiverson rarely offers a full salute except to those former officers that were in the service before joining up. Then as if forgetting something important, he leans in and whispers almost conspiratorially to you. ”Mind your buttons and smiles good Constable, fer we’ve got reporters prowlin’ on the grounds inside – Constable Ven and Captain Umurn are leading them around by the nose showin’ off the place for a good word in the papers.” Then with a wink and a nod, Stiverson turns back to resume his post at the front gate with his hands behind his back, whistling a local tune and watching the orderly flow of non-constables being slowly admitted.

You pass through a second gate and into the “Outer Yard” beyond the entry block. Ahead of you a hundred paces looms the Main Blockhouse with flanking towers and yet another wall that bisects the entire compound, separating the outer area from the innermost area of the compound. Walls to either side of you keep the Outer Yard funneled up to the Main Blockhouse, though open archways in those walls lead to places you know well. To the left lies the Training Yard, with its twin inner arenas for weapons and hand-to-hand training, and the calisthenics course that is simply called “The Course” to those that have suffered through it. To the right lies the Marksman’s’ Yard with its open-air short and long range ranges as well as a spellcaster’s “dueling” area; the walls of that yard are heavily reinforced, with the sound somehow magically suppressed and contained so as to not disturb the rest of the grounds outside it. As you pass by on your left you see the three instructors you came to know well in the two seasons of your training – Johanna Durrance and Durbul Lescane walk “The Course” with an excitedly chatty Indigo Daybee, who must be going over ideas on how to change his obstacle course to be more challenging, something the gnome instructor delights in doing every Season or so. To your right you faintly hear the sounds of gunfire at the Marksman’s Yard but do not see anyone, and so you move on to the Main Blockhouse where its topmost tower levels are reserved for Captain Umurn and Lieutenant Cason, with its adjoining barracks for the rest of the soldiers on the other side of the inner wall. Through here you are briefly checked a second time by Risuri soldiers and then allowed to pass beyond to the Inner Courtyard.

Sounds of laughter are heard in the distance as you pass into the Inner Courtyard, whereupon you see a small group of reporters and special visitors being led by none other than Constable Carlao Ven in his engraved plate armor, strutting and doing his usual best to inform and impress the guests as he leads them to the twin two-story manor-like buildings on your left - the location of the R.H.C.’s “Research and Development Wing” as well as the “Instructor’s Wing” where the academic classrooms and library are situated. The ever-reserved half-orc Captain Brin Umurn walks a step behind Constable Ven in her customary black and dark green Risuri army uniform; Brin clearly looks uncomfortable under the scrutiny of the reporters, but merely needs to look imposing as Carlao Ven is doing all of the talking. Two more soldiers trail behind to ensure the gaggle of reporters stays together as they enter into the R&D building. Fortunately for you, the two-story R.H.C. Headquarters building is just a hundred paces across the Inner Courtyard with no one now to waylay you, other than a pair of researchers coming from your right from the squat but functional Dining Hall building, the pair avidly discussing some exciting prospect that seems excessively dull and technical to you. The fair smell of a mundane breakfast wafts from the Dining Hall, mixed with other less-pleasant smells of horses and leather from the nearby carriage house and stables as laborers work to get horses groomed and wooden carriages cleaned.

As you approach the R.H.C. Headquarters building, you cannot help but notice the two very different gardens to either side, each with its own distinctive flavor and history. The rightmost gardens between HQ and the Dining Hall are considered the “Royal Gardens” and an open expanse expertly manicured by the groundskeepers, its shrubs and trees all carefully lined up and orderly, a rectangular white stone fountain pool forming the centerpiece of the gardens with suitable white stone benches lined around it. By contrast the leftmost gardens between HQ and R&D can barely be seen beyond an obscured front wall of high tangled hedges – the “Meditation Gardens” as it is called is a veritable maze of hedges and pathways that seems to create the illusion of seclusion in an otherwise urban walled compound, set with a tranquil series of flowing pools connected by a stream, complete with a rock garden and soft grass that has a distinctly sylvan feel to it.

Your destination is the R.H.C. Headquarters and more specifically its downstairs Briefing Room (Zeitgeist Extended Players Guide pg 54, First Floor, SE corner room #10). Yet when you pass the guarded front doors into the Entrance (SW corner room #1), the guard curtly nods to you and points to a paper at the desk by none other than Assistant Chief Stover Delft himself:
Constables of Flint,
Last day of the year and time to welcome the New Year and Season. Most of you have worked hard to prepare for our Event on 1 Spring in just two days’ time … you know who you are and aren’t…so most of you have cause to celebrate. No briefing today, so find something useful to do with your time on the grounds for a while and then you’re left to your own devices. Just don’t leave the city in case I need you…and don’t get so drunk that you cannot adequately recover and represent our country at its historic achievement two days from now – if you do I’ll make sure your next mission is in hauling carts of rocks out from our R.H.C. subrail tunnel construction for an entire Season. Again, you know who you are.

Mission briefing for 1 Spring will be prompt at oh-seven-thirty to cover final preparations for the Event, with participation from Flint Police Inspector Division for coordination. Don’t be late obviously. Until then, be well and merry New Year and all that.

Stover Flint, Assistant Chief Inspector

Looking up from the note, you can see the guard has already turned to catching up on the morning newspaper. As for you, the question remains – where to next?

Where indeed? You have four choices in this interaction. Please choose one of four locations below that best suits your character’s mood and disposition, read the spoiler for the initial dialogue, and take it from there - please put an ooc header at the top of your posts with the selected location for easier reading!

Quartermaster’s Office and Armory:
pg.54, First Floor, Rooms #6-7
As you make your way from the “guarded” entrance room and into the lower hallway, you notice the door to the Quartermaster’s Office is open, with conversation heard just inside. You decide to investigate and peek inside. The office is small but serviceable, with a single desk for either Quartermaster Babcock himself or one of his two Assistant Quartermasters when he is not present. The door across from you to the Evidence Room is closed and locked, but the right-hand door to the Supply Room and Armory is open as well as the service counter area that often is barred and secured. Several are standing or sitting within, and you quickly make out who they are before you are spotted.

It seems a shipment of Drakran steel firearms and even stranger gadgets are being checked in at this hour by Quartermaster Babcock and Assistant Quartermaster Zinjo, who both stand behind the service counter inspecting and checking in firearms from a wooden crate, while Constable Talyssa Dane sits perched on the countertop with an odd steel cube in her hands, inspecting it with great interest. On your side of the counter in the office stands Constable Dima Sorginson, with ledger and inkpen in hand, recording each item as Babcock and Zinjo call out the details.

Of course it is Constable Dane’s clockwork “pet” that spies you out first, a winged raptor-lizard like creature made entirely of metal and gears that oddly looks like something found in a Beran forest canopy. Its name is “Skimmer” and it lets out a shrill brief shriek that turns all four of them to regard you.

”Constable,” says Quartermaster Babcock curtly but respectfully. He gives the black steel musket a final lookover and sets it on a weapons rack nearby on the wall, then looks back to you and thumbs in the direction of the crate. ”Weapons shipment from Orithea just in. Very expensive but the Lady Inspectress said to use the last funds of the year on the best, and so we have…”

”…yes and before you get any ideas about it, that’s a NO to you checking any of them out,” interrupts the goblin Assistant Quartermaster, Nestor Zinjo, “so don’t even ask as they are in Class 1 Special Reserve status.” He eyes you almost accusingly, as if you came in to try and abscond with one straightaway without proper authorization and paperwork.

”Nestor…” chides Ethan Babcock briefly, who shrugs and returns to counts of some specialized box of cartridges you can’t quite make out from your vantage point. ”Sorry Constable, but it is true these are Class 1 only, reserved for top field assignments and must be approved by Lady Saxby.”

”Ahem, yes. Which is why the requisition process is to be adhered to, something you could see yourself to take a greater interest in,” adds the dwarven Constable of senior rank, Dima Sorginson, with a raised eyebrow and knowing look as if you failed some examination under his watch. He places a small stack of papers on the counter that look to be completely filled out with great care, including the approval letter from the Lady Inspectress herself. It is no surprise to you that Dima is able to secure the finest gear R.H.C. has to offer for himself. It is also no surprise to you that he finds the filing of your reports, briefings and requisitions lackluster, as he often delights in following up on the other Constables to get their paperwork in on time with complete accuracy. ”Just the one Drakran steel pepperbox with a box of standard-issue paper cartridges and two of the silvered pellet grenades will do for now.”

”Of course, of course Constable Sorginson. YOUR paperwork looks to all be in order as usual, and with all aspects of the requisition approved.” Zinjo seems to relish in the confirmation of Dima’s request as the goblin gives you a smarmy look for emphasis on your lack of such matters, then sets a carrying box on the counter and proceeds to fulfill the requisition.

”Now now Nestor, be nice won’t you?” Talyssa speaks with half-interest while still examining the cube in one hand, stifling a yawn in the other. You have not seen much of her this past Winter, as her assignment on 1 Spring preparations has been exclusively working with the chief engineer of the famed R.N.S. Coaltongue, the object of your mission efforts in two days’ time. ”I’m sure the good Constable here was just curious, and you can’t think everyone is trying to steal everything from you…why can’t I figure this reconfiguration out? Oh well.” Talyssa sets the cube aside on the counter and looks at you with delight at the shipment. ”Isn’t this just marvelous? A pretty bunch of crowns but such quality in the craftsmanship!”

”More than crowns love, try bags of platinum pacts,” says the Quartermaster wryly. Clearly Talyssa Dane is a favorite of his by his tone and familiarity to her. He then looks back to regard you politely. ”Can I help you with anything Constable? Chances are you won’t get a new requisition approved with the Inspectors out and all, but if you’re here to see what’s new I don’t have a problem with that…”

The Briefing Room:
pg. 54, First Floor, SE Corner Room #10 (only one is a guardroom)
As you make your way from the “guarded” entrance room and into the lower hallway, you pass by the three interrogation rooms and an open guardroom where four soldiers are chatting idly about upcoming off-duty passes. You turn the corner away from the Morgue and towards the Briefing Room, whereupon you hear laughter from several men and a conversation in full swing.

”Really Miff I swear to you by all the planets in the heavens! She likes you truly she does! Why play your cards right, and you’ll have no trouble keeping warm these next nights! Why you’ll just have to come up for air every so often and…”

”Stop Devinn, just STOP will you?” The man evidently going by the name of “Miff” has a disapproving but almost pleading voice to the first man, which you quickly deduce is none other than Constable Devinn LeMont. ”I don’t just bed the first wench that fancies my…I mean she doesn’t even seem to – how do YOU know she has a want to step out with me anyway?”

”Yes Devinn, how DO you know this about poor Effram?” A third voice with a friendly cadence to it that sounds like Constable Alastair Rayne.

”Easy to answer there Easy,” answers Constable LeMont with extreme confidence. ”Meg told me she said as much in the dining hall last week. I asked her about it and she told me.”

”Meg says anything about everything or everyone. That gossip of hers is hardly reliable.”

”Oh she’s right more than she’s not, Miff. I also know how to ask the right questions. So does Crown – that’s Jaevin to you there Miff. Don’t ya Crown? You know I’m sayin’ it true! But what I don’t understand Miff is how you work just two doors down from busty Jane in Alchemical Properties and never noticed the way she looks at you. Really Miff, must I do everything for you?”

A different voice pipes in with a remark that would make even a Docker blush. ”Can’t help him $%&# and put the @$%$ into #$%%@@## and make her sing, unless that’s what you’re hoping for eh LeMont? I didn’t figure you for a third leg of the stool.” The voice is higher-pitched but is still male, his crudeness seemingly stealing the good-natured humor out of the room.

”You know Coin, you’re a real ass you know that? Not like you’ve got prospects for the revels tonight and tomorrow.”

Wilhelm Coin. Perhaps the crudest and foulest Constable of the lot, you have found it hard to work with the halfling Constable this Winter, though his fearlessness and cool precision if a firefight goes down is beyond question. ”Wouldn’t you like to know LeMont. Let’s just say that I’ll measure up my stout #%#$ to yours anytime if you want to put a wager on…wait…there’s someone breathing outside the room…”

With no choice but to enter, you find the Briefing Room is occupied by Constables Devinn Lemont, Alastair Rayne, Jaevin Darjudin and Wilhelm Coin, along with a fifth man named Effram Miffrain – one of the researchers of the nearby “R&D” building that specializes in dweomers and the research of claimed objects by Constables in the field.

”What the #$%# do you want bootlicker? Skulking around lookin’ for a report to file?” says Constable Coin to you vehemently with the usual scowl upon his face, seated at a table by himself as he cleans one of his two enchanted and engraved brightsteel pistols before him. The other men seem to disapprove at the remarks, but coolly turn to regard you to see what your reply is.

The Marksman’s Yard:
Grounds east of Outer Yard – see sketch map
As you leave the R.H.C. Headquarters building and stand in the Inner Courtyard, you think back to the sounds coming from the Marksman’s Yard and decide time may be best spent honing your skills on the range. You walk back across the Inner Courtyard and through the Main Blockhouse to the Outer Yard, and from there it is a short stroll back to the Marksman’s Yard on your left through the open archway.

Almost immediately after entering the yard your ears ring with the loud CRACK! CRACK! of two bullets being fired from a firearm in quick succession, followed by the sounds of several men talking over on the long-range course away from your direct view. You remember the yard is enchanted somehow to muffle sound from beyond its confines, though within the Marksman’s Yard the sounds of gunfire are not muted or lessened in any way, as that would not be accurate for training. You pass by two shed-like structures that hold a variety of wooden, paper and metal targets to be used on the various courses: short-range, long-range and spellcasting. Around the periphery of the top of the yard’s walls you see a fine steel mesh that covers much of the top of the enclosures, enchanted and meant to catch any indirect ricochet fire that would threaten to egress beyond the yard. As you move closer in you can see the short-range course is empty – a roofed open structure is roughly divided into firing lanes that end at a maximum distance of forty or fifty paces, suitable for pistols, hand crossbows or even thrown knives. CRACK! Another round fired, followed by a distinctive WHOOSH-thud of a crossbow discharge. More conversation you cannot quite make out, so you head past the short-range to investigate.

At the long-range course you see Constables Josiah Crux and Drake Wellingham, with Drakran steel pepeerbox musket and darkwood heavy crossbow respectively, talking with each other in two of the firing lanes. A third Constable – Gaethan Blackwater - sits cross-legged on top of one of the sighting benches, a beautiful engraved creamwood longbow balanced on his knees even as he checks the straightness and fletchings of arrows from a nearby quiver. Gaethan seemingly is paying the other two men scant attention, while Josiah and Crux seem to be quipping with each other on the parameters of the next difficult shot to make as part of an ongoing contest.

As Josiah spots you while pulling forth two new paper cartridge to load into his double-barreled musket, his jovial demeanor with Drake ends almost immediately. Drake picks up on the new arrival and grows silent as well, clearing his throat as he wenches his crossbow back to a firing position – you notice both men seem to do this at an astonishing rate of speed of those who have spent years practicing and honing their craft.

”Range is closed, four-double-nine,” says Josiah dismissively. ”Got no room over here.”

”Right. No room here for those who could just as easily shoot the man next to ‘em than hit the mark downrange. Try the short-range if you want to practice.” Drake follows up on Josiah’s words with similar practiced arrogance and unfriendliness, looking over to Gaethan to back up what he just said.

”Oh I don’t mind really and I’ve seen the new constable shoot.” Gaethan looks up from his inspection of fletchings and gives you a slight smile and polite nod. [b]”Please join us if you want to.”

The other two men groan and roll their eyes at the polite betrayal, Josiah nearly countering Gaethan with an incredulous gesture to the effect of what are you thinking!?, but Gaethan Blackwater has turned his attention back to his arrows and is oblivious to Josiah’s protest.

After a moment, Josiah Crux grudgingly relents. ”Fine. Take a lane NOT by us then, assuming you have something to shoot with that is.” Drake snickers at the remark and even Gaethan smiles at the jest, but otherwise says nothing as you stand there.

The Meditation Gardens:
Grounds west of R.H.C. HQ building – see sketch map
As you leave the R.H.C. Headquarters building and stand in the Inner Courtyard, a soft breeze and smell of wildflowers catches your attention from nearby. Even at the end of Winter the wild hedges forming the entrance to the Meditation Gardens are blooming with purple lily-like blossoms, an indirect way of inviting you to explore inside its confines. You decide to accept nature’s invitation and walk along the garden pathway, winding this way and that in what almost seems like a hedge maze, though there is only one way to go forward. Your intellect tells you this gardens is tucked away in the space between the Headquarters building and the R&D building wing, but for some reason it seems much larger than that; man-made sounds of the Inner Courtyard grounds quickly fade and are replaced by the trickling sounds of cool water running along a brook. Soon you emerge from the hedges into a small clearing of lower shrubs and soft grasses, with a serene pool at its center that carries a stream from it into two other smaller pools in succession. There are slowly swimming golden fish with whiskers in the largest pond, and beyond you see a rock garden which has rocks and pebbles of varying hues in a pattern that is pleasing to the eye. Ivy covers a nearby wall that must mark the edge of the compound, yet the sounds from beyond cannot be heard. It is a beautiful place that has a distinct sylvan quality to it.

Seated cross-legged by the rock garden are two women who seem to be performing a meditation exercise. The first woman is in fact fully Risuri elvish by her facial features, dressed in soft robes of gray and green silk and with her auburn hair braided and off her shoulders – Constable Kaea Than’dil. A skilled evoker with skyseer talents, she does not seem to notice you as you approach. Yet the other human woman in her thirties in simple grey pants and a white blousy shirt breaks from her meditation and regards you with interest. One of the few constables that seemed interested in actually welcoming you upon your full admittance, her friendly demeanor and efforts of inclusion set her apart from the other “senior” Constables of R.H.C. Flint. Yet for all that, Serena Taflis is considered one of the deadliest women on all of the R.H.C., rumored to be skilled in all manners of assassination tactics, poison use and physiological nerve points that can cause the greatest harm to enemies of Risur. Much of this you concluded is probably just rumor, but Serena’s track record in cases out-country is well documented. Serena has been known to take Constables Sharpton and Dane under her wing and has a penchant for tinkering with technology at the R&D wing, so it is somewhat surprising that she is spending her morning with Kaea in such a natural environment.

”Hello dear. Have you come to join us? By all means you aren’t disturbing us if that’s your concern, and the morning air is perfect for meditation! Come over and have a seat.” Serena pats the ground next to her for emphasis.

Kaea does not break from her meditation, though it seems to you as if her closed eyes tighten and her lips purse slightly as she takes in a carefully measured breath.

Female Human (Risuri) Fighter (tactician) 3rd AC 20/14/16 / HP 33 / F +5 R +5 W +2 / Init +6 / Perc. +7 / Sense Motive +5

Meditation Garden
Having been given an unusual free pass for the day, Gemma is not quite sure what to do with herself. She walks past the armory, and based on the overheard conversation decides to stay well clear of inventory today. As she passes the briefing room and the marksman’s yard, she decides that neither of those hold her interest either. Maybe I can find someone else that has nothing to do. Otherwise I may just have to recruit someone for a spar or something. Oooh! I know! There’s that book back at the flat about the Treatise of Mander’s Rake that I haven’t had a chance to read yet! Gemma suddenly moves a little quicker, excited by the thought of being able to read up on the strategy of a little known but pivotal battle. But she stops short in the Inner Courtyard upon spying one of the purple flowers at the entrance to the Meditation Garden out of the corner of her eye. No, no, no! Not today! But it was too late. She tried so hard not to look at that place whenever she passed by it, almost to the point of turning her head strategically in conversation or briefly shutting her eyes and walking faster (the one tell she couldn’t manage to get rid of). A place that brought so many comfort and grounding and peace. A place that brought her nothing but discomfort and anxiety and the unnerving compulsion to go into the green labyrinth. Dammit all! Fine…let’s get this over with.

Resignedly, she made her way over to the entrance, trying not to touch anything, trying not to enjoy the smell of the wildflowers and the trickling sound of the water. Man, I hate this place! It took her a while to finally figure out why she was compelled to come here again and again and why she hated it so much. It was because, to a very small part of her, it reminded her of home, but not her home on the farm with her mother and father. The very thought of it made her hands shake a little. At least I’ll get to see the fish. I like the fish. They’re the only good thing about this damned place. Give me the city any day over this.

As she rounds one of the hedgerows, she hears Serena Taflis’ voice first, but then spies Kaea Than’dil and the hairs on the back of her neck immediately go up. She knows very well that the elves and the Fey are not the same, but elves are closer to the Fey than any other race and many times have done (and still do) their bidding. Kaea could be one of the nicest elves in the world but Gemma would never know or care to. She would never get to know her or hang out and have tea. She would never let Senior Constable Than’dil get that close…ever.

”Uh…thank you Senior Constable Taflis, but I don’t really meditate. I…uh…forgot! I have to be somewhere. Got to get some extra sparring time in when I can.” Gemma tried to sound in control of herself but her voice was somewhere between light-hearted and stern and certainly off enough to be noticed by Serena.

Now Serena she liked immensely, not just because she was friendly but because of her skill and knowledge. If Serena had been here by herself, Gemma would have stayed for as long as Serena would have tolerated her. But her being here by herself was not the case and discomfort was trumping rational thought and possibility of gaining knowledge at this point.


Meditation Garden
"Pffft...of all places this one is the least to go putting on airs and titles. Call me Serena, and I'm certain you can "spare" a few ticks-and-tocks on this lovely morning to clear your mind dear. A clear mind assists the body after all, and both need practice to be sharp. Wouldn't you agree...Gemma isn't it?" Serena pats again the soft carpet of green grass next to her, this time with more insistence. Gemma knows to not comply at this point would be pushing beyond all boundaries of rudeness, and so she acquiesces.

As Gemma takes a somewhat meditative position similar to Serena, the senior woman leans over and whispers almost conspiratorially, with what can only be perceived as a hint of a giggle. "Truth to tell Gemma, I'm not very good at meditation myself!" With a nod and a mischievous wink she adds in whisper, "I just come here with Kaea because she doesn't want to be alone when she is in the midst of her deep trances, something which I think we all understand. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the peace and serenity here, but it's hard for me to have a clear head without my hands tinkering or working on some puzzle or what-not."

Across from them several paces away, Kaea Than'dil remains deep in her meditative state, though to Gemma it seems that the elven woman's frown deepens ever so slightly.

Human (Risuri) Oracle/Gunslinger/Investigator AC 16/12/14 / HP 30 / F+5, R+7, W+6 / Init. +6 / Perc. +4 / Sense Motive +4 / Max Grit/Luck Pts 8

91 Winter, 499 A.O.V. – Morning
R.H.C. Compound – Front Gates

Emerson sees the walls of the RHC fully two blocks away. "At least it's easy to find the office"

He hums an old marching tune while crossing the street and stops at the left gate. "Morning Hunley" Emerson says cheerily.

”Good Mornin’ Constable! A good mornin’ it is too, on this very last day of the year, isn’t it?”

"Aye, that it is my friend." He steps over the threshold but stops suddenly. "Oh, I almost forgot." Emerson opens the flap on his leather messenger bag, pulls out a bottle of green absinthe and hands it to the sergeant. " For you and the misuss."

Sergeant Stiverson tips his hat and offers a low whistle. "Now, don't go puttin' me in your debt now Mister Hill." I can't accept this."

"You can and you will Hunley. Not debt owed. Just have a great holiday. That is payment enough." Emerson tips his wide brimmed fedora to the sergeant and steps through the front gate.


Meditation Garden

“Oh! Okay.” Gemma reluctantly walks over to the patch of grass next to Serena and sits down in a cross-legged position and tries to settle in. “Um…I wouldn’t want to disturb Const…I mean…excuse me…Kaea.” Gemma tries to relax but can’t. She sits there with perfect posture and stiff as a board, completely proper but not very conducive to meditation. Gemma leans in slightly and confesses in the same whispering tone, “I actually find these gardens…well…not very relaxing, if truth be told. I would much prefer sword play to hone my body and some reading to relax my mind.” Gemma realizes though that her opinion may not be favored by the constables so she quickly adds, “But I do like the fish! Those are relaxing!” As soon as she says it, she wishes she didn’t. The words sound entirely ridiculous to her own ears. She can’t even imagine what they sound like to Serena and Kaea.

Human (Risuri) Oracle/Gunslinger/Investigator AC 16/12/14 / HP 30 / F+5, R+7, W+6 / Init. +6 / Perc. +4 / Sense Motive +4 / Max Grit/Luck Pts 8

Quartermaster’s Office and Armory:

Emerson ignores the small goblin which is not hard to do. He hasn’t seen firearms this fine since the war.

”Constables” Emerson nods to those in the room. He walks over to Babcock, and with the Quartermaster’s permission hefts a Drakkan steel musket. After making sure the musket is safe and unloaded, he welds his cheek to the stock and sweeps the muzzle in a high arc to determine the balance of the firearm. ”Absolutely perfect.”

He hands it back to Babcock with a smile. ”You know, when Ifris and I were on the Argentum we captured a whole room full of muskets like these from a Danoran frigate. The whole lot went down to the bottom of the sea when the Argentum suffered heavy damage at the battle of Sirai. A shame really.”

Skimmer hops over towards Emerson and lets out a low sound, sort of a cross between a warble and a whistle. It bobs and twitches its head, regarding Emerson. ”Why, hello Skimmer.” He extends his hand to pet the mechanical dragon but Skimmer barks and flies back to Talyssa’s shoulder. Constable Hill shrugs his shoulders and turns back to Quartermaster Babcok. ”So, what other wondrous items do you have there?”


Meditation Garden

It doesn’t take long for Gemma to calculate the answer to her question on potentially embarrassing statements. She would think that Kaea Than’dil surely would have heard her comment, yet if she did she gives no indication of it; the meditative trance she is under seems to be fully realized, as her closed eyelids flutter slightly as if in the midst of a nighttime dream.

As for Serena Taflis she does not laugh, though she does show a purely bemused expression on her face, seemingly weighing her words before uttering them quietly. ”Fish hmmm? I suppose they are at that to watch them in their element. Yet is Gemma Atherton a fish out of water here in the presence of two that she deems her superiors? Clearly it is not as relaxing for you as stated!”

Serena chuckles slightly and then adds with a note of what could only be described as sisterly instruction, ”You seem to have a tendency to talk idly and without forethought when you are nervous or uncomfortable, Gemma. Now I tell you this not because it bothers me, but because I assure you there will be missions in your future where your adversaries will pick up on it and use it to their advantage over you. Best to discourage that little habit now before it gets you into trouble out there in the field…and the quiet can help you to take an air of mystery or intimidation, depending on how you hone it.”

Smiling, she encourages Gemma to take a series of deep breaths, as if practicing the forms of meditation together. Some moments pass before Serena Taflis leans in to speak once again. ”I have spoken to Johanna about your group – that’s Instructor Durrance in case you did not pick up her first name – and she tells me that you were the finest with the blade that she had this year, and one of the promising top talents overall that she’s evaluated. Which is high praise coming from Johanna I assure you! Said that not only were your physical forms well-grounded and executed consistently, but that your mental discipline afforded you innovation and creativity in your attacks and defenses….thinking the kingschess match in your mind by several steps to outwit your opponent, is how I think she put it. Tell me, how did you learn it so at such a relatively young age? Surely your coursework at the Battalion is not the sole source of credit for this, is it?”


Quartermaster’s Office and Armory
Nestor Zinjo watches your evaluation of the Drakran steel musket for the length of your evaluation until you hand it back to the Quartermaster, his coal-black eyes watching you intently with his long nose lifted slightly, a frown on his face as if he is smelling something that is decidedly disagreeable. With a final look that seems to say I’ll be watching you closely the Assistant Quartermaster returns to his tally sheets and starts checking in a box of dark spherical objects, well away from the rest of you.

”Truly a great loss,” agrees Ethan Babcock at the tragedy of all that Drakran steel sent to the deep to rust. ”Yet I’m glad they weren’t used on our own people just the same, if those were only the two choices left to it.”

”Indeed,” chimes in Dima Sorginson. "Those of my heritage of Drakyr were far-too willing to sell their crafted tools of death and destruction with those of Danor in the wars, blinded by their so-called efforts of progress. Little do they realize they stained the memories of their forefathers and ancestors by it.” The lack of response to Dima’s sudden criticism of the dwarven race draws out to uncomfortable silence, with only the scrabbling of inkpens and the mechanical chirps of Skimmer to break it. Dima appears unfazed however, and turns his attention back to inspecting the Drakran pepperbox pistol he has successfully requisitioned for himself.

Quartermaster Babcock clears his throat and answers Emerson’s question. ”Oh…bit of this and bit of that. I try to keep the places well-stocked for all kinds of eventualities, but sometimes it’s best not to get too complicated and stick to what works. Let’s see…” Ethan taps his large pronounced chin for a moment in thought. ”We’re well stocked in most items of alchemy of course from R&D – alchemist’s fire and acid, tangle bags and sneezing powder, antitoxins and smelling salts and bloodblock, flash powder and smokesticks. Got some pellet grenades and even some fused ones set for a short delay. Invisible ink, marker dye and weapon blanch kits, alchemical solvents and glue…tindertwigs and sunrods…the list goes on. You mean weapons now? I have Risuri swords and swordcanes, knives and truncheons and the like. Now as for firedust weapons...”

The Quartermaster moves to a weapon rack and draws forth a Risuri steel musket that appears brand-new and mirror-polished. ”I see you know your way around a musket Constable Hill. See what you think about this.” He moves to hand the musket over the counter for Emerson to look at. ”Not Drakran steel mind you but I think it’s a pretty sound design – a new Pemberton model fourteen.”

”WAIT!” Constable Talyssa Dane’s sudden shout stops everyone in their tracks, with Nestor the only one to poke his head up from what he was doing and move to a crouched defensive stance in the back room. Skimmer lets out an equally loud shriek almost in imitation, yet the mechanical raptor stays on her shoulder. Talyssa, however, looks at everyone in apology with her cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

”Nothing’s wrong I just…I…I’m sorry Ethan. Sorry everyone…you too Nestor!” The goblin gives a pronounced Hummph! and his scowl deepens if that is even possible.

”Try to contain yourself, Miss Dane,” admonishes Dima Sorginson as he stares at her a moment longer with raised eyebrows, before turning back to the inspection and operation of his weapon, referring now to a small printed paper manual he procured from somewhere.

”Yes Senior Constable.” She then turns and looks directly at Emerson, her hands fidgeting in her lap as she’s put aside her metal box next to her. ”It just occurred to me that you’re Emerson Hill, the friend of Ifris Lanvaldan. You mentioned the Argentum and I put that together just now…sorry…I’ve spent most of the past two Seasons on the Coaltongue as assigned R.H.C. aide to the King's Chief Shipwright, Geoff Masarde, so I haven’t been keeping up with you all...but you’re the one Ifris said would make it all the way through to selection! She was quite proud of your efforts, even with your…ummm…limitations with your leg. She said a Risuri Marine was trained to deal with pain and always finds a way to overcome it.” Talyssa laughs a nervous little laugh and continues. ”Of course she made a fine pile of shills and crowns on it too, as Carlao and Josiah and Serena and most of the others had you well far down in the odds on the Prospects Pool and said you’d never make it through The Course and what-not, but when Ifris is firm on something I tend to listen to her and so I put my wagers on you as well…ummm…not that we do that sort of thing very much…ummm…”

Talyssa finds her speech falling short under the direct piercing gaze of Dima, who seems to have taken umbrage at the notion of full Constables betting on prospect candidates to see who makes the cut. Apparently, Senior Constable Dima Sorginson did not take part in the Prospects Pool earlier in the year with most of the other Constables.

”Shameful, Miss Dane. A wholly unproductive and detestable action. It makes no difference to me that the other Senior Constables and Constables engage in such things – it still is unwholesome and against regulations.”

"Yes, Senior Constable Sorginson."

Female Human (Risuri) Arcanist 3; AC 12/12T/10FF; hp 17/17; +2F/+3R/+3W; Init +3; Perc. +0; Sense Motive +7

Anneca holds herself back from running, not wanting to be late. Sperring's warnings echo in her ear as she envisions a public chastisement from Inspector Delft in front of everyone in the briefing room, followed by her summary dismissal. It would be an ignominious end to her short career, and another failure to add to her ever-growing list of unsurmounted obstacles. Having lost her scholarship to Mitchell University in Slate for failure to progress in multiple schools of magic - a scholarship that she felt entirely undeserving of at the time, as if it were a pity consolation for an orphan - this would be an added loss. She feels that she had lucked into the commission as a constable by being in the right place at the right time. Inspector Delft had gladly taken her in, saying that a Slate-trained wizard would be a great asset to the RHC. She had explained her limitations to him, but he had accepted her anyway. With a place to live and a path forward in life, she had pushed herself hard to excel as a four-nine-nine; but for it to fall apart because of a late assignment? By the time she reached the door to the briefing room, she has convinced herself that she is about to walk through it for the final time.

When she reads the note, she grits her teeth. She was never in any danger of losing her spot. She lets her heartbeat fade to a normal pace as she tries to convince herself that she deserves the spot here and will not find herself on the outside looking in. She chastises herself for being so gullible as to fall for Sperring's petty lies. She heads first for her bunk to change, maybe get clean and get some rest. Most of her cohorts at the arcane college had been able to use magic with ease to keep themselves clean and fresh, but she had to do it the hard way.


As you make your way from the “guarded” entrance room and into the lower hallway, you pass by the three interrogation rooms and an open guardroom where four soldiers are chatting idly about upcoming off-duty passes. You turn the corner away from the Morgue and towards the Briefing Room, whereupon you hear laughter from several men and a conversation in full swing.

”Really Miff I swear to you by all the planets in the heavens! She likes you truly she does! Why play your cards right, and you’ll have no trouble keeping warm these next nights! Why you’ll just have to come up for air every so often and…”

”Stop Devinn, just STOP will you?” The man evidently going by the name of “Miff” has a disapproving but almost pleading voice to the first man, which you quickly deduce is none other than Constable Devinn LeMont. ”I don’t just bed the first wench that fancies my…I mean she doesn’t even seem to – how do YOU know she has a want to step out with me anyway?”

”Yes Devinn, how DO you know this about poor Effram?” A third voice with a friendly cadence to it that sounds like Constable Alastair Rayne.

”Easy to answer there Easy,” answers Constable LeMont with extreme confidence. ”Meg told me she said as much in the dining hall last week. I asked her about it and she told me.”

”Meg says anything about everything or everyone. That gossip of hers is hardly reliable.”

”Oh she’s right more than she’s not, Miff. I also know how to ask the right questions. So does Crown – that’s Jaevin to you there Miff. Don’t ya Crown? You know I’m sayin’ it true! But what I don’t understand Miff is how you work just two doors down from busty Jane in Alchemical Properties and never noticed the way she looks at you. Really Miff, must I do everything for you?”

A different voice pipes in with a remark that would make even a Docker blush. ”Can’t help him $%&# and put the @$%$ into #$%%@@## and make her sing, unless that’s what you’re hoping for eh LeMont? I didn’t figure you for a third leg of the stool.” The voice is higher-pitched but is still male, his crudeness seemingly stealing the good-natured humor out of the room.

”You know Coin, you’re a real ass you know that? Not like you’ve got prospects for the revels tonight and tomorrow.”

Wilhelm Coin. Perhaps the crudest and foulest Constable of the lot, you have found it hard to work with the halfling Constable this Winter, though his fearlessness and cool precision if a firefight goes down is beyond question. ”Wouldn’t you like to know LeMont. Let’s just say that I’ll measure up my stout #%#$ to yours anytime if you want to put a wager on…wait…there’s someone breathing outside the room…”

With no choice but to enter, you find the Briefing Room is occupied by Constables Devinn Lemont, Alastair Rayne, Jaevin Darjudin and Wilhelm Coin, along with a fifth man named Effram Miffrain – one of the researchers of the nearby “R&D” building that specializes in dweomers and the research of claimed objects by Constables in the field.

”What the #$%# do you want bootlicker? Skulking around lookin’ for a report to file?” says Constable Coin to you vehemently with the usual scowl upon his face, seated at a table by himself as he cleans one of his two enchanted and engraved brightsteel pistols before him. The other men seem to disapprove at the remarks, but coolly turn to regard you to see what your reply is.

Anneca stops, cursing herself silently for picking this particular route. She could have turned around and headed back out the front door, but her poor decision-making had led her into this particular confrontation. With the foul-mouthed halfling in her face, she has no choice but to respond unless she wants to be a mockery in the eyes of the rest of the constables. Anyone unable to stand up for themselves is useless, but fortunately Anneca has plenty of experience in standing up for herself. "Just listening to you getting ready to pull out your members with a measuring stick. Why not just admit that you'd do anything for a chance at LaMont?" The good-natured Devinn gives her a helping hand with a gesture indicating 'I'm all yours' to Coin. "Learn to talk to a woman, why don't you all? I can give you a little practice if you'd like, get you used to the rejection that you'll be facing. Maybe it won't sting so much when you're lonely in your bunk."

Her brief tongue-lashing puts some fun back in the room. Devinn laughs and gets on one knee to be eye-level with Coin. "I didn't know how you felt. Run away with me. We can tell people we are father and son, but our love will be true." He quickly has the others in a laughing mood, regaling them with a lengthy spiel about how they will be on the run from prying eyes. Coin just gets angrier and more red with every passing joke, but Anneca doesn't regret throwing him to the wolves. It's hard to be a woman in a masculine job, and coyly ignoring him would have been the worst thing that she could have done.

Female Human (Risuri) Fighter (tactician) 3rd AC 20/14/16 / HP 33 / F +5 R +5 W +2 / Init +6 / Perc. +7 / Sense Motive +5

Meditation Garden

Somehow, Gemma manages to gain her composure after taking the deep breaths and is able to behave more like her normal self. She is by no means relaxed and refuses to close her eyes in this place. The last time she closed her eyes here in the garden to try and relax, she got a flood of disjointed memories of her time with the Fey when she was a child. She could feel the fear of that creeping up the back of her throat causing it to tighten. Through sheer will, she forces it back down. She’s able to speak again after quietly clearing her throat. “I imagine I was fairly motivated by not wanting to be a farmer and by wanting to be able to defend myself in any situation.” She resettles herself a-bit before continuing. “You see, I haven’t always been able to, so as soon as I had the opportunity, I moved to the city with my sister and I trained and studied until I became very sure of my abilities.” She then mentions, almost as an afterthought, "Oh! And I read a lot of books...mostly the ones that others consider mindlessly Master Ellington's words on The Battle of Minder's Wake Port. Not a well-known work but tactically interesting."
She shifts her position and resettles herself again. “But in answer to your earlier concern, I’m actually rather aware of my tendency to vomit out stupidity when nervous…which is why I don’t usually speak much. But I certainly do need to get better at controlling it, so I appreciate your insight. I wasn’t expecting you to be here and the sudden opportunity to sit with you and speak one on one left me initially…well…flummoxed. I am generally not taken so off guard and I also trust that within my group there are those that are much better at speaking with a silver tongue.”


The Briefing Room

”You can all go and…” Wilhelm Coin strings off a retort so foul it would make most Dockers blush. He looks right to Anneca’s eyes and threatens in a menacing growl, ”That’s one mark, Summers.” Apparently with the rest of the threat left implied, he snatches his two beautifully crafted pistols up and stomps back to the far corner of the briefing room, setting both down again with a loud clang-clang before taking a seat.

As for Devinn LeMont, he apparently is not one to leave things alone at the first hint. ”Wait Coin, doesn’t that mean I’m at…what now…five or six marks? Eight?”

Wilhelm Coin simply gives him an obscene gesture and doesn’t look in his direction, though Jaevin Darjudin clears his throat and ends it on the halfling's behalf. ”Let it lie, Devinn.” Clearly to Anneca’s perceptions the extremely handsome half-elven Jaevin Darjudin is also the true alpha of the room, though his magnetism is enigmatic and much less showy than LeMont. The athletic martial artist Alastair Rayne with his unusual white-locked grey hair smiles with mirth but is more of a spectator in the group. Strangely, the dweomercrafter from R&D, Effram Miffrain, absently straightens his vest but regards Anneca with a definite frown upon his face, as if viewing something distasteful. Before she can say anything to the matter however, Devinn takes over the conversation once again.

”Oh fine there Crown. Have it your way.” The showy bard turns back to you and nods. ”Good one that was Summers. But where are my manners? Let’s’re acquainted with everyone here then? Easy, Crown, Coin, and Miff…and I haven’t decided my name yet today, so I suppose LeMont will have to do.” Alastair and Jaevin both nod to Anneca in turn, though Wilhelm ignores you completely now from the corner of the room, and Effram seems not to nod. Devinn gives a ridiculous full bow with an imaginary hat, and then continues. ”Now then what were we talking about? Oh yes that’s right – Miff’s conundrum on asking a busty breathing R&D girl out and challenging my evidence to it. Boring! We know how that’s destined to turn out, so let us move on to something of greater interest, hmmm…” He snaps his fingers in mock discovery. ”I know! Let us discuss the qualities of our new Associate Constable, Anneca Summers. I shall begin, let’s see…” Devinn takes on a mockery of studying her, speaking to the others as if she’s an object to be studied dispassionately. ”Tough as iron in her mind at least, no mirth in this one. Runs her assigned bull%##& busywork for Ven and completes all her paperwork for Sorginson like clockwork. Reminds me of Rails a bit, and that IS disappointing. Yet her challenge just now shows a ray of humor peeking through the soot and gloom. What else gents?”

”Summers is in the bottom half of her undercover investigative and information gathering skills,” answers Jaevin with a critical tone. ”Passable but needs development, as Serena and I both attested to.”

”Right, right. So Summers isn’t going to infiltrate the Kell Guild or get picked for a Docker’s jank anytime soon. Got it. What else?”

”Well, she could spend more time on her hand-to-hand,” offers Alastair Rayne thoughtfully, ”but her marksmanship skills were impressive I thought, and I’ve not seen anyone else do what she does.”

From the corner Wilhelm snorts a harsh half-laugh. ”That’s $%#@ there Rayne. She’s no sniper that’s for sure. Anyone can hit their marks ten paces out with that blunderbuss she carries, magic or no magic.”

”I think it’s a bit more skilled than that Wilhelm,” answers Rayne crisply. Coin gives a dismissive shrug as he cleans his pistols.

”Let us not forget the fact she’s a scrub-out from her academy,” declares Effram Miffrain in a tone that Anneca detects as unfriendly. Now she sees what the issue is – the bearing of the R&D dweomercrafter almost screams graduate from Pardwight with high honorable marks and pedigree to suit. Evidently nothing is secret to the others during the selection process as an intern prospect.

”So?” Devinn LeMont turns to look at his friend in open question.

”So, she can barely even cast a magical incantation aside from the weapon. Adepts by their third year can achieve better results. To declare oneself an arcane caster when one cannot even perform the most basic of memorized formulas…”

Devinn cuts him off for some reason, an odd edge to his voice. ”And yet she’s a Constable and you’re…what again precisely? A second-choicer? Notice how R&D is filled with proper arcane graduates from Pardwight that couldn’t make the marks for field duty.” He turns to Anneca then in question. ”So Constable Summers, what’s your opinion on this business of your proficiency in spellcasting?”


Meditation Garden

"I can understand that Gemma," whispers Serena with a slight nod. "And I also know what you mean by your group, though I wish that we were all one group here. I know there are those of us that objected to the way recruits have been evaluated and chosen these past two years, but what's done is done. These petty divisions are counterproductive. Yet politics and preferences do exist, and everyone has their favorites it seems."

There is a moment of pause, with only the trickling of water breaking the silence. Serena Taflis regards her for a long moment, as if weighing something in her mind before speaking. "Running errands and performing paperwork is part of the process, but you'll soon be seeing more of the field. I can recommend you to assist me from time to time when the assignment makes sense...and the more you run assignments in the field the better your chances for prestige and advancement. Many of the men here think they deserve such things by happenstance and boasted skill, not through merit. Some even think they are owed the keys to the Inspectorships by virtue of past wars and political connections. Is that the game you want to abide by, Gemma? I mean to prove otherwise with a dose of humility for them thrown in. So can I trust you to help your sisters when feasible, to take direction from me when necessary, to ask for guidance when needed, and overall for you to consider the gender bonds that bind us?"

Human (Risuri) Oracle/Gunslinger/Investigator AC 16/12/14 / HP 30 / F+5, R+7, W+6 / Init. +6 / Perc. +4 / Sense Motive +4 / Max Grit/Luck Pts 8

Quartermaster’s Office and Armory

The Quartermaster moves to a weapon rack and draws forth a Risuri steel musket that appears brand-new and mirror-polished. ”I see you know your way around a musket Constable Hill. See what you think about this.” He moves to hand the musket over the counter for Emerson to look at. ”Not Drakran steel mind you but I think it’s a pretty sound design – a new Pemberton model fourteen.”

”Very nice indeed.” says Emerson, inspecting the Pemberton. He looks up at Ethan and asks ”How about those pepperboxes? Are there anymore tucked away that might eventually be available to a lowly Constable who barely made it past grade?”

After Talyssa’s outburst and Constable Sorginson’s admonition on gambling, Emerson adopts a stern look and chimes in ”Yes, going forward, let us not fall victim to such ignominious pursuits.”

Dina Sorginson grunts and turns back to his paperwork. Emerson can only assume that was his way of agreeing to his statement.

As soon as Emerson is sure Dina will not look back up, he looks at Talyssa and mouths ”How much did you win?” while rubbing his thumb and fingers together.


Quartermaster's Office and Armory

Neither Dima Sorginson nor Nestor Zinjo pick up on the exchange, though both Ethan Babcock and Talyssa Dane do. Talyssa is barely able to stifle a snorting snicker behind a hasty hand to her mouth, the sound muffled by a well-timed series of mechanical warbles from Skimmer. She recovers quickly and looks at Dima to see if the Senior Constable is watching, then smiles and uses her hands to convey a decent return on her questioned "investment" of him, nodding eagerly. The Quartermaster just smiles and shakes his head to himself at both Emerson and Talyssa, opening up another box to start checking in its contents. "Just a few more tallies Nestor and then we'll close the place up until the First of Spring next year."

As Talyssa Dane offers to help count for them, it is Dima that addresses Emerson next directly. "Associate Constable Hill. Veteran of the Fourth Yerasol War and colleague of Constable Lanvaldan as Miss Dane so clearly blurted out." Talyssa scowls at Dima but does not dare interrupt him, though Skimmer lets out an irritating shriek. Dima, however, pays them no mind and seems intent on sizing Emerson up. "I served in the war of course, which is how I first became acquainted with Senior Constable Ven on the field of battle. Recommended him to the R.H.C., though even if I had not I am certain he would have gained his badge anyway. Yet I digress..."

It suddenly occurs to Emerson that the dwarven Senior Constable is definitely not Drakran, but Risuri in his mannerisms, lack of accent and other affectations that only a native-born would display. Though not completely unheard of, dwarves and Drakyr usually go hand-in-hand with one another. Yet to Emerson's mind, other than his racial features, he could pass for a Risuri from any of the cities or large towns.

Dima Sorginson continues his discourse as if recalling Emerson's specifics for the first time. "Yes, despite obvious physical limitations you bested many in the examinations these past Summer and Fall seasons. Your military training is evident in your above-average scribing and translation of mission reports, briefings and requisitions. I respect such efforts of discipline, and applaud your intolerance for this foolishness which some of the Constables engage in to waste time and resources. Also, your highest marks in combat training were with pistols I believe, which implies you have first-hand knowledge."

Considering something for a moment, Dima turns to pick up the Drakran steel six-shot pepperbox pistol from the box and holds it out to Emerson, saying by way of explanation, "Constable Crux convinced me this would be a superior weapon to keep at my side besides my hammer and dag. Though I am not eager for these technological weapons, I must keep up with the times as we move into the next century. Yet even after reading this manual I find the particulars of clearing and maintaining the pistol unintuitive with all of these barrels. In efforts to minimize a misfire should I need to use it, would you mind illuminating and demonstrating the particulars to me, Constable Hill?"

Female Human (Risuri) Fighter (tactician) 3rd AC 20/14/16 / HP 33 / F +5 R +5 W +2 / Init +6 / Perc. +7 / Sense Motive +5

Meditation Garden

Gemma thinks hard before making her next comments. “I believe in honesty when honesty is due. I have never gotten on particularly well with women. I’ve yet to figure out if it’s my overall demeanor or my reluctance to participate in tea parties or wear ball gowns. I know that not all women do that sort of thing, but many of prominence and political persuasion do…and I’m all together terrible at that game despite its many uses.” Gemma starts to perk up a little at her next thought. “Now, I would very much like to assist you with assignments from time to time as they come up. Your skill is exceptional and I would do well to learn from you.” Gemma takes a quick moment to decide if she will say what’s in her head next…and decides she should. “And your personality is generally more pleasant than a number of the other Constables.” She is genuinely not intending to “brown nose” as it were, but is very excited at the prospect of working with Serena because of her expertise in her field. However, she doesn’t feel the same pull towards overall sisterhood or getting the best of men. As far as she’s concerned, each sex has their own pros and cons and her reactions towards either is based on intuition and gut-feeling. “As for men, I’ve gotten along fine with most of them. The problems that I’ve found, though, in dealing with them is that a good deal many don’t like being bested by a woman, while a number more seem to think that pretty means stupid or unaccomplished." Gemma shrugs. "Some of them are just plain a!$##$&@s, although there are women that fit that description as well, and I’m not particularly fond of being called “humorless” by the opposite sex. As far as I’m concerned, the substance of each person should be based on their own merit.” Gemma realizes that she’s just been blathering on, but she finds Serena easy to talk to and doesn’t get the opportunity often. “But forgive me. Those are my own opinions and I tend not to share them often.”

Human Alchemist (Grenadier / Saboteur) 1 AC 16/13/13 / HP 10/10 / F +3 R +5 W +1 / Init. +3 / Perc. +5 / Bombs 5/5)

Some things change, some stay the same. Arthur Wilde murmur to himself as he glanced at the grey, soot covered walls of the R.H.C. Headquarters in Flint. The black man took a final drag from his cigarette before flicking it onto the black-grey cobblestone gutter. The ash hissed as it hit the water. He never looked back. Sauntering upto the walls, Arthur pulled out his pack of leaf and tapped another cig out with him palm. An onlooker might have noticed the hand was pink and shiny at odds with his ebon face. The skin was pulled tight over the hand and white cracks ran along his fingers. Explosives could be a dangerous thing, even to their maker. It was a lesson that Arthur had learned earlier in life. Flicking his finger out, a spark lit the tube already hanging from his lip. He took a drag.

Hands steady as a rock.

Leather boots clicked across the stone. Arthur flashed his badge and kept walking. His trench coat spilled out behind him as he passed through the outer yard and into the inner courtyard and then through towards Assistant Chief Delft's office. looking at the note, Arthur frowned. He took another pull then grasped the cigarette in his left hand and nudged the note. A smoky haze rose up from his hand. Frowning, Arthur dropped the note back on the desk before turning back out of the office wordlessly. Lets call a boondoggle a boondoggle, eh?

The Marksman’s Yard

Peacocks and poppenjays.. That was the phrase that came to Arthur as he spotted Josiah and Drake Preening, prettily. Flipping his hands outward, Arthur shrugged. He was handy with a musket, but firearms cost money. But then again, firearms weren’t his specialty. Explosives were.

Frowning, Arthur turned to regard the three men. I'm a fair shot, but no, I've not been issued a firearm. But that’s not why I was brought on to serve.

Sleight of Hand 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25

Smiling faintly, Arthur turned his right hand in a quick gesture and whereas before it was empty, now it held a small black cylinder. Then, quicker than you can say "jack rabbit", Arthur had the fuse lit from the glowing end of the cigarette held in his mouth.


No, Firearms are pretty, but there's more than one way to harvest firedust. Arthur said quietly, holding the grenade in his hand as the fuse hissed and sputtered menacingly.

Human (Risuri) Oracle/Gunslinger/Investigator AC 16/12/14 / HP 30 / F+5, R+7, W+6 / Init. +6 / Perc. +4 / Sense Motive +4 / Max Grit/Luck Pts 8

Quartermaster's Office and Armory

”By all means.” Emerson offers as Sorginson hands him the pistol.

Once in hand, Emerson marvels at the craftsmanship of the pepperbox. He rotates his wrist left and right to see the brightwork on each side. He stops suddenly and inspects the action of the hammer. ”Truly magnificent.” He points out some of the fine details to Dima.

”Look at the metalwork on this hammer. While it is decorative in nature, this piece of filigree here helps contain the firegem in the mount on the hammer. This insures that you get proper ignition and greatly decreases the chance of a misfire.”

”Your friends are right Constable. This here is an excellent addition to your current armament. Just think of this piece as six pistols in one. You would load each of the barrels as you would any normal pistol. The only difference with this one aside from the obvious superior craftsmanship is that you can rotate the barrels so you can fire off multiple shots in the time it would take a normal man to reload his firearm once.”

Emerson holds the pistol up to the light to Dima can get a better look at it. ”See this small lever here where your thumb would normally rest? Once you’ve fired your first shot, you would depress this with your thumb. Then take your left hand, and rotate the barrel clockwise until you feel and hear a click, like this.” He works the action so the Senior Constable can see clearly. ”It’s really quite easy once you get the hang of the rotation.”

Emerson deftly turns the pistol around handle first so the Constable can holster his newly acquired weapon.

Female Human (Risuri) Arcanist 3; AC 12/12T/10FF; hp 17/17; +2F/+3R/+3W; Init +3; Perc. +0; Sense Motive +7
DM Vord wrote:

The Briefing Room

Devinn cuts him off for some reason, an odd edge to his voice. ”And yet she’s a Constable and you’re…what again precisely? A second-choicer? Notice how R&D is filled with proper arcane graduates from Pardwight that couldn’t make the marks for field duty.” He turns to Anneca then in question. ”So Constable Summers, what’s your opinion on this business of your proficiency in spellcasting?”

Anneca stares at Devinn for a few moments, trying to size him up. She feels that he is challenging her just as much as the others are, but in a more circumspect way. Being trusting is not in her nature, but she fights down the urge to tell him to screw himself. Devinn is, after all, her comrade-in-arms. It may come to a point where her life relies on his knowledge of her abilities, or vice-versa. It may not come naturally to her, but she has to trust him on some level. "What's the point of a spell if it won't put down a threat? You can have all the spells in the world to create illusions or mess with people's minds, but relying on someone else to stop a threat to yourself is asking for trouble. Yes, I might be useless with spells outside elemental and force spells, but that's how I would prefer it anyway. When some thug is trying to kill you in an alley, would you rather have magic to find out what color his underwear is - or would you rather be able to change the very chemistry of the world around us to put him down before he can do one of us harm?"

She gestures to Effram with a hard edge in her eyes and voice. "When's the last time you saw one of the robes-and-books crowd get into a fight? You'll see them standing at the edge, watching their friends get torn to pieces while they dally around with figuring the perfect spell to show off their brilliance. Meanwhile, people are dying. There aren't a lot of situations in which bringing a target's core temperature to a thousand degrees is not useful. That's what I think of my magic and its limitations." She stands in front of them, defiant and proud of her abilities.


The Briefing Room
Devinn purses his lips in brief thought as if weighing your reasoning behind the so-called limitations of arcane expertise leveled against you by Effram Miffrain. Around Anneca, she can feel the eyes of the other Constables weighing her words as well, the heat of the perhaps unfair scrutiny is not lost upon her. The enigmatic Jaevin’s reaction to her statement is, of course, a mystery. Yet Alastair Rayne seems irked at the bold manner of Effram by which your reputation was accosted. Even Wilhelm Coin has stopped efforts at polishing and watches with interest. Only Effram Miffrain seems outraged, his mouth working to find some string of a retort leveled in counterpoint. A long uncomfortable moment of silence goes by as opinions are reevaluated and decisions are made.

Devinn, however, is the first to reply. He smiles and simply says, ”Sounds good to me! So what if you flopped-out of some stuffy school of arcane snobbery. You didn’t apply to become the Principal Minister of the King now did you? Why even Jet…err that’s Talyssa Dane to you there Summers…why even she has things she knows well and doesn’t know, bending metal and fusing it with clockworks and the like.” Alastair nods vigorously in agreement, and the others seem to shrug in mild acceptance.

Miffrain, however, does not relent and his voice is cold and clipped in the reply. ”Accomplishment on basic patterns and theorems is hardly what you…why I could cast a abjuration-warding from fire and effectively negate your attack! You know, I do not have to listen to this and I still have valued work to do before the year’s end. Excuse me.” Staring straight ahead and not even acknowledging Anneca, Effram Miffrain stalks out of the briefing room.

Looking past her shoulder, LeMont is not one to let others steal the room and calls out after him. ”You know she technically outranks you Miff. Not a ‘by your leave’ or any of that? No? Huh.” Devinn sighs theatrically and says, ”Poor Miff. I’ll have to fix that later on.” He then winks to Anneca, adding, ”I like you, Summers! You don’t wilt like some North Shore flower, no, but you’ve got some wit-and-quip there! Definitely not like Rails.”

Yet just when she thinks she’s out of it, the constable bard notices the somewhat haggard state of her physical appearance. Of course, he decides to comment about it in front of the rest. ”Say now Summers, rough night there?” He sniffs decidedly in the air at her. ”Have we been cavorting a bit early for the end-year revels by chance? Do tell! Tavern of choice or perhaps it was a private party that you…”

”Aww Devinn c’mon, that’s just too far,” interrupts Alastair.

”She’s been out all night playing nursemaid on assignment with Sperring you ponce,” says Wilhelm Coin matter-of-factly. Devinn, Jaevin and Alastair all turn to him with openly questioning looks on their faces, causing the halfling constable to reply defensively to how he knows this. ”What? I read the Briefing Boards you dolts. You should try it sometime. Sperring took an optional assignment that Saxby wanted done to grease the wheels with Flint Police, since they’re stretched with the end-year celebrations.”

”What a good boy,” says Devinn LeMont derisively.

”Yeah, well I’ll wager he didn’t expect to have a tag-along with him,” answers Wilhelm with a wicked grin on his face. ”Saxby got him good on that one.”

”Serves him right with his perpetual disregard for backup,” adds Alastair Rayne.

Jaevin Darjudin, who up to this point seemed mildly unimpressed at the whole business, perks up with interest. ”Really? Volunteering for extra assignment, hmmm? Well Summers, you could pick up a lot from Anderson Sperring and his methods. He really is the best at what he does.”

Devinn scoffs audibly. ”Makala still bests him, Crown. He thinks he can kiss-ass past her but everyone knows it, including Saxby and Delft. Only he doesn’t know it.”

”Perhaps true, but there are areas where he even outshines her.”

”That’s hardly likely.”

”I agree with Devinn, but it’s a moot point once she gets transferred to Resilience in Slate in the coming Season,” offers Alastair. ”Anyway, he would be top-board then with the Seniors, but his arrogance is always going to hold him back in Lady Saxby’s eyes.”

”And Carlao Ven is not arrogant?”

”No, he is that, but not to her. That’s the difference.”

All of the men seem to agree on that point. Then Jaevin Darjudin looks to Anneca and speaks to her with a mild smile and a tone of camaraderie for the first time that she can remember since becoming a Constable. ”Well, Anneca Summers. Why don’t you have a seat and you can tell us the misery that Anderson Sperring put you through then?” He points to a seat nearby between he and Alastair.

”Well I guess you’ve passed!” pronounces Devinn in a mock-whisper and a wink, standing aside for her to take a chair with the others.


The Marksman’s Yard

Time seems to slow down to where each second seems like a clock’s full revolution. It is an experience Arthur knows well and has come to appreciate. After all to him, the mind has to be able to operate in these moments between seconds, where each fraction of a second allows for preparation and action. Trained to patiently handle the passing of hours to gain a chance at a few seconds of opportunity, it is one of several unique qualities that govern his trade. It is also the reason why those of lesser discipline or experience in his craft often end up dead or crippled.

The three constables near him all react near instantly, with ingrained principles of training imbedded into their instinctive reactions. Sadly - or perhaps not so sadly if Arthur has to rely on one of these men for cover in an actual mission – the trio do not freeze and all move without hesitation, even if surprise is clearly evident on their faces. Yet each reacts differently in accordance to their nature.

The somewhat addled half-elven ranger, Gaethan Blackwater, springs up from his cross-legged seat on top of the table, even as he hefts his longbow in his main hand out before him; in his offhand he clutches a single arrow. He crouches slightly to leap up into the air and forward in an aerial somersault, the position of his feet allowing him to logically launch in one of two directions away from the blast. Nimble. Defensive. Catlike.

”You crazy son of…” is all Drake Wellingham can angrily sputter as he prepares to duck and roll to his left behind the partial cover of a shooting bench, having to leave his heavy crossbow cocked and loaded but too unwieldy to evade with. He is prepared for the worst, looking for defensive cover before considering a counterattack. Wise, yet he cedes initiative to the attacker.

As for Josiah Crux, he simply lets the pepperbox musket begin to fall from its now free-standing upright position on the ground before him. Crouching and his right hand moving impossibly fast to a Drakran steel pistol at his belt, Arthur realizes the renowned sniper is not only an expert with the musket and similar two-handed firearms. Josiah is crouched and poised, ready to draw and fire at Arthur before the grenade would leave his hand. Poised, like a snake. Offensive. Deadly.


Female Human (Risuri) Arcanist 3; AC 12/12T/10FF; hp 17/17; +2F/+3R/+3W; Init +3; Perc. +0; Sense Motive +7

The Briefing Room

Anneca takes her invited seat, rigidly sitting up as if unable to relax in the presence of others. She still seems skeptical of their acceptance, even skittish when not spouting bravado. "Sperring tried to convince me that I was going to be late for roll call and briefing when he knew full well that we weren't having it today. And that's after I saved his bacon - with the threat of fiery death," she loudly calls out to the hallway to the absent Effram. "I don't think he appreciated having a partner, even though it was for the best. Tagalong, he called me. He seems to forget that we're on the same team, fighting for the same things. I don't think he's ever really seen the streets or how bad things can get when the constables let crime and disorder run rampant. He seems to think that it's a game, cops and robbers with real swords. I'd like to tell him that it isn't a game - good people, poor or not, die when we don't do our jobs. The rich don't care when one of us - the poor, that is, not the constables - get killed by a highjacker looking for another score of drugs. It's up to us - the constables, this time - to care and to do something about it. The wealthy can afford bodyguards and private detectives and whatever it takes to be safe, but our protection is all the normal folks of this city are ever gonna get."

She notices the peculiar looks that the others give her when she finishes. "Don't get me wrong. I'm not a revolutionary or anything, or even a Docker. I just know who gives a crap and who doesn't. If we as constables don't care about the people that we serve, no one will."

Human Alchemist (Grenadier / Saboteur) 1 AC 16/13/13 / HP 10/10 / F +3 R +5 W +1 / Init. +3 / Perc. +5 / Bombs 5/5)

The fuse hissed and sputtered like an angry snake, as Arthur held it in his flame scarred hand while staring down at Josiah Crux's gun hand. It was pale white, unscarred and clean. And so very different from my own.

The seconds seemed to stretch by. The small iron sphere felt cold. Arthur watched the men's reactions. Fight or flight a modern theorist had called it. Fight, flee or fawn. Arthur wasn't sure about that, but having grown up on the wrong side of the law in the Nettles, he had learned that when a confrontation arose, and it always would, you needed to strike first. He had seen it when he had ran with Kell and later when he enlisted in the Risuri Army. Power and authority required a pecking order and Arthur knew that if showed himself weak now, he would never live down that reputation. No it was better to be seen as wild then weak.

Staring at Josiah's hand, Arthur almost smiled. Explosives are a dangerous thing Josiah. Unless you’re an expert you can never be sure what they can do. Pressure reactive, Corrosive, Oxidizers.. all of that and more. Shrugging, Arthur twisted his hand slightly and glanced at the metal sphere in his hand. Or this could simply be a harmless casing. But unless you’re an expert you can never know. Are you an expert Josiah? Arthur stated quietly starring into the man's eye.



The Marksman's Yard

"The bastard bomber is crazy as a..." calls out Drake Wellingham to the clear leader of the trio, but he is interrupted before he can finish it. Of the three he is now without his prized weapon, though he has a modicum of cover that the others lack. Drake's hand now clutches a brightsteel dagger that he must have drawn during his move for cover.

"Shut up Drake." Josiah Crux's hand twitches slightly in ready anticipation, his voice eerily cool. His eyes never break from Arthur's own.

"I tell you he's going to blow us all up if you don't put him..."

"I said SHUT IT!" Still no movement of drawing his pistol, Josiah licks his lips and regards Arthur with what only can be interpreted as a slight smile. Either that or the experienced sniper has the look of the completely insane. Hard to tell under the circumstances.

On the other side, Gaethan stays perfectly couched, ready to leap away in the blink of an eye. It is hard to say how fast Gaethan could perform his leap-and-roll, nock the arrow to bow and bury it in Arthur's neck, but the ranger seems to take his queue from Josiah as well.

It is down to Arthur, and Josiah.


"Now balls you have," Josiah says with a shrug of his shoulder to the targets down lane, "but can you put it where you mean to? I say call it, and do it."

Behind Josiah stand the lanes that both he and Drake were using to take trick shots with what look like metal trap-targets.



The Briefing Room

Looks around the room show reactions from mild agreement to amusement, though Wilhelm Coin in the far corner of the room seems wholly uninterested in her thoughts altogether.

Alastair nods in agreement and says encouragingly, "You won't get an argument from me here Anneca, I'm very much interested in protection of the people."

"I myself am a sympathizer of the Dockers, Anneca Summers," replies Jaevin smoothly. The stunning bardic detective prepares to say more but Devinn cuts in, having just taken a seat next to her and withdrawing a deck of cards.

"Actually I am a Docker, as you well may know and have heard, or at least one of my personas here in Central by the name of Malcolm the Magnificent..."

"Devinn SHUT UP!" echo both Alastair and Jaevin and nearly the same time, ready to shout down the man before he goes any further with his ridiculousness. Devinn shrugs but smiles to himself, focusing on a one-handed shuffle of his deck. Jaevin Darjudin clears his throat and is just about to respond to Anneca when Wilhelm Coin decides to add his own opinion to the mix.

"The poor can go @%#&'s all they know how to do anyway, that and $#&*!" He leers viciously at the rest, including Anneca, looking apparently for a reaction.

"Wil, please leave off will you?" Jaevin gives a curt gesture to warn off the others from responding to the halfling, even as Wilhelm shrugs and chuckles to himself, turning his attention once again back to cleaning his weapons.

"Now then. What I was about to say was that it's fine Anneca Summers to have that...shall I say it even with the pun have that fire of emotion to keep you going..."

"Ha! Nice one Crown!"

"...thank keep you focused and driven on the mission. As long as it is focused and does not get out of control - something I think with your "talents" that you well understand. Yet for others like Anderson Sperring, or Makala Fileccia or Josiah Crux or even myself, the idea of being dispassionate and engaging in "a game" is how we prefer to prepare ourselves for missions. You are correct - Anderson thinks it all as a game and a means to an end it is true, but that allows him to do what needs doing without conflicting emotions getting in the way. When you've performed assignments in the R.H.C. as long as some of us have, Anneca Summers, the risk of burning out has claimed more than one Constable over the years."

Devinn starts laughing even as Jaevin wrinkles his nose at the last of his own statement. "Another unintended pun with fire. Sorry about that."

Female Human (Risuri) Arcanist 3; AC 12/12T/10FF; hp 17/17; +2F/+3R/+3W; Init +3; Perc. +0; Sense Motive +7

"The moment that I stop caring about the people that we help and serve is the day I'm turning in my badge." Anneca clears her throat, looking to get away from the weighty subject. "And I can cast more than just fire spells. Acid, cold, force, lightning... Fire's the one I like best, though. The chemical reaction of the oxidation is like no other in its effectiveness."


Quartermaster's Office and Armory

Senior Constable Dima Sorginson takes back the pepperbox pistol with an acknowledging nod and grunt, holding the weapon down but attempting to perform the rotating action as Emerson just instructed. It takes him a moment to work it out, but he eventually gets the rudimentary hang of it after a few tries. "Ahh. There we go. I see now what you mean by the quickness of the action if given enough practice. Excellent."

Dima places the pistol in the accompanying holster and then back in the box with his paper cartridges, intending to work it all out at a later time. He seems pleased though with what he has gleaned from the Associate Constable. "I have used a Risuri brightsteel pistol before, so I am familiar with standard training of cleaning and maintenance. If the process differs greatly with this design, I would be appreciative if you would write it down for me to work with later."

Dima turns to Quartermaster Babcock and inquires, "Anything else you require from me before I depart, Master Babcock?"

"No no, Constable Sorginson. You're all set and sealed by my ledgers."

"Very well then." After a moment of consideration, Dima Sorginson turns to Emerson Hill and asks him a question. "Constable Hill, do you have more business here to inquire about? If so that is acceptable, but if not then perhaps you may walk with me to make the rest of the rounds."

Talyssa Dane briefly looks up from her scrutiny on her strange clockwork cube, brushing a lock of dark hair aside as she works on some part of it with a metal tuning tool. She gives a brief look to Dima, then Emerson, before turning her attention back to the cube.

Choice is yours to remain so you can talk with Talyssa Dane uninterrupted, or to leave with Dima on his rounds and converse with him solely. There is no wrong choice.


The Briefing Room

Devinn performs a quick shuffling of his deck and then draws a card off the top, though from his reaction it apparently wasn't what he was expecting to see. He places the card back in the middle of the deck and shuffles once again. "Perhaps you would allow me the opportunity to test a little trick of mine with your spellcrafting there? I'd like to see what fun you're talking about with what you can do."

Alastair Rayne frowns at Devinn and then gives her a meaningful look.
"I wouldn't do that, Anneca." Looking back to Devinn he says, "Talyssa didn't like that at all when you stole from her, and said it felt all wrong like bugs crawling up her spine."

"Borrowed," answers Devinn pointedly to Alastair. "Not stolen. The borrowing doesn't last long anyway...hey you know what I just realized? Summers here with her 'reactions' and 'oxidizzinaters' and chemical ballyhoos sounds a lot like Bridget." He turns to Anneca and clarifies for her. "Bridget Sharpton? Our resident alchemist who actually made Constable rank a few years back and not sitting in the R&D Wing brewing extracts all day long. She's got a keen mind you might appreciate."

"She's on assignment with Constable Moreschi right now, in-country so the Briefing Board says."

"That Mitchell expedition to some old ruins discovered in the High Bayou, right?"

"Yes that's right."

"What tier and type was it?"

"Second Tier I think...uh it was Verdant Seer with Spear on Double Horizontal Bars."

"That long?"

"Yeah, not expected until well into Spring."

As the men chat about the mission classification, Anneca recalls her memorization of the terminology that R.H.C. uses to categorize and rate assignments. Though they change the aspects of it every few months, the overall breakdown is familiar to her. For example, the assignment she was just on with Constable Anderson Sperring was classified as "Third Tier, Verdant Wolf with Staff on Field of Single Sunburst." Technically this classified the mission as low-priority, of an investigative nature, with the expected level of danger to be low, authorizing non-lethal use of force, and anticipated to take only one day. Conversely, the mission the others were talking about for Constables Sharpton and Moreschi was classified as medium-priority to the R.H.C., of an observational nature, with the expected level of danger to be low but with authorization of force to be preferably non-lethal, yet lethal if necessary. Time of the assignment was two monthly cycles, putting their return well into Spring.


Meditation Garden

Serena Taflis smiles faintly and looks at the younger woman with bemusement. "So...that's a possible "maybe" then, is it?" She chuckles and holds up a hand. "Perhaps it was too eager of me to enlist you in such a way, seeing how you have not even been given a true assignment yet by the Inspectors. You have spent much time getting to know your fellows that were recruited with you, which I understand. Still, time for your first formal assignment looms day after tomorrow."

Gemma skips a beat as she hears of this previously unknown news - though she knows of the King's arrival and the blessing of the new warship R.N.S. Coaltongue, it was unclear if the new Constables were to have true assignments on matters of protection. Evidently that has been decided at some level already, if Serena is to be believed.

"Tell you what Gemma. Once you get out there on assignment and prove your mettle, you'll want to do nothing else. Certainly you'll see that your busywork errands and filing of other Constable's briefings will lose their luster quite quickly. Yet how to catch the eye of the Inspectors to catch your fair share, hmmm? I think you will quickly see what I am..."


Serena's talk is abruptly shattered by the piercing scream of Kaea Than'dil just mere paces away from both of them. The elven woman's eyes have shot open even as she falls backward to the grassy ground from the meditative position she maintained up to a moment ago. The look upon Kaea's face can only be described as sheer terror, and the fading of her scream lasts only a moment as she takes in a rattling breath to start up again.

Almost as quickly and unexpected for a woman that could be nearly double Gemma's own age, Serena Taflis has tumbled forward from her seated position to spring up into a half-jump forward, closing the distance to the elvish woman in the time it takes to blink. Gemma sees that Serena has produced a knife from somewhere in her robes - a jet black serrated dagger of true adamantine that she holds deftly in the palm of her right hand, ready to attack whatever is assaulting Kaea. Yet no other presence seems to be with them in the gardens, and after a tense moment of looking for threats she kneels to the ground to grab up Kaea and hold her around the shoulders.

"Kaea! KAEA! It's alright it's me Serena! Kaea, listen to me! What is it that you see...stop screaming and tell me, talk to me! What is it? KAEA!"

For a brief instant it seems to Gemma that Kaea Than'dil does not have any understanding of Serena's presence, as her eyes are wide and fixed unblinking at the sky, her mouth moving in the presence of some horror that she cannot describe in words. Gemma stands, but honestly does not know what to do to assist either woman. Yet Kaea finally starts speaking in a babbled rush to them, speaking words as if describing a waking nightmare she cannot escape from.

"The M-Maiden's Moon! R-red Maiden's Moon, stained with blood! Oh dear dear spheres of the Heavens! The moon is stained with blood, it drips and stains me where I s-stand, where we are! The maiden screams and bleeds and...and and FALLS down, down into a blackness that burns! Yet it is not fire which burns her and boils her, sears her! But there is FIRE, yes I can SEE it now and it burns hot and melts my flesh and cracks my bones and...OH I SEE IT AND BY THE SPHERES I CANNOT STOP THE PAIN AND MY DEATH!"

Kaea wails in a keening sort of cry then, and it is all Serena can do but to hug her and hold her in support, hugging her in something of a rocking motion. "Shhhh...shhhh Kaea it's not...not you Kaea...Maiden's Moon was last night you know and now it wanes to Early Dreamer's. This vision of yours cannot be about you."

Tears flow down the elven woman's cheeks now, and she gulps for air as if she emerged from drowning. "N-n-noooo. B-but it happened Serena. IT HAPPENED! Bloody rending and falling and burning! The Maiden's Moon." Kaea takes another ragged breath in and blinks once, then looks to Serena Than'dil in a manner akin to begging. "And that is just the start of it...t-there is more to come. I see more blood dripping from the Maiden and the trickle turns to a deluge, with screams of the dying all around. I s-see blood awash in a shower of golden rain, and the heat of flame renewed, and...a moth that moves to the flame to be burned. I don't know how...I can't..." Kaea's eyes seem to grow heavy all of a sudden, as if she is about to pass out in Serena's arms from exhaustion.

Female Human (Risuri) Fighter (tactician) 3rd AC 20/14/16 / HP 33 / F +5 R +5 W +2 / Init +6 / Perc. +7 / Sense Motive +5

Meditation Garden

Gemma stands stock still, having never heard anyone scream like that in her life. But despite her surprise, she reacts instantly. Within mere seconds she has a hand on her sword, ready to draw. She takes a visual survey of the area, tactically looking for any threats. And tries to commit to memory most of what Kaea has just screamed out, assuming it will have future importance but not having any idea what it means.

Well…that doesn’t sound good at all. Blood awash in a shower of golden rain. Flesh burning and boiling. What the hell??

She makes the decision not to run or even move until she can assess the situation based on Serena’s response. Calmly and collectedly, all that she can manage to say is a few words. What can I do? Do you need me to get anyone?

I hope she doesn’t do that a lot. That would be horrible. Puts my nightmares to shame, for sure.

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Human Alchemist (Grenadier / Saboteur) 1 AC 16/13/13 / HP 10/10 / F +3 R +5 W +1 / Init. +3 / Perc. +5 / Bombs 5/5)

[/ooc]The Marksman's Yard[/ooc]

A bead of sweat ran down Arthurs back. His eyes were locked in Josiah's but he could see the fuse burning low from the corner of his eye. He knew he only had a few moments left. The tension was so thick in the room it could have been cut with Drakes brightsteel dagger. Arthur considered himself a gambler, but he had never been the best judge of character. It was hard to tell what Josiah's smile held. Was it a bluff or a call? Arthur blinked slowly. A call then.

Flashing a razor-sharp smile, the black man nodded. Between the third and fourth lane. Shrapnel to take both traps.


No sooner was the words out of the demolitionists mouth, then he had pulled his arm back and with a quick but strong lob, threw the hissing steel sphere.

Clang! Came the muffled sound of steel striking concrete as the ball bounced once, and then twice before landing in between the traps at the end of the third and fourth lane.


BOOM! A hail of steel shard's and a clap like thunder exploded down range. Above the bombastic sound was a keening hiss of steel cutting the air and a black ring of firedust haloing outward from the center of the blast.

Arthur smiled again as his nose scrunched up at the smell of firedust. The cigarette between his lips had all but burned down to a nub. He reached for another smoke.

SA: Target a specific grid intersection. Treat this as a ranged attack against AC 5.
Attack Roll: [dice]1d20 + 5[/ooc]
Splash Damage: 7

Human Alchemist (Grenadier / Saboteur) 1 AC 16/13/13 / HP 10/10 / F +3 R +5 W +1 / Init. +3 / Perc. +5 / Bombs 5/5)

The Marksman's Yard

A bead of sweat ran down Arthurs back. His eyes were locked in Josiah's but he could see the fuse burning low from the corner of his eye. He knew he only had a few moments left. The tension was so thick in the room it could have been cut with Drakes brightsteel dagger. Arthur considered himself a gambler, but he had never been the best judge of character. It was hard to tell what Josiah's smile held. Was it a bluff or a call? Arthur blinked slowly. A call then.

Flashing a razor-sharp smile, the black man nodded. The trap on the third. Shrapnel to take both the traps on the second and fourth too.


No sooner was the words out of the demolitionists mouth, then he had pulled his arm back and with a quick but strong lob, threw the hissing steel sphere.

Clang! Came the muffled sound of steel striking concrete as the ball bounced once, and then twice before landing in between the traps at the end of the third and fourth lane.


BOOM! A hail of steel shard's and a clap like thunder exploded down range. Above the bombastic sound was a keening hiss of steel cutting the air and a black ring of firedust haloing outward from the center of the blast.

Arthur smiled again as his nose scrunched up at the smell of firedust. The cigarette between his lips had all but burned down to a nub. He reached for another smoke. I love the smell of firedust in the morning.

Attack Roll: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
Attack Roll, Confirm crit vs touch: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Damage: 2d6 + 12 ⇒ (4, 6) + 12 = 22
Splash Damage: 7


Meditation Garden

"Shhhh....shhhh it's all right now Kaea...I've got will be all right...shhhh..." Serena holds Kaea and rocks with her gently back and forth, her voice taking a soft sisterly tone that goes well beyond professional acquaintances. Gemma feels a pang of emotion as the pair before her reminds her of how she would hold her own sister in the middle of the night to ward off a terrible nightmare...or more precisely how Bliss would hold Gemma to ward off her nightmares after the Taking.

Gemma notes it seems to be working, for Kaea seems to relax her straining arms against Serena's own, the elven seer's eyes no longer staring at something unseen and terrible and seeming now to fight off sleep. "Better..." is all Kaea mumbles.

"No, you're not you're going home," Serena replies with a gentle but firm reply. She looks up to Gemma now, and gives her a serious yet grateful look to the younger woman. "Yes. Go get one of our carriages up here. I'm having her taken to her home, as she may not be done with this...episode." Serena's expression becomes thoughtful as if remembering something from the past, and adds, "This has happened before, though it was years ago during the war. Go quickly now Gemma, please."

Gemma moves off quickly away from the pair and the open green space with its pond and stream, making her way back into the winding trail of hedges to the exit. It doesn't take long at a near-sprint - one last turn of the hedges and she can sense she's almost back to the normalcy of the inner courtyard. Gemma rounds the turn...

...and almost collides straight into the Risuri Captain of the Guard, Brin Umurn, stopping herself just short yet putting an involuntary hand on the Captain's shoulder as she stops herself with a skidding halt in the packed dirt of the pathway.

Though Gemma is not short by any means for a human woman, Brin Umurn stands head-and-shoulders above her, making for an imposing figure. That too is not surprising, given the Captain's half-orcish heritage. Gemma gathers she may very well have bounced off of Captain Umurn's body in a manner akin to hitting a wall in one of Instructor Daybee's obstacle courses.

For the Captain's part, she clearly seems both surprised and perturbed at the sudden appearance of the young woman. Her hands are free though one grasps the hilt of a large falchion sword at her belt - an immense chopping weapon that Gemma would probably prefer not to see in action. She wears a breastplate along with studded leather across her arms and legs, expertly worked into her forest green and black Risuri Army uniform. Given her guarded stance as well as the fact that she's here and not with the group of civilians and scribes that Carlao Ven was leading, it would not surprise Gemma if she would simply brush past her inside, swatting her aside like an irritating bug.

Yet she does not. The Captain's eyes spot the R.H.C. Badge that Gemma wears openly, and the Risuri officer snaps to quick attention and salutes her - something else odd and unexpected in a string of unexpected oddities this morning on the last day of the year.

"Constable. I heard a scream. Are you..." Umurn quickly determines it wasn't Gemma who was in trouble, and amends her statement, " someone in danger or injured? What is the situation here."

Female Human (Risuri) Fighter (tactician) 3rd AC 20/14/16 / HP 33 / F +5 R +5 W +2 / Init +6 / Perc. +7 / Sense Motive +5

Inner courtyard/ Meditation Garden

After regaining her footing and her military stance (as well as her composure), Gemma addresses the captain with authority. However, the surreal nature of someone so imposing, like Umurn, saluting her is not lost. Captain Umurn. Please send for a carriage right away. No one is injured but Constable Than’dil is unwell and will need transportation to her home. Senior Constable Taflis will be accompanying her. I’ll meet you back here promptly.
Gemma then goes back through the maze to meet up with Serena to see if she needs any assistance in getting Kaea out of the garden. The discomfort of being in the garden is still there, always in the back of her mind, like ants crawling on the back of her neck, but with the surge of adrenaline, she’s able to push it away and do her duty.

I wonder just how many people heard all the commotion.

Human (Risuri) Oracle/Gunslinger/Investigator AC 16/12/14 / HP 30 / F+5, R+7, W+6 / Init. +6 / Perc. +4 / Sense Motive +4 / Max Grit/Luck Pts 8

Quartermaster's Office and Armory

"No sir. I was merely drawn here by the irresistible mechanical sound of firearms. I would be happy to accompany you."

Emerson lets Constable Sorginson lead the way out of the Armory.


The Marksman's Yard

Arthur notices immediately as he lets his spherical bomb fly that Josiah Crux has drawn his Drakran pistol, his hand-speed reaction incredibly fast and his motion of draw clearly practiced and honed. Yet he lets no bullet fly with it. Instead Josiah simply tracks the ball with his pistol along its course until it bounces near the third trap, almost as if playing a game with it.

BOOM! Drake and Gaethan flinch slightly at the sound of the explosion, though neither Arthur nor Josiah do. As the smoke quickly clears from the firedust explosion, it is clear that Arthur scored a direct hit on the third trap just as he had called it; he now sees the trap is plated with steel but affixed to a heavy wooden board, with weaker cast iron for its hinges, braces and standing base. At least it was - the intensity of the blast has blown out the wood in all directions and set its remnants on fire across two lanes, the front steel plate thrown back and bent at a sharp angle back on itself, with the weaker cast iron elements twisted and malformed, some showing signs of melting from the heat of the blast. The trap in the nearby fourth lane is still standing but its wood on the near side has caught fire and is merrily burning like a runaway torch. The trap in the second lane fared better, but was pitched around a quarter-turn and shows several jagged steel shards embedded in its wood, each smoking eagerly.

Arthur Wilde could not have hoped for better, even as he calmly lights his Nicodemus leaf cigar and utters his statement for maximum effect. Josiah turns back to Arthur with the ever faintest of nods and a slight grin that denotes approval. He holsters his pistol smoothly and adds, "Looks like your target is down, Drake. Guess you lose the round."

Drake Wellingham, on the other hand, is clearly not as impressed with Arthur's show of skill...

"You stupid soot-eared son of a coaltongue whore! Who do you think you are, greenlick!" Clearly angered, Drake stalks forward from his crouched position of cover behind the sighting bench and unceremoniously snatches up his heavy crossbow, turning to Josiah Crux for support. "You going to stand for this as the senior man?"

Crux just shrugs and says, "Man called it first. I heard 'em. Not my target, but even if it was...he called his shot."

Drake angrily points at the ruins that was his practice target in the third lane. "Look at that! What if the fool had botched it!"

"Nah. He had it marked." Still staring at Arthur, Josiah Crux seems to have found a new target for his amusement. "Just 'cause you can't throw worth a $&*# doesn't mean he can't."

"Oh yeah?" Drake just his chin out defiantly and stoops over to pick up a rock on the ground by one of the wooden posts of the open roof shelter, and then proceeds to throw it in a similar arc down the fourth lane, hitting the front of the now-burning target with a dull Clang!. "There. What skill? Any simpleton can throw a ball or rock around."

Josiah just shrugs nonchalantly, clearly enjoying Drake's outrage at the newcomer now.

Not getting the support of his fellow colleague, Drake Wellingham sputters finally with, "Well I'm not cleaning this up, and it's not coming out of my stipend! If Dima comes asking I'm not covering for him Crux." With that he shoulders his crossbow and two cases of bolts. "I'm going to find Coin and then some real sport out in the taverns."


"Yeah. See you around." Drake Wellingham nods to Gaethan Blackwater, still perched up on the table. "Blackwater." He ignores Arthur with a determined grimace and stalks off towards the short-range course and the exit down and beyond.

Silent the entire time, Gaethan Blackwater finally jumps down to the ground from his perched stance. He too scowls at Arthur, though the words out of his mouth are clearly not at all what the grenadier expects.

"That was very rude new one. Very loud. Too loud - you scared my friends. Grace did not like that at all, no she did not. Neither does Miriam, do you Miriam?" Gaethan's eyes seem to look up and away from the others to something unseen in the yard and nods as if having a real conversation with someone. "No, I agree that it was not pleasant at all. I will tell the new one to mind his manners next time and ask for permission so as to not upset you..."


Quartermaster's Office to Second Floor

"Excellent. Let us proceed then. Good day to the rest of you."

With a rather stiff look to Constable Dane, Dima Sorginson carries his pistol box and a small stack of papers out of the Quartermaster's Office to the Lower Hallway, whereupon he heads for the Western Stairwell and up to the Second Floor of the building. The west-side stairs are well-known to Emerson, as it is the route he usually takes to get to the second floor of the R.H.C. building and his own shared makeshift "office" nearby that he has worked from since being fully inducted as a Constable, sharing the space with Constable Arthur Wilde. The stairs are slow-going but Dima takes a leisurely pace himself, conversing with him as he climbs each step.

"I must deposit these other completed requisitions to Inspector Delft's office, then I have other memorandums on my own desk that must be distributed to all the Constables' desks for morning after next...and then I shall ensure the doors to Lady Saxby's office is secured. Ah. Here we are."

As they come out of the top of the stairwell to the top floor, Dima turns left and makes his way towards the north end of the small hallway where Stover Delft has his office. The Senior Constable extracts a key from a vest pocket and unlocks the door, making his way inside the spacious and well-furnished office to deposit the stack of papers on the Assistant Chief Inspector's finely-crafted desk. Closing and locking it once again, he walks back to Emerson and directs him towards the longer hallway that passes by the Senior Constable's offices, the Break room and the four Support Offices that the R&D staff use when on duty to support the Constables.

As they walk the hallway, Senior Constable Sorginson comments to Emerson, "I have witnessed that your desk in the small office you share with Constable Wilde is always tidied and proper - unlike your fellow which seems to relish in clutter. I have observed that a cluttered desk is akin to a cluttered mind, whereas an orderly desk denotes discipline and clear organization of thought. Have you noticed such a correlation? Ahh yes, here we are."

Dima opens a door just past the break room on the left to the most spacious office that three of the Senior Constables share - in this case that of Carlao Ven, Serena Taflis and Dima himself. As he does so, Emerson spies a large man in a light grey workclothes coming slowly around the corner from down where the turn to Lady Inspectress Saxby's office is situated; the large man known as Fin Wraggle hums to himself as he sweeps the floor with vigor, moving slowly in their direction.


Inner Courtyard / Meditation Garden

By the time Gemma winds her way through the hedge path back to the gardens, Serena Taflis has already hoisted Kaea Than’dil up to her feet. Kaea, however, is acting as if in a barely conscious state, slurring her words and drooping her head, putting the majority of her weight on the slim and lithe frame of Serena. Clearly the senior constable is relieved at the younger woman’s return. ”Did you call it to us? Good. Will you help me with her…yes take her under one arm and I’ll take the other…that’s better.”

Together the trio walk slowly and carefully through the paths. As they get closer to the garden entrance they can hear the sound of several shrill tin whistles being blown throughout the compound, as well as horses protesting in the distance. They slowly make their way around the last turn and find Captain Umurn waiting for them but giving some signal order with her hand to a watchman up on the central blockhouse tower in the middle of the R.H.C. compound. More tin whistles can be heard and it becomes clear to Gemma that the Risuri Army soldiers are opening up the carriage gates at both the central blockhouse as well as the front entrance, with more soldiers in their dark green and black army uniforms taking up positions to guard the opened gates until the carriage makes its way through the compound at speed.

Around the Inner Courtyard, Gemma sees several researchers and laborers of the R.H.C. standing in twos and threes watching the unfolding commotion. Across the courtyard by the central wall to the left of one of the barracks, she can see liveried stablehands and drivers hastily preparing a two-horse team to a small covered carriage, the chill of the air and sudden coaxing of the horses from their warm stalls making the animals none too happy about the experience. Eventually the stablehands get the horses’ tack in check and harnessed to the carriage, with a younger driver and middle-aged soldier jumping up to the top-front bench to get rolling; a final check of tack and four stablehands let go of the horses’ bridles as the carriage surges forward to cross the Inner Courtyard to where they stand.

Unfortunately to Gemma, they are not the only movement across the courtyard. Standing in a huddled mass at the main doors of the two-winged mansion for instructors and R&D are the “scribes” of several Flint newsprint firms as well as some VIP civilians she saw earlier, all now gawking and pointing at the commotion going on in the courtyard. An attractive blonde-haired woman in a white and burgundy dress seems to be trying to herd them back through the doors, but the group does not budge. Moreover, briskly walking to their location in his fancy engraved plate armor and half-cloak of grey with Risuri colors in the embroidery is none other than Senior Constable Carlao Ven. He doesn’t appear very happy as he stalks across the compound yet maintains a walking pace; as such the carriage pulls up to them and blocks his line-of-sight before he gets there.

”Thank you Gemma, up and through the door now…Brin can you get the door please?” Serena guides her fellow constable in as Captain Umurn opens the door and the trio help lift Kaea up and into the carriage to a polished bench with cushions inside. A moment later Serena is up and in next to her, with Umurn closing the door and checking the latch.

It is at that moment that Carlao Ven stalks around the back of the carriage in a controlled but seething temper, his ice blue eyes flashing dangerously with anger. Apparently he does not see the occupants from the carriage blocking his angle of approach. Unfortunately for Gemma, she is standing nearest to where he comes around, and his eyes lock upon her first and foremost.

”What is the meaning of this, Associate? You do not have the authority! What in the name of the Unseen do you think you are doing?” He deftly points back behind him with a gauntleted hand at the group he was touring around in the distance, his voice dripping with venom and scorn. ”I am conducing a public tour of the grounds with important and beneficial members of Flint on behalf of Lady Inspectress Saxby, and you’re disrupting this with…with what precisely…an improper jest to sample R.H.C. resources? Explain yourself now or by the Heavens I shall have you locked away through the New Year for this!”

Female Human (Risuri) Fighter (tactician) 3rd AC 20/14/16 / HP 33 / F +5 R +5 W +2 / Init +6 / Perc. +7 / Sense Motive +5

Gemma is not unaccustomed to arrogance from time to time with some of the other Constables, but with Carlao Ven it is legendary. In the very few times that their paths have crossed before, Gemma’s thoughts have been very neutral…she really couldn’t care one way or another about his posturing. But this moment is different. Suddenly his blustering around in his ridiculous engraved plate with his high and mighty attitude sets her teeth on edge.

Standing up straight in perfect military form, Gemma blocks the path to the carriage as it speeds off, with her back to it and her front to Carlao. She gives him a quick salute and then looks him directly in the eyes without fear or trepidation. “Sir, I wouldn’t advise locking me up, sir. I was acting on the direct orders of Senior Constable Taflis. Constable Than’dil had an episode in the Gardens where she became unwell. I was instructed by Senior Constable Taflis to call for a carriage, posthaste. I gave instructions to Captain Umurn to do so, which she did promptly. I then assisted the Senior Constable in helping Constable Than’dil to the carriage. She is on her way home now with the accompaniment of the Senior Constable. Sir."

Gemma pauses for a brief moment and then can't help but add "I'm sure that the individuals who are on your tour will be pleased to find out that we take care of our own."

Her voice is neither angry nor excited, strictly relaying information only, but she feels no inclination to back down from one such as Carlao Ven. Whoever wants to watch and report on it, that's their business.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it peacock.


Inner Courtyard

Carlao Ven glares at Gemma for a long moment, looks back at the carriage moving through the central blockhouse gates, turns back to stare at Gemma once more, then turns an eye to Captain Umurn. He does not ask the half-orc captain directly, but simply raises an eyebrow with an irritated expression of "Well?" clear upon his handsome face.

Captain Umurn picks up on the visual cue and snaps to attention before replying. "Constable Ven sir. It is as the Constable reported to you. I personally verified the others and assisted in getting Constable Than'dil into the carriage."

For a brief moment, Gemma would think any reasonable person would see that they made a mistake in anger and look to correct their overreach in the face of tangible, credible evidence. Apparently Carlao Ven is not so reasonable.

"Speaking straight out of Battalion like some prized Yerasol parrot!" he proclaims to Gemma mockingly. "How proud and professional you must consider yourself. Let me clue you in on something - discretion is part of a Constable's trade, Associate. What is your name again since the good Captain here doesn't know it either? Wait..." Carlao's scornful insults are halted as he puts something together in his mind that he hadn't before, furrowing his face in sudden recollection. "You said 'episode' when you said Kaea was unwell...what do you mean by episode?"

Female Human (Risuri) Fighter (tactician) 3rd AC 20/14/16 / HP 33 / F +5 R +5 W +2 / Init +6 / Perc. +7 / Sense Motive +5

Inner Courtyard

Well, if you’re going to open that door, I have no choice but to walk through…

Gemma remains standing at attention like the captain and keeps the same measured, military tone when she responds. “I am the proud and professional Associate Constable Gemma Atherton, sir, straight from the Battalion. But I have never been to Yerasol and am unfamiliar with their parrots, sir.” Gemma continues to look directly at Carlao Ven, however if he moves, her eyes will not follow him, she will continue to look straight ahead.

“I did say ‘episode’, sir, as that was the word used by Constable Taflis. However, I do not know Constable Taflis nor Constable Than’dil well enough to comment or report on the nature and extent of Constable Than’dil’s illness, sir. That would be a question better left for those constables.” And then almost forgetting on purpose, she adds another “Sir” at the end.

And then just quietly waits for the tirade that is bound to follow.

She’s always wondered how Ven actually got his position, other than he’s handsome and looks good for the scribes. The only tactics and maneuvers he seems to be good at are political ones and his currents suits of armor haven’t seen a lick of true battle.

Huh…no scars, no shakes, hair always perfect. I wonder if he’s one of those “war heroes” who really isn’t.


Inner Courtyard

Carlao Ven glares at her with a look that he both understands - and does not appreciate - her orderly yet mocking and defiant response. He raises an accusatory finger and is just about to give her a reply she won't enjoy when something distracts him at the last possible moment. Turning his head to his left, he sees the crowd of scribes and civilians coming their way in a great collective gaggle across the courtyard. "Oh damn," he says in a distracted huff, meant clearly for himself and not for her. "Why is it with Nya's looks and charms she cannot even manage to hold their eyes for more than a brief moment..." Carlao Ven shakes his head and mutters something unintelligible, clearly irritated at this latest turn of events.

To Gemma's side she cannot help but notice Captain Brin Umurn, standing at attention to receive orders from either of the Constables. Yet she turns slightly to Gemma and gives her the slightest of approving nods. Apparently Gemma is not the only one to find Senior Constable Ven's accusations and opinions tiresome. She quickly hides it under a familiar stony yet respectful gaze as the others approach the three of them.

Speaking from the side of his mouth he whispers to Gemma, "Too late to run you along, so just stand there and look pretty and keep your mouth shut whilst I do the speaking...and remember your supposed to be a full-fledged Constable."

Before any retort can be had, the group is upon them and Carlao Ven is all smiles. "Gentlemen, ladies! Did you not find Instructor Lockley's invitation to see the Instructor's Wing to your liking?"

Several chuckles go up from the men, though to Gemma it seems two men and one woman in particular are bolder than the rest, taking up positions in the front of the group, each with inkpen and a journal book in hand. A fourth young man in his late teens seems to be using charcoal to sketch some sort of quick picture on a slate board that floats in front of him, clearly the result of some prestidigitation magic.

"Come on now Constable Ven, how could we miss the excitement?"

"Yea, you think we didn't notice the carriage leaving in such a hurry? What was that all about anyway?"

"Business or pleasure there, Ven? I thought you said there wasn't anything of interest afoot until the King's arrival for the Coaltongue."

Carlao Ven puts his hands up to the questions of all three scribes, clearly back in control with his smooth and practiced political demeanor. "Just one of our own Constables feeling ill, and no reason to make her suffer by walking to her townhouse I assure you. No cases of espionage or anything untoward, Michanne! Gables, Jameson, I'm afraid your respective readers will just have to settle for the inside look at the R.H.C. that you've been asking for to this point eh? Now then, let's..."

"Wait a moment Ven, you've picked up a new one here!" exclaims the scribe named Jameson, pointing his inkpen at Gemma.

"Hey yeah, what's the story here Ven? Saaaaay...she's young isn't of your new ones that passed your famous 'tests' earlier last Season? Well Saxby and Price-Hill really want 'em young now do they?" The rather rude scribe named Gables steps forward and points to Gemma directly. "So lass, what's your story?"

Before Gemma can answer, the woman scribe named Michanne steps in front of Gables and asserts her own question with hard eyes. "It's said the standards at the R.H.C. have been diluted to allow more Constables into its ranks, what with the funds thrown at it by the King to shore up its many holes. How do you care to reply to that, Constable?"

All three press in, waiting for her answer.

Human (Risuri) Oracle/Gunslinger/Investigator AC 16/12/14 / HP 30 / F+5, R+7, W+6 / Init. +6 / Perc. +4 / Sense Motive +4 / Max Grit/Luck Pts 8

Quartermaster's Office to Second Floor

As they pass the small office he shares with Arthur, Emerson replies to Dima. ”It can be quite taxing and distracting at times. I have come to realize though that everyone has their own way of doing things.” He smiles at the Senior Constable ”Even if they are wrong.”

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