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Ironclaw: The Will to Power

Game Master UltraFennec

An Ironclaw: Squaring the Circle game set in the environs of Triskellian, with potential to expand further. Focused on the intrigue and violence surrounding the conflicts between the rising Guilds, with a lighthearted base tone.

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Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

The year is 882 "apres le miracle," and the sun begins once more to set over the city of Triskellian. The bells of the Cathedrale de Temoin ring out the Office of Nones with gusto, signaling the end to another busy jeudi. The great masses of common folk in the city still go about their business of doing business, and some nobility can be seen in their carriages bedecked with ornamentation, on their way to whatever appointments the highborn must keep. Within the hour the day workers are moving home, and the twilight cycle species begin their own "day." Dockworkers are loading and unloading goods from both Calabria and other lands, the Constabulary are patrolling the streets (at least in the better districts), and merchants are hawking their wares in Triskellian's many markets.

For some, this afternoon is like any other. For certain others, it soon will be a morning of change unlike they've experienced before.

Rosza Juette:
Blinking into the afternoon sun, you realize three things immediately: One, you forgot to close the window shutters. Two, you were lucky enough to pass out in one of the Compass Rose's rooms, as opposed to somewhere in Old Town. Three, someone is knocking rather insistently at your door.

It sounds like Guillaume, but you're not entirely sure, as there's still a mild warmth and buzzing in your head. Judging by the large, nearly empty carafe of water on the sideboard, you're lucky it isn't a full-blown hangover.

You think you hear the words "breakfast" and "job." You're fairly certain your name is in there somewhere as well.

Despite the bats' natural tendency toward nocturnal life, many of your professors are Day cycle species, and so you've been up for a few hours already when into your dormitory flounces Deirdre, the Skunk who is so proudly your next door neighbor. Continually fascinated by the idea of being so close to "real nobility," Deirdre has usually been too charming to remind of her status as a commoner, albeit a smart one. You're fairly certain she's spent most of the day attempting to impress a mutual professor, Mssr. Aldous of Harrowgate (a skunk as well), because she's wearing her infamous "White Dress" that leaves far too little to the imagination, and is in danger of bursting straight out of her clothes as she pumps your arm in welcome, crushing a piece of parchment in between her hands and yours.

"Heya string bean! How's our little Nattie doing today? I bet you're doing just wonderful and..." her words melt into a dizzying torrent for a minute or two until she realizes that you've got parchment in your hands, upon which she shouts "OH! So sorry, I crunched your letter up! Really sorry! It's important too..."

After two weeks on the isle of Calabria, what you're most certain of is that far too many of these people fit the "barbarian" mold all too well. Not all of them do, however, and a number of the sailors on the junk that brought you across the sea have introduced you to a few useful contacts, and taught you quite a bit of Calabrese, especially the phrases and behaviors to look out for.

Needless to say, most of the natives stopped trying to con, rob, or entice lewdness out of you after a few thaumaturgic displays, and you've already developed something of a reputation among the foreign quarters down at the Docks in Triskellian.

Case in point, you've been speaking with a distant cousin this very afternoon about opportunities for your house.

"Well..." he tugged on his whiskers thoughtfully, the light afternoon breeze ruffling the short topknot of his head-hair. "My uncle's daughter, you are still a newcomer to these lands. While the barbarians may be backward in many ways, they still recognize the value of connections and a skilled hand. I may have something for you, but you must remember that the Calabrians will not recognize your status here, and be prepared to possibly do something demeaning."

The way of the mercenary has treated you well enough to make a living, but lately coin hasn't exactly been flowing your way, and hiring Phelan Atavists for their shock value isn't in vogue in Triskellian like it was in the Bisclavret lands.

So it was with a quick step that you met an old friend from your pit-fighting days down at a raggedy old pub in Old Town about a potential avenue of employment. You've been waiting for about an hour, the pub already full of Day cycle species getting of work when he finally slides into a chair opposite you in a smoky, dark corner table.

One of the Faela, like yourself, Eamonn is a former Brehon who found himself in the pits years ago following a Doloreaux attack on his home. After extricating himself from the pits, he found work with the Merchant's Guild of Triskellian. Conversing easily in the Berla Feini, he greets you.

"Och, my apologies for my tardies, may three and five go by before it happens again. You said you needed work Ceallach? I may have found just the thing for you."

Female Bat : Star Elementalist

Caught off guard by Deirdre, Natalia is swept up into her arms.
"Greetings Deirdre...wait...ah, please calm...gently..." As usual, her entreats are ignored, and Natalia finds herself trapped in Deirdre's grasp. And, also as usual, Natalia's short stature places her face to face with Deirdre's 'charms', accentuated by the infamous 'White Dress'.
'Calm, a noble's restraint, calm, she doesn’t mean harm, but if she DOESN’T LET GO…' Natalia thinks, wondering if maybe an application of elemental forces should be done.
And then she is free.
”Wait, a letter, you’ve crushed it! Natalia exclaims. ”And its important?! Let me see it!” She tugs at the parchment, hoping that Deirdre will let it loose.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Having already realized her mistake, Deirdre lets go of the letter quickly, dismay written all over her face. "Aw, sorry shortcake, I really didn't mean to squish your letter."

The skunk looked like she was about to say something else, but a sudden cry from out Natalia's window distracts her. Rushing past, she nearly spills herself completely out the window to see what's going on...and rushes the other way twice as fast, out the door with a short "OHMYGOODNESS BYE NATTIE!" A quick glance out the window reveals one Mssr. Aldous of Harrowgate surrounded by various female members of the student body, all of them people Deirdre considers her "rivals" for his affections.

The letter itself is still in good condition, if a bit wrinkled and its wax seal broken, though you can still see the familiar signet of the Repense family there. Upon unrolling the scroll, the date is recent and the heraldry signifies that it came from the Repense's representative holdings in Triskellian, which means that someone with higher standing in the family is going to order you to do something likely annoying and/or unpleasant...again.

An Important Letter!:
[i]Dearest Daughter of Ivanova: As you well know, the Repense take great care to maintain healthy relations with not only Dunwasser College, but many business ventures across Calabria. This extends to dealing with numerous Guilds in Triskellian. An associate in the Merchant's Guild has recently brought to our notice his need of someone with your particular talents, and as we owe this gentleman a rather hefty favor, it would behoove you to see yourself to his office by the ending of the Office of Nones.[i]

The signature on the letter is unfamiliar to you, but the date intended is today's, which means you have about an hour and a half to get to "The Fleet Feet Shipping Company" hall down in the Docks.

Male Wolf

A deep satisfaction wells up within his soul as he hears his kinsman speak their shared language, albeit with a more cosmopolitan accent. Ceallach's own is rough and sharp, as it should be.

"My days are filled with the rules of stone and glass, when they should be reveling in grass and wood. After these long years, I still do not understand these peoples. What can I do?"

He pauses for a moment, as though he is considering his next words.

"Work, yes, something fit for a Phelan of pure soul, something where I may wield myself as a weapon, as Fiann again! Not this midden rubbish they try and heap on me these days."

Female Weasel Dilettante

Rosza grumbles into wakefulness with the tyrant sun shining straight through the unshuttered window as it sets, casting much too much bright light right into her eyes. The ermine half-rolls over, trying to cover her head with the threadbare pillow only to discover that resting her chin on her wheel-lock without the pillow's intercession actually is slightly more uncomfortable than the lumpiness of the cushion in question.

As temporary measures go, it removes the irritation of the sunlight, but does little to alleviate the banging at the door. The young ermine tolerates it for a few heartbeats, which are themselves more than loud enough in her current condition, then props herself up, hurling the cushion at the door and nearly following it with the pitcher, pausing just in time as the earthenware vessel sloshes before she has quite released it.

She squints and sniffs irritably at the jug, hoping for something drinkable, but it's only water. Ugh. She chokes down half of it anyway, then pours the rest over her slightly achy head, kneading the warm water into the white fur of her face before carefully slicking it back to her sleek nape and mopping the excess with the sheet.

"Le soleil naze! Stop banging, garçon, I'm awake! S'allumer forfend."

The pistol ends up on the rickety table which previously held the jug, and the empty jug replaces Rosza's head on the pillow as she reaches out an arm and bangs the shutters to. The fresh darkness makes her consider sleep again, but no, no, Guillaume does not seem ready to stop knocking. "Un minute, s'vous plait!" Of course, it takes more like ten minutes for the grumbling ermine to assemble herself.

When a-roaming, dress thou as a-roaming. Breeches, buff coat, her sash and her swordbelt from the bedpost where it hung conveniently near a sleeping hand. Hardened leather cervelliere. Boots. Well, one boot. Trying to find its mate while putting it on, Rosza nearly falls over twice getting into it before rolling the lengthy shank down to knee-length. Another minute's searching discovers her other boot beneath the bed, in suspicious seclusion with her gloves and hat, but now said hat's jaunty plume is nowhere to be found, not even after the ermine strips the musty sheets from what passes for a mattress. Ai, did I gamble it away last night or just lose it? Hooded cloak tangled into the sheets, untangle it. Vizard within, little surprise there. She loops the loose strap around her neck and twists the dark leather behind her so the mask hangs beneath her cloak's thrown-back hood, hidden by the additional folds of cloth.

Rosza hobbles into her other boot, rolling both of them back up to a respectable length, then claps her broad-brimmed hat over her cervelliere, wincing a moment at the fresh impact. La. Head feels like a church bell rung 'til the clapper fell off, still just trembly enough to annoy.

As if the thought were a summons, the bonging carillon of the great Cathedrale peals across the city. Sighing, Rosza flips open the pan of her wheellock to check that the powder within is still loose and dry then snaps it closed once more, wincing again at the sharp clash of tempered steel. Why is the world always so loud after an interrupted sleep? At least this day it's not loud, painful and colorful. Yet.

Before unhooking the door's simple latch, the lithe ermine straightens herself carefully, then thrusts the pistol's barrel against the center of the door at waist-level and leans her body against the cross-slatted wood, positioning one booted foot to block it from opening more than a handspan.

Rosza cracks the door open, teeth bared in something that might be mistaken for a wide grin. "A job mon signore Guillaume? Hast been goat-bitten and gone mad? Thee and me are much too dignified for honest work." Despite her wary, toothy expression, her voice is mirthful.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

The other wolf's maw creases in a grin that shows a few too many teeth to be entirely "polite." Downing a few gulps of terrible ale (and making a face to show for it), Eamonn addresses his friend in a manner not terribly confidential.

"Then I think I've got the thing fer you! Nothing quite so worthy as a Morrignai, eh, but well-paying and full o' the possibility for rampant personal affrontery. Violence, if ye ken. Take this seal down to the Docks and find the "Fleet Feet Shipping Company" hall. Some poor group in the Merchant's Guild has gone and gotten their cart shipments stolen by bandits on the Via Salutis, and they don't seem rather interested in getting a bounty price on them heads, they don't."

While he's speaking Eamonn passes a simple steel ring bearing a sigil that's probably meant to be a set of running hare's feet, but just looks like the jeweler had a seizure putting the thing together.

"You show that to the doorman, the back doorman mind you, and ye'll be shown right in despite the Triskelliano's distaste for us. I daresay your show might actually be taken as a good sign for the job for once."

Rosza Juette:
Guillaume stands outside the door grinning like a child caught with sweetmeats from the kitchen by the one person who'll never tattle on him. He holds a silver serving tray with some of Rosza's favorites on it, along with her missing hat plume (worse for the wear) and of all things her money-purse, looking unfortunately deflated. These last things are positioned exactly where Rosza could reach through the door and grab them, should she be feeling testy and not want company. The floral centerpiece normally heaped on trays of similar ilk is conspicuously sharing space with a green leafy plant on the hall's sideboard.

"The best word I could think of to describe it, [i]Madonna Rosza Juette[i]," he said with mock severity. "In due time though. I have recovered your plume from Claudio, though I will not tell you what he was doing with it when I found him lest you defenestrate it in favor of another when your purse is feeling so down on its luck. Ricard had that one, by the by, though you emptied it yourself for the third round of drinks and dancing on the table with Andre, Beaurigard, and Stephan. To say nothing of the, ahem...[i]wanton[i] lass you placed in my lap with the last of your coin. While her stripes were lovely, I'm afraid I had to send her off when our difference of opinion and sobriety became apparent. But may I come in?"

Female Bat : Star Elementalist

Natalia smoothed out the letter as best she could while ordering her thoughts.

'Someone with my particular talents, eh?' she ponders. 'Since my family is convinced that my only talent is in Elementalism, I suppose that is what they are expecting. <sigh> I suppose then that I must wear the robes and trappings of my station.'

Natalia frowned at that, since the robe was really not meant for flying in and allowing persons below glimpses up said garment....
Which meant she had to walk through the city crowds. The overly-tall, never watching where they walked, paying-no-attention-as-they-ran city crowds...

'Still, it is duty,' she thinks as she changes into her robes. 'And it might be more interesting than listening to Deirdre prattle about what Mssr. Aldous might think about her fat chest...'

Drawing herself up, Natalia exits the room to brave the foot traffic on her journey to the Docks.

Female Weasel Dilettante

Rosza steps away from the door with a sigh of relief, kicking it open as she undogs her pistol and tosses the firearm carefully towards the bed, narrowly missing the pillowed jug. The ermine turns the return motion into a graceful bow, sweeping her hat off and waving the other musteline into the room. "Ah, Signores Eggs and Bread! And Madonna Butter! Come in, come in! Mind ye not the mess, our lady of vitriol, Madonna Acerbi, tolerates no lice in her sheets -- not even paying ones. Thou canst come in as well, Guillaume, so long as these others are here to keep my reputation safe from thy lecherous and unsavory ways." As if. The one man in all the world I need no protection from.

She squints muzzily at the flowers out in the hall. "Surely our dear friend Stephan did not leave his ladies in the hall last night? Or did he find a beauty who would stand still for his chatter and who hadn't roots?"

The ermine tips her rapier up out of the way as she settles cross-legged on the rumpled mattress. "Have a care how you throw yourself down, mon frère, our worldly -- or at least planetarily round -- hostess seems to be saving the cost of straw by stuffing her cushions with stones, or perhaps they are potatoes and we shall be charged extra for crushing them."

Snatching a somewhat scorched lizard-leg from the tray, Rosza strips it ferociously with her teeth. "Commoners 'ave no idea how easy their lives are, dear friend. They may do anything they like when they need a few coppers, yet when our indulgences in whoring and gambling leave us with less than we should like, needs must we resort to armed robbery! To do otherwise would be dishonorable." Rosza wedges the leg-bone into the corner of her mouth, chewing at it as she hacks a slice from the half-loaf of bread with her main gauche. "Sooooo...What, then, is this opportunity to, shall we say, gamble our boredom against someone else's purse?"

Hopefully the crumbs will rest better in the Acerbi's bedding than she did.

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

"Demeaning? How so? Surely I could get work suitable for my talents, at least."
Quinn walks a few paces, "I can't say I'm suprised they don't recognize my status though, I almost expected that. However is there any way to get recognition here? Beyond that question, what did you have in mind?"
sry about that my phone still has the old bookmark, lol. Oh if there are any misspellings sry but my phone doesn't have spellchecker, or I don't know about it, one of the two.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Rosza Juette:
As Rosza busies herself with the food, Guillaume does his best to set plume to hat once more, though the effect is still less than perfect.

"The flowers are yet another sign of the cook's gratitude for the Palfrey Incident. I imagine he'll never stop trying to annoy you now. Stephan...I know not where, but he left with the lass you tried to pair with ME last night. Andre is at home sleeping, level-headed stoat as always. Your marten friend Claudio has been talking to the Constabulary since this morning after spending all night out with your plume, our mink Ricard was last seen chasing down a bakery and an apothecary for his head, and I believe Beaurigard announced his intentions to set sail for Govorya this eve after you physically explained to him exactly why you didn't want to be "man-handled by a lout like him." Something about 'more willing, "open" women' there."

Satisfied that he'd reacquainted plume with hat as best possible under the circumstances, and being no milliner himself, Guillaume turned his attention to a rather short scrip of paper in his pocket. Unfolding it, he read aloud from a handwritten note.

"Dearest of Kin,

It has come to my attention that you have far too much time on your hands not being spent doing anything productive for the House. As such, Uncle Apollinaire has pulled on his connections in the city, and found something needing your rather direct and fired attentions.

If you could meet with the representative at the Fleet Feet Shipping Company today, Uncle's peace of mind would be secured, and perhaps your purse will be filled again.

I would see to it myself, but I hear it may require violence, and frankly everyone expects that of you already.

Much Love, Penelope"

Your relative turns to look at the horizon for a moment before speaking. "If I knew of a way to petition for status in these barbaric lands, I would Cousin. None of us have found the way yet. As for this may necessitate violence. Against some ruffian types no doubt, and while the employer may not be a standout, this is the way we have built our recognition here.

"In time, they may come to see the value of the peoples of Zhongguo, but for now, we are simply foreigners like any other. Be at the Fleet Feet Shipping Company office within the hour. The guards at the back door will be expecting you, and others I imagine. Aid our mutual business interest, and we may yet see the returns the homeland desires."

Once everyone's "on their way" I'll continue with full grouped postings.

Male Wolf

"I ken your meaning, brother," Ceallach says, smiling as he does so. His woad is twisted by the crinkling around his eyes and snout, changing its normal wind and river patterns into something that resembles more a skull than nature's pathfinders.

Taking the ring, he examines it for a moment before stuffing it into his belt pouch. "Your help is appreciated, Eamonn. Let three times fifty go by before I forget to repay you for your aid." Leaving the drinking to Eamonn, Ceallach opts for a quick leg of something vaguely meaty before he begins wending his way to this strangely named guild.

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

"I'll check it out at least, what all can you tell me about them?" in a rather neutral tone. She gathers her pack and checks it over while she listens to her cousins response.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

"The grandeur of their minds overwhelms their actuality, but I hear tell they do good business with the landed among the Calabrese, though of late they're falling on harder times. The hare you'll be seeing is...hmmm, a bit "slight of mind" I think. Doesn't have enough foresight to do much better than he already is."

Catching sight of his ship's captain, your cousin offers a parting gesture and says, "We must both be away it seems. Keep yourself grounded and you'll do fine, my Uncle's Daughter," as he ambles away back to work, though not before handing you a slip of paper with directions in your native tongue.

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

"Stay safe." and she returns the gesture.

Quinn sets off to find this shipping place, keeping aware so she can find her way back.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Navigating the foot traffic from the College to the semi-dilapidated structure proudly proclaiming itself to be "The Home of the Fleet Feet Shipping Company, fleetest feet ferrying your goods furiously" starts as a nightmare but becomes rather easy after taking advantage of the wake afforded to a Mouse priest and his retinue.

The back door is down an alley that's likely only clear of cutpurses because the areas of the Docks that possess Guild presences tend to actually have Constabulary patrols. The guard posted at the back door looks half asleep and ready to chase you off for being a pestering, stupid child until you show him your letter and point to your starred robes as though teaching an idiot how to speak.

Upon doing so he shamefacedly opens the door and allows you inside the hustle and bustle of the building, pointing up the nearby stairwell where a wooden placard reads "Cedric of Launtes, Headman." The man himself is standing at the top of the stairs, a rather nondescript brown-furred hare wearing last year's fashions and possessing a bit of a lazy eye. Seeing you walk in the back door, he shouts down over the din, "First arrival, eh? I figured I'd get some odd ones, but come on up anyway. Least I can do, let you wait for the others in comfort."

Your sharp sense of direction honed from your young training years doesn't help you find your way in the city as much as you'd wish, but you're still fairly well "on point" and it takes you very little time to actually find the right place once you brave the cross-city foot traffic and show the ring to the few people that don't go out of their way to avoid you in the Docks.

The back door guard seems to be having a strenuous argument with his relief, accompanied by wide sweeping gestures with his shield arm that nearly knock his colleague's block off a few times. You're not really paying attention, something about "...hiring children to replace us now?!" In any case the angry one runs out of steam after a minute or two and stomps off down the alleyway in the opposite direction. After showing the fresh-faced young relief guard your ring, he opens the door and points you upstairs where the voice of someone drifts down with a "Is Delfrik gone yet? Good, send up the next arrival!"

The directions you received prove faultless, as always, and the trip is rather short and uneventful as you're already in the Docks district and have learned rather quickly which back alleys are safe to shortcut with and which ones are best avoided.

Passing a rather angry looking Horse guard in the livery of the Company you're looking for, he pointedly tells you to go soak your head, but if you really have to go find "that buffoon Cedric of Puts-On-Airs" he's down the road that way (he points with his right hand down an alley that looks so rickety and twisted you'd need a pull-cart and a team of burdened-beasts to straighten it.)

Upon your arrival at the back door, the young guard does a double-take at your exotic garb and stripes, and opens the door without further ado, seeming a bit shaken by your arrival. A voice from up the stairs flows down like the epitome of boredom coupled with time-wasting talent. "And we've a third? Good show, send them up right away dear Carringswallow."

Female Weasel Dilettante

Rosza snorts slightly at the comment about the cook, snickers around a mouthful of something else at Andre's fortune. "Owes me, then." She murmurs. "Wasn't that wine-curious bear-lass the other night one of the Govoryan ambassador's people? Perhaps we can arrange Beaurigard a proper letter of introduction to some of the "open" ladies of Govorya..." The ermine chews at the other drumstick, smirking a bit at its commentary on Guillaume...But the signature is greeted by a crack of thin bone, and Rosza narrowly avoids choking, hacking up the chunk of lizard leg. And reaching for the empty water jug reflexively.

"That nasty little witch!? So it's a lay," she croaks, then coughs again.

Guillaume shakes his head and pushes the clay mug towards her. "Oh, perhaps it is, but the job must be real, or she wouldn't have mentioned Uncle's interest."

"So the job's real. She'll still twist it somehow." Rosza coughs and shakes her head, then gets to her feet, recovering her hat and pistol before starting for the door. "I suppose if we don't go, she'll have the satisfaction of thinking she's frightened me off. Which way, faithful Signore?" She claps her hat once more upon her head, rocking it a bit to settle the secrete, and wedging the firelock mostly out of sight, thrust into her buff-coat where its butt just hooks beneath her sash.

The polecat chuckles as he gets up and dutifully follows her, taking up his own plumed hat. "You give her too much credit, Madonna. Truly you do. Out and left, seventh dock, abouts."

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

The bell had just begun to toll the ending of the Office of Nones when Rosza Juette de Vieuxpont reached the office of the Fleet Feet Shipping Company. The doorman rushed her upstairs without so much as a "how-do-you-do," putting the ermine lady and her friend in the company of a motley crew arranged about an upper loft room in front of a massive mahogany desk, about which were arranged a hurricane's worth of papers.

Behind the desk sat the hare that must be Cedric of Launts, Headman. The average looking brown hare, clad in last year's fashions in a monochrome of blues that were simply dreadful on him, wasted little time getting down to business, clapping hands together joyfully and passing a lazy-eyed gaze around the five assembled persons complete with a disarming smile.

"And here we all are, signore, madonnas, and the rest of you. Cedric of Launts, Headman. Pleased to make your acquaintances!

"From the look of all of you I've pulled on my connections rather well indeed. Now, while I'd love to swap pleasantries all the day long, I've been here since the Office of Prime this morning, and you all have a job to get to."

Cedric stood with a little hop and sauntered to one end of the table, stepping closer to each of the arrayed persons as though examining them like a product he was moving.

"I'll be blunt: Someone, or someones, are stealing my company's land shipments along the Via Salutis. Now thanks to the decline of the Rinaldi there aren't firm reports from guard stations to go around, but! Given that my last three sets from the Bisclavret demesne haven't arrived, the most recent of which should have been this morning, I think we can put two and two together as it were.

"I think I'm dealing with a group that's not particularly smart about it however, as my sparrow report came yesterday and marked all's well, which means my goods must have been taken within a day's travel of the city. This then, is what I will be paying you to do: Travel west upon the Via Salutis, meet with my Sparrow courier Jean-Yves, find these bandits, kill them! Upon successful return of my goods to the warehouse adjoining this building, you will each be paid a sum of denarii proportionate to the worth of goods returned fully intact. I am a businessman, after all. Questions?"

Male Wolf

Those who set eyes upon Ceallach can immediately sense there is something...different about him. Something feral, that speaks to your inner beast.

Outwardly of course there is the obvious differences: he wears armor simply because he needs it, while clothes are essentially a pair of very short leggings. His wrists are wrapped in fighter's tape, though it oddly doesn't extend to the rest of his paws.

He stands tall and straight, and his figure is best described as hulking. His pelt is a two-tone affair in classic wolf colors: a chill grey on top of a snowy white. The two colors are separated by a thin black line, as though someone had used charcoal to trace out the edges.

What draws your eyes most, however, is the woad drawn upon his body. Blue swirls and lines create a vivid image of rivers and winds, of grand forests and the sun.

He speaks, and it takes a moment before you realize he is actually speaking Calabrese. His accent is thick and rough, and he seems to be doing his best to keep it that way.

"You pay me to kill Bisclavret bandits? I have no problems. I have waited a long time to start taking my measure for their sins against me."

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

Looking at Quinn you see that she has a very athletic build. She has bright reddish orange fur with black stripes which form interesting geometric patterns on her face. Her gaze is constantly shifting, aware of everything nearby, yet you cant quite tell whether the look in her eyes is serious or playful.

She dressed in loose fitting black robes with intricate embroidery of various colors in a style that is obviously foreign, and revealing. She has a longsword and a dagger, both of which have a slight curve to them and the patterns from the robes continue on the scabbards. The pack though beautiful, obviously comes from a different set then everything else. It has green as the base color with red and black embroidery that show stylized pictures of tigers and a weasel in various scenes though it seems incomplete.

She obviously has not yet mastered Calabrese vocabulary, yet her foreign accent is smooth and flowing,
"Killing bandits is rather standard fare for me. My cousin led me to believe I might have to do menial labor or something."

Just a hint of what to expect from her in the future ;)

Female Bat : Star Elementalist

You might almost believe that there is a bat child in the room, except for the fact that they are wearing a Elementalist's robe and carrying the trappings of that magic profession, and they don't give those things to children.
Their hair is a long, flowing braid of ebony that almost reaches the floor (which isn't too long, considering their height), which would indicate that the child, er, person is female (the robe and their size hides any body shapes that might tell for sure).

"I, Natalia Ivanova of House Repense, understand your orders, and will carry them out for the honor of my House," she says with formality. There is the slightest hint that she might have said something else, something different, but didn't.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Feel free to play out any reactions to Quinn's non-mastery of Calabrese. I know I will be. XD

Female Weasel Dilettante

There's a bit of boisterous chatter in the hallway outside before the weasels arrive, and it certainly sounds like the last bits of a rather bawdy joke.

Hopefully it's a joke.

Rosza enters ahead of Guillaume, moving with an almost confrontational swagger...Exactly that sort of poised aloofness one associates with certain nobles entering a commoner's business -- particularly a wealthy commoner who is potentially beginning to compete with the nobility in terms of power -- but at the same time there's a paranoiac edginess to it. That thumb hooked through her swordbelt looks jaunty enough, but it places her hand easily in reach of her rapier's grip, and her offhand rests on her hip in a fashion that might be taken as somewhat saucily pretentious by anyone who didn't spot the bulge of the long wheellock pistol mostly hidden beneath her buff-coat's flap.

In the first moment of coming through the doorway, Rosza looks entirely ready to have both weapons in hand at a heartbeat's notice.

In the second moment, she loses that attitude completely and darts straight at Natalia, grinning gladly...For a moment it looks as if the ermine means to sweep the tiny bat up into a hug, but she doesn't. Quite. "Madonna Ivanova! How delightful!" Rosza ends up directly in the smaller woman's personal space as she surveys the rest of the room, eyes clearly prioritizing in terms of persons, weapons, and exits as Guillaume follows at a more sedate pace to stand nearby. Quinn's pack gets a second curious look, the weasel-embroidery catching Rosza's eye.

The young ermine turns, doffing her hat in a slinkily deep bow and flourish to the apparent Headman. She's just at the edge of five-two, white-furred and blue-eyed. Her flamboyant costume is of dark blue velvet and lace, cut in a somewhat boyish and definitely militant fashion recently popular with the officers of certain units of dragoons and musketeers...And the more rakish younger nobles who'd like to be seen as associating with such dangerous types. A dark armored buff-coat takes the outfit a step further towards real working clothing than would be considered appropriate by effete court style.

The marbled polecat who enters behind her is clad similarly, albeit in tones of brown and gold that better suit his darker fur...And he looks considerably more at ease. Both wear rapiers that are more functional than fashionable. The polecat bows as well, but comes up waving a small, folded scrip towards the headman...Not offering it to the hare, but simply implying that it contains some invitation or authorization should someone be foolish enough to call into question the presence of the two armed weasels.

"Good Cedric, I am Guillaume de Laurraine," He half-bows towards Rosza, making their stations clear - something of a reversal since prior to that point their actions might have suggested that Rosza was his bodyguard - "...and it is my pleasure to introduce Madonna Rosza Juette de Vieuxpont. House Lissemanteau has heard something of your troubles."

Rosza's ears twitch slightly at the responses, particularly the wolf's thick brogue...Bisclavret-kind, but happy to hunt Bisclavret. Is he Phelan? Are they even real? The tigress simply baffles her for a few heartbeats, and she looks to the merchant as if judging his reaction. Presumably the head of a messenger company deals with all sorts, but this is a bit of an odd mix. she thinks. Foreigners and savages. Expendables, or deniables. At least I can trust Natalia. She cocks an eyebrow in feigned outrage at Cedric's close inspection, and the silvery fur of her nape bristles slightly at his comment " all have a job to get to."

"Enchanté, Messer Cedric," The ermine draws herself up to her full height and her smile shows more sharp teeth than absolutely necessary. Her own accent is a commingling of lowland Calabrese, bits of Triskellian, and a commingling of the particular argot that the nobles of the Lyore river valley share with the Avoirdupois...As well as bits of the more pure Rinaldi hierarchic terms used in Triskellian...In short, she sounds like a moderately well-traveled young noble ought to, right down to the faintest hint of arrogant remonstrance in her pronunciation of the Rinaldi term for the rude commoner she's addressing. "Mais oui, know that House Lissemanteau most certainly would condemn such unlawful predations upon the Via Salutis in the strongest terms." Particularly when they're paid to. "I know not how many guards graced your shipments, but I can certainly bring a few more skilled and ready blades to assist if you believe it necessary." That cheshire grin widens just a twitch further. "They will expect similar token recompense, of course." The ermine blinks slowly, studying the hare from beneath half-lidded eyes.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Cedric of Launts sputters a bit, but regains his composure with adroitness, pulling his vest straighter with both hands. "Maybe if I hadn't lost three shipments already I'd consider your "extra help," but the five of you will have to suffice for this one. Good to see not all my noble acquaintances are above the call of coin though...their own lost coin, at least. You didn't think I got two nobles in here just because I asked for it? Your Houses have both invested in me and my company, and they're losing coin right along with me until this gets set to rights."

Turning about quick-as-you-blink, Cedric marches back to his chair and sits with an air of finality so thick it might have been dusty...or perhaps that was the cloud of dust coming from his cushion. He begins to busy himself by tidying papers, but anyone with sharp eyes could see his phlegmatic demeanor was only partly real, and there was just the faintest shake to his hands as he dipped a quill in ink and began to write.

"Not more to it than that, I'm afraid. Follow the road west, find Jean-Yves. I'm sure he'll have more details than that. He's staying at the Cornucopia for another day or two if he's not waiting by road itself. If there's no more questions, farewell. Business must go on."

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

Quinn turns to the weasel, "So you are the other noble then. I am Lady Kuin Hiriderin, or Quinn in your local script. What is your name?" She gives a very slight bow as she states her name.

Assuming no questions are asked yet she will introduce herself in similier fashion to Natalia, Ceallach, and last to Guillaume. As we leave if appropriate.

"I take it one of aware we get there." Pausing to think of the appropriate words.

Female Bat : Star Elementalist

"Yes, yes, we know how to get to the Via Salutis my dear Quinn," Natlaia comments, her tone still polite as the group departs. "Or at least, the sober amoung us know how to find it."

"Madonna Veiwxpont! How delightful that you are with us," she continues with a almost overly sweet voice. "And dearest Guillaume, I am so happy to see you. Still helping Madonna after all this time?" Natalia adds a knowing wink.

"I should return to the Acadame and change into something more... practical for the trip," she comments, brushing at her robe. "When shall we get started? It would not take me long to change."

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Guillaume de Laurraine looks slightly discomfited by Natalia's question, fidgeting with a button on his coat that suddenly seems very interesting indeed. "*ahem*, And why, pray tell, should I not be aiding Madonna de Vieuxpont? Our familial association goes back quite some time you know, it's nothing out of the ordinary, really." His words sound strong and assured, but there's just a tinge of something else there, quickly hidden.

"Do our..." he paused for a moment to appraise the foreign tigress, seemingly discomfited by her brazen display of stripes, and the Phelan wolf in the room. "Do our colleagues have an opinion? On the matter at hand, that is. Which is how much time we need to prepare."

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

"I ready now. But I can find an eating place, if you need time to..prepare?" She spends a moment pondering that word before looking back and awaiting an answer.

Female Weasel Dilettante

The ermine blinks at the tigress a moment, but the majority of her focus is on the squirrel. Rather than answering Kuin or turning towards the door, Rosza Juette takes two steps forward to the desk and plants a gloved hand between two of the stacks of documents. She stares at the squirrel across the desk, the ermine pausing just long enough to make it clear she might simply shove the stacks aside, but instead chooses to scoop up the pile of parchment that seems topped with the freshest ink, making space to plant her hip on one corner of the polished mahogany.

"Pauvre Cedric! Thou hast misunderstood. Thou wilt be blunt? Then bien sûr I must return thy kindness. As with so many merchants, thy coin is first thought of, while we of the blood must consider also deed and reputation. If hadst called upon our help after losing one shipment, or two, matters might be different... But three? It does make us wonder how much you value us as investors. There is a question of thy diligence, of how much thee art willing to commit to seeing that this is taken care of properly, since clearly thou didst not go to the expense of protecting our previous investments properly...And before thou mayst begin to tell me how much thy guards were paid and how many there were, know that the results have spoken for themselves."

The ermine regards the top page of the stack, flips it aside to look at the next and then places the stack (crosswise) atop the next stack over, again, pausing just long enough to make it obvious that they could as easily have ended up on the floor if she hadn't reconsidered and decided to play nice.

"Partly, I am here to recover stolen property, it is true, but primarily I am here to solve a problem, and part of that is to ensure that no-one we might know is complicit, say, in the staged theft of goods purchased with another's money. Thou mayest, perhaps, think little of the reputation of House Lissemanteau. We do value our little luxuries, but we value even more the idea that no-one," The ermine smiles sweetly, "And I do mean no-one, crosses us with impunity. I am here to aid you, dear Cedric, but I am also here to achieve an understanding of how matters came to this pass. In thy businessman's terms, I am here to make an accounting, messer...One way or another! Suis je assez clair?...And thou art being less than helpful."

"I require copies of thy bills of lading, and thy expenses for their protection. Right now. The first will ensure that the property returned to thee is indeed thine, and the second will defend thy actions in making best effort to secure thy use of our funds...If indeed I discover that said actions are defensible and a best effort was made. As thou art a businessman, thou shalt speak no further to me of 'a proportion' of value, but rather of 'what proportion' and shalt be specific as to whether discussing the market value or thine own discounted costs."

"And before thou mayest begin to think of contesting or impugning me again, be assured, regardless of how much this investigation and the reclaiming of some sundry goods may cost thee, I make my report to others, and the costs I recommend to thee will be far less than the costly reputation of being such a high investment risk that even House Lissemanteau will not fund thee...To say nothing of what other unpleasant means might be employed to redress dubious losses if we feel some responsibility for their loss falls on you." It can't be an accident that her left hand comes to rest on the grip of her sword at that last moment, gloved thumb drifting back and forth across the tip of the pommel. She glances away from Cedric, nodding to Guillaume, who similarly settles his hands near his weapons.

(And I think it's time to start tossing dice around! Rosza's lying through her teeth (literally, given that fangy grin) about her position vis-a-vis Cedric's problems, so that lets her include her Deceit dice with her Negotiation (per p.43)...Admittedly, that lets Cedric throw Inquiry, if he has it...This is a kind of a muddle of intimidation and negotiation here but it seems more apt, since she's trying to get more out of Cedric than information alone, to go with Negotiation, I think? Adjust dice accordingly if you feel otherwise:

Will, Deceit and Negotiation vs. target's Will & Inquiry
Rosza has 3d6, d8 and is favored in Negotiation When Lying. Would this also count as a matter of Class (which is her favored for Deceit), since she's basically suggesting to him that House Lissemanteau is not limited to simple financial interests, here?
1d6 ⇒ 3
1d6 ⇒ 5
1d6 ⇒ 5
1d8 ⇒ 7

Female Weasel Dilettante

Oh, and if appropriate:
when asserting your noble presence claim a bonus d12.
1d12 ⇒ 1

Female Weasel Dilettante

...And claiming the use of that Favored, for 'when lying...'
1d12 ⇒ 1

Female Weasel Dilettante

*Stares at dice roller bemusedly.* As an aside, any of the paperwork Rosza skimmed have any relevance?

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Cedric's cry of anger was cut short as he visibly shut up and considered the weasel woman's words, and finally called out "Hammig, bring up the bills from my blue-box in the storage, will you lad?"

Once they arrive, he hands them promptly to Rosza with a scowl on his face, but his hands are shaking ever so slightly. "You'll find them all in order, Madonna." The last word is spit out with venom, but it didn't compare to the venom Rosza's own people spewed. "I will risk saying, however, that the reason you and the Madonna Repense were requested is because only the most recent shipment had anything of real value to either of my investors in your Houses on it. A lost shipment or two is unfortunately one of the plentiful risks of shipping. I take your point, however." He seems to strengthen in conviction as he winds on with his little speech, but never quite re-inflates himself.

Rosza's keen eyes detect nothing out of order about the paperwork, though a deep look into it would take the rest of the night, at minimum.

On teh subject of rolling, Cedric only has D6s, so he can't beat your 7, and as a Minor Character he doesn't have any Favored uses of skills, meaning you succeeded automatically.

...there's a lot of paperwork here.

Female Weasel Dilettante

Rosza isn't going to be sifting every last receipt, but just as much as it takes to (1) get a solid bill of lading for each of the three missing shipments (what, and how much) (2) how it was being shipped (courier? packlizard? cart?) and (3) how many guards were accompanying them. She'll pester Cedric only inasmuch as necessary to quickly point out specific paperwork so she doesn't have to sort the entire box and will be much less vitriolic...In fact, she'll snap back to the amiable-seeming demeanor she had assumed BEFORE he ticked her off, as if (now that she has his cooperation) nothing had happened.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

It takes you about thirty minutes to find the three bills in question and examine them. The first two are fairly normal, listing a mix of textiles from what you presume are fashionable artisans out west, baubles for the well-to-do, and some shipmaking supplies listed out for one "Videliei Ficoligne, Personal Watercraft Construction."

The third bill is rather more mysterious, as it lists the shipment as being finalized, but the amount paid is rather higher than the others, and the actual list of goods being shipped is conspicuously blank, noting only the investment of Lissemanteau and Repense in conjunction with the shipment, one on each end of the trip.

All three were shipped by overland carts drawn by beasts-of-burden rather than water, cause listed as "reports of rising piracy along the southern coasts."

Nowhere can you find a listing for guard details, and your intuition tells you it's possible Cedric doesn't know. Perhaps mercenaries hired in Harrowgate for each shipment?

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

Quinn watches with a gleam of approval in her eye.

"I will find something to eat. I apologize but I will be of no help in dealing with local paperwork. Natalia, would you like to join me or will you stay here to help?"

Female Bat : Star Elementalist

"I think Madonna Vieuxpont has things well in hand," Natalia answers with a small smile. "We shall retire to the area around the Dunwasser Academy, so that I can change and others can eat."
"And drink."
she adds almost as an afterthought.

"Meet us at the Wand and Flagon when you're done here, won't you Madonna? Come escort me Guillaume, as I am sure your lady will be busy for some time, and the city traffic is dificult for a lady of my stature this time of day. Please?" she asks, trying to look innocent and helpless for Guillaume.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

The marbled polecat looks unsure of his course, and looks between the two ladies needing his attention repeatedly. On the one hand Madonna Ivanova is certainly correct in her claim and need of assistance. On the other hand, he acts like assassins will jump out of the shadows and skewer Rosza Juette the moment he's gone.

Finally heaving a great sigh, he claps the hat he'd removed back on his head and nods to Rosza. "By your leave then, Rosza Juette." And begins ambling out with Natalia and Quinn with a look on his face akin to a condemned criminal faced with the guillotine.

Male Wolf

Ceallach spends most of the time during these conversations simply looking back and forth between the two speaking groups. By the mists, these Calabrians talk ever onward. Out loud, he says "Are we done here yet? My claws have kilted wolf blood to soak in, and I am not patient." His demeanor is becoming surlier by the minute. Thankfully, at least to him, some of these strange creatures decide to leave. He follows them out, glad to be under open sky again.

"I wait outside the stone walls. It is time I saw good grasses again." He walks away without another word.

Female Bat : Star Elementalist

"High strung, isn't he?" Natalia remarks after the Phelan has walked off out of earshot. "Like all Phelan, good in a fight, but limited in the social graces."

"But never mind. We have a destination to reach, and a crowd between us and it. Guillaume, do not fret about the Madonna so, she can take care of herself. And mayhap she will miss your presence, and hurry her self-appointed task to be reunited with you. But let us go, before our other companion perishes form lack of food and drink!"

During the walk, Natalia will make small talk with Guillaume, teasing him a bit about his steadfast nature. She will include Quinn also, asking about her homeland with some interest (and if Quinn lets it be known that she's a Thaumaturge, Natalia will have all sorts of questions about Thaumaturgy for her).

After arriving at the Wand and Flagon and ensuring that Quinn and Guillaume occupy a table, Natalia will slip off to the Academy (near at hand) to change her clothes, and return in a more 'sensible' dress and leather armor. The dress has frilly accents upon it, giving Natalia more of a feminine shape. (Of course it does make her look more child-like...)

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Upon Natalia's return Guillaume seems both elated to have a familiar face to talk to again and despairing as he knows exactly what Madonna Ivanova likes to tease him about.

And after about half an hour of exactly that, he's nearly ready to blow a gasket, with a good drink in him and nearly shouting "I'm telling you, she'd never-" Guillaume cuts off his words and stands as his roving eyes spied Rosza Juette de Vieuxpont walking through the door and casting her sharp gaze on the assembled students and hangers-on within.

"Ah. Rosza Juette, apologies for my exit. The escort was warranted as it turns out, but...what are all those parchment sheafs under your arm? Come, let me handle that. The least I can do is...the least I can do is the reading and the shuffling." He sits down rather firmly and shoves his drink away, yelling for some fresh water, and none of that dirty crap either.

@Rosza: If you could make your entrance, I'll post up an infodump for the group based on what you've found in the intervening time. Then you can all decide where to go from there.

The walk from the Docks to the gates takes longer than you would like, but at least people give you a wide berth and clear the way when you look at them. The gate guards, already used to your excursions outside simply look warily as they let you pass, though you get the sense at least a few of them look more in interest rather than fear of you.

As you amble away from the cloistering stones, you easily recognize your friend Eamonn sitting on a rock forming one of the several large cairns along the road. He seems a bit agitated, nervous, like he's looking for someone that hasn't shown. Spying you he seems to become both more calm and more nervous at the same time.

"Aye, you needed to get out too, eh? Just the same. Sometimes it feels too cramped in there."

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

Quinn loosens up a little as conversation carries on and asks questions about Natalia's magic while answering about Thaumaturgy. All the while asking about words here and there, as well as the social norms.

On Rosza's return she stands bows her head a little and gestures to an open chair,
"Madonna de Vieuxpont, please take the open seat. I hope your search went well?" then sits, listening to her reply.

Female Weasel Dilettante

"Merci, was it...Lady...Ka-win? I do not believe I have heard of your family and lineage?" Rosza's tone is a touch doubtful but seems more a matter of uncertainty than deliberate rudeness...She has certainly shown she can make her meaning plain when rudeness is her intention. She hands the bundle of parchments off to Guillaume -- save for one which she spreads on the tabletop after checking to be sure it isn't sopping wet with spilled drink.

"Non, Guillaume, of course you are excused! Always the gentilhomme."

The ermine drops into a seat and fans herself with her floppy hat. "Our dear employer is at a loss. I think he is clean...unfortunately...but he does not keep such good tabs on his business as I would like. We shall have to make inquiries of his associates, and his competitors, and the street in general as to how active highwaymen have been on the Via Salutis. It will be interesting to see if others are having such difficulties or if Messer Cedric is a particular target."

She waves a hand at the unrolled parchment on the tabletop. "Interesting bill of lading. Not much detail, is there? I believe we had best contact our respective houses." She glances from Guillaume to Natalia. "We need to know what size packages, boxes, barrels or whatever we are seeking, and how they may be marked. It would seem foolish indeed to return to our houses or dear Cedric and have to show each item we recover and ask 'Is this it? Non? How about this one?'"

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

"Quinn is fine, better then constant fumbling anyway. I, and my family, are from Zongguo. Not many here know the families of my homeland and my status here seems...not acceptable yet."

As Rosza continues with business,
"I agree, good to know more about what we seek and much good to know if Cedric is being only target."

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

As the group talks, Guillaume sips at the water brought to him and leafs through the mound of papers, separating them according to purpose and aim. Each sheaf bears Cedric's characteristic scrawl as they describe items in shipments, and near the bottom some rather older documents appear that contain other persons' words as well. As he finishes his shuffle, Guillaume clears his throat and begins announcing what Rosza's inquiries have found.

"Firstly, our identifying marks shouldn't be hard to find. Cedric ships in crates with his company's sigil painted on the "top," assuming that mean they have a lid or one side noticeably more used than the others. I hope we all remember that terrible sign above his door, because that's what we're looking for.

"Secondly, Cedric of Launts does not use specialized shipping equipment, which is to say he's just putting it in wagons and covering the goods with burlap to avoid notice...not avoiding it very well though.

"Thirdly, Rosza Juette is right. While our first two missing shipments were mostly shipwright's things destined for the yards to the north-west, it seems relations of three of those now gathered here have a personal stake in the latest fiasco. I wonder what they wanted that necessitated such secrecy but wasn't important enough to use a more well-guarded courier?"

The marbled polecat scrunched up his face in thought, idly scratching at his nose with one claw. A long moment passed while he sipped his drink some more, until he shook his head to clear it of mental cobwebs and looked up at his oldest friend. "I cannot help but think something strange is afoot. Shall I seek audience with Uncle Apollinaire, or would you prefer it, knowing there's a chance Penelope will be there either way?"

Male Wolf

Ceallach simply nods, sitting down in the grass and taking a deep breath. The Berla rolls off his tongue. "This place can be maddening. There is no feeling of nature's path within its twisting walls and streets. The ways I learned to navigate as a pup are practically useless." He takes another breath, closing his eyes to better smell the air. Something that almost looks like a pleasant smile crosses his face for a moment.

"Times like these, I think back to my home: The chill streams, and thick trees, the wild grasses and flowers in abundance. A place where color was simply part of life, made by the earth instead of placed on stone by people."

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

Quinn listens patiently to the others as they talk and make plans, content(secretly) to let them navigate the local unknowns.

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Eamonn nodded his assent, blowing a sharp breath out of his nose. [b]"Aye, the eastern ones have separated themselves more thoroughly from nature in many ways, and the Fenechas is a clearer legal code, but I don't need to be a Druid to know that they carry it in their own ways. They are not so bad, truly Ceallach. You just haven't let yourself think so I'd wager.

"But enough happy sentimentalities. From your gait and air I'd say my contact was good for work? What did he want ye to do?"

Tiger Taoist, Sworddancer

Just cause nothing has happened recently.

Quinn gets out a sketch book and starts sketching some nearby statue while somewhat listening to the conversation.

Male Wolf

Ceallach snorts and laughs loudly. "Not so bad? I suppose only if you measure them against the Bisclavret. I can't abide this city Eamonn, but I cannot truly leave it now. I am trapped in a place I despise. Thankfully, this task will take me far from here, at least for a time, and will include an activity that I think will suit my talents exactly."

Ceallach ambles closer to Eamonn, taking a seat on the grass. "We're hunting stolen goods for some Docks company run by the shiftiest hare I've ever laid eyes upon. They've been stolen along the Safe Road, near Harrowgate." Ceallach smiles widely. "They want us to find the goods, and kill the ones who did it. You know what that means: Bisclavret. After all this time, I think a touch of revenge is in order."

Male Hooman Utter Fool/4

Eámonn closed his eyes and turned away, whistling a sharp rising note into the crisp early evening air. "Aye, that’s what I thought was going on. My people at the Four Corners Coster have been losing them too, and in the same kind of place…and I probably shouldn’t tell you this since it was spoken in confidence, but the Coster think it’s more than just simple bandits. Someone knows exactly what to look for, and when."

He rose up and stretched like he’d been sitting for hours, brownish face cast red in the light of the slowly setting sun. Eyes taking on a faraway look, his next words came out low and full of pathos, accent straying back into its native territory. "We’ve been friends a long time, aye? I need to ask a wee favor of ye." Eámonn pulled from his shirt a small golden locket in the shape of a cameo on a leather strip, cradling it in his hand like it meant all the world. Its sheen was dulled by age, its engravings smoothed, and there was a dent in the casing, but the craftsmanship was still evident.

"I need ye to take this with ye to Harrowgate, or as near as the job demands. There’ll be a…well…*ahem* there’ll be a lass there to receive it. A Fiann, one o’ the Wilders like yerself. There’s message inside, written, so you needn’t worry about learnin’ me darkest secrets…just don’t lose it aye? Neither of us are quite as free to speak about things as we’d like, she even less than I." The former Brehon seemed eminently uncomfortable speaking about the subject, even shy, his large hand rubbing the nape of his neck while his face looked like he’d just become his clan’s omega.

Guillaume de Laurraine seemed concerned at the lack of response from his oldest, dearest friend. Reaching a hand across the table, he waved it in front of her eyes as he'd done countless times before. "Rosza Juette? All is well? You're not brooding about Penelope on my account are you? The...*ahem* incident in Apollinaire's conservatory was entirely an accident, I shan't be caught off guard this time...mostly because I won't go in the front door."

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