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Shadow over Riddleport

Game Master Joana

"Gristav failed to mention that our destination was a house of madness and murder... so no, I didn't come that prepared." -- Phillip Hargreaves


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M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3

"Well done!", Gristav cheers.


Male Human (Chelaxian)

Flinging Gristav an annoyed glare, the general selects one of his men seemingly at random. "Get Cooke on the paperwork when he finishes with the priest, and have any prisoners Graves brings in detained to incorporate their names and descriptions. Come along, gentlemen." Dismissing the interruption, he sweeps up the stairs to his office.

Nodding to the last to enter the close the door behind him, he sets the parchment on his desk and quickly scans it. "One thing strikes me," he notes. "The basket. Ananda didn't mention the false Vishki carrying a basket when they left the residence. It's possible it was left behind and overlooked as irrelevant; if we can lay our hands on the basket, it might help tie Lil Scarlet to the crime scene. Or," he sighs, "she may have thrown it over the cliff with the housekeeper, in which case it's almost certainly unretrievable in the harbor. I'll send a man back to the Harbor View specifically to locate a basket."


hp 22 / 22; AC 16; Init +2 Male Half-elf Ranger 2

Braddon thinks for a second.
"What was in the basket, though? That's a lot of tea. Or poison even. Maybe the bird was in there? But then she'd need it to get the bird out. And only the necklace was missing. You don't need a basket to carry those things. But it could have just been part of the disguise. Like those scarves and stuff."
Braddon nods, frowns and shakes his head.
"Was there a basket at Lil's hideout?" he asks Gristav, struggling to remember.


The General wrote:
Mescher stares at Snake for a long moment. "If you're willing to sign an affidavit stating that the persons in question are innocent of illegal cultic activity and that you take responsibility for any future disturbance of the public order they might incite, I suppose they could be released into your custody."

Snake cringes at Gristav's outburst, thinking he's gonna screw things up again. Sighing, he says nothing about it as he responds to the General, "Will do."


Snake settles back to waiting ... or pacing. A short time after the others have disappeared up the stairs behind the general, Arnando Rolf reappears, escorted by the Gendarme Cooke back to the front door. He gives Snake a silent but jaunty salute on his way out. When Cooke closes the door behind the cleric, he is informed of the general's order, as every eye on the ground floor turns toward the witch.

"If you'll come with me, sir," Cooke ushers Snake into one of the small offices, just large enough for a desk and two chairs. "Standing surety, are you? Release on recognizance subject to a defeasance of good behavior?" He whips a sheet of parchment out of a drawer of the desk, dips a quill in the inkpot, and begins to scribe.

------------------------------

Piccolo Taphodarian wrote:
"Of course, Will. I will return in a bit." Piccolo will exit through the door they entered and traverse the left corridor.

Piccolo walks back out into the narrow corridor by which Akron led them and takes the first left. The hallway is lit at regular intervals by oil lamps and curves slightly to the left; Piccolo presumes that he is walking beneath the lowest seats in the bowl of the arena. He passes several short corridors on the left, which most likely terminate in boxes like the one Will was apportioned, and a few to the right which, he presumes from the muffled echoes and diffused natural light, connect with the stairs and gates.

After a few more moments, he begins to hear nearer echoes bouncing down the corridor and getting louder as he keeps walking, the sound of clatter and friendly conversation, which is soon accompanied by the aroma of cooked food. As the corridor continues to curve inward, he finally sees it open up ahead of him into a large open room. To the left, several windows with closed shutters are set into the wall; Piccolo guesses the betting clerks will open the shutters when the gates open. To the right, a wide staircase leads up to a food counter, behind which he can see people working in a kitchen. Across the way is another corridor like the one he just navigated, undoubtedly leading to more boxes like Will's.


Gold Goblin wrote:

Snake settles back to waiting ... or pacing. A short time after the others have disappeared up the stairs behind the general, Arnando Rolf reappears, escorted by the Gendarme Cooke back to the front door. He gives Snake a silent but jaunty salute on his way out. When Cooke closes the door behind the cleric, he is informed of the general's order, as every eye on the ground floor turns toward the witch.

"If you'll come with me, sir," Cooke ushers Snake into one of the small offices, just large enough for a desk and two chairs. "Standing surety, are you? Release on recognizance subject to a defeasance of good behavior?" He whips a sheet of parchment out of a drawer of the desk, dips a quill in the inkpot, and begins to scribe.

Snake looks at the man a bit confused. "I'm not too familiar with proper law terminology but if what you just said has anything to do with me being responsible and/or taking custody of three people that are soon to be brought in, then yes... to both questions." He hesitates a moment as the man continues to write before finally asking, "That is what you're saying, right?"


Male Gnome Bard (Negotiator) 2

Piccolo will make his way to the food counter. He'll stand in a visible position in front of the counter like any customer would. He wants to gauge the watchfulness and professionalism of the serving staff.

I'll do both Diplomacy1d20 + 12 ⇒ (17) + 12 = 29 and Knowledge (local}1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26. Gather information through conversation and see what he knows. I wasn't sure how you do knowledge checks. I know for humanoids, Knowledge-Local is the skill to determine their capabilities. Usually I allow players to determine general class and relative power with Knowledge-Local checks of humanoids with class levels.

Gold Goblin wrote:

Piccolo walks back out into the narrow corridor by which Akron led them and takes the first left. The hallway is lit at regular intervals by oil lamps and curves slightly to the left; Piccolo presumes that he is walking beneath the lowest seats in the bowl of the arena. He passes several short corridors on the left, which most likely terminate in boxes like the one Will was apportioned, and a few to the right which, he presumes from the muffled echoes and diffused natural light, connect with the stairs and gates.

After a few more moments, he begins to hear nearer echoes bouncing down the corridor and getting louder as he keeps walking, the sound of clatter and friendly conversation, which is soon accompanied by the aroma of cooked food. As the corridor continues to curve inward, he finally sees it open up ahead of him into a large open room. To the left, several windows with closed shutters are set into the wall; Piccolo guesses the betting clerks will open the shutters when the gates open. To the right, a wide staircase leads up to a food counter,...


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3
Braddon Hurst wrote:

Braddon thinks for a second.

"What was in the basket, though? That's a lot of tea. Or poison even. Maybe the bird was in there? But then she'd need it to get the bird out. And only the necklace was missing. You don't need a basket to carry those things. But it could have just been part of the disguise. Like those scarves and stuff."
Braddon nods, frowns and shakes his head.
"Was there a basket at Lil's hideout?" he asks Gristav, struggling to remember.

"We didn't conduct an exhaustive search of the entire premises, but no, I don't think there was. It may have been left, as the General surmised, and any avian passenger might have flown. I do have to wonder if the landlady might not have cleared such things away, in the general cleanup following the gendarmes'... careful search. Feeling, as she was, ill-done-by, with the General declaring he would vacate the lease, she may be indisposed to remembering it, among the rest of the ruin. I'd had a thought toward having her end the lease, a bit of theater we're coincidentally preparing for. But if a dispatched gendarme is more facile..."


Male Human (Chelaxian)

"It's an outside chance it's still there," the general admits briskly, "but it harms nothing to check. A basket might easily have been overlooked or assumed to have been the property of the victim. Was there anything else suggested by the corpse's testimony?" He looks particularly at Gristav, who originally suggested the discussion.


"Snake" wrote:
Snake looks at the man, a bit confused. "I'm not too familiar with proper law terminology but if what you just said has anything to do with me being responsible and/or taking custody of three people that are soon to be brought in, then yes... to both questions." He hesitates a moment as the man continues to write before finally asking, "That is what you're saying, right?"

"Mm-hm," the Gendarme affirms distractedly as he continues to write. "Name, place of residence, and occupation?" he asks.

-----------------------------

Piccolo approaches the counter, which is nearly a foot above his head. From this position, he can no longer see any activity in the kitchen, although the sounds and aromas are still his to enjoy. He can hear the sizzle of cooking meat, the clatter of pans and utensils, and the staccato bursts of the cooks' voices calling instructions and advice to each other. He waits for several moments before deciding that no one will ever see him unless they lean over the counter. Retreating back down the stairs, he finally catches the eye of a woman carrying a baking sheet studded with puffy, golden-brown bread knots. "Oh!" she says, surprised. "Didn't see you there. Have the gates opened then? Josko! Fetch a crate for the little one!" She sets her hot burden down and tucks a stray tendril of dishwater-blond hair up in the scarf tied around her head while a man in a dirty white cap and apron fishes an empty crate from somewhere and drops it over the counter to serve as a makeshift stepstool for the vertically-disadvantaged.


Male Gnome Bard (Negotiator) 2

Piccolo steps onto the crate. He peers over the counter, "An ale and some glazed nuts. If you happen to know Will Swevenforey's preferences that is who I am purchasing the items for. Sorry to disturb your preparations, but artists do need their nourishment to fuel their creativity." He counts faces and details in the kitchen area.

Gold Goblin wrote:
Piccolo approaches the counter, which is nearly a foot above his head. From this position, he can no longer see any activity in the kitchen, although the sounds and aromas are still his to enjoy. He can hear the sizzle of cooking meat, the clatter of pans and utensils, and the staccato bursts of the cooks' voices calling instructions and advice to each other. He waits for several moments before deciding that no one will ever see him unless they lean over the counter. Retreating back down the stairs, he finally catches the eye of a woman carrying a baking sheet studded with puffy, golden-brown bread knots. "Oh!" she says, surprised. "Didn't see you there. Have the gates opened then? Josko! Fetch a crate for the little one!" She sets her hot burden down and tucks a stray tendril of dishwater-blond hair up in the scarf tied around her head while a man in a dirty white cap and apron fishes an empty crate from somewhere and drops it over the counter to serve as a makeshift stepstool for the vertically-disadvantaged.


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3
Anton Mescher wrote:
"It's an outside chance it's still there," the general admits briskly, "but it harms nothing to check. A basket might easily have been overlooked or assumed to have been the property of the victim. Was there anything else suggested by the corpse's testimony?" He looks particularly at Gristav, who originally suggested the discussion.

"You'll want to refer, perhaps, to the recorded testimony. The shade recounts how she was unaware of why she accepted the poison, and drank it directly. Before that, she welcomed the stranger, even while knowing and feeling she should not. There are magical explanations for both these odd behaviors. More to the point, there are no non-magical explanations."

"From the first in this case, I've been cautioned of the supposed magical powers of Miss Scarlet. Given the testimony of the deceased, such cautions seem correct. And, given these congruences, I find my own logical reticence to join the chorus of certainty of the involvement of this Scarlet... weakening. Which... distresses me, because in consideration of such power, one would need to deal more precipitously and summarily, in any encounter. Surrender terms cannot be offered, she must be reduced to unconsciousness, bound, silenced, hooded, and then brought to question in a manner that prevents use of her powers. The 'two rooms' model, where the questioner is unseen, unheard, unrevealed to her. And thus, cannot be enspelled. The questions are given by a man not empowered to release or harm her, one who might be enspelled without permanent loss to the effort."

"Which all presumes she might be found and taken. I don't see that as certain. Not yet. Oh, we've clues, shadows. But nothing one could aim an arrow at."

"Some other questions linger. The basket, as mentioned. The two empty phials of the suggestibility poison, while we have only one victim explained. Who else needed to be rendered cooperative? You see, not just 'out of the way', for the culprit has demonstrated Oil of Taggit was not outside their capacity for mayhem, but cooperative. Who? One can construct a scenario where the basket and that person are linked; they may both yet be found."

"Another open question is the purpose of the necklace stolen. It's been suggested that it might be used as a scrying focus, allowing one to scry upon Miss Mescher, and perhaps through her, to you, and your business. I've observed, you separate the two, to the last is not much at risk. But the first... You may find her safer, close at hand. Does she keep a journal? Such might be read, by a scryer, any pages that happened to be open."


hp 22 / 22; AC 16; Init +2 Male Half-elf Ranger 2
Gristav wrote:


"Another open question is the purpose of the necklace stolen. It's been suggested that it might be used as a scrying focus, allowing one to scry upon Miss Mescher, and perhaps through her, to you, and your business. I've observed, you separate the two, to the last is not much at risk. But the first... You may find her safer, close at hand. Does she keep a journal? Such might be read, by a scryer, any pages that happened to be open."

At the mention of Ananda, Braddon jumps in.

"No, no, no, no, no! She's going. This place is too dangerous. Ananda never even wore the necklace. The General here probably had it longer than she did. Wouldn't the magic have an easier time looking at him? And why loot the place at all if the magic can see where it is? We need to grab Lil and see if she still has the necklace, then ask what it's for."
He turns back to the General.
"You want us to head back to the townhouse again and see what else we missed?"


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3

"If it's true the necklace was not a personal possession, of either of you, then I'll withdraw my... No, no, I will not withdraw my concern regarding scrying. I will instead observe that the ransacking thought to have been intended to discover the necklace, may instead have had other purpose. Perhaps another sought object, as yet uncatalogued? Or an object of some embarrassment to a daughter, not revealed as having been taken? That would presumably be personal, and serve as a scrying focus. But there's a less threatening possibility."

"The rest of that night seems calculate to harm your household, General, and also to draw your wroth, by Ananda's actualized abduction and avoided adulteration, on the premises of a local business, to that business. It's not unlikely the necklace was taken and held in reserve, a confirming evidence of corporate complicity, perfidiously planted to be duly discovered, drawing the darkest of a father's dire duties."

"Of course, it's all conjecture. Informed conjecture, but still... as Snake has put it, moronic conclusions."


Male Human (Chelaxian)
Braddon Hurst wrote:
"You want us to head back to the townhouse again and see what else we missed?"

"No, thank you," the general replies. "I think it's best we keep these particular proceedings official. If you turn up at the Harbor View commanding cooperation on the grounds you're working with the Gendarmes, who's to say Lil can't send her own agents with a similar claim? I prefer to limit access, as much as possible. If the basket is discovered, I can send you a runner with the information."

"As for the vials," he turns to Gristav, "I should have their former contents identified before sunset. I can send that information as well ... with the caveat, of course, that should any of this leak into the common rumors of the town, I'll know who to blame." He fixes the half-elves with a dour glare before continuing. "The idea that the necklace might be planted elsewhere to deflect suspicion and impute blame has merit. Have you any idea whom Lil might want to discredit? Someone without an alibi for Sunday afternoon?"


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3

"I suppose there's me...", Gristav smiles, "Without an alibi, having come to town many hours later, but I don't believe I'm even known, to the lady. She sent Ananda to the Gold Goblin, where Vankaskerkin is the proprietor, and my long-time friend is the treasurer. It's the conjecture there, that that place, or more specifically, Vankaskerkin, was her target. Had your daughter actually been... diminished in any way, it would be a simple matter to plant the necklace in such a public venue, and then provide whatever hint might be needed, to direct a gendarme's eye, and a father's ire."

"But she overplayed, sending also robbers, who were, to a man, slain in the attempt, Braddon's arts proving their undoing. Investigation by the Goblin's staff found a trail leading to Lil. Which circled back, to... well, to here. It certainly appears the lady wished you and the Goblin, presumably Vankaskerkin, to be enemies."

"I arrived after all that, and to some degree could not resist the mystery of it, though I was moreover moved by duty to my friend. I see a congruence, General, in our caring for those injured by her acts, and would even call us allies, but your officer Graves, when I suggested similar common cause and alliance, disabused me of my error, citing my lack of uniform. So I'll leave such suggestion to you to make, and until then imagine nothing like alliance, despite clear common cause."


Piccolo Taphodarian wrote:
Piccolo steps onto the crate. He peers over the counter, "An ale and some glazed nuts. If you happen to know Will Swevenforey's preferences that is who I am purchasing the items for. Sorry to disturb your preparations, but artists do need their nourishment to fuel their creativity." He counts faces and details in the kitchen area.

"Will Swevenforey?" the woman repeats, mystified.

"The boss's poster artist, Rose," the man grins. "The, uh, gnome."

"Oh," her face sours. It appears few people have a good opinion of Will. "What are you, one of his kin? I don't recall seeing you before."

The kitchen is a large one, easily twice the size of the Gold Goblin's from what Piccolo can see, and radiates heat on this hot summer day. On the far side, four sets of stairs lead further upward. Besides the woman, Rose, and the man in the apron and cap, there are at least a dozen other cooks sweating in the kitchen, all human. The aroma of the freshly-baked bread knots mingles with the scent of warm, spiced meat. Kegs of ale line one wall, ready to be tapped.


Male Human (Chelaxian)
Gristav wrote:
"I see a congruence, General, in our caring for those injured by her acts, and would even call us allies, but your officer Graves, when I suggested similar common cause and alliance, disabused me of my error, citing my lack of uniform. So I'll leave such suggestion to you to make, and until then imagine nothing like alliance, despite clear common cause."

Mescher levels a cold gaze at Gristav. "Graves has my full support in disabusing you of your misconception. The Gendarmerie are allies of no faction. We serve the Overlord and no one else. While we appreciate a compliant citizenry, our acting on tips from informants does not imply any sort of reciprocity on our account."


Gold Goblin wrote:
"Mm-hm," the Gendarme affirms distractedly as he continues to write. "Name, place of residence, and occupation?" he asks.

Snake repeats the questions under his breath as he's completely caught off guard, not expecting to have to answer any questions. Realizing he can't ponder the questions forever, "Sn..., I mean Kane. And I stay at the Gold Goblin. And my occupation is...," he thinks on it a moment, "is...," and realizes he has no idea what his 'occupation' is so he quickly settles for, "I'm employed by Saul."


Male Gnome Bard (Negotiator) 2

Not very popular is Will. Picolo says, Not kin. Recent acquaintances. Is there something I should know about Will? We gnomes are generally a friendly people. Is Will a prankster? Is that what inspires the sour expressions? Or it is his cantankerous personality? By the by, my name is Piccolo. It is a pleasure to meet you." He smiles.

Gold Goblin wrote:

"Will Swevenforey?" the woman repeats, mystified.

"The boss's poster artist, Rose," the man grins. "The, uh, gnome."

"Oh," her face sours. It appears few people have a good opinion of Will. "What are you, one of his kin? I don't recall seeing you before."

The kitchen is a large one, easily twice the size of the Gold Goblin's from what Piccolo can see, and radiates heat on this hot summer day. On the far side, four sets of stairs lead further upward. Besides the woman, Rose, and the man in the apron and cap, there are at least a dozen other cooks sweating in the kitchen, all human. The aroma of the freshly-baked bread knots mingles with the scent of warm, spiced meat. Kegs of ale line one wall, ready to be tapped.


hp 22 / 22; AC 16; Init +2 Male Half-elf Ranger 2
Anton Mescher wrote:
"As for the vials," he turns to Gristav, "I should have their former contents identified before sunset. I can send that information as well ... with the caveat, of course, that should any of this leak into the common rumors of the town, I'll know who to blame." He fixes the half-elves with a dour glare before continuing.

"Don't worry. I know not to tell people who I'm working for." He raises an eyebrow at Gristav.

"Well, if that's all, we'll go. That letter was written and intercepted on Wealday, during the flood. Does that happen often? Everyone seemed to know what to do."


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3
Braddon Hurst wrote:
Anton Mescher wrote:
"As for the vials," he turns to Gristav, "I should have their former contents identified before sunset. I can send that information as well ... with the caveat, of course, that should any of this leak into the common rumors of the town, I'll know who to blame." He fixes the half-elves with a dour glare before continuing.

"Some of 'any' of it, is in rumor already, General, where we found it to bring it to you. But as I said recently, discretion must be a habit, it has no function at all, unless one wears it."

Braddon Hurst wrote:
"Don't worry. I know not to tell people who I'm working for." He raises an eyebrow at Gristav.

"And where would we be contacted? Learn to work for people where there's no embarrassment when it's found out. The General is an excellent start."

-----

Anton Mescher wrote:
Gristav wrote:
"I see a congruence, General, in our caring for those injured by her acts, and would even call us allies, but your officer Graves, when I suggested similar common cause and alliance, disabused me of my error, citing my lack of uniform. So I'll leave such suggestion to you to make, and until then imagine nothing like alliance, despite clear common cause."
Mescher levels a cold gaze at Gristav. "Graves has my full support in disabusing you of your misconception. The Gendarmerie are allies of no faction. We serve the Overlord and no one else. While we appreciate a compliant citizenry, our acting on tips from informants does not imply any sort of reciprocity on our account."

"I represent no faction, only the single man who went to prevent the shackling and shaking of the innocents, and found himself only welcome to witness it. There was reciprocity, in that we both felt that our time had been wasted. A risk, I suppose, with an informant. I had higher hopes."

"I killed two men today, General, pursuing your business. I suppose, that's colored my mood. I hope you can forgive whatever trespass... It appears I am ungifted, for the role of informant. I see too much of every man better, when you of course need to see them more exactly, as they are."


Male Human (Chelaxian)

"If it made you unhappy to kill them, you were, of course, free to choose to let them kill you," General Mescher replies casually. "This is not Magnimar. Certain areas of Riddleport are dangerous places for dangerous men; if you don't wish to encounter them, I suggest you stay in safer neighborhoods ... and don't associate with Saul Vankaskerkin."

Braddon Hurst wrote:
"That letter was written and intercepted on Wealday, during the flood. Does that happen often? Everyone seemed to know what to do."

"The flood?" he asks, with a cocked eyebrow. "Oh, you mean the tidal surge. Every year or two, I suppose. Does a bit of minor damage, puts some coin in Casamen Cazynsik's pocket. They say there was one seventeen years ago so large that it destroyed the waterfront and flooded River District as far as Velashu Ferry. That was before I lived here, though."

"If that's all, gentlemen, I'll let you show yourselves out. And I'll send a runner to the Gold Goblin when the contents of the vials have been identified."


"Snake" wrote:
Snake repeats the questions under his breath as he's completely caught off guard, not expecting to have to answer any questions. Realizing he can't ponder the questions forever, "Sn..., I mean Kane. And I stay at the Gold Goblin. And my occupation is...," he thinks on it a moment, "is...," and realizes he has no idea what his 'occupation' is so he quickly settles for, "I'm employed by Saul."

Cooke seems to notice the man's hesitancy and glances up at him skeptically, but he continues to scribe. "You're sure you want to do this? Accept responsibility for any trouble these people might get into in the future?"

----------------------------

Piccolo Taphodarian wrote:
Not very popular is Will. Picolo says, Not kin. Recent acquaintances. Is there something I should know about Will? We gnomes are generally a friendly people. Is Will a prankster? Is that what inspires the sour expressions? Or it is his cantankerous personality? By the by, my name is Piccolo. It is a pleasure to meet you." He smiles.

"Prankster?" Rose snorts as she opens a jar and fills a folded paper cone with glazed nuts. "Hells, it would do him some good to get the paintbrush out of his ass and laugh at something for once."

"Rose," the man says remindingly as he fills a mug with ale, "that's his friend you're talking to."

"Bah!" she scoffs. "Recent acquaintance, he says, and he hasn't learned it yet, he'll know it before he spends an hour with the little bastard." She hands the packet of nuts to Piccolo. "He's a monomaniacal little tyrant, he is, who doesn't care about nothing but his pictures. Gruesome, I call 'em. They say he cuts up dead people to paint their insides right, and I don't doubt he'd cut up live people too, if he could get away with it, for more authenticity."

"You'll forgive Rose and not mention what she says," the man smiles ingratiatingly, setting the mug of ale on the counter. "Lets her tongue run away with her, she does; she don't mean no harm by it. That's one and a half silver coins for the nuts and ale." The cost is easily twice what the snacks would go for outside the arena; there's no doubt but that Zincher turns a tidy profit on his captive audience while they're in their seats.

No need to worry about bookkeeping for small amounts, Piccolo; while the party is on the payroll at the Gold Goblin, we assume that anything that costs less than one gold comes out of petty cash.


hp 22 / 22; AC 16; Init +2 Male Half-elf Ranger 2
Anton Mescher wrote:
"If that's all, gentlemen, I'll let you show yourselves out. And I'll send a runner to the Gold Goblin when the contents of the vials have been identified."

"Sure. Thanks. Bye."

Braddon makes his way out.

Once they're well clear of the General and his guards Braddon whispers furiously. "Are you mad? Now he knows where to come for us in the middle of the night. I mean, I'm sure he already knew, but if he came for us before he'd have to admit he was spying on us which would annoy Saul, but now he can deny it and just say you told him. And don't you dare give him my real name. If he ever learns anything about my real family, there'll be nine hells to pay. Which part of 'nice for a guy who can have you taken in the middle of the night and tortured to death' did you miss? He is not a nice a guy, however much he loves Ananda. In fact, that makes him more dangerous. Weird stuff happens to her and I appear. Do you think he hasn't considered killing me already, just to be on the safe side? If anything happens to her before she leaves town, our lives are over. I only arrived a week ago and I may have to run again already. If he finds out I skipped out on a bounty what do you think will happen to the tiny piece of trust he's shown me."
Braddon waves his Gendarme's badge discretely at Gristav before pocketing it again.
"A few casual questions, "Oh, Braddon came in on a Chelish ship on Sunday morn', he sends a letter to the head of the guards there and suddenly he's got me in his crossbow sights. 'Have you considered spying on Saul for me, Mister Hurst? I hear you are a valuable man!' But he has to work to find that out and he's a busy man and I intend to make sure that I am so helpful that I am not worth his time to find out stuff about me so don't tell him I let an escaped slave go and reneged on a bounty and had to flee Cheliax or he'll use every piece of that information against me because that's what he does, do you understand?"
Braddon sucks in a deep breath and peers warily over each shoulder.
"I wanna work for Saul. He's got big ideas and as long as I help and don't get in his way he will never look at me twice. And Larur is a pretty nice guy, even if he is a dwarf, and he'll look out for me while I'm doing right by him. But the General will never trust me unless he owns me and I don't want that to happen. Give him most of what he asks for and nothing else. Especially for free. That just makes us look dumb. And dumb people do stupid things like arrange bizarre attacks on your daughter. That's why I had messages left for me at the Publican. That's why I gave him Oliver Bott's name and not my name. By now he probably knows what colour Bott's smallclothes are. If we can find concrete proof Bott was working with Lil, the General will have him tortured to death and no amount of protection from Shorafa will save him. Because that's where this is leading. Someone will pay for what's happened and I don't want that to be me but so far he only has us. If those poisons don't match it may not just be a runner that comes to the Goblin this afternoon. Maybe I could take the afternoon off. I mean, check some... contacts I've made."

Braddon looks around again.
"Where's Snake? Should we wait for him? Where to next?


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3

"Thank you for your trust. Although, I suppose you imagine me very easy to kill. But I doubt you did that math. So thank you for your trust. I hope you know that I will do my best, to be worthy of it."

"I'm not mad, but neither wise. I only reasoned, as you did, that we'd rather be useful to him, and that 'via Publican', or in my case, 'The Duck', reduced that. If I would guise as respectable, or hope to be so, the respect of a true address was required."

"As for taken in the night, and the rest... He's not the only man in town, with such powers. Or even, in this conversation. But there, he's the only man who would have kept that slave."

"The poisons will match. And if it were more than a runner, come to the Goblin, you would not forgive yourself your absence, as Samaritha's room was made to look like Ananda's house, and Sam was made... off with. Better a stand against that dark, and a flight, than a flight, and to stand in the shadow of that error, forever. We might take service with your friend the Captain. I look good in green."

"As for Snake, I believe I'm less burden to him if I'm farther away. But we should wait for him. So... stand between us?"


Male Gnome Bard (Negotiator) 2

"Of course, this conversation went in one ear," Piccolo taps his right ear, "and will stay there. A few more questions, have you any information on the games? Who is worth betting on?" He fishes into his purse and lays a neat stack of three silver coins on the counter. He takes a glazed nut from the bag and pops it in his mouth.

Gold Goblin wrote:
Piccolo Taphodarian wrote:
Not very popular is Will. Picolo says, Not kin. Recent acquaintances. Is there something I should know about Will? We gnomes are generally a friendly people. Is Will a prankster? Is that what inspires the sour expressions? Or it is his cantankerous personality? By the by, my name is Piccolo. It is a pleasure to meet you." He smiles.

"Prankster?" Rose snorts as she opens a jar and fills a folded paper cone with glazed nuts. "Hells, it would do him some good to get the paintbrush out of his ass and laugh at something for once."

"Rose," the man says remindingly as he fills a mug with ale, "that's his friend you're talking to."

"Bah!" she scoffs. "Recent acquaintance, he says, and he hasn't learned it yet, he'll know it before he spends an hour with the little bastard." She hands the packet of nuts to Piccolo. "He's a monomaniacal little tyrant, he is, who doesn't care about nothing but his pictures. Gruesome, I call 'em. They say he cuts up dead people to paint their insides right, and I don't doubt he'd cut up live people too, if he could get away with it, for more authenticity."

"You'll forgive Rose and not mention what she says," the man smiles ingratiatingly, setting the mug of ale on...


Gold Goblin wrote:
Cooke seems to notice the man's hesitancy and glances up at him skeptically, but he continues to scribe. "You're sure you want to do this? Accept responsibility for any trouble these people might get into in the future?"

Feeling like something's amiss when the man actually stops writing and looks up at him, "Yeah. Let's just get this over with, huh?" he answers, casually looking from side to side, wondering why the question but not daring to ask.


hp 22 / 22; AC 16; Init +2 Male Half-elf Ranger 2
Gristav wrote:

"Thank you for your trust. Although, I suppose you imagine me very easy to kill. But I doubt you did that math. So thank you for your trust. I hope you know that I will do my best, to be worthy of it."

"..."
"As for taken in the night, and the rest... He's not the only man in town, with such powers. Or even, in this conversation. But there, he's the only man who would have kept that slave."

"We are all easy to kill. Saul will try and protect us from Zincher and Shorafa, because we're his pawns, his property. But no-one will protect us from the Overlord and you've just given him his first excuse if he does decide to shut down your friend's operation. How many excuses do you think he needs before deciding that's enough proof? Because I don't think he counts to three very often."

Gristav wrote:
"The poisons will match. And if it were more than a runner, come to the Goblin, you would not forgive yourself your absence, as Samaritha's room was made to look like Ananda's house, and Sam was made... off with. Better a stand against that dark, and a flight, than a flight, and to stand in the shadow of that error, forever. We might take service with your friend the Captain. I look good in green."

"I glad you're prepared to bet MY life on those poisons matching. If only you'd met his pretty and clever but stubborn and somewhat naive, almost a woman-grown daughter then your life could be at stake too. You could wink at her and he'd take your eyes out. And you leave Sam out of this- people like her. People would miss her. Arnando would miss her and if there wasn't solid proof she'd done something wrong, then talk would spread fast. She is safe, you are annoying, I may be dangerous and may have to be dealt with."

Braddon draws his finger across his throat. "ICK!"

Gristav wrote:
"As for Snake, I believe I'm less burden to him if I'm farther away. But we should wait for him. So... stand between us?"

Braddon growls, "Usually someone pays me for that."

Braddon steps towards the buildings anyway and peers around for Snake.


"Snake" wrote:
Feeling like something's amiss when the man actually stops writing and looks up at him, "Yeah. Let's just get this over with, huh?" he answers, casually looking from side to side, wondering why the question but not daring to ask.

Cooke half-shrugs, spreads a handful of sand across the parchment to blot the ink, then tips it off back into its pot. "All that's left to do is to identify your prisoners," he tells Snake. "Follow me."

Taking the parchment, he leads Snake out the front door, across the training yard, past the gatehouse, to the boxy house built up against the southern edge of the ridge enclosing Devil's Fork. He knocks at the door, and after a moment, a small panel slides back so someone inside can see out. Cooke steps to one side so Snake is clearly visible. "Man here to take custody of some prisoners. General's orders. I have the paperwork." He slides the rolled-up parchment through the open panel, which snaps shut behind it, and waits. After a few moments, the click of locks and latches being manipulated can be heard from within the door, and it swings open.

Cooke leads Snake into a square room containing only a few benches lining the walls and a battered wooden desk and chair. Iron rings protrude from the wall along the benches, clearly for use in attaching chains. A uniformed Gendarme stands waiting just inside the door and returns the paper to Cooke. "Which prisoners is he wanting, then?"

Cooke glances at Snake as he replies. "Newly-arrived ones, as I understand it. Has Graves come in yet?"

"Ain't seen him," the other man shrugs.

"Well, we'll save you some work then," Cooke replies. "He's wanting people Graves is bringing in, so you won't have to process them." He looks at Snake and nods to the benches, inviting him to have a seat while he waits.

-----------------------

Braddon and Gristav leave the general's HQ and then the Devil's Fork compound altogether. They do not see Snake.

--------------------------

Piccolo Taphodarian wrote:
"Of course, this conversation went in one ear," Piccolo taps his right ear, "and will stay there. A few more questions, have you any information on the games? Who is worth betting on?" He fishes into his purse and lays a neat stack of three silver coins on the counter. He takes a glazed nut from the bag and pops it in his mouth.

The nut is both sweet and salty, tasting of maple and bacon. The man in the cap and apron looks at the short stack of coins with surprised approval and quickly sweeps them into his hand as he leans across the counter. "Wouldn't place any wagers on Allardyce or Dogger, either for or against. New blood, you see, and expectations are low ... but the boss sometimes likes to keep them that way, hoping Croat will underestimate them. Harry Blackman can be savage as a reefclaw, but he's also reckless and lazy; ends up losing fights he should win. You can't go wrong putting money on the Ulfen Varg: bloodthirsty and obsessed with his reputation, he is. Drezi and Stellan the Varisian knife-throwers are murder from a distance, but if their opponent gets them cornered, they have glass jaws; go down quicker than a Calistrian whore."


Male Gnome Bard (Negotiator) 2

Piccolo listens intently intermittently tossing a nut into his mouth. After the man is finished, he says "You have been most helpful. If your information makes me some coin, I'll definitely find you again. Thank you for ale and nuts."

Piccolo takes the ale and nuts back to their box. He hands them to Will, "Will, here are your glazed nuts and a bit of ale. Once the victuals are transferred, "I'm going to place a few bets once the windows open. Do you happen to have any information that might weight the odds in my favor?"

Gold Goblin wrote:
The nut is both sweet and salty, tasting of maple and bacon. The man in the cap and apron looks at the short stack of coins with surprised approval and quickly sweeps them into his hand as he leans across the counter. "Wouldn't place any wagers on Allardyce or Dogger, either for or against. New blood, you see, and expectations are low ... but the boss sometimes likes to keep them that way, hoping Croat will underestimate them. Harry Blackman can be savage as a reefclaw, but he's also reckless and lazy; ends up losing fights he should win. You can't go wrong putting money on the Ulfen Varg: bloodthirsty and obsessed with his reputation, he is. Drezi and Stellan the Varisian knife-throwers are murder from a distance, but if their opponent gets them cornered, they have glass jaws; go down quicker than a Calistrian whore."


Snake nods, moving over to the bench and taking a seat. As he looks around, Man I hate this place. Feels like a place where they lock you in and throw away the key.


Braddon and Gristav, how long are the two of you going to wait to see if Snake turns up, and where?

As Piccolo makes his way back toward Will's private box, he begins to hear the hum of activity and voices bouncing down the narrow corridors and stairways. It sounds as if the gates upstairs have opened. The low ceilings seem vaguely to shudder under the feet of fightgoers in the stands above. It occurs to Piccolo that he didn't count how many cross-corridors he passed on his way to the concession stand....

Roll me a Wisdom check, Piccolo.


Male Gnome Bard (Negotiator) 2

Wisdom Check: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (20) + 1 = 21


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3
Braddon Hurst wrote:
"We are all easy to kill. Saul will try and protect us from Zincher and Shorafa, because we're his pawns, his property. But no-one will protect us from the Overlord and you've just given him his first excuse if he does decide to shut down your friend's operation. How many excuses do you think he needs before deciding that's enough proof? Because I don't think he counts to three very often."

"I can't speak to the habits of the Overlord. I doubt he's aware of any of us, even you, even Saul. And I doubt Mescher will make him aware. Mescher's either very bad at it, or playing a deeper game than he's shown. There are questions I would have asked us; he didn't. So he either knows the answers, or doesn't care. Either, has unnerving connotations. But I expect Mescher, at least, can count higher than three. I don't think we've heard the last of that. I noticed, that while he didn't respond, he surely heard your offer to pursue Lil. Remember, this is the man who held Adalo for Zaiome's attentiveness. It will be... interesting, to hear from Snake, of the chapel's innocents' release."

Braddon Hurst wrote:
Gristav wrote:
"The poisons will match. And if it were more than a runner, come to the Goblin, you would not forgive yourself your absence, as Samaritha's room was made to look like Ananda's house, and Sam was made... off with. Better a stand against that dark, and a flight, than a flight, and to stand in the shadow of that error, forever. We might take service with your friend the Captain. I look good in green."

"I glad you're prepared to bet MY life on those poisons matching. If only you'd met his pretty and clever but stubborn and somewhat naive, almost a woman-grown daughter then your life could be at stake too. You could wink at her and he'd take your eyes out. And you leave Sam out of this- people like her. People would miss her. Arnando would miss her and if there wasn't solid proof she'd done something wrong, then talk would spread fast. She is safe, you are annoying, I may be dangerous and may have to be dealt with."

Braddon draws his finger across his throat. "ICK!"

"Fate chose you. You're more dashing, and let's be honest, by far the prettiest of us. That the handsome you, took no advantage of his vulnerable daughter, who speaks so warmly and highly of you... best for us that it was you. And I think your simple outlook will make you, to him, more predictable, and less dangerous. You're safe enough from the General. And the Captain." Gristav smiles.


hp 22 / 22; AC 16; Init +2 Male Half-elf Ranger 2

Braddon turns to Gristav.
"I dunno about Fate. Desna seems to be having a laugh. I suppose there are worse gods to entertain."
Braddon smiles wryly.

"Look, if Snake's not coming, I'm not waiting. I've got some... contacts... to catch up with. I'll head back to the Goblin later."

Braddon waves to Gristav and makes his way towards a building not far from the Three Billed Duck.


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3
Braddon Hurst wrote:

Braddon turns to Gristav.

"I dunno about Fate. Desna seems to be having a laugh. I suppose there are worse gods to entertain."
Braddon smiles wryly.

"Look, if Snake's not coming, I'm not waiting. I've got some... contacts... to catch up with. I'll head back to the Goblin later."

Braddon waves to Gristav and makes his way towards a building not far from the Three Billed Duck.

Gristav returns the wave, and returns to the Duck, hoping to find his misplaced gambler's broadsheet...

:-)


Braddon Hurst wrote:
Braddon waves to Gristav and makes his way towards a building not far from the Three Billed Duck.

Is that 6 or 23?

Gristav strolls through the streets to the Three-Billed Duck. It's well after the lunch hour, and the outdoor dining area is deserted, unsurprisingly on such a hot day.


Male Gnome
Gold Goblin wrote:

It occurs to Piccolo that he didn't count how many cross-corridors he passed on his way to the concession stand....

However, he retraces his steps unerringly.

Piccolo Taphodarian wrote:
Piccolo takes the ale and nuts back to their box. He hands them to Will, "Will, here are your glazed nuts and a bit of ale. Once the victuals are transferred, "I'm going to place a few bets once the windows open. Do you happen to have any information that might weight the odds in my favor?"

The artist is squinting through the bars at the arena sand. At Piccolo's entrance, he starts and turns around, peering at the younger gnome as if he doesn't remember him. "Eh? Set that down on the other stool there. Gambling's a fool's game. There's not a man or beast that won't die if he's crushed or cut open or run through in just the right way, and they keep putting themselves out there on that sand week after week, someone'll find the right way, by sheer dumb luck if nothing else." He grunts dismissively and turns back to his charcoal and parchment. "Still and all, the man who puts his money on a gladiator is less a fool than the gladiator himself. Better to lose your purse than your life. My son, now, he wants to fight on the sand. Gets it from his mother. She was a feather-brained simpleton. At least if she's the one I'm thinking of."


Male Gnome Bard (Negotiator) 2

"An artist's son that wants to be a gladiator. Wouldn't that make for an engaging tale. Perhaps you'll have to introduce me to your boy, Will." Piccolo stands, "Well Will, I think I will take a walk to the windows. Check the odds. Place some wagers. Give you some peace and quiet, so you can paint. See you in a while."

Piccolo exits the room. He'll take his time traversing the left corridor peering down halls and into rooms.

Perception1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21

Williplunnet Swevenforey wrote:

The artist is squinting through the bars at the arena sand. At Piccolo's entrance, he starts and turns around, peering at the younger gnome as if he doesn't remember him. "Eh? Set that down on the other stool there. Gambling's a fool's game. There's not a man or beast that won't die if he's crushed or cut open or run through in just the right way, and they keep putting themselves out there on that sand week after week, someone'll find the right way, by sheer dumb luck if nothing else." He grunts dismissively and turns back to his charcoal and parchment. "Still and all, the man who puts his money on a gladiator is less a fool than the gladiator himself. Better to lose your purse than your life. My son, now, he wants to fight on the sand. Gets it from his mother. She was a feather-brained simpleton. At least if she's the one I'm thinking of."


M 1/2E Magus 2 :2223a1: BAB1 CMB/D:3/15 AC/T/Ff:16/12/14 Init2 Perc1 HP13/19 FRW522 Appraise7 K:Arc7 K:Lcl7 Ride6 Scft7 UMD8 Diplomacy 5 Intim 5 Sense Motive 3 Perf:Dance 3

Unsure as ever, of what watches from the shadows, Gristav makes a show of looking about the tables of the dining area, where a stray paper might have blown. Frowning and empty-handed, save his stave's ubiquity, he puts on a smile and steps from the bright into the darker interior, looking about.


hp 22 / 22; AC 16; Init +2 Male Half-elf Ranger 2

(We'll start with 23 first :-)

Braddon winds his way through the streets, avoiding the main roads. It's not that he doesn't want to be seen. Just the opposite, in fact: he wants to see what's off the main roads. It may be useful one day.

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