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Ryan laughes heartily later as the other fill him in on what was said, ending Mirna's comment about Kikinnin's bathing habits. "Hey Maxim took a bath, granted it was in a fight with the dragon. You have to fit them in when you can."
Entering Ghelve's Locks, Ryan is somewhat surprised to find out the locksmith is gone and takes a moment to make sure nothing untoward appears to have happened. perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
So far if everything appears well
"Where to?, for one, I might need to try out those hot baths JJ has been talking about. Before reporting to the church. Gotta feeling I will be tied up there for a while. "
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For his Mor's manner, Kikinnin finds himself obeying orders quickly enough, as it suits his desire as well to be free of his family's armor. He retreats to his old room in the Rouradont wing, where he finds a place to set down his equipment, and Axe. Before long, he's stripped of his shell, and reclothed in an overcloth, so he could walk the halls of Malachite in decency.
He fetches a basin, fills it with water, then treks to the forge, where he bides his time as the water is heated to boiling. He takes several trips, until he has a bath deep enough to submerge most of his skin. Between brush and blade, Kikinnin scrapes off what he can, soaps up where required, and shaves to groom his beard around its base.
Then he sits. He lets his skin turn red, as the heat of forge-fired bathwater does its work, easing muscles and opening pores. Except his hands. The scales on the back of both hands doesn't respond to the heat, no matter how long the soak. Time gets away from him, and he ends up pruned in most places, his skin returned to its normal ruddy color.
As they ascend to Cauldron, Kikinnin takes a moment to address JJ. "What you said before, JJ... I've been thinking about it, and you likely had your finger on the circumstance. It wouldn't have been right, trying to claim leadership, only to run off on a personal crusade. I couldn't do to Malachite what Zenith did. Wouldn't be right." The black beard certainly doesn't mask his consternation over the situation, but he says little else on the matter, for the direction they're headed.
""Where to? For one, I might need to try out those hot baths JJ has been talking about. Before reporting to the church. Got a feeling I will be tied up there for a while."
Kikinnin nods. "A bath would do you all some good. A visit with Jenya seems reasonable. We want to check in at the Orphanage, and examine Terrem, I'd assume. Then locate Celeste, and let her know what came of our journey..."
"I'm going to see Terram." announces JJ.
"Maybe one of you who can use the wand could come with me?" he then adds.
Looking up into the night sky he thinks. "Of course maybe that could wait for tomorrow. A bath and my own bed would be best."
Without really thinking about it he heads back to his own place, forgetting that Sara and Tessa and living there now.
"I'm going to look for Shensen!"
"This will be the best part of coming home!" Juraan thinks happily...
When you come back to your family's alley, you do find your mother has prepared Pocca's body. With a sober and private but heartfelt ceremony you say goodbye to whom was the guardian of the Malachite in his most dire times. A tingle in your axe tells you he will be the guardian past his own life.
After a search at Ghelve's Lock you conclude Keygan should be in some errands or trip. Besides, it calls your attention the house is considerably changed. The arrays of locks completely well ordered and new production being complete. His rooms are also somehow different arranged, but it seems better to you now.
By when you move into Lava Avenue the first rays of Sun are already filtering through Cauldron buildings. You all walk towards Orak's Bathhouse looking with different eyes at the brightness of your city.
After some hundreds of yards a peculiar man with a high hat and a red tabard strongly calls your attention as he approaches to you. When he is at your height the man calls you to stop your march "Hail ye adventurers!" he opens a scroll with a long list of names and other notes on it "Your names." he checks in the list while he adds "Adventurer's tax. By decree of the Lord Mayor Severen Navalant, each of you is to be charged with a tax of 50 gold pieces, to collaborate in maintaining the shape and health of the city infrastructure and services, for the higher glory of our beloved Cauldron" the man opens then a bag and looks at you expecting the immediate payment of the tax.
Marigold stares blearily at the red-hatted man; she was more than ready for a bath and at least a brief stop by her home and the Bluecrater Academy to check up on things before going to see Terrem and then meet with Celeste. So many things and not enough time to do them...and now this?
"Wh-who the h-heck are y-you and wh-when d-did this t-tax start?" she asks, her manner and tone more blunt than usual. "We've b-been o-out of t-town for the p-past few w-weeks s-so you'll h-have to f-forgive us if we've m-missed any important a-announcements..."
And what's with the stupid-looking hat? she adds silently.
Kikinnin gives a look over the man, dressed as strange as he is. Detect Evil, at will
"Like the miss says, we're not privileged to any announcements, while we were about our business. Forgive us if we don't accept your word on its face. We're due to speak with the Church, and now you've given us reason to speak with Severen, as we've never really gone about the business of becoming adventurers by license. Lord Vhalantru may have already covered our expenses, and I'd hate to have payed double for our ignorance. Surely there's an office we can report to?"
At the Malachite
Maxim greets Dolgrin's words with a stoic silence, barely marking the dwarf when he leaves.
When Hackbus announces he will stay in the Malachite, the gun-mage nods;
"Makes sense I reckon Ol' timer... Some company might make ye more civilised an' such...."
He smiles, and winks at the gnome;
"Jes' not too civilised eh? I'll be back soon enough t' check you ain't blown the Hold to hell an' back!"
At Ryan's jape he barks a laugh and relaxes somewhat.
He too eyes the locksmith's shoppe with interest and an arched eyebrow;
"Woman's touch I reckon..."
Back in the city, Maxim too readies himself to return to his Uncles when they are interrupted by the tax-collector.
The merchant scowls at the gaudily clad man;
"Taxes?! By decree o' the Mayor? That ass-hat..? He ain't lightenin' my purse lessen my friends here tell otherwise..."
The rather tired JJ is already reaching to his purse when Kikinnin points out the thing he had forgotten.
"And, with due respect, collecting large amounts of coin on the street sounds more like the Laugh than the mayor. Speaking of which, if even one of us paid that to you, you realise the thugs would be down on you in seconds. Also, how are we to prove that we have paid it should another tax collector come asking?" he asks, reasonably enough.
The man seems uncomfortable as he listens to you changing the weight of his body from one leg to the other "Tsk"
"The taxes raise was firstly announced during this year's Demonskar Ball and all the decrees have been hanged in the Mayor's Office public board for a month now. You cannot tell me you are not aware of the taxes now" he opens again the bag with a look of being losing his patience "As you have already acquired an adventuring license, you just have to make yourself to date with the new taxes"
The man looks angrily at JJ when he puts him into doubt. He points to his red tabard "You see the official Cauldron tax-collector uniform? I have been specifically contracted for this task by the Mayor. You will be immediately registered if you please to give me your names and I will provide you with an official receipt to check against the register"
He grins forcedly and opens the bag even wider.
"We have been out of town." explains JJ.
"However let us all repair to the mayor's office and examine the public board. There are a number of us, and I'm sure that volume of gold will make the walk worth your while." he adds pleasantly enough.
sense motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2 ... He's a totally honest bloke, he is!
"Seems to be on the up and up." He is a pompous ass, though." Juraan thinks, with a bit of a scowl.
"And anyway, we wouldn't want you to strain yourself carrying so much gold would you?"
"Wouldn't be safe in some parts of Cauldron!"
"My friend here is right; why not accompany us?"
"Just can't be too careful these days."
Juraan then snaps his fingers and looks apologetically at Mr.Toss-Pot Hat:
"Forgive me, I did take a few unfortunate knocks on the head in our absence."
"What was the mayor's name again?"
"Was it Seven Navals? Serene Nails? Or something else altogethr?
bluff: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13 ... That could've been a lot better.
Another mental note to Meerthan; with a bit of urgency this time:
[color=blue]"What happened while we were away?"
"The first person we meet is a stuffed shirt demanding an adventurer's tax."
"We haven't had a chance to sit down, even!"[/color]
Whether this guy is legit or not, Juraan is worried, because:
• If it is legit; This is bad. It flies in the face of Juraan's "let me do my own thing" credo.
• If it is not legit; way worse! And he's going to have a bit of a panic attack about Shensen, Meerthan, Fario and Fellian.
Juraan will also start worrying, for sure, if Meerthan doesn't respond quickly.
Or, if it turns out Severen Navalant is no longer mayor.
His mind on the hot bath he was intending to take, Ryan missed the beginning of the fool's speech. However as his brain kicks in he thinks back to the Demonskar Ball.
"There was talk of taxes at the ball, and talk of needing a license for adventuring. However there was not talk of a 50gp tax for an adventurer to walk into the town. Lord Valantru took care of our license before we left. You have more the look of a court fool than a town tax collector. Perhaps even a fool working for the Last Laugh."
sense motive: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (3) + 14 = 17
"If you ARE who you say you are then you will have no problem escorting us to Captain Skellerang, who should be more than happy to confirm your claims. Care to lead the way?"
diplomacy: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (3) + 11 = 14
<sigh> two 3's ?!?!?!
"You see the official Cauldron tax-collector uniform? I have been specifically contracted for this task by the Mayor. You will be immediately registered if you please to give me your names and I will provide you with an official receipt to check against the register."
Kikinnin snorts, rummaging through his belt pouch. It takes his gauntlets a moment, but the black beard eventually produces 5 platinum pieces, which he hands over without further argument. He waits for his receipt.
"I'm assuming this is an annual tax, then? I'd be quite cross if you came out of the black alley every month looking for your cut."
When he's procured his paperwork proving his payment, Kikinnin looks at the others, curious as to their individual decisions.
"Shall we meet up at the Orphanage?" The black beard debates a visit with Jenya to report their time away, as well as inquiring with the priestess about the new tax. Otherwise, Celeste, at the Cusp of Sunrise. First, Kikinnin takes his leave of the Taxman to visit the Temple of Wee Jas, and Gemma, where he speaks of their Far, and makes sure she's not kept in the dark about the goings on in Malachite. He speaks whether or not she's able to acknowledge his presence.
Marigold sighs and begins digging into her own money pouch. "It's n-not that we c-can't p-pay but it throws a p-person off to b-be accosted the m-moment they set f-foot back into t-town," she explains as she hands over what's expected of her. "S-So next time you m-might want to w-work on your a-p-proach, okay?"
"And y-yeah, m-meeting up at the Orphanage w-works for m-me," she nods to Kikinnin.
Subtracted 50gp from Marigold's funds.
The man looks judgmental at the party "Are you taking me for a nanny?" the man rolls back the scroll and picks up a piece of paper and starts noting on it "Ok, resistance to collect official adventurer's tax. Mocking up of Cauldron official. Well... well... something else you wish me to report?"
The man arch's an eyebrow at Kikinnin's payment "Oh, well, some sense of citizenship at last." the man collects the 5 platinum from the dwarf, storing them in his bag then picks up a paper from his red tabard and starts writing "Name is?..." when he is finished, he stamps in red a payment mark over it and hands it to Kikinnin, writing down his name in the first scroll.
With a forced smile the man replies to Marigold "Well, lady, you adventurer's folk are not known for having exactly a permanent housing, less than anything it has been found you are hardly ever locked at the city for a long time." he looks then at the shops around "It is hard job to pursuit people but it needs be done by someone." he then collects the money from Marigold and hands her the receipt and notes her in the scroll.
You heard Meerthans voice booming in your head Wha-what's that scandal? ... Good morning... Whoooaaa... What happened in the city? That's a broad question, what in particular are you...? Oh tax? You mean about the new taxes?
Juraan suddenly starts rubbing his temples with his fingers.
"Sorry, all. Headache."
Seeing the others starting to pay up, Juraan does likewise.
"I too want a receipt all official like."
After he gets his own receipt he'll also say his piece
"And like my friend here ... pointing to Marigold ... "says, work on your manner."
"We spent the last few weeks with all manner of nasties queuing up to kill us."
"So we're in no mood for fooling about when we haven't even had time to sit."
[color=blue]Sorry. We are a bit on edge.
The moment we step back into Cauldron, we're pestered about a new tax.
All is well in Cauldron otherwise? How is Shensen?[/color]
After paying the taxes
"Yes, Kikinnin, meeting at the orphanage will be fine", Juraan says
"I'm sure Gretchyn will want to know what kind of mischief I've been up to lately."
He then hurries off to try and find Shensen...
Maxim grimaces and also produces 50 gold suns from his pouch.
"Hell's Teeth. I got business to attend to. Ain't got time fer this peacock and his posturin'..."
The dwarf hands them to the tax collector;
"Maxim Snaphance. Paid in full... I'll be needin' a receipt fer that langshanks."
The gun-mage then heads toward his Uncle's place...
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JJ sighs, takes out as much of the payment in copper and silver as he can and waits patently for the tax collector to issue his receipt.
"W-well...I g-guess we'll all...or at least s-some of us...m-meet at the orphanage," Marigold remarks as the rest of the group decides to give in and pay the tax. "S-See you there s-soon, okay?"
With that, she waves to the others and sets out through the city streets, making her way back to her small home just long enough for a quick bath and a change of clothes. Then, she heads out to the Bluecrater Academy to check up on Losriel and Zinli.
I've been so busy lately that it's been hard to stop in and keep up with everyone...I hope they're not too angry at me...
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Sorry all, training and travel conspired to turn my brain to mush the past couple of days
Tired and in no mood to be pestered by the foolish, even if an actual tax collector, Ryan waits for the man to finish writing receipts to the others.
"I am a cleric of the Church of St Cuthbert and a member if the Taskerhill family, neither of those entities are difficult to locate within Cauldron." Ryan states flatly as the taxman answer's Marigold.
"I have not once stated I would not pay an actual tax, I simply stated you would accompany me to the local guard captain, whom I know and trust. At that time I would pay my tax. For a tax collector to be traipsing around town in the wee hours of the morning, GM, you stated the sun was just coming up, without any guards to protect you; that must be a terrifying thing."
"Imagine how the Last laugh must prey on you poor fellows. Especially since you wear these lovely red tabards, Almost like a bullseye, wouldn't you say professor; so easy to pickout in a crowd. In the interest of public safety for one of the town's public officials I must insist that you are guarded until we reach the purser, t'would be a shame for the 250gp, soon to be 300gp, you have just collected to be stolen before you get there."
"Come along my good man, times wasting.
Ryan's demeanor is clear he does not intend to be bucked on the tax man following him to the guard captain and from there to the purser.
I might've contributed to some confusion about this guy's credentials with Marigold's internal monologue about his stupid hat - it may very well be a normal hat but she was grumpy at being accosted the moment they stepped out into the sunlight!
I think anyone would be a bit put off by something like that!
No worries MG, my first thought was the Last Laugh or some such, especially due to the hat. If we'd been met at the gate or the dock while entering the town then it would have lent credibility to it, or a roaming taxman with guards, ok I could go with that. But we entered through the Ghelve's lock store. We were told last time we were running around town it wasn't safe and openly carrying our weapons was encouraged. So annoying guys carrying relatively large amounts of gold to the commoner would be a perfect target.
The man touches his top hat as he notes it is being observed. He fills up the receipts for the whole group, then listens at Ryan not very patiently "Ah, you adventure lot are a so free up timers. I have no time for nursing you. Your excuses will not allow you avoid the law. The Alleybashers have been dismissed and I would be surprised if the Last Laugh gets involved in pick pocketing specially an official tax collector" he grins and starts writing down something in his scroll "Ok, Taskerhill cleric of Abadar, resistance to tax payment... well well. I have plenty other taxes to collect, so, as it is, I guess you will understand I will not expend the rest of the day with you lot" the man makes a reverence with his hat, then walks away from the group.
As you resume your walk, the Sun in the sky has quickly risen and the streets are now fully bathed by its light. The noise in the houses indicate the city is getting busy. When you turn out to see, the tax collector is waiting in front of the door of a grocer. A woman opens the door and they start talking. The Lava Avenue starts to flock with activity. As you reach Orak's Bathhouse, the dwarf with the red ruby eye stands in the doorstep. He welcomes you and lets you have a bath by free for you helping him out of the vampire's control.
Embril Aloustinai is missing, and you are received by Ike Iverson in the Temple of Wee Jas. He accompanies you to Gemma "She is not recovering from comma despite all our prayers and unguents. It is difficult to say this but it is perhaps time to let Pharasma do her work and let Gemma slide away..."
Ike let you stay alone with your sister. She breaths calmly as you explain what has happened. You have the feeling she trembles as you talk about your father torture and the Malachite.
Jenya receives you in his office, she seems quite busy working with accounting books, trying to fit numbers and doing rebudgeting of some sorts. She listens carefully about your story "I am happy you make it back healthy and full Ryan. We have missed you around. What do you think we need to keep things safe now?"
Sara and Tessa are very pleased to see you at home. Sara jumps over your neck happy as ever "You are back! I was starting to fear for you. But you are just so brave and strong! Tell me about your adventures JJ!" Tessa invites you to table where a hot chicken soup awaits you all.
At the Bluecrater Academy Losriel and Zinli receive you enthusiastically. They both want to know about your adventures. When you reach your working spot though, the view is not that compelling. Your table is hidden under a totally mingled pile of books and paper reports. There is a lot of stuff accumulated, books to be ordered back in their shelves, professor orders to buy new books, new books arrived that require classification...
As you reach your uncle's warehouse Daxavalt and Kerg greet you and let you in. Adrick is busy with accounting books when you do it into his office.
Your uncle seems happy to see you and leaves his work to have a rum drink with you and update each other with the past weeks experiences. "Aye, this all thing about the taxes is growing quickly bitter. It is just pushing us to see smuggling our imports with yet better eyes"
Shensen is not difficult to find. She has improvised an altar to Desna in The Drowning Morkoth inn, just bellow Meerthan's chambers. You find her there meditating. She quickly notices you and approaches to greet you "Meerthan has let me know about your in and outs. We were a bit worried about you for some time" she takes your hand and lets you sit near the altar "But it will be awesome to hear of your adventure by yourself"
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JJ grins happily at Sara and Tessa. He returns Sara's affection warmly, and then the smell of the soup hit him. "Warm, homecooked food!" he gushes, sitting down at the table.
"I've been eating.. well.. it wasn't especially nice.." he starts.
Where to begin
"We all survived. Though it was close. Between being almost eaten by a massive worm the size of this building, fighting not one but two dragons, captured by slavers and facing frog-priests and fallen angels..."
He realises how fantastic that sounds as he says it.
"It has been quite a month. I didn't realise quite how much until I put it together in one sentence. And that didn't even mention the crazy king under the ground, the group of faeries we saved and an old mentor of Maxim that we helped back to Cauldron."
His face turns grave towards the end. "All that and more. The sadest part of it all, was that in the end it turned out to be for naught. We found the dwarf we came to save, but he too was crazy and attacked us..."
He pauses "But things have changed up here too. Tell me about everything that has gone on in the last month."
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Maxim wearily sits and sips. He is clearly tired and the expenditure of will that their quest required tells upon the younger dwarf's face.
Although he still summons the energy necessary to scorn Cauldron's higher echelons of power;
"God's damned high' an' mighty nobles... always lookin' to empty coffers that ain't their own..."
The gun-mage takes another deep sip and leans back before continuing;
"So we put down Zenith... He was insane; addled with religious fervour... The fish-folk took him to be a prophet o' doom... an' they fed his madness as he fed them visions spoken in tongues..."
Maxim grimaces, then continues telling of the dverger slavers, the red and black drakes, but omitting mention of Hackbus returning back with them or the discovery of the shared runic mark upon Marigold.
"Reckon we'll have to face the music with the old fart Davked an' Celeste... Likely on the morrow. How you want me to play things? With Zenith buried at our hands the old timer'll likely blow a gasket. How the mysterious Celeste'll take it will be interesting..."
The dwarf mulls things further, then sips some more.
"Damn I'm weary Uncle... Been our toughest sojourn from Cauldron yet. We've a bunch o' items recovered from the Darklands, but with your coffers stretched with taxes might be better to offer Skie a bite first?"
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That hat's no better we moved from the court jester to the Artful Dodger :), neither of whom I'd trust my gold too
Ryan shakes his head as the troublesome gent moves on, following some of the others to Oraks he gratefully accepts the offer of a free bath leaving 5 silvers with the man anyways. Once bathed and clothed once more he heads direct to the guardsman to speak with the Captain or at least Dondarion.
Assuming he is able to reach the captain...."Captain Skellerang, a moment of your time sir. We have been out of the town for a bit, and our return was met in the wee hours of the morning by a gent claiming to gathering taxes decreed by the Mayor in the middle of the street! What has happened in our absence. I have no issue paying taxes but this speaks more of larceny on a grand scale by a conman."
"If these taxes are being taken in the interest of Cauldron, how fares the guardsmen, they were over-worked and under-paid last I was aware. A sad state for any town with hopes of prospering."
Once he has finished with the Captain/Dondarion, and paid any taxes due Ryan heads for the Church to meet with Jenya.
Sighing as he spots Jenya trying to make ends meet in the balance book, Ryan fills her in on his morning's escapades, and the results of the trip to the guardsmen. Should it become something she needed to have knowledge of.
"What do we need to keep things safe now,....that's a good question. Perhaps, one I do not fully know the answer to as of yet. I do know that I need to speak with you of my training, I have been straddling a line trying to on one hand to protect all my companions while at the same time trying to match the martial prowess of some of those same companions. I need to concentrate on one or the other and I believe Abadar has shown me the proper path to follow, as we have followed our path through the Darklands. I need to continue to protect all of my companions and Cauldron itself with the graces that Abadar has given me daily, can you help me to focus my training."
Ryan takes a sip of water, poured from the decanter on the table in the tumbler he was holding.
"That not to say, he will not grace me with ways to stand tall on my own, but helping others has always been my call."
Parting Ways With the Tax Collector
Once the tax collector is out of ear-shot, Juraan will comment:
"Personally I think his hat looks like an overturned chamber pot."
"That would explain a lot. Just thought I'd mention it."
Then he's off to find Shensen...
"Meerthan has let me know about your in and outs. We were a bit worried about you for some time" she takes your hand and lets you sit near the altar
"But it will be awesome to hear of your adventure by yourself"
"It's a pleasure to be back, Shensen!"
"We did have a few close calls, but well came back home, hale and hearty!"
Juraan will tell her everything that occurred while they were in the Darklands.
He'll also elaborate on the party's dealings with Dhorlot.
And how he declined Dhorlot's offer to switch sides; without hesitation, of course.
"... and the strange thing is, I think Dhorlot is a ancestor ancestor of mine."
"Certainly Dhorlot seemed certain of it."
"That's probably why he let us be. Well, the first time, at least."
"Even stranger is that he feels the same about Kikinnin."
"It is worrying to have an ancestor like that!"
"Especially since he's still alive."
"We thought we killed him, but Kikinnin is convinced he's still alive."
"We saw him fall into the water, so he could've easily swam away from us."
... blah, blah, blah, etcetera, etcetera ...
"Wow! Where you not scared JJ?" Sara and Tessa look at you in astonishment while listening at your hardly believable adventures.
"Well here life has not been so much intense. We have been working a loot, cooking and serving plenty of meals. Oh yes! And we have been one day to the orchestra, it was so lovingly and I was dressed with that long white dress..." they talk for a while about the concert and other life moments "In the city... well, there is also this commotion about the new taxes. I find they are a bit too much for the people to pay. Sasserine is a much larger city and does not have this level of taxation"
"Amazing adventure nephew. Told you, this Zenith was always total craziness... All the good he did not make it back, or he would have made the Malachite into who knows ill adventure once again" Adrick seems quite cheered by the story and toasts with the rum "For a Malachite of high business!"
"Do not worry, I am sure I can push the coin, let me see what did you get there!"
You are received by Dondarion. It calls your attention the Barracks have been restyled. Holes have been covered, windows replaced and walls newly painted. There is a new arsenal of weapons in the warehouse, and it calls your attention some of the gnomes of the MTA placidly eating in a table. The guards around that greet you are all wearing new armors. Among the guards there are new half-orc recruits.
Dondarion receives you with a wide smile "Who are things going friend? Quite a time since we last met." he laughs as you explain your encounter with the tax collector "Ah, well, yes, they are not the most sympathetic of men, but well, you see, our guards have finally new companions to share the extra hours, we finally fixed all those problems in the barracks. Things will soon improve, we will root the evilness in the city for one and for all"
Jenya smiles wide at Ryan "Oh dear, that is sweet to hear from you. I was starting to think so much time expend with Aleck and adventuring will move you towards a soldier approach to Abadar. Yes, I will be happy to help you through the strength of faith required on that path." Jenya pads you in the shoulder "One day I would be recalled by Abadar, and the Church will need a proper successor. Let's start your training, you will read the texts for two hours a day, pray for two hours a day, then you will come to me and we will talk about what you have learnt"
Shensen seems happy to talk with you "It is part of our identity, of knowing who we are, to discover how our ancestors where so I do understand your curiosity about this Dragon. In fact that fits with the powers you have seen discovered in you inside."
She keeps nodding as you explain your adventures "You said about this strange hybrids the dragon was creating with the kuo-toas. They called him the dragon-father. I do know dragons have the ability to shape-shift, so, may it be that he changed into a human once and had a son with your mother and grandmother? Might have him changed to a dwarf and done the same with Kikinnin's ancestors?"
"We met the tax collector on our return.." nods JJ gravely. "They do seem high. But aside from moving to Sasserine I'm not sure what choices we have."
His face turns a little harder when the conversation returns to the darklands.
"Yes. Very much so. Several times I thought I might die. And being captured by slavers and put in chains.." a slight shudder runs through his young frame. "I think that was the worst. "
He listens with glee to the story of the opera. "If they come back, I hope I'll be able to attend with you. That sounds so much fun. I'm going to go and visit with my little brother this morning, but hope to come by this evening.. unless you have plans?"
Ryan nods as Jenya lays out the plan, cutting his eyes momentarily in surprise when she mentions the Church needing a proper successor. "Let's see if we can hold off on that move for a while." he says with a small smile.
Taking a moment to jot down the initial passages Jenya wanted him to study on, Ryan takes his leave. Stopping at the door. "I need to meet with the others at the orphanage, seems Terrem is tied up in all of this, more so than we first knew. Apparently there is a invisible mark that JJ first saw on Terrem that was also on Zenith, and our own Marigold. Perhaps you know of it. " Ryan will draw a copy of the mark that Juraan had shown in the Darklands.
"She is not recovering from coma, despite all our prayers and unguents. It is difficult to say this, but it is perhaps time to let Pharasma do her work and let Gemma slide away..."
Kikinnin sets his jaw, as the priest speaks of letting go. He says nothing in direct response, only wants to see his sister.
After speaking words softly at Gemma's bedside, Kikinnin looks for any sign of the girl's presence. When he senses the tremble, he stands and pats her forehead, before departing the bed chamber, and seeking out Ike. He has come to respect the Temple of Wee Jas for the work they've done personally to tend to his family, but the questions he has will be asked not only here, but in the halls of St. Cuthbert, as well.
"Now, priest, I have to ask you. I have recently returned the body of my dead Far, Father, to the halls of Malachite. That would be the dwarven fortress beneath Cauldron. My Mor, Mother, has had to endure this revelation, his death, you see. And now you're telling me that my Søster, Sister, should be returned to Malachite, and my Mother, in the same fashion? That ain't right, Ike. Now, I'm not blaming you and your folk here for failing to bring her back, but I'm asking you to help me return my Sister, my young Sister, back to the life she was promised. It will not end here, too soon. If you are not able to help me, I will seek out deeper power. If she is unshackled from this body, which has served as her prison, can she be brought back? She's too young to walk Pharasma's Boneyard, Ike. Too young."
"I just don't know how far back my ancestry goes to Dhorlot."
"It could have been many generations back. In human terms."
"Which just feels ... peculiar"
"Kikinnin could have a similar background to me in that regard."
"I don't know if I should ask him about it or not."
"He's a friend but also so, well, stodgy, really...
"Still, it does give me some peace of mind knowing more about my ancestry than before."
"Yes JJ, we will wait for you to have supper together" Sara smiles as you head back to the Orphanage.
K. religion: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26
Jenya negates with the head "I am sorry Ryan, it does not match with anything I have ever seen before"
Ike Iverson looks at you with surprise "You... you mean letting her die to rise her up in a different body? Tha-thats something we have never done before, but it should be expensive... require lot of luxury materials. And we do not know how she might be affected by the transition, are you sure you want to accept the risks?"
Shensen listens with interest "I think sharing your thoughts might help you two. It is just he is much more sensible than he would like to demonstrate. And probably this topic touches something even more hurting for him that he is able to accept"
Maxim nods thoughtfully and return's the toast;
"High business in low places eh Uncle!"
The gun-mage flashes a hard smile before continuing;
"I ain't got the fruits o' our adventures with me... Group's a mite weary an' we'll need to pick it o'er first. I'll come back with the items after our meet with Celeste and the old fart Davked..."
He takes another sip, savouring the liquor;
"Damn fine drop as always Uncle. Missed this down in the Deep... After the meet I'll come by and we can trade some, talk some and drink a little more!"
The dwur smiles, then feeling suddenly weary feels the shroud of sleep draw around him...
Out of curiousity DMR what weapon does Adrick favour? Maxim is thinking of making a gift to him when he next does some smithing.
Though quite happy to see her work friends again, Marigold is much less happy about the state of her work desk.
"Oh no...I c-can't b-believe I let things g-get this p-piled up," she groans as she takes it all in, unsure of where to even start. "Um...I'm s-supposed to m-meet the o-others again s-soon b-but I'll t-try and at least p-put a dent in this m-mess while I'm h-here. H-hopefully I'll b-be able to g-get back to the r-rest of it s-soon..."
With a sigh, the little halfling begins work on some of the smaller, easier tasks such as shelving books and filing papers. As she does, she tries to update Zinli and Losriel on everything that's happened since she was in last, though she isn't sure how much of it they'll actually believe.
"And th-then, the d-dragon c-came sw-swooping down on us..."
Profession: Librarian: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
The Profession check is more to represent her trying to make some headway in the pile of work, not a sustained effort at earning some coin.
With a smile, a wave, and a full stomach, JJ heads off down the road, feeling more cheerful than he has in a month.
Maybe it is the sun shining on his face, maybe fresh clothes and a clean bath. Maybe just seeing the smiling Sara. Whatever he has a skip to his step and enjoys the breeze in his hair.
All too soon he stands outside his own home. The Lantern St Orphanage. He pauses before knocking, and then heads down to a street vendor to stock up on some wholesome treats for everyone. Then, returning laden down with good food, he knocks on the door.
"He's also pretty set in his ways too."
"Always a bit hard broaching some subjects without him getting tetchy."
"Well, not unless there's copious amounts of liquor..."
"Then again, we might have something in common to benefit us both."
"As well as Cauldron."
"You... you mean letting her die to rise her up in a different body? Tha-thats something we have never done before, but it should be expensive... require lot of luxury materials. And we do not know how she might be affected by the transition, are you sure you want to accept the risks?"
Kikinnin shakes his head. "I don't know all of what you priests can do, but I've heard that folks who pass on, and want to return, can be ushered back. If you think it too difficult, I'll not burden you any longer with her care. If she's truly beyond any healing, both worldly and divine, then I'll not let her pass away here, so far from her home."
Kikinnin will hear out Ike out of respect, but no matter what the priest's answer, the black beard bundles up his sister, and bears her from the Temple of Wee Jas, his first destination being Jenya, and his own Church.
When he can gain an audience, he asks Jenya the same questions, regarding those who die from natural causes, and are brought back to life through divine intervention. Kikinnin doesn't know the difference between Raise Dead, Resurrection, Breath of Life...
If Jenya indicates that she can bring Gemma back to herself and her own life, Kikinnin will begin gathering the money required to do so.
Ryan nods as Jenya states she is unaware of the symbol that he presented, aware that it had been a long shot to begin with. "Thank you, perhaps I can search the histories in the evening after my studies, I must meet the others at the orphanage to check on Terrem."
Should Ryan see Kikkinin before he leave the church grounds he will inquire about Gemma; taking time to check her as Kikinnin perhaps tells what Ike has been able to find. heal check @ 32 (take 20, if allowed)
Ryan moves through the streets to meet JJ at the Orphanage, finding JJ on the return back to the orphanage from his foraging trip. "I believe you just might have something for everyone in there" He calls out with a smile.
Thanks to your great skill you quickly prepare a good planning for working out the pending tasks. It still will take you a couple weeks of hard work in order to complete the things.
Ike Iverson advises you against moving Gemma in her state but ultimately let you do as you wish.
Please, confirm if you move her to St. Cuthbert
As for Jenya, she notes whatever is affecting your sister might still be affecting her once she is brought back to life, and thus, it might not work out as a solution.
Ryan checks Gemma as well. She seems in some kind of a comma state. It might be she wakes up at any moment, or it might be she never wakes up again.
One day after your return to Cauldron, you join up at the Lantern Street Orphanage. Patch opens the entrance door and receives you. After checking with Gretchyn Tashykk, you are granted to visit Terrem.
Once Juraan uses see invisibility he is able to clearly see the mark both on Terrem and Marigold's forefront.
"Hi Terram!" grins JJ to his little brother, after making sure Gretchyn has all the stores of food he could carry.
"What's been happening in Cauldron while we were gone?" he gets out through a mouthful of food, making sure Terram has some in his hand as well.
"I had some pretty awful dreams while I was away. " he mentions, hopefully leading the boy to talk about his own.
Ryan joins Gretchyn as she feeds the others, keeping watch as JJ and Terram talk.
Sense motive: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (13) + 13 = 26 Gm, Ryan is just watching to see if Terram is holding back in his answers even if subconciously
Talking out of earshot of Terram and JJ, Juraan will pass on what he's seen to the rest of the party:
"Curious. Terram and Marigold both have the same mark on their foreheads."
"Same as Zenith had as well."
"Of course, I can't tell when any of them got the mark."
"Marigold has no memory of when or how she could've gotten hers."
He'll then approach Terram and introduce himself.
"Hi, Terram. I'm Juraan. I used to live here with my sister Essodydd. I'm sure you've heard of us."
"Gretchyn and JJ here can tell you that we are truly ... unforgettable",
"No matter how hard they to forget us, I'm sure." thinks to himself with a silent chuckle,
"I'm sure Gretchyn is taking very good care of you."
"Anyway, we do have a poser that you might be able to help us with."
"Have you ever seen this strange mark before?",
Juraan will then show Terram a drawing of the puzzling mark.
diplomacy: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16 ... if needed
Terrem observes a bit daunted at the group. He tries to answer JJ "I... I know Gretchyn scolded Patch for letting us play out in the street alone. And... and also it stopped raining..."
The boy turns then to Juraan and looks at the mark he is showing him. He shrugs then adds "No idea. Is an eye you pierced down with the arrow? Do you have arrows? Do you want us to play 'pierce the eye'? How is it played?"
Terrem seems truthful about not knowing the mark. He gets excited while he talks about piercing eyes.
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"It's not from a game, no, Terram."
"I just thought you might have seen it before."
"I do have arrows, but I can't bring them in here; Gretchyn would scold me something fierce."
"I'd rather wrestle an orc than have Gretchyn scold me!" Juraan concludes with a mischievous wink at Terram.
"But maybe, if Gretchyn will allow it, I can take you to practice with a bow."
"And if you could remember anything else about what happened before my friends rescued you, that would be very helpful indeed."
"Even if it doesn't seem important to you, it could help us."
Not wanting to crowd Terrem too much, Marigold hangs back a little to speak with Patch.
"S-so things have b-been well, P-Patch?" she asks quietly. "N-Nothing st-strange from T-Terrem or any of the other ch-children?"
Kikinnin does take a care to remove Gemma from Wee Jas, and move her directly to St. Cuthbert.
Kikinnin listens to both Jenya and Ryan, taking their impressions, and folding them into Ike's as well. For the notion that Gemma might return to her former self, even if the chance is slight, Kikinnin clamps onto the hope like a a pit dog sinks its jaws into the neck of a bull.
"Jenya. Ryan. I want to ask Abadar directly, whether to let Gemma pass into Pharasma's Boneyard, or to keep her in hospice, until she can muster the strength to return to us."
The ratcatcher is asking for someone to facilitate a question and answer with Abadar, the ultimate voice in this decision.
If he is provided an Augury or Divination, he simply asks if returning Gemma to Malachite will be a good thing.
If he is provided a Commune, he mixes questions about Gemma with questions about Marigold and Terrem, and the invisible mark upon their foreheads.
Money is no concern.
"Should Gemma be moved from Cauldron to Malachite?"
"Is there healing powerful enough to bring Gemma back on my own?"
"Should Gemma be allowed to pass away from this Life?"
"Is Marigold in trouble, for the mark on her forehead?"
"Does someone want Terrem in the same way someone wanted Zenith?"
"Do the Cauldron Watchers already know our enemy personally?"
"Can we protect Marigold and Terrem successfully?"
"Will Zenith remain buried?"
"Is Malachite safe now?"
If Kikinnin is given the all-clear to return Gemma to Malachite, he does so. If Kikinnin is told to let Gemma go, he does so in Cauldron, then prepares Gemma's body before returning to Malachite, and delivering her body to Mirna. If Kikinnin is instructed to leave Gemma in Cauldron to preserve her coma state, he defer to the wisdom of Abadar, and carefully returns her to Wee Jas.
I'm presuming Kikinnin is absent from the conversation at the Orphanage all together.