Just a quick advance warning. I may be slow posting for the next week. I've got a youth theatre show in the final stages and will be extremely pushed for time.
Barel, Thom and Raya heading for the pub.
Lanthair, Arishat, Lynore to see Chloris.
Very few enquiries are needed to find the required destinations, and the groups set off on their various missions.
The Tangled Squid proves to be a clean, even chic establishment, bucking the trend for sawdust floors and squalor. A few small tables stand outside, but they are unoccupied except for the inconguous bouncers. Doing their best to look like arcane patrons, they fail miserably, but they are a good deterrant to violence.
The Glimpse is all you would expect from a fortune teller's establishment. Chloris evidently believes in the power of advertising. Prominently displayed in the window is a poster listing her notable successes.
Barel thanks Teech for the rum and heads off, ready for being in a tavern for the first time in what seems like ages. He eyes the bouncers doubiously, but nods cordially to them as he enters the tavern. He looks over the bar area, finds a nice table, nods to Thom and Raya to come on over, and finally pulls out a seat for Raya (and lets Thom fend for his own chair).
Thom pulls out a chair and sits down, giving Barel a sour look. Once the waitress has stopped by the table, he orders a martini on the rocks with a twist of lemon. As the waitress moves away, he scans the other bar patrons looking for other arcane casters. Once he has noted all of the practitioners, he motions slightly making an odd hand gesture.
Thom is trying to contact one of the members of the Arcane Sentinels who he believes is in Freeport.
Barel grins at Thom and quietly says, "Next time I will pull out a chair for you too, dear one." But when the waitress stops by, Barel decides to be adventurous and asks the waitress to bring a fun rum drink of her choosing.
Upon her return, Barel buys the first round for all three and gives Thom an appreciative tip of the glass. "You both had my back in that forsaken tomb, and this is but a token thanks for that."
Thom returns the salute and smiles, "Hey I know the drill here Barel. Every wizard needs a strong arm guarding his back as well. Needless to say without your stalwart arm, I would not be here enjoying a drink with you!"
Arishat pushes the door open and notes that Chloris's advertising extends to the stuffed alligator school of decor. Predictably, the fortune teller appears to be in mid-trance, but she opens her eyes slowly as the door jingles.
"What fortune do you seek?"
The staff of the Squid favour an abbreviated form of the standard wizardly robe. Bringing three parasol adorned drinks, the server places them on the table with a wide smile.
"Three Magic Missiles. Enjoy them!"
Her staff badge proclaims her to be Hydrangea and invites you to ask about Happy Hour specials. She notes Thom's gesture, nods and goes to the bar where she speaks briefly to the manager. Some kind of signal is passed, although only Thom would be aware of the significance.
Halfway through your Magic Missiles, a patron wanders up to the table, seemingly by chance and claps Thom on the back.
"Cousin! Do you remember me? It's Alberich! The last time we met you were ten and you set fire to the pinata. What brings you to Freeport?"
The speaker is a flamboyantly dressed mage with an owl on his shoulder.
Alberich has given the correct sequence of words identifying him as an Arcane Sentinel.
Thom rises to his feet and greets his fellow mage with a hug and a hearty handshake. "Al! So glad to see you again! It has been too long, cousin! As for that pinata...let's just say I wasn't the only one who was a tad wild at that party!"
Thom is passing a message requesting a meeting in secret and as quickly as possible with the high level mages in Freeport. Report and request for assistance forthcoming, he he.
Thom smiles at Alberich. "Well, Barel is much more than a common bodyguard. As for Raya...aye she is a gorgeous lad--...err yeah. Everyone can see he is starting to blush furiously.
He sits back down and takes the Magic Missile drink, downing it in one swallow. [b]"Wow, I have forgotten how potent these missiles are!" Once the blush has subsided, he turns to Raya and Barel, and says quietly [smaller]"I need to talk to my associates. You may join me if you wish, but I do not require you to accompany me. Raya, Barel, I trust both of you, but Ruinblade...well not so much."
"Yes, there were those who thought father married beneath him. Not that there are many houses our equal, of course." Arishat smirks. "We find a need to travel to Sigil, and you are reputed to have contacts their. Their names, a means to contact them, a way to travel to Sigil... those things we can negotiate a price for, depending on how much of this you can satisfy. Your discretion is not negotiable, but will be compensated for."
"Sigil. Of course. I have ways to get you to Sigil, contacts in the city and the means to reach them. All that I ask in return is a small favour. I require ingredients. The shipment is held up by officaldom. A tiefling of your lustre can surely remove this small impediment."
Barel eyes the sword distrustfully, but then seems to make up his mind. "Raya, I will travel with Thom. I don't like talking swords, but I have come to trust you. If Thom would relent, I would love for you to travel with us, but it is his choice.
"Thom, I will come be your bodyguard in this side quest. I believe you do Raya a disservice, but your choice is your own."
With that, Barel looks Alberich fully in the eyes and holds his gaze for a moment longer than is comfortable...and then steps behind Thom. In a clear but quiet voice (so Alberich can hear), "My standard fees apply." He then glowers at Thom and Alberich before turning and giving a sly lopsided grin at Raya.
Thom returns the dwarf's grin. "Very well, I was hoping you would say that. As for the fee...you can charge my account, he he." He stares longingly at the other drinks, "Unfortunately, our meeting is in a few minutes. Our drinks will have to wait."
Once 10 minutes have gone by, Thom leaves the Squid and heads outside to follow the instructions given to him earlier.
Venturing into the street, Thom follows his instructions and walks confidently down a series of streets with Barel in tow. If either of them are paying close attention, they will likely notice that the journey is less complex than it seems. In effect, they are simply entering the Wizard's Guild through an obscure back door.
Alberich greets the pair and takes them into a broom cupboard.
"Not the grandest of settings, but a safe one." He is noticeably more serious in demeanour now.
The owl flies through the door and Alberich locks it. With a woosh of air, the owl transforms into a lean, elderly woman who makes a familiar sign at Thom.
Left to herself, Raya is forced to listen to a minor tirade from Ruinblade. "How will we know their plans? You are not furthering my cause by abstaining from this meeting."
"Oh but I am, assuredly. Wizard guilds are notoriously secretive and aloof. I would rather gamble that those who swore to hunt down the demi-lich will return with full assistance, than to bring security issues into their midst. Not to mention that you'd probably have several probing, inquisitive minds looking you over. I'd rather have your capabilities kept secret, than to tip off anyone who may be an agent of evil."
Thom nods respectfully, "And to you as well. Nice digs by the way. You know I would not call for an urgent meeting if I did not feel the situation was grave." He proceeds to outline briefly what he and his party has discovered about Acerack and his plans for the various planes. "Now we want to take the fight to him, but we do not know where he is lairing now. We suspect there is someone in Sigil who does know more. We need access to a portal to Sigil, and also any information you have about Acerack."
The elderly mage listens intently as Thom makes his report.
"We will research Acererak's activities and inform you. This is black news indeed. For the portal to Sigil, you should speak to the tiefling Chloris. We have cooperated in the past and at this time we owe her a favour. Do not antagonise her if you can avoid it."
It seems like dismissal, but Owl pauses for a moment.
"If we may help you with any components or rituals you feel would be helpful, please speak."
In public it may be as well to communicate telepathically.
Ruinblade's pompous tones reverberate through Raya's head.
I will trust your judgement in this City of the Sinful, but remain alert. Do not be swayed away from your true purpose.
Squid Sorry, I was using italics to represent telepathy!
I will not. However it appears I have some time to kill, before they return...I think I'll see if I can help find that otyugh.
As she stands, Raya suddenly laughs, "I just got stuck with the tab. She pays for the drinks, and a little extra to forward a message that if the two come looking for her, that she'll be back at the temple. She then starts her small investigation of the missing otyugh, back at that refuse pile.
I guessed as much as was simply making Ruinblade follow suit as its been grumbling out loud so far.
Raya gathers her belongings and discovers that Alberich has paid the bar tab. Heading back to the alley where the party landed, she finds the rubbish still at the back of the inn and the cook looking even more disgruntled than when she last saw him.
He nods in recognition as she arrives. "You're back. Did you find the temple?"
The tiefling curls her tail over her arm and strokes the tip.
"My supplies are being held on Cloudrunner. She's docked at the north end with the other isolated ships."
The cook introduces himself. "Look, miss, I don't own an otyugh. This is a kitchen and they're not hygenic. I hire it from GarbageBeGone. They've got proper handling equipment. Now, they didn't show today and I'm rushed with a dwarf wedding. If you care to go and find out what's happened, I'll be grateful, but I can't pay well."
Streetwise to find GarbageBeGone if you want to pursue the mystery of the missing otyugh.
"Oh how I've missed the more...urban issues of life."
She looks over the place, especially windows, before confirming the crowd's issues. Raya pokes her head in a window, then knocks on their door, calling out. "Hello? Looks like you have a bit of an issue here, maybe I can help?"
Thom accepts the rituals and gives Owl a nod of thanks. "Thanks for your assistance, Owl. Once we have defeated Acerack, we will come back here and give you a full report. I am looking forward to having a few more of those Missiles..."
He turns to Barel, "Guess it's time to check up on Raya. Hope she is not passed out, he he. We have work to do."
"I don't know where they are either and before you say anything, no, I have no spare otyughs or handlers. All my staff are already at work on the backlog and I will add your issue to the list."
He looks about to cry.
"Should never have taken that booking."
Thom and Barel
Going where now?
"You are looking for a lead-sealed crate. It will be clearly addressed to me. It contains supplies for the Wizard's Guild and they are somewhat time senstitive. All I need you to do is remove the crate and bring it to me without involving the customs officials. Surely this simple task is within your capabilities?"