"Now that would depend on what you want to know, and why the Mithril Rose is poking their nose in other peoples business.", he says in a quiet voice, his look remains cold and unfriendly. The man gestures into the back room area. "How about if we talk about that in private. Wouldn't want someone to over hear something and go blabbing about it. That could prove to be bad for their health."
The other patrons in the tavern seem intent on not being a part of this exchange.
After entering the back room, not waiting for Raut to speak, "No doubt, you have heard of Damien's demise. And we know he's been working with your ilk. Do you know why he was killed? And who was involved?"
Alan's companion slumps in his seat across from Alan, who is now beginning to stir from his magical slumber.
Inside the back room is an older misshapen man sitting in the only chair in the room. His arms are large and the left is longer than the right, his back has a hump leaving his shoulders in a permanent hunch. The room has a slight sour odor to it.
The blonde headed man follows in behind you and leans against the north wall. He draws a dagger and begins methodically scraping it across a sharpening stone.
Ignoring Alma's questions the hunchback asks, [b]"Why don't you first tell me Mithril Rose is interested in this particular murder? Once you've answered that then we can see if we can reach an agreement where I might answer your questions."
Neither the blonde headed man or the hunchback detect as evil. The hunchback is clearly driven by avarice. It is unlikely he actually cares if the Mithril Rose has any interest in this murder or not, but trading of information is his business and he expects to gain something worth knowing from this conversation in addition to lining his pockets with a bit more gold.
The blonde man stops sharpening his blade and stands up straight as the tension in the small room rises.
The hunchback is visibly unsettled in the face of Alma's forceful demand. With compelled humility, "Word is that someone is looking to hire an assassin. I don't know who that someone might be, or who they might have as a target. It is clear though that they are trying to keep as much of that information under wraps as possible."
The blonde man leans against the wall again, but does not pull his sharpening stone back out. His hands trembling slightly, he fiddles with his dagger, picking at the dirt underneath his fingernails.
The hunchback answers with a bit of a snicker, "Damien was an information broker, though not a very good one. Without more information about a potential target for assassination I can only speculate as to why Damien would have been killed. Either he did not provide them the information they wanted, or he provided the information they wanted but they did not want him around as a future witness. Whoever has been asking around is both dangerous and careless. And bad sign for whomever they talk to next."
The hunchback begins laughing, which quickly becomes more of a choking and coughing. "Sure, Damien can tell you who. If you were looking for a professional to do your dirty work though you'd want to talk to Carise."
"She moves around a lot, so finding her somewhere can prove difficult. Only way to get a hold of her is to leave a message with... a friend of hers. A little street rat that hangs out in the side alleys along merchant road. Goes by the name of Danny. Let him know where to find you and Carise will send him to let you know when and where to meet her."
The hunchback seems relieved as you exit the back room, while the blonde man returns to lounging against the wall ignoring Alma's glare.
It doesn't take long to reach the merchants road. The area is really more of a large area free of permanent buildings, about a mile long and quarter of a mile wide running north to south. Numerous colored pavilions decorate the area with merchants hawking wares of all kinds from food to magical trinkets and potions, exotic carvings, clothing both plain and fine. The streets are crowded with the press of people, old and young, and of many races. To both the east and west permanent structures line the merchants road, mostly shops and a few taverns.
As you stand around wondering how to find Danny a nearby ruckus catches your attention. A merchant with a push cart filled with baked bread has grabbed the wrist of a small scrawny boy, perhaps 6 years old, a small loaf of bread in his hand. Face screwed up in anger the merchant cries "Not today little thief."
Irina and Warren:
While this is going on you see Lih a little ways off watching the group, she is not making any effort to remain hidden.
You'd have to push over some tables with assorted goods on them and probably knock a few people of the way to go through the colored pavilions. Nothing time critical at the moment though that you'd need to resort to that.
Looking at Alma with an expression of 'isn't it obvious', "I caught this little rat trying to pilfer some of my goods." He prys the loaf of bread from the waif's hand and places it back on his cart. "Almost every day one of his kind think they can just walk away with another mans living. But not today, I caught this one this time, and it's going to be off to the orphanage with him."
Having followed Alma, Warren speaks up. "I have had dealings with thieves before, and their ilk are a detriment to society. Tell you what, I'm in a good mood today and I have some time to kill--If you want I can take him to the orphanage for you; that way you don't need to worry about leaving your goods to other scoundrels and I have to opportunity to help rid the city of another rat."
Diplomacy:1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11
Assuming the man lets me take the kid, I will also buy some of his bread.
Not knowing whether to respond. He pauses for a moment. "That seems a little odd. Perhaps it is just coincidence, that she be here observing us. Or is it she is seeing how we would react to this particular situation?"
Alma rubs his forehead. "Something doesn't feel right. But we have more pressing needs. We need to find this boy Danny."
The young boy takes a large bite from the loaf of bread and between chewing, "Sure mister, I can take you to Danny. Follow me." He leads you to one of the side streets coming off of the merchants road where several children of varying ages, 6 to perhaps 15, are playing some kind of game with sticks. "Danny, Danny, this man wants to talk to you" the boy calls out excitedly.
A thin but older boy, perhaps 12 or 13, looks up from the game. His clothes are worn and his face is dirty. In a manner and seriousness that suggests a maturity beyond his apparent years he asks, "You're looking for Carise aren't you?"
"Yes sir. Only time folks like you come to see me is to talk to Miss Carise." Danny looks around conspiratorially and speaks barely above a whisper, "I can arrange for you to meet her tonight if you like."
With a practiced hand Danny snatches the coin out of the air. "The Dwarven Spirit. Near the end of the second watch 11:30 at night. Miss Carise is a tall lady with a scar down her left cheek. She will be in the private dining room." With a smirk on his face, "Don't make her angry, or she will whip you." He gives you a mocking bow, "Can I do anything else for you my lords?" at which a few of the other boys watching laugh nervously.
Lih stands perhaps 50' away and is talking with a merchant.
While there, she will follow up on what she learned in the library, looking to find Clara,"a Mithral Rose I knew years ago, and wanted to meet again and catch up, should I ever find myself in Coran, which I obviously have."
With only a little effort Irina and Alma (not sure if Warren and Markov wanted to go with?) find the headquarters for the Mithril Rose. A medium sized structure of clean white stone is at the center of an immaculate lawn with neatly trimmed rose bushes lining the walk up to the main entrance.
Two initiates of the order stand guard at the entrance. Recognizing the symbol on Alma's armor they salute him smartly then open the doors for you to enter in.
The inside is also clean, with simple wooden floors and a mural of a paladin in shining armor on one wall. A long desk is at the other end of the entryway where an aged man sits. Several cushioned chairs line the walls to either side. There are doors to the left and right of the desk.
The man behind the desk gives a small nod to Alma and asks, "What I can assist you with today?"
"I thought you must be new here as I did not recognize you. If I could have your name and where you are reporting in from I will let the commander know you are here."
Turning to address Irina, "Clara Temore? Yes, she was inducted a full member of the order, hmm, 5 or so years ago. Young and full of life and zeal if I recall. I believe she'd headed west to work with our chapter in Erem for a time. I haven't seen her since." His forhead creases as he thinks for a moment, "Though... one of our local members was assisting the islanders a few months back after a large storm caused a lot of damage to the villages. I think he said he saw her there in one of the villages working with the people there to rebuild." He taps his chin with his fingers, "It was Kydus who said he'd seen her. I'm sorry I cannot be of more help than that with finding your friend." He gives you an apologetic smile.
Irina doesn't have to feign disappointment. "That's too bad. I had really hoped to find her in the city. Would I be able to speak with this Kydus, so I may ask after her health the last time she was seen?"
"Of course, I am Alma, I come from a city quite a long ways from here called Managara."
Leaning towards Irina, with almost childlike happiness, "Can you feel the love of the Gods? How can we not be inspired to do their will while standing on this holy ground. Its almost as if we should remove our shoes out of respect."
The old man rifles through a small stack of papers on his desk. "You've heard about the goblin attack on the main highway? The commander sent Kydus to assist the city guard. He may be at the front gate if they are still looking for those brave enough to run some scouting parties into the hillsides." He sighs deeply, "If only we had enough members here to scourge the creatures from the surrounding regions. It pains me that we have to trust to mercenaries at a time like this to insure we don't have a repeat of the goblin war."
Another man comes through one of the side doors, "Alma? The commander can meet with you for a few minutes now."
"Well, perhaps you might not have to, or at least, you could hire mercenaries with a Mithral Rose at the helm. Our group is currently unemployed, and I think we might have good cause to remove ourselves from this city in short order."
She gives Alma a knowing look before he heads off to report in.
"Well now, that would be up to the commander if he wishes to request Alma head out into the field, but a few more respected individuals would certainly be a welcome relief."
Commander Quaine is an older man, late 40's at least, but appears to be in good physical condition as one who continues to practice and train. His smile is friendly, "Alma is it? Very well. Where are you traveling from and is Coran your destination? Do you plan to take up residence here for a time under my direction or do you have other orders at present?"