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Wardove's Rumble in the Jungle

Game Master Laithoron

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Sarah sits down and smiles. "I should very much like to read it, thanks. Don't be in too much of a hurry getting killed. If I like what I read, I'll be mad if it remains an unfinished work. And given the amount of time I'm taking getting you back to health... I'll be very upset if you undo all my work by rudely getting dead!"

She sits quietly for a moment, watching the aspiring author. "Of course, it's none of my business but is there some reason you think you're going to die soon? If this boat is going to sink, I wouldn't mind a little warning so I can get my effects into the dinghy."

Ellie strolls out on deck, studiously avoiding the leers of most, if not all the male sailor crew. She gives them all smiles, and even a few winks, knowing they enjoyed the show the previous evening. She is dressed in a light blue dress and sandals, and her hair is tied back in a pony tail. Even though her extraplanar blood protected her from the extreme temperatures, she still wanted to maintain her disguise. Plus it was more comfortable this way.

Looking up at the sky, she is pleased to feel her nausea easing off. Maybe she was getting used to the ocean. Then the ship starts rocking and swaying to the wave motions, and she thinks, Maybe, I spoke too soon.

To distract her from that not so pleasant thought, she decides to look for Sasha, and see how she is doing.

Aerys manages a laugh. "No, nothing like that. It's just dangerous work, sailing, but I have no intention of quitting. I'll captain my own ship if I have to claw my way back from the abyss!"

"Thing is," she sets her quill down, "when you've got a pair of knockers instead of a set of jewels, no one takes you seriously."

You do realize (like Gerrold did immediately upon seeing her), that Aerys is a very beautiful woman in spite of the surly facade she puts on.

She continues, "I don't care if it's a naval vessel, a merchant ship like this, or a corsair. Someday, I'm going to have my own ship and teach all these pig men that a woman can lead a crew just as well as any of them can. Better even!"

Sarah looks at her levelly, "Well, if you are expecting me to tell you you're wrong and men aren't like that... look elsewhere, young lady. A sizable rack can get you a lot of things - but not respect and not a position of command. As a woman, you have to fight harder to earn everything - except a place in some fool's bed." She sighs. "Well, for better or worse, those days are behind me."

"If you don't mind a little older sisterly advice... I think you've got enough fire in you to make those dreams happen anywhere in the world - but why fight the current when you can use it to your advantage? There are places in the world where women get a fairer chance at leadership from what I hear. Ilmarond's got a fair number of women in positions of real power... governors, generals, and whatnot. I wouldn't be surprised if they had women sea captains as well. Maybe you should sail that way when you get a chance."

FWIW - I've swapped out Priyya's spells to include Zone of Truth and Owl's Wisdom for when Alis wants to question any folks. My plan is to cast Owl's Wisdom first to jack up the DC on Zone of Truth. :p

As Lureene wanders around the ship looking for Sasha, she feels a growing sense of unease as if she were being watched. At last, she feels something hard pressed up against her kidneys and a hot breath whispering in her ear, "Your back is wide open!"

Fighting down a rising sense of panick, she turns her head slowly to see the much taller red-head giving her a big silly smile. Sasha holds up a belaying pin that somehow found its way into her hands and she winks. "Of course, I bet you're used to getting pierced by something about twice this size now aren't you?"

She then gives a crazy laugh and tosses it to Ishirou who is glaring daggers at her for messing with his lines. As the short, angry sailor snatches it from the air and hustles to secure the loose line, Sasha puts her arm around Ellie's shoulders and says, "That's just payback for sicking the gnome on me last night. He just has no appreciation for a more limber figure! Gosh would you quit shaking, you act like you've been hounded by assassins or something, I'm not going to kill you! Not that killing isn't fun and all, but I don't have a lot of friends you see. So, I figure it's better just to kill them instead, ya know, people who aren't my friends I mean?"

You're sure Sasha was just joking about killing you. What you're not so certain of is that she doesn't enjoy killing other people.

Cat vs. Mouse
L 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (7) + 9 = 16
S 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25

Initiative Rolls
L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13
S 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22

Bluff & SM
L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 2 = 20
S 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (14) - 1 = 13

"I'm not that blessed," Aerys laughs grabbing no more than two handfuls as proof, "well, not compared with the company you keep anyway."

"As for Ilmarond..." she sighs, "you would think they might have an appreciation for the pointed ears and high cheek-bones, but you'd be wrong. All they'd see is that my daddy was a human and that the woman who gave birth to me," Aerys gives you a frank look, "she's no right to a name like 'momma', left as soon as she weighed anchor and dropped 6 pounds of ballast."

Aerys Mavato wrote:
"I'm not that blessed," Aerys laughs grab no more than two handfuls as proof, "well, not compared with the company you keep anyway."

Sarah laughs, "Ha! How do you think I know so much about what an overstuffed dress can achieve? It ain't from my meager assets. It's from herding a whole gaggle of busty and brainless wenches for 20 years."

Aerys Mavato wrote:
"As for Ilmarond..." she sighs, "you would think they might have an appreciation for the pointed ears and high cheek-bones, but you'd be wrong. All they'd see is that my daddy was a human and that the woman who gave birth to me..."

Sarah nods, "Maybe so, maybe so. I've never been to Ilmarond, just heard things. Still, it can't be any worse than these places that assume a woman ain't competent for more than three jobs - mother, cook, or doxy."

Sasha Nevah wrote:
Sasha puts her arm around Ellie's shoulders and says, "That's just payback for sicking the gnome on me last night. He just has no appreciation for a more limber figure! Gosh would you quit shaking, you act like you've been hounded by assassins or something, I'm not going to kill you! Not that killing isn't fun and all, but I don't have a lot of friends you see. So, I figure it's better just to kill them instead, ya know, people who aren't my friends I mean?"

Lureene gives a nervous laugh, Sasha, you have no idea... "Ha, ha, ha, heeeeee. Sasha, I am glad you are my friend after all that, but you know, I just had to do that to you, after what Momma did to me! At least his hands were know!" She blushes at the memory.

She decides to turn the conversation to a safer subject, "So, Sasha, do you mind telling me how you are enjoying the trip so far? This trip is not so bad, so far, except for my seasickness...ha ha" she gives the other girl a wink, "I am so glad Sarah is such a good nurse! I just worry about storms and the like, I just fall to pieces!"

For the next several hours, all of you go about your business. Alis and Gelik swap stories while the gnome gives her pointers on how to really stick it to people. Priyya continues to help Aerys as the symptoms of the DTs grow stronger, and Mal continues work on his wilding clasp. Meanwhile up on the quarterdeck, Lureene and Sasha talk for hours causing more than a few distractions and they loosen their clothes on what ends up being the first real scorcher of 4210.

After a full day of sailing, you finally reach Titan's cove with a few hour of daylight to spare. When the White Pearl has finished docking, Captain Kovack announces, "This be tha last port o' call 'til we reach Light's End. If'n any o' ye aim ta stretch yer legs or conduct any bidnis ye best be quick."


The first mate looks up from helping a slight woman with long brown hair and spectacles up the gang plank. The burly man shoulders a trunk the woman has brought with her.


The Captain hops down from the poop deck and again from the quarterdeck with the spirit of a man 20 years younger. He flashes his lieutenant a big smile and says, "Be a good lad 'n show our passengers about tha town. Ah'll help tha lil' lady here!"

Alton nods and hands the trunk to Ishirou who stands silently by and shrugs his shoulders before setting off for the lower level of the ship. Captain Kovack meanwhile offers the woman his right arm and says, "Welcome aboard tha White Pearl milady! We be bound fer Light's End an' Port Eldarion, but ye kin voyage wit us as far as ye like, Miss...?"

The new passenger is a woman of about 30 years. She has a creamy complexion and long, dark brown hair worn in a tidy ponytail. While not unattractive, her scholarly robes and spectacles present a mousy, unassuming presence, although Captain Kovack seems to be quite smitten by her. In spite of the hot weather today, she is wearing a long, heavy green robe yet does not seem to be in any discomfort. You can only conclude that she must be availing herself of the same magic you used back in Drakedowns not even three weeks ago.

The woman hesitates for a moment at the Captain's gesture but finally smiles slightly and says, "d'Adora, Ieana d'Adora. So nice of you to ask. So this is your schooner is it? Is she swift?"

"This be no schooner, Miss Ieana." He puffs his chest out and gestures to the rigging. "The White Pearl be clipper-built an' aye she is a fast one. None faster on the Silver Sea I reckon!"

"Most excellent," Ieana comments as the Captain leads her to her quarters, "most excellent..."

'Lisa' knocks softly at Aerys' door and looks in to find the woman asleep and 'Sarah' reading a thick book with a look of interest on her dark face. She waves Priyya out into the hall, and then quickly closes the door and stands to the side as Ishirou lumbers past with a large trunk on his shoulder followed soon after by the captain and a not unattractive scholarly-looking woman that he is escorting.

The woman nods politely as she passes you, although Captain Kovack hardly seems to notice you are there. "Be my pleasure if'n ye be joinin' me fer supper t'night, Miss Ieana..."

"Oh why certainly sir! So gracious of you..."

With that, the Captain tips his hat and skips off topside with the most enthusiasm you've seen since he showed off his vessel's speed on your departure from Malatesta. From somewhere in the distance you can hear him calling out for Vinzini, the cook.

After he's passed with a whistle on his lips and a nod of his head to the two of you, Alis shakes her head and says, "I guess the good captain favors the younger, intellectual sorts!"

You both head back to the master cabin where Mal is still hard at work. Once the door is closed, Alis says, "I wanted to let you know we'll be in port for a few hours while the crew takes on new provisions. If there's anything you need in town, or you just want to walk around a bit on solid ground, now's the time. I was going to sample some of the local cuisine with Gelik."

Turning to Priyya, she says, "Titans' Cove looks like it is maybe half the size of Dunwaar, but I did see temples to both Silenya and Súmalya. If you like, I could look for something that might help that girl you've been treating..."

"I wouldn't mind stretching my legs briefly. I'll go with you - just to the church - if you don't mind. I've got something to discuss with you in private. As long as we can lose your erstwhile swain for a few minutes."

Lureene watches the Captain's reaction to the new passenger with a bemused look on her face. Love is a strange thing, she thinks. Chasing away some melancholy thoughts, she turns to Sasha, and asks, "I think Momma wants to go on shore while we are docked, maybe we can join her? It should be fun! Plus Poppa says you should always get on land whenever you can, because you never know what will happen out there on the sea."

Alis winks and nods, "I can think of a few things to say that should ensure we have a few minutes of peace. Let's go, dear old friend o' mine!"

Upon reaching the top deck and finding Gelik waiting, 'Lisa' waves him aside and whispers something discretely pointing to 'Ellie'. Gelik turns a bit pale but nods in understanding. "Ellie, be a good dear and try not to exert yourself too much. Momma and Sarah will be back in a little while..."

With that, the two older ladies hustle off the ship before Ellie can protest.

As they walk away, Alis notes Priyya's curious look. She gives a wicked grin and says, "Oh, I just told him that we need to pick-up some ointment at the temple to treat a rash that Ellie had down below. Said that he might want to be careful where he sits. Serve the old lecher right to make him worry a bit. Falling boulders indeed!"

Priyya guffaws, "I knew I liked you for a good reason. Wicked girl."

'Lisa' gives Sarah a warm smile, and laughs a little. "That's me! I'm sure I'll get smote for it one of these days, but hopefully it will be with a paddle instead of a sword."

After you are out-of-sight of the ship and well on your way to the House of Lyria, Alis asks, "So, what did you want to talk about?"

She looks at Lisa seriously. "I think I'm pregnant."
She bursts out with a very Sarah-like cackle. "You should have seen the look on your face!"

"Well sure, we can walk around for a bit. Is that handsome soldier of yours coming with us, or is this a girls-only outing?"

Judging by the look on her face, Sasha seems equally excited by either option.

Lisa puts a hand to her forehead and mutters what is surely a profane oath under her breath. "Damn, and I left my whip in the cabin..."

"You know, I really do worry about that girl sometimes. Any other woman would have been aghast at being called 'fat'."

Not trusting that others might not be listening, Lisa motions for Sarah to lean closer and she whipers...

"I fully expect I shall go to my grave without ever meeting another woman who got bluffed into thinking she was with child. Remind me to make some adjustments to the transmutation on Ellie's hair pin. If she's supposedly 3-months along, she should be starting to show some signs over the next couple weeks."

She gives Priyya a matter-of-fact look. "And no, I'm not joking."

Lureene feels a sense of excitement now she gets to have some fun, finally. But a small voice in her mind cautions her, Maybe you should invite your HUSBAND along, after all it would not be proper for two ladies to be unescorted.

Wondering where that voice came from, she responds to Sasha, "Let me see if my sweetie wants to come with us!" She skips down to the lower deck, and knocks on the cabin door. Once 'Andre' opens it, she simpers at him, "Would you like to come with Sasha and me for a walk?"

Sarah rolls her eyes as if to say Oh, for pity's sake.

She changes subjects. "I really wanted to talk to you about Aerys. To cure her, we'll need a Cure Disease potion, scroll, or something else. I'm happy to try to wangle one from the church but that might take me shedding my cover and there is no guarantee that they respect my order. So, it may be easier and safer to just buy a cure."

"About the girl herself... She seems like a good woman despite her recent bout with the bottle. She admitted to drinking freely but it seems to have become a problem after losing her love recently at Light's End. She is strong-willed, decisive, and driven to become a ship's captain. I don't know if she's ready to have her own ship... but I think she should be given the opportunity for advancement somewhere where her gender doesn't relegate her to lesser jobs. I mentioned to her that I'd heard that Ilmarond might be a place where she could get a fair shot to prove herself. But really, I was thinking Silverwake."

Mal looks up at the question, a dubious look on his face, then he surprises you by standing and throwing on his new vest, "Sure. This cabin is getting more than a little cramped. Plus," he says with a smile, "There's no telling how much trouble you two sun-crazed women can get into without someone to look out for you."

You thought I'd turn you down, didn't ya? :)

"Don't worry about the potion," Alis says, "I should have thought to shop for basics like that back in Malatesta but I got caught up in travel logistics."

"Also don't be concerned about speaking with the clergy." She shrugs her shoulders and says, "I'm one of them, at least technically."

A thoughtful look comes over Lisa's face and she looks up at the taller Sarah, "It might surprise you, but in many cases, the priestesses of Súm– Lyria have to remember where I am are better at treating diseases and poisons than the servants of other deities."

When Sarah gives her a questioning look, she elaborates, "Well for one thing, most of us are particularly resistant to such afflictions which is helpful. How do you think I was able to drink men twice my size under the table and still walk? Also, while our spellcasting may not be as powerful as those of other faiths, there are a few things that we gain access to a bit sooner. Works out to be less expensive for the ah... petitioner that way."

"As for Aerys, that's actually pretty interesting. I wouldn't have figured her for anything other than a tom-boy with a chip on her shoulder..."

After another minute or so of walking, she says, "I'll think on it. I want to see how she handles herself and the ship. The way I see it is, if someone has the talent and the desire to do a job, that tells me they've been inspired. I'd like to think of myself as a woman who helps others to realize their potential."

"As far as I can tell, the gods put people in positions of influence to suit their aims. I'd say power and wealth are just tools to help facilitate that... Facilitate... that sounds like a word my sister would use, doesn't it? I wonder how she's doing..."

Alis waves her hand. "Anyway, I just want to be certain Aerys' ability is equal to her ambition. It's a big responsibility and a large investment of resources and lives. To be honest, I still have some reservations about Gerrold's command judgment, but at least I've known him for more than a few days. I'll give her a fair shot."

"Oh, here we are!"

When Andre and Ellie emerge from their cabin, they find Sasha sitting atop a crate waiting for them. She's wearing a frilly, white, off-the-shoulder chemise under a tight-fitting, powder-blue leather bodice. A short, pleated grey skirt hangs to just above he knees, and she has on a pair of glossy black, thigh-high boots. The window-lacing on the outside of the boots shows off her long, toned legs. Coupled with her height, the 3-inch heels on the boots puts her on eye-level with Andre when she hops to her feet.

Around her slim waist is tied a long, well-worn black belt, the end of which dangles between her knees. Hanging from the belt in a 5-point suspension, is a sturdy-looking cut and thrust rapier with a thick brass finger guard. When she moves, Mal can't help but notice the ivory-hilted hunting kukri strapped to her right thigh.

"Oh good, you got him to come! That was fast!" It appears that she has been braiding her hair by using a long strip of blue latigo folded in half and passed thru a dozen ivory beads to do so. Pulling her hair thru the final gap between the two leather straps, she pushes another bead up against her hair and ties off the end in a bow that she forms using a square knot rather than the sort you might use on your shoes.

She points to Talvyra and remarks, "Is this your hunting b1tch, Andre? I used to have a setter when I was younger but that was some time ago. I've never seen one quite like this though, she looks more like she has cat eyes, how exotic!"

She holds out her palm for Talvyra to take her scent and says, "I bet you'd like to come with us and get of this stinky old tub, wouldn't you girl? Yes you would!"

"Alright then, I've been here a few times before, so what are the four of us going to do on our date? Food sounds good I bet, huh? Well I know a good place built out on the water. It's not a dive or anything like that, the local merchants tend to think of it as one of the nicer places but it's not dressy or anything, just not a place where scruffy old sailors or stinky fishermen would fit in. OK, well now that that's decided let's get on our way. If we're lucky we can get a table with a view of the sunset!"

With that, Sasha loops her arms thru yours walking in the middle between you, her swinging hips frequently bringing her into close proximity with Andre's sturdy frame. Even changed into the form of a human, his nose remains sharp as ever and the smell of her liberally applied rose perfume fills his senses.

In case it matters, Lureene is on the left, her right arm looped thru Sasha's left. Mal is on the right, with Sasha's right arm looped thru his left arm, hand resting on his bicep. With the bounce in her friend's step, Lureene suspects her ribs are going to be sore from getting knocked about by a rapier hilt.

As you are led across the deck and down the boarding ramp, the foreign sailor, Ishirou whistles and shakes his head. He points a thumb in the direction of the parting trio and calls out to the first mate, "Two beautifuh women is asking for troubuh! Better get dinghy ready for big man. He sreep unner stars tonight!"

Alton gives a deep booming laugh at the short man's analysis of the situation. He calls out in loud voice, "Andre, leave some for the rest of us. There's enough in the world for every man's need, but not for every man's greed!"

Ishirou wrote:
He points a thumb in the direction of the parting trio and calls out to the first mate, "...He sreep unner stars tonight!"

Mal looks skyward as he is escorted off the ship, I could only be that lucky.

Though he grins at the First Mate, "Hey, you eat what you hunt!"

Talvyra growls in agreement.

Sasha casts a sly look at Andre. She slips her arm around his waist and caresses Ellie's shoulders with her other hand. "Oh, I didn't know that you enjoyed hunting too... Fancy that!"

She then leans closer and purrs in his ear, "Just remember, you only get to eat what doesn't eat you first!"

Mal leans away, disengaging (forcefully if necessary) himself from the girl's arm, "It hasn't been an issue so far."

Lureene stares at Sasha, unsure how to take her attitude. She reminded her of a hunting cat, on the prowl. Belatedly remembering that this is her husband Sasha is eyeing, she decides to act the jealous wife.

She gives Sasha a predatorial look of her own, and pulls Mal’s arm in her own, locking her elbow with his. ”Perhaps we need to get you some more toys to play with, Sasha!”

The red-head giggles loudly at Ellie's joke and doesn't fuss when the brunette trades places to put her on the far left. She leans closer to her short, curvy friend and whispers, "I think I spooked him!"

It doesn't take more than 15 minutes for the good-looking trio to arrive at a restaurant built from molded concrete atop a stone pier. The whole place is painted white as sea salt. Large teal-colored awnings, faded by the Sun, shade a broad veranda of wooden decking that wraps around the place overlooking the Silver Sea.

Above the entryway, formed from numerous iridescent tiles, is a mural of a large fish with rippling blue, gold, and silver scales, a large, spear-shaped nose, and a sail-like dorsal fin. Spelled out beneath it, in copper letters turned green by the briny air of the sea, "Gran Marlin Café."

Without hesitation, Sasha marches right up, pulls open one of the slatted doors with her left hand, and gives Ellie a smart little bow, right hand gesturing toward the open door. "Ladies first!"

After Ellie enters, Sasha saunters in after her allowing Andre to admire the view as he follows behind. She instantly takes Ellie's arm and says loudly to the hostess, "We'll be outside on the patio, oh and no drinks for this cutie, she's gonna be a mom in a few months!"

The hostess tries her best not to look shocked at the bombastic entrance. She quickly seats you outside picking a corner table that she must hope will be far enough away from the regulars that you and the large dog with you don't cause the other guests inside too much trouble.

Somehow you manage to keep your eyes off Sasha's rear long enough to note that she seems to have a tattoo between her shoulder blades. You can just barely see it beneath her braid, but the top of her chemise cuts off enough of it that you can't make out what it is.

Perception Checks
M 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18

Lureene blushes a rather pleasant shade of red, knowing Sasha just wanted to show her up for taking Andre from her. She groans inwardly, wishing she could have just a smidgen of wine. It is such A LOONNGG trip! she thinks.

Oh well, maybe she could convince the waitress to give her something to go…

Priyya looks up to see that Alis has led her to what appears to be a large villa overlooking the sea. It is fronted by thick, well-tended privacy hedge. An intricately carved stone archway provides admittance to a lush garden courtyard with beds of brightly orchids, and impressive works of topiary. Here and there, statues carved by artists of varying degrees of skill populate the hillside.

Atop a broad flight of stairs, awaits the porch of a stately mansion fronted with ivy-covered pillars. Above their capitals, the entablature bears additional artistry. The length of the frieze is decorated with bas relief images of paradise. Nymphs and perfectly proportioned men cavort beneath waterfalls while angels strum harps in idyllic glades. Below the imagery, the architrave bears an elegant script in a language that Priyya does not recognize.

Beside her, Alis interprets, "Naught exists but for imagination. Naught has been imagined that was not inspired."

Alis leads you up the steps and you turn to find that the manse commands an breath-taking view of the sea. To the west, the Sun is falling towards the horizon even as Brightpool approaches her zenith. Lounging against a marble railing, a comely young woman wearing naught but a sheen of perspiration from the hot day greet you in a foreign tongue. She seems unashamed about her nudity and it takes you a moment to realize that not far away, a young man is painting the scene before him on a wide canvas, a great olive tree in the background behind her, its limbs afire with the radiance of the setting Sun.

The disguised princess withdraws some prayer beads made of pearls and rubies from the pouch at her hip and responds in the same tongue, draping the long stand between her outstretched hands as she curtsies. Without moving any more than her lips, the model offers a reply before resuming the enigmatic expression she has been maintaining for the artist.

"The head hetaera of this house is in a courtyard further in leading the priestesses' hymns before the men return from their nets and orchards."

Around the... temple...? young girls dressed in lose-fitting white gowns are refilling braziers with scented oils and lighting cones of incense. Everywhere Priyya looks, there are works of art, rooms containing countless volumes of literature and poetry, chambers designed for bathing and love-making, and even rooms lined with thick mats and wooden dummies that she recognizes as dojos for training in unarmed combat.

After several minutes of navigating the lofty hallways of what could only be described as a pleasure palace, the two of you enter a tiered courtyards in which the sounds of flutes, harps, chimes, and soft voices caress your senses. The heady scent of exotic blossoms and strange incenses here induces an almost trance-like state, and the Surya-ka-Vahaak find her thoughts drifting back to a vision of beholding a world with two moons from the edge of a desert, her soul cloaked within Alis' form.

Beside you, Alis' voice is soft and melodious as she continues to speak in the strange tongue that you have only ever heard exchanged between her and other beings of supernatural quality. Wait, are Mal and Alexis truly supernatural? The thought had not occurred to you until now, but it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility.

You are vaguely aware that your desire to lay down and contemplate such thoughts are accommodated, as if the hands of a dozen angels are bearing you up thru the air, your heart light as a piece of down on a zephyr...

Fort Saves
A 1d20 + 2 + 6 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 2 + 6 + 4 = 19 poison, inured
P 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10

Music: Om

Priyya lays down, or at least she thinks she does and the music in her head changes...

Oh, yeah...

Back at the Gran Marlin Café...

Theme: Dreadful

A cacophony of twisted joints, cracked appendages, and the tender insides being slurped out fills the nighttime air. A cool, moist breeze bringing a shudder to Lureene's bare shoulders as she watches Sasha eat.

Bits of chitinous remains cover the table, the surprisingly uncouth woman's fingers drip with melted butter, and a pile of broken creatures bearing far too many legs is heaped before her. She briefly hearkens back to scenes from her childhood, her mother gorging herself on the souls of broken mortals, and a quiet terror takes hold of her.

"So anyway," Sasha continues on the tale she was telling, "I was like, 'Hell no I don't want to inherit the family business, you crazy old bat!' So that's when my Mom pinned me, pulled out a knife and informed me I had 9 more chances left to reconsider."

She holds up her left hand hand to illustrate her point and Lureene finally notices that she's missing the pinkie finger on her left hand.

"So yeah, I'd say you could do a lot worse as a mom. Pretty sure she killed my dad now that I think about it, but I never knew him so it's kinda hard to identify. Say, were you going to finish those shrimp?"

She plucks a few of the little buggers off Ellie's plate before turning to look at Andre who opted for more terrestrial fare. "What about you, big guy? Come from a long line of soldiers, or do you just like hurting people? Ellie hun, you ok? You're looking kinda pale. Eat up, can't let your baby starve!"

I'm assuming since Lureene is the one with the uber bluff check that she'll be inclined to cover for Mal while his mouth is full.

Lureene fights back the spectres from her childhood, "Nooo, Mother, you do not have control over me anymore!! I am my own person!! The sounds of her Mother's laughter echoes back at her...'Do you know how many mortals have told me the same thing...just before their souls became mine? HA HA HA HA!

The sound of Sasha's voice draws her back to the present. She wipes away a stray tear, and forces herself to eat a couple of the shrimp, washing it down with some iced tea. Seeing 'Andre' gorging himself on his half raw steak, she takes the opportunity to speak for him.

"Well, my sweetie here doesn't really like talking about why he became a soldier. He did say his family had some issues with his decision though. I think when you start doing that kind of stuff, it is very hard to stop." She touches his back lightly, "I am sooo lucky he did that for me!"

Bluff 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 14 + 1 = 22 lying

Mal stops chewing a surprisingly fine-tasting steak, "Actually, the only issue was that my mom didn't want me going into the military while her husband couldn't wait to get me out of the house."

He catches Sasha's eye, More than one person can be exceedingly blunt and nosey.

"So, Sasha… saw a tattoo on your back. What's that about? Can I have a better look?"

"Oh that?" She shrugs her shoulders. "My Mom made me get it when I was a teenager. I'll have to take my bodice off to show you the whole thing, but we can do that back on the boat."

"Uh... have a look at the tattoo I mean!" She laughs and elbows Andre, "Of course that's all I'm going to show you. Only got the one, nothing else, nope! Aaahhh haha oh man..."

She shakes her head nearly crying with laughter and licks the butter off her fingers whilst staring intently at the big man. With her finger clean she is finally able to pick up her tankard without it slipping out of her hands and proceeds to chug an entire pint of ale without stopping to breathe.

Lureene has no clue what was so funny, about Sasha showing off her tattoo, but Mal can think of a few other things that Sasha might have meant by it...

B 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20

Sense Motive Checks:
L 1d20 + 2 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 2 + 5 = 18 blatant
M 1d20 + 2 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 2 + 5 = 24 blatant

Theme: Sweet Dreams Sarah

While she slumbers, Sarah pictures herself on a boat on a river. In a marmalade sky, a circle of impossibly top heavy pixies with butterfly wings pursue and are in turn pursued by a number of ridiculously plump, golden-winged succubi that birth bat-winged diamonds every few seconds.

Somebody calls, and Sarah answers quite slowly, "Lisa...? In the sky?! With diamonds?!?!"

Sarah jerks awake to find herself lying on a plush divan, her curls being gently stroked by Lisa on whose lap her head rest. It takes a moment for Priyya's eyes to adjust to a bright light and she looks up to see that Darkshoal is presently full in the sky above. Alis helps her up to a sitting position and offers an apology, "I completely forgot about the ceremony performed each full moon. The fumes don't affect those who have gotten used to them, but suffice it to say, you got a nice little nap in. Fortunately, I caught you and some acolytes helped me to carry you out here for some fresh air. You've been out for about an hour."

"Everything ok, Sarah? You have more than a few colorful opinions on... ah– reproduction while you were out." She raises an eyebrow, a confounded look on her wrinkled face. "Anything you wanted to talk about there?"

Sarah looks manic, either inspired or perhaps under the effects of the drug still. She answers Lisa's question but she is clearly talking to herself. "Yes! Well, no. Well, not yet. Perhaps not ever... it all depends."

She looks at Lisa, the over-bright glint uncharacteristic and somewhat disturbing. "You have a library here, yes? Dealing with all aspects of love and all types of love, yes?" She sees the truth of her conjecture in Lisa's eyes. Sarah looks delighted.

"I need access to that library or a librarian. I need to borrow a very specific book... a very specific book indeed."

Lisa's lips quiver with emotion, and she cries out, "Where's my Sarah and what have you done to her?!"

Sarah looks at her levelly. "I'm her evil twin, Farah, and I killed that miserable old b1tch. Now, are you gonna get me that book or what?"

A short time later, the duo find themselves shown to a quiet room in the manse by an attractive older woman dressed in white robes, secured at the shoulders by thin gold chains. In the center of the room, is a pristine bed bedecked in satin and heaped high with pillows. Mounted on the wall at the head of it, and on the ceiling above are huge mirrors framed in gold. To either side, small tables bear bottles containing all manner of exotic fragrant oils and other items that make even Alis blush when Priyya inquires after their purpose.

Without a word, the woman opens an armoire in the corner to reveal a wine rack, mangoes, chocolates, and other rarer stimulants. It is the wall however that capture your interest. They are lined with mahogany shelves filled with texts and treatises on all manners of lovemaking for all manners of creatures.

"Here you should find what you seek, sisters. Please, take your time..."

With that, the woman exits drawing velvet drapes across the doorway as she goes.

Priyya runs her hands lovingly along the spines of the books, clearly delighted. While gazing over the shelf, she says, "You know, I once dreamed of a life dedicated to gathering knowledge..." She sounds momentarily melancholy about the road not traveled. Then she smiles, her old self reasserting, "So, Sister, we are looking for a book or two on the reproductive possibilities of demons and half-demons. I want to put a certain ridiculous matter to rest."

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