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Ragadolf's page

RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter. 5,582 posts (14,772 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 25 aliases.


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Glad you are enjoying it Flash!

Yeah, I try to find a stopping point for each chapter once I hit 20 or so pages. But that is WITH spacing. :/
Ergo some pages are very detailed, and some are more summarized.

Again, just SO much good stuff by all, I don't want to edit ANYthing out!

Oh never fear, Justin has opinions on everything. Right or Wrong. ;P

Yeah I saw that!
Very cool, can't wait to see it!

Glad you like it!

This is my mental exercise in writing, editing, dialogue, etc. Trying to get my brain back up to it's previous activity levels. (I need to do that to my body too!) :/

(The fact that I get a reason to re-read all of our old adventures is strictly a bonus!) ;)

The next update will take a while, between work, traveling to visit family in Oklahoma next week, and taking my kids to Space Camp the following week, (During that week will also be the closest thing my wife and I will get to an 20th anniversary/2nd honeymoon time together) ;)

Yeah,... sorry, the night out update (And possibly more) will likely take a couple of weeks. :)

Maybe I'll try to do smaller chunks. Yeah, 'bite-sized' journal entries!

Have fun guys! :)

Maybe we'll see you around the Grand Bazaar? ;)

Arnav Longarm wrote:
Hamar of the Hyena Tribe wrote:
Welcome, save some flesh for Hamar to cut and we'll get along just fine...
Oh, I don't expect to get everybody. I expect I'll be the guy standing still while you dance around behind the bad guys cutting their legs out from under them.

And I'll be the guy standing BEHIND you, throwing fireballs over your shoulder at them! :)

There are a few lists of Sigil Cant terms online, you should start with the shorter, most common ones. :)

Here is a list of the common terms, also used in the Planescape:Torment PC video game.

I Can answer your first question! (Thanks to all of the research I had to do before trying to re-write our adventures!) ;P

'The Cage' is a nickname for Sigil, the city of doors. Used because many of the people who wind up there cannot seem to find their way back home. Despite the fact that supposedly there is a door to ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE somewhere in Sigil. Ergo, 'The Cage'.

So, a 'cager' is anyone who lives in the Cage. :)

AND Chapter 4, Part 2 is up in Justin's Journal.

Justin's Story, Chapter 4, Part 2

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I think I finally have this edited alright.
Mainly I'm just too tired to keep my eyes over anymore.

And now for your reading (hopefully) Pleasure,...
Justin's Story- Chapter 4- Part 2


===== ===== ===== ===== =====
Justin's Story, Chapter 4, Part 2
(Thread pages 68-71)
===== ===== ===== ===== =====

The 'daylight' (It can't be SUN light, seeing as there's no bloody SUN here!) had faded while we were talking to Derioch. We descended Bedlam Run towards the Zaddfum Trestle. As we passed by the narrow, crowded, crooked tenements for that fog-wrapped bridge, a voice echoed out from the rainy darkness:

"Pazuzu, Orcus, Graz'zt, Demogorg --- URK! Gerrof me! The shadows—AAAHHHH!!

The voice, which had started out kind of high-pitched and nervous giggly, suddenly ended with a screech.

My head whipped around at the sound of the voice suddenly cutting off. For a heartbeat we were all frozen, exchanging wide-eyed, open-mouthed surprised looks with each other like a school of Interplanar goldfish. Then I turned and ran in the direction of the shout, the others hot on my coattails.

My long legs ate up the ground as I made a gesture with my right arm. In a flash there were four balls of eldritch light, each glowing as bright as a normal torch. (Courtesy of my magic Varisian Clan Tattoo, covering most of my right arm.) I pointed forward with a mental command, and 3 of the balls of light went whizzing ahead of me, the last staying above my head to illuminate my path.

From beside me, I saw Drazek focus as he ran, muttering something as he made a weird gesture with his hands. (It wasn't a typical spell-gesture.) A sense of wrongness coalesced around him for a moment, as if reality were just violated.

Whatever he did wasn't even aimed at me, and I felt violated. I hate warlocks. (Nothing personal Draz.)

Bethany, Drazek, Naridre, Karrin with Seph on her shoulder and I all race forward. I was able to tell that the scream came from down a narrow, nameless alleyway a few blocks down. With I and my magic illumination in advance, Bethany flying above and the others following, we spotted a corpse sprawled in the fetid muck of the alley.

Our erstwhile victim was a ginger-haired pale freckled man, wearing a ragged brown vest and trousers. His tight pale red kinky hair spread out from his head. He appeared to be, as the locals so quaintly put it, 'Inked fully in the dead book'.

And there wasn't a mark on him. But I'm getting ahead of myself again.

"Why is it my work always seems to involve an ungods-ly amount of running?" I griped, panting as we splashed to a stop in the odorous scum of the alley. I arched an eyebrow at the corpse in surprise.

"He looks familiar. Didn't we see him on our way into the Ward when we first got here?" I asked the others. I quickly looked around, and with a thought sent two of my spheres of enchanted light bobbing further down the alley. They illuminated nothing besides a couple of rats, and some Xaos graffiti.

"I thought I heard him scream 'shadows', keep an eye out,..." I said as I looked around. Again. Drazek scanned the rooftops, his eyes glowing faintly. Nari pulled out her small bow and did,... something, and her eyes actually flashed with light for a moment. Bethany circled and landed on an eave above us. Karrin stood there, fists on her hips, silently daring whoever did this to attack her, too.

Apparently 'whoever' wasn't all that stupid. Nothing happened.

When I was satisfied that nothing was waiting to pounce on us, (Particularly me!) I bent down to examine the body.

The corpse was cooling rapidly in the fetid muck. There was no sign of blood or a wound, but he wasn't breathing, and he was turning that particular shade of grey that dead people do. Other than that he looked as if he was sleeping off a drunk.

"There's nothing hostile currently present. What are we supposed to do now? Something killed him, and it terrified him while it was happening. There are ways to frighten someone to death. Is it possible that's what happened here?" Nari spoke up. I mean, she spoke aloud, where we could hear her. Her voice was calm and her words were low, but firm and clear, not whispered or stuttering.

I glanced up, Nari was holding herself alert, and not cowering at all. I discovered she is taller than I had realized, since she was usually trying so hard to make herself look small. Her amber eyes continued to scan the area carefully.

"There ain't no magic on the rooftops or in the alley," Drazek said turning, I suspect, just so we could see the glow behind his eyes. "Might be a witness though, Bethany cover me will ya doll?"

Drazek walked towards the side of one of the alley's buildings, and to everyone's surprise walked up along it's side without breaking stride, looking for open windows or any other indication of an onlooker.

"Showoff." I muttered. I'm pretty sure my smirk belied the harshness of the word.

Bethany nodded and reached behind her head, pulling a large strangely cut bow from inside of the obviously too small quiver at her back. The bow itself was made from a polished, dark purplish brown wood and appeared to have two additional larger grips on either side of the smaller normal grip. She then proceeded to pull an arrow from the same, apparently not so empty, quiver and nock it. She used this to cover Drazek's ascent up the building.

"I heard him mention the Winged Lord. I know that he is wont to strike down those he deems unworthy, but to do so to a mud... landbound being is almost unheard of." Bethany called to us as she observed Drazek's vertical march.

I filed that bit of information away as I turned back and continued my examination of the body, talking aloud for the benefit of the others.

"No obvious wounds. Not even signs of strangulation. Unusual in that even the most subtle of spells leave at least tell-tale marks. As do life-draining undead."
I looked up with a thoughtfully furrowed brow. (and, I'm told, my customary smirk.)

"I've heard of people being frightened to death. But I've never actually seen it.” I told Nari. (The way she looked me directly in the eyes after playing shy all day was positively unsettling.) “ I imagine it's actually very hard to do. And I've seen some things that scared the ,... well, they were scary." I finished with a self-conscious cough. I patted the man's clothes, looking for items he might be carrying.
I was looking for papers, but not really expecting to find anything. In this, at least, I was not disappointed.

"Though I have heard of one or two spells that might be able to do it. But they're very powerful. Not something a street thug or even a casual caster would be able to control." I continued talking.

I stood up from the body and took another glance around. I was nervous, and frustrated.

"I'm guessing that being found over a corpse isn't usually a good thing? Even in this neighborhood? We should probably beat feet before the guards arrive. Assuming they DO arrive in this district. But if you think we can afford to wait just a bit, I'd like to try and see if there is residual magic on the body. I'll need about a minute. Can we risk it?" I asked Karrin.

"If we can spare the time, we should let Justin make sure if it was magic. Even if it wasn't magic, it would be helpful to eliminate a possibility." Nari interjected, in her newly-strong and confident voice.

Karrin looked at the body over my shoulder, and then to her team mates.
"Do whatever you need to do Justin," Karrin said, "but let's make it quick. I don't want the hardheads finding us picking over the body. I'm going to keep watch, if I see a hardhead I'll have to wave him down, but I'll keep anyone else out."

Karrin quickly ran to the mouth of the alleyway and began scanning the streets.

I nodded in reply as I chanted a few words softly. This was one of the simplest charms I knew, one of the first I taught myself in fact. It was easy, requiring only concentration to work properly. I knew my eyes began to shine faintly with a silvery radiance, hiding the iris. I held out my hand, directing my focus of the charm. It probably made me look as if I had problems with my depth perception.

"I can always cut it short if we have too. But I really want to know what killed him. Hang on a minute,..." I muttered, staring at the corpse by my feet.

After a few moments, I began to see the tell-tale glow of residual magic on the corpse.

“Ah,... THERE you are!” I almost sighed. “Now, what are you?” I focused my attention on the residual energy, trying to identify it. It shouldn't have been difficult.

For you non-magikers out there, All magic leaves a trace of itself behind, whether harmful or benign. Fireball or healing spell. The more powerful the spell, the stronger the trace, the longer it lasts, and the easier it is to identify. Usually at least. Normally it's just a matter of time. You study the residual energy long enough to identify it's school of origin by it's 'color'. (For me. Some wizards say it's sound, smell, or even taste for them. Necromancy must be a blast to identify by taste. Yecch) Study it long enough, and become experienced enough, and you can identify what spell it was. Any magic spell strong enough to kill a man before he could finish screaming should have left a huge amount of residual energy behind. The equivalent of a large, magically glowing sign above a Calistrian confessional. This was more like finding a firefly in your beer.

Staring at the body and it's evasive magical trace, I heard the sound of someone unlimbering a large weapon. (When your a wizard, that is a very disturbing sound.) Followed by the sound of Karrin's cheerful voice,

"Evening boys," she snarled, happily. “You seen any hardheads around here?"

I heard muttering, the creak of leather armor and the metallic clank of weapons. I maintained my focus on the body.

Someone growled in a rough voice,
"Doing here are berks what you? Turf is Xaos this. Trespass don't berks what like we."

A different voice, this one sounded slimy, hissed,
"Mordrigaarz says I 'em we cuts ." And I heard another long metallic rasp.

I physically winced at the exchange, almost losing my concentration.
'It's bad enough that no one in this entire stinkin' dimension can speak basic common. But then they have to go and mutilate what little they DO speak. It's enough to make a grown mage cry.

From the corner of my eye I saw Nari tense and move a few steps past me, towards the mouth of the alley. She didn't act like she was looking for a place to hide anymore.

The tension behind me was becoming physically palpable. From out of it I heard Karrin,... laugh.

"Oh that's precious, I suppose that gets local Yokels quaking in their boots, but save it for the ladies. I know what the most dangerous thing is in this alley, and I'm not in the mood to humor ya. I'm a mercenary. I hurt and kill people for a living, I ain't some hobbyist, but lucky for you I don't like killing without any jink. That's not to say I won't, don't get me wrong, I love my job, I mean that's why I called you over, watching this alley is boring, but I ain't moving till my team's finished looking over that body back there. Now we can play this posing game, you can make a move, or maybe we can do something constructive: You say this is your turf? Maybe you boys know something useful. You know anything about the dead barmies or this shadow killer? I mean someone's hunting crazies on your turf. Me and my team are looking for this cutter."

Well, THAT took some of the wind out of their sails. I managed to maintain my concentration, but it was hard not to cheer. I heard more shuffling, and the first voice, their leader I supposed, spoke again in, slightly, more comprehensible speech.

"We knows someone is hunting barmies. We're here to teach them a lesson about poaching on our turf. Who's to say you're not the one putting them in the dead book? I want to see the deader, all you berks just back off."

The second, slimy voice hissed again,
"Trick it's Mordrigaarz a! Laugh you giving they're the !"

AND with that, my concentration simply popped like a soap bubble. Any chance I had of identifying it in a timely manner was now gone. And it didn't sound like these guys were going to give me another few minutes to try again. I growled and raised my head skyward in frustration.

"Sunuvamurglak. Would it Kill them to speak common?!?" I grumbled as I rose from over the body.
"And they're making enough racket to wake the dead. And we have quite enough of those around already!" I complained loudly as I stalked angrily towards the alley mouth and the source of my irritation. My spheres of eldritch light turned a more reddish color in response to my temper as I came up behind Karrin. Just in time to see her turn into a giant.

Yep. In a heartbeat Karrin went from less than five and a half feet to just over ten feet tall. Seph, still perched on Karrin's shoulder, let out a large "Mreeeowww!" as he found himself suddenly a good 10 feet off the ground.

I later discovered that she had a magic item, a belt, that lets her grow as if I had cast a growth spell on her. She bellowed at Mr Slimy-voice.

"You think I'm fooling you Bert!" She roared as she towered over the gang, she easily lifted her now giant axe over her head with one hand and pointing with her spiked gauntlet, "Just make a move chuckles so Ferissirion can consume your soul!!"

"What's up Karrin? You find me some more volunteers for my toad-transformation spell?" I asked sweetly as I stepped up beside her.
I couldn't help it. The smart-@$$ery was already engaged. It just came out, honest.

Suddenly, the Xaos boys were a lot less aggressive. Mr Slimy-Voice, apparently their lieutenant, (Even grungier and more unpleasant looking than the rest, with a rusty metal mask covering his face and long, rusty blades attached to his gauntlets), hissed and scuttled back to the dubious-safety of the rest of his gang.

Seeing the lieutenant back down, Karrin turned to the gang leader, a large, burly fellow who looked like he enjoyed a good scrap, but had a gleam of intelligence in his eyes.

"You can peep after my boy is finished looking him over," Karrin said using a more conciliatory voice, (Loud, from being the currently biggest thing in the Hive, but conciliatory.)

"Someone magic-ed him up good, no marks, no nothing. But we got a couple spell slingers and they're using their stuff to have a look, and that takes time. It's dark magic I'll guess. Powerful stuff. I think it's necromancy or maybe the work of some dark cult. Not much kills without leaving a mark. You know anything we'd appreciate it. You don't want something hunting on your grounds and we need this thing taken down for favors. We work together and we cover more ground. We got no reason to make any claims on the kill either, far as I'm concerned this can be all your work."

The leader approached, hands out in a peaceful gesture. He was trying hard not to look intimidated. He was doing pretty well for a guy who was looking UP at a woman who could now step on him.

"Right. You're a hende lot of bloods. No worries. We're looking, just like you. We don't like leatherheads what think they can bash our barmies for sport. Now you want to look at the deader, go ahead. Could I take a look? No crosstrading, Lady's Honor."

He came a bit closer, after gesturing the others to stay back.
"I'm Mordrigaarz. I keep an eye out for my faction in this area, when I feels like it."
He put a big paw out for Karrin to shake.

Karrin kept her massive size but switched her axe over to her mitt hand and rested her axe on her shoulder.

"Karrin Kind," Karrin said as she extended her own hand. I got the impression that she wasn't holding back on the grip. And neither was Mordigaarz. He was just shy of seven feet himself, and built like a brick shipyard.

"We want this leatherhead taken down Mordrigaarz, call it charity, and for what it's worth my group's not going to contest your authority here. For one thing you got lots of toughs, we respect that. Second we ain't been paid and their no sense fighting and dying for nothing. You gots honour to protect but we mercenaries need money ta fight. You seem a sharp cutter. Someone we can work with. Go on through, but I'm watching your boys here. No offense, but I don't trust them enough yet not to do something needlessly violent and stupid. I think the teams done looking it over."

Mordigaarz flexed his hand when Karrin released it and nodded in appreciation. He had already sized Karrin up, literally, and I think he had decided he liked the challenge. But he was smart enough not to maybe get his gang killed on account of it.

"You say true an' I say thankya, Karrin. I'll go in by meself, an' if these pack of jackals don't watch their manners you have my permission to flatten them."

I nodded, looking up to Karrin, to let her know I was done. For now. I stepped aside with a tight-lipped smile, and Mordrigaarz entered the alley to inspect the body.

Nari elbowed me. When I glanced at her, she was once again the mousy, timid girl I had met earlier that day. She nodded nervously in the direction of the lieutenant, Mr Rusty-claws, who was busy whispering and muttering to his fellows. I wondered about this sudden change-and-reversal of Nari's personality, but nodded to let her know I had seen the potential troublemaker too.

"Now, Now." I said calmly, pulling out my pipe. (And resisting the urge to lean casually against Karrin's pillar-like leg), "Just because we're not friends doesn't mean we have to be enemies."

I packed my pipe, and lit it with a jet of flame from my finger. All while never taking my eyes off of Mr Rusty-Claws. I puffed contentedly and gave the iron-masked man my best smirk.

Mordigaarz re-emerged from the alley, having examined the body, and called up to Karrin again.
"You folks see any leatherheads scarpering from the scene? This be the sixth unmarked deader we've found in two weeks around our kip here."

The Xaos faction gangleader seemed a tad,... annoyed.

I answered first, as I was right next to him. "No. Didn't see anything. But we did[]/i] hear him shout something about 'Shadows'. Does that mean anything to you? My first guess would be the Dustmen and their, friends. But they usually seem content to let people arrive in their own good time."
I puffed thoughtfully on my pipe, shrugging in an 'it was a thought' way.

"No, nothing from our end, and we got here fast.” Karrin rumbled from on high. “Whatever it is moves like lightning or folds into the shadows . . . we even got eyes in the sky," Karrin said glancing over at the nearby rooftop. "But we saw nothing, we heard nothing either, except that barmie's screams . . . you got anything we can use Mordrigaarz, know anyone we can talk to?"

The gangleader glanced up at Karrin's words, and visibly blanched. I wasn't sure if it was from finding a bow-wielding harpy perched above them, or the sight of Drazek nonchalantly standing horizontal from the side of the building. Even the Iron-masked maniac was silenced (for a moment) by the sight.

Mordrigaarz frowned, turning away from the creepy people perched on rooftops. "I'm it blood. We don't hold with hierarchies in the Xaos faction. I gots as many men as I can hold together, an' these berks are like herding cats. Alls I know is someone's doing for the Hivers, an' that gets me heated."

He looks at Karrin, more curious than suspicious I thought.
"Why do yeh care what happens to some Hiver barmies?"

“Officially, we don't. Unless we're being paid of course." I replied in what I hoped was a cavalier, mercenary attitude. "But I've a got a real problem with anyone who hurts those that can't defend themselves. And if you've found several dead 'barmies' in a week, I'd say that qualifies."

I blew a smoke ring, looking at Mr. Rusty-Claws. "Bullies make me cranky." I muttered. Not loud enough to be a direct challenge,...

Mr Rusty-Claws just stared at me. I think his mask is the only thing that prevented him from [i]actually glaring daggers at me. He finally turned back to his mates and picked up his angry muttering where he had left off.

Karrin smiled. Her small, white pointed teeth were even more disturbing at her current size. "Just because we're mercenaries doesn't mean we can't care about other things besides money. Nobody fits into a neat little package Mordrigaarz. I mean we're not boxes are we?"

Mordrigaarz shrugged. "Alls we know is people in our turf keep turning up in the dead book alla sudden. No one knows nothing, an' if they did they ain't lanning us the darks. The Dustmen ain't got the guts to start pre-killing barmies. They know we'd rip their pretty tomb down around their bony skulls."

Karrin tilted her head, and looked at Mordy curiously. "I should ask though, why do you care? If I believed in stereotypes I'd say gangers don't care about anything besides themselves."

Mordrigaarz frowned, and regained most of his initial award-winning attitude.
"We aint no cony-catching bully boys, berk, don't forget that. This here is our kip, an' we takes care of our own. Lot better than the Hardheads do, anyway. We'll take care of this in our way."

"Now I've been pretty tolerant, 'cuz I knows you are a hende load of bloods, but if you stick around too much more my lads are gonna start wondering if I'm going soft or not. I appreciate the point out on the body, but you gots to go."

I looked up at Karrin, and gave a slight nod. Enough to let her know that I'd done all I could.
I put out my pipe casually, as if not in a hurry. But I made sure to keep a wary eye on our new 'friends'.

Karrin nodded, then began to shrink back to normal-sized. (I swear, I thought I heard Seph go 'Wheee!') "We're moving then," Karrin said, face to face once more. "We're not here to challenge you or stir up trouble. If you you're serious about taking our help dealing with problem we'll need to find some way of sharing info . . ."

Mordy glanced over at his gang, and whispered, "Yeh got any info or wanna talk on this, I hang at Quake's Place in the Hive District." Karrin and I both nodded . Then he straightened up and glared.

“Well? Waitin' fer ingraved what yeh Invite an?” He bellowed.

"Right, you heard the man," Karrin called, "We ain't welcome here, we're moving out! Back ta base!"

"Well, heaven forfend that I should stay someplace I am not welcome." I said in the precisely-pronounced pronunciation of an upper-crust accent. I touched two fingers to my forehead and nodded in a respectful, if brief, salute to the Xaos leader.

Lowering my arm, I paused briefly to point two fingers at Mr. Rusty fingers, and winked. He shot me the tines in return.

For those not well traveled or versed in inter-planar lore, 'The Tines' is a common, vulgar and rude gesture in societies that have dealings with devils and their ilk in particular. It consists of holding up a fist with both pointer and pinkie fingers extended. It is supposed to be reminiscent of the pitchfork-like weapons that devils supposedly enjoy employing so often. With Mr Rusty Claws blade-fingered gauntlet, it was particularly impressive.

I turned back to Karrin and Nari, chucking a thumb over my shoulder at the departing Xaos-ites.
"I think he likes me!" I smirked.
OK, I was having fun. I may have been grinning like the mouse that belled the cat. Just a little.

We walked back retracing our steps, followed above by Bethany and Drazek. The Xaos-ites and we each went out separate ways, watching each other warily, but neither made any moves the other disagreed with. Eventually we lost sight of each other.

All that time, and noise, and I had to wonder, 'Still no sign of the local constabulary. There's a big surprise. I wonder if they even show their faces here after dark. Even in force?' I mean Murphy had told me that there were a few places that the Hardheads weren't welcomed in, and that the Hive was one of them, but I hadn't realized that meant they were absent completely. I filed that tidbit away too. And made a mental note never to visit the Hive again. Alone. Ever.

Our party regrouped and resumed its travel to the Zaddfum Bridge. The Cage was fully in Night mode (Antipeak), and we hurried to traverse the Trench of Stench and skirt the Hellgate District to Ragpicker's Square.

Ragpicker's Square was alive with the cries of the garment sellers, paper sellers, and book dealers. We saw an awful lot of grey-robed Dustmen out and about now that the darkness had claimed Sigil. That reminded me of the others that had gone with Isaac, and I wondered how they had fared.

Passing as quickly as possible through the sulphuric Foundry District, our group entered Swordhold. The press of people was thick, many of them armed and armored, most of them drunk. Must be nice.

I was scanning the crowd, not so much 'exercising my brain' by trying to see where persons were from, as just being my now-usually-paranoid self. In this case it paid off. I spotted Isaac with two other men walking down the other side of the street, about three blocks away, heading back the way we had just come from. I told Karrin, and waved to get Bethany's attention. Bethany looked, saw Isaac, nodded at me, and flew down to intercept as the rest of us tried to fight the crowd and catch up to him.

Bethany circled Isaac, and her proud form landed directly in front of him and his buddies with a cocky smirk on her face. We were close enough to hear the startled exclamation of Issac's pals.

When we caught up, mostly by allowing Karrin to clear a path, we made introductions for Isaac's buddies. Isaac said they hadn't found much so came back early, then he decided to chase down leads at a pub he knows that plays music. He invited Lady Bethany along, thinking she might enjoy it, much to the delight of his companions. Then we told Isaac that we had discovered something that we should probably all talk to Renkar about. So, Isaac made his apologies to his friends, made plans to catch up to to them later, (The night was young,) and we all made out way back through the crowds to the Silver Rose offices.

On the way Isaac told us that his group, after having no luck gathering any thing useful from the pub, had tried the source directly, as it were, and had gone to the Mortuary itself to see if Eliath had turned up there. They were told by a Dustman named Toranna that the Mortuary did, indeed, have a dead barmy that had been identified as 'Eli'. But when they asked to see the body themselves, they were curtly denied and escorted out. Upon discussion they all thought it odd that a homeless, 'barmy' beggar happened to be positively identified when so many others weren't.

We arrived at the Silver Rose offices, and the door was locked. But Karrin did an about-face, took a couple of steps, opened the door to the Copper Cauldron, and ushered us in.

We found Renkar and Hanali inside, along with Merle who was speaking to Swift. At our arrival Merle pounced upon Karrin, retrieving Seph from his shoulder perch, meowling and mewing at him before taking him to the kitchen. Renkar stood at our entrance,

"So our Gatehouse team returns! What did you all find out amongst the Bleak Cabal?"

I unceremoniously plopped my lanky form wearily into a chair. "We stepped in something. And I think it stinks." I replied without thinking, then looked around and tried to manage an almost contrite look.
"Sorry, don't know the protocols yet." I mumbled, raising my hand to indicate Karrin.

Karrin just looked at me sharply, then barked like a drill instructor again,

"Naridre and Drazek report," Karrin ordered, "Naridre, tell us about Derioch's deal, Drazek tell us about our discovery in the alley."

Nari stepped forward, looking at her hands. Her voice was quiet but audible as she spoke. "We arrived at the Gatehouse without incident on the way. A Bleaker that Karrin and I know, by the name of Hlar, directed us to speak with Derioch in Records. We went there and Derioch made a show of going on break in order to speak with us outside in the orchard. Their faction is having trouble solving a mystery. 'Barmies' in the madhouse district and the Hive are being 'penned in the dead book.'"

There was a flash of anger in her eyes as she says this, and her voice grew stronger for a moment, before fading back to its normal near-whisper. "Derioch agreed to help us find information about Elioch in exchange for our help finding out as much as we can about what is hunting people in the Hive." Nari then stepped back and tried to become invisible once more. Karrin nodded.

Renkar nodded, steepling his fingers.
"It is usual to have a little back and forth for information. Thank you. Excellent report Naridre."
"Well, if we are advancing to a murder rather than a missing person, I should probably notify Mr. Ironfist tomorrow. I'm sure he'll want confirmation one way or another. If you want, you can meet with him in the Before Peak when I talk to him."

Drazek raised an eyebrow and tilted his head to the side at Karrin's command. He stared at her silently, trying to get her to blink. She finally did, But I think it was because she was confused why he wasn't talking, not because she couldn't have beat him. Drazek took a swig from a flask when she did blink. Chuckling to himself he turned to Renkar.

"Wasn't any magic 'cept what Justin there found on the corpse. No one on the roofs, and if there was a witness, he sure as h@ll hauled a$$ right quick. We're dealin' with somebody who works quick and clean, a pro."

I leaned forward, "There was a magic resonance still on the body when we found it. But no marks. It was unusually difficult to ID, but I'd say it was either Necromancy, or a Mind-affecting Enchantment. Which is odd, because normally those two types of magic are very easy to tell apart. Either way, I'd guess we're looking at a spell I've never seen in action. But I thought I heard the guy screaming about 'shadows' before we found him." I explained.

"He was screaming in terror. I believe that he did mention shadows," Naridre piped up, then did her best to fade back into the background.

Bethany ruffled her wings, drawing eyes towards her. (Particularly Drazek's) "I also clearly heard him call out the name of the Winged Lord. I think he mentioned some other names as well, but I have no idea who or what they are."

I vaguely recalled something about a 'Pazuzu' being some sort of Avian-Winged-Demon-Lord. I presumed this was whom Bethany was referring to. I also made sure to put traveling to Bethany's home world on my 'only if I must' list.

"It was, 'Pazuzu, Orcus, Graz'zt, Demogorgorgon.' Although the last was interrupted by his scream. All lords of one layer of H@ll or another, if I'm not mistaken?” I supplied helpfully. (I'm a wizard. I read.)

"Oh, and also we might have gained the help of an Xaos gang leader,” Karrin said cheerfully. “Goes by the name of Mordrigaarz. He seems to want to catch this killer as well. His group of toughs showed up almost as soon as we found the body but we were able to convince them that we weren't worth fighting with! Anyways he seemed to warm up to us, but his gang didn't seem as impressed, so we might get support from him but I wouldn't trust any them any further than I could throw them."

I figured Karrin likely could actually throw a couple of the gang members. At the same time. She clearly was speaking figuratively.

Isaac perked up, "Shadows, you say? Well, that would explain dying without a mark on him. So we have a few ideas: could be the shadows or a shadow fiend are preying on the barmies for... sustenance or something or just out of spite. They're perfect targets: only the Bleakers care about 'em, and they've got their hands full most of the time when they aren't going barmy themselves. The other possibility is some powerful wizard or cleric that could summon something to do the deed for them."

Isaac looked at me and Merle, who had returned from the kitchen with a plate of scraps for Seph. "Would that leave anything behind for you bloods to see? I still think our best lead may well be to work on Toranna, the Dustman in charge of what the Collectors take in. Bloody convenient that she'd have a quick answer for us like that, what with all the deaders coming in off the streets. And, you know, the more I think about it, the stranger it is. It's easy enough to stab a berk in the back: assuming it's not free-willed shades of some sort, why go to all the trouble of using all that magic? Especially on a large number of barmies. If you want my gut reaction, someone wants the bodies whole or they're trying to send a message to the Bleakers."

I shrugged my shoulders, "Well, whatever it was did leave a signature. I just couldn't tell, exactly, what it was. Your Dustman lead seems like the best to me so far. It is odd that a dead guy pulled from an alley would be so easily and completely identified. As for the rest, even shades. shadows and specters leave marks when they attack. Not big gaping wounds like a sword, but marks that can be seen. This guy was untouched."

I sat back and rubbed my temples. I like a good mystery, but this one was already giving me a headache. "Message to the Bleakers? For what purpose? From what I'm told the Bleakers don't have anything that anybody wants! Wait,... “ I quickly sat up straight, my head ache forgotten. “What did you say? 'Someone wants the bodies'?"

I stroked my stubbled face in a gesture reminiscent of my old favorite professor. I needed to grow a beard. No. A goatee. I already had a good start for it.

"OK. I don't like making up theories without facts, it makes it too easy to miss the real clues when you find them, but what if,... What IF it IS the bodies that they were after? Knocking off crazy people who live in alleys is a good way to acquire several bodies quickly without raising too much notice or suspicion. Especially in the hive. They want the bodies intact, so they use a spell that kills but leaves the bodies untouched. Just because I don't recognize the spell doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It just means I haven't come across it yet."

"So,... they send a killer-spell to knock off people not likely to be missed, but then why leave the body? Unless you KNOW the body will come to you anyway,... the deadheads? Your Dustman suspicion suddenly looks more promising." I said with a raised eyebrow at Issac.

Isaac smiled almost kindly. "Well, mate, I wouldn't go thinking the Bleakers don't have anything someone wants. I heard a berk once say that genius and madness are two sides of the same coin; with enough barmies you're bound to have a few coves worth their salt. There could be all kinds of reasons or vendettas. If they've got a spot in the House of Speakers, they've got political clout, allies and enemies. Including the Godsmen. That's how power's divided: factions perform a service in Sigil, they get a voice in the Hall of Speakers to decide how to run things. Taking care of the dead and the barmy or policing the streets, running the courts; it's all the same. They do a job, their beliefs draw enough members, they have power. But you're right; Toranna is the most concrete lead we have right now." He agreed.

Renkar looked thoughtful, nodding but offering no comment to our discussion. (He HAD hired us for this sort of thing after all, I suppose.)
"Well it seems as if you have had a fruitful first day in the Hive. I would say you have earned some rest. I am going to arrange for Mr. Ironfist to come for a meeting next Peak, if any of you wish to speak with him. For now, get some rest, we can hit the Hive again tomorrow after we talk with our patron."
Renkar ordered another ale, and told the Copper's owner that he would cover dinner.

My stomach growled once more. "Right on cue." I muttered with a wry grin. I raised my hand to get Ramona's attention, and ordered a large meal which I enjoyed with gusto.

Karrin ordered 'her usual', and told Isaac if he didn't mind waiting she would like to go to Caritas (the aforementioned musical pub Isaac and friends had been heading for when we spotted them.) Karrin's 'usual' turned out to be the equivalent of 4 or 5 (or maybe 6) meals. And she ate it. All. I have NO idea where that tiny tiefling managed to put all that food.

Over dinner, I noticed that Seph had exceptionally good manners for a kitten. I got the impression that if he had thumbs he would have been using silverware.

Renkar chatted with us as we ate, gathering details and information, and told us he would meet us at the Silver Rose with the client at noon, er, 'Peak'. Most of the others all decided to go to Caritas with Isaac, both for entertainment and possible info-digging, with Swift and Merle opting to stay behind to run 'errands'. I got the impression it was going to be a different kind of 'girls night out'. Swift looked like she had places to go and things to do. I felt sorry for the guy. Or at least for the guy who got in her way.

I patted my full belly and thanked Ramona with a wink. I was in no danger of beating Karrin's plate-cleaning record, but I had eaten more than any of the others. (In my defense, I HAD skipped breakfast AND lunch that day!) I decided to join the group going to Caritas. I hadn't gotten to get out much since trying to make a living in this crazy circular city. And traveling with a large, well-armed and,... interesting,... group like this would be safer. And interesting.

Wow. And I thought MY job wasn't boring! ;P

Drogeney wrote:
Hmmm, good point, maybe start as an sylph and possibly evolve into a djinni one day, or a suli to become a janni. very fun idea, I like it.

Nice. Very cool.

You guys are gonna have fun! ;)

Very Cool Monkey! ;)

Guy Humual wrote:
ooh, any possible cross overs between games? That would be fun, the old guard meeting the new team at some point.

Is it sad that THIS is the first thing I thought of too?!? ;P

If not 'Cross-overs' per se, perhaps an occasional cameo? :)

Mark Thomas 66 wrote:
How can you not love a character that refers to mages as finger wigglers? lol


True, that's a +1 ;)

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Treppa wrote:
Original look was sort of this and it's now kind of this. But not so crispy. So, improvement. I guess.

Oh cheese!

I seriously need to stop posting at/after midnight.

I seriously thought that was actually a picture of your finger for a moment!

(Yes, I should have known better,...) ;P

I'm going to bed now. Another long day at work tomorrow.

Good Night Treefortians!

I've noticed that there certainly is no lack of interest in PbP's, we gots to get our gaming fix after all! ;P

Good luck with your Hell's Rebels SS. ;)

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here's something that I (hope) will cheer you up Pat!
(and everyone else)

Justin's Story Chapter 4, Part 1 "We're off to see the Barmies!"


Oi, sorry to hear that Pat.
I hope it's nothing serious.

I've been getting lots of that from my doctor too. Nothing serious, but I can't seem to make time to actually do anything about it so 'it' will go away either. ;P

I might just buckle down and do what I need to JUST to stop going to the doctor every three months! :/

Glad your finger is 'going down' Treppa. Hope it gets better quick!
(I'm guessing that Crinkle-cut fry is better than it looked previously?) ;P

FYI- Justin's Story- Chapter 4 (Part 1) is now up!

"We're off to see the Barmies!"

I actually have part 2 already, but the entire thing was long (almost 23 pages with all the spacing) and I'm trying to edit/proofread, but my eyes are getting blurry. (Lack of sleep AND old glasses) ;P

So part 2 will post soon, either later tonight, or after I get off work late tomorrow.

Enjoy! :)

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow. It takes time to wade through all of this (great!) stuff! ;P
At least this time it was more than 2 pages! :)
6 pages, to be exact. I am now noting the Thread Page numbers at the top of the journal entries for reference to those interested.

I'm SLOWLY getting the hang of it, Which parts to quote verbatim, which to edit slightly, and which parts to make my life easier by simply re-telling that part as a new narration /summary of the action. :)

You may notice some, slight, adjustments between 'reality' (the PbP thread) and Justin's Journal entries. Mostly rearranging of posted conversations to make more sense due to quotes/replies/etc. But occasionally I made some character choices, and while Justin has a great memory, he does tend to recall things in a more favorable light for himself. ;)

Thank you for your patience, Please enjoy Justin's Story, Chapter 4- Part 1


Justin's Story – Chapter 4
'We're off to see the Barmies!'
(Thread Page 66-71 )
(Thread Pages 66-68)

After a brief, awkward moment shuffling outside the Silver Rose offices, we started walking, (Well, Bethany flew, lucky bird), heading towards the urban wasteland known as the Hive. Since our two destinations weren't that far apart in the grand scheme of Sigil's layout, we decided to stick together for now. Safety in numbers and all that.

We exited the Market Ward, where the afternoon (After peak?) shopping crowds were the smallest I had ever seen them, meaning just shy of complete chaos. We passed through the Nobles and Court Districts, gradually loosening up as we, (some of us at least), began to chat to pass the time while walking.

We passed through the Holy Quarter, and I saw the roofline of the temple of Zeus a street or so over. The street we followed Issac and Karrin down had another large temple bearing a sunburst symbol in need of a whitewash and some other structural love. In front of it a rather ragged priest was warning a very small, disinterested, crowd about the dangers of abandoning some power named 'Pelor' to follow the 'upstart Dawnflower'. From there we entered meatmarket square, which was filled with smells that made my tummy rumble. Again. I had slept through breakfast this morning, and apparently I was going to miss lunch too.

We passed through Swordhold, drawing curious stares from other groups similar to our own, Probably adventurers. One Particular group, consisting of three elves, a dwarf, a Githzeri and a beholder surrounded by a dozen whizzing ioun stones, seemed particularly,... confident. They were all chatting amongst themselves when we spotted each other. Our groups prudently decided to traverse on opposite sides of the street, keeping a wary eye on each other.

When we entered the Foundry District Issac smiled, from his comments this is his home turf. He seemed happy as he inhaled deeply. The rest of us just coughed a lot. Passing the Gear Street area we saw a crowd watching someone operate a large device that looked like a mechanical lobster. I was interested, but I was also on the clock. Maybe next time. We traversed the Hellgate District as quickly as we could, (It is rumored to be home to more portals to the Lower Planes than the rest of Sigil combined.) And before long we had located Gramercy street, along one edge of the Grey District, home of the Mortuary and where Issac's team hoped to gather information from the 'Dustmen'. Not too much farther down the road was the 'Gatehouse', entrance to the Madhouse District. My lucky destination.

We stopped in front of 'The Gathering Dust', one of the many bars supposedly popular with the Dustmen in this district. I felt my usual smirk taking it's accustomed spot on my face.

'Great. THEY get to chat up the locals from behind a nice mug of beer, and I get to talk to crazy people. My days just keep getting better.' I grumbled to myself. I managed to keep (most) of the snark out of my voice as I asked the group when we planned to meet up later. Issac suggested getting out of the District before dark, and meeting back at the Silver Rose. Merle suggested sending Seph with our group so we might have limited contact. Neither she nor Seph looked particularly thrilled at the prospect. But it was a good idea.

Issac said, “Sending your friend Seph sounds like a good idea to me, but that's up to you, Merle. Best of luck with the Bleakers; try not to catch a case of the crazies."

So Merle Handed Seph over to Karrin, and the young feline assumed a perch on Karrin's armored shoulder. I got the distinct impression that he wasn't as comfortable as he had been previously.

As Issac's group, (or as I had started to think of them, 'The Lucky B@$tard$'), Headed towards the pub, I called after them, "I've heard a little bit, but no one's bothered to enlighten me. Who are the 'Dustmen' any,...way." I trailed off as Isaac opened the door to the pub, and I caught a glimpse of the clientele.

“Ah, Hades. Nevermind.” I muttered, no longer nearly as interested in the pub-crawlers good fortune as I was a moment ago. I recognized the grey-cloaked forms of those within. These were the generally unhappy people who played with the dead people. And sometimes the Undead people.

Issac chuckled good naturedly at my response. "A little barrel of laughs, each one of them. Of course, a few barrels of manic cackling is mostly what waits for you ladies and lads, so I'd call it a rather even assignment."

We nodded at each other, and Merle and Swift followed Issac into the Dust while the rest of us turned to Karrin and the small elf girl.

'What was her name anyway? It's like if I'm not looking at her, she wants to disappear. Nari? Yes.' I mused before smiling broadly at Karrin.

"So, you two have the contacts. I guess that makes you the leader of this little expedition. Ready when you are. After you ladies!' I said with with a half-bow and outstretched arm.

Karrin, Nari, Drazek and I started walking as Bethany took to the dingy skies once more. We headed out towards the Zaddfum Trestle and the Ditch. The rotten-clam stench of the Ditch hit me like a physical blow as we crossed the span. I was suddenly glad I had an empty stomach.

Once we cleared the worst of the 'Trench-Stench', Karrin stopped and turned to face us. She stood with her feet apart, her hands on her hips, and straightened up to her full height. A little less than five and a half feet tall.

"Alright everyone," Karrin said, doing a fine imitation of what most folks think a drill instructor would talk like. "I'm going to level with you: I'm not much of a talker or a leader-er, but it seems that I'm the one that's got the most mercenary experience and the one that knows the cage the best . . . not sure what Renkar was thinking, but we're just checking out my contacts at the soup kitchen and at the church and that's kinda a soft ball mission. But I'm not taking any chances! If we do run into trouble we better figure out what each of us can do so we can figure out a strategy. Naridre Is a caster after a fashion. I'm a masher, so I'll form the front line, Naridre should form up somewhere behind me, seems easy enough, now do we have a healer or a flanker/skirmisher or a stealth expert?"

Drazek spoke up, (MAN that guys voice gives me the creeps!) "Front line fightin' or pickin' 'em off at range are just as easy to me. And trust me I got a weapon when I need it. If we need tactical I can handle elevation, and I reckon with the quiver and wings, Bethany here'd make a damn good skirmisher." Drazek volunteered, pointing to Bethany keeping pace above us.

Drazek looked at me directly, a not-so-subtle challenge in his gaze.

I returned Drazek's gaze with half-lidded eyes and a raised eyebrow. One side of my mouth turned upwards of it's own volition, I swear.

"I can handle myself in a, brawl, if needed." I replied evenly, my left hand idly resting on the pommel of my Cold Iron longsword. My stressed inflection of 'brawl' left no doubt as to my opinion of that pastime.

"Given foreknowledge and preparation, I can prepare for almost any eventuality. Since arriving here I generally keep a charm ready that allows me to understand and speak any language, as well as a protection spell or two. And I usually prep a spell or two that can summon creatures to assist if needed. But my specialty is,..." the other side of my mouth turned up to join the first.

"Blasting. I'm h@ll at blasting."

I nodded slightly to Drazek, as if to say, 'your turn'.

I saw Drazek's eyes flicker to my sword, and he flinched. Just a small shudder. That confirmed my suspicions that he was a Warlock. Cold Iron was rumored to interfere with their abilities, due to their ties to infernal powers. "If this place is as dangerous as they say, I'll show you mine soon enough." He replied coolly.

I raised an eyebrow. I was getting pretty good at that. “Show me a target. Unless it's big AND fireproof, you won't need your,... weapon.” I smiled with genuine humor. I thought that I, might, just actually like this fellow.

Karrin just looked at the both of us, Nari standing behind her with her eyes wide. Then Karrin shook her head, turned on her heel, and began marching on, muttering to herself. I thought I caught ',,...' and ',...just answer the question,'... 'is that hard?,...'

Drazek and I looked at each other, then hurried to catch up. I actually felt a little bad for falling prey to testosterone- laden macho-ism. But, there was NO way I was going to lose a game of 'my magic is bigger than yours' to a warlock. Not happening.

Past the Zaddfum Trestle was the Madhouse District. The first decayed tenements of the true Hive Ward began to lurch skyward like so many upraised claws. The persistent fog thickened as the smoke from dozens of garbage fires in the Hive thickened the rainy mist to a pelting, stinging blast. I raised my hood higher on my head. Not long after we saw the large, squat form of the Gatehouse before us. Crowds of obviously poor folk were all headed that way, looking for a place to crash or a free bite I guess. They saw us and we were instantly bombarded from all sides. Pleas for money, food, and other, more unusual cries for assistance and crazy-fueled proclamations rose rapidly until Drazek gave them a stare.

I should say, 'Until Drazek gave them THE stare'. I'm not sure what he did, exactly, but his eyes flashed, the shadows around him deepened, and I think he may have growled. Our path was immediately cleared of all but the craziest of the crazies. Of course that ONE was pretty persistent.

This lone remaining fellow followed us as we approached the Gatehouse, telling us a most unlikely story about how they drilled a hole in his head and 'hit me wif' light'nin!'. To be fair, he DID have a wicked looking, half healed stitched wound on his forehead. But still, I found his tale unlikely.

Nari, however, seemed to be drawn to help the poor fellow. She had tried to vanish behind Karrin when all of the others had gathered around us, but for this guy she came out like a protective mother hen.

"I'm sorry it was so awful," she said softly, barely more than a whisper. "Is there anything that I can do to help? Would you like to go to the Gatehouse? Maybe they can help you."

This was not what the crazy man wanted to hear. He began crying hysterically, “I don't need to go to the Gatehouse! The Doctor said I'm cured! I'm cured!”

He kept repeating 'I'm cured' hysterically until a man in chainmail approached and gently lead him away. “Don't worry miss, we'll take care of him.” The man told Nari as he escorted the crazy. Nari whispered a barely audible “Thank you” before retreating once more to Karrin's shadow.

I just shook my head. My own feelings were somewhere between Drazek's obvious disdain and Nari's pity. “If HE'S cured, then I'm a Pit Fiend.” I muttered. I heard Drazek chuckle behind me as we followed Karrin the rest of the way to the Gatehouse unmolested.

The Gatehouse is hard to describe (like the rest of Sigils architecture if your from a 'normal' world.) It is a huge, open-roofed Tower, at least 15 stories tall, but shaped more like an arch, with 5-story wings radiating out from the central tower in a sunburst pattern. And of course the requisite spikes and gargoyles are there too. It's like there's a law for them or something.

There were several lines of people there, some waiting in soup lines, some seeking shelter, and some just looking lost. Karrin had mentioned that she volunteered here sometimes, as did Nari I think. I hoped they knew where to start looking. Because if we had to do a search crazy-by-crazy, I was gonna be crazy before we were done!

I had no sooner thought this to myself when Nari gave a small smile and waved at a particularly large tiefling with an entire crown of horns on his head. I thought this was an odd reaction for a girl who had been quietly trying to disappear since I met her today.

“Do you know him?” I asked Nari, indicating the large tiefling.
"Because if you do, we should start by asking him. One thing I know about places like this, trying to get information from people behind desks is like pulling teeth from a dragon. While it's alive."

Nari blushed. She actually looked at me when she spoke, even though she didn't look me in the eyes. "Actually they're very kind and helpful here," she says softly. "I met Hlar when I was here before, visiting my teacher. He has the forgetting sickness."

I mumbled something conciliatory. (Hey, up til now I hadn't had much practice, OK?) I think she muttered a thanks in return. (Wow. I'm really off to a good start with THIS young lady),...

Seph, on Karrin's shoulder, seemed to be trying to communicate with the warrior. The little fella was meowing a lot. But she was deep in her own little world. And I don't think she speaks cat.
It seemed to be Drazek's comment of, “So. What's the next move Red?” That snapped Karrin out of whatever thoughts she was wandering through. She looked up, saw H'lar, and made her way straight towards him as if he wasn't surrounded by poor, and possibly insane, Sigilites.

"Hello Hlar," Karrin said brightly,

H'lar stood up from the group of children that surrounded him. “Hello Karrin, Naridre. Are you here to visit Majeed?” He asked, but Karrin was already talking.

"Sorry for not saying hello just now, we're on a job and I was sort of wrapped up in my thoughts. We gotta find this guy who's in the hive somewhere and we got next to nothing to go on. Worse he might be not quite right in the head . . . all loopy and stuff, and although some might think that'd make him easier to find, I think it's gonna make him harder to find cuz most people see right through the crazies like they just don't exist or something. Anyways we're gonna try asking over at the Gatehouse to see if he was spotted there but I think if we're being paid to do this job our employer probably already tried there. That would be too easy. Still we got nothing it's a cold trail and getting colder.”

"Oh wait," Karrin says, "I'm really sorry for wasting your time, you don't need to know this stuff. Anyways I guess it doesn't hurt asking. Do you know a squinty white haired fellow by the name of Eliath do you?"

Wow. Either Karrin REALLY trusted this guy. A lot. Or she was a dimmer candle that I had originally thought.

H'lar frowned as Karrin's words spilled out. “I haven't seen this Eliath. I am sorry Karrin.” He paused, perhaps troubled by the looks on Karrin's and Nari's faces.

"Well, you could talk to the factotum running Records and Inprocessing today, Derioch. She's over at Records now I think. Just tell her I sent you over and you should be OK. I'd accompany you, but I am doing lessons for some orphans right now." H'lar indicated the dozen ragged children by his side. They all had a lean, hungry look. And several were eyeing our pouches and my coat pockets.

Seph mewed sadly. Karrin made a face, and then reached into her belt pouch. She pulled out some food. And then some more. Far more than should have fit into a regular pouch. (This was my first observation of Karrin's 'Snack bag'.) She handed the children some bread, cheese, and a couple of apples. "There ya go kids," Karrin said. "We'll go over with you Hlar, whenever you're ready."

The children fell on the proffered rations, eating like a pack of starveling wolves. They called out “Fank Yew Mif!” with full mouths.

H'lar smiled. "Oh no need to wait on me. I've got another few hours with the young'uns. Just go over to Records, ask for Derioch, tell her I sent you over, an' she'll give you the straight chant."

H'lar smiled even wider. (Sort of unsettling, with his looks. And all those teeth.) "Thank you for sharing your rations with the children Karrin. It's hard with all the mouths to feed to get them as much food as we'd like."

I was smiling, lopsidedly I'm pretty sure, at the kids antics. I caught Nari looking at me and quickly replaced it with my raised eyebrow and customary smirk. “What?!” I asked, just a trifle too defensively.

'Methinks someone doth protest too much!' Sang my annoying and usually accurate inner voice.

'Oh,... Shaddap.' I told my inner voice firmly.

Nari smiled tentatively at me. I cleared my throat self-consciously, and turned to H'lar.

“Thanks for your help.” I nodded to the large tiefling, then pulled my hood up higher on my head as I turned to follow Karrin.

I swear I could feel Drazek's smirk on my back.

Turned out that Karrin and Naridre knew about where the records office was. Nari's friend Majeed was hospiced near there. At Records there was a line (Big surprise!) but it really wasn't bad. Before too long we were at the desk with a black clad, bored looking human asking if he could be of assistance.

Karrin, being blessedly brief, said she was looking for Derioch, and made sure to mention H'lar. The man nodded and said he'd fetch her. A few minutes later a middle-aged woman with a scar across her lip dressed in dark-colored robes approached. She looked unhappy, but as far as I could tell, that's fairly par for the course in the Gatehouse.

"I'm Derioch, what can I assist you cutters with?" She asked wearily, but politely.

Karrin glanced at us, then back to Derioch, "Yes, I certainly hope so, we're looking for a fellow by the name Eliath and Hlar said you were the one to speak too."

Derioch frowned. "I assume he was barmy? I can research his name, see if we have any info on his whereabouts..." She trailed off, then looked about sharply and leaned in closer. "Can I ask you a question? Did he disappear unexpectedly?" She asked in a near-whisper.

Karrin nodded, leaning in herself. "I think so, what we don't know is if it was of his own choosing or not."

Derioch turned and called over her shoulder, “I'm taking a break cutters. Be back in a trice.” She came from behind the counter to join us. The scar on her face made it look like she was grinning on one side, but the other side was pulled down in a permafrown. She asked Karrin if we had time to talk privately, in a whisper we could barely hear. Clearly she did not want anyone overhearing.

Karrin picked Seph from her shoulder and held him in her arms, scratching his head. “You bet.” She said to the cat. “Anywhere you want to go.” Seph batted Karrin's fingers, indicating she should continue the head-scratching.

Derioch nodded. "Let's take a walk in the courtyard out back. Follow me."

Derioch lead our group down through a hallway that opens out to a nicely-kept multi-acre courtyard wedged between two wings of the Gatehouse. Seeing orchards of fruit trees and sweeping vegetable plots in the heart of the Hive was a shock. Residents in cheap burlap johnnies and old clothing tended the vegetables and fruit trees under the direction of supervisors in dark-hued clothing. Derioch lead us to a sheltered grape arbor and sat on a stone bench. After brief introductions, she got right down to business.
"I wanted to rattle me bonebox at yeh because I've lately been tasked with summat of grave import to my faction," Derioch began. "For the past few months, a lot of barmies in the Madhouse district, an' as far as I can find, all over the Hive have turned up penned in the dead book. Naturally, we don't like bashers wot scragg defenseless folk. A leatherhead wot preys on the weak is the lowest form of slaad sucker in me book."
Derioch paused, obviously upset. "Unfortunately we've been rolling snake-eyes when it comes to finding whoever likes killing barmies. So I'm going to offer yeh a deal."
Derioch leaned closer. "I'll do all I can wif me lads ta see if we can find your Eliath, an' you keep an' eye on the streets for anyone wot looks out of place bangin' around the Hive. You find any chant or darks, yeh come lookin' fer me. I'll leave word at the Records office they're to track me down if yeh come back. Fair deal?"

I was pretending to be interested in the activities of the orchard-tenders as Derioch spoke. Since our new friend seemed somewhat nervous. (which I thought unusual in one's own 'home turf' so to speak) I looked around for anyone taking an unusual interest in our chat. No one was paying us the slightest bit of attention. There wasn't even anyone near enough to try and hear what we were talking about. Derioch had picked the perfect location to hold a private conversation.

I looked at the others. Nari's eyes were wide, Drazek and Bethany looked bored, and Karrin looked pensive.

I didn't want to usurp Karrin's 'authority', and I wasn't sure how Renkar feelt about his crew accepting side-jobs, but this is the kind of thing that caught my interest lately. And what can I say? I've recently developed a real soft spot for those unable to defend themselves.

I smiled at the woman as if she had just told an amusing story. I replied casually, "We'd appreciate any help you can give us. Between all of us, I think we know a fair number of people. If we hear of anything, unusual, I'll be glad to let you know." I said with a friendly smile.
I turned to Karrin with the same smile and a look that said, 'agree with me, please?'
Karrin straightened and nodded emphatically.

Derioch sighed. "That's alls I can ask of yeh. I'll have me lads on the lookout for yer friend as well. Do yeh have a description of him?"

I smiled warmly at Derioch. "All we can do is our best. Thank you for your help. Elias is tallish, human. Grey haired. Last seen in the Hive wearing blue robes and acting,... well, not himself. Which is why we decided to check here."

Derioch nodded, said she had to close up her office, and escorted us out. We wound back up at the Gatehouse courtyard. There were fewer folks left in the courtyard, but those brave enough to walk the Hive at this hour were queued up for some black bread and beans at the soup line.

I thanked Derioch as she departed. Then pulled up the hood of my coat with a shiver at the chill that always seems to come rushing along the wheel with the darkness.

"Anybody else heard anything about what Derioch mentioned? “ I asked the others. “People disappearing I mean? I know that there is a certain amount of unsolved disappearances in any large, 'civilized', area. But if it's happening frequently enough to bother someone who works with the poor and deals with it every day, it may be worth checking out."

I looked at the others, my dark eyes shining from beneath my hood. "One or two 'barmies' disappearing or getting killed outright I can accept as coincidental, even if I don't like it. But it happening on a scale large enough to bother a long-term charity-worker? Something stinks. And it isn't just the Hive." I decided firmly.

"I don't like it," Karrin said, without a doubt talking about the possible murderer, "And I don't care what Renkar says, we're going to investigate it. But for now we'll have to return and report what we've found . . . which is nothing I guess. I hate loosing. Let's just hope the others came up with nothing as well.”

"Let's get going," Karrin said, "Everyone stay sharp."

Seph meowled his approval from his perch on Karrin's shoulder.

Bethany asked, "Is it normal for us to accept side jobs while on missions? You mentioned that you don't care what Renkar says, which makes me think no. I obviously don't mind extra if they will get us more coin, but if it will impact on my employment with Renkar then I'm not sure it is a wise decision."

Karrin just looked back with a furrowed brow. And, apparently not having an answer, led the way.

Also not having an answer, I followed. I cast a wary eye over the swiftly growing shadows that seemed to be deeper and more oppressive than the last time I walked the Hive.
Then we heard the scream,...

Seriously., What I got from each character sheet they are both very interesting. And physically competent.
(I think Justin would rather get another sleeper hold from Karrin rather than arm wrestle either of these guys!) ;P

But I think it is only fair to wait until we get a short backstory on both before really comparing.
In THIS game at least, it seem that character really IS part of 'Character sheet'! :)

Looking forward to a difficult decision. ;)

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Oh yeaaaaah,...

I can't wait to get to THAT part of my Journal! ;P


Glad you got it up and running Monkey! :)

I tried to use Vectorworks to make a PbP map once, long ago.
It SHOULD have been really easy.
But for some reason,... not so much,... ?!? ;P

Philo Pharynx wrote:
Philo Pharynx wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:
Are the new characters level 10? Or are NPC classes +1 level when compared to our normal class PCs? Also 182 HP off of 10d10+70? Am I missing something here?

My hit dice go to eleven.

Not really, but I had to say that. It's the double max hp at first level, and I have a class ability that gives me extra hp for psionic feats.

LOL! :)

I'll check it out! :)

Justin likes having meatshi,... er,... Big Friendly Guy to hide behind!


For round two, my summons appears (in the room, top of tunnel, easily in range) and acts, and then I also take my second round action.

I think I found a good one, will post asap,... :)

BTW, If/when I get back upstairs, I have a Stoneskin spell with Karrin's name on it! ;)

Patrick Curtin wrote:
Aranna wrote:
Patrick Curtin wrote:
Aranna wrote:
I'm just starting my 16 hour shift.
Solidarity Sister! *fistbump*


I really am used to double shifts now.

I hear you. An 8-hour shift seems short to me.

What really tear me up is 16 on, 8 off, 16 on. That's a stone b@*%&. This weekend was 8 on, 8 off, 16 on. Not as bad, but oh well.

Ah yes, the good old days, when I WAS paid by the hour! Time and a half rocked!

At one point, we worked so many 80 hour weeks so often that we stopped commenting on it.
When we broke 90-100 hour weeks, THEN we started commenting! ;P

Drejk wrote:
Ooze familiars for everyone!

Ooey Gooie! ;P

Sounds good!

Not that I know, really.

Sorry, :)

Treppa wrote:
I did it! And I found the ** spoiler omitted **

Yeah that's a good one! (Especially down south here)

Another is;

A long day at my job, and no ALCOHOL until after I've posted!


Treppa wrote:
Oh c'mon, Butcher isn't the only writer in the world. ** spoiler omitted **

Oh. Sure. Yeah. I knew that,...

<Secretly plots her demise among the the first to fall to the New World Order of BUTCHER & WHEDON>


I agree with you.
If your all (and mine) table-top/in person personas are anything like our online chatting, this would be the mostest fun group to play with ever! :)


We have gators down south here. I'd much rather be surprised by a sea lion! ;P

Old Wizard story time,
My dad, back when he was young and in the Navy, had a weekend off in Florida. He decided to spend most of one day fishing in an out of the way river/creek, (whatever it was). He caught ONE fish. It was a small, feisty fish that dad said 'tried to eat my line, it looked like was going after me!'
After banging it repeatedly on a nearby rock, the fish was caught.
A young couple (boyfriend and girlfriend) came by about that time, and asked dad if he had any luck. He showed them the fish. They asked what he was going to do with it. he said toss it back in. The guy said he'd take it, and dad gave it to him.

Newspaper, next morning, picture of the couple holding dad's fish.
Headline, 'Unidentified sailor catches Piranha in local river'

Proof that little beasties can surprise you ANYWHERE! ;P

That is,... a very unusual combination. :/

But it worked! ;)

And Karrin IS the thing that people fear!

I just don't think this mummy-guy is 'people' ;P

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Patrick Curtin wrote:
What an excellent day! Sun sand booze and hibachi!❤️

And I am officially jealous! ;P

Glad you had a good day! ;)

It sounds,... awesome,...

Mark Thomas 66 wrote:
Damn you reminded me of how much fun Drazek was lol.

That was the idea! ;)

I can't wait to finish the next chapter, where (among other things) Justin gets to observe Drazek walk up a wall. (For the first time) That internal dialogue should be fun. ;P

Patrick Curtin wrote:
I'm recruiting some meat shield talent. Never fear

Oh I think it's too late for not fearing! ;P

<Sigh> It's only fair I suppose. After all we are known for dishing out stupid amounts of damage (Especially at lower levels, where all my +CL feats really kicked in!)

I suppose it's only fair to remind our PC's that they aren't the only dangerous peeps on the block! ;)

Having said all that,... Justin thinks that having a large, durable Meat Shield to hide behind (Preferably one that can also hit back!) would be awesome right about now! :D

I said this guy was gonna leave a mark,...

I just didn't expect it to be in Karrin's HEAD!

Somebody get that girl some AC! STAT! ;)

Patrick Curtin wrote:
David M Mallon wrote:

I just came up with the best character concept ever.

Can't wait to see it!

Speaking as one of the squishies in said game,...

I can't wait to see it either! :D

Treppa wrote:
Now you're just showing off. :P

Naw,... Nope. Not a bit.

Well,... Maybe a LITTLE bit. ;P

Mostly I'm just saying 'WWBW?'
(What would Butcher write?)

Guy Humual wrote:
Ragadolf wrote:

Oh Karrin! (Guy) ;P

I luv that girl. She cracks me up.

Semi-seriously, how do you make her sound so, natural? Are you a blond IRL? ;)
I have to work HARD to get a PC ramble on, you seem to be able to produce them at will! ;)

Well, the real secret is to realize that Karrin is actually incredibly smart, and so what I do is start with an idea and then think of how I can ramble my way into that idea as if by accident. So in this instance Karrin wants information, she wants to know if there was indeed another god involved here and if this guy can name it. She's also looking to see if this guy will drop any more hints or names. She doesn't mention Tcian Sumere here, even thought it might catch this guy off guard, because she doesn't want him to know that they know. If he turned to mist once he might do it again and warn his fellow cultists.

In the previous ramble Karrin wants to stress that she believes her vision but she's also not looking to sell her friends and compatriots on some easy mission, so the point that there's a good 10% chance that there's a safe fortress in the negative plane is what she's selling and so she works her way towards it, in that speech where she tries to convince everyone that they shouldn't pick on Bethany what she's actually doing is trying to calm everyone down rather then actually help Beth, she makes strong points to start but then pretends to get all scatterbrained towards the conclusion which weakens her statement. This way, the points Karrin makes does stick with the group, but they disregard the source, and seeing as Karrin is clearly scatterbrained they can't even be sure that she'll have the same conclusions if asked again and thus she maintains a level of neutrality.

All illusions about Karrin are thus dispelled.


Or confirmed. ;P

That girl is crazy. Like a fox. ;)

Patrick Curtin wrote:
^Yeah I just got 3 yards of that stuff :D

<Boggles mind>




Patrick Curtin wrote:
Another great narrative retelling! We have such a great ensemble

Aw shucks, thanks. :)

We do, we REALLY do!
Lots of fun PC's and played wonderfully. I spend WAY too much time just re-reading the pages instead of editing/compiling/writing. So much fun.

AND I'm having a REAL problem with editing! (For length) I don't WANT to gloss over anything and say (for example) 'They went to the Dustman pub' because there is SO much wonderful descriptions and interactions, I just want to include it all! o_O

Thanks for the shout out Pat. Glad you like it.
Credit where credit is due. Great thread, great GM, great PC's/Players, worthy of song.

But you'll have to settle for a narrative! ;P

Guy Humual wrote:

I like that Karrin character, something about her seem to tickle my funny bone.

Course it's the likeable ones that always get killed in these types of stories.

Yeah, me too!

I think I'm going to have a lot of fun showing Justin's thoughts on that feisty female. ;)

You think?
I think that anything that can kill Karrin is a truly scary monster. That's what I think!
And Justin agrees! ;P

(Justin has come to the conclusion, mistaken or correctly, that Karrin is an unstoppable force. And he doesn't want to run into anything that can prove otherwise!) o_o

AND new post up over in the 'Justin's Journal' Thread.

I'll just linky HERE for the new page. :)

Chapter 4 (a work in progress) is when we,... <a-hem> Split the party. For the first time.
Just sayin',... ;)

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Ah boy.
I'm being picky. I've been re-editing this next chapter, but I think it's just me now. :P It ran longer than I expected, (14 pages, with lots of spaces between lines and paragraphs) Considering it is only based on 2 pages of game thread.
But it is a GOOD 2 pages! :)

Chapter 4 is a work in progress. Until then; Enjoy.

Here we go,..

Justin's Story- Chapter 3, "A New Beginning" (OR, 'Meet the New Kids')


Justin's Story Chapter 3 – A New Beginning
(Or, 'Meet the New Kids')
(Thread Page 64-65)

I checked my work with the prestidigitation charm in the reflection of the window. Hair presentable, shirt stain free, (if not entirely wrinkle free). Long leather coat cleaned of the morning's dirty rain, nothing ripped or torn. I finished drying my boots with another wave of my hand and a muttered charm. Good enough.

I took a breath, let it out, put on my happy face, and opened the door to the offices of the Silver Rose.

I entered the front foyer accompanied by the tinkle of a tiny bell over the door. I looked at it, then at Hanali, the Assimar I had met the day before, (was it only yesterday?) along with Renkar at the Copper Cauldron. She was sitting behind a small but exquisitely made table of what looked like Darkwood sorting some papers. She was wearing a diaphanous dress and a dazzling smile.

I returned the smile. “Hello Hanali. Nice to see you again. I hope I'm not late?” I asked, a little worried since I didn't see anyone else waiting in the front room.

Hanali put down her papers and stood to greet me. This afforded me a better view of the lovely Assimar and her gauzy gown. I smiled bigger, but managed not to turn it into a smirk.

'DOWN boy! Your in enough trouble for one day. Night. Peak. Whatever.'

I was proud of myself.

“Not at all. Your right on time. Please Justin, head into the exercise area. Everyone's meeting there.” She pointed the way with a gesture that belonged on the dance floor. Oh she's good.

I thanked Hanali politely and made my way into the building. Turns out the offices of the Silver Rose were far larger than the front entrance would lead one to expect. Instead of a couple of rooms, at first glance it looks as if Renkar had managed to acquire a majority of the first floor of the building. Maybe more.

I found the room right where Hanali said it was. I may have been 'on time' (barely) but it turns out I was one of the last to arrive. I ducked my head out of habit and entered the exercise room. (In an effort to save space or materials, the residents of Sigil built fairly low doorways. A real pain in the behind for me personally.) As the name implied the room had a variety of equipment for both personal training and combat practice lining the walls. I saw a gaggling variety of persons already there, eyeing each other speculatively. There were a few females, a male, and one winged female wearing only a slip. The small dragon that I had seen before lay on a large perch, his orange black-striped wings furled.

(Okay, now this following conversation, as well as MOST of ours since then, tends to get rather,... convoluted. We all like to talk first, and it has been a while, so things may have gotten a little jumbled. I'll just put it down as best as I can remember.)

Judging by the way that some folks were clustered and others stood apart, I could tell which were the 'old hands' and which seemed to be newcomers. Like myself. I straightened my coat self-consciously, and joined the loose circle, unabashedly studying them as intently as they were now studying me.

One well armed and armored warrior woman, not large, but she looked self confident, stood on one side speaking quietly with what looked like a young elfin lass practically hiding behind her. Nearby a young female catfolk with a black cat perched on her shoulder (The cat looked like it was barely past being a kitten) stood talking with a very young girl with short black hair who looked barely out of her teens. While talking the female feline kept casting glances at the winged woman, and I swear I saw her lick her lips. It looked like she was thinking 'Mmmm, Chicken.' I wondered what the Harpy thought of that.

Yes, you read it right. Harpy. There was a harpy standing in the middle of the group, wearing nothing but a slip. I was grateful she was wearing that much. On my world Harpies aren't known for their fashion sense.

'Shards and shells! I thought I'd seen a lot since I got here, but cat-people, and a HARPY?!?' I thought, not able to contain my surprised expression.

'What kind of a group have I signed up for?'

At this moment, Renkar entered the room. He looked around, nodding at those who met his eyes, and seemed to be taking a head count. Renkar cleared his throat and the murmuring stopped.

"Good Peak to everyone. I can see that everyone is here, except.."

At that moment a shadowed form entered the room. An eerie aura surrounded the newcomer, as if all the warmth were sucked out of the room. His tall form stood imposing, seeming sharper and more in focus than everything else. Bedecked in black leather he seemed to draw the darkness to him like a lover’s embrace. His long smoke grey hair seemed made of the stuff of shadows, flowing into those of his cloak, his handsome features at once alluring and disturbing in their perfection. His eyes were rings of luminescent white in a sea of black, piercing, accusing, relentless.

Renkar looks over, startled for a bit, then smiled.
"And here he is. Welcome Drazek. Now the group is complete. Welcome, old friends and new, to the Company of the Silver Rose."

When the last guy, 'Drazek', arrived, my attention was drawn like everyone else. I studied the newcomer from under half-lidded eyes. The hairs on the back of my neck standing up straight.

'Warlock. Great. Just. Perfect. Not to be judgmental. I've summoned my fair share of unfriendly extraplanars myself. Just because he made a deal for power doesn't make him evil. But it sure doesn't make him friendly either.' I thought fitfully.

I nodded politely to him, and managed to drag my eyes away from the newcomer who seemed to bring the shadows with him, only to find the cat-lady looking at me from half-lidded eyes. One side of of my mouth twitched upwards in a smirk, and I gave her a half-wave in greeting. I raised an eyebrow as the feline and the young girl exchange purrs and meows.

'The kid speaks kitty?! What is she doing here anyway? She doesn't look old enough to be a mercenary.' I thought looking the pair over.

Renkar reached into a silk bag and pulled out a silver cloak brooch fashioned in the shape of a blooming rose. He held it up for all to see.
"These are our sigil, and help to identify you as under my charge. Please, take one."

Renkar passed the pouch around the room. After everyone had a pin he sat and gestured to the others to do likewise if they wish.
"I wanted everyone to get to know each other a bit, so I'll let you all introduce yourselves. Then I'd like to get right down to business. I have had several inquiries, and I'd like to get your input as to what mission you would like to attempt." Renkar looked around the room, waiting for someone to start.

Drazek simply kicked back in his chair, putting his boots up on furniture not designed for feet, and murmured something about 'Pretty bird' and 'Bad kitty'.

I pulled a chair out from its place along the wall with a foot and flopped my long form down into it with about as much grace as a tired hound. I wondered who would volunteer to go first. I mean I was never shy, but with this group, I wasn't about to go first.

The first to go was the slightly built warrior woman. As she stepped forward I could see that her skin had a light reddish tinge to it, and she had tiny horns high on her forehead, just peeking out from under her long red hair. The tiny horns were capped with silver. She was a tiefling.

"Hello everyone," she said, "My name is Karrin Kind and I'm a duskblade. That's sort of a masher and blaster rolled into one awesome package. I can blast stuff at range or I can chop stuff at close range and channel magic right through my weapon. I was one of Renkar's first employees and I can show people the ropes if you want. I don't know much about Sigil, or the cage as we call it here, I've only been here for a little over a month, but I do know about mercenary work and that kind of thing. I've been doing that for a while now and I'm real good at it."

Karrin moved to sit down, when she suddenly remembered something:
"Oh ya, and this is my Axe," She said as she drew her massive great axe. It seemed far too large for her slight if sturdy frame, but she handled it as if it weighed no more than a dagger. Karrin's eyes seemed to focus on the crystal blade as it glowed a soft blue, "Ferissirion. Neat huh? Anyways I think that's about it. I'll let everyone else have a say."

I thought I felt a cold breeze coming from Karrin's direction when the axe glowed blue.

Karrin stepped back, and said something to the girl still hiding behind her. The girl whispered something that seemed to be a negative. Karrin just smiled, revealing her sharp teeth, and said, “Oh hey. This here is Nari. She's a little shy.” Karrin introduced the elfin lass. Shyness was obviously NOT one of Karrin's weaknesses. She looked around the room, and her gaze fell on me.

What the heck? I stood up, (Drazek wasn't the only one who can do tall dark and imposing.)
"Greetings,... all. Names' Justin. Justin Case. I'm a wizard." I smiled at Karrin. "Not the best of two rolled into one, Just the one. But I'm good at what I do. 'Have spell, will travel'." I quipped and sat back down.

I saw the feline lass looking at me. I'm no expert on feline expressions, but I'm pretty sure that she was frowning at me. Or growling. Seeing me looking at her, she stood up straighter.
"I'm Merle and this is my partner Seph" She indicated the black cat on her shoulder.
Seph raised one of his front paws and waved in greeting. Bemused, I found myself waving back.

There was a gentle cough from the tall, lithe man with short brown hair, green eyes, slightly pointed ears and a goatee. He was dressed more like a worker than a mercenary: a simple and oft-mended brown jerkin, pants secured with a belt rife with pouches, well-worn boots on his feet. The only visible weapon on his person was a fine machete-like short sword in a scabbard patterned like a lizard's scales. He looked to be somewhere in his mid to late-twenties, with a boyish smile. He surveyed everyone from a point near the center of the room, leaning on a practice dummy's shoulder like a school chum.

"Well, like I was tellin' Karrin earlier, the name's Isaac." Isaac's voice was a little rough, as if he'd been breathing harsh air or talking loudly for a long time. But his voice was as friendly as the smile he gave.

"I'm from Yggdrasil originally but I've been in and out of Sigil for years. I used to run with the Sirroc'ran Tirraith (I recognized this as Elven, it means: 'The Razor Wind') mercenary company, but things didn't work out in the last year or so. I'm a Godsman, still only a namer, though. As far as what I can bring to the company: I'm a scout, a skirmisher, a ranger, a blacksmith, a locksmith and a trapsmith. Pretty good set of eyes and ears, too, when I ain't running my mouth off!"

He leaned in conspiratorially.
"But if you want the truth? I'm actually a reincarnated kangaroo rat here to scope out your planar society for our eventual rise to power. I'd appreciate it if you would keep it under your hats, though, eh?"
After looking at him as blankly as some of the others at this last statement, I laughed. He smiled back.

The short, dark haired girl also gave a small laugh at Isaac's words and looked him over, with a warm expression and approving eyes.
She paused at something Merle meowed, thinking deeply on it for a moment before looking over the rest of us with a grin. I was not sure this was a 'good' grin.
"I go by many names, but most call me Swift" She purred softly. Leaving her introduction at just that.

The Harpy flexed her wings and drew herself up to seem bigger. Her wings gave her bulk, but she is still quite short compared to everyone but Swift.
Stepping forward, her tiny silk slip slid seductively over her curves and seemed to offer no protection whatsoever. She cleared her throat and announced, In the precise, clipped pronunciation that seems to be the hallmark of 'nobles' no matter what world they hail from, "I am Lady Bethany Archaise, Scion of the Noble House of Vex Archaise, Second House of the Nation of Harmonia. I am new to this City, having only been here for a couple of days. I have taken this position to facilitate my return to my home, as I arrived with nothing but what I carry." She indicated a finely crafted, but apparently empty Quiver nestled between her back and a well cared for Haversack with Bronzewood buckles and fixtures.
"I wish to make it clear that this is not the type of work that I would normally be doing, but I am committed to assisting the Company in any way I can."
With that she steps back, looking around expectantly.

I raised an eyebrow slightly. You could hear a pin drop.

Swift's eyes were on Lady Bethany's equipment, silently appraising the items before lifting her gaze to the harpy's face with a mischievous grin. "Well that was a mouthful, I'm going to call you Bessie" She decides aloud.

A scowl appears on Bethany's face. "My name is Lady Bethany. I will allow you to call me Bethany because we will be working together, and I will even respond to Beth if it is urgent, but I will not answer to 'Bessie'." Bethany declared coldly. I thought I felt the temperature drop again.

All eyes in the room moved back over to Swift.

Swift laughed a little as she observes 'Bessie', playfully braiding her hair as she did so.
"But I think Bessie suits you, besides do you never feel the impulse to be a little less uptight? You may be of noble bearing but right now you're away from that, why cling to all the airs and graces? Right now most of the people in this room really don't care."
She finishes with a shrug before looking to Merle. The two girls exchange purrs and meows.
And I thought I caught Swift giving Drazek the eye. You know. The look that most guys like to get.

Meanwhile, I couldn't help it. I tried, I really did. But I snorted. At least I didn't full out laugh.

"I'm sorry, 'Lady Beth'. But I'm afraid I have to agree with the kid on this one."I said with a nod of my head to indicate Swift.
"No matter how important you are back home, the fact is that nobody here has ever heard of your illustrious place of origin. Just like nobody has ever heard of 'De Academia Illustrious Mysticale', apparently." I used the antiquated, 'official founding' name of my University. I also bit off my statement at the end. Probably a bit harsher than I had intended.

I quickly recovered and tried to smile politely at the harpy,... Bethany. "But like you, I'm also 'more important' where I'm from. And I'm looking for a way back too. So maybe we have something in common?”

Yeah I know. That didn't come out right. But I wasn't TRYING to be a jerk. Honestly.
Trust me. When I'm trying, you'll know.

"Swift I don't think you're being very nice," Karrin intervened, a hint of emotion in her voice, "Not all of us are here of our own free will. The cage is a scary and strange place and some of us cling to our past lives because we keep hope that one day we'll be able to return home. I'm sure it's only good natured teasing but not everyone understands your humor."

Karrin turns to the harpy noble, "I apologize for my companion your grace," Karrin said with an awkward curtsy, (Important safety note for Future Female Adventurers. Armor was not made to curtsy in.) "But Swift is correct in a way, there's no place for the nobility in the sword for hire business. We need to trust everyone in this room with our lives and we can't have preferential treatment for some of our members and not for others, not when we're on the job anyways. You'll need to pull your weight your grace like everyone else. I think respect is earned. If you can accept these facts about the mercenary game then you'll never have any problems from me."

Karrin turned back to the group.
"That goes for everyone in this room. Except maybe Renkar. He's our employer and he knows this business backwards and forwards. If anyone deserves our respect it's him . . . hmmmm, that didn't come out right, what I mean to say is we should all hopefully earn respect but Renkar . . . we all need to prove ourselves to each other but I'd hope that Renkar has already earned that respect by simple virtue of experience and his position as our employer."

I raised an eyebrow at Karrin's little speech. She seemed a little, scatterbrained.
Well-intentioned. But scatterbrained.

Swift shrugged slightly "I suppose I just see things differently. The cage is a scary place so rather than cling to stability I enjoy things as they come, each day could be your last, so live it." She replied with a smile "My comments aren't there to be 'not nice', just me speaking my mind and being friendly. I like the name Bessie.. if not Bessie can I call you Bethy?"

She asked this looking to Lady Bethany once more with a small grin. "I like short names, they work well until I can find a fitting deedname. It's just the way I was raised."

With another shrug she stretched lazily looking over everyone in the room again. She reached into a pouch, pulled out an apple, and placed it on the perch next to the napping miniature dragon.

Bethany scowled again at Swifts reply, then sighed and composed herself. She rolled her shoulders, causing her wings and, um, 'ample pectoral muscles' to both flex in interesting ways.
"Very well. If you must you may call me 'Bethy'." She acquiesced cooly, but without bitterness.

I admit I relaxed visibly. I had half been expecting Swift's friend Merle and 'Bethy' to go at it for a minute there.

Renkar stood up, silently commanding the rooms attention again.
"Thank you. As I have explained to the new folk, we are a specialist company. I am a planar traveler from way back, and I was born and raised among the merchant elite here in the Cage. One thing I always saw as a hazard is that many adventuring companies didn't have enough depth of talent. They would either concentrate on swordplay, or magic, hardly ever both. I decided that with my connections and a good team of adventurers we could all profit."

Renkar paused, glancing around at all of us briefly.
"I have had a few offers lately, and I would like to discuss them with you."

Renkar held up a finger.
"A gentleman by the name of Urgrek of Clan Earthborn has asked if you could accompany him to the city of Deathdelve on the Elemental Plane of Earth. He is taking a shipment of arms to his people and he is wary of attack by the Xorn king. Those who attended Guarsimo's soiree with Hanali last month might remember him. You all certainly made quite an impression on him and his daughter Azania."

He held up a second finger.
"A gentleman named Gedramak Ironfist needs to hire some investigators to find a Hive dweller who has disappeared. This berk, name of Eliath, has some dark that Ironfist is frantic for, an' he's willing to pay top-shelf for it."

And he held up a third finger.
"A strange simian-like cutter name of Charath has asked if we would like to sign on to combat an invasion of his homeworld. I think you might have met him at the soiree as well. His world sounds delightfully exotic, basically a large tree like Yggdrassil."

We all looked at each other for a moment. Merle was the first to speak up.
"Maybe we should go for the second one? I mean finding someone should be easy enough right?"

Isaac piped in, "I'm interested in the first or third. Your first offer sounds more specific, which I like. Easier to figure what we're up against. Did this third fellow say what exactly was invading his homeland?"

Drazek snorted. "So babysitters, bloodhounds or strike squad. I know where my vote's goin'."

"Hmmm," Karrin mused aloud, "The second one is detective work, something I don't think I'd be very good at, but the first and third are my kind of thing, guarding and fighting. The first though sounds like it would be a quick job, maybe kinda easy, and the guy has lots of money and getting in good with him would be good for business. The other could be a long drawn out affair . . . if we can only do one I'd say the first would be my choice. However we got a lot of people now Renkar, maybe we could try the first two, and if everything gets handled expediently we might be able to handle the third as well . . ."

Lady Bethany was obviously considering all three options before replying. Or perhaps she was just trying to make sure she didn't offend anyone by how she responded? Naw. She's royalty.

"The first job sounds easy, but a visit to the Elemental Plane of Earth is not something that appeals to a flier like myself. Opposites if you will. I won't say no outright, but I have my reservations. The second job is more to my liking since I feel that the third job could end up being a long drawn out affair." She still spoke 'properly' (or 'stiffly'), but without any bitterness. Apparently she wasn't one to hold a grudge.

I decided to chime in. Karrin wasn't the only one who wasn't shy.
"Hm. My first pick would be for finding the 'lost' guy. It doesn't sound that difficult, might be a good idea to get to know each other before we tackle anything 'major'. And I have a knack for finding and putting together clues. Unless, of course, he doesn't want to be found?" I looked at Renkar.

"Why does this potential client want him so bad? What kind of info does he have that's so important? Come to mention it. There's a lot of details I'd like on all these. Like who's attacking this kingdom? And why does this arms dealer see the need to hire a specialty service like the 'Rose', instead of using his usual hires to guard what sounds like a standard delivery?"

I realized I was nervously twirling the Silver Rose pin between my fingers. I stopped and looked at Renkar again. “You mentioned that at least two of these potential clients were at a society function not too long ago? I know that a lot of society types mingle at these things. So likely not unusual. I also know that I don't like coincidence. Mainly because I don't believe in it."

I realized I was frowning. I tried to stop. I was way too young for wrinkles.

Merle's fur bristled at my response. Her posture changed. It looked hostile.

(What did I say?!)

Merle said something in kitty-speak to Seph, who responded. Whatever the young cat said to Merle she wasn't expecting it. She lost the attitude and her shoulders slumped. It was hard to tell under the fur, but I think she was blushing.

Drazek just smirked at me. "In my experience, when a lost man don't wanna be found, he ain't real friendly to those who come lookin'. And any man pays to find him, it's 'cause the bastards afraid o' somthin'" His voice was, off. Almost like it was two voices not, quite, speaking in unison. It was slightly disturbing.

"True.” I admitted. I had found THAT much out quickly in Sigil. Very quickly. “And the fact that this client must want the unpleasant something this individual found doesn't make me happier." I chewed on my bottom lip thoughtfully. Bad habit I was starting to pick up. I stopped.

Renkar smiled at me. Probably my verbosity. I do tend to use a paragraph where most folks use a sentence.
" I can provide a bit of extra information about the jobs Justin. First, a trip to Deathdelve isn't as easy as hiring a tout or a courier. There is no direct portal to the burg, and there will be an entire caravan of weapons traveling from the Great Foundry to the Outlands, to a way-world on the Prime and then to Deathdelve. It's a long journey fraught with danger.”

“The missing person is a barmy in the Hive. This might be a little more difficult that it seems. Anyone who has spent any time in the Hive knows it can be an unfriendly place, especially to those asking questions. As to why Ironfist wants this particular fellow, he let it be known that this cutter was once a sage of some sort and that his madness was caused by too close study of unwholesome things. Supposedly he holds some darks that Ironfist covets, but he wasn't about to lay the particulars on the table for me.”

“The third is the oddest. The being Charath as far as I can understand lives on a giant tree, or more of a bush I suppose. His world isn't really a world, more of a collection of immense asymmetrical bushes suspended in an endless sea of air. Lady Bethany, you would definitely be in your element there! Charath and his 'Troop', a word for a clan or nation I suppose, need help fighting an evil force called the Vermin Lord, who commands swarms of both insects and undead from his lair, which I gather is one of these huge bushes, but dead and wrapped in some sort of insect hive.”

Renkar chuckled.
"The whole point of going to the function was to advertise our services Justin! Urgrek came to me because, quote, "Your team seems well-balanced and ready to handle anything." High praise indeed from a Deathdelve Orc! Charath, on the other hand, is looking for mercenaries all about. His people grow exotic spices and plants that are valuable in alchemy. They can pay their bills and if we can assist them I am sure we will be well rewarded, not just in our initial payment."

I felt myself start to blush, but murmured thanks to Renkar for his explanations. OK. I was smarter than the average person. Probably the smartest person in the room. But I was going to have to learn to stop jumping to conclusions. Or stop being so suspicious of everyone and thing. Yeah, right. Stop jumping to conclusions it is.

Harpy Bethany perked up a little.
"I am liking this third job more now. The chance to get out and stretch my wings would be welcome."
Yeah, I guess a flyer used to the actual open skies wouldn't be excited about the dingy thin dirt that Sigil called 'air'.

Swift was scratching Seph under the chin, much to the young cat's delight.
"I think I'd be of most use on the first or second job. I like the outlands.. and then there's the fact I excel at finding interesting things, I'm sure I could extend that to interesting people" She declared with a little self-satisfied smirk.

My eyebrow arched again. I felt my own smirk coming on as another puzzle-piece clicked into place.
'Ah. A 'Collections Specialist'. NOW at least I know why she's here. She still looks too young though.'

Isaac scratched his goatee a bit, in thought.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but it seems like a fair number of us haven't spent a lot of time in The Cage. Seeing as the Hive is a short walk away, and a short walk to the Temple district in case of emergency... let's do the second job. We can rattle our bone boxes while we walk, find this addle-cove and those of us that ain't well-lanned yet can get a sense of how things are in this madhouse. From the bottom up, as it is."

"Though, at the same time, looking for someone in the Hive is sort of like trying to find a needle in a haystack, that only LOOKS like it's full of hay, but is instead full of rusty nails, razors and meathooks. I'm sure it'll be fine, though."

"Great.” I managed to draw the word out sarcastically, almost painfully long.

“I'll pack the disinfectant. And mix some Tetanus antidotes,... It'll be fun!" I said with a big, sarcastic smile. But I pinned the Silver Rose onto the wide lapel of my long leather coat. Right next to the small gem that was sewn into the collar.

"Alright Renkar, so who are we looking for?" I tried to muzzle my sarcasm. But in truth I was fully engaged for the first time since the meeting started. I had a problem to solve. This I knew how to do.

Renkar cleared his throat and the chuckling subsided.
"We would be looking for a cutter name of Eliath. The chant our prospective employer Gedramak Ironfist gave me was that Eliath was an arcane researcher working for Gedramak on a project. He didn't feel like sharing the dark of what happened, but Eliath ended up losing his marbles and wandering down to the Hive before anyone knew what was up with him. From there he vanishes.”

“Ironfist said Eliath is a short wiry cutter who's missed a few too many meals. Last thing anyone saw him in was some threadbare blue wizard's robes. His hair is white and he squints a lot because he's nearsighted."

Renkar paused, considering his words I guess. (I should probably learn that trick at some point.)

"Now if we do take on this job, I will need those who are the most familiar with Sigil to be the front line. The Hive isn't a safe place to go thundering through without a care."

Renkar looked at Karrin,
"Miss Kind I know you have been doing charity work in the ward. Perhaps if you started with some of your contacts down there?"

“You got it boss!” Karrin agreed enthusiastically, throwing Renkar a jaunty salute.

Renkar laughed. "That's the spirit Karrin! We'll find this Eliath in no time!"

Renkar looked at the rest of us.
"If any of you know any Xaosmen, Dustmen, Doomguard or Bleakers, it never hurts to pump them for information.”

“I could ask the Bleakers.” The elfin Nari said softly. Then she seemed to realize that she had spoken out loud, blushed furiously and went back to studying her feet behind Karrin's armored back. I began to wonder if this quiet lass had the nerve to be an adventurer. Much less a mercenary. Even one with Renkar's standards.

Renkar smiled at the shy lass. "Excellent Naridre! They are the most important faction to ask since they do so much with the barmy population in the Hive."

The 'Boss' looked around once more. “So, Should I notify Mr. Ironfist we are taking the job? Or would you like me to set up a meeting so you can question him further?" Renkar asked the room.

We all looked awkwardly at each other.

Drazek snorted. “Well that's that then. When do we start rattlin' cages?” He asked, pinning a Silver Rose onto his own collar.

Renkar grinned and spread his hands. “I will give Ser Ironfist his confirmation. We can start anytime. In fact, I would encourage you all to go together this Afterpeak, for safety. I'd recommend you be out of the Hive by Antipeak. The Dustmen's hours are not a happy time in the Hive."

Drazek snorted louder, "Do I look like I'm afraid o' the dark?" He sneered.

Renkar actually frowned at the warlock this time. "No Ser Drazek, you do not. But, are you smart enough not to go traipsing around one of the most dangerous urban landscapes this side of the Abyss after Antipeak with little or no experience?" He asked pointedly.

" I s'pose I am." the Warlock grinned at Renkar's reprimanding tone.

Issaac raised his hand politely to gain Renkar's attention. "This Gedramak Ironfist: what kind of chant do you have on him? What does he do? Is it possible that whatever darks this barmy's got in his brain-box he wants to keep from Ironfist? Does Ironfist have competition, someone that maybe would've given this Eliath a better offer? Got to be a reason he gave his employer the laugh, even after he went barmy."

Renkar seemed to consider his answer. "It's hard to tell what he does. I think he is an adventurer looking for a specific item or location. In the interview I had with him he claimed client privelidge with me, so I didn't get a lot of darks from him. I got the feeling that Eliath was a portal researcher. It's a common thing in the Cage, as the portals shift and change constantly, old ones closing, new ones opening. Ironfist claims that Eliath was spotted in the Hive in the Madhouse District acting barmy right after he dropped off the project. Is it a scam? Maybe. Having visited the Madhouse District I would say it's a bit far to take a scam to wander those streets for any length of time."

Issaac nodded. "Well, that seems to pretty conclusively lead to the Bleakers for a start. Probably best if I keep my mouth shut when we go for a visit. From there, we can probably figure out the next step and if we need to split up or what have you."

Ah yes, I was fuzzy on this part, until I remembered Issaac had mentioned he was a Godsman. I still wasn't up on all the Factions, but I did know that the 'Bleakers' and the 'Godsmen' were pretty much on opposite sides of the belief wheel. Short version, Bleakers don't believe in the gods, and the Godsmen believe that after enough reincarnations you become a god. They never party together. How's that?

"Well maybe this guy didn't disappear himself," Karrin said calmly. "Maybe he's crazy, maybe he's lost, maybe he found something in his research that led him to the hive? I mean all these things are possible right? But if someone else took him, and took him for a reason, we might be playing into a game between two or more powerful entities.” Karrin's eyes were closed, almost like she was in a trance.

There was a distinctly cold breeze coming from Karrin's direction. I shivered slightly (And I was wearing a long leather coat!) as Karrin spoke in this much calmer voice than her initially perky self.

Karrin continued, “Anyways, although this could be an easy search we'd better not take any unnecessary risks right? I mean people get killed . . . er, put in the dead book for just being in the wrong place or bumping into the wrong person, never mind asking questions where people don't like questions being asked. I think we should go in groups." She offered sagely.
Karrin blinked as if hearing her own words for the first time.
"Yay teams!" she said with her original energy. "Maybe we could have a friendly competition? Every clue gets a point, whoever gets the most points gets . . . hmmmm," Karrin struggled to think of the best prize. "I know: supper! Ya, that would be a great." She said with youthful enthusiasm. Apparently she liked to eat?

I nodded my agreement, still puzzled at this temporary personality switch. Was this a normal thing?
"I have to agree. I've not been here long, but even I've noticed that it's dangerous to walk across the street in the Hive, much less down it asking questions." I volunteered. I smiled at the room.

"So, we start with the,... 'Bleakers', and Miss Kind's friends. Hopefully that will provide us with enough solid evidence to narrow our search. If we can determine something distinctive that he is wearing or carrying, I can pick up a scroll of a spell that will allow us to locate it easier. But it's a fairly short-range spell. Good for finding a room in a building, not locating a building from out of all the others in the Hive." I shrugged and stood up, stretching my long legs.
"So. When do we leave?" I asked.

Bethany shuddered from the same cold breeze I had felt, visibly drawing everyone's eyes. It is quite clear from the sheer nature of her slip that she was cold all of a sudden. She shivered, rubbing the goosebumps on her arms, but seemed otherwise unconcerned with letting us see her in such a state.

"I have absolutely no idea what most of what you just said means. So until I and some of the other newcomers learn how to act in the City and about the different areas, I think it would be wise if we don't split up too much." She gave me a look that indicated clear disdain, or at least serious doubt.
(NOW what had I done?!?)
"No more than two groups.” Bethany continued. “I would like to be partnered with either Isaac, or Karrin myself as they seem the most knowledgeable and could teach me the most." But she was giving a very predatory look at Drazek.

I saw Karrin beam when Bethany named her as knowledgeable.

Renkar nodded. "I think two groups is an excellent idea Lady Bethany, and Karrin. I would say, Karrin, Nari, Drazek, Justin and Bethany for one. Issac, Merle, and Swift for the other. That splits the talents and the knowledge as cleanly as I can figure. IF and when Eir arrives, she can join Isaac's team. She was taking care of some business and,... may have gotten, delayed.” He said discretely.
“Any objections?"

We all looked around the room at each other. There was a general murmur and affirmations of assent.

"Excellent! I would say Karrin's team should go investigate the Madhouse District, and talk to the Bleakers. Issaac's team, I would say the taprooms and gathering places of the Hive. If you can get any info of the Xaosmen or the Dustmen, that would be a bonus. The Doomguard shouldn't be a priority, unless they've been stepping up their 'entropy enhancing' lately, but you never know."

"Good luck, watch your backs, and be safe." Renkar offered sincerely. And in obvious dismissal.

We all looked at each other, agreed that we all had what we needed, and awkwardly gathered together and exited the offices of the Silver Rose.

Oh Karrin! (Guy) ;P

I luv that girl. She cracks me up.

Semi-seriously, how do you make her sound so, natural? Are you a blond IRL? ;)
I have to work HARD to get a PC ramble on, you seem to be able to produce them at will! ;)

I've been busy, Mostly work.
Then I got the 'smart' idea to do a campaign journal based on my PC over in Monkey's Planescape game.

It, is, a, LOT more time consuming than I'd thought it'd be. ;P

So far, so good though.
Hoping I can actually keep it up, I am enjoying the review of past insanity, erm, adventures. :)

So yes, I am totally understanding the frustration of the post not writing itself!

Silly pages, should've typed themselves already,....

Hey all, just checking in!

How is Everybody?

Yeah, I've been playing for a while now. And sometimes It feels like I just never learn. :)

(I'm slow, but I CAN be taught! I swear!) ;P

1 person marked this as a favorite.

<Old, Homer-Simpson-type adventurer>
"If'n Ah told yew once, ah told yeh a thousand times! DON'T SPLIT THE PARTY!"

(Have we learned nothing from Order of the Stick?) ;P

Nice entrance. Luv the weapon.

This guy is gonna leave a mark, isn't he? -_-

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