Courts of the Shadow Fey (Inactive)

Game Master Grimmy

Bathhouse Map

Battle Map

Map of Zobeck

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Courts of the Shadow Fey

The lands in and around the Old Margreve Forest are alive with tales both light and dark. One scarcely begins a conversation with a Margrevian when they will say, “This reminds me of a story that my grandmother once told...” And then you are on a journey through a landscape peopled by mighty warriors, tragic lovers, unspeakable horrors, and a seemingly endless array of fools who offended the forest and met terrible ends.

How Mikhail the Woodcutter Gave the Moonlit King His First Taste of Good Forest Beer:

One day when Mikhail the Woodcutter was coming home after a hard day’s work in the forest, he heard the sound of merry-making deep in the woods and smelled the fine smell of meat on the spit. As I said, it was the end of the day, and Mikhail had a powerful hunger and thirst on him. His stomach growled like a dragon, and his mouth watered as he thought of the good food that lay beyond the trees. “I will go see who it is,” he said to himself, “and maybe they will share their meat and drink in exchange for a good tale or service.” And so he went.

Soon he came to a clearing, and what did he find but the Moonlit King and his court resting after a day’s hunting in the Old Margreve. The king and his courtiers lay on silken pillows beneath a canopy of midnight blue and drank fine wine from silver goblets, while deer and boar roasted over magical fires on spits turned by the king’s slaves.

As Mikhail stood wondering what he ought to do (for he knew tales of poor mortals who crossed the Moonlit King’s path and regretted it), the king’s courtiers saw him. “This human has stumbled on us unawares,” they said to each other. “Let us call him over, and we will have some sport with him.” And so they did. Mikhail went when they called, but he said to himself, “I will keep my wits about me.”

When Mikhail stood before the king and his courtiers, the courtiers laughed at his simple clothes and the dirt on his hands and the mud on his boots. They said to him, “Come, man, and rest your weary body on one of our fine pillows.”

But Mikhail said, “Ah, generous lords! I cannot rest upon your fine pillows, for as you see, I am covered in filth and would spoil them.”

The courtiers laughed and said, “You are wise to refuse, for if you had rested on one of our pillows you would have fallen into a deep sleep and never awoken.” (The Moonlit King said nothing because he was a king and Mikhail was only a woodcutter.)

Then the courtiers offered Mikhail a plate saying, “Come, man, and sate your hunger with our fine food.”

But Mikhail said, “Ah, most excellent of lords! I cannot accept your kind offer, for you see, as a poor woodcutter, I live on naught but stale bread and ill- cooked mutton, and your food would be much too fine for me.”

The courtiers laughed and said, “You are wise to refuse, for if you had tasted our food you would have become our slave, and we would have carried you back to Shadow to serve us for 100 years.” (The Moonlit King said nothing, because he was a king and Mikhail was only a woodcutter.)

Then the courtiers offered Mikhail a silver goblet brimming with wine saying, “Come, man, and slake your thirst with our fine wine.” And full of mischief they said, “But perhaps you will tell us that you have no stomach for strong drink.”

This, Mikhail could not abide. He took the goblet offered him, drank it to the dregs, and gave it back to the courtiers. In a voice all innocence he said to them, “Ah, greatest of lords! Thank you for that most refreshing drink. Truth, it is as mild as the milk given by my village’s best goat.”

The courtiers were astonished at this and called for stronger wine. When Mikhail drank it he said, “Ah! This reminds me of water dipped from the clear brook next to my house.”

The courtiers were again astonished and called for the strongest wine they had. When Mikhail drank it he said, “Ah! My lords, this draught reminds me of when, as a boy, I would beg my parents for a taste of strong drink, and they gave me fruit-juice saying, ‘This is strong wine.’”

At this the Moonlit King could not remain silent. “Sir!” he said. “You have drunk three goblets full of our strongest wine and call it milk, water, and fruit- juice. How can this be? ”

Mikhail said to him, “Oh king, I am born of the Old Margreve, where men drink good, strong forest beer. It nourishes us when we are weaned from our mothers’ breasts, and it is the last thing to pass our lips before we close our eyes for the final sleep. For taste and potency, I tell you that it surpasses all other drinks in the world.”

The king said, “Let us taste this good forest beer, and if it is not as you say, we shall drag you into Shadow where our hunting-dogs will bite and tear your flesh for all eternity, yet you shall not die.”

The king bade his servant to fetch some good forest beer. This he did at once, returning in the blink of an eye with seven great kegs. He tapped the first of these, and soon, the king and his courtiers and Mikhail all held great tankards of good forest beer. When the brew passed their lips, the king and his courtiers looked at each other in amazement and said, “We have drunk at the hearths and tables of thousands of worlds, from the abodes of the gods to the devils’ own inn; and we have never tasted ought as fine as the beer of the Old Margreve!”

And so the king and his courtiers and Mikhail made merry throughout the night, singing and joking and dicing and dancing, and when the seven kegs were empty, they cried for seven more. So lively were they that no creature of the forest got a wink of sleep that night. Even Baba Yaga at last put her head out of her hut and shouted for peace.

In the hour before daybreak, the king called for an end to their revels. Before the king and his company returned to Shadow, he said to Mikhail, “With my own hand I give you this axe. It is called Woman’s Scorn, for there is nothing so sharp in all the world. With it, you can cleave anything that stands before you, whether ‘tis wood, flesh or stone, as if you cleft the air.” Then he blew his hunting-horn, and he and his courtiers and their horses, slaves, and servants, were gone.

That is how Mikhail the Woodcutter gave the Moonlit King his first taste of good forest beer. And once a year since that day, when the Moonlit King comes a-hunting in the Old Margreve, he always stops at the inn where they serve the best beer, and drinks his fill of that fine brew.

And that inn is my inn, and devils take the man who calls me a liar!


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Prologue - The Streets of Zobeck

Everyday, travellers arrive at the gates of the Free City of Zobeck, hungry and thirsty from their travels, looking for rest and entertainment.

From the North they come, from lands ruled by undead princes, on the Great Northern Road. Having braved the Margreve Forest, they pass through pastures as they approach near. Crossing the bridge over the River Argent, they find themselves by the docks, and hear of the Blackened Fish and the Dancing Bear, rowdy taverns rife with brawls and licentious behavior.

From the West they come to the Dwarven Gate, the Ironcrag Mountains far behind them, and find themselves faced with marvels of steam power and clockwork such as no other city can boast. Griffon Riders alite on the turrets of the nearby Citadel, and the sound of hammers and industry fills the air. Clockwork men, dwarves and kobold tinkerers all speak of the same place… The Gray Friar, a restaurant for scholars, owned by a gear-forged woman with the memory of an elephant. But no one claims the food or ale are any good.

From the East they are met with the bank of the River Argent, where a Kobold Ferryman offers the only means of congress to a ghetto where men and dwarves simply do not go.

From the South come the Oxcarts, from the Magdar Kingdoms and the Mharoti Empire, and even more distant lands beyond. Even from outside the South Gate they see the pink stone edifice of Lada’s largest temple rising above the city walls to greet the dawn.

Today is like any other day. It is not a festival day. No dwarven airships come and go. No flying cities of Sikkim hang in the sky. Only a handful of travelers find themselves in a nondescript tavern in Lower Zobeck called the Wheatsheaf, where a talented young bard is performing and an alluring courtesan is in attendance for reasons of her own.

______________________

inside the Wheatsheaf Tavern...

”Damned pathetic lazy beasts. Next time someone asks why they live in a ghetto show them this…” The man swigs the rest of his ale and slams the mug with exaggerated force next to the kobold who is face down against the bar beside him, unconscious. He shakes his head in disgust when the kobold doesn’t stir.

The barkeep smiles. ”We all have our burdens to carry. The kobolds slaved in mines for House Stross for ages. We forget they fought bravely in the revolt. We all won our freedom, thanks in part to them. But their lot in life hasn’t changed much, has it? Aye, he can drink here if he likes.”

The olive skinned man spits in his empty mug and leaves a silver on the bar, tossing a couple of coppers to the stage where the bard is finishing his last song. ”Never drank with one of them in the seven cities,” he pronounces as he dons his traveling cloak and exits the tavern, leaving the kobold as the sole occupant at the bar.

The other patrons at the tables resume their even tempered conversations, the pleasant mood returning to the room.

Sense Motive DC 12:
The barkeep is at ease, he seems like he can handle himself. The patrons are the same way. They didn’t seem nervous at all about the disturbance.

Knowledge Local or Zobeck Lore DC 15:
Despite its clientele and connections, the Wheatsheaf remains a remarkably non-violent place most of the time. The tavern provides a secure place to conduct public and private business or just have a meal, and that ends if people are watching for a knife in the back or fear that the Watch will show up. When violence starts at the Wheatsheaf, it’s never a simple brawl—it’s a murder. The killer had best have powerful friends or excellent protection, however, as all the biggest gangsters in Zobeck prefer that the Wheatsheaf operate under a flag of truce, and they look askance on anyone threatening that.


HP 15/15 | AC 14 Tch 12 FF 12 | CMD 13 | Fort 1 Ref 6 Will 2 | Init +2 | Perc +4| Bardic Performances: 14/16| Dancing Lights 2/3| Kitsune Bard (Arcane Healer) 2

Sense Motive: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (8) - 1 = 7

The fiddle player stops for a brief moment and quietly observes the tantrum occurring at the bar. Alfen Greenraw had walked past this tavern many times before, but never found himself in it until the owner approached him and asked him to perform for the patrons one night. He had been surprised by the offer, but nonetheless agreed to take a night off from the inn where he regularly played and give the Wheatsheaf a chance. Now that he was here, however, he finds himself on edge, wondering if he should continue playing after a scene like that or take a break and let things settle.

Knowledge (Local): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24

Ah, but this was the Wheatsheaf, wasn't it? He may never have found reason to be inside before, but everyone knew their reputation. It wasn't a violent place. Scenes like that were rare and quickly put to an end, weren't they? Alfen shakes his head and scolds himself for letting his nerves get the better of him. He chuckles quietly. Sure, it's a new place, different sort of clientele than he was used to... But his job was still the same. Entertain the patrons.

And if you don't start up again soon, they might not pay you. This horrific thought brings Alfen out of his head and he begins to play, choosing a jaunty tune to help liven the mood.

Perform (Fiddle): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (10) + 9 = 19


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In a corner, a young elfmarked woman sits alone, slowly sipping a cup of steaming hot tea. Her eyes wander lazily around the hall, gliding over every patron yet lingering on none; the only thing that seemingly manages to captivate her attention is the sweet music an exotic-looking bard is providing for the customers' enjoyment.

He is late she frowns. That means I'll have to charge him extra.

Her clothing, like her composure, seems to be perfectly tailored to either draw or avert the bystander's attention, a subtle distinction which obeys her whims and her whims alone. Presently, it's latter: her tight fitting leathers, usually accentuating her slender, athletic physique, now seem to help her blend in the background, a shadow of flesh and bone among the other, incorporeal ones the fireplace is casting on the walls. Her long legs she keeps crossed under the table, those too wrapped in leather save for a thin strip of bare skin between a pair of thigh-high boots and a dangerously short black silken skirt.

If it pays your bills, never give it away for free.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25

She turns a distract eye to the commotion by the bar, but she quickly realizes there's nothing worth her attention going on there. Only the truly powerful – or someone harbouring a death wish – would pick a fight at the Wheatsheaf. This guy doesn't look the former, and now we'll probably never know about the latter she muses as her gaze follows the man across the room and out of the tavern.


~~~~~~~RETIRED~~~~~~~ Chaotic Neutral Catfolk Ranger/?

It had been a long grueling journey but Momo and Morrigan finally reached Zobeck. Momo puts her hood up, but the guards at the gate still poke and prod, asking lots of questions before allowing Momo entry into the city. My feet hurt, Momo thinks pitifully. I just want a nice hot meal and something sweet to drink! Momo’s ears twitch and Momo tilts her head in question to Morrigan, “Are you hungry? I’m hungry.” Then, without waiting for an answer, Momo impulsively bounds off down the city streets, smelling. "Hurry up!"

Momo looks around the city, eyes wide and full of wonderment. She smells everything she can until her nose leads her to a tavern. Momo looks up at the sign before entering, ”Wheatsheaf Tavern… hmm.” Momo doesn’t give it much thought before entering.

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10

This is a tavern alright. Momo smells a mixture of hops and bread lingering in the air. Momo continues to sniff, her nose wiggles and her ears twitch under her hood. Momo looks at the musician playing the fiddle. (What form is Alfen currently in?) Momo approaches the performer, continuing the sniff. He smells interesting. Momo perhaps stands 10 feet away from the musician.

A draft or perhaps someone passes Momo, creating a breeze and carrying another scent past Momo's nose. Momo stops, her eyes widening and a goofy smile stretching across her face. "Í-Írwen?" Momo asks tentatively aloud. Momo swings her head wildly around the room for a good ten seconds before spotting a young elfmarked woman sitting alone, slowly sipping a cup of steaming hot tea.

"Írwen?!" Momo approaches the table with cat-like speed and agility. Tears glisten in Momo's eyes and her arms are outstretched, "Írweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!" Momo is being loud and possibly creating a scene. Momo attempts to hug Írwen around the shoulders with both arms. (Feel free to avoid Momo's embrace or back away in favor of patting Momo on the head.)

"I've missed you so much! You never forgot about me right?" Momo looks at Írwen soulfully. Sometime during the approach towards Írwen, Momo's hood had fallen off to reveal her perky cat ears. Momo was nine years older, but she had kept a lot of her childhood ignorance. Her village was pretty secluded in The Old Margreve and smelling Írwen made Momo momentarily forget what her parents had warned. "Don't make a scene - you'll stick out enough as it is," her mother had warned.


Female Elven Shadow Witch / 2 HP 13/13 | AC 13 Tch 12 FF 11 | Fort +2; Ref +2; Will +4 | Init +2\ Perc +5/7 (Familiar=+10) | S Motive + 7/9 | Stealth

S Motive: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14

"Yes, yes. I'm coming." Morrigan mutters after the enthusiastic Momo as the youngster bounds down the street well ahead of her. The elven woman sighs softly and reaches up for probably the hundredth time since entering the city to (rather unnecessarily) adjust the dark scarf she wore weaved around her head in order to hide her pointed ears.

While Momo's eyes are wide and full of wonderment, Morrigan's own gaze is cautious and wary. After the solitude of the forest, the noise and bustle of the city was dismayingly overwhelming, and Morrigan was starting to doubt whether coming here had been such a good idea after all. Either way, there was no denying her own hunger as her belly growled while she was peering up at the sign for the Wheatsheaf Tavern. It had been a long day, and food and drink did sound good. The sound of pleasant music wafted out from within.

Far overhead, Fiachra circled once and then glided lower, coming to perch just out of sight upon the tavern's roof. Uncertain what the proper protocol regarding such things might be here, the two had earlier agreed that he would remain outside.

The slender elven woman steps inside a few moments after Momo and takes quick stock of the tavern's common room. Blinking in surprise at Momo's exclamation and antics towards a woman who was seeted at a table deeper in the room, Morrigan keeps one eye on the two as she walks over to where the tavern keeper is drying a mug. "Good evening. What do you have for dinner tonight? I need a meal for myself and for one other. Oh, and tea please."


"Spicy boar, madam. Our seasonings are from far Sikkim. Please seat yourself, we have one table left." The easy-going tavern-keep gestures to a vacant 5-top in the corner near the stage. He seems unperturbed at Momo's exuberant outburst. "Is this the friend who will be joining you?" He pulls a chair for Momo, politely signaling for her to be seated.


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HP 15/15 | AC 15 Tch 12 FF 13 | Fort +1 Ref +5 Will +2 | Insp: 1/4 used | Init +2 | Perc +10 | Buffs:

It had been the West Gate that had welcomed Nik'olo's return to Zobeck after ten long years of thralldom. His skin was darker, his features thinner, and his mood darker. He had left Zobeck filled with youth, with passion, and innocence.

Innocence!

He recognized the Gear district but the district ignored him. All for the best... he thought as he stood clear of the street where his father's small shop lay. He was not ready, though he did wonder whether his father would be expecting him. A gear grinder can always tell when a decade's gone by, but will he care? No, for now, Nik'olo thought best to avoid the awkward conversation and the laden silences of coming back.

I'm at the Crossroads, and on my way somewhere. Not back! he thought as he meandered through the streets up to his favourite haunt of olds, where opportunity he knew was to be found, even on a boring night such as this.

He got bored with the music. He did not recognize any of the songs. They must be recent...

The food was all right, but barely, and the crowd was faded, like his old cloak. Thank goodness the whiskey was as burning as he remembered.

He was about to call it a bad idea, and be on his way, until the table beside him lit with the shrill of a young woman. Intrigued, he forgot about the music, about the food, and about the people. Whiskey and Her. He sipped one with his mouth and distilled the other with his eyes, wondering whether the fates had something in store for him after all.

Rava, darling, I need a break! he thinks, and turns his attention to the next table.


HP 15/15 | AC 14 Tch 12 FF 12 | CMD 13 | Fort 1 Ref 6 Will 2 | Init +2 | Perc +4| Bardic Performances: 14/16| Dancing Lights 2/3| Kitsune Bard (Arcane Healer) 2

Alfen is in natural fox form.

The kitsune quickly glances around the room, trying to get a read of the crowd. He is quite fond of this particular piece that he's written, and grins as he sees his audience seems to be enjoying it as well. He spots an elfmarked woman sitting alone, whose attention he seems to have grabbed with the new song. Still grinning, he gives a wink before the sound of a door being shut turns his attention to the entrance.

He has an unexplainable feeling of unease at the elf who enters, but her companion... Is that a catfolk? Not many catfolk came through Zobeck as far as he knew. He thinks he recalls seeing a few of their kind once. But who knows how long ago that was.

Momo Duline wrote:
Momo approaches the performer, continuing the sniff. He smells interesting. Momo perhaps stands 10 feet away from the musician.

Alfen blinks in startled confusion as the girl begins sniffing around him. He takes an awkward step back away from the girl, careful not to miss a beat in the music. He turns his attention back to his fiddle as she walks away, when suddenly...

Momo Duline wrote:
"Írwen?!" Momo approaches the table with cat-like speed and agility. Tears glisten in Momo's eyes and her arms are outstretched, "Írweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!"

Alfen sighs inwardly as he brings the song to an end. I think it's time for a break. The catfolk girl's pulling the crowd's attention away from me anyway. He tucks his fiddle and bow away for now and approaches the bartender with an easy-going smile on his face. "Don't suppose drinks are on the house for performers here at the Wheatsheaf? It's thirsty work up there, you know."


Female Elven Shadow Witch / 2 HP 13/13 | AC 13 Tch 12 FF 11 | Fort +2; Ref +2; Will +4 | Init +2\ Perc +5/7 (Familiar=+10) | S Motive + 7/9 | Stealth
DMG wrote:
"Spicy boar, madam. Our seasonings are from far Sikkim. Please seat yourself, we have one table left." The easy-going tavern-keep gestures to a vacant 5-top in the corner near the stage. He seems unperturbed at Momo's exuberant outburst. "Is this the friend who will be joining you?" He pulls a chair for Momo, politely signaling for her to be seated.

"Yes, she is the one." The woman replies, and then slides into one of the seats around the offered table. Morrigan glances over where Momo is still in the midst of her ambush. With a faint smile she asks, "Who is your friend, Momo? Aren't you going to introduce us?" She glances at the woman, then back to Momo, an eyebrow rising slightly as if to say Remember what your mother said?


~~~~~~~RETIRED~~~~~~~ Chaotic Neutral Catfolk Ranger/?
Morrigan wrote:
"Who is your friend, Momo? Aren't you going to introduce us?" She glances at the woman, then back to Momo, an eyebrow rising slightly as if to say Remember what your mother said?

”Ahh” Momo’s ears bend back slightly in embarrassment and her tail stiffens under her cloak. Oops, I forgot already! Momo is suddenly weary of possible listeners after realizing her earlier mistake and makes a point to be quiet.

With pink cheeks and a sheepish smile, Momo returns her hood over her head, hiding her ears. Momo gently pulls at Írwen’s hand, towards the five chair table Morrigan is currently residing at. ”Come, come” Momo whispers to Írwen, encouraging Írwen to follow. Momo seems eager to introduce her two companions to one another.

Momo lithely moves into a seat next to Morrigan. Momo hesitates. She wasn’t sure which name to introduce her friend by. ”That’s Allegra. When I was six Allegra saved my life,” Whispering, Momo responds dutifully to Morrigan. Then, in a normal voice: ”Did you order us food? I want something sweet to drink!” Momo’s hood moves slightly from her ears twitching but only someone watching the hood closely would notice.

If Írwen joins Morrigan and Momo at the table in the corner by the stage, Momo introduces Morrigan to Írwen. Whispering again, ”This is Morrigan. She’s an ally to my village.”

After introducing the two, Momo’s green cat eyes revolve to stare at the performer. He had spoken to the barkeep shortly after Morrigan had. Momo isn’t sure what he is but he smells and looks different from any race she’s ever seen. Momo begins sniffing the air again, her nostrils flaring with each sniff. Will he play another song? Momo thinks of Reqar Tithir, the carpenter at her village, and his flute. Momo looks back at Morrigan and then Írwen.


Alfen Greenraw wrote:
"Don't suppose drinks are on the house for performers here at the Wheatsheaf? It's thirsty work up there, you know."

The barkeep pours a yellow fizzy lager from an unmarked tap handle, sliding it to Alfen across the bar. "Enjoy. Of course if you want a taste of what he's having, you'll have to cough up some of that hard earned coin." He tips a bottle of whisky, with a nod to Nik'olo. "Dwarven. Aged 10 years in the Iron Crags," he boasts.


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HP 15/15 | AC 15 Tch 12 FF 13 | Fort +1 Ref +5 Will +2 | Insp: 1/4 used | Init +2 | Perc +10 | Buffs:

The music stopped, finally, and Nik'olo thanked the Catgirl silently for the intervention, though he couldn't help but wonder what kind of shrilling would come next and whether that was in fact a better thing...

His eyes tracked the Foxboy as he walked to the bar, curious. Foxpeople we're a rare sight, and it was a first for him.

A catgirl, a foxboy, and two elfmarked in the same bar... And a still kobold! I bet I can come up with a good joke out of that! Come to think of it, this is perhaps an omen.

He hears the fox and the cat from where he stands, but it is the bartender's comment that catch his attention.

My bitterness is of the same cask as this whiskey... he thinks. His pouch is getting too light for comfort, and he wonders if he'll have enough to pay for a room. The last thing he wants is to come home and ask his father for refuge. And yet, the other last thing he wants is to feel stuck, without hope. He's had enough of that!

With a voice like a sharpening stone, he calls to the foxboy: "I'll buy the whiskey, if you play me The Rill of Bill. Now that is a proper song for this ominous night!"


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HP 15/15 | AC 14 Tch 12 FF 12 | CMD 13 | Fort 1 Ref 6 Will 2 | Init +2 | Perc +4| Bardic Performances: 14/16| Dancing Lights 2/3| Kitsune Bard (Arcane Healer) 2
DMG wrote:
"Enjoy. Of course if you want a taste of what he's having, you'll have to cough up some of that hard earned coin."

Like any musician worth his salt, Alfen enjoyed a strong drink. And Dwarven tends to be as strong as you can get and still survive. But he always found his tastes adapt to whatever currently fell in the "free" category. He reaches his paw out for the lager when he hears:

Nik'olo Gaczi wrote:
"I'll buy the whiskey, if you play me The Rill of Bill. Now that is a proper song for this ominous night!"

Alfen turns in his seat to find the source of the voice. Huh. A generous offer from such an intimidating man. Alfen takes in the stranger, careful to not let his eyes linger for too long on the rope burn that encompasses his neck. Well whoever this man was, he had the coin for the good stuff, and it was a simple enough request!

He flashes another grin at the man. "The Rill of Bill, eh? That's an older song I haven't heard in a while, but I believe I can coax it out for you my friend!" He gets up from the bar, takes a second to carefully rosin his bow, and begins playing.

Perform (Fiddle): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (14) + 9 = 23

The song was an older one, but Alfen remembers it fondly from his childhood. He recalls that it was one that his old master Georg enjoyed to hear while he was still alive. Never got many requests for it, though. The man was right: It was an ominous song. Dissonance and sudden notes that surprised the audience and sometimes the player himself when clashed against the established key.


Before Irwen has had time to respond fully to Momo, a man in a forest green doublet blows through the tavern door like a blustering wind. He looks rough around the edges despite his fine stitches. An ostentatious smile reveals a few missing front teeth.

After quickly and obviously scanning the room, he pulls out a chair for himself at Nik'olo's table. "Good to see you how you been. You don't remember me? Grigori. We was on that one job together. Can I axe you a question? Can I talk to you about somethin'?"

As he speaks he is looking sidelong, first at the door, then at the table where Momo and Morrigan are looking expectantly at Irwen. That's when his face lights up with genuine recognition.

"Hey I know you," he says to Irwen. "I seen you fight! Barkeep get her a drink on me. She can fight." With that out of the way he returns his attention to Nik'olo. "As I was saying."

Knowledge Local/Zobeck Lore DC 15:
This guy Grigori is a second-story man, a burglar for hire.

Knowledge Local/Zobeck Lore DC 20:
Grigori has been associated with the Cloven Nine, an infernal gang.


HP 15/15 | AC 15 Tch 12 FF 13 | Fort +1 Ref +5 Will +2 | Insp: 1/4 used | Init +2 | Perc +10 | Buffs:

Know Local: 1d20 + 8 + 1d6 ⇒ (17) + 8 + (1) = 26

The rill brings him back years, brings a dreamy smile to his lips. He feels young again, sees himself back at the Western Gate, clad in armour, proud and happy, and about to get mighty rich...

Well, the Fates had other plans, and the damned Dwarves had the might to laugh them off and round them up for ten years...

His smile falters.

The music strangely reminds him of his hanging. Father would probably remind me how I even managed to fail my hanging...

His smile returns as a smirk, then it shifts into a rictus of fear, laced with panic.

For a moment, he is there again, hanging, not dead, not alive either. Not fighting, just aware, beyond the senses, of another world out there. Those shapes, dancing in the dark forest. the Rill...

They're dancing to the Rill of Bill?!

But no, they are not, but it is close. Perhaps something similar, but older, darker...

The music ends and Nik'olo is pulled back to the bar, and a chair is pulled and this guy Grigori shows up. He knows the man by his reputation.

"I think you have the wrong guy. I was away these last few years..." he says as he pays the barman for the bard's drink.


Alfen Greenraw wrote:
The kitsune quickly glances around the room, trying to get a read of the crowd. He is quite fond of this particular piece that he's written, and grins as he sees his audience seems to be enjoying it as well. He spots an elfmarked woman sitting alone, whose attention he seems to have grabbed with the new song. Still grinning, he gives a wink before the sound of a door being shut turns his attention to the entrance.

The foxman's wink is answered by an intelligent, yet cryptic smile on Írwen's behalf as the elfmarked takes another sip of her tea; an inferred nod, a subtle externalization of the pleasure his music is providing. So captured she is by the moment that she is completely taken aback when...

Momo Duline wrote:
"Írwen?!"Momo approaches the table with cat-like speed and agility. Tears glisten in Momo's eyes and her arms are outstretched, "Írweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!" Momo is being loud and possibly creating a scene. Momo attempts to hug Írwen around the shoulders with both arms.

Írwen's muscles suddenly clench in a conditioned reflex as her body instinctively reacts by trying to assume a fighting stance. It was uncommon, though not unheard of, for an over-exuberant suitor to casually meet her in the streets and suddenly try to grab her in an unsolicited display of affection or lust; in those cases, she's usually been fast enough to slip away from the embrace entirely and gently but sternly put the man in his place (though once the ordeal did degenerate into a duel – she had lost one patron, but not before the patron had lost most of his teeth).

Thus, she mutters a curse under her breath for having allowed herself to be caught unaware like a clueless rookie, though she has to admit her admirers' movements have been uncharacteristically fast and elegant – more like those of a trained warrior than a drunken merchant's son's.

Momo Duline wrote:
"I've missed you so much! You never forgot about me right?" Momo looks at Írwen soulfully. Sometime during the approach towards Írwen, Momo's hood had fallen off to reveal her perky cat ears.

The sudden sight of a pair of cat ears brings her memory back to almost ten years ago, as jigsaws slowly fall into place to create the image of a stray cat-girl looking for her parents.

"Momo?"

Momo Duline wrote:
Morrigan wrote:
"Who is your friend, Momo? Aren't you going to introduce us?" She glances at the woman, then back to Momo, an eyebrow rising slightly as if to say Remember what your mother said?

”Ahh” Momo’s ears bend back slightly in embarrassment and her tail stiffens under her cloak. Oops, I forgot already! Momo is suddenly weary of possible listeners after realizing her earlier mistake and makes a point to be quiet.

With pink cheeks and a sheepish smile, Momo returns her hood over her head, hiding her ears. Momo gently pulls at Írwen’s hand, towards the five chair table Morrigan is currently residing at. ”Come, come” Momo whispers to Írwen, encouraging Írwen to follow. Momo seems eager to introduce her two companions to one another.

Momo lithely moves into a seat next to Morrigan. Momo hesitates. She wasn’t sure which name to introduce her friend by. ”That’s Allegra. When I was six Allegra saved my life,” Whispering, Momo responds dutifully to Morrigan. Then, in a normal voice: ”Did you order us food? I want something sweet to drink!” Momo’s hood moves slightly from her ears twitching but only someone watching the hood closely would notice.

If Írwen joins Morrigan and Momo at the table in the corner by the stage, Momo introduces Morrigan to Írwen. Whispering again, ”This is Morrigan. She’s an ally to my village.”

Sense Motive DC 15:

Bluff: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (4) + 11 = 15

Írwen frowns almost imperceptibly when her birthname is revealed.

"My pleasure – though I go by Írwen around here" she says cautiously approaching Morrigan and Momo's table. He's probably not coming. Still, I'm charging him for a full night. And scratching his name from the list – too bad, he was kind of cute.

Ah well, let's see if I can still make the most out of the evening.


Female Elven Shadow Witch / 2 HP 13/13 | AC 13 Tch 12 FF 11 | Fort +2; Ref +2; Will +4 | Init +2\ Perc +5/7 (Familiar=+10) | S Motive + 7/9 | Stealth

S Motive: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27

Morrigan nods in greeting as the other woman approaches. Írwen was it? she asks, putting a bit of emphasis on the newly given name and glancing very briefly at Momo. "As Momo said, you're welcome to join us. It is good to see a familiar face, yes Momo? When you were six? You have... known each other a long time then," She adds almost as an afterthought. "Oh, and yes, Spiced Boar and tea," she adds in answer to Momo's question.

The music began again, of a different sort this time. Beneath the scarf, Morrigan's ears twitched at the more somber notes. She was able to recognize a change in style; a tune written in a different generation perhaps, but of course she could not have named it, nor guessed at its origin. She absently listened, there were surprising twists in the melody, and odd little dissonances, but Morrigan found the tune to her liking. A pleasant change in pace from the earlier more rambunctious tunes.

She was about to ask something when a newcomer apparently also recognized the woman and started shouting something about drinks and fights. Morrigan turns her head to look in that direction, takes note of the two rough looking men and frowns slightly before turning her attention back to Írwen. A famous fighter of some sort apparently? "As Momo says, you are welcome to join us, if you are hungry. Or just sit. It has been a long day and we are famished."


DMG wrote:

As he speaks he is looking sidelong, first at the door, then at the table where Momo and Morrigan are looking expectantly at Irwen. That's when his face lights up with genuine recognition.

"Hey I know you," he says to Irwen. "I seen you fight! Barkeep get her a drink on me. She can fight." With that out of the way he returns his attention to Nik'olo. "As I was saying."

Lore (Zobeck): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19

"Mmmh..." Írwen arches one eyebrow, trying to place the man among the sea of faces she meets daily in her business. "And how would you know? I don't recall ever having the pleasure of calling you my opponent... or suitor" she muses coquettishly.

Ah, yes. A petty criminal of sorts. Not the kind of guy who would hire a courtesan... more likely to find his ilk among the patrons at the Silk Scabbard.

"Indeed, Grigori, I believe. A pleasure to meet you in the flesh, good sir. I drink to your health" she says, graciously accepting the drink with a disarming smile on her lips.

"Now if you would excuse me, I'm currently in the company of a long lost friend and an acquaintance of her. Good evening" she courteously disengages from the conversation, taking a seat at Momo's table.

Morrigan. wrote:
She was about to reinforce Momo's invitation for her acquaintance to join them, when a newcomer apparently recognized the woman as well and started shouting something about drinks and fights. She turns her head to look in that direction, takes note of the two rough looking men and frowns slightly before turning her attention back to Írwen. A famous fighter of some sort apparently? "As Momo says, you are welcome to join us, if you like."

"My thanks. It looks like my... ah... date has currently just stood me up, meaning I've got this evening all for myself. Truly a serendipitous occurrence I've stumbled into an old friend just now, then" her lips arch in a smile so similar yet so different from the one she had offered just a moment earlier, less elaborate, yet at the same time more genuine. She gives a long, appreciative look at the now adult catfolk, and then stretches her hand in an attempt to ruffle her hair. "You've grown up, Momo. You're no longer a scared child – you move with the composure of a stalker" she states in an appreciative tone. "And now you're travelling with elves. It seems you've taken both my pieces of advice to heart."


HP 15/15 | AC 14 Tch 12 FF 12 | CMD 13 | Fort 1 Ref 6 Will 2 | Init +2 | Perc +4| Bardic Performances: 14/16| Dancing Lights 2/3| Kitsune Bard (Arcane Healer) 2

Alfen brings the rill to a finish, and notices a tear on his cheek. Strange, he thinks to himself as he wipes it away. A more powerful song than I thought. I should play it more often.

After indulging himself to a quick bow, he returns to the bar, eager to accept his reward from the stranger. But someone else suddenly takes a seat next to Nik'olo at the bar.

DMG wrote:
"Good to see you how you been. You don't remember me? Grigori. We was on that one job together. Can I axe you a question? Can I talk to you about somethin'?"

Knowledge (Local): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17

Alfen knows he's heard of this man. Grigori, isn't it? A well-known burglar. Seems like something he'd want to keep quiet, but then how would he find his clients? But it looks he and the stranger have business together.

Nik'olo Gaczi wrote:
"I think you have the wrong guy. I was away these last few years..." he says as he pays the barman for the bard's drink.

Or maybe not? Alfen quietly accepts the whiskey that the bartender offers after Nik'olo's payment. He had intended to talk to the man, maybe get a few more drinks out of him, but now seemed like the wrong time to approach. Instead, he leaves the two men to whatever business they may have and approaches the quickly filling table near the stage. Maybe he can keep a good thing going.

"Evening, ladies." The fox smiles effortlessly. "It seems I find myself taking requests tonight in exchange for, ah..." He holds up the whiskey as if to display it before taking a drink. "Well, whatever you'd like to send my way. Drink, coin you name it! Anything you'd like to hear?"


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~~~~~~~RETIRED~~~~~~~ Chaotic Neutral Catfolk Ranger/?

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16

Allegra Írwen Larentil wrote:
"My pleasure – though I go by Írwen around here" she says cautiously approaching Morrigan and Momo's table.

Wow she heard my whisper to Morrigan. She really is amazing! Momo smiles at Írwen, unsure as to what’s going on in Írwen’s mind. Momo considers Morrigan a dear friend and has no qualms about sharing Írwen's special intimate name. Realizing her mistake, Momo thinks: Perhaps I made a mistake. I'll have to apologize later. Thus far, Momo hasn't met an elf that she doesn't like.

Morrigan wrote:
"As Momo says, you are welcome to join us, if you are hungry. Or just sit. It has been a long day and we are famished."

Momo nods in agreement. Geez I’m hungry… I hope the food arrives soon. Momo is grateful Morrigan ordered food for the both of them.

Once Írwen joins Momo and Morrigan at the table, Momo nods, approving of Írwen’s decision. Momo grins, revealing her four pointy canine teeth, genuinely happy to be seated with two friends. She feels like an adult – which she is – because she is fifteen now.

Allegra Írwen Larentil wrote:
"You've grown up, Momo. You're no longer a scared child – you move with the composure of a stalker" she states in an appreciative tone. "And now you're travelling with elves. It seems you've taken both my pieces of advice to heart."

Momo warms with pride at Írwen’s words. ”Mmm,” Momo gives a slight nod before continuing in a hushed tone: ”My father’s taught me a lot. I help him and the other rangers hunt back at the village. Respectfully. Only for what we need.” Momo leans in towards the table as she whispers. Momo is weary of humans but eager to talk to the two with elven blood. Additionally, their table was near the stage where someone was performing and Momo would rather speak closer, not louder.

Alfen Greenraw wrote:
"Evening, ladies." The fox smiles effortlessly. "It seems I find myself taking requests tonight in exchange for, ah..." He holds up the whiskey as if to display it before taking a drink. "Well, whatever you'd like to send my way. Drink, coin you name it! Anything you'd like to hear?"

Momo’s nostrils flare, sampling the air. ”Do you mind if I ask you a question, sir?” Momo pats an empty chair at their table, motioning for the performer to sit. Momo leans toward him, regardless if he sits or not, and whispers: ”What are you?” Momo, indifferent to personal space, puts her face is as close as she can to the performers ear.

Momo continues sniffing, dexterously encroaching onto the performers personal space. At a distance it may appear that she’s kissing his neck. Momo whispers, hot breath coming off from her mouth: ”Definitely not a catfolk but you have ears and a tail like me.” Her breath smells like she’s been snacking on nuts and berries. Momo backs off and resumes her seat next to Morrigan, leaning over to her: ”Isn’t he interesting?” Momo looks at Írwen too. He's interesting, right?

Momo is feeling overwhelmed and loving it. She wants to smell and talk to the kobold too, but too many other exciting creatures are currently around Momo.

”My name is Momo,” Momo introduces herself, but lets her friends Morrigan and Írwen introduce themselves (if they choose to.) ”What’s your name performer?” Momo's eyes briefly dart towards the two humans (Nik'olo Gaczi and the man in a forest green doublet) before returning her gaze to the performer. Momo checks her hood and confirms it's still covering her ears.

-----------------

After the others talk, Momo whispers: "Hey, Írwen." Momo continues in a whisper: "Do you know that guy in the green vest? ...Is he... a friend?" Momo tilts her head slightly in the direction of Nik'olo Gaczi's table. Írwen had spoken to the human (Grigori) earlier.


Nik'olo Gaczi wrote:


"I think you have the wrong guy. I was away these last few years..." he says as he pays the barman for the bard's drink.

Grigori's gregarious smile goes flat. "All the same. Guys like us..." he pauses, cocking his head to the side and stroking his throat, subtly indicating that he has noticed the mark the gallows rope left on Nik'olo, "...we need to stick together, right? Look, the spyglass guild just got done questioning me. I gotta lay low. But my girl Ilyana, she doesn't know."

He slaps a canvas square down on the table, on it the sketched likeness of a striking tiefling woman.

"You find her before they do, you tell her those jewels she's wearing ain't worth the trouble. And you can have my share. Hers too if she'll part with 'em. They're no good to us with all this heat on us. I just don't want her gettin' hurt. Ask around at the Silk Scabbard. You could start with that lovely pit-fighter at the table next to us. I seen her fight there a few years back."

Grigori speaks softly, meant for only Nik'olo to hear, but the neighboring table can overhear with a DC 15 Perception Check.

Sense Motive DC 15:
Grigori is feeling guilty about something, and there's something he's not saying.

Knowledge Checks for Spyglass Guild:

Local/Zobeck Lore DC 10:
The Spyglass Guild are Zobeck's secret police. They are a quasi-legal organization who answer to the Lord Mayor and the Council of Praetors, but often operate outside the law. Everyone knows you don't get questioned by the Spyglass Guild and end up on the street without a bruise... unless you co-operate.

Local/Zobeck Lore DC 15:
The mistress of the guild is officially Ersebet Cemilla, but she answers to Lady Marack, the Lord Commander of the Free Army.

Local/Zobeck Lore DC 18:
Lord Commander Lady Marack is a feared personality, with rather more colleagues than friends among the city’s elite, and it’s not hard to believe she might use her position for personal matters if given reason.


Momo Duline wrote:
Allegra Írwen Larentil wrote:
"You've grown up, Momo. You're no longer a scared child – you move with the composure of a stalker" she states in an appreciative tone. "And now you're travelling with elves. It seems you've taken both my pieces of advice to heart."
Momo warms with pride at Írwen’s words. ”Mmm,” Momo gives a slight nod before continuing in a hushed tone: ”My father’s taught me a lot. I help him and the other rangers hunt back at the village. Respectfully. Only for what we need.” Momo leans in towards the table as she whispers. Momo is weary of humans but eager to talk to the two with elven blood. Additionally, their table was near the stage where someone was performing and Momo would rather speak closer, not louder.

"I remember your father" Írwen replies in a hushed tone. "It looks like he taught you well. I hope everything's alright?" She lets the question linger, not wanting to press the matter beyond what Momo's comfortable discussing.

Zobeck's streets can be as dangerous as the Old Margreve's trails... but she knows that already.

Momo Duline wrote:
Momo continues sniffing, dexterously encroaching onto the performers personal space. At a distance it may appear that she’s kissing his neck. Momo whispers, hot breath coming off from her mouth: ”Definitely not a catfolk but you have ears and a tail like me.” Her breath smells like she’s been snacking on nuts and berries. Momo backs off and resumes her seat next to Morrigan, leaning over to her: ”Isn’t he interesting?” Momo looks at Írwen too. He's interesting, right?

Írwen nods and smiles, then shifts her attention back to the minstrel. Silently, she waits for his answers to Momo's questions, which interest her as well. She's not bothered in the slightest by the intimate sniffing scene which just occurred at the table, as having herself been on the receiving part of it, she knows it's just a catfolk's way of shaking hands.

Momo Duline wrote:
After the others talk, Momo whispers: "Hey, Írwen." Momo continues in a whisper: "Do you know that guy in the green vest? ...Is he... a friend?" Momo tilts her head slightly in the direction of Nik'olo Gaczi's table. Írwen had spoken to the human earlier.

"Not personally, no. And neither I nor you would be wise to call him a friend. Let's just say Zobeck can feel like a small place from time to time, and some people's respective fame might precede them."

Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14 nope


HP 15/15 | AC 14 Tch 12 FF 12 | CMD 13 | Fort 1 Ref 6 Will 2 | Init +2 | Perc +4| Bardic Performances: 14/16| Dancing Lights 2/3| Kitsune Bard (Arcane Healer) 2
Momo Duline wrote:

Momo’s nostrils flare, sampling the air. ”Do you mind if I ask you a question, sir?” Momo pats an empty chair at their table, motioning for the performer to sit. Momo leans toward him, regardless if he sits or not, and whispers: ”What are you?” Momo, indifferent to personal space, puts her face is as close as she can to the performers ear.

Momo continues sniffing, dexterously encroaching onto the performers personal space. At a distance it may appear that she’s kissing his neck. Momo whispers, hot breath coming off from her mouth: ”Definitely not a catfolk but you have ears and a tail like me.” Her breath smells like she’s been snacking on nuts and berries. Momo backs off and resumes her seat next to Morrigan, leaning over to her: ”Isn’t he interesting?” Momo looks at Írwen too. He's interesting, right?

Alfen takes the seat next to the young catfolk after a moment's consideration, and almost immediately regrets it. He squirms in his seat as Momo begins sniffing him (I thought this girl was getting a little too close before!) and casts a wide-eyed look to the two elven women as if to ask just what is she doing? He would have jumped right out of his seat, but the part of him that needed to stay on the good side of the audience outweighed his discomfort over the clear invasion of personal space. And the two women seemed unperturbed by the whole scene, so maybe this was normal? He certainly doesn't want to offend. He might not get any extra coin out of them.

"Ah... I'm a, a kitsune," he says, finally able to answer her question once the girl has stopped smelling him. "Guess you've never seen anyone like me before, huh?" At least she was only gawking because she thought he was interesting, and not some kind of freak. He found playing his fiddle to be easier in his natural form, but on the streets he tended to keep to his human form. The natives of Zobeck were used to him by now but there were a lot of travelers who, like this girl here, had never seen someone like him before. So disguising himself was an easy way to avoid a lot of stares and more unpleasant encounters. Alfen grins to himself, imagining how this easily impressed catfolk would react if he transformed right now.

Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
Sense Motive: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (2) - 1 = 1
Knowledge (Local): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9

Alfen steals a glance over at the two men sitting at the bar. He had been wise to leave them alone; it was always better for the entertainment in these sorts of establishments to know as little as possible about the dealings among the patrons.

And the Spyglass guild? Alfen frowns. He feels he should really know who they are, but he's too distracted at the moment to really concentrate. Shouldn't be eavesdropping anyway. Good way to get yourself hurt, Alfen. Just don't make eye contact, don't let them know you heard them.

Momo Duline wrote:
”My name is Momo,” Momo introduces herself, but lets her friends Morrigan and Írwen introduce themselves (if they choose to.) ”What’s your name performer?”

The question startles Alfen, mind still working out the worst possible scenario that would occur if the two criminals (well one admitted criminal and one guy who someone tried to hang maybe? So probably another criminal.) Sure, he used to be a petty criminal when he was a kid, but that was a long time ago. And these two were very different than the gang he used to run with.

He turns his attention back to Momo. "The name's Alfen. Alfen Greenraw."


HP 15/15 | AC 15 Tch 12 FF 13 | Fort +1 Ref +5 Will +2 | Insp: 1/4 used | Init +2 | Perc +10 | Buffs:
Grigori wrote:
"You find her before they do, you tell her those jewels she's wearing ain't worth the trouble. And you can have my share. Hers too if she'll part with 'em. They're no good to us with all this heat on us. I just don't want her gettin' hurt. Ask around at the Silk Scabbard. You could start with that lovely pit-fighter at the table next to us. I seen her fight there a few years back."

Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11

Know Local: 1d20 + 8 + 1d6 ⇒ (12) + 8 + (4) = 24

For once, Nik'olo can't get a read on the guy. Nevertheless, he analyzes the situation coldly and makes up his mind.

With a scratching voice, he replies softly, avoiding to be overheard:

Grigori:
"Look, Grigori, right? Well, I think you have the wrong guy. First, I don't wish to meet with the Guild. I'll likely end up in worse shape than you. Second, the deal you're offering me is full of holes. Let me explain what I mean: If the jewels are not worth the trouble, then why on earth should I wish to be the one holding them as my reward for warning her?! No, if you want me to warn your lady, it's coin up front or nothing."


Alfen Greenraw wrote:
Alfen takes the seat next to the young catfolk after a moment's consideration, and almost immediately regrets it. He squirms in his seat as Momo begins sniffing him (I thought this girl was getting a little too close before!) and casts a wide-eyed look to the two elven women as if to ask just what is she doing?

"It's just her way of saying hello. Something having to do with olfactory memory, I understand" Írwen interjects, recalling her own first encounter with Momo, nine years ago.

"We'll have to talk about this, Momo, if you're going to spend some time in Zobeck" she discreetly whispers in Momo's ear. "This smelling thing of yours might... give the wrong signals to some people. Unnerve them." If you're lucky.

Alfen Greenraw wrote:
He turns his attention back to Momo. "The name's Alfen. Alfen Greenraw."

"Írwen Larentil. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."


Nik'olo Gaczi wrote:
"Look, Grigori, right? Well, I think you have the wrong guy. First, I don't wish to meet with the Guild. I'll likely end up in worse shape than you. Second, the deal you're offering me is full of holes. Let me explain what I mean: If the jewels are not worth the trouble, then why on earth should I wish to be the one holding them as my reward for warning her?! No, if you want me to warn your lady, it's coin up front or nothing."

The stress of Grigori's situation seems to get the best of him for a moment, exasperation flooding his face. His voice goes up a notch as he struggles to explain. "I said it's not worth the trouble to us, with the Guild breathing down our necks. It's a jackpot for you! Just tell the girl I got pinched! That's all you have to do. Look, I'd do it myself but whoever's hiding her ain't gonna talk to me right now. On account of who it is I work for. Or used to. You see, I ain't no snitch, but..." his voice trails off, the color washing out of his face, eyes affixed now to the bar. "Look forget it, I gotta go."

At the bar, back turned to those at the tables, sits a man with an air of refined elegance setting him apart from the other occupants of the tavern. Glossy black hair cascades down to his shoulders, on which hang a crushed velvet cloak with a collar of luxuriant fur. From his brow protrude a pair of prominent horns like those of a goat, visible even from behind.

The tiefling man at the bar definitely didn't come in through the door, and he wasn't at one of the few other occupied tables in the tavern. He just wasn't there one moment, and now he is. The sleeping kobold is gone, and no one saw him leave either. Not bemused in the slightest, the bartender is calmly serving the new arrival a drink.

Grigori gets up and leaves the Wheatsheaf as suddenly as he arrived, without a glance back.


HP 15/15 | AC 15 Tch 12 FF 13 | Fort +1 Ref +5 Will +2 | Insp: 1/4 used | Init +2 | Perc +10 | Buffs:

Well s!%!... thinks the former thrall as he watches the man leave as quickly as he arrived.

An empty offer... Plenty danger with no sign of reward. Still... he thinks as he looks at the drawing the man has left on the table.

May be there's a way... What else do I have going?

He wonders at the Tiefling at the bar, taking a mental note of the missing Kobold, but otherwise turns to his neighbours at the next table: "Say, I was wondering, does anyone of you know this girl?" he asks as he places the drawing on the table for them to see.


The sketch of Ilyana won't look familiar to anyone.

Moments later a man in an apron comes out of the kitchen balancing two bowls of stew and hot tea. He is silent but attentive as he sets down the bowls, careful not to spill. The aroma is not like anything Momo has smelled before. Spicy and tantalizing, it stirs the senses.

"Enjoy," he says simply, before hurrying back towards the kitchen.


~~~~~~~RETIRED~~~~~~~ Chaotic Neutral Catfolk Ranger/?
Allegra Írwen Larentil wrote:
"I remember your father" Írwen replies in a hushed tone. "It looks like he taught you well. I hope everything's alright?"

Momo nods, smiling. She could say more about how her family and village is doing but Momo is distracted by all the action inside the Wheatsheaf Tavern.

Allegra Írwen Larentil wrote:
"Not personally, no. And neither I nor you would be wise to call him a friend. Let's just say Zobeck can feel like a small place from time to time, and some people's respective fame might precede them."

Momo trusts Írwen and takes Írwen’s words to heart.

"Ah... I'm a, a kitsune," he says, finally able to answer her question once the girl has stopped smelling him. "Guess you've never seen anyone like me before, huh?"

Momo shakes her head side to side.

Allegra Írwen Larentil wrote:
"We'll have to talk about this, Momo, if you're going to spend some time in Zobeck" she discreetly whispers in Momo's ear. "This smelling thing of yours might... give the wrong signals to some people. Unnerve them." If you're lucky.

Momo pouts a little and her hood sags. ”Mmm I’ll try.” Momo means what she says but sometimes she can’t help being a little impulsive.

---------------------------------------

DMG wrote:

At the bar, back turned to those at the tables, sits a man with an air of refined elegance setting him apart from the other occupants of the tavern. Glossy black hair cascades down to his shoulders, on which hang a crushed velvet cloak with a collar of luxuriant fur. From his brow protrude a pair of prominent horns like those of a goat, visible even from behind.

The tiefling man at the bar definitely didn't come in through the door, and he wasn't at one of the few other occupied tables in the tavern. He just wasn't there one moment, and now he is. The sleeping kobold is gone, and no one saw him leave either. Not bemused in the slightest, the bartender is calmly serving the new arrival a drink.

Moments later a man in an apron comes out of the kitchen balancing two bowls of stew and hot tea. He is silent but attentive as he sets down the bowls, careful not to spill. The aroma is not like anything Momo has smelled before. Spicy and tantalizing, it stirs the senses.

"Enjoy," he says simply, before hurrying back towards the kitchen.

Momo’s jaw drops open when she notices a poised man with cascading black hair wearing a velvet cloak appear at the bar… did he have… horns? Momo tugs on Írwen’s sleeve excitedly, loudly whispering ”Who is that? What is that?

Momo rises to get up but the food arrives. Momo’s stomach makes an audible growl and Momo obediently sits back in her chair. Food first, smell later.

To Momo’s disappointment, the kobold was gone. She had wanted to give the kobold a good sniff, but the creature with horns looks interesting. Momo wouldn’t mind giving them a good sniff either. Momo picks up the bowl of stew sniffing it while she stares at the creature with horns. Her stare is not subtle. The smell of hot stew wafts up through Momo's nostrils. Momo blows on the bowl of stew she's holding.


Female Elven Shadow Witch / 2 HP 13/13 | AC 13 Tch 12 FF 11 | Fort +2; Ref +2; Will +4 | Init +2\ Perc +5/7 (Familiar=+10) | S Motive + 7/9 | Stealth
Nik'olo Gaczi wrote:


He wonders at the Tiefling at the bar, taking a mental note of the missing Kobold, but otherwise turns to his neighbours at the next table: "Say, I was wondering, does anyone of you know this girl?" he asks as he places the drawing on the table for them to see.

Morrigan shakes her head cautiously at the ruffian-seeming fellow, looking him in the eye as she answers. "No, I have never seen her before."

Momo Duline wrote:

Momo’s jaw drops open when she notices a poised man with cascading black hair wearing a velvet cloak appear at the bar… did he have… horns? Momo tugs on Írwen’s sleeve excitedly, loudly whispering ”Who is that?” What is that?

Momo rises to get up but the food arrives. Momo’s stomach makes an audible growl and Momo obediently sits back in her chair. Food first, smell later.

To Momo’s disappointment, the kobold was gone. She had wanted to give the kobold a good sniff, but the creature with horns looks interesting. Momo wouldn’t mind giving them a good sniff either. Momo picks up the bowl of stew sniffing it while she stares at the creature with horns. Her stare is not subtle. The smell of hot stew wafts up through Momo's nostrils. Momo blows on the bowl of stew she's holding.

Morrigan frowns. Deeply. While she is not quite as obvious about it as Momo, she also watches the tiefling warily. In a low voice she whispers, mostly to the young catfolk woman, "I don't know, but it smells of danger and trouble... and none of our business."

She lifts the mug of steaming tea up before her mouth, inhaling its scent and glances at their two new table companions. "Any idea what is going on? Should we be concerned?"


HP 15/15 | AC 14 Tch 12 FF 12 | CMD 13 | Fort 1 Ref 6 Will 2 | Init +2 | Perc +4| Bardic Performances: 14/16| Dancing Lights 2/3| Kitsune Bard (Arcane Healer) 2
Allegra Írwen Larentil wrote:
"It's just her way of saying hello. Something having to do with olfactory memory, I understand" Írwen interjects, recalling her own first encounter with Momo, nine years ago.

"Ah, I see," Alfen responds, relaxing slightly.

Nik'olo Gaczi wrote:
"Say, I was wondering, does anyone of you know this girl?" he asks as he places the drawing on the table for them to see.

Alfen looks at the portrait with interest. "Can't say I do," he admits to the man. "And I didn't get a chance to thank you for the drink earlier, I hope I did the Rill of Bill justice for you," he adds, grinning. Momo and the elven woman's glances toward the bar draws his attention over there as well. Huh, I don't remember seeing this guy come in. Maybe he came through while I was distracted. And the kobold's gone too... This was less easier to explain away. He had seen the kobold earlier, when the drunk had been making a scene. It managed to stay unconscious throughout all that and the catfolk's screaming, and Alfen found it hard to believe that the kobold suddenly woke up and left so quickly.

Momo Duline wrote:
Momo’s jaw drops open when she notices a poised man with cascading black hair wearing a velvet cloak appear at the bar… did he have… horns? Momo tugs on Írwen’s sleeve excitedly, loudly whispering ”Who is that?”
Morrigan. wrote:
She lifts the mug of steaming tea up before her mouth, inhaling its scent and glances at their two new table companions. "Any idea what is going on? Should we be concerned?"

Was she talking to him? "I believe he's a tiefling," he says off-handedly to Momo, keeping his voice low. To Morrigan, he says "This tavern's normally safe though, I wouldn't be too worried." He shrugs noncommittally, but his face is a grimace.


The picture Nik'olo offers as he joins the table is of a female belonging to the same race as the man appearing at the bar, but there is no special resemblance aside from the horns.

If/when Irwen hears the girls name:

Irwen may vaguely remember one or two of the girls who worked the comfort rooms at the Silk Scabbard talking about a tiefling friend.. was Ilyana her name? But that was years ago.


Momo Duline wrote:
Momo’s jaw drops open when she notices a poised man with cascading black hair wearing a velvet cloak appear at the bar… did he have… horns? Momo tugs on Írwen’s sleeve excitedly, loudly whispering ”Who is that?” What is that?

Írwen frowns as she tries to associate the drawing to a name, a face, a place, but with little success.

Strange for such a looker to go unnoticed she considers with a pang of envy. Though her elf-like features are nothing short of stunning and she knows every trick in the book about enhancing her athletic, natural allure through clothing and mannerism, she's never fooled herself into believing she was the best-looking courtesan in Zobeck – far from it. So, she's always made a point about keeping tabs on the competition, actual or potential as the case may be. For her not to recognize a beauty of that calibre – it was perplexing to say the least.

"Perhaps a name might help, mmh?" she nonchalantly asks of the tall man holding the portrait.


HP 15/15 | AC 15 Tch 12 FF 13 | Fort +1 Ref +5 Will +2 | Insp: 1/4 used | Init +2 | Perc +10 | Buffs:

"He called her Ilyana... Does that ring a bell?" replies Nik'olo in hushed tones, suddenly wondering more and more about the other Tielfling in the room.

He smiles faintly to the foxboy, letting him understand he's enjoyed the song.


"No... yes. Perhaps."

She casts a nervous look at the tiefling at the bar, right where the unconscious kobold used to be. Kobolds are like cobblestones in Zobeck. Everybody walks over them, yet no-one notices them.

"If you're looking for her, the Silk Scabbard might be your best lead. I think a couple of girls there might know her" she says quaffing down the remaining of her drink. "Then again, maybe not. Could be worth a shot, though. I used to work there myself, though it's been years since I left. I could show you the way there and introduce you the girls, if you wish... for a price."


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HP 15/15 | AC 14 Tch 12 FF 12 | CMD 13 | Fort 1 Ref 6 Will 2 | Init +2 | Perc +4| Bardic Performances: 14/16| Dancing Lights 2/3| Kitsune Bard (Arcane Healer) 2

Alfen looks between Írwen and and the stranger whose name he still had yet to hear, utterly fascinated. He should excuse himself, get back to playing his fiddle and let these people be. But he was as curious as the rest of them just what was going on inside the Wheatsheaf tonight. Grigori claiming to know the stranger and the strange look on his face as he left. The mysterious tiefling man who seemed to appear out of nowhere. The kobold who just as mysteriously disappeared. And this tiefling woman... Illyana. It was a mystery, and Alfen was a sucker for mysteries.

"The Silk Scabbard, huh?" Alfen tries to keep himself from grinning as he looks over the drawing again. "Makes sense."


~~~~~~~RETIRED~~~~~~~ Chaotic Neutral Catfolk Ranger/?

By now Momo's food is cool enough to eat so she starts munching away happily. The tea isn't as sweet as she would have liked but she drinks it anyway.

Momo listens to the others talking around her.


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Female Elven Shadow Witch / 2 HP 13/13 | AC 13 Tch 12 FF 11 | Fort +2; Ref +2; Will +4 | Init +2\ Perc +5/7 (Familiar=+10) | S Motive + 7/9 | Stealth

Her stomach rumbling all the more after the scent of the stew begins wafting up from the table, Morrigan joins Momo as the girl begins to eat. While she dines, she listens to the conversation about her, taking note of names and places mentioned and trying to get a better picture of the city in her mind.

She also keeps an eye on the mysterious tiefling, some deep instinct within whispering that his kind were especially untrustworthy... and she hadn't missed the musicians grimace a moment ago. The man's popping into existence out of nowhere did nothing but exacerbate her natural instinct towards him. That sort of thing meant he had magic, and absently Morrigan wondered what sort it had been - illusion, teleportation?


As Momo and Morrigan enjoy their meal, the tiefling at the bar has a request for the barkeep. "Give me one last drink before I go, Ulmek. Something quick, very quick. I have to run."

The barkeep reaches under the bar for a different bottle and measures out a draught. The tiefling quaffs, and dismounts his stool, gliding out the door with preternatural speed. His posture and movements are those of a man walking casually but he crosses the room at the speed of a breakneck sprint, every motion accelerated. There is a murmur of astonishment from a minority in the room, but the clientelle in general seem used to such things, or wise enough not to remark. The barkeep acts as if nothing out of the ordinary has occured.


HP 15/15 | AC 15 Tch 12 FF 13 | Fort +1 Ref +5 Will +2 | Insp: 1/4 used | Init +2 | Perc +10 | Buffs:

Nik'olo can't manage much but blink as the Tiefling flings away.

He returns his attention to the woman: "The Silk Scabbard, yes, that's useful. Thank you very much."

Wrapped in his thoughts, he makes for the door, then catches himself: "My apologies, I'm Nik'olo Gaczi. I'm grateful for your help. If you'd like, you may join me..."


~~~~~~~RETIRED~~~~~~~ Chaotic Neutral Catfolk Ranger/?

Momo quickly finishes the stew and stands up, bowl in hand. She walks with feline grace and purpose towards the bar with the empty bowl. ”Excuse me. That was delicious. Can I have some more please? ...And bread if you have it?”

Diplomacy: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10

Momo looks around to see if the strange creature (the kobold) had fallen off the bar stool and is taking a nap somewhere. (Momo doesn't know!) Momo then glances back at the table where her friends are seated. Momo wants to make she her friends haven't left the tavern.

"Have you met anyone like me before?" Momo asks the barkeep conversationally. "There are a lot of interesting creatures who come through here." Like that creature with horns. Then, sidetracked: "Do you have anything sweet to eat? What's your favorite food here?" Momo's hood moves slightly from her ears twitching. Momo loves to eat.

Momo sniffs the air for nothing in particular. Perhaps she picks up on a lingering scent from a previous horned patron?

Perception (Smell): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20


Would Írwen be able to formulate the hypothesis the unconscious kobold was the glamoured tiefling all along, inconspicuously eavesdropping on the patrons, or would that take ranks in Spellcraft?

Írwen swiftly excuses herself from the table and catches up with Nik'olo just as the man is about to walk out of the door. This evening might yet turn a profit, after all.

"Írwen Larentil" she says. "And we better hurry. We might already have fallen behind in the chase."


HP 15/15 | AC 14 Tch 12 FF 12 | CMD 13 | Fort 1 Ref 6 Will 2 | Init +2 | Perc +4| Bardic Performances: 14/16| Dancing Lights 2/3| Kitsune Bard (Arcane Healer) 2

Alfen does a double take as the tiefling glides by and out the door. Gone just as quickly as he appeared, the kitsune muses. And how does he move like that? So fast, yet so graceful. I gotta admit, I'm a little jealous.

He stands up, thinking he should really get back to playing, as Írwen and Nik'olo discuss their plans to investigate The Silk Scabbard. He looks at them hesitantly, and pipes up, "You know if you need an extra hand I could probably lend some help." He's been playing for a few hours now anyway. He feels he's fulfilled his agreement with the owner of the Wheatsheaf, and if he hasn't... Well, he could probably talk his way out of it. Wouldn't be the first time, Alfen thinks to himself sullenly, though he does try to live more honestly now than compared to his youth. "I mean I don't want to intrude, but I have to say this is fascinating. I want to see how it ends," he adds, grinning sheepishly.


The barkeep smiles at Momo pleasantly. "Well little one, you can have as many bowls of stew as you like, as long as your friend keeps paying. After all we have a business to run! But look... these are sweet and free for our guests. Take a few! This batch won't get finished before closing time." He pulls out a tray from behind the bar lined with baked apricots wrapped in cured ham, skewered by toothpicks.

"You know I have not met anyone like you, but I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Pardon me, but are your kind related to the Nkosi of the Southlands? "

Momo Duline wrote:

Momo sniffs the air for nothing in particular. Perhaps she picks up on a lingering scent from a previous horned patron?

[dice=Perception (Smell)]1d20 +8

When Momo focuses her attention on the area the tiefling man had occupied at the bar, she identifies the lingering traces of a fragrance that must be a cologne he was wearing. Notibly, the fragrance was present even before he appeared, but mostly dissipated after he left.

The barkeep collects the cup he used to serve the tiefling his last drink, returning it and the unmarked bottle below the counter. As Momo sniffs she notices that the beverage was not alcoholic. It smells like an herbal tonic, heady and strange but not fermented.

Leaning over to see where the kobold is hiding, Momo sees a whole row of those unmarked clay bottles, each with a different color pattern and silhouette.

"Now, now little one," the barkeep cautions her. "Zobeck can be a dangerous place to go sniffing around. Best mind your manners." He smiles though, and seems genuinely concerned for her well-being.

______________

Irwen wrote:
Would Írwen be able to formulate the hypothesis the unconscious kobold was the glamoured tiefling all along, inconspicuously eavesdropping on the patrons, or would that take ranks in Spellcraft?

Oh, absolutely. Creativity and imagination are my favorite tools in the toolbox, I would never forbid that approach to my scenarios. The only part of that hypothesis you might need spellcraft for would be the game mechanics usage of the term "glamour". But that isn't vital to your premise.


~~~~~~~RETIRED~~~~~~~ Chaotic Neutral Catfolk Ranger/?

Momo’s ears shoot straight up, pushing up on the top of the hood, when the barkeep pulls out a tray of baked apricots wrapped in cured ham. Momo lets out a ”Purr?” of interest. She’s familiar with the apricot fruit. Momo immediately grabs one and takes a large bite, trusting the barkeep. Momo doesn’t think anyone would have any reason to poison food – poisoning food would be a complete waste!

DMG as barkeep in Wheatsheaf Tavern wrote:
"You know I have not met anyone like you, but I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. Pardon me, but are your kind related to the Nkosi of the Southlands? "

Momo shakes her head, mouth full of food like a chipmunk. She swallows the mouthful before asking: “The Nkosi of the Southlands? I'm not sure.” The top of Momo’s hood moves a little and she tilts her head in question: “Are they friends of yours? Do they like baked apricots too?” Momo holds up the skewer of half-eaten apricot. At the speed she’s consuming it, she’s either still hungry or it tastes delicious.

While the barkeep responds, Momo will sniff (refer to previous post)
Hmm a perfume? And a herbal tonic? ...But where is the smell of the other creature?

DMG as barkeep in Wheatsheaf Tavern wrote:
"Now, now little one," the barkeep cautions her. "Zobeck can be a dangerous place to go sniffing around. Best mind your manners." He smiles though, and seems genuinely concerned for her well-being.

”Ahh, sorry…” Momo rummages around in her cloak and pulls out some copper coins and two silver coins, sitting them on the bar. ”Another bowl of stew please.” Momo isn't sure how much things are supposed to cost. In Momo's experiences, her village normally bartered if they needed something. Momo grabs two more baked apricots skewered and wrapped in ham. Morrigan and Allegra should try one of these. Momo waits for the barkeep or someone from the kitchen to fill her bowl with another helping of stew before returning to the table with her friends. In parting to return to the table, Momo turns and tells the barkeep: ”I like you and your cooking. My name is Momo by the way. Now we are acquaintances. May I ask your name?” Momo leans forward slightly to sniff the barkeep. She wants to remember his scent while respecting personal space. (Does the barkeep smell human?)

With the two skewered apricots in one hand and the bowl of stew in the other, Momo dexterously slinks back into her seat next to Morrigan. She holds out a skewered fruit, baked and wrapped in cured ham, offering it to Morrigan. ”The nice barkeep said they are free to customers! You know, he’s a really nice guy.” Momo smiles and nods at her own proclamation. Yes, the barkeep handed out free food – how could he not be nice? If Morrigan doesn't want it, Momo will shrug and eat it.

Momo looks around for Írwen so she can give Írwen the other skewered fruit. Are Nik'olo and Írwen at the door of the tavern talking to the horned stranger? Momo is curious to know where her friend Írwen is but remains seated.

Still seated at the table with Morrigan, Momo turns to her traveling companion. ”Morrigan?" Momo whispers tentatively, gently pulling Morrigan’s sleeve. Once Momo has Morrigan’s attention, Momo pulls close and whispers in Morrigan’s ear so only Morrigan can hear:

Whispering to Morrigan:
”Both of those creatures at the bar had the same scent or maybe one was never there.” Momo crinkles her nose, remembering the scent, and continues in a whisper so only Morrigan can hear: ”There was a cologne present… even before the horned creature arrived. And he wasn’t here for the ale. His beverage was a herbal tonic. Actually, I think the barkeep is really good at making all sorts of drinks. Special ones.”

Momo leans back, away from Morrigan’s ear, redirecting her attention to the bowl of stew to blow on it. She smiles at Morrigan, enjoying her friend's company: "How's your stew?" Morrigan may seem a bit aloof and distant at times, but Momo trusts her.


Female Elven Shadow Witch / 2 HP 13/13 | AC 13 Tch 12 FF 11 | Fort +2; Ref +2; Will +4 | Init +2\ Perc +5/7 (Familiar=+10) | S Motive + 7/9 | Stealth
Momo wrote:
”The nice barkeep said they are free to customers! You know, he’s a really nice guy.”

"Are they now?" Morrigan asks, eyes narrowing slightly. Her glance roves about the common room, looking to see if any of the other customers have received similar free samples. She takes the apricot morsel from Momo, but does not eat it. Instead she sniffs at it once then sets it on the table in front of her. If Momo reaches for it, Morrigan stops her by placing her own hand above. "I may want it for later."

The tiefling had not paid for his drink, had he? Morrigan wasn't entirely certain, it had happened so quickly, but she was fairly certain that he had not. Nor had he seemed to have cast any spell, though his departure had the look and feel of one. A potion then? The tiefling and the tavernkeeper were most likely working together, Morrigan thinks to herself.

When she feels her companion tug on her sleeve, she glances over in surprise, so lost in her own thoughts was she. The elven woman leans in closer to hear Momo's whispers.

Her eyes widen ever so slightly and she nods slowly as she listens, as if hearing a confirmation of her own thoughts.

"Hmm? Oh... The stew is tasty enough. Did you like it?"

She leans in and speaks softly.

momo:
"Yes. I think they are potions, maybe magical ones. That's how the horned one left so quickly. There was only the scent of one, you say? That's... interesting."


~~~~~~~RETIRED~~~~~~~ Chaotic Neutral Catfolk Ranger/?
Morrigan wrote:
"Are they now?"

Momo smiles, unaware of what Morrigan is thinking. Seeing Morrigan place the food on the table, Momo reaches for it, but Morrigan stops her.

Morrigan wrote:
"I may want it for later."

Momo looks disappointed but nods loyally and returns to her second bowl of stew. It was cool enough to eat so Momo picks up the bowl with both hands to gently tip its contents into her mouth. She returns the bowl to the table, chewing a mouthful of stew. Momo nods at Morrigan's question, mouth full of stew. The stew tasted good. Their journey to Zobeck had been a long one.

Momo is pleased to have interested Morrigan with information. She sits content, eating and watching the room. Momo isn't worried about anything at the moment. Momo thinks about what Morrigan whispered back but isn't too concerned.


HP 15/15 | AC 15 Tch 12 FF 13 | Fort +1 Ref +5 Will +2 | Insp: 1/4 used | Init +2 | Perc +10 | Buffs:
Allegra Írwen Larentil wrote:

Would Írwen be able to formulate the hypothesis the unconscious kobold was the glamoured tiefling all along, inconspicuously eavesdropping on the patrons, or would that take ranks in Spellcraft?

Írwen swiftly excuses herself from the table and catches up with Nik'olo just as the man is about to walk out of the door. This evening might yet turn a profit, after all.

"Írwen Larentil" she says. "And we better hurry. We might already have fallen behind in the chase."

"Pleased to meet you. You think that's why he was here and left? Makes sense, perhaps, though I fail to see how he would have known the scoundrel Grigori would choose this place... In any case, no reason to linger here much longer. Are your friends coming as well?"


Momo Duline wrote:
Momo looks around for Írwen so she can give Írwen the other skewered fruit. Are Nik'olo and Írwen at the door of the tavern talking to the horned stranger? Momo is curious to know where her friend Írwen is but remains seated.

Yes, though I assume the horned stranger has already hasted away.

"Mmmh... Good point" Írwen answers thoughtfully. "Still, the Wheatsheaf is a favourite among the Cloven or the Redcloacks. There's little going on in Zobeck those two gangs wouldn't know. That kobold that used to be there and now isn't? There's hardly more inconspicuous a thing than something which everybody's used to having under his nose. A perfect disguise for eavesdropping, if you ask me."

She turns around towards the table where Momo and Morgraine are eating. "Coming, you two? You haven't even yet told me what brought you here. Fancy carry on our conversation as we walk?"

Alfen Greenraw wrote:
"I mean I don't want to intrude, but I have to say this is fascinating. I want to see how it ends," he adds, grinning sheepishly.

"By my guest. But when we split the shares, remember who found the lead" she smiles and says in a half-joking tone, a pretty obvious indication of the words being spoken in jest... or not?

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