"No shame to be had, Gorvio," Shannon soothes. "I simply did not want to be surprised if he began asking questions about what he knew. For example, had you told him they were borrowed for use in an outdoor theater, I could tell him they minded their bowels remarkably well through every act."
Celia nods. "Sounds good. You want me to go with you?" the young cleric asks as she raises a holy symbol above her head. With a soft prayer, she asks that the others in the church be blessed by their victory in battle.
"Thank you for your Goddess' blessing," Addie says to Celia as the healing energy washes over the group.
"I'll go with you to return the horses," Addie says to Zalika, Celia, and Shannon. "Where can we find your uncle?" she asks Gorvio.
Bringing the large pack of borrowed horses, plus the two extra, through the city and to the horse stall, the sight of the stall is preceded by angry yelling and a conciliatory calm voice.
Rounding a corner, one is treated to the sight of a large and successful horse stall, dozens of horses on display, being minded by a small, unassuming man with many of the same qualities as Gorvio. In front of the stall stands an average-sized but imperious and attractive blonde man, yelling at the horse dealer. The things he yells range from "You stupid incompetent monkey!" to "And I suppose that your horses are all secretly ponies in disguise?" to "Did one of my rivals put you up to this? Are you TRYING to sabotage my performance?"
Taking 10 on Perform (Sing) hits the DC for me
Even before the company has rounded the corner into the stall, Shannon can hear the imperious cries. "No."
He stops, and shakes his head. "I'd know that voice anywhere. Thesing. Thesing Umbero Ulvano, tenor of the Westcrown Opera. Just between us, he's a natural baritone with a decent tenor range, but he's always pitched as a genuine tenor. Hum."
If the girls aren't interested in such details, he looks a little put out, but continues on. "I may be drawn into this, so fair warning. He's very...high maintenance."
Shannon removes a kerchief from a back pocket, wets it with his tongue, and uses it to clean some dirt smudges from his cheek and his hands so as not to look entirely unpresentable. Then he strides into the stable, leading a horse.
"Oh, Thesing! Who is trying to sabotage your performance? And how could anyone, with a voice like yours?"
Bluff: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (16) + 12 = 28 to adopt a believeably flattering demeanor
"Anozher singer. Vhat is it vit some of zese performers zat zey get ze swollen heads? I'll give him a broken head if he yells at me like zat." Zali grumbles to the others as they lead the horses into the stable behind the diva. It's clear that the half-orc isn't referring to Shannon, but to the petulant, offended tone of this Ulvano. As she catches sight of that individual Zali's scowl deepens and she gives a rumbling, half-snarling growl of disgust at his behaviour.
Intimidate: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Thesing is interrupted mid-angry rant by Shannon, and as he turns, his gaze travels across Shannon's face, to the snarling half-orc behind him (and when he sees Zalika, a not-so-momentary grimace of disgust passes on his face) to the rest of the group with the horses.
"My horses!" he shouts, a fallacy that the horses' actual owner is too embarrassed to actually rectify (and in fact, Gorvio's uncle regards Shannon with the most classic 'help me!' look imaginable). "So that's where they went!"
Turning his actual body to face the castrati, he looks down at Shannon. "Mis....ter Rhys," he says, as if he's not sure whether to address Shannon with that honorific. "How nice to see a fellow performer out and about. Your outfit makes your face look less obviously feminine." His words and his charming demeanor are strangely incongrous, but he continues. "I don't suppose you stole the horses to disadvantage me, did you? It doesn't appear so, but one never knows."
|Celia Anetta Azurra|
Perform (act): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Celia, feeling a bit more... jovial than before, jokes to Zalika: "Let's stray from physical violence, if we can? Perhaps lean towards glowering. Good job. Good glower. The finest I've seen all day."
Bringing a horse to Gorvio's uncle, Celia pats her former steed on the head. Of course, Shannon's words are... she can sense a sharpness to them, and the blonde-- Thesing-- responds in kind. Celia all but pulls up a chair. She parks herself beside Gorvio's uncle, waiting with bated breath for Shannon's response to Thesing's half-veiled insults.
Raising an eyebrow at the cleric's unexpected levity, Zali gives a small smile in spite of herself, although it's hard to distinguish the expression from her scowl of a moment ago. Shrugging slightly and turning her back on the arrogant thespian, she follows Celia with the other horses and ties the reins to one of the hitching points in the stables, then takes a seat next to her. After listening for a short time, Zali leans in close and whispers to the cleric "How do you keep score in zis sort of verbal sparring match? Zere are no veapons I can see, but zey are still both of zem out for blood..."
"Perish the thought, Thesing, you've a longer face than they do," Shannon says, handing the reins of his own horse over to whomever is putting them away. "I'd sooner deny a Hellknight his horse than deny you the stage. In what role are you cast that calls for horseplay? I was just telling the girls here that they haven't lived until they've seen you in the element."
Shannon just smiles at Gorvio's uncle and appears to be attempting to distract Thesing so heavily from his berating with flattery and interest so that the poor old fellow is spared.
Replying to the witch in what Zali probably thinks is a whisper, "I zink so, at least on Shannon's part - but I don't believe zat ze puffed-up oaf is pretending to be an egotistical fool." The half-orc cranes her neck to look around the stables, as if trying to spot something, peering into the rafters and checking under the bail of hay upon which she sits. "Say, if zhere vas one fool in here already, vhere are ze rest of ze clowns hiding? Zey are alvays in troupes, you know..."
Thesing's hair seems to puff up a little bit when Shannon informs him that Shannon's been gossiping about him to his Shannon's female friends, and he smiles with glee. "Actually, it's a rather impromptu performance of The Elopement of the Dowager Princess, which features a scene wherein the handsome prince - played by me, of course - and his princess flee the city pursued by the King's horsemen." He begins moving about the horses, inspecting them, touching them, grimacing at the lather they've already built up. "It...it seems these are...adequate enough horses, though. You arrived just at the right time. I'll take them." he says, to a combination of Gorvio's uncle and the group.
He goes to fetch a man to gather the horses he wants up, and gives Gorvio's uncle a jangling bag of gold.
As he's leaving, he bows deeply to the women of the group and gives a curt nod to Shannon. "Perhaps I shall see you on the stage sometime. I look forward to performing with you, I'm sure you will make me look excellent." turning to the girls, he gives each of them an appraising gaze, eyebrow raised. "And perhaps I shall see you ladies again? Although I doubt it'll be in such a...professional manner."
With that, he turns on a heel and leaves, barking at his help to bring the horses quicker.
Gorvio's uncle sighs with relief at his departure, and approaches Shannon, hand extended. "I'm Jacovo. Thanks for getting rid of him, that was getting painful. You with Janiven and the rest?"
Thesing is given an enamored smile. Shannon seems rendered speechless by his sudden puffery. But no sooner does the thespian leave that the diva breathes a whore's sigh. But Jacovo's gratitude is a brief pick-me-up. He reaches out and shakes hands, his own as soft and limp as it looks.
"You're welcome, sir," and then he nods to the second question, but doesn't answer audibly. "Gorvio is just fine, too. Safe and sound."
"Thank goodness," he says, a smile spreading across his face. Jacovo's handshake is firm and his hands are calloused - the result of hard work with uncooperative animals, no doubt. "Thank you for bringing my horses back in one piece. Inheritor knows what you put them through."
"Nothing more than a pleasant afternoon's ride," Shannon nods, feeling the part of a true conspirator in that moment. The gravity of his transgression against national law occurs to him and there is a flutter in his chest, but he steels himself and stows it away. "Is there anything we can do to repay you for this? I know it must have been a difficult decision to support us when Gorvio let it slip during dinner conversation..."
Zali stands up and brushes the hay from her pants as she does so. "He sounded like a self-entitled, pompous, arrogant little bastard - mostly I suspect because zhat is exactly vhat he is." The half-orc gives her toothy grin to show she means no offense to Shannon, "I've had to spend too much time in zhe company of such pieces of garbage lately. Zhe itch zhat zhey give me on zhe palm of my swordhand is getting harder to ignore."
Looking around at Caelia and Addie to see if they are ready to leave as well, Zali waves farewell to Gorvio's uncle and heads for the stable doors. "So are ve heading back to vhere ve came from, or maybe asking around in zhe local taverns to see if anyone knows vhere Janiven is?"
|Celia Anetta Azurra|
Returning from Jacovo's, our heroes walk into the chapel to find that Janiven and company have actually already returned. The chatter between Yakupulio and Arael (the only revolutionaries to have witnessed the PCs' heroics) and the rest of the group is largely about who is more daring. Janiven and her group had to keep the Hellknight cavalry occupied for a long time and then stage a daring escape, but the heroes' group rescued the revolutionanies' leader and took out seven Hellknights without killing a single one.
The arguments are fierce but friendly, and there is a hearty welcome when they return to the chapel. The heroes are ushered into chairs at a table with Arael and Janiven, and each given a small plate of bread, cheese, and a simple tomato soup. Surely they must be hungry, yes?
"Good work," says Janiven, a wide grin on her face. She's sitting next to Arael and cleaning the wounds he'd sustained when he'd been beaten senseless by the Hellknights, but has paused to look over and congratulate the PCs. "I don't know what we would have done without you, and we haven't even begun our work."
When the soup is put in front of her, Zali thanks the person serving it, but inwardly she's disappointed at the lack of meat or drink on the table.
"Zhere vere qvite a few hairy moments, but ve pulled it off, somehow..." is all that she says in reply to Janiven's praise. "I am glad zat you and ze others vere able to get avay vithout any casualties. Ve vere all vorried about you lot, since you had ze mounted knights in pursuit. But it made our escape vith Arael here possible, so to you I say 'good vork' too."
To the fiercest of those who argue, Shannon is quick to interject. "One group could not have succeeded without the other. Each of us took great risks, and praise Shelyn, we were victorious. Each victory we share in equal measure, and so we must be equally daring."
More as an aside, though, he smiles to the glassblower. "What say you?"
The singer is grateful for the soup and uses his makeshift veil now as a bib, tucked cravat-like into his collar.
"I am sorry if you were injured when the cart was overturned," Shannon apologizes to Arael, brushing his lips with the bib after every two spoonfuls of tomato soup. "It just seemed the best way to stop them from just running away with you."