One moment, you're teasing the diabolically seduced bard who just slipped out of his bag o' chains and the next, you're looking at a pile of guts that just had countless lengths of chain skitter and slurp their way right back into (what was left of) his body.
Cawmirth blinked twice, then glanced back up at Lavinia, having been caught entirely flat-footed there. "Err... I ought to thank you for that. You are quite quick on the draw, I must say..." Glancing back down at their rather lifeless suspect, Cawmirth hopped back up, stretching a bit to regain his previous comfort level after hunching down next to him.
Much as he liked to think of himself as a man of great knowledge and varied learning, there wasn't much mundane talents could do at this point. With a glance towards Sebi, and a mind toward asking if she had any training that might be applicable, Cawmirth saw she was already vomiting forth ectoplasm. "Ah, I see you... have this covered."
Cawmirth made the calculated decision to stay very close by the Captain's side from now on, given how fast that bastard sword had snicker-snacked. "I must say, I'm glad we decided to take our time in the capital. I hate to imagine the welcoming Mr. Opus would have given us had we arrived after our little expedition..." His voice was low, meant not to interrupt Sebi, though he did occasionally glance here and there, wondering what Callista was yet up to.
Callista stops near the door, silent as a mouse, keeping an eye on the goings-on while maintaining her invisibility. The man appeared quite dead, but she didn't trust those chains one bit. She might be overthinking things, but it sure seemed like they were being lulled into complacence.
Pale green eyes narrow as Sebi chants another spell, likely attempting to speak with the spirit of the man. The priestess stayed at the ready, muscles taut, expecting the worst.
Stealth: 1d20 + 17 + 20 ⇒ (9) + 17 + 20 = 46
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
"Agreed. Not to mention the implications of having such a monstrosity hatching right in the middle of Almas' Theater District" Lavinia whispers without averting her eyes from Lady Moncrief and her ritual. "This does paint Yanas and Pomander's sudden disappearance in a more sinister light, though. But I'm confident we're about to know more about them in but a few instants" she muses as she watches Sebi's mystical fumes invading Kasoval Opus' lifeless figure.
"Still, good call on those Order of the Cypress leads, Professor. The Andoren people is indebted to you – even though they might know it not."
The luminous fog swells about Opus' face, and then sinks into his head through his eyes, nostrils, and gaping mouth. For a moment nothing happens, and then his dead flesh shivers, his jaw suddenly works spasmodically, and his eyes take up the same glow of the fog.
Again he clicks his jaw in a manner wholly unnatural, and then he blinks, once, twice, and turns his head to stare at Sebi.
"Who dares snatch my soul from the jealous grasp of Hell?"
Sebi continues in the soft tone she used before.
She asks, ”What was your involvement in Lord Janser’s betrayal of Andoran and the occupation of the Iron Keep?”
And then: “What was to be your next mission or goal after your transformation?”
Blue smoke rises from the cadaver's open mouth like vapor from a volcano's caldera. Sebi's questions hang in the air, and for a moment it looks the corpse simply will not answer, perhaps is not under any form of compulsion at all. Then, with that abruptness that screams of the spirit's unnatural connection to its former flesh, Opus' jaw jerks open as he responds.
"I had no involvement with Lord Junsar's betrayal."
"My... 'apotheosis' was sold to me as a means to unleash my creative potential, a way to expand my artistic horizons beyond all mortal ken. I foolishly believed I would thus embark on an aesthetic adventure whose creations would stun the ages. I was deceived. I realized only as my transformation began to take place that the creature I was to become would have no interest in art as I understood it. Thus I fought to renege on my pact, existing for an eternity in a state of limbo and pain. How my Lady actually intended to use me I do not know, but I realize now that it could only have been to further Cheliax's imperial goals."
The priestess remains silent, absorbing every word the spirit spews forth. Isn't that how it usually happened? You grasped for one thing, made a deal with forces greater than yourself, then find out it wasn't what you planned? She shakes her head silently, wondering who this Lady was.
Still a bit antsy, she remains invisible, giving Sebi quiet with which to work her sorcery.
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
He seems cooperative enough. Alas, it's quite likely he was little more than fiend spawning fodder in his Mistress' eyes. His Lady of Pain...
Again, a name that brings forth dark memories; a name she wishes only to forget. Outwardly, Lavinia keeps up her impassive facade. Having witnessed first-hand how intense this kind of communing could be for Sebi, she decides to avoid any interference, opting instead to fall back to her original role: an observer and a protector.
Sebi thinks for a moment. She's aware of the eyes on her, almost too aware. A slight shake of her head to get it back to the task at hand. She leans harder down on her knee, only just starting to ache now.
"Tell me about the Order of the Cypress, especially in relation to this 'Lady' and Janser's daughter."
There's another painful pause as the corpse considers the question. Sebi cannot but be aware of each precious second slipping by.
"The Order of the Cypress is a gathering of like-minded artists who seek to penetrate the truth beyond the mundane and visible. Kirilli Junsar was one of its founders, a most talented painter whose visions chilled and elevated the soul. She was the first to undergo the Lady's patronage, emerging from her apotheosis a demon of terrible beauty and power, an erinyes whose hold on her father was such that she -"
The blue smoke that pours forth from Opus' facial orifices glows brightly, and then fades away. The corpses features stiffen and grow still.
A demon! So that was why Lord Junsar had turned his cloak! The poor bastard was probably nothing but a walking host to his b&+$! daughter at this point, a puppet doing the bidding of Kirilli and through her, the Lady of Pain.
Callista finally relaxes as the corpse grows still once again, giving the man a brief sympathetic look before she slips out the door to await her companions. As far as she knew, chains were still in him, and she had no desire for a second performance of the disturbing dance the chains had done when they first entered.
In contrast to his usually chatty self, the raven remained silent for a good few seconds after Sebi's interrogation ended, a look of focused, intent concentration on his face. The spell finished before Kasoval had said his piece, his sentence left unfinished. An erinyes whose hold on her father was such that she...
As an investigator and chronicler of the hidden secrets of Golarian, that kind of half-uttered idea sent the tengu's mind into a flurry of possibilities. As a hack scribe of penny dreadfuls and bodice-rippers when he was young, that kind of half-uttered idea sent the tengu's mind into a flurry of other possibilities, too.
"Well, then!" Cawmirth squawked, with the kind of inappropriate volume and abruptness that would suggest he was interrupting someone. "While our leads may have largely run dry, unless we can draw anything of use out of our friend's writings, I do believe we are faced with yet another task whose urgency outstrips its connection to our mission."
Straightening himself up a little and assuming a somewhat more dignified mien, Cawmirth lifted one claw in echo of the ancient rhetoriticians of Azlant. "For master and novice alike, preparation is the difference between success and failure." In any crime or burglary, Cawmirth wisely omitted. "The favored motto of my rookery's great elder. With Lady Moncrief's well-conducted interrogation, I imagine we have a good sense of what we are getting into, and the possible opposition we face. Unfortunately, we are not working alone."
Cawmirth turned his attention to Lavinia, considering she was somewhat closer to the military structure of Andoran than the rest of her cohort. "The Golden Sky left for the Iron Keep this morning, with orders to infiltrate it. If we take it that the Undersecretary told us the great bulk of what she knew about the situation with Lord Junsar, which I believe is a safe assumption to make, we can also assume that the Golden Sky prepared to thwart a seditious general and not a demon possessed of powers of great suggestion. When you go into a house looking for a hidden safe, you won't tend to look for jewels sown into clothes in the wardrobe. The analogy came a bit too readily, Cawmirth clearing his throat and simply pointing out. "A plot point in a novel I'm working on, as an example..."
"My point is..." Cawmirth returned to his rather lofty manner, his hands moving like a conductor, trained as he was in the art of the chironomia. "Captain, if you have any means to securely contact the Golden Sky so that they might trust the message, they must be warned. If they have made haste, and Kirilli has acted quickly, it may be too late. The Undersecretary suggested the possibility that the Golden Sky might be defeated. A blow to the nation, but heroes often meet their deaths defending their people. If the Golden Sky are subverted, however... I am hard-pressed to imagine an event that could be more damaging to the morale of the people, short of the Supreme Elect himself turning traitor to Cheliax."
Of course, though he hoped there was some protocol for this kind of situation, Cawmirth knew how infiltration and missions of stealth usually operated. It was likely enough that the Golden Sky would be impossible to reach until they returned from the Iron Keep. But he liked the sound of his own voice, and the logic was sound enough, so he indulged his predilection to lecture and be the longest beard in the room.
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
So her worst fears have been confirmed. The Cult of the Cypress is but a facade for diabolists to corrupt misguided avant-garde artists and turn them into fiends, and an Erinyes is now in control of the Iron Keep. Lavinia's still in the process of assimilating this new paradigm when the Professor takes the floor. And if experience is any indication, he's probably going to keep it for a while.
Still, as it has often been the case that day, she has to eventually concede his disquisition proved as long-winded and verbose as it was wise; which in and of itself, makes it quite an accomplishment in wisdom. The conclusion, in particular, gives her plenty of food for thought. Covering up a failed mission is easy enough. One day a hero, the next as if you've never existed. But this?
"This prospective is beyond unsettling, Master Ravenheart. One more reason to make every single instant count" Lavinia says, a deep frown darkening her face. "I'll use my channels to warn the upper echelon about everything which transpired here. I pray it's not too late already."
With that, she casts one last look toward the grim remains of Kasoval Opus before making her way out of the room. "I'm leaving it up to you to check if there's anything of relevance here we might have overlooked. Professor, if there's anything more that can be learned from his papers, I'm confident you of all people will be able to extrapolate it. I'll make sure someone gets sent here to clean up this mess – in the meantime, try to seal this place shut once you head out. The situation's already about to get tense enough without maimed corpses mysteriously showing up in the middle of Almas."
She's already on the landing when she addresses one last set of words to her companions. "Rendez-vous is still in a couple of hours by the Hall of Reliquaries. Try to grab some sleep in the meantime. Remember, it's the Nine Hells, not just Cheliax, which conspire against us, so prepare accordingly; I'll see if I can get my hands on a couple of blessed ointments before morning." She bows her head ever so slightly. "Excellent job, everyone. The intelligence we gathered tonight is priceless. Lady Moncrief. Professor. Callista." She looks around circumspectly. "Wherever you are..."
Knowledge (planes): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20
She's referring to a bunch of oils of blessed weapon, which help bypass a devil's DR. By the way, what time is it exactly? I reckon it should be around 1 a.m., and Lavinia told her guards to show up just before sunrise, which being winter means around 7.00 a.m. (?); that should leave enough time to at least get some sleep...
The Calistrian fades back into view as the others exit the building, a thin journal in one hand, a haphazard sheaf of papers in the other. She grins at Cawmirth, practically thrusting the items at the tengu. "There you go, fine sir! It seems as a Professor of Linguistics, these are right up your alley!"
She backs away, reaching into her pack and pulling out a pouch heavy with coin and a jadestone frog. She whispers a short enchantment, checking for the telltale signs of magic, focusing it down on the frog to determine if it is just a pretty ornament, or more than that.
"I also found these on the desk. I'm sure the coins will be of use in aiding our mission, and the frog could be used as a bribe or an item, depending on its properties or lack thereof." Her bright green eyes are full of excitement, even though the signs of a long night are starting to show under her eyes.
When the corpse of Kasoval Opus is still once more, Sebi stands without a word and flexes her knee. Sensation prickles back into her foot, her ankle, and up into her calf. At the same time, the muscles in her shoulders are coiling tighter. She stretches her long neck side to side and around, and rotates her shoulders. These motions have the gravity of ritual about them. She uses the time to collect herself, and to allow for the roar of whispers to fade as it always does.
She listens to Lavinia and simply nods her assent. She thinks about going back to the villa as the captain walks out of the room. She'd already prepared herself to leave, "To die?" creaks the floor, "To run?" groans the door. She finds that she doesn't really want to go back now. She only wants to go forward.
"Professor," she says, "If you are indeed to remain behind, I would stay and aid your research if you wished it. My expertise will not be as complete as yours, but my lessons have touched on a wide variety of knowledge." She points to one of the walls. "And I too know this language."
Linguistics: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Knowledge (Planes): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Knowledge (Local): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14
Knowledge (History): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (15) + 13 = 28
Knowledge (Nobility): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (4) + 9 = 13
Few would object to being addressed as "Master". But, Cawmirth was a rare bird. He didn't really make any attempt to hide his annoyance at the title Lavinia addressed him with. After all, he didn't spend all those years studying simply to be called a Master of his art. He was a Abadar-damned doctor!
But that annoyance didn't stop him from at least accepting his obligation to be the thinking man of the group. "Yes, well, I suppose I am the only one properly educated to make sense of things here. Though, this flat is hardly conducive to study, even if it weren't for the cor-gah!." Cawmirth got the diaries and assorted papers from an only just visible Callista. For all his love of sneaking up on people, he hadn't really, up to now, thought much about how annoying it must have been.
At least Sebi offered to lend a hand. Not that he needed it (his aloof posture, beak lifted high suggested as much), but he could at least appreciate the thought. "A fine thing that your status hasn't predisposed you against getting a bit of dirt under the old fingernails!" Cawmirth glanced down at the gore spattered over the floorboard. "...or blood, as the case may be. Well, let's get down to it, shall we?"
The bird reached into his haversack and proceeded to draw out a copious collection of reference books and materials, including a massive, ancient slab of granite elucidating the intricacies of ancient Osirian grammar. He was practically carrying a small library in there!
Linguistics: 10 + 26 + 2 + 3 = 41
Knowledge Planes: 1d20 + 6 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 6 + 2 + 2 = 15
Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 16 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 16 + 2 = 20
Knowledge History: 1d20 + 16 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 16 + 2 + 2 = 29
Knowledge Nobility: 1d20 + 6 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 6 + 2 + 2 = 22
While he was happy to share some insights here and there as they'd gleaned what they could from the diary and a closer analysis of the writings on the walls, as their investigation was drawing to a close, Cawmirth raised a clawed little hand. "As much as I'd like to discuss our thoughts at more length, it is devilishly late. I'm sure we can continue our little discussion once our less intellectually inclined companions are present, don't you agree?"
Whether she did or not, Cawmirth would offer some perfunctory gracious words and shuffle his feathered butt back home to get some sleep. His habits of breaking and entering at night meant that he was particularly aware of how deliciously nice it was to sleep at night and not have to work through the morning twilight.
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
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per tres consequeris Unum
per Unum novem urentur.
The whispered tristich opens the door to the small chapel, allowing the entrance of a rush of moonlight and a lone figure standing against it. It has taken Alysandra only a few minutes to walk the length of the Avenue of Gods up until it crosses the Andoshen River, only to turn abruptly into a secondary avenue as soon as she'd reached the left bank. A few short instants later, and she found herself suddenly surrounded by the majestic scenario of the Field of Concord. She didn't make straight for the Palace though, or even the Golden Aerie, and instead followed a small street skirting around the Iomedaean Cathedral before entering an inconspicuous alley, almost hidden in the imposing shadows of the surrounding building. A long time has passed since the last time she stepped through the small door at the very end of the cul-de-sac, and Alysandra was relieved to discover the pass phrase still works.
The shrine's empty, just as she expected given the lateness of the hour. During the day, it usually sees a moderate bustle of faithfuls, mostly Eagle Knight paladins from the nearby Golden Aerie who, inspired by Talmandor's deeds, have embraced the worship of the more war-like Empyreal Lords among the Celestial Host. It was one of them who, upon noticing the young recruit's faith in Ragathiel, introduced Alysandra to this particular mystery cult. From then on, that small chapel has become the closest thing she has to a home during her stays in Almas, and she's missed it dearly during the last six months she's spent in Augustana. It comes as little surprise then that she's instinctively picked this location as both the safe house and the place of meditation she was looking for.
First things first she thinks, as she feverishly unpacks the cherry wood case Thanasia gave her. In the absence of a true desk, she lays some parchment on the cold stone ground before kneeling down herself. She nervously picks the enchanted pen up and writes the codes she was taught before finally drafting her report – which, as she soon starts to realize, ends up being closer to a stream of consciousness rather than a well-structured account of the night's events, such is her urgency in jotting it down.
Order of the Cypress discovered as being nothing more than a cover to turn misguided artists into devils loyal to Cheliax's cause. Tracked down one member by the name of Kasoval Opus in the process of being transformed into some sort of chain devil – presumably a kyton, impossible to determine with certainty due to prompt neutralization of the threat. Further interrogation made possible by virtue of Lady Moncrief's divinations. Leadership of the Order apparently belonging to one 'Lady of Pain', also directly responsible for the 'apotheosis' process, as members tend to refer to it. Kirilli Junsar confirmed as a founding member, having already undergone transformation into an Erinyes, as well as being the true power in control of the Iron Keep. Two additional members, Wilshire Pomander and Essea Yanas, presently still at large, having supposedly left Almas a month ago.
Immediate redefinition of Golden Sky's mission parameters highly recommended; probability of facing a full-fledged devil force instead of a simple traitorous lord too high to disregard. Additionally, any known Order of the Cypress member within Andoran's borders should be considered a threat to national security and immediately hunted down and apprehended.
Post Scriptum: send clean up team to the following address insert Opus' address here :). If possible, ensure no delicate stomachs are involved.
With that, she carefully replaces the pen where it belongs. Done she thinks. Now I only have to wait. Before she leaves, however, there's another duty she feels she has to attend to. Standing up, she takes a few steps toward the simple altar at the end of the room before falling down to her knees once again; though this time, it is reverential rather than pragmatical.
Finally, the time for me to become a full-fledged instrument of your glorious vengeance has come, my Lord. This body of mine which I've honed into a weapon for you to wield – make it but a vessel for your righteous wrath, my sword the tool of your will. Dispose of them as you see fit. Instill fear into your faithful's heart, not of death, but of the ignominy of defeat. In life, service. In death, immolation.
As if in response to her prayer, a grim sense of determination pervades her. Suddenly, the prospect of facing the hordes of Cheliax and their diabolical masters seems now galvanizing, as if every muscle in her body's screaming for battle. Even the idea of dying in battle seems to hold the promise of a great reward rather than just the simple dullness of oblivion. Ragathiel is pleased.
Only a couple of hours separate her from her early morning meeting, and she knows she'd better use them by grabbing some sleep if she wants her performances to be on par with her self-imposed standards. On her way out, she leaves a bagful of gold on the offerings plate, in compensation for taking two vials of a thick yellow ointment from a nearby cabinet; a balsam whose potency against devils her fellow cultists were quick to teach her.
A few short minutes later, she's crossed the Field of Concord and made her way back to her rather spartan room in the Palace's barracks. She eventually falls asleep just as Callista's spell gently releases her grip on her, suddenly allowing the long day's weariness to finally overcome her.
Putting the coins and frog back into her pack, Callista yawns as Sebi and Cawmirth start to talk about deciphering the diary and all the gobbledegook on the walls. The priestess feigns interest long enough to wait for a break in the conversation before speaking, "It's been a long night. As much as I want to stay up with you party animals, I think I need some sleep. Unless one of you ladies wants to come warm my bed this evening? Professor?" She laughs, voice melodious as she begins to move away. She doesn't expect company, needless to say, bunch of prudes that they were.
"Meet me at my establishment in the morning? Well, later in the morning? Cawmirth knows the way. Good night, all." Callista makes her way through the streets to her residence, tired but with a determined gait. She cursed her body's need for sleep, as time was of the essence, but she wouldn't be doing herself or her team any favors by performing at less than optimal levels.
She makes it to her place, sliding a key in the door and quietly opening it, then locking it behind her. She thinks to make her presence known, then shrugs, quietly padding to her upper room flat, where she promptly drops into her bed, her exhaustion quickly taking her to the land of dreams...where two beautiful angels awaited her, along with a man with rent flesh, bound in chains.
Ready to proceed to morning, if all others are ok with it. Likely will change my spell list.
The mess of documents is hardly a challenge to decipher and read. Clearly written by Kasoval Opus with no other intended audience but himself, they do a wonder of putting his character on display. From his cantos to his journal entries he comes across at once as a man enamored by the world's imminent realization of his enduring talent and disdainful and mocking of the plebeian aesthetic tastes of those around him.
His fascination with death resonates through everything, from his late night visits to cemeteries to a brief stint he did as an undertaker while still in Augustana. He reviles his poetry from the time as infantile and facile, but it was what drew him to Pomander's attention, who invited him to a soiree where Kirilli Junsar was in attendance, and it was there that their friendship was forged.
The Order of the Cypress, Opus boasts, was but a shadow of its potential when he entered the scene, and began to proselytize its values during his travels across Andoran. Kirilli was its high priestess, but she rarely left the Windburn Vale. For two glorious years Opus documents the growth of the Order, though he is almost always critical of its own members, castigating them for their lack of depth and appreciation for the morbid issues around which their art revolved.
The first mention of the Lady of Pain occurs a year ago, brought up by Kirilli as a new patron that approached her in dreams. At first Opus clearly thinks of her as a metaphor, but when he realizes she is an otherworldly power from beyond the grave, he begins to document his rage and lamentations that Kirilli will not effect an introduction.
Kirilli herself, he marvels, affected her apotheosis three months ago. He saw her once since then, and was thunderstruck by her transformation, her change, the depths to which her intellect could pierce. He beseeched her and was told that his wish would be granted if he could establish a vital growth of the Order within Almas. So he came with a couple of members to grow their cabal, always with an eye toward being deemed worthy.
His usage of infernal stems from that period, and while awful and clumsy to begin with, quickly grows in skill. He is finally granted his wish when his cabal implodes under the opprobrium of the art scene, to his initial confusion, but he rationalizes his success after due to his having pushed the envelop in an exemplary way.
His meetings with the Lady of Pain are only described in poetry, and the force of these verses is striking and stirring. Whatever she may have been in actuality, Opus believed her a demi-goddess. He hints of the secrets revealed to him, at the breadth of her power within Almas, and how inevitable her complete dominion of both the city and the country must be. He describes her gokden mask with horror and awe, and how she never removed it even when they engaged in carnal pursuits. Finally she granted his desire to 'ascend'. However, she wished him to do so within her hidden temple within Almas; instead, he chose to surprise her by accomplishing the ritual himself, so as to present himself to her fully formed, and thus grow even more in her estimation than Kirilli.
The last entry is penned as he is set to begin the ritual, two weeks ago. In his best infernal, he states his desire to change the face of the world, to plumb the secrets of the stars, and to revoke the yoke that is the mortal coil. He admits to signing the three sacred pacts with his own blood, consigns his soul to the void, and then promises the world will marvel at the greatness he shall soon unleash upon it within the 24 hours it takes to achieve apotheosis.
Notably, the three contracts are missing from his collection of papers.
The hour is late when Alysandra pens her report, and she is about to give up on receiving a response when her pen suddenly begins to move fluidly across the page. The script is elegant and forceful at the same time, and the writing comes with surprising speed.
Impressive discoveries. Well done, though I must note that these activities fall outside the scope of your directive. I shall take your revelations into account and seek to inform the Golden Sky, but expect you to be more focused and on task moving forward. Your next report, I trust, shall come from the field.
The priestess awakes early, as is her routine. In her 'religious' dealings, she has gotten used to late nights and early mornings. She keeps her bed by a window, just in case her internal clock is a bit jumbled, so that the pale rays of the morning sun can shine down on her, the light waking her. Such was the case this morning, Callista rising and immediately squinting as the bright sunlight assailed her.
She sighed, allowing herself a couple of minutes of relaxation, enjoying the soft comfort of her mattress, before she rose and hopped immediately into the cold waters of her bath. She shivered, but dutifully scrubbed herself, pouring a generous amount of expensive shampoo into her hand and working it through her thick brown mane. She stepped out of the tub, drying herself as she looked through her remaining wardrobe. She spends several moments perusing the garments before finally selecting a pair of form-fitting black leather leggings, squeezing herself into them inch by inch. For a top, she chose a bright yellow cotton shirt, the sleeves barely existent, the neckline coming to a V that ends at her sternum, exposing a generous glimpse of the pale flesh of her breasts.
Nodding in satisfaction as she looked in a mirror, she brushed her hair quickly, pulling it back into a simple tail this morning. A bit of makeup, and she was ready to go. She went to her knees, starting her morning devotion to her goddess, eyes closed and hands on the floor. For an hour she stayed in this position, hardly moving as she communicated with her goddess, asking, then begging for Her favor this day.
Once this was done, she went downstairs, grabbing her pack on the way and slinging it over a shoulder as she made her way outside, looking bright and fresh as she awaited hr companions. She chuckled, wondering what kind of condition they would be in.
The morning light that filters into the Hall of Reliquaries is as pale and delicate as gossamer. No candles are lit along the eastern wall, and the shadows have a velvety quality of them, as if not quite yet ready to give up the substance bestowed upon them by the night.
The four soldiers are already in place by the time Alysandra arrives. They stand at ease, helms beneath their arms, alert and fresh like old campaigners always seem to be regardless of how many hours sleep they received. Their half plate ceremonial armor is polished to a high gleam, and their cloaks are of a rich cobalt blue so deep they appear almost black in the morning light.
Rahgnall looks up as Alysandra enters, and gives her a salute that is mostly formal, but with just a slight hint of cynicism that every veteran comes to adopt once experience has taken the gloss off of service and replaced it with a stoic realism as to the nature of power, it's goals, and how it uses those who would execute its commands.
"Good morning, Captain." His voice is deep, just shy of a drawl.
The other three turn and quickly fall in line, as always watching her carefully for signs of what manner of officer she might prove to be. The past few days of working together have gone a long way to assuage their concerns, but they've yet to see her in battle, to see how she handles true strain. Until then, it's clear they're wary, ready to be forced to compensate should she snap under duress.
Just a piece of mood flavor. Feel free to kick off you post as you five arrive at Callista's.
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
"Good morning, Rahgnall. Nyle. Edvard. Seberg."
Lavinia strides confidently into the room, her blue and gold livery accentuating the martial poise of her gait. Lending the delegation the appropriate gravitas: Lady Eregina's words still echoed in the Captain's half-asleep mind as she was busy dusting off her old Eagle Knight uniform for the occasion, tight fitting white pants and double-breasted coat worn over her chain shirt, complemented by a set of crossing white sashes. Fluttering behind her, the same cobalt cape she was wearing the day before seems now vivified in the diaphanous morning light.
A brief inspection of her small platoon finds every single detail in impeccable order, and the Captain nods at her men approvingly. "We're supposed to reunite with our protégés at Lady Jeggare's residence; Edvard, Nyle, I take it you know the way. Don't worry – there will be no false starts today" she declares as she looks each and every one of them in the eye, studying them, gauging their reactions.
They're suddenly placed under the orders of a freshly transferred young Captain no-one's ever heard of – one who's barely half their weight, one could mention. They must think I've got this position thanks to some sort of political maneuvering. Well, they're not entirely wrong.
It's not a terribly long walk before they cross the northernmost of the Andoshen's tributaries and they find themselves marching along the streets of the Merchant District, already buzzing with activity in spite of the early hour. Lavinia follows Edvard and Nyle into the rapidly intensifying sound of clanking hammers, until a couple of turns later Callista's unmistakable figure appears standing in wait at the entrance of an unostentatious two-story building.
"Good morning, Callista" she cordially greets the priestess. "I have to say, you really don't look like someone who not even a couple of hours ago was busy forestalling the most gruesome horrors the Nine Hells can regurgitate" she says in a half-serious, half-facetious tone.
"Long story" she cuts short turning towards her men.
There are certain sections of Kasoval's writing that catch Cawmirth's attention. This is due to two similarities between them all - grandiloquent statements (if not outright lies) and a change in the writing style. Passages wherein Opus claims his genius, or elaborates on how the nobility fawned on him, or how important his art was to become are written in a faster, looser manner, as if Opus had become uncomfortable while writing them down and wished to hurry on to other concerns.
Which is why the section where he explains how the Lady of Pain was willing to perform the ritual of apotheosis on him is so fascinating to Cawmirth - for it takes on the same looser, hurried writing style.
Callista laughs, shaking her head. "Good morning, love. You give me too much credit, I think. I believe you were forestalling, whilst I was busy looting. But I appreciate the sentiment, at any rate." She winks at the woman, brushing an errant lock of her bangs out of the way. "Besides, long nights kind of come with the territory when you serve The Lady in the Room, although what happens during the night is always up for debate."
The woman grins deviously, looking at Lavinia's guards for their reactions before settling her gaze on the woman herself. She smiles knowingly, drawing close to the woman. "I was expecting you first, truth be told. The discipline of a soldier lends itself to a routine, while our matriarch and librarian have led a softer life, I think. Still, I suppose we can start laying plans."
The woman continues to smile, though in a more friendly and less predatory way than the previous day. "We are going to Alastor, I believe the consensus was. It seems as though the people there won't be hostile to our mission, though the presence of a council as opposed to an individual does lend itself to problems. Perhaps we should figure out which council-members hold sway, beyond for Thorn, and approach them individually?"
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
"Divide and conquer. I like it" Lavinia replies with a pleased look on her face. "Then again, I've heard it said that wars and negotiations are but each other's natural extension, so it's no wonder we share a similar mindset on this matter."
It doesn't take long for her expression to turn serious and focused once again, however. "If we take this approach, we might want not to make our official presence known until we've had enough time to test the waters a bit. Alastor might seem the least hostile of our targets, at least on paper, but I am yet to meet a council which isn't a vipers' nest teeming conflicting interests."
Trying to recall anything useful about Alastor's political climate.
Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Knowledge (nobility): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Sebi hadn’t wanted to return to the villa, to those worries and life that she’d left behind if only for a little while (it felt so long ago now…), and so she hadn’t. She’d searched in this part of Almas for the most up-scale inn she could find, a difficult feat to be sure, but she’d finally settled on one, and hurriedly gone up the stairs after paying a squat woman with deep age lines in her face. There was a large window in the room, and after hiding her belongings, taking off her armor, and dressing for sleep, Sebi watched the clouds above scrolling in front of the big, cold moon. She looked at her eyes’ reflections in the glass.
”Can you do it?” she whispered to herself. ”Can you follow it all the way down this time?”
Her jaw tightened. ”And for who?”
She drew the heavy curtains, and went to bed soon after, the questions still hanging in the dark air.
In the morning, she rises, her mind still believing somehow that she’s in the villa. The displacement washes through her when the dirt in the corners of the floor comes into view. The wrong night stand. The wrong footsteps in the hall beyond. She dresses quickly. Almas in the early morning still shines, window added to window and multiplied across a dozen inns and homes and places of business. She doesn’t have time to think of failing them all. She gathers up her belongings and puts on her armor and lets the glamer drip down the steel while she checks everything over. Satisfied, she takes her leave of the room fast and efficient. She glides through street crowds, ignores criers and salesmen and vendors and takes the open, public ways to Callista’s place.
When she sights the building (after making a few wrong turns here or there), she sees Lavinia and Callista talking out front. She catches the last half of the conversation as she is making her way up to them. When there is a moment, she says, ”I agree that Alastor’s council may prove difficult. However, I do not wish to spend too much time on them if it becomes clear Thorn’s hold on them is absolute. We have less than a month to rally as many of the settlements to our cause as we can. Also, it may be difficult to hide my presence within Alastor for long. I could distract Thorn with my presence to give you enough time for your dealings. What do you think?”
Callista gives Sebi a curious glance. "Why would it be difficult to hide your presence within Alastor? Surely with the glamors I know you can create you could remain hidden or mask your identity?"
The priestess then shrugs, tied up hair bouncing softly with the motion. "Still, getting a feel for the politics should be our number one goal, I agree. If the council is no more than a farce, we'll concentrate on Thorn, agreed."
"I think the first order of business is to figure out if this Thorn is married." Callista flutters her eyelashes at Sebi, grinning.
Unlike humans and their naked, flabby bodies so well-disposed to being washed with an absolutely unnecessary amount of water, Cawmirth needed little more than a soapy cloth and a damp one to give his feathers the proper washing and rinsing. It was quick and convenient and something of a matter of pride.
But then, being something of a lone minority, a trinket in his every interaction, he clung to those superior traits as a man ship-wrecked to a piece of flotsam.
Cawmirth, never one to be in a rush unless it was to escape brigands, monsters or guardsmen, comported himself with the unhurried ease of a man of tenure as he arrived at Callista's residence, finding a lively discussion already underway. Strategy about how to go about their business in Alastor. It was an important thing to discuss of course, and one he was happy to give them the leeway to hammer out to their full satisfaction.
For the bird, the notion hidden between the lines of that diary that Opus was somehow less than whole-heartedly involved in this Order of the Cypress was not an easily stomached one. It wasn't that he'd died gruesomely that weighed on his thoughts, but that the man, by a rash decision here and there, had flung his soul to eternal torment. Cawmirth knew the impetuousness of youth. He worked with them every day. It was easy enough to imagine his own students in a similar predicament.
"Yes, well, if anyone can find a way into his head, or around it, I'm sure you're the lady for the job." Cawmirth interjected, euphemism unable to disguise his own mild sense of disgust thinking of the underlying human anatomical function referenced by his crude pun.
"I'm sure you all will be able to craft a masterful approach to beguiling, cajoling and variously drawing the councilors to Andoran's defense. The only thing I have to add is to be careful. Kasoval's transformation was one that would have been completed in a mere 24 hours, and which was begun by the ritual signing of three diabolical contracts. Contracts which were taken from his abode. Whomever you speak with, in whatever capacity you interact with them, be mindful that there are yet members of this conspiracy active in Almas and potentially anywhere else we visit." Cawmirth paused, weighing whether to speak on the shift in Kasoval's writing. The change in its common characteristics. He glanced over at the knight whose sword had cut through the man who had, granted, posed a threat. Perhaps it was better to let it lie until they had their next interaction with one of these Cypressians.
"That's all I have to add. I'll leave the diplomacy to the diplomats."
Knowledge (local) 19
Alysandra has heard a fair amount about Alastor, in large part due to the central role the city plays in acquiring the griffin mounts used by the Golden Legion's elite flying units. The city is of decent size, and climbs up a mountainous slope to the Silver Eyrie, a great building that doubles as both the seat of the Council and the training ground wherein the young griffons are broken to the saddle.
Numerous ruins slice through the city, primarily in the form of great aqueducts that once carried water south into more arid heart of the Windburn Vale. These now serve only to divide the city into its quarters.
Alysandra knows that the Alastor council is indeed dominated by Aurion Thorn, but that the Griffon Maester of the Golden Legion also sits on the council, a half-orc by the name of Ossok Horn, while the other four council members are a wealthy merchant by the name of Lysander Poolt, another nobleman by the name of Ser Forsyth Erekiar, a bishop of Pharasma whose name evades her, and the popularly elected Jain Kinch, whom Alysandra vaguely recalls hearing is off low birth and holds the ear of the people.
Knowledge (nobility) 12 There are four noble families of note in Alastor, but Alysandra can only recall Aurion Thorn, the scion of an ancient line, and Ser Forsyth Erekiar, a much older man who scandalously evaded combat duties during his youth.
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
Lavinia chuckles despite herself at Cawmirth's farcical jest. Her hilarity, however, soon dies in her throat as the crow-like Professor goes on expounding his discoveries, a deep frown appearing on her forehead.
"So it appears we've only scratched the surface of this particular conspiracy" she states pragmatically. "I'll be sure to pass your findings on to the higher-ups. Better yet, it you'd be willing to pen down your own conclusions regarding Opus' writings, I'm confident your insight will be much appreciated by those in charge".
A brief pause, and the Captain's composure suddenly shifts towards a more solemn pose, her tight-fitting blue-and-golden uniform accenting her slender figure and making her seem taller than her 5 foot 4. "As I speak, I have every reason to believe members of the Order are being apprehended and charged with treason everywhere throughout Andoran. Now that we're all here, allow me to extend you the people's gratitude on behalf of the Andoren government. None of this would have happened if not for the intelligence which was gathered last night."
"As for Alastor" she says in that same dignified tone she's used until now, as if she were a soldier briefing her commanding officers, "I agree with Professor Ravenheart on this one." She gives two long, appraising glances to the other two women present. "Lady Jeggare, Lady Moncrief, you are the two prongs our whole plan for rallying Windburn Vale around our banner relies on, the front lines of our assault, if you wish. Ultimately, the decision regarding the best course of action to take in this effort weighs on your shoulders and your shoulders alone. However..." She leaves the sentence hanging in the air, a pensive yet determined expression on her face as she appears to gauge the others' reactions. "However, and it's probably the soldier in me talking, with time being in scarce supply I think Lady Moncrief has a point here. Feign your main attack, and then hammer your opponent on multiple fronts while he's distracted."
She lets her words sink in for a while before continuing. "In addition to Thorn, five other people sit on the city council. While the distinguished Matriarch of esteemed House Moncrief, escorted by a honor guard handpicked form the Palace Guards' very ranks, announces herself to the Burgomaster as the envoy of the Supreme Elect himself, the three of us might have enough time to discreetly probe the council's intentions through less... let's say official means. Ossok Horn is the local Golden Legion's Griffon Maester, a military man I believe I share a common background with. Then, if I recall correctly, there's Lysander Poolt, a merchant, Ser Forsyth Erekiar, an old nobleman who was long ago involved in a scandal about him shirking his military duties, the Pharasmin bishop, and finally Jain Kinch, a man of the people first and foremost, apparently very popular among the lower classes."
"This is what little information I can recall from the top of my head. I'm sure our more learned companions can probably dig up something more interesting."
The Calistrian laughs at Cawmirth's crude pun, taking it all in stride. She fully believed in being true to one's self, even as she spent vast portions of her life living a public face while having a completely separate private life...and there was no use glossing over the facts, as they were.
At Lavinia's words of praise and thanks, Callista seems non-committal, though she smiles nevertheless. The people's gratitude didn't mean very much to Callista, honestly. It was the viewpoint of those in power that mattered to the ambitious priestess. She was wise enough to at least be polite, though. There was no use alienating her more patriotic companions.
"So while Sebi prances about with Thorn, do the rest of us split up, or stick together while we scout the intentions of the rest of this council? I know you worry for mine and the Professor's health, but conversating with and persuading five different people along a course of action takes time."
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
Lavinia knows the conundrum all too well. Concentrate all your forces on one front, and you might win a battle but lose the war. Spread them too thin, and you risk sending them to their slaughter.
"The role that was given me is to provide you all with protection as well as the necessary sense of authority. I cannot, in good conscience, refuse to fulfill my duty should that'd be what's requested of me, especially in the light of Professor Ravenheart's revelations" she sighs. "Your Goddess' favor makes you no defenseless merchant, Callista; still, should anything happen to you, it would still be my responsibility and mine alone. In the end, it all comes up whether you feel like taking the risk. From my part, I trust your ability to discern if anything's off and how to best react to it. I... have no other choice." From her voice, it's pretty clear she's quite torn between her two conflicting loyalties, to the mission and to the people she was charged with protecting.
As if to avoid forcing a definitive answer right now, she suddenly changes topic, trying to play for time. "Perhaps this is a conversation best held in private, though. Shall you invite us in, Callista?"
"There is little reward without a certain level of risk." Callista gives that confident smile, an almost haughty look of self-assurance. She places her hands on her hips, giving her a spunky image with her hair pulled back as it is. Her earrings wink at the others in the morning light.
"I was rather hoping to see you climb about again, actually. You're quite well made, and climbing helps bring out your tone. It was breath-taking." The priestess chuckles, unlocking the door and waving the others inside.
"My associates will think me a liar if I keep popping back up after I have told them I was away on urgent business." She leads the way to the second floor, where a large flat dominates most of the structure. There are mirrors set up all over the place, possibly becoming disorienting as reflections move in reflections within reflections. A large, rather soft-looking bed sits in the corner by an east-facing window, and three large wardrobes stretch across the northern wall.
"There now...where were we? Ah, yes. I believe we were waiting from input from the Professor and Sebi." The priestess leads them to the eastern side of the room, proceeding to sit and then lay on the bed, hands laced behind her head.
Knowledge (Local): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (13) + 9 = 22 Knowledge (Nobility): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (13) + 9 = 22Information on Alastor's council
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Sebi follows Callista and Lavinia in and listens to their reasonings. Everything is quiet around her for the time being. Although her magic helps her carry her packs, it does not help the mental weight she feels with them resting on her shoulders. The currency to buy loyalties, or reveal them.
She says at last, "I didn't want to say outside, but the magic I command is of a more straightforward sort. It is the armor that commands this deception, not I."
"Until we arrive, we won't know for sure what we're dealing with. But to save time, the good captain could use her military background with councilor and Callista and the professor could choose another, lesser councilor, then the three of you join back at the teleportation rendezvous and meet with the others as a group. We should have an emergency signal should one of us be in trouble as well, any ideas?"
-Posted with Wayfinder
Knowledge (local) 22
Sebi has heard a fair amount about Alastor, in large part due to the central role the city plays in acquiring the griffin mounts used by the Golden Legion's elite flying units. The city is of decent size, and climbs up a mountainous slope to the Silver Eyrie, a great building that doubles as both the seat of the Council and the training ground wherein the young griffons are broken to the saddle.
Numerous ruins slice through the city, primarily in the form of great aqueducts that once carried water south into more arid heart of the Windburn Vale. These now serve only to divide the city into its quarters. These ruins are rumored to extend beneath the city streets as well, though not in the form of sewers; Sebi has read that the current city was once but the Silver Eyrie, which was much larger and had subterranean levels. These levels have long been abandoned, and the rest of the city built around the Eyrie.
Sebi knows that the Alastor council is indeed dominated by Aurion Thorn, but that the Griffon Maester of the Golden Legion also sits on the council, a half-orc by the name of Ossok Horn, while the other four council members are a wealthy merchant by the name of Lysander Poolt, another nobleman by the name of Ser Forsyth Erekiar, a bishop of Pharasma called Aurissa the Blind, and the popularly elected Jain Kinch, whom Sebi recalls hearing is off low birth and holds the ear of the people and is considered revolutionary even by Andoran standards.
Knowledge (nobility) 22
There are four noble families of note in Alastor, but only two serve on the Conuncil. Aurion Thorn is the scion of an ancient line, unmarried and perhaps in his early thirties.
You recall quite vividly how Aurion Thorn, the scion of the most powerful political family in Alastor, sought to become the next Supreme Elect about five years ago. For a good two months his star was ascending, with his good looks, charisma, and reputation for bringing economic success to Alastor helping him become the number one contender for the position.
You also remember how quickly his hopes were dashed when a series of murky financial relationships were revealed with the shipping interests of Augustana, along with how he was extorting the Eagle Knights by tripling the prices of young griffins that Alastor is famous for collecting from the Asphodell Mountains.
Despite his protestations, the people of Andoran turned their back on him, and he disappeared from public view.
Ser Forsyth Erekiar, a much older man who scandalously evaded combat duties during his youth, is the second noble on the council. Considered a coward by many, he is renowned as a dragon chess master, and frequently visits Almas for tourneys.
The two other families are the Revarks, a small collection of distant relatives with little money or power, and the Taltanes, whose patriarch is wholly devoted to Pharasma, and has turned his home and wealth over to the Church.
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
"You've hit a sore spot, Lady Moncrief" Lavinia says, leaning on the wall next to a window, arms folded, head turned to observe the comings and goings in the street below. "I can't think of any means short of a magical one. Unfortunately, that falls quite outside my area of expertise." Her eyes trace a wide arc around the room, skimming the numerous figures who populate it, real and mirrored alike, before finally coming to rest upon the supine Callista.
Callista chuckles, nodding. "Aye...can't very well be lighting fire signals or anything in our respective environs. Perhaps it would be best if we split in teams once again...that way nobody is alone." The Calistrian gives Lavinia a teasing grin before turning to the Professor.
"Professor, how about you decide who you'd rather team with? The lovely Sebi in her mission to completely bedazzle Thorn, or the less savory priestess of Calistria?" She laughs lightly, closing her eyes as she basks in the morning light.
"I wouldn't be able to call upon it until tomorrow, but I have a gift from my Lady that would enable such a communication, if we determine it is needed." She continues to lay there, smile upon her lips, pale skin practically shining in the sunlight as she relaxes while she can.
Uncharacteristically quiet for the long discussion that went back and forth, the personages of Alastor and various strategies for approaching them flying, Cawmirth simply made himself something of a quiet, but affirmative listener, nodding his head here and there. Pre-occupied as he was, the frequency of intricate debates in his line of work lent him a certain talent for pondering and hearing at the same time.
At Callista's slight prodding, he came to life a bit, glancing to Sebi for a long moment before returning his gaze to Callista. "Much as I usually prefer to keep varied company, I like the sound of this Kinch fellow. It would be good to have a passionate populist that we can use to get mass appeal on our side." For all his penchant for verbosity, Cawmirth tended to enjoy being around the less intellectually inclined. It had all the same frustrations and bother of childhood, but recalled a certain nostalgic sense of martyrdom and isolation.
You're just one of a kind, Topkek.
"Then again, if you don't plan on visiting Jain Kinch, I might as well go with Sebi. Thorn will no doubt be a key part of this whole affair and as the chronicler of our noble, just, and entirely respectable mission…" His intonation shifted to place an unsubtle emphasis on those two words to Callista, who was a bit unrelenting in this femme fatalery.
"I could stand to be present for the meeting with the head councilor if you'd rather not meet with the resident rabble-rouser."
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
"With a Chelaxian army amassing near Brastlewark, the Iron Keep probably overrun by devils, and a cult turning people into fiends, there's very little company I wouldn't associate with, no matter how dubious" Lavinia chimes in in response to Cawmirth's reservations about meeting with Jain Kinch. She's still standing by the window, arms still folded, fingers drumming nervously. "Then again, I can only stress once more what I've told Callista earlier: splitting up, staying together, which counselor to approach if any – it's your choice, eventually. I'll try to fulfill the duty I was entrusted with to the best of my abilities. If you feel anything's amiss, don't hesitate to disengage at the earliest available opportunity and rendez-vous at the safe house. Andoran has plenty of martyrs already. What it needs is diplomats."
"Now, if everybody's ready – I believe those boots are your size, Lady Moncrief" she says taking a few steps toward the center of the room.
Just trying to kick things forward a bit. Disregard it if you feel there's still something else to debate...
Callista nods, then stands, stretching as she gains her feet. "So Lavinia and I will talk to the Griffon master discretely while Sebi and Cawmirth call upon Thorn? Sounds excellent!" For a moment the Calistrian thinks that a change of wardrobe might be in order, but she dismisses the thought. Military types usually liked order and neatness, and the half-orc would likely appreciate Callista's current attire far more than a fluttery dress. He'd show her more respect, at any rate, so she hoped.
The priestess/merchant steps to the middle of the room, pale green eyes on Moncrief as she awaits their whisking away, wondering what it will feel like.
Once agreed, Sebi sets the bag down in front of the others and pulls out the boots with little ceremony. She sits on the bed and takes her time with the boots, careful not to disrupt her armor’s glamor too much. Once on, she stands and pads over to the center of the room and takes Alastor’s scroll from her pack and unrolls it. She studies the image for a moment, all in silence, and as soon as she has it firmly in her mind (No distractions now, I beg of you…), she rolls it back up and puts it away and holds out her hands, palms up for the others to grab.
When they do, Sebi closes her eyes. ”Trust, then?” the boards creak. The cold wind moans at the window. She says, ”I would go farther, if the fates allow.”
Callista slips her hand into the matriarch's, smiling encouragingly before the taller woman closes her eyes. The priestess felt the adrenaline rush coming with their pending travel and work. She likened it to the rush she was almost sure a soldier felt before going forth to do battle, and in a way, it was. Not all battles were fought with sword and shield, after all, and the consequences were just as dire, if not more so.
With the knowledge that devils held sway over the Iron Keep, their was no reason to believe the same would not be true of other settlements in the region, as well. She prepares herself, wondering what they might be facing on the other side.
The group gathers around Sebi, and hands take her own even as the four guards finally step away from the front door to reach out over shoulders and press their fingertips to her shoulders. Gathered in close, all eight individuals form a tight knot, and as Sebi's words echo in the air, everything -
- and for one wrenching, disorienting second perspective skews, warps, and then implodes. White light shot through with jagged streams of mercury suffuses the back of your eyes, and then just as quickly vanishes, replaced by normal vision.
Though the footing is secure and the same, the group as a whole flinches as if expecting it to be otherwise, and immediately the four guards step away, hands on the pommels of their swords, scanning the environs.
Which are incredibly tight. The eight of you are in a small room whose floor is dominated by a large, tessellated version of the pattern in the scroll. The walls are of stout wood, the lower halves paneled, and for the most part without adornment. There are no windows, illumination coming from a single and steadily burning lamp, and the exit is a single door, narrow and plain in construction. Despite the room's simplicity, everything is pleasingly built and the room is scrupulously clean, as if a master-craftsman had taken great pride and pleasure in constructing this small chamber.
A single shelf is affixed to the wall beside the door, and on it sits a cunningly contrived mechanical owl. Its bronze feathers are wafer thing and intricately layered, and its broad eyes are dishes of silver from whose center onyx eyes gleam out at you.
"Welcome to Onario's Mechanisms, dear travelers." Its beak opens and closes in cunning simulacra of speech. "You stand within a private room in the back of Onario's store. Please, announce yourselves to humble Onario, your gladsome host, and know that regardless of reigning political climes, this is one home that yet stands loyal to the Andoran ideal."
Rahgnall mutters beneath his breath, a hint of wonder in his otherwise craggy features, and looks to Alysandra for orders.
|Alysandra de l’Escalina|
Lavinia watches Sebi carefully slip out of her expensive-looking shoes, only for them to turn into reinforced leather boots as soon as she's taken them off.
She suddenly looks so much older than her age, she can't help but think while gently grabbing the hand that's offered her, signaling her men to form a human chain after her. She closes her eyes and inhales deeply, a thrill running down her spine at the thought of the battles ahead.
A few instants later, she opens them onto a radically different room. Gone are the daylight and the salty breeze rushing through the windows of Callista's bedroom, replaced by dancing shadows on wooden walls.
"At ease, soldiers" she whisper to Raghnall and the others as the clockwork owl gives its speech. "Captain Lavinia Corvallis of the Eagle Knights and her men, escorting the Supreme Elect's plenipotentiaries come to meet with Alastor's Council over matters of the utmost urgency" she assertively declares.
Cawmirth was likely a bit more ginger in his hand-holding than the others, given the natural sharpness of his talons. A lack of inclination towards physical intimacy left him noticing how very long it had been since he'd held anyone's hand. And then they all bent their way across space and time, the bird letting out a groan the moment they arrived.
Whatever it was they'd just done, Cawmirth wasn't very eager to do it again any time soon.
He was quick to break his grasp on Sebi, rubbing a curled claw at one eye to make that lingering, blinding flash depart with as much haste as possible. "Cawmirth Ravenheart, Professor of Linguistics, chosen to oversee the drafting of any contracts, agreements, pacts or treatises made under the authority of the Supreme Elect. Oh, I'm a chronicler, too." He noted with a bit of feigned surprise, like he'd almost forgotten it.
His eyes were quite well fixed on that owl, idly wondering what exactly was inside it. Cawmirth did so love taking apart contraptions and devices and putting them back together again.
Callista blinks rapidly, clearing the silvery sheen from her vision as she lets go of Sebi's hand. She cocks her head, smiling as she studies the clockwork owl. What a genius contraption! She notes with amusement the attitude of the guards and the tight confines.
Holding her head high, she speaks with confidence and authority, "Callista Jeggare, representative of the People's Council. Announce our presence to your master so he may attend us." Turning to the others, she grins in her excitement, flushing a pretty pink color.
The pressure was on, and Callista's mood was high, almost euphoric. She had always excelled when the stakes were high. She idly goes over her spells she has prepared as she waits for Sebi to announce herself.
Sebi realizes several things vs at once: this owl is but a statue, it speaks via a carefully worded Magic Mouth spell, and relays what it hears via Message. As such, Onarius will have to be close if he is to hear the relayed introductions given the limited range of the spell. This doesn't mean he IS close, however.