Wardove's Rumble in the Jungle

Game Master Laithoron

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Arion spoke up.

"Opposing goals eh? Perhaps we can use that to our advantage. Always better to prevent enemies from combining their strengths."

A thought caused Arion to pivot and face the Dwarf.

"That reminds me; Darvesch was sequestered earlier with the would-be martyr. I wonder what matters of consequence were discovered while interrogating Ugorji."

Although Iscandü's revelations might have surprised some, to Alis it seemed more like a few pieces long puzzled over were fit into place and she was drawn back enough to see the larger picture. "My reading from the other night, an impostor altering Tiniel's memory, the reason Mennen Fedleth went so long with no call for aide from Dafar, the assassination... meeting Lureene and Tyralor, and being shipwrecked upon Reaver's Shiv... it's all starting to make sense now!"

Dwarf Lightbringer

"I'm sorry to say, Arion, that I've learned nothing new." He cleared his throat. "I'm not sure how trustworthy he would be, knowing he willingly allied himself with the Queen of Lies."

The warrior looked at the princess, puzzled. "I'm sorry, I don't follow."

Alis nodded at Darvesch's puzzlement and waved a hand in excitement. "Fair enough, I'll try to explain so hear me out."

Taking a deep breath, she began, "Gwiniel Taurion wasn't mismanaging affairs in Dafar. What The Dreamer revealed to Amhranai confirms my odd Tarot results: the Ruby Coil didn't want to kill Governor Taurion any more than they want to kill me — they were controlling the Governor thru the Wasps!"

She leaned back into the divan, shaking her head. "That's why the King didn't receive any pleas for aide until it was too late. Shivone must have realize the situation was beyond her ability to manipulate and loosed Gwiniel to salvage it."

"Then altering my memories to lure you into a false meeting..." Tiniel mused.

"...was probably Shivone trying to get me alone so she could dominate me."

Grak who had been listening to the Princess tried to follow along as best he could. Of course knowing everything his mistress knew did not always lead to understanding.

"Grak doessss not undersssstand. if Sssshivone wassss going to control the Princessss, then why try to kill herrrr?" The serpent hissed questioningly.

"Well, that's my point Grak," Alis replied. "Shivone hasn't tried to kill me, neither did Chivane."

"In fact," her face grew dark as she thought back upon a private dialog she shared with Prince Tyralor, "there is no doubt in my mind that the Coil had been manipulating Prince Tyralor in the hopes of bringing us together for their own dark purposes. I had thought it a stroke of luck or irony that it was Lucretia's blade that foiled their plan, but I wonder now if Avoreen had a part in it."

Thinking back, it suddenly occurs to you that only you or your mistress understood what the Angel of Death said before she faded away.

Lucretia wrote:

"Centuries of toil ruined for the likes of you... Well played, Avoreene."

Face pensive, the Princess looked at the pearlescent serpent and continues, "Remember, Grak, just like Iscandü revealed to Amhranai, Shivone's patron, and Lureene's mother are at odds. She openly gloated about the fact that we destroyed Charelle's temple, and even Shëakatri was incensed and alarmed when she saw Lureene back on the Shiv."

She shook her head. "No, the people who assassinated Governor Taurion were clearly not aligned with the Coil. As for O'beilumanji, don't any of you find it odd that we showed up just-in-time to stop him? If Shivone hoped to gain control over Dafar's next ruler, wouldn't it make sense to ensure that ruler was a popular one?"

G Int 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (19) - 1 = 18

Grak was silent as he digested the information presented by Alis. While he was no idiot the otherworldly serpent was quite unused to thinking on his own. Still one piece of information he recalled came to mind.

"Yessss Alissss. I remember the Angel of Death saying Avoreen before she wassss banished." He flies closer to the Princess and his blue eyes meet her purple ones. "The Coil sssseeek a puppet, right?"

All the far-reaching manipulations, how easily the destinies of so many had been redirected, it is alarming to say the least. It is encouraging to know that the Princess and those close to her have, time and again, frustrated the plans of the enemies.

Arion had been listening to recollections of past events, trying to recall what he could, of what he had researched thus far, about Dafar. Mention of the recent battle caused him to say to Grak, "Angel of Death huh? At the demise of an outsider, I would expect their final words to be in the tongue of an outsider. Grak, do you remember exactly what was spoken by Lucretia? It could be of importance to us."

Knowledge: Local 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (1) + 12 = 13
Knowledge: Planes 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18

Grak looked at the elf who his mistress has grown quite fond of. Not wanting to disappoint him or by extension her, he slowly hissed a reply. "Yessss, I remember. The fallen angel ssssaid 'Ccccenturiessss of toil ruined for the likessss of you... Well played, Avoreen.' before she wassss banisssshed."

Arion petted Grak's scaly head, saying, "Thank you, Grak."

Pacing away from the tables, Arion said, "So, Lucretia implicated Avoreen, supporting our information about THAT demonic stalker, lying in wait for whatever opening is presented to her."

He turned and looked at Tiniel. "Agent Lómelindë's description, of the Princess' card divinations, describes even more evidence that there are at least three distinct factions proactively preparing their own poisonous brews in Dafar. This is not to mention those parties who had already been power players in the region before the newest troubles began, although those players seem to not be as active in promoting their own agendas."

Arion looked from face to face, asking, "Shall we divide our forces and take actions against each faction? Shall we make a unified move against one specific group? Shall we lay one or more traps and let them come to us? Shall we bide our time, strengthening our defenses, while we gather more information? In my opinion, I would say 'YES,' to each strategy. We have the resources and numbers to attempt each. The only area in which we do not hold a distinct advantage involves information. Each enemy group - the natives tied to the assassination, with possible headquarters in Freetown, Chivane's forces and Avoreene - seem to have been steps ahead, due to their available knowledge and perspectives. To the extent that we can disrupt their information and gain superior perspective ourselves, I reason we can make our tactical advantages complete."

"Considering that it is information we lack, I don't think spreading out to attack all fronts at once is wise."

Alis pulled her knees up to her chest and looked up at a cloud passing before the sun. "If Shivone's goal is to put me under some sort of enchantment then awareness should be sufficient protection for now. At least we have some understanding of her goals. As for the natives who killed Gwiniel, if their goal was simply to eliminate what they saw ass a corrupt leader then it is possible they may have no quarrel with me."

"Avoreen though," she shook her head, "she uses even her own daughter like some chess piece. A cult is one thing, but if Ugorji's involvement indicates actual political and social upheaval, that's far more pressing. General Hlokenar already has his hands full quelling unrest in The Veldt, we can't afford to suffer similar setbacks in Freehold. I think we need to start there."

Dwarf Lightbringer

"The princess is right. Tactically, spreading out our forces is unwise. Because we don't have all the information we need to actually tackle all fronts at the same time, we'd be leaving ourselves open for an opportunity for our enemy to strike." He paced back and forth, contemplating the situation.

"If we are to go to freehold, who will stay here to guard you?" Darvesch asks Alis.

The way they all got along on the last mission?!

"That's a good question, Darv," she frowned inwardly, "a very good question..."

Guildmaster: Viamaré Concern
Lureene wrote:
"Now, I heard from Princess Kirmoon she was thinking of asking the Concern's ground fleet to assist with the garbage collection as she is unhappy with the priority assigned by the Viamaré Concern for that task. ... As a favor for ME, do you think you could help out the Princess here?"

Lord Gallo paused for a moment before waving the serving girl away. "Ah, so her Highness values sees the worth of my efforts to get keep commerce flowing in this city, but still she desires more of the Viamaré Concern's services, eh?"

Patting Lureene on the thigh, he asked, "I take it she wishes my men to aid in cleaning up the mess left by the Builders, yes? Well that is certainly an understandable desire. I would of course be happy to help our new ruler in this embarrassing situation as a sign off my... good will."

Lureene smiled brightly in response to the odious man's words, hiding the revulsion she felt at his touch.

I will need another BATH after this!

"I am SOoo glad to hear that! I know your men will do a fine job of helping make sure this fine city looks as beautiful as the Princess has suggested to me it can!" While her voice is cheery, there is just a bare hint of steel in the reply.

Guildmaster: Viamaré Concern

"W– wait, the city?" Lucio stammered. "But I thought– didn't you just–"

"Yeah, it's kinda stinky out there," Sasha admitted, pausing before stuffing some grapes in her mouth, "weww I'm shum pawsh ameweh..."

Man, these are a lot better than the ones I has earlier...

Guildmaster: Viamaré Concern

Lord Gallo frowned and scanned at his chin. "I'll have to scold these porters to do a better job. My clients pay good money for that service and if they are doing a poor job..."

Suddenly taking Lureene's hand in his, he declared, "I will see to it that the men who have been shirking their duties are brought to task! Thank you for bringing this to my attention, my great beauty. You have saved me from embarrassment, how shall I repay you?"

During the discussion, the Scribe had been thumbing through his notes, reviewing topics recently researched.

As Lureene's eidolon relayed updates of the lunch with Guildmaster Gallo, Arion shuddered at the thought of the portly sausage fingers fondling Lureene's hand. He attempted to keep the contents of his stomach from interrupting the council.

Listening to those nearby, Arion replied with a bow, "Sagacious analyses. I have great confidence in the Princess' awareness and abilities to lead her personal defenses. From the basics I have gathered, those who train with Súmalya's clergy excel in a unique style of self-defense."

Arion looked at Amhranai and noted, "There are, of course, others here whose connections and familiarity with both local customs and jungle environments are far superior to my own. Perhaps they would prefer to lead the mission involving Freetown?"

He said to the Princess, respectfully, "Yours is the decision, where you need me, I will willingly serve. You must know by now my skills at disguise and other assets I have to offer. I would think my gifts would be of more use in this urban setting. Lady Lammontari's and your own suggestions, concerning plying the city, to see what might be uncovered, seems a worthy pursuit. The Master Dwarf, I consider well experienced enough that he needs none of my counsel as to his course."

Fortitude vs. nausea 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12

Knowledge: Religion 10 + 9 = 19 (Take 10)

Lureene, still completely unaware of the effects her meeting with Gallo was having on Grak (not to mention Arion), smiled back at him. "All I ask from you Lord Gallo is you devote your personal efforts into fulfilling this request of mine. I know you will do just fine however, and I believe Princess Kirmoon will also be well pleased with your undertaking."

Guildmaster: Viamaré Concern

Gallo nodded deeply and patted Lureene's thigh with his meaty hand. "Yes, yes, I should not wish for my Princess, my beauty, or my customers to be less than well pleased. Consider, it handled."

Scooting closer and putting an arm around her shoulders he asked in a low voice, his lips drawing close to her ear, "And what else shall we discuss now, my Lady?"

Back at the Palace, Grak shudder and gave a mewling cry. "Handsss, haaaandsss! Take them off missstressss! Grak shhhall be sssick..."

Oh gods, what's she gotten herself into now?

Forehead creased with uneasiness, Alis asked, "Graaak? Has Lureene persuaded Lord Gallo to clean up all of the city yet?"

Grak hissed and cocked his head to the side. Lord Gallo certainly seemed to respond enthusiastically enough to what his mistress had asked, but he was still a bit foggy on what the particulars were. Lisping slowly as he thought, the serpent responded, "Grak isss... not sssure. The ssslimy man sssaid he will pleassse hisss Princccessss, hisss beauty, and hisss cussstomersss."

1d20 - 1 ⇒ (8) - 1 = 7

Alis raised an eyebrow. "His customers?"

"No. NO!" She shook her head and got to her feet. "This isn't about how well he is serving his 'customers', it is about fulfilling an obligation to everyone in the city — not just those greasing his palm!"

Grak nodded, trying his best to tune out the unpleasant sensations from the south east as he related Alis' words to his mistress. "Doesss that make more sssenssse missstressss? Alisss sssaysss ssslimy fingersss is missstaken, she even ssstandsss to sssay ssso."

Just before Lureene started to remove his hand from her shoulder she paused for a moment as Grak mentally communicated with her.

Customers? I suppose it does make sense in a way...sounds like he is being LESS than sincere!

Twisting her body so he is not as close to her as before, she looked into his eyes. "Lord Gallo...Lucio...I know you believe it is important to serve your customers, however I want you to put the concerns of the city ahead of your customers. Do you understand me now?"

Guildmaster: Viamaré Concern

"Eh?" His face was construed with confusion at the succubus' words. It was beginning to become clear that they were speaking past one another. "But the Viamaré Concern is willing to do business with anyone in the city. Well... so long as it is all legal, of course. We would never wish to tarnish our good reputation by dealing with criminal elements, you understand."

Lifting his gold-trimmed hat a bit, he scratched the side of his head with fat fingers and said, "Surely you don't suggest I should take people's money and then disregard them, I would have a mob after me..."

Sense Motive Checks:
L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14

G 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (2) + 12 = 14

Lureene shook her head. "No of course not, that would not be good for the city either." She absentmindedly twirled a golden lock of hair in her finger as she continued, "I suspect you will need to talk with Arion, who is the new Court Scribe for working out the details of the arrangement, but I am sure we can ALL come to an agreement which will please everybody!"

Guildmaster: Viamaré Concern

"Yes, yes," Gallo said emphatically, sweat now beginning to bead on his forehead as it seemed Lureene might be of a mind to leave, "we can work out details later. I just don't understand what you want from me, my beautiful lady! The Porters Guild was destroyed by ruffians and so trash began to build up with no one to clear it away. People in the city complained and those communities with the means came forward with a proposal, but there were none who could satisfy it."

"Being an enterprising man myself, I saw that the good men who worked for the Porters Guild were out of work, and as the Viamaré Concern was also having difficulty delivering customer shipments in their absence, I saw an opportunity and intervened. Stay a while and tell me, what opportunity would you have me enterprise upon that would make you happy?"

Man, Ellie's really getting a kick out of playing with Gallo! I bet he'd roll over and bark like a dog is she told him too.

The redhead bit her lip and snickered at something only she was privy to, before leaning forward to pick up a banana.

Heh, that would be funny, but he's aaall over her though... Freakin' gross! Alright, fun's fun but I wanna get out of here...

"Well, it's like this Lucy," Sasha said, as she began undressing the oblong fruit, "just because you don't have a big pile of crap sitting in front of your own house doesn't mean you can't smell the mess out by the curb next door. Sooo... just have your guys pick up everybody's sh1t. I'm sure Ellie and Princess Lissi will be reeaal happy, you know?"

With that, she began sucking on the banana, lost in thought before a sudden idea came to mind and she bit off the whole end. "Shay, aww dere any shops awound here where it doesn't shmell like a swum?"

Realizing she was speaking with her mouthful again, Sasha swallowed and added, "We wanted to see the sites!"

Too distant to overhear the exact words, Arion read what he could of the body language of Alissariel Kirmoon. Usually so well composed, there was little subtlety masking her reactions as it seemed she might grasp Grak by both wings and use his face to transmit vocal messages.

My dear Lureene might have to rebuild Grak from scratch after the shouting maketh him go -poof!- The Princess DOES have quite a set of lungs.

Yet, Arion did not at first see how me might be of assistance. He hoped that the almost godlike charms of the Enchantress would hold Gallo in her sway long enough for lovely Lureene to transmit her message and withdraw.

Sense Motive 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (16) + 14 = 30

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Guildmaster: Viamaré Concern

Not quite a mile away, in the heart of Colossineum, Baron Lucio Gallo sat gritting his teeth, wringing his expensive gold and velvet cap in his hands. "Y– you mean she– you want me to pay them to work for... for free?!"

Sweat now pouring down his pudgy face, his eye moved from Lureene's shapely calves to the curves of her hips, and lingered on her inviting bosom before finally meeting her seemingly innocent eyes. Breathing hard as if he was running a race, the hefty entrepreneur managed a weak smile as he mopped his forehead on his sleeve. Pivoting to face the royal Lady in Waiting, he almost stumbled but instead ended up on one knee, holding Lureene's dainty hand within his large, sweaty paw. "Truly, it will be a great sacrifice, and sure to slight those who have paid their just dues... but if it would please my beautiful, enchanting, shapely–"

The sound of Sasha coughing brought Gallo's eyes back to Lureene's face. "–ANGEL, andthePrincess then how could I refuse? At least until the Porters can themselves operate under government finances as before, eh? My oh my, what a difficult sell, I will surely need all the good fortune I can muster... Like say a kiss for good luck..."

Closing his eyes, Lucio leaned forward, wet lips puckered and drawing closer!

Alis stood, fists on her hips, as she glared at the sheepish serpent before. "Well? Did she tell him that–"

"EEeeeeaaaaah!!!!" With a keening wail, Grak flapped up into the air, spinning around in dismay. "Missstressss isss in danger, in danger! Ssslimy lipsss, sssticky fingersss!"

"Oh no you don't! Lureene's a big girl, she can handle L–"

Yet before Alis could finish admonishing the dimwitted eidolon, there was a flash of lightning and he vanished in an explosion of smoke and cinders.

"Grak? GRAK?!" With a dark look at the now smoldering bits of a seat cushion that had been left in his wake, she growled, "Which of you are volunteering to head to Freetown with Arion, and which of you are volunteering to stay here... with me?"

It didn't take a seer to divine that both could prove equally perilous...

Feel free to beam Grak in to intercept Gallo's kiss. ;)

Sense Motive Checks:
M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (14) + 12 = 26
R 16 + 14 = 30 Scott's roll
D 1d20 + 20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 20 + 5 = 35 familiarity

Having begun to bury his nose into his journal, Arion heard a scream the likes of which he had not experienced upon his native plane. The Scribe looked up in time to see Grak spinning out of control and apparently exploding.

Powerful Pipes of Passion's Queen! The eidolon is NO MORE!

Alis Kirmoon wrote:
"Which of you are volunteering to head to Freetown with Arion, and which of you are volunteering to stay here... with me?"

Those nearby shared a moment of wide eyed stares at each other, like so many deer suddenly surprised by the lights of a racing carriage. Arion swallowed the lump in his throat and quickly buried his nose in a new study; a collection of maps labeled 'FREETOWN.'

Dwarf Lightbringer

The warrior glanced at everyone in the room before speaking. "I've got to be honest, Frænka, I have little interest in going to Freetown." He walked towards Alis. "My place is here for now."

He shifted his view towards the others still in the room, "Sorry, friends. As much as we make an excellent team, I'm afraid I must stay to protect the Princess."

Lureene watched Gallo's lips approach her own with a sense of...was it resignation? Yes, yes it was. All through her admittedly short life, she had had to deal with such men like Gallo, men who were more interested in satisfying their own carnal desires than something more lasting.

Is this the price I must pay to help 'Lis out? If this makes her happy, then so be it. I just hope Arion understands...

As Lureene prepared for the upcoming ordeal, she felt the alarm and panic radiating from her faithful companion Grak. Even as she tried to reassure him mentally through their link, she felt the link between them severed as he VANISHED...

...only to reappear next to his mistress, wings beating ready to defend her from the unwanted advances of the self-styled Lord. He glared at the corpulent man while hissing a warning.

"Sssstay away from my misssstressss!"

The crack of lightning as Grak appeared caused quite the commotion. With a shout of surprise, Lord Gallo reeled back, losing his balance. In the blink of an eye, the was a loud crash, food and wine flying as he fell into the serving table behind him, thoroughly demolishing it.

So much for Plan SwapInTheServingGirl...

Gritting her teeth like she was just caught stealing, Sasha released her hold on a frightened girl and smiled innocently. "Uh... sorryaboutthearmlockthere," she whispered quickly, "I just got excited. Friends?"

As the bewildered Zuck woman hustled to get away from the two demonic beauties and the frightening serpent, Sasha jerked a thumb to the side, mouthing the words, "Beat it!" before crouching by the floudering nobleman's side. "INVIDIA FORFEND! Are you alright Lord Gallo? Wow, you've got some gooood reactions for a big guy! That lightning bolt almost hit you! Damn, wish I had some luck like that..."

Looking back at Lureene, she thrust her head, lips pressed tight, as if asking for some backup.

Bluff Checks
L 1d20 + 20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 20 + 1 = 23 charming
g 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
S 1d20 + 10 + 1 + 2 + 1d6 + 4 - 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 + 1 + 2 + (4) + 4 - 10 = 27 seductive, human, surge, AA from El or Grak?, far-fetched

G SM 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (11) + 12 = 23

Lureene shook off the look of shock on her face and hurried over to help Sasha with Lord Gallo.

I had no idea Grak was soooo...protective...

She laid a hand on Gallo's shoulder and motioned for Sasha to help him back on his feet. "I must offer my deepest apologies, Lucio. All I can say in defense is my companion is quite...protective of me." She laid a comforting hand on his shoulder, "I hope Grak did not startle you TOO much! Anyway, I believe it is time for us to bid farewell to you. You were quite the hospitable host, and I do wish to thank you again for helping us out."

Darvesch wrote:

The warrior glanced at everyone in the room before speaking. "I've got to be honest, Frænka, I have little interest in going to Freetown." He walked towards Alis. "My place is here for now."

He shifted his view towards the others still in the room, "Sorry, friends. As much as we make an excellent team, I'm afraid I must stay to protect the Princess."

Arion nodded. "The Princess and The Lightbringer together; one could hardly ask for more reassuring defenses. Freetown is my destination then."

The Sky Elf glanced at the Moon Elf and said, "This mission would be greatly aided by a most clever Rogue, if that is in line with the Princess' plans."

To the Vicereine, her Agent said, "Shall my cover then be that of Court Scribe presenting the formal summons to the Royal Investment Ceremony? I stand ready for instructions as to our official objectives in Freetown."

Sasha cocked her head at Lureene, mouth agape and at a complete loss for words.

What the fvck?!

Yet even as she shook her head in frustration, trying to shoulder the groaning nobleman's bulk, the sound of guards running became apparent. "Great..."

At nearly the same time, Lord Gallo's house guards and the quartet of royal guards who had accompanied Lureene burst onto the scene. At the sight of Grak, the nobleman's guards shouted and drew their blades. "It's a MONSTER! Lord Gallo is stricken!"

At their aggressive reaction, Lureene's guards drew their own weapons, interposing themselves between the noblewoman and everyone else. "Lady Ourson, are you injured?"

Rolling her eyes as the dazed Baron groaned and leaned on her, Sasha shook her head and whispered to Lureene, "I tried to help, but this one's on you..."

Ohhhh this is JUST GREAT!

Lureene finished helping the Lord back to his feet, trying not to groan at his extra weight. Even with Sasha's help it was all she could do to stand him up. Once Gallo was seated she leaned to whisper back to Sasha, "Well, I DID have him eating out of my hand..."

As the guard captain queried her, she shook her head in reply. "I am fine Captain. It is just my COMPANION believed I was in danger and was trying to protect me." She addressed the house guards. "Surely you can understand that?" She pointed a slender finger in the Baron's direction to emphasize her point.

Diplomacy 1d20 + 15 + 1 + 20 ⇒ (13) + 15 + 1 + 20 = 49 attractive, mythic feat

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