Wardove's Rumble in the Jungle

Game Master Laithoron

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With a soft moan, Lord Gallo passed out, snoring loudly where the ladies had set him down. Still on-edge, blades and spears pointed at Grak, the large, burly Zuck who headed up the house guard, responed, "Your companion, I see," before turning a furious scowl upon Sasha.

Pointing his massive talwar at her, he gestured to the destruction with an open palm. "So you are the one responsible for this madness, red woman! If our new Princess has any sense of justice, then her guards will drag you from here in chains for this insult!"


Wide-eyed, the ranger looked up from wiping caviar and pesto off her leathers. Meeting the incensed glares of a room full of guards, she exclaimed, "Wait, what?! Grak's the one who scared him, not me!"

Lureene turned an icy glare upon the Zuck who insulted Sasha. She pointed to Grak, who still hovered protectively near his mistress. "For your information...Captain, they are BOTH my companions!"

Next time, I will just let him kiss me. I mean I have been kissed by worse men before...

Frowning deeply as Sasha nodded and rang out a good half-bottle of wine from the hem of her cloak, the captain of Lord Gallo's guards turned his gaze upon the agitated serpent. "I do not recall such a creature entering the estate with your party, Lady Ourson. If this 'Grak' understands you then command him to heel and we shall see your party out."

Lowering his blade, but not sheathing it, the huge man snapped his fingers and pointed to Lucio. "Get the master to his bed and fetch the physician from his prayers. In deference to Lord Gallo's feelings for your Ladyship, I shall await his command before filing any complaint."

"With all due respect," he sheathed his blade and with a jerk of his head, his men followed suit. Bowing his head slightly, but not taking his eyes off anyone, he continued, "As the Baron is now unable to receive guests, your visit has concluded. We will escort you forth."

And with that, Lady Ourson, her two companions, and four guards were ushered forth from the Gallo estate in food-stained finery, to the mild surprise of Master von Hearthwick. With a snort and a twitch of his mustache, he commented simply, "Dirty business, politics," before helping the shell-shocked ladies into their carriage.

With no further word or judgment, he closed the door and clapped his hands twice. "Very good then, back to the Palace we go. Her Highness shall wish to hear of your escapades."

As the carriage rumbled off, Sasha lifted up Lureene's chin, face sympathetic and said encouragingly, "Well, maybe Lissi has some nice safe bad guys for us to kill. We're a lot better at that!"

Biting her lip for a moment, she chuckled and added, "That was pretty funny though. You have to admit, Grak sure knows how to make an entrance!"

Smiling, she put her arm around Lureene's shoulders and hummed contentedly, dripping fine wine the rest of the way back, giggling every now and then as she looked at the serpent laying his head on her lap.

Man, blondes really do have all the fun!

Arion wrote:
"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."

Alis' reply to Arion was delayed as she grimaced at the rapport of another stroke of lightning from the south east only moments after Grak's disappearance.

Oh hell...

Resigning herself to what would no doubt be a lively tale from Sasha' point of view, she answer the scribe, "Yes, on the surface you will simply be summoning my subordinate from Freehold. More importantly, however, I want you to find information on this 'king' my prisoner spoke of and to see if you can unearth any signs of this supposed cult as well. Amh, your aide from the shadows would certainly be appreciated if you are able. Now given the short notice, there may well be some surprise that we sent a traditional summons rather than a magical one. You might deflect such suspicions by citing ceremony or hinting that such methods were compromised by... the misappropriation of the Palace's scrying apparatus."

"You're a sharp one, Hithraen, I'm sure you'll think of something." With a mischievous glint in her eyes she grinned at Darvesch and continued, "Meanwhile, assuming you don't spend all your time 'playing fort', Frændi, I'm sure you can defend me from anyone Tiniel and I can't subdue with our 'unique style of self-defense'... as Arion so aptly puts it."

"As for Lureene," she knelt to pick up her scorched cushion and shook her head before tossing it away, "I'm not sure if she's more danger here or in Freetown."

A short snicker from Tiniel followed by a very serious scowl as the slight elf held a fist up to her mouth and coughed made Alis' eyes go wide. "IN! I meant in more danger!"

Dwarf Lightbringer

Darvesch smiled. "I promise I won't spend all my time playing fort. Besides, the real work doesn't come till after the building is finished. Gathering enough volunteers isn't going to be easy."

He looked at the others, still smiling. "I can't wait to hear how your trip goes."

He turned back to Alis, his smile disappeared from his face. "If there is nothing else, I request permission to wander the city. I'd like to do a bit of my own information gathering."

Arion bowed and replied to Alissariel, "The mission parameters are very clear. Unless a particular vessel would be preferred, I shall search for the next available voyage, or have one scheduled, to represent the royal embassy. What shall be the composition of my company? Or should I travel alone? I wonder."

He nodded to each of the heroes nearby and said, "If you will excuse me, I have to prepare for this mission. I think I shall begin by studying more of the region's history and then continue putting clues together to see what the pieces of the puzzle might reveal. Darvesch, before I depart for Freetown, perhaps there will be time to share more of our findings, after your explorations in Port Eldarion. In any case, I wish you good fortune."

Excited about the assignment, Arion paused, awaiting his leave at the pleasure of the Princess.

Dwarf Lightbringer

The dwarf smiles at Arion and chuckles. "Sorry friend. The information I'm gathering is meant for myself. This one is a little personal, but I'd be glad to hear your findings, if that's still okay."

No doubt I'll have to tell the Frænka though. I doubt the others would understand anyway..

Personal information hmm? I wonder if he's off to court that Greasha girl...

Alis smiled at her cousin and said, "Lureene and Sasha should be back soon enough, go ahead and stretch your legs, Darv."

"As for you, Arion, an official vessel would be more appropriate than a chartered one. The only issue is that we're in the only deep-water harbor along the whole bay. I'd be surprised if any of the military vessels from the convoy you and Tin' traveled on will be able to pass upriver to Freetown..."

Frowning momentarily, she suggested, "If you can't sail up the river, you could always take a carriage from the river mouth. You and the Commodore seem to be on good terms, why don't you see what he has to say. Oh, and if you wanted to ask Lureene if she and Sash' will join you, I... have the feeling Grak's probably worn out their welcome by now."

LK Calendar: Uniens 24, 4210 — Starsday
Time: 1:00md (morning, 1:00pm)

Indeed it wasn't long at all before the carriage conveying Lureene and her companions had returned to the Palace, Giles delivering them to the north entrance via the parade grounds. As the well-appointed vehicle was reined to a stop, Sasha hopped out and offered a hand to help her friend down. "Say, do you think Ari's gone and picked out his new place yet? If Lissi's footing the bill, it's got to be fancy, don't you think?"

I wonder if he'll have any maids or a chef or anything...

Green eyes bright, the food-splattered ranger chirped, "C'mon, let's get cleaned up so we can go visit!"

Lureene gratefully accepted her friend's hand in exiting the carriage. "Well, I don't know if Arion is going to be too flashy with his new office. I mean, he is trying not to draw TOO much attention to himself I believe."

She gently stroked Grak's chin, whispering softly into his ear. "Thanks again for protecting me from Lord Gallo. While I know he did not want to HURT me, he certainly wanted me to be...uncomfortable there for a while." As he flew off to take a much needed break from his exertions, Lureene turned to face Sasha again. "I agree we should make ourselves more...presentable, however I suspect our sight-seeing trip will have to wait..."

...especially if I know 'Lis here, she is going to want ALL the details of our visit. I just hope she is pleased with the results...if not the methods...

After taking leave of the noble Half-Elven Bard he had begun to admire, Arion quickly made his way through the Palace grounds. Overhearing the servants making haste to meet an arriving carriage, Arion moved into the shadows and watched to see the passengers.

From the shadows Arion spoke up, his melodious voice echoing off the monumental arches and paved courtyard, "Very pleased that you are interested in my new quarters and sightseeing through the city. I had wished to ask whether you could be of assistance in helping me pick out a new abode. I would enjoy assisting YOU in 'getting cleaned up.'"

Stealth 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (12) + 16 = 28
Perception 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (20) + 15 = 35

Lureene glanced around her looking for the source of the voice which made her pulse quicken. His words also brought a flush to her face. After a moment scanning the courtyard she finally noticed him hiding off to one side. As she waved him over in what she hoped was a ladylike gesture, she responded, "Your assistance would be most appreciated, Scribe Arion!" She flashed a dazzling smile at him as she continued, "I take it Princess Alis does not require our presence at this time?"

Perception 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (16) + 12 = 28

Arion greeted them with open arms and answered, "Hmmm, perhaps our good Major Domo here might arrange notifications for you, inquiring as to her wishes. At the least, I would think she approves of time to clean up after a mission, and your quarters are so close to her own."

Turning around, looking for the source of unique scents, his eyes alighted upon Sasha and he asked with a grin, "Is that champagne and hors d'oeuvres I sense?"

As they walked towards the residential wing of the Palace, Arion informed them of some of the resolutions reached while they were away. He continued, "...and since I need to prepare for my mission, upon which I will likely embark early tomorrow, it would be most helpful if you could find the time to select new apartments for me. I trust your tastes and sense of style. It might be a fun shopping venture, relaxing compared to the past few days."

Lureene's face took in the news of Alis' plans with a quick look of surprise. Funny, I don't recall 'Lis mentioning she wanted to turn the Shiv into a naval port...

Her face fell as she realized Arion will soon be heading out of the city for a while. To hide her disappointment, she smiled instead. "Well, I have never done any shopping for places to live...uhh...work that is..." she chuckled nervously. "But I am sure we can fine a suitable place to locate your office, Arion. Are there any special requirements you need for your office?"

One arm around Lureene, Arion hugged her and kissed her head and replied, "Well, in the Empyrean Arcade, the third story features penthouses. It would serve our purposes best to have one closest to the West, as near to Central Avenue as possible. A place where I might easily sneak onto the roof; somewhere overlooking both Victor's and the plazas below; that would be ideal. Each penthouse is luxuriously appointed. I need to both draw attention to my opulent connections and be able to watch the street life below."

Arion winked at Sasha and added, "A place where you and a beautiful, dexterous red-head can lounge in comfort when you visit."

They neared Lureene's chambers and Arion said,
"I will join you if I may
And help wash away
Troubles of the day
We cannot overstay
Delightful love-play
But, soon be underway
To shop and survey
for our Freetown foray..."

He opened a door for them and said to Lureene, "...for I was hoping that you might join me on this excursion, my lovely Angel. Also, perhaps the Scarlet Corsair might sail again!"

The door closed behind them. It was with pleasure that Arion made the best of what little time was permitted them, together again.

Lureene relaxed in Arion's embrace and nodded slowly. "This should not be too hard to find Arion. I can take Giles with me I suppose..." the rest of her words drowned in his kiss.

As he closed the door behind him she squealed in excitement, "That sounds like it would be FUN Arion! I know Sash...errr...the Scarlet Corsair will enjoy this little excursion as well!" As Arion explained further of the true motives of his trip, a look of concern creeped across her face. "While I am not afraid of heading into that pirate's den, perhaps I should be disguised for this trip. Being my Mother's daughter may draw too much attention to ourselves. Do you agree?"

Sasha hummed happily as she got dressed, her long red hair now pulled back in a tidy braid. It was a pretty good life she was enjoying, good food, excitement, comfy surroundings, and now not one but two lovers — and the new one was even good at rhymes! Yep, life was good.

"Hey, maybe you should go along as Ellie!" Sasha suggested, in response to Lureene's mention of disguises. It was only after further reflection that she added, "Oh, um... well, like the way you looked when we first met I mean. OOOH! Do you think Lissi could make you into an elf? I bet you'd like that, huh Ari?"

Arion thought back to earlier weeks, during their last days at the embassy. Remembering Lureene's disguise, he tried to picture her as an elf. The thoughts combined with his adoration for Lureene and his arousal was quite evident.

Arion caressed Sasha's neck as he flipped her braid over her shoulder, admiring how it adorned her. "With great effort I shall attempt to pace myself around you two temptating delicacies."

He slung the strap of his satchel over his shoulder and began to make an exit. "I have business with the Commodore before today's end. Also, research and other preparations are needed. Bless both of you for helping me today. I leave the particulars up to you both, in keeping with whatever schedule Alissariel had in mind for you. I hope to meet up again, possibly here, at least before we retire to sleep. I shall send messages if plans are changed. I do wish much enjoyment for the remains of your day."

With a kiss for each, Arion was off to locate the Commodore.

"A trip to Freetown does seem to be in order. If nothing else, it should be the last thing Bonati expects, if it is indeed his hand behind recent goings-on. However, I think it would be best if my presence there is much less public than Arion's. Should make a few things easier."

Once Arion had discovered that the Commodore had returned to Arrowhead Island, Arion's first order of business was to pen a message. As he strode to the aviary lofts the thoughts went through his mind,

Ahhhh....I do hope that Lureene realises how much I care for her. As deeply are my feelings for our noble race, and whatever lingering attractions or ideals from my youth, now that I consider it more and more, I would not trade her wings or otherworldly features for anything. Some day I might have time to meditate upon the reasons behind my feelings for her. Mother used to try to tell us that love is not logical.

Reaching his destination, the Elven Agent brought his attention back to duty. Arion inserted the miniature, sealed scroll into a tiny case and made certain the details were properly enscribed upon the area of address:

On Service of Her Royal Highness Princess Alissariel Kirmoon, acting Vicereine of Dafar
For the eyes of Commodore Thrandel Gaeros, Commander: Royal Navy , Arrowhead Citadel

Within the body of the communiqué, Arion noted the Princess' commission of official requests made to the Governor of Freetown. A vessel worthy of such embassy was required, possibly one that could traverse as far upstream as Freetown, or as close to the shallow waters as possible. In hopes that Commodore Gaeros would have the best perspective on such a ship available by the next day or nearly as soon, a formal request was issued, asking that the Commodore send word to the Palace as soon as he could.

Paying a royal dispatcher, Arion gave instructions that a messenger pigeon was to convey it directly.

That completed, it was straight to the repositories of historical documents, where Arion spent some time making certain he knew the particulars of what had been recorded concerning Freetown, its historical Governors, the layout of the area, the tribal concerns and other particulars.

The more he studied, the more he was glad that Amhranai would be joining them on this mission.

Alis wrote:
"Yes, on the surface you will simply be summoning my subordinate from Freehold. More importantly, however, I want you to find information on this 'king' my prisoner spoke of and to see if you can unearth any signs of this supposed cult as well. Amh, your aide from the shadows would certainly be appreciated if you are able. ..."
Amhranai wrote:
"A trip to Freetown does seem to be in order. If nothing else, it should be the last thing Bonati expects, if it is indeed his hand behind recent goings-on. However, I think it would be best if my presence there is much less public than Arion's. Should make a few things easier."

Alis had nodded at Amhranai's assessment. "I agree. In fact, I'm hoping that Arion and perhaps Lureene, if she goes, might draw attention away from the less conspicuous members of the entourage. At any rate, I will expect the Commodore to send all of you on your way tomorrow, so if there are any preparations you need to attend to before you go, then now's the time to do so."

After Arion had departed to tend to his duties, leaving the two priestesses alone but for the company of Tiniel and a few guards, Alis gazed at Amhranai's armaments and gave a hum. "I know I offered to have my smiths craft you a blade fitting your new station, but honestly, that takes some time. Meanwhile..."

Alis had held her hands up as if at a loss before shaking her head. Clearly, that hadn't sit well with her. "Arion mentioned he was thinking about having Lureene pick out his new quarters while he did some research. Why don't you show Lureene around The Arcade and avail yourself of the outfitters there while you're at it. We can always inscribe something you like or reenchant an old favorite when time permits."

With a wink, she added, "After all, judging by the fresh sheets on your bed this morning, I'm guessing you're planning to head back in that direction anyway, right?"

Dwarf Lightbringer

Beginning his venture in the most populated area of the city was the most logical idea. Darvesch contemplated his reception to this elven civilization long and hard. Though Alis and those who dealt with Morgaard weren't shocked by the idea, he couldn't help but wonder, what about the average civilian? What will they think?

These thoughts were nearly overwhelming, dominating his every thought. He couldn't stop thinking, My project might be over before it starts, if nobody is willing to join. He shook his head, dismissing his thoughts.

Here we are. Let's see what they think. He thought to himself as he steped off to the side to privately cast a spell. After his spell was cast, he stepped back into the public. Wandering around the market, he concentrated on hearing the thoughts of the people around him. Since his concentration was already occupied, he quickly glanced at the products around him, not able to keep his thoughts on what he was looking at, he decided he'd have to come back after he was finished with his information gathering. He smiled and nodded at the people as he passed them, listening to what they had to think about him.


He's casting detect thoughts and concentrating on it for a few moments. Just long enough to get an idea of what the average populace think of him.

Male Sky Elf Game Master lv 20

Even as Lureene, Sasha, and Amhranai made their way to the Empyrean Arcade and Arion to the Palace archives, Darvesch made his was south from Governor's Square along Market Avenue. While New Viamaré's markets weren't quite as bustling as Alis, Hior, and Jaro might have liked, it was still difficult to walk more than a few steps without having to dodge a carriage or brush past someone.

Compared to other areas of the city the Inquisitor had frequented, such as the Palace and Tol Lonnduil, there were far fewer elves in the Trade Quarter than he had first anticipated. Indeed most of those he spied conducting business were well-tanned humans of Malatestan descent while dark-skinned Zucks made up a larger portion of the heavy laborers. While there were a good number of half elves about, none bore features so refined as to pass for a full-blooded elf like his Frænka. And those full-blooded elves? Well, they were more numerous than fellow Ortaloki anyway.

As he walked, listening to the thoughts of those around him, the vast majority of people seemed to be preoccupied with their own troubles, though there were indeed plenty who took notice of the unlikely sight he cut, striding with purpose clad in full armor in the equatorial heat and humidity...

  • "Gods, he'll smell like a cooked ham before long!"
  • "Whoa, is that a dwarf?!"
  • "Wonder if it's true what they say about the lady dwarves..."
  • "Phew, bet he knows how to crack skulls!"
  • "Oh, he must be the one ma said killed that demon!"
  • "Gotta be loaded, but... prolly's an iron coin purse..."
  • "How can a dwarf and an elf be cousins?"
  • "Well now I've seen everything..."
  • "Sh1t, didn't even see him there!"
  • "I'd look grumpy wearing all of that too!"
  • "Uh oh, is he looking at me? Why's he looking at me?"
  • "Wow, a real live dwarf knight!"
  • "Huh, third one today. Guess they moved in."
  • "Now THAT'S a beard!"
  • "Damn, he's as wide as he is tall!"
  • "Guess nobody gives him guff..."
  • "Might have saved Arrowhead, but couldn't save Andy..."
  • "C'mon, spare a gold piece, ya short bugger!"
  • "Huh, wonder if he's a merc..."
  • "Oh! It's Darvesch!"

At the last thought, the dwarf had to do a double-take when he saw Greasha tug on her mother's sleeve and point excitedly in his direction.

"Wonder if there's somewhere around here we could slip off to for a romp..."

Putting two fingers in her mouth, the dwarf's lover gave a loud whistle and waved, calling out loudly enough enough for those in the vicinity to hear, "Show some respect, you tall lot! Don't you know a Knight and a hero when you see one?"

"Ha, knew I could make him blush!"

Her hair tied back in an elegant braid and her makeup reapplied, Lureene gazed about her in the mid-afternoon sun at the bustling crowds moving all about the Arcade. She kept close to Amhranai until the older elf woman indicated their part of the trip was at an end.

She marveled at the beauty and grandeur of the various shops and cafes sprinkled about the colonnade. She gripped her staff tightly as she allowed the crowds to flow around her and Sasha, knowing her exotic beauty was like a beacon.

Well, if Shivone has an office here she will certainly know of my arrival by now... She thought wryly. She motioned to Sasha, "I suppose we need to find the landlord who is in charge of leasing out the penthouse apartments." She looked about the plaza, "There has to be an office around here SOMEWHERE..."

Dwarf Lightbringer

The blushing warrior immediately broke his concentration, and decided if anyone had a problem, they'd have to take it up with him.

"Greasha!" He smiled brightly. "I'm glad I ran into you! I was just browsing the market for some essentials for my next project. I wonder if you would have time to spare to join me? With your mother's permission, of course." He smiled as the two stood in front of him.

Arion paused and stretched after a long session among the archives. Leaning back, hands laced and supporting his head from behind, he digested the information. Among all his copying and notes and scrutiny it occurred to him,

There are several topics that are conspicuously missing from any extant records here. What was that old saying? 'The yearling birds might lack in lore, seek ancient trees for so much more.' Perhaps it is time I sampled the local fare. I seem to recall there was an establishment which has been in Port Eldarion continuously for four generations.

Gathering some copied maps and notes along with his gear, Arion went to wash up and change into garb that more resembled a Malatestan tradesman. He left a note for Lureene upon her pillow, indicating his plans. He made certain that his Quill and a large purse of coins were hidden within his clothing.

Taking a deep breath and looking around, the Elven Agent passed through the Palace gates. With a turn to the North, he was off on a stroll towards
Hearthstone Pub.

Knowledge: Local 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (17) + 12 = 29

After he had left the note upon Lureene's pillow, Arion had searched through the items they had confiscated from Ugorji. Brushing out one item in particular, picking debris from its interior, Arion took the Hat of Disguise that had been carried by Ugorji.

Combined with the clothing of a sea-faring Malatestan tradesman, Arion had used the Disguise Skill to alter his racial appearance to that of a Half-Malatestan with darker skin (-2).
With the help of his Disguise Kit (+2),
Master Spy abilities of Art of Deception (+1)
and Master of Disguise (create Disguise in 1/2 normal time; reduce racial disguise penalty by 1),
in addition to his bonus to Disguise (+17),
Arion hoped his assumed identity would suffice to pass as a newly arrived sea-borne merchant from lands to the North.

Guildmaster: Cartwright's
Lureene Ourson wrote:
"I suppose we need to find the landlord who is in charge of leasing out the penthouse apartments." She looked about the plaza, "There has to be an office around here SOMEWHERE..."

From out of the growing crowd that had stopped to gaze at and admire the curvaceous beauty and her small entourage, Amhranai recognized a voice. "Quite the unlikely band..."

Striding forward, an elegant and handsome white-haired elf, his silk shirt lose and only half-buttoned, gave a gracious bow before Lady Ourson and her companions, flashing Amhranai a cool wink as he did so. "Welcome to The Arcade, Lady Ourson, Dame Amhranai. Moving in, are we?"

The press of the crowd was at once a source of concern and security to Amhranai. Too many people and too open of an area for someone to try anything untoward. And yet very easy to slip through after a quick thrust of the knife. The attention brought by Lureene's otherworldly beauty was also unnerving; the guildmaster's appearance, however, had a calming effect.

"Oh, hello Angrem. I see you already know Lureene here; allow me to introduce our companion, Sasha Nevah, of Malatesta. She is in the employ of our Princess as well. I am quite content in my house, but I believe these two ladies are indeed interested in moving in. Do you know who we could speak with to arrange such matters?"

Lureene nodded in reply to the charming elf even as she recalled what little she knew of him.

He is the Guildmaster of the Cartwrights I believe? I know the have had some difficulties recently and also he and Gallo don't get along too well. He sounds like a good man.

"A pleasure to see you again Master Rochmir." She smiled at him as she held out her hand in greeting, "Actually, I am looking for a penthouse suite for Scribe Hithraen as a favor for him. He would like something close to the West, as near to Central Avenue as possible while overlooking both Victor's and the plazas below; that would be ideal."

Guildmaster: Cartwright's

"A man who knows what he wants, hmm?" The suave elf bowed, delivering a gentle kiss to the back of Lureene's hand. "He should fit in well here."

Recovering, he gave a slight tip of his chin. "I'll introduce you to Basilio, he can aid your beau."

A Bluff 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (19) + 15 = 34
A SM 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (20) + 13 = 33

Sense Motive Checks:
M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (3) + 12 = 15
L 1d20 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 + 2 = 8 alertness
S 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7

Amhranai, Giles, and the Royal Guards might very well have gone unnoticed in the wake of Lureene and Angrem. All the while, Sasha hummed away, eager green eyes taking in the structure's architecture and the interesting shops that came into view as they followed.

Good old Ellie, she always gets noticed!

"This place seems really nice," she mused to no one in particular, "reminds me of the places we used to visit in the big city..."

Indeed, as they walked thru the refined structure, its walls curving to follow the plaza that turned Worship Avenue into Long Street, it became clear that the Builders had clearly surpassed their forebearers. The central plaza was wide enough for carriages to pass in each direction, a broad, landscaped median separating the sides. Outside these lanes, deep sidewalks provided ample space for foot traffic while cafés and storefronts had room enough to set out tables for their patrons beneath the overhanging balconies above.

It was to that second story that the master wainwright led everyone, up stairs of white and grey marble with intricately wrought iron railings, to an airy landing overlooking the interior. From here, large archways opened onto the exterior admitting fresh air and affording views of the Coliseum behind them. Before them, buttressed bridges, decorated in the same fashion as the stairs, crossed over the noise and bustle of the plaza to similar arches on the far side, these affording vistas of old growth trees and Bonny Swale's rice fields.

As Angrem started across the span, his arm at the service of Lady Ourson, the coolness of mist, borne on the wind from fountains below, offered refreshment from the midday heat, the droplets sparkling in shafts of sunlight from the skylights of the uppermost floor above. "Bet you can get a really good view from the roof, huh?"

Guildmaster: Cartwright's

It was just a quick right off the bridge before Master Rochmir held out his left hand to the edifice beside him. "Here we are."

Expression cool, he swept his wintery locks back behind his ears, leading Lady Ourson into the office beyond. An iron plaque by the door read, "Office of the Superintendent: Basilio Lori."

Within, the canvas awnings covering the front windows kept the interior dark, the smell of well-burnished hardwoods, aged leather, and pipe-smoke lingering in the air. Further to the back, past the tall counter of an attractive, middle-aged receptionist, the wood-paneled hallway opened onto a gentleman's solar. Here, tall windows shaded by lattice, offered an unobstructed view of the plantation beyond the city walls. There were leather armchairs and sofas enough to seat everyone comfortably, though the guards remained at attention outside, and a well-stocked bar was built into the wall left of the door.

A massive billiards table divided the room, its legs carved to resemble those of a great beast, and facing towards it, from the right-hand side of the parlor, was an expansive desk, behind which sat an aging gentleman with thinning brown hair and a round face. Were it not for the fact that he was of average height, his ornate, golden brocade coat, bright-green vest, bountiful white collar, and gold chain of office might have brought to mind a fanciful gnome.

Dark eyebrows rising even as he rose from his high-backed chair, he gave a nod to Angrem and said, in a tone reminiscent of Lord Poe, "Ah, Master Rochmir, only you could find yourself in the company of such extraordinary beauty. Yet I gather this is not our usual social call, is it?"

Stepping out from his officious desk, he approached and bowed, holding out his hand with a flourish. "Lady Ourson, I presume?"

From by one of the windows, a tall man with broad-shoulders and a wide-brimmed chapeau turned and approached, the thick soles of his boots resounding on the hardwood floors. With only a cursory nod to Angrem, the man stroked his goatee with one hand and gave a shallow bow, eyes like those of an old lion strayed from Lureene's only long enough to make Sasha bite her lip.

In a gravely voice, he amended the somewhat older man's assertion, "Well, nobody but me least ways..."

Nodding slightly, he tipped his hat, expression more confidant than smug. "The name's Moretti, but you can call me Victor."

Guildmaster: Cartwright's

There was only the faintest chuckle from Angrem, who extended a hand in introduction to the balding proprietor. "Lady Ourson, this is the man you came to speak with — Mister Lori."

Lureene took in the surroundings of the office with a jaded eye, having seen such places before during her time long before her arrival on Elsemar. However the appearance of the man who introduced himself as Victor caught her slightly off guard. For a moment her mind traveled back to when she worked with one of the crime lords back on Khaledrun on a plane far from Elsemar. He had worked as an enforcer for him, as she recalled. Naturally she had no idea if he was even still alive...She held out her hand and replied softly, "It is a pleasure to meet you Mister Lori."

She then inclined her head at Victor, her eyes returning his gaze with a guarded one of her own. "Victor, is it? I have heard...much of you. Your reputation precedes you." She then smiled, "And a pleasure it is as well to make your acquaintance!"

She allowed herself to be guided to one of the sofas and took a seat, motioning for Sasha to sit next to her. Once settled in she says, "As you have guessed, I am not here for amusement but business. My fellow aide Scribe Hithraen has need of leasing a penthouse suite in the Arcade." She then outlines the specifics of his request. "Would you have one available?"

Bluff 1d20 + 20 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 20 + 1 = 35 attractive
Diplomacy 1d20 + 15 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 15 + 1 = 30 attractive

As Lureene engaged Mister Lori, Sasha sat quietly by her side, legs crossed and foot wagging with nervous energy as she signed and kept shifting her gaze every which way but at Victor.

You've a good thing going, Sasha, don't blow it!

Without really thinking about it, her hand sought out her friend's and she gripped it tightly. "Gee, it sure is getting late," she murmured.

Lureene OR Sense Motive DC 22:
Although Lureene could tell that Sasha dearly wished to get out here, the reason for it as yet evaded her.

Sense Motive Checks vs Lureene:
M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (5) + 12 = 17
S 1d20 + 2 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 2 + 5 = 14 familiarity

AR 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (1) + 13 = 14
BL 1d20 ⇒ 20
VM 1d20 ⇒ 8

Bluff Checks
S Innuendo 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22

Sense Motive Checks:
M 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (9) + 12 = 21
L 1d20 + 2 + 5 ⇒ (1) + 2 + 5 = 8 familiarity

AR 1d20 ⇒ 3
BL 1d20 - 1 - 2 ⇒ (12) - 1 - 2 = 9 seductive, human
VM 1d20 - 1 - 2 ⇒ (11) - 1 - 2 = 8 seductive, human

"Please, pardon my interruption, Lady Ourson," Basilio began, holding up a hand as she began to rattle off the details of Arion's request. "Mister Moretti, Master Rochmir, my apologies. Out of respect to our royal envoy's confidentiality, let us reconvene at a later time. Vanessa shall schedule it to suit your convenience."

With an expansive sigh, Victor got back to his feet, a glint in his eyes catching Sasha's to whom he offered a leathery hand. Unwittingly, the ranger took it and was hoisted to her feet as though she was but a doll, her grip upon Lureene's hand slipping free. "You and her Ladyship ought to drop by my place after you're done here. Get to the neighborhood for your scribe friend."

Cracking a smug grin, he turned her palm over and placed a few embossed platinum tokens in her care. "Catch ya later," he said before tweaking her chin.

His bow cursory, Victor said, "Your Ladyship, Dame..." before the sound of his heavy boots signaled his exit to the dazed huntress.

Guildmaster: Cartwright's

Even as Sasha fell back on the couch, teeth clenched, and knees weak, Angrem gave a flourish from his brow to the three ladies, his low bow affording a peak at the well-toned torso beneath his loose-fitting silk shirt. "A pleasure to meet you again, Amhranai, Lady Ourson."

As the taller, men left the room, Giles gestured to two of the guards who had followed your group inside. He closed the doors behind them as they exited. "We shall await your leisure outside, Lady Ourson."

Whether or not Sasha's distress was lost on the foppish landlord, Basilio met the gaze of the three women and gestured to the bar. "Might I offer a constitutional before we get underway?"

Lureene turned a raised eyebrow at Sasha, wondering what had gotten under her skin. I should ask her when we have concluded our business here. Maybe we can pick up dinner at Victor's; I wonder if the food is good...

Shrugging she waved to Giles, "Of course, Giles," before she turned her attention back to the landlord Basilio. "Yes, forgive me. I would LOVE a drink!"

Uncharacteristically silent as she chewed on the corner of her mouth, Sasha gazed ruefully at the tokens in her hand. The letters V.I.P. had been embossed in the center, flanked by cutouts of dancing girls in profile.

"Well, maybe just one," she replied, before slipping the tokens into her belt pouch.


S Will 1d20 + 1 - 2 - 1 ⇒ (12) + 1 - 2 - 1 = 10 fascination, attractive

Darvesch wrote:
"Greasha! I'm glad I ran into you! I was just browsing the market for some essentials for my next project. I wonder if you would have time to spare to join me? With your mother's permission, of course."

Maasha's face lit up at the sight of Darvesch, and she motioned for Greasha to pile the packages she had gathered into her backpack. "Fortuitous indeed, your Honor! Why with work slow aboard the ship, my poor girl has moping about, looking for something to do."

Shushing an objection that was never given, she shook a finger at Greasha and said, "No, no, I've been handling kitchens and princes since– well, for long enough to handle this in my sleep! Go on now, and help Darvesch, he's a busy man. Oh and if you should get hungry, your Honor, don't you worry, we Torwold women would never see a brave soul go hungry! You can call whenever you like!"

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