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It’s a cold and gray morning but still the hustle and bustle of the Great Bazaar stretches in all directions with merchants hawking their wares: Freshly baked Elysium green wheat bread, Baatorian green steel chivs with the maker’s mark Fred waz here, even myconid hallucinatory spores imported directly from Mycelia on Mechanus. The Cage looms over Evie upward built on the inner curve of a torus that’s had it’s insides scooped out by some unknown Power. Few bashers look up into the hazy smoke the City of Doors calls it’s sky, for fear of peering over the edge.
Zeke is a strange creature even in his human form, he’s greasy but his skin still shines, he hunches a little but still walks with confidence, and his smile is crooked but still inspires friendliness. He finds Evie and gives her a dashing wink before saying, ”Li’l lady! Got a job for ya ifin you’re intrested. Now I know ya Indeps don't have ranks like the Hardheads or the Guvners but this Brendan feller is a high-up just the same. Whaddya say? Wanna know the dark of it?”
The dark and dirty differences comparing the Labyrinth and this City of Doors is a constant. The air smoke-filled and lazy; instead of furious and treacherous. The sounds of joy, vibrancy, a certainty of a future; instead of the roar, the growl, the cry of predators. . How ironic; all my life (not to mention those that came before me) I ceaselessly searched for a way out. And, here, I am simply surrounded by them. These Mensch wonder about their busy lives without a true appreciation of what is freedom. Freedom from fear; ever pawing, clawing, snapping at you. Freedom from finding your days filled with frustration. Freedom from dark and dangerous nights delivering death. Yes, this Sigil will allow for ascension.
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Evie walks the Great Bazaar, entranced as always by the tapestry of scents weaving their way through the marketplace. Every day smells from a hundred different worlds found their way to the Bazaar, each exotic and distinct to the young ratfolk. Whenever her nose caught a new one it twitched, as did the nose of the grey rat whose head poked out from the folds of her scarf. Together they navigated an aromatic maze to find the sources of their interest, slipping easily between the legs and feet of the crowds.
While she would usually close her eyes and let her nose lead the way, today she keeps them open, the gray morning light just dim enough to allow her to see without discomfort. And so it is that she sees the were-rat approaching before she smells him.
"Good morning, Zeke." She curtsies to her friend, blushing a bit under her fur at his wink, and listens to his proposition.
"I could make do with some more coin, and that's no lie." Her lessons with Geda were fruitful, but after paying the dwarf for her tutelage she had little left to purchase the materials needed to practice her craft in the city at large. Also, it'd been ages since she'd had enough to splurge on a truly indulgent cheese.
"I very much wish to hear the dark of it. Who is this Mr. Brendan, and what sort of employment does he offer?"
Zeke twitches his nose in approval, "Knew I could count on ya li'l lady. I'll let Brendan Mawl explain the job himself." Zeke leads Evie through the Grand Bazaar.
They pass a carriage drawn by two Arcadian ponies, their green skin and rabbit like ears are the least strange thing about them, rising from just above their breastbone is a single tentacle five feet long. They smell mildly sweet, reminiscent of white chocolate and pale flowers. From within the cab Evie can clearly hear one occupant comment, "Well I heard the Modrons have made it all the way to Ribcage!"
The two move too quickly to eaves drop more and Evie is brought to S&J Transport. A single chair and desk adorn this spartan office. A tiefling who stinks of brimstone, has coal-black eyes and pointed ears sits in the chair with a leaf of paper in front of him. On his left arm is a patch depicting a dragon devouring itself. He nods to Zeke and the wererat leaves but not before saying, "Good luck li'l lady."
Brendan begins, "Zeke highly recommends you. Here's the chant. There's this barmy named Eliath wanderin' about in the Hive. He doesn't know it, but he's got the dark of something I want. He holds the key for a portal that's said to lead someplace real interesting. Can you go have a lookabout of him?"
He pulls out a heavy pouch containing 300 gold coins of various mint, "Some jink to get you started. Hire any blood you see fit to help you find him, keep in mind the Hive can be dangerous. If you're successful there might be another job after this one."
Sometime earlier, in a dark alley in a thourally disreputable part of the city...
A tall, dark, figure strides toward a smaller, cowering man. Behind him two bodies lie, one still, the other gurgling through a broken windpipe.
The smaller man staggers back, hands held out in defense
"Ok, Ok, Ok. So I shouldn'ta tried to screw you out of your pay, ya? How's about we just start over and I can pay you double next week?"
Even as he tries to fast talk his way out of his jam, the scrawny man tries to back out of the alley, all too soon finding a wall at his back.
The tall figure, features cloaked by his voluminous robes and the darkness of the alleyway finally speaks, soft yet deep, cold ... so cold.
"Did you forget you just tried to have me killed a minute ago? That cannot be paid in gold, only in..."
The speech in the alleyway was cut short by a blur of motion, a flash of brightness, lantern light gleaming on bared steel, then a spray of something much darker.
The tall figure finishes as he turns to walk toward the street, flicking blood from his curved blade and wiping it dry on an, often stained, sleeve before resheathing as he strides out of the alley.
He stops briefly as one of the fallen thugs starts awake, unconscious rather than dead and squeals "Dont kill me!."
Cold, green, eyes study the fallen man for a moment before he replies, "No need, you owe me nothing. There is no profit in your death." nodding to the still gasping second thug, he adds "you will want a doctor for him, at once." Then walks out into the street, long strides eating up the distance.
Great. Now I need to find new work.
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Gonna gather everyone conveniently for Evie ;)
Two blocks from The Slags, hugging the generally agreed upon line between the Clerk’s ward and the Hive squats the Poor Sod’s tavern. No one is really sure how the proprietor Vorn, an earth genasi, keeps the dirt and grass that serves as a roof alive in Sigil. Some speculate that he believes it lives and so it does. Vorn may own it but Ariel runs the kip. The air genasi bartender with stark white hair is always flitting about making sure the customers always have some bub in their hands and leave happy to have spent all their jink.
It’s mid-day but that doesn’t stop the tavern’s loyal customers. On an improvised stage a jester is auditioning for the night show, xe was paid a silver, so at least xe isn’t dying of exposure.
These bashers, bloods, and berks are all vaguely familiar with each other having banged around the the Poor Sod's for a while. They may have even shared a drink or two together.
As Jek walks into the Poor Sod, he takes a second to breathe in the moist grassy air. Some days this place smells better than home.
He lifts the crate of nuts over his head, takes a deep breath, and begins carefully tip-toeing around tables to get to the bar. Not again, not again, not again... The nuts rattle about as the large bariaur tries to step gently. Strangely, the patrons don't seem to notice him today. The performer must be doing pretty well.
While looking for an empty spot behind the bar, Jek notices a pyramid of his usual sweet grass bundles on a plate between two of the crates. This must be the spot. Carefully removing his treat, he nestles the crate into position and quietly pries it open with his horn. And that's that.
There's a large booth a little ways from the stage that Jek loves. It's usually one of the last spots to fill because one of the benches is missing. He walks up next to it, turns the other direction, and smiles as he backs into the bench-less spot and settles in for the show.
Vaascht sips his ale as he idly watches the jester perform, bored. The Gith warrior didnt have much for downtime interests and preferred to keep himself busy working.. well, fighting where possible.
It was only mid day and he'd meticulously cleaned and sharpened his blades twice already and was on his second ale, wishing for something harder but knowing it was early enough in the day he might get find work and wanted his wits clear.
at least I have enough scratch to keep going for a while yet he thinks morosely to himself as he stares at the bottom of his tankard.
Hearing the distinctive tread of the Bariuar he occasionally sees at this place, the Gith looks up and nods as he clops past to his usual table.
Looking around he sees a number of regulars around, and sadly no mean drunks looking for a fight... yet.
At least that would be a diversion from this boredom
Evie tries to contain her surprise at the sizable bag of coins with limited success. ”The Hive can be a dangerous place, Mr. Mawl, you’re right about that. I expect then that this Mr. Eliath can be just as dangerous. Do you know any more of him than his name?”
After Mr. Mawl supplies any additional information, Evie approaches the desk and reaches up to drag the pouch from its top, holding it with both hands as she steps back. ”I accept your offer, sir, and shall return once I’ve found him.” She curtsies before taking her leave of the tiefling.
Frederick and I will require some assistance. We can navigate the Hive easily enough, but then we’re always looking to avoid trouble rather than find it. To fulfill Mr. Mawl’s wishes we’ll need to acquire reliable help familiar with the territory…
”Well, Frederick, it appears we’re off to the Sod.”
|Yomi no Kyubi|
Dodging the pickpockets, beggars, and Professionals of the Night, the tattooed youth steadily steps through the dirty crowded streets of the Hive.
This busy city does offer a different type of danger; doesn't it.
The Patryn smiles.
Fell had a shipment of supplies sent to the Sod. The supplier refused to enter the Hive. Some get nervous. The human-looking male laughs.
Easy gig for me!
Rinika chats up some of the drunker patrons at the bar with a mixture of sincere unabashed curiosity and sly intent, trying to weasel out anything she can that might be useful to someone, somewhere. "That sounds like a great haul, friend!" She leans in close, conspirationally. "How'd you hide the stash?" She pats the barely-conscious ifrit on the back in congratulations and nicks the bottom of his coin purse with a claw, pulling a coin out in the same motion. "Waiter, another drink for this fine gentleman!" She pays with his own coin.
Every now and then she looks around to see if her friend Lucan is around, or to find someone else who looks interesting.
Ariel brings another round to Vaascht and says playfully, ”C’mon you can at least pretend like you’re having a good time.” She passes Vorn as he sits down across from Jek, ”That fox-jester, you’re sure not an Arcanoloth?” Vorn replies with a gravelly voice, ”Sure.” Vorn is holding onto a sealed box tightly and waves Akrynn over when he sees him, ”Fell, tell em I’m not a pikin' post box.” Vorn motions to Jek, ”He’s not afraid of the Hive. Hire em.” Vorn hands the package over to Arkrynn.
Ariel raises an eyebrow as Rinika picks the fire genasi’s pocket but doesn’t say anything, she serves them both a round of fireseeds and firewine. The taste of the seeds as they light on fire and are subsequently quenched with the wine is indescribably good, well worth the gold. The genasi says too loudly for polite conversation, ”In tha SLAAD….” He woozily falls over onto Rinika saying, ”Fuzzy.” He bolts upright, ”The Slags, no one goes there.” He passes out.
The front door opens revealing a small bipedal rat, everyone knows her name, Evie.
Rinika opens up her Guide to the Cage and scribbles a note down to look for that haul in the slags. With that finished and her current amusement passed out, she looks up right as the door opens. Seeing the newcomer, a predatory smile washes over the catfolk's face and she slinks off into the crowd to find the best spot from which to pounce on her new prey.
Evie quickly scurries into the Sod, weaving her way over to the bar and up a stool to stand. She unconsciously rests a hand on her "belly" - in truth the large pouch of coins, strapped around her midsection under her reinforced tunic. After giving a quick sniff she waves Ariel over and leans in to whisper conspiratorially with the genasi.
"Good day, Miss Ariel. I seek your advice. I have need of a few sound minders to accompany me on a ride into the Hive." The ratfolk peers around the room in one direction while Frederick surveys in the other.
"Might you recommend any such folk that are available for hire?"
Ariel smiles like a warm summer breeze at Evie, ”Oh yeah! A few to be sure. Vaascht over there is a sell-sword, one of those Takers, pay him enough and he’ll be your minder. Rinika, that strange catgirl says shes a tout.” She lowers her voice, ”I think she’s knight of the cross-trade, but if you have one of them on your side other knights will leave you be.” She looks around the room, ”That human, Arkynn, I think, I heard he associates with the fallen dabus who live in the Hive.” Ariel crosses her heart when she mentions Fell. She glances at Yomi, ”The arcano… performer, Yomi is ...her name, she’s a Madman, would be a good person to talk to what with the Gatehouse squatting in the Hive. But they’re all barmy if you ask me.” She finally looks at Jek, ”The bariaur Jek, he runs all over the place and is a good cutter to have looking out for you.”
knowledge local untrained: 1d20 ⇒ 13
Akrynn smiles at Vorn, taking the package; while looking to see who may be paying them undue attention.
perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
It's not like he doesn't pay you.
He hands the barkeep a silver.
Evie nods in thanks, fishing a small coin-purse from her pockets and taking five coppers from it to lay on the bar. "Thanks for the chant, Ariel." She turns on the stool and looks at each of the bartender's suggestions in turn.
A sellsword certainly fits the bill, and he looks serious - a good sign, I think. We wouldn't want a minder who takes killing lightly. A tout could be useful, assuming she knows the Hive; if she's a burglar as well it's no matter to us so long as she keeps her paws out of our purse. As for this Akrynn - she wrinkles her nose and gives her whiskers a twirl - I don't know about associating with a renegade dabus, but if Ariel thinks he might be of help, we’ll give him a chance. A barmy can surely be of help in finding and dealing with one of their own, and this Jek... well, he’s not going to be subtle, but all eyes on him are eyes off us. She and Frederick exchange a glance and the pair climb down the stool and make their way over to the githzerai mercenary.
”Excuse me, sir,” she squeaks, ”but it’s my understanding that you’re available for hire. If so, I have need of reliable minders for a foray into the Hive. Might you be interested?”
Knowledge (local) vs DC 10: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
Vascht manages a thin smile for Avie as she accosts his glum demeanor.
Vascht looks over at the diminutive ratfolk for a long second, studying her bearing and look, before answering.
"I do happen to be between work at the moment. If your coin is good I have an opening, I will require ten percent of my fee up front and I'm yours as long as you pay. for flavor purposes only, handwave any actual exchange of money crunch wise.
A simple walk through the hive? Seems boring, but better than sitting here
crap, I never finished gear purchases. I'll get that done when the kids nap today
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Rinika prowls along through the crowd, attempting to sneak up and pounce on Evie while she's distracted by that gruff-looking Githzerai who always seems to be drinking his latest job away.
stealth: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
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"I do happen to be between work at the moment. If your coin is good I have an opening, I will require ten percent of my fee up front and I'm yours as long as you pay."
"Excellent!" Evie beams. "I can use the protection. We'll be leaving as soon as I -" An accusatory squeak sounds from the ratfolk's scarf as a grey rat pokes its head out. Evie spins her head just in time to see the incoming catgirl mid-pounce.
Perception vs DC 27: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27
Evie's obviously surrounded by danger!
It's not like he doesn't pay you.
Jek finishes chewing a bundle and turns to get a better look at Akrynn. He sighs and shakes his head. ”Clueless prime.”
Turning back to Vorn, Jek rolls his eyes and shrugs. "Thanks for the sweet grass. Need anything else today?"
Seeing his prospective employer whirl around to face a pouncing cat... girl, Vaascht raises an eyebrow and moves a hand to his blade, but content to watch for the moment.
"I haven't yet been paid my retainer..."
Looming over Evie, Rinika's grin flashes from jovial to something far more sinister and back to jovial as a dead spot shimmers across her face. "Hi Evie. How's business?
"My business is my own," Evie huffs, flustered by Rinika's surprise appearance. She takes a gold coin from her purse and reaches high to slap it down on Vaascht's table. She fusses with returning the clutch to her skirt pockets, arching her eyebrows. "The dark of it is that I was considering hiring your services, along with those of the bariaur, that tattooed human, and the fox performer." She clicks her tongue against her prominent front teeth in a tutting sound.
"I suppose if you were to convey my invitation for employment to the fox while I speak with the other two, I'd consider still hiring you..."
Evie turns her back to the catgirl and walks away to attend to Jek and Akrynn. "Good morning, gentlemen. I have a matter to attend to in the Hive and require assistance in case any untoward circumstance should arise. You both have been recommended to me as being reliable. If you're agreeable, we'd be leaving later today."
Rinika chuckles and heads over towards the low stage. She stops a few steps away, composes herself, and spends a moment beseeching the shadows to make her more friendly. She then approaches with caution.
"Hello there Yomi, excellent performance...if you're looking for better coin, though, Evie over there is putting a team together for a job in the Hive. You know the area? Interested?"
Smiling at his new employer, Vaascht slides the coin into this pouch and stands, unfolding his lanky, tall frame gracefully from the tavern bench.
Fully standing, he stretches his back, mouse brown robes rippling under his deep brown, nearly black, boiled leather lamellar armor, all covered by a sleeveless jacket of the same mouse brown as his robes. As he stands he slides a long curved sword in a laquered scabbard of smooth, black, wood. As he settles the blade on his belt, the coat sways aside and discloses a quartet of daggers sheathed on the opposite side of his sword.
Bright green eyes belie the laconic expression on his face, mottled green and grey skinned and hairless. Pointed ears complete his face, the right one cut short and horribly scarred.
Looking down, from a half a head higher than most humans, at his diminutive employer, he gathers his pack from under the table.
"I'm on your coin now, and ready to leave."
The tattooed human looks down at the mouse speaking to him. It has been quite an adjustment rationalizing that animals talk here. He smiles as he bends down to one knee to better put them at an equal height.
Good day. My name is Akrynn. I am familiar with parts of the Hive. I do have some free time, so what is this job that you offer?
Akrynn is 6'4. He weighs 240 pounds. His brown hair (white at the tips) is worn tight and has a bit of a wave to it. He wears green and brown colored robes that have white trim at the sleeves, collar and hood. Blue tattoos (matching his eyes) cover his tan skin, except on his face. He carries a strong oaken quarterstaff; a dagger sheathed at his belt.
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"Lovely words. Dashing scarf. Peery spiv or nimble cutter?" Jek's gaze drifts off as he ponders. He begins to chew an unsettling amount of cud. Several seconds pass. He swallows and looks back to Evie. "You seem nice. I'm in. How does one recognize an ent ward Sir Kem stance?"
|Yomi no Kyubi|
Yomi grins at Ariel as she finishes up xer performance "And that's all for now but if you want to see what I can really do you should give me a volunteer" xe turns to leave the stage after xe gathers xer belongings
before encountering Rinika, xe tilts xer grinning head from side to side as xe considers the offer "I could use a little jink and I did three hours ago"
Rinika stares at Yomi blankly for a moment, then flips through her marked-up bluebook briefly and then finally let's out a short laugh. "Heh. Goodie. I'll let her know."
She slinks back over to Evie. "We're in. What's the Hive bringing us today?"
Evie draws herself up straight and tall to her full 24 inches, the rat on her shoulder mimicking her stance. "As some of you already know, I am Evie Lathrop. Our business in the Hive is this: I need to find a body by the name of Eliath and, if possible, bring him back to the Great Bazaar. He's a barmy in blue tatters who looks in desperate need of a meal. Together we shall find him and escort him to his destination, preferably with a minimum of fuss."
"Once Eliath and myself are safely back in the Bazaar, I'll pay each of you forty jinx. Are we agreed?" She and Frederick peer expectantly into the faces of those gathered.
Vaascht nods as well. "Seems simple enough.
Rinika pulls her book out once again from one of a hundred pockets in the pile of clothes adorning her that might charitably not be referred to as rags. Her boots stand out as the only apparel that even seems to fit her well, and a tangle of several scarves about her neck hint at some effort put into dressing well, were it not that she's wearing at least three different scarves. A splintering wooden shield crusted with the old blood of something decidedly non-humanoid shows at least a passing effort at protecting herself from harm in this dangerous city. Clashing with everything, an elegant lacquered scabbard with a protruding hilt and inlay of mother-of-pearl is strapped across her back, hiding an undoubtedly finely crafted long, straight blade.
She flips a few pages and reads some jotted down notes will idly swatting at one of her scarves. "I have a few friends who might be in the Hive, might know this chap."
"Once Eliath and myself are safely back in the Bazaar, I'll pay each of you forty jinx. Are we agreed?"
”Thank you. I’ll meet you around front.”The athletic bariaur collects his plate and brushes off the table with care. He squeezes by the patrons and bows low to fit into the kitchen. After donning his armor and grabbing his things, Jek exits through a side door and strolls around to the front.
Looking a little different in his specially made armor of thick overlapping dark gray hides and carrying a rather large lance and shield, Jek starts performing leg stretches just outside the bar.
The Hive sprawls around, surrounding you in a gray warren of run-down buildings, filthy streets, and desperate people. The cold drizzle has driven many of the street people to shelter. Condemned buildings glow with the red light of cooking fires, and haggard faces peer at you from almost every window. The streets have a maddening tendency to confuse your senses of direction. Once you stray from the main thoroughfares, you'll quickly become lost, and it will take some time to be certain of covering the Hire in detail. From time to time, you're accosted by various people — stinking bubbers, raving barmies, street urchins looking for a handout, peddlers trying to sell their wares. You stumble across a number of businesses, including cheap alehouses, ratty inns, gaming halls, and decrepit pawnshops. The shopkeepers are suspicious and watch you silently.
Akrynn walks toward the front of the group. He walks confidently with his strong oak quarterstaff in hand. He peers around at any that may consider this group a mark.
perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Vaascht stalks in the front of the group, giving any who accosts the group his patented "stink eye" as they go, seemingly unaffected by the cold rain seeming into his robes and armor.
As they go, he tries to recollect the parts of the Hive he had frequented to aid their progress.
Know Local: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (20) + 1 = 21
well, I hope that was actually worth it and I didn't waste a sweet, sweet, crit
Vaascht knows that the Bleak Cabal might keep records of barmies because the Gatehouse is Sigil's largest insane asylum. The Hive ward is the Chaosmen's turf so one of them might know where to find Eliath. There are a number of taverns, such as the Smoldering Corpse Bar that you could ask around. Canvasing the Hive could take a couple of days.
1d20 + 8 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 8 + 2 = 13
Evie: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (10) + 10 = 20
Frederick: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
Jek: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
Rinika: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
Vaascht: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5
A stinking bubber with stained rags stumbles towards you yelling, "Oi give me sometin!"
The samurai steps between Evie and the beggar, one hand outstretched and the other on his sword.
"Back!" he growls at the stinking mass of street trash.
Evie sees through the cony-catchers’ game and darts between the legs of her githzerai bodyguard, using him as a shield. This close she gets the true smell of him, alcohol and weapon oil and steel, the scent sharp and hard as the gith himself.
Pulling her cloak tighter against the drizzle, she tuts at the child. ”We’re not for peeling, little one.” She turns her nose to the bubber in rags, his stink louder than his shouts, and glares at him.
”Use your brain-box before the both of you end up in the book, you leather-headed fool.”
Before leaving the Poor Sod's, Rinika grabs the mother-of-pearl handle coming out of the scabbard on her back and pulls out an exquisitely decorated umbrella. Ivory ribs opened around a darkwood shaft stained deep green, unfurling a green silk canopy embroidered with gold thread fish patterns. She steps out into the shade provided by the parasol but squints painfully for a moment in the full light of Sigil.
As Evie chastises the boy, Rinika stays a step behind Vaascht and growls "Better learn to pick your marks better next time."
Vaascht intimidate: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Evie is helping: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Rinika is helping: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
The bubber holds up his hands and backs away a little bit, his drunken facade drains from his face. A bald child with green skin steps away from the group everyone noticing her now. The bubber speaks, "Lots of desperate berks in the Hive." He motions to the fancy umbrella, "Figured you cutters got a coin or two to spare." The child rushes to the bubber and hides behind him, "You gonna let us go or gut us?"