If Alziver is bothered by the outsider and the contract, the only way it shows is in his quiet curiosity. However as the Revelation is brought out he frowns. "Is this a joke?" But upon further inspection he sighs. "Could you return it to its normal size?"
At the word of Sveng's death he chockes on the piece of fruit. "What? Sveng? Why? And how do you know that? Villichi is the problem, not Sveng. There's no need to kill him."
"I plan on returning it as soon as Villichi is gone. Normally I have easy access to it at the museum, and indeed it's very function is dependent upon its interactions with people. But somehow Villichi learned of it's function and has prevented me from reaching it. With him gone I will ensure it goes back to a well-guarded secret. And who would suspect my greatest tool of power is on display in a museum?" He frowns. "I still wonder how Villichi learned of it."
Alziver looks cautious and skeptical, and amusingly so does the monkey. After a half a minute of consideration, the monkey begins fidgeting then leaps forward to grab the fruit, nibbling it at Ianna's feet.
Alziver nods slowly. "Well, I won't complain about being spared the efforts of outing Villichi. As for the donations...I find that reasonable. After all, strong churches create strong communities. It's good for all. I would request being able to spread out the payments to make our involvement subtler. I have a number of interests that wouldn't be thrilled with the idea." He floats the idea as the monkey returns, drawing a knife from his coat pocket and slicing off a piece of fruit for himself. "To keep the annual ceremony idea intact, on this day we will take 5% of our profits from the last year and set it aside. Then one a month we will launder 1/12 of the money through frequent donars, so no eyebrows are raised. Agreeable?"
Sense Motive DC 20:
Alziver is being perfectly honest and doesn't seem to mind the cost of the trade at all. In fact, despite his idea of not wanting to be seen as associated with helping churches, he even seems to agree on a moral level with the idea.
Alziver sits and nibbles on a slice of cheese. "I could give you two dozen prospective locations, but I have no idea which one he's holed up in, plus trying to scout one out would give away who you are." He feeds a chunk to the monkey on his shoulder. "There's nobody I truly trust anymore, but there are two people who still act like they're loyal to me. A female gnome at the docks by the name of Oriensa. She's a real fiesty one, I wouldn't recommend getting the jump on her. And a human banker by the name of Jorath. I don't think anybody really knows he works for me."
Alziver raises a finger. "The government was already on Villichi, but now the people are angry as well. Anger is a far better motivator than fear." He paces for a moment, then sighs and shakes his head. "Look, I'm all for working with you - we have the same goals - but I just can't help without that info. It's not that I don't want to, I just can't. If Villichi does have it, it was either incredibly unfortunate or his espionage skills are well beyond mine. Let's hope instead some third party is involved that may be easier to work with. Perhaps you could listen to the word around town, shake down some rats, rattle the right bones. Somebody has to know something."
"There's a grave but it's purely for show. She was cremated." He folds his arms. "I suppose that's possible, but I highly doubt it. Plus I'm the only one who knows how to unlock it."
He scowls again. "All I heard was that five people, supposedly working for Villichi, robbed the museum. The only casualty was one of the robbers, but nobody has seen a body. I'm about as well informed as the common citizen right now." He adjusts his hat. "And if these five were meant to frame you than they're doing a terrible job. All eyes are on Villichi."
Alziver frowns, standing back up and pointing a finger at Dalton. "Don't try to put the blame on me; I'm as in the dark as you are. Besides, what leverage do I have on you or even hope to gain? You're here helping me."
"I told you before, it's basically a spy. I won't pretend to understand the nuts and bolts of how it works, but it records information of what's going on in various parts of the city. If you want to know how it actually does that then you'll have to go grave digging because the secret died with the artist."
He scowls. "Steal it and bring it to me, that was the deal. Plus I can't help you until I get it anyways, even if I wanted to."
Alziver looks at Dalton with confusion for a moment, then sighs and sits down. "Somebody beat you to it than. I heard that a group of five infiltrated the museum so I had assumed it was you, despite rumors it was Villichi. Perhaps the rumors were true, although that makes me wonder why that suddenly became important to him than keeping the guards off his trail."
A few hours trek through the rugged mountains and the party is back at the solitude tree. A few crossbow bolts later the same monkey comes out, and within a few more minutes they are with Alziver.
Alziver greets the party with a wide grin. "Well you lot work fast, don't you? No guard casualties either, very nicely done."
It's not a very well kept secret :P
"Possibly. I haven't hard tell of that though." He grins. "Well painting is a strong word for it, it's more of an artistic mechanical. It has functions programmed into it that will help both our goals." He turns to Dalton. "It's one of the most famous pieces of art in the city. It's disappearance will be noticed."
Bjorkus - You are aware of exactly two immortals. Acera and Calios (aka Villichi).
There is no religious connection as far as you know.
To be clear, Grastle Hollow is the largest gnome civilization and a metropolis of nearly 100000 people.
"It will survive. And so will I, one way or the other. I would prefer it to be in fewer pieces when I come back, but mourning the past only interferes with the future."
He gives a sarcastic sigh. "Incompetent would be the answer to that. Ever since they got a new guard captain they have been even more useless than before. It's a damned embarrassment."
He chuckles. "My power is my knowledge. That's how this game is played. If you want such information you'll have to do something for me in return. Two things, anyways. The first is that you won't fight me coming back to power. If you fail it doesn't matter to me either way, but if you're powerful enough to take down Villichi that means you're more powerful than me as well. The second is a favor. There is a piece of art in the Museum of Rhombodazzle. A large, mechanical-looking painting in the grand entrance hall. You can't miss it." His eyes sweep the party. "I want you to steal it and bring it here."
Alziver actually snorts and covers his mouth as Ianna makes a dig towards Dalton. He takes a moment to recover while he laughs. "Oh, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Truth or not, that was funny." He chuckles and leans back against the cave wall, taking a moment to somber up.
"It was remarkably fast and brutal. I heard about a small rise in crimes and began investigating it, then suddenly I found myself in the middle of a full-scale war with a mysterious terrifying figure. He fought cheap and dirty, using everything from ambushes to hostages to biological attacks to win. It only took weeks for the rest of the men loyal to me to turncoat, and the only reason I've even seen his face is because he came to kill me himself. Luckily I had an escape planned and managed to get out before he killed me. Not much of a monologuer either, I expected a big speech to go with his victory. He just put in a sick grin and took out this hellish black greataxe and came at me."
He flicks up the brim of his hat. "You have to understand my situation. I want to take down Villichi. If I need to I'll wait for somebody else to get to him; he won't destroy the entire city. It's just too big, and if he goes the genocide route he will attract the attention of meddlesome other nations like Andril. But I would still prefer to cut him out before he causes any more damage. You're not the first group of little rebels that came along to me asking for help. I was quite optimistic with them, but it was all for naught and I had to flee for my life a second time because Villichi tortured them for information after capturing them. It took a lot of work to convince him that I died in the raid. A lot of work and a lot of gunpowder." He twists a lock of his hair. "It's just not worth the risk again, near as I can tell."
Alziver considers Toramin's words as he eats another handful of mushrooms. "You speak the truth, child of the Dibh Muileta. I have spent a great deal of time considering how to bring down this one who cannot die. Considering how he seems to walk around in heavy armor, I think what may be best is putting him in a body of water and freezing it. As you know yourself, it's not easy to swim or climb in such cumbersome attire." He taps the lid of the pickled mushrooms jar. "Yes, I still have some loyalty in the city, despite Villichi's regime. There are still strings to be pulled and favors to be called in. But I'm not entirely sure who I can trust anymore, the ones I am confident in I can count on one hand. Ah, I am so betrayed." He chuckles. "And so proud! It was quite a vicious turnaround they had on me. Without my contingency plans I surely would have died. But still, so betrayed."
Alziver listens silently to Dalton's antagonistic statement, then surprisingly laughs, nearly sloshing pickled juice onto the cave floor. "Oh what a rich metaphor! I suppose from one point of view, particularly that of Grastle Hollow's government, that is how I appear. But I wonder, as criminals yourselves shouldn't you share a different opinion than they?" He inquires with a piercing gaze at Dalton.
Alziver turns to Rilka and clicks his tongue agains his teeth. "So you were there? I heard it was quite the bloody fight in the sands. I'd love to hear about it." His eyes light up at more food, the mushrooms in particular. He picks them out with a little wood stick, swallowing a mouthful to answer Rilka. "Near as I could tell, it's the adamantium. Don't write it off so easily, that stuff is expensive. Stealing this much of it is worth...more than a small fortune, to say the least."
Alziver looks Rilka dead in the eye. "This is my city, even if I've lost it for the time being. I will be there to pick up the pieces of the chaos Villichi has caused, and I will restore order. I know when to hide when I'm licked, but I'm not running away. Just biding my time."
Rilka just struck a nerve, in a good way. He's gotten a little fired up about his passion for the city. Also, there seems to be more about Villichi's motives that he's not letting on about...
Alziver cocks an eyebrow. "Here I thought we were all friends but there are secrets kept from me about my own sources." He shrugs. "What I'm more interested in is this history of yours apparently. I think I would have heard about a second hero taking down an immortal, and since you're not Ares of Akropash I doubt you have any proof of your claim."
"His strength? I've yet to see limits for it. It was good planning and a bit of dumb luck that I'm alive right now. Sometimes it pays to be a bit paranoid." He swallows a pair of grapes, sliding one under each set of molars to crush them open. "I don't know how you expect me to help. He came out of nowhere and scared everybody into following him, killing any dissenters. Like I said, the man lacks finesse. Just came at the whole situation with pure brute strength. Not a long term plan at all, I'm inclined to just sit here and wait out his reign which will undoubtedly burn out soon enough. Even if I had something that could help you, why should I? You're not the first to try to resist Villichi, and the last person I gave advice to was tortured until he gave up my last hiding spot. Not worth the risk, far as I can tell. You did some good investigating to find me, but that hardly proved you have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with that monster." He cocks his head and absentmindidly preemptively keeps his hat from slipping off. "Speaking of, who was it that gave me up?" He inquires.
Obviously self-preservation is there - but there are few people where that isn't present. Right now this wily gnome is testing the unknown waters that is the group of people who suddenly showed up at his secret hideout. He may be seen as a positive force in the underground right now, but he knows that everybody present is aware that he is in fact a crime lord. A crime lord with unknown motives who is being contacted in order to gain leverage, not because he is a legitimate ally. But despite his reluctance and apparent cowardice, he definitely seems interested in wanting to bring down Villichi. He could be quite the powerful ally, but a combination of capability, determination, and tact will need to be shown to convince him to get him out of hiding.
Alziver frowns and tears a chunk out of a wedge of cheese. "Well, by comparison I suppose. That man lacks all subtly and tact. I suppose it was only a matter of time before he attracted somebody powerful enough to take him out of the picture. He's like a rabid dog with how he runs things. Doesn't seem to be any sense or purpose to it all, besides the adamantium shortage. So much unnecessary killing. Perhaps it's just to instill fear. But that sort of ruthlessness also inspires resistance, and he doesn't know how to balance the scales." He sighs. "Villichi's reign will be short but bloody. I for one have no intention of being caught in this warpath. Instead I will wait until somebody more powerful and selfless than I take him out of power and then I will see what can be done to put the pieces back together. Villichi thinks me dead and I would prefer to keep it that way."
Alziver is eating in a professional manner despite his clear malnourishment. Even so, he has to finish a large mouthful and swallow before he responds. "Ah, I haven't had fresh food in so long." He takes a drink of water from a stone cup and turns to Rilka. "Is that so? Public opinion of me has always been pretty split, so what is it now?" He chuckles and tips his hat. "Well thank you, it was a gift from an old friend." At cleaning up crime his optimistic demeanor turns a little darker. He takes another drink. "That's quite the job you've taken on. To say Villichi has an iron grip on it would be an understatement. Even my most loyal men seemed like they would cut their own hands off before disobeying one of his orders."
"And these must have been the companions you spoke of." Alziver says between mouthfuls of meat and fruit. "Alziver. It's a pleasure to meet the acquaintance of anybody who brings me some fresh food in these dark times. But I have been patient long enough, why is it that you are here? Obviously somebody I still trust gave you my location, plus if you were Villichi's men I would have been dead by now."
"I hope you brought food. Queenuckle isn't the only one who's hungry." The voice is soft and hoarse, but commanding. Like a strong-willed person who has been pushed to their limit. A gnome steps out into the range of the sibling's darkvision. He has a casual posture and an outfit that is somewhere between a performer and a noble with a green bow tie up top. His hair is neon-blue and his face is clean shaven. Sea-green eyes focus on the dwarves, although they look a bit sunken in. His frame does as well, as if he's been sick or malnourished. He has a short top-hat and a cane, although it doesn't look like he needs it. "Queenuckle" climbs up and perches on his shoulder, nibbling some cheese in the gnome's ear.
"If Queenuckle brought you here than you're not with Villichi. I'm Alziver. And what guests am I entertaining tonight?" He gives a sarcastic gesture as if he intends to accommodate for company in his barren cave.