Under the Thirteenth Revolutionary Council
Fireday, 31st Desnus, 4719
While there is no sort of 'official' time that everyone closes their shops, there are tendencies. Usually it's between the sixth and seventh bell after noon; some close earlier, a few close later, but even now, getting into the long days of the year, here in Isarn it's been found to be best to close up, and make sure you're closed up. Shops with windows are few and far between, and those are usually ones with a very, very strong understanding with the local hooligans -- they pay enough, and the hooligans actually do make sure that if their windows are busted out, the people who do it pay for it one way or the other, and usually both.
But it gives employees enough time to go home, get something to eat on the way, perhaps catch up on gossip at their local tavern (which is, after all, still the most common place to get your news). And for certain people, it gives them time to eat and do a few necessary things that their employees would find to be truly odd before they too go out into the darkened city.
Certain people ...
Entrepreneur, using Diplomacy: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (16) + 18 = 34 3.4 gp
Income from Le Manoir: 2.7 gp; 1.4 Goods; 1.4 Influence; 1.2 Labor
Income from Le Convoi: 2.6 gp; 1.4 Goods; 0 Influence; 1.2 Labor
(Includes payments to managers, assuming current rates and not extra for PC managers)
Total Capital: 8.7 gp; 2.8 goods; 1.4 Influence; 2.4 Labor
Another day's work done. For her staff, making wine; and for herself, brokering a contract between two traders wanting to make a deal: unable to agree terms, and unwilling to go to the corrupt and dysfunctional (to say nothing of prohibitively expensive) courts, they had come to her instead. Arbitration and dispute resolution are among Eponine's many skills, and ultimately - after a great deal of fast talking - she persuaded both of them to an agreed heads of terms; neither party completely happy, but both ultimately satisfied.
Enough so, at least, that they didn't quibble her own fee; cheaper and faster than a barrister could accomplish.
From under the lintel of Le Manoir's main entrance, she now watches as the vintners and house-staff make their way to the road and thence to their homes. Her reclamation of this once-dilapidated townhouse has not extended, thus far, to the upper floors; and she vows once again to find time to do so. A bedroom for Agathe (the least her grande-mere deserves is a safe place to sleep), and sleeping-quarters for the servants, are on her list of things to do.
Time. The most valuable commodity she has, and there's never enough of it.
She frowns, slightly, as she watches her guards put up shutters around the house and grounds before they, too, depart. It galls her that she has not been able to secure even the small area surrounding her house. On her next visit to Le Convoi, she will talk with Christophe about increasing recruitment and training. Passivity only gets you so far. Running off the local thugs and toughs would be a good first step to restoring at least some semblance of order.
Eponine suppresses a dark chuckle at the thought of order in a town like this. She never knew it when it was anything different, but she recalls the stories of her father and his friends, of a time when Isarn was considered one of the bastions of enlightenment. How are the mighty fallen. And how few are there to do anything about it.
Well she, at least, is not idle in that regard.
Turning back, she sees Agathe finishing off one more task before departing. "Honestly, grande-mere, it can wait until tomorrow. You should make your way with the other staff. It is safer to travel together." She suppresses another dark laugh at the thought of safety in a town like this.
Well, she, at least, is not idle in that regard either.
Income from Le Manoir: 6.6 gp; 4.2 Goods; 4.2 Influence; 3.6 Labor
Income from Le Convoi: 6.3 gp; 4.2 Goods; 0 Influence; 3.6 Labor
Total Income/Capital gained: 12.9 gp; 8.4 Goods; 4.2 Influence; 7.2 Labor
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Agathe gives a 'hmph' inside her button nose, a sound that you can't remember her ever not being able to use. It mixes contempt, haughteur, derision, tolerance, matronization, and amusement together in a complex blend which would be the despair of any nobleman of a line less than eight generations old. It's a sniff and a snort and a 'faugh' that simultaneously scolds Eponine for presuming she could scold her while pats her on the head for the effort. The sound packs an entire diatribe into a half-second of sound, a diatribe that consists of 'don't you tell me my job' with 'help used to be better back in the day' and 'I've lived how long in this city without you, young lady?', adds in a touch of 'They'd understand nothing I could say to them', and blends it with a splash of 'I'll go when I'm well ready!!'
Only grand-mere can spank you with one well-tuned sniff.
Still, she isn't getting younger and the task she's about would have taken her another hour or so when she was a spry, clever young thing; flapping a cloth, she drapes it over the top of the project (which, technically, isn't 'hers' anyhow) before she turns away from it and makes her way down the hall to you. "Don't worry, dear, young Henri" -- one of her myriad of grandsons, and compared to 'old Henri', one of her sons (but not young Henri's father) -- "is going to be nearby with one of his bigfolk friends. So I'll be fine, dear. You'll have to let me out, though," she apologizes, patting your hand before preceeding you to the aforementioned gate.
It is only when it is the two of them are alone that Eponine allows the d'Ambreville persona to slip even a fraction and become - just very, very briefly - the girl who was a de Charthagnion and who hung on her grande-mere's every word as though it was received wisdom. So it is that Agathe's well-tuned sniff meets with a wistful smile, rather than pursed lips.
At the halfling's instruction, she nods. "Of course, grande-mere." As the two of them walk to the main gate, she raises a topic that has been on her mind for some time, but for which opportunity to discuss has been scant. Now seems the opportune moment. "I know you have a wide network of contacts." In working herself up to raise the topic, the thumb and forefinger of her right hand work their way around the ring finger of her left hand, kneading an absent circle where a signet ring once proclaimed her identity to the world (or, at least, to that fraction of the world which is into heraldry). Even though they are alone in the middle of her property, she lowers her voice. "I need a place to study, grande-mere - to study the arts that I learned in Absalom, matters in which a wine-maker has no legitimate interest." Another pause, while her ring-finger gets a further massage workout.
"Do you know - would you be able to find - someone who might be interested in having their own work in this field funded? Who would be willing to have a 'silent partner' and manage the day-to-day affairs of an arcane establishment?" Eponine hates the phrase 'magic shop' which, to her mind, brings all the wrong imagery to the mind of a layperson. But ultimately, that is what she is talking of.
She gives a small, slightly lopsided smile: "This is not urgent, but it is something that I would be grateful if you can give some thought to. There is nobody else I can trust to do this discreetly."
Once that conversation is over, Eponine watches Agathe depart with her escort, before making a show of locking up and making secure the gate and the front door. Nobody will come or go through that entrance until she opens it again from the inside in the morning.
Of course, there is another entrance and exit: a concealed crawl-space by the fireplace in her bedroom will take you to and from the Catacombs, via a small room which holds those odds and ends belonging to a personage far less respectable than Eponine d'Ambreville. She nods to herself as she trails her way from the front door to her bedroom, the heels of her resolutely middle-class and even more resolutely impractical shoes clacking on the tiled floor. Even though, to her certain knowledge, the house is locked and as secure as she can make it, she locks the door to her room and pushes the bed against it before removing her shoes and placing them on a stand in her closet. Her dress follows it, along with every bit of jewellery and costume that could possibly be associated with the d'Ambreville persona. That done, she kneels down and operates the hidden mechanism that unlatches the tiny door.
It really is a crawl-space: even slim as she is, her head and shoulders feel constricted as she inches her way through, before standing up once more on the other side, dusting herself off. (Someone with more interest in the symbolism of the unconscious mind than she has would doubtless have a field day writing long, tedious, theses about the significance of pushing yourself through a narrow passage in order to be 'reborn' as someone else on the other side.)
There is a routine to these things: the hair first, because using coal-black dye inevitably stains the rest of her. The silver braids (ugh, why did she ever think that was a good idea?) take the longest time and she mutters with impatience as she works everything into place. That - at last - done, she puts on the rest of her outfit: an unremarkable set of clothing save for the dark black, polished leather handwraps (stitched with a silver thread - which is, she suddenly realises, probably what gave her the idea in the first place for those braids that cause so much annoyance) that protect her knuckles; and the silver-grey, almost ethereal shadowstuff of her elf-made cloak. Fastening its gold brooch with a snap, she absently polishes the wine-dark garnet, removing an imaginary trace of dust.
La Marquise checks herself in the mirror, staring herself down to ensure that all trace of any other person is gone from her facial expression, her pose and her mannerisms. Only then does she open the other door that leads from this room down into the Catacombs. Closing it behind her, she savours the change in the air: gone is the smell of Le Manoir: tidy, middle-class fussiness combined with the merest traces of musty yeast and grapes fermenting into wine. The air of the Catacombs is brutally honest, real, dank. No place for respectable persons.
Thankfully, that is not a description that could be applied to her for the time being.
There is only one last task: from a pocket in her breeches, La Marquise withdraws a set of handwritten cards, all of them blank on one side. On the other side is written the name of one of Isarn's many districts; or at least, all of those which can be accessed from the Catacombs. She briefly shuffles the cards together with the blank faces towards her, before drawing one from amid them. Turning it round to to read it will give her destination for tonight's work.
Agathe totters along, the old halfling's hand firmly gripping the knobby wooden cane she needs to walk as she listens to Eponine's request. "Well," she muses, "I don't know of anybody just offhand, but give me a few weeks, and I'm sure I can find somebody for you." The grand-dame gives you a smile, and concedes, "Finding someone you can trust is more and more difficult as the days go on, but we'll ... ask around." She gives you a pat on the hand, then waits as you unbolt and open the gate, revealing young Henri and a tallfolk male coming down the street. "It is good you're thinking of the future, though. Not everybody does. Good night, chère."
My suggestion? Spend some of Eponine's spare cash for a harrow deck. These have 54 cards, information about each of which you can find here. There just so happen to officially be 50 Quarters to Isarn. (See halfway down the Districts page for a cute lil' graphic.) Add 1 for La Rouille, add 2 for the Catacombs (one for each side of the river), and add 1 for pure chance, (i.e. 'just wander') and you have 54.
For now, I suggest just tossing 1d54, and if it's above 50 go for one of the above as appropriate. Otherwise, 1d9 for the district, then roll whatever sized die is appropriate for the number of Quarters in the District. As things go along, however, we'll want the cards to be associated to the quarters/areas -- which is something we'll probably all have to do a little work on together.
Easiest way to pull a card is to roll 1d6 for the attribute, 1d3 for Law/Neutral/Chaos, and 1d3 for Good/Neutral/Evil. So a 2 - 3 - 1 would be Dexterity, Chaotic Good, or [b]The Juggler, which 'represents destiny, deities, and those who play with the fates of others.'
The next part will be somewhat more difficult -- deciding which district matches which card. That, however, I'm opening up to the rest of the players for some help.
Once you have that decided, though, you'll need to dive into the Game Information of the 'Les Catacombes' page.
First, determine what kind of path you're going to take to get to your destination: Public (where you don't mind people seeing you), Illicit (where you maybe break a few laws, trespass significantly on other people's territory), or Discreet (where you go out of your way to avoid contact). That gives you your base DC (10 / 20 / 30). Then, since you know where you're going (by the draw above), decide what kind of exit you're seeking -- Public, logical, unusual, or obscure. Again, this is about how difficult it is to find -- everyone knows about a public entrance, a logical entrance is one that you could 'find because it makes sense', etc. This can increase your DC by up to +15. Your starting point also impacts this, but fortunately, your own secret entrance is always considered Public for you, so that's a +0.
Finally, you need to determine how far you're going (using a point in or near your target area as a baseline to look up the distance on the Distance table found in the Discussions page header -- not sure if the new places are in there), and whether you're crossing under the river; these also add to the DC.
Once you have the DC figured out, roll your KS: Engineering. Success means you get there in (3 miles/hour times by your route choice's speed multiplier); success by +5 increases your speed as stated. Failure means you get lost!!
Eponine gives a sad smile as she squeezes Agathe's shoulder in farewell. "My father taught me the importance of that... by not doing it. It's all very well talking of a better future, but all the ideas in the world mean nothing if you don't have a plan for tomorrow."
"Good-night, grande-mere. Have a safe weekend."
Pick a card: 1d54 ⇒ 23 OK, not above 50 so...
District: 1d9 ⇒ 4 Sud Riviere
East, West: 1d2 ⇒ 1 Est
Quarter: 1d4 ⇒ 2
La Marquise looks with interest at the card produced: Q2 of Sud-Riviere (Est): site of Cayden's Home, the orphanage that produces so many of the city's pickpockets while doing its best to house and care for many who would otherwise be crushed under the persistent violence of the Revolution.
Perhaps that is why it is associated with Le Jongleur, the Juggler.
Only 49 more to go...
Now, she just needs to get there in a timely fashion. Fortunately it is a part of the city she knows reasonably well since it is in close proximity to the Wine Quarter and to where Le Convoi is based.
Knowledge engineering: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (13) + 16 = 29
Note, however, that Brewer Street is the entire road is W6 indicates, from end to end; W8 is currently more-or-less on it, just away from the east side that might be considered 'more' the Caydogs' territory, as W1 (Maison Delon) does push back against them to some extent. However, being anywhere in Sud Riviere or the Wine District means you're in Caydogs territory.
Re: Navigating the Catacombs: at least for now, you need to write out the entire process, because without it, I don't know your movement goals. Are you trying to do the entire thing along well-known and -traveled (Public) routes? Or tunnels that only the dangerous and criminal would venture down (Illicit)? Are you going out of your way to wait, to not be seen, stealing down difficult passages or moving only when nobody's around (Discreet)?
With vigilante in mind, I'll presume Illicit, for the base DC of 20.
Next, while your own starting point is a Secret entrance into the Catacombs, it's your secret entrance, and so considered 'Public' for you. Are you trying to leave through a known Public entrance to the Catacombs? A Logical one (pump-house, sewer entrance, sink-hole gap)? An Unusual one (narrow but navigable storm drain, bath-house entrance)? An Obscure one?
Most vigilantes do not want to be seen, so Public is out, but La Marquise does not seem to want to be especially odd, so we'll go with Logical (+5 DC), and I'll allow Unusual if you make it by 5.
Now, let's see. You're going into SRE #2 from W8 ... SRE #2 is just beyond W7, and the W2-W7 distance is a bit more than the W8-W7 distance, so we'll use that as a rough distance. Hitting up the Distances link, and putting in W2 and W7, we find the straight-line distance is 1.18 miles, which adds a +1 to your DC, for a total of (20 + 5 + 1) = 26.
Your 29 makes that handily, but doesn't hit the 31 you'd need for that Unusual exit.
Now for 'range' -- for Logical, that's 2d6 x 250'. We'll also do a directional roll -- 1 always being North, and always rotating clockwise (eastward).
2d6 ⇒ (3, 1) = 4 x 250' = 1000'
1d8 ⇒ 4
So you'll actually emerge from the Catacombs a thousand feet to the south-east -- probably somewhat near Moulin Bleu (W7), in fact, which is about where I'm going to put you. ;)
There are tunnels into which the average catacomb-crawler never go, passages they shy away from -- ones which have a stench that is just wrong, or from which screams echo, or which simply have a bad reputation. For obvious reasons, such dangerous tunnels have dangerous denizens who are willing to risk them, or in some cases stalk them, but a predator knows the sense of a predator. It is these passages through which La Marquise moves, bland grey cloak serving to mottle the shadows, blur the outline, confuse the eye for just long enough for her to move past unmolested and, often, unremarked-upon -- though not often utterly unseen. The wolf knows the bear, after all, and is wise enough to not fvck with it ...
Emerging from a sewer access shaft into the middle of an alley, La Marquise takes a moment to orient herself. The surprisingly loud and characteristic music of the infamous Moulin Bleu serves as both attraction and advertising, which must work because after two decades of operation, it makes enough money to remain both in operation and free of outside influence, especially that of the Caydogs and the Court of Bees, and that has to cost a pretty penny. For you, however, it is serving as orientation, establishing you as being just outside your target district.
Sorry! Still here, got taken over by events
La Marquise shakes off a momentary annoyance at not emerging precisely where she envisaged herself. Keeping to the shadows, the hood of her cloak still up, she moves towards her destination.
With the time she has spent doing this, she has developed the ability to see in the dark; she therefore does not need the light flaring from the open windows of the Moulin Bleu, or the occasional guttering torch, in order to mark her path. She much prefers the shadows. Silent and unseen, she can bide her time and strike when the opportunity is best. Even those she helps rarely catch more than a fleeting glimpse of her retreating form.
What she does is a risk, yes. But it is a calculated risk. And who better than she, with her highly-trained mind, to calculate these risks?
Keeping to the side-streets, even when this occasionally requires her to adopt an indirect approach, she moves back towards her target district. Her knowledge of the city above-ground prevents her from going too far astray. Usually.
Stealth: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (19) + 15 = 34
Knowledge local: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (10) + 16 = 26
Now, let's see ... 26 ...
Time on your side: 1d4 ⇒ 2
Bad to Good: 1d100 ⇒ 2
Oh boy. Check your PMs.
Keeping out of the public eye is not child's play for you, but tonight you seem to be especially on point. Noticing someone turning your way, a long step moves you behind them and out of their view, and in another step, before they can turn back, you are past them and into the alley beyond. A rattle of someone undoing the latch on their shutters, and you scale the wall and ascend to the roof before the faded red panels swing wide. You pause to listen to a domestic argument that sounds like it might be turning violent, but the man swears, throws up his hands, turns and stalks to the window under which you are listening to give himself space to cool down, and you are already gone.
Night has fallen, the bells of the third quarter-hour of nine bells are a recent memory ... and a scream rises above an alley. It takes you a minute to figure out from where it's coming, but for that agonizing minute the screams do not dwindle; if anything, they become more shrill, more panicked, transforming swiftly from the screams of a person towards those mindless, agonized ones of a tortured animal.
Thought without action is mere sentiment; action without thought is pure folly. It is a favourite quote of her father's, although with her mind racing and raging in equal measure, La Marquise can't immediately recall to which philosopher it is attributed. Jean-Baptiste Serousau, most likely.
Although to an observer it may look as though she is standing idly still, that is far from the case: even as her emotions are cut to the quick and flayed raw as she desperately works to pinpoint the source of the mindless agonised screams, La Marquise's rational mind is making best use of the time. A single word and gesture, and beneath her elven cloak she is suddenly attired in the breastplate of an officer of the watch; another word, and (at least, to those with eyes to see it) eddies of magic swirl around her feet, hastening her footsteps so that when the time comes to move she will do so with all celerity. Another protective ward wraps itself around her form, shielding her from whatever violence is to come.
Violent thought forms an icy core of certainty in her mind: this is not mere drunken oafishness, to be dispersed with a few threats and a show of force. Whoever - or whatever - is making another human being give voice to such cries has forsaken any claim to gentle treatment. Tonight, for the first time in longer than she can immediately remember, she will be using le coup fatal; the killing blow.
Once she has located the direction, she moves with extreme speed and lethal determination.
Spending 1 point from my Arcane Reservoir to use the Armoured Mask arcanist exploit: gives +4 AC (5 hour duration)
Casting Expeditious Retreat: +30 ft movement speed (5 minute duration)
Casting Shield: +4 AC, stacks with Armoured Mask (5 minute duration)
Current AC 20, Speed 60 ft
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (7) + 8 = 15
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Hm. Noticed: as with Estelle, you are notably lacking in Climb -- and in your case, Acrobatics as well. As both of these are extremely useful in moving around in the city, and as they are both class skills for Vigilante, a one-point investment will get you an Attribute + 4 bonus right off the bat. You are allowed and encouraged to find a couple points you can put into those; see the post on the Discussion page. ;)
Hrm. I think I will presume that I erred earlier in describing you going vertical a lot and that you've mostly been moving around at street level, and/or are at street level now. ;)
It takes precious moments trying to figure out from whence those mindless shrieks come; the concealed La Marquise uses those uncertain moments to boost her defenses and speed, then starting to move in the general direction of where she thinks the origin of the sound is. Moving locations apparently helps, because she streaks across the yards-wide street and into an alley composed primarily of stairs ascending to the higher terrain of the next street over but which has, next to and behind the wide run of stairs, a more typical cobblestoned cul-de-sac.
It is deep inside this dark, dank, and fetid alley that the night-adapted vigilante finally spots a barrel-torso'd man -- human, maybe half-orc -- with his pants down about his knees, stretched out on top of and thrusting against -- into?? -- the source of the shrieking. Small fists beat at his shoulders and head, slim legs have been forced aside, a shift such as is worn by poor children from two to ten or even older has been torn off and discarded in the muck.
La Marquise Init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13
Thug Init: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (12) - 1 = 11
Thug: HP: 9, AC 9 (FF); F +3, R +0, W -1; Dagger +3 (1d4+2)
You have a surprise action, plus your first round. I sort of expect him to be at negative HP before he gets to act ... ;)
Even allowing for just how far Isarn has fallen from its former glory, the scene confronting La Marquise is among the worst she has seen since her return to the city. The child's screams ring in her ear even as the taste of bile tugs at her throat; but everything is drowned out by the clean, almost pure surge of adrenaline that propels her forward. The thug is dead almost before he is aware of her presence stepping out of the shadows: the black leather of the handwrap cushions her right hand as the fist slams with lethal force into the base of his skull, shattering bone and bursting blood vessels. As he falls, choking, gasping his last, he drops away from her next blow; but her left hand connects firmly, breaking his neck with a single, sharp twist.
The world is momentarily a better place - and then she looks down at the thug's victim.
La Marquise has a single, iron-clad rule which she developed after the complications (albeit extremely pleasing complications) that arose after she rescued Evangelique, the pretty young lawyer: she will intervene, and then she will leave. No interaction, no conversation (not even to accept grateful thanks), just get away with a minimum of fuss.
For an instant, as her eyes meet those of the victim on the ground, she contemplates that rule. It exists for a reason. It means that she can do what she does and get away to do it again. There are other people to be helped on other nights such as this one. Sometimes you just have to accept and remember that the world is bigger than one person.
And sometimes, you have to accept and remember that rules are made to be broken.
Barely hesitating, she drops down to her knees alongside them, pulling out some clothing from her pack as she does so (when you regularly travel the Catacombs and sewers, one or more extra sets of clothing is non-optional). She offers them to the young victim, putting into her voice every soothing effort, every calming tone, she has ever had cause to rely on in her experience of dealing with people.
"It's over now. He'll never hurt you again. Please, let me help you."
Surprise round: standard action, attack
Unarmed Strike, +1 attuned Handwrap: 1d20 + 5 + 2 + 2 + 1 - 2 ⇒ (17) + 5 + 2 + 2 + 1 - 2 = 25
(BAB, Dex, Arcane Strike, Attunement, Power Attack)
Damage: 1d3 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 2 = 14
(Str, Arcane Strike, Attunement, Power Attack, Fist of the Avenger)
Full round action: two-weapon attack
Unarmed Strike, +1 attuned Handwrap: 1d20 + 5 + 2 + 2 + 1 - 2 - 2 ⇒ (2) + 5 + 2 + 2 + 1 - 2 - 2 = 8
(BAB, Dex, Arcane Strike, Attunement, Power Attack, TWF)
Damage: 1d3 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 2 = 12
(Str, Arcane Strike, Attunement, Power Attack, Fist of the Avenger)
Unarmed Strike, off-hand attack: 1d20 + 5 + 2 + 2 - 2 - 2 ⇒ (9) + 5 + 2 + 2 - 2 - 2 = 14
(BAB, Dex, Arcane Strike, Power Attack, TWF)
Damage: 1d3 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 1 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 9
(Str, Arcane Strike, Power Attack, Fist of the Avenger)
That puts him at minus 14 hit points which should be enough to kill him outright
Diplomacy with victim: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (11) + 18 = 29