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ZONE - Artorius ((Chasing Shadows - Epilogue))


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#1 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 03:57 PM

As the Lady Amalia was steered into port, the group of Templars, Venatori, Inquisitors, and lone wolves after the Umbra Coven eagerly gathered to disembark. Captain Ritter seemed relieved by their arrival as well... and those who knew the truth could only guess that it was due, at least in part, to Kye.

 

The gangplank was set down to the docks, and Captain Ritter descended from the quarterdeck to speak to them all one last time. She wore her feathered tricorn hat and her characteristic, charming smile as she stepped out in front of the group.

 

"It has been a pleasure traveling with you all, friends," said Jane. "May the gods grant you success in your mission and safety in your travels. I'll be docked here for a few more days for repairs and resupply, so if any of you need anything, feel free to drop by and see me. You may even catch me in a dockside tavern now and again," she added with a mischevious grin.

 

After bidding farewell to Jane Ritter and her crew, the group disembarked. They hardly stopped for a moment in the docks, quickly moving through them - others on horseback, others following on foot - and up into the city proper. Although they left behind them the smell of fishmonger stalls and the sound of the sea, they could smell the brine in the air and hear the calling of sea birds well into the city.

 

Leaving such sounds and scents behind was surely a relief to a few of the less oceanic members of the group, and leave them behind they did as they stepped instead into a bustling city of cobblestone streets and buildings both short and tall. Artorius looked to be a thriving place, despite not bearing the age of so many old Achaean cities they had visited back in the mainland. While it certainly held no candle to the grandeur and culture of Templaria, a shining jewel of the Empire, Artorius certainly held its place among the larger cities in the Empire.

 

It also seemed to be a very good port of trade, as - looking around - one could see men and women from many different lands. There were Imperials from Deltalund, Illikon, and even as far south as Templaria or, still more impressive, Justantion. On the other hand, there were also many Nordlings, such as Vikings clad in attire so apparently Northern that they held no fear about how an Achaean would regard them. And, perhaps, the Achaeans here did indeed regard them differently, as quite a few Imperials and proud Nordlings from local tribes and seafaring Nordlings from afar seemed to enjoy each other's company as they passed them by in the streets. The more observant members of the group noticed that the majority of these Vikings displayed - whether on their shields on their backs or through some other means, be it a banner hanging from their belt, pendant, or tabard - an image of a boar over a sword, the emblem of Baldur's Fjord.

 

They did not stop moving until they reached a large inn called the Gutted Gorgon, near the center of the city, with a large hanging sign depicting a fat monster with its tongue hanging out, looking gluttonous and lazy. Kye sneered a bit at the sign, though Plexaura chuckled in amusement.

 

"Inns and their names," she commented as they entered.

 

The Gutted Gorgon was certainly sizable enough for everyone, and the innkeeper even made special arrangements to make sure the group had a large enough table to seat each of them individually - or, at least, enough of them as were visible, depending upon if Percula or Rosette had decided to ride along with another group member.

 

Once everyone was seated and had their drinks - courtesy of Stevan, who paid for them all - Caiden glanced over their faces one by one before he began to speak, making sure to keep his voice reasonably low. Everyone present could still hear it, but it was clear he did not want to draw undue attention.

 

"Remember," Caiden said, apparently planning to be as laconic as ever, "we're here to find that tome. It was written by Faustus Livius, and it should be a thick book bound in black leather. It's masquerading as a history book about the rule of Mage-Emperor Ildrius, but the Hidden put some kind of code inside it. We have to find it before any Coven - or Hidden, as we can't rule out their presence - agents do."

 

"We don't know what the hidden message says," Plexaura added, "but we do know that if the Hidden get their hands on it first, whether they're working with the Umbra Coven or not, then our plans are sunk. We need that book to draw them out. Given the importance of this mission, there's no doubt at least one of the Hidden agents coming after the tome here will be part of the Coven. Our goal is to draw them out of hiding and capture them."

 

"It's ambitious," Stevan commented. "But first, we just need to focus on finding that tome. It was recently shipped to Castle Lion, the royals' castle here in Artorius. Who ordered it and where it'll be inside, I don't know. But when we find it, we either have to find a way to get it out of the castle, or put it under heavy enough guard until we can all regroup and try to break the cipher inside. In other words: no stealing the book after you've found it. We do this the right way, or we could make a lot more enemies than we need... not to mention getting our orders in trouble."

 

Kye hesitantly lifted his clawed left hand.

 

Stevan gave him a look. "What is it, Kye?"

 

The demon-kin paused a moment before asking simply, "How do we know the Hidden haven't already gotten the book - or that the same book was copied by someone else and they already broke the code and got whatever message it was supposed to send?"

 

"We don't," Caiden replied flatly. "If they have, we'll find that out when we look for the book. We'll handle this as it comes."

 

"So if it leads to some kind of crazy magical superweapon, they could already have it."

 

"Optimism, please," Stevan said with a sigh.

 

Kye arched a brow. "What's that mean?"

 

Stevan and Plexaura exchanged a look, and Caiden drummed his fingers on the table.

 

"It means not being defeatist," Stevan clarified. "Trying to assume the best. Being hopeful."

 

Kye just shrugged a little, absently scratching strange symbols into the table in front of him with his metal claws.

 

"Okay..." Plexaura went on, "so, I've been to Artorius before on another mission. A few points about this place: first of all, they aren't huge on people from deeper within the Empire, and they're very unhappy when the big Imperial orders - such as, I don't know, the Templars, Venatori, and Inquisition - try to come snooping around in their business. This place is, overall, pretty independent, and the Artorians like their distance from the Empire proper. If we go around pushing our authority, we might not be met with very good results from the locals or the royals. We need to be diplomatic.

 

"Heading to the castle might be a good starting point, but just as a suggestion, it might not hurt if some of us tried to get a little bit of credit around the city. Go around town, talk to locals, help people with problems according to our various orders - basically show people that we're here to help, not just push everyone around. Doing that could get us a better reception with the rulers as well as the civilians. Word travels fast in Artorius."

 

"It also might not be a bad idea to get familiar with local rumors, if we can," Stevan added. "If there are any murmurs of strange activity, it may even lead us to a Hidden presence in the area."

 

"Tread carefully," Caiden warned. "If the Hidden catch wind of a bunch of Inquisitors and Templars asking around about 'rumors,' they'll do what they do best: hide."

 

"Last but not least," said Stevan, "we can't just tell the castle officials about the tome. We don't know who might be a spy. The only person I'd trust to share our mission with is King Rikard himself, or other members of his family. Telling workers around the castle could lead to disaster. Even if the person we tell isn't a spy, that won't stop them from spreading the word around and the spy catching wind of it."

 

Kye frowned. "Wow. You guys just made all this sound really hard," he commented simply.

 

"Optimism," Stevan reminded gently.

 

"Enough talk," Caiden said, leaning back in his seat - though he cringed at something when he did, hesitating a moment before he straightened again, tall and impressive as always. "We should get moving. When we find the tome, we should meet up here. I've reserved us all rooms; this is where we'll be spending our nights, and this is our rendezvous point for sharing information."

 

"So," Plexaura said eagerly, "where should we start?"

 

 

Primary Objectives:

  • Go to Castle Lion and investigate the potential whereabouts of the tome
  • Either recover the tome and bring it back to the Gutted Gorgon, or (if no other alternative) gain permission for everyone in the group to access the tome

Secondary Objectives:

  • Make a good reputation for yourself and other members of the group by getting to know locals and helping with local problems (Artorians can be wary of outsiders, particularly big, pushy Imperial orders)
  • Search for any potential Hidden presence in the area

 

((Welcome to Chapter II of Chasing Shadows. Please note that this zone topic for Artorius is made exclusively for this campaign; whenever anyone goes to Artorius in the future, a new, clean zone will be created for freeroaming. This one, however, is going to be very specific to this campaign.

 

For further details on Chasing Shadows and its progress, as well as potential changes to its outline, please read this post in the OOC thread.

 

You are now all open to roam free in Artorius. I suggest splitting up in small groups, but you can go individually as well, if you prefer. Note that NPCs are also available to accompany you, should you ask (not that Percula will probably have to ask). Despite how long it has taken, this is the meat of the campaign. There is much to discover as you explore and interact with those in Artorius, as well as the NPCs already accompanying you. Go wild! I'll be updating as often as necessary, but my posts may be somewhat less frequent and/or at least less robust, as I'm very busy with this semester and I'll only get busier as things progress.))


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#2 Lord_Klaus

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 01:47 PM

The remaining leg of the voyage after Kye’s inquisition and revelation was tense, but no more than anticipated.  Gods knew what Marcus would do to protect the group if someone in their group had been revealed as a mage of some kind.  The Templars would learn, just as he had, what Kye was capable of and how worthy he was of trust.  And if they somehow managed to be right, well, Marcus was no stranger to betrayal.  He knew how to deal with “friends” under false colors.  Still, Kye had never failed him before, and if even a child of the gods could trust him, surely Marcus’ hope was not misplaced.

 

Upon arrival in Artorius, the veteran Inquisitor took a deep, relieved draught of the air, shouldering his belongings with the vigor of a man with new purpose.  It was time for the real work to begin.  After thanking the sailors who helped him unload his steed, Naimah, and Captain Ritter for her hospitality, he followed his companions to wherever they planned to settle in.

 

Smirking silently at Plexaura’s remarks on the name of their new base, Marcus took care to have his horse stabled properly before joining the others at the table.  He wordlessly sat next to Neitha and gently wrapped his gauntleted hand around hers as some of the others laid out their plans.

 

Suffice to say, the odds were currently against them.  There was no guarantee their foes had not already found the tome they both sought, or that their search would be discovered, sending the Coven and the Hidden to ground.  Worse still, Plexaura informed them of the Artorians’ love of independence from the Empire, a concept that shocked Marcus’ fiercely patriotic heart.  Still, he was not so naive as to think every citizen felt as he did, and made a mental note to stay as diplomatic as possible.  

 

"So," Plexaura said eagerly, "where should we start?"

Raising his free hand for attention, Marcus declared in a hushed tone, “As much as I hate relying on ruses, I think we might need some sort of cover story for why we seek this specific tome.  It was an original Faustus work, on the reign of the accursed Mage-Emperor, correct? Perhaps Plexaura and I could mask this search as some sort of research effort, delving into older, outside sources on the history of our order?  It could require sorting through a great many books if their library is sizable enough, but we’d probably be doing that anyway, and perhaps it’d be less suspicious than asking for just one in particular.”


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#3 Dalton Kringle

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 05:15 PM

Charon felt disgusted as he left the Lady Amalia.

 

And it was not because, once again, he had thrown up over the side of the ship, just as they were coming in to dock. It was because the creature, the Demon-kin, had been found and slain.

 

The Mage felt cold shivers whenever he recalled what had happened to the half-breed, and wondered what would happen if anyone discovered his secret. What he truly was...

 

At the Gutted Gorgon, the Weeping Mage listened to the conversation, secretly gathering information as he did so.

 

So, they were looking for a book about the reign of the Mage Emperor Ildrius. Charon was getting tired about hearing about insane mages who destroyed all in their paths: the world seemed to deny the existence of any good mages at all, if there were any magic-users in the world. If the Inquisition had their way, there wouldn't be. Not for long anyway.

 

Then, Marcus Capulet, one of the Inquisitors, spoke up: As much as I hate relying on ruses, I think we might need some sort of cover story for why we seek this specific tome.  It was an original Faustus work, on the reign of the accursed Mage-Emperor, correct? Perhaps Plexaura and I could mask this search as some sort of research effort, delving into older, outside sources on the history of our order?  It could require sorting through a great many books if their library is sizable enough, but we’d probably be doing that anyway, and perhaps it’d be less suspicious than asking for just one in particular.”

 

"Maybe," the Weeping Mage commented "but I doubt that either you or Plexura should be the ones doing the research. The Inquisition has a bad habit of making books with any mention of magic disappear from Libraries, and if this book is really as valuable as you say it is, the people guarding it won't let you get within five miles of it."

 

---

 

Katrina was lost in thought as the others argued and discussed what they should do about this book they were so frantic to find.

 

She couldn't help thinking about her conversation with the Elf, Perky...

 

---

 

Both Perky and Katrina were in an empty corner of the ship's hold. Nobody had followed them, and nobody was nearby, as they were too caught up in the Templar's search of Kye or any other demons.

 

Katrina let out a breath and said "Look, earlier, when we were fighting that...thing, I... saw what Kye can do: I know he's a Demon, or a Demon-kin."

 

Before the Elf could object, the Archer continued hurriedly "...And before you say anything, I know that doesn't make him a monster or anything. Heck, I've fought side by side with a group of mercenaries led by a Demon-kin: he called himself Avarice. He reminds me of Kye, because both of them won't let their natures control them."

 

Katrina continued talked, a cold fire burning in her eyes "I've been traveling long enough to know not to judge a book by its cover, and I can tell that Kye is a good person, and I won't help the Templars imprison or kill him, and that's damn certain!"



#4 Lord_Klaus

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 02:04 PM

"Maybe, but I doubt that either you or Plexura should be the ones doing the research. The Inquisition has a bad habit of making books with any mention of magic disappear from Libraries, and if this book is really as valuable as you say it is, the people guarding it won't let you get within five miles of it."

 

Marcus released Neitha’s hand, patting it as he slowly rose from his seat to glare indignantly at the mercenary.  “Charles, was it? No, Carlon, that’s right.  If you’re confusing legal confiscation of highly dangerous spellbooks for petty theft, you have a lot of nerve to voice such falsehoods in front of Imperial agents.”  

 

The hands with which he leaned on the table tightened into fists as he bristled quietly but seriously, “We don’t need to hush any mention of magic, as you claim so baselessly.  People can see evidence of the Condition’s dangers for themselves in the Scar, the Wastes, the burned-out husks of hundreds of villages, or the evil machinations of the Hidden, some of whom are among our current enemies, if I must remind you.  I suggest you take care, sir, lest you find your sympathies in the wrong place.”

 

After taking a breath and tamping down his rising vexation, Marcus retracted, “However, if you have reasonable doubts about the subtlety that we Inquisitors can maintain, then I am open to suggestions.”  Though not from some amateur who honestly thought silver would make good armor, he thought to himself as he looked at the others, hoping they would have more educated input than Carlon’s.  Defending a half-demon who had done no wrong was one thing, but Marcus would not tolerate questioning the honor of the Inquisition.  Whoever this fool Carlon thought he was, the Inquisitor never dreamed mage-sympathiser would be one of the titles.  The very idea seemed ludicrous, was he reading too much into the man’s uninformed response?  Possibly, but he could not rule it out now.  

 

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#5 Burger Warrior

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 03:15 PM

Katrina let out a breath and spoke. "Look, earlier, when we were fighting that...thing, I... saw what Kye can do: I know he's a demon, or a demon-kin."

 

Percula sighed. “Demon-kin.” She corrected quickly. “Veeeery-”

 

The archer cut her off. "...And before you say anything, I know that doesn't make him a monster or anything. Heck, I've fought side by side with a group of mercenaries led by a Demon-kin: he called himself Avarice. He reminds me of Kye, because both of them won't let their natures control them."

 

Buuut he calls himself that? Saffron found herself thinking, but she didn’t interrupt. At least Kye had a… a name.

 

Katrina continued talked, a cold fire burning in her eyes "I've been traveling long enough to know not to judge a book by its cover, and I can tell that Kye is a good person, and I won't help the Templars imprison or kill him, and that's damn certain!"

 

Percula blinked. For not knowing Kye very well at all, she was awfully trusting of demon-people. Who, sure, were pretty good as far as Kye went, Saffron knew, but the other humans didn’t like demons for reasons the pixie was slowly learning after her first, naive encounter with Kye. She’d have to tell Caiden at some point that Katrina maybe was a little too trusting…

 

“Well, it’s nice to know he has another friend.” She grinned, patting Katrina on the back as she leaned close. “Just don’t trust other demon-kin too easily, y’know? Considering we might just be fighting some in the near future, and all?” Perky suggested somewhat teasingly. She could hardly help herself.

 

-----

 

When they were on Artorius, Percula stayed only a short distance from Caiden the whole time. There never felt like time to shrink, and experiencing a human city for the first time at a more ‘normal’ size was more than interesting enough to keep her from simply riding her lover around. She did wish she could ride on his horse along with him without gathering a great deal of unwanted attention. It seemed she and her sister were being introduced to more and more members of the party, but a number were still unaware to their presence. Or at least, weren’t formally introduced…

 

Saffron debated on whether she ought to change that or not. Maybe she would discuss it with Rosette, first.

 

In any case, Caid’s sudden habit of trying to avoid everyone had Percula fairly considered, especially considering his… ah, condition. Thus staying close was probably difficult, but the ‘elf’ managed, even getting a seat beside him as they all settled down with drinks in a surprisingly large inn. Saffron’s attention strayed often - if subtly - as she took in the structure and people around her. Her own hood was down, allowing everyone to take in her elf-like features in turn.

 

Marcus made a suggestion - for the Inquisitors of the group, anyway - to get at the book by pretending they were looking for information about their order’s origins. Carlon quickly tried to shoot down his idea, causing Perky to raise a slight eyebrow.

 

"Maybe," he commented, "but I doubt that either you or Plexura should be the ones doing the research. The Inquisition has a bad habit of making books with any mention of magic disappear from Libraries, and if this book is really as valuable as you say it is, the people guarding it won't let you get within five miles of it."

 

The look on the Inquisitor’s face when he heard that made Percula snicker, though she tried to keep it quiet.

 

The following conversation was far more serious than funny, though, and the pixie quickly stopped as she tried to think of what she could possible add. Or do, anyway. Glancing around in some hope of finding inspiration, Percula finally sighed and glanced at Caiden, shifting slightly in her seat and deciding to ask him a question.

 

“Heeey, could you help me get my own cape?” Saffron whispered. “Not looking like a Venator miight help me squeeze some information out of people,” she explained. “...I prooomise I won’t freeze anyone solid.” The pixie added, mostly jokingly.

 

She considered rephrasing the question to everyone around, but that would probably raise questions about why she lacked Imperial currency and why she didn’t just remove her cloak. An odd itching feeling spread along her wings at the thought of discovery by someone who maybe wasn’t too friendly when it came to pixies...

 

-----

 

Rosette had had a difficult time following the others without getting spotted, but at some point between the end of the Templar’s inquisition and the party leaving the Lady Amalia, she managed to sneak aboard Kye and take cover in one of his belt pouches, peeking out every now and then to see what was going on. Thus she got some fleeting views of Artorius before they all entered the Glutted Gorgon, and from there she managed some glimpses around and at the rest of the crew before Kye took a seat.

 

Feeling some second-hand embarrassment for Kye as the briefing went on, and now finally hearing the party’s mission, the pixie considered how she might help… besides maybe helping Kye get around and stay disguised, if the Templars allowed him out of their sight. At least they didn’t go straight to gutting him. Saffron thought, relaxing in her small ‘room’. That had been more than a little relieving when she heard the verdict. The idea of him being locked away by Templars wasn’t all that great of an improvement, though, and Rosette wondered if she and Perky could run a little… interference.

 

She was pretty sure Percula wouldn’t be averse to something like that.

 

But for now, Rosette tried to focus on the present situation, keeping an ear on the conversation and reviewing who she could safely approach with ideas… once some actually came to her besides blatantly asking around for information. Not being able to do so certainly threw the pixie off, considering that’s how she gained nearly all of her knowledge. This is gonna be hard...


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#6 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 02:39 PM

Stevan and Plexaura exchanged glances as things became a bit heated, and Kye arched a brow.

 

"You know that when those books 'disappear' they're actually put in another library, right?" Plexaura sniped dryly. "It's just one protected from crazy cultists like, say, the Hidden we're hunting down because they know they can access this book... And Imperial officials can still access those books with proper clearance."

 

"Not that you're an Imperial official..." Kye added thoughtfully, looking Charon - a bearded, robed man with the bad attitude - over again with apparent suspicion. That made a bout of silence fall upon the table, after which Kye looked around at everyone and shrugged innocently. "I'm just saying," he muttered, leaning back in his seat and fidgeting.

 

Caiden, on the other hand, remained silent and thoughtful - though his thoughts seemed to be elsewhere, not about the bickering at hand - until Percula whispered to him.

 

“Heeey, could you help me get my own cape?” Saffron whispered. “Not looking like a Venator miight help me squeeze some information out of people,” she explained. “...I prooomise I won’t freeze anyone solid.” The pixie added, mostly jokingly.

 

"Please don't," Caiden replied in a whisper, though she saw that hint of a smile on one side of his mouth. "I'll help you get one. Then you can leave mine in my room, if you want. That we we won't look like Venatori," he added pointedly, and perhaps a bit teasingly.


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#7 Dalton Kringle

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Posted 04 September 2016 - 02:07 PM

Charles, was it? No, Carlon, that’s right.  If you’re confusing legal confiscation of highly dangerous spellbooks for petty theft, you have a lot of nerve to voice such falsehoods in front of Imperial agents. We don’t need to hush any mention of magic, as you claim so baselessly.  People can see evidence of the Condition’s dangers for themselves in the Scar, the Wastes, the burned-out husks of hundreds of villages, or the evil machinations of the Hidden, some of whom are among our current enemies, if I must remind you.  I suggest you take care, sir, lest you find your sympathies in the wrong place. However, if you have reasonable doubts about the subtlety that we Inquisitors can maintain, then I am open to suggestions.”

 

"You know that when those books 'disappear' they're actually put in another library, right?" Plexaura sniped dryly. "It's just one protected from crazy cultists like, say, the Hidden we're hunting down because they know they can access this book... And Imperial officials can still access those books with proper clearance."

 

"I'm not criticizing the Inquisition, if that's what you think," Charon said, bristling "I'm saying that it would be the easiest thing in the world for thieves, or the cult themselves, to disguise themselves as Inquisitors and steal the book on the pretense of there being a Cultic Cypher or whatever inside of it-."

 

"Not that you're an Imperial official..."

 

"You do have a point," the Weeping Mage said, his eyes narrowing in anger "I'm not an Imperial official, so how could I know what I'm talking about? In the end, it's your all's opinion that matters, not mine. I'm just a lowly commoner."

 

The Mage stood up and said "I'll be out trawling for information. If I find out anything, I'll report back, M'lord." He then left the Inn in a huff. 

 

On the inside, Charon was not mad at all: he was glad that Marcus had roused his ire, as he needed some reassurance that the mission that he, not the others, were on was a good one.

 

He was looking for information for two reasons now: to further both missions, and possibly to find a contact in this Viking Town...

 

---

 

Well, it’s nice to know he has another friend. Just don’t trust other demon-kin too easily, y’know? Considering we might just be fighting some in the near future, and all?

 

"I know," Katrina grinned "I know a good apple from a bad one when I see one. With Kye and Avarice, it was easier to tell, but with others, it's harder to tell."

 

---

 

Katrina was jerked from her memories by the argument about who should look for the book, the bout of angry words ending with a member of the party storming off.

 

"What was up with that guy?" Katrina said, trying her best to lighten the move "The nerve of him questioning the Inquisition, amiright?"

 

Secretly, she agreed with the stranger. The Inquisition did a lot of good, but what about the times when they had to drag children away from their parents? Mages caused much damage, but nobody deserved that.



#8 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 10:25 AM

"I'm not criticizing the Inquisition, if that's what you think," Charon said, bristling "I'm saying that it would be the easiest thing in the world for thieves, or the cult themselves, to disguise themselves as Inquisitors and steal the book on the pretense of there being a Cultic Cypher or whatever inside of it-."

 

Although Charon allowed himself to be interrupted for other reasons, Plexaura couldn't help but mutter, deadpan, "I guess I had no idea every country blacksmith has a suit of custom-made Inquisition void iron armor..."

 

Stevan gave her a brief glare that was clearly asking her to drop it and try to end the argument.

 

"You do have a point," the Weeping Mage said, his eyes narrowing in anger "I'm not an Imperial official, so how could I know what I'm talking about? In the end, it's your all's opinion that matters, not mine. I'm just a lowly commoner."
 

Kye looked confused and lifted one clawed finger in an attempt to clarify, but Charon was too busy storming out.

 

"I'll be out trawling for information. If I find out anything, I'll report back, M'lord."

 

With that, he was gone. Stevan couldn't help but roll his eyes, Plexaura chuckled, and Kye blinked.

 

"He... didn't even get it," Kye said, scratching his head. "I meant how he's a bearded, angry - robed guy..."

 

"Kind of like the typical image of the people we're hunting?" Plexaura said. Kye shrugged.

 

"People like him are why we usually don't bring outsiders on missions," Caiden muttered, his tone one of grim experience.

 

"Besides, I'm actually a commoner," Stevan commented, and Plexaura and Caiden both nodded in agreement.

 

"What was up with that guy?" Katrina said, trying her best to lighten the move "The nerve of him questioning the Inquisition, amiright?"

No one at the table looked convinced by that bluff. In fact, not in the least. Some of them looked annoyed all over again, while others merely tried to take it in stride.

 

Stevan thought it wise to change the subject, so he said amicably as he rose from his seat, "I'm going to go have a look around the city, see if I can help anyone with anything and maybe pick up some rumors along the way. Anyone who wants to accompany me is free to do so."

 

Plexaura shrugged. "I'm going to follow that weird troublemaker in the robes," she said. "I'll help him out if he needs it, so he'll feel bad for acting stupid. Maybe he'll even realize we're all supposedly on the same side. Plus I don't mind a good argument," she added wryly.

 

"Plex," Caiden said, giving her a look. The one word he spoke was in his very clear 'don't get into trouble' tone. Plexaura just smiled and shrugged innocently as she got to her feet and headed out the door. Stevan left as well.

 

Caiden, however, stayed where he was, waiting for Percula to take point. He did, however, take the time to stare down at the table and lose himself in thought, his face drawn with worry. To the currently disguised pixie by his side, he murmured low under his breath, "It's getting worse."

 

---

 

Meanwhile, Charon had a decent head start on Plexaura, and he remained unaware that anyone was potentially following him. He was too busy staying focused on finding a good place to start looking around in the city. Leaving the Gutted Gorgon, he wandered down the streets, taking in the sights and sounds... until he passed by another, seedier-looking tavern. The sign on this one was so worn he could not make out the name, but it had an image of a severed dragon's head.
 

Emanating from this building was a good deal of unusual music, foreign-sounding - at least, to Charon - and quite a bit of loud, gruff voices, laughing and sounding generally rowdy. Quite a few Achaeans were slipping out the door and passing Charon by as he stood listening to the ruckus from within.

 

After a moment, Charon entered the building, as it seemed an interesting place to start. Inside, he found a good deal of the Vikings he occasionally saw in the streets. They were by no means the majority of the population here, but he had seen one or two, and this looked like quite a gathering of them.

 

Many of them had propped their delicately painted round shields against the walls and set their spectacled helmets down on their tables, though they still carried their axes or swords on their belts, and they were raising tankards high in cheers of something. Charon did not understand their Northrim tongue, but he did pick up what could only be the name of one figure: Odin.

 

As the Vikings drank to Odin's glory, Charon noticed some Imperials were drinking as well, perhaps to be sociable and respectful. Others had already left, and a few were showing respects but clearly planning to slip out before the Nordlings became too lost in their cups. One or two Achaeans were retreating in what looked like outright fear.

 

But the Vikings themselves certainly seemed a jovial lot, and not unwelcoming to strangers... or, at least, most of them - not that any of them were taking particular notice of Charon just yet.


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#9 Burger Warrior

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 01:42 PM

"I know," Katrina grinned "I know a good apple from a bad one when I see one. With Kye and Avarice, it was easier to tell, but with others, it's harder to tell."

 

Percula couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow before shrugging nonchalantly. “If you say so.” She said, still chipper. “Anyway, I’ve got matters to attend to, mortals to stalk… y’know, elf stuff.” Saffron winked, turning away and failing to resist the urge to give her borrowed cloak a slight twirling flourish as she did. “Seeya around!”

 

-----

 

"Please don't," Caiden replied in a whisper, though Percula saw that hint of a smile on one side of his mouth. "I'll help you get one. Then you can leave mine in my room, if you want. Then we won't look like Venatori," he added pointedly, and perhaps a bit teasingly.

 

She pouted back half-playfully. “Aw, not gonna let me out of your sight?” The pixie replied, though now she was just teasing. “Clingy…” She couldn’t help but add with a smirk, leaning against Caiden slightly. Screw it, no monster hunters here don’t know about me. Perky thought as she did so, though she did glance around briefly to see if anyone noticed.

 

And, in the process, watched as Carlon got up with a huff and stormed off, apparently miffed about that disagreement with… most of the people at the table.

 

"People like him are why we usually don't bring outsiders on missions," Caiden muttered, his tone one of grim experience.

 

Saffron frowned at that, one hand almost instinctively rubbing one of his large shoulder blades in an attempt to work some of the tension out. After a moment, another, albeit weaker smirk came to her face. “And people like me are why we sometimes do?” She couldn’t help but tease. Percula’s mirth quickly faded, though, when she noticed he took the time to stare down at the table and lose himself in thought, his face drawn with worry.

 

"It's getting worse."

 

Oh… oh no.

 

Perky bit her lip. “Then… maybe I should get one of the others to help me out.” She suggested quietly. “Walking around and shopping is hardly going to help you…”

 

Not that I want to leave him, but… the sooner we get this book and some more solid information on this cult, the better.

 

-----

 

Rosette frowned as she heard - and managed to watch, briefly - Charon leave the inn. I wish I could trail him, but… that’s just gotten me caught so far. Repeatedly. She reflected, staying put and in cover as the others discussed his decision.

 

"He... didn't even get it," Kye said, and she could hear him scratching his head. "I meant how he's a bearded, angry - robed guy..."

 

"Kind of like the typical image of the people we're hunting?" A woman said. Kye shifted, probably shrugging.

 

The demon-kin may have ended up hearing a good deal of snickering shortly after that exchange coming from his belt. It’d taken her a moment, but the young pixie hiding there realized what he’d been insinuating Charon was. While a tiny part of her tried to remind the rest that that was possible, and dangerous, Rosette couldn’t help but find it - or at least the line of reasoning that Kye had been following - hilarious.

 

-----

 

It had taken quite some time to find any kind of group willing to take Beileag in.

 

And, of course, it’d been a small party of berserkers bound for the island of Artorius. Gutraidh couldn’t say she despised the company - in truth, after days of wandering alone, being surrounded by human beings once again helped bolster her morale a good deal - but the amount of praise offered up to Odin was very nearly disgusting to the fallen berserker. She, of course, hadn’t admitted to her curse, knowing that doing so would probably start a fight, which would end up fatal for someone one way or another. It was dangerous for all of them, but Beileag had to keep it to herself.

 

At least, that’s what she kept telling herself all the way from the mainland to Artorius as rough seas greeted their longship.

 

Fortunately, they’d reached land before the fallen berserker suffered any serious ill effects, and she adjusted her wolf skin as the party made a beeline for the nearest tavern, all quite ready for a long evening of drinking, ‘singing’, and other intoxicated activities. Beileag decided she could use a few tankards of mead, herself, though when they finally got to it she left the singing and praising of Odin for the others. All things considered, Gutraidh and Odin weren’t on particularly good terms anymore.

 

She silently wished the other berserkers luck with their own relationships with him on high, before her attention wandered over the room. Any Achaean customers that had been around when the party of berserkers arrived were now either fleeing or excusing themselves as quickly and politely as possible.

 

Except for one bearded man who squeezed past the others to get inside rather than out.

 

Beileag watched him with interest as the man actively approached the Viking gathering, and she found herself rising from her seat. Either this man was crazy or brave - or maybe a mix of both - and she could use someone like that to keep her company. Maybe even to spill her secret to.

 

Yeah. Right. She thought, slowly approaching the noticeably shorter man. Rising well above six feet in height, Gutraidh was practically built to look intimidating, and the fresh war paint - the berserkers she’d sailed with had been very generous - coating most of her face helped that. Not that it helped her make friends.

 

Assuming Charon didn’t turn and run at the sight of her coming right towards him, Beileag stopped at a respectful distance, taking a brief swig from her tankard along the way. “So ‘n Imperial walks into a bar…” She said dryly, with a rather thick Northern accent. “An’ I smell a desp’rate or very, very brave little man.”

Gutraidh flashed him a surprisingly white smile after a moment. “So which is it, Achaean?” She asked, her tone becoming more jocular.


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#10 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 08:52 PM

She pouted back half-playfully. “Aw, not gonna let me out of your sight?” The pixie replied, though now she was just teasing. “Clingy…” She couldn’t help but add with a smirk, leaning against Caiden slightly.

 

Caiden just looked at her and gave her one of his brief - and incredibly subtle - smiles before he made his comment regarding outsiders.

Saffron frowned at that, one hand almost instinctively rubbing one of his large shoulder blades in an attempt to work some of the tension out. After a moment, another, albeit weaker smirk came to her face. “And people like me are why we sometimes do?” She couldn’t help but tease.

 

"We never intended for you to show up," he teased back with a more noticeable smile, though it faded fast as he lost himself in worry.

Perky bit her lip when he finally did speak again. “Then… maybe I should get one of the others to help me out.” She suggested quietly. “Walking around and shopping is hardly going to help you…”

 

Caiden shook his head. "I can't be useless," he murmured hesitantly. "I'll... take another potion before we go. I'll be fine."

 

The Venator stood. "Go ahead, if you want. I'll meet you outside. I won't be long," he said, wiping most of the worry off his face with remarkable success, though Percula could still tell. Granted, he always looked so serious, it was hard to tell when it was worry or something else. Regardless, he turned and headed for the stairs up to their inn rooms.

 

Kye, meanwhile, was glad Rosette's snickering was muffled enough for no one else to notice. If Katrina wasn't present, he would've had half a mind to just set Rosette on the table and actually talk to her. As it was, he decided it best to talk to her elsewhere... After all, she might've ended up being the only person he went with.

 

If he went anywhere at all. He had half a mind to just sleep, as he was still exhausted from not having the privacy to ever catch some shuteye on the ship. That, and the Templars had lately been watching him like hawks, so his privacy felt even more violated than usual.

 

So he quietly got up from the table, striding off and hoping no one would notice or care about his absence. The moment he ascended the stairs, he stepped into his room, shut and locked the door, and then headed over toward the bed while carefully fishing Rosette out of his belt pouch - with his right hand, of course.

 

Holding her in his hand kept her stable for when he all but collapsed onto the bed, his human disguise having already faded away. His tail twitched like usual, but after stretching them as much as he could, his wings sagged all the way down into the floor on either side of the bed, as if he didn't want to put in the effort of holding them up. Gently, he set Rosette on the covers near his face so he could look at her. He looked exhausted.

 

But he asked, "You wanna go look around at the city?" Then, halfway through a fanged yawn, he added, "Wish you had a better view..."


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#11 Burger Warrior

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 09:45 PM

Caiden shook his head. "I can't be useless," he murmured hesitantly. "I'll... take another potion before we go. I'll be fine."

 

Percula was about to argue, but the Venator stood, cutting her off. "Go ahead, if you want. I'll meet you outside. I won't be long," he said, wiping most of the worry off his face with remarkable success, though Percula could still tell. Granted, he always looked so serious, it was hard to tell when it was worry or something else. Regardless, he turned and headed for the stairs up to their inn rooms.

 

Saffron hesitated, glancing around briefly before heading after Caid and catching his wrist outside his - well, strictly speaking, their - room.

 

“Hey, I’m not gonna stop you,” the pixie reassured him. “But… if you do stay here, you won’t be useless.” Percula explained. “Going out there might just make things harder for you later.” She went on, scratching her neck almost sheepishly. “Not that I wouldn’t appreciate you being out there with me.” Saffron admitted.

 

“So… you still want to go?”

 

----

 

Rosette paused when Kye quietly got to his feet, striding away from the table. The moment he ascended the stairs, he stepped into a room, it seemed, as he shut and locked the door, and then headed over toward the bed while carefully fishing Rosette out of his belt pouch - with his right hand. Of course.

 

Before she could say anything, Saffron let out a squeaky yelp and clung onto a finger as Kye all but collapsed onto the bed, his human disguise having already faded away. His tail twitched like usual, but after stretching them as much as he could, his wings sagged all the way down into the floor on either side of the bed, as if he didn't want to put in the effort of holding them up. Gently, he set Rosette on the covers near his face so he could look at her. He looked exhausted.

 

But he asked, "You wanna go look around at the city?" Then, halfway through a fanged yawn that made her brace herself against the sudden draw of air, he added, "Wish you had a better view..."

 

“E-eheh…” Rosette chuckled weakly, her gaze drawn to his wide-open maw for a few moments before she quickly turned to look him in the eyes. “W-well, I could get one if I wanted to…” She reminded him, her wings fluttering for a moment as if to emphasize the point. Rather than use them, though, the pixie took a seat closer to his eye-level. “And… I think the city can wait awhile. I want to make sure you’re okay, anyway.” She added with a weak smile. “I mean…”

The smile quickly vanished. “I-I… can’t apologize enough. F-for encouraging you to get spotted like that.” Rosette confessed. “T-that was all my fault, a-and now the Templars a-are watching you c-ceaselessly, a-and…”

She took a shaky breath, trying not to totally break down. Kye didn’t need her doing that, he was exhausted enough, already. “...I-I’m so sorry.” Rosette managed, deciding to leave it at that before giving Kye a chance to speak.


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#12 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 07:09 AM

Saffron hesitated, glancing around briefly before heading after Caid and catching his wrist outside his - well, strictly speaking, their - room. Caiden stopped immediately, though he looked a bit hesitant to actually turn around and face her.

“Hey, I’m not gonna stop you,” the pixie reassured him. “But… if you do stay here, you won’t be useless.” Percula explained. “Going out there might just make things harder for you later.” She went on, scratching her neck almost sheepishly. “Not that I wouldn’t appreciate you being out there with me.” Saffron admitted.

 

At first, all the Venator did was glance at the floor in thought, as if unsure. It wasn't like him - but any uncertainty cleared up fast.

“So… you still want to go?”

 

Caiden nodded. Gently, he pulled her closer to him, wrapping one arm around her waist, though he was always careful of her wings under the cloak.

 

"I won't let this slow me down," he said. With a small smile, he finished, "Or keep me away from you."

 

He paused for a moment or two before he finally admitted, "I only have one potion left. I'll just save it for later... You take the lead." As teasingly as he could manage right now, he added, "I want to see what color cloak you pick."

 

---

 

“E-eheh…” Rosette chuckled weakly, her gaze drawn to his wide-open maw for a few moments before she quickly turned to look him in the eyes. Kye looked slightly embarrassed - he needed to keep this whole size difference thing in mind more.

 

“W-well, I could get one if I wanted to…” She reminded him, her wings fluttering for a moment as if to emphasize the point. Rather than use them, though, the pixie took a seat closer to his eye-level.

 

Kye remained still, though he did murmur, "Gotta be careful doing that, though."

 

“And… I think the city can wait awhile. I want to make sure you’re okay, anyway.” She added with a weak smile. “I mean…”

The smile quickly vanished. “I-I… can’t apologize enough. F-for encouraging you to get spotted like that.” Rosette confessed. “T-that was all my fault, a-and now the Templars a-are watching you c-ceaselessly, a-and…”

 

He swallowed, looking away from her for a moment, but said nothing.

 

She took a shaky breath, trying not to totally break down. Kye didn’t need her doing that, he was exhausted enough, already. “...I-I’m so sorry.” Rosette managed, deciding to leave it at that before giving Kye a chance to speak.

 

"It's okay," Kye said quickly, returning his eyes to her once he spoke. "Really - it is. I... what I did was wrong, and I knew it, and I might've saved Neitha's life - maybe - probably? I don't know - and... that's all that matters. I'm glad you told me to go out there. I don't regret it." He swallowed again and admitted quietly, "It's the first brave thing I don't regret doing... Maybe the first thing I don't regret doing, except leaving the Underworld."


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#13 Lord_Klaus

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 01:45 PM

"You know that when those books 'disappear' they're actually put in another library, right?" Plexaura sniped dryly. "It's just one protected from crazy cultists like, say, the Hidden we're hunting down because they know they can access this book... And Imperial officials can still access those books with proper clearance."

 

Gesturing emphatically and gratefully with both palms held upward at Plexaura while still glaring at Carlon, Marcus gasped an exasperated “Thank you!,” for her support.

 

"I'm not criticizing the Inquisition, if that's what you think," Charon said, bristling "I'm saying that it would be the easiest thing in the world for thieves, or the cult themselves, to disguise themselves as Inquisitors and steal the book on the pretense of there being a Cultic Cypher or whatever inside of it-."

 

"Not that you're an Imperial official..." Kye added thoughtfully, looking Charon - a bearded, robed man with the bad attitude - over again with apparent suspicion. That made a bout of silence fall upon the table, after which Kye looked around at everyone and shrugged innocently. "I'm just saying," he muttered, leaning back in his seat and fidgeting.

 

Giving the demonkin the same gesture he’d just extended to Plexaura, Marcus added, “And thank you,before he sniffed in Carlon’s direction, “See?  He gets it.”  

 

"You do have a point," the Weeping Mage said, his eyes narrowing in anger "I'm not an Imperial official, so how could I know what I'm talking about? In the end, it's your all's opinion that matters, not mine. I'm just a lowly commoner. I'll be out trawling for information. If I find out anything, I'll report back, M'lord." He then left the Inn in a huff.

 

In confusion, the Inquisitor drew Kye into his reaction with a quizzical glance.  “Wait, was that last bit aimed at you or me?”

 

"He... didn't even get it," Kye said, scratching his head. "I meant how he's a bearded, angry - robed guy..."

 

"Besides, I'm actually a commoner," Stevan commented, and Plexaura and Caiden both nodded in agreement.

 

Same here,” Marcus offered as he resumed his seat, now feeling more perplexed than angry.

 

"What was up with that guy?" Katrina said, trying her best to lighten the mood. "The nerve of him questioning the Inquisition, amiright?"

 

Shaking his head, Capulet sighed, “It’s probably not worth our time to wonder about it right now.  We have more pressing concerns than the personal feelings of some amateur.”

 

While Plexaura left to follow Carlon, Captain Stevan made known his intent to follow their secondary objectives to build goodwill and earn information from the locals.  Marcus had encouraged his subordinates to do the same on official inquisitions, and relished the chance to work thus in the field once more.  Even though his training told him to stick with the young Channeler, he had a feeling Caiden’s younger sister could take care of herself.

 

As Plexaura left, he softly called out an old Inquisitor’s adage, “Happy hunting, Miss Voros!  And remember, wear the shadows, but ware what lurks in them.”  It was one of the cheesier inside jokes in their order, but she’d quickly grasp its meaning, unless her mentors had been particularly cruel or uninformed.

Rising from his seat with a good-bye kiss to Neitha, the veteran Inquisitor retrieved his polearm and donned his helm before he fell into line on Stevan’s left.  “I’m with you, Captain,” he said with a friendly half-smile under his open visor.  “Shall we go forth and do some good?”


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#14 Burger Warrior

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 04:13 PM

Gently, Caiden pulled her closer to him, wrapping one arm around her waist, though he was always careful of Percula’s wings under the cloak.

 

"I won't let this slow me down," he said. With a small smile, he finished, "Or keep me away from you."

 

Saffron gave him a wry grin in reply. “I doubt much would do either.” She replied, slipping her own arm around as much of his waist as she could reach.

 

He paused for a moment or two before he finally admitted, "I only have one potion left. I'll just save it for later... You take the lead." As teasingly as he could manage right now, he added, "I want to see what color cloak you pick."

 

Percula looked faintly worried, but she just tried to conceal it for now. Maybe they could pick up some ingredients while they were out…

“I was thinking something green.” She managed to grin. “Ooh, or maybe yellow!” Saffron added, starting to get genuinely excited as she slipped out of Caiden’s grasp, taking hold of his wrist as she began to lead him along. “Hm, I wonder what shade of brown would look best on you…” The pixie mused as her attention shifted, glancing back at him briefly to size her lover up. Maybe a nice earthy shade'll do...

 

-----

 

"It's okay," Kye said quickly, returning his eyes to her once he spoke. "Really - it is. I... what I did was wrong, and I knew it, and I might've saved Neitha's life - maybe - probably? I don't know - and... that's all that matters. I'm glad you told me to go out there. I don't regret it." He swallowed again and admitted quietly, as Rosette perked up, some, "It's the first brave thing I don't regret doing... Maybe the first thing I don't regret doing, except leaving the Underworld."

 

“O-oh.” She said quietly, shifting sheepishly. “Well… um, in that case… you’re welcome?” Rosette offered sheepishly with a weak smile.

 

After a moment, she giggled a little and got to her feet. “I... guess it was kind of silly of me thinking you’d blame me for that, huh…?” The pixie asked, almost rhetorically, while she made her way a little closer to the demon-kin’s face. “I think… I just keep guessing you’ll react like a human… or an elf… or even a pixie. But you’re not anything like them.” Rosette pointed out, looking him over as she got pretty close to his nose, leaning on the tip of it idly. “If anything, I think… I think you’re better.” The pixie grinned sheepishly, her gaze returning to Kye’s eyes.


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#15 Dalton Kringle

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 04:29 PM

As soon as Charon entered the Severed Dragon Head bar, he almost immediately wished he hadn't: the entire place was filled with drunk or half-drunk Northerners and either brave or fleeing Achaeans.

 

It was the perfect place to meet any other members of his organization, if any had detected him entering the city.

 

The Weeping Mage was about to start looking for one, when someone, a woman, surprisingly, walked up to him and said:

 

 “So ‘n Imperial walks into a bar…” The Woman said dryly, with a rather thick Northern accent. “An’ I smell a desp’rate or very, very brave little man.

She flashed him a surprisingly white smile after a moment. “So which is it, Achaean?

 

"A bit of both, actually," The Weeping Mage said "I'm Carlon Shev, pleased to make your acquaintance."

 

Could this be his contact. He doubted it, but he'd seen stranger members of his organization than this very warlike-woman.

 

---

 

It’s probably not worth our time to wonder about it right now.  We have more pressing concerns than the personal feelings of some amateur.”

 

"If that 'amatuer' bothers you so much, they why did you guys let him tag along...? " Katrina muttered.

 

 “I’m with you, Captain, shall we go forth and do some good?”

 

Katrina moved from her seat to join the two Imperial Men and said "I'll come with you guys! Three Heads are better than one, as they say...or was it two...?"

 

As the small party exited the Inn, Katrina asked "So, while we're trawling for information and new friends, do you think you two guys could help me with a personal quest of mine?"

 

 



#16 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 07:34 PM

“I’m with you, Captain,” Marcus said with a friendly half-smile under his open visor.  “Shall we go forth and do some good?”

Before Stevan could respond, Katrina appeared with them as well. "I'll come with you guys! Three Heads are better than one, as they say...or was it two...?"

 

"I'd be happy to have you both along," said Stevan, giving a nod. As they set out, however, Katrina spoke again.

 

"So, while we're trawling for information and new friends, do you think you two guys could help me with a personal quest of mine?"

 

"We could certainly try," the Captain replied. "What sort of quest?"

 

---

 

“I was thinking something green.” She managed to grin. “Ooh, or maybe yellow!” Saffron added, starting to get genuinely excited as she slipped out of Caiden’s grasp, taking hold of his wrist as she began to lead him along.

 

Even Caiden couldn't help but smile at her excitement, and he let himself be led as she headed downstairs and toward the door.

 

“Hm, I wonder what shade of brown would look best on you…” The pixie mused as her attention shifted, glancing back at him briefly to size her lover up.

 

The Venator arched a brow, though he still wore his hint of a lopsided smile. "Blue looks best on me," he replied firmly. Half-jokingly, he clarified, "Namely the blue you have on right now."

 

As they left the Gutted Gorgon, Percula looked around for any signs of a place that might sell cloaks. They wandered about a short ways before Caiden pointed out a tailoring shop just a few buildings away. Eagerly, Percula led the way toward the quaint little building - but they both quickly discovered its patrons were clearly not intended to be quaint at all.

 

In fact, upon entering the store, they found it was rather impressive, all things considered. Many fine suits of brightly-dyed clothing stood on dummies here and there, and equally as vibrant and varied cloaks hung from hooks on the walls. A stately older woman stood behind a counter, her face done up in perhaps a bit too much makeup, though her red and white dress was quite lovely.

 

"Good day, darlings!" she called out cheerfully, apparently not put off by their admittedly rugged appearance, especially Caiden in all his leather armor. Percula couldn't help but notice the woman's eyebrows shoot up when she noticed her pointed ears, but she looked awestruck rather than disgusted. "Please have a look about, and let me know if you need anything," she added, giving a grand gesture around the store.

 

---

 

“O-oh.” Rosette said quietly, shifting sheepishly. “Well… um, in that case… you’re welcome?” Rosette offered sheepishly with a weak smile.

 

Kye just smiled back, at least as much as he could with his minimal energy.

After a moment, she giggled a little and got to her feet. “I... guess it was kind of silly of me thinking you’d blame me for that, huh…?” The pixie asked, almost rhetorically, while she made her way a little closer to the demon-kin’s face.

 

Her moving closer to his face made him wake up at least slightly, as he blinked his eyes open again instead of keeping them half shut, and he watched her curiously.

 

“I think… I just keep guessing you’ll react like a human… or an elf… or even a pixie. But you’re not anything like them.” Rosette pointed out, looking him over as she got pretty close to his nose, leaning on the tip of it idly. “If anything, I think… I think you’re better.” The pixie grinned sheepishly, her gaze returning to Kye’s eyes.

 

Kye had crossed his eyes trying to watch her, but he uncrossed them and closed one instead, realizing it was oddly convenient for the one-eyed Caiden to fall in love with a pixie that gave him those adorable nose-hugs...

 

He felt his face turning a little warm as he sheepishly halfway mumbled in response, "I'm not better than any of those things... I'm a lot worse. None of those things have to try so hard to be good. They just either are or they aren't. They're whatever they wanna be without struggling to do it... And without anybody breathing down their necks..."

 

Kye closed his eyes and breathed a short sigh, adding, "And without having to pretend they're something they're not... being in human form for so long makes me feel all cramped." His tail flicked up and down on the bed. "But - anyway, I don't wanna complain about how I'm a tainted demon... I do that too much. I'm just glad you convinced me to do the right thing."

 

After a moment, he opened one eye again and looked at her in mild embarrassment as he admitted, "I would hug you or something - I recently found out those are really nice - but I don't want to crush you. So, uh, just... thank you - again. For the compliments, I mean. And... stuff." He swallowed and gave a tiny, meek smile.


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#17 Burger Warrior

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 05:02 PM

The Venator arched a brow, though he still wore his hint of a lopsided smile. "Blue looks best on me," he replied firmly. Half-jokingly, he clarified, "Namely the blue you have on right now."

 

Percula giggled at that. “I’m thinking second beeest.” She teased back. “Since we’re supposed to be sneaky and all…”

 

As they left the Gutted Gorgon, Saffron looked around for any signs of a place that might sell cloaks. They wandered about a short ways before Caiden pointed out a tailoring shop just a few buildings away. Eagerly, Percula led the way toward the quaint little building - but they both quickly discovered its patrons were clearly not intended to be quaint at all.

 

In fact, upon entering the store, they found it was rather impressive, all things considered. Many fine suits of brightly-dyed clothing stood on dummies here and there, and equally as vibrant and varied cloaks hung from hooks on the walls. A stately older woman stood behind a counter, her face done up in perhaps a bit too much makeup, though her red and white dress was quite lovely.

 

"Good day, darlings!" she called out cheerfully, apparently not put off by their admittedly rugged appearance, especially Caiden in all his leather armor. Percula couldn't help but notice the woman's eyebrows shoot up when she noticed her pointed ears, but she looked awestruck rather than disgusted or something. The pixie smirked a little to herself, almost unconsciously rubbing the tip of one of her ears. I wonder if I can get us a discount... "Please have a look about, and let me know if you need anything," the woman added, giving a grand gesture around the store.

 

Percula smiled back. “Of course!” She said, heading for where the most cloaks seemed to be lined up before releasing her grip on Caiden. “Heeere we go…”

 

She began browsing like she’d been shopping since the day she was born, though soon she began outright ignoring the fancier cloaks. Ech, I don’t want to look like some human noble or something… and I don’t want to leave Caid broke. Perky reflected, frowning somewhat. Her mood was quickly lifted up, however, when she noticed a familiar color. Hurrying towards it, Saffron admired the pale green, hooded cloak, comparing it to her similarly-colored dress. “Ooh… what do you think, Caid?” Percula asked with a grin, turning to him and stretching the cloak and her own dress out to compare the almost perfectly-matching colors.

 

-----

 

Kye had crossed his eyes trying to watch her, but he uncrossed them and closed one instead. Rosette giggled a little as she watched.

 

And she felt his face turning a little warm as he sheepishly halfway mumbled in response, "I'm not better than any of those things... I'm a lot worse. None of those things have to try so hard to be good. They just either are or they aren't. They're whatever they wanna be without struggling to do it... And without anybody breathing down their necks..."

 

Saffron hesitated. B-but-

 

Kye closed his eyes and breathed a short sigh, adding, "And without having to pretend they're something they're not... being in human form for so long makes me feel all cramped." His tail flicked up and down on the bed. "But - anyway, I don't wanna complain about how I'm a tainted demon... I do that too much. I'm just glad you convinced me to do the right thing."

 

Rosette bit her lip. “...It’s okay.” She finally said. “I just meant… you’re a lot nicer than most people I’ve met. And you’re resisting your demonic side really well, too… it’s more than most beings do.” She explained.

 

After a moment, he opened one eye again and looked at her in mild embarrassment as he admitted, "I would hug you or something - I recently found out those are really nice - but I don't want to crush you. So, uh, just... thank you - again. For the compliments, I mean. And... stuff." He swallowed and gave a tiny, meek smile.

 

That got a little giggle out of the pixie. “You’re welcome.” She smiled, though she began to wander down his face. “Thoouugh, uh… from what Perky’s told me… she and Caid kind of started with…” Rosette hesitated, not sure how to put it as she came to a stop by his mouth. “Uh… with what we did...” Saffron finally offered, her face growing noticeably red. “Y’know, with the…” She trailed off into mumbled, sheepishly nudging his bottom lip with her foot.

 

-----

 

"A bit of both, actually," The Imperial said, "I'm Carlon Shev, pleased to make your acquaintance."

 

The nordling offered him a large hand, one that could potential crush his, it looked like. “Beileag Gutraidh, at yer service.” She replied, giving him a firm shake if he took her hand… though she was careful enough not to hurt him. At least, not too bad.

 

That done, Beileag gestured for him to follow her to a nearby table, taking a seat, herself. It creaked slightly beneath her weight. “So, brave an’ desp’rate one, what’s got ya lookin’ in a place like this fer help?” He doesn’t exactly look rich enough to be hiring mercenaries… not long-time, anyway.


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#18 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 09:06 PM

Caiden stood by silently like some watchful statue, occasionally offering only quiet nods or head shakes of approval or disapproval of certain items when she looked at him now and then... at least until she came upon what seemed to be her favorite choice yet.

 

Saffron admired the pale green, hooded cloak, comparing it to her similarly-colored dress. “Ooh… what do you think, Caid?” Percula asked with a grin, turning to him and stretching the cloak and her own dress out to compare the almost perfectly-matching colors.

 

For the first time since they had entered the shop, the Venator's relentlessly emotionless expression gave way to just enough of a smile. "It looks perfect," he said, and that was all.

 

"Indeed it does, dear - the shades are just different enough to offer the perfect contrast, but not so different as to clash," encouraged the incredibly posh-sounding store owner. "Luckily for you, we have a very fine discount today, which will make the cloak only one silver! It's made of nothing but the finest silks, you know."

 

Caiden couldn't help but arch a brow very, very subtly to Percula at the mention of a silver. He fished one out of a pouch on his belt - though he didn't hand it to her, for obvious reasons - and said half-jokingly, "Final choice?"


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#19 Sareth

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 02:37 PM

Neitha was quiet during the briefing in the Gutted Gorgon tavern, not really having much to say on the topic as Caiden and the others went over their goals and options, and being somewhat preoccupied by worry for Kye —despite that fact that the templar had kept their word so far, leaving things peaceful, if somewhat tense, since the meeting on the ship. Well, at least Kye seemed to be relaxing a tiny bit now, going so far as to make a joke of sorts —even if she didn't get it until Plexaura explained. That 'Carlon' guy was kind of an odd one...

 

Still a bit distracted, her only response to Marcus' goodbye kiss to her, and his words to Stevan, was a simple, slightly teasing "Be safe, dear." It wasn't until a few moments later, after the pair, along with Katrina, had left, that she realized she had no idea what she should do. She briefly considered her options: going to the castle and dealing with a bunch of probably-stuck-up nobles was hardly her idea of fun, nor was she likely the best person for that task; she could look around by herself, but she'd never been in an imperial city this far north —it would probably be better if she stuck with someone who had at least some idea of the lay of the land...

 

"Ah, screw it. I guess I'm joining the do-gooder brigade" she muttered dryly to herself, before quickly standing up to head out after Marcus, Stevan, and Katrina. Though, she first paused at the door, turning back to address the three remaining templar in the tavern: "Kye better be in the same, still-living, condition when I get back, or you'll answer to me" she declared grimly, before heading out the door, hurrying a bit to catch up with the trio.

 

"So, while we're trawling for information and new friends, do you think you two guys could help me with a personal quest of mine?"

 

"We could certainly try. What sort of quest?"

 

"Yes, do tell!" Neitha said, announcing her presence with slightly-exaggerated eagerness.

 

"Sorry, Marcus, I decided I couldn't trust these northern women to keep their hands off you of their own accord. So I'll just have to make sure of it myself" she said lightly, throwing an arm around her inquisitor boyfriend's shoulders with a broad teasing grin. 

 

***

 

Sarael only half-listened to the briefing, somewhat lost in thought: thinking about the Kye situation; about the other demon-kin that they had discovered during the rest of their inquisition, and their dealing with it... She understood why it had to be done —unlike with Kye, their was no proof of any kind that she had not been evil, or even possibly a member of the Hidden or the Umbra Coven— but their prompt and summary execution of the woman still disturbed her somewhat —though not as much as it once might have.

 

She only really became fully aware of her surroundings once more, when the southern woman, Neitha, addressed her and the last couple of her comrades in the tavern: apparently threatening retribution if they did anything to Kye while she was away. She wanted to protest, to say that the Templar didn't break their word, but before she could summon the words, the woman had left. Looking around, she only then noticed that pretty much everyone else was already gone.

 

She promptly got up to head out after them, only to stop briefly as she remembered what they'd been told about the need for subtlety and the city's inhabitants not really liking the Imperial orders. So, she quickly headed up to her room, and divested herself of her eye-catching and heavily Templar-marked armor, locking the door as she left —in case of thieves.

 

Now clad more subtly —relatively-speaking, given that she was still carrying several large and exquisitely-made weapons— in only her plain, though well-made, gray clothing, she headed out of the tavern. She paused just outside, not really sure where the others had gone, thinking that maybe she would go with Plexaura —or possibly Caiden and the little elf woman whose name she didn't know. After a moment's looking around, she chose a street and started walking.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* ((It's up to you where she ends up, Wolfy: with Plexaura, with Caiden and Perc, or if she just winds up not finding any of them and just ends up off somewhere on her own —I don't particularly care; whatever's easiest/you think will be most amusing.))


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#20 Burger Warrior

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 03:19 PM

For the first time since they had entered the shop, the Venator's relentlessly emotionless expression gave way to just enough of a smile. "It looks perfect," he said, and that was all.

 

Percula grinned widely, about to reciprocate the show of emotion when the shopkeep cut in.

 

"Indeed it does, dear - the shades are just different enough to offer the perfect contrast, but not so different as to clash," encouraged the incredibly posh-sounding store owner. "Luckily for you, we have a very fine discount today, which will make the cloak only one silver! It's made of nothing but the finest silks, you know."

 

Those last two additions to the comment left Percula somewhat conflicted. Right, humans use silver for money… eugh. She realized, glancing at Caiden… and coloring slightly when she noticed his arched brow. “Well, in that case…” The pixie began to say.

 

He fished one out of a pouch on his belt - though he didn't hand it to her, for obvious reasons - and said half-jokingly, "Final choice?"

 

Perky shrugged. “Sure, you’re paying for it.” She teased, carefully taking the cloak off of its hook. “I could always decide I need another cloak.” The ‘elf’ added, though she was clearly joking. Or am I? Hehehe...


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