Caiden clearly didn't mind Percula's arm around his waist at all, as he did nothing to deter her from keeping it there.
“Well, I could’ve made a certain Venator look like a hero…” The pixie said, though her small frown gave way to an almost sheepish look. “Buuut that wouldn’t separate you, huh?” She reached up to tap her chin, eyeing Eustace. “Hm, choices, choices…”
The Venator grunted. "I'm no hero, so it wouldn't be the best attempt."
“...See anything precariously placed and breakable?” Percula suddenly asked, looking for any kind of ornamental pottery. “A little breeze, and ‘oopsie’.” She winked at Caiden with a grin, trying to help his mood.
Caiden arched a brow, looking around. He quickly noticed a large shield and crossed swords hanging on the wall, no doubt a coat of arms for the family. Nodding toward it, Percula took her opportunity.
Carefully aiming a gentle breeze, she attempted to knock the shield and swords off the wall. With a resounding clang and a deafening thud, it all came crashing down - thankfully, not on anyone's head. Eustace sucked in a gasp like he was about to have a heart attack, rushing over toward it. Caiden simply turned and started heading back toward the staircase leading down to where Sarael had stayed with Zac, as it seemed Eustace had forgotten about their existence, running down some other hall to get help.
"The thing is, we need that book rather more than we let on... I didn't want to let Eustace know because, well... honestly, he seems like a bit of a busybody, and I get the impression that he was being difficult on purpose" Sarael said, a touch sheepishly.
Zac made a slight face and said, "Yeah... He does that with everybody."
"And, correct me if I'm wrong, but, before Eustace cut you off, you seemed to be saying that either he or you could simply get the book from the library for us? So I was wondering... could you? Could you get it for us? It would be a really big help, and I promise we'll return it when we're done!" she said, with a bright smile.
The smile seemed contagious, though Zac's was small and perhaps a bit hesitant. "I could do that," he replied. "Y'know, if you wanna come with me..." he shrugged, "there's really nothing stopping you or your buddies. It's not like it's against the rules to go to the castle library - Eustace is just being zealous. Besides, if I'm with you, it pretty much means you're authorized.
"C'mon," he said, "let's go get that book." He motioned for her to follow as he headed up the stairs.
"There was nothing on the roof" Neitha replied after making her return. "But it still would have made a good entrance point for anyone reasonably acrobatic. There's a guard tower back there" she added, indicating the direction with a gesture. "If anyone, or -thing, was climbing around up on the roof last night, whoever was manning that tower should have seen something —maybe we should track them down?" she suggested.
"They're probably the ones downstairs right now, judging by how exhausted they look," Plexaura commented.
“An excellent idea,” Marcus interjected, facing the rest of the investigators. “However, we will have to add this room’s owner to the list of sightings to ask about, because Captain Rolf and I are not convinced anyone actually died here last night, much less that anyone was devoured...”
As Marcus went over the details, Plexaura came over to see, while Stevan stood by with his arms crossed, though his mind seemed to be elsewhere.
"Sounds like we need to talk to those guards," Plexaura said, arching a thin eyebrow. "Someone should've seen something last night, especially if someone was hauling around an unconscious nobleman... or helping him out the window." She shorted. " I still think all this could be as simple as some foppish noble just wanting to escape his life and staging his murder to do it..."
"Even so," Stevan added, "it warrants investigating. The watch claimed this is part of a string of killings." The Templar uncrossed his arms and went on, "There's something else I'd like to look into... call it a hunch. I'll meet you all at the watchtower once I'm done."
With that, Stevan departed, and Plexaura shrugged. "Guess we'd better get to that tower, then," she said.
Leading the way, the Channeler headed back out the inn room, with Marcus, Katrina, and Neitha in tow. However, as they descended to the first story of the inn again, they found that only a few members of the watch were still hanging around. The rugged-looking leader with his battered plume was nowhere to be seen.
"Hey," Plexaura said to one, tapping a watchman on the shoulder, "where's your boss?"
"Oh, he left little while ago, ma'am," replied the watchman. "Had business with some o' his commanders. Gotta do a report 'n' all that, since there's been another murder. Dunno when he'll be available again, but he'll fer sure be back at work tonight at that watchtower," he gestured in the general direction of the tower Neitha had seen. "You'll be able t' speak with him then."
Plexaura frowned. "I see," she replied. "Do you know who was on duty in that tower last night, then?"
"Aye, ma'am. I was, and so were two others, but the cap'n ordered us all off to a blacksmith shop north o' here where someone in the streets was shoutin' about a robbery, so the three o' us weren't there but a few minutes after sundown. Got caught up investigatin' witnesses around the shop instead. Turned out to be some street bum just tryin' to steal some gold. But the cap'n was in the tower all night."
Outside, night was falling: their first day in the city had felt like a brief one, particularly as they had disembarked from the Lady Amalia relatively late in the day. It was probably time to head back to the Gutted Gorgon and regroup with the others. So, in relative silence, Marcus, Neitha, Katrina, and Plexaura set off back toward their rendezvous point.
Meanwhile, Zac and Sarael entered into the great hall to find Caiden and Percula already heading back in their direction. Not seeming to mind the absence of Eustace, Zac led them toward the castle library, occasionally dropping tidbits of Artorius history and trivia as they passed by some tapestries in the halls. The clerk seemed quite knowledgeable.
When they arrived in the library, they found it quite an impressive sight: walls lined with books, desks here and there with large chairs for study, and tall windows between the bookshelves intended to let in the sunlight... but, right now, they only let in the pale twilight, the sun having set moments ago.
The library did not seem terribly occupied, with only a few other workers of the castle here and there, and some scholars - most likely from local temples - looking up information. Zac looked around as he kept walking, not stopping until they found a tall man in simple brown robes, though he still did not compare in height to Zac. He turned as they approached, revealing distinguishing, hawk-like features, long, dark hair, and tanned skin. His eyes looked pale and strangely frosted over.
"Hey, Sylvanus," Zac said, forcing a slightly nervous smile but clearly feeling ill at ease with even being in the man's presence.
"Greetings, Arcadian," said the man, his tone even but not unfriendly. "Who is with you?"
"Just some, uh... some guests," Zac replied promptly, his tone innocent. "You remember that big, weird, black book I mentioned? The tome looking thing?"
"Indeed. It has been the talk of the library."
"I'll bet - so, any idea where it is now? I need to take a look at it, maybe borrow it for a little while..."
"Certainly. Right this way."
Sylvanus turned, and, like a spirit gliding over the stone floor, strode toward one of the many shelves. Running his fingers along the spines of the various books, stopping as he rested a finger on a heavy tome bound in black leather. He removed it, turning and offering it to Zac, who took it with a smile.
"Thanks, buddy," the clerk said cheerfully. Sylvanus merely nodded, moving off without another word. "Totally creeps me out..." Zac murmured as he returned his attention to the others, holding the tome aloft for them to see. "Piece of cake," he said with a huge, bright grin.
"Good work," said Caiden, taking the tome. "Thanks. We'll be on our way. With any luck, we'll have the book back here in less than a day."
As Caiden turned to leave, however, Zac blurted, "I could help."
The Venator paused and faced him again. "Help?" he said, his eye briefly flicking to Sarael as he wondered just what she had said to Zac in private.
"Yeah!" Zac replied, but he paused. "I mean, I have no idea what you guys are actually doing, but - it's obviously important. A Templar, a Venator, and a..." his eyes went to Percula and his breath seemed to get stuck in his throat for a moment before he looked at Caiden again and managed to finish in no small amount of wonderment, "an - an elf..."
For a moment, Caiden said nothing as he lost himself in brief but deep thought.
"Really, look, I know it's none of my business," Zac went on hesitantly, "but I'm always stuck down here doing nothing, and I'm good with books, and I'm..."
Before he could go on, Caiden nodded and answered simply, with a nod of his head, "C'mon."
As Caiden now led the way back out, with an eager Zac following along after them. To Sarael and Percula, Caiden murmured, "Now that he knows, we should keep him close... And maybe he could help."
Meanwhile, Charon and Beileag also returned to the Gutted Gorgon, as night was falling and it was time to return to their meeting place. Shortly after they entered, they turned to see Caiden, Percula, and Sarael entering, along with a newcomer, Zac. Conveniently, the final group - Marcus, Neitha, Plexaura, and Katrina - entered just after them. The only one missing now was Stevan.
Caiden, the black tome under one arm, took one look at Beileag and turned to Charon, asking flatly, "Who's she?"
After receiving any kind of answer to that question, Caiden returned his attention to the rest of the group.
"We found the book. The clerk, Zacynthos, is going to help us figure out if there's a message hidden inside," he said, keeping things slightly vague, perhaps for the reason of Beileag being present. "And when he finds it, he'll inform us."
"Message, huh?" Zac said with interest. "I bet I could find it, if there is one, but it might take some time, depending on what exactly the message is..."
"That's fine. Just don't take too long. If anyone here who can read thinks they can help him speed things up," Caiden added to those present, "feel free." The Venator then handed Zac the tome. "Take it upstairs to my room and get to work. Plex, go with him. He's helping us for now."
Plexaura shrugged. "Sure thing, Caid." She looked at Zac as they headed upstairs, commenting with a smirk, "You're cute. Where'd they find you, a box of free puppies on the street corner?"
But they disappeared to the inn's second story, Zac with a very red face and managing an all too awkward little laugh, clearly not sure how to take that comment. Almost at that moment, Stevan appeared, stepping inside, his armor slightly wet from some light rainfall that was only just beginning.
"Stevan," Caiden said with a nod.
"Caid," replied the Captain, removing his helmet and tucking it under his arm. Then, looking at everyone, he went on, "I've found something. There've been systematic crimes confined to the area around that watchtower. A butcher's shop was robbed and some raw meat was stolen. A blacksmith was almost robbed, but the criminal was caught because the watch captain ordered guards there in time - somehow. Sounds shifty to me."
He nodded toward a window and added, "The watch captain should be back on duty at that tower soon, and I think we need to go question him... something about that whole situation isn't right. But for now, we've worked hard enough, so anyone who wants a drink before we set out again, they're on me."
With that, he approached the bar and dropped some gold coins on it, prompting the bartender to beam at him in pleased surprise and start fixing some tankards.
As everyone else otherwise occupied themselves, however, Stevan approached Marcus. "Inquisitor Capulet," he said respectfully, "a word?"
His tone, of course, heavily implied he wanted a word in private.
((Sorry to push things so far forward, but I would like to be able to finish this campaign before my schedule gets even more insane, which it will very soon. Consider this moment a breather, talk amongst each other and to NPCs, and then in my next DM post, we will continue to the guard tower, together, instead of splitting up, unless someone splits up of their own volition and goes somewhere else. You're free to roam, but you may get separated from the main plotline.
For the record, the door to Kye's room is locked, as he and Rutger are still assumed to be interacting inside, so don't just burst in. Consider Kye on hold until Balder is able to post actively again [no rush, Balder]. However, you are free to move around the inn rooms otherwise, including the room in which Zac and Plexaura are studying the book.))