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Game: Through the Looking Glasses

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Mephit James's picture
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Game: Through the Looking Glasses

The crystalline dome of Cragimoor hangs like an impossible sky of solid light. Bright light from the distant stars Outside filters through noxious fumes and into the focusing material of the dome, producing dizzying light that makes your stomach churn just to look at it.
Dropping your gaze to the cobblestones of Triumphal Way. Like so many locations in this crowded city, the road connects strikingly different areas. From the left, mixed in with Cragimoors omnipresent smog, waft the bloody smells of slaughterhouses and the acrid scent of stale air from working-class pubs. These smells are the essence of Upswich, a lower class neighborhood of people just trying to make the most of their existence.
Directly to the right are the tidy houses of Tirragaunt, home of the aloof employers of Upswich laborers. Windows in this part are elegant and spacious, but the panes are latched tightly against the smells of their neighbors. You walk past a particularly nice house with the emblem of the Door Opener's Guild, the masters of Cragimoor's grand portals through which passes the city's goods for trade as well as food and water, absent in the empty void outside of Cragimoor's dome.
Eventually you come to the Central Market of the city, a massive plaza filled with the stalls of extraplanar merchants, the nimble feet of pickpockets, and the bedraggled inhabitants of Cragimoor. Drifting through the smells of soot and spice, the sights of riches and poverty, and the sounds of vendors and buyers a large sign post catches your eye.
It is filled with papers of all kinds, most offering positions for sellswords to protect merchant caravans onto or off of the plane. A few have more exotic jobs, and one poster, penned in gilded letters, seems to pull on your gaze like a magnet.
"Competent and Adventurous Individuals," it reads in golden letters, "Sir Aranek Cavendish, Archmagician and Merchant Extraordinaire, requires your Service for a most Intriguing matter to counter agents of a Sinister force. Terms are Generous and Negotiable. " Below this are written directions to the home of Sir Aranek in the rich district of Cavall.

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Game: Through the Looking Glasses

Don Lithec clucked his tongue thoughtfully as he scanned over the gilded notice. His ability to read this strange mammal speech, but he understood the missive. One line stood out in the warrior's mind - "counter agents of a Sinister force". While his loyalty was ultimately with his people, he considered himself a noble warrior and, if this force was posing a threat to the citizens of this city, he felt it would be his duty to assist in any way he could. Every life was sacred - a lesson taught to him by his mother. Every life deserved to be protected unless they threatened the lives of others. Even these ni--

Don Lithec shook his head. No, not "nightfolk"... humans! He felt ashamed to be unable to shake off his prejudices. In his world, the relatives of these creatures that called themselves "men" were seen as little more than pests. Now, confronted with proof of their civilization, proof of their equality with his own people, the kobold found it difficult to shake off his feelings of superiority and disgust. True, they were larger than nightfolk, but these humans... they smelled the same. And their stink was everywhere.

The kobold was something of a sight in the mostly mammal-based metropolis of Carrigmoor. The bony crest that projected from the back of his skull was pierced through with a pair of golden rings that seemed to glimmer with magical energy. Ritualistic lines were painted onto his face and crest with a black vegetable-based dye and a black and white striped strip of cloth was wrapped around his forehead. His kimono was similarly adorned, a flat black color crisscrossed by white striped patterns, and a pair of beautifully adorned scabbards hung from his belt. His feet were unbooted and his clawed toes clacking on the cobblestones as he moved. A short tail wagged out behind him for balance. Overall, he looked something like a cross-between an 'average' kobold and a lizardfolk who had been raised by monks.

Don Lithec quickly made his way to Cavall and began searching for the home of Sir Arnek. Perhaps this mammal coin would allow him to buy passage out of this place, once his mission against this "Sinister force'" was completed.

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"When one treads once, they leave nothing. When many tread, they leave something." A almost pitched melodius muttering eminated from the "nightfolk" peering behind Don Lithec's shoulder. As the Kobold trod away, the muttering turned to light clicking noises, play-mocking the clacking claws of the footfalls.

The human was a full head taller than the Kobold (a human's head, not a kobold's), and completely hairless, as though through Alopecia. His tanned skin had almost a metallic sheen to it, although that could just be a shimmer from the domed sky above... A dark green liripipe of 3 feet, embroidered with a black pattern which appeared to be a thorn briar capped the stranger's bald pate, descending down over a leather jerkin and a simple chemise. These were belted with not less than four separate belts; a girdle, a baldric, and two thin, studded leather straps no wider than a single finger. All held a variety of stuffed pouches, bursting with all manner of bones, feathers, semi-precious tones and other arcane trappings; except for the baldric, which spanned the shoulder, fastening a short sword at the hip and an empty quiver upon his back. The pants were a jumble of different sized swirls, patterned in black over a rust color, and tucked at mid-calf into heavy-shod boots, with a studded steel toe, which a single thick, short horn was mounted.

"Work is work, but then, sometimes, it's fun and non-profitable; but of course, then it's called a hobby." the human smiled, parting tanned skin to reveal teeth that gleamed like new-fallen snow. The grin seemed to say so much about the creature as one of the hairless brows raised, and the opposite green eye squinted. The mind and soul that laid behind those orbs was keen, but it was difficult to tell if they were sharpened through intellect, experience, or madness.

Cracking his neck and popping three vertibrae, the Human turned his attention from the posting, back to the egressing kobold. "This one's steps make no path... but two...?" The thin, would-be harlequin shrugged. "There will be water if the powers will it. And if there is none, we shall thirst until we drink of blood." He paused, sniffing the air. " The wind voices a coming change here, and as I am not to argue with one that would give me breath, I am off!"

And with a sharp turn on one heel, completely revolving in the opposite fashion, and back yet again in 180 degrees, Kessel Char strode to the case of Sir Aranek, whistling tunelessly through his teeth.

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Like a strong salt-tinged breeze wafting into a fish market, the silver-clad form of Othelia strode with confidence across the cobbled street. It wasn't her ornamented silver armour, or her bejewelled sabre, that caught most people's eyes, but the thick, lined and weather-beaten face of a woman who had walked into the cutthroat world of men and thrived. Hers was not a pretty face, but rather the face of a middle-aged woman who had sailed the skies of Ouno and slipped between the cracks of the planes to deliver all the forbidden things that people wanted. She wasn't known as the Silverbird for nothing, for she flew swiftly and unerringly to her destination, and all dangers seemed to slide off her like rain off a silverbird's feathers.

A tough life had made Othelia lean and strong, but she still had that elegant and - some would say in whispers - snobbish demeanour that characterizes the Wind Dukes. Being an Air Genasi certainly had advantages in places where the locals where easy to impress, but in a planar metropolis like Carrigmoor, it wasn't worth much. Now, clad in a fine cloak and several turqoise and emerald shawls which cleverly concealed a harness of silver knives and leather armour, she prowled the streets for opportunity.

Business had not been that good in the Market. Too much competition meant smuggling rates were low, and even the bits of lossage weren't enough to pay all the garnishes and hamfists this kind of work required. Time to seek a more reliable employer, someone with both money and *power*. Sir Cavendish would do just fine, as long as he paid in advance.

"Sinister forces?"

Othelia snorted. A likely story. Whatever crusade the respectable Cavendish was planning would no doubt end in war and tears somewhere, but meanwhile there was always the possibility of profiting from the folly of idealism. She'd have to make sure that her back was covered. A young bravo of the "slow persuasion" would be needed. Someone with honour, loyalty...and not too much brains.

She followed in the footsteps of the little lizard and the superstition-adorned shaman, a smile breaking over her face like sunlight on a stormy day.

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Game: Through the Looking Glasses

He's not little, he's a full six feet! And I bet he's smarter than she is... Sticking out tongue

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"Primus, the One and Prime" wrote:
He's not little, he's a full six feet! And I bet he's smarter than she is... Sticking out tongue
A six foot tall kobold? Holy flap! BTW, don't anyone take offense at any insinuations I may make in my writing. It's what the character is thinking, not me. Smiling Othelia's an opportunist and a cynic, but she does have some admirable traits. More on that later.

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Game: Through the Looking Glasses

Dire kobold, Kryp. Larger, smarter, stronger. New race presented in BCD.

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Throughout the thoroughfare, Kessel muttered through teeth and lips, stepping on cobblestones, periodically skipping every so often, as though playing a game of hopscotch only he was privy to. Oblivious to any looks of the passers-by, he stepped in a patteren puntuated by each word of his riddle:

"Heads have I/
they count four/
with but one arm/
which helps me more/
no legs have I/
but necks to bend/
to bow to the blade's/
right div-i-dend!"

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Game: Through the Looking Glasses

Three imposing figures wind their way separately through the crowd, making their way toward the polished mansions of Cavall. Skirting around the outskirts of the Central Market they move among the poorer merchants who can't afford to set up in the middle of the open square. Limp vegetables and tarnished trinkets hang from the cloth stalls, though nothing even looks worth selling. Still, rag-covered humans crowd around the merchants shouting and fighting for the dirty goods. In Cragimoor, these poor wares can just barely be afforded by the commoners.
Up ahead a large crowd blocks the wide lane between stalls. Shouts and jeers rise above the ambient din of the Market, and as one moves closer the crowd turns out to be a large ring of onlookers, jostling and craning necks, surrounding two human men crouched and circling each other. One of them has a cruel-looking dagger which he tosses between his hands as he slowly steps around his opponent, a large man armed with a rusted iron bar. It isn't apparent what started the fight, but the dangerous glint in the eyes of the combatants shows that violence is inevitable.

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Don Lithec clucked his tongue in annoyance. It appeared that this crowd of men was blocking his path. He glanced to his left and right, trying to determine a course of action and then he sighed.

The kobold did not know what had started the battle, but it had all of the makings of a proper duel. Something within him wished to halt the altercation, but if the battle was honorable, there was nothing he could do. The samurai pushed through the crowd and stopped on the edge of the ring. His hand was on his wakizashi, waiting in case he needed to intervene. Turning to one of the members of the crowd at his right, he asked in heavily accented mammal-speak, “What began this duel? Was one of these men wronged by the other?”

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A large hole opened in the ring of onlookers around the tall kobold warrior. Most of the humans looked sharply away at the samurai's question, not wanting to attract the attention of this demon. A particularly grimy woman gave him a sidelong glance, and answered in a heavy accent of the streets. "'Wrong?' Ain't nuthin' wrong wit a gud ole tossle, eh? Tha knifer try'n' tek someun's purse an' he gittin' his!" She cackled to herself and watched the fight with great interest.

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Don Lithec blinked his large reptilian eyes and stared at the woman for a moment. He had absolutely no idea what she had said. Turning his attention back to the duel, the warrior watched with an air of curiosity.

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Kessel stopped at the border of the wall of humanity, discouraged that his game of hop-riddle had ended so abruptly. He looked around and under the gathered crowd, then proceeded to hop above the heads, getting a view of the situation. Once abreast, he joined the shouts of the crowd, yelling "Dance, dance, meat puppets! Cut your strings and bash the boxes, but be wary of the gan'jes jig!" as he clapped his hands in time.

MJ or Rhys, is there any way that Kessel could get to a higher vantage point for the combat? He's interested in seeing more, and possibly catching a view of the constibles (if any) before they come.

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Othelia watched the fight with curiosity. "No sense in getting involved, but it's free entertainment, so might as well hang around" she thought to herself. As she wove her lithe form through the crowd, she kept an eye out for the authorities. Would someone come to break up the fight in this stinking market? Might be a while. If opportunity knocks, always answer the door.

"Say, noble lizard," she addressed Don Lithec, "would you be interested in a small wager? 2 silver on the shivver on the left..." She wheeled around to the other people in the crowd. "Any other takers? 3/2 odds on the knifeman!"


[Othelia will make sure to have a quick getaway route in the law shows up]

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The man moved sinuously through the city, eyes alert and darting about in their sockets. He was human, but at first glance, his humanity was not apparent. He wore a serpentine skin that adhered to his body, covering him and masking his human form. The reptilian visage suited the man, in his opinion, and didn't hinder him in his endeavors, so he maintained it at all times. Sisenca and Niveral both were pleased with it, he hoped, each for their own reasons.

So, he looked like a humanoid serpent walking down the streets of the city. He wore little aside from his serpent skin; he didn't need to. A human in snake's clothing, the skin covered virtually his entire body and gave him the same benefit as normal clothing. A confident, sly smirk rested on his face as he strode along, following the trail to the meeting place for the "intriguing matter." It wasn't that Ashthalan was particularly interested in countering the "sinister force." However, seeking the Nexus could be a very expensive venture, and he needed some extra money.

He got so lost in his own musings that he nearly ran into one of the bystanders watching the fight. The serpent-priest stumbled and caught himself and almost glared at the figure before he realized what it was. A tall -- as tall as Ashthalan himself -- figure, scaly and saurian. The cleric hesitated a moment and quickly recollected his senses.

"I apologize, honored one," he said to Don Lithec with an almost-bow, "I will make sure to watch where I'm going."

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The kobold cast a sidelong glance at the woman who spoke. “No thank you,” he muttered. To bet on the lives of two men like this would be unseemly.

Easily compensating for the jostle, the warrior turned his reptilian head and gazed at the snake-skin clad cleric. “It is quite alright,” he said bowing in return. “You flatter me, sir, I am but a humble warrior. Do you speak the tongue of the people?” The last statement was asked in the slithering language of all reptile-folk, the speech known as Common in the Lizard Kingdoms but called Reptilian amongst the mammals.

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"Yes, I do," Ash replied in Reptilian, cocking his head to the side, "I apologize profoundly for not remembering my manners and addressing you in this tongue." The cleric bowed again, seeming very eager to please the kobold samurai.

An honored one! Here! Honored ones came in many sizes and shapes, but they were all reptilian in nature. Ashthalan had not had the pleasure of meeting very many of them. But this one was definitely one of Sisenca's children. As such, he deserved the utmost in respect. Sisenca would not have it otherwise.

Ash wasn't a reptile-supremacist by any means. However, he tended to hold humanity to a much higher standard. Only those "mammal" races that lived up to Niveral's expectations were worthy of the same treatment as Sisenca's children.

"May I ask what brings you here, honored one?" he asked, mimicking the sounds of the Reptilian language with perfect clarity.

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Kessel climbs atop a nearby crate, looking over the heads of the onlookers and the distracted merchant who didn't even see the tall human climb atop his wares. The men in the circle continued to glare at each other, until the knifeman lunged at the other, murder in his eyes. A quick side-step was enough to save the other man's life, but his shirt was still torn and blood ran down his side. He countered with a swing of the bar sending the knifeman sprawling towards the crowd. Grimy peasants rushed Othelia, eager to wager against the knifeman now.

From his vantage point, Kessel saw a group of soldiers making their way down the avenue. They obviously saw the fight, but didn't seem concerned, nudging each other and grinning rather than rushing to keep order. From the wide berth other market-goers gave them it was clear that the soldiers carried authority, but from what source it was hard to say.

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"Hurm..." Kessel sighed. "The long arm of the law may be as short as a rain in the desert, or it may just be amputated in this berg..." turning his attention back to the ring of humanity and noticing the parlay between the two lizard-folken. "Rattles, hisses, champing and clamping on peaks and valleys of red and white, while a great red wyrm a-writhes between. Some are flat hills, others - mountainous spires. Two sets make madness, four sets make parlay, more sets make a din," he said, clamping his hands over his ears.

Any way I can tell what language they're speaking from this distance? I'm not trying to read lips, but rather just get a gist of the phonetics. Kessel Speaks Draconic, Planar Trade and Elven.

Also- what kind of wares does the merchant carry? (The one that doesn't seem to be paying attention to me)

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”It is quite alright, I am surprised to find someone who knows the common tongue,” the warrior said, wincing as the knifer lunged nearly slaying his opponent. This was a duel to the death, the warrior realized, and every instinct said that he should step forward and stop it. But he held his ground; he dared not interfere in the rituals of these mammals.

”Please, sir, I will not hold on formalities. I am Don Lithec of the Black Egg Clan, pleased to make your acquaintance.”

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Collecting all the wagers from the hoi-polloi, Othelia then makes sure that no sharks are circling her and proceeds to gamble away, hoping that the odds she's offering will net her a tidy profit based on who she expects the winner to be. Peering cagily, she tries to ascertain the relative skill of the two combatants based on her own expertise.

Grinning at Don Lithec, she shouts out: "What about making it a threesome, lizardman?!! I bet yer mitts you could take them both on, no weapons, hey?"

Trying a bit of rabble-rousing, Othelia shouts out to the crowd to see if anyone would be interested in betting on the huge and strangely-appareled lizardman. As long as he used both his fists and not his katana, it might save some bloodshed among the other two. They seemed a bit more serious than they should be.

"How about it, folks, who's willing to bet on the Green Giant here to take them BOTH on?!"

[I'll duck if Lithec takes a swing at me. ;]

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Don Lithec would normally have silenced the woman but the battle was quickly turning into a murderous frenzy. Apparently these beings found the possible deaths of others as amusement – despicable. The samurai had no intention of watching any of these fools kill each other, not if he could help it, in any case. Besides, and the kobold was a little hesitant to admit it to himself, he was itching for a quick skirmish to loosen his muscles a bit.

Quite unexpectedly the warrior stepped passed the edge of the ring, his arms folded, his blades in their sheathes, and spoke, his tone commanding. “Please cease this battling. Someone will be gravely injured if this pointless fight continues and I will not let that occur.”

The trained eye could notice that the samurai had his weight shifted expertly; all of his attention was focused into dodging any blows which may possibly come his way – his eyes especially wary of the knife-wielder.

I’m Combat Expertising away all of my BAB… if any of these rapscallions want to attack Don Lithec they’ll have to overcome his 43 AC (44 for knifey)

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The man with the knife turned his head to sneer at the dire kobold, allowing his opponent to catch him in the ribs with the bar. The knifeman rolled on his shoulder, scrambled to his feet and made a desperate, nearly fatal jab at the larger man.
The knife clanged sharply against an intervening longsword in the suddenly quieted crowd. A sallow-skinned man in well-crafted armor deftly twisted the knife out of the other man's limp hand. Other men in similar armor disarmed the other combatant and the hands of both commoners were bound while the crowd shifted uneasily away. The spectator ring breaks up, avoiding the glances of the enforcers.
"Now what are our guests to think of fighting in the streets?" the pale leader of the men asked the nervous fighters. "The Phrengal elders will deal with these," he says with a quick, almost casual bow to the few merchants who remained watching.
The two bound men were led away through the cleared street leaving four figures behind: a tall and dark-skinned man whistling softly, a serpentine humanoid standing defferentially next to a stiff but dangerous dire kobold, and a silver-armored woman with blowing hair.

Othelia gains about 10 greenish copper pieces abandoned by onlookers.

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Kessel jumps down from his perch, landing with a pair of clangs as his cold-iron shod boots ring against the cobbles of the street. Steadying himself, he scans the others remaining after the crowd dispersal.

After a beat staring off after the armored enforcers, his shoulders hunch, his head dips, and once again, the left brow raises as the right eye squints, and parting lips reveal too-white teeth with a soft "klik" from a popping bubble of spit. "This IS a howdy-do. Mmmm, yes scale-father... I tell it like it tee - eye - is."

His attention turned back to the three others that remained, winding near the stalls, almost circling like a vulture as he looks up and down each. "Fore and aft, port and stern, pitch and... y'all," smiling fully and losing the quirksmirk as he bows, gesturing to the three.

"'Morrow," he states plainly to the three, standing up to his full near-seven feet of height, grinning from ear to ear, pursed lips hiding any sheen of his whites.

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Ashthalan had stiffened reflexively in shock when the honored one stepped forward to attempt to break up the fight. But as he watched, his respect for the honored one increased. Serpents came in many forms, he knew, but he had seen few who stood so strong and proud. This...Don Lithec...He seemed to glow with an aura of strength, resolve, and personality. The cleric could not resist hiding his approval of the kobold's actions. Still, he didn't want to seem to be some sort of sycophant, even if the kobold was an honored one.

"I am very impressed, Don Lithec," Ash said in the hissing Reptilian tongue, "And I apologize for not introducing myself. I am Ashthalan, servant of Niveral and Sisanca."

He turned and appraised the deep-skinned, hairless human that approached them. The man seemed odd, even eccentric. Ash was uncertain how to handle this newcomer. For that matter, there was also the windswept woman who had been encouraging the fight, placing bets, and taunting the honored one. He resisted an urge to sneer at her for her blatant disrespect. That would make him far, far too sycophantic.

"Hello," he greeted the other human, curious as he looked up at him if this man could see through his serpentine guise, "What brings you here?"

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Standing perfectly still, Kessel moved only his long, tanned lips, revealing the unnaturally white teeth yet again. His right hand, the gloved one with open fingers, flexed ever so slowly, opening and closing, popping knuckles as it curled back into a relaxed position. The smile dropped suddenly.

He looked straight into the eyes of the scaled human before him. "My... feet," he spoke in Draconic, testing if these scaled ones knew of the language of his dilluted blood. He had seen them speaking in that strange, hissing language before. Now that he knew he did not comprehend it, based on what he heard from the lips of the scaly humanoid, he smirked, some words could be similar, but... "euphamisms and malaprops and such," he thought out loud.

A deep clearing of his throat allowed Kessel to regain his composure. "I tread forward on the words of Feldgerdranggast the Copper Wyrm, and now hire my services as a protectorate and transmutor. I come here seeking employment from the wealthy Sir Aranek Cavendish, Archmagician and Merchant Extraordinaire, at least, that is what it says in his posting. I am here," he said, gesturing at the ground, "because my riddle was unanswered, stopped by a ruckus. You know the rest, and if you don't, well, you're a more oblivious lot than I thought." At the last bit, the quicksmirk formed again, and his eyes flowed, meeting each of the remaining three.

He turned back to the scaled human. "Or did you want the short version?"

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Don Lithec narrowed his eyes at the strange singing human. His love of speaking was quite unfamiliar to Don Lithec who had been taught to use as few words as possible to avoid confusion. Communication is about the conveying of meaning, his teacher had said. The samurai ran his tongue over his teeth.

”I am sorry sir, I did not I notice your riddle, I was preoccupied,” the warrior said in Draconic. For the benefit of the woman he switched back to mammal-speech. ”But you are also on your way to the abode of this Aranek Cavendish? And you, madame, I assume that you are as well, I noticed you on the street earlier. It appears we have a common destination,” he said politely.

“And you, Mr. Kessel, is this also your destination?”

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"I wasn't saying it for you," muttered Kessel, not unkindly. "Not that many notice the waxing of poet ticks, anyways..."

"But I go where the wind carries me news of need, or whim guides..." he scanned the domed sky absently, but quickly added, "...and this is as good as place as any," he shrugged.

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“Well then,” Don Lithec said, sensing that this exchange was at a close, “I believe I shall be on my way. If you truly travel in the same direction as I, you may accompany me, sir Kessel, or not at your leisure.”

With that, the warrior turned on his toes after nodding his head to the reptilian cleric deferentially and continued walking down the street towards the abode of his soon-to-be employer.

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Game: Through the Looking Glasses

The far side of the Central Market leads off to the posh buildings of Cavall, towering monuments to the dichotomy of wealth present in the city. The soldiers have disappeared by now with the bound men and the atmosphere in the bazaar has returned to its usual chaos. Skirting the stall of a glass merchant, who is yelling loudly and waving a color-changing vase from Faraenyl, you arrive at a winding avenue leading into the rich neighborhood. The streets are clear and easily walked, and before long you find your way to the address listed on the poster.
A small metal plate next to the hardwood door reads "Aranek Cavendish - Private Residence No Admittance Without Appointment." The expansive windows glow warmly in the fading, but still jarring, light that filters through the lime dome overhead, creating a curious mixture of everday and exotic.

Just wanted to get things moving, guys, if anyone had business in the Central Market we can deal with that later.

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The case was larger than Kessel had expected. "Hurm," he muttered, "Pleasing as it is, there might be an act of compensation going on, eh?", he spoke from the side of his mouth as an elbow jokingly jostled Ash's side.

The sorceror turned his attention to the plaque next to the door. His visage distorted to a scowl as he reached in and pulled out the paper announcement from the post. "Appointment?! They never said we had to have a bloody appointment..." Then, under his breath, "Of course, they never said we had to have an appointment that wasn't covered in bodily fluids, either..."

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After garnering her greenish copper "winnings' , Othelia follows the other three warriors (or so it seems to her) through the streets until she arrives at the sumptuous-looking residence. Keeping an eye peeled at all times for opportunities, she smiles casually at Don Lithec.

"No hard feelings, there, big guy? I knew you could easily defeat those two scrags. I can tell a master swordsman at a distance, even if you didn't have those fine swords with you. It's nice to see quality work."

Turning to the shaman and the lizard-follower, she says

"Well, cutters, would you mind if a lady does the honours?"

Then she knocks on the door, and gets ready for some hard bargaining.

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Game: Through the Looking Glasses

Ash grunted in mild irritation at the strange man poking him in the side with an elbow, but let it pass. The priest wasn't really a short-tempered sort who would react adversely to that kind of playfulness, even if he did find it rather annoying.

And he definitely found this man to be a bit more than "rather" annoying. The puns were going to drive him up the wall one day.

But he put those thoughts aside and nodded graciously to Othelia.

"Hopefully," he mused aloud, "the advertisement is enough of an appointment for us."

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It wasn't the promise of reward or a need of work that caught Nasim's attention. It was the nature of the job. 'Agents of a sinister force' sounded like an important and noble thing to be dealing with. So it was that Nasim Kiyanfar found himself holding the flyer (one of the flyers, he presumed) containing both the offer of work and the directions to the kip. Large cities were still confusing to him, and he had to often check the flyer and ask random people how to get there. When he arrived at the domicile of Aranek Cavendish, there seemed to be a small cluster of people blocking the door.

'Excuse me,' he says in lightly accented Planar Trade, then works to slip between the people and get to the door.

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Kessel let the stranger pass. 'Better to have the back of someone you don't know, than a front of one who wants to kill you,' Feld would say. He stood over the the right and behind the group, summarily scanning around the area.

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At Othelia's knock, there are footsteps from the interior. Nasim, a nimble swordsman with gleaming scimitars at his waists, pushes through the group and reaches the door as it is opened by a thin human in formal dress. The man involuntarily steps back with Nasim seeming to jump at him, but quickly regains himself and his eyes narrow in annoyance. With a loud sniff, and a crinkle of his aquiline noise as if he had opened the front door to a latrine, the thin man speaks stiffly. "May I help you?" his voice is deep but reedy, like an organ played in a gale.
Past him can be seen a richly decorated foyer and two strong men-at-arms flanking the doorway. The servant is certainly condescending but there is a barely tangible air of caution around him, as though he is prepared to slam shut the door at any moment.

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'Yes,' Nasim says, taking a small step back at finding himself so close to the man who opened the door. 'I am here about the offer of employment.' He holds up the flyer illustratively. Nasim didn't look back at the other people clustered around the door - it didn't seem to occur to him that they might be there for the same purpose.

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Kessel straightened himself once more, politely coughing and almost cutting into the last sylable of the new stranger's comments.

Now, at this time, I rolled some dice and got a 21 overall on a diplomacy check. If you wish to roll for us, MJ or Rhys, let me know. I can give a different and more appropriate response if you think another roll is in order.

"Squire, I believe we all wish audience with Lord Cavendish regarding his interest in hiring capable individuals in this request for summons," he said to the doorman, gesturing to the paper Nasim held. "If his Lordship wishes to see us each individually, I would humbly request that we be made aware of the timeframe involved so that we may make the necessary arrangements for lodging within the city."

And with that bit, Kessel bows heavily, pulling back his hood to reveal a stylized tattoo starting at his hairline and receeding backwards, a twisting black thornbriar which matches his hood in decor perfectly.

"If you would be so kind as to announce me, I would be most grateful, Kessel spoke as he arose. "I am known as Kessel Char, servant of Ferderdranggast, and Protectorate."

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The thin servant gave the flyer a glance that could only be described as disdainful, but then nodded and stepped back a little. "Lord Cavendish is busy at the moment, but can see you shortly. Please follow me to the downstairs parlor." Following the servant, under the watchful gazes of the guards by the door, you all head left down a corridor richly tapestried and lit by oil lamps. You are shown into a wide room filled with plush chairs and short tables carved of ebon room. The colorful carpet and the roaring fire create a pleasant and welcoming air despite the formality of the house.
"Find a seat, please," said the servant, and then he slipped out the door and closed it behind him. Some minutes later a side door, disguised as a bookcase, opens to admit a man handsomely dressed in ornate robes. His face is angular focusing on a sharp nose and hard green eyes. Neatly cropped black hair shakes as he makes an expansive sweeping motion with his arms.
"Welcome to my house," he says in a quiet, confident voice, "I understand you all have come in response to my posting." He looks around, fixing all five adventurers with an appraising look, before continuing. "Let me get right to the point: I am willing to hire you to unravel a plot against my life."

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"Hurm..." Kessel muttered. Then, straightening himself in the cusioned chaise, "You seem well-protected here, your Lordship," he said, gesturing around to the room, "What is it that has happened that has caused you to get all...* flibberty-gibblets?"

At the last part of the sentence, those closest to the sorceror could see a tick go off of his head, like a minor switch catching in his mind. After the pause in discussion, the quicksmirk formed yet again, with the dragonblood's head cocking to one side, and both of his hands turning, plams up, as the shoulders shrugged. The last two words caught in the air like stones, breaking the silence of the room, as they were said in a falsetto tone, like the squealing of a bat.

He quickly regained his composure, setting his hands down on his knees, but grasping them firmly, as though to control the twitch. The shoulders unhunched, but the strange squinting eye and arched brow remained. "I... I'm sorry. Pardon me. *ahem* Must have been something I ate."

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Othelia moved into the centre of the group and her shawls billowed around her somewhat pretentiously as she said,

"We are all here to help you in your time of need, your grace. We have here experts in the blade and the rune, seasoned travellers all. Who is trying to harm you, and why?"

She shifted a little in her stance, and smiled at Sir Cavendish. It was a well-practised smile, exuding both warmth and a calm confidence, as if the protection of a powerful lord of the city was something that she had done a dozen times already.

"Finally, and alas, forgive my manners for broaching the subject in such an insensitive manner, but there is also the matter of...compensation."

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Aranek Cavendish smiles smugly at the compliment to his home. He does indeed seem a powerful man, capable of protecting himself. Beyond the obvious comfort he lives in daily, Aranek exudes an inner strength of personal confidence and the strength of knowledge.
The smile drops at Olethia's soothing words, however. "Madame, you misunderstand. I have already repelled the attacker myself several times," a slight flicker of emotion here, "and, as the sorcerer indicated, my defenses in place at the mansion are also adequate." A quick sweep of Aranek's eyes around the room leaves all five adventurers wondering what in the room carries out this protection.
The archmagician then frowns slightly, as if confessing to a deep failing. "I am unaware of the source of the attacks, the assassin and her employer are suprisingly resistant to divination. Judging merely by appearance, the assassin is a daemonblood, which speaks ill of whoever may be directing her. The services I am willing to hire you all for is to investigate this mysteious assassin and discover whom she works for. As a prominent wizard and businessman I am unable to conduct such investigations myself. As for compensation I can offer you each thirty thousands in gold coin of the City."

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Kessel leaned back in his chair. "Tanar'ric bloodlines, eh? I do not mean to be disrespectful, miLord, but there are ways of pulling the wool on to differ-face oneself through majicks, I do it oft myself, as it helps stem the xaos... Zhaaaaaaahoooooouuuuuussssss..." the sorceror broke, once again retaining his composure, "Are you sure of the heritage of your assailant? Many stalk-slayers change their lookie-looks to appear different so that they may confuse and be-fuddle."

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Nasim nods. Disbanding assassins was certainly a thing of good. And yet... he had to wonder. 'Why is it,' he asks, 'if you do not mind my asking, that they wish for you to be slain?' He unwraps his turban as he speaks, and as he unwinds the cloth it seems to just disappear into the rest of his clothing.

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Aranek pauses for a moment. Perhaps these are not the caliber of adventurers he hoped to employ? "As I've mentioned, the motives of the assassin and her master are a mystery. The very question I wish you all to answer." Standing he begins to pace the room. "About a month ago a woman dressed in black and lightly armed attacked me while I was walking late at night. She had coppery skin, red eyes, and her hair was reminiscent of fire." He looks pointedly at Kessel: "A daemonblood.

"I repelled her but she quickly disappeared, by all appearances she was able to slip into another reality. A week later a similar event occured, after which I hired a local mercenary troupe for extra hands in this matter." He doesn't look pleased about hiring help, obviously Cavendish is used to handling problems himself. "They have been adequate in defense, though last week the assassin managed to slip into the mansion for some time before discovered. However such... straightforward individuals as the troupe employs are not very effective investigators. That's where such innovative people as yourselves would be usefully engaged."

He stops pacing and adopts the manner of a man who has won an argument. After a brief pause, he adds, "As for specifics, I will provide the sum upon delivery of information. If you require specific equipment I can provide an advance, within reason and deducted from the total."

Anyone wanting to pick up on additional clues about Aranek, make a Spot check.

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Spot=13

Don Lithec fidgeted slightly in his chair. These humans did not make their chairs in a fashion that accommodated those persons of privilege in society who are gifted with tails.

“Sir, is there any other information you can give us? Any leads with which we may begin our investigation, assuming that is what we intend to do? Or will we be forced to await another attack by this assassin and get information from her? This seems like an overly dangerous proposition. Meaning no disrespect to your ability to defend yourself, but each attack heightens the chance that the assassin will complete their objective.”

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Spot: 16

Kessel leaned forward, eyes scanning Lord Cavendish. His head dipped downward, green-hazel mix eyes peering under hairless brows. His chin resting on both weather-beaten, tanned hands.

Feld had spoke to him of High Lords before, and archmages. Study and time with their mouldy tomes had made them oblivious to the ways of sorcery. 'The quills just can't cut it,' his master would have said. 'Don't be cross with them, but don't pity them either, my charge. They are a different breed, and don't know the beauty of everything, many cannot see past the book in which their nose is planted.'

Kessel continued to peer and study their would-be employer. The quicksmirk took hold above his archer's hands. 'This... will be fun,' he said in his mind.

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"If I may be so bold, your Lordship, but a woman with coppery skin, red eyes and hair like fire may be another creature entirely. A fire genasi fits that description as well. It is best not to assume until all the facts are revealed. Strange deceptions may be at work here."

"Regardless, the offer is quite reasonable, and we'll make sure to investigate it thoroughly. I have knowledge of people and places here that would have surely come in contact with such a strange character. If you feel secure enough in your residence without our protection, then it is best that we pursue any leads in the field. Have you any other information, not matter how minor or unusual, that could provide a pointer?"

[Rolled 21 on Diplomacy to convince Sir Cavendish to treat us with respect and perhaps to reveal more information. Rolled a measly Spot 10 on Cavendish.]

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Spot check=36

Nasim merely nods. While he was studying the room and their employer, the others seem to have asked the relevant questions. Yes... the others. If they were to be working together it would be wise for them to get to know one another. Not now, though. Perhaps during a lull in the investigation.

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*Mephit James is out for a while, so I'm stepping in at this point*

Nasim, Ophelia, and Don Lithec notice a small blue mark on Aranek's neck, under his collar. A curious design: a circle with an outstretched flag, like a key.

"Sadly, I have no further information. As I said, this daemonblood--and that is what she is, I am sure; those shifty ones are always up to some misdeed--this daemonblood attacked me and departed. I happen to be a bit more learned than some doddering old fool, wispish one. However," his tone settling, "I know nothing of why or for whom this attack was committed."

Nodding to an attending servant, Aranek continues: "Illius, please see that the room is prepared." He turns back to you: "I thought we might discuss the specifics, assuming that you accept my offer."

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'I will accept,' Nasim says. 'I would be happy to help one in need such as yourself.' He has a tattoo on his neck as well. Interesting. I wonder if his carries a weight such as my own?

'If you don't mind my asking, what is the meaning of your tattoo?'

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