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Streets of Sigil(Lady's Ward)

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JasperDM's picture
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Streets of Sigil(Lady's Ward)

The spires of the majestic bladed buildings soar all about, and people of all sizes, shapes and origins move through the streets, though more thinly than in most wards...

Enzo Sarlas's picture
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Streets of Sigil(Lady's Ward)

The Lady's Ward

"JasperDM" wrote:
Jaspar looks over at Enzo. "Have you any questions?"

Enzo listens intently, taking in the alhoon's explanation. As they walk, Enzo's eyes remain focused on Jaspar, not the road ahead of them, not the cobblestones beneath his feet. He relies on other, smaller eyes for such simple matters. Many find this disturbing, but also find themselves opening up to such a seemingly attentive listener. He does not interrupt, but when Jaspar finishes, Enzo looks straight into Ibid's eyes. But he sees nothing, no trace of discomfort, no secret plea for help, not even the look of one who wishes the topic of conversation would change. Agreement. Enzo nods once.

"Thank you for taking the time to explain your relationship with Ibid, Jaspar. I must confess it does set my mind at ease somewhat, though not entirely."

Enzo studies the ground passing beneath his feet. The pause in conversation is long and borders on awkward silence.

"Words are powerful, dangerous things, Jaspar. Take it from one who has no other recourse for communication. Words shape belief, define reality. Take the word 'thrall' for example. It has a very clear meaning. It means, to most, one who is intellectually enslaved to another. When you describe Ibid as your 'thrall', you are defining him, whether you like it or not. Words shape belief, and belief shapes reality. I counsel you, without judging, to choose your words carefully."

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Jaspar nods, and, made to think before he speaks, takes a whole moment before responding. "Of course I agree. But there are some caveats of course. I am attempting to use a poor Common translation from a Drow-speech approximation of a illithid concept. There are no words in telepathy when used as illithid use them, as we speak in four-level conceptual identity. As most non-illithid cannot recieve illithid thought without reeling, I am forced to compress and over-simplify to the point of losing the most pertinant points.

But your point is made, as even that conversation we have had has ingrained a feeling of slavery and unwillingness in your mind, and tainted your belief. Therefore, perhaps it is best if Ibid explains it. You may find he is more eloquent than he seems."

With this, the tall, swarthy man turns to look at Enzo, his demeanor calm, and unfazed by the mention of his life in the battle pits of the Inquisition. His voice is smooth and calming, betraying his old life as a bard. "You may address me when you wish, Master Enzo. There is no great hurry, as we will have much time upon the Enlightener, though there, my duties are much more pressing. For the time being, I am in a rather pleasant mood, having had a good human cooked meal and decent conversation." He smiles wryly, and cuts a look at Jaspar. "If there is any few things that grates on me about Quasuropsine, it is that he can neither cook, nor dance the subtleties of conversation as a human or elf can. He never eats, and never learned the culinary beyond illithid recipes, which are utterly inedible for most civilized folk, and he prefers telepathy to the sparring match that is speech. It does the heart good to put into port to see people a bit more like myself."

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"Hmmm? Oh, sorry. I guess I was daydreaming for a moment there."

Enzo sidles over to walk next to the alhoon's thrall. "You're absolutely right, Ibid. When I get back to the city after an extended trip, there's very little I look forward to as much as a good meal that suits my taste. Gods but what some races will eat!" Enzo risks a glance at Jaspar. He forces himself not to shudder.

"As for conversation, you might say it's my profession. But delivering messages is about much more than the words. I've heard it said that the medium IS the message, and I suppose that makes sense. Take me, for example. I'm not the sharpest-dressed messenger, and I won't fawn all over my clients or their correspondents. I don't put up with idling around all day waiting for an audience and I don't hold with anyone putting themselves above me. But I'll drag my sorry ass through acid swamps and battlefields to carry out my duty. And when I show up, all covered in scorchmarks and roaddust, and not willing to put up with being jerked around by petty officials, well, that's as much a part of the message as the scroll I deliver, isn't it? When someone receives a message from me, they know that whoever sent me was serious and valued the contents of the message they sent."

"Don't get me wrong, I can fence with words and have had call to do so on many occasions. Afterall, for the cost of my services, my clients expect more than a parrot. They expect me to represent them, to negotiate on their behalf, and get the response they need, rather than the one that's offered."

"This... ship of yours. Where does she sail? What strange places has she taken you to? I have no experience with these types of vessels, to be honest. I prefer portals. Haven't come across one yet that I haven't been able to 'fix'."

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Ibid pondered for a moment, never breaking stride. "The Enlightener is something very similar to a mobile fortress, but of an illithid design. The ship it is based on uses what Jaspar refers to as a "psionic chain drive", where four illithid share the duties of converting their psychic energy into motive force for the ship, which allows it to fly through the air, and through space. The backup was a device that sucked the souls out of thralls, using them to power the vessel.

"The Enlightener has neither. We have what is called a "spelljamming" helm, which converts mine or Jaspar's magical ability into speed and flight. When one of us is powering the craft, the other walks the decks or rests, as possible. Jaspar can power the craft for weeks at a time, while I keep lookout. When there is trouble, I take the helm, while he defends the ship.

The Enlightener is also a gigantic warship, known as a dreadnaught. Normally equipped to carry over one hundred illithid and an elder brain, when the ship appeared to Jaspar, it had most of its thrall and crew chambers replaced with ritual halls, libraries, and a crystal array which provides the craft its planeshifting abilities and planar defenses. It can hover in place, or land on liquids, or submerge beneath them.

So, functionally, the Enlightener is a rather fearsome planeshifting, flying wizard's tower and psionic sanctuary. Jaspar and I got it about two years ago, and have been using it to make his research work easier. We have a permanent berth at the Rock of Bral, on the Prime, and have used it to visit a great many places, but ironically, we have yet to find a cavern in Pandemonium large enough to planeshift the Enlightener into. I personally find it most soothing when we go to Air or Water. Those planes are beautiful, and so awesome in scope."

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Hmph. I have no experience with such travel. Through space, you say? But space is so vast, it must take ages to go anywhere. What of the Astral, do you sail it as well? Or the Ethereal?

I have visited the City of Glass on a few occasions. I have not seen the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls, but I hear it as beautiful as the nereids.

Why do you seek a berth in the madness of Pandemonium? I don't care for that place much I can tell you, though business does take me there... rarely, thank the Powers.

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Distance concerns in space are minimal, with Jaspar's magical power and lack of need for supplies leaves us a great deal of air and food for long distance travel, and gating over to Air quickly resupplies any loss of atmosphere. Mostly, we skip most of the travel time by teleporting the ship to a known port.

We have spent a great deal of time on both the Ethereal and Astral. I find the Astral pleasant, but we rarely spend any time there, with the rrakkma constantly pursuing us. The githyanki have some serious problems with illithids, and Jaspar and the Enlightener are a flag of war in front of them.

As for Pandemonium, we are currently dabbling in a xenohistorical question Jaspar is considering. He believes that the illithid race is not part of the divine creation, and in fact came from the Far Realms. Due to the evidence in a tome we recently acquired, the Illithiad, we're following up on some human researcher's work. This has involved some Astral work, as well as some in Pandemonium, but since portals of the size of the Enlightener are rare, it is difficult to make for a precise landing point in its cavernous depths. With his work thus far, we believe there is some link between those two planes and the origins of the illithid race. We are attempting to communicate meaningfully with the kaorti, but it seems that they are unwilling to speak, preferring to flee.

(Editted to repair sentence fragment.)

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It...umm... sounds very... scholarly. Fewer and fewer of Enzo's serpentine locks seem to be paying attention to either Ibid or the undead illithid.

So, this portal we're headed for... you say it leads to one of the Primes? Anything remarkable, or just the usual backwater...

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"We are headed to the Rock of Bral. It could be considered Sigil's parallel on the Prime, much as the Great Deeping Delve or the City of Brass are called in the Inner Planes. Much as Sigil is a hub of travel for planar portals, the Rock is where most of the ships like Jaspar's dock, though next to none of them can planeshift. You will see beholders and illithid, drow and elf, dwarf and man, giff and neogi. An array of creatures to make the bustle of Sigil seem almost... homogenous. There we will board the Enlightener, and we will see if you are willing to join us on the next leg of our journey."

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"I thank you for the invitation to travel with you, but I feel I must decline, at least right now. Truth is, I've errands here in Sigil that I must attend to, and clients who pay to have me available. I do wish you well with your research. If you should ever have need of my services as a courier or representative, please look for me at the Palace of the Jester."

Enzo pauses uncomfortably, shakes hands with the alhoon and his thrall, and then makes his way back to the Fortune's Wheel.

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Years later...

The dreadnaught 'Enlightener' puts in at the Rock of Bral, out in the chaos of wildspace, and swiftly disembarking is the alhoon cerebromancer, Jaspar Arelius, and a new thrall, a lovely young catgirl who wears a collar, and no chain. He steps onto the docks, and pauses to raise a human skull to his line of sight, and think... "Farewell, Ibid. I shall remember you fondly for all time." With that, he affixes it to a golden skullcap at his belt, and beckons to the scantily-clad catgirl. "Come. It is time I checked in with an old friend." With that, he makes his way swiftly to the portal to Sigil, and into the great and wonderful City of Doors.

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