Gnikrul: It’s midday in Gigames, Urkhema’s belt lying fully black against the searing eye of the sun. Everywhere are lounging workers, avoiding the heat that comes with noon even in these southern highlands.
Gnikrul: Cam and Surville arrive on the outskirts of town, following rumors of some kind of performance act, or maybe warriors (they’re awfully vague rumors) creating excitement and trouble in the region. Achelion has tarried behind, catching up with an old friend he found in a caravan they met on the way.
Gnikrul: They arrive just in time to see a fierce, bearded man, consternation on his face, apparently asking directions before he plunges deeper into the warren of completed and half-constructed structures that is Gigames.
Surville: “Well, were finally here. I just wish we were coming into town with all of us present.”
Surville: “if this place is half as crazy as the rumors circulating, we will have a good go at it Cam.”
Starsinger: “Yeah… It’s a pity Dor can’t see this place.. I think he would like it.”
Gnikrul: A lazy looking worker peeks at you from beneath a white cowl. “You with that tall fellow? Your friend is in the Council building, yonder way.” He flails an arm towards the center of town. It’s pretty clear he’s mistaken; Achelion definitely couldn’t have beaten you here.
Surville: “Uhhh thanks…” Surville pauses to inquire the man’s name, ”..?”
Gnikrul: “Buto. Most folks just call me Buto…” He trails off, drifting back into siesta.
Surville: Surville softly speaks, “Buto,” and heads towards the council building.
Gnikrul: It isn’t very far. Gigames is still quite small, the pair is fairly certain it’s a white, domed building at the edge of the town’s Canal, its tenuous line to the life giving southern icecap.
Gnikrul: There are more finished looking buildings clustered at the center of town, and an open square with a massive grey stone set in the ground, covered in rough but well proportioned radial etchings.
Gnikrul: There are a few awnings that might hold merchant stalls at dawn or dusk, and everywhere there are piles of raw material for construction.
Gnikrul: Just as you draw in view of the front of this domed building, you again see the tall, fierce fellow, disappearing into it.
Surville: “that must be our ‘friend”
Starsinger: “He seems very angry… maybe we owe him money?”
Surville: “with a face like that, no way. Probably more likely that I killed his brother”
Surville: “I would recognize that face anywhere, never seen him before.”
Gnikrul: Sef enters the building, oblivious to his observers. Inside he sees a domed chamber with a round gallery at one end, where a number of aged fellows sit.
Gnikrul: Many of them are in clerical garb of some kind. Definitely not what passes for clerical garb among your own sect, though.
Gnikrul: They seem to be deliberating amongst themselves, facing an empty podium.
BlackRequiem: Sef scowls upon them as he looms near-by. “Pah.”
Starsinger: “Do you think we should follow him?”
Gnikrul: A few of them raise an eyebrow at the strange, fiery intruder and his scorn. One wizened priest or whatever these fellows are, however, grins bemusedly, eyeing you directly.
Surville: “lets let him do his thing, he seems he’s got business here, lets watch for a minute”
Gnikrul: The front door of the building is really just a hole, with a flap of fine cloth. The windows are much the same. Eavesdropping will not be difficult.
Surville: Surville gets close enough to eavesdrop and places ear close to the window.
Gnikrul: The cleric eyeing Sef stands and moves forward, fingering his jaw in curiosity. “Can I help you? I think I may know who you are…”
BlackRequiem: Sef snorts contemptuously upon seeing the clergy of a weak and false god.
Gnikrul: The man shrugs and returns to his discussion.
LogicNinja: Just as Sef gets boisterous, Mal’s head peeks out from behind a curtained-off side room. “Hey, is that—Sef! I could tell by the goat smell. Leave them alone, they’re taking care of Mieu.” The Grakkor’s blood-scarlet hair has been taken out of its usual bindings, and hangs down around his face.
BlackRequiem: ..Snuck up on during his banter he turns defensively towards the cleric and reaches for the hilt of his sword. “Back, you deceiver!”
LogicNinja: “—Sef,” Mal says, in that oh-so-familiar tone. “Manners.”
Gnikrul: Seeing that Mal is awake and knows Sef, Brother Hallasha wisely ignores him.
BlackRequiem: Sef grunts and spits dismissively off to one side and releases his grasp on his weapon. “Bah.”
LogicNinja: “Did you catch the guy?” Mal emerges entirely, having changed out of his traveling garb to his usual flashy attire. “Where the fuck’s Ash, anyway?”
BlackRequiem: “We did indeed catch the Aborite whoreson and rightly slew him. His body will rot for all eternity on the sands of the waste! ...... The witch is with our companion, pity on his poor soul. I should take her tongue before her blathering drives us all insane.”
LogicNinja: “Yeah, but where in the Waste are they?” Mal raises a finger to shush Sef as he mentions ‘Aborite’. “One of the ones you guys left for us poisoned Mieu. They’ve got a healer here who might be able to pull her through.”
Gnikrul: At this, the cringing man leaps up. “R-REALLY!? She’ll be ok!? Oh, thank Ydra!”
BlackRequiem: “They are indeed here. Ash remains on the fringes of this town. I did not trust the she-devil to not make a scene in a more ‘civilized’” He scowls once more at the Elantan clerics, “place such as this.”
LogicNinja: “Aah, she’ll be fine,” Mal waves a hand dismissively. “I think I got through to her.”
BlackRequiem: “Ydra?” Sef inquires, a dark look on his face.
Gnikrul: The man’s mouth hangs open. Someone talked to him for once!
Gnikrul: He squeaks: “She’s, uh, m-m-my family’s p-p-p-patron god… of the harvest?”
LogicNinja: Mal glances from the man to Sef, still confused. “Yeah… what?”
BlackRequiem: Sef glowers with contempt. “A false idol for weak men!”
LogicNinja: “You always say that.”
BlackRequiem: Sef looks incredulously at Mal. “Are you daft, boy? Barbarians.. Feh! Our friend waits on the outskirts of this miserable place with the woman. He waits for us to return. We had only your trail to lead us here so your presence was not assured.”
BlackRequiem: “I went in alone to find you and the girl and indeed here you are.”
BlackRequiem: “So, now if you would kindly gather her and let us leave this disgusting hole…”
LogicNinja: “Maybe you missed the part where she’s poisoned? She’s gonna be here a while, they’re fetching an expert on poisons or something, then they can try to figure out an antidote.”
BlackRequiem: “Weak. Why do we even bother bringing her then? A prostitute would suffice!”
LogicNinja: “Hey, fuck you,” Mal says easily, showing off sharp Grakkori teeth. “She was with me before you ever showed up. We couldn’t save Dar, but I’m not leaving Mieu this easy, got it?”
Starsinger: “Boss… someone else is listening…” Cam whispers to Surville.
Gnikrul: Just around the corner from Cam and Surville, a man leans near a window, apparently relaxed, his hat over his face… but his posture betrays him. He is also listening in.
Starsinger: “Should we say something to him? Eavesdropping is rude…”
Surville: Without tact and loudly “Well, as I see it, this is more of a performance, look at the audience.”
Starsinger: “No… the one guy seems really upset about his girlfriend.”
Surville: “she’ll survive, the poisons bad, but she isnt that far gone yet”
BlackRequiem: Sef chuckles dryly. “I don’t know what’s more pathetic. That you’re taken with such a weak woman, or that you allow her to control you this much! The great Malzen of Grakkor! Ha!”
BlackRequiem: “But” he stops laughing. “Loyalty has it’s place. The death bed is not it.”
LogicNinja: Mal snorts. “If I were taken with her, she’d already be taken. We’ve gone out of our way for you before, re—hey, who the fuck is out there?” Mal raises his voice.
Gnikrul: Suddenly the eavesdropping man stands straight and swiftly moves to the door. He will have to go past Surville and Cam…
Starsinger: Cam looks pleadingly at Surville, and mouths “Do something”.
Surville: Surville mouths: “follow,” ducks inside and then stands aside, observing.
Starsinger: Cam nods and follows Seville.
BlackRequiem: Sef grabs his sword and unsheathes it. “Spies? Aborite assassins!? Who is it, boy!? I will drench the walls in their blood!”
BlackRequiem: He jerks his head around, alert and.. jumpy.
LogicNinja: “Was that you two? Who the fuck are you?”
Gnikrul: The eavesdropping man steps straight past the other newcomers, to Sef.
Gnikrul: “I couldn’t help but overhear you… brother?”
Surville: “Neither could we”
BlackRequiem: “Explain yourself or I will take your head.”
BlackRequiem: Sef slowly re-sheathes his sword and mimics the gesture. “What have you?”
Starsinger: “What… no.. this guy at the docks, you see, he told us that your friend was looking for us. And then we went to follow him, and we ended up overhearing about your girlfriend being poisoned, and then we noticed that guy listening in when he had no business, so we were waiting to say something to him when you started yelling at us, sir.”
LogicNinja: Mal groans. “She’s not my girlfriend, and I think whoever that guy at the docks was, he was bullshitting you. I’ve never seen you two before, and it doesn’t look like he has, either,” Mal indicates Sef with a jerk of his thumb. “Sef, who’s /that/ guy?”
Gnikrul: The man glances sideways to the gallery of old priests, in their lethargy only now getting into a proper state of shock and interest at this gaggle of strangers in their sanctuary, as he speaks to Sef: “I have friends who may desire your company, and your strength…”
Gnikrul: He clearly isn’t comfortable in front of these fellows.
BlackRequiem: Sef stares briefly and indifferently at the newcomers, the way one might an insect on the wall before returning to the eavesdropper. “My strength is mine and only mine. What do you want of my company?”
Starsinger: “Oh, I’m sorry, sir. Just, from the way your friend was talking, it seemed pretty obvious that whoever she was, she was very special to you. He sounded kind of like a bitter old man, jealous of young love, if you don’t mind my saying.”
BlackRequiem: Sef spits on the floor again but otherwise pays no heed to Cam’s words.
LogicNinja: Mal seems to take a moment to consider whether or not he should be angry, and settles for snickering. “Yeah, well, that’s Sef for you. Still, there’s no love there. We’ve just worked together a while, is all.”
LogicNinja: “What, haven’t you ever heard the story of Malzen of Grakkor and the Bandits of the Grey Waste? That was us.”
Surville: “I guess the guy must have mistaken us for friends, I guess we just look like your type.”
Gnikrul: The man stares Sef straight in the eye, pointedly trying to give you subtext through emphasis in his words. “I head the bricklayers. We believe that a storm is coming, and wish only to ensure that the right people are prepared. When you are ready to talk, ask a worker for Talden and you will find me.”
Gnikrul: Without waiting for reply, he smartly wheels and strides out.
Starsinger: Cam’s face is blank. “I don’t think so. Were you the Bandits of the Grey Waste?”
LogicNinja: ”...you’re shitting me, right? No, I’m Malzen of Grakkor, and we rid the world of the bandits.”
Starsinger: “Oh, well thank you then. I was on an expedition in the grey waste not too long ago. I’m glad you got rid of the bandits.”
LogicNinja: Mal looks Cam up and down, skeptically. “You were in the Grey Waste? And you made it out alive? I’m skeptical.”
Surville: “The kids with me”
LogicNinja: “Yeah? And who are you?”
Starsinger: Cam scowls. His one pet peeve is people not taking him seriously. “I doubt you ever went into Abaddon’s Mouth and came back.” He folds his arms over his chest and looks a little sulky.
Surville: “Surville Dubar, son of Ashra Dubar leader of the late House of Dubar”
Surville: “Hah calm down big guy.” Surville pats Cam on the head.
BlackRequiem: “I will go fetch the boy. Remain here, Malzen. Not that you are lacking for strange company..” Sef says as he moves for the door.
Surville: “Aren’t you going to ask us why we really are here?”
BlackRequiem: “Ask the Grakkori. I could care less.” And with that Sef slips out the entrance and into the baleful mid-day.
LogicNinja: “Yeah, fine. Who was that guy, anyway?” Mal shrugs, then glances back to Surville and Cam. “Late House, huh? What’s the point in wearing its name, then? Make your own reputation.”
LogicNinja: “—I thought you were here because some ass down at the docks thought we were looking for you.”
Starsinger: “Sometimes noble houses make a comeback, my old… boss used to say that house Ebonhold was on the rebound.”
Surville: “I thought at least my reputation would precede itself, Yours does and your friends. We have actually traveled here because of word of your group.”
Starsinger: “See, I told you the Dockworker said something about that….”
LogicNinja: “House Ebonhold? Well, we’ve got one them in there possibly dying of poison, so, not so much. —yeah, that’s what our reputation is supposed to do. We’re famous. Never heard of you, though. So what exactly do you want with us?”
Surville: “let’s just say word of mouth spreads fast and wide, while some might just be rumors, underlying truths still remain.”
Surville: “We came to the city for work, hoping to find some with you.”
LogicNinja: Mal’s thin brows shoot up. “Yeah? And what makes you think you can handle our kind of work? Just yesterday eleven motherfuckers jumped us out in the desert.”
Starsinger: Cam looks at Surville, his face asking for permission to show Malzen.
Surville: Surville nods.
Gnikrul: Now that Sef has taken his leave, Brother Hallasha has quietly come nearer. At this, he suddenly looks worried. ”...Malzen, why don’t you introduce me to your friends, here, hmm? In the infirmary, perhaps?”
Starsinger: Cam looks around for witnesses, “Hey… there’s a lot of people here that I don’t want to terrify… can we do this someplace quieter?”
Gnikrul: The gallery of clerical types is starting to look properly consternated. Again, it seems it takes them about five times as long to react to something as it should.
LogicNinja: “They’re not my—yeah, sure, what the hell. In fact, fuck, let’s go do this over drinks. Uh, you do drink, right?” The last bit is directed at Hallasha.
Surville: “Drink, haha, you clearly obvious you don’t know my reputation”
Gnikrul: Hallasha smiles. “Anything that contains Her sacred waters is likewise sacred.”
LogicNinja: “Oh, see, now that is a good philosophy. C’mon.”
Starsinger: “I shouldn’t drink.. someone has to look out for the boss.”
Gnikrul: Hallasha herds everyone out gently, clearly relieved to have you all away from his peers.
LogicNinja: “Are you even old enough to drink, kid?” The comment is a little more cutting considering that the drinking age on Mahid is approximately walking age.
Surville: “I wouldn’t piss him off, you might be taken a fool”
LogicNinja: “You’re kidding, right?” Mal doesn’t look like he’s about to start taking Cam seriously any time soon.
Gnikrul: Amusingly, the main public house seems to be right across the street from the council building. Now that’s smart city planning. Hallasha guides the quarrelsome trio inside.
LogicNinja: Mal throws the doors open and swaggers in first, picking out an empty table… or creating one, if none exists.
Gnikrul: It is dark, and like most places around here apparently, unfinished. It stinks of swarthy laborers, but strangely enough none appear to be present.
LogicNinja: “Hunh. Not a real popular place?”
Gnikrul: Hallasha’s brow crimps momentarily. “Yes… actually it is. Hrm.”
Starsinger: “Maybe they heard the great jerkass of Grakkor was coming and left.”
Gnikrul: There is a Szeren man behind the bar. Portly, at least by pioneer standards.
Gnikrul: He scowls at the four of you.
Surville: “Hah, what a wonderful jackass that Sef is”
LogicNinja: “Watch your mouth, kid. —hey, got anything worthy of being called strong?” Mal raises a hand in the barkeep’s direction, clicking coins together.
Surville: Surville walks up to the bar and brings back a dark brown liquor in glasses for all.
Surville: “Here, maybe this will quiet your coins”
Surville: Then, under his breath: ”..and your mouth.” Surville shoots his drink.
Gnikrul: The bartender plays his role dutifully, if with little enthusiasm.
Gnikrul: Hallasha sips and prepares to watch the spectacle.
Starsinger: “Boss… be careful, I don’t really want a repeat of what happened the last time…”
Surville: “there were only 2 of them…”
Surville: “and they multiplied… themselves… by.. 3 or more. I made out ok”
Surville: “but were not here to fight.”
Starsinger: “I practically had to sew your head back onto your body…”
LogicNinja: “Hey, where the fuck is everyone?” Mal calls in the bartender’s general direction. “Did you poison them all or something?”
Gnikrul: The man grunts. “Do I look like a foreman to you? I don’t know what all those crazy Forgeman lunatics do.”
LogicNinja: “Forgeman?” Mal glances at the priest with them. “I thought this was an Elanta kind of town.”
Gnikrul: Hallasha interjects, lowly so that the bartender cannot overhear. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to find skilled masons in the South who aren’t of that blasted faith?”
LogicNinja: Mal pauses for a beat. ”...no.”
Gnikrul: “So far they’ve mostly kept to themselves and done what they were paid for. They made a scene when we refused them time for their heathen celebrations, but otherwise they have been satisfactory.”
LogicNinja: Mal’s palm hits his forehead. “You cut into their religious celebration time? You don’t know a lot about dealing with people, huh.”
Gnikrul: Hallasha waves it off. “They know who they’re dealing with. The ways of Her service are not secret.”
LogicNinja: “Anyway. Surville, right? What was it you wanted to show me?”
Surville: “Its not I, it’s Cam, only he can show you”
LogicNinja: “Well?” Mal turns to Cam.
Starsinger: “Hold very still and don’t move…”
LogicNinja: Mal raises a brow, leaning forward in his chair a bit, pulling his legs in.
Starsinger: Cam pulls a sphere out of a pouch on his side and points at Surville. A boom is heard and Mal flies back about twenty feet.
LogicNinja: Mal tilts backwards, flying out of his chair—and twists into a flip that turns into a backwards handspring as he nears the floor, landing on his feet with knives in his hands. With a sharp thunk, they bury themselves in Cam’s chair, on either side of him.
LogicNinja: “Hey, what the fuck?”
Starsinger: Cam grins, “Hey! Be careful, someone could get hurt.”
Surville: Smirking, Surville walks over to lend a hand. “Told you not to piss him off”
LogicNinja: Mal looks down at the proffered hand, up at Sur, and smiles a very sharp smile, then looks back to Cam. “Yeah, you. What the fuck was that, kid? Don’t try that again, or you’ll get cut.”
Starsinger: “You asked what I could do…”
BlackRequiem: As if on cue to make matters worse, Sef bursts in through the door. “Grakkori! We leave this place. Now. Go and bring the girl.”
Gnikrul: Hallasha is quite stunned by this rapid chain of events. “By the goddess…”
Gnikrul: ...The bartender on the other hand, seems oblivious.
LogicNinja: “So you can shove people around a bit if they let you, big fucking—” He whips around as Sef bursts in. “Oh, fuck me like a goat, what the fuck did you do NOW? We can’t move her!”
BlackRequiem: Sef pauses a moment taking in the situation and then calmly reaches for his sword. “I don’t have time for fights, if that is indeed what this is.”
Starsinger: “Hey, Boss, if you really wanna work with these guys, we gotta help him save his girlfriend.”
LogicNinja: “She’s n—” Mal pauses, biting his lip for a moment, and then Mieu’s reactions when she wakes up strike him as a lot more entertaining than insisting on accuracy. “Yeah, let’s do that.”
Surville: “What, already?” Surville takes an entire glass of whiskey down and stands up, quickly removes the daggers from the chair and hands them back to Mal. “Next time these daggers come that close to Cam again, I assure you its owner will not live another minute”
BlackRequiem: Sef grunts and jerks Mal closer by the scruff his his neck to demonstrate the importance of this—or his impetuousness.
LogicNinja: “Did you just threaten me? I don’t think you know who you’re dealing with after all. —what, dammit?” Mal’s impending diatribe is diverted by Sef’s approach. “Seriously, what the fuck did you DO?”
BlackRequiem: Sef warily eyes Hallasha. “Not here, boy. Not here.”
LogicNinja: “Okay, I’m coming, but this better be so fucking urgent it’s about to explode. I swear, I’ve had just about enough today.”
Starsinger: Cam says quietly, “It’s called ‘Magic’ if I could explain it, it wouldn’t be ‘Magic’ now would it?”
BlackRequiem: Sef quickly steps outside back into the searing heat.
Surville: follows pulling out his flask for a sip, passing it to Sef You missed the fun, here’s yours”
LogicNinja: “I’ll let it pass this once,” Mal snaps in Surville and Cam’s general direction, hurrying after Sef. “Look, will you just fucking tell me what the fuck you’ve gotten us into?”
Gnikrul: Hallasha seems to know when he’s not wanted, and remains seated inside, contemplative.
BlackRequiem: Outside he speaks again, still low but audible. “This town and all who remain in it past this night will undoubtedly perish. Something …. horrible is about to happen.”
LogicNinja: “That’s not very helpful.” Mal’s voice has gotten that ominous false-cheerfulness.
Starsinger: “We have to help everyone!”
BlackRequiem: “The workers. Do you see them outside? No? Understandably. But they pay too little heed to them. In the dark places they’ve had their minds poisoned and they conspire, like cowards and weaklings, to purge this place by fire .. or worse.”
Gnikrul: ...Now that Sef mentions it, the central commons does appear largely empty of previously seen lazing laborers.
BlackRequiem: “Something is surely amiss. Dul-Rathok would not condone such treachery, nor would his followers. We do not.. hide our tests of men from plain view.”
Starsinger: “Surely you meant that you were going to evacuate as many people as humanly possible first…”
BlackRequiem: “Or the faith here is truly weak after all…”
LogicNinja: “Yeah?” Mal jabs a finger into Sef’s chest. “Actually, that sounds right up your trade route. I could swear you’ve grumbled about doing as much at least thrice today.”
BlackRequiem: Sef spits once more on the ground. “I do not care what happens to this town but I will not play part in this scheme nor will I allow myself to be caught in its wake. I am not a murderer or a coward.”
LogicNinja: “What’s the big deal, anyway? Who’s in charge? We can go, slit a few throats, and they’ll be running too scared to burn anything.”
Starsinger: ”... I suppose violence could be the answer.”
LogicNinja: “It usually is.”
BlackRequiem: Sef ignores Mal for the moment. “Burn? They poured their flesh and blood into these buildings. If they truly are of the Faith they would not glut themselves on its destruction. There must be some other means of..”
BlackRequiem: He looks startled for a moment. ”.. Do any of you know how many of them are working on the canal?”
Surville: “How many are we talking here? I saw at least a dozen laborers earlier and that was just following Sef”
LogicNinja: Mal shrugs. “I’m not too worried about numbers. They’re laborers, not warriors.”
BlackRequiem: “It doesn’t matter what they are if they can drown us in a flood!”
LogicNinja: “What? How the fuck?”
BlackRequiem: “Fools.” He pauses and nervously scratches at this beard. “Damned fools.”
Surville: “He’s right, they can easily drown the entire town”
BlackRequiem: “The canal! It’s madness, but.. they could divert the water could they not?”
BlackRequiem: “This one has the right of it!”
Starsinger: Cam heads back into the bar and talks to Hallasha. “Sir, we have a problem that I think you should know about.”