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A Quest for Five (Chapter 0-1 - Raveran, Party Setup)

Postby Vajra » Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:17 am

(*glares at Cleric* I didn't know that, did I? :P)

The masonry-enclosed space seemed to amplify the robed and armoured figure's voice; low, thoaty and bearing no little trace of feminist authority.

"So you found yourself a party? About time. You realise how worthless you are without a woman looking after you?"

"That's how it works in this society. Though, at this hour you perhaps require the assistance of a lowly son-of-a-whore like myself," the man grinned. "You after all are in no position to fend for your declining reputation."

Or myself? Come on, say it you bastard - and I'll rip your filthy tongue out. Typical irritating Illhar'dro brat... When will they just shut up for once!?

"...You obviously suffer from ill-management of your personnel, Vanya - they are simply sent out to die against a foe of superior organisation and tactical prowess - surely you would know better than to send lightweight skirmishers on piecemeal frontal assaults against armoured troops. And look! None of your engagements of late involve forces larger than a squad in size!"

"Watch your tone!"

"Forgotten what you learned in officer school, dear lady?"

"ENOUGH! I swear - once I get out of these accursed bandages I will personally rip your tongue off...If you think you can do better than me then SHUT UP, do it and STOP wasting my time for Sharess's sake. Do you think I LIKE where I am, coward?"

"Well, I won't say I am a coward - obviously you could take me down easily enough if you decided to..."

"Quite right...now-"

"I still have feelings for you, Vanya - I wish to help."

"I don't need help, and I obviously have no feelings for you, you disillusioned freak. Now get lost."

"I CAN do a better job than you. Really."

"Out!"

"You asked me to stop wasting your time. I'm trying not to."

"The door is open! Will you shut up!?"

"No. Make me?" Illurius barely dodges a thrown copper goblet. "No time for games though - your reputation is just the lowest item at stake now. The governance of Ravenan would simply hire a company from another noble house if this keeps up. Let me help you - you won't regret it."

---------------

It was a risk - albeit a calculated one, but still a risk nevertheless. Divanya Gita Saghress was the chief of the mercenary company hired by the Ravenan city council for trade route security. Lately, their performance had been less than sterling, for various raiding bands had penetrated the Black Ravens' patrol screens to gain for themselves much riches from Ravenan's import and export convoys.

Really, Illurius the sellsword would enjoyed the spectacle of a well equipped yet ill-led skirmisher company trip over itself, yet a part of him longed for a return to the soldierly role which he had performed admirably in the past. And he needed to line his pockets as well - the lack of interested employers had led him back to square one.

Illurius had decided to make his appearance before her at the end of a term's events, where he knew just how worked up she could become based on her utter lack of management abilities. Plagued with stress, 'Vanya would anger easily - one of her most glaring weaknesses. Illurius once served her as her right-hand implement, before he had most disgracefully fled when the lonely old witch became a bit too serious with their relationship...

Now, he stode back towards the inn in which his newfound companions - or war meat - berthed for rest, purpose in his step. He was now dressed in the red and purple livery of a junior Saghress master of war, the crossbow, quarrel and broadsword slung across his back completing his new appearance.

(Alright, this is a rather clumsy attempt at plot acceleration - I'm afraid I had to invoke narrative prose and an NPC else we would have problems with progression...)
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Postby Cleric » Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:23 pm

Sezaru hadn't made any attempt to make friends with Athaeyen.

While Illurius was away, he simply found a dark corner to sit in and began to day dream. While it was a relaxing activity, it was becoming a frequent problem. Too often Sezaru would absent mindedly stop what ever he was doing and then go into a trance like state. Usually they only lasted a moment, but when he sat down to enjoy the comfort of his mind, time would completely melt away from his senses.
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Postby Starlitdragon » Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:30 am

((Plot fast-forwarding.))

It had all passed in a pleasant golden blur of sorts- the arrival at the inn, the rediscovery of clean sheets, the comforting white noise of conversation. It was an astronomical change, actually being able to speak with another female. Albeit the conversation was a brief exhange of looks and a request for food, but nevertheless, it qualified in Athaeyen's mind as a conversation.

Then there were the more detailed conversations with Illurius about tactics and more clever methods of approaching an enemy. It was not complex high art, but more common sense. Athaeyen realized teamwork would be vital in the coming weeks, or even months. If only she could find it in herself to truly trust her companion.. Or companions.

Sezaru was a living mystery to her. Did he, or did he not want to tag along? After he had displayed initial enthusiasm to follow, he had sank into some sort of depressing brooding silence over the past couple days. Athaeyen was certainly not going to go out of her way to start a conversation. Still, the Vloz'ress may be the most capable out of the three of them to hunt down the summoner.

Athaeyen distantly recalled her answer to his question from before.

"The summoner? I'll admit, I wasn't the most observant member of our group. We were too busy fleeing from her summon. The creature.. Thing.. It was a mana sponge, a modified feline of sorts. Entirely silent, and with far too many sharp ends to boot. As for the summoner, she liked to keep her face hidden, like you, and well.." Athaeyen had stopped there, accepting his request to leave with a slightly puzzled silence.

Why was he so eager to leave her presence? Did he change his mind about wanting to accomplish this task?

Athaeyen had gone to both Illurius and Sezaru this morning. She had cleaned her old travelling attire, found another dagger suitable for her use, and used her remaining ada to purchase enough provisions for at least a week. The Beldrobbaen felt it was time to stop dawdling, and finish what she had set out to do. Still, she could not help but feel uneasy. Her death was all to possible, the difficulty of the task ridiculously unfair. Still, in this place of relative security, the idea of accomplishing her goal had seemed a little closer.

---

"Illurius.." said Athaeyen quietly, approaching the male that had been so helpful for the past three days, "I know I've been a bit.. Distant with you, for a little. I think it's the fact the.. Summoner.. Is still out there. It's on my mind, constantly. I'm bound to finish this, even if I do a rotten job of it. Illurius.. We may not be ready, but I want.. No, I need to go. Tomorrow at the latest. I can't just sit in this inn any longer, I'd actually stay here until I'm found out." She had not meant this to be so blunt, or let it all out at once. But words were something that could not be gathered up and hidden away again.

"I want to thank you, for the help you've given me. Being a stranger, you had no obligation whatsoever, and I appreciate it. I will make it clear, you have a choice to turn back now. Will you still come with me on this mad quest?"
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Postby Vajra » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:35 am

Illurius's summary for the past few RP days

I do not know why Gita had literally screwed up a routine and high-profile operation that her clan had sustained for generations - but she did and it is not my place to question the affairs of matrons.

It was up to me to implement corrective actions and I stupidly allowed her to claim most of the credit. Really there is no such word as "unfair" in my mind - after all I've been though in this dastardly existence I don't feel anything at all. I like myself as I now am, emotionless, uncaring save for what crosses my path. As people do not appreciate the homely side of me, so shall I not bother with it.

I had an enjoyable time yelling my thoat out at hapless barely-educated peasant skirmisher troops. I did not think to spare the rod... or whip, on such hapless, ill-led children. If they are in a soldierly profession then they WILL act as such in the name of their clan, who are so good as to be PAYING them for their weapons, equipment, training and services rendered. Obviously they have never seen how better off they are compared to drafted conscripts...

How disgraceful, an Illhar'dro who switches affiliations to train Saghress soldiers. Yet it was no doubt a glorious quest. I personally led patrols down the Ravenan trade routes rooting out bandits using Gita's enchanted crossbow bolts - while they would be useless in combat against the elves of the underdark they were utterly devastating against the riffraff we faced.

We used fat heavily laden convoys as bait for attack, following which we will allow the enemy to commit themselves against the regular caravan guards as we take up positions towards the raiders' flanks or rear under the cover of an icy mist that masked our thermal presence.

Over and over again they fell to our ambushes and now all is safe in the near-surface trading routes. They wanted me to replace Gita - I said no, for I know that I can never take her place as a company commander. Yesterday some Saghress big-wig inspected the Company and we held a parade for her, which exhibited impressively the fruits of my labour. Gita would have been in a most uncomfortable situation if the inspector-officer had arrived just a few days earlier.

Of course, a hired specialist like myself merely fades into the background when it came to the affairs of the officer corps - it was time for me to disappear, my quest in the articulation of shock and awe complete. I am never good at what they call longevity, in any case.


------

((And now proper RP))

Illurius had taken his time returning to the inn to check on Athaeyen and Sezaru this day. He was tired, yet extremely satisfied with what he had accomplished in this present stage of his life. He did however, find disappointment in himself for wasting away valuable months and years before he took the courage to actually show leadership by example. He could say that as a male in underdark society he had no place leading, yet this is merely worthless self-justification.

To advance in society one merely needs to be observant and sieze opportunities. But too much of that in the wrong direction tends to leave one with many foes and a lack of allies...

More importantly for the present though - Illurius now faced little trouble with the usual routines of society. Obviously the trade of a master of soldiers is far more suited to him than a more easygoing routine. Being serious wasn't a problem if it made things happen.

The newly-converted Saghress warrior had repaid his debts to charity, decided he was feeling vain and purchased a few accessories for the benefit of his appearance, sampled the charms of the bustling Ravenan bazzars, cornered some tax-evaders in the Saghress quarter of the city and finally ended up at the sturdy wooden structure that represented the inn where Athaeyen and Sezaru were now berthed.

It dawned upon him that he now felt the peasants' quarter quite uncomfortable and run down, even though just half a week before he was content with it. He now had much more opportunities available to him than what those two travellers could ever hope to offer, yet the desire to honor a spoken word overruled the pursuit of personal gains, at least for now.

Quite frankly, he thought, they meant nothing to him - while they do express thanks and lend listening ears occasionally - not that Illurius now needed such lowly attentions with all that he had gone through recently - he felt that there was a social barrier that none of them had breached. Or even wished to.

Worse, that woman didn't seem capable of handling him - Illurius is used to, and even prefers the traditional manner of drow authority, after all.

But he was tired and didn't think much of anything as he called the innkeeper with the bang of a gloved fist on his counter - oh how those peasants love to call him "Sir" when in the Saghress (junior) warmaster's garb. Illurius didn't show any outward appreciation of those greetings though - it would not be healthy to be too absorbed into the pleasures of his dubious and unoffical authority...

"This is to cover expenses for the Yathrin and the Vloz'ress. Keep the change."

Waving a hand of dismissal at the obese innkeeper's profusely exhibited thanks, Illurius proceeded to make himself comfortable amongst several lightly decorated floor-cushions in the corner of a common area on the ground floor.

Sighing inwardly, he releases his silver mane from its confining ponytail and scans the room critically with a half-closed pair of almond eyes before unshouldering his gear onto the empty rug.

He was stroking idly at the business end of an enchanted round of crossbow ammunition and found the slight electrical tingling of the magical energy stored within it quite pleasurable when Athaeyen entered his sphere of awareness.

Sweeping a light blanket in a flourish over his weaponry and the quarrel of assorted colour-coded crossbow bolts, he shifts to sit on his heels to formally accomodate her presence.

But while his manner towards her was more personal in nature in the past he now did not show any outward sign of acknowledging her presence... as though she did not exist in his mind.

"I do not value apologies - they are an unnecessary component of hypocritic formality. And I have no qualms in allowing your will on the matter of how you treat me," he paused to pull a silk scarf tighter around his neck, though the leather tunic he wore was left open at the front. "And if you remember my loyalty has already been given to you. Use it as you will."

He sniffs irritatedly. "That means I agree to follow you on your quest. Until the time you do not wish to tolerate my presence any more. You'll find that I have grown out of selling myself for money - experience on the other hand is priceless profit. Take this -" Illurius fishes out a hefty leather pouch that seems to contain coins, "and give half to the mister Sezaru. Prepare as necessary for our journey. While you are at that you should make judgement if he is friend or foe."

"I do not believe in neutrality. Either he is with you, completely and unconditionally, or he is a potential enemy, which must be dealt with before actual problems arise. If you can't make up your mind then I would always enjoy a friendly duel..."

He shrugs, "Up to you of course. I loathe having to lead, by the way. But as always I will be happy to give what advice I can... provided you can keep me... or us, pointed in the right direction."

"Of course, you have to forgive me for my... rudeness to you as of late. See, I just had to personally ensure that my new employers do not lose their influence in this fine city. Hopefully you can correct this little flaw in my personality before I go completely out of my place as a male of this society." He smiles decidedly cruelly out the corner of his mouth.

"I pray for our success then, on wherever you wish to take us. Personally, I've never had any dealings with those strange Vloz'ress types. Educate me as you see fit."

((Right! Hopefully it is still readable. I will of course appreciate comments on the writing style above. It's... different to Illurius on the preceding pages - life experiences can after all make drastic changes in a person.))
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Postby Cleric » Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:06 am

Sezaru walked toward the Athaeyen and Illurius as the Ilhardo finished his last statement. "So you know, the Vlozzress don't normally deal with your 'sword dancing types.'" he said a little more rudely than he meant to. He shook his head then looked at Athaeyen. "Sorry I have been so... distracted this past while, but I needed to think. I will join your quest. I will do what ever I can to help, even if it means betraying my own clan. We Vlozzress are cannibals anyway, always, always feeding off each other. I'm not helping you because I like you, but for the knowledge that this journey may hold. Whenever you are ready to leave, I will be waiting.

"I must ask though, are you sure you want to go forth with this? You can never stand out in the open and the shadows won't help you. The summoners may be insane, but they are tactical geniuses. I advise you not to follow through with this, but sometimes vengeance is a life necessity."
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Postby Vajra » Fri Apr 14, 2006 5:25 am

Good. For once you speak up for yourself.

Illurius wiped his hands idly on the thigh of his pants as he raised himself to a knee to stand. He tosses his hair indifferently at Sezaru's "don't deal with you sword-dancing types" statement and though he would have instinctively fired off a stern rebuke by instinct, he respectfully waits for him to finish talking.

"Yes yes, I don't deny I look like some moron Illhar'dro cart salesman nine tenths of the time," Illurius spat. "But if you have even overheard even a bit of what the lady and I were discussing then you will know that I have pursued the trade of master of soldiers at least once before in my life and once again for the past several days."

"But all my knowledge would be worthless if you, representing one third of our tactical prowess, would simply run crying to her for everything and simply ignore me."

"Three is not a large number. None of us can afford to act as Saghress war meat when it comes to assisting Athaeyen here on her quest. So on the subject of you, Sezaru, I respectfully ask that we forget what grudges we have between each other for the duration of this operation."

"Or," Illurius curled one side his mouth into a snarl, "if you do not wish to speak then we can settle this in a duel to the death. You won't have any hesitation in expressing yourself then, do you?"

Illurius recovers to a neutral pose, crossing his arms impatiently. "In the interests of respect for this place, and our minimal resources of personnel I will not openly pursue this option - but I will leave it open should you desire it. We have much to prepare for in this journey. And I do not want to pursue someone or something halfway across the underworld and starve to death while doing so."

"So I have taken the liberty to liberate some surplus field rations. If Sezaru would be so kind to give me a hand I can show you both an often overlooked art of food preparation."

"What? Do not look at me that way - fresh food will not last for more than a couple of days in the wilderness. And time spent foraging makes us vulnerable."

----------------------------

Illurius literally pulled Sezaru along to the Saghress trade security outpost, a compact walled compound whose main feature was a small three-story pagoda and a parade square of brown dirt before it.

The four guards on duty didn't seem to mind Illurius's presence - he was well known here after all and could do anything he wished just so long he avoided the lone officer of the unit. But Illurius wasn't so silly as to try and bring Sezaru inside.

He did not keep the Vloz'ress waiting for long - with this cloth harness tied around his waist he starts the return trip back to the inn. The harness appears to contain about a dozen thin wooden blocks about a hand span's length each. Judging from Illurius's easy handling of his recently acquired cargo, it did not seem at all heavy. His other equipment he had left with Athaeyen - it was obviously a test of both the others' trust...

Illurius took a shortcut back to the inn through a virtually dead section of Ravenan. Here skeletons of damp, rotting wood marked where a neighbourhood had been utterly destroyed in a skirmish, eight months ago, between the Saghress and the Vlozress, and had not been rebuilt for no one had wished to defile the resting place of at least a hundred each of Saghress warriors and Vloz'ress minions.

Whist in transit Illurius kept up what he hoped to be a comfortable pace - his long-legged strides from years in the journeyman's trade would be too rapid for most. All the while he observes either with sidelong glances or his other senses Sezaru's actions, seeing if he would spark up a conversation with him, or try and plant a dagger in his back.
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Postby Cleric » Sun Apr 16, 2006 6:08 am

Sezaru was able to keep up with Ilurius' fast pace, and looked at the mess around him. "I wonder what caused this.." He said more to himself than to his companion.

When he looked up from the ground, sezaru saw the inn in the distance. He stopped walking for a moment and addressed the Ilhar'dro. "This has been bothering me for the last while. Ilurius, why are you so easy to trust people? The Lady Athaeyen and I are both from clans very different than your own. Vlozzress are the crazed demonic clan and the beldrobbean are an eerie gothic group. If ever anyone from my clan was caught dancing with swords, the way you were, would be beaten to a bloody pulp. Some how the three of us met in under very strange circumstances and now we are going on a quest for revenge of some girl who wondered into the city. It doesn't make sense. How can you think that I am trust worthy? I am committing treason to my clan, so obviously I don't care about much. Next, I am a scourge, most of whom are completely mad. Finally, haven’t you noticed my strange personality changes? I was some-what kind when I met you, I went through a period where I didn't talk to anyone, I was then very rude to you, and now I ranting about myself?!" Sezaru stopped before he hyper-ventilated. He bowed. "Please excuse that outburst... Sometimes I just start to rant without realizing it" Without waiting to hear anything from Ilurius, sezaru took off at an even brisker pace than before.
While walking, he did not bother to notice whether or not Ilurius was following him.

Before Sezaru entered the inn, he turned around to speak with Ilurius. "Before we go on this mission, I would like to try to speak with a Vlozzress diplomat in Ravenan. If I can use m words smoothly enough, I will avoid getting in trouble with my clan. I can make it sound like that summoner we are chasing is a traitor, and needs to be taken care of. Will there be a problem with that?"
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Postby Vajra » Mon Apr 17, 2006 6:17 am

In normal circumstances Illurius would have given Sezaru an icy curt reply - in this case it would probably be a you males are always so predictable borrowed from prissy matrons and mistresses of the realm.

But as Sezaru related this circumstance was far from being normal.

Illurius treated Sezaru's activity as though it were normal, showing no sign of emotion or response to his hasty departure as he withdraws a few arrowhead-like items from a pouch on his belt. Striking the metal pieces against a golden band around his left bicep he tosses the now smouldering objects behind him without looking.

Waiting for the magical incendiaries to blossom in proper, he appears to move off in the opposite direction from where Sezaru was headed before intercepting his path of movement later at the inn.

Illurius did not need to look behind him - he knew they were being followed. But the above counter-detection tactic seemed to have threw them off. Although the Illhar'dro-turned-Saghress knew the reason for they being followed he would not trouble his party with matters such as these, for they would be inconsequential if Athaeyen would start her journey within the next day.

There were a few things that Illurius would like to discuss with the other two before they set off, so as to minimize the prospect of later difficulties, but there wasn't a need to rush them.

Panic is the worst foe

Finally Sezaru had stopped talking or running long enough for him to speak. While Illurius found it a good change, the Vloz'ress's openness is understandably a fragile item and a resource that may very well be lost to him if he did not play his cards right.

Plus, it was not a good idea to have literally saturated Athaeyen with matters that she as a yathrin would never have understood. So Illurius waited for the right opening.

"Allies are always good. Feel free to ask my assistance if you wish it."

"We do have some things in common - and I appreciate the reality of your situation. It is understandable that our dear yathrin there would impose judgement on your kind unfairly - and I as a self-appointed Saghress should have no feelings whatsoever for you."

"Rest assured however I am concerned more with the success of this expedition, than anything else."

"I gave some money to our party leader for purposes of equipping yourselves. I trust 150 ada each is enough?"

Illurius moved around with purposeful ease as he spoke to Sezaru - although he hated to show his intentions this openly he had to ascertain the fate of the equipment he had left with Athaeyen as soon as possible.

After all he would like to find out if he were an actual part of this operation or if the quest were merely a jovial social outing. Illurius had no mind to waste his time on the latter.

Everything is accounted for and my place looks untouched, though Athaeyen isn't here. With that settled we should find the time to review the extents and limitations of our individual prowess. Or we could excuse ourselves from the benefits of teamwork, as in our normal culture. That's not up to me though. What do you both think I am? Some do-everything assistant? I'm sick and tired of having to do everything myself.

But who am I deceiving? The more I think like this the more I suffer. Am I being too serious?


Illurius threw loose hair back over his shoulders. "We seem ready enough to set off. The sooner we get this over with, the better."
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Postby Cleric » Tue Apr 18, 2006 5:27 am

(I am sorry about how unconventional this post is. I am making the assumption that Illurius is following Sezaru. Also, i used a bit of narrative just to make things easy. I did this so that we don't have to spend too much time on this dumb side thing. I am sure everyone wants to get going soon.)

Sezaru nodded his head. "As for the supply money, I will only need food rations... maybe a few extra daggers. Otherwise, i won't need new amour or anything. As for finding more Vlozzress, all we have to do is find the slummiest part of town," he said grimly. Sezaru did not have much faith in his clan, but he knew it held so many new secrets. He wanted to know them all.

After turning around for a moment looking for where his clan members might be, the scourge settled on a direction. "This won't take more than a moment. If you have the nerve to join me, don't let any of the summoners intimidate you. They like to do that. They are too full of themselves, too light headed. That is what got my former mistress killed. It almost cost me my own life. And do be surprised to see people walking around with missing or extra limbs. I once saw a scourge that had chewed off his own cheek and lips, and had three arms. The sight still haunts me. By the way, I will be lying to my superiors. I am telling them that you were going to be sacrificed along side with other vlozzress and sharen. What ever you do, dont say a word."

Sezaru stepped away from the door of the inn and turned left. He started walking toward the quietest part of the city. The ground slanted upward slightly. As Sezaru marched toward his destination he didn't say anything. He had to plan his speech perfectly. The hot-head summoners judged everyone very cruelly. Even the most intelligent speakers were sounded dumbfounded and ill prepared under their snickering and chilling, screeching laughter.

Eventually, Sezaru found a small group of summoners who were resting just outside of Ravenan, before making the final stage of their journey back to Chel'el'sussoloth.

As Sezaru entered the encampment, he was immediately surrounded by slaves and other scourges. He shoved them all aside, and made his way to the centre of the area. There he found the leading summoner. Sezaru didn't dare to look her in the eye. Her head was on a tilt, and she bore a smile which was seemed too disproportional to her face. For some reason, she tied to hair, which was bloody red, to her wrists. I bet that dye is blood, Sezaru thought. Her name was Rasumer.

"Good day my lady summoner," Sezaru began. Rasumer simply clicked her teeth together. "I am here to tell you about a member of or clan who has betrayed us."

"Hmm... why would someone betray us?"

"I am not sure. But she was sacrificing Vlozzress scourges, and Sharen warriors outside any cities. Oh, also some Sarghress were killed. I have brought this," sezaru pointed at Illurius, "as proof. He was going to be murdered too, but fortunately a group of those filthy kyorl templars had to be traveling in the area. The Summoner had to flee, and left the hostages. When the kyorl found the sacrificial area, they killed all the tainted. This sarghress here was spared, and brought back to civilization.'
But just think, she could have broken the alliance we have with the sharen, and she has wasted valuable clan members. I am simply reporting to you, in hopes that you will understand, and support my cause for hunting her."

Rasmer smiled creepily for a long moment. "I support you. I will have it recorded when i get back to the city." Then she turned around, and Sezaru knew he was dismissed. That wasn't as hard as i thought it would be, he thought to himself.

Sezaru led illurius away from the camp and headed back toward the inn. "That was very awkward," he said.

(Once again, I am sorry, it was kind of dumb of me to suggest doing that... it was pointless, and probably wasted a bunch of time)
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Postby Vajra » Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:14 am

((Sorry? You don't have to be. That's a pretty good scene for the novelisation I intend to do for our plot when it is complete - of course I will have to make a lot of adaptations everywhere - including for my own posts but it doesn't change the fact that the more ideas we generate, the better.

It's when we have no ideas that we tend to start doing the less desirable stuff.

And we do have to put fillers in our Yathrin's absence so...))

"Whatever you do, don't say a word," Sezaru had said. That worked. Illurius would have probably got himself killed if the Vloz'ress were not the one doing the talking there.

They were barbarians, all of them, and it was all Illurius could do in keeping his cool as he concentrated on following Sezaru to keep off his mind the open leers and taunts that his still lightly-dressed presence brought. I must have looked like Sezaru's slave - he'll pay for that...

Illurius tried to look the part of a person who had personally encountered the face of Hell itself, and meekly avoided the Vloz'ress summoner's piercing gaze by looking at the ground before her feet. That brought more snickers from the spectators.

Thankfully, his job as an item of diplomatic leverage was over before he lost his nerves. Illurius did not say anything on the return trip, and would not say much from now on - this short exposure to Vloz'ress culture gave him all he needed to in preparing mentally for the task ahead.

You think that is bad? You haven't seen me yet.

Self-justification or not, Illurius had a side of him that he would never speak of. Until it was unleashed. If it still could be after countless years lying dormant. But who knows, it could be an important asset in the days ahead.

((No, that is not in my char. bio - which is severely outdated by now, anyway. I find that very tame background quite silly by now. Though it is accurate for Illurius's early days.))

---------

Where was Athaeyen? Illurius wondered, almost aloud, when Sezaru and himself returned to the inn at which they were berthed. Someone he did not know was obviously taking care of his gear when he was away. Unlike most journeymen he met, he did not enjoy wearing armour everywhere he went.

But given his recent experience with the Vloz'ress it was almost with relief that he donned his Saghress skirmisher's garb and other accessories that suggested that he were above the typical caste of nameless soldiery.

He then noticed, and found it suspicious that only his party populated the inn most of the time. If they did not depart soon... Debating whether to spark up a conversation with Sezaru to prepare their minds for the quest ahead, he decides against it and carefully sits on a rounded cushion in a dark corner. He didn't seem the type to enjoy warmasters' discussions, after all.

So long as I'm not the one doing the dying, heh.
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Postby Starlitdragon » Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:43 am

((OOC: Back and running!))

Athaeyen found it a bit eerie on her own. Of course there was the getting about Raveran, and people to press for information, but her efforts were of little merit. It was more like a way to pass the time before Sezaru and Illurius seemed ready to depart.

What in the name of Sharess were they doing, anyways? Athaeyen had the distince impression the two were uncomfortable around eachother, and now.. They were running around like blood brothers, doing whatever they were out to do.

It never occurred to her to confront Illurius directly. His business was his own, after all. However, these two were her only chance to ever end up returning home to Chel'el'sussoloth. Athaeyen would have to make the best of it.

She found Illurius one evening, perched in a gloomy corner of the inn she had called home for far too long. "Illurius.." she began, hoping the man had not changed his mind, "we must leave now, if we are to be of any use in this quest. Sezaru too, if he wishes to come." Athaeyen felt as uncomfortable as ever around the Vloz'ress, however, the few days separation did her well to accustom herself to the idea of his presence. This was all rather sudden, but the issue had weighed heavily on Athaeyen's mind for a liberal amount of time. "..I'm ready to leave. If you have gathered any news on the Summoner's whereabouts, we can go from there. If not, we head the direction I came in, and hope for clues. The third option would be to go to the Hive itself.. However, I cannot gaurantee our safe passage with the Driders, having lost.. Well, we can always try. I value your advice, and that of Sezaru, if he would consent to give it also."
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Postby Vajra » Sat Apr 22, 2006 7:28 am

While he could - and should be more friendly if he wished the party to stay together longer than just for the task at hand, his seriousness and experience in working for the Saghress neatly erased any semblance to Illurius's present demeanor.

"We await your word, Party Leader," he said matter-of-factly as he clicked his bootheels together, "we are as ready as we can ever be."
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Postby Jer'tai Wraithblade » Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:20 pm

It was at this point in the tale when the door of the inn opened, and a second Vloz'ress stepped in.

Nath'aen/Vir'ednith Vel'vloz'ress was an unusual sight. The young man had brilliant, fire-orange hair arranged into a ponytail and restrained by a pair of goggles he wore around his forehead like a headband. A jagged clan tatoo sliced across the left side of his face, resembling a peculiar scar, and two more peeking out from beneath the goggles gave the impression of horns. A thin wedge was missing from his right ear, and evidence of past burn scars were visible on the right side of his jaw and neck.

Thaen, I don't like this. The last time we were in an inn likke this, you blew up a stable boy and nearly destoyed someone's house chasing after that Fallen Legion woman.
Shut up, Vir. The idiot blew himself up because he wouldn't listen when I told him to be careful of the vials, and you MADE me throw a a boomtube at that assasin. So tough mushrooms, demon.


Thaen noticed with interest the disparate group conversing with each other.

He'd bet his chemistry set that group was up to something. There's no way a spider-lover and a Vloz'ress could be at the same table and just idly chatting.

I don't blame them, really. The massacre at Orthobbae is too fresh in their minds, and our clan probably only serves to remind them of it.

Let's find out what they're up to, then.


The alchemist pulled out a chair and sat down, close to the group's table. As he did so, his long, sleeveless orange coat shifted slightly, breifly revealing a bandolier of small ceramic vials.

He toyed with one of his wavy-bladed dirks, and casually aimed an ear, missing a thin wedge, towards the table.

"...Ready to leave. If you have gathered any news on the Summoner's whereabouts, we can go from there. If not, we head the direction I came in, and hope for clues. The third option would be to go to the Hive itself.. However, I cannot gaurantee our safe passage with the Driders, having lost..."

Thaen smiled. At the very least, he'd have some interesting listening; but such conversation usually presented interesting opportunities.
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Postby Vajra » Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:29 am

Hurry up and wait. Just like in that accursed overgrown Saghress military.

They were supposed to leave a long time ago, and now it seems like only a cataclysm of earth-shaking proportions would get Athaeyen actually moving. If that were the case, Illurius thought, then he would keep an eye and an ear open for new opportunities to 'disappear' to during the course of the journey.

What the hell am I thinking now - See, that is what happens if you allow a drow male authority. I'm sure the little yathrin would be much more fun if she were of the traditional type, as well.

In all actuality, it was natural impatience settling in, for it had been no more than three surface days since Illurius had first met Athaeyen at the Ravenan trade fair, time enough for her to have recuperated from her journey across the known underworld to this place. But Illurius could not be sure of this for he had not the time to keep track of the shifting drafts that passed this way and that through the caverns of the underworld - without sorcerous means of time keeping, this seemed to be a common way to keep track of time here.

It seemed that all the opportunties in the world had made themselves clear to Illurius after he had met Athaeyen, or so he believes. Drow are social creatures by fate and very few can survive on their own, and Illurius had been alone for the better part of a decade. So complacence set in. And had disappeared as readily as it had reared its ugly head.

Now this.

If Illurius in the employ of the Saghress military practised unconventional martial arts to gain advantages over usual prey in the realm then this suspicious character that had recently made his presence known represented something out of this world altogether. Dwarves, and not dark elves, except very few, practiced the foul arts of alchemy - and indeed even in the military where alchemy at the right times times afforded key specialists many advantages over sorcery, alchemy had to be practised in secrecy and even referred to as magic because of the way common society shuns science.

But all this did not exist in the mind of Illurius - he as a Saghress merely used what tools had been given to him to accomplish tasks entrusted by his superiors. He was not expected to know anything but that.

---------------------

Sauntering towards the entrance like an overconfident teenager, and indeed foolishly unaware of his surroundings, Illurius mentally hid his true intentions as he metered his gait and demeanor to appear as a usual commoner going about his own business.

As I've so conveniently 'acquired' the entire building for myself then you who make your presence known here is obviously up to something.

Another of them Vloz'ress barbarians. Just what the world needs.

Still, such impetous thoughts only served to hasten one's own death, so Illurius forced them out of his mind for the duration of the task at hand. This person could either be friend or foe, and if it were the latter case then Illurius will never let him compromise Athaeyen's mission - at least to the best of his ability. Aside from that, the newcomer was as good as non-existant in Illurius's mind.

In this position you can either keep an eye on me, or do nothing. Both ways you have compromised yourself, for indeed you have no reason to be here - right across the street there is a much more desirable locale than this old, crumbling shack built from stocks of discarded wood imports from the surface.

With an elegant hop Illurius closed the distance to the newcomer's back, cutting off his means of escape.

"Just like one of you," he said, a slight hint of superiority in his lilting tone, "always sneaking around like rats in a field-latrine."

"Why don't you introduce yourself," he continued, "and tell us why you are here?"

Leaving it as that, Illurius loosened the weapon in its scabbard across his back, mentally gauging the distance between the Vloz'ress and him - in case of a fight he wished to be beyond dagger-reach while being able to attack decisively with his long blade.

Why, he thought, I think I will enjoy this...
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Postby Cleric » Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:36 am

Sezaru final woke up from one of his trances, and decided to go find Athaeyen. "I hope we will be able to go soon..."

Sezaru happened to walk into the room a short moment after Illurius 'made a stand' against the other vlozzress. He rubbed his eyes with his fingers, then started to chuckle.

He put on a bored face, and walked between the two. First he glared at the Saghress. "DO NOT compare my brethren to filthy rats. He did nothing to insult you. Not everyone is your enemy Illurius. Just because he was eavesdropping, does not mean he was planning to attack or follow us. He probably has his own agenda."

Turning to the vlozz he continued, "On the other hand, doing things like that might get you killed! You never know who," he shifted his eyes toward Illurius, "is going to overreact. Now that we are on the subject anyway, who are you?"

Sezaru took a backward-step toward Illurius. He reached for his trusted whip.
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