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Old 08-07-2021, 09:34 AM   #194
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 62 (2021-08-04)

20th of Ratanu, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

“Breakfast!” Yana’s melodious voice woke me, and I smelled soup. I sat up. “I had the most peculiar dream just now,” I told Yana, sitting up and rubbing the sleep from my eyes. “I dreamed that you put a fork in my arm, cut out a piece of flesh and ate it. You tried a piece of ear and thigh, and you broke out a rib and sucked on it, but each time you complained that it wasn’t as good as you remembered.” Yana looked me over with a gaze that made me tremble like a sheep before slaughter. She opened her mouth to speak, but a knock on the door interrupted her.

“Who is it?” I called out, voice uneven. “Wolfram!” said Wolfram. I hurried into a dress and told him to come inside. The flimsy armor bolstered my confidence. “Good morning, Wolfram. What can we do for you?” Wolfram wanted everyone to meet up and discuss what to do. I replied that Yana and I would come after we’d eaten, and it turned out he hadn’t had his breakfast yet, either. Wolfram decided to filch a travel ration from Grogg instead of braving the common room.

Yana and I ate in silence, but our eyes spoke volumes. There were some nods and gestures, too. If I wasn’t completely off the mark, I managed to promise to do to Yana what she had done to me. Yana put her spoon in her empty bowl. “I finished your new dress yesterday. You should try it on,” she said. I scooped up the last remnants of soup from my bowl and stood. A wicked glimmer in Yana’s eyes stopped me. “You know it’ll fit. You just want to see me naked,” I accused. “Can you blame me?” Yana replied. “You’re beautiful, Nuur-Karif! And I didn’t think you minded.”

I reminded myself that Yana was in charge and took off my dress. I sat down on the bed with the new dress in my lap. “It’s true that I don’t usually mind. Many are uncomfortable without clothes on, but I know that Ashtar protects me. I have given my life and my body to Her. Now that I think about it, giving myself to you makes me feel like a fraud, selling the same wares twice.”

Yana stood abruptly, angrily, toppling her stool. “No! You mustn’t say that! It isn’t true! I sensed Ashtar’s calming presence on you while we prayed last night. Would She bless you like that if we had transgressed? I won’t pretend I know the Holy Mother as well as you do, but I should think not. I know that your love for me doesn’t diminish your love for Ashtar.” Yana put her hand on my chest. “Look inside your heart, Nuur-Karif. There is room there for both Ashtar and me. I know She comes first; I’ve accepted that, but I’m here, too. And as for intimacy …” She shifted her hand to my breast. “Ashtar wouldn’t deprive her most loyal servant of a little earthly pleasure.”

I jumped up. “Yes! You’re right!” Yana’s eyes widened with surprise at my sudden movement, but she refused to back off, and we stood uncomfortably close. No, we stood delightfully close! I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her even closer. I continued, feeling the fervor shining in my eyes, “It was Ashtar who brought us together. It is by Her will that we found each other. The love I feel for you, the pleasure in your touch, these are Her gifts, my reward for faithful service!”

I fell to my knees and prayed. Yana watched in stunned silence. A big, sloppy kiss snapped her out of it. “Let’s go see Wolfram and the others,” I declared vivaciously, but Yana held me back. “Um, Nuur-Karif? I’m glad that you’ve come to this realization, but I think perhaps Wolfram would prefer if you put some clothes on?”

The new dress fit me perfectly. Yana had a good eye for these things, as well as a steady hand with her needles. We crossed the hall and knocked on Wolfram’s and Xipil’s door. Despite our delayed arrival, we weren’t the last. Grogg was. He said that Hylda wouldn’t come; she was finally sleeping.

I asked what Xipil had discovered at the Golden Arrow. It was a six-story building that took up an entire block, and Xipil believed there was an atrium in the middle, although he hadn’t climbed up on the roof to find out. The security was tight, with guards at the rear entrance and metal bars over the windows on the first three stories. City guards had delivered prostitutes at the back door, and Wolfram speculated that I could get in that way.

Wolfram had interrogated the Tivito slave and learned that the two light dagger mages, who were Elik cultists, had come to Byblos recently, but Xipil was convinced that they had been there a while; it was the alliance between Tivito and Elik that was new.

I reminded my friends that we had arranged a meeting at the Anati temple tonight and asked who was coming with me. Yana squeezed my hand in response; Xipil and Wolfram said yes. Grogg wanted to discuss it with Hylda before committing to anything. I informed Wolfram that I had acquired more river thistle, so he wouldn’t have to drink himself stupid to get through the crowds.

Xipil asked what cover name I used at the moment. “Cover name?” I wasn’t using one. Xipil believed that Tivito could read images from the owls’ memories with magic, and the birds had seen most of us. “Maybe it’s time to dye my hair again. What do you think, Yana?” She grinned. “You have beautiful hair, Nuur-Karif, but you know I would love to help you.” She would take any excuse to put her hands on me. I grinned back.

I asked if the others were well rested after our recent activities. They were, but both Xipil and Wolfram had flipped their sleeping schedule. I recommended taking a nap around midday and promised to make sure everyone was woken up before we had to leave for the Anati temple.

Wolfram wanted someone to look into the whereabouts of Elik, but nobody had any idea where to start looking. He looked at me and asked if anyone could infiltrate the Golden Arrow. I said it shouldn’t be very difficult. Xipil said Yana and I should dress up as hookers, but I thought it better to just use the main entrance, like regular customers. I agreed to go once Yana had dyed my hair, but I didn’t know what to look for and whether it was worth the trouble to just look around. I wouldn’t know how to spot magical artifacts, which we suspected Tivito kept there.

Grogg just wanted to attack the place. Yana thought that was a bad idea, and even had a sensible argument: If there were indeed magical artifacts there, there would also be powerful mages to guard them. If we were wrong, and Tivito stored their artifacts elsewhere, we would be risking our lives for nothing.

Grogg proposed giving the guards crow’s toes. I thought it might be difficult to accomplish that; Xipil had watched the guards for several hours, and they never smoked anything. A better idea was to dose a bottle of wine with river thistle. I could convince the guards to share it with me. This idea wasn’t much good, though. Tivito would surely have their own guards to protect their rooms, which was on the third floor according to our intelligence.

Yana suggested renting rooms of our own at the Golden Arrow. That way, we’d get past the outer security. This was the best idea so far in my opinion. If we attacked or poisoned someone, we would be crossing a line. I wasn’t as squeamish as Yana about that, but I don’t want to break the law for no reason. Getting a room would let us gather information, to better determine if attacking was the right thing to do.

Raiding Tivito’s presumed headquarters seems like Wolfram’s personal vendetta. Xipil has an obsession with magical artifacts, so he’s definitely in. Grogg will agree to anything, as long as he gets to hit someone. I have no love for Tivito – some of them are really bad people – but I have no need to destroy them. Unless, of course, they are behind the conflict between my brothers and sisters. Whoever’s responsible for that will pay with their blood.
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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