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Old 09-14-2021, 10:56 AM   #199
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 65 (2021-09-08)

21st of Ratanu, year 412

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

Yana was firing up the hearth when I woke up. The weather was quite warm, so I didn’t understand why at first, but one look on her face – as hard as it was not to stare at the beautiful body she flaunted – revealed all. “Should I do your hair now, or do you want me to come back to bed?” she asked coyly. It was so very tempting to stay in bed, but we had work to do. Yana would have to be satisfied with putting her hands in my hair. She could put them elsewhere another time.

We set up the hair salon and Yana began to work her magic. Then some noise from the street made her look outside. Putting her delicious fingers back in my hair, Yana reported that it was the king’s soldiers patrolling the streets. They had stopped outside a neighboring building. Not long after, a knock came on our door.

“You have to put some clothes on and answer the door,” I told Yana. “I’ll stay here, out of sight, where I won’t drip color all over the floor.” Yana washed her hands thoroughly to get the dye off and had just slipped into a dress when it knocked again.

Yana opened the door. “Oh, it’s just you,” she said. I recognized the voice of the guard from last night. He wanted to come in and was very insistent, but I raised my voice and commanded “Lind” to get him to come back later. The door closed, and Yana went back to work on my hair. She said the guard didn’t act very guard-like.

Yana picked up her sewing when I dressed, and I joined her in the sofa to talk about our plans for the day. My hair was still wet when the guard came knocking again. I grabbed one of Yana’s flowers and put my feet up on the table, the very image of a noble scion with not a care in the world.

The guard came inside and took a seat opposite me, putting his feet up on the table too. He was no ordinary guard; this behavior would get him in trouble. “Nice flower,” he commented and asked if I was the Ashtarite he was looking for. I frowned at him. “Ashtarite? No, there is no Ashtarite here.” He was obviously here for me, but who knew how he had learned that I was undercover at the Golden Arrow? My friends weren’t foolish enough to reveal our plans, were they? Actually, I could envision any of them babbling away, but I decided I should trust them. That meant someone had overheard our planning, most likely at the inn where the walls were so thin.

The guard commented that my hair had changed colors since last night, so I told him I had arrived here incognito, but had just now washed out the dye. Of course, a nobleman had no reason to explain himself to a mere guard, so I said he amused me with his impertinence. He continued prodding, and I denied everything. The guard was clearly experienced in the deception game and probably a professional spy. He had been so sure I was the one he sought, but my performance fooled him. He was a great actor himself, but Your gifts allowed me to discern his growing frustration.

“Do you know anyone named Nulius?” the guard asked, driven to desperation. I shook my head, and we agreed that this was a strange name, not from Arland. Had Nulius sent him? I couldn’t ask without breaking cover, but it seemed possible. Why would Nulius spy on us, though? Perhaps the mention of that name was just to throw suspicion away from his true masters. The guard described the inn where we had stayed since returning to Byblos and asked if I knew anyone there. Aha! I was right; they had been spying on us there! I denied knowledge of the inn and asked why a man such as myself would know anyone in “the slums”.

Standing up, the guard informed me that he was quitting his job. However, if we hung up two ribbons on the door before he left the premises, he’d return. There were three ribbons for different services; which two we picked didn’t matter. The guard offered to escort us to a place where we could meet the people from “the slums”. If he didn’t hear from us in two hours, we’d never see him again. I dismissed him with a nonchalant wave of my hand.

When he had left, I told Yana to hang up one ribbon, so we could order breakfast. Yana was concerned that someone had learned what we were doing, but I assured her I had convinced the guard that it wasn’t us he was looking for. When we were nearly finished with our meal, city guards rang their bells again outside, announcing that the curfew was lifted during the day, between sunrise and sunset. The guard returned shortly thereafter and Yana opened the door. He said he was leaving now, sooner than he’d said. I gestured to Yana to send him on his way.

I asked Yana if she wanted to take a stroll with me. I wanted to check on the king’s men, and we needed to send a message to our friends, to warn them. When we reached the first floor, we learned that the enclosed yard was open for all tenants for dining or lounging, and it was possible to buy memberships to gain access to other services. Yana and I went out on the streets instead.

People were cautiously coming out, as if after a heavy rain shower, when the dark clouds threatened another deluge. The soldiers had opened the harbor gate, but they examined carefully those who wanted to pass. Yana and I sent our message with a street urchin and returned to the Golden Arrow after our promenade through the neighborhood.

We ordered lunch in the atrium. There weren’t many others there, and they gave off the vibe that they didn’t want our company, so Yana and I ate alone. That was nice, but we didn’t get to do any intelligence gathering. We returned to our room afterwards. The hallways of the Golden Arrow were quiet.

I knelt down on the floor to pray. After an hour, a knock came upon our door. I stood up and looked for Yana. She came rushing out of the bedroom and I could tell she had been sewing; I picked a piece of thread from her bosom. I couldn’t recall her using black for any of her flowers. “Have you started on my dress?” I asked. “I’m still working on the flower project,” she replied, hurrying past. I took my position, reclining on the sofa, and nodded to Yana that she could open.

There were two men outside. One was the guard from earlier, out of uniform now, but the other was a new face. I allowed Yana to let them in. The guard seemed embarrassed that I had fooled him before. It was the new guy who did the talking, and he handed Yana something. I asked to see it, and she tossed me a copper coin which I immediately recognized from Xipil’s home country. There was no chance that this coin didn’t come from Xipil’s purse. The new guy said they could tell us where to find our friends, or they could escort us there. Realizing the gig was up, I said they could show the way. If Yana hadn’t been there, I would have asked permission to kill them, but instead, I asked for a few minutes to get ready. The new guy said he would take us where we needed to go. He would wait outside the building.

I told Yana I smelled traps and treachery. She pointed out that they could have attacked us in our room, had they wanted. I didn’t know why they hadn’t. Maybe they didn’t want to make a scene at the Golden Arrow, or maybe they needed to take us alive. They knew who our friends were and they knew at least the name of Lord Mir’s aide and that we had some connection to him. I was afraid that they had captured and interrogated our friends. It wouldn’t be difficult to get information out of them.
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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