Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-02-2021, 03:24 AM   #201
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 66 (2021-09-29)

21st of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

I spent the evening kneeling in the corner in communion with You. My friends sat around the table talking, and I heard the door open and close several times as they went to and fro. When the room had been silent for a while, I opened my eyes and turned around. Only Yana remained; her reassuring smile told me nobody had done anything foolish. Yana said she had arranged a bedroom for us upstairs, with thick walls and a door that you’d have to put your ear to in order to hear anything through it. We grabbed our packs and went to check it out. Yana asked if we should order food and drink, but I said I only wanted to sleep.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.


22nd of Ratanu, year 412

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

I woke when Yana began to stir. She squirmed against my back and her hands made it clear what she wanted. Her caresses were nice, but I felt too exhausted to respond even after a good night’s sleep, so after a while she got up and picked up her sewing.

I alternated between dozing and watching Yana work. After a couple of hours, Wolfram knocked on our door. He said our Nulius contact had arrived and wanted everyone to gather downstairs in fifteen minutes. Yana glanced over her shoulder at me, and I nodded and began the arduous process of dragging myself out of bed. Downstairs, servants had placed bowls of fruit in our private dining room, and Yana threw herself at the food. I picked up an apple and fiddled with it; actually biting into it seemed too much work.

After a few minutes, someone knocked on the door and Wolfram told them to enter. The man who had been with the “guard” at the Golden Arrow came inside. His eyes swept over the room. I could tell he was evaluating each of us, but he hid it well, so I don’t think anyone else noticed.

The spy said that Nulius wanted to give us a free pass into his organization. He promised whatever we desired of equipment and information if we would but do one mission for them. There was a village east of here called Ossei where something supernatural had happened on the night between the eighteenth and the nineteenth. If the rumors he had heard was right, Larma or someone religious were involved, and Nulius had thought we’d throw ourselves into the investigation. Wolfram agreed eagerly, and Grogg muttered about us doing something that night. I asked the spy if we could have a few minutes to discuss between ourselves if we would take on this task.

Xipil made sure the spy didn’t listen at the door after he left. Since nobody else had recognized the name of the village, I informed them that Ossei was the village on the main road where I had tracked down and killed the fleeing Tivito cultist after our battle at the demon-bear-haunted farm. I said I could give the spy a convincing explanation of what happened in Ossei and how I knew what had occurred. Yana whispered to me that if anyone were going to lie, it should be me. She didn’t think any of our friends could deceive a professional liar, and I nodded agreement. I spent the rest of the time until the spy came back convincing Wolfram and Xipil that I should do all the talking. If they tried being clever with technical or half-truths, they would reveal more than they intended.

I explained to the spy when he returned that I had been in Ossei at the time in question, and that the others had been nearby. From my observations and what I reasoned out afterwards, two people were killed that night, a guard lieutenant and an outside visitor to the village whom I was reasonably sure was a member of Tivito. However, I noticed nothing supernatural myself, nor did I hear any believable rumors of such, although it would be hard to say what Tivito was up to, and I’ve heard all kinds of things about them, both believable and not.

The spy was surprised to get this information already, and praised Nulius’s uncanny ability to know exactly who to ask. He said what I had told him might be enough, and in an attempt to seem helpful and cooperative, I said we had debated whether we should return to Ossei and see if we could find out what caused rumors of the supernatural, but since he seemed satisfied with the information we had already given, we’d rather not since we had things to take care of in Byblos and leaving wasn’t as straightforward now as in normal times.

The spy left to report and Grogg went to fetch Hylda and all the stuff from our former inn. Wolfram missed his gear, but didn’t want to brave the streets now that people were returning outside after the curfew. Everyone else had another helping from the fruit bowls, but I still only fiddled with my apple.

After an hour or so, the spy returned. He claimed to have good news, but first wanted to know what Wolfram and Grogg had been doing on the night in question. I told him they were sleeping, but he wanted to hear it from them. He offered to send us another batch of the house’s beer and let us finish our meal before coming back. I hurriedly tasted the beer when a server brought it, but perceived nothing off about the taste, so I allowed the server to enter the room and do his job.

We were still debating when the spy knocked again, and Xipil asked for another fifteen minutes. The spy sent more beer. Xipil insisted on telling everything to the spy. Wolfram thought the truth was too valuable to give up at this point. I tried convincing them that admitting what we had done would be foolish.

When the spy returned, I joined him in the hallway outside the door. I told him we had kept our part of the original agreement, and that he ought to deliver what he had promised. What Grogg and Wolfram – or anyone else for that matter – did under their blankets at night was none of his business. The spy asked why we were talking about this in the hallway; he sensed that I didn’t want the others to speak on the matter. Xipil opened the door and we went inside, and I repeated what I had just said and hoped the others would play along with my plan and let me do the lying.

Unlike what he had promised earlier, the spy was unwilling to give us anything. I asked if he could arrange a meeting between us and Nulius. He said he could try, but it would be difficult. I knew Xipil had seen Nulius at least twice here in Byblos, and whispered to him to ask if he could get me in with him. Xipil asked how long I could hold my breath, and while Xipil thought it might be possible to take me along his underwater path, I wasn’t so sure. Grogg distracted the spy by pulling up his trouser leg and showing his battle scars. “I got this from a flaming knife!” he said and pointed.

Apparently, it was Nulius’s organization who paid for our stay here at the Lame Mule, and Xipil asked the spy how long we could remain. We could stay however long we wished, the spy said before taking his leave.

Xipil asked if we should visit the Tsovin and Vagan temple to see if a letter had arrived for Biskutello, but I claimed to have a headache. Yana asked if I wanted her to stay to take care of me, but I told her to do as she pleased. She preferred to remain, she said, and we smiled lovingly at each other.

Xipil cast a spell to make himself look like Biskutello and had Yana look him over. She thought he looked like a disguised me. Wolfram didn’t want Xipil to lie to the priests at the post office, and would rather have him say he was a representative of Biskutello. Xipil retorted that Wolfram should do that himself, but Wolfram passed the task to Grogg, who agreed to go with Xipil and Hylda.

I declared I was going upstairs to lie down, and Yana put her arm around my waist to support me. Xipil followed us with his eyes as we left. I wasn’t sure if he believed I was unwell. In our room, I confessed to Yana that I didn’t really have a headache, but I just felt so tired it would be too much of a bother to go out. Concerned about my lack of an appetite, Yana chopped up some fruit and enticed me to eat it.

On his return to the Lame Mule, Xipil came up and knocked on our door. Yana opened. Xipil said he had received a message in Arani, which Yana asked to see. I pretended to be asleep and watched the exchange through nearly closed eyelids. Yana looked over her shoulder at me, but I gave no signal to indicate that she shouldn’t tell the truth, so she admitted to Xipil that we had sent this note at a time when we believed someone was spying on us.

I spent the rest of the day in bed, watching Yana sew. She was still working on those flowers. Although she was extremely skilled and made each flower unique, I was starting to grow bored with that project. Watching Yana, though, was not something I would ever lose interest in doing. When it was time for dinner, Yana forced me to sit up and eat with her.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.

The clopping of hooves outside woke me. I estimated around five riders, give or take a couple, and they made quite a ruckus. I shook Yana awake. “Get dressed and wake the others!” I ordered while trying to put on my cloth armor. Yana gave me a hand with it and then we both put on our dresses. I wrapped my knife belt around my waist while Yana went for the door, but someone hammered on it just as she reached for the handle. I rushed over and opened, one hand on a hilt behind my back. Outside stood the spy from before. He wanted us to come with him.
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2021, 02:01 PM   #202
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 67 (2021-10-08)

22nd of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

I threw on my cloak and was ready to go. Grogg and Wolfram had to put on their armor, which made the spy impatient, and he asked if Yana and I could make them hurry. The ruckus below continued, and at the time I thought it was the spy’s men arguing with city guards, but what was to come made me believe the city guards were the spy’s men, and that they argued with some of the inn’s staff or patrons to make a diversion for our departure.

I knocked on the door to the other room and asked if they were coming soon. Xipil replied that they were just finishing up. The spy asked us to follow as soon as they came out and vanished down the narrow back stairs. I led the way when Xipil, Grogg and Wolfram appeared; Wolfram was still adjusting the straps of his armor.

A wagon stopped outside the back door. I suspected the heavy construction was used for prisoner transportation, but the two drivers wore no visible uniforms or insignia. The spy unlocked the door and gave me both the padlock and the key. I gestured to the spy to get in, but he didn’t plan on coming, so I climbed in and pulled Yana with me. Two solid wooden benches were the only contents of the compartment. Yana clung to my arm once we were seated, for it was completely dark in there. The darkness didn’t bother me, of course, thanks to Your blessing.

Grogg, Wolfram and Xipil followed us inside. It wasn’t much room in the wagon. Grogg took up an entire bench by himself and Wolfram – nearly as large – practically forced Yana to climb into my lap, not that I minded in the slightest. Xipil settled himself on the floor between Grogg’s legs. The spy said we should lock the door, which was possible from both inside and outside, and I followed his advice.

Wolfram asked if we should signal for the drivers to go, but Xipil cautioned him to wait. The wagon would surely leave soon. Wolfram was concerned that the uproar on the other side of the inn would escalate, but Xipil assured him it was a cover-up for our benefit. Grogg fondled his club while we waited; I soothed Yana with a firm embrace. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the spy was actually in Larma’s employ and that we were being herded into a trap, but I kept my face smooth and my voice steady. Grogg and Wolfram were anxious enough as it was, locked inside a dark wagon, and Yana didn’t need me to agitate the mood either. I thought she was brave, coming with us into the unknown, unarmed and unarmored as she was.

The wagon started rolling after a few minutes. Xipil retrieved a glowing stone from his pouch and made the stuffy ride more bearable for himself and my other friends. Wolfram discovered that the wagon had four hatches, one on each wall, but they were closed. In fact, the hatches were double, hiding between them a locking mechanism. Xipil opened the one on the door and his nimble fingers bypassed the lock and slid aside the outer hatch so he could peek outside. He made sure the light source was hidden behind him.

The wagon didn’t go very fast, but eventually, Xipil reported that we were passing outside the northern gate to the temple district. A little while later, we turned south. It seemed we were going around the temple district towards the parade ground, but we stopped before quite reaching it. Xipil closed the hatch when it became clear we had reached our destination.

It took some minutes before we heard one of the drivers jump off and knock on the wagon door. Xipil put away his light-stone before we opened the door. The driver wore a nice uniform, making it clear he was no ordinary city guard. He asked if any of us were afraid of narrow tunnels and looked in particular at Grogg and Wolfram. Grogg commented that there wasn’t room for ten strangers in narrow places, so we would be all right.

The guard told us to follow him, and I registered that he was trying to hide his anxiety. I completely understood. If this was a trap, he’d be the first to die. He knocked on a door and opened it slowly. A guardsman inside said everything was ready. The two guards took us down to the basement, each carrying a lantern.

The guards unlocked a dungeon and led us past seven empty cells before bringing us out on the other side. One guard locked the door behind us while the other struggled with the one in front. He was nervous, all right, fumbling to find the right key, but I could tell he wasn’t a complete stranger to this place.

The next room was an interrogation chamber, and as soon as I set foot inside, I knew someone had died here, not long ago. I made Your sign in the air by reflex. There were several doors out of this room, and the nervous guard unlocked one and beckoned us to follow. A set of stairs led down, and I felt I needed Your permission to ascend again. Going down brings us closer to Your realm, after all.

At the bottom of the stairs, a damp tunnel went in two directions. It was low enough that both Grogg and Wolfram had to bend over to proceed. The leading guard looked at a note that he tried to hide, and then he took us to the left. We came to an intersection. The right passage sloped down, but the guard led the way up and to the left. I was glad; the other way smelled of sewage. Going up, the guard slipped and had to steady himself against the wall. He warned us about the slick floor, as if we hadn’t seen him slip.

We came to another crossing and the guard turned right. This hallway continued straight on for several minutes and had only one passage going off to the right along its entirety. The hallway ended in stairs leading up to a large, square chamber with massive iron bars cutting it in half. There was a large gate in the middle, with a solid-looking padlock. Along the walls were fixtures for chaining prisoners, and I could tell someone had died here in the last couple of days. On the other side of the room was another exit, stairs going up as far as I could see.

The guard looked around nervously and said we had to wait a little so he could pass us on. I glanced at the stairs going up and knelt to pray. I included Yana and Xipil in my prayer and added Grogg and Wolfram as an afterthought. They had come with me down here, and I would hate if they offended You. After a while, I could hear footsteps coming down the stairs. I finished the prayer while two people entered the room. One of them slapped the stone wall.

As I stood up, You blessed me with the insight that whoever had died here recently, their death had been violent. More people stomped down the stairs, and Nulius was the first of them. He wore a self-assured smile and gestured for one of the soldiers escorting him to shine his light on us. Nulius didn’t come all the way to the fence and probably thought himself safe, out of melee reach.

We said hello to Nulius, and he asked how much time we needed for our talk. I proposed that the guards left for an hour; the two who had escorted us left, but Nulius’s men remained. Grogg asked why we were there, but everyone ignored him. Wolfram told Nulius that we had an idea about what was about to happen in Byblos and asked us in a low voice for permission to reveal the prophecy to Nulius. He got our assent and went on to relate that blood would be spilled in one of Your holy places, a dragon would bring chaos, and a demon would claim lives. All within the span of the coming week. Nulius asked who had these visions, and after Wolfram had received another round of nods, told him about the old Azura priestess. Nulius was surprised that there had been a real Azura priestess here and asked glibly if this was what we had come to discuss with him. Wolfram brought up the conflict among the religious and said he wanted to know where Tivito kept their demon.

Nulius wanted to barter information. I told him Tivito cooperated with other cults to grant them the same privileges in the law, and that I didn’t understand how Tivito would benefit from this. Nulius said that this was not what Tivito was saying on the Council. Wolfram told how Elik and an Ashtarite apostate had been involved in the attempted assassinations of Niffi and other important people in Ur, which Larma – who control Tivito – had ordered. Nulius mused that the Elik people were interesting. In his home country in the west, they were called Elam and were used to drive out orc rabble.

When Wolfram and Xipil began to hint at what had truly happened outside Ossei, I asked Nulius to send his people away. I realized that he could just fill them in afterwards, but at least Nulius would have to take an active choice if he wanted to spread our story.

Grogg showed the hole in his armor where the Elik cultist had stabbed with his burning dagger, and Nulius understood that this had happened that night outside Ossei. I allowed Xipil to tell the story, since he had been so eager to, before. I just added our motivation for luring Tivito into this ambush, that we wanted to interrogate them for information about their demon.

Xipil told Nulius where to locate Korro, the prisoner they let go. Nulius jumped on the opportunity to get a source inside Tivito despite our explanations that Korro had just been brought along as muscle and didn’t know many of Tivito’s secrets. Nulius asked if Korro knew magic, which we denied. He was under orders to stay out of mages’ business.
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-15-2021, 02:08 PM   #203
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 67 (2021-10-08)

Nulius informed us he was going to lie low for a while, but then he’d make trouble. He admitted that he’d sail away with something valuable, but wouldn’t say what, except that it wasn’t a someone.

Grogg asked Nulius if he knew anything about the dragons in the north and south. Nulius wasn’t inclined to answer, but I insisted, knowing how important this topic is to Grogg. The dragon in the north had been defeated and wasn’t anything we needed to concern ourselves with. However, should we kill a northern dragon-worshipper, he would cover us in gold. Nulius didn’t know anything about the dragon in the south. He really didn’t like talking about this topic and ordered us not to discuss it with the people working for him.

I asked where Lord Mir was, but Nulius wouldn’t reveal it. Xipil asked if he had heard from Pak and Groman. He hadn’t, but he could get a message to them. We could write it down later and pass it to one of his men.

Nulius nodded sharply, did an about turn and vanished up the stairs, taking the only lantern in the room with him. I took Yana’s hand, and didn’t let go even when Xipil fished his light-stone out of his pouch. It was so nice to hold Yana’s hand; it was so nice and soft and it occasionally sent shivers up my arm.

I took Yana down the stairs so we could look for the approaching guards. We would see their lanterns the moment they stepped into the hallway, and it would take them minutes to reach us, plenty of time to get Xipil to put away the light. I found a step that wasn’t as dirty as the others and guided Yana to sit there. The light pull on my hand indicated that she wanted me to sit beside her, although that was quite unnecessary. I sat down and Yana clung to my arm, resting her head on my shoulder.

We sat for ten minutes in the darkness, listening to our friends voices up in the big room. The stairs were just long enough to make discerning words difficult, but if they said anything important, I was sure they’d repeat it when they knew we could hear them.

Light appeared on the other end of the corridor. I turned my head and called up that the guards were coming. The two guards reached us while our friends were on their way down, and one of them squeezed past them to see that we didn’t leave anyone behind. When they were satisfied, they took us back to the dungeon.

The guards told us to choose cells and promised to let us out when the sun rose. I pulled Yana into the most comfortable-looking cell. Only two had mattresses on the floor. Xipil snagged the other one. Wolfram got a hint of panic when it became clear that the guards intended to lock the cells. I didn’t worry. Xipil could probably pick the locks and get us out, and I realized I didn’t care if this was our time to die, I only regretted bringing Yana. I laid out my knife belt on the floor so they wouldn’t poke at Yana when she held me. Lying right in front of me, I would have easy access to the knives, should I need it.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.


23rd of Ratanu, year 412

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

I woke to the sound of a creaking door being opened. I put on my belt and went up to the cell door to look at what was going on. Two strange guards were peering into Wolfram’s cell, confused that he was allowed to have weapons with him. They asked if he had slept off whatever had brought him here, and unlocked when he answered in the positive. They took Wolfram outside and came back in. Then they noticed Grogg and unlocked his door too. I spoke up, asking if they could unlock for the rest of us as well, but their routines apparently didn’t allow them to open more than one cell at a time. It didn’t take long before Yana and I were let out. Grogg and Wolfram waited in the alley outside and Xipil soon followed.

In case we were overheard, I asked, “Should we go back to where we have rooms?” I didn’t want to give away the name of the Lame Mule. The others agreed, but Wolfram wanted to look around the corner first, obviously to check out if the streets were packed with scary strangers. Xipil asked if I happened to have brought the river thistle. I said no, for I hadn’t considered it before we left the inn, but I checked my pouch just in case. Actually, there were several poison vials in there, including the one containing Your holy venom. I asked Yana to remind me to put hide them in my medicine kit when we got back.

I didn’t have my syringe, so I did as I had done the first time I dosed Wolfram with river thistle, and measured up the appropriate amount in his hand and told him to lick it up and swallow. Since Wolfram is so big, I gave him double what I would have given someone of normal size, like Yana or Xipil.

We stayed a little in the alley, discussing which route to take to the Lame Mule. When the drugs had had some time to do their work on Wolfram, we started walking. Xipil led the way and avoided the largest groups of people. The river thistle hadn’t worked that long, and it takes longer when one drinks it rather than injecting it directly into the blood.

When we reached the inn, Grogg hurried upstairs to check on Hylda. Wolfram followed after him. Yana, Xipil and I glanced at each other before going up to our rooms. I expected Xipil and Wolfram wouldn’t have a very good time, unlike Grogg and Hylda.

We hadn’t slept very long, neither here before going to see Nulius, or in the cell, so after putting all my poison into the medicine kit, I crashed onto the bed. “Are you all right?” Yana asked with worry on her voice. “I’m fine,” I mumbled into the pillow. Yana helped me undress, then took off her own clothes and climbed into bed with me. I knew she wasn’t convinced, for she stroked my hair and hummed a soft lullaby before initiating our prayer.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2021, 07:53 AM   #204
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 68 (2021-10-16)

23rd of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

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

Xipil knocked on our door, waking us. I asked if it was important and he only said maybe, so I told him to go away. Xipil insisted, changing his response to that it could be very important. Yana said we were coming and helped me out of bed and into my clothes. She asked if there was something we needed to talk about, or something we should talk to our friends about. I countered, “What would that be?” Yana said we could discuss it later.

Wolfram was also on the way down to our meeting room when Yana and I came out. Xipil, Grogg and Hylda were downstairs already, as were a dwarf and his troll body guard. The strangers nodded to us when we came in, and the dwarf asked Xipil if we were all there. The troll closed the door when Xipil said yes. The dwarf continued to address Xipil. “Are you the one called K’sipil? I have business with K’sipil.” The two of them had obviously not met before, and they shook hands. The dwarf’s name was Krago and the troll was Bruto.

Krago removed his heavy backpack and put it on the floor. He took two keys and unlocked a metal box. Inside was a peculiar mechanical contraption, and Krago asked us not to make any sudden moves. Xipil stepped closer cautiously to get a better look, but I remained near the door with Bruto and Yana. Krago said that if anyone felt clumsy, they should probably sit down. I glanced at Grogg, who was looking at Wolfram in the same manner, albeit more obviously. Nobody moved. Krago fiddled with the mechanism and pulled a smaller box out of it. He put that on the table and said we could relax now. I couldn’t see very well from where I stood, but I heard six or seven clicks before Krago opened the little box and plucked out a folded and sealed piece of paper, which he opened and read silently.

After reading the note, Krago asked what he could help us with. For some reason, everyone assumed Nulius had sent him. He never said anything to indicate that and nobody actually asked either. Wolfram leapt right into it. He wanted to know where one could hide magical artifacts in Byblos. Krago thought the question was strange, but got out pen and paper and began to write. With his back half-turned towards Yana and me, I would have to move if I wanted to read what he wrote, but unlike Xipil, I can contain my curiosity.

Xipil reminded Wolfram that it was the demon we were interested in, not just any magical artifact. Krago asked if we knew the name of this demon, and Xipil said it was Volkir. Krago kept writing. Wolfram explicated that if Tivito were hiding a demon named Volkir in or around Byblos the next few days, we wanted to know where.

Wolfram looked at me and asked if we should ask about temples where genocides may be brought about. I didn’t care enough to respond, so Wolfram moved on. He turned to Krago and asked where Elik were located. The dwarf asked questions to learn precisely what Wolfram wanted to know.

Xipil came over and asked me if I was interested in evidence that Tivito said one thing on the council and another thing to the cults. I stared blankly into the air and Xipil returned to the table. Why should I lift a finger to help those who ostracized me? My task was to find Your true sibling, and I didn’t need the temples for that. If not for Your orders to stay with this group, I would have abandoned Wolfram’s Tivito crusade and left Byblos.

Wolfram overheard Xipil’s question and asked Krago for evidence. He wanted documentation of Tivito’s law proposal. Xipil helped him clarify, but it wasn’t easy, for neither of them knew how the King’s Laws were passed. One of Wolfram’s suggestions was so despairingly worthless that I blurted out “No!” He had wanted to narrow the search to laws proposed by Tivito, when they clearly could use strawmen to present their case. Nobody but Yana seemed to notice my outburst, and asserting myself seemed too much of an effort. Fortunately, Wolfram and Xipil managed to arrive at a sensible request for Krago: Any proposed law still under deliberation, mentioning at least one of You, Tivito, Kabal or Elik, should be brought to our attention. Krago asked which languages we mastered. Wolfram mentioned Common, but nobody else spoke up, and Krago made his notes with a warning that some things may be lost in the translation.

Wolfram asked if Krago could find out if any religious organizations were gathering arms in or around Byblos. That was clear enough for him to bring to his subcontractors. While Krago noted this down, Wolfram asked if Grogg wanted to know anything. Grogg had been almost as silent as me during these proceedings.

Grogg wanted to know everything Krago could find out about dragons. Krago didn’t believe in dragons, that was clear, but he promised to deliver what he could unearth of myths mentioning dragons, and in particular stories describing how dragons were killed.

Wolfram asked if we could require equipment too, or if Krago could only deliver information. Krago said we had the highest requisition rank, using the same wording as Nulius’s spy. In my mind, this was the first indication that he could possibly be working for Nulius. I still didn’t trust him. Bruto didn’t look like he paid Yana and me much mind and I didn’t think it would be too difficult to apply venom to my knives without him noticing, were it not for the fact that I had left all my poison upstairs. I would have to bite him, if it became necessary to kill.

Grogg said he wanted one hundred gold pieces. Wolfram showed his large knives and asked for higher quality versions of those weapons. Krago measured the weapons and continued to make notes.

Wolfram added that the information we had asked for, except regarding the dragons, would be worthless if we didn’t receive it before four days had passed.

Xipil would like information about some star signs. Krago didn’t know or care more about the star sky than me, and he got Xipil to make elaborate descriptions of the signs, so he could accurately pass on to his subcontractors what we wanted to know.

Krago suggested that the Lame Mule would be the place of delivery, and my friends agreed. Wolfram said he could deliver to any of us present; he didn’t need to wait for all of us to gather if someone had gone out.

If there wasn’t anything else, Krago would like to get on with the delivery, he said, but of course there was more. Grogg wanted a huge sheet of fine silk, as well as silk thread, and Xipil wanted four new arrows. Krago wrote it down, then he turned the sheet around and made six lines where we should sign. Grogg took the pen first, and after he had scrawled his name, he was asked to dip his middle finger in the ink and make a fingerprint next to his name. Hylda signed the same way, as did Xipil and Wolfram. Krago looked expectantly at Yana and me, but I shook my head slightly. “I don’t need to receive anything,” I said.

Krago began to fold up the paper. I took that to mean that business was concluded, so I walked around Bruto and opened the door. Yana hurried after me to our room where I crashed onto the bed, exhausted. Yana fluffed my pillow and made me comfortable, and then she sat down with her sewing.

After a while, Yana asked if I had considered what she asked before we went down to the meeting. I told her if she wanted to talk to the others, I wouldn’t stand in her way, but Yana didn’t think that it was so important for her to talk to them. I knew what she meant, but I didn’t feel up to the task. I didn’t think they appreciated my company anyway. They’d be glad to see me go, at least if they could retain Yana to keep them from making social gaffes, although I had to admit they muddled through the meeting with Krago without need for our intervention. As I mentioned, Your orders leaves them stuck with me, but I don’t have to torture them with my unwanted presence needlessly.
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2021, 08:14 AM   #205
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 68 (2021-10-16)

Yana was desperately worried about me being tired all the time, and I must admit it confused me too. Maybe it was the dilemma I faced that drained all my energy. I need to find Your sibling, but I also have to stay with a crew who clearly don’t want me. Except Yana, of course. Since my so-called friends would be better off without me, I was tempted to offer Yana to accompany me on a one-way trip to Your realm, but I couldn’t do that, for my task in this world was not finished. I felt tears welling up in my eyes, and I turned my back to Yana, so she wouldn’t see me cry.

I must have dozed off, but I startled awake when someone knocked on our door. “Who is it?” Yana asked. Xipil’s voice said they had something for me, so Yana went to open. Xipil held out a lidded beer mug and said it was for me and that there was cake and tea downstairs. Yana replied that I wouldn’t appreciate the “gift”, knowing I wasn’t keen on alcoholic beverages. Grogg insisted I would like it and Xipil added that Yana wouldn’t.

Curiosity got the better of me and I got up and reached for the mug. Your presence washed over me and cleared away my exhaustion. When I touched the mug, I could feel what was inside. It was a pregnant blue-bellied river striker, a thirty-centimeter-long viper. She was healthy, but a little afraid, so I took the mug with me inside the room and opened it. “What did Grogg do to you?” I asked in Common so the troll would understand. The viper hissed back that the bird didn’t harm her and that she was grateful that it brought her to me. I let her out of the mug and spread my fingers so she could intertwine herself with them. “I name you Hope,” I hissed in the snake tongue, “for that is the feeling you give me.” I turned to my friends and put my other hand around Yana’s waist with a big smile on my face. “Did anyone mention tea and cake?”

In the meeting room waited Wolfram with a big stack of sun buns and a large teapot. Grogg said to dig in and took his own advice. I hadn’t had lunch, so I ate two whole buns, as did Yana, so I suspected she watched over me the whole time while I was sleeping. Xipil was satisfied with one and Wolfram with three, leaving the rest to Grogg and Hylda. Much of it ended up on Grogg’s shirt.

Hope played among my fingers and I could tell she felt happy and safe with me. Yana commented that it was nice to have everyone enjoying themselves together again, and Hylda quoted that it is when times are hard, it is most important to enjoy oneself. Her mother used to say that, she informed us. Or was it her grand-mother? Hope froze for a moment when the spirit raven kraaed, but I got the impression again that she felt safe with me and grateful to Kraa for bringing her to me.

Xipil asked if I was all right, and I told him I had just been a little tired lately. Xipil mentioned the priest at the Terrace of the Evening Sun and said that the proposed law might not be as he expected. I quite agreed and said I wanted to go and speak with him. Wolfram offered to come along as protection. He could wait in a wagon outside, he said. He suggested that I mentioned that we were going to get evidence for what Tivito’s law proposal actually said, as if I hadn’t thought of that myself.

I said I wanted to go immediately, for the priest might well be at the temple long before tonight’s Meet. I suspected the Meet would be short, so attendees could get home before the sun had set completely. I proposed that Xipil went to the wagon company, hired a wagon and came back here to pick up whoever wanted to come along. I would leave now, with Yana. A glance at her told me she wanted to go with me. We went upstairs and readied ourselves for going out. I put Hope into my belt pouch along with my vial of self-produced venom.

There were more people at the restaurant over the temple today than there had been before. Some were dressed no better than Yana or me, and the guards didn’t stop us from entering. We did the ritual wash before descending down to the temple. There were a few people present, including a couple who looked like they had taken up residence there.

I didn’t see Jaryn, but there were many places down here where he’d be out of sight from the main chamber. I asked the snakes where he was, and one of them told me to look to the right. I did, and saw Jaryn and a woman cross an intersection of side passages. Yana had stayed back a little when I approached the snakes, but I pulled her with me after Jaryn. We rudely interrupted the talk Jaryn and the woman had, but the woman understood this was important and said they could talk later. Jaryn was surprised to see me. I told him I had come over some information, and he took us deeper into the passages.

I explained that Tivito was deceiving the other cults to support a law that would only benefit them, that the new law would give Tivito power over the other cults. Jaryn responded that this was not good at all, but there was something about me that made him trust me. He wondered what we should do about this. I said I was no lawyer, but if You told us to remove those who were pushing this law forward, my contacts could potentially stop it from taking effect. I suggested we went to see the other Ashtarites and gave Jaryn my word that he’d be safe. I said I expected a wagon to come here shortly; we could take that to wherever we needed to go, and in the meantime, Yana and I could disguise him, just in case.

Jaryn gave us the key to his third-floor apartment and said he’d meet us there in ten minutes. Yana and I went upstairs and looked through his closets to find clothes to hide his identity. When Jaryn showed up, we presented him with the disguise. I sent Yana out to look for the wagon.

It didn’t take long before Yana returned, and we went outside. Xipil had made the drivers park out of sight, but he had shown Yana before she came inside to fetch Jaryn and me. We climbed into the wagon and I told the drivers to go to the temple district. I would make sure they could drive in through the gate.

Xipil asked who Yana and I had brought, and I gave his name and said that we were going to facilitate a meeting with Jaryn and the other Ashtarite leaders, since neither side benefited from Tivito gaining power over us.

At the southern temple district gate, I disembarked and looked at the queue waiting to get in. The flow was good, but we wouldn’t be able to drive in without the assistance and permission of the guards. I located the leader and began to push my way past the queue. The people standing in line didn’t like that very much, but I managed to get to the guards eventually. I explained that I needed to bring my wagon inside and they allowed it, as long as we didn’t park anywhere. They also required a small bribe. “Stay in the sun,” I said with a reverent glance upwards. They’d likely take it as a blessing, but what I was really saying was to leave the shadows to me.

I returned to the wagon and asked the drivers to take us to the Tsovin and Vagan temple. The guards cleared the way for us to drive through the gate. We stopped briefly when we reached our destination. Xipil and I got out; he could run to the abandoned Tiri temple and look for Enani and Audria there. I asked Wolfram, Grogg, Hylda and Yana to protect Jaryn while I was away.

The drivers got the wagon moving again, and I went inside the temple. As she had told me to do, I entered the post office where I found a functionary and told him I wanted to send an urgent letter to Enani. The functionary went to get pen, ink and paper but when I looked at the paper, I saw instructions to go to a certain place in this temple where I would find wash basins. I should look for someone who knew how to wash in the proper manner and follow them.

I found the place not far from the main entrance and did the ritual wash there, in case someone was watching for that. Nobody contacted me, so I went back to the entrance where I could keep an eye on both the wash basins and the street outside.

When the wagon came by, I jumped in and told Jaryn and my friends that I had been promised that someone would arrive before sunset to take us where we needed to go. I asked if we should send away the wagon and wait inside. Wolfram didn’t want to, because of the crowd, so we decided to have the wagon drive around for now. The drivers had orders to go home before dark, so they might abandon us before our guide showed up.

I returned to the temple entrance and continued watching. Xipil returned after a while and told me he found Enani in Your temple under the north gate. Audria was coming too, he said. In that case, we needed no guide, so when the wagon drove by again, we got in.
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2021, 03:30 PM   #206
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 69 (2021-10-30)

23rd of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

Xipil asked the drivers to go to the northern temple district gate where he wanted me to get out and make sure we’d all get inside Your temple without incident. On the way there, I whispered to Yana, “Can you keep an eye on Jaryn? I’m not yet certain we can trust him, so if he looks about to do something … unwanted … you should ask Wolfram to restrain him.” Yana giggled behind her hand, acting as if I had just told her a private joke, but her bent index finger signaled that she would do as I asked.

Yana and I decided a while ago that we might need some secret signs to communicate privately without anyone noticing what we were doing. We were both practiced at making ourselves understood through gestures, but commonly known signs and easily interpreted improvisations were just that, commonly known and easily interpreted, and therefore poorly suited to secret messaging. Clearly, we needed signs that didn’t draw attention, so any movement must be slight, or at least easily camouflaged. It might be fun to develop our own private sign language, but there would be limits to how many discreet signs we could invent before having to resort to more obvious gestures. For now, that wasn’t an issue, as we had only come up with a few signs, meaning “yes”, “no”, “danger”, “help me” and “love”. The last one was Yana’s idea, and one she could easily display while her hands were occupied with sewing. During my depression, Yana had almost constantly had a hand with her ring and middle fingers held together while the little and index fingers were slightly splayed, silently announcing her love and support in my difficult situation.

We had discussed whether we should include our companions in our secret, but decided against it, at least for the time being. The main purpose for secret communication was espionage, an activity that our friends wisely left to Yana and me. We had agreed that we would revisit the question of teaching Xipil when we had fleshed out our language a little, since stealth missions might also benefit from silent communication.

I turned to Wolfram. “Can you stay close to Jaryn when we go inside the temple? I intend to advocate peaceful cooperation between the factions, but I’d feel much better if you’d keep him safe from any random hotheads that might appear.” Wolfram accepted the task and Jaryn nodded, saying he trusted me.

The wagon stopped and the drivers knocked to alert us we had arrived. I jumped out and asked them if it was possible for the wagon to stay where it was for a couple of minutes while I went inside to check things out. The drivers warned me that they would have to move the wagon if the guards asked them to, which I said was just fine. “You can take a short round and return here.” I asked Xipil where the temple entrance was, and he indicated that it was in through the eastern gate tower and downstairs.

I walked over to the gate and made Your sign to the guards. None replied in kind, but one “had to go inside to check up on something”. I made small talk with the other guards while I waited for him to return. I was a bit surprised to see Audria come out wearing a temple guard uniform. She didn’t carry a weapon like the other guards, I noted. She whispered something to the man who had fetched her, and I walked over to her, saying I brought friends. Audria said we had paperwork to fill out and I joined her in the ruse to deceive the non-Ashtarite guards. We went inside the gate tower and up the stairs. In an office there, Audria changed into civilian clothing while I repeated that I brought friends, and that we wanted to go down to the temple to talk with her. Audria warned me that I was putting my companions in danger by bringing them here. I dismissed the warning; we came prepared for trouble.

Back downstairs, Audria gave me two minutes to fetch my friends, speaking so the guards heard her and would expect more visitors soon. I went back to the wagon and told everyone to hurry up. Recalling the prohibition against weapons in the temple district, Wolfram left his crossbow, his longsword, his pick and his flail in the wagon. I grabbed the flail and hid it under my cloak; he might need it. Grogg got Hylda to fasten his maul to his back. Normally, I would have objected to him showing his weapon so blatantly, but expecting at least the possibility of trouble, I determined to intercede if anyone made a fuss about it. I was poised to strike, now that my target was in sight, and I wouldn’t let anybody stand in my way.

Yana poked me and glanced to the side where Jaryn waited with Wolfram. The priest was pale, and when he noticed me looking at him, he said he could feel that every step he took brought him closer to You. He bent down to place his palms on the ground, then declared he was ready. I nudged Xipil to show the way, but I walked beside him to make it look as if I was leading our party. Jaryn told me it was important for him to return to his temple for tonight’s Meet and I promised to make every effort to ensure he was there in time.

When we rounded the corner, Yana hurried up to me and pulled on my cloak. I turned to find Wolfram standing frozen in place, far more pale-faced than Jaryn. Wolfram had seen the crowd standing in line to get in through the gate. I was about to tell him that he wouldn’t have to go through the crowd, that he could hide inside the tower, but he unfroze and walked forward with determined steps. Ashes stained the ground where he had stood, and Xipil went to examine it while the rest of us continued.

Xipil returned before we had even reached the door, and he pointed out a guard who was clearly afraid of us. I thought the rest of the guards were unlikely to challenge us, too. With a troll the size of Grogg, armed where he shouldn’t be, I think they hoped we’d just go on our way without bothering them. There were ten of them, probably more inside the towers, but I wouldn’t bet against Grogg if it came to it. He could probably take them on singlehandedly, at least if he kept his wits about him. Against the Elik knife mages a few days ago, his anger had made him act foolishly and he took unnecessary wounds.

Inside the gate tower, Grogg offered to go ahead of Wolfram in case there was something scary down there. We took the stairs down and crossed a long corridor before reaching the wash basins. I reminded Yana how to wash her feet and hands but made sure Grogg, Hylda and Wolfram heard my instructions. Jaryn gave the impression that he had washed on everyone’s behalf, but I said I still wanted to go through the ritual cleansing. I was pleased to see that not even Grogg made a fuss. Hylda helped him; this is allowed, of course, as the intent is just as important as the act itself. Had Grogg refused to wash, he would have had to stay behind. Forcing him would have been a distortion of Your holy ritual.

I waited until everyone had their shoes back on before leading the way inside the temple. Jaryn stayed close to Wolfram but kept his eyes on me. I didn’t think he wanted to lose sight of me. Audria was standing at the altar with her hands upon it, praying. I gave Wolfram his flail and joined the priestess. There weren’t many people in the temple, only a handful apart from us, but I recognized Enani among them. My friends seated themselves on the stone benches, Yana and Wolfram flanking Jaryn.

I knelt and put my hands on the floor and prayed silently, asking You to give me the strength I needed for my imminent task and to give me the right words to say. “Do you feel it?” Audria asked after a minute or two. I scrutinized my senses. Was there a hint of nervousness or uncertainty in the air, or was that just me? A few snakes had slithered up my arms, which I took as a sign of Your approval for what I was about to do. They seemed very reverent and hadn’t climbed further up than my elbows, and while they felt something important was happening at the altar, they had felt that before I approached. I shook my head slightly and returned to my prayer.

When I stood up, the temple was empty except for Audria, Jaryn, my friends and me. And the snakes, of course; I felt blessed standing among them and kissed the ones on my arms. I realized how much I had dreaded this moment, but standing there, I had shed every emotion except anger and determination.
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2021, 03:47 PM   #207
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 69 (2021-10-30)

“May the Holy Mother of Snakes fork my tongue so all my words are spoken according to Her will,” I began. My gaze swept from Audria to Jaryn and back, pinning the two clerics in place. “From the moment I set foot in Byblos a couple of weeks ago, the conflict between our brothers and sisters has weighed heavily on my heart. I now know that it is Tivito who is the guilty party. They have deceived some of us with promises of privileges like theirs in the king’s law, but their proposed law will only give them power over the other cults.

I thank Ashtar for blessing some of us with the sight to see Tivito’s falsehood for what it was. I don’t have enough hubris to claim to understand why Ashtar didn’t bestow this blessing upon all of us and thus preventing this heart-breaking schism that arose between us. Maybe She chose to test us and gave us this challenge to strengthen us when we came through.

How we responded to the schism is ultimately a private matter between Ashtar and each of us. Still, I must convey how disappointed I have been, hearing and seeing what I have here in Byblos. The attitude that has met me in every temple and chapel I have visited has been a coveting to seize what one could for one-self and for one’s own. Some desired power, some desired safety. Nowhere did I hear anyone speak up to ask how we could stand together in this onerous situation. You have sought support and solace among the infidels. You have built alliances with them when you should simply have talked to each other. I’m not opposed to dialog with other religions, other cults, but we must never allow them to sow discord between us.

Since nobody as much as mentioned a desire for it, I took it upon myself, with the help from Yana and Xipil and our unbelieving friends Grogg, Wolfram and Hylda, to attempt to restore communication between brothers and sisters who had begun to shy each other. My effort was met with ill will from those who should have been the most eager to find a peaceful solution.

Some of you raised unreasonable demands – ultimatums – for agreeing to enter dialog. The only requirement we cannot deviate from, but which should never even have to be mentioned, is that we must not act against Ashtar’s will. Others met me with rudeness and secrecy. Yes, sometimes we must remain anonymous in our work for Ashtar, but when we talk to each other in confidence, I think if we still don’t want to divulge our names or our ranks, we owe it to each other to at least be polite enough to explain why.

Even though I was saddened to meet such attitudes, I was still willing to make a sincere effort to break through the barriers dividing you. But then I was betrayed, or at least it felt so. I was told we couldn’t talk anymore and that our holy places were barred to me. I was told I had done something so sinful that simply being in my presence endangered our brothers and sisters. There was no will to hear that in all my actions, Ashtar had been with me.

My work for Ashtar has never been free of risk. I can make myself an enemy of the infidels, those who don’t comprehend Her holy truth, but that is even more reason to embrace me and welcome me to our chapels and temples. Give me a place to hide! Give me advice and council! Smuggle me out of town if you decide it is necessary! But don’t throw me out into the street! Don’t condemn me for executing Ashtar’s will when you yourselves don’t have the guts to do what She commands!

I was on the verge of giving up, for it seemed you had done so already! If our temples here in Byblos had waged war against each other, wiped each other out even, Ashtar would still remain, so why should I care? If the law, as it had been presented to us, had taken effect, what would that mean to me? I follow Ashtar’s law. When She whispers in my ear, it is Her words that rule my actions. I go where She tells me to! I speak the words She puts on my tongue! I slay those She marks! What a group of bloated aristocrats have decided should be the so-called “king’s law” couldn’t interest me less!

I understand that when we live in a society where many have yet to see the holy truth, we need worldly laws to govern harmonious coexistence. But those laws must never be allowed precedence over what Ashtar tells us! That is why we are gathered here now! I have heard that the law proposal that Tivito has tricked many to support is not the law they claim it is. We can never allow a worldly law to give others authority over how we shall serve Ashtar!

We must set aside our differences! We have a common enemy: Tivito, who seeks to trick us into giving them power over us. We must stand together to defeat the evil that threatens us all! If my suspicions are correct, we must prevail before the Day of Judgment. Our time is short, but together we can be victorious!

I have some thoughts about how to attack the situation, but I’m a stranger here, and with the rank of Slitherer I won’t pretend I can command you. Byblos isn’t my city; the temples and chapels here are not my temples and chapels. It is your people, your snakes, your brothers and sisters, who are in immediate danger, so it is the two of you who must make the necessary decisions. I stand ready, available for any task you decide. I just have one demand: That we follow Ashtar’s will. Now, let us pray!”

I had been so focused on berating Jaryn and Audria that I hadn’t even noticed that Enani and the other Ashtarites had returned. There were more of them than I remembered. Audria nodded to me and led us in prayer, praising Your holy message. Then she announced that all quarantines were lifted; everyone could go where they pleased and talk to whomever they wanted. The congregation was surprised. Some were uncertain what this meant.

Audria put her hand on my arm and said she was going outside to tell those out there about this. Jaryn watched me with concern in his eyes, so I went to sit down with him and my friends. “What now?” he asked. I said it had to be up to him and Audria to plan how to attack the situation. If they agreed that it would be best, we would go back to the Terrace of the Evening Sun. Jaryn asked if I dared hold the same speech there. Slightly offended, I said of course I did. Xipil commented that Elik might feel duped too if they got the same offer from Tivito as the Ashtarites had. I agreed, but I wasn’t keen on presenting my case to them without proof of Tivito’s duplicity.

Enani left, and many congregants took that as a sign that they could go, too. Many stayed behind, though. I told Audria that Jaryn wanted to return to his temple and that I was going to speak there as well, but I repeated that the two of them had to cooperate. I asked if they wanted to speak privately before we moved on, and the clerics left the main chamber to talk in the side passages.

I returned to the altar and sat down to pray with the others there. They were more deferential than my rank should imply. They probably felt guilty about the situation that had arisen in Byblos and I supposed they didn’t want me to give them the rough side of my tongue. They might not believe my claimed rank of Slitherer, considering how I had just castigated their leader. I gave them all reassuring smiles before closing my eyes. While I prayed, I sensed that what had transpired here had caused You to change Your mind about who was to die. Pride in my accomplishment surged through me, but my eyes burst open; I mustn’t let it get the better of me. After all, it was You who gave me the words to speak, You who blessed me with a forked silver tongue.

Audria and Jaryn had finished their brief talk, for Jaryn was speaking to Wolfram, clearly discussing something with the occasional input from Grogg and Xipil. Seeing me observe them, Wolfram raised his voice and called my name. Time to go!

Audria announced that the sun was on its way down, reminding everyone indirectly about the curfew. Jaryn thanked her for their talk, but I noticed that there was still tension between them. At least they had talked. I knew they would talk again, and all would be well. I had Hope. I patted my pouch with a fond thought for Kraa’s gift. As we were leaving, Xipil asked Jaryn if he knew how to contact Elik, in case we found evidence for Tivito’s deception. He didn’t, unfortunately.
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2021, 03:57 PM   #208
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 69 (2021-10-30)

Yana and I went to look for the wagon, leaving the rest of our party in the guard tower. The guards were uncomfortable with that, but they didn’t speak up. The wagon was still where we had left it and I asked the drivers if they had time to take us to the Terrace of the Evening Sun before leaving us. They said that would be all right, so Yana and I got the guards to clear the way through the gate for the wagon. With the crowd now departing from the temple district, Wolfram didn’t want to leave the tower the way we came in, so he found another way out and we picked him up outside the wall.

The two guards outside the Terrace of the Evening Sun scowled at Wolfram while he strapped one weapon after the other to his looming figure, but Jaryn told them we were with him. A middle-aged woman hurried down from the wash basins when we approached, for she didn’t recognize Jaryn in his disguise.

When we had all washed our feet and hands again, we descended the stairs. At the temple entrance, two young men – probably no older than me – challenged us and asked who we were. I told them my name and said these were my friends. They backed off and said we were welcome once Jaryn revealed himself.

Wolfram thought the temple was a little too crowded for his tastes and asked if he could remain at the door. The mood was quite different from the other temple; it was much noisier, and one man even shouted, “Will there be a Meet, or what!?” I said to Wolfram that it was fine if he stayed outside the main chamber, and asked Yana and the others to find seats close by.

I asked Jaryn if I should open the Meet. He replied that I had fulfilled my earlier promise, but he would let me take the lead here too. He was feeling a disturbance that he couldn’t quite place but said he trusted me to know what the right move was.

I went up to the altar and knelt, allowing the snakes to slither all over me while I prayed. I caught Yana’s eyes when I stood up. She smiled encouragingly, but I could tell she wasn’t entirely comfortable with all the snakes, even at that distance.

My speech at the other temple had been directed at Jaryn and Audria personally, so I adjusted it slightly to encompass everyone here. I didn’t tone down my wrath and I made the congregation feel my disappointment with them before challenging them to see past their differences with their brothers and sisters and encouraging them to cooperate again. Most people were receptive to my message, but I marked a few for further encouragement, including the two boys who had challenged us at the entrance and an older woman. Jaryn made no move to take over the Meet after my speech, so I continued by leading everyone in prayer. I may be young, but it was far from the first time I officiated at a Meet.

When the Meet transitioned to group discussions, I contacted the two boys and the woman and asked what issue they had with me. The trio were professional assassins, although they didn’t phrase it quite like that, and they were upset about Jaryn’s ban on killings. They felt that the leadership of the cult bereft them of their livelihood. I reminded them that it was You who decided who should be sent to Your realm, but they weren’t very devout. They had life and work outside the faith and disliked Jaryn’s interference in what they saw as worldly matters. They didn’t seem to be conspiring with Tivito, so I gave them a gold coin each and thanked them for their patience in these troubling times.

I mingled with the other Ashtarites. Many just greeted me and moved on, but I had a longer conversation with the woman who had fled us at the wash basins. I completely understood; we could look like a menacing bunch, even when we didn’t try.

Xipil waved me over and asked if it wasn’t time to get back to the inn. I told my friends – not including Yana – that they should go in case Krago showed up with information, but I was going to spend the night in the temple. I think I triggered Xipil’s curiosity, for he decided to stay with Yana and me when Hylda, Grogg and Wolfram left.

The assassins, who had gone up to the restaurant for a while, returned to the temple and asked if I had a job for them. They seemed competent but were probably not the best in the business considering how pleased they had been with a relatively small amount of gold. I had an idea for employment, but said I needed to discuss it with Jaryn first. The assassins had a table upstairs and would await me there.

I asked Jaryn if he knew who their target was. He knew only that it was someone religious. He told me that Audria seemed afraid of something, and I promised to check up on her. I said that with all the talk of danger I had heard lately, I would like to use the assassins as guards for the temple tonight. If it was all right, I would also stay in his apartment with Yana and Xipil so he wouldn’t be alone there. Jaryn didn’t want anyone to think that the temple wasn’t safe, so I promised to phrase my request in a way that didn’t imply any such thing. I said he could use the curfew as excuse to invite Yana, Xipil and me to stay with him.

In the restaurant, I sat down with the assassins and explained what I wanted from them. “Keep an eye on the surroundings and make a note of anyone watching the building. If something happens, find me, either in the temple or in Jaryn’s apartment. Otherwise, I’ll take your report in the morning.” I had to describe to them which apartment was Jaryn’s.

Xipil had opened the door to the small veranda and was meditating when I got up to Jaryn’s apartment. Yana was preparing sleeping places on the floor, but Jaryn hadn’t arrived yet. I told Yana that she could go to sleep; I would stay up until Jaryn came and when Xipil finished his meditation, I would talk to him about keeping watch through the night.

Xipil was still meditating when Jaryn arrived. The priest saw Xipil’s glowing eyes and asked if it would be safe to go to sleep. He tried to offer his bed, but I insisted that we youngsters should take the floor. Jaryn asked me to close the veranda door when Xipil had finished whatever he was doing, and then he went to bed.

Come to think of it, I have no idea how old Xipil is, but he strikes me sometimes as immature. He doesn’t act like a boy in puberty who behaves poorly towards the girls in a misguided attempt to get their attention, so maybe it’s just his curiosity and the fact that our cultures are very different that gives me that impression. If I remember it tomorrow, I might ask him. Hopefully, asking someone’s age isn’t a faux-pas in lizard culture.

When Xipil’s eyes stopped glowing blue, he turned and said to me that the stars were waiting for the same things as us. That didn’t mean much to me, and I asked if we could close the door now. Xipil asked what we should do about keeping watch, and I offered to take the first few hours. He went to sleep, and I woke him about three hours later. Nothing had happened. “Wake Yana for the last watch in a few hours,” I whispered before finding my place behind her. I put my arm over her and touched my palm to the floor so I could pray.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2021, 04:15 PM   #209
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 69 (2021-10-30)

24th of Ratanu, year 412

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

Xipil woke me not long after I had fallen asleep. Someone had knocked on the door. I put on my knife belt and opened. One of the assassin boys stood outside. He said he had information for me and asked if he could come inside. I spoke softly and indicated the sleeping Yana on the floor when I invited him to enter.

He told me that he had contacts who could be paid to find things out. One such thing that someone had wanted to learn was where Jaryn lived, and I got the impression that this fact had already been uncovered. Since I had tasked the assassins with finding out some things for me, I asked how much it would cost me to get answers from their source. One gold coin was apparently enough. That wasn’t much, so I handed it over. I said I didn’t request any specific information and let my visitor use his judgment. He replied that he was surprised that I trusted him, but I said that since he was an orthodox Ashtarite, why shouldn’t I?

He left, and Xipil came out of hiding. I asked the lizard man if he had any questions or if I could go back to sleep. Xipil didn’t say anything, but since he had heard every word I had just said, I clarified that although I had told the assassin that I trusted him, I didn’t really.

I woke in the morning to find Jaryn moving about. Yana had taken over the watch from Xipil, and she was sitting on a stool in the corner, so there was no reason for me to linger. She put away her sewing before I could get a good look at it, gave me a smile and was ready to take my hands if I had time for an intimate moment before beginning my day.

I got up and informed Jaryn that someone had asked for and learned where he lived, and I recommended he moved to another room if at all possible. Jaryn commented that he had moved only a couple of weeks ago after a similar threat, but he agreed to move again. I secretly signed “love” with my hands while talking to the priest, so Yana wouldn’t feel slighted. She waited patiently for us to finish with her hands in her lap, but she gave me the same sign back. Jaryn frowned slightly when I couldn’t contain the smile that forced its way out.

Xipil was awake, too, and when I said I wanted to go down to the temple, he mentioned Wolfram’s ashes. I said I could ask You about it. Xipil was concerned that the demon that had previously only afflicted Wolfram’s bear shape might have gained power over his human shape too.

Yana and Xipil wanted to join me for my visit to the temple, and we brought all our gear so Jaryn could move out at his own convenience. The assassin from last night waited for me in the hall. He had information for me. It wasn’t urgent, but he thought I should know that a woman had come to the temple to look for me.

We washed ritually and entered the temple. My eyes immediately picked out the newcomer, for she wore far poorer garb than was usual at the Terrace of the Evening Sun. I had worn something similar myself the first time I visited, and I had only just managed to talk my way inside. Either things had changed since then, or this woman was resourceful beyond her simple appearance.

I approached the woman. “Hello, I’m Nuur-Karif,” I said. The woman lit up like a bonfire. Her name was Nosora, and she was ecstatic about what I said yesterday that allowed her to come to the Terrace of the Evening Sun. She asked if I would come to the Cracked Kettle and speak there as well. She also said I was even more beautiful than she had been told. When I could get in a word edgewise, I told her I’d be happy to speak at her congregation. “Oh, no, it isn’t my congregation,” Nosora began. To keep her from trying to drown me in words again, I invited her to join me at the altar for my morning prayer. I asked You silently if there was anything You wanted me to do concerning my assassin crew. You conveyed that by interacting with them, I could help them to get closer to You.

When we had finished praying, I said goodbye to Nosora and that I looked forward to seeing her again tonight. I asked Xipil and Yana to follow me to the restaurant and make sure we weren’t overheard when I talked to the assassins. They didn’t have anything in particular to report, so I asked if they would consider remaining available in case I needed them. We agreed that they should stay at the temple tonight and that we should meet up again tomorrow morning.

Yana, Xipil and I left the Terrace and headed for the Lame Mule. Yana said it was good that it was I who paid these people; it made the city safer. Xipil asked what we were doing about Jaryn tonight. I said he felt safe and didn’t want to give anyone the impression that he didn’t, so we should probably leave him alone. The assassins would be alert and nearby, should he need assistance.

Hylda and Wolfram were up already and ate breakfast with us when we reached our inn. Wolfram asked if he was at greater risk from assassins in a crowd than if he was alone. Yana tried to distract him with talk of pickpockets. I twisted his meaning and pointed out that the probability of him meeting an assassin would be greater the larger the crowd. He asked if I preferred to kill in a crowd or if I preferred isolated targets. I replied that I would rather give someone a lethal drink than use my weapons. I joked a little, pretending to slip something into his beer in plain sight and he playfully offered Yana to have a drink. We turned serious again. I told him he didn’t have to worry about assassins. I had no plans to kill him, and I didn’t think any of the other Ashtarites had either. If someone came for us, their knives wouldn’t glisten with venom. They would glow and burn.

We agreed that we should warn Elik about Tivito’s betrayal, but we needed evidence. I didn’t think Elik would accept my word like the Ashtarites had. We decided we should try to locate Elik while we waited for Krago to procure evidence. Wolfram knew of a couple of slaves, a man and a woman, who had apparently had contact with Elik. I asked if we should wait for Grogg to get up before we ventured out, and the others agreed.

“Since we have some time to kill, would you help me wash out the dye from my hair?” I asked Yana. Her smile was just as wide as I had anticipated. I asked Hylda to let us know when Grogg was up, and then we excused ourselves and went up to our room.

I closed the door, took Yana’s hands and gazed deeply into her eyes. “I haven’t been a very good companion these last few days. I’ve rudely shut you out when you’ve done nothing wrong. Through all my misery, you’ve been so compassionate, so caring. I’m eternally grateful for that, and ashamed of how poorly and thanklessly I’ve treated you. I don’t know what I would have done, had you left me as I deserved. So, thank you, Yana, for being there for me when I didn’t know how much I needed your love. I’m forever in your debt.”

“No, Nuur-Karif, there is no debt between us. I did nothing that you wouldn’t have done for me if the situation was reversed. Seeing you happy again was all I prayed for, and Ashtar has granted my wish. If I may say so, and it’s only my guess, for you know Her nature much better than me, maybe She allowed you to plunge so deeply into despair in order to fuel your speech. We both know the power of words, but without the raw emotion you displayed at the temples, I don’t think the schism could have been healed. You spoke so passionately, you completely spellbound all of us listening. You even made Wolfram forget his fear of strangers, at least for a time.”

I smiled at Yana’s comment about Wolfram, unsure what was the greater accomplishment, averting the schism or distracting our enochlophobic friend. Yana smiled back, overjoyed to see me once again display happiness without restraint. I don’t know how long we stood there enraptured, beaming at each other, but Yana eventually broke the spell and pulled me into a hug. “Oh, how I’ve longed to see that smile,” she exclaimed. “But we came up here for a reason, didn’t we? Let’s get naked!” “W-wha…” I stammered. Yana’s hands on my butt didn’t make it any easier to respond – or even think – coherently, but Yana revealed her innocuous intent. “It wouldn’t do to get hair dye on our pretty dresses, would it?”
__________________
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

Last edited by coronatiger; 11-16-2021 at 07:14 AM. Reason: Spelling correction
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2021, 04:27 PM   #210
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 69 (2021-10-30)

I was lying on our bed, dreamily watching Yana working on her flowers and waiting for my hair to dry, when something heavy slammed into the wall. I sprang to my feet and grabbed my knives before realizing that Hylda was signaling via Grogg’s fist that they were about to go down. I rapped my knuckles on the wall between our rooms to let them know we understood. Yana gave me a solid kiss before allowing me to take her down to the meeting room.

Our friends were all present when we joined them. I closed the door. “So, shall we go and look for Elik?” I asked. Xipil pointed out that someone should remain behind in case Krago showed up. Wolfram was quick to volunteer as there would certainly be people out in the streets. Grogg and Hylda decided to stay with him.

Yana, Xipil and I headed for the slave building near the Golden Arrow. We observed the place for a few minutes and noticed the guards were registering who entered and who left. I asked Xipil if he could climb the fence unseen and look for the two slaves Wolfram had described if Yana and I distracted the guards. He was hesitant, uncertain how he could get back out without being noticed. I was confident in his skills and was prepared to make another distraction at a future time of his choosing, but after a short discussion and some additional scouting, Yana asked if we couldn’t simply have Krago order those two slaves for us. Xipil and I agreed that it was a good idea, and we all hurried back to the Lame Mule so we’d be there when Krago appeared. If he showed up at all, that was.

As it turned out, Krago had come not long after we had left, and he and his bodyguard Bruto were leaving just as we came back. We convinced Krago to come back inside, but he insisted we entered separately, so observers wouldn’t connect us to him.

In the meeting room, I asked Krago to fetch the two slaves, and had Wolfram describe them again. Since I hadn’t signed his contract earlier, Krago didn’t accept my request until my friends confirmed that this was indeed our desire. Xipil added that we shouldn’t meet the slaves at the inn since we didn’t trust them and left it to Krago to find a suitable meeting place nearby.

While Xipil spoke to Krago, I asked Wolfram what Krago had brought for us. Quite a bit, in fact: Money, silk, arrows, a book about dragons, a book about how laws are made, a proposed law which disappointingly wasn’t the one we were after, information about Xipil’s star signs and about demons.

Grogg, Wolfram and Xipil delved into the texts as soon as Krago departed with Bruto. I pulled Yana away for some alone-time. Half-way up the stairs, I remembered that we needed a razor, so we headed out to the market to acquire one. A quick peek into the meeting room when we got back told us our friends were still busy reading, so Yana and I slipped up to our room.

Yana saw how hesitant I was at the thought of touching a knife to her unblemished chocolate skin. “Start with my legs,” she commanded, “and work your way up from there. You might as well take a detour via my armpits, too.” Yana wasn’t shy at all and displayed my goal proudly, making my heart race. I worked the razor painstakingly slow so I wouldn’t accidentally injure Yana’s perfection. When I had finally rid her of every unwanted hair, Yana was about to burst with impatience. As I wiped off the remaining lather with a wet cloth, I marveled at how smooth she was, but Yana had reached the end of her tether. She seized my hair in her fingers and yanked my head down. “Kiss me! Now!” I wasn’t hard to ask.

By unspoken agreement, Yana bit her tongue so she wouldn’t cry out with ecstasy, just as I did whenever she pleasured me. I was afraid that our love might not be understood, nor well received. Yana had opened my eyes to the truth, and I knew that we weren’t the only same-sex couple in the world. Many would understand, but many others would not. I preferred not to have to talk our way out of trouble. Yana wasn’t nearly as concerned as me, but she understood my position and deferred.

When it was Yana’s time to wield the razor, she was ever so gentle, and while she was no less thorough than me, she was far more efficient. She was amused at the way I covered myself with my hands between my legs while she worked. “I’m completely smitten with you already. There’s no need to emphasize your bosom like that,” she joked, making me blush. Her amusement vanished in an instant when she nudged at my hands and I said, “You don’t have to shave that bit, do you?” I don’t know why I was so shy. I wasn’t afraid she’d have an accident with the razor, and it wasn’t as if she hadn’t put her eyes on that part of me before. Or her hands, or her tongue…

Yana got back on her feet and nailed me down with her eyes. “It’s either this, or I’m going to pour hot wax on you and rip out the bloody hair,” she threatened, fists on hips. Everything about her screamed at me how serious she was. There was no humorous lilt in her voice, no mischievous glimmer in her eyes. She really meant to go through with her ludicrous threat if I didn’t yield. I could understand why she’d want to rip away the hair, having had a taste of her smoothness, but the hot wax just seemed cruel.

Yana got her will, of course. She rules our bedroom activities as per our agreement, and it would be difficult to argue that this shaving didn’t fall under her jurisdiction. I might have had a case, had I not wanted my legs or armpits shaved, but that was a non-issue by the time she got to the sensitive part. Nor was I eager to see if I could convince Yana to relent on her threat; she was quite determined to make me as bald as her. So, after I had squirmed a little, I forced my hands out of the way, so Yana could finish me off. And she certainly did. I gasped when the cold, hard razor gave way to soft, warm lips.

When she was done, Yana slithered up and wrapped my arm around her, like for sleep, then she pulled a blanket over us to keep in the warmth. “It’s good to have you back,” she murmured. I felt kind of drowsy after what she had just done to me, and it didn’t seem like she had spoken to start a conversation, so I said nothing.

It was nice just lying cuddled up together like we did, but we had more to do before we could sleep, so when I thought I was about to doze off, I pulled back and tugged on Yana’s shoulder so she’d turn and look at me. “We didn’t sleep as much as we might have wished last night, so if we fall asleep now, I’m not sure when we’ll wake up again,” I told her, “but we don’t have to be at the Cracked Kettle chapel for some time yet. Maybe we could talk about the dress that you’re going to make for me?” Yana’s face had been more relaxed when she just turned around than it had been for days, now that she knew she didn’t have to worry about me anymore, but I picked up a minute tensing around her eyes. I thought she might feel guilty about not starting on the dress yet. “It’s no rush,” I said and changed the topic. “Do you think we’re the same?”
__________________
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
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
campaign log

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:40 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.