Bory looked around the bakery’s cellar.It was a pretty plain cellar – just what you would expect in a bakery.His eyes also took in the group of people apparently summoned by Lys and couldn’t prevent the thought that this was NOT what you would expect in the cellar of a bakery.An elf blade.A human rogue.A half-orc gladiator.An agent of the Arcaren! And, of course, a gnome druid.He shook his head slightly at the mystery of it all.
The rogue, a human named Karos he had met upstairs.He seemed like a good young man with an interesting and impactful background.Bory saw hope for a true friend there.Whatever his origins on the streets, it was not hard to see how he had ended up here.The others he simply didn’t know yet.And the agent?That was weird.He was here to help, but how much would he be able to do so if he was unable to use his magic?He was not registered.Yet Lys knew who he was and had chosen this stranger.Why?Mysteries . . .
But it was a mystery that that would not be answered right away.When Girta’a encouraged them to introduce themselves, he decided there was no reason to delay.He moved to the table and jumped up on one of the chairs and turned towards the others.“I’m guessing we are all here for the same reason.Our lovely young hostess urged us to introduce ourselves, so let me begin.I am Borborybodboddynock.”He paused, enjoying the reaction his name always created.He loved his name.“I will leave it short and spare you the rest of it for now.”At least a couple of eyebrows were raised and he laughed.“But you can call me Bory.”
"Welcome to Girta'a, I'm Haldred's Bake Shoppe," she spluttered and instantly, even as the words escaped her, knew she was fangirling badly. She blinked, blushed, and suddenly laughed at her own foolishness. "I mean to say Welcome to Halfred's Bake Shoppe, and i am not only a huge fan of yours, I'm also Girta'a."
Aymani smiled genuinely at Girta’a. The Baker’s daughter was not much younger than the gladiator and was one of her own kind. The girl’s attractiveness caught Aymani off-guard, and the warrior now found herself blushing at Girta’a compliment. “Ah… thanks!” she said with a slight smile before looking around at the baked goods for sale in order to avoid her captivating copper eyes. “I’m told the donuts are delicious here…”
The two made more small talk around fighting and baking, and Girta’a invited Aymani to the midnight meeting that Lus was setting up. By the time Aymani left, her heart was giddy with anticipation. She definitely was curious to attend this meeting and wondered about all the secrecy Lys was surrounding it with. But it was Girta’a that was making Aymani’s blood pump a little faster, the gladiator hoped the Baker’s daughter would be present later that evening as well.
Around Midnight at Haldred’s Bake Shop
Aymani found herself once again before Haldred’s Bake Sop, thought this time the warrior knocked. Girta’a answered the door and, this time, Aymani felt a little more prepared and smiled at the Baker’s daughter with warm confidence. She wasn’t prepared for Girta’a quick and urgent nod to come inside.
Once in, the gladiator looked around, let her eyes adjust to the light, as she took stock of the others present. Even as they followed Girta’a down into the cellar, Aymani was appraising them as she did her opponents in the pits, searching out the obvious and not-so-obvious signals that tipped her off on what type of person she was facing.
Once the lamps had been lit, Girta’a invited the group to sit. “I will answer any questions you may have,” Girta’a continued. “Get to know each other. I will return momentarily with some drinks and some food, and with luck we can have you on your way by morning."
Aymani’s gaze stayed with Girta’a, and she watched the Baker’s daughter leave while the gnome introduced himself. Aymani smiled slightly at Bory’s joke on his name.
When Bory was finished, the gladiator chimed in, returning her eyes back to table. “I’m Aymani, Lady Lys asked me to show up for this meeting. Any guesses as to why all the secrecy?”
After Girta’a had lit the lamps in the cellar, she bade the company to sit and acquaint themselves with one another while she excused herself to fetch food and drink. Castien didn’t sit immediately, though; instead, he paced slowly around the table, his gaze travelling between the assembled group and the maps on the table as the others began to introduce themselves.
“I’m guessing we are all here for the same reason,” the gnome said, unhesitant to spring into a chair and address the party, “Our lovely young hostess urged us to introduce ourselves, so let me begin. I am Borborybodboddynock...”
Cas grinned at the gnome’s enthusiasm and, admittedly, the little fellow’s name. He’d heard many times in his years that elven names could often be tongue-tanglingly complicated but, he figured, gnomes had elves beaten in that regard.
“…I will leave it short and spare you the rest of it for now,” the gnome laughed, “But you can call me Bory.”
When Bory had finished his introduction, the Lioness spoke next. “I’m Aymani,” she said, a faint smile on her lips as her eyes skimmed the table, “Lady Lys asked me to show up for this meeting. Any guesses as to why all the secrecy?”
The half-orc’s gaze chanced past his at that instant and he nodded faintly as his fingers came down lightly on one of the maps. “The situation in Ghostwood is complicated,” he offered, “there are things that are known and others that are only rumor. I imagine that it is these rumors that urge our secrecy. Should they spread farther than they have, already, panic may ensue,” the elf shrugged, then, his eyes panning from one face to the next as a cordial smile formed on his lips. “I am Castien,” he said, then, “a Blade of Astryliene. You may call me Cas, if you prefer.”
Bory listened as The Lioness and Cas both introduced themselves. He smiled and nodded at both in acknowledgement. He waited for the others to introduce themselves as well. The Scavenger, in particular, was a huge question mark. It made him nervous, but he would trust his master. He had never personally met Lys, but if Haradaya trusted her, then Bory would do so. And it seemed these others did as well. But the Arcaren Agent still made him nervous.
Once the introductions were complete he turned to Castien and, still standing on one of the chairs and leaning a bit on the back, he asked about the rumors. "What are the rumors? I have heard little beyond general statements of mystery and mayhem, with most of that coming from people who are likely to know less than nothing of substance. Do we know anything with certainty and, if not, what rumors have you heard?" He looked at teach of them in turn. The elf had given the impresson of knowing something, but it was possible that any of them might know something. Except, he supposed, himself. He knew next to nothing. He would feel better if he knew more about what they were getting themselves into - and even what they were trying to accomplish.
Perhas Girta'a would be able to add something more as well.
From upstairs, Papa called down to bring up a large pot of the stew, and that he'd be down soon. Girta'a rolled her eyes and told him she would in a moment, then turned back to Karos. "I'm sorry, would you mind? I can't leave the shop in case others come. It'd be a big help, and big fill of your belly," she added with a laugh, and without waiting for him to agree or not, disappeared intot he kitchen. When she returned, she cradled a large steaming stock pot in one arm, and basket laden with loaves and cakes in another.
"It's just up there," she explained, and gestured with a toss of her head. "thanks agin, I really appreciate this." She quickly filled his arms and snt him on his way.
"Well met then.". Karos smiles at Girta'a and waits patiently as her father and her speak. When she asks for help, he blinks a bit in surprise but nods, a bit grateful for the distraction. If he didn't have anything to do, then he would just wander around the marketplace, hoping to catch a glimpse of his old crew members.
Taking the things from Girta'a, he focuses on the work, enjoying the distraction.
In the Cellar, Karos quickly glances around, taking note of possible escape avenues as a habit. Or at the very least a place to hide. The Gnome is beside him and although Karos would try to smile and such, he felt no need to make small chat or introduce himself.
As he walks further into the Cellar and a familiar voice greets him, Karos relaxes much more and his face breaks out into a genuine smile.
“Karos!” Castien’s smile returned, full and friendly, at the sight of the young rogue and he stepped forward to greet his friend as they reached the bottom of the steps. “Nae saian lumme’, mellonamin, (It has been too long, my friend)” he grinned, clasping Karos’ forearm in greeting, “You look well.”
Clasping Castien's forearm in return, his mouth opens to respond when a loud knock resounded. Turning his attention towards it, he smiles at Castien and quickly says "I am well. We'll chat later.".
Karos is rather silent while he listens, trying to figure out which mask, which persona or demeanor would be appropriate here... No you fool, these are supposed to be your companions. No secrets necessary, no facades. Dammit Karos. He curses mentally at himself as he suppresses his instincts.
When his time for introductions come, he speaks "Hello everyone, My name is Karos. I'm quite well suited for slinking around in the shadows or gathering a lot of attention I find, and I am looking forward to working together with all of you.".
As for the contents of the mission.. He was not overly worried about it. Someone has asked me to help Cas and I will. There is nothing else I need to know then.
she worrried at Lys' absence, and spent precious moments pacing the kitchen, waiting for her, for signs, for anything. Her thoughts raced, and she couldn't understand why she'd been suddenly left in the dark to handle these strangers whose lives had already touched hers. How could she send them out into such uncertainty?The half-orc woman shook her head, took a breath, and grabbed a basket. without knowing how long they would be, or if she should keep waiting, she added three bottles of wine and some fruit, some cheese, and some rolls, before heading downstairs once more, with only s single backwards glance with the slim hope that Lys might arrive soon.
Once downstairs, she paused a moment to stare at the people waiting on her for answers. Again, she longed for Lys to be here, to take this burden from her. but she had accepted that her life would change once she accepted this task, and change it had. She now felt responsible, with a deep keen sharpness, for each of their lives. How many of them would survive, she wondered. And it made her quite sad. Lowering her head a bit, she moved to the table and set down the basket. "Please, feel free to partake," she offered, before pacing the room a litttle.
"I'm alloowed to share certain things, and Lys was meant to be here instead to help fill in blanks, so I might not have every answer you're looking for," she began, appologetically. "but here's what I know. Lys lost her sister 5 or 6 years ago, and lately, something has given her cause to look into that again. She wasn't entirely convinced it was or wasn't the Authority, but I can see by....by your presence here," she gestured to Soren, "she must have ruled them out? I guess that means she thinks someone else might be involved. REsponsible. I..." She paused again, looking at each face. "I'm sorry, this is...new to me. Bear with me. Lys has said she doesn't know why or what it means, but that Ghostwood was mentioned at the time of...in her sister's...when she died. And the only connection the Temple had with Ghostwood was a delegation sent there that disappeared. She tried looking into it herself and...and she got spooked."
Girta'a began to pace again, her hands knotting together and unknotting, her face clouded by uncertainty and concern. "There's been troubling rumors out of Ghostwood, she said. Animal attacks that shouldn't rightly happen. Strange deaths and disapperances. But nothing she could find gave any concrete proof, just lots of tavern talk and tall tales. She can't ask her sisters because they don't talk anymore. She can't ask the Temple properly because she doesn't have enough to go on. I guess the Grand... the... they told her, when she first tried to bring it up, that there was nothing they could do. So she tried on her own. but she was concerned enough that she needed outside help to have brought in the few people she could trust with this. so I don't know if the ones who killed her sister are after her, but it's probably why she couldn't be here tonight."
her pacing brought her to the back wall, snd she heaved a stack of crates out of the way to reveal a door.
"It's up to you how you want to get there, or where you want to start, but there's a network of tunnels that can gget you out of the city undetected. Or you can march right out the gates come morning like any other band of adventurers. If you go theough the city gates, I can supply you with horses and a wagon. If you choose the tunnels, I can't promise there aren't others using them, or things living down there. We've only had to use it a few times, and it was here before we took over the place."
Turning to look at them each once more, she felt a stab of regret at not being able to join them. "What else do you need to know?"
Wine - a great beverage for the hatching of plans!
While the group waited for the young half-orc to return Bory was not overly surprised that the others hadn’t jumped in to share information on Ghostwood.Nobody seemed quite certain what was going on and the presence of the Arcaren seemed to put a damper on everything.His presence particularly bothered Bory.He was a spell caster – and an unregistered one at that.It was very likely the other already suspected as much.Should he worry about it?If the man was true to the Authority then his life could be forfeit – and who had heard of an Arcaren that was not loyal?But then, Lys had summoned him.And Haradaya trusted Lys.So Bory trusted her.But he didn’t know if that trust extended to this man.
When the young half-orc returned she offered up some food and drink to the group.Bory was willing to fill his stomach and satisfy his thirst while he learned of his mission.As she started her introduction he opened a bottle of wine and poured himself a glass – silently offering to do so for others if they wanted.He then sat back with some bread and cheese to listen to the plan.
He was disappointed.There wasn’t much to it.Ghostwood and a few rumors about it and a missing sister.He already knew as much.Or as little, it seemed.It wasn’t much.Still, it was a place to begin.They’d probably have to just go and hope they could dig something up years later.Was that likely?He wondered as Girta’a finished her hesitant speech and offered them possibilities.
When she finished with “What else do you need to know?” it was hard not to respond with “something of substance,” but he knew it would do no good.It seemed clear the young girl had done her best and was a bit overwhelmed.He wasn’t sure about how they should leave the city.Was there a reason they needed to go in hiding?He’d never been a huge fan of horses but given the distance they needed to travel they would shorten the journey significantly. Supplies would be easier that way as well.In truth supplies didn’t worry him much since goodberry was such a useful spell, but then could he really keep the Arcaren supplied with magical berries?He liked the idea of it.But this wasn’t his city.He was a stranger here.He’d spoken first before.This time he decided he would wait and see what the rest of the group had to offer.
Bory took a sip of his wine and sat back to see what else would be said.
Lys was the target's name. Soren filed that away to examine later in greater detail. He had little to add, and no questions that those present could answer. Answers would have to come from the woman herself.
The only remaining issue, it seemed (other than the gorups general wariness of him), was how to begin. He had to stop himself from scoffing at the idea of the tunnels. Underground travel was for animals, and emergencies, thank you very much. And with what knowledge he had, there was no reason to keep there departure secret. As far as they knew, the Arcaren was supporting this venture. Still, no need to harp on about it. The most important thing was to get to Lys. To that effect, Soren spoke mildly. "I do not relish the idea of traveling underground. Are any of you opposed to leaving by wagon?"
Long moments passed in silence, and the young half-orc wrung her hands as she paced, her eyes moving from face to face, trying to guage their reactions. the gnome seemed eager, but appeared to be playing it cool, while Aymani seemed to nearly bristle at the idea of skulking around the tunnels. But as the silence dragged on it gained an awkwardweight, and in her heart, Girta'a began to worry that perhaps they were reconsidering. Maybe they thought she as being silly, or that she was making to much of the dangers Lys had presented. That wasthe problem, wasn't it, she mused. Without Lys here to explain just why they needed to leave in secret, or what dangers they might really be facing, they had only the word of a baker's daughter.
When Aymani stood, Girta'a swallowed hard and held her breath. Don't leave, she beggeed silently, please! But instead of walking, Aymani nodded to Girta'a.
"We should leave by the city gates in the morning," she said. "I will not hide in a tunnell like a rat. I just need to make a few arrangements."
Relief flooded her and she nodded. "Of course. Yes. You all muct have families, friends, arrangements. I'm sorry. Yes. Please, as long as everyone leaves togther in the morning."
And when Soren spoke up, her surprise was visible, and a warm smile tigged at the corners of her mouth. "There's a covered wagon waiting for you at the stables by the gate. Loaded with suppplies, rations. Maybe some sweets and pastries," she chuckled. "Ask for Old Peg. He's uh...he's an old friend of Papa's." Her voice trailed off as she looked to each of the others, trying to hide her hurt.
"I just...I just want you to know that Lys felt there was enough danger that she had to stop looking herself. So...I mean, who knows where the bad guys are, right? Obviously she was worried enough to make this meeter happen in a basement? So maybe they're already here. I don't know. I can't tell you more. And I wish to Astryliene that she were here to tell you what you want to know. But there's already a lot to look into. Be careful when you go."
Bory waited for the others to speak, but after awhile began to wonder how long he would have to wait. The young half-orc began to look nervous. Did the others have no opinion? Eventually two of them spoke in favor of the gates. Unlike those two, Bory would have had no problem with the tunnels, but then gnomes ahd a bit of the badger in them. If there was no need to go tunneling, the gates and the sunshine would be a better beginning. A beginning to what, he still did not know.
After the others had spoken Bory nodded. "I know of no reason to fear the gates and agree with the plan to leave by the gates." He then turned to Girta'a and continued. "And I am sure to appreciate the addition of some of your families sweets to our supplies. It is a shame that Lys was unable to join us here, but you have done admirably in filling in for her. We may not know much, but I think everyone here was chose by Lys for a reason and everyone has a reason to want to see this mission through. We will do our best to stay safe." He smiled at the young one. She seemed nervous and anxious to do the right thing. "Perhaps these others that are locals have things to take care of before we leave, but I have just arrived in town and am ready to head out again. Might there be a small corner here that you would allow me catch a nap in while I wait for the morning?"
(OOC: If Girta'a has a place for him to sleep Bory will take it. He will talk to her a bit about how she knows Lys to learn more about their (to him) unkown leader. But he wouldn't push as he suspected she didn't know any more. Most importantly, after everyone has left he will cast Goodberry so that he has a set of them ready in the morning. This will be his normal daily pattern - if he has a spell slot still available at night he will always cast this spell before taking a long rest.)
Aymani nodded once more at Girta’a. “Right! Stables by the gate. Ask for Old Peg. Thanks for having that prepared for us.”
Turning to the rest, “Eight hours at the city gate. Should give all of us enough time for what needs to be done. Head to Ghostwood, solve the mystery, be the champions – sounds like a good plan to me!” she said with a grin. “And you all have the look of making interesting travel companions. Should make for an exciting trip!”
“Now, I need to go. Got a few folks I need to kiss goodbye before I go.”
Aymani moved to leave, stopping only briefly to give Girta’a a light kiss on the cheek. “Thanks! You’ve done good in Lys’s absence. I’m sure she’d be proud of you. See you when we get back!”
Taking her leave, the gladiator moved swiftly back home, gathering a pack with the items she figured she’d need on the journey before heading to bed. Knowing from experience that her body would likely be even sorer tomorrow, the half-orc took the time to apply the ointment Seda had given her before settling down for sleep. She was excited, but lots of exciting things happened in her life and the gladiator had learned how to put an excited mind to sleep.
Waking up just before 6 am, Aymani quickly dressed herself for the day and made her way to the kitchen. Bojan had already left to shop for the meals for today, but Larisa and Martina were there eating their breakfast.
“’Mani!” Martina’s face brightened as the half-orc stepped into the room.
Aymani’s face reflected back the same brightness. “’Tina!”
The gladiator made her way to the toddler’s chair, and rested her head on the table near Martina’s bowl of oatmeal. Martina quickly got a spoon full of the porridge and proceeded to try and push the spoon into Aymani’s closed mouth while commanding the half-orc, “Open! Open! Open!”
The gladiator finally opened her mouth, taking in and devouring the oatmeal. Smacking her lips, the gladiator would look at the child with wide eyes and exclaim, “Yum!” to which Martina would giggle and giggle.
This had been their morning ritual for a while now. Larisa merely rolled her eyes and shook her head at the silly routine. “The lioness and her little lion tamer.”
Aymani gave Larisa a toothy grin and a little roar as she grabbed her own bowl of oatmeal. “Cesla has taken me out of the pits… three weeks at least, he said.”
“So I’ve heard,” replied the half-elf. “Probably for the best, I say. The way you’re carrying yourself, I’d say those ribs could use a break.”
The gladiator grunted her affirmation.
“And,” Larisa continued. “Bojan could use your hands around here a bit. The Firesands…”
“You mean those heavy-set dwarves from Ahl-Jhian?” Aymani interrupted.
“The same,” replied Larisa. “Well, the lots of them thought it’d be smartest if they all sit down on a bench together. Not gonna to lie, it was no small pleasure to watch them tumble over each other as them fell to the ground. But now we got a bench to repair.”
“Hmmmm,” Aymani said, stalling for a moment before letting Larisa down. “I’m actually leaving with a caravan this morning. Sorry, Larisa, I thought, ‘since I’m going be out of the pits for three weeks, I might as well find some work’ and so I did.”
“I see,” Larisa replied, trying to hide her disappointment. “Which coster took you on?”
“None…. Well,” Aymani thought a moment. “the temple of Astryliene. We’re on temple business, I guess. Heading up to Ghostwood.”
“Temple business?” the half-elf asked quizzically. “What business does Astryliene have in Ghostwood?”
“Not too sure,” Aymani answered truthfully. “I’m just there to guard the wagon.”
“Careful, then,” Larisa advised. “You know better than I what can lie in wait along the road.”
“Aye,” nodded the half-orc, taking her last mouthful of porridge. “I’ll be careful.” The gladiator gave the half-elf woman a kiss on the cheek and one on the head of the child before taking her leave. “See you when I get back!”
The gladiator had one more stop before she could go – Ceslav. As she hurried to the dwarf’s residence, she ran through her head how she hoped the conversation would go between them. She was anxious… she knew the dwarf was fine about her taking on caravan work, but she also knew dwarf also had no love for Ghostwood and likely would be please with her taking up Temple business.
A man-servant met Aymani at the door and escorted her in and brought her to Ceslav. The dwarf too was enjoying a breakfast, though his was more luxurious than Aymani’s had been – eggs, bacon, sausages, ham.
Ceslav looked up from his meal. “Aymani! Come, take a seat.”
“Thank you, Ceslav.”
“How are you feeling,” the dwarf inquired. “How are those ribs? Let me see them.” Aymani obliged, allowing her sponsor to see the colourful bruising that had formed. Ceslav nodded before continuing. “You come dressed for real battle though. Couldn’t rest for more than a day?”
“You know me, Ceslav,” replied the girl. “Gotta keep this body fit and you got me out of the ring for three weeks! You know I can’t sit for three weeks, running errands and fixing benches.”
“Aye,” nodded the dwarf. “I know you. Where are you heading and for how long?”
“Ghostwood,” came Aymain’s response. “And I don’t know how long yet. I wanted to let you know and I was wondering…”
“What is it, girl?” asked Ceslav. “You know I don’t go giving out coin, so what is it?”
“Well,” the gladiator pressed forward. “I was hoping maybe you still had a map from the days the Titans worked the paths between Watertown and Ahl-Jhian? Maybe a map I could borrow for this trip?”
OOC:I’m leaving it here for Lady Dark’s response. Regardless of his response, Aymani will head to the gate next and wait for the team to arrive.
Soren tried his best to keep up the near-emotionless mask that allowed him to face the things he had to do. It was no good though. He felt for the girl. And her obvious worry was both amusing, and adorable. He cracked a small smile as he moved to follow the others out. "You did as well as you could." With those admiitedly less than comforting words spoken, he made his way back.
Once in there, he moved swiftly. Looking over his family's books and dealings, he searched out whatever information there was on Ghostwood, the surrounding area, and the most likely route they'd be taking. He also wrote a note to be sent to Obduresc. He didn't imagine he'd get much help from the Arcaren, but it didn't hurt to ask, so he inquired as to their knowledge of the area, and any known or suspected mage activity there. They'd be able to get a message to him on the road, or perhaps in the city itself one he arrived, assuming it couldn't be done tonight.
What little he could do taken care of, Soren checked his travel supplies, then slept for what time he could. It wouldn't do to be late tomorrow....
(((OOC: Requests for info from the named sources. Can't wait to get this started.)))
Posted on 2018-05-13 at 05:48:25.
Edited on 2018-05-13 at 05:49:14 by Chessicfayth