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    There are cities in the world that would make your jaw drop. Cities of wonders, so magnificent that to simply look at them is as to gaze upon the face of divinity. They are the pinnacle of human culture, and one within them could every day seek out a new wonder and never repeat himself for fifty years.

    Aldalar is not such a city.

    Today is a day like any other. The sun hangs stagnant in the air, seemingly ignorant of its duty to move across the sky. Even from here, miles from the coast, the smell of the sea floats through the air, bringing with it an oppressive humidity. For one without work, there is little to do but sit, watching the city, fanning oneself and praying that just a single cloud will pass over the sun, bringing with it the first true rainstorm in months.

    Fortunately for such people, however, Aldalar is not entirely devoid of activity. Today, a local college of bards is performing in an amphitheater near the center of the market district. More importantly, they are doing so free of charge- and little draws crowds so swiftly as the jingle of money they need not spend. Above the low chatter rises the quiet singing of a lone woman on the stage. She is not a poor performer, and her words make pleasant contrast to the oppressive quiet which so often covers the city. Many others seem to think so as well- the amphitheater is all but packed by vagabonds, thieves, and any others who lack regular employ. No doubt because of this, several armed guardsmen stand around the perimeter of the theater, glancing suspiciously about the crowd. Every so often, one of the bards will walk down the aisles with a small bowl, asking for donations.

    The bards have been performing since the early morning, and the theater has filled quickly. You were not so early as the others in the theater, and find yourself consigned to a long table nearly ten feet from the rim of the amphitheater.
    Last edited by Othesemo; 2012-06-11 at 04:51 PM.
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    "I still don't see how the daughter of a diplomat could fall so easily into a con like that."

    "Does it really matter? I mean, we didn't lose anything."

    "Because we don't have anything to lose. If we'd been more cautious with the funds we had-"

    "You mean that handful of coins you had in your pocket?"

    Wendin raised a hand and opened his mouth to object, then thought wiser and retracted both. He and Eliani'i had been travelling for about a week since their last purchase of supply, and material was running low. While they'd picked up odd jobs here and there, it was barely enough to survive on.

    Moving towards the amphitheater, Eliani'i shows an interest in the area that gave the near instant reveal that she wasn't local. Wendin watched silently, a look on his face that seemed to say "Please make her realize this isn't Happy Fun Sunshine Land".

    Upon entering the theater, the two find a table near the back and sit down. Seeing the performance, Eliani'i gets an idea. "Hey, do you think they'll let us perform up there?"

    "I doubt it. Neither of us has an instrument and I sing like an ox." Wendin's response merits a light slap on the head.

    "I meant sparring. We do it every day, why not get some money for it?"

    "Could work. We'll flag one of them down in a little bit. For now, let's just enjoy the show." With that, Wendin leans back in his chair, eyes on the stage.
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    A halfling in golden scale armor approaches the two. "Greetings, friends! Can you tell me if this fine city has a church to Bahamut, the Platinum Knight?"
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    "Oh, hi there! I don't know about temple to Bahamut, but I don't think there'd be one since he's more of a dragon-god and not many people seem that dragon-y around here. I'm Eliani'i Dialleria, and this is Wendin Preson. What's your name?" Eliani'i responds in a happy voice to the halfling. Wendin just places his hand over his face.
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    At the very end of the long table sits a blond halfling youth - probably out of childhood, but only just. He seems to have decided the idea of sitting at a table that came up to his nose wasn't really acceptable - instead, he sits on the table, feet swinging through the air. His clothes are dusty from the road. Down on the bench, where most people would sit, there is instead a halfling-sized backpack. A crumpled little cloth tag proclaims it to be the property of one Thomas Brightrook. Hopefully it does indeed belong to the halfling.

    "I'm not being stupid, Matt. It's too hot out to go searching for witches. And damp. Though that just proves she's here. How else could it be so damp and hot and dry all at the same time?" he asks someone, presumably Matt. The being named Matt is not immediately evident; in fact, Thomas Brightrook, presuming that is indeed his name, appears to be sitting alone. This doesn't actually deter him in the least as he continues to prattle on, apparently oblivious to the lack of an audience. "And you like the music - you're smiling, I can tell." He pauses for a moment, listening to the silence. "Hmm. I'll consider it." Seemingly satisfied with his one-person conversation, the halfling falls silent and listens to the music.
    Last edited by Ajadea; 2012-06-11 at 04:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GFawkes View Post
    "Oh, hi there! I don't know about temple to Bahamut, but I don't think there'd be one since he's more of a dragon-god and not many people seem that dragon-y around here. I'm Eliani'i Dialleria, and this is Wendin Preson. What's your name?" Eliani'i responds in a happy voice to the halfling. Wendin just places his hand over his face.
    "That is a shame. Still, it doesn't hurt to ask. I am Talehos Scalesheen, holy knight in service to Bahamut, the Order of the Maw. I am on a quest to relieve the suffering of this area because of the famine. What about you, what brings you to the city."
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    *Waterfalls really are the best place to think,* Thought Lycus, sitting cross-legged under his personal favorite- an approximately five foot wide, twenty foot high shower about two and a half miles from his home. *The deafening sound blocks out everything else, giving one total peace.* Suddenly, a voice pierces his ears like fingernails on a flat piece of drawing slate. "Hey, do you think they'll let us perform up there?" Lycus flinches, scrunching up his face as the dream begins to fade around him, the sound of the peaceful waterfall becoming a steady din of voices and music, and the water itself becoming a drip of something onto his forehead.

    Lycus clutches his face and begins to sit up, only to be stopped by a brutal combination of banging his head on the bottom of what seems to be a table, and the sudden feeling that the world had reversed its turn on its axis. Lycus groans and collapses once more, the new pain on the back of his head and the noises around him doing nothing to help his hangover. After a moment of wallowing in his own suffering, Lycus mumbles to himself and begins the arduous task of pulling himself up onto a bench.


    Edit: Just in case it isn't apparent to anyone, Lycus is under the table. Not the best first impression.
    Last edited by Silverking; 2012-06-11 at 06:29 PM.
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    A bump somewhere under where he's sitting seems to startle the halfling. He flops down onto his stomach, paying no heed to the fact this puts his boots on the same surface that people can and do eat off of, and peers under the table. When it becomes apparent that the man was attempting to emerge, he sits back up, though his boots remain more or less where they were. "Excuse me sir, but what were you doing under the table?" he asks.
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    Wendin starts rubbing his face, not even trying to stop Eliani'i.

    "Well, we started out just travelling randomly, then realized neither of us knew how to hunt, so we had to stop at a nearby village to get some food, then we had to pay for it by stopping a runaway cow, then we traveled to the next city, and did some work with the city guard, then left because the mob said we had to, then went to another village, and-"

    "We're here because we're looking for work," Wendin interrupts, "If you have a job for us, great. If you don't, then please do not talk to us. Eliani'i has a tendency to ramble and give away details that I'd rather not have publicly known." He says this with a short tone, as if something mentally had snapped or as if he were trying to prevent a specific incident from being known.

    Three seconds after Wendin stops talking, Eliani'i starts again. "Sorry about him, he's just like that around other humanoids. But we'll never find work if we don't introduce ourselves to new people, so I'm not quite sure what his 'master plan' is."
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    Default Re: When the Going Gets Tough IC

    As you speak, a short human in a charcoal gray cloak slides onto the far end of the bench. Despite the heat, his hood is pulled over his head. From the shadows, you can readily discern sharp, angular features. He holds a shallow cup of cider in his left hand, and stares intently at the woman on the stage, apparently ignoring you.
    Last edited by Othesemo; 2012-06-11 at 06:45 PM.
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    Lycus glares at the small person. "I was searching for buried treasure. What in nightshade's tea do you think I was doing under a table?!" He growls, head throbbing all over. Twice so on the back, where a small lump is beginning to form. He sighs, thinking the halfling for a child. "Sorry about that, kid," he says with forced kindness, managing to get a leg over the bench, "This isn't exactly the best place to wake up from a nap."
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    A tall, muscular man in crimson and black chain armor despite the oppressive heat slowly makes his way into the theater, glaring fiercely at anyone who moves into his way until they wilt under the weight of his stare.

    The touch of dragons on the man is evident to even the most casual glance, though only his head and hands are uncovered. Coppery-red scales are layered across every inch of exposed flesh that you can see, from thin, nearly translucent scales on his elongated, almost reptillian face, to thick, worn scales across his knuckles. A line of wider, lengthy scales runs from the tip of his upper jaw on up his face, fanning out as it goes into an ever wider trail of longer and longer scales until they seem almost like oddly rigid hair near the top and back of his head. The frills on either side of his head where ears would be on a human have several holes poked through their membranes, and a variety of steel earrings dangle from the ragged punctures.

    Having nowhere else to stand, let alone sit, the man makes his way to the long table and takes a seat. The scales above one blood red eye raise in what might be called the quirk of an eyebrow - had he eyebrows in the first place - as he observes the antics of the table's occupants, but he says nothing.
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    "I myself have found it difficult to keep enough coin to do much here. Perhaps if we work together, an answer will be found."

    As the coppery one sits down, Talehos perks up and takes notice that another scion of a dragon is here.

    "Excuse me." He says to his companions and walks over to the coppery fellow.

    "Greetings, fellow dragonchild. I am Talehos Scalesheen, great-grandchild of Aurhelios the Gold. May I have the honor of your name?" The halfling asks in draconic, his golden scales covering him from the neck down, golden eyes looking out from tawny skin beneath deep golden hair.
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    Janik looks Talehos over, eyes flicking up and down the tiny dragonkin's form. Then he lets out a most undignified snort of amusement, jaws parting in what you take to be a wry smile.

    <"A little small to be of the dragonblood1, aren't you?>, Janik replies, also in the sibilant but powerful draconic tongue. He reaches out one large hand to pat Talehos on the head from his seated position, as if to demonstrate just how small the halfling is.

    <"Janik di'Suiaerl2,"> he says at last, withdrawing his hand to finger a half-inch thick ring of steel in one of his frills. <"I don't have any fancy titles. Never saw the point. One of the Blood, though... you can simply call me Janik, if you prefer.">

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    1Literally translated, this is something closer to "descendants of the Ancients".

    2In draconic that comes across more as "Might of the Arcane" or "Arcane Might". Janik is mostly unaware of the connotations.
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    "Nice to meet your acquaintance, Janik. Aye, I am small. But don't think that makes me useless. Sometimes the small wyrmling can reach that which the great wyrm cannot."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silverking View Post
    Lycus glares at the small person. "I was searching for buried treasure. What in nightshade's tea do you think I was doing under a table?!" He growls, head throbbing all over. Twice so on the back, where a small lump is beginning to form. He sighs, thinking the halfling for a child. "Sorry about that, kid," he says with forced kindness, managing to get a leg over the bench, "This isn't exactly the best place to wake up from a nap."
    The halfling doesn't appear to be remotely fazed by being called a kid. He pushes himself up into a sitting position, though his feet remain on the table."If I knew, I wouldn't have asked," he says in a very matter of fact sort of way. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Thomas, of the Brightrook Caravan, but you can call me Tom. All my friends do. And this is Matt," he adds. Such a behavior would be very normal indeed if this Matt person was visible. However, Tom appears to be gesturing at the empty air next to him, in a space where he had not put his feet.
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    "Lycus Hood. Nice to meet you Tom.." Lycus mumbled, squinting in the sunlight at the blank space. "Now, it might just be me, but I don't see anyone sitting next to you." *Perhaps Matt is some sort of imaginary friend,* He thought, *probably common with lonely children around here. I wonder..* Lycus could not finish his thought though, as another wave of pain emanated from his skull.
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    At the sound of the draconic language, the hooded man at the end of the bench shifts in visible discomfort. For a moment, he looks as if he were about to speak. He seems to reconsider, however, and instead brings his bowl of cider to his lips, drinking deeply. He lays the now empty bowl to rest by his left hand and rests his head upon his fist, having apparently tired of the performance. A moment of silence passes, and he seems entirely lost in thought.

    Without warning, his head snaps toward you. Addressing the table at large, he speaks, his pleasant baritone voice somewhat obscured by a Slavic accent. "Excuse me," he says, looking genuinely embarrassed, "But I cannot help but over hear you. You say that you are looking for work, I believe?" His right hand falls to his side, grabbing a small leather pouch, which he pulls from his belt and lets fall onto the table. From it the unmistakable jingle of coin can be heard. "Perhaps we may be helping each other, eh?" He looks about at you expectantly.
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    Talehos listens on, but he doesn't stop his conversation either.
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    "Well, Mr. Hood, he's kinda minorly cursed at the moment," Tom says. He glances at the empty space for a moment, then amends his statement. "Well, not really minor. Matt's invisible right now. Can't touch him either. That's why I'm here - to fix that little issue." He seems to be quite serious about this - there is no trace of mischief in his expression or demeanor.

    When the hooded man speaks, he again seems to trade glances with the invisible Matt before replying. "Work? Er, what sort?" He shifts his position, then glares at where Matt would be. "Yeah, I know! Be quiet, I think they're staring again," he says in a whisper that's a bit too loud.
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    Now that the man is facing you, you begin to doubt that he's entirely human. His face is too narrow, and too angular. "Oh, nothing dangerous, I assure you. You see, a friend of mine is to come into this city in some hours, along with a caravan of... goods. Foods, mostly. However, I have heard most troubling rumors that some of the refugees outside the city have fallen to banditry, and I fear for my friend's safety. I cannot protect him myself, of course." At this, he opens his arms, displaying his remarkably thin chest, covered only by fraying fabric. "However, you lot seem considerably more formidable. I have little gold, I admit, but I would give all of it to ensure that my friend, and his food, reaches me safely."
    Last edited by Othesemo; 2012-06-12 at 12:37 AM.
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    <"And sometimes the little wyrmling gets crushed underfoot!"> Janik replies, then roars with laughter, though it seems more good-natured than cruel. As the hooded stranger drops the coins on the table, Janik places an ivory fingerclaw several inches in length over Talehos's mouth. <"Now hush, little wyrmling. I think this one means to give me a bed to sleep in and a hot meal to eat at last!">

    Switching to the common tongue, Janik regards the hooded man with slitted eyes. "You want us for guards?" he asks, a hint of excitement in his voice. He clenches and unclenches his clawed hands several times, apparently without noticing. Then his eyes narrow suspiciously. "Why choose us?"
    Last edited by Jarian; 2012-06-12 at 12:43 AM.
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    The man nods solemnly. "I wish to take no chances in this matter. And you do not look like the sort of people who would leave things to chance."
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    Janik half-opens his mouth to voice an objection, then thinks better of it and snaps his jaws together with a click. He can't help shooting a glance at Tom, however.

    "If you say so," he says, shrugging massive shoulders. "Guarding has been my life in one form or another for years. You'll get no argument from me as long as your information is true and your coin pure."
    Last edited by Jarian; 2012-06-12 at 12:50 AM.
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    A wide grin breaks across the man's face, and he exhales in relief. He stands and walks toward Janik, extending his hand. "It is good to have a guard I can trust. I am Dmytro, of no family that I am knowing of. Should your friends be as agreeable as you, I shall be a happy man indeed, sir..." He trails off expectantly, still holding his hand out toward you.
    Last edited by Othesemo; 2012-06-12 at 01:00 AM.
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    Having heard that sometimes evil dragons will disguise as metallic ones, Talehos will detect evil towards the floor around his companion's feet.

    After reassuring himself that this is just another example of a sizeist, Talehos will listen in on the hooded man's offer, canceling his detect evil effect. A 60 foot cone into such a crowd would be useless.
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    Janik stares at the man's waiting hand for a long moment before responding. "Janik. And I prefer to keep my hands free, if it's all the same. Never know when you'll need to-" His hand makes a clutching gesture and stabs down toward the table in a flash of red and copper; in the instant it takes to reach the table, a steel dirk appears in his grip and thunks into the thick board. A heartbeat later, it disappears in a puff of multicolored smoke.

    "-pull a knife on someone." he finishes, smiling grimly. "You understand, I'm sure."
    Last edited by Jarian; 2012-06-12 at 01:11 AM.
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    Lightbringer Adison, Swordmage priestess of Pelor, by the very talented Darwin.

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  28. - Top - End - #28
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: When the Going Gets Tough IC

    The man's eyes widen, and he snatches his hand back faster than you would have thought possible. To his credit, he manages to avoid screaming, though this seems to have taken no small effort on his part. "A fair point," he says, his voice somewhat strained. He glances about the table. "Can you all do that? If so, I may stop worrying for my friend this minute, I am thinking." A small, nervous laugh escapes from his mouth.



    Talehos, Lycus
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    Out of the corner of your eye, you notice one of the guardsmen has turned to look at Janik, surprised by the display. He begins to walk closer, glancing toward the swordmage periodically.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Someone Else
    *sycophancy*

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: When the Going Gets Tough IC

    Lycus stares at the empty space with disbelief. *I've never seen a child with an explanation before.* Before he can continue the thought or reply however, a commotion that the table distracts him. Something about work, and the jingle of coins. *Ha, who would have known collapseing under a table would find me better work than walking around town?!* He thought, grinning. Suddenly, the table jars, and he turns from his new acquaintance (Lycus took time to call people his friend) and turned to the scene behind him. A strange man just pulled a knife out of thin air -- Then put it back! *Neat trick. Wish I could do that* Lycus thought with a sigh. A split second later, unusual movement behind the man. A guard approaching. Standing and walking between the two, Lycus leaned in a mumbled "Perhaps we should take this somewhere else. We don't know who else could be watching," he motions at the gaurd with his eyes, " I know of a great in where the beer flows like water. Perhaps we can meet there?"
    Rule number 18. When surrendering, I am to hand the weapon over HILT first.

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  30. - Top - End - #30
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    For a moment, the man seems confused, before he turns his head, following your eyes. He turns back to you quickly, and further pulls down his hood. "Yes, I am thinking that may be for the best," he mutters, resentment in his voice. He motions to the stage with his shoulder. "The woman's taking a break anyway. I doubt that any of the others will be so skilled as she was."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Someone Else
    *sycophancy*

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