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    Default The Path to the Throne

    Link to the OOC thread.

    The year of the unicorn has passed, and the year of the dragon has begun...

    It is a year rife with political turmoil as the greatest wizards of the land vie for power and position in an epic struggle for the throne. The Holy Souelian Empire is holy no longer. The empire has turned its back on the gods, and he who would be emperor claims the throne by arcane right. The oil that anoints his head a mere formality of a bygone era.

    But such power breeds both competition and corruption. Wizards claim to be gods. Great and wonderful minds are snuffed out daily as men are murdered in their sleep. Simpletons can even cast spells now through some abominable process, instead of having to decipher arcane texts and prepare them in their minds. Competition for power is fierce, the ambitious pushing the boundaries of the dark arts, necromancy, and portals to the realms beyond. Some harvest arcane catalysts and push their minds to the edge of madness in their attempts to wield power supreme.

    "Royal" families still cling to the nobility once granted to them by blood, using all of their resources to develop or ally themselves with schools of magic, training camps, and arcane libraries. Outside the castle walls, the privilege of blood means everything. Inside those walls however, those privileges pale in comparison to an alliance with a powerful family, or better yet being a master of the arcane arts.


    --------------------

    It is a cold gray morning in Timanos, and the newly cobbled streets bustle with activity as the old trade city comes to life. Shadows cast by scarlet hoods cover the faces of half a dozen men as they congregate around a large oak table in a dimly lit hall.

    "Are we agreed?" says one.
    "Aye." reply the rest in unison.
    "So be it." says the first. He rises from the table and reaching behind him, produces a small lead box. He sets in the center of the table and lifts the lid, revealing a black velvet lining and several sliver rings. Each man slowly rises from his chair, stretches out his hand and chooses a ring from the box. After putting them on, they stand silently and wait. The cold winds howl as they push against the stained glass windows. A church bell rings in the distance.

    The hooded figures look at one another. Finally one of them speaks;
    "All is in order. You know what is expected of you. Gentlemen?" he whispers, placing his fingertips on the polished tabletop and leaning forward, "It is time."
    Last edited by Artman77; 2013-01-10 at 01:49 AM.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    I had just got done giving out orders for the day, master had given me time to go enjoy the bitter cold that so many feared in my homeland. But I welcomed it, as if it were a warm fireplace. As the chilled wind whipped around my cloak that depicted dragons and was made of the finest materials in this part of the empire, both warm and strong was my cloak, and my staff that signified my place in this world crunched underneath the new days snow I made my way to the library.

    Just this day my master had told me of the young woman I had meet at a social party only months ago and how here fiefdom was upholding. It seemed I had been wise to extend the olive branch to her and I suspected that soon it would be time to hold a ball just for her. He had also filled me in on the ruler of the north. The family that claimed to have only draconinc blood mixed in with their own pure blood. It seemed though that things were changing. From what Arytekothar had told me their was someone trying to cohort one of the family members that had no draconic blood in his being. A Pity really. Weakening the bloodline by allowing an outsider into their close knit clan. Then again it seemed quite a bit had changed ever since the previous head of the family had died. Only a few time had I meet any of the family, but those few times I showed my respect for the fact that they ruled the area I livid in, and had in ways much in which I wanted.

    And so as I walked the snow covered path to the library that the town possessed out of the corner of my eye I noticed a figure in red, such an odd color in these parts of the world. It was warm, and pasionit. The opposite of myself and so I choose to investigate. As I get closer I watch the man raise his hand, Immediately I get ready to launch a counter spell against him, but am even more confused as he merely beckons me deeper into the alley. Not sure if this was someone knew to the city or one of my servants inside the city I choose to follow him deeper into the alley, until all that could be heard of what lay beyond the alley was the wind blowing and billowing. Beckoning for me to join it. Why have you called me, Lord Loss into an alley? Speak now and mind your tongue or else you lose it. I say to the man, who still has not revealed his face to me.

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    (1d20+1)[3] Intimidate


    That is when the man begins t speak to me, asking me to join his organization. How about you tell me something else? Who do you expect me to believe you have more power then my draconic bloodline? And with that I cast a spell master had taught me only days ago. It was simple enough, and as I saw the dragon go shooting out of my wand and drop fine silver dust over the mans body I hoped it worked. I intended on having a chat with this man with my master present. No one came here asking me to join an organization in a back alley, and so blatantly tried to lie to me telling me that they knew magic even the dragons did not.

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    Spell cast is sleep DC is 17
    Last edited by dantiesilva; 2013-01-10 at 09:30 AM.
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    Alexander Anderson-Shadows of the Past

    Alucard servant of Lady Fierna
    And his trusty servant Belphegor


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    Default Re: The Path to the Throne

    The man appears not to be phased by your threatening tone.
    "The dragons' power is vast, it is true, but times are changing. The empire pulls crystals out of the ground that allow men to do things you cannot imagine."
    He takes a sudden step back as the tiny dragon flies around him. His head droops slightly, and then he collapses in heap into the snowbank lining the left side of the alleyway.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    "What, pray tell, would a druid want with a book of spells?"

    Juno was not pleased at having her afternoon sequestering interrupted. Found alone in the woods, kept company only by her dark brown destrier with black socks and a coal mane, it's a wonder she didn't just outright attack the mysterious courier. Her hand still rests on the pommel of a curved sword over her shoulder, and she has yet to pull back the lincoln green hood from her visage. Yet, oddly, there was a calm facade to her question, tinged with a regal command expecting elaborations and answers.

    Clearly, the druidess has had false promises and lies offered to her in the past, from vultures and opportunists of the worst kind (nobility) and she is scarcely hesitant to find this particular off no less suspicious.

    But she's still willing to hear it out...

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    Sort of.
    Sense motive to glean if there's a more sinister aspect to this, if the messenger's looking at a big, neon sign that says PAWN over Juno's head, so to speak: (1d20+3)[4]
    "Unless you're sitting on a ninja posing as a piece of furniture, the act of parking your butt on a surface is not a complicated endeavor."

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    Weak fool, speaking of power when he can not even handle a spell I have just learned. I say to myself as I hit the man with my staff, making sure my spell took its full effect on him and made him fall asleep. Satisfied after a few pokes I walk out into the main road and call to one of the guards standing at his post. Get over here and handcuff this man, then I want you to follow me to my home. I say, Lord Loss, one of the most powerful people in the north, and my demands are meet with little force as the guard quickly obeys my command and so we all head to my house.

    After the five minute walk in the cold brisk air we had finally arrived at my family estate. I was still not sure on whether to trust someone so weak, but master would know if he would make a good pawn or not. And so as I walked through the front door early from my walk my family was caught of guard, that is until they see the slumbering body being dragged behind. Leave the body their I will take care of it from here. I say to the guard and he quickly puts the body down and leaves, not wanting to be the next person to end up like the man he was carrying now. Manacles still on him I search his body, taking anything that looks like it holds any kind of power off of him until all that is left is the clothes on his back that he showed up in. Content I slap him in the face. Wake up you worthless piece of trash. You wanted an audience you got one, and I am not carrying you. Try anything funny, and I will make sure you live to regret it. Got it?

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    (1d20+1)[11] intimidate
    (1d20+3)[19] Search


    Slowly we make our way down to my master Arytekothar and once their I call out to him. Master we have company. It says that it has powers of magic that none other know about.and with that I wait for my master to come. While waiting I attach the manacles to a chain in the floor and then begin looking at the items I have found on him, inspecting to see if any hold magic in them.
    Last edited by dantiesilva; 2013-01-10 at 09:31 AM.
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    Alexander Anderson-Shadows of the Past

    Alucard servant of Lady Fierna
    And his trusty servant Belphegor


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    Default Re: The Path to the Throne

    Juno Woodblade
    "Ah, my apologies," he responds warmly, pulling back his hood to reveal a young and handsome face, golden locks of hair falling just below his ears. "Of course, you wouldn't be interested in a book for yourself, but for a friend perhaps?"
    His thick eyebrows raise hopefully, and he flashes a smile of bright white teeth.

    Only transmuters, or people rich enough to hire a transmuter, have smiles like that.

    "Uh, look--" he begins again, looking around as if expecting to see someone else. "Let's try this again. My name is James. Some friends and I recruiting nobles--that have potential but would otherwise fall through the cracks--to form an alliance," His mouth hangs open for a moment as if to say something else, but he catches himself. "You and your house," he continues, "will not last long without aid. Which is a shame, really, considering your great history and contributions to the land in which you reside. Not only that, but the resources you have at your disposal are essential, but currently undervalued, making it impossible to use them to their full potential in the short term." He looks over his shoulder, then back to you and your hand resting on the handle of your sword. "I wish I could tell you more but I cannot; I am sworn to secrecy."

    He slowly steps forward, keeping a cautious eye on your mount. Slowly drawing a small red crystal from beneath his cloak, he stretches out his hand, offering it to you. You look at the crystal in his black gloved hand. The sunlight glints through it like a ruby. A teleportation stone. "If you wish to accept our offer, just think 'Yes' and crush this in your hand. You have until sundown."

    Lord Loss
    His pockets turn up nothing...

    Before long a handsome man with striking features and jet black hair strides into the room, hands clasped behind his back, his blue silk robes billowing out behind him as a cold draft makes it's way through the cave. Arytekothar, even in his human form is a fierce and terrible presence to behold.
    "Mortal! What, pray tell, is the reason of your presence here?" His red eyes smolder as he nears the man, and suddenly an irritated look spreads across Arytekothar's face. "Are you not afraid?" he asks quietly.
    The man looks up from beneath his scarlet hood and smiles.
    "I am not."
    "Many of my colleagues would be, unfortunately, which is why I've come to extend the invitation to this mortal to be your proxy. We would like to form an alliance to conquer the empire from within. You know as well as I that His Grace will not win the tournament honestly, so honest methods of winning the throne are pointless. I doubt His Grace even lives that long."

    "This intrigues me." He turns to you. "Loss! Was the money spent on your education wasted? This is not a man but a figment!" He turns back to the cloaked visage. "Now, would you like to reveal yourself so that we may speak plainly? Or are you a coward after all?"
    The man looks from you to the dragon and back again. "Should you choose to accept our invitation, you will act as Arytekothar's proxy, speaking on his behalf. Upstairs, on the small table near the door you will find a Kamanati crystal, which will teleport you to one of our many meeting places. You have until sundown to decide. Oh, by the way," he says while looking around, as if inspecting the place, "you have a lovely home." He laughs as the illusion glitters and dissolves, fading away into nothing.

    "We will accept this invitation," says Arytekothar, finally breaking the silence. "If not only to gain more information. Go to the meeting and figure out what it is they want. Any question they ask you tell them you must consult me before answering."
    Last edited by Artman77; 2013-01-11 at 02:55 AM.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    The back rooms of the Thaumaturges' Club are legendary. Luxurious leather seating that adjusts to the sitter's will, access to an excellent historical library, near-instant drink service (not that Ethan ever partakes), and countless other amenities make it the place for a noble wizard to take a meeting. Ethan ensures that he is regularly seen entering a private room. Sometimes he activates the wards, whether he is taking a meeting or not. Sometimes he leaves them off, which is generally understood as an invitation to enter should someone want to converse.

    That's why Ethan is quite pleased to see the man in the red cloak take a seat opposite him in the Club. A new arrival, perhaps, and of the social caliber to gain a membership. Definitely someone to get to know.

    After he hears the man's pitch, he leans back and frowns pensively. "As to what you want from me: My discretion you have regardless. I would not betray one who came to me with such an offer. I may even be willing to devote my time to this... endeavor. But my allegiance, that is not so easily bought." He leans forward again, peering at the man intensely. "What is in this book that you feel is worth the loyalty of House Adar?"
    Last edited by 4th number; 2013-01-10 at 01:52 AM.
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    Ethan Adar
    A small smile tugs at the corners of the old mans mouth. Gray hair frames his wrinkled face, and the candlelight twinkles in his eyes as he gazes at the golden liquid of the drink in his hand. He takes a sip and places the crystal goblet back on the table.
    "Nothing within the pages of any book are worth anyone's loyalty," he replies smoothly. "It is merely a symbol. A promise." he sits back.
    What will be contained within the book we give you is a large number of spells that you wish to learn, and ours is the promise to teach you these spells in exchange for favors carried out by you for us, at our discretion." He smiles ruefully. "Times are changing. Alliances are being formed and dissolved constantly. We would hope for your loyalty but not expect it. This is to be a mutually beneficial relationship. In addition to the book and our teaching you will have access to our secrets and secret keepers. For additional favors carried out, you will be entitled to ask a favor of us. Quid pro quo. Our organization spans the empire and membership is 'anonymous' making it the perfect vessel for acts of subterfuge..."

    He leans forward, placing his elbows on the table, and slides a small red crystal across the table.
    "Are you familiar with Kamanati crystals? You have until sundown to use this before its magic expires."
    He waits eagerly for your response. If you have nothing else to say, he stands, finishes his drink and quietly exits.
    Last edited by Artman77; 2013-01-11 at 02:55 AM.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    Ethan takes the crystal and tucks it into his pocket. "Thank you indeed for your offer. I'll give it my full consideration." He smiles. "Please don't take it amiss if I fail to appear, though. I am a busy man, as I'm sure you know."

    Ethan has some guesses as to the nature of this organization, but none so firm that he'd be willing to risk his neck on words and deductions alone. The promise of spells doesn't interest him-- he has a course of study in the sort of magic that he finds useful already mapped out.

    As the man stands to leave, Ethan inquires, "What is your name, friend?"

    After the man has left, Ethan requests that a book covering Kamanati crystals be brought to him, as well as a directory of diviners in the city.
    Last edited by 4th number; 2013-01-10 at 03:15 PM.
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    Artman as an illusion I get to roll a Will save to see if I saw through it, if I do mind you I would not have brought it back to the house. I get the save on the account that I interacted with the illusion so I get the save. With that in mind (1d20+3)[4] Do not know what the DC is but I am assuming it is a high level one so doubt I will pass but none the less.


    I was taught to hit illusions a few times to make sure they were real master. I do not yet have the power required to cast spells that allow me to see through them. Only the modern ways. Please forgive me. I say to my master before looking back to the illusion. So he was not as weak as I thought. That or he has been using two spells at once meaning he is very close. But what annoys me the most is when he begins to laugh and tells me what a nice house I have. I will go Arytekothar on your behalf, but know at the first possible opportunity I shall kill that man. and with that I await any more orders from my master before heading upstairs.

    As I reach the top of the stairs I look to my Aunt. A talented Illusionist. Lock the house down and have the family scan it from top to bottom. I will be back shortly. I have matters to attend to that may raise our house up a bit closer to that of the ruling family right now, and the fire queen I believe they call her. With luck we may be able to make the families one. And make certain our hold is firm before we make our next move. After I have given my orders I walk over to the small table where the crystal was said to be left, and sure enough it is there. I would have to punish the guards of this manner for not making sure no one could get in without us noticing. And with that I break the crystal in my hand, waiting to see where it brings me, and ready for a battle.
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    Alexander Anderson-Shadows of the Past

    Alucard servant of Lady Fierna
    And his trusty servant Belphegor


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    Ethan Adar
    "Cephas." he replies and walks towards the door. He places his hand upon the latch but stops. Turning back for a moment he adds, "We hope you approach this invitation with the utmost seriousness. We are risking much more than you just by doing so. We look forward to seeing you again." The seriousness of the expression on his face tells you he means it. With that, he turns and steps quickly through the door.

    After a moment one of the many Club servants appears to assist you. Instead of Hale, your regular servant, you are greeted by a small, thin man with a thin nose and black hair. He seems professional enough.
    "Very good Sir." He says upon taking your request. After a few moments he returns with neither book nor papers in his hand.
    "I am very sorry sir, but I regret to inform you that the Club no longer has permissions to the Arcane Directories. I was told that the decree signed by His Grace last month prohibited access to both the Census and Directories of all arcane casters.
    In regards to the book on Kamanati crystals, the Club's library did not cover the topic, so I sent a courier to Kahmal University to fetch one. It should be here with in ten minutes. Perhaps a drink while you wait?"

    After a short while he returns with two books; a large brown tome with worn pages and scuffed corners titled 'Cities of Minoto Valley' and the other a small book bound in green cloth titled 'Magic Stones'.
    "May I be of any more service to you Sir?" the servant asks.

    Lord Loss
    "Next time, act so that you have no need for apologies. As for the illusionist; let us wait a moment. Anyone can stick a knife in someone's back. This man was cautious enough not to deliver his message in the flesh, let us find out why this is. Be cautious; do not underestimate him. You are dismissed." And with that, Arytekothar turns and disappears into the darkness.

    Your aunt quickly orders the guards to lock and seal the doors and windows, and orders the servants to deliver your orders to the other members of the family, and the house wizard.
    "Bless you, dear nephew. May your actions bring glory to the threshold of our great house." She bows and kisses your ring before turning and heading up the stairs.

    Crushing the crystal in your hand causes a bit of red smoke to swirl in the air around your fist, and for a moment, everything goes black, and when your vision returns you realize you are in a large, dimly lit room with several hooded figures...
    Last edited by Artman77; 2013-01-11 at 04:09 AM.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    As my master explains reason and common sense to me I notice that he is very much correct and like always, listen to his warnings. Not needing to reply because I know what is expected I leave the chamber as I am dismissed and head upstairs.

    They will my dear Aunt they will. I suspect you will not find anything, but if you do make sure everything is removed from its possession and is thrown in a cell until I return.

    As I come into the dimly lit room I look around my surroundings and once done begin to look for the reason of me being their.
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    Alexander Anderson-Shadows of the Past

    Alucard servant of Lady Fierna
    And his trusty servant Belphegor


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    Juno

    She would know; her father tried hiring someone to do that on her; Juno's teeth are clean at any rate...

    "And who said you could leave?" she asks with a bit of bite to her words. Her horse paws at the mossy earth as if aggravated, until the druidess places a hand against the war mare's withers. Despite the fact she is quite dwarfed by her animal companion's, the act gives Juno the appearance she wants of control.

    "I will not take your stone nor will I consider your offer... yet. Perhaps you've forgotten of some other compensation befitting a druid? Because otherwise, you make your employers come off as ill prepared or they think me a fool and I've no use for either."

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    Diplomacy, aggressive style: (1d20+7)[23]


    "Information may suffice, if it's to my advantage... but surely you prepared better than this?"
    "Unless you're sitting on a ninja posing as a piece of furniture, the act of parking your butt on a surface is not a complicated endeavor."

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    Ethan dismisses the servant and spends several minutes reviewing the literature that he'd brought. What he learns makes him wish that he could whistle up a diviner to ascertain exactly which spell was in the red crystal. He decides against going on a search for one, though-- there are better ways to spend this afternoon.

    He exits the club, leaving the customary two gold pieces as a gratuity for his guest's drink and the books.

    Upon his return to the Adar manor, he locks himself in his office and writes out a full account of his encounter with "Cephas." He hides the paper in a compartment of his top desk drawer that he regularly uses for things that are secret, but not so secret that they require magical protection. If he loses his memory, he will find the paper there within the next day or so. If he is killed, it will certainly be discovered by one of his family members in the course of their inevitable looting of the estate. If he is replaced... well, that was a concern, but not so serious that he'd lose an opportunity for knowledge and leverage such as he suspected were waiting for him.

    Ethan mutters a spell to give him a small amount of magical protection and draws one of his magical trinkets out of his pocket.

    Then, he crushes the crystal.

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    That's Mage Armor up and a Feather Token (Whip) ready to acticate.
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    Juno Woodblade
    "Alright look-" James does not seem to be intimidated, but he is realizing he obviously not won you over.
    "-The spell book is probably worth six or seven thousand crowns, and was meant as a token of respect, not a bribe. Perhaps four of these would be of more interest?" Slowly reach beneath his cloak he pulls out a finely crafted horseshoe that glints under the sunlight. He tosses it to you.

    It does not appear to sail heavily through the air as a heavy iron horseshoe would. Catching it, you recognize it instantly. It is an emissary's shoe, from Kodos. Only the emperor's personal messengers have them, with a few exceptions. You look for the arcane symbols. Speed. Jumping. Balance. Water Walk. Evasion. You know for a fact that these horseshoes are worth more than five thousand crowns, sometimes much more, depending on what they are enchanted with. It looks like there is enough room for another symbol, and one more enchantment...

    "Is that more to your liking? Anyway, the purpose of our little club is political advancement and maneuvering, mostly. We would help you advance your career if you agreed to help some of us advance ours."
    He winks.
    "Since these things can be so sensitive in nature, the exact 'what' and the 'how' can only be discussed behind closed doors, so to speak. And..." He pauses for a moment, and his eyes leave yours as bows his head in respect "...if you will forgive me for being bold; there will be many eligible handsome and powerful men in close proximity should you accept."

    Ethan Adar
    A dark red smoke plumes outwards from your hand and the world around you slowly begins to go dark. The large windowless room that appears around you has a dark grey metal lining its walls, probably lead, and is dimly lit by numerous sconces that line the walls. In the center of the room is a long black table, polished to a glossy sheen.

    Around the table are high-backed oak armchairs, seven on each side, and one on the far end. The back rest of each chair is carved front and back with a specific coat of arms. You spot yours on a chair on the near side.

    "Presenting; His Lordship, Count Ethan Adar, Overseer of the Adarian Mines, Chancellor and member of His Majesty's High Court." comes a voice from your left. There are eight men in scarlet robes standing around the room, each with his hood over his head, hiding his face. Seated at the middle of the table on the far side is a ninth man in red robes who has his hood lowered. He is perhaps in his forties and some gray is starting to show in his otherwise immaculate black hair.

    Two men in nobles' dress, a wizard in blue robes, and a man in leather armor are seated along the table on the near side. A fifth man in black robes decorated with the images of dragons also stands near the table. Two heavily armored guards with swords and spears guard the only exit.

    "Greetings, and welcome to our lair, Lord Ethan," Says the man seated at the middle of the table. "I am Ocelevos Delgarias, current operator of the Heads of Hydra in this region. Before we continue, is there anything you would like to say?"
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    Sense motive to make sure that the Horseshoes aren't contraband in that *only* those Kodos messengers are allowed to have them: (1d20+3)[23]


    You really should have started with this," Juno remarks, offering the shoe to her horse for inspection; the mare sniffles at it without balking. "And for the other three, I would give you my discretion and attend this meeting, though I make no further promises beyond that, of course, without hearing what else remains to be said." the tone of voice she carries seems to imply she'll have the shoes *now*, if anything.

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    May need another diplo check for this, so... (1d20+7)[12]
    "Unless you're sitting on a ninja posing as a piece of furniture, the act of parking your butt on a surface is not a complicated endeavor."

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    James hands over the rest of the horseshoes.
    "Of course." he replies, and with that turns and disappears behind a tree. After a moment you realize you are alone once more.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    Stroking the mare's neck, Juno eventually goes back to whatever it was she was doing before. Druidic practices, no doubt, and continues the rest of her day as normal... Until...

    Once back in her family estate that early eve, assuming her suspicions prove false (see above) she leaves Bernadette (her horse) in the care of one of her stable hands with the instructions (both to Bernadette and the stablehand) to arrange for the smith to reshod the warhorse with the new shoes she's received. Excusing herself to her uncles, she leaves explicit instructions not to be disturbed tonight and withdraws to her private chambers. Once, they were her mothers, taking up a third of the wing of her not quite meager estate's uppermost floor.

    To enter here without instruction is to incur Juno's wrath. The windows all have plants in them; the tiny belltower was reconfigured into a fine roost for birds to come and go, and her private chambers are as much a temple to nature as she can afford. A small shrine to Kord, where the stand to her scimitar and a few wooden swords sits, seems the most normal thing in the place apart from an ancient wardrobe bigger than her horse.

    Replacing her hooded cowl for a wimple that has most the same effect, Juno crushes the stone given to her in her palm without a second thought.
    "Unless you're sitting on a ninja posing as a piece of furniture, the act of parking your butt on a surface is not a complicated endeavor."

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    As the momentary blackness begins to fade, you realize you have been teleported into a large, dark room. The walls are made of a dull grey metal, and sconces of candles provide dim illumination. About half a dozen men in blood red robes with hoods up stand about the room; one sits at the table, his hood is down.

    "Presenting; The Baroness Juno Woodblade of Kubland, Protector of the Ancient Forest, and respected Horse Lord." proclaims a smooth and confident voice from your left. Looking in that direction you see another cloaked man, hood up.

    A man in blue wizard's robes and a top hat, holding a staff, a man in armor, and two nobles also sit at the table. One man in noble's dress and one in a black robe, embroidered with red dragons and studded with rubies stand nearby.

    One of the men in scarlet walks over to the man seated in the middle of the long black table and whispers something in his ear.
    "Ah. Very good. Now that you are all here, we may begin. I am Ocelevos Delgarias, as some of you already know. I would like to graciously welcome each of you to the Heads of Hydra."

    All of the sudden there is a loud pounding on the door. An anxious tension suddenly fills the room. Everyone turns to look at the single door. The guards ready their spears and one of the hooded men produces a dagger from his cloak and walks slowly to the door. It is silent for a moment.

    "Potential threat neutralized," Comes a gruff voice from the other side of the door. You notice some of the hooded figures visibly relax. The tension lessens, but does not dissipate completely.
    "Very well," Continues Ocelevos, "Lady Juno, allow me to introduce you to the rest of the room.
    Ethan Adar, of Kubland,"
    He gestures to the noble standing beside you.
    "Lord Loss Von Cleft, of Myr," He motions to the young man in black, standing in front of you.
    "And Lord Qavin Smallwing, of Lyn," the first seated noble.
    "Sir Nathar Prodius, of Opesan," the man in blue.
    "Lord Abram Getar, of Opesan," the second seated noble.
    "Lord Kael Vorten, of Mythos," the man in armor.
    The four men, previously seated, now rise upon seeing they are in the presence of a Lady.
    "Greetings, Milady," Says Kael with a smile, bowing low.

    Ocelevos snaps his fingers and one of the men exits the room.
    "If I may have everyone's attention please..."
    From beneath the table, Ocelevos procures a small meatal box and sets it on the table. Lifting its lid, he slides it forward for the seven of you to see. Contained within are seven silver rings, a small dragon head on the front of each one. Sir Nathar is the first to take one, followed by Qavin, Kael, and Lord Abram. You notice Nathar is the only one who tries his on.

    The hooded man returns, followed by servants bringing pork and veal, spiced potatoes and fresh fruits, braised chicken, soup, dumplings, biscuits, fine wine and mead. Lastly, a silver platter with sweet crackers, chocolates, dried fruit, and cobbler is brought out.
    "Please," says your host, beckoning you to come and sit, and partake in the feast. "Afterwards we will begin the orientation, answer any questions you may have, and show you to your private rooms, each containing your promised gifts, and supplies for the coming weeks."
    Last edited by Artman77; 2013-01-21 at 01:36 AM.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    As everything goes exactly as I had hoped I turn to the two who have joined me in the room. Upon seeing lady Juno I quickly do a bow and take her hand kissing it, making sure to keep eye contact with her with both my own eyes and those of the dragon encrusted into my cloak. Lady Juno Woodblade I was not expecting to see someone of your beauty here today otherwise I would have had something better to give you then this. I say as I produce a single white rose from thin air and present it to her. Rising up from my bow as I do so. And Lord Ethan Adar it is good to see you out of your house. How has your faimly been? Good I hope. Lord Loss says before turning back to the ones who had summoned them here.

    As the bangs come to the door and all inside the room seem visibly shaken and ready to Fight I look on. Interesting, it seems they already have those who not only know of them, but where their base is. Unless of course this is all some ploy to gain our respect for them. I say to myself not looking fazed in the least, even after the gruff voice from the other side says that the problem has been taken care of.

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    Sense motives (1d20+1)[13]


    Paying little attention to what I have already learned I look intreged as I see the box of rings presented on the table and see the others take the rings Leaving only 3 left. And what are these to be? I was asked here for an audience and the promise of magical power. I do not see either in this very room. Only a bunch of scared mages and two guards at a door that jumped at a bump that could have come from a simple spell that even I can produce. I say to those gathered before me and as the door opens bringing in the food I look out it to see if I can see any signs of a fight outside the door.

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    Spot (1d20+1)[21]


    As I am asked to take a seat when the food is presented I do so, but do not touch the food. Waiting for all others their to take a sample, or a scroll to be produced to prove to me that none of the food is poisoned. A simple and old tactic to move up in the noble world.
    Last edited by dantiesilva; 2013-01-21 at 02:59 PM.
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    Alexander Anderson-Shadows of the Past

    Alucard servant of Lady Fierna
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    Lord Loss
    The indecent does not appear to be a ruse. The others seem genuinely surprised by the event. As it turns out, the banging on the door was merely a guard knocking loudly to inform the group that there was an issue, and it was dealt with.

    You see the servants pass by two or three guards in the foyer adjacent to the hallway as they bring in the food. It appears they have a man in custody; either unconscious or dead, and a boy in rich clothing is searching the man's person, possibly for evidence or clues.

    After Ocelevos offers each of you a ring, the servants set out plates, cups, and silverware and dinner is served. Some of the guests hesitate when the food is brought out, except for Sir Nathar, who begins eating like he has been starved for a week. Ocelevos sees your hesitation and says,
    "Pick any food here, and I will eat it first," he waves his hand with a long sweeping motion across the serving platters piled high with food.
    Last edited by Artman77; 2013-01-21 at 02:53 PM.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    As I watch I see that it seems like it was indeed a guard who made the bang on the door but as I continue to watch I see someone being brought into the room. Odd, it seems like you have been found out and so soon mind you. I hope this is no illegal activity. I say to the head of Hydra before looking to Quavin smallwing. And a pleasure to see you here as well. Has the lady of flames let you off your leash? Or does she still believe you not to be a threat? I ask the man before taking a seat waiting for the others to take the rings first, even going as far as to pick up the box and hold it up for lady Juno. My lady. I say kindly to her as I let her choose her ring first before letting the oldest of the three of us choose his. After all I was raised right and ladies always came first in my house. Once all rings were taken I picked up the remaining one and examined it. Trying to see if there was anything special about it.

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    Detect magic spell to see if there is any magic focused inside it. I am down to 2 0 level spells left and 3 1 1st level spell left for the day.


    As the food is finished being placed in front of all of us and I see others among the table hesitating to eat the food I look to the only fool who not only was eating it. But not even stopping to breathe as he shoveled food into his mouth. That is when I notice Ocelevos staring at me and hear him tell me to point out to any food and he will try it first. Some are less suscetable to poison then others. I would feel much safer with a spell being cast. And from the looks of it so would those among your very group that you represent seeing as only one has taken a bite of any of the food here. And that one has probably faced just every kind of poison there is by now. I am no fool to old tricks. Nor to the fact that some are much more resilient to certain effects then others. I value my life. So I see two ways of me eating this food. One of which is a simple spell that even I could do, so it should be no problem for any of your fellow members to do the same, and the other is to see you eat a bite of everything at this table. And then your familiar does as well. I say to the man who happens to be the head of Hydra. I value my life more then anything and if they expect me to think that only one piece of food could be poisoned they were sadly mistaken. Plus I had to put on a good show.
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    Alucard servant of Lady Fierna
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    "Hah!" laughs Qavin. "I would not be led by a 'leash' as you put it. No, that was my sister's problem to begin with. If she was not so controlling, perhaps I would not have left the manor to study abroad in the first place!" He grabs a bunch of grapes and a drumstick, dripping with juices.

    "Suit yourself..." he replies. The other robed figures sit, lower their hoods, and begin to eat, as do the other nobles seated at the table with the exception of Kael.

    "So, Loss is it? Are you always this cautious?" Asks the wizard called Nathar, putting his hat on the corner of his chair and refilling his plate. "A little fear is healthy, much fear is crippling. And it will do you no good to cast that spell..." he says as he sees your hand raise up.
    "They have an anti-magic field over the place. Did you not notice your mage armor was dispelled when you got here? Surely you had some sort of magical protection?"
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    So you are allowing her to destroy your families beautiful bloodline then and all your uncles hard work and his ancestors before that. A shame really. I had much hope for your family. It seems those with the skills to lead have chosen to instead stand by as those who would destroy their very family do so. Perhaps I was wrong about you and your family. And dragons blood does not run through their veins as the stories say. I say watching the man grab some food.

    As all the others sit down and begin eating I watch all those who once had their hoods up take them off and I try to see if I notice any of them now that they have revealed themselves.

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    (1d20+7)[23] Arcane
    (1d20+7)[13] history
    (1d20+7)[25] Local


    As the wizard named Nathar asks me about me always being cautious I reply in kind. I am in a place with a group of people who claim to want to make a new rulership. To add this place is blocked from divination, and from what you have just said also from all other forms of magic. Seems to me that an easy way to kill someone. You do not spend a long time with my master without learning what to look for when it comes to murder. As I am sure you have heard my family motto is victory to the spider. As for noticing that my spells were disabled once I came here you are correct I did notice. Another reason for caution. some would call it paranoia, I simply call it keeping myself alive. And as you can see it has done me well so far. I say to the man.

    After watching all those their eat for about ten minutes and no ill effects coming around I take a small portion of each of the foods I have seen eaten by the others so far and enjoy the meal.
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    "It's been awhile, Lord Loss, thank you."

    Immediately on her guard, Juno seems more than willing to allow Lord Loss his moment in the spotlight of aggressive caution. Impressive how unnecessary it is for her to raise or voice her own suspicions; the only protest (if it can be called that) is torefuse Loss the chance to kiss her hand. After the incident 4 years ago at the party held by that uppity Duchess' Trelmane's daughter, with that drunken lout "Sir" Eric Enderson, he should *really* know better than that. The rose, however, is accepted graciously, and she was silent in withdrawing her hand at least...

    She takes special note of Ethan Adar, to whom she gives a wane smile and a half curtsy, and responds back to the one man at the table who greeted her, Kael Vorten. She must council her uncles on all the men here, she thinks, while silently, perhaps sternly, she allows Loss to make the scene. It (Presumably, also, only one ring is small enough for her hand; she takes it without a second thought but does not put it on.) It allows her to learn so much already; magic is impotent within the room, nothing will leave the room without Ocelevos' leave, and if the food was poisoned, that Nathar man would have dropped dead a minute ago.

    But as Loss continues, she realizes she must make a play of her own, lest she seem like a wooden statue of petite size. Coughing politely into a napkin, she looks sidelong at Loss, as if to silently protest his suspicions, taking her own seat and gesturing at Kael with a nod to do the same, presuming he is minding some impeccable manners.

    "Your... sister, Lord Qavan? I am not sure I have had the pleasure, or at least, I do not recall where our paths may have crossed... she asks for water and partakes of the meal; but seems to imply a double meaning to her last bit of words. Juno seems to break the ice as if this were a regular social function; whatever maddeningly important point the dinner has will be given in due time.

    "But then, it has nearly been a season since the last formal occasion that reached the Woodblades. What news in the right circles might have you to share of the goings on outside my woods and pastures?"


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    OOC:
    Interpret what you wish of the "Eric Enderson" debacle; it's just meant to be a Noodle Incident from her past wherein Juno wrecked a party after deciding she wasn't going to put up with being said party's laughing stock, and it involved a drunken boor.

    Also, take this as Rule #1 of social functions where Juno is present: Do Not Touch Juno.

    Also, I can make untrained Kn. Nobility checks, right? I wanna see if I can recall any of these guys from Juno's spotted history at banquets or gatherings: (1d20+1)[3]

    Also, also: Diplomacy check again to try to come off as appealing and/or gracious, to perhaps get some honest answers out of anybody: (1d20+7)[19]
    Last edited by tonberryking; 2013-01-22 at 10:59 AM.
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    Good to know Juno not like touching. Then again Lord Loss is not one to beat a dead horse so to speak. Or throw salt on a wound. As for untrained checks max you can get is a 10 no matter what you roll in that case.


    As Juno pulls her hand away I remember what happened at the last ball and graciously stand up. (Aside to Juno as Lord Loss is raising up) I am sorry my lady, I had forgotten of the last time we had meet. Forgive me. He says before turning to the others and making it seem like nothing had been said.

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    Not sure what the listen check would be on that, Correction DC 15 listen check for all but her to hear him


    As I am ranting on as if I had not been here once before I look to Juno who has coughed and silently I take the seat that has my master's symbol on it. Though it is a few chairs from Juno's chair it is right on the side Of the great Ethar it would seem. Interesting how they would place us. Here I would have thought they would have kept us all close as to effect us all at once if something needed to be taken care of.

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    (1d20+1)[20] Sense motives against Juno's Diplomacy though no chance of me winning seems only right to attempt the roll. Hope no hard feelings.


    So saying that I am not dead it would seem I owe you an apology. But as I am sure you know, you can never be to safe with such meetings. Will there be others joining us or will it only be those assembled? I ask curious to see how many people will be here total. After all though I had spoken with this man already I was not sure of their plans any more then my colleagues besides me.
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    Alexander Anderson-Shadows of the Past

    Alucard servant of Lady Fierna
    And his trusty servant Belphegor


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    Ethan waves off Ocelevos Delgarias' offer to speak, and settles into his seat at the table, scanning the faces with a neutral expression and favoring those that he recognizes (including the blue-robed man) with a small smile. He mentally notes the introductions of the other nobles-- at least he was not the only one whose identity was made public.

    Delgarias had introduced himself, but none of the others. It seemed likely that senior members would know of the new arrivals, but could retain their own privacy. That combined with the... efficient... security arrangements gives him both confidence in the Heads' ability to maintain secrecy and concern that he is but a pawn in a larger game.

    Ethan responds to Lord Loss's small talk with only a curt nod, and he pockets his ring when it is offered to him-- in his right pocket, of course.

    As Loss rambles inanely about poison, Ethan holds out his holy symbol and mutters a brief prayer over his meal before he eats. It's very likely that it did no magical good, but it was a habit he maintained fastidiously-- and perhaps Garl Glittergold would look down favorably on his machinations. At any rate, if they'd wanted him dead he'd be dead, and if they wanted him enchanted they would do it somewhere where magic worked.

    At a lull in conversation, he turns to Juno. "A pleasure to see you here, m'lady. A most interesting assortment of people are dining with us, are they not? It is especially a pleasure to meet you yet again, along with the mighty dragon." That last he adds in slightly sarcastic Elvish.
    Last edited by 4th number; 2013-01-24 at 02:11 AM.
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    Kael smiles at Juno politely and after she sits he also takes his seat. Lord Qavin chuckles at the banter unfolding before him in elven. As people begin to eat you notice a large spot in the center of the table free of plates, drinks, or food.

    "My dear sister has become quite meddlesome I'm afraid," replies Qavin. "She has seen fit to dirty our bloodline for the sake of political gain. I understand the need for a military presence in Lyn, the barbarians seem to be attacking every week now, but marriage to some random warlord?" He pauses and lowers his food from his mouth, as if he's lost his appetite.
    "Surely she cannot be so blind as to what will happen next. Half-blooded childeren. Loss of respect from our extended family, and with it the families pride as a whole. This will make us more susceptible to outside influence."
    He lets out a laugh as he realizes the irony in his statement. He looks around at the unfamiliar faces and shrugs. "See?"

    It is quite true. Even with their hoods lowered, none of you recognize any of the other men seated at the table. As the meal continues, the man seated at Ocelevos' right begins to shudder slightly, and his face contorts. His nose seems to shrink. His ears grow. And a moment later, you realize that the man, now elf, who sits before you is none other than the infamous and exiled elven wizard Aaron Malthrenarthiyr the Black.

    The members of Hydra don't seem to notice or care much, but the reaction from the nobles seated around you is immediate:
    Mouths drop open.
    A piece of chicken falls from Abram's mouth to his plate. Kael leaps to his feat, knocking back his chair, and draws his sword.
    "What is the meaning of this!??" he yells.
    Everyone seems disturbed except for perhaps Nathar, who scarcely raises an eyebrow.

    "Lord Kael, calm yourself." replies Ocelevos. "This is it, Lord Loss, you seven are all that will be in attendance this evening. And you are quite right about spells in this place, they will not work with one exception--"
    "--Mine." Replies Aaron.
    "Now, may we continue our meal?" says Ocelevos calmly. "Sir Nathar, you don't seem surprised?"
    "Oh? I am, I am." he says quickly, seemingly in an effort to be extra polite. It looks as if he is about to say something else as well, but thinks better of it. Realizing that the wizard isn't about to start killing people, Kael sheaths his sword and sits back down.

    "Aaron is to be our House Wizard for this chapter of Hydra. He brings to the table a vast amount of power, teleportation, abjuration, as well as an extensive knowledge of the dark arts--"
    "...and killing people, he's pretty good at that..." Mutters Kael under his breath.
    "--and has pledged his loyalty to us in that regard."

    "We would like to get to know you better," continues Ocelevos, pouring himself another glass of wine, "So that we can better help you accomplish your goals. What personal or political problems do you have that you would like to see resolved? Anyone?"
    He looks around the table.
    Last edited by Artman77; 2013-01-24 at 01:54 AM.
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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    The appearance of a dark magician seems to deter Juno less than the prattling of one man: Qavin's offhanded comments of selective breeding and general air about judgement is taken as a grievous insult to the woman whose ancestor earned his nobility. But then again, all Juno does is continue to eat her meal, a hearty one at that, rather than give the man dark looks or a snarl. That she is done speaking with him should be enough of a sign.

    Finished eating, and dabbing her face with a napkin to hide her silently sucking food from her teeth, Juno insists on a calm, casual attitude. Eventually however, this breaks:

    "And in return?"

    Three words. Three simple words as her eyelashes flutter in Ocelevos direction, her face a serene, but cutely curious visage. It may be very direct, but Juno wants to know the whole score, what price of loyalty such wishes would warrant.
    Last edited by tonberryking; 2013-01-24 at 11:48 AM.
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    "Small favors here and there..." Ocelevos waits for your response, or perhaps a request from one of the others. One of the other members sees your hesitation and pipes up.

    "The favors are nothing too extreme, Lady Juno," Says the the man. He appears to be in his late twenties or early thirties. He is the only one at the table with strawberry blonde hair; it is short and unkempt. His eyes are a deep blue.
    "For example; one month they may ask you to provide food and shelter for another member traveling from the other side of the empire. They might ask each member of the body to donate a small amount so that we may pay a bribe or two. Or they could ask for you to keep eyes and ears on a target who happens to be in your neck of the woods, and report back on his activities."

    "Thank you Dan," interjects Ocelevos, then turns his attention back to you and the others "Membership with the Heads of Hydra isn't membership with a cult nor an expensive club. We have no annual membership dues, nor quarterly meetings, there will be no ritual sacrifices. It is merely a secret alliance between noble houses to advance each house, and better the empire as a whole.
    If any of you has a problem that you would not mind sharing with those present, we could demonstrate the organization's benefits in a very real and immediate way..."
    "In those days, that is, when men discovered they could manipulate arcane energies, every man envisioned himself a wizard. Of course, his dream was scarcely true, and many lives were lost, genius and simpleton alike." --Alistar Burke, Second order of the Circle of Nine

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