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Michael walks the rest of the way down the stairs. He's short, relatively speaking, probably less than a foot taller than Rana, and up close it looks like he could do with a bath as well. "D'you know where she ran off to, then?" he asks, skipping over both introductions and pleasantries. "Or are ya here just t'get on my nerves? I'm not takin' in any more whiny li'l half-starved brats for you lot, so don't even get started on that."
"Any more. I guess that means you know who we are, then?" The paladin launches a look up the second floor, aware that there are people there who probably don't want to be seen, then goes down the couple of steps that he had climbed before, following Michael. "We do not know where Ranias is. What happened?"
"Short version? Brat shows up 'bout a year back or so, lookin' for a place t'stay the night. Doesn't leave. Then she disappears for months, comes back lookin' like hell froze over, an' won't tell me a damned thing. An' then she runs off again, almost soon as she showed up." Michael punctuates his fragmented sentences with wild gestures and muttered curses.
"Dammit. I told her to let me help." Audric says almost to himself, resisting the temptation to punch something in frustration. "I think I'd like the long version, please. Last time we talked to her, she seemed to have faith that you would keep her safe. Did you tell her something that drew her away? And do you have any idea where she could be?" He looks Michael in the eyes And also, what is exactly you do here, Michael? But Audric keeps the last to himself, at least for the moment.
He seems agitated and frustrated, and rather wants you out of his house. He's probably not lying, though. He might be hiding something, but it's more likely he simply thinks you know more than you actually do. It's also exceedingly unlikely he's noticed you're a paladin. He still hasn't introduced himself (you're just assuming he's actually Michael Veltaros), and he has not asked you to introduce yourselves either.
Michael scoffs. "I try t'keep all those livin' under my roof live an' whole, whether they're bein' shoved on t'my doorstep or no. Long story, eh? Fine. C'mon, sit down. There's some seats over in the next room-I don' fancy standin' here for half an hour." He goes over to the sitting room and flops down on one of the overstuffed chairs. A large cloud of dust flies out, but he pays it no mind.
"That is a commendable attitude" Audric comments. He follows to the other room and, after a scrutiny of the avaiable chairs, selects one that seems sturdy enough to not break under the weight of his armor. He sits carefully, keeping eye contact with the shabby man "Long story, then, Michael. It's Michael, is it? I'm listening."
Michael nods, presumably affirming his identity. After Antal, Llaars, and Paral find places to sit, he begins to speak. "Well, I'd been squattin' here for a while, mindin' my own business. Most a' this stuff, it was here when I moved in," he says, thwacking the chair with one gnarled hand. Another cloud of dust flies into the air. "I've got a bit of sympathy for those with the bad luck t'be sorcerers an' the like. Don' like 'em, but I can kinda see where they're comin' from. Not a pretty place. I've been shelterin' them, gettin' them outta here fast as I can. 'cept these new uns, they're not keen on leavin' so fast. Most have notions of fightin'. Some come in babblin' about armies an' grand ol' secret plans. Kids're all crazy, if ya ask me. Course," he adds, almost as an afterthought, "Lots of 'em don' care what I say or think. They just want blood."
"So, 'bout a year back, Ranias shows. She's not one of the real crazy uns. Tried t'help me get them outta here, actually. Think she just found them all a bit too dumb fer her likin'. She was out tryin' t'get us some extra food or somethin'. She ne'er was too clear 'bout where she got all the coin. I din't ask. We've all got our dark li'l secrets. Anyways, she din't come back. After a bit, I stopped lookin'." Michael pauses there, assessing you. "Somehow, I'd think ya know a bit more than I 'bout the rest."
Audric stares at Michael. He has to consciously remember to close his mouth. No, I really don't think he is aware of what I am. He wouldn't have volunteered that sort of information, otherwise he thinks, and immediately after, on the wake of that thought And what are you going to do with it, now? He gives a little shake of his head, putting the question on temporary hold, and replies:
"Iil'ssaran is what happened, basically. Irena Wainwright. Do you know that name?"
Michael frowns, scratching his rather sorry beard. "Not well. S'her house that's all blocked up with fences an' adepts. She's a healer, in't she? Wonder what happened. Ya know, I always thought healin' arts were the one sort a' magic that won't go all crazy on ya."
May I have a sense motive, please? Sense motive - (1d20+9). Also, I should have done it before, when I detected magic on him, but I remembered just now. Spellcraft check, please spellcraft - (1d20+2). Can I identify what sort of magic Michael has? EDIT:if some other rolls are relevant for this (knowledge arcana, maybe?) could you roll for me?
Michael seems like he's still telling the truth. As for his magic...you aren't sure. It's very faint, reminiscent of dark places, and things with claws. It's closer to druidic magic than anything else, but even that is a painfully long shot.
"I do not know what she was before, but I am certain she is not a healer anymore" Audric launches a look to the others, silently asking for help with this "We think she awake something. A spirit, that possessed her. Anyway, she goes under the name of Iil'ssaran, now. She is doing some sort of sick experiments on magic users: she... she kidnapped Ranias and tortured her for months. We drove the sorceress away, and took care of Ranias, for a little bit. She didn't trust us enough to let us help more than that." Me, expecially. "She asked to be brought here. I do not know what happened after that.". Audric doesn't hesitate in talking about Iil'ssaran: as he sees it, the more people forewarned, expecially among magic users, the biggest the chance to catch her should she show up again.
Michael's eyebrows shoot up. "You're kiddin'." He takes a second glance at Audric's expression and shakes his head. "That's just crazy. No wonder Ranias clammed up. Torture? Gods," he whispers. Paral rolls his eyes, but Michael takes no notice. "I really dunno what happened. She was real quiet. Skittish. Jumped if ya came 'round a corner an' she din't hear ya. Brought back those one night," he adds, gesturing towards the cats with one hand. "I din't ask. Haven't had time t'get rid of 'em yet. You've never seen back pain 'till your spine gets ideas 'bout bein' curved in all the wrong directions an' long 'nuff t'give one a tail."
Audric takes a deep breath. Now for the uncomfortable part of the conversation - normally he'd feel like Ranias' secrets weren't his to tell, but if this Michael has taken the girl in, he needs to know. " Those... Those were her dinner, I am afraid. She is not exactly human any more. She needs blood to live, now.". He pauses, but before Michael can say anything else he adds "Michael, here is the one place she felt safe in. She told me herself she did not have another place to stay. Why would she leave again?" He looks Michael in the eyes "Is it somehow tied to your... guests upstairs? The elven-speaking ones?"
Michael makes a face. "Dinner? That's disgustin'. She wasn't human t'start, but that's...even on my worst days, I'd not eat somethin' like them." At the mention of his elven-speaking guests upstairs, he scoffs. "It's just them idiots with ideas of war. Considerin' one of 'em was here afore she got screwed up, I don't think Ranias'd run off 'cause a few more showed since. I don't understand a word comin' outta their mouths half the time, so I'll just take your word for it that they're speaking Elf."
"Ideas of war." Audric replies, more of a groan than an actual sentence. He rubs his eyes with the palm of his hands, then turns to Antal, Rana and the rest of his allies "I have to intervene on this" he says to them. His tone is a bit odd: it is difficult to tell if he meant the sentence as an apology or a simple statement.
He turns to Michael again "Those idiots - you said Ranias was trying to help you getting them out. I can help you with that. I pretty much have to." He may not be sure of a lot of things anymore, but this is something he is certain of. "I cannot have people threatening the peace in this city."
Michael grins, showing crooked, yellow, teeth, and gestures towards the stairs. "Go ahead. Maybe they'll take better t'one who's speakin' their language. I've gotta go deal with those cats." He pushes himself into a standing position with a groan and ambles over to clean up the rotting cats.
"I seriously doubt it," Audric answers honestly. "especially given what I am. You really did not notice, or does it not matter to you?" He finds it hard to believe Michael is still unaware: his holy symbol is well evident at his neck, and he is heavily armored - if that does not mark him clearly as a paladin, Audric doesn't know what it takes. "I am not sure of what it will accomplish, but I will try to talk to them. And I could use some help. Rana, yours, in particular, and maybe Paral's, as well. If you will accompany me, you may help me defuse some tension." If anything else fails, there is always the option of bringing the Order into it...but that would probably ruin Michael's life, as well, and he seems like a decent person. Regardless of what magic he may have.
Michael comes back after a few minutes, wiping his hands on the sides of his pants. "Yer gods're yer business, an' no one else's. I'll pray t'any an' all of 'em. Ya didn't try an' kill Ranias the moment ya met her, an' that was after she got all messed up," he says pointedly. "Ya din't try an' stab me for keepin' rebels an' suchlike in the attic. Don't think you've got ideas of killin' the masses in the name of justice. I don't care if yer a witch or a priest or a wolfspeaker or anythin' else. You lot seem like you've got yer heads screwed on the right way, or close as anyone gets these days."
Paral's expression during Michael's speech is not unlike the expression of someone who has been hit in the face with a frying pan, minus the screaming and blood and broken nose.
Audric stares at Michael, stunned for just a second "I... I thank you." he replies. He has to swallow before he can talk again - he doesn't know why Michael's speech should affect him so much, but there's no denying that it does. Maybe because he is the first one that gave him unconditioned acceptance "My name is Audric. Should you...should you find yorself in any kind of trouble with the Order for what you do, I will try to use what little leverage I have left to help you." He doesn't know how useful that promise would turn out to be, but it's one he feels like making.
At that moment, Antal speaks up. Audric jumps slightly, having almost forgot the silent halfling "No" he replies. He sounds pretty sure of what he is saying "With Paral, I could...feel the spirit's aura, overriding his. He spoke to me in my mind - there were clearly two people there, and the spirit was in control. Ranias is nothing like that. She has been made partly undead: her body and her aura changed accordingly. A ritual like the one I performed on Paral would not work, I am pretty certain of it."
Rana raises one eyebrow and looks at Audric with a faintly amused expression, "Just one problem with that little plan. I don't care. No, I less than care. Let the city burn. Let the trees, the wild return. Let the people war and the animals run free in the aftermath. I don't care.
"The only reason I'm still here is because the possessing spirits are an abomination and must be destroyed. That's-that's the only thing that matters." Her voice falters on the last sentence and she suddenly breaks eye contact with Audric.
Finals week -- will be back soon.
Thinking about getting started with D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder? I'm always happy to answer questions and help a new player!
Michael's expression changes in an instant from rather calm, considering present company, to shocked and angry. "Just 'cause you don't give a damn about this place doesn't mean it's worthless, missy. Maybe ya should go meet with the rest of 'em upstairs. Sure you'd get along splendid." He turns to Audric, Antal, and Llaars. "If yer still plannin' t' help me get all the idiots outta here, feel free t' go upstairs right now an' try t' talk sense into their skulls. Might want t' leave yer weapons downstairs, if ya don't want t' be socked in the face."
Audric tightens his mouth, looking at Rana. He has looked hurt, for a second, but he appears just sad now. "You are free to stay here," he says, quietly "or go. But the people in this city are under my responsability, and I do care. And I cannot have threats of war without trying to do something to stop them." He stands carefully, nodding at Michael, and begins to shed his weapons "I would have more chances with you at my side" he says to Rana again "But the last thing I want is to force you."
I have always prided myself on being able to get by in any situation, and it is becoming ever more apparent that I know far too little about the workings of magic. Antal speaks calmly and clearly, sparing a glance at Audric, Now don't get your pants in a knot Paladin, I don't plan to start practicing any of the big spells, I just want to know better how to deal with it. That said, I don't see any reason I should have to help refugees escape this town, though I'll talk to them, and am willing to offer advice.
Originally Posted by Ertier
A good background is like a skirt. Short enough to keep my interest, but long enough to cover the important bits.