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"Sure, sure," Nala mutters, taking great care to memorize what the drow guard says. She moves to the book and deliberately picks the pen up in her right hand. With the great care of the near-illiterate - or someone writing with their off-hand - she dips the pen into the ink and scrawls Nala into the book. As she carefully replaces it, she asks the drow, "Any recommendations? What do orcs like me usually do in a place like this? Want to make the most of my stay here, you know."
Inwardly she smiles. We have a way to get into the Queenís house. Somehow, we have to turn a profit in this city.
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Vrishchika, in her "tough orc" disguise, steps toward the book. She adjusts the magical disguise's eyepatch and, with a trained hand, elegantly pens the name "Vris" into the book. "There ya go," she grumbles, the voice of Naberius helping her attain a more guttural and less pre-teen girly sound to her speech. She steps back quickly, giving the others room to sign as well.
Using the Disguise Self SLA provided by my vestige to produce a magical disguise before we go in - just an FYI, my disguise check total (that I know of, right now) is +9 (+1 cha, +10 disguise self, -2 different race). Her face kinda looks like this right now, and her clothes look like a slightly rougher version of her current outfit, without the astrological sign on it. So basically herself, only orkier and with some scars and an eyepatch, and maybe a bit taller too. Probably should have put this in an earlier post actually .
Cor scribbles in the book and as soon as Siel has as well, the guard steps aside. "Have a pleasant stay. Should you have any questions regarding rules, laws and regulations, feel free to contact me or any other guard." He continues: "By entering this city you effectively become a subject of our royal house and are expected to behave as such. If not, you will be penalized as such." He touches his rapier with his right hand and greets you. "Oh, and in the 'Bolts and Gold' tavern there's good gambling going on. Dice, cards, you name it. I hear your kind is into that."
As you round the bent, you suddenly see the source of the light. The city is pretty huge, especially considering it is underground and it is in its own funny way very pretty to look at.
You know, picture, thousand words and so on. So, I decided to just steal a picture which happens to feature pretty much what I had in mind
As you step forward you descend on a bridge into the first and lowest layer of the town. "Here the people live. Mostly houses here and pretty much none of our business. 'Tis big, goes all the way around." As you carry on, Cor points to the distance. "Behind the first wall is the town centre. Trading markets, shops, inns and so on, but there's also a noble's quarter which we won't be allowed to visit. The downtown area is also quite big. Actually, I would not mind spending a day, or maybe two to have a look at some of the buildings. I hear this city has quite some amazing architecture." It seems Cor is quite the inquisitive person as he is acting pretty much as a tourist. "I have been here a while, but haven't gotten the chance to roam about freely, you see. I spent a lot of time there." He points at the highest rises. "The royal quarters. Strictly forbidden. I was kind of a pet to the royal house and then a test subject for some priests and scholars. Seems they know as little about us as we do about them."
Nala canít stop her jaw from dropping at the sight of the city. Itís hard to conceive that after all this time away from proper cities that there actually were some spots of civilization in this barren wilderness of a land. But even so, the strangeness of the city kept her on edge. The strange underground light, the fascinating architecture, and especially seeing monstrous creatures walking around in place of the humanoids she expects when she thinks of proper cities.
"Yes, letís," she says in response to Corís question, as soon as sheís able to regain control of her senses. "Place to stay first. Then Iíll probably hit the tavern that guard recommended." Under her breath she adds, "Letís keep quiet until we have a secure place to talk." I bet he got caught by being overheard, she thinks. And then something occurs to her. "Cor? Youíve been here before. What are the laws for weapons in the city? Am I going to be arrested for walking around like this?" She waves at her spear and shirt. A careful eye would definitely notice the armor underneath.
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Cor looks around, sees nobody but then nods gravely. "Yes, sorry, you are probably right. I don't mean to spoil this for you, I will keep a lower profile."
And yes, you can carry weapons. You have the right to defend yourself. But from what I know, the person drawing weapons first has a big chance of being held responsible for whatever happens next, so be careful with it."
Completely irrelevant, but I am writing this at 6000ft altitude, in the middle of nowhere in the Alps. Gotta love these times .
Vrishchika looks about the city, her eyes gorging on civilization again. And a magical society at that! She tries her hardest to conceal an excited squeal as she nods to Cor and Nala. "Yeah, let's find a place to stay first. Sometime afterwards I wanna see if they have some kinda magic shop," she says, muttering "probably in the market somewhere..." as she continues looking around.
"Excellent. Then let's go." Nala sets off towards the first wall, hoping to find a likely place beyond it, nearer to the center of the city. She keeps an eye out for anything interesting, the magic shop for Vrish - although her image of a magic shop is something lit by strange glows, marked with weird letters with too many consonants and patronized by strange looking creatures. She takes interest in areas with lots of activity, trying to guess what's going on, and tries to look like she knows where she's going, or at least like she doesn't get lost. It's comfortable to be in a proper city again.
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Walking on the main street through the lowest layer you look around and notice only a few inhabitants, some of which nod friendly at you as they spot you. Up close you once again are confronted with the apparent dual nature of this city. On one hand it is dark, underground, gloomy and in a way it looks just 'evil', but on the other hand, the inhabitants are friendly, the sculptures in the gardens and behind some windows are pretty, as is the decoration on the houses and the street signs. The multi-colored illumination also gives the city a very cheerful atmosphere.
You pass through the gate to the second layer and here it is much more crowded. After a mere hundred feet the street ends on a square with some taller buildings. "This is one of six squares that lie in a circle around again an even bigger square. These squares form the business and market quarter of this layer. I guess we will find all we need here. The biggest, central square has the market." Some asking around has you moving to the square on the left of this one, as it is being said that there are inns there that accomodate visitors from outside. While walking to the square you see that many buildings here house shops, places with food and workshops. Most of the signs are in the drow language, so it is hard to figure out what's going on, but some owners are smart enough to have one or two key words in Orc on their signs. 'Dried herbs', 'Fine dining', 'Smith, reparations and sharpening'. It is quite crowded in the streets, but everyone walks on the right side of the street and there even seems to be a fast and a slow lane, which makes for very efficient travelling. You notice that just about everyone you see is male.
On the next square there are again taller buildings, some of which are inns. You end up at a place which has a sign in Orc: 'The Warrior from the North'. There is a picture drawn under it of an orc and an ogre sitting at a table drinking beer. As you step inside you find a room with tables and benches, able to hold forty visitors easily. There's a bar at the other side of the room. On every table there's a big candle. On your right you see a bugbear sitting at a table. He is holding a bunch of papers and studying them, making notes and thinking deeply. He looks up and greets you and continues. A door behind the bar opens and a male drow head pops through. "Good morning and welcome! What can I do for you?" He steps through the door and puts down some mugs on a shelf. "A good breakfast, an early ale, or lodging?"
The friendliness of the inhabitants takes Nala aback. Perhaps itís the idea that monstrous races Ė the feeling of 'our foes' still sits ingrained in her Ė canít be so friendly, even amongst themselves. Or it could be the atmosphere of the underground place. Or she's just on edge from the creepy encounter of the graveyard the day before.
Either way, she quells the surprise and unease to better focus on the streets and their new, but orderly, traffic pattern. She takes a moment to admire the sign for The Warrior from the North before stepping inside. It seems to imply that it isnít unusual for orcs and ogres to travel together, and enough of them to fill at least one inn this size. All comforting signs.
When the bugbear sitting at the table greets them Ė but he doesnít even know us Ė she replies quietly in kind, taking the opportunity to try to get a brief glance at his papers.
To the drow she says, "Gímorning. Looking for lodging for myself and four companions."
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
You cannot really get a good proper look at his papers, Nala, but it seems to be lists of items or persons, followed by numbers. Business papers you'd say, as far as your experience in that area go. Perhaps he is a merchant, or a contracter?
The drow smiles: Business! "But, of course! I can offer you one big room for five. Simple beds and one cupboard to share, breakfast included. If you want a bit more convenience, I have a two-person room for the men and a three-person room for the ladies. Individual cupboards and washing facilities included, as well as breakfast and dining. Should you decide to dine elsewhere, you are entitled to two drinks per person per night." He looks something up and makes a note. "First option would be 15 silver pieces a day, for the lot, second option 30"
Tralkor remains mostly quiet while traversing the city. This huge city and the scary levels of organized civilisation here are definitely not his cup of tea. Sure, it was quite impressive, but why would anyone enjoy living like this... So packed together, so little nature... brrrr.
After entering the inn, his good mood slowly returns. It's still not the outdoors, but at least it feels a lot more like home in here.
As for the lodging and stuff; he didn't really care. He'd be happy with a clean piece of floor to sleep on, and some bread and water to keep him nourished. He simply awaits what the rest will decide and then chip in to pay for expenses.
Nala hesitates for a long moment. Then she turns to the others.
We don't have a way to replenish our money. "I think we should play it safe with our finances." Are any of us even employable? "Since we're not sure exactly how long we'll be staying." Staying in one place to work would be an incredible risk. "Any objections? To me, anything that isn't me bedroll would be a welcome change." Simple interaction is one thing, but part- or even full-time work? Will this charade hold?
What are we going to do when we run out?
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Siel is fairly silent as they go through the city. Cor doesn't interest her anymore - rather than being a filling banquet he's turned into a negative being, somehow. The ambient sadness of the place is wonderful, though. So many beings in such close proximity to one another...the day-to-day pain they felt mixed together and drifted through the air like some sort of grief cocktail. If Siel were susceptible to such things she might begin feeling lightheaded after such full-body exposure to pain like this.
As the group goes into the inn, Siel doesn't express much interest in anything there. There wasn't much sadness here, it seemed. As Nala turned to talk to her and the others, the fey's nose twitches. She knew the smell well by now - Nala had a tendency to worry. It was a particularly well-ripened emotion, one she felt often enough that the energy it contained quickly reached the state where it made an exquisite meal.
The expression Siel wears as she watches Nala isn't easy to read, in part because her eyes are the same pitch-black as they normally are. Halfway through Nala's considerations she licks her lips, before she replies.
"I have no problems with these arrangements," she says, smiling.
The drow is not exactly eavesdropping, but his experience as inn-keeper allows him to infer a lot from your words and body language. "All right, the simple room it is then", he actually does not sound disappointed at all. "Should you change your mind later, let me know. As it is, I believe the other offer will be open for a few days." He scribbles something and then continues while he grabs a small metal object. "Here's the key. Through the door on the right, then it is the fourth door on your left." He hands Nala a key. "Payment is due each day after the night's rest, at breakfast. You can pay in advance, if you prefer." He then turns to Nala specifically: "Would you mind filling out this form? I assume you are willing to vouch for the lot?"
The form reads
Place of residence:
Reason of visit:
The drow smiles: "Please do not hesitate to ask, I am here to make your stay comfortable, and please make yourselves at home."
"Yeah, I vouch for all of them," Nala says, taking the paper with inward trepidation. This is everything she had wanted to avoid - a paper trail. Whatever story she decides on, its contents must be adhered to. She forces her thoughts towards the paper. For Nala the orc, this is all simple business.
She takes out a pen, puts it deliberately in her right hands and writes:
Place of residence: itinerant
Reason of visit: visit
She hands it back to the drow and turns to the others. "Let's see the room."
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
The Drow accepts the paper and puts it aside without reading it. Apparently, to him it is just a formality: Paperwork that needs to be done, but does not really matter. You are paying customers, that is what matters. "Have a pleasant stay."
You enter your room and find out it is nothing more than the Drow promised. Eight beds in a row, one cupboard with some drawers, there's bathing and toilet facilities down the hallway. You all find a spot for yourselves and while the beds are not magnificent they beat a bedroll on the forest floor by more than a mile.
Cor drops his stuff on his bed and lies down. "So...eh...can I speak here? What is the plan?
Nala stands quietly in the center of the room for a moment, listening closely for any suspicious sounds. If she doesn't hear any nearby sneaky, unusual sounds, she shrugs and nods to Cor. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to get a drink at the Bolts and Gold, sit around and see what I can learn. Anyone else got plans?"
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
It is still fairly early in the day and while you walk through the city asking for directions to the Bolts and Gold your attention gets drawn to the odd statue, impressive building or street musician trying to make some money. In the time you were at the inn (was it an hour, maybe less?) the city had awakened some more. Using not the shortest route, you end up at a building, four storeys high. A big sign identifies it as the bar you were looking for.
Inside, on the first floor, you find a large spacious room with bars on both the left and right side. Two drow are busy cleaning up the mess of the previous night and are almost done. On a busy night a hundred men might easily be packed into this place, but on a week-day around noon there are only two hands full of customers. You notice that about half of the tables are adapted to facilitate games of sorts. Boards carved into the table, sort of abacuses to keep count of scores and slots to hold dice cups and stacks of cards are among the things you see.
A group of seven drow are sitting together and appear to have a meeting over lunch. They casually glance in your direction, some nod and continue their conversation. A few tables further, there's a group of men, two orcs and a bugbear, having a beer and a laugh. As they spot you the biggest, and possibly brawliest, of the orcs jumps up and cheers at you. "Hey good folk!" He swings a few chairs towards their table. "Bwaha! Come join us!" The other orc and the bugbear smile at the enthousiasm of their friend but also look at you. The look on their faces tells you that their hospitality is sincere: It is always nice to run into 'brothers' when you are far away from home.
"I'm going to go look for that magic shop," she says, bidding Nala and Siel good luck and farewell for now. Refreshing her disguise, Vrischika heads down and out into the streets, asking those that seem to know the lay of the city and look approachable if they know where one might find arcane accoutrements, such as scrolls. She tries to keep track of time in her head while wandering and citygazing to duck into an empty corridor or shadowed area to activate her disguise again when it starts to wear off.
Looking for a shop with arcane stuff, like scrolls; I'm not sure if it's needed, since it doesn't seem like it'd be sensitive info, but here's a Gather Information roll in case:
If it takes longer than 30 minutes to ask around and find the place, I refresh my disguise before it wears out (via Naberius's ability).
Vrishchika does not join your trip to the pub, but decides to pursue her own goals.
Pfff, I need to check your character name twice every time I use it
You wander around, asking people you think look like people that know stuff you are after. That works out pretty well. First, you get sent to a small quarter which has many magic related shops. Not all magic item shops (there is actually only one advertised as such), but mostly shops that sell good scroll papers, spell books, spell components, reading lights, fancy cloaks, mantles and staves that are not magical, but look impressive. Actually, from a strict wizards point of view, this is the most civilized a city you have ever been in.
For some reason, around there you hook up with an old drow man who is performing using cantrips earning a coin or two. He tells you that there is this one shop that has enchanted items. Weapons, cloaks, wands, scrolls, the works. However, prices are steep and they only offer what happens to be in stock. There are magic items, especially scrolls, wands and the occasional stray other item to be found in various shops, but again, one needs to be lucky to find what one needs. He also informs you that there is a sort of shop run by the Academy. They can deliver any sort of item, basically, but there's a certain waiting time involved.
When he picks up that you are mostly after spell knowledge, he advices you again to go to the Academy shop. He admits he is not into written magic, but he happens to know that if someone has something to offer....a written spell, for example, they might be up for a trade. "You are not from here," he says "you might have a trick up your sleeve they are keen on learning about."
Pondering the old man's words you visit the magic shop and other shops and stands with potential interesting stuff, but you do not quite find what you need. Curing wounds, Invisibility, Mage armor, Detect poison, Magic sword, Magic ring, they all have it, but you are looking for something specific. You end up at the Academy shop. It is really not a shop per se. It is a small building with some officials taking up registrations for the academy, answering questions, pushing papers....As you enter you hear a voice out of nowhere: '23' and moments later you find yourself sitting on a bench waiting for number 20, 21, and 22 to be called to the desk. There are posters on the wall informing you that you need some certificates and proof of ability to apply and that any payment needs to be done promptly.
A drow male, he looks quite young, looks at you with a somewhat boring expression as you approach: "G'day, how may I help you?"
Nala smiles at the greeting. Itís nice, feeling welcomed somewhere, not out of place, running or hiding. Itís not as if she can forget their precarious situation, but the simple moments where things go favorably become all that more valued.
"Gladly," she says, and falls into one of the proffered seats. "Been on my feet for so long Ė this place really keeps you moving. Is it always like this?"
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Siel smiles at the warm welcome Nala is given. It was amusing, although it did drive away her worry. She wasn't greedy, though. While Nala was a delicious person, constant worry and sadness would spoil even her emotions. It was good to make things look up for her every now and then.
Following Nala, Siel stands off to the side, breathing deeply to get a good taste of the pain in the air (it was a bit thin for her tastes, but she'd endure it for the sake of later enjoyment). At the orc's question she prepares herself for an introduction. For now she was the odd one out and not really involved in the conversation. That was fine, it meant she didn't have to focus much on whatever the orcs were talking about. Sometimes talking to people was so annoying.
Sielís smile takes Nala pleasantly off-guard. Glad sheís lowering the general creepiness about her. Or maybe Nala is just getting used to being around strange creatures.
"I do miss the sky," she admits to the other orc. "Though this place is interesting enough for me to do without it for a while. My companions and I were passing through the area, and thought weíd drop by, take a load off our feet, rest, and see the sights. While Iíd like to say Iím on business, I havenít had much active work for a while. Figure Iíd spend some time studying and learning more about my trade. Are the drow known for their engineering? Their architecture's certainly something. And what about you?" She gestures to all of them at the table. "What brings guys like you to this place?"
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
The orc snorts. "Drow and engineering, hmm...They do manage to build a nice building. They got style and craftmanship, but engineering, from an orc point of view, they, ehm..." He looks around to make sure no drow are listening in. "...Eh, let's say they prefer to rely on their magics." The 'brawler' continues: "As for me and my mates, we are colleagues. Well, used to be. I had a.... let's say I hit a small gold mine and am retired now. My friends here still work hard and travel lots for their money." He signals one of the drow that works here and orders a drink. The drow greets you and asks you all what you want to drink. "Have a beer, brewed according to orc standards. It is on me!"
"So, I basically live here. In this city, and in some places around the mountain here. Like the climate better here than up north. Also, less people that are after my money, you see? My associate chose to stay up north. To tend to our creations and teach others, I guess. If you are into engineering, you might know him. Well, I bet you do, he is pretty famous. Holten is his name." He looks at you with some expectation.
You have, of course, never heard of this Holten. A small glance at Cor is returned with a blank expression: Apparently Holten is not that famous.
"Hello. I'm new to the city, trying to expand my repertoire of spells. Wizard, y'know?" she says with a tusky smile. "I heard I might be able to find some information on new or unusual arcana here. Maybe a trade, spell for spell, or perhaps something else? Do you know if this academy does those?" she inquires, hoping not to overwhelm the bored looking fellow.
He nods. "Please take a seat, someone will come to get you." It takes about ten minutes for an older looking drow to enter the reception room. He walks to the desk and the bored drow points at you. The older drow turns around and says: "Please follow me".
You walk through the door he came through and he takes you to another, smaller, room. There's a table with three chairs around it and a large book on top of it. "Have a seat." The drow also seats himself and opens the book. "My name is Gart, let's say I am a sort of librarian here. What is your name, young lady, and where did you do your studies, if I may ask?"