Time to earn his bread...and the tavernkeeper's forgiveness.
Varis opened his mouth, before closing it again. Twice in a single day he has been knocked speechless, and he feels, suddenly, that it won't be the last. Finally he laughed at Karrain's final words.
[Immolations? Frostlocks? Geez, that puts my lighting candles to shame...]
"Yeah, a few thousand years sounds about right. Good to know you have a sense of humor, it's something that was lacking outside of DHarem and I. Well then, as to your power, I fear I have to ask that you stick to whatever you can control while in the city. Any damages are coming out of your salary...or in this case, rather, you'll be limited to water for however long seems necessary. I presume you can cast under pressure without too much collateral damage?"
"Well, regardless, we were about to leave after this round of drinks to prepare for our upcoming job. In two Strikes we must meet in the nearby Square. If you know the way already, or you don't get lost easily, you're welcome to wander in that time. I can always give you the money for a map of the city, after all. Alternatively, you may await here with Thomas, sampling what this...errm...fine establishment has to offer, or may tag along with Bon, DHarem or I. We leave the options up to you, Sir Unzual."
Varis thought for a second, before a strange smile graces the edge of his lip, an...unusual gleam in his eye recognized by all who sat at the table but Karrain.
"Now, we haven't had the most relaxing time in this Tavern. But as long as it's around lunch, and patrons are filing in...I think we nonetheless owe the barkeep some, for our surprisingly excellent drinks...and for the disruptions and," -Varis sent a sidelong glance to DHarem- "Damages we have caused. After all, we haven't been kicked out, so..."
Varis stood, retrieving his hand-harp from the table and stretching his arms, rejuvinated from the aches of his early-morning walk.
"You and DHarem work out the specifics of what you wish, Karrain. I have a....reputation to uphold, outside of being a mercenary." Varis cryptically described, moving over to an empty table in the corner of the Tavern-the same where the Councillor previously sat-and climbing onto it, perching easily-unfazed by the increase in height. As heads turned to look in interest, he plucked a couple of notes, twisting various parts of his harp with an expert's touch as he tuned it to perfection, clearing his throat...
His feet began to tap a beat onto the table, surprisingly loud notes that reverberated through the tavern unusually well...
(Slow, melancholous notes strum over the harp in the bard's hands...)
*There once was a tale,
-a hero of Old!
The look of the brave in his eeeeye...*
(A sudden increase a tempo, full chords punctuating every sung line)
*A sword at his belt!
A bow on his back!
And spells that have yet to let fly....*
(A slowing yet again, a series of notes punctuated by taps on the wood beneath the bard's feet)
*The young idolized him,
while the old prized him,
A hero of rich and pooor!*
*A soldier by heart,
A leader by soul,
And a Tithuanian evermooore!*
(Returns, beginning to repeat the original tempo)
*There once was a woman,
-a gem among stones!
The lady of purest liiight.*
*With speed at her heel!
And daggers of white!
A beautiful, deadly, siiight...*
*Monsters had feared her,
and men had revered her,
A glamour in all for suuure...*
*A lover at heart,
A fighter by soul,
And an Ethronian evermoooore!*
(Varis continues his song, detailing the ballad of a Tithuanian and Ethronian hero and heroine, who met on the field of battle long ago, when all Ethronians were far more warlike than many are now, and fell in love against all odds. Tragedy struck not long after marriage as they were both killed, each dying to save many citizens of the other's country, citizens they had once sworn to conquer, slay or defeat.
It is a song that DHarem has heard Varis perform before, unlike the newer arrivals of Bon, Thomas and Karrain. However, the song is not an entirely unknown one, and one Bon or Thomas may have heard before from other sources, unlike the ancient mage.)
It didn't take long for the crowds to begin cheering and bashing their tables with the beat, with many singing along, mostly with terrible singing.
But the song had its effect, and the barkeep winked at Varis as he performed, in a sort of understanding manner: he knew exactly what was going on, but was nonetheless loving it. It wasn't long until the barkeep averted his gaze to other patrons while whistling.
DHarem raised an eyebrow and gave a slight smile at the obvious joke from Karrain about his drink. It was good to see the man had a sense of humor especially after being imprisoned for so long. He listened as Varis finished informing Karrain of their mission and what he could do until the time they had to gather at the Square. DHarem was thinking of what he needed to do as he finished his second drink and pondered. He was so lost in thought for a moment that he almost missed the look that Varis directed at him as he talked of ‘Damages’.
The Seeker blinked and then raised a brow and started to respond that the so called ‘Damages’ comment and state that the young man who had retreated to the Kitchen already was fine and that he would suffer no lasting effects from his nerve strike which paralyzed him for a few minutes but his comments were lost as the Singer started to tune up his harp.
DHarem decided to remain silent and let his friend get away with that minor slight after all he could recall a few other ‘minor’ incidents that he had perhaps gone overboard in handling some situations; just maybe a little overboard but just a very little.
He listened with Karrain to Varis’s song and nodded at the wonderful singing, as usual. As the song was winding down, he finished the last sip of his wine and turned to the mage and asked with is voice low so as not to disturb the song, “So you wish to accompany me or do you wish to explore on your own?”
“So you wish to accompany me or do you wish to explore on your own?”
Karrain considers DHarem's offer quietly before nodding, rising quietly as his mead and Varis' song finish simultaneously.
"Thank you for your offer, DHarem, it has been a while since I walked Tithuana's streets and it would be a pleasure to do so with a companion. Besides, I expect you are eager to hear more of the past...and I of my future. Gah, this displacement is confusing to say the least."
"As for your song, Varis, it seems that my people have moved on from what they once were, even if you did dash my hopes of their extinction by the second verse. As you said 'a lover at heart and a figher at soul.' I'm not surprised it's taken the Ethronians eight thousand years to work out the world beyond the tip of their blades."
Posted on 2011-03-25 at 10:30:37.
Edited on 2011-03-25 at 10:35:34 by clockwork demise
“Very well,“ DHarem said and nodded to Karrain and set down his glass and rose from the table, “let us be off, we can look about the city for abit and then I need to stop at my Monastery and pick up some supplies.”
As Varis’s song stopped te Seeker gestured to him indicating that their new companion would be accompanying him. He picked up his sack and slipped the long thick drawstring/sash over his shoulder and neck and then picked up his staff. He carried it more out of habit than any need for it.
Once Karrain was ready then he lead the way out of the Tavern an onto the streets of Tithuana. He took the mage around the city on a long route to his Monastery which was his ultimate destination. He wondered what the mage would think of the changes that had happened in the time he had been away. He was sure there were many of them.
As they walked through one busy square which was filled with shops and people at this time of day; he suddenly turned and reached out and grabbed a wayward arm. He hauled a young boy of no more than 10 out before them; the boy struggled and complained.
“HEY!” the boy tried to pull away but was unable to get away from the Seekers powerful grip.
“You should no attempt to pick the pocket of a Seeker,” he said and reached with his other hand and withdrew a pouch from the boy’s hand. He let go of the boy once he retrieved his pouch and then opening it he withdrew a electrum piece and tossed it to the boy who deftly plucked it from the air.
“Now get and pay attention into which pockets you reach,” he said with a smile as the boy grinned and then darted off through the crowd.
DHarem turned to Karrain and shrugged, “Guess some things never change eh?”
He continued his tour of Tithuana and they would stop wherever the mage required or requested. Eventually they arrived at the Monastery where the Seeker introduced his companion to the acolytes and gave a brief explanation of his history. He left the mage there while he went to draw his supplies; Karrain was surrounded by many other Seekers and acolytes who bombarded him with questions.
After awhile, nearing the second strike, he returned and rescued the mage from the inquisition and led him away towards the square where they were to met the others for their assignment.
“I hope they didn’t pester you too much,” he said to Karrain after they left the Monastery, “it isn’t every day you encounter someone from several thousand years ago.”
“I hope they didn’t pester you too much,” he said to Karrain after they left the Monastery, “it isn’t every day you encounter someone from several thousand years ago.”
The Sacrelarch shruggs, following DHarem as they leave the monastry. "Any conversation is welcome after eight thousand years of silence, besides, your order seems to have evolved drastically from the old monastic cults of my time...I recall that once, after a flurry of nerve strikes to 'ensure' that I could not cast, a Deckie Monastry-Father asked whether I would like enlightment or not...I recall the bonfire lasted for several days..."
"Now, if you don't mind I would ask you a question: Why do you seek this knowledge?"
Long since having left the tavern, Varis idly strolled through the streets. He recalled this area of the city, somewhat, but easily well enough to navigate. Tithuana was set out sensibly and easily-anyone who even vaguely knew the city structure would never get lost.
He still walked unarmored, deeming it impractical in the somewhat warmer time of day as it was. Nevertheless, he hoped the sword at his belt would discourage any trouble...not that Tithuana was known for any particular trouble, but there are always idiots about.
Such as the "triple R".
Varis cricked his neck, adjusting his belt pouch carrying his electrum-(Not too heavy, thanks to his advance payments to the team)-to his front, making sure it harder for any pickpockets to try anything. On another section of his belt, the small drawstring bag holding that strange pebble was clasped.
Months upon months travelling to and from taverns gave one a wariness for pickpockets...not that he is often unfortunate enough to be a victim of one.
The streets weren't crowded, but activity was everywhere as Varis headed towards his bank. It was a decent walk: the city of Tithuana was huge, and he was in a whole seperate section to where he wanted to go. As he walked, however, he took in the sights of the city around him, memorizing more of the city where he grew up.
Varis frowned, trying to get a mental image of a map of the city in his mind. He had hoped to stop by a mage to test that pebble, but he probably didn't have the time considering the length of this wal-
Varis stopped suddenly, openly facepalming in the middle of the street.
[Lords curse it. We HAVE a mage, a powerful one. He was right next to me...] Varis thought, sighing at his stupidity. [Still, if Karrain gets back to the Square early as well as myself, there may still be time.]
Varis finally shrugged off his minor regret, continueing his trek to his bank. He might as well get some of his things out while he had the chance...
It was a regular building, nothing setting it apart from any others. This was why the Caese family had always used this particular bank, because it was invisible to most.
No sign showed it as a bank. Reputation and word of mouth alone drew new, rich customers.
But the interior was naturally well kitted out. The entrance hall was a regular atrium, with a fountain in the centre and several desks scattered around with small queues.
Varis recognised a doorway directly ahead, which led to the main vaults, and remembered the secret door just beyond that which led to the deeper vaults.
It didn't take long waiting for him to get to the front of a queue, and was led down to his vault box, down a corridor and several rooms along, was a small cubic room with many vault drawers around. The clerk turned his key in the first slot on the front, and invited Varis to do the same in the second.
Pulled from a pocket concealed by the sheath of his sword, Varis brought and used his key as well. Pulling the large, heavy drawer open, Varis looked inside.
He couldn't stop a sigh, causing the clerk beside him to look inquisitively. Varis shooed him away, motinioning for him to stand aside in the room as Varis looks through his equipment...regardless of the security, Varis was certain he was entitled to that privacy.
Mementoes of things gone. A miniature potrait of his mother, another of his mother. A great scroll of parchment-a copy of the proud Caese family tree. A formal letter of thanks my Councillor An'Jantar Ulrick-something Varis considered too important to throw away.
Shifting through his more personal items, he also, however, found what he was looking for, in the impeccably set out drawer, with it's own compartments removable and shiftable. Alternate clothing, from formal to comfortable. A badge shaped from electrum which would get him into any meeting of merchants without a problem...
He brought out a small scroll with a rough, yet accurate, map of the city of Tithuana, with dozens of Taverns marked at various locations, many with quick slashes through them to mark them as Varis having performed at at some point or another. Varis smirked, drawing a nail delicately across what he knew to be the location of the Giant Dwarf, closing his eyes as he focused, making that...inner, metaphysical *push* as he shaped his thoughts into his fingernail, opening his eyes to see, with satisfaction, a thin line of blackened, singed parchment across where he had scratched, saving him from getting his ink out.
Re-rolling the scroll, he removed it from the box...might be useful for the new addition to the group, Karrain. Varis is unlikely to NEED it, and can always ask for it back, quite besides.
Stowing the scroll in the pack on his back, Varis continued to look through, bringing out other tools and implements to place in his pack.
Four healing potions...powerful, and expensive creations. Partly based on compounds from plants suspecting to hold strong magic, and lethally toxic to ingest unless treated and prepared properly before, the primary difference between a simple remedy for helping clean infection, illness and treating wounds in comparison to a true healing potion is magic. Mages, a rare few with adequate power from Beyond or the even rarer few with appropriate Without magics infuse power into liquid form, allowing for such devastating combination of herbalism and magic to allow flesh to re-knit, pain to dull and skin to regrow in seconds after being swallowed.
Varis grimaced. The cost of all four potions in normal circumstances in Tithuana would go into the hundreds of electrum...still, the rare few that can make things such as these potions are also the few that stop such a huge, enclosed city from falling immediately to disease, blight and infection, thanks to healing magics. Besides, he'd rather everyone in the group had one of these on them.
Moving on, Varis brought out a rather large box. Adjusting a few things, he could only barely fill the rest of the room in his pack with the portable chest. Still, inside was plenty of more...mundane medical supplies. Healing potions have great power, but once someone is on the brink of death and have lost too much blood, there's not enough of the body for magical potions to work properly. So...bandages. Bandages, disinfectant mixtures, painkilling herbs. Also remedies for headaches, stomach sicknesses and vials of liquids that supposedly grant resistances to certain diseases...even poisons, at least as long as they're in your system. All were contained in the all-use medical kit.
Next, were two fire-oil vials...or as Varis most commonly hears them referred to in taverns as, "MageMead", joking that powerful mages would drink these highly-explosive, magically prepared vials of liquid to intoxicate themselves in some manner. Not that that was ever true, but the name stuck in Varis' mind. If one were to be hurled with some force into something, a small explosion followed by suspiciously long-lasting, and *very* hot flames will erupt, spewing devastation as a liquid form over a group of enemies, or to cut off a street.
They weren't cheap either. 50 Electrum each. Unlike the healing potions, which he was given from a job some time ago, he bought these himself, too. Still...they could come in handy. Varis strapped them, tightly and *very* carefully to his belt, wanting them in easy reach.
Finally, as Varis began to re-order and replace all of the compartments in his box, one bottle caught his eye, and he gently eased it out from its concealing cocoon of clothing... Green glass, filled with a water-like liquid. Varis read the label on the front as he frowned.
"Lord's Curse". A poison. He found it on a bandit he had once killed, and never had the courage to sell it...or knew where he trusted to sell it to. It was a...potent creation, a poison well known among many. Perhaps more valuable, in such a quantity-almost a litre was present in the large glass bottle-than all of his Magemead and Healing Potions combined...Any liquid vaguely magical are expensive in their rarity, unless you know a good supplier.
But "Lord's Curse" is a poison that comes in many levels of effectiveness. Tentative testing on plants have proved this one to be very potent. It is an all-use poison, if such a thing exists. In small quantities-a mere trickle from this potency-mixed in with, say, a drink, will induce dizziness and tiredness in someone. A small pour, perhaps half a mug of water and half of this flavourless, odourless substance, and the ingester will be knocked unconsious soon after, and stay that way for almost a full day. A full mug of this, and a paralysis of the limbs followed by death if left untreated is certain.
If mixed with more viscous materials, it can also be spread over weapons. As long as a blade, spike, spear, arrow or mace draws blood, a poison of this strength will still cause dizziness, magnified by the phsyical exertion of the victim, such as if he was fighting. The effects worsen as long as blood keeps flowing and the victim keeps moving, and the more poison is introduced.
Varis almost balked at the substance. He knew the glass was of excellent quality and at no risk of breaking in his pack or anything but...he failed to see how a poison like this could be useful. It is a hateful, underhanded weapon.
And yet...he promised himself that nothing will happen in the upcoming duel of knowledge that he wouldn't be able to handle. He told Ulrick he'd be able to take care of anything. Anything.
Sighing, Varis places the bottle in his bag, filling up the rest of the space from the medical kit, his various other implements and bottles. It'll be a heavy burden as he walked.
Varis closed the drawer, locking it and motioning the clerk back over, pushing 10 electurm into his hand as a valid tip and leaving the clerk to fully re-lock his box before striding out of the bank, beginning the long trek back to the square, a heavy bag on his back and eyes ever watchful for people who came too near and looked a bit *too* interested into the various instruments (one a quite literal "instrument") affixed to his belt and back...
As the group arrived at the square, a large plaza surrounded by simple, Tithuanan houses, Bon came up to meet them and gave a nod, before beginning to talk, far more than they had ever heard him talk.
"The stage ahead is where the Duel is to take place, the foreigner to the left and the Magic councillor to the right. The other councillors - City, Commerce and our friend the Library Councillor - are to be on that bigger platform behind it, well guarded, except the War councillor who decided not to come. The guards in the area find that dubious, but hey."
It was evident that choosing Bon to scout the plaza was a good plan.
The said square was now beginning to be filled by spectators, a trickle at first, and now a tavern-full.
"The crowd is going to fill the square, so best to stay near the back or the sides where we can actually move if we need to. Positions of ease for an attacker are a low-roofed house behind the councillor's side of the stage which seems quite easy to climb for you and I, DHarem, and a good marksman can easily take that house behind us now, but they'd have to be good."
A short break.
"And as you were saying, Varis, we should be cautious in every way: if I was skilled enough and wanted to do something, I'd use the belltower over there."
He pointed to the tower to the left side of the the plaza.
And at that moment Thomas turned up, his blue cloak spattered with black drops, and his hair a bit shorter.
"Hi! I'm back, and ready!" he said, holding up five bottles of Magemead.
Posted on 2011-04-01 at 07:47:21.
Edited on 2011-09-04 at 14:41:52 by Darren
Karrain strokes his beard, glancing around the plaza.
"Well, we seem to have all of the elements we need to spend a good night out in Old Ethros City, a possible crossfire from spiners, high explosives and," the Sacrelarch turns to the stage, "politicians galore."
"However, there would be more than simply a sniper to this if this foreigner and the Revolution are working together...I can't think of many easier ways of incriminating yourself than challenging a civic leader to some kind of contest then standing by as an arrow replaces his larynx." Karrain trails off staring around again before closing his eyes and muttering under his breath, even as his inner eyes open, conducting a quick scan of the courtyard.
DHarem nodded to his companions as they joined him noting that they seemed ready for anything. He listened intently as Bon laid out the settings of the plaza and the best positions for attackers and where they might station themselves.
“Good job, Bon,” he said in agreement, “I agree that at least one of us should be on that low roofed building behind the stage. I will take that if there are no objections?”
He looked at Varis and if there were no objections from him, he would nod and making sure all his things were secure he started towards that building but he was brought up short by the arrival of Thomas with five bottles in his hands. Looking at them more closely he recognizes them and glances at Varis with a raised eyebrow.
“You might want to handle this Varis,” he said to the leader as he moved on off to his vantage point.
Moving through the gathering crowd he scanned them looking for anyone that seemed nervous or out of place. He reached the corner of the low building behind the Councillor’s side of the stage. He moved to the spot where this building joined another one and that one stuck out a couple of feet creating a wedge shaped corner. Tucking his staff on his back beneath his sack hanging there; he took one last glance around as he moved up to the corner and without even halting he rushed at the corner.
He leaped up putting first one foot on the wall of the one building and then the other foot on the other wall a little higher (ala Jackie Chan) and in few short seconds he had bounded up the building and stood on the roof overlooking the stage.
He didn’t stand right on the edge where he would be obvious there but a little bit back but where he could see the crowd below and the roof top on which he stood. Here he had a great vantage point and if need be he could leap off the roof and onto the stage even if the need arose. He hoped that this was all just a precaution but he also wondered about this RRR group. They sounded up to no good and he knew that with their luck they would be dealing with them at some time in the future.
Varis was in the middle of buckling his leather armour over his clothing when Thomas arrived. He didn't talk, he was more than confident in DHarem's abilities for preparing for ambushes. Lords knew Varis didn't know much about vantage points and what range or threat various ranged weaponry could do.
"Hi! I'm back, and ready!"
Varis looking at Thom, frowned in worry, unsure as to the wisdom of Thom carrying 5 vials of the stuff...Or indeed where he got them. They're not cheap, and those black spots aren't comforting...
But, still, they may be VERY useful...
"Thomas, I'm not going to ask right now. Give a couple of those vials to Bon, I'll reimburse you if you bought them. Give two to Karrain, too. I've got my own." Varis pointed to the magemead at his belt, "Don't keep anymore than one for yourself, you're the one running in and smashing faces, remember?"
Varis inwardly sighed his relief at what was, more or less, excuses to keep few of them with Thomas. Finishing buckling on his armour, focused on that task for a second, Varis' final preparation was to give Karrain two Healing potions.
"Here. You can't have had any for yourself, so take these. You don't have to use them sparingly, theres no charge, I'd just prefer that we don't find a corpse instead of an ally after this." Varis said, geniune worry in his tone, before tossing another potion straight over the wall where DHarem was. Varis kenw from experience that DHarem would be able to catch *anything*.
Varis knew that Bon and Thomas *should* already have potions of the like.
Finally, Varis took out the last healing potion, buckling it to his belt, before leaving the rest of his pack at the building wall from which DHarem now stood atop of. There wasn't anything inside that could be used in the middle of a fight, in truth, after all, and it would slow him down considerably.
Finally, Varis moved to the opposite side of the square that where Thomas was, making sure his pack was within clear site, even through or around the rapidly swelling crowd. His armour now on, Varis finally breathed out in relief. He trusted DHarem and Bon to see any danger long before it arrived.
Whatever's coming...did not count on this group of mercenaries. Varis was sure. Varis hummed under his breath, keeping his mind active as he looked between his pack, the rooftops around the courtyard, and the ground level of the square itself.
(Edited so magemead wasn't given to DHarem)
Posted on 2011-04-02 at 01:28:18.
Edited on 2011-04-03 at 01:50:44 by Celtia
The crowd slowly arrived, and the councillors took their seats one by one.
Suspense. After a while, enough to get the spectators tense, the Magic Councillor took to the stage, dressed in a fine white robe. Opposite him stood the now-famous - or infamous - foreigner, dressed in a dark, muddy-green tunic with a brown cloak, which he lowered to the floor before sitting down at the table, opposite the councillor.
A man in red livery took to the stage, placing himself between the two duellists, behind him a large parchment stuck to the wall. He drew a statistical table on it in brown ink, one side under "F" and the other "S", the side with the "F" being the Foreigner's.
A bow, and it began.
The councillor nodded at the Foreigner, and silence reigned.
"Small creatures that live in Burntrees, and are little known to the world, what are they?" the Foreigner began.
"Defenders. In what way do they resemble us?"
"They make Botree mead like we do."
"Really? Wow. What other way?"
"One point to the Foreigner!" the man dressed in red proclaimed, drawing a single line in the F box.
The group realised that they were glad they weren't taking part. Defenders? Never heard of them.
A young, dirty-skinned miner nodded at Karrain, "Fifty Elly on the Councillor. I feel he's drawing the Foreigner into a gambit here. You up for it?"
"They can use magic, similar to that used by sorcerors, but to a far greater degree."
"Read the paper 'On Defenders' by Taren Fallovir."
"Another point to the Foreigner!"
The Councillor began again, "In what other way do they resemble us?"
"Heavily structured society with political system, but perfectly egalitarian. What is a 'Great Runner'?"
"The animal questions are getting boring, friend," replied the councillor, "They're a special and rare sort of male runner that combine the best aspects of males and females: they're bigger, have the female venom AND the male crest."
"Nicely said, councillor, I couldn't have described it any better. I concede a point."
"A point to the Councillor!"
An aged man nudged Varis, "I hate that councillor. He automated the belltower and took away my job, and I hope he gets what's coming to him."
"Thank you. Who was 'Carein Unzuel'?"
"I read a paper about him once. Fascinating individual, an innovator of magery in ancient Ethrona, wielding the power of the Anathemum alphabet. No-one knows what happened to him, as all official Ethronan records were purged of his name. Name the causes of rain."
"Rain is caused by residual magical energy causing water to turn to tiny droplets, rise into the air and reform to liquid in the sky, eventually dropping back down to Anchor. What-"
"WHat ELSE causes rain?"
"... I have no idea."
A young, dirty-skinned miner nodded at Karrain, "Twenty Elly on the Councillor!"
Posted on 2011-04-03 at 08:29:14.
Edited on 2011-04-03 at 08:33:45 by Darren
How many points do you loose for incorrect spelling?
Karrain frowns at the stage, his purple eyes narrowing as he sees the man's lips move: 'Carein Unzuel'.
"Well...so Sy'karios was the missing link after all...which means." He turns to the miner, casting a steely gaze his way and whispering. "Talk to the man in leather if you wish to place a bet..." The Sacrelarch trails off... averting his gaze as realisation dawns. "Anathemum...they know Anathemum..."