Goriel and beyond, part 4

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Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Alberich » July 4th, 2012, 10:48 am

Before dawn at the Duravsky compound, Irina came back late - as she always did; her lord of the evening, Chamberlain Grigoriy, liked to spend the night in her arms, and rumor had it she might be changing status in time to his permanent mistress. (A childless widower, he would doubtless treat her as a de facto wife or even better - but marriage with a getera was out of the question. Certainly for a man of his status, it was.) Dina and Tatiana called out a hearty "Good morning, Irina" - the signal for Desiree to scramble out of Anfisa's arms, slip something on, and get out of there.

When she enjoyed them, Dina was enthusiastically discussing her activities of the evening. She hadn't been assigned to a "lord," which normally meant a night of rest, but she had decided to to looking for one or two of her own among the unassigned better-placed young men of the clan. Among the geteroi, she did not hide her intent - she was hoping to provoke a gift. Not the sudden, unexpected, last-night gift of Iosif to Valentina (that had been quite unheard-of), but the kind where a well-pleased man sent money through Grigoriy, with instructions for her to buy herself something lovely.

It seemed word had gotten back of a fabulous erotic artist, and one with whom Clan Duravsky would now be "doing business." Dina had an ambition to be the model for a series of pictures, perhaps a sort of "guide" -- everyone knew she was thinking of her antique Tsuirakuan pillow-book -- and hoped she could carry out the plan soon.

* * *

Meantime, in another part of the compound, a dirty old man named Iokim - one of the more magically adept in the clan, and the one who led invocations to the clan gods at mealtimes - was retiring with his old telescope under his arm. He looked pleased at the state of things. "Saturn and Venus are in conjunction in the House of the Mage. With Saturn ascending." He laughed to himself. "That means...an old man may be finding love."

* * *

At House Yurkashev, Valentina had risen quietly at the end of the night and left her "lord" as he was. He seemed to want sleep more than anything else. She at least prevented his commanding officer from walking in on one of her subordinates, on the floor beside a receptacle smelling of vomit, with a prostitute (albeit a very high-class one) lying on the bed. Because no scene like that had ever been seen in the annals of military history. No, really, it never happened.

* * *

Meantime, messengers were starting to return to the compound - to an angry chief who'd been up all night awaiting news and prisoners, and a sub-chief who'd slept only little, and torturers and healers who'd been waiting to vie with Drusia in the brutal effectiveness of their questioning techniques. (They'd've had an advantage over her; they already knew the answer they wanted to hear, and they knew how to get it, too.) There was a great deal of bustle in the compound, and women's outcry in a few of the quarters. The other sleepers, the ones not as fully blitzed as Tim, were doubtless roused.

* * *

It was later in the morning - closer to noon in fact - and far to the north that Jamie, Udo, and Tamina had learned of their options (and the state of this mine, or "mine") by their cackling, malodorous informant, and had to decide how to go.
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Jack Rothwell » July 4th, 2012, 11:27 am

"Waaal. They got some grates up thataway, back where you come from, but there's some big four-head thingy blocks the way up there. Best way's through the Lower Cave, you just have to get past that durn blob-thing with all the mouths and ears on it. It's asleep most of the time. Best way's to sneak around it without making a sound. Not a sound, d'ye hear? Just a peep and its up and bitin' your butt! Speakin' o' butt, got another one comin' on!"

Progress towards the lower chamber of the mine that the most-definitely-not-a-kobold had directed them to had been slow, careful work. Coincidentally, two things the most-definitely-a-kobold was not good at. The humanoid walked alongside her human companions with a sulk, unhappy at being underground, unhappy at being damp and unhappy at having to go slower than normal because her human friends didn't have the benefit of being able to see in the dark.

"S' silly!" She exclaimed, appropo of nothing. "The killikah..." Her face twisted as she tried to translate the word. Her language skills were improving at least; thanks to the total immersion she'd had in the foreign culture over the last few weeks her lessons from her tribe elder were in constant practice and, of course, kobolds were short lived, if they didn't pick something up quickly they often didn't pick it up at all. The train of thought (such as it was) reminded the kobold that her birthday was coming soon, something she'd mention to her girlfriend at the first available opportunity.

"Mean... I mean the sis-ter-hood see good in the dark." She managed. "Yoo... hu-mans stagger 'round bumping into things. Why you... ahh... why are you so blind?"

Tamina turned to her companions as she addressed them with the question. In the low-light, her eyes had a dull reflective glow to them which would have made a squinting man think they were flying of their own accord.
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Drusia » July 4th, 2012, 12:01 pm

Desiree:

I give Anfisa a last kiss and then slip to another bed to finish my rest.

-- Desiree

***

Drusia:

I rise with the morning, well enough rested. I clean in the zenana and put most of my combat gear in my pack. I dress in a fine dress sutable for a high ranking getera. If I am to go about in Goriel, I shall go about as myself.

I walk out the door proudly and make my way back to the guest rooms. I need to speak yet with Rose. And Tim.

-- Drusia
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Alberich » July 4th, 2012, 12:23 pm

Udo found the glow of Tamina's eyes mesmerizing. "We're not blind!" he said. "We can see...what we need to see." The witty repartee just wasn't coming today.

After pausing to munch on their rations, the intrepid adventurers made their way down to the lowest depths of the unused mine, as careful as they could not to fall, collapse anything, or think about the weight of rock suspended above their heads...

As they came towards the lowest chamber, they saw a light sort of tan glow coming out. Udo extinguished his light, seeing no need to alert whatever was there. Down they came to an old, half-collapsed arch.

The lowest chamber itself was not so high - barely taller than Udo's head - and was hollowed out maybe forty feet in diameter. Another small arch on the other side led to the other half of the mine - where a "main shaft" and some other exits could easily be found. Blocking the way was a huge glowing tan blob-monster.

The glow was not so bright, perhaps, but enough for the humans to see the room by. The monster itself was like an ugly glowy tan pool filling the middle of the room, but piled up a couple feet high. Its surface was covered with little human-like organs...eyes, all closed in sleep, noses, all whistling in the same, mouths, all closed, ears, and even little fingers, doing nothing save twitching a little. Around its edges was a small path, a yard at the widest, where an adventurer might creep 'round to the other side.

Tamina was the first, and the stealthiest. With a creep and a creep and a creep, she made it to the other side easily. Jamie had a certain level of grace, as she'd been showing lately, and she could be quiet if she had to ("subtle," not so much). But before she got far in, something in Udo's rations caught up with him, and he burped.

In an instant the monster was awake. Eyes and mouths sprang open - the mouths full of nasty little teeth - and in ugly, inhuman voices, chattering "EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT!!!!" Jamie was back on the near side with Udo in a flash. The monster tried to flow into the archway after her -- but it wasn't that flexible. She only had to flee a few feet to be out of its reach (and, if she felt so inclined, to whack Udo for tipping it off instead of waiting 'til he could get eaten himself).

That left Tamina on the far side, cut off, Jamie and Udo on the near side, and an awake and angry blob in the middle. It was flexible enough to flow around its own chamber, but it was possible for them see each other without much risk maybe fifty feet apart. So near and yet so far. Quite too far to jump even if the ceiling had been higher. What would they do?
Last edited by Alberich on July 4th, 2012, 9:45 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Graybeard » July 4th, 2012, 12:23 pm

Sister Rose was up with the sun, as usual.

Remarkably, she'd slept quite well. She and Argus had staggered off to bed, scarcely releasing the shared embrace, and had rapidly drifted off to sleep as they murmured comforting words to each other. She thanked Luminosita for such a man -- a pillar of strength in my own weakness -- but by morning's light, it was clear enough that he too had been under an enormous emotional strain, and needed her own ministrations as much as she needed his.

Well, that was the way a marriage was supposed to be. Wasn't it?

She left him snoring, to cast her usual Hygiene spell, and afterward, risked a quick glance outside the chambers -- to be met with a surprise. Kirassia, the faithful and kind getera, was standing there, fully dressed, looking ready to resume serving her lord and lady without missing a beat. Rose was impressed, and didn't mind showing it. "Good morning," she smiled. "I trust that you too slept well, despite our being unable to accommodate you?"

Kirassia smiled back. "Thank you, my lady. I did. However, I apologize for bringing news so early in the morning. We had a visitor in the zenana last night." Her tone of voice suggested that this was a decidedly unusual occurrence. "She said she was with you, and she asked, if your lord husband would be agreeable, that she have a few minutes of your time when you awakened. She figured you would be awake before he would."

Drusia, Rose realized, and the girl was right, of course; the elf had traveled with them long enough to know that Argus required more sleep than Rose did. She appreciated Drusia's delicacy in establishing bona fides, too. "As I am," she smiled back, "and I would like to speak to her. Can you take me to a place where the two of us could meet?" The in private qualifier wouldn't be necessary with one as sensitive -- and formidable -- as this.

Once again, however, she found herself a jump behind the elf; a door opened and closed before Kirassia could respond. Rose knew what that would be. "Good morning," she smiled as Drusia approached the outer room where she and Kirassia stood, the latter's face making it clear that the mysterious intruder had just appeared as expected. "Did you sleep well?" [OOC: Posts crossed, but this is consistent with both, so... A much-delayed edit here; it was Drusia, not Desiree, that Rose was talking to, obviously.]

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

[OOC:
Eli wrote:The half-elf made a mental note to return and erase the evidence before the group left.

As far as I could tell, he didn't actually do so, so the "evidence" is presumably still there, hence the following. /OOC:]

Out at the safe house, Therese was also up with the sun, but things were not going so smoothly.

As soon as she'd completed her evening prayers to the Five Great Mothers, she did something she rarely did away from Refuge-Nouveau: she found a bottle of cognac and poured herself a good, stiff drink. The tension of an unusually dangerous day had resisted banishment in prayer, unusually in Therese's experience, so perhaps dispelling it alcoholically might do the trick. And so it did; she was able to get to sleep with only a minor delay.

Something hadn't been quite right, though. She wasn't sure what, but something in the house had continued to gnaw at her subconscious as she drifted off, and to manifest itself in unusually troubled dreams, dreams of monstrous, half-seen, lizard-like things emerging from the house to devour women she'd rescued from the mysterious Clan Cleiviein's coterie, and then dissipating when confronted. More than once she'd awakened suddenly during the night, sitting bolt upright and ready to summon magic to dispel these monstrous invaders -- but there weren't any.

Yet.

The nagging discomfort remained in the morning. With morning prayers done, she put up every detection spell she knew and started to inspect the house. It wasn't long, therefore, before she discovered the -- anomalies of the toilet that Eli had placed there but never activated. Her forensic skills weren't great enough for her to be able to determine just what the things were for. (Of course that may have been for the best.) Dealing with them, however, came closer to being like the removal of the primitive glyphs and runes some of the more magically adept houses of Goriel had used to "protect" (read: enslave) their women. That, she could do. A trio of tightly woven spells later -- one to isolate, one to dispel, one to absorb the magical energy thus released -- the forms on the wall flared into nonexistence, leaving Therese to ponder three questions.

Who did this? Why? And above all, what do I do about it?

She decided to commune once more with the Five Great Mothers before heading out for the day.
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Drusia » July 4th, 2012, 12:59 pm

"Good morning," she smiled as Desiree approached the outer room where she and Kirassia stood, the latter's face making it clear that the mysterious intruder had just appeared as expected. "Did you sleep well?"

"Yes," I reply, "Well enough. And yourself? I trust Argus kept you warm?" I smile at her at that - it's about damn time those two started fucking. I'm actually a little sad I missed it.

-- Drusia

OOC: I have more, but I want Rose's reaction to that first. :p
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Jack Rothwell » July 4th, 2012, 1:48 pm

"EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT!!!!"

"AHH AHH AHH AHH AHH!!!!!" Tamina screamed and took to her heels as fast as she could manage. This was worse than the time she'd had her drink spiked in Port Lorrel and hallucinated about a swarm of wingless bee's marching patiently up her legs. The creature was even uglier than some of the things the Ralkin had sprung on her people on the Southern continent. The kobold was two dozen yards down the path to the main shaft when it dawned on her that no-one was chasing.

"AHHhhhhh.... oh."

Feeling more than a little embarrassed, Tamina turned around and began walking back to aid her stranded friends.
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Graybeard » July 4th, 2012, 2:54 pm

"Well enough. And yourself? I trust Argus kept you warm?"

Sister Rose didn't even blush any more at little jibes like this.

"Yes," she smiled. "Very comforting, to have someone to cuddle with after a day like yesterday. I think I could get used to this marriage business -- again." She decided leave it dangling, for the moment, as to whether the "marriage" was part of the masquerade for moving -- relatively -- comfortably in Goriel, or whether it had become more -- real. One reason was that she wasn't totally sure herself. Church doctrine, or at least Reformed Church doctrine, sidestepped the issue of whether marriages arranged outside Church jurisdiction were valid once the couple in question moved or returned to the embrace of the Church. The arrangements made to ensure that she and Argus were husband and wife on arrival in Goriel might well qualify, by Goriel's own rules, as a betrothal and wedding. Or they might not. Who could tell?

"So what's on your mind?" The marriage questions just weren't worth fretting about. Yet.

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

Therese didn't like the conclusion she was reaching.

The Sisterhood did not do regular, daily sweeps of the safe house for magical or other tampering. Maybe they should; on the basis of what she'd discovered, real threats existed (and she felt slightly sheepish over the condescension she'd felt earlier when the commanding nun and the young priest from "Clan Cleiviein" went out to check out the grounds). She'd have to say something about the next time she went back to Refuge-Nouveau, or when one of the other Sisters came calling.

However, her own discomfort during the night convinced her that this magic, whatever it was, hadn't been in place for very long. Maybe the Sisterhood's implied position, that its adepts were sensitive enough to pick up on inappropriate magic without regular inspections, was sound -- but if it was, that meant that the problem had come up some time in the last twenty-four hours. Who had been in the safe house during that time? Nobody but herself and the Cleiviein people, she was pretty sure.

From that thought, it was a quick intuitive leap to pin things down further. As far as she could remember, only one of the Cleiviein people had been into that bathroom: the strangely tense, armed half elf, she thought someone called him Eli. Yes, he'd been the only one. And he positively reeked of magic, her sensitivities could pick up on that. That answered the "when" and the "who" and, at least partially, the "how" ...

... But there remained "what" and, particularly, "why." A surveillance system, to keep track of the comings and goings of the Sisterhood? It seemed far-fetched. Why would one emplace such a thing in a toilet, of all places? Yet, at the same time, what else could the magic have been good for? Too many things simply didn't make sense here. The nun and the mage clearly had the same concerns about the Convergence that she did, and as many reasons to see them fail. So why undertake this frankly hostile act? Unless the Cleiviein party had a mole among their own membership ...

One thing sure: I'd better use a long spoon when I deal with these people, at least to start with, she thought, as she prepared to go out for the day.


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

Far away:

"I've got them," a familiar and most unpleasant voice exulted.
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Drusia » July 4th, 2012, 4:45 pm

"So what's on your mind?"

Good to know Rose is comfortable with her relationship. I wasn't sure she would be. Anyway, on to less pleasant matters.

"Eli," I reply. "Last night I asked for your help. You... offered to help with Desiree, which isn't exactly what I meant. I can't let the people who took Eli continue recruiting - or whatever they're doing."

"I need your help finding him," I add, just to be clear. "And, depending on how many there are, I may need your - all of your - help fighting them."

-- Drusia
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Re: Goriel and beyond, part 4

Postby Graybeard » July 4th, 2012, 7:37 pm

"I need your help finding him. And, depending on how many there are, I may need your - all of your - help fighting them."

Sister Rose winced. That summed it all up pretty neatly, didn't it?

"Of course," she answered. "We have a stake in this, after all. But at the same time, we're here on a mission of our own, and we have to do that too."

Dare she tell Drusia the rest? It would be necessary sooner or later, she thought. On the other hand, she'd gained the distinct impression from Desiree that mentioning Exitialis to anyone who followed the elven religions would be ... provocative. As in, might provoke a full-blown counterstrike with all the forces the elves could bring to bear.

Yet, would that be such a bad outcome? Looking back on it, Rose realized, she really had no interest in again confronting whatever -- thing it was that had been looking at her when Wilbur Hamael cast his death magic. If the elves decided to hit that with force majeure, wouldn't that be better than bringing her own meager resources to bear? But then again, the elves were scary enough with no power over death beyond what their magic and combat skills gave them. What would the Patriarch think if --

She became aware that Drusia was looking at her, her expression unreadable save for an obvious if muted bit of impatience. She decided that at least half the story had to be told. "Remember that guy we had to deal with back in your -- home town?" she said. "We're chasing another man that -- seems able to do the same things, only worse. And there seem to be more like him out there. If they all get together -- well, it could be a lot worse than Eli and his people, let's just say that. So we're supposed to keep that from happening, and I have to do that." She waited for Drusia's response.
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