Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Alberich » August 3rd, 2012, 11:54 pm

Rose was up front, and whatever he may've thought of her, he handed the sheaf over right away. It included not only papers, but account books. Soon enough the documents were divvied up between Rose, Therese, and Argus. Everyone got comfortable. Tim napped. Udo rested, close to Tamina. Brad and Lillith stayed in their own little world. Anfisa stayed in her own little tent. Drusia and Desiree [OOC: did whatever Drusia says they do.]

Rose's share was the top set of documents, the most recent. It was topped with the letter written yesterday from Kiril Vanyevich Gibazov (the clan sub-chief, as Rose knew by now; one of the ones Eli had eavesdropped on two nights ago). The letter was to Nikolai Borisovich Gibazov, whoever that was, and demanded most urgently that Nikolai send "all funds available" to Goriel City, by fast wagon with heavy guards. She urgently searched the other recent documents for any word on Blaise - but there was no mention of his name nor anything like it.

Therese was interested to see that many of the letters and accounts in her share included names that weren't Gorielian at all - in fact, some were from her own country. The receivers didn't keep copies of their own side of the correspondence. That made some of it quite cryptic. But the subject always seemed to be money and gemstones. And a great many of the letters were dunning notes. Flowery, obsequious dunning notes, but dunning notes nonetheless. When she and Rose were confused about some of the terms, they called Brad over for a moment.

Brad's knowledge of mining was not very helpful, as it turned out, but he was able to help with the financial side. He was puzzled at first by the debt transactions - Church accounts never dealt with that, and Veracian usury laws were, quite obviously, unknown in this place. "That's interest?" he asked - "Highway robbery, more like!" Udo ignored the opportunity to give a firsthand account of his own experience in that line.

Argus had some of the account books and spent time going over them. Brad eagerly leaped in to help. A couple of hours after they'd started studying and talking to each other about what they were finding, Argus' brow was still furrowed. He asked Therese about some of the foreign letters she was reading, and Brad tried to match them up with the dates of the transactions they were studying. Midday was approaching as realization was dawning. It was Brad who finally got it.

If you went by these documents - and there seemed no reason not to - the Gibazovs' fantastic ruby mine, the source of their supposed wealth and "third clan status," was quite simply a fraud. They weren't digging any rubies out of it at all, or if they did, they weren't accounting for it here. Instead they were simply buying rubies and garnets from foreign merchants, often borrowing heavily to finance the transactions, and either reselling or displaying them as they saw fit.

These didn't include the main accounts of House Gibazov itself. The debts did not appear overwhelming relative to the income from resales -- but neither would Brad or Argus rest easy if their own accounts looked like this. (In fact, Brad would expect a visit from the Inquisition if they found this in his books.) A fall in gem prices, a loss of prestige, and the Gibazov could find themsleves with a lot of principal to pay off on unpleasantly short terms.

Underneath it all Argus found another small set of raggedy papers - in Tsuirakuan, of all languages. Much of this seemed to consist of tiny little repetitive paragraphs, like this:

"In that Private (E-2) Udo Fujomori, Tsuirakuan Army National Guard, did, on or about 1 May 2002 A.U.C., at or near Fort Samiware, Tsuiraku, wrongfully eat of the insane root, that takes the reason prisoner, a schedule..."

Udo cried out and snatched at the paper. "Gimme that! That's mine!" - but there was a page still in Argus' hands...

"...an animal of the cow kind, such conduct being prejudicial to good order..."

"Hey!" - Udo grabbed that one too.
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Drannin » August 4th, 2012, 9:39 am

"Sounds like you had a colorful military career," Argus quipped with a straight face.
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Drusia » August 4th, 2012, 11:05 am

Anfisa stayed in her own little tent. Drusia and Desiree [OOC: did whatever Drusia says they do.]

Since everyone is occupied with these papers, I head back to see Anfisa. I sit down with her and give her a kiss on the forehead.

"How are you feeling?" I ask her. I'm kind of bored, and all these waves of romance wafting off of Brad and Lillith... well, I give Anfisa a rather suggestive snuggle.

-- Desiree

Edit OCC: Oh, and Drusia is going to eat and then sleep more. By the time the paper reading is over, she should be back to her normal self.
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Graybeard » August 4th, 2012, 12:32 pm

Sister Rose shot Argus a quick, stern look. She was starting to wish this "Udo" character hadn't stuck with the party; wasn't one fellow traveler with dubious morals and ethics enough? (Admittedly, the other one was now buried under a pile of rubble, but still.) Some things shouldn't be joked about. Well, there were bigger fish to fry, she decided, and went back to the papers.

The Gibazov mine was a front, obviously; that much was clear. But for what? She had a feeling that once that was known, its relevance to Father Blaise would be more obvious, as would the matter of how to tackle finding and taking him. Para-military operation, stuck back in the hills under the cover of a mine so nobody would notice? That seemed reasonable. (Something in the back of her mind tried to point out the resemblances to what the Millenarians were doing at Provatiel. That would need dealing with, too ... but first things first.)

[OOC: I'm at a bit of a loss how to proceed here. This whole thing seems to be diverging from the search for Blaise, which is really Rose's, and suddenly Therese's, sole reason for being here. A, we need to talk.]
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Alberich » August 4th, 2012, 1:00 pm

"How are you feeling?"

Anfisa kissed back and held Desiree closely. She wanted to feel safe with her lover, and the closer she was held, the better for that. With all the things that had been troubling her, it took a while for even Desiree's suggestive snuggling to lead to further intimacies.

* * *

"Sounds like you had a colorful military career," Argus quipped with a straight face.

Udo's next words were somewhat hard to hear. They sounded like "mutter, mutter, classified, mutter, mutter..." Brad saved the day by giving him something else to talk about - "So did you see anything of the mine itself?"

"Yeah, we did!" said Udo brightly. "And they don't have anything down there 'cept monsters. And I don't mean tame pet monsters that do what they say. I mean nasty things that don't do anything 'cept eat people who go down there. Or fart at you 'til you pass out and the other monsters can eat you. We fought our way through 'em, from one end to the other" - he clapped Tamina on the shoulder - "and they weren't digging up shit! And they sure weren't keeping any people down there."

"How about around the mine - did you get a good look at that?"

"Yeah," said Udo. "Everything of any consequence, all the sheds, all the fortified places - and there's nothing but a bunch of guards to keep people getting into the mine. They did have a big box of money there, but near as we can tell, they hauled it all south on a wagon before we got out of there." And if we'd gotten out of that mine a couple hours faster, it would be remarked as the "Udo Fujomori Retirement Fund," or at least the "Jamie Porter/Udo Fujomori World-Beating Bacchanal Fund."

He went on. "The guards have some rifles - really crude one-shot things, even Farrel would shoot these guys to pieces" -- that lined up with some of the purchases the others had read about -- "and one artillery piece. But it was all set up for defense. 's like they just didn't want anyone showing up to see what a fraud it all was."

* * *

Tim, by this point, had awoken from dreamless sleep and was on lookout while listening to the conversation. Drusia was also up and up to speed on what had gone on.
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Jack Rothwell » August 4th, 2012, 1:54 pm

"The guards have some rifles - really crude one-shot things, even Farrel would shoot these guys to pieces and one artillery piece. But it was all set up for defense. 's like they just didn't want anyone showing up to see what a fraud it all was."

"Monsters were weird magic. Not Ralkin, know their work." Tamina added, in a quiet voice. "Was a shooty thing with lots a' heads and a 'eat-eat-eat' blob thing. Got covered in sticky stuff clawing through it."

The kobold stood up and began meandering around the camp, looking lost, absently scratching a drooping ear.
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Alberich » August 4th, 2012, 2:04 pm

Meantime, far to the north, Harker at last saw something of interest. The Duravsky mission had encountered one of the Gibazov patrols. Iosif Vitalyevich was the highest-status man around, recognized by several, and there was a lot of wordy greeting and how-are-your-kidsing between this thitovich and that thatovich. While both parties seemed to have serious concerns, apparently they just couldn't do any kind of business without the preliminaries. Finally, Iosif spoke for the Duravsky -- as the Prime Clan, their wishes would naturally come first -

"My friends," he said, "In your travels along these roads, in pursuit of your most worthy goals - may they meet with success at once! - have you seen anything of foreign travellers? We are most interested in finding some late guests of Clan Yurkashev" -- and here he gave a farly decent description of Argus and some of his companions.

"And especially, there are some foreign women, who may be travelling with them or may not - and they are distinguished by their ears. And such ears! It is a bloodline not known in our country, and makes them exotic. And any Gorielians, even Gorielian women, who happen to be travelling with these foreigners - these are the ones we desire to see again, and have some speech with."

The head of the Gibazov patrol nodded. "Alas, my lord, we have seen nothing of these foreigners - we ourselves are pursuing foreign fugitives, who travel with a strange monster, but they sound nothing like these; when did the ones you seek leave the city?" Upon learning that it was yesterday afternoon, the Gibazov confirmed it could not be the same - "Though who knows what strange plots are hatched in foreign lands and brought to our country? Still, if we find those you seek, we will hasten to bring them, alive or dead."

"Well and boldly spoken, my friend! But understand this also - our noble Chamberlain Grigoriy, tells me these particular foreigners, and even their women, have some significance to foreign powers. Now if they should happen to die, and the foreign cowards invade, of course we will all stand shoulder to shoulder and drive them back! What foreigners can stand against us if we are true to ourselves, and fight with that courage for which your House is so justly famed? And yet our servants would be saved the trouble of cleaning their blood from our streets if they could be brought alive instead.

"Of course, any Gorielians who are travelling with them, and who create undue trouble for the good men of your house - male or female, these may die without consequence, yet we would like to see their faces if you find them. And you will let the good men of your house know of this?" Yes, of course he would.

The Gibazovs, in turn, gave the same message about the fugitives and their multi-clawed monster, and their theft of papers that, trifling though they might be, were the private business of Clan Gibazov, and of no interest to anyone else; and the extreme gratitude their noble chief would show to any who could dispatch these villains and return the clan's property. Finally, the talk broke off and the groups separated. The Duravsky went to a nearby village, doubtless to continue their inquiries, and the Gibazovs rode south for a similar purpose. What Harker did was up to Harker.

[OOC: Not so much "diverged" as what's looking like a blind alley, a false lead. Suggestion: talk it out in play. There's a significant decision to make about what to do with these documents regardless.]
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Graybeard » August 4th, 2012, 10:49 pm

[OOC: Maybe, but a point is being missed regarding the game itself. We should talk. But for the moment:]

Therese looked over toward the tent that now contained Desiree and Anfisa, with a certain degree of -- well, "longing" wouldn't be too strong a word. Or maybe even "envy." But she was very definitely not in the business of interfering with other people's relationships.

Maybe doing some useful work would be an antidote to what she was feeling. She found Sister Rose, who seemed lost in her own thoughts. "I got more sleep than most of us," she said, "and I think I'm more rested than you are. I'd like to try a little reconnaissance."

Rose was dubious. "Alone? that's risky out here."

The woman from the Sisterhood nodded calmly. "To some extent. I want to point out, however, that I know this countryside better than any of you. That is obvious from the way we move here." (Rose had to admit, she had a point there.) "I can move more safely alone. Besides, neither of the clans know me. All of you are known to at least one of them. If I am detected at a distance, there will be less risk if I am alone. I'm just going to climb up to a high point on the ridge line, where I can see more of the surrounding countryside. I shouldn't even be out of sight of the camp, except intermittently on the hike up."

Rose didn't like it, but again, had to concede the point. "Very well. I'll keep an eye on you." She found a comfortable place to watch as the tall woman started up the side of the ridge. It didn't take long for her to realize that Therese was right: she could move in this terrain far more quickly, and more unobtrusively, than any of the other travelers. Rose put on her enhanced vision to keep track of the tall woman as she receded into the distance ...

... But suddenly she made an about-face, and headed back for the campsite at a near-run, almost dancing down the side of the ridge. [OOC: If you've ever seen anyone who's good at "screeing" a steep slope, it's amazing how rapidly they can lose altitude. /OOC:] Uh, oh, thought Rose. She's spotted something, and it isn't good. She dismissed the vision spell and started rallying magical energy, just in case.

It wasn't needed, though, at least not immediately. Five minutes later, Therese arrived at the camp.

"There's a body up there," she announced.
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Alberich » August 5th, 2012, 7:53 am

"What kind of body?" asked Tim. "How was he dressed? Any sign of how he was killed?" - his concern was the recurrent "dead without a mark," and whether this was a well-off spy, a ragged outlaw, or just a goatherd.
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Re: Goriel and Beyond, Part 5

Postby Graybeard » August 5th, 2012, 10:38 am

"Middle-aged to elderly man," Therese answered. "Not dressed for the mountains. The body was in a small shelter cave. It looked fresh. I didn't inspect it, but there were no --"

"No signs of violence, he just stopped," Sister Rose finished the sentence, getting a raised eyebrow from Therese. Her own mouth set in a hard line. "We may be in the right place after all."

"Or not," Therese demurred. "Many of the clans of Goriel send their elderly and infirm into these mountains to die." She sniffed disapprovingly. "Barbaric custom, but what would one expect of such a people? We have -- taken advantage of this in our rescues from time to time." The expression on her face didn't suggest that this was a topic she particularly wanted to pursue.

Rose nodded. "Understood. Still, we should check it out." She turned to Tim. "We should climb up and give him the Rite of Repose, don't you think?"
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