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BigRedRod 18th of January, 2004 05:21

Chapter 4 - Hope
In-keeping with Master Rizeth's preference there is a knock at the door early next morning. The message from the serving boy is simple, the Master of the Villa would speak to you in his study. Rather than allow his guests to arrive in their own time, the serving boy awaits each of them to join them. Finally leading them, once assembled, through the now familiar corridors and to the firmly closed door to Master Rizeth's study.

After a short rap at the door, the boy dissapears and a tired voice speaks from the other side,

The Wizard Rizeth has lost the usual vitality which surrounds him like an aura, he vaguely waves to the chairs on the other side of his great desk and speaks in a quiet, weary voice,
"I apologise for not waiting until after breakfast to speak to you, but I could noyt go through standard pleasantries when I fear for the life of a dear friend. As you no doubt suspect, I want you to go back to Luca's property and find out what happened. I need something to work from."
Rizeth indicates a leather bag,
"That contains the funds I promised for news of my companion. You mentioned he had captives ... could you elaborate? I know he was fond of researching the particular strengths, weaknesses and attributes of all kinds of life, but from youe earlier words you made it sound like he was using sentient beings as part of his work."

[ooc: the bag has twenty platinum pieces inside, split as you like, although this time I don't think anyone mentioned any dealings]

Black Plauge 18th of January, 2004 07:46

"It is understandable that you do not wish to spend time on pleasantries when your friend's life may be in danger," Durn replies consolingly.

"As I said earlier, the former captives had locked themselves in a hidden room within Lucas's house. They spoke only goblin that we heard, and the one that we did see was definately a goblin, though it looked almost like it had been taken apart and put back together so covered was it in scars and stitching. It said that Lucas had experimented on it and others of its kind. We also heard mention of a 'two-headed god-orc'. A simple description, no doubt, but one that would match one of the beasts that invaded your mine," Durn replies to Rizeth's question.

"We were also told that many of Lucas' subjects did not long surive his experiments," Durn continues, apologetically, " However, we have only the word of a single goblin on this, and as sincere as he may have seemed, he may have been lying. Without the opportunity to inspect Lucas' lab, I cannot say for sure that what we were told is true."

BigRedRod 18th of January, 2004 23:13

Rizeth looks pained as Durn speaks of the captives,
"He swore to me that he did not experiment on anything displaying intelligence. I should have realised his ambition would be too great."

As he speaks the old man raises his voice from a whisper and builds in intensity
"Despite what Lucas has done wrong he is my friend and ally. I cannot let his disapearance go unquestioned, but nor can I turn a blind eye to his work. Return to Lucas' property, find a way into the lab. I need to find out what he was doing and what happened to him. If those hiding in his lab areunwilling to speak, or have fled, then you must turn your attention to the surrounding lands, ask if anyone noticed any dragoon activity."
After a pause he continues in a more level tone,
"I just need to know what happened and what he was doing. The two could be related, or they might not be. So, will you aid an old wizard search for a lost friend?"

Black Plauge 20th of January, 2004 03:15

"Master Rizeth, I think I speak for the others when I say that we are willing to help, but we will need some time to prepare if we are to get any further with our investiagtion this time," Durn replies, looking to the others for agreement.

"For one thing, I will need to add a few spells to my meager spellbook. None of us have any ability with locks and a few spells like knock would go a long way to our being able to get into Lucas' lab." Falling silent, Durn waits for the others to add their needs.

BigRedRod 20th of January, 2004 03:18

"If you agree, you'll have my library at your disposal once more. But, please don't spend any longer than you must in preparation, I would rather see some progress made."

The Alcotroll 20th of January, 2004 06:17

"Master Rizeth," says Dron in a consolatory manner, "We simply can-not enter into this investegation unprepared. Master Lucas' laboratory was secured by an extremely effecient magical barrier, which none of us has the skills or resources to bypass, nor have we much hope of tracking him down without more detailed information. You are his friend, maybe you recall something of his habits, anything that might give us a clue as to where we could find information, how we might gain entry to his laboratory, where he might flee to, or take shelter if threatened?"

He pauses, seemingly considering, "In the mean time, myself and Roth, free as we are of the demands of the magical craft, will busy ourselves questioning the locals. I recall rumours circulating in the village of 'strange monsters' which bore striking resemblence to the specimens we encountered in your mine and in your friend's house.
"Rest assured that we will spare no effort in our investigations."
And as an after-thought; "We can settle the matter of our expenses when this affair is concluded."

SuperJosh 20th of January, 2004 07:46

"I agree with my companions, I gladly take this assignment." Roth looks sheepish for a moment then continues. "I admit it does my heart good to hear that you talked with Lucas about his experiments and that you were under the impression that he did not experiment on thinking creatures. You have been nothing but kind, courtious and honest with us and it distressed me to think that you might have known what was going on. I did not want to bring this up last night when you were in obvious grief and I am glad you brought it up today. I will do my best to help you find out what happened to Lucas and to rescue him if we can."

BigRedRod 22nd of January, 2004 01:54

Rizeth looks with some confusion at the mechanist,
"It sounds rather more like abduction than Lucas has simply gone into hiding. If he were I am sure he would have sent me a message. No, focus what has happened to him. If he is in hiding I will locate him through my own channels."

Rizeth nods,
"I'm glad you understand... I'll... I'll let you prepare. Please hurry"

[ooc: just give me a post each about how you are spending the next ten days or so]

Black Plauge 22nd of January, 2004 04:51

After the group makes its way back out of Rizeth's study, Durn says to the others, "I will require a week to prepare the spells I need. Dron and Roth, in addition to searching for rumors in Lodez I might suggest riding to the village we stopped at the other night and checking there as well. In the mean time, I will be in the Library. Shall we make plans to head back to Lucas' in a tenday?"

[OOC: Once in the library Durn will copy the following spells (in this order) at the rate of 1/day: knock, detect secret doors, open/close, hold portal, arcane lock, locate object, identify, melf's acid arrow, animate rope and spider climb. The order might be important if Durn gets cut off before the tenday is up.]

The Alcotroll 22nd of January, 2004 07:28

Dron nods his agreement; "Sounds like a plan. Im certain that someone in this village or the next will have something useful to tell us once his tongue has been sufficiently lubricated by ale or gold.
"You'll join me Roth? Two of us working together will give us a better chance of finding something important..."

[OOC; Same deal as when Dust went intel' gathering I think, except of course that we'll be asking about Lucas and Dragoons specifically.]

SuperJosh 23rd of January, 2004 09:57

"Yea, I will help you." Roth says to Dron as they walk. "To long in here and I will probably go star crazy."

BigRedRod 24th of January, 2004 21:17

The pair of Wizards retreat once again to the expansive library which Rizeth had constructed during his life. The ancient tomes filled with lore and spells from across the world, sit on their shelves staring down at the two interlopers. The tenday is largely peaceful for the two as they sit pouring over the books refilling their own personal tomes with fresh incantations.

Accompanied by Cy, the warrior and the mechanist head into town and spend a week with not nearly so much peace. After tendays of buying drinks and pretending to be interested in the random stories of the tavern-folk, the pair are ten gold pieces less well off each but greeted by smiles and shouted greetings whenever they set foot in Lodez or one of it's handful of Taverns.

Tales of Lodez (the result of a tenday in bars with Roth and Dron

-Most of the town have been discussing the news of the Venterran Empire changing it's name. It is now "The Holy Venterran Empire" or simply "The Holy Empire", although the Empire itself has not devoted itself to the service of any single God. The official religion of the Empire is "The Great Wheel", a religion which emphasises the unity and oneness of the Gods, People and World. The state clerics have, reportedly, been very civil with the already established temples, seeking to incorporate them into a unifed whole without destroying their diversity. Exactly why this has happened no one seems quite sure, but it has weakened relations with the states allied to the Empire, as most are uncertain about these events

-The reports of "unusual" monster seem to have died off. No one seems to have much idea where they came from. But most would like to accuse the Holy Venterran Empire of releasing them as a method of weakening the free states enough to conquer them in a sudden sweep

-The areanas at Sinst have become very popular since the solstice. The dragoon battles brought record numbers to watch, and several wealthy merchants have approached the guilds in order to aquire their own dragoons for competiton

-All of the town are aware of Master Rizeth suffering some kind of loss, the townspeople seem genuinely concerned for him

-One tradesman you met in "The Cyclop's Smile" brought news of reported dragoon scout groups from the Allied States crossing the border quite often in recent days. No one has reported any hostile encounters but a delegation left Gran Arco shortly before the tradesmen headed for Sinst to petition for a small garrison equipped with Dragoons to be established.

-Many of the folk of Lodez have also heard of Gran aRco's delegation and are debating asking Master Rizeth to give his signiture and blessing to a group who wish to ask for a small number of light dragoons to aid in patrols

-Talk of all these potential new dragoon units is amking the townsfolk restless, most believe that war is not far away with the so-called "Holy Empire"

-Most of the town seem to have some idea that Lucas is a close friend of Master Rizeth. Although Lucas is not held with nearly the same level of respect by them.

-Lucas is "known" to a few individuals as belonging to the same select group of Wizards as Master Rizeth. Their name is unknown, as are amny other details. Some question whether this isn't just idle speculation based on Rizeth and Lucas being good friends.

SuperJosh 28th of January, 2004 10:36

As Dron ans Roth trudge back to Master Rizeth's estate Roth strikes up a conversation. "Well, that was productive. If we ever decide to settle down we know a place were everybody knows our names. I feel like we learned something, but I just can not put my finger on what it was. Any ideas?"

The Alcotroll 28th of January, 2004 11:03

"Well," says Dron, considering, "We know Rizeth is interested in Dragoons and that his interest might stretch beyond mere scholarly observations. Now we hear rumours that Rizeth and Lucas are more than just friends, but colleagues in some sort of group." He pauses, waves absently at a farmer still tilling his field.
"Maybe Lucas was working in concert with Rizeth. Rizeth seems intrested in Energysts, the soul-source of a Dragoon, without which the machine cannot function. Veteran Dragoon pilots sometimes speak of their machine avoiding an incoming blow of it's own accord, and the only way us mechanists could explain this was that the trapped soul was somehow still sentient.
"Suppose that Lucas was attempting to create a more powerful soul, and Rizeth a more efficient way of utilising that power. Maybe there are more of these wizards out there, working on other aspects of Dragoon-craft?
"The Ventarran Empire," he laughes bitterly, "Sorry, the HolyVentarran Empire is becoming more agressive, expansionist. We've heard the people clamouring for Dragoons of their own, to defend their land, but the rebels haven't the numbers nor the craftsmanship to face the Ventarrans down. maybe that is about to change."

He laughes again, "Of course this is just speculation on my part, I don't know enough about Dragoons to be certain, but if true, then it gives us some idea of where Lucas is now.
"The Venterrans will hardly approve of his meddling, and if they caught wind of his work they may well have Lucas undergoing 'interrogation' even now to unlock his secrets. Nor do the Dragoon guilds take kindly to infringements upon their territory, Lucas could be in their clutches too."

[OOC; I'm assuming that Dron has a sufficient Knowlege and craft (Dragoon) related skills to back all this up (10 I think). If not then I'll delete this post and, but for the reddening of my ears, no-one will ever know what happened...]

SuperJosh 29th of January, 2004 11:58

"Hhhhmmmmm." Roth mutters as he thinks, absentmindedly petting Cy. "You certianly know more about dragoons than I do. I admit that your theory makes sense. I would feel better if we new for sure what Rizeth was up to. He could be putting himself in quite a bit of danger."

After being silent as they walk back to the villa Roth speaks up. "I hope Durn and Algerdar are done when we get there. I would hate to have to wait any longer." With that Roth loses himself in thought for the rest of the journey.

Black Plauge 29th of January, 2004 13:02

"Well, are we ready to head for Lucas' tommorow?" Durn asks that night at dinner.

"I've finished transcribing the spells I needed so we should be able to get into his lab when we get there. Did you two find out anything in town?"

After Roth and Dron explain what they discovered and Dron's theory, Durn is quiet for a moment.

"Well, that would certainly be interesting. I guess we'll find out more when we search Lucas' lab. Shall we leave early tommorow and try and push all the way through in one day or spend the night along the way like we did last time?"

The Alcotroll 30th of January, 2004 07:30

Dron shrugs, mouth full of food. He swigs down a mouthful of weak ale to clear the crumbs and winces at the taste. "There's nothing I particularly need to do before we set off, so I'm all for an early start. If we split the journey then we can ask around at the inn," he looks bashful, "hopefully we'll have better luck than last time."

SuperJosh 30th of January, 2004 09:57

"Aye, an hopefully it will be as uneventfull as last time." Roth says as he finishes his meal. "I have everything I need packed already. I say we head to bed early so we can get a good start in the morning."

BigRedRod 31st of January, 2004 19:18

The Day breaks and the companions leave the soft comfortable beds of Rizeth's Villa and step outside into a cool Summer morning, Corran is on duty and he opens the gate wordlessly giving a stiff nod and little else. Mounted, the four ride on again toward Gran Arco, the day becomes progressivly warmer making the ride rather uncomfortable. The traffic on the road is very light, but with several miles still to go to reach Gran Arco you come across the village of Vicholm, the same village which provided cheap beds and a pleasant evening. The light is already starting to drain from the day...

[ooc: it's a small village with a tavern which was fairly empty last time. I think Dron wanted to try and pick up further rumours, so I'll leave it in the air to decide whether to stop here or look for somewhere bigger, which would most likely be in Gran Arco itself]

The Alcotroll 3rd of February, 2004 01:28

Shifting wearily in his saddle, Dron looks longingly at the welcoming doorway of the inn. As much as I'd like to stop now, he thinks, We'd have better luck for news in somewhere a little livelier.

He glances round at his companions, "Shall we stop, or go on? I think we'll find more answers in Gran Arco than here."

Black Plauge 3rd of February, 2004 02:02

Dwarves were definately not meant to ride in a saddle.

"I think your right. If we hope to find out anything tonight, we'll have to get to Gran Arco," Durn replies.

I'm probably going to regret this.

"Perhaps we could push our mounts to move a little faster? The sooner we get to Gran Arco the more likely we'll be able to find out something useful."

The Alcotroll 3rd of February, 2004 19:58

Dron nods wearily, not taking his eyes from the inn door. "Let's get moving then, if we want to reach Gran Arco before nightfall."

BigRedRod 4th of February, 2004 03:03

The journey resumes with the party trying to push extra speed out of their mounts. The summer twilight is cool and shows no sign of fading to full dark any time soon. After over an hour or so of tiring uneventful riding the four find themselves at what seems to be Gran Arco by the amount of trees dotted around. The town is walled, although the gate is open and the guards pay little attention as you ride past.
The twilight scene of purples and blues dissapears as you enter the brightly lit town. The building on your immediate left appears to be a tavern named The Duke's Hat, to the right a large municipal stable with a pair of young grooms stood by the fence. The stable also provides the area with the over-whelming stench of manure. A number of ragged beggars seem to have noticed the party arrive and are slowly advancing each telling their own tale of misfortune which can only be remedied by a few copper pieces.

The Alcotroll 4th of February, 2004 20:58

Dron looks to his companions and as the shambling beggars approach, murmurs under his breath; "Beggars have a knack of hearing what no-one wanted heard and seeing what no-one wanted seen. Maybe they'd be willing to share their knowledge for a little coin?"

[OOC; BRR how many Beggars?]

Black Plauge 5th of February, 2004 01:37

"I'll leave that to you," Durn mutters back, "I'm not that good at getting people to talk. If you need some smaller coin though, I still have the copper and silver we got off the creatures from the mine. Just let me know where and when to give it."

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