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Unread 15th of October, 2012, 12:20
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Book 1: Comes the Dawn - Scene I (IC)

Just after dawn, 7th of Solarday, in the 106th year (Imperial Reckoning)


IN THE FREE CITY OF CORINPORT


Cornelius Salazar opened one eye to contemplate the red dawn now streaming through his balcony door. The tangy scents of sea and summer greeted him in his first conscious moment of the day, as they had for countless other days in his forty-two years.


He groaned and staggered to his feet, throwing on a silk robe. Heppa was waiting for him at the door, as was their custom.


An hour later, after being fed, dressed and groomed, Cornelius was making his way out the front door of his manse. A quad of house guards waited for him by the iron gate at the edge of his property, as did his assistant Bernard. The guards took up their usual positions on all sides of him on the other side of the gate as Bernard stepped to his right side, but a step behind. This was how they made their way down the cobblestone paths that wound through Craklen Point on their way to Coin Street. The guards were a token of his station, a visible mark of power and prestige. Even is his father’s time there weren’t many knifings in Craklen Point, or any other part of the New City for that matter. Those were problems for the other side of the wall. The only really useful thing they did now was keep the crowds far enough away that Cornelius could talk with his assistant without being overheard. In a way, that was just as valuable as preventing a mugging.


“First item of the day?”


They always discussed the itinerary first. Then numbers, and finally any news Cornelius might find useful. Bernard met regularly with members of the Finders’ Guild, various merchant’s circles, and even officers from the free companies (who were, by the way, not free) to learn of things that his master might need to know in the course of a given day. He kept meticulous lists of these things on paper and in his head.


“The Knights Resplendent are calling again, my lord. Another crusade, I fear. You’ll want to talk to them first, I am sure.”


“Mmm. Do we know where and why?”


“Some brigand’s cesspool in the far south. Didn’t give the name, but they are seeking a loan for desert provisions, camels, and on and on.They are particularly…fervent, you’ll find.”


“Very well. Next?”


“Two choices – Lord Mendar wishes to speak with you about some matters with the exchange rate we’ve set with the Tyreni. He feels-“


“I know what he feels! The good Lord feels with his cock –as I understand it, he has taken up with some harlot from the Tyreni delegation. Detestable. I will see him last, unless you have something worse in store?”


“Perhaps. A baroness-sorry-a rouva from Callevus by the name of Anhalde has requested a rather large loan and guarantee of passage for an expedition across the Sea.”


Cornelius raised an eyebrow incredulously.


“What do the Callevi know about seafaring? Isn’t their city made of shattered ships?”


“Something like that. I’ve never visited – can’t stand the cold. Nevertheless, she has presented papers for collateral that at least warranted a look. The sum she is asking for is extraordinary, though.”


Bernard presented the scroll in hand. The banker took it, took one look, and chuckled.


“Anything else I should know?”


“Well, you’ll never guess who she is partnering with for the venture…”

---an hour later---

Sigrid shifted a bit restlessly in the great marble atrium of the Bank of Korr. Whether she was uncomfortable, nervous, or simply anticipating the moment of fruition after a long journey and a frustrating month of seeking, bartering and avoiding the occasional bloodbath was something only she knew for sure.


The good captain smiled at her reassuringly. There was just enough gray in his hair to make him look wise, though she imagined he was close to her father’s age. His associate, a blade by the name of Miltos, stood to the side, watching the atrium with a positively cat-like pair of eyes but otherwise seeming at ease.


She couldn’t say the same of her own retainers. Ullr was clearly still adjusting to the humidity and heat. Sweat glistened on his skin and pooled at the edge of his jerkin, and his hair was already damp at this early hour. Not for the first time, she regretted not making sure he had seen more of the world before now.


Aleph was another matter. He was older than the good captain and five times as hard as she – Sigrid wasn’t sure she had ever seen him appear comfortable. Though he moved little, something about the way he composed himself clearly said that he was dangerous on command.


They waited, though not in silence. The atrium was full of noise – a large alcove to the north was the site of a public hearing between two very angry merchants who had brought along what appeared to be their entire extended families. Sigrid had trouble making out much because everyone was yelling at once, but the dispute seemed to revolve around the hours a bakery was allowed to be open. How this was a matter for the Bank to resolve was unclear.


Another alcove was full of coin counters, who were being watched over by a stern-looking woman in a gray robe. Malachi knew from his many years living or lurking here that the Bank of Korr kept its coin counters out in the open to show how little they feared thievery. It was a little bit of well-earned arrogance, as the bank had of course never been robbed. Would-be heist planners found themselves dead months before they could run a scheme, and over time people got the message. You don’t take from the Bank of Korr. You don’t even fucking think about it.


A corpulent, bearded man in a ludicrous felt hat coughed into a kerchief with what Sigrid thought might be theatricality. The lord gave the group a baleful glare in between coughs, perhaps because they were mostly foreigners. Sigrid hadn’t felt much hospitality on this side of the wall. Ironically, the seven-murders-a-night Old City was far more welcoming.


They waited some more. The banker they had been given permission to speak with was still busy with his first clients. The gilded oak door to his office remained tightly closed, with a pair of steel-clad guards on either side. Miltos had noted their closed visors, overlapping plates and greaves to the foot in his initial assessment. The eye slits were really the only option, if it came to that. Why it might come to that wasn’t really his business, only that he was ready if it did.

Last edited by treehouse; 15th of October, 2012 at 16:03.
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  #2  
Unread 16th of October, 2012, 10:55
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Malachi yawned greatly and reached into the fold of his vest, producing a flask. "Anyone care for a bit of the hair of the dog then?" he asked. "Might make the waiting go a bit faster, don't you think?"

He offered the slightly tarnished flask to anyone who might appear interested before taking a rather noisy quaff himself.

He smacked his lips then put it away.

"I wonder if my reputation is part of what is causing the delay," he mused.
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Unread 16th of October, 2012, 11:57
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Miltos eyed the pirate captain's flask, but shook his head. Sometimes liquor got the best of him, turned his calm exterior into the raging torrent that still beat beneath the bravo's mask. And while he relished the flourish and parry and sting of sword-play, he felt it best not to set fires that he was not completely sure he could extinguish.

"Your reputation, Captain, ought be the least of the worries here. These money-changers fancy themselves powerful behind their coffers. Maybe they are correct, for now, but they will die as they were born, unremembered, unremarkable, and penniless. Piss on their life's work. It might be worth that much to the Valerian soil."

Last edited by Mercutio; 16th of October, 2012 at 11:59.
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Unread 16th of October, 2012, 12:43
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Sigrid accepted the flask, taking a short drink before passing it back. She kept watching the door, and the guards.
"Heh. Captain, your friend is so serious."
She sighed, drumming her fingers idly, then turned to Malachi.
"I'd prefer you to do more of the talking. I expect I can convince them to accept my collateral, but this is your expedition, your proposal, and you are much better with words."

She turne back to watching the door.
"Also, I expect your name carries more weight. There are thousands of barons, and no-one has heard of Anhalde. But a daring captain of the sea? Surely they are quaking in their boots."
She smiled lightly. "Ah, perhaps that is the delay."
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Unread 18th of October, 2012, 10:58
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Malachi threw his head back and laughed hard, hard enough to turn into a spluttering cough.

"Being known isn't all its cracked up to be. There is reputation, and then there is infamy. I fear I sometimes fall into the latter than the former. But even that can have its uses, I'd imagine. Personally, I couldn't care less what the more refined classes think. I am, after all, just a simple captain. Though if I kept clients waiting like this, I would soon be out of business."
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Unread 18th of October, 2012, 13:02
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"They know you are skilled enough to succeed. It's not so important, the details of your plan. You'll get a return, whatever you end up doing."
Sigrid kept watching the door. "They might question whether you actually intend to repay the debt. But, such a thing rests on my shoulders."
She left it at that.
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Unread 19th of October, 2012, 07:06
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Ullr stands uncomfortably, itching to wipe the sweat from his brow but unwilling to reveal any lack of discipline in the company of both his Rouva and strangers. His eyes are watchful, carefully examining any movement in the area for a threat or hint of danger. His posture is solid and sturdy, and he reveals few signs of his inexperience at worldly traveling.

He raises an eyebrow at the self-deprecating words of Sigrid, but doesn't correct her, such words are for them in private, away from those not of House Anhalde and it's retainers and servitors.

He glances up at the greasy coin counters with disdain, and briefly entertains thoughts of how quickly he could turn each of them into a pin-cushion before turning back to Sigrid.

"Siri, they should not be keeping you waiting like this, they should know better."

Last edited by Linklegacy77; 19th of October, 2012 at 07:12.
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Unread 19th of October, 2012, 13:50
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Sigrid frowned. "I have many flaws, but at least I do not suffer from pride. I am an inconsequential noble from a distant state, and this is the grand Bank of Korr. It is rude, but only that, not a question of what they should or should not do."
She sighed. "Besides, it's not as if we have a better use of our time. It's already been weeks. Another hour is nothing."
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Unread 20th of October, 2012, 02:31
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As if on cue, the gilded door swung open and three men stepped out of the office.




One was obviously a knight by his arms, armor and half-height kite shield, but they all bore the device of Vigil on their chests, and the look their leader directed at Sigrid and her companions seemed accusing. It was a look she had grown used to from the militant wing of the Faith - Vigil had been outlawed in the North for nearly thirty years.

They strode out of the bank wordlessly, their manner revealing little other than contempt and condemnation for everything and everyone around them. A soft ahem at the door caused the group to turn.

“Pardons, my Lady. Good Captain. An affliction of the purified soul is the tendency to go on and on. Would either of you care for a refreshment before we begin? Your retainers are welcome as well, though I fear my office is too small to accommodate all of you comfortably.”



Malachi knew Cornelius Salazar by reputation, but this was the first time he had seen the man up close. He was surprisingly diminutive (in manner rather than stature) and his eyes were warm, almost fatherly. If rumors could be believed, Salazar was a ruthless, clever man. It was hard to believe just by looking at him.

Last edited by treehouse; 20th of October, 2012 at 02:35.
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Unread 20th of October, 2012, 07:47
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Aleph was stoic but he was not the silent type, strong or otherwise. When the occasion came he'd laugh along with the banter eve if he didn't join in quite as much as the others.

Still, it would be an unforgivable breach of etiquette for him to respond directly to a question levelled at Baroness Anhalde. He'd not been in her service long, but Aleph was sure that the Baroness understood that with his years came an insight and, more than anything else, a subtle reassuring confidence. His talents were just as useful explaining why his charge might warrant a banker's risk as they be explaining to a young lad who's found himself a knife that he really would like to put it down and scurry off before he makes a mistake that there's no coming back from.
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Unread 24th of October, 2012, 19:43
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"Perfectly understandable. I'm quite settled, but Malachi...?"
She glanced over at the captain. "No? Well, alright. Ullr, Aleph, we'll have to take your leave for now."

She entered the office, following Cornelius, taking an indicated seat.
"My dear Mr. Salazar, thank you for taking the time to hear us out. It is greatly appreciated."
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Unread 25th of October, 2012, 11:34
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"Ah, Salazar, or should I call you Cornelius? I am quite refreshed already, though thank you for the offer."

Malachi followed the Baroness in, seating himself as well. "You understand that I am here as a partner, but the expedition is the rouva's. I do so hope you can find it in your heart, and coffers, to aid her."
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Unread 31st of October, 2012, 11:42
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Cornelius took his time settling down in a straight-backed chair on the other side of a large desk. After the brazen displays of wealth in the bank proper, the man's office seemed rather plain. There were a few subtle symbols of status, like the silver instruments on his desk and the well-ordered bookshelves behind him, but there was nary a hint of gild or a whiff of incense in the chamber.


Ignoring their refusals, Salazar took out three goblets and a pitcher from a cubby and began pouring water.

"A fellow by the name of Klazel visited me last year. He had crafted a rather marvelous box that can keep ice cold for months - long enough to always have it fresh from the mountains...if you have the coin. He came to me penniless, but now he is the wealthiest merchant in Bamun."

Cornelius pulled out a small wooden box and a set of wooden tongs from the cubby. With a flourish, he opened the box, extracted a chunk of carved ice for each goblet, and closed the box again. A few wisps of frozen vapor swirled around his hand as he put it away.

"Everyone who comes to the Bank brings a need, but very few also bring an idea. It was too good to pass up, no?"

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

Outside, the fat man's ailment was becoming a nuisance. He was moving closer to the center of the chamber, and the acoustics of the hall were amplifying each wracking cough so that he seemed to be right in Ullr's ear. It was enough of a racket that even the feuding merchants paused to look.

One of the guards posted outside Salazar's office broke his stillness to glance at the other, who shrugged.
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Unread 31st of October, 2012, 11:55
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Ullr takes a step away from the obese man, worried that he might have some plague or sickness, and looks around the room. Setting his eyes on a nearby guard, he approaches and asks quickly, "Shouldn't someone summon a doctor to see to him?"
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Unread 1st of November, 2012, 00:57
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Sigrid took the goblet, smiling. "This is marvelous!"
She swirled it a little, taking a sip.
"Hm. I suppose you could keep meat fresh with this as well, yes?"
She stopped, pondering. "Or fruits? I know one of my fellows brings whole plants up from the south, transplanted on barges, simply to ensure their fruits are still fresh when he arrives. Quite a trouble, as he says. It is more for the spectacle, the novelty, than anything else."

She reached into her bag, pulling out a scroll tube, and indicated the desk in front of them.
"Do you mind?"
She unfurled it. It was a map of the Jomren coast, going up, farther to the north, past several islands, leading to a large landmass, far to the west.
"As you know, there have been numerous attempts at sailing back west, to the homeland, despite the efforts of various faithful to keep the subject taboo. None have returned successfully."
She indicated the large expanse of blue.
"The general consensus among my fellows, when the topic is broached, is that the seas are too dangerous to travel, and that the distance to the homeland is too far to adequately prepare for. Several expeditions that have left have returned, empty-handed. Those that have come the closest to success report four to five weeks of sailing, extremely treacherous waters, and the realization that they'd gone through more than half of their stores, necessitating a choice between a return and commitment."
She pointed near the north.
"We engage in trade with the Skovijnir, the northerners. I got this map from one of them. The good captain, as well, has engaged in conversation with several of their men who have claimed to have traveled to the homeland. For a variety of reasons, few expeditions have been made in this direction."
"Now," she pulled out a wooden pendant. It was rectangular, very worn, with some faint design on the front. The wood was an unusual reddish color.
"This pendant has been in my family for over a thousand years. My however great grandfather brought it from the homeland. I believe it had some religious connotation. Importantly, look at the wood. This type of wood is not native to Valeria. The grain, the hardness, the color are all unique. I believe several families have artifacts such as this, the wood is famed for its extreme durability."
She smiled, pulling out a larger bit of wood. A handle, perhaps for some sort of axe.
"This is something I traded with a northerner for. It was not direct, he said he had traded with another, who had traded with another. He did not see the homeland with his own eyes. However, it is unquestionably the same wood. Importantly, it is fresh. This handle was carved within perhaps that last ten or twenty years. Even if it has been longer, it was certainly more recent than the migration."
She set the two items down, on the map.
"This indicates a possible avenue of trade. Our proposition is simple; we intend to sail north, then west across this point, where it seems the distance to the homeland is far shorter, and establish new relations with them. Certainly, if this expedition is successful, others will follow. I certainly cannot promise exclusivity. However, we will also have a significant head start on these relations, and will be able to frame terms, with ourselves as the leaders in trade. The primary purpose is to establish this relationship, as well as to confirm the viability of direct travel."

She leaned back a little, taking another sip from the goblet.
"I admit I do not have any particular goal in mind. However, I have no doubt there will be something worthwhile at the end."
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Unread 1st of November, 2012, 05:23
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Aleph's eyes briefly washed over the near-spherical coughing man. He was causing quite the scene. Just the kind of distraction that somebody might want if they were intending on mischief. Quite who might have such foolish ideas here was anybody's guess, but still it was not impossible.

And so, Aleph tried to look for anything out of place in the bigger picture. Anybody acting suspicious, fervently ignoring the drama while they did something else.

[ooc: Spot 30 ]
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Unread 1st of November, 2012, 06:36
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The guard closest to Ullr seemed uncertain.

"Lord Mendar is a doctor. He is master of the Physician's Guild."

Meanwhile, Aleph scanned the chamber for a sign that anything might be afoot. The coin counters continued their work without looking up, but Aleph couldn't suspect them.

The fat man looked up between coughs, and seemed to catch Aleph's piercing stare. He beckoned with one hand.

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

Cornelius glanced at the map disinterestedly, but picked up the axe handle with a curator's caution. He didn't touch the pendant, but he was obviously comparing the two.

"The sharpest appraisers in Valeria work for me, good Rouva. They would know if anything was amiss here. I would hate to think that some fellow up in the North swindled you."

The distrust in his voice didn't seem to be directed at a nameless Northerner, though. He searched Sigrid's face, but it was unclear what he found.

"Captain, your reputation precedes you. Is such a voyage possible? Could someone reach the Homeland with the king's ransom you two are asking for? And what guarantee is there that Vigil isn't right, and whatever we were running from is best left alone?"
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Unread 1st of November, 2012, 10:13
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"Good Cornelius, if we could make guarantees in business there wouldn't be any risk involved. And if there was no risk involved, well, then where would be the fun?" Malachi asked, swirling the drink around in the proffered goblet, but not touching the liquid to his lips.

"What I can promise is a good faith effort to make the journey there and back again, and I believe the rouva is willing to offer you right of first refusal for any trade contacts that are established. Perhaps you could even open one of these delightful buildings on the other side, have quite the leg up on your competitors."

Malachi leaned closer and winked at Cornelius. "You know my reputation. If there's to be any captain that could make such a voyage, its me and any crew under me."

"And as for the Vigil, and what they claim," Malachi leaned back and shrugged. "Better that we know than don't know, eh? Besides, then there's all the money you can make in the steel trade."
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Unread 1st of November, 2012, 13:46
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"There have been several expeditions to the north already. However, I believe they failed because they were headed by merchants, who did not take enough care of the dangers in the area."
She indicated several islands off the coast.
"Particularly, I've received warnings about these islands. Additionally, northerners are at times antagonistic."
She waved a hand back, towards the waiting room. "I have significant experience with combat. I will be providing the crew: several dozen of my finest soldiers. The steep loan I am requesting is on account of equipping my men appropriately, for a sea voyage."

She glanced at Malachi, then at Cornelius.
"I am personally of the opinion that whatever we were running from would've come here already, if it meant us ill. Furthermore, I expect that if there was some trouble, that it has settled by now. The world is wide and, for the most part, mild. I doubt there is anything so fanciful as a danger to all of Valeria waiting in the homeland. At the worst, they will be ill disposed to trade, an acceptable risk."
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Unread 5th of November, 2012, 12:29
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Miltos eyed the coughing man and kept a look-out for anything else untoward, but otherwise remained motionless.
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Unread 9th of November, 2012, 05:41
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Disgusted as he was, Aleph was curious. Curious and satisfied that this was not some ruse to allow a thief, swindler or vagabond into the bank. With a nod to Miltos, he approached the man. Approached but held his tongue for the moment.
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Unread 19th of November, 2012, 13:27
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[Aleph Spot: 19

Malachi Spot: 26 , Sense Motive: 23

[Sigrid Spot: 19 , Sense Motive 20 ]
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Unread 19th of November, 2012, 14:16
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Lord Mendar's wheezing became more frantic as Aleph approached. He hunched over quite suddenly when the warrior was in arm's reach, appearing to heave though he made no sound. His face was hidden, though Aleph could see a tinge of bruised flesh in the folds of his neck.


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

Cornelius' clicked his tongue at Malachi's sure response. He seemed to be shedding some pretense, though Sigrid noticed with satisfaction that he placed the axe handle very gently on the table, an acknowledgement of sorts that he considered it authentic. Which it was, of course.

"I don't put much stock in the superstitions of the Watchers, or the Vigil for that matter. But I'm no fool, either. Home..."

He stood up rather abruptly, eyeing the pendant and the handle before throwing an exasperated look at Sigrid and Malachi. He turned his back on them and began searching the shelf.

"The sum you are asking for is too little, and what you would need for such a journey is too much," he said without turning. "My lady, I am afraid your estates would not appraise for half the cost. You are both failing to factor in an important detail, one that the last pack of fools with your notion forgot as well - ah, here it is!"

A leather-wrapped ledger materialized in his hand. He placed it carefully on the edge of the desk; the pages were yellowed with age, though they didn't have the look of truly ancient text, such as the Blood Records of House Anhalde back at Sigrid's castle. Those dated back to the Valerian War, and would have gone even earlier if her oldest ancestors had been literate.

Cornelius found what he was looking for quickly enough that Malachi knew they were getting a bit of a show, something he had suspected when he noticed that there was no dust on the ledger. The banker had obviously reviewed whatever he was suddenly thinking of.

"The expedition of Prince duPerre. You probably know all the details. Of course, their ships were far less sea-worthy than those you would master, but they sailed off fifty-seven years ago. We stopped holding our breath that they might return perhaps thirty years ago. Sooner, all the widows. Now, when duPerre came to us for his loan, he came as well prepared as either of you, and with far more robust collateral. We had no difficulty funding the expedition, but his initial estimates did not take into account one all-important issue. The cost of hiring a good steady deckhand is thirty pence a day, if the work is savory. the cost of hiring the same man for a voyage he might think suicidal? Well, for most there is no cost. They'll laugh at you and walk on. But there are some who would take the risk for the right price. And there are even a few who would do it for glory."

He gestured at the proposal Sigrid and Malachi had meticulously prepared over the past fortnight.

"If you emptied Corinport of all her madmen, you might have enough to crew your flotilla. But the price they would ask...in duPerre's case he was able to get away with eight times the normal rate, on average. And he did need most of the coin up front; even madmen know when the odds are poor, and the great majority of them wanted to purchase some measure of comfort and good living for their families with their lives. Indeed, the Widows of duPerre did live well on their husbands' gamble, though none ever felt her love's sweet embrace again.

"And you could not depend on duPerre's rate; he was not a simple merchant as you say, good Captain. He had quite the reputation, even better than yours. The first man to set foot on Llesham Island and live to tell the tale! Scourge of pirates, generous with his men and lavish with his ladies, and by all accounts a fine hand at the lute. Yes, duPerre was well liked, and he still paid eight times over what he had expected to pay for each hand he wasted on his foolish quest. What rate do you imagine you might command? Twelve times the normal? Fifteen? Tell me, Rouva, are you hiding a gold mine somewhere on your lands?"


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

Aleph instinctively kneeled by the stricken lord. He was well-versed in the healing arts, and knew what a man looked like when he was choking to death.

The man's cough was getting feeble already. Others in the hall had now noticed what was going on, and a shriek filled the chamber, possibly coming from one of the squabbling merchant families. Ullr heard someone call for a physician. With callous efficiency, the overseer in the coin counters' alcove touched a small lever, bringing down an iron portcullis from the ceiling to seal off the alcove. Guards stayed at their stations for the most part, though Miltos noted the arrival of a half dozen more from different directions the moment the commotion started. The Bank of Korr was obviously prepared for any number of schemes that began with a disturbance in the Commons.

The man turned, finally seeming to notice Aleph's proximity. He stared up at the warrior with glassy eyes that were black as coal. His lips parted, wet with spittle.

"Not. What. I. Was. Promised."

Those hideous midnight eyes went wide, and Lord Mendar exploded.

[I need Reflex saves for Aleph, Miltos, and Ullr. Aleph will take a -2 on the save. The DC is 25. If you make the save, you may elect to hold your breath and cover your eyes to avoid making a Fortitude save (also DC 25). If you fail the Reflex save, please make that Fortitude save as well.]
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  #24  
Unread 19th of November, 2012, 15:54
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Sigrid frowned slightly, a little confused.
"My lord, the ships will be manned by my own people. We do have experience with ships. I assure you that the loyalty of..."
She trailed off, glancing back at the door.
"What was that?"
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Unread 16th of December, 2012, 15:47
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Sigrid had clearly heard something - a muffled bang, and some sort of keening that cut off abruptly. When she glanced back at Cornelius, he seemed unperturbed.

"Any situation outside is already well in hand. I'd wager this building is one of the safest places in all of Valeria."

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

Aleph didn't have time to blink as an inky black cloud of something billowed out of the noble's bloated body, which seemed to deflate rapidly as the substance filled the Commons. He was dimly aware of terrified screaming to his immediate north, but his more immediate concern was that he had inhaled a lungful of the stuff. He gritted his teeth and concentrated.

All turned dark for just a few seconds. Miltos had had the good sense to close his eyes and cover his mouth with one hand while he put steel in the other, but he could still hear a wooden creak and bang over the din. For his part, Ullr had been too worried about the peril facing the common folk on the far side of the chamber to think of his own health. He took in a breath of the poisonous fog and doubled over.

With unnatural speed the mist fell away, and the chamber was horrendously changed. A crowd of arguing commoners was now a pile of corpses, some still convulsing wretchedly. Miltos noted with a certain amount of horror the black tears streaking down some of their cheeks. The scene behind him was little better - Ullr was still coughing as if he'd taken a bad bout of sea shakes, but otherwise seemed alright. Cornelius' guards, on the other hand, were slumped lifelessly over their halberds. The swashbuckler sighed and turned on his heel to face the attackers he had expected to see when he heard the front doors opening through the fog.

He was not disappointed. Veiled, dark-clad strangers were still filing into the Commons, scimitars or falchions in hand. Without even really looking, he knew he would see a brass serpent coiled around each assailant's left arm.

The Coils of Karn had nearly been wiped out during the Serpent Wars, but what had survived of that old assassin's guild had grown much, much more dangerous. They worshiped some yuan-ti god of death now, and killed for mysterious reasons instead of for gold or notoriety. He'd never seen one before, but now he was staring at eight of them.

Aleph rose up to his left, outwardly unfazed by the chaos around them. If Ullr was really okay, they were outnumbered by almost three to one, at least for the moment.


[Snakes in a Bank - Surprise Round

'Noble explosion' effect : 100-foot radius spread of poisonous fog (dissipates in one round). All creatures in radius can make Reflex save (DC 25) to close eyes and hold breath, avoiding effect. Otherwise, Fortitude DC 25. Effect upon failure depends on creature's HD.

5 HD or less: Death.
6-10 HD: Paralyzed for 1d6 minutes.
11-15 HD: Staggered for 1d4 rounds.
16 HD+: No effect.

All creatures caught in the fog are dazed for one round whether they make their save or not.
Miltos is able to hold his breath and cover his eyes, Ullr and Aleph don't react in time. Aleph makes his save, Ullr fails and is staggered for 2 rounds. All three are dazed.

Most of the NPCs in the Commons die from the poisonous fog. The ones that survive are not easy to spot as they are paralyzed. A few of them cry out in the split second before their demise, alerting Malachi and Sigrid to the danger.

During surprise round, the double doors swing open and Coils of Karn enter the room.

Snakes in a Bank - Round 1

Poisonous fog dissipates.

Adders coat their weapons with poison.

Malachi's turn.

Initiative
Adders
Malachi
Aleph
Miltos
Ullr - staggered for 1 round
Sigrid
Cobras]


NPC Stats
Name HP Active/Passive Def. Fort/Ref/Will Attack/Damage Special
Cobra #1 60/60 23/12 +9/+14/+10 +19/2d4+12 [none]
Cobra #2 60/60 23/12 +9/+14/+10 +19/2d4+12 [none]
Adder #1 32/32 21/10 +7/+12/+8 +17/1d6+6 sneak attack +2d6, poison DC 19: 1d3 Str, 1 consecutive save
Adder #2 32/32 21/10 +7/+12/+8 +17/1d6+6 sneak attack +2d6, poison DC 19: 1d3 Str, 1 consecutive save
Adder #3 32/32 21/10 +7/+12/+8 +17/1d6+6 sneak attack +2d6, poison DC 19: 1d3 Str, 1 consecutive save
Adder #4 32/32 21/10 +7/+12/+8 +17/1d6+6 sneak attack +2d6, poison DC 19: 1d3 Str, 1 consecutive save
Adder #5 32/32 21/10 +7/+12/+8 +17/1d6+6 sneak attack +2d6, poison DC 19: 1d3 Str, 1 consecutive save
Adder #6 32/32 21/10 +7/+12/+8 +17/1d6+6 sneak attack +2d6, poison DC 19: 1d3 Str, 1 consecutive save
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