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Unread 24th of August, 2012, 01:23
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Dread Lord on High [Epic GM]

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Prelude - Allenaster

Veir Hoeken
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Unread 24th of August, 2012, 02:00
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Allenaster Everafter waited patiently as the captain checked his neatly scrawled reservation list. Looking up through a pair of small, square spectacles clipped to the top of his large gnomish nose, the captain eyes him over carefully. The dinosaur feather died ebony accompanies the tricorner felt hat in its perfect arc to the coatcheck lad. Followed swiftly by the the long silken gloves matte black but for the rhinestone edge recalling the hope of Mournland Eve when the evening’s strange lights glittered across the horizon like a promise edged in splendid horror. Allenaster fluffs the elaborate ruffle at his neck showing the existential scream of all gnomes at the destruction of Cyre, checks the onyx links holding the lengthy alabaster cuffs symbolizing the remove yet connectedness Zilargo felt with the suffering of the five larger nations’ anguish at their deepest loss, and smooths his satin pants which apparently mean nothing more than a form-fitting display of his well-turned but flatish elven haunches. The fashionably knee high Talentan-wrought soft leather boots need no tending.

“Mr. Everafter, your table is waiting,” the gnome’s moustache was magnificently waxed and curled and quivered as he spoke. “Talina will seat you,” the moustachioed gnome rings a small silver bell, and from around the corner an elegantly dressed gnomish woman appear. Her long black hair braided into a multitude of strands that were twisted then coiled with fine links of silver so that they fall across her shoulders, a shower of ink woven through with moonlight.

“Mr. Santiar is waiting for you Mr. Everafter,” she says in a melodic voice. “This way please,” she bows slightly, sweeping her tiny arm towards an ivy shrouded corridor lit by small glowing stones carefully placed behind the living green curtain.

“Is this your first time at Veir Hoeken Mr. Everafter?”

“Ja, heeft het genoegen is mij tot nu toe geweigerd,” replies Allenaster with the deferential accent expected of a non-native speaker.

“My goodness, de heer Everafter,” Talina gasps as she switches to Zil herself, “you are a man full of surprises aren’t you?” The corner of her lips turn up in a rare expression of gnomish glee and she says, “Then you should know Veir Hoeken is a restaurant like none other. It, in many ways, defines avant garde both in dining and architecture. The building expresses itself organically from a natural limestone cliff overlooking the Trolan Bay, but what has made us unique is the clever use of scale. From the start Veir Hoeken has been designed to cater to all of Khorvaire’s diverse races. The concept though is far from new, as we gnomes learned long ago that constructing buildings suited for the taller races just made good business sense. But rarely has it been expressed as elegantly as within I]Veir Hoeken[/i].

“It was this vision of balanced space that the van den Vondel brothers had in mind when they started construction. They employed one hundred and seven master illusionists under the direction of Grand Master van Leeunwenhoek himself to ensure that the big and the small were seamlessly integrated into an inseparable whole. Sound and smell, taste and touch, even space and time have been crafted and molded to give each of the Four Corner’s dining halls a unique feel inspired from Eberron’s most primal forces.”

“Truly impressive, Talina, I already envy the time you spend in Veir Hoeken, but truthfully how would anyone know there were precisely 107 master illusionists? I have met at least one and she would cheerfully occupy twenty balcony seats at the Linden Street Theater with nothing but different hairstyles to tell them apart,” Allenaster deadpans as the raven haired gnome leads him past a glorious arch of limestone wreathed with prism ivy and rare Aerundal orchids.

Well-practiced and mellifluous Talina laughs. The Zil expressed almost all of their emotions in chuckles, chortles and twitters easily bewildering others. Talina’s both self-aware yet seemingly sincere laugh conveys an understanding that she recognizes their conversation as a ritualized social performance and she finds pleasure in Allenaster engaging whole-heartedly in his role.

For a moment the path darkens, heightening the delicate fragrance of the orchids. Then the rock above parts into jagged cleft that opens to the sky, like they are walking at the bottom of a river carved ravine.

“I’d imagine the heaviness here would weigh down the conversation,” quips Allenaster

“Rather say it lends some the gravitas they seek,” she replies wittily as they stroll along a simple flagstone garden path.

That she stands nearly pale amber eye - uncommon even amongst the Zil - to his own ultramarine eye is not lost on Allenaster. Glancing down he marvels at how a section of the floor rises soundlessly up to meet the server’s tiny feet, sweeping forward with them so perfectly so that they are walking at the same pace, even though she was easily two feet shorter.

“And what of those who enjoy looking down at others?”

“Oh ho. Too easy, de heer Evereafter. I simply stoop.”

The path abruptly opens on the right revealing the earth corner. Softly glowing crystals grow in large random formations throughout the corner, like tufts of angular scrub made of light. The atmosphere is intimate, with couples holding hands over tables of glowing crystal, or whispering softly into each other’s ears. Looking closely Allenaster notices that several of the crystal formations are slowly moving, their rigid crystals twisting over an evening into intricate geometric patterns and along the walls are variously sized dark niches for private parties. The centerpiece of the corner is a crystalline tree, its softly glowing branches swaying as if to a light summer breeze. Thin filament like leaves clink together resonating with a purity that washes over the stones in serene waves of sound.

“A lot of secrets must have found cover under such music,” Allenaster muses.

“I’m surprised at you, no Zil would ever think so deviously,” Talina replies drolly.

“No Zil would teach the word directly. They would only hint at its edges while cowled in foreign inns. Took me years.”

“That wasn’t a secret that was a prank.”

Allenaster laughs more heartily than warranted then gives a short sincere chuckle.

Not far past the earth corner they transition into the fire corner where great braziers hold flickering elementals like dancers of living fire. Rivers of heatless lava flow down the walls to pool under the patrons’ tables. From the path islands of fire kissed basalt apparently floating in a caldera of molten rock. The plates and cutlery look roughly knapped from obsidian and ovaline and the glasses are like a pyroclastic explosion frozen in goblet form. Where the earth corner had been quiet and intimate, the fire corner is loud and lively. At the center of the corner erupts a miniature volcano. Lava geysers and glowing tephra bubble and spew down upon a stage of mirror like obsidian. A curvy human singer in a clinging dress and long gloves sings lustily from the stage. Below her an accompanying orchestra and its half-orc band leader call forth a frenetic rhythm while beyond them dancers stomp and twirl on surface of a lava lake.

“I will have to come back. What a splendid evening this corner would be.”

“You’re not all quips, de heer Everafter?”

“I couldn’t be. Then there’d be no room for the desperate schemes, veiled innuendo or improvised morality.”

As they continue along Allenaster catches the faint scent of damp stone, and he can feel a ocean breeze kissing his skin with a light mist. Reflexively he touches his cheek only to find it dry, the breeze and mist being nothing more than masterful illusions.

Talina nods and says, “When I was a child I saw Jeltsje van der Weide perform Helena in The Sparrow Queen.”

Interrupting her Allenaster intones dramatically, “Is this the morning dew fresh on my cheeks?”

Talina continues in the same overwrought tone, ”Have I dreamt I was a bird? Or am I now the bird dreaming?”

Rounding a corner, the floor turns to sand before opening to a great open cove overlooking the Trolan river below. To his right water falls from high above, creating a wall of white rainbow laden mist. Around them patrons sit in chairs of carved driftwood, at tables draped in cloth that shimmered like nacre and edged with deep blue green kelp. They continue to walk across the water, Talina’s raised stone path has been replaced by a wave. The illusionary floor even sends ripples out at their footsteps swept out in placid arcs. Below them colorful fish swim in tight schools, twisting and darting through the branches of coral and underwater caves. Allenaster can even see patrons dining beneath the waves served by naiads and merfolk from a bar formed in the shell of an enormous clam.

Talina winds her way expertly across the floor until she reaches a spar of rock jutting out into the sky above the Trolan. With a smile she steps into the empty air and hangs there a moment waiting for Allenaster to follow.

In a rush of air the two race upward passing through the feathery underside of a cloud before emerging on its top. Here plates made of rainbows sit on ethereal tablecloths of mist that seem to float in mid air. Wine and martinis hang in invisible glasses filled by floating seraphim and solars.

With a sense of finality Talina switches back to Galifaran, “Welcome to the corner of air, Mr Everafter. Your table is right over here.”

J and Erik
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Unread 10th of September, 2012, 02:04
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“...and I said ‘Where there’s a will, General, I want to be in it.’”

Sanadal breaks into a hearty laugh, nearly choking on his brandy.

“And the general didn’t court martial you for that?” The old gnome’s eyes glitter with mirth.

“No,” Allenaster shakes his head ruefully, “but I never was promoted past captain.”

“Perhaps its for the best. Not much in the way of fieldwork past captain anyway.”

“True, and I never was one for desk work. The tedium drives me into trouble every time.”

Allenaster holds the snifter of rainbow brandy to his nose again: an expression of mist with an undertone of dewy cut grass, lime blossom and something ... well something light. The scent of what the half-elf assumed was the illusionist’s attempt at distilled light defied better description. Contemplating the flavor distracted him.

“Aster, you find trouble no matter what,” the gnome says using a personal nickname Allenaster found both endearing and overly precious.

Sanadal waits for the reply expecting Trouble finds me or Trouble and I have a complicated history. He looks up from his own glass and sees the overly blue eyes staring off into midheaven. He must be brooding over the War the Sivis Agent thinks. The man has seen so much horror yet almost never spoke of it.

The Zil’s stare catches Allenaster’s attention. He sets down the nearly invisible snifter with its subtly glowing contents.

“The view is magnificent almost too much for words. Thank you for inviting me.”

“The pleasure’s all mine, my friend. A toast,” he says lifting his glass. “To the finer things.”

Allenaster raises his glass as well. “Not only to live but to thrive,” he adds with a clink.

The drink slides down as only five hundred year old single barrel Aerendal brandy expertly glamered with rainbow can. Sanadal lets out a contented sigh, as a brace of cherubs flutter in with the dessert. A single strawberry layered in white chocolate tinged with the essence of soarwood pine nut, and served in a layer of foam that tasted like honeyed air. The angels set the plates down and the berry shudders, its tart creamy coated sweetness held aloft by the inherent magic of the soarwood. Milky white with the faint opalescent swirls from the soarwood, the enshrouded berry looked like Zarantyr the Storm Moon hovering above clouds. Even the plates were enchanted to look like the rolling waves of the Thundersea, and when their tiny dessert forks touch them, lightning bolts dance across their surface bringing with them the faintest tang of ozone.

Allenaster is about to speak when he notices an almost invisible gnome whispering something into Sanadal’s ear; both of their dragonmarks glow faintly.

“Sorry, Allenaster,” he says once the whisperer has faded into Veir Hoeken’s illusions, “House business. Which,” he adds with a long sigh, “unfortunately cannot be delayed. What’s worse is that it forces me to talk about business much sooner than I would have liked.” He pats around his chest a few times before giving a grunt of discovery and removing a shiny black cigarette box from a hidden pocket.

Leaning forward with a lit match seemingly plucked from the air Allenaster lights the cigarette Sanadal has spirited to his mouth and palms the box as well.

“A few days ago a certain person made some discreet inquiries that I think you might be interested in. I’ve taken the liberty of including some background information on the interested party with their contact information.”

With a grateful nod and a wry glance Sanadal inhales, dramatically flourishes the cigarette and exhales leaving a trail of cloud as he apparently recedes out of sight.

"Agent has activated pre-arranged Dramatic Exit," Talina says quietly her head pointed down toward her pendant. "Exchange unverified but probable."

The reply inaudible to any not tapped into her conscious thoughts is still whispered, "Maintain contact with target."

Slicing into the strawberry with the tiny dessert fork in his right hand Allenaster’s left hand explores the lacquered case the hard glyph of the Sivis arcane mark pulses under his fingertips and along its edge tiny dots and dashes in Droaamish numerals. He easily susses them out as seven, six, two, three.

There are only three acts in the playscript they use for their code so seven and four are substitutes for one. There are no more than five scenes per act so six is a substitute for one. The two and three indicate how many times the speaker has changed in the scene. The lack of additional numbers meant it was the whole passage and not a specific word.

He relishes the sweet, floating confection. After the dishes have been removed he speaks softly into the box, “It must be the law of diminishing returns... I feel the spell about to be broken.”
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