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Unread 30th of May, 2008, 07:17
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Prologue: The affairs of Wizards.

The Watch House occupied the center of the city, half way up the slopes of the mountain and not far from the impassive brass gates of the university.
Of course, there were watch houses throughout the city, large and small, used as bases for Watch patrols and temporary cells for the holding of miscreants; but the Watch House had deserved its capitalised status by being the oldest, grandest and most important of the Watch buildings; headquarters for the militant arm of the law for as long as anyone could remember. Like much of the city it's architecture was a fluid mixture of human and dwarven styles, of well dressed stone and decorated with exquisitely sculpted arches and finials around the lintel, threshold and windows. Wide, high steps lead up to a broad oak door topped with an eroded plaque bearing an illegible crest enscrolled with vines and feathers and fancies of the stonemasons art. Above that, rose a mage-forged dome of the sort that characterised the city's great public buildings. Beyond this loomed further stories, within which scurried the countless clerks of law and process, guardsmen and archivists who were the grease on which the gears of law in Aterium turned.


A woman waiting impatiently on the steps of the main entrance straightens at the arrival of four visitors.
"About time," she snaps, turning briskly to push open one of the big oak doors. "Follow me."

The main hall of the Watch House is dominated by a polished mosaic of the city crest, stretching to the far end of the hall where rises a great colonnaded staircase more suitable for a stately home or palace. On one side of the vast room a clerk works at a desk, his quill scribbling in a duty roster, a stack of ledgers at his side. On the other side, a patrol of watchmen and women perform a final check on their armour and harness before departing into the city. Sprite-Lights cast discrete illumination on the oil paintings and busts of Watch Commanders long dead, which decorate alcoves and wall-spaces around the circular chamber.
The woman says nothing as she marches stiff-backed across the mosaic to the stairs, returning a salute from the patrol commander as she passes. A tall, haughty woman of middle years, her plain face is etched into a slight frown and her greying hair is pulled back into a tight bun. Her armour is slightly battered but well cared for, distinguished from that of her comrades only by the three gold pins on her gorget that identify her as a Captain. She is Ilaina Utorian, adjutant to Hans Kargen; first (and so-far only) point of contact for the four individuals hired into service of the Aterium city watch.
"The Commander is in his office," she says over her shoulder as she mounts the steps. "He intends to explain the nature of your... contract in person." she adds, in the slightly disapproving voice of a put-upon adjutant forced to watch her commander perform a task that would be better delegated to another.
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Unread 30th of May, 2008, 07:44
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Balar stares at the women in armor as they pass. In his village the women did not wear armor. If when they were forced to fight they did so from a distance with javelins and ranged weapons to support the front line warriors. No less of a spectacle to him is the severe middle aged woman who guides them, seemingly against her will. The entire city was a bizarre spectacle to him though. At least he'd managed to find some people who were a bit less confused, and willing to help him get the hang of things. And now they'd even helped him get some paying work. At least he assumed it was paying.

"Er, Captain Utorian, right? I have not met this commander. What is he like?"
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Unread 30th of May, 2008, 10:15
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The young wizard would never get used to the sheer magnificence of this city. Everywhere he traveled, the beauty of this magical metropolis amazed him, so much, that he never got bored out of spending nights just looking at the sight a top some high tower. As a practitioner of magic, he had learned from his loved father that such great cities were aided in their construction by magical energies of strength that even, some say, surpassed some of the most adept of this generation...

It once occurred to him that maybe it was this simple fact that made him awe in front of such... magnificence, or so he was told. Ever since he was young, he could see things others could not... perceive things that weren't really there. This special touch of magic was lost to him once he started the practice of wizardry. Despite this event, never once would he abandon his sights of this long lost magical energy of his, and the divine sights would once return to him once he had mastered the essence of magic.

While walking up the steps to the city Watch House, he couldn't but stop to observe the very stern look upon the faces of the women while they where putting on their armor. Lionel was one that loved the essence of beauty, the essence of a woman was of no difference to him. He admired and loved women, desired them. He was a young man in the high of his life right now!

He would follow Ilaina Utorian until he would meet up with the Commander. However, a little "chit-chat" never did hurt anyone did it?

"Good morning, what a splendid day is it not?" he said, with a small smile on his face. He knew they were a little bit late, so he tried to tender up the situation.

"We are terribly sorry, Captain Utorian, if we are a little bit late, it is our fault for making you wait. A scene between two angry peasants slowed us down."

Last edited by Scythe; 30th of May, 2008 at 22:45. Reason: Sorting out the speech
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Unread 30th of May, 2008, 10:53
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Balar folds his arms at this and comments. "We should have just let them fight it out. They would have gotten tired eventually and realized they were wasting their time. A good fight never hurt anyone... I mean, as long as you don't use weapons... and don't kill each other. You know what I mean."
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Unread 30th of May, 2008, 12:47
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Malachi reluctantly followed the woman into the The Watch House. Having recently been imprisoned in a watch house, he had not expected to be returning to one so soon -- especially not The Watch House! He had little doubt that this would be only the first of many sacrifices he'd be making on this new path he'd chosen for himself.

As they crossed the main hall the oppression Malachi felt from the building itself increased ten-fold. All those disembodied stone heads of long dead Watch Commanders was morbid to say the least. Their eyes seemed to follow him as he passed.

The only bright spot in the whole place is Captain Ilaina Utorian! She may be a cranky, old city guard, but at least she had some emotion. Emotion was certainly rare in this place of laws and formality. For the time being, he'd let the others chat her up. Unless he heard something interesting he'd save his good stuff for whomever was in charge of their payment.
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Last edited by Nicodemis Finch; 30th of May, 2008 at 13:08. Reason: italics added
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Unread 30th of May, 2008, 13:02
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"Smooth move there Mr.Obivous, spreading a little butter over too much bread..."

Lionel's efforts to make up for the lateness of the group may as well just have failed at Balar's comment. Let's hope she isn't as smart as she looks, and can't see through this little white lie of his.

Unfortunately, he is pretty sure she is.

"Yes, yes... indeed. In any case, please tells us. I have heard stories of your Commander, but have yet to meet the man."

Last edited by Scythe; 30th of May, 2008 at 22:46. Reason: Check OOC thread- Putting back the information that was cut out
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Unread 30th of May, 2008, 20:06
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Lionel's excuses elicit no response from the Captain, and she takes a moment's consideration before replying to the questions about her Commanding Officer.

"Commander Kargen is an exceptional Officer," she says at last, "who serves the city with tireless dedication."

Unspoken, but obvious nonetheless, is Captain Utorian's conviction that her boss is a little too tireless, and needs to learn to delegate...
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Unread 30th of May, 2008, 21:51
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Malachi senses the woman's annoyance. "I see Commander Kargen also inspires loyalty in those under his command.... Do not worry Captain, we will make this as quick as possible and be on our way. We may not offer military precision, but then again that is probably why we are here."

I do not want to sell our services too hard--I have never worked with these people before! Then again, if we are as good as we say we are....

Ilaina may not be calling the shots, but who knows what the future holds for her? Anyway, her reaction will probably give me some insight on how to deal with Commander Kargen.
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There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die. ~Raoul Duke, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"

Last edited by Nicodemis Finch; 30th of May, 2008 at 21:56. Reason: typo
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Unread 31st of May, 2008, 04:56
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Balar nods knowingly at the captain's response. "I see, his family often misses him at the table then?" The young Barabarian replies. "But what of you Captain. A woman in your position must be just as dedicated, or even more. How lonely your man must be."
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Last edited by Shoelip; 31st of May, 2008 at 08:12.
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Unread 31st of May, 2008, 08:09
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Taking up the rear stood Darriel, who surveyed the enormous lobby with casual disinterest. After a minute in silence, simply taking in the grandeur of the building, he caught the Captain's eye, and smiled.

"Shall we?" he said, in a friendly tone, free of formality. "No need to keep the commander waiting. Can we speak as we walk?"
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Unread 2nd of June, 2008, 06:53
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The complement to Utorian's loyalty seems to meet with approval, but the less discrete inquiry about 'her man' is met with a stony silence, that continues all the way to Kargen's office.

At first appearance, Hans Kargen is as typical as a Dwarf can be, from the tips of his bushy ginger eyebrows, through the hedge-like depths of his beard, to the shining steel-capped toes of his heavy boots. At his desk, with quill perched over parchment and a frown of concentration on his face, he looks almost ludicrously incongruous. A large warhammer propped beside his desk completes the image, although his armour at least is standard Watch issue, much dented and battered.
His adjutant marches up to the desk and salutes with a crisp efficiency that indicates a deep respect for her superior.
"The irregulars reporting as ordered Sir. May I have your permission to fall them out?"
Kargen looks up from his paperwork and blinks once or twice as if digesting this information. "Thank you Captain," he says gruffly. "I'll take over from here." A large hand waves vaguely at various parchment-encrusted chairs scattered about the cluttered office. "Take a seat, take a seat.."
Captain Utorian remains at ramrod attention, somehow contriving to look vaguely aggrived.
Kargen pauses, as if wondering what she could possibly want, then, with the air of one remembering a a difficult incantation adds; "Thank you Captain. You are dismissed."
Satisfied, Utorian rips off a second salute, a square-bashing right turn and a textbook wheel as she marches from the office.

"Captain Utorian is one of my finest, most committed officers," says Kargen straight-faced as the door clicks shut. "She was a Staff Sergeant in the Army before joining the Watch, and between you and me..." here, he leans forward conspiratorially, and his eyes twinkle beneath his impressive brows- "sometimes I wonder if her pace stick is still lodged up her arse!"
Kargen laughs a bellowing laugh and reaches for a bottle on his desk. As he flips the cap, the inviting smell of brandy fills the air and the Dwarf takes a hearty swig. In any other public servant this would be evidence of alarming alcoholism, but to the Dwarf it's like sipping a glass of crushed fruit at breakfast.

"So," he says having refreshed himself and pushed his papers haphazardly out of the way on his desk, "What does the City Watch want with this bunch of rogues, eh?"
Without waiting for an answer to this rhetorical question, he waves an arm over his shoulder in the rough direction of the University complex. "Well I'll tell you, and you'll do me the favour of saving your questions 'till I've finished."

"A few nights ago- I'm not sure when exactly- a book was stolen from the University library- I know, I know; 'it's only a book', you're thinking, 'it's only a library'. Well it's not, you hear?"
"The University is one of the most closely guarded places in the city, and the Library is in the middle of it. There's guards, stone sentinels, watch flares and wards all over the place, and only one gate in and out of the quadrangle to boot. It took quite some thief to pull off a job like that... quite some thief."
Kargen pauses for a moment, then continues.
"O' course, you're wondering what this has to do with you. This damn city is crawling with sneak thieves, and most of the buggers have magic crackling at their fingertips. The watch has nailed 'em before, so why do we need you eh? Well here's where it gets right good..."
Now Kargen leans forward and an almost disquieting sense of earnest creeps into his previously benign expression. "Like I said, I don't know when this book got thieved. And the reason I don't know- the reason that the commander of the City Watch doesn't know about a theft in the securest building in the fucking city- the reason is that the fucking wizards didn't bloody well tell me!"
Kargen sits back again and brushes a fleck of invisible dust from his beard. "O'course, they told me in the end, they had to- 'cos I found out that they were making inquiries about it. But then the council, the bloody council, went and forbade me to investigate!" By now, Kargen is positively bristling with indignation, and in such a hirstute Dwarf this is a sight to behold. "They won't tell me what the book was or where it came from or when it got nicked, but whatever it was they're sodding well cacking themselves!"
Again Kargen leans forwards to emphasise his point. "Now I'm not arsed about a thief breaking into the university, and I'm only mildly pissed off that they gave me the mushroom treatment- gods know they've done it before- but I'll tell you lads one thing-" and here his voice sinks to a harsh whisper- "Whatever scares the buggery out of that bunch of fossils on the Council, sure as hell can't be good for the city!"

Kargen heaves open a drawer in his desk and extracts a roll of parchment which he places on the surface with exaggerated care. "Now. Here's where you fit in. I can't use my lads and lasses to go sniffin' around, 'cos the Council pays their wages, and the Council don't want them poking their noses in. But my legal eagles tell me that I'm within my rights, as a concerned citizen, to pay you buggers to do our dirty work for us- and pay handsomely mark you.
"There's not a lot I can do to help you- I certainly can't deputise you or give you any real authority- though unofficially we'll have your back if you get into the shit.
"All I can do is give you this list of names and addresses. These are a few of the shadier characters in town who I reckon may have done it, or who keep their ears close enough to the ground to finger the bugger who did. There's also some of the scummier pubs in the poor quarters, where the bad lads like to hang out- mebbe you'll find summat there. Go do some detective work round those places, see what leads come up, and do what you have to do to get your information- so long as you don't break the law too flagrantly. Got that?"

Orders imparted, Kargen leans back in his creaking chair with a beatific smile, mostly concealed by beard.
"Right then. Any questions?"
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Unread 2nd of June, 2008, 07:12
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"I got one." Balar announces. "Exactly how much're you paying?" He pauses thoughtfully a moment and adds. "Actually, I got another one. Captain Utorian. Does she have a man?"
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Last edited by Shoelip; 2nd of June, 2008 at 09:56.
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Unread 2nd of June, 2008, 12:59
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Malachi jumps into the conversation before the Commander can reply, for good or ill. He laughs nervously, “My friend from the north is merely making a joke Commander Kargen. He means no offense. Among his people a comment like this would be entirely appropriate under these circumstances. Believe me when I say that the importance of this mission to the watch, the city, and you personally are not lost on him. He also understands that now is not the time to seek a companion for his next visit to the communal sweat lodge.” His last comment clearly seemed to be intended for Balar – it was probably the enormous smile directed at the barbarian.

On the topic of payment, however, I must admit I am curious as well. Although I have no reason to doubt the Commander’s understanding of the word ‘handsomely,’ I wonder whether expenses incurred in this undertaking will be reimbursed…meals, bribes, and lodging, for example? More importantly, however, I have a question concerning additional support you may be able to offer, such as information, as we begin to track down leads. Perhaps you could provide us with the name of a contact person within the watch…?
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Unread 2nd of June, 2008, 13:46
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At the mention of a book being stolen from THE Library, this Dwarf had all of Lionel's undivided attention. How could someone actually pull of such a daring stunt? The skill of such a thief would have to be amazingly good, and must have been aided by some powerful magic to have been able to traverse the most dangerous of arcane protections.

"You really are a buffoon, barbarian from the north! Sure, let's try and investigate with this creature by our sides, a task near impossible..."

"Don't you possess any clue whatsoever upon the contents of the book that was "knacked"? If the Council truly fears and hides the theft of a book, it's contents must be of an incredible value, and must possess immense and dangerous powers... I fear that if such knowledge is used, we may be for an interesting turn of events, whatever they may be..."

Last edited by Scythe; 3rd of June, 2008 at 03:26.
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Unread 2nd of June, 2008, 15:44
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Balar glances at his pointy eared companion with a slight look of surprise. "While I definitely wouldn't mind taking off her armor that's not what I meant. Just thought that maybe the reason she has that stick lodged in there, as commander here put it, is because she's got no one to help her get it out..." He folds his arms and looks at Kargan questioningly.
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 03:25
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Malachi laughs sincerely. "My mistake! I stand corrected."
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Unread 3rd of June, 2008, 05:37
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Darriel's thoughts on the job were swept away by the banter of Malachi and Balar. Well, Ilaina is a little old for Balar, or myself, even, but that is something worth thinking about...

Distracted, he missed Malachi's questions, and was only jarred back to more pressing concerns by Lionel.

"Whatever it is... it's powerful enough to be worth stealing... and I expect that means we know all that we need to," Darriel said, slowly and thoughtfully. "I'm sure everything will work out for the best; it always does, eventually. If the Council really fears the book, they'll deal with it themselves. Maybe we can help."

Darriel paused. "But, yes, I am curious as to how much we'll make doing this. Hm... and just how shady these characters are. I'm not as qualified for this as I'd like... hopefully Malachi and Lionel know more about the bad end of town."
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Unread 10th of June, 2008, 07:04
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At Balar's question, Kargen's face takes on a variety of expressions, which pass across his weathered features like clouds on a windy day. At last, he settles for one of polite neutrality.
"I haven't inquired into my Adjutant's private life." he says carefully, adding slightly more mischievously; "I'm sure you'd have to ask her yourself."

Lionel's question meets a more impatient response however. "If I knew that, I wouldna' need to pay for you buggers, would I? And I'm payin' well, believe you me!
"I'll foot three grand up front, as a retainer- just so's you can see the colour of my money. You'll have a hundred per man, per week therafter, with a hefty bonus on completion of the contract. Any expenses incurred will be negotiable, though you'll find me fairly generous. I'll not give it you in cash- you'll have bonds transferable at the Pelorian bank- I don't advise you to wander around in this city with that sort of brass on you- not if'n you don't want to start a riot."
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Unread 10th of June, 2008, 08:32
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I never cared for the lustre of gold anyways...

Darriel leans to take the parchment list from Kargen's desk, and idly asks "Payment as a group, yes?" just as he begins to pore over it. He doesn't really care to know; either way, it's more than plenty to serve his purposes.

His eye catches one of the entries on the list. "This fence... Morrisey. Seems like he'd have good reason to know something, and just as good reason not to pass it on. Want to start there?"

Last edited by LeadPal; 11th of June, 2008 at 04:09. Reason: typo
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Unread 10th of June, 2008, 09:19
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Balar shrugs at the commander's reply. "I asked her about it, she did not seem comfortable speaking on the matter. That is why I asked you. I know women folk are sensitive about such things, and rarely feel the need to boast." He shrugs again.

Balar looks over the list and gets a confused look on his face. "What is a... Palace of Pink Pleasures and why do we need alchemical potions to go there?"
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Unread 10th of June, 2008, 12:14
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Malachi listens to the Commander's terms and when he's finished he replies with a smirk and a nod of his head, "I must say Commander Kargan that your terms are much more generous than I gave you credit for." The comment is clearly not meant to be an insult, to the contrary.... "That comes to 750 in bonds per man, up front, plus expenses and a weekly stipend -- by the gods I like your style." He smiles, then, at Darriel's "payment as a group" comment, Malachi raises an eyebrow, but decides they can talk about it in private. No sense having "the money argument" in front of Kargan...very unprofessional.

Leaning over Darriel's shoulder reading the list, Malachi nods in response to his observations about the fence. "I agree. Any book worth all this effort would fetch a fortune, even at a fence's prices. It's just the sort of thing to be bragged about by any who touch it. It's a great place to start."
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Unread 11th of June, 2008, 04:16
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"What is a Pink Pleasure Palace?" Balar continues to insistantly inquire.
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Unread 11th of June, 2008, 04:28
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"Side quest," Darriel replies, still looking at the sheet.
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Unread 11th of June, 2008, 22:06
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"Yes, I must agree with Darriel on that point. Although it is on the list and we will have to [ahem] investigate The Pink Pleasure Palace eventually, it does not rank as a first priority. To answer your question, Balar, it is a brothel...a place where one can pay to have sex. Such places draw rogues like flies to dung so, as I said, we'll have to check it out eventually."
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Unread 11th of June, 2008, 22:31
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Shoelip
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"Wait wait wait wait wait..." Balar hold up his hands in an attempt to slow down the conversation. "What? You southerners pay each other for sex?! What kind of messed up... I mean... How do you people take care of the kids?" Balar is quite obviously aghast at this latest revelation. He apparently missed every word after "sex"
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