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  #1  
Unread 23rd of February, 2004, 10:06
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Chapter 6 - Secrets of the Brotherhood

Taking the state of Blarth and Cadrius respectively, Nicos tells his tale - quickly and cutting the details down to make it short.

"Moving on was the idea. It rubs me the wrong way to be sent out as a messenger boy, but I was sent out here to lead you to the Citadel. It's only short walk away, and you people look like you could use a rest," Nicos said some concern showing on his face.

Turning and leading them up along the path he and Shade had previously descended, the bard sets an easy pace for ten minutes, until he veered off the path suddenly, heading towards a cliff face.

"The path continues on for a while yet," he says absently. "But it leads to a dead end. The entrance is this way - I'm told it's not the main entrance, rather just a side one."

They walk for several more minutes in silence, progressing easily for the ground is surprisingly free of derbies, until they reach the bottom of a cliff. Ignoring the cliff itself, Nicos walks up to a large bolder, and motioning for the others to stick close behind him, slips between it and the rock face. Once everyone is inside, the Bard reaches over to the wall, and depresses a natural looking outcrop of rock before turning to the other and grinning, his teeth reflecting the light from behind them and giving him a slight inhuman cast.

"I wasn't told what would happen if we entered the cave without disabling the trap, but I got the impression it would be nasty. Follow closely now, it will reactive in a few minutes."

Entering the cave, the companions only travel for a few feet before they become aware of a light source around an approaching corner. Following it the small group find themselves passing through an open Iron wrought door, and into what is unmistakably a paved and empty room.

Looking at the multiple doors that lead away to places unknown, Nicos frowns.

"Well with no official welcoming party, I'll take it upon myself to welcome you. Welcome to the Hidden Citadel of the Brotherhood."

Turning and facing the other, a serious look covering the face, Nicos speaks slowly, as if he is carefully choosing his words.

"While we have a chance, and are inside, allow me to give you a word of warning. As far as I understand it, the Brotherhood isn't a united force. They have what are almost political factions, and it seems that one of these objects to having non-members, and more importantly non-mages entering their sanctum. They were debating over it, and challenging the people who invited us here, who it seems represent and entirely different factions. Just remember, most people here welcome us, or are at least indifferent to our presence. However a small amount are hostile to us."
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Unread 24th of February, 2004, 06:20
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"However a small amount are hostile to us."

"Then we tread in dangerous territory, but these mages should not fear. There is a faction among us that would rather not intrude."

He speaks in a gentle, almost jesting tone, but there's some truth to it. He had been uneasy enough to accept their indirect invitation but knowing there will be a number of wizards who actively want them gone has the hairs on the back of his neck rising. He doesn't like spellwielders.

Wizards and paladins typically experience the closest thing you can get to a feud, without quite resorting to open violence. Each finds the other as borderline insane and disrespectful. The paladins typically view the wizards are openly abusing power that could not be wielded without the gods. They believe respect should be given and acknowledgement paid to the higher powers at work. Moreover they fancied themselves better as they knew what was really going on. Wizards, on the other hand, think paladins are idiots. But then, they tend to think that of anyone who doesn't wear robes, a pointy hat, and play with bat guano. This feeling was expressed to the paladins and things haven't been the same since.

So it is with Cadrius and while he might no longer be a paladin, old habits die hard. He can't help but be inherently distrustful of arcanists, particularly when he learns that some of them might harbor mutual feelings. He'll accept the chance to rest and see Cadogan, but they should be moving as soon as everyone is hale and their foodstuffs restocked.

"So be it. As long as those wizards are not violent, I see no reason why we should worry. I do not expect to stay long. I would not wish to wear out our welcome," his says, his face touched by a slight smile.
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Unread 24th of February, 2004, 06:33
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Politics never was a very interesting subject for Blarth, so at the first possible moment he interjects into Nicos and Cadrius' conversation, "How about disscussing this over dinner? I'm famished."
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Unread 25th of February, 2004, 00:38
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"Hostile?"

Tired as she is, the idea that Nicos had led them into a lion's den sparks her quick anger. The others seem unperturbed by the fact that sorcery might well be used against them but it makes her skin crawl. Shade is weary, though, and what would normally be a scathing retort comes out as a half-hearted protest.

"Better we camp in the hills and you bring Cadogan out to meet us on the morrow."
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Unread 26th of February, 2004, 12:04
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"I don't mean to sound all ominous," Nicos says waving away their objections. "Like I said most wont even care if we are here, but maybe a dozen people might try to antagonise you. As to dinner ... "

Turning to look once again at the doors, the bard hesitates before rushing on.

"I don't exactly know my way around. I was expecting someone to meet us here and guide us through the lower levels."
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Unread 28th of February, 2004, 03:59
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"They did suffer his presence," he says, looking to Shade, trying to gauge her inner thoughts. "And I imagine the hills are likely little safer than the depths of this tower. At the very least we know our enemy here. I could do with a bath, a hot meal, and a soft bed. I would wager you could as well."

He looks to the room beyond and frowns. It hardly looks natural, the floor is too well paved to think otherwise, but the walls are strange. They're perfectly imperfect, looking as if a giant hand had swept through and created this room in its wake. Cadrius shakes his head and is reminded of the cool relations paladins and mages have. Fortunately for him, he doesn't need to worry about that anymore. It's one of the few upsides of having fallen out of favor with a deity. However, the thought of wandering about the tower unguided sets his nerves on edge.

"Then let us wait a while in this room. The wizards should notice us eventually."
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Unread 28th of February, 2004, 07:19
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"Wait!" Blarth exclaims, "But I'm hungry!"

Fortunately for the impatient half-orc it is this moment that one of their hosts decides to make an appearence.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here when you go here," a voice says from behind the four companions, "One of my students waylaid me on the way here with a question."

Turning around they are greeted with the sight of the same man who exteneded the invitation that they come search out Cadogan here back in Krakas.

"If you like, I'll show you to your rooms where you can wash up before eating. It is not yet dinner time, but there are fruits and bread in the refactory that should hold you until then."

Walking through the somewhat startled group, the wizard leads the way down the tunnel they had been facing, leaving them little choice but to follow.
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Unread 3rd of March, 2004, 05:10
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Cadrius hates it when someone sneaks up on him, partly because it happens so often, and partly because it's just damned unnerving. The fact that it's a wizard, who seemingly came from the cavern behind them only heightens the irritation he feels. One of them should have heard him coming. True they had been debating their course of action, but how sneaky can a wizard be? The answer is a bit unnerving.

"Hold for a moment."

The man halts and turns, gray eyes observing them with a detached air. He keeps his hands hidden, folded within the large sleeves on a robe that matches his eyes. A simple dark blue belt with a few small pouches is cinched at the waist, suggesting a slim frame. Cadrius suddenly feels uncomfortable, almost ashamed as if a child who has been chastized for interrupting a conversation between adults.

"I would at least have our host's name," he says, trying to shake the disconcerting feelings.

"Aldritch," he says simply and turns again, moving smoothly through the paved room and up a set of well-cut granite stairs. Determined that he won't have a wizard's dispassionate stare unnerve him, Cadrius follows.

The stairs climb only briefly before emerging in a slightly more lavish room, likely designated for receiving visitors of some importance; those that don't require walking through tunnels in order to reach their destination. A thick, immaculately clean, woven carpet stretches across the center of the room. All sorts of patterns and colors were weaved in its creation. At one angle there look to be fantastic beasts dancing across the rug, and at another stately castles and brooding manors occupy a landscape. Cadrius is hard pressed to say if it's a work of art, or magic, or if there's a difference between the two.

Tapestries rest on the walls, showing wizards and sorcerers although their importance and names are not known. Aldrich pauses briefly, allowing the others to assemble in the room before moving through a doorway and down a stone corridor. Relatively unadorned wooden doors pass them on alternating sides of the hall. He stops, looking at small rune carved in top of the doorway and slightly inclines his head.

"These four are your rooms. Should you require a bath simply ring the bell within. The refactory is located down the hall and through the door on the opposite side of the greeting room."

Turning on his heel, Aldrich flows back down to the hall and is out of sight within a few moments.

Cadrius draws a deep breath and pushes it out, exhaling slowly and looking at his companions. They each display a different emotion; Shade is wary, apprehensive, Nicos looks rather unaffected by the surroundings, and Blarth, well, he simply looks hungry.

"I suppose it could be worse," he says, surprised by his optimism. Moving to the door he turns the handle and steps inside.
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Unread 3rd of March, 2004, 14:01
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Shade follows the others, falling a few steps behind. Beneath the midnight mantle of her silken cloak, her back itches with unknown dread. As they leave the caverns for more habited areas, it almost feels as though they are being led deeper into the bowels of the mountain instead of the other way around. She can feel the immense weight of stone all around her; everything is massive and solid yet the whole feels somehow curiously fragile, as if it might simply collapse under it's own weight.

Their guide is in stark opposition to these observations: fragile on the outside, yet seeming made of steel stronger than her blades on the inside. His grey eyed gaze is the edge on that steel, and though his words are polite enough Shade cannot find it in herself to trust him at all. It seems odd that Cadogan is part of this group, tied to them by something stronger and more sinister than blood.

"I suppose it could be worse"

Her grey eyes find Cadrius' blue ones from across the hall. For a long moment she stares at him, as if trying to tell him something but her face is impassive. Behind her the room yawns like a stone dragon.

"It always gets worse."

She closes the door to her room with a click.
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Unread 9th of March, 2004, 02:47
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For Blarth the appearence of their wizardly host is certianly startling, and he nearly jumps out of his skin. However, he meekly follows as the group is guided to their rooms.

The forboding talk of Cadrius and Shade means nothing to him as he stands idly looking at the doors.

When are we going to eat? Oh! Wow! Those things on the door are neat.

His gaze arrested by the runes on the doors Blarth watches as they seem to shift and change. One moment they appear to be strange scribbles, but not stable ones. They are constantly changing shape, first they are elegant curves, then blockly lines and angles, then a seeming random mix of the two. Finally the squiggles over one of the doors settle into a form Blarth can recognize, a picture; the large single eye of Gruumsh with the three eyes of the seer on top. Looking at the other doors, Blarth sees a sword over the door Cadrius had gone through, its blade pointed downwards, but unsheathed; a sign of indeterminant purpose. Behind the sword the lines continue to move, at one moment forming a fist of lightning bolts and at others seemingly random configurations. The rune above Shade's door bear's two crossed swords, both pointing upwards, with a veil coverin their handles. The rune above Nicos's door is the most cofusing of all. It switches wildly from a harp to a fist and back again with other random sybmbols interspersed, seemingly unable to make up its mind.

In his distraction, Blarth doesn't notice as the others disappear into their rooms, until he is alone in the hall.

"But I'm still hungry," he says, to no one in particular. Well, the man had said that there would be fruits and bread in the refactory and he had pointed that room out, so Blarth figures its okay to go satisfy his hunger.

Making his way back down the hall, Blarth manages to find what he assumes in the refactory. The room contains two long tables, set with the plates and eating implements so common among humans. Near the back of the room another table, set back against the wall, has a bowl of fruit, on it. As he gets closer, Blarth also notices a loaf of bread and a block of cheese, both of which have a slice lying next to them along with a knife. His mouth watering at the sight of the food, Blarth grabs the slice of bread and cheese and quickly devours them. Going after an apple next, Blarth's hand freezes halfway to the bowl as he stares at a strange sight. The knives, which had been lying innocently on the table, have, of their own volition, begun moving, cutting another slice of bread and cheese to replace the ones Blarth had eaten. His eyes wide with shock, Blarth watches as the knives finish their respective cuts and return to their former positions. For a moment, Blarth can only stand in stunned silence, but then his faculties come back to him and he rushes back towards the rooms that had been assigned to the rooms, his hunger forgotten. Pounding on each door in turn, Blarth tries to explain what he saw to his compatriots, but his faculty of speach escapes him.
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Unread 9th of March, 2004, 04:56
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Caught as off guard as the others at the wizard's approach, Nicos mutters quietly to himself as the others take the leave.

"What is it with people and sneaking up on others?"

Shaking his head and considering the possibility that the regular surprises had jarred his sanity to the point where he was now speaking to himself, the bard remains silent for the rest of the short journey until they arrive at their quarters. Entering the room that is differentiated from the others by the timber of music that the portal emits when the bard fixes his attention upon it, Nicos pauses once inside to consider the strange method used to identify the quarters.

Sitting down in front of the mirror provided, the former monk gives himself a long hard look.

Well old boy, you are well and truly committed now. Companions you barely know, and whom seem to bring violence to anywhere they go like it's a curse, and a hidden fortress. A strange hidden fortress inhabited by a secret brotherhood. This has got to be one of the strangest situations you've found yourself in ... and I'm talking to myself again.

Looking absently in the mirror, the bard wonders through memories of the past, as he absently doffs himself of the weapons that girt him. Only once the sword, and daggers are discarded on the tabletop, is he roused from his musing by an almost frantic banging at the door. Arsing and opening the wooden entryway only to be confronted by a slightly flustered and shocked Blarth.

Eventually coming grasping what the half-orc was trying to communicate with half-sentences and gestures, Nicos almost laughs.

It sounds like they have charmed utensils. How arrogant, and yet fitting for this rather strange place. His grin widening, the bard adds wryly, Well either charmed utensils, or there are some rather friendly spirits haunting the refectory.
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Last edited by itches; 9th of March, 2004 at 05:00.
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Unread 9th of March, 2004, 05:18
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Inside her room, Shade stares at the items layed out upon her bed, her eyes wide with something between horror and apathy. She hadn't paid attention to the symbols on the door, hadn't even realized that she had walked into a room prepared specifically for her. The garments on the bed were obviously made for her, though, and she didn't need to lift them up to know that they would fit her as well as if she'd been measured for them.

After several long moments where nothing attacks her unexpectedly, she crosses to the bed and carefully lifts the cloak and veil. Both were made of the heavy silk she loved for it's durability and comfort, both were dyed the midnight blue of her own cloak, though in much better condition than what she was wearing. She drops it back on the bed and glares around the room, wondering if there are hidden eyes on this chamber even now.

When did I get so timid?

The thought presses her lips together with a hint of her old anger, and suddenly deciding that the wizards could all go to hell, she shrugs out of her old cloak and veil and picks up the new one. As she suspected, it fit her well. The lining on this one was black, not grey, and it wasn't reversible but that didn't bother her too much. She'd take what they offered and damn the consequences. She cautiously eyes the other clothes laid out for her but makes no move towards them. That would require the removal of her armor, and she wasn't ready for that admission of security yet.

The commotion in the hall brings her around in an instant, half expecting to find the door locked when she tries to leave. It isn't, and her blade leads the way into the corridor. Blarth is there, gesticulating wildly, and her eyes scan the passage for enemies. Nicos' words penetrate her activity and she shakes her head. Her eyes find Blarth and for some reason she decides to join him.

"Charmed silver, is it? I'll come with you and protect you from the cutlery if you'll show me where the food is."
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Unread 9th of March, 2004, 05:37
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Cadrius frowns at the sigil appearing on his door, but opens it nonetheless and enters the guest room. He wasn't certain what to expect; magically floating beds, windows to other worlds, or perhaps a water nymph in the bath. Yet what he gets is nothing more than a simple set of living quarters for whatever guests might frequent the tower. A bed sits in the corner, looking comfortable but not magically so. No windows adorn the walls, but he isn't certain whether or not they're above ground. A set of drawers rests against the far wall while a small table with a chair sits to his right bearing an inkwell complete with quill and parchment. Past the dresser, in the corner, lies a simple, albeit well-crafted, copper bathtub.

He drops his backpack onto the bed and goes over to the drawers, beginning to unfasten his vambraces. One drawer opens to reveal several fine silk shirts, each of a dark color. Pulling one out Cadrius' brow furrows and he attempts to discern whether these were left by a former guest or if they had been placed here for him. Unfolding one such shirt reveals that it is indeed tailored to someone his size. He can't imagine there are many wizards in the tower as broad at the shoulder as he. Clearly they had been expecting them. At the very least he acknowledges the courtesy of providing guests clean clothes to change into. Opening the other drawers reveals several sets of pants and breeches as well as a pair of soft leather boots and a pair of cloaks; one white with a gray lining, the other a mirror image, a grey cloak with white lining.

The armor comes off rather quickly while he considers the generosity of their hosts. There may be some that do not welcome their presence, but at the very least they know how to make their guests feel comfortable, if not accepted.

A banging from outside interrupts his thoughts and he moves swiftly to the door and stumbles into the latter half of Blarth's confusion. The thought of magical utensils doesn't exactly sit well with him, but he's unwilling to rule anything out while in this tower, nor make any hasty judgements. He might not like wizards, but they had yet to do anything to give him cause for quarrel. The least he can do is be a good guest.

"I think I will stay behind. Perhaps I can find some water for a bath."
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Unread 9th of March, 2004, 05:50
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Suddenly feeling quite foolish at his reaction to the charmed cutlery, Blarth says, "This way," and meekly leads Shade to the refactory. Everything at the table in the back is exactly as Blarth found it originally, albeit the loaf of bread and the block of cheese are each one slice shorter.

"Watch," Blarth says, picking up the pre-made slices of bread and cheese. Immediatly the knives spring back into action and procede to cut another slice of bread and cheese, before returning to their original positions on the table.

The demonstration over, the food in his hand reminds Blarth that he's still hungry and he begins to eat the bread and cheese.
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Unread 10th of March, 2004, 04:41
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Watching as Shade and Blarth move off to eat, Nicos nods at Cadrius's comment.

"No offence, but you look like you could do with one. I'm going to go explore the complex."

Retrieving a dagger from his room, and securing it in his boot, the bard wonders off down the hall, walking passed several people and hoping he doesn't appear too out of place. Taking random passages, and cutting across a courtyard, he eventually finds himself at the entrance to a library. Smiling to himself as his good fortune, the young man enters.

The Library is a spacious area, a large hall packed with bookshelves stretches out for what seems forever, and various side doors lead to other rooms. Some of these doors are open, and inside some Nicos can see more book shelves, while inside others are tables with what he assumes are students studying, or quietly talking amongst themselves.

Standing at the entrance as he takes it in, the bard's attention is broken as an attractive young red headed woman approaches him with a smile on her face. Standing a few inches shorter then the bard, and bearing a pair of startling blue eyes, she smiles and hold's out her hand.

"Hi there, you must be Nicos. My name is Gemoud."
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Unread 11th of March, 2004, 08:31
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Farther into the main hallway of the library library, within one of the chairs that resided therin, sat a man. Though this was hardly uncommon, his attire and looks made him stand out against the rest of the room. He wore a chain shirt, unlike most of those around here who seemed content in their robes and dresses, and his skin was heavily tanned and his body rugged. He wears a pair of dusty leather breeches, and through the links of chains the color of a grayish shirt. He wore a pair of leather boots who were quite worn, and a wide-brim hat constantly cast a shadow over his eyes.

Propped up against the chair was a shield, with an image depicting a massive battle between dwarfs and and ancient creature from the depths whose name is now long forgotten. Behind the shield, the hilt of a blade sticks out, but the blade itself is hidden behind the shield.

In his hands a book was open, and the man was flipping thorugh it, looking at the pages briefly before going onto the next. He looked up as the newcomer with only one arm walked in, but he soon returned to the book. Or perhaps, tome was more appropriate as it was nearly as big as the man's chest.

*******************

A one armed wizard. Interesting, and here I thought that a spell-caster needed to use both his hands generally for a spell to work. Or maybe Johnathan only did that becuase it helped him cast the spell faster. Turning to the next page, Ben frowned. Hmm...this sounds sort of what I'm looking for...but not quite. The man sighed and closed the tome, getting up and placing it back on the shelf near the entrance to the library.

So far, that one wizard hadn't come back yet. He had told Ben that he would inform those above him of Ben's purpose for being here, then he would return with their answer. Ben wasn't too comfortable with it, as he had intended on revealing the information himself to those whom it concerned, but he understood that this wasn't his sanctuary and his presence here was probably redundant, since these spell-flingers probably already knew they were dead anyways.

Hmm... Lets see History of the Dwarfs... Already tried that one. History of the Underdark Was it even called the Underdark then? Ooooh, here we go! Ben reaches out and picks up a book labeled The Beginnings of the first Dwarf Nation Opening the book, he started thumbing through the much smaller book, not even bothering to go back to his seat, his back to the newcomer and the woman.
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Unread 12th of March, 2004, 02:36
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Taking in the sight of the woman before him appreciatively, Nicos reaches out and grasps the outstretched hand firmly.

"I didn't know my fame had reached so far," he says with a smile that seemed to turn on automatically.

With a small laugh the woman shakes her head. "I'm afraid to tell you, but it hasn't. I knew you by your arm."

Letting go of her hand, Nicos holds up his arm, as if appraising it by sight. "Well I must admit it is a fine looking arm. A rare specimen indeed, though I didn't know its fame had spread so far."

Her smile widening into a grin, Gemoud replies in the same vein of humour. "Oh yes, I've been a fan of it since I was a little girl. We used to gather around the fire at night, while tales of The Arm were told." Eyeing to bard mock-contemplatively. "I never did hear any about you though."

Laughing loudly, and momentarily disturbing the room, Nicos gives the woman a small bow. "Well said. 'Tis rare that you meet someone as quick of wit and humour out in the world these days. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I must confess I have an ulterior motive. I was sent out to find you and guide you around the Citadel if you so desired, and see to any of your needs. You did surprise me though, I was about to head over to your rooms to seek for you, when I find that you had already discovered me!" Reaching out and touching his arm she finishes, "Well we've found each other now, and you saved me a trip. So what can I do for you? A tour of the Citadel? Or around the Library perhaps, it would take just as long, as we have a extensive selection of books."

Loosing his smile for a moment, the bard looks at the woman as if considering something. Passing almost before it began, the man's smile is back on his face. "Truthfully I was just idling wondering around when I encroached upon this place of learning. Now however, I regret leaving the refectory behind so hastily. I find that Ive grown rather hungry. Will you do me the honour of escorting me back?"
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Unread 12th of March, 2004, 02:55
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The enchanted silverware performs it's duty under Blarth's entranced gaze. Shade watches with a bit less enthusiasm, though her stomach is certainly attentive.

"Fascinating."

She tries to keep the sarcasm out of her voice and is mostly successful. The half-orc is already hungrily eating the results of his experiment and Shade takes a moment to look around the room retrieving a plate and adding some bread, cheese, and fruit to it. The knives once again do their dance and she glances towards Blarth before taking a seat at one of the tables. Two decanters sit in front of her - one with water, the other wine - and she pours from the second as Blarth sits down.

The wine isn't bad, and she downs half a glass before nibbling at her bread, her eyes continuing to scan the room. They are the only ones present at the moment, and she wonders if they are early or late for dinner. The sound of amused voices accompanied by laughter pricks her ears up, and she recognizes the man's rich tone before he enters. It is, of course, Nicos though she doesn't know the red-headed woman he is with.

"We have company, though I'm not sure they'll be too happy about it."
  #19  
Unread 12th of March, 2004, 03:14
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Making pointless and amusing small talk on the trip back, Nicos enters the refectory and spies Shade and Blarth across the other side of the room. Leading Gemoud over, Nicos gives the pair a small nod.

"Gemoud, allow me to introduce my companions, Blarth and Shade. Shade, Blarth, this is Gemoud, one of the people who live here."

Pausing as if something just occurred to him, Nicos looks over at Shade. "Ah Shade, a thought just struck me, may I steal a moment of your time?"

Letting go of Gemoud's arm and reaching over for Shade, Nicos grasps the woman in what looks to be a casual hold, but is firm enough to brook no disobedience.

"If you will excuse us for a moment."

Before anyone objects, Nicos draws Shade out of the Refectory and towards their rooms. Sparing only a quick glance at the woman, and trusting to her usual taciturn nature to hold, Nicos freezes the smile on his face until both are inside the quarters assigned to him, and the door is safely shut.

Cutting off anything Shade might be about to say with an insistent gesture for silence, Nicos quickly goes through his gear until he retrieves a sheet of parchment, and some writing charcoal. Laying the parchment out on the table provided, the bard quickly scrawls a simple question.

'Have you checked your room for listening devices?'
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Last edited by itches; 12th of March, 2004 at 06:42.
  #20  
Unread 12th of March, 2004, 03:42
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Cadrius stands in front of the bathtub, looking a bit uncertain. Eyes move from the copper bath and roam to the rest of the room, searching for some place to draw water from. He walks to the door and opens it, sticking his head out into the hall. Blarth, Nicos, and Shade have are all out of sight. The door closes again and he turns back to his foe. All he wants is for some hot water to bathe and a mirror to shave with. Several days in the wilderness have left his face rough with black stubble; he can feel it each time he touches his face.

Sighing he walks over to the bed and sits on it --the mattress proving to be pleasantly soft-- and watches the bathtub, as if it might suddenly fill with water or scamper away on its copper feet. A minute passes, then two, and Cadrius pushes himself off the bed.

"Hot water and a mirror, is that so much to ask?" he mutters.

A noise comes from the top drawer of the bureau, distracting Cadrius from the bathtub. He slowly moves toward it, one foot placed cautiously in front of the other. One hand reaches out tentatively, brushing the wood of the drawer once. Neither electric death nor firey explosion greet his touch. Frowning, he opens the drawer only to find a fair sized hand mirror resting there. He pulls it out and looks at it in wonder. He turns back to the tub only to find it full of water, steam trailing off the surface.

Cadrius turns back to the bureau and closes the drawer. He tilts his head to the side and regards it.

"A thousand gold crowns, is that so much to ask?" he asks and opens the drawer. Nothing. He shrugs; it was worth a try.

Quickly undressing, the fallen paladin eases himself into the hot bath, finding the temperature to be almost perfect. It's neither scalding nor luke warm. He looks down at his body distored slightly beneath the surface of the water. Muscles look smaller, and his frame seems slight, almost twisted. The scars of a dozen skirmishes mark his skin and he runs a finger along them remembering each wound, some with pride, others with sorrow. He hskaes his head, weary from the ordeal of the past week. The warmth permeates more than just his muscles, it works its way into his psyche, his soul. He leans his head back against the side of the bathtub, closes his eyes and smiles.
  #21  
Unread 12th of March, 2004, 06:53
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Shade stares expressionlessly at the pair, her steel grey eyes betraying a hint of curiousity. She merely nods her head curtly at the introduction, draining the rest of her glass afterward. She is in the midst of pouring when she feels Nicos' hand on her shoulder, his fingers like talons. The glass pauses on it's way back to the table but only for an instant; she supresses her intstinctive retort and pretends that nothing is amiss.

"If you will excuse us for a moment."

She resists the urge to shake his hand off and instead waits for him to withdraw before she rises, setting her glass down untouched, and glances at Gemoud.

"Excuse me for a moment. Blarth will keep you company."

She turns away and follows Nicos.

"Damn bards."

Her irritation rises as he enters his room, motioning her to follow. She does and he quickly closes the door. For a moment, she is reminded of her suspicion when she found him in the wastes and beneath her cloak she lays a hand on a well worn hilt. She opens her mouth to vent but the bard cuts her off silently and with such urgency that she complies. Her eyes alternate between roving the room and watching his frantic scribbling. When he's done, she reads the message and looks at him gratingly. She merely shakes her head no. Her eyes bore into his own and she lifts her shoulders as if to say what the hell is all of this about?
  #22  
Unread 12th of March, 2004, 07:19
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A look a frustration crosses the bard's face as he turns back to the parchment, and hesitates over it. Quickly writing a few lines he shows it to her.

Be on guard. Warn the others. Need talk without being over heard. Gemoud is a lure. Find Cadogan'

Holding the paper long enough to make sure that Shade has read and understood the message, Nicos crumples it up in his hand and starts to sing a song in what is almost a whisper. In his hand, the parchment first reddens, and then turns to ash. Shattering the ashes in the fireplace so the contents of the parchment can't be retrieved, Nicos then turns and faces Shade, pointing to the other sheets of parchment, and tilting his head as if to enquire if she wants to use it.
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  #23  
Unread 12th of March, 2004, 07:38
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The fury inside her swells until she is sure that her body will simply explode and shower the bard in her dripping red anger. Vision clouds as the overwhelming tide sweeps her under; she squeezes her eyes shut and waits. The crimson waters recede, leaving her with clenched teeth and a white knuckled grip on her sword. She snatches the charcoal from Nicos with uncanny speed and precision and for a moment the bard thinks she might simply ball her fist around it and crush it into dust. She swiftly scrawls a few words and then thrusts the parchment before his eyes.

'Where can we speak freely?'
  #24  
Unread 12th of March, 2004, 07:55
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Reading the message, Nicos shuts his eyes and tries to think.

Our rooms are out of the question, as it is the most likely place for them to spy on us. No we need somewhere in an open public place, yet where we can have some measure of privacy. Maybe a park or some sort of garden or ...

Snapping open his eyes, Nicos reaches for the parchment and writes a single word.

'Library.'

Stoping to think for a few more moments, he adds more.

'Get Cadrius, meet me in refectory. Eat, then go there. I'll get rid of Gemoud once there. Be nice.'

Shooting Shade a warning look, and underlining the last sentence, Nicos then destroys the sheet of parchment like the last one.
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  #25  
Unread 12th of March, 2004, 08:01
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Be nice indeed.

Resisting the urge to throttle the bard as she reads his message. Silently fuming, she nevertheless waits until he is done destroying it before indicating the door. He opens it and she exits, moving without immediately to Cadrius' room. Her hand pauses as she is about to knock, her eyes refusing to speculate on the symbols flashing before her. What was she going to say? Whatever. The sooner they were out of here the better. She raps on the door sharply.

"Cadrius? Can I come in for a moment?"
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