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  #26  
Unread 6th of August, 2011, 20:42
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Bailey eyes the tray of fruit somewhat suspiciously. Apples, pears, some little round purple things. Nothing here that she has a particular hankering for. She holds out hope for a hot drink with a shot of something bracing in it.

The fire is nice. She lets the cozy warmth seep into her, and at last begins to feel the damp and the chill being lifted from her spirit. They have come to a good place after all. The grumpy old butler is not really any more cantankerous than your average servant rousted out of his routine by unexpected visitors. And Colonel Muntab is probably not as overbearing as he seemed at first. She can almost forget the strange shadow in the hallway.

Almost.

"Do come and have a seat by the fire," she suggests to the others, changing her mind about the fruit and popping one of the little round purple things into her mouth. "It is quite comforting after the storm and the long day of travel."
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  #27  
Unread 7th of August, 2011, 14:20
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No sooner had Bailey finished speaking to the others, then a familiar scent washed over her. Turning back to the fire, she spotted a small kettle handing near it, warming and giving forth the distinctive smell of mead.
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Unread 8th of August, 2011, 02:17
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"Oh look, hot spiced mead!"

Bailey jumps up and reaches for the steaming kettle. "I was just thinking about a warm drink! I- " and she freezes with her hand outstretched.

This kettle was NOT here a moment ago when we came in.

And thinking back, she is almost positive that the fruit on the table next to her chair wasn't either.

She takes a step back and looks around the room. Chairs. Tables. Rugs. Tapestries. Candles. Fireplace. Convenient tray of fruit. Even more convenient kettle of mead.

"There's something funny going on here... " she mutters, shaking her head. Then she has an idea.

"You know what would be really great right now?" she says to no-one in particular. "A couple of meat pies from the pantry, and maybe a hunk of sharp cheese." She glances quickly around the room again, just in case another platter of delicacies should suddenly appear out of nowhere. Then she looks expectantly toward the door. She's willing to bet that when the grumpy butler returns he'll be bearing a serving tray of meat pies and cheese from the kitchen.
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  #29  
Unread 3rd of September, 2011, 00:00
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The Colonel's quick glance in her direction finds Rina staring back at him, a slight smile on her face, apparently unaware of his true identity. He'd given her signal enough, of course, but let him at least wonder for now. Outing him to their host seemed unlikely to send the correct message. Beating him bloody and hurling his trinkets into the wood was more appealing, but she wasn't quite decided on that route either.

She turns and smiles at Bailey's food observations, not entirely sure what she was getting at. Yet something in the other woman's eyes sobers her and Rina finds herself wondering again at the shadow that seemed to stalk them down the hall. It seemed unlikely to have anything to do with Rutiles but anything was possible. Shifting slightly, she look over at him.

"What brings you here, Colonel?"
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  #30  
Unread 17th of September, 2011, 21:47
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The Colonel glanced at the same in synch with Bailey, but quickly looked away when Rina spoke.

“I had been campaigning with the 3rd, trying to crush the last of Guitian resistance – fearful chaps in a scrap ha ha – when I was summoned back to Kitch. We didn't want to spare the men, so I set off alone. I used to be quite the woodsmen in my youth, I could track a cat across a wooden floor. But to tell the truth I seem to be a bit rusty at it, because when I got to these hills I had seemed to have lost my way. Then that beastly storm came out of nowhere but I stumbled across this happy place, and met you ha ha.”

The evening past tolerably well, the odd happenings Bailey had noticed either stopped and continued under her notice, and with only a small prompting Colonel Muntab regaled them with tales of glorious war in his over-loud, cheerfully blunt voice. At no point in all that time, as far as Rina could tell from close observation, did Rutiles break character.

It was still before midnight when the aged manservant reappeared, shambling into the room with an angry gait and moving to douse the candles until the fireplace was the only source of illumination left.

“The hour is late and your rooms are ready,” the man said to the room in general once he was finished. “Follow me and I'll show them to you.”

Without waiting to see if anyone was obeying, he strode from the room followed closely by the Colonel.
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  #31  
Unread 5th of October, 2011, 04:13
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Bailey had allowed herself to get caught up in the Colonel's stories, and appeared to have forgotten about the sudden and strange appearance of the victuals. (Still, she had declined tasting the spiced mead or sampling any more of the fruit.) It wasn't a bad evening for the most part, although her opinion of the Colonel hadn't changed much.

But as the old butler leads them toward their rooms, Bailey hangs back a bit, motioning for Yavan and Rina to keep pace with her.

"Have you seen any more sign of that shadow?" she whispers, with an eye looking up at the windows as they passed beneath them. "I don't know that I like the idea of staying the night now. Did you hear the old Blowhard? He lost his way in the hills... Doesn't that seem strange to you? Those old campaigners don't get lost!"

Actually, her arguments aren't very convincing and she knows it. A shadow... mysterious appearing food... a sudden storm. It all adds up to nothing really. But Bailey has a feeling that something isn't right here. She folds her arms across her chest, stubbornly insisting that the three of them discuss it.

"I think at the least that we ought to keep a watch tonight, and not all sleep at the same time. What do you say?"
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  #32  
Unread 7th of October, 2011, 04:46
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"Not here," Rina whispers back to Bailey with a shake of her head. She motions the others onward, trailing just behind as they follow the old man to their rooms. She is careful to note which room the Colonel is in as she politely nods her good nights. Afte both men have gone, she looks at her companions.

"So, rooms for each of us. I would like to bunk with you instead, Bailey, if you do not mind. Why don't we practice in Yavan's room this evening for a short while; it has been some time since we've had adequate accomodation."

When they have gathered, Rina motions for Yavan to begin a tune. She nods then to Bailey, hoping that the music will at least muffle the sound of their conversation.

"You are right, things here are very much wrong. But I will start with the least of the strangeness - our friend the Colonel. I know him. Or rather, I met him when he was falsely pretending to be a drunk nobleman."

Here she looks at Yavan.

"You will remember the Telpac Gala. At the party after our performance, he was pretending to be a man by the name of Rutiles, but he is a conman and a thief. Yet if he is truly a traveller here, then I am not so worried by his presence. The shadow we saw frightens me."

I have not forgotten.
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  #33  
Unread 16th of October, 2011, 00:58
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Bailey agrees whole-heartedly with Rina's suggestion that they bunk together. It would be a good opportunity for them to talk a bit - Bailey has been extremely curious about Rina and Yavan's past adventures, and the little hints and references she's picked up so far have done nothing but whet her appetite for the full story.

And of course, the two of them together stand a better chance of fending off any strange shadows than either one of them alone.

Yavan's playing, meant only as a cover for their conversation, is divine nonetheless. It takes Bailey back to her days at the college studying musical theory. She had never enjoyed the study, but she fondly recalls the students, especially those with elvish blood, and their love of producing fine music. She almost regrets that she hadn't stuck with it herself.

She is surprised to learn that Rina recognized the Colonel and that he is not what he seems. "A conman? Really?" An interesting twist. "It makes more sense then, that he'd become lost in his travels," Bailey muses. But wouldn't such a person be especially alert and careful of his surroundings? Is it possible that he'd also noticed something strange about the manor but hadn't mentioned it?

A sudden squirming about her wrist and a very soft "ssss-chirp" lets Bailey know that Treasure is awake. The tiny air-snake had crawled up her sleeve shivering and promptly fallen asleep as soon as the storm had begun. She hadn't heard a peep out of him since.

Oh great. I hope he's not going to be up all night getting into things.

But the air-snake only darts out and hovers in the air unobtrusively near Yavan's instrument. Evidently, the tiny creature has an appreciation of fine music also. The discussion continues unimpeded.

"Yes, I agree about the shadow. What I know of such things is enough to frighten the boldest. But we may be jumping to conclusions. I can't think of any good reason for someone to be up at the window in the middle of such a storm, but there could be some kind of rational explanation that does not include incorporeal, life-sucking creatures of shadow. I just can't think what it could be."
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  #34  
Unread 19th of October, 2011, 05:57
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Rina looks uncomfortably at Yavan as Bailey casually mentions shadows that might drain your life. They had slain Sanguis, it was true, but in the aftermath the acrobat had learned a bit more of Yavan's past.

Biate

The name still sounded strange in her mind, the idea of this dying god echoed stranger still in her heart. He had been attacked before, by the enemies of Biate. Enemies known as the Shadows. Had they found him once more? It seemed far more likely than the duo stumbling on a second horror infested manse in such short order.

Rina gazes without focus on Treasure as the winged snake hovers, humming-bird like, near Yavan's lute. If they were in danger because of their past then Bailey should know. She clears her throat softly.

"I do not believe in such coincidences, not in these days. I fear . . . I fear that it is possible these things are hunting us, but I know nothing for certain. Yavan?"

The elf continues playing softly, but his eyes are clear and cold and stony, and she is drawn into those twin amber tunnels, seeing there the utter depth of his concentration and strength and purpose. He does not look away or falter in his craft, yet he nods the barest of fractions. Rina beckons Bailey closer, and in a whisper tells her what little she knows of Biate and his enemies, and how Yavan is himself an unwilling servitor.
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  #35  
Unread 6th of November, 2011, 00:16
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Bailey sits cross-legged on the bed in her Chindian silk pyjamas. The candles on the bedside table are burning down. The rain continues to drum on the windows outside with a steady, lulling rhythm. Her eyelids are beginning to grow heavy indeed, but she is unwilling to succumb to sleep just yet. She squints at Rina sitting in a chair by the heavily draped window, noting that the other woman's eyelids seemed to be drooping as well.

"I should have asked the old butler to bring us some klava," Bailey says, stifling a yawn. "Sitting around and doing nothing is draining the life out of me!"

Poor choice of words, she thinks, reminded of the shadow and tales of Biate and other things. She shudders.

"Let's do something. What did the old guy say? We have the run of this wing of the place unless the door is locked, and then us "no-good, thieving kids" should stay out. Isn't that how he put it? I wonder if your friend Rutiles locked his door... Do you want to go check out his room? We could pay him a surprise visit. Or we could just go exploring the old place."

Bailey jumps up off the bed, her eyes glinting with mischief. "I feel livelier already. Come on, let's go!"
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  #36  
Unread 17th of November, 2011, 03:51
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Rina was in fact wide awake, listening to the storm lash in fury at the world without. The storm scent was strong by the window and she drank it in with wonder, even after her years away from the sands of her home. Nature's wrath in all of its forms was something to behold, and all the better to do so from a safe, dry vantage. She looks sideways at Bailey as the other stretches like a cat and jumps up from bed, suddenly ready for an adventure. Rina purses her lips at Bailey's last suggestion, a sudden thought striking her. She rises, flexing her calves and stretching her arms high.

"A surprise visit? Now that is a thought."

Leading the way, she left the room and paused in the hall, listening intently. A dim light came from Yavan's room but it was elsewise quiet, indicating that perhaps he was in his reverie. She grins wickedly at Bailey and pads to Rutiles' door, her hand poised to knock.

"Now, whatsoever happens just follow along," she whispers quietly, "and we shall see what we shall see."

So saying, she taps lightly on the door and then stands back and runs her fingers lightly through her hair.
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  #37  
Unread 25th of November, 2011, 23:23
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As Rina fixed her hair, there was no response from the room Rutiles had disappeared into earlier, despite the stream of light flowing around the cracks of the door. A minute later and another knock and it became clear that either there was no one within, or they were ignoring the knocks.

Turning to say something to Bailey, Rina caught a glimpse of movement behind her companion, a shadow within a shadow, black laid across black. Feigning picking a bit of dirt from Bailey's shoulder, Rina let her eyes drift across the space.

Now that she knew where to look, it only took moments to separate the shades in the darkness and reveal Rutiles leaning casually against the wall, deep within a shadow, watching them, clad from foot to neck in black, and with the skin of his face greyed out somehow. For all that the thief and confidence man was just casually standing there, without knowing where to look he was effectively invisible. If not for his momentary stirring, they may have never seen him.
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  #38  
Unread 30th of November, 2011, 05:51
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Rina allows herself a small pout as she brushes an imaginary speck of dust from Bailey's shoulder. In her belly, a bright little flame of revenge springs up as she sees the object of her search, leaning so smugly in the shadows.

"It would seem he is indisposed at the moment. A pity."

She turns to leave, putting herself a step closer to the thief, stilling her heartbeat, letting ice flow through her veins. And then she explodes into action, closing the distance between them in the blink of an eye, her strong limbs twining sinuously about the rogue, pinioning him in her grasp.

<OOC: Grapple at +9>
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  #39  
Unread 30th of November, 2011, 22:04
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Rutiles moved fast enough to blur into indistinctness against the darkness as Rina leapt at him, but the acrobat had the element of surprise and advantage of training, and it was only the work of moments before the thief was on the floor with his arms and legs immobilised.

Almost immediately, the man relaxed into Rina' grip, managing to turn his head towards Bailey, flashing a handsome smile with teeth that gleamed white.

"Sweetheart," he said in a voice dripping amusement and devoid of any trace of Colonel Muntab. "If you wanted me in your embrace so bad, you just had to ask."
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Unread 2nd of December, 2011, 23:44
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Rina's sudden attention to invisible dust motes puzzles Bailey, but then she catches just the barest flicker in the other woman's eyes - an almost-glance at the space behind Bailey - and then the slightest tensing of muscles.

Rina turns to leave and Bailey is even more confused, because she hadn't even tried the door to see if it was locked, and weren't they going to try to sneak inside if the Colonel - er, Rutiles - wasn't there?

But before Bailey can question her, Rina seems to just vanish, and a sudden commotion erupts behind her back. She whirls around to see Rina struggling with a shadow, but no, it is actually Rutiles, and there is no struggle now at all because the conman is laid out flat on the floor and Rina is on top of him, pinning him in place.

"Good show!" Bailey exclaims, leaning down to make sure that Rutiles can see that his handsome smile had no effect on her. She grins at him. "Hello again, Colonel! Nice night, eh what?"

Then she stands at the ready in case Rina needs her help with anything.
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  #41  
Unread 4th of December, 2011, 02:50
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Rina's eyes narrow at his blithe rebuttal and she seems almost on the verge of action, but Bailey's words bring a sardonic smile to her face. After a moment, she purses her lips and then, seeming to make some decision, hauls Rutiles to his feet and slides behind him while simultaneously maintaining her hold.

"I seem to recall you were the one leering over me after the Telpac Gala. But enough foolishness - we are far from Anorev; why are you here?"
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  #42  
Unread 4th of December, 2011, 17:45
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The man let Rina hurl him around, remaining passive within her arms

"Ah sweetheart, I couldn't risk the offence of refusing a gift so eagerly displayed for offer. But fine, let's be serious."

Bailey was in a position to witness the gleaming smile slip from the man's face, his brows drop and his cheeks relax before speaking, his voice changing again into a third voice and new accent, this one hard and low.

"I'm here for the same reason you are, and I've put too much effort into this job to walk away now or risk tripping over you and fouling the entire thing. But here you are, so we work together and split it, half each way."
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  #43  
Unread 12th of December, 2011, 00:31
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Bailey is thinking fast.

He thinks we're here for the same reason that he is, which is a "job" of some kind, a "job" he's worked hard for and doesn't want us to come along and screw up; so he says he's willing to work with us on it, and split everything half and half. HA! Does he think we're fool enough to believe THAT?

Meanwhile, she tries to make sure that she doesn't let on that she has no idea why Rutiles is here or what kind of job he is talking about, though she is wracking her brain to try and figure it out.

She looks at Rina for a clue about what to do next, but Rina is good at keeping her expression blank. Bailey has to admire her for that! Well, back at the beginning she had agreed to follow Rina's lead, which in this case seems to mean acting tough and not giving anything away.

Act tough? Hard to do in slippers and pyjamas! She has a dagger tucked in her waistband, but she's not sure she wants to go so far as to take it out and threaten Rutiles with it. In the end she just stands there with her hands on her hips, scowling at him with as much menace as she can muster.
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  #44  
Unread 15th of December, 2011, 05:40
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Rina sneers and gives the man in her grasp a little shake, trying to hide the fact that she has no idea what he is talking about. Given what she knew of the man, he would never believe they were here by coincidence. Yet at the same time, she had little inclination to go along when she had no idea of the prize or the stakes.

"Ha! You know less than you think. Why would we need you along?"
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  #45  
Unread 29th of December, 2011, 22:06
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"Maybe you don't, any more than I need you sweetheart," Rutiles said dropping back to his previous, amused accent.

"Maybe I just can't resist the lure of your company. Or are we going work against each other, two thieves playing games in the night? Well two thieves and some hanger-ons with bardic pretensions," the last added with a sidelong look at Bailey.

"Does your elf know what your upta yet sweetheart? I'm guessing that's why you dumped your old escort for this one. Not as pretty as the brunette, but she seems more ... playful, so I guess it works out.

"Either way, this hall ain't no place for this conversation so do you wanna let me go?"
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  #46  
Unread 24th of January, 2012, 00:29
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Bailey rolls her eyes.

"Ugh! Rina, you should just knock him out so we won't have to listen to any more of his stupid talk."

And what stupid talk! "Hanger-ons with bardic pretensions..." ? "Not as pretty as the brunette... "? Not as pretty?? That last one kind of sticks in her craw. Not that she cares. She is certainly not one to fuss over how she looks, and is aware that she's no raving beauty. But it's aggravating to have it pointed out so rudely. What does 'pretty' or 'not pretty' have to do with anything anyway?

He's just trying to get under my skin, distract me.

So. She must focus on the important thing here, which is - figuring out what this smart ass is up to. Rutiles has more info than she and Rina do, he's got the upper hand, even if he is (or was a moment ago) flat on his face. They need to even the odds a little bit.

"Wait, Rina," she says, stopping the bard before she can tighten her choke hold. "You're right, of course, we probably don't need him. But... it wouldn't hurt to compare notes, see if he can offer up some bit of information to prove his usefulness.

"For starters," she continues, turning back to the conman. "Tell us what you know about our host. Let's see if you're as smart as you think you are. We can talk in our room."
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  #47  
Unread 24th of January, 2012, 07:30
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Bailey's quick thinking covers Rina's momentary indecision about what to do next. Exacting some sort of revenge on Rutiles had been her initial thought, but the little bit of information he'd just let slip had her wondering now if that wouldn't just complicate everything. At any rate, the hall was indeed a bad place to be standing.

When Bailey opens the door, Rina hauls the unresisting thief inside. Once they cross the threshold she releases him and smiles, taking care to position herself opposite Bailey with Rutiles between them.

"Please, impress us with your knowledge."
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  #48  
Unread 26th of January, 2012, 00:36
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The interior of Bailey's room was larger than some homes, the massive canopied bed, carpeted rugs and tapestries lay uneasily across the grey stone like a fine silks forced onto a common solider. A score of candles lit the room gently while filling the corners with ominous shadows, and the fading scent of several now cool meat pies hung in the room from where they sat on a platter with a hunk of cheese. A haunting melody drifted, faint through the walls and door from where the pair had left Yavan.

Rutiles stumbled forward when released from Rina's grip, catching his balance just short of impacting with Bailey. From her unexpected close vantage she was able to see a dark look flitter across his face before amusement re-affixed itself, he straightened up and turned his back on her, somehow managing to make the movement seem a deliberate snub.

“Dragged into a bedchamber by two ... ladies?” Rutiles asked, fixing his eyes on Rina and stepping forward until he was closer to her than Bailey. “I might blush sweetheart But you wanna play the 'I'm innocent' game? That's 'kay, I like games.

“What do I know about our host? Not much, though' I knew plenty but then I get here and well - 'nough said right? But if you wanna play the innocent girl, let's go further. How 'bout I tell your innocent-girl ears a story.

“Once upon a time there was a man, making his way across the Freelands all innocent like when he stops at a town for supplies and what does he see there, but a farmer selling rubies.”

Without seeming to do anything to make it appear, something red appeared between the conman's fingers as he held it up for the others to see. Something red that shined across its faceted surface. A ruby half the size of his thumb. He closed his hand around it a moment later and it was gone.

“Needless to say this got my – got this innocent man's attention and he decided to look into it. I mean a farmer, selling bloody rubies? It took some doing, but eventually our man tracks this farmer back to a village in the arse-end of nowhere, and there’s more damn rubies in the place than lies in a whore's promise.

“That's where things get really tricky for our man sweetheart He wants to know more, but these little villages? Everyone knows everyone, hell most of them are related three or four ways see. So he drifts through the village a few times, all careful like and gets the lay of the land.

“Turns out the village has a Lord, only he ain't act very Lord like. Doesn't tax the the folk, doesn't send his men out to round up the women, nuthin' except sitting up in his little castle. Fact is no one has seen him for decades, and the only reason anyone knows he's still around is that every now and again a servant comes down to the village to buy stuff. Servants who always pay with rubies.

“Now this left our man in a bind. Seems he found where the rubies where coming from, but he still only has half the tale. Takes some more digging, more time and more gold, but he slowly pieces the rest of it togetha, and it weren't easy let me tell you, picking it out of all the horseshit peasant rumours about the kidnapped virgins and demons being summoned in the castle.

“Seems this Lord, back when he was young was a schoolar, his old grandpa was some war hero who stole gold and jewels by the shipload, so the young Lord can afford to go off to some big city to learn from some Master he finds there. Was making something of himself too, according to those in the know, but he makes a mistake and gets all messed up with a married woman. Now this wouldn't be a problem, them being open to things in the big city that they ain't out on the farm, only it goes wrong somehow.

“Some say he asked her to marry him and she said no. Some say she fell in love and was carrying his babe, but he was just playing and wants nothing to do with her or it. Some say she was a witch and tried to steal his soul. Anyway it goes down, there's this big fight and a house gets set on fire. The lord abandons his studies to run back home with his tail between his legs and a few days after this lady packs up her servants and leaves too. Was the biggest bit of scandal for almost a month.

“And this Lord has been out here ever since, 'bout forty years now, hiding away in the middle of nowhere with enough family gold to not need to tax these poor farmers. Took our innocent man better part of a year to put it all together and soon after Colonel Muntab, upstanding member of the uppercrust, is travelling nearby when he has the bad luck to be caught in one of them seasonal storms they have in these parts that always last a day or two.

“Only as luck would have it, the Colonel spots this here castle nearby where he can go and beg shelter.”

Rutiles performance was masterful, the rough working class accent had slipped a touch at times when he got carried away, but on the whole, the thing had a subtle touch of the dramatic that caught you up in it. Whether it was true was another question.

“I'm sure none of this sounds familiar to you, poor innocent girl that you are,” the conman said, flashing a white smile at Rina.
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Unread 2nd of February, 2012, 05:56
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Rina smiles back in apparent comradery, yet the pleasant playfulness of the expression does not reach her dark eyes. The man was a serpent, truly.

"Well, I will say it is not at all familiar to me - it is quite an interesting tale you tell, and you tell it quite easily," she responds, pausing dramatically before continuing, "except for the ridiculousness I might even believe it. The man buying turnips with rubies! Who is such a fool?"

She glances to Bailey and then back to Rutiles, her smile changing into a smirk.

"Unless, of course, you can show some proof to back your clever tongue."
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Unread 17th of February, 2012, 05:44
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Bailey frowns. Rutiles' too-glib performance reeks of insincerity, and his overall smarminess is beginning to make her feel ill. But she is surprised to find that part of his outlandish story does sound somewhat familiar to her. A wealthy young scholar... In one of the big southern cities, wasn't it? Gets himself involved with a married woman and... ? Something about a fire and him running back home. What was the name? She thinks hard, but can't come up with anything more.

"Well, I admit," Bailey tells Rina, still running the story over in her mind, "that I've heard some of this before. Father's students used to tell the tale of the lord scholar and seemed to believe in most of it."

She turns to Rutiles. "So you're saying that this place is the home he ran back to? They say he never got over the humiliation... "

Back to Rina. "Well, I've never heard stories of rubies or jewels, but the man in question was said to have inherited a great deal of treasure." Bailey's eyes gleam as she says this. "Treasure from all over! Old, old things. Ancient, even. Why-" She stops herself.

What is wrong with me?

This is someone's home, after all, not a ruins or an archeological dig. They were supposed to be pretending to go along with Rutiles to get more information, not actually go along with him. How had she let herself get caught up in his story?

On the other hand, was it dangerous to let on to him that they were not also here to do a job? Had she already given them away by saying too much? Bailey narrows her eyes as she looks back at the conman. What is he thinking? Casually, she runs her hand along the waistband of her pyjamas to readjust her dagger and ...

"It's gone!" She glares at Rutiles, remembering how he had nearly collided with her when Rina shoved him into the room.

"Rina, he stole my dagger!!"
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