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  #26  
Unread 16th of March, 2004, 03:17
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"If it's innocents this deity protects I fear I shall be left out of its embrace," Yavan says, eyeing the medallion.

He frowns at the strange tongue the gnome utters and gives the gnome a look, trying to discern the emotion behind the phrase. It certainly isn't a language that Yavan knows, that much is certain. He also doesn't like the hesitant look on the gnome's face, but he does feel the slightest bit of satisfaction. At the very least the others were beginning to feel his apprehension. If nothing else they would be more cautious.

But will that be enough? The thought taunts him, but he mentally shrugs it off. If he listened to every thought of death and foreboding he never would have left his somber home. He frowns at the thought, was he really that melancholic?

"We have two choices. We stay true to our word and perform, garnering the potential favor of a nobleman in the process, or we flee and deal with the potential damage to our collective reputations. We could always leave should this Sanguis prove to be...less than hospitable."
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Unread 16th of March, 2004, 05:04
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"My own reputation has little enough to fear, Anpu."

Rina has a smile on her face as the words escape her lips. She had no reputation; she was talented to be sure but nowhere near as exceptional as Yavan. Nor had she tried to make a name for herself, content to provide a complement to the elf's own skill. The real passion of her art was in acrobatics and contortion, not music, but those skills were not in demand in this area of the world and she kept her talent mostly hidden.

She could see the irritated look on Yavan's face as she called him by the pet-name she'd given him shortly after their meeting. Rina had never told him it's meaning, and as the word had no formal definition in her home tongue, even Korbi hadn't heard it before.

"We will play for this Baron and see what we will see. I have not trekked all this way through rain and cold to be scared off by the first person we meet."
  #28  
Unread 16th of March, 2004, 05:15
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Korbi looks at the woman before nodding, looking to Yavan. "I agree, though I would err on the side of caution, just to be safe. I didn't come through the rain to be killed by the second person we meet, either."

He grins and shrugs, taking out his flute as the trio ride onwards towards the Baron's keep, playing it in a joyful jig, or at least the best version he can while riding atop a small horse.
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  #29  
Unread 19th of March, 2004, 08:19
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Putting the medallion away, and the incident out of mind, the companions continue on their travels to the Baron's estates. Though the clouds seem to hand lower, as if threatening the Bards personally with a tremendous downpour, the threat is not followed through and they arrive several hours later as dry as when they left.

The Baron's home rests on the side of what could almost be a mountain. Several buildings extrude from the rocky exterior at odd intervals, showing that there are passages through the hillside. A small river runs down through the various towers, buildings and windows, guided by some strategically places canals forms a daunting looking moat, though the effectiveness of it would be hampered by several heavy old stone bridges that would make for easy crossing.

Over all it gives the impression of a mansion turned into a fortress, and then turned back into a mansion again.

Making for the lowest entrance, the performers pass through a sturdy archway that shows signs of once having had a gate of some sort, long since removed. Inside is a small courtyard, the middle of which stands a man. A short man, looking past the prime of his life, with what little hair left on his head shot through with grey. Muscular, the first impression is of a wrestler who has retired, though could still go a round or two if he wished. This is in direct contrast to his rich clothing, and the intelligence that can be seen in his eyes.

As the bards dismount, the man comes forward.

"Greetings, my name is Janus Brodier. The Baron is currently indisposed and begs your forgiveness for not being here to greet you himself. I am to see your needs for the time being."
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  #30  
Unread 25th of March, 2004, 02:08
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"We're walking right into the spider's web," Yavan mutters, eyeing the manor-turned-fortress-turned-manor. The normally gloomy elf somehow feels an even greater sense of foreboding than he had but a day earlier. Things here look too old and too menacing to be of comfort to him. The appearance of Janus does little to quell his concerns either.

The Baron is indisposed, but he will be delighted to kill you later, he thinks, his mind deluged by grim thoughts. Still, he manages to put on a cordial demeanor and greets the man appropriately.

"Good afternoon, Master Brodier. I am Yavan a'Nyere, and these are my friends and fellow performers, Korbi Hilldigger and Rina Semarkhet. We look forward to putting on a show at this feast."
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Unread 26th of March, 2004, 07:55
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"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintence."

Rina steps forward and takes the Brodier's hand, smiling enigmatically at him.

"This is a most impressive estate. I am very much looking forward to meeting the Baron. I hope he is well."

Her voice makes the last sentence into a question as she moves gracefully beside the caretaker, sliding her arm through his as she does so and obviously waiting for him to lead her inside. She is somewhat impressed by Yavan's valiant attempt to hide his unease; it might even have succeeded. Then again, Brodier didn't seem like a fool and she allows herself to hope that an attractive woman on his arm might make the caretaker less apt to notice anything else.
  #32  
Unread 30th of March, 2004, 13:36
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Appearing to overlook the elf's trepidation, Brodier smiles down at the woman on his arm.

"If you leave your animals here, I'll see to it that they are stabled and cared for."*

Leading the group away into the mansion, the man leads them through several well made, and illuminated passages, large enough that not even a twinge of claustrophobia is felt. Arriving in a courtyard, Brodier indicates 3 of the doors leading off in different directions.

"These will be your quarters for your stay here. This wing has been converted over to your use." Indicating a 4th door. "There is a small dinning hall, where some fruit and bread has been provided, and a small kitchenette off from that if you would prefer to prepare your own meals. There are no servants, as the Baron prefers his privacy, so you will need to serve yourself I'm afraid. There is also a bathhouse in this wing, which can have hot water piped up into it."

Smiling at the woman on his arm faintly, and disengaging himself from her, the Baron's man starts to leave.

"Feel free to explore the residence on your own, you are to make yourself as comfortable as possible. However if you come across a locked door, leave it be. It is locked for a reason. Also if you find yourself in need of my aid, there are numerous ropebells** which if pulled will alert me to your needs, and I will be there as soon as I may. Now if you excuse me I have other tasks to attend to."

Departing before any of the bards can say a word, and leaving them feeling slightly bewildered from the long list of instructions, the group looks at each other and at their well furnished surroundings.


ooc

*If any of you wish to stable your own mount, we’ll pretend that you did that before Brodier lead you away.

**One of those ropes that hang along the wall, and people pull them to summon servants, I can’t recall what they are called.
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  #33  
Unread 2nd of April, 2004, 02:46
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Yavan continues to pay the proper courtesy to the assistant of the baron. The man's courtesy does nothing to disarm his suspision or worry, but social customs demanded that a certain level of respect be paid and Yavan would be damned if he broke it now without proof.

The presence of locked doors sets off alarms within his head. He understands the concept of not wanting guests wandering and violating the Baron's privacy, but it's yet another worrisome quality about Sanguis and his estate.

Put it out of your mind. It is foolish to become so worried about something that you have no evidence for. He hasn't tried to kill us yet and likely won't.

Having a hot bath drawn, the elf attempts to wash his paranoia away. It doesn't quite work, but there's something about soaking in a warm tub of water that makes a man, or in this case an elf, feel remarkably better. He emerges refreshed and knocks on the doors of Korbi and Rina.

"Care to take a stroll about the estate?"
  #34  
Unread 2nd of April, 2004, 04:25
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Rina's door does not open on the first knock, nor on the second. Several long moment pass before her voice is heard. Instead of coming from her room, though, it comes from the courtyard. Rina strolls in an instant later, looking clean and refreshed, wearing a dress of red silk that leaves her attractively muscled arms bare. Her dark auburn hair is not pulled back as it has been much of the time over the past few weeks, instead hanging loose and flowing about her face and shoulders.

"I have looked around a little; it seems the Baron rarely entertains guests. But a stroll sounds nice."
  #35  
Unread 2nd of April, 2004, 23:49
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The gnome revels in the chance to wash the grime and dirt from his small frame, pouring himself a hot bath to soak in for a good while. He dressed himself in a spare outfit, brown breeches and a red silken shirt, with brown boots and a brown toga-style robe, his hair still wetly matted about his head, and steps out of the bath house and into the hallway, where he notices the pair standing out front of his door.

"My dear lady and gentleman, it would be a pleasure to escort such wonderful company about this fine, if not empty, abode." He smiles warmly, and anyone would think he'd had a more sheltered and noble upbringing by the way he dresses and speaks at the moment.
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  #36  
Unread 19th of April, 2004, 01:56
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Strolling about the wing, the trio encounter much that is of little note or interest. A dozen or so locked doors, and a plethora of dusty, seemingly abandoned rooms of undeterminable purpose. Also amongst the common, are the noteworthy and outstanding, such as the formal dining area with a breath taking vista of the plains to the west, an impressive auditorium, no doubt the reason the companions were housed in this wing, and an extensive library of several thousand books, with one of the mysteriously locked doors in it.

It is in the library that the bards find themselves several hours later, and shortly before sunset when Brodier reappears.

"The Baron has returned from his duties, and has extended an invitation to dine with him. As is his habit of dining early, the hour is upon us, and he would ask that you in the west dining area," The man says cutting straight to the point.

Escorting them to the dining hall in their wing, the group finds that the table has been set, and the food made ready unknowns to them. Biding them to wait for a few moments until the Baron's arrival, the bards are captivated by the gorgeous sunset visible.

"Beautiful isn't it?"

An unknown voice cuts through their contemplation of the sunset, and the group turns to take in the new comer, and are immediately taken a back.

The man stands tall, just shy of 6 feet in hight, but his build is slim so it is not overpowering. Long, thick hair, as black as a raven's plumage match the deep set dark eyes, and greatly contrast the man's pale lips and complexion. These facts all go barely noticed however, for standing tall and upright in the crimson light that bathes him, the immediate impression of the man is of one who is covered in blood. Indeed the carmine light contrasts so well with his nearly white skin to make the creature seem fiendish in nature.

There is no doubt in the bard’s minds, that this at last is Baron Sanguis. Their host.

Smiling his guests, as they are monetarily struck dumb and still, it is all the companions can do to still a shiver of fear that runs up their back like the cold fingers of encroaching death, for the smile is one of evil, his canine teeth long and jagged for the rending of flesh. Surly this creature evil besotting would spring, and devour them while they were kept inanimate by its baleful glare! Even as the thoughts formed, the creature shifted his weight in preparation, and the certainty that they have but moments to live settles upon them all. Thoughts of long past loved ones, regrets and plans never come to frustration flee fleetingly through their minds almost too fast to comprehend, followed by wild and improbable plans to flee, attack, or hide!

And then the spell passes, and the vision falls from the bards eyes as the sun drops below the horizon, leaving them facing a tall man, thin and pale from the life of a scholar. Bathed in what is left of the ruddy sunlight, he smiles at them showing teeth that are starting to suffer from decay, a common enough aliment even amongst the wealthy.

Feeling deeply foolish and ashamed at the wild thoughts that crossed their minds in those few moments about the harmless and innocuous looking figure in front of them, no one speaks for a few moments longer.

Seeming not to notice, Sanguis continues, looking out at the last rays of the day.

"When my forbearers saw this view they thought only of the strategic value of it. It was their lost, for the sunsets are nothing if not magical. But I get ahead of myself, my name, as you have no doubt guessed, is Sanguis. I insist you call me by it, as I won't stand formality at a small dining such as this."
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  #37  
Unread 21st of April, 2004, 02:24
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Yavan isn't used to being afraid, his senses long since dulled from his time as a child. Yet this "man," this Sanguis seems to excel at stopping him in his tracks. Trepidation floods his senses, and a small voice within cries out, I knew it! His mind tells his muscles, more accustomed to plucking a lute than swinging a sword, to ready themselves for what will likely be the elf's fight of his life. They do not move; the only sign that they ever heard the command is a slight tremor amongst his fingers. He tries to prepare himself for death and finds himself afraid. Not now, he thinks, not like this.

And then nothing happens.

It's a curious sensation; one moment he's terrified, unable to move, and the next he's free. A wave of embarassment crashes over him and he almost dismisses it as a trick of the light, or his preconception of the Baron himself, almost. And yet there's something in the way the man moves, in his speech, that reminds him there was a reason for his sudden fear. Still, as with Janus there are courtesies that must be respected, and the elf bows his head in greeting.

"I am Yavan a'Nyere, and we welcome your hospitality."
  #38  
Unread 21st of April, 2004, 03:50
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The gnome, dressed in casual finery, feels his heart falter as it leaps into his throat and threatens to run into the nearest hallway in escape. As he prepares himself to utter a cantrip that may aid his newest companions to battle the fiend, he finds the spell wearing off his mind like water removing fresh paint from a canvas.

Sloughing off the final remnants of the illusion, he looks about him for the cause of the spell strong enough to pierce through even a will as strong as his own.
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Unread 27th of April, 2004, 00:47
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When she was a young girl in Inuwy-Ris, there were rumours of those neither dead nor alive that walk the night eternally, drinking the blood of the living. During the day, such yarns were held as the tales of old women, used to scare children into behaving. At night, when the hot desert sands cooled and the last light of the day had fled, it was harder to pretend there was no truth to the stories. The sands were old, and who knew what secrets it kept?

The stories had been forgotten, banished to some dusty corner of her mind, but now they leapt forward like a hunting beast. Her heart catches in her throat at the sight of the Baron, and for one long moment she is filled with superstitious dread, suddenly certain that this is the end for them all.

As the sun fails the moment passes, and she views the Sanguis for what he is: a human noble, remarkable only in his normalcy. She recovers well, smiling back at him and stepping forward past Yavan with a hand outstretched.

"Greetings, Sanguis, and thank you for the generous accomodations. I am Rinadjmere Semarkhet, but I insist you call me Rina."
  #40  
Unread 1st of May, 2004, 04:22
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As Rina speaks, a look of recognition crosses the Baron's eyes. Taking her hand "I that a trace of Khitae I hear in your voice Rina? I was there once, years ago."

Leading everyone to the dining table, the man takes a seat and indicates that everyone should do likewise.

"You'll have to serve yourself I'm afraid. The habit of some nobles to have others serve them seems the hight of arrogance to me. I've tried to make my dining table a place where everyone is equal. That's why I made it round, so that no on was sitting at the head. The downside offcourse is that someone inevitably missed out on the spectacular view, and alas, I've yet to think of a way to circumvent that niggling little detail."

The meal is an enjoyable one, the baron engaging his guests in pleasant, if meaningless small talk, while eating and drinking little himself, quoting an upset stomach and a long night of final preparations for the Feast ahead of him. At long last Sanguis stands.

"Come, the meal hour has long since past, and I can tarry here from desire of conversation no longer. Your road was long and you must be fatigued, besides I have work I should stop putting off. We will discuss the feast tomorrow. Janus will show you back to your quarters."

As if his name was a summoning, the bards turn to find Brodier standing quietly at the doorway.
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Unread 1st of May, 2004, 04:56
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"Your ears are astute; until these few years past, the whole of my life was spent in the Land of the Shifting Sands."

Her smile is genuine and she speaks to him cordially about the sights he saw in his visit that ancient land. Deeper down, she wonders once more about her first sight of the Baron and the superstitions of her elders. Years ago he said, but he seemed on the youthful side. How old was Sanguis?

The dinner continues cordially and she is pleased by the atmosphere, the food, and the view - which she can see quite well from her own vantage. Yet she notices that Sanguis -while polite, cordial and entertaining- refrains from all but the most superficial of topics. And then, almost abruptly, he declares their meal at an end. Janus appears and Rina rises gracefully, bowing to Sanguis and thanking him for the lovely dinner and conversation, though in truth she feels as though this dinner has done little to acquaint her with the host.

She takes Brodier's arm as they leave the dining room. After they have travelled for a short distance, she poses a question to the man.

"The Baron is a most charming man and worldly as well, it would seem. Did he do a great deal of travelling as a boy?"
  #42  
Unread 6th of May, 2004, 02:56
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It's hard to say which is more troubling, the lack of servants, or the shallow conversation. Sanguis' excuse for serving themselves is passable, but only barely. The elf wonders why the Baron doesn't take it one step further. Why not prepare the meals himself? Certainly having someone cook for you is arrogant as well. The conversation is bland as well, and that bothers the elf.
Then again, it's a rare day that Yavan isn't worried or troubled about something. When you live for centuries it's difficult to avoid the paranoia of an early death.

"Why not make it longer and form it into a half a circle?" he suggests, sipping at his wine. "It would at least allow everyone a view. And all would sit along the same side. I suppose it would dampen the effort of making everyone equal, however."

The Baron has an upset stomach, but must see to the feast?

"I hope you will feel better on the morrow, Baron. It would not do for your stomach to lessen your enjoyment of the feast."

The abrupt end is mildly disconcerting, but Yavan remains unphased. This entire situation is strange enough as it is, what's one more quirk?

Walking with Janus, Yavan waits for his companion's question to be answered before posing one of his own.

"Tell me, Janus. Who will be attending this feast? Any other nobles? Knights? Dignitaries from foreign lands? I would like to know who I am to play for so that my song selection can best suit the audience."
  #43  
Unread 8th of May, 2004, 01:55
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"The Baron is a most charming man and worldly as well, it would seem. Did he do a great deal of travelling as a boy?"

"Oh yes. When he was growing up, he was very fond of tales, partially those dealing with the original Sanguis. He was barely 17 winters old when he got it in his head to go out in the world and be a hero like his name sake. He never ended up being the all conquering hero that he had hoped for, but he spent 5 years travelling out there, and did more to help people then I ever will." Sounding more sombre “He returned when his father took ill, and has remained here since. It while when he was travelling that he picked up a dislike for being waited upon. He caused quite a little uproar when he insisted on bathing himself. Luckily however, I managed to convince him to forgo cooking for himself and his guests. The business of the Barony doesn't leave him enough time, and to be frank, he is a spectacularly bad cook."

The last was said with a grin on his face, which belays the concern arising in the companion’s hearts. Over their times as performers that developed an appreciation for fine actors. The man called Janus Brodier is one of the finest they have ever seen, and the act he just gave them was almost perfect, but not perfect enough. As sure as they are of the sun rising on the morrow, they are sure that every word he just told them was a lie.

"Tell me, Janus. Who will be attending this feast?"

"Two other nobles will be attending, and they are expected to arrive at some time tomorrow. The first is a Lady by the name of Antigone. She is a countess from north or here. The Baron and her held a mutual but distant interest for many months, before she grew tired of waiting for him to make a move, and began courting him. She is a strong willed woman, who knows what she wants, and doesn't hesitate to take it."

Giving a nod of approval of this trait, the man continues.

"The other guest will be the Lord Aculeus. He has quite a reputation as a ladies man, and is the regional fencing champion to boot."

Arriving at the entrance to the courtyard quartered to the bards, Brodier comes to a halt.

"It's a small festival, not widely observed even in our small corner of the world. Still, those who do hold it of dear import. I must see to m'lord, but before I leave is there anything more I can do to see to your comfort?"
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  #44  
Unread 12th of May, 2004, 05:11
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"I believe that will more than suffice, thank you, Janus."

Yavan tilts his head in acknowledgement of the man's valuable information. Still, his apprehension runs thick through his veins. A small festival, attended by a couple minor nobles. The elf would gladly be performing in front of hundreds of commoners over a scant number of lords and ladies. At the very least Antigone and Aculeus sound like interesting people. Perhaps it will not be a total waste of time.

Or a complete death trap.

He goes to his room and disrobes, but stays away from his reverie for a long time running over his repetoire of songs. They would have little time to prepare for the festival and Yavan would like to at least have one local piece to present to his host and the honored guests.
  #45  
Unread 13th of May, 2004, 21:37
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"Indeed. These quarters are more than sufficient for our needs."

She watches thoughtfully as Janus takes his leave. Her head full of things she would rather not admit, Rina barely notices as Yavan departs for his room. Frowning at Korbi, she crosses her arms and taps a finger against her elbow.

"It seems a rather small gathering for so ancient a feast. Yet this is not the strangest thing. You noticed as well? Janus is not being truthful."
  #46  
Unread 19th of May, 2004, 03:19
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Korbi looks up at the taller woman, the red streak in his hair darkened by the night and glimmering like wetted blood in the moonlight.

"I am afraid I didn't notice much of Janus. That illusion that swept over us was more than enough to keep me distracted for much of the evening. However, I agree, that little about Janus seems overly trustworthy."
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  #47  
Unread 20th of May, 2004, 03:43
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"We would do well to pay attention to details here. Janus is hiding something about the Baron's past, though what or why I cannot say."

She casts her eyes about there surroundings, old and dusty but far from decrepit. The place had a certain weight and dignity despite the disuse. It was old, ancient maybe, and she finds herself drawing parallels to the venerable roots of Khitae, where more things had been forgotten than most cultures ever learned.

What secrets did the castle hold? There are locked doors and warnings about opening them; both things piqued her curiousity. Yavan would never think to disobey but she wasn't Yavan.

"I have a mind to learn some more about this place. And you, Korbi Hilldigger? Would you delve into mysteries untold?"
  #48  
Unread 29th of May, 2004, 04:45
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The gnome seems torn between the choices, but the fact that he hasn't declined yet is proof enough that she judged correctly. His desire for knowledge is nearly as powerful as her own insatiable curiousity.

"Think of the possibilities. This castle is old, with deep roots. I say there are many interesting things that lie forgotten, awaiting discovery."

Her voice is deep, unconsciously seductive, dripping with the juices of delicious mystery.

"All we need do is open our eyes."

Rina takes his hand and moves towards the library. There had been many books there, but of more interest to her was a locked door, almost hidden amongst the shelves and dusty tomes.
  #49  
Unread 3rd of June, 2004, 04:13
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Gralhruk
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Rina and Korbi walk hand-in-hand down the dusty hall and through the massive arch that marks the entrance to the library. The press of ancient tomes somehow makes the enormous space feel close, the weight of ancient wisdom a tangible force pressing in on them from all sides. Rina's bare arms prickle with goose bumps and a shiver runs down her spine. It was a place of things forgotten, ghosts that had been left undisturbed for who knew how long.

Secrets.

The word thrills through her and she starts for the door she had noticed earlier, her hand tightening on the gnome's. His steps are slower than hers, and the tension gradually increases on her arm until she is practically draggin him along. She lets go of his hand and turns to ask him what's wrong. Korbi isn't even looking at her, his eyes fixed on the spine of one of the many tomes lining the shelves before him.

"Korbi?"

He doesn't respond; indeed, he doesn't even look at her. On of his small hands reaches up and selects a leatherbound volume and he reverently brushes the dust from the cover. Shaking her head, she leaves him there and approaches the object of her search. Carefully testing the handle once more, she finds it is still locked. Casting her gaze surreptiously to either side, she then reaches inside her dress and removes two small, wire-like implements. She takes another quick look around before examining the lock and door in much greater detail, attempting to determine if it might be trapped.

<OOC: take 20 on search.>
  #50  
Unread 5th of June, 2004, 01:32
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itches
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Probing the lock patiently for several long minutes, Rina is unable to find any of the tell-tail signs of a trap. If one exists on the door, it is beyond her skills to detect it.

The lock itself is antique looking device, though very functional. It should take the acrobat only a few moments to open it.
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