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  #26  
Unread 12th of March, 2004, 09:21
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Wow. This book looks like it has an incredible amount of knowledge about how the Dwarfs got started! I could probably find what I was looking for in here. Now if I could only read what was in front of me. Ben sighed as he tried to discern the strange symbols written in the book open before him. He closed it and put the book back on the shelf with the others before going back over to the chair that he had been sitting in before. He grabbed the shield and held it in front of him.

I just wish I knew what this symbolized. Or at least why Dorndrum was so possessive of it. God, how I wish the lot of them could be here now. Placing the shield back against the chair, Ben sat down and closed his eyes. He'd been traveling to this citadel for nearly 10 years now. Along the way he had fought orcs and goblins, kobolds and hobgoblins, not to mention the occasional man or woman bent on conquering this or destroying that. And through it all, he had always stopped off and told the families of those whom he had traveled with of the news of their loved ones demise.

It was always so hard. He had thought that maybe he would have gotten used to it, and the years had slightly dulled the pain of his actions, but whenever he told the family, one of his friends’ faces would always appear before him. Sometimes, he could even see his friends in the faces of their family. And they were never the face of them smiling, or of them laughing, but always that one last look they had before...

Ben's eyes flew open. He'd lost his train of thought again. He reached up and took of the wide-brimmed hat he wore on his head. It had been Rocky's favorite, and Ben could still smell the after-effects of his friends "potions" on it. He smiled at the memory of his friend's face when he realized that the dealer who had sold them too him had lied and the potions didn't make him irresistible to women.

But this place...this place was utterly alien to Ben. He could find nothing here to relate to his three friends whom had been a part of this "Brotherhood". Though from time to time one of them would mention it, Ben got the distinct impression that even Jonathan had felt caged within these walls and wanted to be out and about finding new and exciting things, even at his advanced age of 69. But even worse, Ben couldn't even imagine Lisa being anywhere near people like this. They seemed so...reclusive and were more interested in their books and magics and not the people who their knowledge and power would actually affect.

Lisa hadn't been anything like that. Maybe that was why she had left along with Jonathan and Turmahult. She had always told Ben that she would gladly be beaten half-to death and lose all her powers even if it would only save one person. She had always had other's needs before her own, probably the reason she had taken in the young lad who had foolishly tried to take Jonathan's book. Maybe that was why she had taught him about her own morals, and why they were so important, even though most of whom received them didn't seem to need it.

Maybe that was why Ben thought of her as the closest thing to a mother he had ever had.
  #27  
Unread 13th of March, 2004, 05:25
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He just barely hears it, his mind and body slowly drifting off to rest by the soothing heat. The copper has grown warm itself, radiating the heat shared by the bath. Something nags at his mind, a very faint noise and then a murmur. Is he dreaming? He thinks so and smiles, any dreams without dead lovers and infinite voids are a welcome change. He lies there, his knees poking up out of the water and his arms draped across the sides of the tub, hands resting gently on the edge. Again the noise comes, this time louder, more insistant. It sounds like knocking.

Cadrius jerks awake, water splashing to the stone floor. He looks around, his eyes a bit bleary. How long had he been asleep? The door, someone's knocking on the door. He climbs quickly out of the bathtub and yanks open one of the drawers. Finding a soft, white towel he wraps it around his waist and opens the door. He sees Shade, blinks, and then closes it again, hurying over to the clothes left for him in the bureau. Forgoing any attempt at drying off, he clumsily pulls on enough articles to make him decent and the moves back to the door, opening it and nodding his head.

"Shade, what is it?" he asks, but eyeing her consternation he quickly adds, "Yes. Please, come in."
  #28  
Unread 16th of March, 2004, 01:53
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The door practically flies open, revealing a semi-naked ex-paladin in all his unheroic splendor. Despite her urgent message, Shade is momentarily taken aback by the sight. The lean muscles of his shoulders and chest are fuller and more sharply defined than she would have guessed, his abdomen is a study in rib and sinew; a wave of heat courses through her that -for once- has nothing to do with anger. Her mouth opens in surprise, but before she can get a word out she is once again staring at the impervious door, the flashing symbols somehow mocking her.

Foolishness, and you know it.

When he opens the door again her eyes are cooler but more doubtful than before, drawn back to the realities of their situation. There hasn't been much time to consider what Nicos had divulged, but it stood to reason that if his room wasn't secure then this one wasn't either. The thought of eyes and ears on them made the skin of her back itch. Telling him outright was impossible, but she had to somehow let him know. With an effort she keeps her voice normal but her bearing remains tense, urgent even.

"Sorry to interrupt you, but I think you've had enough time to rest. After all we've been through, the least you could do is show your companions the respect of dining with them."

Shade shakes her head no as she speaks, and half-draws one of her blades, trying to indicate danger. She mouths the word spies, and then puts a finger to her lips.

"Well?"

Last edited by Gralhruk; 16th of March, 2004 at 02:04.
  #29  
Unread 16th of March, 2004, 04:44
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Having finished his thrid helping of bread and cheese, Blarth heads back to the food table to get an orange.

I wonder if the knives would cut the orange?

Pushing the loaf of bread aside, Blarth places the orange on the cutting board in its place and waits.

When nothing happens, Blarth is at first confused but so comes to the conclusion that he also needs to pick up the slice of bread as well and does so. Immediately the knife springs into action, trying to cut the orange as if it were a loaf of bread. An apple is not a loaf of bread however, and the sawing motion of the knife combined with the round shape of the apple leads to the apple begining to roll and the knife splashing juice all over the place.

"Having fun?" Gemoud asks as Blarth shields his face from the splatter. Startled, Blarth lowers his hand for a moment only to raise it again as a squirt of juice catches him in the eye.

"I... uh... uh... uh..."

Chuckling at Blarth's confusion, Gemoud continues, "Its quite alright. Everyone wants to experiment with the silver wear when the first get here. Most however, are to timid to try."

Grabbing the bread knife by the handle, she pulls off the orange and waves her hand over the knife and cutting board, cleaning them off with a simple incantation. Gemoud then replaces the bread in its position and lays the knife down where it lies still.

"Here, the knife for the fruit is back here," she says, pulling a cutting board and knife down from their hanging place on the wall. Putting the orange on the cutting board the knife procedes to quarter it before wiping itself on a nearby towel and lying still.

"Would you still like your orange?" she asks.
  #30  
Unread 16th of March, 2004, 06:15
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"Sorry to interrupt you, but I think you've had enough time to rest. After all we've been through, the least you could do is show your companions the respect of dining with them."

Stunned would be the most accurate way of describing Cadrius at this very moment. Stunned, confused, a perhaps a bit taken aback by the woman's words. She has an acrid tongue, to be sure, but he hasn't recovered from his embarassment of answering the door half-naked. As a result she has the fallen paladin mentally back peddaling in an attempt to regain ground. His first instinct is to become defensive, and his eyes grow hard but he falters at a gentle shake of Shade's head. Her eyes lack the usual flare of anger, indeed, they bear an almost-warm quality that Cadrius cannot discern. He does not have time to ponder it though as she mouths a word to him while partially drawing a blade from its scabbard. The uncertainty, the anger, the defensiveness; they all pause while he watches her. The word she mutters causes his hackles to rise.

Spies.

He opens his mouth to speak, but a finger to her lips gives him pause. Her eyes shift from one one wall behind him to another and he nods slowly, eyes still on her. Ordinary spies is one thing, magical spies is another subject altogether and one that Cadrius is loath to deal with.

"Yes," he says at last, nodding, "I have been remiss in my etiquette. Thank you for correcting me."

Fetching the gray cloak with white trim, Cadrius settles it about his shoulders and grabs his sword, one hand loosely holding the scabbard. It would be an affront to their hosts for him to carry a bare blade, but there's no reason why he should go unarmed. Sweeping back into the corridor, Cadrius closes the door behind him and moves down the corridor with Shade, measuring his longer strides to match her shorter ones.

"I trust you found food?" He asks, keeping his voice as casual as he can manage. Silently he berates himself for dismissing the potential danger in favor of the luxury of a bath. Still, there's little to be done about it now. Hopefully things are not as bad as they seem.
  #31  
Unread 16th of March, 2004, 06:33
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Watching Shade as she moves to the door of Cadrius' room, Nicos settles a gentle smile on his face as he returns to Blarth and Gemoud.

"Would you still like your orange?"

Hearing the question, the bard doesn't miss a beat but launches right into his act.

"I've walked into many a room heaving a converstion already in play, but 'Would you still like your orange?' has to be one of the strangest comments I've heard when taken out of context."

Sitting down at the table, making sure he is sitting next to the redhead, Nicos reaches for some bread and fruit.

"Fitting though, as I find myself overcome by a growing hunger." Tossing a sidewas glance at the attractive young woman next to him as he says the last, the bard finished peeling the fruit and places it in the bread.

((OOC: I down't hav a spillchekker at tha prescient tyme, sew Unlesss Gral waants too go thrfough and edite my poest, evereeone will have ta sufer my spoelling.))
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Last edited by itches; 17th of March, 2004 at 04:42.
  #32  
Unread 16th of March, 2004, 06:43
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"Yes, food enough."

She continues towards the refectory, wondering if they were safe to speak in the hall. Probably not. Gritting her teeth, she decides there is little choice but to trust Nicos to find a safe place for conversation. In the meantime, she needed to find a way to tell Cadrius what she knew without telling him.

"Actually, there is even more than food. It seems Nicos found a guide - a woman by the name of Gemoud. She reminds me a little bit of Skerf; you remember, the guide who helped me find that dwarf."

Hopefully Cadrius would indeed remember the story she had told him a few weeks back, about the treacherous ranger that had nearly killed her. She keeps her voice upbeat and conversational in an effort to throw off any who might be listening.

"This place is much more hospitable than I expected. I'd like to see Cadogan before we go, but I suppose he's probably busy. You shared a room with him once, does he spend alot of time studying arcane lore?"

The only room they had shared - so far as Shade knew - was in the dungeons of the Gnoll encampment. If she understood Nicos correctly, Cadogan was likely in the same kind of trouble now. The refectory appears up ahead and she steers towards it. Inside, she can see Nicos sitting next to Gemoud and the germ of an idea forms in her head about how to get rid of the woman.

"Gemoud, this is Cadrius, the fourth member of our company."

Last edited by Gralhruk; 16th of March, 2004 at 06:47.
  #33  
Unread 16th of March, 2004, 07:37
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"Yes, I remember Skirf. He was a good man," Cadrius says, attempting to give the opposite description of Shade's treacherous, former companion, but adds almost as an afterthought, "one I would not mind running across one day."

Their footfalls echo softly off the stone floor, walls, and ceiling. Cadrius remains alert, as if expecting to see a robed spy lurking in a doorway or corner. For all he knows they could be inside the walls themselves, listening to every word, watching each exchange. If so, they'd already know of what Shade suspects. Cadrius briefly wonders if staying in the hills might have been a wiser decision. He looks over to Shade, a determined look blanketed across her face making her features unreadable.

"He did a fair amount of reading, for a blind man," he says, recalling his first encounter with the wizard. They had been captured by gnolls and were bound in a lightless cell within a set of caves. Cadogan had proved more useful than the fallen paladin, and since setting them free Cadrius had felt as if he owed the man a debt. It looks like he repaid him in Karkas by slaying those that had besmirched Cadogan's honor. Cadrius wonders if the blind man ever knew of what happened, of what transpired in the fallen paladin's efforts to repay his debt. More importantly, would he agree? Would he care? Or would he be horrified at the loss of three lives, unintentional as it had originally been.

Cadrius' eyes fall on Gemoud and he wonders if Shade's suspisions might be off. Sorceress or not she seems harmless enough; pretty with luxrious red hair, and wide, attentive eyes. Of course her robe is fitted to subtly annunciate her sexuality. It's that facet that sets off a warning within his mind; Cadrius realizes that she would make for a perfect spy. Who better to use in a party of men than an attractive, disarming, young woman? Someone who they would foolishly let their guard down around; who they would lust after.

Regardless of supposed position as a spy, Cadrius still grants her an appropriately deep bow. As he straightens his eyes roam over to Nicos, trying to see if the one-armed bard might have fallen under her spell. In return she nods her head in acceptance of the courtesy.

"It is a pleasure to meet you Gemoud," he says, smiling at the young woman, "and I must thank you and your kin here for this hospitality extended to us. It was a hard road to travel, but I do believe it was worth it."

Once the pleasantries are aside, Cadrius removes the cloak that he hastily threw about his shoulders and straps his sword across his back. Satisfied at having the feeling of the blade resting across one shoulder, Cadrius replaces the cloak.

"I do not mean to offend, Gemoud," he says, straightening the woolen cloak, "I do not fear trouble, but instead fear a bit...naked without its presence."
  #34  
Unread 17th of March, 2004, 03:01
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Shade smiles at him, at the same time laying a hand on Nicos' shoulder and leaning slightly against the bard. She tilts her head at Cadrius.

"Always the warrior - a fighter, not a lover like Nicos here."

Her laugh sounds easy enough but her stomach clenches. The hand on the bard's shoulder looks casual but she returns the stern grip he'd given her earlier. For once, she hopes that Blarth's simplemindedness will work to her advantage and he won't realize her sudden change in attitude. They needed to get rid of Gemoud and it was better if it wasn't Nicos who rebuffed her.
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Unread 17th of March, 2004, 04:41
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Almost wincing at Shade's iron grip on his shoulder, Nicos is perplexed at her comments. Although he had made more then one pass in her direction, Shade had always rebuffed him, and seemed to have her sights set firmly on Cadrius. And a deep soulfull pair of eyes or no, he wasn't one to interfere with a buddin romance. Still the line was said, and the bard took her bone cracking grip as an indication to play along to whatever ends she was aiming for.

"Well we each stick to our strengths, as they may be. Some of us just have more pleaseing talents then others."
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Unread 17th of March, 2004, 05:23
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Saved from having to answer Gemoud's question by the return of first Nicos, and then Shade and Cadrius, Blarth is soon lost in the flurry of conversation that follows and contents himself by eating his orange, skins and all.

Getting up, Blarth heads back to the table to grab another fruit; an apple this time, and he bites into it without even thinking of having the knife cut it up for him.

"Are you hungry Cadrius? They have these really neat knives that cut things for you."
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Unread 17th of March, 2004, 06:50
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Cadrius shakes his head ruefully and affects a wounded pride. He holds his arms over his chest and gives the couple, Nicos and Shade, a long, hard look. He isn't certain what Shade intends, but he's finding it difficult to maintain the facade. He does his best, however, and scowls. Looking to the half-orc, Cadrius nods and walks over to him.

"Indeed I am, Blarth," he says, eyeing the magical cutlery before casting a glance back at Nicos, "I suppose my talent would let me cut this apple, if I so desired. Nicos would need togive it a few ales, sing a song or two, and then take it into the stables."

Feigned or not, the barb feels good to deliver to the man. Nicos and he have yet to get along and Cadrius doesn't forsee it happening in the near future. Yet four out of five times, he'd take this one-armed bard over a wizard that wanted him dead. Reaching down he takes one of the sliced pieces of apple and puts it in his mouth. It's good, likely freshly picked, although where it came from is beyond him.

"It is quite good. You may need to give this one more than a couple ales."
  #38  
Unread 18th of March, 2004, 03:51
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“Agatha, stop it!”
Half hidden in laughter, the Southern wizard’s scolding doesn’t seem to restrain the mule from her determined searching for anything edible in the woman’s clothing.

“ Wait a minute, you, glutton, I’ll be back with something for you”.

Maryam turns and goes, followed by Agatha’s mournful stare.
With quick strides she reaches the refectory; the sound of unknown voices stops her in her tracks.

New guests? That’s quite unusual she thinks, rapidly passing her fingers through her close cropped curls to check for bits of hay.
Then, curious, the black woman gets in.

A few heads turn towards the door and silence greets her.

“ I’m sorry”, she says, flustered. “ I did not mean to intrude, I will come back later”.
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Unread 19th of March, 2004, 01:56
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Shade can sense Cadrius' confusion beneath his affected anger but the ex-paladin stubbornly clings to his sense of duty and plays along. Though she expected no less, a twinge of regret buds in her chest that his emotion isn't genuine. She ignores his jab at Nicos with a pretty smile before turning her eyes to Gemoud.

"The citadel is most hospitable to send a guide for us. Nicos must be regarded quite highly, that they would take you away from your other duties."

Gemoud's eyes flicker over to the doorway and she follows them to the exotic looking woman who is standing somewhat confusedly by the entrance to the refectory.

“I did not mean to intrude, I will come back later”.

The red head shakes her head and, ignoring Shade's question, raises her voice slightly to speak to Maryam.

"No intrusion at all. We were just about to eat, would you join us?"

Shade is rapidly becoming irritated with this game, quite certain that Gemoud is stalling instead of answering her. She holds her tongue and waits for the introductions to be completed before repeating her question.

"So, you were telling us how you came to be our escort."
  #40  
Unread 24th of March, 2004, 19:36
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Taking a grape, and plopping it into her mouth, Gemoud gives a small shrug as if it isn't really important.

"I suspect that it has more to do with chance then any sort of divine plan. You're new here, and as you discovered." A motion towards the magical utensils. "It catches you off guard at times. It did when I first arrived here. As to why me in particular? I was between projects, so the council asked me if I would be interested. I accepted."
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Unread 25th of March, 2004, 10:05
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"Ale?" Blarth asks, confused. Looking around he spies a small keg sitting on the other end of the table with a few mugs next to it. "There's some over there if you want it," he says, pointing.

"Speaking of which, don't mind if I do," he adds, heading over to pour himself a mug, after popping what remains of the apple into his mouth.

"This bread, cheese, and fruit is good and all, but how long until dinner?" Blarth asks between swigs, "I could use some meat."
  #42  
Unread 31st of March, 2004, 06:43
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Gemoud smiles at the half-orc, shaking her red locks slowly.

"Dinner won't be served for another hour, at the least."

Shade rises, a hand still on the bard's shoulder.

"An hour is plenty of time for some exploration. Nicos mentioned there is a sizable library here. I'd like to have a look."

At this, Nicos stands as well looking quite smug as he puts an arm around Shade's waist.

"Ah, yes. The library: a most fascinating place. It surpasses any I have seen in my considerable travels."

The scraping of chairs is the only sound, and the Gemoud is uncharacteristally silent as she observes the others. Shade watches her closely without seeming to do so, inwardly seething at this game of cat and mouse. The group starts towards the door and Shade falls back, putting an hand on the red heads arm as Gemoud passes by her. She waves away Nicos' enquiring glance.

"You go on ahead. I have a question for our hostess."
  #43  
Unread 3rd of April, 2004, 03:19
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"You go on ahead. I have a question for our hostess."


Nodding to her wave away, Nicos turns and leads everyone towards the Library.

I hope she doesn't do anything foolish.

"Mages are little without their books," Nicos speaks to the others behind him as they near their destination. "And as this is the headquarters for a group of mages, you would expect that their collection of tomes to be extensive."

Rounding a corner and entering the foyer of the library, the large aisles of books stretching out before them, Nicos speaks quietly.

"They do not disappoint."
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  #44  
Unread 3rd of April, 2004, 05:54
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The others file out of the refectory, leaving Shade momentarily alone with the taller Gemoud. The redhead stares at her with a half smile and delicately raises one eyebrow, the friendliness of her expression never reaching her startling blue eyes.

"What can I help you with?"

Shade regards her evenly, her own grey eyes hooded, arms folded.

"I think you know."

Neither woman moves for several seconds. Gemoud's smile widens slightly, which somehow manages to increase the tension.

"Do I? Perhaps you would like to know the location of the bath house. You seem quite travel worn. The land hereabouts is harsh on one's skin."

"Stay away from him. And the rest of us."

"My, you are certainly the insecure one. I am merely here to help."

Gemoud looks smug, superior; statuesque and beautiful, she is quite sure of how to handle this street rabble. Shade takes a step forward and very carefully brushes an imaginary speck of dust from the taller woman's shoulder. Quick as a snake, her hand seizes a handful of coppery hair and drags Gemoud's face level with her own. The redhead grabs at Shade's hand, but years of swordplay have given her strength beyond what her slight frame would indicate.

"I said stay- " her hand twists sharply, bringing a pained expression to the others face "-away."

She realeases her grip and deliberately turns her back and exits the room. Gemoud runs a hand through her hair and adjusts her cloak, her burning blue eyes never leaving Shade's back.

Last edited by Gralhruk; 3rd of April, 2004 at 06:07.
  #45  
Unread 3rd of April, 2004, 07:45
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Sensing someone enter the library, Ben shakes himself out of his revere and looks over at the new comer. It was that one-armed wizard again, apparently showing the library to the group that was following him. It seemed to consist of a Human male, and a half-orc. The human obviously didn't fit in, what with the sword at his side and the muscles Ben could see, he was obviously a warrior of some kind. The half-orc was something else entirely, not carrying himself like most of the other ones that Ben had seen, though that number could be counted on one of his hands still, so Ben guessed he wasn't much of an expert on their kind. There were more people behind these three, but Ben couldn't make anything out.

Ben wasn't sure what to make of their entrance together. Maybe they were friends of the one-armed wizard, perhaps something else. Either way, it wasn't any of Ben's concern at the moment. He found the wizards in this keep both haughty and unnerving in their reliance on magic. The sooner he was out of this place, the better.

It just didn't make sense to Ben. Why would you train your mind to cast all this magic, learn all this knowledge, when it takes half the time and effort to accomplish the same thing with a blade? True, Ben recalled Jonathan and Lisa both sling balls of flaming death around, but a wizard ran out of energy eventually. A sword was always there, never being depleted with each attack.
  #46  
Unread 5th of April, 2004, 09:11
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Cadrius isn't certain he wants to leave Shade alone with the amiable Gemoud. Knowing her temper and her methods, he wonders if they might suddenly have to flee the tower after the mysterious disappearance of one of its members. He mentally shakes his head. She's smart enough to avoid killing in a place where her every move could be watched from afar. Still, he doesn't envy Gemoud, not at all.

The library itself is of passing interest to Cadrius. His family had kept a library at their estate, although it wasn't nearly so grand as the one present. Indeed, he wagers there was a good deal more about warfare and mercantilism in his home than here. Or at least, there was less regarding demon resurrection and arcane theory.

"No, it does not," Cadrius replies, nodding at the bard. His gaze passes across several apprentices or acolytes, he isn't certain what novice wizards are called. They wear unadorned robes of a brown color as they scurry about, shelving books from large push-carts. Seeing them move about makes him wonder why wizards wear robes all the time. Certainly it would be much easier --not to mention less conspicuous-- to simply don pants and a shirt. Perhaps it's tradition that guides their fashions. And yet Gemoud dressed somewhat normally. Perhaps sorceresses are allowed more leeway given their rather uncommon nature.

"So what are we to do here? Educate ourselves?"
  #47  
Unread 7th of April, 2004, 05:00
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"Well," Says Nicos looking around. "I was hoping to have Shade here for this, but I won’t waste the opportunity. Come, there is something you must see, which I think you will find entertaining."

Leading his companions into the Library, Nicos makes for an isolated section. Taking down a random book, and glancing at it to find that is a text on the mating habits of shell fish. Nicos grins until he sees the looks his companions are giving him, then the grin fades from his face to be replaced by a look of determination.

"We need to be on guard here. Gemoud is a spy."
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Unread 7th of April, 2004, 05:07
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"A spy?" replies Blarth increduously, "What makes you say that?"
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Unread 12th of April, 2004, 08:06
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"She is either a spy, or the gods have decided to send me the woman of my dreams. She's smart, sophisticated, charming, beautiful, willing to flirt."

An ugly look crosses the bard's face.

"They must think me a fool. She is too well able to put me at ease, and not arouse my suspicious. That in itself was enough to put me on guard, but I've also developed a sixth sense about woman over the years. This one isn't all she appears to be."
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Unread 12th of April, 2004, 11:40
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"Well, yes," he says, eyeing Nicos with the lightest touch of disdain. Still, he acknowledges the bard's ability to avoid Gemoud's snares. Even the mightiest of kings can be distracted by a pretty lass. So it is to his credit that he isn't enthralled.

"Very well, you avoided the trap. Good. Now what? Do we try to flee the tower with Cadogan? Or would he even wish to leave? I am interested in your counsel here as I fear we have very few options."
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