Post by scottenkainen on Jul 26, 2016 22:01:46 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 27 rd. 3 for Ximo:
Jaggers threw himself to his knees. "I throw myself on the mercy of the Flaming Eye!" Jaggers exclaimed. "Allow me to be useful to you again!"
"Is that Jaggers?" came a voice from behind the north door. "Bring them in."
Ximo and Jaggers were told to come through the north door into a drawing room, 20' long by 40' wide. There was a fireplace in the northeast corner, stairs going up, and doors in the near east and far west walls. There were three more men in chainmail, but holding crossbows, standing along the walls, while a man in chainmail with a black version of the Viscount's Army tabard over it sat on a bench in the middle of the room.
"You failed us, Jaggers," the man in the black tabard said (it was the same voice that had said "Bring them in"). "Why should we reward failure with anything save death?"
"Because I brought you something more valuable," Jaggers protested feebly. "I brought you a powerful new ally!" -- and he pointed to Ximo.
Ximo kept his face neutral as he spoke, "The gnome speaks true. I have returned him to you so that I could offer my services to the Cult. I grow weary of the power and pride of unworthy men. It looks to me like the Cult of the Flaming Eye appreciates talent and wants to replace the mewling cowards who lead this place with something better. So I brought you your servant to open the conversation."
Ximo looked around. He thought there was a good chance he could still escape if he had to.
"I am a wizard of ability and have made myself useful to the Consortium. But they refuse to elevate me as I deserve. I am called Ximo the Humble. Who do I have the pleasure of addressing?"
Post by scottenkainen on Jul 28, 2016 8:44:14 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 27d for Ximo:
"Ximo the Humble, you address Sir Therkle. I was one of the Viscount's Knights once, before I chose this path. We share a desire to be elevated in the way we deserve to be." Therkle stood up. "But I am not swayed by words alone. I'll confess we could use a magic-user around here for the coming storm...but I need you to submit to divination magic first, to test your motives. Will you agree to this?"
Post by scottenkainen on Aug 2, 2016 8:43:09 GMT -6
Day 17, the rest of turn 27 for Ximo:
Sir Therkle didn't answer Ximo right away, but turned to one of his men with a crossbow out and said "Run downstairs. Fetch one of the priests."
Now he addressed Ximo. "Embarrassing side effects? Comforts? These are idle thoughts you will forget about in service of the Eye. Zuzen!"
One of the men with a sword stepped forward. "Sir!"
"State how the Flaming Eye has benefited you."
"Yes, sir. I now know that all the gods I once believed in are nothing but lesser demons, fighting over my soul. I give it freely to the Flaming Eye, to make it my choice. I thank them for freeing me from the drudgery and toil of my once-daily life, to fight for the glory of our cause. I thank them for the rewards I will reap when Verbobonc falls."
Almost identical testimonies were given from around the room. Sir Therkle carefully watched Ximo's reactions. This exercise also helped kill time until the runner returned with a priest.
The priest might have been as young as 30, but looked so thin and worn that at first glance he appeared older. The man was so fair that he could be at least half-Suel. The priest already knew what he was here for and didn't need to be told. "Powers of the Flaming Eye, hear me! Grant me the sight of thine eye, that I may pierce the veil and look into the heart of this man..." And so the incantation went until Ximo felt his very alignment with the universe being known. "This one is strong with respect for law...and can be swayed between good and evil."
"Then he is not strong enough to serve us yet. You must be conditioned to become ready, Ximo. I will send you now to Ryemend. Seek shelter below the old magic school there. If you encounter Jebli - goblins -- tell them that the Flaming Eye crosses many webs. They will escort you to those you will now serve, until you are ready to come back to me."
"And what of me, o master?" Jaggers -- who had been silent and ignored for the past 10 minutes, now asked.
"I send two runners to escort you both to Ryemend. Jaggers, you will fight in the arena there, to prove your worth to us once more."
"If you would like me to be of service to your Cult," Ximo said, not having moved at Sir Therkle's orders. "Then sending me to Ryemend is a fool's errand. And whatever your half-dead priest has told you about me, I am no fool. Your base there is being destroyed. Probably as we speak. The forces of Law think it your main base and have sent significant force against it."
Sir Therkle looked surprised, though Ximo was unsure if it was because of the news the wizard had shared or the interruption. "How do you know this?" Sir Therkle asked.
"I know many things like this. And your priest can only tell you what lies on the surface without any elaboration. I care little for the Law and have only sought the path of least resistance to power. I tried being nice. Now I want to try being mean."
Ximo's armpits were very wet and he hoped that the sweat on his face was not too obvious.
Post by scottenkainen on Aug 9, 2016 8:25:17 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 28 for Ximo:
"Then it seems you've created a new test for yourself," Sir Therkle said. He pointed to three of his men -- two swordsmen and one bowman. "You three, go check on the Ryemend dungeon. Inspect the premises thoroughly, but do not engage any invaders. Report back here when you're done. Now go!"
After they left, Therkle eyed Ximo carefully. "You will wait inside the front entrance, your back to the shuttered window. There will be a crossbow aimed at your back through the gap in the shutter. You will wait there until proof of what you have said comes back to me."
"And me?" Jaggers asked.
"You and I will have a nice long conversation about the Silver Consortium."
Ximo was pushed out into the entry hall. The door to the north was shut. Ximo could still hear sounds coming from that room, muffled through the shuttered window. When he moved around too much, he heard a stiff command of "Face the door, back to the window!" coming from one of Therkle's guards.
The wait had been going on for an hour already. If Therkle's men were going on foot, they were probably just reaching Ryemend now...
"You may regret your rudeness," Ximo said ominously. He had been working on his "mysterious and powerful wizard" act for a little while now. He hoped it came across well enough to these guards. It would be in his interest if they feared him.
He hoped the band of adventurers gathered around the priest Ramon and the twins Marcel and Joaquim had done as they said they would and that they were laying waste - or at least trying to lay waste - to the Ryemend dungeon.
Ximo reached into a fold of his robe where a pocket was hidden and pulled out a hunk of cheese wrapped in a bit of cloth. He started cutting pieces off and eating them with soft noises of contentment at the flavor.
Post by scottenkainen on Aug 12, 2016 10:57:02 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 29 for Ximo:
The cheese was so good it made it even easier to remain cool under pressure.
Just over another hour later, the three guards came back through the front door. They looked at Ximo, then past him to the shuttered window and shouted, "He's right -- the forces in the dungeon have been decimated! It's in the Ryemend Garrison's hands now!"
A half-minute later, the door to the north opened again. Sir Therkle was on the other side.
"It seems you're too valuable to me now for me to send anywhere," Therkle said to Ximo. "You three, fetch the tools, board up the front door again, and circle round back to come in. Ximo, if you'd care to rejoin me again?" He stepped back and motioned for Ximo to come back into the drawing room. "Make yourself at home. I'll find a place for you on this floor shortly."
There were still four guards here with Therkle, but no sign of Jaggers.
"Of course, Sir Therkle," Ximo said smoothly. The old ways of fawning or "showing courtesy" he had learned in the Penwich household came back to him easily. He looked around for a comfortable seat, preferably one that kept his eyes on all the guards and Sir Therkle.
Post by scottenkainen on Aug 16, 2016 7:58:10 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 30 for Ximo:
Therkle had whispered some short instructions to the guard by the west door, then left. But a short while later, he returned. "Come with me, Ximo," Therkle said.
Therkle opened the west door and led Ximo into a wide north-south hall with blue rugs on the floor, oak-paneled walls, and three portraits hanging on the walls. There were three visible doors, plus the hall wrapped around to the south and east. There were two doors in the west wall and Therkle opened the northern of the two.
This door opened onto a den. The 20' x 25' room had four chairs, two tables, and three bookcases in it, though most of the shelves were empty. There was a door to the north and two to the south, and a boarded-up window in the west wall. There was a pot in the corner and a small cask on one of the tables.
"This will be your room. If anyone other than me and the men you have already met come into this room -- kill them. Do not leave this room until told to. Our enemies will likely be ready to attack here soon. You will prove yourself to me in combat. Do you understand all this?"
Ximo looked around. It would seem he had little time to ingratiate himself into Therkle's plans.
"I understand, Sir Therkle. I think I have already proven my worth - returning your wayward gnome to you and alerting you to the danger. Perhaps you have more...disposable men you could put to defending this, at least on the surface, inconsequential room? I do not mean to question your obvious tactical and strategic instincts, but magical power works best in concert with men and others to defend its conjurer."
Post by scottenkainen on Aug 23, 2016 21:59:00 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 30a for Ximo:
Sir Therkle had listened to Ximo's request, then just glared at him for about a half-minute before answering. "You'll have to protect yourself, conjurer, at least initially. My forces are mobile and can respond quickly to any threat in the house. Just make sure we can hear your combat and reinforcements will come quickly. Now, if you have any requests that do not involve manpower...like candles, or rations, knock on the east door and someone will fetch things for you."
After that, Therkle was prepared to leave (through the east door).
Ximo let Therkle leave without interrupting him again. That seemed a wise course.
He wished he had learned a spell of invisibility. That would definitely make things easier. Why would anyone learn any other spell of the second rank, he wondered to himself. Of course he had very sensible reasons for not learning that spell. But that did not change his current predicament. He did not think he had enough time to work his way into Sir Therkle's confidence before the planned assault. But now he was in a safe position to back which ever side looked like it would win.
He took the time to examine everything about his new "post," searching for secret doors and compartments on every wall and along the floor. He checked the shelves and the furniture. He peaked out the window and he listened at the doors.
Post by scottenkainen on Aug 25, 2016 21:34:09 GMT -6
Day 17, turns 31-32 for Ximo:
Ximo did a thorough examination of the walls and found no secret doors or secret compartments. He checked the shelves and found most of the books were blank. There was a book called Sulphur, Influence and Actions, one called Doctrinal Commentary, one called Famous Quotes of the Saints, and a fourth called The History of Avalon. He was thumbing through them when the east door opened and Sir Therkle came back in. "Making yourself at home. Good." He said nothing more, but went to the north door to leave.
Ximo nodded and gave no sign that Therkle had interrupted or disrupted what he was doing. But once the door was closed behind Sir Therkle, Ximo hurred over to the north door to listen to what might be going on in the next room.
Post by scottenkainen on Aug 30, 2016 20:23:04 GMT -6
Day 17, turns 33 for Ximo:
Ximo heard nothing at the east door and at the southwest door, but behind the southeast door in between them he heard -
Thok.....thok....thok... like someone was stabbing wood, or something like that. Ximo had a neighbor!
All four chairs were about equally comfortable, actually, pretty comfortable. He could even put one in front of the other, use a chair as a ottoman, and feel really comfortable. Ximo could move them about to whatever position he wanted to sit and watch from. As he enacted the next part of his plan.
Ximo took about ten minutes to sit comfortably before getting up and ambling over to the southeast door. He stomped his feet a bit as he got over to it. Then he stood up as straight as he could with his shoulders back and an aloof expression on his face. After he was ready, he opened the door to see who his neighbor was.
Post by scottenkainen on Sept 2, 2016 7:31:30 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 34 for Ximo:
Ximo opened the door to the southeast and found a bedroom with two simple beds, each with its own footlocker, and a small table and stools. The table had a pair of daggers, some dice, and some candles on it. One candle was lit, supplementing the twilight filtering in through a half-boarded-up window in the south wall. There was a door in the east wall, probably heading out into the same north-south hall that was east of Ximo's room.
A slim man with a hawkish nose and scruffy beard was sitting on one of the stools. He was wearing a cured leather hauberk, his skullcap and leggings tossed on the closer bed and his boots sitting beside him. He was balancing the pommel of a third dagger on his open palm.
"Hail stranger," the man said with a curious accent, while glancing at Ximo. "You must be the new recruit I was hearing about. It's about time you went exploring. My name is Hyrmie. Therkle probably told you to stay put, but you can bunk in here with me if you like."
Since he had nothing else to do, Ximo settled in for a long visit. His neighbor, Hyrmie, hailed from Ulek (in the Southwest) having fled the law there after murdering a knight and plundering his estate. He was a thief, and proud of it, and was looking for a thieves' guild in Verbobonc when he found the cult (or the cult found him, the details were sketchy on that part of his story).
"If you're hungry or thirsty, I've food and drink in that footlocker there," he said, pointing to the far one. "Just make sure you leave the footlocker closed; if you leave it open, the smell of food attracts rats and big bugs to this room. So -- what did you do to get you in with this crowd?"
Ximo avoided Hyrmie's question by seeking out some of the offered food and drink. Then he said, "I was recruited. Is it your job to guard this room? When an attack comes, are we supposed to help each other? Who else is in this place? I know something of the adventurers in Verbobonc City and they are dangerous foes. Help will be essential. And even then it may not be enough."
Post by scottenkainen on Sept 6, 2016 9:17:34 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 35 for Ximo:
Hyrmie didn't object as Ximo helped himself to all the food and drink he wanted. He just went on answering questions instead. "Our top priority is to guard the rooms with windows. The last time there was a break-in, it was through a window. It was through your room's window, in fact! Other than that, the directions are pretty simple. If you're in danger of being overwhelmed by numbers, retreat towards the stairs room, in the northwest corner of the building and regroup below. Therkle doesn't seem too worried about losing the ground floor."
Ximo was still trying to pump him for more information -- like, what about upstairs? -- when the door to the north opened and one of Therkle's guards peeked in. "So this is where you're at. Both of you, come on. Worship service in the main hall, in just a few minutes."
Hyrmie led Ximo through the east door in his room which, sure enough, emptied into the north-south hall as Ximo had guessed. Here, Therkle stood in the southeast corner by the turn in the hall, near a man in a black hooded cloak, holding a small gong. Seven guards in chainmail stood around the middle of the hall.
After a few minutes of milling around and chatting, the cloaked man rang the gong and everyone went silent to listen.
"My brothers," the cloaked man began, "the dumbing down of Verbobonc has been going for ever. It's called social engineering. Take away the family unit, crossbows, our jobs, our health, brain wash our children through education. We are almost there."*
Hyrmie listened quietly, but the rest of the guards got agitated and angrier as each loaded topic was brought up.
The cloaked man rang the gong again. "The gods you know led you down this path! They seek the destruction of the life you know. Only the unknown gods love you and want to make Verbobonc great again!"
This was met by cheers. The gong quieted them again, just before Therkle went around the corner to the southeast. Therkle came back dragging a now-shirtless Jaggers. Jaggers looked black and blue all over, and seemed stunned from a fantastic beating.
"Let me remind you again of the need for racial purity in our fair city!" the cloaked man warned, arms outstretched. "When we allow demi-humans into our city, it weakens us all! We must build a higher wall around the city and keep all their kind out!"
As others cheered, Therkle dragged Jaggers across the room, allowing the guards to kick him. Even Hyrmie got in a good kick. Therkle took Jaggers through the northwest door into Ximo's study.
The gong rang again. "Services are ended!" the cloaked man said. "There is ale for everyone in the kitchen!"
The guards began filing through a north door Ximo had not been in before.
((*Taken almost verbatim from a Facebook rant I read this morning.))
Ximo had made a passing kick at Jaggers to blend in but did not connect. If anyone saw it he figured it would be easy to believe an overweight wizard was no good with his boot. Jaggers' eyes searched Ximo for mercy but Ximo was only able to give him a tightening at the corners of his eyes to show some sympathy - feigned sympathy. After the service, Ximo followed the guards. He figured ale would loosen some tongues and give him a chance to learn more. Jaggers' fate was his own now.
In the kitchen he let everyone else get ale first before drawing his own flagon. He maintained a wizardly aloofness but listened carefully.
Post by scottenkainen on Sept 8, 2016 9:49:38 GMT -6
Day 17, turn 36 for Ximo:
The guardsmen were all chummy with each other, but gave Hyrmie a wide berth and gave Ximo a wider berth. It was a little awkward. The conversation was about how three of them had just recently been on leave from the manor, and how they had blown their pay on brothels before reporting back.
After about 10 minutes of this, Hyrmie gave Ximo a wink and said to him loudly, "So, were you saying earlier, how much of the ground floor you could fill with a fireball spell...?"
"The calculations are far too complicated for the uninitiated to understand," Ximo said in reply to Hyrmie. "But if I wished it, this entire manor could be destroyed in a fiery explosion. Anyone caught within its flames would be reduced to little more than piles of ash. It can be...unfortunate when one's allies do not heed the warning and get caught in such a conflagration."