Zomaris:Khanate Rising/Chapter 01
Chapter #1: Everyone Wants the Banner
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN CAMPAIGN--- DUN DUN DUN
<mainstreet> You walk into the Blue Room at the Moss Inn in Kandar, ready to find out how you’re going to earn that sweet, sweet gold. It’s a dining room of sorts, a large round table big enough to seat nine individuals. It’s, well, blue. The walls are blue, the lamp is giving off a blue light, and the table is covered with a solid blue tablecloth. You take a seat as the room fills in, all of you having more or less arrived at the same time. Every seat is full:
<Fir> A humanoid shrub, about the size of a 3yo child, if that child was made of branches and leaves, climbs into one of the chairs and stands on it, patting the wooden back in a friendly way.
<Yevyre> A figure clad in laminar marches in and slouches down into one of the chairs. The open-face helm shows a visage marked by a large scarab tattoo, along with way-too-intense amber eyes
<Magwitch> A generic looking halfling, leaning on a quarterstaff, stands in front of its seat, with a set of panpipes slung over its shoulder and a panache of a feather stuck behind its ear. Its sex is unclear at this stage but it smells like it's eaten a curry that really didn't agree with it at all.
<Capn_Mercy> Entering into the room from one direction is a rather physically impressive woman, in more ways than one. She's a tall drink of water, over six feet in height, with tawny skin and thick, wavy blonde hair that looks like it hasn't been combed in a while. Her figure is sleek and curvy, yet tightly muscled, somewhere between 'Olympic gymnast' and 'pro bodybuilder'. You know this because the vast majority of it is uncovered - her outfit consists of a skimpy chainmail bikini, armored boots and gauntlets, and a few pieces of ornamental jewelry. Tribal tatoos are scrawled across her biceps, shoulders, and thighs, with a particularly auspicious-looking one between her shoulderblades.
<Capn_Mercy> She drags out a chair from the table, legs scraping against the floor. Making no attempt to muffle the noise, she plops into the chair with the air of someone who's more ready for a meal than a meeting.
<mainstreet> Also present is an unarmed elf dressed in a simple green robe who appears to be composed yet without real confidence, as well as three men who look completely identical, all dressed for desert travel and carrying longbows, and lastly, the man who has brought you here, dressed in the full battle armor of a Cleric of Maat. You recognize his face, having seen a very similar, but older, one posted prominently throughout the city.
<mainstreet> This, then, must be Gerard V, son of Count Gerard IV, ruler of Kandar.
<mainstreet> Fir: You look around the room, and there's a lot of suspicious stuff going on here. First off, that halfling is probably not actually a halfling, you can sense there's a disguise of some sort going on there. Second off, there's at least one more individual in the room than advertised: someone is hiding behind the potted plant in the corner.
<mainstreet> Magwitch, Fir: You take a look at the Elf, and notice he has a particularly impressive ring on his finger. The ring feels like it should be somehow significant. You mentally note down the symbol you can sort of see on it, even though you aren't sure what it means.
- Magwitch stares at it. "Does it look Evil?" the kval wonders to itself.
<mainstreet> After you all take a minute to settle in, Gerard begins to speak. "Thank you all for coming. This is a bit embarrassing but this needs to be done, and I will get straight to the point. I would like you to go to my grandfather’s tomb and recover the Lord’s Banner of Swiftness. It should never have gone in there in the first place. We, uh, meant to put a copy in there. Instead it’s the copy that’s flying over the tower now. We’re… not sure how that mix-up happened, and needless to say this needs to be kept perfectly quiet. I’d retrieve it myself, but it is unwise to be seen… entering… the tombs of your own family. I’ll pay 1,000 gold for its safe return. I am aware that it is technically worth more than that on the open market, but it already belongs to my family. Attempting to sell it to anyone else will be highly illegal."
<Fir> "And you want ALL of us to go, together?" Fir asks, putting a particular emphasis on the word "all".
<mainstreet> "Together, separate, it doesn't concern me. Work alone, work in a small group, work all together. More of you probably have a better chance to succeed in such an endeavor."
<Yevyre> "More also means splitting the reward more ways."
<mainstreet> One of the three bowmen interjects, "Yes, my brothers and I are already a well-established team, and we will easily retrieve it for you. As a trio. The rest of you... well, I don't see much here to worry about," he snickers, looking at the rest of the group. His two brothers snicker as well.
<Magwitch> In a startlingly resonant baritone, the apparent halfling asks, "If someone retrieves the McGuffin before the others, that individual is awarded the full 1000 gold, is that right?"
<mainstreet> "Erm, I suppose so," Gerard comments. "But really, I don't recommend trying this by yourself. The desert is not kind to the lone traveler."
<Fir> "1000 gold divided 9 ways is still over ... 90 gold each, right?" Fir says. "That's still a lot."
<mainstreet> Gerard blinks. "Nine? I count eight."
- Magwitch would be astonished if some of the members in the room can count as high as three.
<Fir> "Oh? Is there someone here who wasn't planning to come?"
<mainstreet> Gerard frowns. "I'm not going. I thought I made that clear."
- Fir frowns back. "I wasn't counting you."
<mainstreet> The bowmen laughs. He starts pointing and counting off. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. You can count to *eight*, can't you, little thing?"
<Magwitch> "How do we get to the tomb? If you are not leading the way to the entrance, are you providing a map?"
<Fir> "Well, I did ask if we ALL would be going, and he said yes, so I thought the one who likes plants would be joining us too," Fir says.
<Yevyre> "One who likes plants?"
<Fir> "Well, perhaps they don't like ALL plants. They're not sitting next to ME, after all."
<mainstreet> Gerard nods to Magwitch and hands out a paper to each of you. You note that it has a general description of the task he has set, your authorization to engage in it, and a map of the part of the desert where the tomb is located.
<Capn_Mercy> The blonde, who by now has her feet up on the table as she leans back in her chair, gives Fir a glance. "What the hell are you talking about?"
- Fir gets distracted by looking at the map and forgets about Mercy's question.
- Magwitch seems to have no social graces at all and is ignoring the socialising going on. "So, once we arrive at the tomb, is it trivial to obtain the banner or are we going to have to disarm the tomb's defences and re-enable them to protect it from graverobbers as we leave?"
<Yevyre> "Where is this other person? The one who...likes plants?"
- Fir looks up at the repeated question. "By the plant, of course."
<mainstreet> "The tomb's defenses generally reset... at least the parts you will need to be going into. I must, however, warn you that my grandmother is buried in the same tomb as my grandfather, and at my grandfather’s insistence prior to his death, is actually far, far better protected. Enter her chamber at your peril. You won’t need to do this, to complete your task. When you have it, just come to the manor claiming you have completed a task for me. Please do not confuse me with my father, and try to keep this somewhat discreet. I may have more work for you in the future, as well."
- Yevyre looks around for plants other than Fir
<mainstreet> Everyone blinks and takes a hard look at the potted plant in the corner. You hear a mrrowl and the individual in question slinks out. It's a catfolk, and she does not look happy to have been spotted. "Fine. I want in on this too. I just didn't feel like I'd be welcomed in here."
- Magwitch scours the instructions for steps to bypass the traps and defences.
<Fir> "Why wouldn't you be welcome?" Fir asks.
<mainstreet> The catfolk is dressed in a sleek black, well, catsuit, clearly designed to maximize stealth.
<mainstreet> Gerard sighs. "The cat here is no doubt concerned about certain... attitudes... that Priests of Maat can obtain about her species. However, *your* presence here should have put that worry to rest, and I'm a little disappointed," Gerard fixes the catfolk with a look.
<mainstreet> The catfolk bats her hand irritably. "I try to be discreet. Always."
<Magwitch> Another pariah? Magwitch warms to the catfolk instantly.
<mainstreet> Magwitch: Looks like you're on your own regarding traps and such.
<Fir> "Oh, is her species not yours? You animal types all look the same to me." Fir goes back to looking at her map.
<Yevyre> "All the same to you? She's covered in fur."
<Magwitch> "Got the right number of limbs though."
<Yevyre> "For now."
- Fir looks closer. "Well, so she is." Fir looks closer at Yevyre. "Do you have any fur?"
<mainstreet> Gerard sighs. "In any case, I've explained where to go and how to get there. Any other questions for me, or is that all?"
- Yevyre turns to look at Fir. "Mostly only on top of my head."
- Fir nods. "So, mostly the same then, but minor species differences."
<Capn_Mercy> The blonde shrugs. "Seems simple enough."
- Yevyre frowns slightly
<Magwitch> "So you expect that the tomb defences will be no threat to the banner, or the success of the mission, or else you'd have included in these instructions how to bypass them, is that right? After the mission is complete, you'll have /two/ banners and the tomb will have none. You don't need us to take a replacement banner with us to leave in the tomb?"
<Fir> "Traps, traps, someone said something about traps. I can help with those."
<mainstreet> Gerard shrugs. "It's all ceremonial, really. Father probably would be less than happy, but I don't believe the dead care what they have with them, particularly. As long as what belongs in the family stays in the family."
- Magwitch triggers a Detect Evil ability to assess which of the other candidates present would be worthy of alliance.
<mainstreet> Magwitch: Nothing triggers on your Detect Evil.
- Magwitch grins with unnerving satisfaction.
- Fir looks around at the participants. "So those three"—pointing at the bowman—"want to compete. Everyone else want to work together against them?"
<mainstreet> The catfolk frowns. "Ish?"
<Yevyre> "Sure, why not?"
<mainstreet> "Well, regardless, it doesn't concern me how this ends up. Good luck," Gerard stands up and walks out of the Blue Room.
- Fir cocks her head at the catfolk. "Ish?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Count me in. They've spoken all of two times and I already want to punch all three of 'em."
<Magwitch> "If you're leaving /now/ then I'm game."
<mainstreet> As soon as he leaves, the green-robed elf sighs. "What a windbag. Does anyone else buy that?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Buy what?"
- Fir tries to puzzle out why a bag blowing in the wind would have the negative tone that the elf gave that term.
<mainstreet> The elf rolls his eyes. "He's offering to pay 1000 gold for a Lord's Banner of Swiftness. That's worth at least 5000, if not 10000, gold, on the open market. Objects have a real market value, and I’ll pay it. I recognize I probably can’t get it on my own, or, even, well, contribute meaningfully to any of your teams. Just tell Gerard you failed. If he sees me with it, he’ll think I succeeded. But I’m not selling to him. Bring it right back here to the Moss Inn. I’ll check in around this time each evening. I might also have more work coming for either of your groups myself, depending on the results here."
- Magwitch 's tail begins to writhe from side to side with impatience, a bit like a displeased cat's would. That's what Magwitch had meant about the catfolk having the right number of limbs - she has a tail. It looks like the rest of those present are missing theirs. The tail goes clunk clunk clunk against the chair leg, which is odd if you're just seeing a halfling standing there.
<mainstreet> The catfolk gives a disturbing little smirk. "I'm authorized to pay 15 thousand for it." Her tail arches slightly. "But I *will* try on my own. But if someone should succeed before I do... yes, 15 thousand. Don't bother looking for me, ladies, gentlemen. I'll find you," the catfolk saunters out.
- Magwitch starts heading out of the room too.
<Capn_Mercy> "15 thousand for a piece of cloth? Sheesh..." She kicks up out of her chair. "Well, no use worrying about any of it until we've got the thing. Who's with me?"
- Fir hops down, picks up her walking stick and overlarge bag from the floor, and hurries after Magwitch. "Who do YOU plan to give the banner to, if you get it?"
<Magwitch> "Well, Gerard of Maat said, 'it doesn't concern me how this ends up' which seems a bit thoughtless. Let's go find the thing first."
<Magwitch> "If he really doesn't care what happens, then it doesn't matter to him if we keep it, burn it, or don't retrieve it."
<Yevyre> "Perhaps we should not burn it. It's worth something to someone," Yevyre says as she gets up to follow the other odd ones
<mainstreet> Yevyre: You realize that the catfolk had no intention of her presence even being known to Gerard. She undoubtedly was going to simply make the offer without his knowledge of her existence, if possible. She is definitely not even remotely a friend of Gerard.
<Fir> "I...don't think that was what he meant. Pretty sure he meant he doesn't care who brings it back to him."
<Magwitch> "But that's not what he said."
<Fir> "Is it? Are you sure?"
<mainstreet> The three bowmen charge out of the room and out of the Moss Inn. "FOR VICTORY!" they shout as one.
<Magwitch> "Let's start, or Mirror Image there will make the choice for us."
<Yevyre> "I'm pretty suspicious of that cat lady, though."
<Magwitch> "I like her. She has the right number of limbs."
<Yevyre> "Right number of limbs? What?"
<mainstreet> As soon as the bowmen leave, they are waylaid by a Warpriestess of Maat. You can tell they are having a conversation outside the door. After a quick word, they leave. She stays right outside the door, though.
<mainstreet> Fir, Magwitch: The general gist of the conversation is that she knows exactly why they were in there, and what Gerard offered. She claims to have more authority in the Church, and that it rightfully needs to be *her* that receives it, and that she'll pay 5000 gold for it."
<mainstreet> Yevyre: ^
<Fir> "Geez, everyone thinks they ought to have this thing. I don't know enough about animal customs and organizations to know who really has the authority here." She shakes her head.
<Magwitch> "So far it's only Gerard who doesn't care how this ends up. The others seem to have clear preferences. But Gerard has follow up work."
<Fir> "Well, he's paying us to bring it to him, so he's definitely got opinions about where it belongs, no matter what he said."
<Yevyre> "Let's just get going. We can decide what to do with it when we get it."
- Magwitch 's hand passes into the fabric of the door as it pushes the door open, a clipping effect that looks really strange if all you're seeing is a halfling. "Let's go! I want to watch the cannon fodder trip traps and we'll miss it all if we dawdle."
- Fir follows.
<mainstreet> "Well, hello there, citizens. We need to talk," the Warpriestess interjects at your group, as you start to head outside.
<Magwitch> "5000gp, right? Got it."
<Capn_Mercy> "I gave at the office."
<Fir> "You want the banner, blah blah, everyone wants the banner."
<mainstreet> The Warpriestess frowns. "Eavesdropping on other people's conversations is rude. Nonetheless, yes, I can authorize 5000 gold, as I have greater status within the Church and such matters are truly Church matters."
<mainstreet> "Additionally, the Church of Maat as a whole will be pleased with your assistance and can look to you to provide further assistance in the future."
<Magwitch> "Eavesdropping is rude but gazzumping an offer after the son of Count Gerard IV, ruler of Kandar has left the area to be able to countercounteroffer is not rude? Where do you get your soapbox?"
<Yevyre> "Halfling, perhaps I should do the talking."
<mainstreet> "Hey now, I'm going to give it back to the Count's family. It just would be... more appropriate... to go through the Church," the Warpriestess replies, giving off a short blush.
<Fir> "What does the banner do?"
- Magwitch peers up at the mammal towering high above and manages an expression of contempt regardless.
<Yevyre> A very quiet chittering comes from somewhere on Yevyre's person. "Hmm. You want the Count's favor. But I'm not opposed to the extra money, and I suppose relations between our respective churches could always do with an improvement."
<mainstreet> The Warpriestess smiles slightly. "Perhaps they might, at that. The name is Kaitlyn, by the way. If you get the banner, ask for me at the Temple. They'll either fetch me or know where I am."
<mainstreet> Kaitlyn turns to Fir. "Well, it lets the army move faster and more safely across the desert. Which is important if we're going to maintain strong borders, especially against the Wastes."
<Fir> "So who else has an army, besides the Count?" <mainstreet> "Every Count has an army, of course. And the Emperor has by far the largest. And the small-town Barons. And those of other nations, I suppose, if they can be called such. It is not our desire to expand, simply to keep the law enforced and our borders strong."
<Fir> "Ah. Well." She waved some leaves around in an ambiguous manner.
<mainstreet> "In any case," Kaitlyn backs away. "Carry on, citizens," she gestures grandly, giving them permission to continue walking around. She wanders off.
- Fir looks at the map again to see which way to head.
<mainstreet> Fir: It looks like you should head out of the city and head about a day's walk Northwest.
<mainstreet> Fir: On the other hand, it's the heat of the day. And this is a desert. You might want to hang out in the bar for a while. Not dry out just yet.
- Fir looks around. "Do y'all want to get a head start on the bow guys, or wait until it gets a bit cooler?"
<Capn_Mercy> "You'd have to be an idiot to travel the desert at this time of day. If they went on ahead, they'll fry before they make it. We need to stock up on supplies."
<Capn_Mercy> "And maybe get to know each other. Like why he halfling here smells so bad." She looks at Fir. "And just what the heck are you, anyway?"
<Fir> "If we're in a hurry, we can use my cooling concoction. But if you want to stock up on supplies first, we can do that too," says the amenable Fir.
<Capn_Mercy> "Well, yeah, we need food. And water. And probably a tent."
<Fir> "The halfling smells? I've heard of this smelling thing. I'm a vine leshy."
<Magwitch> "I don't smell unusual. I don't smell of soap, anyway."
<Capn_Mercy> "Mmm, soap. Been ages since I got to take a bath." She smells like sweat, albeit in a relatively inoffensive way.
<mainstreet> Yevyre: As you go through the town buying things, you also try to chat people up to get rumours. You hear a lot of things, but two things you hear show up as credible
<Magwitch> "If the bow triplets obtain the banner, we can obtain it from them if they happen to fall in the desert I suppose. Or fall victim to anything else."
<mainstreet> You know that the Emperor is upset about the failure of Xalrin (the city to the north of here) to submit its most recent tribute.
<mainstreet> You also know that the Baron of Valgate hasn't been seen in weeks, and people are starting to get worried about this.
<mainstreet> ---END SESSION---