Zomaris:Khanate Rising/Chapter 09
Chapter #9: The Xalrin Resistance
<mainstreet> You find yourselves enjoying a mild repast, taking a quick break after dealing with that harrowing scene involving the dead priests. Actually, you're still here, and it's providing a grisly backdrop to your meal break.
- Magwitch is deep in Shamanic Meditation (otherwise known as contemplating one's navel or 'omphaloskepsis') muttering incomprehensibly to itself, when a deep gurgling sound emanates from its bloated belly. In alarm, Magwitch falls backwards off the twig it was sitting on and the Hat of Disguise rolls loose.
<Magwitch> The sight is a horror to behold! Something alive is writhing inside the tumour on Magwitch's abdomen, straining against the taught skin... at times, it looks like reptilian jaws are pressing hard from the inside.
- Twinkle bursts from Magwitch's disgusting tumour in an eruption of gore, and soars up into freedom with a flap from her tiny butterfly wings. Her cheeks puff and she launches forth a gout of sparkling rainbows right at Magwitch.
- Twinkle no longer speaks with the indecipherable sounds you've heard in Magwitch's navel meditations previously.
<Twinkle> "I've had enough of your inane mutterings about stars and darkness and heavens. Can't you just speak clearly? Ever since you ate that goblin who raided the Faerie Dragon nest I've been trapped in there. Why didn't you bother to check his pockets for eggs before gobbling the goblin?"
<Twinkle> "Sure, I'm grateful to you for incubating me, but after all this gestation I got more and more convinced: 'Surely there's got to be more to life than this! And I want it.' So, I'm out now. You want deeper insight into following your Shamanic Spirit, maybe /now/ you'll be able to hear my instructions more clearly! No more 'I can't hear you' excuses now. I'm watching you."
<Magwitch> The sparkling rainbow beam weapon has sent Magwitch into a fit of Euphoria. Magwitch writhes in paroxysm for a good twenty seconds before subsiding into a fit of giggling interspersed with violent vomiting. Its eyes are streaming -- with pain or mirth is hard to tell. The ragged edges of the tumour recede like the caldera of a molten candle.
- Twinkle hovers over the pitiful wreck protectively, like it's a project forced on her by some mutual superior.
<Twinkle> "To think this had to happen to me..." the Faerie Dragon mutters to herself.
- Nergui blinks
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy gnaws on a chunk of cooked giant snake, tearing at the meat with her teeth like a wild animal. Her eating habits are arguably more off-putting than the carnage. Suddenly, she stops in mid-bite, her eyes tracking over to...whatever the hell that was.
- Nergui drops the knife and fork she had been holding, and previously using to eat in an unusually lady-like fashion. "Hmm."
<Fir> "You're pretty. I like your colors. Like a whole field of azaleas."
- Fir directs this comment at Twinkle.
<Twinkle> "Thankyou! That's the nicest thing anyone has said to me . . . ever."
- Twinkle blushed a deeper shade of rainbow.
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy gently puts her food down, stands up, and walks over. "...okay, so let's start with the most obvious questions. *Who* the hell are you, *where* the hell did you come from, and *what* the hell did you just do to our buddy here?"
<Fir> "Weren't you listening? He ate a goblin with eggs in its pockets, and she hatched from the egg. Inside his belly. Then she got tired of it and came out."
<Nergui> "I was not aware of any creature that had a...life cycle like that."
- Fir looks thoughtful. "I'd probably get tired of being inside a belly too, although I've never tried it to know for sure. Probably not many colors in there, though."
<Twinkle> "That's not my kind's usual life-cycle. The goblin and this kval here... disrupted it a bit."
<Capn_Mercy> "So, what's wrong with Mag?"
<Twinkle> "But yes - I'm Magwitch's Guardian. I guide it in the ways of Shamanic magic."
<Magwitch> "I feel sick. Bleuch."
<Capn_Mercy> "...from inside its stomach?"
<Twinkle> "Previously, yes, but not any more. Now, from on high!" She says this only a foot or so off the ground, but it's higher than she's been before.
- Fir looks over Mag to see if they actually need healing.
<Fir> Seeing that he doesn't, Fir says, "I probably have a concoction that could help you feel better faster, but it sounds like Twinkle wants you to learn a lesson anyway, so I won't interfere with that."
<Nergui> "...yes, well, I'm sure the lesson is well-learned."
<Capn_Mercy> "I should hope so. Nobody should have to suffer through *that* twice."
<Nergui> "Some people choose to have more than two kids, actually."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy holds up her half-eaten snake-kebab to the new arrival. "You must be hungry. Want some?"
- Twinkle purrs and perches near Mercy appreciatively.
<Nergui> "Let's not stay distracted by this too long. We should finish eating, and then get moving."
<Twinkle> "Yes. Missions to accomplish! As for introductions, I am Twinkle. And this mess you've met is Goatse Magwitch. Don't worry about it - I just doused it with some euphoria. It'll be fine."
- Magwitch pulls itself to its feed unsteadily and says, "Ready to go!"
- Nergui picks up the stuff she dropped and gets up to her feet. "I hope this ends up being the strangest thing we'll see today."
<Nergui> Kiyomi, remaining silent, as usual, also packs up her stuff and gets ready to move
- Fir follows the others.
<mainstreet> You proceed through the night without incident, then manage to camp in the morning. In the afternoon, you proceed along and soon find yourselves approaching the City of Xalrin.
<mainstreet> Unlike Kandar, Xalrin is a walled city, the thick stone clearly present for the entire width of the city core, though there do appear to be farms and a few seedy support structures such outside the walls. You quickly determine that you won’t be able to get in without dealing with the guards. The gate is open, and Priests of Baldar are present as gate guards. You see the wall itself is well-patrolled.
<Nergui> "Hm, I wonder how much it takes to maintain that wall."
<Magwitch> "Do you think they're there mostly for keeping sandstorms out, or more lively threats?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Both, I'd imagine."
<Capn_Mercy> "So, what's the game plan here, Nergui?"
<Twinkle> "So we're looking for a Dan, aren't we? To return the camels?"
<Nergui> "We may have to go through official channels for a while."
<mainstreet> Fir, Magwitch, Mercy: You see a large group of camels in a pen just outside the walls.
<mainstreet> Mercy: You see the "DAN'S CAMELS" sign on the wall of the pen, as well.
<Capn_Mercy> "Oh, hey, there it is."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy leads the camels to the pen. "Yo!"
<Twinkle> "Maybe Dan knows more about the protocol of entering the city."
<Fir> "Maybe the camel guy will know how easy it is to get into the city."
<Nergui> "Hmm...I'm remembering a few things. If we had a reason to enter that the guards couldn't pick apart, they'd pretty much have to let us in."
<mainstreet> Dan is an elf leaning against the pen, just like his brother was. "Those my brother's camels?" He opens the pen. "Bring 'em on in, I'll let him know I got them. Thanks."
<Fir> "I could be a merchant selling concoctions at the market, and you could all be my bodyguards," suggests Fir to Nergui.
<Nergui> "We could do that," Nergui responds to Fir
<Capn_Mercy> "We could say we're adventurers looking for work."
<Magwitch> "Which we are."
<Capn_Mercy> "We just leave out the part about already being on a job."
<Capn_Mercy> "Your call, Nergui. I'd take the adventurer option, if only because someone thinking we're merchants might start asking a bunch of economics questions that we don't know the answers to."
<Nergui> "True. I haven't brushed up on economics in some time. Adventurers we are, then."
<Fir> "If you think it would help to bribe the guards with a concoction that would make them not mind the heat so much, I have one they can share."
- Fir pats Birch on the ankle (since that's what she can reach) as he returns to the pen. "Thanks, Birch, you were a great camel."
- Nergui parks the other camel in the pen and starts leading the group towards the gate
- Magwitch tweaks the Hat of Disguise to appear like a small halfling riding a dinosaur.
- Fir follows Nergui, digging around in her bag and pulling out a concoction, just in case.
<mainstreet> You approach the gate. The gate is open, with a Priest of Baldar, in battle armor, standing at each side.
<Fir> "Are you hot?" Fir inquires curiously.
<mainstreet> "No. Can we help you?"
- Nergui sighs, then steps up to the priests. "We're a group of adventurers looking to enter the city in search of work."
- Fir sighs and puts her concoction back in the bag, wondering when anyone will ever want to use an Endure Elements, Communal potion.
<mainstreet> The priest frowns disapprovingly. "Vigilante behavior is not tolerated in Xalrin. Most matters handled by adventurers in lesser cities should be handled by the proper authorities. Don't count on having great success here. Nonetheless, you may proceed."
- Nergui nods wordlessly and proceeds
<mainstreet> The streets of Xalrin are quite clean and well-organized. People quickly go about their business from place to place. You don’t see anyone willing to simply hang out for a stroll. Priests of Baldar patrol the streets with regularity. Not too many nonhumans are present on the main streets, but you do notice, as you peek through the back streets, that many of them do contain nonhuman personages, especially ratfolk and catfolk, and that patrols are a bit less frequent there. Similarly to the other cities, the Great Temple of Baldar is the largest building within Xalrin. Unlike Kandar, the Temple seems to have sprawled across a few extra blocks. The Count’s Manor, proudly displaying the banner of Count Ivan III, is nearby and is quite impressive in its own right. The symbol of House Metros flaps in the corner of that banner. The markets of the city are quiet: people buy what they need and quickly move on. You also notice that almost no buildings are labeled: the Temple and Manor are obvious, as are some open-air markets, but nothing else is.
<mainstreet> Everyone but Fir: You overhear a disturbing scene in an adjacent side street: A catfolk is being hauled off by a pair of Priests of Baldar apparently for the crime of “dirtying the streets”. The catfolk is protesting that he can’t help where his tail lands. From the protests, he happened to slap dirt onto one of the Priest’s shoes. They’re taking him to the courthouse, apparently.
<Capn_Mercy> "...this place sucks."
- Fir , having been distracted wondering what was inside one of the unlabelled buildings, jumps a little at Mercy's comment. "What, why?"
<Twinkle> "Don't do anything disgusting here, Magwitch. They seem pretty strict."
<Capn_Mercy> "We might be in trouble."
<Nergui> Beneath her helmet, Nergui bites her lip until it bleeds, then looks away
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy shrugs, and gnaws on some leftover snake jerky.
<mainstreet> You decide to play it safe and press on, walking around the city, getting a feel for it.
<mainstreet> You spot a catfolk that looks quite familiar to you. Maria has her head down for the most part, but she’s definitely lounging in front of what looks like a tavern or club of some sort, occasionally popping her head up as though looking for something, or someone.
<Fir> "Hey, that person who liked plants before isn't by a plant anymore."
<Nergui> "The who and what?"
<Magwitch> "The one who also liked banners?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Oh, right. She tried to talk us into betraying our contract."
<Magwitch> "Everyone's got to be somewhere."
<Nergui> "Do you know her name?"
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy walks up to Maria and holds up her hand, attempting to brofist. "Hey...uh...you. How's it hangin'?"
<Fir> "Navy? Natalia? Millie?"
<mainstreet> Maria looks up. "Oh, it's you. Human that makes life harder in Xalrin despite good financial incentives to be of some use."
<Nergui> "Sounds like I missed a bit of story, here."
<Twinkle> "Some things are not all about the money."
<Nergui> "And some things are."
<Capn_Mercy> "She wanted us to turn over a quest item to her that belonged to someone else. We said 'no' because we have a small shred of professional pride."
<mainstreet> Maria gives a slight yowl. "Why are you here? Your 'professional pride' actually hurts people. Do I need to tell people life will get even worse here?"
<Fir> "Also because the quest giver seemed like a more useful contact than a random person," Fir says without a shred of shame.
<Nergui> "I'm not here to make the life of the common people any worse."
<Magwitch> "You never told us that betraying a contract would make the life of the common people any better, either."
<mainstreet> Maria frowns at Nergui. "No, I don't recognize you."
<Nergui> "That might be for the better."
<mainstreet> Maria then rolls her eyes at Fir. "Yes, I can see that. Enjoy your enslavement to the forces of tyranny."
<Magwitch> "Now why wasn't /that/ offered as a quest reward?"
<Fir> "If the forces of tyranny can talk dragons into following them, I might go for the enslavement," Fir mutters.
<Nergui> "I am not a force of tyranny."
<Fir> "Of course not," Fir says in a vain attempt to be diplomatic. "Obviously, you are incorruptible, forever into the future, no matter how much power you end up with."
<mainstreet> "I was instructed to expect mercernaries and pay them as such," Maria leaned against the wall, her tail flicking against the ground. "So I suppose you have a chance to redeem yourselves. Are you interested in, for once in your life, actually helping matters?"
<Fir> "Probably. What are you offering?"
<Nergui> "Perhaps we should go elsewhere for negotiations."
<mainstreet> Maria starts walking into the tavern in question. "Follow me."
- Nergui tags along cautiously, as does Kiyomi
<mainstreet> The tavern is a pretty dusty sight. A lizardfolk is tending the bar, and there are a few patrons, all of the Animalia. You're quite noticeable as the only humans, tiny weird creatures, and plant beings in the room. Everyone stares at you as you enter.
- Fir waves at everyone and smiles cheerfully.
<mainstreet> Maria calls out to the barkeep, "Code Green!" The lizardfolk nods, and Maria proceeds to a single stone door with a green circle on it. She opens the door and gestures for you to follow.
<Fir> "I like green," Fir says when it's her turn to follow through the door.
- Nergui and Kiyomi continue to tag along, and continue being cautious
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy follows, perhaps lingering for a moment to look behind the bar and see what might be on tap.
- Magwitch likes the idea of getting a more direct offer from the cat woman and follows curiously.
<mainstreet> Mercy: The usual stuff seems to be on tap. Beer, ale, wine, of various varieties.
<mainstreet> The door opens to a small stone hallway with a descending staircase. You go down it for a while then enter in a small room. You see solid stone walls all the way around, and a torch on each corner. The back wall has shelves with several scrolls and a couple of tomes on it. The room is dominated by a round table with a pair of semicircle benches for seating at it.
<mainstreet> Maria grabs a scroll from the wall and sits down at the bench.
- Nergui remains standing. "Well?"
<Fir> "Needs some potted plants," Fir comments and climbs onto a bench.
- Magwitch struggles to climb up onto one of the benches to peer up at the surface of the table.
<mainstreet> "In this room, there is no chance that we will be heard by the enemy unless one of you tells tales later. Now, tell me, ladies... what do you think of this... fine city?" Maria gives a mocking edge to her final words.
<Capn_Mercy> "...this place sucks."
<mainstreet> "Go on."
<Magwitch> "Just a moment ago we heard a catfolk being reprimanded for their tail touching a priest's boot!"
<Fir> "Wait, we did?"
<Fir> "I didn't hear that. No wonder Mercy said it sucks."
<mainstreet> "Right. He'll be given a day or two of forced labor for that, I expect. It's a common occurrence. Everyone suffers. The Animalia more than most, perhaps, but the humans definitely feel the whip of the Count and Countess-Princess and their agents as well."
- Nergui takes off her helmet. "Bah, I never liked my aunt."
<mainstreet> Maria blinks. "Your aunt? I'm sorry?" It's clear she has no idea what you are talking about.
- Nergui chuckles. "I should be used to people not recognizing me. Most don't."
<mainstreet> "Should I?"
<Fir> "She's like, the secret queen or empress or something," Fir says, adding helpful details.
<Nergui> "It was over a decade ago, so if you're young you might not remember much about Princess Abril."
<mainstreet> Maria frowns. "I remember hearing vague rumors, but... hmm. So, what do you expect, here? I'm going to tell you now, the intent of the Resistance is not to replace one tyrant with another."
<Nergui> Nergui's eyelid twitches. "I am no tyrant."
<mainstreet> "If you are really a Lady of House Metros, you know damn well your House has been oppressing the Animalia for centuries. Sure, it's better than the empire before your family's rise, but that's not saying much, and here in Xalrin, again with a member of your house in charge, things are really backsliding. So why should I, or the Resistance, believe a damn thing you say?"
<Fir> "Oh, she reeeeeally doesn't like humanism."
<Fir> "Human-ism, human-inity? Is that a word? Whatever the word is for putting humans first."
- Magwitch slips off the Hat of Disguise and says, "Viva la revolución!" (with the accent character and everything).
<Nergui> "I..." Nergui begins, steam trailing from her mouth as the scales on her exposed head begin growing and covering more of her. "...was EXILED. FOR NON-HUMAN HERITAGE!" She pounds a suddenly-clawed fist onto the table
<mainstreet> Maria blinks rapidly. "Okay. Did not expect that. Fair enough."
<Capn_Mercy> "Easy there, tiger."
<Nergui> Nergui's claws retract, and her scales retreat, and she breathes heavily for a few moments
- Magwitch watches.
<Twinkle> "Another dragon? Cool!"
<mainstreet> "My original plan was to offer you jobs in the Resistance and have you complete a couple of small tasks for us that would then allow us to potentially engage in a major operation here in Xalrin. We've managed to get our funds into a nice, stable state recently that would allow us to pull off the operation, possibly, if we're lucky, taking control of at least part of the city. However, under the circumstances, a change of plan may be called for."
<mainstreet> Maria sighs. "I am one of the Resistance's top spies and recruiters. I am not, however, part of the group that actually makes decisions. With your permission, I will forward your existence and willingness to help to them, and they can make a decision on if things need to change. We might be able to engage in a much more focused and targeted operation, and I would support it."
<Magwitch> "I'm happy with the small tasks too. Might help us understand the background of this city and its plight."
<mainstreet> Maria grins. "But if my new plan is approved, they won't be necessary."
<Nergui> "My identity will need to be known sooner or later. Eventually, everyone will know."
<Capn_Mercy> "Some of them, violently so."
<mainstreet> "So do I have your approval to forward this on?"
<Nergui> "What can you tell us of your new plan?"
<mainstreet> "Without going into much detail, our plan would've been violent, fast, and probably ended up splitting the city, because essentially, we had no way to take control of the city as a whole: the priests of the evil one would never accept leadership by the commonfolk, and we don't have the firepower to destroy the entire church. But, you are far from 'commonfolk', and with a fast, targeted strike of current leadership, we now have a leader the Church may accept."
<Magwitch> "Are you talking about an assassination?"
<Nergui> "It's quite the risk, but we won't get anywhere by playing safe. You have my approval."
<mainstreet> "Very well. I recommend you take a room somewhere other than here. Humans living with Animalia will be seen as suspicious by all. I recommend an inn with a blue front a few streets away, it's unmarked, but it's still clearly an inn. It's not too fancy I can't get in there, but it's still largely a human establishment. I expect to contact you in about two days. Is this acceptable?"
<Magwitch> "And no small missions in the meantime for those two days. We can probably find trouble."
<Nergui> "We'll try not to die in the meantime."
<Capn_Mercy> "I make no promises."
<mainstreet> Maria nods. "I'd prefer you to leave here before I do, so no one suspects something's up. Yet."
- Nergui puts her helmet back on. "Let us go, then."
- Fir jumps down from the bench.
<mainstreet> You proceed out of the room and back into the tavern.
- Fir heads on out into the street.
- Nergui tags along
<Nergui> As does Kiyomi
- Fir picks a random direction to start looking for this blue inn, and sets off.
<Capn_Mercy> "Blue, blue. Why are none of the buildings around here labeled, anyway?"
<mainstreet> Fir: You actually remember seeing this on the earlier walk and are able to head straight there.
- Fir decides not to ask if she can spend the night on the roof this time, since anti-nonhuman sentiment is high. She walks in and asks for a room.
<mainstreet> The lady at the desk looks down at you. "2 gold per night per room."
- Fir hands her 6 gold. "Three nights, then."
<Nergui> "How many beds to a room?"
- Nergui and Kiyomi each hand over 6 gold, as well
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy forks over the cash.
<Capn_Mercy> ...for one night. "We'll see beyond that."
<mainstreet> The lady hands you all room keys.
- Fir whispers to Magwitch and Twinkle that they can take her bed, she doesn't sleep anyhow.
<mainstreet> You proceed up and find the rooms with the relevant number. They are simple rooms, as you expected. Small bathroom area, main room with bed, desk, and chair.
<mainstreet> You proceed to the next day. As you're hanging out in the lobby/bar area, you hear loud voices outside.
<Capn_Mercy> "Hey, does anyone else hear loud voices outside?"
<Fir> "I wish Molly could talk, so she could go check it out for us."
<Nergui> "Yeah," Nergui says, and peeks outside
<Twinkle> "I can check it out."
<mainstreet> Nergui: There appears to be a riot going on! Two groups of citizens are clashing with each other, and Priests of Baldar are attempting to subdue them both.
<Fir> "Would this be a good time to try to distract everyone with a shiny cloud?"
<Magwitch> "If we attempt to help the priests quell the riot, that might win us a bit of favour with them, potentially. Or they might tell us to mind our own business. It probably depends on whether they're winning at the time, I suspect."
<mainstreet> Nergui: You see Maria trying to skirt around the conflict outside to reach the Inn. She's trying very hard to not look like a participant, so it's slow going for her. You might be able to get to her faster.
<Nergui> "I see a familiar face," Nergui says, and sets out, trying to meet Maria without getting too close to the conflict
- Fir follows quickly.
<mainstreet> You both quickly make it to Maria. She breathes a sigh of relief.
<mainstreet> "Something... something is very wrong. Thank you for finding me, ma'am."
<Nergui> "What went wrong?"
<mainstreet> Maria sighs. "When I told the leadership group of your identity, a handful of them immediately demanded I... eliminate... you. The rest objected to that, and the Resistance has now completely split. We've now taken to the streets in fighting each other. This riot you see here? Being repeated throughout the city. This will destroy us, the priests will easily take us out after this."
<mainstreet> "I have no idea what those... idiots... were thinking! They gave no explanation, just immediately demanded it, and now it's become a personal loyalty issue."
<Fir> "That doesn't sound like something we can do much about," Fir points out.
<Nergui> "Sounds like the best we can do is grab however many capable people we can and regroup elsewhere."
<mainstreet> "The group that wanted to eliminate you isn't going to stop. But I'm not sure what we can do to stop them without significantly more forces."
<Fir> "Maybe you should go get your dragon."
- Twinkle flies over to help.
<Fir> "I meant the bigger dragon, but you should stick around too."
<Nergui> "Wait, there is something else that can be done...I can take control."
<Twinkle> "I can douse any brawlers who get to close with sparkly rainbow beams too keep you safe."
<Fir> "The priests *are* pretty distracted. Not the worst time for a coup."
<mainstreet> Maria frowns. "You can. But will anyone listen to you, even if you manage to beat the leaders?"
<Nergui> "Maria, which ones are...anti-me?"
- Twinkle asks Maria, "If the faction who ordered the execution now knows Nergui's in town, is it likely they have broadcast that info to the town guards and to other cities? Are we expecting to be pretty serious bodyguards in the near future?"
<mainstreet> Maria shakes her head. "No. They wanted complete secrecy about this. Most of the people fighting here aren't even sure what's going on exactly. They simply know that the other side is doing things that are wrong."
<mainstreet> Maria points out one individual in the riot in front of you, a lizardfolk that appears to be leading one side of the battle. "She was one of the ones that gave the command. She is eager to do it herself, now, though."
<Twinkle> "Is it significant that that individual is a lizardfolk and opposes a dragon?"
<mainstreet> "The group that wants to eliminate the lady here was not specific to any one race. I have no idea why they gave the order. That part of the leadership is not people I know personally anyway."
- Nergui begins chanting all sorts of strange words, a glimmering barrier of force appearing in front of her, and then she begins growing to about twice her previous height
<Nergui> She points imperiously at the lizardfolk. "That one is leading the others! Get them, dead or alive!"
<mainstreet> ((Shield))((Enlarge Person))
<mainstreet> --END SESSION--