Old February 2, 2017, 07:54 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The Blame the Dolphins Job

Winter, Era XXIV

Darian knew people.

Not in a "Ha ha. We are friends now." kind of a way. He knew people in the "I have a file on you in my office and I know where your kids go to kindergarten" kind of a way. That was how he knew Rexa Irontooth, member of the Iron Orchard, occasional supplier of contraband goods.

All it took was for Adrian de Aquinas to get an invitation to the table was a few words in the right ears and a little money passing hands. Infiltrating organisations had never been very difficult to the alchemist. This was merely walking inside and having a nice dinner with Rexa Irontooth.

An amicable dinner lead to a name being sent his way and a further introduction arranged. Hamish Taggart, rake and fixer for criminals in the greater centripax area. That meant it was time to slip into someone more comfortable with a life of crime.

Arn Hawke was close enough to Adrian de Aquinas in appearance to pass as distant brothers, but easy enough to tell apart that they would not be mistaken for each other. The red hair was now black, the eyes a shade of brown, his pale skin replaced by something slightly more bronzed suggesting he spent more time outside. The familiar red and black of the alchemist replaced with the greys and blacks of someone looking to blend in.

Arn Hawke was the one who took the meeting with Hamish Taggart. Arn Hawke was the one who got the necessary supplies ready in exchange for a small sum of silver. One cart, supplied with hidden compartments, a pair of draft horses, and a reliable hand that might actually prove himself to be useful during the times.

Promised no payment beyond a cut of the eventual loot.

And that, that was how they found themselves atop a hill, sitting in a cart and staring down at Castle Blackstone.

"Easiest way in," the alchemist said, "Probably just scale the walls once it gets dark. Could try just getting the cart in through the main door, but it could get dicey getting it back out and then we do not have a ride on the way out."
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Old February 2, 2017, 08:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Arn Hawke had been a decent enough companion so far.

He had been relatively quiet, plain of appearance, and had proven himself capable at preparing for the situation. It was more than could have been said for a lot of people Adyn had worked with, the types that seemed to stumble into a heist and touch everything they see.

So Adyn was in decent spirits as he peered down at the castle, listening to Hawke's commentary of their options. He "Hmm"ed briefly, craving for a cigarette, but resisted the temptation for the sake of the man seated next to him.

"I suppose you're partial to hanging on to what's inside it? I mean.. we could always bring it in, have the supplies we need, and if we can't get it back out again... scale the walls. If we really need an escape route put together from the outside, I could take care of that, move in separately, and meet up with you."

Separating themselves wasn't the most ideal decision, but the option was there at least.

The only problem was getting their loot out of there somehow. If they didn't have the wagon, they wouldn't be able to carry much. Adyn liked the thought of being able to take as much as he could possibly claim. This would be a dangerous job, and the rewards should reflect that, he felt.

He shrugged though. "In any case, you're the boss. Tell me where you need me. I'll be there."

As little as he had hated taking orders in the military, Adyn was a practical man. The two of them were working together in this, and he had every intention of being reliable.
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Old February 2, 2017, 01:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The alchemist considered.

"Mostly I just need it to get off this mountain, and back to civilisation," he said. "If we can stash it somewhere that will do. If we need to carry so much out of there that we need it, then odds are alarms are sounding and I have more faith in this thing's ability to withstand the gaze of a few bored guards looking to get a toll than a highly alert fortress checking every nook and cranny for lost treasure."

He shot a look back towards the lowlands, "I would rather not walk back to Primus Gaudeo if I can avoid it."
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Old February 2, 2017, 02:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The human almost sighed, but the alchemist was right. The two of them would never live through the brunt of the castle's security. Even the fool rogue could understand this.

"Agreed," the human grunted, making sure he his bag contained the last few things he might need for their excursion. Stashing was likely the better option. He liked to think in terms of worst case scenarios, and if the castle barred the gates they would definitely be walking.

He glanced in the direction of a copse of trees he had remembered along the way. Maybe it would suffice?
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Old February 4, 2017, 02:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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From the vantage point on the hill, the duo could see the blackened battlements below. A dense mist fell heavy upon the place, yet where they were the air was clear and crisp with Winter's spark. The winding road that led to the decayed portcullis, ran over a dried moat filled with thorns. The wounds of war abounded. There were no guards on the walls. There were no lights in the windows. The castle was silent and foreboding.

A sense of dread seemed to permeate from the area. It was like walking into a wall of suffering. All doubt and fear came to the forefront. It was easy to knock back the notions, but they were always there, tickling at the back of the mind, threatening to take over if attention was focused too much elsewhere.

A sentence floated on the breeze, enveloping the two. In a hushed whisper, a man's voice warned, "Despair, and die..."
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Old February 6, 2017, 02:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The call came while they were hiding the cart in the nearby copse. The alchemist's face almost twisted into a sneer. Almost. He had enough self control to not let it show on his face. As ambiguous warnings went, it was a pretty bad one. Was he supposed to despair and die? Or was he supposed to die if despaired? Hmph.

The alchemist was not easily spooked. He went through his equipment real quick. He had several belts slung across his body containing a variety of pouches and vials containing most of everything he might ever need. His bracers contained secret compartments allowing for the easy retrieval of his trusty scalpel and a few of the more salient elixirs he carried around. On his left hip he had a long quiver containing what appeared to be a wooden box, but if twisted just right it sprang into the shape of a crossbow. On his right hip he had something rarer, a holster for a gun and a few rounds of ammo for it. He even had a few of his precious puzzle boxes and fear grenades in case of emergencies.

His dark grey cloak served to hide the majority of what he was carrying, and even that was ringed on the inside with all manner of hidden pockets and equipment. Including a small duffel bag and other things that might serve for carrying anything valuable they might come across.

The alchemist did not like being unprepared though, so it hardly stopped there. His two back teeth were false, hollowed out and held small vials containing two elixirs for emergencies. He donned his goggles and doffed his hat at Adynirach.

The place seemed silent and dead, but the alchemist did not take anything for granted. Up to recently all kinds of traffic had been going through this place. He was not taking any chances. "After you," he said and gestured to the wall.
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Old February 6, 2017, 08:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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While the alchemist fought off a sneer, the rogue paused briefly to determine whether the wind had literally just spoken to him. A bemused and irritated expression brushed temporarily over his face. He frowned, looking up from his work and wondering if he could catch hints of contamination on the breeze. Something about this place didn't feel right, and that often meant some weird sort of magic was afoot. That would be his luck.

He, too, donned his own equipment. A small glass bauble that glowed in low light went into his belt, a couple sets of lockpicks, his venomed dagger at the small of his back. Another dagger was already in his boot. Two shortblades were sheathed on his back, tucked beneath a shortbow so that the two could be retrieved independently from one another. A quiver rested near his hip where he could shift it out of the way behind him. He wore well oiled, dark leather armor. Beneath his gloves, a ring with 2 charges of suggestion remaining.

He coiled a rope and settled it over his shoulder, snapping a metal hook onto his belt in case they might need it. He passed the alchemist swiftly and approached the walls, hands brushing against the stone. He peered upward, attempting to determine if it was something that could be scaled carefully without much assistance. He would not want to send an arrow straight over the walls... that would have been terribly obvious, missing rampart guards or no.
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Old February 6, 2017, 09:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The rogue could feel a slight incidental contamination. Something had happened here not too long ago. Sorcery. Though the place was eerie and decrepit now, the effects of the magic had worn it as thought centuries had passed. The place wasn't filled with arcane presence however, it had now become something else.

His hand grew cold as it ran across the grimy wall. The moss and mildew forming along the blackened stones had given it a slippery surface. As the rogue peered towards the top of the battlements, he would notice that it was indeed scalable. Stones protruded at regular intervals. There were arrow slits that might serve as a foot hole.

A gaping hole in the wall a few hundred yards to their left sat in dusty rubble.

Each moment the pair stood still, they could feel an icy breath on their necks. If they moved, it would disappear. If they whipped around to see who had the audacity to breathe on them, there would be nothing but the other person in their group to see.

Yes, the walls were definitely scalable.
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Old February 6, 2017, 10:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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There it was, like a stink on the wind. Fething magic. He wrinkled his nose. It had likely seeped into the castle's bones, wreaking havoc on all manner of things that would serve as obstacles in their journey. This would be fun... except not.

He did not declare as much to his companion. Instead he swatted at the back of his neck, his expression one of vast irritation at that icy sensation that kept tickling the hairs on the back of his neck. His other gloved hand fell away from the wall, it too having an uncomfortable iciness to its surface. They could scale it, but what was the point?

He eyed the gaping hole further down the way. He sighed. "Did all their housekeeping die to the xet? They haven't even mopped a single floor, I bet." He could hear his breath in his lungs as he proceeded towards the hole. He was slightly frustrated at how mysterious the situation was. He didn't like that he was knowing less and less about this place the more he discovered of it.

He wondered what they might find inside. What had happened to all the people here? He considered bandits might have already come and plundered anything of value somewhere inside.

He would be in an awfully sour mood if he had trekked all this way for nothing.
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Old February 6, 2017, 11:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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"Unlikely," the alchemist said.

He did not like this silence. He did not like this icy wind. He did not like the gaping hole in the wall. He did not like this one bit, this was supposed to be an easy job. Fool the guards, get in, get out. This he did not like.

He had enough dealing with strange spirits and the like in Jaedaxia. The alchemist did not approve of spirits and their ilk. They generally saw fit to meddle in his affairs and he did not approve of meddling. He picked the wooden box out of its holster and gave it a few twists, making it snap into the shape of a crossbow. He loaded it up with a bolt filled with sleeping potion. Enough to put a small elephant into a deep sleep if needed.

Suitably armed the alchemist stepped through the hole, tentatively. Making sure to look first, just in case someone was watching.
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Old February 6, 2017, 12:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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When alchemist raised his eyes to the battlements above while passing through the hole, a shadow of a figure passed through one of the eaves. It was size of a human. It was the shape of a human. But it moved with an otherliness that no living creature could have possibly possessed.

The pair picked their way across fallen debris and newly grown vegetation that still somehow appeared rotting.

When they came inside the walls, they found themselves in a large court. Workshops, stables, and homes in various states of disarray dotted their eye lines. Perhaps the most striking feature of the place was its stark lack of life. No crows cawed. No cockroaches climbed through the skeletons that littered the cobblestones. No children were playing in the streets.

That was wrong to say. At that moment two children came running in front of them rolling a hoop along the ground and pushing it along with sticks. Their laughter bounced from the immense walls and but did not echoed. As they passed the two, the seemed to fade away into nothing.

The castle loomed before them. The doors had fallen to the sides making the entrance appear like a mouth hungry to be fed.
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Old February 6, 2017, 12:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The rogue stepped through the hole and began to pick his way around the debris in the courtyard. It appeared to have been this way for quite some time, contrary to the hints of recent activity he had been told about before. He eyed his surroundings with confusion, brow furrowed in a frown, boots crunching against the vegetation winding its way about. He eyed the workshops, the homes, the alleys... and how silent and empty they had become.

He started at the sound of laughter, hand grasping the hilt of one of the blades on his back. He stepped away, frown deepening at the realization that they were children. The image was so ridiculously out of place.

The moment they faded, the rogue's lips set into a thin line. His blade immediately sung free of its sheath. He cast the alchemist a decidedly unamused expression at the traces of unwelcome magic.

"This is not what we were told we would find," he growled through his teeth, making his way towards the open door. Everything about it screamed to turn around and leave, but he was angry at the thought of leaving empty-handed. A horrible part of him was curious, too... was curious how all this had happened.

He remained wary of the contamination and the debris all around him, considering the possibility of traps.
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Old February 6, 2017, 01:46 PM   #13 (permalink)
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"Thank you," the alchemist said. "I would not have noticed."

Turning back at this point would be the easy option. Get out. Cut your losses. Easy way to get out. Damn it.

He looked at the kids disappearing. He hated ghosts. Ghosts were a real pain. Give him something tangible. No problem. Ghosts? Problematic.

"Anything that is worth something is going to be inside," he said.

Not inside these homes. Inside the castle. Inside and downstairs. Into the depths. Ghosts. Very vexing. He picked his way across the debris with some degree of delicacy, but unlike his compatriot he was not worried about traps. Not out here. Inside, maybe. Not out here.

No matter.

The alchemist walked right up to the mouth of the building and let it swallow him.
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Old February 6, 2017, 02:19 PM   #14 (permalink)
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As soon as the alchemist stepped foot through the door, darkness swallowed him. It was colder in here, and more still. He could hear footsteps coming from just in front of him, but he couldn't see anything. Just blackness. He would be able to move in any direction he wished. It would just feel like wading through muddy water.

If he spoke, or perhaps screamed, his words would fall dead in the air and carry no further than his mouth. The darkness was oppressive.

Adyn could no longer see the alchemist. He seemed to have walked behind a black curtain.

The same children came running with their hoop and sticks behind the rogue. They were completely oblivious to the intruders and interested only in their game.
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Old February 6, 2017, 02:28 PM   #15 (permalink)
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It seemed as though even the sounds of his footsteps refused to carry as he entered the darkness. The rogue scowled at this but the expression could not be seen. He reached into his belt, retrieving the bauble he had been given by the ratta who had brought out the latent spellbreaking abilities in him. He held it up, hoping that its propensity to begin glowing more brightly in darkness would help reveal their path.

He wondered if his partner was even still here. It was hard not feel as though they had entered two entirely different rooms.

He shot a look over his shoulder at the children, his lips twisting in severe annoyance at the distraction. He swept out with his blade towards them, seemingly unconcerned with the fact that they were children. They weren't real, after all, right?

The conviction with which he sliced outward would have made one wonder if he even cared.
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