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Old March 9, 2019, 09:35 PM   #16
Richter Glendale
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Making their way out of the tavern Richter couldn’t help but think they were leaving the frying pan behind in exchange for the fire itself. He also noted the Jagara’s choice of words. The boss could use them. But for what? The mercenary had come seeking information, not a job. He already had one of those, one which he was already on verge of ignoring for want of more information on slavers.

As he dutifully followed their guides and the group headed outside to made their way down the ladder, Richter couldn’t help but feel this was all a little ominous. It did little to help calm him that they were being led by two silent escorts, but Richter did remark inwardly that every one of their troupe seemed more than capable of handling themselves in most situations, and that whatever boss needed, someone here likely had a fitting skill set.

When the group arrived at the tunnel entrance, Richter bent low to avoid smacking his head on the overhead arch. He was at first surprised someone would make their lair down here. Not only for the inconvenience of it, but desert climates typically didn’t lend themselves to significant excavations or any real digging, which made even simple root cellars a rarity. Moving along the muddy floor, the scout then realized that most people would assume the same and would not to think to look for much of anything down here. Someone of boss’s reputation likely had enemies, and this place seemed to offer him the sort of protection that was likely hard to find these days.

Once the group moved out of the tunnel and into the lair proper Richter was able to get a good look at their host. Boss was certainly not what he had expected. His small stature likely meant that the man before him was either cunning or wealthy, possibly both. This man seemingly had his pick of any of the sell-swords above them them. He certainly commanded respect in this town, and Richter made a mental note he would be sure not underestimate boss or his help.

Taking the offered seat, Richter listened to the boss explain the situation and his offer. Again, he couldn’t help but think he already had a job. Though he tried not to let his immediate frustration show, the way this was starting bothered him. He had come for information, not an interview. He also couldn’t help but wonder why boss would want the security with the main to have a lower profile than those at the fore and aft. Often the best way to avoid trouble was to simply look like you could handle anything anyone threw your way and let that serve as a deterrent. He disliked the idea of being bait, even if he was with companions as well armed as these.

The dark haired elf responded to boss first, raising valid concerns Richter shared. Richter hadn’t missed boss’s comment and his several moments-too-long stare. It had given Richter a bad feeling, and it didn’t surprise him when the elf responded first.

Unable to hold down his frustration at boss’s pretentiousness any longer, Richter interjected without waiting for Boss to reply “I’m not looking for money, or a job. It’s information I want. Now, if you’re offering that as payment, I might be a bit more interested in all this, but I want to know the details about the slavers I’ve heard so much about. Then we can talk about escorting whatever it is you’re transporting.” Richter’s response was firm, more direct then angry, but he let his frustration at current situation show. Richter needed to set expectations from the very beginning of this professional relationship, and he didn't like how it was starting or how it seemed it would continue to go.
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Old March 10, 2019, 07:39 PM   #17
Kythaela Balfir
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This was getting interesting. Kytha didn't say much as they walked to meet the 'boss,' but her eyes occasionally looked to make contact with Cal's, trying to assess his thoughts as they walked. The human seemed to be the 'leader' for the time being-which was fine with Kythaela. Someone had to be it, and while she was here for her own purposes, she was not the leading type. Especially when it could come down to other people's lives.



Kytha preferred to stand, unsure if she was going to stay or leave. If the 'boss' didn't have anything she was wanting to hear or was useful, then there was no reason to stick around in her mind. She watched Calanon sit, then the human, before she looked at the rest of the members of the 'group,' wondering if they would make themselves comfortable. Suddenly, Calanon more or less said what was on Kytha's mind, and the human wasn't long after. Maybe a little more abrupt than she would have stated, but both men had valid points and meant the same thing in her mind.


"I actually would like to start with what's being transported first." Kytha finally chipped in, with a casual shrug of her petite shoulders. "I think it's fair to know what it is we might be dying for....I mean if it's something that's going to raise some brows from people other than you-meaning people that are fairly law abiding and you have nothing we really worth the exchange in regards to the slavers--then I'm thinking we might have to venture elsewhere for what it is we're looking for."
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Old March 10, 2019, 10:21 PM   #18
Moss Oktra'rek
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Moss nodded politely back at Calanon's returned greeting, though he sensed a wariness in the elf's green eyes. The pair had shared many adventures - and almost as many misadventures - but things were not the same between them as in times gone by. The mystic was hopeful that might change, and he knew he'd have his work cut out for him if that was to happen. He had said his piece already, but actions would have to speak louder than words.

Eyes as grey as steel narrowed as the Jagara spoke of how useful they might be for Boss. The human didn't much like the idea of being a mere tool in someone else's hand, but it seemed like he who wielded power at The Nightfall Tavern likely also held information on the slavers.

He was certainly hoping that was the case when the pair of Arakmatans appeared, adorned in nothing but leggings and scars, their immense size making even a person of his stature feel small.

A cursory glance was sent around the others - and to Calanon, in particular - to gauge their responses before Moss found himself falling into line and following the silent guides outside. He pulled his keffiyeh up around his nose and mouth as they stepped back out into the brightness, but before his vision had adjusted, it was thrust into the darkness of a well as he descended into the Zenith underworld. So blinded by the radiant contrast, he was temporarily forced to navigate the metal rungs by touch alone, choosing to keep his eyes closed rather than attempt to rely on them.

Once his boots met an earthen surface, however, his eyes opened and although the sights that greeted him were far from comforting, he was grateful for the respite from the heat above. That was enough for him to pull the keffiyeh back away from his face and, with a tentative glance in Calanon's direction, he hunched his shoulders as the group moved through the small space. The two Arakmatans, already large individuals, were made to appear as giants as they seemed to almost double over to fit through the tunnel.

The former soldier was relieved to step into the cellar, and he - like Calanon - found himself stretching his large frame, rolling his shoulders to keep the aches at bay. He was still adjusting to his body's newfound freedom when he heard the sound of coins colliding with one another.

Clink.

Clink.

Clink.

He looked across at the half-Arakmatan, half-Cether, and quickly became a willing observer. Boss' small frame did nothing to make the mystic think less of him. If anything, he seemed more dangerous, for if one with such a seemingly disadvantageous physical frame could command others so easily, then he must have no small amount of slyness and guile. Moss' grey eyes studied the man, and he was deliberate to not laugh at the man's jest, for he was sure it was intended to be as cold and humourless as the rest of his demeanour.

He decided to take the offered seat, quickly realising the man was playing a game - even if that was merely an attempt to impress the group with his power and influence - and that to play along was his best chance of avoiding being played himself. Or perhaps he was already being played...

When Boss began to speak of business, and others began to ask their questions, Moss sat back in his seat, content to hear the answers before considering any questions of his own. And as the conversation began to unfold, he studied Boss - not merely his words, but also his facial expressions and mannerisms. He wasn't distracted by the pile of coins; he was less interested in what the man was offering than in what he was hiding.

Secrets :

Equipment:
A studded leather gambeson that covers his torso from shoulders to beyond his waist over a leather long sleeved coat that goes some way to protecting his arms, leggings of the same material, and thick leather gloves.
A nice set of leather armour, reinforced with metal, that helps keep Moss warm in cool temperatures and cool in warm temperatures.
A fine Trolls' Bane Longsword, enchanted to deal "more damage than it should" to trolls.
A steel longsword that gently glows in the darkness to help light a dim area around the wielder. This ability cannot be deactivated.
Standard longsword.
Small dagger with a plain blade.
Heater shield.

Miscellaneous:
Travel knapsack.
Waterskin (x3), full to the brim.
Rations.
Travel miscellany: spare clothes, including a white keffiyeh; flint and steel; rope; tent.
Golden mineral that provides enhanced reflexes and awareness of one's surroundings. Enough for about 2* more uses. Lasts for 10 minutes and begins to work quickly.

Skills:
Bladed Weapons [Level 2]
Mysticism [Level 2] (Vis Level: 9/9)
Unarmed Combat [Level 2]

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Old March 13, 2019, 02:51 PM   #19
Straylor Leonard

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"Misadventure"

Calanon asked some uncomfortable questions. (Continued)

Richter asked for some more details. (Continued)

Kytha asked if this was worth dying for. (Continued)

Moss wondered what Boss was hiding. (Continued)

Everyone:

The pocket-sized Arkamatian’s eyes narrowed when the strange assortment of elves and humans responded with a little less enthusiasm than he was accustomed to.

Ever since the sudden interest in protecting the caravan trains leaving Zenith to Arium and the rest of the Eastern Realms, Boss learned to deal with an array of strangers and odd characters. Just a few cycles ago, there were paladins and spies from the Church pretending (badly) to be unarmed missionaries. He had seen Claw Knights seeking additional guards (aka meat shields) for a small group of what Boss assumed to be exiled katta nobles returning from the ruins of Silrosia or the sacred places of the ancient prides. But most of the bounties and jobs that passed through his network usually involved mercs or old soldiers trying to get a piece of the action. These opportunists were easy to recruit and were loyal to coin above all else.

Boss might never admit it, but he was at the right place at the right time -- something he’s waited for nearly his whole life.

But the bandits on the road were more organized than anyone gave them credit for. The serpent, as the saying went, had a head. Boss reluctantly shared this with the adventurers before him. The caravans were just barely making it out of the highways these last couple of times. The attacks were growing more sophisticated, their foes better armed.

“They used to attack the guards”, Boss went on. “Which gave the caravan’s main some time to regroup and retreat or escape. But our scouts reported that the cutthroats are using real tactics against us. We lost a few caravans … and they didn’t stop to loot or kill like they used to. Like they have discipline. They went straight for the stragglers, the women and children …”

“Some of the survivors claim that the bandits left those who were too sick or old behind. ‘Said they were only looking for healthy bodies. And they have a particular proclivity for elves.” This seemed to explain Boss’ initial interest in Calanon, but that didn’t make the sorcerer any less comfortable with the Arkamatian. “If you ask me, the sick bastards got a taste for slaves. And they’re learning to pick on caravans without engaging the rear or the van if they can help it.”

“That makes them even more dangerous. And gives us more reason to have people with the passengers who can blend in.”

The implications seemed outrageous. But from a business sense, it came down to assurances. If the slavers were somehow slipping through the caravan guards, then the people they were protecting would need an added layer of security. It was just a matter of finding the 'volunteers' for the operation.

"The caravan leaving at dawn is meant to be a lure, a trap. My investors are getting nervous. They want the bandits stopped -- once and for all."
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Old March 13, 2019, 05:39 PM   #20
Moss Oktra'rek
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Moss was still leaning back in his seat, listening to the clink, clink, clink of coins as Boss continued, the mystic resisting the temptation to let the smallest of smiles tease at the edge of his mouth as the diminutive man realised this group wouldn't be so easily bought. Money was a wonderful thing, no doubt, but the Arakmatan would need to find something more persuasive if he wanted a man like Moss Oktra'rek to show some serious interest.

And then he did precisely that.

The mention of slaves had Moss sitting forward, eyes simultaneously lighting up as his gaze narrowed, and he did nothing to hide the fact that the shorter man had caught his attention. Initially, it had seemed as though Boss simply wanted to group to protect some goods as they crossed the desert, but the mention of people being taken...well, this was what had brought Moss to Zenith in the first place, and he could feel his right palm forming a fist as adrenaline began to tease at his senses.

"If we're to protect your caravan," he announced, his gravelly voice echoing off the cellar walls, "we'll need as much information as you can spare. How many attackers are there? How are they armed? Are they humans, or do they have other races fighting for them?"

Moss paused to hear the man's answers, but he knew there was much to do. Protecting a caravan was one thing, but putting an actual end to the attacks was something entirely different. That would involve finding the cesspit from where such societal sewage was coming, and sealing it closed.

"Where do you suppose these slavers come from? Where are they taking their captives?"

Moss flicked a glance in Calanon's direction, but the Sylrosian's involvement no longer mattered. The former militiaman would be protecting the caravan - and its inhabitants - with or without his friend.

Secrets :

Equipment:
A studded leather gambeson that covers his torso from shoulders to beyond his waist over a leather long sleeved coat that goes some way to protecting his arms, leggings of the same material, and thick leather gloves.
A nice set of leather armour, reinforced with metal, that helps keep Moss warm in cool temperatures and cool in warm temperatures.
A fine Trolls' Bane Longsword, enchanted to deal "more damage than it should" to trolls.
A steel longsword that gently glows in the darkness to help light a dim area around the wielder. This ability cannot be deactivated.
Standard longsword.
Small dagger with a plain blade.
Heater shield.

Miscellaneous:
Travel knapsack.
Waterskin (x3), full to the brim.
Rations.
Travel miscellany: spare clothes, including a white keffiyeh; flint and steel; rope; tent.
Golden mineral that provides enhanced reflexes and awareness of one's surroundings. Enough for about 2* more uses. Lasts for 10 minutes and begins to work quickly.

Skills:
Bladed Weapons [Level 2]
Mysticism [Level 2] (Vis Level: 9/9)
Unarmed Combat [Level 2]

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Old March 14, 2019, 04:53 AM   #21
Richter Glendale
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Richter listened intently as boss provided additional details about the mission. Richter had wondered how boss’ need for caravan security and subsequent offer were connected to the rumors he had heard of the slavers in the area. Now it all made sense. As the small man continued, Richter felt that despite bosses likely less than altruistic motives, he had to do something about the situation. Losing guards as caravan security was unfortunate but generally accepted as an occupational hazard. Marauders who specifically target women and children for slavery was something else entirely.

For a few moments Richter’s mind wandered as he thought of his own family. Knowing his own loss didn’t really parallel the current situation he brushed the thought aside. All he could do now is help the living.

The mercenary’s hunch to not underestimate the small man proved to be a good one and despite the boss’ small stature his plan seemed shrewd. It was likely the bandits would expect some sort of response eventually but by blending in with the main the group Richter now found himself in might just have the advantage. However, Richter found it concerning that the bandits seemed to be using some advanced tactics and thought it likely the bandit leader had been more than a simple bandit at some point in time. If the bandits were targeting people for slaves, someone had to be buying them.

Leaning forward in his chair, Richter was about to ask some follow up questions when he heard the blonde bearded man speak up. Richter listened as he went almost point by point through the same questions Richter had intended to ask boss himself. Richter already thought the man looked like he knew how to handle himself, now, based on his line of questioning, Richter thought the man had to have been prior military of some stripe. He’d have to strike up a conversation with the man later.

Once Moss finished his questions Richter had just a few more of his own.

“Do you know any more about the tactics they employ, how they maneuver on the main caravan itself? Is there any reason to think they might have local reinforcements that could come to their aid?”

Sitting back into his chair once he finished talking Richter realized there was one more topic that needed to be addressed “Also, how much are you plannin’ to pay?” He had almost forgotten to ask. Although he probably would have done it for free given the specifics, Richter knew one critical aspect of being a mercenary was getting paid.
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Old March 14, 2019, 06:56 AM   #22
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The Sylrosian was more than happy to listen: to what Boss had to say, to what Moss and that dark-haired human offered in response.

Much of the small man's words tied into what he knew already, bandits had been plaguing Arium too, and if they were unchecked here then there was nothing to stop them deciding to take their chances further East too. The fact that these bandits seemed to have interests that lay in a certain direction had the elf's eyes narrow a little. Slavery was no new thing to the Empire, but he despised it, and when Boss mentioned that elves were a favourite it only confirmed Calanon's fears: that those already displaced by the horrors that befallen his homeland were falling to victim to yet more cruelty. Not entirely dismissing the idea that 'Boss' was just playing on what would be an obvious trigger for him and those other elves gathered here, he equally could not ignore the possibility that it was truth that fell from the man's lips.

Were there time, he would have been tempted to seek out his brethren, to have this caravan manned with Sword Dancers who would have taken pleasure in educating these bandits that their people were not fair game, not prey nor property to be herded and traded like cattle. But as it was, it seemed the opportunity to do so would lie with he and those gathered here instead.

The elf ran a speculative gaze over his companions. Moss, of course, he knew, and it would not be the first time they had fought on the same side. Kythaela too, had proven her worth in his opinion, and he knew the Lord Elsdragon was supposedly a fine swordsman. These others though, they were unknown, and he wondered at what they brought to the table. Trust was a rare commodity in itself, particularly when one's life might depend on those you chose to align yourself with. He was less than comfortable already with the fact that Boss' hired muscle at the van and rear guard was exactly that- hired muscle who were as likely to be turning a blind eye to the slavers for a few coin as fighting them off.

" And you trust the accounts of these guards you have hired? You are certain that they are not receiving a bigger pay off from those who 'attack'?"

He kept his tone neutral, framing it as a question more than an accusation. though he was not enamoured of the man. He doubted Boss could give a real answer, the risk was always there with mercenaries. But it was a risk he knew he would accept, if only to be able to see first hand the extent of the problem. He could then decide if it were something he might take to the Brethren, or to his employer, both of which were parties he thought might have in interest in such an issue.
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Old March 14, 2019, 11:42 AM   #23
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It was always fun to draw people around his music, but fate seem to be pushing him along the right way, to the reason why he was here. Well, at least he thought it was.

The elf barely had the time to taste the sour drink of the Jagara when the scarred Arkamatans appeared. They had claimed to be taking them to their 'boss'. He quickly place some coins on the table and began following the ground.

As he followed, he remembered times not too many eras ago when he would brashly lead everyone. In the recent times, he preferred to hang back and keep a low key until he had more information about everything and everyone. Thus kept to the back and followed everyone else to see the 'boss'...

The 'boss'... He mused at all the alias people used to show their power while keeping their identity.

They took some time, climbing down stairs and walking around to see the 'boss'. Alphonsus wondered if it was the real deal or was the person just a shadow, someone to speak on behalf of the big man. That short musing robbed him off the chance to ask a question as Kytha popped it first. He should really pay more attention at hand instead of musing away. Well, there was something good that came out from his delayed action. He could tell his potential allies were had the... potential.

As the boss spoke, the more Alphonsus felt there were more to it. He had encountered many a bandit in his life. Bandits were opportunists and they always attack to chase away guards so as to get the pick of the caravan's goods, not much tactics were involved... Then again, it wouldn't be too surprising if bandits finally evolved themselves to gain some tactical knowledge... The surprising part was the bandits were not too interested in the loot... Probably slavers, like what what the rumors had claimed.

The elf bard knew why was the boss eyeing Calanon, as the slavers were hunting elves. He wondered why the boss didn't include him. He was an elf too! Then he remembered he was still wearing a hood. Maybe that's why.

"Well," Alphonsus finally spoke up and dropped his hood. "It is not uncommon to see me sitting on top a caravan to play a few songs on my flute or harp. It would be an irresistible lure and the music would allow others to follow easily. It can also be a signal. The question I have, and I will be direct about it due to time constraint here, what else are you not telling us? Something that may have slipped your mind." It was a reasonable assumption that the boss would keep some secrets.
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Old Yesterday, 10:39 PM   #24
Straylor Leonard

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"Half Now, Half Later"

Moss asked about the slavers. (Continued)

Richter asked about tactics and the payscale. (Continued)

Calanon asked about Boss’ source. (Continued)

Alphonsus asked if Boss had anything else to add -- after volunteering his musical talents. (Continued)

Everyone:

“I have considered that”, the uncommonly small fellow remarked at Calanon’s comment. Trust was one of those things that became more expensive over time. It was an investment with little payoff and plenty of risk. But Boss did not look like a fool and his stony expression suggested as much. “The scouts’ reports and the details some survivors provided were consistent.”

“They are taking them to the sea”, Boss continued, turning to Moss even as his fingers continued to absentmindedly stack and shuffle the pieces of silver and bronze in front of him. “We think there is a camp up north, near the bay but far enough to avoid Arium patrols from Port Wessex.” Then the Arkamatian put arranged a few columns of copper coins to illustrate a spear formation cutting into a line of silver coins representing the caravan. “They attack in groups of five or ten riders. Mostly humans but some say they have orcs. The Sherian kind. Very ugly. After sending infantry to disrupt the main van and cut off the rear.”

Boss then eyed Richter. “You know this tactic?” The question must have been rhetorical because the tiny man continued, “They seem to be growing in size. We think, like us, they have fresh recruits. Maybe mercs.”

When talk returned to coin and payment, Boss seemed to relax a little.

“Ten silvers per enemy head. Double for each woman and child that arrives safely in Mileswick.” With his spidery fingers, he constructed a perfect pyramid of silver coins in the middle of the long table between himself and the adventurers. “I will have a headcount in a few candlemarks. This is a good deal, yes?”
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