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Old March 25, 2018, 12:28 PM   #46
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Rhystlin had never been the sort of person wanting to lead just for the sake of it... she had been entirely content to follow along, assisting the party she felt to be in the right to her best abilities. And that was indeed what she had been doing, staying somewhat to the back, defending Dalia as best she could given the chaos of the moment.

The deep resounding tone of the voice that broke that chaos was both familiar, and yet not entirely. Rhystlin whirled, feeling a strange sense of recollection that took her deep into the pit of Zinn'sunn for only a moment. Only when her eyes landed on the new arrival did she realize why. It was not that often someone like her laid eyes upon an Ancient, but there one was, in all her glowing glory, demanding a "cease in hostilities" of the armored figures all about her.

The elf looked around, appearing baffled, wondering if the Fists would also consider the Ancient's voice in addition to Dahlia's. Rhys's seemed to be the only one that had drifted, lost, among the noise - but that seemed to be expected, given that she was very much out of place here.

She allowed herself to set all that aside and to be swept up in the push toward the room. Her eyes seemed to flit back and forth between the Ancient and the grisly scene ahead, though, seemingly unsure of just what was more deserving of her shocked attention. Her lips twisted immediately upon seeing the Archprelate's lifeless form afterward, realizing now that there was little truth they would receive openly from him.

Her eyes then grazed the glasses, the direction in which he fell, attempting to glean what answers seemed locked in place on Ovan's lips. Whoever he had been entertaining, he had been comfortable enough to do so in his bedclothes, and she immediately sought out any other corpses that might have belonged to his mysterious guests. Someone had attempted to cover the body, had either seen or come upon the death here. For all she knew, that same person or so had been the ones to cause it.

She was stepping warily toward the decanter and glasses when the Ancient spoke at last. The half-elf shot a glance over her shoulder at the woman but did not respond otherwise. Instead, she moved toward the wine, wondering if she could discern if any of it had been consumed or not, reaching out slowly to take one of the glasses in the gloved hand not resting on her sword hilt.
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Old July 21, 2018, 08:36 AM   #47
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The doors opened.

"Sacred Three" The elf whispered as the sight of the ruined room met her eyes. For a second she almost missed the body in the chaos, but once her gaze was drawn there it was hard to look away. Along with the others she cautiously moved forward, even though it was unlikely that there would be immediate threats to face here. The man on the floor was clearly dead, and whoever had done this would have been twice a fool to stick around after the fact.

Dalia was not new to the sight of death, but still, seeing a man who'd met his end over a glass of wine and with his slippers on was a very different experience. Disgraceful?. Maybe, but the elf inwardly considered that a very poor description of what had happened here.

Glancing over at Rhystlin, who'd picked up one of the glasses, the sergeant moved over herself to the body and, setting aside some momentary squeamishness, gently raised the doily that had been laid over the man's face. The Archprelate? Dalia had never seen the man, but... that's what it looked like.

Her mind whirled. This didn't add up. There was no sign that Hasta had been killed by a blade, but given the circumstances, it seemed unlikely that he'd just keeled over on his own. At the same time, if someone had killed him, then why also go to trouble of covering his face and body? Some sort of misguided attempt to mitigate the crime?

Dalia sat back slightly on her heels, acutely aware of the audience at her back. She didn't know the ancient, and she didn't want to break the delicate control she had over the Fists.... and the remaining Vigils, not that there were many of those left. They'd been protecting this. Out of some sort of last-ditch attempt to prevent word from spreading, or... had they known something all along?

Someone had been welcomed in here, killed the Archprelate, and then did their best to destroy the room for.... what?

"The wine?" Dalia nodded quietly at the goblet Rhystlin held in her hand, willing the other woman to see the hidden question she didn't ask up front in her eyes. Had it been drunk? ...Could it have been poisoned?

In the meantime Dalia herself gently moved back the throw rug, fingers lightly coursing along the dead man's body in search of - well, she wasn't quite sure what. But perhaps if she found it, she'd know.
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Old August 8, 2018, 04:01 AM   #48
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The sordid scene of the Archprelate’s demise remained largely undisturbed outside the throw rug and doily that had been set to cover the body of the figurehead of the Aetherian Faith within the Medonian Continent. Octavia’s words sounded throughout the chamber, echoing the sentiment of both sides of the warring factions of the Church as they remained bound to Dalía’s Command (even if they had been a little heavy on the righteousness).

Moving through the room without opposition any more serious than a few furrowed brows and scowls from the Fists of Maj, Rhystlin couldn’t spy any other corpses within the room though footprints had indeed smeared the blood on the floor. Such as it was, the footsteps within the tracks of blood didn’t belong to the unsullied feet of the Archprelate nor did the prints match the boots of the soldiers. Rather, they were the right size and make of the servants and junior Priests and Monks.

The decanter was considerably drained, the glasses of which at least two had been heavily consumed with the third being nigh untouched beyond perhaps a sip or two.

Doily in hand, the unseeing eyes of the Archprelate stared up at Dalía with their glassy gaze. Short of an Adjurator on hand, there was no help of answers to be found stemming from Hastra himself. Removal of the throw rug revealed more of the elderly Priest’s body, namely the matching night-robe that had an embroided Cabbit upon the right breast and a sizeable stain of red wine where the fourth of the goblets had been spilled. Disapproval whispered from behind, rebellious mutterings from the Fists of Maj and the Vigils alike at Dalía man-handling the corpse of the Archprelate.

Rope burns here and there, the smell of olive oil and red wine. Incense. But no blood, no signs of entry wounds that belied a stabbing. No broken bones or strangulation marks.
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Old September 2, 2018, 08:59 PM   #49
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Hm.

Octavia would take a look at the wine. Magic could purify, but could it detect? Was it possible for the Ancient to determine whether there was anything within the liquid that didn't 'belong' to the base wine itself?

With no obvious sign of violence, a quieter end through poison certainly seemed possible.
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Old September 11, 2018, 06:11 AM   #50
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Dalia frowned down at the body, acutely aware of the disapproval emanating from the various religious warriors standing about. There weren't any obvious signs of murder - no blood, that is - but... he'd obviously been drinking from the wine before he died. Maybe that was it?

And also... rope burns? That was odd, wasn't it? Why would a rich and powerful man like an Archprelate, who didn't do anything more physically draining than picking up a book or writing letters, have rope burns?

The elf leaned a bit closer, trying to examine the burns and see if she could discern anything by their placement on his body - were they around his wrists? Or somewhere else?
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Old November 11, 2018, 02:17 PM   #51
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Rhystlin was crouched gingerly near the bloody footprints, careful not to touch or stomp over them as she observed their size and shape. Briefly, she glanced over her shoulder, hearing the mutters of disapproval and soon discovering the source. Unconcerned with what they were going on about, she turned back to what she was doing, finding it far more critical to the task at hand than to judge Dalia on how she was going about the same.

Each wine glass seemed to have been moved in some capacity, although the number of corpses didn't seem to match up with the number of drinks. The half-elf frowned but left the Ancient to investigate the wine, determining that if anyone might discover its makeup, Rhystlin would rather not be the one to do it.

She retraced the smear of blood - an unnatural amount of which seemed scattered about the room despite the nature of the Archprelate's death - and attempted to backtrack where the body - or bodies - might have gone. Someone had been slaughtered and taken elsewhere. Perhaps a servant had been blamed for the Archprelate's death and killed right on the spot - which would line up with the theory that the wine had been the culprit. Or perhaps the sorry soul had seen too much, such as who might have survived what would otherwise have been a clean assassination. She would have asked if any of the soldiers had done it, but none of the footprints belonged to them - that much she could tell. So whoever had been cut down, it seemed far more likely that they had found that end before the Fists had discovered the scene.

In any case, she was ruling out any hidden passages within the room for now. Whatever had happened, the Archprelate seemed to have suspected nothing, or at least to have been comfortable enough to break bread in his pajamas. She imagined what situation had led up to his death might have seemed otherwise routine to the poor sod. It was what had happened shortly after that the half-elf was more concerned with for now. Who had been bloodied and why? And where had the body gone?
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Old May 11, 2019, 09:55 PM   #52
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Poison within the decanter? Only if one worked on the definition that it hadn’t been deliberately imbibed. Insofar as Octavia could determine, the wine was laced with other substances but it had the feel of being more for recreational purposes rather than an effort to kill the Archprelate. A combination of mood altering narcotics had been added to the wine along with a toxin that while likely to cause long term damage to the man’s kidneys seemed to serve little purpose other than as a hallucinogen.

Dalía’s observations largely served to reinforce that the Archprelate might have been the central authority on morality within the Imperium, but behind closed doors there was a sense of deviancy about the man. Upon closer inspection, the rope burns around the wrists while new, were obscuring the signs of chafing and healed skin that belied that this was something of a frequent occurrence within the Archprelate’s life. A touch of concealer about the throat too to hide strangulation markers.

Hidden passages? Of that, Rhystlin was a winner of sorts as following the blood belied that the Archrelate’s chamber did indeed have a passageway found conveniently alongside one of the room’s bookshelves in the adjoining office. Next to this was a dumbwaiter from which the scent of spices and cooked turkey was gently wafting through the immediate area. Of the passageway itself, the corridor was well-lit with fresh lanterns and the ground showed no signs of blood nor accumulated dust.
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Old May 15, 2019, 02:35 PM   #53
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Should the Archprelate be given the benefit of the doubt in regards to the compounds present in his drink? The most obvious deduction was that the man liked his wine a little extra spicy, but it was entirely possible somebody spiked it so that he'd be in the perfect state for somebody to slip in and kill him. Being under the influence of a hallucinogen likely wouldn't do him any favors in such a scenario.

Less conjectures, she decided, and more cold hard facts. "There's narcotics present in the wine. No obvious poisons, merely... hallucinogens, most likely." Let the peanut gallery interpret that as they would.

In the meantime? A hidden passage, another lead. Not the sort, it seemed, that was rarely used in emergency. This one seemed to be used frequently, or at the very least, was kept quite well-maintained. Octavia sent a quick magical ping into the passageway, to see if there was anything that could be easily gleaned - whether there were any traps, whether there was anybody within it a little further down, possibly hidden.

She glanced towards Dalia and Rhystlin. "What shall we do about the body?" You know, if they went to investigate the passageway. Was somebody going to stay behind? Should they all go?
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Old June 29, 2019, 08:24 PM   #54
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While trailing the path of the blood in the way one might recount an arithmetic equation in their head, the half elf's eyes nearly missed the telltale signs of the hidden passageway. But experience raiding an old tomb or two had sharpened the woman's instincts, and her eyes halted at the light scratches on the wall - the wear of this side of the bookshelf over the other.

She felt at the structure with gloved fingertips before finding the latch, grunting half in the effort to open the pathway and half in sympathetic thought. She couldn't imagine what it was like to be seized upon in a space she might have considered safe. Her mercenaries were uncouth but amid them, she had never been afraid.

She called to the attention of her newfound companions before stepping back for the moment.

When the Ancient asked after the body, her eyes flicked briefly in the direction of the scene she'd left behind. She didn't think it was her place to say, given that she was more of an outsider here than the lot of them. The only thing that betrayed the discomfort with the question was how the half-elf tugged idly at the wrist-strap of her gloves. She half-turned away, lifting a single shoulder as she did so.

"I would leave it to the Fists,"
she said with the air of a woman who didn't expect her opinion to be heeded. She assumed the devout who now surrounded the corpse had their own ideas on its best form of treatment. She wasn't particularly worried that a culprit would come in behind them and foul up the evidence. The sheer amount of eyes about the room right now seemed unlikely to let up soon.

"Besides, I'd rather have another set of eyes with me here," she said as she drew a small dagger from her belt and stepped into the passageway. "A set belonging to the sort whose testimony is more likely to be believed, should we run afoul of whatever it is we're looking for.”
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Old July 6, 2019, 07:22 PM   #55
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Closer inspection of the body revealed that there were other, healing and already healed scars beneath the rope burns. Dalia frowned in concentration as she peered at them. What the.... Those marks would have suited a long captivity, but of course, this was the Archprelate - surely one of the last people who could be held captive for a long period of time, in his own chambers no less, without anyone else's knowledge. But if not that, then what?

Honestly, the grey elf had no idea. If she had been a more worldly person, she might have lighted upon a seemingly equally preposterous, but rather tantalizing, alternative - especially when paired with what the Ancient had to say about the wine. Unfortunately Dalia was not that person, and the rope burns remained a complete and utter mystery to her.

"I do not understand it." She said out loud as she sat back on her heels, her frown as deep and as puzzled as ever. "It looks like he has been held against his will for a long time, but surely that's impossible."

Well, there were other avenues of investigation still left. Perhaps the question of the rope burns would be solved in due course, like the mystery of the spiked wine or the disappearing blood.

As far as leaving the body went... "Surely we may leave him here as he was and expect to find him untouched when we return.". Dalia's glance involuntarily wandered to the Fists, upon whom her "surely" surely depended. "Whatever anyone may think of him, even when he lived, he was the leader of the Church of the Faith - a representative of Ioannes' law on Telath." Twisting about, Dalia gently moved the sheet that had covered the Archprelate's body back into place, covering him, then pushed her forearms off her knees to stand.

"Lead the way." She nodded to Rhystlin, implicitly indicating that she'd be the half-elf's back-up, the same way the mercenary had acted for her when they'd faced down the Fists.
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