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Author Topic: Cloak and Dagger: CoS in Baden's Bluff  (Read 21401 times)
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Pheros
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« on: April 20, 2008, 03:07:29 AM »

This thread will be used by my players for the Baden's Bluff portion of our campaign (as we're going to have to take a break from meeting in person for a little while).

The Characters are:

Gardrun, Honorable Dwarf Defender of Durgis Rock
Clara, Charismatic Gnome Rogue, with a scarf named Sasha that speaks to her
Assad, Quickened Sarcosan Fighter, defector from the Shadow armies who still wears their brand on his skin
Jehna, Healer Erenlander Fighter, sent to find Vordemis, the former party member killed recently

They have just arrived in the city of Baden's Bluff at the end of our last session, and we pick up from there.

Note to my players:  please start all posts with your character name in bold.  Please put all internal dialog in italics.  Languages are distinguished by color (listed in the pull-down), but a [language] tag at the beginning wouldn't hurt (e.g. [trader] "This is in Trader").  Anything out of character start with an [OoC] tag and use the slategray color, (e.g. [OoC] I roll Bluff (+6) ).  I'll do all the rolls, just give me appropriate bonuses.

And away we go...
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Pheros
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2008, 03:15:26 AM »

Arc of Shareen, 25th day
Moon is 3rd quarter
Evening
The bridge over the Aransway canal, aka Aran's Gates


Clara has just arrived, finding Assad and Gardrun tired, wet, and cold, but unfound.  Jehna is no longer with the other two.  She turns over the spare cloaks to the two after they have shaken off as much water as possible, and then turns to face the seething city that is Baden's Bluff.



The Stone Docks

Jehna has just been let ashore by a kind fisherman who pulled her from the Sea without too many questions regarding her badly sold lies.  Far too few questions to make her comfortable, but perhaps it's just the nature of this city to not ask questions...
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Clara
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2008, 03:55:36 PM »

CLARA

After transferring the cloaks to Assad and Gardrum, Clara begins to make her way down the dark streets to Ale's Quayhouse.

Focus.  Stay far enough ahead of them that you do not seem associated, but not so far ahead that they cannot come to your aid should disaster strike.  Be nonchalant and inconspicuous, but do not seem to be deliberately acting nonchalant and inconspicuous.  A gnome of no importance on her way from a place of no importance to another place of no importance.  Find the expression.  Find the stride.  Wear the proper mask for the occasion.  There.

Her body language established, Clara maintains the facade with one part of her mind while another ranges further ahead.

Now.  Our unknown pursuer from the East should be easily able to determine Tuck's involvement.  Why did I not kill him?  Oh, yes, because that would be "wrong".  I hope we will not pay with our lives for being "right".  What will the pursuer learn from torturing Tuck?  That we go to the elves has long been obvious; that we carry an object was likely already known, although not certainly.  However, assume that it is now known that Gardrum carries the object.  Worthwhile to transfer it to Assad?  Degree of difficulty to convince Gardrum: Moderately high.  Gain: Probably only moderate; even if Gardrum is made a primary target, if it is assumed that it knows that we know that it knows, it will also know it cannot let any of us escape and must search us all.  If the object is even its goal.  Table for now; keep transfer as possibility.

What else will it learn from Tuck?  Identity of Captain Horace/Honored Beauty.  So.  Assume Horace will be tortured as well upon return to riverlands.  Horace knows little of our ultimate goal; however, location of Ale's Quayhouse will be learned.  Our safety there, or any place they direct us, has a limited duration; same with any personnel chain that can be linked back to the Quayhouse.  Time is still an issue; the sooner we make contact with Western agents, the better.  Still, we likely have at least a few days before Horace is tortured ... perhaps.  Given that our opponent seems literally preternaturally able to track us, this may all be moot; possibly torture of Tuck/Horace will even be unnecessary.  We should not linger anywhere very long.

Clara continues on into the night.
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2008, 02:03:54 AM »

Clara:

A light fog has rolled into Baden's Bluff, turning figures into shadowy silhouettes; perfect for one trying to hide in a city of prying eyes, though not for one hoping to be followed by friends that can help in a fight.

As Clara wanders through the gloom of evening, she passes the occasional lit doorway that opens into a world of warmth, though something inside her tells Clara that any warmth or kindness is a fiction in this town.  As she turns a corner, a beggar sits against the building, his legs apparently useless.  He mumbles something in Trader that may or may not have mentioned food.  Clara passes, and as she turns the next corner, a glance over her shoulder reveals a blank spot where the beggar once sat.

Sasha nearly spits: "This place is filthy.  It would not be good for our image to get too dirty...how would we be pretty?  Do you think we'll find legates in this town?  I do hope so.  It's been so long since I've seen the blood of a legate..."

The road turns, giving a straight-shot view to the Wormwood Docks.  The xenophobia emanating from them make the Stone Docks look like the feast hall at Paradrum on that last night there...

Another corner, and Clara thinks she hears steps behind her, though a quick turn reveals nothing.  Probably just a rat.  Possibly a large, human-looking one...  Before her lies Ail's Quayhouse.  Again the hollow light casting a welcome to those who don't know better.
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2008, 02:36:56 AM »

Clara

Before approaching the Quayhouse, Clara casts a quick eye back to make sure Assad and Gardrum have been able to follow her ... and, perhaps, to see if she, or they, have been followed by any others.

"I'll be certain," Clara whispers under her breath, "to be careful where I step, you may be sure."  Sasha, Sasha, Sasha, Clara thinks as she quickly scans the area.  So new to the Mountain of Corpses, and already you're almost as loud as Father.  I hope I can keep you happy, my friend, my sister, my mirror, my addiction, my cautionary tale.  A battle for control in here is the last thing any of us needs.

At least, not until I am certain I would win it.
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2008, 02:46:52 AM »

Jehna:

Racking her brain, Jehna remembers what her old master said about elements in Baden's Bluff.  [Colonial]"If you need to contact the order while in Baden's Bluff, look for Ezekiel, in the southern region of the Stone Docks, near the dry docks."

Looking around, she watches as the fine evening fog rolls in, blanketing the town and turning the bright points of light in the windows into vague glows on the edge of vision.
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2008, 02:40:27 PM »

Clara

(If Clara's scan of the area reveals no immediate danger, she will approach the Quayhouse.)
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2008, 12:36:03 AM »

Assad let's Clara move ahead, keeping her in sight. 

I'll be lost in this orc's nest without her.  By the Sarsheff, I already long to be out of this city, on the way to the forest where I can at least see trouble on it's way...

He keeps his hands hidden within his cloak - it wouldn't do to let his cedeku - or the gauntlet - be seen. 

... and I hope Jehna is ok.  It seems she'd be even more out of her element here than I will be.  And I don't even want to think about Gardrun!  Fortunately, if one of us will be noticed, it's likely to be me.  Still, stealth is best.  I hope no goodbodies are abroad thinking I'm stalking Clara... only thieves thinking I'm a brother in their art.

[Ooc] hide +2, move silently +2

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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2008, 01:44:48 AM »

Assad & Gardrun:

As the two climb out from under the bridge, a quick glance reveals no prying eyes...or at least none that are announcing themselves.  Following the path Clara took, they keep her just at the edge of their line of sight.  The Stone Docks are quiet on this night, perhaps because of the fog, perhaps because of the ominous feeling in the air.  Glancing at his companion, Assad sees what he hopes is someone mistaken for an overweight human, short and stocky, but otherwise unremarkable and quite un-dwarven.  Although, in this time of famine and taxation, when the last time someone saw an overweight commoner is a worry, and nobles who were in the legates good graces enough to have ample food tended not to find themselves at night in the Docks with unsavory company such as the kinda Assad was hoping he looked like.

As they turn a corner, Assad and Gardrun see what appears to be a flash of a shadow moving from a sitting position on the street into a back alley, and Clara up ahead about to turn the next corner.  A rat scurries across the street, pausing mid-run to glance at the pair before scooting the rest of the way by.

Clara

The shades following her are a welcome sight for Clara, who knows the stocky figure no cloak can truly hide.  But who watches the watchmen?  And who followers the followers?

She turns, and steps through the threshold of the Quayhouse.  The stench of urine, bad ale, mildew and death waft toward her as she enters.  Just inside the entrance way, a young blond human child cleans a moderately fresh pool of blood off the floor boards.  Not big, and no more than an hour old.  This trip to the Quayhouse won't be the luxury reception she got from Tuk.

A tall Dornish woman is running the bar, while the clientel are composed of half a dozen gnomes, and two mixed-race humans, openly armed and armored and bearing the brand of the Shadow.  Clara had nearly become used to seeing it on friends, but if there were friends to be found here, she doubted they were to be them.

All eyes turn to Clara as she enters.  The soldiers dismiss her almost immediately, while the barkeep gives her a flat look and a forced smile.  A few of the gnomes give what she hopes are honest smiles, while the others attend to their drinks tiredly.  Of all present, the young child gives the most honest smile, one of innocence and faith that Clara has trouble believing hasn't been crushed and burned out of the your, pure soul.  She will learn in time though, or pay for not knowing how to play the game.

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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2008, 02:36:17 AM »

Clara

Clara returns the child's smile and gives her a nod, then takes a seat nearish to the other gnomes.  Her expression becomes more businesslike as she sits.

[trader] "An ale, if you would," she grunts at the bartender.

She leans back and gazes at nothing in particular.  After a brief pause, casually, she mentions -- to the bartender? to the gnomes?  It is not entirely clear whom she is addressing -- "I'm looking for a place to stay while I'm in port.  Some friends on the Honored Beauty pointed me in this direction."
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2008, 11:17:43 AM »

Clara:

The bartender nods brusquely, and begins pouring an ale.  As Clara speaks, one of the soldiers looks over and says thickly, [trader]"Well you're a pretty thing.  I know a bed or two you could keep warm, and an orc that might be looking for some fun...".  He and his companion chuckle, and go back to talking in low voices.  The bartender continues pouring the beer, as one of the gnomes comes over and sits with Clara.

In a low voice, he says: "The Beauty you say?  Just got back into port then?  Not usual to see it around here this time of year..."

As the gnome is speaking, the bartender hands the beer to the child, and waves her over toward Clara.  Reaching up, she takes the mug and smoothly, without spilling a drop, brings it over and sets it down next to Clara.  She gives a big friendly smile, but something tugs at Clara.  The eyes were all wrong.  Deep, blue, and cold, like someone wise beyond their years. 

"You're very pretty.  I like your hair," she says in a melodic, sing-song voice.  As the gaunt child turns and heads back to the bar, her beautiful golden curly hair stands out in stark contrast to her dingy, ill-fitting clothes, and grime-smeared face and hands.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2008, 11:24:52 AM by Pheros » Logged
Clara
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2008, 03:07:21 PM »

"Thank you," says Clara to the child.  "Your hair is very pretty, too."

Returning her attention to the gnome beside her, Clara replies, "Yes ... the Beauty just got in tonight.  My mates and me asked Captain Horace if he knew of a nice, quiet place to stay where we wouldn't be disturbed."  Clara's eye flicks, momentarily, to the soldiers at the other table.  The position and expression on the rest of her face remains unchanged.  "He pointed us in this direction."

[Sense Motive checks all around!  +9 regular, +11 vs. anyone who serves the Shadow.]
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2008, 12:09:00 PM »

Assad
What was that, ducking into the alley?  Damnit, I have to keep track of Clara...

Assad picks up the pace so he can peer around the corner, keeping track of Clara... and making sure to glance back at the alley mouth before stepping around the corner.
[OOC] Spot -1

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« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2008, 12:12:04 PM »

Clara:

The bartender stares silently at nothing in particular, giving no sign of inner thought, while the soldiers look more than just a little tipsy.

Around the room, the rest of the gnomes sit scattered, a few in pairs, a few on their own, all too far for Clara to get a good read on them.

The gnome across from Clara responds:  "Your mates?  Companions on the way?  Best hope they don't get bothered by the wrong types out in the night.

I think I could find a place for you and your friends...how many of them are there?  There's a place in the Steeps I think you could hole up."


However, Clara gets a queasy feeling from the gnome, not sure how true his intentions are...
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« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2008, 05:22:27 PM »

Clara

Clara nods, no change in her expression betraying her concerns about the gnome's motivations.

I should go and get my friends, then.  Best we talk this out together.  Is there a place we could meet to discuss it?

Clara takes some smoked meat from a bag and offers it as payment for the ale.
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2008, 08:52:16 PM »

Assad:

The thin light in the street hides everything more than a few feet into the alley, depriving Assad of answers he seeks.

As he peaks around the corner, he sees an open door, light creeping out, and no sign of Clara.

Clara: 

The gnome nods.  "Sure, meet me in the Wormdocks, first left then second right once over the Gate."  A smile  crosses his lips, somewhere between friendly and sly.  As he speaks, Clara finishes her ale, noticing at the bottom of the mug an 'X' scratched into the otherwise smooth pewter.

The gnome heads back to the table, quietly discussing something with a companion, as Clara heads to the bar to pay.  The bartender stares flatly at her, and her offer of meat.  Staring for a moment, she takes a small piece, no more than a quarter-ration, with a nod and pushed the rest back at Clara.
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2008, 08:57:30 PM »

Clara & Assad:

As Clara glances over her shoulder, she sees the gnome she was speaking with and his companion are no longer in the bar.

Assad on the street sees two gnomes leave the doorway he's watching and head quickly away from where he and Gardrun are standing.
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« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2008, 12:26:45 AM »

Jehna

Hefting her pack, Jehna takes a quick look around before heading the most south-ish direction the twisting streets will allow her. The encounter with the seemingly innocent fisherman had shaken her. She prided herself at blending in, at looking far too common to be noticed, and she was not used to being interrogated in any fashion... at least not by strangers. Pulling her worn and weathered cloak about her, she tries her best to maintain an unhurried pace. Ezekiel was unknown to her, which was not unusual within the Order, but she was certain by now that she had missed a message drop before arriving in Swift Water. She had never been to Baden's Bluff before and now she was moving without the information she was accustomed to having.

Information... that's it!

After another quick glance about her, Jehna darts into the nearest alley and rummages through her pack. Pulling out her newest possession, she opens the cover of the ancient-looking tomb and begins to leaf through the pages.

Tell me of Ezekiel... please, she pleads to the book.
[OoC] Search +3
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« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2008, 02:39:29 AM »

Clara

Clara nods to the barkeep.  Her finger visibly slides across the "X" as she pushes her empty mug back across the bar.

So.  I run a safehouse, and of course cannot speak openly - or even in coded terms - in front of clentele.  Notes are out of the question, even if they could be written or read.  How would I do it?

First, I would have an advance scout examine everyone who came into the establishment.  The drunk in the alley?  Possibly.  Then, if I thought someone was looking for the safehouse, I would make sure they saw a signal they could recognize later; anyone there by mistake would simply ignore it.  So, if that's what they're doing, the X on the mug.

I would let them leave the establishment, then present them with the recognition signal once they were outside.  The scout would have told me of their forces, so if I suspected a trap to expose the safehouse, I could make sure they were outnumbered -- or simply abort if they come in strength.  Most likely, I would also take them to a separate location for interrogation before bringing them to the actual safehouse.

All right.  Let's work with that theory for now.  If I'm wrong, it will be evident soon enough.  Now.  The gnomes.  Trouble?  Possibly.  At worst, the are agents of the Shadow, and someone will soon hear of a one-eyed gnome with reason to avoid troops.  More likely, they are simply grifters, thieves, slavers, or pimps.  In either case, it is still probably low level at this point, but I should tread carefully in town.  All right.  The child.  Unknown.  A halfling in disguise?  Exactly what she appears to be?  Something else?  An enigma, and therefore dangerous until solved, but if the barkeep did just pass me a signal, likely on our side ... for the moment.

So.  If I am right, my next step is to leave the bar and wait for contact.  And go nowhere near those gnomes.


Clara starts towards the door with the intent of making a rendezvous with Gardrun and Assad.
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2008, 07:40:44 AM »

Gardrun

What to do, what to do. I can't blend in with any of these people, this isn't going to work... we need to leave soon.  Clara always seems to know the best answer for situations like this, I hope she's come up with something.  Nothing for it but to wait for her then.  It's not as if I'll get anywhere trying to ask my way around the city.

Too many people around, someone's going to suspect me, start to asking questions. Then what? Lie, hah! Run? Fight? Draw enough attention to bring a thousand orcs down on my head? Would that I could spill their filthy blood, let them come, surely I can fight my way out!

But then what? Even if I escaped the city with my life, where would I go?  West?  Slip through an entire army undetected?  Come to think of it how are we to do such a thing even with help from the outside?

I'm getting ahead of myself, what to do right now is the important thing. This city is no place for me, even if I weren't a dwarf. I hope Clara has made contact with someone who can help... where is Clara?
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« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2008, 04:43:50 PM »

Jehna:

Flipping open the book, Jehna thumbs through a couple of pages before finding one that might be of interest:

Arc of Hisha, 24th day, Year 87 of the Last Age.  The clipper Ezekiel set upon by Norfalls off the Southern shore of the Pelluria, East of Erenhead.  Bad fire damage, began taking on water.  Scuttled in the shallows by the remaining crew to prevent theft of cargo by Norfalls.  Six men and two boys made it to shore unnoticed, rest of the crew lost to the water or the Pirates.

Jehna can find no other mention of the name Ezekiel in the Tome of Sorrows.  As she closes the book, she hears the faint scuffle of steps leaving the mouth of the alley, from where she came in.


Clara:

As she hands the mug back to the bartender, something probably meant to be a smile comes to the barkeep's face.  It looks forced and it looks pained, but what it reveals to Clara is the absence of a tongue in the woman's mouth.  The Shadow soldier who previously propositioned Clara, calls out:  [trader]"Leaving so soon, sweet thing?  My you're a pretty one...  Hope it wasn't my friend here's smell.  Puts me off from time to time too!"  A loud guffaw and an elbow thrown at his drunken companion and they again go back to their own business.  One of the remaining gnomes looks up before returning to his drink, but the others are impassive.

Clara again steps around the blood pool on the floor, and as she makes for the door, feels a tug on her sleeve.  Spinning, she sees the girl again, all smiles and innocence, holding a dingy hooded cloak Clara has never seen before.

"'Scuse me Miss, you forgot this.  Wouldn't want you to get cold...looks to be a gale kicking up."  She offers Clara the cloak.

Gardrun

As Assad continues to watch the doorway from around the corner, Gardrun's eye is caught by a third story window in a building across the street.  If not for his dwarven vision, he wouldn't be able to make out the figure standing at the window in the darkened room, watching him and his companion.  As Gardrun looks up at the person, the figure lingers a moment longer before ducking out of sight back into the room.

Assad:

In the doorway he's watching, Assad sees the outline of a gnome back-illuminated by the light from within.  The gnome turns back to look at something inside the room.  He then sees off in the distance further down the street three figures approaching.  Taller than a human, muscular, and armed with large bladed weapons, they walk the street heading in Assad's direction.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2008, 04:46:08 PM by Pheros » Logged
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« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2008, 05:16:27 PM »

Clara

"Thank you," says Clara quietly, shrugging herself into the cloak.  "Wouldn't want to forget this.  I'd heard that it's been a brutal year for Gales around these parts."

Blood on the floor.  Wheels within wheels.  What happened just before I got here?  How badly did I break cover with that eyeflick?  Curse me ... I more than anyone else should know better than to trust a gnome.

If the child says or does nothing else, Clara will exit the Inn and see if she can spot Assad ... and if she has time, check to see if perhaps the cloak has pockets.
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« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2008, 02:57:59 AM »

Clara:

The child nods somberly though her gaze, locked to Clara's eyes, pierces the gnome to the center of her being.  Then, in a moment, the cloud lifts and that sweet smile returns.  The girl turns, and goes back to scrubbing the blood off the floor, the position Clara found her in when she arrived.

As Clara leaves the Quayhouse, a quick glance around shows a group of three large humanoids, armed and on patrol, coming down the street toward her, and a shadow shifting around the corner from where she came.  Sasha hisses "Orcs!", decidedly displeased with this new occurrence.

Hands moving delicately and deceitfully, Clara scans the cloak by touch for pockets of any sort.  As she flips the hood up her fingers catch something through the fabric sown into the neckline between the hood and cloak, on the inside.  Another slight-of-hand feigned as adjustment and it seems to Clara to be a small bead or button.


Assad:

The gnome framed by the light exits the building onto the street, and pauses for a moment, adjusting their cloak and putting on their hood.
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« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2008, 04:54:24 AM »

Jehna

Dammit!, Jehna thinks as she turns toward the scurrying sound, seeing nothing but the empty, filthy street beyond. Rats in every hole around here.

After placing the book back in her pack, Jehna puts a hand inside her cloak, readying her knife. With the other hand, she feels the comforting metal of the band beneath the sleeve of her upper arm.

By the Blood ye shall know them, Jehna chants to herself, remembering the mantra. If Ezekiel was of the Blood, the White Mother would know where he was. Once again, Jehna feels the familiar longing to truly belong to the Order she served. It is an empty desire though... the White Mother does not adopt new children....

Jehna exits the alley cautiously, ready for an ambush.
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« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2008, 12:15:40 PM »

Jehna:

Exiting the alley, Jehna sees only the empty street and the lifeless eyes of windows and alleys looking upon it.

The fog has thickened, and a light breeze cuts through her soggy clothes, chilling her to the bone.

The road continues on, into the grey, hopefully toward the drydocks.
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