• Graded • Ascension

Atop a stony plateau overlooking the lands of central Idalos, and growing wealthy from the gem stones pulled from the rocky soil, Etzos is a bastion of independence; firm in its belief that man should rule Idalos, not be servants of the vain Immortals who nearly destroyed it. But can the many factions set aside their conflicting agendas and see this through?

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Doran
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Sun May 28, 2017 7:17 am

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Continued from here.

Ashan 40, Arc 717

The Mortalborn had chosen to travel to Etzos after the events in Oscillus because it was the city that was most likely to offer him shelter and the only one that, to his knowledge, openly opposed the Immortals. The welcome that he had received had still exceeded his expectations though. Not only had the Etzori given him permission to enter their city, there had also been a banquet in his honor that all of the members of their government had attended.

They truly considered him to be a hero and, perhaps, even a role model, somebody to be respected and admired. He didn’t see himself as such. He didn’t consider himself to be some sort of good and noble protector of mortalkind and the Immortals an evil that needed to be vanquished – but being treated that way was far preferrable to the alternative – to be locked up in some sort of dark dungeon where he would await his execution.

During the banquet he had told the story of how he had attacked the Immortal of Hope, of how he had done something that, to his knowledge, nobody had ever dared to do, a couple of times – and always left one crucial detail out, his connection to Syroa and Ziell. He was under no illusion as to what they would do if they found out that he too was of Immortal blood and that he had been marked by what was likely one of their worst enemies.

By the time that the festivities were finally about to end, he was tired, and his body had begun to ache slightly – he had been travelling for more than thirty trials at that point and rarely stopped to rest due to the possibility of some of Xiur’s allies following him – but as Vuda informed him that he would like to talk to him, he inclined his head and spoke, “I would not be averse to discussing things here, after the guests have left. I have to admit, I’m somewhat curious as to what kind of proposition you have for me.”

He didn’t know what to think of the so called Chief Advisor yet. He disapproved of the way he dressed and acted, but from what he had seen so far he was the second most powerful man in Etzos, if not the most powerful one. Besides, Etzos and Vuda would finally enable him to become more than just another one of Ziell’s countless bastards, born only to be used and eventually discarded. His ascension would begin here, in the City of Stones, he was sure of it.
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Tue May 30, 2017 5:20 am

Courteous farewells were given by those not remaining after the welcoming party to discuss one or more pressing matters. Vuda was one that did excuse himself however. He had to suppress a bit of a grin at the difficulty Sir Doran had with extricating himself from all the favor-seekers. The hero looked rather stricken by the tedium of the near endless handshakes and invitations to join them individually for private celebrations with others of their cliques.

The adviser had to hand it to the man for his maintenance of an agreeable facade. There was just the slightest subconscious sting to his own self-esteem that none of the members of the council had ever extended such welcome to him, but he shook that off without truly acknowledging it. He was just glad to see things winding down.

There was no one delaying him as he made his way to the main door and waited as Sir Doran trudged his way through the many laudatory delays. It had not actually been appointed to Vuda to play the part of escort, but none stepped up to relieve him of the duty.

Technically, all the ministers in the room outranked him. So it may have been their own self-importance preventing them from "lowering" themselves to see to this servile duty. Vuda would have it no other way. He would have had to come up with some excuse or delay to otherwise prevent one of the ministers from learning his shortcuts through the towers.

"The Towers of Ministers, Society and Academy form an inner concave-sided triangle where they come together. There are a number of hidden doors, compartments and stairs within this space. They offer a number of shortcuts to spaces reached by more conventional means, as well as access to additional places not reached by any other means at all, besides magic."

He gave a sidelong glance to his guest to gauge any reaction to the mention of magic. There were a number of cities where the arcane was outlawed and he wanted to see of perhaps Sir Doran had been raised in one where such casual mention of it would cause a tic.

Seeing no such reaction, he continued, "I've been authorized to temporarily put you up in one of our dignitary suites in the Tower itself. Of course, we'll wish to know if you are planning to stay permanently in our fine city. There's no real hurry to decide...but I..." he gave a subtle look around, lowering his voice. "...but if you do, I will show you our network of back passages so you can be assured of knowing where any secret doors will be located in whatever room in which you take up residence."

His expression did not indicate any sense that this should revelation should make anyone uncomfortable. "However, if you prefer, I can see to it that you have a unit with no such access. Some prefer to have none of this, so they feel more secure against intruders. Yet others like having means of getting in and out unseen. Give this some thought if you like. But I am actually more interested in learning what sort of interests and training you have, that we may be able to build upon."

They discussed these things as they walked through the Tower; finally reaching a room with a plaque designating it as "Ambassador Suite #3". "After you." Vuda crooned smoothly, waving Doran in with a bow.
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Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:00 pm

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Leaving the party was a lot harder than the Mortalborn had thought at first. Everywhere he went there seemed to be an Etzori that wanted to congratulate him and even invite him to a private celebration. He politely thanked them for the former and promised that he would consider the latter. In truth he didn’t have any interest in more parties or being gawked at like some sort of curiosity – he was so much more than that - but he needed those people to be on his side if he wanted to have any hope of succeeding and not just become a side note in the annals of history.

The mention of hidden doors caught his interest – as did the mention of magic. Doran briefly looked at Vuda as he mentioned that and raised an eyebrow, but he neither reacted with shock nor with fear. He only inclined his head. He was aware of the danger that mages posed to him – especially those that were skilled in Aberration, Empathy or Attunement – but some mages, like the Rupturer Alistair Venora, had been allies, at least for a while, and he had also loved a mage once, Beira, a colleague of his at Rynmere University.

“I’ve already made my decision”, he informed Vuda. “I plan on staying here.” Residing in the Tower, so close to those that mattered in Etzos definitely had potential, he decided. “I would very much like to have access to those back passages”, he continued. They would come in handy if he ever had to leave his home quickly and without anybody noticing, be it because some of his enemies had arrived in the city or some of the Etzori had decided that sheltering him had finally become too much of a risk. Of course the very same passages would also potentially offer an intruder a way to enter his home unseen, but as far as he was concerned the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.

Build upon? For a moment the hint of a smile was visible on the Mortalborn’s otherwise serious face as Vuda asked about his training, but it disappeared as quickly as it had come. There was nothing to build upon. “I’m a chemist, likely one of the most skilled ones, if not the most skilled one you can find in this part of the world”, he spoke as he entered the suite, looking around with interest as he did so and trying to take in every detail. There was not a hint of arrogance in his voice. He was not exaggerating, he was not bragging, he was merely stating a fact. There were few in Idalos that could match his skill.

“I also have considerable training in alchemy and some in medicine”, he continued. “and I’m, as you can probably guess from the story I told you back at the banquet, an accomplished swordsman.”

The latter was a bit of an understatement. His skill with the blade almost equaled his skill as a scientist, and he had a few other abilities apart from that, but considering Etzos’ attitude towards the Immortals, he thought it better not to tell them what else he could do. Besides, he decided, sometimes it was better to keep a few things to yourself, just in case.

“As for my interests, besides doing something about certain things that are happening in this world I’m most interested in continuing my research. I assume you are aware of the potential of alchemy, Chief Advisor?” he asked. Surely the man would realize that this could be the beginning of a fruitful collaboration – for both of them.
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Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:05 am

The gleam in the Chief Adviser's eye attained ever greater sparkle as the visitor elaborated on his goals. Vuda held his arm across the opening into the grand suite, preventing Doran from entering, "No, no, forgive my self-indulgence, you can see the room later. I meant something else entirely."

He opened the door a bit wider, until there was wide, easy access to the hinges upon which they noiselessly swung. He gave just a momentary grin to his guest before turning to the middle of the three sets of hinges. He gripped the entire unit and gave it a quarter turn clockwise. There was a click, and the sound of some weight sliding inside the wall. They was a soft hiss and a panel loosened along lines hidden within the sculpted etchings of the wide decorative inset housing the doorjamb for the fine, Cambria wood doors.

The opening itself was narrow, but opened quickly upon entering the secret hallway beyond. "After you." Vuda repeated, with an even grater flourish than before. He led his guest down and around inside the walls of the Tower, as well as the towers abutting this one. He stopped at various intervals, showing spy-holes into the rooms of visiting dignitaries.

"Oh look" he sneered, "Lord Trask has hired one of 'The Curly Hare's girls to "entertain" one of our visiting diplomats from Viden. I wonder if either of them know that the young lady actually works for 'The Fence', or that we already know he's only here to pick up some redundant, outdated, pre-revision land charts for our outlying townships? Well, I'm sure I don't need to explain the workings of misinformation; nor, I'm afraid, am I really free to."

He pointed out a few actual mirror-tubed spy gadgets that allowed peepholes to be placed inside actual statuary or planter posts within the rooms, instead of in the walls, where the wary visitor would expect them. Ultimately, he sighed though, "All of us who have access to these passageways make use of these spy-holes. The only real protection against them is knowing where they are, how they work, and coding any messages you must do in your suite. Unless you are able to afford magic wards against such things."

He went on, "It can be tricky. If you chase someone you find spying away from a particular room. You've pretty much acknowledged you have an interest in them. Of course, there is always that misinformation angle again. There are only two rooms with no spy access, and three others with visual only. But even all the spying in the world comes to nothing legally if you can not corroborate any of it with evidence. it simply gives you a lead on what sort of evidence you are looking for."
They continued down and down, until Doran must have figured, by the change in temperature alone if nothing else, that they'd descended well below street level. Vuda explained how his previous lab was largely destroyed during the shadow beast rampages, when a trio of guardsmen accidentally ignited three barrels of alchemical fuel stored for the Cylus brazier-lighting ceremony.

He shrugged it off though, "It was pretty old stuff. My old alchemist told me that much of it could only be used for certain things because of lingering residue that could not be fully expunged anymore. He died in the explosion, and a good deal of my material was lost or looted in the confusion that followed. Thieving pigs!" he spat.

"But fate works in mysterious ways." he said as they reached a heavy, metal-banded door. Vuda unlocked it and one could look kitty-corner to the right into a well-stocked library. "I was fortunate to have just been relocating all my books and scrolls against the dampness in the old lab, or they'd have all surely burned...such an irreplaceable loss that would have been!"
They stepped to the left now, and a door opened to the right revealing what was obviously the actual lab room. There was the gamut of alchemical glass and pipe ware, some of it set up, but plenty still left in crates. And two large vats in specially reinforced circular stone niches.

"Some have told me to get a master to replace the old one. I can see the sense in that, but I can also see the sense in getting someone who can come in on the ground floor of set-up and do things in the way in which they are comfortable, so that gear and master grow together."

They stepped inside to let Doran see the extent of what would be available to work with. Vuda pointed in the direction of the room they had not yet seen. "That is where materials are stored, both mundane and extraordinary, pre-and-post process items, as well as finished products that you may use for reverse experimenting. If there are other units you find yourself short of, by all means let me know. Any questions?"
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Sun Jun 11, 2017 2:23 pm

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As Vuda prevented him from entering the suite, the Mortalborn abruptly looked at him. Why was he not allowed to enter? Was the so called Chief Advisor hiding something from him? For a moment, for just the fraction of a second he was tempted to do something, but in the end he simply inclined his head and decided to accept the other man’s decision. Perhaps, he considered, he had grown paranoid in the seasons after his flight from Oscillus. He would not let his guard down completely due to that realization though.

He didn’t return Vuda’s grin, but waited for him to manipulate the door. It was interesting, he thought, how the Tower seemed to be full of secret hallways and doors. He wondered who had installed them and if there was a map of them somewhere. Vuda had said that he would show him their network of back passages. The man seemed oddly welcoming at the moment, but it was highly unlikely that he would reveal all of this building’s secrets to a relative stranger, even if said stranger had done something great in the eyes of the Etzori.

Perhaps, he thought, he would eventually explore the secret hallways on his own, if he could. He needed to know exactly what he was dealing with. For now though he stepped through the opening that Vuda had indicated though although he didn’t like the thought of anybody walking behind him where he couldn’t see them. He didn’t look through the spy-holes behind which a certain Lord Trask was supposedly enjoying a bit of female company. In spite of being a Blessed of Syroa, the Immortal of Lust, he was not some sort of perverted peeping tom.

He was impressed with how much Vuda knew about what was going on in Etzos though. Allying himself with the man had even more potential than he had thought at first, in spite of his character flaws. Together they would be able to accomplish a lot and perhaps even be able to successfully take on the Immortals one trial.

“I have to admit, I find the system you have implemented here rather fascinating. I wonder why you told me though when these spy-holes are such a useful tool. Would it not have made more sense to keep me in the dark?” he asked in a calm tone, purely out of curiosity, before he walked further down. He noticed the change in temperature instantly. It was a clear sign that they were underground now. He couldn’t help but wonder how vast this network of secret hallways really was.

“That”, he spoke in a somewhat harsher tone as Vuda informed him how the previous lab had largely been destroyed. “Is why I always kept the fuel and the explosives locked away. People can be clumsy. They can be careless and stupid. Some are downright imbecile. If you don’t want an accident to happen and clean up the mess afterwards, you should limit the number of people that have access to such substances.”

He stopped speaking as Vuda opened another door and took a look around the corner, raising an eyebrow as he did so. “Impressive”, he remarked before he stepped back and followed Vuda into the lab.

It was comparatively well-equipped, especially considering the fact that the old lab had only been destroyed a short time before. He didn’t react to Vuda’s comment about a master, although he considered himself to be more than competent and up for the task – for it was quite obvious to him what Vuda wanted from him in exchange for letting him stay in Etzos and protecting him from Xiur’s fury now.

“If I am to manage your new laboratory, Chief Advisor”, he spoke. “I will not only need the proper equipment, but also reagents. How will I go about acquiring those? And is there anything that you are especially interested in? I’m more than willing to take my research into a particular direction and create certain items or potions for you in exchange for what you have done for me.”
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Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:29 pm

Vuda broke not one stride at his guest's question, "So, it is to be frank speech then; all the better. I will be showing you only enough of the network to allow you to detect surveillance in whichever suite you may find yourself. This is by no means all there is to see of it. But it should provide you means of...covert mobility."

He chuckled grimly at Doran's Comment about fuel storage, "You may rest assured, those three soldiers who were vaporized were luckier then the fools I discovered to be responsible for storing those barrels so close to my lab. It was Black Guard jurisdiction and I honestly did not know that was what it was. My lab was not destroyed directly by the blast, but rather by the cloud of gravel-sized pellets of stone and steel pulverizing everything within 100 feet, including my old master.

"The walls were breached in numerous locations and a full half of the stored artifacts and talismans I had were lost to me. I recovered a fair number of them, but I have no doubt many were sold in foreign markets. We have a smuggling ring here, The Fence, that is perfectly suited to exploit such an event. I'm on good enough terms with them that I find it slightly easier to bear the loss of these goods graciously than to confront them and lose their talents."
He made a dismissive wave, "Ah well, live and learn. They got the better of me that day."

He did his first double-take of the day at Doran referring to him as 'Chief Adviser', then shrugged, "I'm sorry, no one ever calls me that outside of council. I suppose there's no harm. Though 'Lord Vuda' sounds somewhat self-aggrandizing, it is what I am used to on my free time, such as it is. Anyway, like the gear, many reagents are still in crates. They should all be labeled with description, source, age, and last-seal date. As far as getting new ones of which you may find yourself in need, I am willing to underwrite expenses to procure them, as long as they are not for your private endeavors.

"There are several places in town that sell reagents, though they are not often made with an intent for alchemical use. But my old master said that many were multi-use compounds and were perfectly applicable. You are already in The Underground, and The Fence is certainly capable of acquiring exotic goods, though I can not attest for how long it may take. There are few that dabble in poisons down here, and they have many that serve alchemical purposes as well. Then, up on the street, there is a vendor, 'Miss Givings', that wanders the outer perimeter, with hard-to-find goods. And you can always resort to putting up an add on our Bounty Board for skilled gatherers and adventurers to find you what you need in the wild."


Vuda deliberately omitted mention of the Shrine of Lisirra. He had no doubt Doran would stumble upon it soon enough, but he already had his doubts that it was all it seemed, and didn't want anything his new alchemist might say to reveal his suspicions. He went on from where he'd paused, "Again, if this is for general lab use, I will cover the cost, given that you let me know in advance. If it's for your private use, you'll need to pay out of your own pocket. Oh also, I would advise you to keep separate notes and ledgers. And I will say now, that I will expect to have your permission to peruse them, should I feel compelled."

Normally he'd have told his new lab master to do his research in whatever direction would settle him in the most quickly and thoroughly. But just a twinge of pride held him back. His encounter with that mage, Alistair, had caught him up short. Had he not been outfitted with all his wells, he could not have achieved even the rather unsatisfying 'draw' he'd had to settle for. If there was a way to disrupt the empathy rings he'd given to him and his brute, Fridgar, he may yet knuckle them under.

He turned a cold smile to the alchemist, "Actually, yes, Sir Doran, there is. I'd like you to focus on Empathy whenever the opportunity presents itself. I realize this a domain power and will require the blood of such a mage, but I happened to have a rather bloody run-in with just such a mage not too long ago, and I can provide you a good deal of it."

The smile turned colder as his imagination entertained a scene of Fridgar turning that feral brutality against his lover. He turned the smile back toward Doran with a raised finger, "Make no mention of this to anyone."
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Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:08 am

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Come and get your Loot!

(There's plenty more where that came from)


DORAN:
Rewards:

  • Story: +5
  • Collaboration: +5
  • Structure: +5

These points can NOT be used for magic.

Knowledges:

  • Alchemy: Better to "Grow" with the Lab
  • Alchemy: Reverse Processing on Finished Items
  • The Citadel: Most Rooms Have Spy Holes
  • The Citadel: Secret Passageways Fill the Gaps Between Towers
  • Deception: Hide Your Mortalborn Blood While in Etzos
  • Endurance: Non-stop Travel for 30+ Trials
  • Etiquette: Misguided Modesty Serves No Purpose
  • Etzos: Gives You a Hero's Welcome
  • Etzos: A Place to Ascend
  • The Fence: A Smuggling Ring and Mercenary Ally
  • The Lab: Library: All of Vuda's Books
  • The Lab: Storage: Reagents, Materials and Finished Items
  • The Lab: Three Rooms: Library, Storage and Workroom
  • The Lab: Workroom: All The Lab Gear and Two Large Protected Vats
  • Old Lab Master: Killed by Shrapnel from Exploding Naphtha Fuel
  • Persuasion: Sometimes You Have to Sell Yourself
  • Politics: Better the Exaggerated "Hero" than Villain
  • Politics: Spying on Rival Ministers
  • Politics: Stay on the Good Side of Those You May Need Later
  • Vuda: Loves His Deceptive Rank
  • Vuda: More Powerful Than He Looks
  • Vuda: Wants You to Take over His Alchemy Lab

Loot, Loss, Injuries and Devotion:

Nothing to speak of


Fame: +10

Guest of Honor


Comments:

More non-skill knowledge for this, but hey you got a Job!!
PM me with any comments or concerns :)
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