• Graded • To the Inn, and Beyond!

Alex in Etzos pt1

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Vluharqih
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Arc 716, 14th trial of Cylus
Alex closed the door behind her, happy that everything seemed to work out. She had been given the address of the 'Inn for Dinner', and it sounded perfect for a night. As she left the old building, the cold air bit at her cheeks, and ripped through her damp clothing. Enough of this, time to get inside and dry off she decided, before pulling the reins, and heading off.

The streets were completely dark by this point, lit only by the braziers on the top of the walls. The dark shadows cast on the streets danced and twisted as Alex walked, completely alone, down the street.

She soon found the Inn, a large sign in front betraying its presence. She tied up her horse to the post, and headed inside. Once inside, the heavy, smoky air in the room hung above her head like a cloud, as she searched for the owners. A large crowd filled the room, and on stage a woman dressed in only an apron and boots danced provocatively. The men sitting nearby added their coins to the bulging purse sitting by the edge, as if pulled in by her hypnotic swaying. Alex shook herself, and focused on looking for the owners. She was told they were Biqaji, and she noticed a man with brightly coloured eyes on the far side of the room.

She picked her way across the room, avoiding the small spills of drink and chunks of food left behind by the previous customers. Eventually, she reached him, and tapped him on the shoulder as she introduced herself, trying her best to hide her accent. "Good evening, my name is Alexandra. Do you have a room for the night?"

The man turned sharply towards her, and his eyes sized her up before he spoke. "Yes, we do. It'll cost you a gold nel per night. Do you have any experience cooking? We're a bit short staffed tonight. Oh, and if you've got a horse, you get two trials free, then you've gotta send it to the stables." As soon as he finished speaking, he returned to staring out at the room, his eyes sweeping the crowd.

Alex pulled out a single gold nel, and pressed it into his waiting hand. "I've got a horse- is the horse house around back?" She managed to get out. The man closed his fist around the coin, as if afraid it would spring away.

"Aye, it is. You're not used to speaking common, are you? I can hear the accent. Ah well, no matter. Food costs you extra. Come down to the kitchen and let me know if you are wanting some." He handed her a key back, emblazoned with the number 14. So Tagley managed to get me a meeting... the man really does have connections.

She headed back through the noisy crowd, and out the door. Her horse and wagon were untouched, and the horse raised its head to stare at her, before dropping it heavily. Huh, guess I'm not the only tired one. She led the horse around back, and gave it to the stable hand.

She left the empty wagon in the courtyard, and pulled the rest of her belongings inside. She tottered past the crowd, the massive pack unbalancing her, and up the worn stairs.

The small room was barren, only the minimum furnishings present. The table was slanted, and heavily scarred, obviously well used. The chairs surrounding it looked sturdy enough, but their utilitarian nature was evident on first glance.

Alex looked around at the rest of the room. It was spotless, and had obviously been meticulously cleaned recently. The fireplace was stained with soot, but there was no hint of ashes in the pit.

She shivered, still cold from the freezing temperatures outside. She pulled off her sodden boots, and set them by the door. Hopefully they’ll be dry by tomorrow. I need to make it out to get rid of that horse tomorrow, and then meet this 'Miss Givings'. She pulled off the remainder of her clothes, and draped them over the chairs. She walked over to the bed, and looked down at it. The mattress was plain, but clean and smelled fresh. She set her pack beside the bed, and pulled out her sleeping bag. I have no wood, so it’ll be a cold night.

She burrowed her way inside the sleeping bag, and curled up in the bed, slowly warming up as she drifted off.
Last edited by Vluharqih on Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:39 pm, edited 4 times in total. word count: 772
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Arc 716, 15th trial of Cylus
Alex slowly awakened to a knocking at her door. As she realized what it meant, she leapt out of bed, and threw on her clothes in a hurry. Time it meet Miss Givings she thought to herself as she stumbled towards the door. She paused, looking out the window, shocked at how late it was. I overslept! She yanked open the door, and came face to face with a small man. Or rather, chest to face. The man was the shortest man she had ever seen. He had a large, bushy moustache that reminded her of a fuzzy caterpillar. He mouth was completely hidden, and his vibrant blue eyes peered out from behind a small pair of lenses. He was dressed rather plainly in well-used worker's clothing. "Good Morning. I have been sent by Mr.Tagely. Do you care to follow me?" His voice was strong and posh, quite at odds with the rest of his body.

Alex looked around and grabbed her coin purse, as well as a thick cloak. "Yes, I will." She replied simply. He turned quickly on a heel, and disappeared down the stairs. Alex rushed to lock the door and follow him, perplexed at how fast he moved for such a little man.

He led her down street after street, twisting and turning until Alex was quite lost. She could tell they weren't just going in circles, but she had no idea where they were in the city. I've got a lot of learning to do here.

While they walked, Alex thought back to what Mr.Tagely had said. "I can probably get you 100 gold for your horse and wagon, by calling in a favor at the farm. But it means you will now owe me a favor instead." The possibility of doubling her cash was an attractive option. However, that would also put her in his debt, and that was a dangerous game.

Tagely reminded her of a spider. His web extended across the city, and he had connections everywhere. Yet despite the vast amount of information available, the smallest pluck at one of his strings would get his immediate attention. He didn't seem evil or mean to Alex, just powerful.

If I were to accept, I would have enough to rent a more permanent room, which will be much cheaper than the inn. If I don't take the offer, I will only have enough money for one month's worth of rent. Which puts that much more pressure on this job. But if I accept, it will show him that I'm willing to play the game, which could be very useful later on. Or if I decline, it could show him that I'm smart enough to avoid becoming indebted to anyone. Her mind raced around and around in circles, unable to make a decision.

She bumped into the man in front of her, almost sending him tumbling. He shot her a dirty look as he straightened, and gestured ahead. Alex realized that they were there, on the outskirts of the city. A hooded figure stood across the street, her bright red eyes the only thing visible through the midday dusk. The man turned to her, "Have you decided if you will take Mr. Tagely's offer?" His voice gave nothing away, and his face was far too covered to provide her with an idea of his opinion.
"Yes, I have. I will take his offer. Tell him the horse and cart are stabled at the 'Inn for Dinner', and to give the owner my money. I will be back tonight to collect it." Alex said, with an uneasy feeling in her gut. I'm still not sure about this, but I can handle one favour. As long as he is honourable, and doesn't try to blackmail me, I'll be fine.

She left the odd little man, and walked across the hard packed path towards Miss Givings. She didn't react as Alex drew near, so Alex cautiously introduced herself. "Good afternoon, my name is Alexandra. I was told that Tagley had set up this meeting so I could give you a hand with a task?"
Last edited by Vluharqih on Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:42 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 719
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To the Inn, and Beyond!

Tie'jia Galdanaje, more well known by the pseudonym "Miss Givings", turned away from the glass bowl, in which she'd been watching the young woman approach, and smiled with a shake of her head. "Issnot me child, s'wanting som'un f'doing job." she said with a thick Biqaji accent. The tendency of Rakahi to affect spoken common with words that slurred together, yet were evenly clipped was very much in evidence as she spoke. And her pronunciation of 'job' as "chobe" showed anyone familiar with the Biqaji tongue that she was not from Ne'haer. "Eesman I know has'pothecry shope is haftasks f'you....fu'low"

She turned and started to walk away, pausing briefly to listen for the sound of Alexandra's footsteps, and giving a clue that her last word and been an instruction to 'follow'. She did not hurry as she wound her way through the throngs of potential customers. And anyone charting her path would not guess that she had any clear destination. Any questions directed to her would be largely ignored unless they involved trades or purchases. She would only depart from this policy to give a single "Shhhhh. Sweet girl. Note t'speak of'til see Mr. Ga'dn'r." to someone not displaying the patience to simply follow silently.

By the time she left the crowded market area, anyone paying attention would have observed that she now had slightly more in material value, and considerably more nel, than when she entered. Eventually, she reached a chemist's shop with the name "Gardener" figuring in its title. Any interested party would probably guess that this was the 'Ga'dn'r' she'd mentioned previously. And this "Gardener" was surely the man stepping out of the shop, onto the landing, with a broad smile.

"My dear Miss Givings! What a timely surprise. Did you..." his pause was rather pointed, as a slightly disappointed look found Alexandra. "...find help for my little task?" Clearly he had been anticipating some seasoned man-at-arms. But he waited to hear what sort of credentials either woman might offer.

Miss Givings did not hide her obvious realization of the man's doubts about the person he was expected to hire, and she laughed outright. "Sweetm'n Ga'dn'r. Ize haffauth'rity from CeeCee 'tself'or bringing sweet girl'ere."

Mr. Gardener straightened noticeably and looked back and forth between his visitors, quietly confirming a single word, "Guidance?", to which the Biqaji responded with a subtle nod. His expression adjusted slightly to one of sympathetic concern as he now directed his comments to Alexandra, "I'm sorry if my hesitance has offended you miss..." he paused to allow the young lady to fill in her name. "But did anyone tell you exactly what it is I want done? I mean, you must really be needing money to take me up on this job. Do you know some soldiers, or mercenaries or something, that are offering to help you?"

Miss Givings interrupted the questions by placing a friendly hand on the girl's shoulder "I see..Issyou doing this chobe. Can doit...WILL doit...Doit." she nodded her head firmly both to Alexandra and Mr. Gardener as she said this. Then her look narrowed with an odd look of intrigue, "You hav'elp. Inside an'out. Find it, use't. Doit." Then she bowed once, and took her leave, leaving just a chuckle in the wake of Mr' Gardener's puzzled expression.

But ultimately, he only shrugged and called a friendly 'Goodbye' to her as she disappeared back into the masses. The he turned to his remaining company, "Well, I suspect you'd like to know more. Let's go inside. There are some very unsavory details involved in this undertaking."
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The thick accent gives Alex a pause, as she tried to decipher it. The woman turned suddenly and walked off, causing Alex to jog after her, only then realizing that she had been told to follow. As she got closer to the heart of the market, she could smell the musty sweat of hundreds of people, crammed in close quarters together. She rounded the last corner, and a wave of sound washed over her. Hundreds of people shouted and yelled, a jumble of languages crashing together to overwhelm her. She slowed, wincing at the cacophony, before pushing onwards. She followed in silence, weaving her way through the crowded market. Alex held a tight hand on her purse, hidden under her shirt. Though there wasn't much there, the few coins there were all she had left.

As she followed Miss Givings, she smiled. She had just noticed her swipe a few silver nel off the table to her left, and now that she was aware of it, she noticed the striking Biqaji's hands dipping into pockets, and slyly sliding the odd coin off a passing table.

After they exited the marketplace, Alex sighed, glad to be out of the throng of noise and sound. She turned back to look at Miss Givings, and nearly bumped into her. The woman had stopped in front of a shop- perhaps this was where the job would be? Alex's brain was furiously working, trying to figure out what this job could entail.

She brought her attention to the man leaving the doorway, whose broad smile slowly fell as he looked her over. Well, this should be interesting then. He was obviously expecting something else. He greeted Miss Givings, and Alex missed most of their conversation, but heard one word- 'Guidance'. The look of understanding, and perhaps empathy, that came across Mr.Gardener's face confirmed more of Alex's thoughts of the man. Should I have made that deal? Perhaps the man has more power than I thought?

She shrugged off the thought, and introduced herself. "Alexandra, and no, I don't know what exactly it entails, however I am sure I can find some one to assist me with it."

She nodded to him, and followed him inside the shop.
Last edited by Vluharqih on Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 389
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To the Inn, and Beyond!

Mr. Gardener led Alexandra inside his shop, "The Gardener's Grace". There were shelves crowded with bottles of many different sizes, containing a wide variety of raw, finished and partial products. Each shelf was easily identifiable as to whether its stock was for sale, for using in some upcoming process, or was currently fermenting, pickling or some other transformation of basic conditioning.

There were both identifiable and unidentifiable body parts, as well as whole fetuses of several types of creatures. There were reptiles, insects, birds, vermin, and what looked like semi-gestated eggs. There was something that looked like a very hairy human arm, except that the folds of its length, allowing it to fit in the jar, did not correspond to the locations of wrist or elbow; nor was there more than an odd spiked flange at its tip.

These exotic items were in addition to the more mundane collections of herbs and minerals, whole and powdered, and ground bone. Numerous bags of grains and dried leaves occupied the corners, sitting atop compartmented crates with all kinds of processed materials. One jar appeared to contain multiple variations on the theme of eyeballs; another seeming to be filled with snot, or blood, or Imps-knew-what else.

And all these were the items not being rendered into multi-colored sludge, bubbling over flames contained by small cans of an oily looking wax-like substance. In some cases, it looked like the layer of scum was the target result; in others, the steam was clearly leaving a residue that was being collected. More than one centrifuge's motion was being maintained in perpetuity by a sophisticated counter weight apparatus.

A small terrarium was so obscured by condensation that it could not be established by a casual observer whether or not there was anything within it besides the thick layer of algae coating most of the inner surface. But where it was obviously vegetation that showed through the glass, it was a slowly bubbling green ooze that crested the glass wall of the little enclosure.

Mr. Gardener passed all these things without a second glance, as though they were the most common bits of lab work one could expect. He went to a door in the back, which led to a standard-looking office featuring a desk, chart rack, waste basket and a pair of book-heavy shelves. The walls had several heavily notated calendars and astrological charts, as well as a few small illustrations of mammalian anatomy. Nothing salacious, just frank, scientific display of body parts and their commonly accepted functions. Scrawled handwriting indicated the alchemist's own observations about less-accepted functions to which these parts could be put.

There was an imperfect junction between one of the shelves in the cabinet and the backing behind it. When Mr' Gardener slipped his metal ruler into it, there was a soft 'click'. He pulled the entire unit just a few inches with surprisingly little effort, and then removed the ruler to replace it with a putty knife. there was a second 'click' and the door opened further to reveal a curving stairway down to an orderly herbal workshop and "garden". The plants there were more of a fungal kind that needed no sunlight to grow.

What there was that had a remotely vegetable look to it got its light from an odd compost of materials that gave off a phosphorescent glow. Some of these vines and stringy mosses were uprooted and hanging upside down over vats that collected whatever it was that was dripping from them. Several tables had experiments being conducted with these materials.

The smell was rich and earthy, fairly pungent, but not truly unpleasant. But it did not take long before an unaccustomed visitor would begin to feel as if the insides of their nostrils were being coated with pollen or spores. Mr. Gardener was long past noticing these things as he led his companion to a recessed bookshelf with a selection of jars that were clearly not among those things he wished to be advertised upstairs.

He stopped and looked at some of them with a snort and a shake of the head, and others with a sad sigh. One of the second bunch he took down and brought to the table in the center of the main room. It looked for all the world as if it contained a desiccated stool sample, somehow dry despite floating in a yellowing fluid. He set it down and made ready to twist open the lid. He stopped and looked intently at the young woman before him."Do you know what this is?" he asked, his voice implying uncertainty as to whether he hoped she did or not.
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Alex followed the man inside, and gazed around. She could recognize some of these bottles, but most of them remained a mystery to her. When she saw the more mundane herbs and bones she sighed, glad that there was some things she could remember from her years working alongside her mother.

No, stop that. She shut that line of thinking down, and retreated deep inside herself, letting her body remain on auto pilot as she followed Mr. Gardener. In…..Out….In…..Out Her heart rate slowed down, and her mind went blessedly blank as the world faded to the trills between breaths. She brought herself back to the present, to notice them descending a stone staircase.

At the bottom was an uncluttered workshop, a bench and various apothecary equipment sitting neatly on a bench. Across the room was a ‘garden’, filled with various fungi and cave dwelling plants. An odd mixture that gave off a slightly eerie glow lit the room, and a strong, earthy smell enveloped her. The smell reminded her of her mother’s dress, and she had to retreat inside of herself again. It took only a moment for her to regain her self-control.

She missed what he had said, but looking at the odd, floating shape she remembered her mother clearly, and without realizing had begun to describe the drug inside.

“That’s Mind’s Eye, isn’t it? I remember this drug clearly- my mother used to use it. She swore up and down that it was a miracle worker.” Alex clearly remembered formal looking men duck into their shop, as she was sweeping the dusty floors clear. They paid her no mind, heading straight for the back. Her mother met them, and handed over their powder in a small bag. She remembered their furtive, anxious looks as they peered around the shop, ensuring they were not seen.

After she had asked her mother about it, she had been introduced to the substance. Yet despite being told, she didn’t fully understand or appreciate the implications of harvesting and preparing this drug. Her mother explained that the process was what funded the rest of their shop, as the main business didn't bring in enough money to keep them afloat.

“Yes, that’s it. Diplomats or high-ranking businessmen use it to help in negotiations. They’re more or less the only ones who can afford it. The prices back in Ne’haer were about 95gn per dose. The severe withdrawal symptoms, in addition to the sky-high price mean its rarely used.” She paused, and looked down at the yellowing jar. “It involves cutting out the ‘eye’ of the Idolasian Death Worm, and soaking it in baby fluid.”

She showed no signs of revulsion as she described the process clinically. Peering down at the jar, she continued, “I know you can harvest one eye for a long time, as long as the amniotic fluid is maintained. So what does this have to do with the task?”

She tried to meet his eye, and made a guess based off his reaction. “You need a new eye, don’t you? And you want me to go get it? Do you also need amniotic fluid? What’s the pay?” Her words were straight forward, and professional as she waited for his response.
Last edited by Vluharqih on Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 566
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As Alexandra went on, the alchemist stood in various stages of surprise and appreciation. He clearly had not expected her to know more than possibly the barest tidbit of information on such a globally stigmatized compound as "Mind's Eye". In addition, she showed no revulsion toward the aspect of retrieving the materials. Perhaps she was exactly the person he needed to acquire it. Perhaps she could be an apprentice? He had been recognizing a need for one lately.

Even right now; he himself could not take the time to venture in the Fields of Gauthrel, with or without a host of personal guardians. Who would watch the shop? He had been without a viable 'worm eye' for over a season now. This was clearly his chance to obtain one. He needed to be sure to secure her help. He knew from past experiences that willingness to embark on an unsavory mission was as important as the actual skills to see it through. He would need to be sure he gave her enough to hire someone competent.

He stammered briefly as he flashed through her comments, trying to get a grip on what aspect of the mission she did NOT already show an understanding of. There was really only one. "Uhhh. I will not be needing you to provide the amniotic fluid. Not unless you are planning an unwanted pregnancy. There are ample prostitutes in town for that. Which is to say that, yes, I do perform discrete...uh...terminations of...'natal inconveniences'. Obtaining the eye for me will be more than sufficient service for me."

He walked to a different cabinet and unlocked one of the more reinforced compartments, drawing out a metal box. He opened it and removed a small, but obviously heavy bag. "Obviously, we BOTH know this is a perilous venture; and that you would be wise to hire at least one assistant. I would advise two or three. You get less apiece, but you'd each have less risk and work. but it's up to you. I have two hundred nel here for preparation costs, and will provide a further three hundred, and possibly a job, when a fresh new Death Worm Eye is in my hand." He patted the bag on the palm of his other hand, and the sound of clinking nel was plain.

He extended the bag toward Alexandra with a final comment, "Let either myself or Miss Givings know when you have made preparations and are ready to leave, so I can estimate how soon I will need to gather more fluid. I have no doubt one of our professional ladies will find herself...afflicted by then, and need my services. The military arm currently stationed in the Farmlands and Westride should provide you some degree of escort to the border of Gauthrel. Then you'll be on your own. So, do we have a deal?"
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Alex listened as Mr. Gardener explained the job more thoroughly. He had seemed slightly surprised as she explained the use of Mind's Eye, but he recovered quickly, and perhaps she saw a bit more respect in his eyes as he continued.

He obviously had some reason he couldn't make it out to the Fields of Gauthrel himself, as the amount of gold he was offering was more than enough to get him there and back with a decently sized entourage. Of course, his shop. He can't just up and leave.

She eyed the worm's eye, which obviously had been used well beyond it's normal life cycle, and little of it remained.

When he revealed that he had a supply of amniotic fluid, she was forced to re-evaluate the man. He had seemed, on first glance, to be very straightedge. His shop appeared above board, and looked reputable. However the more she found out about him, the greater respect she had for him. Here was a man with a set of morals she could work with. And by that I mean minimal morals. She thought, and nodded when he explained she simply needed to get the eye.

When he held out the bag of coins, Alex knew her decision already. She could find someone to travel with her easily, and she'd simply not tell him how much she was getting paid. Maybe she'd be able to convince him to work for cheap.

The potential to have a job when she returned gave her hope. This job could be everything she needed. But that meant there was so much more pressure on this, and she needed to pick the right assistant. Maybe two, but that would depend. If I am given 200 nel, I'll need around 150 for supplies, so I could offer him 50 off the bat and 150 upon successful completion of the mission?....Hmm, we'll have to see. She realized suddenly that she hadn't responded to Mr.Gardener's offer.

"Yes, we do. I'll make the necessary preparations, and head out within the week." She took the bag from him, and its weight gave her confidence in this plan. That, plus the 100 I should have at the Inn tonight...I'm becoming well set up. She nodded to him, and left his shop, hurrying towards the Job Board. I should start by finding a helper who's halfway decent. Then again...if he's more trouble than he's worth I can always poison his food. She thought, as she rushed down the street. She suddenly stopped, and realized that she was going to be paying for a room again tonight unless she sorted out that. She changed direction, and ran off down a small alleyway towards 'Inn for Dinner'.
Last edited by Vluharqih on Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 484
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Come and get your Loot!

(There's plenty more where that came from)


VLUHARQIH:
Skills:

  • Alchemy +1
  • Navigation +1
  • Persuasion +1
  • Pick Pocketing +1
  • Socialization +1

Knowledges:

  • Basic
    • Confirmation of Etzos Stabling Rules
    • Etzos Location: Inn for Dinner
    • Etzos Location: The Gardener's Grace
    • Frederick Gardener: Apothecary
    • Inn Owners: Mah'ludre and Velvessa Sej'lehna
    • Mr. Tagley's Messenger: Didn't Give a Name, But Knows the Streets
    • Navigating Etzos in Cylus
    • Sharing Secrets Opens Doors
  • Specific
    • Frederick Gardener: Not so Proper After All
    • Inn for Dinner: Nothing Fancy, But Kept Clean
    • Mind's Eye: Lucrative Family Drug Recipe
    • Miss Givings: More than Just a Potion Vendor
    • Mr. Tagley: He Gets Surprising Things Done

Loot:

300gn (200 from Gardener, 100 for sale of horse and wagon)


Injuries:

Nothing but sore feet


Comments:

I gave you 'Alchemy' just for going through Gardener's shop. You would see how many different things he works with, and it would give you that basic alchemical understanding that many schools of chemistry can be combined.
'Persuasion' for opening up about your knowledge of Mind's Eye, the primary reason he's considering hiring you. And 'Pick Pocketing' for the opportunity to watch Miss Givings at work...lol
PM me with any comments or concerns :)
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