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Dmitri applies for employment at Imp Pressions

4th of Ymiden 716

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Dmitri
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Timestamp: 4th of Ymiden, Hot Cycle, 716th Arc

Yesterday, the day Dmitri had visited the Office of Citizen's Committee, had passed in preparing for today, the day Dmitri was to visit Imp Pressions, to apply for employment. Thankfully Vasily had accepted, and approved of, Dmitri's version of how the conversation went down with Peter Mead, a defining factor in how their plan would evolve from here on out, if Dmitri had somehow messed up and gotten advice to apply for pretty much any job that wouldn't be beneficial to their endeavors, master Vasily would have been less than pleased, something Dmitri had learned to avoid at all costs, even lying. Which is why Dmitri had modified his version slightly, leaving out the part where Peter spoke of the disappearance of a certain someone before him. Someone who had applied for a similar function that Dmitri had so carelessly spoken of, governmental assistant or whatever the exact words he had chosen, it was completely absurd and out of the blue, for someone who had barely been in Etzos long enough to know his way around the city...

Dmitri could only hope that he had successfully defused the situation when Peter tried to poke and wake the bear by mentioning that person had been a sorcerer of sorts. Hoping for the best, without taking action, was nowhere near his style, but he was unable to come up with a solution to make sure Peter Mead wouldn't go ahead and alert someone. Worst-case scenario would be if he already done so, a scenario Dmitri didn't have the courage to think about for too long. Shedding his doom-thinking, he brushed imaginary dust-bunnies from his clothes and stroked his trimmed beard one last time before checking his pockets if he had the Interview Permit, as well as the map he had recently purchased, with him before setting out towards Imp Pressions.

As he crossed bending streets, turning left and right wherever he was supposed to, he nearly bumped into someone on more than one occasion; Unsurprising considering he was still learning the ropes of quickly and proficiently reading charted maps, Dmitri walked around with his nose close to the parchment, and a finger tracing the route he was taken at any given time. Fortunately none of the people he barely managed to avoid headbutting, were agressive, so with a quick apology before turning back to the map and tracing the shortest route to Imp Pressions, until he finally saw a fancy metallic board, placed above Imp Pression's entry, fittingly styled as the was printed or engraved into the metal, Dmitri was lacking knowledge in what the difference is between the two styles, which might not be appropriate considering the business he wants to get employed by...Granted, Peter Mead did assure him that he wasn't expected to assist in that sense, the owner of Imp Pressions was looking for another type of assistance, thankfully!

As he entered Imp Pressions, map stashed away within his vest and replaced with the Interview Permit that was given yesterday, he glanced around but couldn't spot anyone at first sight. Frowning lightly, he wondered what to do in this situation, he couldn't spot any bell on the counter, so he just asked out loud, to nobody and everybody: "Hello? Anyone around?!"
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There was a curious silence, punctuated only by sounds coming from the street through the door behind Dmitri. Nor was there any sound from coming the door leading to the back rooms. Dmitri may have recalled that Mr. Mead said both that there was no "actual contract for employment service from him" and that the interview permit had "no particular time slot".

But this train of thought might have been derailed if he took much notice of the state of the room. While not in actual "shambles", one table was on its side, the stacks of parchment and vellum cluttered into the corner. One of the window shades was hanging precariously from only one side, looking like only a nudge would complete their transition into a heap on the floor. What looked at first to be artwork on the far side of one of the two counters which met in the middle of the room, turned out to be a dramatic splatter of still-wet ink, the glass shards of the vial still in evidence.

On closer examination, there was an indentation in the wall, right in the middle of the splatter, suggesting some force to have impacted there. The counters did not actually quite meet. There was a one-yard gap, closed by a flip-up top, allowing blocked closure, or passage through. At present though, only the bent hinges remained of this top. Were someone to pass through the doors in to the back room, they would find this counter top piece embedded in the back wall.

It did not take more than these few moments for someone with a modicum of awareness to realize that Mr. Garrett Langley was not messy - he'd just been attacked!

Just then, there was a barely perceivable scraping sound as a small panel in the front facing of the counter slid closed. Sounds from both sides of the room, one a similar scrape, the other a metallic clunk, sounded from opposite sides of the room. Whichever sound Dmitri turned towards served as a distraction as an angry shriek sounded from about gut level, as an extremely short-statured figure burst through the gap in the counters.

"COME TO FINISH ME OFF, DID Yooo..." the figure slid to a wide-eyed stop, a mace sagging forgotten in his raised grip as he stared at Dmitri, "Who in the shattered bowels of Brelt'ek are you?"
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Dmitri's question was answered by deafening silence, the question even multiplied exponentially into a myriad of mysteries to be pieced together, as he was able to shift his tunnel-view into a panoramic view of what seemed to be the aftermath of quite the battle. Eyes scanning the room as he carefully and slowly dove deeper down the rabbit hole, making sure not to step on anything laying around the tiled floor, be it material or organic. The room was almost a very chaotic yet artistic form of 'still life' - painting that he managed to somehow set foot in. No sounds, no movements, no signs of life anywhere. There were a few clues scattered here and there, quite literally even, that helped him deduct some minor aspects of what exactly just happened here.

Apparently the person, or people, who caused this room to be in this fine state of disarray, tried to bail out after or during the trashing, through the window. He deducted this option from the location of the window, a lonely scene within a scene, far from 'point zero' where most of the wreckage was located. Considering this, Dmitri assumed the forcefully removed shades happened after the initial elephant-charge in the store happened, plausibly enough to presume it was to escape unseen. Al though it was an equally viable option someone had been smacked into it or even that he was just plain wrong.

Another oddity that hogged his attention even more than the rest of this disaster area, was the indent in the black splatter of the wall -Had the ink been red Dmitri would have undoubtedly been bailing faster than his mind consciously presumed it to be blood from a crushed skull- However, the black ink on the wall weren't the cause of concern. The part that felt off was that a bottle smacking into a wall wouldn't leave a dent of that caliber however! Scanning the tiles underneath the abstract wall painting, he could in fact see bits of glass here and there...But nothing that could really be used to leave such a thing in this wall! 'What the hell happened here?!'

Just when Dmitri shouted "Anyone ALIVE?!" in an appropriately reformed version of his original question. He heard clinging and clanging around him, jerking his face around fast in the directions of the sharp sounds, Dmitri was on guard and ready to throw down with anyone even remotely hostile. That was until he saw a very short, very angry man running towards him with a very dangerous weapon raised high! Dmitri jumped back quickly and was about to dive towards the exit when the small man skidded to a halt and quite frankly almost seemed as surprised as Dmitri was in this bizarre situation.

"Wh-who am I?! Who the hell are you? What happened here?!"
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The man cocked his head slightly, with a smirk of annoyed amusement. "Do I really need to identify myself, young man? Me? Clearly defending this place the way one defends his own property? The name of this place being "Imp Press"? The 'Imp' referring to someone that would most likely look a lot like myself?"

He let the mace fall to his side, but did not completely relinquish it. He stepped to the door and looked out cautiously. "Too damned hot to leave the door closed. But unfortunately, it gives my...detractors...greater visibility of my whereabouts within." He turned back around with a grim chuckle. "Ahh, such a mess...no matter! They'll have to do a lot better than that to shut my mouth. It's the only part of me that's not smaller than the average man."

He paused with a grin and a quick gaze at belt level, "Well not the only thing..." he chuckled more bawdily now and approached Dmitri with his hand extended. "Well if you still haven't figured it out, I am Garrett Langley...THE Garrett Langley. The Imp of 'Imp Press'. What can I do for you? Other than get you mixed up in a fight that has nothing to do with you."

Now he paused a moment with a shrewd look. "It doesn't, does it?...Involve you, I mean? You're not a prospect for the Black Guard are you? They may have been attacking YOU and not me, if you were."

An idea seemed to suddenly occur to him. "Wait a moment! You were just outside, approaching my door! Quickly, describe for me anyone you saw out there that may have been focused on my shop."

The little man was scrambling for a pad of paper and a pencil as he spoke. "Clothes, odd walk, height, hair color, slouch, limp...well, that would be odd walk, wouldn't it? Single man? Woman? Part of a group? Did they appear to have throw or pointed at the doorway? But especially, and I'm serious, did they talk, or appear to use any kind of sign gesture speech?"

Dmitri may have thought initially that this was some sort of joke, but the intensity in the eyes of Mr. Langley served to dispel that notion quickly.
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Dmitri listened to the short man with both attention and skepticism, keeping his guard up in the literal and metaphorical sense. While his ears focused on the man's words, his eyes continued to scan the room, mainly for any other strange impish critters lurking around. When the man finally got around to introducing himself, after sharing his own -special- view on logic, Dmitri finally allowed himself to ease up and shook Garrett's hand as he introduced himself as Dmitri Saratov, 'new blood' in Etzos and eager to get a job that strains and trains the mind. It didn't take long for Garrett to dive right back in the rabbit hole though, when he suddenly mentioned the Black Guard and wondered out loud if it wasn't Dmitri they had been after. "I'm clueless as to who or what The Black Guard even is, not to mention I've only recently arrived and gotten citizenship here, or that they -whoever they may be- would have to be telepathic considering I haven't spoken a word to anyone when I would decide upon coming here to apply for a job. Lastly, it makes little sense for them to attack you and your establishment, if I was their target, before I even arrived. Well, that's my opinion on the bits & pieces of the puzzle I gathered so far at least."


When Dmitri finished rambling about his musings, Garrett suddenly got all frantic and quickly scavenged the area for a pencil & paper before interrogating Dmitri about who or what he had come across when approaching Imp Pressions, requesting every tidbit of information and detail he could remember. It didn't take long for Dmitri to figure out the importance and reasoning behind this request. Getting robbed or raided is one thing, but purposely being targeted for ulterior motives, is a whole other ballgame altogether. Dmitri did not waste time or breath before trying to recall what he saw when arriving here, trying to envision himself from a few moments ago, walking down the streets just moments before his normal day morphed into quite the surreal one. Speaking out loud while thinking about anything that could be remotely significant to Garrett Langley, Dmitri recalled: "Before I reached this road, before the first crossroads to your left when facing away from the door, there was a man holding a cane, blackened wood with a metal tip. He moved his hand forward, while holding the cane on the cobbled road. Didn't think much of it back then, but now that I think about it, the motion, angle and direction of the movement were a bit 'off' and very plausibly straight in the direction of Imp Pressions. Also, this might be paranoia but when he walked away around the corner afterwards, with a stride that didn't fit someone who needed a cane at all, additionally when I was about to pass him by, there was a sound of metal clashing when he walked. Definitely too loud and deep to be resonating from his cane! Lastly, He didn't went that far either, just around the corner where I passed him, he was in some sort of argument with someone I'd say. At least I think so, he was making full use of body language and..gestures! Can't be certain since it was too far for me to overhear and the man with the cane blocked sight of whoever he was talking to with his body, back turned to me."

Dmitri paused, trying to think of any odd behaviour from people he came across on the road. Unable to find anything else noteworthy he just shook his head at Langley. "Can't tell you much more than that, the man with the cane had a large burgundy coat on but apart from that I have no idea how he looked like. Bah!! If I had known this was going on in here..."
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Mr. Langley assaulted the page with his pencil, leaving a network of scratches and scribbles like scars across the pad. He rarely looked at the young man, though there was demonstrative response on practically every word to make it clear he was listening with every fiber of his being. Nods and snickers offset the shocked pauses and growls of renewed vigor as he set to once again with his weapon-of-choice.

He rocked on his feet, near to dancing, as cries of vindication and vilification sang forth in equal portion as he gleaned plots, ploys, decoys and giveaways from everything Dmitri said. But in the end, a scowl soured his features as he went back over and over the details his visitor provided, dragging him up the envisioned street and back with him as he recounted them. He spared his "victim" further interrogation, finally posed in concentration, his gaze searching the deep shadows of Etzos' warring factions, as his pencil tapped the side of his nose, seemingly of its own accord.

Then all at once he brightened, "Well nothing for it but to be off! I am willing to go on my own, but if you would care to accompany me, we could put your considerable observational skills to further use. This will not be so complicated an ordeal as trying to gather memories when you had no idea you would be needing them. But it may be more dangerous."

The dwarf was already collecting implements, journals and a dagger, which to him was more of a short sword. He also covered his head with a metal-reinforced leather cap. His cloak appeared to have similar safeguards built into it, but it was hard to be sure if the encumbrance was real, given the odd gait the man possessed. "Do you have a weapon, son? And I don't mean the 'investigator's weapon," he said with a flourish of his pencil and pad.

"Someone is either trying to make someone else look bad by playing on well-known grudges, or someone is genuinely sick and tired of my willingness to publish my opinions." He started for the door, snatching up a key and padlock as he exited the doorway, waiting for Dmitri to indicate his intent to follow or flee. "I suppose if I did not word my opinions so callously, or back them up with the insufferable outrage of facts they would not find them so offensive."

He turned to Dmitri one last time before he went around the back to retrieve his wagon. "Have you been in town long, uh...incidentally, I still do not know your name. Oh, and that was splendid detail you provided... Anyway there is this faction of zealots in town, 'The Order of The Bloodied Heart', and they use Gravitation magic in conjunction with their attacks as they charge an enemy. I have not been very supportive of their role in our military lately. And it was most assuredly gravitation that was used against my shop."

His face took on a shrewd look as he gauged whether Dmitri was coming to the same obvious conclusion, adding support with the reminder of the armored boot worn by the perpetrator, and the fact of the magic's delivery through a cane, which would follow the focus of a gravitation-empowered lance attack. "Also, they take a vow of silence, which brings special significance to the nature of the gesture-heavy argument you observed."

If Dmitri was NOT planning to accompany Mr. Langley out to The Monastery, where The Order had its barracks and housing, he'd best leave off before he heard so much that he'd be in danger of reprisals anyway, and the imp said as much to the young man. "So, I intend to go, with or without you, to see what form their reaction takes. You see, all these obvious incriminating details make me suspicious of their legitimacy. It seems a little bit too much. If they were going to leave so many hints as to their involvement and identity, they really may as well have simply come into the shop and killed me. Whether they care for me or not, I will not see them burdened with false blame. Especially when it comes by way of my own august self being the tool of its brandishing."

His face grew ever more determined as he spoke, but soon took on the shrewd look of tactical deduction "I think they will receive me warmly if they are guilty, and will display their usual disdain if not. Their vow makes them seem cold at first impression...ha ha...'impression'...get it?..okay, not my best work, I admit. But I will be speaking with their Grand Master, who is not bound by this oath. If you come along, I'm fairly certain you will not be allowed into his chamber. I'd like you to stay in the outer areas and see if anyone matches the appearance of the man, or men, you saw. As well as the behavior of those who remain nearby to keep an eye on you. Otherwise, if there's any place between here and the main gate you'd like to be dropped off, just say the word."
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Eyes widened in surprise as the short man, who had been almost skipping around from one leg to the other while dotting down details, suddenly and breezily implied that he was going to confront his mysterious assailants. In the tone of voice one would expect from someone who was going for a walk in the park, not knock on death's door...Unable to hold back a sign of astonished amusement, Dmitri shook his head with a grin and left the business owner alone so he could focus on his preparations. Meanwhile Dmitri made preparations of his own, which was basically scanning the area for any household item he could use to inflict some damage, or prevent it. Cursing himself for having left his heater shield at home, he walked over to the table laying on its side, ready to bust it apart to use one of its legs as a makeshift weapon. With a raised leg, he quickly looked around to spot for any indignant gnomes giving him the evil eye. A fortunate event as he had forgotten all about the mace Garrett Langley had almost shattered his kneecaps with. Obviously opting for the mace rather than a table leg, he spared the furniture from devolving into firewood and picked up the blunt weapon.

Reuniting and making way for the door, Garrett's deduction seemed more than plausible. Nodding quietly until Garrett mentioned he hadn't yet been properly introduced to. "Oh, my apologies, the name is Dmitri. Dmitri Saratov." Pausing for a moment and letting the fresh information sink in before voicing his opinion on the possibilities and correlations between different facets of the turn of events from today. It almost didn't hit him at all, but when it finally did, Dmitri had a lot of trouble containing his excitement and eagerness to go with Garrett Langley. How often does he get the chance to meet other mages, without the involvement of Vasily...Not often!! In his mind he was already going over every question he wanted answered, how the questions needed to be formulated and how to effectively do so without alarming Mr Garrett Langley. Those were all thoughts and concerns that needed to be adressed, but all in due time, for now he needed to focus on Garrett and the issue at hand.When Garrett continued and offered Dmitri one last Bail-Out card before leaving, Dmitri voiced his own opinion on the matter, while firmly grasping the mace and showing high spirit to exact justice upon the conniving bastards.

"I see...Considering what you've just said, and what I've seen; It is in fact highly plausible the attacker, or at least one of them, was in fact from that Order. This is not a baseless statement, I think. Mainly because, well..They used that specific magic, from a distance; Gestures from behind a corner to avoid being spotted. All indicators that they realized you would quickly come to this very conclusion, if they had confronted you head-on. While we are indeed aware of this all, keep in mind that this was just having luck and timing on our side. One step or glance at the wrong time, and you would be left in the dark, as they had probably expected and planned for. Even so, I do understand you, especially you, have to open only for hard facts and nothing more. I will come with you, try and sniff out whoever it was that was there at the time. Just, stay on guard and keep that dagger at the ready, all I'm saying!"

With that off his chest, Dmitri was ready to take on whatever was to come.
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Garrett grinned widely, serving again to curiously emphasize his short stature with a spread of teeth far more commonly seen two feet higher. They hit the streets at a fast trot. The dwarf impressing upon his companion that he enjoyed a good relationship with the Black Guard, those men who policed the streets and outer perimeters of the city itself. "Not to be confused with the army. Nor certainly not this Order of the Bloody Heart!"

He reasoned that he should offer some detail, "I printed some leaflets with comments about them being arrogant in their insistence that they deserve full rank with the established army. They have not been here anywhere near as long. There has been no attack to justify their notion that the army could not have handled it without them. They serve no social purpose with their cloistering beyond the walls and their vows of silence. Nor do they perform community functions to endear themselves with anyone. They seem to feel that standing silently with grim expressions and occasionally allowing others to see them tear bales of hay asunder with their magic should qualify them for full acceptance."

The apprehensive expression on Mr. Langley's shaking head made it clear what he thought of that, but he offered some counter to his criticism, "However, I will acknowledge that they do not burden the city coffers with tax-based wages. They have a vow of poverty to go along with their vow of silence. And they keep to themselves, foregoing drink and the resulting revelries that often bring the army to blows with the Black Guard. But I can not endorse a notion that silent strangers should be placed in equal rank with our standing army. Having only one man speak of their history, their present, and their intended future, makes it all too easy to maintain a lie. There is no chance for an inconsistent account to expose a falsehood. And I have said so on several occasions. It would seem that I have swayed public opinion often enough for them to see me as an obstacle to their agenda."

He grimaced and shook his head, "No, I shouldn't say that. I have no proof of that level of conniving." They were still hurrying through the streets, but not at a reckless speed. When they reached the gates, the guards gave them only a quick visual check and waved them through. Langley called back to them, "If you hear a report about my shop being attacked. It's true. I'm dealing with it, but if you could send a couple men to keep out looters for a while, I'd appreciate it."

"Will do! And bring 'em back alive this time shorty!" the guardsman called back, eliciting chuckles all around, even from Langley himself. As they rounded the corner to the north, anyone looking back could see a pair of gatesmen already heading into the interior of the city to comply with Mr. Langley's request. Clearly his comment about his good relationship with the Black Guard was not an exaggeration.

But he still leaned over toward Dmitri with a grin, "They're kidding. I didn't kill anyone. In fact, they've had to rescue me more than once. It's one of the major reasons I'm inclined to speak favorably about them. But more than that is the fact that they showed no offense when I initially investigated the possibility that they'd set the whole thing up to get me naively on their side. Said they fully understood, and appreciated someone not prone to accepting face value, or something like that. I'll tell you in all honesty, it's a policy I have rarely seen appreciated."

The monastery had been in view for several bits now. Even from a distance, its gothic "charm" radiated uncompromising intolerance. Up close it was even more imposing. The parapet patrols stopped their rounds briefly to cast stone faced looks their way. Langley betrayed no sign of uneasiness. He turned to Dmitri, "I want you to take the wagon slowly around the back, and then get 'lost' trying to find some back way in. You can tell them you assumed there was one, and didn't want to walk all the way back around."

He did not make a quotation gesture with this remark, figuring the guards would note such. But his eyes rolled pointedly. "Obviously what I want you to do is look around, and spend as much time as you can out here before anyone confronts you. I'm sure we will have beaten my attackers back here, if they are from here. I myself am going to request an audience with the Grand Master. If the Order is behind the attack, he will no doubt assume we will be coming. I intend to gauge his response to the news. As well as his response to my request for confirmation of every man who should be present. If there's someone hurrying back before his absence is discovered, you may just see him lurking outside."

With that, Mr. Langley jumped down from the wagon and marched confidently toward the heavy iron doors. One of the men on the parapets disappeared from view, and the rest resumed their patrols.
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