Not all fates are in the hands of mortals...

Bleh, this is where we stick the characters when they've drifted off from one campaign or another. Keep it tidy!

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Business Comes Calling
The tavern rumbled with the noise of a busy night. Amid the chaos, a group a four sat around a table along a wall, ignoring the bustling clamor of the room. As a serving wench brought another round of drinks, their conversation paused until she had left with their coin.

“I’m saying I know of a caster that could do the enchanting, not that I actually know him,” spat out Urad. He squared his shoulders, resetting the loose green mantle draped across them as he wiped his hands on his trousers. He straightened the yoke on his shirt underneath. “ Roodle is a College wizard, not exactly my type of colleague.” His lips pursed with distaste as his brow furrowed. “He supposedly set up shop in Lacertarae and crafts for gold.”

“Well then, ‘e should be right pleased t’ see us, then,” the big Aral laughed. He tipped back his tankard and downed half of it in one long swig. “How far t’ this Lacertarae is it, Bob?” Johan asked the other man at the table.

Bob leaned back and ran a hand through his hair before answering. “Maybe two, three weeks, it’s on the river down south. Never been there myself.” His eyes roved across the room beyond his companions, watching for anyone paying too much attention, or not enough.

The young woman at the table laid her hand on Bob’s and Urad’s arms. “I suggest then that we leave directly before Johan drinks all of our loot. There is a temple of my Mother there, if he will not assist perhaps they can direct us to someone that can.”

Johan laughed at Silanesse. “Och, ye wound me, lil’ Mother.”

**

“This here is a fine blade. Good balance, strong metal. I would consider it well done if I made one as good. Don’t recognize the maker’s mark though, aside from it’s a Salpian style. Where did you get it?” Brodi asked the swordsman. The two Arals were conversing in their native tongue as the smith inspected the blade. The crackle of flame and ringing hammers of the smithy gave backdrop to the lilting language.

“I pulled it from the lair of a troll up in the mountains, after putting said troll into burning pieces. That’s a right nasty smell, burning troll-flesh is,” Johan took the blade as the smith handed it back. “I was considering having it ensorcelled, if I can find a wizard to do such a thing. I heard there might be one in town that might be amiable to such a task.”

Brodi broke into a grin. “Aye, there is one. Do you have his name or do I need to introduce you?”

**
“ What’s the cost for a tankard?” Bob asked the dwarf. He set his hand on the bar with his last two fingers curled under.

“Depends on what kind you’ll be needing. “ Grizzard set an empty tankard on the bar in front of the rogue. “We don’t see many half-breeds around here.”

Bob’s face froze. “Is that going to be a problem?”

“Not for mine. It makes no difference to me who dallied with who. Just saying you might want to hide those ears a bit more if you plan on doing any serious drinking.”

“Just passing through with friends. They’ve a little business to attend to. I might have wine instead.” Bob tugged at an ear lobe as he leaned back from the bar.

“Suit yourself.” The dwarf slid the empty tankard back off the bar, palming the coin Bob had left under his hand. “Any particular vintage you have in mind?”

“Whatever a wizard drinks.”

**
Johan closed the door behind him. Bob leaned against the foot of the bed while Urad slumped on the edge. Silanesse sat on the single chair in her room at the small desk.

“I thought you said this Roodle was some sort o’ snob?” Johan asked Urad. “E’ry thing I heard from the smith makes it sound like he’s an alright fellow,” the Aral started with his hands on his hips. “He trucks w’ Arals fer one, cured a plague, an’ apparently ‘is cook is the end-all be-all o’ Aral matrondom. Oh, an’ yes, he enchants blades an’ll be square wit’ us on the gold, ‘specially since Brodi is going t’ introduce us.”

Bob nodded. “My contact says basically the same thing, with a little advice not to cross him. He’s got history. No one with any sense messes with that wizard but everyone wants to do business with him. He’s the city’s favored son by all accounts, with lots of operatives and contacts. And the cook is amazing.”

“History?” Urad looked over at Bob.

“I don’t know, I wasn’t paying for that. Sometimes you just don’t need to know, Urad.”

“No, I meant is that what your contact called it? The innkeep wouldn’t shut up about Namen Roodle. You’d think he rebuilt the city with his own hands, and feeds the poor from his own table,” Urad shook his head.

“There is more truth to that than you seem to credit, Master Pad.” Silanesse fixed her gaze on the wizard. “Magus Roodle did indeed save the city from the plague. He succeeded there where my own Temple had failed. He used his arts to assist in the rebuilding of Lacertare, and he does feed the orphans from his own kitchen. He has a school set up, and hires local adventurers to work jobs to keep them out of the conscriptions. He has also had an amphitheater built, and a park around it, in honor of his late mother, and has performances given free to the common Man. He often visits our Mother, and she is his guest at gatherings in his home, as she was close to his mother.” She smiled slightly before continuing. “And his cook is amazing.”

**
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Epic!
Retribution (Part I)
“Aye, we’re ‘ome safe ‘n sure now. You go ‘ave a sit, I’ll be ‘avin’ a chat with Master Roodle so’s this nae be ‘appenin’ again.” Hokur had shoved Sottovelo’s kitchen entrance door open with his foot as he had one arm around Ismay’s shoulders and her basket of market purchases under the other. The maid was shaking now, her face pale under her freckles, as the shock of what she had just escaped set in. Hokur slid the basket onto the counter with his hip and sat the girl down on a stool before turning to Maeve where she was seated at the table. “I’d be supposin’ that since yer down ‘ere, the master is up and about?”

“In the office with Dido,” Maeve stated simply around a nibble of scone. She recognized the ill-omened look clouding the mercenary’s face and thought it best not to get in his way. Yet.

“What’s happened then?” Morna demanded, turning from the stove with the ever-present spoon still in her hand even as she placed both fists on her hips to glare at the man.

“Some foolishment that’d best nae be trouble again.” Hokur said as he left to find the master of the house.

**

Hokur knocked once on the office door, waiting for a reply before entering. It was never a good idea to barge in on a wizard, particularly one who could vaporize demonic glass beasts. He found Namen sitting across from Dido over the central desk she used for most of the business of Sottovello. “You’re up early, Hokur. I thought you were heading to the Street of Doves after last night? Didn’t expect to see you until mid-day at the earliest.”

“Aye, been there most of the night. I was stumblin’ t’ me own bed when I came across some mischief ye best be knowin’ ‘bout. You be needin’ a proper footman about th’ place.” Hokur moved to the sideboard and poured a cup of tea, taking an experimental sip, “Och, this is that Rider Red?” he made a face indicating he was not at all impressed with the brew, regardless of its exclusivity.

“There’s a bottle of Flumenti uncorked if you prefer, or the dwarven brandy.” Namen gestured with a negligent wave of his hand before settling back to regard his Captain. “Why do I need a footman?”

Hokur poured a finger of brandy into a glass and shot it back before continuing. “Ah, this’s something right fine ‘ere!” the Aral said as he raised the empty glass. “As I was sayin’, I was stumblin’ t’ me own bed when I ‘appens to come through the farmer’s market. So’s I was standin’ there, figurin’ out if I wanted t’ try some o’ th’ apple fritters or just grab a biscuit from th’ kitchen at Libromazzarco, whens I sees a red’ead goin’ about ‘er business what looked familiar. Right enough, it was our Ismay. I also sees a bunch o’ jack-napes sniffin’ ‘round ‘er skirts. O’ course, she was ‘avin’ none o’ that, shooin’ ‘em away and such.”

The big Aral whipped a chair around one-handed and sat astraddle to face Namen and Dido before continuing his tale. “Ah’n that’s when th’ mischief begin. Seems right apparent-like they were nae takin’ th’ ‘int that she was nae interested, an’ th’ lot of ‘em were set t’ force th’ issue. Now as I’m standin’ there – havin’ decidin’ on th’ fritter – those young pups set t’ ‘arryin’ yer maid there until she got maneuvered out of th’ ‘erd, so’s t’ say. Well, I was ‘avin’ none o’ that, not fer one o’ our own. Just as I’s startin’ t’ cross the square, they pounced an’ got her tucked in t’ an alley.”

The big Aral scratched his chin, “Now I’m nae sorry t’ say I mighta knocked a few people t’ground gettin’ there, so’s ye may be havin’ to make nice wit’ ‘em but I had t’ get a double move-on,” he explained. “An’ quick as I can, I’m ducking in t’ th’ alley, fritter in one hand an’ th’ other restin’ on th’ Dodger t’ see these five cocksures have lil’ Ismay pinned up aginn’ th’ wall a ways down th’ alley. Silent as th’ grave she was... but screamin’ won’t help when there’s five sets o’ hands t’ quiet yer mouth.”

Namen’s lips had tightened into a grim line and his brows drew down as Hokur related the tale. “And?” he said stiffly.

Hokur shrugged, “Och, th’ lass is fine now, down in th’ kitchen wit’ ‘er ma an’ Maeve. Alls I ‘ad t’ do was step up an’ inform th’ scuttleworms that their … assistance… was nae required. Theys took that hint fair quick once a few elbows got me sidled up next t’ Ismay. But I did ‘ear something about one red’eaded Aral bein’ as good as another as I was comin’ up on ‘em.” He pulled down is long moustaches. “Come t’ think on’t, there were a few red-dyed whores down yonder as well. So’s as I see it, you need a proper footman t’ make sure some such mischief nae be ‘appenin’ again.”

“I see.” Namen rose and moved to pour himself a glass of the Flumenti. “Ismay is unhurt and …intact, you said?”

“Aye. Mebbe a wee shook up but th’ jack-a-napes had lil’ chance t’ do ‘er any ‘arm afore I stepped in.”

“Good. And you could pick these fellows out if you saw them again?” Namen asked before raising the glass to his lips.

“Aye, I suppose I could at that.” Hokur raised one bushy eyebrow at the wizard. “Yer plannin’ on somethin’ I can tell. Ya got th’ same look Arcelli gets when ‘e comes ‘cross ‘ob tracks.” Hokur tilted his head, “Come on now, it were mischief, right ‘n true, but th–”

Namen cut him off before he could finish, “I’m planning a lesson, an abject lesson, in manners.” The shorthairs on the mercenary’s neck stirred as his employer spoke. “One should always teach the ill-mannered the error of their actions, and the sooner the better or it won’t stick, just like beating a dog the day after it pisses on the floor doesn’t work. They’ve forgotten that this wizard is to be feared,” he glowered. Namen paused and drew a long, calming breath. “But you are correct, Sottovelo does need a footman. I’ve been meaning to add one to the household but hadn’t yet gotten around to it. This just illustrates the need to make it more of a priority. Besides,” he glanced at Dido, “if Maeve is to be a proper Salpian wife, she’ll need to be escorted by a footman now.”

“Oh, getting that girl… young woman, to have some man trailing along with her whenever she goes out, that will be a fruitful conversation.” Dido murmured.

“Ha! Yes, but she’ll see the reason for it I’m sure.” Namen cocked his head to one side. “Perhaps if we got one of her brothers… Regardless, that conversation will happen soon enough.” He turned to the still-seated Aral. “My thanks to you for saving Ismay from those fools. Now, off to Libromazzarco with you, get some rest, and I’ll see you tonight. We’ll go hunting,” he finished with a predatory gleam in his eye.

Hokur nodded, “Aye then.” He stood and put the chair back in its rightful place. “The Dodger likes the dark.”

After Hokur had left, Namen seated himself again and regarded Dido. “We do need a footman. And probably another maid… and Sottovelo is just too small. Signier Rotocelli was hinting about wanting a place in the city for his son.”

“You’re not thinking of selling Sottovelo, are you?” Dido asked.

“Gods no! I was thinking of Libromazzarco. I would of course keep Sottovelo as my place of business, but perhaps move the actual entertaining and living to a different location. Something larger and more suited to the requirements of a patrician’s household. Somewhere where Babik and his gnome … associates won’t be underfoot so readily. Yes…” he trailed off as his mind receded in thought.

Dido patiently waited for him to continue. He would often stop mid-sentence as his thoughts chased down the manifold corridors of his sprawling intellect. She poured herself a warming cup of tea and sipped quietly as he worked whatever idea over in his head.

After several moments, Namen continued, “I’ll speak with Rotocelli about Libromazzarco. Send him an invitation for dinner at Carpelli’s, if you would, sometime next week. Right now though,” he stood and walked towards the door, “I need to have a word with Ismay. Is there anything else I should be aware of?”

Dido glanced down at the list of invitations, congratulatory notes, and other documents. “I believe we have covered everything immediately pertinent.” She gave him an admonishing, almost motherly, look, “Don’t do anything brazenly stupid with those fools.”

“Brazenly stupid? Me? Of course not! Brazen perhaps…” he said with a smile that barely showed teeth, as he left his office.
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Tags: Aral , brazen , Downtime , fools
Epic × 2!
Working Late
   Thin wisps of green-tinged smoke curled up from the simmering cauldron perched above the flames of the fireplace. The grotesque faces raised upon the sides of the cauldron danced in the flickering light. The crackling pop and hiss of the fire spoke in discordant time to the scratching of pen upon parchment. The coppery stench of blood mixed in the ink mingled with the acrid tang of the cauldron’s brew, almost overpowering the smell of sweat and sex still in the man’s nostrils.
   "Namen?” a woman’s voice asked sleepily from the darkened recesses of the chamber.
   The man stood with his back to her voice, scribing arcane sigils onto the parchment spread upon the table in front of the fireplace. Red scratches ran across his shoulders and back, evidence of their passion. He made no response to her inquiry, absorbed as he was in what was before him. A silken cloth wrapped around his waist draped down to his knees. Books were laid open around him on the table, a scroll held open with a golden dagger and two round stones, and odd accruements of the arcane trade were scattered amongst the tomes. The pen paused as he consulted one volume or another, pages turning with a crackling whisper. Muttering inaudibly he continued to write. Occasional flashes of multi-colored light sparkled from the merging of ink and parchment.
   The woman stepped out of shadow, her body bare. Lithe and athletic, yet not overly muscled, her dark hair swirled like ravens across her shoulders. She stopped at the edge of the thick carpet, not setting her pale feet upon the stone floor. She stood watching him silently, her breasts swaying with her breathing. Idly she stroked a ringlet of hair around her face, a slow sleepy smile creeping upon her. Without a further word, she quietly retreated to the warmth of the bed she had so recently shared with him.
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