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From Out of a Dream [Quest]

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  • I agree with Ferryman. (Although Wonderandawe has a good point about clearing out a warehouse with one cart and two men.)


    Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
    An Exalt is never unarmed.

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    • "No, I didn't have just one job," you bark back. "You said you wanted a low body count and to make sure we got away clean. You got this cartload for free. Any more would've meant a massacre, which you said you didn't want. Did you change your mind?"

      Nuo takes a step closer to you, then pauses, then lets out an exasperated sigh. "...No." She looks over the contents of the cart ruefully. "...but this isn't enough. Even one or two more trips would have made so much difference. We only had one shot at this and you... Agh!" She throws up her hands and turns away, stalking to the edge of the quay. A long, tense silence follows. Riche and Stock glare at you. You deliberately ignore them and focus on Nuo, who is staring out over the water. When she finally comes back, her voice has gone cold. "We have no choice now. We can only deliver what we have and try to be... diplomatic... about the quantity. Load up the boat."

      This part of the operation goes perfectly smoothly, which makes the friction between you and the others all the more obvious. No one says a word the entire time.

      You help move the crates from the cart into the barge, and see how little your take is in proportion to what Nuo expected. Then Riche unties the barge, Stocke hands you a long paddle, and off you go. You spend the rest of the night poling and paddling with the rest of the team, pushing your ungainly vessel out of the little man-made harbor and into the wide river outside the city walls. Then you have to travel upriver, staying close to the city-side bank. Eventually, you spot a light on the bank, and the four of you make for the shore.


      Nuo's 'contact' has the look of a noble who has decided to slum it, or a petty merchant who pretends to be important. Either way, she has a strong bearing and plain working clothes, set about her in such a way as to look vaguely regal without being at all fine. She is flanked by two burly men who could be bodyguards or common laborer, dressed similarly. The three of them are sitting around the fire, and rise when the barge beaches on the riverbank.

      Nuo hopes out of the boat first, leaving the rest of you to pull the barge as far up onto the bank as you can. She walks over to the fire and starts a quiet conversation with the other woman.

      "You arrived early. I trust all is well?" ask the contact, sounding imperious.

      "All is well," replies Nuo, guardedly. "We are ready to make the exchange."

      "Very good. Master Guan, if you would?"

      One of the burly men steps away from the fire and walks over to you. Guan eyes you, Stock, and Riche with mild concern, then turns his attention to the barge. He frowns as he steps into the boat. The guard-laborer lightly kicks one of the crates, then pulls a small pry-bar from a pocket and levers the box open. He sticks a hand into the box, pulls out a little sack, puts it back, and steps back out of the boat.

      "Is this all you brought?" he asks Riche, in a whisper. Riche grimaces and nods. Guan looks crestfallen as he walks back to the fire.

      "Well?" asks the contact, raising a plucked eyebow.

      The man shrugs. "Two or three hundred, if that. It's good stock, but..."

      The contact rounds on Nuo. "What is the meaning of this?"

      Nuo sets her jaw. "We brought you what we could, as per our agreement."

      "This will not last us a week!"

      "Then perhaps your expectaions need adjustment."

      The contact's face reddens. She opens and closes her mouth several times. Then, finally, she shake her head and pulls something from a little pouch at her waist. It looks like a collection of metal discs and small, flat, carved stones fixed to a silver chain. The necklace clacks and jingles as the contact deliberately wraps the chain around her wrist. Then she detaches the pouch and tosses it to Nuo. "Your money, and the location of the archive. You may do as you like with it," she says, begrudging every word.

      Nuo catches the pouch, but keeps her eyes on the contact's strange necklace. Eventually, she reaches into the pouch and fishes out a small crap of paper. She squints at whatever is written on it. She does not look pleased. "What about the keys? I can't just walk in there, and you know it."

      The contact sniffs. "We may yet need them for our own purposes. As far as I am concerned, you have been rewarded in proportion to your deeds."

      You feel a slight chill in the air. A slight mist starts to gather around Nuo, but then she lets out soft sigh and it dissipates. "...Very well. I hope we can do business again."

      The contact sighs too. "Our government-in-exile thanks you. We can take it from here - you should make your way back inside before daylight."


      And so you do. First you unload the barge, then ride it back down the river and into the Nighthammer pool. Steering it back is noticeably easier on the return trip. Dawn is just beginning to break when you re-enter Nexus, the streets just beginning to get busy.


      You moor the barge where you first found it. Once again, Nuo disembarks first. This time she ties the barge up before the rest of you climb out. "Thank you, everyone," she says, stifling a yawn. The words sound forced, although whether that is because she is tired or simply does not believe them, you cannot say. She takes the contact's pouch and tosses it to Riche, who snatches it from the air and holds it tight. "You and Stocke split that between you. Rest up, and we'll meet back at our usual spot tomorrow."

      Stocke steps up behind Riche and reaches over the smaller man's shoulder for the bag. Riche ducks and steps out of the way. "Come on, then," rumbles Stocke. "I just want to buy breakfast."

      Riche takes another step away. "Last time you said dat, you spent it all on your boytoy. We're going to de bank, now, before de get full up."

      The two men wander away, carrying on an agreeable disagreement. Nuo then turns to you. "I'll take you back to the safehouse," she says, with a flat voice and dull eyes. "We can work out the next step later."
      • Go along quietly. You're tired, hungry, and in no mood for argument.
      • "Fine, but I want some answers." You've been working hard after being trapped in a storehouse for days. The least Nuo can do for you now is tell you why.
      • "I did what you wanted. What about my guide?" Your patience is wearing thin - you still need to find the gate to Heaven. Nothing else matters.
      • Something else?


      On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

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      • "I did what you wanted. What about my guide?"

        (I as a player wants some answers, but we are single minded and impatient. )

        (Also, tempted to go back to the warehouse and rob it properly, but it is too late for that.)
        Last edited by wonderandawe; 05-17-2016, 05:29 PM.


        I write things.

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        • "Fine, but I want some answers." You've been working hard after being trapped in a storehouse for days. The least Nuo can do for you now is tell you why.
          Like, does this archive have anything to do with the guide to the gate?
          Will Nuo need help at the archive without the key(s)? perhaps this next time, she will be more specific



          Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
          An Exalt is never unarmed.

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          • "Fine, but I want some answers."

            We could start with a simple question: if she needed more from the warehouse, why didn't she tell us more about the job? She's been tight-lipped until now and it just burned her. If she'd told us what the expectations were we probably could've managed another cartload.


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            • "Fine," you huff, "but I want some answers."

              Nuo blinks at you, then gives her head a little shake. "Let's walk and talk."

              She turns and starts walking away with her head down, taking long strides. You catch up with her in a few steps and follow her lead.

              "What was this job about?" you begin, trying to keep your voice just above the city clamor. "That wasn' food we took. I don't even know what we stole, or why."

              "Medicines," says Nuo, softly. "A lot of the people outside the wall are suffering white plague, or something like it. There's a big demand for treatment, and not a lot to go around."

              "So who did we deliver this medicine to?"

              "She used to be an ambassador, I think. When Thorns fell and the surviving government moved -"

              "Thorns?"

              Nuo turns to give you a perplexed look. Then her face relaxes and she looks away. "Of course. Up north on the steppes, you wouldn't have heard. Well, the short version is that Thorns used to be a rich city-state about a thousand miles southwest of here. They say it was overrun by an army of the dead, led by a corpse-beast the size of a castle." She shrugs. "I don't know how much of that is true, but the people of Thorns fled after the invasion. Many of them came all the way here, but for some reason the Council passed a lot of edicts that effectively prevent them from coming into the city proper. So now a few reminaining nobles, officials, and civil servants are running this camp-town outside of Nexus, trying to keep things together while they work out how to survive."

              You recognize this alley - you passed this way last evening. Nuo is retracing her steps while she talks.

              "So, you smuggle medicine to the Thorns-people... they can't just buy it because the Council won't let them?"

              "Correct. Some stupid rule about certain remedies only for sale to people who are sick, except at a markup, along with those checkpoints stopping anyone who looks like they've got plague from going anywhere into the city. I think the Council hopes to leech all the money they can from the refugees before they die or get forced to leave.1"

              "Why did you say it was food before?"

              Nuo grimaces. "Force of habit? I don't usually tell people involved in my plans all the details. All you needed to know at the time was where the goods were and that we wanted as much as we could take."

              Nuo stops talking for a bit while you both scale a wall. Once you have crossed over a few roofs and dropped back down to street level, you ask your next question.

              "Is that why you wanted to get more? Just to help Thorns?"

              "Yes," she answers. But then her mouth twists. "Well, not completely. Naturally, I also could have negotiated a better deal if I had more to bargain with..."

              "...you're talking about those 'keys.' The talismans that woman held onto."

              "You heard that? Yes... having those would make my life a lot easier...:"

              "But you didn't really think we could empty a whole warehouse with two men and one cart, did you?"

              Nuo's face falls. "That... was an artifact of an older plan." She is quiet for some time. "I... used to have a larger group. We tried to raid that warehouse a few weeks ago, and it went badly. Now Riche and Stocke are all I can spare for this kind of work."

              "Hmmhmm."

              The conversation freezes again. You pass through a series of twisting alleys, and come out into a more commercial part of the city.

              "So what's this archive? Does it have something to do with the gate?"

              Nuo does not answer immediately, seeming to spend some time considering her answer. "It's... a place where a collection of Nexus city records are stored. Sensitive stuff, not for the eyes of ordinary people. There... could be something about a gate there, but if I'm going to be candid, that isn't why I want to see it."

              "Then what do you want?"

              "Some insight into the Council's inner workings. Where they come from, how its members are chosen. Something I could use for leverage."

              "And the keys..." you consider what kind of lock would use talismans as keys. "Is the archive guarded by sorcery?"

              "I have reliable sources that say so. Specifically, there are wards, alarms, and some kind of guardian spirit to stop thieves and intruders. The keys would have got me past all of that." Nuo frowns and exhales. "Godsblood, I hate magic. It complicates everything."
              Part of you wants to point out that Nuo is magic, but you let her comment go. She stops in the middle of an alley to rub her eyes. "Does that satisfy you, or do you have more questions?"
              • You have more questions (Player's choice - what do you want to know?)
              • No more questions - you just want your guide. Your curiousity is sated. Now it's time to get back to your quest.
              • Offer to help Nuo in the archives. You don't feel you need to leave just yet, and she did say there could be information that would help.
              • Something else?
              1
              Sounds like torture to you - cruel for no reason. If you wanted a bunch of vagabonds off your lands, you could just kill them. Or clear some other land for them to move to, you suppose...
              Last edited by semicasual; 06-02-2016, 10:22 AM.


              On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

              Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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              • No more questions - you just want your guide.
                Time to move along. Maybe there will time for another boondoggle, er, joint venture again afterwards, maybe not.

                If you wanted a bunch of vagabonds off your lands, you could just kill them.
                I don't remember considering this when the Wanderers turned up.


                Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
                An Exalt is never unarmed.

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                • Originally posted by L'het'esh View Post
                  No more questions - you just want your guide.
                  Time to move along. Maybe there will time for another boondoggle, er, joint venture again afterwards, maybe not.
                  Time to move on!


                  I write things.

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                  • Originally posted by L'het'esh View Post
                    I don't remember considering this when the Wanderers turned up.
                    (That's because you all settled on trying diplomacy in the first postvof that chapter. I do try to accomodate your story direction choices, although I am finding that I am not very good at guessing your priorities.)


                    On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                    Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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                      • Offer to help Nuo in the archives. You don't feel you need to leave just yet, and she did say there could be information that would help.
                      Going in informed is better than not, we should know this by now. Plus, we did kinda make Nuo's job harder, and might want to make that up to her. Nergui would just demand his payment and leave; Youngest Joy should feel responsibility towards an ally.

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                      • Originally posted by semicasual View Post
                        (That's because you all settled on trying diplomacy in the first postvof that chapter. I do try to accomodate your story direction choices, although I am finding that I am not very good at guessing your priorities.)
                        I was making a statement, not complaining. Sorry!



                        Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
                        An Exalt is never unarmed.

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                        • (Any other votes before we proceed?)


                          On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                          Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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                          • Offer to help Nuo in the archives. Alright I'm curious.


                            I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
                            I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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                            • Archives!!!

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                              • Partly out of a sense of responsibility and partly to assuage your curiosity, you make Nuo an offer. "Do you want my help getting into these archives?"

                                Nuo gives you a tired smile. "I was hoping you'd ask. Yes, I would."

                                "So, where are they? When do you want to go there?"

                                "They're..." Nuo pauses to yawn. "... pardon me. They're uptown, in the Bastion district. The archive is in a basement under a mansion a block or so south of the Nexus Bureau of Trade and Accords. We can't go there during the day, though."

                                "Tonight then?"

                                "Perhaps. Soon, anyway. Let's catch up on food and sleep, first." Nuo steps out of the alley and looks down the street. "Come on. We're nearly there."

                                You reach the 'safehouse' without incident. You sigh with resignation and open the door. But then Nuo stops you, putting a hand on your shoulder and turning you to face her.

                                "Otgonbayar..." she says, quietly, "thank you for everything. I understand how... inconvenient all this must be for you." She removes her hand, takes a step back, and gives you a small smile. "You like... noodles, right? I'll see if I can find some for you."


                                Nuo does bring back noodles - a whole steaming pot of them, in fact. They are the best noodles you have had in years1. That marks the high point of another two days spent waiting in the safehouse, periodically receiving meals and reassurances that things are coming along nicely. You pass the time any way you can - mostly by resting. Sometimes you wonder what is happening to the Sunblessed in your absence. But with no way to act, you can only push your worries down and try to forget them.

                                On the night of your sixth day in Nexus, Nuo returns. She hands you a pair of buns to eat on the go and informs you it is time to leave.

                                1
                                Also the only noodles you have had in years, but who's counting?



                                This time, your trip through Nexus involves fewer back alleys and more lawn crossing. Bastion is clearly the part of town where the rich live - the compared to what you have seen before, the houses, businesses, and streets in this area are finer and better-maintained. The buildings are also taller, wider, and spaced further apart. They are also more heavily patrolled. Many times, you have to stop and hide to let groups of guards pass by – some wearing the bronze lamellar armor you saw before, others in blue with crimson crests.

                                Finally, Nuo leads you to the rear of a giant2 stone manorhouse. She climbs a fence, you hop over, and the pair of you come to a modest wooden door set unobtrusively into the side of the building.

                                "This is it," Nuo remarks unnecessarily. You step up to the door and give the handle a tug. It clicks and rattles - locked.

                                "Allow me," says Nuo, pushing you out of the way. She pulls a key out of a pocket and starts fiddling with the lock. "I was lucky today - do you know, there are drop-off points for messages all over this town? They're how the Midnight Queen's people communicate without meeting each other. I found a man whose sole job it is to gather up those messages and deliver them here." The lock clicks and the door swings open. "He had some interesting things to say about the inside." She stands aside to let you go in first. "Should be left and down the stairs."

                                You shrug and follow her directions. The stony interior is dim, cool, and clean. A short hallway leads to a long flight of stairs that cuts down at a surprisingly sharp angle. You descend one step at a time, listening carefully. Nuo follows after, keeping one hand on the wall.

                                A faint light becomes brighter as you approach the bottom. The base of the stairs opens onto a small antechamber. A pale lamps burning with an eerie blue-green flame rest on either side of the room. Ahead of you is a wide doorway, beyond which you can see row after row of cabinets and shelves. Off to one side is a small pyramid of scroll tubes, resting against the wall.

                                You take a few steps towards the doorway, and an angry red light fills the room. A transparent crimson barrier is now blocking the threshold - like colored glass, but with an unfamiliar texture. Bright teal glyphs shimmer on the surface of the barrier, dancing in a shifting geometric pattern. From what you can make out, these sigils signify something about forbidding passage, warnings, and guardians.

                                "Tch. It's as I thought," whispers Nuo. "This would be the outer ward. If I had the talisman-keys, I could just walk right through it... or, so I assume. Any ideas, Otgonbayar?"

                                · Boldly push through. Walls only keep out people who aren't strong enough to break them down.
                                · Sabotage. What if you tried damaging the walls or ceiling around the entryway?
                                · Try to interact with the glyphs. It almost looks like you could touch them... Maybe there's something about their pattern that works like a lock?
                                · Something else?
                                2
                                This puts Himitsu's old place to shame.


                                On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                                Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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