((Haven't finished my piece and need to get to bed now, but I'll get up early to write the rest. Quick question though. Using my thief's tools is a DEX check with the Thief's tools proficiency bonus added in, right?))
((Haven't finished my piece and need to get to bed now, but I'll get up early to write the rest. Quick question though. Using my thief's tools is a DEX check with the Thief's tools proficiency bonus added in, right?))
When Keranos mounts the stage, he demonstrates a gravitas and oratory ability well in excess of expectations for one his age and recites a chapter from a well-known canon of legend. It is politely received with a smattering of applause, but does not seem to enthuse the crowd. Perhaps it is because his choice is selected from a series of structurally identical tales where the timelines along which they occur are opaque and confounding (some scholars have postulated that there are in fact three separate continuities), or perhaps it stems from the fact that the story does not pertain to Telmur. Regardless, the end result is the same; he does not appear to be in the running. Undeterred, he recites his name to the scribe, and more or less immediately begins his surreptitious observation of Whimsley to discern if there might be another angle to approach this from.
Nyx is the next to take the stage, where at first her demonstration of wilderness knowledge looks to share the same as Keranos's story. When the presentation swerved into the realm of practical application, however, she finds her stride and recaptures the audience's attention. She finishes strong and is certainly in the final running, but her victory is not yet secure. She will need an extra something to lock it in, but what?
Fhiess opts to eschew the competition entirely and makes a direct appeal to the mayor on the behalf of his employer, Hogan's Exports. Unfortunately the noise and action of the festivities is such that Whimsley doesn't even see the half-elf and his flyer as he walks right on bad. Too add insult to injury, a particularly malicious bird swoops from the sky and snatches the flyer right from Fhiess's grasp.
Its call sounds like mocking laughter.
Ludwig produces a wood carving that is a remarkable achievement for a quadruped without hands, but perhaps less so by other standards. It matters not, however, as the J'raffa's appearance and speech alone is enough of a novelty that the audience responds with approval. Their acclaim is secured when the towering creature proceeds to consume the entire contents of a keg of spirits to rousing chants of "Chug! Chug! Chug!" As the tipsy giant teeters off the platform, a dwarven woman with a slate and chalk is already offering him a parchment with the town seal declaring Ludwig an official delegate of Remdormo.
Kerano's surveillance reveals that if Whimsley possesses a sense of guile, he goes through extraordinary lengths to convey the exact opposite. The levers by which he might be manipulated or convinced to act in a particular manner are so apparent that it seems almost comical.
Upon hearing Keranos's appeal, the mayor's eyes light up as he throws a meaty arm around the boy's shoulders, pulling him close to whisper conspiratorially. "I see you have a good head about you, my boy," he says. "You are correct, the stakes for Remdormo are higher than people know, for our tribute is no mere gift, no lad! The standing of our fair city in the eyes of the crown depends on its safe delivery, and that is no job for a band of traveling entertainers! No, we need someone with steel and wherewithal to know when to use it and when to refrain. I'm pleased that you had the presence of mind to come to me, most pleased!" Nodding over Keranos's shoulder, he adds, "Hulna, why don't you draw up this fellow a certificate of delegation?"
Behind Keranos, the mayor's dwarven assistant has already done so and holds it out for Keranos's asking.
Undeterred by needling birds and inattentive government executives, Fhiess approaches the mayor again. This time he manages to capture Whimsley's attention and produce a reasonable likeness of his face in a relatively short amount of time with limited supplies and a lack of surfaces.
Whimsley takes it graciously and sighs. "I appreciate your effort, my boy, but this is to send the very best of the best of Remdormo to Castle Telmur and bring before the Boy King himself. Now is this good? Certainly, I will grant you have talent. But is it the best? Here, have a look at the stage right this moment."
On the stage is what Fhiess recognizes as an avant garde stage performer company. The performance is baffling and inscrutable; A towering man draped in black robes--clearly on stilts--stands over a scale model stage prop of Castle Telmur. From beneath the folds of his robe, a quartet of dancers wearing grotesque masks emerge and cavort about the stage with manic glee.
"Look at that!" Whimsley boasts. "It's so cutting edge that it makes no sense whatsoever! There are no masters of stagecraft as those who hail from Remdormo!"
At that moment, the master of stagecraft standing on stilts missteps and begins to wobble. His cohorts stand transfixed in horror as man and his wooden leg extensions fall on top of their rendition of the castle with a crash, showering the audience nearest the stage with wooden splinters.
Whimsley turns back to Fhiess. "As I was saying, I'd be happy to consider you for our delegation. But I need to see more than this, my boy."
((You missed a success by 1, so you're getting an extra shot in addition to your third one so you can get the two successes needed.))
Fhiess shakes his fist at the vulture that scrawks at him. In a panic, he grasps another piece of paper to redo the example drawing the best he can in a short time span while the mayor is working with others.
Once the mayor is finally able to give a proper look over of his sketch, it doesn't seem to bode well for the elf. "Ah, well..." he begins, shaken by the criticism, "It was just a quick demonstration on a whim, but I confess that I didn't mean to imply that I would be attending the delegation myself, but to bring interest about the enterprise and their services. I'm just one of several painters that work there, and we spend much time carefully crafting the image to perfection."
He points over to the performers on stage, "You see, Hogan's Exports has become a service valued by dancers such as they.. from transports to providing materials for their work. If not to have a painting made, I do think that Hogan Ridge is a man of great importance and would know what's best for the King."
1D20+2+3 => (16 + 2 + 3) = 21 - Persuasion
"Although.. he did send me to represent the company. If he is unable to attend then I may opt to go in his place. Oh.. if only I was allowed to bring some example paintings with me, but they are too valuable to leave the shop."
Fhiess's outcomes seem to be steadily improving with each attempt, as now Whimsley is more than wavering, he seems downright on the verge of relenting. But not quite yet. "I do not know," he muses. "How can I be certain Hogan's goods and services are as valuable as you claim if you profess at the same time that they are too valuable to remove from their current location?"
((You used Persuasion twice and used a craft check, so those are out. You have several +5 and +4 skills that could be applicable, though. One more successful check, and you're in.))
For her next trick, Nyx asks a few people to bring some very large near by objects up to the stage. The men are just barely able to carry the specified objects to her, even with several men carrying each one. Once the props are in place, she says she will now preform some amazing feats of strength. The crowd seems to have some doubts about this. Nyx then gets behind one of them were the crowd can not see her and attempts to lift it. For the first few seconds, nothing seems to happen, but then sudden it raises into the air. However behind the prop, instead of a gnome they discover a brown bear lifting it with ease. The bear then holds it in one arm and lifts the other prop with seeming no effort. After this the bear preforms a few more feats of strength and suddenly is replaces by Nyx once again.
Athletics: 1D20+6 => (3 + 6) = 9
Or at least... that is how she planned it out in her head.
The announcement of the little contest sparks Sagishi's interest. He has no intention of entering himself but watching a bunch of entertainers battle sounds like a good way to spent some time.
Sadly his hopes get crushed pretty soon. If that is the best that Remdormo has to offer than that delegation would be better advised to stay home. Not that the little gnome's knowledge wasn't impressive but a lecture on nature wasn't exactly fun in Sagishi's book.
His interest only peaks again when the strange creature from before enters the stage. It's show of talents is certainly peculiar and Sagishi is sure that where it not for his strange appearance he might have been booed of the stage immediately. As it is Sagishi and the rest of the crowd stand transfixed watching a keg of liquor vanishing down the long and slender neck.
Whether it was the wish to give the people a bit of actual entertainment or seeing a chance to get to know this intriguing creature a little better, he couldn't say, but without much thought Sagishi suddenly finds himself on the stage, bowing deeply and smiling at the crowd around him. It is only when he sees the crowd looking back at him expectantly that he realizes that, now he is up here, he should probably do something.
He puts on his best smile.
"Well, what a wonderful day full of surprising performances this has been so far. I wonder though, are you still up for a little bit more, or are you already tired and can't wait to get home."
Some scattered murmur goes through the crowd, a cheer can be heard here and there.
"I said, are you still up for a little more fun?" This time Sagishi bellowed at the top of his lungs and sure enough this time the cheering was considerably louder. First rule of the entertaining business, get the people's attention. How often old Gerion had repeated that little mantra, Sagishi couldn't remember, but seeing the crowd fixated on him he knew that their was truth in the old man's words. Which meant that now came rule Nr. 2. Keep their attention.
Sagishi's mind is racing as he tries to come up with a good plan when he spots a girl carrying a tray with some leather tankards passing below the stage.
"For my first demonstration I'll need a volunteer from the crowd." He makes a show of scanning the spectators before pointing at the waitress.
"You there pretty lady! Yes, you. Come up here for a moment, will you?"
For a few moments the woman looks like she's going to decline his offer but Sagishi gives her his warmest smile and finally she climbs the stairs to the stage. Sagishi grabs one of the tankards and turns to the waiting J'raffa raising the tankard in greeting before chugging it down. Then he turns back to the crowd.
“Don't worry dear people. I don't plan on demonstrating my inferior drinking skills but watching Ser Ludwig here has made me thirsty. Now then...” He turns to the waitress. “If you'd be so kind as to give me those two empty tankards as well? Thank you. Now, I need a table... yes, this one will do.”
After two of the majors man have brought a small wooden table to the stage, Sagishi lines the three tankards upside down on the table.
“And now I need... Oh, there, if you'll excuse me pretty lady...” He leans forward as if to brush something from the waitresses hair. When his hand comes back he is holding a shining golden coin. He hands it to the girl.
“OK. Let's start. First I think you should attest to our dear spectators that those are indeed normal tankards and that you and I sadly never had the pleasure of meeting. Is that right?”
The young girl still looking around shyly, nods and with a small voice answers. “Yes, that is correct.”
“Wonderful, we wouldn't want the people to think we are tricking them, won't we? Good, now watch the coin.”
Sagishi put the coin under one of the tankards and starts moving them around with swift movements. When he is finished he smiles at the girl. “Can you tell me where the coin is?” The waitress, familiar with this game, has been watching the tankards intently and, ignoring the various enthusiastic suggestions from the crowd, points at the middle tankard. And indeed, when Sagishi lifts the tankard the coin is right there.
“What a keen eye you have. Now it's my turn” He and the waitress switch places and growing into her role more and more she moves the tankards around fast. When she is finished she looks at Sagishi who is making a show of eying the tankards with mocked concentration.
After about half a minute he shakes his head. “I'm sorry, but something is not right here. I fear that the coin is not under any of those tankards.”
With a frown on her face the waitress lifts up all three of the tankards and indeed, the coin isn't there.
“Hmmm, isn't that strange,” Sagishi muses. “Where might that Coin have ended up?” He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Oh, I can see it now. If you'd be so kind and open your left hand?”
Surprised the girl does as she is told and when she does a small ball of cackling light shoots up into the air with a howl and bursts into golden sparks above their heads.
“Ah! I'm sorry,” Sagishi continues with a smile. “That was my mistake. I meant your right hand of course.”
The girl opens here hand and there lies the golden coin.
Having the chance to perform again after such a long time, Sagishi starts to relax. He arranges some of the fireworks he recently “acquired” on the table so that he can easily grab them. He then takes up the tankards from before and starts juggling them. Once he has them spinning in a sufficient arc he quickly, one after another, grabs the firecrackers and launches them into the air, where they burst between the spinning tankards.
When the last of the fireworks is gone Sagishi looks to the crowd once more. Since he isn't especially interested in joining the delegation he could probably just stop here, but then again, he was enjoying himself way too much and there was still the prospect of getting to chat with that J'raffa creature.
“And for my last trick. I shall need some chains and a lock.”
The request caused a little commotion but not long and some sturdy chains and a heavy lock was brought to the stage by the mayor himself. He stood before Sagishi a little unsure what to do.
“Now good Mr. Mayor. If you'd do me the honor and have your men chain me up real tight? Just imagine I'd be some sleazy little charlatan about to be thrown in the dungeon.”
The mayor did as he was told and a minute later the heavy chain is wrapped around Sagishi several times, closed at his back with the heavy lock.
“OK.” Sagishi clumsily turned around and showed his prison to the crowd, before facing them again. “I must say, dear Mr. Mayor, those are some fine chains, you have there, and that lock. Gnomish work? I thought so. I have to admit, I wouldn't want to be an ordinary thief in your town.” He wriggles around for a few seconds and then, with a loud clanking noise, the chains fall to the floor and Sagishi raises his arms. “Lucky for me. I'm not an ordinary thief!”
Nyx's run-off performance is not as spectacular as she may have hoped, as it is not too distantly removed from a similar act from the traveling circus staring an ordinary bear. Her competition, however, was a second performance by the abstract dance performers that managed to go even more awry than their first attempt. This time they managed to accidentally set one of their members to flame, a particularly noteworthy accomplishment in light of the fact that their act did not involve any sources of fire, but not one befitting presentation for the king.
On the strength of her prior performance and her ability to not set herself on fire by accident, Nyx is officially extended a certification of delegation for her efforts.
The more Fhiess speaks to the mayor, the more confident he seems to become. Sensing the mayor's hesitation and that victory is within grasp, he gives a brief history of the Hogan's Exports company and extols its business innovations and importance to the artistic community of not just Remdormo--where Hogan owns and maintains a museum in the former home of Nolzur, a most legendarily prolific artists whose works can be found in number all across Telmur--but the rest of the kingdom as well.
Whimsley's head starts nodding, increasing in enthusiasm the more Fhiess tells him. "Yes!" he exclaims, throwing his arms wide when the artist finishes. "Yes, that is exactly the sort of expertise we need accompanying our tribute, someone who can properly appreciate and convey the majesty of it to the common man! You have made your case, my boy, you have made your case! Hulna, certify this young man!"
The dwarven woman with the slate and chalk appears that the mayor's side at the sound of her name, a stamped piece of parchment held out for Fhiess to take.
Sagishi is the last contestant of the day, a late entrant who is allowed to perform because Whimsley is a jocular fellow who can never say no to the prospect of a good and entertaining show. He had nothing prepared or in mind for this event, but he slips into the role of entertainer as comfortably as he would a well-formed shoe, and instantly calls forth his years of experience in this venture.
He launches into an entirely improvisational routine, but it is so smooth that the audience would have no way of knowing that he is making it up fully on the fly as he goes. His variety show act is applauded the whole way, but the crowd truly goes wild for his on-stage escape. No sooner is the act over than Whimsley approaches, clapping wildly as his assistant shoots her hand out offering a certificate declaring Sagishi one of the winners.
((Everyone made it onto the delegation. You all get a point of inspiration and a prize purse of 300gp each))
Whimsley takes to the stage once more, grinning broadly and applauding with gusto. He is accompanied by Hulna, the middle-aged dwarven woman who is utterly absorbed in whatever it is that shes furiously writing down on a slate with a piece of chalk. The each seems utterly unaware of the other, and yet they manage to weave in and out of one anothers paths as though by utter coincidence. Now wasnt that something? Whimsley shouts over the raucous crowd. Wasnt that well and truly something?
Reaching skyward with arms spread wide as though he means to pluck Nyx from the heavens, he booms, People of Remdormo, I present to you our royal delegation!
Hulna looks up from her scribbling and waves the party up the stairs. Come on, come on, she says in lightly accented Common. While were young, weve timetables to keep here! Move along, move along! She pauses to stare at Ludwig, tapping her rose-colored lips with her chalk as she considers the Jraffa standing above her eye level, even here on the platform. You then, left side of the stage, she says at last as she points him the desired direction. Make it snappy, but dont go trampling any poor souls in the process!
The cheering swells as the duly appointed representatives of Remdormo assume their positions, and it takes Mayor Whimsley tamping down their enthusiasm with his arms for it to reach a level where he can heard once more. Now, I know that everyone is wondering. Everyone is wondering what it is--beyond these fine folks offerings--that our fair town of Remdormo will present as a gift to our king! A gift for us to be remembered by, for monarchs to come! Well, wonder no more! Barrow, why dont you bring that on out here and show everyone what we have in store for our beloved liege?
A towering, shrouded something appears at the back of the crowd and slowly makes its way forward to the platform. As the throngs part to allow it to pass, they reveal a bald, particularly dour-looking dwarf driving a team of draft horses pulling a wagon. Waves of speculative conversations wash over the crowd as it draws up alongside the platform. The dwarven woman purses her lips as she looks at her pocket watch and taps her foot impatiently.
Uncover it, wont you Barrow? Whimsley asks with a smile.
The dwarf with the wagon starts. What? Ye asked me tbring it in, and I brought it! Ye never said anythin bout unwrappin it!
Barrow! Hulna hisses. The schedule!
Barrow waves his hand dismissively. Bah, thOneiroi take yer schedule! he grumbles, but nevertheless complies with the request. With a few well-considered swipes of a knife, the ropes and canvas concealing the object fall away and the murmurs of the crowd start afresh.
The bronze statue is a reasonable likeness of the Boy King Dio. Standing behind him, hand planted firmly on his shoulder and arm pointed forward in guidance, is a figure that resembles the mayor. Only taller, broader of shoulder, slimmer of gut, and with a more flattering hairline.
Nothing is too good for our king! proclaims Whimsley.
After giving a brief recall of the company's history to the mayor, he cheerfully thanks him and accepts the invitation. He follows the others, still individuals rather unknown to him to stand at his indicated spot.
Next, Fhiess is drawn in by the unraveling of the great bronze sculpture. Truly a prize both in value and in craftsmanship, but he can't help but begin brainstorming many aspects of the statue beginning with the quality of the material such as the purity of the metal from where he can see it (Perception: 1D20+2+2 => 11), as well as the decisions made in its creation: such as the composition seemingly placing more emphasis on the man towering above the king and his form exaggerated more profoundly and giving a more dictating gesture. (Insight: 1D20+2+2 => 6) With the mayor having seemed unaware of Hogan's services and, as far as Fhiess knows, the studios still lacking the means to cast bronze, it seems unlikely it was commissioned at the shop. Still impressed, he rubs his chin commenting aloud, "Oh, that is a proud decoration! It is fit for a centerpiece somewhere in the castle for certain."
Having been caught up in the rush of the performance Sagishi finds himself a bit lost as he actually ends up on the delegation to the capital. It wasn't quite what he'd had in mind when he came to Remdormo with the intention of keeping a low profile. But then again he wasn't the type to pass up new experiences either and maybe hiding in plain sight might be a serviceable solution to his problems as well.
When they are lead to the stage again Sagishi eyes his new companions but doesn't find much of interest besides the J'raffa. The gnomish girl looked nice enough but the boy in the overgrown armor and the fidgety elf didn't seem like they'd be much fun at parties. And so Sagishi quickly finds himself a place next to the J'raffa, hoping to soon be able to learn more about him.
As the statue is revealed, Sagishi stifles a laughter. He leans closer to Ludwig, nudging him somewhere at what he took to be his knee and adresses him over the clamour of the crowd.
"Well isn't that something? Though if you ask me, they should've gone with your version."
Ludwig is forced to stifle his natural response of telling a state official to go fuck herself for barking orders at him. After getting to the proper part of the stage, he groans internally at the statue that is a monument to government waste.
Luckily for him, one of the other delegates seems to share his sentiment. Ludwig turns his head to the man addressing him, and recognizes him from the last act. With what constitutes a grin for a J'raffa, he says "Leave it to a government official to exaggerate a monument to a figurehead, right? My embellishments were at least endearing."
From where Fhiess stands, he can see that the bronze statue is largely unremarkable. There are no visible impurities, but neither is it of any unusual quality. It was likely crafted in the usual fashion of pouring molten metal into a mold, meaning it's hollow inside rather than a massive solid piece. In the absence of the capabilities to fashion it locally, his next best guess would be that it was commissioned in Bellows, which stands astride the major thoroughfare leading to the Forgerun Mountains to the north. There is a large degree of cultural cross-pollination there between the Kingdom of Telmur and Hammerfall, the capital of Forgerun government and society; particularly in regards to metallurgy.
There is no subtly or subtext to the work. Whimsley either views himself as a potential mentor to the King and is trying to ingratiate himself to that effect, or he is perhaps deluded enough to imagine that he already holds such a position of influence. Either choice seems equally likely.
Overhearing the rest of the conversation, he can tell that others are more verbally honest than his faux praise he gave moments earlier. Granted, it would still work as a centerpiece in a visual sense as he said, but the message it conveys is mixed.
Looking to the others, he suggests, "Perhaps someday the King can have a commission of a painting or statue that depicts him at his prime, then this statue would become a passing reminder of how much he had.." His eyes trail up the tall creature's neck in search for his head in the sky, "..grown.. by then."
Sagishi smiles at the praise. "Thank you. Though your display was no less impressive. Remind me to never get into a drinking contest with you." At the mention of his talents he just smiles enigmatically and looks at his hands. "Yeah, I guess. I certainly had to rely on them in more than one occasion, that much is can tell you."
As the elf chimes Sagishi shrugs. "Honestly. King or no king. What's a young boy going to do with a monstrosity like that. If the mayor wanted to get into 'his Majesty's' good graces, he should have send a puppy. Or maybe a pony if he really really wanted to become the new favorite uncle."
Realizing that he'll have to spent some time with those people he adds. "I'm Sagishi by the way. Though I guess you can call me Sagi."
Fhiess, doubting that the statue is meant for the King's graces, decides not to state any outright disapproval for prying ears to hear out of courtesy more than anything, that and surely the king already has the finest steeds short of a unicorn. Abandoning the subject, he shifts the invitation and his instructional pamphlets to rest on his sachel and below his arm, and reaches out with a gloved hand and a smile, "Fhiess Lovebliss, a painter from Hogan's Exports. It's a pleasure, Sagishi, sir."
"Tch, as if a country isn't enough for the kid. A child gets to decide the fate of millions. That or blindly listen to a bunch of old men who have decided they know what's better for us than we do. Come to think of it, I can't decide what's worse."
"Instead of statues, the kid should get a lesson on economics and the value of hard work. But hey, I wouldn't want to hear that myself if I was born with a whole damn nation in my hands, I wouldn't want to hear that myself. Can't be hard on the kid for his birth circumstances."
Ludwig turns to Fheiss as introductions are going around. "I am Ludwig. Also a pleasure."
Sagishi grabs the hand in return and shakes it with great enthusiasm. "Sir? Well that is first. Like I said just Sagishi will do just fine. A painter you say?" He looks the elf up and down only now noticing the ocarina. "Oh! Are you a musician as well? It would be nice to have some music during the nights of our journey." The prospect of having a musician traveling with them seems to excite the young man quite a bit.
After releasing Sagishi's hand, Fhiess uses it to clutch the pendant instrument to his chest and shows embarrassment in his expression, "Ah, I.. this is only a good luck charm given to me. I am standing in for the bard that was supposed to attend the festivities today."
He politely bows to Ludwig, "Likewise a pleasure to meet someone as quickly famous as yourself."
The moment the tarp is released and the statue is revealed, Keranos scowls. He seriously considers making an unceremonious exit from the stage.
The conversation happening next to him persuades him to stay on board for now. He stays quiet and listens until the introductions begin. "I am Keranos," he says. "It seems that we'll be traveling together for the time being. Though I am less than happy about the prospect of being associated with such a gaudy and tone-deaf display." He nods toward the statue. "What do you think the odds are of us convincing Whimsley to abandon the whole dreadful idea?"
Ludwig shakes his head. "It's the state, gaudy and tone-deaf are among its better qualities. I'm hoping to talk sense into the heads of the beast once we're there, but I doubt the mayor will abandon his expensive waste of a statue. At this point, all we can do is hope that wasteful government contract at least went to private bronzeworkers who made a good profit of the task."
Once the child enters the conversation, Fhiess nods to him when he gives his name, then shakes his head, "I am afraid that wouldn't be possible. Forming the mold takes time and bronze is a costly material. I feel that.. improvements in the idea could be made, but the costs have already been invested and the time put into it to justify a do-over."
Fhiess' attempt to downplay his musical talent falls on deaf ears. "Nonsense. You wouldn't have been picked as a substitute if you didn't have any talent at all. Besides the only way to get better at something is practice. You know how many locks I had to pick before..."
He is interrupted by the boy, Keranos, and nods in greeting as he introduces himself. To his question he shakes his head. "I think the other two are right. I haven't been in Remdormo very long, but I think it is save to say that that mayor has quite an opinion of himself. I mean, he thought it was a good idea to commission this thing in the first place, so no, I don't see him abandoning this little project any time soon."
Your Honor. As an official delegate representative of this town, I feel that it is my duty to tell you that if this statue finds its way to Castle Telmur, I can guarantee you that Remdormo's and your own reputation will be irreparably damaged. This is a transparent ploy that the Boy King 's advisors will see through immediately, and you will be become at best an annoyance, and at worst an enemy to them. Rethink your decision.
Persuasion check:  + 5 = 25 (I know this looks cheap but I am on mobile so I used a dice rolling app on my phone and got the Nat 20. I took a screen cap that is here http://imgur.com/QK9m9oP)
((I have been playing for years on mobile w/out doing CoyoteCode or anything of the sort. As the honor system to not cook my dice roll results was extended to me, so too do I extend it to everyone else. We're all adults here, and there's no winning or losing; cheating just lessens the cheater's chance to be surprised by outcomes, which cheapens their own experience. Lord knows I've had my fill of dice guilt after some particularly clutch rolls, but I'm never going to require proof from anyone. You guys say you hit a 20, I believe you : )
Gonna let Nyx get her response in before we get too deep down another rabbit hole.))
Nyx finally decides to enter the conversation and states, "No, its not great, but there's no need to be so grouchy. I'm sure the king gets stuff like this all... well, some of the time. Anyways, the name is Nyx 'Badger' Nackle and this," suddenly a badger climbs on stage and circles Nyx, "Is Nook. Its nice to meet such an interesting group of people. I think this whole thing is gonna quite the adventure, and this boy king is in for quite the surprise."
Ludwig looks down to the gnome and takes a moment to clear his throat. "I sometimes get a little overheated when discussing matters of government excess, my apologies for contributing to the grouchy mood. You're right, I'm sure the king has enough other things going on to not get bent out of shape over a... Let's call it a statue.
On introduction, he begins to extend a hoof, but on second thought, lowers his neck in a bit of a bow. "Nice to meet you, and you. You seem to have a knack with animals there."
"Yes, we seem to have quite the motley crew here. It'll be quite the party all right!"
Fhiess uses the short break from the statue matter to acknowledge what Sagishi had said, "Well, ah.. I'm afraid I would bother everyone if I did try to practice, and I'm not sure I have a passion for it. My employer must have hoped I would be able to play a tune in a few hours and learn to be a Bard, but I prefer to make quiet paintings."
He removes the pendant ocarina from his neck and decides to stuff it between the closed flap and the satchel.
Seemingly without prompting, the mayor--who has until this point had his back to the delegates as he worked the crowd--turns to the sculpture with a contemplative expression and taps his chin with his index finger. “You know, I had thought it was a bit much.”
“Your honor?” asks Hulna.
Whimsley waves back toward the delegation. “I was just agreeing with what the fine young man said to me.”
Hulna’s tone grows unsure. “Your honor?”
“The boy, Hulna, the boy!” Whimsley sighs, pointing at Keranos. “He said that this might damage our standing with the crown, clean the cotton out of your ears! He’s of the opinion that it’s all a bit much. Don’t you think it’s a bit much? I fear it may be a bit much.”
Hulna turns toward Kearnos with an eyebrow raised in question. “Well, your honor, I don’t know what it is you think you heard…” she pauses long enough to consult the names on her slate. “Keranos of Almsville tell you, but as your chief of staff, I would remind you of the following facts.”
She counts each item off as she says them. “One, you’ve already expensed the funds necessary to fashion the mold and cast the metal, at no small expense as I might remind you. Two, to send a delegation with no gift would be a far greater slight to the throne than to send one that they found in questionable taste. Three, even if they did find offense in your offering, I would point out that the maxim that there’s no such thing as bad publicity is an absolute truism in my experience. Four, Remdormo sits at the head of the only trade route through the Pillars of the Sky to Westreach. Even if we gave the capital cause to sanction us--which this categorically does not rise to the level of--they would be unable to take significant action against us, as we are a major interface of trade. I assure you, the worst that can happen is that the Boy King’s advisors turn their nose up to it, but the King himself will either find it amusing or have forgotten about it entirely by the time he is of age. And five… I’m from Hammerfall, Harold. I think I know more than a thing or two about navigating the political landscape of Telmur, let alone Remdormo of all places.”
Whimsley smiles expansively as he puffs out his chest and tugs on the lapels of his vest. “See now, Hulna? Always my moral compass. I knew there was a reason I brought you on board my administration!”
“I serve at your leisure, your honor,” Hulna says, locking Keranos with her suspicious gaze.
With the contest to join the delegation and the reveal of the gift they would be presenting concluded, the crowd begins to dissipate. Mayor Whimsley gives each winner a firm handshake and thanks in turn—settling to give Ludwig a pat on his horned head in the absence of a hand to shake—and disappears with Hulna, who immediately launches into a verbal torrent about figures and polls and gods only know what else as they walk away.
At the base of the stairs, Barrow awaits the others, smoke puffing out of a pipe clenched between his lips. “All right, ye lot listen here. We set out t’morrow at dawn, ye best be ready and waiting t’go, or ye’ll be walkin’ t’Telmur on yer own two feet.” His eyes flicker over to Ludwig for a moment. “Or however many feet ye have. Looks like ye be walking anyway.” Turning back to everyone else, he adds, “Any questions?”
A bit later, on the way to the meeting with Barrow, he says to the others, "Impressive woman. I had Whimsley completely convinced to be rid of that statue, and she undid it all without batting an eye. Hulna of Hammerfall - I'll have to remember that name. Might be useful later."
Looking from Keranos to the mayor and then back again Sagishi scratches his head. Something seemed to have happened but he has no idea what. He eyes the boy a little bit more but he can't spot everything that seems remarkable, so he decides to let the matter rest for now. There'll be plenty of time on their journey to figure out more about his companions. He turns to the pipe smoking man and asks. "Are we to meet up here, or do you have another place in mind? And how will we be traveling anyway? Will the city provide us with horses?" The prospect of having to ride isn't especially appealing. For one reason or another horses never seem to like having Sagishi anywhere near them and over the years this feeling has become mutual.
Fhiess blinks at Keranos. It was odd that the man had a sudden change of heart, but Keranos taking credit leaves him wondering when he had failed to notice.
"Perhaps I can ask to arrange for a caravan if the city does not provide one for us," he suggests, "Our shops often work with trade companies to transport our goods and assist entertainers under contract. Surely Hogan or an assistant would be able to make a case for myself."
<This would be a good use for the 300 GP I just got, I think>
As whoever is paying out the gold begins handing the bag to Ludwig, the J'raffa says "If I may, I would prefer to be paid in 300 gold worth of chunks of adamantine or mythril." As he still is trying to get to the capital as part of the delegation, he chooses his next words carefully. "Fiat currency makes me a little apprehensive is all. As easy as it is for royal mages to duplicate more platinum, gold, silver, and bronze, I just like having something less easy to replicate with spells, something a little more inflation resistant. I can wait until the morning just before we leave if need be."
As the party later walks to the meeting with Barrow, Ludwig replies to Keranos "Yes, she certainly has a way with words. Whatever you did, she had the mayor bogged back down in the mire of geopolitics in no time. On that note, what did you do back there? Was that some kind of mind trick or something?" Ludwig looks to the boy with curiosity.
On arrival, he has no questions as he was expecting to walk in the first place.
Therell be a gatherin of folk fixin to go to Telmur in the city square tomorrow, Barrow says as he passes out the prize purses. Ye lot will be ridin with me in me wagon. Whimsleys gift is more than any one man can rightly handle, so I be in need of assistance.
When he gets to Ludwig and hears the jraffas request, a sly smile spreads across his face and he makes a come hither motion with his fingers, casting wary glances about like he is concerned with who might overhear them. When the massive quadruped lowers his long neck so that his head is level with the dwarf, Barrow cups his hand to his mouth and leans in close to Ludwigs ear...
And raps him on the noggin with the bowl of his pipe.
((1d4 bludgeoning damage: 4))
Now see here, ye whatever ye are, do I look like a money changer to ye? he asks. Eh? Does Remdormo look tbe a city awash in the mineral wealth of Old King Hector? Hm? Is this what a minin town be looking like where ye come from? If ye be wantin tbe paid in rocks like a loon, ye can try and find someone ttrade with ye when we get tthe capital. Until then, just take the bloody purse!
Barrow moves on to the next delegate to dole out the money. They dont pay me half enough fer this, he mutters.
After taking his blow to the the head, Ludwig raises his neck back up and glares at the dwarf for a second. The tension fades almost instantly and he says "You could have just said no."
Ludwig arches an eyebrow at Keranos following the display of his power. "Now that's fascinating. There's more to you than meets the eye. I won't pry any further about your powers unless you're looking to share, a right to privacy is vital, after all."
Fhiess puts the purse into his satchel until he can later find a safer means of storing the coin. Shrewdly, he boasts, "There is no currency less flat and more difficult to replicate with magic than the hand of an artist! Might I suggest future investments?"
Hearing about Keranos' power, he fails to think of what to say about it, his perplexed mind apparent in his expression.
Keranos smiles knowingly. "I've nothing to hide, but I've learned it's far more effective to show than to tell. I expect that you'll learn a great deal more about my capabilities in due time."
The business with Barrow concluded, Keranos addresses the others. "I'll meet the rest of you here first thing in the morning. I've errands to run."
Once the commotion of the festival has died down, Keranos makes his way to City Hall and seeks out a receptionist, or perhaps a secretary.
"I would like to deliver a message to Lady Hulna of Hammerfall. Mayor Whimsley's Chief of Staff, I believe."
He produces his certificate, along with the bag of three hundred gold. "Please tell her that it will be impossible for me to be associated with that garish display of a statue, and that I will not be acting as an official representative of Remdormo. As such, I cannot in good conscience accept this certificate and prize money." He lays the items carefully on the receptionist's desk. "If Lady Hulna wishes to speak with me, she is welcome to come find me while I remain in town."
His message delivered, he smiles and leaves the office.
Keranos returns to the center of town, where the crowds have thinned out considerably. He hopes that the raised stage has been vacated by city personnel. If it has, he will take the stage. If it has not, he will make do on the busiest nearby street corner.
"Good people of Remdormo," his voice booms, and it is accompanied by a loud crack of thunder in the sky, opposite the setting sun ((Cast Thaumaturgy)). "Hear the Call of Keranos! God of storms, maker of thunder, forger of lightning, champion of the free! After a thousand years and a thousand more, the Storm God has returned to the Continent of Aglea, and I say to you, He is in search of the worthy! I say to you, join him and heed His call, to stamp out the scourge of oppression and tyranny! Rise up with Keranos and aid him in his quest to stamp out Talos the Usurper! Talos the Pretender! For though Keranos is a fair god, He is vengeful and ruthless toward his enemies, and enemies of his followers!"
Ludwig let's out a hearty laugh once Fhiess interjects. "Looking to strike out on your own, eh? I can thing of a lot of worse things to spend on than startup revenue for a budding entrepreneur. Depending on how this delegation goes, we'll see how much I've got to spare." With a smirk, he adds "I'm sure your success will bring a great return on any investment."
When the group heads their separate ways, Ludwig heads off to find a barn or somewhere suitable to spend the night. Perhaps he can barter some rooftop repairs or security services for a place to stay. While on the way, he hears some of the thunder and the faint booming of a voice carrying from a distance. He's too far to hear specifics, but the sound is a little familiar. Ludwig shakes his head and laughs, continuing to walk along. "Now there's a kid with grit," he says to himself.
Back at the painting shop, Fhiess is in talks with Hogan again about what had just happened.
"Bronze statue, hey?" Hogan asks, rubbing his chin, "Not ours, that's for sure."
"It used the mayor as a focal point of the piece standing over young Dio. I personally would have presented the King as a symbol, myself."
"I hope you will. And they asked you to help transport it? Normally I would disallow it and refuse aid in transferring a competitor's work, but I didn't get where I am challenging the King himself.. I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you carry out this errand."
"I understand, sir.. Surely I won't be gone from my work for long."
"Aye, lad, but one thing to keep in mind that bronze is bronze, hollow on the inside or not. Somebody's bound to want to steal it, so I'm gonna give you a little something to help protect yourself in the event that happens."
Hogan snaps his fingers, "Kelly! Get over here! Kelly, write up an order for Fhiess Lovebliss here to have a sword picked up for him at the weapon shop, and arrange for it to be paid for on my behalf."
She curtsies, "Yes, sir. We'll have the order made right away."
Hogan grins at Fhiess once the assistant departs, "Hah! It's a good thing I decided to make you a Bard. I knew I needed more of 'em! Now keep learning your Bard things and get some sleep, your carriage will stop you by the weapon shop for your pickup before taking you to the wagon."
Fhiess bows, "Yes, sir. I'll do my best, sir!"
Later that night, Fhiess sits in a bath with his Ocarina held and the booklet by his side. This is far from as relaxing as it would normally be, but short on both time and short on seclusion from others that might hear his poor performance, this is one of the few times he can safely attempt to learn how to use the instrument.
For several minutes, he uses the ocarina to produce screeching noises and random jumbles of melodies.
The staffer at City Hall whom Keranos speaks to about resigning his commission as a delegate gives the armored youth a quizzical glance as he receives the surrendered certificate and prize purse, but otherwise seems unmoved by Keranoss display of ethical fiber. The money is simply spirited away to the city coffers, certain to be spent someday on banners and confetti.
No one interferes with Keranoss evangelizing, though at this point the square is mostly occupied by those tasked with breaking down the decorations of the day. More than a few stop and listen to his brief monologue, but seem more interested in his ability to call thunder from the sky and his stage presence than the content of his words. Indeed, he is left with a distinct impression that he is but one of a long line of prophets and assorted other agents of the godsboth those of the sprawling Oneiroi pantheon and of more mainstream religionsas no sooner does he step down than another man, barefooted and clothed in sackcloth, takes to the stage and delivers an unsolicited sermon of his own, warning of the coming of some great cosmic cuckoo bird that will eat the world before moving to the next because its hunger can never be sated.
The mad preacher is met with even less response than Keranos, perhaps due to his lack of audiovisual panache. All in all, it seems no one is in the market for a new religion today.
Ludwig searches out accommodations that would suit his singular physique, a challenge that he frequently encounters in this strange land of short creatures unused to dealing with anyone with a stature that even approaches his own. His wanderings eventually take him to the stables near the city gates; though the individual stables are far too low to the ground to accommodate him, there is a sizeable hay barn that is not too far away. The stable master is more than willing to barter a nights boarding in exchange for Ludwig to hoist some bales of hay up to the loft, as the jraffa can accomplish the task far more quickly than the bumbling stable hands can utilizing the block and tackle. Its warm, dry, and smells faintly like the Baglahm savannah.
When Fhiess returns to his quarters to retire for the night, he finds a slender box of polished mahogany sitting on his pillow. Attached to it is a note from Hogan expressing his confidence in the fledgling Bards ability to put a good face on the business of Hogans Exports, but as added insurance hes allowing Fhiess the loan (he seems oddly insistent on the point that he is going to want it back) of a token of his gratitude in the hopes that it brings good luck and fortune on this venture. Opening the box reveals a paintbrush seated in crushed velvet. It is a very old brush; its wooden handle is varnished in a patina of oil from extensive handling, but the brush head made of bound hog bristle is in remarkable condition for its age. Fhiess would instantly recognize this as a piece from Hogans Nolzur collection, one of the many multitude of brushes wielded by the elven master over the centuries of his prodigious output. Very expensive as far as paintbrushes go, but not a particularly rare item, and certainly worth nowhere near even a glimmer of what a bona fide Nolzur piece would go for.
((We'll move on to morning if Sagishi and Nyx don't have anything else going on after the ceremony.))
Fhiess gasps and clasps his mouth with his hand when he unravels the treasure handed to him. Tears welling in his eyes, he finds a relic of history, ordained by a master's touch, presented to him. Not a gift.. but a proof of trust and a test of responsibility.
Too terrified to touch the brush in fear of tarnishing its well preserved condition, the artist carefully replaces the lid and wraps the velvet ribbon around the box to keep it in place once more.
((Gonna go ahead and move forward and let Nezumi segue Sagishis scene from the previous night to the following morning.))
The following morning promises a day that is every bit as fine and enjoyable as the previous. As the horizon begins to lighten, the delegation--Nyx having already spent a portion of her winning on a fine set of studded leather armor--assembles in the city square, along with an assortment of merchants and vendors who are making the trip for their own reasons and under their own power.
Everyone has scarcely had time to arrive when an inhuman scream of inexpressible pain and agony comes from just beyond the city gates, shattering the peace of the early morning.
((I think I got a little carried away with my scene... I'll just skip it for now and see if I can fit it in another place as I have reached 2000 words and am still not done.))
When morning comes Sagashi arrives at the meeting point looking disheveled and tired. It is obvious that his preparations for the journey did not include some good night's rest and he is looking around nervously as if searching for someone and positively jumps into the air when he hears the scream.
As the hay barn proved surprisingly comfortable, Ludwig shows up fairly well rested. Since he has to walk anyway, he arrives in his armor, figuring his presence by the wagon can deter bandit attacks along the way.
Ludwig is cheery and ready to launch into idle banter with the others, but the scream changes things. "Yeah, this is what happens when you leave security to publicly funded guards." With a sigh, he starts preparing to head in the direction of the scream. "Well, there's probably dangerous stuff out there that needs to be stopped before it can go on a killing spree in here, and even if there isn't, whoever screamed needs urgent care. Can't just leave them dying. Anyone who's uneasy about the possible danger, I'll see you once it's settled and we're on the road."
With that, Ludwig starts heading to the city gate.