What follows is a transfer of what happened on a forum. Each post is preceded by its poster’s name, enclosed in [brackets].
The back room of Alloran’s is almost empty, just a table, a few chairs and some crates. Sharn’s newest team is gathered here, being briefed on their first mission by their immediate superior, Tomai ir’Fallin.
Tomai is a half-elf, somewhere around his middle years – he has that ageless face that many half-elves share. He wears simple clothing, the kind you could walk through almost any district of Sharn in and blend in with everyone else. He doesn’t appear to be armed but, in a city full of spies and magic, that doesn’t mean much.
Seated around the table beside him is the new team. None have met, or even been introduced, yet they are about to be thrust onto assignment – evidently, the Twelve believes that bonds forged in fire are stronger.
[OOC Alrighty. Let’s get this show on the road! Introductory posts, please.]
Darrin (Lastname) sits quietly in his seat. His short black hair hand over his eyes a little as it covers part of his pale face. Darrin is wearing his thin leather tunic, and is showing no sign of carrying any weapons. He leans back in his chair a little, giving the appearance of being careless. But Darrin is not that incompetent. He knows that the other’s here will all be from different houses, and many would likely slit his throat if it meant that they could better their positions.
A jet black warforged with long, flowing, black robes tied with a belt inside which are several thin, long sticks of varying lengths, from 8 inches up to 18, tipped with shards of crystal, as well as a rather large, bulging pouch. At the ’forged’s side it carries a crossbow and a pair of daggers; its left arm seems to have been extended into the shape of a shield, though its hand is not restricted. It sits perfectly still, so still it might be confused for a statue if the light of intelligence and knowledge did not shine so clearly from its crystalline eyes.
A tall, silver-metallic
Warforged leans against a crate, a mug of ale in his hand. His bright, blue eyes stare out from behind the golden frames of gnomish spectacles, his wide-brimmed hat tilted upon his head. His upper body is almost fully covered in obvious Mithril plating, while he wears simple leather pants on his legs. A number of bags and pockets line his belt, and a sling over one shoulder holds up a larger backpack. He has no obvious weapons, nor does he carry himself like a fighter. On the crate beside him lies a threaded book of paper, upon which he has obviously been drawing – at the moment, however, it’s unclear what it is of. His free hand idly draws upon it, his feather pen dipping into the ink next to the book every minute or so.
Gitto looks to be the typical warforged built for their original purpose… war.
He carries a large well crafted sword in addition to his normal physical adaptations… an overly large jaw that looks like it could shear someones arm off and his mechanical fist that looks like it could do some damage to whatever it slammed into. His armor plating is adamantine and well designed to cover the more vulnerable parts of his metallic frame.
“Greetings… I believe we were assembled here for a purpose? Well not literally assembled. What would be simpler and more accurate?”
He doesn’t wait too long for the answer… instead he switches topics abruptly. “Gitto. Gitto is my name… my weapons are at your disposal.”
Like his armaments… Gitto is a bit rough around the edges.
Gitto looks around. He wonders what he said that put everyone into a silence. He decides to reformulate his sentence.
“Our foes will feel the bite of my weapons. Not you.”
Darrin sits there as the whole of the group is silent except for the warforged Gitto. “I’m sure they will” Darrin says in a almost condesending tone, “For what purpose were we all brought together?” he says turning his attention to Tomai.
The half-elf leans back in his chair as talk returns to business. “You were brought together, as you have been told, to serve the Twelve. You will be given assignments to complete, and you will complete them, preferably in a discreet manner whenever possible.”
“I will trust that you have all familiarised yourself with our expectations of you, and will give you your first assignment. It’s a simple task, really, so I do not expect failure.”
He hands each agent a sheet of parchment with a sketch of what looks like some sort of ornament, a beetle marked as roughly two feet long, made of iron, and with a glass vial where the insect’s abdomen should be. “This object is an artefact from Xen’drik. It has somehow worked its way into the hands of a low-level criminal in the Cogs, a hobgoblin by the name of ‘Art’. We do not believe he knows the value of what he has, and has agreed to sell it to us for one hundred gold.”
“Your assignment is simple. Go to the cogs, retrieve the artefact, and give it to an agent who will be waiting in the empty store beside ir’Raley and Sons, the barrister’s office two floors up. He will be identified by a brooch, a twelve-sided star, on his left side. Upon receipt of the artefact, he will give each of you one hundred gold.”
“This is your mission. It is simple, but it is quite likely that agents of other groups, even your own Houses, will attempt to steal the artefact. Do not let them. Use lethal force if necessary, but do not implicate the Twelve, or the Houses. Cover up after yourself where the environment will not.”
“Are there any questions?”
“Sounds simple enough” Darrin says, “A bit too simple. What can you tell use about the artifact. What does it do? and this agent we are suppose to meet, with only a simple description, it seems easy that we could deliver this artifact into the hands of an imposter”
“Wouldn’t be too difficult to steal or copy a twelve sided star. So, like my new asssociate here says, it’s all to easy to get the wrong person. Anyone with the right star which has been stolen or the wrong star whcih has been faked could easily dupe us”, Séid says to his fellow half-elf.
“Other than those questions answered. This sounds straightforward. I have no questions.” he says… short and sweet.
The gleaming silver ‘forged looks up from his drawing and nods at the questions of the two flesh-and-blood creatures that were escorting the three Warforged of the newly-formed squad. "Perhaps it would be best for a code-phrase to be issued. For example, one of us would tell this dodecastarred man ’the night is cold in Breland’ and the reply might be ‘not at all like Xen’drik.’ This would establish his bonifides and allow us to proceed with our transaction without undue concern. Of course, if our true contact is tortured or has his mind invaded, who we meet might know the code phrases anyway. We must be ever vigilant." The Warforged appears to have switched from drawing to writing something down on a seperate sheet – they appear to be short, simple statements judging by the amount of time he spends writing one before moving on to the next line.
“I am pretty sure the next agent he meets will be us… as long as the first part of our mission goes off as planned.”
“Let us not worry about what might happen. I say let us get to work on securing the star first. Once we have it in our possession, then it will be time to worry about handing it over.” Gitto remarks.
He jerkily turns his head to gaze at those around him. Perhaps it is to judge your confidence in this manner. Perhaps it is to bolster his statement. Perhaps it is just to evenly spread lubricant along his neck joints… the Warforged is hard to read.
Tomai smiles, as though enjoying some private joke. “As you wish. The query will be ‘Would you know where an inquisitive could be hired?’. His answer will be ‘Three floors up and two towers across.’”
The artefact does nothing. It is of entirely decorative value. Still, regardless of what kind of value, it has value, and it has value to my superiors. Regretfully, I cannot give you more than that. It must suffice to say that you need to retrieve it, and will do so."
Gitto pauses after this information is given. He seems nonplussed at being totally wrong. Perhaps it isn’t an unusual circumstance.
He repeats the query and password so that he will remember it. “‘Would you know where an inquisitive could be hired?’.”
“Answer. ‘Three floors up and two towers across.’”
Darrin nods respectfully to Tomai, “Of course, we do as we are told and more be said then to tell us what to do”. It is obvious that Darrin is used to a life of service to others. “IF everyone is ready, we can set out on our task”
“I am ready.” Gitto responds to Darrin’s question.
Gitto is ready. His minimal gear is tightly appointed. His blade is in its sheath. His javelins are tucked away in a large quarrel holder on his back. His backpack also is stowed and snugly fitted as well.
Sil looks over at the others for a moment before finally putting away his book, pen, and the ink, all placed snugly into pouches apparently specifically for them in his belt, the book’s obviously much larger than the others. Reaching into his backpack, he pulls out a rapier, sitting solidly in its holster, which he ties onto his belt next to the pouch containing his book. Slipping the straps back over his shoulders, the sturdy-looking Warforged nods his readiness.
Séid stands, as he motions towards the exit he says,
“I’m ready, shall we”, and waits for someone to take the lead.
Gitto will lead the group to the Cogs in search of a hobgoblin by the name of ‘Art’…
Darrin follows behind Gitto. While he does not like taking a position within the group that looks like a subordinate, Darrin knows that you can often get more done by not being in the spotlight.
Sil moves forwards to walk level with his large, quiet Warforged brother. Pushing his spectacles back into their straps, Sil looks around as the group walks, making a point to nod at every man they pass and tip his hat at all of the women. He moves fluidly and begins asking about his new squad mates, trying to find out their strengths and weaknesses and their
Seid follows along with Sil, and begins introducing himself.
Switching subject Seid, now addressing the whole group says,
“I’ll apologise for myself now, call it a little leftover from the last war if you will. I’m a little highly strung and sometimes I can be a bit sharp without meaning to be”
Seid stops and clears his throat as he considers whether this is too much of an understatemet, deciding it’ll do he continues
“I’m pretty good with…………..”, but trails off as someone else starts to speak.
Walking with Sil, Darrin gives his name and house that he is with, but not much more then that. “I can handle myself in and out of battle” is about all he says of
Gitto isn’t shy. “I enjoy conversation about all sorts of things. It is one of the easiest ways to discover new things and what people care about.”
“I have been to the Mournland once. It was arranged for me to see an artificer there. That was very strange. Almost everyone there was like me. I have never been ‘the normal one’ in a group before. Of course, that actually might be true here. But usually it is not.”
“Sometimes I look at the birds and I see how things are in nature. Have you ever noticed that before. ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ they say and it is true. Given the option, birds only hang around with others like them. In fact, they are cruel and very territorial to each other. And you never see them work together. I think a lot of people are like that… really. The only time I have seen birds all mixed up and not fighting each other is along the water. Maybe the water is relaxing and calms them down. Maybe it is because they all have to share the water so they tolerate each other. Maybe it is because they realize they are all water birds and have something in common with each other. I am not sure. But at least they all get along.”
Sil looked to the others and slapped Gitto’s shoulder in comraderie. “Oh, I definitely agree – conversation is an important tool in the arsenal of any serious adventurer. I’m, personally, a purveyor of influence – with the right words or magic, any man can be influenced to do whatever you wish. On the battlefield, my strength is with deception and surprise – if I can hit someone with a spell they do not see coming, they are much more likely to fall victim to its power. I’m also an artist, you may have heard of me – I’ve been selling my collected writings, small wood sculptures I make on my travels, and other bits and pieces of art I create when the mood strikes me. In some circles, I am making quite the name for myself.” The Warforged puffs out his chest and tilts his head up, as if posing for a statue to be made in his honor.
[ticattack, having rewritten the first log]
((It’s not completely rewritten, I’ll get to the rest later. Feel free to continue chattering about your carpet.))
Leaving Alloran’s, the team hails the nearest skycoach – individuals who make their living ferrying people around Sharn’s towers on flying carpets, flying beasts and all manner of other transports. Their request for the Cogs is met with a grimace, but the man begins bringing his carpet down. Curious as to the man’s reaction, Gitto questions him. “What is wrong with the Cogs anyway?”. The captain shrugs. “Obviously, you’ve never been there. Goblins, orcs, ‘n’ worse, all ready to gut you for your gold.” Sil agrees. “The stench, the dirt, the general disarray of the entire level. ’tis not the best place to go carousing. Not to mention the cutthroats, thieves, and brigands that the watch has decided deserve the area as their own.”
Gitto ponders this for a moment. “Huh… We are going to stick out a bit are we not?” The captain shrugs again. “Enough people around. Warforged, too.” He seems to realise what he just implied, and straightens up a bit. “Not that, y’know…” He trails off weakly. Darrin gives a little chuckle at the man’s words and discomfort, but Gitto looks at him. “Know what?.. I do not know.” The captain, clearly uncomfortable, coughs nervously. “There’s enough people down that there that you won’t be the only ones down there. Still, if you’re not there for anything important, I’d suggest you go back.” Darrin shakes his head. “We have need. Just get us down there.” The man is irritated at the questioning. Others might see it at small talk and being helpful. But Darrin knows all to well how Small Talk can be used to gather important information.
The trip isn’t that long – traffic is easy to avoid when you can fly over or under it – and soon, the team is tossing the man his six copper and letting him get on his way. The Cogs is a district located in the lowest depths of Sharn, at least if you don’t count the UnderSharn. The bases of towers rise like mammoth stone trees, blocking out most of the sun, and the air is thick with soot and sweat. Here is where most goblinoids and members of the ‘monstrous’ races dwell in Sharn, living in ghettos and slums. It is also home to the impoverished veterans of the Last War who had nowhere else to go – all in all, it is not a pleasant area. Arriving in the Cogs, Darrin has not taken more than a few steps. The stench hits his nose. “Lets make this fast.” he says as they make their way to the meeting place.
The team makes their way through the filth and dimly lit streets. The ferryman was right, they’re far from the only non-goblins about, but they are in the definite minority. As they walk, the pass dozens of goblinoids of various types, and even a pair of minotaurs, their hulking frames towering over all of them. Sil walks over to the minotaurs, looking closely at their physiques through his spectacles. “Quite interesting variety of specimens here. The factories must be quite interested in utilizing your most massive of muscles, my minotaur friends!” The minotaur glares at Sil, snorting in what seems like derision, but says nothing. Darrin can barely believe what his teammate is doing. “Ahem” he says looking in Sil direction. “We do have business we need to attend to.” Sil looks back over to Darrin and his shoulders slump forwards. “Very well. I’ll leave the beasts of burden alone while we carry out our mighty quest.”
Art’s shop is announced by a stained sign that proclaims ’Art’s Antiques and Pawn Shop’. It’s not an unfair assumption that few of the things for sale were pawned by their original owners. As the team enters, a little bell tinkles, and a hobgoblin who is likely to be Art himself scurries over to meet them. Darrin greets him with “Art I presume.” The hobgoblin nods. “Friends! Welcome, welcome to Art’s Antiques and Pawn Shop. Yes, I am Art, and it is a pleasure to serve you.” Sil steps forwards to meet the goblin, pushing in front of Darrin even as he speaks. Holding out a hand towards the hob, Sil greets the man-thing. “And it is a pleasure to be served!” Darrin resists the urge to give Sil a dirty look. No, he knows it is important to keep calm and provide a united front while in the presence of Art.
The hobgoblin smiles, his teeth seem to have been artificially whitened, their colour contrasting with the dust and grime in the shop. “Wonderful! What can I interest you in today? Are you buying? Selling? Both?” Sil answers. “We’re looking for artefacts from Xen’drik – I am the collector for a small establishment in Wroann’s Gate which is trying to revamp its theme to embrace our southern continent’s mystique and mystery.” Darrin stands behind Sil, letting him do the talking for now.
Art shifts his weight from one foot the other, then back again. “I see, I see… Well, friends, I have wonderful, but terrible news for you. I did receive such an item, very rare, just recently. Sadly… it was promised to another party. However…” he shifts his weight again. “Perhaps I could… misplace it?” Gitto answers, cutting the deception short. “Who was promised this item? Certainly that must be us.” Darrin nods in agreement. Art freezes, staring at Gitto with the expression of a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “… Oh? You are…?” Darrin moves alongside Sil, “We are here for the beetle… You have it for us, no?” Art ‘s lip twitches a little, but recovers. “Of course, of course. Friends, you understand I would not renege on our agreement, of course. We will leave to reclaim the beetle at once.” Darrin raises an eyebrow, “It is not here?”[/b] The hobgoblin shakes his head. “No. It is in a safe place, not far from here, hidden from would-be thieves.” He opens his shop’s door and gestures through it. “After you.”
Darrin continues to give a odd look, “You would put this much protection for a simple Iron Beetle valued at under one hundred gold?” The hobgoblin replies in an incredulous tone. “One hundred gold? Yes. Many would kill their own mothers for half that. Now, I, of course, have scruples. But down here… many do not. It is sad, but true.” Darrin nods, “Very well… Lead the way” he says. Sil nods. “Oh, most definitely. If I were to tell you the number of times someone asked me to do just that, assuming just because I’m a Warforged I’m a barbarian, it would take hours upon hours, days upon days. Quite sad, really.” Gitto interrupts. “Yes… let’s get on with business.”
Art nods, and follows the team out the door, locking it behind him. “Of course. I should warn you, though, that there may be… trouble. Others sought this item, many were very eager to get it. Now, I have agreed to sell it to you, but I suppose some might not take the decision too well.” Sil nods. Axis speaks up. “What are you trying to imply, Art? Has the price…increased?” The hobgoblin seems aghast. “No, nononono. Of course not. I would not be so dishonest as to change the price this far through negotiations. Nonono, I am simply warning that there maybe… impediments to our business, that you would have to overcome.”
Darrin responds. “Do not worry about our safety. Just worry about you giving us the beetle.” Sil smiles at their guide. “Well, not give of course – we’ll pay, obviously.”
The hobgoblin leads the team through the streets, their path twisting and turning for at least ten minutes. Finally, they arrive at the base of a small tower, the top just within view from the ground. Art leads the team into the tower, into a is a dingy tavern. Inside the place is a flight of stairs which lead up to the next level, where another flight of stairs leads up, and so on, until they are on the eighth floor. Here, the hobgoblin stops. “I am afraid I will have to ask to see the gold before we continue. Not that I wish to imply you are dishonest, but… well, as I said, it is a dishonest place, these Cogs.” Darrin nods as he pulls a pouch from his belt… “It is here” he says as he opens the pouch to shows several platinum pieces inside. “Your hundred gold’s worth” he says. The goblinoid reaches out and takes a single coin. Darrin pulls the sack closed. “You’ll get the rest after we have the beetle.” The hobgoblin studies the coin carefully, turning it over before smiling. “Wonderful, wonderful. This way.” Here, he pushes open a door, leading them into a hallway with eight more doors. He opens one of those with a chunky iron key, revealing a small room, more like a wardrobe or cupboard. Inside, is the beetle.
“Now,” he says, “I could carry it, but perhaps you would wish you carry it yourselves? I hear that the warforged cannot tire through labour.” Sil speaks. “Gitto, you are our most stalwart companion. If you would?”[/b] Sil motions towards the beetle. The other warforged consents. “For now, I guess.”
As he retrieves the beetle, Axis reaches inside his cloak, drawing out a glittering crystalline razor wheel. Art’s eyes widen as he sees the blade. “Friends, friends, surely there is no need for violence?” Sil looks over towards Axis, frowning. “Put away your blade.” Darrin brushes Sil’s comments aside. “He is just ensuring our safe passage out of the Cogs.” “Making Art more uncomfortable is not worth it.” Sil argues. “We can easily draw our weapons if we are under attack, but if we upset a valuable merchant we may never shop here again.” Axis interrupts the bickering. “This is for our own protection, Art. You would not deny us that… would you?” “No, no,” the hobgoblin says “of course not. In fact,” here he takes the pouch of coins from Darrin, tucking it under his arm. “It would be greatly appreciated if you would escort me back to my shop. As I said, dishonest thieves abound here, and I am now a tempting target.” here he taps the pouch, which clinks softly. “Certainly you are safe to walk the Cog’s alone, you do work down here, no?” Darrin scoffs. “Now that we have the beetle, is best we not parade it around” “No one is safe down here.” Art replies. “We are going back that way anyway are we not?” Gitto asks. “So it does not really matter. Let us walk.” “We will walk with you for as long as it is on our way back to the ferryman.” Darrin relents. Sil nods. “We will escort you back. Stay in the center where we can protect you the best – Axis, would you be our rear guard?” Darrin looks at Sil, leaning over to him, “Our mission is this beetle, not this shop keeper.” he whispers. “We should keep him available for future use – he may be an asset in the future.” Sil murmurs back. “Do not burn your bridges.” “And do not hang yourself to save a bridge over a creek.” Darrin quips back. “But I will follow your lead, this time.” Art nods. “Thankyou, friends. Let us be gone.”
Art moves to the middle of the team, offering directions when necessary. As they round the bend between two towers, a crossbow bolt whistles through the air, coming from above, hitting Gitto in the arm.
Reacting on instinct, Sil yells towards Art as he looks for where the bolt came from. “Get down!” The hobgoblin follows the advice, ducing down and pushing himself away from the direction the bolt came from.
“We are under attack.” Gitto says, apparently unaware that he’s stating the blatantly obvious. As the team looks about, trying to spot their assailant, Darrin catches a glimpse of a man on a balcony two floors up. He’s kneeling down, reloading a crossbow.
“Come on, Gitto says “Let us find some cover.” As they move beneath the balcony, Gitto puts the beetle down and takes out his bow, nocking an arrow and trying to get a shot at his target. “You have the beetle.” Darrin hisses at the warforged. "Let’s all get under the balcony. Sil looks up to see if he can get a look at the bad guy, and catches a glimpse of something. Focusing, he begins a quiet incantation before throwing his hand out towards the movement. There is a thud from above as something slumps to the balcony.
There is a pause as the team waits to see if any more threats reveal themself. "Alright, Darrin says. “Let’s keep moving.” He begins walking, but Axis stops him. “You don’t think we should find out who that was?” “Of course we should.” Sil agrees “You mean go up in this tower?” Gitto asks. “I’d assume that’s how we’d do it, yes.” Sil replies. “Unless you’d rather climb the wall?” “Sounds like too much work and a lot of risk” Gitto replies as he lifts the beetle again. “I would rather get out of here.” Darrin’s irritation at Sil’s constant sidetreks, away from the mission, is growing. “We need to keep moving. We could have been at the meeting point already.” "Don’t be a coward Sil says. “We need to find out who tried to attack us. It may be important.” Darrin glares at Sil. “Seems this fool does not know the price of failure.” he thinks to himself. “It is not a matter of cowardice. The important things is returning with the beetle, not this merchant or that man” he says pointing to the balcony." Art pushes himself to his feet, moving back to the middle of the group. “Does it matter? They are defeated. We should keep moving.” “Most of us say no,” Gitto tells Sil. “If you go, you go alone.” “Fine.” Sil relents. “The spell will be running out soon – we should leave. Though I don’t know why you’re in such a hurry – it’s hardly like we’re on a time limit.” “Because,” Darrin replies, his patience wearing away “I do not like having this object with us. If it is lost, the failure is ours. I can tell that where you are from, failure is tolerated. For me it never has been.” It is Gitto who breaks the argument. “There could be more of them.” “There probably are.” Darrin agrees. “So we need to keep moving, get to the meeting point soon.” [b]“We should probably try and lose any people following us before we go to the meeting.” Sil comments. “I agree.” Darrin says. “But best to leave this area. Go someplace less violent, more secure.” “A good idea.” Sil agrees.
They begin making their way back toward’s Art’s shop. “Does anyone want a crossbow bolt?” Gitto asks as he pulls the mangled projectile from his body. “It’s in mostly decent condition.” “I could use it in a sculpture!” Sil exclaims. “A Bolt from Heaven makes a good title, don’t you think?” “Perhaps.” Gitto says noncommittally. Darrin shakes his head at his teammates. “I say we head to the nearest skycoach.” he says looking towards Art, "You are free to join us in leaving this area if you feel your safety warrants it. “Hmm.” the hobgoblin muses. “A tempting offer, but I will return to my store, for now.” Gitto gives the hobgoblin a small nod of farewell. “Travel well.” “May you be safe.” Darrin says. “And you as well, friends.” the merchant says, giving them a half-bow. “Please, return when next you need my wares.”
Once the hobgoblin is out of earshot, Darrin raises a suspicion. “I wonder if he has something to do with that bolt…” Sil responds, the previous bickering threatens to flare up again. “And we shall never know, because you declined to investigate when it was prudent.” “Doesn’t matter now.” Gitto says, shutting the argument down again.
It is not long before they find themselves in an open-air marketplace, where two skycoaches – a large flying carpet and what appears to be a floating rowboat with room for passengers – await, their captains sitting patiently. “The rowboat?” Gitto suggests “Just in case we crash in the water?” “Either will work.” Darrin says. "The rowboat is fine. They approach the rowboat, currently hovering a foot and a half off the ground. The captain helps the team aboard, raising a brow at the incredibly ugly ornament they carry. He gets their destination, then lifts off, the boat moving at a pace roughly as fast as a walking human.
They’ve been flying not a few minutes when Sil notices something, his gaze alerting the others. A black-clothed man is climbing up the tower, moving as though he were crawling over flat ground, easily keeping up with the boat. He keeps up with their ascent, about fifty feet away, and continually glances at the rowboat, obviously following the team. “Seems our followers have shown themselves.” Darrin says. “Should I remove him?” “You may” Sil nods. “If you somehow fail, I will attend to him as well.” Darrin nods to Sil as his hands start to glow with the flickers of black and dark purple. suddenly, he thrusts his hand towards the man climbing alongside them, launching the ball of energy at him. It sails through the air, hitting him in the leg. The man cries out, but remains on the wall. Apparently, he is using magic to climb, because he returns fire, swinging out, holding onto the tower wall with one hand as he thrusts the other out, unleashing a blast of silvery white fire from his palm. The fireball sails over the rowboat, a good foot over the pilot’s head. He swears, and begins swinging the oars about, turning to flee.
Axis is staring intently at the man on the wall, his left hand stroking his chin, but nothing appears to happen – either his magic is very subtle, or it failed. Gitto’s bow is nocked and aimed, sending an arrow throw the air, only to have the wind snatch it, snapping it in half against the tower wall. Seeing his companions fail, Sil begins reciting the same incantations he used earlier, throwing his hand out towards their would-be assassin. The man pauses for a minute as the spell hits him, but he remains conscious – and climbing. “I think I know what they mean now” Gitto muses “About the Cogs.”
The rowboat’s captain has turned his vessel around, and is rowing furiously to get away from the firefight. Their assailant is not so easily thwarted, though, kicking off from the tower and sailing a good twenty feet onto another skycoach, a flying carpet. In the same fluid motion as landing, he kicks the surprised captain in the chest, sending him flying off his own coach, plummeting screaming to the ground forty stories below.
Darrin’s frustration is building. He is irritated that his shot missed, no one else does much better and now the driver is pulling away, Darrin gets even more frustrated. His frustration starts to show in his magical aura around his hands. The aura is now flickering violently versus the calm glow it had before As the man jumps to a flying carpet, Darrin lets another blast go, crackling through the air and hitting its target square in the chest, sending him flying off the carpet. He makes a noise as the blow hits, but seems to be unconscious as he falls, dangling limp as gravity pulls him towards a messy demise.
The carpet hovers in midair, standing completely stationary without direction. Sil looks to the carpet, then to the rowboat captain. “Captain, please bring us closer to the carpet, if you could?” The captain’s mouth opens and closes a few times, then apparently decides against arguing with the armed men, and sides up alongside the carpet. Sil reaches over for the carpet and grabs it, rolling it up and placing it on the floor of the boat. “We will attempt to find who now owns this carpet once we land – it is a danger just laying out in the open, I believe.” Darrin turns to the captain. “Do not worry, we are not bandits and you are not in danger from us. That man had followed us, and we believe him to be part of an attack on us earlier. but you are safe.” The captain just nods, not making eye contact. “Ok then. To Dava Gate, then?” Sil nods. “That would be our destination, yes.” The captain nods, and moves the boat again.
The barrister’s office that marks where they’re supposed to meet their contact is easy enough to find. Standing inside the empty shop next door, as promised, is a man with a brooch of a twelve-sided star. Darrin approaches the man. “Would you know where an inquisitive could be hired?” The man nods. “Three floors up and two towers across.” With this he looks to the beetle, crouching down to examine it. Apparently satisfied that it is not a replica or fake, he stands up and produces five small sacks, handing them to each team member with the gentle clink of coins. "Your payment, he says. “Nine platinum pieces and ten gold each.” Darrin gives a sigh of relief. “Here is your beetle.” Sil smiles as he takes his payment “Excellent.” he says “We wish you well.” He then heads for the door. The man holds up a hand. “Wait.” he calls out. Darrin gives the man a glance. “Yes?” he asks. The man motions towards the beetle. “You can take this as well. Your superiors thank you for your service.”
There is a moment of silence as the words sink in. Sil is the first to break it. “This is… unexpected.” he says quietly. “Very…” Darrins agrees. Axis shrugs and tries to heft the beetle, but Gitto wants answers. “What would we do with it? And was this whole thing just a big test?” Their contact shrugs. “Your mission was one of distraction. We suspected that there would be attempts to steal the artifact, so a fake was given to a low-level criminal. While you drew attention, the real artifact was moved by another team.” There is another moment of silence before Gitto speaks. “Oh.” Darrin chuckles. This type of behavior is somethign that he is used to. Sil laughs out loud. “That sounds like our superiors.” The other agent speaks again. “Now, that being said, though it would not have been a major blow if it had been stolen, you kept it. This will be noted.”
Axis is less than impressed. “So…this thing is an entirely useless block of iron. Wonderful. Let’s sell it. I’m guessing it’s about 30 pounds, so…maybe 3 gold. That’ll pay our room and board for a while.” Darrin apparently agrees with the sentiment. “All we need to do is find where we can sell a copy of the artifact.” "I wonder how much this replica is actually worth? Sil muses. “Or how it would look on my wall!” Business being done, their contact breaks his professional demeanour with a smile. “I’ll wish you a good day. I hope you get a good price for that thing.” he gives it another look. “I’d suggest finding a blind man.” Sil laughs. “Probably a good choice. Of course, I could just put it up with my other work when I have my next gallery showing.” The man gives another smile and heads out the door.
After he is gone, Darrin turns to Sil. “Best we work on our in mission behaviour. We cannot aford to bicker while on a mission. Failure is not an option.”
Luckily, failure did not happen here. The team’s first mission was a success.
Sil nods, but crosses his chest with his arms in an accusing manner as he faces Darrin. “Bickering is detrimental – but so is passing up opportunities for excellence. What if the ambush against us was more about us being Agents of the Twelve and had nothing to do with the beetle except marking us as targets? By interrogating the assassin, we could have learned why they were attacking us and who his accomplices were – in this case we would have been able to find out about the second assassin and thus been better prepared. We were lucky that ignoring such avenues did not detrimentally impact our mission. Moving too fast is much more dangerous than moving too slow, in my experience, Darrin – we should be more cautious in the future, and your seeming wish for utter expedience over the minute matter of our security could have resulted in disaster for our mission.”
listens in silence, as he gives Sil the respect to make is argument. “You make valid points” he says, “But I must disagree on some. By not focusing on our mission, and escorting the hobgoblin, we gave the would be assassins more time to stage their attacks. Had we left right away, all of the fighting could have been avoided. Our mission was put in jeopardy while we attended to things such as providing a body guard to a merchant. There are times when you want to interrogate, and times when you want to finish the mission. This mission was akin to a relay race, and was in our best interest to pass off our baton as fast as possible. Other missions will require a slow, more cautious pace and of course, interrogation of would be assassins. You need to evaluate the goals of your mission, and take the correct actions to meet those goal with the highest probability of success.”
“I agree with your argument, but not your estimation on what constitutes increasing our probability of success. Escorting the merchant wasn’t a particularly oderous task – it was already
on our way out. And this was not anything like a relay race – we needed to make sure we weren’t being followed, which we were, but you ignored that possibility in favor of rushing to our destination. What if we had gotten to our contact, delivered the package, and then said contact was himself targetted or, even worse, determined to be an agent of the twelve? You need to be more alert for the dangers of espionage work – it is obvious you and some unnamed others here are novices at it else you’d be less inclined to call any mission a ‘race’.”
Darrin scoffs at the concept that he is a novice, thinking about the life he lived before he came here. “Thing may be done.. differently where I am from.” he says. "Our responsibility was to deliver the beetle, After that was not our mission, or responsibility. The safety of the beetle was now in the hands of the man to whom it was our mission to give it to. Every moment that we carried the beetle around we increased the chance of attack from would be assassins or from the petty thieves that live down there. " Pausing to give a arrogant glare to Sil, Darrin says “Maybe it is your own lack of experience that does not allow you to see a race when it is in front of you”
Smirking for a bit, Darrin shakes his head as he takes a deep breath. “Either way, we have to find a balance. A way to work together. It seems we are both strong willed individuals that are set in our ways. It seems that we might not be able to agree even on the color of the sky, but we must learn to get along, else our missions will fail.” he says as he takes the time to suck up his irritation with Sil and focus on how the team needs to work well together to ensure that it does not fail. “shall I suggest that we all” he says as he looks around at everyone, “take turns being the lead on missions.”
“That is a ridiculous notion, one that will cause more conflict as people second-guess each other’s decisions, and policies are put into place one after another, ones which conflict and cause ever greater splits in our little…team. We should simply decide upon one leader and follow that one person unless all others are unanimous in support of a single other person. The decision of the first leader should be done by…consensus.
Regardless, as I’m sure we all want to know exactly what this rug can do, I will take it to someone who has the ability to…ascertain the truth. However, this will require a small sum of gold and a great deal of time; it very much dislikes being found, and tracking it to its latest hiding spot will be difficult, to say the least. Needless to say, I must go alone, though I will require five gold pieces from each of you…or from the group’s fund, if we can at least agree on that."
“I agree a single leader is best, but might cause dissent in some if forced to always follow a plan of action they do not agree with. But sacrifices are already being made. Seems we need the others input on if they would rather have a single leader, or alternate. As for the group fund, the Twelve already place 10% into a fund for us” Darrin says. “Are you suggesting that we add more to this fund?”
“Yes, I am suggesting exactly that. We currently have fifty gold, not enough even to hire a wizard to find out what this carpet can do, much less purchase any potions or other services we decide we might desire.”
“well, I am not a fan of handing my money back to the Twelve, where we must ask permission to spend it” Darrin says, "So this fund is best kept between us so we can do with it as we see fit. But who would hold it? I’m am sure you trust me no more then I you. So it seems that puts us in a situation. However, I do agree, that it is best we keep a portion of our gold aside to aid in our missions. "
Gitto has been quiet until now. After hearing them discuss this issue and that… he decides he might as well add his opinions.
“Interrogating the assassin was a high risk with most likely no reward. Without suitable magic… breaking him would have taken a long time it he would have broken at all. And you are assuming that you would have asked the right questions. And you are assuming that he could not have lied to you and you would have known the difference. And while that all would have occured… what would have kept his allies from gathering reinforcements. What would have kept an completely unrelated gang of thugs from Cog from trying to take advantage of us. Your reasoning relied on a lot of optimism.” he says in a tone that doesn’t offer much room for anything to change his mind.
Moving on to the next topic “The rug flies. What is so difficult to understand about that.”
“I would suggest we figure out who has leadership qualities before we select a leader. Having a rotating leader sounds foolish. If we find someone who is a good leader… why would we take them out of that role to be filled by someone less apt? A good leader will lean on those who have expertise they themselves do not. So rotating should not be necessary if the right person is in charge.”
and finally “Whatever funds are pooled, if any, could be held safely by me. I have little need for money for entertainment, food or even upkeep. It would be highly unlikely to go ‘missing’ unless it is taken from my by stealth or force.”
Darrin listens to Gitto as he speaks, “You are correct, a good leader need not perform the best, but be able to know who will in what situations. I’ve already said that one leader is the idea choice. If put in the position to choose, I think I’d choose you Gitto. You may not be the most likely of choices, but you’ve proven to be more wise then some” he says with a glance at Sil, “And we all seem to respond the few time you choose to talk.”
“Well I never considered myself for the position. I would have to think about it.”
“Let us see what others say.” he says… looking to the others to express their opinion.
Seid has been quiet both throughout the mission and during the discussion of tactics. His training during the war has taught him one thing, and he finds it odd the ’forged see things differently.
He first thinks to skip the issue and move straight to that of the leader, but finally decides he must give his view. The military mindset instilled by his training is simply inescapable, he explains, “During the war I was trained, specially trained. The most important thing, after stay alive, was follow orders. We are not working for ourselves but for an organization. An organization that makes decisions and gives us our orders. We must follow those orders or all is lost. Our orders were to deliver the artifact, being nice to the petty criminal merchant was not an order. Keeping him sweet for future use by the organization was not an order. Whether it was or was not going out of our way to escort him was not an issue. His presence was not in our orders and could jeopardize the mission. We must always follow orders in the most direct and efficient manner, it is the only way”
He can now move on and consider leadership. The chance taken to allow the Hob to come along risked the mission. The mission objective is all important. Team leaders of the group must be respected by all. Leaders may sometimes need to be a diplomat within the group. Was this what I witnessed. Maybe. Probably?. I shall wait. See if anyone is unwilling to follow Gitto. Then I shall decide. We did take a risk, an risk unnecessary risk. We did on the other hand succeed.
Sil shakes his head as the others talk, staying out of the conversation and frowning. It was obvious that these others were trained quite differently from himself. Finally, after Seid finished speaking Sil broke in. “Following orders is what I was advocating we do. I have magic that would have allowed us to facilitate an interrogation, so performing said interrogation would not have caused undo hardship. Rushing headlong into situations we know nothing about is the worst method of following orders I have ever heard. It is obvious none of you have been involved in espionage before. We are not a military organization to blindly follow our orders. Improvisation is essential, as is intelligence on our enemy. I will take no part in following orders in the ‘most direct manner possible’. In the world of spies and assassins, that way only leads
death.” Turning to Axis, Sil shakes his head and keeps the carpet over his shoulders, refusing to hand it over. “And I will not entrust a man I know nothing of to travel alone with our most expensive posession. You are much too secretive to be trusted, as are most of you. I will not relinquish the carpet into your hands. I know nothing of you other than your name. I would not put my worst sculpture in your hands, much less what may be a highly expensive magical item.” Sil stopped speaking and looked to the others, watching their reactions.
shakes his head, “Our mission was not to gather information on the would be attackers, it was to deliver the beetle. But that is besides the point now, would you follow Gitto?” he says to Sil.
Sil shakes his head. “I will not follow anyone I have known for less than an hour. That said, I will listen to his advice, but I refuse to follow orders blindly like some automaton. Especially so due to the utter lack of forward thinking everyone else on this so-called team is showing.”
“When our lives are on the line, there might not be time for discussion, choices must be made fast” Darrin says as he pulls out his coin purse. “But we will deal with that later. I am on my own time now, so I am going to go spend that in a more.. pleasurable fashion.” Pulling out 5 gold pieces Darrin hands them over to Axis. “We know it flies, but we need to know the words to activate it and what other powers it might posses.” he says towards Gitto as Axis takes the coins. “Axis would not attempt to cheat us so soon, not while he has to continue to work with us. You know how accidents happen” he says with a wink and a sly smile to Axis. “I will see you all later” Darrin says as he walks off.
Seid is worried now by this failure to agree on a leader.
“We need a leader, I shall tell you a story I was told in training of how several lives were saved by the leaders orders being followed. It was important training for anyone from my unit. We had a different officer in charge on every mission. Respect needed to be automatic, not earned.”
Being slightly uncomfortable by the apparent discord amongst the team he decides to leave his story for another time and says,
“I’ll save my example for another time. It has just been pointed out we are now on our own time. I’ll not keep anyone here whilst they hear my tale. Suffice for now is to say that the tale shows how a number of lives were saved by following orders immeditely, directly and unquestioningly.”
human sits in a chair, looking at Sil fixedly. “So you’re just going to sit there and watch the carpet until we get another order? I’m aware that warforged don’t sleep, but, because of your own thoughts, we can’t leave you alone with the carpet either…Which means we need to rotate people to watch you watch other members of your party? Stop me when you’ve figured out how ridiculous this is. I like your perspective on other matters, but this is quite…problematic.”
Sil stares blankly at Axis as he questions the Warforged. “The natural solution would be to simply pair off. I see no reason why I can not accompany you to this creature who can identify the carpet’s magical properties unless you are planning on stealing or selling the carpet yourself. There should be no other reason for you to hurry off alone. I can easily do my work anywhere, and I have no other needs at this moment.”
Turning to Seid, Sil shakes his head. “Respect of ones superiors should be automatic – however, none of you are my superior. Our ranks, insofar as we have any, are all equal. And remember, we are not a military force. In the military, a squad all following one person’s orders is the natural order of things due to simplification of the command structure. Rigid comformality is highly desireable in a military. In espionage, however, flexibility is much more important. We should not be beholden to a single leader. I would recommend that, if the need is urgent, you simply communicate it as such, for example by yelling ‘now’ when giving a command. In non-urgent situations I see no need for a single leader.”
Seid mulls over what Sil has said before responding.
“I can see that we aren’t a military force, but we are supposed to be a team. You propose a team without a captain. A team whose members will likely be in situations which are dangerous. If the team cannot decide on a course of action quickly in a dangerous position do we die whilst the issue is debated. It surely is mistaken to be leaderless. You propose shouting out “now” but that doesn’t deal with conflicting shouts of “now. Look at the current situation with the carpet, you can’t even agree who should hold the thing. Does that suggest that, when under threat, agreement can be reached by shouting?”
As Gitto watches this exchange… he comes to the conclusion that he doesn’t want to be ‘leader’ of these bickering and headstrong individuals.
“Then we can act seperately. The team can split apart and go their own ways, so long as it accomplishes the mission. I will not follow a single leader blindly. None of us have known the others for longer than a single hour. We can not make an informed decision as to who should be leader – this is my main issue with following any of you. If we had been appointed a leader or given any other information about the others in the team, I would be less hesitant – as it stands, however, I trust none of you, and you should not trust each other. A leader in a military organization has the organization vouching for the leader’s quality – here we do not have anything like that. I suggest we go leaderless only as long as we can not agree on a single leader – once we know each other well enough, choosing a leader may be feasible. As is, it is not.”
Séid is feeling a little wrong footed. He’s acutely aware of his highly strung nature yet is determined to keep a lid on it with his new colleagues. He begins pacing in a slightly jerky manner.
“Okay, no leader for now. Trouble in the making I think but we’ll never move on otherwise”
“Well. Let us see how that works in the days ahead. Perhaps someone will provide the leadership that all find acceptable.” Gitto says.