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         Copyright © Randy Bowers. All rights reserved.


Adventures of Chance: Part I - "The Meeting" (IRC)

DM: Where in Tel-Akbar do you wanna say you are?

Chance: I've been staying in the Bards College cause I'm learning from Wendell. After lessons are done for the day--say around 2ish--I go back to my room.

DM: So... what's Chance's room look like? Its probably small...

Chance: I've got a small desk for writing down story ideas and filling out my journal. A small chest with my clothes in it and a rack where I keep my armor. A small room for a human is a cozy room for a halfling.

DM: And a cot.... next to a tall and narrow window that looks out from the fifth story where your room is, looking out over the rear courtyard and gardens of the Bard's College.

Chance: I get dressed in my good clothes and done a yellow satin cape. Over that, I throw my winter cloak to go out into the cold.

DM: You hear the 2 O'clock chimes toll and not long afterward the sound of voices from the chancellery rising in song.

Chance: As I was saying, I take a moment to enjoy the sound of the chancellery since I'm in no hurry to go kill demons, necromancers, ghosts, wizards, zombies, pixies, vampires or werebeasts. Ah, vacation. Okay, I leave the Bards College and travel to the gates of the High Quarter.

DM: Your travel through the cold winter streets is lonely and uneventful.

at the High quarter your arrival is met with alert and slightly hostile gazes from the gate guards there.

Chance: "What's the trouble here, sirs?"

DM: The gates themselves are closed, as you had approached you observed them only opening the gates for visitors and then closing them behind.

Chance: I tell them that I have a message to be sent to the Reef Place. I've been invited to entertain there.

DM: A decorated guard turns his gaze toward you, his foot rests upon his helm. Guard, "Couriers have been expelled from the High Quarter until further notice." A bitter wind hips along the gilded high quarter walls and tosses the guards loose hair about. He flaps his gloved hands at it in irritation.

Chance: "I've been invited by the owners of the Reef Place to entertain. Might there be an off-duty guard that could take a message to the establishment on my behalf? I'll compensate him or her for the time spent out of their day."

DM: Guard, "No, I am afraid that is not possible at the moment."

Chance: "What has happened? I'm Chance Paedragn. I may be of help." I show him my certificate from bringing in the demads.

DM: "My apologies, warrior, for I had thought you a child. Nevertheless, I am not at leave to speak on what has happened."

Chance: "When might I be allowed entrance?"

DM: Guard "That, sir, I am not aware of."

Chance: "How might I get a message to the Reef Place, sir?"

DM: Guard, "As far as I am aware, sir, there is no manner for you to deliver such a message at the moment without the company of a high citizen and an attachment of guards.

Chance: "Could you do it when you get off your duty, sir?"

DM: Guard, "I am not sure when that may be, sir. It may be quite late tonight that I am relieved. However, if you would like I will see what I can do."

Chance: "Yes, I will leave a message here with you," I take out a quill and parchment, pen a note and seal it with wax and sigil. (dagger and quill crossed) "I'll return then to the Bards College. If there is anything that I can do, I am at your disposal. I'll call again on the morrow to see if I can find entrance then."

DM: The guard accepts your note. "To whom shall I take it?"

Chance: "Take it to the Reef Place, please?" (I give him a gold piece to ensure its eventual delivery)

DM: He nods.

Chance: (The note says that I have retired to my quarters at the Bard's College and that I'm at their relative disposal)

Chance: Then, I go to a nearby tavern and see if I can listen in on any gossip.

DM: You come across the Rat and Fox, a tavern where can be found the occasional noble fraternizing with the common folk. The pub rests not far down the main strip - Olive Way - from the gates you just left. Within, you hear the sounds of growing revelry and plenty of words being spoken. The dark of winter evening is soon approaching, driving customers into the bars earlier than on warmer days.

Chance: I order a mulled wine and find a table to listen for an hour or so.

DM: It doesn't take long for your wine to reach your table, or for news to reach your ears.

Chance: What's happened?

DM: The rumor is that the Capitol Family, whose estate rests within the High Quarter, was found brutally murdered.... There seems to be plenty of speculation as to the whys and hows. And several conflicting descriptions of the gruesome scene which was found this late morning. Some say that each was torn limb from limb.... others say that they were all found in the parlor lain side by side with their severed heads resting upon their bellies.... Its all enough to make you loose your appetite. There also seems to be several rumors of talk that there was some involvement of the city watch on the event. Or perhaps that they were paid off to look the other way, or perhaps something worse...

Chance: Why were the pages expelled?

DM: The city is trying to keep the events quiet, so access to the High Quarter has been restricted to prevent the word of what happened from spreading too fast...

Chance: Oh, that's obviously happening. I find the innkeeper and introduce myself. (Any recognition to the name?)

DM: You watch him carefully, but are under the impression that he has heard of a great deal of people and just doesn't pick your name out of the jumble.

DM: Barkeep, "Name's Salrod."

DM: Salrod, "Whatcha be wantin, eh?"

Chance: Oh, just seems the mood's grim and I thought that I spin a tale to entertain and make a living.

DM: He points over to a small raised corner of the room where you can imagine other minstrels have plied their trade.

Chance: I climb onto the raised platform and assume the air of a master storyteller. I launch into the tale of Loche Isle.

DM: It takes a few minutes for those nearby to warm and pay attention to your tale.... An old fellow, hunched and mean looking, sits with his arms guardedly encircling his brew. His face is wrinkled and his hair tendrils down from beneath an old knitted brown cap...

Chance: I have doffed my cloak and just have my cape and other clothes. I pay attention to the old man as best I can.

DM: He watches you, eyes flicking back between you and his brew, which though he protects he hardly drinks from. Others are drawn into your storytelling, but the old man seems unaffected by its magic. His hard gaze doesn't waver.

Chance: When the tale ends, do I make any cash?

DM: A few coins fall your way, onto the tiny corner stage, throughout your telling you have distractedly watched the old fellow watch you. His brow deeply creased and his still posture like that of stone. His fingers don't move and his entire person is still, eyes watching.

Chance: I take my bows, coin and cloak. I go over to Salrod and order an ale for the somber looking man.

DM: A gust of cold air passes through the room as a small group of patrons leave through the front door.

DM: Salrod, "Whom? Point em out."

Chance: "The man over there," I say, pointing out the man in question.

DM: Salrod polishes a small drinking glass with both hands and glances over in the direction you point. Other patrons clutter the area there, making your intentions unclear as to whom you are pointing at. People pass in front of the old fellow who continues to look in the direction of the stage as if still watching you there.

Chance: "That man over there looking at the stage as if I were still there. He looks like he's a statue."

DM: Salrod sets down the glass and pours you a glass of hot mead. "Want that... twill warm ya up. Ya look cold."

DM: A little chill lingers still on your skin from the cold air that blew in from outside.

The mug of the hot drink feels searing warm in your hands.

Chance: I take the mead over to the old man.

DM: He doesn't seem to notice your approach. A large, pudgy man bumps into you moving in the other direction as you make your way through the crowd towards the old fellow.

Chance: I set the mug down and check my pouches and my dagger.

DM: Then you are there, standing just to the old mans left. he doesn't pay attention to the glass you set down, his fingers still clutch his own cup, which you see has but a little drink within it. He pays you no mind as you check your person.

Chance: Does he look like he's breathing?

DM: no.

Chance: His eyes moved though?

DM: They don't move now... they stare intently towards the stage as if you were still there.

Chance: I brush past him and accidently bump his chair to see if there is any weight there.

DM: His chair doesn't budge, nor does he.

Chance: Are there any signs of life?

DM: No...

Chance: Can I confidently say that this man is dead? If so, I alert Salrod that he has a dead man in his tavern.

DM: If he was dead, the bump you gave him should have knocked him about a bit. But he moved not at all. not a hair.

Chance: I disbelieve him on the count that if he were ALIVE he would have moved some, too. This is a convincing illusion.

DM: The door opens again, and again cold air breathes into the room causing men to hunch closer to their drinks and each other, sending prickles over your skin.

Chance: Did anyone come in?

DM: Your eyes pick out across the details of the fellow, out of the corner of your eyes you see a couple construction workers make from the door to one of the empty tables at the other end of the pub. As you search him for some detail the old man ignores you. He seems set like stone, in a trance perhaps. But it is eerie.

Chance: Did I notice any construction going on when I came up here?

DM: Nope, but being a large pub the fellows may have traveled a spell to get here.

Chance: I check the man's pulse.

DM: You reach out to check his wrist for some pulse. As your fingers brush against him you involuntarily recoil. His skin is rough - hard like stone. You glance in the direction of Salrod, then back at the old man - some change attracts your alert eyes.

Chance: What change?

DM: You watch as the skin of the old man softens in the light, becomes more normal. For a moment you fancy that you can see his veins pulse thick with blood, then the slightest movement beguiles his lips as they slightly part into almost a smile.

DM: His eyeballs rotate till their gaze settles upon you and his finger, achingly slow at first, begins to tap the side of his drink.

Chance: I move his drink and put the new drink in its place. Perhaps the other drink was drugged with something.

DM: His fingers are wrenched tight around his drink and you feel the weight of his gaze as you try to move them, the rest of the room moves slowly about you as you look into those still eyes.

Chance: I look away from his eyes. "Tap once if you have been drugged," I release his drink.

DM: He already is tapping his finger slowly against the side of his draught. His finger does not cease to move.

Chance: I walk over to Salrod and ask him if he knows what's up with the old man.

DM: Salrod glances at you, already in conversation with another fellow, and shrugs his shoulders.

Chance: I go back to the old man and see if he's changed at all.

DM: His body has not moved except for the tapping of his finger against his brown mug, but his eyes they follow your movement.

Chance: I continue to watch his eyes. The moment I feel like I'm gettin pulled into anything, I look away and leave the inn.

DM: His lips, they tremble in their smile and you feel as if his eyes say, "Sit a moment."

Chance: I sit and take a drink of my mead...a small one, though.

DM: You watch him warily and then suddenly realize that he is talking to you. You wonder how long he has been speaking but can't seem to remember. ".... but there is a secret about it... if you are interested." His dry whispering voice speaks with hardly a movement from his lips.

Chance: A secret about what?

DM: His eyes slowly turn in their sockets to look you over. "You know the home at Whylette and Olverson... yes? ...come there, at four tomorrow." His chest doesn't move with each breath he must take to make the words form, but you watch and hear them pour from his slight and wrinkled mouth. The old man turns his eyes back to the stage, as if he was ignoring you. "Then you will know the truth of things..." his lips then close and he speaks no more.

Chance: "I'll be there. Be well, old man."

Chance: I go home. It's got to be well dark by now and I have enemies again. I'll hire a carriage to make my way home faster. I double check myself to make sure that I have all my possessions.

DM: A black coach rides up to receive your silver and carries you forth through the chill night. White flecks of snow fall from the hard black sky above and you are alone in the carriage to mull your thoughts with the rumble of the horses hooves to accompany you.

Chance: Do I make it home safely?

DM: Yes, with the pawing of hooves and the rumble of the carriages wheels, you arrive at a sudden stop in front of the Laughing Frog.

Chance: Okay. I go up to my room and go to sleep. Do I wake up the next morning?

DM: Sure. Its still dark outside and you had to have Neil bring some extra blankets in the middle of the night. You didn't sleep especially well, but your eyes won't close now.

Chance: Why am I cold? Do I feel strange or what?

DM: You feel fine. Your window is opaque with hoarfrost.

Chance: Wow...just really cold last night, eh? Okay, I get dressed and go to the Bards College for my lessons--I cut them short around 11 am. Then, I don my armor and go to the wharves to leave a message for the man that I talked to last time I needed a message to the Guild. Then, by then, I need to go to the house the old man told me. I see if Bolas is around to come with me.

DM: What was the message that you left for the guild?

Chance: That I wanted to talk to the man that had contacted me in the market square a few

months ago.

DM: Bolas is in the middle of furthering his skill in boxing and wrestling. "Maybe this weekend buddy." is his answer.

Chance: Damn. Okay, I go on my own.

DM: You walk down the streets, freshly laden with snow from the night before. The mid-morning darkness still wearing thin to the dim light of winter day.

Chance: It should be about 3:30 by the time that I get to the house. About an hour to the wharves, one back...looked for Bolas. All that after 11am.

DM: By the time you round the corner onto the unplowed Whylette road and make your way to the intersection indicated by the strange old man. By that time it has already begun to get quite dark. There are no foot prints in the fresh snow though - which has fallen most of the day. You plod through the snow, the white blanket dampens all the sounds of the surrounding city, all you hear is a dog barking far far in the distance. At the corner of Whylette and Olverson you arrive at the wrought iron gates which encircle an estate. The roof of the house can be seen peeking white and shadowed, above the boughs of the many trees which fill the large yard that surrounds it.

Chance: Are the gates open or closed?

DM: You approach the gate to open and pass through it, though it is closed. As you get closer you notice an old padlock keeps a chain wrapped firmly about the gate, keeping it closed.

No footprints mar the snowy yard or pathway through the trees to the shadowed entrance some two hundred feet beyond.

Chance: No smoke coming from the chimney?

DM: In the dark of the late afternoon you can not tell the difference between the sky and any smoke that might be there. Standing here at the gates you can see very little of the house at all, just its top most eves and part of the front porch. The windows that you can see are unlit.

Chance: Can I hop the fence without being seen?

DM: Well, the fence stands some 12 to 14 feet tall and has iron spikes atop of it. It would not be a fun climb over.

Chance: I check around the house to find a more discrete way in.

DM: You hear a soft unsteady approach of steps sliding through the snowy trees beyond the gates, your eyes flick up to peer intently beyond and you can discern a flickering torchlight approaching through the black bodies of the trees.

Chance: I await the approaching party. I loosen my dagger just in case.

DM: A black, cloaked and stooped form comes closer, the light illuminates the branches of the trees which reach in all directions...

Chance: Could this be the old man?

DM: As the figure shuffles closer you can see the light skin of the thin hand which holds the torch and th face which comes into view is chiseled and hard. His eyes look out over the street behind you as if looking through you. The stiff, heavily cloaked man stooped at the other side of the gate, some ten feet away and peers towards you. "What do you want!" His hoarse voice demands. His body shudders briefly as the wind picks up a bit.

Chance: "I was told to come here to find the truth of a secret."

DM: "Who are you! Why have you come hunting here? There is naught to be found here!" He turns with his torch light and looks behind him, shoulders stooped, as if to see if someone behind him has heard his coarse words to you.

Chance: I mean no offense, sir. I was merely following a word that was passed to me.

DM: He half turns back to you at the sound of your voice and you can see his white cheek outlined by the hood of his cloak.

Chance: Completely white? Am I to be admitted or not?

DM: He keeps one ear in your direction, the other poised towards the manor beyond the trees, then nods his head and turns and makes his slow walk towards the gate. He clumsily places the torch in a brace near the gate and withdraws a long silver key from his front pocket. Taking the chained padlock in hand he jabs the key into it and wrenches the lock open.

Chance: I wait patiently.

DM: His long fingers retreat back into the arms of his cloak as the chain falls loose. Placing the key in his pocket he takes up the torch again and pulls open the gates against the snow partway.

Chance: "May I enter, sir?"

DM: From his hard face he spits the words forth, "What's your name!"

Chance: Chance.

DM: The gates stand open, allowing you entrance into the snowy forest yard before the manor, the white ground marred only by the footprints of the gaunt figure before you.

Chance: Warily, I enter and let the guard lead me to the door.

DM: With torch in hand, the heavily cloaked, pale man turns to the house - his features hidden from view once again - and begins to walk back down the trail. As you walk down the trail behind his shuffling step you look about and in the shadows cast by his torch you can see stone statues spaced here and there in the forest. Their details are difficult to pick out but you can almost feel their stony judgement falling upon you as you walk towards the manor.

Chance: I am more interested as to whether they are in fact stone or just men standing very still.

DM: Stone... but still, you note that it is funny to have all the statues on one's yard facing towards the pathway.

Chance: Anything common among them all?

DM: nope... its hard to tell what each exactly is poised to be doing, other than the fact that they are humanoid. Your infravision helps none at all due to the torchlight in front of you.

Chance: Damn...okay...where do I end up?

DM: Under the canopy of the trees the crystalline stars are hidden from view and the manor grows in size as you near it.... The place is simply immense and has the look of many years settled in its foundation. The second and two floors above are built further out than the first, giving the place the feeling as if it was leaning out, forward over the lawn.

DM: You mount the wooden steps of the house, under the shadow of the second floor. Glancing behind you the road has disappeared into the trees and darkness.

Chance: *thinking* put out the damn torch

DM: He lurches up the steps, not as if lame, but as if quite old or tired, his heavy feet plodding and resonating on the deck which goes across the front of the house. There are two sets of double doors, heavily stylized with curves and beautiful arches, like tree boughs. It is not until you look a little closer in the flickering torchlight that you notice that the doors are carved to appear as a thick stand of ancient trees.

Chance: okay

DM: Plunging his hand into one pocket again, the gatekeeper draws forth another large key, which he jabs into the ornate golden lock in the center of the left side double doors. He wrenches the key in a turn and you hear a heavy lock changing its tumblers.

Chance: *I watch which pocket he puts it back into*

DM: After depositing the key back in his cloak, within it, he reaches forward, grasps the door and with visible effort shoves against it. Despite his obvious effort, the door only slowly opens up.

Chance: "Do you care for help, sir?"

DM: Before it has opened enough for you to see past his bulk to within, he turns half away from the door, not facing you, and hurls his torch into the snow where suddenly you are plunged into near total darkness as your infravision slowly adjusts. He turns back to you, his shadowed form invisible nearly in the darkness, but you hear his voice, "No." You hear and dimly see him push the doors open further and then hear his heavy footsteps on the wooden floor within, suddenly they become much quieter. Your eyes are still adjusting so all you can see are the many shadows and shapes of the inside, his dark form disappeared, though you sense him waiting. Waiting patiently for you to come in from outside.

Chance: My daggers are ready if he tries anything...not fully drawn but definitely close at hand. I make sure that my vision has adjusted to the light. I enter casually (to enter my caution).

DM: As you enter the room is illuminated, again confusing your poor eyes with blinding amber light. As they adjust, you can pick out your surroundings.

Chance: That's what I was talking about letting my eyes adjust.

DM: Approaching you, with a beautiful hooded lantern in hand - the shields of glass which hide the flame are elegantly worked stained glass with a single red rose in bloom on each of its four sides - the light cast from it is amber and red on the rooms features. The front hall, which you stand in, has the two sets of heavy double doors behind you, through the crack of the ajar door is the impenetrable dark of the outside. The walls to the left and right are wood paneled and look as if once a fine picture was traced into their wood. More heavy double doors are found on either side. You also note, looking upward, that the ceiling of the room is high, perhaps three stories tall, with banisters half circling the room. To the left and right side of each floors banister above you there is a large stone gargoyle which places its sour gaze squarely upon those who stand at the front halls entrance. Their tongues loll from their mouths in apparent distaste.

Chance: Is there anyone else in the room besides me and the dark man?

DM: As you looked about the room, your host is turning the key in the look of the right hand double doors which depart this room. "This way..." his voice intones.

Chance: I follow him.

DM: No one else is here, though high from the third balcony you can sense some movement from left to right. A splendid parlor hall becomes visible to you as you enter the room to the right. A large pool table - much large than you are use to seeing - sits squarely in the center of the room. Above it, another beautiful chandelier. The left wall is marked with two exits. Closest to you is a stairway which directly ascends upwards, behind and beyond it is another set of closed double doors.

Chance: I continue to follow my guide.

DM: The right wall of the room faces outside, though the three tall windows which must be there are covered with equally tall soft gray curtains. The far side of the room has a large wall of bookshelves, totally filled. In all the room measures perhaps 20' across and 40' deep. There are pairs of leather seated, high-backed chairs, stylishly positioned in the two corners of the room that share the right wall. Small round tables sit between each pair. The nearest has an ash tray, a wooden pipe, a magnifying glass, and some scraps of paper sitting upon it which appear to be slightly burnt.

Chance: This might be an interesting house to come back to for some reading... Does the manor appear to be recently used or is it slightly run down as though no one had been here for a while?

DM: Your guide beckons to the chairs nearest you and in his demeanor you hear his hollow voice as if asking you to wait there. The room has the look of being kept, though little used. Below you, on the floor is a beautiful carpet, like a the finest of Parisian rugs. The light cast by the rose shuttered lantern lends a tired looking quality to the room, and perhaps a bit sinister.

Chance: I remove my wet cloak and find a suitable place to hang it. The armor's staying on, though. I sit for a bit and then look to the books to see if there might be anything interesting to read. I find anything, I'll sit back down and wait.

DM: There is a convenient coat hanger, standing just tot he left of the doors which you passed though. One of those tall three pronged deals, made of wood.

Chance: I hang my cloak there. I've got light weight studded's not that "out of style."

DM: The leaning, cloaked gatekeeper walks up the stairs, his feet thumping against each one like some muted drum. You are alone.

Chance: (yeah right.) I move around the room looking at books and checking for secret doors...discretely. I know that my chances are slim, but I still try. I don't know who my host is, but I have my guesses and don't like those. If I don't find any doors, I sit in my chair and quietly listen for my host's arrival.

DM: The books on the far wall are merely masterfully painted on the wall, not being real tomes at all. You find a concealed handhold in the wall, probably for opening up a concealed door there which your eyes still have not caught the outlines of in the perfect, deceiving painting.

Chance: I make a mental note of where it is.

DM: "So... You have not been waiting uncomfortably long? That is my hope at least..." A soft voice, laced with control and deadliness, almost whispers from your right as you stand there examining the painted bookcase-wall.

Chance: There is no way in hell that someone just walked up to me without me hearing them. At least check their MS vs my DN. I also had my alertness going.

DM: I know, and you made your checks too. Nevertheless, the voice came from your right where last you glanced there was no one there.

Chance: Do I recognize the voice?

DM: No you do not recognize the voice.

Chance: I turn to see the source of the voice. "To whom do I owe this gracious invitation?"

DM: Sitting in the leather chair to your left - you are uncertain how he could have made it there without your noticing - is a immaculate man dressed in a suit of darkness, a suit like those you hear to be worn by the Haruninki of the far, far west when hunting in the night. For a moment you confuse the face, and apparently muscled body, of the man in black to be that of Shohan, but there are subtle differences... His eyes are clear blue gems, rather than Shohan's green, his hair is much longer - though the same silky blackness - and tied behind. You see no weapon upon the man, though like Shohan, and perhaps most like him, you sense a powerful force waiting behind each perfect movement he makes.

Chance: "Do I know you?" No weapon on him doesn't mean as much to me considering I have two daggers secreted about my person...hehe

DM: "No, it is likely that you do not, " his voice murmurs clear but soft like silk, "For now you may address me as Lord S." The presence of the man, even sitting reclined there upon the elegant leather chair is such that you imagine that the force of his presence standing up alone could make men leap back and warily tense. Yet he wields this almost supernatural countenance and looming power of character like the finest of swordsmen or the most highly trained of nobles, so that it is only a faint sense you feel behind each motion or word.

Chance: "What is the business of our meeting, sir?" I find a seat across from him where we can watch each other. I'm casual about my movements and looks. My body language betrays nothing.

DM: You sit in the same corner of the room, across the round table between those two high-backed leather chairs.

DM: Lord S. "Thank you for joining me this evening. The cold of the outside has begun to thaw from you now, hasn't it?"

Chance: "Yes. I hadn't really noticed it but for my ears."

DM: You notice that since the gatekeeper took that lamp from the room that since then you have been in darkness, this is easy to forget when you have infravision, yet you notice that your host is not uncomfortable with the dark either. You think to yourself, perhaps he too is Haruninkian, though if he is also a martial artist as his presence suggests, who could he be...

Chance: If he looks like Shohan then that makes sense. Sanjian wasn't uncomfortable in the dark either.

DM: Another thought occurs to you... if he is Haruchi and is a martial artist a you suspect, perhaps this is the Brinn Shander - the man Sanjian mentioned with distaste at least once that you recall.

Chance: "To what do I owe the honor of this meeting?"

DM:Lord S., "Perhaps you mean - Why?

Chance: "As you say."

DM: "We have a fellow acquaintance, you and I."

Chance: I begin picking at my gloves in short-temperament. "Who might that be?"

DM: ".... and a background too, which though not so the same does have particular points which I am interested in. Whether he revealed his name to you or not I cannot say, though for now we may address him as Lord B."

Chance: "The master of the Guild's spies, I assume you're referring to."

DM: "Which Guild?" He casually asks you unexpectedly...

Chance: "All these initials in the names begin to wear on my poor halfling mind." I faint a hand to my brow as though I were coming down with a head ache.

Chance: "The guild that we both know, but I don't think either of us works for."

DM: "Which... Guild..." he asks again.

Chance: "Let's just call it the T Guild," I respond with a happy grin. No mocking but merely mirth.

DM: He nods. "There is no 'T' Guild in Tel-Akbar. Now is there?"

Chance: "No more than there is a Lord S or Lord B."

DM: "Please, answer me directly. 'Tis I who has need for veiled commentary, not you. I will be clearer when I see fit, so have some patience and do not mock me."

Chance: "The only guild I worry about in this city. The Guild of Thieves."

DM: "So I say again, there is no Thieves Guild in Tel-Akbar, is there?"

Chance: "None that I am aware of, sir. What is the real matter of this business? Riddles do not fit my humor this evening."

DM: "My apologies, though I am at work here and there is protocol which we must follow. There is no Thieves Guild, yes?"

Chance: "As you say."

DM: He frowns.

Chance: "I've had dealings, unfortunately, with this non-existent organization. To show a lesson to me, ten of my associates were slain and laid behind the inn that I frequent."

DM: He looks at you sternly, perhaps disappointed, and you feel an unpleasant hostility growing between the two of you; not something that you really wish to have.

Chance: "But, who am I to argue with a lord? I apologize for my temper, sir, but you must understand that my late friend thought none too highly of you. This fact leads me to wonder at the wisdom of me coming here."

DM: "Your apology is misdirected, I am quite sure none your late friend, or any of your friends, have suffered ill at my direction or with my knowledge. Invoke the words," he says cryptically, "we will talk of nothing more until you unequivocally say them. Ah, do not be upset with my mysteries - leaving this conversation as it is would be very disappointing." He sits there, waiting and in control.

Chance: "To cool things down a bit, tell me this; do you come here in peace or no? I belong to no such Guild of Thieves and have no solid evidence to point to the existence of such. So, as it stands, logic would suggest that there is no Thieves Guild of Tel Akbar."

DM: "It pleases me that you acknowledge the truth." he states, "and in tradition then, as your logic follows, there is no guild to seek out, therefore...." and he leaves the sentence open and goes on to his next thoughts. I find tradition to be somewhat refreshing. It brings back such ancient memories and ties people together. Important things."

Chance: "Quite assuredly." I pull a file out of my glove and beginning trimming my fingernails on my off hand.

DM: "You would do well to recall that whatever passes your lips, that as you last spoke is the very truth, regarding certain existences, should be forefront in your mind when any inquiry is brought to your attention.

Chance: "Why would any inquiry be brought to my attention, milord?"

DM: "Let's merely hope for now that one never is."

Chance: "I make it my business not to have any dealings with those nefarious enough to be confused with people that would belong to such an organization if there were to be such a thing. I have put my days of theft behind me."

DM: "Would you care to enjoy something to wet your throat with?"

Chance: "Why thank you for the offer, sir."

DM: He rises and disappears from sight through the doorway to the right of the stairs. What do you do while you wait?

Chance: I sit back and think on the current situation. Other than that, I'm fairly relaxed. I pull out a silver piece and begin flipping it over and under my knuckles.

DM: You hear the two clinks of glass upon glass and Lord S reappears, gliding to his chair opposite of you. Before he sits he sets down two small crystal glasses of some brown drought in the middle of the table, equidistant from you.

Chance: "Now, it would only be prudent of me to request your word of honor that nothing has been added to my drink to loosen my tongue or befuddle my mind. Have I such an oath?"

DM: He looks to you and speaks, "I have maintained the honor that exists between gentleman such as you and I."

Chance: "The honor of men with talent," I give a little chuckle and take a small sip of the stuff.

DM: You taste nothing untoward in the strongly alcoholic liqueur. It has a pleasant blackberry flavor. It's high quality stuff.

Chance: I swirl the drink in my glass, but take no more sips. Just one every once and a while. Sometimes the best poison is to just get your opponent drunk.

DM: "I would like to forge some agreement between you and I, but first it would be most useful if you demonstrated to me exactly where your interests lay. Rather than you so directly and merely telling me this, I have another idea..."

Chance: "Which is?"

DM: This time, three days hence, bring to me something of yours which is newly acquired. By the nature of what you bring me I will know your interests and intentions. There is more... You recall where you were directed to this home of mine, yes?"

Chance: "Yes."

DM: "Then speak to the owner there, simply mention to him that you were there and you have an additional three days. When you are ready, return here, at this same time, in three days, and we will see what is to be done. Should you fail to appear, than I shall take that for an answer as well. Though my words may dance around tonight's subject, I do make myself quite clear I hope. True?"

Chance: "Mention to the owner that I was here and that I have three additional days. If I fail to appear, how with that answer be handled?"

Chance: I lean forward and show a hint of my true self, "I may be short of stature, but were I measured in wit, I would be of a height with most mages."

DM: "I and my associates would consider it quite rude for you to not show up. If you intend to not come again then perhaps it would be polite and political to cease your presence here in this city. The insult you would bring by not replying in person would be a grave and mortal insult."

Chance: "As I had thought. I just wanted to make certain I understood what has not been said," I say with a grin.

DM: "I have been clear and fair to you, yes? For if you have no further questions than I shall depart from your company for this evening."

Chance: "One more thing, milord S. I am in no way evil and will do what I can to bring down any great evil I find. That much should be in whatever portfolio you have on my past. If it is not, please duly note it. You have been most clear and most cordial. I have enjoyed your company as much as any man can under the circumstances. Thank you for the draught and perhaps I'll return the favor one day."

DM: "Your evils existence and our future agreement have little to do with each other, as long as you convince yourself of certain truths which were mentioned earlier this evening."

Chance: "As long as those truths remain constant and there are no more demonstrations to show me my mistakes as I mentioned earlier, I don't see how evil could fall into our relationship."

DM: "And recall the courtesy I have shown you while working near my associates. Though I would not have them put you in duress, they will respond like to you with the same honor that you give to them."

Chance: "Any associate of yours is soon to be an associate of mine," I raise my glass, nod and take another more hearty drink. (Not enough to dull my wits, though)

DM: "That is the second truth to be learned from our business here tonight. Do recall both of them frequently, they are nearly as sure as godly law itself."

Chance: "By your leave, milord?" I move as if to stand.

DM: "Thank you for your gracious visit this evening. Perhaps next time I will learn your name." He holds a single finger up as if to hold you back from revealing it to him, "Good night to you, sir. You may depart as you came when you wish. I eagerly await for your reply, good night and good night."

Chance: I bow to him, "In that case, my thanks to you and have a good evening. I would wish you well in the light of Lathidus, but I recall that those of your blood do not often believe in gods." I gather my cloak and leave.

DM: With that he stands as well and departs from the room, leaving his glass nearly full.

Chance: Is my trip home uneventful?

DM: As you depart from the forbidding household you think to rename it in your mind as a stronghold - the doors all so locked and the owner a master to respect. Your feet crunch through the fresh snow that has begun falling while you spoke with the strange master of the manor. Your trip back through the silent and abandoned streets of Tel-Akbar are quite and meditative. And, finally, you arrive home at your inn. The warmth within soon shedding the cold from your face.

Chance: I make my way back to the Laughing Frog as it is probably too late to enter the Bards College. In the morning, I see to my instruction with Wendell and my lessons to Christian and then go to the tavern near the High Gates. I go see if the High Gates are open yet.

DM: Well, you hear that the gates are open, though there are no couriers allowed in yet, nor visitors without state approval. Guards are delivering messages in lieu of couriers with enough palm-garnish.

Chance: Have I gotten my letter at the Bards College from the owner of the Reef Place yet?

DM: No, nothing has arrived yet.

Chance: I'll go to the southern part of the city and see if I can find out about that mage that came in. Depending on results, I'll find a quiet corner in an inn down there and see what there is to hear. I've got to find info that is helpful but that isn't going to get anyone killed. Or, if it is, only those that deserve to die.

DM: Well, it is not until late evening that you finally arrive at a suitable inn, located not far from the mysterious red-bricked tower that floats off the coast. You find a room at The Feathered Mattress, with a view to the west from your second story window, through which you can see the tower floating over the waters. You learn a couple things from the 'tender at the bar downstairs from the hotel rooms.

Chance: Like what?

DM: Well, one thing that you learn is that he has bought a small plot of property, on the shore opposite of his tower, from the government of Tel-Akbar. This strikes you as strange since building right on the shore is prohibited... But apparently, work has already begun on a sizable platform there on the shore, as if he intends to build a pier out to his tower. Hargold and Son are the builders contracted to do the work. There is talk also of some manner of contraption being built on the iron square upon which his tower rests. During the day you can see that there is something near to the tower, not attached, which is being assembled.

Chance: How far out does the pier currently go?

DM:It goes about 20 feet out into the water and is about 30 feet tall.

Chance: far out is the tower from the shore?

DM:The tower is about half a mile out.

DM: Well, perhaps the builders can tell you something. Apparently Roshared has made no further appearances since the incident at the gates.

Chance: I go off to the builder's place, then. I'll go disguised as a dwarf and see what I can do there.

DM: Ok, well you go off to the newly built platform where work is still being done. The first thing that strikes you is that the entire thing is made of steel and towers about 40 feet high off the beach.

Chance: I look for the foreman...he's got to have the plans.

DM: Workmen mill about around, atop, and within the structure. There are no windows and very broad (40 feet across) stairway descends down from the inland side of it and to the end of the sandy beach where the grassy knolls start.

Chance: Anyone look like they're standing around a planning table giving orders?

DM: You are directed to the top of the platform where Mr. Hargold is overseeing the building personally.

Chance: Okay...good. I stump up to him and kind of dwarvishly automatically check over the plans. "This all of them, Hargold?"

DM: Hargold Sr. is a weathered looking man and stands broadly as if he once was the captain of a ship. He is aged, being in his early fifties perhaps. He stands there looking west to the tower with the plans rolled up tightly in one large fist.

Chance: "Don't be giving me any round about with this either. I've been contracted to give these plans the nod of the Dwarven Stoneworker's Association.

DM: Hargold, "Who're ewe?"

Chance: "That magely type out there send a message with his magely powers to my boss and he told me to come over here and check these plans."

DM: "Slo dewn bub. Yust who're ewe thinkin ewe is?"

Chance: "Name's Charlie Stone. Now, how about those plans. I've been authorized by the mage to make the final decision as to whether or not the job's being done properly. The Stone and Metalworker's Association is awfully strict so don't be given me any gruff, okay? I'm the man that's been sent to double check you guys. Do you think a magely type like that is going to just hire someone without having _dwarves_ check out the craftsmanship?

DM: "Dis is metel tho." He says bluntly. "'Ere be yer tokin?" He asks you this last and reaches with his free hand to point at a medallion of complicated design which hangs from his neck.

Chance: "I got other things to do today besides check this thing out. All I gotta do is check over the plans and then walk the structure. After that, I give the nod and you're free to keep up the good work," I smirk at him. I pull out my amulet and flash it at him. "This is a dwarven token of mastery. Don't be given me any crap about who's got what. Just show me the plans and I'll be on my way."

DM: He looks at you dubiously. "Tat ein the tokin. Eye am paid weel to not show ewe dis ere plan witout a tokin." He nodes his head, satisfied that he has made himself clear. He seems pretty sure of himself. Maybe a little doubt, but obviously paid quite well to avoid having too many doubts about who to talk to and who not to. You can watch his resolve thickening on his face. He seems to be in a good mood, though eager for you to take a hike and stop pandering him.

Chance: "Listen, boy. I've lived for 217 years without any such crap. The mage sent us a magic message and told us that if there was any trouble to report it immediately. Also, he did send another token along in cause you was too stupid to pay attention the first time I said it."

DM: "Lemme see tat ere tokin."

Chance: I pull out a platinum piece and tell him that this is to keep his mouth shut, his eyes open and that he should do as told. I pull out the mirror that I've got and look at myself a bit as though it was an old habit. Then I kinda flash it at him and tell him that he wants to show me the plans. I flash the token at him again. "The mage said to show you my badge of dwarven office and that would be good. Not my fault if you forgot your part of it."

DM: "Tats u fancy mirrer dere. Stop givum me yere crap an away wit ya."

Chance: "Listen, man. If I don't do this, my family's gonna get shoved outta the hole where we've been livin for the last 97 years. I got 8 kids and no where's to take em. Here's a platinum and another 10 gold, but that's all I can do, man. Give a workin dwarf a break."

DM: He looks at your money skeptically then takes it, sighs, and squats down and unrolls the plans for you to have a very brief look.

Chance: I check it out the best I possibly can. Making mental notes and whatnot so that I can make a rough sketch later. The guild can have one of their engineers rework it after.

DM: Doesn't seem that the plans are for the platform to be any bigger, in fact, it is nearly done. There is a strange drawing of a funny looking sled sitting atop of the platform.

Chance: Okay, I continue to play the part and check theI continue to play the part and check out the work. I give approving grunts and make comments like, "Pretty good for not being dwarven" and stuff like that.

DM: There's further drawings for the sled, but it looks quite complicated, your sure you won't be able to recreate that.

Chance: Okay, I continue to play the part and check theI continue to play the part and check out the work. I give approving grunts and make comments like, "Pretty good for not being dwarven" and stuff like that.

DM: Theo would have a lot better understanding of these drawings you think to yourself.

Chance: Do I make it out of there with my skin?

DM: yeah... hehe.

Chance: I go back to the Bards College and check for the note again. Tomorrow, I have to go back and have a talk with "Lord S." I get a bit more comfortably dressed for this trip to meet with Lord S. Just my winter cloak...rabbit fur trim with a rich brown leather. I've got my vest on with my dagger belt underneath it. My magic dagger is in its spot in the small of my back. Then, I go off to meet with "Lord S."

DM:You travel through the snowy streets to that less busy part of town where Lord S makes his residence. It is evening once again, thus the sky is dark, but overcast, were it not for the occasional lone street lamp which remains lighted in the brisk wind, your infravision would serve you well.

Chance: I pay attention to the shadows, but make my way easily to the manor. I'm not really worried. I'm cautious but not outwardly.

DM: You come round the corner of Whylette Road, again the manor is dark, though between the trees which obstruct your full view of the place it seems one of the windows on the far right, top floor, is lighted with a dim flicker, like that of a fireplace.

Chance: I wait outside the gates to be admitted.

DM: You must still be curious about Brinn Shander's affiliation with the guild, stranger still that he would keep residence so far away from his students and the far foreign lands of the Dagashi. As you arrive, at the appointed hour, you find the front gate to be unlocked and already opened about a foot. The gatekeeper is no where to be seen. Far down the road you can hear some kind of argument going on, like that between husband and wife, but it is too far off for you to understand what it concerns - they are just voices in the distance. The snowy path between the trees has deepened and been left ungroomed, not a footprint mars its white surface.

Chance Down the road from where I am? Not toward the manor, right?

DM: Yes, down the road.

Chance: If I go investigate will I be late for my meeting?

DM: You would loose your timeliness.

Chance: (roll my DN for me...that's should at least let me pick up some of the conversation)

DM: It really is too far, carried on the wind as it is, you can barely hear it over the rustling of the tree filled yard of the manor.

Chance: Okay. I move to the entrance of the manor and knock on the door.

DM: After a moment or two you faintly hear slow footsteps on the other side. Through a small slanted metal grating which is above your head and right o the rightmost door you hear the harsh voice of the gatekeeper - "Who is it!"

Chance: "It's the master's visitor. I'm expected."

DM: "Expected; Indeed!" You hear the sound of bolts being undone, top and bottom of the door, then a lock or two and the sounds of heavy tumblers changing. The beautifully carved door jerks inward, away from you, forcefully and suddenly.

Chance: This guy trusts his associates a lot, I can tell.

DM: After several tugs it stands a few feet wide enough for your admittance... The ghoulishly pale countenance of the gatekeeper leers down at you, his heavy hooded cloak covering his shapeless form.

Chance: I step in with a whirl to "take in the grandeur of the room"...and to make sure I know where everyone is at.

DM: In this main entry hall there is no one else present, except of course for the present and unpleasant company of the gatekeeper. All the doors from the room remain closed, and probably locked as well like last time.

Chance: I wait for the doorkeeper to lead me to my host.

DM: He shuffles over to the right side double doors, beyond which lies the parlor with the large pool table. He stabs the lock of the door with a key and twists it about, unlocking it. Then, having redeposited the gilded key into his pocket, he opens the door with great slowness. Within you hear the sound of a door closing, as you come into the room there is no one there.

Chance: I make my way into the room and find a chair.

DM: The pipe, ashtray and magnifying glass remain untouched on the closest table to your right. To your left is the coat hanger.

Chance: I hang my cloak and take the seat opposite to the one I did before. I pull out my book of Quegan stories and begin perusing them. This should give me a better view of the room. I'll remain alert as well.

DM: You wait there for a few moments, your senses determined to not allow Lord S to appear without your noticing his arrival. Suddenly, teleported, or perhaps he just suddenly became un-invisible, you see him sitting in the chair next to the windowed wall, close to the entrance you passed though. He casually holds the pipe in his left hand. His cool gaze rests upon you.

Chance: "Good evening," I put my book down upon the table.

DM: "Welcome... welcome again to my abode." He greets you quietly and thoughtfully. He swiftly and fluidly rises, with feline grace, and comes across the room, then reclines again in the chair across from you, his back to the painted wall of books. "Your three days have passed swiftly... successfully too?" He becomes silent and still, only his eyes moving as they watch you.

Chance: "I believe that they have, milord," I say with a grin.

DM: He stays quiet, waiting and allowing you to continue.

Chance: "I have some information of the mage known as Roshared. Also, a bit of other news, with a possible personal interest to you. Or, do you care to know of the mage known as Aiuleen?"

DM:"Feel free to entertain me with both of your discoveries and exposures..."

Chance: I reach into my doublet and pull out the improved sketches of the pier that Roshared is having built. I explain what I've known of him for months and what my speculations are about the pier. As to the other magic user," I reach into my belt pouch and remove a small sack. "Here's the news I have of Aiuleen," I pass the sack to my host and wait for his inevitable question. The bag obviously has something in it, but that something is invisible.

DM:>His eyes glance down. "What lays within?"

Chance: "Something familiar to any of those who have visited Master Aiuleen at his tower. It's invisible and much less likely to tug at your boot or purse now that it and all its friends are dead. Isn't it amazing how creatures small in stature can always cause the biggest headaches?"

DM:His glance says, certainly not by you... "Do continue..."

Chance: "I noticed that he was no where to be found for a good long while and that his imps no longer came out to annoy me when I visited. The black statue is no longer in front of his tower, either. I even went as far as to climb his tower and look in the window. Ha!"

DM: "Indeed..."

Chance: "There is only one thing that I can think this to mean, but I haven't any solid evidence to back up the conclusion, though."

DM: "Tell me more of... Roshared."

Chance: I tell him what I know and hand him the sketches of the blueprints. "I've taken inspection of the pier itself, as well. Any more detailed questions, I'm sure that I could answer as long as the opinion of a craftsmen was not required."

DM: "What is your opinion of this... Roshared's intentions?"

Chance: "Well, never having met him I can only make speculation of his character. However, from the people that I've spoken with and the stories I've heard, I can say this; this newcomer is either a good hearted man who does what he can to help when the need arises or a man that is trying to make himself look as such. The workers at the pier were all well paid and seemed to harbor no ill will toward him"

DM: Lord S. nods at this and then looks long towards you, till you think his distracted by some deep thought.... Then quietly says, "Good. *pause* Would it be possible for you to return again some soon future evening? This news which you bring will require some thought, and there are others to whom I must speak. Perhaps two evenings hence?"

Chance: "What? I may be relatively new to the city, but I'm not so new as to be running about at the beck and call of strangers, sir. I suppose that could be agreeable, though."

DM: He notices your hesitation and admits the following to you, "Be sure, young sir, that there are rewards coming in your direction. But recall our words of that night past. Tradition has its place. Patience - especially for one of your professed talents - is a valuable commodity. I will not test it to its extent, but trust that I do appreciate it and your candor as I carry out such mysterious paths of conduct."

Chance: "I have one more surprise for you, sir. But that, too will have to wait until the next time we meet," I stand and pick up my book.

DM: "Remember patience, it is important to all business. The adage of good things to those who wait is not without its merits. In the future you will count thoughts of patience among your friends when you are called to use it. He murmurs, "Patience, tradition, truth, there are other things to know still..." he does not finish his sentence.

Chance: "Then the day after the morrow then. Good evening, sir." I don my cloak and ask his leave.

DM: He rises, with a combatants readiness and control, and looks down towards you. "You remain in good graces, I look forward to our next encounter young sir. But before you leave there is one last item of information which you promised me at the end of our last meeting."

Chance: "What was that, sir?"

DM: "Your name, which I have yet to hear from your lips. A good memory is oft even more useful than the sharpest of blades - especially in your field of skill."

Chance: "My name for yours, then. No surname necessary. Agreed? Never let too much be known too soon - another lesson well remembered."

DM: "I am afraid that even to my colleagues I remain a mystery. The time has not come for ears to hear it spoken aloud."

Chance: "Very well. I need not hear it spoken aloud to know your name. As I know your name, I shall let you know mine, though I suspect you already know it. My name is Chance. Chance Paedragn."

DM: "Well met young Paedragn. I believe I have enjoyed some favorite ales brewed by the hands which birthed you. Hmm?"

Chance: "True enough. Those hands will stay well or the brew will turn bitter. The best ale in the region, I believe."

DM: He nods, but it neither confirms nor denies your statement. "Good evening then. Good evening to you... and a safe journey homeward as well." He pauses in thought, "Shall I have my horseman prepare carriage for your return to wherever you wish?"

Chance: "No thank you. I appreciate the offer but would like the walk."

DM: "As you wish."

DM: He watches as you leave from the room, the gatekeeper stands by the open door of the manor and once you have left he shoves the stubborn door closed. The next morning you receive the awaited letter from the Reef Place.

DM: "Dearest and most esteemed sir; Our apologies for our tardy reply to you. It would please us still if you continue to desire to speak your tales and song at our fine establishment. Please reply with a time and location for one of our couriers to meet you to discuss this at greater length. --- The management at The Reef Place."

Chance: "Most gracious benefactors; I would be happy to meet with a representative of your choosing 2 days hence at the Laughing Frog around two of the clock. I look forward to the encounter. --- Chance Paedragn"