12 Drakonis, 9:02 Dragon
Orsa and Aveline have been staying in the Doxies Lap (15, Docks) since their arrival in Afsaana. A decent accommodation for a fair price, this place also doubles as a restaurant with proper food. Between looking for work and trying to get information on their respective targets, they also spent a lot of time in the Lost Lass at the Docks (12).
A tavern nearby, which caters mostly to sailors, Orsa felt right at home and invited Aveline. Figuring it couldn’t hurt, Aveline tagged along. Of course, Orsa had ulterior motives, and so it comes as no surprise that it turns out she wanted to go there because she is “befriending” the owner’s daughter, Arlena.
Enter Isobel. She just received a “task” from her uncle, with whom she has been staying for half a year now. He is the owner of Urian’s Forge (17, Docks), which is just a stone’s throw away from the Lost Lass and the Doxies Lap, which is why Isobel frequents both establishments on the regular.
Now she needs companions to help her fulfill this task, so she can continue to live at her uncle’s place for free. How much her uncle’s “friend” can or will pay, she doesn’t know.
As she enters the Lost Lass, Isobel immediately notices Orsa, who is chatting up Arlena.
Isobel walks up to them and sits down next to Orsa. Arlena notices this and quietly disappears, giving the two of them some space. Aveline, in the meantime, is sitting at a table nearby, listening intently.
They smalltalk for a little bit, and Orsa admits that she’s looking for someone. Who, she doesn’t say. Isobel then shows Orsa the paper her uncle gave her: “Where lifeless bards meet. Catch my attention. Then meet me outside. 5pm.” She says she needs someone to accompany her, since her uncle told her best not to go alone. Orsa and her ponder over the meaning of this note for a bit, joking about dead bards, before Orsa says "Well, maybe it’s the Dead Poets in Drac’s End…"
Aveline gets up, introduces herself and asks whether Isobel has seen someone she knows. A girl, around her age, short, brown hair and pale skin. Her name is Isolde. Thinking for a bit, Isobel says she’s met plenty of girls who fit the description, but none that is called Isolde.
They decide to leave ahead of time and make sure they are on time. They decide to take a route that takes them through the Merchant District.
It is still pretty busy at this time of day, as they enter the Merchant District. The difference between the Docks and this place is painfully apparent. Wide streets made of cobblestones lead the way, lined with greenery and magical street lamps. Some are broken, but this does nothing to detract from the sheer amount of wealth that is portrayed here.
The girls don’t feel like they really fit in. The district is packed with well-dressed merchants and nobles, accompanied by servants and bodyguards.
This makes the two arguing figures just ahead of them stand out even more. While they are well-dressed, they don’t seem to fit in, either. As Aveline, Isobel and Orsa get closer on their way towards the Dead Poets, they start to make out what the two women are saying. The two seem to be arguing over who is the prettier one of the two.
While both have medium dark skin and bright red hair, there are differences in their appearance.
The one who quickly pulls the girls into the conversation soon introduces herself as Lexi. She has blue eyes, while her sister’s, introduced as Nolora, are green.
Lexi’s clothes seem more expensive than Nolora’s, and while Lexi is wearing a skirt and corset, Nolara is wearing tight pants, and a corset as well.
Isobel quickly determines that they are twins.
It is mostly Lexi who does the talking, as she adamantly insists on being the prettier one. Nolora stands back, shaking her head and rolling her eyes at her sister. It doesn’t take long for Orsa to proclaim that Nolora is in fact the prettier one.
Lexi scoffs, seems utterly disgusted with the idea, and says that the other two should think really hard about what they say.
In the end, Nolora is crowned the winner of the unofficial beauty pageant, and gives each of them a kiss on the cheek, still grinning.
Lexi however, stomps off, yelling at Isobel for saying that she is prettier than the twins. “Don’t you ever dare show your face in the House of Serenity! I’ll make sure you’re ruined, just you wait!”
“I don’t need to pay for companionship, thank youuu,” Isobel yells after her.
As a thanks for her immediate support, Nolora whispers a password into Orsa’s ear, and tells her that should she ever visit Alice’s House in the Eastern District, she need only name the password to be granted access.
Continuing on their way, the girls enter Drac’s End.
Crossing over into Drac’s End is like walking into a completely different world. Where the Merchant District had broad avenues made of cobblestones, Drac’s End is an assortment of winding streets and alleys made from pressed earth. Here and there planks or stones interrupt the earthen ground.
The buildings look rundown and quite a few are fire-damaged. An assortment of sailors, laborers and working families can be seen, all of them dressed in cheap and much-repaired clothing. Dirty children are running through the alleys, playing hide and seek. Aveline is already used to this sight, as the bookstore she so loves is nearby (Finnegan’s Books, 13, Drac’s End).
But Isobel hasn’t been in this district much, and Orsa has no idea where she currently is. The poverty in this district is palpable, and it is clear that the leaders of the city don’t place a high value on Drac’s End. Barrels of sea water for fire fighting can be seen outside of many homes and buildings.
Orsa and Isobel look around, trying to see where this “Dead Poets” place could be. But it is Aveline who says “I think I’ve been here before… there’s a diner to the left.”
They round the corner and find a sign hanging above the door of what they think is the Dead Poets. The sign is utterly muddy and scratched, however, and hangs too far up to wipe clean. So they simply enter.
Inside they find a—considering the circumstances—relatively clean diner, with two servers walking along tables. There are a few patrons; most of them young students who they believe are from the Institute, but there are a few older ones, as well. Some of them sit alone, but a lot of people just seem to have taken a free seat, regardless of who is sitting next to them.
A young woman is standing on an overturned box near the entrance to what the girls think is the kitchen, passionately talking about the lack of a Sea Lord and the political issues that brings with it. She mentions the Succession Law and how it is ruining the future of Afsaana, before she steps off the box, calling “Give us a new Sea Lord!”. The crowd in the diner seems to love it, as several people chime in and woot.
Isobel is quick to introduce herself, as at first she thinks this is the diner’s proprietor, which soon turns out to be false. “Are you up next?” The girl looks at Isobel and shakes the proffered hand. “I’m Ilanna. What are you going to talk about?”
Isobel may be surprised by Ilanna‘s suggestion, but despite that, she gets up and gives a passionate speech about the vacant spaces in the *Captain’s Council*, and how every single one of the districts should be represented in the council. The crowd doesn’t go wild, but most of the people in the diner seem to agree, and one drunken dwarf even gets up, wholeheartedly agrees, and falls over, unconscious.
After this, Isobel walks up to Ilanna at the bar, and offers to buy her a drink. They talk, and Isobel finds out that Ilanna is a student at the Institute and that she’s here on a scholarship. She’s originally from Dairsmuid, which surprises Isobel, who only reveals that she’s also from around there.
Just after 5pm, Isobel isn’t sure how to attract someone’s attention, so she takes a coin, tosses it high in the air and leaves the diner.
At first no one follows, but then a little boy comes out, asks her for money, and then looks pretty disappointed when she doesn’t give it to him. He walks away, bumps into two of them, and starts running when Aveline follows him.
Isobel follows as well, with Orsa being the last of the pack. Aveline is just about to catch up to the boy when he rounds a corner, and she follows suit.
Aveline finds 15SP on the ground and puts them in her purse. Orsa and Isobel realize they are missing 22SP and 23SP respectively, and demand the 15SP from Aveline. She, however, refuses, and so a game of grab and snatch ensues, which ends with Aveline being relieved of more than half her money.
They go back to the diner, and spot a human man to the right, and what looks like a human woman further down the alley on the left.
Isobel approaches the man, and he sarcastically compliments her ability to cause a scene, before he introduces himself as Olias Sandhillow. He is the owner of Olias’s Apparel in the Eastern District, and in need of what he calls a “favor.”
OIias explains that he commissioned the mage who goes by the name Nightshade to concoct a potion. “I should say medicine, actually… for a lady.” It should now be ready. Claiming other engagements in the Merchant District, Olias requests the girls to pick up the medicine for him. Would 8GP—3 now, 5 later—be sufficient?
They accept his offer, and he counts out 3GP from his purse and instructs the PCs to meet him at his place, in the Eastern District, in three hours. He also tells them where Nightshade’s business is located: “Across town, in one of the buildings south of the Field of Honor. You can’t miss it.”
On their way across town, the group realizes that someone is watching them and hides behind a corner. They wait a bit, watch several people pass, until a dwarf walks past and is clearly looking for someone. When he spots them, he backs away into the crowd and disappears.
The girls reach the Field of Honor, a roughly circular plaza three hundred feet in diameter, which is cobbled with rose-colored stone, and the plaza is mobbed with people on foot, in rickshaws, or in carriages.
They walk south, and find that “south of the Field of Honor” is a blind alley framed on three sides by two-story buildings. No doors or windows open onto the alley, and there is no sign of Nightshade’s place of business. There are taverns and regular living quarters, as well as what looks like an armorer.
They decide to start knocking on doors, and when a woman whom Isobel is questioning is about to close the door on them, Orsa pushes her foot into it and keeps the door open. Intimidating the lady, they only find out that she is seemingly scared of this “Nightshade”. “I don’t know nothin’ about no Nightshade." and “That’s a bad ‘un, stay away.” is what the woman reveals.
Once the group has turned their attention from the alley, a figure appears, standing at the mouth of the alley, watching them. The figure is tall and very slender, wearing a long black cloak with the cowl drawn up. Although the face is in shadow, it is obvious to the girls that it is watching them.
When the group notices the figure and moves toward it, it turns and walks slowly into the blind alley. Just before they reach the mouth of the alley, the figure literally vanishes…but a door is now visible in the right hand wall of the alley.
As soon as they notice the door, a previously invisible window above the door opens and a person in a purple robe leans out, calling down kindly, “Well, at last, at last. I’ve been expecting you. Come in, come in. Go straight down the stairs. And hurry.” With that, the person shuts the window. As soon as it closes, the window vanishes, leaving nothing but a blank wall. The door, however, remains.
The large shop on the right of the alley belongs to an armorer. According to all natural laws, the door in the wall should open right into that shop. The fact that it doesn’t says something either about natural laws or about Nightshade’s power. It is obviously impossible for the wizard’s residence to be on the other side of that door…
The door from the street opens onto a large hall, well-lit but with no obvious light sources. The center of the floor is open, looking down into another hall 4m below. There is no balustrade to guard the drop. Across the hall from the door, a stairway leads down, again with no balustrade to guard the opening. Six doors and an open doorway lead from the hall. Standing facing the opening into room 8 is the tall, black-cloaked figure that disappeared in the alley.
The group quickly starts opening doors.
The walls of this room are draped in blue cloth and hung with a profusion of mementos of what you assume are Nightshade’s travels: strangely wrought weapons, weird works of art, ornate robes, and the like. In the center of the room is a large stone with the hilt of a broad sword protruding from it.
Orsa extracts the bastard sword with ease. Isobel inspects it and tells her it’s better than her current sword. She quickly equips it.
Here, the walls are draped in grey cloth. Just inside the door, facing the blank west wall, is a comfortable armchair.
The walls are draped in black cloth. Against one wall is a finely carved oak table and a comfortable chair. On the table are two extinguished candles in gold candlesticks, a quill pen, an ink pot, and a bookrest.
The walls are draped in cloth that seems to be white. Against the south wall, a marble-topped table is covered with the tools of the alchemist’s trade: beakers, burners, flasks, and retorts. All are empty except for one flask half full of what you assume is Nightshade’s latest attempt—an oily grey-green liquid, which smells unbelievably appealing and sweet. The east and west walls are lined with shelves which contain various liquids, powders and other substances.
Isobel decides to try whatever is in that flask, and finds out that the taste of the concoction is utterly unpleasant. For a moment she believes she is a dragon, no, a snake, no, a bird, but then she is simply herself. She spills potion onto floor.
After a lot of searching, Isobel finds 2 lesser healing potions on the shelves, as well as a fire crystal, a container of lyrium dust and a lyrium potion.
Aveline feels for magic in this room, but can’t detect any. She does feel like there is a magical presence nearby, however. Probably in one of the adjacent rooms. She opens the door nearby:
The walls of this room are draped in red cloth, and the floor is inscribed with an oddly shaped pentagram within a magic circle. In the southeast corner of the room is a brazier in which a fire burns.
Aveline immediately feels uncomfortable, and so does her guest. She tries to determine what kind of symbol is on the floor, and realizes that it is most likely a summoning circle. She quickly steps out of the room and closes the door before the others can enter it.
Orsa, in the meantime, inspects another room.
The walls of this room are draped in yellow cloth. Against the east wall of the room is a pedestal on which stands a small gold statue with a demonic face.
She walks in and when she gets close enough she realizes that it is in fact a pride demon statue. She calls to the others, whether they should take the statue, as it could be worth a pretty penny, but they both worry that taking a demonic statue might not be the smartest thing.
Since the figure is partially blocking the entrance to this room, Isobel nimbly slips past and finds herself here:
The walls of this room are draped in shimmering silver cloth. In the center of the room, facing the portal, is a chair on which sits a black-cloaked figure identical to the figure in room #1.
Orsa joins her and watches how Isobel holds out her hand to the figure in the armchair. When it doesn’t move, she leaves the room, with Orsa quickly following.
They decide that they’ve seen enough of this floor, and Aveline and Isobel go down the stairs. Orsa however decides it’s completely fine for her to jump down through the opening in the middle of the room, and waits expectantly for the others once she lands.
The lower hall is as well-lit as the upper, but again no light sources are visible. The room is bare. Doors lead to the east and west respectively.
The group decides to go through the eastern door.
The double doors open onto a richly carpeted room with a 4m high ceiling. The walls are of even richer marble than the other rooms, here veined with gold. The room is lit, again with no obvious source. This time, though, the light is richer in reds, reminiscent of a sunset.
In the center of the room is a large table. Seated behind it is a person dressed in a purple robe—presumably Nightshade.
Nightshade is a handsome person with a shaven head, tattoos and piercing grey eyes. When they move, it is with the power and grace of a lion. Their age is impossible to discern—young enough to remain physically menacing, yet old enough to have witnessed much of their share in life. Their voice is usually quiet, but can take on the harshness of a whip.
Despite their earlier friendly greeting, it is with this voice that Nightshade greets the PCs when they enter. “What in the name of Hades are you doing in here? Out! Out, before I do something you’ll regret!”
Isobel tries to stay friendly and explain why they are here and what they want. However, it seems that this is going to be harder than they anticipated.
Nightshade switches from friendly to hostile and back, all in a matter of seconds. Aveline reaches out with her magic, and senses that Nightshade seems to be bi-polar for magical reasons.
Nightshade asks them to leave several times, and so the group does, returning to the hall.
Isobel is curious and opens the door to the west.
The door to the west opens outward onto a forest scene. The view through the door seems real, but no sounds can be heard.
Aveline decides to step through the door, and finds herself in the forest glade. Isobel stays back, watching as her. Aveline is looking around, and realizes that she can’t find the door anymore. Isobel calls to her as she sees her look around, but it seems that sound does not pass through this door.
Aveline manages to detect the doorframe, however, and so Isobel grasps her hand, pulling her back into the hallway.
The girls discuss how to handle Nightshade, and Orsa suggests simply sneaking in and stealing the potion out of Nightshade’s cloak. Isobel decides to attempt this.
She sneaks back into the room, slipping behind Nightshade seemingly unnoticed. She fumbles around in Nightshade’s cloak, detects what she assumes is the potion, and cuts a hole into the pocket to retrieve it.
Nightshade in the meantime is peacefully snoring, has fallen asleep.
She inspects what is inside by putting a drop onto her dagger. It has no scent or color, and so she fears it might simply be water.
Isobel leaves the room, seemingly undetected.
She shows the others her find and they all decide to get out of the house, whether this is the correct potion or not.
They leave the Nightshade’s residence and when they enter the alley, the door behind them vanishes.
As they get outside, it is dark, but even so, Aveline and Isobel notice that Orsa looks quite a few years older than before, as she seems to be in her mid-thirties.
Aveline and Isobel appear to be their normal age still…