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The Inquisitives Rhakir's PBEM game.

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Old 05-15-2012, 04:26 PM
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Arrow Inquisitives - Turn 12

Anslem’s late night visit...

Anselm bid the inquisitives a good evening and headed for home. He’d made some money, which helped him deal with the indignity of having his lab broken into again. He made a mental note to get the front door and lock reinforced. Maybe he should start using magic on the entry. He made enough this evening to afford the components and materials he needed...

Overall, it was an interesting day. He’d gotten a chance to know Hawksley and Wireburn a bit better, and made several new acquaintances. Raena seemed to be caught up in much more than she bargained for and the young artificer felt bad for her. From what he knew of the dwarf, Antos Keldoran was a good man. It seemed a bit unfair that his niece should have to deal not only with his death, but with all the strangers arriving and everything else going on today.

He arrived at his flat at nearly midnight. A note bearing the House Sivis Messengers Guild seal was slid under his door. It was from Mardu.
Mr Anselm d’Cannith,

Lady AuJeunotte wanted me to pass along a warning of danger coming from the direction of the Citadel. We don’t have any more information other than that. I hope this warning does not come too late. I have sent word to Mr Quinn and Sir Wireburn as well.

Be safe,

Mardu Tharashk
Unfortunately, it was a little too late for that warning. He wondered how long ago this note had arrived. Would it have made any difference if he’d stopped at home before going to the lab with the inquisitives?
He let out a yawn and promised himself he’d think more on it later. After a good night’s sleep...

There was a knock at his door.

“Anselm? It’s Jora. Are you there?” Jora d’Cannith was a second cousin, a skilled glass crafter, and a good friend. “Open up. We need to talk.”

Anselm opened the door and ushered Jora inside. He closed and locked the door behind him. “Come in and sit in the kitchen, I’ll make some tea. The water is already hot.”

Jora smiled weakly, and hastily took a seat on one of the tall stools at the counter. She appeared distracted, possibly worried.

As he prepared the drinks, he asked, “What can I do for you?”

She looked up at him, but avoided eye contact after a few seconds.

“I had a...visitor this evening,” she said after collecting her thoughts. Whatever it was she had to say, it weighed heavily upon her. And it showed. “Father said I shouldn’t worry about it, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Do you know anything about prognostic indicators?” The question hung in the air as she studied Anselm’s face; everywhere except his eyes, that was.

Anselm waved a hand, “Of course, I know what they are, but what are you referring to? Do you have a health problem? I’m assuming from your nervousness that you’re not here to share a cup of tea and have a philosophical discussion?” As he poured two cups and passed the lumps of sugar and lemon slices to his cousin, “Out with it, Jora. What’s bothering you?”

“I had a commission to make some...optics,” she explained, searching for the right words. “The specifications were pretty intense. I didn’t understand half of what was written, but I know the optics I was asked to make were to deal with ‘prognostic indicators’ and how to view them. I don’t think it has anything to do with health issues though,” she sighed, realising what he was referring to finally.

“This thing is more like a telescope than a microscope. Some sort of massive viewing set up. And it has me worried...”

Anselm pinched the bridge of his nose. “Are you telling me that you got a really interesting and out of the ordinary contract that was going to be a serious challenge as well as a good bit of money?” After taking a sip of tea, “ Would it be that your contact is Clarice St Claire?

“So, how do you know her?” Jora said, swallowing down her pride. “Working on some sort of new wonder-infusion? Damn, I should’ve known it was all too good to be true.” She sat with her head in her hands.

“Does that mean you had all your work stolen too?” she asked quietly...

Anselm nodded, “Yes, and it was done by someone who knows their stuff to be able to break into my safe. I thought I was the only one too.” He scratched his beard thoughtfully. “I’m a fairly novice artificer in the grand scheme of things. I have this feeling they might be contracting out parts of a whole. I would be interested in seeing your specifications. Let me look into it.”

Jora stared at him, nonplussed.

He focused back on Jora, “How are you handling all this, dear cousin. I hope it wasn’t too traumatizing!”

“Traumatising?” she repeated thoughtfully as she stared off. “That’s certainly one way to put it. I’m frustrated, confused, and ticked off that my lab was broken into and my hard work all stolen. ‘Traumatising’ works. I feel...violated.” She sipped her tea and tried to regain her composure.

“So what happened to you? Did they take anything important?” she asked, starting to feel like herself again. “The optics I crafted were a lot of hard work, I don’t mind saying ‘cause I know you’d understand. I‘d show you the specs, but they were taken along with my work... Al I have are my notes, but they’re incomplete.” Jora sighed into her teacup.

With a somewhat exasperated tone in his voice, Anselm said, “You have notes? I was to combine potions together for cumulative effects. I lost my samples, my notes, all of it and my lab is a shambles. I was successful too! I notified St-Claire too. Since they were quite secretive about the whole deal and the same happened to you, I would assume that she’s in on it.” He shook his head.

Jora nodded. “Sounds likely. That’s a real kick in the teeth...”

“While we are comparing notes, if I said that St-Claire was petite with jet black hair in a severe bun. Very formal, very professional. Does that fit your bill?”

“Jet black hair, tight buns. Yup,” Jora said with a sad smirk, “that was her alright.”

Anselm nodded, “Did she mention anything about her employer to you?”

“Not a word, other than hints that her employer was someone very powerful and influential. I get the feeling there’s a lot more to all of this than either of us realises.” Jora stood up and stretched. It was well past any reasonable bedtime, and it was starting to catch up on her.

“I’m sorry that you got rolled too. I just wish I knew someone that could track that bitch down and see what this is really about...”

With a particularly wicked smiled, he responded, “I do.” He paused, thinking on the next steps, “Would you happen to have anything that she left you? I’m wondering if we can use some form of magic to track her down.”

“No, she didn’t leave anything behind,” Jora sighed. “I thought of that too. One of my ex’s is a mage, and I thought she might be able to help me. But I went over my workshop with a fine toothed comb and didn’t even find so much as a strand of hair. I think that this St Claire woman was being very careful. Too careful...”

***
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:27 PM
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Default June, Mardu, Raena, Altus...

The couple made it to the Keldoran Inquisitive Services office at nearly half past ten. Both June and Mardu noticed some odd looks from a few mercenaries in the area, but ignored it as they didn’t seem to be a threat. But June had a distinct feeling she was being watched as they knocked on the door.

“Good morning,” Altus said as he opened the door for them. “We were wondering if you were going to turn up or not. Please, come in...”

“Sorry,” Mardu muttered. “We had a...busy morning.” Raena glanced at June’s bloodied clothing and was about to enquire when the half-orc shook his head. “We stopped by House Jorasco. She’ll be fine. Thank you.”

Just as they were about to step in, a large and dark shape seemed to slink up behind the paladin. A massive black wolf poked its head past Altus and nearly startled the sorceress and half-orc. Honey-coloured eyes regarded the pair with interest, far too much interest for June’s comfort, then dismissed them with a sniff.

“I suppose that means you can come in,” Altus said by way of apology. “He arrived late last night. Raena can explain.”

“I can?” Raena said with a note of exasperation from behind the desk. The wolf had gone over and set his head in her lap, effectively preventing her from getting up. “Please, come in. I’ll be there in a second.” She then went about the business of trying to convince the wolf to let her up. It eventually capitulated, but only after the priestess took a moment to stroke the animal’s head affectionately.

“You’re with the Watch, aren’t you,” Altus said suddenly, recognising Mardu finally. The paladin seemed quite pleased with himself that he was able to recall where he’d seen the half-orc before. “I recall seeing you at the Watch headquarters a few months back. Have you heard any news about the killer?”

“Killer?” Mardu asked, puzzled. He was more than a little put out that someone had recognised him; he took pride in the fact that most people didn’t know he was a sergeant of the watch.

“The person that killed the watchman yesterday. Hadn’t you heard?” Raena said quietly, giving the paladin a stern Shut Up Before You Put Your Other Foot In Your Mouth look.

Mardu’s face drained of colour, giving her the answer.

“Oh dear. I’m sorry, Mr Mardu. Perhaps we should fill you in on what we found out,” Raena said as she steered June and Mardu to the small sofa. June and Mardu listened quietly while the priestess explained what Han had informed them of the evening before. The half-orc grimaced when he heard the name of the fallen watchman, and clutched June’s hand tightly.

Altus kept quiet, offering an apologetic look to Mardu. The wolf watched all of this with ears lowered, keeping quiet...

***
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:27 PM
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Default Inquisitives Assemble...

It was at about this time that Hawksley and Wireburn made their way over from the Olde Cobbler. The former had a rather worn and tired look about him this morning, having spent a good deal of the wee hours chatting by the fireplace with Ymaine. It was only because the young librarian had literally fallen asleep mid-sentence that the inquisitive insisted that she head home to get some sleep. After securing a private sky taxi to take her straight to Morgrave, the young man finally sought out the warmth of his own bed for a few hours of sleep. Too bad it was too few for his liking...

Wireburn was unaffected by the need for sleep, but was aware of his friend’s condition. The Knight of Steam plied the scholar with strong gnomish coffee and a hearty breakfast to get him going, and insisted they head off to see Raena early. The warforged was ever protective of his companion, and kept a wary eye on the small group of halflings that happened past on the bridge. They were a rowdy group of warriors bragging about who would catch the most prey on their upcoming hunt, but nothing untoward happened; they hardly gave the inquisitives a second glance.

As they came up to Number 5 Cavendish Tower, they came across Durion as the elf disembarked from a sky coach. The elf was squinting at the brightness of the mid-morning sun, seemingly a little more rumpled looking than usual. But his uniform was pressed, and he offered a smart salute to the pair as he fell into stride alongside them.

The trio met up with Anselm at the door. The young artificer was looking a bit nervous at having arrived a little early, and seemed relieved when his acquaintances arrived before he had a chance to knock. Much to everyone’s surprise, a familiar, if average-looking, human arrived as well. Han tipped an imaginary hat at the assemblage, and waited for someone to knock.

The door was answered by Altus, as well as an unexpected, and rather large, black wolf. The wolf gave the newcomers a good long amber-eyed stare before he sniffed loudly and padded back into the office.

“He apparently approves. Please, come in gentlemen,” Altus said with a wry grin. “Raena’s new security system. Very effective at keeping away unwanted bill collectors...”

“Hopefully other things too.” muttered Han under his breath.

Aujeunotte and Mardu looked over from the couch, and Raena glanced up from making tea.

“You’re early,” she said by way of greeting. She looked very tired and seemed a bit distant, but she didn’t appear to be as terribly upset as she was the night before. “I’ll put on some more water for tea. Make yourselves comfortable. Mind the rug; it has a tendency to wander...”

Anselm glanced at the rug and spoke,”I could have a look at it if you like.”

Raena snorted, but held her tongue.

And for barely an instant, Anselm had the impression the wolf was staring at him. But the animal was just staring off, content to let the humanoids go about their business. Was he mistaken about that?...

“Do you have a towel I might borrow? I’d hate to sit and ruin a chair of yous.” Han inquired to Raena.

“Oh dear, again?” Raena said as she glanced over at the changeling. “Let me have a look.”

“Please, allow me to assist you in preparing the tea,” said Hawksley.

“Thank you Mr Quinn. That is very thoughtful of you.” The priestess took a tea towel over to Han and bid him to have a seat. The wolf padded over as well, interested in what was happening.

“And how did you happen to spring a leak from your arm? Another ‘run in’ with the Watch?” Her sarcastic comment was dulled down by her exhaustion, and she appeared only mildly surprised by the look she received from the injured man.

“Actually yes. However this time I cooperated and still got beat and shot. I did, however, manage to get away and lose them long before the appointed time,” Han deadpanned.

“I thought your nose looked a little swollen this morning,” Altus commented dryly. “So, cooperation earns you a beating and getting shot in the arm? Do you think they knew it was you in particular? I assume you didn’t look anything like you did when the watchman was killed yesterday...”

The wolf seemed to be taking an interest in the conversation, watching Altus as he spoke then turning to wait for Han’s response...

“No,” Han said emphatically. “They were out in force. With various patrols and one of them wore some kind of special goggles. You could tell they were looking for any and all. Cooperating didn't help, but I managed to catch them off guard and make a run for it and lose them after the first hit.“

“Lucky for you they weren’t better marksmen,” Mardu commented dryly. He had a deep scowl on his face.

“And no, I didn't look anything like it when I fought the watchmen. Technically I didn't kill anyone.”

“I didn’t say you did,” Altus said plainly. “What do you make of all of this, Sergeant?” the paladin asked, turning to the half-orc.

Mardu shifted uneasily in his seat. June placed a hand on his knee, and he placed his over it, taking comfort in her presence.

“I was not aware that one of our own had fallen yesterday,” he said quietly. Han could clearly see that the muscular half-orc was trying to contain his anger and frustration. “Raena filled us in on what happened. I knew Trask. I trained him. He was a good detective...”

***
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:28 PM
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Default “M”

A thud at the front door made everyone start. A large-ish shadow spread across the frosted window set in the door, and a dark red smear formed as the shadow slid down...

Altus had his sword drawn in a flash, and Raena murmured the words of a spell to bless the immediate area and all those within. The wolf rose and sniffed at the air, but did not make a sound otherwise. Oddly, it seemed to be the calmest being in the office.

***

Hawksley and Wireburn saw a somewhat familiar bugbear on the doorstep. The shaggy behemoth Reginald was facedown in a pool of his own blood, his ill-fitted suit ruined by the unadorned dagger thrust hilt deep in the middle of his back. A note was pinned to the bugbear’s collar.

The angle of the dagger suggested a medium height person used an overhand strike; approximately five and a half feet tall. But the killer had to have a significant amount of strength to sink it in that deeply. Unless there was more to the dagger than met the eye...

The note was written in a familiar hand. Raena and Durion shared a significant look as they read it.
Greetings Inquisitives,

My apologies for the mess upon your step, but it seemed the most expeditious manner in which to gain your attention. Don’t worry, the watchers are otherwise occupied, but unharmed...

You are looking for a killer; I am looking for a worthy challenge. I think we should all get along famously.

Three times, I shall strike. Three chances you will have to stop me. It is too late for this messenger; perhaps you can save the next. Perhaps not.

Allow me to set the stage for you:

Standing tall and proud, he is the pinnacle of his profession, this man would be your comrade. Keen of intellect and sharp of wit; nothing shall escape his sharp eyes. He is surrounded by marks and wards, but has a weakness that can be exploited. He shall pay for all the sins he has committed in the name of justice. Blood for blood, like for like. I shall take this man’s life and leave him an empty husk.

Tick, tock, my dears. Time is running out.

-M

P.S. By the by, the Boromar’s are looking for you. You might want to watch out for low-flying pterosaurs...

The handwriting was neat and did not appear to be rushed; the note was written before Reginald the bugbear was killed.

***
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