The Heart of Wickedness


Hafnium

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Jan 5, 2011
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#21
The mercenary would only narrowly avoid the desire to stick her tongue out at the tiefling as he took his eyes off Katarina to briefly glance her way. She couldn't even really tell what spawned the desire. Ditte had no real wish to get involved in old bad blood between people who she'd only barely met. If the man caused trouble for Katarina she would, of course, intervene on the latter's behalf because protecting the explorer fell under the list of her contractual obligations, but that didn't mean she was interested in starting fights that might not be necessary just to taunt a double crosser. She supposed she was just feeling particularly smug after her performance in the race and some of it was simply bubbling out in unexpected places.

"Ah. What fortuitous timing," Ditte would remark when the Tymoran priestess arrived to take them somewhere more private. Being the perfect example of nobility and chivalry that she so clearly was, Ditte made a small motion with her arms, wordlessly gesturing for Katarina to go first. She would fall in line behind the other women, yawning and folding her hands behind her head once more as she walked with them to the upstairs alcove. And once there Ditte would allow the other woman to sit first before unceremoniously plopping into her own seat beside Katarina.

She would spare a brief glance toward her coming opponents: four humans, a dwarf, a furball, and a pigeon. Normally she'd have been more studious about all this but there wasn't really enough time before the race to learn about each racer and prepare for them by surveillance alone, so she quickly gave up on that and instead paid her second glances only toward the women--including the tabaxi. The human in black was a particularly fine sight in the mercenary's opinion, though Ditte kept her admiration brief in an attempt to avoid making her companion suspicious of her motives. After all, Ditte was a prim and proper lady. She was not, however, a Lady, a fact of which she informed the serving boy when he addressed her as such.

"Lady Brightwood probably lives on her round arse in a castle having all her needs attended to by the hands of others," she remarked with a grin. "Unfortunately I am not Lady Brightwood but am instead Ditte, who has never experienced such luxuries. Though I will, of course, accept a free drink anyway." But despite her words, the mercenary gently patted the boy on the shoulder after Katarina's cup was set on the table, stopping him from presenting the mercenary's own drink. "On second thought, carrying drinks and messages for nobles seems like thirsty work. I think you should go ahead and enjoy my cup in my place. If someone gives you trouble, just tell them I said that it was a gift from those nobles to me to you."

The mercenary offered a reassuring smile, even though she suspected there was a possibility that she might be passing on a drugged cup to the boy. The business with her companion's tiefling voyeur had Ditte feeling even more paranoid than usual, far too much so to accept even a free drink from a stranger, especially so close to a drawing which his hobgoblin lackey could take part in if the mercenary were to be indisposed for some reason. She briefly considered saying something to Katarina about the possibility, but probably best not to voice her suspicions aloud where others could hear them. Even on the off chance that there was something other than juice in their cups, Ditte doubted that it would be outright poison.

Besides, there was a much more enjoyable way to keep her companion from drinking too much at a time: continuing to tease her. As soon as the serving boy was gone, Ditte would continue her increasingly favored pastime. "I must admit, racing giant lizards and having nobles and what have you butter me up isn't quite how I expected to spend the few nights we'll have before we go venturing off into the jungle. To be truthful, I had rather thought I'd try to find some young, lithe native girl looking for an exotic fling to share a bed with for a few nights. There are at least some benefits to being unbound." A small smile played about the mercenary's lips as she turned to face Katarina. She was still on the fence about whether or not to pursue such a thing with their party's navigator. Relationships with comrades could be... messy, to say the least. Ditte was still perfectly free to try to draw more of those cute reactions out of the equally cute woman while she decided though. "How about you? A pretty young lady like you surely has half a dozen suitors wistfully awaiting your return to the north. Or perhaps a lover? You can tell me. My lips will be forever sealed on the matter~"
 
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BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#22
TEMPLE OF TYMORA

As she scanned the medley of competitors a second time, resting her eyes on the various female competitors, the one in black caught Ditte's gaze and held it for a moment, before nodding slightly and sipping from a private flask at her hip. The bald racer moved over to her and seemed to be trying to engage her in conversation, but she simply looked away, to which he became indignant and stalked off to speak to the dwarf and the overgrown pigeon - person.

Meannwhile, the serving boy grinned at Ditte's words and offer to give the drink back to him - a prospect that he did not seem to balk at. He was a young Chultan teenager, perhaps just into his teens, though it was hard to tell.

"That is a funny thing for a foreigner to say about nobility. We thought you were one yourself, Miss Brightwood."

He took the drink up from the table without drinking it himself and turned to go. As he exited the room, he was putting the drink to his lips, and Ditte noticed a dark, impossibly handsome man watching him hawkishly, before following him out. Other than that, Ditte and Katarina were free to converse without anything else immediately standing out to them.

--------------------------------

MALAR'S THROAT - IN THE GROWING CROWDS

From where she stood, Carla and the priestess were still near the edge of the main laneway down the center of Malar's Throat, the slum district characterised by two sheer cliff faces connected by rope bridges. A continuous crowd of colorful citizens from more affluent parts of the city were converging on the low-class district in anticipation of the Lottery event that would commence soon. For the very rich, large palaquins and processions of armed guards were marching down into reserved areas and scattering beggars and urchins to prepare for the announcements. Carla also saw a specialty dinosaur pen being filled one by one with maginificently decorated giant lizards of all shapes and sizes. People were crowding close to this pen to get a look at the main event racers that would be entertaining everyone tomorrow.

"I am a friend to Fizzben, the halfingly guide for your former party. We had journeyed together before, and I am quite fond of him - and have been distressed at having many ill feelings about his journey. I told Grandfather Zitembe, the High Priest of Savras, about my feelings and visions, but he dismisses them as misinterpreation. I'm just an acolyte, I can't challenge what Grandfather Zitembe says, but at the same time, I feel it so strongly, that I am willing to pay my own way. I can contribute 100gp to pay for myself and my supplies on the journey. Is that not reason enough to bring me along? And as for reading entrails..."

She gives you a cross look with her arms folded. "Is that really what you think us followers of Savras do? Or is it because I'm a Chultan that you have such barbaric assumptions about me?"

Carla was getting the feeling that Inete was telling the truth about her reasons for going to the jungle with them,

-------------------------------

TEMPLE OF SUNE

After having had a quick conversation with Nyali U'lolo, the Head Priestess of Sune, Elethynn was allowed some time to rest in her nearby quarters. It just so happened that the position of the window on her room allowed her to look out onto the majestic cityscape of Nyanzaru and notice the figure of a mud-caked barbarian in a distinctive kilt making his way toward the temple across the bridge. If she wanted, she had time to go down to the front doors and meet him there.

Horas had gotten odd looks from the crowds he had to shove past to get to the temple - as it seemed the majority of the city was migrating to Malar's Throat while he was doing his best to get away from the dinosaurs. Eventually he made his way north west, cresting the top of Temple Hill, a well-to-do area with statues, fountains and a good view of the temples dedicated to Gond, Savras, and Sune, as well as the guarded villas of the Merchant Princes. As he got to the end of the long bridge that connected the mainland of the city to the small island that was the foundation of the Sune temple, two acolytes, a man and a woman rushed up to him with heartfelt sympathy in their eyes.

"Oh good sir, we are so happy you have decided to cast off the ugliness that surrounds you," the man said, far too genuinely.

"It is clear that you need the help of the Goddess of Beauty. You've come to the right place," the female said, patting him on the shoulder. Both try to gently guide Horas to the front door.



 

Tassadar

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Nov 10, 2008
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#23
To the crowds Horas would pay no more heed than was needed to make his way through them, making the occasional effort to remove some of the mud smeared on his body from the fall during the race but having little progress. As such, he was still a mess by the time he arrived at what seemed to be a religious district of sorts, and hardly so much as glanced at the mansions of the princes as he made his way towards the temple of Sune. He paused at the bridge, glancing dubiously at the small island on which the temple sat, before giving a wincing grunt and starting forward again.

As he approached the temple itself, however, he was intercepted by a pair of acolytes. For some reason the sympathy in their tones and expressions soured his mood even further, and he scowled at them and stopped in place. "You... Study... Here, right? Or whatever Sunites do... I'm lookin fer someone, an elf name 'o Elethynn. Said she was comin here today, an' she an' I are part o' a group lookin ter find out what's causing the... Ya know, it don't matter, is she here?"
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#24
The Sunites both nodded their heads in unison, still smiling and preening themselves.

"Ah, the beautiful elven woman, yes, we met her earlier this afternoon. She has been granted temporary residence as a member of our order." The man said.

"I'm surprised that you know her... erm, have you had much chance to benefit from her teachings?" The woman asked dubiously, while her male counterpart opened the doors to the temple, revealing a spacious open floor with a cylindrical arcitecture and angled windows overlooking the tropical Bay of Chult. Throughout the main floor of the temple were various bathing pools, tables for make-up applications, hair stylings, and what seemed to be group exercise classes. A winding, gilded staircase went up to a balconied second floor, and beyond the main bath area was a stairway descending lower as well.

"Please wait here, we shall fetch Elethynn for you, and if she is prepared to meet with you, she will be here shortly no doubt. In the meantime, perhaps you would like us to prepare a, erm... separate bath for you so that we can get rid of some of that mud for you?" The female asked.
 

Tassadar

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Nov 10, 2008
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#25
"Probably the one then, she was a looker she was," Horas replied to the man, before turning another sour look onto the woman that he couldn't quite hold given how well groomed and pretty she was. "Met her this afternoon, so... Not yet. That'd be why I came here," the barbarian replied evenly in explanation, before striding into the temple.

"Yeah... Sure. You gonna be joining me in it then?" He added, ending with a lascivious smirk in the woman's direction.
 
Jan 8, 2011
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#26
Elethynn had a quick conversation with the head priestess, explaining in brief the reasons for her being there before being left to her own devices in her room. Which of course meant that she laid upon the fine bed that she had given and rested, clearing her mind after the incident with Ifan. It wasn't too awful long before something caught her eye as she gazed out the window by the bed... a rather large man, covered in mud and wearing naught but a kilt. She had to chuckle just a bit; of course he would come to a place like this utterly filthy. It would give her fellow clergy entirely the wrong impression of him, and yet there was something charming and earnest about it too. What was a barbarian without some rough edges, after all? And what was a priestess of Sune without trying to smooth them out a bit?

The elf laid in her bed even so, lazily awaiting word of his arrival; she was sure he would mention her to the acolytes out front when they greeted him. Sure enough a knock came to her door, and with a quiet sigh she got up and answered the door, striding down to the front door to greet her guest. "Ah, Horas" she called out when she caught sight of him, "I'm glad you've arrived. I must ask though..." she gave him a once-over, wondering at all the dirt caked on to him, "just what in the world have you gotten into? You look like you've fought a mud elemental!" She knew very little about the hulking man in front of her, and she was intrigued to see how well he fit in...
 

GargantuaBlarg

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Sep 23, 2009
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#27
"Quick to make it like that, aren't you?" came Carla's dismissive reply to the acolyte's aggravated accusations. "It's not -specifically- that you're some follower of Savros, nor that you're a Chultan, no. But you -are- a mystic, gifted with strange and unknowable information I am not privy to - it's why you want to go to the jungle, even. And you -do- dwell here in Nyanzaru. I've found that here, just like back home in Neverwinter, trust freely given only pays back in regret."

Carla beckoned, leading the seer off towards the temple to Sune. She wasn't all too sure where her other comrades were, but she knew the elf had said she'd be there, at least. "I'll take you to speak with one of the others. You'll help fund the expedition, and we'll see if you can find out what happened to your friend. Though, really... My idiot companions marched off without waiting for anything - they probably never learned they needed one of those damned charters, and we certainly weren't provided with the coin for one. The Fists probably beat them to death and left them for carrion out there. Does it really take an omen to imagine something's happened to him? If you ask me, you should maybe consider that that 'Grandfather' of yours just doesn't care."
 

Tassadar

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Nov 10, 2008
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#28
(Barbarian charisma roll for talking to the female Sunite was a 2, for a total of 1. BARBARIAN CHARISMA MAXIMUM.)

"Ahhhh, there yah are!" Horas replied, suddenly ignoring the acolytes that had brought him in and turning to face Elethynn fully once the elf makes an appearance. His smirk ticked slightly at her query as to how he'd become so filthy, but didn't fade. "Bah... Took a try at the races, an' turns out them lizards ain't so easy to handle. Any chance I could get a bit o' help cleanin meself up?"
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#29
Journey from Malar's Throat to the Temple of Sune

"I wish to go to the jungle to save my friend, who was last seen in the company of your associates, and I believe them to be in the Aldani Basin," Inete continued, her mannerisms seemingly put off by Carla's dismissive tone. "My coin should be good enough to satisfy your trust issues, but if that is not enough, consider that the seer abilities of the priests of Savras are not to be dismissed out of hand, an omen from Savros goes beyond a bad feeling. It is a thread of fate tugging at one's spirit."

She casts her eyes away at that last salvo about "Grandfather Zitembe" not caring about her plight.

"This is most likely the case. The Death Curse has caused much suffering, and more suffering occurs everyday even without it. The Jungle is harsh, and it takes its toll in flesh every year. It is painful to see such things in the future, and be powerless to stop them all. Grandfather Zitembe must concern himself with the good of Nyanzaru, not for its individuals. If I am to save Fizzben from the fate I sense, then I must do it by myself."

She stopped short as the pair of them walked up the steps to Temple Hill. Far in the distance, the bridge to the glittering Sunite temple could be seen, but the old, domed and tiled roof of the grand temple of Savras stood in pride of place on Temple Hill, dominating the elevation in the west city and overlooking all but Goldenthrone, the hall of the Merchant Princes.

"Forgive me, but I dislike the thought of going to the Temple of Sune. Their priests can be overbearing at times. I have told you my purpose and what I am willing to contribute. If you wish to consider me a part of your company, I will wait for you here, in the Temple of Savras."

Unless there was anything that Carla wished to do to stop her, the Savrasite inclined her head sadly and walked through the ancient stone doors of the temple, leaving the young adventurer in the center of the temple district.

"Alms for the poor, kind miss? May the gods bless you this night." A disheveled old beggar with a bushy grey beard held out a scabbed hand from the edge of the temple steps.

The temple of Sune still beckoned as the sun was beginning to set against the jungle canopy. It was up to Carla what she wished to do.

-------------------

Temple of Tymora,

As time passed in the racer's section while Katarina and Ditte conversed, there came a point where the crowds started to gather together more packed than ever before and there was an increasing volume of chatter and laughter, getting closer and closer until eventually a procession of people walked through the doorway in the VIP section. A man in rich, flamboyant robes, flanked by a dozen extremely muscled guards walked into the room. What was certainly the cause of discussion was that this man and his guards, while all of them Chultan, had their skin painted bright orange, in a comical fashion, that looked uneven and uncouth, given their supposed status, if the man's robes were anything to go by.

All the racers in the room who were local turned, took one look, and immediately set about stifling shocked or mirthful laughter at the man's expense, save for the dreadlocked man, who openly gripped his sides and laughed loudly. The orange painted noble looked at him, raised his chin and proceeded to strut through the room to where the Tymoran priest officials awaited. Immediately there was a buzz of conversation around the room when the man and his guards were mostly out of earshot.

"Ifan Talro'a...the Merchant Prince of Beasts"

"...he's as orange as a Sadu Fruit!"

"...odd choice when he's addressing the whole city..."

"...I heard from the servants who heard it from the crowd... he's come from the Temple of Sune"

"...Tempe of Sune? Did they play a practical joke? If so, it's brilliant!"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At the Temple of Sune

The idea of joining Horas in the spa pool curdled the pretty acolyte's face like lemon juice in cream. Repulsed, she seemed very thankful that Elethynn had showed up just then.

"I... don't think that would be sanitary... Oh! Elethynn, this man is here for you! I'll leave him in your care. Goodbye!"

The acolytes darted back to their posts, leaving the two companions to walk around the grounds of the temple together.

 

GargantuaBlarg

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Sep 23, 2009
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#30
"Oh? Alright, well, just so you know, I don't imagine the rest of the group turning you down. So, we'll see more of each other, Inete." Carla was fairly sure that was not actually a comfort to the seeress, but it was the polite thing to say. At least, she thought it was.

Carla took a moment, finding something to lean against - some statue to Savros or another, she didn't pay much attention. She'd given the girl a hard time mostly just to test her, and so she closed her eyes and started going over what she'd learned. From that brief interaction, Carla guessed that Inete was dedicated - or desperate - enough to her purpose that a little bit of hardship or abrasive personality wouldn't deter her from it, but was still willing to speak out when she perceived prejudice - foolishness - on Carla's part. Hopefully, that meant that she would be good to work with, and speak up when she thought they were considering doing something stupid - which was good, as she seemed sharp enough on top of being a seer, so she ought to have a fairly good idea of what might be foolish or not. The only issue was that she hadn't quite disproven the 'mysterious and cryptic' nature all the stories said seers like her tended to have. That seemed to always doom someone in the story to some fate or another...


When she passed by the beggar, she stopped when she held out his hand to her. "D'you beg here often?" she asked.

Carla slipped a gold coin from her coinpurse. When she gave it to him, she grasped his hand, smiling, and ready to pull him up onto his feet. She spoke quickly, to cut off the litany of thanks and blessings the unfortunates who still had their minds always seemed to have for those that had money for them. "I'm Carla. You hungry, grandfather? I had some questions, and I thought you might be able to answer some of them while we find a street vendor selling something nice to eat. Maybe you know of a good one nearby?"

Carla put her questions together while they looked. "A woman I was talking to said the Sunites can be 'overbearing'... what did she mean, do you think?" "Do the Savrosites and Sunites not get along?" "I'm still not used to this city - is there anything a foreigner like me ought to keep in mind here?" "What do you think of those races that are happening soon?"

"I'm one of those foreigners, come to plumb the jungle in search of the source of that 'Death Curse'. Have you heard anything that you think I might be interested in?"

"Who are you? What's your name, and where can I find you again? I might have more questions and more coin later, and I would rather give them both to someone I already know..."
 
Jan 8, 2011
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#31
Elethynn chuckled quietly when Horas turned towards her, grumbling in annoyance about the source of all the dirt that caked him. "Hoh! It sounds like quite the trial. Were you thrown from one or did it fall?" she asked, a sly little smile written across her face. "In any case you are in dire need of a washing, and I'd be happy to provide it." The two young acolytes quickly fleeing from the scene now that she was here amused her endlessly; silly youth, trying to get out of work. At least, that was how she looked at it. "Come, follow me. Let's get you to a bath, and hopefully you I won't turn orange. Maybe I can get someone to explain to me all these foreign lotions and things..."
 

Tassadar

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Nov 10, 2008
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#32
"Bah.... Doesn't matter now, does it?" Horas replied with a firm scowl, though the darkening of his expression didn't last long once Elethynn confirmed her willingness to give him some assistance. His expression quickly split into another grin, and as he made to follow the elf his gaze drifted shamelessly down to Elethynn's rear. "Eheheh, well then, why don't we get right down to.... Wait.... Orange!?" His eyes drifted up again as another frown creased his brow, but Horas followed the elf only a little bit more hesitantly. "You, aaah, do know what yer doin here.... Right?"
 

BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#33
Elethynn and Horas made their way to a private room similar to the one that the wood elf had used in her tumultuous meeting with Ifan Talro'a. An acolyte was on hand to guide the elf in determining what bottle was what. Most of them, she already knew, and those that she did not were soon sorted into their various purposes. Then the pair were left alone again, barring any requests.
 

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