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Part 1, Act 1: Scenes 1-5
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Thread: Part 1, Act 1: Scenes 1-5

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    Post Part 1, Act 1: Scenes 1-5

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    Achetii

    Achetii was enjoying the view, flying high on thermals rising from the mountains surrounding the sprawling city of Masaeus, easternmost city of the Kingdom of Vulkh. Her animal companion soared with her, always together, as Keu and common birds were dear cousins.

    Her birds-eye view of the city was breathtaking, positioned beside the broad Arosis river between the peaks of the neighboring low mountains in a spot where the rising sun had an early chance to shine its rays on it. Though not the capital, it could well be with the largest population of any city in Vulkh. Close to thirty thousand people lived in that fine web of streets below.

    As a bard, it was her business to know things, and Achetii had done her best to study Vulkh before she dared come near it. A dangerous realm it was, ruled by the hated enemies of her race, the Vul. Achetii took care to keep east of the river while she was aloft, because any being or creature who dared to fly above the Kingdom of Vulkh (other than the Vul themselves) would be brought down by the Vulkyrie. An elite military force of seasoned Vul fighters trained in aerial combat.

    Flights of Vul were known to take down Dragons, even before they were trained as Vulkyrie, so Achetii had no doubt they could deal with an interloper like herself as easily as a bat could hunt an insect. Indeed Keu were a favored delicacy for the Vul so if she wasn't careful her life would end as a tasty snack. The thought made her nervous, so Achetii decided not to linger in the air any longer where her presence would attract attention and descended towards the river.

    A massive stone bridge crossed the Arosis, built by neighboring dwarves of the Torgrimm Dwarfholds who also had a town on the eastern bank known as Elibin. She would have to enter Vulkh on foot crossing the bridge with the usual crowd of travelers and merchants.

    Keu were smaller winged humanoids, covered with intricate patterns of bright feathers. They had little use for clothing, as their own feathers were much better insulation, but some Keu took to wearing garments purely for their style. As a bard Achetii usually made her living attracting attention but this was not the place for that. Achetii had no illusions about how dangerous Vulkh was for a Keu.

    For millenium the Vul had hunted her people to the brink of extinction. Where once they roamed the skies in flocks so massive they blotted out the sun, they were lucky now to assemble in flocks of a few dozen or less. Keu spoke of the kingdom of Vulkh like men spoke of hell, and were just as eager to avoid it, but Achetii risked it because she was on a quest to take revenge on the Vul.

    The Kingdom of Vulkh was named after an albino Vul who seized power from a cruel and vainglorious king Hamza, slain by the great Land Dragon Khetsara Akular, which meant "mother terror" in the old Akhenaten language. The legend of Vulkh's rise to power two thousand years ago was well known in these lands, but Achetii knew there was much more to the story. She knew King Hamza had an heir, a son who went missing who should have inherited the crown from his father. After such a long, long time no one believed Hamza's descendents survived and the people of Vulkh had no one qualified to lead them in an uprising against the Vul. But Achetii had hope to the contrary.

    Keu were revered as the best long-distance messengers on Sion. Why send a raven when a Keu could fly just as fast and carry much more? Most Keu hired themselves out as messengers at some point in their lives because they were in such high demand they earned a tidy income. Achetii was no different, and it helped her primary profession as a bard to travel as much as possible in between performances.

    Some days ago Achetii was hired to carry a package from a desperate Akhenaten sage in the Kingdom of Nefer here to the city of Masaeus. She then witnessed the murder of that sage by agents of the Vul the sage warned her about called the Vulfear. A group of assassins, enforcers, informants and spies that tirelessly investigated any threats to the Vul and their king.

    Her better judgement told Achetii to abandon the job and get as far away from the Vulfear as she could, but her curiosity and desire for vengeance after what the Vul did to her in the past got the better of her and she read the letter sent along with the package, addressed to someone named Purusartha. The letter said the following:
    __________________________________________________ _____________________________________________

    Purusartha,


    I hope this letter finds you well, for I will likely be dead by the time you read this.


    I know the name of the last direct descendant of King Hamza after all these years. It seems Hamza's heir, Hezek, lived out his life such a long time ago hiding in a remote mountain village beside the valley of Sammara. He took a wife and died from old age, and told no one of his true identity.


    However he must have hid and buried his princely trappings before he died because they were found a hundred years later by a village goat herder named Ekiah who also happened to be Hezeks great great grandson. These items included Hezeks royal seal, a jeweled dagger, a jeweled golden crown, and a jeweled golden key.


    The young goat herder had no idea what to do with such treasures so he brought them back to show to the village elders. The elders debated at great length and decided they should not keep them. Instead they would give them to a lesser king, king Djoud, of a nearby Sammaran city-state as a gift. Ekiah was sent along to do this.

    King Djoud was taken aback by the gifts the villagers had for him. Those few treasures could pay to feed his city and the surrounding province for at least a year. "How did you come by these?!" He asked Ekiah, who explained that they were buried near the village behind his family's home where they kept their goats.


    King Djoud was intrigued by the mystery of the buried treasure and he questioned Ekiah at length about his family and his village but of course no explanation about the buried treasure was forthcoming. The only clue Djoud had about who might have buried it was Ekiah's statement about his great-great-grandfather being a stranger from a foreign land.


    Djoud took a liking to Ekiah because he had no heirs and insisted that he stay with him at his palace for a while longer as his guest. In the meantime Djoud inspected the treasures more carefully concentrating on the royal seal. The kingdom of Summara was overthrown a hundred years before by the Vul, but Djoud believed the seal might have belonged to one of its nobles.


    He made inquiries about Summara and came to the conclusion that his guess was right. He even uncovered the rumor about Hamza's heir, Hezek, going missing during the coup and confirmed the seal belonged to him. And that made him wonder about Ekiah. Djoud was very excited about the possibility that this simple goat herding boy might be the lost-heir to a much larger and wealthier kingdom then his own.


    But Djoud had erred when he started asking such specific questions about Summara and King Hamza's lost heir. Word was on its way to the Vulfear, but in the meantime Djoud had no idea what sort of danger he was in. He was drunk on the possibilities of wealth and power Ekiah might be entitled too.


    He intended to adopted Ekiah as his heir as soon as possible, sending invitations to the other lesser kings of the valley of Sammara to attend the ceremony. It occurred within a fortnight, a grand event which confused the other kings. Why was Djoud so happy adopting a goat herder as his heir?


    Afterwards however, Djoud gathered the other kings together in a secret meeting and informed them of his secret plan to reclaim the Summaran region for himself in the name of his adopted son, who was the true heir to the Summaran throne. He asked for their support, and suggested an alliance, because a war with the Vul would endanger them all.


    However, even as the other kings pondered what to do, it was already too late. The Vulfear had already infiltrated Djoud's palace and sprang upon the kings, just as a flight of Vulkyries descended from the night sky like nightmares setting the city aflame and distracting the palace guards.


    As heir to Djoud's throne, Ekiah was supposed to defend the city, but it was not in his heart to do so. He knew now why king Djoud had shown him such kindness. It was the same reason all these innocent people would die, for the sake of greed.


    A greed that he wanted no part of. He knew the best thing to do for these people would be to go into hiding just as his great-great grandfather had done. The Vulfear would never stop tracking him and they would kill anyone he was known to associate with. To protect everyone he cared for meant he had to disappear. So Ekiah left through a hidden passage, taking his inheritance, his great-great grandfathers treasures with him.


    Nothing else about Ekiah's life is known, but he had many descendants and most of them were known to be shrewd about keeping a low profile. Not all of them did however, and over the centuries many were killed by the Vulfear. My own inquiries about them have also doomed me, but the Vulfear were not the only ones listening and following my progress.


    Another of Hezeks descendents found me last night and brought me Hezeks treasures. He told me the Vulfear were near and that he must send the treasures someplace they would never expect, the Kingdom of Vulkh itself. I tried to explain who I was, who we are, but there was no time. I hope he did not let himself be captured alive.

    He told me the true heirs name was Asher Caldarus, a sky half-dragon, who is already on his way to Masaeus as I write this. It seems Asher was secretly being groomed and trained to lead an uprising without any idea of his true destiny.


    Amazing isn't it that the descendents of Hezek have been hiding all this time without any knowledge of us? And yet, have still had the same plans and goals as we have! It is a shame our first meeting took so very long to transpire. I pray it will not be the last. But that depends on you, you must find Asher Caldarus and give him these treasures. He is the only one who can use them to destroy the Vul and free the Summaran people!
    __________________________________________________ _____________________________________________
    Last edited by Narayan; 12-15-2013 at 12:09 AM.

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    Intro for Dark Days in Sion Characters - Sauel Coran

    Sauel Coran

    As the rays of the rising sun bathed the city of Masaeus Sauel Coran was already making his way down from the stony cave he used for shelter last night. Even miles away, on the eastern side of the Arosis river, Sauels extraordinary lupine sense of smell could detect the great congealed population of many thousands of people living in cramped proximity.

    As a druid, Sauel had no desire to explore human cities. His place was out here among the trees and stones of nature. As a werewolf however, he had to be careful not to be too conspicuous. A stranger all alone out on the fringes of society would attract more notice than just another traveler in the crowd trying to enter the city.

    Sauel still wasn't sure venturing into the Kingdom of Vulkh was a good idea. But his adopted werewolf clan, a weeks travel further east, sent him here on an important errand. He was to deliver a small package to a man in Masaeus named Purusartha.

    Sauel had no idea what was in the package, but the leader of his clan, the Alpha, bid him do it and so he would. "Come along Rabi." Sauel said to his animal companion, a young salt-and-pepper-gray wolf who lingered by the cave sniffing the air. Rabi whined loudly and Sauel said, "Yes I know, I don't like it any more than you do. But its either you come along or stay here, and I know you'd hate leaving my side even more than the city itself."

    It looked likely that the great stone bridge he had to cross belonged to the Dwarves on this side of the river. As he neared the dwarven town he had to pass through to reach the bridge he knelt down and affixed a leash-and-collar around Rabi's neck prompting more complaints.

    "Don't whine about it. You know its necessary. People fear wolves and they don't expect anyone would tame one as a pet. Even assuming they trust your tamed, there's no way people would allow any wolf to walk the same streets as their children without a leash."

    "That's a fine pet!" Someone nearby said loudly startling Sauel and Rabi both. ~How did he get so close without being detected!~ Sauel asked himself turning towards the sound of the voice unconsciously reaching for his scimitar.

    "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you. I guess I was downwind I wasn't paying attention." The man said pushing off the rock he was leaning on and stepping out of the shadows.


    Sauel narrowed his gaze to get a better look at the man as Rabi whined and growled softly in his throat. He was Akhenaten, a couple inches shy of six feet in sandals, with long unkempt graying hair hanging over his face in long bangs, meeting with a thick grey beard around his jaw. He seemed rather spry for someone in their late forties and the heavy compound bow he carried on his back seemed to indicate he had some strength left in his aging limbs as well.

    "Who are you?" Sauel asked tightening his grip around the hilt of his scimitar at his hip while his other hand gripped Rabi's collar ready to hold him back, or release him, he wasn't sure yet.

    "I believe you have something for me." The man said stepping even closer. Close enough to smell... no fear. His common desert garb was well worn, torn full of holes from years among the rocks and thorny desert shrubs.

    "You? You're Pur..." Sauel started to say.

    "I am he." Purusartha said, interrupting Sauel as if he didn't want to have his name uttered aloud. Purusartha kept his hands open and at his sides in a non-threatening fashion, stepping close and smiling at Rabi, who still growled softly until Purusartha offered a hand for the young wolf to sniff. Sauel released his grip on his collar and petted his head calmly.

    "Sorry. He's a bit young and unused to strangers." Sauel apologized.

    "Well it's good to be wary around here." Purusartha said with a flick of his eyebrows and a wide grin revealing missing teeth. His skin was deeply tanned and leathered in the way that only many years beneath the sun would do. His eyes were also strange, one being a different shade and color than the other.

    "I wasn't expecting to meet you out here. I thought I was supposed to meet you at a tavern, the..." Sauel started to say before the old man interrupted him again.

    "I wasn't sure they would let you in the city with your pet."

    "How did you know I would be bringing a pet?" Sauel asked.

    "The same way I knew I was downwind of you." Purusartha said matter-of-factly with a little wink. "I observed."

    Sauel nodded and cleared his throat. "Well I suppose you'll be wanting this..." He said shrugging out of his pack.

    "And what is it that I am expecting?" Purusartha asked. Sauel paused.

    "Don't you know?" Sauel asked.

    "Why don't you just tell me?" The old man said smiling again disarmingly.

    "Err, well I don't know exactly. I didn't open it. It's just a small package." Saul answered.

    "Oh, well who gave it to you?" Purusartha asked.

    Sauel frowned. ~What is with this guy? He's asking weird questions. He should know who the Alpha is if he's expecting a package from him. But maybe he doesn't know? Should I tell him? I'm not supposed to reveal clan members names to non-weres.~

    "It's ok, I just want to make sure its from who I think it is." Purusartha chuckled.

    "And that is?" Sauel asked. Purusartha's smile dropped slightly.

    "Look kid, no need to get smart." The old man said.

    "I meant no offense, but its a fair question." Sauel replied.

    "I asked you first." Purusartha said.

    "Now your the one being smart." Sauel said. "I came a long way to bring you something. Now its just a simple question between giving it to you, or walking away. Your choice."

    "I'm pretty sure it was the Alpha that gave you something for me." Purusartha said.

    ~He knows what an Alpha is! Does that mean he knows what I am?~ Sauel asked himself suddenly feeling a bit nervous.

    "I've never heard of someone by that name. I'm sorry I guess you aren't who I thought you were. I'll be going now." Sauel said backing up a step pulling Rabi back with him. ~I don't think I'm doing the wrong thing. Security is the first priority, is what the Alpha always says.~

    "That's ok, I suppose I didn't need to ask." Purusartha said raising his hand as if in apology.

    ~Eh? What is that supposed to mean?~ Sauel asked himself starting to turning away when the old man added.

    "...because I already got it."

    Sauel stopped moving as if he was suddenly paralyzed. Rabi, sensing his tenseness started to growl again. ~Got it? Got what? I didn't give him anything!~ Sauel thought to himself his mind racing. He turned back to look at Purusartha and the old man was holding a familiar looking package. The same package the alpha gave him over a week ago. ~How the hell?!~

    "You didn't do so bad. I've seen worse. Not every young pup has the smarts to avoid direct questions about the pack. Here's a piece of advice for you though. Stuff things you don't want stolen in your shirt at night, never in your pack. That's the first place someone would look. I suppose you never imagined anyone would get close enough to rifle through your stuff though. Especially not with your pet lying beside you." Purusartha said chuckling.

    ~Of course! That's why Rabi was sniffing the air and whining this morning! And that's why he started growling at Purusartha when we met him. He recognized his scent!~ Sauel thought to himself.

    "So this was a test?!" Sauel asked, feeling a bit sheepish.

    "Of course it was. Everything is a test. Life is a test. Especially for werewolves like you and me."

    "Your a werewolf?... I didn't sense you at all..." Sauel said.

    "And that is another lesson. Expect the unexpected. You will learn. I will teach you." Purusartha said smiling.

    "I wasn't told I was coming here to learn anything?" Sauel said a bit confused.

    "And that is another lesson. Everyday there is something new to learn. Often when we aren't prepared for it."

    "But who gives you the authority to tell me anything? The alpha did not say you were my superior, or even a friend of the pack."

    "Am I your superior?" Purusartha asked with a raise of his brow.

    "I... guess so..." Sauel said meekly.

    "And why is that?"

    "Because you are older than me, wiser, more powerful, etc."

    "Good. That is good. You are able see things as they are. And not what you expect them to be. Earlier, when you first saw me I could see you were ready to dismiss me as a strange old hermit of no consequence. Even though, moments earlier, I could have stuck half a dozen arrows in you before you even knew I was there. Trust nothing, especially your own eyes, and always be on your guard." Purusartha said.

    "And last night I suppose you could have killed me then too..." Sauel said feeling a weight in his stomach.

    "As easily as someone could smother a sleeping infant." Purusartha said grinning. "But lets not dwell on that. Why don't we open this little package from our mutual friend and see why he sent you here? Here, I'll let you." Purusartha said stepping close once again and handing it to him.

    Sauel took it but paused a moment to examine the ties and wrappings to be sure they were undisturbed. They were not.

    "Can you tell me why I didn't open it?" Purusartha asked Sauel.

    "So that I would know you didn't open it."

    "And why would I do that?"

    "So I would trust you."

    "Do you trust me?"

    "Not really no..."

    "And does this package change anything in that regard opened or not?"

    "I don't know. I haven't opened the package yet..."

    "Ah... so now you see. I expect something in this package will help you trust me. Which is why I didn't open it."

    Sauel nodded and opened the package. Inside the leather wrappings was something wrapped in folded parchment sealed with a waxen seal. On the seal was the mark of the Alpha of his pack. It was undamaged.

    Purusartha commented. "You won't see a seal like that too often so let me explain. It's wax yes, but its mixed with the Alpha's essence. Sniff it for yourself."

    Sauel did as he was bid and sure enough he detected the strong scent of the Alpha's blood from the little package.

    "We do that to be sure its not a fake. Now open it."

    Sauel did so, and unwrapped the parchment revealing a medallion.

    "Let me see that please." Purusartha said taking it in his fingers. Carefully he lifted it off the parchment so gingerly that Sauel found himself staring at the medallion mesmerized.

    "It's not the medallion you should be looking at young pup. It's the bit of fur the Alpha put underneath it." Purusartha said smiling. And sure enough, there was a tiny tuft of black wolfs fur, the same type the Alpha had on the parchment. "That's another trick you can do to add a secret meaning to a message." Purusartha said. "And now for the final test...." The old man said holding the medallion in his hands examining it in such a way that Sauel could not see. "What is your name?"

    ~What's this? Another test? Why is he asking?~ Sauel thought to himself wracking his brain.

    "My name is Sauel Coran."

    Purusartha nodded and held the medallion up for Sauel to see. It was rather plain, carved from bone with a wolf's head on one side and a name carved on the other. It looked like his name.

    "Is this your name carved in the back?" He asked.

    "Yes.... wait... err, no, it's misspelled. But yes that's my name."

    "No would be the correct answer. Do you really think the Alpha went through all this trouble and couldn't spell your name correctly? He obviously misspelled it on purpose."

    "But why?" Sauel asked.

    "Plausible deniability. You can't be forced to admit a name is your name if it's misspelled, even through magical means. And if you hadn't noticed your name was misspelled at all, you could easily be an imposter."

    "But how did you know it was misspelled?" Sauel asked, then added. "...The fur!"

    "That's right. So now that we know that you are who you say you are, shall we read what the message says?" Sauel nodded.

    __________________________________________________ _____________________________________________

    Sawel Coran,

    I adopted you into my pack and raised you for many moons. But now the time has come for you to prove yourself worthy of us.

    From this day forth you will follow this man like a shadow. This means, you will do whatever he asks of you, and learn whatever you can from him, so long as he holds this medallion. The day you can take that medallion from him and bring it back to me is the day that he has nothing more to teach you, and the day you are ready to return to this pack.
    __________________________________________________ _____________________________________________



















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    Post Intro for Dark Days in Sion Characters - Yorick

    Yorick

    "There it is." Astaroth the Angul said as they crested a rise in the road and the city of Masaeus finally came into view as a pool of fiery lights beneath the starry night.

    "It's big." Yorick said, raising his nose unconsciously to sniff the breeze a bit.

    "Stop that!" Astaroth cursed reaching for his scourge. Yorick instantly crouched into a defense posture and growled. Shackled or not, he was not going to abide another scourging. Astaroth merely laughed.

    "I've told you a thousand times since I sprang you from that pit, no sniffing! People catch you doing that and a scourging will be the least of your problems trust me."

    "But there's no one around." Yorick said. To which Astaroth replied.

    "Don't make no difference. It's not a habit you can afford to have. Not until I turn you over to your buyer. Then you can do as much sniffing as you like and get yourself burned alive for all I care. But get yourself caught before then, and I'll make sure you die before I do. That's a promise, and I keep my promises." Astaroth said with a wicked smile, revealing teeth sharpened in the Angul fashion, designed for gnawing on humanoid flesh which was their prefered diet.

    Angul eyes were also eerily devoid of black pupils which always raised the hackles on Yorick's neck. Those eyes were so alien, so inhuman, they haunted his dreams. How many years now had he watched so many of those eyes watching him? How many years had he heard their sickening, perverse voices screaming for blood and cruelty? How many years had he obeyed them. Killed for them. How many other pairs of eyes more like his had he dulled with death? How many?

    "Hey! Snap out of it you ignorant brute!" Astaroth said yanking on the chain holding Yoricks shackles. "You don't rest until I say you rest!" But then, after a moment looking around Astaroth added. "...I suppose this is as good a place as any to camp for the night. We'll approach Masaeus in the morning when we're not so weary and the guards are not inclined to be grouchy being bothered in the middle of the night."

    Astaroth led Yorick away from the road a ways to a shallow depression in the earth beside some stones. "Lay there! Face down! Don't move!" Astaroth ordered pointing at the hollow. After Yorick obeyed Astaroth began attaching little metal bells to the links of his chain laying it out to its full length of eight feet. "Ok, get comfortable." Astaroth said as he did the same.

    Yorick rolled over again, wriggling a bit to avoid the worst of the lumps in the ground, and as he moved the bells tinkled.

    "Good. Now be quiet, and don't move, or I'll come over there and club your skull until you do." Astaroth said point-of-factly. "You know I will, cause you'll just heal up again." He muttered.

    Before long, Astaroth's regular breathing had become soft snoring but sleep would not come so easily to Yorick. Tomorrow would be the start of a whole new life to another master. A human master, and that made all the difference to Yorick. He hated the Angul with a passion that ached inside his bones. He wanted to kill them all, Astaroth most of all.

    It was Astaroth that originally captured him, his mark was still burned into the side of his neck because it was put there before he manifested his powers as a natural born werewolf. Yorick had no idea how long ago that was, but he was just a boy then, whereas for a few years now he had stopped sprouting taller and growing into a man.

    Astaroth had told him once that he was Ahuran. A northerner from the frozen land of Ahura across the icy sea. He did not explain much about his people beyond that except that they had the same ancestors, before his people were imbued with the blood of the otherworldly being named Angul which made them stronger, fiercer and capable of healing themselves eating humanoid flesh. He said the Angul were destined to feed on all the Ahurans someday, as the price for disrespecting their creator.

    Yorick remembered little about his childhood before he was captured. He vaguely remembered having parents, siblings, and friends, but he didn't like to think about them much because he watched most of them die at the hands and teeth of his captors, or worse, be kept in the pit together to eventually kill each other for their captors amusement.

    The night Yorick ought to have died, when he had no strength left and his mind and body were wracked with pain from a dire sickness, was the night the full moon suddenly manifested his powers. It was the wolf inside him that brought him back from the brink of eternal night. The wolf who wanted to live and howl at the moon. The wolf within who gave him strength to live all these years. The wolf within who was his only friend and companion.

    Yorick became Astaroth's prized slave after that night. Werewolves, or Wolf-men, as the Angul called them, were a rare specimen to catch alive. Usually they could only catch them when they were children, but there was no way of knowing what they were until they changed for the first time. Yorick wondered sometimes if it was likely that his siblings, and friends, were also wolf-men. How unfortunate for them that they did not live long enough to change as he did. For his powers were the only thing the Angul valued about him. The only reason they kept him alive.

    So why now, was Astaroth selling him? Why did he break him out of his cell in the pit of the arena and kill other Anguls to help him escape? Yorick could not fathom what Astaroth was thinking. He would be hunted now, by other Anguls, and that was no good for either of them. Yorick wished he could shift into his wolf form at this moment, the shackles would slide off easily then, and he could slink over nice and quiet to where Astaroth was sleeping and rip his throat out. But that was impossible so long as Astaroth's kept his iron collar locked around his neck with its sharpened silver-plated spikes, designed to strangle and fatally wound him if shapechanged.

    Tomorrow. Yorick reminded himself. The collar comes off tomorrow. And then finally he slept.






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    Intro for Dark Days in Sion Characters - Asher Caldarus

    Asher Caldarus


    Asher Caldarus had an alluring inhuman charisma about him. He was lithe and tall, with striking silver hair framing a young, handsome face with intelligent, crystal blue eyes. His dark horns were probably his most striking feature, but there were also translucent silver-blue scales under his eyes with patches elsewhere on his body marking him as a half dragon.

    Asher knew he was a descendent of King Hamza, and that made the vulture-like usurpers of his throne his sworn enemies. But there were other things he did not know, things he needed to learn, which is why he was appoaching the borders of the Kingdom of Vulkh, previously the Kingdom of Summara, which it would be again if he had his way.

    Asher had an aura of confidence and determination about him, but not arrogance. He was a prince yes, but not the sort of foppish prince that spent his days in pampered luxury. He was an exiled prince, a hunted exiled prince, and no one ever put a silver spoon in his mouth.

    Asher was born in a remote high mountain stronghold that belonged to his sky-dragon mother, Marasistha Highbryll. Asher never met his father, Marasistha said he died, but when he was old enough she explained that he was killed by the Vulfear, who would never cease in their search to find and kill him too.

    Marasistha grieved his fathers death but she told him that it was his responsibility to avenge him. "I cannot fight this battle for you." She said before he left. "The Vul already killed one dragon who attacked them for the sake of her child. It's likely the same would happen to me, and then I would really be no help to you. At least while I live you always have a refuge up here on this mountain." She added.

    But Asher had no interest in living out his life in hiding, nor under the protection of others. He prided himself on his self reliance, which is why he spent so many days and nights fending for hiself in the wilds of Akhenaten learning the skills of a Ranger. But he also learned all he could about being a Rogue, and he was just as capable fending for himself in city streets. Skills that would serve him well gathering information and infiltrating the cities of Vulkh.

    The first city he had to investigate was Masaeus. It may not be the capital of Vulkh or the seat of the current Vul monarch, King Vulperion, but it had the largest population and the most powerful human merchant-lord, baron Zomok. A man who might be Ashers strongest ally against the Vul, if he could turn him.

    But that was a far-fetched plan at the moment. For now, he had to learn as much as he could about Vulkh at the street level, in amongst the commoners and slaves. He had to get a pulse for what they needed, what they wanted, and figure out a way to use their desires to help him help them.

    It was the start of a dangerous endeavor to be sure, but Asher knew this was his destiny.

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    Post Dark Days in Sion Part 1, Act 1, Scene 1: Entering Masaeus



    Continent of Akhenaten - Kingdom of Vulkh - 500th year of the 3rd age
    Morning of April 9th


    (Achetii, Asher, Sauel)

    As usual every morning, Torgrimms Dwarfbridge is crowded with every manner of merchant and traveler trying to cross the Arosis River into, or out of, the great city of Masaeus. Gateway to the east and largest city in Vulkh, ruled by Baron Zomok, the most powerful merchant-lord in the kingdom.

    The bridge is guarded laxely on the eastern side of the river by dwarven sentries operating out of a stout tower-and-guardhouse. The tower is fit for a dozen or so sentries, with room for stores and shelter for their hardy war ponies. There is no actual gate at this side of the bridge, but there is a very heavy iron chain pulled across the way at sundown. Each dawn, the dwarves remove the chain opening the way for merchant traffic and begin collecting toll. There is a sign posted with the toll costs in dwarven and common.

    10gp per ladden cart
    5gp per unladden cart
    1gp per ladden pack animal
    1sp per horse or unladden pack animal
    1cp per person. (Children are free)
    No cost for small pets. (Larger pets at sentries discretion)
    NO REFUNDS!

    The dwarves seem less concerned with foot traffic as they are cart traffic. There are six sentries out on watch at sunup regulating bridge traffic. Two pairs stand at either side of the bridge entrance, and another two attend the toll booth off to one side. The toll booth is of sturdy make, designed to handle foul weather and keep the toll collectors in the shade but is otherwise very plain.

    The toll collectors focus on speaking with and collecting toll from the merchants while the other pairs of sentries handle horse and foot traffic. They don't bother to speak to the travelers unless they are asked a question and do not personally take the toll either. Instead they stand by three metal buckets with a slot in the top held up by a metal stand. One for copper, one for silver, and one for gold. The buckets appear quite plain, but they are actually magically enchanted. If someone drops in a false coin, or the wrong type of coin, the bucket will glow and sound an alarm. That is why the sentries appear so lax because the biggest part of their job is handled by the magic buckets.

    The dwarves here are not so concerned with questioning suspicious looking characters either. It isn't their job to keep undesireables out of Masaeus, so they don't bother to stop or question anyone as long as their coin drops in the bucket with the usual tink. Thus, none of you have any trouble on the eastern side of the bridge. (Each of you please subtract 1cp for the toll)

    The bridge itself is a wonder of engineering. Giants couldn't conceivably fit and carry blocks of stone this massive, but somehow dwarves managed it. The bridge is wide enough for three lines of wagons to pass abreadst without trouble, and high enough above the river for a masted ship to pass beneath. The Arosis river itself is almost a quarter mile wide, with a deep strong current that makes swimming it a risky proposition. Those who try, will at best be carried downstream a good ways away from where they intended to land, and usually drown.

    At the other side of the bridge is where things get hairier. An impressive stone keep rises from the rocky outcropping of the western shore beside the bridge, with two gatehouses extendeding from it across the bridge. From its lofty rampart heights, beneath the fluttering flags of Vulkh, you spot two Vulkyries scanning the faces in the crowd with eagle-like eyes. It seems easy to imagine how easily the portcollis' in these gatehouses could be dropped on the bridge trapping you between them like rats in a trap. However, since you don't fit the profile of a wanted fugitive or make a scene, the Vulkyries might as well be statues and the portcollis' remain up.

    From the bridge itself you have a breathtaking view of Arosis bay, with its many flat-bottomed river barges and ships busy with morning commerce along with a veritable flotilla of fishing boats. The water in the bay is deep crystal blue, constantly moving in a current pulled by the river, which makes it much cleaner and fresher than you might expect beside a huge city. Rumor has it there are dangerous creatures beneath these glassy waters that feed on fishermen as much as the fishermen feed on fish.

    Beside the busy docks are natural cliffs that hold the city above the bay and form a natural defense as good as any wall. The cliffs are riddled with caves, several of which have been tunneled out into mines. Rumor is, the whole city sits atop an even more massive underground network of caverns. Though, rumor also says these caverns are far more dangerous than the city streets above.

    Atop the cliffs are the homes and businesses of over thirty thousand souls, neatly set up along arrow-straight streets and beautifully flagstoned squares. Rumor has it the dwarves built this city for the Vul during the second age after the Summaran king was overthrown. It took a decade to plan its layout to exacting Vul specifications, with an inner district of towering palaces at its center from which Vul can fly to any part of the city in the shortest amount of time possible.

    No time was spared laying out its streets and foundations either, so while it took a century to build, it would look nearly the same after an entire age had passed. And indeed it is true, the city is in such remarkably good condition it seems ageless. One reason this is so however, are the Laws of Vulkh, with their harsh penalties for arson and vandalism. You see these laws engraved in a massive stone tablet before the first gatehouse on the western side of the river.



    After you pass through the mid-gatehouses you approach the gates to the city itself on the western bank. These gates shut at sundown and open at dawn, but there is a smaller sally-door within one of the gates that can be used by late night visitors. Two more Vulkyries watch above from these towers, and occassionally exchange a horn blow at the others you already passed beneath as some kind of all-clear signal.

    Past the city gates another toll has to be paid for admittance into the city. The Vul charge three times more than the dwarves do to use their bridge. (Please subtract another 3 copper pieces for the toll into Masaeus). Large warehouses are arranged to your left where merchants can store and sort their goods. Past that is the famous slave market, but for the moment there are more important things to do than sightseeing.
    __________________________________________________ ________________________________________

    Intermission

    (Achetii, you were told that Purusartha can be found at the Tavern of Endless Thirst. You aren't sure where that is, so you'll have to ask for directions. Just a basic gather information check. I don't have a character sheet for you yet so I can't roll anything for you. But assuming its done before the posting deadline this Sunday at midnight, you can start off by making that roll yourself.)

    (Asher, you are free to do your own thing here until Achetii meets Purusartha and gives him the information he needs to find you. Or perhaps, if you want to speed things up, you might try and come up with a reason to bump into him or spot him now.)

    (Sauel, I didn't want to do any more rp'ing for you with Purusartha, so you can initiate more conversation with him at this point on your own if you like. He seems to be leading you somewhere, so your first question might be where that may be. Or anything else you like. Totally up to you.)

    (Yorick, I failed you... I ran out of time. But I will work on your part asap tomorrow. Just fyi, you're not entering the city by way of the bridge but rather the south gate. And if you feel the urge to do some writing now, by all means write something out for Yorick waking up first thing in the morning. I would prefer you didn't speak for Astaroth, but you can get as far as you can until I have to say or do something for him. Anyway, so sorry! Your character has first priority tomorrow!
    __________________________________________________ ________________________________________
    Last edited by Narayan; 06-15-2013 at 03:09 AM.

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    Post Yorick

    Yorick: (sob ;-; no intro for me at first lol.) Yorick woke up from the bright sun awakening him as usual, moving around to stretch and rattling the chains and metal balls connected in the process, waking up Astaroth. ~Finally... the day I'll be free of this Angul bastard. I don't care what troubles this human has it can't be worse than being clubbed half the time in the head. He might even try to rob the poor fool if he's weak, forcing me to suffer again and again... I wonder how he'd like it if he had his skull clubbed in only for it to heal. Ah, oh well, might as well see what he knows, if any.~ "Hey Astaroth, remind me again what you know about this buyer? I'm sure you know lots since you're probably running it" Yorick said looking at the rising sun

    In response to Yorick, Astaroth growled and groaned rising from his bedroll, his club already in his hand, the urge to stomp over and smash Yorick's skull again for disturbing him apparent on his face. But then he blinked a few times, glancing at the brightening sky and realized it was already dawn.

    "Shut up slave! You'll meet your new master soon enough." Astaroth cursed, collecting the bells off his chain. However, before they kept walking Astaroth removed some strips of jerky and tossed a couple over to Yorick. An unexpected treat.

    "Don't ever say I didn't give you anything." Astaroth laughed tearing a piece off another bit of jerky with his sharpened teeth. "Now Walk!" He urged.

    After walking for a ways, enjoying the warming air and the tasty dried meat, it occurred to Yorick to wonder what sort of jerky this was? Angul slaves quickly starved if they refused to eat what they were given so in the past Yorick probably ate man-meat at one time or another. Anguls took perverse pleasure feeding slaves the meat of their dead relatives at least once.

    But most of the time, the Anguls kept their stock of humanoid meat to themselves and let the slaves raise their own animals for eating. Still, if this was Astaroths personal supply of jerky it was likely man-meat. Yorick knew better than to the drop the jerky to the ground however, for that would certainly spurn a brutal beating from Astaroths club or possibly even a vicious scourging. So instead of eating it, Yorick discreetly tucked the jerky into his clothes.

    As they neared Masaeus, they started to pass through the vast tilled and irrigated fields surrounding the city, fresh with the smell of newly sprouted crops. It was a deliciously new smell to Yorick, compared to the stink of his holding cell or the blood soaked earth of the gladiatorial arena. He felt his heart beating faster with joy and anticipation for a new life, far from the hated Anguls.

    "Gonna miss me?" Astaroth asked walking behind him as always. "I probably wouldn't if I were you." He admitted. "Guess it probably makes no difference that I saved your life?"

    ~Riiiight!~ Yorick thought with no small bit of sarcasm, and did not respond. He was sure this was not a conversation he wanted to have.

    "It's true." Astaroth continued. "You were not really earning me much coin as a gladiator recently. It seemed your fighting spirit was lacking and the crowds were displeased by your showmanship. I'm sure you remember I told you as much while I was scourging you? ...But perhaps you stopped caring to listen?... Anyway, the arena master told me that he'd selected you for a special exhibition fight against a dire bear. A fight you would have certainly lost, wolf-man or not... so I decided rather than watching my investment get torn to shreds I should offer you up to a new buyer.

    Thats when I spoke with Saeed and made this arrangement. I brushed path's with him several years ago as we were both combing an area north of here for fresh slaves. Usually humans are so frightened of us Angul, they immediately attack us or flee. Saeed is different, a pragmatic man to the core, and he saw a potential business partner in us rather than an enemy.

    We exchanged words and pleasantries rather than spear-thrusts and arrows and learned a bit about each others people. Of course, we Angul have different tastes than Akhenatens so we exchanged a few slaves that would suite our respective markets better as a token of good faith. We agreed to meet there again in two month's time to do more trading, and so we have ever since.

    I know it might surprise you, slave, to think of an Angul like me being friends with a human. But it is not entirely unheard of among my people. We know we won't be feeding on all humans everywhere anytime soon. Those who live far enough away from us not to be targeted as prey can safely visit our colonies, especially if they have at least one Angul friend to escort and vouch for them.

    Eventually, I invited Saeed to visit our arena and witness our gladiatorial matches, which is when he first laid eyes on you. He's asked about you ever since, because it seems wolf-men are hard to capture alive pretty much everywhere. He's left an open invitation to come to Masaeus, and promised to vouch for me as his guest so I will be permitted through the gates. When I sent word to him that I would be breaking my contract with our arena master he offered a small fortune for you. Which brings us here." Astaroth said matter-of-factly.


    Yorick: "Guess I should thank both of you then. You for freeing me and him for buying me." ~If he's interested in me only because of my fights though... Not another arena.~ His face slightly turned pale at the thought of being forced to fight again to survive. "This Saeed person... mind if I ask what he usually does for work? I assume not more gladiator fights correct?"

    "I already told you he's a slaver, what do you think he does for work you fool? He buys, sells and trades in slaves just as I do. Only real difference between us is that he doesn't occasionally butcher and eat one of his stock." {laughs} "And no, you should assume he owns fighting slaves, or gladiators if you prefer, for sport just as I do. Why ever did you think he had interest in you if not for your ability to fight in the arena and draw crowds?" {laugh's again} "Perhaps I have been smashing your skull a bit too often. Your wits have entirely left you... but I suppose that doesn't matter much for a gladiator. Yours is not to reason why, yours is just to fight and die."

    Yorick: "Great. Was worried I'd have a change of scenery... maybe this guy'll be a better master then you and not cave in his slave's skulls." ~And maybe a little more friendly...~ "Ever think that might have been a reason why I haven't gained you much coin?"
    Last edited by Executive Spike; 06-16-2013 at 07:13 PM.

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    Post Sauel

    Sauel felt very small and humble at seeing the magnificence of the bridge, the whole thing designed and built from the ground up to a certain level of near perfection that only dwarves could do. Sauel knew he could never compete against such works. Sauel also felt naked being so in the open. He was glad at following some of the instructions regarding money and had a separate bag full of nothing but copper pieces, trying to exchange a gold and getting Silver could be a problem and he didn't need the extra stress. Silver just burned his hands (Well not literally but it felt like it), so he avoided it whenever he could and had a pair of thin gloves to handle them in such cases if they were to come up. If his load was heavier he might have saddled up Rabi to carry some of the load, but it seems it would have gotten them more attention, or perhaps they would have blended in better, he wasn't sure.

    The laws were very harsh and outright, however it promised within the walls that there was very little crime, a case where the persecuters were also the protectors. Sauel doubted he'd be the target for theft anyways, other than the scimitar on his side, everything else on him suggested he was broke.

    In the bustling activity as traffic began with people coming and going they didn't stand out at all, although his companion and friend Rabi didn't enjoy at all the idea of being leashed, however with a hand on his head reassuring him he kept silent. Sauel could feel those eyes passing over him as he went between the portcollis, but apparently they were uninterested in him.

    There was a sense of almost dread in the air, Sauel could smell the Vul, the scent lingering like a faint perfume and would forever permeate this place. Once inside the city he felt better not having those almost evil eyes watching.

    "Where are we going? What are we doing here?"

    There were other questions he likely wanted to ask, some pack related but it was not for discussing within city limits where the walls may have eyes and ears. Asking what he will be taught wouldn't be much help either. Purusartha moved with purpose likely having been here many times before; Although having a destination he wasn't going that fast.

    "SSsshhhh Rabi.. Sshhh. I'm sure we won't be in the city walls for long." Sauel spoke soft gentle words to his wolf not used to being in such a place as much, although thankfully he wasn't trying to sniff at everything like other animals would.
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    As soon as Purusartha entered the city he produced a gnarled walking stick from somewhere beneath his rags and slowed his pace. His shoulders drooped, his knees bent and his head hung low as if he had no strength to lift it. He moved through the crowds in this fashion with seemingly aged legs, hiding his spryness and strength.
    Now he was just another old man of no importance.

    "Be a good lad and help an old man along would you please Sauel?" He asked with smiling eyes. Then as Sauel took his hand Purusartha leaned in close and spoke more softly. "When you have a chance Sauel, try and practice your skills at subterfuge. Never give people a chance to assess your true strength if you can help it. As werewolves, we're expected to demonstrate vigor, strength and vitality. Were better off doing the opposite." He added with a wink.
    __________________________________________________ ___________
    ______________________________________
    Last edited by Narayan; 06-20-2013 at 09:03 PM.

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    Post Asher

    Asher could not help but feel apprehensive about being surrounded by so many people, this was after all his first time visiting such a large city. Being surrounded by others was against his innate solitary nature, but this had to be done.

    Reaching into a small coin purse he would pull out the necessary three copper that was needed to enter the city. As he paid the fee his senses were set off, he felt something familiar. Looking up he would see two statue like Vulkyrie up on the portcullis. So the Vulkyrie are here as well, this will be problematic.

    Avoiding their watchful gaze was out of the question since they were obviously on alert. So he simply pulled up his cowl and strode in like he belonged.

    After making his way into the city proper he would begin to look around for a pub where he might listen in on what the locals are doing and what has been happening. More importantly he would be looking for anything that may swing the merchant king to his side when the time was right.
    Last edited by Narayan; 06-16-2013 at 11:17 PM. Reason: I spoke of them as Vulkyrie, not Vul or Vulfear.

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    Post Yorick

    Quote Originally Posted by Executive Spike View Post
    Yorick: "Great. Was worried I'd have a change of scenery... maybe this guy'll be a better master then you and not cave in his slave's skulls." ~And maybe a little more friendly...~ "Ever think that might have been a reason why I haven't gained you much coin?"
    "Oh, so you think you'd be a better gladiator if I let you spend your days lying on a featherbed while I fed you grapes and fanned you by your bedside?" {Astaroth laughed loudly} "Don't be ridiculous! You're a slave. Your life is meant to be hell. If I didn't give you reasons to be angry and hate, what sort of feelings would fuel the rage you need to survive in the arena?"

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    Yorick

    Yorick: "Yeah well if it wasn't for this damn collar or the public here I'd give you hell, if I don't already." he laughed slightly "Oh well, not like you'd even give a chance, you're too smart to fight me because you'd lose a fortune and a limb at least. Let me know when we meet your friend."
    Last edited by Narayan; 06-16-2013 at 11:17 PM.

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    Post Sauel

    Somehow Purusartha's advice and comments seemed inherently obvious, and yet it was interesting seeing the transformation of his teacher from strong older man to near cripple. The sudden change left Sauel blank for several moments before he reached under Purusartha's arm and appeared to be helping to move and support him. "Of course sir, where are my manners?"

    Yes being covert was probably quite important, but he was likely practically invisible as it was (appearing harmless), only his wolf made him stand out at all. With one hand he helped Purusartha while the other he held the leash and rubbed his fingers against Rabi's head several times keeping his companion calm. They would both feel safer when they were out of the city. "I'll get you some jerky later Rabi... I promise.."

    They moved a bit slower, now being passed by those at a faster pace (which was pretty much everyone), and only got a few passing glances before eyes moved on, like they were just this detail like an ugly brick wall that was quickly forgotten about. Sauel had no idea of their destination, however Purusartha was leading him towards... something. As long as they were so close Sauel concentrated, trying to see if he could even feel Purusartha's energy, his beast. He wasn't trying to draw it out, just see if it was there, perhaps the barest brushing of energy. (Result: 26)
    Last edited by rtcvb32; 06-16-2013 at 11:38 PM. Reason: Fixed result based on detection/masking rules now in effect

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    Post Asher

    There are many taverns and Inn's in Masaeus, at least one on every street, so you have no trouble finding one. The first one you walk into is a small tavern called "The Brown Brew" which actually refers to its house-ale, strong and dark like its namesake. It's seats about forty people in one narrow room with ten booths. The bar itself is rather small and only seats about six or so. There are only about a dozen people in the bar this early in the morning. Two seated at the bar, the rest seated together in groups in three of the booths. The owner/barkeep appears to be a rather jolly dwarf, humming a tune to himself as he cleans some tankards.

    "Ah, welcome and good morning sir!" He says looking at the doorway where you stand Asher. (What do you do?)


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    Post Asher

    Oops! the DM accidentally deleted this post But he made his reply before he did so... see below...
    Last edited by Narayan; 06-16-2013 at 11:40 PM.

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    Post Yorick

    The pair walked the rest of the way towards the northern gates of the city in silence. Yorick was amazed by the size of it, even bigger than the Angul colony capital city he spent most of his life in. The massive gates were 20ft high, with the walls beside them 20ft thick, and twice as high. Astaroth swapped places with Yorick before they reached the gates, to make a better impression that he was the master and Yorick was just another miserable, broken slave who offered no threat.

    There was a crowd of people entering the gates, many of whom were slaves, of all variety of sizes, sexes and ages. Bound by ropes or chains, carried in carts or pulled behind them. Their stink of fear and shame smelled all too-familiar to Yorick. He saw a massive tablet with words chiseled in it. Probably said something important, but of course, he could not read.

    Atop the towers above the gates Yorick glimpsed two fearsome-looking, winged, vulture-headed humanoids. ~Those must be the Vullyrie he mentioned. They look dangerous.~ Yorick thought to himself. Surprisingly, he could even sense fear rising in Astaroth standing before him which he never had before. ~We could both be killed by those Vulkyrie if Astaroth cannot convince one of the guards to send for Saeeed. And who's to say they will? Saeeed might not be that well known.~

    Astaroth pulled on Yoricks chain roughly as they walked up to where the city watch was collecting toll. Astaroth kept his head covered with his cloak, and raised his hand in greeting as a non-threatening sign.

    "Oho, that's a big one!" One of the watchmen joked referring to Yorick. However, as soon as the guards glimpsed Astaroth's deathly-pale face, evil-looking eyes and sharpened teeth they quickly became defensive and nervous.

    "It's an Angul!" Yorick heard them exclaim to each other, but kept his head lowered as he was bid so as to not attract attention to himself.

    "I'm here to sell a slave. I come in peace. I'm a guest of Saeed, he'll vouch for me." Astaroth said quickly.

    The watchmen seemed to stay on edge, weapons ready, as they called for the watch sergeant. The watch sergeant had more questions for Astaroth, but he remained calm and sent for Saeed. They were told to step aside in a holding area until Saeed could be located. Meanwhile, Astaroth seemed to get less nervous, since they did not outright attack him.

    After a short while, a man robbed in rich Akhenaten desert garb comes up and speaks with the watch sergeant. Their hands clasped... (Spot Check for Yorick =14) ...and you notice the robbed man slip him something during the gesture. Probably coin as a bribe. The watch sargeant smiles and gestures in your direction.

    The robbed man approaches you then, tall for an Akhenaten, probably in his late thirties with wavy black hair and a closely cropped goatee. His eyes are dark and full of confidence, as is his smile.

    Astaroth also smiles, a rare and gruesome site, before they embraced each other as friends.

    "Saeed, so good to see you!" Astaroth says. "As you see, I have finally decided to take you up on your invitation."

    "You are welcome my friend! And ah, here is the great gladiator!" Saeed says looking at Yorick appraisingly. "No worse the wear I see, you have both had a long journey. You must be tired! I have spoken with the watch sergeant he will give us no trouble. Come! You are both my guests!" Saeed says leading Yorick and Astaroth through the gates.

    Saeeds desert robes are golden-brown with black accents. He wears a black sash around his waist, tucked with a Jambiya dagger and a scimitar at his hip. There are golden rings on his fingers, and a golden chain around his neck. ~So perhaps he is as wealthy as Astaroth says.~ Yorick thought to himself. (Spot Check for Yorick =23) But as they enter the northern quarter of the city Yorick senses they are being watched and glances back to see a man following them. Not a particularly dangerous looking man however. (What do you do Yorick?)

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    Post Yorick

    Yorick: He whispers to Astaroth trying to not seem conspicuous "Someone's tailing us. Not sure if he's with Saeed or not felt I should letcha know." He continues watch of the man but not draw attention, checking to see if there's anything off about the man following the three. (by off I mean if he's hiding anything dangerous or hiding his true presence?)
    Last edited by Narayan; 06-17-2013 at 02:38 AM.

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