Geometric Archipelago:Dragons on Semicircle Island/Chapter 04
Chapter #4: Stinking Badgers
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN GAME---
<mainstreet> Ricardo glares grumpily at the group, not happy about being waken from his nap... uh, I mean, very hard work he was doing in the Director's office. Yeah, hard work!
<Ascii> Ascii glares right back at him.
<Vivi> Vivi admires his cool beard and asks insistently, "We are investigating the disappearances. We need to know everything you know. Everything."
- Hildyr also glares
- Ascii seems put off by the fact that this man's beard might be cooler than his own. "Yeah, we hear you're missing some people."
<mainstreet> "Everything?" Ricardo scratches his beard. "Well, what I can tell you for sure is that I've been having to do a lot of work over the past few weeks. You see, I'm not actually the director, I'm just acting in that role. Jason was running things during the past election cycle, and was running the cleanup up until a couple of weeks ago. Of course, since the election's over there's not nearly as much to do, but it is enough that
<mainstreet> I've kept the interns like Todd here on, when otherwise I probably could have let them go by... well, around now, if I didn't have an unfilled position. Because of all this, I've been pretty busy, so I'm not really sure what much to tell you. Definitely running on fumes, too... easy to get exhausted, without Jason here."
<Ascii> "Ah, so Jason was *your* boss. Any idea what might have happened to him?"
<mainstreet> Ricardo sighs. "Haven't a clue. It's strange. I've known him for the whole five years I've been here, and he's never just up and vanished like that. And no one can say where he's gone. The President thinks it's connected to his daughter's disappearance, but I have no idea on that, the only evidence for that is the timing. But there's no evidence on Jason at all."
<Vivi> "Does he have family here in town?"
<Ascii> "Can we take a look in his office to see if there's anything there he might have left?"
<mainstreet> "No, he's never really had a family. He's sort of... the more classical religious type. He's a cleric of Wee Jas. Always claimed that he didn't have time for a family after his Goddess and his political work... Well, I've been using his office," Ricardo points back at the door he came through. "The work's gotta get done. I can't let you just see confidential files anyway, but I mean, I looked through everything myself and my hands are all over everything anyway by now."
<Ascii> "Dammit. Yeah, if you've been dicking around in there there won't be much that's useful."
<Vivi> "Was he working on anything in particular?"
<mainstreet> Ricardo shakes his head. "Not that I can remember. Cleaning up after an election is a fairly dull process. You just make sure all the signage is taken down... well, that's the interns really. The main thing to do is make sure all the financial details check out. I'm almost done. Probably a few more days. He'd probably already be done though, if he was still here."
<Vivi> "Hmm. Can we take a look at any of those financials ourselves?"
<mainstreet> Ricardo frowns. "I don't think I'm allowed to reveal that on our end, by law. When I'm done this will all get filed in the City Records Office, and you can request a copy then."
<Vivi> "Are you allowed to tell us, say, who the biggest donor to your campaign was?"
<mainstreet> Ricardo blinks, not understanding the question. "I wasn't running for anything. I don't have a campaign. This office coordinated and ran many, many campaigns during this election cycle. Assembly seats, town council seats, judicial election... it's all a little different, with different rules, so it's complicated."
<Vivi> "I meant the presidential campaign. Surely some of the local donations for that come through this office?"
<mainstreet> "That's... not exactly how this works. The Presidency goes to whoever gets the most seats in the Assembly. You have to win more Assembly seats than the opposition, then the Assembly turns and selects your preferred choice for President."
<Vivi> "Ah. Hmm." Vivi rubs her chin thoughtfully. "Did anyone donate large amounts of money towards the Assembly seats, via this office?"
<mainstreet> "Of course. We have lots of donations that flood through. Some are, of course, larger than others. I would not say much was particularly different this cycle than in any other cycle, though."
<Vivi> "Can you name the largest donor off the top of your head?"
<mainstreet> "I'm sorry, I can't. Our donors value their confidentiality."
- Vivi purses her lips together in an expression of mild frustration, but bides her time. "Very well. What can you tell us of Lauren Michaels?"
<mainstreet> "Hmm. Engaging person. Happy to be here helping. Believed in our mission. Always seemed a bit lonely, though. As I said, happy, but... not exactly content, I suppose, you could say? Was certainly a shock to hear her scream that night though. And saw the dragon carry her off. Well, a vague shadow, that looked dragon-shaped. It was night, after all."
<Vivi> "What did she do for you?"
<mainstreet> "Running around and talking directly to voters, mostly. Ground teams are really important in places like this. Voters really respect getting direct contact."
<Vivi> "Where did she go missing from?"
<Ascii> "Which direction did this shadow take her?"
<mainstreet> "The outskirts of town -- on the eastern side at first. We saw her flying off to the west."
- Vivi attempts to raise just one eyebrow quizzically, but her eyebrow muscles do not work independently and she only succeeds in making a weird face. "Indeed?"
<mainstreet> Ricardo nods without saying anything.
<Vivi> "Do you know of any reason why anyone would wish to abduct her?"
<mainstreet> "Well, the only reason I, or anyone else, can think of would be to leverage the President. But that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, either, as we'd've heard from her abductors by now. ...I suppose there's another possibility but I don't really want to consider that. I mean, she was, um, quite easy on the eyes. I think you can understand my worry on that front, but I really hope that's not it."
- Vivi nods. "Quite."
<mainstreet> "Anything else for me? Otherwise I should... well, I'm up now, so, uh, get back to work, I guess..."
<Vivi> "What do you know about Adam Jones?"
<mainstreet> "The mayor? He's annoying. Can't get much done with him around. Can't get much done without him, either, though... you kinda need a mayor to accomplish much. But he didn't do much in office, either. It's one reason we keep trying to vote him out. But we didn't manage it, this time. People say he's missing too, but no one can say why. Maybe the Purple office knows more, but I doubt it."
<Ascii> "Who's running the town with him gone?"
<mainstreet> "Most basic enforcment operations are just the sheriff. From a political point, the council handles all matters for now. Don't recall who's in charge of the council right now, but it would be someone from Purple, they have a majority here."
<Vivi> "Do either Lauren or the major live with anyone? Family perhaps?"
<mainstreet> "The mayor's family lives around here somewhere. Again, you're best off asking in Purple's office. They're not going to just spread that around, though, for obvious reasons. Lauren lived at her family's cottage here in Moosehead. Actually, probably where she was when she was grabbed... place should be empty now." < Vivi> "If the mayor didn't do much in office, why did you want him out? Wouldn't he be preferable to a mayor who more actively opposed you?"
<mainstreet> "No, when I say he didn't do much, I mean he blocked things from getting done. We couldn't *do* anything with him in office. He didn't want to pass laws."
<Vivi> "Hmm. And do you know of anyone around here who would be so upset at him that they might have abducted him? Perhaps an especially strident Yellow?"
<Vivi> "The kind of follower who is so obnoxious that even you wish they would stop supporting your cause?"
<mainstreet> "No, I can't think of anyone like that."
<mainstreet> Hildyr: You are sure that no one from Yellow would EVER even consider doing such a thing.
<Vivi> "Well, I suppose you've been as helpful as one in your position is likely to be. And I like your beard," Vivi says. "Thanks. I think we'll be going now."
<mainstreet> Ricardo nods and smiles. "Please try to find them." He walks back into his office.
<Ascii> Ascii grumbles. "My beard's better than his..."
<Vivi> Vivi peers at Ascii's beard. "Which criteria do you use to judge that?"
<Ascii> "The criteria is that it's mine."
<Ascii> "Therefore it's better."
- Vivi looks dismissively at Ascii and heads for the City Administration Complex.
<mainstreet> Vivi: You enter the City Administration Complex. There's a main hallway, a couple of staircases, and a general mess. You spot the DIRECTORY on one wall. What are you looking for?
- Vivi looks up the City Records Office.
<mainstreet> Second floor, stage right! Or... thereabouts, anyway. You find it and tromp your way up there.
<Ascii> *tromp tromp tromp*
<mainstreet> The door is propped open. You look inside and find... a maze of filing cabinets. They see to go on forever, in all directions behind a desk... you see a gnome reading a magazine sitting at said desk, dressed in a uniform with a symbol of a moose on one sleeve. Well, the head of a moose, actually.
<Vivi> "Hello, sir," Vivi begins. "Can we please look at the financial records for the Yellow party from the previous election? Not the one just finished, as I understand they aren't in yet, but the one prior."
<mainstreet> The gnome jerks up and looks around wildly, before settling on Vivi. "Uh..." He reaches under the desk... "not that one... not that... ah, here it is." He pulls out a piece of paper and hands it to you. "Fill out this and give it to me." You look, at it's an REQUEST FOR ELECTION DISCLOSURE FORM ME-21A.
<Ascii> Ascii facepalms. "Oh, lord..."
<mainstreet> You begin to fill out the form, and it's mind-numbingly draining. Fortunately for you, you're the type of lady that likes to learn about such horrifying blights on civilization! You manage to fill out the form without incident, and hand it to the gnome. He looks at it, nods, stamps it, and wanders off into the racks of cabinets. "Back in a few minutes!"
<mainstreet> The gnome returns with the folder you requested. It's the details of last Assembly election cycle's financials as declared by the Yellow party.
- Vivi looks in the folder to see which people or companies have been donating the most.
- Vivi pulls out her Lens of Detection to help her read all small print.
<mainstreet> Vivi: You see a wide variety of donors. A lot of things look more or less expected. You do see the Winstara Bank here, but they aren't as much as you expected. The intriguing source is one you've never heard of, you see that the largest donor is consistently someone referred to only as "Lady V" in these pages. You look at her listed address and frown. You recognize that address, it's party headquarters here in Moosehead! You were just there!
- Vivi taps the paper and tsks quietly.
<Vivi> "Thank you, sir. You've been most helpful," Vivi tells the gnome.
- Vivi heads back out to the street. "To Purple next?" she asks her companions.
<mainstreet> "I appreciate that," the gnome comments.
<Vivi> "Or back to Yellow to confront them over this Lady V?"
<Ascii> "We can try, although they may not know who the hell we're talking about."
<Ascii> "I imagine Jason would, but his underlings might be clueless."
<Vivi> "To Purple it is, then."
<Ascii> "Works for me."
<Nenni> Nenni sees the party on approach to Purple. He's cleaning his paws at a corner they approach, just lounging on a window sill. "Do you have a moment folks?"
- Vivi scratches Nenni's head. "Sure, what's up?"
<Ascii> "Oh, the cat."
<Nenni> "Yeah - the spy cat. I've been doing some research for you. Jason hasn't paid his Church dues in more than a month."
<Nenni> "I've also got some pretty vague coordinates for two possible locations for a dragon lair in the Western mountains, if that'd be useful to anyone."
<Ascii> "Church dues?"
<Vivi> "Indeed, we might need to travel there," Vivi says. She scratches behind his ears again. "Good kitty."
<Nenni> "And popular opinion hereabouts is that Lauren is a pretty genuine socialite. She seems to mingle quite a bit... seems she has an appetite for adventure and excitement. Might be that her horizons have broadened recently, perhaps unexpectedly, but that's the word on the street, folks."
<Ascii> "What church are we talking about here? Are the local temples charging tithes?"
- Nenni describes to Vivi all the details he picked up about the salient landmarks for the two potential dragon lair locations for her to jot down.
- Nenni also commits them to memory with a Take 10 on Autohypnosis as a backup.
<Vivi> "Mmhmm, mmhmm," Vivi says as she jots them down.
<mainstreet> Ascii: Jason was described as a cleric of Wee Jas. Clerics of Wee Jas have a strict hierarchy. If he's not the head of the Church here, which he likely can't be while being so heavily involved in politics, he almost certainly has someone he's supposed to report directly to, and presumably then needs to pay them to contribute to the running of the Church here.
<mainstreet> Ascii: Presumably Wee Jas has a temple... somewhere... on the Island. It's not here in Moosehead, though, at least not in the town's core.
<Ascii> Ascii does some thinking. "...ah, wait, I think I see. He owes money to his superiors, then disappears. Hmm."
<Vivi> "Or his superiors notice that he's stopped paying them, when he disappears."
<Ascii> "Well, he's been gone for three weeks, right? But he's not paid his dues for longer than that, so I doubt it's a result. More like possibly a cause. Maybe someone took him because he stopped paying?"
<Ascii> "Or, he planned to not pay, and arranged to vanish."
<Vivi> "Quite reasonable hypotheses."
<Ascii> "I'd like to pay his house a visit. Maybe check into his financial affairs. If he nad no family, hopefully it won't be watched."
<Vivi> "I KNEW I ahould have asked for his address, even though it seemed like a dead end. Information is never wasted."
<Vivi> "We'll have to go back to Yellow. In the meantime...on to Purple?"
<Ascii> "Maybe we can look him up in the phone book."
<Vivi> "What's a phone?"
<mainstreet> You find yourselves at the Moosehead Purple Party. You open the door and... it looks much the same as the Yellow party, except instead of being, well, Yellow, it's, well, Purple. You see the same rectangluar table, the same cabinets, and once again, three doors for smaller offices. There's also an intern at the table, but she's currently sorting large stacks of files into a few different piles.
<Ascii> Ascii shrugs.
<mainstreet> Nenni: As you enter, you hear voices through the door on the right. They're being kept low, but it sounds like the discussion is definitely not a friendly one.
- Nenni checks what's in the wastepaper basket here.
- Nenni telepathically signals the party to wait quietly while he listens further.
<mainstreet> Nenni: If you want to hear actual words, you'll have to get to the door itself. If your party is waiting quietly, the intern is extremely likely to spot you. You probably want her engaged in conversation with the rest of the Party.
<Nenni> To the party, he silently updates, "I want to see what I can hear of an argument going on behind the door to the right. So if you could engage that human, but not too noisily, I'll see what I can hear."
<Vivi> "Hello, Miss, is this the offices for the Purple party?"
<mainstreet> The young lady looks up. "Oh, yes, yes it is. I'm Katie, intern here. How can I help you?"
<Vivi> "When was the last time you saw the mayor?"
<mainstreet> Katie frowns. "I don't think I've ever met the mayor personally. If you're referring to how long he's been around Moosehead... I think he's been missing for about two weeks."
<Vivi> "Do you ever get Yellow protestors here? Do you, by any chance, happen to know who the most vociferous or obnoxious among them might be?"
<Vivi> While Vivi is engaging the intern in conversation, Aeth sneaks down off her shoulder and attempts to move towards the door with the conversation.
<mainstreet> Katie shakes her head. "Not really. We don't usually get direct protesting here at party HQ. If someone's going to protest, they'll usually protest Administration." She looks up. "I don't think I know of anyone particularly obnoxious here in Mooshead, though the new First Daughter might qualify sometimes... or did before... the thing... the big mystery here among us Purples continues to be, where the hell are they getting this funding from? They outspent us. For the first time in decades. Miss Lamaranth has never allowed that before. And she didn't pull back this time."
<mainstreet> Meanwhile, Aeth manages to reach the door. He hears a pair of feminine human voices, both extremely unhappy with each other.
<mainstreet> He listens to their conversation.
<Ascii> "She didn't *allow* it?"
<Vivi> "What *thing*?"
<mainstreet> Katie smirks. "Miss Lamaranth is the richest individual on the island. She's always been capable of outspending everyone. People have tried to jump the scales before, she's shown them that she has always, always been capable of calling and raising their bids on such matters."
<mainstreet> "Until this year," Katie sighs.
<mainstreet> "Well... you know... the thing... the thing where the First Daughter screamed three weeks ago and she hasn't been seen since."
- Vivi stares at her. "She was obnoxious until she got abducted." More staring. "Got it."
<Vivi> "So, as far as you know, no one ever threatened the mayor?"
<mainstreet> Katie blushes. "Well, I mean, she's kinda... in your face, you know? I mean... she's actually pretty fun, usually. We'd get in huge bar competitions at the Inn and stuff. Good times."
<mainstreet> "Uh, no, not at all. But I mean, they wouldn't tell *me* about that."
<Vivi> "Bar competitions? Like, who can drink the most? Or were these competitions political?"
<mainstreet> "Bit of both. Trivia, economics debates, drinking sometimes too. I never won those last ones."
<Vivi> "Was she...romantically interested in anyone, that you were aware of?"
<mainstreet> Katie snorts. "She flirted with everything that crossed her path. Even me. I wasn't interested for sooo many reasons."
- Ascii seems to be writing that last part down.
<Ascii> "So she was mostly just obnoxious in the sense that she wasn't on your side?"
<mainstreet> "Well... okay, maybe I was a little frustrated with the whole 'flirt at literally everyone with a pulse' thing. I do wonder how many votes Yellow got here because she kissed them. And seeing as her opposite was basically me, and I'm totally not interested in that sort of thing. I was not impressed."
<Ascii> "Yes, we get it, you're *totally* not into ladies." Ascii rolls his eyes disbelievingly.
<mainstreet> The other conversation:
<mainstreet> "I'm sorry, I don't recall anything in... literally any contract or agreement, in which Mistress answered to *you* or for that matter *anyone* in your family, Beatrice. If your famiily chooses to throw a fit about how She spends Her time, you can enjoy having a bank melted in the acid of dragonbreath."
<mainstreet> "We both know that's an empty threat. Blow up our bank and she'll be hunted mercilessly. She's already got half the Island convinced she kidnapped the President's daughter. I don't know nor do I care if that's true. Regardless, she still *has* an account through us, and she *is* under audit, and if she doesn't want penalties assessed, she needs to be there. In Rainbow City. Tomorrow. And no, it can't be you or one or her other... pets."
<mainstreet> "I resent that. I'm well paid, thank you very much. I bet you're not even paid to do this, are you? You just leech off your father. Well I'm not interested. I'll pass your message on, but if you're expecting a positive response, I have a bridge in Trinsic to sell you."
<mainstreet> "She's never failed to come before to get these matters sorted out. I don't understand your hostility here."
<mainstreet> "Before... before... she was operating with an administration that she trusted to protect her, not persecute her."
<mainstreet> "*That* is *not* our problem. Tomorrow, high noon, Annalise will be assessing penalties. Unless Lamaranth wants to persuade her otherwise."
<mainstreet> "We shall see... Get out of my office. Now, Beatrice."
<mainstreet> "It's not like I *want* to be in this political dump," the door starts to open.
<mainstreet> A woman comes out the door, dressed in a very thick and rich grey cloak. Her long black locks cascade halfway down her back. You notice the large emerald ring that's identical to the one you saw on what had to have been her sister yesterday -- the similarities are striking, but she is clearly a bit older than your previous encounter... though that does not mean she's old by any means, she's definitely at the height of her natural beauty.
<mainstreet> The only thing marring such is the casual look of contempt on her face, as though everyone and everything in her vicinity is trash. She proceeds for the door, not even acknowledging the existence of anyone else in the room.
<mainstreet> She walks out as haughtily as she can manage.
<Ascii> Ascii watches. "Sheesh. I could practically *feel* the holier-than-thou coming off of her. Still, love watching her go. Heh."
- Vivi casually asks Katie, "Who's office is that?"
<mainstreet> Katie looks down. "Uh... that's Chelsea's office."
<Vivi> "What does Chelsea do here? And whose are the other two offices?"
- Ascii notes to himself that there seems to be a proliferation of gorgeous women with bad attitudes on this island.
<mainstreet> Katie looks around and whispers to Vivi. "Chelsea's our contact for Miss Lamaranth. Miss Lamaranth wants to her all ways to contact her under her control. So we have to ask Chelsea whenever we want to talk to Miss Lamaranth... and if Chelsea actually speaks at our meetings, we generally assume it's Miss Lamaranth telling her to say... whatever she said. And so on. Most times when we communicate it's not direct, it's all through Chelsea. But if someone wants to go up to the castle, they'd better clear it with Chelsea first if they don't want to get melted, for instance."
- Vivi merely nods at this confirmed information. "And the other two?"
<mainstreet> "Well, there's Eric's office. He's our director. The middle office is technically our coordinator's office, but it's more of a storage room really. Jimmy hangs out mostly in here or in Eric's office. I think he's in Eric's office right now."
<Vivi> "And who is Jimmy?"
<mainstreet> "The volunteer coordinator, as I said."
<Vivi> "I'd like to get the Mayor's address. Could you give that to me, or should I speak to Eric?"
<mainstreet> "I don't know it, and I doubt Eric's just going to give it out for no reason."
- Vivi nods. "We'll speak to him, then."
- Vivi walks over to the director's door and knocks.
<mainstreet> "Eh? Who's out there?"
<Vivi> "My name is Vivi Page, sir. May we come in?"
<mainstreet> "Uh... do I know a Page?" "I dunno, dude. I don't think so, dude." "Well, guess we should learn, then. Come on in!"
- Vivi opens the door and walks in. "Hello. My compatriots and I are investigating the disappearance of your mayor. We would like his address, please, to further our inquiries."
<mainstreet> You go in, and see a desk with papers stacked all over it. A cabinet is in each back corner. A man with a goatee is sitting behind the desk, and another man with dreads is sitting in the seat in front of the desk.
<mainstreet> You get the distinct scent of certain, shall we say, herbs, emanating from the latter.
<mainstreet> The guy with the goatee looks at you suspiciously. "Investigating? Are you a cop? You have to tell me if you're a cop. We don't need no cops here, snooping around."
<Vivi> "No, merely private investigators."
<mainstreet> "And why are you investigating, lady? What do you get out of it? Not that I'm not all for finding the mayor, understand, but it occurs to me that not everyone that might be looking for him has his best interests at heart."
- Ascii tries to look less like threatening muscle following Vivi around.
<Vivi> "Well, I believe I'm going to get paid for finding him," Vivi says, somewhat drily. "I assure you, I'm quite neutral in this affair and wish no harm on anyone."
<mainstreet> "Are you looking to set up a contract for that? I guess we can probably pay a bit. I don't know... actually, hey Jimmy, get Chelsea in here." Jimmy nods and heads out. "I don't actually think the Party has that much," Eric continues, "but... I might have another source."
<mainstreet> Jimmy walks back in, and Chelsea appears. She's a short blonde, dressed in a simple orange dress with a pendant or necklace of some sort hidden beneath her dress. You get the feeling she deliberately tries to look unimportant. Given that you already know who she is, though, it fails miserably. Your eyes are instantly tracked to her, and... yes, Ascii, she looks pretty hot, too. Sigh.
<mainstreet> Chelsea simply raises an eyebrow in Eric's direction. Eric nods at her and indicates Vivi with a jerk of his head. "This lady says she's interested in finding the mayor. Thinks she can do it. I don't think we got much... but you might know how to get more..." Eric is deliberately cagey, clearly unaware his intern was so talkative.
- Ascii is simultaniously pleased, and disappointed, as the track record so far indicates that she's probably a big fat meanie.
<mainstreet> Chelsea smiles. "Perhaps. It's certainly a major concern... we have. We would, certainly appreciate knowing where he is and that he's safe. And hopefully bring him back to continue his duties here in Moosehead."
<mainstreet> Chelsea looks at the rest of the group apprasingly. "You seem like an, overall... capable adventuring party. I have... some recent issues which have come up that may affect what I am able to do over the next day or so. But I will certainly know by tonight what I can do. Can you make it to the Moosehead Inn at sunset? I'll meet you there."
- Vivi nods. "We'll be there."
<mainstreet> "Good! I'll see you then. For now, I have important business to attend that I'm afraid I can't put off. Eric, do you need me for anything else? I'm going to be sealing myself in my office momentarily, and it will not be acceptable to remove that seal except in a dire emergency."
<mainstreet> Eric shakes his head. "I think we're good for now, Miss Chelsea." She smiles again and retreats back into her office. As she closes her door, you see the glow of a magical lock taking effect.
<Vivi> "Most intriguing," Vivi mutters under her breath.
<Vivi> "Now," she continues, looking back up at Eric. "No point in wasting the rest of the day before confirmation comes. May I have the address of the mayor, so as to pursue our inquiries in the meantime?"
<mainstreet> Eric frowns. "Miss... Chelsea... hasn't agreed to anything yet, and as I said, I can't promise much. Are you sure you'll be okay working to what may turn out to be for something... well under your actual skill level?"
<Vivi> "If she does not come through with the money, we will likely not turn over to you any information we have gathered. I do not expect that we will actually find your missing mayor by tonight, so if she does not come through with the money, we will not have lost much by engaging in the search anyway."
<mainstreet> Eric puzzles that out, sighs, and scribbles an address down on a small scrap of parchment. "You can try talking to his family, I guess. Please don't go snooping without their permission, though. Adam is a public figure. His wife and children are not."
- Vivi takes the scrap and nods. "That is fair."
<mainstreet> ---END GAME---