Geometric Archipelago:Dragons on Semicircle Island/Chapter 06
Chapter #6: Hope-on-a-rope
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN GAME---
<Ascii> Ascii clears his throat. "Okay, listen. We're fairly certain that Lamaranth wasn't involved in the taking of your Mistress's eggs. We can't exactly prove it right now, but we have a pretty good idea what's actually going on here."
<mainstreet> Carolyn chuckles. "You've already implied this. Care to share with the rest of the class?"
<Ascii> "That depends on how inclined you are to believe us, and how reasonable you expect your Mistress to be with the information. Remember what we talked about regarding that audit that conveeeeeeeniently got Voranath out of the house...er, castle long enough for the eggnapping? Lamaranth is being commanded to come in for one tomorrow."
<mainstreet> Carolyn whistles. "I see. That... is fascinating. Well then. There cannot be a bank audit if that bank no longer exists... I'm sure Mistress will be more than happy to blow up a building of thieves..."
<Vivi> "You should find out WHY Winstara is complicit in the egg theft before razing them. If there are other players involved, you may not discover them if the bank is burned."
<Ascii> "Yeah, that was our plan. We have a meeting this evening that will hopefully clear some of this up. But, it does mean that Lamaranth is almost certainly in the same boat as Voranath. Or, rather, she's about to be, if someone doesn't warn her."
<mainstreet> Carolyn sighs. "I can't tell her, then. If I tell her, in her mood, she's going to want to destroy the bank, and I doubt anyone will be able to talk her out of it. But if I go behind her back and do something..." Carolyn looks down nervously. "I'm doomed."
<Ascii> "Do you have *any* way of contacting Lamaranth, or know of someone who can?"
<mainstreet> Carolyn sighs. "That's Chelsea's job. She's probably over at the Purple office. Might as well go tell her. I'll... stay here. And pretend I heard nothing. I think that's the best plan. For my own safety."
<Vivi> "If we...continue to investigate, we may come across a more opportune moment at which to inform your mistress of the culprit's activities? Perhaps if we had a way to contact YOU at that time, it would be advantageous for us all?"
<mainstreet> Carolyn shrugs. "Any time during regular business hours, I'll be here, or will be back soon enough, most likely. You could also use a Sending spell as well, but I can understand not wanting to do that."
- Vivi sighs. "Unfortunately, I do not have that spell in my spellbook."
<mainstreet> Carolyn shrugs. "Honestly, if you're in *any* town, you can just find the Yellow office, and the Dragonagent for the town, and she can relay to Mistress. I doubt there's going to be anything particularly time-sensitive on this. If only because nothing's happened yet."
<Vivi> "How quickly can you contact your Mistress, if something time-sensitive DOES come up?"
<mainstreet> "Effectively immediately. I have a way to do it at any time. But I'm not stupid enough to bother her on such a schedule for anything not critical."
- Vivi nods. "Of course."
<mainstreet> "I would be shocked if Lamaranth didn't have equal systems in the Purple offices, if not better, as she can be less discreet."
<Ascii> "Alright, then. Hopefully we can get something done before the morning."
- Vivi thanks Carolyn and heads out.
- Vivi heads to the Inn to meet with Chelsea.
<mainstreet> You walk into the Moosehead Inn. Similar to the YGP, there's the main counter and key wall, and the other half is a bar area. This one looks more like your standard fare -- there doesn't appear to be any particular distinguishing of color or anything else. You spot Chelsea immediately, at one of the larger tables, by herself, clearly waiting on the rest of you. She waves in your direction and beckons.
- Vivi joins her at the table.
- Nenni trots along at Vivi's ankles.
<Ascii> "That name is misleading. There's no moose in here."
<Ascii> Ascii sits down with the others.
<Hans> "Remember, you're only looking for the head. Like the Mob and horse heads."
<Ascii> "Well, no, it says right there for all the mooses to head in. And yet there's none in here."
<mainstreet> "There are moose in the forest. In theory," Chelsea comments. "Anywho, my Mistress is willing to pay 2000 gold for the return of the Mayor."
<Vivi> "Does it have to be the return of the mayor, or will the current location of the mayor be sufficient?"
<mainstreet> Chelsea blinks. "I suppose that would depend on how much effort it's going to take to get him back. The more effort we'd have to expend, the less the information is worth... but I'll call it 1000, minimum, for just the location."
<Nenni> Nenni suggests to Vivi subliminally that Chelsea didn't specify the mayor must be alive on delivery, which could make the task quite a bit easier.
<Vivi> "We have come across information that will be much more valuable to Miss Lamaranth than the return of the mayor. Will she be willing to pay for this as well?"
<mainstreet> Chelsea blinks again. "I couldn't even begin to speculate without knowing what that information is. Just because you say it's valuable doesn't mean it is from her perspective."
<Ascii> "Ms. Chelsea, we've been doing some investigating, and it seems we've stumbled onto something bigger than we thought. Something with potentially very bad consequences for Lamaranth as early as tomorrow. Are you able to get in touch with her, and more importantly, is she willing to talk?"
<mainstreet> Chelsea shrugs. "Theoretically, but I'm not going to waste her time unless I'm sure it's actually important. You'll need to tell me what you have."
<Ascii> Ascii glances around. "Fine, but can we go back to your office first? This isn't something to be discussing in public."
<mainstreet> Chelsea frowns. "Okay, but if you're wasting my time, I'm going to take 10 gold off your payment."
<mainstreet> Chelsea gets up and heads out, going to the office.
- Vivi follows.
<Nenni> "Is that 1%, Vivi?"
<Vivi> "Depends on whether we rescue him," she mutters via Aethnet.
<Ascii> Ascii follows.
<mainstreet> You end back up in the office. It's very dark in here, being after hours and deserted. Chelsea pulls out a dagger and casts Light on it, allowing you some manner of vision. She sits down at the main table. "So what do you need to tell me?"
<Ascii> Ascii inhales. "We understand that your mistress Lamaranth has been called in for an audit tomorrow?"
<mainstreet> Chelsea's eyes narrow. "How do you... were you spying on the conversation I was having? I know you were in here at the time..."
<mainstreet> Chelsea stares at your party, clearly unhappy.
<Ascii> "I wasn't eavesdropping on you, no."
<mainstreet> Chelsea frowns. "That sounds like a very 'technically correct' answer. I notice you have companions. Including a... kitty."
<Vivi> "The POINT," Vivi says, exasperated, "is that your mistress's EGGS are in DANGER. NOT from us."
- Nenni mewls innocently.
<mainstreet> Chelsea blinks. "Wait... what... eggs... the EGGS are in danger?!? How do you even... how is that... WHAAAAAAAT?????"
<Ascii> "Geez, Vivi. Way to drop the bomb. Ever heard of 'tact'?"
<Ascii> "Okay, so here's the short version."
<Vivi> "You're beating around the bush."
- Vivi resists the urge to stick out her tongue at Ascii.
<Ascii> "That audit? We believe it's an excuse to get Lamaranth out of her lair long enough for someone to steal her eggs. Voranath has had *her* eggs stolen, and it was done while the bank called her to what we presume to be an identical audit."
<Ascii> "I don't believe this to be a coincidence."
<Ascii> "Near as we can figure, a third party is trying to screw them both over and make each of them think the other is responsible."
<mainstreet> "I..." Chelsea breathes. Pauses. Breathes again. "Yes, that seems to be... crap. And we can't ignore this audit either, because... whether you're right or wrong, they'll have made the audit legitimate. So... I need to talk to her about this. This is important. Please remain here. I will be back in a few. Please do not interrupt me."
<mainstreet> Chelsea gets up and quickly retreats into her inner office.
- Nenni listens really hard.
<mainstreet> Nenni: A ward on the door is preventing you from listening. It seems that there's more security involved when she's speaking to Lamaranth.
<mainstreet> A few minutes later, Chelsea comes back. "Mistress agrees with your assessment, and requests that you help protect her castle. It would be preferable to capture the enemy, not kill them, to help recover her opponent's eggs as well. Either way, Mistress's eggs must be protected. I can provide immediate transport to the gates of the castle. And Lamaranth will pay... generously. She did not name a specific gold amount, but she's
<mainstreet> the wealthiest individual on the Island, and her wealth is in far more than just gold."
- Nenni pouts and curls up by a foot of the desk.
<Ascii> "Leave her be, Nenni. I think we've already pushed our eavesdropping luck with her."
- Vivi looks around at her team. "Any objections? I am inclined to agree. I think a sting operation, perhaps involving us posing within fake eggs, might be a successful way of capturing the would-be egg thieves."
<Ascii> "We'll see. I imagine Little Miss Dragon might have her own ideas at this point."
<mainstreet> Chelsea nods. "That's possible. We're going to teleport straight there. With a teleport rope. Then I'll come straight back here. You'll be dealing with her and her consort directly in the castle. They, obviously, can work out much better deals than I can."
<mainstreet> "And a word of advice, Mistress is not 'Little' and will likely take offense to that. Be respectful in Her presence, please."
<Ascii> "Yes, ma'am."
- Ascii says this with the tone of a schoolboy being lectured.
<Vivi> "Teleport rope?" Vivi asks with arcane curiosity.
<mainstreet> Chelsea pulls out a rope. "Rope. Teleports to the Castle and back. Nice thing is, no limit to how many can go. Just make sure you're holding on."
- Vivi ponders the (un)likelihood of the dragon letting her get a glimpse of how a Teleport Rope spell works.
<mainstreet> Chelsea hands it out to everyone. "This everyone?"
- Vivi grabs hold.
- Nenni hops up on the back of a chair and places a paw on the rope. Chelsea already seems to recognise him as sapient.
<Ascii> "Yep. Me, Vivi, two cats, and some other folks who mayh or may not be here at any given time."
- Vivi awkwardly holds Aeth so that he is also gripping the rope.
- Hans takes hold of the rope.
<Hildyr> "Hold up. What about my ox, Terry?"
<Hans> "Run the rope through the ring in his nose?"
<mainstreet> Chelsea sighs. "Yeah, we'd better go outside to bring the ox..." Chelsea walks outside.
<Ascii> "Yeah, wouldn't want to oxidentally leave him behind."
- Vivi follows Chelsea outside and ensures that she and Aeth are both re-gripping the rope.
- Nenni hopes there's a fence-post he can hop up onto.
- Hildyr tags along after cringing at the pun
<Ascii> Ascii grabs the rope.
<mainstreet> You all get on the rope, and....
- Nenni blinks.
<mainstreet> You all feel a swirling sensation!
<mainstreet> After a moment's disorientation, you find yourselves in front of a classical castle, massive stone walls, corner towers, the works. Visible suits of armor stand guard at the sides of the large iron doors.
<mainstreet> Once you all let go of the rope, Chelsea says "Teleport" again, and vanishes!
- Vivi peers at the suits of armor to see if there are people inside.
<Ascii> Ascii looks around to see the local scenery.
<Hans> "I feel like we just got ditched at an orphanage."
<mainstreet> Vivi: They look to be empty.
<mainstreet> Ascii: Mountains loom over the castle itself. You turn around and see a fairly dense forest. You can see a path meandering from the castle through the woods.
<Vivi> "Hello? Is anyone in there?" Vivi asks the suit of armor closest to her.
- Nenni looks about. No welcoming party in sight? He sure hopes when prisoners get the Rope Trick here, there's more of an entourage.
<mainstreet> Vivi: The suit doesn't respond, but nonetheless, one of the doors creaks open.
- Vivi makes a note in her notebook to ask the dragon about spells that animate suits of armor.
<Ascii> "Hmm." Ascii reaches out and lifts up one of the suits' faceplates.
<mainstreet> An armored, hulking, bearded man peeks his head out from the door. "Well? What are you waiting for? Come on, hurry up, we've got a lot to talk about!"
<mainstreet> Ascii: The faceplate appears to be sealed shut.
<Ascii> "Huh." Deciding he's not *that* curious, he moves on.
- Vivi follows Ascii inside.
- Nenni sniffs a suit to check whether it smells of tired and sweat and sore feet and boredom.
<mainstreet> Nenni: No.
- Nenni trots on inside.
<mainstreet> You enter into a wide hallway, big enough for four of you to stand alongside each other. Torches provide light along the hall. You proceed into the interior, You can detect four distinct paths off to the side, two on each side, as well as the main path leading to the main courtyard. You can vaguely make out the shape of a huge winged creature in the main courtyard. The man continues to lead you down the main path. You note every path you see appears to be large enough for at least three of you to proceed through.
<mainstreet> You eventually find yourselves in the main courtyard. You can see that it's mostly covered, but there does seem to be a gate that can be opened from below -- if you can fly up there, anyway. A handful of passages can be seen throughout the four walls.
- Nenni peers more intently at the large winged thing with some good old Darkvision.
<mainstreet> The courtyard is brightly lit, and you can see her clearly now. A huge shining copper dragon towers over you. Curiously, unlike your past experiences, firsthand or from depictions, this dragon's body appears to be healthily maintained, more compact and powerful than many you've seen.
<Ascii> Ascii lets out a whistle. "Now that's a dragon."
<Nenni> Nenni purrs, "Wow, you make me feel Small."
<Nenni> (when actually I'm Tiny)
- Vivi wonders if now would be a good time to ask her some technical questions, and decides probably not.
<Hildyr> "Hmm. Not bad."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth rumbles amusement. "Welcome to my castle. I can't imagine those that are coming for what is mine are anything but competent, so be ready for a very... dangerous... challenge tomorrow. Nonetheless, I am pleased I have options."
<mainstreet> Her head bobs from side to side a bit. "And yet... we have a lot to discuss for details, and this is not optimal for me. Pardon me a moment." She starts to glow...
<mainstreet> She shrinks a fair bit, and starts changing shape. After a few more seconds, the glow fades.
<mainstreet> A woman stands before you, almost glowing with the sheer energy she exudes. Easily six and a half feet tall, copper hair falling halfway to her waist, piercing green eyes, scaled armor, also coppery in color goes from neck to toe, perfectly wrapping around her rather curvaceous figure.
- Nenni is in love.
<mainstreet> "Okay, then, let's get to business. I have eggs to protect. And there are a lot of ways we can do this. But I won't be here for this. This is on you. I want to hear from you first. What's your plan?"
- Nenni watches, unblinking, and quietly purring to himself.
- Vivi strokes Aeth and momentarily pictures him as a diminutive, metallic human.
<Ascii> Ascii wolf-whistles. "Now *that's* a dragon."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth gives Ascii her best withering stare. Ascii also hears a distinctive half-growl from behind him, where the armored man is.
- Nenni wonders if the armoured man will soon turn into a dragon.
<mainstreet> --END GAME--