Geometric Archipelago:Dragons on Semicircle Island/Chapter 16
Chapter #16: Decisions, Decisions...
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN GAME---
<mainstreet> You all come to wake in the flophouse, ready for the next day's action!
- Vivi_ prepares her spells for the day and begins studying the Teleport spell from the wizard's spellbook.
<Ascii> Ascii rolls over and opens his eyes to see a toad staring him in the face. "GAH!"
<Ascii> He sits up. "Oh, right, forgot about you. Vivi, we need some peer-to-toad communication here."
- Nenni refills his manabowl for the day.
- Vivi_ waves her hand vaguely at Aeth while continuing to focus on the spellbook.
<Vivi_> Aeth looks at the toad as if he wants to do something other than communicate with it...something more tasty.
<mainstreet> Vardon is pretty pissed off. When I leave out the foul language, he doesn't say anything.
<Ascii> "Yeah, well, you're the one who tried to kill us with lightning, remember? You should be thankful. If You hadn't been toaded you would have been melted into slag by that she-dragon."
<mainstreet> Vardon grumbles a bit more. ("Guess you have a point. But I think I'd rather be on an outer plane than an insane toad.")
<Ascii> "Your boss is dead. Assuming we turn you back, now what?"
<mainstreet> ("I do whatever I want, I guess. It's not like I wanted to do any of that anyway.") Vardon comments. ("I thought the plan was inane and unnecessary. But She didn't listen to me.")
<Ascii> "I suppose you had a better one?"
<mainstreet> ("Not really, but clearly someone does. I mean, you just encountered someone that likely has already taken over the island. Without firing a shot.")
<Ascii> "You mean Not Lauren."
<mainstreet> ("Yeah. That person. The President's obviously eating out of her hand.") Vardon snickers. ("Good luck with that one.")
<mainstreet> ("He's right,") Lauren adds. ("No one's going to impersonate me for laughs. They're after power.")
<Ascii> "Were you actually part of that dragon cult, or just a hired hand?"
- Nenni goes back to being curled up asleep next to Laurencat.
<mainstreet> ("Neither.") Vardon replied irritably. ("I was married. And males generally don't have much say in drow relationships. I just followed her around. Well now I'm a widower. Thanks for that,") he finishes sarcastically.
<Ascii> "Wait, you were *married* Ravansell?"
<mainstreet> ("Indeed I was.")
<mainstreet> ("I don't understand the question.")
<Vivi_> ("He didn't likely have much choice,") Vivi says via Aethnet, not bothering to speak the words aloud.
<Ascii> "Yeesh. Yeah, toading is definitely a step up. If we turn you back to normal, you're not going to try to take horrible vengeance on us or anything are you?"
<mainstreet> ("Probably not. I would be more inclined to treat you nicely in the future if I had my spellbook back, as well, but I'll settle for my life.")
- Vivi_ bristles at the thought of possibly losing her cool new spells, but says nothing.
<Ascii> "Vivi, what would it take for you to give the poor guy his book back?"
<Vivi_> At this, Vivi turns and gives her full attention to Ascii and the toad. "A really, really good reason?"
<Ascii> Ascii rolls his eyes. "Yeah, sorry, I don't think she's giving it up. Okay, back in the bag, I'll turn you back once we get out of here." He puts the toad back into the pouch and then back into his pack. "Speaking of which, what *is* our plan here?"
<mainstreet> Lauren meows. ("I came up with two options during the night, but neither of them sound great to me. I'm willing to listen to anything else anyone else has. It's probably better.")
- Nenni purrs at Lauren's adorable Feline meow.
<Vivi_> "She has something to block attempts to detect her thoughts."
<mainstreet> ("Of course she does. If someone could detect her thoughts, they'd know instantly she was a fake.")
<Nenni> "Does nobody have the ability for True Seeing what she is behind her disguise?"
<Vivi_> "We don't know if she's using a Hat of Disguise, a shapechange spell, or something else."
<Nenni> "It could even be a Doppelgänger."
<Ascii> "Or she could just be a normal person who happens to look a lot like Lauren. No magic needed, no True Seeing will help."
<mainstreet> ("In fact, that's one option. Confront her directly. If she's impersonating me, she's presumably sleeping in my bed here in the City. We can sneak in and sabotage whatever method she's using. Or, we can just try to kill her. But if we break in and are caught, it's going to be a lot harder to get out -- we won't just get let out of jail like we were last time.")
<Ascii> "Getting caught trying to assassinate the president's daughter would likely mean a death sentence for all of us. No thanks."
<Nenni> "Your GATO forces must have sophisticated techniques for verifying their genuine agents from imposters and impersonators. Any light they could cast on this?"
<Vivi_> "I could send my Prying Eyes to spy on her. May or may not help."
<mainstreet> ("Oh, if she tries to use my GATO position for anything she'll be almost certainly detected and stopped immediately. The problem is that Father doesn't know I'm a GATO agent, and frankly, the imposter might not either. If she's impersonating the person Father thinks I am... she'll probably stay well away from anything of the sort.")
<Nenni> "So they don't have any way of unguising her."
<Ascii> "It's not a question of unguising her. That's not the problem."
<mainstreet> ("If it was a magical enchantment of some sort, sure, I could probably get my hands on a scroll of Antimagic Field or something. But True Seeing would've picked up on that. Frankly, True Seeing would've picked up on a lot. I'm not sure there's a way to outright break her disguise if True Seeing doesn't help.")
<Ascii> "Does it help? Was anyone using it earlier when we saw her?"
- Vivi_ shakes her head 'no'.
<mainstreet> ("A couple of personnel in the Rainbow House have it. I'd be surprised if she were simply relying on evading them all the time.")
<Ascii> "Then we can assume she'd not using magical means of disguise. That would mean she's either a look-alike, or a skilled disguise artist."
<mainstreet> ("Or both.")
<Nenni> "What's her story for how she vanished in the dead of night with a scream and waltzed back into town yesterday morning? That must be something of the talk of the town considering how concerned so many were for her abrupt, unexplained departure."
<Ascii> "Well, first things first. Lauren, what're the chances of us catching her away from your father, getting either of them by themselves?"
<Vivi_> "If she wants to eventually take HIS place, in disguise, she may be spending lots of time with him to learn his mannerisms."
<mainstreet> ("Under normal circumstances, excellent. We don't spend that much time together. But she's probably sticking to him like glue to prevent exactly this sort of detection gambit. It's the obvious move. She'll probably only be away from him when she has to be.")
<Ascii> "That's not what I meant, Vivi. If she's not using magic I doubt she can pass for a completely different person for long."
<Ascii> "Any way we can force them apart?"
<Nenni> On a private channel, via his own telepathy rather than Aeth, Nenni suggests to Vivi, "We could also consider the possibility that the reunited Lauren is the genuine article, and *this* Lauren is the one trying to take her place, and she has an ally in Jack who's able to release her from jail. It might even be a good thing to replace that Lauren with ours... but so far all we have to go on is *our* Lauren's story, and she is a shape-shifter..."
<mainstreet> Lauren scratches the dirt. ("Welll... I don't have an official position, so I wouldn't be let into something like a critical Island security meeting. But we'd need to either let someone that can call such a meeting onto who we are, and thus the ability to do it. Or, we need to manufacture a crisis that will force Father to call a meeting on his own.")
<Ascii> "Hmm. You said you have a second idea, Lauren. Something tells me I know what it is, but let's hear it."
<mainstreet> ("Another option we have... if all my siblings were assembled, and all of them backed me up that I was the real one, we can probably persuade Father... at least to force a confrontation that can result in her making a mistake. Ideally, into just outright not believing her, but more probably, into just giving us both a chance to prove it. Something like a Zone of Truth spell at the time will really help. But we need to get into a
<mainstreet> reasonable position for that. And that means not through me, but through my siblings.")
- Vivi_ nods almost imperceptibly at Nenni, having briefly toyed with that idea, but not having thought it through yet.
<Vivi_> "Where would we find your siblings?"
<mainstreet> Lauren mentally sighs. ("Yeah, that would be the problem. I have three siblings. Allan, Heather, and Kailtin. None of them are exactly the types of people you want to be interacting with if you can help it. Then again, we did just survive an encounter with Voranath... Allan is her consort. We should be able to contact him just by going through the draconic contact. Heather... she's a useless bitch, frankly, but I guess we need her. She probably roams the bars or something. Those two, are the simplest.") Lauren replies.
<mainstreet> ("Kaitlin... is a problem. More specifically, because the family generally tries to pretend she doesn't exist. She's actually rejected our family, and high society in general. Instead, she favors the lowest... specifically, she's part of the Kelda gang that runs this part of town. I haven't seen her in a good while, and I'm not totally sure how she'd react to my presence. Or, for that matter, how Father would react to hers. Having a daughter in a gang tends to damage political credibility.")
<Vivi_> "Would we need her? Could we just present you to the other siblings and let them handle your father?"
<mainstreet> ("It's possible, but it's also possible that two isn't enough. Also I'm always hesitant to trust Heather with anything important whatsoever. She flakes a lot and tends to only think about what pleases her in the moment.")
<Ascii> "Yeah, I met her in the bar when this all started. Wonderful lady."
<Ascii> "Okay, so here's a thought. Lauren, you're still Lauren, right? And Not Lauren can't be everywhere at once, especially if she's holed up in the Rainbow House. Can't you arrange for some public meeting or event for yourself that will force her to come out where we can get at her?"
<mainstreet> ("Anything we can set up, she can cancel. Although, if we show up ourselves... no, we'll just get ourselves picked as impostors again... damn, I wish Voranath's existence were public knowledge... we could just ask her to confirm it... although...")
<mainstreet> ("...we might be able to manufacture a crisis in the recordkeeping in Moosehead that she would be expected to go and fix. Which might also show up her incompetence in that matter. Unless she's at good at finances at I am. But that probably means either robbing the office to fudge data, or doing so on the bank's end...")
<Ascii> "We do have a 'friend' in the bank now. Kinda sorta. Ahem."
<mainstreet> ("Hmmm. If the impostor doesn't know about the egg incidents, a similar gambit from Beatrice might well work on her. If you think you can trust Beatrice to do it.")
<Ascii> "I'm not sure she has any reason to help us, to be honest. She's probably trying to figure out how to keep herself from being melted by an angry dragon."
<mainstreet> ("If I had a safe way to set Voranath loose on the impostor, I would. But I don't think she's going to be in any mood other than 'barely controlled rage' for the next several weeks.")
<Ascii> "I'm not sure either of the dragons *has* any other mood than that one."
<mainstreet> ("Not when people are trying to steal their eggs, not really. It's a parental sort of thing I guess.")
<Ascii> "...hmm. You could commit a crime and get her arrested for it. Then we 'reveal' that the crime was comitted by the imposter and you go back home innocent."
- Nenni talks Vivi through the very simple plan to surround the toad in quintessence so that it doesn't get to hear all our secrets and doesn't get to ribbit at inconvenient moments and doesn't run out of its 24 hours unless we want it to.
- Vivi_ scratches Nenni's head and points out that Ascii has the toad, not her, but go ahead.
<mainstreet> Lauren blinks at Ascii. ("How about no?")
- Nenni just wanted to make sure his suggestion makes sense to the team, and then waits until Ascii has finished his negotiations.
<Ascii> "Just putting ideas out there."
<mainstreet> ("That's a terrible idea. I won't do it.")
<Ascii> "I didn't say they were *good* ideas."
<mainstreet> Lauren shrugs. It looks weird coming from a cat. ("Well, we need to figure out which idea is the best idea.")
<Ascii> "I really don't want to get caught breaking into the Rainbow House. We need a way to make her come to us."
<Ascii> "Is there anything you absolutely *have* to do in your position that you can't wiggle out of, duty-wise?"
<mainstreet> ("Not until the next election cycle nears, which isn't for a couple of years. My 'position' is just with Party operations, which only really matter near an election. Well, aside from GATO, which as I said, probably doesn't apply.")
<Ascii> "I think rounding up your siblings might be our best option here. Everything else skirts awfully close to breaking the law - we get caught doing that and nobody will believe you're the real article."
<Ascii> "If we can get most or all of them on our side, your dad will be more likely to hear us out."
- Vivi_ shrugs. "Good a plan as any."
<mainstreet> ("If that is your decision, then that is what we shall do. We'll need to gather all three of them. Where do you want to start?")
<Vivi_> "Here, since we're already in Keldar territory."
<Ascii> "That does seem the logical choice."
<mainstreet> ("Alright, that means we need an 'in' with the gang. I don't know what Kaitlin's role is exactly. We haven't exactly been in contact. But I would suspect that she's not a nobody, because I can't see her sticking around somewhere if she could be more important by returning home.")
<Ascii> "Maybe we can track down that woman from yesterday."
<Vivi_> "I have a Locate Creature spell that might help."
<mainstreet> ("I don't see the point in looking for anyone specific. Might as well just walk into one of their businesses or clubs or something and ask. The trick will be getting them to actually cooperate instead of wanting to act tough to us.")
<Ascii> "I don't suppose anyone has experience in dealing with street gangs?"
- Nenni knows about Humanoids and their Traditions and Customs.
<Ascii> "I'm a cleric. Asking me to deal with gang bangers is like...well, asking a priest to deal with gang bangers. You saw what a bang-up job I did yesterday."
<Vivi_> "I'm a scholar. I don't have a clue about street gangs."
<mainstreet> ("Not to mention that Keldan leadership isn't likely to care about anything *you* have to say to them.") Lauren sniffs at Ascii. ("Vivi or Hildyr should be talking to them.")
<Ascii> "Again with the sexism. Remind me to find a Girdle of Gender-Changing."
<mainstreet> ("The rival gang on the other side of the city is just as bad in the other way,") Lauren shrugs.
<Ascii> "Maybe we should have a lock-in." He grins. "Alright, I guess we should get going."
<Nenni> Before going out into the unknown for the day, Nenni tries to convince his sceptics that "Objects sealed within quintessence are protected from the effects of time; in practical terms, they enter a state of stasis. Large quantities of quintessence could theoretically be gathered to preserve a complete living creature; if completely immersed, a living creature would not take the damage associated with partial contact." This would keep their options open-ended as to when (or if) Vardon gets detoaded, and keeps some of their secrets and actions and movements from him and wherever he goes in the future once he's released from toad form. Even though some believe it CAN hurt to just try, he's pretty confident he's understood the metaphysics (and he stands a lot more to lose than anyone else, anyway) and can just scrape off the quintessence within 1 minute if it doesn't work, no problem.
<mainstreet> Lauren stretches, still in her cat shape.
<Ascii> "Nenni, I already told the guy I'd release him when we get outside. You don't want to make me out to be a liar, do you?" Pause. "...don't answer that."
<Nenni> "Outside? You mean... immediately outside this building?"
<Ascii> "No, not immediately. After we get out there somewhere where we're not near the safehouse."
<Nenni> "If he's put into stasis, and at some point in the future you release him when we're outside, that seems consistent to me."
<Ascii> "Just in case. Don't want anyone knowing where we're crashing for now."
<Ascii> "We don't need stasis, he'll be out in 10 minutes tops."
<Ascii> Ascii leads the way outside and begins walking a block or so, looking for an alley to duck into.
- Vivi_ follows Ascii.
<mainstreet> You walk out on the streets, and see that it's largely your typical slum. Mostly residential, with scattered businesses. You notice that every business you come across has a red K painted into the window somewhere. An alley is not hard to find. You dart into one quickly. A woman dressed in red with a sword notices you entering the alley, but continues on her general patrol of the streets.
<Ascii> "Alright, here." Ascii deposits the toad on the floor, then Dispel Magics him back to normal.
<mainstreet> Vardon returns to his normal form. He glares at you all and runs off quickly.
<Ascii> "There's my good deed for the day. So, I guess we should find a dive bar or something."
<mainstreet> It's still early in the morning. Not the greatest time for bars. However, you can see a pawn shop on the street at the other end of the alley. You look into the window and see it's run by a woman who's also dressed in the red identifying her as Kelda member.
<Ascii> "Perfect. Pawn shops always have cool stuff."
<Ascii> Ascii enters, hoping he'll find something interesting.
<mainstreet> Ascii: You see a lot of interesting things. Various pieces of gear -- weapons, armor, bear arms, jewlery, and tools. It all looks of surprisingly good quality. The lady standing behind the counter instantly focuses on you but doesn't comment.
<mainstreet> ---END SESSION---