Geometric Archipelago:Dragons on Semicircle Island/Chapter 18
Chapter #18:My Least Hated Favorite Fish
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN SESSION---
<mainstreet> You find yourselves once more in the YGP Inn. Heather is once more hanging out at one of the tables here. This time she's alone, though.
- Vivi_ lets Ascii take the lead on this, what with being better at talking to women. And men, usually, for that matter.
<Nenni> As luck would have it, Nenni has been making his rounds listening in to the local rumours and turns up at the YGP Inn, reuniting with the party.
<Ascii> "Oh, hey Nenni. Any luck?"
<Nenni> Nenni catches the team up with his findings via Aethnet. The only thing he's found that they don't already know seems to be no evidence that Lodrano is aware of any attacks.
<Vivi_> ("So she's probably working on her own. I wonder if she's planning to attack Lodrano, too.")
<Ascii> Ascii draws himself up, readies his BS deflectors, and approaches Heather.
<mainstreet> Heather spots Ascii and gets a big grin on her face. "Well, hell-oooo there again. Missed me?" She bats her eyelids.
- Vivi_ casts Detect Thoughts on Heather.
<Ascii> Ascii puts on his most grave expression. "We need to talk. About your sister."
<mainstreet> Vivi_: Heather's thoughts remain an enigma to you.
<mainstreet> "What about her?" she asks lazily.
- Vivi_ mentally curses people with hard-to-reach minds, but she keeps the cursing off the Aethnet.
<Ascii> "Have you noticed anything different about Lauren lately?"
<mainstreet> Heather leans back, lazy grin still firmly in place. "No I haven't. But I haven't seen her in weeks. She's such a downer, constantly worrying about politics and such. I try to avoid her. The only good thing about politics is it helps me stay rich," Heather gives Ascii a big wink.
<Ascii> "Hmm. Whose money are you spending - yours, or your father's?"
- Nenni thought staying rich was all about NOT spending money.
<mainstreet> Heather keeps grinning. "We're a family. Those aren't different things."
<Vivi_> "Would your father lose money if half his soldiers get wiped out in fights with street gangs?"
<Ascii> "They might be. There's an imposter in the Rainbow House pretending to be your sister. She has your father's ear. And at his rate, she's likely ot end up with his money and power, too."
<mainstreet> Heather blinks, and suddenly drops her grin. "Wait, what? Explain!"
<Ascii> "You heard me. There's a fake Lauren holed up in your house impersonating the real one, and she's already convinced your dad she's the real McCoy."
<Ascii> "Which means at least one outside person or group has a hand in your family's purse."
<Vivi_> "And she's used that position to order futile attacks on street gangs."
<Ascii> "Who are of course going to fight back, slaughtering countless people on both sides."
<mainstreet> "How do you know that she's a fake?" Heather asks, frowning now. "Also, Lauren can't order attacks. Only Father can. This doesn't make any sense."
<Ascii> "We believe she's convincing your dad to approve the attack."
<Ascii> "And we know she's fake because the real Lauren is rolling with us. We got thrown out of the Rainbow House because your dad wouldn't even listen to us."
<mainstreet> Heather stays silent for a moment. "That's... possible, I guess. Father has always been a little... easy. A stronger-minded person doesn't let me get away with as much as I do," Heather snickers to herself. "Fine. It's reasonable. So what do we do about it?"
<Ascii> "Well, we figured that would be a good reason for you to help us. It won't be easy to live this...erm, life of luxury you're accustomed to..." He glances around the bar. "...ahem. If someone else is threatening to topple the prez from within. Our plan is to rally you and all your siblings, and then hope all of you together can vouch for the real Lauren and convince your father to listen."
<mainstreet> Heather looks around slowly. "Okay. It's worth a try. But I'll tell you that I'm not exactly... on my siblings' level... in terms of capabilities. Whoever is impersonating my sister, if someone is, is not going to go quietly. I'll be an easy target. Relatively speaking."
<mainstreet> Heather gasps. "Wait, no, bigger problem. My father's even worse than I am. If an impostor thinks she's been discovered, and she's that close to him, she may just kill him outright."
<Ascii> "Yeah, that's the other problem. We do need a way to make sure we can take her. Ideally, we want to meet your dad *without* her around, because otherwise she's going to be trying to counter-argue us."
- Vivi_ looks thoughtful. "Maybe if Aeth delivers an armor spell to him before she knows what's up? Or if we can use that Hold Person wand on her..."
<Ascii> "But we can't exactly walk into his office, and we're pretty sure she's not going to leave the Rainbow House as long as she knows we're hanging around."
<Vivi_> "Are there spells up at Rainbow House to prevent a Dimension Door directly into his office?"
<Ascii> "What I would really *like* to do is find out who she really is, so we know what we're up againsts. But I have no idea where to start."
<Vivi_> ("We could visit Leo of the Lodranos, and find out if his pet Cecilia is really missing.")
<mainstreet> "I haven't the faintest idea myself, not having seen her... if the point is to impersonate to control Father, she's not going to leave his side for basically any reason, otherwise anyone could do exactly what you're proposing, with ease."
<Nenni> ("Presumably when they retire in the evening, they sleep apart, though")
<Ascii> "But still in the same house. Which we can't get into."
<Ascii> "...hmm. *Can* we get into it? I don't suppose you know any way to get us inside...?"
<mainstreet> "Yes, I have access, as the President's daughter. I presume the only reason you had trouble before is that the real Lauren was presumed fake. I have the full run of the place. And I do sleep there. I usually don't do anything there but sleep, though."
<Ascii> "Do you just spend all day here at the bar? Like...every day?"
- Vivi_ listens, having also kinda wondered that.
<mainstreet> Heather sighs. "I have been, yeah, since the election. It was fun, playing with people. It's been getting less fun. Now... it's actually starting to get boring. But I don't really have anything else to do. The downside to having an important Father is that he doesn't really have time for you."
<Ascii> "Have you tried the usual things to fill the void in your life? You know, smoking, gambling, sex, that sort of thing."
<Vivi_> "I always find a good book helps," Vivi suggests.
<mainstreet> Heather frowns. "I'd rather not go down the same route as my sister," she comments to Ascii. "Kaitlin, I mean, not Lauren. She's been practically disowned for focusing on a sex life. That's politics for you, really, overthinking sex a lot. And smoking and the like kills you. I don't even drink anything heavy. There's a good chance what I got when I'm here is water. Same principle." Heather looks over at Vivi. "I could read my way through the library, sure, but... it's not *me*."
<Ascii> "Sounds like maybe you don't know what *is* you."
<Ascii> "I'd figure out what that is, and then do that."
<mainstreet> Heather shrugs. "I'm open to suggestions. But don't we have bigger priorities right now than trying to 'fix' me?"
<Ascii> "Not fixing, just a little philosophical chat. But, yeah. We're hopefully meeting with the rest of your siblings later."
<mainstreet> "And where, for that matter?"
<Vivi_> "Become a mother, study wizardry to become more powerful, open a dress shop, or a blacksmith's shop..." Vivi spouts off, belatedly.
<Vivi_> "Tomorrow we're talking with Allan, and Kaitlin will hopefully have an answer by tomorrow, too. No specific place or time set yet."
<mainstreet> Heather nods. "Well, you know where I'll be. Right here. Or, one of these tables, anyway. I'll think about what you've said. It's about all I can do anymore, really."
<Ascii> Ascii grins. "If you're still bored when all of this is over, I'll flirt with you again. Beyond that, there's not much I can do." He turns to the others as he leads them away from the table. "Alright, so...now what? We've still got some time to kill, don't we?"
<Vivi_> "Maybe we should warn Leo and the Lodranos about these attacks."
<Ascii> "I suppose we should. More allies is good, plus if we don't, we might get accused of favoritism."
<Ascii> "We'd better hoof it, then. Where are we going?"
<Vivi_> "This way," Vivi says, heading off in the appropriate direction.
<mainstreet> A few minutes of walking causes you to end up in the slums. Similar to your entry into Kelda territory, a man dressed head-to-toe in blue, in a rather standard sword-and-armor getup, is standing guard. Well, I say he's standing. He's actually leaning against a post and appears to be dozing off.
<Ascii> "The doorman, I presume."
<Vivi_> ("Sneak past, or wake him up?")
<Ascii> ("Eh, let him sleep. If they have a problem with people coming around here, they ought not to post a lookout who's prone to napping."
<Ascii> Ascii moves to the far side of the street to avoid potentially waking the hooded man.
- Vivi_ follows Ascii, quietly.
- Vivi_ continues making her way toward the Thieves' Hall.
<Nenni> Since the sentry doesn't seem to be making much effort to obstruct access, Nenni sees no reason why the party shouldn't just slink past (nosily if need be) and pay if it's demanded.
<mainstreet> Nenni: You fail to spot the banana peel perched directly beneath your feet. You slip and crash into a nearby trash can with a loud CLANK.
<mainstreet> The guard wakes up slowly. "Huh... wha... hey, you guys! You can't just walk into these parts!" He glares at The Party. "What are you doing here?"
- Nenni doesn't have much use for money anyway...
- Vivi_ holds up the paper. "Trying to help y'all not get raided."
<mainstreet> The guard inspects the paper. "This legit here?"
<Ascii> "Yeah. We'd like to meet with your boss."
- Nenni shakes himself after embarrassingly crashing into the garbage while distractedly looking at the sentry. Should have looked where he's going! He doesn't look forward to licking himself clean this time.
<mainstreet> "Huh... okay, yeah, if this is legit, proceed straight to the Hall. Second left, third right, big building, password for today is 'sole'," the guard informs you. "Leo don't like liars though. Be smart."
- Vivi_ nods and follows his directions.
<mainstreet> You make it to the Thieves Hall. There's no one around. You see a single door. It has a peek slot.
<Ascii> Ascii knocks.
<Ascii> Ascii doesn't just do any old knock, though. Oh, no.
<Ascii> Ascii does...Shave and a Haircut.
- Nenni is too short to peek through the slot, and feels downcast.
<mainstreet> The slot opens. "Password?"
<mainstreet> You can't see anything but a pair of eyes.
- mainstreet flips those lines
<mainstreet> "Hmmph. My least hated favorite fish," the person behind the door mutters, then opens the door. You see it's a gnome, standing on a chair. He's dressed in all blue. "Yeah, yeah, come on in."
- Nenni licks his lips at the mention of fish.
<mainstreet> You proceed inside and find a rather smoky dive bar type atmosphere. There is a bar on one end, in fact, and you can see another gnome sitting at the bar fiddling around. A few tables are set up for various games, as are a few generic tables. Only one table seems to be occupied right now, three men are playing cards. There are also a series of private rooms that dot the back wall.
- Nenni trots inside, sniffing for food and definitely looking carefully to make sure he doesn't careen into any rubbish bins.
- Vivi_ decides to stop pretending she has people skills and lets Ascii ask which one is Leo.
<Ascii> Ascii ambles on up to the bar. "We're looking for Leo."
<mainstreet> "Oh yeah? Why's that?"
<mainstreet> "Also, you want a drink?"
- Vivi_ tries to keep an eye on everyone to make sure no one is trying to pickpocket her.
<mainstreet> Vivi: As it happens, that's not hard. There's just your party, the bartender, and the three guys at the card table. You get the feeling that this place will start to heat up later in the night.
- Nenni comforts Vivi that her social skills (at least concerning cats) are nothing to worry about.
- Vivi_ scratches Nenni's head and feels comforted.
<Ascii> "We have important information for him. We believe his followers are going to be raided tonight by the government."
<mainstreet> "Got any proof of that?"
- Nenni definitely thinks that sounds like "this place will start to heat up later in the night." if the town guards use incendiaries.
- Vivi_ holds up the sheet for the bartender to look at. "We'd prefer to show it to Leo?"
<mainstreet> The bartender takes half a glance. He sighs. "Well, Leo lives here. The corner room," he points all the way in the back corner, "actually goes to his place -- unlike the other rooms, that's his actual home. He'll use the room next to *that* tonight when we're in the main party, though."
<Vivi_> "Thanks." Vivi heads for the corner room.
- Vivi_ resists the urge to knock Shave and a Haircut, and instead does just three steady knocks.
<mainstreet> The door opens. A half-orc, dressed all in blue again, stands there, looking at you suspiciously. "Whaddaya want?"
<Vivi_> "Are you Leo?"
<mainstreet> "Nope. I'm Bork. I guard this door for the boss."
- Vivi_ stops talking and waits for Ascii to get them past Bork.
<Ascii> "For the third time, we need to talk to Leo. Impending attack, documents to prove it, blah blah blah." He flashes the papers.
<mainstreet> Bork frowns. "Wait here. I'll check on the Boss. He doesn't like strangers in his home much." He slams the door.
<mainstreet> You're standing there for about five minutes, then the door opens. A slim blonde woman in a very threadbare blue dress pops her head out. "Master's ready to see you. Follow me," she says softly.
- Vivi_ looks to see how closely the blonde woman resembles Lauryn.
<mainstreet> Vivi_: Not much, really. This woman is small and delicate. About the only thing they have in common is their hair.
- Vivi_ follows the woman.
- Ascii looks closely to see how closely this woman resembles a supermodel.
<mainstreet> The halls are utilitarian and quite boring as you proceed.
<mainstreet> Ascii: You look at her, and think that she fits the type for it, or at least, once did. She might well be pretty enough to be one, but she completely lacks the confidence and sense of power a model would project. She feels helpless to your eyes.
- Nenni trots after the perfectly normal human female with Vivi, unaware there'd be anything to wonder at.
<mainstreet> You make it into what appears to be a living room of some sort. Bork is standing in one corner of the room. You see a pair of large semicircular couches with a table in the middle.
<mainstreet> One of the couches is quite full. Four human women, all blondes, are lounging and, surrounding a massive figure partially in shadow. All of the women are dressed in blue -- two of them have similar dresses to your guide, and two of them are dressed much fancier. All of them are pointedly looking away from the individual in the middle, staring at the floor quietly. Your guide joins the others on this couch and assumes a similar position. Even up close, it's hard to figure out who the individual is. Logic dictates this is Leo, but he's cast in shadow and appears to be using a magical effect to occlude his appearance, not merely engage in a disguise.
<mainstreet> He speaks, a harsh, guttural voice that seems distorted as well. "You have information on an attack?"
- Vivi_ hands the paper over, looking at his arm as he reaches out to take it, to see if she can see blue scales on his arm.
<mainstreet> Vivi: Indeed, you spot blue scales on his arm as he takes the paper.
<mainstreet> He sits there for a minute. "Why should I believe this true?"
- Vivi_ feels satisfied inside as she pets her pseudodragon.
<Vivi_> "When was the last time you saw Cecilia?"
<Ascii> "We have reason to believe someone is manipulating the president. They're also planning to attack your rivals tonight."
- Nenni suspects Leo could Detect Lies on the group if he doubts their sincerity.
<mainstreet> Leo looks up. "Isn't she in her room sick?" His ladies all get visibly paler when he asks this. He notices this, and grabs the well-dressed lady next to him roughly, pinning her against the couch wall. "EXPLAIN. NOW."
<mainstreet> The lady gulps... "Cecilia... asked us to cover... my lord, I promise I..."
- Vivi_ frowns and suddenly regrets not letting this thug's troops get destroyed.
<mainstreet> The lady is suddenly thrown with force against your couch. Vivi manages to just barely avoid geting hit by her.
<mainstreet> Leo stands up. "Stay here!" he commands as he storms off elsewhere into the house.
- Nenni quickly manifests Detect Hostile Intent
- Vivi_ takes the lady's hand and helps her up. She looks around. "Do you all want me to sneak you out of here?"
<Nenni> ("If she needs rescuing from danger, I fully support it.") Nenni says via Aethnet.
<Vivi_> "I don't know if we can take him directly, but this is NOT cool," Vivi says hotly to Ascii.
<mainstreet> The lady looks around nervously and whispers to Vivi. "Even if you got me and Susan out," she indicates the other well-dressed woman there, "the others won't leave, they're too brainwashed, and he'll just take his anger out on them. We can handle it. I thought Cecilia would be back by now."
<Ascii> "Vivi, you have to pick your fights. We're here to unite everyone, not to start a fight."
- Vivi_ frowns. "You don't think you can un-brainwash them?"
<Ascii> "Non-magical brainwashing isn't an easy thing to fix."
<Nenni> "I don't think WE are looking to START a fight - just prevent one."
<mainstreet> "No. Any attempt to do so, they'll likely just report to him. They're that loyal," the lady replies to Vivi, still talking as softly as possible. "At least, it would have to be very delicate and slow -- and away from him. But they'll want to return to him."
<Nenni> "Sounds like Cecilia might not be as loyal... might her play for power be to 'rescue' you all?"
- Vivi_ rummages in her bag. "Here. In case you can convince them at some point in the future...take these." She hands her 2 magic wands. "Summoning monsters might distract him long enough for you to escape."
<Ascii> "I doubt it."
<Ascii> "vivi! Stop formenting rebellion!"
<mainstreet> "If she's behind this attack plan, then maybe. Though she'd probably be happy simply killing the Master, rather than a rescue."
<Vivi_> "Hide them for now," Vivi instructs.
- Vivi_ gives Ascii a Look.
<Ascii> "Oh, please. Your dirty looks won't work on me."
<Vivi_> "It's bad enough the Red Ladies call their humans 'pets', but at least those 'pets' were willing and happy. This," she waves her hands at the ladies, "is NOT OK."
- Nenni growls in agreement.
<Ascii> "Ugh." Ascii throws his hands up in defeat. "Fine, do whatever you want. But if you piss off the big-ass blue guy and his whole gang, I'm telling him it was your fault."
<mainstreet> The lady sighs and simply hands the wands back to you. "You just tried to give me these in full view of the brainwashed girls," she hisses at Vivi. "They'll be confiscated within minutes of you leaving if you leave them with me now."
<Nenni> Via Aethnet, Nenni muses, ("It sounded as if the 'pet's of the others were at least well fed and looked after... whereas these might seem a little neglected. They likely gain some protection from association with Leo, but they might not have agreed to the full cost.")
<mainstreet> ---END SESSION---