Geometric Archipelago:Gangs of Octagon Island/Chapter 16
Chapter Sixteen: Spherical Identification
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN SESSION---
<mainstreet> Our Heroes(?) begin their search to find the mysterious man known as "The Sphere". They stealthily move their way into the Yellow Union-controlled section of the city, and come to what looks like a seedy apothecary. The sign says "SPHERICAL POTIONS AND EXOTIC WARES"
Kanzel mutters "Think he'll buy an evil-aligned crystal ball?"
<Brellius> "Maybe, but I wouldn't trust him enough to do that."
Kanzel shrugs. "Okay."
<Capn_Ascii> "Yeah, keep an eye on your stuff around here, just in case." Ascii leads the way inside.
Brellius tags along
Capn_Ascii looks around to see what the inside looks like, as well as ID his 'contact'.
<mainstreet> Ascii: You see a fairly typical establishment. Racks of potions are placed on the walls and in a few stands in the middle. There's a long counter, behind which a few potions lie in the display case, as well as a few other items. Behind the counter is an Asian-looking merchant, staring at you. He's not what you've heard of The Sphere. That said, this is the correct establishment, so he can
<mainstreet> probably take you to him, if you approach it right.
Capn_Ascii steps up, and clears his throat. "Ahem. Say, friend, maybe you can help me. I hear there's some guy around here who actually thinks the world is *round*. How crazy is that, eh?" He winks a bit too conspiratorily.
<mainstreet> The guy rolls his eyes and fiddles with his hands under the counter a bit. "Yeah, I heard about that too. I also heard the door behind me's not locked. Or, it's not anymore."
<mainstreet> Sure enough, in the back corner on the right, a door awaits.
<Capn_Ascii> "Riiight. I get ya." He winks again. "Thanks." He leads the way, taking care not to do anything that might be misconstrued as aggressive or duplicitous.
Kanzel hesitates a bit.
Capn_Ascii opens the door.
<mainstreet> A narrow corridor is revealed. You walk a few feet, then come to an obstruction. Well, specifically, a boy of about fourteen is sitting there in your way, polishing a short sword, looking bored. "Oh... you have business here? What's the nature of this business?" he asks upon noticing you.
Brellius continues tagging along
<Capn_Ascii> "Uh. We're looking for..." He leans in and whispers. "...The Sphere."
<mainstreet> "Well, obviously, or you wouldn't be here," the boy replies, standing up, an annoyed expression flickering across his face. "The question is, why? What business do you have here?"
<Capn_Ascii> "We're looking to have some magical artifacts identified. They seem to be defeatibng my best efforts to do it myself."
<mainstreet> "Fair enough," the boy comments, walking down the corridor and gesturing at you to follow him. He opens a door and reveals a room beyond, which he enters. You file in behind him quickly.
<mainstreet> A rather empty desk dominates the smoky room. A man clad in yellow is standing in the far corner (both directions) where a door is closed. Behind the desk is a chair that is turned curiously away from the desk. Also of curious interest are the strange objects hanging from the ceiling. They appear to be constructs of bones, perfectly spherical, and made from many different types of creature.
<mainstreet> There are four of these in all. As you look back a bit, you notice another door on the same wall as the door you came through.
<mainstreet> "Yo, Jimmy, who are these guys?" a man asks squeakily. At least, presumably a man. The voice is coming from behind the chair, so you can’t be sure, especially with that squeak.
<mainstreet> "Some individuals who say they want information about some items," Jimmy announces with a surprisingly deep voice. At least, it’s deeper than when he talked to you in the corridor.
<mainstreet> "Very well then. Presumably you know me, but if you don’t, The Sphere’s my name, the brain’s my game, and the gray’s my pay. Or maybe the yellow, if it’s something that doesn’t overly weigh," the man rhymed with a squeak. His chair swivels, and he turns to face you. He’s an old, bald guy, heavily wrinkled, with a rather large head for his body, smoking something nasty with a pipe
<mainstreet> stuck in his mouth. Ewww!
<Capn_Ascii> "Uh, hello there, sir." Ascii bows. "We were hoping you could help us. We've come into possession of some items that I'm having no luck at prying into."
<mainstreet> "Yes, well, place them on the table, if you're able," The Sphere requests.
Capn_Ascii places the Three Sacred Treasur--er, the three items on the table: the crystal ball, the unreadable scroll, and the Scarab of Vaguely Insistent Dread.
<mainstreet> The Sphere watches the crystal ball spin a bit. "Well, what do you want to know?"
<mainstreet> "Specifically, that is."
Capn_Ascii pauses for a few moments to see if the ball 'likes' anyone in here.
<mainstreet> The ball spins, and apparently "gives up", just as it did before.
<Capn_Ascii> "Okay, then. Well, first, can you tell me anything about this spell scroll?" He points to it. "I can't seem to read it, even through the usual means."
<mainstreet> The Sphere looks at it, and peers for a minute or so. "It's not a spell scroll. It's code. It's rites of passage, I think. Hextorian ranks. Did you appropriate this from the Church? I bet they'll be pissed. Especially people looking to move up soon. They can't without one of these to help them through it."
<Capn_Ascii> "Reeeeeally? What's so special about it?"
<mainstreet> "Well, it's rites of passage... as in, promotions... you need to do the ritual prescribed here... to move up in rank. It's slightly different each time, see," The Sphere comments, pointing at a few swirls you can't make heads or tails of.
<mainstreet> "This seems to be a fairly standard work, though, so they'll probably make a new one in a few weeks."
<Capn_Ascii> "Why would they need a magical scroll just to write down their ritual procedure?"
<mainstreet> "There's a part about divine invocation... but it's not exactly a magical scroll. It looks like one. Looks."
<mainstreet> "I don't think they want their secrets getting into hands outside the Church. I can't decipher all of this, just a few parts... enough to tell me what it is. I couldn't recreate these rituals, though. Not without the code key, or someone who knew it."
<Capn_Ascii> "Is that why I couldn't read it? It's encoded?"
<mainstreet> "Yeah, you can't just 'read magic' this, because it's not magic exactly... it's Hextorian code."
<Capn_Ascii> "Feh. Well, maybe we can turn up a key later, but for now I don't rightly care about their rituals. What about this?" He points at the bug.
<Capn_Ascii> "This thing creeps me right the hell out, for some reason."
<mainstreet> The Sphere stares at it. "Don't touch it. DON'T! That's all I'm going to say... I wouldn't even let my worst enemy touch it. Well, maybe my *worst* enemy..."
<Capn_Ascii> "What? Why? What does it do?"
<mainstreet> "You don't want to know."
<Capn_Ascii> "...I *do* want to know. That's why I brought it to you."
<mainstreet> "You'll lose your lunch."
<Capn_Ascii> "I can take it."
<mainstreet> "Jimmy, go fetch a rat!" The Sphere yells. Jimmy nods and walks out the door.
<mainstreet> "I'll demonstrate when he gets back."
<Brellius> "It's going to be gruesome, isn't it?"
<Capn_Ascii> "I would hope so. What about the crystal ball?"
<mainstreet> "Crystal Ball... intelligent... well, relatively... granted so by the deity Hextor, and wishes to serve it... and its followers... won't really be of much use to anyone else... so I guess you guys did raid the Church of Hextor... it's not much concern of mine! But, yeah, quite useless, unless you kill the intelligence. And I have no idea if that's possible."
<Capn_Ascii> "Eh. It would be easier to just go find one that's not intelligent. Unless this one has some sort of unusual powers?"
<mainstreet> "Doesn't look like it to me. It's just a crystal ball with true seeing."
<mainstreet> "Actually... wait... no, the lesser form. My bad."
<mainstreet> "See invisibility. That's it."
Capn_Ascii blinks. "It...detects invisible stuff? That's *it*?"
<mainstreet> "Unless I'm missing... hmmm... I don't know, man... maybe... it can do all of the abilities normal to crystal balls... I don't know... this ball's intelligence is not letting me read it well."
<mainstreet> You notice Jimmy return with a rat. "Here you go," Jimmy announces, throwing the rat on the counter. The Sphere pulls out a pin and promptly pins the rat to the desk, preventing it from moving. He then grabs the box and flips the scarab onto the rat.
<mainstreet> The rat squeals and tries to get the scarab off, but the rat is held fast by the pin. After a minute or so, the scarab becomes alive, burrows into the rat, and pops back out, all in the span of about two seconds! The rat remains there, clearly dead.
<mainstreet> "One dead rat."
Capn_Ascii blinks. "Ouch. I knew I had a bad feeling about that thing. Is it a weapon?"
<mainstreet> "That'll kill any living thing that way. Maybe you can be fast enough to stop it if it activates... on occasion. You'll still get a big gash if you do stop it, though."
<Capn_Ascii> "Okay, so." Ascii ticks off on his fingers. "We've got a relatively useless scrying device, a piece of jewelry that burrows holes through your insides, and a copy of the Hextorian ascension rituals that we can't read without the decryption key." He turns to the others. "How is any of that useful, again?"
<Brellius> "They could be useful for selling."
Kanzel hold out the ring she found next to the box "What about this?"
<mainstreet> "A very interesting ring... a Ring of Telekinesis, I think... but... it's cursed... you also got this from Hextor's Church... it's locked down to Hextor's clerics... but this one is a simple curse... 'Remove Curse' should eliminate that little difficulty."
Kanzel takes it back "Thank you."
<Capn_Ascii> "Don't even think of wearing that. I'm not un-cursing you if you do."
<Kanzel> "Do you have Remove Curse prepared?"
Kanzel takes out the insensce blocks. "We also have these."
<Kanzel> "then I won't wear it until then."
<mainstreet> "Incense, eh... hmmm... meditation, I think... some of it... some other... obsession... Which is which, I cannot say..."
<Capn_Ascii> "I think he says it's just for burning."
<mainstreet> The Sphere sighs. "Some of this is meditiation incense. Some of this is obsession incense. I don't know which is which."
<Brellius> "Obsession incense?"
<mainstreet> "Yeah. I don't know a whole lot about it. Just... don't use it if you're not prepared to want to use spells excessively. Of course, I bet there are certain people whom it has no effect whatsoever on."
Kanzel nods. "Thank you." And puts those away too.
<mainstreet> "Is that all?"
<Capn_Ascii> "I think so. I don't suppose you know where to find a good code-breaker, do you?"
<mainstreet> "For that thing? Nah... only way you're going to get that cracked is by a cleric of Hextor."
<mainstreet> "Past or present."
<mainstreet> "Besides... why do you care? Unless you're trying to move up in the ranks... it's not really going to do anything for you."
<Capn_Ascii> "Just curious."
<Capn_Ascii> "I guess that does it, then. What do we owe you?"
<mainstreet> "I identified 5 items, so... 5 platinum."
<Capn_Ascii> "Pay the man, will you guys?"
Brellius retrieves the necessary money
<mainstreet> The Sphere scoops it up. "Jimmy, show 'em out."
<mainstreet> Jimmy nods, opens the door, and gestures down the corridor, intending for you to go first.
Capn_Ascii leaves, being careful to scoop up the scarab into its box and seal it tightly.
Kanzel takes everything else and follows
Brellius tags along
<CapnAscii> "Alright, guys...I hate to say it, but we need to get back into the temple and really dig around in the Hextor guys' business. I have an idea...come on, we're going back to my room."
<Kanzel> "Well, as long as you have an idea we might not be completely doomed."
<Capn_Ascii> Ascii leads the party back towards the privacy of his room.
<Capn_Ascii> "I have *a* idea, but you're going to have to not screw things up this time."
<Kanzel> "Oh yeah, because this has all been my fault."
<mainstreet> -------SCREEEEEEEEEEEE---FAST FORWARD---SCREEEEEEEEEE-------
<mainstreet> You all find yourselves in Ascii's room.
<Kanzel> "Okay, maybe some of it was my fault."
<Kanzel> "So what's this idea?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Glad we came to an understanding. Now..."
<Capn_Ascii> "Let me see that uniform you got from the shrine."
Kanzel hands it over.
<Capn_Ascii> "Okay, here's the plan. Kanzel, you'll disguise yourself as a Hextorian cleric of high rank; you can say you're from a temple from some place they've never heard of and you're here visiting. Once you're behind enemy lines, you can snoop around - but for Groglar's sake, don't foul up again or we might not get another chance."
<Capn_Ascii> "I'm going to see if we can craft a rank insignia to complete the outfit here."
<Kanzel> "There have been people snoop[ing around the last couple of days. Do you really think they'll trust me enough for that?"
<Capn_Ascii> "Hopefully, you'll be of a high enough rank that they won't risk pissing you off."
Capn_Ascii sets to work, using a mending kit he keeps in his nightstand to stich up tears in his boxers to embroider a patch with the requisite number of rank insignia to identify Kanzel as a Champion of Tyrrany.
<mainstreet> You got it, kid. It's there. Ish. Hopefully people aren't going to stare at her collar and notice the slightly uneven spacing. But it should pass a quick look inspection.
<Capn_Ascii> "Eeeh. Anyone else want to try and do it better? I'd rather not take any chances."
<Brellius> "I'll give it a go."
<mainstreet> Brellius: I would not advise wearing yours anywhere. That's just plain awful.
Kanzel tries as well.
<mainstreet> Kanzel: Yours is the best yet. It might actually pass a reasonable inspection. The only time yours won't pass is if someone's checking it minutely... in which case, the jig is probably up.
<mainstreet> And probably was before you were checked. ;)
<Capn_Ascii> "Hey, not bad. Not perfect, either, but hopefully nobody will be looking at you too closely."
<Capn_Ascii> "Let's stitch this on and then get you suited up."
<mainstreet> ---END SESSION---