Geometric Archipelago:The Longest Five-Pointed Night/Chapter 02
Chapter Two: There... are... FOUR... suspects!
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN GAME. SUNSEBB 15, 783, MIDDAY---
<mainstreet> Our two great Heroes of Triangle Island, Kanzel and Brellius, of you have been dispatched by Queen Ashley to Star City, in the heart of Five-Pointed Star Island, as a return of an old favor to Queen Kelsey of Five-Pointed Star Island. (Oh, and that Ascii guy from the last campaign is tagging along too.) Star City is a great metropolis -- anything and everything, especially magic related, can be found in this place. It’s considered one of the great magical centers of the world thanks to its unique population of almost all spellcasters; indeed, the entire island’s society is based upon proficiency in magic.
<mainstreet> Kelsey is widely regarded as the smartest and most powerful Wizard in the Archipelago. Her twenty-one year reign is one of the longest constant reigns in the Island’s history, notable due to the fact that the Island’s leadership is not handed down by bloodline, but rather, by contests of magic (which explain's the Island's general magic obsession!)
<mainstreet> You find yourselves entering the Star Tower Room, the primary office and audience chamber of Queen Kelsey, as it has been for Kings and Queens for centuries on the Island. Staircases appear on either side of you, circling up and above you into the Tower, the only part of the Palace to reach above two floors, though the Tower cannot, itself, be accessed from anywhere but this room, which is high enough to take up space in both floors.
<mainstreet> Surprisingly, the guards that escorted you here close the door in front of them, staying outside the room and leaving you seemingly alone with Her Majesty. The section of the room behind the throne, however, is in shadow. Windows are letting light in from the outside, but they are shuttered in the back, concealing the light.
<mainstreet> The throne itself is a wooden masterpiece of comfortable design and ornamentation. You notice most of the gems engaged on the throne are actually glowing with a magical light. Queen Kelsey herself is a small, elegant lady, a mere five and a half feet tall, you would anticipate, if she were to stand. Silver hair and brilliant blue eyes and robes of the same blue with subtle golden flakes and calligraphic markings complete her appearance. A wooden staff, the identity of which appears indeterminate to you, is resting at the side of the throne, barely within her reach. She exudes a quiet confidence that seems to command a simple respect.
<mainstreet> Kanzel: You also notice the very familiar ring of mind shielding on her left hand, as well as another magical ring sitting on her right hand which you believe is a ring of detect thoughts.
Kanzel notices these and nods, smiling slightly.
<Ascii> Ascii is standing at attention, more out of politeness than any real sense of respect. He's also unaware of that thought-detecting ring, if the ideas floating through his mind regarding the queen's surprisingly good looks at her age are any indication.
<mainstreet> "Greetings, adventurers. As you’ve probably figured out, I’m Kelsey Ravenwood, Queen of this Island... for the past twenty-one years, and at least the next few weeks. I have called you because we are about to enter the time of Needfest, when my position is open to challenge... and I am concerned that this time, at least one potential successor to my position desires the ward control of the Island moreso than actually ruling this Island."
<mainstreet> "There is only one reason that controlling the wards of the Island is more desirable than simply ruling the Island itself: intent to break them. This would allow for the arrival, in force, of nonhumanoid entities that will attempt to enslave, destroy, loot, and/or otherwise marginalize the people of Five-Pointed Star Island. I will not allow this."
<mainstreet> "Specifically, there are four people I am worried about, based on intelligence reports which I will not detail. Your mission, is to investigate, figure out which of these individuals is the threat, and prevent their participation in the Winter Tournament. You have until the 23rd when the high-level bracket is released, then they become legally untouchable, and not even I am willing to break tradition on that level. Since there’s one from each of the five Regions of the Island, except for my own, I will describe them in order for you:"
<mainstreet> "From Region One, we have Nathan Gozano, Professor of Sorcery at the Merlin Academy here in Star City. Officially labeled as a Sorcerer, though I suspect there may be more there... confirmed alignment Chaotic Evil. Intelligence hints at his being a significant suspect in this matter."
<mainstreet> "Region Two, we have Jasmine..."
<mainstreet> "Jasmine Adams, Island Councillor." interrupts a cold, haughty feminine voice. Out of the shadows steps out a disturbing woman, both beautiful and disgusting, her black hair cascading down over her too-pale face, dressed in breastplate armor and deliberately torn refractive outerwear. "I told you, Your Majesty, it’s not me. Evil, yes, but I would never do anything to imperil my own safety, or the safety of all of us, in such a manner. I’m aware Queen Kelsey distrusts me," she continues, talking now to the three of you. "I would expect no less. She is such a goody two-shoes, unwilling to quite get to the bounds of real power..."
<mainstreet> "And yet," the Queen retorted, "I’ve defeated you eleven different times, and at that you’ve never even reached the Queenbattle during my reign twenty-nine other times, including the last time. I let you skulk around back there as a courtesy, because you’re a member of the Island Council, not so you could be a bitch to my agents."
<Brellius> "Could you get back to the briefing?"
<mainstreet> Kelsey nods. "I believe the Councillor was just leaving," she fixes her gaze upon Jasmine, who smirks wider.
<mainstreet> "The fact that you’re asking for help with this threat of yours tells me you don’t think you can win this time. When I heard Triangles were coming to assist you on a matter of domestic importance, I figured the Council should be aware. So I stayed for a report. But I will see myself out," Jasmine saunters to the door and opens it. "Oh, if you feel like you absolutely have to 'investigate' me... Star City, A-Ring, number 235... if you dare," she adds, stepping out and closing the door.
<mainstreet> "The Councillor is a Dread Necromancer, Lawful Evil, as you may have noticed. We’re well-acquainted adversaries, and I simply don’t trust her. I can’t say for sure she’s the primary threat, but I can’t say she isn’t, either," Kelsey continues. "She has the ability, and the nerve, to pull it off."
<mainstreet> "From Region Three, my concern is a man known only as Jack. I have very little information at all about him, he’s seemingly popped out of nowhere. My intelligence operatives can’t get a very good read on him at all. He worries me due to the degree of his unknown. We know the minimum we can with his tournament registration... and intelligence is also concerned."
<mainstreet> "From Region Four, we have a ruffian Travis Brantley. I’m not quite sure how he operates, he’s a trader, but I don’t have much of a classification beyond Neutral Evil. It might also interest you to know that you would be quite... familiar... with his wife. If you take my meaning, though I know I can't officially comment on that to you."
<mainstreet> Kelsey slides a paper across her desk at you. "Councillor Adams already gave you her address, but here are the current residences and/or places of work of all four of the individuals I mentioned. I also have a gift for you. An invention of my own," she says, also putting what appears to be a simple hand mirror.
<mainstreet> "I have a mirror like it. It works somewhat like a Ring of Communication. Call my name, and please, just a first name if you’re using it, you don’t want to be obvious about who you’re calling, and I’ll appear in the mirror, but only to the person holding the mirror. No one else will see or hear anything from the mirror, though they may hear you. You can call me if you have urgent information for me, or if you’ve come across something that you believe demands my personal attention, though I will warn you if you tell me to come to you for something trivial I will be highly displeased. Information slightly more freely given, I have little more pressing than this case at the moment, it is mostly the political implications, plus the fact that my legs aren't what they used to be, that prevent me from investigating directly."
Kanzel picks both of them up.
<mainstreet> Kelsey leans back into her throne. "I know there's not exactly a whole lot to go on, because the reality is I don't exactly know much myself. But I'm worried. This is probably going to be my last tournament, and I'll be passing the throne on. I'll take questions now, but... I'm not sure I can be of as much help as you'd like."
<Kanzel> "What do these tournaments entail of?"
<mainstreet> "The Five-Pointed Star Winter Classic (and Summer Classic, for that matter) is essentially magical duels. hundreds of competitors in each of the five regions. The top fifty from each region wait while the rest of the competitors narrow the field down to fourteen more. Today, in fact, is the final registration date, and the lower brackets will be released on the seventeenth, with the tournament beginning on the eighteenth. The upper brackets of sixty-four are released on the twenty-third, begin play on the twenty-fourth, and continue until the regional finals on the first of Needfest. From there, the four regional champions other than Region Five, where I am from, playoff until there is a single winner. That winner alone has the right to duel me on the Solstice, fourth of Needfest. Regional champions, win or lose the playoffs, make up five of the six Island Councillors, and the monarch appoints the sixth member, except in transition time, which gets things slightly more complicated with more duels on the next two days. Arcane spells are the general flavor of the day, except outright death effects and anything that causes undue risk to spectators are illegal, and there are lists of allowed and disallowed items. Traditionally competition is limited to humans and elves."
<Ascii> Ascii blinks, barely able to follow all of that. "Uh. So...how long exactly do we have before it's too late?"
<mainstreet> "Today is the fifteenth of Sunsebb. The upper brackets, which all of these competitors are a part of, is on the twenty-third. Do not allow the bracket to be released without this solved. You likely will want a day to let the news spread. I recommend that under no circumstances do you drag your investigations longer than a week."
Brellius takes a look at the list of addresses
<mainstreet> Brellius: Conveniently, all the addresses are within Star City, though "Jack"'s address is a hotel room. You see the school Nathan works, his home, Jasmine's office here in the Palace, her house (the address mentioned), Jack's hotel room, the mercantile Travis works at, as well as his house.
<Ascii> "Do you have any existing leads on any of these folks? Anything that might get us started?"
<mainstreet> Kelsey frowns. "The only other thing I can think of is that intelligence links someone called 'the Ones' to this attempt. If you could research who the Ones are... but then, that probably refers to every group that presents itself with self-importance ever."
<mainstreet> "City library is B-ring, number 416, if you want to take a look."
Ascii nods. "Thank you, ma'am. We'll get right to work." He takes the list once Brellius is finished assimilating it.
<mainstreet> Brellius, Kanzel: Don't you find it odd that the great and powerful Queen Kelsey, undefeated in 40 straight tournaments, is so certain she won't win the upcoming tournament?
Kanzel looks up from examining the mirror "What makes you think you won't win this time?"
<mainstreet> Kelsey looks at Kanzel, a slight sadness in her eyes. "Sometimes, you realize that the stress of running an Island is more than its worth at one's advanced age, and it's time for a healthy change."
<Kanzel> "So you don't necissarily want to win as much as you did before, but you don't want it to fall in the wrong hands."
<mainstreet> Kanzel: The mirror seems to be a hand mirror, nothing special, except the small gold monogram K on the side, from just a mundane cursory examination.
<mainstreet> Kelsey returns a hard look to her face. "That speculation does not leave this room. Is that clear?"
<Ascii> "So, gentlemen..." Ascii turns to the others. "...where do we begin?"
<Brellius> "I say we start on this Gozano guy."
<Ascii> "Why's that?"
<Brellius> "He's the obvious suspect, so we'll either catch him quickly or find out it's not him quickly."
<Ascii> "Hmm. I guess that makes sense..."
<Ascii> "Anywho. I suggest that first, we head out and get the lay of the land, so to speak. I've never been to this city (or this island, for that matter...) and I want to get my bearings."
<Ascii> Ascii assumes his 'boss' posture. "Alright, let's roll!"
<Ascii> He bows to the queen, and proceeds to lead the way out of the throne room.
Brellius bows and tags along
Kanzel does the same and follows.
Ascii checks out the presumably sweet royal digs as he goes.
<mainstreet> Ascii: There not a whole lot of personality to this palace; it's practical and standard. That makes sense; this isn't the locale of centuries of dynasty, but rather a practical location who's occupants can potentially change annually. You see the various offices of the 6 Councillors, as well as the various bueraucratic departments, and a kitchen, as well as some more guarded areas you can't get a peek into, as you head out onto the street.
Ascii decides to head out the north door. Because north is usually the most important of the cardinal directions.
<mainstreet> Ascii: You find yourself in the teeming Avenue One. Carts travel the path, offering various foodstuffs and magewares of equally varying reputability. Important offices also line the road. You can see the handful of Ring Roads as you go into the distance, though A Ring is upon you almost immediately.
<Ascii> Ascii glances around as he walks, seeing what he can see. It occurs to him tha tthe first order of business would be to find a good base of operations - an inn or tavern, or perhaps a bar-n-grill style resturant with good hot wings.
<mainstreet> You spot a Worldwake Inn just off Avenue One on the C-Ring that looks alright. It is, in fact, right next to the local WingWorld, your one-stop shop for all things bird wing!
Ascii gravitates toward the buildings like a moth to a flame, stepping into the inn to recon it.
<mainstreet> Worldwake Inn seems like your standard two-diamond dive, competent enough, but not fancy. It's fairly large, too, several floors high, and well lit with those newfangled 'light bulb' thingies.
<mainstreet> The lobby is mostly deserted, with a single porter at the door, looking quite disinterested. An elflady is sitting behind the counter, feet kicked up onto it, reading a magazine.
<mainstreet> Off to one side you see the door to the inn's WORLDWAKE BAR. Inside seems to be a bit of a more crowded atmosphere, roughhousing and drinking and telling tall tales. A group is playing darts in the corner.
<Ascii> "Alright, looks like we're in business. Come, gentlemen." He leads the group with great strides toward the bar area, eager to see what passes for booze and/or entertainment around these parts.
<mainstreet> As you enter the bar area, you immediately get the stench of something foul. None of you have an issue with it, but... "Alright!" the lady behind the bar shouts, "What idiot decided to try engaging in S. W. D.? Get him or her out of my bar!"
<mainstreet> You see a pair of burly men grabbing an older man by the arms. "Alright, Billy, let's get you home."
<mainstreet> "But... but I just wanted to show off..." "Yeah, we get it, you're drunk, let's go."
<mainstreet> The bartender puts her hand in her face briefly, then looks up, noticing the newcomers. "Well, looks like we've got a few new faces. Come on up," the woman gestures at you to join her at the empty space in front of her. "What'll it be?"
<Ascii> Ascii ambles up to the bar with his best John Wayne saunter and takes a seat. "That depends. What've you got?"
Brellius walks up to the bar with significantly less sauntering. "We should probably stay sober."
Kanzel wanders up tot he bar with no saunter, glancing around. "Agreed."
<mainstreet> "Just don't be an idiot like Billy over there and actually spellcast while drunk. It never ends well. That's why there's the stink. I don't even know what he was trying to cast," the woman explains. "I'm working on venting it out, but it'll take a few minutes. You name it, I got it, though. Big city like this, you don't get the business by specializing unless you got more talent than I do."
<Ascii> "Hmm. It's early, so...something light, maybe?"
<mainstreet> "Light for Billy over there and light for me are two completely different things."
<mainstreet> Kanzel: You realize that the bartender's dress is the exact same shade of blue that you saw on Kelsey, and that her earrings have a small K on them.
<Ascii> "Point granted. Give me an ale."
<mainstreet> "Dwarven, elven, or human?"
<Ascii> "What's the difference?"
Kanzel blinks and checks for rings.
<mainstreet> Kanzel: Her hands are bare. You also note that she's a woman probably in her mid-40s
<mainstreet> Kanzel: Actually, hmm... she does bear a resemblance to the Queen... same eyes, similar build, though black-haired... perhaps a relation of some sort?
<mainstreet> "Dwarven ale is pretty thick, elven ale tends to be sweeter, human ale is more or less what you'd expect."
<Ascii> "Hmm. I'll try some elven ale, then. Haven't had that before."
<mainstreet> The barlady nods. "Alrighty... one elven ale coming up. I'll run the tab for you guys, so we don't have to bother with a ton of small transactions. Name?"
<Ascii> "Ascii. That's, uh, me by the way. These two can pay for their own drinks."
<mainstreet> The barlady smiles. "Fair enough. Names for you two, then?"
<Brellius> "I'm Brellius."
<mainstreet> The barlady writes the names down on her sheet, waiting on the last member of the group to speak.
<mainstreet> Scribble, scribble.
<mainstreet> The barlady scrabbles under the bar looking for Ascii's drink. "And what'll it be?"
<mainstreet> The barlady rolls her eyes at Seraphim and points at the blue cups stacked on the bar. "Self-filling water glasses. Command word for the day is 'Moolord'."
<Ascii> Ascii blinks. "...moolord?"
Kanzel takes one and stares at it. "Moolord."
<mainstreet> She pulls out the bottle she was looking for and quickly sets up a glass for Ascii. "Here's your ale, and I'll get an assistant working on the tea. Hey, Mela," she calls out, apparently to an elf currently chatting with patrons among the tables. "Get some tea started up, will you?" Mela flushes and moves away from the tables, quickly getting herself back behind the bar, quickly setting up tea.
<mainstreet> Kanzel: The glass fills up with water at a reasonable pace, stopping just before it would overflow.
<mainstreet> After a few minutes of you all awkwardly staring at each other and watching drunk wizards make fools of themselves, though most of them being clever enough to not attempt to cast while intoxicated, Brellius's tea is done and Mela sets it in front of him.
<Brellius> "Thank you," Brellius says and takes a sip
<Ascii> Ascii is already halfway through his ale. Hmm...somehow, the sweetness doesn't do much for him. Maybe he'll try dwarven next time.
Kanzel pretends to sip at her water looking around for anyone important.
<mainstreet> ---END SESSION---