Geometric Archipelago:The Longest Five-Pointed Night/Chapter 11
Chapter Eleven: Facing the Pretty Not-Quite-Dead Lady
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN SESSION---
<mainstreet> So, you just got yourselves thrown out of a shop with a lot of Cool Stuff(tm). I hope you're satisfied.
Ascii GLARES. "Well, great. Just great. There goes another lead." He sighs. "I guess we can add this to the list of eventual burglary targets..."
<Ascii> "I hope you're proud of yourselves."
<Ascii> "And worse, if she *is* the one we're looking for, she undoubtedly now realizes that there are confirmed heroes snooping around."
Ascii sighs again, then pulls out Da List. "Okay, I guess we may as well move on to the last one, and come back here later tonight. What was her name again...?"
<Brellius> "Jasmine Adams."
<Ascii> "Oh, right." He blinks. "...and, she *also* knows we're coming. Sheesh. We're not being very subtle about all this, are we?"
Ascii checks the list to see where the queen suggests to look into her.
<mainstreet> Region Two, A-Ring, Building 235... the address as supplied to you by the Councillor herself.
<Ascii> "Heh. I guess we may as well stroll right in, then."
Ascii leads the way.
Brellius tags along.
Ashling also follows.
<mainstreet> You begin your walk towards the A-Ring, and 235...
<mainstreet> Jasmine's home at A235 looks like a manor straight out of Dracula. You’re aware she’s not a vampire, but you couldn’t tell it by the house. The Gothic architecture and creepy atmosphere, including the rolling fog just past the gate of this mansion, make for an overall uneasy feeling as you approach. Jasmine doesn’t exactly try to hide her alignment, does she?
<mainstreet> A skeleton is apparently standing guard at the gate. It utters harshly: "IDENTIFY YOURSELVES AND STATE YOUR BUSINESS WITH THE MADAME COUNCILLOR!"
<Brellius> "Look at that, we're not the only unsubtle ones!"
<Ashling> "That's a necromancer for you..."
Ascii squints at the skeleton, his profession not exactly comfortable with the ambulatory deceased. "We're the Queen's investigation envoy. We've come to speak to Ms. Adams." He grimaces. "I believe she's expecting us..."
<mainstreet> The gate creaks open. "ENTER. WARNING: ILLUSION AND CONCEALMENT IS DETECTED AND BROKEN UPON HOUSE ENTRY, AND WILL BE CONSIDERED HOSTILE."
Ascii turns to the others. "You guys aren't invisible right now, are you?"
Ashling looks herself over "Not that I'm aware of."
<Brellius> "If I were invisible, could I still see myself?"
<Kanzel> "I wish I were."
<Ascii> "Okay, we're good. No funny business in there, either - let's try to be polite for once."
Ascii nods at the bootler and leads the party up to the front door.
<mainstreet> The cobblestone path isn't actually that long -- space is at a premium in the city, and despite the attempt at a foreboding setting, it's really only about five feet to the front door. A pair of large double doors face you. One of them opens smoothly at Ascii's touch.
<mainstreet> Inside, the light is very faint. You'll need to proceed in to see.
Ascii peers around, then steps into the darkness...
<mainstreet> The mansion inside looks quite traditional. You can see the room well enough to navigate, but the torchlight and overhead chandelier doesn’t provide much in the way of detail vision. Hallways lead to the left and right, both with doors blocking the way. A large staircase curves to an overlooking balcony from this entrance hall, and the hall itself proceeds towards the back of the house, another large double door preventing access further.
<mainstreet> The Councillor herself is waiting for you atop the balcony. She smiles as she looks down at your entry.
<mainstreet> "Ahhh, Meester Bond, so good of you to come tonight. And honorably, too..." Jasmine purrs. She blinks. "No idea why I called you Bond. There must be a joke in there somewhere..." she trails off with a slight grumble, then shrugs. "Welcome to my mansion. We should talk... come up the stairs and follow me."
Ascii shrugs, then heads upstairs.
<mainstreet> Jasmine smiles at the group in front of her, then turns and proceeds through a door. "I advise you not to try to open doors in my mansion without my permission. You will find the results quite... disassembling." Indeed, you see a hallway of doors as you begin to follow her. She takes the third door on the right and opens it, entering.
<Ascii> "Uh." Ascii makes a mental note of that particular choice of word, before following her through the door.
Ashling does as well.
<mainstreet> You follow her into the room and see her office. The large desk in front of you is very ornate, a fancy and disturbing death motif... skulls, grave markers, bones appear to be carved in... at least, you *hope* those are merely carvings... her chair is much the same, though you can also spot the luxurious padding on it. You notice the desk has several strange objects on it... mostly small doodads, but also a glass ball about 8 inches in diameter. She sits down as gestures for you to grab the (rather more bare) chairs from the stack on the side of her office.
Ascii grabs enough for everyone to sit down, and then...sits down in one of them. "So. Ms. Adams."
Ashling sits as well.
<Brellius> "I'm fine with standing."
<mainstreet> "So. You are here because Her Majesty is under the impression that I would undermine the island's security somehow if I took command. You are looking for proof of such a claim, or a denial. I obviously wouldn't give you any such proof -- not the least of reason's being that the claim isn't true in the first place -- and it's obvious that a denial is unlikely to be believed by Her Majesty, unless you find the actual... malignant applicant."
Ascii leans forward, and steeples his fingers. "That's about the size of it."
<mainstreet> "I will tell you that there are certain things in this mansion which might be... misconstrued. I am willing to show you my power and why it is unwise to pry into a Councillor's private affairs, especially that are not actually relevant to your claim... but you seem intelligent enough to not require such a demonstration from myself... in my own house. Additionally... the fastest way to keep myself safe from meddling is to make sure your mission is completed. Now, I am aware that Her Majesty has four suspects, one of which is obviously not the real one, namely myself. She has not, however, seen fit to allow me to be aware of the others, except to know that none are on the council. I propose an exchange of information and planning."
Ascii nods. "I was thinking the same thing. Frankly, I'm hoping that you're not the one we're looking for, which is why I want to look into the others first. And you're right - if you aren't the one responsible, the best thing for all of us is for you to help us find the one who is as quickly as possible."
<mainstreet> "You understand, of course, that my personal participation has to be limited, especially if anyone else from my own region is involved. I don't want to be seen as underhandedly eliminating the competition for personal gain any more than Kelsey does. At least, not unless that's what I'm actually doing." Jasmine smirks.
Ascii grins. "I'm sure that us effectively getting rid of at least one of your competitors is just a side benefit."
<mainstreet> Jasmine gives you a smile. "Yes, very much so. A side benefit."
<Ascii> "Okay, so. As it happens, we've already...um, eliminated someone from the list. Though we can confirm that they were not, in fact, the one we were looking for. As it is, there's two others besides yourself."
<mainstreet> "Ahh, eliminating even the innocent. A man after my own heart..." she bats her eyelashes in Ascii's direction. "So, who are the two we still need be concerned about?"
Ascii frowns. "He was hardly innocent. Just not the *particular* guilty party we were after. As for the others, we're looking into one Travis Brantly, and one Professor Nathan Gozano."
<mainstreet> Jasmine frowns and pulls open a drawer on her side of the desk. She mutters "Brantley. Gozano." Two file folders shoot out of the cabinet. "Let's see... Brantley, Travis, and Lilly, co-owners of TL;DR Spellwares along with the Groudons. Reliable merchandise, powerful individuals, but dedicated to their business... if there was anything here, I would be very surprised. At least, from reading this..." she returns the folder to the drawer simply by holding her hand with the folder over said drawer, where it magically falls out of her hand and into the proper slot. She then opens the other folder.
<mainstreet> "Gozano, Nathan, professor of Enchantment at Star City Magical Academy, also teaches some Necromancy and Evocation classes. Good at what he does, has traveled a fair bit, not really seeing anything here either, so this leads us nowhere. Although..."
<mainstreet> She returns that folder to the drawer as well. "SCMA, sponsorships." A much thicker folder shoots into her hands. "As Island Councillor, it is my privilege to sponsor a number of students into our prestigious Academy. I actually have twelve students in there right now under my sponsorship: either because residency or fees would have otherwise made actual attendance infeasible."
<mainstreet> "The point here being, as their sponsor, I can command their appearance to report to me any day they don't have classes, as long as I'm not doing it so often that it actually interferes with their studies, and I haven't actually checked in on any of them in months."
<Ascii> "I'm sorry, I'm not following you. What makes sponsoring any different than regular attendance?"
<mainstreet> "If they're being sponsored because of a fee issue, it means I'm paying for it, essentially. If it's a residency issue, then I actually take an additional fee myself -- which I put back into sponsoring others -- to allow them to have a small room here in my mansion, which lets them establish residency here, which means they can attend -- again, as long as I continue to allow it. In either case I can trigger an end to any sponsored student's attendance any time fees are due, which is each half-year term. Of course, if I start doing so without reason then people won't trust me and won't come to me, which hurts me in the long run. After all, if these individuals are grateful to me for their being able to attend our prestigious school, then in general, they'll do what I say."
<Ascii> "Ah, I see. In other words, you provide for their schooling, and in exchange you have people on the inside."
<mainstreet> "On the inside... not only in the school, but wherever they might go in life."
<mainstreet> "Or even in death, come to think of it."
<mainstreet> Jasmine shrugs. "In any case, I can interview students, and possibly see if there's been any suspicious behavior with our Professor, and if there's something we can do to get some sort of confirmation here. ...Do you recommend a specific way for me to go about this? Any specific questions you can think of, a format to the interview that might be successful. This, after all, will be far more than a typical interview."
Ascii tries to not be even more worried upon hearing all this. "Well, we would certainly appreciate anything you or your 'people' can dig up on the Prof. As for Travis, I'm starting to think he's not the real problem on that end of things."
<Ascii> He mulls something over. "Okay, how about this: ask if anyone knows what 'Earth Five, Sierra Roger' means, for one."
<mainstreet> "Hmmm. Actually... I can tell you right now that 'Sierra Roger' is almost certainly a request for a SitRep. That is, situation report. Which means either he has a tie to intelligence or military... or is running his own thing. From that context, I would suspect Earth Five to be a code name for someone... or something..." Jasmine gets a far-off look in her eyes briefly. "However, that is good to know, and we can certainly see if any of my students have heard of anything similar."
<Ascii> "Well, if nothing else, I think we can assume he's up to *something*.
Ascii thinks. "What about Lily Brantley? What sort of information do you have on her?"
<mainstreet> "Indeed. But given his nature, I would be most surprised if he wasn't up to *something*. I'm *always* up to *something*," Jasmine smirks.
<mainstreet> "That would've been in the same folder... she's a sorcerer, married to Travis, not the higher-level partner in the relationship, though that might well be because it's her spending a lot of experience to make some of the stuff they sell, and I know she's not a native to the Island, but is from the Archipelago. One of the other islands... Rectangle? Triangle? Eh, one of those," Jasmine gives a small shrug, as though she isn't concerned. "She's not native, so can't actually compete. In fact she'll likely be called on to act as a judge in some of the early rounds of the upper bracket, with the top competitors busy competing in general, and her not able to."
<Ascii> "Hmm. Well, we...ah, have reason to believe that she's potentially a *lot* more dangerous than she might appear to be. Is there any real harm she could do in that position as judge?"
<mainstreet> Jasmine frowns. "Unlikely. If she gets a foul wrong, then it just resets... she could fail to call a foul, and let someone cheat... but Her Majesty has been very good about keeping judges from knowing what fight they're reporting to until they're there, at least until the inter-regional rounds when there's only a couple, at which time, there's multiple judges anyway."
<mainstreet> "I have guest rooms, if you wish to stay the night, and I can conduct my interviews tomorrow. Or you may leave, and return in two days."
<Ascii> "What about information? Does she know anything as a judge that might let her cause trouble?"
<mainstreet> "Why are you so worried about this insignificant little girl that I could probably slap down with one spell, and who can't even compete?" Jasmine asks, putting a hand to her forehead. "Look, no, there's no possible benefit to being a judge from a political standpoint. The most powerful people that are capable and not still participating generally work judge roles because someone has to, and it does pay about twenty to fifty gold a match if you accept, depending on the round."
<Ascii> "Really?" Ascii makes a note to ask about getting a job next time. "Just a bit worried. Alright, conduct your interviews, and we'll come back to check in in a couple of days. We've got some leads of our own to follow in the meantime, so if it's alright with you, we'll pass on the hospitality."
<mainstreet> "Why am I not surprised? Few choose to live with me... I suppose it is the price paid for my kind of power. I have very few beyond followers and enemies."
<mainstreet> She stands up. "I believe you know the way out," she gestures at the door. "Don't take any detours. My doors react poorly to those not keyed into them."
<Ascii> "Thank you." Ascii stands up. "Nothing personal, but...well, you are still under suspicion. Just erring on the side of caution." He gives a polite smile. "Thank you for your help."
<mainstreet> Jasmine rolls her eyes, not commenting.
Ascii leads the others out the way they came.
Brellius tags along.
Ascii follows. ...wait, what?
Ascii takes care to only go back the way they came, not willing to risk setting off whatever devious magical traps might lay in wait.
<Ascii> "I think it was this way..."
<mainstreet> You exit the mansion with haste. Fortunately, you know the way and don't set off any traps.
<mainstreet> You find yourselves back on the A-Ring.
<Ascii> "Whew." Ascii relaxes a bit once he's outside. "Wow. I'm still not sure whether to be frightened of her or not."
<Kanzel> "I'm more worried than frightened"
<mainstreet> ---END SESSION---