Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby salamanca » Sat Nov 07, 2020 3:49 pm

Chopsticks
Pancakes
Andrea Doria

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I don't mind growing old... but I hate growing up.
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Lady Grace » Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:56 pm

The Party :twisted:

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"You're still mad at me about that whole 'gun-pointing' thing, aren't you?" -- Fortunato Valeri

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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Dec 30, 2020 8:40 pm

I haven't posted an update for a while, so let me rectify that.

Sextus 15, 1667

Fearful of what could happen to my companions, I continued destroying and throwing away everything they bought in the town. My companions, who could not be faulted for their ignorance, tried to stop me. But I had to save them. That finished I realized we were still REDACTED…, which meant I had to get them moving, asap. Finishing up with their recent purchases, I began pushing and shoving them with all my might (in retrospect it may have been a bit comical as I, a gangly academic, tried to push Jack, a veritable mountain of a man).

At one point the unholy trio got fed up enough to try and go back to get more wine (yes I had poured out all their wine and they thought it was a religious thing with me). However in desperation to get them to stop, I ran up in front of them and held a knife to my own throat, threatening to kill myself if they didn’t leave town. To show them I meant business, I was even forced to draw blood (no worries dear reader, I have done worse shaving, but it’s certainly an attention grabber). At which point I think they were finally ready to listen to the seriousness of the matter.

That began a series of questions and answers in which I was able to equate what I was seeing with horse manure raining down from the sky (not really what I am seeing but good enough for our purposes). Once I managed to get that thought in their heads, I was finally able to make them realize I could see it throughout the town and on, in, and about everything they’d purchased. Which meant if they consumed any of it, it would be in them.

It’s more than that, of course, I could sense it everywhere, as far as my eye could see. Some places more some less, but always there, like a piece of food caught under your tongue. I made an attempt to dodge it and go back into town for them, but half way there I could see it would be no use. It was everywhere.

So the decision was made to see if a nearby farmer could sell us some goods or at least point us in the right direction OTHER than going back to Propheta Chiesa. The first farmer we came upon had a good suggestion, or well a suggestion that would get us what we’d requested (with absolutely no guarantees about what else we might get or be forced to deal with). Words, both spoken and unspoken it seems, are of equal importance when dealing with the Vodacce.

Apparently, he had a cousin who could supply us, so we headed south to the next town to find him. Of the trip I will say little other than, we got the supplies and were forced to deal with both a racist and a sexist (in one package). I hope I will remember my admonition above for the future. And soon thereafter we were back on our way to the cave which had been our original destination, having had the cave pointed out to us by the very same racist/sexist cousin we’d just dealt with.

Interestingly, despite not being the first to arrive in Propheta Chiesa, we could see no indication that any of the other groups had arrived here. Worse, there were admonitions against going into the cave, warning of dangers within. Unfortunately, this seemed like just the kind of thing that Lord Kadain would set before us, so we ventured forth. And I discovered REDACTED… As we went further in, the tunnel got progressively smaller, tighter, and colder (and if there is one thing this Crescent has discovered that he doesn’t like, it’s cold.). Before long the cold and damp became beads of water that trickled down into rivulets which started a tiny stream. Not a good sign, as the water was going the same way we were.

And that’s when the tunnel became quite a bit more vertical. At the bottom we were able to discern two bodies, but the darkness prevented us from seeing if they were still among the livingFortunately, neither Francisco nor I are overly large. So given that we couldn’t switch places (the tunnel was too narrow) it was decided that he and I would go down, while Jack held the rope for us. Being the doctor and not knowing how much time had passed since whatever had befallen them, I went first. And immediately regretted it as some creatures moved there in the dark.

Before they got too close I was able to discern that both the bodies were, indeed, dead (The 2nd Prophet bless and keep them) and that they were members of one of the crews we had yet to fully introduce ourselves to. Fortunately luck was with me as Francisco was able to scramble down just as the creatures made it into the light. Foul smelling degenerate creatures which reminded me of my mother’s stories about the ghūls who inhabit graveyards.

It was doubly fortunate for me then that Francisco is a more than capable fighter. As he killed one with but a hit while I could do little more than try to keep them from eating me, especially given they seemed to find me more interesting than Francisco. Given we were outnumbered, I found myself facing two while Francisco finished off his opponent.

At that point, Jack, being the man of adventure that he is, tried to get down to help us and nearly wedged himself into the hollow (which would have been especially amusing as I considered my plight as I slowly starved to death). But he managed to extricate himself and the battle was joined! Shortly my companions emerged victorious and we were able to get to the business of burying the poor men. It was little more than a cairn for the dead, but I am afraid I do not know kafir funeral rites.

But I can tell you this. I wish a pox upon whoever sent these men to their deaths and who tried to kill us also. There shall be a reckoning.

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Dec 30, 2020 8:41 pm

Sextus 16, 1667

But we still had a contest to win, so after posting warnings about the cave and the dangers within, we spent next couple of hours continuing our search for the correct cave. It took long enough that our very own unholy trio were sick of asking questions and for the first time in my memory were quiet. The object of our quest was a very wide open cavern that seemed more fit for tourists than adventurers, which, of course, made it perfect for us. On the way we found the usual red, yellow, and black flags leading up to the cavern.

Within was a beautiful crystalline geode precariously balanced upon a small table of stone. According to Narissa, we were to ruing the geode which would sound like a bell. So after a bit of examination, Jack grew tired of our shenanigans and hit the geode with a “typical for Jack” level of force. It rang sonorously and I was quite impressed. Apparently the acoustics within the cave were quite good as the sound vibrated the ceiling enough to cause a letter which had been lodged up there to float gently down.

It said simply “Leave these darkened caverns and make your way to the halls of learning, go to Elena.” A quick look at local maps revealed Elena was a small town several days journey east of us (and closer to home, but I am not sure whether to be excited or terrified by that prospect). However, getting there meant we had to leave Mondavi lands and cross Caligari lands to get to Vestini lands where the town lay. Fortunately for us, the necessity of trade overrode the Princes’ dislike for one another, so we had no problems getting all the way to Laurentia, deep in the heart of Caligari land.

As usual, REDACTED

However, what really got my attention was a duel between two Vodacce men. They seemed to be putting on a big show of their differences, while off to the side stood a woman covered from head to toe in black, even a veil covered her face. I had never before seen a fate witch, but their reputation preceded them. As I watched, REDACTED

Suddenly, the two men stabbed one another. By the looks of surprise on their faces, each had injured the other far more than they had intended to. Both started cursing at the other for hurting them, and soon enough I was onto my usual business of caring for the sick and injured. Of course, I had to wait until my companions could explain to the victims I did not intend to relieve them of their souls or steal their baby teeth or whatever ridiculous lies they believe about my people. It took some time, but eventually they yielded to my entreaties (of course it may have been blood loss and confusion which did the trick).

Unfortunately, I was still in the middle of my ministrations when we heard the sounds of a woman screaming somewhere down the road. The sound got louder and soon enough we could see (and hear) a nun shouting something about a murder. As she got closer, we could see that she was covered in blood (though whether it was hers or the victims, we had no way of knowing, save perhaps for the fact that if it had been hers she might not have been moving so quickly).

While I finished up with the swordsmen, the others went to intercept the nun. She told them the local priest, Father Giuseppe had been murdered in his church not but a few blocks from here. When I arrived I checked to ensure the blood wasn’t hers (it was not), then we all went to the church to check matters out. Its seemed the priest was a rather popular figure who (and I am quoting various bystanders here) “Only overcharges a little for indulgences.” Apparently this is seen somehow as a benefit.

The padre had been murdered in his confessional, his throat slit from ear to ear. When that particular bit of news got round the bystanders, they immediately alerted us to the fact that this was the fourth similar murder in these parts in the past month. Soon enough the local police arrived, and within moments we were assured he would put forth all the diligence he had previously used to arrive here (that is to say, he would work at a leisurely pace, and quit as soon as people stopped asking about it). However since we were there, and we seemed interested in the matter, he was a font of knowledge. We soon learned all four victims had been murdered in a similar fashion. But they had nothing aside from location in common. The murders had not been a set amount of time apart, their jobs were all different (the first was a bum, the second a wine merchant, the third a jenny, and the last a priest) and their murder locations seemed more a matter of convenience than deliberate thought (the bum was killed near a canal, the wine merchant an alley behind his business, the jenny outside her flop house, and the priest in his confessional).

Knowing the reputation of the Vodacce, there was some thought that maybe the police man was in on it, but Francisco assured us he did not seem to be lying, just apathetic. My examination revealed the weapon was very sharp, and had used a slicing motion rather than a chopping one, and given the attacker seems to have gone though the small window between the two halves of the confessional, a large weapon is right out. I think perhaps a butchers knife or other equally sharp weapon.

We also got a description of a possible perpetrator from the nun, who described a young girl wearing a red cloak who had been in the confessional just prior to the attack. The nun seemed to believe it was a girl despite never having seen a face. She seemed more concerned that the child’s parents were nowhere to be found. So in the end, her description was a small person (4-4.5 feet in height) in a red cloak with the hood up over the head who ran off out the church and down the street (though we never did ask which way “she” went) and out of sight.

Seeing that the cop was apathetic about solving this case, despite the fact that we are on our way elsewhere and time is of the essence, we all decided, there is a murderer on the loose and justice will not happen if we do not involve ourselves. So we found some rooms for the night, made the unholy trio promise to stay where they were, and began our discussions.

At this point, our plan is to look at each of the crime scenes for clues (despite one of them being a month old) and see where that takes us.

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Dec 30, 2020 8:43 pm

Sextus 20, 1667

Having made our decision to check out each of the murder sites individually we settled on the oldest of the four to examine first. The man’s name was Lazlo (at least according to those few witnesses we could find who actually knew his name). Mostly, however, he was known as “that beggar” or “the simpleton” (not terms I like, especially as a man who lives by the words, لا تؤذي. Apart from being hurtful, the descriptions do little to describe Lazlo with anything other than stereotypes) He lived on the streets near where he was murdered.

Teofania (the woman we spoke with who lived nearby and who knew enough to give us Lazlo’s name) was little help with suspects saying that she thought anyone could have done it because “around here the rich and powerful pick on those below them, and are not subject to the same laws.”

The night Lazlo was murdered, Teofania thought she heard some children singing. However even that was vague, as she explained they (the children) often come from all around to sing in this area (though she was a bit vague on the “why” of it all). She thought they were singing a nursery rhyme. She told us its name was “Vodacce Eyes” (OOC akin to “London Bridge” in popularity). The subject of the rhyme was a bit grim as it involved throwing children’s bodies into a building’s cement mix to secure its foundation. Upon further inquiry, however, she did remember that one of the children was wearing a red cloak. She described it as the color of an apple or a good Falisci (I am guessing that is a type of red wine). She further added that she was certain it was a little girl, with black hair. And she noted that the girl seemed far too pretty for this neighborhood.

After that there was some suggestion by Siobhan and Jack that there might be Sidhe involvement, though ultimately Jack dismissed the idea. According to him, the fae (that was the word he used) had a certain air of oddness that this situation seemed to lack. In addition, the fae seemed to have their hearts set on Avalon (though I didn’t have the heart (or tongue for that matter) to ask him what that “oddness” might entail.

Before she left she imparted one final bit of information. The whole event with the children singing and the little girl with the black hair had apparently happened right about the time that the priest had been killed. Finally, she pointedly asked Jack, as has been her wont, to kiss the little birdie she had. He of course obliged. And that has prompted me to renew my efforts to communicate with my fellows such that I can get him to understand the unsanitary conditions birds live in.

As she was leaving, Francisco let her know that we were staying at the Torch and Sand and would be grateful if she let us know if the little girl came back. Meanwhile Siobhan called after to see if Teofania happened to see which direction she had gone. And as expected she headed off in the direction of the site of the second murder, the flop houses where the Jenny had been killed previously. That is where we decided to go next.

Unfortunately once we arrived, Siobhan’s presence garnered some undue attention as we noticed people staring at her quite a bit. They also gave Jack the stink-eye (actually it was all of us, but I am so used to it I frankly didn’t notice). That’s when we decided to make things far worse. After a few questions to the locals about a “red-cloaked girl” some of the local toughs decided to get involved. No matter what question was presented, they seemed determined to turn it into some kind of insult or disparagement which could provoke a violent reaction.

When that didn’t work, they upped the ante to directly insulting Siobhan. I shall give their words no weight for they are false and of no value, and not worth the time necessary to repeat them. It quickly became apparent these were just thugs who were shaking down the residents for some kind of protection money. So once the offer of money was on the table, their tongues were significantly loosened.

Unfortunately they knew almost nothing. And I mean that in every way possible. So after their non-help we decided to speak with someone who did know something. As we were walking off, however, their leader decided to say one thing more about Siobhan. In response, Jack—in an uncharacteristically serious move—punched him hard enough in the stomach to ensure he would have blood in his urine for some time. He then whispered something into the man’s ear about having “respect.” I could not have been prouder to call him a friend.

At the apartments we spoke with manager who was willing to let us see the apartment where the Jenny had died. He also told us she a child who wore a red cloak, and that her name was Mirabella. Within the apartment, we found it to be very, very, tiny. Little more than a cabinet just large enough to lay down in. It appeared no one had touched it since the death, and the manager confessed he’d had a hard time renting it since. A quick look revealed that most of the clothes were sized for an adult, but some of them could have been for a child.

I managed to find a small, hidden niche were, presumably, a child could stay. There I also spotted a small doll which had its head ripped off. Thinking it might help negotiations if we could find the child, I took it. Given my skill with sutures I thought I might perform a bit of surgery before we met the girl. Once I’d finished (and without thinking) I wrote across the bandage, السلام عليكم اخي (peace be with you). I hope it will be taken in the spirit it was meant.

Seeing nothing else, we moved onto the site of the wine merchant’s death. According to witnesses there, the man, called Bartolommeo was a loudmouth braggart who liked to display his wealth. Unsurprisingly, he was unmarried and no children. He did, however, have a penchant for the ladies of the evening. Several witnesses said his favorite lived in a flop house in the very direction we’d just come from. Simultaneously, a story formed in all our heads and we asked where Bartolomo’s home was.

Once we had that information, we went into the alley where he was killed. It was beside a tavern called “The Three Swans” Once in the alley, there were a myriad of smells, despite the time between now and the killing. The others mentioned a few of the smells but I distinctly noticed smoke, vomit, copper, and blood. What was most interesting was that the smells were not mixed together but were distinctly different from one another

Other than that there was precious little to learn from the alley. As I said above, it had been some time since the murder occurred here. And with that, we headed off to the wine merchant’s house.

It was located in a nicer neighborhood than what we had previously encountered, and yet the houses’ presence was still eerie. Francisco decided to watch the back door just in case. Jack stood watch by the front door to let us know if we needed to leave, and Siobhan and I did the actual searching. On the first floor all seemed normal, save for the fact that the house stood empty, and so was in a bit of a mess. However, it was dark so that could also have accounted for our inability to notice details.

As we were making our initial investigations, we heard something from the second floor, it could have been movement or just the house settling. Regardless, we headed upstairs to check it out. The second floor landing was just a small hallway with doors all the way down. All seemed shut, so we just started opening them and have a look.

The first room was what appeared to be a library. Oddly, all the books seemed to have been thrown off the shelves leaving a disheveled mess. The subject matter of the books, however, was consistently and decidedly adult in subject matter. The next room we checked, however, was where the little girl was hiding. She had crawled under the bed hoping to avoid detection, however, REDACTED

Rather than frighten the poor child (it was me after all) I instead simply sat down on the rug near the bed and slowly withdrew the doll I had repaired, setting it close enough to the bed that she could get it without fear I would try and grab her. It worked exactly as intended as Siobhan was able to talk with her (since I obviously, could not).

There was some back and forth, Siobhan asked several questions and the young girl (whose name we had not yet asked) told her that Siobhan reminded her of her mother. Though whether that is for good or bad we weren’t quite sure). She was quite childlike, so Siobhan realized the way to get her to talk. Chocolate. With the offer of a cup of hot chocolate, Siobhan coaxed her out from under the bed.

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Dec 30, 2020 8:44 pm

Sextus 20, 1667

To assure her she was in no danger from either of us, Siobhan and I stepped back to give the girl her space. As she did so, I noticed that she brought her doll along with her, held tightly by the hand. With her in front, she lead us downstairs to the kitchen so we could make some hot chocolate.

Once there we found it was a great deal more like a larder than a kitchen, but it would suffice. We started our search, knowing the likelihood of finding chocolate was low. However what I noticed is that the 2nd Prophet still finds ways to taunt me as I found not only a kaffe bean grinder and perfect set of cups for kaffe, but THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE KAFFE BEAN TO BE FOUND! (oh yea and no chocolate either)

Siobhan signaled me to keep the child busy while she spoke with Jack. So looking around I thought I might entertain her with a bit of magic (as I had my younger brothers and sisters in days long gone by). While showing her there was nothing up my sleeves, I surreptitiously grabbed a nearby sausage that looked vaguely like a finger. Then I proceeded to “inexpertly” attempt a trick which went spectacularly wrong and actually caused my “finger” to fall off. She was quite entertained, and asked for another. So without thinking about the girl’s circumstances and what I might dredge up in her memories, I did the old “pull a coin from her ear” trick. But, 2nd Prophet be praised, I realized the potential wrong should I hand her the coin so I wisely did not, instead I dropped the sausage once again, as my fingers just kept falling off.

As I was in the midst of my entertainment, Siobhan went to the front door with a list of items for Jack. And bless him for the man he is, he asked no questions, simply made for the nearest open market to procure them. There was a bit of back and forth with one of the venders who not realizing Jack has quite the refined palate, offered some substandard chocolate. This caused the jovial, happy-go-lucky Jack to make his exit and the 6’5” knuckle-cracking Jack to arrive. The merchant got the message and signaled so with the immediate arrival of the good chocolate.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Siobhan and I noticed that the young girl seemed to be more relaxed around me as she quite visibly stiffened whenever Siobhan would come into the room. I thought that odd, but one does not question how the Ajedrez board has been set up, one merely plays the table at hand.

During our time, we managed to learn that she was, indeed, Mirabella, daughter of the Jenny who’d been murdered a short while ago. We also learned a number of other facts, including: her mother’s name had been Elizabetha, the last time she’d had cake was at her christening, and the fact that she is all alone in the world.

Whatever the case, we could not leave her to her fate. But the question became, what to do with her. On the one hand we could try to solve the mystery, see if we could bring the murder (or murderers) to justice. But it had been a while and there was no guarantee that our efforts would yield results. So all in all, we might just put ourselves in last place with nothing to show for it. (That is, assuming she herself was not the murderer. Though I thought of a way we might help prove her innocence. More on that below). Our other option was simply to take her with us. She had no family, no one to help take care of her and no prospects. She could come with us and perhaps in the end come away with a new (sort of) family.

But whatever the case, she could no longer stay at this house, all by herself, scrambling for scraps and whatever other horrible fate awaited her. So, having rooms back at the Torch and Sand, we took her with us, at least for the time being. It being late we decided that we could take matters up in the morning. So that left us with where to have her stay. As I had become her de facto protector, she choose to stay with me, which is how I hit upon a plan to show that she was not the killer, but rather simply a witness who could help us in this matter. It did entail a bit of risk for me, but what’s a bit of risk among friends?

I let her know she could have the bed (honestly I can no longer sleep on such soft things after… well I will just say I have grown accustomed to the floor) and made to make my bed in front of the closet (just in case monsters decided to show up). But before I turned off the lights I gave her my dagger (still in its sheath of course) so that she could protect herself from any dangers. If she were just a witness I would wake up none the worse for wear. And if she were the murderer? Well there are things worse than death.

In the morning I woke up to see a contentedly asleep child, her precious doll snuggled securely in the crook of her arm, and the knife untouched where I’d left it. I tried to get ready as quietly as possible but apparently not quietly enough as Mirabella awoke and began poking around the room looking for food.

Smiling at the surprise I was about to reveal, I got her ready and we both went downstairs to find everyone else already in the midst of breakfast. When we sat down I noticed Jack was eating pancakes which I am told is magic to all yavanci children. So knowing it would put a smile on her face, I stole several of Jack’s pancakes (right in front of him) and set them down for her.

In between mouthfuls of pancake, she answered some more questions. While she didn’t come right out and say it, it was obvious She knew something about Father Giuseppe (We considered that her mother might have had him as a client, but she didn’t say that). Seeing the rule was that stealing Jack’s pancakes was acceptable, as soon as she finished, she went and got a few more from him (eliciting smiles all around the table).
As the others were ready to go, we decided that Mirabella should stay with me while they continued their investigation. On their way, they discovered that the Montaigne had finally shown up. But rather than provoke a confrontation, they decided to sneak past. Unfortunately, they had Jack with them.

Despite that, and several close moments, Francisco still got past the Montaigne who were busy trying to make enemies of everyone around them. Even the cat seemed to realize that he was trying to do something good. Soon enough he got to the church and learned a great deal more about Father Giuseppe. Head priest of the church, he was beloved by everyone, but the nun we had spoken with previously still allowed him to search the church. She also wanted a progress report.

Francisco asked her about Elizabetha and got an earful about the various Jenny houses in the area (which caused Jack to begin taking notes as he’d never taken notes before!). They also learned that Elisabetha would often drop Mirabella off there at the church while she went to work. She said Mirabella was a good girl, if quiet. She didn’t cause any damage, usually just stayed in the back pews.

Meanwhile, back at the Montaigne, a duel began brewing and caught up in the middle of things Jack and Siobhan tried to weather the storm.

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Dec 30, 2020 8:45 pm

Still Sextus 20, 1667

Still out and about, the other three discovered the duel we’d interrupted earlier was back on. Without me to mess things up, it seemed to be going as well as these things can go. That is, until the Montaigne arrived. They got into a fight with the duelists which caused others to come to their aid, and soon it was nearly out of control. But fortunately, Jack was there to make sure it went completely out of control and was soon encouraging a fight. After a short while, everyone got back to the inn

The next morning Siobhan and I stayed behind at the inn to begin packing to leave, and also to ask Mirabella some more questions. Meanwile Jack and Francisco decided to make one more run at Bartolomao’s house to see if we might be able to solve the mystery of who was behind the murders. When the arrived they found, Sister Rosetta, the nun who had been so helpful to us previously. She told both that she’d questioned the constable about the murders and he’d pointed her in this direction too.

She had a number of questions about things she’d found in the house, bits of chocolate and sausage which looked like it had been eaten (in truth we’d been there the night before when we found Mirabella). So to keep up the ruse that they had just gotten there, Jack and Francsico “helped” her search the house. All the while the sister kept mentioning that she thought she had a clue about the perpetrators. They found a number of “clues” throughout the house, library, pantry and bedroom. For example, the blankets were gone (we’d taken them for Mirabella) and the winecellar was left untouched (well he didn’t sell the highest quality wine so there was nothing for Jack to take). Eventually she led the two of them out the back where she pointed to footprints in the ground (they were, of course, Francisco’s from the night before when he guarded the back entrance).

Meanwhile, back at the inn Mirabella was worried about making mistakes, fearful of what reprisals she might get from doing “wrong.” So I made it a point that whenever she made a “mistake” I made it right along with her. I was trying to give her the opportunity to talk about making mistakes or telling us more about herself, but as I suspected, this is more of a long-term plan. So in the end we got little other than what we already knew. But I believe she will tell us when she feels comfortable enough.

It was sometime around there that Francisco almost did the unthinkable. As they were searching he happened to catch Sister Rosetta in just the right light, and for a moment considered the good sister not as a servant of Theus, but as a woman. Fortunately his better nature maintained a healthy grasp on his tongue, and he wisely kept his mouth shut, but I should expect he will forever remember that he was almost a very naughty, naughty boy. Seeing their search done, Sister Rosetta suggested they tell the constable what they’d learned. Unfortunately, all that she’d learned were things that either we had done or that could be used to implicate us in this latest murder.

Feeling quite frustrated by my lack of ability to communicate with Mirabella, I grabbed a piece of paper and quill and revealed the hard work I had been doing in secret to Siobhan. Writing crudely in Avalon, I wrote a number of questions I thought she might ask Mirabella. If Siobhan was surprised, she kept it well hidden (she has been an excellent teacher after all, among the best I’ve ever had) and soon enough we were able to ask Mirabella some basic questions. Unfortunately it is as we expected, she seems all alone in the world. So wordlessly, Siobhan and I decided that we would take care of her from here on.

While we continued packing, the unholy trio starting to get loud. It became necessary to get them to be quiet (no need to call attention to ourselves, and we were not at full strength so starting a fight would be something that we could not win). So given that, I told them (or actually wrote to them) that they needed to “SHUT UP!” It worked like a charm, they were so stunned by the fact that I could communicate, they completely forgot what they were talking about, and as a bonus I didn’t even have to resort to my little “trick”

At last we got everything packed up and ready to go. That’s when Siobhan noticed that Mirabella didn’t have anything suitable to wear. So I deferred (given I haven’t the foggiest notion what these yavanci consider fashion). It was decided (mostly by Mirabella) that she needs new (red) shoes, and a little yellow sunflower cloak, with yellow ribbons. In addition, we are going to need a new carriage, one which will protect us from the rain but also cover up our comings and goings a bit better.

As we left, we noticed that Sister Rosetta watched us as we left. We are now on the road to Elana, where we shall see what new adventure calls to us. Or perhaps it will be an old one that follows…

And that’s where we left it 

PS: We had several days on the road to speak with Mirabella. So the others have decided they are also going to take her under their wing. Jack intends to teach her to box. Meanwhile I have been furiously working on something I refuse to let anyone see. The best they know is it consists of a lump of ugly cloth and several needles.
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Dec 30, 2020 8:46 pm

Sextus 24, 1667

Four days of hard riding from Laurentia brought us at last to Vestini territory, and finally Elana. I took the down time to work on a secret project, which fortunately for me, was finished by the time we arrived in the city. Mirabella continues to eke out a few tidbits here and there, but her reluctance is obvious (and given where she’s from, well-warranted). Though I do find it humorous that she has the ability to speak and chooses not to, whereas I do not and desperately wish to. The weather is descent, though a bit cold for my tastes. However, the roads, which have been around since the days of ancient Numa, are not very well maintained. This goes double for the city. It’s obviously seen better days as its crumbling infrastructure is on display for all to see.

Soon enough, however we found the flags, and their accompanying tent. Oddly, the tent seemed to reflect the city around it, a bit ragged especially by sidhe conventions. As we started in, we realized we had a new problem. According to the terms of the race, it was possible that bringing Mirabella along with us could forfeit our position. HOWEVER, later on I took a look back in my notes, I found the terms I had written down were, “Everyone in each party must be presents and check in at each leg of the journey.” It says nothing about bringing in extra members, just that the originals must all be there. So, at least by my reading, we are in the clear. Not that it matters, I (and I believe this goes equally for my fellows) will not abandon this child.

As we entered the tent, we found not Lord Kaiden, but rather his sister Narissa. This greatly pleased Jack (and caused me to mentally calculate how many clean towels I could lay my hands on). She was in much better spirits, and her shadow was even completely reformed. She could not, however, give us our clue. For that we had to await the arrival of Lord Kaiden, which was to happen later in the evening. We were able to learn quite a bit from her, including: Three teams had arrived here before us, and two of them got into a fight with one another over not getting their respective clues.

Finally she told us that she had instructed the three other teams (the Vodacce, the Explorers, and the Montaigne) to seek rooms near the university. She recommended we do so also. Meanwhile, she was going to wait for the Eisen and one other team (alas, all that remains of our 16 competitors). Jack asked where her brother might be and, in response, Narissa looked skywards and repeated that he would be here tonight.

So with a bit of time on our hands, we determined to head to the university to find rooms. Along the way we were confronted with a city in crisis. It’s quite apparent this city is in danger of dying. While the people don’t seem ill, the city has none of the vibrancy we’ve come to expect. At the university, we were easily able to find rooms as the three inns in the area had almost complete vacancies. The first we came upon was more than willing to put us up as the prospect of coin set their imaginations aflame.

Oddly, as we entered, the proprietor was intrigued to see Francisco. However, he used the name Professore Haroldo Colino. Of course, looking for a bit of fun, the unholy trio and Jack feigned not knowing Francisco. That is, until Francisco bought a round for the unholy trio which caused their memories to improve greatly. No big matter as it was just a case of mistaken identity. However, it turned out this Professore had recently skipped town owing a lot of money to a lot of people (including the proprietor). And, at least according to him, the resemblance was uncanny. So much so, he warned Francisco that others might start trying to get what was owed them from Francisco…

But the worst problem for Francisco was the fact that the Professore got himself on the wrong side of the Inquisition. That, could have dire implications for several people (myself chief among them). My first thought was to disguise him exactly the way I do. So I handed him my spare mask and hood. Alas, Francisco seems to want to do things the hard way. Regardless we shall stand by him.

We also heard a fun story from the innkeeper. Apparently all the other teams had come here first looking for lodgings. The Montaigne arrived first, and being Montaigne, had insulted both the proprietor and his inn before asking for a recommendation for a better inn. So he gave them one, one known to be riddled with bedbugs. Next he saw the Explorers, who had made lodging nearby. And finally, the Vodacce, whom the innkeeper did not like (he mentioned they all had Bernoulli accents. Interesting, as I have met a few Bernoulli in previous life and agreed with the innkeeper’s assessment.)

With it getting late and all we got to our rooms and began setting up for the night. As has been her wont, Mirabella stayed with me, so I had the great pleasure of revealing my secret project, a pupazzo a calza (as the Vodacce say) fashioned to look like me. She immediately named him Signor Sacchettino (“Little” Mr. Sack). NOTE: I should explain here, Mirabella does not call me Handsome like the rest of my companions. Instead she calls me Signor Sacchetto (“Mr. Sack”) obviously because I wear a “sack” constantly. It’s the most adorably heartwarming thing I’ve ever heard. And also as an aside, I got to hear my companions finally say my real name. I wrote it (or a close approximation) in Avalon, and heard them say it. Interestingly, after hearing them say it, I thought it no longer fit. I have grown accustomed to “Handsome” and requested they keep using it…

While Siobhan and I were busy with Mirabella, and Francisco tried to deal with his new-found “fame,” Jack snuck back to the tent for some good “snogging” (a word I will have to add to my lexicon, and given the Crescent Empire has over a thousand words to describe sex (What can I say? We are a passionate people.) that one is a new one to me).

Apparently, after some vigorous activity (but before Jack and Narissa were finished), the Eisen team decided to show up. Not wishing to be unwelcoming, Jack greeted the new arrivals. Unfortunately, there was no time to get dressed prior. Interestingly, the Eisen team brought along the nun (Sister Rosetta) who’d been instrumental (both helpful and not) in our investigation of the murders in Laurentia. But given they’re all Vatacine, I guess it’s not that surprising.

The interaction was both uncomfortable and *ahem* lengthy. With plenty of double-entendres thrown about, and (at least according to Jack) Helga hogging the view. Narissa, apparently also felt no need to get dressed. So delivered the same message we’d heard earlier to the Eisen. Fortunately, before it got too awkward, Lord Kaiden finally arrived. After some small talk, he asked to speak with his sister privately, and during their talk (which Jack tried to listen in on but was unable to hear much) the last team arrived.

After Lord Kaiden finished speaking with his sister, he asked Jack to “Please” come back inside. After some more small talk, Lord Kaiden asked what, if any, progress we’d made in finding out about the attempts to kill off the other teams. Later, it occurred to me, we have a method. Grisly, but a method nonetheless. Whichever team did the deed, they would need time to set up, so they had to be ahead of the team that was killed off. Because we have so many incidents of this happening (the burning ship, food poisoning on the way to posen, attack in Stutzung, the cave, and possibly the unholy trio getting shot) we could figure out who was ahead during each of those incidents. If we could narrow down the suspects to just a few, or even one…

While this was going on, Siobhan and Francisco went to the college’s library to see what they could find out. There they found Thomasina (from the Explorers’ team) having a conniption about the books therein (or more specifically the poor state of those books). They three talked a bit about, Francisco being mistaken for the professor, the poor state of the books, and what that means for Elana. Specifically about the fate of the Vestini should the city fall.

Then, Thomasina made a confession. She believed the Vodacce team was doing bad things. Specifically she accused them of making her horses sick. After Propheta Chiesa, she explained, when they got to the cave, the Vodacce showed up and just before the Vodacce left, the Explorers’ horses got sick. They were sick enough the Explorers were forced to do a layover and in the end they had to buy new horses just to continue.

Once Siobhan and Francisco returned to the inn, they split up, with Francisco heading to the tavern while Siobhan headed to bed. Unfortunately, just after he arrived, the front door of the inn burst open. A squad of the city’s guard had arrived because they had heard that Professore Heroldo Colino had been spotted in town, and they had an arrest warrant. Worse, they immediately spotted Francisco and would hear none of his protestations of innocence. The professor owed a LOT of money around town and skipped out about a week ago, they were going to ensure payment was rendered.

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:03 am

Sextus 25, 1667

Upon hearing the accusations against him (or rather the person who looked like him) Francisco immediately proclaimed his innocence. I was, of course, impressed with the way things are done here, as his hands were not immediately cut off. He was even given a chance to explain himself (that is what is supposed to happen at home, but many tribes still handle things the old-fashioned way.)

And as I expected, the officers at the door were certain they had gotten the right man. Fortunately for Francisco, as they were dragging him off, Kent offered to go with him to, “Help sort things out.” (I must confess, I feared that would be the last we ever saw of Francisco). To determine the truth of the matter, Francisco and Kent were then taken back to the University where they discovered that it was nearly empty. There they met up with the Governor of Elena, Giancarlo Fiore Vestini. Interestingly, when they entered the man’s office, there was no one to be found, however, quite soon they noticed some movement behind the desks and up popped a man whom the guards referred to as “Your Excellency.”

Despite the stereotypes of Vodacce Governors, Giancarlo was a friendly and kind man. It took him no more than a few seconds of looking at Francisco’s hands to realize that he was not the professor (Francisco is a man of action, his hands, rough from practice and hard work, a thing the missing Professor would never do). However that led to our second problem. All of Elena has been disrupted by our little race. Had it not been for the imminent danger to the University, he would never have allowed the race to come through here. It seems that there is an old tale that says when Elena’s university falls so fall the fortunes of the Vestini. It’s certainly all superstitious nonsense, but it’s not for me to disabuse these yavanci of that notion. Still, he was obviously worried as the University’s enrollment had been down again this year (for several years in a row). He was concerned that any more cutbacks might mean the need to close it down permanently.

That’s what drove his desperation with regard to the Professor, and his being taken in by the professor’s fairy tale. See the professor claimed to be able to have the skills/knowledge/contacts to help build an observatory for the university. And all he needed to make it come to fruition was a collection of rare minerals and gems from Avalon and Cathay. Once he got his hands on it, he vanished, along with the collection.

Back at the library, the rest of us happened to run into Thomasina (of the Explorer’s team). She told us the story of how their horses came up lame and the layover which they were obliged to make, and she blamed the whole matter on the Vodacce team (because they had encountered one another, and the horses went lame immediately after the Vodacce left). As we were finishing up, Francisco and Kent showed back up, and let us know what had happened (of course in Kent’s version of the events his persuasion, charm, and general good manners took the fore, as he managed to extricate Francisco from what would no doubt been a life sentence had Kent not been there).

Of course, since Jack was amongst them, there were plenty of double entendres which I shall not deign to repeat. That’s when Thomasina dropped another bombshell on us. She was quite familiar with “Professore Heraldo Colino.” Seemed a village near Canguine had a smooth talking Castillian show up and convince them that what they needed to deal with their flagging economy was to create a music program, and by coincidence, he had just the right skills/knowledge/contacts to get the program up and running. He just needed a few expensive baubles…

Since she had been so helpful, we expressed to her our worries about the other teams getting murdered, and we let her know that Lord Kaiden had asked us to look into it and that he was looking into it himself. Concerned for both the town and for Francisco, we decided to look into the professor’s old offices, maybe get a hint for a future encounters with the wretch, should they happen.

After a quick talk with Giancarlo (who gave us permission to search the professor’s offices), we got directions and were off in a thrice. Once there, what we found was a great deal of mess. The professor both left in a hurry and wasn’t much for upkeep regardless. But that didn’t mean our search was fruitless. He’d left dozens of letters behind, probably in the mistaken assumption the language he’d written them in (and had been written to him in) would be indecipherable by anyone here in Elena. He was almost right. But, given that I have been speaking, reading and writing Tikaret since I could speak, read, and write…

It seemed the “Professor” was not only fluent in the Crescent Trade language (an interesting matter in itself as the Vatacine Church considers that heretical all on its own), but had interests there. Specifically he had maps of the Vestini and Bernoulli lands, and it was upon that map that we found he’d circled the city of Jesolute. While on the one hand it might have implied he was just going farther into Bernoulli lands, the fact that he named it Jesolute (which is the Crescent name for the city on the other side of the Vodacce border) was quite interesting.

Taking what we had learned, we brought it back to Giancarlo, but not before we happened past a small kaffe shop, where I picked up a small bag to thank him for resolving our matter with Francisco so decisively. Once there we told him what we’d learned so that he could decide what to do with the information. And we promised that should our travels take us to the Crescent Empire, we would keep a special eye out for this man.

On our way back to the inn, we noticed a large group of constables running past us, they seemed to be heading directly toward the inn where we were staying. It quickly became apparent the Montaigne and the unholy trio had gotten into a bit of a tussle. That had, in turn, lit a fire under several other long-standing rivalries. In short, the tussle had now encompassed nearly everyone in the race. So rather than subject Mirabella to that, she and I pulled off from the rest of the group to sit and have a gelato.

Down the way, we could hear a lot of manhoods being called into question and some quite vehement, and vulgar responses. But I noticed almost none of it as I happened to spot Sister Rosetta. She was approaching Mirabella and myself. So I stood, carefully placing myself between the approaching nun and my precious child. Seeing her approach, my mind wandered back to the unspoken terrors Mirabella must have seen under that woman’s tutelage. To my everlasting shame, I wished the woman to give me any excuse to pay her back for her supposed slights.

For her part, Mirabella was terrified, hiding behind me so totally that even once the sister had approached, she was still unsure if the child was behind me or not. I was calm, but placed both hands on my swords. The unspoken threat plain despite not being able to see or hear me. Although I must admit it was a bit difficult to maintain my fury when a certain young lady’s gelato was slowly being pressed into the small of my back and began dripping down my backside. Her fear was plain, and she told me quietly that she did not want to go back to the church. It was all I needed to hear.

About that time, Lord Kaiden showed up, and asked us all to meet him in the town square. As usual, he looked REDACTED… but this time I considered looking elsewhere. I discovered REDACTED…

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:05 am

Still Sextus 25, 1667

I forgot to mention last week that we also found a map in the professor’s offices that implied he might be heading to Jesolute. If so, we plan to find him and have a little discussion with him regarding the items he stole and the fact that his face is making things difficult for Francisco.

When last we left there had been a bar fight in the tavern which had gone on until finally, Lord Kaiden showed up. Upon getting everything calm once again, he requested/demanded that we all get out to the town square (I was not sure if he planned on, perhaps, yelling at us for all the shenanigans and tomfoolery (to which I would have said horsefeathers since neither I nor Mirabella engaged in such antics)). However, once we had all gathered, he said nothing of the kind. Rather he was upset about the state of the race.

We were able to see the usual suspects, the damnable cat was back with the Montaigne, Narissa had arrived and, upon spotting Jack, gave him a wave (which he returned). However some of the members of the team who’d seen (all of) him the night before looked at him askance. That, of course, elicited a wave and a wink to them also. They were not nearly as receptive to his overtures.

Lord Kaiden was upset that the race wasn’t going according to his plan (whatever that may be), and wondered aloud if perhaps the cause of the “peculiarities” (as he put it) hadn’t come along with us. Meaning, apparently, we (the racers as a whole, not anyone in specific, at least as far as I could tell) were the cause of the problems. From the first burned boat and the murder of several racers to the others getting food poisoning and the ships being burned in Posent, to the teams being assaulted in Seiger, and now here in Vodacce when we arrived at the outskirts of Propheta Chiesa. He seemed most upset by the latter as he mentioned someone had “sabotaged one of my challenges.” He gave the “guilty parties” a chance to turn themselves in without consequence, but none took him up on the offer (as most of us

I noticed during this exchange Mirabella looked sheepishly toward the ground, not even able to look Lord Kaiden in the eye. Though whether that be guilt or simply the actions of a child dealing with a far more powerful adult, I do not know (though I suspect the latter). As for the rest of the crowd, Umberto stayed passive, the cat was as inscrutable as ever, Eda looked concerned, Helga stared hard at Francisco during the exchange, Thomasina looked worried (in fact her whole team of Explorer’s looked concerned, including Virgil), several of the witnesses to Jack and Narissa’s “activities” looked in their direction suspiciously, Sister Rosetta was looking in my direction, and the unholy trio seemed to be looking for an excuse to make a joke. But it was about to get worse.

One of the members of the Explorers’ guild raised his hand to voice a complaint. I assumed it would be regarding what Thomasina had mentioned to us the other day regarding the Vodacce poisoning their horses. However, his his chief complaint was as regards our team. Specifically, he was angered by the fact that Jack had a rather intimate relationship to Lord Kaiden’s sister (and seeming second-in-command).

While that particular issue was being discussed, several of his compatriots brought up the Vodacce issue, which caused Umberto to immediately accuse the Explorers of sabotage. Meanwhile Eda, who had borne witness to Jack’s “Flagrant Nakedness” sided with the first team who had accused us. Jack piped in with a denial that anything was “flagrant.” Then the Montaigne jumped into the fray, accusing the unholy trio of belaboring the incessant “penis” jokes, and so it devolved. At one point I was even brought into the matter, as Sister Rosetta started a tiff directly with Lord Kaiden regarding “Terrible Crimes” which had been committed back in Laurentia. She demanded that Mirabella be remanded into her custody so she could seek justice for Father Giuseppe. (although now that I think about it, I don’t ever remember her directly saying that was who she was seeking justice for).

Lord Kaiden, however, responded simply that if justice was what she sought, then perhaps if she pursues this race then perhaps justice is what she shall receive. It was at this point that Lord Kaiden realized several of the teams had new members. So he came over to speak with Mirabella. Then, just like he had asked me so long ago, he questioned what Mirabella lacked. Her response (which I thought remarkably insightful for a young lady of 10) was “Security.”

At that point, Lord Kaiden looked from her to all of us, taking care to look each of us in the eyes (or eye in my case) and afterwards said that if she wishes to stay with us she can, and maybe, she will get her security. I learned later that Jack gave him a saucy wink as they made eye contact, the man is simply incorrigible. Immediately after his pronouncement, there was loud sound, as if a thunderclap, albeit without a cloud in the sky. But I wasn’t paying much attention because, REDACTED… I came back in time to hear Lord Kaiden telling us to take care of our teammates.

Back to the race, he reassured the contestants that our positions and arrival times would be considered, but we were warned not to try his patience or “some people may find their positions being forfeit.”

Eventually we made our way back to our rooms and to sleep, only to quickly awaken in the morning. Oddly, however, it seemed that, while we were still in the inn, Francisco, Siobhan, Jack and I were the only ones awake. Seeing Mirabella was still asleep, I figured to get breakfast ready for her. However, as we made our way downstairs to the bar, we noticed it was empty, a nearly unheard of occurrence. Worse, there was fog filling the town square. Not knowing what was happening, we made our way to Lord Kaiden’s tent and went in.

Within was a figure in all black with a heavy thick black veil. It appeared to look at each of us in turn. As it did so, I noticed the pressure in my missing eye was excruciating. But I could see clearly underneath the veil, the “figure’ was nothing more than a mass of maggots crawling over one another.

As we approached (I less so than the others), Francisco knocked over a glass then began moving toward the figure as if to give it a hug. I didn’t quite understand how, but suddenly I had a rock in my hand which I quickly and decisively hit him in the back of the head with. I could not imagine what that, that, thing had in store for him should he have completed the hug. However, I still feel terrible about hitting my friend.

Seemingly undaunted by the denial, the creature offered us up a deck of cards, like those Fate Witches make use of. And then it said, “Choose your Fate.” I shall not risk your lunch or your sanity by telling you how, exactly, the creature was able to make those sounds…

Quickly we complied, with Jack drawing first, the Three of Swords (right side up). Then Francisco went, drawing the Ace of Swords (also right side up). Next it was Siobhan who drew the Four of Wands (upside down). And finally I went, drawing the Ten of Swords (upside down). Immediately upon drawing the fourth card, the creature said,

Calamity befalls you at every corner
But if your bond remains strong you may overcome it
However, more violence is still in your future
The swords drawn may not be at your own heart
Beware the unseen blade


As she fell silent, we woke up once again. This time, we woke to the sounds of the unholy trio who were lamenting their complete lack of alcohol.

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:08 am

Sextus 26, 1667

Despite the nearby complaints about a lack of alcohol (and the strange dream I had), I awoke refreshed. Siobhan soon made her way to check on Mirabella, and while I tried to tell her about my dream, she had other plans. Soon enough she and Jack made their way out to the open air market while I waited for Mirabella to awaken. Once she had, I discovered she had no designs for breakfast. But fortunately I knew she had yet to turn down pancakes, so we headed down to see what we might find. Meanwhile, Francisco, worried about our stuff, stayed behind to guard things (and yes that included the unholy trio).

Soon enough Jack and Siobhan found some interesting food in the market (I confess some jealousy, as Siobhan discovered someone purporting to have espresso (I will judge for myself the truth of that boast)). After stuffing himself, Jack turned to the important work of the day. I did not mention this previously, but Narissa had become enamored of Mirabella. Unfortunately she was not looking at the child as an adult might (with care and concern) but rather as a collector of items might (as a trophy to be bought and placed on a shelf). She had, on several occasions, mentioned to Jack that she wished to have Mirabella as a gift. So, in an effort to turn her attention toward something else, Jack went looking for a gift for her. What he found was a “Jasmine Goose.” The proprietor claimed that this goose (which was roughly shaped like a goose, but was slightly pink) was from the distant Crescent Empire (Narrator voiceover: It was not). There was a great deal of back and forth, and eventually Jack was persuaded to purchase the fraud.

It was about that time that we all received a message from Lord Kaiden that it was time to meet back at the tents. He apparently had one last job for us here in Elena (before we could do a job FOR Elena). When Jack and Siobhan showed up I could barely smell the cappuccino over the Theus-awful smell of that goose. That’s when I noticed REDACTED…

I meanwhile, tried to ask Sister Rosetta about Mirabella, I thought it about time to clear the air and express my desire to protect the child just as the Sister claimed to. Unfortunately, Lord Kaiden had atrocious his timing, as his pronouncements interrupted our conversation.

Our task this time around involved one of two things. Of course we were only allowed to open them in the order we’d arrived in town (allowing those in the front to remain there). First we had to pick who would do the event. That brought up the question of whether or not Mirabella counted as an event-do’er and I made my objections known. We will not subject a ten-year-old child to such horrors. Fortunately no one gainsay’ed me and we were off. Next, within each letter, we would find directions to our next task, but first we had to make a choice. We could either pick the Quick and Painful task, or the Slow and Easy task.

It being Siobhan and Francisco’s turn, they (surprisingly) took the Slow and Easy one. Once it had been decided I noticed several meaningful glances begin shared (between Francisco and Eda). It turned out their task was to attend an accounting class at the University. I was so thrilled by the prospect, I asked if I could accompany them even if I couldn’t participate (and OH how I should have considered what I was about to do a tiny bit more than I did). In order to attend the lecture, I had Mirabella remain with…it pains me to say it…
With… Hmmmm…. Jack, IletMirabellastaywithJackcursemeforafool.

Meanwhile at the lecture, Professor Ubaldo took command of some very fascinating material, even giving proper credit to the Crescent Empire for this august body of knowledge. The man was simply entrancing. During the lecture, however, I noticed that Siobhan and Francisco were not, well, lets just say they weren’t as interested as I was. So I had to take notes for them. Ah well, I am certain they will read them later.

While I was captivated, Jack and Mirabella learned what the Quick and Painful way was, yam diving. They discovered this when they happened upon Helga who had hurt herself during the contest. In typical Eisen fashion, Helga asked Mirabella if she had murdered the people back in Laurentia. But it scared Mirabella so bad she said nothing. Then, Jack (completely misunderstanding Mirabella’s request to go to the bathroom) began to tell her all about (what is it you Avalon’s call it? Ah yes, the birds and the bees).

I swear by the 2nd Prophet I will never let Jack watch Mirabella unsupervised again.

Unfortunately for me, after a mere three hours the lecture was over. We had just gotten into some of the more detailed (and frankly interesting) minutae and poof, all done. I shall have to come back at some point and ask the good professor to answer a few of my unspoken questions. On our way out, Prof. Ubaldo gave me the envelope in the usual colors. Frankly I had forgotten this was supposed to be some kind of hardship. But given that Francisco was actually in the contest, I gave it to him.

The letter told us to go to Jesolute (which is exactly where we wish to go so we can look for that damn Professor). Unfortunately rather than into Crescent lands (which, I will be honest, I am a bit afraid of doing) we shall be staying on the western side.

While still separated, Jack ran into the unholy trio who, after hearing Jack talking about the birds and the bees, decided to “impart” some of their own “wisdom” to poor Mirabella. Kent’s explanations, in particular, were wildly inaccurate! I am quite certain he has no clue about female physiognomy. I shall have to do a lot of work to correct both he and Mirabella.

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Black Jack Rackham
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:05 pm

Sextus 28, 1667

For the past two days now we have been on our way southeast towards Jesolute. We left Elena and the Vestini territory behind and entered Bernoulli Territory. I have mixed feelings about the Bernoulli. On the one hand I feel like they are the neighbors we know enough to wave to on those rare occasions we meet, on the other, their family were among the worst of the rapacious murderers who destroyed much of Alexia and who’ve harassed my people (well my extended people) for years untold.

Feeling like I was not earning my keep I took a turn or two as carriage driver and I think I am becoming quite proficient at it. Mirabella seems to think so as she seems to delight in being up front, watching the miles pass by (or describing what she’s seen to Signore Borso).

As we got closer to Padova (and thus the Bernoulli) Francisco happened to ask the unholy trio about any interactions they might have had with the other teams, specifically the Vodacce team (we’d been passing the time trying to work our way through what might be happening to the other teams and who might want to see this grand experiment fail). They thought about it very little before blurting out that Umberto (a name we frequently hear when something untoward is happening), had tripped one of them. That jogged Siobhan’s memory as she pointedly remembered that Umberto had said to her that he was related to the Bernoulli (which is not a bit concerning for any of us). That discussion of Umberto and the Bernoulli’s, suddenly reminded me that they had a deal with a band of Crescent mercenaries. Though for the life of me I could not remember their names.

As we worked on serious matters, the unholy trio had other ideas. They’d gotten wind of Francisco’s infatuation for a certain Eisen woman. And in what may have been the crassest moment I have ever witnessed, they inquired if he had *ahem* “scored” yet. I think even Jack cringed at that (a moment to capture forever, I might add). So, perhaps to assuage himself, or simply to irritate me, he began telling Mirabella a story. As it continued I began to notice certain phrases. Little things which could be taken one way (say from a child’s perspective) or an entirely different way (from say, the mind of an adult). As his story continued he would get closer and closer to the point of impropriety, and then back away. Up to the edge and then away, back and forth, sometimes getting just over the edge, and then back out. In and out, in and out and OH MY THEUS NOW HE’S GOT ME DOING IT!!!!

Ahem… where was I?

Ah yes, on the road to Jesolute. As we continued on our way, we happened to spot several logs which had fallen across our path. The kind of thing we’d seen before way back during our very earliest adventures. So we were all on the lookout for a trap. Unfortunately there was no choice but to approach and remove the logs. We simply couldn’t go around.

Siobhan and I stayed with the wagon (and Mirabella) while Might, Kent, Francisco and Jack went to remove the logs. As they got closer a peasant appeared out of the trees. And after a quick conversation he appeared to be looking for a bribe. It was quite a distance but I could have sworn there was something familiar about his voice. As he got closer, several other Vodacce came out of the woodwork. Francisco and Jack made to deal with them as the cloaked figure approached the wagon. Then he threw back his cloak and my world fell apart. REDACTED

Filled with rage, I leapt down and drew my swords, rushing at him as though carried there by the fearsome Djinn. Knowing my infirmities, Siobhan also got down from the wagon to help me. As Might was being chased around by several of the vodacce, I made to engage my enemy. As he drew his scimitar (a weapon I remember well) he spoke to me and REDACTED

The battle kept up for a good while, neither of us able to get in a good hit, when finally several men on horseback showed up. They had guns with them, and that alone caused our enemies to flee, including him… But before he got away I gave him a little reminder that I am no longer without the means to fight back.

The men on horseback introduced themselves as the men of Signore Enrico della Mano. They apologized for any problems we might have had and offered to take us to their lord’s house. Worried about a potential trap Francisco studied them carefully, but could find no duplicity in their offer. So we cleared the debris and made for Signore della Mano’s manse. (past the village of Padua)

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Black Jack Rackham
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Re: Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:09 pm

Sextus 28, 1667

As we continued on our way back to Signore della Mano’s villa, Francisco asked me some about Mazhun and how I knew him. While painful to say, I told him simply that Mazhun took my tongue. (among other tortures the savage inflicted) It is so tedious to need to write out what my thoughts are. But just the fact that I can make myself understood at last has been such a relief. Unfortunately, our discussion was cut short by some of our host’s guards, who were inspecting their prisoner for signs of life. Before I could offer my services, they determined he was still breathing, and that seemed to suffice them. However given the reputation of the Vodacce I do not think much about the man’s future prospects for continued breathing.

As we got within eyesight of the villa, one of the guards split off from our group, taking the horse carrying the prisoner with him. We were told that they were heading toward a local prison, so unless he has some rich (or powerful) friends I doubt very much we shall see him before we all meet the Second Prophet.

Once at the villa, the typical retinue of servants greeted us to take care of the animals, our stuff, ask about our comfort, etc. Mirabella, for her part, was attached to me (as usual) but her mind seemed elsewhere. Most of my fellows (and the unholy trio for that matter) seemed disinterested by the goings on of the staff, however all three of the UT perked up when the servants inquired as to whether we would like some of the local “vino.”

While I do not partake, we were also offered food, a fact which got Mirabella’s attention. It was explained to us we could get whatever food we might wish. Apparently while here, we are to be considered family. Mirabella continued to hold on tightly to me, although I do not know whether this was because of the activity or her own fears. I am certain she will tell me when she is ready.

The villa of Signore Enrico della Mano was quaint and spacious enough for all of us to have our own rooms (Mirabella, of course, wished to stay with me. But it was not unexpected). What was unexpected, however, was the fact that, for the first time, she beheld the ravage which used to be my face. To this day I am still ashamed of it, although her reaction was, if anything, better than I could have hoped for. Nevertheless, I could still see the fear and revulsion in her eyes. So, since I had not the words to say to her, I wrote her a letter instead, apologizing for having put her through that. I tried to empathize with how awful it must have been (I too have a similar reaction every time I am confronted by a mirror.) It will take some time but I hope this will not damage our relationship too much. Unfortunately, I was still not ready to reveal my latest surprise for her, so I needed Siobhan to translate for me.

Eventually we were asked down to dinner. Having no more suitable clothes (and certainly none which would cover my disfigurement), I was relegated to my usual attire. For her part, Mirabella seemed quite uncomfortable in her new outfit. Meanwhile Siobhan, Jack, and Francisco were their usual stunning selves.

After being seated, four other members of the della Mano family arrived. All four were women and all four wore the traditional black dresses and veils of the Sorte Strega. After the first course served (it was quite excellent, judging by my companions’ reactions), our host made his entrance. Young and quite handsome, it was obvious in the first few seconds that he was rather smitten by Siobhan (I base this on the fact that everyone else in the room ceased to exist (as far as he was concerned) once his eyes alighted upon her).

For her part, Siobhan graciously introduced us all (save the UT, since according to her, “they were not worth introducing.”). However, while he was taken with her words, he seemed barely to even notice us. Enrico’s mother, however, noticed all around her. She had pointed questions for Siobhan (interrupting her on several occasions). Perhaps sensing the awkwardness, Enrico tried introducing us to his family. His mother’s name was, apparently Leonarda, then there were his twin sisters Daria and Agia (who were in their early to mid teens) and finally his little sister, Solange (who was a mere 6).

It did little to assuage Leonarda. Despite her son’s graciousness, Leonarda did not relent against Siobhan. But it was Siobhan’s responses to the witch’s questions which most stunned me. It began when Leonarda asked where she was from. Now given her accent, general deportment, and name, I believe all of us assumed Siobhan was Inish. She confirmed as much, but with an odd choice of words. She said that, by culture, she was from Inismore. But when pressed, she revealed that her family came from Vodacce, specifically Cavazza

Once she was finished with Siobhan, she turned to Mirabella, asking how she fit into all of this. The others tried to explain that she was just coming along with us, but I felt they were not making things clear enough. So, I stood and made my feelings known. Pointing to Mirabella and then myself with a vehemence I did not know I possessed outside my hatred for Mazhun and his masters, I attempted to indicate I was her guardian.

Feeling even more awkward, and seeing that I was not going to be good for dinner-time conversation, I offered to switch places with Francisco (He had been relegated to another table with the Unholy Trio. And had been listening to Might speak at length about how he felt as though Jack and he had left Might as a sacrificial lamb to the wolves during the fight). My arrival served both our purposes as I could safely ignore them and get Mirabella out of the direct line of fire while giving Francisco an easy escape. As we made to leave I REDACTED

Shaking it off, I pulled Mirabella’s chair out and as she sat down, I got her attention. Then, with a flourish, wrote her a small letter. It said in Vodacce (my first words ever in that language), “I told them Mirabella, you are my child.”

Francisco immediately jumped in to save the day, turning the talk to the bandits we’d encountered and inquiring if Enrico knew any more about them. Unfortunately, there was little he could add, saying that job usually fell to his father (the actual lord hereabouts). However, he was off somewhere to the south looking in on his courtesan. Despite his pointed portrayal of his father, it seemed to me Enrico was more than a bit naïve, especially given that his understanding of the bandits began and ended with every stereotype of my people that exist (that “genies” abound everywhere, ready to grant your every wish (well, the “Jinn” exist. And making a deal with them is unwise in the extreme.), that every woman in the Crescent Empire knows “belly dancing.” (the Raqs Sharki exists and, depending on where you watch it, is more akin to a ballet. It is, by no means, meant to be alluring or enticing. And both men and women are practiced in the art form.), and that all of my people travel primarily by *snerk* enchanted rugs.)

For his part, Jack fawned over the eggplant parmesan and had nothing but good things to say about everyone and everything (in other words, Jack was Jack like he always is.).

Later that evening we retired to our rooms. As soon as we got settled I noticed that fresh towels had been provided. As I absently touched one (to move it someplace out of the way) I realized how soft and plush they were. In horror I ran for the door, but was too late. There was a knock at the door, and outside stood Jack. He also had noticed the towels’ quality and showed up to both pontificate on their attributes and deliver one to me that I might bring it along after we left. As I said, I realized he’d be showing up. What I didn’t realize (but in retrospect should have) was that in his, *ahem* excitement to deliver the tidings, he would forget that he’d been in the middle of cleaning himself, meaning that he had arrived at my door stark naked.

As I reached out to take the towel, he mistook my gesture and I soon found myself in the midst of an ardent embrace (not the first time, or even the first time today. It’s just—somehow—he surprises me with it every time). As we stood there, Jack whispering sweet nothings (or something else entirely, I really have no idea) into my deaf ear, one of the twins we’d seen earlier passed by us in the hallway. I waited for her to make some comment but, at least for the time being, it seemed she felt discretion was the better part of valor and moved along without saying a word.

Once free from Jack I continued getting ready for bed when I noticed Mirabella had been rubbing her wrist for some time. Offering to take a look I noticed she had quite a significant bruise. I asked her about it, but all I could get was that she’d apparently gotten out of the house at some point and run through the garden. I didn’t want to press but I am worried about this as I don’t remember a time she wasn’t within an arm’s reach of me. I must learn more about this…

And that’s where we left it 
smafdi wrote:STOP BEING SO DARN POPULAR GUYZ SRSLY I NEEDZ MEH GAMEZ TIHS YAER!!!

kenderleech wrote:If the cows were not meant to be ridden, why would they be so close to the chase scenes?
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Black Jack Rackham
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