Chapter 0: The Meet-Up.   Posted by Fate.Group: 0
Fate
 GM, 18 posts
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 02:47
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
You all meet at a cafe.  Or at least, you've all been told to meet at a cafe:  The Mockingbird, a small, smoky, upscale bistro a few blocks away from the senate building.  Martella Locheed has requested that you all arrive here one hour before the Gala begins, to introduce yourselves to each other and to answer any remaining questions you may have.

Long, golden beams of the setting sun dance through the cafe’s smoky interior, highlighting breads, cheeses, and wine bottles behind the only counter.  Martella sips casually from a steaming mug, dressed in an elegant but reserved gown—at least by Taldan standards. A hand-sized brass cricket buzzes quietly on the tabletop beside her.

This message had punctuation tweaked by the GM at 03:11, Sat 20 Oct 2018.

Alyssa
 player, 5 posts
 Expressionist Painter
 Cutest Little Devil
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 06:48
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Alyssa was clearly excited with a wide smile that almost reached from ear to ear as she entered the cafe. The Purple tiefling was wearing a white shirt, purple vest shade darker than her with golden embroidery, black pants and leather booths along with a symbol of Shelyn around her neck. One might wonder what craft she practiced if not the spot of blue paint on her cheek. On her belt was dangling a pouch and on the other side a sheathed rapier.

She looked around the Cafe with one hand behind her back and the other over her eyes until she was able to spot the lady Martella and she enthusiastically pranced her way across the cafe to Martella, with a hand in chest bowing before the lady before taking a seat.

"Am I early? Or am I late? I lost the passing of time when inspiration struck... Well, As Taldor is at the forefront of art, it is the duty of her artists to be at the front of trends, neh?" She tilted her head to the side in a playful manner, the tail behind her swaying from side to side restlessly.
Linette Cathloy
 player, 4 posts
 Look, Bell, tweet for
 the lovely people! :-)
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 08:24
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
OOC: spells selected for the situation in my char sheet

Linette walks in, blushing slightly in her fancy finery. Moreso as she hangs her fine lady's cloak on the hook by the door. Her black velvet dress is rather low-cut, held shut with lace, and a slit runs up her skirt halfway up her thigh along one leg. Attention is subtly drawn to both by silver embroidery. She looks slightly uncomfortable with the gaze of others, but laughs away any chivalrous male offers for "help" with a practiced, imperious wave. Few seem to notice the dagger and pair of pouches on her hip.

Spotting the tiefling, Linette slowly approaches and offers a well-practiced, customary double-kiss, first her right cheek, then her left, without of course the scandal of actually touching lip to skin. "My my, aren't you looking lovely, Alyssa," she says with a small smile. "I simply adore the affectation of artistry, dah-ling. Very chic. And as you said, very patriotic."

The dark-clad woman sits down gently, folds her hands in her lap and waits to be served. "I'm looking forward to the gala. Aren't you so excited? I have a good feeling about it, don't you?" she asks, her voice a hint too monotonous to match her words.

This message was last edited by the player at 08:25, Sat 20 Oct 2018.

Katja Sundstrom
 player, 4 posts
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 12:10
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Heavy footfalls heralded the approach of the huge Ulfen woman, clad not in noble dress or the like, but polished scale armour and a sturdy dwarven-styled warhammer on her belt. What better way for a smith to stand out than wearing her own work? Especially as the student of the Emberscars, some of the finest smiths in Oppara. Her fiery red hair couldn't have much done with it, given the shaved wavy sidecut that it was, draped down the right side of her face, but she'd put attention into making sure it was neatly cared for.

She saw two other ladies at Martella's table, and headed over to stand beside them, bowing her head a bit to the three as her hand rested atop the head of her hammer casually. "Good morning, everyone. I am Katja," she said simply, not really seeing the need to stand on ceremony, at least not yet.
Fate
 GM, 20 posts
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 16:09
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Martella looks up from her drink with a broad smile as the first members of her new team arrive.  “I’m so pleased you could join me this evening,” she begins. “Please order whatever you like; the fig jam is particularly lovely here.  And feel free to speak candidly.  I’ve taken measures to ensure our privacy.”
Linette Cathloy
 player, 5 posts
 Look, Bell, tweet for
 the lovely people! :-)
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 16:25
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
In reply to Fate (msg # 5):

"Whew. I'm glad to hear it, my Lady," said Linette, her haughty accent fading momentarily into simpler peasant speak before she catches herself. "Ahem. What is the itinerary for tonight?" she asks.
Alyssa
 player, 6 posts
 Expressionist Painter
 Cutest Little Devil
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 16:52
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
"Heya!" Alyssa exclaimed loudly followed with a giggle as she returned the greeting to Linette "Why thank you, Dearie! I was not too sure of the outfit I had my uhh..." Alyssa taps her chin couple of times " friend of mine said this would suit the Gala better than a dress. She also told to bring the sword with me as a fashion accessory. It is supposed to make me look very uhhh... Patriotic as you so finely put it, Dearie!" Alyssa nodded a couple of times. "You look gorgeous yourself, Speaking of gorgeus."

The tiefling turned her head towards the redheaded newcomer, bowing her head. "Greetings, Lady Katja... Miss Katja? Just Katja?" She bounced her head from the side to side with every proposed title before she shrugged "Regardless, Nice to meet you, Katja. I am Alyssa. Just Alyssa, though maybe in future I hope to be known as Alyssa of Oppara. Do you think such is too pompous hope, my Lady?"
Andrezi Holm
 player, 5 posts
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 16:53
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
A broad-shouldered human of average height walks in and, spotting Martella, makes his way towards the table.  His brown hair and complexion marks him of Taldane descent.  A blue silk shirt with small sapphires studding the sleeves peeks out from under the scale mail armor that he wears competently. A thin but study leather belt rest on his hips that supports a sheathed falcata with a blue silk peace know looks to be securing it to its scabbard. He also wears black pants and navy blue boots that complete his outfit.

Walking confidently up to the table, he gives a slight bow to Martella as he says, "A pleasure seeing you again Lady Lotheed. And it looks as if some of the associates you mentioned have already arrived as well."  With that, Andrezi leveled his blue eyes on the other ladies who were already around the table. "I am Andrezi, recently arrived to Oppara." At the mention of being able to speak candidly, Andrezi took a seat at the table and added, "Indeed, I look forward to working with you all.  While I hope it won't be needed, know that my hands say what my profession might not.  I know how to use the blade at my hip."  When serving staff pass, he catches their attention as asks for a tea pastry with some of the fig jam that Martella recommended. "Indeed, I know that there may be some tasks that have been passed around, and while I know better to ask what the end goal may be, knowing how these tasks might interact during the night would be beneficial...I think."
Shai al-Khalif
 player, 3 posts
Sat 20 Oct 2018
at 17:25
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
"I'm here too.~"

A (Surprisingly not high-pitched) voice sounds from behind the well-armored, obscured by his bulk until she stepped around him. A particularly dainty half-elf with a cinnamon-colored complexion and luxurious black locks, done up in artful tangles. She was clad in blue silks of high quality and a fair amount of (Surprisingly genuine) jewelry. The only real oddities on her person were the long silken case tied to her sash, and a Starknife of all things on her hip.

"Good day, everyone. I am Shai al-Khalif." And THERE was the Qadiran accent in her smoky voice. Honestly it was kind-of strange how a tiny halfling had such a sultry voice. Those in-the-know might recognize her as a rising star amongst the more musically inclined of Oppara, a talented singer as well as a downright genius flutist. Sea green eyes locked onto the tiefling with a bob of her head, an acknowledgement from one artist to another (Albeit vastly different forms of art) before she smiled at Martella.

"My my, this is more people than I expected. You've been quite busy, dear Martella."

The halfling happily (and nimbly) climbed onto a nearby chair, intent on snagging some of that fig jam for herself. A treat not common back home!
Alexis Ashewood
 player, 6 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 01:35
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Soon the door into the bistro opened again, the creak of the door and the tell-tale brush of metal against metal heralding the coming of another visitor to this establishment. A short figure garbed in silvered steel armour, noble finery and adorned with exquisite blue plumage stepped through the door, brushing off the dust of a dreary journey and shivering as the warmth of the cafe washed over it.

Its scale armour was beautiful to behold, but old - the silvered plating had begun to oxidize around the edges, leading to a contrasting patina of dark metal to develop in the inner interlocking ridges. Though the majority of its body was garbed in such scales, it wore steel vambraces and greaves, as well as gauntlets and pauldrons to give the added look of a knight of some distinction - though too stricken by poverty to afford the ornate heavy armours worn by many Taldorian nobles. A cloak of heavy ocean blue material, tattered and torn around the bottom edge, hung around her neck, its silver embroidery and fur lining making it appear almost regal despite its age.

Taking a moment to look around, the figure moved its hands up to unclasp the helmet from being secured to its chest scales and lifted it up, revealing the face of a tired half-elven girl on the very cusp of adulthood. Bringing her helmet under her arm, she slid back the light protective headgear, letting silver hair spill out and fall in elegant waves on either side of her head, though brought together at the rear and bound into a tail that she draped across her shoulder. At her side, just behind a dagger and a morning star adorned with the sigils of the Royal Grave Wardens, a small light could be noticed - a lantern that gave off a faint, ghostly glow, and which she was quick to cover up again.

Approaching Martella's table with her helmet held under arm and plumage, the girl stood for a few seconds too long before offering a low, respectful curtsy. "Forgive my lateness, Your Grace," she said, rising from her position once more, her voice a tad droning and tired, "I was indisposed in acquiring the garments you so graciously funded for me, and for which I am indebted."

Looking to the others gathered, she took a hesitant seat, sweeping her cloak to the side as she sat, "I am Knight-Vigilant Alexis Ashewood. Lady Lotheed has invited me to join you in attending this evening's gala. Though I may not know you at present, I hope we all can become firm friends." She did not take a pastry, nor drink anything fancy - instead she only quietly requested for the serving staff to bring her some water - which she sipped at slowly.
Fate
 GM, 21 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 03:24
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Andrezi finds it surprisingly hard to attract the wait-staff's attention, especially for such a small cafe.  Eventually a server is flagged down and food orders are placed.  The food that arrives is light but delicious.

Martella graciously acknowledges each new arrival in turn, before turning to answer the questions put forth by Linette and Andrezi.  "The itinerary for the Gala is fairly simple," she explained, one hand idly winding a key on the clockwork insect in front of her.  "A speech or two, dinner, and a vote, with long stretches for refreshments, conversation, and back-room dealing in between.  After the vote, the Grand Prince will exalt our lucky guest of honor to a place among the Bearded nobility.  And, if history is any indicator, at least one senator will get insensibly drunk and need to be carried off by his retinue."

"Meanwhile..." Martella drew a handful of small, identical brooches from her purse.  "We will be working." 

She handed one pin to Shai. "Spying..."

to Alyssa: "Stealing..."

Andrezi: "Slandering..."

Linette: "Sabotaging..."

And giving out the last two pins to Katja and Alexis, she finished:  "Or simply playing politics."

"These badges identify you as senatorial aides working for Senator Voritas.  Of course, there hasn't been a Senator Voritas for over fifty years, but his credentials live on.  Its a common tradition for guests to wear the badges of extinct family lines, so you won't be questioned about it.  They are also minor magical items: I will be able to send you short messages through the master badge, and you will be able to reply with messages of your own."


Linette Cathloy
 player, 6 posts
 Look, Bell, tweet for
 the lovely people! :-)
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 08:31
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
In reply to Fate (msg # 11):

Linette smiles nervously and accepts the proferred broach. "Your humble servant graciously thanks her Lady for the gift," she says before a somewhat annoyed-sounding trill erupts from one of her hip pouches.

Linette winces and opens it, allowing a beautiful bluebird to peek out. It seems to glare at Linette reproachfully, meaningfully. Linette sighs and straightens up, shoulders back, with a curt nod. "We are eager to prove our worthiness," she announces in a more confident tone. The bluebird almost seems to nod before retreating back into the pouch.

Linette turns and addresses the others. "As some of us haven't made our acquaintance, allow me to introduce myself. I am Linette Cathloy, first of my name, master of and servant to the mysteries of the arcane, and the little one is Bell. As Lady Martella's noted, I will be involved in sabotage. But my magical talents are not confined only to such. Should you be in need of my aid, I implore you to relay any such requests through my Lady. Likewise, I expect the same service to the cause from each of you, in the doubtful circumstance that I require aid. May our enemies find naught but misfortune, and may we honor our ancestors with puissant skill," she says with a grandiose flourish.

Linette pats the pouch where her apparent familiar hides once she's completed her improptu speech and seems reassured by whatever response she receives.
Alyssa
 player, 7 posts
 Expressionist Painter
 Cutest Little Devil
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 10:53
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Alyssa greeted every newcomer with equal enthusiasm and vigor, introducing herself as the artist known as Alyssa.

The tiefling squirmed a bit within her seat when Lady Martella mentioned the nature of the task she had been brought here to perform. She shrank down in her seat and gave a sheepish smile, bearing her sharp teeth a little. Sure, all the jobs laid out were unflattering in a way or another. She accepted the brooch, turning it in her hands and inspecting the craftsmanship from different angles.

"Are these all of your... uhmm... Agents in the Gala? I have been thinking about what you have asked of me and... well, I wondered if you were going to have any people who would attract less attention there like waiters?" She chuckled nervously, scratching her neck with a single digit. "I might need the aid of one of you or more during the Gala, so I will appreciate your co-operation, and in turn, do not uhmmm... Be a stranger if you need my help." She managed a smile and nodded a couple of times for emphasis.
Katja Sundstrom
 player, 5 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 11:24
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Katja nodded to the others as they each joined the gathering, giving a friendly smile in turn. Quite an eclectic bunch Martella had gathered. Were they really all reliable for ensuring the future of the princess and the country? Only time would tell, but they all seemed a good sort so far. Linette puzzled her a little in how she flipped back and forth between attitudes so easily, something Katja herself was not good at doing. She had a penchant for being honest and straightforward... probably not the most favourable attributes in the wolf's den of politics.

Holding out her palm to accept the brooch, she looked at it with a furrowed brow for a moment. Glancing back up to Martella as she gripped the object, she said "To be honest, I'm not really sure how you expect me to help in this case... I am not a very good talker. Especially among nobility. I mean, unless they're fascinated by armour forging techniques. I will do my best, however."

She looked to the others. "I also extend my assistance to you all. As I said, I'm not much of a political maneuverer, but perhaps I can help in other ways if necessary," the ulfen woman smiled, before looking for somewhere to affix her brooch, eventually settling for her collar.
Linette Cathloy
 player, 7 posts
 Look, Bell, tweet for
 the lovely people! :-)
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 11:48
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Regarding Katja coolly, Linette remarks, "You have a certain...striking presence about you. Surely you could provide a distraction for Alyssa by bumping into a table or blustering about a duel or the like. In return for suffering some such minor humiliation on behalf of our esteemed artistic ally, if you truly need help in some form of social encounter, I could deign to bring calumny down on the head of your chosen verbal sparring partner and make them look...even more foolish. For a brief, crucial moment, anyway."

This message was last edited by the player at 11:49, Sun 21 Oct 2018.

Fate
 GM, 22 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 14:59
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Martella gave Katja a sympathetic look, well aware of how ill-suited the forge-priest was to political debate.  "I wouldn't sell yourself so short, Katja.  Clear eyes and a strong will count for more than you might think.  However, in this line of work it's not always about what you know, so much as who you know."  To emphasize her point, Martella gestured around the table to the rest of the team, several of which had already offered their aid.  "I'm counting on all of you to work together to ensure success and discretion in tonight's work.  If you need help, kindly ask for it.  If your help is required, give it."

"Although, if I’m to be blunt, I would like just once in my adult life to simply enjoy a gala I attend, rather than scamper about with clandestine busywork. If you all complete your tasks without need of me to clean anything up, I will happily double my promised fee to three hundred gold apiece."

“Still, I trust your activities won’t occupy your entire evening, so by all means, enjoy the party!  Make friends!  This is an excellent opportunity for you to pursue your own political ambitions, but do be discreet.”

Alyssa
 player, 8 posts
 Expressionist Painter
 Cutest Little Devil
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 15:40
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
"Ah, My lady, I do apologize. I live my life as my Art. Every stroke of the brush comes from a place of passion and the moment, but if you begin without preparation or foresight, what you end up is nothing but discord on the canvas. Nothing is worse than to realize you have run out of the color you need or misplaced a brush you need at that moment. An awkward moment, as if a member of a play drops dead mid-performance." She speaks passionately, emoting wildly with her hand only to freeze and realize that she is overdoing it. She lowers her arms down and places hands on top of her lap, bowing her head apologetically.

"What I am trying to say is, I like to be as prepared as possible. For this Gala is once in a lifetime for me, for all of us and most importantly for the art itself. I wish to make my performance worthy of your expectations, my Lady." She reaches up with her hand to stroke the silver holy symbol depicting a songbird of Shelyn. "I cannot promise it but... I'll be as Discreet as possible." She smirked mischievously.
Andrezi Holm
 player, 6 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 16:47
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Slander seems like fair turnabout to me.  Maxillar slandered my family's good name...only fair that I shall need to do the same...possibly to one of the good general's own, the muscled merchant thought as he afixed the badge to a visible place on his armor. In response to Katja's concern, Andrezi chimes in, "I am sure you will be able to figure it out there. Besides, as I have come to learn in my short time as a merchant, profession breeds politics.  You look to be quite competent as a smith or craftswoman...use that and I am sure you will be able to turn a few heads." Taking a bite of his pastry, he politely chews and swallows before continuing, "I am Andrezi, recent arrival to Oppara. While some might think slander a bit cruel...I am sure I can find out something so it is more an exaggeration of the truth than a complete falsehood.  The better to sell it after all. Fair warning though, you may hear me getting a tad agreeable with views that we are fighting against.  I'll need to sort out the more conservative of this gala's guests somehow."
Linette Cathloy
 player, 8 posts
 Look, Bell, tweet for
 the lovely people! :-)
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 17:12
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
"Saying things we don't mean is nothing new in Oppara, Mr. Andrazi," muses Linette darkly, a frown playing across her features as she fails to suppress a shudder. "Rest assured that I understand the need to say and do what we'd rather not for a greater purpose."

Glancing at Martella and recomposing herself, Linette asks, "In order to best enable you to...enjoy yourself at the gala, my Lady, to your knowledge what are the likeliest threats there? Certain topics lately deemed unfashionable at court, certain hot-headed individuals to avoid spilling wine upon, certain ministers that ought not be seduced, or the like?"

Alyssa, I'll leave purple for you if you like.
Alexis Ashewood
 player, 7 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 20:12
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
The knight glanced to Katja as she spoke, there was a short pause as she seemed to collect her words, then spoke. "My Lady, I believe in your skill, - our lady-patron is wise and virtuous, and I trust her to have selected only the most capable to aid her," she said, her words stiff and formal, a little too much so, "Your modesty does your character credit."

"Though... ah..., once this is over, I wouldn't mind offering you some gold if you could have a look at my armour? It is a tad worn, and there's some blackness developing around the edges that I can't get rid of...", she added after a short pause, gesturing to the slight patina of oxidation along her silvered scales.

"I oath to you all and eternally triumphant Taldor, that I pledge to do my best to aid you in the execution of your duties for the betterment of the nation and its people," she said, sitting to attention and drawing up to her full, rather unimpressive, height. She took the offered pin and affixed it to her cloak, at the edge of where the fur met the cloth, taking care to make sure it was clearly visible. "I am... ah... not very much a people person, I usually spend my days in the company of the dead, but my father has taught me skills befitting a noble and how to speak."

She nodded at Andrezi, "I believe that to be alright as the Lady said - It is likely that we will have to say things we would rather not, but Taldori politics are both tiresome and often require you to make friends with people who you'd rather be enemies."

This message was last edited by the player at 21:45, Sun 21 Oct 2018.

Fate
 GM, 23 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 20:26
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
With an apologetic shrug, Martella responded to Lisette's question.  "There are two hundred twenty two senators attending the gala.  All of them are potential threats, all of them have different ideas of what makes appropriate conversation, and none of them would react well to having a drink spilled on them.  And as for seduction?  I'm afraid you'll have to use your own best judgement there, as well."

Searching for an answer that might prove actually useful, the would-be spymaster continued.  "The most obvious threat is of course the Grand Strategos, Maxillar Pythareus.  He's the most prominent opponent to Primogeniture reform, and command of the Taldan Phalanx gives him authority over anyone hoping for military advancement.  Earl Vernisant is almost always up to something, though he might just have the sense to keep his head down after that debacle with the pirates.  Starbourne, Sundstrom, Pace and Centimus are all potential wild cards, as is Nicodemius."

"The guards are pretty toothless when it comes to dealing with guests, but they're quick to throw out anyone they find breaking the rules, especially if the guest in question got in with an out-of-date badge."

Shai al-Khalif
 player, 4 posts
Sun 21 Oct 2018
at 21:41
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Shai graciously accepts the badge, looking it over with a deft eye, before pinning it to her silks. The halfling woman well knew what was expected of her, and would hopefully not disappoint. It would be a bit more interesting than practicing with her Starknife or Flute, that's for sure.

"I'll be discrete as a field mouse amongst pups." She assures the group, before returning to her tasty meal. She watched the back and forth and brainstorming with a bemused expression, only speaking up once talk of threats and troubles came up.

"I'll be, if all goes well, keeping an eye on the High Strategos as much as possible. If he or his confidants nearby raise any trouble, I hope to get the word out to the rest of us before it becomes an issue. Everyone should absolutely be ready to improvise oh-so-carefully though. In such a large gala full of the wealthiest and most influence of Oppara, anything could happen."
Andrezi Holm
 player, 7 posts
Mon 22 Oct 2018
at 12:45
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
At the mention of the Grand Strategos' participation in the Gala, there is an almost imperceptible tensing of Andrezi's jaw.  If is be for a moment before he relaxes again, "And to you know which among those you named are allies with the Grand Strategos?  Also, what of this pirate debacle you mentioned?"
Katja Sundstrom
 player, 6 posts
Mon 22 Oct 2018
at 19:36
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Katja let out a soft chuckle in response to the comments on her. "It seems strangers have more confidence in me than I do. I suppose I can't allow myself to fail now and disappoint you all." Nodding to Alexis, she added "And certainly, I can take a look at that armour sometime, or my mentors. They're more skilled than I am in such things."

Her brow furrowed as she considered the names Martella mentioned. "Sundstrom is set in his ways, and I don't think he's necessarily too shrewd in the field of politics, but he was an Ulfen Guard before his ascendence to nobility. He always has an eye out for danger, both seen and unseen."
Fate
 GM, 25 posts
Mon 22 Oct 2018
at 20:12
Chapter 0: The Meet-Up
Martella nodded slightly at Katja's appraisal of the newly appointed senator.  "You know him better than I.  After all, if I had a read on any of those five, I wouldn't be calling them wild cards." 

Lady Lotheed took one last sip of her tea, daintily wiped her face with a napkin, and rose to her feet. "As for the story with the pirates, I'll tell you as we walk.  Duty calls, I'm afraid."

OOC: To chapter 1: The Exaltation Gala

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:18, Mon 22 Oct 2018.