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TheElementHunter

The Heavy Hand (Outpost 4?)

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Ivan trails a hand along the scar that runs on the side of his head breathing in then out. His breaths are shaky, whether that was from the nerves or the chill in the air he didn’t know. He didn’t really want to know. Another breath. He looks up at the woman towering above him, outlined by the cloud dappled sky.

“Nice day, huh?”

Ivan looks over, somewhat startled by the dwarven man grinning up at him. Taking in a big breath he hacks, spitting out a glob of dark spit then refilling his mouth with a dark swath of tobacco. It took all of Ivan’s self-restraint to not recoil from the display and just walk away, back to the tavern him and his new companions were staying at.

“Um, yes,” Ivan reaches out a dark hand that contrasts handsomely with the deep crimson of his cloak. “Though I’m unsure what would be considered a nice day in this region considering it’s my first time here.” The dwarf’s smile is missing a few teeth, but the congeniality of the gesture isn’t lost on Ivan.

“Well son this is a mighty fine day, if that’s whatcha sayin’” His hand grasps Ivan’s gripping it tightly. “Anyway I see y’ere staring up at that mighty fine woman.” A chuckle. “Don’t stare to hard, don’t want them Druids to chop y’ere eyes out.”

Ivan rolls his eyes once the man walks away, the stench of alcohol following in his path. Oh, how he hated alcoholics. But the man might have been on to something in his drunken musings. Everyone else spoke highly of the Druids, calling them things like ‘holy’ and ‘honorable’. The Druid were the kind to murder a man, call it upright, and everyone around them would think so too. The dwarf had been the first ill word he’d heard about them since he’d entered these mountains.

The criminal enterprise had been his excuse to get up here, but Dalia was the reason. Five years ago she’d come up here when he’d begged her not to, begged her to stay with him in Blaireville. She was a curious one and followed where the trail led. The first year had been rough, but after a while they letters were sufficient. He could always feel the energy in her words, see her days in the descriptions. She’d been getting close to something. She told him the Druid weren’t what they seemed, and tried to get in the way of her work whenever they could.

Dangerous.

Then the letters stopped. He’d written to the city and no one knew who he was even talking about.  Then he tried to go there, the darkness springing from his heart.

Falling.

Silence.

The Beast.

Ivan shakes his head, dispelling the memories and quelling the writhing darkness springing from under his cloak. He’d been out long enough. He walks back to the tavern waiting for his mates to arise and join him at a booth.

Spoiler

@supernal

@Rabbit

Just PM for any clarifications or if I've screwed something up

OOC

 

Edited by TheElementHunter
Added OOC

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Spoiler

 

A day like any other passed by, travelling to yet another destination in need of "expansion". With a newly booming business comes the need for logical investments, whether those investments are legal or not is another matter. The raider had already established trade with some business owners, managing to strike deals with those in the refining business. Vito had little interesting in becoming friends nor strengthening bonds, rather only getting his foot within the door. 

Walking down the stone path, the raider kept his drake mount close to his side. His initial fear was locals having issues with such creatures, but few seemed fazed. Beyond the odd glance, everyone kept to their own business. A welcome entry to the usual gasps and screams. The raider stood outside the meeting point, a quaint little tavern. He stared up at the giant statues, not knowing of their meeting. He simple stood, imaging what it cost and was it worth it. 

'Nice town, almost to nice.'

'Very...spiritual. Like a military hippy town.'

'Don't like it?'

'I love it, it's too funny. It brings me joy, people part of a cult and not knowing it.'

Pushing the crazy god in his head aside, it was an amazing site. Towering above, he could see it from miles away in his airship. Acting as a beacon, calling outsiders in. Turning his attention, Vito waited for Caden outside. Hoping he wasn't already in there, making himself look like a fool....again.

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Caden was nearby.

Across the street, in fact, keeping vigil on the tavern from a short distance. On this occasion he wore a dark brown duster, one the blended him in flawlessly against the darkling ambiance of a rapidly setting sun. He watched Vito in an unguarded moment, and with a little more effort peered through the windows of the tavern into its belly, watching Ivan as well. After a few minutes he was as satisfied as he could be that everything and everyone was what they should be – aside from his underworld worries, Caden now had to concern himself with thoughts of body-snatching parasites.

He tapped Vito on the shoulder on his way past the marauder, into the tavern, through the crowd, and to Ivan's booth. He slid into the cushioned seat, removing his trilby hat and letting it rest in his lap, then brought one hand to rest on the table and let the other remain out of sight by his hip.

Vito was right to keep his thoughts unuttered. Caden was less fool and more foolhardy, less senseless and more reckless, but was exactly the kind of man to sacrifice his hand if it meant he could punch someone's contempt for him off their face; as Vito cut him a wide berth Caden instead channeled these energies into tripling their business holdings and expanding their trade route. This man had thin white scars on his knuckles, visible by the booth's candlelight, and scars on his arms and face, chipped or missing teeth, puffy ears from relentless pugilism; this guise of a bruiser hid well the honed, predatory instincts of the shark swimming between his ears.

"Youse guys finished your laps alright, right? This ain't a party town, they don't hide anything about that. I think we skip past the consumer just like me and V did in Norkotia but here there ain't no underbelly to vampire tap and get our dues. Me, I think we're gonna have to find out what the druids get up to in that temple, and see if there's a space we can fill. What all youse think?"

Edited by supernal

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Ivan sits for a few moments, gazing at the other patrons in the tavern. The haphazard, rowdy spirit that usually filled these types of establishments was not present in this one. Everyone seemed to keep there noses close to there heads, except when waving over the blonde waitress that glided across the space.  He raises his own hand, mimicking the others, ordering a pitcher of milk and some bacon.

"Milk sir?" She cocks an eyebrow, a hint of a smirk on her face. Ivan rolls his eyes.

"Yes, is there a problem with that?" She shakes her head before heading behind the bar. She whispers to the bartender, his chest huffing out in a deep bellied laugh before heading to the back. Whatever. Ivan didn't care about what other people thought. He hated alcohol, the sting, the roaring fire in his belly, and how he couldn't think after. And he definitely needed a clear mind for what they were about to do.

Vito and Caden walk in before the bacon arrives. He sets down his milk, shaking their hands and motioning for them to sit. He didn't know the two very well, but he liked them and appreciated their work. It wasn't everyday that two criminal undergrounds took a total newbie under their wing. They'd even been a little sympathetic when he told them some of his reason for wanting to tag along on this particular mission to Behods.

On 11/30/2019 at 1:58 PM, supernal said:

"Youse guys finished your laps alright, right? This ain't a party town, they don't hide anything about that. I think we skip past the consumer just like me and V did in Norkotia but here there ain't no underbelly to vampire tap and get our dues. Me, I think we're gonna have to find out what the druids get up to in that temple, and see if there's a space we can fill. What all youse think?"

"I believe you are correct," Ivan moves his cup out of the way as the blonde returns, placing a steaming platter of bacon in front of them. "But politics is going to be the best way. They're not going to let strangers into their dark deeds without an... incentive." He eats a sliver, chewing slowly. "We need dirt on one of them, something that'll bring their empire crumbling down if known by their people. We use that as leverage and how can they say no?" They'd see Ivan's eye glow a deep purple, nearly black, as the stone in his staff and his spell book latched inside his cloak glow.

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"By aboleths tentacles, have you been playing ninja lately or something?" Vito said, watching Caden head on in the tavern.

The raider signaled for Floki to wait outside, as not scare the other patrons. Following closely behind when walking inside, he ordering himself a drink and took his spot amongst the trio. Vito raised his hand to his face, removing his mask and letting it rest on his lap. It revealed yet another identical mask underneath, only with cuts where the mouth should be. He was just about able to drink his rum through the holes, without making any mess to his joy.

"I was informed by others my mask made it difficult for people to understand me, I hope these holes helps to you two and make it clearer when I speak. And where are my manners? Greetings to you, Ivan." Placing his bottle down on the table, the meeting finally got underway.

On 11/30/2019 at 7:58 PM, supernal said:

"Youse guys finished your laps alright, right? This ain't a party town, they don't hide anything about that. I think we skip past the consumer just like me and V did in Norkotia but here there ain't no underbelly to vampire tap and get our dues. Me, I think we're gonna have to find out what the druids get up to in that temple, and see if there's a space we can fill. What all youse think?"

"And more. I did some looking into the towns crime rates, trade history, etc. Areas tight, if we do something illegal it'll mean everyone will know within minutes. It's like a gossip club, but everyone's religious and on steroids. But, no way to vampire tap means competition should zero. Resistance will be another issues, but nothing we can't handle."

On 12/5/2019 at 4:21 PM, TheElementHunter said:

"I believe you are correct," Ivan moves his cup out of the way as the blonde returns, placing a steaming platter of bacon in front of them. "But politics is going to be the best way. They're not going to let strangers into their dark deeds without an... incentive." He eats a sliver, chewing slowly. "We need dirt on one of them, something that'll bring their empire crumbling down if known by their people. We use that as leverage and how can they say no?"

"Politics, maybe. But there may be an easier way, that'll be religion. Politics around here is fueled by religion and spirituality, which in turn is fueled by the public's beliefs. Those beliefs are manipulated by the priests, monks, temples and whatever else you can imagine. If we target there, we should hopefully be set. What we do won't be 'Illegal', because so says those priests." Vito reached into his cloak and pulled out a leather pouch, an emerald cross marked on it. Opening it it up revealed a green wax like substance, soft to the touch.

"I present to you the newest product, kyuc. Made a big leap in productivity, thanks to my settlement. This stuff is insanely strong, made from a herb found within the moss forests of Taen. Covens use the herbs to 'see things', messed up bitches also use it in warfare. They burns tons of the herb and blow the smoke in direction of enemies, gives the enemies one hell of a trip and leaves them defenseless. Then the coven go in and slit their throats, crazy stuff." Vito paused for a moment as a guard walked close to the table, waiting for him to leave eavesdropping distance. Then pulled out a candle, identical in color to the kyuc and placed it on the table. 

"We modified a recipe of theirs and made candles out of them, which'll put you in a trance like state when lit and give you potent hallucinations. When tested on people unaware of the candles material, people recalled omens. When tested with religious and spiritual folk, they associated the hallucinations with messages from their gods or deities. Thoughts on using this?"  

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When the waitress circled back to deliver Ivan's bacon, Caden seized the opportunity to put a delicate hand on the neutral territory of her lower arm.

"Roast flank of markhor (local goat variant). Mustard seed on the side. I kinda want to try the Pyrolisk too but been told it’s a bit gamey. Just bring me a little taste along with the markhor and I'll let you know if I want some more. I'll take a tank of bitter perry (pear cider)."

He almost laughed out loud when Vito removed one mask to reveal another. It was a rare moment of levity for Caden, who had always lived a sober life and whose perspective was further soured by the fall of his uncle's criminal dynasty, and by the burden of vengeance he carried around with him, which motivated him even now. But this time, Vito won.

Caden returned his attention to Ivan as the other offered up a clear glimpse of the inner workings of his mind. It was another unguarded moment, a crucial one, because if they were going to establish a working team, the foundation upon which all other things were built was trust.

"You're right that we won't get anywhere without something to trade for what we want. I just find myself thinking we're gonna be better off with more carrot than stick on this one. Think of yourself real powerful like, and real steeped in the local culture like, and some nobodies come at you with dirt. Even if the dirt is real good, even if it sticks hard, I think for me, I'd kill myself trying to find a way to turn the tables on them."

Caden paused here to take the temperature of the room, sweeping his eyes across the small estate of the civilized watering hole, searching the tall grasses for predatory movement, and finding none.

"Someone comes to you with a carrot, that's a little different. Carrots are tasty. You might stick around for more, if that Hand has more to give out. You might even go out of your way to get more carrots, you might make sure no one even knows about the carrots so you can keep them all to yourself. Let's try it that way first. The stick can come out if it doesn't work."

Caden leaned back without a further word, suggesting by his body language that he was open to be swayed and that now was the time to do it. The matter remained open even as Vito began explaining their newest product.

Vito was onto something with this kyuc stuff. He, too, waited for the guard to pause before throwing his lot in.

"I want to change the cross to something home grown. Maybe something after one of the animals they got carved up in that fucking mountain. How powerful is this stuff? What I mean is, those omens, those visions, how close are they coming to the real thing? You always got the good shit, so I'm assuming pretty damn close. I can't imagine heavy users can expect to live long, fucking around with omens and portents without the gift or the training for it."

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Ivan takes a few gulps of his milk, washing down the salty oil on his tongue. He was thankful for the good quality chill that slid down his throat, relatively lump free too. It was good shit.

On 12/7/2019 at 4:35 PM, Rabbit said:

Politics, maybe. But there may be an easier way, that'll be religion. Politics around here is fueled by religion and spirituality, which in turn is fueled by the public's beliefs. Those beliefs are manipulated by the priests, monks, temples and whatever else you can imagine. If we target there, we should hopefully be set. What we do won't be 'Illegal', because so says those priests."

A nod.

17 hours ago, supernal said:

"You're right that we won't get anywhere without something to trade for what we want. I just find myself thinking we're gonna be better off with more carrot than stick on this one. Think of yourself real powerful like, and real steeped in the local culture like, and some nobodies come at you with dirt. Even if the dirt is real good, even if it sticks hard, I think for me, I'd kill myself trying to find a way to turn the tables on them."

Ivan takes a few moments as the two begin discussing product, pulling out his spell book. It's a beast of a thing, many years of learning stuffed into its pages. He rubs the leather exterior, feeling the familiar grooves and divots. His hand traces over Dalia's initials and the arcane symbols surrounding them. He'd asked her to put a drop of blood there so he'd be able to track her no matter where she went. A chuckle escapes his lips at the memory, her face contorting into a aghast grimace when he said it. At that point he hadn't been a necromancer, only a student at Terrenus' big academy. She eventually agreed after many assurances and ice cream from Jerio's  

His face goes slack for a moment, his eyes glassy in his skull. He reaches out searching for her soul, straining against some barrier. It wasn't death, couldn't be. He believed in his heart that she was still alive, maybe even in Behods if the gods smiled upon him. He pulls back to the chat at hand, resting his hands on the book in his lap. They weren't ones to get in the shit if could be helped, he could see that, and kind of respect it too. 

"You all are missing the bigger picture," Another slow chew of bacon. "Yes, we can be the little guys that deliver drugs successfully for years to come or," He leans close, lowering his voice significantly. "We can make this whole place a base to an empire, huh?" Ivan knew that such an enterprise may be frowned upon by his partners, they didn't really have the numbers to overthrow a government, never mind a religious one, but he needed this. He needed this not only for revenge, but closure, to know if Dalia was still alive.

Edited by TheElementHunter
different wording

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On 12/10/2019 at 8:54 PM, supernal said:

"I want to change the cross to something home grown. Maybe something after one of the animals they got carved up in that fucking mountain. How powerful is this stuff? What I mean is, those omens, those visions, how close are they coming to the real thing? You always got the good shit, so I'm assuming pretty damn close. I can't imagine heavy users can expect to live long, fucking around with omens and portents without the gift or the training for it."

Vito thought back to the experiments, the various reactions and the days that followed by. "How close? That depends. Many reported their omens coming true, believing in the visions that come to them. How accurate, that's another issue. One saw an omen of her crops dying, it came true. Another one witnessed her sons death, he later died exploring the tunnels. Are these related to the drug? I don't know. But as long as people believe them, they'll find away to justify it."

Vito put away the products, tucking them into his cloak. "Home grown is no issue, now with a settlement that hold arable land. I'll be expanding it soon enough, everything ready and waiting in due time. I've got shipments of this stuff in the ship, settled down not far from here." Vito wouldn't settle down to close to town, not knowing enough about how security would take it. Vito drank a mouthful of rum, listening to the other talk.

On 12/11/2019 at 1:36 PM, TheElementHunter said:

"You all are missing the bigger picture," Another slow chew of bacon. "Yes, we can be the little guys that deliver drugs successfully for years to come or," He leans close, lowering his voice significantly. "We can make this whole place a base to an empire, huh?"

"In due time, I'm sure Caden here will be willing to explain the larger plan when needed. An empire is simply an organisation, it doesn't need a specific place or people. Instead, merely power and a leader. We'll be setting up a true domain soon enough, but this place isn't ideal in my opinion. No, I believe there another area that's in the Heavy Hands sight." 

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As Vito spoke to the veracity of the omens his designer drug induced, Caden chewed the inside of his cheek. When Vito concluded, Caden expressed the concern already painted in bold strokes across the features of his face.

"Sounds to me like I gotta test it. I'll do that tonight, keep a journal, report back what the peak and comedown are like. We can use that as speaking points when we approach the druids, whatever. I'd like it plenty Vito, if you could take the time to cut kyuc shit down with something a little stepped on and make it seem like someone is peddling a watered-down version of it. Our stuff will seem better, cause it is."

The meat dish before him, Caden cut into the markhor with knife and fork like a proper gentleman, feeding himself manageable morsels at appropriate times so that when he spoke he wasn't showering present company with spit and bits of chewed food. The perry drink he left to one side, untouched until his plate is clear, and then half of it downed nearly all at once.

When Ivan, who was the equivalent of a freshly promoted intern, proposed that they focus their attention on tackling the problems that would come with rapid upscale of production and distribution to capture market share in a place already firmly in the hand of a small number of powerful, influential persons, Caden put his knife and fork down.

"Hmmm."

He offered the man across from him this thinking sound to guise the fact that he dismissed the notion out of hand. Not for lack of ambition; that glow of ethereal madness pulsing to life behind Ivan's eyes was one he knew well. Was a madness he had known in others close to him, as well as in himself. He remembered his uncle's aspirations to do the very same and now that man was dead, because when you grew too much too fast, unseen things learn to hide in the shadows.

"What you gotta have in order to take something, and what you gotta have in order to keep it, those are two different things chico. When I tell you we got enough enemies as it is, believe me. Right now what we need are friends and customers. Let's do this thing well and then we can talk about doing more.

"I'm thinking you may want to come along and test the product with me. Whatever omens or whatever you can bring back with you maybe we can then take to the druids, along with the kyuc."

Edited by supernal

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His two compatriots didn't like his proposed course of action, which was fine, now he knew how messy they'd actually get for the enterprise at this point in time. Admittedly he didn't know much about how the two had come to doing such work, not that he cared much, but he knew why he was here and wasn't going to leave without some sort of answer to guide him. He'd say he needed closure, but that wasn't right, Dalia wasn't dead but he couldn't feel her presence anywhere in this plane.

He scoops up the crumbs of bacon, sweeping them along the wooden table into his other hand before putting them into his mouth. Vito spits some wisdom in that time, stuff that Ivan nods to, but barely acknowledges. The guys seen some shit, no doubt about it, whether that shit has anything to do with his reluctance to tear this whole place down and build anew, Ivan can't tell.

18 hours ago, supernal said:

"I'm thinking you may want to come along and test the product with me. Whatever omens or whatever you can bring back with you maybe we can then take to the druids, along with the kyuc."

 "I'd like that, very much." Though he may not look it, the wizard hums with excitement at the prospect of a new study. A nerd at heart he will relish this experience.

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Vito listened to Caden's desire to test the material, feeling somewhat concerned with the decision. "I won't stop you from testing it, tho I disagree with it." Vito took out the products and slid the over the table. "But just be sure to do it in a room with ventilation. No incidents have occurred so far, I'd rather the first not be in unfamiliar territory. Just light the wick, give it two minutes and enjoy the ride."

Vito reached once again into his cloak, pulling out a handful of coin and placing it on the table for the waiter. "I'm going to the guards, see if I can receive permission to dock my ship. I want it nearby, it'll also keep supplies within reach along with my additional troops. If you're in need of anything, head straight there." Vito stood up up and began making his way out. "I'll begin looking into potential customers, I'm sure there's plenty."

Edited by Rabbit

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". . . tho I disagree with it."

Caden tilted his head to one side, brow furrowed in an unmistakable confusion. He respected Vito too much to interrupt, but when the chemist was done Caden shouldered his way into the conversation.

"Okay so, I mean, how the fuck am I supposed to sell something I ain't ever used? When they start asking me what the come up is like, or the peak, or the come down, or any contraindications. Do I just say 'oh trust me sir it'll be fine' and then hand him a crate of candles? You're both smart fellas. Would either of you buy something like that from some guy who has to talk out of his ass?"

Despite the colorful, arguably aggressive word choice on Caden's part, he articulated this without the least hint of malice and every word that left him took some of the confusion with it. By the end of it his face was relaxed, and his pacing never dipped into the hurried tones of someone agitated by what they're talking about.

Caden grabbed the green candle, moved his hand up and down to feel its weight, held it up to his nose and took a sniff. Looked like he was on the verge of tasting it even, when Vito slapped coin down and announced his intentions. Caden nodded, then turned his attention to Ivan.

"Let's go get us a couple of room."

# # #

In Caden's experience, most psychedelics took you for a hell of a ride; they got a hold of your psyche and dragged it kicking and screaming to another plane of perception, left you there for a few hours, and then picked you back up when you were all tuckered out. Kyuc was different in that respect. The peak only lasted 15 minutes, and combined with the come up and come down, was an hour-long journey that you could schedule an afternoon around.  

In terms of intensity of experience however, the kyuc candle was S-class and a contender for the championship belt. It plunged him into an ocean of uncompromising symbols who defied interpretation until he could force himself to view them with eyes stripped of their prejudices, which help the kyuc provided whether he wanted it or not.

# # #

"Them omens ain't real. Not the way no oracle would talk about omens. But that don't mean they're useless. The part of a person that ain't anchored to the prime," Here Caden tapped his head, signifying the mind, touching on the arcane principles of many-worlds and the complex combination of components which made up an incarnate entity, the astral, the ethereal, the shadow, and so on.

"This stuff let's you go deep down inside and see the things you weren't able to see before. It sort of lets you, far as I can tell, talk to the subconscious and get that thing to help you out."

They were back at the tavern but outside of it now, in the alley between it and the tailor's.

He didn't speak to his own visions but he had seen the flesh-stripped skulls in the distant horizon whenever he faced south-east towards Last Chance. He could see the enemy there before his eyes, looming over his city, but smaller than they've ever been; some part of him knew that they were getting weaker even as his own star rose, and that the moment to strike his real enemy would soon be at hand.

"I think the druids would be interested in this stuff, maybe even more so now than the other way around. You get a line on any customers?"

Though he addressed Vito with this question, Caden's eyes lingered on Ivan, curious as to the mage's own experiences, and what he thought of the final analysis.

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Caden placed a stick in his hand as they went to find rooms, nodding as he walked away. Ivan stays in the hallway, watching as his companion goes to a room of his own and shuts the door. Ivan didn't want to take the drug because it would be impossible to take notes. He wanted to study the effects, not trip around in it. He didn't think Caden would take to him snooping on his experience, but he also didn't care.

Ivan went into his room, pulling out his spell book and two glass eyes. Arcane words floated from his lips, the page glowing a dull purple as he spit on the eyes. Fifteen minutes later he was viewing Caden as he sniffed the candle. He couldn't affect anything in the room, only watch as his body wrote in his notebook. After a few moments Caden's eyes began to glow a faint green and he says absolutely nothing . Ivan wasn't interested in the words coming out of his mouth, only the effects on the person as the drug took the mind.

For an hour Ivan wrote, and observed, casting a few spells to verify some suspicions. The drug worked alright, but no divine powers were imbued in the candle.

###

On 12/19/2019 at 7:37 AM, supernal said:

"I think the druids would be interested in this stuff, maybe even more so now than the other way around. You get a line on any customers?"

Though he addressed Vito with this question, Caden's eyes lingered on Ivan, curious as to the mage's own experiences, and what he thought of the final analysis.

"Definitely not divine, more of a personal essence come to live, one's subconscious speaking to them. It would probably work on most people, but if anyone is truly connected with the divine they'd definitely have suspicion." Ivan leans against the wall, taking out an adder's tongue and muttering some words.

Edited by TheElementHunter
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Vtio left the inn, closing the door behind him and getting a breath of fresh air. As he walked away, giving a whistle for his mount to follow, the cheers of the drunks became a distant echo that became replaced with village chatter and mumbled. The raider head outward, looking for the guard station. Thankfully, with a few helpful pointers by the locals, it was no more than a few minutes walk. Once he arrived, the area was what he'd predicted. Heavily armed and a miniature fortress, there was a guard every few footsteps away. 

'Surprised there's any crime at all, army at every house.'

'Crime rates low, now we know why.'

'Pick a fight......I dare you.'

'If things don't go our way, I just might.'

Upon entering, he was presented with a group of higher ranking officers. Each one seemed to want to have their turn at picking on Vito's request of positioning his ship on the town border, almost acting as a game of pass the parcel. After what felt like an eternity, or could've been for all he knew, Vito's request was accepted and given papers as proof. Taking his leave, Vito took mount and made his way back to the ship. 

'You didn't pick a fight!'

'I wanted to, but we're working.'

'Pfff, okay lets start one on the ship.'

Once back, no time was taken in greeting the crew. Straight to the cabin, checks and announcements were made. With one final flick of a switch the all too familiar roar of the engines started. Gaining minor altitude, the Caiman found it way over the hills and positioning itself on the town border. Many citizens came out, watching the ship land near industrial blocks. It wasn't long before the crew began prepping the ores and crystals for unloading, ready to be shipped to whatever customer so desires to buy it. Leaving the superiors in charge, Vito left once again to meet up with his partners in crime.

###

On 12/19/2019 at 3:37 PM, supernal said:

"I think the druids would be interested in this stuff, maybe even more so now than the other way around. You get a line on any customers?"

"Of course. Unloading of ores and luxuries has already begun, they'll be meeting us at the ship rather than us hunting them down. The crowds will gather, letting us pluck whoever we so desire. I've purposely split everything into sections. Ores are being sold a couple meters back and well out of our way, luxuries are being sold at stalls just outside the ship. Things are clearly split by price range, it'll be obvious when you see the layout. We'll know the wealthy from the poor, commoners from royals." Vito took a breath, swigging a mouthful of rum before continuing with the plan. 

"The druids and other religious folk have been informed prior of the these luxuries that are 'beyond rare and hold extreme spiritual significance.', as well as given 'important first access' to ensure their safety and get what they need. Meaning only they will be there. Nothing but royals, priests and other spiritual positions initially." Vito put a few air quotation marks in, exaggerating his sarcastic points.

"You can also roam this market, when you spot someone you deem fit for selling you can head straight to them. From there on do what is needed. You can take them inside the ship 'to see other withheld private luxuries' and sell it to them if you need privacy, or sell it to them on the spot."

On 12/27/2019 at 4:43 PM, TheElementHunter said:

"Definitely not divine, more of a personal essence come to live, one's subconscious speaking to them. It would probably work on most people, but if anyone is truly connected with the divine they'd definitely have suspicion."

"Far from, I personally agree. But then neither is burning people alive or sacrifices, or both together sometimes. The stuff that they can get away, this would be a walk in the park to justify. But, I did take into account the desire to sell to regular folk. Once those given first access have left, the commoners will flood in. That'll be your chance." Vito leaned back in his chair, downing the last of his drink.

"Of course, you can stick to the town if you choose. Things will be quieter as my little market will attract a fair bit attention, making areas easier to approach. But the market will be manned by my guards, other than those upper class that bring a few personal guards, so anything goes down you'll be in safe hands. A lot of the luxuries I'm selling, despite my sarcasm, is very high end stuff. So expect the richer on my side of the town, if those will be your target. Thoughts?" He awaited the responses. 

Edited by Rabbit

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"Yeah, yeah." Caden stroked his chin, nodding along to the picture Vito painted.

The level of segregation Vito baked into their operations was not strictly necessary for the level of engagement Caden had planned . . . but it was welcome. These kyuc candles were brand new to the local market, and he doubted very much it would fit neatly into any of the classifications of drugs which Behods already thought to make illicit; back against the wall, he could argue medicinal benefit, but Vito's various siloes and off-city market all but precluded that scenario.

"I like the sound of that a lot. We'll do it your way Vito. I don't think this is the place for us to concern ourselves with dealing at the street level, hand to hand. If there's enough demand for it after we get the town's inner circle involved, we'll position them as distributors and let them take a larger-than-usual cut for their blessings."

Ivan here aired his opinion on their potential to generate suspicion.

"What are you talking about? That won't matter if we aren't selling them a lie. That's why I wanted to get familiar with the produce. The market here isn't like we want to replace their oh-so divine visions. It's more like we're offering a supplement, an enhancement to that. Correct lenses for their third-eyes if you catch me. This ain't a party, good-time drug. This stuff is heady, for experienced practitioners only. And expensive, because of that. See where I'm going?"  

Caden seamlessly began talking about the weather and its impact on a pickup game of handball as a small group passed their alley on the way into the bar. Then, when they were fully nested in the edifice, he switched back.

"Ivan go on ahead and help get the ship ready to show. I gotta talk to Vito about something. When we get back to the ship, I think things have been going well enough on our side of things that we can spare some time on your side. You had someone you wanted to look into right? We'll talk more about that soon."

Caden led Vito down the other end of the alley, five blocks down to a two-floor hotel, up the stairs to an already rented room. Once inside he sealed the frame with beeswax, lit a match and touched it to a slick trail on the floor, which ignited in heatless flame and lit symbols across the walls, floor and ceiling.

"We got a problem."

# # #

An hour ago, in a room sealed against information leaks and remote divination, wards against conventional forms and tripwires against subtler forms Caden didn't know how to prevent entirely, Caden explained to Vito that he thought they were being watched. A small enchanted mirror charm he kept on his person broke to pieces the night after his trip with the kyuc, and he expressed concern that it was the Dead, finally aware of his movements. That, on top of opening a branch of business here and helping Ivan settle whatever business distracted him from the work, they would have to tread lightly, and potentially bait a stalking predator.

It was for Vito to think about throughout the course of the day however. For now the call was to proceed with business as usual.

"Alright Ivan." Caden approached the man in Vito's ship. "Talk to us about Dalia."

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