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[Quest] Becoming Somebody in Alethea

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"It's packed in here." Sarah said as the mercenaries tried to make their way through the heavily clustered throngs. "Where the hell is everyone going?"

"To the market!" Yelled Cragmar, making certain the ox propelling their cart wasn't going too fast. From atop his perch at the driver's seat of the wagon, the dwarf had a better view of things than anyone else. "That's what ya get when you try to enter the city during the rush. A certain dwarf could have told ya this was a bad idea, but does anyone listen? Of course not!" 

There were all kinds of people making up the sea of visitors and locals alike, many they had never even seen before. Phillip was doing his best, but found it difficult just to get by. "This is insanity, how does anyone get anywhere around here?"

Overhead came the zoom of a vehicle, holding its passengers without a care as it gently breezed through the air via magitech. Docking upon a metal station situated just above the ground, it released its doors, letting out more people and taking in those awaiting it. "Asked and answered." Phillip said, though it might as well have been to himself, with how loud the area was. 

"Let's just focus on getting to the government building so we can try and get a permit to set up shop here!" Phillip yelled, the others nodding in agreement as they trudged their way through the crowds.

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After half an hour of pushing their way through the mass of people, they finally made it to the government building. Inside was a bustling operation of humans and Dragonborn. Going up to the front they were greeted by a bespectacled Dragonborn of blue scales.

"Greetings!" Phillip said. "We have come here to-"


"Excuse me?" 

The Dragonborn gave an exasperated sigh. "What faction do you belong to within this city?" 

"Oh erm, we aren't part of any faction." Phillip said, recovering from the minor stumble. 

"I see." Said the dragonborn, adjusting his glasses before bending down to pick up some papers. "So you are then...?"

"We are the Shields of Valor." He explained. "Mercenary group."

"Just what this city needs, more thugs." The Dragonborn commented.

Phillip grimaced at the insult. "Well I can see this is going to go well."

"In that case you will need a business permit, permit of operating a mercenary service, licenses for all your weapons, complete these forms stating you are not apart of any faction and will abide by the rules of the city, manifest inspection and judging by your accent, immigration forms." When he was done stacking the papers, he had to lean over just to look at Phillip, a wry smile on his lip less face. It was almost as large as Cragmar, and was going to take hours, if not days to complete.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Phillip exclaimed.

"Not at all sir. That's just the price of doing business in Alethea. You may use one of our private work rooms to fill out the paperwork, but I must warn you we close in an hour."

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It would be impossible for them to fill out all of the paperwork at the building, so the group decided to split up, with Lancellar and Cragmar taking the paperwork to an inn to work on while the rest explored the city a little. They figured it would do them well to get the lay of the land, and possibly even get to know some of the locals if possible.

At first things were actually going well for them. They were getting to know some merchants, understanding a little more of the power dynamics in Alethea, and were even getting the word out that the Shields of Valor were setting up shop. Everything was going well until they made their way to a tavern for a drink, and walked in on a situation that was going to put them into a bad position.

At first glance it seemed like a celebration was going on. Several men in armor were drinking, telling stories and mingling with the various courtesans that were available. Most of the men were human, having just returned from battling it out with a rogue group of rat men, and were getting friendly with the gnoll women intent on earning some of the men's reward money. Eric, Phillip and Sarah decided to stay out of their way and get some drinks when they heard the commotion start.

"I'd be careful, Gormley. Them gnoll women can surprise ya." One of the men laughed, having his own courtesan on his lap, who giggled at his joke.

"A holes a hole." The other man, Gormley, replied, grabbing the rear of his courtesan and making her yelp in surprise. "I'll show her what a man can do in bed."

"I wouldn't count on that." Another man said, this one being by himself, with a menacing glare about him. "Ya know what they say about gnoll women. Bed em by night, wake up with a sore arse by morning."

At this time the other gnolls in the tavern were looking at the man with suspicion. The one known as Gormley was looking confused. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Oh don't worry about it dear." The gnoll said, trying to assuage him. "Just let me do my work and-"

"I'm not talking to you, dog!" His voice came to a yell, and now everyone was looking at him.

The man with the glare stood up and walked towards him. "What I'm saying is, that she's more man than lady, ain't that right, bitch?"

The courtesan was visibly frightened by this exchange, and did her best to disengage from the situation. "I don't like either of you anymore, I'm leaving." She tried to get off of him, but ge wouldn't let her go.

"You think I'm some sort of what? A fucking degenerate?" He grabbed at her crotch, causing her to yelp again, but this time in anger and fear, falling to the floor where she winced in pain. Before the others could even intervene, the man known as Gormley picked up a nearby wine bottle, and swung it down violently at the courtesans face. It shattered, and the floor was covered in blood, glass and wine as she went down, unmoving.

And that's when the whole place erupted into a full blown brawl.

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With no other options, the trio dove right into the chaos, fighting with all their might in order to try and get out of there. All around them mercenary and gnoll were locked in combat, tables and chairs shattering as bodies go flying. Yells, yips and grunts can be heard through the tavern. Somehow the barkeep was able to slip out to get the guards, but it would still be sometime before they arrived to restore order.

"Well isn't this just a grand bloody time!" Sarah exclaimed as she brought a gnoll down on her knee, blocking a punch from a random mercenary and throwing him over her shoulder. 

"Yeah, it's one of the great things about city life!" Eric yelled, his brow cut open and bleeding down the side of his face. "Everyone's just so lively!" 

"We need to get out of here before-" Phillip was interrupted abruptly by the sound of the doors being burst open and the Enforcers coming in to break up the bar fight. With a few noses bloodied and nearly everyone restrained in irons, the Shields were tossed in with the other mercenaries, with the gnolls across from them on the other side of the room, glaring daggers at them. 

"All right now, who caused all this?" Said the captain of the squad, stepping aside as healers took the unconscious gnoll courtesan out for medical attention. "I want names, or you're all going into the cells."

There was silence from both sides, each one refusing to say anything for their own reasons. The gnolls for their revenge, and the mercs for their solidarity with one of their own. Eric looked to Phillip, who shook his head no, best to spend the night in a cell then to get in the middle of a dispute. 

"So that's how its going to be, huh?" The captain said, looking over everyone in their beaten and bruised states. "Fine then, I hope you enjoy sleeping off your ales bebind bars." They were taken to respective wagons, and taken into custody of the Enforcers prison. 

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"So, what shall we do now, Commander?" Asked Eric, after he had lowered himself down carefully to the bed, wincing at his bruised ribs. 

After being brought into the prison, the mercenaries were placed in a cell directly opposite the gnolls, causing some intense stare downs from both sides. Eric, Phillip and Sarah were in their own corner, the adrenaline and alcohol fading from their bodies, causing the pain of their injuries to return in full. Having received a few cuts and bruises, they were more or less all right, though things could be better. 

"Cragmar and Lancellar will come to bail us out. After that we'll have to be a bit more careful of where we go for drinks next time." Phillip said, feeling the swelling in his cut eyebrow pulse and throb. 

"Great." Sarah said, leaning against the wall. Her vampiric heritage was already knitting her wounds together, but she was still flustered. "So we get thrown in jail AND that grumpy old dwarf is going to chew us out for getting in a fight.

"Hey." One of the mercenaries, the one who attacked the gnoll, whispered. "Thanks for not ratting us out. Sorry you got tangled in all this."

"Chu apologize to dem but not one wor' fer da girl you attac!" One of the gnolls yelled out. Shouts and insults erupted in the prison, causing Phillip to try and plug his ears with his fingers just to try and get some shut eye in all the noise. 

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