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In memory of Flyin' Black Jackson
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894792 No. 894792 ID: cb777a

It had been a long time since you'd been home.

Longer than you'd care to admit, honestly speaking, but then you'd never made a habit of being honest to those you didn't trust, and away from Greyport, that meant nearly everybody. You'd never intended to come home, happy to let your brother take over the family business when father passed, but the arrival of the letter had changed things. Had you dropping everything you'd made for yourself and begin the year long trek back to the dismal, cloud covered city. But you'd have given up a lot more still to find out what was going on. The death of your entire family had that kind of effect.

Which is why you found yourself standing on the side of the road, eyeing the gate into the city critically. Normally speaking, you'd have just strolled right on through, it was a FREE city after all, but then there had never been actual guards at the gate before either, and not just the normal strong-arms and thugs that usually tried to shake down travelers and newcomers. They seemed to be checking every single person, and turning away those who couldn't pay some sort of toll. You didn't have much to your name, and call it your upbringing or just general disdain for authority, but you were loath to give up what little you had just to enter the city of your birth, and definitely not to someone who seemed to think they owned the free city.

It would seem then, that the time was right to break out some old skills. They were rusty from disuse perhaps, but you were certain you'd have need of them in the days to come, and some light practice never hurt anything. Now just to decide which skills to get you through, or around, the gate.

>Find a conveniently unguarded section of the wall to climb over
>Slip through the gate, using another traveler as a distraction
>Lay on the charm, convince a merchant to help you into the city proper
>>
No. 894796 ID: bddb0f

Oh look, a conveniently unguarded section of wall.
>>
No. 894797 ID: 4f1cbc

Long time no see, Dreamer. Welcome back!

>Find a conveniently unguarded section of the wall to climb over
>>
No. 894800 ID: dbf422

>>894796
And would you look at that, serviceable footholds and cracks just big enough to fit our hands.
>>
No. 894823 ID: 094652

Seduce the boys and get your face recognized as a merchant's associate, so you can walk in the open later.
>>
No. 894889 ID: cb777a

You peel away from the road, taking a meandering path along the city's wall. The guards are too busy with all the merchant activity to even notice you striding away, not that they'd paid you any mind to begin with anyhow. Still, it's a welcome windfall, if only because it makes your life easier.

Even with your skills as rusty as they are, you remember how to pick out cracks and jutting stones for use as foot and hand-holds. It's a matter of minutes to plan out a suitable path up, and after ensuring your few belongings are secure, you begin the climb. The first few moments are uncertain and shaky, muscles protesting against an activity they haven't performed in years. But soon enough, the old rhythm returns, and confidence with it. By the time you've reached the top and pulled yourself onto stable ground, you'd found yourself speeding up the wall like you'd used to. Perhaps you were less rusty than you'd thought.

+1 to Body

You take a moment, crouched on the top of the wall, to look out over Greyport, taking in the city properly and breathing in the salt breeze that washes across the whole city. There, the harbor, filled with merchants ships bringing cargo from across the world, daring the Storm Sea to make port at one of the richest cities in the world. Off in the distance, beyond the harbor, the storms that seemingly never cease, bolts of lightning splitting the sky. Emerging seamlessly from the harbor is the trade district, making up most of the city, where a man or woman could find anything in the world, or find someone who could get it for them.

It's amazing how even after a decade away, nowhere else has ever earned the title home.

Still, as much as you'd relish the opportunity to bask in the dubious glow of Greyport, there's too much to do, and precious little time to attend to it. The letter was sent to you by Markus, the owner of the Copper Dragon down in the slums, and the unofficial drinking hole for the Thieves Guild. While you first instinct is to get some answers from him, there are other concerns. Well, on in particular, if you were being entirely truthful with yourself. Mother, for one, will likely want to know your home, and it would be best to find out from you directly, rather than have someone inform her afterwards. She was never a hard one to find either, being the madam of the Gilded Rose.

>Head for the Copper Dragon. Mother has waited ten years, a few hours more won't change anything.
>Go see Mother. It's been too long as it is, and with everything that's happened, a family visit is much needed.
>>
No. 894898 ID: 4f1cbc

>>894889
Stop by the whorehouse to say hi to mom, then.
>>
No. 894902 ID: 094652

>The death of your entire family
>Mother
Wait what
So do you mean the death of your father's side of the family or...?

>What do
Head for the Copper Dragon. The city is obviously under new management, and your old bartender can help you learn the new rules before you get yourself arrested for flashing underboobs in public or some other nonsense.
>>
No. 894920 ID: dbf422

To the Gilded Rose. You definitely need some questions answered but if your mom doesn't already know about the situation the letter describes she might not have taken precautions. Better to make sure she's safe first.

>>894902
Could be that the letter mentioned the potential death of his family, that they're in danger but it hasn't happened yet.
>>
No. 895033 ID: cb777a

You decide family comes first, and even if Mother isn't a blood relation, she certainly did more to care for you than any of your actual family. Though you suppose you shouldn't fault a dead woman for being incapable of caring for you.

The descent from the tower wall goes much faster than the ascent, and it's a good opportunity to get some more practice in. As you reach the street below, you get some odd looks from some of the merchants, but overall they're more interested in hawking their wares than bothering with strange men climbing on the walls. From that point, its a simple matter to weave your way through the crowds. It takes a few moments to familiarize yourself with the various streets, but old landmarks make themselves known, and soon enough you're headed unerringly towards your destination. It isn't long before the Trade District is melting away, and the Castle District, with its upscale houses and rich residents, begin to dominate the streets you travel. Here you certainly get far more odd looks, traveling attire hardly being fitting for these streets.

More concerning to you, however, is the unusual number of uniformed and armored guards. Being closer you can get a good look at them now, and you notice all seem to be wearing a strip of grey cloth on their arms, emblazoned with a symbol you'd grown up being taught was the one symbol that Greyport wanted nothing to do with. You can only hope you were reading more into this than you should.

All thoughts of symbolic implications were dashed once you turned a corner and caught sight of the Gilded Rose. The building matched many in the district, with artful designs and beautiful craftsmanship throughout its construction. Most eye catching, of course, was the golden rose emblazoned above the entryway, from whence the establishment took its name. Even now, in the middle of the day, it saw plenty of clientele, men and women alike coming and going in ones and twos. You enter yourself, with only a slight bit of hesitation, and the nostalgic smell of herb smoke and alcohol fills your nose as the sound of whispers and quiet laughter fills your ears. Almost instantly, a woman brushes up against your side, an easy smile on her face. She's wrapped in a tasteful dress, enough to show her figure without seeming overly suggestive. When she speaks, her voice is like soft velvet, promising pleasure and comfort in equal measure. That your dressed in clothes that could best be called shabby doesn't even have her batting an eye.

"A pleasure to have your patronage, sir. How may the Rose be of service? A girl perhaps, to ease your tired body? Or mayhaps you'd prefer a man?"

"Neither, as it so happens. I need to speak to the Madam." She draws back instantly, eyes suspicious. You know from experience that a few men, hired muscle, were suddenly watching you now, even if you couldn't see them in the low lit, smoky room. "I'm not here to cause trouble. I'm an old friend. If you like, I'll wait here, and you can go tell her that her little rat has come home."

The girl slips away, disappearing from your sight quickly. You settle into wait, but the sound of hurried footsteps reaches you minutes later and you straighten once more, turning to meet the eye of the woman you call Mother. She's older than you recall, more grey in her hair, and the lines in her face deeper. But the same sharp intellect sparks in her eyes, even if they are wide with surprise and hope. She stops a few steps away, eyeing you critically, examining you and cataloging everything about you she can. It's a long minute before she speaks, and even if everything else has changed, her voice, confident and unhurried, is still the same.

"Well, it certainly has been a long time. Left without even a word, and yet here you are once more. Remind me again, which one of you was it that learned most from me, you or your brother?"

>My brother had favored her teaching, whilst I had preferred the locksmiths art. (+1 to Finesse)
>I'd been the one under her wing, learning to use words and guile to influence others. (+1 to Cunning)
>>
No. 895056 ID: dbf422

I know we looked alike, but if you'd had me as your apprentice you'd be far less happy to see me right now. It was my brother who'd trained with you.
>>
No. 895067 ID: ee97ee

"You tried to teach me. I had trouble talking to people, but I found a way to let them talk to themselves for me."
>>
No. 895074 ID: 4f1cbc

>You decide family comes first, and even if Mother isn't a blood relation, she certainly did more to care for you than any of your actual family
There's the family you're born with, and the family you choose, and the later is no less important for it.

>>I'd been the one under her wing, learning to use words and guile to influence others. (+1 to Cunning)
>>
No. 895219 ID: bddb0f

You always had a deft hand, and if your silver-tongued brother could take the attention while you plied your trade, so much the better.
>>
No. 895516 ID: cb777a

>>895067
I've read this and interpreted it as being a vote for Finesse. If this was not intended, I apologize profusely, but am continuing forth anyway.

You'd never been as good with people as your brother. You handled yourself well enough, all told, but your brother had a gift for the art of manipulation. He could play people like a fiddle, and have them agreeing to things before they'd even realized they were doing it. Your own talents had gone in more traditional directions, and you'd found fiddling with locks and learning to walk silently far more entertaining than feigned interest and honeyed words. Besides, the contents of a hidden safe often told you just as much, if not more, than anything the man himself might have to say.

+1 to Finesse

"I'm afraid that was my brother, Mother. If I was your student, you wouldn't be nearly as thrilled to see me, I'd imagine."

"And they said you paid no attention to my lesson at all. Come along, this isn't the best place to talk."

You follow Mother into the backrooms of the Rose, where the girls actually lived, rather than just worked, and eventually into her private rooms. It matches your memories almost perfectly, though a few pieces of furniture feel more weathered than they once were. You're caught off guard as arms wrap around you from behind, though you certainly relish the warmth and security it invokes in you.

"It is good to see you again, truly. Even after ten years, you are still one of my little rats." Mother withdraws from you and makes her way over to chair, seating herself heavily. She knows why you're here, even if it's clear she would rather she didn't. "You've heard, I assume?"

"Yes, Markus sent me a letter." Mother snorts at that, but it's no secret she never got along with Markus. Both were above letting it get in the way of work. "But he's not family, and I wanted to hear it from someone close."

"Understandable. Your father fell to sickness, nothing sinister there. Your brother though... he wasn't so lucky. Things seemed well in hand for him to take over, but within a few weeks, he'd gone missing. They found his body floating in the harbor, a dagger in his back. I... I wept, when I heard the news. One of my little rats, killed in cold blood."

The news isn't unexpected, the letter had told you the basics at least, but hearing it out loud was another thing entirely. Confirmation of your brother's murder only made the desire for the truth only grow stronger. Mother is waiting now, watching you with concerned eyes. You push passed the grief, now more of a heavy weight in your chest than a sharp knife, and ask the question that needs asking.

"Who did it?"

"No one knows. All I know is that something happened within the Guild, and it fell apart. Now, there are gangs of thieves fighting over the slums, instead of doing what the Guild was meant to and protecting this city from the influence of outsiders. I suspect that's part of the reason Markus sent his letter, though you'd have to ask him to be sure."

"Part of the reason?"

"You're the last one, little rat. Son of the last Master of the Thieve's Guild. If anyone can restore it to what it's meant to be, then it has to be you."

You are silent at this, rolling that revelation around in your head. You'd had your suspicions of course, you'd been trained too well in your youth to be anything but wary of Markus' intentions, but you couldn't fault the logic. Besides, without the Guild, Greyport, City of the Free, was under threat from more than just rogue thieves or haggling merchants.

"If you've any questions of me, I'll do my best to answer them." Mother's eyes have lost a bit of that shadow of concern, to be replaced with confidence and care. She'd help as best she could, all that's left is to ask the questions that need asking.

>Input Command
>>
No. 895523 ID: dbf422

True. The city's politics seem to already be falling apart without the Guild operating. But that's currently secondary while we don't even know who's murdered your brother to ruin it.

"Is there anything unique about the knife that was used? And have the dock workers nothing to say? Did anyone see anything? And then there's what my brother was doing before he disappeared..."
>>
No. 895537 ID: 094652

"We need to retake assets before they're discovered by the Militia and used against us. Are there any leads on key areas that could be used to hold entire districts?"
>>
No. 895569 ID: bddb0f

Let's first lay down some groundwork. Get the basic information first. It's been too long since you've been here, so she needs to fill you in on even the simple stuff. What's the situation in town, past and present? What's the current opposition like? What are the remaining assets of the Guild that she knows of? Have people gone into hiding or been killed? How safe is the Gilded Rose and the Copper Dragon from suppression, blackmail and/or harassment? What was your brother doing, publically and privately, when he was murdered?
>>
No. 895630 ID: 4f1cbc

>"If you've any questions of me, I'll do my best to answer them."
Her position means she should have a finger on the political pulse of things.

An obvious place to start is those who might have benefited from your bother's death: leaders of rival factions in the divided guild, the opponents of the guild grown strong (such as those soldiers wearing the once unthinkable emblem). How are the players on the field, and how do they currently fare?

You'll need to understand that, if you hope to avenge your brother, or repair what was broken.
>>
No. 895670 ID: cb777a

"Is there anyone who benefited from my brother's death? Rivals within the Guild, maybe? Those soldiers wandering about the city like they own the place?"

"No one specifically. If anyone within the Guild would benefit, you'd have to ask Markus. That was Guild business, after all. And these soldiers weren't about when your brother died. They are a more recent addition to Greyport, only arrived here a year and a half ago, claiming they have a descendant of the Mad Tyrant. They've taken up residence in the old Castle. Have even fixed it up somewhat, from what I've heard."

"Is there anything you know about the death itself? Anything unique about the knife? Did the dock workers say anything? Was my brother doing anything in particular?"

"I'm afraid I don't know. The Guild took possession of his remains as soon as he was found. A not entirely unexpected response. If anyone would know more about the murder itself, it would be a Guild member. I haven't heard anything from the dock workers, but I've only one place in the harbor district, and it's been awhile. I'll send word, have my girls looks into things. I can't promise much.

"As for your brother's activities... he visited here a few times, before he died. I don't recall him ever mentioning anything specific. But it's been years since then. I'm sorry I can't help more."

"It's fine, Mother. It has been a long time. I wasn't expecting an answer to all my problems."

You sigh, wishing you had more, but that would have to suffice. At the very least, it told you that any information regarding your brother's death would have to be found within the Guild, or at least it's former members. Markus would be a good first step, and from there you could track down anyone else who might know more. Still, Mother had mentioned the Mad Tyrant, and anyone who'd grown up in Greyport knew who that was. The last lord of Greyport, Maximilian Blackwater, deposed 100 years ago when, after brutally massacring thousands, the Thieves Guild slipped into the castle and performed the only act of sanctioned murder in their recorded history. Since then, Greyport had been free of any authority, independent of any nations or kings. The Guild had taken up task of keeping the free city relatively safe, and had done so mainly through blackmail, theft and the occasional revealing of criminals to more violence inclined groups. That the Mad Tyrants symbol was once again walking the streets of Greyport could be considered a very bad sign. If, and that's a strong if, you decide to take up the vacant seat of the Guildmaster, you'd best learn what you can of the state of the city as a whole.

"These men, claiming they've got this descendant. What do you know?"

"Word among the rich is that they're lead by a Lord Dragonheart. A war hero or some such from Refenzia, thinking because the Guild is gone he can reclaim a lost city for the kingdom. They've managed to gain some support here in the castle district, though not as much as they would like. The rest of the city ranges from hostile to indifferent. I've heard from some of the clientele here that there is a woman, up at the castle, though the validity of her claim to lordship is still in question."

So they were only really strong in one district for the moment. Good news, and certainly excellent to here that most people still desired their own freedom over the ownership of some foreign kingdom. The free city remained free. For now.

"And the rest of the city? Any other factions trying their hand at ruling Greyport?"

"Rumors in the harbor district talk of more sailors coming in. Unsavory sorts. Pirate sorts. There's talk from merchants coming into town too, of some activity in the Theocracy of Zatlia. They've never been the most rational nation, and it can't be good if they're getting agitated. Then, of course, there's the various gangs of rogues and thieves in the slums. Warring with each other over who gets to claim control and proclaim themselves the Thieve's Guild. Lady knows who else might come for the Free City."

The Lady. Mistress of Night, Lover of Thieves, Mother of Beggars, Daughter of Whores. A spirit, a demi-god, a watcher in the dark. To a thief, the Lady's favor is as good as gold, and just like any of the other spirits that walk this world. You gave her what she was due when you'd lived in the city, as every thief, beggar and whore did. You'd made you're decision regarding her when you'd left the city, as you'd done with so many other things.

>You followed the way of thieves, and the Lady remained your patron.
>You left her behind, just as you'd left the city.

>Input Command
>>
No. 895685 ID: 4f1cbc

>You followed the way of thieves, and the Lady remained your patron.
>>
No. 895692 ID: 094652

>You left her behind, just as you'd left the city.
Thiefborns learn early on that a scrap of freedom is worth the capacity to use it. In foolish hands the freedom of riches is but wasted slag ready to be gathered and processed by wiser men, and the freedom to poke a sliver of pig iron can be worth an entire kingdom, if you have the opportunity to put that sliver right where it belongs.

The lady is to be respected, perhaps worshiped by all the world - but you will not follow 'her' rules on principle. Rules whose sole purpose is to control those that follow them are worse than rules followed for the sake of incompetent convenience - if they ever were her rules.

What wretch of a thief would claim that they must 'bless' every scrap they steal as property of a goddess of thieves? That it somehow means the property is now theirs by right of thievery?! The sheer level of hypocrisy, to claim that the embodiment of take is the master of keep, is non-canon in your eyes now and forever.

You believe that all that is stolen can be taken. That includes the lives of ALL living mortals; scraps of life force stolen from their mothers, patterns to weave life stolen from their fathers, back all the way to the children of the original mortals the gods gave life to freely.

It is what it is. You can follow the rules, but that doesn't mean you have to believe in them.
>>
No. 895706 ID: dbf422

The Lady was left behind. Our connection to her was through this city. We don't do things half way.

But we're back now. Maybe things will change again. Not currently, at least.
>>
No. 895730 ID: bddb0f

The Lady always seemed to have your back, so you were always generous with offerings in return and never forgot. A god in your pocket is worth ten in the pantheon, after all.

For now you should go check in on the Thieves' Guild with Markus. It seems as if things have fallen to chaos and whether or not you accept the role as guildmaster, having the son and brother of their old masters around will probably be a welcome morale boost for those wanting a return to better days.
>>
No. 895767 ID: cb777a

The Lady had never abandoned you, not while you were once a thief. But you had left the city, the Lady's city, and everything within it, on that day ten years ago. That had included the Lady, because you never did things half-way. But you knew the consequences of returning, knew that the Lady cared little for open worship or offering of material wealth. To her, the very act of burglary was an offering, the thrill of an opened lock a true prayer. You'd come home, and if you meant to take up your old skills again, then earning the Lady's interest might soon follow, whether you liked it or not. For now, you'd avoid saying her name aloud, or asking her for any of her often fickle attention.

"We'd best hope things don't get any worse before they can get better. I'd best be going Mother. I need to see Markus, find out what's happened to the Guild."

"I understand. You watch yourself out there, I doubt your arrival has gone unnoticed. If my girls working the harbors learn anything, I'll send word to you."

"Thank you, Mother. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"Fall over yourself in confusion, more than likely." Mother gives you a proper hug this time, which you happily return, before she draws back to meet your eyes with her own. You can see it in her eyes, perhaps only noticing it's absence before now that it flickers there. Hope. You've brought hope to her face, where once it hadn't been. You only pray that hope wasn't misplaced. "Take care of yourself, my little rat. You are all the family I have left, blood or not. I don't think I could bear it if I lost you too."

"Whoever means me harm would have to catch me first, Mother."

"Lady cloak you in shadow, little rat."

You depart with her blessing at your back, still slightly uncomfortable hearing the Lady called on to watch over you once more. Soon, you are back on the streets, traveling quickly in the most direct route you can towards your next destination. The clean streets and rich garments of the castle district give way to the crowded, noisy streets of the trade district. Even that soon bleeds away however, as you make your way into the ramshackle facade of the slums. While it's exterior might seem rundown, it is here that the Thieve's Guild once made it's home, where you were born and raised. These were once truly the safest streets in all the city, but now, it would seem that has changed for the worse. Something else you'll have to make whoever murdered your brother answer for.

"Well well, looky here boys."

You have only been within the slums a few minutes when you find yourself cut off by a few muscle-bound men. Common thugs, by the sight and smell of them. There was a time men like these were on the Guild payroll, acting as enforcers of the peace, keeping the true murderers and rapists out of the city. You can't tell if this particular group used to work for the Guild, or if they were simply taking advantage of the Guild's descent into chaos. Either way they spelled trouble and, perhaps worse, an unnecessary delay.

"Ain't no harm gonna come to ya, little man, so long as you pay your way. It's a toll, see? Surely you don't need your things that badly, eh?"

A quick glance around reveals five in total. Two to the front, two behind. One down an alleyway. They're trying to cut off your escape routes, it seems, but they've done a piss poor job. Then again, you don't think they expected a thief, even a rusty one. They've got you pinned against a building, but the slums were practically designed as a thief's playground. Scaling up it and escaping them should be an easy task, though its a gamble if you could manage it fast enough without one of them grabbing you. The alleyway is also a likely choice, the one man could stop a simple traveler, but you're confident you could slip past him. The alleyway is fairly narrow, so he might get lucky and catch you, which would trap you in an alley instead of a fairly open street. There's also the option of talking your way out of this, they don't seem too bright, but there's also they might not care to have you talking instead of handing over the goods.

>Input Command
>>
No. 895768 ID: bddb0f

Thugs after a quick payday tend not to go to troublesome lengths. Climbing rickety houses only to fall and break your neck tends to be rather troublesome.
>>
No. 895795 ID: dbf422

Escape up the building. But before you disappear on them, let them know that the Guild might be hiring again soon. Though it's hardly the best resume I've seen, it could cause them to stumble. Or laugh.
>>
No. 895891 ID: cb777a

+1 to Body

It's barely a second after the man finishes speaking that you complete your rapid assessment of the situation, and come up with a decent enough plan.

"You know, if you lot need some steady work, word is the Guild might start hiring again soon."

The whole group reals back in surprise, clearly not expecting someone to bring up the Guild. You take the opportunity for what it is, and a second later you've turned towards the building. One of them, you presume the leader, shouts for someone to grab you, but by then it's too late. Practiced motions come quickly, and you've scrambled up the side of the building with remarkable speed, if you do say so yourself. Certainly you've left the thugs stranded on the street below, none of them willing to risk a broken neck to give chase. A few hurl insults at you as you pull yourself onto the roof of the building, but you ignore them in favor of something far more surprising.

There's a girl, she can't be more than fifteen or sixteen, leaning out a nearby window watching you. She dressed in the tattered dress of a slums whore, black hair kept in a ragged braid. Freckles adorn her face, but you hardly notice those as you meet her eyes. Steel grey, filled with a sharp cunning, stare back at you, and you can't help but feel like she's looking at more than just a thief on a rooftop. A smirk appears on her face, clearly something has amused her, before a voice drifts from the room behind her.

"Hey, girl. What are you looking at?"

"Oh, just a rat, returning to it's nest, likely as not. It had best be on its way, before the storms come in from the sea, and take the harbor with it."

"Wha- Who cares about some rat? Get over here, I haven't paid for talk of rats."

The girl turns back towards the interior of the room, already reaching for the hem of her dress, off to ply her trade. You decide you'd best get moving, and since your already on the rooftops, you'd make use of them and avoid any more unpleasant surprises down on the streets. As you begin to clamber away, the girl's voice chases after you, mischief so blatant in her tone it almost stings, and you can't shake the odd feeling that grows in your gut.

"Shadows hide you, rat."

It's a short trip across the rooftops to the Copper Dragon, and its familiar features, worn a little with time, push whatever unease you feel from your thoughts. You quickly drop to the streets, with barely the batting of an eye from those small numbers that move about the streets. You take a moment to appreciate the tavern's signpost, the wooden thing hanging above the door painted with a copper colored dragon wound about a copper coin, before you enter. The interior hasn't changed much from your memories, a few of the table look like they've been replaced more recently than others. A few are occupied, though you expect it will fill once night falls. The atmosphere is cozy and warm, a welcome respite from the harshness of the world outside, or so your father used to say. And there, behind the counter, is a man that had seen more than his fair share of trouble, and from all the stories, had made the Dragon what it was. The moment you step through, his eyes light up and a grim smile appears on his face.

"By the Lady, tis good to see you, lad. Been far too long since you walked through my door."

Markus Blackfinger, the only dwarf you'd ever had the fortune, or misfortune, to lay eyes on. Like so many other races, they had retreated from the world before the ever growing tide of humanity. You remember Markus telling you once that the elves had classified humans as vermin due to how quickly humanity spread. If you didn't know better, you'd have sworn that Markus was just a short human, but by all accounts he'd been here since before the Mad Tyrant, had even helped craft the Guild into what it was. Regardless, he is a close friend, and one you hope can help you now. He seems to notice your intent, and gestures you forwards, leaning over the bar and dropping his voice low.

"Much as I'd like to pour a pint and hear tell of your adventures abroad, I imagine you've got more pressing business. Let's hear your questions then. I wouldn't worry about this drunken lot, they know to keep their mouths shut."

>Input Command
>>
No. 895953 ID: dbf422

>>895891
Children, huh. Not a great sign of the times. Though this one seemed strange. She knew a whole lot more than I'd expect.

"I need to know about His body and what He was up to before he died. Anything you have: was the knife special, was where he was found interesting, do you know where he was killed, if he was sticking his nose into anyone specific's business and who really gains the most from his death."
>>
No. 895954 ID: dbf422

>>895953
Oh, and add, "Ah, but it is good to see you as well. Sorry, but it's felt like all business from the second I snuck into the city."
>>
No. 896043 ID: 4f1cbc

>Oh, just a rat, returning to it's nest
Well, she sure has the measure of you.

>>895953
Seems to cover what we need to know.
>>
No. 896065 ID: cb777a

"I need to know about His body and what He was up to before he died. Anything you have: was the knife special, was where he was found interesting, do you know where he was killed, if he was sticking his nose into anyone specific's business and who really gains the most from his death. Ah, but it is good to see you as well. Sorry, but it's felt like all business from the second I snuck into the city."

You allow a brief smile, but are soon back to business. There's too much you need to know before you can make any decisions about what to do. Preparation and planning, some of a thief's best friends. You wouldn't shirk either one. Markus settles back a little, likely dredging up old memories and information, before he begins to speak.

"Most of what your brother was doing was preparation for taking control of the Guild. Nothing unusual in that, though I think I recall him mentioning finding some new prospects to look into. I'd asked him if he needed some of the boys to handle it, but he was adamant that he had to do it himself. Proving himself or some such. A wasted effort if you ask me, the Guild would have followed him regardless, we thieves have no use for bluster. I know that night he'd headed out to do some thievery, maybe stop in on these supposed prospects of his.

"We found him in the harbor, knife still buried in his back. Just floating there. We snatched him up right quick, had to look into this ourselves, didn't we? Boy was beat up bad, hard to make out much with all that'd been done to him. Would've been more blood, if they hadn't dumped him in the harbor. Only way we even figured it was him was that tattoo on his neck, you remember the one."

You do remember the one, you were there when he'd gotten it. Your mother- birth mother- had died giving birth to you. Your brother was still too young to really understand what had happened, but he'd felt it only fitting to get her name pressed into his skin forever. Said it was like she was watching over his shoulder, keeping an eye on him. You never put much stock in it, but more than ever you hoped she'd been with him when he died, so he didn't have to die alone.

"The knife was odd, covered in odd little runes. Can't say I know what they were, certainly wasn't any dwarfish tongue. Too curvy and bendy. Might be elvish, but I couldn't say for sure. The investigation only lasted a week though. Bunch of the old-timers were willing to put off finding a new guildmaster till we dealt with the threat, but some of the newcomers and the overly ambitious, they weren't so willing. Things might've gotten bloody, but there's no fighting in the Dragon. Guild fell apart though. Most of the old-timers skipped town, whilst the rest of the Guild fell into smaller gangs. Now their all fighting out there on the streets, over a title they don't deserve. Only place that's sacred is the Dragon, and that's only cause a few of the old-timers that stayed are still keeping an eye on the place, won't let anybody start something here.


"Leaves a lot of names that were looking to gain after his death. If you want my suspicion though, it's whoever these prospects of his were. Your brother was real tight-lipped about the whole thing, wasn't saying much about em. They'd be who I'd look into first."

The information is helpful, but horribly flimsy, even for back then. Trails would most certainly be cold, and even if they weren't, time didn't do memory any favors. If you were to start digging, you'd have to hope someone remembered something, or perhaps even better, that whoever did this was stupid enough to leave a trace of themselves in the city for you to find. You still weren't sure what exactly it was you were looking to do, revenge? Understanding? Closure? You didn't know, but until you did, you'd work at finding whoever did this.

"Boy, I know it's a lot to ask of you-"

"Markus-"

"Now hear me out. I know you left, even if I don't rightly know why. I won't question it either, you were grown then and you're grown now. But the Greyport needs the Guild. It's needs it's thieves. Without them, it's only a matter of time till someone comes along strong enough to chain the city again. Hells below, lad, no one has seen hide nor hair oh the Lady in years! The old-timers won't follow anyone else. Yer our last chance, lad. The only chance we got."

You know he's getting worked up, his accent is sneaking back in. Not much of one, he's been away from other dwarves too long, but you'd heard it before, knew what to listen for. You close your eyes in thought. Too much information, too much hope and expectation. Still, someone needed to bring the Guild back together, you had no illusions about that. It was almost painful, watching guards roam its streets and rape its citizens of their livelihood. Maybe that someone needed to be you.

>Input Command
>>
No. 896080 ID: dbf422

"Do you know where the knife is? And anyone who was directly in contact with my brother's body. Thanks for the information otherwise. I'll think on what you said."

Of course revenge is a powerful motivator but it needs to be tempered by understanding. One can't lose sight of the fact that our brother's death was just a part of something bigger, accidentally or not.
>>
No. 896122 ID: 4f1cbc

>>896065
You're here to avenge your brother's death... but the guild is part of that. If you allow the guild to crumble in his absence, whoever killed him will have succeeded, and you would deny them that.
>>
No. 896166 ID: cb777a

"Do you know where the knife is? And anyone who was directly in contact with my brother's body. Thanks for the information otherwise. I'll think on what you said."

"Most of them were the old-timers. Your fathers generation, really, and most of those lot left the city when the Guild went belly up. There are a few around, and I can see about getting in contact with them, if you like. As for the knife, I got it stored away somewhere safe. Not here, didn't want to risk whoever did it come here looking for their evidence, but somewhere safe."

"Can I see it?"

"Depends, you gonna take over the Guild?"

"Markus!"

"It's Guild business. I gave you this much, seeing as it is family, but even with the Guild dead, I'm still one of its members. Maybe its last member. That knife is Guild business, and I can't risk you making off with it."

Bastard was holding out on you, specifically to make you promise to restart the Guild. Can't say it's not within his rights, he isn't wrong about how insular the Guild was, and if he's gonna stick to tradition, there isn't much you can do about it. Should've expected it, coming from a thief. Still, you're loath to make a decision immediately.

"Like I said, I'll think on it... you got a spare room I can bunk in at least?"

"Upstairs, second on the right. I hope you understand I don't do this because I want to force your hand."

"I get it Markus. Just doing what you have to do."

You make your way up the stairs and onto the second floor, quickly finding the room. It's mostly bare, a small window offering a gorgeous view of the neighboring wall. A decent enough bed sits in a corner, and a small desk with an unlit candle on it sits opposite that. You stride over to the desk with a sigh, finally setting down your travel bag, and turn only to freeze in place for the second time that night.

The bed, previously unoccupied, now had a woman in it, raven hair trailing down her sides, naked as the day she was born. She's lithe and graceful, even just laying there, one leg extended out towards you and the other curled against her chest. Her beauty isn't one of simple form, though she is certainly easy on the eyes, but in the air about her, comforting, warm... dangerous. Storm grey eyes watch you with interest, and not an inconsiderable amount of amusement, as you stare slack jawed, unsure of what to do.

"I missed you." Her words drip like honey into you ears, though there isn't a hint of seduction or lust present. Oddly, you notice that you aren't feeling anything lust, despite her naked form. The woman suddenly laughs, the sound like tinkling bells, before she reaches under her and draws the sheets over herself, concealing her nakedness. "Better? Or perhaps you'd prefer we make love? I'm not adverse to it, you know."

You finally regain control of yourself, and take a deep breath to center your thoughts, and buy you just a second to figure out exactly what you're going to do about this situation, whatever it is.

>Input Command
>>
No. 896192 ID: dbf422

I was going to make plans for finding the knife on our own but that's clearly not the priority anymore. Is this the Lady? It's not like she just shows up, right? But whoever this is is physical, apparently, and not some invisible guiding hand or however the Lady usually manifests. It seems we don't recognize her appearance at least.

Let's just double check if we knew her, then if we don't say,

"Sorry, I'm not really in the mood for that. Well, you seem to have me at a disadvantage. I could guess, but would you tell me who you are?"
>>
No. 896273 ID: cb777a

There is now a discussion thread, found here: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/124667.html

You may direct questions there, as needed, on any subject you so desire. I will do my best to answer questions and fill in blanks.

Now back to our regularly scheduled block of words.

-----

You take a moment to eye the woman more critically, trying to dredge a name up from your memories to place to with the face. You fail utterly, you have no recollection of anyone even vaguely matching her appearance. Still, there is something distantly familiar about her, the air that seems to hang thick in the air. Just nothing you can place a name to. As you take the time to examine her, you notice her eyes watching you, filled with an compassion and over-flowing with patience. She seem completely content to let you take all the time you need.

"Sorry, I'm not really in the mood for that. Well, you seem to have me at a disadvantage. I could guess, but would you tell me who you are?"

She laughs again, free and joyful, before settling back down, amusement clear. One finger plays with a bit of her hair absentmindedly as she thinks a moment, clearly trying to form her next words carefully.

"I am... well, I suppose it would be best to say that I am a shoulder to cry on. I warm the beds of those who need it, and to others I am someone to confide in. And others still I simply watch, content to take joy in their victories and join their frustration at the sting of failure. I love the thieves of Greyport. It is not always so clear if they love me in return.

"And you, once someone I loved, one who forsook my love, has come once more to the city of the free. I cannot say I was not surprised to see you again, but now, here you are. I admit... I am uncertain what to do."

You can only go back to starring at her in disbelief. She was... She couldn't be... but that was the only explanation, wasn't it? You'd heard stories of course, who hadn't? Most chalked it up to empty boasting, or the tall tales of those seeking more attention than they deserved. A few were given actual credence, but those where practically myth, legends even. For her to be...

"I am not Her."

The sudden interjection jolts you from your thoughts, and her eyes now hold a certain melancholy to them. A wistfulness that seems out of place mixed with all the compassion. She continues before you can say anything in response.

"She is me, but I am not her. It is... complicated. I am myself, and She is me, but I am not Her. You would... not understand the specifics. I am here because She chose to be me, and I chose to be here."

That... doesn't help your confusion at all, but you suppose that means you should treat her as... something. You're still not sure. Your thoughts are still cluttered and confused, and not entirely sure how to deal with this. There must be something though. She said she was a confidant... maybe she knows something that could be of use? Or maybe she can help in some other way?

>Input Command
>>
No. 896274 ID: 094652

"Let's get down to brass tacks. What EXACTLY is wrong with this city, and how can we fix it?"
>>
No. 896284 ID: dbf422

An avatar then? Or a vessel? Not a prophet, in the traditional sense. But something in that vein I'm sure.

"Are you then... I think I have the feeling down but not the words. But you're bonded with Her in a way more complex than sharing your body with her, I understand that much. More than an emissary. A-ah, and I hope if I've misunderstood, you'll forgive me, this isn't, I've never imagined anything like this."

Is she alright? Talking about things you don't understand fully is tricky. If she is, we need to ask Her favor.

"...Thank you for all the years you followed me, and for actually talking to me now. I don't know about the future, but there are things that could be done in the present. I aim to punish those that would hurt your thieves, and I don't know how yet but, to set those thieves on the right path again.

"You were surprised to see me, so I'll explain that the reason I'm doing this is because of my brother. It's been over a year since he passed, but that's how far I was from here when I learned of that. I abandoned you and your city, and my motivations are lacking, but I hope my goals and actions are ones you'd support anyway."

Christ, feel free to cut that up however you like if you use it.
>>
No. 896366 ID: cb777a

"Are you then... I think I have the feeling down but not the words. But you're bonded with Her in a way more complex than sharing your body with her, I understand that much. More than an emissary. A-ah, and I hope if I've misunderstood, you'll forgive me, this isn't, I've never imagined anything like this."

"You are... not quite correct. But it suffices for understanding. I can't expect anymore of you, and do not. I am not here for me, I am here for you, to help you as well as I can."

She smiles at you, calm and comforting, the melancholy disappearing as quickly as it came. She settles a little more easily into her place on the bed, relaxing finally, thought it's only the act of doing so that makes you realize she's been on edge this whole time.

"...Thank you for all the years you followed me, and for actually talking to me now. I don't know about the future, but there are things that could be done in the present. I aim to punish those that would hurt your thieves, and I don't know how yet but, to set those thieves on the right path again. You were surprised to see me, so I'll explain that the reason I'm doing this is because of my brother. It's been over a year since he passed, but that's how far I was from here when I learned of that. I abandoned you and your city, and my motivations are lacking, but I hope my goals and actions are ones you'd support anyway."

"They aren't MY thieves. Thieves are free to do as they wish. I simply love them, and I love them all the more for their freedom of choice. It is why She chose you all as well. Because she values freedom beyond all other things. But then, you know the few things she looks badly on, don't you?"

You nod in response. Every thief of the Guild knew them by heart. Things that the Guild forbid, partly taken as a result of the Lady's own ideals, or so the legends went. Most were minor things, not stealing from fellow thieves, or whores and beggars, who the Lady also claimed as her own. A few others that largely were never an issue in any case. The most heinous was known as Theft of Blood, or more to the point, murder. Self-defense was one thing, but cold-blooded murder, assassination, anything similar the Guild kept its hands out of.

"As for your brother... I remember him. We all watched him... The harbor, I think. That is where the end came for him. He was so alone when he died..." The sorrow in her voice is real, so profound you find tears threatening to break out in your eyes. But she continues, voice stronger, harder, almost filled with the strength only someone who's lost a lover and kept going can have. "There are those who give praise to Ceto there. One in particular was there that night, but fear keeps his voice silenced. More than that, I don't know."

You absorb that information almost greedily. A clue is a clue, no matter how small it was. If there was someone in the harbor district who knew what happened that night, you'd find them. You'd make sure of it. But there was one last thing you wanted to ask the woman, before whatever happened once she had helped was done.

"Let's get down to brass tacks. What EXACTLY is wrong with this city, and how can we fix it?"

She takes a moment to compose herself, a deep breath to chase away whatever lingering sorrow remains, and then she is smiling gently once more.

"Is there something wrong with this city? One cannot say, I don't think. It is a free city, and if it chooses to relinquish that freedom, it has that right. But if you wish to safeguard its freedom, keep the choice truly their own, then you will need to chase all those who would seek to take it from them by force. There are many who's eyes stray to Greyport, for this city is wealthy beyond the measure of any kingdom. So then, what will you do? Focus only on your own goals? Or will you take up your thieves' tools once more and steal back the choice others have had robbed from them?"

>Input Command
>>
No. 896385 ID: dbf422

Maybe that's why the Lady chose a human. I don't think I'd be that moved by a god.

"I want to say that I will focus on my goals, and if I happen to help the city along the way, even better. Or I want to say that I will find out my brother's dying wish and fulfill it, but no more. I can't say either. I don't do things half way.

"I will find my brother's killer. I will protect the freedoms of my home. Both with equal effort."
>>
No. 896553 ID: cb777a

"I want to say that I will focus on my goals, and if I happen to help the city along the way, even better. Or I want to say that I will find out my brother's dying wish and fulfill it, but no more. I can't say either. I don't do things half way. I will find my brother's killer. I will protect the freedoms of my home. Both with equal effort."

She smiles at you, joy clear on her face. She stands and strides towards you, sheets sliding from her body. As she reaches you the woman places a single kiss on your cheek, and as she pulls away again you feel something seem to suffuse your body, strength and skill you didn't know you had pulling up from within. She steps back, out of arms reach, and her eyes and tone speak of concern as she addresses you.

"This path won't be an easy one. But no path ever is, and I've never seen a thief who wasn't willing to face a good challenge. I'm afraid this is all I can do for you now. You might never see me again, but She will be watching. You're story will be an interesting one, and she has always had a soft spot for a good story. It was good to meet you, even if I had to wait ten years for you to come home."

She bows her head to you, then starts to head towards the door. You find yourself frowning slightly, getting the feeling that if you let her leave now, you definitely won't see her again. There's also the matter of what to do. Even though you've sworn not to let this city lose it's freedom, you'll have to decide how to go about that, not to mention how to go about finding whoever saw what happened the night of your brother's death.

>Input Command

>Select One
>+1 to Body/Gain Spider Climb(Can attempt to climb otherwise impassable surfaces)
+1 to Finesse/Gain Tremor Sense(While still and concentrating, can sense movement around you within a small radius)
>>
No. 896793 ID: 4f1cbc

>avatar of the Lady, or something like that
She's Ava, then, if we need a name for her and she doesn't provide another.

>There are those who give praise to Ceto there
Who's Ceto, do we know? Another deity, or a leader of men?

>+1 to Finesse/Gain Tremor Sense(While still and concentrating, can sense movement around you within a small radius)
Considering we're almost certainly going to make enemies who will try to sneak up on us, and we'll want to move through places unseen, this could be invaluable.
>>
No. 896799 ID: dbf422

+1 to Body/Gain Spider Climb(Can attempt to climb otherwise impassable surfaces)

Tell her not to be a stranger. It couldn't hurt to meet us more than once.
>>
No. 896812 ID: bddb0f

>>896799

Sounds good.
>>
No. 896847 ID: cb777a

+1 to Body/Spider Climb Gained

Ceto is the Patron Spirit of the Sea, much like the Lady is Patron Spirit of Thieves. Sailors, pirates, divers, fisherman, all who ply their trade on the ocean's tides give praise to Ceto, and apart from the Lady herself, it is the only other spirit honored in any large degree within Greyport. You aren't overly familiar with it's particular traits, though it wouldn't be hard to find someone who could speak on the subject.

"Don't be a stranger."

Your words giver the woman pause as she reaches the door, and she shoots one last beautiful smile over her shoulder before disappearing from the room. With her gone, you find yourself breathing just a little easier. Even if she said she wasn't the Lady, it was still the closest you'd ever come to Her. Still, you'd gained some clues to the future, and you'd affirmed before the Lady, or at least an avatar, that you'd protect this city and avenge your brother. Now all the remained was to find the best route, and fortunate or not, there was only one way your knew to help protect this city. Time to talk with Markus once more, he'd know how to revive the Guild.

You return to the tavern floor after taking a short rest, the sun just beginning it's descent from the sky. The tavern itself is suspiciously empty, but you notice Markus has laid out a map of the city on the bar counter. He looks up as you take a seat across from him, his eyes asking the question you'd hoped to have more time to think on.

"The Guild will be reborn, Markus. I'll see to it."

There's a grim smile in return for your words, but Markus says nothing more on the subject, instead directing your attention to the map. The various districts are clearly marked, though their boundaries are much less clear than this map would have you believe. Still, you note certain buildings are marked, such as the Gilded Rose and the castle. A few others are marked as well, but you don't have the chance to take a look at them before Markus begins to speak.

"If we want to revive the Guild, there's two things we'll need. Recognition for you, as the Guildmaster, and gold, to acquire tools and repair the cellar. Since the Guild went down it's been seeing some disrepair. I'll handle things on that end, for you it's a matter of pulling a job after ten years of being out of the game. Gone over what little information I could and have come up with some places to hit for both. Can only hope you're still up to the task, cause we don't have the time to be wasting on small fry..."

>Select your Target

>Count Morlow's Mansion: Home of self proclaimed "Count of the Lady". He openly worships the Lady, and sets up elaborate traps and locks within his home to tempt thieves, seeing it as his duty to challenge her chosen, with gold and valuables as the prize. No one's successfully stolen from him since the Guild fell. (Moderate Wealth, Moderate Infamy)

>Harbor Trade House: The primary buyers of goods from the merchant ships that dock in Greyport. Whilst it is certainly no great challenge, there's valuables aplenty to be taken for the Guild's revival. (Major Wealth, Minor Infamy)

>Castle Greyport: Abandoned for years, it's now been taken as the residence of a supposed heir to the Blackwater line. Soldiers once again patrol it's walls, making it a daunting task, and all without any true promise of reward, but to break into a castle would doubtless spread the word quickly. (Unknown Wealth, Major Infamy)

"The Rat" Character Sheet can now be found in the Discussion thread.
>>
No. 896873 ID: dbf422

I'd like to try the mansion but we're not especially practiced with traps. Spider-climb is actually probably good at compensating for that, but I wouldn't want to rely on it. The harbor is probably easy enough that any stat could manage but it's boring. And the castle feels incredibly dangerous to start with, though I imagine it fits our stats the best right now.

But the Lady is on our side. Challenging the Count seems like a strong start. So, the target should be Count Morlow's Mansion.

"We're talking about that knife once I'm done with this, right?"
>>
No. 896885 ID: bddb0f

I feel as if the Rat is more specced towards breaking into the Castle. Climbing walls with unreasonable ease has become his thing now, and hey, look, walls. Besides, infiltrating successfully stands a good chance of telling us more about this supposed heir and I bet there are those who'd pay for such news, if nothing else.
>>
No. 896889 ID: dbf422

>>896885
I agree, I just really like the idea of a test. Though if it comes down to a tie, I don't mind the castle.
>>
No. 896901 ID: 5b93d3

>>896847
The Count.

Not just for the prize (though it's useful in its own right) but to steal an audience with him. To rebuild the Guild needs not just funds, but members. He's likely going to have seen the majority of the thieves in the free city - new and old - and is well placed to have evaluated their skills. That would save us a lot of vetting in organising a core membership of skilled thieves to replace the departed members.
>>
No. 896958 ID: cb777a

Your choice had been a mix of many thoughts. For one, while the Castle was a tempting target, you'd much prefer to take the time to prep for such a big job. On the other end, while there was plenty of gold to be had at the trade house, it wasn't too difficult a prospect, and would do little to spread the word of the Guild's return. Count Morlow was an ideal target, a good mixture of wealth, infamy and difficulty. On top of all that, if things went according to plan, perhaps you'd be able to speak to the man himself and gather information on some potential members.

Which is why you find yourself on a rooftop opposite the manor, night long since fallen, getting reacquainted with an old friend. Where Markus had dug it from is beyond you, but the leather thieve's "armor" is once again fit snugly over your clothing. While it could certainly turn away a blow or two in a fight, it's main use is the various pockets secreted throughout the garment. Useful for hiding away the tools necessary for your craft or stashing valuables pilfered from your targets. Your's is dyed a mottled grey, and bears the appearance of a simple cured leather vest. You adjust the straps one last time before turning your full attention on the target of your first theft in a decade.

The building's exterior is typical of those found within the Caste District, with no doubt expensive ornamentation along it's exterior gate and perhaps a touch too much gold inlay on the various metal bits and pieces. What isn't typical is the statue displayed prominently in the front garden, depicting a maiden who's face is veiled. You can hazard a guess that it's supposed to be the Lady, but you're fairly certain some artistic license had been taken in regards to Her feminine qualities. You've spent the last few hours simply watching the comings and going of the place, and have found a number of ways you could probably get inside, though from there you admit you'll have to improvise.

At least the Lady will be entertained.

>Enter through the servant's entrance, either pretending to be staff or simply trying to sneak through.

>Climb up the side of the building to that conveniently open window. There's plenty of handholds and ledges, so it shouldn't be too hard.

>Boldly enter through the front door, posing as a late night visitor on business of some sort.
>>
No. 896964 ID: 4f1cbc

>>896958
Well, we took spider climb, might as well exploit it.

The other two options would be cunning based, anyways, which is our worst stat right now.
>>
No. 896992 ID: dbf422

>>896964
Well, stealthing through the servant's entrance, instead of using a disguise, is actually finesse, though that's not much better. But, we get better by doing, practicing up on forgotten skills. If we succeed at anything tricky we gain a point in the related stat, it seems. I don't know if there's a limit, like if we'll always be weaker at cunning because we didn't train with Mother in the backstory, but we do need to practice with every skill at some point.

Anyway, the conveniently opened window is a trap. This whole mansion is designed to test thieves, no way is the window open by accident. I say we try stealthing through the servant's entrance.
>>
No. 897531 ID: cb777a

You slip from your position on the roof, descending down to the alley below before exiting into the street. With night having fallen, foot traffic is sparse, but it also means no one pays you much attention either. It's not uncommon for servants and the lesser rabble to be out and about at night, when services weren't as needed as they were during the day. You make your way across the street and slip into the alley that borders the exterior wall, finding a spot close to your entry point. Then it's a simple matter to scale the wall and drop onto the other side, crouching in the shadows to mask your presence. You eye the servant's entrance and wait for the perfect opportunity to slip through. While the window was definitely more your style, it was a bit more on the nose than you'd like. Knowing what you know, it was more likely a trap than anything else.

You wait for what feels like an eternity(but honestly is probably only ten minutes at most) before a servant comes out, dragging a large crate behind him. You decide that's the best chance you'll get, and dart from your hiding place, passing through the door as the man's attention is on the crate and not on the door. Within, candlelight sends flickering shadows across what appears to be a combination of kitchen and pantry. There are only a few individuals working, cooks and scullery maids, you can only assume cleaning up after the days activities. You waste little time in slipping through the room, having little need to spend more time here than you need to, and exit out into what appears to be a hallway, likely the main one for this wing of the household. Now that you've at least safely entered the place, now it was time to go hunting for valuables. Normally, you'd have a far better idea of where those might be, but with this being a rush job, you'd have to make do with prior experience.

There's a few places the rich tend to keep their valuables, or at least information that could be just as valuable. The most obvious would be Morlow's private study, there had to be something valuable there, if only in terms of information and blackmail material. With luck, there'd be something to direct you to wherever the really good stuff is hidden. Another option would be to seek out the most heavily guarded section of the house. Vault's tend to be where guards are, and if this man likes testing thieves, that'd be a good way to do it. Lastly, you might try a more direct approach once more. Servants aren't necessarily loyal to their employers, and if you found one alone you might be able to get them to talk. There's also of course just finding the Count himself, since you'd decided talking to him would be necessary to future plans...

>Find the Study
>Look for a Vault
>Look around for Servant
>Seek out the Count
>Offer Suggestion
>>
No. 897598 ID: 094652

Set the place on fire. Cause as much damage as you can, and destroy valuable objects by using them as murder weapons. Leave anyone smart enough to run alive.

Let the city know that all who sow oppression shall reap the pressure bomb.
>>
No. 897627 ID: dbf422

Find the study. If there IS blackmail material, that'd be useful for any dealings with the Count.

>>897598
We don't know that the Count is particularly oppressive.
>>
No. 897980 ID: 4f1cbc

>>897531
Let's search for the vault.

>>897598
Maxim 1, Kome. Pillage then burn.

That said, arson and wanton slaughter go against the spirit of the challenge the Count is offering. It's a game played for status, recognition, money and faith. Breaking that implicit contract would be a social loss for us, and we already know the Lady looks down on murder.
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No. 898517 ID: cb777a

A moment of consideration, and then you're slinking through the shadows, heading deeper into the mansion. As enticing as digging up dirt is, the Count set up this place to challenge thieves, if you can beat his game, then surely you'd earn some respect from the man. It doesn't take you long to traverse the halls until you find something promising. A glance around a corner reveals a well lit corridor, a pair of guards standing idly by a door. Upon examination, you note that neither of them seems overly keen on actually appearing alert, both have spears leaning against the walls, and one is idly picking at his fingernails. Lazy bastards, from the look of them, but laziness was often a thief's best friend.

You take a moment to examine the corridor itself, noting everything you can about it. First floor, with the doorway probably leading to a staircase into a basement, usually the safest place for a vault of any kind. There's a number of torches placed uniformly along the walls, making it a fact that sneaking past them would be ill advised, but if you could find a way to put them out, you might be able to manage it under cover of shadow. There's rooms not too far from this hallway, a distraction in one of them might also draw them away, you'd have to be quick to slip around them and get back here without drawing attention to yourself. With a few servants around, and a bit of coin you've got in your pocket, you might be able to bribe your way into a distraction too. There's just a matter of finding the best way to get past them without causing undue alarm...

>Input Command
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No. 898562 ID: dbf422

>>898517
Check the rooms, starting from farthest from your goal. Find an empty one with something in it that would be pretty loud if it hit the ground from seven feet in the air, but isn't too big (a pot, a vase, something metal). Then check the closest rooms to your goal, within dashing distance, and crack open an empty one. Go back to the former room, and place the loud object on top of the open door, as best you can while being outside the door.

Shutting the door will cause it to fall and draw the attention of the guards, while you slip into the closer room you'd prepared. Then you just wait for them to pass your room, and hurry down the stairs behind them.

Little simple, but it should be enough. (And maybe just slamming the door might work instead of the prank-style thing I suggested, but that might not be enough to get both guards.)
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No. 898575 ID: 4f1cbc

>Upon examination, you note that neither of them seems overly keen on actually appearing alert, both have spears leaning against the walls, and one is idly picking at his fingernails. Lazy bastards, from the look of them, but laziness was often a thief's best friend.
I wonder if they're as lazy as they appear, or if that's an act. If this place is supposed to test thieves, surely there are going to be some things that are harder than they appear to catch inexperienced thieves unawares.

>what do
Let's check the nearby rooms, see what we have to work with.
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