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25 August 2014 @ 05:50 pm
Flight of the Phoenix: Session Four  
First off, Mara wanted to figure out who this "Dario" character was, so before the crew left the Capital she looked up an old school chum of hers named Daren who had been a bit of a rapscallion during their university days. After briefly asking around, she managed to find him in the very same noodle bar where Petrichor had made such an impression, running a betting scheme based on bowls of noodles consumed. Mara slid up to the table and after introductions, she asked him what he knew about Dario, and Daren repliee that he's known as a good man to get work from who doesn't stiff his clients, but that the scuttlebutt is that Dario's working for someone else. When asked, Daren said he had no idea how to contact Dario, but that the contact who gave the crew their task to retrieve Mazatl artifacts, Liam, tends to frequent a bar called the Maiden's Name. Mara thanked Daren for the information, then plopped down a longshot bet and told Daren that if she won, he should send the money to Provost Quarrin.

Mara returned from meeting Dario and went to Autumn Oak, asking his help in checking out the Maiden's Name. He quickly agreed and the two set off to the tavern. After they arrived and briefly looked around but didn't see anyone, Autumn Oak walked up to the bartender and insinuated that he's a man with an interest in maybe talking to the sort of people who hand out tasks to roguish types in bars. The bartender replied that he didn't know what Dario looked like or where he spent his time, but that Liam was in the tavern right at that moment. Autumn Oak thanked the bartender and walked back to confer with Mara. They relatively quickly decided not to do anything, but Autumn Oak realized something and told her he would catch up, so she tossed a coin to the bartender and left. He walked outside to an alley across from the Maiden's Name and waited, and was rewarded when he saw a suspicious mouse make a beeline across the street straight for the tavern.

Autumn Oak concentrated and reached out toward the mouse's mind, but he couldn't get a grasp on it and it went into the Maiden's Name with only a glance at him. Finding failure with his magic, he decided to rely on his muscles, and when the mouse emerged he sprang up and ran straight at it, but it dashed under his feet and he quickly lost it among the crowds in the Capital. Somewhat dejected, he searched for it briefly, but found nothing and eventually made his way back to Aurora[1].

While Autumn Oak made his way back to the ship, Mara took the rubbings from the Mazatl tomb and dropped them off at the university, and Bartleby asked Petrichor what he knew about Dario after growing up on the streets of the Capital. Petrichor replied that Dario occasionally asked the street urchins to run tasks, and he was known for always paying on time and not treating his clients badly.

Their investigations having reached a dead end, the crew took a job transporting chili peppers from Bannor to Amura, but partway through the voyage they learn that the chilis were stolen, they were not actually supposed to be transported, and their rightful owners were put out enough to come looking for them. Through some amazing flying and skillful navigating which I won't go into[2], the crew delivered the peppers to their recipient with only minor losses in transit from Petrichor's taste for food. Though in good news, Petrichor took over the cooking for the Aurora's crew, and despite burning the first batch of food he makes rather badly, the crew was so sick of Bartleby's cooking that they gave Petrichor another chance, and he proved himself with flying colors.

Having arrived in Cevedes, capital of Amura:


Click for source.

...and the crew spread out. Petrichor and Mara went to go buy ingredients now that mealtimes were actually something to look forward to, and knowing Bartleby would still refuse to disburse enough money for proper meals, Mara bartered her healing skills to the various merchants in exchange for a reduction in the prices. While in the market, they keep their ears to the ground and learn that a rich private collector named Maximilian has been seen wandering around the city even though he previously had rarely ever left his mansion.

Bartleby instead went to the docking master and said that he knew that Amura's reputation as a center of thaumaturgical research meant that it was known as a prime location for finding mystical objects, and he asked if he knew of any objects to "transport." The dockmaster didn't know of anything concrete, but after speaking to him, a man walked up to Bartleby, introduced himself as Luquasz, a colleague of Liam, and said he had a job for the Aurora's crew.

While Autumn Oak went to the temple of the Dryad to offer a sacrifice and Mara stopped in at the bookstore and grabbed a used book from the damaged books section (which after paying, she learned was titled The Window's Eyes, a travelogue with a very...odd point of view), Bartleby and Petrichor met with Luquasz to hear the job. Luquasz told them that a private collector named Maximilian is scheduled to receive an artifact that Dario believes would do better in someone else's hands. The artifact, a scroll written by the Priest-Kings of the First Empire, would be transported from another island in the mid-reach and should arrive in Cevedes within the week, though he wasn't sure exactly when it would arrive. To sweeten the pot, Luquasz claimed that Maximilian used to correspond with Queen Alexis of Calas and that he was known to collaborate with the Nobility, but was spared during the Dawn War because he proved himself too useful to the rebels to be executed.

When Petrichor asked who was doing the transporting, Luquasz replied that it was a group called the Ruinous Finders, which Petrichor recognized as a group of failed aethernauts who weren't good enough to make it as real pirates and who couldn't pass the exams to become recognized members of the Explorer's Guild. When Bartleby asked why someone as rich as Maximilian would go with such a two-bit group of failures, Luquasz said that there's no way the Explorer's Guild would let such a valuable artifact into private hands and that it obviously belongs in a museum. After some brief negotiations, the crew took the job.

Mara and Autumn returned and were briefed on the task, and then Bartleby went to the nearest pirate tavern (there's always one) to see what they had to say about Maximilian. In a few minutes, he quickly learned that he was simultaneously an evil wizard, an immortal mastermind, a Noble ghoul, and a crazy old coot. All sources agreed that he has a huge private collection, however. Meanwhile, Mara went to an Amuran university and asked about the university museum and any rumors about smuggling, since as a center of thaumaturgical knowledge, Cevedes would probably have a lot of clandestine artifact trading as well. She didn't learn much, but she did learn that the university museum accepts submissions without too much question as to how the givers got them, and that Maximilian has several items from his collection in the museum.

The crew met up and discussed what to do, with Bartleby briefly floating the idea of trying to sell the scroll to Maximilian instead, but eventually they agreed to go with Dario's original proposal after Autumn Oak pointed out that Dario was able to send an agent to find them in an entirely different country after they had traveled from Patria up to Bannor and then back to Amura. Petrichor said that the Aurora would need to be disguised, and when Bartleby wondered whether the ship would accept having its appearance changed, Petrichor said that maybe they could approach the Ruinous Finders under a conjured cloud bank, or dive in out of the sun. Bartleby suggested that maybe they could steal the scroll from their ship while they were docked, but everyone agrees that they need a flight plan.

Bartleby managed to leverage his connections to get a flight plan relatively quickly, but the actual plan was frustratingly vague. It did inform them that the Ruinos Finders were planning to make a lot of stops during their flight and the crew might be able to intercept them during one of their stops. Petrichor pointed out that it could be any of a large number of islands, and Autumn Oak replied that he could summon up air spirits to check the islands and report back on the ship's location. Petrichor and Bartleby were sure they could get descriptions, and then the talk turns to him to subdue the ship. Petrichor considered using a storm to force the ship to land, but the crew wasn't comfortable with possibly marooning the Ruinous Finders on an island without the materials to make repairs. Mara wanted to make sleeping darts and shoot them at the Ruinous Finders from hiding and then loot the ship, but Bartleby suggested finding a place that the Ruinous Finders were going to stop for supplies, disguising the crew as merchants, and selling the crew poisoned food to put them to sleep. After some discussion and thinking of Petrichor's newfound cooking prowess, the crew went with the food plan and went to put it into place.

After getting the description of the Ruinous Finders' ship, Autumn Oak summoned up three air spirits and sent them on their way, with a promise that they could freely fly on the wind currents around the ship if they would perform the task. The spirits returned relatively quickly and told Autumn Oak the location, and the crew consulted the map and found that a small town called Karlsport was almost certainly where the Ruinous Finders where be traveling, so they made their preparations and set sail. The voyage was uneventful, though Autumn Oak had a trying time as the air spirits kept flying around him and bothering him, when they weren't up on the crow's nest with Petrichor. Finally, however, they made it to Karlsport and set their plan in motion.

Bartleby negotiated to set up a stall in the small market, and while Petrichor (wearing false beard and with wings hidden under a cloak) and Mara cooked up the Sleepy Time Poison Biscuits (Mara's player's words) and Autumn Oak wandered off to avoid being too conspicuous, Bartleby scanned the crowd for the Ruinous Finders. When they showed up, Bartleby drew on his own supernatural powers and made a pitch to them (and got an exceptional success!). They immediately came over to see what these amazing biscuits were like...but so did quite a few other people, and Petrichor had to make batch after batch of biscuits to satisfy the demand. They quickly sold out and Mara ran off to find more biscuits.

Knowing that the Ruinous Finders would be a bit suggestible now, Bartleby asked them some questions about their travels, claiming to merely be an old man running a biscuit stand who lived to hear tales of the voyages he could never go on. The Ruinous Finders were happy to expound on some of their deeds, and described how they went to an island on the very edge of the mid-reach and claimed how they were transporting an artifact they found to a museum in Cevedes. Bartleby made sure they have enough biscuits for the eight of them on board and even throws in some rum for a minor discount, and when the Ruinous Finders move on, the crew quickly closes up shop[3] and heads back to the Aurora to get ready to steal the scroll.

And that's where we ended.

[1]: Failed multiple rolls in a row, including 9 dice to magically hypnotize the mouse vs. the mouse's 1 die to resist. The dice seriously hated me tonight.
[2]: I won't go into them because this was all setup by softlykarou for the rest of the session. It happened between episodes, so to speak.
[3]: It was described as a cloud of flour blowing out, and by the time the Karlsporters stopped coughing, the shop was gone. Further group speculation led to a hypothetical Karlsport Biscuit Day and one of the town's 13-year-olds reenacting the part of the biscuit boy.

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A lot of this session didn't translate well to a writeup, because there were a lot of you-had-to-be-there jokes about the events. For example, Autumn Oak chasing the mouse to the tune of Yakety Sax, Petrichor learning that Bartleby had bought oats for porridge in bulk from a cavalry supplier, "Luquasz" becoming canon because softlykarou delegated the spelling of his name to me, the air spirits (who only Autumn Oak can hear) talking like Catbug, Mara repeatedly referring to poisons and intoxicants as "bad news herbs" like some kind of after-school special, Karlsport getting its name because Bartleby's player accidentally said "Port of Karl" instead of "Port of call," and the whole group dissolving into laughter as Petrichor's player acted out the roll of the biscuit boy, cousin to Igor.

Dario finds us again! Does he have seers looking out for us, or how did he find us? Maybe he's actually working for one of the groups with greater supernatural power, like the Nobility or the Uratha or the dragons? I wish I hadn't miserably failed all of those rolls to find the mouse, because Autumn Oak interrogating it could definitely have opened up some doors. Well, if Dario keeps tapping us for jobs, eventually we'll be able to meet him and then we'll get some answers.
 
 
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