At the behest of Parker Garcia, the T.I.P. burgles and battles in Ban-Uldud.
J. is wandering about town looking for other Pangols. Mala is a nurse. Marius and his husband, Edgar, run a bar: The Arrow of Ice. Shasten works as a tailor in town. J opts to first visit Marius, her uncle. Marius has happily settled down here other the last few years. J is warmly greeted and mentions her brother was just in town a few days ago. He clearly feels J’s brother had fallen in with a poor group. He made a name for himself in town, which is why J has been getting looks and “bro” pats on the back. They spend some time catching up and J learns about the goings on of late.
Ren has been escorted off by her booker to prepare for the match. Her booker is desperately trying to convince her that this is NOT a fight to the death -- Ren is confused. Giacomo is nervously palming the gem that BirdGirl gave him, they will need to place bets soon. He’s equally concerned about how these fights are rigged and if Ren is in any real danger or if they just go along with it.
Ren seems in good spirits as she settles into a bar full of fighters. It’s clear that there are several fighting “entertainers” here as well as honest fighters. You can tell them apart by their scars. Ren thankfully has been placed in the “honest” fighting division.
She does her best to size up the room before becoming social. She recognizes many, mostly by reputation, but there is one person in particular that catches her eyes.
Sitting talking to a goliath, both wearing a Black Bell tabard sit in a familiar face: the sergeant from a few nights ago. They seem to be arguing over which one of them is going to the fight tonight: him because he’s bigger, her because she’s meaner. Giacomo reaches out with his mind to Ren -- he touches her shoulder and gently speaks into her mind “Do you see her? Should we be worried?” Ren responds “You sound loud in here”. Giacomo tries to explain the telepathy, but suggests they leave before they are seen. Ren doesn’t want to fight the sergeant.
Bird Girl has been waiting impatiently for young Jeffrey to finish his chores. He eventually emerges and he escorts her to the Black Bell camp where his father Jacob is working. She drops a small bundle of straight, white feathers at Jacob's feet. She looks very proud of herself.
Bird Girl has a strange, lopsided conversation with Jacob, making sure that the family is here of their own free will. They are, and the work here is good. She asks if there is anything worth stealing in the church, something that the Black Bell might be protecting. Jacob seems to be confused, and cannot come up with anything. He mentions that the primate Philippa has her own guards and protection. Jacob seems concerned about Bird Girl’s involvement in dangerous engagements. To be fair, he knows little more than Bird Girl and her companions are honourable travelers.
Bird Girl is disappointed that he knows nothing of the church, so she asks again if the family is happy. Jacob sighs and Jeffrey begins to shudder -- Bird Girl wraps a wing around the young boy and asks him if it’s work or slavery. He says work, but with a far-off and pained look. Bird Girl asks if there is “a price”, but is told that she’d have to take it up with the dragon. She scratches her head and somehow produces two gems to give Jacob before quickly turning and forcefully escorting Jeffrey back to the keep.
Åke is at a bit of a loss for what to do, so he decides to check out the church. There is no one here and it seems to be deserted. A tall Orc greets him and he asks aloud: “Is there a Park...er around here?” She flinches as though someone has mentioned a name that she is not supposed to talk about. She introduces herself as Sophia, and dusts off a pew for them to sit and speak. Åke asks if there are any mystics around. She seems quite knowledgeable about those in the area. Nothing intimate, just knowledge and gossip. She does seem to be withholding information. Åke asks if there is anything or anywhere, or anyone in town who he could learn more from. She looks pained, but offers to make Åke an appointment with Primate Philippa. Sophia promises to let the Primate’s assistant, Risa the Goblin, know.
Åke decides to explore the church and Sophia is an excellent tour guide. Noted especially that they hold confession every night and Åke should join them (because almost no one does). Åke tries his best to lose her, but she’s very good at her tour guide job, so he decides to leave and come back later in a more sneaky manner. He leave, but takes his time around the grounds, looking for anything of note. Until later tonight, Åke decides to head to the Alchemist.
A large, clattering crowd cheers and rabble rouses as Ren’s “manager” bookie introduces her as a titan for her first fight. The fighting circle is a huge cage, open at the top. The crowd is pressed up against it on the outside and lines of fighters surround the outer ring on the inside. Ren meets her first foe… she yells out “Hi! My name is Ren. This is my first time doing this. I’m not going to kill you.” and then rushes him. Ren’s opponent fights with two rapiers -- they bend under the weight of Ren’s axe, but they do not break. The match is going to be very exciting.
Giacomo is busy scouting for the sergeant, but can’t find her. He does, however, spot the goliath and decides to keep an eye on him directly. He seems nervous that he may be spotted by others who may be looking for him.
Ren easily wins her first match and Giacomo collects their ruby bet at 2:1 <1 ruby = 12.5 gold>
Kiren and Dorian are welcomed to the Tower for dinner. Kiren is expected and respected, dorial is mostly ignored and that annoys him. <10 sapphires = 20 gold>
Voltamar awaits them on a pile of treasure. It’s known to Kiren that Voltamamr plays the political games that her family is involved in, but not much of their personality is known beyond “they’re a blue dragon”. She looks around for any other dragon-born in the reception, specifically blue ones, but finds none.
Seated at the table are a few knights from house Dudeabros, and a wizard type at the head of the table. There are some nervous folks standing beside several sauces. Kiren is formally announced to the room. Voltamar looks up, their yellow eyes fix on Kiren and Dorian, washing them with magical fear. They welcome the guests formally: “Welcome, I was just about to eat.” A tortured soul dips a toe into one of the sauces. “You have refined taste, I see,” says Kiren. They settle into their seats and wait.
Ren’s second fight, her odds are much less profitable. She’s taking on a pair of Ash-hound wizards who unleash fireballs. Ren easily swats the fireballs away, then locks eyes on one wizard, rushing and swinging with some of her might. She clocks the one on the left heartily, taking him out. Swinging for the one on the right, who backflips an dtosses a weak fireball that fizzles at Ren’s chest. Ren’s amusement is very hearty. She lunges, taps her anchor/axe on his head and knocks him out.
J leaves the Arrow of Ice tavern just as a rogue fireball is lobbed into the night sky. J plans to head to the arena, but realizes that she’s being followed. J calls out to the little Goblin stalker, “You’re not supposed to be here.” The Goblin has mistaken her for her brother and seems very concerned that “J” hasn’t left town. J feigns that she’s had a blow to the head and asks the goblin to recount why she (rather, her brother) shouldn’t be here. The goblin is very young and very nervous.
J runs with the misunderstanding and asks, “So why are you following me?”
“I wanted to warn you, but didn’t konw what to say.” The goblin begins to fangirl over J and “the show” that happened 2 days ago. She starts to realize, as she blabbers on, that J is not a paladin, and makes the connection that this is not E. Embarassed, the goblin apologizes and tries to assure J that she will tell the Primate that this is not E.
J makes her way over to the arena and, turning a corner, finds the sergeant and the goliath arguing in the street. J turns into a spider and eavesdrops on them. The sergeant is arguing that she will cheat and that the goliath has too much to lose. The goliath is found out to be a priest and is accused of being too old, slow, and honest. One of the pair has to fight to the death, apparently as part of an obligation.
J returns to human form and addresses the pair. The goliath reveals that the Black Bell requires trial by combat. The sergeant reveals that she has been doing this for 15 years. If she wins, at best, she gets a pay cut, demotion (and doesn’t die). She seems extremely confident that she will win the final fight.J enters the arena area to check things out.
Bird Girl encounters Åke and both are surprised by Parker, who is now disguised as a burly man. Parker proposes a caper adventure to the two -- he needs someone who can fly. The caper may involve some window pooping. He needs to remove an object from the church tower. Bird Girl agrees to help in exchange for some post-caper cake snacks. The plan is for Åke to distract folks in the church, while Bird Girl causes a distraction outside the top of the tower -- Parker will be diguised as the priestess and “liberate some information”.
Åke attempts to stall the priestess by bluffing about not being familiar with the concept of confession, but fails comically. He then deftly recovers by suggesting that one of the guards/paladins should go first as an example.
Bird Girl scends to the large window at the top of the tower, perches, and makes eye contacts with the Primate. She awkwardly shuffles over and looks down at the arena and the Primate follows her gaze. A priestess enters the room and sneaks out unnoticed with a scroll.
Back at the Keep, the knights are drunk and the electric mage is painstakingly savouring a single bean. Lord Voltamar addresses Kiren, “What does house Sedara want in my city?” Voltamar also implies that she knows that Dorian has been branded. Kiren offers 10 sapphires to Voltamar in exchange for discretion about Kiren’s visit, Voltamar assures discretion. Voltamar addresses Kiren again, “Have you seen a mystic about your magical difficulties?” -- “Yes.”
Voltamar, magnanamously: “The best part about being a dragon is knowing who you are and where you fit in teh order of things”
In the fighting arena, J finds Giacomo and Ren and demands an explanation for Ren’s decision to fight the sergeant. Ren will continue with the fight and J secretly decides to sabotage the sergeant in the fight. The sergeant is obviously enchanted and isn’t touched by Ren’s first attempts to strike. The sergeant is talking smack about Ren klling a young recruit who was under the sergeant’s care.
Giacomo notices that the goliath priest is praying intently and flinching whenever the sergeant is struck. Giacomo relays this information to J telepathically and explains that it’s a spell that’s keeping the sergeant safe.
The sergeant lands a hit on Rent and hits much harder than should be possible. The crowd goes quiet.
J transforms into a giant spider, ascends to the highest point in the ring, and uses a web attack to restrain the sergeant. Giacomo teleportsto the goliath to distract him. Giacomo can’t interrupt the goliath, but he breaks his concentration. The goliath notices the spiderweb and offers Giacomo a deal: both parties will withdraw and claim interference -- they agree.
Bird Girl realizes that more distraction is needed and fires her bow into the fight. The guards are confused further.
Giacomo broadcasts to Ren, J, Birdgirl, and Åke “Meet back at the church” Ren is dragged out of the ring by Giacomo and Åke casts a fog cloud around to allow J to drop down and resume her normal appearance. The entire party returns to the church and tend to Ren’s wounds.