talmage finds an old friend, rocco has an assassin babysitter, luci gets knifed
rocco: i named him sparkles because his eyes reflect the moonlight :) graves: would you like to see. *pulls out his wallet* graves: this one ... is sparkles.
talmage wakes up feeling sore and achy. he had cast alarm the night before but bishop stays up, keeping watch. over the night, he sees more crows. he stares at them so hard, they fly away.
[charlie]: is it because bishop looks like a cat? like a lion?
bishop gets the feeling they were watching their window specifically. they had a blueish glow to them. bishop switches shifts with a grumpy raja.
[dee]: raja's not entirely convinced that they were not just ... normal crows [emily]: our characters are all gonna have a severe bird problem after this
everyone has a really, really restful night. talmage cried himself to sleep, exhausting him into a very deep slumber. bishop is the only one who saw him cry.
at about 8 am, raja notices a caravan with the vale logo ride up to the inn and stop. two armored soldiers go inside, while one jumps out the back of the cart, looks around, and then skirt around the back of the building. there are 4 others still in the cart.
she alerts the group as everyone wakes up. she informs us of the soldiers, and that they were probably here because of the crows last night.
the group panics for a while, discussing if and how they should evacuate the building.
talmage: raja you-- at dinner last night, you changed your appearance - how did you do that? raja: i have ... some ... magic talmage: okay, um, can you-- c-can you-- can you teach me to do it? how do you do it. raja: i don't ... know that i can? i don't know that our magic works the same way, it's not exactly something i ... studied the way you seemed to, but you can try? rocco: i can create a distraction and you guys can run away! bishop: what about you? rocco: ... well. i could run away too?
bishop: i could compel them to dual. raja: you can what? bishop: i can compel them to dual.
raja spends a few minutes trying to teach talmage how to cast [disguise self]. she recalls how she first learned the spell – the first spell she had been taught by her original mentor. her explanation is very firm and direct; and despite being shaken by the situation, talmage so badly does not want to fuck this up. he’s able to come up with an artificer-equivalent way of casting it – looking into a mirror and painting runes directly on his face. each symbol seems to alter something slightly about his features. he’s the same height, same facial features, black hair, human. glasses.
raja casts [disguise self] to become an elven woman with long hair.
[shad]: bishop's gonna put his pants on [charlie]: are you attuned to your pants
talmage smears the ink from his [alarm] spell before the group manages to make it down the stairs and out the back door.
talmage is on alert for birds or people watching them. he scans the trees and notices some crows. or ravens? he’s actually not sure the difference. (he’s not that goth.)
bishop notices a vale scout crouching behind one of the trees in the forest. they seem smaller than the other guards and don’t have any weapons on them. bishop corrals everyone in a different direction away from the scout.
bishop: don't look, but there's a guy in the woods bishop: right where all the birds are. bishop: stop LOOKING talmage
talmage averts his eyes. he starts loudly discussing what he had for breakfast this morning, the weather, normal conversation topics to not look suspicious.
the group avoids the main road, but walks a bit before dipping into the forest.
once in the forest, half the group hears a twig snapping behind them. luci takes a sidestep along a tree and quietly climbs up it. very casually. there’s a knife in his mouth. we assume he’s going to jump whoever is following us.
bishop suddenly turns around, trying to catch their pursuer by surprise. he can see them hidden, taking his eyes a second to adjust. the guard seems to be disguising themself with magic.
luci switches trees above, poising himself behind the guard.
bishop: what are you doing here. guard: bishop: i can see you.
they hold their hands up before reaching for their pouch, pulling out one of the black rocks that talmage had seen back at the circus. he’s not sure if it’s the same one, but they look similar. the guard sets it down on the ground before backing up.
talmage: it's the bird rock. talmage: i don't know if that was them activating it or like ... giving it up ... peacefully.
they emerge from hiding. their armor isn’t reflecting the sunlight – it seems to shimmer around it, almost like a distorted illusion. talmage realizes he’s never seen a vale guard look like this … using magic.
we realize the stone hadn’t been activated, simply placed on the ground. it’s almost hard to look at and seems to suck up all the light around it. everyone is quiet and tense for a moment.
talmage: who are you? are you friendly?
the guard touches their helmet and shakes their head, before apparently giving up and hurrying back over the the rock.
guard: fine! i'll just TAKE this!!
they pick the rock back up and start running back to where they came from. luci hits the ground in front of them, pulling his knives out, as rocco barrels forward and grabs their legs.
guard: lemme go!!! *kicking* rocco: OW guard: let me go!! just take it and let me go!!!
bishop grabs the back of their armor and lifts the guard up. raja reaches into their pocket, finding the stone, and has to make a wisdom save. her mind does a double-take – she can suddenly see through different eyes, looking down a long beak on them from above. she can switch to 7 different views, the final being a long, black desk with vaselle royal guard folders sitting atop it.
she wraps the stone in her cloak.
raja: they can use this to spy on us. bishop: i was assuming it was the birds. is it the birds? guard: *kicking* that's what the birds are for. rocco: i understand why they're disguised! because like, they're trying to help us, talmage, and if you were helping somebody on the other side you wouldn't want them to know your secret identity either because then you'd be in trouble talmage: that is very elaborate for-- we just met this person raja: why are you assuming that they are helping us. rocco: but they're giving us the stone that they've been using to spy on us! bishop: is this the only stone? guard: no, but i'm the only one who has control over this one. bishop: is that because you know magic? guard: i-- magic is illegal. bishop: so, that's a yes. guard: i-- if you're going to-- just knock me out and leave me here, they'll find me eventually, it's fine guard: or just let me go and i won't say anything, just let me go, i don't need to be here! guard: i didn't want to get CAUGHT by you, i didn't expect someone to jump out of a TREE-- talmage: what was your plan? guard: to just leave it! in the woods, where nobody would find it! raja: ... i mean that is not the most fool-proof of plans, but i suppose it works out in our favor. rocco: ... so you're not trying to help us? guard: (obviously lying) of course! not!
rocco: they're using magic - the vale don't use magic! talmage: ... we don't know that. rocco: they ... go around hunting magic users, talmage ... talmage: right. we still don't know that. rocco: so they'd hunt themselves ..? i don't understand
bishop sets the guard down; not holding them, but not removing his hand from their shoulder.
guard: are you-- are you going to let me live? bishop: we're not going to kill you. you won't tell anyone else that we were here. guard: no, no of course not! talmage: are you ... working against them? guard: i would never.
talmage realizes he recognizes the guard’s voice as the same guard talking to mr. graves back at the circus performance.
talmage: this is the one that was talking to your friend. at the circus. you were at the circus. right? guard: yes. mr. graves asked for me to look out for you. and it seems that looking out for you caused the vale to be after you. he wants to meet with you as soon as possible. guard: if anyone else had control over these birds, you'd be dead by now. you should be thankful to me. talmage: ... thanks. rocco: i wish i could thank you sir or madam or whoever you are, but i don't know your name. but i understand why you must keep it a secret!
raja suggests knocking them out.
rocco: do you wanna tie them upside-down in a tree? luci: okay. *pulls out some rope*
raja: do they know that we were here? guard: yes. that idiot used some magic when he shouldn't have. talmage: guard: and you made direct eye contact with them. with my birds. bishop: they were looking at me.
it’s the bird’s job to find and follow people using magic. the guard explains if he doesn’t have the rock, he can’t make the other guards follow them. they’re going to say it was taken from them by force. they also reveal they are one of four “summoners” in the area.
talmage: if we have it, can they track it. guard: ... if anyone would know, it's mr. graves. bishop: well, when we meet him you can return it then. guard: listen, he just paid me a lot of money when it was assigned to me-- just-- listen, take it and go talmage: do your loyalties lie with the vale or with mr. graves? bishop: i feel like it's whoever's giving him the most money. rocco: i think he feels guilty, talmage ... talmage: *under his breath* why are you--
raja insists we should leave. the guard steps back, getting a head start on everyone, before turning back to the group.
guard: i'm sorry, talmage.
they run off, image starting to shimmer and fade again.
rocco: what! raja: what. talmage: *under his breath* you bitch raja: what was that about? luci: i can probably throw a knife at him from here. talmage: uhhh-- yeah! go for it! :)
luci whips out two daggers, one getting their achilles heel and the other the back of the leg. they go down, screaming in pain.
bishop: luci!!! guard: augh!! shit!!! you asshole!!! talmage: *grimaces but doesn't really feel bad about it*
bishop runs over to the injured guard, removing the knives. talmage following close behind. he tries to remove their helmet, but the guard swats at his hands. he keeps trying. they do this for a moment. he finally yanks the helmet off, recognizing his old dorm-mate, aurabri. their hair is cleaner-cut than talmage remembers. they’re red-faced and crying from their injuries.
talmage: hhhhhhhhhhh bishop: talmage we have to go talmage: hhhhhhGGGHHH talmage: YOU BITCH!!! aurabri: GET OUT OF HERE!!! I'M TRYING TO SAVE YOUR UNGRATEFUL LIFE bishop: talmage if you don't start walking right now i will--
talmage kicks them and walks off angrily. bishop touches their face, healing them. aurabri is shocked by his healing magic.
bishop: ... you didn't see that.
bishop leaves, and the group departs quickly. he gives luci back his knives.
luci: you said for me to fuckin' stop them! you wanted to-- talmage: yeah, you-- thank you. luci: you're welcome.
the group books it through the forest. they eventually make it to the town they were meeting mr. graves at.
the town is alongside 3 intersecting rivers. the rivers spreads wide towards highkeep, where the falls are. they find “fish & bits” and mr. graves waiting at a booth. the rest of the restaurant is empty. raja casts [disguise self] on herself. rocco approaches him – mr. graves’ plate is clean aside from the pickle remaining.
graves: i saved this for you, rocco.
rocco eats the pickle.
graves: invite your ... companions in, would you? rocco: are you sure you don't wanna catch up real quick or-- graves: am i not buying them lunch?
rocco beckons the group over. the group approaches – this is the same man wearing an eye patch who attended the circus performance. he’s wearing a full three-piece suit.
rocco: this is bishop, he's really strong, he lifted a whole gate by himself and he can fl-- i'll let you explain things rocco: this is talmage, he's-- talmage: rocco: i, uh talmage: rocco: i like talmage
rocco doesn’t have much to say about talmage other than the things he probably shouldn’t say about talmage. he introduces raja, saying that she is nice. rocco explains that everyone here is his friend.
graves: are you his friend? bishop: ... i'm going to protect him. talmage: just say yes, wow
mr. graves asks if we are ready to order food – he’s already ordered rocco’s favorite. (dinosaur-shaped fish sticks)
rocco: does anyone like apple peels, by the way? cuz i don't talmage: ... just the p-- graves: it's a choking hazard.
talmage takes the apple peels. rocco realizes he forgot to introduce luci – he’s sitting at a separate table, it’s fine.
the server comes over and insinuates that four orders is a lot of food for two people – he’s respecting our privacy. rocco is confused. mr. graves suggests he’s been spending too much time at the circus.
rocco: i'm not in trouble, am i? rocco: i know i missed school, but i kinda got kidnapped bishop: you did NOT get kidnapped graves: ... you were kidnapped? rocco: i was arrested for looking at-- a ... bird ...? talmage: uh huh? rocco: ... in the ... sky. graves: talmage: *thumbs-up*
bishop asks mr. graves what he knows about summoning stones. he knows a bit about a variety of things that are dangerous and illegal. he was using this one to watch over rocco. bishop tells him that what he was doing was illegal, but mr. graves states that while the item was illegal, he was not the one using it. we try to ask where he got the stone from, but he merely offered that we apply for internships with him ourselves if we want to know more.
bishop: why were you watching rocco? graves: it's my job. rocco: i told you that! graves: good boy.
raja: why did you request the vale's help with this, rather than doing it yourself? graves: using an artifact like that is illegal. talmage: is it not if the vale does it? graves: who is going to arrest them? bishop: *whispering* me
mr. graves leans over and wipes some dirt off of rocco’s face, chiding him for not taking care of himself. he does congratulate him for doing well on his circus performance.
rocco: yeah, everyone did really well! um, the thing that happened with talmage was a mistake, and it was partially my fault anyway, so like, don't worry about it talmage: *coughing loudly*
bishop asks if mr. graves’ company works with the vale. it’s none of our concern. raja asks if aurabri, the guard spying on us, contacted him at all. they did, but only to say we were safe. they contact him using the birds.
food arrives. the atmosphere is very awkward. we discuss mr. graves’ favorite color – it’s purple. he likes cats – he has three.
graves: they will need to fed in exactly 2 hours and 22 minutes. rocco: he gets really upset if he misses their feeding schedule because they're really important to him
the cats are named chardonnay, chambord, and sparkles.
rocco: i named him sparkles because his eyes reflect the moonlight :) graves: would you like to see. *pulls out his wallet*
in his wallet are photos of rocco and another grumpy-looking lavender tiefling boy, along with photos of three different cats.
graves: this one ... is sparkles.
he puts his wallet away. rocco explains again that mr. graves works for rocco’s dad, who works at cicero.
raja asks what the political situation in vaselle right now is like.
graves: after the funeral, the new queen has been doing her most to fill many different roles. and she is doing admirably. raja: ... right. right. th-- thank you. good to know. bishop: who died?
it is common knowledge to the rest of us that the royal family had died recently – the only surviving member was the youngest princess. glendale rockfort has been assigned to the case.
rocco asks if mr. graves knows gidley – he knew them when they were much younger.
graves: it's good to see that they're using their education ... well. talmage: was that sarcasm? rocco: did gidley go to a school like mine? graves: they graduated top of their class at your school. rocco: but gidley said that they've seen hector! but not recently-- graves: yes, they were classmates together.
rocco tells mr. graves that gidley had seen hector about a year ago. rocco brainstorms what hector’s circus performance could have been.
rocco: i feel like he'd be good at the stuff that talmage is kind of good at! graves: ... burning his clothes off? talmage: *screaming internally*
bishop mentions that birds had been watching the circus for quite a while, and asks if that was his doing. it wasn’t. bishop asks who may have sent them.
graves: i do not use these magic items. bishop: but you have them. graves: i am a glorified babysitter.
mr. graves avoids answering more questions about the magic stones.
talmage: i'm more curious about: rocco, what's your plan after this meeting? talmage: are you ... allowed ... certain freedoms ..?
rocco tries to come up with a reason to not go back to school. he could say he’s studying abroad? mr. graves can arrange that if rocco has a lead to find his brother. mr. graves can also continue lying to rocco’s father about his attendance.
we ask if his birds were the only ones at the circus recently – they were not only his. also, the bear was not his.
graves: the vale guard who gave you this, is mine.
he pulls out a glowing hand mirror – the same mirror talmage had cast magic on and thrown at the creatures. he hands it back to talmage.
talmage asks if these creatures are standard around the country – if they go further, can they escape their reach? or will they just find more? the birds cannot be more than 1,000 ft. from their summoner, can only be used at night, and the vale does not have many. they are probably skeptical about the circus, but do not have proof they are using magic so cannot do anything about it.
rocco: but mr. gidley's really good at covering it up! *whispering* like when they broke talmage's ankle raja: yes, we know [emily]: literally EVERY comment you make about that FUCKIN' circus is like a STAB in my chest [charlie]: EMILY THERE IS NOT A LOT TO CHOOSE FROM OKAY, YOU ARE SO TRAUMATIZED RIGHT NOW
bishop asks if travelling with rocco will give us a pass with the vale since his dad is so important – mr. graves says he can get rocco out of trouble.
talmage: what if he asks really nicely, to you, to get us out of jail graves: how would that benefit either of us. talmage: it would benefit him ... emotionally graves: are you his friend? talmage: i would consider us friends! :)
[ashley]: is that the truth? [emily]: i ... think ... WELL [shad]: i don't think talmage considers him and rocco friends [emily]: i think that because talmage doesn't have friends right now, admitting that is worse than admitting that you're my friend [emily]: i think he would rather be like, *whining* "i have friends, rocco's my friend!"
bishop asks why hector is even missing. is he in trouble? no … he was bullied a lot in school. he takes things personally. he probably ran away because he was angry and unhappy. he never told rocco why he left, he wanted to be somewhere he could be accepted.
graves: nothing made your brother angrier than being second in his class.
luci suddenly spins around from his booth next to them.
luci: why do you wanna find that bitch anyways? he's the worst rocco: well, he's my brother, luci! i love him luci: you're WAY better than he'll ever be rocco: i don't know if i should accept that as a compliment or not ... luci: you SHOULD, he's the WORST rocco: *whispering to mr. graves* to be fair, i haven't seen mr. luci makes friends with anybody
luci says he was at the circus since the beginning. hector came by, sucked at everything. tried management, wasn’t good at that either. and then left because the circus “couldn’t see him for the star he was.”
he apparently didn’t bring the best out in others. luci wouldn’t be surprised if he was in jail by now.
luci: he said he was looking for someone. i don't know, i didn't ask - i didn't really like it when he would go off on his speeches about how the world should be. gidley listened sometimes - wyn listened more than others. rocco: i have a lead, he's in vaselle! thanks luci! :) luci: *embarrassed*
bishop asks mr. graves to stop spying on them – he’s looking out for rocco.
rocco: you don't have to come with but it would be nice if you did! talmage: no, yeah, i wouldn't mind coming with! :) rocco: ok! i wanna help you guys out too! rocco: and talmage already found a friend in the forest! raja: was that a friend? rocco: he recognized them! raja: is that what you'd call them? graves: do you know them? talmage: ... well, i called them a bitch, i don't know if that indicates friendship bishop: they seemed very unfriendly towards one another rocco: an enemy, you found an enemy raja: it's hard to tell with talmage. talmage: i know them. graves: they've been on my payroll loyally. talmage: i hear you paid them quite a bit. graves: i did. bishop: who are they? talmage: last i saw them, we weer classmates ... but apparently they're ... bishop: do they work for you or the vale? graves: they work for the vale. i do not work for the vale. i work for rocco's father. talmage: ... are they one of those summoners? one of the select few in the area? bishop: he could use the stone. talmage: right i know i just wanted to hear him say it graves: do you know what the vale does to the mages they take away? talmage: ... i thought i did.
mr. graves hands talmage a small, purple gift.
talmage: what is this. graves: do you not want it? [emily]: are there traps on it. *rolls a natural 1*
talmage 100% believes this is a magical tracking device.
inside is a small, pink patch. it is designed to cover the brand on the back of talmage’s neck. it lasts one week after applied and covers the bright light.
rocco: thank you mr. graves! *whispering to talmage* thank mr. graves graves: rocco, your manners are very good. graves: use a wet wipe.
graves: that vale scout is in the same predicament as many other people from some rather unfortunate places, and don't have a choice. i gave them an opportunity to help pay back some harm they did when they asked. graves: i worked for the vale for 200 years. i know quite a bit about them, and i'm much happier taking care of rocco than i was working for them. graves: they're not people to cross. so stay out of their way. and they're stronger than you think. talmage: they're trying to hit all the schools, right? graves: i'm not. a magic user. but i've killed a few in my day.
mr. graves’ only concern right now is keeping rocco and hector safe. it’s revealed hector knows magic, but did not know until very late in life. and very suddenly. he has a preference for fire and mind-bending.
mr. graves implies he knows what raja’s situation is, calling her an “interesting character.” rocco thinks maybe raja and hector might know each other and derails the conversation.
we find out hector is wanted by the vale – he has a high bounty. we find out we all have a bounty as well. mr. graves offers to pay it off for us.
talmage: if his brother gets, caught - you imply that if rocco were to get into trouble, you could easily get him out of it graves: rocco's a good boy. talmage: right, clearly his brother is not, would you have the same ability to get him out of trouble?
he would not. hector is in over his head, and would refuse his help anyway. apparently there was someone in vaselle that he was close to – aedith.
rocco: i didn't know he had a friend graves: your brother is not-- i apologize; you have many more friends than he does. rocco: aw, that's kinda sad ... but he's my friend! so that means he has at least one. graves: and he's lucky to have you.
mr. graves gives rocco his allowance. mr. graves says he’s going to bring in proof of all of our deaths – we question how successful that would be.
graves: i have a very skilled illusionist in my firm. you've met them. talmage: hm. rocco: oh, your schoolmate? did they know illusion magic? cuz they were really well-hidden
talmage is curious how easy it would be to contact aurabri.
rocco: talmage ... you're not gonna try to hurt them, are you? bishop: talmage. talmage: *makes a pained expression* bishop: talmage. rocco: i know it was luci who threw the knives, but you kinda sicced him on them, you know, like a dog ... talmage: it was very spur of the moment-- luci: i'm not a dog!!! talmage: --it was very heated, i just reacted
mr. graves reminds us not to use magic in front of the vale. talmage searches for leftovers among the table – mr. graves offers another round of food for everyone.
rocco: see! mr. graves is really nice! he bought all of you guys food, and paid off your bounties, and is helping you pretend that you're dead! talmage: all traits of a good babysitter
bishop asks if mr. graves knows who kairos is – he does. they came to see him about a year ago. apparently kairos has been traveling around performing miracles.
rocco: is your friend a god? bishop: why is that your first reaction to everything, rocco rocco: you have angel wings! bishop: i'm an aasimar, they just DO rocco: *whispering* ass-imar graves: rocco! language.
apparently kairos was also asking around for someone that matches bishop’s description. he seemed afraid that bishop might be following him.
graves: do i have to be afraid, too? bishop: no. rocco: *whispering* bishop is really good bishop: i won't let anything happen to rocco, if that's what you're worried about. graves: i am. i've made that clear. rocco: *whispering* bishop is friend-shaped
talmage asks if there’s any paperwork or signifying items that they could show to people to let them know his dad is important. mr. graves removes a ring and hands it to rocco. it’s a family ring.
rocco: hector had one, but i don't know if he wore his all the time ... graves: your brother threw his at my face when he left. rocco: oh ... is this one his, or is this one yours? graves: that one's yours, you asked me to hold onto it.
mr. graves gets up, announcing he must now go feed his cats.
graves: if anything happens to him, i will know. graves: i worked as an assassin for the vale for 200 years.
apparently mr. graves killed the big cat that had been stalking us. its teeth are in rocco’s room, as a gift.
we have one month to find hector. we are to update mr. graves on whatever we find.
graves: i also want to know his circus act, and i want him to perform it for me when he returns.
before leaving, mr. graves gives us a task to complete before he agrees to pay off our bounties. occasionally he would put rocco through little fetch quests to sharpen his skills – he needs us to find a staff hidden in the underground cave network in the western half of highkeep. he will meet us there later.
he leaves. luci lets out a loud sigh, and pulls out a knife.
luci: he slipped this into my pocket when i walked in, and i didn't even fucking notice it! i've been sitting here wondering where this knife came from!! IT'S BIG bishop: and you didn't notice that? luci: no! did you?! bishop: it wasn't my pocket
talmage suggests there might be a tracking device in the knife since there’s one in his bandage. raja asks to see the patch – she convinces him even if it does have tracking on it, we shouldn’t be worried. he’s already tracking rocco.
luci: its a good thing he likes you and your brother talmage: we're gonna find your brother, rocco! together. because we're all friends [charlie]: i hate you so much emily
luci complains about not wanting to see hector again. he showed off a lot in the circus. he used fire magic and would attempt to compel the audience with mind-bending abilities. he had a lot of speeches prepared regarding how tieflings are treated.
luci: he always had so many fucking books he kept being like, "oh, luci, carry them," and i was like NO
we all dig through our bags – raja had been slipped a letter sealed with the royal seal of vaselle. she looks extremely pissed off and later burns it. bishop asks to borrow luci’s knife, who kisses it before handing it to him. he uses it to cut his pants into lorts.