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joaquin: so arnam might be a bad guy and havi helped us figure that out today.
havi: it wasn't a date
joaquin: it was a big self-sacrifice.

areli asks joaquin’s sister, cameron, to inspect the contract he signed with the masked man.

cameron: if you sign this, you will be completely bound and subjugated to the will of whoever holds this piece of paper.
areli: can't that be like ... illegal. somehow

cameron explains areli is being paid VERY well compared to normal bard pay, but the situation leaves him vulnerable. she says there’s not a lot areli can do to break the contract. she calls joaquin out on understating their previous run-in with the dwarf cult. it apparently caused issues.

areli goes to find arnam to flirt with him and get more information. havi comes with to watch. the 3 approach his office. joaquin & havi notices arnam shuffling some papers around.

areli: so havi told me that your hair wasn't always white
arnam: that is true.
joaquin: areli wants to do that with his hair and wants to know how you did it to make it look so good :)
arnam: oh! it wasn't actually a choice.
arnam: i had a moment of intense emotional revelation when i went on a spiritual journey north.
arnam: it was jarring and a little traumatic for me, and my hair turned white as a result.

havi gets the feeling arnam is lying.

havi: could you maybe tell us that story?
havi: i've been wanting to catch up, anyway.
arnam: havi, i would love to catch up sometime.
havi: i figure we could get lunch or something?
arnam: that would be great.
havi: this is so weird
havi: i want to say it isn't, but it's really weird
arnam: *laughs* it is certainly strange seeing you after all these years.
arnam: you've grown.
arnam: how is ... tanum?
havi: he's ... tanum!
havi: ... we had a bit of a falling out? but we're fine now.
arnam: well that's good. so often those sorts of things can bring friends together.
havi: yeah. uh.
havi: let's go to lunch!
havi: what are you doing right now?
arnam: i'm--
havi: because actually i just realized we're going to head out soon and i don't know when i'll get to talk to you next ...
joaquin: it would mean a lot to him, since you guys are old friends.
arnam: well, alright, i suppose i could.
arnam: are your friends joining us? you're welcome to.

arnam tries to convince joaquin & areli to come with.  havi casts message on joaquin.

havi: i'm sorry i don't know what he's doing
joaquin: tell me to go do something else
havi: i mean if you don't want to come with ...
joaquin: don't you want some privacy?
arnam: havi ... do you want to go out to lunch? or do you just want to order something in?
havi: ... out? to lunch?

arnam shuts and locks the door to his office, and him & havi leave to have lunch. areli & joaquin try to get into his office.

havi & arnam are at a public open-air restaurant. arnam orders a salad.

arnam: so what did you want to talk about?
havi: OH i don't know, i just wanted to catch up - it's been how many years?
arnam: oh gosh, at least ten. what have you been up to?
arnam: i've only heard bits and pieces of the adventures you've all been on.
havi: ha ha ha ... those
havi: i mean ... prior to all that things were pretty ... normal. i mean, as normal as you can get with ... tanum around.
havi: we kept with our shop idea, brought that to life. a lot of people approached us looking for specific things and we had a pretty good collection going!
arnam: that's fantastic. and then you just ... decided that wasn't enough?
havi: UH. tanum, more or less, decided ... for me.
havi: he sold everything.
arnam: oh, so he just up and left it all behind?
havi: yeah! yup!! that's what he did!!!

havi ponders the fact that their house is definitely being rented out to someone right now.

arnam: so everything down on the lower plane? gosh, what happened there? i've only heard snippets.
havi: ... what did you hear?
arnam: i heard that a mysterious band of elves and men destroyed a large part of lower new chasm. and robbed a bank.
arnam: ... we DO have intelligence agents.
havi: ... it was for a very good reason.

havi realizes clint filed a report on us.

arnam: why was it?
havi: we ... needed ... to break a curse.
arnam: what was your curse?
havi: aside from ... tanum, we got a little wrapped up in someone's idea of a joke.
havi: ... i was turned into a woman
arnam: ..... so you broke into a bank?
arnam: ... and you couldn't just ... find a counterspell?
havi: no.
arnam: ... and so why did you need to break into a bank?
arnam: why didn't you go to the mage's college?
havi: we did, and were basically laughed at.
arnam: really. so this was a powerful enchantment?
havi: yeah, and i had done my research. that thing was not budging.

havi explains how the heal stones were able to fix their curses. arnam pulls out a necklace with a gem in it.

arnam: oh, you needed one of these?
havi: WE DID.
havi: we did. yeah. really badly we needed. about. three of those.
arnam: *laughs* well, you could have just come to me!
havi: I DIDN'T KNOW YOU-- i didn't know that was a h-- i didn't know that's what we were looking for--

areli goes to cameron to ask how they can get into arnam’s office.

areli: he's being really ... suspicious
cameron: what do you mean suspicious.
areli: every time i've asked him about the war he's seemed very avoidant
cameron: of course he is, he's a council member. why should he tell you anything?

areli returns to outside arnam’s office with joaquin.

arnam: so, how are the clerical arts going?
havi: i've been studying less of my religious teachings and more ... personal magic.
arnam: really?
havi: yeah, i've been opening my eyes to--
arnam: some of the less traditional forms?
havi: yeah!
arnam: like what?
havi: mostly wizard magic.
arnam: ... alright.
arnam: i just didn't know if you meant ... less traditional as in less religious, or less traditional as in ... extra-planar summoning or ... necromancy.
havi: NOOO ... not dabbling in any of that, no. not-- no.
arnam: no? probably for the best.
havi: yeah ... i mean. it's definitely interesting to me.
arnam: really?
havi: from an academic perspective. not so much--
arnam: oh.

arnam looks disappointed.

havi: why, have ... you? looked into ... that kind of magic? read up on it? as well?
arnam: no, i mean ... it's exotic, sure. i've heard stories about it like anyone has.
arnam: my time has been spent studying the works of my god.
havi: can you elaborate on those studies? what made you take such a drastic turn?
havi: because i remember you being quite the ... different ... little rascal.
[shad]: you mean ASSHOLE

arnam begins speaking in a hushed tone.

arnam: well ... i'll tell you. i went on a journey north because i felt like my life here lacked adventure and purpose.
arnam: i wanted to see something amazing and had always heard the mountains and dragons there are incredible.
havi: ... did you encounter a dragon?
arnam: i did. and ... there was a bright light that protected me. the voice that issued from the light was aurifar. i never saw their face. i never witnessed their form, but i could feel the energy coming from them.
arnam: and it was an experience unlike anything else. it was comforting, it was warm.
arnam: i just want to be able to give that same sense of safety to all of my people.

havi is … unconvinced. he can sense that’s not what happened, but it’s hard to tell where he’s lying. arnam probably did see a dragon and it spooked him a little. their date ends and they part ways.

areli realizes if he can see inside the room, he can cast mage hand inside the room. he goes outside to the window outside arnam’s office. areli tries to be casual about it and casts mage hand inside the room. he moves the hand to grab the papers that were on arnam’s desk and pushes them underneath the door to joaquin.

the papers are mostly administrative reports, but at the bottom of the stacks areli finds manuscripts to spells joaquin doesn’t recognize. he works to quickly copy the spells onto his own paper. he slides the papers back under and areli puts the papers back on the desk.

arnam returns to his office. he greets joaquin, unlocks his door and steps inside. he briefly makes eye contact with areli outside the window. areli freezes. joaquin and arnam exchange some words, and joaquin leaves.

joaquin bumps into curtis on the way out of a council meeting. he asks him if he’s free. joaquin wants to talk about many things. he has a list.

he wants to know more about curtis. curtis was born in litor, but had many friends in quarmar. curtis reveals he wasn’t a mercenary, but he led other mercenaries. he claims to be a brilliant tactician, but didn’t always have a noble purpose. joaquin talks about how sad he is.

they talk about tactical military shit. our plan so far is to take out the bridge linking litor & quarmar.  joaquin talks about how sad he is.

curtis says he hasn’t felt useful to the group yet and he’s glad joaquin talked to him.

havi returns to wherever they’re staying. he’s sitting cross-legged & flipping through the book havi gave him.

tanum: hey havi!
havi: so NOW you're reading the book
tanum: it's SO good
havi: how's your training going?
tanum: it's going so well ... it just feels good to, you know, be able to cast magic and--
tanum: i mean, i'm learning but SOMETIMES the right spell comes out, but i'm getting BETTER-- it just feels so satisfying to see progress, i haven't-- i haven't--
tanum: it's been YEARS havi, since i've ... been able to do anything right!!!!! *laughs*

havi has realized over time that tanum was never really good at being a wizard. he is confused about, if tanum had always been a sorcerer and not a wizard, what the mysterious wizard cast on him all those years ago. (if it wasn’t a curse). he seems to remember his name was nicodemus, so he makes a note to look into that.

we can infer nicodemus not only “cursed” tanum, but may have been responsible for our cursed rings.

havi: unrelated:
tanum: yeah?
havi: i never did get the story of how you ended up in cahoots with lia and ... that ... gang
tanum: WELL.
havi: so i think that would make for a great story!
tanum: HMM.

havi pulls up a chair, sits down, and crosses his legs. tanum closes his book. the birds near him fly away.

tanum: well, i was really broke. and i was in windfast, and i was gonna sell off the last couple things i had with me that were magic and had value.
tanum: and i was talking to a fence and they were veeery curious if i could get more items like that, and i told them that i could probably find some, and they gave me a really good price, so i took it upon myself to get a couple more things from the mage's college--
havi: "get"?
tanum: yes.
havi: i'm not judging!!!
tanum: i was gonna say ...
havi: go on.
havi: *laughs* i'm not judging you!
tanum: i know about the special shelf on your collection!!!
havi: i HAD a special shelf--
tanum: it's still there!

havi can infer tanum didn’t sell EVERYTHING – he just took what he needed to make his way.

havi: i thought-- i mean, you made it sound like you got rid of everything.
tanum: well i ... got rid of a LOT of stuff ...
tanum: but not everything!
tanum: the stuff that matters is still there.
tanum: anyway, i came back with more magic stuff, and he put me in touch with this girl who ended up being, kind of, my go-to person, and we started talking to some of the dwarves, and then she and i both got in WAY over our heads way quicker than we wanted to, and then ... one thing after another you're getting your heart carved out in front of a wizard who's painting all sorts of symbols on it ...
tanum: and yeah, it just all went downhill from there!
havi: clearly
havi: i feel like.
havi: i feel like once you get to the heart part of this? something would've clicked, like, maybe i shouldn't, maybe i should get out of here--
tanum: i mean yeah, but
tanum: havi, like you always told me, hindsight is 20/20.
havi: ... you're off-limits now, right? they don't have-- you're good?
tanum: i am clean
havi: well GOOD because i don't want to have to deal with that again

the room gets a little dark. havi gives tanum a side hug. tanum tickles him. havi kicks back.

havi: when this is all done ... maybe we could ... check the place out again?
tanum: yeah!
havi: people are there right now, right?
tanum: mhm! it's being rented out - being taken care of.

they talk about how tanum left the house to a manager so he doesn’t know who is currently living in their home.

joaquin tries to decipher the notes he stole from arnam’s office. he brings them to havi & he learns they are papers for imbuing a spell of soul-sealing into a sword.

havi: where did you get this?
joaquin: off arnam's desk.
areli: yeah, while you guys were out on your little date.
havi: it wasn't a date
joaquin: it was kind of a date.
areli: it was a date
havi: regardless--
tanum: *from upstairs* WHAT
areli: it was totally a date

something upstairs fall onto the floor, we hear shuffling, and tanum runs in. joaquin approaches tanum and slings an arm around him.

joaquin: so arnam might be a bad guy and havi helped us figure that out today.
havi: it wasn't a date
joaquin: it was a big self-sacrifice.