Rasmus and Co. Inquiries. Part I
More active than that other TS!
A a warm midday was approaching in Cademia, and the group of adventurers had spent a good part of their reward eating their fill at the local markets.
"Oh.." Grunted Anonymous grabbing his swollen belly, "It appears I've eaten too much, haha!"
Rasmus felt sick walking around with the currently jiggling masses of adventures, This is like traveling with a heard of land jellies! he thought.
Pirror let out a burp, "Oh excuse me. Hehe, don't worry Anonymous," he said with a hearty grin, "It's good to indulge every once and a while, especially after a lot of hard work!" The fighter turned to the sickly bard and slapped him on the shoulder, "Isn't that right Razzy boy?"
Rasmus jumped in shock, "Don't touch me!" he hissed. He hoped that fat was a disease that couldn't spread by touch, as he furiously brushed off the shoulder that had been contaminated.
The group bantered through the city streets all the way to Dares's Eatery. They took seats at a double table and all ordered non-alcoholic drinks, except for Rasmus that is.
"Uh, aren't you a bit young for that, kid?" Alon ask the bard, giving him a skeptical glance.
"Are you kidding? Wherever the Gigolo goes, the party follows!" Rasmus laughed, followed by a small oh yeah! under his breath.
Erica sighed, Alon sighed, Zak sig- They all sighed. Some of them thought that even if he was old enough, it seemed a bit early in he day regardless.
The group sat and drank, talking about their recent adventure, about how they had fun, or were scared. Ideas and discussion of their next step floated around the table, however, while everyone talked of possibilities, the question of the team staying together was a sad thought quietly occupying the back of their minds.
Rasmus, before loud and energetic, now sat quiet and reserved, staring into his glass of Catamarca's not quite finest wine. He was sure the others had their reasons for staying together, after all he joined late. Surely before he came along, these people must have already become a tight knit group, surely. It was a sad fact to Rasmus for reasons he couldn't explain..
"BUT HEY!" He announced, interrupting the current conversation of who was the loudest snorer. The rest of the group shot Rasmus a strange look, who was now turning red with embarrassment.
"Uh.. oh, uh yeah...." Rasmus stood, thinking of how to get out of this.
The group was silent accept for Zak, "Oh! Down the hall, make a right, second door. Be sure to wash your hands for a good 60 seconds or else there's a possibility you could die from infection!"
The group fell more silent. Alon jumped in, "Uh anyways, I think the most beautiful place we visited was..."
Rasmus followed Zak's directions. On the journey he fell back to his previous thoughts, But hey, I'm Gigolo, world renowned playboy and entertainer, right? And now that I'm back in Cademia, I can get back to going after my dream. The inexperienced bard sighed, Then why do I feel so bad about it all?
He made his way back to to his seat. It looked like the conversation had mellowed down again. It was growing dark outside. Rasmus listened in on the others.
"So then what is the next step?" Pirror asked the ever attentive Anonymous.
"That's easy!" He said with a swing of his glass, "There's still those ruffians on the loose, wasn't there that ghost town too? Who knows what kind of amazing things lie in there?"
"Hm." Alon sighed, "I'm not so sure kids."
Kids? Rasmus thought, taking a sip. Just who does this guy think he is?
"Have something to say, Alon?" Erica asked.
"Well," the rogue stated plainly, propping his elbows on the table, "honestly I don't know how all of you feel, but this operation does seem a bit much now doesn't it?"
No one seemed willing to reply.
"Even this last adventure, it took forever and for only 200 oboloi? Split between seven people? Honestly, I could make better money street performing. I think with the way things are going, I might have other matters to attend to."
The group was quiet at Alon's grim words, then Zak spoke up, "Th-there were a lot of nasty things out there... and besides, I don't know if my healing magic’s strong enough for all this.. I mean how long could we survive?" he quickly calculated the odds, "Oh the numbers don't look good, and we barely made it away from those ruffians if I can remember through the fear!"
Rasmus interrupted the healer's worrying. "Ha!" he shouted finishing his glass of wine, "A good observation you two. I guess we're all in the same boat, eh? After all," Rasmus stood and put his right foot onto the chair, swung his harp around and announced, "The Gigolo is back in town, ladies." He struck a pose and hit a (flat) chord on his harp.
"Call the guard!" Pirror jested.
"HA-HA." Rasmus retorted sarcastically, "Go ahead and laugh but I'm quite well known around here, and once I get my funds up again, I'll be leaving for Catamarca. Thanks all of you for getting me back safe, but maybe it's time I broke away as well. After all, a shining star such as myself needs the entire cosmos to grow ," the bard said, grabbing his chin and winking.
"Call the guard!" Pirror jested again. The table echoed in laughter.
"Don't try coming to ask me for favors when I'm famous!" The Gigolo warned angrily while taking his seat. "I'll come back to this city, rich! Maybe I'll even buy that dump of a building for 10,000 oboloi, you'll see!"
"That's it!" exclaimed Anonymous as he rose from his seat. "Perhaps we've been thinking too grand with our plans for the future, and perhaps we could make our selves more grounded, with a realistic idea! I propose that we buy that house, and use it as a base of operations. We could take quests big and small, whoever wanted to help could take whatever job they wanted! Just as long as they help to keep the establishment going that is."
The group was surprised by the idea. It wasn't bad but... "How are we going to come up with that much oboloi?" Feoras said bluntly.
"I'm sure we can come up with some type of payment plan or some such, maybe a pay as you go situation?" Anonymous answered (proud of his planning ability level 5).
The group seemed to be wrapped in thought, some wanting to turn down the offer, some wanting to take it up. Everyone had their excuses for staying or leaving and it was becoming apparent to all of them.
"Listen," Anonymous reasoned, "Sleep on it! No pressure! Tomorrow morning I'll go and talk to the man selling the property, anyone can come with me if they want, or join later if they desire as you've all proven your selves to be quite the adventurers. Remember that, and enjoy yourselves tonight! After all, tonight we're real adventures! We've done what heroes before us have done, and we should take pride in that."
Smiles and good feelings returned to the now candle lit table. The night enveloped the mother city and the adventures slowly left one by one, all saying good bye, hoping it wouldn't be the last time they did so.
Rasmus kicked rocks as he walked down the beaten paths of the city. The wine was starting to wear off and he thought about Anonymous's proposal with a bit more clarity. He laughed, "I guess Rasmus and Co. Inquiries has a nice ring to it. Though.." he pulled his harp around to take a look at it, he let out a small sigh, "Oh Mom."
A moon slowly began to set over Cademia's starlit sky, laying the framework of the heroes’ dreams in its wake.
This post has been edited by Two Jacks : 18 June 2012 - 10:07 PM
Reason for edit: Removed inappropriate content
The next morning, Feoras joined Anonymous and the others (I hope there's others!) to talk to Antenor about his building. Feoras hadn't considered not sticking with the group - he enjoyed their adventure and was eager for more. Besides, he didn't particularly have anywhere else to go.
Presently they came to Antenor's house, where they found Antenor sitting idly at his table, looking introspective.
"Mister Antenor?" spoke up Anonymous.
"We're interested in the building you have for sale."
"Unfortunately, I already sold it to a man named Bellerophon. Dunno why he left the sign up..."
"Bellerophon?" asked Anonymous. "The guy who saved Alaric & then disappeared without a trace?"
"Yes-" Antenor paused for a few moments, looking thoughtful. "I mean, no. Different guy. Actually I had to foreclose on it, so if you're interested, I can cut you a bargain of 10,000 oboloi. Do we have a deal?"
"Um, no-" began Anonymous.
"Well, that's probably for the best, it's quite expensive," said Antenor definitively.
"No, we are interested," said Anonymous in frustration.
"But you don't have 10,000 oboloi!" observed Antenor.
Anonymous was starting to lose his cool, so Feoras cut in. "We can pay you in installments. We're already successful businessmen, we just need a place to work out of."
Antenor stared silently for several seconds. "I'm just not sure you're good for it," he said finally.
"But we just saved the economy from total collapse!" exclaimed Feoras.
Antenor shrugged. "Do you have any references...?"
In the end, after getting a reference from Matron Thuria, Antenor reluctantly agreed to rent them the house, but warned them that they'd better not miss a payment.
They cheered and ran over to their new house to check it out, opened the door and...
"Huh," said Feoras.
"We're doomed," said Anonymous.
The floor was totally coated in flour, not counting the far corner which was heaped with a quivering pile of debris.
"We're doomed." Anonymous repeated, "The ratlizards infesting that pile of debris will poison us to death! There's no hope for escape &/or cure!"
"I don't think ratlizards know how to lure their prey with calls for help." quoth Feoras, "no matter how muffled."
Anonymous was speechless as Feoras crossed over & pulled away the debris revealing Pirro, bound, half-gagged & ling in what appeared to be a very uncomfortable position. It was not difficult for Feoras to cut the bindings.
"What happened to you? I thought you were just late getting to breakfast at Dares."
"No, I've been tied up here all morning," responded Pirro, rubbing the filth from his face, "Is Rasmus with you guys, or has Razzle Dazzle decided to go back to pursuing the life he incessantly vaunts?"
"After much argument," began Anonymous, "I was finally able too convince him-"
Ahem "More to the point," interrupted Feoras, "What were you doing tied up in here?"
"Well... umm... earlier this morning I was walking by the seashore, & heard a complete amateur practicing his harping skills, when it occurred to me that it might be Rasmus. I was feeling that perhaps I had been boisterous to the point of being a bit rude to him last night, & maybe I should apologize. I was just rounding the mesa, which he was sitting by, (it was Razz, I can't imagine him getting up that early, so he was probably sitting there all night,) when zhoup I was surrounded by glowing purple cords & hit my head on the floor here."
Rasmus couldn't sleep that night, he felt like his whole world had been thrown out of perspective. He couldn't see his dreams clearly anymore, 'Gigilo! World renown playboy!'
As he sat on the river banks near Cademia, he strummed his harp. The awkward chords and melodies would not turn into the beautiful serenades he heard in his mind. In anger he thrashed its strings with a might twang, and put it to rest.
"What in Cythera does it matter?!" He cried out at his reflection staring back from the water's edge.
Rasmus took his leave of the river and ventured back into the streets of Cademia. It wasn't long before an old acquaintance spotted him roaming around.
Rasmus noticed him first, but was in no mood to talk to the man. Calix was his name, and wherever a celebration was springing up, he was sure to be found. Calix stumbled out of the tavern where Rasmus and his companions had been earlier, clearly the atmosphere had changed since then. Calix dropped his cup of wine in jest of the bland humor Rasmus knew him to enjoy. Calix stood regaining his breath now, Rasmus knew there was no avoiding this social parasite.
"Rasmus! My my, it's been ages!" Calix was overbearing as usual, getting a bit too close to Rasmus as he spoke, "And how has the famous Gigilo been faring? Wild tales of our lovely counterparts no doubt!" Calix laughed insistently on this point, as if he knew what Rasmus had really been through.
Rasmus felt rage building inside him (especially his clenched fist), but then Rasmus also knew how to deal with people like Calix. Bottling how he really felt, Rasmus but on a false, lovable grin, "Haha! Oh yes! Those miners sure know how to party! I never did thank you for referring me to that agent, old friend!" Rasmus said gleefully with a not so gleeful slap on Calix's shoulder.
"Ouch!" Calix shrieked, clutching his head in his daze, then his shoulder, "Hey now, hey now.. How did I know his placement skills? I only heard talk that's all. No need to get violent!" said Calix, batting his lashes in front of puppy dog eyes, "OR call me OLD!" He said laughing and grabbing Rasmus again, this time pulling him into the tavern.
"H-Hey wait! I'm not in the mood for a party!" Rasmus pleaded, but Calix's grip was too strong.
"Wow those miners must have changed you more than I thought! Now come on, you're back! Let's celebrate!"
Rasmus heard Gigilo called out more than his actual name now. He fell in with the crowd, forgetting his troubles in a blissful spiral.
Before he knew it, he had drank a drink too many. Calix seemed to appear out of the crowd at just the right time now.
"Calix! Friend! I'm not feeling t-..t.." Rasmus paused, stared at his hand, made a fist and then lifted his thumb and index finger, "too good, take me out of here!"
Calix smiled mischievously, "My thoughts exactly comrade! It's too quiet here, though I know where we ought to be!" Calix grabbed Rasmus's wrist once more, and in a daze he was whisked out of the bustling tavern and down into the lonesome slums of Cademia.
Rasmus felt cold and confused.. and drunk. He knew strange things went on in the slums at night, but had never actually sought them out. Corridor after corridor Rasmus was pulled until they suddenly stopped in a dark alley with a ominous blue torch burning at the back wall, illuminating the desolate corridor ever so softly. "We're here!" Calix said excitedly.
"Just be quiet!"
Calix looked around suspiciously then pushed a slot on the wall left of the torch. The inside was void of much light, and Rasmus couldn't make anything out with his foggy vison. After a moment he didn't feel Calix pulling him anymore, and all he could hear was strange music unlike anything he had heard before. The world blurred, Rasmus bumped against people and things...
SPLASH "Oh sorry! I didn't see you there!" A young woman said to Rasmus and then walked away. Rasmus felt something cold running down his face, "Water?" it was sweet and burned his throat, "Wine!" Suddenly he remembered where he was, or at least where he wasn't. The music was still playing, he hadn't moved that far, but where was Calix? Rasmus cried out for slippery fellow; moments later the young man appeared, "Well now sleepy head! Finally ready to join the party? And might I add, that no one parties like mages party!" Calix noted, stretching his arms out as if to show his poor friend what he's been missing.
Rasmus followed his compatriot's advice, and seemed to lose himself again with Calix and the crowd, moving around the room in a flood of music.
CRASH Rasmus and Calix hit the slums dusty roads hard with an unforgiving thump.
"Yeah-well I could throw a better party than that any day of the week!" yelled Calix at the bouncer now closing the door.
"Haha! Rasmus that was unbelievable! It's so good to have you back friend! Brother!" The fanciful man walked around for a moment cheering for no apparent reason.
"Glad to see you haven't changed too much Calix," Rasmus said with a laugh. "Tch!" Rasmus cried out feeling a wet spot on his head, "Blood?" the gigilo froze, "Blood! My blood! No!"
Calix rushed over to Rasmus, "What are you on about? That's a joke in poor taste my friend!"
"I'm bleeding! On my high place!"
Calix wasn't so cheery now, "Well! I don't know, don't touch it! It'll be fine let's just go."
Calix went to lift Rasmus up off the street but dropped him in surprise at the sound of a large man's voice.
"What's this now? Looks like we got some fancy looking ladies out tonight."
Rasmus and Calix turned to see three ruffians staring them down. The one in front had a terrible look in his eyes, as well as a equally terrible-looking club in his hand.
"Whoa now, looks like these aren't ladies after all. Just boys dressed as ones." The large ruffian jested, with his two lackeys laughing almost identically. "If that's the case then I think you two can just hand over all your belongings- right now."
"We've got nothing!" Calix yelped stumbling backwards.
"That's great news, because you see, I just got this club... and I've been dying to test it out."
Fright and terror struck the the two boys' minds.
"Get 'em boys." and at those words the two ruffians standing behind their leader rushed forward.
"We've got to go NOW Rasmus!" Calix screamed running down the alley as fast as he could.
Rasmus didn't have enough time to escape! Within moments of staggering off the ground he was being pulled back by the slimy ruffians.
"Hehe, you sure it's not a girl?" one of them wheezed.
Rasmus turned and cocked his fist, "Yeah well I'm not sticking around for you to find out!" and slammed it into the ruffians ugly face freeing himself from his grip. A quick jab in the throat made the ruffian stumble for a moment giving Rasmus just enough time to run off before the bigger one got too close.
Rasmus darted around a corner and stopped to catch his breath. As he stood panting, clutching his chest, he listened carefully, waiting to see if he had lost them.
Nothing? he thought with relief.
Crick "Do you see them?" Rasmus heard whispered in the distance.
"Keep looking, the small one would have had to come through here to get out." he heard spoken in a much deeper voice.
Rasmus was beginning to panic again when something he dared not look for so long caught his eye. In front of him was the estate he had once reluctantly called home. Owned and ruled over by his terrible uncle.
He heard the scoundrels approaching, he had no choice. Quickly he hopped the gate, quietly as he could, and then ducked into a bush on his uncle's property.
"You heard that too?" one of the ruffians spoke.
"Yeah, but I don't see anything."
Rasmus heard a whistle from the distance, then the ruffian spoke once more. "Quick, a guard's coming round!"
The ruffians scurried back into the unlit back alleyways and corridors of the slums and Rasmus was left alone, trapped in his uncle's estate, in a rush childhood memories he cursed.
Rasmus sat in the front garden for a good while, staring at the old regal house. The sun began to rise. The sounds of the mother city beginning to bustle with it's daytime inhabitants could be heard.
Rasmus was weak, slightly bleeding, and hungover, he had no choice, no matter how terrible, but to go home.
His uncle's study was as clean as ever, it was always the most stunning feature to Rasmus. Honestly, the maids should get paid more for this , he thought. Slowly he drifted back to reality.
"...mean look at you. Half to death, drunk, who knows what else," his uncle scoffed. "It's no wonder you left, just like your father." Rasmus cringed, "My poor sister deserved better than the likes of you two. She should have listened to me, now she's dead. I suppose it serves her-"
"Don't you dare!" Rasmus screamed, slamming his bedraggled fist the polished desk of his uncle's.
"Hmpf. Regardless of your bloodline," is uncle noted, glaring intently at the mark Rasmus's hand had left, "I still have a duty to my sister. So I've arranged for you to enroll at Pnyx. Perhaps they can shape this terrible mess you call a life."
"I won't go!"
His uncle coughed in surprise, "Won't go? This isn't exactly cheep to set-up, what with your circumstances. You will go, or you will be cut off. Do you understand? I have endured enough of your father's foolishness, and I shall accept none from you."
"I don't care, cut me off then!" Rasmus hated the way his uncle spoke of his mother, as if he knew her better than he did, or better than he thought he did, "My mother would have wanted me to follow my dreams, not yours! I know it!" Rasmus argued, grabbing his harp and heading for the door.
"You're a fool, just like your mother! Do you realize this? That father of yours has poisoned this family, just like he did my sister!"
Rasmus turned to face his uncle, his face filled with rage. The bard spoke in a blind anger with words he couldn't keep under control. "She didn't die because of him! She died because of you! Because you cut her off and we had nothing! You killed her! You're just a damn monster! Do you realize?! And I hope I never have the rotten luck of seeing you again!"
His uncle was dumbfounded, and in the silence Rasmus took his leave back into the welcoming arms of the mother city.
(OoC: Someone can spot Rasmus now and get him back into the detective agency. Rasmus will not talk about what happened to him.)
It was several hours (or was it a day?) later and the wannabe heroes still hadn't figured out why the flour was covered with floor, but they decided that finding swag for their super-secret-detective-lair was the current item on the agenda. Pirro went to talk to the cloth merchant since he was the most knowledgeable about linen of those present.
Pirro had just rounded the far side of the marketplace when he spotted a bedraggled fop stumbling in that approximate direction. It took him a second to realize that it was Rasmus. For a moment he considered ducking around a building to avoid him, but thought better of it and instead called out, "Hey, Rasmus! You look like you've been run over by a stampeding titan. Would you feel up to helping me with some shopping? I have a good eye for sturdiness in fabric, but, well, I think you know what my sense of style is like. We got the okay to put up our offices in the old warehouse." Only then did he notice the bruises and tear-streaks on Rasmus' grimy face, "Oh, my, it was something worse than a wild party, wasn't it? Um, I'm not a very good listener, but I won't interrupt if you want to rant while helping me find some materials."
Rasmus was surprised to see his old friend, at least he thought he was a friend. He hadn't slept in a wile and he had an aching suspicion that this man had done something in the past to annoy him.
"What are you..?" Remembering he had criedthe night before, Rasmus quickly turned away and began wiping his face on his sleeve. "Oh what? HAHAHA! No no my friend! Just the badge of a night's merriment dried across my face! Please forgive my manners..!" Rasmus tried his best to seem A-OK, maybe too hard.
Pirro felt too awkward not to go along with the bard's poor acting. "Uh, alright." he said with a shallow chuckle. "So about my request, you up for it?"
Not quite looking his best, Rasmus turned back to Pirro. "Sure! You're right to request my exquisite sense of style, I'll be glad to help!" Rasmus rubbed his chin and smirked with wicked style.
"Great! Then let's go!" Pirro said waving for them to move on.
"Just one thing.." Rasmus stated while suddenly giving a sly and polite bow. "Mind if we find a bed first?" he pleaded eagerly with a cheesy grin.
"Sorry, I'm just after the cloth goods. I -think- Feoras was supposed to be finding the beds, he wandered out muttering about the black-market just before I left the new office." Pirro paused for a moment, "I think Anonymouse is still fantasizing at the building, he didn't show any signs of moving when I left. So, take your pick I suppose."
This one is a bit short, but it's all I can think of at the moment.
"What we need is a quest!" Anonymous announced. He had been standing lost in thought for some, alternating between the belief that they would be able to make a mansion out of the house or that they should simply burn it down since they were doomed in the long run. Unaware that he was speaking to an empty room, he continued, "Some sort of dark dangerous mission to give us an excuse to put off remodeling!" Pausing, he said, "Of course, remodeling might be preferable to dying horribly as we certainly will if we go on some sort of adventure, but, if we don't go on horrible and dangerous adventures, who will?"
Having come to this conclusion, the mage began trying to think of a quest that the group could embark on. To give him something to do while he pondered the situation, he idly began to clean the room.
After quite a many days and efforts, the building rented by the group of hopeful adventurers was finally starting to come together. Since not all of the members of this new institution could afford private living standards, half the building was converted into living quarters, with the other being the front for the business. Indeed, while its appearance was still basic and not completely professional, it was enough to at least give the impression of qualification for work.
With a stable set up and word of the strange group of young men and women operating a profession about as normal as the Rat Catcher's Guild, everyone was starting to get a sense of purpose not felt since the tail-end of their last adventure. Now having a drive for adventure and success in life in general, Alon, Zak, Rasmus, Erica, Pirror, Anonymous and Feoras took up different positions they felt fit for themselves. While others continued with constructing their base of operations or projecting sales figures in today's economy, Rasmus decided he was best suited for bringing in new business. The Gigilo, along with the help of Alon went about spreading posters for their new business without a name. For now the posters read:
HAVE YOU BEEN THE VICTIM OF THEFT? DOES YOUR PRINCESS NEED SAVING? DO YOU NEED 10 DOUGH 4 GRAPES AND 7 CHEESE TO MAKE YOUR PERFECT DINNER?? NEED HELP? COME SEE RASMUS AND COMPANY FOR ALL YOUR DETECTING NEEDS AND INQUIRIES. LOCATED NEXT TO HOUSE COMANA.
"All caps, really?" Alon questioned, putting up another poster in the market district.
"Hey!" Rasmus said in heated response, "It would've been more expensive for lowercase!"
"Ok, then another thing, why is your name the only one on it?" Alon mentioned as he turned to face a now quiet gigolo.
"Uh, hey, I don't ask how you do your job, and I'm in charge of advertising. Besides! You're all in there, just... in group form!" Rasmus slapped another poster up on the wall, then walked away briskly.
"Right.." Said Alon following him.
Meanwhile, in the allies behind the Two-Tailed Rat...
"Curses! Curses on their purses!" A strange, twisted man spoke, rolling an oboli around in his hand. "Things were so perfectly fine! Fine like... Wine!" he spoke to himself again, taking another swig of wine from his jug. "How could House Attis ever be forgiven for what they did to me? Can't they see?? If I ever find out who did this, who free'd their mines up I'll, I'll-"
"OOF! Hey come back with my Oboli you thief!" Pirror yelled as a hooded man ran from him.
The strange man in the alley took notice.
"Don't worry stranger, I of Rasmus and co. Inquiries will be glad to assist you post haste!" the bard said, giving chase to the bandit. Within moments, and a few hollers after passing the corner, Rasmus returned with Pirror's pouch of coin.
"Thank you sir, how can I ever repay you?" Pirror said believably enough.
"No thanks necessary, good citizen, just be sure to tell your neighbor that Rasmus and Co. Inquiries are here to help all those in need! Why even recently we were able to banish the ghost from House Attis's Mines-"
The twisted man dropped his jug, "SO! It was them! Well never....... agaim!" He began to laugh maniacally and then retreated to the shadows. "Very well Rasmus and Co. you will pay for aiding those who harmed me! The Great Pelli!"
After leaving the group of onlookers, Pirror, Rasmus And Alon regroups and congratulated each other on a job well done, and scolded the would-be-bard on his terrible choice of title for their new business.
Back at base...
"Guys! Great job!" Anonymous announced, "Looks like Rasmus was right about advertising." The three returning heroes gathered around with the others to see what was inside the letter Anonymous was waving about.
"It's a job offer!" Erica exclaimed gleefully.
After a small cheer from some of the more energetic members, Anonymous began to read,
"Ahem." (Ahem was on the letter), "Greetings heroes and detectives, I the uh, blast! Yes, Blast... Explodian are requesting your services post haste! The mission I offer you is of great importance and prestige and money! Yes lots of oboli, but the quest, oh the quest, you need to go here- Oh, he's attached a map." Anonymous showed them all the map, it was rather crude:
He continued to read, "Yes by following that map you should arrive at
mythe evil base of the duke of.. stones, located along the mountain's base! He has stolen my dinner items and my princess, if you succeed in bringing these objects back to me, I shall pay you 10.000 oboli! Please! I beg you, the guard will not help me given my position, and upon her rescue, my love shall inform you of how to reach me for payment.
You're my only hope,
Explodian, Blast!" Anonymous finished, noticing it had been written on the back of one of their posters, as well as had wine splashed on it in places.
The reactions were mixed, but it wasn't as if any other work had turned up yet. After chit chat among the members Anonymous asked, the question, "So everyone what do you say? Do we take the quest?"
"Well, I'll have to admit I'm in for anything hinting at the presence of explosions." Pirro conceded, "But we'd have to keep a pretty sharp lookout, this quest sounds a bit fishy."
"It'll look good for us if the figure head of the company makes an appearance, so I'm in." Rasmus announced, seeing this new opportunity as a way to make a name for himself. The others sighed, his disposition seemed beyond help.
Anonymous scratched his chin, "Hm perhaps Pirror is right. Some of us might want to stay behind in case this quest goes south. So who else is interested in joining Pirror and Rasmus?"
While waiting for a reply, Pirro went & traded flax for awhile.
Feoras looked at the request, his eyes wide as he stared at the promised reward. "Whoa..." he breathed. "That must be one cool princess." Feoras paused in thought for a second. "Or really rare gourmet dinner ingredients! We have to take this quest!"
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The next day, Rasmus, Pirro, and Feoras set out from the warehouse only to find a girl in a fuchsia1 dress outside their door, surrounded by several chests and boxes.
"I am the Princess Danaë2 and I am setting up residence in this manor. You will relocate my possessions to the master bedroom immediately and await further commands."
Pirro gasped. "Are you the princess we're looking for?"
"Yes. Definitely," Danaë said. "Now take my things."
"Of course, your highness." Pirro walked over to a large chest and began dragging it into the house. "How did you get all of these here in the first place?" he asked.
Danaë tapped her foot. "Can't you work any faster?" Some of the heretofore unmentioned characters came out from the house to help move her belongings. One of them, I guess it was Zak, stooped to pick up a small box when Danaë snapped at him. "No! Leave that here. I don't trust you peasants with my jewelry box." Whichever character it was shrugged and moved on.
Meanwhile, Rasmus was reviewing the details of quest. Recovering the princess so early was a most unexpected turn. However, there was still the matter of the dinner items, and he doubted that this princess knew where to go for payment anyway. Maybe the "my love" in the letter was a favorite dinner plate, or serving spoon? Perhaps with a map on its underside? This seemed the most likely possibility. However, it still might be necessary to have the princess along.
"Your highness," he said. "We still fear for your safety. I think it would be best if you accompanied us. I promise to stay by your side at all times until the threat is eliminated."
"If your intelligence is correct, then I will stay here and you will stay to protect me."
"But, as you know, there's still the matter of the dinner items."
Danaë paused. "Very well. I command you to escort me to wherever it is you're going."
1 Note to TwoJacks: attempting to spell fuchsia would be a mistake.
2 Character sheet and portrait
Danaë had settled in and briefly introduced herself to everyone. The group was polite as their character would permit however Danaë seemed intent on giving vague, distant answers. With not much else to do Rasmus, Feoras, Danaë and Pirro set out West from Cademia, and headed south along the Eastern foothills belonging to the mountain spine of Cythera (the simple map they possessed gave them few other options). After only a few hours the four adventurers had arrived at what at least appeared to be an 'evil layer'.
"I wonder if he knows that's an incorrect spelling for 'lair'." Feoras pointed out. The four stood outside an old mineshaft. The tunnel leading in went on farther than they could make out and in front of the entrance was the poorly constructed sign made of low-grade lumber thatFeoras had commented on earlier.
Pirro looked at the three other hesitant heroes with disbelief. "Really guys? I mean come on , the letter, the pre-rescued princess and now this 'layer'? I think it's pretty obvious what's really going on here."
The others waited in anticipation for Pirro's grand revelation. Other than that Cythera was pretty normal around this general midday or maybe morning. Bird's chirpin', wind blowin', well yeah mostly anyways, actually weirdly enough a couple polyps up in the North West were trying to learn how to fly by spinning their bodies around in a helicopter motion. Didn't work, but still weird, made a terrible green mess too. Other than that everything was preeeeetty extra ordinary. Yup.
"Uh, anyways." Pirror continued, looking up for some reason I know nothing about, "It's obvious that our quest is..." tension rose even more, "nearly done! As well as clearly genuine given this current evidence. Let's continue on while there's still daylight."
Pirro marched into the cave readying a torch. Behind him Feoras followed. "You don't really expect me to go into such a horrid local do you?" Danaë said turning her nose. Rasmus realized this was a loaded question, a beast he had come to know well in his dealings with the fairer sex. His situation was already tough that she was a woman he felt the need to impress, let alone a princess. Now was the careful tightrope walk the gigolo had to tread to stay in her good graces. After all who knew where one could get from seducing and enchanting a woman of her position and prestige!
"Milady," Rasmus said with a playful bow, "From your beauty, and fewsha, I mean, phucha, er, fucsia, actually, fertada, no, fertility, ah! not that, I mean, fuchsia dress (phew) I can clearly tell you are one to admire the pursuit of fun and trying new things. So now I ask you to give in once more to your heart's true and pure desire and step onward into this... this..."
Ratlizards! Rasmus thought, was there any phrase at all that made a cave sound attractive?
"this... path to your true self! After all, women can only become more beautiful when they show their true colors. So take my hand and we shall find ourselves together." The bard offered, extending a hand.
The princess merely turned away again and walked after the others. "Hmf. I certainly don't need others telling me how I really am."
Rasmmus was left outside, hand left hanging, shattered like a beautiful mirror filled with the image of one as hansom as himself. Was there any chance of a recovery?
The cave walls looked stable enough, and soon the four had arrived at a dead end. The chamber was dark and the only things not obscured by the shadows were two doors.
"Hm, it's strange but it doesn't seem too evil." Pirror said scratching his chin when suddenly...
chink chink chink chink chink
Behind them a metal grate had fallen and locked them inside the mineshaft!
"Damn it Pirror!" Rasmus yelled.
Even with all four working together, the grate could not be lifted. With no other options the group examined the room further for any helpful clues.
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"Welcome! Welcome, my dear guests! I'm excited you've decided to take on my test!" A man's voice echoed loudly, interrupting their search.
The four looked frantically around the room for the source of the noise. Well, three of them looked around while Princess Danaë held her hands over her ears and grimaced. "How uncouth to shout at a lady!" she huffed.
"Over there!" Feoras pointed at a bronze tube protruding from the ceiling. "It's coming from that thing."
"Bravo! Bravo! You've found my little device. Your observation skills are really quite ni-"
"Are you the Duke of Stones?" Pirro interrupted.
"Speak quieter! Your callous voice hurts my ears!" the princess complained. Then after a moment of thought, she added, "Actually, just stop talking!"
"Excuse me! You didn't hear me interrupting your lines!" A rather irritated voice rasped down the device.
"Sorry. Continue," Pirro apologized.
The mysterious man cleared his throat. "Now before you, you see doors one and two. Which one leads to salvation is up to you. If you choose-oh, forget it! There are two doors, red and blue. One is bad, the other is good. Use the riddles on the door to figure out which is which."
"Service exit: Employees only," Feoras read, squinting at the faded text.
"Not that door! Get away from there!" The man sighed, "Oh, everything was going so perfect until-" A loud clang cut off the rest of his sentence. There was a moment of silence before it became apparent that they wouldn't be able to hear him anymore.
"Well then, I have an idea," Rasmus said as he turned and winked at the princess.
"Stop squinting at me!" Danaë scowled irritably.
Feoras felt out of his element. He was an adventurer, not a detective. He was used to killing ruffians and busting ghosts; he wasn't used to mind games and riddles. He didn't know what to do.
Luckily, Rasmus had an idea.
"What's your idea?" Feoras asked Rasmus, and prepared himself to smirk when he heard it. Rasmus, having an idea?
"We should get out our snacks and have a picnic," Rasmus declared.
With an effort, Feoras suppressed the smirk he had prepared. That was a really good idea. "That's a really good idea," Feoras admitted.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Erica sat at the receptionist desk at the Rasmus & Co Inquiries headquarters. Truthfully, she regretted not joining the others on the latest adventure, but they all agreed that some of them ought to stay at headquarters to help other potential clients. Alon had already left to attend to a mysterious "personal matter" & they didn't know when he'd be back, and Zak had disappeared entirely. That left only Erica and Anonymous.
Zak had returned a couple of hours after Rasmus & them left. He was dressed in a HazMat suit and he began a thorough cleaning & disinfecting of the headquarters. This process produced a very unpleasant odor, but seeing as someone was actually cleaning, Erica didn't complain.
Anonymous, believe or not, actually had some doubts about the legitimacy of the present quest, and had hence refused to go. Erica, knowing the extent of Anonymous' paranoia, had dismissed his doubts. Instead she sat back against the receptionist desk, breathing in the offensive chemicals from Zak's cleaning, and daydreamed about what they'd do with their 10,000 oboloi reward.
Pirro was busy attempting to stuff explosives into the speaking tube, but even though they fit in beautifully for some reason they just appeared on the floor instead. He was glad he hadn't lit any yet.
"Well, the grey door is the easy way out, & probably the best idea at that. The princess was supposed to tell us how to get the reward, but doesn't know anything about it. Oh well! Let's go find some fun!"
He crossed over to the red & blue doors:
Red: The message on the other door is true.
Blue: The message on the other door is false.
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"I will not suffer any member of my court to walk through such a slanderous door as that one in blue," Danaë declared. "Open the red one!"
"But we haven't solved the riddle yet," Pirro objected.
"I said open it!"
Pirro decided it would be best to clear the next room before they entered, so he lit an explosive, cracked the door, and tossed it in. Moments later they heard the sound of glass breaking and rushed in to see what had happened. There was a now-shattered rectangle of glass on the wall.
Danaë looked at the floor and turned to the others. "I am not walking across broken glass. One of you: fix it."
Rasmus extended his hand. "Your Highness, it would be my pleasure to carry you to safety on the far side of the room. I would fain—"
"Don't touch me," she answered.
The mysterious voice sputtered out of a different tube in the new room. "There was like a 72-inch TV in here! It was really expensive! And the damage to my ego is quite extensive! I was going to reveal myself on the screen, but you had to go and intervene.
"…By the way, you guessed the right door. Congratulations."
"Dude, why do you need such a big TV?" Feoras asked.
"I was going to watch the Superbowl on it!"
While the glass was swept away by Feoras (who lost fatally at ro-sham-bo), Rasmus attempted once more to win the heart of the fairest of maidens, yo.
"Danaë!" The bard shouted from across the two-foot gap between them, sliding closer to her.
"What is it?"
"Have you heard the one about the polyps that tried to be helicopters?" Rasmus had sprung the joke of jokes, with a divine punchline she was sure to be wrapped around his finger and makin' it rain cash money.
However... Instead of even the slightest question of 'what' in words or expression, the look the would-be gigolo received was cold and devoid of any emotion except a supreme callus and murderous intent. A death glare like no other, yall. Perhaps she had heard the joke after all.
Ego broken down once again, Rasmus followed the others through the red door, head hung low. Perhaps this next chamber would give him the chance to prove to the princess he was the illest and trillest of dem all.