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The dwarven man upon closer inspection was a black haired fellow with bright blue eyes and a little ponytail at the back of his head, revealed as he glanced around. He also was a bit too tall to be considered a "dwarf" but his stature and general affect matched. "[+skyblue What exactly are you asking me about?]"
The human man scoffed, scratching a hand over a stubbly, salt and pepper chin. To him it sounded, as it usually did, like Steinmod was being coy. He liked to play this up. And usually he played along, but he was really hungover and so his patience, admittedly, was a little worn thin. Needed a good wash and hang dry; much, much drier than the man himself had been of late.
"[+crimson Oh, you know. A book. Same one as the last ten years.]" His tone betrayed humor, but also his thinned patience.
The dwarf nodded, "[+skyblue Right, that... Well, I didn't find the book itself. But I found a guy who knows who has it. Supposedly.]"
A groan came from the first man, pushing his hands through his hair with a laugh; hollow, amused. Of course. "[+crimson Another ghost story, huh?]"
"[+skyblue Not a ghost, some guy. Difference.]" A thick finger flicked out to gesture at the taller man from crossed arms.
"[+crimson Yeah, yeah, 'big difference' I know.]" he acquiesced with a trained, fair nod to the side and a spread of his hands.
"[+skyblue Better believe it. I know my stuff.]" the bearded man paused with a thoughtful stroke of the former.
"[+crimson And so...?]"
"[+skyblue You're not going to like the answer.]" Steinmod admitted, spreading his hands. "[+skyblue It's one of the Council of Mages, see. Y'know, cleaning up stuff. As they do. Hoarding. Or "collecting".]"
The human man chuckled, adjusting the red kerchief around his neck, or it was more of a scoff, and a shake of his head.
"[+skyblue You want some expensive stuff, Kovac. Hard to get just like that.]" he snapped his fingers quietly before his eyes snapped to the individual loitering near them. Steinmod took one look up and down him before his face started to crease; judgment, if gentle. Behind it was hesitation, spotting someone so close- just [i lingering].
"[+crimson Well come on, Steinmod,]" Kovac responded, voice hiking, spreading his own hands now in a grander gesture towards the dwarf. "[+skyblue A professional like you, I thought would have the gall and guts to grab and gain. We're friends. Couldn't you do a little for me?]"
Steinmod sighed, "[+skyblue Hey, hey- I do. This isn't about me. I- look- I can set you up with a meeting with-]" another glance at the alleyway, and he dropped his voice again, beginning to usher Kovac towards the entrance of the alcove and away from the corner, the man. "[+skyblue With who told me. I'm assuming you'll want his help since you're- not bosomed with the council. Anymore. Okay? Now no need for insults.]"
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Karius was more than happy to oblige the dragonborn. He was quite intrigued by the being and his eyes roved the man’s physique with true curiosity. Perhaps it was the lingering gaze or the coy smile but the papers were snatched a little quickly for his liking and his eyes became all the more critical. Often a charismatic and charming man he did not take well to those who were rude and especially from strangers. First impressions mattered.
Watching the papers be passed about and the small mousy individual look at them in disdain for it proved he would not be getting paid that day – clearly he had not expected someone to produce a receipt – Karius only folded his arms across his chest, Theodore staring at those before him with mistrust and his large eyes missed nothing. The papers were offered back to him, out of order and in a messy loose pile which would delay his leaving as he simply had to right such an erroneous error.
Now, either the dragonborn saw this and felt a touch of shame, too rightly he should, or he chose to change the subject of the talks as he nodded to the feathered avian on his shoulder with approval and complimented the speckled owls appearance. It left Karius a little off guard and he nodded softly as he settled the papers back into his leather satchel for safe keeping and lifted it up for the own to take back into its care.
[+coral “Yes - he is rather a handsome little devil I must admit.”] He smiled, a goodbye hoot from Theodore before the same crackle and sparks of static with a burst of energy left his shoulder empty and the bird gone.[+coral “Still, not the only handsome little devil around here it would seem.”] Karius commented flirtatiously and with a devilish wink to the dragonborn he turned to leave them all be, his humour and happy demeanour returned and the city was before him.
Ducking and diving around the crowd, avoiding passing carts and those who simply would not move for anyone, he was across the main avenue in a few minutes and dumped off beside an alleyway. It offered him a chance for respite and to take a breath out of the hot mass of people. It also afforded him a chance to pause and inspect the scenes about him with vivid interest. From the multitude of races and the brief but amazing view of a tiefling – two in fact! What a day! – to the throng of gnomes who bundled together like a school of fish to move along the street. Resplendent emerald eyes take sight of an oncoming carriage close to teetering over and its bell rang in warning and its passengers likewise in alarm as they careened down the avenue.
To his right a woman tried to garner public support in the retrieval of her bag but it was not going to come from anyone – not least Karius, though he did spot the Halfling/gnome like creature scurrying off passing him by. The ensuing chase by guards after the carriage and the thief did not interest him a great deal, having crossed the alleyway to press into a doorway and keep from others paths.
No he was too busy focusing on the scruffy man and his dwarven friend. They were suspicious just by their very dress and nature. The duo spoke with hushed voices and a certain way to their words that just spoke of some underhanded means or juicy gossip at the very least. He had rather good hearing, though he did have to lean against the wall a little to block out the sounds from the street that threatened to cover their talk. Just what had Steinmod been shopping for? He was hooked.
The dragonborn watched Karius as he went about himself. "[+gold Just identification papers, if you would.]" he said, leaning a bit away from the sudden flutter of magic and feathers that accosted his eyes.
All three individuals started at the sudden light and noise of the magic. It was all very theatrical. "Oh dear." came the steward's perplexed little mutter as he viewed the individual before himself.
The dragonborn captain retrieved the papers with a thoughtfull huff, glancing over them and turning to the shipping company steward to show them. "[+gold Everything seems to be in order.]"
The little mousy man next to the two glanced over the papers, making a little wrinkling motion with his face as he was either squinting or begrudgingly accepting that this was money that his company wasn't going to get. The man Karius wasn't cargo, which he would bring up with the captain once he found him. But after a moment of hemming and hawing, he nodded. "Yes, I believe so."
The dragonborn then nodded and handed the papers back,"[+gold Welcome to C'est-Vrais.]" With that, however, the dragonborn's eyes drifted to the bird being pet on the man's shoulder. "[+gold Your owl is really beautiful.]" he added.
As he (eventually) walked away, the voice of the steward was audible. "I will be speaking to the captain about this..."
And with that left; the bosom of the city opened up to Karius' eyes. There was activity everywhere. A seemingly endless stretch of city and business and people of all kinds. There was shady business going on in an alcove of the alleyway Karius was funneled towards the street through; as a rather scruffy, thin-looking man approached a dwarven individual in an equally as dark and suspicious and aesthetic coat. "[+crimson Steinmod, my man. I hear you've been shopping. Any news?]"
[left [pic http://slaves.homestead.com/run.jpg]]The street was choked with people and animals and carts and carriages and such things. However it all parted somewhat suddenly with the advent of a loud, ringing bell and a carriage careening down the street with what looked like another guard captain on top of it. This time a tiefling, legs aparts and braced as they drove the carriage with a team of two in front of it, hair flying back. As the vehicle roared past, the door hanging wide open, another tielfing was seen inside, this time white in what looked like holy robes standing bracing himself inside of it. And on the back was a dwarven man with a copper beard clinging for dear life as his nice, wide brimmed hat with a feather in it flew off, along with his lute which crashed to the cobblestones with a sad [i twang]. "[+maroon [B My lute-!]]" It was his screaming that was heard over the shock of the crowd.
However at that same moment a woman called out beside him, and as if he hadn't heard in a million times; [i My bag!] was what escaped her lips as what looked like a bearded, top-hatted child-sized person darted away from the woman wringing her hands uselessly.
The guard captain ran up the same alleyway Karius had taken, followed by the individual who had undoubtedly gone to alert him of the situation, the kenku beside him.
"[+gold A guard captain, you said?]" he breathed, eyes turning to the other guards he saw careening down the same street in their own carriage this time, if a bit belatedly. With that, he rushed up to another civilian, this time a produce salesman who had his horse standing near him and his cart. "[+gold May I use this?]" he flashed his badge on his breast, and the man released the animal to him.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Karius was rather happy to have his feet on ground that did not sway or buckle at any moment. It was solid. It was not going to move at whim. It was bliss. Had he been at sea for much longer he may have knelt and embraced it like an old friend long missed. Yet he only smiled and began to walk towards the city.
From his view on the way in he had seen many wonderful and beautiful buildings once the foggy haze had lifted. The temples were larger than most he'd ever seen and the palatial homes of the affluent district had struck a personal cord with him. It would all be taken in with time, thoroughly investigated and every inch marvelled over with unbridled interest and delight. That was if he got to leave the port itself as he was accosted not long after stepping forward to leave.
Although he had turned at the gruff voice to see a small bird-man pointing toward him, he had taken a moment to look back and ensure it was him alone he had requested. Such a deep an authoritative voice was humorous to Karius coming from such a stringy and slender being. With little else needing his attention he would take the trio of onlookers at their appearance as port authority and guard and approached at their behest.
Standing there as he was visually inspected and openly talked about as if he still was aboard the board, the blonde male was curious as to why they cared if he had paid for his journey or not. It was not their business to know who came and went. Likely their jobs revolved around what cargo came in, what left, what ships pulled in and their general logistical purposes. But again, he was getting ahead of himself and a devilish smile accompanied his reply to the kenku, offering it a small bow of respect.
[+coral “Why yes I have paid, and a hefty penny at that. But I suppose you would like proof of payment?”] He asked as he looked along the line of beings, though in truth he did not need an answer from any of them.
With no objection he pursed his lips, whistling a swift but rather beautiful set of notes. In a crackle of static and sparks and a burst of air that ruffled his hair and left his cloak swaying behind him, a creature emerged from the midst of the sound. An owl. White as snow and sporting a fetching necklace with matching embroidery and colours to Karius, it perched upon his shoulder as if nothing had just happened.
[+coral “Theodore, my bag please.”] He said calmly as the bird inspected the kenku suspiciously. Perhaps it was an avian racism or just distrust of the one before it, but the owl paused only a moment before it lifted it's right wing, a black satchel bag tucked beneath. The finely spoken man reached up and retrieved it, reaching inside and immediately pulling forth a set of papers with excellent calligraphy. Handing them over to the kenku who had requested them he folded his hand before him, the owl sitting perfectly still and awaiting the return of the bag.[+coral “I trust all is in order?”] He casually asked before lifting a hand to brush through his hair, finger scratching at the owls' side affectionately.
The visage of the city of C'ext-Vrais slowly unfolded itself, as if stretching, extending languidly out of the mists shrouding her. And yawning, gently as a breeze picked up and banished them even quicker. What was presented to Karius was the tile-roofed, lowland city banded with rivers that did little to hide its sprawl. There were three rivers, it seemed, splitting the city into portions. And then the foothill range beyond; green and obscure.
Having caught a merchant ship into the main port, Karius' prow skimmed past the grander buildings in the higher portion of the city. The spires of many temples and places of worship, and the domes of others caught his eye, deeper into the city. Though the dome of one with teal tiles and a gold colored rim squatted pendulously over one of the larger of the three rivers' banks. The largest river mouth was the first they passed by. A number of vessels, including some rather large ships were on their way through the deep, wide river, their sails dotted by the shadows of rooves.
The next large spit of an island was notably much more crowded. The buildings darker, denser, and many taken from parts of ships themselves as apartments and such; their once proud quarters and bows now used for livingspace.
The third and last, huge part of the city was the immense series of ports and moorings that came into view. The business end of C'est-Vrais. Ships already coming in and out, into which his vessel turned. Signage for a multitude of shipping companies were about, all in nice paint for the most part. And sailors and businessmen of many sorts bustled about the pier the ship was eventually drawn to once the mooring lines were pulled in. Those who pulled the ship in were sailors of any sort. Most notably was the large, blueish half-orc man with his rustled mane of hair held back in a ponytail. But for the eye to see, the myriad of individuals present was staggering; many humans and elves of course, but the number or tieflings in one space was shocking, and a kenku alongside a gold dragonborn as well in the immediate area. He was tall and slender looking, with delicate little fans of skin underneath his horns that ended in little tendril like appendages that reached beneath his jaw. Minimal armor, but the official looking badge on his breast identified his stature. Fine cream pants, and a dark blue coat parted at the back to let out his tail, and turning the ends of the coat into tails as well. He chatted with what looked like another official as they eyed the ship that Karius had just gotten off of.
"[+tan You there!]" the kenku hailed in a voice much too big for itself, pointing a little clawed finger at Karius as he exited. "[+tan Come here, sir.]"
The dragonborn, hands folded behind himself pertly, looked over at the newcomer, the little fans at the back of his head raising just so.
Not many passengers on this part of the ports system. Mostly just those working here and it looked like one haggard family of humans getting their land legs back. So Karius stood out a little bit, as one of the fewer nicely dressed individuals aside from the captains that wasn't bustling around with a writing tablet or board.
"[+gold Is he a passenger?]" the dragonborn queried, eyes looking up to the ship to try and find its captain, tail twitching slightly.
The steward next to him, a mousy sort of man, shook his head. "Not on this ledger. Where is the captain?"
"[+tan Pay your way?]" came the kenku again, cocking its head at Karius this time in what sounded like the voice of an old woman; small and trembling.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat The day had only just begun and so the morning mist rose slowly off the city and it's port. It left almost everything the eye could see shrouded in a haze too thick to discern any details of note from the open water. The swells of the waves were gentle and calm, the ship rocking gently and somewhat soothingly as with minimal sails it quietly glides toward the assigned pier.
Those on the top deck, rather those that were awake, moved about making preparations for landfall. Sails were stowed and many lengths of rope gathers up in neat coils about the place, not needed when the ship was stationary and tied up. Once the deck itself was set and cleared of debris it was time to bring up stock from below. It took a great deal of time to unload a ship and the profit came in how quickly they could remove their goods and take on new ones. Any delay could cost handfuls of gold by the hour in some cases, such as the sale of perishables or timed orders.
And then there was the consideration of restocking the ship with supplies for the return journey. Barrels of water were beyond a necessity, along with fruits, vegetables, meat by the barrel load and heavily salted to preserve it. Not to mention the ale. You would have mutiny before you left the harbour if you didn't have ale. It was all a rather interesting practice but the logistics went so deep that it was best to just be thankful not being the Captain of the vessel.
Although a blessing to not need to deal with this administrative function, it was more physically straining to complete the tasks. This was all set upon by the crew who trotted this way and that, working in ragged clothing often just a rough pair of shorts held up by a length of rope and a cloth to cover their head. Most were bearded or at the very least had a stubble. Their hands were worn and calloused, skin pock-marked and tanned as tough as leather. Overall the crew was one who dressed for the comfort of the sea. It bore a stark stark contrast to one of their passengers, a fair skinned man who stood on the forecastle deck looking toward the city before him.
To begin with he is a tall and slender figure. Those around are well built, solid and muscular, but man isn't. Rather it is unknown, given he wears such radiant clothing. The turquoise and Persian blues are so vivid and lustrous, the leather straps clearly given a fresh application of oil recently and the assorted metal buckles and pieces shined to a near reflective sheen. The man himself is kissed by the sun but not burned alive like the others. His hair is closer to silver than blonde given the colour is so slight and his eyes are mint green in shade.
For all these reasons he is a considerably handsome man. Yes, next to the crew most farm animals would look appetising as well, but in the larger scheme of things he was not without his admirers. The devilish smile on his lips as he lets his cloak flutter behind him only adds to his alluring nature. As the material flaps back, the sword at his hip is revealed, the main deterrent to being robbed and thrown overboard by a shady member of crew. Yet he had received no bother until now.
[+teal “What wit' tha smile?”] An old man of sparse hair and teeth inquired off to his side, winding a rope between two wooden spindles for storage.
[+coral “Oh just the sight of land fills me with joy. Don't misjudge my sentiment, I love ships and the open sea but the earthen mass will always be my first love.”] He chuckles softly, shaking his head and brushing a hand back through his hair, rather happy with himself as he looks out upon C'est-Vrais.[+coral “But of course land is where all the good drink and women are as well my friend.”] Karius looked across and the older gentleman grinned a toothless smile in agreement.
[+teal “Aye, a nice brew an' a big girl – that's all I need.”] He laughed to himself and his opposite suppressed laughing aloud himself. Delving into the pouch at his belt, his gloved fingers pull out a single gold coin, whistling to catch the working man's attention. A quick glance to check they were ignored and he threw it across to him – it was snatched out the air with no doubt that he would catch it.
[+coral “Well have a good drink on me then, or several bad ones.”] The old man swept the rag that kept the worst of the sun from burning his crown off his head, giving a slight bow of thanks as Karius left him to his work. With the well dressed passenger facing the other way he quickly bit the coin with one of his remaining teeth to check the authenticity of it, slipped away on his person with delight when it proved to be.
The journey in to the dock was rather slow and tedious. A ship of their size could not just head straight in and drop anchor. It had to be guided in to moor slowly, so that it did not collide with smaller vessels and capsize them, or punch a hole in it's own hull and sink – something that would caught much strife to the port authority.
Though it took another hour before the gangway was thrown down and the Captain gave his consent for the free movement of the ships passengers, Karius was not in a great hurry to leave the ship. He made sure to speak to the Captain, give him his thanks and leave behind a good impression – it always paid to have good friends with ships should you require to leave swiftly. And you could need to do so for a number of reasons. With his goodbyes given he left the ship, dodging out the way of working men as he began to work his way down the pier and toward the port city of C'est-Vrais itself.
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