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Join Date: Aug 2005
Current Game: Guild Wars 2, VtMB, TOR
Note--this is an edited version of ch. 4--I made a few changes.
“Ah, come in, come in my friends! Welcome to the Dragonfire Inn! Always good to have the Elani visit my humble .” Mykos, the owner, stepped out from behind the long bar that lined the far wall, gesturing broadly as Jory lead Jailyn and Tirius into the main room. He wound his way through the crowd to greet them. Windows lined the other three walls, filling the main room of the inn with bright light. Loud, happy conversation filled the room, with laughter erupting frequently from the patrons that sat on the sturdy bar stools and and filled the solid oak tables covered with colorful tablecloths.
“I think you shrunk another inch, Mykos,” Jory declared as he embraced the innkeeper, smacking him on the back several times before releasing him.
“You're still just as short as I am, so you must be shrinking with me. At least I'm not balding like you are,” Mykos made a show of fluffing his wavy silver fullness while smiling broadly.
“You and your hair,” Jory shook his head. He looked the man up and down. “Did you get the memo that innkeepers are supposed to dress shabby? You've got enough gold on your fingers and embroidered into that sapphire tunic to kill a dragon.”
“These are my work clothes. I left the fancy holy day tunic in the closet and toned down the jewelry to no more than five rings.” He held out his hands and inspected the jewelry. “Plain rings at that.” He look at the two fighters on either side. “Who are your cohorts, here?”
“This is Jailyn Cordray and Tirius Aldamar.” Jory pointed to each in turn.
Mykos shook hands with Tirius. “Mykos Ti'lek. Friends of Jory are especially welcome here,” he turned to Jailyn, “particularly one as lovely as you are, my dear.” He gave her a welcoming kiss on the cheek.
Jailyn smiled, cheeks flushing pink. “I'm pleased to meet you.”
“Now look what you've done, Mykos. You've embarrassed my kor-inu. As her raik-inu, I demand justice,” Jory grinned, wicked gleam lighting his eyes.
“I'm stunned that Cirrid managed to get you to take a kor-inu. I'm even more stunned she's stayed with you longer than a day.”
“It must be my boyish charm.”
“Oh, please, like I'd ever believe that. Well, if I must pay penance, only radabeast steaks will do. Come with my to my private dining room,” He led them to a small room, richly appointed with dark red leather booths and polished dark wood tables. Heavy brocade draperies dimmed the light and dampened sound to discreet levels. Mykos pointed to some gold-plated hooks. “Hang your coats here. I'll get us some dinner. I suspect you're here for something besides just steak.”
“You read my mind.” Jory slipped off his coat, hung it up, then sat down. Jailyn took the seat opposite him.
Tirius looked back at Mykos, who was walking away to the kitchen, then slid into the seat next to Jailyn when the door shut. “He seems...overly friendly with his female patrons.”
“For heaven's sake, I've been kissed hello before, Tirius,” Jailyn said.
“It's wrong for someone to take liberties with an Elani woman.” He frowned down at her.
“It was only a peck on the cheek, and one man who tried to 'take liberties' found himself suddenly kissing the ground instead of me.” Jailyn stuck her chin up. “My older brother taught me how to protect myself, thank you.”
Jory looked up from the Nourin letter he'd unfolded and spread across the table. “You two sound like squabbling children. Save it for the sparring practices.” He turned the paper around to them. “Look that over. I want to know what you see. If you tell me 'brown ink on white paper with an Aldamar seal', I'll make you run 500 laps around the inn after dinner. Truth isn't that obvious all the time.”
The two pored over the document until Mykos and his wife brought 4 plates of sizzling steak, roasted white yams, and steamed greens.
“Ah, my favorite,” Jory beamed, digging into his dinner. “Now tell me what you two found.”
Mykos sat down next to Jory and ate quickly.
Jailyn said, “There's a watermark in the paper, but it's not Aldamar's. It looks like a Fest'ari mark.”
Tirius added, “The seal isn't authentic. There's a tiny burr on ours that creates what looks like a natural crack in the wax near the bottom of the image. Also, the ink isn't the same shade of brown. It's very close, but it's not the same.”
“Let me take a look. I want you to write out a few paragraphs on what you did the last couple days for me, too.” the innkeeper said, setting aside his dinner. Tirius handed the letter to him and took paper and pen from the innkeeper. Mykos turned the document over and back, held it up to the light, inspected the seal with a small magnifying glass, and then held the paper to his nose and inhaled deeply. He tipped his head in thought and sniffed again. He brushed a finger over one of the words and then put it to his mouth, tasting it. He wrinkled his nose. “Ick. Tastes like vinegar. Now, let me take a look at what you wrote there, young man.” He used the magnifier on both samples of writing, looking back and forth between each before finally setting everything down, satisfied. “Well, that certainly decides it.”
“So it's a Fest'ari forgery, then?” Tirius said.
Mykos shook his head as he handed the document back to Jory. “No. It's not a Fest'ari forgery.”
Tirius' eyes widened. “What? There's no way that can be authentic! No Aldamar would do this!”
Mykos pulled his plate back over. “I didn't say it was authentic. I said it wasn't a Fest'ari forgery.” He took a bite of his steak, closing his eyes and sighing in pleasure. “Oh, I'm in heaven. My wife, Hanneh, knows how to cook that just perfectly.”
“If the Fest'ari didn't forge it, who did?” Jory asked.
The innkeeper swallowed. “It looks like Dy'udh work.”
“I knew it!” Tirius narrowed his eyes, face flushing red..
Jory waved a calming hand “Let Mykos finish what he has to say before you go fly off to attack their Queen, please. Our job is to find the Princess, not fuel a war that's been festering for decades.”
Tirius nodded once, jaw muscles still tight.
“Someone had to have access to your writing to copy it as well as they did, Tirius,” Mykos said.
“That's not too hard, with the letters I send to my family. We do a fair amount of writing to each other for business as well as family news.”
“It's easy enough to intercept those anywhere on the route from the fort to the castle. The paper on its own is a good forgery. The watermark had me fooled for a moment there—it's a very well done copy of the Fest'ari watermark. It's the same shade and weight as Fest'ari paper. What the paper maker doesn't know is that the Fest'ari don't add nican to their pulp mix when they make their paper, and nican has a fruity scent. Smell it.”
Jory sniffed it and passed the paper over to Jailyn and Tirius.
“It smells vaguely like lemons,” she agreed.
Mykos nodded. “The Dy'udhs use nican in their paper, but no one else does. The seal is a nice fake—probably copied from many diplomatic letters over the years, but it's missing that tiny flaw in the metal that creates the pseudo-crack. The ink isn't from Fest'arin umber. That pigment is found in just one place in the world, and that's deep in Fest'ari lands in the Fa'tanta mountains. The ink used here is a mix of purple and yellow inks to look brown, with a bit of dirt thrown in to make it thicker, like Fest'ari ink. The yellow ink is made with saffron, and it's quite acidic. Umber tastes like cinnamon.”
“No one can use saffron ink except Dy'udh royalty, though,” Tirius frowned.
“Well that narrows it from the entire Dy'udh country down to about 15. That makes our job a little easier. Unfortunately, it just happens to be the 15 most powerful people in that region, with an entire army at their disposal, no less,” Jory said.
“The Princess could be anywhere in Dy'udh,” Jailyn sighed.
Mykos shook his head. “She's not in Dy'udh territory.”
“They don't want to risk their plot being discovered," Jory agreed. "I'm sure she's holed up in Fest'arin lands. Hopefully she hasn't been killed by them yet.”
“They won't kill her,” Jailyn said. Jory cocked an eyebrow, then waved for her to explain. “They need us to see her get killed, or they need to kill us and rescue her themselves in order to have proof that she was in Fest'ari. They need some bodies for evidence—fresh ones.”
“Hmm, it also means there's likely to be a contingent of Dy'udh troops around Ac'tin,” Tirius mused.
Jory nodded his head in agreement with the two other fighters. “A trap within a trap—very sneaky.”
“It's just the kind of thing you'd do, Jory,” Mykos chuckled.
“I know—I might fall in love with Nourin if she's the one who cooked up this plan,” Jory grinned.
Mykos rolled his eyes. “Oh, God save us all from that witch.” He traced a quick triangle on his forehead.
Jailyn cocked an amused eyebrow at Jory, while Tirius shot him a foul look.
“I'm joking, Tirius. I'm not in the habit of dating snakes,” said Jory. “Our plan is simple. Sneak into Ac'tin, warn the other Elani of the trap, find the Princess, and get out of there.”
“We'll have to find some maps of the area to plan a proper attack,” Jailyn said.
“I believe I have what you'll need, if you'd like,” said Mykos.
“'Like'? Of course we'd 'like',” Jolee snorted. “That's as bad as saying 'I have radabeast steaks if you'd like.”
Mykos laughed as left the room to retrieve the maps for the dragon fighters.
The sound of glass shattering and chairs crashing to the ground in the main room brought all three to their feet. Screams erupted from the bar. The three Elani unsheathed their swords.
“Jailyn, follow me,” Jory ordered. “Tirius, pull the door open just enough for us to get through. I'll take point and you follow Jailyn. Watch our backsides. Jailyn, stay with me. The timing on this is a little too convenient for a simple bar fight.”
Tirius took hold of the door knob as Jory raised his sword in front of him. Jory nodded, and he pulled open the heavy wood door.
Last edited by Jae Onasi; 03-07-2009 at 06:48 PM.