At The Sign Of The Prancing Pon...err...Golden Gear
The kitten cocked it's head at Killian when he answered, giving the man a couple of slow blinks. After he finished speaking, the kitten's voice once more resonated within the half orc's mind, and, once more, it echoed softly in Valros' as well.
"green man nice. talk lots, but nice. is good."
The golden furred kitten then curled up contentedly in Valros' lap, yawning hugely, and accepted the tidbits of meat that the tiefling fed to it from the bowl that the server had delivered. The two appeared lost in their own world, quietly conversing in their minds, as the rest turned their attention to the gravelly voiced dwarf.
There was a grunt from deep within the shadows, and the Dwarf took a long pull of his drink, looking out at those at the table. After a moment, he nodded in their direction, and spoke quietly, his voice just as gravely as before. "The reason I suggested you all pass on to the Barrow, which, by the by" he looked in Trellis' direction, "is the next big town on the North spur of the Imperial Highway, and a prosperous trade town, which I thought adventurers such as yourselves might appreciate, is that Humbert's manor is, of late, a madhouse. Though..." he peered closely at Lucrezia, and smirked before continuing, "perhaps some of you enjoy that sort of thing. Regardless, what I meant was this: For the past few months, I've been a guest at the Manor, doing research in Humbert's library. Except for a few shouting matches between Humbert, and that harpy Kazin, everything was fine. Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed that there was no shouting. That was when I also noticed Kazin whistling in the hallways...right sent shivers up my spine, it did. Anyway, I figured there was something up, so, after a few days, I decided to ask her where Humbert had gotten himself to. She threw her head back and cackled like a madwoman, but all she would say was that he was 'around, and maybe a little ticked off', and then she walked away, laughing her fool head off."
The dwarf leaned back and took another long pull on his Cream, then set the stoneware mug down on the table, peering intently at the group. "Couldn't find hide nor hair of the Artificer...and believe me, I looked. But that blasted house is loaded up with too many fool jokes and tricks." He flicked one thick finger at the hammer pins on his collar, which all present recognized as a Master's Mark of the Imperial Guild of Artificers, and continued. "Now, I'm a dab hand at dealing with machines, but some of Humbert's designs are beyond even me, loath though I am to admit it. But, whatever's going on up there was far beyond my skills to deal with."
Before he could say any more, he was interrupted by Leider's equally deep baritone coming from behind the adventurers. "Master BrakHammer, I still think Humbert was pulling your leg. Everyone for leagues around knows that the Magister has a...unique sense of humour. I'm sure it's all just one of his pranks."
The dwarf snorted incredulously and shook his head, his waist long beard flying back and forth. "Not like it was up there Leider. You weren't there, I was, and I'm telling you, I was lucky to get out of there alive!"
Turning his attention back to the group at the table, the dwarf frowned thunderously, before offering one last comment. "Makes no difference to me," he said, quaffing the last of his Cream and standing up from his table. He locked eyes with all of those at the table. "Just you remember, when you're up to your necks in trouble, that I warned you. Now," he turned back to Leider, "unless anyone else wishes to question my word, I believe I'll retire for the evening. I plan to head out tomorrow...have your stablehand ready my pony cart for first light. I'll break my fast in my room before that, if it's acceptable. Gentlemen, Lady...I bid you good evening."
And not another word would he speak, even if called back or questioned. A moment later he stomped up the stairs and was out of sight. Leider, too, left for the bar, though not without a sincere, despite it's brevity, apology to Lucrezia.
It seemed, however, that the interruptions weren't done for the evening, as a soft, musical voice spoke up from a few feet away. "Well. That was certainly...interesting." Turning, the group saw that the musician, who had apparently finished her set, was standing near their table. Having been caught 'spying', a faint rose tint dusted her cheeks, but that was the only outward sign that she might feel even a bit guilty.
Nodding to all present, she continued. "Forgive me for eavesdropping...not like I could help it, of course, BrakHammer's voice isn't exactly suited to 'quiet' conversation." She shrugged, "And it's not like he hasn't voiced his opinions to all and sundry at least once a night for the last three he's been here. Oh, but, forgive me..."
Stepping forward, she gave a half bow to the table. "It seems that my manners truly have deserted me this evening. My name is Ariand StormHunter, a bard of the Royal College, and Seeker of Lost Truths." Again, she shrugged, but this time with a wry twist of her mouth. "Mostly that means that I travel all across the land, usually at the Dean's request, seeking out and reading dusty old tomes in some lightless, cheerless library, monastery, or even the occasional evil wizards lair."
Glancing at Lucrezia, the bard's eyes flicked down to the hem of her own robe, and the symbols embroidered therein, before quickly meeting the dhampir's eyes. The woman's own bright blue orbs twinkled with mirth, and she gave Lucrezia the merest hint of a nod, recognizing a fellow scholar, and clearly having noted the woman's reaction to the little joke stitched into her clothing.
Reaching out to the side, Ariand snagged an empty chair from a nearby table, then plunked it down between Valros and Lance. Up close, they could see that the tips of her ears, more bluntly pointed than a full elf's would be, nevertheless peeked up from her raven black hair. A faint scent of jasmine and honeysuckle hung in the air around her, along with something earthy, perhaps sandalwood. From this distance, it was clear that the bard was a woman of means...her clothes were made of silk and raime, and, while not ostentatious, the glint of well made jewelry adorned her neck, ears, wrists, and fingers.
"I hope you dont mind if I join you. Bess might have mentioned that she overheard you all were planning to head over to Humbert's Manor tomorrow, and, now that I'm healed up, I was planning on making the journey there as well." She looked around the table, catching each of their eyes in turn. "I dont necessarily mind riding out on my various missions alone, but, given the...unpleasant air that the woods have had lately, some company would certainly be appreciated."
Before she could continue, the little cat in Valros' lap made a happy, and deeply satisfied 'meep', instantly drawing Ariand's attention. Turning to the little creature, Ariand's eyes immediately softened, and a genuine smile graced her lips. Turning her attention fully to Valros, the woman's smile grew even more. "You are a rare one, friend. It's not many who could win the affection of a Golden Cat, especially a kitten. You should consider yourself extremely lucky...or, at least, you will be, depending on whether on not it's powers have fully developed." Her smile once more morphed back into a smirk, and she returned her attention to her tablemates.
"As I said, if you're willing to let me join you, I'd like to head out to Humberts at first light. The ride itself shouldn't take us more than a few hours...we can easily reach it by high noon if there are no unforeseen complications." She glanced up as Bess moved nearby and Ariand made a tipping motion of her hand. With a grin and a nod, Bess immediately changed course and headed towards the bar. Ariand turned her attention back to the table. "So, does anyone have any questions for me? While I've never met Humbert himself, I did do some rather extensive research on him, and several other notable persons in the area, including the Sorceress Kasin, whom BrakHammer mentioned."
She sat, fingers interlaced and forearms on the table, looking inquisitively at the rest of the table.
Apologies...again, for the long delay...again. Things continue to be busier than I had planned.
I hope I didn't move things along too much, but it all just sort of flowed as I was writing. Y'all feel free to interject any actions for your characters that you feel are appropriate, and we can tweak things if necessary, timing wise.
Otherwise, have fun!