Chapter 5g - A Town in Transition

Garak smiled. "Some might say that an enemy of my enemy is often thought of as a friend. However, how would I know that if I were alone that the snake would let me be? I believe it is always safer to treat all as enemies until proven otherwise. Thus, I would wait for the snake and bear to finish their fight and then strike quickly at the victor after they are wounded and winded."

Garak shrugged. "Or maybe just watch the fight and slip away after I've had my share of the entertainment. How about you?"

Kesendaran laughs once again and nods affirmatively, adding something of his opinion. Da most dangerous huntah is da one dat exposes himself da least an' manages to get da best o' da situation. He nods again, as if to reaffirm his opinion on that one. I w'uld leave dem to dem fight an' be on mah way. I be not meddlin' in nature's affairs. His explanation is simple and to the point.

Yawning, the shaman rises himself up, stretching his body to release cramped muscles. He looks at Ghar'ra then at Garak and yawns again. Well, da journey was long an' it takes toil on mah body. We be havin' moah business to discuss?

Garak nods. Kesendaran had some wits about him. He was also considerably more entertaining than some of the others with whom the assassin traveled. "But sometimes a bit of meddling is necessary, wouldn't you agree? Better to be the player than the pawn."

However, the tiefling took the cue from the shaman's stretch and yawn and got up before Kesendaran could answer. "Tomorrow, there is an election. If Joachim wins, I'll see to it that his first order of business is to grant you admission. If anybody else wins, I'll do my best to make the necessary encouragements."

His offers appeared to be out of kindness, but Garak had other ideas. He was always searching for leverage, favors, wealth, and power. If the assassin was guessing right, this shaman could help him in a variety of ways...

Kesendaran nods and gives Garak an odd bow. I w'uld be pleased dat you do it. I'll stay at dis spot for da whole day tomorrow and da day after. If a messenger comes, very well. If not... I'll leave for othah places. He smiles and bows again, his way of bidding farewell.

Garak nods and smiles at the odd mannerisms of Kesendaran just before he instantly fades into the shadows of the night. He purposefully shuffled his feet a bit as he moved away from the camp, but after a couple steps, began moving silently into the night. "I'll find you tomorrow." The words came from a short distance away, indicating the assassin had left the camp.

He appeared again before the gates came into view. Though Garak knew he could sneak back into the city, he preferred to keep the guards from being on alert...especially since this night, at least a handful of people would be killed...

With no other business left to conduct, Garak departs the newly-arrived Kesendaran's makeshift camp, leaving the odd fellow to spend the night in peace and quiet.

Hadal and Nava continue their conversation for a bit longer, but in time both retire to one of the Purple Mead's available rooms, eagerly looking forward to what the next day will bring...

....and what a day it is.
Young, fresh, and full of possibility, the sunrise is as glorious as one might expect, and the promise of an exciting Election makes it all the more interesting!

Hadal knew he was dreaming, one detail - as ever - disrupting the illusion. It was only in his dreams that he returned to his true age. Weathered hands, stained and scarred from a lifetime of alchemical practice and lacking the intrusive visage of his demonic familiar reached up to his face and explored familiar, foreign features.

Then the dream resumed its progress. Hadal dropped his hands into the pockets of his robes and looked around the blasted landscape.

Twisted trees clawed at a sky the colour of old bones, rising from grave-dirt amid a tumble of rotting limbs and broken headstones. Hadal, shook his head in annoyance and snorted.

"This is it? I must be getting rather melodramatic..."

Crunching his way through the waste, he covered a thousand miles in three steps and without noticing the transition, found himself upon the smooth, solid bone sky. Every step making a resounding and hollow clack that caused the ground above to splinter into grey powder and the trees - now more ably described as petrified veins and arteries - to lengthen and spread towards the sky.

By the time any time had passed at all, Hadal had nearly completed a circuit of the sky, the vein-trees having reached and spread across the bone so much that he had to climb over twisting branches as thick as a wagon. The ground had long since been obscured, save for flashes of silver-grey light and a deep pulsation that didn't quite reach the ears.

Then, he was standing before a pit. The veins were now bloody nerve-webs, sparkling with violet flashes of light and crawling with skeletal hands busy writing books or weaving scrolls. As they were soaked with gore, the whole process was entirely ridiculous - the books were sodden with blood and the scrolls were illegible swirls of red and purple and green. The pit that yawned before him opened into his laboratory, at a strange angle and magnified size.

"The eyesocket of Null, on his shelf, in my laboratory. Was that it? If I must dream, then why must they be so banal? Make the next one more interesting."
Eventually, a trickle of sunlight found its way down into his narrow laboratory pit, as Hadal was rotating a set of flasks to keep the contents from settling. On one shelf of the otherwise packed bookcase, that stretched all the way to the top sat Null, obscured by an open book held in a wire frame.

"Keep your empty eyes on these. They're nearly stale, but I might have a use for them soon." Hadal opened the largest flask and gave it a critical sniff, then resealed it with a nod. Scaling the bookcase, he climbed past the cramped and small levels out of the magical pit that held his workshop and folded it back up inside his coat.

"Well, I hope that cook can do better for breakfast than the last." he muttered as he made his way to the common room.

The assassin woke with the first beams of light coming through his window. As much as he hated the light of day, he knew that he needed to wake early so he would not rouse any suspicion with his absence. With the events of the night before still fresh on his mind, Garak quickly cleaned all his weapons and armor, washed his hands and face, and headed down for the morning meal.

It was election day. Just several hours ago, the tiefling did his best to eliminate some of Joachim's competition either by murder or by framing for murder. Garak was particularly proud of how he had purposefully left behind evidence to implicate the city guards in the murders. It would hopefully put negative light on one of the political hopefuls, but would also bring down some of the leaders of the city guard. The thought was that Joachim was the only candidate with military experience, so he would of course be the obvious choice for a candidate considering the city needed not only a new mayor but also would apparently have to replace the leadership of the city guard. He was excited to see how the plans played out, but his face carried the usual lack of expression. Nothing about Garak's appearance indicated anything other than this being just another ordinary day.

When he entered the common room, Garak saw that he was unfortunately not alone. He took a table by himself, but selected one where he could overhear any conversations that might be happening. He knew that Joachim's success or failure this day would be largely due to the emotions of the people. Garak would provide the paladin with all the information from the people that he could so Joachim could in turn incorporate it into his speeches. Of course, the tiefling would also use his magic to help influence people to do things they would not do ordinarily. They would all be clueless to his working of the strings as he made the little ignorant puppets dance.

He ordered a meal and asked for a second to be prepared so he could take it with him. He believed he could learn something from the druid who was waiting outside the gates, and felt that a gift of a meal and continued kindness would be repaid at a later date. Something bothered Garak about his recent change. While he knew manipulation would be far more profitable in the long run, he cared little for pretending to be nice and helping others. In fact, the only joy that the assassin really ever experienced was hearing people beg for mercy and seeing the look of horror on their faces when they realized he would give none.

Kesendaran woke to the sound of morning, a few carrion birds flying around in hopes of finding yet another meal. Ghar'ra smelled the air around them, looking peaceful and quiet, patiently waiting for his master to arouse. It was the dawn of another day, one that did present himself as an opportunity to take a step closer to his village's objective. Today he would find help.

After finishing all his morning rituals, the wild human pondered where to go, while he waited. It would not do to stand idly looking at the air until he gets the permit to enter the town so he thought on a way to keep himself busy. Having always lived inside the forest, a small walk along the countryside would prove invaluable in terms of knowledge, thus he packed everything in his saddlebags and made his way through rubble and dirt, searching for whatever plants, animals or even objects he could gather for gold, utility or beauty. His curiosity is enormous and he took his time to examine the least thing that caught his interest. Many hours presented in front of him before he could advance in his quest, thus he happily treks around the town.

Downstairs in the Purple Mead Inn's common area, the few folk up early seem fairly excited about what the new day will bring. Karnak and his serving-girls stay busy, carrying around trays of breads, fruits, various porridges and soups, as well as a small selection of meats and sweets, according to each tenant's particular tastes in breakfast.

The discussion is colorful, but muted, few having the energy for the boisterous arguments so common to taverns, preferring instead to speak to their nearest neighbor or friend...

Outside, Kesendaran rises alone, on the cusp of a city of hundreds and yet not welcome simply because of his appearance. That, and the fact that he showed up riding a monster...

Gathering his gear, he prepares to scout out the area around Saerb, keen on finding anything of interest. There had, of course, been a massive battle here recently, and thus perhaps a few odd trinkets were left behind...
Before he can depart, however, he spies the familiar form of Garak striding out towards him from the gates, carrying something bulky in his hands.

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