Chapter 5g - A Town in Transition

Joachim nods happily with a smile on his face while his eyes hinted that he wasn't entirely sure of the pair yet. His own argument would be similar to that he had of Garak, he had no proof of their wrong doings, but it was better to keep an eye on both specially that Hadal guy, who showed some darkness in his soul, a small red patch faint but distinct of the normal blue and red wishwash. "Please Mister Hadal, come. Come and join us. What will you have? Karnak!?" Joachim yells over to the bartender as to take the order of the "newer" arrival as clearly Nava was already consuming her own drink. He himself orders some water in the style of the woman.

"Yes ... what would you like to know, there has been happening a fair deal of change both in this town as in the world. Gods are fighting, forests are turning vile, caves of ancient ice hold hidden secrets never seen before, Elections and city siege as well as the terrorist attacks, that to sum up my last week alone." Joachim scratches his nose and looks to the door. He was seated by now. There had been a lot happening. He barely remembered it all. Half of the time adrenaline was clouding his mind, many had disappeared along the way some dead some just vanished.

"But do tell me about you as well." He demands.

Just then, Garak entered back into the tavern; heading from the back area towards the front door. Kohl padded silently along. The assassin could see that Joachim had somehow managed to make friends with the woman and some odd looking child or midget or whatever it was. Garak cared little for whomever the paladin wanted to befriend so long as they didn't expect anything from him and agreed to either leave him alone or be willing to accept one of his various blades as a parting gift.

Without a word, Garak silently moved around Joachim and was heading for the exit. He and Tamrik had
G rated ones that didn't involve anything as indicated or suspected by Joachim.
plans for the night...

"Drink you say? Why yes, that is most kind of you. Milk if possible, elsewise the juice of pressed fruits or water would suffice. I'm no good with alcohol, it impairs my focus rather much."

Hadal smiled, stretching his cheeks overwide and stroking his bare chin with his left hand. Inwardly the poison mix of fear and anger that had surged through him when faced with Joachim's glowing gaze faded, turning into bemusement at the show of trust and the curious personality of the paladin.

"Gods and trees, ice caverns and a siege... how turbulent. Indeed - as I entered the gates I spied some signs of battle, my my. Well, as you must be rather ambitious then to take the reigns of this town, it is my pleasure to meet you - it is a sign of strength after all. Lady Nava, a pleasure as well."

Hadal sits loosely upon a chair, crossing his legs under him to slightly raise his height. As he does, the silent return of 'Garak' catches his eye and smiles again as the dark figure ignores his gaze. If a few more teeth flashed as he did, well, what matters that?

"I am Hadal. A chirurgeon of long practice - shaving beards, picking lice, setting bones, bleeding sores, cutting and sewing flesh and skin and sinew. As of course, you may know, there are not so nearly enough priests," As he speaks the word his tone stains with a faint derision, "to heal all the ills of the world, it is required that at least a few actually know something of the beauty of the living form. The beat of the life-blood, the sway of positive and negative, the humours and meridians." His tone grows more passionate as he talks and he makes swift, precise gestures - as though wielding a scalpel - with his hands that belie the clumsiness of the rest of his body. With a sharp, gusting exhalation, he stops himself from continuing.

"Hah, yes. I doubt it is anything so interesting as the exploits of yourselves Master Joachim, Lady Nava. It is a simple life, without much excitement." He lies poorly, as while grinning does not in itself imply deceit, it is usually interpreted thusly and in addition his smile is thin and smug. His mention of positive and negative energies - not something a mundane could have knowledge of or appreciation for - isn't even noticed by him as he speaks, though a foreign voice at the back of his mind hisses quietly in amusement.

Karnak brings a glass of milk for the strange new fellow, no doubt wondering why all these odd folk seemed to pick now, of all times, to converge upon his town and his Inn. Of course, running an Inn assumed a certain amount of oddness from his patrons, but the last few days...very, very odd...

A few of the Inn's regular customers stick around to watch the interesting exchange between these fellows, and a couple even ogle Nava with bemused interest, but the gradual filtering of bodies to their beds continues on as it does every night, the lobby emptying with every passing minute.

Outside, night has just about set, only a few gleams of late-to-leave light lingering in the sky, now populated by stars and a smattering of wispy clouds. The day seems to have come to an end, but there is something in the air, a sense of building expectations, of unfinished business....
Perhaps, there is still some excitement left tonight...

Joachim stayed silent in expectation that the lady would follow the example of the surgeon and speak a bit about herself so he could make a better judge of them and the disappearance of Garak, who was just happily strolling by exiting the front door as if nothing ever happened...

Joachim looked at Garak for a moment dumb struck. Then at Nava and Hadal. "Err ... "

He stayed like that, open mouthed for a few moments then Garak was gone again. "Oh." He blinked and shaked his head. "I guess this whole week is definitely getting to me, my head. Drinking milk is a wise decision indeed master Hadal. We had a chirurgeon as well in the guard, although he was the son of a butcher and pretty much kept the trade of his father much present in his practice, also he was a heavy drinker. Not someone you would want treating you in the midst of a battle, but I reckon he saved a many lives even though leaving them at least crippled." He smiles. "But I'm certain you cannot make your trade only by fixing peoples bones and the likes, there seems to be something there you are not entirely telling..." Joachim was just guessing given the result of his analysis of the man's aura, there was something dark and Joachim doubted it was the fact that he fixed people, which was actually a nice thing to do, however brutal it might seem.

"What about you lady Nava, what brings you all alone to a place like this, sure the tavern is cosy, but I'm fairly certain there would be more accommodating places more fit for such a graceful person as you."

Garak had full intention to sneak out of the tavern along with Tamrik and go spread
killing, pillaging, and other socially beneficial activity
joy throughout the city in hopes of bolstering Joachim's chances to win. The assassin felt that in order for his puppet to win the mayor's title, that certain wheels needed to be greased. However, in his excitement to practice his art, Garak had allowed himself to make a critical mistake. He had failed to remember to be smart about the execution of the plan. It was late at night, he and Tamrik would be seen leaving the tavern together, and he had done nothing to mask his appearance. It was a foolish start and would certainly end poorly.

So, as he passed the paladin, Garak took an opportunity to join the conversation--waiting for Joachim to return his attention to the newcomers in the tavern. He didn't know if Tamrik would stop or not, but either way, their plan would need to be continued later with much more subtlety.

"You look like you just saw a ghost." The assassin was now somewhat behind the paladin, which put Joachim in the middle of a triangle of Garak, Hadal, and Nava. His thoughts, out of habit, turned momentarily to the joy he would have from ramming a variety of blades through the paladin's body. Garak envisioned the horror on the face of Joachim's wife, not from hearing the news, but rather from the means by which she would become aware of the murder. The assassin almost laughed at the thought of using his magical talents to disguise himself as Joachim and lure the woman into bed, only to reveal to her his bloodied face and hands and deliver the news. Of course she would die, but first she would be emotionally and physically broken.

However, these thoughts remained just that for now. Besides, Garak had found a new source of amusement. While he certainly enjoyed the pleasure of being outright evil and wicked, the recent subtle approach of manipulating people brought with it a certain challenge that had been missing for some time. Magic and equipment had enabled Garak to do much more than he could even a few short weeks prior. However, manipulation required intelligence, planning, and cunning. It required things that equipment alone could not supply. For this reason, Garak had decided to adopt a new approach, one that he felt would be much more effective in the end. He would gain new power through making events turn out in the way that suited him best.

It would start by fixing the election of Saerb. Joachim would be a willing and perfect puppet. The paladin would believe that he had caused Garak to see things differently, and accordingly, a sense of trust and friendship could flourish. Through that, Garak would trick Joachim into doing whatever the assassin felt was necessary to line his own pockets and hone his talents.

With a smile on his face, he stepped forward and slapped the paladin on his shoulder. "Who are our new friends, Joachim?" The assassin's eyes found their way to inspect Hadal and Nava. He casually observed any weapons or armor they may have openly or in hiding, and he noted how they carried themselves in hopes of understanding their degree of training in the art of combat, if any.

Tamrik stood outside silently, allowing the cool air to flow past him. He shivered slightly, but was comfortable outside. Garak must be saving our blundering friend. . . He said as he heard Joachim stumbling through an introduction of one type or another. He contemplated venturing back in, but chose to wait a little while longer, he wouldn't venture on himself, not yet having learned the best ways of framing somebody, but he knew that if he had to move on, he could do the dirty work, and Garak could do the rest.


Nava listened to the exchange between Hadal and Joachim politely. She was not entirely certain as to their reliability, nor her own desire for social engagement. Still, she had come to Saerb to escape her past, and in hopes of some manner of a fresh start. The darkness of her past, and the darkness within her, notwithstanding, this encounter could perhaps be the start of that.

Hadal seemed to endure the subtle prying of the paladin with good grace, and Nava was on the verge of replying in kind, when the conversation was interrupted by the return of the 'displaced' Garak. As Joachim floundered gamely at the miraculous reappearance of his friend, Nava remained stoic. She felt no need to incur any further displeasure by being smug at the living proof of her innocence. Still, her dark eyes glimmered with repressed humor, though her face remained set with a kindly mien.

The newcomer to the conversation, this shadowy man 'Garak', with his intriguing powers within her own bailiwick, immediately drew nearly her full attention. With the opportunity to observe the man up close, Nava commit his appearance to memory. She was not so eager for a new beginning that she was willing to fall into the same webs of betrayal and deceit as she had in the past. Memories of another dark man, and dark words, wounds still too raw, caused her to stiffen slightly in her seat. Into the sudden lull of Garak's arrival and Joachim's stuttering pause, Nava replied.

"Be at ease, Master Joachim. As you can see, we truly have brought no harm to your friend. Master Garak, we have the advantage of you, it seems, thanks to your friend's... introductions. This is Hadal, a man learned in the arts of surgery, and you may call me Nava."

After the pleasantries are completed, the pale lady returns the conversation to Joachim's original direction.

"My tale is somewhat less prosaic than Master Hadal's search for understanding, I am sorry to say. Apparently, I have had a touch of misfortune, of late, in my choice of destinations. It saddens me to see this city laid low by the hardships you have described, though the rebuilding that we have seen does offer some promise of hope.

I too am a refugee of war, though many years past now. Like Master Hadal, I too am a seeker of knowledge, though my interests lie in other disciplines. My people left me a legacy of magical studies, and after their demise, I have traveled extensively in search of further understanding of their traditions. It has been some years now, and I can say in all modesty that I have only begun to delve the true depths of my study."

Nava makes a concerted effort to avoid any outright deceit in her tale, without revealing too much of her private self, or unwittingly marking herself for further suspicion. She keeps Garak in her view as she speaks. His demonstration of his own skill with the Art marked him to her as... something. Friend or foe remains to be seen, but she can sense the foundation of some bond between them, for good or ill, and though she is no highly attuned judge of character, the vague sense of menace seeping from the man is unmistakeable. The gossamer shawl wrapped around her shimmers in turn as she shifts slightly under his observation.

Nava is LN, though she has performed evil acts in the past, and may very well do so again. Her clothing and padded armor are all varying shades of black. She wears a lightweight shawl of dark grey fabric, and the barely seen outline of a spiked choker can be seen around her throat. A thin band of silvery metal adorns her brow, and keeps her long black hair out of her face. The hafts of two weapons hang from the ornate belt of black leather she wears.

While discussions continue inside the Inn, there begin to come sounds of commotion from outside, a gradual pitter-patter of fee that soon begins to sound like full-on running. Shouts make their way through the wood and stone of the Purple Mead's walls as well, though their contents are impossible to make out.

Considering the time of day, and recent events, however, it is unlikely to be something pleasant...

A new arrival from the woods

From the top floors, loud speech can be heard, though the sounds of it are muffled to those on the ground floor. Excitement seems to be there, though, as the sound of steps towards the inn's windows are heard all across the common room. Looking from the windows, anyone can see something is going on outside, little kids running up-street like crazy, with excited shouts and large gestures, as if describing something bigger than themselves. A couple of women scurry along too, chattering in high-pitched voices about what they've just seen and the ending of it.

Eventually, a young man, probably a groom at some stable, enters hurriedly through the door, hopping on his feet, eager to spread the news. "There's an arrival at the gates!! It's a green swamp monster with large claws and wicked smile riding a huge beast with fangs two paces long and a mouth that could eat me in two bites!! The guards have it surrounded and are going to skewer it!" As soon as he tells the news, he goes outside and runs for the site again, eager to see the resolution.

The ruckus seems to increase as the minutes pass, with shouts from the populace being heard.

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