Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

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Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Fri May 18, 2012 11:53 am

Farmouth itself, as might be expected, lies at the mouth of a river amid a hilly, wooded land. Lots of fishing boats dot the waters nearby, while a variety of trading vessels of different designs are either en route, leaving, or already moored in the town's harbor. Looks like a town of roughly two and a half thousand souls. A small fort with a tower stands almost in the center of town, white-washed, with a flag of the red unicorn on black waving in the wind from its top. The only other large building (apart from a few warehouses) looks vaguely religious. Overall, it looks like a prosperous town for its size.

Some with signal flags indicates where their ship should dock. As per usual, an official of some kind (with a scribe attending) approaches.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Mint on Fri May 18, 2012 12:51 pm

If Winnow goes to talk to the scribe as usual, then Mint will accompany him.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Winnow on Sun May 20, 2012 12:42 pm

Winnow will bring the documents and treat with the official, patiently working through the bureauracy if it seems good-willed. After that he send Franclen to look into trading some or all of their cargo for something else that is potentially valuable back in the Golden Circle. The hands will be given shore leave by watches i.e., half of them will remain aboard ship at all times. Franclen can make up the roster.

After that he will accompany Mint on her researches in the library or temple or wherever she goes, until he decides otherwise.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Sun May 20, 2012 4:52 pm

The locals are fairly straightforward. They want someone to come check on the cargo, to make sure it isn't poison or something similar. Should take a day. Sorry of the inconvenience. Please feel free to enjoy the port. Here are a few local rules (nothing onerous or surprising, mostly details). Watch out in anyone offers you blue wine. Has a kick like a dragon, and some folks find it toxic.

Library? Well, some of the more wealthy townsfolk have libraries. Or if you're just looking for general information, the Shrine of the Unicorn has a school. For a few coins they'll probably let you read all you like.

Sure enough some local Holy Sisters (in black and red) prove perfectly willing to let you read a history book or two. It isn't particularly detailed stuff, and much deals with local history--the founding of Farmouth three hundred years ago by several younger sons of good (but not Great) families in Onyx, the Immortal City.

As far as Onyx itself goes, they read basics of the royal family--of Queen Titania and her beloved husband King Elrond (he of the gold and purple eyes) who built a city at the center of creation under the banner of the crimson unicorn. With them was Elrond's brother, the wise but mysterious wizard Prospero. How in time the royal couple had four children--Isobel and her twin Leontes, then Fernand and finally Josette. How the oceans of Onyx were plagued with monsters yet the family finally slew them all. Some said many of the islands in those seas arose from the bones of the creatures defeated ages past. Certainly no greater warrior than Elrond ever lived, he who slew the Ur-Kraken in single combat, beheaded ten seagriffs with his great sword, only falling at least in mutual battle with Jormangandr the World Serpent. In grief, Queen Titania entered into her first Queensleep that lasted a hundred years while Prospero reigned as Regent. Titania awoke with more power than she ever had before, creating in that time the Imperium--a great zone of protection against fell beasts and invaders out of Shadow. Only when the dread White Riders had been defeated and thrown back did she enter another Queensleep. Then a Regents' council of Prospero with all four royal children ruled. They established the Imperium in its current form, in time having to put down rebellion after rebellion. When Titania woke once more, she expressed herself well-pleased and did not sleep again more many centuries.

Clearly, the impression is of a realm more centralized but also under greater threat than Amber--with a smaller and at least superficially less hectic royal family. Travel between Shadows seems more difficult here, but trade routes have been established. More, the Imperial military would seem large and very well organized, with forts and outposts at crucial points. Titania, as opposed to Oberon, seemed more overtly a sorceress than he a sorcerer. From what Mint and Winnow can gather, Onyx has nothing akin to Arden but is rather surrounded by seas. Piracy seems a problem and when becoming too much of a nuisance results in overwhelming military force. Interestingly, there is absolute religious freedom and the people of the Imperium include quite a few non-human species.

But there are also references to different factions among those who worship the Unicorn. This shrine is run by Ethicals, who are primarily concerned with moral rules and behavior. Seems a group they argue with, and which has the support of some in the royal family, call them selves the Transcedentals that are viewed as ascetic and/or mystical.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Mint on Sun May 20, 2012 5:59 pm

Mint would like to find pictures of the royals both so she knows what the one she has not seen look like and to confirm the appearances of those she has seen. Mint will also try to find out if Prospero or any of Titania's children are married or have any known children.

Getting good maps should be trivial if expensive since we have a ship and thus reason to need maps.

Mint will ask to speak with a history professor at the school. If they have more than one, then someone specialized in Imperial rather than local history would be preferable.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Sun May 20, 2012 6:17 pm

The teacher is one Sister Miranda. As far as she knows, neither Prospero nor any of the other royals are married--although she admits several began wandering about quite a bit in the last two hundred years. Isobel in particular hasn't been heard from in years. As far as she knows.

She'll reveal that Leontes and Isobel have their father's eyes--one gold, one purple. Fernand has purple eyes. Josette, gold. Prospero has eyes that are two different shades of blue.

A portrait of Titania is easy enough to obtain. So her Prince Regent Leontes...
and
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Mint on Sun May 20, 2012 6:45 pm

Mint will show Sister Miranda drawings of the other members of the royal family and confirm their identities. She will also show her drawings of Julian, Oberon, and Dworkin and ask if any of them look familiar.

Mint has plenty of questions. She does her best to seem like a curious scholar.

"Were there many witnesses to Elrond's battle with Jormangandr and death? Was his body recovered for a funeral or lost at sea?"

Mint will describe what she knows of the Merewives. "Do any of the creatures defeated by the royals seem at all similar?"

"The histories mentioned White Riders. What can you tell me about them? The histories said they were defeated and thrown back, but they said nothing about their destruction. Do they or their descendants still exist? Did they ever cause trouble again?"

"What great workings of sorcery is Queen Titania known to have performed? Are any of her children known to have followed in her footsteps magically speaking?"

"Have there been any particularly notable Unicorn sightings historically?

"Does the conflict between the Ethical and Transcendentals have historical roots?"
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Sun May 20, 2012 7:10 pm

Sister Miranda has never seen any members of the royal family but concedes the descriptions of Isobel and Josette match what she's heard. None of the others look like anyone she's ever heard on.

Elrond was killed in the presence of his wife and others. His splendid tomb remains at the heart of Onyx itself, where the Queen can sometimes yet gaze upon his face.

The merewives certainly impress Sister Miranda. She's never heard of anything like them and hopes never to do so!

White Riders were demon things. Their voices could pierce the soul, their breath was poison, their touch like ice. Overwhelming numbers were needed to defeat them, herding them to where Titania created a world of pure holy fire to trap and destroy them.

Likewise she seems to have somehow made all the paths through Shadow easier to navigate while somehow stopping a series of natural disasters about twenty years ago. Had they gone unchecked, whole continents might have been destroyed.

All the royal children have some talents in that direction. Their full abilities--who can say? But they are nigh immortal and extremely hard to kill or even wound. Their strength is much beyond mortal ken, their endurance the equal of small armies.

Unicorn sightings are rare, but have been recorded. Onyx itself has the most complete record of such. It was said the Unicorn recovered Elrond's body and brought it back to Titania. And it has been seen many times each time before the Queen wakes from her long sleep.

She'll also explain the Ethicals and Transcendentals initially differed over how to respond to the so-called Sibling Heresy--the claim that Titania might have had siblings. Ethicals saw this (rightly of course) as a threat to order, accusing the keepers of the Shrines as well as the Royal Family of deceit! Transcendentals saw this as nothing but a harmless, interesting, possibly instructive set of questions. All that goes back centuries, but in the last five years the Sibling Heretics have grown in numbers, questioning the Regency and even suggesting this mythical other royal family might one day invade the Imperium!

Sister Miranda snorts at the idea.

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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Mint on Mon May 21, 2012 8:55 am

Mint thanks Sister Miranda for her time and makes a generous but not extravagant donation to the shrine.

Mint will also purchase anything that she can find for sale that has the Crimson Unicorn Symbol emblazed on it. A flag, a t-shirt, a mug, tchotchkes, whatever.

Assuming that they have good maps of the Onyx Empire, Mint is ready to leave. She has enough answers now that she's happy to let Winnow try to find a route back to Amber. She will go back to spell research while Winnow handles the travel arrangements.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Winnow on Mon May 21, 2012 5:37 pm

Winnow will see what arrangements Franclen may have made regarding the cargo. Whatever can be finished up in one day is fine, then they will depart. If this means half the crew won't get shore leave, he will promise them a bonus.

Then they will depart onto the mysterious seas, and using everything he has learned so far, he will try to shift them back to Amber, or at least, across the distortion and to a place from whence they can make their way.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Mint on Tue May 22, 2012 9:16 am

OOC: Did Mint and Winnow get the map?

Did Mint find anything for sale in town with the Crimson Unicorn depicted on it? If so what?

Not getting the map will cause Mint to want to delay departure. The other stuff is irrelevant, but fun.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Thu May 24, 2012 10:28 pm

Finding a map isn't too difficult, although it turns out to be rather local, showing only the most nearby landmasses. If they ask, locals tell them Onyx is out past the map, at least two hundred leagues (i.e. 600 miles).

Asking around, they can buy the equivalent of a Unicorn Medallion, the kind particularly religious folk in Amber sometimes wear. It is black, showing a red unicorn.

Before the Celeste can be made ready, storms appear on the horizon. Some kind of big one--mountains of dark clouds above a wall of rain. From local reactions, they can see this is unusual but no one's too upset. Storms happen. The whole town starts battening down the hatches and everyone will think Winnow and Mint borderline mad if they want to go out in that weather. Better, folks say, to wait until it passes.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Mint on Thu May 24, 2012 10:40 pm

As soon as the spell appears on the distant horizon, Mint acts. "Cousin, I need you to try to shift the storm and see if there is any resistance. If this is what I fear it might be we need to leave soonest. I will start casting my spell of transport now. Stop me only if opposition arrives within the hour or the storm relents to your power."
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Winnow on Mon May 28, 2012 10:32 pm

[Sorry to be gone so long]

Winnow will raise the Pattern against the storm and try to dissipate or mitigate it. If he can do that, he will take the Celeste out (as long as the other things got done) and shift for home, using a nice stiff blow but keeping it non-dangerous.

If not, he will let Mint discreetly know that they may need her transport spell, and then try out Gerard's Trump then everyone else in turn. If this is some kind of mystic storm, maybe it will work in their favor. If he happens to get through to anyone on the other side, he will snatch Mint and try to get them both through before the contact fades.

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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Mon May 28, 2012 10:52 pm

Winnow's powers have no impact upon this storm at all.

And Gerard's Trump doesn't seem to be working. Or at least any attempt to make contact results in so much interference it might as well be useless.

Yet it is also true the storm front seems to remain a certain distance from shore, as if traveling along it. Which really should not be. Almost as if some intelligence guides this storm.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Mint on Mon May 28, 2012 10:59 pm

Mint finishes readying her transport spell.

"I see that the storm holds steady. So cousin, do we wish to try to move the ship or just ourselves?"
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Winnow on Tue May 29, 2012 9:42 am


"If you think the chance of success is the same, then we should take the ship. Though the blow seems like it is not coming in to shore. Franclen, do we have the shore leave men back yet?"

If the crew is all back, or almost all, he will defer to Mint's judgment about leaving.

If the crew is not back, and Mint wants to leave, they shall abandon the ship with Franclen, to either find it later or make their own ways in the worlds. If so, he will retrieve the dead woman's letter and small personal effects, so he can find her family later.

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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Tue May 29, 2012 10:07 am

[OOC - The crew is not yet all back. Over half of those on shore leave are still in the town somewhere.]
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Mint on Tue May 29, 2012 2:16 pm

"Whoever is behind that storm, I suspect Leontes, is a bully. That squall is an impressive demonstration of raw power, but it lacks the subtlety to truly serve its purpose. Our unseen aggressor could no doubt have becalmed the same seas preternaturally which would have likewise stalled departure, but without provoking notice quite so readily. Ordinarily I would stay and teach such a brute some manners, but given that we likely face a sitting regent that seems impolitic."

"I'm hesitant to abandon Francien and the men. A bully would not hesitate to employ torture and they deserve better. The town is small and the places they would likely be seem few. Therefore I propose that we watch the storm carefully whilst gathering the men quickly. If the storm changes we leave without them anyway so we can take what we know to Amber. If it holds we reunite our force and maintain the vessel that has served us well so far."

If Winnow is in agreement they will go to shore together and gather the men quickly. Taverns, inns, brothels, jail, and any other obvious places will be checked. Francien will have the ship ready for immediate departure upon their return.
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Xue Ren'gui on Tue May 29, 2012 3:42 pm

David wrote:Farmouth itself, as might be expected, lies at the mouth of a river amid a hilly, wooded land. Lots of fishing boats dot the waters nearby, while a variety of trading vessels of different designs are either en route, leaving, or already moored in the town's harbor. Looks like a town of roughly two and a half thousand souls. A small fort with a tower stands almost in the center of town, white-washed, with a flag of the red unicorn on black waving in the wind from its top. The only other large building (apart from a few warehouses) looks vaguely religious. Overall, it looks like a prosperous town for its size.

They had been following the road for days now, and clearly it had shifted since last anyone had used it. "When I have defeated Leontes, I will demand an admission from him that his lofty empire lacks the ability even to maintain roads consistently." jokes Xue to his men. "Last season, this road took us directly to his realm, not to... whatever that huge city is."

The minion chuckle as they keep walking. Xue continues, talking to fill the time. "I'm sure he knows I'm coming, and he's having his mother rearrange the roads to delay me. Only a coward hides behind his sleeping mother." There are some more chuckles at this, but also a certain amount of tension, in case the Regent might somehow be listening.

They move out of the tree cover from the woody hills and see the town of Farmouth at the mouth of the river. And in the distance a storm brews. Xue glares at it for a moment, before someone interjects, "Perhaps you should refrain from claims of cowardice until after you've defeated him, my Lord." Xue turns to his men, points at one near the rear of the group. "Was that you, Peng? I thought so."

"But, you are probably right." Xue bows to the storm. "I rescind any claims of cowardice, my Lord Regent. Clearly, if you wished to impede our travel, you need to resort only to petty tricks." Xue chuckles himself as he finishes, knowing that it is only a storm, just as he knows the roads through Shadow are known to change sometimes.

"So, let us hurry to the town, before the storm arrives."

Xue breaks into a jog, knowing the minion will keep pace with him all the while. And after perhaps a quarter of an hour, they reach the town. Xue stops outside the fort, ignoring the stares from those few townsfolk who haven't already sought shelter inside their homes. He looks down at the guardsman, "Soldier, what town is this? The roads through Shadow have shifted again, and I am not where I expect to be."
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Tue May 29, 2012 4:03 pm

The guardsman does a small take at Xue's appearance, but recovers quickly enough. "Welcome to Farmouth, sir," he says. "If you can tell me where you expected to be, or to go, I'd be glad to say where we are in relation to that."
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Xue Ren'gui on Tue May 29, 2012 4:20 pm

"Eventually, we expect to arrive at the Lord Regent's presence. Though, I suppose there's no hurry on that regard. I have several years before I am expected."
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Wed May 30, 2012 12:41 pm

"Oh," says the Guardsman, "well we're a distance from there. It'll take awhile to sail all the way to Onyx, but it shouldn't be any great problem. I know there's a new ship arrived recently, the Celeste, and they've been asking about the Imperium and looking to get some maps. Nice enough folks, or so folks say." He shrugs. "Small city, lots of gossip. Anyway, they're down by the docks if you want to see if they're headed your way. If not them, maybe some one else?"
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  Xue Ren'gui on Wed May 30, 2012 12:52 pm

Xue looks towards the docks, then towards the storm on the horizon past them. "Sailing to Onyx. Do you hear that, Xin? We get to sail. That sounds almost decadent, just standing around for days on end, watching the world go by. Father would be apalled at the idea of so much idleness. I find myself immediately in favor of the idea." He turns again to the guardsman, "And yonder storm, is it a danger to these sailing ships? I would rather just settle with the Captain and stay the night on the ship, than stay at an inn while we wait for the storm to pass."
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Re: Second Star from the Right (Mint & Winnow)

Post  David on Wed May 30, 2012 2:10 pm

"That storm," says the Guardsman, "doesn't seem to be headed inshore, but that could change at any time. Depends on how soon it passes or blows over. Until it does one or the other, no ship is going far from shore. As for arrangements, that's up to the master of the ship."
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