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Black Sapphire Tavern Officer Lounge Notices

Posted: Sat Dec 07, 2019 7:29 am
by Phocion
Clinging Frost, Day 14 Year 814

Fellow Officers,

It has been exactly one year since I wrote to convey Major Zado’s order to march on Bezyl, Araknai Queen.

You will recall Bezyl was slain in the Turning Wheel of that year. Since then, I have engaged in constant bloody reconnaissance to discover the cause behind Bezyl. Many of you have joined me and it is well known that the University novitiate, Wren, has been a regular companion. The partnership seemed natural because she and Corin, another University novitiate, collected the Araknai eggs.

One day Wren summoned me to the Temple of the Elements. That Temple has been flooded with fanatical magic users. Wren told me that she was curious what had caused the magic users to become crazy and she also said the Temple may reveal information about the nature of magic. The first concern resonated with my search for the truth behind Bezyl. The second concern was less interesting to me, but I thought it may be interesting to our warlocks.

After hours of exploring the Temple’s halls and slaughtering everything in our path, Wren stopped. I cannot explain why she picked such an inopportune time to do this, but she brought up my warning that Rhojidan would not sit idly by if the University betrayed us an bred an army of Araknai for Kalmyr. She called me “genocidal!” Imagine that. We are deep within an ancient temple filled with fanatics bent on killing us, and – by the Destroying Dragon – she wants to stop and ask me about something I said months ago!

Could she not see the irony in calling me genocidal during a break from killing hundreds of strangers? Could she not see the sanity in making sure that giant spiders are not made into instruments of war? Was she being driven insane by the same force that had driven all the other magic users in that temple to madness?

So I slapped her. Instead of coming to her senses, she has changed and become combative. In response to one letter I wrote her, she told me to commit the most grievous of crimes, suicide.

Today she sent a Melbere, a pale old gnome, to do her bidding. I was with one of our recruiters discussing our recruiting efforts when he came into the Keep uninvited.

The recruiter wrote down the exchange:

Melbere walks in from the north drenched in sweat: Hail, sir. I am here to relay information on behalf of the University.

Phocion greets Melbere with a warm smile: What brings you to the Keep, Melbere?

Melbere: I am here to relay information on the behalf of the University.

Phocion: Then who are you seeking?

Melbere: You.

Phocion: Eh? Why?

Melbere: Your recent…happenings with a University novitiate has forced this meeting. I am to return these.

Melbere pulls a rainbow lollipop and one hundred gold pieces from his pockets and offers them to Phocion.

Phocion focuses on the rainbow lollipop and retrieves it from Melbere: I recognize the candy, but not the gold?

Melbere continues, heedless of Phocion's words: From this point forward, should you continue positive relationships with Miss Wren, nay, the University at large, you are
to start from the bottom rung of friendship. We wish not hostility.

Phocion: Who sent you?

Melbere strains to stand as tall as he can: A substitute for the High Sage.

Phocion chuckles at Melbere: Look at how you strain yourself to stand taller among the walls of this keep.

Melbere's demeanor quickly changes as he begins to snarl. Some drool forms around the corners of his mouth. He snarls at Phocion like a frightened wolf pup.

Phocion: Enough. I notice you returned 100 gold coins for the yellow pollen I sent "Miss Wren." Your High Sage's price was always 5,000 gold coins. Why such a reduction?

Melbere continues to snarl: Those working to regain the University’s good will are to suffice with less than the norm. Or need I slap you with a gauntleted fist for you to
understand.

Melbere looks around for something to stand on. Realizing the absurdity of his statement, he seems to calm.

Phocion: So “Miss Wren” did not tell you what she said to provoke me?

Melbere stands in silence for a considerable time.

Phocion: What about her response when I attempted to make amends in private? To kill myself - a mortal crime against Rho? And her response now, returning 2% of the
going price of my gift to her?

Melbere: I need not her reasons, nor your input. This is a statement, not a debate.

Phocion: What's in it for you, to run across Alarra on her errand?

Melbere continues to work himself into a frenzy: Duty. Duty to what I’ve seen in my life. DUTY YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND!.

Melbere spits at his feet.

Phocion chuckles: What are you withholding? Or did the dwarven stout you drank on the way in make you forget?

Melbere rips his crossbow from his shoulder and awkwardly points it at Phocion’s glorious Ebonsteel Dragon Armor. His eyes roll back with fury. The guards standing around do not even bother responding to Melbere’s pointless threat.

Phocion: Alright. Alright. You know I am just ribbing you. The Army is bound by duty, like you. Go on and tell me what you want.

Melbere looks around at the soldiers, apologizes, and sheathes his weapon. You and the Army are to start at the bottom rung of positive political association with the University. Further provocation will be met with war.

Phocion stares at Melbere.

[Scribe’s note – this conflict started over Phocion threatening war if the University raised an army of Araknai. Now the University if threatening war over a slap].

Phocion: Sir, at first I thought you were here to discuss the conflict me between Wren and me. With such a great message, let me take you to a superior so that he can oversee.

Melbere: I trust you not. I am here for one purpose only. I will not falter nor be sidetracked by games of yours. Relay it yourself.

Phocion sighs deeply: I wish I could say you are offering some kind of friendship, but it is clear you are offering servitude. If you have no further information (not that you have said anything useful), be good and gone.

Melbere: In accordance with my duties, are done here.

Melbere starts to mumble to himself.

Melbere, now yelling at Phocion: Die in agony!

Phocion unsheathes his Magebane Glaive and charges Melbere. Melbere grabs a recall stone from his pocket and disappears.

Thus ends the recruiter’s notes.

This is obviously nothing more than an old, drunken gnome getting caught up in the pride and ambition of a young, human novitiate. There has been no word from High
Sage Astrum or of any notable member of the University that they have a grievous with the Army.

While I doubt this is evidence of anything more than Wren’s own petty vendetta, it may be evidence that members of the University are going insane like the fanatics in the Temple of the Elements. Maybe the same force that acted on Bezyl is acting on the University. Wren and Corin did insist on collecting Araknai eggs and wanted to “talk” with Bezyl. Melbere was foaming at the mouth in response to reasonable questions about his threat of war.

Shield held high,

Phocion

Re: Black Sapphire Tavern Officer Lounge Notices

Posted: Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:01 am
by Wren
And the inevitable fallout. Might edit this later with a bit of exposition, but I might not.

In a Sitting Room

This square room is much smaller than the large war council chamber to the
west, but it's made of the same rounded ebony stones and has a curved, vaulted
ceiling that is somewhat lower. Several big wooden chairs have been covered
with thick, soft furs dyed black and blue. A large box window in the east wall
provides an expansive view of the eastern wintery mountains.
Obvious Exits: West

A Group of Wealthy Merchants no longer needs your help.

The door to the west opens.

Phocion rides from the west, mounted on a white snow wolf.
Phocion smiles warmly as he greets you.
Suddenly, it all becomes clear to Phocion.

Wren is quite nearly vibrating with rage. 'What. Did you two. Say to each other?'

Phocion thinks, "Hmm..."
Phocion raises an eyebrow and asks, "Eh?"

You say 'The rumors I have heard are beyond ridiculous, but given the men involved I am forced to ask: did you claim I told you to kill yourself? Did Melberne threaten a war? Did you two in fact, 'drop trou' as a Squire put it, and compare the lengths of your manhoods?'

Phocion says 'Wren. Two different people have already come to me with "messages" from you. I'm getting tired of the antics. I'll answer one of your questions.'

You say 'I sent them to return your insulting -confection-, with the mind that they would keep an eye on each other.'
You say 'But fine. You want to answer just one of my questions. I'll consider it carefully.'

Phocion removes his weapons and helm after hearing Wren's agreement.
Phocion sheathes his Mace of the Merciless.
Phocion slings his Reinforced Sapphire Bulwark over his back.
Phocion unsheathes his Magebane Glaive.
Phocion puts his Magebane Glaive in his backpack.

Wren gestures towards the assembled merchants and guards that are witnessing this little scene. 'You seem surprised to hear that I was here. You shouldn't be.'

Phocion removes his Reinforced Ebonplate Visor Helm.

Phocion says 'Wren, you've been far more places in this world I have. You're right, I shouldn't be surprised you are in a place as tame as this.'

You say 'I have supplied Rhojidan's priests and merchants, fought alongside her soldiers--well-mannered or not, avenged and fed her orphans, and even cooperated with its Underworld when needs must. '
Wren points her finger at Phocion. 'I have broken up fights in the Wretch district and run down criminals in the docks. Do you think I come to Rhojidan because it is 'tame'?'

Phocion chuckles merrily.

You say 'I come here because the world is dangerous and I have an affection for her people.'

Phocion says 'Four questions?'

You say 'The entire reason I am here, the reason I've put up with this buffoonery so far, is that the lst thing I'm after is a war.'
You say 'You accept my help doing Rhojidan's deeds, retrieving and putting to rest her dead. You accept my leadership, accompanying me into a hostile environment. Then, after a single joke in an active theater, you backhand me with a gauntleted fist as if I were some diseased whore.'
You say 'That would have been enough. We could have left it there, Phocion.'
You say 'But then you send pathetic, mewling letters, offering me candy of all things as if I were an upset child. And now, you have apparently published some invective that has everyone whispering about what idiots all of us are and worrying quietly if someone actually WILL star t a damn war.'
You say 'So here's the one and only question I expect you to answer, Lieutenant: what the hell are YOU after?'

Phocion says 'I won't try to justify or explain what happened in the Temple. You've been a companion beyond reproach on our travels. Why do you think I always sought you out? When I knew you were outraged at me, I tried to think of a way to soften the outrage. I searched all the luxury shops of Rhojidan, not that there are many. When I saw the rainbow lollip, I thought of you. Its many colors reminded me of your magics and and many skills. It was rare and unique, like you. I even had to pay someone to help me write the letter, since I can't. '
Phocion says 'Then you responded by telling me to impale myself. You've been around the Rhojandi long enough to know that suicide is our greatest crime. I tried again, this time sending you a yellow pollen. You had said before that you use those in your works. No response came until you sent a sweaty, drunk gnome to the Black Sapphire Keep. He was the one who said there would be war if I failed to satisfy whatever "the lowest rung on the friendship ladder" is.'

You say 'I was... inviting you... to SODOMIZE yourself, not kill yourself.'
Wren gestures dramatically towards the watching merchants. 'Yes, write THAT one down for the records, in those exact words.'
You say 'When Wren the Enchantress tells you to sit on a polearm and spin, she means the blunt end.'

Phocion says 'Well that's so much better then! I try to smooth things over, and that's your answer? After calling me genocidal?'

You say to Phocion, 'You really are--'

Wren bites her tongue and does not say whatever comes to mind.

Phocion says 'Are?!'

Wren looks at Phocion with a murderous expression. It takes a few seconds for it to soften, and it only softens a little.

You tell Phocion 'If you really are illiterate, you should take this as an object lesson. Pay someone to help you write a letter, then pay someone else to read it back to you.'

You say '--hopeless. You really are hopeless.'

Phocion chuckles merrily.
Phocion says 'Anyways, I believe I answered two of your questions. Which should entitle me to ask - what is it you really want? Don't give me this line about avoiding war.'

You say 'I don't know who taught you how to treat a friend. Maybe nobody did, and if so, that is very sad. But I know the Army taught you better than to strike an ally. So, what I want is, in descending order of importance:'
You say 'For my friends not to get reprimanded, executed, or worse for writing checks their stations cannot cash.'
You say 'For you to apologize properly. And I will tell you how, since everyone has trouble with expressing themselves these days.'
You say 'For Melbere to apologize for however many of these rumors are actually true.'
You say 'And for this matter to be settled.'

Phocion takes a moment to ponder the situation.
Phocion prays, "May the Might of Rho be with us."

You say 'You don't lack for strength.'
Wren says, with outstanding bitterness, 'You lack proper -aim-.'


Phocion says 'My favorite part of your words is that the matter between us be settled. How about this? As you know (and love to point out) I am practically a no one. I can't guarantee anything that is outside of my power, but I will recommend that none of your "friends" to be punished. I haven't heard that anyone was planning to anyways. Just let me know who your friend are if you are concerned about it. I will apologize the way that you want me to. I don't personally desire any apology from Melbere, the scrappy old man. And things will be settled if you agree to keep teaching me.'

Wren huffs. 'You incredible idiot, I meant you too. The last thing we need is some merchant or another getting nervous and taking out a contract on you.'

Phocion chuckles merrily.

You say 'Really, though, what was that supposed to accomplish? That stupid 'posting' everyone is talking about?!'

Phocion says 'Where do you get off telling me what I can say in the Keep? Do you see me talking about what you say in the University?'

You say to Phocion, 'You might feel awfully tempted if I spoke my mind as freely as you do.'
You say 'But no, apparently I'm the one who keeps her temper--poorly, perhaps, but she keeps it.'

Phocion takes a deep breath and says, "Well..."

You say 'So I will--biting back so many things I wish to say--continue teaching you with this first and most important lesson.'
You say 'Measure your words not only by how dearly you wish to speak them, but by the effect they will have.'
You say 'Now, both of our names are mud. It will take something truly astonishing to accomplish half the goals either one of us might have had in this city.'

Phocion says 'What did you have in mind? Did you learn something new that might explain Bezyl or the fanatics?'

Wren opens her mouth to scream.
Wren does not, and instead walks away, turns, and walks back around.

You tell Phocion 'I was going to build a childrens' library.'

Phocion says 'A what?'

You tell Phocion 'In the Temple district, adjacent or connected to the orphanage. They don't even have LIGHTS, Phocion.'

Phocion says 'Why do they need lights and a library?'

You tell Phocion 'I've got money now, and I was going to spend it on a facility and books and lots of things that Kalmyrians love.'
You say 'Quietly!'
You tell Phocion 'So I could raise some of the money there, and make it a diplomatic gesture. They would also get, you know, an education. Food, if they needed it.'

Phocion says 'What a terrible waste of money. You might understand our upper class, but these children don't want books.'

You say to Phocion, 'You might understand necessities, but you don't understand children.'

Phocion says 'Wren, I know this will be unusual for you to hear. But we aren't like the people from your island. We don't want charity like that.'

You say to Phocion, 'You don't want charity. I've been to the Wretch district enough times to know that you don't speak for everyone.'

Phocion says 'When I was younger than I can remember, I was sent to grow up in Hessa. I had to work in the fields for my keep. It made me who I am. It is not our way to coddle children.'

You say 'And I've been to the nice side of town too. That's also a load of bull.'

Phocion says 'Children don't know what's good for them and the wretches are failures. Don't waste your resources on them.'

You say to Phocion, 'You know, I think I was less angry when you struck me?'
You say to Phocion, 'Never mind.'

Phocion says 'You know, Kalmyrians are always saying we Rhojandi are the imperialists. Now you're here telling me how I should have lived and how our children should live?'

You say to Phocion, 'No. I'm saying I wanted to help.'

Phocion says 'Maybe instead of telling us what we should want, you can actually listen to what we want. And no, I don't mean beggars.'

You say to Phocion, 'Revenge, mostly.'
You say to Phocion, 'I've listened for a solid year now. Revenge on the Hollowhearts. Revenge on Bandits and Monsters.'
You say 'Revenge on Vagabonds who cheat at dice.'
You say 'Revenge on GHOSTS! I was exorcising them anyway, but there was a Black Sapphire officer who wanted someone to inflict suffering on the ghosts of soldiers he had already killed.'
You say to Phocion, 'And you know what, I've given this city revenge on its ills and its maligners.'

Phocion says 'You're making a good point. But we didn't build the city for revenge. We didn't build the roads for revenge. We didn't even build the orphange you reference for revenge. We're capable of more than that, but only when we're hardened by the cold.'

You say 'We're wandering. In the here and now, it doesn't matter, the fact that you worship a hardship you didn't even fully know as a child, the fact that people die of it, and the fact that I'd spend a great deal of resources giving children an education, none of that matters.'

Phocion says 'Well. What are we left with then?'

You say to Phocion, 'You convince me, however you can, that you're done making a mockery of me, yourself, and poor Melbere.'
You say to Phocion, 'Then we start over. That's the message I wanted to send, that we could clean the slate and start over. You and I, we aren't friends. Not again. Not yet.'
You say to Phocion, 'But we can be, if you want to work on it.'
You say to Phocion, 'This is your one and only second chance, as far as I'm concerned. First, you convince me, however you can, that you're done with the threats and lies and whatever the hell this posting is. I still haven't even read it.'

Phocion asks himself with concern, "What?"

Phocion says 'How about this! You haven't even read "it"?! And you come in here making demands and lecturing me. I was willing to apologize and move forward. But once again, you're coming to quick conclusions and basing ultimatums on them. It's one thing to apologize to you (which I had already tried to do), but now I have to admit I somehow made of fool of myself? And of this gnome, based on something you haven't even seen?'
Phocion says 'And you're the smart, educated one.'
Phocion says 'No.'

Wren 's fury fades entirely. The anger on her face is gone. She is calm, cool, collected.
You say 'Fine.'

Phocion says 'I want to be your companion, but I won't be your servant. Call me again if you want to be reasonable and work together, not make me into your animal.'

You say 'Fine, you are right. One hundred percent correct.'

Phocion says 'Really???'

You say 'I shouldn't blame you--entirely--for the rumors others are spreading based on your actions.'
You say 'Those rumors may be beyond your control.'
You say 'So let's go find a copy, Phocion. Quest number one for the two of us. Let's see what the scribe wrote about us.'

Phocion is now following you.

===

In a Stone Corridor Before the Main Road

You stand at the eastern end of a huge stone corridor leading west. From
here you can see the vaulted ceilings of the corridor high above, with wooden
beams supporting the ceiling and glowing lanterns swinging below the beams. To
the east, a very large, heavily reinforced wooden door leads out into the city.
There is an open door to the east.

Obvious Exits: East West


You say 'If it's all the same to you, I'm going to enter from the side.'
You say 'So I am not laughed at, mocked, or shot.'

---

In a Small Corridor of the Keep

This small corridor runs somewhere near the southeastern corner of the
massive keep. The entire hallway is made of the same dark ebony stone. There
are no banners or other decorations along these walls, only flickering torches
providing a dim glow. The stone floor is quite dirty in most places.
Obvious Exits: North Southeast


Phocion says 'You know your way around the city well.'

You say 'You may call me a dictator or a bitch or whatever else you like, but never say I am a liar.'

You say 'I've walked every street in Rhojidan, without exception.'

===

The two guild guards cross their glaives in front of you, blocking entry.

One of them says to you in a firm voice, "Guild members only."

You say 'Fine.'

===

In the Captain's Chamber

This chamber obviously belongs to the highest ranking member of the Dragoons
of the Blue Sapphire. There is a throne made from dark oak fastened to the
northern wall, facing south. In front of the throne is a long table running
east and west, with several maps and other documents spread across it.
Obvious Exits: South

A Captain of the Black Sapphire no longer needs your help.

You say 'Hello, Captain.'
You say 'I'd like to request a document.'

===

At the End of the Hall

You stand at the far south end of the narrow stone hallway. There are
flickering torches resting in sconces fastened to the walls. A stone staircase
in the corner leads above and below, while a huge, spiked gate blocks passage
to the east, protected by two armored guards.
There is a closed gate to the east.

Obvious Exits: North East Up Down

Army of Rhojidan Recruiter has a shop that buys and sells items. (LIST)

Army of Rhojidan Recruiter is offering a quest. (QUEST)

Phocion says 'It's okay, Recruiter. Bring her the scroll you took from that snarling gnome.'

===

You say '"Melbere was foaming at the mouth in response to reasonable questions about his threat of war. Shield held high, Phocion."'
Wren looks up from the document at Phocion with cold eyes. "So, 'die in agony' is a quote, is it?"

Phocion says 'That's how I remember it. Seems the Recruiter remembered it that way too!'

You say 'Foaming at the mouth.'

Phocion says 'I told him to add that.'

You say 'Mmhm.'

Phocion says 'In the spirit of truth.'

You say to Phocion, 'Disavow the exaggerations.'
You say to Phocion, 'Retract the lies.'
You say to Phocion, 'Leave whatever is left and the gnome TO ME'
You say to Phocion, 'And we will have ourselves a nice, civil, apology party.'

Phocion says 'Gladly. He did not foam at the mouth. Otherwise, it is all exactly as I remember.'

You say '"His eyes roll back with fury?"'
You say 'Did he actually point a crossbow at you, Phocion?'

Phocion says 'Well they didn't roll back, but they were furious'
Phocion says 'Yes he did do that'
Phocion says 'I had a hard time not laughing.'

You say to Phocion, 'Phocion, he's a spellcaster.'

Phocion shrugs his shoulders with indifference.
Phocion says 'What can I say? He did what he did.'
Phocion says 'I suspect he was drunk.'

You say to Phocion, 'Alright. I know he does carry the damn thing, for all that he knows how to use it.'
You say 'I'll take your word for it, and he'll apologize for that too.'

Phocion says 'Like I said, I don't care for him to apologize.'

You say to Phocion, 'He's not apologizing to you.'
You say to Phocion, 'I sent him to deliver a message, and he sullied the honor of myself, its recipient, and himself.'
Phocion says 'What can I say, he was drunk. I wouldn't be too hard on him.'

Wren asks the Recruiter, politely, for another copy. This one has gotten somewhat ruined by the way she gripped its edges, all crumpled and torn.

Phocion says 'Easy. We don't have as much parchment as you all have.'

You say 'Two will be plenty.'
You drop 500 gold.
You say 'Here, for your expenses.'

Phocion shakes his head.
Phocion says 'I have a question!'

You say to Phocion, 'Yes?'

Phocion says 'Do you ever eat anything that wasn't created by your own magic?'

You say to Phocion, 'Often enough.'

Phocion says 'What do you like to eat often enough?'

You say to Phocion, 'Tropical fruit is my favorite. Around here? Chef's choice.'

Phocion mutters about tropical fruits to himself.

Phocion says 'Okay! Anything else we need to talk about today. I don't know about you, but I'm worn out and could use some rest.'

You say to Phocion, 'There's still the matter of your actual apology. I don't want fruit, or food of any kind. Simply promise on your honor never to strike an ally like that again.'

Phocion says 'I promise never to strike you like that again.'

You say 'No.'

Phocion says 'Okay! I promise, on my honor, to never strike you like that again!'

You say 'It is not that you struck me like that--it is not even that you struck a woman like that, though you can be sure that every woman on the continent knows about it by now.'
You say 'It's that you struck an ally.'
You say 'In the field.'

Phocion says 'You called me a genocidal boy. In the field!'

You say 'In response to a joke, though I will apologize that it apparently hurt you more than I thought.'
You say 'And I'm sorry. If I knew how much it would hurt you, I wouldn't have said it. It was ill-considered.'

Phocion nods.

You say to Phocion, 'But you struck an ally in the field, regardless.'

Phocion says 'It is what it is, I never expected an apology.'

You say to Phocion, 'Here, in the black Sapphire Keep, you will apologize for that, and promise never to strike an ally in the field again.'
You say to Phocion, 'On your honor. I won't work with any man who doesn't make the same oath.'

Phocion says 'I'll make the oath concerning you, but not concerning any possible people.'
Phocion says 'What's I'm already willing to do should show you how much I regard you.'

You say 'Not any possible people. Allies. If you decide you're done with an ally, you tell them that and leave, you don't strike them.'

Phocion says 'Standing here in front of everyone arguing over an apology.'

You say 'Over a matter of honor, and over a matter of terms of engagement.'
You say 'This is the perfect place for it.'

Phocion appears deep in thought for a moment.

You say 'If I'm the only ally you'll promise to never strike in the field of war, I'm soon be the only ally you have left.'

Phocion says 'Well, you're talking about salt breathers anyways. The Army doesn't care about such things.'
Phocion suddenly shouts, "Aha!"
Phocion says 'I promise never to strike an allied member of the University like that!'

You say 'Maybe we're just not connecting properly here.'
You say 'Let me put it another way.'
You say to Phocion, 'I don't care if you hit me again. I don't care if you kill me, either, so long as you declare war first and do it properly.'
You say to Phocion, 'When you offer to fight by someone's side, you fight by their side, and if you change your mind, you don't betray them like you betrayed me.'
You say to Phocion, 'I don't care who they are.'
You say to Phocion, 'It's not that I'm mad about what you did, it's that I will not waste time with anyone who would do that sort of thing to any ally, whatsoever.'

Phocion says 'You are so confusing.'

You say to Phocion, 'What's confusing about, 'Do not stab your allies in the back'?'

Phocion says 'I stabbed an ally in the back?'

Wren pinches the bridge of her nose again. 'Metaphor.'
You say 'Apologies. Let me be clear.'
You say 'We agreed to work together. You inflicted violence on me without fair warning that you intended to stop. Do you understand how this compromises the terms of engagement? This is a military.'

Phocion says 'You know it's frustrating you're always looking to tell me how to think. I didn't want to bring it up, but at the time I was concerned you were going fanatical and slapped you to bring sense to you'
Phocion says 'Which you know, because you read the scroll. But I didn't want to bring that up. I just wanted to apologize and move on.'
Phocion says 'Because I Know there is no way you want to admit you could be influenced by whatever is going on out there. '

You say 'Bullshit.'
You say 'That's a flimsy excuse, and I don't believe it.'

Phocion says 'You want to be in total control. It's you shaping the world.'

Phocion says 'It would shatter your armor to think that things beyond us could be shaping us instead.'

Wren sighs. 'Okay, then.'
You say 'I had some hope there for a bit, but I think we're done here.'

Phocion says 'It's not any different than when I got made at Eryn, the Oracle for suggesting Rho was up to something.'
Phocion gives a friendly wave.
Phocion gives a friendly wave and says, "Farewell!"
Phocion gives a friendly wave and says, "Farewell!"
Phocion gives a friendly wave and says, "Farewell!"

You say 'Are you done?'

Phocion says 'Are YOU done?'

You say 'Goodbye, Phocion.'

Re: Black Sapphire Tavern Officer Lounge Notices

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:36 am
by notMelbere
Before and after message delivery, followed with a recounting by yours truly!

At the Village Square of Hessa

Wren says to Melbere, 'Oh, wait.'
Wren says 'I was hoping to prevail upon you two for a favor.'

Some words buzz through Wren's ears.

Melbere is highly intrigued. 'Go'on en, tell us!'
Thuridan says 'Aye?'

Wren says 'Let's... let's go to the inn, okay?'

Melbere says 'Arright, on the warpath we 'ar.'

---

In the Sungrass Inn

Melbere scans the room for seats. 'Ye' gotta spot?'

Wren quietly responds to the received tells.
Wren says 'Oh, um, sorry.'
Wren looks uncharacteristically distracted. 'Someone is using telepathy to, uh, hit on me?'
Wren pinks up. 'First time for everything, right?'

Thuridan looks alarmed.
Melbere's face turns into a disgruntled mess.

More buzzing through Wren's ears.
Wren says 'Gods, the timing.'

Melbere says ''At ain't right, at all.'

Wren says 'This is a serious discussion and it already looks a little silly from the outside. But now I'm trying to hold a straight face while flirting. Just give me one more minute to let him know another time would be better?'

Melbere says 'Arright, I'm gettin' seats.'

Melbere scopes out the table by the back-middle, and takes a seat. 'More'n welcome over, c'mon!'

More buzzing, more responses.

Thuridan approaches Melbere and takes a seat, compressing and packing his flying carpet.

Melbere looks at the seating arrangements. 'Two massive tables made-a smaller tables, couldn'ta just made 'em new.'
Thuridan shrugs his shoulders with indifference.

Buzz buzz, and the messages stop.
Wren suddenly reattains focus.
Wren says 'Wow, what a day. Anyway, I'd like for one or both of you to deliver a message for me.'

Melbere waves over Wren to the two's seats.

Wren says 'I dont' trust my hand to a quill.'

Thuridan nods. 'What is on your mind?'

Wren takes a seat. 'Phocion. He's not the one flirting with me, by the way, don't make that mistake before we get into this.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Th' winners 'o war write history.'
Melbere gives Wren a warm smile.

Wren says 'After the entire ... thing with Bezyl, I started journeying with him. Tried to win him over with friendship and comradery and all that, you know? I couldn't make overt diplomatic moves without the High Sage's approval, but... Astrum's been gone for some time, and I can't let this sit anymore.'

Melbere mentally braces himself for something terrible.

Wren says 'You see, after we went on a couple of missions together, and I started to feel like we were becoming friends..? I finally jokingly referenced his threats towards Kalmyr.'

Melbere says to you, 'An' what happen'd?'

Wren's tone quiets and levels, to that same calm she uses to cast spells. "He slapped me with the back of his hand, without even bothering to drop his weapon or remove his gauntlet."

Melbere bangs the table in anger as he stands upon his stool, looking across at Wren. 'HE WHAT?'

Wren says 'I could have killed him. I was furious.'

Thuridan stares, stunned.

Wren says 'But, instead, I scrubbed our mission and sent everyone home safely.'

Melbere drops from his standing position, apologizing to tavern-goers for the commotion.

Wren says 'This can't wait any longer for Astrum's input. I don't have the authority to do what I'd -like- to Phocion, so instead I need to establish peaceful terms. He sent me... letters. He seems legitimately apologetic.'

She conjures an illusion of two letters. 'I'm really not exaggerating the content, spelling, or penmanship of either. I need someone to return his lollipop and pay for the yellow pollen.'

Melbere says to you, ''As all bullshit, bull-asskissin-SHIT!' He reads the letters with seething anger.

Wren says 'I need someone to firmly establish that we are not friends. 'But that we might be colleagues again, if he's willing to work his way up from the absolute bottom rank. And I need someone to tell him he only ever gets this one second chance.'

Melbere says to you, 'Underworld's ass missy, I think I'm gonna tear 'is throat out.' He lets out a deep sigh.

Wren says to Melbere, 'If you weren't such a good actor, I wouldn't have even thought to ask you.'

Melbere says to you, ''Preciate 'at, this husk does. So, poli-ticks. Hm. Thuridan, 'How's iss hangin' with ye?'
Melbere gives Thuridan a nudge with his small shoulder.

Thuridan finaly unveils his expression, looking absolutely infuriated.

Wren says 'Unfortunately, this is important university business. Phocion has NOT been reprimanded for his threat. He apparently carries weight or support from the Army brass. He's strong. He'll be an officer sooner or later. While he's still feeling desperate and apologetic is the perfect time to put hooks into him. But I don't trust myself to do it myself.'

Thuridan nods his head and says, 'Aye. We'll do it.'
Melbere says to Wren, 'Army can kiss 'ah horse's ass, bleedin' thugs.'

Wren says 'And I won't send a woman. I was hoping you two might volunteer.'
She nods toward Thurdian. 'Thank you.'

Melbere says 'We can do 'iss, simple.'

Wren slides a rainbow lollipop and 100 gold coins across the table.

Wren says 'Give him these, and these coins precisely. They're Rhojidani mint, from a mission we partook on the Army's behalf.'

Melbere says 'Lollipop? What'sis for?'

Wren says to Melbere, 'That was attached to his first apology letter.'
Thuridan says 'His first letter.'

Melbere thinks to the two letter apparitions. 'Eh, ave-me...'

Wren whispers across to Melbere, 'Sorry! I thought you had made progress, but dunce that I am, I should have explained and not risked it.'

Thuridan reaches across the table, retrieving the lollipop and the coins.

Wren says 'Anyway, that's the task. Return the gift. Pay for the component. Explain we are not friends, but that we might be colleagues again. And that he only gets the one second chance.'

Melbere says 'Jus'... give 'em a candystick, a hundred crowns, an' that 'es a maggot amongst mongr-... 'es only got another chance.'

Melbere and Wren exchange nods.

Wren says to Melbere, 'But, of course, with detached dignity and diplomatic restraint.'

Thuridan nods his head, then looks at Wren sympathetically.

Melbere says to Wren, 'Are ye' sure we're fit fer this? I've allto-often seen the oppressed go unanswere'd, may getta' little passioned.'

Wren says to Melbere, 'You're both university students I trust with a dangerous task, and, um. To be completely honest, I'm entirely confident you both have the spiritual strength to be resurrected in the worst case scenario. It has to be us.'

Melbere quells his extreme feelings.

Wren says 'I could go through Guildmasters Eryn or Xelphiem. She's a friend, and he's... well, he's something.'

Melbere says 'Ave-me, I believe ye on th' las part.' He gives a knowing look to Thuridan.

Wren says 'But that would put the University in a position of weakness and underline just how much we're missing Astrum. Sorry to ruin our game of riddles for this, but I really can't put it off any longer.'

Thuridan says 'No, you were right. This has to be dealt with.'

Melbere clears his throat.
Melbere says 'Diplomatic entrust to deliver such, then.'

Wren nods.

Melbere says 'On the premise of independence from others, and a display of foundational strength.'
Melbere says to Wren, 'If it fixes why you're in a stupor, we'll hurl ourselves into steam geysers if you'd ask.'

Wren finally cracks another smile. 'Please don't.'

Melbere keeps his seriousness, but allows a small smirk.

Wren says, 'But if you happen to see an Army lieutenant leaning over a steam geyser precariously...'
Wren shakes her head, and dismisses her smile. '... never mind that.'

Melbere says to Thuridan, 'Preparations begin now, gather your belongings and a suitable mount. I'll take point-scout. Meet at Hessa's stables in... five minutes.'

Wren says 'Thank you, my friends.'

Thuridan nods and gathers his carpet, unpacking and mounting it. He moves to the entrance of the Inn.

Melbere stays behind. 'Havn't had a purpose like this since th' old days. Odd question, gotta horse-hoof anywhere 'round?'

Wren says to Melbere, 'Well, let's hope you shoulder these burdens as few times as necessary... but I'm glad you're here, w-'
Wren says '... a horse-hoof?'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Ah! Sorry, sorry, missy. Just nostalgia. Symbol. What wer' you saying?'

Wren shakes her head. 'Nothing, just that I'm glad you're here.'
She continues, 'Oh! Well, that's a question I can ask at our next game of dice.'

Melbere laughs heartily. 'I c'n only keep the seriousness fer so long. Gotta... couple quarter-turns 'fore preparation-time ends.'

Wren says to Melbere, 'Oh. Before you go, do you need a flying carpet?'

Melbere says, 'Carpet? Why?'

Wren says to Melbere, 'To ease the journey.' She slides over 10,000 gold coins to Melbere. 'This should cover University stable charges.'

Melbere waves off the coinage. 'I don' need it, jus' Pakritharna n' me.'

Wren says, 'Hmm... Alright, then.'

Melbere says to you, 'I'm glad yer speaking up. 'Igh-sage on leave fer too long forces independence.'

Wren nods seriously.

Melbere uses his packs as a booster seat to place his boots upon the table in a relaxing position.
Melbere mutters ''Ef only I were a few years younger, heh. Any other information, supplementin' or otherwise?'

Wren shakes their head. 'He stopped communicating after the second attempted apology, so I'm afraid I don't know much about his current mental state. This is all I'm working with, for now.'
''Ow tall's the bastard?'
'About twice as tall as you. Rides a snow wolf.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Breakin' out the best material fer him, should negoci's turn badwise. I pray none'a such happens.'

Wren opens her mouth, stops, pauses, and says, 'No, no, it's for the best that we prepare for the worst. Either way, good luck.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Luck's for those on the hoof's bad side.' He smiles.

Thuridan says to Melbere, 'All sorted. When are we moving?'
Melbere says to Thuridan, 'As soon as possible. Let's go!'

Wren returns the smile, 'Wisdom, then, to both of you.'

Thuridan nods.
Melbere stands from his seat.

Thuridan says to Wren, 'Yan's wheel spin in your favor. We will let you know what is the outcome.'

Wren says 'Thank you both.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'And should we not return, assume the worst.'

Wren says to Melbere, 'I'll prepare the soul dust, but I hope it proves unnecessary.'

Melbere says to Thuridan, 'Stables!'

Melbere marches from the commons room, invigorated with life.
Thuridan nods and strides off.

---

Back In the Sungrass Inn

Wren says to Melbere, 'So, how'd it go?'
Wren takes a seat, looking tense.

Melbere takes a seat opposite Wren.
Melbere says 'I... I 'unno. He provo'kd me like a fiend. 'Cant letta man do 'at, insult ye over n' over.'
Wren says 'So he remains insecure.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Did'ya get th' message about Thuridan?' He looks at the empty seat next to him.

Wren leans back, her eyes glancing upward. 'Yes, I'll make sure it's all smoothed out. How did you respond to the provocations?'

Melbere says to Wren, ''Alf neutral, 'alf gutting-madman.'
Melbere bits his inside cheek in anger at himself.

Wren taps her finger on the table once, twice, three times, thinking that over. 'Good. Better by far than simpering or backing down.'

Wren says 'So he barked like a scared dog. What next?'

Melbere laughs, seriousness draining from the old storyteller's face. 'Maybe throw a rock through th' campus winnows, seems up 'is alley.'

Wren nods toward Melbere, explaining more of Phocion. 'Not the sort of insight I wanted to share before a diplomatic council, so I hope you don't hold my silence against me.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Lip'sa sealed, missy.'
Melbere says ''An I hope you don’t min' the liber-tays I took. I extrapolat'd the relation o'ye two to Uni n' Army relations.'

Wren nods toward Melbere. 'And what did he have to say about that?'

Melbere says 'Hmm. 'E understood. Continu'd 'is barkin at me.'

Melbere gives Wren a warm smile. 'Got'ta use the length-ova-height line.'

Wren doesn't hesitate to bury her head in her hands.

Wren says 'Of course you did.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Oh c'm on en! Iwwas great! I 'new e'd insult my stature! Kay en ee double-you!'

Wren can't help but laugh into her hands. 'Three preserve us.'

Melbere begins to understand the seriousness of his words. 'Oh. Oh Yan, I 'early started a war.'

Wren reveals herself, and smiles. 'Possibly. But you didn't. And in a reasonable world, you couldn't. Neither of you have the rank.'

The two go back and forth over various subjects, and Wren notices Melbere’s hazy recounting and retelling of such.

Wren says 'Take as much time as you need. Compose yourself. Compose your thoughts.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'I apologize if this inn’t what ye wanted. Thuridan ‘aint there. I couldn't, couldn't hold m’ temper.'

Wren says 'Then, after sleeping on it, tell me a story, Melbere, about what happened. I need to know, so I can have the first clue as to what to do next.'

Melbere says 'Such a wildcard as I shoul'nt be in politics.'

Melbere smiles thinly at Wren.

Wren says to Melbere, 'Then aren't you glad you're only running messages for Noviciates?' And not High Sage whatevers?'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Riding, not running.' He and Wren share a weak laugh.
Melbere says 'Expect yer story tomorrow. I'm off to bed and 't regret my words inna morn'.'

Wren says to Melbere, 'Of course. Thank you, Melbere. You're a true friend.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'As ar' ye. 'Been up moons-galore now, never wanted th' long sleep more 'n my life.'

Melbere lowers himself from the table stool, heading to the innkeeper.

---

The sun rises and falls over the Sungrass Inn.

Wren is sitting within sight of the entrance to the sleep area. She catches Melbere's eyes and immediately adopts a soft smirk. It isn't a smile, and it isn't quite neutral either, but the gnome might recognize it as the expression she takes when trying maintain an emotionless gambling face.

Melbere rubs sleep from his eyes as he notices Wren's gaze. ''Hwat, somethin' happen?'

Wren says to Melbere, 'Why don't you have a seat, Melbere? If you wanna clean up first, that's fine. I'm not in any sort of rush.' She sits patiently, near a couple of cups of water and a light breakfast.

Melbere waves off the cleaning. 'Fine wit'out, c'n wait 'till after breakfast. He takes a seat across from Wren. 'Speak'in of, quite'a nice platter... 'Iss fer me, right?'

Wren nods. 'Please, help yourself.'

Melbere does so, tearing into the food with small bouts of dignified eating etiquette. 'What's on ye mind?' Melbere asks with a mouth full of food.

Wren says 'You seemed a little rough last night, so I was hoping some rest would help. Maybe now we can talk about your trip, yesterday. You know, to Rhojidan?'

Melbere nods, continuing his eating. He quickly chases it down with an entire cup of water. ''Arright, where ye want me 't start? At'a stables?'

Wren says to Melbere, 'How about before you reached Rhojidan. Make any stops along the way?'

''Sides som separations, nay. No rests, either. 'Ad idea, thinkin' back.'

'Okay then, you reached the city. What next?'

Melbere gesticulates with crumb-covered hands, 'Youngy 'n I discussed our plan at th' gates, then 'eaded to the stables to stash ol' Pak. 'E got caught up in... troubles. Refer t' the mail, 'n ask em if ye wanna know why.'
Wren says, 'Okay, so you pressed on alone.'

Melbere looks at the other cups of water, searching for acceptance to drink one. He immediately downs another following a motion to the cups by Wren. 'Ran 'round Rhoj fer a time, not easy fer one like me, eh? Some question askin' and investigati'v werk an I found em at the entrance to th' Keep.
He continues, ''Portant to note, at 'iss time, I was sweaty, tired, and all-round grumpy from th' journey. So 'eh greeted em, exchanged pleasantries, th' like.'

Wren watches him talk, silently.

Melbere slows his words. 'I may av... like 'ah said erlier, extrapolate'd yer relationship between ye two as Uni 'n Army relations. 'Es movin' up in rank, as ye said.'

'I said it was likely. He's still a lieutenant.'

Melbere shrugs at the mention. 'Good 'nough fer me.'

Wren says, 'Alright.'

Melbere continues his recounting. ''E asked who sent me, I said ah 'substitute fer the high-sage.''

Wren interjects. 'Mmhm. And why did you say that?'

''Cause my words lacked power. 'Aint a soul gonna listen 't a single ramblin' madman if he 'aint got politickal backin.'

Wren says 'Let's stop right here, for a second. And take apart that sentence.'

Melbere takes yet another cup of water. 'Uh, arright.'

Wren cites '"Ain't a soul gonna listen 't a single ramblin' madman if he ain't got political backin'." So out of concern that a personal message, delivered due to a personal argument, would lack proper... gravitas. And out of concern that you might resemble a rambling madman...'

Melbere fervently explains himself to Wren, ''E coulda dragged me to a back-alley 'an caved my head in if I 'adnt said that. Ye see, I'm jus’ an old bastard on 'm own.'

Wren says '... you assigned yourself undue authority to speak for the University, so that the University would be represented by this rambling madman.'

‘Yes! Yer gettin i- Oh, Rho's balls, shit.'

'Alright. You were afraid, and more afraid of failing to deliver the message than you were of the consequences of your lie.'

Melbere says 'Yeh, 'sentially.'

Wren says 'Noted. Let's keep going, Melbere. What happened next?'

Melbere looks at Wren with sleepy-eyed concern. 'Ar' ye makin' a prison report?'

Wren says to Melbere, 'No. I've already decided none of my friends will suffer for my poor choices. This is to determine how much work I'll have to do to protect you. So please do tell me everything. If you leave out a detail you might decide now is somewhat embarrassing, and it bites me in the ass?'

Wren finally takes a sip of water. 'In that case, I will be cross. '

Melbere allows himself a small laugh. 'Right 'en, back to it. Ey'll remove all theatrics.'

He clears his throat. 'After that, 'e insulted my height, an' I used th' practiced line. 'E laughed, oddly. Said the money wasn't on par 't what the Arcanery usually offers. “Five thousand,” 'e said.'

'And your response?'

'Told 'em that 'il need to work fer such an increase, 'an that I’d slap em with a gauntlet'd fist if he didn' understand. Then gave 'em a small snarl under 'm robes. …Ye want'd it all, miss-takes included.'

Wren nods toward Melbere, her expression unfaltering. 'Please. Continue.'

The old gnome does so. ''E said, “Did "Miss Wren" not tell you what she said ta provoke me?” An ye didn', so I just stood'n silence. 'E list'd a buncha reasons, I c'n list em if ye want, but I 'aint really care much at the time. 'Ant even 'member why 'e did so.'

'Mmhm. Did any of his reasons get under your skin?'

''Fact, it lemme regain my politic-mind composure with 'is boringness.'

'How did you respond, then?'

Melbere does morning stretches as he speaks. ''Tol 'em I was makin' a statement, and it wasn't up fer debate.'

Wren says 'Alright. What happened next?'

Melbere hrms and haws. ''E asked why I'd run 'cross continent fer yer errands. I respond'd... rath'r passionately to 'at.' He finishes his stretches.

Wren says to Melbere, 'Do you recall precisely what you said and did?'

Melbere collects proper descriptors. 'I told'em 'bout duty, which 'e knew none'ah. Spit at m' feet as I finished m'talkin', and he jus' laughed at me.' 'An then, 'e got the better of me, 'orry.'

Melbere fidgets in his seat.''Ar ye sure I have'ta recount th' whole thing? 'Iss embarrasin', looking back.'

Wren says 'I think I've made myself entirely clear on that matter.'

Melbere imitates Phocion's voice. ''An what are ye withholding? Or did’at dwarven stout you drank on the way 'ere make ye forget? Ye know that'sa sore subject, so I respond'd not so kindly as old-day instinct took over.'

He follows alongside his words, like a play. 'Ripp'd my crosser from its sheathe, an' pointed it at 'em with barely held fury. Guards took'ah short time 't point their weapons at me due 't en’sane brashness.'

Wren simply nods. Her expression remains stoic, as she holds that straight face. Her voice might catches the tiniest bit as she says, 'Then?'

''M anger remain'd flared as he talk'd me down from shootin' 'is head off. I told 'em yer message again. Start on 'eh bottom rung 'f friendship, taggin' the Army 'longside 'im. Said further provocation 'll be met wi' war.' Melbere cringes as he says such.

Wren says 'Mmhm. Well, is there anything else?'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Apologies fer such, but 'aint anyone's place to insult those 'a trust. 'N yea, 'er is.'

He taps his cheek as he leans onto the table. 'At 'iss point I think 'e realized I wasn't on 'fficial business, an' could do the afformention'd alley drag. 'Said stuff 'bout "great message", n' "talk with a superior". Told 'em to relay it 'imself, fer it wasn't m' stated mission.'

Wren says 'You decided to bullshit your way out of the perceived corner, in other words.'

'Eh, not what I thought 'inna moment. Just want'd to stick it to em.'

Wren nods, accepting the correction. 'Okay,' she says, 'thank you for the clarification.'

Melbere says, ''E said I offered servitude, not friendship. Gave 'ah passin snide while doin' such. So I respond'd in kind as 'ah took out a returnin' stone. Whisper'd under 'm breath fer him to die n' agony. 'E 'eard it, lungin' fer me as I got the latent power workin'.'

Wren takes a deep breath.

Melbere says to Wren, ''Magine my face as I toyed with the stone, seein' 'iss bastard leap at me. Anycase, got back 't the tavvy safe 'an sound, ye know the story from there.'

Wren says 'Alright. I'm going to just... sit here for a few minutes, and think. Please remain, if you would.'

Melbere peels himself from the table, remaining in his seat. 'Sorry 'bout all 'at, I donnow how 't make it up to ye.'

Wren doesn't respond. She takes another sip of water, and takes a little while to gather her thoughts. When she finally speaks again, it's slow and calm, just like before. 'Both of us made a few mistakes, and I would like to talk about them in detail. But first, you should know something.'

Melbere cocks his head at the mention. 'What'sat?'

Wren says 'You should know that nothing you just said is a surprise to me. As it happened, I had business in Rhojidan yesterday evening. It's a large city, so I thought it safe enough to deal with the merchants in the royal palace. Business was swift and professional, because they were eager to ask all sorts of interesting questions afterwards.'

'Ye... ye expect'd me to act wi' zero wisdom? Like a child?'

Wren says 'You see, Melbere, I am the subject of so much gossip these days. Because the very first thing Phocion did after you left, the very first thing, was to have these copied by the Recruiting Hall scribe.' She lays down a piece of paper, seemingly snatched from the air.

Melbere picks up the paper, turning it over. He studies it carefully, beginning to parse the language written. 'What'n Underlands is 'iss shit? I'd laugh iffit wasn't distribut'd.'

Wren says 'This is the propaganda piece that Phocion is spreading, to make me and you the laughingstock of Rhojidan. And it is awfully close to the truth, isn't it?'

Melbere leans on the table once more, looking at the paper in light fear. 'No, no! 'Iss isn't what I said...!'

Wren says 'You whispered 'die in agony', you did not yell it. You did state further provocation would be met with 'war'. And I believe he did capture adequately your ridiculous response to his equally ridiculous lie about five thousand gold pieces for yellow pollen. For now, let’s just ignore the entire section with the crossbow.'

Wren says to Melbere, 'So, naturally, hearing all sorts of scandalous rumors--you know how rumors end, and this is how they STARTED--I set aside my prior goal of not confronting the man.'

Melbere detaches himself from reading to speak to Wren. 'Story 'istory says the Arcanery needs 't make an example 'ah me, apologize, 'n re-establish positive terms.'

'Hush. Phocion and I talked. We talked in the royal palace. We talked in the streets of Rhojidan. We talked all the way down to the Keep. Your account here and now largely confirm that he told me the truth.'

Wren swishes her glass around a little. 'So. Thank you for that.'

Melbere says to Wren, 'Ye know I'm wise as a pair of stones 'n a riverbed. Why'd ye send me?'

Wren says 'Obviously, I overestimated you and Thuridan. And you dramatically underestimated me.' She takes another drink.

'…I 'ad no time to practice m' lines.' Melbere sits up straight once again.

'I had hoped the two of you, and I truly should have sent three, could deliver a simple message. But it was foolish of me to ask you to do this so soon after telling you the story. You didn't act like an adventurer, or a courier, or even an actor. She hammers the next point home. 'You acted like an enraged grandfather, Melbere. I wanted you to deliver a message, but YOU wanted to inflict shame and pain.'
Wren says 'It is entirely my fault that I didn't see that coming. So, you have my apologies. I misspent my trust in you and your trust in me.'

Melbere stares at the textures within the table between the two.

'Please understand that I don't want to hurt Phocion. Really, understand that. Not as a friend, or as a colleague. Understand it as someone who lives in the world of the University of Kalmyr, that I do not want to hurt Phocion.'
Wren says with a sudden increase in volume, an absolute confidence to her voice that projects throughout the entire tavern, 'Because he is not already hurt!'

Melbere's head snaps back from the sudden volume.

Wren takes a deep breath. 'I like you, Melbere, and I hope we can stay friends and work together more in the future. But you need to respect our school more than this. I have mastered all the University has to teach in Illusion, Enchantment, Divinity, and Mysticism. If I wanted this or any other man ruined, I would ruin them myself.'

Melbere gives slight acknowledgement as he returns to his prior posture. 'Yer right, I did want to gut em n' string em 'cross buildings. I didn' want 'em to do such things to someone like ye. Parents don'like when their children get bullied, ye know? 'Iss difficult fer me 't think'ah my friends in any other way then grandchildren. Bad 'abit.'

Wren nods. 'And I thank you for that impulse. And for our friendship. Really, I do. But in the future, and we will have a future together, we must ask ourselves what our goals our and what our mission is before taking dramatic action.' Wren takes another deep breath, and finishes her glass of water.

Melbere gives a thin smile to Wren.

'Do you know what day this is, Melbere? This is day one of the Blackest Fire. …We near the end of the year. 814 may end before Astrum returns.'

'Eh, 'never thinka 'bout time lest I gotta date, but 'ats somethin' to consider.'

Wren says, 'You. Me. Everyone at the University. We have to improve. We have to be better, and be prepared in case he does NOT return.'

Melbere tentatively stretches his neck, making sure to not break anything. 'Whadda we do then? If 'e ain't commin' back.'

'For my answer to that question, let's return to what you just said.'

'Huh? Dates?'

'You wanted to protect me, and in fact, I did want to be protected. The last thing I wanted was to confront the man directly, and hash out a long and unproductive conversation. I wanted a clean break with a simple message.' She pauses. 'Did anything you accomplished yesterday protect me from that? Or at all? No. I ended up having a much longer and much more complicated conversation with the man while you were sleeping off whatever it is you drank yesterday.'

Melbere says, 'Paintin' a brighter colour on'ta my shirt dulls yer painted target. 'Aint drink nothin either.' He shrugs his shoulders indifferently toward Wren.

Wren says, 'Your impulse, your want? That's fine. I admire and love you for it. Your idea for how to see this impulse through was terrible. So, what we do if he doesn't come back? We get better at learning to think of more than one idea, of more than one good idea, even. We learn to think things through and only select the best idea, when doing anything. Both of us failed at that yesterday. We must work harder.'

Melbere twiddles his thumbs. 'Simple solution, jus' take more time 't discuss issues.'

Wren nods toward Melbere. 'That will help.'

'But it 'aint that easy either, some thing'sa quick-wit decisions.'

'Life isn't a riddle contest. There's usually time to think things through, and there's never just one right answer.'

Melbere thinks back to the event at the Keep. 'Tell me'at when a muscle'd bastard leaps fer ye throat, eh? Ugh, this's a mess. I'm sorry, again.'

Wren nods. 'The one silver lining for you, right now, is that there is no High Sage to punish you.'

''Aught I do it m'self, en?'

'Yes. I suggest two apologies. One to myself, and one to the Keep.'

Melbere says to Wren, ''N what should'ah say to both?' He leans back in his stool, thinking.

'There's no one answer to that question, and the good news is, we have some time to think it through.'

'If its written, I ain't gonna be an 'appy fellow.'

Wren hmms over that, and for the first time, smiles. 'You did just say you were to punish yourself.'