Part 38: BloskChapter 034 Blosk
Originally, this was supposed to go in with the previous update, but there is almost five pages of text dialogue in this town alone, which meets my criteria for a stand-alone update. I simply padded out the last update to compensate.
Ah, Blosk. A place which I have visited before, but can barely remember.
What do you remember?
Hrm.... A broken statue.
Must not have made an impression.
Well, maybe this time we can get a better impression.
Aaarth-Tsss, wazz thissss not your firsst human city?
What of it?
Yes, what of it?
Ssstay out of thisss, furball.
<Yes, it was. Why?>
<Curious, given that you live in Gnass.>
<It is not like I was stuck in that town for all my life.>
<Do you plan to return there?>
<Does it matter?>
<No, I suppose it does not.>
Well, with that note pointing in this direction, let's check in with the Mayor, see what she has to say.
Sounds reasonable. A positive contribution!
Oh, don't be silly. Knowing how these things go, Art will volunteer us to conduct the investigation for them.
A buxom blonde woman wearing a sash of office sits at the end of the table. She stares at its polished surface and the papers covering it with undisguised antipathy.She stands to greet you. "I am Mayor Vicky of Blosk, high and esteemed mayor of the city of Blosk. You can call me Vicky." She plops back down again.
Hello, Vicky! We're with Exile Army, Unspecified Services. I'm Marianna, this is the squad leader, Art, meat shields Chester and Aarth-Tss,
Party magus, Kai-Lyss, and sniper Dmurr.
Hello. This is Bruce, my second. She indicates the archer sitting beside her. So, what brings you here? All I'm doing is running Blosk, in all its glory."
I remember you now! I thought you worked out of the inn!
Her chest heaves with an ample sigh. "My job for the last ten years. Before that, I was, blissfully, an innkeeper. Now I hold this city together and marshal its forces against the Empire."
"And, of course, I need to use all the resources I have. That is why I sometimes seek adventurers to do a mission."
You were the innkeeper as well?
"Once, I ran the inn. Then I became the mayor, back when it was not such a job. Then, I had to leave the inn behind, because my responsibilities as a leader absorbed my whole being. I'd drop it in a second, but for one thing. I seem to have a knack for it." She smiles resignedly.
So, what sort of mission did you need the adventurers for?
I will be brief and clear. Blosk has a spy within its walls. I want you to unmask him, her, or it. Ask Bruce about it - he can tell you more. And when you have evidence of the villain's identity, let me know. I will do nothing without proof."
That's a nice change of pace from your usual attitude.
Not by choice, I assure you.
Back in Exile 1, Vicky refused to have anything to do with the party because they were adventurers. Now she's looking for their help with a spy problem! Amazing what a war can do to change one's mind.
You meet a heavy-set man with a chainmail jerkin and a bow slung over his shoulder.
He shakes your hands. "I'm Bruce, master archer and assistant to her Ladyship."
Is that all you do?
"Well, I'm an archer much of the time. My skills are needed often enough. In addition, I have been friends with her Ladyship, and have been assisting her with certain, umm ..., difficulties."
You needed use such difficult words around us, my friend. We are aware of the existence of the interloper.
He frowns. "Her Ladyship and I are trying to find a spy. We recently found papers, giving instructions to an unnamed party here to find what he or she or it could about our defenses. We have had no luck learning who this letter was addressed to."
"Some advice - speak to Leith. He has been helping us in our quest. He could help you. Ask him about the search."
I didn't volunteer us!
A mental puzzle.
I don't know, I don't think we're the kind of group to do this.
You can stay behind if you like. Kai-Lyss seems up for it.
And if the two of you find the spy, what of the rest of us?
I'm up for a quick vacation.
Do we not help?
Marianna and Kai-Lyss have this under control. If they want help, they can ask for it. I'm not obligated to force it on them.
Just the town trainer. He has nothing interesting to say.
Talking to the ssstatues. The messzage in Almaria ssspoke of this.
Art did mention needing to talk to one last time she was here. Could that be relevant?
It izz not an easssy thing to look for.
And I would not like to ask her yet about that.
How odd! You've seen paintings of people in which the eyes seemed to follow you, but this statue's eyes are definitely following you!
What was that?
The statue stares at you.
Quick, Kai-Lyss! What was the passcode to be used?
The statue continues to stare at you impassively.
The statue speaks! "Greetings, agent! You have your directions. Act on them soon, or things will go very badly for you. Also, we've been losing important papers lately. Be sure everything we give you ends up in a brazier. Praise the Empire. That is all."
That is not useful at all.
No, but we still have Leigh to locate.
You meet a pale little girl. She watches you with fascination. You notice she has a short, cavewood toy sword at her belt. "I'm Phaedra." She doesn't take her eyes of your weapons.
Hello, again. I'm Art. That's a nice sword you got there.
"I'm gonna' be an adventurer!"
She draws her little sword. "Yeah! And beat dragons and slay fifty Empire bad people! I will! If my daddy lets me."
Your daddy must be really proud of you if you're that strong and great!
"He's Justin! He says he won't let me learn to use a sword for a long, long time." She waves her sword around a bit, almost hitting you in the knee. "But I'm teachin' myself. And if the Empire attacks, I'll show them!"
Nice to sssee a hatchling ready for their future dutiesss.
I don't think that's how it works.
That's for sure. Her sword skills are fairly weak.
The counter here is covered with food, lots of it, and booze, lots of it. Behind all of it reclines a heavy-set woman with long, frizzy brown hair and an imperious look. She smiles in a mildly sincere way. "Hello, darling! Welcome to my humble little shop! You can call me Eddy."
So, uh, what do you do here?
She lurches forward. "Look, darling, look at all of this! I have the most fabulous rations in all of this stinking hole!"
I don't know about that...
She jumps up in fury, taking a bottle of ale along to steady herself, and swings the door open. "Look at all of this! Just look at it darling! Mold and fungus as far as the eye can see! No shoppes! No culture! Just little gross things every-bloody-where! And the Empire, they did this to me! Sent me into this Exile, or whatever you call it!"
Ma'am, Exile isn't that bad....
"For frivolity. Can you believe it? They thought I was a parasite! ME! And annoying too, they said. Annoying. What sort of a crime is that, I mean ... , I mean really, darling? So they sent me and my friend Patsy down here. Bastards, the lot of them."
I understand. I know someone, named Marianna, who thinks like you. No culture, no nothing to make life worth living.
Marianna... haven't I heard that name before?
Some people never adjust to coming to Exile.
There is a young, severe-looking woman with long brown hair tied up into a tight bun. She nods solemnly to you as you enter. "My name is Saffron." She looks slightly embarrassed about that fact.
Hello. Your door indicated books, but I don't see much of a library here.
"I'm working as a sage at the moment."
A sage? That is an honest profession. There is no need for embarrassment.
"I'm going to learn to be a mage, at the Tower. There's no space for new students, now, so I'm earning money by doing identifications."
The Tower of the Magi?
No, Patrick's Tower, far to the south. It's a wonderful place. It has the biggest libraries in Exile!"
Really, it does.
I thought Marianna was working on that?
Thank you for your time.
If you don't have the identify spell, you'll need to come back here later.
And this is where Marianna would pray.
There is a person in heavy black robes kneeling before the altar. His or her face is completely obscured by the hood. "I am Mondrian." It's a male voice. He doesn't turn his face from the altar as he speaks. "I am the priest of secrets." His head doesn't turn as he speaks.
Does that mean you know about the spying going on?
"Don't have much to say about that."
What do you mean, sssectress.?
"We are all people of secrets, secrets we keep because we want to or we must. And when people find it hard to hold their secrets inside, they come here for strength."
The strength to continue to lie?
No, Mother's Child. Strength to continue to hide what they must. They confess their secrets to me, and I give them the strength to keep them, to keep their privacy. Because people are defined as much by what they don't say as what they say."
"But I sense you have no things to confess. So I ask you leave me."
Thank you for your time.
Well, the Shadow Priest knows nothing. Not that he would reveal anything in confidence.
Pity. We mussst sztill locate Leigh.
Should we wait here for the others?
Who knows how long it will be.
Actually, I want to find out who's running this place now that Vicky is full-time Mayor.
Oh, hello. My name is Allisandre."
Art. How are you?
Not well, I must confess. I was a travelling musician, but not of late. Lately, I've been staying with Leith."
Leith? Ma'am, we're with the Army, Unspecified Services. What can you tell us about him? We're tying to aid in the investigation.
"My dear, dear friend. That is why I am so worried. He was more a sage, but lately, his work has grown very dangerous."
"He is trying to find a spy living in Blosk. More than that, I cannot say, although I fear such work is very dangerous."
Well, perhaps some music will help soothe your nerves?
Without words, she pulls the flute from her belt, and plays a long, soft, elegant tune. She plays it sadly and flawlessly. Then she returns her flute to her belt. "Thank you. I get little chance to travel and play - Empire raiders are too common."
Speak for yerself! There is a tall, thin, blonde woman working busily behind the counter. She is doing her best, considering that she seems to be drinking one mug of ale for every mug she serves.
"Welcome, welcome! I am Patsy! Welcome to my alehouse and inn!"
Aren't you Eddy's friend?
Yes. We were sent down here for the same reasons. Look, we can give you a poor room for 5 gold and a fabulous room for 15. Depends on whether you want to be eaten by lice, eh? Also we have the finest grog in the Great Cave, only five gold a round!"
I'll try your Grog.
She takes your coins, and serves you up some powerful, somewhat drinkable mushroom ale.
Look, seeing as how you've met her, I want to apologize for Eddy. She takes a long swig of her own drink. She hasn't really adapted to being down here, you know? Now like me. She takes another drink.
I..understand. Well, thank you for the drink, but it's best we be off.
You meet a large, affable man, walking about the city and, seemingly, enjoying looking at everything. If he wasn't wearing priest's robes, you'd think he was mad.
"I am Justin. Welcome, my friends."
Hello. I'm ... Art.
Yes! Yes you are! No truer name has e'er been wrought! I am Justin, priest of the Temple of the Flying Spirit. I'm not usually there, though. It seems a shame to be cooped up in a musty shrine, when there is so much beauty outside the door!" Beauty? Where?
I'm afraid I do not see the beauty you see....
"Yes! Beauty! We of the Flying Spirit are wanderers, travellers, determined to see the world and appreciate it as best we can! For example, I soon plan to shut up the temple and take a jaunt down to Patrick's Tower."
I have to say, I don't know if you will fit in with the people in the Tower. Do you even know where it is?
"Some distance to the south, and led by the venerable and wise Patrick the archmage. It is the center of learning and knowledge for all of Exile. If there are things you wish to find out, where better to go?" He starts looking around again. "This is a beautiful place, you know. Filled with much ugliness, true, but if we don't also appreciate its wonders as well, who will?"
Quick, while Art and them have that other man distracted!
You meet a tall, skinny man with a long rapier hanging at his side. He watches you warily as you approach. "I'm sorry, my friend, I have no time to talk."
Hello. I'm Marianna, this is Kai-Lyss. We're with theArmy, Unspecified Services.
He nods cordially. "I am called Leith."
We have been assssigned to help you with your szsearch.
Ah! You are on the same quest! Sadly, there is little for me to tell you. Empire spies are very good at covering their tracks. However, I have been collecting much knowledge that may be useful in the hunt."
ssss... Your hunt has failed?
Not so much. But whoever the spy is knows that I'm looking for them. My investigations have stalled, and if you're here to help, then, well, the only thing left to do is help you guys out.
"My home is in the northeast corner of town. Look in the library there, and you may find something that is useful to you."
I know these guys. Heard of them at least.
Will they be able to help us?
We can asssk.
A worn down man in mages robes stares at you apathetically. You don't feel welcome here at all."I am Bartholomew. What do you want?"
Oh, we're with Unspecified Services. We are here investigating possible infiltration of the town by the Empire.
"I am doing magical research for the benefit of Exile. Which I am certainly not at liberty to tell you about it. I have nothing to do with any spies! Now, good day!
Well, that was a failure.
Ah, there you are. Come on, we have a good lead.
One of these rezidential rooms is Leith'sss. He has information for uzs in it, and hazz given us permissssion to go get it.
Good enough for me. So, which one is it?
This one! North-west corner!
Careful! Looks like he was ready for that spy.
Search the room, but neatly. Thisss man isz ssstill our ally.
... Ssso, we have already dealt with that attack. And accosssted their sssafehoussse. Where we got the passssword to the zstatuess. Where we learned that all messssages were to be burned.
There's something else here.
Not alwaysss, but a good way to hide a messssage. I have that sspell.
This isn't relevant, but... why?
I have no idea.
It's not like you can target yourself with one of those, or an ally.
Checked the coalsss. Nothing.
And that reduces Leith and his girlfriend from the list. Let's do a thorough sweep.
The next room over is for Bruce. We should get him out of the way quickly, given he works with the Mayor.
Oh, don't tell me....
It could be normal Blosk-paperwork, or even a private note that he didn't destroy completely. There is no way to know until Kai-Lyss does his magic.
This isn't good news.
How goes your investigation?
Mayor Vicky, after careful investigation, aided by Leigh, and in conjunction with evidence encountered in the aftermath of a raid on the storehouses of Almaria, we were able to trace the actions of the spy, as well as a couple of their contacts. Some got away, but they left enough information for us to locate their deaddrop here in Blosk. Following those instructions, we were able to locate the proof that you asked for.
She reads the paper. You turn to look at Bruce, and see he has a knife in is hand. Before he can leap, however, Aaarth-Tss' spear pins him to the wall! Vicky says "Thank you. You will be rewarded. I will tell the Castle of the service you have done for me." She stands, and give Bruce's body a vicious kick. "That is for betraying me!" The body is carted away.
It's actually a generic guard that stabs Bruce in the dialogue box, but I felt this was better for the story.
And now Bruce is dead and gone!
Thank you again. Let me know if you need anything.
I think we're good.
What's the next job?
I think we hit up Patrick's Tower, finally deliver that package to Dharmon, and I really want to get my hands on the Orb of Thranli.
I suggesst we visit Gnass; it is nearby.
Ahahahahaaa, nice! Jeff Vogel sure knows his british comedy, for sure!
...For those who don't get where the reference is, three of the characters in this update are from this old favourite. And, to give you some idea of how utterly wasted two of the characters get... Listen to mummy's funny voice, darling...