A Wrench in the Gears

The Kingdom of Anget is made up of a multitude of villages and farms spread throughout the open lands between the lake and the ocean. It is ruled by the humans under a monarch.

A Wrench in the Gears

Crito
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Crito
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08 Sep 2014, 23:36 #1

The voyage had gone smoothly, the weather fair and the seas calm. The captain had not been too keen to let a Rattling aboard his vessel, but like most Mannlings, a palm-full of gold swayed his mind easily. Fortunately for Miiq, the captain kept a painfully simple lock on his jewelry box. Rubbing together his newly acquired matching pair of emerald-set rings, Miiq had gone ashore and made his way toward the heart of Castle Town and away from the docks.

Miiq knew little of the massive city and the inhabitants that dwelt in it. He cared little though, for his only reason for visiting this place was the promise of an opportunity at a great deal of coin. His informant was tight-lipped, a practiced restraint that likely kept him alive more times than one could even imagine. He mentioned three things only: Kingdom of Anget, thief needed, Dwarf named Oskarr. Admittedly, Miiq had given pause at the mention of a Dwarf contractor. He didn't particularly like Dwarves, and the feeling was extraordinarily mutual. When the discussion of such an amazing reward had arose however, Miiq paid the informant his typical finder's fee and made his way to Cordia's dock to seek passage.

The season was on the coattails of summer, and the warm breezes began to cool. Miiq welcomed this change, as even now he could begin to smell the decay of foliage in the air, despite the trees just beginning to turn color. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking. Anything that smelled of decay and detritus sparked a nostalgic chord in his distant memory. Shaking the sensation away, Miiq focused himself at the task at hand. He had to locate this Dwarf, despite not knowing much of this town. His informant (whose name he didn't even know mind you, another precaution surely!) said that the Dwarf would not be hard to find, given one looked in the right place.

"Miiq has had enough riddle-puzzles for one lifetime."

Keeping his vague clue in mind, he sought out the local tavern. Dwarves love their ale after all. Before entering, he dawned the hood of his magic cloak and grasp its clasp tightly. The cloak hummed slightly as the glammer took effect. In his stooped stance, Miiq now appeared to be a very old human man, or even quite possibly a middle-aged Dwarf, depending on the beholder. He limped into the tavern and began to sleuth. It wasn't long before he picked up on Oskarr's name being thrown back and forth between a couple of rowdy patrons, tourists from the neighboring Dwarfstone Mountains.
"Oi, you hear that *hic* Oskarr fella's lookin' fer some rougish types?"
His partner quickly shushed him, in turn speaking barely above a whisper.
"Hey-ey-ey! That's not supposed to be something your's -upposed to spread around! Ol' Oskarr would be rippin' ifi'n every cutpurse an' coin-snatcher showed 'ep at the Waterworks."
"Yeh, 'bout tha- *hic* why's 'e meetin' in such a grungy place? All them rats and filth, liekly t' catch somethin' 'e is!"

Waterworks? As in, the sewer system waterworks? There was some sense to this, as it would be a good place for secret meetings. At least it would be easy to lose any unwanted guests, if there would be any who had the strength of stomach to appear uninvited. Regardless, Miiq's feet instinctively carried him towards the door of the tavern. A thought crossed his mind mid-stride. Loose-lipped Dwarves could jeopardize whatever mission Oskarr had in store, even though neither of them seemed to have details. Miiq didn't like leaving anything to chance, but just this once he would risk it. He had no connection to these Beardlings, and they didn't know what he actually looked like. He could feign innocence or simply slash his way out. He'd done both successfully more than once. Either way, he made sure to stick around the tavern long enough to catch both of their names and committing them to memory, just in case.

With his information gathering done, Miiq made for the nearest deserted alleyway and its accompanying sewer grate. Removing his disguise, he descended into the system of pipes bellow. His many long years of tunnel delving assured him that he could find his way to the Waterworks without any issue. There would likely be a more "sanitary" entrance with a guard outpost and offices for the sewer workers, but such an entrance was not to Miiq's tastes.

He hoped that whatever this Beardling had in store was worth all this effort.
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Colby_Fraust
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09 Sep 2014, 01:01 #2

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Crito
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11 Sep 2014, 00:20 #3

The massive meeting location lay deep in the belly of the sewer system, moist stone and rusted pipe lay there long untouched and unattended by whatever artisans crafted it. It was a massive open area of carven stone, cobblestones forming a mighty circle with a large vaulted ceiling. At the very center of the cobblestones, where the Dwarf stood, was steel grating of some kind. Obscured as it was by the patron standing there, little could be seen of it. The pipes of various sizes, carrying who knows what foul waste, that stood in groups around the mighty circle, however, could not be so easily obscured! Every few feet they would jut from floor to ceiling (or perhaps the opposite?) and carried a great deal of condensation on their outermost shell. Two other large tunnels connected to this room, with the occasional smaller open pipe nestled in between those that were stacked. They poured no sewage, yet still reeked of filth.

Great care went into this room's construction, but appeared to be little more than just one of many such drainage locations...

Curious.


At the very center indeed stood Oskarr, a portly Dwarf with ample brown beard and fine clothes spun from violet and blue. Clearly of wealth, the brave Stoutling dawned a small pair of spectacles atop his red nose. Despite their size, they seemed to constantly slip, always to be met with a raised hand to right them. His wild hair was kept in check by a floppy hood that did little to conceal his face; more likely used for his protection from his current environs. He acknowledged the first to arrive with a nod, but refused to risk a word, for similar concerns that the Beastkin standing feet away from him kept.

The steps originating from the other tunnels came not from guards, but from other potential candidates. Oskarr hadn't anticipated this many potentials to show interest in his affairs, but this was not a bad thing. He allowed about a dozen additional bodies to enter the space, each eyeing the others cautiously. Some appeared to be brutes more than thieves, and others something far more sinister. A plethora of races were present: Human, Elf, Beastkin, a pair of Dwarves, even a Halfling. Work must have been scare lately. When the masses seemed content with their chosen spot to stand, Oskarr cleared his throat.

"Greetings! I suppose you all have heard about my job opportunity then? Not many details though, hm? Excellent."

He panned around the room, looking closely at those that stood around him.

"This is because I have not a single opportunity, but many! I must say there is a larger turnout here than I had anticipated. I would like each of you to approach, one at a time please, and allow me to interview you. I won't ask anything invasive, and, should you not find the assignment I have for you to your tastes, or if I simply don't have an assignment for you, you may take your leave whenever you please. Regardless, you will be compensated by my associate in plate, over there."

He motioned to one of the tunnel entrances. As as he did so, steel grates slammed shut to the other two. A massive man, easily as broad at the shoulders as Oskarr was tall, emerged from the shadows behind the only remaining portal. He simply nodded as he took a half-smoked cigar from behind his ear and struck a match to light it.

" Very good!"
The excited dwarf clasped his hands together.
"Please form a line in front of me."

Some of the potentials groaned. Others left, cursing under their breaths about the idiocy of Dwarves. Each that approached the only exit were stopped by the huge human only long enough to be slipped a handful of gold. Those that stayed quickly assembled into a line, nine deep in an instant.
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Colby_Fraust
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11 Sep 2014, 00:59 #4

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Crito
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15 Sep 2014, 02:11 #5

The Dwarf was impressed by the charisma and take-control mentality the foxmorph demonstrated. So much so, that he allowed himself to chuckle and smile faintly.

”Master Cyprus, I do indeed hope that this interview goes well, as you have done nothing but impress me so far. I have not seen very many promising candidates today, and your attitude is much appreciated.”

The Dwarf nodded to himself and then removed his hood. As he drew his covering back, he revealed a circlet crowning his head. The old Dwarven-wrought steel bore intricate carvings, though not runes of note or recognition. It proved to be an complete band resting atop his ears and meeting at his forehead to form a crest. This V-styled crest peaked high to cover the majority of his wrinkled forehead, and appeared jagged in the traditional Dwarven style.

”If you'd be so kind, Master Cyprus.”

Oskarr held out his hands and motioned for Cyprus to rest his own in his. Oskarr expected the puzzled look he received, but paid it little mind. When their hands touched, the crest atop Oskarr's circlet radiated a faint blue energy, which was mimicked in Oskarr's eyes, visible only because of the refraction caused by his spectacles. He stood there motionless for a moment, staring at their hands. He broke the stillness only long enough to look at the fox's palms before gently closing Cyprus' fingers.

”I think I have everything I need, Master Cyprus. Congratulations, you qualify for a mission of most import to my employer-

The Dwarf's sentence stopped suddenly as his ears perked. Scratching noises could be heard from a pipe high above them.

It was at this time that Miiq neared the end of one of the smaller horizontal pipes, high above the Dwarf and the Fox. He stuck his snout out first, whiskers twitching as he took in the amalgamation of scents that lingered amidst the ever-present stench of sewage. Next came his whole head, followed by his clawed arms which grouped at the stone as he effortlessly scaled down the wall. When he was twice his height from the ground, he let himself fall, landing without harm. He whipped around as he landed, steel-tipped tail clanging on the stone wall behind him. His head darted around the room, his side-mounted eyes investigating his surroundings thoroughly. Always best to have an escape route, after all.

When he was satisfied, his gazed fixed itself to the only other patrons in the room.

"Seems-appears that Miiq is late."

He approached them slowly, on all fours, tail lowered to show he meant no threat... for now.

”Beard-thing has work, yes? Hire-pay Miiq, yes?”

The Dwarf had recoiled slightly at the creature's decent, but stood firm when he answered.

”I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I've already contracted all the employees I need. Better luck next time."

Miiq was not content with Oskarr's answer. He stood on his hind legs and crossed his arms, circling the duo slowly. His weapons were in plain sight, and he kept his hands far away from them.

”Please consider Miiq. You have problem? Miiq has price."

A faint hum could be heard from Oskarr's circlet as Miiq repeated his name for the fourth time. The Dwarf touched his forehead, sighed, and then held out his hands, much like he had done with Cyprus.

”Very well, let me see your hands please.”

The rattling wasn't sure if he should trust the Dwarf, as he was sure the Dwarf couldn't trust him. He ignored the fox for now, approaching the Dwarf to offer him his right hand. Oskarr's hands recoiled in disgust, Miiq's clawed appendage was filthy from traversing the pipes. Muttering something indistinguishable and in Dwarven under his breath, he grabbed Miiq's hand as he had Cyprus' moments before. Almost instantly, he recoiled with a shout as his crested circlet and eyes pulsed a much darker shade of blue then was witnessed earlier. Startled, and suddenly out of breath, Oskarr looked carefully at Miiq, who had, himself, recoiled defensively with hand on his weapon, ready for fight or flight.

An awkward moment of silence hung in the air, broken by the clanking of plated boots stomping into the room. Oskarr's bodyguard barreled in, warhammer at the ready. The guard dutifully placed himself between his charge and the Rattling, but was dismissed by a reassuring touch by Oskarr.

”It's okay Boyd. Nothing's wrong. Just a touch of excitement is all.”

As the guard relaxed, the Rattling did as well. Oskarr suddenly looked a bit worried, and perhaps a bit defeated.

”You want a job Master Miiq? You've got one. The two of you will be working together.”
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Colby_Fraust
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15 Sep 2014, 16:58 #6

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Crito
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22 Sep 2014, 03:14 #7

The Rattling did indeed share Cyprus' sentiment.

"Miiq works alone. Miiq not like partners. Get in way. Cause problems.

Oskarr, doing his best to remain composed, stood up straight and breathed deeply through his nose. He looked to Boyd, nodded, and then held his hands out to his companion. The bodyguard returned the nod before procuring two small sacks from his belt and placed them in the dwarf's hands. The bags were apparently heavy, as the hefty dwarf's arms dipped slightly when Boyd's grip released them. He then procured a single blue orb from inside one of the bags. It appeared to be made of some type of glass, or perhaps crystal. It shimmered with unnatural light, clearly arcane in nature.

"These are wish orbs. When held in the palm and squeezed they conjure whatever your heart desires most at that moment. The object must be of the same size as the orb, and it destroys itself in the process. These specific orbs conjure riches. Diamonds? Gold? Jewelry? Pick your poison. Each sack contains five. Consider this your first payment. You will receive ten-fold this reward in addition to a large sum of gold if you complete this mission I have in mind..."

His eyes narrowed as he made eye contact with both of his soon-to-be employees.

"Together.

He held a bag out to each of the Beastkin that stood before him with the same scowl on his face. Miiq's eye twitched at the Dwarf's proposal. He didn't play well with others, and yet the promise of whatever shiny things he wanted was too good to pass up. With a growl he snatched one of the bags from the dwarf's hands and held it close to his chest.

"Mine! Miiq will do this. What is job?"

The Dwarf turned to the rattling before speaking.

"I'll arrange for a dead drop to be placed at noon tomorrow in the sewers outside the same bar where you heard of this meeting. Be ready for action the day after that."

The Rattling said nothing to the Dwarf, but instead glanced at Cyprus and smiled.

"Miiq will see you soon, partner."

With that he scurried up the wall to the pipe he had appeared from, sack of goodies clenched in his teeth. Oskarr exhaled slowly from his nose and then turned to Cyprus.

"Look, I can't explain everything at this moment. But know this: something big is in store for you two. I can't explain what or why, but your fates are woven together, at least for a time."

He smiled and then tapped the side of his nose with his index finger twice.

"I know it is hard to place your trust in a couple of strangers, but trust me. At any rate, you'll want to know what the mission is, hm? I had to bait the hook for Miiq, so to speak. Let him stew over it, his greed will assure his loyalty, at least for the moment."

He procured a scroll from his coat and played with it as he explained.

"I'm afraid the other missions I assigned the others were simply a farce. Some will be caught and arrested, others will succeed, receive payment and be on their merry way. All of them are simple distractions, just a handful of some fifty various crimes orchestrated to stretch the King's guard thin and ease the stress on this mission."

He opened the scroll, revealing the designs for a castle, the King of Anget's castle.

"There are designs for Dwarven steam-powered technologies locked within this castle. You and Miiq are to procure them and deliver them to me."
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Colby_Fraust
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23 Sep 2014, 22:22 #8

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Crito
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28 Sep 2014, 21:32 #9

At Cyprus' inquiries regarding the magic orbs, Oskarr shook his head.

"Allow me to clarify. The orbs transfer riches from a secret treasury packed to the brim with various treasures. They do not create the treasure themselves, nor can they transport extremely specific items. The items they transport must reside within the treasury, and if no such treasure exists something of equivalent value which closely resembles the desired item is instead transported. For example: your mother's treasured pearl necklace, which was specially designed by an Elven craftsman will not appear in your hand. A pearl necklace of extremely similar value and make will appear instead, at least as close as can be matched. Know that this treasury is larger than you could imagine, and as such the possibilities for reward are nearly endless. Note that these orbs are relatively small, and as such the amount transported will also be small."

Hoping that his explanation was better this time around, Oskarr moved to tackle the fox's other question, regarding the mission. He knew that Cyprus wouldn't like what he had to say.

"Miiq will be able to tell you more. You are not the only one recieving exclusive information, master Cyprus. Although you are by far more amicable, and if I must say so, more of a pleasent conversationalist, both you and Miiq will have to come to a middle ground and share information."

The Dwarf rolled up the schematic he held in his hands, returned it to the scroll case from which it came and then handed it to Cyprus.

"I'm afraid I can't reveal any more to you on my own."

As Cyprus moved to take the scroll case, Oskarr placed his hand on the fox's, his eyes and circlet glowing blue.

"Except for this."

Images assaulted Cyprus mind as the Dwarf made contact, his words fading into the aether as reality around his vanished and suddenly he was in a place he did not know. He was restrained, chained at both wrist and ankle to a flat wooden board upon which he lay. The moist underground cavern in which he lay was dim and musty, but somehow familiar. Cyprus could see his amber fur had been replaced with a ruddy brown, and the familiarity of having two tails was absent, a single worm-like limb in their place. His heart raced, for even though this was not a place or a body he knew, he seemed to know what was coming next.

His velvet ears perked at the sound of visitors, their red eyes glowing in the dark. They did not speak at first, instead they broke the silence with a shrill whip crack. More eyes appeared, but their forms lingered in the darkness.

"This one is awake, ready for more."

Though Cyprus moved to make no sound, his mouth opened and a voice that was not his own poured forth.

"No! No more! This one will listen, this one does what it is told!"

The visitor's eyes seemed to light up in glee.

"Very good. Maybe this one is deserving of a name."

"But he is so weak! Not worthy! No!"

The protester's complaint was met with a hiss and a fist to the jaw, the audible thump and resulting squeal resounding from the darkness.

"Weak, yes. A meek one. Hm, Meek. Yes, what is this one's name?"

The lash came toward's the restrained prisoner, the impact knocking the wind from his weak lungs. Through trembling lips, Miiq whispered his new name. The whip-master stepped forward, now within view. He was a Rattling, much like Miiq, but with black fur and much broader shoulders. He made the much sleeker Miiq seem much smaller, though their height was about the same. The captor cupped his hand to his ear.

"What's that? Speak up. Can't hear you."

Miiq repeated his name, slightly louder as his belabored breathes struggled to make noise.

"Louder!"

The scene ripped from Cyprus' view, Miiq shouting his name accompanied by another whip-crack echoing in the background. Two more horrific scenes came into view, but these were merely snippets.
The first, Cyrpus as Miiq once more stood holding his tail to his mouth. The chain that had been driven through the end of his tail kept him retrained to a nearby wall. With great hesitation and a great deal of pain, his jaws clamped around his tail, the unpleasant metallic taste of blood filling his mouth.
The second, Miiq stood on the beaten body of another large Rattling. With his newly acquired blade in one hand, and a bloody tongue in the other, Miiq stood in silence amongst an ocean of Rattlings much like himself. Relief, agony and uncertainty took their turns washing over him as he discarded the tongue and ripped the crown off of the wounded Rattingl's head at his feet. The visions cleared, and Oskarr could once again be seen standing in front of him, both he and Cyprus with a hand on the scroll. Oskarr's other hand came away from Cyprus' as he released the scroll at the same time.

"Miiq has endured much. He was broken. He can be saved, rebuilt. He has amazing talents, and there is much good that rests within him. The corruption of his conditioning and his memories hinder him from being something truly great. He needs our help as much as we need his help. With the right guidance, he can be something truly great. You play a role in this, though i can't say how."
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Colby_Fraust
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02 Oct 2014, 00:44 #10

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