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OOC Date of Occurrence: 5/7/2008 (KallynLake Note: I'm sorry for taking so long. I'm a doofus.)


Cave Mouth <Pockmark Cave, Forest District>

This cave smells of damp earth due to its close proximity to the Lightholder River. It seems to be a natural formation based on the state of the walls, although the addition of wooden support beams speaks of human presence.
The thick pine trees hiding the entrance to the cave keep natural sunlight from penetrating more than a very small way into the darkness. Water drips from the ceiling in a constant yet very slow rain.
There are only two ways to go from here: back out to the Thoroughfare or deeper within the cave's all-consuming darkness.


The trickle of water hitting stone is ever-present within this cave, the ground slightly slick from the dampness. While the light of the moons does penetrate just enough to illuminate this portion of the cave in eerie shades of red and green, further ahead is utter darkness. Behind the constant dripping is the faintest hint of echoes - low, garbled - coming from deeper within.


Varal steps cautiously into the cave, looking around. "This is a bloody bad idea," the Valoria grumbles as he takes a few tentative steps forward. Despite his obvious opinion that proceeding is not the best course of action, he creeps deeper.


Deeper, deeper... The darkness slowly becomes so complete that it is impossible to tell where the walls and ceiling are at, or to even see one's own hand in front of one's face. The footing, already slick, is now treacherous for lack of light.



Tunnel <Pockmark Cave, Forest District>

This cave smells of damp earth due to its close proximity to the Lightholder River. It seems to be a natural formation based on the state of the walls, although the addition of wooden support beams speaks of human presence.
The ground is quite smooth here, threatening to cause an unwary visitor to slip on the cave's dampness. From ahead the sounds of small claws scratching on stone echo through the cave.
There are only two ways to go from here: towards the exit or deeper within the cave's all-consuming darkness.


Varal frowns, footsteps managing to be steady despite a little slipping and sliding. He holds out a hand and mutters a soft prayer. After a few seconds, a light slowly grows brighter and brighter above the palm of his hand. "The Light Provides," he says with a slight smirk, continuing.


The echoing in the cave gets slowly louder - voices. Although the quality of the sound keeps one from actually telling what is being said, they are definitely voices. A few rats skitter through the cave past Varal's feet. The air is thicker in this portion of the cave, more humid and a bit warmer from lack of circulation. The cave seems mostly featureless in this stretch, merely continuing forward and backward.


Varal frowns, trying to kick one of the rats as it passes. He crouches down, covering the light with his other hand as he moves forward ever so slightly - straining to hear more. If it's possible.



Cave Fork <Pockmark Cave, Forest District>

This cave smells of damp earth due to its close proximity to the Lightholder River. It seems to be a natural formation based on the state of the walls, although the addition of wooden support beams speaks of human presence.
Here the cave forks, providing one with a choice. The leftward fork, as one faces away from the path leading out, smells faintly of smoke, and a soft fiery glow in the distance affirms this. The right path smells even danker than the rest of the cave, and the sound of water running over stone can just barely be made out from that direction.
There are three ways to go from this point: out towards the exit, the left fork as one faces away from this path, or the right fork.


Varal manages to kick the rat, sending it sqeaking angrily into the wall before it skitters back into the depths of the cave. As he gets nearer to the voices, the garble becomes clearer, and some words and phrases can be picked out of the sounds... Something about being swindled and the speaker wanting his fair share. It's a gruff voice, but well-spoken. Another speaks up, a smaller voice, and tells the first to run the numbers again. The argument continues on and the terms "flush" and "yellowhorn" can be made out as well.

As for the direction from which the voices come? Well, the way the walls carry sound, it could be coming from either of the forks.



Hideout <Pockmark Cave, Forest District>

This cave smells of damp earth due to its close proximity to the Lightholder River. It seems to be a natural formation based on the state of the walls, although the addition of wooden support beams speaks of human presence.
There are lamps hung from brackets on the wooden beams, illuminating this somewhat spacious portion of the cave. There are barrels lined along the walls, some empty while others hold everything from innocent trade goods to highly illegal contraband. Strewn along the floor are a few bedrolls and a pack of supplies commonly found on those who travel.
There is a thick-framed door on the far side of the room; else one could always choose to head back to the fork.


"Curious," Varal mutters loud enough that no one ought to hear. He moves through the left side of the fork, crouched low and trying to contain the light in his hand so as not to be too obivous.


"I went through the numbers three times. I'm not getting my full cut," grumbles the first voice, getting louder and easier to distinguish as Varal moves through the cave. "Aye, ye /are/," argues the other irritably. "Oy, will you /stop/ sitting on the goods?," a third barks, "Really, have you any idea how deep a shit you'll be in if you scratch your arse and get that stuff on your hands? It's illegal for a reason, you fools."

Varal remains unseen as he approaches the men's hideout, the rather large area illuminated. The three arguing men are mulling about here, dressed in studded leather. Two carry pistol crossbows in their hands while the third is twirling a kukri.


Varal smiles to himself as he looks at the argument. He does his best to continue watching, waiting for them to do some of his work for him.


That doesn't seem likely. The men are arguing, certainly, but they're mostly calm about it. The two who were barked at get up from sitting on the barrels and continue to debate. "Look, I'm not saying /you're/ the one doing it," the gruff-voiced man remarks, "But we raked in seven thousand kahar imperials last week and I only got seven-fifty of it. The boss gets double what we do, so that should have been two thousand for him and a thousand apiece for us. I want to know where my other two-fifty went to." "Look, th' boss gave me thirty-se'en fifty te hand out an' that's what I did. I don' ask question, I jus' do what I'm told. De /you/ want te go an' ask him where it went?"


Varal continues watching, trying to figure out what exactly these goods are.


"No... no, of course not," the first man says, his tone calming considerably, "Forget about it. If the boss wants to take half, then he can take half, long as I've got enough to live on." The argument done, the men go about securing barrels. The third man, the one with the kukri, says, "It's about time to ship the spores. Come on, help me get this barrel to the stream." The men work together to lift one of the barrels and start in Varal's direction.


Varal's eyes widen slightly, and he looks for a better hiding place.


There are plenty of them. Barrels fill a good portion of the cave space, and not all of them are pushed tightly together. And the men, as luck would have it, are moving slowly and too preoccupied with their barrel to notice the nobleman yet.


Varal quickly attempts to move towards the other barrels without arousing suspicion. He divides his attention between moving and the three men.


While the smaller-voiced of the crossbowmen is entirely oblivious to the movement, the kukri-wielding one catches movement out of the corner of his eye and the gruff one spots Varal clear as day. The barrel is dropped and weapons drawn.

"Stop right there!" calls Gruff as he loads up his crossbow, free hand resting on a katar sheathed at his hip. The other two follow suit, Small loading up his crossbow as well and Kukri drawing his... well, his kukri. "Don't make a false move and you won't be hurt, Lord. We're not interesting in killing anybody, right? If you'll just make for the door over yonder?" The men are tense, nervous.


Varal slowly rises to his full height. He spreads his hands out, one of them holding his globe of light. His eye flicks towards it, and he smirks - wordlessly stating that he is Kissed. Or maybe Touched, if they're ignorant enough. "We appear to be at an impasse, don't we?"


"Not really," Gruff states, by far the calmest of the three, "We're the ones with our weapons out, after all, and all we've seen you do is make a pretty ball of light. Don't give us any trouble and we won't give you trouble, right? Just a short stay in the next room while we figure out our next hideout and then we'll let you go and there won't be any harm done."

Small, for his part, is shaking. Or at least the hand with the crossbow is. "He's Sunkissed, ye dolt, we should jus' kill him," he says, but the other two both seem to dislike the idea. The crossbowmen back away from the Valoria slowly, while Kukri steps in a little. "He's just jumpy, my Lord. We won't hurt you without a reason to. Now come along and head into the next room, would you?"


"You have to realize, friends, I would rather not be locked up." Varal smirks. "And, you must not know who I am, else you wouldn't be threatening my life or saying I'm unarmed."


"Then just leave and we can figure out our next move on the run," Kukri suggests, "As long as you leave us be, that's the important part. And, uh... I'm afraid I don't know you, my Lord. Sorry." The other two shake their heads, to confirm that neither of them recognize Varal either. They have backed up to the opposite side of the room by now, giving them at least a decent range with which to use their crossbows should it come down to it. Kukri steps back, then, opening Varal's path to the exit and gesturing with his free hand. "Are my terms acceptable?"


"You are downright sweet," Varal says with a slight grin. "You have time to clear out. I leave. You have until I tell the Watch about this little place - which will take awhile - to make sure that your asses are safe. And I better not come across you ever again up to no good."


"Just don't want any trouble, is all, my Lord," Gruff calls, "We're smugglers, not murderers." Small, though, still seems rather jumpy. His arm still shakes as he keeps that crossbow trained on the nobleman. Kukri takes another step away from Varal, "After you, my Lord. And I wouldn't recommend looking into the other fork on your way, if you haven't already. There are a few more of ours at the stream and... well, I'm not so sure the boss would be quite as peaceful as us, aye?"


Varal slowly back towards the fork, watching the men and his movement. "You would be better off finding honest work."


"And pass up on all this excitement?" Kukri asks, although there is a nervous air behind his tone. He doesn't make to follow the nobleman, perhaps figuring the trust will be a sign of good faith. Gruff relaxes some, crossbow lowering a little but not entirely at ease.

"Come on. Let the man go. We can get in this last shipment before we head out, aye?" Kukri says, "And I'll tell the boss that it was my fault we broke from the normal way we go about things." "The boss?!" Small pales, "The boss 's gonna know, he's gonna know!" And the jumpy little guy seems to decide he'd rather face Varal than his boss's wrath, because he chooses to take a shot at the nobleman.


Varal seems ready to say something else when the crossbow bolt is launched towards him. Given how quickly the bolt flies at him, both his reaction and speed of movement are rather impressive. "Mistake," he growls. "Ever hear of a Varal Mikin?"


Both of the others /look/ at Small, shocked. "What is /wrong/ with you?" Gruff asks, backing away from the man who just shot. Small himself is trying to reload, and not really paying attention to the nobleman's words. Kukri, though. Kukri pales. "Varal... Mikin...? Aye, I've...," he swallows, himself backpedalling from the Valoria, "Shades... Look, he doesn't act for the rest of us, a-aye?" He is white-knucking his kukri, while Gruff can't decide whether to pull his crowwbow on Varal or Small.


Varal's eyes narrow. "I really have had enough arrows and quarrels for some time." His hands tighten into fists. "Now. I'm willing to trade for your lives. Reasonable terms, too."


"How's about we let you kill him and leave us alone?" Gruff suggests, finally deciding that his crossbow is better kept on the man with the itchy trigger finger. This at least keeps Small from firing another round at Varal. Kukri, on the other hand, tries at reasoning, "You have to understand... our boss, he's... he's not a pleasant man, aye? Scares us shitless, really... Small is just really stupid, is all, I didn't want him to... we didn't, right?" Gruff nods his agreement with Kukri, "Right, I wasn't going to go shooting at you, my Lord. We just got in a little over our heads with the boss, is all... We're not bad guys, my Lord, really..." Small is silent... and wimpering.


"Mph," Varal replies irately. "You give me the boss and your smuggling ring, I'll take care of the rest. I was never here." He points at a barrel. "What's inside?"


"That one's yellowhorn powder," Kukri replies, "We smuggle just about everything worth smuggling, really. All sorts of contraband." He starts pointing and labeling barrels. Knight's Thumb spores, snaplizard vemon, nightslider venom, maidenbite, flush, and so on. There are some stolen goods as well, and a few legal goods obtained in other various illegal fashions. "We take the barrels over to the stream in the other fork and chuck them in... they come out near Pell's Gate, where our customer's at. We don't know who it is, though, only the boss talks to him... And the boss is the only one knowing the suppliers, too. We're just the lackeys, really..."

Gruff takes away Small's crossbow and sets it aside, before lowering his own, "If you think you can take on the boss I'll not get in your way. He's over at the stream with the other two fellows, waiting for the spores. to be shipped."


"And who is he?" Varal questions.


"Like he'd give us his name," Gruff remarks, "He calls himself Nightslider. Tall, meaty, dark hair, always looks like he's got to take a really big shit. Dresses real well and he's got great posture, so we think he might be a disgraced nobleman or really rich merchant. Problem is he's doesn't wear colors that'd give away a house affiliation if there is one."


"Aye. Nightslider, bloody original," Varal replies. He slowly backs towards the fork. "In the mean time, I'd advise that you boys lay low."


"That's something I can agree with," Kukri remarks, "Many thanks, Milord." The man bows, and the other two follow suit, before the three of them set about trying to lift that barrel of Knight's Thumb spores again.



Cave Fork <Pockmark Cave, Forest District>

This cave smells of damp earth due to its close proximity to the Lightholder River. It seems to be a natural formation based on the state of the walls, although the addition of wooden support beams speaks of human presence.
Here the cave forks, providing one with a choice. The leftward fork, as one faces away from the path leading out, smells faintly of smoke, and a soft fiery glow in the distance affirms this. The right path smells even danker than the rest of the cave, and the sound of water running over stone can just barely be made out from that direction.
There are three ways to go from this point: out towards the exit, the left fork as one faces away from this path, or the right fork.


Varal turns and looks over his shoulder. Once he feels certain that no one is following, he picks up his pace - attempting to go as fast as he can while maintaining his balance. The Valoria is reasonably nimble, so it is a fast pace. The goal is not a confrontation with this Nightslider, but actually getting out of the cave.


Once Varal is a good distance from the hideout, the three men emerge with their barrel, heading for the right fork and whispering amongst themselves. Not a moment too soon, it seems, as three more people emerge from that direction. One is a man fitting the exact description Varal was given, armored in chainmail and bearing several blades strapped to his belt, designed for throwing. The other two are women, armed and armored the same as Kukri.

"/What/ is taking you three so long?!" Nightslider bellows at the three men, "If this shipment is late because of you incompetent idiots, I /swear/ you will live to regret it." "We're really sorry, boss-" Gruff starts, but a backhand across the face silences him. "I don't want to hear it. Get those spores to the stream. NOW!"

Lucky Varal. It appears that Nightslider and his female companions have such a case of tunnel vision at the moment that they don't bother to notice the nobleman. And if the three with the barrel know he's still there? They're not saying anything.


Varal takes advantage of not being noticed, and flees faster.


Return to Season 7 (2008)