Lyra, Gendry, and Amara
Lyra gestures towards Amara. “Pardon the interruption, but his niece has just arrived in Phlan, and is looking for him.”
The man in the monk robes stops to correct a student’s posture before turning to respond. “A blessed Tyrsday to you sirs…and ladies,” he pauses and looks you over, “fresh off the boat are you? You would do well to direct such questions to the administration desk in the future. If you do not mind waiting, Professor Aumry is currently leading a practicum on advanced tactical invocations—second floor, third door on the right. He is normally accepting of observers, but I would recommend that you wait down here, given the high probability of being struck by a stray lightning bolt if you were to open the door at the wrong time. His class should be out within the hour.”
Amara takes off, following the instructions, running flat out.
Gendry’s arm shoots out as soon as Amara starts and grabs the back of her dress. “Ummm…lightning bolts.” He lifts her easily back onto his shoulder. “Sorry miss, but maybe a more orderly approach would be in order.” He walks up the stairs, keeping ahold of Amara, lest she bolt again. He heads to the door indicated, kneels down cups an ear to the door, listening for tell-tale crackling sounds before opening it.
Amara pulls Whiskers to her face and whispers to the cat. The cat fades out from tail to teeth, purring the whole time.
Lyra comes up the stairs a bit behind Gendry, not trusting the construction with the weight of a minotaur and two girls. “Should we knock?” She looks at Amara “Or perhaps wait for your friend to get back?”
Amara shrugs, “We could wait for Whiskers, but it takes a while sometimes.”
As the others go running up the stairs, Donovan walks over to the registration desk. “Good morning Taleah [she’s the administrator right],” he says to the woman behind the desk, smiling approvingly at the stylishly fake glasses. “I just got back in town and was wondering if you knew of any jobs that might be available?” He looks up the stairs after the others. “I met some promising youngsters on the boat over and was thinking about trying my hand at a few commissions. Any word from the students on where the action is these days?”
He sits on the edge of the desk and leans over it slightly, not disguising the fact that he’s looking down the front of her shirt. “Also, I saw a job posting by Professor Aumry out front. I understand that he’s with a class right now. Do you know when his office hours are?”
Taleah, who is indeed the woman behind the desk, rolls her eyes at Donovan and undoes the top button on her blouse so he can have a better view. “G’morning Don. And that’s Professor Loughgren to you. You never did turn in your final report on Pre-Turcassan Cormyrian Symphonies, you know.” She gives him a wicked smile and pushes the glasses tighter onto the bridge of her nose. “Professor Aumry doesn’t keep office hours—he says they cut into his already limited research time, plus he’s starting renovations on that old tower in the slums. If you need to speak with him, your best bet is to catch him between classes, or look for him at the tower. If you’re just looking for work, Joyce is hiring some folks to guard the new crypts. Just the thing for you, long, late nights sitting alone in the dark while people have fun above your head…”
“Crypt huh? The notice I read said it was guarding the new temple—figures it would be the least desirable part.” Donovan discreetly lays a small bag with 20 silvers in it on her desk. “Thanks Taleah, that was unusually helpful of you. Any chance you can give me directions to this tower? Oh, and may I just say, the sexy-librarian thing looks good on you. Though I miss the tail.”
With a flash of silver fur, a long fox-like tail curls around the legs of Taleah’s chair briefly, then vanishes. “Everything looks good on me Don, and if you ever want to take a class here again, you’ll remember to call me Professor.” She grabs the bag of coins and slips it into a desk drawer without looking at the contents. “To reach Aumry’s tower, just head out the Parkside Gate and stick to the main road. It’s right past Ernst’s Stables. An ugly old lopsided thing, three-stories tall, you can’t miss it.” She gives him a less caustic smile. “Do take care if you insist on going after the easy-money like this. The town would hate to loose such a talented recruiter.”
“Thanks professor, I didn’t know you cared.” Donovan slides off the desk, sneaks one last peak at the priestess’ copious assets, and heads up the stairs.
“Hey guys. It looks like we might have a better chance meeting the professor if we just went to his home. Apparently he’s renovating an old tower in the slums.” He looks at the door with distaste. “I took this class ages ago. The good brother wasn’t lying about those stray lightning bolts. I say we just leave a note that we’re looking for him, go get a bite to eat, and then meet him at his place later.” He turns to head back downstairs. “Oh, and the night watchman gig at the temple of Sune sounds like a total bust.”
Lyra, Gendry, and Amara
Lyra smiles at Amara. “Maybe we can wait just a little while longer, ok?” Lyra walks over to the railing, observing the swordplay below and seeming lost in thought. Her mind reaches out to professor Aumry. “I apologize for any interruption, Professor Aumry of Umber. Your niece Amara is newly arrived in Phlan, and rather upset that she did not see her father at the docks. If you’ve a moment to spare, she wishes to see you.”
Professor Aumry responds almost instantly, “…now draw the glass rod over the wool like so and pronounce the final…Oh? A telepath? Interesting. You say Amara is here? I’m afraid I am rather busy at the moment. This class should end promptly in thirty-seven minutes. Please bring Amara to the common room of the Cracked Crown at that time. Oh, and do be careful with the girl, she can be quite dangerous if she gets upset.” The message ends abruptly as the contact is terminated from the other end.
Lyra looks up from where she was staring off. “Let’s eat at the Cracked Crown.” She hesitates, just for a moment. “I think I remember seeing it on the tour earlier, and I liked the sign.”
Gendry, still keeping a, hopefully reassuring, hand on Amara, peeks into his purse. “You buying?”
Lyra considers for a moment, looking over the very well dressed minotaur with a very nice sword. “You can pay me back out of our first job. My purse isn’t that much heavier than yours.”
Amara’s eyes get a little big. “But he’s right behind that door!” Then her stomach rumbles. “I guess I could eat, but we can come find him right after, right?”
Lyra crouches so she is eye level with Amara, her long dress pooling around her feet. “We’ll find him right after, I promise.” She stands up, smooths her skirt, and heads downstairs to join Donovan. “We should have time to eat before class is out. Now which way was the Cracked Crown from here?”
“Do you you think they have Behir steaks there?” Amara asks. “I love Behir steaks.”
Donovan looks at Gendry and Lyra, “Don’t worry, this one’s on me. And the Cracked Crown is right next door.” He heads for the exit. “I’m sorry Amara, I doubt they have behir. The Bitter Blade occasionally buys exotic corpses from adventurers to add to the menu, but that tends to be a whatever they find in the ruins kindof deal—imports of exotics into the city are still pretty limited. The Crown only deals in local meats—mostly pork since that is what the proprietor raises.”
Shuddup seems to perk up at the prospect of leaving the training house and eating, “Food sounds great.” Then adds under his breath, “as does not being in this building. The only thing more dangerous than a magic user is an untrained magic user.”
As if queue by Shaddup’s comment, an explosion rocks the Training Hall. One of the doors on the lower level bursts open, sending sparring warriors toppling and spraying the atrium with flaming shards of wood. A huge cloud of steam billows out of the opening, followed by a stream of heavily singed gnomes carrying scorched tools of all kinds. At the end of the string of fleeing gnomes comes a gnome wearing a leather apron, a broadbelt, and a welding mask, walking as calmly as anything. Once clear of the steam, she flips up the mask, revealing a face that would be beautiful even by elven standards, and shouts “Alright. Good work. Take the rest of the day off…”
Gendry turns his body to shield Amara from the blast and runs for the exit. “The fuck?!” He pauses, ever so briefly, just across the threshold, and stares awestruck at the very idea of a gnome being that beautiful, then runs for the Cracked Crown, telling himself that if a gnome is involved it must be some kind of trick or illusion. Maybe some side effect of that ‘science’ that Shaddup has been blabbering one about…
“So much for science being safer than magic. Power, magic or otherwise, without responsibility is a great destructive force, and the repercussions of its misuse unknown until far too late to rectify.” Lyra takes on her mother’s tone a bit as she recites the warning from memory.
Lyra looks around, making sure no one is seriously injured before following the others out.
Shuddup begins walking toward the stunning gnome, mouth agape, then proceeds past her trying to peer into the smoke, “Ooooh, what are you working on?”
The gnomish woman pulls out a strange-looking iron box with a large lever on one side and seemingly hundreds of raised keys. She doesn’t so much as glance at Shaddup as she begins typing into it with one hand, creating a deafening clacking noise, punctuated by the occasional shrill whistle. “A class project. We’re building a steam engine that should perpetually generate its own energy by smashing together magical stones from the deep Underdark at high velocity, collecting the energy released by the impact, which is then converted to heat, which runs the boilers. The pressure from the steam is then used to propel the stones towards each other again, thus repeating the process. Only 0.0000001% of the stone is fractured off by each firing, and the energy released is tremendous. Once perfected it could run for several million years on only the two stones. According to today’s experiment, I think we need to attach a third cam-shaft to the secondary torsion sprocket on the quarternary accelerator and then reinforce the…” She continues talking as she walks up the stairs towards the far room, continuing to clack away on the box in her hands, and then slams the door behind her.
Lyra, Gendry, Donovan, and Amara
Donovan follows Gendry out the door and turns left towards the Cracked Crown and walks in. Scanning the crowd gathering for lunch for any other familiar faces, he walks up to the bar, orders five plates of sausages and mash, four pints, and a glass of milk, then looks for a table that will seat them all.
Amara looks at her plate and frowns. “But I wanted bacon!” she whines.
Amara sits down and starts eating her mash and drinking her milk. “When can we go to uncle’s tower?”
Lyra sits at the table with her back to the door, taking one of the plates. She prods the sausage gently, as if weighing odds on the meat composition, then takes a bite. “He should be out of class by the time we’re finished eating. We’ll find him after that.”
Amara starts shoveling food into her mouth, talking around bites. “If I eat faster, will he come out faster?”
Lyra sighs. “It takes more than eating quickly to make time move faster.” She takes a sip of her pint and makes a face, clearly unused to drinking.
As everyone tucks into their food, another chair appears at the table out of nowhere, occupied by a rather portly middle-aged man in dark robes. “Amara! Welcome. You’re a little late…” He sticks a finger in the air and a waiter hurries over with a large, steaming plate of roasted vegetables and a glass of rose-coloured wine as if expecting him. Aumry looks hard at Lyra, “I suppose you are the one who interrupted my class?”, then around the table at the others. “Are these friends of yours Amara?”
Lyra shrinks a little under the scrutiny. “Would you rather she interrupted class by running into it? Because that’s what she was getting ready to do.”
Donovan very deliberately ignores the whining from the girls and eats his meal in as much peace as can be had. He carefully slices his sausages into bite-size pieces, makes a nest of mashed turnips on the back of his fork, piles the sausage bits on top, and then douses everything heavily with pepper before taking a bite. When Aumry appears, Donovan is so startled that he chokes, gasps, spits, and sends a spray of sausage and turnips across the table. He looks back and forth between Aumry and Lyra, curious about their brief exchange, then interjects, “Are you Aumry of Umbar? My companions and I met Amara unaccompanied on the ship over and agreed to escort her until a suitable guardian could be found. When her father did not appear at the docks, we thought it best to seek you out.” Recovered from the surprise, he takes another bite. “We also wished to speak with you about the job you had posted outside the Training Hall.”
“No miss, your approach was quite appropriate. The students were not disturbed and no damage was done.” Aumry sips the wine, but pushes the plate of vegetable across the table to Amara. “Thank you all for bringing my…niece here, and welcome to New Phlan.” He looks gravely at Amara, “My dear, I’m sorry to say but your grandmother in Melvaunt is unwell. She has asked for your company in these, which might be her last, days,” then turns his attention to Donovan. “Actually, if you are interested in the job I posted, it would be most fortuitous. Its difficult getting quality spell components out here, so I had a large supply shipped to some relatives in Melvaunt. While mostly worthless to common-folk, they are extremely valuable to my work, and I would pay you handsomely to fetch them here. I say fortuitous, because if you would also escort Amara there to see her grandmother, I would be willing to double the advertised payment.”
Gendry, who hasn’t really touched his food either, perks up. “Double you say? Would the half-up-front still apply?” He downs his beer in one gulp and begins drumming his fingers on the table. “Where should we pick up these components for you? Do you have an address for these relatives? Have the items already been payed for? Need signed for?…”
Lyra finishes her last bite of sausage and delicately dabs her mouth with a napkin. “Am I correct in assuming that we will need to acquire our charter before being able to accept the job? Other than that, if expediency is an issue…. How long does the journey typically take, and what volume of goods will we be retrieving? Are any of the reagents perishable?”
Aumry smiles, “All good questions. I’m glad you’re all so interested. I, personally, do not care if you have a charter, your safe conduct of Amara here is enough assurance of your good-faith for me. You will need a charter from the Council in order to leave the city gates, however. The trip overland usually takes three days—baring incident or bad weather. I will provide a wagon and team to aid in transporting the goods. The reagents should all be properly preserved, but many may be in fragile containers and you will be responsible for their safe conveyance.” He looks Gendry strait in the eye. “And, yes, you will still receive 50% up front to help cover any expenses you incrue on the journey or any personal supplies you may need.”
“Well, Amara, if you’re going to go visit granny on her deathbed, it sounds like you’ve got an escort. Lyra, Gendry, Shaddup—shall we go get ourselves a charter so that we can get through the gates?”
Gendry looks across the table at the empty chair and uneaten sausages. “Umm, I think Shaddup is still at the school investigating that explosion…”
Lyra giggles and sets down her empty pint glass. “Or the pretty gnome that caused it. Either way, he prob’ly needs to be there when we get the charter ’an we need the charter to get back in through the gates.”
Amara tucks into the veggie plate with nom nom noises. As she finishes and the conversation winds down, she says, “Thank you Lyra, that would be good.” Turning to Aumry she says, “I suppose grandmother will need her medication? Where is the apothecary shop?”
Aumry finishes his wine and stands up. “I think your smiling face is all the medicine your grandmother will need, and, sadly, there is not a proper apothecary in town yet. However, if you did want to take along something to cheer her up, you might stop by Wollaeger the Chandler in the Slums Market, I hear tell his scents are quite remarkable.”
“I have another class to attend to. This afternoon need to meet with the contractors overseeing the restoration of my new tower. Its in the northwest corner of the Slums, right on Parkside Gate Road. You can find me there once you are all cleared by the Council to use the gates.” He walks around the table and kisses Amara on the top of her head, then turns to leave.
Lyra looks over at Amara. “Don’t you want to see your father before we have to leave?” She looks back to Professor Aumry before he goes. “She said her father has a shop here. Could you give us directions? Unless of course he’s traveled ahead to Melvaunt to care for your sick grandmother.”
“A shop? Really?” Aumry chuckles. “You could say that I guess. Hasan does have a stall in the Slums Market, but he’s seldom there. You’ll most likely find him in the company of Councilmen Mondaviak arguing about import tarrifs, or else in one of the shops in the city or the slums trying to drum up support for his ’Merchant’s Council’. Maybe if he were more concerned with tending to his business than with organizing the other shopkeepers politically he might actually be able to afford a storefront of his own…”
“He’s a very busy man,” Amara explains helpfully, “He won’t have time to visit grandmother with us.”
Donovan finishes eating, places a gold piece on his plate, and rises. He gives Amara a quizzical look, “…Weren’t you just crying about him not meeting us at the docks?” then shrugs and heads for the door. “Alright, it sounds like we’ll have to go slumming as soon as we’ve got our papers. Lets go collect Shaddup and get in line to face the bureaucrats…”
Amara says, “Well of course I want to see him, he just can’t go with us silly.” She gets up. “Let’s go to the market, maybe he’s there!”
Gendry grabs the uneaten sausages off of Shaddup’s plate and shoves them in a pouch before following Donovan out. “Gnome’s gonna be hungry…” he mutters to himself.