The Firelands Job

Gatac 2013-12-07 04:57:19
IC Thread 25b - Toshiba and Kiara
Gatac 2013-12-09 09:29:55
The rich and powerful control the empire - we steal it back from them.

(Takao slices through three pirates in a rapid series of slashes. [Title: RONIN])

(Kagemaru appears out of the shadows behind a guard and chokes him out. [Title: SHADOW])

(Kirika rises out of a hot bath, showing off her tattoos as she reaches for her sword. [Title: SCION])

Sometimes, shinobi make the best samurai.

(Kiara dives down from the sky on dragon wings. As she lands atop a wall with the moonlight silhouetting her, a dozen ninja silhouettes rise beside her. [Title: NINJA])

(Toshiba rushes into an alley, ripping off his cloak to show the blue armor beneath. [Title: ONI])

We provide...leverage.
Gatac 2013-12-11 08:15:08
The Firelands lie in the Northwest of the empire, cut off from the main mass by vast mountain ranges. Though both mountain passes and some deep tunnels attempt to connect it, the Firelands have traditionally traded with the rest of the empire by ship. Ships are central to living in the Firelands: they connect isolated communities, venture to sea to bring in the haul of the offshore fisheries, and stand ready to evacuate people. The Firelands owe both their fertility and their name to the volcanoes that ring it. Minor eruptions are a fact of life, and frequently, roads have to be closed or small villages moved to escape the streams of rolling lava. The last major eruption that swept away everything in the region is now a few hundred years in the past, far enough that tales of it have passed into myth: the tribulation, they call it.

Most imperial citizens only know of one city in the Firelands: Stonesky, the buried city. A combination of the sea biting through the cliffs to reach a major cave system inside plus man's activities over the last centuries has created a settlement hidden within the mountains. Though its location seems precarious, Stonesky is well away from any major lava flows and boasts a strong system of levees towards the seaside. Many tunnels connect Stonesky to the surface, where its laborers work either as masons or as specialist farmers of exotic crops - the Firelands' main rice production lies further north. Miners drive new tunnels into the stone and work to expand the city while traders similarly stay in the perpetual twilight of torches and weather shafts; their business is through the Qin tunnel, a masterpiece of engineering that is the most capacious land route to the core of the empire. The nobles make their homes above most of the city, preferring private cave homes either built into the "ceiling" of Stonesky or the cliffs outside.

And it is here that our story resumes...
Admiral Duck Sauce 2013-12-12 15:49:23
No one would expect one trained by the Ayami clan to make his entrance thusly: A meteor plummets towards the shaped rock and scaffolds of Stonesky, its tail of flame and smoke obscuring the armored form within. The celestial intruder's arc flattens for a moment, then slows before passing out of sight behind the city's bluffs. There is no impact - Toshiba has had ample opportunity to perfect his aerobatics since his ill-advised leap into the woods outside Sarano's.

He gets up from his landing position and starts to move immediately. He'd have some time to get a feel for this unique city and its people before meeting Kiara at the agreed-upon rendezvous.
Nevina 2013-12-21 10:27:31
Kiara's own gliding entrance was a silent one, as was second nature to a ninja. The myriad openings in the rocks piqued her interest, and while nothing could beat a good battle, she did so enjoy the excitement of new places to explore. As she wandered further in, she could feel the heat and hear the general hubbub vibrating through the air. She couldn't tell the time, and gave pause to reconsider. She had wanted to peek through the marketplace at least, but perhaps it would be better to go to the meet up before getting lost in the winding tunnels. With a wistful sigh, she turned around and reached back to the chill air of the outside, heading towards the direction where she had first seen the the arc of a meteor. This meant he would've made progress towards there by now, so with a rough estimate she circled around towards the entrances nearest that angle. Toshiba's moving form would have been incredibly hard to detect, had she not known what to look for and the bit of luck she managed to find in coming across him. It probably helped that neither of them were in sneak-mode.

"You know," Kiara's voice appeared before she did, slinking from the shadows as she coiled around to stand beside her new partner-in-not-crime, "I would've thought this place would be hotter. Guess you can't cheat winter all the time." Her bare arms suggested she wasn't bothered by the temperature either way, and she flounced merrily forward. The urge to explore and see what trouble she could find was hard to resist though, so she remained within speaking vicinity of the other man.

"I wonder if they hold barbecues with lava streams. I'd love to check out their meat selection." She nearly purred at the thought of fresh food, her eyes flicking every which way as she peeked around corners to eyeball the strange building structures in the mountains.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2013-12-21 11:28:54
"By all means, let us get some food," Toshiba agrees. "And figure out what we're dealing with in this place as well. If there is truly an army sheltering here or nearby, it cannot be too hard to find. We'll follow the food," he adds, grinning.
Gatac 2013-12-22 09:15:12
There is indeed lava BBQ! Or at least that's what the sign at the tavern built into the cliffs overlooking the levee area says; in truth, it's just grilling meat on lava stone. Still tasty, though.

(Toshiba's Investigate/Canvass, at +10 due to the size of Stonesky: 1d20+17+10 = 38 ILLUMINATING!

Gathering the information takes 1d4 = 1 hour.)

The novelty of the tavern proves to be a boon to your information-gathering efforts, as it attracts a rather broad audience of wandering traders. Toshiba quickly strikes up a few friendly conversations, and while he doesn't get the proverbial map with a big SECRET ARMY HERE scribbled onto it, one name keeps coming up: Yin "The Rock" Lee, a mainlander with military bearing who's well-known around town for the business he brings: large orders of supplies to be loaded onto his own caravans, with ample payment and secrecy. Lee himself makes his home in a small mansion in the shadow of the levee. One trader hastens to add that Lee rarely goes anywhere without two well-trained guard dogs.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-01-07 15:15:52
"What do you think?" Toshiba asks as he and the Red Dragon leader chew some sort of meat cooked a little too well for Toshiba's taste, slathered in a mild brown sauce that was perfectly in line with his taste. "We could approach Lee, aiming to hire ourselves out. The old 'we are good enough to find you, you should hire us' ploy. We could simply steal into his mansion and look for routes and supply information, maybe interrogate the-"

Toshiba stops eating for a moment and laughs. "We could hire ourselves out and maintain a cover - had we Kirika with us. No, I think a direct route with a subtle touch suits us best, what say you? Shall we infiltrate Lee's abode, show him his defenses mean nothing, and obtain the caravans' destination from the master himself?"
Nevina 2014-01-09 00:05:39
"I doubt one versed in secrecy would be willing to trust a couple of strangers, even if we show him his security loop holes." Kiara's voice was muffled as she gnawed haphazardly on the meat. She swallowed, then continued, "I mean, perhaps if we come off as mercenaries with zero interest in secrets so long as the pay was good."

Then again, Kiara wasn't sure how well she could pull off the obedient role. She liked the sound of her own drum a little too much. "That might also take too long to work in to." The ninja resumed her attack on the meat, listening as Toshiba began his next idea.

"By 'obtain' do you mean hold a knife at his throat? 'Cause I could do that." Her eyes glinted merrily, "Though he doesn't seem the type to talk so easily. Surely he's not the only one that knows these things. Maybe some desperate rival or something. Or we could go with a knife at the throat. I'm partial to that."

She polished off her meal, stretched her arms above her head in one fluid motion with a satisfied little sigh, "Hmm, well, I don't really care what method we use. Sounds like we'll butt heads with bodyguards either way, so I'll tag along with whatever you'd like to do then."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-01-10 15:29:55
"Our end goal is to wrest control of Noronu's army by force or guile if possible, and disband it as a second option. So perhaps a silent infiltration of Lee's mansion is in order. I mean to follow his caravans to the army, and the more information we have, the better armed we shall be. If we are discovered, we shall upgrade to 'swords at necks'."
Gatac 2014-01-22 12:34:51
Having finished your meal, you drift along the rumor stream into Stonesky's less desirable parts for Unsurprisingly, the confluence of being near the underground trade route and the eternal twilight makes the in-cave sections of the city somewhat more ethically flexible, and by following people who know people who know a guy, you end up at Honest Hishimu's All And Sundry, a pawnbroker built into a small side cave with a bit of a reputation for stocking more than the family heirlooms of the desperate.

When you enter, the first thing you notice are the shelves. Shelves everywhere. Shelves with things, shelves with stuff, shelves with boxes (containing things and stuff), and only a small desk to break up the monotony. Behind that stands the tall, balding man who must be Honest Hishimu, and between him and the two of you, the place is absolutely packed. The second thing you notice is Hishimu, whose smile seems to rise along with his gaze as he sizes up you and your gear and comes to the conclusion that you might just be the best customers he's seen all month.

"Come in!" he says. "I said come in, don't stand there!"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-01-22 12:56:49
Toshiba looks around the small but packed shop and comes to an easy conclusion. The blunt, straightforward approach would save everyone's time. Trying to obfuscate his and Kiara's shopping list would be useless; Hishimu looked like he'd give them up to the smallest bribe, and killing him to cover their tracks was messy and dangerous. The man no doubt had a customer base who would not appreciate his demise.

Or maybe they would. Either way, it mattered not.

"In point of fact, my good man, standing is entirely my problem. I've the urge for some climbing. Rope, hooks, quick-acting poison for ingestion or injection, and the accoutrements therein. And some animal husbandry while I'm at it - I need urine from bitches in heat, or barring that, directions to a breeder of dogs. And peppermint oil. And if you have any, sausage, although I believe I am capable of sourcing that myself from any of the vendors near the vents."
Gatac 2014-01-22 13:26:35
(Hishimu's Haggle: 1d20+10 = 30
Toshiba's Haggle, untrained: 1d20+4 = 16 capped at 15 - TRICKED BY BIZ-NESS!)

Hishimu's smile only widens as Toshiba lays out his shopping list.

"I can get you all that within the hour," he says. "500 silver."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-01-22 13:36:06
Toshiba frowns. He was expecting to hear a number quite less than that, even with a markup for Hishimu's silence on the matter.

It's been a while since I've had to resort to banditry, Toshiba thinks. Or been robbed myself. They say it is like riding a horse, once you learn how to do either, starting again is quite easy.

"Perhaps we could say 300 silver, and we could bring you the difference in other easily-marked-up items soon after?"
Gatac 2014-01-22 13:40:54
"300 silver now," Hishimu says, "and 400 silver more in either coin or fenceable goods by noon tomorrow."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-01-28 10:58:47
Petty thievery to precipitate grand larceny of an army, it is.


Toshiba passes the intervening hour on the streets, trying to get more of a feel for Stonesky, to spot useful alleys and bolt-holes for after the upcoming job. There was a time so many people would have put him on edge, but after the breakneck tour of the Empire, Toshiba finds a little more worldliness suits him well.
Gatac 2014-02-04 13:26:13
(Toshiba's Investigate: Roll 1: 1d20+17: 1d20(8) 17(17) = 25)

Stonesky holds plenty of surprises for the unwary: massive though the cave may be, it still has nothing on the open lands other cities this size are built on, meaning that there's just not that much distance to gain from your pursuers in any one direction - unless that direction is up, in which case you're in luck. Buildings stacked on top of buildings reach into little side tunnels or attach to the enormous natural pillars holding the cave's ceiling up, and that's before you add bridges, decks and ropes. The haphazard building process means that even buildings that look like a solid wall all the way up from "street" level can actually open up a few levels up, providing little alleys to slip through. And if all that fails, there's still going through buildings, though the few Toshiba gets a glimpse of seem more like traps for the unwary, with staircases and dead-end tunnels and levels not quite lining up between different parts.

An hour later, you return to Hishimu, and true to his word, he opens up a chest and lays out your shopping list on his counter - making sure to keep the small items away from you, lest you try to pilfer them with some sleight of hand.

"That's my end of the deal," Hishimu says. "Now, I'll have those 300 pieces you owe me."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-02-05 06:23:00
Toshiba notes the weight of coin with some regret as he passes it over. He checks over the equipment and, finding it in good order (he hopes), nods.

"See you tomorrow," he bids Hishimu good day and rejoins Kiara outside.

"No use wasting time," he tells his compatriot. "Let us find a quiet spot and prepare for our incursion, which has expanded to include quite a bit of robbery now. Our main hurdle is the dogs, I believe, but that is why we have the urine, sausage, peppermint, and poison. We'll prepare some poisoned sausage, some blowpipe darts, and figure out if we need to kill them or if luring them with the urine will work just as well. We get in, find what we can either from Lee's abode or the man himself, then escape vertically into Stonesky's warrens. I doubt they will be able to follow us that way, then we'll just need to evade their searches until we can pay off Hishimu and get to our next lead on Noronu's army."
Nevina 2014-02-15 23:59:35
Kiara had little interest in the currency that made the world go 'round, and left the haggling to what she presumed was the Expert Haggler Toshiba. Her idea of haggling generally involved the shine of a blade. Needless to say, she had no idea what robbery he was speaking of, and didn't put much thought into it.

She quirked a brow at her partner as he came out with the goods, a small frown dotting her lips, "You want to kill dogs?" It was hardly her idea of fun, and aside from a few teeth marks, it didn't ring the bells of Epic Battle.

"Rub down a mailman with some sausage and let him run them off for us so we can focus on the better things!" She was pouting, which made it hard to tell if she was joking or being serious. "So, does vertical playtime means we wait for nightfall?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2014-02-16 21:47:58
"I don't want to kill dogs, but if they're in our way..." Toshiba leaves the obvious unsaid. "And yes, we'll go in at night, but we should get up there now and lurk, settle in, and be another part of the scenery until nightfall."
Gatac 2014-02-20 14:37:09
From the perspective of the cave, nightfall in Stonesky is just a change in the background with a few more torches lit - but while the city continues to bustle, the caves fall dark. Toshiba and Kiara have picked their perch well, with full sight of Lee's house beneath them. Lee himself returns from his latest business trip just after the moon rises, flanked by two tall, black dogs who keep scanning the alleys and surroundings for any threat to their master. However, the stay outside when he enters his house, taking up watch near their kennel in the small garden next to the building. Toshiba's arbalest lies assembled, loaded with a rope bolt, while the poisoned sausages and other tricky treats are packed into a small bundle.

Go time.