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The Devil's Own (Glen, Ka'Ri, Sithani, Sunrise, Thimb)

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"Whichever you would prefer. In truth, I wouldn't mind hearing about her patron as I'm not even sure who/what they are? But I'll defer to the group." Ka'Ri responds.
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"I'm flattered by the interest, but there's a chance that our business might be more important?"
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"I dunno, Sith," Glen chimes in, getting a bit more familiar since he's known her a few minutes longer than he's known anyone else in the group. "It's a lively night, we've got good food and drink. I don't think it's entirely unrelated to the work, either - like you said, if we're going to be having each other's backs, why not spend a few minutes getting to know each other a little better?"
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"And the night's young," Sunrise agrees with a smile. "We've got time."
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"I'd like to hear about your patron," said Thimb, adding her two cents, "different sources of magic are always fascinating! I'm envious of sorcerers, and when I was younger if some powerful entity had strolled up and offered me a contract I'd have jumped right on it! Heck, I still might," she said with a half laugh.

Hamish leaned into the scritch before happily devouring the chunk of fish which, given their current size, should have been difficult. It was not.
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"Well, if the people are in favour..." Sithani leans back in her chair and steeples her hands in front of her.

"So you may or may not know I have a bit of a reputation for wild parties with the other useless rich kids of the city. When the plague started to be a noticeable worry, naturally we partied harder in defiance of death, and I had this absolutely brilliant idea of throwing a party in this old ruined temple outside the city walls. There was this violinist I'd heard of who lived in some obscure street in the slums I was never able to find again, and I'd heard he composed this strange wondrous music of harmonies and discords that didn't admit to any known style yet held an unearthly beauty and vague half-caught sense of meaning... I admit, this isn't just the reports I'd heard of him, because I was able to hire him to play at the revel I'd organised, and the wild screams and howls he was able to coax from his instrument were fantastic; they'd been just what I was looking for my whole life. And I'd also taken this drug that the old priests used to use as an entheogen, so they say, and what with the dancing and the music and the drug I passed out, and in my dream I came to this far-off place, this scarred and cratered plain under writhing constellations with colours and motion I'd never imagined..."

She takes a sip of her wine and regrets it immediately.

"Anyway, that's where I met my patron. I say 'met', I have no idea if it even knew I was there. It's something like a mass of tentacles, or vast raven's wings, or if fire was black, only full of these vacant staring eyes... or at least that's what I could see of it. I don't even know if it was a real place I visited; it could be just a glimpse of my patron's mind. Everything about it was so distinct from the world we know, it felt like the source from which our ideas of holiness or beauty or cruelty are incompetently derived. And when I woke up, my mind felt different to before." <I was able to slip it out of the bounds of my skull,> she demonstrates, "And I had this weird intuitive grasp of the weave of magic - I can see or feel or taste how to pull on its threads to get the effects I want." She shrugs. "After that, everything here just fell into place as inherently arbitrary. I was already cynical about the social order that gave me and my siblings such luxury while half the city lives in places like this; now I knew that there was no inherent order to the cosmos such that we deserve it, and there's nothing save dull habit that keeps it going. Which is why, common decency aside, I'm helping on our shared mission: in a purposeless cosmos that bubbled up from the centre of chaos, what is there worth doing but kindness?"
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"Beautiful."

A tiefling man with skin the color of fog, hair the color of midnight, and eyes like gleaming silver orbs slips with elegant grace into the space beside Sunrise--not sitting, just standing and observing the group with a gentle, almost sorrowful, charm.

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"Nerull's taint; warn someone if you're going to do that! Who are you again?"
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Sunrise listens to all of this, her eyes growing steadily wider.

At the end all she can say is "...Wow."

She blinks at Sithani's outburst; it takes her a moment to come out from the story's spell to look around. "Oh! Everyone, this is a friend of mine. Somber, this is, um... everyone. Pull up a chair?"
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Somber gives everyone a gentle smile and manages to coax a chair from a nearby table. He pulls in a seat beside Sunrise and extends a hand to whoever wishes to shake it. "Lovely to meet you, and to hear such an engaging philosophy. Somber, he of Westside."

He's interrupted by the arrival of yet another tiefling; this time a youth who can't be more than twenty, with ruddy skin the color of severe sunburn, ruby freckles splayed over their cheeks and nose, and glittering goldstone eyes. This is "Young Iados", child of "Old Iados", and one of the family members working the crowded floor as wait staff.

"How is everyone over here? I'm Iados, they of Devil's Own, and I'll be your server this evening! I-- ow!" They jump out of the way as a drunken patron stumbles into the small of their back on the way to the restrooms. "I... I see not all of you have ordered," they recover as the patron lurches off. "What can I get you all?"
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"Hey, Iados." Sunrise nudges Somber. "Get what you want; I'm paying, because I want to pick your brain in a minute."
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Sithani shakes his hand in return. "Sithani Molana, she of the Sun District."
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Thimb listened with rapt attention as Sithani talked. She had heard of such tales before but never first hand! She had a billion questions, but not all of them had, you know, words. She was a little envious of the ability to just... understand how to tug on magic like that. She had spent her whole life to get as far as she had (which, given how much more time she spent on chimeras was not as far as she would have liked) but it was always so cool to see how other casters did it!

Sithani was saved by an onslaught of highly technical questions by Somber joining them, and perked up with her usual enthusiasm at a new friend, "Oh! Hi! I'm Thimblewick Riptide- but everyone just calls me Thimb- of, uhm, oh shoot what do people in the gate call it again..?" she looked to Hamish who had snuck a mushroom. They trilled something, "Right, I think that's right. The 'sylvan lands'?" she did not sound entirely convinced.

"Oh!" she was in the middle of holding her hand out to shake, but didn't quite complete the gesture as she was distracted by another new friend. Well, new person. She had no idea what the food was, and in a slight panic pointed to a random plate of something a person at the table next to them had, "Uhm, one of those please? And your darkest ale. Please. Thank you."
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Glen listens to Sithani's story quietly, sopping up the remaining broth with a hard piece of bread. He is a little startled - and frustrated he did not see Somber sooner - and a little suspicious, but when Sunrise introduces him as a friend, Glen relaxes. "Glen, he of the Silverwoods." He decides to leave his military affiliation aside since this isn't necessarily official business.
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"But I need my brain," Somber teases lightly. "Soft shelled crab and slaw, please, Iados. And I heard some of Madren's mead came in earlier? Slum gold."

"Nothing better in Westside, 'cept maybe Sunrise," Iados teases. "Red curry lobster, butter rice, and snap peas," they add with an approving nod at Thimb's order. "And dark ale. Anything for the wee little beastie? Yes, 'e's a good little bird-mouse, isn't 'e? Yes. Yes. Yes."
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Ka'Ri remains silent as she weighs the new stranger. On the one hand, it is seemingly a friend of Sunrise's invited into a meeting that was intended as a touch-base on further investigations. On the other, she has seen Sunrise be friendly to plenty of individuals who she would not want to meet in a dark alley. The types of folks who would have you locked away without a word or a trial just because they could. Like Luther.

Surreptitiously, she tears a small piece of cloth and with her other hand covering under the table, scratches a quick note to Sunrise, passing it into her lap with a practiced subtlety before catching her eye and hinting downward without betraying her actions too much.

Sleight of Hand:
8 + 8 = 16 Welp, fuck, Ka'Ri has just drawn the eye of anyone with a half-trained eye that she's pulling some sneaky shit. Uncle Sneaky would be disappointed.
Content of the Note:
Is this someone I can trust with my real name? Tap my arm once for yes, twice for no, because I have a cover story ready if not.

To the young waiter taking orders she smiles and orders as blandly as she can. "I'll have an ale and stew, thank you."

After all she had made Qiao a promise to actually care for herself and she supposed she could start with actually putting a real hearty meal in her body.

She keeps an eye out for when Sunrise glances at the note, but otherwise keeps to herself. Hoping to be lost in the noise until she receives her answer.
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Sunrise smiles at the compliment, but her heart's not in it.

She glances at the note after the waiter leaves. Reaching over, she gives Ka'Ri's arm a single, decisive tap, then leans in. "Well, you can keep your brain," she tells Somber, "after I pick it." Her voice turns low and serious. "I'm involved in something. It's legit," she promises, "but dangerous. If we trust the wrong person, it could mean lives on the line, including mine."

She locks eyes with Somber, in full view of the rest of the table. ""With that in mind? I wanna talk to you about your girlfriend's boyfriend. Cards on the table: if it meant possibly going against someone in his temple, would you trust the Olidammaran cleric with my life?"
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Ka'Ri exhales relieved. "Ka'Ri, she of the sea, nice to meet you."
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For whatever it may be worth, the new arrival doesn't seem to notice the passing of notes. He smiles at them all and shakes the offered hands as Iados collects the rest of the orders and scurries away.

At Sunrise's question, Somber blinks slowly and gives the hypothetical due consideration. "I wouldn't like to trust anyone with your life," he finally admits with a soft chuckle. "That part is making the answer hard. Would he go against someone in his temple, though? Probably. Depends on how much and how far you mean by 'go against'. If there was profit in it, maybe. If they deserved it; that would help. Lucky's loyal to a fault, but he's also got a strong sense of self-advancement. Wouldn't have gotten out of the slums otherwise."

Steepling his fingers, he cracks the tiniest smile. "Want to elaborate?"
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She hesitates. Glancing around at the rest of the group and lowering her voice further, she says, "The name Korogur Redfang mean anything to you? How about Betreygis Redfang?"
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His silver eyes widen. "Yes. To both. Pirate and priest."
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Glen falls uncharacteristically quiet, pushing his now-empty plate to the edge of the table to make it easier for the server to pick up. He sits back in his chair, watching carefully, his face betraying no emotion. It was one thing to introduce him as a friend whose brain needed picking, but now Sunrise is talking to Somber about the powerful and well-connected crime family they were investigating, who had a hostage they were trying to save, and without telling the rest of them a single thing about it. Not wanting to interfere, Glen stays silent but does his best to size up Somber and his intentions.

Insight re:Somber wrote:Nat 20+4=24
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She sighs. "Then you understand why I don't want to involve you. Believe me, Som, the less you know, the better. But do you think Lucky would go against Betreygis in a good cause? And not sell us out if it would help him advance in the temple?"
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I hope you can trust Sombre not to sell us out, Sithani thinks. For her own part she is cynical; the rich and powerful have a lot of institutional experience in coopting the interests of the poor. Not for the first time she wishes her telepathy were two-way; either that or that Sunrise were an aboleth.
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Glen can see that the tiefling man is clearly an old friend of Sunrise's, and has probably known her since childhood. He knows Somber is here at her behest, apparently as a consultant on a friend within the Olidammaran temple. He is taking care to answer honestly and accurately without leading anyone astray down wrong assumptions. There's no indication that he's looking to profit from this interaction or even trying to involve himself deeper; it is noteworthy that Sunrise stressed first of all that the work is legal and legitimate, suggesting that the young man doesn't with to be entangled in things which aren't.

Somber blinks again, and considers the question with slow care. "Lucky does like good causes," he agrees, nodding his head slowly. "I don't think he'd sell you out, especially if not doing so would help his career. Even if it didn't, his mama still lives here, you know?" he points out. "It'd have to be something pretty big to make him willing to majorly screw over another tiefling. He'd be spat on in the street once people knew. As for Betreygis..." Somber frowns lightly. "I'm not sure what's going on with those two. Lucky used to despise him but for the last year or so, Lucky's been playing chummy-pals with the guy. I can't figure his angle, unless he decided he wouldn't get promoted without Betreygis being on-board."
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