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A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen)

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101 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:55 am

"You're right, I do love cats, but I--AAH!" He tries his best to catch the flying cat.

Dex 6, he doesn't catch it so much as it catches him, hopefully without claws in eyes
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102 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:01 am

Glen receives a solid twelve pounds of panicky fur to the face, but the scratches he receives are mostly superficial; it scrambles away from him as quickly as possible and darts out of the room.

"You see?" Hacari says, inordinately pleased. "Now we just need to find the right cat. How do you feel about black cats, m'boy? No one ever wants to adopt them, you know."

Whirling on Sunrise, she frowns. "Child! You need a tortoiseshell cat and you know it. Stop touching that ginger. This is how you get into trouble, you know."

Jarek receives a benign smile as a very small gray kitten begins industriously climbing up the leg of his trousers.
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103 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:07 am

"A black cat would be lovely, ma'am." He reaches down and scritches behind the ear of the nearest kitty, trying hard to stay focused on the mission despite absolutely melting inside. "I'd happily pay you three more gold for the cat... along with anything you might be able to tell us about our friend's brother."
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104 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:14 am

"Yes, yes, good," Hacari agrees. "A very special black cat for the nice boy, a gray kitten for the other nice boy, and a tortie for the girl." Very firmly, she places a cat in Sunrise's hands.

Glen, by contrast, is very pointedly not handed a cat. "Yours is outside. I'll send it to be delivered. There is a delivery surcharge, of course. That's, hmm, ten gold you owe me, thank you."

This is an absolutely exorbitant sum, and the glitter in her wild old eyes communicates just how much she knows she has them over a barrel.
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105 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:22 am

Glen looks at his companions, feigning concern that they pay him back for their shares of the cat-information extravaganza they've gotten themselves into.

"If you don't mind, I'd love to take it with me today. If not, you can deliver it to the Eighth Division barracks at the Wall. For Elen." He makes a note to tell the folks back at the barracks that he's expecting a package.

He makes a show of sighing and reaches into his purse for ten more gold pieces, and again holds them out, waiting for them to disappear.
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106 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:24 am

They do indeed disappear, with the same alacrity as before. "Delivered," Hacari repeats firmly, with the air of one who dislikes repeating herself.

"Now. An orc boy with twin babies, you said?" she asks, turning back to her puttering.
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107 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:33 am

"Delivered is fine." He smiles. "Apologies. And yes, a half-orc/half-elf boy, with twin babies. Seen anyone like that?"
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108 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:36 am

"No," she says smartly, looking terribly smug.

"However," she adds a moment later, her lips twitching as she plops into a seat and strokes the cats which instantly invade her lap, "I have recently seen a nice tiefling girl with twins. Didn't know her or her family, which is unusual around these parts. Pretty green girl, with green babies."
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109 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:51 am

"Unusual coloring," Sunrise says with a smile, accepting the cat that has been handed to her. "Maybe a green tiefling girl would be more likely to notice a green half-orc boy. Do you think she would talk to us?"
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110 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:54 am

"Who can say?" Hacari says with an airy wave. "The girl was very shy. But she did like cats. I sold her a nice blue-eyed cream-coat. Maybe she'll let your tortie play with it. Off you go, dears, off you go."

The fact that they have received no directions to this girl is perhaps not lost on the adventurers.
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111 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:56 am

Glen stands firm. "Can you tell us where she lives?" His hand hovers near his coinpurse, hopefully making it clear that she could probably weasel some more gold out of him for this information.
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112 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:59 am

"I mean," Sunrise adds with a shy smile, "that sounds like a beautiful cat. And a mother with two babies can always use visitors to help. Where can we find her?"
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113 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:05 pm

Her eyes flicker with amusement at the option to fleece the city slickers for more money, but Sunrise's question earns a resigned smirk. "Three blocks south, take a left and then a right down the alley. Second door from the end of the row, first floor. Knock lightly, strangers."
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114 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:09 pm

"Thank you." Glen pulls out another coin, glad to pay for such valuable information. Returning the favor for her tossing a cat at him, he balances the coin on his index finger and flips it in her direction with a high arc, hopefully making it easy to catch. He is confident that she could have caught it even if he'd thrown it at her as hard as he could. What an interesting woman. "Looking forward to meeting my new cat."
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115 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:10 pm

Now it's Sunrise's turn to hand over money. "Thank you," she says softly, rising with the tortoiseshell cat in her arms. "It's more important than you know."

Pressing five gold pieces into the woman's hand, she adds quietly, "Keep taking care of the babies here. They need someone like you."
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116 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:21 pm

The woman does indeed snatch the coin from the air as easily as plucking a rose, and takes Sunrise's coins with a gentle touch. She looks at them with soft eyes, then bursts into a surprised cackle. "What good children you are. Take care of those three cats, you hear? Go on, now."
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117 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:30 pm

"We will. Take care of yourself, ma'am. And thank you again." He steps out the door, gingerly walks down the steps, turning over her directions and committing them to memory as he walks down to the ground level. He waits there for his companions to say their goodbyes and scoop up their cats, feeling a twinge of jealousy that he's the only one walking away empty-handed. He hopes that she wasn't pulling his leg - a companion would do him well to quiet the bad thoughts that creep in alone at night.
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118 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:38 pm

Sunrise pets her new cat idly, helping Honey down from her shoulder to say hello. Once they've gone a decent way from the woman's door she says quietly, "So. Think we've found him?"
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119 Re: A Needle in a Haystack (Sunrise, Jarek, Glen) on Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:48 pm

Glen nods. "I think so. He's clever, to disguise himself as a tiefling woman. I just hope he's safe - we should go." Given the gravity of the situation, Glen manages to stifle the urge to ask what Sunrise is going to call her new cat. But only just barely.
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Jarek's face is a storm of conflicted emotions. With Thorn and his children in such peril, it can't be a good thing that their search could be finished that fast, especially when the woman was so willing to take bribes without really knowing who any of them were. What happened to that fierce protective spirit they saw so few moments ago when the street mobbed Glen? Either this was a trap, which meant danger, or it was too easy, which meant a different kind of danger, or they'd been completely fleeced, which at least didn't mean imminent violence but put them back at step one again. It seemed doomed to be a day of blood or frustration, and both of those possibilities made his heart tighten and his tusks itch.

On the other hand: kitten.

"You are going to love the ranch," he whispered to the tiny creature. "There are six other cats to show you the ropes and an endless horde of rodents for you to keep out of the feed stores and the hatchery." He tucks it into one of the pockets of his vest, specifically made to temporarily hold small animals with terrible decision-making skills.

To his comrades, as they proceed, he asks quietly: "What do we do if this is a trap?"
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"You and Glen hit people with pointy sticks?" she suggests. "And I try to convince them that we're friends and they don't want to hurt us?"
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Glen nods. "I agree with Sunrise. We'll be okay, Jarek - we've got this." He chews his lip thoughtfully for a couple of moments as they walk. "Any chance you'd be okay with Honey taking a look around the place to see if she can get a look in a window or something?"
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"Do you mind?" Sunrise asks the homunculus. "If I promise to give you plenty of time to get to know the kitty later?"
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"And I promise to introduce you to mine, once it's delivered!"
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Honey rubs a forepaw over the kitty's head in a friendly way and flutters off down the alley where they've been directed. Sunrise concentrates and is again treated to that odd sensation of her consciousness expanding to places outside her body.

The alley is dark and very narrow. The doors are bleak and quiet. It looks, sad to say, much like many of the other apartments they've passed in their journey today. Then, a sudden burst of violence startles Honey and she's forced to fly higher: a door opens and a tiefling man drunkenly stumbles out, shouting imprecations as a teacup flies past his head and shatters in the street. He pauses to urinate against the wall while the door is slammed closed and locked behind him, then staggers out of the alley, barely noticing Sunrise and the others as he lurches past.

The door to which they've been directed--second from the dead end--is quiet. There is a single window next to the door, but it's been covered over with black cloth. No other windows are visible, probably because the apartment is surrounded by more living spaces on every other side except the ground on which it sits.
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