Author Topic: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business  (Read 1808 times)

apeppertoo

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Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« on: October 21, 2021, 05:53:24 PM »
Target is just under six feet, swarthy, black hair. Early middle age. Blotted black tattoo on the right shoulder, circular. Appears to be purposely defaced. Thin. More wiry than muscled. Distinctive profile with a prominent wide nasal bridge. Scarring on the hands and forearms appears to be from blades.

I've lived with hate for a long time. It's kept me warm through every assignment, while in every safe house, while running and hiding from the Cowled through alleys and dark dead ends. While waiting tables or murmuring pleasant nothings at a man whose face I'll forget five minutes later as my eyes scan the room. Hate sustained me through it all, gave me a reason to do as the Cabal asked beyond the gratitude I still feel for them.

The Target moves like a man comfortable in the crowd. Difficult to track, not impossible. Likely learned his trade through experience rather than a master - found the pearl, living this long in that case. Possibly lived well given his known work. Dresses like Copper. Cloth and leather of decent quality, but worn and comfortable. Practical. Likely he's Steel in truth.

Hate gave me proper motivation. Finish this assignment, learn, grow. Help the Cabal achieve their aims, and they will help me achieve mine. I've paid them back for their compassion tenfold with what I've done for them, but our relationship has grown mutually beneficial. I've known the Cabal longer than any one agent or handler, and I return to it each time like a comfortable set of clothes. Someone likely is tracking all of this, high up in the secret reaches, but I am content knowing that each time I come in from the cold I am welcome.

Target left the Copper Coronet alone today. Followed him out of the River District. Kept a great distance while on the Bridge. Veered west into the Center, under Daranthur's Hall briefly. Spoke with the Aerlond peddler there, received a parcel. Back across the Bridge, through River into the Gem. Went into the Diamond Dragon. Surveillance difficult, there. Emerged with his coin purse lighter, left the city through Alandamer's Gate. Surveillance ended there - too much else to do.

Welcome though I might be, my advancement is limited. I know they're comfortable killing those who need killing, and I'd be very hypocritical indeed to gainsay them. Still, when matters are impersonal, I am compelled to seek out reconciliation and so instead I am their spy and occasional saboteur. It serves their interests to have as much information as possible, and to see their less deserving targets embarrassed and disgraced rather than foreclosed. Settles better in my conscience, too, wretched being that I am.

No sightings. No word in weeks. Bribed an older woman to walk into the Dragon and ask after her "son," to say she'd seen him entering and hoped he was considering marrying his sweetheart. All he'd walked out with was a set of silver hair pins, so they said. Can't risk sending another again, so must content myself with that. He'd better emerge again, I won't let this opportunity pass.

So I take on whatever identity they ask. Serving wench. Street walker. Idle Gold heiress. One half of an amorous couple at Waukeen's Promenade. Servant boy, once - quite uncomfortable. I do it gladly, knowing it will help my ultimate ends. I'll have to distance myself from my handlers when I feel I'm ready, once the catspaws have been eliminated, but I'll likely be as prepared as I'll ever be when I do.

Caught him today at the Great Griffin. Near three months from last sighting. His ink couldn't get redder, I'm not on assignment. Prepared, this time. He left through Alandamer again, and I took the potion. Careful of the terrain, mindful of dust and noise, I followed. Either he's going home or to another assignment. Late afternoon, so balance of probability dictates the former unless his schedule is unusual.

A few handlers have guessed at my motivations. It's unlikely they've guessed as to the extent I'll take them. I've been very careful, as though a Cowled was over my shoulder the whole time. I won't risk the Cabal's work. My vendetta will be satisfied by my own hand or I will die in the attempt, a no-name rogue element with no ties to anyone or anything. My fair complexion will help - many already believe me to be a foreigner, even when I wear a turban.

Target is relaxing more the deeper we get into the countryside, the tension leaving his posture. I've had to take another potion. I do not think he suspects - he stays on the road. Weather is highly unusual. Visibility is low. Target veers off toward a cottage now and I must stay closer than I am comfortable with, time my footfalls with his. I let the distance widen as his destination becomes clear - the front door - and I wait in the middle of the road as he enters. Light spills out when the door opens.

The catspaws will remember. How could they not? Such an eventful night. With the proper motivation they will tell me the names of the families who employed them, or they will tell me who arranged it. I will follow their direction, up the bloody chain to those established houses who were so threatened by mine. I will give them reason to fear. It starts with the man who slid his knife into my mother's ribs.

Fog is rolling in more, I call for Tania and sit down out of sight. Cannot confront the Target without a full understanding. She takes wing and I look through her eyes, hear through her ears. I bid her settle on the roof. I can hear a fire, that much I knew already. The Target's footsteps. Quiet. If this is an assignment I'd better - but no. He announces himself. Warmly. With affection. Three voices answer back.

I won't end them like they nearly ended us, I believe myself better than that. I hope that isn't delusion. I will pay them their just wages, though. Those who gave the orders will be brought to justice. Their lackeys as well. From the bottom to the top. It's been a long time coming, but I think I'm ready to begin.

Target has done very well for himself. Target has a family.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2021, 06:35:34 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2021, 07:10:25 AM »
Report: Subject - Kurdret Balcan. Early 50s. Salt and pepper hair and beard, large bald pate he covers with a turban. Short, fat, gluttonous, and foul-smelling. Seems to delight in inflicting his odors on others beneath him. An incredibly miserly dragon - slightest mistake by servants has them thrashed for wasting time alone, and therefore coin, gods forbid if they wasted anything else. Keenly intelligent, industrious, and adept - foreclosed on three rival houses in the last six months. Edged them out of deals they needed, bought them out, or showed prospective partners their clean book. Six legitimate children, four boys and two girls. Relationships strained as a rule.

Subject has an impressive intelligence apparatus. My placement in his household was immensely risky and time consuming. My absence will be noted, and may necessarily burn apparatus we used to place me. Recommend extraction for them. It required great discipline to keep up my disguise through the considerable discomfort, long hours, and grueling perfectionism. I do not predict risk to myself now that I am out - bindings miraculously held, and none saw fit to visit me in private when I had to loosen them. Will refuse any further assignments of this nature - I cannot pass myself off like this properly now that I've come into adulthood.

Subject is an opportunist. Will cozy up to whoever can best advance him or his house. Treats every perceived equal like an old friend, smiling, winking, as though sharing a private joke, whether he's planning to use them, partner with them, or stab them in the back later. Concerning visits from the Cowled revealed to be, surprisingly, social. Always a pair of husband and wife Wizards - Akkin and Ince Karaman. Similar age to Subject. Phraseology indicates a longstanding friendship - on both parts. Not once in these months did they disappear behind closed doors. Most meetings were held in Subject's water gardens. Detailed transcripts to follow, but could not make out any coded phrases of any sort. Analyzed his comings and goings, could not find a pattern of meetings either before or after these visits. Some, indeed, seemed to take Subject by surprise, though he always made time for them. Subject never dropped his affection for them even in their absence.

Followed up with initial sources. Said the Cowled would visit regularly, would spend hours with him, confirmed. Initial sources followed the Cowled, could not find a pattern for who or what they'd visit around these times. No dead drops used. Karamans went about business normally, according to sources.

Agent Analysis: Subject is not a Cowled Wizard collaborator, though he is friends with at least one pair of them. Takes delivery of his dealings, no evidence of finance. Months of observation reveals no reason the Cabal should have a hostile interest in this man - indeed, should we be able to leverage the Karamans, there is opportunity to make use of him for our purposes. I thereby strongly contradict handler's recommendation for foreclosure.

Addendum: Minder's suspicion that handler Glitter has Cyricist ties seems grounded. Recommend observation.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2021, 07:18:48 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2021, 09:01:37 AM »
First of Flamerule, 1380 DR

One week here in this dreary place. Cover identity will be burned when I get back. If I get back. At least I wasn't on assignment, won't be letting anyone down. Others from Toril here, and other places. Like a menagerie. Some were lucky, or unlucky, to be brought here with others they knew and loved.

That wouldn't have been an option for me anyway.

It's colder here and it seems to rain every blasted day. I've listened to the warnings, kept my powers muted around the natives. In that small way, not so different from home. In every other way, worse. Hostile, suspicious locals. Supernatural threats as a matter of course. Some temple to Lathander out there, shambling corpses merely one floor underground. Worse in the depths. Wolves and vampires at night, wererats on the streets and in the sewers. Superstitious halberd-wielding guards murdered on the walls at night. Everyone just shuts their doors and hopes.

I've adapted. Barricade my room with all the furniture that isn't nailed down so I can sleep. Won't help but at least I'll die awake. Maybe I'll make enough noise to get my eventual assailant killed by someone more adept.

Some of the others from Toril have watched out for me. Traiborn from Neverwinter takes me along even as I struggle to manage my powers, barely being of much help to anyone much less myself. Those few I've developed are still more than I had chance to learn in Amn, so there's a small silver lining even if they're not of much use so far. Met a Paladin too, from Baldur's Gate. Dawngaze. He's an Aasimar and doesn't even seem to realize it, was going on about how strange it was that he had an allergic reaction to cold iron. A Paladin, though. I can trust a person like that, insofar as I can trust anyone.

The man is breathtaking but I don't have the courage to tell him.

I find myself listless here. No assignments. No handler to report to. No reports to write. No Targets to track. No lead on how to return. Those I ask say it's not possible, or that they cannot fathom how. If they're right it's made my entire life moot. To cope I've started throwing myself into the crypt's depths. It's not completely suicidal since I don't go alone, but it's close. Still, every time a skeleton breaks off to chase me I run for my life. Too cowardly to accept the inevitable. I may have been alone in Athkatla but I had structure and purpose.

Here?

How can someone find purpose in this bleak place?

I didn't even have a chance to begin. I'd barely made it to the Target's door before the fog took me.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2023, 01:37:48 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2022, 11:04:01 AM »
Fourth of Flamerule, 1380

The crypt bottom was complete chaos. A dozen or more of us utterly routed or foreclosed entirely. By some miracle I was not among them, but not for lack of trying on the part of the skeletons. Wounded but alive, I lay on the floor as they mindlessly shuffled about. Watching them. Watching the rope. Keeping an eye on which ones have bows, their sight angles, plotting a path. When the time was right I sprang to my feet and through strength borne of panic I hauled myself up the rope, prepared for a lonely trek back above - I'd seen nobody else make it up.

I ran straight into a woman at the top. Silver hair, uncommonly short, but graceful and attentive. Gold at first glance, but doesn't seem to be resting on her inheritance. A good enough physician to bind my wounds - fortunate that I didn't tear anything clambering up - while I rested and recovered. Evidently there was something of a rescue happening, another sturdy sort in the next room leading the undead on a chase. I didn't hear her while I was on the floor, but I saw her when she hauled up one body at a time.

I sat and rested for a time. I must have passed out, for the next thing I knew most of the party was on their feet in front of me. Once more we dropped down into that pit and once more we were utterly embarrassed. I do not know if some entity is watching me, preventing me from dying, but I woke up on the floor of the crypt again. I wonder what would happen if I did attempt real suicide? Would the rope break?

I mustered the will, patience, and energy before trying for the rope one more time. Successfully. I ran into her at the top again. Somnia Venenum. Not a local, not with that name. Even better to behold the second time around, though that could have been the blood loss. She said I must be the luckiest woman in "the Core," which I gather is the land mass containing Barovia, among other places. I did not argue with her assessment. She invited me to meet with her the next day - yesterday, now. We managed to recover everyone, and most of their possessions, before quitting that place.

Met her at the little inn outside the walls. Her and one "Kana," who didn't speak as much. Invited me to be her retainer when she left for a land called Dementlieu, elsewhere in the Core. Officially I would be her assistant, organizer, and agent. She intends to become rich and famous for her work in medicine, in the field of prosthetics, and this Port-A-Lucine is known for its wealth and willing patrons. She's from some other place called Darkon, and I didn't ask why she wasn't interested in returning. Yet.

Unofficially, I would be her ears. Her source of gossip, potentially blackmail if necessary. Maybe she's right about the pearl I found, considering how neatly it falls into my skill set. There is nothing for me here, and it'd be easier to find my way home with wealth and prestige, so I agreed. We were to leave today but the mists are uncooperative. We try again tomorrow as part of the Beauregard Expedition. Some Dementlieuse noble who despises this place and wants to make a big show of leaving. I don't blame her, and there's safety in numbers. I buy that Venenum is reading from her clean book on this. What I don't get is her interest. Warrants future investigation.

I strangely feel hopeful. Dementlieu might be just familiar enough for me to get my bearings. About time for the ink to turn black.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2023, 01:37:37 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2022, 08:23:35 AM »
Fourth of Eleasis, 1380

Things have not progressed entirely as I'd imagined. I have stopped sleeping with the door barricaded. For the price the locals charge, I should hope I wouldn't have to. I've put my head down and immersed myself in the language. Somnia is my best resource there. Morning lessons with her and my new friend Eylin, also an outsider to this world. Less and less do I have to politely ask to speak "trade tongue," though most are friendly enough to indulge the request. I think I'm still a minor curiosity to them, or at least my lady's work is. Advanced mechanisms, limb replacement. Merging the Art with medicine to make people whole again. It's something I'm excited, proud, to be a part of. I still do not know when we're going to get working on helping people, though, and I am running out of ways to say that smoothly.

It's worth it for her, though. I've come to believe in her potential, despite things. We are alike in important ways, she just needs help and focus. When she told me about Vallaki and I said they'd made her into a vulture it got through to her. Nothing pierces the heart like family. There's hope for her. She's very different in private, one on one, and I dare say I'm even more fond of her like that. Without the pretense.

The other matters. Dangerous and frightening. Clandestine organizations, entrapment, ambition, temptation, coercion. I had thought I could put much of my training and former life away for the time being, but I need to remain sharp. I hate every part of it. I have had a tiny sip of what life must be like for those who don't wear constantly shifting faces for others and now it's all I want. To be able to smile genuinely, tell people my real name, to be able to have spontaneous conversation without any underlying motive. To have people interested in me and not whatever cover I'm using. To make connections that last longer than an objective. Is that why I believe in her so strongly? Is it purely selfish?

The Cabal are wise. It's harder to lie to people you know.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2023, 01:37:24 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2022, 03:41:48 PM »
Fourth of Eleint, 1380

Ink's turned red. Crespin did something stupid. Got himself ambushed and had to talk his way out. Not his strong suit, poor man. Criminals who held him seem to think we'd sent him for gods know what reason. My interest in his "victim" ranged from nonexistent to mild annoyance. Until today. I get the sense she was hoping for more of a reaction to calling me a "colossal bitch." I've seen plenty of her like before, plying their wiles on hapless foreigners who are unused to how free we are in Amn. Dementlieu is like an entire nation of them. Horribly repressed, bursting at the seams to be touched. She teases the idea of it, and when flirtations don't get her what she wants out come the tears.

It's boring. When I performed similar actions it was in sober service of a clear goal, and I'd never be so green as to flit from one man to another when the first man can see me unless it was to purposely provoke jealousy. I think that is perhaps her greatest crime - to use those meager qualities for such petty ambitions. That and her association with the gnome. She looked like someone just walked over her grave when she saw the gnome.

For all their smug bravado, their attempt to mock my intellect, they're stupid enough to reveal that they're aware of the same information gathered by clandestine means. It takes the sting out of the knowledge I was spied upon and gives me the upper hand. They cannot fool me, now. It strains credulity well beyond breaking for them to be independently aware of something I keep well hidden. They're connected, probably closely if she ran to the gnome for the ambush on Crespin. Third woman's identity unknown. Likely associate, the Gendarme. Was there when she arrived in the city with him. Saw them getting retailored in Emmanuelle's. Then at Seifert's show at l'Eclipse. He seems to be a constant with her, safe to treat him as compromised.

Given the delicate situation abroad I would prefer not to have trouble here, too. I will insist on the need for greater security. These elements can't be allowed to interfere with my plans to extract my lady and Crespin. I'm not interested in foreclosing on petty criminals at this time. There are real monsters to worry about.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2023, 01:36:49 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2022, 05:11:47 PM »
Seventh of Eleint, 1380

Ten thousand solars for the "silver scorpion." Somnia called the offer insultingly low, as is her wont. A Dementlieu problem, but today was not the day for those. The Gendarmerie can handle it. Maybe.

Gathering point was south of Berez. A wagon leading to the mountains. Acquainted with the other two hirelings. I'd seen the Fool before, and the Brute in passing. They questioned my presence, but this was expected. The Brute actually growled at me. I played my role. Loyalty to Somnia, a desire to support her aims. The lie was in what her aims have since become. They don't need to know until it's too late. None of their catspaws are trusted, even my employer, the wagon is fully covered with no way to know where it is going. We accounted for this. Tania performed beautifully. I know where the keep is.

Met the monsters. Term is literal - vampires. A whole coven of them. 'Family,' they call it, these Ulciscor. Even the cold, arms-length secrecy of the way the Cabal finished raising me would put their use of it to shame. They, too, questioned my presence. More adeptly. I revealed my affiliation with the Cabal to expected effect - puzzled indifference. More important was Somnia's word, and their threat if I were to betray them. I scraped by just barely owing to my relative anonymity. Their dog Olivarius threatened me, said he'd be watching. Said if I'd spoke they'd know. They definitely did their best to sell that idea, threatening the Brute for going to the Vardo. Explains why the Vardo halfling approached me, safe to assume that organization is compromised. Fortunate that I remained disciplined, or I'd be in a cell or worse. At least one agent was hovering behind us unseen during the briefing from Octavian, listening to us murmur back and forth.

I saw their creation, now mere weeks old. Had I not known it was a flesh golem I would have believed it (her?) a natural born woman. Save for her manic, unsettling mien, supernatural strength, and flippant regard for life. Evidently she's killed three or four trainers already.

Our orders?

"You will enter Castle Ravenloft."

We're to copy a painting, one the Kargat will use to perfect their creation. To make her resemble the figure in the painting down to the finest detail. Presumably, to strike at the Count. They claim they'd be unable to assist us directly, even to enter the grounds. This explains why they need living agents at all. It also leads me to suspect strongly they'll dispose of their living agents as soon as it is convenient.

This is suicide. Madness. And the madness didn't stop with those orders. They dangled the prospect of reward, relics to assist in the mission. Tools for the Fool. A book. A magic bauble. The Brute, though, she received her reward tonight. We opened the Vault... eventually. The Brute was subdued... eventually. And she received her reward. Gods know where those appendages came from. The flesh sloughed off almost immediately, yet she seemed pleased regardless. A hideous shortcut to unlocking the power inherent in her blood. The little freak Zylock was effervescent with joy at the abomination he performed.

We left thereafter. Nominally, to prepare for our heist. We were given a week's time to gather what supplies we think we might need. I feel condemned. Despite that, I've taken delivery of a solution. They think secrecy is their armor, but I have stripped them bare. Foreclosure is imminent.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2023, 01:36:39 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2022, 07:19:53 AM »
Twelfth of Eleint, 1380

The ink has turned red. I dismissed the local threat, who has used her (knowing?) patsies in the Gendarmerie to strike at us. Overnight in a cell, shackled, the warehouse ransacked. At least we were together. My mind was brimming all the while, turning over possibilities, focusing on one target after another, analyzing what I knew of them and their motivations. The Goon brought us steaks, bafflingly enough, but we were never unshackled to eat the damned things without great difficulty. Every minute we spent in there was one that could have been used preparing instead. The questions were ludicrous, it was clearly a fishing expedition from the start. Asking us about other properties besides the suite and the warehouse, and in such a way that they clearly thought we had a prisoner.

They're grasping, desperate to make something stick. "Medicine without a license" is a complete joke, she's treated nobody in this country. More worrying is their focus on Ulciscor. They've financed something worthwhile out of their spying, but I have denied all knowledge of them - and will continue to do so. If local criminals can so easily infiltrate the Gendarmerie, I shudder to think how they might be compromised by professionals. I will not risk a fate worse than death just to satisfy their curiosity about something that has no bearing on them or their country.

The penumbra of the investigation hangs over us, and where once she was the most sought after woman in the city, now she and I are all but pariahs. Worse, we are not to leave the country until their fake investigation is concluded. In my life before a burned identity could simply be dropped, erased. Replaced. Now I must live with the consequences, even if they are absurd. The injustice, the indifference, the smug looks... they wear on me. I feel an anger akin to that which ignited in me as a child. Lesser, to be sure, but rooted in the same feeling of righteousness.

For all the power I've gained here I'm as helpless as I was that night. I would undo myself and those I care about were I to indulge my anger, and it would not be truly just if I cannot be sure of guilt. I have to wait. Wait, and hope that things will clear, and though I am a patient woman I do not enjoy passivity. It is evident that they will make something stick to extract some blood from us. Our fall has been sudden but I am determined, as I think she is, to endure. To claw ourselves back up and see ourselves victorious. I have not turned her back from the brink of depravity to see us outbid like this.

This matter would be so much simpler back home.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2023, 01:36:27 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2023, 03:24:29 AM »
Twentieth of Eleint, 1380

I thought, or hoped, to safely make a deal with one group of monsters. To use their old hatred, see the yoke removed from those I cherish.

We were waiting there, met with the swill peddler. His story changes. Now his carriage won't arrive until nightfall. We both knew then. We should've left. Stupid. Overconfident. We paid for it. I even saw my Aasimar friend pass by to get on the Vardo for parts unknown. We should've left with him.

The ride was appropriately full of tension. We knew. He knew. We knew he knew. He knew we knew. One of us, I can't remember who, spoke it aloud. It did not alleviate the air. The old man just smiled and pointed out we got on the wagon in the first place. I asked directly about their little stooge, what purpose she must serve by running from one end of the Core to the other, shouting her accusations to anyone who will listen. He deferred.

Met by four mortals under the command of one vampire. "Black Gauntlet." Four fingers and a thumb. At least one with unusual heritage, black feathered wings. Later learned all are fluent in Infernal. Martial bent by my observations - painfully gathered.

My lady was admirably unflappable. More practiced in these terrors than she should be. Our belongings searched and we were led into the manse. Greeted, after a moment, by Valeska von Khorvich, "The Nightmaster." Made clear our lives dangle by a thread, as expected. My lady was forthcoming, knew what they wanted. Ulciscor. And we gave it to them. The work with them, their plans. The location of their lair. I drew them a map. Her, Sirus, another several whose names weren't important enough to be mentioned. All of them, without exception, reacted visibly to the creation's name. Every pertinent detail was shared.

We were transported to what passes for a cell, beneath the earth. All three of us, including the old man who arranged this farce. They appeared to us again after a short time, to agree to our terms in exchange for the sequence to the Vault of the Unknown. They received it, and then made to kill us. Whereupon we both entered the Ethereal and passed through their confinement, save for the old man. I watched, though, and their hound made no move to attack him.

We fled through the walls to the outdoors, dawn was breaking. Only the mortal servants. They were unexpectedly prepared for us to fly out. I knew pain, weapons hitting my wings as my lady kept speeding ahead, falling, and then nothing.

I awoke to a blasted landscape, my lady nearby. She'd sacrificed for me, and even in that moment she didn't believe in herself like I believed in her. Through the pain, through the crushing despair we embraced for fear it was the last time, the life getting pulled from her. But she kept breathing. Just barely. Just enough. I kept telling her, keep telling her, that she's better than she lets herself be. That I would not be here, not be alive, were she irredeemable. That she didn't make me worse. That she gave me purpose anew.

We struggled our way through the mists, back to the keep. Back to the city. Eight days unable to leave and now I never want to. They can have their false confession, their pointless machinations, their underworld schemes. I cannot bring myself to care, not when she's given everything.

We knew it was a trap, and we walked in anyway. We could have left. We could have withheld crucial information until given assurances. We could have prepared better, fortified ourselves. Could have done dozens of things differently to avoid this.

All I can do instead is turn every effort I have to confronting our new reality. I can't let my despair take root. I can't let her convince me that the effort isn't worth it. I'll do what I promised. I will make this place yield to me, and I will not dishonor myself, dishonor her sacrifice, in so doing. I will rip that priceless gift from the monster's putrid grasp by all the power in my blood.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2023, 03:33:34 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2023, 07:03:39 AM »
Twenty Sixth of Eleint, 1380

She can barely get around now. Always with that cane, like an old woman, but without the fatigue that comes with age. There's hardly any strength left to her but what she and I can grant her temporarily through our gifts. It pains me greatly to witness but it is useful. I do not lack for motivation.

The tiefling decided to speak with me, get my measure. Had me visit her at Novak's and mentioned a gift she'd given my lady. A dragonshard, whatever that might be, embedded in armor. Asked a lot of questions about the research. I was more or less forthcoming, even when the conversation turned philosophical. Perhaps she felt I'd reveal some monstrous inner nature in a more private setting or perhaps she merely wanted to see how I'd react to having my morals questioned directly. In this case honesty served me well, I hope.

"Everyone has the potential to be better than they are."

That doesn't only apply to Somnia Venenum. Though, only the willing can truly change. Only the repentant can be redeemed. I told Crespin as much. The fool and the brute can handle themselves. We've no obligation to them so long as they remain utterly depraved, but to go further and strike at them may expose ourselves. I have shared the keep's location with as many trustworthy interested parties as I could - not to mention the disaster with the von Khorvich. Until that cell is obliterated we cannot risk appearing like turncoats for fear they will come for us. Crespin thinks they're coming for us anyway but I fear his paranoia will make that self-fulfilling.

Hargreaves - lawyer. "Unannounced long absence" from the University. Keep in mind for future legal appeals. Alain was useless.

Today Port-a-Lucine celebrated White Day, and the occasion was marked with a costume ball in the hotel basement. I had to attend alone with my lady not feeling up to it. I'd spent some time preparing my costume, my alias a joke for myself. People here haven't heard of Amn - save that Cormyran on the terraces today! - they're never going to have heard the name Selemchant. I based her partially on the Nightmaster, but the idea was in my head before this tenday's catastrophe. What does it say about me to pantomime one of these monsters, even in jest? Hopefully nothing. I used bleached shells for the teeth and I think the effect was convincing. I didn't enter the costume contest out of the certainty that I'd not get any votes. The organizer seemed to have snubbed the musical performers, and for being a ball centered around a holiday recognizing romance there was remarkably little of that between the legerdemain and the over-long contest. Everyone still seemed to enjoy themselves. Everyone had a touch for theatric overacting and play threats were lobbed back and forth all night between the heroes and villains.

I danced but twice, and the first time I had to lead. Disappointing after all the buildup in weeks prior but it is the price for what we've been tarred with.

I had to force myself not to seek comfort elsewhere. I stood at the precipice, lifted a foot over the edge, tempting fate. I withdrew. The sin was committed in the heart, though, and the guilt gnaws at me regardless. I feel I sullied myself and the little I allowed myself to taste just made me pine for more. I've hurt myself with this greed before, this rapacious need to have everything, and I'm angry with myself for it. I have more than I deserve and I risk it every time I reach for everything I want.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2023, 09:55:01 AM by apeppertoo »
Mariah Parsons

apeppertoo

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Re: Mariah Parsons -- Good Business
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2023, 07:43:24 AM »
This entry is undated, a folded loose sheet.

Quote
Ancestor,

I've only ever thought of you in the abstract. A long-distant explanation for why I am what I am. Why Grandfather was what he was. I never met him either. From what I remember I gathered Father was bitter about your gift passing him by, even if he had many other admirable qualities. I think Grandfather would have been proud of him anyway. He must have been, it was his seed money that started our merchant house. Perhaps he was relieved his son would not, could not, choose such a dangerous path as he did. I think Father understood that even if it wounded his pride.

I don't know how many generations it's been that your blood has been in our family. Long enough that I'm not aware of any manifesting your qualities physically, though the blood seems strong as ever. From the stories I think you'd have approved of how Grandfather used it. Up and down the Sword Coast, righting wrongs and saving innocents. Stopping only long enough to rest and refresh, then back into the fray. Rather unlike me, I'm positively sedentary by comparison.

I can only hope you'd approve of my ways, still. Even if I am nudging the gift toward aggression it is so that I can be safe. So that I can protect others. So that I can meet the denizens of this plane, this hollow, with your full might as manifested in me. Those clergy who come here admit to a great loss, a ghastly silence when they try to commune with their gods, even if their powers still manifest. I am fortunate to carry the light of the Seven Heavens with me, though you are no god. So I write instead of pray, hoping that maybe one day you'll hear of it or perhaps so that I can remember and tell you myself when my time has come.

I will continue to use your gift to a righteous purpose, Ancestor. Think well of me until we meet.
Mariah Parsons