Ms0 8

E.MCG SALVAGE CORPORATION HEADQUARTERS, JUST OFF THE DOCKS IN LEVIATHAN.

An old warehouse. The floor is littered with piles upon piles of rusted, broken metal and odd wood shapes. The remains of many a sunken ship and their contents. A few men are inside with wielding torches, cutting the larger parts of metal hull into smaller, more manageable pieces. At the far end of the warehouse is single, small room, with the words "ACCOUNTING OFFICE" written in front of it.
Inside: a single desk, with a mountain of paperwork covering most of it. An empty pot of coffee takes up what's left of it, along with a few spare nails and screws. The driftin woman sitting behind the desk glances over it at the dantali woman, looking bored.
"And you're sure that this is something we really needed…?"

Elbereth tightens the last screw on the chair she had been assembling before standing up. She nods. "We did not have suitable furniture for Echo-Thirty-Six. At least one larger chair means we can accommodate our guests."

"I mean… I can't imagine it's really goin' to matter long term…" Elizabeth mumbles in response.

"What if some of them want to stay on your crew after, though?"

"Then they probably wouldn't be sittin' in this room ta begin with…?"

Elbereth pauses before nodding. "I suppose you bring up a good point, my lady."

"Well whatever, it's already here."

Three solid knocks happen on the door.
Elbereth makes her way to the door. "Ah. It seems our next guest has arrived." She opens the door before greeting the man.
"We've been expecting you. Please take a seat." There's two chairs on the end of the table, one matching the others and one much larger one that seems horribly out of place for the room. She watches the guest intently.

Hayreddin stands, arms crossed across his chest, hands within sleeves of a long flowing white and green robe, accented with gold. He smells slightly of cinnamon and an unfamiliar, ticklish spice. Pearly white teeth grin in the center of his dark, tanned smile. A staff is slung across his back.
"Hello, hello!" he says, shifting slightly to get through the door. Tall and broad shouldered, though not nearly as big as some of the hulking Hundred.

"Man I don't think there's been a single person that turned out without their weapon on 'em. … Guess it shows they're prepare for potential dangers…?" Elizabeth wonders to herself.

"Thank you for allowing me your boss' chair!" Hayreddin grins as he sits down in it, straight-backed.

Elbereth gives a pointed gaze to Elizabeth before grinning.

"Uh. Yeah, no problem." Elizabeth responds.

"I am Hayreddin, a traveller from the far away kingdom of Ul'Sala. Pleased to make your acquaintance!" His voice intones deep, and he puts his hands on his knees, bowing slightly.

Lady Elizabeth nods in return, giving a glance between Hayreddin and Elbereth. "Ul'Sala?"

"And what brings you all the way to our sweet home, Leviathan?" Elbereth inquires.
"You've come quite a ways."

"One day, a young scholar washed ashore near the capital of Ul'Sala- Motrya. When he revived, he told a story of how his homeland, and subsequently his ship, were besieged by an invading Empire."

Elbereth makes her way over to a trolley in the corner of the room as the guest tells his story.

"As a Man of The West Crescent, I bade King Suluman to allow me to depart, so that I may investigate the youth's tale."
"It has been a long, winding journey indeed! Would that I kept better notes, as the lands to the east are filled with wonders not recorded!" Heyreddin laughs, and it echoes off the walls of the room.
"But to the Empire- I would see myself the reach of Red-and-Black Empress, to gauge their strength."
"And before long," his tone turns somber, "-I did not think this journey to end."
"This port city- Leviathan? The Empire lacks a stronghold here, but for how long?"
"But that is only one of the reasons I am here."

Elbereth makes her way back to the table, placing a bowl of grapes in front of Hayreddin. "The Empire has expanded their influence over time, but their activities have only heightened since the Red-And-Black Empress rose to power. As a loyal vassal to a fallen kingdom from a century-past, I admire your dedication to gauge their strength for Ul'Sala. How does that saying go nowadays…? Information is power?"

Hayreddin nods. "Indeed. And another one- suqut najam lays mfajyana abdana ."
"It is something like… 'the fall of a star is not surprising.'"
"It is a statement of fate, and to understand its workings."

"All great things have an end, after all." Elbereth agrees.

"During my travels, I occasionally heard tales of…" Hayreddin's eyes shift slightly, if looking for the word.
"'Arcoliths.'"
"My actual knowledge of them is nothing, but then, so are many others. But what wonderous tales have been spun about them!"
"Riches and relics, magic and mohya , weapons and warmachines."
"But they uh… 'slumber,' as it is said. Until now. Until the one where it seems you are leading a group?" He looks at Elizabeth.

Elbereth glances at their guest. "Ale, Coffee or tea, Mister Hayreddin?"

"Ah-! Coffee, please! And in return for the gift-" Hayreddin produces three rolls of vellum from inside a sleeve, all wrapped around… something. He unwraps the top one, and it appears to be a confectionery largely made of nuts, held together by a hardened type of cheese.

"Oh my. I haven't seen one of these in almost ninety years. Elizabeth, please try one." Elbereth places a mug on the table before filling it with coffee.

Lady Elizabeth takes one and turns it around in her hand a few times. "Ah, yeah. That'd be me. Recently found a key that should lead into Filios - that's the name of the nearby arcolith." She then takes a bite.
It's a slightly sharp, nostalgic taste.

"Great as trail rations or as a savory appetizer!" Hayreddin grins.

Lady Elizabeth, nods, taking another bite. "S'not bad, yeah."

Elbereth glances at the wrap before jotting down some notes. Seems simple enough to make.

Hayreddin continues: "But back to fate- with the Imperials expanding, and then this arcolith opening up…"
"What would be a horrible fate to make?"

"Fate?" Elizabeth ponders.
"Well, I suppose they do tend to move into an area after an arcolith opens up, if nothin' else."

Hayreddin nods. "Would that I would witness the two converge now that I have the chance."

"History does tend to repeat itself. Mister Hayreddin are you currently aware of who occupies other known Arcoliths from your travels?" Elbereth asks.

Hayreddin shakes his head. "I do not."

"That'd be the imperials." Elizabeth answers for him.

Elbereth nods. "The one we are investigating is untapped, but the imperials have two under lock and key."

Hayreddin rumbles in understanding, his brow furrowing slightly.

Elizabeth continues: "It's probably a race against time to get in there before they turn up, now that word's spreadin' that we got a way in."
"And with the refugee ships turnin' up that were fleein' from the empire… they were probably headed here anyway."

"What are your plans for the spoils from within the ruins?" Hayreddin inquires.

Elizabeth taps at the desk. "Depends on what's inside… but I imagine by in large sell most of it off and keeps anything that might be useful. Put ourselves in a better position to negotiate with the empire when their flag ship sails up."

"You intend to fight for this city?"

Lady Elizabeth sighs, leaning back into her chair.
"Such as I can, at least."

Elbereth frowns. "The empire does not negotiate, Lady Mcgunnery. They would sooner rob you blind of your splendors found."

"To be honest, I'm not really sure there's much we can do if they decide they want to burn Leviathan to the ground." Elizabeth confesses,
"It's a small city. They've got a large navy."

"But you would fight anyway." Hayreddin says.

"…But there's gotta be something they want that they'd take, instead of killin' everyone."
"Figure, if we find that… we might have some leverage." Elizabeth gestures vaguely.

Elbereth's lips tighten. "With all due respect, my lady. As soon as you give away that leverage Leviathan will have served its purpose."
"I will not see you make the same mistakes as Tiqin."

"I know…" Elizabeth sighs in response.
"I'm a salvager, though, not a military officer. This is the only way I know how to approach problems."

Hayreddin smiles wide. "Well! Then it is even more important that I assist you upon this expedition."

"Who knows, maybe we're find some kind of high capacity death cannon or something in the acrolith?" Elizabeth adds, wistfully.

Elbereth bows her head. "We, residents of Leviathan humbly accept your assistance, mister Hayreddin. I hope that you enjoy your stay in our sweet city and the time of action never comes."

"If only the stars would not move," Hayreddin sadly remarks.

Lady Elizabeth nods to Hayreddin. "Of course. Y'seem no stranger to danger, either."

"Indeed! As a Man of the West Crescent- it is… likened somewhat to the concept of a 'knight,' I believe is the closest equal."

"Huh."

"In service of Ul'Sala's well-being and honor."

"This expedition is really attracting all sorts." Elizabeth remakes, after a moment.

"Such is to be expected when we are a central hub for refugees and travelers, my lady." Elbereth offers.
"You are the only native here on this expedition. As not even I count having washed ashore eighty years ago."

"Well sure." Elizabeth concedes, "But even then. Guy from the Bear tribe. Those dolls. That run away noble lady. And now a Knight from a country I've never even heard of!"
"Castin' a real wide net."

"Ul'Sala was well known in the Tiqin empire for its exported spices. It was too far however for me to meet any asides from merchants." Elbereth says.

"Aha."

Hayreddin gives Elbereth a surprised look. "That time has not weakened your mind shows you of considerable character." He turns to Elizabeth. "And even with your reservations- you too have steel."

"I am pleased to find you both of strong souls." Hayreddin bows slightly again.

"Steel is kinda what we mainly trade in, heh." Elizabeth returns the slight bow.

"I ask- how is recompense determined for the expeditioners?" Hayreddin asks.

Elizabeth answers: "The game plan for now is as such: we got supplies enough for a week. 'Bout two day's sail from here to there. So we'll spend three days pokin' around, gettin' a feel for the place, seein' what's worth taking and all that, then return to Leviathan and use that information to plan out what to do next. Can afford to pay ya 100G for the initial expedition, with room to negotiation a lower payout if ya find something in particular ya like and want ta keep there."

Hayreddin nods. "I see! Be not surprised if I allocate some of my stipend for relics or particular weaponry. I am skilled in many kinds."

"Duly noted."

"I am stocking the ship with Ssuseva, Salted Pork, Spice Biscuits and Echafa Oranges. We will also have rum, tea and coffee available along with any fish that we manage to catch on the trip. Since we will be splitting into groups at times, you will want to keep a small supply of travel rations as well." Elbereth adds.
"Meals and cleaning will be complimentary."

Elizabeth finishes, "Plannin' on headin' out in about a week, as well."

Hayreddin nods. "I will become well accustomed by the town by then, and will be sorry to depart, I bet."

"I would love to give you a tour of our lovely city, but sadly you are not the last visitor to this office tonight. I hope you enjoy yourself, mister Hayreddin." Elbereth curtsies.

Hayreddin stands up. "I will, madames…?"

"Ah right."
"Lady Elizabeth McGunnery." She leans forward, offering Hayreddin a hand.

Elbereth bows her head. "Elbereth. I am here to serve the needs of all of Leviathans residents and guests."

Hayreddin reaches out to give a firm shake. "A pleasure, Lady McGunnery!"
"Take care with the rest!" He turns, waves, and leaves, shutting the door behind him.


"He seemed nice." Elizabeth says, after he's left.

Elbereth nods. "Smells good too."

"…Where you smelling our guest, Beth…?"

"His scent is strong with exotic spices. Given how used you are to the sailors here, I am surprised it didn't stand out more to you."

"I don't really make a habit of leanin' in to sniff the cliental!"
"Most people consider that kinda weird!"

"Still, I am surprised. The empire has been expanding for many a year now, is Ul'Sala truly so isolated that they are only now hearing about the crisis?" Elbereth continues, more serious.

"In their defense,"
"I've literally never heard of Ul'Sala before now."
"Was it nearby your old home…?" Elizabeth asks.

"Closer than here, at least."

"I see.

Elbereth glances at the room before grinning. "I told you the chair was a good idea, though."

Lady Elizabeth responds in deadpan. "Yeah it was DEFINITELY worth spendin' all that money so that one wandering knight would be a lil more comfy."

"I have to ask though, my lady. Just how many people were you planning on recruiting if you're paying 100G a head?"

Lady Elizabeth shrugs. "Duno. I got funds enough to cover it though."
"Finding out what's inside of the acrolith's a lot more important than keeping a big spare emergency reserve."
"I figure most of 'em look like wanderers and mercenaries anyway, so they'll probably find something they wanna keep insteada gold anyhow."

"I've been meaning to ask about that, Lady Mcgunnery. I know why I wish to venture into the arcolith, but as a Leviathan native does the fact that you opening it up will bring the Imperials here not bother you?"

Lady Elizabeth puts a hand over her face as she leans far back into her chair and gives a sigh.
"It's just like I told that big guy. They're on the way here anyway. You remember I told you there'd been more than three ships inbound, right? And that a persuing imperial fleet sank at least one?"
"They were already comin' here. This is the only chance we got to get inside before they do."

Elbereth smiles. "So you agree then, that inaction could lead to us losing Leviathan?" It's fairly clear what direction she's steering this in now. "Yet you won't cave still…?"

"Cave…?"

"It's a bit unfair to expect me to sit back on something that is going to impact my home, is it not?"

"Oh my God you're already comin' what more do y'want ya damn witch!"

Elbereth smiles. "And I am forever grateful for the opportunity, Lady Mcgunnery."

"Our next applicant should be arriving in a bit. And as I said before, an exotic foreigner was in fact less outlandish than a talking set of dolls or a bear."

"He actually seemed similar ina lot of ways to Echo…"
"But yes."
"(Definitely more chatty though.)"

"He also did not require custom silverware." Elbereth says, amused.

Lady Elizabeth shakes her head.

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