Cauder's Cauldron, a Maiayan Pub
From a Common Room in Maiaya
A tavern owned by Cauder Dubarr, a Rémullasinian elf.
Several small groups of elven occupants sit among the tables, along with two hooded, but human-looking members as well.
Having led Therian
, Tal Anduril
and another member in as drow generals (though Torrant found himself as a tan-skinned high elven), karma looks around the pub, and finds himself at ease with its members.
It's good to know that elven habits are longer-lasting than human habits... So many regulars here, and it's been YEARS... The Anti-Cause must be stronger since her death...
he thinks to himself.
"Cauder Dubarr, is he still here?" he asks aloud as he enters. It appears that the elf who had led them to the room is nowhere in sight.
One of the bartenders stand, and asks, "The brother of Pepshire, right?"
"Yes, I would like him to write down some information for me before we get our drinks," Karma answers.
"I'll get him, and Derevore will get your drinks," the first elf replies, and another elf with orange eyes and dark tan, tattooed skin steps forward, apparently the so-called Derevore.
The first bartender walks into a back room.
"Refreshments? Cauder say's you were on the house tonight," the young-seeming elf asks politely.
Karma looks to the rest of the group in courtesy.
Therian-drow shakes her head. Nothing for her.
Torrant looks at the lead drow in a similarly reluctant fashion.
This is beginning to become irritating...
"What, have we lost our polite vigor? The least you can do is order a damned drink, since by law, it can be taken right out with you if you very well please... So why don't the four of you all pipe up about what floats your bloody boat, right then?" Karma taunts in his typically I'm-irritated-and-taking-it-out-through-cynicism kind of way.
"I doubt they'd have what I would like," Torrant musters.
"And what's that?" Derevore challenges him. "I would bet three hundred credits that we have whatever you please."
"I doubt it. And I don't gamble," Torrant answers with a slight pause. "But if you indeed have fine, well-aged - and I don't mean a decade or so - minotaur wine, then this would be the finest establishment I have entered to date, and that is unlikely."
"Likeliness means nothing to elves, my friend," the man smiles as he turns to open a thin pantry door into a wine closet, and pulls an old, vintage minotaur wine bottle, complete with wax seal and stamp, out of its steaming entryway.
"That's the beauty of free trade. We get things from everywhere you can imagine here, including fine wine."
"I'll consider myself shocked from irony," the tattered elf says coldly while slowly reaching for the bottle.
Without much hesitation, the elf cracks the seal and begins tugging at the cork.
"I can handle that," Torrant says, relieving the bottle from the younger elf with no further politeness. He tears quickly at the cork with his teeth, and it pops out effortlessly. Spitting the cork to the side, some heads are turned as he takes a deep swallow of the wine.
"Damn," is all he emits.
"I want whatever he just got," Pep-drow speaks up.
"No, nothing. He gets nothing. Everyone but him, he gets nothing. It would be a waste," karma-drow says quite emphatically, pointing at the drow.
"No joke. I will have a top-spinner, no ice. Seriously, do not give him anything."
Chuckling, the elf agrees, to the disappointment of the body double.
"Therian, Tal, please, enjoy this hospitality. It is the only one worth enjoying on this world. Get a damned drink," he pleads.
Tal seems confused as to why getting a drink of any sort would be important... this place has odd customs. After pondering a bit, he finally gives up and quietly asks Therian what they normally get at the New Moon Inn. I usually just sit down and someone brings me a drink, never had a name other than "the usual."
Seeing the lost look on the impervious drow's face, and noticing the apathetic and distant stare of the other, the elven Derevore smiles lucidly.
"I know what to get for you... My treat. I had to bargain a good trade with the Faunar to get this, and it's whole-heartedly worthwhile," he claims, opening the lower pantry doors to lift out a fat little brown bottle with a sheaf and a thick, uniquely non-elven cork and top-piece, which emerges like ice from the steaming box. He closes the doors as the last of the whisps of cool steam fade away, and he cuts the seal around the cork with a small well-crafted pocket knife, loosening it and pulling it up in one motion. Its low, resonant pop sounds like a huge bubble bursting as the top is lifted out, sucking in a quick gush of air.
The elf pours two glasses, only half-full, with Tal's glass a bit more full than the other, and slides them to the patrons, whom he eyes curiously, yet with a polite mindedness he portrays theatrically.
"Gyaucho, a Faunar liqueur. My treat."
He then backs away, and begins to make Karma's drink.
"The rebellion, it goes well?" he asks aloud to break silence, which only makes more for a moment.
The elf closes his eyes, lowering his head only momentarily, and says aloud, "There have been some troubles, and the system is failing under Dysphasia's new Heirocratic Orderly Updates, as they're now calling them. And the Empress..." he begins, but cannot finish.
"I heard. What happened?" Karma interrupts, which lifts the weight which had sucked out the air.
"No one knows. It is shrouded in mystery. Everyone but the Heirocracy suspects foul play, but none will challenge the evidence. There is a veil of mystery and deception that has invaded the lands these many years, and it is everywhere. None have escaped it, and it now fills the minds of every non-elf with the Sleep... It is like a plague of mindlessness, a sacrilege against the gods...." Derevore goes on to explain, but because his words only incite more questions, he stops, knowing that the assassin would need to take it in as it was asked. He mixes another liquor into the layered drink for the man.
"Is there still safehouses and Medics who can cure the Sleep?" he asks the elf, who touches the drink off with its final liquor and a long, spear-like leaf garnish.
The elf brings the drink over.
"Yes, but there are fears over how long it will go on. Already the Lauthenasians have funded huge world-wide projects underlying many non-Heirocratic lands and nations... There are lines being drawn everywhere, and many of them include the unwilling. A war lies at its end, I am sure. The desert Kiin speak of uprising, and soon. They will surely fail, but they are afraid of dying unhonourably. We all are," he admits gravely.
"I fight for slaves" K says, like a pact with the gods.
"As do brothers," Derevore answers, apparently a brotherhood quote that had been spoken many times before. The tavern worker and the assassin are seemingly closer than first inspection.
Cauder Dubarr, the elf who had first ushered them into the hallway toward the relative safety of the small compartmental room they had gone to, now walks out into the inn, with the first elf who had spoke with them walks behind the other elf. Derevore looks bravely into the assassin's eyes as he walks slowly away, allowing Cauder the space to sit beside them, bearing a hard-backed pad of strange parchment in his hand, and a small pen-like instrument in his other.
Derevore silently prepares him his drink, and hands it over as Cauder scribbles some notes onto the top page, mumbling a few thoughts to himself as he scrawls on the pad.
Tal half-heartedly listened to the conversation, mentally making notes of names and places, just having no idea where anything fits in yet. He eyed the drink for some time, before venturing a swallow, it tasted similar to what he'd had back home; something was just a tad different though.
Therian sips at the drink, too distracted to complain. Really, when she bitches about something tasting "like hell," it's just to get under someone's skin. She has virtually no sense of taste. "What's this 'sleep' thing?" she inquires quietly of K when he gets a moment aside. she can be quite ...polite... when it means more potential information.
Eyeing Therian's drink, Tal pondering the best time to slip some dye in that will turn her tongue bright blue... and likely make her ill for the next few hours.
"It's not like normal sleep," K responds with a complete lack of joy.
"You can walk and talk and act and smoke and fuck for hours if you want.... But you're not really there up top. You don't act like you would if you were normal. It's like watching someone dream while they are awake. They are lost in some sort of mindless day-walking, an enchantment that cannot be broken by counter-magic. It is called the Sleep because if they called it Mind-death, not so many elves would think it was helpful."
"We think we know what is causing it, and we suspect the foulest of plays," Cauder speaks up, not yet looking up while he finishes his writing on the transparent parchment sheet.
When he is finished with his note, he takes a sip of his drink and looks up.
"Derevore, go get the box." At his comment, the elf goes to another room to acquire the item in question.
"We now have a sample of the item used in creating the Sleep. It is like no magic or technology we have encountered to date, and the Rebellion ha syet to figure out its methods or a counter-measure to stop its effect. At best, our greatest healers have brought some back to a semi-controlled state, but our successes have been limited, because of Heirocratic awareness of such projects. The Sleep is a major priority for the Freedom Fighters, and the Heirocracy is doing everything it can to stifle knowledge about the methods and motives behind the Sleep. For now, it remains the single-most effective way to curb the angers, reluctance and individuality of slaves and non-Elves."
Derevore returns to the bar's backside, holding a small brown and black box, and lifting the lid, exposes the contents inside to Karma.
Reaching inside, he pulls out three small metal and silicate rectangular tabs, one of them falling from his fingertips because it was so small.
"What are these?" K asks openly.
"We are still unsure, but when they are removed, the individual dies instantaneously. We have had many half-awakened Sleepers ask for them to be removed, despite the risks involved, and most of these fighters will not go on another day without it being removed... Stranger still, the chips are placed inside the flesh of the skull, just above the right ear in every case," Cauder explains.
"Chips?" K repeats.
"We think they may be technology that we are unaware of as yet. We are unsure of their methods, since there are no obvious mechanics or clockwork, magical sigils or attributes, nor any form of communication device. They are simply aluminum-silicate chips with inlaid metal wires. Not even enough to conduct an electric current, because of their insulation in its sides. It is a completely baffling piece of machinery, if that is even what it is."
Cauder looks onward in a sad manner at the small metal tabs in Karma's fingertips.
A good half of the converstation is lost to Tal, as technology except in it's most basic forms are totally alien to him. He's having a hard time understanding the terminology, but he does grasp that they're dealing with something that doesn't seem to be easily mended with spells alone. Waryily he eyes the objects, still not certain there isn't some curse attached to them that causing this "sleep."
Therian had frowned at the "sleep" description...hits too close to home. It's essentially the goal for training slaves properly...though in that case, it involves a lot less alien magic and a whole hell of a lot more torture. If Vayen could have induced something like that, well... "Well, shit. Who controls these zombies of yours?"
Seeing the reluctance on Tal's face, Karma sticks the chips quickly up into Tal's face and asks him in a darting fashion, "You want one?"
He chuckles, lowering it.
Cauder sighs at K.
Looking over at Therian, he answers her directly.
"We have no knowledge of any true Control, since there are no apparent means of communications, spells, or anything else that would tell us of the source. The most important figures in the Rebellion believe that there is in fact no control whatsoever, only a type of initiated Mind-affecting sedation that is still curious and terrifying."
Cauder gives a strange look to the fully-robed figure, since her face stares off in an odd direction for just long enough to notice.
"How are the drinks?" he asks, leaning back into his normal posture.
K takes a sip, realizing he had not tried it.
"Wonderful and exact. Thank you kindly, Derevore."
Tal visibly recoils as Karma lunges at him. Once's he certain that he's not actually going to do anything with the device he begins to mumble mild curses and trys to regain his composure, as he circles towards Therian. "This is your fault," he seethes, as the distance closes; not really caring if the others hear. (occ: but they'd have to have been listening in to catch it) Part of him wonders if the Gods of his home would be inclined to listen should he preform the rites. It's only as an after thought that he pauses to ponder if they hold any sway in this world.
"That's for dragging me to hell with you," Therian mutters at him in return. Since Cauder's picked up on some hint of something being wrong with her, the rest should fall together easily enough...her hands are almost always under her cloaks at rest, but active when she's moving, setting on this or that. She's unusually dependent on things tactile. She nudges a short stool forward quietly with her foot, half-hoping that the menacing half-demon will trip on it. She doesn't think so, but it's worth a shot.
Derevore smiles at Karma's answer and goes to serve the other patrons of the pub, who apparently are either involved in whatever rebellion exists here, or are so apathetic or oblivious to the dynamic and seemingly taboo conversations happening at this end of the bar as to be completely uncaring of the seemingly dire situations being presented openly in the building. It is because of this that it seems that this place must be some sort of safe-house or incognito guild or group that Cauder is a proponent of.
Why can't these three just calm down and stop being so damn quiet about every god-damned thing...? Karma puzzles, and nearly steams with resentment. He was used to working with more cooperative inidividuals who understood situations like these... He did not realize that his decision to invite as few members as possible, and do an inside job with a close-knit group like this would invite as many problems as it had.
Torrant sips the wine thoughtfully, taking it all in. In his opinion, let the damned humans stay asleep... probably better for them. Then again, he was resentful and becoming ever more impatient with the idle chit-chat happening here. When were they going to go do this damn mission already?
Cauder gives Therian one final look of wonderment, and asks aloud, "How about yours? I noticed you haven't hardly touched yours...?"
He extends a hand to the cloaked figure without fear or hesitation.
"I don't believe any of us have formally met. I'm Cauder Dubarr, from Rémullasin, here on Dysphasia... I lead a faction of the... modest, eh, movement, I guess, here in the city, and run this tavern, which is both a pub and hostel, as well as a safe-house for slaves, runaways, and rebels. I am not sure of how much you know about this world, but slavery is a rather lucrative business these days, and tis my objective to rid it or my home world. I am, shall you say, a pureborn.... And I have no inclination to see such a foul and unrighteous process take place in my land, regardless of how many times the Heirocracy claims that the Sleep is a gift from the Elven Gods."
"It's fine." It takes her a bit to pick up on the hand...had heard the arm rustle and move up, but then sit still, and she gets the picture after a few long seconds. Gloved hand comes up to meet his, is off a little height-wise, but corrects almost too fast to have picked up on that when two of her fingertips just barely graze his skin. "Therian. Professional slave."
Cauder does not take the answer lightly.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, though I assure you that you are no such creature while in this building. Everyone here is equal..." he begins, as though he is going to go on once more, but he is stopped by Torrant's surprisingly loud chuckle at this last phrase.
"Equal! Heh, I'd love to know what that means..." he muses as he sips the fine minotaur wine.
Turning back to Therian almost aghast, he finishes, "You will deserve no such disrespect from me while you are here, I assure you. All are my brethren."
Torrant merely continues to chuckle lightly, as if bemused by some unspoken hypocrisy, or an irony that only he understands.
Tal honestly didn't find anything wrong with slaves... as long as he was considered one of the masters. But seeing as he was not likely to get a whole lot of support in this pub, he kept that particular thought to himself. He eyes the exits, wondering if there was more fun to be had elsewhere.
Cauder makes a face and peers once more at Torrant the elf, wondering if he was more of a threat than Karma believed him to be a resource.
"Any word from Kether or Nadaath?" Karma asks aloud to Cauder, hoping to take his attention away from the old bastard minotaur.
Cauder turns around with a deep gaze, pausing only long enough to inhale, then reply, "They were both killed in a recent tribal raid, seven years ago in the Bimullni Deserts. The Children of Eloa have been regathering their wits about them, and some suspect foul play in the events leading to their deaths... as can be expected."
"Damn," is K's only reponse.
Pepshire stands up, making sure he is in drow form, and says, "You guys are redundant. I'm outta here. Find me down in the 'burbs when you're ready to start doing shit."
Karma watches the double walk towards the front entrance, a series of two sealed chambers between three doorways of enchanted silicate material that was the standard of most inner city architecture, alongside elven evolutions.
"And damn those enchanters. I knew he'd be too much like me," is his comment to the action. He takes a long sip of his drink, a yellow-brown mix of liqueors with a liberal amount of solid chunks of ice.
Torrant peers up towards K, "I agree, you do seem to be stalling for some reason." Looking towards Cauder he continues, "If the entire organization is as slow as this man, than I can see why you humans are still enslaved." chuckling to himself Torrant takes another drink continuing, "Your body double as you call him seems more prone to action than you, or any of your other friends." Surveying the odd group of comrades. "All I have seen any you do is act tough, and make empty threats. I might have an easier time on my own. At least I would have a clear picture of when things might get accomplished." pausing for a moment Torrant mutters to himself, "Fi yulno I daneeb torb kabthew retho srotonem." finaly drinking the last bit from the bottle.
K simply finishes his drink, unsure of what language he had lust heard spoken, though he was sure by the tone that it was insinuatory of ill remark.
"Thank you, Cauder. See you at the equinox," K gestures as he waves the conversation fulfilled.
Cauder glares in contempt at the individual who spoke earlier, wiping one of the glasses clean, and putting it on a rack of shining glassware, then leaves the bar area in silence.
K inhales slowly, sure that he has lost his patience with the newcomer, let alone his past decisions for a crew.