Seeking Evidence - Part 1 (Graded)

Atop a stony plateau overlooking the lands of central Idalos, and growing wealthy from the gem stones pulled from the rocky soil, Etzos is a bastion of independence; firm in its belief that man should rule Idalos, not be servants of the vain Immortals who nearly destroyed it. But can the many factions set aside their conflicting agendas and see this through?

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Seeking Evidence - Part 1 (Graded)

Wed Mar 11, 2020 8:24 pm



3rd of Cylus 720

As tended to be the case with these kinds of buildings, the safehouse before him did not look like much. Just a normal house in a row of many. Not particularly tall, not particularly wide. Simple and functional, like most were in the Outer Perimeter –or Oh’Pee, as the native Perimeter residents liked to call it. As opposed to the Comm’see –the Commercial Circle, where houses often were grander and more lavish. It’s where the wealthier families lived. Merchants and their ilk. Architects, businessmen,… Fancy folk with fancy jobs.

Oh, there were safehouses among those too, of course. Anything could be one. The Spinners could be anywhere. Generally, one den didn’t know about another, making locating them very difficult. That was the entire point of the different cells of Webspinners and their own headquarters. If one was compromised, the others still weren’t.

This particular one had a carpenters’ atelier as a front. Likely, it took up the entirety of the first floor, and was an actual shop. In fact, Oberan had seen craftsmen enter and man the store. He’d witnessed them chisel wood and shape it into basic and cheap, though sturdy furniture. Clients came in every so often, putting in an order, or asking to do a repair. A leg that’d splintered, a cupboard door that didn’t close anymore. That sort of thing.

If it hadn’t been pointed out to him as a location of interest, and if he hadn’t seen too many different people enter and leave from the back door, Oberan would have walked right past.

One or two such occurrences didn’t make for a suspicious act, but consistency… Not to mention that it sometimes took a long time before specific people left again. Too much time spent to be a friend or family visiting.

Naturally, after being confident this was indeed a Webspinner’s hideout, the thief stalked over to the back door. Unseen, unheard. A quick glance to the left and right, but no-one was around. He manifested a glass into his palm and used it to listen at the door. Oberan detected no movement, no ruffling of clothes, no breathing that might indicate the presence of a guard.

Satisfied, the Mortalborn made the glass vanish. In its stead appeared a set of lockpicking tools, which he inserted in the lock. Using his Mortalborn powers would be faster, but he also had no control over the opening of the door. It would swing open without being particularly stealthy. In Plain Sight hid him from prying eyes, but he’d rather not stir up the hornets within the nest before having even entered.

Picking the lock manually took a while longer, but fiddling with the thin metal rods to trick the mechanism provided more enjoyment than the quick and hasty use of powers. Pride too. This was an artform, after all.

He played with the pins and the plug. Pressing, leveraging and coaxing them into their little holes, while applying appropriate torque with the tension wrench. To his ears, the metallic clicking of tool against tool, the creaking of coiled springs and the clacking of the locking mechanism were clearly audible. A song that both calmed and pressured him, praising his efforts and alarming its masters. In reality, the sounds were more felt than heard, barely noticeable if one wasn’t paying attention to them.

Tongue peeking out from between his lips, Oberan lifted the last pin. Under the continuous torque, the lock rolled sideways immediately, no longer held in place. The pick vanished, the wrench continued its role as key, slowly and steadily rotating to retract the deadbolt. A final click, too loud for his liking, but no reaction came from inside.

He waited a few moments, then quietly pushed the door open, focused on both the environment and the hinges. Fortunately, they were well oiled and maintained, not grinding noisily when used. Once more the Mortalborn surveilled his surroundings with a quick glance, then he stepped inside.

Though he didn’t know the layout of the house itself, Oberan knew the whole group of Webspinners couldn’t fit on the first floor. Perhaps if the ground level hadn’t been reserved for the woodworking atelier, the house itself could be used as a hideout. Just like the ground floor, the first floor was a front. A pretense of a family living above a carpenters’. There’d been other locations with a similar trick.

Instead of going up the stairs, the Mortalborn searched for a basement of sorts. He found no way down, however. No trap door. No doorway obscured by an illusion like the one he’d encountered underneath Rhakros. Every part of the walls was solid. It had Oberan stumped for a while. The space here wasn’t exactly large. As expected, the atelier took up most of the ground floor, leaving only room for a small hallway and a set of stairs.

Considering the architecture of the building and the neighboring houses, a stairway leading down could only be situated behind a trap door in the floor, or underneath the stairs to the first floor. A hidden space in the walls existing did cross his mind, but none of those were thick enough to allow such a thing.

He examined the floorboards first. Listening intently as he carefully walked the length of the tiny hallway, hoping to detect signs of a hollow space beneath his feet. No luck. Next up were the stairs. One ear pressed against a wooden tread somewhere in the middle, he softly knocked. An echo resounded. Hollow. Yet the area underneath was seemed to be plain wall where other residences might have a storage cupboard. Not a door to be seen. He ran his fingers over the spandrel again, paying closer attention than he had before. Indeed, it was solid, but he noticed something he’d missed. Something he couldn’t see, but could feel. It felt like an invisible or well-camouflaged crack, only too straight and even to be unintentional. Another of those was found a foot or so to the side.

Of course. There it was.

Oberan didn’t see a mechanism to open it though. Perhaps there was a button or trigger somewhere. With time and patience, he could certainly find it. However, the Mortalborn had never been one for patience. Manifesting a key, he activated one of his powers, and the hidden door swung open silently. Not even a sigh. Expectedly, no-one wanted their hidden doors to open and close noisily.

Inside he found a rough stone staircase leading down into the dark. No-one to guard it, though even if there had been it wouldn’t have mattered. He began the descent, taking a moment to close the door silently. With not a strip of light remaining, the thief considered using the Daylight stone to illuminate his path. Ultimately he decided against it, letting his eyes adapt to the darkness instead.

Soon enough an orange glow came into sight, flickering a little. It originated from a lantern hanging from the side of –what he figured was—the main tunnel. The rock and stone around it were oddly straight, unlike the often winding paths in caves. Yet, the walls retained the rough quality of being shaped by nature. Magic perhaps?

Many doors were embedded in the walls, each leading to either another tunnel or a larger chamber. Sometimes people exited one and entered another, Oberan slipping inside alongside them if he was close enough. There were sleeping quarters with numerous beds, rather spartan. Only a few Spinners were present in that room. Another door lead to a common room of sorts, where several members were taking a load off. Many conversations mingled, and the scent of tea and coffee permeated the air.

Oberan eavesdropped for a while, but apart from the use of codenames, nothing interesting was discussed. As far as he could tell, the Spinners were mostly making small talk, not speaking about future plans of Sintra or the organization as a whole. He stayed a while longer, just in case, but nothing important came up.

He explored more of the hallway, finding locked doors that guarded private quarters belonging to high-ranking members of the branch. Chances of finding sensitive information in there seemed doubtful, but he still felt the need to investigate. Rather than picking the lock, he settled for spying through the keyhole. As expected these were bedchambers. Places for important members to relax. Not places where he’d find useful information. He returned to following Spinners around, trying to find someone of a higher rank than those he’d come across.

Eventually, after some time drifting aimlessly from chamber to chamber, Oberan found himself in a different hallway. Here the offices were located, along with an archive. As far as he knew, the Spinners only really stored information gathered on people and places of interest in their archives. Correspondence of their targets, files compiled through careful observation. Not the missives and orders and mission details their received themselves. If not destroyed after reading, those’d be kept in the office of the branch.

Most doors in the hallway were separated by equal amounts of rough stone, except for a few. Two of those weren’t locked; one was the aforementioned archive, the other a communal office. All other doors likely were private offices of the higher-ranked Spinners, with the biggest room belonging to the head of this branch. Oberan singled out the latter.

Obscuring his hands and motions with his body, he began picking the lock. In Plain Sight kept him overlooked and ignored even while crouched, as long as no-one saw what he was doing. Suspicious actions drew attention, but his mere presence didn’t. The lock clicked and the door opened. Behind it was a meticulously organized office. Closets had file folders neatly tucked away. Papers were stacked in neat little piles. Writing utensils were hidden in a drawer, each having their own compartment.

He closed the door and began rifling through the papers. Reading them proved rather difficult, however. Shaking his head, he brought an item out of his Vault to help; the Daylight stone, which provided illumination. Covered by a rag, the thief kept the light from spilling too far and betraying him. Now able to actually see what he was doing, Oberan continued his investigation.

Continued

word count: 1759
Just because I shouldn't doesn't mean I won't.


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Re: Seeking Evidence - Part 1

Thu Apr 16, 2020 6:36 am

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Oberan

Experience: 10 no magic

Knowledge:

-Intelligence: everything can be a safehouse
-Intelligence: using a glass to listen through walls
-Lockpicking: satisfying to do manually
-Lockpicking: listening to the sounds of the lock
-Investigation: searching for hollow spaces underneath the floorboards
-Investigation: running your fingers over a surface to feel for hidden clues

Renown: He wasn't noticed.

Skill Usage: Stealth was appropriate to level, but I'm unsure how Oberan came by the information leading to the Webspinner lair. You'd think it'd take a bit of a better intelligence/investigation skill to suss out. Overplay consequences below.

Loot/Losses: none

Injuries/Conditions: none

Consequences: Overpklay consequences: Meh didn't realize you were so far ahead, so in the interest of not intefering, I'll let Malt handle this :P

Comments: Although I feel you slightly overplayed your intelligence/investigation skills, this was a fun and suspenseful thread. I like Oberan's approach to stealth, and how he's not entirely invulnerable/invisible unless he's just standing there. The thought of Webspinners merely ignoring him in plain sight is comical in a good way. The Capstone was well played.

Looking forward to more in this series.

If you have any concerns about this review, please PM me about them.
word count: 218
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