The Black Dragon's Den

Locales found within the main city centers; primarily Inside, Riverside, and Skyside.
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Artemis
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The Black Dragon's Den

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At a juncture of the Slums and the Docks is a large converted warehouse space known as the Black Dragon's Den. It's been rebuilt a few times, the most recent construction making the exterior out of solid brick. Inside is a welcoming atmosphere, heavy with the scent of alcohol, pipe smoke, and a hint of freshly baked bread. Tables fill the main floor, mostly for eating and drinking, but some are felted for card games. There's a small stage against one wall, not taking up primo shady corner real estate, that's occasionally occupied by a raucous band, a brave lone musician, or some other performer. More often than not, that performer is the Den's owner, Raril Xar'Cha, a drow bard of renown in the Nexus. He keeps an office behind the fireplace on the first floor.

There's a large bar, staffed mostly by goblins, namely Blackeye, Hooktooth, and Daggernose. The kitchen in the back provides food, run by a goblin woman called Sicklewort. There the smell of baking bread is strongest, as a large oven was installed for making bread bowls for the soups and stews the tavern serves. Gnarl, the Orc, is bouncer.

The Specialty Drink Menu
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Various drinks of many kinds and qualities can also be purchased. Remember though: You get what you pay for.

Food Like the drinks, the food ranges in quality and price...
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Mushrooms Our mushrooms are well acclaimed for their taste and subtle poisons. If you have enemies, make sure they you didn't get something other than what you asked for...
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Drink Additives Buy them for your drink, or for someone else's drink... everything goes here.
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Other Drugs If it doesn't get you drunk, and it isn't a mushroom... we still sell it.
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On the first floor there's various back and side rooms meant for gaming, meetings, or just a space to enjoy a dose of something. The walls are thin, thin enough to be listened through or busted through. The second floor has more rooms, these are kitted out as bedrooms. Sparse, but clean. Rent for a night, or just an hour. We don't care what you do here, as long as you clean up after yourself.

The basement totally doesn't host a ring for knife fighting. Come early for a ringside seat. Gambling is encouraged. Anyone caught betting against themselves will be killed, or worse. So don't do it.

A tunnel from the sewers leads into the basement. Often guarded by the local were-rats.

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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Reinholdt walks in, having unsurprisingly arrived first. He'll take a seat at one of the more visible tables so that he might be seen when Ambrosia arrives. The treasure hunter orders some fresh garlic bread as a little appetizer, more for table dressing and paying for his seat than anything as he finds bread in general to be... just ok and has no idea Ambrosia's preferences aside from whole cow.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Ambrosia had known that Rein was fast but not that fast.
In fact, an assumption had been made that she'd be here first so she had to take a double take when she entered the tavern in her human body and spotted Rein sitting at one at the tables.
"How did you get here so fast?" She inquires with a puzzled as she sits down on the opposite of the table facing him.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Reinholdt shrugs a little, mildly bewildered by the question. "I just walked here." Clearly Ambrosia's detour just took too long, even for dragon flight.

The treasure hunter slides Ambrosia one of the many menus available. "No trouble picking up yourself I presume?" If there was, Ambrosia probably would have been much later.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"Well..." The scholar instinctively runs her hands through her black and purple hair, searching for traces dragon saliva she knew wouldn't be there anymore. "-yes. It's something I've gotten used to over the years even if it's still something of a bizarre experience."
Her hands come in contact with her horns. "But as you can see it has left traces. My essence is overwhelming this body and has been slowly changing it over time despite my best efforts."

She gestures to Rein. "Which is why I've been trying to figure out shapeshifting similar to yours. One of the main reasons I came to the nexus in fact. I hoped that one of the dragons I interviewed would hold the secret to able to change my guise at will."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"Ah, yes. You were going to explain this whole this body, that body thing." Ambrosia's clearly not just a shapeshifter, as she laments somewhat as she continues.

"Well my shapeshifting was 'given' to me by a witch, so all you need to do is cut a very questionable deal with a very questionable person." Reinholdt's used to doing those kind of things, but they still end up pretty bad in the end. "My understanding is that most dragons that can shapeshift into humans do so with years of knowledge and experience in the arcane arts and it's actually the knowledge of magic that allows them to do it. Nothing innate."

Rein shrugs and orders a mug of rum. "But every dragon's different, especially here, so take any such generalizations with a pound of salt."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"Yes, it's one of the first thing I learned coming here. Few of the categories I used before are all that useful here other than giving me a vague idea of what the person is talking about and not even that in some cases."

Ambrosia nods to Rein. "But you did it through a deal? Would appear it worked out on your end at least. Not that I can really be a judge of that." Maybe it worked out horribly and Rein was just covering up the pain. "Either way, my kind of dragon can be born as humanoids by certain humanoid people. In that case they know how to assume such a form as soon as they're born. Most humanoid women aren't equipped to deliver dragon babies after all so that's fortunate."

"But that its not the case for me of course. I'm supposed to be able to do it-" She gestures towards him. "-like you said, through 'arcane arts' or the closest thing to it where I'm from. Unfortunately, those 'arcane arts' have been lost with time so now I'm using the body of a dead woman."
Ambrosia grimaces. "If it makes things any better, it wasn't my idea and the poor girl had died of an accident. Her parents begging my adoptive father, the mastermind of this,-"
She gestures at herself. "-to bring her back. Which he couldn't of course but they were desperate and he just can't resist abusing that." The scholar let's out a small sigh. "I'm sure you have questions and I feel HALO deserves to know considering that I already told VIGIL."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"The price was too high," Reinholdt explains with an obviously forced smile. Sure things seem great to anyone who only sees one half of the transaction.

"I see." Reinholdt takes a drink from his rum as he considers Ambrosia's words. Dragon babies that take the place of humanoid babies and can shapeshift from there. That would make them some sort of parasitic or invasive species wouldn't it? It certainly explains wouldn't you don't see many young dragons. They're hiding out among the bipedals.

Reinholdt tries to give Ambrosia a reassuring smile. "You overestimate how much HALO needs to know compared to Vigil. They probably need to know a lot to avoid conflict of interests. But when Felandria took over HALO, I was promised to keep things as casual as possible." Rein shrugs a little, having to balance that casual with getting things done and staying relevant. "Don't mistake me though, I'm certainly interested. For instance, who is your father?"
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Ah.

Yes, she hadn't been able to judge that at all it seems.

She noted that Rein was quite proficient in covering it up which made her wonder what else he hid away in the darkest corners of his memories.
But it wasn't his past that they were here to discuss.

"First, I apologize for assuming too much. Should have realized that's how usually these deals go." Regardless if they were dealing with fey or not it was usually the one getting the gift that ended up giving up too much in exchange.
"But that policy makes sense. Given that HALO is supposed to be less military inclined than VIGIL. Usually more scholarly institutions don't demand you to tell them all about your personal life." She would have to see this Felandria at some point considering she was the leader of the organization, and a giant to boot, but she still hadn't seen her in person yet.

"But to actually answer your question I'm not going to mice words. He's a crime lord for the lack of a better term. Though he prefers 'information broker' as that's how he makes most of his money. Spying on nobles and government officials and selling their information to the highest bidder." Ambrosia makes a dismissive gesture, having explained this part at least a few times already.

"He also has an interest in the occult and is known for getting his hands on rare and sometimes extraordinary items. Like me for instance. That's why my adoptive family sought him out in the first place. Believing that he might have come across some magical artifact that could bring their daughter back to life." She pauses for a moment. "And in a way he had."
The scholar gestures to Rein again. "But while that seems like critical information for organization to have about its members, and perhaps even a good reason to reconsider their membership, the casual look you're giving me suggests that things like this are more commonplace in the nexus. I did for instance hear that at least one of your members is a god. Is that true?"
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

Post by Reinholdt »

"Information trade and blackmail. I'm familiar with it." Doesn't even have to be the crude form of blackmail either. Simple payments of cash is the least you can do with someone's secret. Well, it certainly helps explain why Ambrosia feels the need to be secretive about so much and cautious with who she trusts. Dads can do wonders for making lives miserable. Reinholdt really hopes to never do that to his own kids.

"I'm sorry to hear that though. Have you cut contact with him then? What happened to your father if I might ask?" If he comes knocking at HALO's shuttlebay for Ambrosia, that may be the kind of thing Rein would like to be aware of. If only to subtly misdirect him to the farthest corner of the Nexus instead.

Reinholdt considers for a minute and nods somewhat. "Yes, things like this are definitely more commonplace. As for a god, I believe it's actually demi-god. Felandria, our illustrious leader. She's working on ascending to full goddesshood through... well she seems a little lost on the details. She doesn't really know what she wants to be a goddess of, so she lacks a little focus. But she is driven to prove herself and get into the pantheon she was born from, so... I'm sure she'll get there one day."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"He's still around and kicking. Though I suppose I wouldn't call our relationship the best these days considering that he's been using me as a spy for the most of my life. Not to mention other ways he's used me to benefit his criminal organization." She shakes her head. "So I can at least guarantee that I'm not involved in that sort of activities anymore." She wasn't going to bring up the idea of her spying on HALO but she hoped what she had said was enough to dissuade of that notion.

"But, regarding Felandria, Dorota mentioned her while she was discussing her research into gods with me. I assume they've spoken on the matter then? Since if I understand you correctly her parents are gods then? I wasn't even aware they could produce children."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Reinholdt finds it hard to imagine Ambrosia's life as a spy given the general forward approach she prefers. But maybe that's what makes her so effective at being one. Well, so long as she guarantees those days are behind her. It's not like HALO has much to hide anyways, as far as Rein knows.

"I would presume so? But I wouldn't be able to speak for either of them whether they have or not." That's just not a conversation he's been a part of, though he may have at least directed Dorota in Felandria's direction. "But otherwise you are correct... ish. Her father is a god. I believe her mother is mortal. Though my experience tells me the exact opposite. Gods tend to have many children, I suspect, out of some sort of boredom with their own immortality."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"So it's a very different kind of gods than the one I'm used to then." Ambrosia shakes her head. "But these are questions for Felandria herself, not you."
She pauses a moment as to close that topic.
"But there was another thing I wanted to mention. When I was freed from that fey's control over me I got the chance to talk to a young woman whom I believe was your daughter? Blanche was her name and she seemed to command some authority in VIGIL since she was a part of my meeting with the commanders."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Reinholdt narrowly avoids a wince, but does twitch and rub the back of his neck. "Yeah... yeah, that's my daughter alright. She tell you who I was then?" Reinholdt allows himself a small smile.

"I guess she's been getting promotions too. Last I heard she was really into a large purple elf, so don't even think about kidnapping her, let alone dating her!" Ambrosia's been warned! Reinholdt's not going to let the dragon seduce his daughter in hopes of inheriting his fortune!
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"Not at the time but I learned of it later on. She seemed to be doing well."

Ambrosia smiles. "But don't worry, I don't date outside my species. She and all the other girls like her won't have to worry about my clumsy attempts at courtship."

She shakes her head as if trying to get rid of her own amusement like a wet dog. "But before we go too far into my dating expectations, I figured you might want some kind of idea of what I can do for HALO? I mean, in the terms of useful talents and such."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Reinholdt smiles a bit. "Good to hear. About the whole doing well thing. You may be missing out not dating outside your species." Rein softly laughs. "But then, I'm not exactly unbiased in that regards, given I just... don't have that choice." He can't fault Ambrosia for sticking to her own kind.

"I mean, I've already seen you knock a missile out of the air. That seems pretty useful. But sure- hit me up. What else can you do?" Reinholdt asks.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"Believe me, I know." Ambrosia comments on Rein's remark that she might be missing out. "Being the only dragon in my own world the dating prospects have been none so I understand where you're coming from when saying that you don't have a choice."

"But yes, I am obviously quite capable in a fight when I'm using my actual body. Though before I go into my actual capabilities I'd like to discuss the issue of secrecy. Since it will mean that I won't be able to use my 'dragon-self' as much as I want to." Ambrosia gestures to Rein. "Of course, that's one of the reasons I decided to join HALO. You're an organization where I don't have to feel guilty about not using my full ability for violence in every mission since that's not your focus. That being said, in my effort in making my human self capable as well I've discovered that I'm far stronger than humans are capable of being. Perhaps comparable to how Wenomir seems to be able to be much faster than other humans."

She pauses for a moment as to let that sink in.

"Then I'm still very much capable of 'feeling' spirits and similar creatures. Anything at least part sentient attuned to emotions and concepts as well as the sort of 'energies' that are connected to them. I believe that would be very much helpful in researching such creatures since I'd be capable of communicating with them on a level others can't."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Only dragon in her world? Might be why her father views her as a commodity. Wait. It'd be 'father' then, wouldn't it? But there are dragons in the Nexus and...

Maybe best not to dwell. "I mean, I wasn't expecting you to go around tail whipping things in the air left and right. Nor will I ask you to. Though my knowledge of Wenomir is limited to... older times. I'll just presume that means Strong." Reinholdt gives Ambrosia a knowing smile.

"Oh? Spirits, huh? That's good, I've had to reconsider our previous spirit experts. But then they didn't want to join HALO so the move from contractor to member is pretty natural. When it comes up, I'll certainly keep you in mind." Probably would have been good to send a ghost shark her direction. Though maybe not, since he can already communicate with anyone.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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She meant before coming to the nexus. But it could have been easy to miss that detail.
"I consider myself something of a spirit expert actually. At least concerning the kind of spirits that make themselves home where I'm from. Turns out learning about dragons mostly involves learning about spirits as what most known about their biology were their feeding habits." She pauses.
"Since I did mention that I eat spirits, correct? That includes ghosts, specters, shadows... everything in that category. Obviously not something I would do at HALO of course unless required to."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Reinholdt raises an eyebrow. Why are all the spirit experts so hungry for spirits, literally? What did spirits ever do to them?

"So is that like... a spiritual omnivore situation in which you can eat spirits but don't have to if you don't want to? Or is that more of a 'better get some spirits in my belly' every few weeks just to keep functioning?"
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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This line of questioning seems to make the scholar a tad awkward. She looks away for a moment as if unable to meet his gaze. "More of a... 'unending hunger which causes me to go into a feeding frenzy once I start eating' situation?"
Ambrosia musters up a smile as if ease the tension caused by that statement, meeting his gaze again. "So like your second alternative I suppose. But while I prefer not to mince words the terms we're using have a somewhat different meaning where I'm from. See, dragons of my kind passively eat while we sleep. Feeding on emotions and spiritual energy that people and animals around us exude. Which is completely harmless by the way.
Zee apparently feeds in a similar manner and as far as I can tell that hasn't hurt any of trog's customers either. However, that isn't always enough so sometimes I visit spirit-heavy places to hunt. That's what can cause the feeding frenzy I mentioned so I make sure that there's no people in the area first."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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That's a little different than just not eating spirits unless she has to! Seems to be a point of embarrassment to Ambrosia though. Lot of things did. Ambrosia would be so easy to tease if Rein were in literally any other situation. Alas, he shall force himself to remain as professional and supportive as possible.

"If it's completely harmless, why does it matter if there are people in the area? Also, is it possible to involuntarily fall into a feeding frenzy?" Reinholdt asks calmly before taking a sip of his rum.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Ambrosia touches her hair as she speaks, something which seems to be a hint of her awkwardness regarding the subject.

"I might have exaggerated it's harmlessness a bit. Since while the 'sleep-eating' can't directly harm people, lesser spirits and the like are still consumed. Not anything that could be considered a 'person' by any definition yet still potentially disruptive since there are enchantments and spiritualists that rely on such beings. For instance, I wouldn't take a nap in GloG as I've heard that they have practicing shamans there."

She folds her hands together as if in an effort to try to keep them off her hair. "However, during the hunt or 'feeding frenzy' I'm in actual physical space since it's not just spirits I need to eat. Not to mention that people have a sort of spirit as well so they're easy to mistake for just more prey if they happen to be in the area."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"Ah. You might want to avoid taking a nap near the more magically inclined labs then. Callie's in particular. The Fourth Tower will probably be fine just because of how they're set up." If there are others, they aren't coming to mind at the moment.

"So you're also capable of talking to these spirits that you eat?" Reinholdt hates it when his food talks to him. He prefers it if it just squeaks and dies like normal.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Ambrosia is about to answer Rein's next question when she realizes that she didn't actually only partly answer his old one. "Ah- first, to first answer your last question, I've never involuntarily gone into this state but it's theoretically possible if a dragon gets hungry enough. But that's indeed a desperate state of affairs, turning them little more than a beast." She explains in what she considers a curt fashion.

"But yes, I do speak with them. In fact some even end up serving me. Usually spirits associated with storms, thunder and lighting. Like Jeon for instance if you recall him from our Skyside mission."
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Here Reinholdt thought Ambrosia was avoiding the question! He's been known to pull that trick from time to time. Though involuntary feeding frenzy doesn't seem like it's an issue to Ambrosia than it is any more than anyone else who was driven to desperation and hunger. Sounds unlikely to come up.

Rein still finds it strange she talks with her food though, and that food even voluntarily serves her from time to time. Well that's between her and the spirits he guesses. It's not like he wouldn't eat a human if need be. "I think I've got the picture now," Reinholdt says as he finishes up his meal. "Were there any other capabilities you wanted to discuss?"
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Ambrosia has already finished her own meal as she had curiously ordered one of the smallest things on the menu. "No, I only had a couple of questions for you left actually. Since now that I've seen how HALO and VIGIL interacts I'm wondering if we could perhaps invite some of their scientists offer so we can have an exchange of the technology each organization uses. Do you know Geneva their head scientist for instance?"

As Ambrosia asks this the door to the tavern opens and a large group of satyrs enters the tavern. They're all male, all furry goat-legged and ready to party by the looks of it. Acting more than a little rowdy.
They just keeps pouring into the open door apparently all traveling in one big group. There must be nearly two dozen of them by the time the door finally closes again. They're not paying Rein or Ambrosia any mind though so these are not fey they need to be worried about. Seems more like the staff's concern if they get particularly wild.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Reinholdt considers this for a moment. "Hmmm... I dunno. I'm not sure how much you know of our history, but there was a period in which HALO and VIGIL were merged. The breakup was messy and ugly with a lot of hurt feelings. I wasn't really involved back then, but I know a number of people who were. In pursuing a more academic nature, I'm in a way trying to keep HALO and VIGIL distinct from each other, fill different niches. Trading tech would somewhat cut against that grain and I have to be wary of any steps that may lead to one eventually becoming 'that branch' of the other." He's not saying that's what will happen, but he's gotta keep watch anyways.

"That said, it helps that HALO is actually spreading to assist more than just VIGIL. We've set up an exchange with Intersection quite recently in fact. And I would be remiss not to think up some goodwill gesture to VIGIL for coming to us with that mission." Reinholdt scratches his chin, pondering the details. "Regardless of how the politics land, to answer your question, no I have never met Geneva. Cessie, Wenomir, Khafir, Blanche and... Anika, I think are all the ones at VIGIL I think I know of. Oh and Felandria, I suppose." Reinholdt frowns at the last one for a moment, before noticing all the satyrs trickling in and making the place louder. Ugh... some sort of frat party or something. Well, not his problem. He doesn't imagine they'll be here much longer, so a mild inconvenience at worst.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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Shadowcaller wrote: Jan 04, 2023 11:50 am As Ambrosia asks this the door to the tavern opens and a large group of satyrs enters the tavern. They're all male, all furry goat-legged and ready to party by the looks of it. Acting more than a little rowdy.
They just keeps pouring into the open door apparently all traveling in one big group. There must be nearly two dozen of them by the time the door finally closes again. They're not paying Rein or Ambrosia any mind though so these are not fey they need to be worried about. Seems more like the staff's concern if they get particularly wild.
After a few minutes another person enters the tavern, a strong and curvy lady with distinctly auroch features in a warm and mostly-buttoned flannel shirt doing nothing to hide a pair of wings. She's also carrying what looks like a small barrel of wine.
"Hello, boys. I heard this was a place someone could have some fun." says the strange kind-of-not-really-satyr, setting down the barrel to sit on.
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Re: The Black Dragon's Den

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"Ah, Intersection. The law enforcers of Inside, correct?" She asks as if she didn't already know who they were. "May I ask what sort of exchange we have with them?" But before letting Rein answering that question she clarifies just who Geneva was since she had brought it up. "But, ah, regarding Geneva. She's their head scientist and specializes in teleportation and weather manipulation. It was someone I considered working together with on a weather-related project, which is something of a passion of mine. I believe that I could to some degree can manipulate devices running on electricity and it would be a good opportunity to try that theory out." Right now she mostly caused them to short-circuit.

Meanwhile, the satyrs have just settled down around the table and brought out a well-used deck of cards when their attention is suddenly drawn to the newcomer.
It's quite shameful how they seem to want to undress her with their eyes. They holler to get her attention, waving their arms and gesture for her to sit down with them. One of them even getting a chair for her from another table without as much as asking the pair of goblins sitting at it if its okay.

The goblins decides that it's better to not object though. Those satyr were nothing but trouble.
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