Barron Baren Boran?

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Barron Baren Boran?

"make as much noise as you can."

That was the command that Joek gave to his men when he decided he needed to have a meeting with this Laughing Baron that seemed to be misunderstanding the rules of engagement in his city. He needed a word with the old cod in order to properly reiterate exactly who's city this was. How dare he bring in his merchandise without the courtesy of allowing Joek's men to peruse the wares first and foremost. 

Joek walked down the street, following the cacophoney of noises and bangs happening outside the old fool's magical house. 

He was wearing his usual outdoor getup, his shoes were shined, and his vest perfectly lint free. Always best to put your best foot forward during diplomacy. 

 

And discipline. 

 

He waited patiently for the Baron to make his appearance.


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The Great clock in the Foyer of Black Brick Manor read 17 past the Witching hour.

They were still out there... for THREE DAYS. Larenz laid awake listening to the raucous sounds in the distance. Most who sought out the manor were deterred by impossibly thick fog. This, however... this was something new. CLEARLY, these intruders were intent on making his acquaintance. But how best to make such an introduction?

"GARSON! Call up the Carriage!"

It was nearly 2 when he left the premises.

An unmanned carriage approached the group.




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Joek raised an eyebrow at the carriage trumbling it's way down the drive toward them. Seemed the good noble sir Baron von Baron of the Barons wished to have their little meeting behind the doors. He looked over at his men banging on drumps and held up a hand. 

One of the henchment let go of a half plucked chicken, allowing it to continue it's squealing and squaking as it ran down the street. 

The carriage only appeared to have limited room. 

Joek waved over 2 of his more menacing compatriots and stepped into the carriage, allowing it to bring him to the door of the building. 

He reached out to knock on the door but allowed his hand to stop a few inches away from it, remembering exactly where he was. He cleared his throat, tilting his head back and lifting his gloved hands to his mouth. 

"Sir Shwartz, I do believe I'm due an audience with you. I've attempted sending my men to ring the doorbell, but as you can see, they may have taken some liberties with my instructions. If you could kindly open the door and let us in, I'll be in and out in no time!" 

 

He put on his winning smile, waiting for his reply




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"Sorry, you're not going to be crossing that threshold." The Baron's voice boomed from behind the carriage. "and if you like having your goons around, I'd suggest you keep them in this carriage. Unless you want to see how stone rends flesh from bone. I can tell you right now, it's pretty gruesome."

He was dressed in little more than his sleeping robe, some loafing shoes, and a silver cane. It clicked on the cobblestone as he got up from beneath the carriage to meet his new "guests".




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A threat? 

Joek nodded his head in agreeance, looking back at the carriage at his men and returned his gaze to the old man. 

A smile crossed his face, thinking about what sort of weapons this man must have to be so brash. Joek let his smile fade and held out his hands. 

"Very well, I'm fine with having our discussion outside. You see, I've heard from my very reliable sources, that you've been putting out excavation teams throughout the land in order to collect even more rare and powerful items." He placed his hands behind his back, leaning forward slightly to inspect the threshhold of the building. He could almost feel it humming with energy. 

"You know, we've done business before. Not face to face of course, but through the usual lines. My men have filled your stores with quite a bit these last few years. But you know, people are more observant than you'd think. And we are curious about what sort of items you are trying to smuggle into our fair little city. Weapons? Demons? There are a lot of people in this city vying for power, what drives you? I like to understand my business partners after all."




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Larenz patted the side of the carriage, and the door slammed shut and the window shutters locked tight.
"Ah, are you the shadowy overlord I've been hearing whispers about? A pleasure to finally meet the man behind the myth. The closest thing I've ever dealt with on the level you've achieved was a daemon in the southern isles. I hope I don't have to banish you into a realm of eternal disembowelment. You seem much more reasonable."

He took in the man's demeanor and made some educated guesses about where he came from and what he really wanted. He slowly reached into his robe, and presented a ruby ring.
"You want to know what I'm peddling? Do you know what this is?"




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"Shadowy overlord? Quite a dramatic way of explaining things sure." He ran a hand through his hair, still keeping his eyes locked on the nobleman, unblinking. 

"You know, you have whispers about you as well. Some people say that you are one of the more proficient collectors in the entire country. That you've had political adversaries banished to other dimensions as you described, and caused undoubtful ruin to anyone who even so much as comes too close to you home." He waved a hand toward the house, to give examples. 

"Even heard that the whole house is powered by various mages and wizards and other magic users through some weird mumbo jumbo siphon... thingy." 

He reached into his pocket and produced a red stained rag, letting a severed finger roll out of it at his feet.

"Probably could have learned by just asking you, but you never reply to my messages... I apologize if this particular mage causes your power stores to slow... He was pretty low level so I think you'll forgive me." 

 

He surveyed the ring shown in front of him, letting a hand slip into his own pocket. "I can't say that I do. I can say that it's made with about 85% gold and the Ruby appears to have been cut in the Kolshtak fashion. It'd probably buy a family a week of bread for it's price before enchantment. I'm sure there's more to it though?" 




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The lord smirked. "You certainly know your jewelry. And no, one mage won't harm this place. A pity at his loss, but the silver lining is that knowledge was gained from it." He tossed the ring to his guest. "What sort of enchantment would you put on it? Infinite tomes, scrolls and thousands of years at your disposal. What would you do with all that?"




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Joek caught the ring in a single gloved hand, turning it over in his palm and raising an eyebrow. "Infinte you say?" WIthout a hesitation he looked at the Baron and gave a laugh. 

"Clarity. Instant, gratifying clarity. Not the kind that you get from a good nights rest... The kind you get only in the darkest moments of the night when you are gripped onto your bed with the knowlege that this is all you get. You have this moment and this moment alone in the world to make your peace and to carve out your legacy... One that can only last as long as the blink of an eye to the rest of the world. The clarity that it's all pointless. That's what I'd want... the ability to inflict that clarity onto everyone."

He turned the ring over itself, gazing at it's simplenss. Oh the fun he would have with that ability. 

He tossed the ring back to the Baron. turning his palms upward and asking simply.

"Is that an answer you were expecting? I expect you usually get answers like flight or gold?"




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The Baron caught it and grinned. "Is that the answer you think I was fishing for? Because you seem to have a much deeper understanding of this world than what I originally anticipated with your antics outside of the walls. Unfortunately, that sort of clarity is only achieved through dealings with the old gods, not a mere enchantment on a trinket. We, mortals, are quite fleeting though aren't we? Chasing treasures and powers beyond ourselves all to try and NOT be ourselves. I suspect you and I are similar in that respect. A couple of tricksters with a bit more knowledge than everyone else, trying to be more than we were."
 

Larenz's grin faded a bit, thinking of his time within the keep, and then flicking it away.
"I apologize, I seemed to have forgotten a proper introduction. I am Baron Larenz Von Schwarz. I don't believe I did catch your name, although your reputation does proceed you."




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"Oh the old Gods are finnicky and too full of themselves. Always going on about sacrifices required and glorifying particular things and attributes. Boooooooooooooooooooooooooring" He smiled in spite of himself, enjoying the flattery the nobleman threw his way. He seemed to think of himself as a cynic as well. That's nice. 

Funny thing about cynics. Every single one Joek had met thus far changed their tune about their life's meaningless as soon as he put it on the line in one of his games. 

 

"Introductions are usually boring as well... my name is Joek. The leader of the Troupe of Shayzrenth. The Green Fox king of the underground." He gave a bow of the head, looking over the man in front of him. He didn't seem the type to be very interested in titles. 

 

"On to business then." 

He took a step back and held out his hands. 

"I have a party in store for you good sir. A... introduction to this fair city. I understand that you've been away travelling so often that even your family home doesn't know much of you most of the time. I figure the city may have eluded your..." He stepped up and gestured the Baron over. 

 

"Vitality... So. What say you? Feel like painting this town red?"




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The offer gave the Barron pause. That was... not what he anticipated, but not... unwelcome.
"A... party? You have several hells of a way of extending an invite: killing a mage, keeping me awake for three days straight, and threatening to take invaluable relics from a safe haven designed to protect and spread the knowledge they provide the world... And you want to throw me a... party?" He looked for an answer from behind Joek's gaze but got none, which, in a way, was his answer. He chuckled, "Oh I accept, wholeheartedly." 

He spat into his hand and extended it to Joek, that was the modern custom for sealing an acceptance of such an event... right? Or was that in the Southern Isles?




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Joek looked down at the saliva covered hand in front of him. Was he some kind of dockhand on the weekend? He grinned, spitting into his own and slapping it into the other's hand. This was going to be the start of an exciting evening. "We wouldn't have such a difficult time if you didn't have doorbells that make pople turn to stone... Well then, the deal is struck, come on then, get in your best dress and meet me at the curb" 

He stepped off of the patio, getting into the carriage and sticking a head out as they tumbled back down toward the street. 

"Don't go standing me up Baron, I'd be very disappointed in my new friend if he were to stand me up!"




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The Baron watched the carriage be pulled away and thought What have I gotten myself into? Followed by Oh gods, what to wear?!?

He rushed inside to his dressing rooms. What kind of party? He rifled through his closet and a dozen potential outfits. Until he found the one.
Oh... oh yes, this will do just fine.

He waited by the curb as the fog began to roll back in, the breeze billowing his long, black, inscribed cloak. I can't wait to see how he plans on finding me here. Then again, not sure how he thought to get my attention the way he did. This is going to be VERY interesting to say the least.




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The now newly dressed Baron wouldn't have long to wait however, as quickly as he had arrived, a tailcoat wearing Joek came strolling through the fog, holding up a lantern. 

"Luckily this fog only seems to like to linger around your home..., so we won't have trouble keeping tabs on each other for this little adventure. Come on, follow me. The party is this way." 

He began his march, a number of other torches lighting and making their way toward them as they walked their way through the cobblestoned streets, out of the corners of the streets and alleys. 

Joek was leading ahead, turning around slightly here and there, making small comments and snide remarks about the paint color certain houses had chosen. "Truly atrocious really... the Home owners association should be hung... again." He giggled to himself, finally stopping outside of what looked to be a small shop. 

"Aaaaallright. So Barony- Baron-debaronnnnn... I'll call you Barry for short... Barry. Here is our first destination of the evening. You see, there are some items that this shopkeep owes me that I think you'd be very interested in seeing." He looked around the streets at the 12 or so men gathered with them. 

"Oh. I bet that little minx is still sleeping.." he began muttering to himself, walking up to the door and then back again. "She's supposed to unlick the door... Unlick? no it's unlock... Silly little typos of thought... She's gotta unleck the doah... Oh I'm just being dumb now. Karmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa karma karma karmakarmakarmakarma" 

He began to pace, looking more and more agitated at being made to wait, even holding up a hand to his guest. 

"Please be patient with me Barry, my assistant is setting the table, decorating the cake. Just please wait for ooooooone more minute." 

He took a breath, turning around and staring at the door. placing his arms behind his back like a statue. As if expecting something to be presented to him 

 

 

-Enter Karma-

 




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Larenz tried to correct Joek about the title not being his name, but noticing that his mannerisms had changed, he realized so should his tactics with dealing with him.

When they stopped at the shop, it looked a bit familiar to him. He thought that he had visited it before on his many undercover expeditions into the city, but this area tended to have quite similar architecture.

Joek's mention of Karma caused Larenz's mind to tick... Was he referring to a person or a deity? Only time would tell.




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A sudden crack of wood from the shop next door boomed, as a wild-eyed and purple haired woman kicked the heavy door open. She waved her hands about her and whisper-shouted, "Joek are you fucking drunk or did you forget how to read?!? Wrong shop, you're going to wake up the whole city if you keep that shit up!" She stomped up to the group with a shake of her head and a click of her tongue, "Nah it's ok, I tried breaking in there earlier anyway. All these shops look the sam--"

Karma paused as her shining golden eyes fell on the fancy man. Pursing her lips, her gaze darted back to Joek, then to the newcomer, then back to Joek. A lone finger lifted to point at the Baron, "Who the hell is that and where did he get that coat and does it come in orange?"




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Larenz smiled and removed the cloak, turning it inside out to reveal an orange interior and handed it to Karma. He was dressed in an all black double-breasted leather cuirass with various runes worked into it. He wore a dark scarf across his face and worn, knee-high riding boots which muffled his footsteps. A whip and cutlass hung from his waist, and a bolero with pouches slung across his chest.

"Now that I see what we are here to do, I suppose you'll need me to be a bit less... cumbersome."




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Joek squinted at the sign in front of him, rubbing a gloved hand on his eyes and turned toward the nearest henchmen and held up a hand to point at the building. "Did Jakobs just not know the correct building? Or is he that bad at following marks?" He took a step forward and squeezed the henchmen's face. 

"I'd like you pass forward my displeasure." He stomped the henchmen's foot, letting the man's momentum leaning forward, leaning him into a short blade that Joek had at the ready. In just that fluid motion, he turned and held up his hands, the man behind him floundering to pull the blade back out the few centimeters it pierced his clothing. He then pressed a hand to his stomach, turning and running off into the dark. Likely to pass on his frustrations to an unsuspecting Jakobs...

He raised his hands toward the purple haired girl, walking up to her and stepping past her, looking at the door that she kicked open. "I'm the one waking up the town? Truly?" He leaned against the frame, crossing his arms at the duds Barry was wearing. 

"You know. I always admire a fellow who knows how to dress for the occasion." he clapped his hands, turning inside and giving a shout. "Well come come then. I'm sure the owner is delighted to be hosting our little soiree." 

He gave a skip inside, almost tripping over some baubles that were strewn on the floor. 

He turned a corner, waving an invisble orchestra along behind him. 

 

"Oh Baaaaarry. I think now is the time you know why it is I have asked for your little help this evening." leaned against a wall with a painting on it. A stern looking woman glaring down at Joek, her frown so pronounced it was almost cartoonish. 

"I'm sure Karma can already hear it, and perhaps with your many years dealing with it, you can as well. This building is supposedly humming with magical energy. Similar to your home. I can't see a damned thing honestly, and it's why I had Karma scope the place... She's easier to put back together when things go awry." He smiled at her lovingly at this point. "You see this new shopkeep came to town about 2 weeks ago and suddenly people who came here to... Well to talk business were aptly caused to go missing. 

Naturally, I came to investigate, but I'm not idiot. I needed a specialist to help plunder this place. Hence why I decided to reach out to my best friend in the whole world! Barry!"




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Karma's eyes widened at the flourish of the coat and squealed a little before whipping back to Joek, "Ex-CUSE ME?!" The squealing bleeding man before her and Joek's immediate advance into the shop distracted her as she mumbled obscenities to herself. With a quick snap of the head, her gaze fixed onto the newcomer once more, "Right this way, Sir Whoever You Are." 

With a puff of red steam, the girl slipped into nothingness, swiftly re-appearing back inside the shop. She glared at Joek with a pursed lip as he kept talking...and talking...and talking. 




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Larenz was still holding the cloak outstretched in his hand toward the lady when a whole manner of tomfoolery befell a poor henchman behind him. He watched, dumbfounded at the scene, and didn't know whether to laugh, scream, or run... so he did the smart thing and stayed quiet and followed their lead.
He entered the new target's place and immediately felt the hairs prick all over. There was bad juju here. 
It was filled with hundreds of baubles, much like his Curiosity Shoppes around the major cities, but THESE trinkets were sharp, twisted and dark. His gaze fell onto the painting, which met it with ominous intent.
"Well, you're not wrong, and if either of you were anyone else, I'd suggest turning tail and leaving this place in ruins. But seeing as how you just bust in and revealed all of us to THAT," He gestured to the painting, then drew his blade, "It's about to get WEIRD."




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Joek looked up at the painting,and then to the newly revealed knife.

"I like your style Barry." 

He took a few steps away from the painting, taking the cloak he intended for Karma from him and tossing it over Karma's head. He lifted up his hands in surrender of the situation, hopping himself up onto a counter, and crossing his leg over knee. 

"Stage is yours sir"




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Larenz watched in confusion as the man sauntered over to sit atop the counter.
"You're a mad-" before he could finish, he was knocked on his back by something. He looked up to see the woman in the painting raising her hands and begin to shriek like a banshee. The items began to glow around them, a sickly green emanated from the hundreds of trinkets. It was some kind of lantern that was thrown at him that knocked him back. The other items began to sway violently. He saw a stairway leading up on the far end of the shop, and a trap door leading to a cellar.
"FOLLOW ME THEN!" was all he could shout before the air was full of cursed twisted items hurling themselves towards the intruders. He noticed that Karma still had the cloak over her head by the time it all went down. Huh, she's probably the most protected like that... why do I have to always act the gentleman? He would've thought, had he not been busy diving for the cellar door.




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Karma let out a few curse words as shit hit the fan around her. With the chaos around her, she shrunk down to a sitting position momentarily, covering her head with her hands--oh. It's a coat. How fun! OH SHIT MORE SHIT IS FLYING! With another puff of red smoke, she dissipated into a rat-shaped ball of steam and swimmed in a circle before noticiing the new fancy man racing toward the cellar. He seemed to be yelling something but it was hard to make out what his words were with all the other noise around her. Still, she followed swiftly. What the hell? she thought, "I've been in here reading a book and nothing weird happened to me! Something must be up with this guy...

Slipping underneath the cellar door, Karma's smoke rat jumped in place for a few seconds as her mind fought fervently to focus. Open it, open it, open the damn thing would you?! With a thunk of cranium against solid wood, Karma shifted back into her solid form and fumbled with the latch before throwing it open.