Saturday, April 23, 2016

Joe Has an Existential Wet Dream

This is a roleplay that Adam wrote for a fantasy wrestling federation than he and Nick both participate in. He was hopped up on prescription painkillers when he wrote it (legally acquired due to a severe back injury) and was rather proud of the existentialist nonsense that it represents. It is most important to realize that the character in question, named Cheeky Joe, uses Ryan Reynolds as his picbase. Anyway, without further ado...




The room is dim save for a focused champagne lights that illuminate the green felt-covered table at the center. The room is unremarkable save for the table itself and therefore, irrelevant. Seated around this table, which maintains a vaguely circular appearance by virtue of it's octagonal design are presently three people. To my left, there is a man I will never meet outside of this place as, outside of this place, I'm pretty sure we'd try to kill each other – one Hal Jordan, or more affectionately known by his alter ego: The Green Meanie. The brown-haired handsome man glances in my direction.
“Deadpool, are you narrating in your head?” he asks. He sounds irritated, but clearly he doesn't understand that without narration, this would merely appear as a black blank page in an open word processing program on some idiot's computer.
“Just let him be,” says the man on my left, famous actor of the big and small screen – Ryan Reynolds. “You know if he doesn't narrate he'll disappear in a puff of logic.”
“Why did I agree to this again?” Hal inquires, his irritation clearly increasing.
“Because,” I reply, shuffling and bridging the cards expertly and definitely NOT sending 50 of the 52 cards flying across the table. “Joe needs to reconnect to the source material.”
“Which is me,” Ryan states, entirely not gathering the cards that flew onto the floor.
“Not even a little,” Hal rebukes, stacking up the blue, red, and white chips. “You know he doesn't give a hoot about popular culture which excludes you,” he gestures to Ryan, “and he has been a DC Comics fan since he was 10 years old, which entirely excludes you,” he finishes his argument with a computer-generated flourish toward me.
“But he has said more than once that YOUR movie was the worst DC movie of all time,” I counter. “And he fucking LOVED my movie.”
Hal bristles. “DC writers suck and Warner Brothers doesn't have the cojones to do a rated-R superhero movie…”
“Or a superhero movie with a female lead, or with an anthropomorphic rodent as a main supporting character….” Ryan murmurs as a not-so-subtle aside.
Hal glares. “Hey bite your tongue, you weren't even IN that movie!”
“Oh shut up, both of you!” I snap. “He is just out side the door.”
Hal stares at me. “How do you know?” The door opens and in walks the REAL Cheeky Joe.
Ryan stage whispers to Hal: “He's breaking the fourth wall and reading the meta-plot.”
I shrug. “Really it's more like I'm NARRATING the whole thing,” I shoot Ryan a Vaudevillian wink before greeting our newcomer by standing.
He is tall and bearded and bespectacled, big to the point of overweight, but wide-shouldered and walks with a great deal of confidence. “Joseph,” I say.
“That is not my name,” he replies.
“I know,” I say, and I do of course but that isn't the point. “But for today, your name is Joseph. Sit down.” I gesture to the one remaining seat. He glances at it. Reaches out a tattooed wrist and pulls out the chair to sit. I sit too.
“Hal, Ryan, you know Joseph.” I say. They both shake their heads.
“Nope,” says Hal.
“Never met him,” says Ryan. Joe seems not at all bothered by this, shrugging his broad shoulders.
“I know both of you,” he states.
“Good enough,” I say and deal out the cards. One to the kitty, two face down to each of them. They stare at the cards on the table as I place the rest of the deck down. Then they stare at me.
“Now what?” asks Hal.
“Don't you guys know how to play Texas Hold 'Em?” I ask, incredulous. Everyone answers negatively. “Well fuck, neither do I.”
“Perhaps we should get to the point,” Joe stats, resting his thick forearms on the edge of the table. “Why am I here?”
“You're here to answer a simple question,” Deadpool answers in the third person, then switches back to first. “How are you gonna' win this tag match?”
“Okay,” Joe says, glancing between the three of us. “Why are THEY here? And for that matter… You?”
“You tell us,” the three of us say at the same time causing a vaguely creepy echo effect that makes my nuts shrivel.
He considers the question. “I hurt my back this morning,” he replies. “Right this second I am doped up on so many prescription strength painkillers that I don't know what is the what.”
“So not a great time to write,” Hal nods knowingly. Ryan shrugs.
“I don't know,” he states. “Lots of writers write while impaired. Poe had opium, Hemingway had alcohol-”
“And cocaine,” Joe informs, smirking slightly. Ryan nods.
“And cocaine,” he agrees. “Perhaps fucked up on painkillers is the way to go.”
“What do you feel like writing?” I ask Joe.
“I've always enjoyed the notion of writing a blatant meta-plot but I could never quite accomplish it while sober,” he admits.
“Ah yes,” I say with a smile. “Something where you feature yourself as a character but not the narrator surrounded by different iterations of the same person up to and INCLUDING the very person who has come to represent these iterations of said character and then have a whole speech about catering to the meta-plot within the meta-plot of the text that you are writing, choosing of course the individual you chose to represent the character you are writing this for and but instead of plugging him into the scenario, describing yourself in his place because let's face it: You ARE the real Cheeky Joe.”
Joe considers this. “Something like that, yeah.”
“But how do you couch that into a roleplay?” Hal asks.
“You could do the 'it was all a dream' ending,” Ryan suggests. “It's a cheap get but it does the job.”
“Kind of fucks with the readers though,” Hal says. “And like you said, it's a bit cheap. It's kind of like giving the reader a giant middle finger.”
I nod. “And then shoving it up his ass and wiggling it around but don't you see? I spread my hands wide, giving Hal and Ryan the finger and waggling them suggestively. “That is what Cheeky Joe is all about. He's not here to win matches, he is here to have fun and if dry-penetrating the collective rectums of his audience is how he gets off, let him have his cheap get. He'll cum on in their poopers and smear the resulting frothy mixture of fecal matter and sperm all over their faces and ultimately get his jollies… which is the whole motherfucking point.”
“Besides,” Ryan says, breaking the fourth wall and addressing you, the reader.
“No one reads this shit anyhow,” Hal states, doing the same thing. I smile in smug satisfaction because I've been breaking the fourth wall the entire time. And the three of us disappear in a puff of logic, but JUST before I wink out of existence, I think of something, and pull my dissembling molecules back together. The Real Cheeky Joe just looks at me from across the table. I point as his crotch and yell:
“BOOYA!” causing immediate and painful ejaculation. I puff away as he shouts at me in rage and pain, a satisfied smile on my face.

Cheeky Joe snorts awake and glances around. He is in the front passenger seat of Average Mike's Prius, en route to Lonestar State Civic Center. Mike glances over. “Power nap?”
Joe blinks. “Yup.”
“You were talking in yourself. Were you having the Hal Jordan, Ryan Reynolds, and Deadpool play poker dream again?”
Joe pushes himself into a better seated position. “Yup. I really oughta learn Texas Hold 'Em cuz we only get so far before we have to stop and they have to lay some kind of existential lesson on me.”
Mike just nods, he's heard this before. “Any idea how you're gonna beat John Rikers and Terryl Fexxfield tonight?”
Joe snorts. “No fucking clue. I'll think of something.”
A long pause draws out between them.
“I'm gonna need to change pants,” Joe says.
“I know.” Mike replies, keeping his eyes very pointedly on the road ahead.


Fade to black.

Prince

Being from Minnesota, and more specifically Minneapolis / St. Paul area. We are highly saddened by the passing of Prince. Anyone ever use any of his music as character inspiration? Or campaign inspiration? Or even just writing inspiration? We sure did.

R.I.P. Prince

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

New Episode soon?

We are excited to continue our "Class" series soon! What classes would you like to see us cover? There are a lot.

Adam:    Jedi, Ninja, Assissin, Wizard, Elf... ???
John:      Elf is a race not a class!
EVERYONE ELSE:  Not in original D&D NEWB!

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Golden Road (A Short Story - Based on a Changeling Character in Eberron)


           In a time when magic and technology go hand in hand, the worst job in the world is to be a spy. I should know that’s how I got in this situation. Falling to your death from a flying cruise ship isn’t something you really plan. Well, actually, it is.
            It was a cold and rainy night in the City of Towers, when I walked into my office. With my walking stick in hand, I hobbled my crooked old body in from the weather. My front deskman Harper came over to get the door as I sat and rested my weary bones where our clients usually sit. I had a reputable business as a public Inquisitor in the largest city on the country. That is when Luchin showed up. He was my boss in the Citadel. The Citadel has two kinds of agents, the public agents, that everyone knows about, who do public investigations and are held in the highest regard. Then they have the spies. Luchin and I are the spy variety. I am a low guy on the totem pole, but a low guy with one special quality. I can change who I am, how I look, and am a master of voices, among other things. If you are a spy for the Citadel you usually have something special, or out of the ordinary that you can do. My boss, Luchin for example, can become invisible for short durations, something very useful in our line of work.
            Luchin spoke, “Harper, I need to talk to Jasper a bit. Mind leaving us be?” Harper nodded and left the room. Luchin looked my way. “Xan, I have a delicate job that I need you on. There is a cruise ship setting off on it’s maiden voyage. We believe something is going to happen there and it involves Citadel agents, crooked ones. I need your eyes and ears on that ship, it is a matter of concern, possibly national concern. Something is going to happen and I need you there to take care of it. Many nobles, including the Kings nephew, Duke Marius, will be on this ship and security is tight.”
            “So I’ve heard. I actually had an invite to go. Do you remember the widow who had that little ball of fur that went missing some time ago? She thought it was a dognapping, but I happened to run across it running wild in the Upper West Regent. Well, she was, and still is, I guess, the Captains mother. She invited Master Inquisitor Jasper Landred to be her date, if he could find the time.” I said.
            “Xan, I have to admit, you have some of the best cover identities I’ve ever seen, and this Jasper persona that you play is by far my favorite. The famous old man investigator who is known for his rare knowledge and keen eye would be perfect. The ship leaves tomorrow, try to make sure you are set up to go and that the Captains mother isn’t quite capable of making it.” Luchin started to leave and paused a moment, “Oh Xan, just make her sick or something. A dead old lady would not be in good taste.” He patted me on the back and chuckled, ”Oh, by the way, do you still have that feather token from your last mission?” In the City of Towers a single token that keeps you from certain death is a nice thing to have on hand. I handed it to him made note to get one myself. “Xan, I myself may try to make it there as well, but it’s doubtful.” He pocketed the feather token on the inside of his coat. For some reason I watched carefully, I always made those kinds of mental notes, even before I was a spy. In those days I was just a common thief, pickpocket, and con man. The king saved my life and I changed my ways. I watched Luchin check to make sure he had everything; he smiled and disappeared from sight. His disappearing is something I had become accustomed to. Without being obvious, I watched as his wet footprints headed out an open window. I would have to tell him to be careful about leaving his footprints behind in weather such as this.
            It wasn’t but a few hours before I was set up to go on a cruise. I was excited, because I could use a vacation. Since this was just a watch and learn mission, I might be able to relax a bit. My thoughts were that this should be simple and easy. That evening, Harper was given the guest and crew list, along their rooms, which I went over while I finished my poison mix of Terinav Root for the Captains Mother.             When morning came, I made my way to meet the nice old lady and her pooch for breakfast and accept her offer. I was all apologies about not getting to her sooner, but she was thrilled that I could be her date. Unfortunately just before noon both her and the pooch became suddenly ill. Specialty poisons were common training for all citadel agents, some less known than others. Lucky for me she insisted I go on the cruise without her. So I did. I’m an old man, not a saint.
            The airship was not what I expected. In fact, it was quite large and a sight to be seen. Titled the Golden Road was almost ironic, being that it is a flying ship. I boarded the ship and got to my room with little difficulty. One good thing about being a kind old man, plenty of people help you with your bags, and they talk freely. You can ask and say anything and as long as you smile and are sincere they never take offense. I was filled with information about the ship and it’s events before I even got to my room. When I got there, I finally got to relax. I stayed in my room for most of the initial take off and got some sleep.
            There was a knock at the door. I woke up hastily and shifted my image to look like my Jasper persona, then shuffled slowly to the door as would an old man. There are many small details you need to pay attention too in order to maintaining an identity. One is to do your best at all times during a mission to maintain your persona, even if they cannot see you.
I opened the door to see a ships crewman standing before me. “Mister Landred, we wanted to inform you that we are finally maintaining altitude. Everyone is free to move about the ship now.”
            I spoke calmly and quietly. “Thank you, young man.” I appreciated the information. “I believe I am fairly well rested to enjoy the remainder of the day. Might you tell me where most people congregate on this vessel?”
            “Indeed. Middle deck is a dance hall, it’s central and has entertainment and a lot of places to go and come from.” He smiled and left, closing the door. It was a fake smile with honest intent from a young man to the elderly. I gathered my things and glanced down at my Citadel ring. The ring is Government Issue, and this is mission a secret. I will have to keep it on my person. I may need it with me though just in case. The ring allows jurisdiction to ask for aid of anyone of the nation. People almost always assist without question since it is an honor to assist an agent of the Citadel. I think I’ll just keep it in my pocket since Jasper is not supposed to work for the Citadel.
            It was a little while till I finished getting dressed. When I was a youth and a con man, I recall the days that I had to wear multiple layers of clothing and double sided coats in order to quickly change identities. These days I am lucky, I just need one enchanted set of clothing and it changes to look how I want. The Citadel spared no expense in getting me that set. Now I was ready and had gathered my items and trinkets. Then another knock came to my door. I waited bit before opening it. There stood another ship worker. I looked him over a bit, while he spoke, “I am sorry sir, um, we will have to ask you, uh, to stay inside until we say otherwise.” I watched his eyes and his hands. The hands tell a lot about a person’s stress levels. His stress levels were high. He didn’t know where to put his hands; they fidgeted and twitched without him knowing. His eyes would go from my eyes, down, then back up. Each time his eyes shifted direction his words would pause and there would be an “um” or and “uh” in mid sentence.
            “Son, it’s alright, what happened?”
            “I, uh, I can’t talk about it, sir.”
            “Oh. I understand” I made sure to look and sound disappointed. He immediately changed his nervousness to sadness. My guess, he had a grandfather about my age.
            “I am sorry, uh, I shouldn’t talk about it, but maybe if you can keep it a secret um, you see my job would, um, well I could get in trouble.” Bingo, Jasper’s trust strikes again.
            “Oh, of course,” I made my eyes light up, “I have no intent on saying anything, I in fact cannot go anywhere anyhow, right? I’ll be here on 3B all night.” The floors of the ship were numbered, and anything below deck had a B after the level. We were the third level down.
            “Someone found a dead body near the control room. No one knows how, the room is fully guarded.”
            I nodded and took a deep breath, then glanced up and looked him in the eyes. “You know, I could help us both out. Remind the Captain that Jasper Landred, is on board. I am a fully licensed inquisitor in the City of Towers and I may be of great help. Please tell him, and you may get in well with the Captain, but you must do it right away, otherwise the killer may get away.” He nodded and closed the door and left. I had to get moving fast if I was to find out what was going on. Either, this death was related to my assignment, or not. Either way, this isn’t going to be a fun job. “So much for my vacation.” I said as I rolled my eyes. I took a deep breath and concentrated on the boy I just spoke to. I brought his face and physical structure into thought and slowly adjusted it to perfection, and then looked into the mirror to be sure I was accurate. I also adjusted my clothing’s woven magic as well, so I now looked just like him. It was then time to tell the rest of level 3B to stay inside, get a good look at everyone, and find out who is and isn’t in their rooms.
            A standard sky ship is much larger than a standard water sailing ship. This cruise ship was much larger than a standard sky ship. I estimated time from my room to the ships helm a minimum of fifteen minutes, then another fifteen minutes minimum to get back to my room, add time for response and interruptions. All together I would be given a minimum of thirty-five minutes to get back to my quarters, provided Captain Jareed doesn’t send for me first. All the rooms seemed standard, one to three passengers, most are already in their rooms. One room however had caught me off guard, after I knocked and walked in, there I saw Luchin preparing some clothing. I know he said he may be here, but I didn’t think he would have made it. I spoke quickly and direct as my job as a ship crewman would be, just as I had all the other rooms prior, “Excuse me sire, I must let you know that we are experiencing an issue aboard the ship and ask you to remain in your quarters until further notice.”
            “What is the problem? I have an urgent meeting I must attend to before my vacation actually begins.” He replied to me.
            “I have no idea.” I lied to him, though he was my superior officer I needed to remain in guise. Anyone could be watching him, or he could be testing me. He may even be here to oversee my job. I doubt he could have heard of the murder and gotten here. “But I am sure you will be informed when we all have the facts. Thank you sir.” I quickly shut the door and turned as my eye caught a glimpse of myself coming down an air lift from the floor above. Damn it, the response time was quicker than I thought.  He would hit the lobby of this floor and head straight to my room. I would have to cross the lobby, or go around the back way through all the rooms, and make a full circle to get there. I had to think quickly. I couldn’t let him get to my room before I got there.
            He came off the air lift and turned just as I had thought. As I approached, I quickly had to create a different guise, one rank higher, with the hope that in the chaos he doesn’t question me. “Private! Have you finished checking this floor? I think there is a man in that room, and I want you to double check his ID. I didn’t see him on my passenger list.” I kept a stern solid tone, hoping that is all I would need.
            “Sorry sir, I have to deliver this message for the Captain, it is urgent.”
            “Private, you check the room, I will deliver the message. Where do I bring it?” I snatched the envelope out of his hand and started walking. “Where?”
            “I um, well, His mother’s suite, an old man named Jasper, it should be on there.”
            “Check that room private! I’ll catch up to you after I deliver this.”
            “Yes sir.”
            I breathed a sigh of relief, as I ducked around the corner into my room, and opened the letter. It was from the Captain. It was asking me to meet him in a room on the top deck.  I was off, but not before the door opened and closed on its own and Luchin appeared. “Xan, how goes the work?”
            I made sure to look and act confused, by his presence, I masked my act with something that truly did confuse me. “Why are you here?”
            “I just got aboard. I made an emergency in-port, the magic to do it cost a bundle, and it caught the crew in the boarding room by surprise, they didn’t expect someone to arrive quite so soon. It is a good thing they have a spot for that kind of magic to be used on the ship. Besides, I said I may be able to get on.”
            “You didn’t answer the question.”
            “I thought you might need some help. If not, I can just sit back and enjoy the trip.” He paused a moment then changed the subject. “Strange thing happened just before I got to your room, I almost was compromised in my room. An attendant came and talked with me; left, then came back asking all kinds of questions about my room.” I tried not to chuckle as I listened to him continue. “I showed him all my paperwork and was cleared, but he was so unprepared and confused, I don’t think he knew if he was coming or going.” I nodded and then interrupted him hastily.
            “Luchin, I must go. I have a meeting with the Captain. Apparently there has been a murder, and it may or may not be related. I will keep you posted.” I quickly closed the door behind me without looking back. I almost feel bad ditching my boss like this, but he and I have two very different sets of skills. I headed down the hall to get to the meeting destination. I then took the air lift up to the upper level, had to show about a handful of people my papers, and thought it was interesting how the cooks and cleaners on the lower levels were still busy running around, yet once I got up to the upper levels, there was none to be seen. Then my mind went back a few steps, hopefully Luchin forgives me for ditching him like that, but the mission comes first.
Eventually my mind shifts to another set of thoughts. I started to question the legality of holding every passenger in their rooms; of course I eventually dismissed the thought in order to come to the full scope of events in hand. First thing first, who was murdered and how they were murdered, and are they involved with my mission. This ship is locked up tight, and security is high. We are also miles in the air, so jumping ship is out of the question. How does the murderer plan on escaping? I know I would just blend in and walk out. If that is the case, they will be casual, and likely have no connections to the dead. Soon I can get some facts, and then see how that theory goes.
            I arrived at two guards in front of a doorway. I only needed to show them my papers from the Captain for them to let me in. The moment the door opened I took my time. The slow hobble of the old man down the room was always a perfect excuse to take my time perceiving the surroundings. The room was clean as could be, no dust, no dirt, the lights were bright, the door didn’t creak, the decor was in mint shape, and everything was as if this was a ship on its maiden voyage. Only two doorways the one I came through and the one leading to the murder. I entered the next room, the doors were open and there were four men. One of which was undoubtedly the Captain of the ship. Another of them was an officer of the ship. The third, however, was a young agent from the Citadel. Earlier I mentioned that there were two kinds of agents, I am the spy kind, he is in the other. He held his Citadel ring proudly, this was an easy indicator. The fourth man in the room was a dead Citadel agent, covered by a white cloth. This was not going to go well. I ignored the body and introduced myself to the Captain.
            “Ah, Captain Jareed, I am Master Inquisitor Jasper Landred of the City of Towers. I heard you had something that required my expertise.”  Quickly, the young Citedel agent next to him spoke up.
            “We should be fine to conduct the investigation ourselves sir.”
            “You mean you should be fine conducting it yourself,” I retorted pleasantly “As by which stating, ‘ourselves’ meant there would be more than one of you conducting the investigation. Where as your senior partner is in fact the victim.” All three men looked at me in question. They were caught off guard by my statement. I was used to this kind of reaction and continued. I only smiled innocently like an old man who is always content would tend to do.
            The younger naval officer whom I soon recognized as first mate spoke out of turn. “How would you know this?”
            “Very simple, when I arrived you and the Captain are obviously part of the ships crew, I had already heard that there was a murder from the various crew. Anyone who was here in this room would either be part of the investigation or a suspect. Since the man here wears the illustrious Citadel Agent ring, that tells me he is investigating and not a suspect. The man covered, still has a hand visible on the edge of the covering, he also wears the ring of an agent. His hand aged and weathered. Telling me his age is older than the young man, so the dead was likely senior to this mans junior in rank. It is doubtful that two agents are here on separate business, so must be his partner.” I stepped over to the body and pulled the cloth away and looked at the corpse for a few moments.
            “My friends, I need a chair.” They looked at me with curiosity. I walked over to the next room in line and opened the doors. There stood again two guards just as the other doorway. I passed them, and looked about the dead end room until I came to a chair. The others followed me, as I took a seat by the only window in the room and looked out of it. The sky was vast.
            The young agent stepped up, “So what does a chair have to do with the murder?” he asked.
            “It doesn’t, I hiked a long way up here in haste and needed to rest my back. Now if you want me to solve this, I will need the letter you took out of the pocket of the deceased.” I said casually as I looked out the window to the vast endless sky.
            “I have no idea what you are…”
            “It is in poor taste to lie to your elders, young man, especially when they are here to help you.” I interrupted him in a disappointed tone.
            “The name is Darius,” he responded, “and if you would explain yourself?”
            “Yes, we are very curious what you know?” The Captain said.
            I put on a pair of white gloves and paused a moment, then reached up to the windowsill to pull myself slowly to my feet. I was relieved that the first mate came to helped me to my feet. I nodded a thank you to him, and then turned to the rest. ”The man was stabbed in the back, the weapon hit major arteries. This is why there is so much blood. The victim did not see his assailant, since the assailant snuck up on him from behind. The murderer laid the victim down gently on his back, in order to keep any blood from going anywhere but down. Why would he do that?”
            “Respect?” The agent stated. I shook my head and moved closer to the body.
            “There is one side of his arm that has a thick amount of drying blood on it. Meaning someone rolled him to his side, then rolled him back. Inside his coat he has an undone hidden pocket, this particular coat is designed to reveal the pocket only after a small thread is pulled from in back releasing the sewn closed pocket. Had the murderer done this he would have done it before laying the man down.”
            “Perhaps he couldn’t find what he was looking for and searched for it and figured it out and then flipped him over when he did.” The agent tried.
            “Except if he had been searching the body, both sides would have blood, and the opening of the coat would have hints of blood. There would also be blood in quite a few other places. Also, the blood would be thin, here it is thick, as if the body were already dead for some time. If he were searching the body he would have searched more than one direct place. In fact the murderer did not search the body at all.” I turned to the young man and looked him gently in the eyes. “So, Agent Darius, if you would hand over whatever it is that you took from your par…” I paused for a moment looking at Daruis’ small but unmistaken trio of pinhead sized birthmarks at the upper base of his thumb. I recognized them from earlier, back on the deceased.
            I began again “My mistake, and my apologies to you young Darius. Allow me to try again, if you would hand over whatever it is you took from your fathers coat, I would more easily be able to identify the man who murdered him. I understand how hard this must be to lose your partner, mentor, and father all in one series of events.” I whispered quietly to him. “Young man, I am your best chance of catching the one who did this.”
            The young man gritted his teeth and held back a frown that was trying to form past his lips. I could see him holding back tears as well. His eyes darted from me to Captain Jareed, to the first mate. Then he took control of his emotions. He held up his ring. “Master Inquisitor Jasper, I hereby requisition you as an official agent of the Country and King to aid in the investigation of this murder and that all information you obtain remain in the secrecy of the government and those witnesses here.”
            As was standard format for our countries customs, and what is normally considered the highest honor to be requisitioned by an agent, I kissed the ring and swore to the guidelines set by agent Darius, as did the first mate and Captain Jareed.
            The agent reached into his left inside pocket and pulled out an envelope. I took it, and looked at the three men. “Where were each of you individually when the murder took place?
            The first mate responded, “Agent Darius, myself, Captain Jareed, and about six others were at the helm of the ship. The agent here was asking us questions about security.” I glanced at the agent.
            “What security should you need know of?” I slowly opened the unsealed letter that he had given me.
            “Any place that breaches in security could form. I wanted to know about people who could get onboard, maybe stowaway, or lie about their identity. How well guarded the Kings Nephew is.” I nodded still listening and glanced down at the letter. I remained calm, though disturbing the letter was. It was a letter to the King, warning about corrupt agents in his government. This is definitely part of my mission.
            I then looked up, “Let me guess, you had hoped to get the Kings favorite nephew to give this in secrecy to the King. This way you two could avoid anyone who might intercept it before it got to the King. Since you are not high enough in your agency to be given an audience with the King, without going through proper channels? If you went through these channels, the information would likely get to the corrupt agents.” I glanced at the letter again. “Apparently you unsure exactly who the corrupt person is, only that they are of high rank.”  The young man only nodded. “Well, it’s obvious whoever you are worried about, knows you are here. It is clear that we have very little time. The Kings nephew is in danger. We must go now.
            The Captain’s response was immediate, he obviously didn’t understand how I knew this but if the Kings Nephew died on his ship, during his watch, on the grand opening of this ship, it would be certain doom to the Captain, and his family. Jareed lead the way through the ship rushing through the hallways, corridors, kitchen, decoration and storage areas, through side employee rooms, all the way to the grand suite. The royal guards here did not allow us in, until the young agent showed them his ring stating emergency, and they immediately stepped aside. We were quickly ushered through the door to see the Duke and his wife were just sitting down to eat. The Duke was startled and immediately got to his feet and looked at the group of us. “Excuse me?”
            I stepped forward calmly and quietly and smiled with a practiced bow. “Your grace, I apologize for the interruption, please allow me to introduce myself.  I am Master Inquisitor Jasper Landred of the City of Towers. This is Citadel Agent Darius. I am sure you know the captain and his first mate. We have it on good suspicion that you are in danger of your…” I stopped mid sentence as my eyes had finally registered everything in the room. The events that occurred up until this point came together with dots connecting. I then spoke again. “Sir, Madame, do not eat your food it is poisoned.”
            The sounds of people caught off guard and in disbelief filled the room. I ignored it and continued, “We just came through the working quarters and through the cook’s area, and if they had cooked this meal for you then they would have been cleaning the kitchen area as we passed. In fact there were no workers to be seen in any of the areas we were just at. The cooks and servers are all in the lower levels. I highly doubt that they would have cooked your food in the commoner kitchen or in the dining hall kitchen since that would have been too much work to haul it to you, especially with the security locked down. This food however had to have been cooked in one of those places, and somehow brought to you through the ship undetected.” I walked over to the plate of food and looked it over. I saw nothing. I smelled nothing. That was the key, I smelled nothing.
            “Agent Darius if you would hand me that candle there.” The young agent did as I asked. Slowly I lowered the open flame to the food and immediately in one quick poof, the entire tray ignited in flames for a brief few seconds, then the flames died out.
            “What on earth was that?” The Duke had asked.
            “Fillimores Toxin.” Darius responded as he slowly drew his concealed weapon. “Master Landred, how is it that you know of Fillimores Toxin?”
            I ignored the fact of a weapon being drawn “My young man, do you think this is the first time I have worked in my long life with Citadel Agents?” I responded. Then I turned to the Duke. “Your majesty, Fillimores Toxin is a poison that the Citadel developed during the last war, it’s a highly kept secret poison. The poison is part alchemical and part magical. It has no flavor and no scent and kills almost instantly on contact or ingestion. It’s best advantage is also it’s best hindrance, no scent. The poison is also highly flammable, and once it is used it tells the one who applied it that it has been used. Few know that if it is destroyed it will still notify as if it was used. Which means…”
            “…the murderer thinks you are dead.” Darius finished my sentence.
            “Captain Jareed, whoever the murderer is, he will have had to have gotten on board after we took off. We will need a list of everyone who has used the boarding room today.”
            The Captain responded quickly. “That’s easy, none, the boarding room hasn’t been finished, its magic doesn’t work, even if forced by outside magic, people would be refused entrance for security reasons.”
            I nodded, “then the answer is a simple one, Agent Darius go with Captain Jareed and find the one or ones responsible for ticket acceptance for level 3B. Arrest them immediately; I need to get something from my quarters. My lord Duke, if you would stay here and increase your guards.” They all nodded and we all headed out.
            I hurried quickly to make it to my level. This was far too frightening; I had to report this immediately. I got to my floor and immediately went to Luchin’s room and opened the door. There he sat in a chair looking over the ships layout with the warm sunlight coming in from the open window. He looked up at me. “Jasper? What’s going on? I have been waiting here forever.”
            “You are correct, there are corrupt citadel agents involved on this ship, and one has turned on the rest of the agency. There was an agent found upstairs dead.” I stated pacing a bit. I stopped and poured myself some wine to calm my nerves.
            “Settle down Xan, did you find the man, the killer?”
            “Well, The Duke, he was also poisoned. The murderer used Fillimore’s Toxin.” I stated.
            “It makes sense, a rogue Citedel Agent. How many of them are aboard.
            “Well, there were two, each partners, now one of the partners is dead.”
            “Good job, Jasper I take it his partner, the murderer, is now under arrest?”
            “Not yet, the murderer, well he almost escaped.” I paused calmly.
            “Really? That’s good news.” Luchin said smiling.
            I spoke again calmly, instead of irrationally as I had when I answered. “You see, the victims partner was his son, and he wasn’t actually there during the murder. It would have to have been one of the other two agents that are on this ship.” I stated directly, he didn’t seem lost yet so I continued. “We both know it wasn’t me who murdered him.” He nodded listening carefully. “The room where the murder took place was heavily guarded, and had only two entrances. One entrance had the doors completely shut and two guards watching at all times. If the door had been opened the guards would have seen it. At the other entrance, however, the doors were opened but still guarded, and lead to a dead end room; a room with only a window that led to nowhere but open sky, much like yours. The window edge however was covered in dirt, and scuffed gently. Likely from the bottom of some ones boots. This is a maiden voyage and everything else was spotless. That window should have been also been spotless,” I held up my white glove to him that was covered from when I pulled myself up by the window. “Had someone come in through that window the guards should have seen them still.” I watched his reaction. “Luchin, the dirt is from your shoes, left there when you came in through the window invisible. You walked right past the guards, snuck up behind the agent that was on to you. You knew he was here to see the Duke. The idea was to frame his partner. He being a citadel agent could have used that poison to kill the Duke, and you wanted me here as the Master Inquisitor to figure that out. You knew I would be able to identify the poison as a mere investigator, all evidence would have pointed to the only one on the ship left alive who was an agent.” I gritted my teeth, “However, Luchin your one flaw, was that you told me you came through the boarding room when you got here, the only thing is, the boarding room isn’t working, so you have been here since the ship left port.” I tossed the glass of wine to his feet covering his feet and dark red wine. Immediately he went invisible with the intent to escape. I felt him charge into me, he was smart enough now to know the red wine would leave a trail I could follow. Now his only option was to get rid of me and escape.
 We struggled back and forth, he constantly got the upper hand, hitting me, striking me, I was a bit preoccupied. He knew the old man was a disguise, but I could still seem weaker than I was. I tried to get my bearings straight, that is when he shoved me and I tripped grabbing him for leverage and we both went falling through the open window to the outside.
We tossed and tumbled through the air miles above ground. Plummeting to our death, finally he got a hold of me and kicked me away and started to laugh at me. He yelled across to me “Sorry Xan, but I had to get rid of them, and now you will fall to your death. You were a great agent, maybe the best. Now they will figure you as the murderer, since you will be dead from the fall. I will head up the investigation myself! All fingers point to the rogue agent who can change his shape and form” He reached into the inside of his pocket then paused and started patting himself down frantically. I smiled as I fell, calmly watching him panic. It was the moment he looked at me that he realized his mistake.
I yelled back to him “Sorry, but I knew how you planned on leaving the ship if things went bad. It’s the only reason you asked me for my one feather token back. What do you think I was doing when were fighting in the room?” I reached into my coat and pulled out the feather token that I pick pocketed during our fight. I guess being a thief in my past had its advantages. He screamed in terror realizing he was now going to fall to his death. I wasn’t sad about his death, I simply smiled at him and enacted the magical token that slowed my decent to that of a falling feather. I would land on the ground safely, just as planned. Of course I would have a lot of explaining to do, but Agent Darius with the aid of the Duke will be able to clear the mess up, and Jasper, the well known Master Inquisitor will still be just an Inquisitor. It’s the perfect cover for a spy like me.
            
A good visual aid of Jasper (Xan's Character)