Smuggler on the hunt

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Smuggler on the hunt

Postby vipor » March 12th, 2019, 6:57:14 am

There was no point in yelling or cursing. The bars of the cell are too strong to break and freaking out would only hide obvious solutions. It is best to use this time to think of where everything went wrong.

With a soft sigh Alethin closes his eyes and starts sorting out the facts he knew.
The love potion he bought was the failed recipe Remy made 4 years ago, a recipe that was banned for being too strong. The potion he ordered was one that gives a better chance of bonding with creatures.
This potion would have been of great help to the younger magi who are trying to bond with a more skittish or aggressive creature. For a price of course.

Then there is the act his secret trading route had been found out. Which still sounds off.
Adela would have smelled a stranger on the path. True a flying steed wouldn’t leave a trace for her to find or use a bird to find and report the trail. The latter seems less feasible. But where there is a will there is a way.
That has been true for him so why not for others.

Now it would be easy to put all blame on Remy. Everybody knows they never get along. Most of the merchant guild would rather see Alethin go. Until they need something from him.
But this is not Remy’s style.

A soft sound like paper on sand pulls Alethin from his thoughts. A smile forms on his lips as he sees Adela slitter through a window and towards the cell. In her mouth she held a small glass vial, about the size of an egg. Adela gentle released the vial in Alethin’s hand. The note on the vials neck was simply ‘Ilikatal acid’
The bottle was already getting slightly warm as the ilikatal’s stomage acid was starting to damage the bottle it was in.
“Better move aside Adela.”
As the black cobra moves a distance away, tasting the air with her tongue to ensure no one in near, Alethin carefully drops some acid on the hinges and lock of his cell. It would have been so much easier if his cell was located against a wall. But for some reason the guards thought he would be able to escape that way.

Placing the vial on the ground Alethin grabs the cell door and gives it a light push. The door was already starting to give way. Pausing for a few moments to make sure he could not hear any guards making rounds. Feeling secure he gives the door a stronger push and with a dull clunk the hinges break free.
It takes a few valuable moments to slip out of the cell without catching any of the acid on his clothes, taking the vial with him and placing the door back. The vial still have a few moments before it becomes a danger and when it does, he just have to take the note around the neck with him or have it dissolve in the acid.

The few doors that stood in his way where quickly takes care off with some of the acid in the locks. Once he heard a guard coming his way. Hiding in a dark corner with Adela wrapped around his head to hide his skin, he would listen to the footsteps come near and disappear around a corner. It seems like the guards are dealing with other prisoners or their own needs.
Which serves Alethin just right.

Most people escaping would aim for the quickest route out of there, which in this case would be through the barracks. Which is why they tend to be recaptured right away. These people don’t have the same connections as Alethin however.
As silent as possible Alethin makes it up the stairs, away from the barracks and into the north guard tower.

He freezes in front of the door to the guard room. There was some movement inside. Adela slitters closer to the door to taste the scent and looks back at Alethin. She lowers her hood slightly as to tell Alethin to calm down. Trusting his friend he opens the door and spots the only occupant of the room. A guard he has dealt with a lot in the past. As in almost twice a month to get into and out of the city.

The guard gives Alethin a quick glance. “I never saw you here so you better get going.”
There were many things Alethin wanted to ask, but he knows this is not the time for any of them. So he closes the door behind him and moves over to the ladder to get to the rooftop.
“For the record, I never ratted you out. All the guard shifts are changing in time and location. Be on your guard.” With a nod Alethin climbs further. Knowing that he has no time to sort out if this info is truth or lie at the moment.

On the rooftop he is greeted by a dark Pegasus. A few amagnae feathers are stuck in and under its saddle. Alethin carefully greets the beast before plucking out the stray feathers. No sense in leaving evidence to who helped his jailbreak.
As Adela makes it onto the rooftop the Pegasus whinnies softly out of fear. Quickly Alethin grabs the reigns and calms the Pegasus down. “Adela will not harm you. We just need a ride and you can return to Torren again. Shush now.”
As Alethin calms the Pegasus, Adela wraps herself around her master’s torso. Alethin quickly climbs in to the saddle and prays for the best as the still frightened Pegasus leaps into the air.

The Pegasus seems to know where to go, which leads Alethin to think more of what could have happened. Without losing sight of his surroundings.
It could be possible one of his customers betrayed him. The fang he gives each of his chosen customer’s glows when they come near his cart.
But with business booming as they are, it is near impossible to find all of them. And even when he finds them, it doesn’t mean they would have the fang on them. It could have been stolen from them.
With a shake of his head he dismisses the last thought. They know how valuable the fang is and they are not likely to have it somewhere it can be stolen quickly.
And with Adela nearby none has shown up with someone else or has been trailed.
The fangs would lead to a death end. Unless he can find and replace each one with a brand new token. Which would be more problematic than it would solve anything.

After flying over the forest for a while the Pegasus turns to land in one of the few glades.
As he climbs off the Pegasus takes almost immediate flight. Causing Alethin to duck to avoid the massive wing. Adela unwraps herself from his torso and rises up as far as possible, hood open and hissing in anger and the departing Pegasus.

Alethin has more interest in what is in the glade and it takes him a few moments before he spots what he is looking for. His wagon and his two alpaca’s hitched securely to it. Both are munching on some nearby flowers. Nearby there is a figure who stands in a circle of flattened grass. Most likely cause by pacing back and forth.

As Alethin calmly but carefully walks towards the figure, Adela loses interest in the out of reach Pegasus and starts checking the area. “Talyn, you managed to get my wagon out of the city.”
Talyn nods and seems to relax slightly. “It wasn’t easy to convince them the wagon was mine. In the end I had to bribe them with gold and two of those new eggs you had stored. I know, I know. But I toke the two that already showed signs of hatching. Hopefully hatch and run away before the guards can do anything with them.” With a small sigh Talyn looks at Adela. “You were very lucky, you know? If my travel had taken longer I would not have been able to see Adela in my room.”

Alethin gives a slight nod. Losing two eggs was still better than losing the entire wagon. Silently he check out the wagon. Taking extra care to look like he is just checking the state of the new eggs. Others were also showing signs of hatching soon. It might still be possible to sell some of them before they hatch and make some money back. It was luck that Talyn managed to get the wagon to safety, but it was best to not count on luck. Too many things can go wrong that way.
As far as he could see, the rest of the wagon was in normal order. A bit less organized than he liked, but for a rush packing job it was pretty well done. There were a few pieces he could not recognize right away. Something that seemed like a mechanical snake which was broken. Lifting up a piece he can see a long pressure dent as if a certain big snake wrapped herself around it and broke it.
Something to deal with on a later date. If it was a way to track him before, it was now completely broken.

Adela slithered into the wagon and Talyn climbs onto the seat. Taking a last look around the wagon Alethin climbs into the other seat and urges the alpaca’s to start moving. It is best to leave the area for the time being. There are several small paths, but Alethin knows the best path to leave the area while staying off the beaten track.

A glint of metal appears in the bushes of the trail, causing Alethin and Talyn to freeze for a moment before Kepper, Talyn’s rekel, reveals herself. “Ah, Kepper. Are there people on the trail?”
Kepper shakes her head either in a no or to shake some of her metal ‘fur’ loose. But Talyn seems to be at ease by this. “Clear riding for a good while. If you want to rest, I can take the reins for a while.”

Alethin gives Talyn a sidelong glance. Knowing full well that if he gives the reins to Talyn, there is no chance of them arriving in a useful place. Or any place not completely lost or back in jail.

The road was longer than normal. Having to discard his usual hidden routes and having to plan a new path. Alethin’s map, full of paths no human, magi or otherwise, has traveled gave many options. Many of which had to be discarded due to danger, too small for the cart or too close to a migratory path currently in use.

At times they left the wagon hidden, guarded by Adela and Kepper, while they joined a travelers camp for the night. Selling the occasional near hatching egg for food or information.
Slowly small seemingly unconnected snippets of info seemed to link together into a tapestry that contained Alethin’s recent bad luck.

It has not been that long since the magi of the keep started passing farther beyond the Alasre Mountains through other means than the mountain pass junction to Silva forest.
The cities of Triathe, Theia and Ageti, who have been in relative isolation of the rest of the land, now all see an influx of magi travelers. Though most magi seem to ignore Triathe and Theia for the time being. As these two cities are far more fearful of the magi and their companions.
But each time a magi or merchant brings information or new treasures, actual treasure or in the shape of eggs, there is information send to these cities.

Apparently many of the magi had talked about the drinks Remy made. How each one was a work of art and how he could seem to craft thousands of barrels with ease. Others would mention of the magical snowflakes only they could see after certain drinks.
Apparently a few bars have gotten pretty irked about all of this.
To be honest, Alethin had heard some of this before. Someone in the wealthy part of Ageti had asked him to acquire some of Remy’s recipes. A job he had pushed aside. Just because he is a seller of rare and special items, doesn’t mean he is a lowly thief.

It also turns out that a few months ago a certain recipe book had been stolen from Remy. True, no one had cared too much about it as the book mostly contained failed recipes. Like a cocktail that was imbuded with a phoenix feather. Apparently it had the habit of burning nose hair the moment the drinker exhaled. Most likely the love potion drink was written down in that book as well.

Which would lead to the following questions.
Who wanted the book stolen?
Who had the most to lose?
Who found his road and how?
And who switched the barrels he ordered with those of the illegal love potion.

All of these questions could be answered in one place.
Ageti.

Alethin watches Talyn talk loudly with the others around the campfire.
It would be best for them to go their separate ways again. Talyn had an uncanny skill of getting into trouble.



It toke the better part of a week to return to Ageti. Using the caves in the mountians to hide during the heat of the day and to avoid unwelcome eyes. Taking the time to investigate the mechanical snake scraps. It didn’t seem to have any way of sending signals, but there could always be something to it in a missing piece. So for safety Alethin locked it up in a small chest.

In one of these caves he found a surprise of one of his customers. A keatus hatchling in a tank. To purify water for drinking.
On some occasions tundra tylluan’s landed on his wagon with a cheerful clicking of their beaks. White ones during the day and black ones during the night.

At one night Alethin heard shrieking of a tylluan in the air and quickly his the wagon in a cave.
No patrol came by, but when returning to the spot in the next morning he found something interesting. A few feathers of black tylluans and one of the fangs he gave to his customers. This one was sealed in a piece of resin with a hole for a thin rope.

For a moment he stands there, clenching the resin sealed fang in his hand.
Someone had used a black tundra tylluan with this fang to find his caravan. Having the bird fly around and waiting for the fang to glow in the darkness. By staying high enough it would be possible to stay hidden from Adela and not leave a trace on the ground.

Turning towards the mountains he gives a light nod in thanks to the customers that had send the other tylluans to keep guard. And thankful they thought of this way of tracking him. Which also unnerves him.
If so many of his customers thought of this, there would be many others to think of this as well.

The weather was already dry, causing much of the plants near Taggelisk to start dying off. Forcing Alethin and the wagon to travel closer to the river Tag.
Most of the day is empty of surprises, till the end of noon.

A magi seems to be waiting besides a large boulder. On his arm is a young ice phoenix while a sleeping black tundra tylluan is nestled on the saddle of a black confera Pegasus. At his feet is a black raza cobra, though smaller than Adela. As the wagon draws cautiously near, the magi jumps of the builder with a smile and takes a glowing fang out of his pocket. “You are amongst friends here Alethin. When my tylluan told me you where nearby I had to wait for you.” Putting the fang back in his pocket he points to the black cobra, who on closer inspection seems to be coated in a soot mixture. With some of the soot breaking off on the belly. “Some of us have started coating our raza’s to resemble Adela. It is hard to track one black cobra if there are hundredths slithering around. There are a lot of your customers trying to help out.”

An annoyed squeak of the phoenix seems to slow down the magi who had begun to speak faster and faster. “Sorry about that. I’m supposed to be exploring Taggelisk for the golden syndicate. But I do have something for you. Most of us here who heard of your plight bought some of this.”
Digging through his pocket the magi finds a large vial of blue ink. “Some have ink, other carry dye. But the idea is the same. You can use it to dye Adela to more resemble a northern raza. Here they don’t know the right color anyway so it is easier for her to blend in. And for you to stay more hidden.”
Alethin takes the vial and holds it up to the light. Trying to discern any danger in the vial. “Thank you for this and the tylluan help.”
The magi smiles and walks back to his Pegasus, picking up the raza on his way. “Your welcome. I better keep going. Can’t be the only one to end up with nothing to show for a day’s work.”

“Wait, have there been any strange things happening around here lately?”
The magi stands still for a moment with one foot in the stirrups. “Strange things…. A few of the Alvean’s seem more... Annoyed lately. But these people always seem annoyed whenever a magi is around.” Climbing into the saddle he looks back at Alethin again. “There was a bar in the wealthy part of Ageti that had an accident. They claimed they were making a new drink that backfired. The thing is. The explosion wasn’t fire, it was ice. Lucky it melted quickly and no great damage was done. Apart from the damage done to the bar. The bar was called the…. Gilded phoenix. After the golden plate with a phoenix engraved on it that gave the owner enough wealth to start the bar.”

With a wave the magi pressed his knees into the sides of the Pegasus. “Stay safe and till next time.”

Alethin nods in greeting as he pushes the alpaca’s to start moving again. The magi had a good idea about hiding Adela. Though he wasn’t sure he would dye her. It was easier to just keep her hidden in the wagon as a surprise to all who try to steal from him.
But the magi had given him valuable information. It seems like the stolen recipe book ended up in Ageti where the failed recipe made an impact on the local population.

But there were still too many unknowns and an unknown is dangerous.

Reaching Ageti proper toke less time than normal. The magi had been true to his word that there are many of them scouting around taggelisk.
On a few occasions a possible predator was scared away by a gryphon or hippogryph. On other occasions water just too deep to travel through safely had receded just far enough for travel.
Some of the magi hang around long enough to give a big wave. Which could ‘accidently’ be spotted by others. Others only gave no signal or just a curt nod.
Of course there is also the question if they are helping him because they are his customers or because he is a lone wagon in a dangerous place.

Still, Alethin made sure to keep an eye on his surroundings. Best to be careful.

A night falls Alethin parks the wagon is the poorer section of Ageti. Hidden by a trading partner.
Not that loyalty has much to do with their comradery. Both had enough on the other to be stuck in jail for the rest of their lives. Betray the other and serve the same fate.

All of the new eggs had hatched during the travel, but the shells they left behind could still be turned into a small profit. Each shimmered with a pearly white which could be used in jewelry. If the craftsmen where careful enough.
But now was the time to walk the streets and get more leads. Which was easier said than done.

In the old days he could walk around in safety. But now the magi are around and while many mean no harm in it, they often wander into the dark alleyways looking for secret merchants.
Another pair of magi just wandered into the alley. One with a nicori in his arms and the other with a hyper direwolf pup running around her. The direwolf could have smelled him, but the pup was more interested in the nicori who was getting more and more annoyed.
“I don’t know. Do you really think we would find any notes in this place? If I where him I would lay low. Like in Boreus.”
The nicori magi shakes his head. “Snakes tend to stand out more in an ice area than in more lush environments. Why are we even doing this anyway? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the guy, but don’t you think large groups of magi running around trying to find him ruins his attempts to stay low? All guards have to do is find out where the most foreign magi are hanging around and focus their attention there.”
“But we have to help!” “No! Tomorrow we can do one last expedition into taggelisk, but then we leave this area. Even if we find him, we are more likely to cause trouble for him. And before you say anything. Remember the time you ‘helped’ me with the kraken. Or the time brewing a potion and you wanted to add more…. I have no idea what you were thinking.”
The nicori mage turned and made his way out of the alleyway. Followed a few moments later by the direwolf magi.
Good intentions, horrible execution.


As he slowly made his way to different bars Alethin starts to notice the larger presence of the golden syndicate. They had been growing in power slowly for the last few years. Their power started growing faster with the magi having their expeditions into taggelisk. Which would be a free and easy way of money.

Still, what does he have at the moment against them?
They tried to hire him to steal a book from Remy.
Bigger supply of money.
Increasing presence.
Control over what the rich children learn in syndicate schools.
And a jungle of secrets full of rare eggs and discoveries they have more or less control over.

Alethin turns to look into the direction taggelisk is in. Hidden from view by the buildings.
What did the magi discover in the area again?
Staying in the shadows he let his mind wander over all the conversations and rumors he had heard.
There was an unnatural river of purest blue leading into a lake. The river itself formed ancient writing.
An unnatural glade where the grass would not stand up straight and Talyn’s secret stash of carvings.
There was a patch of quicksand. Not many want to talk about it, mentioning it was a bad place. But it seems to have some kind of dragon statue.
Alethin snaps his fingers. It was the tomb of Venen. There are legends in Ageti about the poison wyrm god.
An ancient mine, sealed off in ages past. Most likely after one to many flooding’s that killed miners.
There is a pond near a river covered tick with algae and covered by strange winds which contains offering plates of some kind of water phoenix.

Still, none of this explains anything.
If they want to control the flow of rare eggs from taggelisk they would not let magi and the poor run free.
What do they do with the artifacts that are found anyway?
Sure most of the magi keep a few of the items themselves as mementos, but the majority goes to the golden Syndicate. Who will determine the value of the pieces and give 85% of the value to the keep, minus the price of the egg they give the magi. Officially in the shape of gold. More common in the shape of rare supplies or copied ancient text for the keep to study.

Which means they control the information the magi get. Which eggs are presented and what information is kept secret. Not many legends and stories have come from Ageti to the keep. Most of the people here are more interested in hearing what the magi have to tell in grand stories than tell their own old legends or ancient beliefs. And the magi tend to be willing to tell them about every little thing.

But all this thinking only leads to one thing. That the golden syndicate might be trying to start a coup or has a long term plan to get this area completely under their control. Which proofs nothing and has no real dealing with him.
Unless.


Of the creatures he managed to procure, the most likely culprits for his sudden ‘infamy’ would be the Somni deshkivari. But those were obtained to long ago to become a trouble now. Not to mention there was no real way of linking him to Somni as he never set foot there.
The rest of the creatures came from the north or tetzcotal.
So it is not like he endangered the trade of the syndicate.

But looking at it from another point. What has his capture ensured?
The latest eggs he acquired never reached the magi.
A decent chunk of his customers are racing around to help him. Both helpful and not.
His business partners are keeping their ears open and are lying low as well. In the sense they are not trying to find or buy strange new eggs.

Not just that. The one who brewed the potions he bought, to help the magi bond with more aggressive or skittish creatures also worked in a bar. The gilded phoenix.
Which was how she managed to get two ale barrels from the bar to put the potion in till he could pour it into smaller vials near the keep.

With new certainty Alethin starts walking towards the location of the ex-gilded phoenix. The one he bought the eggs from had mentioned something of finding these eggs near a stunning lake and smiled at any other questions. But the place had told Alethin a few more things.
The ferns that where wrapped around the eggs where coming in Taggelisk. Several eggs where in baskets woven in patterns only the Ageti people weave. The eggs had been found by the poor people living near the water front. Trying to earn enough to live and move to a safer area.

The golden syndicate gently pushed the magi to explore far and wide, to find as many artifacts as possible. Which kept many from the magi from staying too long in one area. None of them believed that they would stumble upon something truly ancient or be the one to find some ancient temple. So why bother?

The people of Ageti are happy to have the magi around to help out, but there is still distrust. So they are not likely to bring any eggs they find to the magi. It would be devastating if they would bring an egg that is common and assume to get a big reward for it.
The syndicate also offers gold for any egg that is found, but not all people in Ageti trust them. So they would rather sell them for a lower price to someone they trust.
Someone who is most likely selling it to the syndicate on the sly side.

So, allowing some thoughts to run free, if the syndicate wanted to control a newly discovered creature. All they had to do was get all present eggs, ensure any new ones would go to them. Use the bonding potion to get them to bond to members of the syndicate. Then use them to either leverage more knowledge from the keep or get some form of control over them. Either way, it would increase the power of the syndicate.

But that doesn’t explain one thing. Why did he end up with the banned love potion?
There were other ways of getting rid of him that don’t involve hoping someone would see what drink or potion is in a ale barrel.

It was not hard to find the gilded phoenix. Many people where still attracted to the remains of the building to gossip and speculate about what had happened in there.
Some think one of the magi was refused a drink or had a drink spilled on him or her and cursed the place.
Another gossip revolves around the weird lady in the basement abusing the distilling equipment to create explosives.
While others believe the bar owner was drunk off his gourd and fell asleep with the equipment still burning.

But not everything was mindless gossip. When the bar exploded, for lack of a better word, the bar owner was fatality wounded. The mix mistress Alethin came to find was transported to a golden syndicate hospital, suffering from frost burn. Or so they say.
When dealing on the shadow side it is wise to sprinkle a big scoop of salt on notices like this.

Still, trying to enter a hospital run by the golden syndicate who may or may not be after his recent infortune might not be the best of all ideas right now. As long as there are other options at least.

Using the shadows Alethin manages to get closer to the remains of the bar.
He did not know everything about the mix mistress, but she did mention that she would most likely be at the bar when he would look for her. As she spends more time there than at her actual home.

But it is dangerous to go in there. There are chances of it collapsing or for being discovered in there.
Calmly and on guard he walks back to the poorer area. There are people enough who are willing to go fetch a notebook he ‘forgot’ in the bar. For the right price.

Some might assume being in a bar all day would be a waste of time. But these people where either short sighted or only interested in drinking themselves into a stupor.
Just by listening to the other patrons Alethin was able to learn a few more things.

The golden syndicate had been visiting the mix mistress quite a few times over the last few weeks. Less friendly over time. Most likely it was because of her potion mixing skills. Alethin was not one to call her out on it, but even after meeting her once he knew she would put the current knowledge of potions on its head before taking it for a spin. But being stuck in a laboratory was not for her. She liked having people around her expecting nothing more than a badly mixed drink to get drunk as fast as possible. Expectations paralyzed her. It was the reason it had taken him so long to get her to share her potion with her and longer to get her to make the large batch. But the syndicate would not take no for an answer. Just like Alethin. But they would go much farther in their means to an end.
All he could be proud off was that no one would ever be able to press him to reveal her identity. It is impossible to reveal what you don’t know.
It is safer that way. Always has been and always will.

In the end it wasn’t till dawn that some of the hired kids managed to get into the bar and it wasn’t until noon that they came to the bar where Alethin left a contact to take the notebooks. It then toke from noon till night to go through all the notebooks, many fakes, to find the actual book.

It was slightly damaged as if it was stuck inside a wall on a regular base. Not knowing her handwriting made things a lot harder, but the type of recipe’s that where written in there was only likely for the mix mistress to write about. Everything else was about trading, travel route, about taggelisk and other things.

Still the piles of notebooks also had another find. It was severely damaged but the handwriting was one he knows well. Remy’s stolen recipe book. It was just missing half of the pages and most of them seemed to have been pulled out.

It takes some time before Alethin found the recipes used, both the one he ordered and the one he received. Most of the ingredients where the same, just a few different ratio’s and with one a different treatment for an ingredient.
With the illegal love potion a certain fruit, a forlorn berry, is juiced and a drop is placed in the glass.
Or mixed into the big barrel in this case. With the ordered potion it is boiled and the juices distilled before mixing it with the purest spring water in which the other ingredients will be mixed.
This does not seem like a big difference, but one berry can make 20 glasses of the love potion, while for the other 20 berries are needed for 1 vial.

Returning to his wagon Alethin goes through a small book of rare fruits and berries a magi once gave him. A weak attempt to trade it for a breeding potion, but the kid had guts and already spend all his gold on the mystery bags that month. So he allowed it for that one time.
Seems like it came in handy after all this time.

Forlorn berry. Though many disagree on the name of the berry, most refer to it by this name. It is a berry some opaline synaran aericorns grow when they are half asleep and well groomed. Or when they are slightly starved of sweet fruits. Or maybe there is no real rhyme or reason to it.
All that is truly known is that only a few opaline’s seem to grow these berries and only when they choose to. Bribing the creatures has no positive effect in their ability to grow them.
The most famous crop of these berries was grown by a few opaline’s on a field visited by citellan. About half the crop was plucked while the creatures began to make short work of the plants.
When plucked these rare berries are sold for high prices, if the gardener can avoid the wrath of the opaline’s.

Closing the book a few more things become clear.

The creation of the banned love potion was an attempt to create a ‘cheaper’ version of the potion to foster a quicker relationship with aggressive or skittish creatures.
The golden syndicate had found out about the potion skills if the mix mistress and where aiming to have her work for them.
The golden syndicate was not happy with Alethin for collecting the new eggs and bringing them to the magi. With it spreading the knowledge of a new species previously unknown to the magi.
Either the barrels where switched on purpose to give an extra reason for people to jail Alethin.
Or, what might also be possible, these where the barrels he wanted, but she didn’t have enough forlorn berries to make the actual potion.
With s shake he dismisses the last thought. When he visited her the last time she had a quite few barrels full of the berries. So she would have had enough.

Which means that she made both potions and someone switched the barrels. Someone who knew both Alethin and the golden syndicate.
Someone who also had the reach to ensure his capture would only happen near the keep. Away from these lands where the magi could stumble on something the syndicate strives to keep hidden.

Almost mindlessly Alethin opens Remy’s recipe book. Leaving through the pages still there. Most of them were calculations or information scribbles about ingredients. But something was starting to dawn on him. Some notes were in different handwriting. Deeper into the booklet he finds another name. Remy mentions in the book he would ask Castorz for help.
Castorz is someone he heard of before. Someone he tends to avoid. Advisor and best friend of the Thane, Castorz the potion master.

So most likely the situation is this.
The golden syndicate has realized they had a potion mixer who was bound for greatness in their city that they wanted to control.
Something they would not be able to do normally. So they had to kidnap her in such a way the population would not bat an eye at it.
They also wanted to keep their discovery in tagelisk hidden, eggs included, from the magi. Which meant that the one harboring a bunch of them had to disappear. Eggs included.
If Talyn hadn’t been able to move the wagon when he did, there might not have been a wagon to return to.

There are only two things left. Who is pushing the golden syndicate to do any of this? And how did they find his trail in the city.
The tylluan with the fang attached to its claw was a way to track him in the distance, but you first need to know where to start looking.

As he checks on the wagon and spends some time caring for his creatures, he can hear Adela hiss menacing. But even with his keen eyes it takes a while to find what she is hissing at.
A small flock of green long butterflies.
As the moonlight catches one in the light he recognizes the creature. A birdwing lunestre dragon. Little creatures with keen eyes that can see heat in the darkness. Nocturnal, flame spitting and with more magic than you like to imagine.
Thinking back he did spot more lunestre dragons on his recent travels. Always out of reach and never interfering with his travels, or those of other people on the road.
But this does open the chance of being spotted a real threat.

All someone has to do is train a group of these lunestre’s to find traveling wagons, both alone as in a group. When a target has been found they would sit somewhere high up rogether.
The tylluan with the claw would visit each group of lunestre’s and their trainer can just sit back and see at which group the claw lights up.
Ingenious, annoying and dangerous for his travels, but still ingenious.
Which does mean he would have to find a way to keep those lunestre’s away from him.
But for now he has to blend more in with the people around him. He switches his normal cloak for an ratty one, placing his alpaca’s in the care of a trusted caretaker of more alpaca’s in trade for excess of their wool. Followed by ensuring Adela has a way in and out of the shed.
With these preparations done he moves to the poor area and hides out as another traveler with high hopes of striking rich.

It wasn’t until a few days of back breaking work later that he learned a few more things.
A potion brewer called Mordecai had long ago been banned from the keep after trying to kill a fellow magi. Something the people here didn’t know.
What they do know is that a potion brewer called Mordecai arrived in Ageti years ago. Barely surviving the trip through taggelisk in the dry season. He met the golden syndicate and quickly proved his worth by crafting special potions.
There are whispers that Mordecai is the reason some of the more influential people who were against the syndicate started to get sick. Other claim that those people where just old, or gotten ill some other way.
A stranger coming to the city is not always the reason why people get sick. Many people would have gotten sick even if the stranger never showed up.
Still Mordecai became a trusted part of the golden syndicate and the interests of the syndicate grew with his presence. They started to collect plants and barks from tagelisk. Creatures that have no real value and a weird obsession with koi eggs.

Returning to his wagon and colleting his creatures, Alethin get ready to leave a city which revealed itself to be much more dangerous than it first seemed. With Mordecai being a part of the golden syndicate, there is a big chance he would eventually turn his attention back to the keep. And with his new collection of poisons he will turn into a massive threat.
On the one hand this is information the magi should know. For a price or blind eye to his dealings.
On the other hand, Mordecai has nothing against him personally. All of this happened just because he toke those eggs with him. But it was best to start to trek back towards the keep. Outside the reach of the golden syndicate.
On the road he will decide what to do with this information. But for now, he needs to think.

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Re: Smuggler on the hunt

Postby lordwinnie » March 12th, 2019, 9:19:43 am

This is so good!
“Many of life’s failures
are people who did not realize
how close they were to success
when they gave up.”
– Thomas A. Edison
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Re: Smuggler on the hunt

Postby vipor » March 12th, 2019, 10:20:05 am

^^ Glad you liked it.

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Re: Smuggler on the hunt

Postby javalady » March 18th, 2019, 6:49:50 am

Really captivating!
\Not all who Wander are lost/

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