Sep 20, 2021 4:53 AM
Naima and Elie
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She pulls the letter out of her pack. "Was it Charles-Alexandre Altan de Tarne-Morgayn?"

(Gonna feel stupid if the letter was entirely unrelated but that is not the point right now.)

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Nodnodnod. 

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"Okay. Um. - cardinal directions." If he knows where he is then she can ask if it's north of Sothis, and then whether it's east, and then if it's not east - "Is the ship bound for Cheliax?"

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shiver. nod. 

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"Okay." It is not really okay. Think. Probably not possible to catch the ship - perhaps if there were some spell that could turn her into a bird for hours, but she's not going to figure something like that out before the ship has made it to its destination - and she still doesn't know where that destination is, Cheliax is big - she would need to find information about what ship it was - or maybe figure out where they are once they get there, but by then it'll be in Cheliax, and at that point there's very little to stop them from maledictioning him, those are the stakes here -

"Do you know - do you know when the ship left Osirion." If he does she can follow up and determine whether it was yesterday or earlier today, and whether it was morning, midday, evening, or late at night.

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Well. He knows when he was kidnapped. Early evening.  He isn't sure how long he was unconscious, or if the ship had already left he woke up there – 

Think. This is a big ship – at least it's big enough to hide him. They wouldn't want to stand out. And ships don't typically leave port after dark if it can possibly be avoided. They'd have waited for the tide to go out, not that he has any idea when that is, maybe Naima does, but sometime this morning anyway.

Nod. 

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Well, if the ship left this morning that's something to go on, anyway. "It can't be very far away. We have a little bit of time to figure something out. I can go to the church and see if they have shipping records that they're willing to disclose. Probably Shawil can help." If she can find Shawil. They haven't been in contact for the past few weeks. And it's night, now, and she's wearing men's clothes, and even if the relevant temple is open at this hour, going there in men's clothes is a great way to get herself detained and make sure nobody is willing to listen to her afterward - 

"We'll figure something out, okay? I'll get the others and we'll figure out how to get you out of there before you get to Cheliax."

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Nod. 

You can't teleport to a moving target. Overland Flight is a fifth circle spell, and even then it'd take a day and a night just to catch up. They might be able to charter a faster ship but he can't imagine what captain would be willing to risk his vessel against some unknown number of diabolists. If they can find out if the ship is bound for Westcrown or Corentyn or Ostenso – it probably still wouldn't be worth it to rescue him from his own stupid mistake. 

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"Well."

If she were him she would probably want - more reassurances that things are going to be okay.

She is not very good at giving reassurances that things are going to be okay.

 

"Do you want me to keep talking until the scry runs out?"

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Nod. 

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"Okay.

"We're going to figure something out. I don't think the Church of Abadar is likely to be very helpful until morning," in large part because she's a woman, "but I'm at the temple of the All-Seeing Eye right now, and - it's possible that someone here has some ideas for how one might catch a moving ship? I'm not thinking of anything obvious on twenty seconds of thought, but there are a lot of things I haven't heard of. It's not like this is likely to be a problem that nobody's ever had before. I'm trying to think whether there's a way to leverage talking to animals - there probably is, if I can find ones smart enough to execute a plan - and we have time to catch up, if I can think of something before you get much further out - "

Sigh. This is probably not comforting at all.

"I will figure something out. We are not going to let you go to Hell. Okay?"

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The Nethysite priests might be able to think of something, but he's not optimistic. If there was a convenient way for a wizard to catch a moving ship they'd have figured it out ten years ago and naval warfare would look very different. Malediction is fourth circle. It's cheap. It's the obvious thing to do. Naima is telling him a white lie because she doesn't want him to be afraid. He has no reason to believe her. 

But somehow, to his own surprise, he finds that he does. 

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She would probably be more uncertain about whether she could pull this off if she didn't expect uncertainty to get in the way, but failure is unacceptable, and she is not willing to do anything that might make it harder to succeed.

"Are you hurt?" she asks, even though there is nothing she can do about it and it is not really relevant to any plan she could possibly come up with. She can't really think of anything else to say. And she wants to know.

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He ...honestly had not thought about it. Too much else on his mind. Now that it's salient, sure, one of his arms feels out of joint and he thinks his wrists are bleeding. Nothing serious. He shakes his head, because, absurdly, given the givens, he doesn't want her to worry. 

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" - good. That's good. I assume you're not very comfortable, but - just hang on for a few days." She doesn't actually know how long it takes to get to Westcrown or Corentyn or Ostenso. She should be planning as if it's Ostenso. But it's still - she's got to have at least a few days.

"We'll get there as soon as we can."

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He knows she will. He doesn't need to say that that could easily be too late. 

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The scry cuts out. She stares at her blank scrying mirror for a few seconds.

 

The ship left between eight and fifteen hours ago. That is close enough to catch, perhaps, if a fast enough method of transit can be found. It may very well not be close enough to catch in the morning, if the destination is Ostenso. Ostenso is not so very far away. Four days, maybe. Could be five. That doesn't leave very much time to catch up, and the distance she would have to make up is increasing every minute.

She needs a sending. Two sendings. Needs to get the rest of the group together. Needs to think, needs to come up with a method  that might work, the priests of Nethys will not respect her enough to help if she can't even demonstrate having thoughts. She will need to buy a scroll of teleport. The hard part is going to be getting close enough to Élie to teleport him back to Sothis. She can't just teleport onto the ship, because it's moving, and there is a very great chance that the spell will simply fail, even if she's scrying the place she wants to go at the same time. She will have to find another way.

She could try to talk some dolphins into catching up to the ship, and then tell the dolphins to stop just ahead, and scry one of the dolphins, and teleport to the dolphins, at which point she can turn into a dragonfly and fly to where Élie is. - this is not going to work, because even if she could convince dolphins to help her, and even if they were fast enough, they wouldn't know what direction to go in; dolphins don't understand human things like which of the many settlements on the Inner Sea she means when she talks about Ostenso. It might not even be Ostenso, and if she gets stuck in the middle of the ocean with no ship to catch, then she and Élie are dead, and that's no help to anyone at all.

She could buy a cloak of the manta ray, if one exists in this city, although she'd probably have to pawn her headband for a heartbreaking price to make it work, especially if the Church of Abadar won't let her take that much out of her accounts without Shawil, and especially if they refuse to do business with her at night. She has no idea whether manta rays are faster than dolphins (perhaps she could catch up if she didn't sleep? but ships don't sleep, it's still a question of relative speeds - ), and also no idea why she would think herself better at directions than the dolphins would be. If she ends up off course by even a little bit, then she might not be able to find the ship before it reaches Cheliax, and then what is she going to do - 

She might be able to scry Felix. It is possible that Felix followed - he certainly didn't come get her, although of course it's also possible that Felix did not escape at all and is now dead - and it is possible that he can be communicated with, and it is possible that he can be convinced to stand still long enough for her to teleport to him, although Felix is not a water bird and she's not even sure if he can rest on the surface of the water like a duck. Maybe he would immediately drown, and you can't scry a drowned bird, now, can you.

She wonders whether that's enough ideas to demonstrate to a priest of Nethys that she isn't a complete idiot. 

She could ask Nefreti Clepati for input. Nefreti Clepati is very old and very powerful and presumably very busy, but people say that she knows almost everything, and there can't be very much harm in asking, can there, it's not like 'I'm trying to keep my adventuring companion from unjustly going to Hell via Chelish execution' is a laughably petty reason -

She considers whether she should change clothes first, and ultimately decides that it is more respectful to break the law openly, because you think that you have a very good reason, than to break the law in a way that suggests you think yourself clever enough to get away with it. (The clerics of Nethys are, in any case, presumably somewhat less likely to immediately hand her over to the authorities than the clerics of Abadar would be, at least as long as she can demonstrate that she has a difficult problem to solve and is looking to solve it with creative application of magic.) She finds a closet and changes back into her own clothes, then circles around to the other side of the temple to ask for help, in case any of the wizards on the first side immediately recognize and report her.

She would like to know whether anybody here has two sendings left, and also whether it is true that Nefreti Clepati knows almost everything, and if so, how much it costs to have two minutes of her time within the next hour.

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They'll have two Sendings at dawn but the person at the entrance doesn't know if they have them now, it being the middle of the night. They do have scrolls if she wants those, at the usual price which is 900.

 

It is true that Nefreti Clepati knows almost everything. She might be doing magic research or magic item design right now and therefore not interruptible but if she's not it is a thousand gold in a donation to the temple, typically.

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She can't pay for scrolls and an audience with the money she has on her. Is there a way to determine whether anyone in the temple has a Sending left. Can she be pointed in the direction of the people who might have those. Also is there any way to make this happen faster, her adventuring companion has been kidnapped and she is trying to get to him before his kidnappers have the means to hit him with a Malediction spell.

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He looks sympathetic but also like he thinks that's kind of how adventuring goes. "I'll ask around. Wait here, please."

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He is probably right that that's how adventuring goes, but you are supposed to also have people who will try to get you back.

She can wait. Impatiently. She can console herself about the wasted time by thinking about what she's going to do if she fails to catch the ship. (Teleport to whatever port they're going to? But she's never seen any of the Chelish cities and doesn't know anybody in them who she could scry - and even if she could get to one she'd have to find Élie, and they're not going to keep him alive for very long, and even if she could get to the port ahead of time she'd need to - maybe if she could determine what ship it was before they unloaded things - and somehow avoid being spotted by the Chelish authorities at the same time, although she supposes there are probably people in Cheliax who look about like her, if she could fix her clothing - )

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He isn't gone all that long. "Nefreti'll see you, come back and pay later, it's up the stairs."

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Oh, thank - Nethys, she supposes. She can pay almost anything if she has time. She nods and thanks him and heads up the stairs.

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It is several hundred steps, winding elaborately around the whole interior of the dome of the temple, up to an imposing set of double doors, done in glass and gold but utterly opaque.

"That's her," the assistant says, and escapes back down the stairs.

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- well, no sense putting it off. She tells herself that paying customers are not impositions, and she is going to pay, so she is not being an imposition. If she were not welcome the price would be higher.

She pushes through the double doors and kneels as soon as she's clear of them. 

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