Sep 20, 2021 5:01 AM
Naima and Elie
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"I thought you were in a hurry? Come on, come on, what should the Sending say -"

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She takes half a second to laugh in something between stress and relief. "'Elie kidnapped by Chelish agents. Kidnappers' ship left Sothis for Cheliax this morning. Danger of malediction. Come immediately. Meet Naima at the All-Seeing Eye.' One to Inquisitor Shawil of the Church of Abadar, and one to Catherine Marianne Euphemia Aspexia de Litran."

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It's a ten minute casting time; she starts spinning it up between her fingers. "Was that all?"

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"I - am not immediately thinking of ways to reach the ship before it reaches Cheliax. I was also wondering if you had - ideas. It would have left between eight and fifteen hours ago. I thought of some things but none of them seemed likely to work, and much less likely to work in the morning - "

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"You could turn into a kraken and capsize it! You could, hmmm, open a Gate at the bow and swallow the whole ship with it, if it were a small ship. You could turn a big chunk of the Inner Sea into rock. If you do not know where in the sea the ship was, you could turn the whole sea into rock, but that would be rude, the pharaoh would come and say, Nefreti, put it back, people were using that, now they will starve, and you would say, Aroden did it, and he would say, not the whole thing! And how well did that turn out, anyway, mmmmm. I guess if you did it he would say Naima put it back, not Nefreti put it back. You could ride in on a flying carpet, singing a song. You could ask a genie for a Wish - goes well with the carpet, actually -"

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Wow all of those are utterly worthless. She's torn between being delighted by the list and feeling guilty for being delighted because she should be focusing on what to do.

"Do you have any ideas that a fourth-circle arcane caster with about ten thousand gold to spend on assistance might be capable of pulling off in the next three days. I was thinking a dolphin or a manta ray might be fast enough to catch the ship, but I don't know that they can tell directions effectively enough, even if I knew which port they were sailing to, and catching up to the ship at all becomes less plausible every hour. I was thinking that if I were lucky enough that his familiar had followed him, then maybe I could convince the bird to sit still in the water, and I could use a scroll to teleport to the bird, but it's not a water bird, and I'm concerned that the bird would drown immediately and then I wouldn't be able to scry it. I suppose I could teleport directly to the port, if I could find someone who had ever been to Corentyn or Westcrown or Ostenso or wherever they're taking him, and then lie in wait for the ship while trying to avoid detection by the Chelish authorities, and turn into a dragonfly when it lands and sneak on board and hopefully turn back into a person who can teleport him out before they bring out whoever they plan to have kill him - ?"

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"You say, Nefreti, I can't do those things, I say you can do those things, who is probably right? I don't see how to do small things that barely leave a ripple. If they don't leave a ripple how would I see them?"

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"I - suppose that makes sense. I'm not - entirely sure what you mean about me being able to do those things. I suppose I could use a scroll for some of them, but I'm not actually any good with scrolls, and I'm not sure I've even heard of the spells that would be necessary for half of those anyway - "

Probably it is hopelessly arrogant to argue with Nefreti Clepati, whoops. Maybe this is like the Irorite thing where if you were strong enough you could do anything and then you wouldn't have any problems anymore, and if you're not strong enough yet then that can't possibly be anybody's fault but yours.

" - but, um, thank you."

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"It is possible that you cannot do those things right now," she agrees, "and would need it to stop being right now, so you could do them. And you are very accustomed to it being right now and haven't tried it being some other time at all."

She finishes the Sending. "Elie kidnapped by Chelish agents. Kidnappers' ship left Sothis for Cheliax this morning. Danger of malediction. Come immediately. Meet Naima at the All-Seeing Eye," she says solemnly, and the magic slips out of each hand like smoke.

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She bows. "Thank you." Pause. " - did it get a response - ?"

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"It got two responses, since there were multiple recipients."

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"That is - very impressive. May I hear what they were."

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"The girl said 'On ship bound for Cassomir, won't land for three days, will look for teleport there, update me then but don't wait for me, no time'. The boy said 'acknowledged, will try'." 

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" - oh. Okay. That's - not ideal, at all, but a very good thing to know when planning." She'll have to figure something out alone. Somehow. "Thank you for your time."

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Wave. "I'll see you when you have learned more things. You'll pay the temple by the first of Neth."

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"Yes ma'am, I will."

She can let herself out, then. And - think. She feels like she did in fact learn something, but like whatever she learned was probably not relevant to rescuing Elie at all. If she'd had to pay up front she might be upset with herself about that, but she didn't, so it's fine, really. She'll make it all up in a week or two, if she survives whatever plan she comes up with.

She turns it over and over in her head. She can't think of a way to navigate the ocean effectively enough to catch the ship, no matter what method of catching up she tries, and she probably won't be able to tell what port the ship is going to until morning, at which point catching up will be a lost cause. Catherine almost definitely can't make it in time, and whatever is going on with Shawil right now, he certainly can't be relied on. So - 

She has to determine what port it is. It will not be safe to do this until morning, if she doesn't want to get arrested (and she doesn't know exactly how she would go about ceasing to be arrested, not having any available male family members who can interface with the legal system for her). That means - she should refine the plan in which she teleports to the relevant port city, finds Elie before he can be unloaded and executed, and then teleports out. She will need to find someone who can teleport to the city in question. She will need to think of a way to avoid detection while she's there. Maybe she can get some Chelish clothes and sit and watch the docks while looking like an old woman? That sounds risky, but she doesn't have a better idea. And then when the ship comes in she can turn into a dragonfly and fly out to meet it, and search for Elie while she's still a bug, and hopefully find him before the ship even lands, and then as soon as she falls out of dragonfly form she should be able to teleport both of them back to Sothis.

Hopefully.

She hopes she's able to get into her accounts. She's never tried to withdraw money without Shawil there, and it's a lot of money, and - well, she has to try. 

She feels kind of bad about leaving Rahim with the church all night. She doesn't think anything bad will happen to him, but it's - not being a good mother. But sometimes other things are more important than being a perfect mother. She'll come get him after. She also feels kind of bad about leaving Wishbone alone all night, but Wishbone will understand, probably.

She spends the night at the temple, praying to Nethys and thinking about refinements to her plan. Shawil does not show up. At first light she heads home, prepares her spells, and then heads off to the temple of Abadar, where she will wait in line and then ask the person at the desk whether they know where she would be able to get records of which ships have left the harbor in the past day.

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The priest on duty seems confused by not overtly hostile. "...is your husband a merchant?" 

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"I believe a member of my adventuring party has been kidnapped. We have in the past worked with Inquisitor Shawil, and were responsible for bringing back evidence of Lamasara's attack on the western border. Ordinarily I would go through the Inquisitor for matters relating to the Church, but I believe he is on official business and cannot return to Sothis at this time."

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The priest looks a little dazed. The war with Thuvia was big news even in Sothis. And he certainly doesn't want to give an Inquisitor any reason to believe he's inconvenienced one of his associates. 

"Our shipping records are for insurance purposes. They're not chronological, they're organized by destination and cargo type, but they should have dates of departure and expected return. If you'll follow me – ?" 

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"Thank you." And she can follow. Probably there are a lot of ships, and relatedly a lot of records, but she can narrow it down to a handful of ports. One ship left for Ostenso yesterday. She checks the Westcrown and Corentyn piles, too, just in case, but no ships left for those places yesterday, and she doesn't think he's at all likely to be going past Corentyn. The kidnappers' ship will reach Ostenso in approximately three days, but it could be slower or faster depending on the weather, so if she wants to reach Elie before he leaves the ship, she should be expecting that she has about two. She jots down the name and distinguishing features. 

It's almost easy, apart from taking the entire morning. Now she just needs enough money to buy - two teleport scrolls and two teleports, ideally, because she has to pay someone to take her to Ostenso, and she doesn't want to risk buying one scroll and messing it up badly enough that the teleport doesn't work at all, under these conditions, even if the risk of that is relatively small.

She returns to the priest and asks him if she can make a withdrawal from her account.

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The lady adventurer with the Inquisitor friend can absolutely make a withdrawal from her account. He's certainly not going to stop her. 

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Excellent. She'll be taking all but a thousand of it out, now. (The last thousand can stay for taking care of Rahim, in case - well.) This should just barely cover the expenses of this operation.

She spends the afternoon looking for someone to teleport her to Ostenso, figuring that a wizard is going to need at least a day of advance warning, and that she needs a lot less lead time to pick up the scrolls. She doesn't find a wizard who's been to Ostenso, but she does get an address of one who might have been there, once. She can follow up on him in the morning and hope that he's willing to help her with this. 

With about an hour and a half left before sunset, she starts working on scrying Elie again, hoping that she can communicate the plan to him. She doesn't want him to panic when he nears land. And - if she were him she'd want to hear a friendly voice.

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He hasn't moved at all, really, since the last scry. If he can sense her, he's not reacting. 

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Well, that's - kind of to be expected, under the circumstances.

"This is Naima. Can you hear me?"

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No response. 

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