[21:56] <Pluck> Successful organization requires strong protocols for communication to be established and adhered to, and the protocol for Isami getting into contact with Pluck resolves itself in a reservation at a dockside teahouse. The quality of the tea is decided inferior to that of the Font, but Pluck likes being able to see her ships out the first-story window, and as the establishment caters to visiting captains and officers more than the common rabble, it affors sufficient privacy for her needs. While she awaits the bureaucrats arrival, the captain whiles away time penning a letter.

[21:59] <Crane> Isami delicately steps through the door, right on schedule. After looking around for a moment she finds Pluck and quietly sits with her. "Hello."

[22:01] <Pluck> Pluck looks up. "Good afternoon, Miss Isami." She sets the letter to her side. "How did it go?" The room is private, meaning only waiters can possibly bother them.

[22:07] <Crane> "Well. I acquired some information for you. One Mister Makaki, a spice trader, is being harassed by local tribes. Boats attacked, crews kidnapped. And Lady Cynis Patina is looking for more guards, as her current set have failed to prevent a series of break-ins. Do either of these sound like people you might be interested in helping?"

[22:12] <Pluck> "Yes, quite. I'd like to take both jobs, but I'm of a mind to get the whole force out at once. A naval escort sounds like just the thing," replies Pluck.

[22:13] <Crane> "I thought it might be. Do you have someone to handle the negotiations?"

[22:16] <Pluck> "You are looking at her," replies Pluck, reaching for her tea. "I don't have a professional courtier on-hand; how do you even find one trustworthy enough to speak for your affairs?"

[22:22] <Crane> Isami shrugs. "I don't. I've always spoken for my own affairs." She pauses for a moment, then gives Pluck a quizzical look. "You fight for a living? How can you do that if you can't find people you trust with your life? Do you spend every battle fearing that your troops will abandon you, leave you to die to save their own hides?"

[22:29] <Pluck> The captain snorts. "My army and I are as one. I'll trust my little sisters with my life and my blood, and the auxilary is being well-discipliend," replies Pluck. "But ultimately, they're soldiers, not diplomats or merchants. They spent most of their life training at it. So did I, but as the leader I've got to take on such responsibilities. If there was someone better-suited, I'd give them the job- but there isn't in my organization. That leaves outsiders. I suppose I know one or two people with an aptitude for it, but regrettably, they've used their talents to secure rather more profitable positions than I could offer."

[22:36] <Crane> "I'm a good talker. Made a living out of it, once upon a time." Isami knows she shouldn't be telling Pluck this much about her, but the mercenary seems nice enough, and trustworthy. It's been too long since she had a friend. "I could come along, help out with the negotiating."

[22:42] <Pluck> Pluck raises an eyebrow. "Work at the office going sour? Looking for something more exciting?" she asks, with a twitch of a grin.

[22:45] <Crane> "Nothing too exciting!" Isami protests. She's had more than enough of that for one lifetime. "Work... pays the bills, but it's not much fun. It'd be nice to do something new, break up my routine a bit."

[22:49] <Pluck> Pluck shrugs. "Representing me is different from helping me out with information here and there, but you seem discreet and competent enough," she reflects, sipping from her tea. "Mmm, but first, why not tell me a bit about your career? For example, what or whom have you represented in the past, to acquire the appropriate skills?"

[22:51] <Crane> Isami pauses for an uncomfortably long time before she finally responds. "Can you promise to keep what I'm going to tell you a secret? It's nothing dangerous or anything like that, just... personal."

[22:52] <Pluck> "Of course. I don't blab."

[22:58] <Crane> "Thank you." Isami pauses again, though she finds the will to speak much more quickly this time. "I was a, well, a criminal. I made quite a lot of money convincing people to part with their hard-earned jade, then vanishing before they realised what happened. I gave up on that lifestyle a long time ago, but I've still got a silver tongue, when I'm in the mood to use it. And negotiating a deal, that's hardly different to selling

[22:58] <Crane> someone goods that don't technically exist, only you don't have to run from the law afterwards."

02[23:00] * Iri ( Quit (Quit: Connection closed for inactivity)

01[23:07] <Pluck> "Um." Pluck drinks her tea a little too quickly, and she sets the porcelain cup down before burning her tongue any further. "I don't know what to say to someone who says she was a criminal... why did you go straight? Mostly straight," Pluck amends.

[23:08] <Crane> "Mostly, I grew out of it. It was twenty years ago, I was a teenager. We all do stupid things when we're young. Now the risk doesn't appeal so much, and I can't ignore my conscience as easily."

01[23:15] <Pluck> Pluck clucks her tongue. "It sounds like it might be a bit out of practice. Confessing a criminal history is a bit too honest, but I do like that sort of integrity in a woman," she says, before frowning. "It's not that I've developed a reputation for being a bit of sap, is it?"

[23:21] <Crane> "I haven't heard of any reputation of yours. Don't spend much time discussing mercenaries in my line of work. I'm being honest because I can be. What can you do, report me? You have no real evidence, and I've talked my way out of worse before. And I have my secret weapon." Isami takes some basic makeup out of her purse. "A few minutes with this and I can be a whole new woman. I learned a thing or two about disguises in my time, it's

[23:21] <Crane> amazing the kind of changes you can make with just a little bit of colour here and there."

[23:27] <Pluck> Pluck seems amused. "I don't care about the misdeeds of a teenager," she points out. "We're negotiating right now, in a sense; I didn't think telling me you used to be a dishonest merchant would ordinaril be considered a selling point." Pluck doesn't sound like she's being chastising, though; she watches Isami with lingering interest. "Disguises too, huh? Let's see what you can do."

[23:36] <Crane> Isami continues to speak as she carefully applies her makeup and plays with her hair, her appearance changing with every second until she's almost unrecognisable. "My past isn't a selling point. Honesty is, I hope. I was going to have to explain these odds skills at some point anyway, it's far less messy to say the truth in the first place." She pulls out a small mirror to admire her work. Anyone who hadn't seen the process would

[23:36] <Crane> swear that she couldn't be Isami. There are still some similarities between this face and her real one, but only enough that she might be mistaken for Isami's distant relative. "I'll look like this when we meet again. Better for my privacy."

[23:41] <Pluck> The captain wonders, briefly, why criminal types seem to confess to her at all. She must attract them, somehow- no, she went to Isami, so could it be her that's drawn to them? Some strange god might have taken an interest in her- yes, that might be it! "We've got two contracts to check out. Let's see how do you with Makaki. I'll have you accompany me," she decides, eventually. "I'll get you to advise me and help out with the hagglign. If it goes badly, I'd rather leave a merchant with a bad impression than a dynast."

[23:44] <Crane> "That's wise. Let me know when you've arranged an appointment with him?"

01[23:48] <Pluck> "One of my men will drop a letter off for you," replies Pluck, with a slight nod. "Ah, the food is here," she adds, as a pair of waiters advance on their table. "I caught this one myself," she adds, proudly, as they deliver upon the table a whole roast fish, about the size of Isami's arm and still with the face and eyes intact. The Luminescent Anglefish still glows brightly within the dim teahouse, and the mouth gapes open as if confused at its current state.

[23:50] <Crane> "Very impressive," comments Isami, and she begins to eat.

[00:02] <Pluck> Later, Pluck finds herself arranging to accompany Lady Radiant in place of one of her ordinary bodyguards. She does in fact have a full patrol now, meaning about ten whistlers accompany her when she goes on her outings, armed with big cudgels and dangerous eyes to ward off any would-be thugs that would seek to give her trouble. Not that she expects much to occur right here, in the Heartworks, as they take a trip to the Temple of Triumph. "I heard there's trouble in Redmoon recently," she tells Radiant, as they move at a leisurely pace. "Something about minions of the old Anathema rising up to assault the locals."

[00:07] <Alvuea> "Minions of the old Anathema?" Radiant asks, curious.   "Are you planning a visit?  You must tell me more. Now may not be the very best of moments, however."

01[00:09] <Pluck> Pluck shakes her head. "I don't know. It may not really be my field. I talked to the champion of the tournament a bit about it," she explains. "They say they need a sorcerer, so I thought I'd ask you about it. Apparently these things come back to life after they're killed, so they're a persistant menace. They call them the Inhumer Errant; have you heard of them?"

[00:20] <Alvuea> Radiant nods slowly, "I believe I saw something of them.  There are control words for such sorcerous workings." she thinks, "and that sort of persistence is beyond what anyone seems to know how to do."

[00:22] <Alvuea> Radiant considers, "Perhaps... Those creatures that attacked the other ship... The chosen of death... They might have turned such creatures?"

01[00:22] <Pluck> "Hmm? What are you talking about?"

[00:26] <Alvuea> Radiant shakes her head, "I am not certain. However, you may want to speak with Leaf. She knows much more of such sorceries than I."  Radiant pauses, "though perhaps a stop in Redmoon shall be the a part of the tour I am about to take on."

01[00:29] <Pluck> "Miss Leaf? Adhyasa's agent?" Pluck shrugs, a little uncertainly. "I can do that. I planned to make an enquiry at the Aruspicy as well." She pauses. "Although, given the nature of the issue, the Immaculate Order might also have an interest. I would be interested to see if they actually care about such things, once alerted."

[00:32] <Alvuea> "Yes. She has been helping me learn a few more concrete things about Sorcery.  I have learned much of the shape of things from the aruspicy, but how to summon... And more importantly, bind, a demon from Leaf."

[00:40] <Pluck> "Demon-binding? I don't know that much good can come from that," replies Pluck, as they reach the wooden bridge that seperates them from the Temple of Triumph. It leads up to the literal heart of Lathe, suspended by stony tendrils and seeming being visceral and beautiful; a monument to the merge of civilization and biology. "Don't you think such an art is beneath you, my lady? Demons are vicious; more to the point, they're evil creatures."

[00:47] <Alvuea> "I hope to see a day upon which we can agree entirely on that last part, my dear Pluck, but alas, I may have need of such horrible creatures." Radiant sighs, but then tries to shake off a bit of the weight and darkness of the conversation before turning to look with the proper awe of the great heart of Lathe.

[00:47] <Pluck> "But whatever for?"

[00:58] <Alvuea> "The world, dear Pluck, is a dangerous place, and you know it quite well. And such creatures are very good at performing certain tasks." Radiant answers, vaguely, with a somewhat dismissive gesture.

[01:03] <Pluck> "So I do, and so they are. I also know such creatures form the basis of the blackest cults, here in Lathe. I know these things; I grew up in the pits. My lady would not believe the things that happen there. Countless vile deeds have a demon's mark upon them." Pluck looks away, and starts to cross the bridge. "I know they have their uses, but when it comes to danger, well... I remain at your service, after all."

[01:12] <Alvuea> "I am tremendously glad to have your protection , dear Pluck.  It does very much help me to rest easily."  She adds, "and we shall have to look into correcting some of such problems in the Lily Pits." she sighs, looking up, "there is something magical about the heart, here. A sort of deep, humming song of Lathe."

[01:15] <Pluck> "The Spear of Triumph is magical, as the legends go," remarks Pluck, staring up at the massive weapon that pierces the beast's chest. "Did my lady tie a ribbon to it, yet?"

[01:19] <Alvuea> "I have not yet done so." Radiant answers softly, "I am certain it is very much a tying of magic, to remain there, all this time."

[01:24] <Pluck> "My, then we must rectify that," exclaims Pluck, unwinding her scarf, a white affair that coiled around her neck like a serpent. "To think that nobody presented my lady with the opportunity- we've failed as Latheans." She presents the scarf to Radiant with a broad grin. "Magic, well, I do not know another word for it. Imagine the battle back in the day, a colossal warrior striding the seas to confront Heart-Cleaving Lathe! Outsiders do not think it possible and yet the beast lying here makes it certain to be true. Now the spear is all that is left of that champion." She turns to head towards the temple. "If my lady seeks to perform a task as impossible as improving matters within the Pits, then this is the place to meditate and pray, to be sure. The spear is a symbol of miracles."