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Chapter Four, Verse Five

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You are Bartolomè de la Fuente, an ordained priest of the Catholic Church, though you are still young. Following the disappearance of your father, Hidalgo, you were recruited by a woman named Catarina Belmont to take his place within a secret branch of the Church, the Executors, and serve as a weapon to destroy those who would besmirch the name of your Lord.

The Painter has just let slip that not only is she familiar with your father, but that he visited her recently.

Wounds: 14/15 (Broken Arm, Crippled Arm.)
Faith: Strong (+1 to Rolls, Holy Relics at 1.5x effectiveness.)

Strength: C (3 Wounds dealt per hit, +0 to strength-related rolls.)
Agility: C (1 attack per round, +0 to dexterity-related rolls.)
Endurance: C (Can sustain 15 Wounds.)
???: D (Unknown effect.)
???: C (Unknown effect.)


Gifted Skirmisher: +5 when using Thrown Weapons
Butcher of Dead Apostles: +1 Wounds dealt to Dead Apostles
Missing Eye: No Penalty, but depth of vision reduced.
Extra-Sensory: +2 to Combat Rolls, Can perceive Secret Options.
Instinct: Chance to perceive the optimal strategy in combat.


Black Key (x2): +10 to attack rolls, currently at 1x effectiveness. Can be thrown. Bonus doubled against foes with Faith ratings.

Cross of Orleans: +10 to Attack Rolls, +1 to Wounds dealt, deals 1 Wound per round after hit as burn damage for two rounds. Treats Faith lower than Stable as Stable while held.

Catarina's cell phone
Black Keys
Cross of Orleans
The others, sans Aldric, appear to be as baffled as you. The Painter's hand glues itself to her hip as she stifles a deep, ladylike laugh with the side of the other. "My, my. You look so surprised, dear Bartolomè. I assume you thought he had just... dropped off the face of the Earth, then?" She titters again, and takes a seat. On Wayne's lap. The mage takes a deep breath through his nostrils, seizing up as she draped an arm around his shoulde and scratches behind his ear. You suppose that IS where most dogs like to be scratched--wait, that's an awful thing to say! You catch yourself and make a mental note that Wayne is not a canine. Although she casually mocks your companion, she's finally paying her full attention to you, lips curled into a fiendish smile. "Well? You came all this way to find him. It would be rather stupid of you not to have a few question once you're on the trail."

>1. Are you always this rude?
>2. Would you mind leaving Wayne alone for a bit?
>3. When did my father come here?
>4. Did he mention what he came here for?
>5. How was he doing? Did he look healthy?
>6. Where was he going when he left?
>7. You said he'd come to look at your paintings. Do you remember which ones?
>8. Say something else.

>3. When did my father come here?
"When was my father last here?" you ask. The Painter hums to herself, digging a finger into her cheek as she mulls it over.

"It was fairly recent... I think it was..." She snaps her fingers, so close to Wayne's ears that he hops in his seat a little. "November," she decides. "Late last November was the last time I saw him."

"I wasn't aware you dealt with Executors of the church," says Kayton, the slightest hint of worry and displeasure in his words. The Painter smiles at him, but the way she cocks her brow could be taken as a challenge.

"Is that jealousy I hear, Mr. Abraham? My work is my own, and I don't recall agreeing not to share it with anyone interested. Of course, if you intend to deny me that right, you could always take it up with my butler, Damton?"

For a moment you believed that Kayton just might, the way he stirs in his chair, but the mage settles back down, a deep frown cutting into his features. Sporting a satisfied smirk, the Painter's eyes return to you.

Your father last came here in November. That was before all this madness began, and before he officially "disappeared." Did his appointment with the Painter have something to do with that?

>1. Are you always this rude?
>2. Would you mind leaving Wayne alone for a bit?
>3. Did he mention what he came here for?
>4. How was he doing? Did he look healthy?
>5. Where was he going when he left?
>6. You said he'd come to look at your paintings. Do you remember which ones?
>7. Does he come here often?
>8. Say something else.

>4. Did he look alright?
>3. Did he mention what he was looking for?
>6. Do you remember which paintings he was interested in?
"Was he well?" you plead. "Please, tell me he was all right."

The Painter quirks her brow at you and dismissively asks, "And what if he wasn't? Would you prefer that I lie and say that he was well?"

Your voice catches in your throat as you contemplate whether you would. The girl laughs at you teasingly. "He was well, Bartolomè. Or, he did not look hurt. Hidalgo DID appear quite shaken at the time, but he did not seem to be harmed physically." She kicks her legs in the air, letting them bounce as they repeatedly smack into Wayne's shins. Your friend is proving remarkably patient, and has yet to say anything since the dog treat incident. "Does that satisfy you?"

Of course it doesn't. You wouldn't be satisfied unless your father was sitting here with you. But it's good to know that, if nothing else, at least he appeared healthy. "It is enough. Did he mention what he was looking for?"

"No, but I can hazard a few guesses," the Painter replies. "He seemed to be after a weapon. Considering how frantic the old dullard was, I don't believe he knew what the weapon actually was." She makes a mischievous grin. "It makes you wonder, though. If he was looking that desperately, precisely what was he trying to kill?"

The thought sits heavily on you. You would guess a vampire, but that cannot be right. Aldric is a vampire, and to your knowledge, father woke her UP. Could she have been the weapon he sought? And what haunted him so, that he needed something like Aldric to fight it?

"So he came to you seeking this weapon. Were there any paintings he took an interest in?"

The hand that has been rubbing behind Wayne's ear holds up two fingers. "Two," she tells you. "Some of my finest work, but he was only interested in the knowledge they held." The Painter inspects the cuticles of her other hand, seeming most apathetic despite her complaints. "It is nothing new. Hidalgo always seems to put business before pleasure. That attitude will get him killed one of these days."
You scowl at her blunt language. Now isn't a time to make jokes about his death when he may well be dead. But she only meets your glare with lackadaisical pleasure. It seems you won't be intimidating her easily.

>1. May I see the paintings he took an interest in?
>2. Don't speak ill of my father.
>3. Would you mind leaving Wayne alone for a bit?
>4. Where was he going when he left?
>5. Does he come here often?
>6. Say something else.

>1. May I see those paintings?

Looks like there's nobody else than me. You might want to adjourn the session, Beatta.
it takes awhile for people to drift in sometimes anon, I have arrived.
>1. May I see the paintings he took an interest in?
>3. Would you mind leaving Wayne alone for a bit?
>4. Where was he going when he left?
>5. Does he come here often?
"May I see the paintings you showed my father?" This may well be the lead you've been looking for. The Painter gives you a half-lidded frown and pouts with her lips.

"Oh, I might be persuaded. But my work isn't just some... dime store merchandise for lowlifes to gawk at. Every stroke of the brush is applied with care and calculation. Just the pleasure of viewing one is probably worth more, monetarily, than what a shepherd boy like you would earn in his lifetime."

She hops off of the beleaguered mage and lands on her feet, hands clasped behind her back as she stares you down. "Tell me... what can you offer me in payment?"

What? Since when has payment been an issue? You look to Kayton, who seems nonplussed. "You never told me anything about payment!"

Kayton shrugs. It seems he wasn't aware of this circumstance either. How unfortunate. You look to the Painter, who awaits her payment.

>1. Would you accept my sword?
>2. My rosary has some gold to it. Would that work?
>3. I am a priest. Would you accept absolution?
>4. Have you ever tried Spanish cuisine?
>5. Offer her something else.
>6. This is my father's life at stake. Won't you consider charity, just this once?
>7. I have nothing to offer. What could I do to earn the opportunity to view these paintings?

While >3 sounds appealing, and we could try something more in-character like
>"Lord would reward you for this act of charity",

I think I'll go with

>"What sort of payment does an artist like you seek to receive?"
>4. Have you ever tried Spanish cuisine?

I think she wants to hear what we offer more than tell us something directly. Offering something simple and 'valueless' might throw her off guard.
>>4. Have you ever tried Spanish cuisine?


She's right. You can't imagine how you would pay the fortune she seems to believe her work is worth. You're not sure whether contesting her on that would make your situation better or worse. She doesn't seem the kind to haggle. But surely there must be SOMETHING someone like you could offer her. Some talent you can make use of.

You bow your head to her, and in your best groveling voice ask: "Have you... ever tried Spanish cuisine?"

The Painter looms over you, watching you with that stoic expression of hers. And slowly, very slowly... her cheeks redden. "I-I beg your pardon?"

You spring from your seat, eye alight with energy as you grab her hand. "Yes! That's it! I'll pay you with a feast!" Your mind goes aflutter, lost in the aromatic sea of dishes you've stowed away to be prepared for any number of occasions. You begin to salivate as you imagine what combination of flavors would best suit your host. "There are so many choices! I could make you all the signature dishes of Madrid--we'll start with a stew, naturally. I'll have to check your pantries--"

"M-my what now?" she stammers.

"--But I'm sure I could find enough to prepare a few servings of cocido madrileño. Ooh, or if you'd like something more exotic, we could try gallinejas. Miss!" You lean in closer, and the Painter leans away. "Do you have any religious or personal qualms about eating sheep?"

"W-what do sheep have to do with this?" she asks.

Your highly-tuned ears can make out the strange sound of Wayne laughing his heart out behind you. Kayton chimes in with the helpful note, "Gallinejas would be sheep's intestines."

"Intest?...dear heavens, NO!" she squeals, face shifting towards a blue and queasy shade. "That sounds disgusting!"

"Oh, not in the slightest!" you assure her, attempting to drag her off in search of the kitchen. "It's all about the spices. You'll get over the texture, honest!"

You're cut off by a sudden, physical thud. You stumble as you're tossed away by the arrival of the Painter's gangly butler, but a considerate hand of his catches you to ensure you do not fall on his account. With a buffer between you, the Painter finally begins to calm down, a hand pressed to her chest to soothe her racing heart. She stares at you with bugged-out eyes.

...You may have gone a little overboard on selling the meal.

"E-er..." the young woman stutters a little. "If you are, ahem, so confident in your culinary skills, Bartolomè, then I shall offer you my stocks to make a meal worthy of my consumption. I accept your means of payment."

"Fantastic!" you exclaim. "I could get started right now if--"

"No-no! N-no, please, I'm... not hungry. Right this moment. Perhaps you'd prefer to take a look at those paintings first?" She gestures out into the hallway, offering for Damton to lead you to wherever you wish.

>1. Go to the first painting.
>2. Go to the second painting.
>3. You had a question first, before you left. (Ask a previously unasked question from above.)
>4. Actually, you kind of worked up an appetite back there. You'd really like to get started on dinner...

Let's take a look at
>1. Go to the first painting.
"No need to dally, then," you say. "Lead the way, Damton." The butler silently nods and strides out into the hall, followed closely by the Painter, who still seems to have a strange shake in her gait. As you move to follow, your companions rise to do the same. Wayne calls for you to hold up a moment.

As the others walk past he approaches you and looks you in the eye. "What you did back there?" He steps forward and throws both arms around you, pulling you into the tightest hug you've ever experienced. "I love you, man. You're the best."

"Th-thank you," you stammer, "But you're crushing my arm against your chest." He releases you immediately, throwing out an apology as he does.

14.5 Wounds taken.

The both of you take off at a quick jog to catch up with the others, who have trekked down a marvelous hallway that you haven't been down yet. All the paintings here appear to be of flowers and other vegetation.

"Why did Mr. Hidalgo only look at two paintings?" Aldric asks your host, sniffing the floral pictures as she passes them. "They're all so pretty."

"Allow me to clarify, for your sake," the Painter responds, keeping her eyes fixed forward, never glancing back your way. "Though my paintings are certainly worthy of any art gallery, I am not satisfied when a passerby stops to stare for a moment at my work. Though he may enjoy the art, and appreciate it, he has had no communication with it. I create art that SPEAKS to you, that meas something substantial." She gestures to the many works flanking you. "No two connoisseurs are alike, and so no two souls may be touched by the same painting in the same way. Such is the manner of my gift. Hidalgo stopped and examined much of my art. But he was only truly touched by two pieces. And the first was here:"
Damton stops at a door at the end of the hall, quickly turning it open and gesturing for you all to enter. The Painter leads the way into a long and somewhat dim hall.

It is long, and in its center runs a long glass case filled with many pieces of armor and clothing upon mannequins. You can only guess, but you believe they might be British in origin.

"The first," the Painter explains. "Is a personal favorite of mine. I was inspired by the Normans, actually, and broke away from my usual style. Have you heard of the Bayeux Tapestry?" She takes you towards the center of the hall and gestures toward the wall. Upon it rests a long embroidered cloth.

It is a massive work, and at first guess you'd suppose it is about thirty feet long. That doesn't even rival the work it is supposedly inspired by, but to a commoner like you it's quite daunting. The Painter snaps her fingers, and spotlights illuminate the tapestry, revealing its many exquisite details.

Dozens of figures and individuals dot its landscape, too numerous to tell what they are at a glance. A common thread runs through it, however. Quite literally. Blue threads weave through the scenery, forming knotted walls that appear to separate the work into three pieces, going from left to right.

You step closer, at the behest of the Painter. "Go on. It is just cloth, it will not bite." She titters at your expense. "I do not know what about this piece enamored Hidalgo so, but he seemed quite troubled once he was finished."

>1. Examine the leftmost portion.
>2. Examine the center portion.
>3. Examine the rightmost portion.
>4. Ask the Painter what this piece depicts.
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Let's go at it from left to right.
>1. Examine the leftmost portion.
>2. Examine the center portion.
>3. Examine the rightmost portion.

that order i suppose. left if you can only choose one
You approach the leftmost portion of the tapestry. For the most part it is suspended only a short distance from the ground, so it is not difficult to examine it closely. There, in the center, is a figure of a man wrapped in blue string. He wears a long coat, and you find that his features are surprisingly detailed. He has a young face, and sun-tanned skin. His hair is quite curly and... and he bears a cross upon his chest. And there is a dark spot over his face. An eyepatch.

Slowly you begin to recognize the face. And you whisper, "This is me." A tiny effigy of you, lost in a sea of activity, all of it bound together by these threads. You examine the string that is bound around the little you's waist, and see how it spreads out in every direction. But calling it blue is inaccurate. The threads change as you shift in place, a kaleidoscope of many colors that dazzle you to behold.

The tiny representation of you kneels before an altar, shrouded by many clouds. And from him the strings connect to figures. A multitude of men and women. The closest to you is a woman. Her black hair drapes over a two-faced figure. One side is young, and smiling. The other is wrinkled by many years. You feel deep sadness beholding it. In her hands she clutches the ruined heart of an old tree, and behind her lurks a dark shade. She is to your side, offering the heart to you.

The second-closest is a man. The brim of a fedora hides his face, and he is dressed in a fine blue suit. He is smiling pleasantly, offering a hand to you as you kneel. Light shines on him, but behind him lurks a shadow as well. His other hand is clasped with someone else's, whose figure fills you with dread to behold. The shade's arm stretched upward, clutching a knot of the many-colored strings and fiddling about with them to his whimsy.
Behind the figure of the woman lurks a smaller figure. The pygmy lurks at her heels, scowling at biting at her, shaking its fist at you. He is pathetic, and full of hate. But you feel ill at ease at the sight of the scroll he holds. What words lie upon it?

You cannot mistake the next figure as anyone but Kayton. The dark-skinned man stands distanced from you, but upon a solid slab of stone. In his hands rests the crown of a king, at which a formless wraith grasps. And to his side stands a girl, clutching a weapon close to her breast. She is suspended above a gaping hole. Many strings are wrapped around her waist, securing her and keeping her from falling. But you see that they are beginning to fray, and shall be severed if left alone.

And there is one more thing. Something your eye avoided at first. Behind the altar there are three figures. One is an old man, withered and weak, upon his hands and knees, bowing before a woman. A red circle like the halos you beheld in old art of the Scripture surrounds her head, and blood drips from her every orifice. Yet she smiles at the man, pleasantly, with no malice. Behind her, though, lurks a third beast, in silhouette. One that is not connected by these threads. A great, dark wolf looms over the old man, and its great tongue laps at its jowls. It hungers.

You shudder at the sight of it, and step away. The left side of this tapestry depicts you. You, and people that you know. But for what purpose?

>1. Examine the center portion.
>2. Examine the rightmost portion.
>3. Ask the Painter what this portion means.
>4. Ask one of the others what they think of it.
>>1. Examine the center portion.

we'll talk after we examined it all
me here, got to sleep I'm afraid.

Usually don't run today Beatta so the usual crowd is absent. Not sure if anyone else is around right now. Might have to stop for now. C'ya.
>1. Examine the center portion.
You have an excellent point. As sad as I am to say it, I think we should call it quits for right now. We'll pick things back up in a few days, and I'll start the thread off with the last two parts of the tapestry.

Take care, everybody.

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