Story telling a Tallent Purchase

INstead of Just Saying “I Use my XP for these talents.”

Unknown to Torsten and Ultred, Saltheart had other plans during thier Carousing in Khemi. In a private conversation with Python, Khalid’s personal retainer, Saltheart asked for an introduction to Maatkare.

"Why would you want to meet her Saltheart?" Python scoured the Mercenary's face for a clue to such a meeting. "She is Stygia's the deadliest assassin other than her grandfather". 

The Gunderman knew Python would find out anyway, he had a way of knowing things that he should not, so he did not hesitate in explaining his reason. 

“I need to grow my skills in stealth and camouflage. I felt like a lumbering mule in my last few encounters.”

Saltheart remembered the Black jungle and its dungeons and caves, and held back a little shudder... he knew when he was down there that his movements were too loud, too cumbersome. In a city or the grassy fields of Aquilonia, he may be more than adequate but the tasks he and his companions have been taking on are growing more and more deadly. 

Python looked askance at Saltheart. “The last thing you are my friend is heavy on your feet.” The “fixer” as Saltheart thought of him thought for a moment, seemingly coming to a conclusion in his mind, he nodded, “I will not promise Maatkare, she is not in the country at the moment” Saltheart knew better than to ask how would he know. “But one of her associates should be able to meet you and you can ask them what you need.”

With a firm handshake they parted, Saltheart knew that Python's word was solid, he would do what he said he would. Of course not after running it by Khalid of course. The thing that drew Saltheart to these men was thier loyalty and dedication. It was seldom found and when it was you held onto it like fine gold.
It was just before dawn two days later when Saltheart woke in his room on the second floor of the Inn. He was offered to stay at Khalid Estate for the entirety of his stay but the Mercenary knew that even though Khalid has the Writ for thier hire, that distance publicly was wise.     He knew there was someone in his rooms as soon as he awoke or it was the knowledge of a presence that woke him, a trick learned early on by his uncle was the ability to keep his breathing pattern the same from sleep to wakefulness, it was hard for those that snore but the Mercenary did not have that issue. As he became aware and identified where the subject was, sitting in the large cushioned reading chair the Inn provided for this room, the figure spoke. 

“Well done Gunderman, not many would have noticed the shift…” The voice was a thick Zamorian accent but spoke perfect Aquilonian. “…but your eyes stopped.”

            Saltheart opened his eyes then, he was laying toward the chair so he was able to get a good look even in the low light. The man was small, almost tiny, but had the look of an old root, dense..hard. Dressed in dark greys, with close-fitting shirt and leggings but loose enough to hide no doubt a handful of weapons, he could not put an age to the man looking much older than Saltheart he may be in his fourth decade. A nasty looking whip was on his belt. A smile was on the man's lips that never reached his eyes. 

     Salthearts eyes flickered to the wall beside the chair, within easy reach of the visitor was his Zhaibar knife. The man noticed the eye flicker and only acknowledged it with a slight smirk. The familiar weight of his knives still in thier place in his sleaves gave some comfort and the fact that he woke up without his throat slit was also encouraging. 

“Please make yourself at home” Salheart was glad his voice was steady. “I assume since i woke up, you’re here for a conversation?” The mercenary slowly swung his feet around and sat up, keeping both hands in plain sight and his eyes never left the visitor. If the man looked hard before, he became death in still form while Saltheart moved.

     "Your reputation in Khemi is a bit bloated" He did not try to hide the scorn in his voice. The smirk never left his face as he passed Salthearts blade back to him. A gesture to show how little of a threat he considered the Gunderman. 

    "Lesson two" The man started. He held up his hands all fingers spread with his thumb curled in. Nine? 

Salthart stared “Nine what?” The visitor only stared with that damnable smirk. The only thing Saltheart has nine of is…His eyes widened… the older man nodded knowing that Saltheart understood. Daggers, throwing knives and dirks hidden around his person Saltheart has nine and this man knew it without even patting him down.

“Never be without a weapon, even when searched and stripped.” The Stygian accent was melodic speaking Aqilonian but it was difficult to follow on some words. Stygian? Did he not just have a Zemorian accent?

    "Maatkare?" Saltheart began to understand. The bark of a laugh from the small man let him know it was a wrong guess. 

     "If she were here, you would not be. That is one visit nobody wants." the man replied. "You helped a friend of mine and I will help you" 

“You said lesson two” Saltheart interrupted. “What is lesson one?” it was then that the shadow on the wall cast by the chair removed itself from the wall. The mercenaries’ heart leaped to this throat thinking of sorcery. the Shadow solidified into a man dressed much like the man on the chair, Saltheart realized he had pulled both daggers from his sleaves by instinct as the man in the chair gestured and the living shadow gave a slight bow of his/her head and left out the door leading to the hallway.

         Each night two hours before light, for the next two weeks, the man visited. He was called Jerteex, and he spoke in a new accent nearly every night that Saltheart never knew which was his real one. The ability at using terrain effects and social cues to remain unnoticed by observers was expertise known only to a few, Jereex was able to walk through a room full of people and not garner a glance. He walked past to guards at the Khemi Temple by simply blending in with priests. Saltheart earned several blows to the ribs when he could not see the man less than a foot from him in this painful game of hiding and seeking. By the end of the second week, Saltheart was able to remain unnoticed seven out of ten times. 

     When Saltheart asked Jarteex what was it that he did for his employ, was he a Thief or an Assasin? The deadly stillness that came on from his new teacher told Saltheart he insulted the man. After a momentary pause, the hard man called himself and his profession as a "Thief Catcher". He retrieved valuables that were stolen from his clients, and sometimes that did mean retrieving a person either alive or dead. With the way he said it, Saltheart could believe that the person that was caught would prefer dead instead of being brought back to face Stygian justice.  

    In the middle of the first week, the Thief Catcher had Saltheart check another man for weapons. In a small square room less than ten paces square, no furnishing other than two chairs facing each other in the center and a table set against the wall. One of the chairs had a young man with dark eyes and short-cropped black hair. wearing snug breeches and shirt with high leather boots Saltheart recognized him as Jarteex's partner, Dorian he called himself, but did not look at all like any Nemedian despite the Nemedian name.

    Jarteex in his dark close-fitting attire leaned against the closed door gestured to the man to allow Saltheart to disarm him. The Mercenary gestured for the man to stand up pushing his arms into a T position Saltheart found no less than 11 throwing knives a needle-thin dirk and one piece of metal with six-pointed blades. Saltheart placed each found on the table beside Jarteex. 

     When he was sure the man had no other weapons, Jarteex had him go over once more, explaining it can be life or death assuming a man had no blades. Saltheart took his time in patting the man down insofar as untucking the man's shirt. After carefully assuring himself there was no weaponry upon the person Saltheart turned to the Thief Catcher and pointing to the table "He is clean, unless he is hiding it up to his ■■■■■■, the man does not have a weapon." 

     It was not just the slight increase of Jarteex's smirk that said he missed something but the press of a razor-sharp Ghanata knife on the side of his neck that made the lesson all too clear. "Never be in a position where you are unarmed. you can never have too "Many Blades" living in a world that could kill you at whim." It was the young man that Saltheart just disarmed who spoke holding the knife to his neck. The next three days were the art of always having a weapon.

            Interspersed throughout the stealth training he would spar with both Dorian and Jarteex. Saltheart because of his greater strength and speed was able to hold his own and win as much as lose. They showed Saltheart new techniques that allowed these men of smaller size and stealth to use knives and daggers to even greater efficiency. With any of the hidden weapons, Jarteex was a Death Dealer in thier usage, an efficient killer. Saltheart learned how he could use his dagger and Ghanata knife in such a way that enabled him to inflict even more damage when in close combat.

     Saltheart was given a set of stealth and fighting technics to practice daily without fail. "You are one of the most efficient killers I have met to have learned so quickly. If you do these sessions every day you will become as skilled as an Assassin in less than two months."
    As the adventurers travelled across into Shem Salthear began each morning with the new fighting techniques he learned with his Small blades and after the deadly fight from that ambush, he thought how once he completed his training the Small Knife hidden in the folds of his shirt will kill like a lance, and these horsemen who now stood in from of him may be the first to find out.

Great! I really like that idea!

Here’s a few samples from my own discord
On the beach, Jansei-Lu observes Ghezek’s autopsy of the severed arm with more than idle interest. Seeing the limb’s anatomy dissected, listening to the Turanian speak his thoughts aloud, he draws connections to the conventional remedies learned from the sawbones on the battlefield. He resolves to entreat Ghezek to show him more; perhaps there is some sense to be made from the wise man’s pontifications (Heal Expertise increased from 1 to 2)

Jansei-Lu’s exploits in the temple under “spider isle” pushed him to the limits of fear and beyond. Reflecting on his struggles against giant deadly spiders, a mind-altering sorceress, hordes of undead and a loathsome being from the Outer Dark, he discovers new reserves of inner strength. His confidence in himself is even greater than ever. (Discipline Expertise from 2 to 3)

During the party’s travels, he clings closely to Ghezek, prying for knowledge of the scientific world of healing and medicine. The young Khitan is a sharp student when his mind is opened. He is ready to aid the wounded when needed. (Bind Wounds Talent)

Every impatient swing, every poorly-aligned cut, every dropped guard, is burned into Jansei-Lu’s memory. Must not repeat these mistakes. Might not get so lucky next time. (Melee Expertise from 3 to 4. We pulled off a victory that session despite multiple failed Melee tests on my part)

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