Chicago Lightning

Gimbel's Jewelers

It takes about an hour, lugging your suitcases, to make it through the Warrens to the western edge, but you make it. By dint of Azog’s imposing size alone you manage to avoid getting mugged, and nobody comes near enough to pick your pockets. Neither, however, do you find a place to buy an etherphone, nor do you find a payphone. The Warrens are a mix of once-was-up-and-coming and leftover-warehousing, mosts of which is collapsed. Evidence of subterranean activity is everywhere, and there is very little vegetation, despite ample amounts of exposed earth. For the most part the Orks live cleanly, and evidences are everywhere of devout religious practice, but it simply cannot be ignored that the Wolf Point Warrens are a focal point of poverty on a level that marks Esther’s broken-down brownstone as one of the more upper-crust homesteads within.

It is with no small amount of relief that you realize you are making your exit from the Warrens, though at first the change is ominous in nature – more buildings are standing, but that makes for closer alleyways and blind corners. Boarded up buildings loom around you for several blocks before you make it to a road that is actually open to traffic.

On the corner sits a shop that sticks out from its surroundings largely because it is not shabby and falling apart. The signboard reads “Gimbel’s Jewelers” and despite the lateness of the hour there is a light on within. As Mugsy looks once more at the card from Esther, he verifies that this is the correct address, then sees a small cardboard sign in one of the side windows which reads, “Mordechai Lubov, Watch Repair.”

Comments

“Well, it looks like this is it. Do you boys want to come in or do we post guards?”

Gimbel's Jewelers
 

Azog glances about, trying to get a sense of the neighborhood.

[Streetwise: 2d6+2=1+4+2=7]

“I don’t like the idea of being surprised, but idling outside just advertises our being here. Let’s go in, but watch the door and keep away from windows. Don’t look at me like that, Mugsy. I ain’t gonna say nothin’, and I ain’t gonna do nothin’. Bump on a log.”

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“Staying outside invites trouble. We go inside, make a small purchase, and ask to see the watchmaker. Besides, there’s honestly nothing out here to look at.”

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“Ok, in we go. Azog, I’d love to believe you. We’re here on good reference, so no shenanigans like the last time we were at one of my friend’s places and someone pulled the book from Satan.”

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“You-” Jamison’s eyes slid to look at Azog. “You don’t have anything else like that lyin’ around, do you?”

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“I only took one thing from Lovecraft’s body and that was it. Too many ghouls on us to go through all his pockets. And you know what? I ain’t sorry.

“After you boys. You talk and I’ll keep an eye on the street. Don’t want you-know-who to get the drop on us, assuming he’s after us.”

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Jamison nods. “Okay, then.”

He enters the store.

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Mugsy enters with Jamison and glances about, trying to see what keeps a place like this open so late.

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Azog crosses the threshold, closes the door behind him, and flips the “Open For Business” sign to “Closed, Please Call Again.”

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GM:

Once inside you find yourself in a very shallow lobby area, at the head of which is a large jewelry case populated by what seems at first glance to be very nice jewelry, but upon closer inspection is actually more on the level of costume jewelry. There are two counters running along either side of the shop (with a large gap between each of them and the head counter), each which contains various clocks or clock parts. One of the counters seems double as a workbench, with gears and parts on top of a large leather mat draped over a portion of it. Above either side counter are several hanging clocks or clock innards dangling from the ceiling. Behind the head counter is a blank wall with a wide, but plain door. As you step in, a bell above the door chimes loudly, and a tuft of red hair emerges through the door, and shortly a head pops up above the level of the main counter. The dwarf has beady eyes, and wears a complex eyepiece aparatus, currently propped up in his forelocks. He arches an eyebrow as he catches Azog flipping the the sign around and quickly sizes the three of you up. “We don’t want any trouble,” he says in a surprisingly tinny voice, “and if you try to make any, it will end badly for you. Now state your business or get out.”

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“We’re here to pay our respects to a hero.”

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GM:

The dwarf cocks an eyebrow, “Oh? Well I appreciate the honors, though I would hardly call, myself a hero, just did as I was told, same as any other poor sap over there. Now who do ye be and why do ye feel the need ta bring me honors, and better yet, why are ye closing down me shop?” He speaks in a strange manner that is neither “dwarven” nor “chicago”.

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“Are you Mordechai?”. Mugsy asks. “I’m Paul, this is Thufir and that’s Duncan.” He motions to Jamison and then Azog. “A goodly woman in the warrens, Esther gave us your card and mentioned you were in the war. We were going to see about some business but when I heard you were in the war, I wanted to give you my thanks. I was over there too, but we would have lost if it wasn’t for those Orc boys.”

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Azog nods and tugs the brim of his hat, says nothing, and then begins peering out the glass onto the street outside.

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Jamison roots about for a decent cigarette case, or, possibly, a card box.

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GM:

“Esther? I don’t know any Esther. Moredechai’s in the hospital. And I certainly ain’t ever heard of no Paul, Thufir, and Duncan. Sorry, can’t help you. Gettout.”

The eyes flash behind the eyebrow, almost as if he’s just waiting for you to protest or take some sort of hostile action.

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“You, uh… You guys wouldn’t have any cigarette cases, wouldja? Something classy?”

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Azog turns his head and says, “Hmpf! We walked all this way, and for what?”

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GM:

The eyes beneath the eyebrows flash, and a stubby hand points towards the door, “Can’t you see we’re closed? Why would I be sellin’ ya anything when we’re closed! Gettout!”

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“Easy, now. We’re not here to cause problems. What hospital is he in?”

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GM:

“Can’t you see we’re closed? Gettout!”

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Azog turns back to look at the door. “Huh.” At last he flips the sign back around. “Hm?” he lilts, as if to say, “Better?”

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GM:

Something seems to soften just a tad in the dwarf, and the fuzzy head swivels once more towards Jamison, “Seems your friend, whichever one he’s supposed to be, Thufir or Duncan, has decided we’re open after all. I won’t have any of my good cigarette cases out on display, not in this part of town, anyhow. If you’re really buying, I’ve got some pieces I can show you, but if you’re just trying to case my joint, you’re wasting both of our time.”

He turns to mugsy, “I’m not about to tell you a damn thing about Mordechai, because I don’t know a damn thing about you. Now come clean or get lost.” He scowls at you, beady eyes behind bushy eyebrows, a sight that is just comical enough in the moment that Mugsy might have to stifle a chuckle.

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Jamison looks at the Dwarf. “If we’re talking price, then I’m buying. I saw you didn’t have anything good on the shelves, but, in this part of town, that hardly meant you didn’t have anything. And if I wanted to case this place, I could do it from outside. But the eyes all over the place outside would have let you know I was doing it, I’ll bet.”

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“Go ahead and sell this man a case. We can take a commercial break.”

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GM:

The dwarf’s eyes glitter, and he disappears from behind the counter, reappearing almost instantly directly in front of Jamison. “Now, just what, exactly, are you looking for in a cigarette case – that you would be coming to a jeweler and a watchmaker to purchase one?”

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Jamison smiles. “Something, clean. Not obvious, not too ornamental. I don’t have a ton of money, and I’m not trying to advertise that I do. Simple, you follow? Sharp, but not too sharp. I’m a simple man. Maybe… I dunno. Brushed steel with some silver? Something a man can bring out of his pocket without looking like he’s trying too hard.”

Jamison looks at the other fellows in the room. “I’m allergic to trying too hard.”

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GM:

The glitter in the dwarf’s eye fades just a bit, “Just a simple case, then, eh? But more than what you see here? Hrm…” he ponders a moment.

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“Well, normal shops around here won’t be working with silver, you know. But then, yeah, I’m not looking for what everyone else is looking for.”

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GM:

The dwarf grins, “What do you want it to do?”

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Jamison chuckles. “Hold cigarettes. Why, what…”

Jamison’s eye snap open. “What could it do?”

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GM:

The dwarf shrugs nonchalantly and gives a mischievous grin, “Oh, that’s a big question, depending on how much you’re spending.” He pulls out a plain looking cigarette case from his apron and sets it on the counter top.

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Jamison nods. “I’m glad we came to the point where we could discuss such things,” Jamison stated, scratching his chin. “We have issues. People, who would otherwise be fine, outstanding folks, I’m sure, have a great number of advantages over us. They are looking to use those advantages against us. Sadly, I doubt they could be persuaded not to. They have magick, and they have communication, which are two advantages we’d like to get around.”

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GM:

The dwarf nods understandingly and slides the cigarette case across the counter to Jamison.

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“So, two more questions. One, what’s the damages, and two, how many cigarettes will it hold?” He smiles widely.

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GM:

The dwarf shakes his head, “No cigarettes. Try it, then you can make me an offer.”

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Azog now takes interest in the goings on. He has seen trinkets used to cheat at cards and dice, devices that can hide a playing card or a pair of loaded dice in etherspace and then call them back again. He hasn’t any cigarettes with which to experiment, though.

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Jamison picks up the cigarette case. Gingerly, he passes it between hands, and looks it over. Then, after a second of thought, he opens it.

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GM:

As soon as Jamison opens the case, the entire room goes pitch black. Even Azog’s thermal vision is rendered moot. The dwarf can be heard chuckling gleefully, bit even his voice seems muted.

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“Neat trick, but I don’t see how thats all that helpful. Now no one can see.”

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GM:

As Mugsy speaks, he notices that his words come out garbled and unrecognizeable.

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Jamison casts his eyes around the room. “Brilliant,” he muses.

He shuts the case.

“Paul. Have a turn.” He hands Mugsy the case.

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GM:

As Jamison shuts the case, the lighting/sound in the room immediately returns to normal. However, the room has changed: the windows and door are shuttered closed from within, and in the center of the room sits an ork in a clockwork wheelchair. “Indeed, Mugsy. Or Paul, if you prefer, have a turn.” he says with a toothy grin.

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Jamison’s jaw drops, and he spends the next moment chewing air.

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Azog is completely lost.

“Are we… inside the box?” He looks around and blinks his eyes as if to clear them of schmutz.

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Mugsy rubs his chin as he speaks. “Now thats a trick I might find useful.” Then, “So you do know Esther.”
Mugsy gives the cigarette case an open and close. He even does it a few times to see if something different happens each time.

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GM:

Behind Jamison, the dwarf cackles gleefully.

The ork nods, “Indeed, she spoke with me earlier tonight and informed me of your impending arrival. She warned me that you would likely attempt to deceive me regarding your identities, but to forgive you for your last of trust and candor. Had she not so forewarned me, I would not be willing to do business with you, however tonight we will do so as a favor to her.”

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“She is a good woman. One never can be too careful. I do appreciate you considering her in this matter.” Mugsy smiles.

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GM:

Again the ork nods, then leans back in his chair, as if possibly even this conversation is taxing his strength, “As you may have guessed, I am Mordechai. This is my longtime comrade, Gimbel who ostensibly owns this establishment. There are many services with which we can assist you, both magical and clockwork in nature. However, I do ask that you consider the lateness of the hour and do your best to be brief in this visit. Esther informs me that you can, in fact pay, for what items you decide you need, so we will be forthcoming with all that we have instantly available.”

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Taking his cue, Azog produces the small case with the remaining cash (but does not open it).

[By my reckoning it’s about $3000.]

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“We’re expecting some heavy magical resistance in an upcoming encounter. As my friend mentioned, we’d like negate their advantage to the highest degree possible.”

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GM:

Mordechai smiles forebearingly, “Mugsy, tell me, what do you know of how magic works, specifically, how a mage wields the ethereal powers to his desired end?”

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“The Mage concentrates really hard?”

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“Yeah,” Jamison says. “Something about the Mage knowing how to use his willpower to affect reality through limited channels. That’s why they have to rely on spells for limited effects, or something the like.”

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Azog has lost track of the conversation. He is peering into a display case of men’s pocket watches.

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GM:

The dwarf emits a high pitched exasperated sigh. For his part, Mordechai chuckles, “Indeed. Well, suffice it to say that your understanding is somewhat lacking, although not entirely incorrect. Mr. Chambers is correct, however, that a mage uses channels to limit and focus his or her power. Spells turn raw power into something useable, rather than wantonly destructive. Additionally, they insulate the mage from the harmful effects of wielding magic. Without proper incantation, the sheer activated power of the spell could be enough to destroy the caster.”

He pauses, allowing his audience to process briefly.

“Thus, the genius behind Gimbel’s Cigarette case is that it renders many of the caster’s senses useless. This prevents the mage from being able to accurately incant the spell, thus cutting him or her off from the appropriate tools for focusing, wielding, and insulating from the magical power.” He smiles proudly.

“Additionally, the majority of spells require what we call ‘Line of Effect’. In other words, most mages cannot attack you unless they can see you, cause you to hear them, touch you, or affect you directly by some means. Gimbel’s Cigarette Case inhibits both the visual and auditory channels by which a mage might attack you.”

With that he sits back in his wheeled chair and breathes with some effort. Mugsy, being closest, will notice a contraption attached to the back of the chair which seems to move in sync with his breathing.

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“Thats great. It scrambles their brains as well as ours. We’re protected from magic but just as useless as they are. You have anything that messes with them but not us?”

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“Mugsy, when you’re holding the case, you can see. I could have shot you, clean and clear.”

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Azog leaves the watches and horns in on the conversation. “How many cigarettes does it hold?”

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[Sorry, I thought I had him try the case a few times in quick succession.] “Ah well, in those circumstances, whats one of these set someone back?”

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“And I’ll need another one like it, only just a cigarette holder, no darkness, please. And we ought to hit the tobacconist across the way afterward. I hate to die a hero and not have any smokes.” Azog says this without apparent irony.

“Also, I’d like to try a pocket watch. That big one. And the longest chain you have, please. I always wanted to check out in style.”

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GM:

Aw geez, Ethan, I missed that you did that. Ironic, as I was specifically looking for you to do so. Forgive me! Mugsy would have seen that while the case is open, everything is dark and sound is garbled, but that while he’s holding the case he can see a clear silhouette (nothing more) of everything around him. Mugsy suspects that even if it were dark, he might be able to see this silhouette.

The Ork raises an eyebrow, and the dwarf cackles, motioning Azog over to himself. Mordechai shakes his head, “I’m afraid you misheard me. You will need to make us an offer. There is no set price.”

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Azog gives a quizzical look very much like a dalmatian listening to a gramophone, then follows the dwarf.

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GM:

The dwarf continues to cackle as he scoops out handfuls of metal cigarette cases onto the counter. They range from chincy to costume in quality, but they are all shiny metal cigarette cases. After dumping out a pile of them on the counter for Azog to root through, he disappears through the curtain covering the entrance to the back of the store.

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Azog selects a simple silver case, a near double for the magical one.

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GM:

As Azog goes to pocket the case, he habitually opens it and finds that the case contains one Macanudo Cigarillo, laying at an angle to fit.

After a few moments, the dwarf returns, cackling as he does so. In stead of staying behind the counter, he makes his way into the main area, pausing by Mordechai and holding up a silver pocket watch on a lengthy chain. Mordechai raises his eyebrows, but says nothing, and the dwarf makes his way over to Azog to present the item – so perfect that it’s almost as if Azog imagined it.

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Azog starts back on his heels, one hand to his hat and the other waving wide for balance. Astounded at the workmanship, beauty and size of the timepiece, Azog leers with his tongue lolling.

“H—, how much for that one?” he asks, attempting nonchalance.

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GM:

“500.” The dwarf barks, and there is a glint of steel in his eyes as he says it. Azog has never seen a more delightful fob in his life.

Foible Activation! 2 Style dice if you blow the money without thought!

Gimbel's Jewelers
 

“Five hund’red dollars? That’s outrageous. A watch that fine oughta fetch seven-fifty easy! Sold.” He opens the case and produces the bills. “Wow! Whoever picks my corpse is gonna have a heckuva payoff.”

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GM:

In his haste to make payment, Azog fumbles the case and spills the bills all over the floor. Gimbel deftly bends over and snatches up what appears to be $500 out of the pile, and gently sets the fob on top of the spilled pile of cash.

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“Oh! How clumsy o’ me.” He stoops to collect the bills from the floor.

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Azog finishes gathering up the bills into the case. He stands, admires his new watch, and then attaches the chain to his trousers so that it dangles nearly to the ground from beneath his coat.

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Jamison scowls. He draws a deep breath, shakily lets it out, and draws another, steadier breath. Then, he walks over to Azog, beaming at himself in front of a shortened full-length mirror that is attached to one of the two shelf-rows.

“Nice watch.” He waits for Azog to start to say something, and then cuts him off. “Where’d you get the money? What was that money for, anyway? Wasn’t there something we were supposed to be doing?” His mouth hints at a scowl, but just a hint, and just for a second.

“Mugsy, you know this man better than I do. Take the cash from him before we’re fighting our opposition with slingshots, for Christ’s sake. You know, Azog, for someone who’s willing to throw wads of cash in a goddamned collection tin, you sure do have extravagant tastes. Now, tuck that goddamned chain into your goddamned trousers, before someone who’s a bit less oblivious than you are makes off with your new-found accessories, alright, kid?”

With that, he turns and looks at the dwarf, his eyes giving the man behind the desk a look reserved for those cruel hearts that take advantage of children and the mentally infirm.

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Azog opens his mouth to protest, then turns sheepish and holds out the case for the taking.

“Easy come, easy go,” he says.

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“Well then, $1000 it is.” Mugsy groans

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GM:

Mordechai smiles a toothy grin, “Excellent!” He gestures towards the dwarf, who in turn collects the money from Jamison. “It appears that you still have funds, and I might have more to offer…” Mordechai trails off, gauging your reaction.

Gimbel's Jewelers
 

“Gentlemen, it’s time we had a talk.” Jamison walks to the back of the store, where only the acoustics can hear. He waits for everyone to get back there. “We’re now dangerously short of funds. Mug, find out what else he has to offer, and don’t make any more large bids. At the rate we’re spending, we’ll be lucky to afford ammo. Azog, don’t touch ANYTHING. Anything, you get me? That wad of $20s would have bought us a bit of comfort, you know. And, I know, God gives to us, so that we can give to others. But, now’s not the time, okay?”

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Azog silently hands over the remainder. [By my lights, about $1500 remain uncommitted.]

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“Alright, what else have you got?”

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GM:

The dwarf gives off an exasperated wheeze, and Mordechai shakes his head ever so slightly, “The list of what I do and do not have is quite exhaustive and, I am afraid, exhausting. Perhaps it would be simpler for me to ask you two questions: What would you like, and what would you pay for it?”

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“Hey now, you said you had more to offer. We told you what you were up against. I don’t know as we need anything more. You want to suggest something go right ahead.”

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GM:

The ork sighs and gives Mugsh what clearly seems to be a look of pity, “No, no. I will not force my wares on anyone. Thank you for your business, gentlemen, I will give your regards to Esther.” He gestures towards the door and begins to turn his powered chair around to exit towards the back. Doing so reveals a significant amount of machinery operating rhythmically in time with his breathing.

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“Now hold up, pal,” Azog snorts. “You sure are in a hurry to walk away from all that cash you saw on the floor just now. How about you give us a minute to put our heads together and come up with something?”

Gimbel's Jewelers
 

“You’ve spent enough on baubles that won’t help us in this fight, troll-kin. Keep your mind and hands away from the kitty frm this point on. Capiche?”

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“Yeah,” Jamison sniffs. “We got what we came for, Nicely. Now, let’s get down the road a bit, and we can discuss our next step.”

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Mugsy turns to the chair-bound ork. “I meant to thank you for your service, Mordechai. We couldn’t have won the war without you. I’m sure even I don’t appreciate the cost.”

Gimbel's Jewelers
 

Azog makes a face and says, “All right, let’s skedaddle. It’s getting late, after all.” He ostentatiously unpockets the watch and opens the face to check the time.

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GM:

Mordechai grunts and replies over his shoulder, “No, Mr. Gillenhaus, I doubt you do. Good evening, and good luck.”

With that he exits the room. Tou turn to see the Dwarf staring daggers at you and pointing towards the door.

Gimbel's Jewelers
 

“I see it, I see it.” Mugsy says. “Come one gentlemen, lets ride.”

Gimbel's Jewelers
 

After checking to see that the street is clear, Azog holds open the door for his human compatriots. With his other hand he blows a kiss at the dwarf and gives a little wave good-by.

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Jamison scowls at the Dwarf, and makes his way out onto the street.

“It’s a good thing you know these people, Mugsy. I dunno where we’d be without ’em.” His eyes slide to give Mugsy a once-over. “Seriously. I’d have started a block war to get where we are. Probably best that calmer heads prevailed.”

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Azog looks about for a cab, but doesn’t seem to spot one.

[Streetwise: 2d+2=1+3+2=6

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“Let’s hope they still deal with me after this. I’ve rarely seen people do business so grudgingly.”

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“One of those men bilked us out of five hundred clams for a watch. They’ll do business with us again, if we happen to manage this kind of cash again.” Jamison drew a breath, and started walking. “If we live.”

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“He had an accomplice…” Mugsy levels a lazy eye at Azog.

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“It’s done.” Jamison took a deep breath. “What we need, now, is to take inventory of what we have, what our tools are, and what we need to accomplish.”

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“We still need to get that sting going from the Port Authority, but it’s likely too late for that. I don’t know about you, but I think a place to relieve oneself and get something to eat would do just fine at this point. After saving and cleaning Esther’s place, hoofing it over here and watching so much of that money go, leaves me hungry and thirsty.”

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“We could scare up some grub and a flop at the Salvation Army soup kitchen,” Azog chimes in. “Matter o’ fact, we oughtta get word to the Preacher that you-know-who might be after him. Or us.”

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“We aren’t going to eat at the soup kitchen, you big lummock. We don’t need charity. Besides, I bet quality cooking isn’t exactly their forte. If we ate there it’d be an insult to all those that need that food.”

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GM:

As the three of you are talking, you see a cab approaching you. One of you manages to flag it down and it pulls over. The human driver gives you a queer eye but shrugs as you pile in, “Where to, fellas?”

Gimbel's Jewelers
 

“Just a minute.”

To the others: “If the Salvation Army ain’t good enough for us, what say we find a nearby phone booth and then a restaurant and a flo—uh, hotel room? I ain’t ready to go back to sleeping under bridges yet.”

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“I have a safe house we can crash in.” Its a little ways from the Labrador. We won’t be taking the cab the whole way there, though."

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Azog opens the door and slides into the back seat, pitching the car side to side as he shifts his weight.

“Safe, eh? Sounds perfect.”

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“Is there any food? I could eat a horse.”

With that, Jamison slides in, shutting the door behind him.

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“We’ll take care of that before we bed down.” Mugsy responds.

Gimbel's Jewelers
MadDogMaddux

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