1d20 ⇒ 2
1d20 ⇒ 10
Lord Reginald lands rather unflatteringly on Trinia, and immediately small tendropods wrap out to cling to the girl. The hellknight that had previously been preparing to noose her takes an involuntary step back, with a hint of panic forming when he then hears Pagrip's explanation. The other hellknight bravely holds his ground, but between gritted teeth he whispers to Pagrip, "What? You with the paladin, what manner of work do you do that you know such things?"
Blackjack in the interim cautiously takes a half-step closer to Trinia, nodding a wink at Esmerelda he adds: "Have you met your match already? Come at me!" Then suddenly he parries up to the right to ward off another slash by the spiritual weapon.
You figure that Blackjack wants to use a charade of a duel as cover to get closer to Trinia.
Did Caulder succeed in getting up on the platform where the action is?
Oops! Sorry, I kept thinking in the back of my mind that I was forgetting something.
At Caulder's indignant roar the circle of hellknights falters. Before their uncertainty can lead to undesired consequences, their commander steps towards Caulder. "You! The Bank now officially is charged with apprehending the interloper! Do what you must!" He waves off those nearest the cleric. "We'll see to the hanging."
He shouts to his men.
"The dwarf's lying," Caulder tells the Hellknights flatly as he plants himself between Blackjack and the condemned. "You abet this vigilante, dwarf, and you'll be back in jail for real this time, no question about your guilt. I've got a whole square full of witnesses."
casts divine favor
Pagrip sighs. "A square full of idiots, apparently. Wake up, Caulder. You're the one abetting the criminals here. This young lady was condemned illegally. She had no trail. The Hell Knights are nothing more than thugs with a badge. Good gods, it's even in their name. Hell! Throw me in jail if you want. I'll go willingly, but I won't stand by and let injustice thrive like you do everyday in your mistaken belief that you're supporting law and order."
He puts his hands on his head and allows himself to be arrested. "Sorry, kid," he says to Trinia. "I tried. At least you won't have to go on living in this mockery of a city."
Lord Reginald, makes a stately disappearance, hugging along the shadows and pillars of timber. His progress is slow - but thankfully unmarred by persecution as all eyes are still on stage.
The frank dialogue between Pagrip and Caulder is largely unheard by the crowd, but the hellknights - specifically the two still next to Trinia - are galvanized into action.
Trip 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
The one closest to the dwarf attempts to push him over with a well-placed stomp to the back of the knees - but Pagrip's stable nature allows him to shrug off the maneuver with merely a stumble. The other hellknight throws the noose around Trinia's neck; swiftly he pulls it close until there's almost no slack left.
The assembled crowd is caught up with the swiftness at which the execution now proceeds, split between how to react the mass' presence carries over the plaza with a ringing urgency of shouts.
The hellknights in circle of the execution stage draw up their weapons sharply; almost as one - though it is unclear if an actual order was given. Regardless, it is clear that they will immediately and violently defend the stage.
For a moment it appears the black-clad man still wanted to tell her something. But the sudden climax prevents that.
Attack of opportunity 1d20 ⇒ 14
Blackjack lunges wildly towards Esmerelda, again a ploy designed to throw off observers, but this time his steps carry on further. Swiftly he rushes by both Pagrip and the dwarf's hellknight assailant. For a moment there's uncertainty as the hellknight tries to smash Blackjack's ribcage - but the weapon misses its mark as the black-clad man uses the dwarf as a pivot to suddenly move out of harms way.
Unexpectedly, the hands over Pagrip's head now hold something. It feels like a small glass vial.
Blackjack reaches Trinia. At the same time the commander of the hellknights reaches the lever to trip the trapdoor to complete the hanging. As the one pushes the lever, the other wraps Trinia and himself with his cape. The trapdoor gives way, they fall.
A stunned silence spreads our from the stage over the crowd. A small column of smoke hangs in the air, vaguely reminiscent of a body swaying ever so slightly on an empty noose.
Pagrip is a bit startled by the trip attempt and resists it out of pure instinct rather than an actual desire to do so. "Hey, I'm giving myself up here," he says. "No need for violence. I don't want to fight anyone."
He continues to stand there, hands above his head until the smoke clears. If the Hell Knight (or anyone else) attacks him again, he'll go down on his knees (he'll let another trip attempt succeed). He does not draw a weapon, and he does not resist in any manner.
One hellknight next to Pagrip remains, who instructs him to hold out his hands so he can manacle them.
Most of the hellknight's follow suite with the paladin, though this action is soon ended by confused shouts as underneath the platform nobody can be seen. The irate commander's voice gains a certain high-pitched rage as he orders a thorough search - half the hellknights begin to swarm outward towards the crowd, which does its damnedest to get the hell away.
From Caulder's position it is obvious that the flight will quickly devolve into a stampede.
Ten, as one of the crowd, decides to move with the masses in an attempt to get away from the Hellknights. I won't be much use to Pagrip or the Bankers if I get thrown into a Hellknight dungeon alongside them. First, get away from here. Maybe Kroft can help me find them later.
Ten lets himself be swept away with the mass of people. Fortunately the plaza opens into several streets and alleys - and without constriction the stampede turns out relatively harmless.
A few luckless individuals roll on the floor turning a pained expression - but nobody appears to be lifeless, as far as Caulder, Esmerelda and Pagrip can tell. The hellknights round up the dozen-or-so civilians - including Pagrip - that they could lay their hands on. Their commander is obviously furious, he leaves Caulder and Esmerelda free to do as they please, but emphasizes that the Bank will hear of this.
"And who'll hear about a bunch of Hellknights who stood around with their mouths hanging open for the better part of a minute instead of either hanging a criminal or apprehending a vigilante?" Caulder grumbles furiously. "Darkbane! What was your problem? You were supposed to be taking the traitor into custody, not whispering with him over fencing practice."
After a search under the stage, Esme climbs back onto the stage and mumbles back at Caulder "I don't see you doing any better, Cleric."
Searching: Perception: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (10) + 0 = 10
Esme scratches her head and says louder "Looks like they got away. Pagrip, stop playing with the Hellknights and see if you can find their trail."
Pagrip, now, is securely manacled. "Your friend is being charged with the rescue of a convicted murderer." The hellknight in charge stares down at Esmerelda with a cold fury. "The Bank cannot protect you forever - when this dwarf talks; and he will sing, then you better hope that your position can still save you." He barks a command in infernal and the hellknights begin marching towards their citadel, the prisoners in tow.
"Sing?" Pagrip pipes up. "Well, I have a decent singing voice, even if I do say so myself." He chuckles. "Don't worry, Esme. You were trying to stop Blackjack. I was the only one doing anything wrong. At any rate, it's been good working with you. Sorry it had to end this way. You too, Caulder. Sorry about the nasty words. Heat of the moment and all. Take care, both of you. And pass on my farewells to Ten, too. And Sir Reginald. I'll miss them both."
He looks up at the Hell Knight. "So, what's your prison food like?"
"I started out 80 feet back in the crowd," Caulder retorts to the Hellknight, "and had to shove my way up here. That vigilante was up here right next to your men posturing for more than a minute, and none of you made a move, either to engage him or to call for reinforcements or to do your damn job and execute the murderer. Why didn't you give the command to complete the execution at any time in the more than sixty seconds you had to do so? All you had to do was say the word! If anyone was trying to make sure he had time to do what he was here to do, it was you!"
One hellknight yanks on Pagrip's manacles, pulling the dwarf a little of balance. "Food? You'll be spilling your guts over it." The procession marches on steadily.
The commander takes the time to shout back at Caulder, there's a hint in the voice that behind the helmet the hellknight is colored a bright red in anger and frustration. "We engaged the vigilante and proceeded according to protocol. Executions are a serious matter and we follow strict doctrine to ensure the smooth proceedings. The murderer was in fact hanged but is now not hanging! Your dwarven associate no doubt plays an important part in her escape and once we know what that is then the Bank will have much to answer for to associate with such dregs of society!"
I'm am planning to move forward the timeline to the evening in the next post. If you wish to say or accomplish something in the interim - don't hesitate to post and I'll accommodate it.
Esme attempts to grab the manacles out of the hellknights grip "I am sorry commander, (what was your name again?), the dwarf is my responsibility and as such any wrong doing on his part fall under Bank jurisdiction. If you want him, you will have to go through the proper channels. Take him now and I assure you the Bank can make life very difficult for you."
"Preposterous!" But the hellknight falters for a moment.
I'll let the dice decide on this: suitable roleplay adds bonuses, then you get to make rolls for Diplomacy and Knowledge(local) to state your case. (I'll allow Sense Motive and Knowledge(religion) as supporting skills which can add bonuses too, likewise for any well substantiated other skill.)
"Now, wait a minute, Darkbane," Caulder interposes. "If you're fool enough to claim responsibility for whatever the dwarf chooses to do, it's on your own head, but don't drag the Bank into it. He has nothing to do with them. He answers directly to Field Marshal Cressida Kroft, so technically he's under the jurisdiction of the Korvosan Guard. They'll have to take his allocation up with her."
Adding another layer of bureaucracy to be appeased can't hurt, right? The more organizations it sounds like can make trouble for them, the better. :)
"I brought Pagrip with me. He is my responsibility. But it is as you say Cleric. We will have to take him to the Field Marshal. Though I did not see any of what he is accused of."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (2) + 8 = 10. Well apparently the dice want Pagrip to go be tortured by Hellknights. Can't we use one of the card things to add +4 or something? Would it make a difference?
1d20 ⇒ 13
Apparently yes :)
A dexterity bonus/reroll probably doesn't apply to your knowledge checks/diplomacy rolls. :p
"Bah! The crown has vested the hellknights with right of police in matters Korvosa and specifically charged us with the handling of this hanging. Neither the Bank's nor the Guard's authority takes precedence in this instance!" He turns smartly and marches off with the rest of the hellknights.
"What are you thinking, Darkbane?" the cleric mutters angrily as the Hellknights move away with their prisoner. "Don't taint the Bank by association with that dwarf. He was lying to a legitimate authority about that damned ...hedgehog, and he was trying to aid a traitor and vigilante while doing it! Hells, he was the one who caught up to her and then let her go on the roof the other day, too. He's probably been working against the City this whole time."
Caulder will spend the rest of the day trying to track down any information he can about Blackjack: known associates, areas of the city he's been seen in, past exploits, etc. Knowledge (local) 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19 Diplomacy to gather information 1d20 ⇒ 20 Woohoo! I'll see that showboating traitor in chains yet! :D
Ten ignores Lord Reginald's advice, choosing not to bake a cake (with a file hidden inside) for Pagrip. Ten instead tries to visit Esme and Caulder at the bank to discuss the Dwarf Issue. Not finding them (since they're both out and about), he leaves a note asking them to meet in the morning, after their daily coin-counting, outside the Bank.
Ten otherwise spends the day trudging around town with no specific goal, though he keeps his ears open for any interesting bits of news.
Caulder finds the town ablaze with rumors and gossip on the failed hanging - and by extension on Blackjack. Whereas before there was a pretty even spread of supporters and detractors of the queen, now a majority side against her. Especially the poorer districts are ringing with praise for Blackjack.
Caulder is not alone in trying to figure out Blackjack's identity - he's a figure of legend in Korvosa after all - and Caulder hears many disparate views. The following are the bits of gossip that Caulder determines are somewhat useful:
1. Blackjack must have come out of retirement - as he hadn't been heared of or seen in over a decade. As such Blackjack must be a man quite advanced in years.
2. Blackjack's newest incarnation revealed himself; it has long been theorized that Blackjack is actually a succession of men, the former training the later. As such Blackjack must be relatively young, possibly with an older mentor or beneficiary.
3. One eye witness claims a man in a black cape dashed out of a plume of smoke that suddenly appeared not too far away from the plaza.
4. One eye witness claims to have seen a man of nobility climb out of a sewer entrance near the plaza.
5. Two eye witnesses, siblings, claim to have overheard a conversation near the plaza in the morning that suggests that the carpenters who built the hanging platform had been bribed.
Esmerelda's pre-occupation with the hellknights finally pays off, when around two hours after sunset a pale and drawn looking Pagrip is released into her custody. The hellknights give no indication as to why the dwarf has been released - but the likely reason becomes evident not long after the paladin returns to Korvosa (as Citadel Vraid - the stronghold of the hellknights - is some two hours south of the city). In spite of the late hour Esmerelda overhears rumors that Trinia's name has been cleared.
On closer examination it appears that the high priestess of Pharasma, Bishop Keppira d'Bear herself, has performed truth seeing rites in an undisclosed location where Trinia is currently under observation and cared for. The representative of Pharasma is considered the highest instance of theological authority in Korvosa and possibly all of Varisia and her testimony weighs heavily. An official statement has not been made by the crown, though it has acknowledged that the priestess' oath admonishes Trinia Sabor of any crimes and that an internal inquiry is under way to reveal how such a gross mistake could have been made.
Pagrip experienced a painful interrogation. He remembers the initial beatings and the desperation with which he was questioned. But after a few hours the combination of drugs he was fed, magic performed on him and straight-up brutality blended into a blur that he's quietly thankful for, as it robbed him of a clear memory of what happened to him. The questions he was asked ranged from all angles, who he was, how he got to Korvosa, who he knew, and so forth - and he obliged with answers as much as they wanted; except all questions eventually led to "who is Blackjack?" and he always failed to give a satisfying answer at that point.
Pagrip carries a physical memory of the ordeal with him, in the form of 1d4 ⇒ 3 damage to his Constitution score.
Lastly, Ten finally graduates into a level 3 character! Time to take that level in Lightning Warrior.
Esme remains quiet on the walk back from Citadel Vraid, occasionally glancing at Pagrip, ready to catch him if he should fall apart, which it looks like he will at any second now.
If Pagrip agrees, Esme will take him to the bank to have the clerics have a look at him. And maybe some food too.
Due to Esmerelda's care, Pagrip can assume that he's had a particular good night's sleep - as if benefiting from long-term care.
The morning beckons Korvosa, still blanketed in a thick fog that seems to flow against the tide. Given the recent events, it may seem strange to find that the city is essentially back to its usual rhythm. The impurities of the city hidden in its numerous cracks both below the ground and above the roofs of the slightly better of.
Ten is up early; to check on his most recent experiments, he tells himself, but more-so because the cold fog clings to his body in a way that makes sleep an attractive, but unattainable, proposition. The sound of Esmerelda's warm and caring words do little to distract him, so it is only when he hears, "...arshall has requested we seek her out today. Apparently it is not urgent and does not have to do with any official guard business, or so the messenger said."
Esme buffs her armour early in the morning and also checks up on how Pagrip is doing. (And gives Ten a wave if she sees him). She makes an effort to avoid Caulder if at all possible. Nothing worse than a preachy cleric early in the morning. Especially if he also happens to be right.
Pagrip awakens and cleans himself up as best he can. He remains quiet and non-talkative, a sunken look on his face. He stays as near to whatever room in the Bank he's staying in as he can. He avoids wandering around as much as possible. He particularly avoids as many clerics as he can (a difficult thing in the Bank of Abadar, no doubt).
The day remains largely uneventful, the late evening in turn has one noteworthy event: a wooden screech followed by a thunderous impact, repeated a few more times, as a river-guarding trebuchet fires - certainly loud enough to startle anyone in northern Korvosa. Trebuchet firing is not entirely unheard of, maybe twice a year, but is still a rare occurence, especially as rumors suggest that it wasn't a training exercise.
A few days later, when the four unlikely heroes make it before the Field Marshall again (upon her request), Cressida sighs with deep contentment. "Ah. Great timing, I hope you have a bit of time today. If not I would appreciate if you could cancel any prior engagements. I would consider it a personal favour if you could assist in this matter." She stands up from her behind her desk and paces a bit before abruptly stopping and addressing the party again: "Normally I would turn to the church of Pharasma in this matter - as this job is closer to their jurisdiction - but in this case a faster, more versatile solution is needed." She half-smiles, half-sours her expressions as conflicting emotions cross her mind. "With this is city, there's always something that needs attention, and one pot or other always threatens to boil over. I trust you're all familiar with the Shoanti that call Korvosa their home? There's been... an incident... that may cause far too much trouble if it isn't handled swiftly. The recent mob violence has had victims. Some more detrimental to Korvosa than others. Allow me to introduce you to Thousand Bones."
With that she nods to a guard that was on hand, and a few minutes later he returns along with a grizzled, ancient looking man. He leans heavily on a walking stick, the polished femur of some giant beast crowned with a firepelt cougar’s skull. He wears a shirt decorated with countless jangling animal bones, many painstakingly scrawled with dozens of tiny symbols and glyphs. A bearskin cloak is draped about his bony shoulders, and warpaint in the shape of a skull decorates his face. The Shoanti’s eyes are milky as if he were blind, but he appears to see well enough. Cressida introduces him as Thousand Bones, Way-Keeper of the Skoan-Quah, the clan of the skull.
Thousand Bones speaks with measured tones, but there's an undertone of suppressed anger that comes through regardless. "My people have worked hard to understand yours, yet it seems each day we see new examples of how your people work just as hard to foster old hatreds. My grandson is dead, beaten to death by cowards in your city street. I do not blame you, yet still Gaekhen is dead, and my son and his kin are not so forgiving as I. They wish to return to the Skoan-Quah in the Cinderlands, to join with the Sklar-Quah and rally to war against Korvosa. This would be disastrous, for both our peoples. Amends must be made. Our ways are not as yours. If a body does not go whole to the fires of the gods, the smoke of a warrior’s spirit cannot rise to the Great Sky. If I could send Gaekhen’s body to the Great Sky with honor and dignity, his father and brothers would listen to me and stay their wrath - the talks of peace between my people and yours can continue. But he was not just murdered. His body was taken from the scene of his death, sold by a peddler of corpses to a necromancer named Rolth, a criminal to both our people. I have spoken with the spirits, and they have revealed to me that Gaekhen’s body has been taken to a place below your boneyard, a place the spirits call the Dead Warrens. With this knowledge, I could surely lead a group of my finest warriors into your boneyard to retrieve Gaekhen’s body, but this would be seen as an act of aggression by your people. No, it falls to you to make amends for what has been done. You must bring me Gaekhen’s body, lest we be forced to recover him ourselves. And although it pains my heart to say it - we will not be gentle if it comes to this."
Thousand Bones has been added to the supporting cast, here's a portrait
Diplomacy 1d20 ⇒ 17
Caulder's mouth twists into a tight grimace when the old man enters the room; he is obviously impressed by neither his wardrobe of roadkill nor the ancient and barbaric ways of his people. When Thousand Bones mentions "speaking with the spirits," he arches a sardonic brow and murmurs in Esmerelda's ear:
Unmoved by the Shoanti's tale of woe, he waits impassively for official orders from the Field Marshal.
Diplomacy: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (20) - 1 = 19 Note to self: check North Bridge for interesting salvage later.
Ten's battered old pack now sits uncomfortably, partially squashing experiment 33 against his right shoulder blade. I'll need to see about buying a new bag today, he thinks to himself as he follows Esme into Kroft's office. During the introductions, Ten found himself constantly adjusting his pack's straps, missing much of the conversation until the mention of corpse peddling and necromancy caught his attention.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13 to hear Caulder
"Yes, I agree - a grave insult indeed. Leave this to us, Field Marshal, we'll retrieve the body."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25 Interesting...
Esme has dark circles around her eyes and seems to be clutching her right arm with the left hand. Despite these distractions she avidly listens to what Thousand Bones has to say. She gives Caulder an elbow in his ribs he tries to joke about the dead. "At least try to show a little respect." she mumbles back.
"We would be honoured to return your grandson's body to you. May the spirits always be with you."
Cressida nods briskly, "As Thousand Bones insists on waiting here at the citadel, I have high hopes of you four to succeed at this task quickly. We have the man who sold Gaekhen's body to Rolth in custody: a simpleton named Elkaris. He spilled everything when we told him what was going on and how much trouble he was in - in any event, Elkaris says he delivered the body via wheelbarrow to a partially collapsed mausoleum deep in Potter's Ward, near the southern edge. A toppled and headless statue of a sword-wielding gargoyle lay in the dirt near the mausoleum’s entrance - he was told to leave the body behind the gargoyle. This location matches where Thousand Bones believes the Shoanti burial grounds called the Dead Warrens used to be located, so that’s the best place to start the search. Unless you have questions, don't let me detain you any further."
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
"A description of Gaekhen would be good," Pagrip says, speaking up for the first time since they got there. "If this Rolth has bought one body, chances are he's got a few more as well. We don't want to bring the wrong body back. Also, what happens if Rolth has done something...well, unsavoury with it, like turned it into a zombie or chopped it into little pieces?"
The Field Marshall answers quickly, before the old Shoanti can burst into an angry tirade. "Thousand Bones described Gaekhen as about 18 years old with short brown hair and a distinctive scar from a firepelt's claw on his left cheek. Furthermore, Gaekhen had several large and distinctive Shoanti tribal tattoos on his arms and torso - it’s unlikely that any other freshly-killed Shoanti are in the Dead Warrens today, so that should be a dead giveaway. Regardless of the state in which you find Gaekhen, try to get all of his remains back here."
Cressida shrugs, then explains: "He's long been a thorn in my side. Rolth failed as an Academae student" she gives a momentary side-long glance at Pagrip, perhaps pity in her face, then continues, "he's a monster of a man who was expelled after the true nature of his experiments were revealed. He was butchering vagrants, stray animals, and anything else he could get his hands on to try to build some sort of golem from their collected parts. The Academae didn't press charges because it didn't want to cause a scene - just quietly expelled him and the man's been trouble ever since. We suspect he's responsible for nearly a dozen slayings, each involving mutilation to the body, but to date we haven't been able to find him or locate his lair. He might or might not be in the Dead Warrens, but anything you can find there that could lead to his arrest would be greatly appreciated."