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Wardove's Rumble in the Jungle

Game Master Laithoron

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"Um, yeah. I got that." Sasha said, the number of fvcks she gave, evident in her tone.


Young Noble

"Excellent! Well, since we all follow, there was a rather delicate matter the leaders of that temple needed to be handled... discretely."

"Now granted," he admitted, "none of my darker-hued contacts are the sort I would consider to be discrete, yet Amoya is both a devotee of Bälezu and a member of the City Guard, and the others are quite obviously outsiders even to uncivilized circles. That being the case, it was not surprising the Monseigneur would request Ms. Echorn by name from the Marshal's office."

When the others looked at him questioningly, Poe tilted his head and raised a finger. "Ah but 'what did he require and what did we learn,' you ask. Suffice it to say that a relic of some potency had been absconded with... 'stolen' if you will. Given that many of the Patricians have their wealth interred there with their bones and ashes, you might see why they would have a concern."


"Oh yeah!" Sasha nodded emphatically. "I'd be piiiissed if someone went and stole all my stuff after I die!"

"Seriously Ellie," she said shaking her friend by the shoulder, expression grave, "if that ever happened, I'd come back and haunt a b1tch! Any good Malatestan would, I bet they were worried the whole city would be filled with angry ghosts just crazy on everyone. I mean you remember how that old pirate captain nutted-up on us right? That really wouldn't be good in a big city like this!"


Young Noble

Poe nodded slowly, a black eyebrow arched incredulously over one of his orange eyes. "Riiiight... And I imagine their descendants would not be well-pleased either."

Shaking his head, Poe went on, "In any event, we did end up capturing a thief, a half-human girl name Aemalie who claimed to have tarried in the crypt after slipping in with a group of mourners. A contact she had met at Gods Save the Keg, that raven-haired, blue-eyed example of elven pulchritude I mentioned earlier, had apparently tasked her with stealing the crypt's defense mechanism — a black skull that filled the catacombs with a sort of soporific mist I am told."

At the mention of the black skull, you immediately remember the relic used by Lucretia to lay Arrowhead's defenses low.


"Easy there, Sash! Should the unthinkable happen, I will personally make sure your...uhhh...remains would not be disturbed." She gives her friend a (hopefully) reassuring smile.

As Poe continues with his tale, a sinking suspicion enters her mind. That relic sounds VERRRY familiar... When he finishes describing the relic stolen, she sighs heavily.

"Poe, I think the reason of the theft was to enable that murderous terrorist, O'beilumanji, to incapacitate the defenders manning Arrowhead Citadel! At least we were able to deactivate it..."


Young Noble

"Was it now?" The young elf seemed genuinely interested. "You see, Lady Ourson, Lord Hlokenar, my retinue is only recently returned to Port Eldarion. Following the events I am about to reveal, we had set off deep into Rivermarch and were both surprised and over-joyed to learn that O'beilumanji had been brought to task, although the toll of elven life was far too great a price to pay..."

"Yet another villainy that eluded my reach..." With a melancholy sigh, Poe handed his glass to your attending servant and turned away so that his face could not easily be seen. "After interrogating both Aemalie and the staff of The Keg, we had reason to suspect the theft was what I have told is termed an 'inside' job. Indeed, the evidence we discovered in the catacombs led us to believe that Aemalie and ourselves had been set up. She to be shouldered with the blame, ourselves to have discovered her remains."

Sense Motive DC 16 (Isaac, Sasha):
If you didn't know better, you would swear you saw Poe's eyes starting to water. It then occurs to you that he must feel personally responsible for the tragedies that have occurred... the Governor's death, O'beilumanji escaping, the black skull playing a part in the assault upon Arrowhead. In each case, had he been stronger there might have been something he could have done to prevent the eventual consequences of those acts.

"You see," he spun about, "the walls of the crypts had been recently breached from the sewers allowing all manner of magically-enhanced vermin to penetrate the interior. Being immune to the mind-affecting effects of such a relic, they should have persevered even where the thief might have faltered. There is only one problem... Aemalie is no mage, not even a sorceress. While that would have worked to the advantage of our mastermind, the vermin devouring her remains after she slipped in and was immobilized that evening, our clever girl was a legitimate scoundrel in her own right — she well knew of the temple's defenses and (as a precaution) had 'obtained' a medallion that girded her against the relic's presumed effects!"

Rolls:
Bluff 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (16) + 0 = 16

Sense Motive Checks:
I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (14) + 11 = 25
L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
S 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (18) + 2 = 20


"Sooo... some girl named Omel... ette snuck in and was going to steal the skull, but it was a trap?"


Young Noble

Poe seemed about ready to shake his head and correct the hapless human yet again when he was given pause. "Why... yes actually, that's exactly it, my good woman."

"It was all a ruse to create the appearance than the culprit had tunneled their way in and met their own death. We (or whomever else might have investigated) were only ever intended to find Aemalie's remains... evidence of a botched burglary."

The huntress was on the verge of interrupting yet again, when the young magus held up a finger. "AH! But what happened to the skull you ask? Obviously the magical apparatus was stolen by someone of rank within the temple before Aemalie entered! Remember, her employer had intended the girl to make her way far enough into the vault to encounter the giant beetles. Even slipping free of a party of mourners, she could not have done so if the black skull was still present and active! The burglar, then, was the self-same woman who had contracted Aemalie. A wolf in sheep's clothing, a false priestess who had duped even the servants of a deity who knows the fate of all men and elves, a mysterious woman of great charm and beauty–"


"WHOOO?!" Sasha was on the edge of her seat, head thrust forward in anticipation.


Young Noble

Smiling now, as he frame his tapered chin between thumb and forefinger, the elf answered, "Shivone... Her name was Shivone."


There was a brief moment of silence before the young lord flinched at the sound of Sasha's wine glass shattering upon the floor. Alarmed, the servant girl rushed over to attend to the mess whereupon Sasha stood dumbstruck. Silently catching the shorter woman by the wrist, the armored red head easily plucked the wine bottle from her grasp and proceeded to drain it entirely without pausing for breath.

Nearly choking as she finished, she thrust the empty vessel back at the servant, striking her in the chest with a shaking hand. "Get me another," she hissed, "now!"

The servant did not waste time on aught else.


"Ohhh my...GOD!"

While Lureene did not feel the desire to drain her own wine glass (at least not yet!), the name revealed was like a physical blow. Nearly chocking on her own wine she gasps, "Isaac, you know who that IS!"

She watches the servant hustle off to fulfill Sasha's order, lost in thought, mentally weighing how important this revelation is. Reaching a decision, she then turns to face Poe and says with a note of command in her voice, "Lord Poe, I believe it is time Her Highness was told of this news NOW!"

She waves another servant over. "Please inform her Highness Lady Ourson wishes to speak of her on a matter of utmost importance right away!"


While Lord Poe was still in the midst of recounting his exploits, Alis was herself mulling over Lady Mondracus' words.

If it is an issue of social standing, I can amend it that's true, but... She raised her chin, blue-violet eyes seeking the other woman's gaze. At every turn Amh's expressed nothing but disdain for the aristocracy. Most would jump at the promise of wealth and power afforded by title, but she has actively sought to hide from prestige.

Turning her head slightly, left hand caressing the mithril head of her scepter, Alis scanned the crowd. How many would welcome such a gesture? How many would oppose it? Iole would hate it regardless, but he could also complicate matters just to spite her. Carlina and Rinaldo seem to hold Amh in high regard though. At the very least, Naiobe is sympathetic towards the Zucktol natives, but then she isn't quite as easy to read as the others. She's been... guarded.

Beside her, Alis could feel Lilyana's eyes upon her, clearly wondering if her Princess was going to reply. Smiling slightly at the younger woman, Alis noted Elendreth and Lucio beyond her.

The situation with the Freebooters will be unpleasant. I'll certainly need the support of The Enclave to protect the capital. Even without open warfare, the Golden Drakes don't yet have the same connections this far south that they do in Chalësidhea. Lord Gallo may be more bark than bite, but that doesn't mean he couldn't sabotage trade out of spite. Still, even if she can't stand him, Lucio has warmed to Lureene...

The Princess allowed herself to smirk slightly at that last thought.

For all her quirks, men can't help but be attracted to El, that's for certain. She eyed Master Rochmir for a moment, noting the way his gaze had lingered on Arion. Well, most men anyway.

Yet there was one final matter troubling about Carlina's implied suggestion. It may be a noble's duty to lead, but that paradigm would be as foreign to her as pioneering The Shiv was to me. Amhranai's a priestess of Iscandü; she isn't a leader, she's a facilitator...


"Your Highness," Lilyana whispered, lips slightly parted to conceal their movement, "what will you do?"


Although it was royal prerogative that a Princess was answerable to no one save her King, exercising that entitlement could be seen as an assertion of authority only so long as it was not perceived as indecision. Alis had weighed matters for long enough, and it was time to affirm that authority.

"There is a certain wisdom in getting the Zucktol natives to take a greater, healthier interest in how they are governed. Yet with all due respect to my predecessor," she dipped her chin and allowed those assembled to spy wry grin, "do you imagine your average Zuck would prefer to have more or fewer Chalësidhean nobles above them?"

Much to Lady Mondracus' chagrin, Alis' poignant joke was rewarded with more than a few sardonic chuckles and long, knowing glances. Even those who might have been offended could see the grim truth of it.

"In all fairness, Lady Mondracus, my intention in inviting Amhranai was as much to give her a forum," she smiled gently, "as it was to see her heroism acknowledged."

"Ms. Amhranai," the Princess continued, voice firm yet friendly as she met the commoner's gaze, "as much as I would like to see you continue to play a part in aiding all of Dafar's masses, I realize that aristocratic obligations are incongruous with your religious devotion to The Dreamer. Yet it is not by my words that you have distinguished yourself in the eyes of your neighbors — your own actions have done that."

"Therefore, I merely wish to recognize the nobility within you by naming you as a Dame of the Protectorate. In this way, you should have the right to voice yourself at court and attend council with those you see fit without being burdened by titular responsibilities in the way members of the peerage are."

K: Nobility DC 15 (Amhranai):
While you are no expert on the workings of nobility, you know enough to realize that by offering to make you a Dame of the Protectorate rather than Ilmarond, that Alis is asking you to swear loyalty not to herself or her King, but to the people of Dafar themselves.

Amhranai OR Sense Motive DC 43 (no one):
While you know quite well that the devotees of Súmalya endeavor to see the desires of others in their eyes as surely as their goddess does, for a moment, you wonder if they also possess the ability to make their own desires known in the same fashion. For while no one else, not even her dwarven cousin picks up on it, you are certain that Alis is imploring you to use such a boon as the means to give a voice to the Zucks — not necessarily through your own voice, but by proxy.

You spoke of compromise and common respect, in having the nobles come closer to the people. It seems the Princess would as that you also compromise with respect to the obligations by which she herself is bound.

Rolls:
A Comedy 1d20 + 6 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 6 + 5 = 25 diviner's fortune

Bluff Checks
A 1d20 + 25 ⇒ (18) + 25 = 43

Sense Motive DC 43
D 1d20 + 20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 20 + 5 = 39 familiarity

Eladwen 1d20 ⇒ 12
Naiobe 1d20 ⇒ 13
Sindariel 1d20 ⇒ 6

K: Nobility DC 15
M 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18


Isaac listened to Poe as he filled them in on what Poe and his friends had been up too while he had been up to his eyeballs while dealing with the death of the late Governor and the late Marshall since he had been thrown right into to that position head first.

Though when Poe reached the part with the name, it honestly didn't ring any kind of bells to him, though he watched El and Sasha nearly choke on their drinks and freak out a little bit. Quirking a golden eyebrow high, he stared as Lureene asked him if he knew who that was and simply shook his head.

"Uh, no, can't say the name rings any bells to me... why, I feel like I should know." He said hoping one of the two girls would enlighten him as to what was going on with this Shivone person.


Lureene stares at Isaac, a look of confusion on her pretty face.

Wellll...I suppose he would not know who Shivone is...I mean it's not like she introduced herself to him FORMALLY anyway...

She then smiles somewhat foolishly at him. "Sorry Isaac, I thought you would have remembered your meeting with her. I will tell you once Alis arrives out here to join us."


As one of the servants rushed off to notify the Princess, the insistent sound of someone clearing their throat demanded the attention of those in the atrium. Turning, the four found a grey-hair old dwarf, his beard shaved in favor of an impressively groomed mustache that met his neatly trimmed mutton chops. Coupled with his neatly knotted bow tie, starched collar, and tailed black waistcoat, he gave off a rather distinguished appearance. At first glance, the fellow seemed somewhat hunched in appearance until he hefted Sasha's chair by the end of one leg. He was not hunchbacked at all, but rather massively powerful!

Adjusting the monocle over his left eye as he held the heavy seat as easily as a lady might her handglass, it occurred to Lureene that she had seen him before, at Ilmarond's embassy in Malatesta.

"Young lady," he said sternly, somehow looking down his nose at Lureene in spite of the fact that she was more than a foot taller than him, "unless one happens to be the King, then one simply does not deign to have a member of royalty hop-to at their whim."

A snap of his thick fingers summoned an unseen servant to clean up the mess Sasha had made, while he set her chair back against the wall where it belonged with a loud, "Hrrumph!"

With that, he began making his way back into the manse declaring, "I imagine that should her Highness wish to speak with you, she would do so in the privacy of the study... not the entryway. Please follow me if you have forgotten the way."


Funny...that tone I used always worked for MOTHER. Apparently I need to learn more about the protocols of nobility. I just hope this has not gone to 'Lis' head...

"Of course, forgive me Master Hearthwick. I do believe her Highness should be made aware of the importance of this request. I would not make such a request lightly!"

She stands to her feet and motions for Lord Poe to take her hand. "Thank you Lord Poe, I believe her Highness will be extremely interested in your tale." She then allows him to escort her to the study, as she was not sure which room WAS the study.

He should be thanking me for this...I could have him escort Sash, THAT would be REALLY awkward!


Young Noble

"I– ah..." Poe seemed altogether bewildered by the sudden change in plans. Hesitantly taking Lureene's hand as Sasha paced back and forth, he ventured, "I see that is a name that carries some weight, evidently. It might then interest you to know that upon investigating this Shivone's chambers a ward of sorts was triggered. Thankfully we were not smote, yet my companions and I did receive a most unsettling vision — that of 'Lucretia' in her true form intimating that she could see us."

As the four followed the butler out of the atrium, he continued, "Truthfully, that was the impetus that drove me to put some distance between my wards and Port Eldarion. I could not very well have their blood on my hands after all. Oh Auntie was herself quite inconsolable, yet even still, clever woman that she is, it was a simple matter to persuade them to leave by convincing them it was not for their own sake but mine."

"Aaah," he sighed, "at least one does not need to be possessed of great intellect to display loyalty, as (I'm sure) you well know, Lady Ourson." A nod towards Sasha, who was walking in front of them, made his inference clear.


It did not take long to reach the study. In typical Malatestan fashion, it was located in the center of the home, with tall columns on one side overlooking the estate's central hallways, while on the opposite wall, a long balcony overlooked the great peristyle garden. It was to the south, across that very garden where the Princess still held her luncheon.

Dutifully, the old dwarf arranged the cushions on a few chairs and divans before offering the three nobles some fine, liqueur. When Sasha breathed a sigh of relief and reached for a glass, he took her hand and used his monocle to get a good look at her ornate vambraces.

"Young woman," he scolded, "what shall others think of our Princess if her handmaiden's retainer is seen jittering like a nervous hen in rusted armor?"

A wiggle of his nose made the dwarf's moustache shudder, and he folder his arms across his barrel chest. "Now then, chest out, back straight, chin up, and eyes forward."

At each order, Sasha jumped as if struck a blow, and indeed there was an audible clank as the dwarf spoke.

"Hmmph..."

With a crook of his finger, a small container of polish and an old rag flew to work, buffing and polishing the wide-eyed redhead's armor of their own accord, a deep frown on the butler's face as he concentrated.


Young Noble

Even as Sasha looked imploringly at her friend, Poe saw a chance to free himself of Lureene's grasp as he spied the trio of tumblers on the silver serving plate. "I rather imagine we should make ourselves comfortable while we await her Highness' leisure, hmm?"

Reclaiming his right hand and sniffing slightly as he rubbed the fingertips of his gloves together, the young lord retrieved a glass for the lady first, ahead of Lord Hlokenar and himself. When the lady had seated herself on a divan wide enough for company, he took the opportunity to find his own spot in a high-backed wing chair wide only enough for himself.

Perhaps eager to blot out the high-pitched whine of the human woman with his own nasal voice, he asked, "I say, are you quite certain her Highness will look kindly on this interruption? She seemed rather... explicit in the request she made of you, Lady Ourson. Naturally I shouldn't wish you to risk a chastisement on my account."

Although it might have slipped past Lureene's wine-addled senses, the slight crack in Poe's voice as he voiced his concern for Lureene's well-being could have made the Major laugh. Amoya had asked him if the spoiled youth was behaving himself, yet evidently he now felt some reason to fear the wrath of a bubbly blonde Princess.

Rolls:
P Bluff 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (17) + 0 = 17

Sense Motive Checks:
I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (6) + 11 = 17
L 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
S 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7


Lureene gives Poe a reassuring smile. "Oh, don't worry about what happens to me, Lord Poe. I think whatever vexation the Princess may hold towards me will be abolished when she learns of what you have unearthed here."

At least...I HOPE she will be. It's not like I haven't been vexing her enough as it is...

As the four of them settle in to wait for the Princess' arrival, Lureene sips the liqueur whilst her gaze roams over her bodyguard, a small smile playing over her lips as the Dwarf butler works on polishing her armor.

Sash doesn't look like she is enjoying that very much...which reminds me, since we have some time before Alis arrives I should find out what she knows of Lord Gallo's peccadilloes.

"SOOO...Sash, I was curious as to what you know of our esteemed Lord Gallo? If I recall, you had expressed knowing of his past...exploits?"


"Oh that?" Sasha asked, trying very hard not to move. She swallowed hard, trying to put aside anxiety over Poe's revelation.

"Well back home, the Gallos are a pretty important family. The old man of the Gallo family is one of the viscounts that rules over Colotti, the island where I grew up. Oh and there's three of them, viscounts I mean, and none of them get along with each others sooo I guess you can kind of see why my mom would uh..."

Sasha's voice trailed off and she gave a short giggle as she glanced at the handsome blonde half-elf sitting nearby. It was rather obviously there was something she didn't want him to hear quite yet. With a forced smile, she continued, "well you know... she had her hands full. With the uh... business. You know how nobles are, always lots of business, right?"

"Aaanyway, so the Gallos, the Capritis, and the Mancinnis are always feuding back and forth. It's just always been that way because since it's not a real big place we only get one senator and they all fight over it. Well, about 5 years ago, the Gallos and the Mancinnis got the idea that if they joined their families, they could just push the Capritis out.

"Sooo Marcello Gallo, that's Lucio's old man, and Vito Mancinni decide to have a wedding. Not to each other, but their kids. Lucio was going to get married to this real pretty girl, Silvia Mancinni, and that would be the end of their feud."

"Well, Carmine Capriti really didn't like that idea so he sort of... you know... put out a 'contract' on Silvia. Not to actually kill her, but to embarrass her really bad and show up the Gallos so the wedding would be off. You know, have someone kidnap her, and threaten to melt her face off with acid if there wasn't a big ransom."

Rolls:
Bluff Checks
S 1d20 + 10 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 10 + 2 = 16 human

Sense Motive Checks:
I 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29
L 1d20 + 2 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 2 + 5 = 23 familiarity


Young Noble

"Contracts? Acid?" Poe raised an eyebrow in suspicion. "My good woman, this seems rather dramatic."


"Oh yeah," Sasha nodded her head enthusiastically, "you bet it was! It was kind of awkward too since Silvia and I used to play together, but uh..."

"Weeelllll," she laughed again and waved her hand, "nevermindthatpart!"

"Damn, where was I?"


Young Noble

Poe sighed and shook his empty tumbler to get the butler's attention. "Face-melting I believe."


"Oh right!" She snapped her fingers. "Silvia got kidnapped and was going to get her face melted off it there wasn't a biiig ransom delivered by Lucio to a 'negotiator' in the middle of Colottina in broad daylight. Only thing was, it was a setup!"


Young Noble

"Naturally," Poe murmured beneath his breath, obviously bored.


Sticking her tongue out at the fop until Lureene cleared her throat, Sasha continued, "In case you couldn't tell, Lucio isn't exactly what you'd call a good catch. He's rich, sure, but there's lots of rich guys and pretty girls in the world, right? You see, it was Silvia that didn't want to marry Lucio, so she worked up this whole plan behind her old man's back to get kidnapped and then saved by Armando Capriti since the two of them had actually been fooling around and had a thing for each other anyway."

"So the big day comes, and there's Lucio, all ready to pay up, only he wasn't really. If there's one thing the Gallos hate more than spending lots of money, it's giving lots of money to a rival. So, Lucio had gone and used the ransom money to pay for a contract of his own — to take out whoever kidnapped Silvia and get her back. The only thing is, all the good professionals in Colottina work for the same guild and Lucio cheaped out!"

"So there he is, boasting in the street to this negotiator that there's not going to be any deal because Silvia's 'already been rescued'. That's when the guy he hired appears with the girl and demands more money! Turns out he figured out how much the ransom was supposed to be and got greedy!"

"So there they are–"


Young Noble

"Wait wait," Poe interrupted, "I thought you said all the good professionals worked for the same guild. How did Lucio's man make off with this Silvia?"


"Well you don't really think Armando was going to melt his own girl friend's face off, do you?" She smacked the side of her head. "Duh, they'd just paid someone to make it look like a good kidnapping. She wasn't actually in any danger. Armando was just going to show up, beat up an imposter and show-up the Gallos. Lucio's man just took out one of Armando's friends or something."

Although Poe's eye began to twitch again, the words necessary to express his ire did not come and he merely sat back in his chair with a sigh of exasperation. Smiling in satisfaction, Sasha went on. "Now there really was a problem. Lucio had more money, sure, but he starts arguing with this guy in the middle of the street when Armando and his boys show up, angry and blaming Lucio for putting the poor girl's life in danger. Well right then and there, Armando tells the double-crosser that he'll get his money, one way or the other, and proceeds to challenge Lucio to a duel! Right there in front of the whole city!"


Young Noble

As Sasha paused for effect, keeping the others in suspense, Poe took the bait, "Let me guess, Lucio lost, Armando won, and the brigand got paid by the Capritis only to wake up with a dagger in his throat the next morning."


"Nnnope," came the smug reply. "Remember how I said all the good professionals work for the same guild? Well, they were supposed to be the ones who had been hired to have kidnapped Silvia so they were kind of pissed off about the whole thing. One because there was some loser trying to take jobs on their turf, two because that loser had supposedly took one of them out."

The huntress shook her hands for effect, "BIIIG mistake!"

"So my mom– uh..." Sasha scratched the back of her head for a moment, "was in the crowd that day and saw the whole thing. Yeah, that's how I know what happened next, see?"

"Well this really scary assassin come out of nowhere and the next thing you know, the double-crosser's head is at his feet and Silvia is screaming like a little girl because she's covered in blood! Well now Armando and Lucio both know that they've messed up because the assassin says they're going to duel alright but it's going to be to the death, otherwise there's going to be face-melting for real!"


Young Noble

"Ye gods, woman, Lord Gallo yet lives! Are you telling me that callow oaf actually won the duel? Where is the Lady Gallo now, this Silvia?"


Sasha tried her best not to smirk as she looked to the side, but it was no use, "Lord Gallo certainly is alive alright, but he win and he certainly didn't marry Silvia."

She flashed the young lord a devious grin, voice teasing. "Want to know what happened neeext?"


Young Noble

It was everything Poe could do to keep his composure. "For the love of... Yes. Yes! What happened next?"


"Oh..." one corner of her mouth curled up into a grin, "Lucio sort of ran away while Armando chased after him shouting what a coward he was. In the end, Lucio's father sent him away in disgrace, and Armando ended up marrying one of his cousins or something."


Young Noble

"One moment," Poe held up a finger, "after all that Armando and Silvia did not wed? Why ever not? Lucio was disgraced while young Capriti must have seemed the hero by comparison!"


"Oh yeah," Sasha grimaced a bit, adding half-heartedly, "well he sort of lost interest in my friend after that assassin melted half her face off."


Young Noble

Poe's eyes went wide and he put a hand to his chest. "But why? Had the assassin not already made his point? What benefit was there in maiming a foolish young woman so?"


"Well the assassin was a her, but I guess it's because they sort of liked the balance of power where it was. If two of the houses beat out the third and became friends, there really would be as much work for hire now would there?"

She shrugged and leaned up against the wall and glanced at Lureene, Master von Hearthwick long since finished with her armor. "Like I said... awkward."


Rage continued to burn white-hot within the priestess as the others spoke. The hand gripping the pommel of her weapon grew damp with sweat even as color drained from the knuckles. It was only with a great deal of effort that Amhranai did not verbally thrash the odious human, though every thought screamed to do so and it wasn't until the Baroness' proposal sank in that a new heat replaced the old, the source this time being embarrassment. Is she insane?! She can't be serious! Ripping her gaze from the portly guildmaster, her eyes swept to Carlina, attempting to divulge whether or not the woman was joking.

She is serious! You will be the death of me yet, Carlina! At some point, her jaw had dropped open, which she now shut as her eyes turned to Alis, trying to gauge the half-elf's reaction. What wheels turn within that pretty head, devotee of Sumalya? Hopefully you are not as mad as this human. The half-elf in question seemed lost in thought, caressing the scepter in her hand and, perhaps, welcoming of the proposal. I don't know you well enough to judge that, though. I hope I've made it clear enough that such an appointment would be the last thing I desire; for all the good it might do, how much might my hands be tied due to such a posting? Would the Zucks continue to trust me or would they see this as me being bought out by the new governor?

As the princess shared her thoughts, Amhranai felt her heart sink. What Alis asked was not as bad as the baroness' suggestion, but she felt the distinction might be lost on those to whom it mattered most. I think I could bring them around, if slowly. On the other hand, what about myself? This much exposure will not be healthy but given the situation, was it not inevitable? Probably, but I do not have to like it. What would happen if I were to refuse? Her head shook, a grimace marring her face. We would continue apace, gaining little ground and driving an even larger wedge between us all. It is time to confront this head on; at least Alis seems committed to resolving the issues, more so than the last governor.

Heaving a sigh, Amhranai freed her hand from its death grip and studied the palm of that hand, unwilling to meet Alis' eyes for the moment. Unconsciously, the other hand rubbed at her tattoo. If only it were as simple as it was then. Maybe I was just too stupid to notice the bigger picture so many years ago. Another sigh shuddered through Amhranai as she looked to Alis once again. "It seems you leave me little choice, Your Highness. Even though I believe you have found for me a fate worse than death, I see no other way to begin effecting a lasting change for all the people of Dafar. I will, provided they will have me, accept your appointment, however reluctantly. Iscandu have mercy on my soul." And save me from Daedelhach and the Betrayer both.


Lureene sips her liquer and is quiet for a moment digesting the details of the story told.

Well, I have a pretty good idea as to who the assassin was! Certainly a woman who would cut off the finger of her own daughter would feel no compunction in scarring another woman's face. Lord Gallo should be thanking all the GODS he is alive now...and it further underscores the urgency of Shivone's presence in Port Eldarion.

She returns Sasha look and remarks, "Yes, quite awkward I am sure. To be honest, I imagine it was more awkward for Lord Gallo by far!" She chuckles softly, clearly pleased at the thought. After a moment, another thought occured to her. "Do you think he recognized you Sash? I would hate for him to cause any further trouble for us."


Worse than death? Ouch! And I thought Lureene had a flair for the dramatic...

Throughout the room, several people were shaking their heads at Amhranai's unappreciative response: the old man Luca, the young harbormaster Jaro, and Lady Elendreth. Iole seemed to have found something humorous about the whole thing while his wife looked on in surprise, not quite certain what to think.

By her own exedra, Angrem, like Sindariel, maintained his poise, although it seemed there was a certain bit of amusement the two took from their fellow elf's gloomy outlook. By contrast, Carlina seemed well-pleased as if vindicated while Rinaldo offered the smaller elf an encouraging pat on the back.

Lucio, now red in the face as if set to boiling simply crossed his flabby arms across his chest, too irritated to form a coherent thought let alone voice his disproval.


Countess

"Rather pessimistic, are we certain it's Gaius Iscandü she reveres?" Beside the Princess, Naiobe had done her best to hide her amusement, opting to fan herself and thereby conceal her whispered commentary. Even so, there were at least a few others that were able to hear her whisper, including Darvesch and Amhranai.

Rolls:
Perception DC 17
M 1d20 + 15 - 2 - 7 ⇒ (17) + 15 - 2 - 7 = 23 bg noise, distance
D 1d20 + 15 - 2 - 10 ⇒ (19) + 15 - 2 - 10 = 22 bg noise, distance


"I was thinking the same thing!" Lilyana hissed in reply.

"Maybe she has her brothers confused," she said with a tiny giggle, suggesting that it was rather Dalus-Bälezu who seemed to better-fit her demeanor.


Countess

"Indeed, quite unexpected," the older woman said before noting the disapproving look she was being given by Councilor Eladwen. With a wink to the eager young woman, she composed herself, not wishing to make a scene.


From the corner of her eye, Alis spotted movement as the guards stopped a young maid who seemed quite out of breath. When the girl nodded towards her, the Princess drew a deep breath.

Lovely, now what?

She quirked an eyebrow at Arion and the dapper 'scribe' moved at once without reply.

Putting on her most disarming smile, Alis returned her attention to Amhranai, and joked, "If you think that is bad, be grateful I did not offer to exchange places with you."

Moving down a step or on her exedra, Alis motioned for Amhranai to approach while on the step before her, a servant unfurled a small, red carpet on which the tattooed elf might kneel.

Tone still light, she remarked with a wink, "We can have a bit more proper of a ceremony at my investment in a few day's time if you like. I would not wish to have all the attention on me after all."


Amhranai ignored the signs of disapproval. One would think none of them could see beyond their station and how not everyone would take to being elevated or even being recognized in this manner as something less than desirable. Great things happen witnessed and unwitnessed alike, more often the latter than the former. Slow steps carried the elf to the bottom of the exedra. She paused for a moment to gather herself, smoothing riotous hair and disheveled clothing-there was nothing she could do for the dirt but that was no reason to look completely out of sorts.

Now settled, Amhranai began to make her way to the princess with a measured, militaristic stride, back straight and chest thrust forward. Believe it or not, Countess, Iscandu is not so moribund in thought as to how his followers should present themselves. Nor is he quite so happy-go-lucky. I cannot help but wonder if you are so willfully ignorant of what goes on outside your walled gardens. Monsters don't solely reside in caves or forbidding towers.

Before her, the carpet beckoned. Why should I kneel? Are we not equals here? Bah, if it makes this go quicker, let's be done with it and ask later. Amhranai looked to the princess, a crooked smile on her face. "I would not be here, Your Highness, if that were the case. And no proper ceremony for me is required at the investment. I believe I'll have my hands full at that time." One way or another. Without further comment, Amhranai knelt, eyes still on the diminutive half-elf, waiting.

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