|The Harrow GM|
Zellara steps back, away from Raijinn's blade, hands held up in a gesture of appeasement. "Forgive me, friends, I meant no harm. I just thought...that you deserved to know the truth about me."
Barring drastic action, she begins to speak. "Several weeks ago, one of Lamm's pickpockets, a mere child, stole my Harrow deck from me while I was in the market. What I told you before, about my son, was true. He did find where Gaedren laired, and he did go to confront him, and was killed for it. After I found that out, I used my latent magical abilities to also divine where Gaedren lived. This is where I lied to you. I was not afraid to confront Gaedren directly, in fact, that's exactly what I did, and he murdered me for it. That wasn't the end Pharasma must have had in mind for me, for my spirit returned, linked to my deck and my home, and I began to search for people who might be capable of avenging me.
After Gaedren's death, my spirit is still linked to my Harrow deck, and I believe it is for a purpose. Anyway, that is my story. Please forgive me, I only meant for the best to happen."
|The Harrow GM|
Zellara looks at Thaven. Somehow, her gaze seems to pierce him in some profound way.
"I suppose in a way, I am a ghost. I am certainly not alive, but I do not believe I am quite undead. My spirit has suffused my Harrow deck because of my connection to it during my lifetime, and it seems that I am bound to it until my purpose has been fulfilled. This image that you see of me is merely an illusion, a power that I, the deck, can use in my...postmortem state."
She can use Major Image 1/day. The image of her that you see is her daily casting of it.
Mentally prepared for it, Nostrum is unperturbed by seeing Zellara once again. He listens patiently, smiling knowingly at his friends' need for proof of her corporeality, only looking confused when she mentions Pharasma."Surely she is here by the Unmaker's providence..."
"You said to us before that your Harrow deck had powers, that it could divine the future... You must then have some idea why you are still bound in this world even after your death has been avenged?"As Nostrum ponders his curent existential quandry, Jael's words come back to him.
"Ah! It can be no coincidence that your appearance to us should coincide with the King's death! For the scriptures do tell us, 'No power or ruler on earth shall remain when Rovagug's will is done'..." Again, Nostrum's voice starts to take on that sing-song quality. "...And does not The Embracing Purge say that 'the teeth of the Devourer are those who do his works!' Therefore, we who have done his will by removing Gaedren must surely have some role to play in the much greater turmoil at hand!!!
Nostrum is almost dancing in the sure knowledge that he has a divine purpose laid before him, even if he isn't entirely sure what it is yet. He appears to have completely forgotten Jael's previous warnings against something called "Fanaticism", not that Nostrum had understood them in the first place.
|The Harrow GM|
Seemingly delighted by Nostrum's out-loud thought process, Zellara claps her hands, although no sound issues from her hands. When she sees the look of confusion on your faces, her happy demeanor drops and she mutters "Forgot something, didn't I?"
Remembering what she was thinking, though, she continues, "Actually, Nostrum, I don't think you could be more right, although I'm...not sure I would have phrased it exactly as you did...Anyway, continuing, I do believe that Korvosa is in a state and time of great peril right now, and I see in each of you the potential for true heroism, if you will accept it. Something must be done about the unrest and anarchy that runs rampant in Korvosa's streets, surely, and even smaller things must be dealt with..The Queen's Brooch, and these poor children here."
Fredo leans back against the wall, his arms folded tightly in front of his chest, his brows furrowed, and his chin tucked in to his neck. He's more troubled than alarmed by Raijin's and Thaven's outbursts. To tell the truth, he had expected something strange to happen since he he touched the Harrow deck and felt the power within it. He sees little to doubt in Zellara's story, despite her being an admitted deceiver. It fits with the facts as he has experienced them.
Even more troubling than the skepticism of his comrades, however, is Zellara's declaration that the five of them will have a part to play in "doing something about the unrest and anarchy". Whatever else she is, Zellara does not strike Fredo as a particularly deep political thinker, and for all he knows she could easily mean that they ought to back up the Hellknights and 'restore order'. So could Nostrum, for that matter; again, the mystic insists on mouthing phrases that can mean anything.
"The only thing that will quell the anarchy in the streets," he says, quietly but firmly, "is if a leadership emerges out of the mob, if that leadership presents a series of practical demands to the monarchy, and if it commands a force capable of making Ileosa listen. If that does not happen, the Hellknights, not us, will restore order...of a kind and for a time. It will eventually break down, and the chaos will be the worse for it.
"What you say about us has some merit, Zellara," he says, not really sounding like he believes it, but more like he's describing a possibility. "We possess in the Queen's brooch an excuse to ask an audience with her when we are ready for it. We possess in the story of Lamm's death a means to win people's loyalty or respect. He haunted the nightmares of the lower classes, after all. And we can spread the demand that the Hellknights be kicked out of the city, and that the Guard be supplemented with a people's militia instead, til that becomes the demand of the rioters.
"This path is, however," he says, looking seriously at the others, "a difficult one, and will require finding the children a long-term chaperon before we do anything else. Playing revolutionary can cost the people close to us," he cautions. He wonders if that was what happened to Aleko, before filing that possibility in his mental cabinet beside all the others. "I don't suppose a reading would suggest a likely candidate," says Fredo, raising an eyebrow. After the heavy political talk, maybe others would appreciate a little jocularity.
Thaven looks aghast at Fredo. "You'd...demand... something from the Queen?!? You don't make demands of Queens! You do as they say and you do it immediately! We're definitely returning that brooch, but I'm not demanding anything. I'm kneeling and offering my sword and arm to her cause. Like her or not, she's the rightful Queen by marriage. She is the law."
Thaven shakes his head, a newfound sense of purpose filling him again. "No. We finished our personal business, now we have a duty to our sovereign and our city. I, for one, am taking that brooch back tomorrow and offering my service to the Queen and Korvosa. I intend to redeem myself and this seems the way to do it."
"I'm no great fan of the aristocracy; they've done me as many favours as Lamm. But I can't let you try and reach the Queen in this rioting by yourself. If you plan to serve your Queen it's going to involve quashing this chaos, and for that I will pledge my efforts." Nostrum sincerely hopes this is enough for Thaven. When he thinks of the Queen all he feels is foreboding, brief flashes of pain remembered dancing before his eyes. Still, he nods resolutely and turns to Fredo and Zeralla.
" I agree with Fredo though, as much as I dislike the Harrow it could be a good way to move forward. How does it work Zeralla?"
|The Harrow GM|
"I do not believe for a moment that order, as imposed by the Hellknights, is the right course for the city." Zellara begins, "I also don't believe that there is very much the spreading mobs can do about them. The Order of the Nail is a powerful military force, and against a disorganized and poorly-armed mob will be...gruesomely successful. No, the mob mentality is not the way to go. There are too many problems to solve, and the problems are too delicate. This may sound cliche, but I believe that more than a little bit of heroism is required."
To Akiki, she states "Why not just hide, you ask? You are free to do so, but do not expect the same city to meet your gaze when you emerge. Korvosa will be changed. Changed by pain, and hate, and death, and poor governance."
At the mention of a Harrow reading, Zellara is surprised, but pleased. From her sleeve she produces a deck identical to the one that Goffred carries, and then moves to the table and sits. When she shuffles the cards, they almost seem to dance over her hands and through her fingers, and they move quicker than the eye can track them. Her skill with the cards is obvious, and she does this several times before setting the deck down to begin the reading.
Setting down nine cards, she asks each of you to pick one. Nostrum picks up The Dance, Goffred picks up The Locksmith, Raijinn picks up The Avalanche, Akiki picks up The Juggler, and Thaven picks up The Peacock. Seeing the cards, she hums for a moment, and then begins to speak.
"It would seem as though great turmoil is in store for you. The Harrow tells me that the time ahead is a period of growing violence, and growing chaos, but that you are fated to play a major role in what is to come in Korvosa. I am sorry, I cannot be more specific than that."
Her reading completed, her gaze sweeps across the room. "About these children...they certainly cannot stay here. As I died without an heir, this house will soon be held in escrow by the state. For obvious reasons, the streets are no longer safe for them. May I suggest a temple? Clerics of the righteous dieties are generally okay with taking in children, although you might not want to try dumping them all in the same place."
"Yes, Thaven, I would," says Fredo, examining his card with probing interest. It shows a gray-skinned man swathed in a deep green cloak standing beneath a stained window. In one hand he holds a severed hand with bandaged fingertips each bearing a different skeleton key. With the other hand he holds up his cloak to conceal his grisly tool from everyone but the viewer. "People make demands of the monarchy all the time, when they're not making demands of the Arbiters, the magistracy, or the great noble Houses, depending on who they think can best advance their cause. Most of what the monarchy does is balance conflicting demands."
He sets the card back on the table, face-up so anyone can see it if they choose. "What makes Ileosa different is that her first decision with any real impact is just bad," he says, as though it should be obvious. "The only person it helps is Lictor DiViri. She either doesn't know any better, or she favors DiViri out of all proportion. That decision needs to be reversed, but now that they are here, making the Hellknights withdraw from Korovsa isn't as simple as ordering them to go, even for Ileosa. Give them an inch, they take a mile. They need to be replaced as police, and they need to meet either no resistance in the city at all - a fantasy if there ever was one - or they need to meet such effective resistance - political resistance, since martial resistance is also a fantasy - that they must retire.
"When we take Ileosa the brooch, I will make her see that."
Akiki falls silent, embarrassed but still obviously thinking about how to get out of this. She frowns more, wanting to slink away into the night - but Zellara's point is taken. Besides, the kids won't be safe. And someone has to do something. She remains grimly quiet, though, accepting her card. Goff's suggestion of talking to the queen is met with similar disbelief to Thaven's - but the elf doesn't weigh in yet.
Thaven stares at Fredo in shock, obviously shaken that such treacherous words could come from an ally. Finally he sighs. "I disagree with you, Fredo, but I respect your skill and thank you for standing at my side in ending Lamm. Please, at least couch your words in diplomacy. I would rather not see you end your days with the headman's axe."
F$$+ing s##! I just hit the wrong button and lost my post
Zellara's explanation did not put Raijinn any more at ease. While he was aware of the existence of magic, he had not had such a first-hand experience with it, and he had not known that it could be so powerful. In his book, things that were dead, stayed dead, and now Zellara had shattered that belief.
Raijinn trusted in things that he could see, and touch. Watching her spirit shuffle the very real deck, he realised how wrong he was, and how there was no real limit to what she and others like her would be capable of.
He thought back to the door that had closed when he gestured to it. 'Was that her doing? Or mine?' Both possibile explanations made him shudder. It either meant that she had more power than any creature should, or that maybe he did. Feeling as though he had to know for sure, Raijinn turned from the others and gestured to a door, willing it to open. Nothing happened.
Raijinn breathed a sigh of relief, and accepted his card. 'The Avalanche' he thought. 'Once it begins, is there anything that can stop it?' He looked in Zellara's eyes, trying to discern what the card meant. She knew more than he did, she had lied to him. And now she wanted him to keep playing her games. But even if he ran, there was no way of knowing where he would end up. He could run right into the Avalanche. Raijinn looked at the card with dismay, wanting to tear it up, but knowing that nothing would change if he did.
His thoughts were interrupted by Nostrum and Thaven Jack arguing with Fredo, while the elf remained silent and as though she wanted to be elsewhere. Raijinn realised that he wasn't sure what would happen next. Her part in this was over, she had gotten her sister. "And me? I was there for the death of Gaedren Lamm. What remains of me, for me, now?'
"Gentlemen." he interrupted. "Zellara is right about one thing. The potential for great or terrible deeds begins right now. We can argue all day about how to approach the queen, but that's secondary." He looks at Akiki, hoping for her support. "We made a promise to those children, and that must be our first priority."
He turns to Goffred, "Fredo... You spoke to the children of the differences between an injustice that favours the poor, and one which favours the rich. You understand the difference. Surely you must understand that it is unlikely a leader will rise from the mob before it is stepped on and silenced. The Hellknights will deliver their brand of justice swiftly."
He continued, "My suggestion is this, if you'd care to hear it. The King is dead, and for the first time, the Queen rules. For as long as she's alive, that is." He grimaces. "However. I think it is fair to say that aside from a prejudice against royalty that some of us may have, we know not of her person. Let us take to her the brooch, and news of Lamm's death, and see what we can learn of her. No matter which side we take in this conflict, we need to know who are our allies, and who we stand against."
|The Harrow GM|
"Remember, Goffred, that there already were police here before the Hellknights came" Zellara cautions. "The Guard and the Sable Marines are also law-enforcing groups here. The Hellknights were summoned as...well, reinforcements. Replacing them will not be so simple, because they are simply an add-on. And I'll guarantee you that there is likely already widespread popular resistance against them, but it's unlikely that anyone with any real power will oppose them. The only ones whose lives are really in danger from the Hellknights are the common folk."
She re-gathers her cards, places them in their ornate wooden box, and slips the box up her sleeve. Just as simple as that, the box now lays in Goffred's cramped bag.
"I agree with Raijinn. I doubt the queen will take kindly to people making demands of her. You may think that it is expected of her, but this is also the woman who brought Hellknights into the city. She has already gone far away from what is expected of her.
Alas, I must soon retire to the deck. Ask any questions you have of me now. And remember that whatever you choose to do, as long as the common good of Korvosa is in mind, I will be here to help you. The deck gives me a way to see and hear the world, and I can divine what items are by touching my cards to them. As identify, 3/day Further aid through advisement and Harrow readings, I can also provide."
Information on loot can be found here
"Well, we rescued Zellara," says Fredo, deciding to let the political issue drop for now. Zellara's idea of strengthening the Guard, whether by stricter discipline or by aggressive recruitment, has some merits, and the possibility might be worth raising before the Queen. It also fits well with Raijin's cautious approach, and means they can go before the Queen soon, without having to spread their viewpoint first. "I have a great quantity of Lamm's papers, but I don't imagine they would be of any interest to anyone but me. He had a number of treasures squirreled away, including a magic wand and several elixirs I would appreciate you identifying when you are ready," he says to Zellara. "Nostrum has most of the stuff, including the brooch, if you want to see it."
|The Harrow GM|
Nostrum is largely uninterested in the hoard that the party had gathered from the docks. Still, it is worth checking in case anything else of importance was found amongst the deadmen. He pours it out on the table for people to take what they want, but suggests that some of what remains be sold to help feed the eight new mouths in their care.
"In regards to the children, I know that the Brother whom I live with would be more than happy to take them in... but our house is small, and I doubt we could keep ten heads under the roof for any extended period of time. The house is nearby, so we can take them there for safety until the worst of this danger dies down. After that, well, we may need to find either parents or refuges for them". Nostrum seems saddened that he can't adopt them all then and there. The same compassion had been shown to him... and yet he knows that there are more than just eight lives held in the balance.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Description of the ivory figurine? Nostrum might take it as a random keepsake, but it depends on what it is.
If not, doesn't really matter.
|The Harrow GM|
"You know your friend better than I do, Nostrum," says Fredo, "but one man who must also maintain a shrine should not be asked to look after ten souls for any length of time. One might be too many. I know you said something like this," he admits, "but I felt the point needed to be stressed. We should be on the lookout for any larger organization that might be willing to take them in. And what of Semelle?" he says, turning to Akiki. "I assume you both want to stay together, and that you can support her. It might also, however, be a good idea to hire a governess if you're going to be spending any great length of time with us. Some of these trinkets could pay for that."
While he waits for a response, Fredo lays out the obsidian wand and the two vials on the floor, and passes the Harrow deck over them. He's not sure how this will work, whether Zellara will announce aloud what the items are or whether the knowledge will appear in his mind, but he's prepared for any outcome.
|The Harrow GM|
Speaking well into the afternoon, the quintet talks about the harrowing ordeal they just endured together. They speak about what brought them there, and they speak about what they think of what happened. They speak about the children, and they come to a consensus to drop them off at The Brethren's Temple, at least for now till something better can come up.
Zellara's appearance unnerved them (well, most of them) at first, but even get enough used to it that they don't even notice when she winks out, and the next time they turn to speak to her, she is gone. Goffred's use of her Harrow deck, however, still functions as she said it would, and the functions of the items he passes her cards over manifest in his mind.
Eventually they collapse among the sleeping children, moving into the evening. As they fall asleep alarm bells and sounds of screaming and fire and unrest still reach the small house from elsewhere in the city.
When sleep finds them, it does so quickly and deeply.
You stand at the edge of an incredible chasm. No matter how far you look down, you cannot see the bottom. Gazing into the chasm, you feel a strange pull. Suddenly, you are falling, a drop that seems to last forever. Landing unharmed at the bottom in another lifetime, you stand to see an immense and grotesque beast writhing in place, oblivious of your presence. Now the beast is a shining and fiery angel, who appraises you imperiously for a moment before sweeping forward and enveloping you in her shining cloak. You awake perfectly calm right as the light of the new dawn crosses the room.
You emerge from trance shaky and out-of-breath.
Wakefulness comes immediately after reading this, and it comes with hyperventilation, but no shakes.
Standing on an immense wooden stage, you are only given a moment to take in your surroundings before you are accosted by wave after wave of assailants. Daggers, glaives, swords, axes, hammers, spears, and more are thrust at you, but you bat them all aside and gut their wielders, one after the other. For a time. Inevitably, you fall and you are damaged beyond recognition, only to start again. Several times this process starts, and each time ends with you being defeated. A sixth repetition comes along, and your unconscious self is nearly exhausted with the pain of death and death again, and only lasts a few moments before his defenses are breached. This time, however, the blade is stopped by an invisible wall of force mere inches from your skin. An infernally hot wave of fire and heat and power then erupts from your body to destroy all, with you spasming with the power you're channeling. When everything is ashes but you, you awake, fingertips tingling persistently for a minute.
Each person haunted by their individual dreams, the group awakes the rested children, packs up, and says goodbye to 3 Lancet Street. The trip to The Brethren's Temple is fairly uneventful. If you notice the shallow puddles of blood in the corners of the street you don't mention them with the children around, but the streets seem to be fairly more peaceful, at least for now. Dropping the children off with a benignly smiling Brother Jael takes only a few moments, of course, he agrees to take care of them for the time being. Now free, at least temporarily, of your biggest physical burden, the group resolves to head towards the castle. Their steps are purposeful and determined, but their arrival is somewhat anticlimactic. Arriving in a waiting room just inside the gates, they are told to take a number and wait for it to be called.
Sitting in uncomfortable wooden chairs with a few dozen other petitioners, they're glad they came this early in the morning. It would have been hell waiting in the afternoon lines.
Slightly more than a small post ;) feel free to reply to any point along the bit of time I just provided, or continue moving us forward.
Raijinn would not normally have minded a short wait, especially for something of so much importance, and yet he had felt more tired when he'd woken up than when he'd gone to sleep. From the look of the others, they had not slept very well, either.
All Raijinn wanted now was a distraction. The thought of sleep filled him with dread, and waiting in silence only made him focus on what had transpired in his mind. Reflexively, he continued to clench and unclench his hands, a lot of pure worry on his face.
With angels and demons dancing through his mind, Nostrum is happy to see the new day come. Sleep has served as punctuation, the final word in the final chapter of a life thus far characterised by suffering. Indeed, even though Nostrum knows there will be trouble ahead he feels reborn and rejuvenated. And so, as they make their way to the waiting room, his head is held high and an awkwardly goody grin is firmly plastered to his face.
In the waiting room, Nostrum can't resist chatting to the other random petitioners, to both see what ails them and to share with them the good news of The Brethren.
Diplomacy(to gather knowledge): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (7) + 9 = 16
Diplomacy(to gather converts): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (14) + 9 = 23
Fredo had been moody and standoffish in the morning, plopping himself down in a corner and burying his face in his books while Cat paced in front of him, snarling at anyone who came too close. His dream had convinced him to eschew for today the magics that preyed on the weak-minded. He had done things in his fantasy he never would have imagined he could imagine. For his waking self, such things are simply beyond him, but little habits can easily grow. Fredo resolves to keep a close watch on himself in the future, especially now that he and his friends are going to be getting involved in high politics.
There's no time to study Gaedren's records more closely than he had under the Fishery, so they languish in his pack as the quintet herd the children down the street. They surround the little ones like a herd of aurochs around their calves; Nostrum leading because he knows the way, while Fredo finds himself on the left flank, peering into alleys and squinting up at rooftops. The streets seem noticeably more bloodstained near the house of Nostrum's Brethren, and something tells Fredo that this isn't the best idea, but he pushes those doubts down. Nostrum trusts this "Jael", and Fredo trusts him. Besides, it's only a temporary arrangement.
When they get to Castle Korvosa Fredo finds himself in need of Nostrum's counsel again. He wants to say a eulogy of some sort for the dead king to perhaps mollify the Court a bit before telling them they screwed up, and the mystic has a better head for poetry than Fredo does. He seems, however, to have his own business. Instead, Fredo pulls out a piece of paper and begins diagramming the meter, hoping to find words that will fit.
|The Harrow GM|
Akiki wakes after her shorter period of trance hours before the humans do, and silently pads around the children until she finds Semelle. She gazes at Semelle's convalescent form for awhile just to assure herself that she's real.
Arriving at Castle Korvosa, she sita down tightly, fists clenched and her face impassive.
Most of the men and women Nostrum speak to already take service at the Churches of Abadar, Sarenrae, or Shelyn, but they gladly take his pamphlet with a smile and a nod. When asked about their grievances, the vast majority of them are there to resolve destroyed property by the rioting or the Hellknights. It would seem that most that lost a loved one aren't quite bold enough to petition the Queen yet.
It takes more than an hour for the line to reach you, and gaggles of people arrive after you by the minute. When you finally reach the head of the line and your number is called, the five of you shuffle up to the officiant. "Nature of your request?" he inquires in a bored monotone.
"It's a little bit unusual, actually," says Fredo, knowing how full of drudgery a bureaucrat's life can be sometimes. Nostrum's investigations had revealed that this is probably one of those days for this man, and Fredo figures he'll appreciate any change of pace. "My friends and I are here to return a piece of Royal property we recently recovered."
sorry for the short post. The event I'm attending is just starting. I won't be on again til 10:00 PM.
|The Harrow GM|
Goffred's words seem to take a moment to register with the man, but after the moment passes he looks up with a jerk and wide eyes. "R-royal property? H-how? Are you sure? Gosh, what's the protocol for this again?"
He begins rummaging through some papers inside of his desk, occasionally looking up to make sure that you know he's listening.
|The Harrow GM|
The clerk pulls a monocle to his face and leans forward to inspect the brooch. He leans back after a moment and exclaims "By Torag's holy beard, that IS the Queen's brooch! Give me a moment."
He disappears deeper into the castle.
It is now that you notice just how heavily guarded the castle is. A dozen guardsmen stand in the waiting room, and the gate and the walls are fully staffed. When the clerk returns, he brings four burly guardsmen with him. They eye you for a moment before gesturing towards the inner gate.
Opening the gate for you, they close it quickly once you are through. "If you are to see Her Highness, you must turn over your weapons now. No one is permitted to be in her presence, armed, except her personal guard."
Anyone who does so is then lead up The Great Ramp by four nervous guardsmen. The men lead you into the the castle, through numerous hallways, and up two staircases, too quickly to really take stock of the palace.
Coming around to the door that leads to the throne room, you are greeted by an exquisite specimen of a woman-the Queen's bodyguard Sabina. She nods to the guardsmen, who turn around to return to the battlements. Sabina is clad in masterfully-crafted plate armor and a falchion is slung across her back. "Hm. You would appear to pose no threat to the Queen...so, how would you like to be introduced to her?" she asks curtly.
When he is told to part with his weapon, Raijinn feels something come over him that he can't quite explain. He'd been without his sword before, and certainly there was little to fear here. Besides, he was with friends. But the idea of parting with his sword was almost unbearable. He looked at it almost incredulously, uncertain of why it should matter so much.
For a second, Raijinn considers telling the others that he'd stay outside, and making up some excuse. He could use a fake insecurity of his appearance to mask the real insecurity that he didn't know what was happening to him anymore.
Raijinn shook his head. 'No,' he thought. 'Whatever this is, it won't have power over me unless I let it.' Without another moment's hesitation, he forced the sword into the hand of the guardsmen so roughly that it made the poor man stagger.
Like Akiki, Nostrum hands over his bow and his hefty great-axe. Before heading up to see the Queen however, he takes a moment to confer with Fredo and Thaven.
"I know you both have quite different opinion of how we should address the queen. I am willing to speak for us, to meet both you concerns, but you'll have to let me know what you want said. Does this suit?" he whispers in hushed tones.
Like Akiki, Nostrum hands over his bow and his hefty great-axe. Before heading up to see the Queen however, he takes a moment to confer with Fredo and Thaven.
"I know you both have quite different opinions of how we should address the queen. I am willing to speak for us, to meet both you concerns, but you'll have to let me know what you want said. Does this suit?" he whispers in hushed tones.
Fredo unclips his crossbow from his belt and hands it and his dagger to the guard without much interest. He hesitates for a moment before continuing, unsure of what counts as a weapon for the purpose of this meeting, before deciding to be as thorough as possible. There's no point pushing his luck, and even unarmed, he is far from helpless. The wooden wand, its counterpart of volcanic glass, and the two vials of acid form a haphazard pile in the guard's arms. "Careful with this," he says, adding his straight razor to the pile. "The handle's chased silver." Fredo turns to hide his smile at the guard's befuddled look; the razor's handle is clearly wood. But the guard's commanders really ought to have posted him and his company in the streets, not in the Castle, and Fredo isn't going to pass up the opportunity to make the guard feel the ridiculousness of his position.
As they climb the steps of the Grand Mastaba, Fredo takes a moment to look around. The view is strikingly similar to the final scene of his dream. He can see what looks like a great bonfire near the docks, right about where Lamm's Fishery had been. It should have burnt down by now; Fredo wonders if someone has been adding fuel to keep it going. He listens with great seriousness to Nostrum's proposal, but shakes his head. "By speaking for us," he murmurs, "you would assume liability for us. I'm not comfortable putting you in that position. Nor should it be necessary," he adds with a curl of his lip. "Be assured that I know how to moderate my speech. There's nothing like a clemency hearing to teach you to grovel."
Speaking of which, here comes what looks like one of Ileosa's personal bodyguards. There's someone who could make a real difference among the people. A pity she's wasted on this lofty perch. "Goffred Giulianoff of Sirathu, at your service," he says, inclining his head a smidgen. He doesn't expect Sabina will recognize the name, either for his father's service to the Crown or for his own or Aleko's infamy. But he's not going to hide it. Fredo feels a sharp tug at the hem of his robes. "And this is Cat," he says, pulling the folds of heavy wool aside to reveal her. She licks her paw demurely.
|The Harrow GM|
Sabina nods at the introductions and swiftly moves to pull open the large doors to the throne room.
Stepping into the room in front of you, her voice echoes across the stone walls of the throne room, introducing each of you as you enter, save for those that did not give their names.
"Goffred Guilianoff of Sirathu, Nostrum Foundling, Thaven Jack, formerly of the Sable Company, and their compatriots!"
The throne room itself is pristine but strangely empty—an open area with a
vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows of past kings and queens looking down from the eastern wall, and crimson tapestries hanging along the others. An immense fireplace offers additional light and heat to the hall, and a silk carpet provides a gently arching path to the throne’s base. On the throne sits Sabina, a vision of unearthly beauty even through the black mourning dress she wears. A veil shrouds her face, and she looks up to see the group as they enter.
Addressing you in a clear and sincere voice, the Queen says "“This brooch was stolen from me some time ago—I had not expected to see it again, truth be told. And yet, here on my darkest day, you come before me with kindness. The return of this brooch is much more than an honorable deed. It is inspiration. It is hope.
I love Korvosa, as my husband did before me. His death has shocked the city as it has me, but I will not see his legacy destroyed in death, and I shall not see my city torn apart. All Korvosa stands at the precipice of a disaster wrought by her citizens—these riots cannot continue. You have already done my heart a great service in returning this bauble to me on this dark day, and you shall be rewarded.
Yet... perhaps you can serve your city more.
If you so choose, I shall have Sabina see to it that you have an escort of guards when you leave here—they can see to your safe journey to Citadel Volshyenek. I shall send word ahead of you to Field Marshal Cressida Kroft to let her know you are on the way—the Korvosan Guard is stretched thin, and it can certainly use the aid of heroes such as yourself.
What say you?”
|The Harrow GM|
"I say I should be honored to assist the Guard," says Fredo, taking heart in the Queen's seeming to recognize that the Guard represents a better police force than the Order of the Nail. He also finds it more than a little ironic that he will be returning to Citadel Volshyenek after all this time, but takes care not to let that show on his face. "I hope my friends say the same," he adds, knowing full well that he can expect Thaven to take Ileosa up on her offer. With the two of them so unexpectedly united, the others should follow. "And yet," he continues cautiously, "I wonder if we five are enough. The honor of the Guard demands that it, and it alone, be responsible for order in the city, but as you wisely point out, your Highness, they are stretched thin. Cannot a call be put out for other citizens, trustworthy citizens, to volunteer to assist the Guard, as we have done, in its time of need?"
This is a far cry from Fredo's original plan, but Ileosa had given him an unexpected opportunity to couch his concerns in respectable terms, and he wasn't about to pass it up. Thinking he will give Ileosa a moment to process what he has said so far, Fredo palms the piece of paper he'd been scribbling on and takes a glance at it to refresh his memory. "The memory of the late King has been invoked already," he says, speaking to the room at large instead of the Queen so that she doesn't feel obligated to listen. "If you'll indulge me, I've composed a eulogy for him and now seems as good a time as any to read it." He coughs, then begins, droning the words like the cantor in an Abadaran service to hide how he himself interprets their somewhat-ambiguous meaning. There is room for praise or indictment in them.
"In our times, in a bloody time
"There ruled in a Varisian city—
"Men called it a City of the Damned—*
"A King named Eodred Arabasti.
"He was as rich as Kalistrade.
"He had a beautiful wife
"Who now rules after him.
"No other ruler in Varisia
"Had so many horses in his stable
"So many beggars on his doorstep
"So many soldiers in his service
"So many petitioners in his courtyard.
"Eodred Arabasti—how shall I describe him to you?
"He enjoyed his life!"
*Given Korovsa's aping of Cheliax, this is actually a term of endearment.