A Game of Thrunes

Case Closed

“Good afternoon, Count Tanessen,” Vannases Trex smiled business-like as she waited for the count to take a seat opposite her. “I hope you are well.”

“Well enough, duxotas,” the stoic lord replied. Gaunt and with a shaved head, Geoff Tanessen was one of the more powerful nobles of Kintargo, and one Vannases didn’t particularly like having in her office. As if his wealth and influence wasn’t enough, he was a powerful wizard in his own right.

Lieutenant Saulus poured two goblets of wine and offered them. The count casually grasped one and sipped at the dark wine. “I will cut to the chase, duxotas, I am here to find out how the investigation is proceeding.”

Vannases sipped her own wine, taking just long enough to ensure the count realised she was not intimidated by him. “The investigation is proceeding, perhaps slower than anticipated but we are making progress,” she replied tactfully.

“I wish to know who killed my son,” Tannesen replied firmly, slowly placing his goblet on the table. “It has been a number of weeks and I have heard no more than rumour and possibilities.”

Vannases noted the steely look in the noble’s eyes and knew it wasn’t the time to lie. “The Red Jills were likely framed,” she admitted. “But they have given the details of who was involved, and my men are moving in on them now.”

“Who was it? A rival family?” The man’s eyes smouldered.

“Of course not,” Vannases replied, and the count seemed to relax. “The time of noble intrigue and infighting has passed. The lord-mayor has ushered in a new period of stability and order.” The words spilled out like a mantra, ringing slightly hollow, but appearances were important. “There is a new gang in town, the Black Mantis. They’re little more than vagabonds and street urchins banded together for protection, but their numbers alone give them strength to rule the streets. Their leader is a Halfling by the name of Bug.”

“Why has he not be been arrested?”

“He’s not working alone. Lord Sigio was an able warrior, I sparred with him myself once – this Bug could not have taken him out alone. So for now we watch, and wait, and learn who his companions are.”

Tannesen shook his head slowly. “Noblemen murdered on the street, gangs running the city, corruption in our very own dottari. What is going on duxotas? For all your words of stability and order I see chaos and rot. My family has made numerous donations to Kintargo’s guards and defences, I will not stand by idly as the city fails from within.”

Vannases tried her most charming smile. “My lord, the Dark Prince watches over us and will guide us in these dark times. His arm of justice is long and his scales are balanced. Bug will pay for his crimes, along with his accomplices.”

- – -

The duxotas saw out the count, and turned straight to Saulus, who was already waiting with another goblet of wine. “How I dislike them,” she muttered.

Saulus knew she had no time for the nobles of the city. “At least it wasn’t Eldonna and that damn poodle of hers.”

Vannases chuckled and wandered over to the window, looking out across the river toward Bleakbridge in the distance. She absently watched a lone man rowing a boat across the river and wondered if someone had started their own ferry service to avoid the bridge toll.

“Anyway, Saulus, what is the latest on the case?”

“The Flying Halfling…” Vannases glanced sharply at him. “Ahem, Bug has left his job at Belor’s and has started pushing a dumpling cart, feeding the homeless. Apparently the dumplings are quite good.”

Vannases shot him another dark look, then frowned. “Are we certain this is the guy? Really, a dumpling cart?”

“Two of our men assigned to him have gone missing. They never reported back for duty, and Bug was being watched at the time we suspect they went missing.”

“So he’s not directly responsible, but we can’t rule out a companion?”

Saulus nodded, and picked his words carefully. “There is talk of this Nightswarm fellow…”

Vannases reached for a poster from her desk, one among a small pile. The scrawled words on the poster thanked the lord-mayor for his reward but suggested other ways he can spend it, and was signed Nightswarm on behalf of the Children of the Ash.

Saulus anticipated her next question. “I had the posters removed, but no doubt we couldn’t find all of them before the citizens read them. Word would have got out.”

“Why would he be protecting Bug, though?”

“There is something else, duxotas – our informants say Bug was hired by Belor’s former proprietor, a man named Titus. The only records we have of Titus was that he reported the death of his fiancée about 6 months ago, claimed it was part of that Slasher copy killings.”

“Killings which the Children recently put an end to,” Vannases muttered. “Officially those killings never occurred, did they?”

“Of course not, duxotas, Titus was drunk at the time of reporting and his fiancee’s case was filed as ‘accidental death’.”

Vannases chewed her lip. “Saulus, what did the Flying Halfling scream when he killed Nox? Wasn’t it ‘For Titus?’” Not waiting for confirmation, Vannases continued. “Check Nox’s description of the men she killed in the Many-Steps Monastery under the Fantasmagorium, see if any match this Titus.”

Vannases turned from the window and headed to her desk, suddenly joining the dots. “It has to be the same man! If the description matches, we have two pieces of evidence linking Bug to the Children of the Ash – Nightswarm and Titus.”

Saulus nodded, coming to the same conclusion as his boss.

“This could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for, Saulus. I’ll notify the lord-mayor. In the meantime keep watching Bug, see what else we can learn.”

- – -

If there was something worse than meeting with nobles, it was meeting with inquisitors. “What brings you to my office, Inquisitor Glackus?”

Glackus calmly walked across the room to the chair offered him, his cane tap-tapping rhythmically. Vannases absently thought she would have preferred him in his inquistor’s mask as opposed to the pale face peering at her. It looked like he had not seen the sun in years. His smooth but pale skin contrasted sharply with his black frock, the standard garb for an inquisitor of the church.

He slid into the chair like a python stalking its prey. “I’ve come to inform you that the church will be handling the Sigio case now.”

“Straight to the point,” Vannases replied. She didn’t bother asking on whose orders; Glackus would have been sent by the lord-mayor himself.

Glackus smiled a weak smile; smiling was not something he did often. “Your letter to the lord-mayor was most revealing. Your investigations corroborate our own. We noted those who took the rewards offered by the lord-mayor.”

A trap, Vannases realised, though she nodded as if she had known all along.

“We have linked these Children to a criminal network known as the Black Mantis, with Bug as their leader. Unlike your ‘wait and see’ approach, we have acted, arresting a number of rebels. It will be most unfortunate if they do not tell us who the other leaders are. For them,” he added as an afterthought.

“Case closed,” Vannases smiled back, resisting the urge to throw this contemptable excuse of a man out of her office. Saulus took half a step forward, though Vannases wasn’t sure if he planned on helping her or preventing her from making what would be a career- and ultimately life-ending decision.

Glackus himself leaned back, as if reading her thoughts. The man was perceptive, one didn’t rise that high in the inquisitors without skill. “Well, the lord-mayor thanks you for your assistance,” he said, rising. “Good day, duxotas,” he said, tap-tapping his way to the door.

Vannases waited for it to shut behind him before slamming her fist down on her desk. “Dark Lord take him!” she swore. “Just when things were getting interesting.”

Saulus poured another goblet of wine.

View
Home Is Where The Hate Is

Gaian whistled to himself as he strolled toward home. The meeting had gone about as well as could be expected, although he did wonder if he’d been a bit harsh on Bug. After all, Gaian was confident enough that there was nothing to link him to the Rebellion, so it really didn’t matter to him personally whether Belor’s fell under suspicion. Still, it had been a good opportunity to highlight that Bug was continuing to abuse his position, directing attention away from Nightswarm’s disregard for the Children as an organisation.

And now the break from any formal rebellion activity for a few days was a welcome respite, although he would no doubt be a little distracted at not knowing how Aroldo and the others were going on their quest to the sea elves. And it’s not like they were giving Thrune a free ride; tomorrow he would look at a boat to start helping citizens bypass the bridge toll, and Nightswarm would still be busy during the darker hours watching over Bug. But for now, the relaxing of usual activities was allowing Gaian to focus a little more on his family.

Gaian smiled as he opened the door and his sons ran up to greet him. He quickly shushed Alaost as he went to tell Gaian about how well he was practicing his weapons training, as much so he wasn’t caught out not knowing the specifics of what Nightswarm had been teaching as to ensure Ereniel didn’t overhear. After playing with the boys for a few minutes, he sent them to wash up for dinner, and made his way down to the basement where his wife worked. No doubt he’d find Raiia there too, as she’d have come home from Lady Docur’s today for her break.

“Ah, my love!” he said as he saw his wife. “Where’s Raiia? I thought she’d…what’s wrong?” he broke off as he saw his wife’s distressed face.

“What? Oh, Raiia’s in her room.” She replied, clutching tightly to a small book in her hands. “Which is just as well; you need to see this.” She said, thrusting out the book.

“What is it?” Gaian asked. He began opening the book, then quickly closed it as he saw his daughter’s neat handwriting.

“Ereniel, I’m not reading the girl’s diary! And to be honest I’d have thought better of you.”

“I didn’t really mean to,” Ereniel replied somewhat sheepishly. “It just fell out when I was unpacking her things. And, well, she’s been so moody and abrasive lately that I thought it wouldn’t hurt to get some idea…don’t look at me like that!” she broke said. “Just read it.”

“My dear, I really don’t really want to know which boy she likes or how she likes to style her hair enough to invade her privacy.”

“Damnit Gaian, it’s not her diary. Just read it!”

Gaian sighed as randomly opened to a page and began reading.

Be not the cretin, said Barzillae Thrune…

“What the…is it all like this?”

Ereniel nodded. “It’s all in her own handwriting, she must be copying it from somewhere.”

“I’d not think the works of the Poison Pen are among the studied texts at Lady Docur’s,” Gaian mused “Did you ask her where it came from?”

“Are you mad? I can’t tell her I’ve been going through her things, she won’t listen to anything I say after that! I thought you could probably come up with some way to talk to her, she listens to you. Please, Gaian. If she were to be caught with this…”

“I know.” Gaian said, stepping forward to embrace his wife. “I’ll go and talk to her.”
*
Gaian made his way up the stairs to his daughter’s room, noting the closed door. He thought for a moment, but couldn’t remember her ever having closed her door in the past. Deciding it best to show her that he respected her privacy he knocked gently, listening intently to the shuffling of papers from within before hearing the gentle call of “Come in.”

He entered to find Raiia sitting at the desk by her open window through which the last few rays of the sun shone upon her hair, bringing the golden hues she’d inherited from her mother to the fore over her father’s dark tones. It was of course too cold really to have the window flung wide, as evidenced by the rug she had wrapped around herself. No doubt she had opened it to better enjoy the view, Gaian mused, the cheap panes of glass tending to distort it severely. Perhaps it had also better served to illuminate whatever she had been working on, but whatever the pages in front of her held was now hidden by the large tome she had rested over them.

Gaian chatted to his daughter aimlessly for a while, noting with some discomfort that she seemed less open and chatty than usual, before deciding to breach the subject at hand as delicately as possible.

“There is one other thing I wanted to speak to you about,” Gaian began, as his daughter’s eyes narrowed slightly. “While you mother was putting some of your things away she came across this.” He said, producing the small book.

While Gaian did not expect a favourable reaction, the degree of her rage as she snatched to book from him caught him somewhat off guard.

“How dare you snoop through my things!” she yelled as she stood and moved to the far side of the room. “That’s my personal journal, my private thoughts! You can’t read that!”

“Firstly,” Gaian replied calmly once he was over the initial shock, “Let me make one thing very clear; I didn’t snoop through your things. Your mother did.” Okay, so he’d thrown his wife under the cart so to speak, but it was for a good cause. “And secondly, that’s not your journal. That’s poetry.”

“Exactly. My poetry!” she raged without missing a beat. “It’s my most intimate thoughts and feelings, my most vulnerable, um, vulnerabilities.” She calmed a little. “But I guess if you didn’t read it, then that’s okay.”

“I read a little, I must admit.” Gaian admitted, while smiling inwardly at his daughter’s theatrics. She was convincing, and if he didn’t know the content for what it was he’d almost have believed her. He felt a little disappointed at having to call her out on it.
“Enough to know it is not your poetry at all.”

“Oh.” Raiia paused for the briefest of moments, then sat on her bed and made a show of opening the book, her demeanour changing quickly. “My mistake,” she smiled sweetly as looked up at him “This is one of the poetry books we’re studying at school. I’m really sorry I yelled at you. You will forgive me?” she asked demurely.

Was it, Gaian mused to himself, unusual to view his daughter largely with pride for how smoothly she lied to him? He wasn’t sure.

“A good try,” he admonished gently, “But I find it highly doubtful that particular author is on Lady Docur’s list of recommended reading. So, where did you come by it? You’ve written that all in yourself, so presumably you’ve collated it from somewhere.”

Unable to think of another approach, Raiia dropped the feigned moods and turned sullen.
“Yeah? Well I don’t care what Lady Docur wants me to read. Brother Vaelus always said we should pursue all knowledge. And this is what I want to read.”

“Ah, Raiia.” Gaian comforted, sitting beside her. “I’m sure Brother Vaelus would be very proud. But there’s a big difference between seeking knowledge and carrying around a handwritten book of treasonous verse. You know they excruciated the author of that work, don’t you?”

“They tried to!” she retorted, moving away again as she became more agitated. “But they couldn’t. The Children of the Ash rescued her. And,” she continued, as a tear rolled down her cheek, “Brother Vaelus couldn’t be proud of me because he’s probably dead. And you just watched them drag him away!”

“Raiia,” Gaian smiled sadly, “What could I have done? I’m hardly going to try to fight a pair of Hellknights, am I? I’m sure Vaelus is fine, and things will settle down soon enough. We just have to ride out tough times.”

“Hah!” she said, rolling her eyes as only a teenage girl can “It’s okay for you. You got to grow up in Kintargo with it the way it’s supposed to be. You’ve had your opportunities. What am I supposed to do? Barzillai Thrune has ruined my life!” she shouted.

Gaian cringed as he got up and shut the window. The ranting of a young girl was unlikely to attract too much attention, but still…

“Keep your voice down!” Gaian hissed. “Now, how exactly has Barzillai Thrune ruined your life?”

“In every way! How am I supposed to be an actress when he’s shut down the Opera House and everything? What am I supposed to do with my life now? Pour tea?”

“Come now Raiia, it’s very few people who can make a career out of acting…”

“Oh, so you don’t think I’m good enough?” she spat. “Just because you’ve never done anything better than show a few people around the city, and they only pay you because they’re too stupid to realise you don’t actually know anything and just make it all up! You had your chance and didn’t take it, but now I don’t even get that! That’s why the people fighting are the Children of the Ash. Because only the young people have enough to lose to be bothered.” Raiia slumpeddown onto the bed, exhausted from her outburst. Gaian decided it was a good time to try to win her back over.

“No, Raiia. The reason I and those like me don’t fight is because we have far more to lose. And I don’t want my twelve-year-old daughter excruciated for carrying around a book of poetry.”

“Well I…twelve? I’m sixteen!”

“No you’re not.”

“I almost am. I’ll be sixteen at my next birthday.”

“Which is eleven months away. So barely fifteen. But because of your elven blood you of course mature later. So really you’re twelve.” Gaian smiled, knowing she’d take the bait.

“What? It doesn’t work like that!” Raiia replied indignantly.”I’m actually really mature for my age.”

“Are you sure? You only look about twelve. I mean, I was thinking thirteen perhaps, but when you throw tantrums like this it does make you seem a bit younger.”

“I only look young to you because you’re old. I mean, you hardly work any more, your hair’s going grey, and you’re talking about buying a boat. Probably to spend all day fishing because the fish in the shops don’t taste like they did in the old days. You’re pretty much retired.”

“Okay, you win that one.” Gaian conceded with a smile. “So, I’ll allow that you’re fourteenish. And as such mature enough to have your own opinions and seek out what knowledge you like. Just don’t write it down, okay? Or talk about it for that matter. I’m assuming you’ve already memorised all those poems.”

“Of course. Can’t be an actor if I can’t learn my lines, can I?”

“Good, then I’ll burn that book.” Gaian smiled as Raiia handed him the book and he headed down the stairs happily. Although he didn’t really know where she’d come by the anti-Thrune propaganda, or what she’d been working on when he came in, such small details were probably irrelevant now that he’d successfully resolved this crisis.

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Nightmares and Truths

[[:brother-vaelus | Augus Semisos Natio ]]

Augus wasn’t sure how he had ended up here…he must have been working his way through this labyrinth for hours, time seemed to have lost all meaning in this place, cast in perpetual twilight. The only thing Augus knew for certain was that he had to reach the centre, that answers to questions he didn’t even know he was asking lay there.
Hahahahaha….
A sound like laughter suddenly filled the air, howling on the wind.
That’s right, Augus…come and find me…
The strange voice sent a shiver down his spine, yet at the same time, it almost seemed familiar.
Gritting his teeth, the half-elf pushed on, trying to ignore the sense of foreboding that was building.
Some time later, he rounded a final bend and found himself in a large clearing, this must have been the centre of the maze. In the middle of the clearing stood a massive mirror, held in place by massive stones. Strange markings surrounded the glass, a language he did not understand.
Looking into the mirror, he was unsurprised to find his reflection staring back at him, yet the image filled him with dread. Why was that? It was only a reflection of himself…wasn’t it?
It looked darker, but maybe that was a trick of the perpetual twilight. Yes that must be it.
Were you always so naive? the voice asked, the reflection taking on a pose of disdain.
“This isn’t possible…”
Don’t be such a fool Augus.
“You know my name?”
Of course, the reflection responded, After all, I am you…the real you…
The reflection held up it’s hands. Augus recoiled in horror for they were covered in blood.
Don’t you remember what it felt like? The reflection asked. The lives we took? The pleasure it gave you?
“I never took pleasure in killing!” Augus snapped, regaining his composure somewhat, “I sought vengeance for my family and nothing more!”
You can’t lie to me, the reflection chuckled, I am that part of you try to keep hided away, but you are dipping in to me more and more as you battle with this rebellion.
“No!”
You can’t deny it, the mocking voice continued, you are resorting to lethal force more and more frequently. Remember the man on the bridge that night you and the other children freed that many from the dogs? You could have disabled him, but you went straight for the kill. The reflection applauded, well done.
“That’s not true,” Augus said, trying to defend himself, horrified at the accusation, “I had to act quickly, there wasn’t time to…”
Don’t lie to me! The voice snarled,_ I am you and I know the truth. I am the real you! Have you forgotten my name? Did that pathetic priest try to purge even that from you?
_What did he mean about the priest? As for the name…
“Umbra Eques…”
So you do remember me, the voice mocked, _Vaelus programming wasn’t quite as thorough as he had hoped.
_“What do you mean?” Augus was sure he couldn’t trust this voice, yet he felt compelled to ask.
You think you became such an efficient killer of the criminal element overnight? Vaelus didn’t ‘heal’ you through kindness, he tried to purge part of your personality, the part of you that they created.
“They?”
Oh yes, you had help, you were taught. You were like fresh clay, just waiting to be sculpted, and they created a master piece…me!
“No!” Augus shouted, “I wasn’t an indiscriminate killer, I targeted the criminal element…”
But how did you choose? The voice of the Umbra Eques asked. __Just random strikes? Or were you sent. Our masters created a weapon in you and you…we…served willingly. Those that the masters wanted dead…died by our hand, with no mercy…it was glorious…_
”no…” this time the cry held less conviction.
We were the masters greatest creation, a perfect weapon…until Vaelus…
The voice hissed the name out.
“He helped us…”
He reprogramed us! The voice snapped back_. Ask him if you don’t believe me…better yet…kill him and set us free…_
“NO!!!”
Augus bolted awake.
The nightmares were becoming more and more frequent, but this latest one…
Could it be true?
Had Vaelus healed him by actually purging part of his personality?
Had the Umbra Eques been more than a name, something created by these…masters…the voice spoke of. He sensed that there was a truth to the words, as much as he wanted to deny it.
What if…
Had Vaelus bought him into the Children of the Ash to keep him close? To ensure that the ‘programming’ held, maybe to aim the weapon the ‘masters’ had made?
Is that all he was, a weapon?

View
Three Meetings

The room was dark, almost too dark to see. It hid the details of those seated around the table.

“I have summoned you all here,” Hei-Fen spoke quietly, “to inform you we have made contact with the Lucky Bones.”

“He did it!” someone announced with a little too much joy for Hei-Fen’s liking.

Her brows furrowed slightly. “No, ‘he’ did not do it. In fact, my Ears report he – Varl Wrex – is dead.” Hei-Fen let that news sink in, and waited for the quiet murmuring to begin before continuing. “Along with our agents.”

“But who…?”

“We don’t yet know,” Hei-Fen snapped. The attendees realised her temper was rising and fell silent. “But I know, through other means, they have found the Lucky Bones and accessed its vault. Our vault.”

Now only silence, as the others waited for direction. Eventually Hei-Fen spoke, some having to lean forward to hear her words. “I have arranged a meeting with the one who gained access. My Ears will discover who they are. Until then, as much as it pains us, we wait.”

+ + +

Across the ocean, another meeting was taking place. This one occurred in an atrium. A glass roof sheltered a number of rare and exotic plants, some climbing toward the sun, others creeping across the tiled floor. Several chains of perfumed red flowers trailed down from large glossy leaves above, shading a simple satinwood chair. Upon the chair sat an elderly woman.

A young, blonde woman with deep blue eyes made her way through the plants toward the seated lady. A tendril from a passionflower caressed her shoulder but the woman absently brushed it aside.

“Mistress, I have information on the Children,” she said, coming to a standstill in front of the seated lady.

The lady gestured for her to take a seat opposite, and poured her some tea while she did so. “In Draconic, please, Rili,” the lady requested.

Rili paused for only a moment before switching her language to the ancient language of dragons. The words were difficult to pronounce but Rili spoke it with ease.

“The Children of the Ash have found a new hideout. Even now they gather strength in an underground complex in Old Kintargo.”

The lady nodded. “Good. Infernal.”

Rili changed flawlessly, now speaking the language of Hell. It was a concise language replete with homophones, but Rili conveyed her message precisely. “The Children saved Archbaroness Aulamaxa from Lady Ambria Sarini’s assassination attempt. I think they will approach the Archbaroness for an alliance, much like they did with Lord Aulorian and Lictor Sabinus.”

“Ex-Lictor,” the lady corrected with a wry smile. “Very good. Speaking of the Order, what of Sir Rogatus? Elven.”

Rili once again changed, this time to the poetic sounding elven. “He has left the city, this time headed to Citadel Enferac.”

“So they intend to go ahead with the ritual. Interesting. Thank you, Rili, you may go.”

As Rili left the lady leaned back, holding a sprig of mint under her nose, lost in thought.

+ + +

Rogatus spurred on his horse, hoping the last few miles passed quickly. His destination was close, he could see it. In fact, he couldn’t miss it. Citadel Enferac, home of the Order of the Gate, the only order of Hellknight dedicated to employing magic to enforce its vision of law.

From the outside, the mountain’s habitation was clear. Towers, smoking chimneys, iron balconies, and fortifications of black stone protruded from the snowy slopes. Over the decades, the citadel had grown from a single structure to encompass the entirety of Mount Nyisaid. Legend had it the citadel didn’t simply cover the mountain, but also filled it: the Order of the Gate had carved vast caverns within the mountain, halls, barracks, meeting chambers, some with fortifications and structures all their own.

Ahead of Rogatus, a massive flight of stairs rose from the valley. There’s always a catch, he thought. Dismounting, he passed the reins to an stablehand. Taking a deep breath, he began his ascent.

Legs aching and breath coming in ragged gasps in the mountain air, Rogatus eventually reached a mighty crimson door. Two gargantuan iron statues of Hellknights flanked the gate. Although motionless, Rogatus had no doubt they would animate if necessary.

He reached out for the large knocker but the door opened silently before he could touch it.

“Welcome, Sir Rogatus,” a grinning man in a crimson robe greeted him.

Rogatus waited a moment to catch his breath. “Sir Hybriano… Greetings… It’s been… a long time.”

Hybriano grinned and ushered Rogatus inside. “I forgot how tiring the stairs can be,” Hybriano said as he led Rogatus down a hall. “You know we rarely use them.”

Rogatus had by now caught his breath. “I don’t suppose you could provide me a way of passing them by next time, a magic carpet perhaps?” he half joked. It was his third time at Enferac, and the climb had definitely not become easier with age.

As he passed down the hall he noted the murder holes and arrow slits lining the walls. He couldn’t help but compare Enferac to his Order’s own keep in Kintargo, humble – no, meek – beside this marvel.

With a grimace he remembered that humble abode was now the possession of the Order of the Rack, thanks to Barzillai Thrune’s proclamation.

Hybriano opened a door to a small meeting hall as two Hellknights walked by, dressed in the crimson robes and vortex-patterned armour traditionally worn by the Gate. They turned to Rogatus, perhaps wondering who the stranger was, though their expressions were hidden behind steel face masks.

“Water, wine perhaps?” Hybriano offered as Rogatus slumped into a chair.

“Wine, thanks,” Rogatus replied. He took a long drink, rubbed the exhaustion from his face, and turned to Hybriano, who had also taken a seat at the table. “I suppose you know about the Torrent?” he asked.

Hybriano’s expression remained neutral. “Of course. Word travels quickly.”

Augurs of fantastic potency, the Hellknights of the Gate cast their gazes across the world, witnessing crimes and presaging chaos. There was little that escaped them, and Rogatus had no doubt that word might have travelled quickly but in no mundane way.

Hybriano spoke cautiously. "It is unfortunate, but know there are many in Enferac whom sympathise with your plight.”

“It’s temporary,” Rogatus offered with a grin, but it slowly faded as he contemplated his position. Although outlawed from Kintargo, not even the Lord-Mayor had the power to completely dissolve the Order, so he was safe and welcome at Enferac. Planning to overthrow the lawful government of the city, however, was probably beyond the pale for the Order of the Gate. How much they knew about that Rogatus wasn’t sure, but he had no intention of mentioning it.

Considering their power of divination, however, they did know, in which case they had provided their unspoken blessing for the rebellion – for otherwise Rogatus would already be in chains.

“Do you know why I’m here?" he asked.

“You need us for a summoning. I’m happy to report Paravicar Astratius will do it himself.”

“Excellent!” Rogatus replied. That was the first good news he had heard for quite some time.

“Just as soon as your men assist ours, we will be ready.”

There’s always a catch.

Hybriano passed over a letter detailing the assistance required.

“Agreed,” Rogatus stated after reading it. He summarily threw it into the fireplace, having memorised its contents. “One more thing. This is more personal. The Lictor tasked me with finding Shensen, but all leads have gone cold. Perhaps you could help…”

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Bug Moves In

Bug was quite happy with his new rooms in the former thieves guild hide out. He had been quite quick to claim the rooms just off the first pit they had encountered. Although the others had said he should have been happy with cupboard, Bug wanted the space. He had cleared out all of the fine study furniture and replaced it with a simple bed and desk. A long the wall he had gotten Jerry to get him a wooden pole that held his armour and finer clothes. The small room next to the former guardpost clearly used to be a holding cell. After a quick examination of the cell, he had discovered there was a secret door that led into the former shrine to some God. Bug was quick to disable the door so that it could only be opened from his side.

The last of Bug changes was the installation of a rack. In recent times he had started to own quite a few daggers and shortswords and enjoyed having them displayed. Although Nightswarm had commented that his shortswords were nothing more than human daggers bug used them like a shortsword. There was one particular spot on that rack he had reserved for that teleportation dagger Aroldo was holding for him. He wanted nothing more than to have that in his grasp again. “Such a fine cutting edge…” he thought to himself.

As he took off his final bit of finery he thought about all that had happened that day. He was a bit worried he had caught the eye of the inquisitors, he was amused by the rumours of the flying Halfling but was not happy at the attention it had drawn. As he was thinking of possible ways to mislead the authorities there was a knock at the door.

“Come in” Bug said. He knew it was Jerry his second in command. Jerry had proven to be incredibly good at his job. He had gathered useful information and done everything that Bug had asked of him, and had become a friend of Bugs.

“Hey Bug, I was told you were looking for me”

“Jerry, today has been a shit, I got stabbed pleny, and the inquisiors harassed me. We’re gonna have to think up a way to distrac them. But that’s for later. I’ve got some ideas that need to be done Jerry, reckon you can help me out”

“Sure thing Bug, what’d you need”

“first up lets get some money Jerry, As you know there is an old smugglers port under this hide out, we’re gonna get into the importing business. I need you to find some of your old buddies by the dock who know how to sail. I need them to go to Vyre and bick up some mint for us. We’re gonna start pumping it into this city.” Bug had thought up this idea when he heard the Tengu gang were harassing Aroldo’s local seller.

“yeah I should be able to find some boys that can go get it for us bug, what else you need”

“you seen those items being shown in the Opera park? Reckon it is a stupid idea to send some boys to get them? Some of the newer guys. Ones that don’t know me or where this place is.”

“Bug, you know those weapons aren’t right”

“yeah, I just want you to send some boys to have a look and see what happens”

“I’m not sure Bug, but if you think it’s right… I’ll send someone, anything else?”

“yeah, I found out whats happen to the Red Jills, the Inquisiors took ‘em out. Time to claim their dirt as ours. Also while I think about it, you reckon we got the numbers to get the markets as well?”

“Hmm those River Talons have Bleakbridge locked tight, Bug, it will be tough to move in. Perhaps we should make them an offer to join the Black Mantis.”

That was the list of the things Bug wanted to get done for his Gang, now it was time to hear what intel Jerry had gathered. “before you leave Jerry, what info you got for me that the rebellion should know?”

“There was one thing, Bug. A young woman with blonde hair, athletic looking. Some of the boys caught her watching Belor’s. She’s good Bug, she lost the boys in the crowd. Might be worth keeping an eye out.”

“Wait, wha’d ya mean blonde? Was it white or blonde? Blue eyes?”

“Yeah Bug that’s her, golden blonde with blue eyes.”

“Well shit.”

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The Varied Thoughts of Gaian Vespinus 10

You’re awfully quiet.

Unlike yourself, I’m a man of few, yet valuable, words. Was there something in particular you wished commentary on?

Well, I’m surprised there’s been no mockery of my day at the horse festival. But what I’d really expected to hear was your plan for how you are going to take that sword Thrune has so nicely left out for you.

Oh? You think I should?

Of course not! But it is exactly the kind of thing you’d do, and damn the consequences.

It is exactly the kind of thing I’d do. And the kind of thing you wouldn’t approve of, thus my silence. I wasn’t going to tell you how I am going to climb down the opera house and grab the sword unobserved, then sneak in and use it to lop off Barzillai’s head.

Really? That’s your plan?

Of course not. I’m not stupid.

Blinded by hatred and a need for vengeance, though.

Ispired by hatred and a need for vengeance. Fear not, I’m not about to take the sword.

I’m glad you see the risk.

I don’t care about the risk. I’m quite certain I could manage it with no adverse consequences. However, there is no way I will allow Thrune to claim us as his pawns in the eyes of Kintargo.

Agreed. In fact, I think we really do need to respond to this offer, make it clear to the people that we will continue our work to free Kintargo and have no interest in Barzillai’s misguided attempts to claim us.

Indeed. Perhaps a response thanking Barzillai for acknowledging the good work we are doing for Kintargo’s citizens, and reiterating that we are clearly perfectly capable on our own. And that he and the good citizens of Kintargo may rest assured that we have only just begun in our efforts to improve this city.

Yes, and perhaps mentioning that given his clear interest in supporting us in aiding Kintargo, we would prefer him to keep the items he offered us and invite him to use the funds to their value to more directly aid the citizens of this fine city.

How?

Hmm. Well, for a start that amount of gold going back into the treasury would remove the need for a toll on Bleakbridge.

Or perhaps the funds could be used to buy him his very own home, allowing the Opera House to be returned to the people?

I like that one. How about using it to reinstate the city’s beloved Knights of the Torrent, and paying them to discover the whereabouts of certain persons missing since the Night of Ashes, such as Shensen and our former Mayor?

All good suggestions.

And probably appealing to the middle class of Kintargo. The poor already like us, it’s time we moved up a rung in society.

You’re better with words than I. Prepare the notices and I’ll put them up tonight.

We’d better run it by the others first; I don’t think they were all thrilled with our last run of posters.

Come now, we don’t have to gain approval for everything we do. Do you see Bug asking for approval every time he wants to do something?

No. And as a result he is often viewed with suspicion, and accused of placing his own interests ahead of those of the rebellion. I do not wish to be viewed in similar light.

Fine, go and ask them all for permission if you wish. I suppose there’ no harm in throwing them a bone in the illusion of choice.

Illusion? I see. I’d best be convincing then, so that they don’t see the illusion for what it is.

Is that not the primary role of the illusionist? Now get to it, the sooner we counter Barzillai’s propaganda the better.

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Warhorses and Warbulls
Session 18

Ambria and the Loyalists plot to kill Archbaroness Eldonna Aulamaxa and blame Baron Canton Jhaltera, hence taking care of two pro-Kintargo noble families. However, the Children of the Ash work out the plan and foil the attack at the last moment.

Following that, Lord-Mayor Barzillai Thrune publicly praise the Children and offer personalised rewards for their dedication to the safety of Kintargo. The Children suspect things are not what they seem and do not attend the ceremony.

FULL NOTES:

  • The Children fix the magic pump, pumping the water from the lower level of the Lucky Bones. This reveals the secret vault; inside is lots of loot.This includes four strange rings. Bug wears one, a strange lady’s voice appears in his head, says she will meet him soon. Ominous.
  • Lentius and Octavio walk through, assigning roles to rooms and the like.
  • Aroldo drops into Fine Flowers to find 3 tengu are here shaking the owner down for proptection money. Gaian and Augas with him. River talons. Shaking the locals for protection money. Aroldo promises that he will help with this.
  • Red Jills in chaos.
  • Arms and armour safely at Aroldo’s Manor. Weapons in colour Jhaltero house, however the leader of loyalists was Sigio Tanessen. Ambria Sarini was wizard when we stole the items. All different houses; political intrigue likely.
  • Archbaroness Melodia is hosting a horse race. To Whiterock and back. Whiterock is held by the Jhaltero Family.
  • Get info. Like the Royal Show, but more horses. Watch horses leave, watch horses come back. About as fun as the Adelaide 500. ZZZZzzzzz
  • Festival held outside the walls. Farmland and food stuff. Largest building is the Rookery. Opposite is Whisperwind Stables. Merchant stalls, equipment, tents, etc. Dr Barnabas owns the Rookery, Head of Aviation at Academy.
  • Aroldo and Gaian start enjoying themselves at festival. Augus, Bug and Green spot interesting people in the crowd.
  • Bug follows one, grabbing a fish stick. He’s approached by one of the people he has spotted, he calls him Bug. Says the inquisitors came, took Scarplume (Red Jill). Inquisitors asking about the Flying Halfling. Watch out for tall woman with white/silver hair.
  • Bodeen follows a woman, loses her.
  • Aroldo and Bug spot a Dottari high up riding huge black warhorse; it’s Vannases, Duxotas of the Dottari.
  • Augus follows another, who seems to be talking to others.
  • Gaian goes to the Sarini compound with 2 glasses of wine. Countess’ greeting towards him gets Gaian admitted. Warm greetings. Flirting. While talking spots Ambria. Discuss other night with Countess. Sarini is having a party, invites Gaian.
  • More Dottari arrive, cavalry. Bodeen spots girl with blue eyes. She spots him, Green plays coy. Doesn’t get anywhere. Goes to see Baroness Belcara. She’s won 3 of last 5 races. Usually go for sail on barge to watch. Bodeen queries why change this year. She mentions Aulurian family shifting support to Thrune from the city. Thrune will be hosting costume ball at Opera House. Menador’s Gap has been closed.
  • Aroldo goes to the Rookery to see Dr Barnabas. Helping sick warrior. He’s a guard of House of Aulamaxa (poodle woman). Serving girl dressed as imp gave him a drink. Was poisoned, Augus confirms.
  • Halfling in taproom approaches Bug. Calls herself Juno. She’s an informant to the Inquisition, selling out the Bellflower network. Bug knew nothing, they couldn’t pin shit on him.
  • Hallflings storm the place, calling for glory to the Reclamation. A play / performance. Sarini guards start moving in. Seems to be what the mystery was about.
  • Barnabas says there were 6 men early for breakfast at the Rookery, armed.
  • Bodyguard was poisoned by girl in imp costume. He wants to race off to find his liege, the Archbaroness Eldonna. She might be in danger. Children assist.
  • A few miles out of the city, we spy men dressed in black. With women and children but they appear vacant and disinterested. Pass them.
  • Augus spots a bloodstain and trampled grass. Find two wagons in grass, with 3 dead men, half naked. Clothes taken, other groups likely wearing clothes. Go back, fight them, save slaves.
  • Haste twice on the way back to catch up, then attacked by giant bull. He’s a giant problem, Bug almost dies but they are victorious.
  • Ride on, get to barge, under attack. MantaMan engages. Fight ensues, the party clamber on board the barge and are attacked by men, Ambria reveals herself, she is the leader, summons her winged serpent.
  • The battle is fierce, Sir Callum is a great help. Bug wounded gravely again, eventually Aroldo’s magic causes Ambria to find the whole thing ridiculous (Hideous Lauhgter) her laughing results in her capture, others killed. Eldonna takes her away.
  • Return to city. Lord-Mayor issues posters that children of the Ash are awesome, we should be rewarded. Massive ceremony on Opera House steps, no Children show. Barzillai says kind words, leaves gifts behind. Gifts seem to be tailor made for each of the head Rebels.
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Wine, Poetry and Illusions

Aroldo and Marius both sink back into the comfortable chairs in the manor’s sitting room.
“Is it over?” Asks Marius quietly.

“I certainly hope so," replies Aroldo. With a glance upward, he reaches for several clam shells and starts to study them intently.

For his part, Marius begins patting himself, ensuring each and every weapon is in its rightful place. After several rounds of this, he clears his throat.

“I dabbled a bit in the Arcane area myself you know.”

Aroldo glances up from his shells, “Oh, really?”

“Yeah. Didn’t really stick with it though.”

“I see, why not?” asks the wizard, hiding his exasperation at being disturbed.

“I’d say I lost interest in it, after I learnt a spell that made me a lot better at stabbing people!”

Aroldo purses his lips for a minute as he considers the statement. Finally he replies “Fair enough.”

Deciding he’s on a bit of a roll, the usually quiet Marius continues “She always like that?” asking with a glance upward.

“No, I think she’s just a bit nervous. Well, perhaps more than just a little bit. She doesn’t get out much these days, I think she needs to blow off a bit of steam.” answers the wizard.

“Fair enough,” responds the rogue, before both men exchange a smile.

With the household generally still, it’s quiet enough to hear someone come down the stairs.
Both men rise from their chairs moments before Alaria appears in the doorway.

“Sorry I took a bit long getting ready,” she announces the bard as she stops forward. She’s wearing a tight black dress that fits her perfectly and it is heavily embroidered, flaunting the Little Black Swan’s disregard for the Lord-Mayor’s proclamations.

“What do you think?” she asks the two as she gives a small mock curtsy before twirling once, showing off.

Marius let out a low whistle as Aroldo smiles broadly. "I’m sure you’ll have all their attention.

“Better cover that up for now though,” advises Marius, stepping forward with her disguise and helping her cover up.

“I’ll see the two of you there, even if you don’t see me.” says Aroldo as he moves to the door. "I have to get ready yet, and I’ll have a disguise!”

Aroldo moves to his greenhouse and begins tending to his plants for a time until he hears the front door open and close – Alaria and Marius are on their way. Wiping his hands clean, Aroldo heads up to his bedroom to get changed. As he’ll be using his magic to disguise himself, he worries little about his appearance; his choices are based on comfort and convenience.

As he finishes wiping his face he glances down and spots the Harrow deck Alaria had dug up. He reaches for it and places a hand on top of the deck, considering performing a reading. Deciding against it, he casts his spell, nodding to the stranger’s face that now appears in the mirror before him. Disguise in place, he too heads out the front door, on the way to the same destination as the bard and rogue.

  • * *

The tall half-elf with flowing silvery-blonde hair smiles beatifically down at the girl on the final layer of security. Handing the invitation over, he steps through the doorway. All in all, Aroldo was pleased with the layers of security, seen and unseen. The location seemed secure, a sub-basement in a rarely used warehouse. The owner kept two guards on staff so the Dottari rarely patrolled. That the two guards were sympathetic to rebellious ideals and nicely bribed by The Barman was the icing on the cake.

The impromptu stage had been set up at one end of the rectangular room. Standing upon it, Gruckalus was on stage swallowing a sword, an impressive act that resulted in some cheers and claps from some of the attendees. The street performer then fired back at a member of the audience whose heckling was describing a completely different type of sword swallowing. The crowd roars with laughter as the heckler is subdued.

Alaria is seated in a corner, surrounded by a small group, seemingly entranced by one of the bard’s anecdotes.

Most of the crowd has clumped into groups large enough to form energetic conversations, most regarding recent events in the silver city. Some wear masks that Aroldo and the other distributors of the invitations had spread around. Others, no masks at all. A few even wear elaborate costumes of their own devising.

Arriving at the bar, he leans against it and makes eye contact with The Barman. He saunters over as the disguised wizard scratches at his right eyebrow.

“What will you have?” he asks, scratching at his own right eyebrow.

“Star wine from the Tehithal Valley,” sniffs the half elf, "but I don’t expect you to have heard of it.”

“Coming right up!” The Barman announces as he fetches the bottle. When he returns and begins to pour a glass he leans forward slightly and adopts a lower tone. “All good so far. No signs of any Dottari or anything yet. Eyes still open of course.”

Nodding, Aroldo turns and leans against the bar, back to surveying the crowd. The air is tingling; he’s very obviously not the only one utilising illusionary magic here, unsurprising, given the Alabaster Academy was one of the places he had discreetly placed invitations. Students were likely to attend, but infernal influences were opposed by more traditionalists amongst the faculty also.

It is still a little surprising when the figure of Professor Volonari stands next to him at the bar. If one of the students was imitating the head of the Divination School, and it got back to the professor…

“Not a bad illusion. Wrapped the outlying threads past the vertical vortexes. Very nice. You must have paid attention in your illusion class. Somewhere between say seven to ten years ago? Old Veymich taught that method, I remember!” the professor announces after sizing Aroldo up.

“Don’t worry,” he chuckles as Aroldo draws back a little in alarm. "That’s all I can easily tell,” He leans forward and sniffs at the wizard. “And that you stink of Harrow.”

Aroldo smiles at one of his old teachers, "I didn’t expect to see you here, I admit Professor. “And definitely not to just go Gandalfing,” referring to Kintargan slang for a wizard openly patronising a less than reputable drinking establishment.

“I’m just a worried citizen, concerned with the direction this city is taking,” the Professor says in a serious tone. He goes to say something further but movement in a corner of the room distracts him.

“Oh here she comes,” the Professor announces, “The Little Black Swan. My oh my, isn’t she magnificent specimen?”

Aroldo watches as Alaria heads towards the stage, to the murmurs of the crowd. She pauses to hug Gruckalus and exchanges a few words with him. She then ascends gracefully up the stairs to the stage.

“She is indeed,” Aroldo responds, gaze flicking between his friend and the crowd, seeking any threat. He does see Marius, across the room, doing the same.

Alaria stands right at the front of the stage gazing out as the masses attending quieten down to an expectant silence.

A city of free souls
Chained to fierce devils
Who pursue their own goals
And in their dark revels
They ignore the cries of the people
That go unheard and unwanted
Devil priests laugh from their dark steeple
But people remain undaunted!

After her recitation the crowd cheers and applaud, pleased with the performance so far. Some whisper to their neighbours, discussing the feelings behind the poem.

Alaria looks around the room, seemingly soaking up the approval the way a man stranded in the desert drinks water. Her gaze finally comes to rest on Aroldo, and she raises a hand slightly to quieten the audience before beginning her next poem.

Aroldo, however, is wondering if Alaria can somehow see through his disguise, it would appear her gaze is fixed upon him, and he’s growing more and more uncomfortable.
She begins the next poem, an emotive piece about someone’s feelings towards another, and tying it in to their feelings of a Free Kintargo. It’s impactful and tragically romantic, but Aroldo has trouble taking in the words, Alaria’s gaze on him has disconcerted him. It is unwavering, and the wizard’s anxiety moves beyond feeling that he is without an illusion, but more that he’s standing there naked and exposed. The voice in his mind that thinks Alaria can see through the illusion only grows louder. It begins to wonders if her rescue from excruciation and the sacrifices the Children of the Ash were ready to make has inspired her.

The poem moves to its crescendo, the subject explaining the danger they have decided to go into is all for their love for the other. Alaria’s delivery is perfection, her silky voice seemingly caressing the listeners ears. At the word ‘love’, Aroldo finally looks away, gulping at his wine.

He’s unable to look back at the stage, so he looks around. The crowd in the speakeasy seem to have been invigorated by the Little Black Swan’s poetry, talk around the room has spread from complaints to people beginning to ask one another “Well, what can we do?”
With this Aroldo has some small sense of accomplishment, perhaps this idea is one that will work.

Signalling at The Barman, who responds with a small pointing gesture, Aroldo heads through a small door, into a dark and dingy corridor. Casting another spell, the wizard disappears from view, before heading down the dark corridor back out into the dark and lonely streets of the oppressed Silver City to head home and ponder the nights events.

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The Varied Thoughts of Gaian Vespinus 9
Uncle Nightswarm

Quick! There are a couple of loyalists over there, heading toward that alley. Perfect opportunity to take them out and instill a bit more fear in the organisation. Give me control!

You’re joking, right? No way.

Since when do I joke about things like this? Now, dammit.

There are two very good reasons why that’s not going to happen. The first is that you’ve nearly had us killed several times in the last few days, and I’d like a break from that for a bit.

Okay, I’ll admit some fights haven’t gone as intended. But not against Thrune’s lackeys or loyalists. What the fuck are we even doing fighting xorn and skum, we’re supposed to be taking down Thrune and his Asmodeans!

You know very well what we were doing fighting xorn and skum; we need a base of operations that doesn’t involve the same group of us all going out through the back door of Belor’s, which is already under suspicion. And as I remember it, you were running away from loyalists on the docks.

Manoeuvring tactically to a more favourable battleground is what that was, perhaps you’d understand it if you did any of the hard stuff. And while I’ll grant you we needed to clean out the Lucky Bones, what’s this shit about helping aquatic elves fight an aboleth? Whatever the hell that is. How does that help us?

Allies. Despite what you seem to think, you can’t take down this whole city yourself.

Bullshit. It’s just because you all see a naked elf and offer your “weapons” to her. It’s nothing to do with us.

Hardly a fair assessment.

An accurate one. Or was it just coincidence you went home to your wife and had her bound hand and foot for your games that night? You may as well have painted her blue.

You’re not supposed to be present at those times. We had an agreement!

I really don’t have any interest in what you do, just making the point that your judgement is compromised. I’m the one who’s focused on our agenda, so your second reason for not going after those loyalists is going to need to be better than your first.

It is a pretty damned good one, actually. You’re not taking us off running after loyalists when I’m here playing in the park with my children!

But that’s why it’s perfect! I’ll be gone a few seconds, then back playing with them again, and you’ll be under no suspicion. We should really use them a bit more.

Absolutely not. There is no way I’m letting you use them as some kind of cover for our activities. They shouldn’t be exposed to that.

Really? But isn’t that what you’ve been doing for the last dozen or so years? Sure, you didn’t do anything worthwhile for most of that time, but the fact remains that your concocted background and subsequent marriage were all a distraction from your true self. My suggesting that our children can be used to deflect attention from us is merely an extension of that.

It’s hardly the same…hang on, what do you mean “our” children? You weren’t around when they were conceived, nor to raise them. They’re nothing to do with you.

Come now, let’s not get possessive. I’m you, you’re me, we’re just a little better at separating different aspects of our personality than most people. I will accept your wife as yours, as it is your personality for some reason she decided to marry. But we have the same body, the same substance from which our offspring come. Thus, the children are ours.

And what? Uncle Nightswarm now wants in on parenting? Bullshit, you’re just trying to use them.

Uncle isn’t really accurate, but I’ll allow it. Yes, I’ll use them to aid the Rebellion, but I’m not speaking of sacrificing them. I’m not likely to have any more, so if I want my legacy to live on I’ll have to make do with what you’ve given me.

Never knew you were interested in carrying on the family name.

Not the legacy I was speaking of. What happens if we fail in overthrowing Thrune? Who will continue the fight? And if we succeed, who will be there in twenty years to stop the Empire reclaiming Kintargo? Who will deal with the Asmodeans? We need to start preparing them for the fight to come!

So I’m supposed to start weapons training with Revin? He’s three!

I’ll admit Revin’s too young. Alaost is old enough to begin training. He’s what? Six?

Seven. But I still don’t like the idea. We had no training at that age, not formally anyway.

And a few years later we were on the streets struggling to survive.

Which we did, and it really wasn’t that bad. Why don’t you just have faith that they’ve inherited our resourcefulness and will cope with whatever comes?

Not that bad! Sometimes I feel like letting you remember everything in full so you understand. But that would defeat the whole purpose of me having splintered you off in the first place.

You created me? I created you to store some of the worse memories.

We’re the same person, remember? There’s no point in arguing which of us created the other, as neither of us existed in our present form then. Regardless, you’ve just admitted it was bad enough we decided to split apart so that one of us could give us a worthwhile life. There would be no children at all otherwise. So I think it reasonable we prepare them better.

Fine. I’ll let you do some training with Alaost, but Ereniel can’t know. We’ll see about Revin once he’s older.

Agreed. No Revin, just Alaost and Raiia.

No fucking way. You leave Raiia alone. I don’t want you corrupting her.

Tsk, tsk. You’re not supposed to have favourites.

It’s not about her being my favourite. She’s older, and already has skills from her education and joining me on my tours. She doesn’t need you.

You’re kidding yourself. At her age I had the skills granted by several years living in the streets. And I was sucking fat merchants’ cocks to get a few coppers for food to survive.

Which just confirms that you’re not the best person to teach her how to be self-sufficient. Besides, she’s at Lady Docur’s. That place has been around for hundreds of years, she’ll be fine there.

Come now, the girl’s hardly going to be content serving tea for her livelihood, she’s too talented and ambitious for that. You stifle her and she’ll come to hate you.

Raiia has no hatred in her.

You still think of her as a child. She’s a teenage girl, she probably hates most things. You can either direct it or be a victim of it.

This is not open for discussion. You can train Alaost, you’ll not even speak to Raiia.

Fine. I can work with those terms.

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The Loyalists and the Skum
Session 17

The Children thwarted a plot by a group calling themselves the Loyalists by stealing a crate of supplies which had been delivered ‘off the books.’ The Loyalists, led by Sigio Tanessen and a woman called Ambria, chased the Children through the dark streets of Kintargo. A brief skirmish left Sigio dead.

The Children then finished clearing out the ruins below the Lucky Bones, discovering a group of aquatic elves had been captured by the skum. The elves had travelled to Kintargo to find assistance for their village.

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