A Game of Thrunes

Deep Thoughts

So much has happened since the faithful evening, where for one of the first times in my life I attended the theatre. If I had known that it would be so exciting I might have attended before now. But maybe it isn’t always that exciting and maybe it was more of the after party which has left me wanting more?

Sure enough there were some strange cooks in attendance that night and it seemed that only the member of the Hell Knights that conversed with me seemed to be the only one of sound mind. He also was the only thing that interested me, instead of nauseating me. That was until “that poem”. It is amazing how quickly a few words can get someone in deep trouble, even if it isn’t their words.

To see the look of sheer terror in Pavo’s eyes, I have never seen him speechless before and now it seems that we will never get the chance to see it again. Having no answer for the inconvenient event, he high tailed it straight out of the city without looking back to find out that he was cleared of any wrong doing. Even the few remaining friends in the Dottari were not able to shed any light on his whereabouts. Hopefully he has made it out and not captured by the Mayor and his goons for I fear any penalties that Alaria may face would be worse for Pavo as they would be done in secret.

This brings me to young Alaria, I am a bit conflicted about her I must say. Surely she is a fighter for the people, but on the other hand she tried to frame Pavo. Or at least it looked that way, maybe she didn’t expect him to get caught with it, but then she didn’t step forward when he was accused either. So I am not entirely sure that we can trust her.

However the decision was made that we will try to rescue the now infamous poet and try to use her artistic ability to further the cause. I suppose every movement needs a focal point a face as such, even if it is only by appearance with no real power, while the children of the Ashes remaining founding members still pull all the strings. Surely she is a better choice that Gaian?

Gaian has become a worry as of late. Erratic behaviour where he doesn’t seem to be himself, half paying attention and half of the time somewhere else. How he convinced the majority of the group to attempt a rescue attempt in front of a potentially large and hostile crowd is beyond me. Once a dedicated family man, he seems to have forgotten the risk for his family if this scheme does not go our way and either he or all of us are caught. It would mean the end for all of our families if this happens. Innocent families.

It is because of this that I will ensure that I do this with the upmost caution. I will not be putting my family in harm’s way to try and save Alaria or one of our own, especially those who put themselves in unsafe situations and do not take heed of the surroundings. I think that I may have some options available to me to ensure that we get the best result with this plan. But in the end if things look too risky, poor Alaria may have to meet her fate, after all we do these things at a risk.

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Gaian's Opinion on Rescuing Alaria

“I wouldn’t be too concerned about what she knows of us,” Gaian says, leaning back in his chair with a bored expression. “She’s seen nothing to link us to Pavo beyond our normal daily association, and it was she that involved him in clandestine schemes initially, we had nothing to do with it. The only way I can see that she knows anything is if Pavo told her, which I wouldn’t put past the wretch. For all we know he gave her all the info on the rebellion then framed her as the Poison Pen to get it to the Thrunes while getting himself well away!”

As he finishes Gaian leans forward, his demeanour quickly changing, before relaxing back in his chair again.

“But no point worrying about that now, anything she thinks may help her she’s no doubt already thrown to the Inquisitors, and they haven’t come knocking yet.”

The erratic nature of Gaian in Nightswarm guise is slightly disconcerting to his companions, though perhaps less so than the overall change in identity; not only is the personality far removed from that of the enthusiastic and affable tour guide, his postures, movements, and speech are all just different enough to feel bizarre when associated with the familiar face. Indeed, when his face is covered it is at times difficult to identify this as the same person despite seeing the more familiar Gaian walk in and witnessing the change.

“So without any urgency on that front I think we can forget trying to trick or bribe anyone at the Holding House, those courses are too risky. Besides, we want to make a statement to the people of Kintargo, and if we spirit the Poison Pen away in clandestine fashion it is too easy for Thrune to claim some other cause for the excruciation to be cancelled.”

Nightswarm speaks more moderately now as he seeks to engage everyone, but becomes gradually more animated as he explains.

“So that leaves transit or Veritas Plaza. Of those the second is the better choice; although there is some degree of uncertainty as we do not know precisely what is planned, it is a far better forum for making our statement, and the crowd will make it easier for us to disappear with Alaria after. I have some thoughts as to how we can grab her and leave without any of you being at much risk of exposure to identification.”

Having said his piece he lapses back into apparent disinterest as he awaits a response.

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Planning the Rescue

Titus closed the dance hall early this night – there were important matters to discuss. Tables were rearranged and chairs dragged up. Around the room were the extended members of the Children of the Ash – Titus and Bug, Gaian, Keldor and Rexus, Rufus, Lentius, Brother Vaelus, the Varisian performers, and the men recently rescued from the salt works. Notably absent was Pavo, whose whereabouts nobody was certain of; the group assumed he had fled the city. The loss hung heavily upon the rebels, though Gaian seemed to sneer “told you so” every time the bard was mentioned.

The tour guide had undergone a slight change, adopting the persona of Nightswarm to carry out his seditious activities. Bug had also changed, for the first time in his life he had a goal more than simply surviving another day. He was forming a network of spies and informers across the city, which fed him news from the people and government. His old potato sack had been replaced with breeches and vest; although he still dressed simply, his belt was heavy with coin to distribute among his followers.

“Let’s go over the information once more,” Lentius said. “Alaria is being held in the Holding House. It’s been recommissioned since Barzillai’s arrival, and a mid-ranking cleric of Asmodeus named Sabo is in charge. They call her the Spider, though we don’t know why. The Holding House is a strong, stone structure, heavily guarded.

“Our best opportunity may be to rescue her in transit. Alaria is due to be escorted from the Holding House to Veritas Plaza. That only gives us about a quarter of a mile of Old Kintargan streets. The escort will stick to the main streets. If we choose to attack the escort, we could use the side streets as cover.”

Rufus interrupts. “Usual prisoner movements requires a squad of six dottari as an escort. Important prisoners require more, possibly Hellknights.”

Lentius continues. “The Hellknights have set up scaffolding in front of the old court house at Veritas Plaza, where Alaria is due to excruciated – we don’t know how. Likely, she will then be sentenced to slavery, the place determined by what condition she is still in. We could attempt a rescue at the excruciation. There is likely to be high ranking officials present, and a crowd, which could play to our advantage. It will certainly be publicity.

“Finally, we could risk waiting until she is sentenced to slavery and then rescue her from wherever she is sent.”

Rexus clears his throat and takes over as Lentius takes a long draft of ale. “We always have the frontal assault option, but we could also try something a little more covert. Perhaps some kind of ruse. We could approach this Sabo, perhaps, see if she can be bought.”

Rufus nods. "We could try to forge prison transfer papers, I’ve seen them before, but approaching a professional to forge them would be better.”

“I don’t like our chances,” Lentius grimaces. “Somehow I don’t think it will be as easy as walking in and walking out.”

“Well we’d best decide quickly,” Rexus exclaims. “The longer we wait, the more chance there is that Alaria has pointed her finger at us. Although she doesn’t know about the Children of the Ashes, she would have to be blind not to realise something is up. At the very least, she could implicate us simply by association, or perhaps to help clear her own name.”

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Decoding the Documents Pt 2

Where once neat handwriting told a tale of the Silver Ravens, the notes of Rexus have become almost illegible scrawl. The young man has bags under his eyes. Beside him, Brother Vaelus doses, head slumped on the table. “Yes, it is a wearying process,” Rexus admits, rubbing his face, "But we have made more progress.

“The heroes of their time, the Silver Ravens defended Kintargo from being conquered no fewer than a dozen times during the Chelish Civil War: five times from power-hungry noble families, four times from agents of Thrune, once from an invasion of skum from the sea, once from a cabal of Nidalese vampires, and once from a blue dragon named Rivozair.

“But despite this, the Silver Ravens had seen the proverbial writing on the wall—they knew House Thrune was likely to seize control, and had come to the difficult decision to surrender should this event come to pass, hoping to prevent Thrune from razing Kintargo. We believe the cache of treasure and documents hidden in the Fair Fortune Livery were intended to serve as a sort of time capsule, should Kintargo forget the Silver Ravens with the passage of time. As actually occurred.”

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The Varied Thoughts of Gaian Vespinus 4

Well, that was interesting.
Enlightening, I’d say. Or maybe not, no real surprises there. Now get your wife home and then I’ll get us to Belor’s.
Of course, that’s where Pavo is most likely to go. We’ll meet him there.
Pavo? Fuck Pavo. We need to work out what we’ll do about Alaria.
I agree on Alaria, we need to rescue the poor girl. Pavo is probably already plotting a way to release her.
Pavo doesn’t know about Alaria, remember? Bolted at the first little hiccup. I told you he’d run as soon as things got tough.
I think you’re being a bit harsh on the lad. He was rather put on the spot.
And failed miserably. Even you would have had the balls to stick around and defend yourself. He was like a hare caught in sudden torchlight. Made of butter.
Torchlight made of butter?
A hare made of butter, smart-arse. Even if he does come, he’s proven he’s more a liability than anything. Weak as piss. Unless…
Unless what?
It doesn’t matter, just a thought. We’ll see. But hope that I’m right in my initial assessment of him.
I think you’ll find he’ll be very helpful in Alaria’s rescue. We should try to get to her before she is harmed. Poor innocent girl, what a tragedy
Not tragedy; opportunity. I don’t care if she’s innocent or not. To be honest I kind of hope she is the Poison Pen, though it seems unlikely. The important thing is that she will be held up as the Poison Pen. And so when we rescue her it’ll hit the image of Thrune hard. It won’t be easy, but they won’t be expecting that kind of trouble yet. And if it goes to shit, at worst we can kill her clean.
I’d hope we can rescue her rather than it come to that. But you’re right, saving her from Public Excruciation would at least be a mercy.
Saving her from Public Excruciation would stop Thrune making the example of her he’d like. Mercy is hardly the consideration.
You’re a brutal fuck, you know that? I’m not sure the others will agree with your approach.
They will if they have any sense at all.
And what of Bug? You said he’d go soon after Pavo. If your predictions are so right…
I was wrong on Bug. I like him.
He seems a little, er, murderous.
Practical, I’d call it. He’ll do what’s needed. I think the others will too.
I still think you’re wrong on Pavo.
Well, let’s get back to Belor’s and see, shall we?

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Proclamations Poem

At the end of the night, after all guests had left the Citadel Theatre, a halfling cleaner found a crumpled piece of parchment.

Proclamations

Be not the cretin, spoke Lord Mayor Thrune,
Sipping his wine on that grey afternoon.
Mint hater, dog catcher, no tea until noon,
The queen has sent us a babbling buffoon.

Right-minded people wearing a frown
Occupied opera and buildings burnt down
Hellknights and Hellhounds marching through town
Freedom and liberty turned upside down.

So follow Lord-Mayor Thrune’s sagely advice
Do not spill wheat corn barley or rice
Exchange your fine clothes for rats doves and mice
And put the Glorious Reclamation on ice.

The poem was signed, The Poison Pen of Kintargo.

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From the Nursery to the Theatre
Session 05

The group headed to the Tiefling slums, the Devil’s Nursery, to find out why Tieflings are being killed. Investigation of previous victims would prove difficult, as the Tieflings were having the bodies cremated. On the way there, the group discussed how this would help the rebellion, by investigating they hoped to win the trust of the Tieflings to help recruit them.

They tracked down the young tiefling woman Zea, and the group convinced her they want to help. Zea took the men to a small temple of Asmodeus where the body of the most recent victim was awaiting cremation.

The group discovered that there had been an uptick of tiefling corpses turning up lately with signs of violence. Examining the corpse in the temple they found it showed signs of violence, especially around the face. All the teeth had been removed, as part of the attack, or shortly before/after. Pavo noticed that there seemed to be small bites on the hand and neck, as if from tiny humanoids – and had the inspired thought that tooth fairies may have been responsible for the attack. Fairies with the power to paralyse or force to sleep their victims.

Visiting the murder scene, they did find one loose tiefling tooth, seemingly backing up Pavo’s thoughts. The group did look for any kind of patterns to the location of the attacks, but apart from being all in the same general area, the locations did not form any stars, or straight lines, etc.

While investigating, Pavo was pick pocketed by a small orphan, he pursued the lad before casting an enchantment on him, making him fall asleep in his tracks. Recovering his pouch, he found himself surrounded by thugs from the Red Jill’s gang, who are getting more aggressive with Basili’s boys out of the picture. With some smooth words, and the intimidating sight of Rufus behind his shoulder, he managed to convince everyone to walk away from a bad situation.

That night Rufus and Pavo disguised themselves as Tieflings and pretended to have fallen asleep in the streets. They were watched over by Bug and Gaian. After several hours, Pavo was attacked by 8 or so of the pesky little tooth fairies. He was quickly aided by his companions and several of the fairies were killed, with the rest fleeing to burnt out building (a former tavern) where they had set up a lair, with a small hole being the entrance.

The group killed them all, sending Bug down into their lair. Here he found teeth stuck all over walls in a strange pattern, as well as a body of a small child, dead with hands and feet tightly bound with sinew and cold iron chains.

They found out the child was named Gerand, who went missing on the Night of Ashes. The writing on the bindings was Aklo, used by witches and other practitioners of the dark arts. Pavo would tell the tale of this poor child, attributing the discovery to the Children of the Ashes.

Several nights later, Pavo was dining with his friend Alaria at Belor’s Beer Hall, where she told Pavo she had been invited to the Opera Carmelia, being held at the Citadel Theatre, by Furio Tanessen, the son of Count Tanessen, one of the Seven Nobles.

Lentius advised the Children that he thought it would be a good idea to attend, where they could find out the attitudes of some of the nobility and upper crust of Kintargo. The group shopped for new clothes, with varying amounts of success. Pavo looked amazing, while Bug ended up looking like the scruffy manservant he would be acting as.

Arriving at the Theatre, Alaria introduced the group to Furio and his companions, his younger brother Garibaldi and friend Sir Dardis.

Pavo quickly noticed that Archbaroness Melodia Delronge was in attendance, her obviously dyed red/orange hair standing out in the crowd. The only hair more garish belonged to a gnomish ambassador whose hair was bright blue.

Before the opera began, a priest of Asmodeus made an impressive entrance on stage to lead a prayer.

After the Opera, Gaian and his wife, as well as Pavo, introduced themselves to Aluceda, High Priestess of the temple of Zon-Kuthon, and discussed theology with her, trying to wrap their minds around why someone would worship the strange god.

Rufus talked to a Hellknight of the Order of the Torrent, who is investigating the disappearance of the Diva Shensen. While talking to Rufus, the Hellknight glanced at Alaria, as if he suspects she is involved somehow.

The obsequious Countess Urora Sarini was happy to talk to Pavo, in fact inviting him to a performance of the Trials of the Flesh at the Theatre of the Real.

Rufus was approached by Baron Sendi Vashnarstill. The baron asked if Rufus belonged to the Hilltops of Ironhill, and when Rufus said yes, the baron explaimed he thought the family was still enslaved! He quickly apologised, and suggested his information was outdated. To which Rufus responded, “As is your clothing.” EPIC BURN

Arch Baroness Eldonna Aulamaxa, who carried around a poodle the entire night (who had a dislike of Gaian), announced that she believes that the high priest of Shelyn is inciting riots with magic. She was wearing an embroided shawl, as if the proclamations of the new Lord Mayor did not count for her.

While in the line to congratulate the star of the show, Adorabella, Pavo found a small slip of paper in one of his pouches. His initial thought was to excuse himself and see what was written, but some foolish thought had him look at it. To his horror it was a poem critical of the government, written by the Poison Pen of Kintargo. Countess Urora glimpsed the page and noticed the lines scrawled upon it, and encouraged Pavo to read out the poem she thought he had written. The whole audience wished Pavo to read it, and in a rare moment of stage fright, Pavo dropped the paper. The gnome picked it up and quickly read it aloud.

The crowd were shocked and appalled at the contents and Pavo, realising the guards would soon be arresting him, where he would no doubt be tortured and forced to reveal all he knew of the Rebellion, fled the scene, heading for the city gates to keep his friends and the cause safe.

Too late for Pavo, Lord Marqel Aulorian announced Alaria had placed the paper in Pavo’s possession. The guards that were summoned to arrest Pavo quickly subdued Alaria and took her to prison.

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Decoding the Documents Pt 1

Sitting upstairs in Belor’s, Rexus points to a few notes he’s made in neat handwriting on a piece of parchment.

“I have made some progress in deciphering the documents you recovered from the Fair Fortune Livery. It is slow going, but Brother Vaelus is a big help.

“It seems the Silver Ravens formed in the wake of the chaos that swept over Cheliax after Aroden’s death, over a hundred years ago. Their goal was to protect the city of Kintargo from oppression.

“Many of the Silver Ravens were adventurers or worshipers of Milani. Those who rose to particular prominence were Amyreid, a half-elf cleric of Milani who devoted herself to her goddess and the people of Kintargo; Ba, a halfling enchanter powerful in controlling the minds of his enemies; Kyda, a human bard, her uplifting songs kept the morale of the Ravens high during the darkest times; and Brakisi, a human ranger who controlled the underbelly of the city.

“Jackdaw, a swashbuckler, was the most powerful and influential of them all. She was the leader of the Silver Ravens, a mysterious elven woman who built herself into a sort of Kintargan folk hero, fighting for the rights of the city’s downtrodden.

“Unfortunately that’s all I have at the moment. Not much, but at least it’s forming a picture of the Silver Ravens. I will keep you updated.

“Oh, one more thing. Part of the wall in the secret… ahem, below, collapsed, injuring one of our men, Lassius. Hell of a noise, jolted me awake. He’ll recover, but he’ll be out of action for a while. The integrity of the rest of the brickwork seems intact, so hopefully there are no more similar incidents.”

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Information Gathering on the Devil’s Nursery Murders

Malena eagerly accepts the wine Mercia offers her. “Thanks love,” she says, eyeing the barwench’s curves before taking a long drink.

“Well, as you asked,” she begins, “My troupe performed around Redroof.” She pulls a sour face. “Even with living in Kintargo this long those streets still felt oppressive, I’d take the open plains any day. In case you’ve never had the pleasure, the Devil’s Nursery is a slum filled with tieflings. Most live and die there.

“The rumours you heard were correct, there have been several murders, starting the night after the Night of Ashes and every few nights following. So far four unfortunates have lost their lives. It’s driving the tieflings into a panic: they’re looking for help but don’t trust the authorities. Hells, they probably wouldn’t come anyway.

“The locals are on edge and most wouldn’t speak to us about the crimes, but we managed to find out the locations of the murders. The tieflings cremated the bodies out of fear they will rise as vengeful undead.” Malena makes a warding sign.

“I know you didn’t ask for one, but I did a harrowing. The results were unclear, though they might mean something to you. Three actions, three locations, and three actors: innocence lost, hunting, dark magic; a grave, a palace, a tavern; the Fey, the Dark Prince, a Raven.”

“Some think these murders are acts of terrorism performed by agents of Asmodeus, perhaps to stir up the slums. What for, you might ask?” She shrugs. “Justify cleaning out the area? I don’t know. But the tieflings may be grateful to whoever stops these murders.

“One last thing. I made friends with a young tiefling woman named Zea, she was helpful, I can tell you where to locate her if you like.”

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Freedom for all
The Speech

Arriving back at the livery I became a bit calmer. After all, leading the 4 remaining slaves who previously have been unknown to us was fraught with danger. But I couldn’t just leave them there to fend for themselves.
After having a talk to them, it was shocking to find out that they had all been put into slavery for only minor infractions. Protesting, spreading antigovernment rumours and assaulting a guard seemed little reason for such a harsh punishment. They were all extremely scared and worried that they would be tracked and found. I wondered how many people in the city felt the same way, and how many others were shackled up in other places, these are not the only people to have acted this way.
I asked for them to stay here for a while and let them know that they should not be bothered here, as our small group had recently been through here and cleaned up the place. Looking around I could see that it wasn’t so much clean, but it was safe. I promised to return shortly with some supplies and that we could talk more about what they could do moving forward. After a while they agreed, especially seeing the aftermath of how we dealt with the dwarf and his guards back at the salt works.
It didn’t take me to long to return, with some fresh clothes for them as well as some food, which I was able to purchase from the market. After changing out of their old soiled clothes we all sat down to some food. I myself could not eat much after still coming down from the excitement of the night, it was like I was full of electricity and began to wonder if this was a normal feeling if I continued on this path. My guest had no such trouble eating, I can only assume that they were not fed well as they seemed to go through the food like it was nothing.
It was at this point that I broached the subject of how the city has changed and that we needed some brave souls to stand up against this tyrannical reign. Being that they had all rebelled up against the powers already, I thought that it would be an easy sell. However I was still nervous, I had never been the one to speak my mind until recently, after all I was still only young and always seemed to follow my father’s request, rather than make my own. Taking a big breath, I began.
“As you know Kintargo is no longer the free city that it once was. Freedoms which were a privilege and a right to all citizens has been taken away. I know from your actions that you do not want to live the way that others tell you to live. Neither should you, and I cannot see how your most recent living arrangements would lessen this feeling.
But I ask you, are you willing to continue your lives under the thumb of an oppressive regime, or do you want to help take the city back. My friends and I are not willing to live this way, freeing you was only the beginning. We have all vowed that while there are people being oppressed, then we will do what we can to help.
I understand that this is a lot to take in at the moment and I am willing to hear out any questions you may have, but I do not take this lightly. I have a young family whom I wish to protect, which some of you may also, but at the same time I don’t want to see them become part of the mechanism at play within this city. So I am making a stand.
Who is with me?”
| Rufus’ Journal]]

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