A Game of Thrunes

The Varied Thoughts of Gaian Vespinus 7

Damnit, get out of my head! I’ve got too much to do tonight to have you distracting me.

I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.

Really? It’s all your moping. “Poor Butcher is dead”. Blah, blah, blah.

Only Rufus? What about Titus and Keldor?

It doesn’t seem you’re too worried about them.

Why not?

Well, they have nobody relying on them. No little boy waiting for his daddy to come home. He never will.

You’re right. We should really do something about it.

We can’t. Not tonight. Too much to organise to get the fucking Asmodean bitch who did it!

And protect the Rebellion.

Yes, yes, that too.

And after that we can do something to give some closure to Rufus’ family.

Will that make you happy then?

It certainly will. As much as possible in the circumstances, anyway.

Enough to stop the damned crying in my head while I’m trying to work?

Hmm, not sure.

Why not?

Oh, because I call him Rufus, not Butcher. That was you.

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Aroldo lives to fight another day

The cries of battle follow Aroldo as he back tracks through the Fantasmagorium. His heart pounds in his chest, both from the exertion of running for his life, and fear for his life – his new friends seem to be unafraid of taking on powerful foes. The wizard reaches the entrance of the seemingly accursed museum, and pauses. He strains his ears, but hears nothing – has the battle ended? Or are the walls too thick and are blocking the sounds of further battles?

The wizard summons some of the last of his strength, and calls upon his magic one more time. As he does, his features blur and shift. When the magic is finished, a shorter, skinnier man has seemingly replaced Aroldo. Disguised, the wizard opens the door and slinks out. Knowing he has to report to the surviving members of the nascent rebellion, he considers heading straight for Belor’s, but wonders if the approaches there would be currently watched. Thinking that the chance is too great to take, Aroldo starts heading back home. It is a long journey, that feels even longer as Aroldo cannot help but flinch at every sound, and gaze at every shadow, expecting an ambush.

The wizard calms slightly as he stumbles in his front door, leaning against it as he performs some mental exercises to clear his mind, now he has reached safety. The quiet of his home, with the faint earthy smell of growing plants also helps. Hands still shaking slightly, he puts aside his staff, and unburdens himself of some of the items he thought may have come useful in the recent tasks.

Letting out a long sigh, he heads to his study where one of the silver raven figurines lie. Never having used the power within the figurine before, he is slightly nervous as he whispers a message to it. When he has composed his message, he takes the figurine to the window, where it comes to life, the metallic raven flying away to deliver its bleak message to Gaian and Rexus….

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The Fantasmagorium Pt 2
Session 09

After defeating and questioning the Azvernathi Raul, the cleric of Asmodeus, the Children crept down stairs to the underground level of the Fantasmagorium. This was the secret hideout of the Order of Archivists. Unfortunately the hideout had been discovered by the Asmodeans, and the Order destroyed.

After fighting past the Asmodean redactors the Children faced Nox, assistant to the Lord Mayor and oversee of the redaction efforts of the Fantasmagorium. Nox was too powerful for the Children, and several of them fell in battle.

The future of the rebellion hangs in the balance…

Full notes:

• The group, suddenly feeling refreshed, leapt immediately into combat.
• Keldor casts shield to protect himself initially, while Bug changes into combat. And Fumbles (Sad trombone sound).
• Titus fails to climb onto a table, but attacks anyway, hoping no one saw what just happened.
• The monks yell for Lord Raul, instilling a sense of dread in the party
• Lord Raul appears shortly after, a cleric with dual maces. He casts a spell and turns invisible.
• The battle goes on, the party get the upper hand. Lord Raul gives up when he is the last one.
• Advises there are more monks and Nox downstairs. Nox is the Lord Mayor’s ‘personal assistant’. The group remembers that they saw her get stabbed and smile it off, with the wounds healing up. It is said she has made pacts with devils. Has a monster’s strength. There are a dozen redactors and a pet-Ogre-kin. Nox regenerates, but this isn’t immunity.
• Rufus thinks he is lying when he says he will leave if we let him go. Aroldo asks how we get down stairs. The cleric advises you push both eyes of the Aroden statue.
• The group decides facing Nox is too dangerous.
• Don’t find much, writing implements and the like. Initial scans of documents appear mundane and not useful.
• The group decides to rest, so the magic users of the group can regain their spells. They will be heading downstairs after resting to investigate the secret meeting place of the Order of Archivists. Rest is completed successfully.
• The stairs down are illuminated by magic light. We descend into a massive library. Seems to be missing books though. Bloodstains on floor. Huge rune on floor. There is Master’s Rebus, holy to Irori
• As we reach the floor, papers and books rise from the floor and assumes a roughly humanoid shape. Keldor asks if it is a librarian, it advises it is the library guardian. Tells us that it has been visited by defilers recently. Aroldo asks how long was here, imprisoned by Witch of Thrune. Guardian advises defilers have taken most of the books. Overpowered by infernal magics. Guardian served Order of Archivists. Confirms they are all dead. They find books on the history of Kintargo: personal journals, big events, small goings on.
• Wide stairs head further down, still magically lit. Goes down to corridor with 4 doors. First door leads to small bedroom, like a monk’s cell. Find more of these, then find a larger one with painting of Victacora family, we recognise Rexus.
• Bug finds a secret door! It leads down a corridor to a large room. The stench of rotting flesh grows strong as we approach.
• We can see Redactors taking books. In the middle of the room are chains holding a redactor’s decaying body. Five redactors is what Bug can see from his vantage point.
• The group decides to attack. Titus charges in! Great melee. Bug sneaks in for surprise attack. Surprise big humanoid bursts out of one of the doors- the Ogre-kin! The group manage to win easily.
• Arcane runes – warnings – on some shelves. Would normally indicate cursed items. Chains radiating Plane of Shadow. Seem to be books about that in this area. The group speculates it is the result of an activated magical trap. Aroldo also detects magic from behind a wall. The group finds a keyhole in the mortar. Rufus suggests using the platinum key. The key works and there is the sound of grinding stone. We find some magic items.
• The group hears others planning to ambush them when they walk through. The group decides to counter-ambush.
• Nox summons a poo demon.
• Vicious fight, Nox is a regenerating monster.
• The group manage to take down the majority of their opponents, but Nox is too strong.
• Reduced to wielding his quarterstaff, Aroldo strikes a massive blow that would kill any normal human (20!) but Nox barely blinks. Deciding that discretion is the better part of valour, Aroldo makes a break for it, the others standing their ground until the bitter end.

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The Fantasmagorium
Session 08

The Children decide looking up maps of old Kintargo would be too obvious at this point. Gaian wants to ask questions about the Nidalese embassy. Rexus and Aroldo relate what they know about Marquel Aulorian (implicated Alaria) and the Sarini family (mentioned in Smiling Sen’s letter).

The Aulorians are one of Kintargo’s older noble families, and made their name through the salt and silver trades. They have long supported Kintargo, but with Barzillai Thrune’s arrival, the family patriarch Auxis has grown increasingly supportive of Thrune, abandoning his family’s more traditional Kintargan values. Count Auxis is egotistical, florid, and short-tempered. His son Marquel is quieter and unassuming, perhaps because of his withered arm, which he usually tries to hide. Despite several suitors he is not yet married.

House Sarini is one of the better-known noble families of Cheliax. Nicknamed the “Fools of Thrune” or the “Lapdogs of Hell”, they are known for producing cruel and macabre fools and jesters who serve the crown. Members of the house are often sent to amuse crowds at public executions in Egorian, entertaining the common folk with their dark and violent humour. It is currently unknown whether members of this house do this voluntarily, or if their debased profession is a result of an offence against House Thrune. The Sarini Family own lands around Cape Dis, which is to the west of Ravounel Forest, southwest of Kintargo. The current leader of House Sarini is Countess Urora Sarini, who the Children had met at the theatre (note: the Theatre of the Real lady).

The Imp
Lunch time the next day, the Children are discussing what to do, when the Jollytime Girls. Keldor announces he is getting uncomfortable meeting at Titus’ and Gaian believes changing habits now would be too obvious.

Suddenly there is chaos in the kitchen. Mercia thought a rat was talking to her. Aroldo detects magic, and senses something, something moving. Keldor notices a latch on the trapdoor leading to the cellar being opened. Titus leads the charge down there.

Titus thinks he hears pan pipes – some kind of music. The music is leading to the secret area in the cellar. The group rushes to the secret hideout, Titus leading the way but he runs into a giant ant!

With what weapons they have on hand, the rebellion leadership attacks this unexpected intruder. Aroldo sees a giant swarm of rats approach from sewers. He casts flaming sphere which roasts a great deal of the Swarm. The ant disappears when it dies – it was summoned.

Then Gaian spots a small, laughing woman playing pan-pipes – she’s got red skin with one horn coming from her head, wings sprout from her back and her ears are pointy. On top of all this, a scorpion like tail twitches behind her. An imp.

Aroldo keeps the rats at bay with flame and magic missiles the imp. She tries to go invisible and Titus tries to cut her down as she vanishes.

The imp decides to negotiate. Her contract is ‘held’ by the Sarinis, it was picked up by accident by the Silver Ravens one hundred years ago, and is included in the documents held by Rexus. She is bound to remain close to her contract, so has not dealt with the Sarinis since that time.

The group was concerned the imp would blab if they released her, she had been listening to all their secret plans and meetings.

Gaian asked who knocked the wall down. Imp admitted to hastening its collapse.

The imp states she knows the Song of Silver, and would be willing to make a deal with the party: they release her from her contract, and in return, she teaches them the song.

The Sarini family is required to release the imp, as they are named in her contract, though they are completely unaware of this since 100 years have passed since she served them.

Gaian suggests a visit to the Theatre of the Real to meet Countess Urora Sarini. The party agrees. This will be organised at a later date (next session).

The Hall of Records
Aroldo visits the Hall of Records. The rich part of town is guarded now, but Aroldo passes straight through. The guards stop Keldor from going through, all suspect it is because he is a Tiefling.

The doors to the Hall is closed. There is a monk of Asmodeus painting new runes on the wall. He advises that the Hall is being renovated. He suggests knocking on the door to gain access.

A servant of the Hall answers the door, and Aroldo successfully bluffs his way into the Hall by promising to be quick. Aroldo finds out that Hocum was a stage magician. Details here. After the civil war he opened a museum called the Fantasmagorium. The Fantasmagorium was filled with oddities and magical phenomena. Was a success for many years, but lost novelty, went out of business 20 years ago. Closed down, Hocum died.

The Nidalese Embassy
Gaian and Bug go to the Nidalese Embassy, but it is closed by order of the Umbral Court of Nidal. They are redirected to Shadowsquare – the temple of Zon-Kuthon.

Gaian decides to do this, but Bug wants to gain access – he climbs the wall. Garden is bathed in deep shadows. Bug thinks he spots movement on a balcony. Bug tries to sneak forward stealthily.
Decides to try access embassy via a window. He is ambushed looking in a window, is knocked down. Was a human woman who did this. She has a large fancy dagger, dressed in tight black leather. She wants one reason not to ‘rip him open and eat his innards.’ Bug tries humour, realises followers of Zon-Kuthon don’t have a sense of humour.

So he bluffs, and blames the Red Jills. He claims Three Fingers sent him. She openly wonders how long it would take Bug to leave the grounds. She gives him a short head start, which Bug eagerly takes advantage of. Bug gets over the wall, but just keeps running, all the way to Belor’s

Gaian visits Shadowsquare. The temple is built on ruins of temple to Cayden Cailean. Grounds perpetually shadowed, there’s offerings at the shrine. Gaian spots instruments of torture. There is also a phrase: The wisest decision is to abandon all hope. Gaian is approached by a priest of Zon-Kuthon. The Tour Guide asks to speak to the High Priestess. He is told she is busy and Gaian must leave a message or talk to him.

Gaian asks about rumour of embassy abandonment. Gaian hears tortured shrieks, most likely from an amputation, he pretends to be unconcerned. Umbral Court does not wants interests threatened. Gaian asks if they do not enjoy suffering. Gaian is led around the grounds, then leaves.

Hocum’s Fantasmagorium
The Fantasmagorium is a ruined building in the north-east of Redroof, everyone knows where this is. The group decide to approach the building the next day. The building has boarded up windows, the doors look new and sturdy. Alleys are scungy, but no side entrance. There is a keyhole at front door and the platinum key Aroldo gave Rexus fits the lock perfectly.

The decor seems to be a cross between a haunted house and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. There are tracks in the dust – Titus believes they are approximately a week old. Group is attacked by two skunk ape skeletons. After the battle Aroldo tries to detect magic, but finds nothing.

Group finds statue of man with winged eye on his chest, Aroldo realises that this is a depiction of the dead god Aroden.

Next find displays full of dead bugs and spiders. There’s a body dressed in black and red – an Asmodean. He seems to be covered in strange welts. There’s also a 10’ spider in the hall – is it stuffed? The entire group wonders.

Bug approaches the corpse. Red spiders come out from everywhere and attack. The group manage to defeat the spiders, some of the group suffers from poisoned bites.

The group goes to another room which is a wax gallery, with many sculptures. One of the sculptures looks like a professor. His plaque reads Professor Mangvhune – The Temple Hill Slasher. His face appears all melted apart from one eye. Bug retrieves the eye, and finds the eye is made from alabaster. This has to be the infamous Kintargan murderer.

Next is the Hall of Historical Truths. Several horribly burnt corpses. Likely burnt alive. They get up off the floor- undead! The zombies shuffle forward and attack, but don’t prove to be too much trouble for the group. After combat, clothes look fancy. Two signet rings, of the Victocora family. It seems Rexus’ parents did come to a grisly end.

The group moves further in, coming across a room filled with Asmodean priests. It’s a cliffhanger!

Things to do:

  • Finish exploring Hocum’s
  • Meet the Sarini’s at the Theatre of the Real
  • Rufus – begin feeling out dottari still loyal to the old ways
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Vaelus seeking calm

Brother Vaelus sat quietly in the common room of Belor’s Beerhall. It was not late, but with the curfew, everyone had left before sunset. He paused in his reading to gaze at the candle flame before him. He sighed, turned a few pages, and began reading again.

“Another book,” Lentius commented as he walked past, pulling on a leather gauntlet. “What is it this time?” He flexed his hand, making sure the glove was tight.

“The Nine Tyrants,” Vaelus replied.

“History?” Lentius asked.

“Ethics,” Vaelus replied, looking up. “When I find myself stirred, I turn to the wisdom of ages past to seek stillness.”

Lentius paused near the door. “Smiling Sen,” he guessed.

“His fate does not sit well with me.”

Lentius nodded and opened the door. “This rebellion is bigger than all of us, and sacrifices have to be made, no matter how we feel. This won’t be the last.” He pulled his hood on and left into the night.

Vaelus closed his eyes for a few moments, then continued reading.

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The Varied Thought of Gaian Vespinus 6

Nightswarm’s recently acquired mask lay on the table. In the flickering candlelight, the swarm of large wasps carved on its face gave the appearance of movement. Beside the mask lay a single sheet of paper, the freshly written ink slowly drying.

Three foolish ladybugs descended to a spider’s lair
It’s no surprise
That their demise
Was waiting for them there.

But perils come in many stripes, on that you may depend
And this warm night
They had a fright
Before they met their end.


I don’t like it.

Well, I admit I’m no Poison Pen, but it’s not that bad. After all, I only intend it to get out among the children of the city. It’s nothing but a bit of fun.

Narcissistic is what it is, but at least far more subtle than scrawling “Nightswarm was here” in blood on a wall somewhere. No, I actually don’t mind your rhyme, I’m thinking more of recent events in general.

Ah, you’re still upset at the attack on the Asmodeans.

It was foolish. We knew nothing about them, we could easily have been outclassed! And perhaps had we followed them we’d have learned something of more use.

Unfortunately your companions didn’t see it that way, else they’d not have called for me over you.

Perhaps next time I won’t allow you to respond.

Hah, as if you could stop me! Vengeance against those devil-worshippers is the truest cause to my heart. You can’t possibly think you could keep me from that.

Unfortunately that is probably true. But the Asmodeans bother me far less than Smiling Sen. That was poorly played.

That wasn’t my call.

You made no effort to stop it.

I didn’t care. He was a high risk. He was dealt with. Don’t get sentimental.

I will admit to some sentimentality. He was a simple man, and I do not believe he meant us any harm. But I really don’t see what we had to lose by letting him live; he’d already passed on what information he had, and perhaps we could have used him to find out something about whoever was controlling this rat, or who “B” is. If anyone had suspicions about our activity we’ve likely just confirmed them by removing him.

We can’t afford to take risks. It seems we’ve been far too sloppy already. As well as Sen there’s whoever caused the collapse below, plus the Rose of Kintargo. And while the Rose is likely to be an ally, I still find it disconcerting how easily it found us. No, it seems you’re on your own with this one. Even the Butcher, our usual moral compass, was keen to put an end to the cook.

I do admit some disappointment; I’d have thought Rufus at least would have been more forgiving.

And the others were even more keen. To be fair Happy Viper wasn’t there, but there was no word of argument from Candy. And Naga and Firefly seemed enthusiastic to a degree that even I find almost disturbing, though perhaps for different reasons to you.

So you’ve named them all now? Ah, I see what you’ve done. Funny. At least those names are somehow less ridiculous than the one you gave yourself. Anyway, the fact remains that I think you’re all pushing too hard, too quickly. We need to be more cautious.

Decisiveness is what we need. But I understand your leanings are toward a different aspect of our goddess than my own. If you wish to try to sway the others to more caution I’ll not try to stop you. But I doubt you’ll have much success.

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Exploring the Sewers
Session 07

Rufus
• Rufus heard his door knock several times but nobody was there before his friends arrived for lunch (they were Dottari, but old school and honest like Rufus).
• They said the Lord Mayor had brought in his own loyalists into the guard and was spreading them out into all units.
• They were told not to bother investigating the latest murder, which they suspected matched the previous ‘Slasher’ murders.
• One of them volunteered to find out the details, and Rufus suggested speaking to Tayacet, an investigator who showed interest in the murders.

Gaian
• Gaian is not getting many people taking his tours anymore.
• He has however noticed that there are a lot more Dottari on the streets these days.
• The common folk are talking about a boat race that took place on the river, nothing of major consequence seems to be being talked about.
• His eye is caught, however, by a mask on a dummy being used by a crossbow merchant. It seems to have an unnatural attraction for him (it is a Battlemask).
• To the point he sets several fires around the crossbow merchant’s stall, causing a large commotion during which he casually removes the mask and secrets it upon himself before departing the scene of his crime.

Keldor
• Keldor is visiting the Red Roof Market, Kintargo’s well renowned clothing district.
• Rubbing the thumbprint on his forehead, he is sent shopping for spell components by Evalyn, looking for mica chips and bat fur to be precise.
• Keldor is handed a bunch of roses. And a note. It read: My Dear Children, know that you are not alone. My flock will rise up – but not yet. Until then prepare, recruit, build. Rose of Kintargo.
• DM NOTE: this didn’t come out in session, but Gaian and Brother Vaelus tells the group that the Rose of Kintargo is the name of a secret cult of Milani, goddess of hope and uprising.
• The message seemed to urge patience and preparation.

Bug
• Bug finds he needs not be concerned about the curfew; his skills let him roam where he wishes.
• The Halfling has begged for time off from working at Belor’s so he can visit his eyes and ears. They have been faithfully spreading the word of the Children.
• A criminal by the name of Three finger wants to meet with Bug
• Bug has decided to give his urchins a project: sniffing out the traitor. The focus should be the other staff at the dance hall.
• Bug goes to meet Three Fingers – a member of the Red Jills.
• Bug tries to sneak up on the man, but is wildly unsuccessful, and 3F seems unimpressed.
• The meeting is for the dividing up of turf, the Red Jills don’t want encroachment, they want clear boundaries. East of Veritas Plaza should be Red Jills turf.

Aroldo
• Aroldo prepares to go to Belor’s Beer Hall after five days of laying low.
• Alaria has been staying with Aroldo, coming to terms with what has happened to her. The girl is upset now that she will have a distinct lack of opportunity to ply her main trade, but she’s now thinking of other opportunities. She’s been writing letters and poetry.
• On his journey to Belor’s Aroldo has to cross the bridge across the river. He’s a little nervous, he’s moving a large amount of mint.
• The guards stop him, and in an uncharacteristic fit of nerves, he drops his toll on the road, instead of placing it simply in the hands of the guard.
• The wizard panics, but a decent bribe does the trick, getting the sweaty big man across the bridge with his precious cargo.
• The wizard makes several stops, one at Cinnamon Treat, the other at Fine Flowers.
• He ends his journey at Belor’s, and finds the ‘usual crowd’ there, plus Rexus.

Belor’s
• Rexus has the mithril key that Aroldo gave him.
• Rexus asked the group what they thought their goals were, their end-game.
• The group had a long and passionate debate. Everyone seemed to be pining for days gone past, where Kintargo was just mostly left alone by the rest of the Empire, but those days seemed to be gone forever, only independence for Kintargo would get the people the freedoms they deserved.
• The group compiled a list of the people that knew of the secret hide out: The Party; Rexus, Lentius and brother Vaelus; Pavo; Smiling Sen and Mercia
• And then a list of the people that knew of Belor’s: Alaria; The Jollytime Girls; Bug’s boys; perhaps the upstairs prostitutes
• The group then decided on some actions that needed to be taken:
o Question Alaria
o Go to the Records Hall to seek information on Hocum’s
o Find the traitor
o Explore the sewers
• The group also discussed the events around Pavo’s flight and Alaria’s capture and wondered about the man with the withered arm that pointed the finger. He was remembered as Marcel Aulorian.
• The group decided to investigate the sewers as their next objective.

The Sewers
• They recovered their raft and began explorations; the sewers mostly followed old roads and the like, Kintargo having been raised up and built over, the sewers being what remains of the old Kintargo.
• The thought occurs to find a map somewhere of Old Kintargo, which may help reveal secrets of the sewer ways.
• The group decided to head in the direction of the Livery; with Keldor leading the way, as the Tiefling can see in the dark.
• A rotting smell, noticeable over the normal rank aroma of the sewers becomes obvious as the group moves on.
• Keldor advances further and finds the smell comes from the giant rotting body of a moth, most likely a Carrion Moth, given its size and location in the sewers
• The group noted that there were slime trails all around the body, but seeing no alternative, begun moving past.
• The group were then attacked by a larval slime crawler, which was quickly dispatched, but the noise drew the attention of its brood mates, which also were dealt with.
• Further down the path on the way to the livery, the group encountered another obstruction, a pile of crates and debris, which required climbing over.
• Gaian and Keldor decide to climb over, both end up falling down a pit that was on the other side of the blockage.
• The group was then attacked by a man sized bug like creature with sickles for hands and a spider’s face – an Ettercap.
• After a struggle where Rufus and Aroldo were covered in webs, and Keldor had difficulty climbing out of a pit, the Ettercap was forced to flee from the strength of the band.
• The group then stumbled upon three priests of Asmodeus, they were observed trying to decide on a direction to head, they discussed looking for a way to the monastery.
• It was decided to attack the group stealthily, Bug leading the way.
• Bug momentarily seemed to have lost his mojo, and was easily spotted. He pretended to be someone addled in the wits department, and approached the men asking for ‘Shineys’
• This enabled Bug to get close enough to attack quickly (DM NOTE: I probably should not have allowed the sneak attack without some sort of Bluff check, a fail meaning the cleric realised Bug was attacking and normal initiative rolled to start combat)
• The men were overcome, with one being left alive for questioning.
• The priest revealed he had been sent down here to kill kobolds that infest this part of the sewers, and that the monastery was dedicated to Aerenwae (DM NOTE: LOL!! Someone got game worlds confused. It should be Irori, the god of enlightenment, self-perfection, knowledge, healing, and inner strength. His religion is a bit like fantasy Buddhism. He’s also the god of Brother Vaelus).
• The group then located what seemed to be the entrance to the temple of Asmodeus, and decided to return home.
• When they returned, Rufus caught Smiling Sen reading the notes of a sleeping Rexus.
• When interrogated, Sen gave a story that a talking rat told him to look through the papers. The voice had also told him to send a letter to the Dottari, detailing suspicions.
• The voice seemed womanly. It had mentioned something about a ‘contract’.
• Sen also had a note on him, which read:_ Lord Sarini, You have something I want, and I know something you will find very profitable. Please come to the dance hall known as Belor’s Beerhall in Old Kintargo. I promise you won’t regret it. Regards, B._

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The Varied Thought of Gaian Vespinus 5

So, Alaria is holed up with this Aroldo guy.

So it seems. Of course, that’s what we assumed when the others lost her during the rescue.

Incompetants! That wasn’t part of the plan!

No, but it wasn’t unwelcome. We still rescued her and made Thrune look somewhat foolish, you got to promote yourself and the rebellion briefly, and then as an added bonus we didn’t have to worry about Alaria. Even if she were discovered she couldn’t lead them back to us.

But now not only can she trace back to us, she’s brought yet another bumbling oaf in with her. With all the failures around us so far, he’s sure to be a liability.

That’s a bit harsh, he’s apparently a wizard. He must at least be reasonably smart. And other than Pavo, who to be honest I’m tired of you harping on about, what other failures around us?

Seriously? They were supposed to take Alaria to the Livery, not hand her over to some unknown person!

From what I’ve heard there’s not much they could have done to avoid that. They didn’t exactly invite him in.

Fine, but what about Rufus setting those smoke bombs off early? You would have thought a former dottari could at least follow basic orders, but now it seems he butchers plans as well as dogs.

Ah, so now we come to your real gripe. You’re still pissed off that not everyone was watching you on stage.

Three loyalists! That’s all they sent after me. Those dottari should all have been after me. And the Hellknights!

Well, there was the harrower until she saw through your disguise and dismissed you as inconsequential. And maybe more would have followed if they could have actually seen you. But I think it worked nicely. You certainly made an impression with the loyalists, and the fact that you didn’t kill any dottari helps to support the fact that you are against Thrune, not against the city.

Perhaps. Maybe I should reinforce that, hunt a few loyalists down.

I think we have more important things to do for now, don’t you?

Of course. We need to find out where this Aroldo lives. I can search his place, look for any evidence of his trustworthiness.

I’d be inclined to agree if I believed that was truly your intent. But I’m not that stupid. I will not allow you to assassinate Alaria.

You’re a fool! She’s served her purpose, now she is nothing but risk to us. They had her locked up for days, do you really think they don’t have a strand of hair or drop of blood they can use to scry for her? Much harder to do with the crocodile digesting her.

If they do it will take them to Aroldo, and hopefully he can deal with it. I think we have some questions we need to ask Alaria. Starting with the night Pavo ran.

Hah, you don’t really think she’s the Poison Pen do you?

It seems unliklely, though not impossible. But assuming she’s not the Poison Pen, she may still have planted the poem on Pavo, which means she may well know who the Poison Pen is, or at least have a means to contact them. The Poison Pen could be a valuable ally of the Children of the Ash to help spread our message. And if it wasn’t her, then why did Lord Aulorian point his withered finger in her direction? What did he have to gain? And if nothing else, we need to know what sorts of questions were asked of Alaria while she was being held, and what she told them.

So I’m not allowed to hunt loyalists, and not allowed to tidy up the Alaria situation. What exactly do you suggest I do then?

Well, it would be useful to further explore the sewer network so we can make use of it to come and go. Rexus believes we have a traitor in our midst. Then there’s the rumour of Newt having magical items up for sale, which in itself is less interesting than the “fact” that he took them from the Nidalese Embassy. I thought Nidal had somewhat of an alliance with the Thrunes, why have they left?

All sounds a bit dull to me, more your interests than mine, although let me know when you find this traitor. Anything else more suited to me?

Well, there is one thing that only you could do that may help immeasurably.

Yes?

Practice your knife throwing.

Fuck off.

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Decoding the Documents Pt 3

Rexus looks around and lowers his voice, as if the traitor could be eavesdropping even though the room is empty. “These meetings make me nervous,” he smiles in the candlelight. “Listen, I’ve been thinking. Now that we have gone public, the people of Kintargo will be wondering who the Children of the Ash are, what they stand for. We should be prepared to answer those questions. I know we each have our own reasons, but outwardly we need to be united. This is important if we’re to find new recruits. Already these Happytime Girls—”

“Jollytime,” Titus interrupts.

“Yes, Jollytime Girls, seem to have joined for their own reasons, to take back what was theirs. I’m happy to have them on our side, but we need to ensure our recruits are joining for the right reasons. We need to all be on the same page.

“And speaking of pages…” Rexus pushes a small stack of papers across the table. “I have translated all but the last few documents recovered from the Livery. Many are of interest from a purely historical perspective but won’t benefit us at this moment. What I have learnt which might be of more use is that the Silver Ravens were said to be able to use something called the ‘Song of Silver’ to defend Kintargo. Unfortunately there isn’t any information as to what the Song of Silver is. We should try to discover anything we can about it. Was it actually a song? Considering the next piece of information, it may have been: the Silver Ravens maintained their headquarters in the Kintargo Opera House.”

The room is silent as those around the table wonder if it is simply coincidence that Barzillai Thrune set up his own headquarters in the same place…

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Happenings at Home

Returning to my home, I enter to find my house surprisingly empty. Considering how much I have been away lately I am not surprised. Thinking out loud “Winifred and Tyrell must be next door with mother”. I took off my boots and hung up my cloak and started to make my way to the fire to get the house warm for the night. Not before returning the coins to the lock box beneath the floor boards under the Tyrell’s crib.

As I replaced the boards however, there was a loud bump from above. Quickly grabbing my sword I swiftly made my way up the stairs, half expecting some Dottari to be present and holding my wife and child hostage so as I would go peacefully. To my surprise though, there was no-one present, what I did find though was a picture of my late father on the floor. I slowly walked over to the picture and picked it up.

“Hello, Rufus”. Came a call from downstairs, it seemed my assumption was correct as Winifred’s voice came drifting up the stairs to meet my ears, soon to be followed by the crying of young Master Tyrell. I quickly returned the picture frame to its normal location and made my way downstairs.

Greeting me with open arms and handing my Tyrell, my wife seemed very tired. “Tyrell is sick, he has a fever and has been crying all day. Your mother and I have called on the doctor who came and gave him something to help ease the pain and help him sleep”. “Well what did the doctor say was wrong with him, nothing serious is it, if so we should take him to see a healer?” “No, nothing serious, see how he is grabbing his ear, well the doctor believes that he just has an ear infection and that it will just need to get better with some rest”. “Being the first time that he has gotten sick, I suppose that I was just over worried”, Winifred reassured me with her calming smile.

“Well, whatever it was that he gave him, it seems to have done the trick as he is fast asleep”. “That must be a miracle, as he said it wouldn’t take affect for another hour, and he has just left. We were lucky to get him out actually being so close to the stupid curfew”. “Maybe I have the magic touch? Let me just put him down to rest”.

“So what is for dinner then Wini”? Giving me a look, of what did you just ask me, I quickly retrieved the leg of ham and loaf of bread, which I had picked up earlier. “Sit down, honey I can see that you have had a rough day”. I then proceeded to tell her about my day, well the bits that she needed to know anyway. About the failed excruciation and the escape of the poison pen of Kintargo. She was very happy about that, as she was an avid follower of the poison pen, to which I replied that I only knew about her when she was recently caught by the authorities. She didn’t need to know the full details of what I am up to, after all she will only worry and try and talk me out of it. After dinner she offered to clean up, so I went upstairs to retrieve my sword which I had left up there earlier.

Upon opening the door, I was shocked. My father’s sword was on the ground pointing directly at the picture which was once again on the floor. I froze and looked around to find that the windows were still closed and latched from the inside and that I was alone. A chill ran up my spine and the stillness was broken by the sudden wailing of Tyrell from down stairs.

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