(Casual D&D IV) A Knight for a Pawn





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    (Casual D&D IV) A Knight for a Pawn

    (Continued from The Man in Black)

    Come morning, the mood in Despia hasn't seemed to change much: The population generally continue to comport themselves with the same uniform politeness, at once comfortable and grim.

    Returning to the Common Hall, you are quickly directed to speak to Brother Baylough Snead, Officer of Inquiry. He is a half-elf, seeming as out-of-place by now as an orc in the Glades, but his behavior doesn't reflect anything like that: He is enthusiastic, indeed almost glowing with friendliness. Somehow, he seems to maintain eye contact with every person in the group -- all while scribbling incessantly in the thick ledger on his small desk.

    "Good morning! What can I do for you, good sirs, and good madame?"

 

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    [new thread smell!]

    Fendric steps forward, smiling, this being the first half-elf (besides Shavah) he's seen since Hedrogura.

    "Blessings upon you! We have a message, believed to be from Lord Thedoric, for personal delivery to Chief of Affairs, Aramil Kethett. May we see Chief Kethett?"
    Recovering PBP Fiend

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    Raven stands at the back of the group, his head still a bit sore from yesterdays evening drinkfest.
    With bleary eyes he looks about suspiciously, his head thudding and his breakfast crawling around in his stomach, undeciced yet about going up or down.
    *Doghead* "You're an idiot, Dr Z."

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    "Thedoric?" Brother Baylough asks, seeming to recognize the name without being able to place it, at first. "You know, I think Brother Aramil might... Well, let me see about that."

    He hails a page over, and speaks quietly into his ear: "Go upstairs, tell them there is a group here who have a letter from, or rather, believed to be from Lord Thedoric... Ask them if Brother Aramil would like to meet them personally."

    He hands over a set of keys, and the young page runs off, disappearing into a small doorway. Brother Baylough passes the wait with some polite conversation: Where do you come from, how have your travels been, and so forth, seeming equally impressed with all and any answers given.

    In a short while, the page returns, and you escorted up a flight of stairs, down a long hallway, and into a small, sparsely furnished white room: Only a simple wooden desk, a few chairs, and to the side, a narrow table with a checkered board and set of kingsmen pieces mounted on a rack beside it.

    At the center of all this, against the back wall, sits perhaps the broadest set of shoulders ever seen. He is clearly an old half-orc, face full of wispy white whiskers and crossed with cavernously deep lines, but he is nonetheless clearly of extreme physical condition. He wears a simple white mantle, bearing the Star of Cuthbert, over a hulking suit of armor, which no doubt accentuates but still cannot be heldy solely responsible for the man's formidable breadth. Behind him, resting lightly on a wall mount, is an absurdly large mace, handle reinforced with steel a dozen times over, the shining silver head blossoming with spikes and edges.

    "Good morning," the head between the shoulders says, in a loud, gravelled voice. "I am Brother Aramil..." he reaches his hand across the table, to shake with whoever is nearest. "I understand you bring word from Thedoric?"

    The last word, the name is spoken in a tilted, impressed tone, with thick eyebrows hefted up to match. He looks on in a wondering, slightly amused manner for your response.

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    Allright Fenric, any fancy now and we'll all be buggered by that fookin' mace. Just don't screw up now. Raven thinks while desperately trying to ignore his hangover.
    *Doghead* "You're an idiot, Dr Z."

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    Fendric happily shakes Brother Aramil's proferred hand. After releasing it, he fishes through his pockets while speaking.

    "Greetings and Blessings, Brother Aramil. I am Fendric, and our group here..." he pauses to introduce each of the party in turn, "has been charged by Sir Exantrius of the Golden Order to deliver messages to certain important people of the realm.

    As we have recently been told in Eivanrach, these letters appear not to come from Sir Exantrius, as first supposed, but instead by Lord Thedoric, who according to Exantrius has since fallen from grace, and now leads an army against the cities of the Realm. My city, Hedrogura, has already suffered the wrath of this force.

    If the identity of the sender of this letter confuses you, be assured that it confuses us as well, and we have delivered four such letters already.
    "

    Fendric extends his hand again, which now contains the letter.
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    Kethett listens respectfully to Fendric's words, but seems to carry a certain sense of disbelief.

    "First, my sympathies for your losses in Hedrogura -- I have heard of the raid there, and of the heroism of your Brothers, as well."

    He pauses solemnly for a moment, then continues.

    "Thedoric, though... He leads an army, you say? I'm sorry, but I find the thought... well, troubling, if true, but for the most part, hard to fathom. Lord Thedoric's greatest dedication, and greatest talent, was preventing war..."

    He takes the letter, continuing to speak as he breaks the seal, and folds it open.

    "And the man who hired you was Exantrius, you say? I haven't heard the name outside of fable... I suppose the Order could have awarded it to someone..."

    He reads through the letter, carefully... Then rereads it again, carefully...

    "Thedoric does appear to be the signer... But one moment..."

    He reaches into a satchel which sits against his chair, fishes around, and produces a small bottle. Carefully, he places a few drops in his eyes while speaking a soft incantation. (Spellcraft DC 20: True Seeing)

    "Well," he announces after reading the document for a third time, "if this is a forgery, it is not a conjured one... I see no signs of forced penmanship, either, but I'll wait until trained eyes have searched for it to be sure."

    He scans over the letter one more time. "Where did you hear that Thedoric was leading an army? And the man who gave this to you... Tell me more about him. Did he seem suspicious, at all? What did he tell you about this letter?"

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    Raven glances about for a chair, finds one, sits down and leans back carefully.

    This should take a while. Maybe this one knows what this is all about.
    *Doghead* "You're an idiot, Dr Z."

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    Nurthk remains standing, leaving seats for the others before himself. His attention is focused now though, and he is eager to hear what the senior cleric knows.
    Festy_Dog - Schweppe's Traditional Ox's Blood, the official drink of your dark masters!

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    Fendric seems visibly relieved to hear Brother Aramil approach this logically.

    "I suppose, indeed, kind Sir, that suspicion is warranted throughout this entire quest. Certainly we have felt it, ourselves.

    If you would permit me to trouble you with our whole story, as brief as I know how to make it...

    Of the group you see here in front of you, I am who remains of the original party when it began in Hedrogura, excepting Oliver here, who happened to be the entertainment in the bar that night when Sir Exantrius came to us. Sir Exantrius seemed a Knight to my eyes, unaccustomed as they were to anything more than gladiators at the Fighting Pit, and indeed entered my Temple with me, not seeming to be ill at ease.

    Our first stop the next morning, as we left town, was a hobgoblin village, ostensibly for supplies. When we got there, the village was persuaded to trade with us, but during the transaction, the village shaman attacked and grievously wounded Exantrius. I was able to heal Exantrius after the shaman was slain, but several nights thereafter, Pelor took Exantrius in his sleep.

    As he died, a dove emerged from his body, and flew off. After I performed burial rites, and put him aboard his steed, sending them after the dove, I remembered what Exantrius had told me shortly after I healed him. Deliver the letters, whatever should happen, he told me. We had to halt the horse to retrieve the letters!

    Once we retrieved them, we set about to deliver them to the addressees, in as logical an order as would not cost us much time. First to Father Milos Premule, then Visach Cheraul. After we had delivered the letter to Father Premule's adjutant, we encountered Father Premule on our way to the Visach. After we delivered the letter as best we could to the Visach, Father Premule was taken away by Nerullian cultists, and the entire Heironean Guard of Bethel sacked, and replaced with walking corpses!

    We set off for a while to attempt to recover Father Premule, but could not find him. At that point, most of the Guard split off to continue the search, and Shavah here, came with us.

    Throughout, we have been beset by things I cannot explain. A druid seems to want to harm me with summoned creatures. A man walks up to us and speaks of a Game being played by two men, one good, one evil, both powerful, whom we will anger if we do not continue. We've met a fortune teller who seemed to transfer us across vast sections of the Realm in order to deliver our next letter. We've been warned by a tribe of orcs not to cross the pass to Eivanrach, then nearly slain by what seemed to be another group of them when we did.

    As to who informed, well, me that Lord Thedoric had gone rogue and was leading the raiders, that would have been Exantrius, the very first day. I have indeed labored under that assumption throughout. As for the letters themselves, we knew nothing about them until Eivanrach, when Mr. Gaunt, was it? informed us that not only were these letters not from Exantrius, but that they contained a secret page for the addressee alone.

    I trust in the Radiant Light, as I am certain you do in the Cudgel, that what we do is of benefit to the good of all of us in common. I hope it is so, in fact. But would not you also be suspicious of such a chain of events?
    "
    Recovering PBP Fiend

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