"No, I rarely attend such events myself, but I always get a report on such events from a handful of Elites who are more apt than I at rubbing shoulders with the nobles and merchant lords of Old City,"
Suddenly a light turns on: “Wait, Lord Oakfirst! Do you attend most or all the diplomatic events that Avitus would attend or would have attended? Where was he in the Bluffside society, royalty, and diplomatic rivals pecking order? What kind of access did he have or could he provide? My point is thus: since much of Bluffside’s governance appears be so by virtue of currency. The real kind, societal status, and of course, information. What or who was in his orbit that might make him a target?”
Oakfirst replies. "Avitus rarely missed social events. He is... was the ambassador to Ticinum after all and the Imperial Lands are always interested in what is going on in Bluffside."
Oakfirst rubs his chin thoughtfully. "Ticins consider themselves to be at forefront of every political situation. They tend to lord over those they consider inferior. Ticinum is a very old land with a long history of conquest, but the Ticins aren't what they once were. Yes, Ticinum is still an empire, but it is an empire on the decline."
He looks to Falen. "That empire is always a target, so Avitus would be a target of many who were once forced to bow to the emperors of Ticinum. Kalmonte, Novarum, Tarminan, Várad, and almost any land north of the Red Mountains. Their soldiers tend to attack first and ask questions almost never. If the empire was such a wounded animal ready to strike, The Five would likely have expelled their embassy from Bluffside decades ago."
"At least they're not as bad as the Tarmins,"
"We're not at war with the Ticins,"
the lord commander notes. "Well, the fighting against the Tarmins is not a true war. More like clandestine skirmishes in the dead of the night. They raid our outlying lands and blame the denizens of Khogshk for their predations. We strike back and end up fighting their mercenaries and other hired thugs."
He looks back to Falen once again. "I will try to find out more. I do know Avitus was more of a moderate, which is why he was posted here. The Five thought well of him, especially Lady Pomander. I know that he and the ambassador of the Vinovian Protectorate hated each other, but I doubt that Tedric Curson would risk having Avitus assassinated. If he was found out, it would be just the excuse the Ticin Emperor needs to break the peace with both Novarum and the protectorate and try to reannex those lands for the empire."
"I understand your concern,"
Aust Thale said:
And as an afterthought, Falen adds a quick admonition, “Do me a favor and see if you can leave me out of your conversation with Casca. I don’t report to him, but I’d prefer he not recall my name or face one way or another.”
Oakfirst says with a nod and grin. "While I'm not sly, I will not mention your name."
"No, I'm not concerned about the details at this point. Unless you discover more names that are in league with him... really in league with him, not just conjecture."
"As you wish commander.
Do you have anything specific in mind for the candlemaker? Something you should find out immediately if we can discover it?
As for the doppelganger among staff, I don't believe it would still be there. I just recall that mayor's wife disappeared around the same time - that would indicate she was killed, replaced, framed and the perpetrator simply melded into the background."
He holds up Nathaniel's confession. "If you discover anything like that, then let me know right away. I'll have a couple of trusted Elites keep an eye on Sabela's eatery for now., but I want more evidence before having her arrested."
Oakfirst nods at Akos' second point. "Yes, it's unlikely there is still a doppelganger among the mayoral staff, but it is better to check again then be wrong later."
"He motions to both Custodio and Vinny. "To be clear. There is enough evidence to arrest this Kelik person. Get what you can rom him, but when you are done, bring him to the Palace in irons. I will have him held there until I can be sure I can have him transferred to the Dungeon in New City. Understood?"
Custodio replies with a salute.
Vinny nods a well.
Aust Thale said:
And with that, Falen quietly goes back to his pacing, mumbling quietly, “I always wanted to learn more about candle-making.” None of those around him are entirely sure if he is being earnest or snarky.
Tim notes that everyone seems eager to get going and that Falen is either very nervous or trying to break the tension.
"Good luck and be careful,"
Akos bows and turns to leave after receiving the answer or dismissal
"Good hunting with the praefectus."
Oakfirst replies. "Bluffside cannot afford to lose any of you."
To the Candle Shop:
You quickly find your way out of the Tribunal and through the streets of Old City. You bypass the Sublime Bazaar and head directly to the Golden Gate leading into the Golden Ward. The Elites guarding the gate let you pass without any difficulty. They were told that you would come this way, eventually. Once through the gate, you quickly turn to your left and make your way to the shop known as The Crossed Candles. It is very small shop that is flanked on both side by wide alleyways and four other shops. The shop is surrounded by lush grass, and handful of well-groomed trees, and four planter boxes with aromatic herbs growing in them.
A large weathered table sits on the shop's grassy plot, which is almost parklike. Two benches flank the old table and you can tell that it is likely used by the locals as a place for gatherings or even special events. Big Tim heads behind the shop to look to see if there is a back way out. He finds a single door that looks like it is probably locked.
At the front of the shop, a short 10-foot entryway leads onto a low wooden platform that leads to the front door, which is flanked by two glass windows. The window on the left is propped open and the heady smell of scented candles wafts out of it from inside. On the door is a symbol of two crossed candlesticks with lit blue and green candles in them. A sign next to the door reads: Welcome to The Crossed Candles.
Through the open window, you can hear a woman humming happily. Just before you can open the door, a patron steps out carrying a bundle of candles in her arms. "Thanks again, Miss Nelie." She is smiling.
The young noblewoman gasps in astonishment when she sees The Exemplars standing outside the shop. "Loremaster Akos," she says. "I'm glad to see you and your friends are well." She looks around and then then seems concerned. "Oh, please tell me that nothing has happened to Sir Tymbeck?"
She sighs. "I'm glad. Father wants to invite him to our next party... oh! You too, of course, loremaster. If you're free." She laughs. "Have you come to buy candles from Miss Nelie? Mr. Winton is quite the genius when it comes to lovely scents."
The woman curtsies to Akos. "I must go home now, or mother will be cross
." She laughs ant her own joke. "Please tell Sir Tymbeck that Lady Ricla de Rey sends warm greetings and that I hope he will be available for dinner in three nights time. I will have a messenger get in contact. Good day, loremaster."
With that the young noblewoman skips away happily. She forgot to close the shop's door and the scent of burning candles overwhelms your senses. It is euphoric but mundane.
"If there's a thieves' guild here, it is really well hidden,"
Custodio notes. He waits for Akos to take the lead inside.
Map of the area around the candle shop to be posted on the OOC thread.