ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign

I'm curious whether there's any RPG designed to capture the Downtown Abbey feel.

I won't give any info about Vekesh's fate. But I do hope you get a chance to perform that opera.


Wah, now you've stirred my interest even more!

I'm curious whether there's any RPG designed to capture the Downtown Abbey feel.
I hope there is. There has been a kickstarter for the Good Society RPG which is trying to capture the spirit of Jane Austen's regency era novels. It isn't out yet, but I backed it and am totally intrigued about the system. One would only need to include other house staff as PC options.

(For those who'd like to get more info: https://storybrewersroleplaying.com/good-society/)


Enter Fordren

Shortly after, we both receive an invitation to Vantrys' engagement party. So we both dress up in our finest evening gown and suit and take a carriage to the estate. Once we arrive there, we are both pretty surprised to see a fancy carriage parking there bearing the Fordren Industries crest, which indicates that a certain businessman could be present as well. After Fordren was absent during the engagement party of Cecilia and Goodson, we kind of dismissed the thought that he could show up.

“Now what would we do about him? I didn't even bring my weapon. I mean, no one usually needs a sword at an engagement party, right?” Auryn says hastily and somewhat nervously at the thought of going unarmed into the lion's den.

“Don't be afraid. First, I'm pretty sure you won't need to fight anyone today. Second, even if, I'm also sure you don't need a weapon to defend yourself. And third, I brought mine with me. It's a... habit.” Carlyle says calmly before offering Auryn his arm. “Shall we?”

As we enter the entrance and are guided towards the ball room, we realize that this is nothing short than a gathering of the who's who of Flint's industrial circles. It seems as if the whole party waited for our arrival as all eyes are instantly upon us as we approach the group gathered around the happy pair of Nathaniel Vantrys and Cecilia Fordren.

“Ah, our final guests! Welcome, Mr. Gabriel Carlyle and Ms. Auryn Galadin.”

Francis Fordren's strong and confident voice echoes through the room, granting us even more attention. He then shakes the hands of each of us with a really firm handshake and introduces us as close friends of the newly engaged.

Auryn quietly complains to Carlyle that Fordren's handshake could have easily crushed her hand and that she didn't expect such a firm grip from someone who rather resembles a slender intellectual than a brute.

“Oh that's not too unusual.” Carlyle explains. “Many businessmen actually train their 'crushing handshake' as it makes them seem more powerful and more confident.”

“Must be another strange risuri custom” Auryn sighs before elaborating that , where she comes from, such things like establishing hidden hierarchies are resolved via gestures and other formalities.

We then congratulate both Lord Vantrys and Cecilia and wish them good luck with the planning of their upcoming wedding. We engage in a bit of small-talk with the other guests and while Vantrys and Cecilia are keeping Vantrys' trusted friend occupied, Fordren approaches Auryn and asks her for a bit of “Ms. Galadin's” time. Auryn suppresses a quick laugh when he speaks that name, but she cautiously agrees even if she makes sure to stay in sight of everyone else.

To Auryn's surprise, Fordren asks her how she's been doing after their split-up eight years ago. When she returns that she's been faring more than fine, he surprises her a second time and asks her about her thoughts on what happened during her time on his estate and afterward. She eloquently returns the ball to him before answering the question and asks Fordren about his thoughts and views.

Without taking much of a breath, Fordren serenely and honestly tells her that he thought she was fascinating and impressive ever since the day she arrived on his island and that he really enjoyed every minute he had with her. He then confesses that he even reveled in the fact that she, the epitome of beauty, was his possession and his alone, before adding that he does regret the death of “the boy” and never meant to harm anyone in the process.

It takes a lot of Auryn's discipline to stay calm during his revelation. She then takes her turn while eyeing her opponent and all of his reactions closely. Auryn tells the story about being rescued from that cursed Yerasol island by a noble captain and his faithful crew who brought her to Flint. There, she sought refuge with these foreign people who welcomed her with open arms. She found both friends and allies in Risur and despite her need for revenge and her desire to act according to the rules of her people, she decided to stay peaceful for now.

For her reason why, Auryn explains that violence and hatred can easily create a maelstrom that consumes everyone, including the people she holds dear and who have sworn to protect her.

“This is what truly sets us apart. Even if I know that I am important for my people, I care for my friends and acquaintances and they care for me. Therefore, I will not put my desires above their well-being. But you... you only ever cared for yourself and acted on your desires no matter the consequences it would have on others.”

Fordren grins dimly and returns that she might have a point there. Still, he doesn't show any signs of regret or misery, even if he listens carefully.

“So, I decided to offer you a deal, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: Let the past be past. This doesn't mean I'll forget and neither that I'll ever forgive. But I will refrain from seeking vengeance. As long as you swear to respect me as the person I am and never try to possess me or any other eladrin ever again.”

Fordren raises his eyebrows in a quick surprise before stating that he would agree to her proposal. But he has one other condition that she should agree to: That she won't actively avoid him in public. Auryn replies that she'd have no reason to do so as long as he honors his part of the bargain.

“Then we have a deal. You are truly so much more fascinating and intriguing than I'd have ever thought, Auryn Galadin” he says gleefully as if their agreement was just the icing on the cake that is the engagement party of his niece.

(Yes, I did a lot of sense motives regarding Fordren's claims and promises and he seemed totally honest. Auryn had been looking for any signs of disrespect or dishonesty or hidden threats, but to her surprise, she found none. Had he made one mistake, especially if he'd called her Charusheela, she'd busted his good reputation by telling everyone what he did to her. With this outcome, she even has the tiniest spark of hope that Fordren might actually learn a thing or two from his experiences with the Risuri and her own example.

Regarding “the boy”, it refers to the one moment when Fordren shed a single tear in my backstory during Auryn's remembrance ceremony for Zahir. And again, means of address. Not only did Fordren call Auryn by a name he had chosen for her when she was his captive, he also used an informal address thus violating proper courtesy. He did address her formally during this scene and used her risuri name though.

Also, this whole dialogue was just perfect and Tiz played Fordren almost too well. I imagined it as two different kinds of predators circling each other, waiting for a mistake of their opponent. A mistake that never came.

Meanwhile, Carlyle spends some time with the happy pair of Lord Nathaniel Vantrys and Cecilia Fordren while always keeping a close eye on Auryn and Fordren.

“Seems like the uncle of my dear Cecilia has quite a taste for otherworldly beauty.” Vantrys comments on the scene after noticing Carlyle's continuous attention on the two. This immediately earns him rough pokes from Cecilia's elbows though as the young lady seems quite jealous.

“Ouch. I didn't... I think you know what I mean. It's not like she's just pretty. She... transcends every meaning of that word. If I were you, Gabriel Carlyle, I'd be cautious or else he might just snatch her away from you.”

Carlyle blinks a few times at this “friendly warning” of Vantrys and then smirks slightly.

“Oh, if you knew... besides, I doubt that Fordren will ever join the RHC as an agent, so the risk of him replacing me as Auryn's partner is close to zero. Though having him work as Delft's subordinate is quite a thought.”

(Yeah, Vantrys doesn't know about Auryn's past. She had planned to tell him after Goodson's demise to warn him more implicitly about Fordren, but didn't want to put a heavy weight on his relationship with Cecilia. And Carlyle would never tell anyone about it without her consent. Also, he didn't want to leave the impression that he had more than a professional but close relationship to his partner. The creed of discretion.)

When Auryn returns, Carlyle seems quite delighted that she managed to exorcise this ghost of hers without bloodshed or a scandal.

“Like I told you: You didn't need your weapon. And now that this is all over... I heard that there's quite a formidable dancer waiting to be asked for a dance. So.. shall we?”

Now this is an activity where Auryn doesn't need to be asked twice and so the two use the rest of the party to dance and enjoy the festivities. And as it turns out, Carlyle is quite a capable dancer.


A Ghost in the Shell

The next day, Delft awaits us in his office and states that the three of us were called to Slate immediately to meet up with the king and his Principal Minister and officially talk about the upcoming event and our role in all of this. As the chief inspector already got three tickets for the train, we pack our luggage and take the next train to the capital.

Once we arrive in Slate, we are surprised to see that we are to be carried to the palace in nothing short but the fancy and well-defended royal carriage. We mention that we didn't have this kind of treatment when we came here for our previous visits and guess that this might have something to do with being in the company of Flint's RHC chief inspector.

On our way to the palace, our driver suddenly gets shot without a warning by someone driving by in another carriage. Before anyone of us can react, we see that there is yet another carriage following us which is manned by people who are firing at us with a grappling hook. Which hits the outer wall of the carriage and seems to come with a built-in drill.

“They just... attacked the royal carriage?!” Delft shouts in disbelief. “Now you two, use any kind of lethal force you like, but bring these traitors down and let none escape.”

Carlyle doesn't need to think twice about Delft's orders, opens a window and teleports out of our carriage, right onto one of the carriages of our attackers. He draws his Kukris and beheads one of them before knocking the one operating an unknown mechanical device unconscious.

“Lethal force he said...” Carlyle says while looking down upon the – seriously frightened – third one of the attackers.

Auryn teleports onto the other carriage and utters a single, perfect note that keeps everyone except Carlyle (who is by now pretty used to her magic) frozen in awe.

(Planning around the fact that your partner has a really high will save and will most likely shake off all of your nasty effects is a bit unfair but totally worth it.)

Carlyle seizes the opportunity to get to Auryn's carriage (his third opponent just couldn't bear the thought of being gutted by this violent man who came out of nowhere) and bring the rest of them down. He beats them unconscious though as he guesses that the king will need answers on who'd attack his carriage.

Once the air seems clear, Delft opens the door of the royal carriage and gets out while cursing heavily. The very moment he steps out of the carriage, we hear a loud “poof” and the interior of the carriage is filled with poisonous gas. Seems like the drill also carried a gas bomb with it.

Auryn then rushes towards their shot driver and manages to barely save his life with a healing spell.
A quick examination of the attackers reveals the signature red scarves of the Kell guild members. We are really astonished to see them operating so far away from their home turf and hope that all of this will be clarified once they are subjected to a proper interrogation.

We help the driver who is still shocked by this near-death experience to get back to business and drive to Torfield Palace. There, we hand our prisoners to the local guards who bring them to the Palace's dungeons. We, on the other hand, are led towards a very officially looking conference room where we meet King Aodhan and Principal Minister Lee in a far more formal manner than usual. Both men hand us a dossier containing mainly several reports written by Delft regarding the Obscurati conspiracy.

We share a quick laugh at some of the nicknames Delft used for several suspects, like Princess Fairy Dust and the Duke of Slaughter and we can only guess what kind of strange names he might have invented for us.

(As we didn't have any clues about possible relations of the Obs with the Kells prior to the witchoil golems, Tiz had to delete some of the dossier's content. Kaja Stewart also didn't die and had no direct connection to the guild. Now we don't know whether we just didn't get the clues or whether Tiz lessened the involvement of the guild, but there we are.)

Lee explains that all of these reports indicate that there must be a second complex of the Obs hidden much deeper inside the Bleak Gate. This complex needs to be located as soon as possible, especially when the upcoming peace conference is set to take place in Flint. He also has reason to suspect that the deceased A.G. might have transferred his spirit into his golem and might therefore be still alive. While this is only a theory, it might not be the worst of ideas to re-build the golem and examine it.

Last but not least, King Aodhan brings up the subject of the Kell guild again. He agrees with our assessment that the guild should ideally be gone or at least diminished by the time the peace conference starts. Increasing the security level of the city to make it a safe place for all the attending guests of honor is among the top priorities. Which is why he'd like to hand the responsibility of taking care of Kell into our hands, people he knows he can trust and who are already beloved by the populace.

We gladly accept our new assignment even if we know that this will be a tough task. We discuss some possible scenarios with Delft, Lee and Aodhan, including the involvement of the Kell guild's newest enemy and competitor, the Familia. But while we are sure that the Familia won't pose a threat to the peace conference, we'd rather not arm a criminal organization to the teeth just to get rid of another one. Instead, we form a plan where we 'd recruit additional police officers from all of Risur to help out or local police during the anti-Kell-actions and the peace conference. This way, we might even kill two birds with one stone as we'll task our best police officers with fighting Kell while the foreign officers can keep an eye on the rest, especially those in the industrial areas we suspect to be corrupt and/or lazy.

Regarding the golem, we know that Serena Purdey from Team A already tried to reconstruct parts of it, but she didn't come too far because this golem is one hell of a difficult masterpiece. Now Auryn knows about one man whose company got pretty far in terms of intelligent automatons (Hi, B.E.A.R) and who could help them out, even if she'd only agree to this as a last resort for known reasons. Both King and Principal Minister are surprised to hear her suggesting Fordren as consultant. Lee responds that while this sounds like a solid plan, he'd rather give their royal technologist, Justin Rollins, a try. Auryn seems rather relieved by Lee's alternative and we agree to let Serena assist Rollins to her best abilities.

(Now I don't really know if Lee and Aodhan know that Fordren is “that man” Auryn told them about aboard the Coaltongue or if they were just surprised that a risuri agent suggested a danoran industrialist. But Price-Hill knows for sure and he also asked her to not kill Fordren during their audit.)

After we finish our talks, we get the first results of the interrogation of our prisoners. It seems as if they were able to read our message to Slate via Semaphor and planned an ambush in response. We find this troubling indeed and ask the local agents to send us any more news immediately to our office in Flint. Then we take the next best train back to Flint.

Just when we arrive in Delft's office to finish our plans for the next days, Carlyle bites his lip and reveals that we could have avoided the assassination attempt altogether and saved a lot of time he he just remembered that he has a teleport spell in his magical tome. Delft turns all red in response before uttering a long rant about certain agents who'd better keep track of all of their tricks and almost got their Chief Inspector killed.

“Well, maybe a certain Chief Inspector could have actually read our report or listened to his fiancee's tales about how she returned to Flint after being stranded in Sid Minos” Carlyle responds dryly while Auryn chuckles quietly.

“Enough of this nonsense! Out! Out, both of you! Who needs enemies when you got friends like these!?” Delft shouts while throwing various objects from his desk in our general direction.

When we return to our office, we are approached by a broadly grinning Carlao who got a small scoreboard in her hands containing what seems to be bets. “Now who was it this time? Auryn? Mr. Carlyle? And did he already threaten to fire you?” she asks before admitting that ever since Delft took Saxby's office the other agents started this statistic on their boss' sudden rages.

“I actually might have crossed a line. My humor isn't the best, you know?”

“We all know.” Carlao responds, obviously amused by Carlyle's statement.

Then, we try to get as much distance between ourselves and Delft as possible and decide to take a look at the destroyed golem of A.G. We find the golem and Serena in the RHC's evidence storeroom where our fellow agent is busy trying to make sense of some of the golem's innards. She says that she's pretty certain that she might restore the golem in time, but she doesn't know how long this may take and she also got a job to do with her team. We encourage her to continue her work and also mention that she'll get support by the royal technologist soon.

As time draws late, Carlyle excuses himself to go to his favorite spirits shop to buy a fine bottle of cognac. He returns to the RHC, heads to Delft's office and invites his boss to a glass or two as he'd like to apologize for his comment. He explains that he's still not used to all of this new magical abilities which developed after centuries of living a regular life. He promises to teleport him the next time he has to go visit the capital though.

Delft also apologizes for his outrage. He says that he's still trying to adapt to his new job and things get over his head from time to time. He never wanted to have that much responsibility in the first place, but had accepted the honor and now wants to serve the RHC and his teams to the best of his abilities. Then the two enjoy the really good drink and Carlyle leaves the bottle in Delft's capable hands.

One day later, we pick up Justin Rollins, royal technologist and proud owner of RIPPER V2.0, his loyal robot dog, from Flint station. When we ask Mr. Rollins about what happened to the original RIPPER, he explains that his first version got crushed by a malfunctioning generator and he had to rebuild V2.0 from the remains of V1.0. RIPPER seems to retain memories of this event as he's terribly afraid of heavy objects, he says. Still he's the best assistant a human could wish for.

We do some smalltalk with Rollins on our way to the RHC and it turns out that philanderer Romeo Casanunda is actually writing cheap romance novels in his free time. Rollins is a total fan and admits that he orders every new issue and secretly dreams of living the life of such a dashing scoundrel. Carlyle grins mischievously at this news and suggests to buy the complete series as his next literary investment. Maybe he'll even find tales about an exciting eladrin lady among the novels, he muses.

(seems like a certain someone has a mean streak...)

Once we arrive in the RHC tech lab, we introduce MR. Rollins to Serena Purdey and the two form quite a working team in no time. It only takes them a few hours and they manage to repair one arm of the golem which starts moving instantly and repeatedly tocks with a finger on a wooden desk. At first, we cannot make much sense of the rhythmic tock-tock-tock, but then Carlyle recognizes this as the same sort of code he learned during his service in the grand war.

“It seems like this gentleman is looking for a pen” he translates.

We are quite surprised by this request, but nonetheless get a pen and a sheet of paper for the one-armed golem who starts writing the moment we give him the wanted object. As Harkover Lee suspected, the dead man did manage to transfer his spirit into the golem the moment he ordered it to crush his human body's skull. The man introduces himself as Alexander Grappa, the Mind Maker and former owner of Grappa's Golem Workshop.

He says that he is part of a secret society and therefore bound to a strong geas which doesn't allow him to talk – or rather write – about any intricate detail of their plans. Still he manages to tell us that he is not and never was a friend of Leone Quintal. Regarding Kasvarina, he explains that her situation is far more complex than being a mere damsel in distress. He adds that while he cannot tell us much more, he can help us to find a way to the place we need to go once we find a way into the Bleak Gate. For this journey he does need a functioning body though which is why he asks us to go to his old workshop and get him some eyes.

As we still hope to find a proper body for Dr. Meredith, we ask Grappa whether he'd be able to repeat with another spirit what he did with his. He confirms this and agrees to work on another compatible body once the more pressing issues are handled. He does need the items from his workshop though.

We suspect that Grappa's Golem Workshop might be located in Parity Lake and so we decide to pay our good friend Sechim a visit and ask him whether he knows more about a skilled golem maker. We're really surprised to see two grand new factory halls next to Sechim's original factory and the young chemist greets us all with a broad smile on his lips. He invites us to a cup of coffee (he got a shiny new coffee machine and claims to have found the perfect recipe for making the best coffee in all of Flint) and thanks us for all of our tips. His collaboration with the humanist's society has been quite successful and he managed to gain some skillful new recruits. Regarding a golem workshop, he does remember such a workshop from his childhood and can lead us there.

Fortunately, the workshop hasn't been plundered yet and so we request to bring all of the movable material to the RHC tech lab immediately.

Only one day later, we see the final result of the combined effort of Rollins, Purdey and Grappa: A very gracefully built bronze golem which greets us thanks to a new voice module.

“Oh my, what a pleasure to finally see you! Alexander Grappa, at your service.” the golem says with a brassy voice and carefully shakes the hands of each of us.

Then he repeats his plea to find a way to the Bleak Gate as he feels like time is running short on whatever happens there. He'd really like to tell us by striking the keys to his keyboard which is connected to his voice emitter, but his arm won't move as soon as he's trying to talk more about the Obs.

As we believe that going via Macbannin's abandoned complex won't work, we can only think of the creature Elik, a strange being Gale told us about months ago. So we decide to write dear Hana another letter and ask her to introduce us to her acquaintance.


Okay, this is awesome. Love it!

So... Gale and a Tiefling agent in a romance? That's something Auryn would totally read about. And I can even see "our" Gale being more interested in girls than in boys after all she's been through in her life.

And if we ever finish this campaign, I'll have to get my hands on their story :)


Gale's tale

Session 25

We start our mission against the Kell Guild by requesting a capable partner from the Flinter police stations. As we are handed a list of candidates, we find one familiar name and decide to hire Miggs Maloney for the job. Regarding the 50 officers we'd like to use as strike force, we plan to recruit them from all offices in Flint, so we get wider variety of local knowledge and contacts.

As the king declares the attack on the royal carriage to be high treason committed by the Kell Guild, this means we have pretty free reigns in how to proceed from there. We use the next time to gather even more information from our various sources, including the police and our smaller criminal contacts. It turns out that the Kell-cancer has already spread very far in Flint and the Guild entertains at least smaller hideouts or enterprises in almost every district of the city. We find that the most remarkable ones are the “Black Rose” brothel, the “Mermaid” bath house, the “Sunset Beach” casino, the “Grandiose” fish market and the “Den of Thieves”.

For the higher-ups, we get the names Hammerton (who we already knew to be the contact of the fake reporter), “Knife” who's said to be a refined assassin, “Meat Hook” who's more like the opposite of refined, “Spinning Wheel”, a slender man, and the “Consultant” who's managing the Guild's finances. We also find archived reports about a man named “Fishing Schubert”, an ex-member who dropped out of the Guild some time ago and who's said to have found refuge in the Cloudwood.

We decide that we'd need even more information before we conduct our first strike against the Guild which is why we'll try to observe, capture and question a few of the lower ranks. Also, we try to establish contacts within the local newspapers as we plan to get them to publish articles about the accusation of high treason and the successes of our first raids. This way, we hope to get the people of Flint on our side and let them feel like everything's in good and capable hands. After all, the Kells have crossed a line and we'll do our best to show them the swift justice of the Flint officials.

So we head to the fish market and see that there are hawkers on the streets trying to sell red scarves. We can only guess that these people were tasked by the guild to either incite sympathy or additional disguises for their members and they also don't seem to be guild regulars. We observe the fish market for a while, find one easy target, capture him, question him in a side alley and then wipe his memory of the event. The man didn't know too much, but we learn that this market is meant to launder money and spread information.

Next, Carlyle suggests that we pay prosecutor Starke a visit as we'd like to get his office on board. After all, massive strikes against the Kells will most likely lead to a big number of charges against the guild's members. So we'd better warn the good man that there's an influx of work on the horizon.

When we tell Starke about our mission and our planned strikes against the Kells, Starke is immediately on board. After a while, it seems as if the mission is a pretty personal matter for the prosecutor. When Auryn asks him whether this might have anything to do with a certain event regarding his deceased wife, Starke cannot hold back his tears any longer and he vows to not repeat the very same mistakes he did when he was a much younger man.

“This time, we'll make them pay. We'll round them up and bring them to justice” Carlyle says and he promises Starke that once this is over, he'll finally be able to find peace.

We suggest that his office might produce a standard form for witnesses and drop-outs to minimalize the hurdles for those who'd like to support our effort. Last but not least, we ask Starke about his son's whereabouts. The prosecutor explains that Tyler is doing fine and that he's working on a career as a pianist. He thanks us again for this chance for a new start for both him and his son.

(What a great opportunity to continue the Starke story thread. That guy is one of my favorite "minor recurring characters" and we're glad to be of help to him with all the tragedies surrounding his life)

Then we head to Cloudwood to visit the artist's enclave and try to talk to one of Renard Woodman's contacts. We guess that, if Fishing Schubert fled here, he'd most likely have contacts within the bandits and these guys still owe us a favor for saving Morena. In the enclave, we find a half-elven dancer who's very sympathetic towards Auryn and who leads us to our friendly neighborhood raven druid. We explain our issues to druid and companion and he promises to search for Fishing Schubert and send us a raven should he have news for us.

(Considering the fact that the raven was eyeing Carlyle constantly, we're pretty sure that the avian won't pay him a visit though. Birdie surely doesn't want to be put in a closet again)

As we're already in Cloudwood and Auryn didn't get a response from Gale yet, she decides to take a detour and visit the elusive Eladrin's meeting point, hoping to find her or her letter by chance. Fortunately, Hana is currently relaxing by the riverside, so Auryn takes the opportunity to ask her about her message and the contents of Gale's last letter which she really couldn't wrap her head around.

(Auryn and Gale/Hana are sending each other messages in irregular intervals. She had naturally been “quiet” during her mission abroad and then messaged Gale about having a young student, Isobel, who didn't know too much about Elfaivar so she'd like to know whether her enclave and Gale's home would share the same system, traditions and beliefs)

Gale is quite surprised to see the two of us, but nonetheless says that, regarding her letter, she wasn't really born in an enclave. At least not the kind of enclave Auryn had in mind. She is a bit hesitant to tell Auryn that she was, in fact, born as a daughter of one of “the king's” wives. She then managed to flee from her home when she was a young woman. Auryn stares at Hana is disbelief at her revelation and though she had seen evidence pointing to one or two mad kings being still alive, she's still shocked to see that evidence confirmed by a living witness.

Auryn says that now she finally understands Hana's skepticism towards Elfaivar. The eladrin continues the tale of her restless journey through Elfaivar: After a while she finally found a place that welcomed her, an enclave named Sentosa, led by the matriarch Athryalla Valanar. She explains that she could finally find some rest there, living without the constant fear of being pursued by the king's agents. The people there treated her well, but there were aspects of the city that just felt wrong and reminded her of the place she fled from, including the institution of the Anata Paudha, a place where the enclave's citizens could satisfy their sexual desires.

Auryn says that there isn't much wrong with a place where younglings can share their first experiences or where men can signal that they are interested in a brief encounter. Hana stops her thought there and says that it is more like a kind of service performed by some women of the enclave and that every man of the enclave has the right to spend one night there, something that's more akin to a sanctified brothel. Now that hits Auryn like a nasty low blow and she cannot really believe that a matriarch would ever allow customs like this. She explains that no man shall ever be entitled to sleeping with a woman and that men who cannot control their urges shall be exiled from any true enclave as they'd violate the basis of respect and cooperation every enclave is built upon. Being with a woman, she says, is a privilege that has to be earned and given individually.

Hana lauds Auryn for her spirited speech and then asks her about her own home and views. Auryn tells her a bit about the customs of Pallita and then adds that she'd have to change quite a bit in her own enclave as she knows that most of the remaining veterans will die during her lifetime, thus normalizing the ratio of eladrin men and women. She herself might either be one of the last matriarchs to have multiple husbands or one of the first to marry only one. She'd also value the lives of her sons as much as those of her daughters as all children will be most precious in the times to come.

Hana seeems quite interested in Auryn's plans and philosophy. She says that maybe she could consider settling down in a place like hers one day. She adds that she'd love to meet young Isobel once her name has been cleared and she's free to enter the city of Flint again. Regarding Elik, she promises to keep looking for him and says that she'll send us her messenger canary should she get news on this matter.

Then the two women exchange their farewells and Auryn... suddenly realizes that she completely forgot Carlyle in the process. The latter looks utterly aghast at her as if he just witnessed something truly unreal. He says that he didn't understand a single word besides 'Elik' and adds that this would not be too relevant as the two women clearly needed some private time.

„But this... this was just embarassing. Besides, after I told you everything I... thought you'd stop keeping secrets from me.“ he says, utterly disappointed with the whole situation.

Auryn apologizes for not telling him earlier about having more to discuss with Gale than just Elik. She just forgot she didn't tell him about her correspondence with her pen friend and also never thought it'd be relevant. She didn't mean to exclude him from any important secret, even if there are obviously topics that are rather intimate and she's pretty sure that he wouldn't wish to discuss all of his private correspondence with Lord Vantrys either.

Regarding Gale, she just hoped to broaden her knowledge about elfaivaran traditions as she doesn't want to teach anything too niche to Isobel. She also thought her to be a good source of information regarding her own “problem“ as maybe other enclaves would have different views on marriage. She surely didn't expect Gale to tell such a disturbing story and she confesses that she's still feeling sick thinking about it.

Now Carlyle still doesn't understand why Auryn would be so devastated and so he asks her to maybe clear up that "mad kings" matter for him. Auryn slowly calms down a bit and explains that the mad kings were those Lords of Elfaivar who refused to accept the new circumstances after the Fall of Srasama. They started an all-out war against everyone who was lucky enough to have one or more women left insider their territory and tried to claim them as their wives at any cost. Auryn says that tales about the kings were told as horror stories when she was a child, and as a warning about what happens when leaders forsake both dignity and duty.

The kings turning out to be real and alive, as well as Gale's descriptions of an abominable institution in an enclave led by a matriarch are both facts that are hard to swallow for her. Facts that place serious doubts in her mind, thus weakening her faith in the possibility of a unified Elfaivar.

„What if everything they told me wasn't true at all? What if we and our way are a mere minority? Then what was I training, what was I fighting for?“ she asks, seeming unnaturally insecure.

Carlyle responds that she shouldn't draw too hasty conclusions. Instead, he suggests that she could finally take her days off and pay her old home a visit. After all, she'd be the best person to judge the situation in Elfaivar, being both an investigator and a canny diplomat. He then quickly adds that he could also warm up to the thought of teleporting her, so she won't have to take the long trip through the inner sea. Now that just sounds like a fine plan for Auryn.

(To be honest, the whole Gale affair escalated so much because of me making the mistake of actually forgetting to tell Carlyle about the visit despite the fact that I had originally planned to keep him up with Isobel's training. I felt a bit like in a hurry and then got excited to hear that she was truly at the riverside and... there we were.

Auryn didn't ask Gale about her time in Danor or about what happened after Sentosa yet because she knows how straining these topics can be. She was barely able to talk about Fordren a few years after her rescue and she'd been imprisoned for "only" about a year or two. Gale, on the other hand, had been a trophy wife for 100 years.

Also, she's really opinionated when it comes to the enclaves and her traditions. She knows that she has to change things and she adapted to risuri culture and customs to some degree, but she's still biased and sees everything through the lens of a matriarch's daughter – which led to a pretty funny exchange with Aodhan during their preparations for the conference. So, both the Kings and the Anata Paudha are perversions in her eyes which have no place in a modern Elfaivar.

And this was only one of the first incidents that started gnawing at her sanity during adventure 5.)


A night at the opera

As we hope to find the two Kell guildies who tried to abduct Morena to maybe get more info about the guild from them, we travel to the police station in the Nettles and ask for their whereabouts. We are told that the two men were brought to the prison ships after being found guilty, so we decide to visit these strange ships once more. Fortunately, Lord Vantrys agreed to inherit the ships from Guy Goodson (Leaving them in the hands of Fordren would have been dangerous for everyone involved) and so we find that the conditions there have improved a lot.

We find the two men sitting in a literacy course led by a tattooed docker lady. The teacher agrees to let their “students” leave for some questioning and so we take each of them aside to ask them questions about their Guild affiliations. We tell them both that they are fortunate ones indeed as they were imprisoned before their Guild was charged with high treason, so they might not necessarily end on the gallows, unlike their fellow brothers-in-crime. We promise them protection and a rather soft process should they decide to hand us crucial information, and so they decide to talk.

We get the info that Hammerton has been part of the Guild for quite a while, but the other lieutenants got exchanged after the grand Flint harbor massacre 13 months ago. Both talk about one lawyer who did a terrific job in defending the new recruits when they were charged and brought to court. We also get more information about the “Knife” as his name sounds like “Obers de somehing-with-ville” and that he also has a habit of visiting the Navras Opera house. “Meat Hook” on the other hand is more of a brute who likes to hang out in the Casa del Kell.

As we don't know whether one of these little birdies might get a change of mind during the next days and decide to give Kell a warning, we'd like to request that all of their mail lands on our office desks before delivery. The head warden of the prison ships would love o help us out in this regards, but he needs to get the okay from the Lord Judge first. So we head to the courthouse next.

There, we see that the Lord Judge is about to say goodbye to Mr. Morgan Cippiano who promise each other to go see the next grand Opera show in their usual loge. Cippiano bows his head as soon as he sees the two of us, but prefers to leave with this rather distant form of greeting. We tell the Judge about our suspicion that two imprisoned members of the Kell Guild might try to contact their criminal friends in the near future which is why we'd need to scan their mail in advance. The man sees no problem in our request and grants us the permission to get the mail delivered. We also ask to take a glimpse at archived files about the grand harbor massacre and the Judge sends us to the court archives.

There we find the name of the “excellent lawyer” of the Kell lieutenants, a man named Mr. Augst who's residing in North Shore. So one more on our list. As it is getting late this day, we decide to call it a day and resume our work on the next day.

The next morning, Auryn has a light hangover due to a rendezvous with a bottle of wine. When she's asked if everything's alright, she just says that she got a lot of strange news yesterday and couldn't really get enough sleep. The corresponding headache needs to be put aside though as we just got our first meeting with our brand new anti-Kell-strike force on the schedule.

We visit the 50 officers in their barracks in Pine Island where they are being stationed alongside their families. Auryn gives a short speech where she thanks the brave policemen and -women for their devotion to the cause and their courage to fight the cancer of the Kell Guild. She calls upon their secrecy, loyalty and comradeship so they might be finally able to do what no official of Flint has dared to do before: getting rid of the blot that is the Guild altogether. We then tell the officers that we already planned our first trike against the Casa del Kell on the next morning and we expect everyone to be ready by then. We'll take the day to collect some final information about the “fortress” and hand them the details of our plan later.

We head to the RHC and find that the collection of illusion scrolls we ordered a while ago just arrived in time. We plan to use them during our first strike to make it seem as if we got actually masses of police officers instead of a mere 50.

(we know that each of us might take on multiple Kell goonies, so we'd like to hide inside a police swarm illusion. Regarding the scrolls, we always request the “Harkover Lee special”, a specific kind of scroll developed by the Principal Minister that can be used by everyone even when they lack the Use Magic Device skill. I don't know whether these are canon and whether they are still made by Lee himself, but we find the thought of the king's best man scribing a fair amount of scrolls for our missions quite hilarious. Not that we use up too many scrolls though...)

As we managed to get last minute tickets for today's beran opera premiere in the Navras Opera house, we try to get our hands on the “Knife” next. Auryn seems to be quite excited at the prospect of visiting her favorite flinter building and her mood brightens up immediately once the two of us set a foot in the opera plaza. Carlyle remembers that he had the chance to be here when the Opera House was finally finished after almost two centuries of construction and he says that this building has been around as long as he himself, considering the fact that Navras must have left Elfaivar roughly at the same time as he left Crisillyir. He then, again, points out that Navras' Dirge of Vekesh had been truly impressive and a once-in-a-lifetime event, leaving Auryn both envious and incited.

We meet a couple of acquaintances and “other people we know” in the Opera's grand foyer, including Morgan Cippiano, accompanied by the Lord Judge of Flint, Lord Vantrys and Cecilia Fordren, as well as the Carlyle couple and Mr. Fordren. For once, we are glad that Morris Dawkins, being an opera enthusiast himself, skipped the event as we both really don't know what would happen if these two men met. Courtesy dictates that we greet and exchange a few words with each of them, so Auryn tucks her arm into Carlyle's before we wish everyone a pleasant evening. Fortunately, Fordren seems to be keen on making profitable investments in Ber and isn't menacing at all.

“Yeah, just try to introduce your lowly danoran industry standards and slavery-like working conditions to Ber. You're going to have great fun with the Executores Dola Liberta and their whips. They surely know how to get rid of tyrants...” she whispers once we are out of hearing range.

Carlyle chuckles a bit at her comment after being slightly worried about the fact that his partner obviously sought his support during their encounter with Fordren.

As we stride towards our loge, we find the two Starkes chatting with a man who matches the description of our wanted “Knife”. From their conversation we hear that the man is actually called Aubert de Chartville and not “Obers” (thanks goodness, as “Obers” is actually the austrian-german word for cream and would have led to a lot of silly wordplays) and the moment he realizes that young Tyler has quite the amount of knowledge about music, he invites both father and son to join him in his loge.

We, on the other hand, are rather unlucky, as we find that our loge neighbor is none other than Rock Rackus. Rock isn't interested in the opera at all as he's just here to “check the location for his next gig” and jokes about finding different ways to tear the whole building down. Needless to say that we both are rather appalled at both the prospect of having Rock perform in the opera house and his blasphemous thoughts. So Auryn jokes that Rock might want to perform in the most famous Scoundrel's Theater instead.

Carlyle takes the first half of the opera to closely watch the Starke/de Chartville loge, fearing that the Kell assassin might take a strike against the prosecutor. Meanwhile, Auryn tries to keep Rock from doing anything stupid or embarrassing.

During the first break, Auryn seizes the opportunity to greet the Starkes and introduce herself to Aubert de Chartville. They talk a bit about music, the opera and Tyler's progress in playing the piano. As the Starke son seems to be quite adapt at musical theory as well, she tells him about her own “Dirge” project and promises to hand him some copies of her drafts so he may add a comment or two. At first, Aubert is quite enthralled by the exchange of the two artists, leaving the impression that he's really an enthusiast and not just playing a role to get a job done.

But when Auryn mentions her “dear Mr. Carlyle” who'd surely love to join their chat, de Chartville suddenly realizes that the two of us must be these famous RHC agents that were all over the news. So he excuses himself and heads towards the gent's bathroom. We follow him shortly after and Carlyle catches him inside where he's just about to jump out of the window.

We are able to arrest the tiefling without causing too much ruckus and bring him to the RHC. Unfortunately, this means we also miss the second part of the opera show. Once we get him to a cell, Aubert starts trying to negotiate for his freedom. He offers us names and places, but he insists to be released and freed of all charges. All we offer him though is the prospect of some years in prison instead of a public execution for high treason. After all, this guy does love his job as a high class hitman and the comfort that comes with the corresponding payment far too much. So we don't come to an agreement and decide to let him rot in our cells for a while.

(We really tried, but the “Knife” insisted on an all-or-nothing deal: Either complete freedom or he'd prefer death and stay silent. Even tried to commit suicide at one point. What a weirdo.

On a second thought, Auryn was really disappointed that a refined man like de Chartville would talk so little and refused the chance to save his life as she found him quite charming and enjoyed talking about music with him. Carlyle on the other hand could appreciate his manners, but he totally loathed the rest of Chartville's character)
I've missed these updates.

For a few parts of ZEITGEIST, I wished I had more musical talent. I have no idea what the Dirge of Vekesh should have sounded like. I was just inspired by the fact that before the First Crusade, the pope gave a speech so inspirational that thousands of people were convinced to try to conquer the Holy Land. No one knows what he said, though. I wanted something of similar power, but in the opposite direction, rejecting religious zeal and destruction, and instead focusing on the long, challenging obligation of staying alive in the face of grief.


They'll continue, I promise :)

I've had some music courses in school, but I never moved past the basics either and dropped music for arts once our teacher started handing us scores we never heard before (it was - haha - Mozart's requiem) and asked us about the feelings the score tries to evoke. Without listening to it first, of course.

So what I'd envision for the Dirge is something that starts off really emotional and heart-wrenchingly sad (like Eowyn's Dirge from the Two Towers SEE), but then turns calmer, reaching its lowest point almost in silence. Then it starts from that point anew, growing short, soft melodies of comfort and encouragement, before ending on a high note of a new hope for the future.

Maybe a bit like Beethoven's 9th, but far less grandiose. Or like this version of the Chevaliers de Sangreal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r44vW1qfFEw (Gosh, Hans Zimmer could probably write a perfect Dirge)

You know, the Dirge was one of the points that got me really hooked up to playing an Eladrin. As much as I love these big, inspirational speeches (besides the various RL examples, LotR or GoT are full with them, and then there's always Marc Anthony...), they often exclusively result in an inspiration for sacrifice for the "greater good" - meaning their side of a conflict. And while "their side" in a fantasy setting is oftentimes literally the side of "good", separating good from bad is neigh impossible in the wars of the Victories. At least from my player's knowledge. Especially as they are religious conflicts spiced up with territorial interests. And now that you mentioned it, I can definitely see the parallels to the Crusades.

So having someone who actively breaks the cycle of hatred and violence was quite a revelation.

On a sidenote, when Tiz and I were discussing Vekesh before starting the campaign, I called Vekesh someone who embraced traditionally feminine-coded ideals like preservation and growth, compared to the violent, destructive (and in this case suicidial) option of revenge. He thought I was interpreting a bit too much, but I guess ending with a matriarchal society kind of felt natural.


The first strike

As the night falls on Flint, we decide to break into the office of Augst in North Shore to search for clues on his cases, work and whereabouts. Unfortunately, it seems like he (or someone else) cleaned the office properly after the lawyer went underground. We do find another office next to Augst's own though, which belongs to his ex-partner, Kurz. So we decide to peek into Kurz' files as well.

(Fun fact: Current Austrian chancellor Kurz also studied law. So kudos to whoever came up with this :D)

There we find hints that Kurz and Augst were, in fact, partners. At least for some time. We also find minor connections to the Kell guild which indicate that he might have profited off the Augst-Kell relationship, so it seems like we just found another guy to look after. Fortunately, Kurz' home is quite near, so we head there next in hope to get at least some info about the Guild from him.

Carlyle takes lead on this mission as he pays Kurz and his family a visit and disguises himself as a possible future client. As soon as he's alone with Kurz, he hints that he's actually a member of the Familia who are not quite happy with Kurz' support of Kell's guildies during their trials. Kurz is both shocked and thoroughly afraid at the thought of being caught between the two opposing sides of an underground war.

Before the horrified lawyer breaks down completely, we reveal that we are actually no gangsters, but RHC agents. Who still have reason to believe that Kurz and his family might be in serious danger of being “taken care of” by either side (even if it is more likely that the Kells wish to dispose their “baggage” than the Familia). Which is why we encourage him to help us out with info, so we may protect him and his family in return. Kurz doesn't need to be asked twice and he immediately fetches all of his remaining documents on the Kell cases which contain the identities of roughly 50 Kell henchmen. In return, he'd like to be brought to safety and be promised a new identity once this anti-Kell action is finished.

(Carlyle's double disguise was both really clever and utterly mean, albeit highly effective. I guess he really loves acting out different roles and he has a good understanding of how different kinds of characters work due to his centuries of staying in the background watching other people do their thing.)

We use the dark of the night to bring Kurz and his family safely to the RHC where the lawyer helps us sort his documents. He adds that he already thought that his involvement with criminal elements like the Guild might come back to him one day, so he's really happy that the RHC found him first. It turns out that he himself only made a bit of extra money, so we're free to help him out without any regret.

We share our newfound information with Margit and Delft and tease our colleague with the fact that her dearest Stover might have to work overtime again. This might not be too bad though as this might be the perfect excuse for her to go through our attack plan on the Casa again, which is scheduled for the next morning.

Carlyle feels the need to get some extra insight into the Casa's defenses, so he suggests that the two of us might take a peek inside to get more data on the defenders. So we both use invisibility spells to sneak around and take some first looks at possible dangers. To our shock, we find a lot of guild members armed with some of the finest Fordren Industries muskets which they must have stolen during their harbor raids. We remember that our police force is only armed with wooden shields and crossbows and know that we're in deep trouble.

So we return to the RHC to spice up our plan with some last-minute adjustments. Auryn fills a request form for the medallion of Urim which is sent to Slate via Semaphor, even if she doesn't know whether the object will arrive in time. (The wall of Stone turned out quite handy on Axis Island)

Meanwhile, Carlyle heads to Lord Vantrys' estate and asks to speak to the young lord as he has a really urgent assignment for the RHC which needs to be completed as soon as humanely possible. He explains the problematic equipment unbalance of the upcoming police raid to his former lord and asks him whether he can offer them at least some rudimentary steel shields and barricade material. Vantrys is a bit surprised as his factories usually don't produce defensive items, but rather common goods and raw steel, but he says he'll rally his best crew, pay them overtime and let them decide whether this job is possible.

As it turns out, treating your workers with respect pays off in the end and as soon as the foremen hear that this is not only an emergency for Lord Vantrys, but also a super secret job for the RHC and, more specifically, one of the city's most famous agents, they get their teams together and start working immediately. And although they do have to improvise a bit, the combined effort is enough to even out the field for the police officers. Carlyle thanks Lord Vantrys and all the workers in the name of both the RHC and Flint and he also promises that Delft surely won't forget such an outstanding effort.

“See, that's where all of your efforts to treat your employees with respect got you. Follow this path and you'll get the most loyal working force of all of Flint”, Carlyle says with a smile.

(Well, it will be hard to rival the morale of Sechim's folk, but Vantrys and Sechim are allies in their humanists league, so...)

The next morning, we equip our troops and arm them with Vantrys' shields. Then we explain our tactics: The police force will attack as a team, taking the main entrance while our Team and Team 1 each cast a grand illusion spell upon us to make us seem like two more 30 people troops. In addition, each team shall be accompanied by a B.E.A.R unit.

We strike the Casa del Kell hard and unprepared, but we still have to face heavy resistance. In the end, we have a couple of officers heavily wounded and lose two of them while we kill 19 guildies and arrest the rest of them, including Meat Hook, a giant of a blonde man from Drakr.

In addition, the local newspapers cover the charge of high treason against all members of the Kell guild after their “attempted regicide” due to their attack on the royal carriage. The large articles also contain statements from King Aodhan, the Principal Minister, prosecutor Starke and Slate Police and also ask the lawful citizens for their help by giving tips or registering as possible witnesses.

For us, we turn our attention towards our caught lieutenant, Meat Hook. The guy turns out to be far more approachable than Aubert and once Auryn casts her charms on him (he was interested in her before, but calling her “my best friend” helps quite a lot!), he opens up much more and casually tells us all about the Guild's hideouts and activities: A raid upon Warehouse 12, Machete Hills (another stronghold), the Collector (whose money laundering/storing shop is right behind the Danoran embassy), the transport ship Margarete Anna (which is carrying even more equipment), as well as details about the connections between Anne's thaumaturgy and cosmetics and the Black Rose brothel. The last point angers Auryn as Mr. Hook explains that the brothel sometimes orders “curiosities” from Anne's, like fake Eladrin or fey.

(So... they are like the Zeitgeist version of Paradim Dogwood. Great. Let's just hope that there will be no gigantic hurricane striking Flint during the peace council. The similarities are quite astonishing)

Carlyle is thoroughly impressed by Auryn's questioning techniques and asks her whether she can do something similar with the far more silent Aubert de Chartville. But she shakes her head and explains that the assassin won't tell her anything he wouldn't tell someone he'd call his friend.

“It is not in his nature to talk about such things, I fear. And while there is even stronger magic that could completely bend his will, I... I just cannot do it. Forcing my will upon others isn't my way of handling issues like these.” she says with quite an amount of hesitation.

(yeah, she hasn't learned any dominate spell yet. And if she eventually does change her mind, I guess it will be quite the life-changing experience. Being on the brink of losing herself to the will of someone else had quite the impact.
Now... where's Haddin when you need him?)

Last but not least we get Meat Hook to agree to be one of our crown witnesses in the upcoming trials. As long as he's going to die an honorable death in a duel or similar combat he'll be fine, he says.

As our first raid has been quite successful overall, we agree to get an article about our joint-venture published by tomorrow morning. In addition, Auryn and Delft prepare a short speech with a corresponding press conference and Q&A session for all citizens who are interested in our efforts.

As we are still looking for a way to get Dr. Meredith a new body, we pay Alexander Grappa a visit in our lab in the RHC basement. We tell him about the curious case of the archaeologist and ask him whether he could apply his method of joining spirit and machine to her as well. Grappa is quite happy to be able to move again and so he's eager to make himself useful. He agrees to start working on a second golem tomorrow, but he's surely going to need additional material. He's also not sure whether Dr. Meredith's spirit is compatible with his creations. He has his means to “measure” her and calculate the chances of success though.

Before we can finish our speech preparations, we receive a message from dear Morgan Cippiano: It seems as if he's inviting Mr. Carlyle and Auryn to a special fashion show in the Brave Club.
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A fashinoable parley

Session 26

Before we go to the Brave Club, we discuss our further actions against the Guild. We finish our speeches for the upcoming press conference and agree to let the public focus on Delft as he's head of the RHC and the executive trio of Mr. Carlyle, Ms. Auryn and Mr. Maloney. This way, we hope to draw the attention of the Kell guild away from the regular officers and the other RHC teams as well. We get Maloney on board as well, even if he's a bit hesitant to stay in the RHC after the day of the press conference. We fear that he'll be a priority target though and manage to convince him to stay safe though. After all, he's a senior officer and not in the best shape.

Auryn then grins and suggests that we could actually take advantage of the Guild's possible focus on our key figures by mentioning Carlyle's supreme disguise skills and discussing the possibility of a faked capture to get into one of their strongholds. Carlyle finds this a cunning plan, even if it is one that bears a high risk for those involved.

To test the feasibility of such a plan, we head to the two imprisoned Kell officers and ask them about their opinion on the RHC agents, more specifically Auryn and Carlyle. Both Knife and Meat Hook explain that they know we are dangerous agents, and that the Guild will most likely try to stop us. But none of them thinks that either of us has superhuman strength or something like that, so we decide to advance the plan further should the opportunity arise.

Then we realize it is time to go to the fashion show as neither of us wishes to make Don Cippiano wait too long. Auryn is a bit shocked at the advanced time and explains that she'll need to change clothes very hastily as she's seriously underdressed for a show like that. This earns her a good laugh from Carlyle.

“You don't really think that you'll be the one to show off your fashion, do you?” he asks her with amusement.

“Well, actually... isn't that the point of an event called fashion show? Everyone showing off their fashion and their family embroidery?” Auryn replies, slightly confused.

Carlyle chuckles again before slowly shaking his head and explaining the true background and procedure of a fashion show. Even if he is a bit confused himself that such an event would take place in the Brave Club. He explains that this exclusive gentleman's club has been one of the finest addresses in Flint for decades and fashion shows are usually an affair for rich and noble ladies. And gent's clubs and proper ladies usually don't get mixed up.

“Yeah, I realized a while ago that the gentlemen of Flint love to wear clothing that makes them stand out less and more uniform. At least compared to the ladies. As if they simply have no sense or need for looking good. You could really learn a thing or two from us Eladrin.” Auryn adds with a broad grin and a wink.

(A case of confusion for someone speaking elvish as mother tongue and who's coming from a culture where fashion shows are clearly not a thing. She does love her clothes though and would have proudly "shown them" in public.

She also still doesn't get why the suits all look so similar and why the gentlemen do carry so little decorum and wear such dark colors during festive events. A waste of handsome men, she thinks.)

We then head towards the mentioned Brave Club and find a large, colorful queue in front of the entrance. Carlyle shakes his head at all of this ruckus, claiming that the reputation of the club must have declined a lot since he last signed up for a membership application. Inside, we see that the designer Josephine Daho is currently showing off some rather experimental styles of suits on the runway. Carlyle isn't convinced at all, claiming that this so-called “modern fashion” isn't going to last and that a proper gentleman should stick to the established tailor shops anyway. Also, a gent's club should be a place of relaxation and this show is clearly too loud and shrill for his taste. Auryn is both amused and confused at her partner's reaction, but manages to enjoy the energetic atmosphere.

(Carlyle even said he'd consider withdrawing his application to the club should the niveau decline any further. Auryn used this to tease him that he's just bitter that they didn't invite him yet. But yeah, he's so much of a traditionalist that he'd probably mean it in all honesty.)

After a while, Morgan Cippiano approaches us, visibly happy that we accepted his invitation. He's far more enthusiastic about the show than either of us and then leads us to one of the club's balconies to turn the atmosphere from public to private. All in all, we are a bit surprised that Cippiano chose a place like this for the upcoming conversation, but get the impression that he consciously opted for some sort of neutral ground where we all could feel comfortable.

Cippiano congratulates us first on our successful strike against the Guild. He quickly adds his assumption that this first strike will be only the first of many others and then offers his help in making sure that even Kell himself doesn't get away. He explains that men like Kell, as brutal and simple as they may seem, also often have a rat's instinct and tend to get away while only their henchmen pay the proper price for their crimes. In addition, he could use make use of his godchildren who could lessen the strain on our limited police force.

But a help like this would come at a price: He asks nothing less than being able to replace Kell and his guildies with Familia members, using the resulting power vacuum as a means of propelling his organization to their proper place. He'd make sure to have rather clean and less violent business practices though. In addition, he'd like to get his hands on a certain Giovanni Algardi, also known as “The Carver”. That man who was formerly known as a wood sculptor got a rather infamous reputation after he assassinated quite a few noble Risuri and he's currently rotting in a cell in Slate.

We remember the name Algardi and also that he should have already been hung for his crimes had there not been political pressure from Crisillyir. Cippiano explains that he's trying to get his compatriot free, even if he swears he'll make sure that the man will never ever set foot on risuri soil again.

Carlyle replies that he's really grateful for Cippiano's offer, but he has to comment that this deal is rather uneven as the Familia does profit directly from the removal of Kell and therefore not offering much more than what's simply in their own interest. In addition, neither he nor Auryn or even Delft have the authority to free Algardi whose case has a lot of political baggage and could cost the King dearly. He explains that Aodhan cannot risk losing the support of the nobles, especially with the upcoming conference which is a wholly different political issue.

On top of that, Carlyle asks Cippiano about his plans once he hypothetically gets his hands on the Kell businesses. Under the premise of exaggerating much, he asks Cippiano how we can be sure that we're not simply replacing one rat with a weasel who's far more dangerous and intelligent. He'd really love to get insight into “benevolent Morgan Cippiano's” vision of the future, he says, before adding that at least the RHC agents are realists who know that there will always be criminal elements in cities like Flint.

Cippiano says that he understands Carlyle's doubts and also that he didn't really expect us to simply nod our heads in agreement. He promises to take the matters of the future businesses of the Familia into his own hands and to make sure that they won't harm any innocents. When Auryn mentions the “Black Rose”, Cippiano blinks hastily, seemingly surprised about the fact that the Eladrin knows about establishments like that. He explains that he'll make sure that the new Black Rose will end their trafficking practices and employ only local girls and boys.

We suggest that Cippiano could use his contacts to Crisillyir to open up formal or informal diplomatic channels to his home state. In addition, he could try to free risuri spies who are currently being imprisoned somewhere in his home country. But we remind him that these are merely suggestions, as we'd still have to discuss this matter with someone who has the necessary authority, which could possibly mean waiting for an audience with the king. All in all, we try to signal that we are quite interested in a deal with the Don, but cannot make any promises without proper permission. Cippiano seems to understand and adds that he has to get into contact with his friend's friend as well regarding the spies.

Before we bid him goodbye, Cippiano asks us, just out of sheer curiosity, what this mysterious Ashima-Shimtu might have told us on the island of Odiem. Now we are really surprised that he got word of that encounter, as Ottavia was the only one to know about the imprisoned demoness and she isn't the most talkative one. We try to play cool though and explain that this creature is both ancient and dangerous. And while she did have information about each of us, they were either private or trivial. And while she did offer more of her chatter, her price would have been simply too high. On top of that, we know from our very own experience that cryptic prophecies and visions can be easily misinterpreted and lead to disaster if acted upon too hastily.

(Yeah, we're definitely not going to tell him that Ashima-Shimtu prophecized that we'll doom this world...)

Cippiano replies that he does understand, especially if this comes from two risuri who even have a Skyseer tradition. He adds that he does have some info for us though, regarding Leone Quintal. He heard that there is a family called Quintal living in Vendricce who's owning a bit of land there. They may not be related at all, but it is also quite possible that our Steelomancer hails from there.

Last but not least, Auryn mentions that she currently has two new housemates (even if Cippiano most likely already knows about them) and asks him to have his godchildren look after “the young maiden” and ensure her safety without drawing too much attention.

“No harm shall ever befall the young lady, you have my word.” Cippiano assures her before we finally say goodbye to the Don.


Of Speeches, Raids and Subtenants

The next morning, the local news are full of reports about our successful strike against the Kell guild. We then give each our speeches to the public before answering questions. Delft starts the whole event by greeting the whole audience. He then starts with his part of the speech:

“My dear fellow citizens of Flint, we are really glad to see that so many chose to come here on this beautiful morning. Your interest in the future and your love for our magnificent city of Flint make me proud to be one of its many citizens. Many of you will have heard or read news about the extraordinary events that took place yesterday. An unprecedented alliance, formed by our very own police force and special agents of the RHC took out one of the centers of crime of the so-called 'Kell Guild'. And this first strike shall only be the beginning. For far too long has this cancer spread throughout our beautiful city, for far too long has it tried to root deeply into the hearts of our citizens where it spread fear and terror among those who could not defend themselves.

Thus it is my pleasure to be honored with the task of introducing the brave officers and agents who shall be the spearheads against the organized crime in our city and who are the appointed leaders of operation 'Fallen Curtain': For the RHC, they are Constables Auryn Galadin and Gabriel Carlyle, and for the police of Flint we got captain Miggs Maloney. They are the ones who will coordinate the brave men and women who will root out the Kell Guild once and for all.”

Auryn then steps forward and continues with her part:

“Some of you may now ask themselves why the RHC gets involved in matters that so are so obviously jobs for the police, like persecuting common criminals. Be sure that the upcoming missions are more than 'regular' fights against crime. Five days ago the Kell Guild attacked the royal carriage of King Aodhan in a ludicrous attempt to place themselves above our monarch and sovereign. And this is nothing short but high treason, endangering the safety of all of Risur. Such insolence and audacity crossed the red line of our beloved king by a far amount, which is why he decided to charge all members of the Kell Guild with high treason.

We, the police of Flint, and the RHC, heed the king's call for the safety of all citizens of Flint. As you have probably read this morning, we didn't waste any time and hit them both hard and precisely. Be assured that we will spare no effort to erase this stain from our beloved city and to make Flint finally safe again.”

Then it is Miggs who raises his voice:

“I've been a police officer in Flint for many years. Started as a small assistant officer in Bosun Strand and now I'm here, talking to the lot of you. I know far too many good people who lost someone they held dear to the damned Kells over the last months. There are others who are being blackmailed and live in so much fear that they don't dare to get help from the police. Or who even take another step and press charges against them because they fear consequences for themselves and their families.

And I told myself 'Damn, Miggs, this isn't right. It is THEM who should fear the consequences!'. I didn't become a police officer to twiddle my thumbs, I joined the police because I wanted to help people, to protect our citizens, our Flint. And now, by all the sleeping Titans, now they WILL feel the consequences of their misdeeds. I swear, we will turn every stone, arrest every single one of their henchmen and accomplices and then, finally, drag that fat rat Kell into the bright sunlight to put him to trial.

This I owe to my friends, my family and my city. And I'm proud to join forces with the RHC for these missions. I'm quite familiar with my two constable-colleagues. They saved the king's life, protected the Nettles and the High Skyseer and I'm pretty sure they did many more noble deeds for Risur. And while I'm also sure they could tell us some daring tales, they probably won't be allowed to speak about it without having their heads chewed off by the nice man right behind me. So, if there's someone who's able to keep a cool head in the face of danger, then it is these two constables.”

Finally, it is Carlyle's turn:

“Thank you so much, captain Maloney. I simply have to return the compliment and say that it is first and foremost Flint police with their dutiful officers, aided by the departments of Slate and other provinces that form the backbone of our operations. I've been living in Flint for centuries. And never before have I encountered such insolence by a criminal syndicate. Both RHC and police take the accusations of our king very seriously. High treason is the most serious crime in our country, so be assured that we won't be lenient towards those who commit it.

But despite this severity, I know that not everyone who's cooperating with the Kell Guild is doing so freely. In the recent past, we failed to listen to those members of our society who are among the weakest, who are easily exploited by criminals like those Guild members. And despite the fact that we'll use all available means to bring down the Kell Guild, our 'Operation Fallen Curtain' won't be a wild sledgehammer, but rather a precise scalpel. And to all those who might have turned towards the Guild, be that out of fear or simply because they desperately needed money for their families: Now is the time to sever these bonds. Help us, help the police and the RHC and be free of the charge of high treason. We can protect you and your loved ones. Let us show them that there are thresholds that must not be crossed. Let us do this together.”

(Fortunately I kept a record of the prepared speech. As a DM, I usually improvise speeches and Auryn's pep talk towards the officers during the previous session was improvised as well. But this one I prepared in advance, hence the detailed version)

After our speeches are finished, it is question time. We manage to satisfy both the general public and the reporters and try to encourage the people to take matters into their own hands by providing us with all information they got. We made sure to invite Thames and his docker friends as well and it seems like he's the only one who's a bit skeptical. From his experience, he says, the police tends to use situations like this to incarcerate everyone who's looking the tiniest bit suspicious which will make organizing protests and spontaneous gigs much more complicated.

Auryn takes Thames aside and tells him that we are pretty sure that the Dockers fell victim to Kell muggings and blackmailing as well. Once she's sure that there are neither prying eyes nor ears, she says that she knows about the cases of police brutality, which is why they hand-picked the officers tasked with their operation. In addition, the missing personnel will be filled with officers from Slate and the provinces who don't have to face problems should they find and report any kinds of corruption or misbehavior among the remaining officers of Flint.

“Two birds, one stone, Thames. But please, can you try to keep the inevitable protests against the Danorans civil and calm during the peace talks?”

Thames Grimsley seems to be satisfied by this explanation and promises to do his best. Auryn adds that she's still an ally of the Dockers and would never greenlight secret operations against the movement under the guise of strikes against organized crime. Still, she highly recommends that Thames encourages every Docker to sever their ties to Kell as she cannot protect them from the king's accusation.

After the session is finished, we organize a raid against the Margarete Anna in the afternoon where we confiscate weapons and drugs. Meanwhile, Team B, consisting of Serena, Carlao, Dima and Gaethan, take the cosmetics shop, gather evidences and shut the whole business down.

The next day, we send tax investigators to the “Grandiose” fish market in North Shore who demand to take their books for a proper examination. Needless to say that the market cannot continue while the investigation is in process.

(Never underestimate the power of taxes! This should put an end to the money laundering.)

Then we head to the Black Rose, shut this business down as well and free all those “employees” who have been transformed against their will of the transmutation magics.

(Good! The fewer people who have an interest in Eladrin or other “exotic delights”, the better)

Over the course of the day, Auryn is also busy handing out small boxes and presents to her friends and acquaintances. When she comes across Don Cippiano after the raid, she hands the surprised looking man an elfaivaran brass tea pot and a basket full of wine and sweets for his “godchildren”. He thanks her for the gifts and asks her for the reason behind her sudden generosity.

“Oh, today is my birthday and handing out gifts to those people who accompanied you and helped you during the last year is a tradition.” she explains with a warm smile.

Cippiano seems a bit embarrassed to have missed that date and apologizes sincerely for his lapse. She brushes the matter off and confesses that almost no one knows the day she way born or how old she actually is (she's turning 76, she says). The Don is a bit surprised to hear that Auryn is actually older than him and says that he's still not that used to elves or even fey.

We then meet again in Delft's office in the RHC HQ where we talk about our next steps for “Fallen Curtain”. First, we set up a message for the King where we mention gaining political support from unofficial channels in Crisillyir. The details of these deals need to be discussed confidentially though, so we request to be granted an audience as soon as possible.

During the coffee break, Auryn mentions to Carlyle that one of her current housemates, Andrei von Recklinghausen, may wish to move out soon and find a home for himself. Sleeping on the sofa might be fine for a while, she explains, but it is getting uncomfortable and he'd like to take this step towards independence, especially as he is about to take a job as a construction worker.

“A first step, but an important one.” she says, before adding that Isobel does wish to stay with her for an indefinite time as she has so much more to learn and needs the company of both a mentor and an emotional anchor.

“Not that you'd have anything against keeping your maid-servant. She's quite the comfortable work-force, isn't she?” Carlyle jokes, adding that Auryn must have gotten quite accustomed to her small court while teasing that she still doesn't know how to cook anything for herself beyond grilling fish and chopping fruit.

“I'd never use Isobel like that!” Auryn protests. “It is more of a t*it-for-tat. Besides, she'd be more like a lady's maid in your way of naming occupations.”

She then suggests that maybe Carlyle could rent one of his numerous, uninhabited rooms to Andrei so he'd have a landlord he already knows. He seems to be pretty confused at her suggestion and explains that these rooms are exactly the way they should be: ready for possible guests. Subtenants, on the other hands, are people, strangers, who'd be living with him permanently and he'd prefer to stay in calm, quiet solitude.

“Don't you think the house was built to be... inhabited? Instead of having half of it covered in sheets because you don't want the furniture to collect any dust? Right now, it is just a waste of precious space.”

“My house is fine the way it is.” Carlyle finishes their argument before going back to work.

(Speaking of guests, as far as Auryn knows, she was the first and last guest Carlyle had for years, so she had some pretty convincing arguments from her point of view. In her eyes, Carlyle simply doesn't want to have other people too close to him.

What she doesn't know is that Carlyle does have an irregularly visiting guest, another deva from his old unit who is still suffering from mental trauma and who's both a restless wanderer and terribly confused. Therefore, this guy needs the calm, quiet environment. He never appeared onscreen so far, but one never knows when he'll pay Carlyle a visit.)
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Fencing with words

In the evening, Auryn has invited a good bunch of her closest friends to her first real birthday party in Flint. The guests are a bit surprised when she declares that this party will at least be partially a traditional elfaivaran happening. She explains that in her culture, this day is celebrated by friends and family and acts as a means of saying “thank you” to all those who helped you grow stronger over the course of the last sun cycle. The guests, on the other hand, celebrate as a means of showing their joy about the celebrant's personal development and the of seeds his or her actions that have grown over time.
Before anyone can ask her about her motive, Auryn declares that she decided once and for all to stop hiding her eladrin heritage and to openly embrace who she is and has always been. She then introduces each of her guests to the others, including Milena and Morris Dawkins, Telluriel Rommath, Bronk (the minotaur bartender), Nymeia, Andrei, Isobel, Flying Spark, Margit and Gabriel Carlyle. She then first thanks her mother and her mother's husbands for being brought into this world and all the education they offered to her, before turning to Zahir and his ultimate sacrifice. She then thanks every single guest for their various deeds and hands them their personal gifts.

As soon as she's speaking about Isobel, the eladrin bursts into tears and Auryn takes a short break to hug and comfort her younger “sister”, saying that she, too, will grow so much stronger and be reunited with her mother and sisters soon. When she then turns to Carlyle, he is a bit surprised about his gift: a light blue silken shawl and a similar colored handkerchief, as he actually figured out her birthday date in advance and bought her a present, too. He then hands her a beautifully decorated box with a mithril-embroidered, magical scarf that can change its color according to its owner's will. Auryn thanks him a lot and says that it is really beautiful.

(I actually made a short list with all the different gifts, including fancy pants for Andrei that he loved very much. And Carlyle actually said that he'd love to have a light blue shawl once, so she remembered that as well. And usually, I'm really bad at figuring out presents, but these were pretty easy.)

She ends the official part of her party with a song in elvish and by announcing that she agreed to a ceasefire with Francis Fordren, even if she doesn't really know whether or not this truce will last. Over the course of the evening, she is also visited by a small group of Bravuras who sing her a traditional Crisillyiri birthday song and hand her a gigantic bouquet of exotic flowers. A short time later, two shorts can be heard from afar, signaling that these boys are ready to defend their community. Meanwhile, Nymeia is still looking languishingly at Carlyle and it seems as if her desired tea session still hasn't happened.

(To quote Tizbiz: Poor Nymeia. Auryn did her very best to this point to let her friend at least have a chance of meeting Carlyle in private, but he doesn't seem interested at all, not even for an alibi tea party. And Nymeia is simply too shy to approach him personally. Jeesh, this has been going on for a year!)

As time goes by, one after another of the party guests say goodbye until only Flying Spark, Carlyle and Isobel are left. The faerie dragon is quite happy with all the good food he ate today while Dr. Meredith is keen on getting to know more about elfaivaran festivities after her first taste. Sill, they are both tired and retreat to their garden home.

Auryn takes Carlyle aside to apologize again for the incident with Gale. She explains that she didn't intend to hurt him, but simply forgot about his presence when she got caught up in her own thoughts and worries about both the future of Elfaivar and her own. Carlyle brushes the matter off and says that he understands her need to orient herself as he's currently a bit lost himself. He explains that, right now, he's threading on completely unknown grounds and Auryn adds that she's feeling as if she's stumbling blindly through a swamp, knowing that she has to move forward but pretty unsure about the right way.

Carlyle gladly hops onto her train of thoughts and assures his colleague that, at least from his point of view, she isn't lost at all. He encourages her to learn from the past and never forget those who made sacrifices for her sake (like Zahir) and Auryn agrees that she'd learned her lesson from her encounter with the pirates. He then adds that she has grown so much over the last year in terms of confidence, courage and personal strength and he encourages her to go forward and find out who she truly wants to be. He understands that she might fear losing touch with her traditions, but Carlyle guesses that her mother will have enough reasons to be proud of her daughter should she eventually return to Elfaivar. And on top of that, he'd also come along with her and meet her family should she have nothing against it.

Auryn is pretty surprised to hear that and directly replies that she has absolutely nothing against his plan. She thanks him for his kind words and adds that he himself also changed quite a bit over the course of the year and that she'd never thought she'd call a deva her trusted friend. She then asks him whether he'd wish to solidify the bond between them in a way that no one, at least not in Elfaivar, could contest it. When Carlyle signals his interest, she tells him about the ancient ritual of Sahodar Mitra (meaning “honorary sibling”) that would symbolize a familial companionship between two people not related by blood. She explains that in modern enclaves, where many eladrin already have blood ties with one another, the ritual understandably lost its meaning. Still, no one would doubt the legitimacy of the Sahodar Mitra and would have to accept him as her companion.

Carlyle accepts her proposal and so she leads him towards one of her private rooms. There, they both first meditate on cushions while being subjected to strong but pleasant incense. Then they use a plant-based color to draw traditional (or, in Carlyle's case, rather intuitive) patterns on each other's forearms before marking each other's forehead. They then lay their foreheads against each other to symbolize the communion of their spirits. Lastly, each of them spills a drop of blood into a cup of “dream spirit” (which turns out to be more or less simple papaya spirit). They both drink from the cup to symbolize their communion of blood.

Auryn then takes Carlyle's hands and says: “Thus we are bound in spirit and blood. None shall sever this bond but the two of us. None shall have the right to set us apart. From this day on, you are my Sahomi, Gabriel. And I am yours.”

(Yeah, I'm a sucker for culture-building. My bad.

I imagined contemporary eladrin culture to be centered around growth, including personal growth and finding one's place in the society they're trying to rebuild. At least as a youth/young adult. Therefore, and because children are kind of rare and births are a reason to celebrate, I thought that they would definitely know birthday celebrations.

Regarding the Sahodar Mitra ritual, I shamelessly borrowed the idea of a blood brother, but made it less messy and more spiritual. Eladrin are people who live for centuries, so there could have reasonably been means to integrate someone who grew really close to you into your family-sphere. I also imagine that each family or region has their own patterns for painting their hands, feet and sometimes face. Similar to the family embroidery and calligraphy. Coincidentally, I also love traditional arabic and chinese/japanese calligraphy...)

The next morning, we get a message from Slate saying that king Aodhan requests our presence immediately. As Carlyle is by now pretty used to his newfound magical powers, he teleports the two of us directly to the teleport circle in Slate where we take a carriage to Torfield Palace. We are received in the usual way, which means skipping the official rooms and antechambers. This time, however, we find ourselves being led to the royal fencing hall where we are told to wait for his majesty.

When king Aodhan enters the hall after a while, he greets us while casually changes clothes and dons a light armor before drawing a short sword from a large weapon rack. He then turns to Auryn and asks her to be his sparring partner while they discuss Morgan Cippiano's offers. The eladrin is a bit confused at first as she isn't used to fencing with both words and swords at the same time. She then gets accustomed to Aodhan's rhythm after a while and manages to be an equal opponent while the king keeps rotating between different kinds of weapons and styles, including some that are most certainly not taught in royal fencing schools.

Meanwhile, we tell the king about Cippiano's proposal. When we express our worries of giving the Familia far too loose reins, he agrees and says that as noble as this organization may read on paper, he doesn't want to foster a beast he cannot control. He's quite enthusiastic about the idea of exchanging prisoners as he knows that there are a few spies that got caught during their missions in Crisillyir. Freeing Giovanni Algardi however wold be really difficult and we correctly assumed that he cannot risk the nobles' support over such a persona non grata.

Carlyle then has a brilliant idea: What if we claimed that Algardi himself was the source for a good deal of Cippiano's information about the Kell guild? Solving the matter by banishing the guy to Crisillyir under the premise of getting valuable information from him could satisfy the nobles, especially those who have industrial ties to Flint. King Aodhan agrees that this trick might actually work and he states that he'd really love to intensify the political exchange with Crisillyir. He tasks us with organizing a Crisillyiri representative who'd also attend to the peace talks as an observer. Auryn takes that bait while parrying one of Aodhan's attacks and jokes that his majesty would not need to look any further for an additional representative from Elfaivar.

After a while (and a couple of weapon changes more), the king seems both satisfied and exhausted. He thanks Auryn for the refreshing duel and hopes that she, unlike some of his subordinates, didn't hold back her true prowess. She returns that she'd never embarrass him like that as she knows that a risuri king is a figure of both mental and physical power. She didn't use fey magic on him though as she thought the duel would be about swordplay. When Aodhan mentions that he did jinx his blade quite a few times, Auryn says she didn't even realize he used magic, but maybe that's because she's so much infused with magic herself that it seemed natural to her.

(seems like these two have a good deal of respect for each other. For Auryn, holding back would have signaled the king that she'd thought he is weaker than her. And Aodhan being such a resourceful fighter who knows a lot of dirty tricks and doesn't stick to standard styles clearly impressed her)

Needless to say that the royal weapon masters and, to a smaller extend, even Carlyle, are a bit shocked at her reveal (they were no fan of his mundane fighting techniques either). Aodhan thanks her for the effort and mutters that he's maybe getting too old for this. Auryn doesn't think that he's out of shape yet and thanks him for the honor of crossing blades with such an astonishing and resourceful swordsman.

Before we bid the king goodbye, Auryn talks about a rather personal issue. While being the representative of Elfaivar has been more or less a joke, she does hope that Danor will learn from the example of Risur and put an end to slavery soon. Especially when it comes to abducting people from other countries to keep them as trophies or breeding stock. She adds that Elfaivar is trying to recuperate and grow and might even form a nation in the future. Which also means that they could start a war with Danor should they not release their people and she really doesn't want Risur to be caught in the middle of the conflict. Aodhan sighs and says he understands her point. But he does fear that Danor abolishing slavery is something that most likely won't happen during his lifetime, especially in times like these when they need cheap workforce for their industrial growth.

(Yeah, this was basically just musings about the future from an Eladrin's perspective. Which could mean centuries. Also, Auryn isn't quite sure about the political situation in Elfaivar as she only knows about the enclaves which are smaller clusters and which are not even close to forming a nation in the traditional sense. But she had to try planting this seed in Aodhan's mind and when she told him about the Traverses' “breeding stock”, she had been as graphic as the courtly situation allowed to convince him about the injustice of Danor's societal system)
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Friends of the Family and a royal Ninja

After leaving Torfield palace, we visit all the necessary offices to get more information about the imprisoned risuri spies, including the intel ops. We are told that there are currently three spies and one businessman who are being held in Alais Primos for different reasons. The spies are charged with minor civil complaints (as they don't have evidence for them being spies, but try to keep them from spying anyway) while the businessman had an affair with the wife of a clergy bishop.

(Seems like adultery is illegal in Crisillyir. Now Auryn thinks they are even weirder than before, dragging private matters like that to a courtroom)

We decide that the spies are far more valuable for Risur and add that this businessman probably knew what he signed up for. So we take the names of the three and return to Flint.

Back at home, we meet up with Don Cippiano at our usual table in the small cafe in Stray River. He gets us coffee and the crisillyiri version of a pizza and then carefully asks us about possible news on his proposals. We tell him about our talks with the King and Cippiano seems to be quite pleased at this quick reaction. Carlyle sees that as the perfect opportunity to now ask Cippiano for a gesture of his own good will. In addition, getting Algardi out of prison might take a while, but he can be sure that the King handles this procedure with a certain priority.

Once this is settled, we do a bit of small-talk with Mr. Cippiano during which he mentions his initial surprise to see an eladrin from Elfaivar among the ranks of the RHC. He casually asks Auryn whether she'd like to tell a bit about her journey from the far east to Risur as he himself has left his home for new and possibly brighter shores. Auryn agrees to share her tale, but insists to do so over a bottle of wine. She then tells the tale of her journey with Zahir, including her short stay in Vendricce and the ship the two boarded. She drinks quite a hearty gulp of the fine wine when she talks about the pirates who imprisoned her and who killed her cousin and the industrialist she was sold to (without mentioning any names, of course). She doesn't go into detail and quickly switches to the last Yerasol War and the risuri who freed her and brought her to Flint. Auryn adds that she owes them all very much and that she's very glad to have finally found humans who respected her and who had a need for her talents. Also, it is Risur, and especially Flint which allow a person to be who they truly are.

Cippiano seems pretty impressed at her tale and her resilience and calls her a brave woman worthy of much respect. He then explains that he also has a great love for Flint and its people. Cippiano says he does wish to build something he can be proud of and calls his new home a very harmonious and inspiring place, full of freedom and opportunity.

The next morning, we continue our strikes against the Kell guild. We head to the danoran embassy and tell Mr. LeBrix and their security team about the weasel in their neighborhood. Together, we arrest the “Collector” and confiscate his money and books. Carlyle makes sure to pay the security a small bonus for their additional work and they seem to appreciate his generosity. Coincidentally, we bump into a reporter from the “Flinter Horn” newspaper and give her a short interview about our progress (no details though, we are sworn to secrecy!).

As our recent actions pressed the Kells to act more defensively, we realize that we should take out one of their so-called “strongholds” next. To prevent nasty surprises, we plan to gather more information about the defense mechanisms and possible inhabitants of the Scoundrel's Theater and the other “fortresses”. We disguise ourselves as street rats before entering a dark alley where we turn invisible. Then we climb the walls of the theater and peek through its many windows. Carlyle's fine nose catches the familiar smell of witchoil and we spot a strange looking statue of king Kelland which is placed in a red circle on the stage of the theater. We also overhear a conversation of some Guild members who seem dissatisfied with their general situation. So we decide to use this chance to get our hands on a possibly more talkative scoundrel.

We capture the guy once he's alone and bring him to the RHC. There, we question him intensely and also hint that we may drop the charge of high treason should he act cooperatively. The man is quite glad for this offer and he tells us that Kell has already left the Theater in the company of 5 witchoil-golems. Which is why there is only one golem left inside, the one that is currently guarding the foyer. Regarding the statue, the man explains that this is actually a mimic (Delft gasps at this revelation) which is conditioned to bite anyone who enters the red circle. In addition, Hammerton left the Theater for the Suites, which is why we should probably enter this stronghold next. He also tells us a bit about the thugs who are currently residing in the theater.

The fact that Kell managed to leave the Theater without notice is pretty bad news for our operation, even if this might make a strike against the Guild's HQ more easy. As Hammerton and the Suites seem like a good ersatz target, and both the Suites and the Theater are in the same district, we return to Parity Lake for an assessment of their capability of relocating thug troops. To assess the chances of one stronghold getting support from the other one during a raid on either side, we decide to fake an attack on the suites by conjuring illusions of approaching B.E.A.R.s and police squads and supporting said attack with coordinated fireball artillery from the rooftops. As we expected, the news of the attack spread quickly and it takes only a bit of time till 20 thugs emerge from the Theater hustling towards the suites. We take the opportunity to take out the small squad.

Once we return to the RHC after our successful experiment, Delft already awaits us in his office as he got urgent news to share: It seems as if the royal safety consultants thought it to be a wise plan to let King Aodhan travel to Flint a day before his scheduled arrival. Carlyle is utterly shocked at this sudden revelation as this completely rains on our parade.

“Flint as it is now is a powderkeg of rabid thugs and Familia bravuras fighting each others in the harbor, nervous dockers waiting for any sign of repression as an excuse for massive protests and a still unfinished anti-Kell operation. What in the name of all Titans are these people thinking?!” he complains and neither Delft nor Auryn can really find a convincing counter-argument.

Auryn then says that she can understand the reason behind messing up the planned schedule after the attack on the royal carriage: using the unpredictability of Aodhan's travels as a layer of security. Still, they could have warned us in advance. And at least we know that our dear monarch is a seasoned warrior and no delicate flower sitting on a silken throne.

But even if we can put our worries about the King's safety aside, we still promised Aodhan results before the conference which means we are in a tight spot right now. So we need to take our operations to a higher level and launch another attack during the night. This time, we target Machete Hills as this stronghold is far off and far less guarded than the others. As we don't wish to risk any more police officers (who are most likely tired from their missions during the day), we decide to make this an RHC only affair.

(Tiz said he needed to push us a little as our progress against the Kells was pretty much ahead of the curve. To be honest, we had a pretty good headstart as we took Delft's hints quite seriously and got a lot of information in advance.

We also didn't really use the minigame mechanic. The general objectives were still there, but as we had plenty of time, have a love for making unusual plans and a habit of handling stuff personally, this would have broken the mechanic altogether. Our approach needed more game-time though)

Before we leave the HQ, we receive a message from our “friend Morgan” who asks us to share a glass of wine with him in a familiar atmosphere. He already arranged a carriage for the two of us, so we agree to take his offer. To our surprise, we are driven to a quite familiar warehouse (the one where we had our very first chat with the Don after the smuggling incident). We enter the warehouse and find three very frightened looking Risuri, each holding a glass of wine while sitting on a comfy chair. They are in the company of Morgan Cippiano who's sitting at a small, nearby table with three similar looking glasses and smiling generously.

“Ah, my honored friends. What a pleasure. As you see, I brought you a gift as a sign of my good will. The gentlemen are a bit shaken, but otherwise in an excellent condition. In addition, I managed to convince Bishop Rivaldo to act as an independent observer for Crisillyir during the upcoming peace conference.” Cippiano says with a gallant nod of his head before encouraging us to pick up a glass as well.

The Don then adds that he's heard that the dignitaries from Ber and Drakr are about to arrive soon which is why he'd offer to clear the harbor of its filthy inhabitants first. The three freed spies don't seem to understand what's going on at all and by the look on their faces, it almost seems as if they expect to be tortured or killed. Once Carlyle realizes this, he takes his glass, moves in front of the men and raises his glass for a toast.

“Gentlemen, welcome to Flint. Now let us drink to these fortunate events that led to the opportunity of your premature release. And then let's head directly to the RHC. Unless anyone of you'd prefer to sleep with the fishes tonight.”

Carlyle then winks at the baffled men and takes a relaxed sip from his glass.

(This scene was both brilliant and hilarious. Cippiano and Carlyle getting along so well and sharing their dry humor makes this relationship a very special one. And they have quite a few things in common.

It definitely helps that Cippiano is one of the favorite NPC of Carlyle's player)

We return to the RHC, as promised, with the three freed spies in tow. We ask them to stay there for the night before we gather our teams to infiltrate Machete Hills. After our initial attacks in Partiy Lake, this stronghold turns out to be pretty much forsaken compared to what we encountered in the Casa. We manage to arrest those unfortunate Kell Guild members who preferred to stay behind and confiscate roughly half a million in cash. Kell's “emergency money”, they explain. Unfortunately, there are no lieutenants present though.

After a pretty long day, we decide to finally get some rest before the King's arrival and head to our respective homes.

Carlyle doesn't need much sleep thanks to his magical ring and so he is already awake when he hears someone knocking at his door in the very early morning. He's pretty surprised to see a person concealed in a black cloak standing in front of his door. He's already bracing himself for an assault when said person removes the black cloak to reveal none else but King Aodhan, who's wearing pretty mundane traveling clothes and who wishes the wide-eyed Constable Carlyle a good morning.

“Your Majesty, I really didn't expect you to honor my humble home with your presence. Please, enter and make yourself comfortable.” Carlyle says after a graceful bow while still being unsure how or why he might have earned the honor of receiving such a high guest.

The King quickly explains his reason for his visit: He was pretty bored by his security personnel and their constant need to look after him, so he decided to pay one of his trusted Constables a visit in hope of getting away from the “babysitters”. He gladly accepts Carlyle's offer of tea and breakfast and then casually places his feet on one of Carlyle's pristine chairs, making himself “comfortable”, just as he had been asked. Needless to say that Carlyle is piqued as hell inside, but he doesn't dare to bat an eye at his majesty's not so fine, but rather mundane manners.

(I was laughing loudly when Aodhan placed his feet on Carlyle's chairs. After the whole scene where he priced the condition of his furniture and talked about the noble guests he could host, he kind of deserved this sort of backlash.

Of course, both of us know about Aodhan's past as a commoner and sailor, so I guess old habits die hard and he might have even been happy to lay down his courtly manners in private. Carlyle still has the habit of holding nobles in such a high regard despite his past experiences, so showing the king as normal guy makes a great contrast. And speaking of favorite NPC, our dear monarch is also pretty high on the list.

Ah and Carlyle's player almost expected a ninja attack when he saw the concealed Aodhan. Tiz surely loves ninjas and one of my previous characters – long, long time ago – got killed during such a nightly assassination)

To distract himself from the King's confusing behavior, Carlyle decides to chat with Aodhan about yesterday's events, especially the news from Cippiano and the scheduled arrival of Bishop Rivaldo. Aodhan thanks him for this direct report and then mentions that he has to leave as he's already being expected at the Aurum.

(Tiz actually misspoke “Aurum” and said “Auryn” which earned Aodhan a suspicious look from Carlyle at first. No, silly, she doesn't have an affair with her “matriarch”, even if she deems the king highly attractive despite his age)

Carlyle cannot let his majesty travel alone during these troubles times, so he insists to accompany him to the Aurum. He's pretty surprised when Aodhan climbs to the roof of Carlyle's house and asks him to follow. He then calls upon the Magic of the Land to veil them both in shadows and move swiftly from roof to roof.

(so maybe he is a ninja after all!)
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Thanks a lot! Honestly, I'm glad that there are people out there who enjoy reading my recaps despite the fact that my english is far from perfect and the german originals can be a sloppy mess.

I'm often tempted to peek into other groups' session recaps, but I fear there might be spoilers even if said groups are still playing previous books. There's a lot for me to read should we eventually finish ZEITGEIST ;)
Yeah, you'll kick yourself for missing the clues that Rock Rackus was dead the whole time. And for not realizing Delft is actually, himself, a mimic!


Carlyle, the Beast

Haha, even our wackier theories didn't go there. But I'm pretty convinced that Fordren Industries is trying to make an Iron Man suit. And I'm haven't even started about our theories regarding Fordren and Pemberton or Nicodemus...


Carlyle returns to Stray River shortly after and meets up with Auryn at her home. He tells her all about his encounter with Aodhan (she's pretty amused) before paying Cippiano's Cafe a visit. Mr. Cippiano is already present and explains that his godchildren took care of the harbor last night. He shares coffee and croissants with us before mentioning the name of his contact within the Kell guild, a guy named Norm. Unfortunately he's missing in action, but Cippiano is sure that he'll get news from Norm about Kell's hideout soon.

We thank Cippiano for his help and express our own efforts regarding Algardi. Before we leave for the RHC, the Don fetches a small box with an old armor scrap. He says that this is an old relic from his home and asks us to give this to King Aodhan as a present as he'll certainly recognize the style and know what to do with it. We take a closer look and guess that this scrap must have once been part of a shoulder guard in the possession of a risuri knight of high rank (such a high rank that he or she might have been among the candidates of a royal successor). Carlyle knows that there were Risuri wearing this kind of armor style who fought alongside the Crisillyiri during the Malice War, so he guesses that this might have been in the possession of someone who died back then. We both do a bit of brainstorming and muse that it might have belonged to Governor Stanfield in his first life as we know that he'd been from Risur before he got reincarnated as a deva.

Knowing that the King is in good hands and probably taking a tour through the Aurum right now, we prepare for yet another strike against the Kell Guild. We know that Hammerton is in the Suites and also that we need information from that guy, so the target is set pretty quickly. Regarding the tactic, Auryn brings up the fake capture again and mentions that Carlyle will surely know how to transform himself into one of Kell's lackeys.

Carlyle is, again, a bit hesitant, as this plan is pretty risky and would place great risk on the one who's playing captive. He adds that the Guild isn't exactly known for playing it nice on their prisoners or enemies, so the whole affair would at least be pretty messy for everyone involved. Auryn returns that she does know what she's talking about, which is why she doesn't want to place the risk on anyone but herself. She brings up the officers who already lost their lives and places her trust in Carlyle's ability to get them both out of trouble should things turn south.

As soon as Carlyle sees that his partner is dead serious about her plan, he reveals that he learned an even better transformation magic in the mean time. He takes Auryn, Margit and Delft to Meat Hook and apologizes for what he's going to do to the guy. He then casts a spell that turns himself into a perfect copy of Meat Hook and renders the original Hook featureless.

“Crazy stuff, eh? Now let's turn my sweetie into a convincing meat-pie” Carlyle-Hook says, before blinking heavily. “Sorry. The Hook has a filthy trap it seems.”

(Yeah, that spell includes mannerisms and speech patterns. Carlyle never tried this spell before, so IC, he was as surprised as the rest of the team)

Auryn is both irritated and bemused at this sudden change, but she nevertheless lets Carlyle put on a lot of modelling material and paint on her to make it seem as if the real Hook knocked her out after a short fight. We leave the RHC HQ while being invisible, then hide under large cloaks as we move to Parity Lake. There, we enter a forsaken alley and turn into Meat Hook and stone-cold Auryn.

Fortunately, Carlyle's spell works perfectly and so the Kell thugs have little doubt of Meat Hook's story where he escaped the RHC agents after his arrest, then went into hiding and waited for an opportunity to take revenge on one of the agents. He mumbles that Hammerton will surely want to press information from the agent which is why he came to the Suites. Also, the Casa is overrun with police, so he really doesn't know anywhere else to go.

The thugs lead him to a pretty comfortable room where he finds Hammerton and a few more guild members. As soon as the thugs leave, Hammerton, who had been staring into the flames of the fireplace, turns around and seems quite surprised by his new visitor.

“Didn't expect to ever see you again. Where the bloody hell have you been? Thought you'd rot in a cell or something like that. And who's this? Your new girlfriend?” Hammerton growls with a raspy voice before pointing at one of the sofas.

Carlyle-Hook places Auryn on one of the sofas before repeating his story. He adds that he kind of copied the RHC tactic of taking out head figures for interrogation and also as a means to blow their opponent's morale. He adds that these police guys were pretty stupid to begin with, as he really doesn't understand how anyone would make that tiny woman head of such an operation. Hammerton explains that this may have something to do with looking good in public and that they'll probably regret that decision this very moment. He also lauds Meat Hook for his clever plan (he didn't expect him to be so smart at all) and hopes that he didn't smash the constable's head too hard as he'd need answers first.

The Hook mumbles that “the elf's still warm and breathing, so good enough for some fun” even if he doesn't know how or when she'll wake up. Hammerton advices the Hook to be more careful next time. The men then talk a bit about Kell and Hammerton is pretty convinced that Kell will return pretty soon and bring his grand plan to fruition. He truly believes that the Kell Guild will win this war and it almost sounds as if Kell has some more nasty tricks up his sleeve. Regarding Augst and Spinning Wheel, they are most likely with Kell right now, so no need to worry.

Just when Meat Hook casually talks about maybe getting a more dangerous lieutenant next, and repeat his tried and tested tactic, Auryn “wakes up” yawning, wishing the two gentlemen a good morning. Before Hammerton can finish throwing his threats to stay down lest she wants to be beat up again, Carlyle-Hook throws a stun bomb at the surprised looking Guildies and readies his weapon.

“You don't understand, idiot. The lieutenant I've been talking about is you.”

Before Auryn can reach her concealed weapon and enter the fight, Carlyle-Hook knocks Hammerton out as well. She congratulates her partner on his quick reflexes and together they round up the rest of the (really few) Suites' inhabitants. Carlyle apologizes very clumsily for any rude words he might have used during his chat with Hammerton, but Auryn doesn't mind at all as she knows that “Carlyle” would never dare to say and mean such things.

Back in the RHC, we put Hammerton in one of our best cells and try to get some more information out of him. The lieutenant is still convinced that Kell will return and win the day. Oh and he'll get him out of prison soon, that's for sure. Hammerton seems surprised to see Meat Hook cooperating with the RHC though, so Carlyle-Hook tries to tell his fellow that cooperating is far better than the alternative: Being interrogated by “the beast Carlyle”. He explains that Auryn is the only one who's capable of controlling “that man's dark side” which is the only reason why he's still alive. Once Auryn confirms his story, Hammerton's focus shifts towards her which makes him even more susceptible for her charm spells.

He doesn't spill much more besides the locations of two additional Kell houses located in North Shore and Central. The charm works quite well, but Hammerton seems like a true believer and so he tries to convince “the lovely lady constable” that switching to Kell's side would be a neat idea. He explains that Kell is afraid of no one and basically has the whole city of Flint as his very own playground where he can do whatever pleases him. He also mentions important contacts to powerful “higher-ups”, but can tell us no names.

When we realize that we won't get anything out of him in this state, we leave him alone. Hammerton then turns towards the prison's torches, the sole sources of light.

We tell Delft about our results and this time it is Carlyle (still in Hook mode) who utters his frustration and disgust about the Kell Guild members. He says that de Chartville was pretty useless and Hammerton isn't much better. He then suggests in all hookish seriousness that we could cut off Aubert's head (that could make him at least a bit useful) and throw it at Hammerton to show the guy that “the Beast” is quite real. Delft is horrified at the mere mention of an execution without a proper process. After a few seconds of irritation, Carlyle-Hook adds that this must have sounded way off and he blames it all on his strange, new manners.

Carlyle finally decides to drop his spell and turns into his usual, restrained self. He calls his experiment successful, but still confusing and even a bit dangerous.

(To be honest, Carlyle's player did a perfect Meat Hook impression when he was under that spell. He changed his whole vocabulary and speech patterns which led to quite a few hilarious situations.

He sometimes creates PCs with unique ways of speaking – the most prominent one was a paladin with a russian accent – but he admits that this can be straining and requires quite an amount of concentration.

Auryn has a slight accent whenever she's not speaking elven as well, but that's harmless compared to said paladin.

Also, Carlyle was indeed frustrated with the seeming lack of progress in terms of finding Kell. He would have never shown that so drastically though.)

Being satisfied with the return of the real Carlyle, Delft goes on to discuss our new targets. Or rather, the police's and the other team's targets, as we are being called to a briefing with the King. As soon as Delft shows us the urgent message, we leave the remaining mission in his able hands and head to the Aurum building.

There, we are hailed by the King's personnel who quickly guide us to the new (and a bit improvised) royal mission room. This time, Aodhan is in the company of not only Principal Minister Lee, but also quite a lot of advisers. It seems like the King is on track with our progress against the Guild. Nonetheless, he's worried about the safety of the soon-to-arrive dignitaries, so he asks us to make sure they'll be safe. We agree that keeping our guests safe will be a top priority, which is why we'll make sure to have one RHC team guard them (and maybe show them a bit around).

In return, we recommend accepting rookie constable Flying Spark as an additional bodyguard. Carlyle takes great effort in praising the faerie dragon's qualities as both an invisible investigator and easy-to-disguise “pet”: In addition to being highly gifted in magical arts of all kind (especially combat spells), he's a true - albeit small - dragon, really popular with the ladies, absolutely loyal and likes being stroked under his chin.

To our surprise, Harkover Lee doesn't seem to be too happy about his new “rival” and we almost get the impression that he's being a bit jealous, especially after Carlyle's advertisement. Auryn observes this development gleefully and then teases the Principal Minister by saying that someone's clearly in need of being caressed and doesn't wish to lose too much attention.

Lee looks a bit surprised, then clears his throat and says “Careful, young lady. I suppose you know about my... reputation.”

Auryn backs off at Lee's reaction and turns more serious as she realizes that she might just have overstepped a boundary there. “I'm sorry, Principal Minister. I didn't mean to offend you. But you see, my matriarch is so grounded that my fey blood got the better of me. Besides that, your reputation doesn't bother me the slightest.”

Lee just shrugs in response and says that he took no offense, he was just irritated, that's all.

(Still I'm pretty sure they misunderstood each other. Auryn was hinting at the very close relationship of King and Principal Minister with Lee being jealous towards Sparky, while Lee might have taken her comment as a very clumsy attempt of flirtation aimed at himself, which is why he hinted at his reputation of being a ladykiller in his youth)

Just when we're about to turn towards our upcoming plans and events, we hear heavy steps approaching, accompanied by the sounds of some guards' futile attempts to stop the one making these steps. To our surprise, the man behind the steps turns out to be none else but Asrabey Varal. Before we can properly greet him, the dreadnaught exclaims that he has urgent news from the Unseen Court: It seems as if Ekossigan, one of the Fey Lords, has gone rogue and fled to Flint. He says no one knows exactly what's on that fey's mind, but he did leave a poem that might contain valuable hints on his whereabouts:

When spring returns to winter, / The cauldron births a spark.
The steel betrays the vintner, / The silver spurns the arc.
The fire-bride’s dissension: / Dismissed by green-adorned.
The wheel-woven dead man / Shall wake the cauldron-born.