Episode 66: Politics And Justice
Ara and Yuna closed on the vampire spawn to defend Magnus while Keen assisted Whisper and Sirlius in scaling the shaft. The vampire was quickly dispatched, and the party briefly debated returning to Elethi’s vault to see what else could be retrieved from the supply cache, before Keen, Whisper and Sirlius simply climbed back down the rope. Yuna reluctantly followed. Ara and Magnus remained in Elethi’s chambers; the former kept watch while the latter applied an Oil of Sharpness to his sword.
Back in the vault the adventurers made several attempts at retrieving items from the storage shelves, but each attempt was made more perilous by the lightning, fire and ice elemental barriers through which they needed to lunge. Keen did minor damage to his dancing rapier, Levani, by repeatedly running its tornado steel hilt through the plane of fire. While the enchantment was not destroyed the sword did noticeably list as it hovered.
After a few minutes, Ara was alarmed to see the floor of the shaft leading to the vault begin to rise up. He alerted his friends via the risidium binding telepathy, but those who could hear it at all ignored him in favour of more attempts at treasure. The floor continued to rise and settled into place with a resounding thud: the party was now split, with four of them trapped beneath Elethi’s chambers.
Magnus attempted to unlock the vault, repeating the process Whisper had used: saying “Sabetha” and pulling the lever just at the right time. Though he was pretty sure he did it correctly, in his exhausted state he failed to notice that the rotors on the puzzle lock had reset to random positions, and were no longer set to the combination matching Sabetha’s entry. Eight elongated steel spikes sprung out of the walls, impaling him.
The pain of this assault echoing through the psychic link got the party’s attention, and together they led Magnus through the steps to configure the puzzle lock using another name and combination from Madame Elethi’s ledger. This time he was successful, and the party climbed out of the vault.
Just as they did so, they were startled by the arrival of Bartok Brescht and members of his elite guard, who were apparently still on the grounds of the Finishing School, dealing with the aftermath of the massacre. Brescht seemed neither surprised nor pleased to see the party, whom in his mind were directly responsible for the deaths of some 47 peoples – minor members of the merchant families as well as several guards and kitchen staff – not to mention the murder of Madame Elethi herself. Though Sirlius tried to deny their involvement, Brescht quickly produced the guard who had seen Ara emerge from the tower’s underchambers the day before; she positively identified the monk.
Brescht dismissed her and the guards, and spoke quietly to the party, saying that the death of Madame Elethi was a powder keg ready to explode: for more than a century she had helped to keep a cold peace between the seven ruling families of Uman and its underworld, mostly by blackmailing all of them. She had knowledge of every player in the city that would ruin them if it were produced, and this knowledge had made her untouchable. Now that she was dead, if that knowledge were to pass to one of the families, or some new opportunist, it could ignite chaos in the city. Brescht would certainly throw the entire party in jail, try them for murder, execute them, and declare that all Elethi’s secrets died with them to prevent that from happening.
It was clear Brescht was torn. Justice demanded the party answer for the carnage in the tower. But knowing them to be working to stop whatever evil was covering the land, despite their obvious guilt the captain-general had little desire to endanger all of Telisar. He wondered if they could produce a patsy, someone to take Elethi’s place who would convincingly play the part of someone with power and knowledge but who could be trusted not to act. Elethi’s death could then be explained as internal politics; she was feared, but not loved, and the families would likely not press the matter. The party considered several options, from the guard deserter Reva Soonrop to Whibraxis, King of Whitebridge (and adolescent copper dragon). They even considered Sabetha, who was indebted to them for their assistance just an hour earlier.
None of the options seemed right and whether they install a patsy or Brescht tried the party openly for mass murder and sweep away the question of Elethi’s knowledge, both plans had the same problem: sooner or later someone would call the bluff, and unless Brescht had actual leverage to wield chaos would reign.
But a third option presented itself: the party still had Elethi’s journal. Bartok suggested that if they could break the code, gain access to her secrets, and learn whatever information she held on Uman’s political machine, the ruse would no longer be a ruse: Bartok could use the knowledge in the ledger to keep the other families in line. A patsy would not be necessary, and the party could go free – though probably not remain in Uman without protection.
Though there were few witnesses, word of Elethi’s death was bound to get out and once it did, Bartok would have to act. Two days, he said, was all he could wait, and perhaps not even that long: the party had to crack the code if they were to escape spending the rest of their lives in the Watch’s dungeons. He left to rejoin the guards above, and warned the party not to be spotted until they had something he could use.
The party used the by-now familiar route out of Elethi’s tower via the Ratways into the Duergar tunnels behind the city to escape, and emerged into the streets of the 4th Tier. Along the way they removed the Hat of True Frog from Reva and placed it on Magnus, who was in no state to be stealthy. The young guardsman was confused and frightened to be standing back inside the city walls, and visibly shaken when the party mentioned they had been speaking with Bartok Brescht. They explained they were going to leave the city quietly, without attracting attention, and to that end stripped Reva of his guard uniform, dressed him in simple cloths and a spare cloak, and Whisper found remnants of a disguise kit in her Bag of Hoarding to alter his appearance. She told him to play the part of her servant. When Reva tried on a frankly idiotic false voice, she instructed him not to speak. As they began to make their way through the city Reva whispered to Whisper, “If I do well, do you think Lord Magnus will let me stay?”
Treasure Hunting Rating: Shiny
High Fantasy Security System Status: Pokey
Guard-Captain’s Mood Level: Dropping
RP Rating: Awesome!