Zomaris:Khanate Rising/Chapter 20
<Iethloc> We re-join the people we've decided to call heroes after they've decided to make use of necromancy to interrogate someone they just brutally killed. After some preparation, Magwitch has Speak With Dead ready to cast as soon as the party can think up the four questions they get to ask the dead rakshasa. The corpse patiently awaits...
<Emilia> Emilia relays her first question to Magwitch, who repeats it to the corpse: "To the best of your understanding, where is the real Princess Ilki most likely to be at this time?"
<Iethloc> The rakshasa corpse begins...listing off multiple locations, seemingly random places in the lower reaches of Deladar's subterranean territory
<Iethloc> Not with "or's", but with "and's"
- Emilia sighs to herself. "Well, that sucks."
<Emilia> "Moving on..." Emilia mutters.
<Fir> "Maybe the king or people will be more open to paying for her resurrection than his partner's."
<Emilia> Emilia relays to Magwitch, who repeats: "By whose authority, desire, or command, did you operate?"
<Iethloc> "By the authority of Balwinder," the corpse says, with clear, fearful reverence even in death
<Iethloc> Emilia: That's weird. "Balwinder" is a somewhat-popular folk hero/villain (depending on your viewpoint) and king in some of the world's really, really old stories. Most people don't think he was real. Sometimes nobles compare each other to Balwinder when they think the other is particularly tyrannical and ferocious.
<Emilia> Emilia frowns. "That makes no sense whatsoever."
<Capn_Mercy> "Yet it must be the truth, right?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Which means either someone's impersonating him, or he's real after all."
<Emilia> Emilia tries to follow-up on this, asking Magwitch. "What other names and/or identities does Balwinder possess?"
<Iethloc> The corpse's answer is simple: "Sedni Echomantle."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy looks up at the others. "...who's that?"
<Emilia> "...the current Dowager Queen. We... have a problem."
<Emilia> Emilia relays to Magwitch: "What is Balwinder's goal?"
<Iethloc> "To secretly assume control of Deladar."
<Emilia> Emilia sighs. "That much was obvious. Ah well."
<Emilia> "Alright, let's clean this up and go see Hognem. Immediately."
<Capn_Mercy> "If Ball Winder is impersonating the queen...doesn't that mean he's *already* in control? Why even bother with replacing the heir?"
<Emilia> "She's not really the full Queen and won't have much authority once the King is feeling better. But I suspect that the reason the Princess was taken was as a precursor to taking the King."
<Emilia> "Nonetheless, we should tell someone that will understand where we got this information and might actually believe us."
<Capn_Mercy> "What about whatsisface who was just here?"
<Iethloc> As if on cue, there is a knock at the door. Banhilda's voice is on the other side. "Are you all still in there? The adventurers from the Khanate? The King has heard of what happened, and wanted an immediate audience with you."
<Emilia> Emilia breathes deeply. "Well, that's bad timing," she mutters to herself.
<Iethloc> "I've already delayed to give you...time there...so please hurry up," she adds.
<Emilia> Emilia opens the door and moves to follow Banhilda. "Okay, let's do this."
- Fir follows Emilia.
<Iethloc> There's Banhilda and a couple guards on the other side of the door, presumably ready to escort the party. "Oh, gods, that's a lot of blood," she says as she peers through the doorway
<Emilia> Magwitch mutters something about adding 'following the orders of a myth' to his list of charges.
<Iethloc> She averts her eyes. "Well...if you're ready, I have to take you to King Bradmost immediately," Banhilda says.
- Emilia nods. "Lead on, then," Emilia replies.
<Capn_Mercy> "Any idea where Hognem is, by any chance?"
<Iethloc> "He reported to the King, and as far as I know, he's still in the throne room. That is how the King heard of you."
<Emilia> "I feel better already," Emilia murmurs.
<Iethloc> The group escorts the party for probably an hour or more through twisty corridors (all alike? Well, there's plenty of signage) until they reach another painstakingly carved underground cavern, this time with a squat but ostentatiously decorated palace on the far side. There are guards everywhere, swords and axes and crossbows all at the ready, although most only give the party the barest glance before going back to their patrols. A
<Iethloc> portcullis on the front of the palace is raised, grinding and creaking, until the party passes through.
- Fir continues to note the lack of potted plants.
<Iethloc> Inside is even more ostentatious, maybe even gaudy (ugh, are those gold-framed paintings?!). The layout is pretty orderly, with the throne room straight ahead, several guard posts along the way. The throne room is...surprisingly bare. Guards with shiny arms and armor, yes, but not much else in the way of shininess. There are two thrones side-by-side, one empty and the other occupied by a large, muscular dwarf.
<Iethloc> Finally, here, in the throne room, are a few potted plants!
<Iethloc> A surprisingly humble crown sits atop the dwarf's head, and a pair of ominously humming handaxes hang from his belt. His skin is weirdly tanned, for a subterranean being. He has obviously recently shaved his hair and beard, perhaps as part of his mourning. His hazel eyes are almost bloodshot, and you can still see the faint streaks of fallen tears on his face. “You all. I know what happened. Ilki. The Rakshasa. Hognem told me
<Iethloc> . Tell me everything you know about this,” King Bradmost says.
- Fir grins at the plants and sidles over to chat with them about their light sources and the relative humidity in the room.
<Capn_Mercy> "We killed it, for starters."
<Iethloc> "I gathered," he says neutrally, eyes shooting at Hognem, who is practically hiding amongst the guards on the right side of the room.
<Capn_Mercy> "It, ah..." Mercy shows a surprising amount of tact...for her, anyway. "...it indicated that the real Ilki is most likely dead."
<Iethloc> King Bradmost's head dips a bit, a small sigh escaping. "I am, sadly, not surprised. What about the body?"
<Emilia> Emilia frowns. "We got the impression that it has been... separated." She listed the places the rakshasa gave her. "I'm guessing there's a part in all those places. Not sure if you can put her back together or not."
<Capn_Mercy> "Apparantly in pieces throughout the lower caverns."
<Emilia> Emilia carefully and subtly looks around for any sign of the dowager queen's presence as she talks.
<Iethloc> He clenches his fists. "Let us hope we can get at least one piece before the rakshasas dispose of them."
<Iethloc> "My husband's body was stolen before we could resurrect him. Perhaps the pieces are down there, as well," he adds.
<Fir> "Aww, so that's why," Fir says, waving bye to the potted plants in plantspeek, and rejoining the Animal People conversation.
<Capn_Mercy> "Yeah, well, you may have other priorities at the moment. You see...um, well...hmm. May I approach, Your...majesty? Your Highness?" She seems uncertain as to how one addresses a Dwarven royal.
<Emilia> Emilia frowns at Mercy, then decides to go ahead and let her handle this.
<Iethloc> King Bradmost takes a moment to look Mercy up and down, as if assessing a threat. "You may."
<Iethloc> Gerel smiles idly, as if oblivious to recent happenings
<Iethloc> Emilia: King Bradmost is most famous for his military service for Deladar while his mother was actually Queen. He is infamous for being brusque, even short-tempered, but also has notable respect for other warrior-type people. The nobles who get audiences with him the most are the ones who know the glory (and the horror) of the battlefield. As competent a King as he is (when not mourning), he is still a soldier at heart.
<Emilia> Emilia pauses for a second, then nods at Mercy. She whispers. "Yes, I think you're probably the best one to talk to him, here. Don't blow this."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy shoots Emilia a 'If you say so, but personally I think you must be out of your mind' glance, then approaches Bradmost. She fails to bow or kneel (which Emilia totally expected), instead simply leaning in closer, making sure to keep her hands in a non-theatening position. ".....the rakshasa indicated that it's been taking orders from Sedni Echomantle, who is also possibly an imposter. Does the name 'Balwinder' mean anything to you?"
<Iethloc> Bradmost inhales slowly through gritted teeth, practically hissing.
<Iethloc> "Hognem mentioned some ability one of you had that pierced the rakshasa's disguise," he says with a facsimile of calmness
<Iethloc> "Tell me everything about it."
<Fir> "Ger started yelling about evil."
<Emilia> "Uh, Narangerel is a Paladin. She can detect evil. Rakshasa are really evil," Emilia comments.
<Iethloc> Bradmost's eyes turn to Gerel. "A paladin? I'm not sure we've had one in Deladar for a long, long time. They are not common, I hear."
<Iethloc> "...the Khanate is seeking an alliance with Deladar, is it not?"
<Emilia> "It is."
- Fir looks around. "Didn't we have Kimmy with us, or something, for the alliance part?"
<Fir> [The King's not evil, right?] Fir says to Twinkle telepathically.
<Iethloc> "Kiyomi is resting right now, but the presence of the paladin changes things in your favor. If you put her into my service against the rakshasas, then I will give you your alliance."
<Emilia> Emilia shrugs. "It's her decision."
<Iethloc> Gerel blinks. "What's my decision?"
<Fir> "Just how many of these rakshasas have you had?"
<Emilia> Emilia sighs at Gerel. "Do you *want* to stay and help them find and eliminate rakshasa?"
<Fir> "They want you to find more of those evil things and kill them," Fir adds her own explanation to Ger.
<Iethloc> "I personally knew three people who turned out to be rakshasa impersonators," King Bradmost says.
<Iethloc> "Find evil things and kill them?! That's what I was born for!" Gerel announces
<Iethloc> "Well, more we need you to teach others how to do what you...supposedly do," King Bradmost says
<Iethloc> Bradmost sighs. "I have a feeling she will not be easy to work with."
<Emilia> "Her approach is... simple."
<Iethloc> "Well, if she agrees, she will stay in Deladar, until such a time as she trains another paladin, the rakshasas are defeated, or you bring another paladin who could train some of my people."
<Iethloc> Gerel looks around at the party. "Uh...you all okay with that?"
<Emilia> Emilia shrugs. "It's your decision."
- Fir hugs Gerel's leg. "I'll miss you, but you should do this if it'll make you happy."
<Iethloc> Gerel pats Fir. "It might. The evil things are evil. No complexity. No ambiguity. No politics. Just doing Good stuff."
<Iethloc> Gerel nods. "Yeah, it sounds good. I'll give it a try. Tell Nergui I'll miss her."
<Iethloc> King Bradmost joins in the nodding. "I will have my people write up the paperwork. The rest of you are also free to help against the rakshasas, or you may do whatever it was you were going to do before."
<Capn_Mercy> "Can't say I blame you there. Sometimes I too long for the simple days of killing things without all of this 'does it actually *need* killing' business."
<Capn_Mercy> "That depends. Is this a short term or long term problem to deal with?"
<Iethloc> "Hmm, we can probably root out the impersonators pretty quickly, I would hope, but it could take years to find out where the rakshasas' lair is."
<Fir> "You should make the rakshasas swallow something and then let them go. When you think they're back at their lair, do some Locate Objects to find them."
<Emilia> "...I'm not sure that works."
- Fir waves her leaves ambivalently, then remembers to use animal body language and shrugs.
<Capn_Mercy> "Why would it take so long to find their lair?"
<Iethloc> "You ever tried to walk through the old caverns below? There's centuries of tunnel work down there."
<Capn_Mercy> `"And magic doesn't work?"
<Iethloc> "They also have magic."
<Magwitch> "Surely you can train some riding bats with blindsense? That would make the scouting faster."
<Capn_Mercy> "You could...or maybe...hmmm..." Mercy seems to be running through solutions in her head. Clearly, she dislikes the idea of leaving monsters unkilled.
<Iethloc> Bradmost sighs. "Let us wrap things up here."
<Magwitch> "Could always contact some Eldritch Entity and pay them to go hunt down the rakshasas for you. Or some other kind of planar critter. Fighting fire with fire."
- Magwitch fires off a Detect Evil and pans about the room, looking particularly for strong auras of Really Evil like the rakshasa impersonator had.
<Iethloc> There are no such auras, at least not here.
<Magwitch> "Maybe the paladin should have (access to) the Lens Of Seeing Rakshasas Properly. If anyone is going to be targeted for replacement first by the rakshasas, it'll be the Paladin with Detect Evil. Just a suggestion."
<Iethloc> "Yes, I shall keep this in mind," King Bradmost says and nods
<Iethloc> With that, the party (minus Gerel) are ushered back to the inn to wait out the writing and signing of the copious amounts of paperwork involved in politics (ugh). After a couple days of chilling, the remaining members of the party are ready to head back out on the journey to the Khanate! You all make your way back through the rocky paths to the riverboat awaiting you. Thus the journey back begins, and thus...
<Iethloc> SESSION END
- Magwitch slaps its Bag Of Holding resoundingly. The bag is completely flat, but a few jugular veins and spinal cord protude Outside from the neck of the bag. "At least we got one!"
<Iethloc> Also going along with the party, incidentally, is a small force of Deladar soldiers to help defend the Khanate. They are, apparently, very stealthy. Now we can END SESSION