Inquiry

posted Dec 6, 2020, 10:30 AM by Stephen Pliska-Matyshak   [ updated Dec 19, 2020, 9:54 AM ]

Ethyltina 1st, Year Two of the Reign of High King Ran

The couple of weeks after New Year's Perri's training rises to a new level and Rael's obligations in court blossom, so Fennimore is left a bit to his own devices though he is requested by Mosifort to keep particularly sharp senses attuned to the streets of "The City." What Fennimore experiences is a sharp rise in xenophobic rhetoric and activities that ultimately culminate in the assassinations, or at least attempts, of a number of prominent non-humans. Several of these are members of The Iris: Majestic, Tartarus, and Tazdar in particular. Fennimore discovers the event in its aftermath while checking on his mother's cart in the market she shares with Majestic Wares, as there is a great deal of City Watch presence there when he arrives and one of the supposed assassins is dragged away from inside Majestic Wares at the time. This danger prompts a new lockdown of the castle and the calling up of members of Random's standing army to provide protection for the remaining non-humans, which keeps Perri, Rael and his mother among others sequestered. It is not determined with any certainty for a couple more weeks that halflings have not been targeted.
Rael Octavius: I am about ready to be able to go home.
Perri Elastime: Go home? You live at the castle.
Rael Octavius: I work at the castle.
Perri Elastime: What?
Mosifort (walking up to the group): Yes, you do.
Fennimore: M'Lord?
Rael Octavius nods.
Perri Elastime: Umm.
Rael Octavius: My lord.
Mosifort: I have a request of all of you.
Perri Elastime looks at Mosifort.
Perri Elastime: What do you want?
Mosifort smiles wanly.
Fennimore is happy he doesn't have to try to keep his friends away from another quest.
Perri Elastime: Can I help you with your fashion sense?
Mosifort (turning to Fennimore): I know how you dislike being in court, but you and your friends are the perfect fit for this assignment.
Fennimore: You are right there.
Rael Octavius looks at Mosifort curiously.
Perri Elastime looks at him nonplussed.
Mosifort: I am certain that there are at least one of the instigators of this tragedy within the court.
Rael Octavius: Without a doubt.
Fennimore: You mean the attacks?
Mosifort: Yes.
Fennimore thinks to himself, "Too bad they missed the bard."
Perri Elastime: Somebody is rotten to the core.
Mosifort: You are all uniquely qualified to assist my efforts in rooting out whoever is behind this.
Fennimore: They seem to be rather disorganized. If they were going after targets with their power, they should have tried to isolate them and then concentrated their attack. Spreading out the attack was a waste of resources.
Perri Elastime raises an eyebrow.
Mosifort: It was an act of terrorism. Well designed and carried out almost perfectly.
Rael Octavius: Almost?
Rael Octavius realizes what this group's value is to Mosifort.
Perri Elastime: The assassins were caught, at least a couple of them. Have you learned anything from them?
Fennimore looks at Rael.
Mosifort: One was interrogated by a couple of members of The Iris.
Mosifort: It revealed that a new Paragon has risen to guide Blue Midnight.
Fennimore: A "new" paragon?
Perri Elastime: Who is that?
Mosifort: A Paragon of Blue Midnight is someone that has been possessed and provides visions to the membership to commit the acts they are known for.
Perri Elastime: That is all your interrogators got?
Mosifort: My interrogators got nothing. This information was relayed to the City Watch by the members of The Iris I mentioned.
Mosifort: All other assassins died by their own devices or escaped.
Rael Octavius: Except for the captured one.
Fennimore: Figures The Iris couldn't get an interrogation right.
Perri Elastime: Yes, I heard there was a captured one.
Mosifort: This one died as well due to the machinations of The Paragon, I believe.
Fennimore: Oh, I wonder if one of The Iris is a member of Blue Midnight. That would be a perfect cover to tie up loose ends.
Perri Elastime: Before questioning?
Mosifort: They got far more than I expected. Apparently, the one called Eris is quite intimidating.
Fennimore remembers her as bumbling through their first encounter.
Perri Elastime: So what is it that you are looking for from us?
Mosifort: Ironically, it was this Eris that was the mole within The Iris. She was enchanted by Blue Midnight and it took the High King's Archmage quite the effort to remove the enchantments.
Fennimore: Interesting.
Rael Octavius (turns to Perri): We are non-humans that spend time in court and Lord High Inquisitor Mosifort would like us to draw out the traitor.
Mosifort nods and smiles.
Mosifort: Very astute, Master Octavius.
Fennimore: Bait for the wolves.
Fennimore: But, they haven't attacked any halflings. Yet, anyway.
Perri Elastime: We have to be bait, but not draw blood in court? Hardly seems like a good idea.
Mosifort: Perri's training should be able to protect you if things go awry. Clearly, Rael and Fennimore have comparable powers of observation.
Perri Elastime: If they draw blood first, can I stick them with the pointy end of my sword?
Fennimore: Stick them first and ask forgiveness later.
Perri Elastime: You told me when I first got here that I couldn't stick them first.
Fennimore: That was Rael and that was before we knew they were planning to stick you.
Mosifort: You can not be the aggressors. I need you to make observations and find clues as to who is involved. They will be very sly about their intentions and activities.
Rael Octavius: They also may be enchanted as Eris was and might not even know they are involved.
Fennimore: So, wait until Perri is poisoned, stabbed, or kidnapped?
Mosifort: This is why you are being asked as a group. Support and watch each other as you go.
Perri Elastime: I prefer not to be poisoned stabbed, or kidnapped.
Fennimore: Right.
Perri Elastime: Can I make nasty, eviscerating comments to those that deserve them?
Mosifort: Perri and Rael will be targeted, unfortunately. We know halflings are apparently counted among humans.
Fennimore: Do you have any suspicions of who we should investigate first?
Mosifort: I do not want to influence your actions with my suspicions.
Mosifort: My focus needs to be protecting Dae'Kliesys at this point. I am sure Rael can appreciate this.
Rael Octavius: I can.
Fennimore: Then, I suppose we should get dressed for court.
Perri Elastime: So where do you live?
Perri Elastime: Unless it is a party, I'm wearing my armor.
Mosifort: You are entitled to be armed and armored as The Bladesinger.
Mosifort: Fennimore will be acting as an operative, observing but not interacting with anyone unless necessary.
Perri Elastime: That's good. He doesn't like attention.
Fennimore: Neither seen nor heard.
Mosifort: Rael will go about his usual routines.
Mosifort: High King Ran is opening the castle again, so be prepared for a crowd.
Fennimore: Oh goody, a target-rich environment.
Perri Elastime: I guess that means I go metaphorically poke people.
Mosifort: Perri and Rael will attract quite a bit of attention, especially from well-wishers seeing that you were unharmed during the event.
Rael Octavius: Some sincere and some sycophantic.
Mosifort nods.
Perri Elastime: So we are looking for insincere well-wishers?
Mosifort: That is the challenge. Blue Midnight are masters of deception, so it will be very hard to tell.
Rael Octavius: We should prepare. It will be a busy, stressful time until we find them.
Perri Elastime: How was Eris discovered to be an agent of the Blue Midnight?
Mosifort: Apparently, the elf bard attempted to dispel an enchantment he suspected due to her behavior. It backfired in a manner of speaking and revealed her affiliation. It triggered a violent reaction.
Fennimore: Hmph, the bard triggered a violent reaction. Who woulda guessed?
Rael Octavius: Fennimore is not fond of Majestic.
Mosifort: I am aware.
Fennimore shrugs.
Mosifort: I will let you get to it, then.
Perri Elastime: So, I guess we should prepare.
Full court resumes later that day and it is quite busy and crowded.
Fennimore: You have any magic spells that might out help here? Something to protect yourself or help us communicate in a crowd?
Rael Octavius: I have some tricks up my sleeves.
Perri Elastime: I have blur and mirror images but no method of communication.
Rael Octavius forms a bond with Perri to protect each other.
Rael Octavius: We will need to stay relatively close to one another, Perri.
Fennimore: We should all stay close, but I'll try to blend into the crowd.
Rael Octavius: I'll provide you some guidance when we are close enough on occasion.
Perri Elastime: I'll stay close. I have no idea what you do all day.
Fennimore: I get the feeling today isn't going to be a normal day at court.
Rael Octavius: Play the Fey court guest that you are. Some might take offense, but most will understand.
Rael Octavius: If someone takes a slight personally, that may be a clue to follow up upon.
Perri Elastime: The fey court is much less formal and stilted. More free and easy. Unless you are in the Winter Court, which I remember as terrifying.
Rael Octavius: The floor is fairly chaotic. It is only those that are addressing the High King that need to be formal.
Rael Octavius: I spend a lot of time smoothing out the rougher edges.
Fennimore: Are we ready? Lead the way, Sir Octavius.
Perri Elastime: I tell you what. you smooth, I will ruffle.
Rael Octavius smiles.
Rael Octavius: So be it.
Fennimore: Sounds like fun.
Perri Elastime grins.
Rael Octavius leads the way onto the floor of the court that is bustling with activity.
Fennimore follows a short distance behind and tries to blend into the crowd.
Rael and Perri are immediately approached as Mosifort mentioned.
Fennimore disappears completely into the throngs of courtiers.
Perri Elastime looks around for someone with interesting baubles.
Rael is approached very warmly by courtier after courtier. Perri is also greeted continuously, but with more reserve.
Fennimore watches the ebb and flow of the crowd, looking for anyone paying extra attention to Rael or Perri.
Rael Octavius happily interacts and networks with the courtiers, knowing most of them.
Perri Elastime: What a beautiful pin you have.
Some of the more martially inclined nobles gravitate toward Perri as she is The Bladesinger and they feel or what to feel some affinity with her.
Fennimore is tempted to try to pocket a bauble but keeps his hands to himself.
Hermina Faustus: Oh, thank you, Madame Bladesinger. Your feather is quite fetching.
Perri Elastime will make small talk about weapons, armor, and innuendo.
Crispus Horatius: I understand you have been training with the High King. That must be amazing.
Perri Elastime: Yes, if I cosh the King, it is the highlight of my day.
Crispus Horatius raises an eyebrow and then smiles.
Fennimore listens in on Perri's conversations. Paying attention to whether anyone is lying or spills a clue to their Blue intentions.
Perri Elastime: Most of the time, I just get decorated with bruises.
Those around Perri laugh tentatively hoping she is intending to be humorous.
Rael Octavius is very distracted by the initial contact with so many nobles and courtiers.
Perri senses a number of the courtiers and nobles are a bit uncomfortable around her, but nothing unexpected or untoward.
Fennimore does not get much in the way of deceit among those that initially approach the pair.
The xenophobia is still quite prevalent according to the talk when the castle opens again. While some of the troops are sent back to Nightfield, there is still quite a military presence remaining.
Both Rael and Perri also detect several of the courtiers and nobles have xenophobic leanings based on their conversations.
These folk are superficially polite to the elven pair but seem aloof and separate from them to other parts of the floor quickly.
Perri Elastime moves towards one that is retreating.
Antonius Blasius: Oh, hello again. What may I do for you?
Perri Elastime: Have you had the opportunity to spar?
Fennimore watches Perri's movements from a distance, looking to see if anyone else is watching Perri.
Antonius Blasius: Spar? Me? I am a lover, not a fighter.
Perri Elastime: Are you now?
Perri Elastime smiles wickedly.
Fennimore does not notice any extra attention to Perri.
Fennimore moves closer to Perri so he can overhear the conversation.
Antonius Blasius shows just a hint of what might be terror.
Perri Elastime: Me? I take lovers, but not many.
Antonius Blasius (looking noticeably uncomfortable): Oh.
Perri Elastime: Since you're a lover and not a fighter shall, I take you?
Fennimore tries to not snicker at the courtier's discomfort.
Antonius Blasius: I...I am already...taken. If you will excuse me, please.
Perri Elastime: There is always room for one more, but flee if you must. The repartee was lacking.
Antonius Blasius makes their way off of the floor of the court.
Rael Octavius: That was amusing.
Perri Elastime: It was different.
Fennimore: Worth following?
Rael Octavius: I have never seen them squirm like that before.
Perri Elastime: Seems awfully fearful.
Rael Octavius: They are outwardly bigotted and probably not worth our attention.
Perri Elastime: Let's find some more.
Perri Elastime wanders back through the throng.
Fennimore follows her at a distance, continuing his watchfulness.
Rael Octavius: That was Antonius Blasius; kind of a cad, actually.
Perri Elastime: But he's taken, poor girl.
Perri Elastime: Perhaps he prefers men.
Rael Octavius: He is usually a much better liar.
Perri Elastime: He did a good imitation of a worm on a hook.
Balbina Iulius approaches.
Rael Octavius smiles.
Rael Octavius: Hello, Lady Iulius.
Perri Elastime: Well, good afternoon.
Balbina Iulius: Greetings, Master Octavius.
Balbina Iulius (indicating Perri): Is this your bodyguard?
Perri Elastime: Oh, it is always good to see and be seen.
Rael Octavius smirks and waits for Perri to react.
Perri Elastime: I am not a "this," Lady Iulius.
Perri Elastime: I am Perri.
Balbina Iulius smiles, unphased.
Perri Elastime smiles back.
Balbina Iulius: Oh, of course. You are the High King's protege.
Perri Elastime: Student anyway.
Balbina Iulius: Humility? From a Fey? How refreshing.
Perri Elastime: Not only refreshing but startling as well.
Balbina Iulius: She is able to spar with words as well as with a blade. How fun.
Fennimore moves closer to listen in on the latest verbal skirmish.
Rael Octavius remains silent.
Perri Elastime: Speak to me as if I am not there again and we will see how barbaric I may be.
Caelius Casian approaches Rael.
Balbina Iulius: Of course, Lady Elastime. That is enough barbarism.
Perri Elastime: Perhaps your manners could use some polishing.
Balbina Iulius twitters with laughter.
Fennimore smiles as Perri's barbs poke Lady Iulius.
Caelius Casian: Master Octavius, it is so good to see you are safe and your mother is as well.
Balbina Iulius: It is all good fun, Lady Elastime. I am sure Rael mentioned that we cannot take anything said on this floor personally.
Rael Octavius (trying to remain focused on Perri's conversation): Greetings, Master Casian. Thank you.
Perri Elastime: Oh, we cannot take anything said on this floor at face value, but personally? It is all personal.
Balbina Iulius frowns.
Perri Elastime: Oh, it is always better just to rip the bandage off.
Balbina Iulius: The Summer Court, or is it The Winter Court that is so brutal?
Perri Elastime: Thinking of a vacation?
Perri Elastime realizes Lady Iulius is trying to push buttons, very Fey court like.
Perri Elastime: I don't think you are up to such a challenge.
Caelius Casian: Rael? It's me. You seem distracted.
Rael Octavius glances at Caelius quickly and returns his attention to Balbina and Perri.
Perri Elastime: I think you would be tied in knots bending over to please everyone.
Balbina Iulius: Are you up to the challenge of this court? I am skeptical.
Perri Elastime: This court is easy. No blood.
Caelius Casian grabs Rael's shoulder.
Perri Elastime: Only metaphorical evisceration not actual evisceration.
Caelius Casian: You need to relax. What is up with you? Balbina is harmless.
Perri Elastime: Watches closely.
Rael Octavius turns to Caelius.
Rael Octavius: You are right. How are you, my friend.
Perri Elastime draws a finger down Balbina's cheek.
Perri Elastime: Here, you can't be carved up for decoration.
Balbina Iulius suddenly shudders and becomes pale.
Perri Elastime steps back and bumps Rael.
Rael Octavius turns back to Perri.
Perri Elastime: Have a nice day, Balbina.
Balbina Iulius stands stunned for a moment and then shakes it off and backs away, looking for another conversation.
Rael Octavius: You have an amazing effect on courtiers, Perri. You should spend more time in court.
Perri Elastime: When you've been helpless at the hands of monsters, the posers have no power.
Rael Octavius: I have not seen Balbina back off like that since she tangled with Mosifort.
Fennimore watches Bulbina retreat.
Fennimore: Tangled with Mosifort?
Rael Octavius: Fortunately, I am certain she is not our target.
Perri Elastime: She should come to me for fashion advice.
Fennimore also feels that Balbina is guilty of only being a bitch.
Caelius Casian stands there with his arms crossed.
Caelius Casian: What is with you today, Rael?
Perri Elastime: Rael, who is this?
Rael Octavius: Apologies, Cael. I have not been this stressed before. The assassinations, you know?
Perri Elastime: Rael, you are really off your game.
Perri Elastime: I apologize. I was so busy poking the beast, I didn't see you come up. Perri Elastime.
Fennimore and Perri are pretty sure Rael just lied.
Perri Elastime: And you are?
Caelius Casian: A pleasure, Lady Elastime. I am Caelius Casian.
Caelius Casian turns back to Rael.
Perri Elastime: Oh, that has a nice ring to it. It rather trips off the tongue.
Caelius Casian: Are you feeling alright?
Rael Octavius: I am fine.
Fennimore starts studying Rael intently.
Perri Elastime glances about to try and spot Fenn.
Rael Octavius glares at Caelius.
Fennimore moves closer to Perri's side.
Fennimore gets the feeling Rael is being adversely affected by something. He really seems out of sorts all of a sudden.
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: Rael is a little off.
Perri Elastime -> Fennimore: I agree.
Fennimore: Rael, I think we need to take our leave of court.
Caelius Casian: Hmm. Rael, you should take a moment.
Perri Elastime pats Rael's cheek.
Perri Elastime: Hey, elf boy, I'm hungry. We need to go.
Fennimore catches a glimpse of a distortion in the air near Rael for just a moment.
Caelius Casian: Really, Rael. Listen to Lady Elastime.
Rael Octavius starts at Perri's touch.
Rael Octavius looks wide-eyed at Perri for a moment.
Rael Octavius: Right. Let us go.
Perri Elastime: Come on, you.
Caelius Casian: Take care, friend. I will be here.
Fennimore eyes Caelius suspiciously.
Perri Elastime: It was great meeting you.
Caelius Casian: You, as well.
Caelius Casian smiles.
Perri Elastime winks.
Rael Octavius begins to move back off the floor the way they originally entered.
Perri Elastime moves off with Rael.
Caelius Casian smiles wider.
Fennimore: Rael, are you feeling better?
Rael Octavius shakes his head to clear it.
Fennimore: We almost lost you there for a minute.
Rael Octavius: There is something in there that is not right.
Fennimore: How well do you know Caelius?
Rael Octavius: Cael and I have been working the court since we were kids. He is a friend.
Fennimore: He seemed to take pleasure in your discomfort.
Perri Elastime: Hmm.
Rael Octavius: I went in there with a spell to detect the presence of magic. It was alright at first, but then I detected something really disturbing.
Perri Elastime: A friend that you didn't introduce? Odd.
Perri Elastime: What did you sense?
Rael Octavius: It was a combination of necromancy and some kind of enchantment, but very twisted.
Perri Elastime: When?
Based on Perri's knowledge of the arcane and Rael's description, it sounds familiar. Winter Court familiar, kind of.
Rael Octavius: While you were sparring with Balbina.
Perri Elastime: This reminds me of the Winter Court.
Rael Octavius: Before Cael arrived, though.
Perri Elastime: She did try to poke me with the fey courts.
Fennimore: Balbina was just trying to get your goat. She didn't seem Blue about it.
Rael Octavius: As Fenn says, she was just being Balbina.
Perri Elastime: The Fey like to hang out unseen. I wonder if there is some suggesting going on.
Fennimore: Something else was going on while you were trading jabs. Rael, you were nearly possessed or something.
Fennimore: I saw a glimmer of something in the air near, Rael. Just for a second and it was gone.
Rael Octavius: It was the magic I detected. It was really disturbing. If I was not part elf, I think it would have been worse.
Perri Elastime: I know. I bumped you to try to refocus you.
Fennimore: But, why would the Fey be perpetrating xenophobia among the humans?
Rael Octavius: I am not sure it is the Fey. They do not use necromancy like that, I believe.
Perri Elastime: The Winter Court enjoys stirring up trouble.
Fennimore: Rael, do you know any necromancers among the courtiers?
Fennimore: This feels like some powerful mojo; hard to keep that hidden for long.
Rael Octavius: There are a couple who dabble, but nothing as powerful as I felt.
Perri Elastime: Is there a place where we can watch court from a distance and not be seen?
Rael Octavius: I think the twist I mentioned was illusion magic.
Rael Octavius: That still does not rule out the Fey, but the necromancy was abhorrent.
Rael Octavius: More so than usual, anyway.
Perri Elastime: Perhaps one of the courtiers is not what he or she seems.
Perri Elastime: Someone or something taking the appearance of someone known.
Rael Octavius: Well, Mosifort suspects an adherent of Blue Midnight. What I felt could definitely be the Paragon.
Mosifort approaches the group again, a look of concern in his eyes.
Rael Octavius turns to Mosifort.
Perri Elastime turns and looks.
Rael Octavius: I think I felt the presence of the Paragon.
Mosifort: There was a definite change in demeanor on the floor after you exited.
Perri Elastime: What do you mean?
Mosifort: There was an odd shift in the chatter. It felt...darker.
Perri Elastime: Not relief we were gone, more menacing?
Mosifort: Not relief. More like satisfying.
Mosifort: The Archmage and The High King are preparing a ritual to drive away whatever presence is in there.
Fennimore: Perri was trading barbs with Lady Iulius when Rael was nearly overcome by magic.
Mosifort: Probably a coincidence. Lady Iulius is a consummate busy-body.
Mosifort: Cael seemed concerned. He watched you all the way out.
Perri Elastime: I just think of her as Lady Beast.
Fennimore: I think you are being politick about Balbina.
Mosifort snorts.
Fennimore: Caelius Casian approached us during the verbal duel. Rael says he is a friend, but his demeanor was unusual.
Fennimore: I can't put my finger on it. His concern for Rael was sincere, but he had an odd smile as we left.
Perri Elastime: He reminded me of a Look-at-Me.
Rael Octavius: We have a routine in court, Fenn. I was not following protocol, so he was probably being a bit more forward than usual.
Rael Octavius: He is also a sucker for a pretty face and a wink.
Perri Elastime: You have never not introduced someone.
Fennimore: Maybe I'm just being jealous of Perri's winks.
Rael Octavius: I was a little preoccupied. He caught my signal as did you two.
Perri Elastime: Rael, it seemed like he was trying to control you.
Perri Elastime: Hey Fenn, I give you a wink and a wiggle no need to be jealous.
Fennimore blushes.
Rael Octavius: That is part of our relationship. When one of us is in trouble, we try and influence each other to get us out of trouble.
Fennimore: If you have any more friendships like that, give us a heads up first.
Fennimore: Otherwise, we might mistake them for the bad guys.
Mosifort: It would be a shame if Cael was the one. However, he is one of the good ones, so no worries.
Rael Octavius nods.
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