The Introduction of Sir Morgal Rintarin
Even though he was present in the first scene, Sir Morgal isn't really introduced until this scene. Celebrating the capture of the assassin and the heroic efforts of the PCs to save the life of his liege's brother, Sir Rindan Caldeth, Sir Morgal takes the opportunity to host a large lunch for the entire party at the Iron Bell. There we're also introduced to Tommas, who is one of Morgal's Rangers.
Morgal, you see, had received a disturbing report from a source in Tashal regarding Sir Rindan and came with all haste and a small force of Rangers that he could muster up on extremely short notice - all on horseback. They took spare mounts, traded out spent mounts at various manors along the way, and basically busted ass to get to Tashal. Morgal left his escort behind somewhere between Ledyne and Ternua, proceeded on alone, and made Tashal a full half day ahead of his escort arriving last night, while his Rangers don't arrive until mid-morning.
Prior to the big meal, Dame Anastasia has put Aderyn and Findul on retainer as researchers and sent them off to find out what they can about this warehouse property. Which they do, Aderyn knowing her way around polite society and research while Findul has some meager guild credentials he can bluff with. They're free with the "fees" to grease the wheels of commerce, since its Dame Anastasia's money, and find out from the Mercantylers and Litigants guilds the current and previous ownership of the property, tracing it from Baron Bastune's hands to his wife's hands and then through sale to a mercantyler clan from Azadmere, and there no further.
Dame Anastasia does some digging about the assassin, and learns enough to confirm her suspicions of Navehan involvement, but doesn't yet pick up on the fact that Sir Korlis (Marshal of the Guard) has a big hate-on for Navehans. She does some other business, offers a handsome (and grossly excessive) reward to a young City Watch soldier who was of particular assistance the night before, and he gushes about how his home village has fallen on hard times and plans to put the entire reward into purchasing food to personally deliver to his home village. His home village is some nowhere a few leagues north of Tashal, a watering hole halfway to Olokand called "Airth", and our heroic City Watch soldier is the 20 year old son of an Airth yeoman who goes by name of Tagin. See also: Fanon's Vale.
Morris spends some time at The Spurs and tracks down a prostitute who saw Huw the night before, beds said prostitute, and is threatened with contracting a communicable disease from said prostitute. But he does confirm that Huw left town this very morning on foot, and was flat broke (Cherryh having robbed him pretty well blind the night before). Other inquiry discerns that Huw left on the same horse that Sir Morgal rode into town on (a horse which he swapped out at Ternua for one belonging to Sir Anzarn Verdreth, Dame Anastasia's brother).
At lunch they put their heads together and figure out a plan to leave the next day, as soon as the disposition of the assassin can be determined (aka "execution"). Tommas is sent south immediately to track the horse. Good luck with that, its a busy road, but maybe someone has seen it. He eventually finds the horse at Erone Abbey, safely sheltered at the guest house where Huw ditched it. Of course he ditched it, not daring to risk crossing the Neph at Ternua with a horse known to the Verdreths and a saddle marked obviously with Sir Anzarn''s arms. He crosses south into Thelshire instead on foot.
As it happens, Dame Anastasia is also secretly the lover of Dame Erila Kaphin. Yes, we sometimes brush against mature subject matter.
From Erila: These juicy rumors always have in them some tiny nugget of truth that makes them sound believable. I would think that if there were any immediate plans to invade Chybisa, I would know about them. This is false, like last month's rumor that I'm the King's secret spymaster or that there is a secret tunnel connecting the castle to the old sewer tunnels. My favorite rumors are always about me. Once they were saying that I'm secretly a spy for Chybisa, and another time that King Miginath was going to name me as his heir. The nuggest of truth in this one might have to do with the personal relations of one of the scribes, mine or Princess Meliam's or Sir Hirnan's or Lord Dariune's. That might bear some investigation. Thank you.
After a very late night discussing matters with Dame Erila, Dame Anastasia is heading back to her own bed when she spies a light from yonder doorway, the office and quarters of Sir Korlis Harabor.
If you take the stairwell in the southeast tower, you avoid Sir Korlis's room but this is the "Low Guard" stairwell as the Captain of the Low Guard is in a room right outside this stairwell and downstairs you will pass by the Low Guard barrack rooms to get to your own.
If you take the stairwell in the sourthwest tower, you must walk right past Sir Korlis's wide open door to the "High Guard" stairwell, but it will take you directly where you want to go.
If you go left, down the Low Guard stairs, turn to page 117
If you go right, past Sir Korlis's door, turn to page 66
“Sir Korlis, I beg your pardon. I did not mean to disturb you.”
Sir Korlis looks tired and disheveled, dressed not in castle clothes but rather in rougher working clothes, but his eyes are focussed and intense. He looks a bit surprised to see you, as if he had expected someone else entirely. There are papers on his desk, not official looking documents with seals but rather a variety of handwritten notes and pages that appear to have been torn from books. Two volumes are open and prominent on his desk, one appears to be an illustrated volume of Laranian scripture and the other might be a book of history except that a skull mask like he assassin wore appears on one page. He kicks an open chest by his feet, and it slams closed. "Dame Anastasia, what a surprise. I was just considering your prisoner. Please come in and tell me about him."
“I am not sure how much I can tell, Sir Korlis. I chased him down a street and into a neighborhood with some old warehouses. He had gone into the shadows and might have escaped but he took the opportunity to throw a dagger at me. It missed but I was able to see where he had fled to and followed him. He went into one of the warehouses and jumped to the rafters. I chased him from below, going out onto a catwalk over what appeared to be an old grain storage pit. The assassin leapt to the floor of the pit and I threw my dagger in an attempt to slow him down. I managed to inflict a serious would to the man and he staggered into the far corner of the pit. I scrambled down, only to find that he had disappeared through a tunnel that had been cut from the back of the pit. There was a great deal of blood so it was easy to track him into the tunnel. I went a short distance and determined that the tunnel was more extensive than it had the right to be. At that time I returned to the entrance of the tunnel and left my dogs to guard it. I went back to the scene of the attack on Sir Rindan to seek assistance from the City Guard so we could continue the pursuit. As it happened, a couple of mercenaries volunteered to accompany me and two of the guardsmen. Additionally, two arcanists who had been instrumental in preserving Sir Rindan’s life until a physician arrived agreed to come along in case further first aid was required. We returned to the warehouse where I determined that the assassin had not tried to escape that way. The group of us made our way through the tunnel and discovered some strange rooms of worked stone. At some point the assassin broke from cover and tried to escape. We subdued him and brought him to the surface. He was wearing one of those masks.”
I will point at the exposed page at the last point.
“What else do you need to know about him, Sir Korlis? I will tell you what I can.”
Sir Korlis is very interested in the assassin.
He interrogates you, without really meaning to be an inquisitor, its just that he is animated and energetic about this.
Did he fight right-handed or left-handed?
What weapons did he use?
Did he show any unnatural skills or abilities?
Did he use magic? What magic did your arcanists use? How did they save Sir Rindan's life? Did they counteract a poison? What poison? What do they know about the assassin?
Did you recover the knife used on Sir Rindan? Did you recover the weapons he used against you?
Please recount again how you came to capture the assassin alive.
Did he use any poisons? If so, why do you think they were so ineffective? If no, why do you suppose he did not?
Please describe, in detail, the size and shape of the tunnels and worked stone.
Did you encounter an traps? If so, please describe them. Can you draw them? Did you recover them?
Where did the tunnels lead? Did they connect with anything?
Did you find recover anything of value or of esoteric interest?
Did you encounter any strange or monsterous creatures?
Did the assassin have any accomplices that you know of? If so, what became of them?
Why do you think Sir Rindan was targetted? Why do you think the assassination failed? Was this a warning? To who?
He asks questions faster than you can answer them, sometimes rapid-firing multiple questions back to back and other times backtracking to a question he had previously asked to ask it again or to remind you that you hadn't answered it. Other times he might ask a question before you can reply to a previous question, and not go back or seem to remember he had asked something.
He intersperses his questions with lectures on Naveh faith and practice, on the worship of their "evil one", and on their traditions. He appears to be quite knowledgable on the subject of Naveh worship, although he never calls it a church or refers to Naveh as a "god".
He says, at one point, that he is determined to burn this Guild of Assassins out root and branch, every leaf, every twig, every acorn, and even the very water it draws nourishment from if that is required to end this menace.
This, he shows you the smaller book with the skull symbol on one page, this is a true copy of a book penned by Saint Ambrathas. This is "Punishing the Wicked". These assassins are wicked. This Guild of Assassins must be punished, their heresies expunged, their treasons revealed, their seditions uprooted, and their rebellions crushed. "I will not rest until this work is done," his hands now open on the larger volume of Laranian scripture, "of this I swear to the great Lady herself in the name of Saint Ambrathas and Saint Perelyne and by Saint Orthas himself, Knight-Commander of Tirith, and by her mighty sword Avarkiel, the Oathbinder."
You have witnessed my oath. Will you swear to it?
I will swear an oath as a witness to Sir Korlis’s oath then also swear my own oath before Larani to root out the evil that is the Cult of Naveh wherever I find it. I will ask him if he will witness my oath. I will open my heart to Larani and hope to receive her blessing in this matter.
So when you kneel for your oath he brings the two volumes from his desk, closed, and sets them before you so that you can swear on either or both of the volume of Laranian holy scriptures and St Ambrathas's sacred "Punishing the Wicked". Laranian oaths are often sworn on a drawn sword, kneeling on something sacred (if available), or on something sacred (if available and handy). He swore his oath impromptu, with his hands on both books. You have a moment to be a little more prepared and formal. He stands over you as you kneel and swear your oath, his hands on your head, exactly how the priest stood over you when your swore your oath of chivalry and knighthood on the day you were knighted. He even speaks the words you've heard, as if he were the priest himself.
This is all a side of Sir Korlis that you may not have ever suspected existed. Now you know.
I am serious in my oath. Kneel on the holy books as appropriate and swear the oath with all my heart. This is as important to me as taking my vows as a knight. Larani guide and protect me.
There is a Laranian chapel in the castle, and a large Laranian temple near the Ternua gate. Also, Caleme is not far from Tashal (only a couple miles) although it is a little out of the way from where you're going.
He does not have a deep interest in the answers about the assassins weapons, but is much more interested in the assassin's leaping and jumping skills. He would investigate this line by wondering if this seemed within the range of a man's natural faculties, or if this might be evidence of some esoteric ability or super-natural endowment.
He presumes that your arcanists must have had some alchemical means at their disposal to deflect poison and save Sir Rindan's life from a "grave mortal wound". and by Larani's grace they were disposed to be of assistance and the assassin was sloppy. He quotes a passage, from memory, from "Punishing the Wicked" about the wicked punishing themselves.
He is very interested in the tunnel description and takes careful notes in a dense fine script. He draws a sketch based on your description of the dimensions and supports of both the cruder and better worked passages and compares this with notes he has elsewhere, opening the chest under his desk and pulling out more papers, including other sketch drawings of tunnels. The few sparse labellings on his drawings are in his dense small handwriting and are illegible from more than a few feet away, so for all you know he could be looking at drawings of a mine.
He finds the foggy room as evidence of ensorcelment, and the wire-trapped room evidence that the assassin was familiar with this lair. He takes the assassin's blunder in his attempted escape, being caught in the foggy room trying to exit, as further evidence of Larani's hand in punishing the wicked by turning their own ploys against them.
(I note that you deflected the riddle-door by saying that it was "a rigged door and guessed at the proper means to open it")
(You might recall that while you did open the door, the assassin had hidden in the barracks behind you and did not pass through that door.)
He hopes to bring the existence of these tunnels to the attention of the Royal Inspector of Public Works, Master Erdar of Orinain, but he is not in residence right now. He is making inspections elsewhere. Sidebar: Clan Orinain masons have held this office for a couple generations. They're a Khuzdul clan from Azadmere. Erdar's uncle before him was the previous Royal Inspector, back in the days of the Baronial Revolts.
He is very interested in this Caldeth steward and believes that his actions are suspicious and evidence again of Larani's hand in bringing the deeds of the wicked to punishment. He will have issued a writ for the man's arrest. He wants you to bring this man in.
His theory is that either Sir Rindan was targetted at random, or was deliberately targetted due to some nefarious business - perhaps nefarious business on the part of this suspicious steward. Yes, this is superficial: it was random or it wasn't. He expounds on Navehan tradition, which involves assassins advancing in grade in their guild by performing a hit against a target that is selected for them at random from names of individuals which the guild would like to see dead. I think I mentioned before that Sir Korlis seems quite well educated on both Laranian and Navehan religions, and it might be apparant that he is quite devout in his Laranian faith. Then he talks about this suspicious steward seeming to be an accomplice, which he would not have expected had this been a truly random killing (he uses some other word, a foriegn word, perhaps a Navehan word, to describe this).
Stone isn't going anywhere, but flesh is, and where flesh leads you must follow. The flesh is weak, and the wicked must be punished. This steward must be followed, for where he goes may lead to information about why Sir Rindan was targetted. The stone, on the other hand, will still be here when Master Erdar returns from his rounds.
The pace of the proceedings is what it is, because the assassin is not expected to live much longer. He managed to swallow some poison, presumably something secreted on his person, and has been of no use to anyone for questioning. He has been kept alive by Larani's will and by the intervention of the Royal Alchemist, who forced some draught down the wretch's throat. Otherwise, he would be dead by his own hand.
Your preference in execution style is commendable. It is much the same as my own. Alas, the King would not permit such a display of blood and gore. Stakings and impalements are grotesque, and a drawing and quartering is something that he would reserve for a nobleman in rebellion. Unfortunately, this one will simply be hung by the neck with a spear through his gut for good measure, his body and head given to a gibbet in Orbael Wood north of the city as food for the crows.
A short prayer in the chancery leaves you time to freshen up, break fast, and pack your things.
You need to select your clothes, get a squire to clean your hauberk, check on the horses, warn the ostlers that you'll need them both today, check on the dogs and deliver the same warning, spend some time with the dogs, get a squire to help you get your things from your room so your horses can be loaded for you, get the chest, get the silver in the chest, reward Ulf and Tagin (which takes time, as Tagin has his epiphany and needs to rush off to get ready to leave town also), get the money to everyone else, get the mule ready to go, get your horses to the Iron Bell so that you can leave directly from there instead of pushing horses through city streets at mid-day, get back to the castle, get changed into a fresh surcoat, attend the execution, and then change into travelling clothes (perhaps pre-positioned for you at the Iron Bell).
Somewhere in all that you wanted to corner Dame Lesyle and have a girl-to-girl conversation with her, but you find that time has just flown by!