rk was right: The tavern was perfect.No windows, no questions. Gold could purchase healing and silence; both were required by the harried group.
With Zaracas safely trussed up, the group settles into the relatively uncomfortable surroundings, listening to the muffled cries, shouts and clashes on the street. Elana dares a peek from the roof only to see the Temple of Delrodin burning brightly, flames licking at the night sky. The innkeeper, a man loyal to gold instead of crown, informs the group that the entire district is on lock-down and the guards were doing house by house searches for the rebels.
Yet it isn’t the soldiers who pay the drab inn a visit. Instead, two separate faces, once known and one not, enter the establishment, having tailed the party this far. The unknown one is a tiny woman (a miniature dwarf or even an elusive gnome, by the looks of her, which was especially odd in the human-dominated city of Andelia) named Eva. Possessed of healing powers and, of all things, a message from Grunur’s mother, the little woman, mysterious though she may be, is a welcome sight for the bruised and bloodied band. The other? None other than Langbard. And his message is simple: Get out of the district.
The rebel offers his services, along with his men and some disguises, to help the group escape the tightening noose of Lower Andelia. Grunur and Eva would dress in rags, borne as prisoners back to Upper Andelia; the rest of the party would disguise themselves as soldiers with makeshift armament. Though Grunur huffs, puffs and greatly protests (after all, an armiger without his armor is really nothing at all), the plan seems to be the only sensible choice; reluctantly, removing his sacred plate, the dwarf relents. Eva, incredibly, goes along with all of this without much protest. The poor girl came to deliver a message to a supposedly-upstanding dwarf from a good family; instead, she ends up mixed in with killers, rebels and traitors. So it goes in the mad city of Andelia these days.
But what to do with the prisoner Zaracas? Caithas wants the man dead; his half-elven, almond-shaped eyes flash at the mention of it. Elana vehemently disagrees, believing that killing a man in battle versus killing one in cold blood when he is unable to defend himself are two very, very different things. Jules, torn, relents to Elana and trusses up the prisoner, willing to let him live for just a bit longer.
Thus, the motley crew set off, with Langbard doing all of the talking, in disgrace and disguise, back towards Upper Andelia. Their mission had been a failure. They had not secured the code nor the names they needed; the Black Chamber remained elusive and off-limits. Worst of all, perhaps, they had lost Malcom, though admittedly their ranks had swelled slightly on the wrong side of the river.
Though the journey is tense, with soldiers and threats at every corner, Langbard’s plan works without a hitch. Soon, safely returned to Upper Andelia, the group heads to Elana’s crumbling, empty family manse.
The estate, though, was not nearly as crumbling as they expected. Nor was it empty. Markus and the rest of the rebellion had set up a nice little headquarters there in everyone’s absence. Soon, introductions fly all around. Grunur adds his name to the ranks, with Caithas vouching for him. Eva and Ark though, the other newcomers, are not as quick to throw their lot in with the rebellion…at least, not publicly. Not yet.
Soon, the question of what to do with Zaracas is brought up. Markus’s decision is one born not of kindness, but of duty and logic. The man must die; the rebels know it, whether they want to admit it or not. When the deed comes due, Caithas’s blades are ready. Without much fanfare, the half-elf publicly executes the bulky sell-sword, dragging his dead body out to throw in a shallow grave. Unbeknownst to his companions, he even loots the man’s body before tossing him in the hastily-dug hole.
Elana, furious with Caithas and disgusted with the situation in general, stalks away from the scene, seeking solace in a quiet room. There, she is consoled by Ark, though the mysterious vagabond is not much for words. Still, his concern for the noblewoman is clear.
Jules, while not necessarily upset for the same reasons as his wife, is no more pleased than she is upon witnessing Zaracas’s throat open and gush onto the cold stone floor. Angry, frustrated and restless, the nobleman – only hours before the de facto rebel leader and now, once more, just another cog in the great spinning wheel of history – heads to Mara’s house, the woman he met not so very long ago while disguised as Brother Percy. His reasons? Unclear. But for a man who loved the company and touch of women, and considering the icy reception his nuptials had wrought, it didn’t take a genius to guess at his motivation.
While the half-elf tends to his gruesome task, and the others cope with the execution in their own ways, Grunur acquaints himself with Olaf, the only other dwarf he can find (he’s still not sure what Eva is…). As the two exchange pleasantries in Dwarven and dig trenches for the estate’s defense together, Langbard and a retinue of his men arrive. Though met with suspicion, Grunur and some of the other companions vouch for the man’s loyalty and sincerity. Reluctantly, Markus agrees and welcomes Langbard.
Unfortunately for Ark, the rebel leader’s right hand man Carrinas is not so easily convinced about Ark. Perhaps it is just a difference in personalities. Perhaps it is Ark’s sulky demeanor and skullduggerous responses. Whatever it was, it appeared that, just when the party seemed able to finally catch their breath and recuperate, new troubles were brewing from within their own ranks…