Saturday, 13 May 2017

IV.27: The Dragonne Spreads its Wings

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 5
Scene setup: d10=7 (unchanged)

Is Borurol the commander? Unlikely (An orc or half-orc would be more fitting for a follower of the Gatekeepers).
Fate d100(27)=Yes

Newthrone, Q’barra
Nymm 25, 997 YK

Hireling, Do Your Thing(Vaalyun): 2D6(2 1) +1 = 4 Failure!
Reveal an unwelcome truth

Vaalyun sat comfortably at his desk, passing time while they waited for their visitor to arrive. In one hand he held a wine glass, and in the other a report on activity in the city since he had left for the Vale of Eberron. Ryfon had done as well as he could with their limited resources here, but the guildhouse was only recently established, and their only reliable eyes and ears were still the elves Imra and Ievos. They had blended in well in Thaliost, but they could not directly mix with Tharashk’s mercenaries here. There was at least some information on the more public of Tharashk’s movements, and it appeared that House Tharashk had grown its presence here by around fifty mercenaries in the last two weeks.

Esthana and Anaya sat at a smaller table on the other side of the room, with the morning sun shining in through a window next to them. Anaya had been reading a report on the Cult of Vol from Thrane, which Vaalyun had requested from his House’s agents in Thrane, and now she was writing a report back to the Templars in Flamekeep, passing on some information that might be of use to them. Vaalyun’s gaze moved from her to Esthana; the soldier was fretting at being stuck indoors, as usual, and was staring out of the window at the street below.

They were in Vaalyun’s office, in the Phiarlan Chapterhouse in Newthrone. After arriving back in the city on the previous day, Vaalyun had sent a note to Commander Borurol, requesting to meet with House Tharashk’s commander on an unspecified matter of business. Such requests between the Houses were common enough, and Vaalyun expected that the commander would call during the morning. Vaalyun preferred to meet him here, rather than in Tharashk’s guildhouse, in case the discussion went badly. The Templar’s work to unite the lizardfolk would make Tharashk’s work in the jungle more difficult and, while it was unlikely that the commander knew of it yet, once they told him it might cause problems. They had taken the precaution of leaving Nyseris at the Dragon’s Bounty for this meeting, as their presence might provoke him.

Vaalyun’s office was richly furnished now. The carpet was newly shipped from Sharn, and bore a large pattern depicting the five-headed hydra of House Phiarlan. The same fine paintings decorated the walls as had once hung in his office in Thaliost, and one or two newer paintings that he had bought during his brief stay in Flamekeep. The shipment had arrived a few days ago, and Vaalyun was pleased that his office now reflected his station as a scion of one of the twelve Houses.

The expected knock at the door came at last. The door opened; and the cleric heard Ryfon, from outside, announce the visitor.

“Commander Borurol Torrn d’Tharashk.”

Borurol wore his armour and scimitar, as he had when Vaalyun met him before at the Tharashk guildhouse, augmented now with a fine green travelling cloak bearing the sigil of his House.

Vaalyun had stood up when the name was announced, and he walked around his desk to greet the commander. “I am glad that you could come today, Commander. I think you have not met my associates, Lady Anaya and Lady Esthana, of the Templars of the Silver Flame.”

Defy Danger(CHA)(Anaya): 2D6(1 4) +1 = 6 Failure!
Reveal an unwelcome truth: You killed this guy’s cousin, and he heard about it.
Aid(Vaalyun): 2D6(2 1) +1 = 4 Failure!
Reveal an unwelcome truth: They know you are working with the Silver Flame now.

Well, that didn’t go as planned.

Anaya and Esthana were seated in the corner behind where the door opened, to be out of sight as the guest entered. Esthana had stood already, and now Anaya stood as well. “Commander Borurol.” The cleric inclined her head politely.

Borurol had turned to them, and looked surprised. He looked back to Vaalyun. “What is the meaning of this, d’Phiarlan?”

Vaalyun was taken aback; as far as he knew, the Templars had had no dealings with House Tharashk in Newthrone. “Be calm, my friend. These Templars wish to speak—”

“The Templars that killed my cousin!” He turned his glare back on the Templars.

Your mercenaries attacked us in the jungle,” said Anaya; the cleric had lost some of her customary calm. “They killed many lizardfolk, and the lizardfolk killed your mercenaries in self defence.”

“Lizardfolk? Traveller take them! The savages will pay in blood for their crimes.” He turned back to Vaalyun. “I do not know what has brought you to associate with these fanatics,” he said, gesturing to the Templars, “but any business between our Houses here is finished.”

Vaalyun started to protest, but the mercenary stormed out, shooting one last glare as Esthana as he left.

There was a moment of silence between them as they heard Borurol’s heavy steps on the stairs outside. Anaya looked over at Esthana: the other Templar was gripping he hilt of her sword tightly.

“Well, now we have more people in the city that want us dead,” said Esthana.

Vaalyun still stood before his desk. “You were there when Xulag was killed?” he asked quietly.

“I was,” said Esthana. “He wanted us dead.”

“It would have been good to know that before I arranged the meeting.” The elf looked away, shaking his head. “Killing a member of one of the Twelve Houses always brings complications. Tharashk may take the matter to the King here; and it seems to have made Borurol even more determined to take on the lizardfolk.”

“Perhaps there are other members of his house that would be more reasonable?”

Vaalyun sighed. “I can make enquiries. I understand that you want a peaceful solution, Templar, as do I—but it will be hard to avoid a fight with Tharashk if their commander is determined to see through their current course.”

“If it cannot be avoided, then we will not shrink from the fight. House Tharashk have put down roots here; but, if they will not here us, it is time to tear them up. We have a message from the lizardfolk to deliver, and it is time for the King to hear it.”

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 6
Scene setup: d10=5 (Altered scene)

Commune(Anaya): Cure Light Wounds, Bless, True Seeing
Is Borurol making his case to the King when they arrive? 50:50 (He may have the same idea as our heroes).
Fate d100(64)=Yes

The great hall in Newthrone’s Keep was a riot of colour. Rich tapestries depicting the deeds of knights, and banners bearing the heraldry of the nobles of Q’barra, hung over whitewashed stone walls. The vaulted stone ceiling reminded Vaalyun of the cathedral at Flamekeep, albeit on a smaller scale. Shafts of sunlight cut down into the chamber from high windows, drawing attention to the lack of arcane lighting.

The court of Q’barra were gathered here, nobles dressed in finery. Swords were worn openly, and some of the nobles and knights wore armour, even plate, polished to a bright shine. On a dais at the end of the hall sat King Sebastianes, the first to be called king of Q’barra: a richly-attired human wearing a simple gold circlet, leaning forward in his throne and listening attentively to the requests of his subjects. Seated to his side were Marshal Marioth and Earl Ottesen, both key officials in the kingdom.

Spout Lore(Vaalyun): 2D6(3 1) +2 = 6 Failure!
Is there a Rakshasa here as well? 50:50 (They are the other faction in town, already trying to get involved in the power plays here).
Fate d100(88)=No
Event: 80: Ambiguous Event
2d200 = 2, 45: Starting Illness

Front(Lords of Dust): Attack a foe with magic, directly or otherwise: They are trying to kill the king.

In DungeonWorld , clerics don’t possess any spells for curing disease. But it would be interesting if, say, herbs deep in the jungle were required to treat his illness. Offer an opportunity, with or without cost

Vaalyun was too young to have seen the courts of Old Galifar, but the hall seemed like a pastiche of a world long gone. The styles here were hundreds of years behind Wroat or Sharn, or even Thaliost. To learn from the past is wise, but only fools seek to cling to it.

Defy Danger(CHA)(Aided)(Nyseris): 2D6(1 5) +0+1 = 7 Partial success.
Admitted without weapons
Aid(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 2) +0 = 8 Partial success.
You are responsible for Nyseris’ actions here

As they walked down the length of the hall, many turned to stare at them. While a few lizardfolk did come to Newthrone to trade, it was rare for one to appear at court; nor had there been any Templars here for many years. It had taken some arguing with the guards for them to admit Nyseris at all, and they had insisted on confiscating the ranger’s weapons. There might officially be peace in Q’barra, but two groups that communicated so little could hardly trust each other.

They were ushered into a queue of supplicants waiting to speak to the King; but Vaalyun saw with alarm that the current supplicant was none other than Borurol, bringing a case before the King on behalf of House Tharashk.

“...have made peaceful arrangements with the lizardfolk allowing us to access their lands.” Borurol was speaking loudly enough for all to hear. “And yet, they attacked us without provocation. Moreover, there is at least one other team that went into the jungle two weeks ago, and is overdue to return to the city.” Borurol was accompanied by several half-orc mercenaries, and Vaalyun noted that they had been allowed to keep their weapons.

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 5) +1 = 10 Success!
What here is useful or valuable to me?
Who is really in control here?
What happened here recently?

“What was your expedition doing so far east?” asked the King. His expression was serious, giving the sense of paying full attention and consideration to a subject; but Vaalyun suspected that he was stalling for time.

“Pursuing our trade, known to yourself and approved by the relevant authorities here. Our expedition was identifying new sites for the extraction of dragonshards.”

“And you say that the lizardfolk had at first agreed to allow you passage?” When Q’barra was founded, early in the Last War, it had appealed to refugees and settlers as a refuge from that conflict. Apart from the one war with the lizardfolk, when the young nation needed to grow, it had remained a relatively peaceful place at a time when most other human nations were at each other’s throats. The King would be reluctant to allow a war to start here, Vaalyun considered, unless his own nation saw great need for it.

“Yes; we had given them items of great value to them, hard to obtain in the jungle, in return for access to their lands. Then they betrayed us; my cousin was slain only days after meeting them on terms of peace.

“Moreover, these lizardfolk were aided by two Templars of the Silver Flame, who fought alongside them. The Templars are in Newthrone now. I call on your to seize these traitors and see that they are punished for their involvement in this crime.”

Borurol was focused on the King, but many courtiers turned their heads to took at Anaya and Esthana. Vaalyun stepped away from the line of waiting merchants and minor nobles waiting to be heard, and raised his voice.

“If Your Grace pleases, I and my companions could testify on this matter.”

Above the Law(Vaalyun): You can act out of turn here without consequences to yourself, due to your standing in the Twelve.

The King looked at Vaalyun; the elf was careful to stand square on, so that his Phiarlan robes were clearly visible. Borurol turned too, and scowled when he saw them; he turned aside to one of his companions and muttering something angrily.

“I suppose those are the Templars against whom Borurol d’Tharashk makes his allegations,” said the King. “Your group may approach and be heard.”

There were louder murmurs amongst the courtiers as the group approached the throne. Borurol was standing to one side, ahead of the line of supplicants; Vaalyun led the Templars and Nyseris to stand before the King, but on the other side of the hall so they faced the Tharashk contingent below the dais. There were several knights stationed as guards around the dais, and two of them moved closer to the newcomers, eyeing them carefully.

“Your Grace, I am honoured to be received,” said Vaalyun. In truth, it would be a rash king that refused to hear a dignitary of one of the Twelve Houses these days; but Q’barra was so far behind the times, they might have failed to extend the expected courtesy. ”I am Vaalyun d’Phiarlan. Allow me to present Lady Anaya Biemolt of the Templars of the Silver Flame; Lady Esthana, also of the Templars; and Nyseris of the Eternal Fire Tribe.”

Anaya bowed deeply as she was named, and Esthana copied her.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(6 2) +3 = 11 Success!
What happened here recently?
What here is useful or valuable to me?
Hold 1

Useful: you were actually there, Borurol was not.

“A lizardfolk—it is rare to see your kind here,” said the King, his gaze lingering on Nyseris. Up closer as they now were, they could see that the King was a middle-aged man with a dignified bearing, but also tired—or perhaps something more, as he held himself slightly stiffly, as if trying to maintain his lordly presence despite some injury or ailment. His gaze shifted to the Templars. “I have never left my kingdom: it is rare that a King can afford that luxury. So I have never met a Templar before. Are these indeed Templars?”

One of the noblewomen spoke. “I have travelled to Thrane on several occasions; they do wear the uniform of the Templars.”

“Borurol d’Tharashk makes strong charges against you, Lady Anaya. What say you?”

With +1 forward from her Discern Realities.

Defy Danger(CHA)(Aided)(Anaya): 2D6(1 3) +1+1+1 = 7 Partial success.
Worse outcome
Aid(Nyseris): 2D6(3 5) +0 = 8 Partial success.
Worse outcome

Just enough not to get thrown in jail.

Anaya met the King’s stare and question without apparent concern. “Your Grace, our work here has taken us into the jungle, where we have met and travelled with some of the lizardfolk tribes. We were travelling with them when Xulag Torrn and his mercenaries ambushed us—attacking at a river crossing where our party was divided. The lizardfolk defended themselves and we aided them. I did not see Xulag meet his end; he was on the south side of the crossing, while I was on the north.”

“The Templar speaks–s the truth,” said Nyseris. “The lizardfolk defended themselves against the human and orc mercenaries.”

Is Borurol angry enough to speak out of turn here? 50:50 (He does seem like someone that talks without listening when he feels slighted.).
Fate d100(17)=Yes

“Lies!” shouted Borurol. “Xulag traded with the lizardfolk, and would not attack them.”

“Mind yourself, Borurol d’Tharashk,” said Marshall Marioth. “Speak when addressed.”

“House Tharashk says one thing, and the Templars say another. And there are no witnesses to this ambush other than the participants, I gather.” The King turned back to Borurol.

“Xulag d’Tharashk is dead,” Borurol said, “slain by the lizardfolk—they do not dispute it.”

“But not by these Templars, whatever their involvement. And the peace with the lizardfolk prevents us from pursuing those that did do this into the jungle.” Vaalyun suppressed a smile; in practice the King’s authority did not extend beyond the human settlements along the Adder, but the King claimed juristiction over the whole jungle.

Borurol would not give up so easily. “The peace is ended, Your Grace, if they attack our expeditions into the jungle.”

“Violence against our traders is unacceptable and His Grace with certainly respond, you need not doubt,” said Earl Ottesen. Vaalyun had known, from earlier enquiries, that the Earl generally supported House Tharashk; but it was still alarming to hear the Earl, the commander of the army here, pushing for such a course.

“If I may, Your Grace,” said Vaalyun, “we come with a message from the lizardfolk.”

The quiet murmurs of the courtiers became hurried whispers around them. The King had turned back to them; after a glance at Vaalyun, he turned his gaze to Nyseris. “Is this one, then, an emissary from our neighbours?”

“No, Your Grace, I carry the message from the gul siksta.” Anaya took a step forward to stand beside Vaalyun. “We have travelled directly from the Vunal di Gemuth, from a meeting of the gul siksta chieftains. This is why we come before you today.”

Parley(Anaya): 2D6(2 2) +1 = 5 Failure!
Front(House Tharashk): Claim Territory or Resources

So many poor roles on the diplomacy today.

The King looked at Anaya. “I will hear their message.”

There was near silence around them as Anaya spoke; she raised her voice so that all might hear. “The gul siksta protect the sacred land of Q’barra. The dragonshards, that House Tharashk seeks, are part of their land and are sacred, blessed by the Silver Flame; their presence shields Q’barra from the great evil that dwells beneath it in Khyber. They will not allow any more of the dragonshards to be taken.

“The gul siksta insist that the peace that was struck must be honoured: those that live in the human settlements must intrude into the jungle no more. Any that seek to enter the territory of the lizardfolk or take the dragonshards will be killed.”

“This is an outrage!” said Earl Ottesen, jumping to his feet at this conclusion. “The lizardfolk have not spoken to us in years, and their first message is threats and lies! This nonsense about evil is clearly an excuse to try to scare us from pursuing our rightful trade.”

“You are right, Ottesen,” said Borurol. “The lizardfolk traded with us, then betrayed us. They seek to deny you a fair share of the bounty of this land, and to intimidate you into submission.”

“That is not true,” said Anaya. “The lizardfolk seek peaceful coexistence with the human settlements here.” Vaalyun could hear the passion in her plea, but could see that the court was against her. He had known from previous discussions with the Marshal and other officials that Earl Ottesen was generally supportive of House Tharashk’s operations here, and the Earl’s outburst made it clear that his support for Tharashk was unconditional. The only hope was that the King himself would think twice.

“Their attacks on our expeditions prove that they have no interest in peace”, said Borurol, waving his hand dismissively at Anaya.

“Your expeditions go deep into their territory,” said the King. “While I sympathise with you on your losses, Borurol d’Tharashk, I will not start a war because your trading arrangement fell through. So what do you want of me?”

Borurol turned to face the King, and took a moment to collect himself. “Permit us to bring in a larger force of armed mercenaries, Your Grace. Our expeditions until now have been peaceful exploration of the jungle to gather resources—resources that are of no use to anyone but the Twelve. Given the hostility of the lizardfolk now, we will need a strong armed escort with future expeditions. Without this, the trade in dragonshards—and the associated revenue—will surely dry up. My House is well able to provide the necessary protection to our prospectors if you will allow us to marshal forces here.”

Peaceful exploration indeed thought Vaalyun; if the jungle could have been explored entirely peacefully, it would not be the private army that was House Tharashk doing it. But it was clear that the argument was lost, and there was no need to risk his own position here to try to reverse that which was inevitable.

The King looked strained by the discussion, and there was an uncomfortable moment of silence. Then he spoke. “Very well. I permit House Tharashk to double its presence in Q’barra, including in the cities of Newthrone and Adderport. You may make arrangements with Earl Ottesen to have more space allocated to you within the city walls here. This trade dispute between yourselves and the lizardfolk is regrettable and we hope that you will be able to resolve it and pursue your trade without hinderance.”

Anaya was about to speak again, when the King turned to address her. “We have no desire for a war with the lizardfolk, but, should they attack any of our settlements, they will learn that we are a nation now, stronger than when they last faced us. We expect them to continue to honour the peace that was struck.”

“You ask them to honour a peace with you, while you give shelter to those that attack them?” asked Anaya.

“As I have said, I hope that House Tharashk can resolve its dispute with the lizardfolk. This matter is settled.” The King rose abruptly. “I will hold court again this afternoon, to address those subjects whose appeals were not heard this morning.” He turned and walked away to a side door.

“Long reign the King!” shouted Earl Ottesen.

The chatter in the throneroom picked up, much louder than it had been while the King held court. Vaalyun saw Borurol walk over and begin talking to the Earl. There was nothing more to do here today; he ushered the Templars and Nyseris away from the throneroom.

They passed into the corridor outside; armed guards with polished halberds closed the doors of the throneroom behind them.

“That did not go well,” said Esthana. “House Tharashk seems to have its supporters in the government here.”

“Careful Templar,” said Vaalyun. He lowered his voice, waiting until they were a little further from the guards before continuing. “There are ears throughout Newthrone Keep, and no doubt a few listen on behalf of House Tharashk.”

Anaya spoke with a lowered voice now too. “It is as we feared—House Tharashk is too important to Newthrone’s trade for their request to be denied.”

“And the lizardfolk have reaped the reward of never talking to their neighbours. The King gets House Tharashk’s attention and money every day; why should he care for a neighbour that sends its first messenger in twenty years?” It would not have been this way if House Phiarlan had had a presence here years ago, Vaalyun believed; his House had been practicing diplomacy in Khorvaire since before humanity arrived.

They were descending a spiral stone staircase now, leading down to the Keep’s courtyard. Nyseris said, “Perhaps if the humans had talked when they first came here, instead of simply stealing land from us, then we would think it worth talking to them more often.”

They reached the bottom of the stairs, but the way to the courtyard was blocked by two soldiers. Silhouetted in the light from the courtyard beyond, it took a moment to make out the crest of Newthrone displayed on their tabards. Both had their hands on their sword hilts already.

One of them, a heavyset human woman with a scar above one eye, spoke. “Templar, Shadow, come with us. Our employer wishes to speak to you.”

End of Session(party):

Anaya: 2 failures; at 5XP.
Esthana: 0 failures; at 5XP.
Nyseris: 0 failures; at 2XP.
Vaalyun: 2 failures, alignment goal; at 5XP.

Well that was an abject failure; the party failed several key rolls outright, leaving little choice to the GM but to move the politics against them. The net result of the session is that I had to write Grim Portents for House Tharashk taking over Q’barra; the whole region could descend into war over the jungle if this track continues.

The story is heading in general in a different direction than I originally imagined; I had thought of the party as uprooting Tharashk’s influence here, bringing the government in Newthrone to renew their peace with the lizardfolk, while having only a weak bond with the lizarfolk themselves. Instead, the party is strongly bonded to the lizardfolk, and might simply have to abandon the human part of Q’barra as a lost cause and side with the lizardfolk outright. That would be unfortunate for Vaalyun, who has invested in the city here.

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