- Part 3 -
Persephone opened Herric’s door and stepped back outside, her eyes glazed, as she tried to comprehend the immensity of the truth she had just learned. Shaking off her stupor, she looked around at her traveling companions, pausing a few seconds longer on Malva who was still enraptured with her newly discovered jumping capabilities. Confused but moving on with her observations, Persephone realized that Ryo was nowhere to be seen. “Where’s Ryo?” she asked, hoping to not sound as angry and confused as she felt. Malva, who had stopped her jumping at this point, spoke up to say that she had seen Ryo walk into the woods. Drakon started shooting out questions, “Is he coming back? Where did he go? What happened?” Unsure of what or how much to say, Persephone retreated back into herself and remained silent.
Drakon repeated his questions and everyone started to look at Persephone. Realizing attention was on her, and hoping to deflect their prying stares, Persephone asked Marcus if she could speak to him alone. Walking far enough away that they could have a private conversation, Persephone kept her back to the group. For added privacy, she spoke to Marcus in elfish. “I don’t know what do.” She sighed deeply. “What do you mean?” Marcus asked, his confusion evident. “I…I have found out some information and I don’t know what I should do.” Marcus remained silent as signs of Persephone’s mental and emotional struggle showed on her face. Sighing again, jaw set, she shared with Marcus what Herric had told her. “You’ve already guessed part of what I learned in there. Herric confirmed my suspicions that Jon Wynrett may be my father. When I pressed him to find out who I could ask to be sure, he told me I could ask Elred and then proceeded to inform me that Elred was part of our party, and in fact, was Ryo.” Marcus appeared unaffected. Persephone continued. “And before I left he threatened that we had 24 hours before he would send word to Lord Moriar that Elred is in our party.” A moment of silence passed between them. “And what do you want to do?” Marcus asked Persephone. “I don’t know. What do you think we should do?” “That is up to you. You must decide what you want to share with everyone else.” Persephone’s jaw tightened. “And what about Herric?” she asked. “I can take care of Herric if you want me to. But I will leave that to you to decide.” As Persephone had no other response, Marcus returned to their confused companions. Persephone remained for a moment, still lost in her own confusion. Sighing, she too joined the group.
“Well, what do we do now?” Asked Drakon. “Should we just go back to the Silver Spoon? If Ryo returns from wherever he has disappeared to, he his more likely to meet us there.” Looking around for confirmation, all nodded in agreement. Marcus turned to Persephone, “What say you, Persephone? Shall we return?” Persephone nodded, but made no eye contact with him or the group.
Their return to the Silver Spoon was uneventful and quiet, an unspoken agreement of a silent walk interrupted only by Marcus advising Malva to keep her leaping to a minimum. It may, after all, draw unwanted attention as they once again enter Eastaria’s gates. As they approached the Silver Spoon, it was impossible to miss the ostentatious chariot and 2 well dressed guards standing in front. Marcus, speaking to Malva’s mind only, shared “The Emperor’s brat is here.” Speaking to Cyrek’s mind as well, “It appears the Emperor’s son is here.” Now on alert, the group entered the inn and noticed Kylen urgently motioning for their attention. Appearing agitated, he alerted Cyrek to the fact that guards were standing outside their room and Lord Moriar himself had been waiting for Cyrek for a couple of hours. Telling his companions that he would go in alone, Cyrek made his way to their rooms, praying for guidance, as he was unsure of what fate awaited him behind the door.
As he walked into the room, the first thing he noticed was Lady Lecell lounging on the couch and several guards also standing in the room. As he surveyed the rest of the room, he locked eyes with Lord Moriar. “Tell me Cyrek, why does a noble come to my city and not come see me right away? Your father and I differ on everything, but I had hoped that someone of your scholarly opinion would know better.” Realizing the shaky ground he was on, Cyrek chose his words carefully. “Sir, I am sorry if I offended you. It has been such a long time since we last saw each other and so much has happened, I confess I was unsure of what welcome I would receive.” Bowing in deference, “I humbly apologize sir and hope any offence will be forgiven.” Lord Moriar, nods his head in acceptance of Cyrek’s apology. His voice slightly less accusing, but no less arrogant, he replied, “You are always welcome. I wouldn’t turn you away. You grew up with Jon and Lecell and were practically my own son as well.” A moment of silence passed between them. “Well, Cyrek. So you are here now and I hear you have been keeping company with some ‘unmentionables.’ But I did not come to dwell on that topic, though I must say I am glad to see your opinion on the mutts differs from your self-righteous Father. I wanted to extend a personal invitation to the Dawnbreak Festival to you, and you alone. Keep the elf at home.” Lord Moriar got up from the chair, signifying the close of their conversation. Cyrek thanked him for his invitation. Lord Moriar again bowed his head in acknowledgement and walked towards the door. Lady Lecell uncurled herself from the couch she was lounging on and said goodbye to Cyrek. “Come, Theycian,” Lord Moriar commanded, and Cyrek noticed one of the guards turn his head at the mention of his name and follow Lord Moriar out of the room.
Allowing a few moments to pass before signaling for the group to return, Cyrek recounted the conversation that had passed between himself and Lord Moriar. Assuring them that all was well, he shared that he had received a personal invitation to the party. Breathing a collective sigh of relief, the group resettled into their quarters, their attention returning to the day’s activities. Saying nothing to the group, Malva went to her room as she realized a heat was starting to emanate from her pack and she wished to investigate in private. Removing the scroll of sending from her pack, she felt warmth radiating off it and immediately unfurled it to see a message from Lord Hector asking for an update and if they had found Herric. Returning to the main room, she alerted the group of Lord Hector’s message and they all turned their attention to her, helping to decide what their response should be. Malva wrote back to Lord Hector that they did find Herric but that he did not appear to appreciate their visit very much. He was able to help them in describing a floor plan for the keep. They also discovered that Theycian was captain of Moriar’s bodyguards. They ended their message alerting Lord Hector to the fact that Ryo had disappeared without explanation. Before Malva finished writing, Marcus requested that she also ask Lord Hector if he knew why Ryo would disappear after an encounter with Herric.
A few moments passed as their message on the scroll disappeared and Lord Hector’s response formed. “It is very troubling about Ryo and very unwise for him to be alone in Eastaria. You should seek him out. Do you have a plan yet on how you will navigate at the Keep?” Malva reads. Malva wrote back as the others voiced their responses. They already had 3 passes to the party and discovered a fourth on the body of Celra Truebrew. They were still in need of 2 additional passes. A plan was not confirmed, but perhaps the other 2 would break in using thief’s tools and Malva and Marcus would take the lead on sneaking around. Hector responded with concern over the idea that the 2 musicians hired for this special event would be the ones sneaking. They should probably focus on playing their part as entertainment and help draw any attention away from others who should investigate. Hector also asked who Celra Truebrew was as the name was not one he had heard before. They responded sharing the story about their encounter in the woods and the bodies they found in the cave, that they suspected she was attempting to make a name for herself and break into the noble circles. Hector asked them if they had considered yet that they could send in some of their party as servants. Hector gave them instructions to complete 3 goals: to locate Theycian, find out where he was keeping the stolen goods, and to find and retrieve 2 small boxes that were marked with the Immortal Helix.
A knock was unexpectedly heard at the door, and Malva hurriedly hid the scroll. Marcus opened the door to find the innkeeper Kylen standing on the other side. He shared that he was about to close up but wanted to see if they needed anything first. Before sending him away with their assurances that they had no needs, Drakon asked if Kylen knew who may be hiring help for the party as he was available and would be glad to be of assistance. A bit surprised, Kylen shared that he was actually the one who hired workers. If Drakon would stop by and see him in the morning, he may actually have some a spot available that Drakon could be good for. Wishing them all a good night, Kylen retired for the evening.
As night settled in, the group dispersed to their own rooms. Malva returned to the scroll of sending, writing out a few of the symbols from the scroll the tiefling told Marcus to find, and asked Lord Hector if he recognized the symbols. Lord Hector responded that it was the Draconic language. Asking him if anyone in their party would be able to read the language, Lord Hector replied that both Drakon and Cyrek should be able to.
In his room, Marcus changed into a new costume composed of base armor, a dark cloak, and his lamb mask. Casting invisibility, he climbed out of his window into the dark night. Once he was safely out of the city and in the woods, Marcus removed his invisibility spell and the mask.
Meanwhile, back at the Silver Spoon, Percy sat in her room, her thoughts returning to the troubling discoveries made that day. She found rest to be an elusive companion as waves of confusion, anger and sadness washed over her. Suddenly she heard a knock at her window and warily walked over to see Ryo standing on the other side. Fists tightening at her side and her body and jaw instantly tense, Percy stood at the window, staring at Ryo. Ryo returned her stare, his eyes expressing sympathy, searching for any indication of how she would respond. Seconds passed feeling like hours till finally Percy moved from her frozen position and opened the door. Ryo’s shoulders slumped. Breaking his return stare, he looked down at the ground as a heavy sigh escaped. Looking back up at a rigid Persephone, he whispered in elfish, “Do you still trust me?” Quietly, attempting to keep her voice steady and reserved, Percy responded, “I don’t know if trust exists any longer between us. But for now, you are safe.” A silent moment passed between them broken when Ryo asked, “Do you have any questions?” Percy remained silent. “If you no longer wish me to be in this company, then I will disappear.” “I have no questions at this time, but perhaps in the future I will. I am sure you can understand my disorientation at this moment and give me space to process.” “I can. And I will endeavor to do all I can to make amends.” And with that, Ryo walked away again, only this time to break into his own room and return to the group.
At the same time, Marcus’s journey brought him back to where they had met with Herric earlier that morning. Arriving at what he knew to be the destination, he walked into the clearing only to be stopped in his tracks as he realized the cabin that had previously been in that exact location was now gone. Investigating the area, Marcus found nothing but a few footprints and was left with no other choice but to return to his room at the Silver Spoon.
As morning arrived the majority of the group congregated in the main room for breakfast. Marcus whispered to Percy’s mind that he went to Herric’s cabin during the night and it was gone. Attempting to show no concern, Persephone casually announced that Ryo had returned. Surprised, they all paused to turn to Percy and ask her where Ryo was, as he had not appeared yet for breakfast. Shrugging, she replied that she assumed he was still in his room. Marcus immediately left and walked with determination to Ryo’s room, barely waiting for a response to his curt knock, and found Ryo was indeed there. Walking past Marcus, Ryo joined the rest of the group. Marcus followed. An awkward silence filled the room till Ryo cleared his throat. “I apologize for my disappearance yesterday and for any concern it may have caused for your or my own well being. But I’m back and shall remain with you.” Looks of confusion crossed all faces except for Persephone who was in deep concentration, examining her breakfast. Half completed questions jumbled out as they all tried to make sense of the situation. Finally, someone managed to ask Ryo if he was going to tell them what happened and where he went. Ryo remained quiet for a moment, looked at Persephone and said “All I am willing to say is that it was something between Percy and myself. If she wishes to share more, that is up to her. But I have nothing else to say on the matter.” As it was apparent that no more was going to be said and that Persephone had no response, they returned to their meal, and began to plan for the day.
It was finally the day of the Dawnbreak Festival and they needed to figure out how the whole party would be able to attend. Drakon recalled Kylen’s invitation to speak to him that morning and made his way to the bar. After an enthusiastic display of his physical strength and dexterity, Kylen hired him as a bodyguard and gave him a key and floor guide for the Keep. Returning to the group, Drakon shared the information he had also received from Kylen about Celra Truebrew. Kylen had shared that he was actually familiar with the name, though neither he nor anyone else it seemed had actually met her. Rumor was that she was being groomed by Emperor Tiric to be the new governor of Dailyon, but who she was or what she looked like was a mystery. An idea began to form of disguising Persephone and having her go undercover as Celra Truebrew. Ryo would be her bodyguard. Since her arrival was later than expected, they would say she and her party were attacked on the road. The guards at the gates had warned of mischief on the roads, so a cover story such as that could be believable. Malva spoke up that they should check in with Lord Hector as they finalized their plans. She and Marcus needed to leave to practice with Kosopho, she said, so they needed to confirm plans before more of the day passed. Writing out a message to Lord Hector, Malva shared that Drakon now had a key and they planned to disguise Persephone. Drakon would unlock the door to the guard’s room and signal to Ryo who would sneak in to look for the boxes. Lord Hector responded, “Do not be alarmed” and within seconds a portal opened in the room and Miquesh and Lord Hector walked through.
Reviewing the plan, Lord Hector advised them to find out where Theycian’s room was located as quickly as possible, retrieve the boxes and return to the Silver Spoon in as inconspicuous a way as possible. Marcus, more than slightly annoyed by Lord Hector’s magical arrival, told Lord Hector that Herric’s cabin had disappeared last night. Lord Hector appeared perturbed, but did not linger on the news. He prepared to return back through the portal, but gave some last words of wisdom before departing. “Focus on what needs to be completed. And one last word of advice, it would be wise to not engage with the Wynrett’s. As much space as you can inconspicuously put between yourself and them this evening, the better.” With a final farewell he and Miquesh returned to Avalar through the portal.
Evening soon arrived and the group prepared for the party. Marcus created a human disguise for Persephone and Ryo, who acted as her bodyguard. Marcus also donned his Phillip Phelden costume. Drakon arrived and presented himself for duty and was stationed in a hallway to keep watch. Upon arrival, Marcus and Malva were quickly ushered to the stage along with their musical companion, Kosopho, who still appeared a bit uneasy with Phillip Phelden. Soon the trio’s melodious tunes filled the room. Cyrek also arrived and soon after Persephone as Celra Truebrew and Ryo made their appearance. Lord Moriar, Lady Lecell, High Priestess Calcima, and various others of high nobility and rank were mingling throughout the room. At different points in the evening, all but Persephone noticed that the Dark Stranger had also made an appearance at the night’s festivities. Soon after her arrival, Percy’s disguise was put to the test as Lord Moriar welcomed her to Eastaria but questioned her late arrival to his fair city. Percy shared a harrowing story of being stopped on the road by bandits, her small group of bodyguards being overthrown, her belongings ransacked and only she and one of her bodyguards being able to escape and arrive in Eastaria. She spoke of her exhaustion and hunger; she was still trying to shake off the distressing experience. Lord Moriar snapped his fingers, alerting his need to a nearby servant, and commanded him to get Celra some food and help her find a place to sit and recuperate. Percy thanked him and followed the servant to a seat, hoping her act had worked and she would no longer need to interact with Lord Moriar any further that evening. Hoping to fend off any other conversation, she asked the servant to bring her several drinks in an attempt to give the appearance of being a bit tipsy. Ryo followed closely behind, but looked around the room for Drakon till he spotted him and they nodded to each other, signaling the start of the evening’s investigation.
Cyrek walked around the room before making his way to Lord Moriar to say hello. Greeting Lord Moriar, he complimented him on an excellent party. Lord Moriar welcomed Cyrek and said to let him know if he needed anything. Spotting Prince Jovash, Cyrek started to walk towards him but stopped when he saw Lady Lecell talking to him.
While the party went on around him, Drakon kept an eye on the guards mingling throughout the room. Signaling to Ryo to wait, Drakon stepped away from his post to explore the hallway that Herric had told them lead to the guards room and Lord Moriar’s office. Finding what he thought to be the right door, he returned to his post, caught Ryo’s eye and waited till Ryo was able to make his way to the hallway, undetected. Looking around the room, making sure no one was watching him except Drakon, Ryo left his position at Persephone’s side and walked to the hallway. Drakon also looked around to see no one was watching, and followed, meeting Ryo in the hallway. Drakon motioned to Ryo to follow him and lead him to the door, unlocked it, closing it behind Ryo as he snuck into the room. Ryo quickly made his way to a large desk in the room and flipped through the papers on the desk, trying to find anything incriminating. He stopped as he caught Caulder’s name written on a piece of paper and read what appeared to be the start of a letter. “Caulder,” it read, “it has been 2 weeks since the last shipment. Please send word soon.” Folding the letter and putting it in a pocket, he looked around the room and spotted a door. He made his way to the door and tried to open it, but realized it was locked.
During this time, the others continued playing out their roles. Malva and Marcus entertained with Kosopho, Cyrek mingled and chatted his way through the room, and Percy attempted to hide from any possible guests. Her attempt failed as Priestess Calmel walked over to her. Inwardly groaning, Percy faked a smile as she greeted the Priestess who quickly turned their conversation to rumors she had heard that Celra was considering the Governor position of Dyrian. Cornered, Percy replied that she could neither confirm nor deny the rumors. Priestess Calmel walked away, a look of slight confusion on her face.
From the stage, Malva noticed a familiar face in the crowd. As soon as they took a break, she bee lined for the Dark Stranger who showed no surprise at Malva’s presence at his side. “Well, Malva, it has certainly been an interesting night.” “It’s not quite my typical group to play with,” responded Malva. Swirling the drink in his hand, he asked, “ Malva, tell me, do you aspire for greatness or are you content with staying at this level? Why don’t you explore that little power of yours?” “What if I don’t know how?” queried Malva. “I think there’s others in your party that can help you.”
Marcus, after watching Malva rush off the stage, decided to follow Malva, but was stopped in his attempt when a nicely dressed, elderly elf gentleman stepped into his path. “I did not catch your name,” he stated, “but I have been watching you. You are quite skilled. I am Cazimir Drandas. Where did you study music?” “In Stoloss,” Marcus replied, and tried to walk away. Putting up a hand to stop Marcus’s retreat, Cazimir pompously said. “I am trying to hire you, please treat me with respect. I am always looking for entertainment. My assistant Hakson will be in touch with details.” Signaling to a middle aged dark haired man with a very noticeable scar over his right, milky white eye, Cazimir walked away. Marcus introduced himself as Phillip Phelden to Hakson and decided to play along. He asked where Hakson was from to which he replied that he hailed from an estate up north to which Marcus replied that he came from Dalyion. Giving him a card, Hakson told Marcus that he should contact him. In his mind, Marcus heard a voice whisper in his head, “Power” it said. Marcus tried to walk away again, only this time he was stopped by an annoyed Lady Lecell. Marcus, wanting to get to Malva, told Lady Lecell he was sick and needed a few minutes. “I don’t care if you’re sick or not, we are paying you. Get back to that stage.” Marcus returned to the stage and was soon followed by Malva.
Back in the guard’s room, Ryo peaked out the door to signal to Drakon. Trying Drakon’s key on the door, they were disappointed to find it wouldn’t work. Recalling that he had noticed a key on Lord Moriar’s belt, he went out to the party and spread word to his companions that they needed a distraction to be able to retrieve the key. Percy, playing the role of a tipsy Celra, walked about the room while Malva and Marcus began to play a jaunty tune. Spotting Lord Moriar, Percy walked over adding a little trip and sway to her stroll. Bumping into him, she managed to snag the key off his belt and continued her unsteady saunter to Drakon, handing off the key. Drakon returned to Ryo who was waiting for him near the guards door, gave him him the key and stood guard. Ryo rushed to the locked door, tried the key and felt relief as the lock clicked and the door opened. Taking in the room, he saw a desk, and a suit of armor in the corner. Behind the desk a picture of Jon Wynrett hung on the wall next to a very expensive, red handled sword in a frame. A plaque on the frame titled the sword “ Diviner.” Tearing his eyes off the plaque, he went rummaging through the desk for the boxes. Their dangerous plan paid off when Ryo found not only the 2 boxes Lord Hector had told them about, but also incriminating letters from Priestess Calcima, and blueprints for the city of Avalar. Hiding the items in his cloak, Ryo locked the door behind him, told Drakon he found the items and returned to stand by Celra’s side. Throughout the evening, as he managed to encounter his companions, he whispered that their mission was complete and one by one, they made their escape from the party, making sure their departures were timely and unsuspicious.