Frontier Songs

Duel in the Castle

Session 16

The gang goes to Sodor! It’s an uneventful trip. The remnants of the city’s Pinnacle festival are all over the place still. We’re in the crafter’s district, near the north gate of the city. Herm, dressed like a tiny, foppish George Washington, is flipping coppers to kids and stuff.

The boulevard opens up to a plaza that’s used as a market. The market is busy enough, and the square is dominated by the temple we came to after our adventure with the Tomb of the Ashen Order – the Temple of Illumination. There’s also a big column with a statue of the Imperator, the last emperor of the Viridian Empire. The boulevard continues beyond that, and then there’s another wall, and the castle on a hill beyond. The lord inside is Lord Filbert Trunket.

The party decides to visit a tavern to get some intelligence on Lord Filbert before we go banging on his door. There’s the River Run, which is near the temple, Nesse goes behind her horse to change into her sundress and fancy underpants.

Inside the inn, a male halfling is behind the bar. There are halfling sized chairs and stuff for the patrons. The bartender is named Corby. We order. Corby knows of Lord Filbert, but he doesn’t come in much. He doesn’t spend much time in the marketplace at all – mostly he’s in the keep or in his town house. Corby suggests that like most nobility, Filbert can be a little stuffy, and we should feed his ego. The inn seems to be doing well; nothing here is cheap.

Issana goes to a dive bar and gets some talk going about the lord. He’s been absent a long time, it seems. The old guy she gets talking has family up in Orlane, and he never went there; just sent the taxman. Issana reports back. Maybe they can not mention that we’re the heroes of Orlane, or even mention that Orlane had heroes at all, and we can get a great deal on an inn!

Talhier suggests that we drag the lord through the mud, embarrass him, get him tossed into the street, and then get a deal on an inn from whomever is granted Trunket’s lands in his stead. Seems like a lot of work. But Baroness Falken Vacona is kind of Trunket’s boss, and Talhier wishes to speak to his manager.

We have a writ from Alderman Zacharias that is a petition to see the baroness. Talhier casts prestidigitation to get the dirt off of everyone Herm is like, “I’ll lead us!” and Talhier points out that it’s illegal to pose as a noble in many city-states. “What do you mean, ‘pose?’”

We approach the gates of the inner city. Herm does some nonsense with Minor Illusion to make trumpet and announcement sounds. Issana follows it up with a big fart noise. We present ourselves and our writ to the guards. They let us into the castle.

There are smithies and stables and towers and guards and all kinds of castle stuff. We get to the main gates of the citadel, where a runner has told them we’re coming. The steward makes a hand motion and the big doors open on a scene that’s like a fancy cocktail party. The caller announces us as “Lord Talhier Gladespring, Honored Eldest Blah Blah Blah…and retinue.” Then the people start schmoozing us.

We see someone we recognize: Flamewarden Draga, who was one of the clergy at the Temple of Illumination. Bingo is drawn to a small group of musicians. There are between eight and a dozen representatives of each power base: Church, merchants, nobles, etc. and they all have their own people. Their people are the ones approaching the party.

Talhier goes over to the Flamewarden, who recognizes him, even if he doesn’t remember his name. He’s wearing a familiar-looking sword, but Talhier can’t place where he’s seen it before. The Flamewarden reiterates that he’s in our debt. Talhier asks which one is Lord Trunket. The Flamewarden kind of pulls a face really quickly, but he points him out: He’s a young man of unremarkable looks, but extravagantly, expensively dressed. Big entourage, but they’re not mingling. Talhier asks how in favor Filbert is. The Flamewarden says Filbert is not much in favor, saying the family is on the decline. The baroness is good and fair as well, apparently.

There’s an older dwarf woman with a smaller retinue – Albina Thrift, a fairly prominent merchant who oversees commerce between here and points east. She probably has quite a network of information. She seems sharp, but she uses a cane, and her people wait on her carefully. She and Nesse hit it off.

We hear from around the room that there’s a lot of activity to the north, though there’s not a lot of talk about specifically what happened in Orlane. Herm talks to a gnome traveling with Albina about how everything east of Nineveh is fine, but if the trouble spreads into the plains and comes west, there could be trouble. There’s some kind of issue in the mountains with some kind of native population.

Talhier hears a similar story when talking to some of the nobles. There have been reports that there is some kind of tribal war going on in the Warwood mountains near Forum far to the east. For the last several months, there have been fewer reports of raids, but there have still been reports of fighting in the mountains. Some count it as a blessing, but others worry about some kind of consolidation of the savage races.

Trunket wanders into the conversation with Talhier. He’s ill-mannered and blustery. Talhier excuses himself. Bingo tries for gossip among the musicians. He hears bits of the same stuff. One of the musicians had just passed through Orlane during the festival. None of them is affiliated with Trunket. The harpist says that family hasn’t kept a bard in years and that Lord Filbert doesn’t look like he’ll change that tradition.

Talhier greets the baroness. She nails the bow – all the nuances are there. Talhier says, “We’ve come from Orlane. We hoped to come in time to rescue the Lord Trunket.” The baroness is confused. Talhier feigns surprise. We’ve come from Orlane where we’ve saved the town from a cult that’s been in charge more than a year. And since only a coward would have allowed this to go on for so long, we assumed he must have been abducted.

The baroness asks what Filbert has to say. Trunket is livid. He says the people had not reached out to him. But he hasn’t visited his lands in more than a year? What the hell? The baroness says she has a writ from the alderman of Orlane backing up everything Talhier is saying, and that we are badasses who put Orlane to rights. We must drink to the nobility of the Silveroak Regency!

Trunket is soooooo mad. People come around and want to hear about our great adventure. Bingo has some songs – basically a concept album about us being awesome. There’s huge applause when he’s done. Trunket is still fuming and getting his people together to get the hell out.

Talhier: Leaving so soon? You don’t want to hear how these heroes saved your lands? You seem more angry than shocked.

Trunket says it should have been him and his companions who rid the town of the evil. Talhier’s like, so we agree. They get snippy about serving the people some more. Trunket is getting ready to challenge Talhier to a — Bingo: “You mean like a duel?” Yes. Just like that. Talhier gets really aggressive. Bluff called, Trunket has to fight now. The baroness is into it.

An area clears, and the rules of engagement are read. The parties’ retinues are not to be involved. There’s betting going on. The captain of the guard starts the fight, and initiative is rolled. Talhier kind of accidentally mostly kills him in two hits. Trunket’s retinue bum-rushes Talhier, and the rest of the party is now in initiative. Issana picks up Trunket’s rapier and holds the biggest one at rapier-point under the chin. He tries to attack her anyway and misses. Two guys dogpile Talhier. Another one flails at Nesse. Issana gets an attack on the guy who flailed at her, and she skewers his neck, because she tried to play nice and he declined. Bingo tries to cast suggestion, but fails, but the guy thinks getting out of town is pretty good advice anyway, He is tackled by four guards as he tries to leave. Nesse focuses Scorching Ray on the two guys who are left. As quickly as it began, it’s over.

The baroness orders everything cleaned up and finds in favor of Talhier Longtitle Blah Blah and suggests everyone adjourn for the day. The people begin streaming out. The baroness asks for a word with the party in a back study. She enjoyed seeing Trunket knocked out, but it was more excitement than she was expecting. But they were the ones who broke the code – it’s on them. She agrees that the people of Orlane deserve better. The Trunket line has gone to seed and new leadership is needed to administer the lands.

She would offer the lands to Talhier if he weren’t a foreign lord. She will take over the lands, and appoint Talhier as administrator. The money from the lands around Orlane will mostly go to the barony, but Talhier is acting steward of the town of Orlane and its surrounds.

He will be even more insufferable after this.

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Kroy

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