Session One Hundred Thirty-Six - February 4, 2017

Wherein the ongoing story of the FtF campaign may be found ...

Session One Hundred Thirty-Six - February 4, 2017

Postby Matt » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:44 pm

Halane 15, 732

The Queen’s body falls to the ground. The room is silent for only a heartbeat then pandemonium breaks out. The guards near the dais swing the flats of their swords and bring the assassin to the ground in a bloody, but still breathing, heap. Through the yelling and the screams of the nobles, Harapa Indama’s staff can be heard banging on the floor. “Order! Order!” The Bishop Dariune waits until it is nearly quiet before beginning to speak.

“Thank you Lord Chamberlain. Guards, take this … this … down to the dungeon. Lord Firith, this may presage a wider problem: secure the city.”

Thinking a moment, Orsin Firith nods, “Agreed. It shall be done.” He strides out of the Great Hall, issuing orders to those guards not escorting the prisoner downstairs.

The Bishop continues, “Milords and ladies, I ask that we clear the hall so that the Queen may be taken out with dignity.”

As the court moves to leave the hall, Ewen speaks to Balim, “My lord, the peers should be present to witness the interrogation.”

Balim nods, “Lord Chamberlain …”

“Full report will be made,” Harapa snaps, anticipating the request. “Ye peers of the council, please attend at nine tomorrow morning.”

Balim turns back to Ewen, “Nonetheless, I would hear your thoughts my lord Ternua, if not here then perhaps later.”

“I am taking this all in; I am but in shock.”

“Later then. Galopea’s Feast the 9th hour from noon.”

Ewen nods.

Meden passes by, “Well, that should be interesting.”


On the walk back to Raven Hall, they see evidence that Orsin wasted no time. The city patrols are out in force and by all appearances the city seems secure. Baris walks beside Ewen, “Should I get our men mobile? You are not always the most popular man … I would have us be prepared.”

“My men are always ready, but feel free to post men outside. Go get Sir Ritzar.” Ewen replies.

At Raven Hall Ewen is informed by Walin that a few servants of Lady Cheselyne stopped by and were hoping that he might stand and protect her ladyship and her house. Ewen tells Baris to post two guards in front of the Lady Cheselyne’s house.

Baris speaks to the men at arms before heading next door to the dwarf’s house. He pounds on the door and hears barking from within. “Sir Ritzar! It is I, Sir Baris!” He hears more barking.

Gevel opens the door and peers at the burly knight. “Next door, right?”

“Yes, it is good to meet you sir. I am looking for Sir Ritzar.”

“I’ll tell him.” Gevel says and closes the door on Sir Baris.

Baris shrugs, thinking he’s never met a dwarf with manners, and makes his way back to the Elf and Dwarf to get his armor. He returns, fully arrayed cap-a-pie, though Ewen and Aeomund, as well as the men at arms, remain in their normal leather armor. When Sir Ritzar arrives he is told that his liege lord has need of him and is brought up to speed on the current events.


Later that evening Ewen, Baris, and Aeomund walk the short distance to Galopea’s Feast. It is filled to the rafters with guildmasters and the like downstairs and nearly as full upstairs with the nobles and knights in the city, although there is no sign of Meden Curo.

Prehil sees Ewen and company walk into the room and calls them over to his portion of the table.

“Prehil, what the hell is going on?” Ewen asks, not truly expecting an answer.

Prehil about to respond, notices that Baris is in full armor holding a helmet that mostly looks like a boar’s head, “Baris! What the fuck are you supposed to be?”

“Prepared!” Baris answers confidently.

“Prepared? For what? The Vikings? You better stay out here with me.” Prehil gestures to the room behind him, “Father’s in there with Balim, waiting for you.”

Ewen enters the room and sees Balim seated and Firith pacing about. “About time you got here. Close the door.”

“Ignore him, he is in his element,” Balim says nodding to Ewen to take a seat.

“It does seem to be a state of emergency out there,” Ewen replies.

“We can do nothing about that at the moment. I asked you here because we have not discussed a matter to date. I would like to know where you stand on a delicate matter.”

Ewen gives a short laugh.

“I understand. With the Queen’s death, Prince Brandis unsuitable, his siblings dead, and the King quite clearly incapacitated, there will be whispers we need a new monarch.”

“Is the King always like that?” Ewen asks.

Balim nods, “And getting worse. Where would you stand on that Lord Ternua?”

Firith, pauses in his pacing, standing behind Balim and gives Ewen a look.

“A strong hand is needed. Is the prince truly unsuitable?” Ewen stalls.

“He will no longer be accepted by the peers … or the people, not that they matter except if they manage to work up to a rebellion.”

“With no other suitable suggestions from that family, whom do you have in mind?”

“I have not allowed myself to think of it. It is bordering on treason. I will say this, remove me and my family from the line. There are several other Elendsas, Orsin for one, who are suitable. This includes the King’s brothers and sister. The brothers are both Peonian priests and are older with no heirs. Princess Udine does have heirs, and of course there are other branches. I am not putting forth a candidate mind you, I am merely talking. Of course, hypothetically, would you support this?”

“It is a grave matter, Lord Balim, and if I may be frank here, I would prefer to hear Lord Firith’s thoughts on the matter first.”

“I won’t take the crown,” Orsin says curtly.

“Given what I saw, I never thought I would say this,” Ewen pauses as if a great weight rests on his shoulders and is gradually being lifted as he shares his concerns with other peers, “I would join in the council with the other lords in removing the King from the heavy burden of the Crown.”

Balim, with a slight smile, nods, “Did you think when you got here two years ago that you would be making such a decision?”

Ewen looks Balim right in the eye, “Never dreamed of it.”


Baris and Aeomund drink with Prehil and listen to the speculation running through the entire tavern. The assassin is either crazy or was richly paid or both. The odds are 9-1 that a Harabor is behind it. Baris thinks if he should start adding to the rumors, but the more he listens the more he realizes that people are doing a fine job of making things up without any extra help.


Arva, while the knights are out, goes out to play her lute and listens to the gossip a bit farther down the social ladder. The rumors and stories she hears get wilder and more outlandish the farther down that ladder she goes. She hears that ‘Balim did it,’ ‘the King’s not really mad, but is merely weak with the wound and is in fact a prisoner in the castle.’ As she moves from tavern to tavern playing and listening, she notes several mounted patrols and a couple of foot ones. As she is used to the areas of Coranan and Golotha, this is not really all that unusual to her.


Halane 16, 732

The day dawns cold and overcast. The servants filling a chill, put an extra log in the fireplaces. After discussing the rumors and stories everyone heard during their night out, Arva heads out shopping for a dress or two as she will most likely be attending more upper society events. Her purchases will come to 360d – a fair day’s work. Baris decides to go visit Marhet for advice about the salt mines. Ewen enjoys the silence of his study before the council meeting.


Once again, Baris is greeted by the housekeeper at Marhet’s place of business. She continues to offer Baris food and ale, all of which he happily accepts. Baris is shown into Marhet’s office and Baris wastes no time telling Marhet all the details that Baris can remember of this salt mining deal.

Marhet asks Baris a great number of questions about where the salt is located. Once he finds out that the salt is underground in a mine, he has the sad duty of informing Baris that the salt does not belong to him, it belongs to the King.

“Why? It is on my land.”

“Yes, but all mineral rights belong to the Crown.”

“Are you saying salt is a mineral?”

“A crystal, technically, but yes.”

“A crystal, you mean I could wear it?”

“All crystals are minerals and all belong to the Crown. I imagine this fellow you spoke to was looking for some money to get the mine started.”

“Are you saying he was trying to con me?” Baris asks “You know what I am going to do when he comes back?”

“I can think of three things you could do,” Marhet begins …

Before he can expand, Baris exclaims, “I am going to punch him!”

“That is one thing. The second is to eject him from your establishment, and the third is to turn him over to the inquisitor general. I recommend option two with a bit of your first option.” Marhet smiles.

Baris stands and thanks Marhet for his excellent advice. Baris leaves and heads to the Elf and Dwarf to wait for the return of Kalis. Baris wonders if Kalas will actually return, but then realizes it doesn’t matter, he will wait and if he shows up …


Ewen leaves for the council meeting taking with him Aeomund, Goreg, a couple of men at arms for show, and Cekiya. Ewen leaves his entourage with the others in a room below the council room. In a rare turn of events, Ewen is not asked to surrender his sword before continuing on.

In the council chamber, he finds two new faces, Prince Korwyn Elendsa and Astaroc. Ewen nods to the aged fellow, a motion that does not go unnoticed by Gorbar. He whispers loudly to Ewen, “Who is this man and what is he doing here?”

Harapa answers Gorbar’s question, whether or not intentionally is another question, “Astaroc has been asked to be present to stand in for the Elendsa vote as the eldest living member of the clan.” Harapa pauses, forming his next words.

“Well he certainly looks very old,” Gorbar says suspiciously.

“Do not speak like I’m not here young man!”

“Sorry.”

“Well, get on with it Harapa,” Astaroc speaks not caring for the delicacy of politics.

“While it has not always been Royal policy to recognize Astaroc, doing so today is due to extraordinary circumstances. Suffice to say Master Astaroc is the grandson of King Haldan I. Prince Korwyn is not present to vote but is here as the Lord Privy Seal. Any decisions by this council will so be sealed,” Harapa says, and then nods to Balim.

“My lords, before we commence, Harapa please report on the interrogation of the assassin.”

“He claims his name is Balis and I do not believe he is a Peonian despite protestations up until the end to that effect. The Sulaplyn had never seen him before.

“At first and for a while he proclaimed Peoni required the Queen’s death so she could be with Peoni. Eventually, he did implicate one Sir Chadrin Benere, who is now in custody. He is a known associate of the former Earl of Osel. Under further questioning we received more details. He explained it fourteen different ways before we came to believe we had put together what happened. An unknown person was the contact between Chadrin and Balis, although how Balis knew about Chadrin is a mystery. Possibly the contact was sloppy and revealed his name.

“It is a clear trail that leads to either Harabors. Lord Firith plans to dispatch a force to Qualdris to take both into custody for a trial. Balis will be executed immediately.”

“Indeed, we all saw the event, but Sir Harapa, how was he employed here and able to get access to the Queen?” Ewen asks.

“Good question. We believe that this unknown middle person was involved. Balis has a distinct or had a distinct appearance before the event. The staff has been questioned and no one recognized him. So a middle man is responsible and all that implies, my lord.”

“It is a grave concern,” Ewen responds.

“Indeed that is why you are all allowed to be here and armed. You all need to be in a position to thwart further attempts.”

“Any more questions?” Balim asks.

“Where is Benere now?” Arlbis asks.

“He is a guest of the Crown in a cell beneath us. There has been no time to seek answers yet as he was arrested early this morning. We are hopeful that he will be helpful this afternoon. He is a knight of Chybisa,” Harapa concludes.

After a brief moment, Balim becomes satisfied that there are no more immediate questions and begins, “My lords, a terrible duty has fallen on our shoulders. We must, in the wake of the loss of the Queen, decide the future of our kingdom, which is at this moment without a head …” Balim pauses. “Our beloved King lives and reigns but is, as we all saw demonstrated yesterday, unfit to rule. It is to be greatly lamented. I have met with and asked all of you the question to put to vote. It is to your credit that you are all are willing to put the needs of the kingdom first. No one has greater respect or regard for the King than I. He is my kinsman as well, and it pleased me for many years …” Balim continues in this vein for awhile. Ewen glances around and see that all eyes are on Balim and no one has smiled at all – the somber business before them appreciated by each person.

“At this time I believe it is premature to propose a succession candidate and it is a separate issue than this. We must vote on removing the heavy burden of the Crown from the King,” Balim begins to wind down.

Meden coughs.

“Sir Meden?” Balim asks, recognizing the discreet interruption.

“What I want to say, no, what I must say is that it is not possible to separate two critical issues. If we are to remove such a heavy burden, we must have an idea of where to place that same burden.”

“I think, for the time being, the council will hold the royal prerogative. We can request a specific date for the Elendsa council to be convened to elect a clanhead and in turn be the next monarch.”

“My Lord of Balim, you don’t expect us to agree, do you? Asking us in our duty as councilors and tenants-in-chief, by my count most of us in this room would have no vote. Astaroc would be casting a vote for the first time ever.”

“Watch your mouth,” Astaroc growls.

“You will have to put that to vote and I will vote against it and every non-Elendsa would do so as well.”

Balim look around the room, “Then I call that to be the first vote. Harapa?”

Harapa calls for a vote. It goes as expected with Astaroc and Balim voting ‘yea’ and Meden and the Archbishop voting ‘nay.’ Then the vote comes to Orsin Firith.

“My lord of Balim, your proposal is appropriate, however despite my own status as a member of Clan Elendsa, I cannot countenance an act like this. By disenfranchising the peers of the realm we would force them to take heed of their own counsel and such results may not be all we could wish for. Had those members of this council voted in favor so would of I, as it is, I vote ‘Nay.’”

The rest of the council votes ‘Nay.’

Balim stands, “With regret, I accept the results of the council. Sir Meden’s proposal has carried and Lord Orsin, about your statement, which was indeed eloquent, you are correct cousin.

“I propose we return to the original idea and split the vote – vesting royal prerogative in this council until we determine who is suited to sit on the throne.”

“My lord of Balim, may we understand what time frame you have in mind?” Meden asks.

Balim looks thoughtful, “I don’t know Sir Meden, what is reasonable to you?”

Meden doesn’t know either.

Balim looks around the room, “How does three months sound?”

“THREE MONTHS without a king!?! Balderdash!” exclaims Orsin.

“Perhaps you are right, that is a bit too long. Perhaps we could wind this up by the end of the year?” Balim says calmly as if discussing the details of a tournament instead of replacing a monarch.

“Awfully close to three months.” Firith says.

“Perhaps, today is the 16th, so thirty days less one, Savor 15th,” Balim counters.

“Sounds good. The Heralds will need time to research.”

A vote is taken and all agree.

“Which brings us to the most distressing time of day. My sad duty to propose we relieve our liege lord, his grace, King Haldan, third of that name, of the heavy burden of the Crown. That we keep it in our custody until such time as a lawful successor may be named, and to provide for said King’s well-being for the rest of his life. My lords, a yes vote means to depose the King.” Balim bows his head as Harapa begins the roll.

“Astaroc?”

“Why do I have to lead off a vote when I have had nothing to do with politics for my entire life?” Astaroc grumbles.

“You agreed,” Balim counters.

“I wanted a seat at the table for the food, and there is not even a seed cake, Troda.”

“If I get you seed cake, will you vote?”

“I might.”

“Harapa,” Balim asks, voice slightly strangled.

Harapa leaves the room without ceremony and returns shortly with a bread that has a few seeds sprinkled on it. Astaroc spends another few minutes arguing about that fact that bread is not cake and that is really a pathetic attempt at seed cake. Harapa informs him that this is what the kitchen had. They are not baking cake the day after the Queen was murdered. Astaroc finally relents and votes. The entire vote is unanimously ‘Yea.’

“The motion carries. We are without a king. The Royal Prerogative is in our care.” Balim says.

“Point of order Lord Balim.” Ewen speaks.

Balim indicates for the Lord of Ternua to continue.

“As a council we took a dreaded step, but I would point out that we are no longer a council of the king’s peers, as we have no king. That being the case, I move that it is this council as presently constituted which has taken on the burden – must remain as it is, with no additions.”

“And no substitutions,” Meden adds to Ewen’s request.

Ewen nods, “We have taken this on our conscience, and no one else’s.”

“It is not necessary, but I second that,” Meden says.
Balim nods as well. A vote is taken and that too passes unanimously.

“The question becomes, how shall we rule the kingdom and how shall we determine the next monarch. I suggest we split into groups for that purpose.

“Three shall take on the day to day ruling. It makes sense that Harapa and I be two, as that is our role generally. I suggest Lord Firith as the third and current Lord Marshall. The greater questions can be put to the entire council, if we meet every five days.

“Three shall deliberate on who should be the next monarch, I propose the Archbishop, Meden Curo, and Astaroc – representing the church, the peerage, and the Elendsas.”

Meden speaks. “I have one small objection, if we are to have such a group looking for the candidate, that the group should report to the full council at ten day intervals. Would you be reporting two or three times?”

“Three with the third being the final day of our timeline and the unhappy victim to be informed.”

Meden smirks.

“I suggest that issues that require royal assent such as war, bills of attainder, and the like, can only be decide by the full council.” Ewen adds.

“Fair point,” Balim agrees, “if there are no more points or objections …?”

A vote is made and it passes nine to zero.

Harapa stands, “If there are no other items of business, the council will adjourn. Lord Balim?”

“No reason to reconvene until the 21st, five days hence.” Balim says.

As they all leave the council chamber, Lord Firith tells Ewen that if he has no objection he will stop by this evening to talk. Ewen has no objections to either or both Firiths stopping by at any time.


Later that evening, as promised, Orsin Firith arrives at Raven Hall.

“I assumed you will want some of your people to be involved. I have brought Prehil. If not they can all sit elsewhere.”

“Aeomund will join us,” Ewen replies.

Orsin looks around the hall and looks at Ewen, “Can we move to a more private place?”

“Of course, I assume my study is still an acceptable place to talk. I have had brandy already set out,” Ewen replies.

“Yes, Astaroc’s old study. It didn’t register before, but now that he is back … Are you sure there is nothing witchy going on up there?” Orsin asks as the knights and lords move up the stairs.

“I am not aware of any, but then again I am not an expert on any witchy business.”

“Fair enough.”

Once in the study, Ewen pours the brandy. Orsin paces back and forth, glancing at Ewen and Aeomund. “He knows everything right?” Orsin finally asks, looking at Ewen and gesturing at Aeomund.

“Yes.”

“And some stuff I don’t want to know,” Aeomund mutters under his breath, not quite quiet enough to go unnoticed.

Orsin nods, “I will be blunt then. I don’t know what happened today. I am not sure who came out on top – Meden or Balim. Those two factions are rocks you and I are caught between.”

“Balim’s initial designs were not achieved,” Ewen points out.

Orsin snorts, “It would have been brilliant if he had gotten it through. It is was just the wrong thing to do. It would of guaranteed a civil war if the Elendsas alone would have chosen a new monarch. We need to move forward together. Balim’s ego will get him nowhere with this group. He has been too long in pulling the strings for just one man, a man with similar goals to his own.”

“I find it interesting that Balim has already dispersed any mentioning of the Prince – he lives and is the natural line of succession.”

“Eh, he is keeping his options open.”

“If Prince Brandis is deprived of the throne, then he will have to be killed or banished,” Ewen persists.

“Yes. I don’t want to be a part of that. The problem that you and I have is squaring all of this with Meden’s plans.” Orsin says as he begins to pace again.

“At least he is sharing his plans now.” Aeomund adds.

“I was not prepared for Astaroc to be in the council today,” Ewen says.

“I didn’t know he was related to … well, me. But this explains why Cheselyne always invited him. I wonder if she can’t be more of an asset for us. We are caught on the horns of a dilemma – Balim, cousin Troda, clearly wants another Elendsa monarch; Curo wants himself. I wonder if bringing in Astaroc wasn’t a mistake?” Orsin says, and stops his pacing.

“Lady Cheselyne’s plan of marrying her daughter off may have put her in a compromising situation.”

“I wonder what would of happened if Maldan hadn’t lost his head,” Orsin muses.

“Then perhaps, Meden wouldn’t be using the Harabor mistakes as cover for his activities,” Ewen says as he refreshes his brandy.

“What do you mean?”

“Surely you must think that the whole Harabor putting a servant unnoticed in the king’s household story is a bit suspect?”

Orsin stands quickly and begins to pace again, “You mean to say that you think that Meden was behind the assassination of the Queen? You think he is twisty enough to do so?”

“I think he is capable. Just who is supposed to be watching the king, and let him escape, during a noble banquet, no less … Kytem’s job isn’t it?”

“He has escaped before,” Orsin replies warily.

Prehil speaks for the first time, “Father, we must be sure of our position.”

Orsin nods, “This is suggesting a far-ranging conspiracy amongst the Curos to undermine the monarchy, and not as he presented to us, not as a solution to a situation, but a stepping into a void, a void HE CREATED!!! Is that what you are saying?”

“Yes. Mind you Orsin, this is nothing that Meden has confessed or hinted at, just my thought of what happened.” Ewen replies mildly.

“Prehil, what is your judgment my son?”

Prehil shrugs, “I see it this way father, I have looked in the eyes of both men but only one have I crossed lances with. If I had to trust but one of them, My Lord of Ternua is whom I trust.”

“Thank you Prehil,” Ewen says bowing his head.

Orsin looks back and forth between Prehil and Ewen, and shakes his head, “I’m … this is not my arena. If Meden has committed treason then so have we all. Depriving Haldan of the crown was the right thing to do but I’m no longer certain Meden is the right answer. In fact I am certain that Meden is not the right answer.”

“Are you reconsidering declining the crown?” Aeomund asks, almost hopefully.

“No, but I don’t want Meden to be king. I am not sure I ever did.”

“A reluctant king would make a good king.”

“No, I am a solider,” Orsin responds, “Ewen, you are quiet.”

“There is much to contemplate. I do know this – Curo is not responsible for the king’s illness. That was the Viking arrow and a lingering wound.” As if on cue, Baris enters at that mention of Vikings.

“Yes, a telling blow struck against us.” Orsin replies nodding in acknowledgment of Baris entering.

“We need a strong leader to steer the kingdom in what could be very difficult even tumultuous years ahead. I think it is difficult to think of a candidate.”

Orsin at last smiles, “That may be not be so. The Elendsa bench is deeper than Meden knows.”

“Even with Brandis not considered because of the fratricide?” Baris asks.

Ewen laughs, “The King of Tharda is a fratricide.”

“What?” Orsin exclaims.

“He slew his younger brother in combat. Prince Arabar contested King Arren II’s right to the throne,” Ewen explains.

“I thought that was his cousin …” Orsin replies.

“Perhaps a ceremony to lift the stain in some legal or religious setting. Have the Archbishop formally forgive him,” Baris offers.

“You mean the same Archbishop that is helping to put Meden on the throne?” Aeomund replies.

“Plus, Meden has Brandis,” Ewen says. “At Setrew.”

“Do you believe that?” Orsin snorts. “The Baron of Setrew is very unreliable man.”

“Then it becomes preeminent we find Prince Brandis.”

“He is in either one of two places – the afterlife or Gardiren.”

“Meden will make it very clear if he is dead so that there be no pretenders. I say it again, we are in a difficult position. Events have moved beyond the initial support we offered.”

“I will ask you, Ewen, what Balim asked. And I need an answer. Who should sit upon the throne, another Elendsa or someone else?” Orsin asks.

Ewen pauses a long moment, starring off into the fire. “I don’t have an answer for that. I wish I did.”

“I ask you this, you and I have both worked with Meden, you and I are more interested in the good of the kingdom than Meden, I used to think that Meden was good for the kingdom – what is your thought on Meden?”

“That goes back to who sits on the throne. I don’t like his methodology, but if he is the strongest candidate, then I would set scruples aside and give Meden the crown.” Ewen replies. “But I will not confuse his method versus his fitness to be a king.”

“I am in agreement. Let us leave it there for the evening,” Orsin says as he finishes his glass. He motions to Prehil to finish as well, but Prehil indicates that he would prefer to stay and go over a few pints with Baris.

“Do you require an escort home, Lord Firith?” Aeomund asks.

“No, I have my men outside. You were always a good lad and now a puissant knight.” Orsin departs down the stairs and into the night.
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Matt
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