Zeitgeist

Book 1 Denouement

The constables get precious few answers.

After returning from their assault on Lorcan Kell, Lya and Qiyet were in need of medical attention – the Duke of Slaughter had taken out an eye from each of them! Luckily, this sort of injury was covered by the RHC field agent’s health plan, and a druid was quickly called in to regenerate their lost oculars. Kida opted for a prosthetic that was enchanted with a continual flame, while Qiyet decided to have a totally new eye of a different color regrown into the empty socket.

First up on the constables’ to-do list was to interview the pair of constructs acquired from the destroyed Ob facility: Colin and Linus. Much of what they had to say was already known to the constables, but they did fill in many details. Some of the highlights included…

  • Their bodies were jointly made by Alexander Grappa and a gnomish inventor named Tinker Oddcog. After being built, the Mindmaker (Grappa) imbued their specially-prepared craniums with infantile personalities, but able to learn and mature at accelerated rates.
  • Colin was the oldest of the golems (around 5 years old), and Borne was the youngest. They were raised by Grappa and Kasvarina Varal, who the party saw escaping with her husband, Asrabey Varal. They were primarily taught history, art, and philosophy; they were never trained for combat (and indeed, the golems have few innate offensive abilities besides their brute strength). Borne also received side lessons from Kasvarina on the nature of the planes.
  • After showing “promise,” Borne’s consciousness was transferred into the colossus, and his old body was scrapped. The transfer was successful, and both his so-called mother and father conversed with him while technicians and artisans put the finishing touches on his body. He was kept restrained during this lengthy process, since even the most minute movements of his new 300-foot tall form could shake the whole facility.
  • Shortly after Borne was transferred, Grappa disappeared from the facility, and Borne reverted to an infant level of intellect. Kasvarina wasn’t seen again by Colin and Linus, and stayed shut up in her room for months.

Following this information, the two apologized for attacking the party, and for their small part in aiding the Obscurati—who they admit perhaps weren’t cluing the constructs in to their more sinister goals. They have now been inducted into the Anti-Ob task force.

Next came an interrogation of much greater significance: Lya Jierre. The RHC’s security protocols had undergone significant revision after the last fiasco or two in Flint, and the Minister of Outisders was brought into an interrogation room in mage-cuffs and prison scrubs, as a thorough search of her person revealed that even her clothes held minor contingent enchantments upon them. Kida insisted on locking the door with a nail of sealing.

Talon and Qiyet were present to question her, with Lya’s fellow Martial Scientist strapping the tielfling’s own sword to her hip. Lya nonchalantly ignored most of the questions asked of her, adding, “Surely you must know how this works by now. I’m under a geas, so no matter what you say, I can’t tell you anything important.”

She turned to Qiyet after a fashion, asking her why a scholarly woman such as herself was wasting her time with the RHC, and dropping not-so-subtle hints for Qiyet to think about changing sides.

Qiyet stonewalled her rival, staring back at her in annoyed silence. Seeing no other way to break through to her, Lya left Qiyet with a proposition to think on…

“What would the world be like if everyone agreed with you?”

Cryptic sentences aside, Lya wasn’t good for much intel beyond that pittance. Talon wanted one last go at her, though, and pressed her on why she—a government official sworn to help her people, and poised to promote peace with Risur—was willing to help the Obscurati, who had already killed dozens, if not hundreds, and irreparably damaged any efforts at peace.

“Sometimes, people have to die for the greater good,” Lya said casually.

Talon shook his head. “I don’t think you really believe that.”

“Oh?” Lya asked, raising a brow. “Why?”

“Because ‘One Betters All’,” Talon answered, leaving the room and ordering the tiefling back to her cell. Lya allowed a smile to cross her lips, impressed at Talon’s insight at quoting the inscription on her Obscurati ring.

One week later…

King Aodhan makes a public announcement. Using any and all news outlets that will hear him, he spreads word across the nation and all of Lanjyr that the colossus attack on Flint was the work of a conspiracy, of which Lya Jierre was a high-ranking member. Overnight, the word “Obscurati” changes from an enigmatic rarity to a household word. Over the coming weeks and months, Risuri citizens start to come forward of their own volition, bringing more and more evidence of the conspiracy’s minor operations. Smuggling rings, research labs, and illegal adamantine mines are shut down, and some ring-bearing individuals are even taken into custody, with leniency given to those who stepped forward while claiming ignorance that they were working against the crown.

News filters in from overseas that Danor is cracking down on broadsheet journalism, censoring published stories of conspiracy theories linking Danor to the colossus or posing dangerous questions as to the nature of Sovereign Han Jierre’s involvment in the group, if any. Tension mounts as writers are thrown into oubliettes, and rumors of coming riots in Cherage start to brew.

For all this, Risur’s spies have no solid reason (yet) to believe that Han has anything to do with the Ob; his only public words on the matter have been to denounce the actions of the Obscurati, and to apologize for the traitorous behavior of his niece, Lya. Privately, he sends a letter to Aodhan, which he shares with Harkover Lee, Delft, and the party. In it, he gives Risur permission to execute Lya Jierre on Risuri soil, fearing that while she lives, there can never be peace between the two countries.

Aodhan leaves the decision of how to handle Lya to the constables (though it can wait until the end of Chapter 6). Templeton has cautioned against killing her out of hand, citing the suicide of former Nettles Mayor Reed Macbannin, who bashed his own head in while sitting in a supposedly impenetrable cell. Reed’s spirit was absent from the scene of his body’s death, according to Gaethan Kirkland, and so the RHC gunsmith now fears that he has been somehow remotely raised, and still serves the Ob’s goals.

Two weeks after the Colossus incident…

The constables were pulled from their ill-gratifying work of sifting through all the evidence that has been continually emerging since the king’s announcement; one of Templeton’s new squad members reported that some sort of fey visitor requested an audience with the constables on the deck of their new (and still under-construction) ship.

Sufficiently wary of messengers from the dreaming after the fiasco with Ekossigan, the party geared up and headed to Bosom Strand, where they beheld a teal-skinned humanoid with tentacle-hair awaiting them with crossed arms, while fish thrashed anxiously in the water around the half-built vessel. She introduced herself as Beshela of the Sea, steward of She Who Writhes.

Kida swore under her breath.

Beshela was relatively well-known in Risur. A powerful archfey, she collected tribute on behalf of her Titan mistress, and ships passed through the Avery Sea only with her permission. Local rumor told that she struck an accord with Ethelyn Lesterman, the king’s sister, and so Risur had enjoyed safer waters in recent years.

She greeted the party and expressed her gratitude in coming to her with news of the Colossus—the battle between it and the Titan yet raged on. She reminded them that Ethelyn tried to kill her brother because she foresaw the creeping influence of a shadowy conspiracy around Aodhan’s rule, and she hoped to carry on the fight against the Ob with the kingdom’s new heroes. As a token of this alliance, she gifted the party’s ship with a fey portal pad.

Interrupting this show of good will, there came a boisterous chorus of a hundred or so voices, singing one of Rock Rackus’ classics about how he cuckolded the fey king. Sure enough, Rock himself led the crowd of dockers, and invited himself into the conversation while the crowd looked on, claiming that Talon had asked him to come here today. Talon claimed to have done no such thing.

While trying to sort out the confusion, murmurs began among the crowd, which quickly turned to shouts and outcries…

“Hey, who’s that blue chick on the boat?”
“I heard some kind of blue faerie helped the Duchess. I bet that’s her!”
“Hey, she sank my ship!”
“Constables, arrest her!”
“Arrest her? Kill the bitch!”

The crowd started to nod along to the handful of protesters in their midst, and a riot began to brew. Qiyet tried to bring them into order, but as she shouted for people to keep their distance, she realized she couldn’t pick out where the voices seeding the dissent were coming from. Some illusionist or invisible creature was artificially inciting this anger in the crowd. “Show yourself, coward!” she cried.

“Turn around and face me,” replied Lya Jierre, in her Danoran accent. Except… Lya had no accent. She spoke Primordial flawlessly.

It turned out the impostor was merely Copperhat the Headless, a fey with whom Talon had met earlier, who had cautioned the warden that Asrabey was coming to Flint with a hidden agenda. Since his warning had panned out, Talon was inclined to believe Copperhat’s next advisement—that Beshela was trying to kill them. This fit with Kida’s instinct about the situation, given what she knew about the aquatic archfey’s disposition with mortals.

Qiyet didn’t trust him for a moment, pinning him to the dock with a speed that even the Court’s slippery jester couldn’t outpace! Eventually, Talon convinced her to release him, and he seemed not to blame the ranger for her actions, though Beshela was now far from pleased.

Once the curse on the portal pad had been found out, she grew furious, calling the constables “bird-voiced singers,” and “servants of shadow and steam.” She outright accused them of aiding the Obscurati, citing the induced struggle between the Colossus and She Who Writhes as an attempt to destroy the Titan and throw both Risur and the Dreaming into upheaval, all the better to let the Ob plan their next moves in peace.

Templeton, Talon, and Qiyet all laid out very logical arguments as to how this couldn’t possibly be the case—that all five of them had worked tirelessly to oppose the Ob, and had many witnesses to attest to that fact. But as Rock pointed out, fey never really listen to logic. And so it was that the constables began hurling insults at her instead! Beshela impugned the honor of the Risuri military, citizenry, and leadership, loudly proclaiming her history as a sinker of ships and a seducer of men. But the constables pointed out the Court’s inability to police it’s own members, and its powerlessness to unveil the Ob.

Beshela was forced to admit that no one had done more to oppose the conspiracy than the constables before her, and that she would need them if she hoped to continue fighting in Ethelyn’s stead. She undid the curse on the portal pad and took her leave, promising to return when needed.

Copperhat chuckled, having greatly enjoyed the confusion he’d sown that day. Not satisfied with his warning, the constables asked him for his own show of goodwill to match Beshela’s, if he was indeed their ally as he claimed. Digging around in his pockets, he handed off a sticky ball of web to the constables, explaining that it worked much like a bag of holding, but it could also preserve bodies stored inside it. “You’ll have some dead bodies on your hands in the near future, and this will come in handy,” he explained. “Not sure quite what you’ll be getting yourselves into, but I’ve got a knack. I can always smell a corpse in the offing.”

With that, he bid them “Good day, agents of King Kelland,” and strutted away, whistling to himself.

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