Secrets and Lies
Our heroes stood with Choral Rogarvia, returned founder of Brevoy, before the home of Wilcyn Dane, traitor to the Crown of Brevoy and adherent to a dark cult. It was time to confront their enemy and uncover the truth.
Hudson Graves assumed the disguise of a city guard with his magical quickchange cloak. They would feign to be agents working on behalf of King Surtova, investigating rumors of criminal activity. The magus Orin magicked himself to the roof of the building to keep an eye out for any interruptions. The rest prepared themselves to play a role.
Hudson knocked on the door. Their target soon answered, and they were ushered inside. Soon enough, however, their ruse was up – they claimed to be working on behalf of the king, but Dane disbelieved, having evidently intimate knowledge of the king’s payrolls and knew such an inquisition was not on it. But Dane was now at their mercy, unable to escape their interrogations.
The cultist, unafraid of death, was unwilling to speak, revealing only that she was acting on orders of the old lich, Nochen Valmugen. Dane balked at saying anything more, until she learned that her ally, the vampire Alhred, was dead, as was Nochen himself. Yet the final straw came when Choral Rogarvia revealed that the Rogarvians had not vanished at all, and would soon hold the throne again. She confessed to her conspiracy, but her confession held a bitter truth – Poul Orlovsky had conspired to murder King Surtova after all. It was only the cultists who had turned him in, to foster unrest in Brevoy. Dane turned letters over to Astrid, correspondence between Poul and Alhred, proof held against the slight chance Poul’s trial would turn in his favor. Astrid received the news with a heavy heart.
Their interrogations concluded, Choral took Dane into his custody, and left our heroes their evening, to meet with him at dawn when he would reveal himself to King Surtova. Yet before the night concluded, Choral returned to speak with Astrid, and compel her to consider Poul’s fate. Though he was spurned by seditious cultists, Poul was nevertheless a traitor who had plotted regicide against a lawful ruler. By law, his fate should be death, and yet his motives were sympathetic, and his death seemed hollow justice, when it was the desire of Brevoy’s enemies in the first place. Astrid also worried for Poul’s son, and her friend, Isaak, for how should he receive such news?
Later, in his chambers, Orin attempted to reach out with the Frozen Heart of Orphys to ensure that Nochen Valmugen remained dead, as the destruction of his phylactery promised, or else reveal his whereabouts. The heart showed Orin nothing, but before Orin could end the spell, he was overcome with indescribable visions and left with a great sense of unease.
The next morning, our heroes came to the great gates of the Ruby Fortress, and watched as Choral Rogarvia landed before it, astride the great red dragon Aszrogal. The significance of a red dragon rider was not lost on the guards, and they granted him passage to the throne room. Our heroes followed.
Inside, Choral came at last to face King Surtova. Calling the king to account, Choral quickly determined Surtova’s loyalties – and revealed his true identity using his signet ring, a unique ring only Choral the Conqueror had worn. Surtova, shocked but believing, abdicated the throne before the eyes of those gathered, and anointed Choral as King.
Choral then revealed Brevoy’s enemy, the aboleth, and his intention to wage war against that enemy and avenge the Vanishing. Unity had, at last, come to Brevoy.
The Orlovsky Affair
Yet one difficult matter remained. Astrid found Isaak Orlovsky, who now belatedly realized who Astrid must really be. Enraptured and embarrassed, Isaak quickly promised to keep Astrid’s secret.
At last they came to speak to the fallen lord, Poul Orlovskky. When Astrid revealed that she knew of Poul’s connection to Alhred, Poul dropped the pretenses at innocence. Shattered, Isaak retreated.
In the halls outside Poul’s cell, Astrid turned over the damning letters and inquired what Isaak would do next, should Poul receive the sentence of execution. Hurt by the turn to practical matters, Isaak retreated again, this time from Astrid.
She pursued him, however, and soon found him in his chambers. Realizing her mistake, she slipped an apology through the door. Isaak opened the door. Wordless, they embraced, and the son wept.
The Initiative and the Oath
Though Choral had revealed himself, he had also made himself a target, and Brevoy’s enemies might yet strike out again – and Astrid would be his backup against that plan. He summoned the warrior and her allies to the evening’s feast and celebrations, and afterwards they met in conference with Noleski Surtova.
Noleski revealed his own efforts to uncover the Vanishing and Brevoy’s enemies, and the truth of his “weak” rule. He had felt that a strong leader would soon be a dead one, and a dead king would only throw Brevoy further into disarray. He kept his cards close to his chest, feigning ignorance and immaturity, yet all the while he hunted. Now his enemy was revealed: an aboleth, a terrible and ancient creature of immense and disturbing power and influence. To combat this threat, Brevoy would need allies.
Noleski proposed establishing an initiative within Brevoy, a state-sponsored special operations group who could operate outside the king’s endorsement, taking the fight to their enemies with the explicit purpose of defeating the aboleth. He nominated our heroes for this task, and they accepted.
At this, Orin revealed their next target. The hopeful allies, the triton city beneath Lake Encarthan, were oppressed by a tribe of skum, and that tribe was protected by a ritual whose origin could be traced to the old Ustalavan city of Illmarsh. Already he had sent gillmen scouts to investigate, and soon they would have cause to go themselves.
And indeed Orin was correct, for before the meeting could end, Shalako contacted him through a spell of sending. The gillmen scouts had disappeared in Illmarsh.
Not wanting to waste a single moment, Orin gathered his allies – Astrid taking a brief moment to share an emotional goodbye with Isaak – and they departed aboard the Titanis for Illmarsh.