Seken

A Short History of Three Kalbs and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 8

Maybe I should be calling this “A Short History of Three Kalbs and Two Concerned Manns”. But no, it simply doesn’t roll off the tongue.

Suffice to say the King’s secret police most kindly took us in. We were trotted through to the palace when I started getting this damnable fever. It was like having hot shit thrust into your face for you to take a whiff. Except it was lying out in the alleyway nearly half a block away behind me.

At least I could track Cinnamon by her namesake pastries stuffed gods-knows-where. She was still giving me glares. Perhaps my dear cousin will grow up and out of hating her family.

So here I was making a forced march feeling the onset of a migraine, smelling the unwashed sea of bodies in the city while those I’m protecting are staring daggers at me.

Eh. I’ve had worse days. (Edit: Haha, the jokes on you Varus!)

We made it to the Palace Grounds before I sicked up. The guards made it very clear that we should divest ourselves of magic items and weapons.

We still had the anti-magic egg. After careful consideration, we sequestered it in a Tengu named Twitch (at the time employed by Lady C). We were also joined by Sebastian in addition to the aforementioned Lady C, Jacob, and another who went underground.

And dear readers, when I say ‘in’ a Tengu I meant he swallowed it. Please keep your dirty minds elsewhere.

Meeting the King was a suitably courtly affair. All of us kept watch at different angles, so my notes are certainly incomplete. At first, our meeting seemed fine. Then the King kept hearing more voices and things kept getting worse. We were forced to use the egg and managed not to be executed.

In order not to bore you, here is the bulletpoint version of the meeting:

King: Seemed absolutely mad. I’ve never met him before, but it was obvious he was listening to someone we couldn’t hear. “Klaus” and the Builder (surprise!) had his ear. If the King wanted to foment civil war, he was certainly do a valiant attempt with the words he used.

No Chanecellor in attendance.

Leena: Secret police. She was pretty unflappable during the entire exchange.

Semias: Captain of Goldcloaks. Seemed to know the score. He attempted to keep The Builder away from the King after we used the egg.

Klaus: Actually a little taller in real life. Illusions were used to keep him a few inches shorter. I wonder if he is up to anything odd…

Mayhew: Jester. Without his illusion magics, he looked sad and frail during the whole exchange. Thankfully everyone was pretty busy during the exchange.

Damn Sorcerer: A court flunky. Suitably surprised having all of his magic ripped from him. I could empathize.

Andrew Morphin: Sub-captain of the Underwatch. Seemed very concerned about his job security.

Jacob: Sensed something was amiss with the King. Perhaps it was the random execution orders that drove that point home.

Lord General Aneass Harborn: Commander of the Army. Mostly non-committal during the entire exchange. I’m curious of his loyalty to the King.

Paul Anrie Mann: Alternate Admiral to Lord Mann. Meh.

The Builder: Actually has more facial scars. Was one of the voices speaking to the King…

Lord Mann: Oh, he’s just here to enjoy the party. Obviously.

So I tried to See his Majesty. The King was on a hobby horse attempting to ride it, but being pulled by both arms. The swaying was driving him to madness and other forces were at work keeping him from moving forward.

Oh, and I had a lovely vision of the Chancellor being murdered and quartered in front of us. If I wasn’t in such a state of shock, I might have done something stupid. Thankfully things went too quickly for that.

Apparently the King ordered my execution on a whim. This was after a few good remarks about the wonder side effects of chaos and turmoil in the city. I’m sure the Court ate that all up.

We forced the use of the egg and we attempted to out the Builder (Raisa spotted him mouthing the words). We were predictably dogpiled and taken to a well-furnished containment.

I’ll obviously need to spruce this up in high-fashion, but things were pretty rough. So I’ll save that after my first draft. Oh and we met the Real King. Or really, the illusion of the Real King. He is playing a double-game of pretending to be crazy to dupe his would-be puppeteers.

Unfortunately, I don’t think he can keep doing this for long. We told him what information we had on what happened and the Chancellor. He promised to have us leave alive in the most humiliating fashion possible. From one Mann to the Majesty, your a good man with a shit job.

Soon we were running into the streets covered in dogshit covered smocks. Thank the gods Leo knew a few thieves guild members (remember to ask about that).

Afterwards, we made our way to Byron’s apartment. Covered in shit, beaten by guards, and still feeling like I would sick over myself from the fever. Did I mention all the shit we had today?

And I blew up at Cinnamon. She obviously was having a peachy time like myself. However, I’ll be thrice damned if I let my dear cousin make another smart remark about me. Seriously, who decides a nice heart-to-heart confrontation of someone who helped fight for your life, is now covered in dogshit, and has the worst case of double-vision migraine is a great idea?

Well, I became rather intense and I told them what Lord Mann asked of me. Maybe they might have actually believed me except for Leo. He’s far too canny for his own good. I was beyond caring.

Things got far better from there. Far too much wine and ham were doled out.

So gentle readers, you should start taking your bets on whether it’ll be my liver or my heart that gives out first if I continue with my companions.

Me? My bet is on my sanity.

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Leo's View: Out of the Frying Pan

So we did surprisingly well against the Shadowed Hand, all things considered, but it wasn’t really the best thought-out plan we’ve had. Not that we actually have many of those.

Lenna Xarx and her Mysterious Royal Private Guard showed up at the tail end of the fight, ready to take us into “protective custody”. Damned timing, really — all I wanted at that point was a drink and a sandwich. Instead we got bundled off to see the king. I mean, we’d wanted to see the king, to tell him about the Chancellor, but I don’t think this is how any of us would have preferred it to fall out.

We all got rounded up – including Lady C and her little Tengu buddy, Twitch — and were taken to the Palace. Not through the grand earthworks entrance, but around a side entrance and down, through a triage space that looked surprisingly like the entrance to the Underbelly we went through a few weeks ago. Fortunately we had Lenna to speed our way through, so we didn’t wait as long as we had there, and then we were unceremoniously shuffled off to our own little private room with crappy little lockers full of the least fashionable smock-things possible. Bastian was shown in as well. We were told — very clearly — to divest ourselves of all weapons and magic items, before our audience with the King.

So Duke Markov had given us that magical magic-interrupting egg. We wanted to get it near the King in order to see if he was being controlled, but were being told in no uncertain terms that we were to do No Such Thing. We talked around it, but couldn’t really fathom that they wouldn’t scan us for magical items before going in, and things would get ugly fast if they found the egg. Then Twitch piped up that he was good at hiding things, and showed that he could swallow the egg and mostly hide its magical aura. So… that was good. And then it occurred to me that if any one of us who were nobles told Twitch to detonate it, we’d be immediately targeted as trying to harm the King. Likewise for Cinnamon and Bastian and Twitch. Lady C… meh. But Jacob … Jacob’s job is to protect the King. Even if that means say, detonating an anti-magic item to try to break a magical control over him. It’s his duty, right? No question. He wasn’t happy about it, but he couldn’t fault my logic. Responsibility: successfully shuffled.

Realizing that the Chancellor undoubtedly has people in the Palace, we asked to see Lenna, and told her that the Chancellor had been the one to hire the Shadowed Hand. She impassively did some internal math and agreed to increase our guard.

Varus developed some sort of weird fever. He seemed to be seeing too many possibilities, like when Raisa went and looked at things she shouldn’t have. Not a hell of a lot we could do about it, though.

The guards had given Cinnamon and Bastian quicksilver handcuffs, since they can’t exactly be disarmed. Also, well… a half-elf and a Rakasta. But one of the Goldcloaks came in and took Cinnamon’s away, in obvious thanks for saving the hides of a bunch of them a few days back when we were double-kidnapped and things got hairy.

I’d taken off my hat and set it aside with my weapons, but I remembered at the last minute that my sleeves were also magical. I had to replace them with the dumbest looking smock-sleeve things from the locker, but hell, if they wanted me to wear something pretty they damned well could’ve provided something.

Still, though. Seriously. Smock-sleeves.

Sigh.

Eventually we were all rounded up and herded to the audience chamber. We were scanned for magical items, so it’s a damned good thing Twitch was there. The fellow doing the scan hesitated a bit at Twitch, and Lady C, and Chip, but eventually passed us all through.

The King was deeply engrossed in whatever conversation he was having, which was awkward, because we all bowed and scraped as required, but then had to wait an excruciatingly long time for him to acknowledge us. I suspect that this was not unintentional. At any rate, it got to a point where basically the whole room was uncomfortably waiting for him to finish the damned conversation and just get on with it already.

He was nutty the first time we met him. If anything, he was even more so now. We told him about the successful return of the seal to its rightful place, and of the Chancellor’s attempt to get us to help him with his palace coup. The king wasn’t surprised, and in fact, openly questioned the allegiance of the Lord General regarding a possible coup, and she was openly noncommittal back. Mayhew was obviously bored out of his skull. Duke Mann wandered in, completely wasted. It was, altogether, a really uncomfortable assembly.

Oh, also? The Builder. Right there by his shoulder, like a trusted adviser. Unsettling, right?

The King was constantly responding to things that “Klaus” said in his head – irritably, as if Klaus was giving unsolicited advice. Byron continued to explain about what we’d discovered about tar-and-blood, and how we were uncertain if strife was the goal or whether it was —

“ — simply a marvelous side effect?” the king asked in a startlingly lucid and disturbingly nuanced tone.

And then the King decided he should have one of us killed, you know, just for the hell of it.

Jake had been unsuccessfully trying to get Twitch’s attention for several seconds. At this point, Cinnamon stepped in and slapped Twitch’s back. He coughed up the egg, looked startled, and smashed it.

The king slumped over, like a marionette with its strings cut. A number of illusion spells fizzled out. The guards — well, they were doing their job, I can see how it looked like an attack. But Raisa had just noticed that the King was responding to “Klaus” after the Builder had been subtly muttering to himself. She tried to get that information out, but we were pig-piled by enthusiastic guards who wanted nothing to do with our nonsense. On the plus side, Sameus seemed to believe it enough to interpose himself between the Builder and the King. Hopefully he can beat some sense into the rest of the King’s Guard going forward. Cinnamon was doing a great job of disseminating the information — that is, hollering to beat the band — so at that point I didn’t see much point in doing anything but going quietly when they put us under arrest. I was wearing the dorky sleeves, and my acting out wouldn’t have gotten any better a result, so the least I could do was cling to some semblance of dignity.

And… they threw us in a cell. Not a gross dungeon cell or anything, there was decent furniture, but it was still quite clearly a holding cell. And who should chance to join us there, but the King, by way of illusion — this illusionary King being far, far more lucid than the marionette we’d seen in audience. He said he was aware he was being controlled, even as it was happening. Asked us if we could kill the Builder. Sort of asked what he could do, but when I mentioned that Duke Markov was prepared to go to war unless the King apologized for the insult to House Kalb, the King prevaricated.

He didn’t have long before someone came along to where he was in real-space – you could see the stupid-look slide onto his face as he looked back over his shoulder at them. But before that he said he’d arrange for us to be “let go”. In the most humiliating way possible, of course, which is to say, in shit-covered smocks, being chased by angry dogs. But we had enough of a head start on the dogs that we could slow down to pass the courtiers who had been placed outside the gate to jeer at us. I think most of us managed a decently suave fuck-you-too saunter past them. It was satisfying to at least deny them the satisfaction of seeing us cringe.

And then, you know, we had to pass through the middle of town at the height of the jester-selection festival. Hard to go unnoticed. I got one of the Thieves’ Guild kids to grab us some clean clothes from their costume bin — he got to have his fair laugh at us too, but whatever. Clean clothes. Cinnamon procured some costuming of her own from a streetwalker, so looked notably different from the rest of us, which is to say way hotter, though no less pungent.

Lady C took this time to depart for her own quarters, and presumably a series of baths. I’d never seen her look so kerfuffled before, even when fighting wizards and talking to a sweet and creepy demon-girl aspect of Calleich and whatnot. Dog shit. Everyone’s got a secret weakness.

Jacob finally got to head home to his wife and kids too, since he’s been on-duty since before we went down to the Underbelly. We got his address. Note to self: send that guy a prize smoked ham and some best-quality beer.

We headed back to Byron’s place, bringing Twitch along, since he was a) hurt, and b) offering to deliver things for us if we’d pay him. The fact that he was still willing to take a commission from us after getting seriously roughed up by the King’s guard indicates that he’s either incredibly loyal, incredibly desperate for money, or incredibly stupid. Possibly some combination of the above. But after getting washed up a bit, we took him to get his wing fixed, since Raisa said it wasn’t the sort of thing she could do.

Overheard while we were at the Vikon clinic: the Duke of Fla was found dead in his Ducal apartments in Valenci (here, where he’d been swearing for years and years that he’d die at home where he’d been born). And he was killed by one of a number of different wounds. It was only later that we realized each wound correlated to one of us. A message from the Chancellor, or from his tar-scented puppeteer?

And then, the drinking. Long overdue. Not exactly the jovial buzzed camaraderie I associate with Marius’ ideal group indulgence, but it was an opportunity to finally get some things out into the open.

Varus Effing Mann. I don’t think he thinks of himself as a pawn, but that doesn’t make him any less of one. He seems to genuinely want to strike a blow for truth and justice and good and puppies and sunshine, and I suppose there’s a kind of integrity in that. It’s just — even if he has no ulterior motives, I cannot fathom that those pulling his strings don’t have any. That shit they pulled in the spring, even if it wasn’t officially sanctioned by the head of house… The fact that Duke Riche asked Varus specifically to come watch us… it makes my skin crawl. I know Varus says he was asked to help us, and I know the Manns sided with us against the King after he arrested all the Kalbs (well, I mean, obviously there’s some self-preservation there too; it sets a dangerous precedent to let him get away with that shit.) But over all? There’s something shifty about the big picture. I don’t like it.

Notes to self:

- Get in touch with the Duke tomorrow to tell him our side of what happened. (No doubt he’ll have heard someone else’s side. Nothing to be done about that.)

- Figure out how to kill the Builder

- Ponder the ethics of whether it’s wrong to help the King when it involves something so obviously needing-to-be-done as killing the Builder.

- Figure out what the hell is up with the Chancellor – Varus’ vision saw him tied up with the killing of Duke Fla. What kind of message is trying to be sent to us with the peculiar killing methodology?

- Fla’s daughter Tiele is his successor – possible contact there? Varus was going to offer his assistance. It’s a rather blunt approach, but I suppose it’s a valid angle.

- Send a big smoked ham and a case of really good beer to Jacob.

- Get in touch with Alexei, if I can find him.

- Find some non-sibling-folk to get drunk with. Seriously, I need to unwind.

…I wonder if Aeowyn’s got any free time in the next few weeks. If I live that long.

… Also, it irritates me that it’s not the first time I’ve had those two thoughts in succession. What the fuck.

Anyway, I’ll send a note off to Harrik to make an appointment on the off-chance that I’m still walking around free.

One more sandwich and I’m off to bed.

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Cinnamon's Journal: In which the fucking king takes my fucking cat

So we went to meet the king.

Shoulda known getting through the door would be another exercise in bureaucracy and snobbery like everything else in this fucking city. Of course we had to ditch all our weapons – not like I was expecting otherwise, but I didn’t like letting Ivraham’s daggers out of my care. Amazingly, one of the goldcloaks, who must have remembered how I’d asked Duke Kalb to make sure that they weren’t, you know, tortured to death, was willing to let me in without manacles as long as I was on my “best behavior.”

I was kind of expecting that we were going to end up dead one way or another – shanked by the chancellor, executed by the loopy king, whatever. So I figured he wanted me to be able to escape or defend myself when things inevitably went to shit. Ha.

So yeah, meeting with the king – went about as well as you’d expect. Oh heyyyyy, The Builder. Fucking great. It becomes apparent that the king hears voices in his head, and not just from his old buddy Klaus. It also becomes apparent that many members of the court realize this. You’ve got to wonder about a royal court that centers around someone who is at worst controlled by some remote entity – or, if I’ve interpreted my notes from G accurately, more than one – and at best as crazy as a bag of weasels.

I let the fancy kids do most of the talking. Deck’s already stacked against us, and I’m proud but not so proud to think that the king’s going to take me seriously. Varus and the Kalb kids do a good job of it, to be fair. They explain what went down in the Underbelly. Then about Chancellor, hoo boy. Then Varus (that fucking guy) has some kind of panic attack/acid flashback/ill timed communion with the divine and spaces out. Shit, Varus, get it together! Goddammit. That fucking guy. So then the king asks us to choose someone among us to execute for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, but like I should expect any different from His Royal Highness King Bag o’ Weasels.

THEN, Raisa figures out that at least one of the voices inside the king’s head is the builder.

With an assist from Twitch the Tengu, we smash this anti-magic egg and oh good god the chaos that ensued. We kept screaming “the builder, it’s the builder that’s controlling him” and the builder and Simias both went for the King (Simias seems to know what’s up, thank God) and then the anti-magic effect ends and we are completely fucked.

I’ll bet Simias, and Lord Mann, and plenty of others in that room knew we were right, but what the fuck are they going to do about it?

We get dragged down to the dungeon where I assume we’re going to be executed by dawn. I’m not one for hysterics (rage yes, hysterics no) but I completely lost it. And Mr. Friendly Goldcloak is not sticking his neck out for me as hoped – thanks guy. Way to go. When we’re in the cell and I realize that Chip is gone, that pretty much does it for me.

Then the king shows up.

Well, not the king. But an illusion of the king. A sort of projection. And he seems to be sane. And he seems to know what’s up. And he seems to be grateful. But he’s not in control of himself, so there’s really nothing he can do.

Is everything I do in this city this fucking pointless?

Anyway, through some miraculous whim of King Bag of Weasels, we’re not executed, but instead forced to strip, put on shit covered smocks, and run through the palace into a waiting crowd armed with rotten tomatoes. You don’t last long in the Big House if you’re easily embarrassed, so while I’m not going to pretend I handled it flawlessly, I snagged some clothes from a fellow working girl across the street and managed to mostly keep my cool. Lady C on the other hand – wow. I assumed she was fundamentally incapable of becoming flustered, but I guess I was wrong.

We got to Byron’s place, and thank god Chip was there (also our stuff). We sat around and drank for a while and once again tried to get Varus (that fucking guy) to explain himself. He keeps saying he just wants to write this history, and that one of us is unbound by fate whatever the fuck that means. I got pissed (what, like they should expect differently at this point, they hired me to punch things and then they’re surprised I have a temper) and Varus goes off on me: “What do you want, Cinnamon? What do you want from House Mann? Do you want information? Do you want your mother?”

Oh my fucking god. It was just the condescension of that phrase – “Do you want your mother?” Like I was some petulant child who’d had her toy taken away. Like I want anything from a family that literally left me to be raised in a whore house. Is that how noble houses operate? Is everything done in the currency of favors in a zero sum game? So if I don’t have a specific thing I think I should have coming to me, I have no right to be angry?

That fucking guy.

Anyway. Byron’s ham is still really good. If I make enough money at this adventuring thing, I’m totally getting a meat cellar. Also Chip is hysterical when he’s drunk.

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A Short History of Three Kalbs and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 7

That was certainly a battle.

After we cleared the lesser thugs, we were confronted by the real assassins. The battle was pure chaos. Byron Kalb surrendered slowly. Raisa was choked by a… choker. Cinnamon disappeared somewhere. Presumably choking someone to death.

Leo ran around stabbing anything he could get his hands on. The enemies put a total of nine arrows into me. I managed to shrug most of this off while continuing to summon creatures that rampaged around the battlefield.

After a bout of darkness that caused us to become separated from one another, we managed to regroup and push through into the melee. It was a mess, but we held out until the King’s Secret Police arrived. Whereupon we were placed into protective custody.

At least I managed to use my sight on these assassins, who were hired by the Chancellor.

Oh yes, and now my companions know that I am of House Mann. Better to hear it from my lips than another’s I suppose. Still, there will be a bit of explaining to do…

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Cinnamon's Journal: In which we get our asses kicked

Well, that happened.

So I should have realized that a bunch of street thugs just happening to decide to start an open-air bar brawl with us couldn’t have been what they seemed. Shadow dancers. A lot of them. I don’t really know much about them, but you only need to see someone step out of your friend’s shadow once to get the idea.

They gave us the usual “come with us or we’ll kill you” line. Pfft. If someone’s willing to kill you in broad daylight in a town square, what makes you think they won’t kill you when they get you somewhere more private? So I bolted. I scaled the building to where one of the archers was, in case things went sour, and sure enough by the time I got up there Varus (that fucking guy) had sicced one of his pets on the assassins. Well, in for a penny. I managed to choke out the archer pretty quick (thanks for the assist, Byron) and moved on to the leader, where I proceeded to whiff on every damn punch I threw at her. Things kinda went to shit after that, especially around the time that my guts fell out. I think Varus managed to ask the gods to stuff them back in…? I asked Gijutsu to just get us through it alive, and it seems to have worked – the King’s personal guard showed up and waxed most of the remaining archers. Leader chick I kept whiffing on went poof into the shadows again; fucking great. Varus examined her blood (creepy – that fucking guy) and determined that the chancellor had hired them to wax us. And something about seeing the heraldry of the Duke of Fla (I dunno) aaaaaaand tar. Great. Just great. Above my paygrade, again.

So we’re put into “protective custody” – oh goody, time to go see the king. And the Kalbs’ little friend (what’s her name? Layla?) asks Varus how he wants to be addressed. He hesitates, but Leela Or Whatever reminds him that she represents the king, and he says his full title is “Seer of Aisling, Varus Mann.”

Oh.

My.

God.

No wonder he wanted to swear me to secrecy. He’s my fucking cousin.

I was so pissed I barely noticed when Leelu asked how I wanted to be addressed. I went with just Cinnamon. I was tempted to tell her what my birth name was, just to see the look on her face, but I’m not sure that would be smart. (I feel that way a lot these days.)

Besides, It’s not like anyone would believe me.

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A Short History of Three Kalbs and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 6

We finished our titillating conversation with Lady C (is she actually nobility)? I would certainly be willing to trade some blood with her, but alas reciprocal relationships require a bit more trust.

From there, we had drinks and dinner where my dear companions asked some rather pointed questions. It seems remarkable that my companions find ‘a good person’ to be something unique. Are things so bad here? Cinnamon and Leo treat their own decency as something to be ashamed of.

I told them a bit more of the truth and we moved our conversation to more productive topics. Then we received word to meet Lady C at the public fountain. However, someone knew we were coming. A trap that led to a group of thugs cornering us before the market.

They showed all signs of being incompetent. If you can’t handle a badger, you should rethink your life choice as an assassin. It wasn’t until they were over that the real murderers showed themselves…

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A Short History of Three Kalbs and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 5

Apparently Valenci knows how to have a good time. I decided to be the designated sober member of our group for the evening. It took some prodding, but we eventually made our way to the Church of Aisling.

We did our best to convey what information we had to the High Seer of Aisling. It is our hope that he would speak with the High Necromancer of Caillech. Perhaps the Kalbs reference bridge that history, if only for an hour.

Leo volunteered to have his future examined. Interestingly there are a fair number of threads that would have him named heir to the Household. He doesn’t seem happy about it. Joviality aside, I understand why. When you are afraid of losing your King, you place a pawn with a funny hat on the board. Strangely, I think Leo might be able to rise to the challenge…

We decided to sleep the night at the Church of Aisling to avoid trouble on the way back. Something is tickling my mind about the jester competition. I somehow doubt the powers that are and those that should not be are leaving the competition alone. Alas, sleep takes me.

Making our way to the Government Quarter, we attempted to find Lady C. To make our way down to the basement, Leo donned his magical hat and became Corporal Winniefocker to the elf guard. I could only hear what happened next. I believe *Leo*’s and the elf’s interaction at the counter involves orange jam and chest hair.

Meeting Lady C, again, was bracing. She is obviously hiding her true identity. Lady C also sees far too much. Thankfully we moved the conversation onto the tar. All in all, a fairly uneventful day so far…

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A Short History of Three Kalbs and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 4

Meeting the High Necromancer was an experience. I have not met a skeleton so serene before. The matter she brought forth was Nathaniel, who had been revived by Caillech. Apparently he had been murdered by Cinnamon when she had been possessed in an aethereal bubble.

It was when Nathaniel started speaking about walling away that something clicked. That ‘something’ was a being on the other side. Cinnamon ran off.

After some rather delicious muffins, we went to the Monastery dedicated to Gejitsu. After bantering with the old and mentally retired gatekeeper, we found Cinnamon and her golden-eyed friend, Afrem (pardon the likely mispelling). They obviously wanted to spend some time alone.

This became more apparent when “Cinnamon” kicked her friend out the window onto the street. Several things quickly became apparent. Either Cinnamon was secretly a psychopathic ninja or she was possessed by a life-draining energy vampire.

We (or rather, they) killed the evil Cinnamon (I believe good Cinnamon snapped her neck), the crystalline construct, and a bladed figure of goo. My primary contribution was summoning an Ape that brought Cinnamon’s friend to safety. Also asking the dead evil Cinnamon a few pointed questions.

This and reading into her fortune revealed that Outsiders beyond the Primal Plane were involved. They were likely the ones who saw into our dreams. If that was the case, they knew why we were dangerous to their plans. And they knew our weaknesses.

If the Outsiders are involved, it may be time to bring the Churches into this matter.

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A Short History of Three Kalbs and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 3

The Kalbs certainly travel in style. An armored carriage with a full complement of goldcloaks. Finally a chance to speak with the king. Except we were bushwhacked by goblinoids who “rescued” us on the behalf of “Papa”. A lesson to be learned: act slowly enough and it’s as if you chose not to act.

What appeared as a misunderstanding nearly became a tragedy. The Goldcloaks, men whom were simply doing their duty to protect us, were going to be torn apart by the crowd. I must commend Leo for convincing Papa to not have them killed out of hand. A quiet prayer to Benjiro didn’t hurt either.

Surprisingly, it was Cinnamon who asked Lord Kalb to spare their lives. The behavior of Lord Kalb towards his children was odd. Besides the gamemanship of Lord Kalb’s initial arrival, he ignored Byron and Raisa unless they spoke. Lord Kalb honestly seemed to trust Leo. Some see Leo as a foppish canary in the mine… now, I’m not so sure.

They told the Duke everything. I did my best to fill in the holes, but it was difficult doing so in front of such a personage. Telling us about what happened to his son and the chancellor’s deception, well, it all started to make sense.

The better question is- can we stop this in time? A week… we will have to see.


I felt obligated to tell Cinnamon the truth. I’ve only known her for a day and a half, but it was apparent that she was the conscience of the group. A position she feels deeply uncomfortable with. It’s not often that one is rewarded for doing good. It felt right to tell her the truth. To offer an opportunity to speak with her mother.


I sent the letters to [Redacted]. I hope that will be enough to arrange a private meeting with the King.


I suppose my good deed of the day was to rejuvenate a construct. Apparently he wanted to kill the Builder. I can’t really comment on the morality of that, but I admire his principles. Lesson: the Kalb scions and Cinnamon seem to know some of the most interesting things going on in this city…

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A Short History of Three Kalbs and a Concerned Prostitute: Part 2

As I was saying, there was a very large black wolf. For those insisting on an elaborate description, it was the size of a small carriage.

Initial reactions varied from horror to berserk rage. I began summoning elementals of Earth and things quickly devolved into a great deal of stabbing and spellfire.

When the High Priest of Aisling made it to safety, I realized that we were the first to attack- not the hound itself. I spoke in the language of Ten No (well, I had too) and it proved… diplomatic. Praise Benjiro!

He/she/it managed to warp reality enough to allow others to talk with her. Eventually matters settled themselves out amicably between the misunderstood Aetherial Puppy and the murderous Kalbs with a prostitute.

Raisa had thankfully recovered from what had been done to her. In my short observations, the four seemed very comfortable with violence together. Byron is apparently a fire mage, which doesn’t bode well at all. Leo and Raisa are apparently more of a martial bend.

Raisa certainly seemed to relish using her lochaber. Our heir presumptive seemed a bit perplexed. I hazard a guess that he is more comfortable in a duel than with poking giant hounds.

Where exactly our dear Cinnamon had that dagger hidden we may never know.

In the future I will keep descriptions of battle to a bare minimum. I assume the readership is full of high-minded intellectuals who would, of course, protest any a ten-copper dreadful. This shall be a proper dry historical account.

I did have a nice conversation with Cinnamon, which involved speaking with her about following a divine being of lost causes. Intriguing and I’m very curious to see more of her faith.

After the hound matter was wrapped up we went to go see a skinthief. Specifically a murderer who was mentally ill enough to take on his victim’s personality. The wisdom of keeping a skin thief in the Big House is debatable. Silly things like justice aside, I doubt his current living situation will lead to an upswing of his long term well-being.

As tasked to me by the High Priest, I performed a vision to identify the Enemy arrayed against us. I promptly started puking tar. You can surmise that the Enemy is likely cosmically suspect and possessing of a certain sense of humor.

We got ourselves quite drunk that night and Cinnamon received a surprising letter. This Lady M apparently believes her to be Lady Corene Terrace Mann. It took me a while to remember that name from a forgotten genealogical record: a stillborn of the Mann family.

Then I recalled who her parents were. Or at least one of them. The lady I have a passing acquaintance with. Unfortunately, I am bound by word to protect her honor. Damn legality. If Byron didn’t mention blackmailing with such hopeful glee, I might have gotten away with simply telling her. As it was, Cinnamon kindly offered to walk me home. I made a compromising offer that would satisfy my bonds and she wisely asked for the night to think about it.

It all made sense. The faked stillbirth, her neutrally-magical cat, being caught up in great events with the Kalbs… and here I thought it was the Kalbs who were the political oil to the flames rising around us.

At the end of our first day together, my general impressions were that my companions are good people when they are able to relate to you. They tend to focus their morality in the context of themselves. Certainly not a bad thing. I’d say stupidity is the hallmark of the morally righteous. Still, I think there is greatness here- we’ll see if it flourishes.

Also, I’ve had my life and my guts threatened more times in the past twenty-four hours than in the past month. Let’s leave things at “exciting”.

The King of course called upon us in the morning. How Cinnamon will relay what we know will be of utmost importance. I hope she rises to the challenge…

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