After the heist, the party gathered near the entrance of the Senate’s gardens to discuss strategy. One task was completed, but three were still left before them. Though no member of this group had no real attachment to any other, they all wanted the promised doubled rewards from Lotheed should they all succeed.
Lanliss and Rostam were faced with fairly similar tasks: Each had to speak with one or two major figures present at the gala, and either divine their thoughts on the upcoming primogeniture vote or change them. Belor needed to not only get close to a very popular and influential Baron present at the event, but also to remind him of a “favor” he owed to Lady Lotheed. Baron Okerra was a wildly popular figure. He gained his fame as first a storied war hero, then as the face of Taldan military recruitment for nearly a decade. In his later years now, he still maintained his public favor in the national jousting circuit. He was a powerful man, and one Sir Lanliss would need assistance in approaching. Dara, on the other hand, had two targets but a simpler tasks: the senators Pace and Centimus. Neither politician was of grave import or particularly high stance or tenure, but Lotheed was interested in their opinions nonetheless. Sir Rostam was a military man, not particularly well versed in these kinds of games.
The answer seemed obvious. Belor would approach Lady Pace and see what he could uncover with his larger political experience, and Dara would use their common military background to get an in with Baron Okerra. With this plan in mind, the pair headed back across the Senate toward the main chamber, where they’d seen the Baron previously. To their surprise (and possible benefit), they found both Pace and Okerra together, engaged in conversation.
Nell had finished his task for the evening, and Inori was simply waiting for further instructions. With nothing at the moment demanding their attention, the second pair decided to follow onto the senate floor as well, and see how they could assist. Sir Stalwart is of noble birth and background, he was certain he could assist in winning over Lady Pace. Lady Dentho, however, had no such connection. She could do little more than float around the outskirts, waiting for an opportunity to be of use.
Before anyone could make any serious progress with their targets, each of the four agents heard a voice inside their heads, “I hope you’re all doing well. Could you join me for a moment above on the gallery, please?” They recognized Martella’s voice as it rang in their minds. Before the event, she had provided each of them with the badge of a senatorial aide; this badge not only allowed them entry to the event itself, but let Lotheed contact them directly should she need their attention. Beckoned by the spymaster, the group had no real choice but to break off their engagements and return to them later.
Up above, Lady Lotheed awaited them with a small table cordoned off from the rest of the gallery. She welcomed them, offering drinks and allowing the group a chance to settle before she dove into business. Some progress had been made with Lady Pace, but Lotheed was unsatisfied with her canned responses so far. Okerra was beginning to open up, and Duke Centimus remained somewhat of a mystery. She was very pleased to learn of the successful theft of three artifacts from the displays down below.
“Now, I didn’t ask you up here just to look over your shoulders, of course,” she continued. “There’s a bit more.” Lotheed explained that Malphene Trant, daughter of Senator Trant, arrived at the gala not long ago. Lotheed is very familiar with the woman, and suspects that she could only be here for one reason: to bully younger senators into aligning with her father. Since Senator Trant is very outspoken against the rewriting of primogeniture, Lotheed tasked the group with a new goal. In between their individual missions, they were to keep an eye out for Dame Trant and make sure nothing indecent happens.
3 of the agents were then dismissed, with Inori held back. Martella handed her a new missive, asking that it be delivered to Lady Morilla in the gardens. Taking only a moment to impart that time was of the essence, she urged that Lady Dentho hurry lest this delivery become irrelevant. Normally, something so trivial would be no real issue for Inori. She trained her life as bounty hunter, and has run down dozens of outlaws in her time.
She has never done it in a dress and heels. She has definitely never done it without making a scene.
Inori was completely out of her element. Speed and subtlety are not partners in her line of work, and she was unable to marry the two together. By the time she made her way down to the gardens, Lady Morilla was impatient, and quickly instructed Inori to take two more messages: one back to Lotheed and one up to Duke Centimus in the northern library. Inori didn’t know what was contained in these envelopes, but whatever machinations Lotheed had working behind the scenes fell to pieces as she was unable to make her way quickly through the Senate halls.
Meanwhile, Nell located the daughter Trant in the entryway, calmly browsing the displays. With nothing seemingly amiss, he returned to the senate floor to join Belor and Dara in trying to work their way in with Lady Pace and Baron Okerra. Though it took some time, neither mission was particularly difficult. They were only obtaining a politician’s stance on policy, something they are not remiss to share with anyone they deem important enough. Baron Okerra, reminded of his debt to Lotheed, agreed on Sir Lanliss’ word that a limitation of gender on who should rule was pointless. Lady Pace was revealed to be more slimy; she sided only with the side she though would curry more favor. With this knowledge in hand, Nell returned upstairs to report their successes to Martella.
Inori felt defeated. The rest of the agents worked together near seamlessly, even though they’d just met. Lotheed clearly saw their potential and hired them for a reason. Meanwhile, she had failed at the seemingly simple task of delivering letters. In her furthest imagination, she’d never dreamed her greatest enemy would be a piece of paper in an aristocrat’s gala. She sought refuge in the Emperor’s Hall, an antechamber before the main senate floor used for meetings and largely empty. Though a few people milled about here, taking similar breaks or making quick deals and exchanges, one woman caught Inori’s attention quickly. A raven-haired woman in a noble black dress, one she recognized as a senator, lurked back in the corner of this hall alone. She didn’t seem distressed, far from it. She simply removed herself from the commotion and bustle of the event to somewhere she could watch and observe undisturbed. Inori took interest in this, and approached.
Marquess Deschamps introduced herself, and greeted Inori by name, much to her surprise. Deschamps explained that she knew Inori’s father from work they’d done together years ago, and that she greatly respected the man’s work. Taken aback, Inori found herself drawn to the woman, and after some conversation found they had much in common. Deschamps was much more than a simple senator, and had been a Pathfinder working with the Pathfinder Society for years before her work ended with her tied to a senate chair. Knowing of Inori’s work in her father’s footsteps, the marquess extended an offer. Deschamps would recommend Inori to the Venture Captains in the local Taldan Pathfinder lodge, should she wish to join.
Belor, now content with his mission complete as well, turned to the Imperial Archives in the north side of the building. This once-grand library held histories and knowledge nearly as old as Taldor itself. Belor was an aging man, and in his later years arcane knowledge and histories gained his interest as much as politics. He impressed many of the nobles present in the library with the depth and variety of what he’d learned over his years. He had a clear advantage, surely, elven kind were uncommon in Taldor, and with his race he’d had many more years than the average Opparan aristocrat to learn everything there was to know. Belor eventually found himself in conversation with the head librarian himself, who wish to show the elf a relic they had been unable to place on display. The librarian handed him a heavily damaged journal, explaining that it was beyond being salvaged enough to display. However, he did not wish to see the journal simply discarded, and wished to place it in the hands of someone who would treasure and protect such knowledge.
All of this was interrupted as a commotion passed through the halls. Trant, escorted by 3 of her friends, bustled a young senator through the passageways heading toward the northern end of the building. Inori and Dara noticed the group as they passed by the senate floor and followed. Belor, already in the northern library, saw as Trant shuffled the group through a door into a back room. Inori and Dara arrived, and the three realized they had no time to head upstairs and find Nell. Something was happening now, and they had to act.
The three followed Trant through the doorway and into a waiting room in the back, a large empty room of marble, furnished with little more than assorted benches and small end tables around the edges of the room. The scene in front of them was clear. Trant and her friends had the young Senator backed into the far corner, gathering around him and preventing his escape. All eyes turned to meet Dara, Inori and Belor as they entered the room.
“Get rid of the help,” Trant barked to her friends, waving her hand dismissively. “Begone. We’re busy.”
“You do indeed seem busy.” Dara stepped forward into the room, addressing the bully directly. “But not with anything you should be doing at a party.”
Trant laughed. “What are you, Osirian? You’re not even from the country! Get out of here, or my father will have you in prison for the rest of your years!” As she spoke, her speech slurred slightly. Trant was clearly drunk, and now angry.
Dara ignored her, and strode across the room toward the Senator. Trant moved to physically block his path. “Do you not even speak the Taldan tongue?. BEGONE.” The last statement was punctuated by a hand in Dara’s chest, pushing him backward.
Dara raised his hand, and brushed Trant’s off his chest. The lady immediately responded with a punch. Her fist landed in Dara’s chest, thumping him a bit backwards.
“Don’t you touch me,” she screeched in rage. “Get out of here, last warning!” Her friends closed ranks around Dara, now standing alone against the group in the middle of the room.
Belor and Inori drew the line here. Their missions from Lotheed may have been done, but neither had anything to gain from a physical altercation with a Senator’s daughter here. Both began to back toward the hall from which they’d entered.
“I just bought this dress,” Inori lamented, backing away. “I really don’t want to get blood on it.”
Dara stood his ground. “I think you’ve gone far enough here.” He stood firm, showing no reaction to her strike. He leveled his eyes at Trant. “You should be the one leaving now.”
Trant smirked, before pulling back a real punch. This was not the quick, angered strike she’d thrown before. It was clear the woman knew what she was doing, and was far from unfamiliar with a fist fight. She put every ounce of force she could into her elbow before loosing it into Dara’s face, staggering him backwards. Dara reeled for a seconds, surprised by her strength and now seeing stars. This was all the urging Belor and Inori needed to retreat further out of the room. The pair all but ran back down the hall towards the library.
“Get the guards!” Dara called back towards the other agents, raising his hands defensively. Trant laughed again before striking him once more, burying her fist in his stomach and again staggering him a step back. Dara may be a veteran, but this kind of combat was not his strength, and the party had clearly underestimated their opponent. Drunk, but angry and trained, the daughter Trant was more than his match in a brawl.
Belor and Inori scrambled out into the Archives. For such an event, guards were posted at most corners. A pair flanked the entryway to the library from the senate floor, and they made their way there. Their haste caused quite a commotion, and the guards noticed them even before they began to call out. The two guards moved quickly toward Belor, completely unaware of what was happening in the back room. The elf quickly explained the situation. The two guards looked at each other, before the first nodded to his partner. The second immediately moved back toward the waiting room to address the situation.
With Dara fighting just to stay conscious, he kept a smile nonetheless. He knew that in a few moments, the situation would be turned in his favor. Trant was far from unprepared for this situation, however. She turned to one of her friends and pointed to her face, sticking her head forward. The man grinned, reared back and punched Trant squarely in the mouth. The impact rocked her head back, but she rolled with it, minimizing the real damage. As she turned back to face Dara, she raised a finger to the corner of her mouth, feeling the ooze of blood leaking down.
“This is way more fun than I thought it was going to be,” Trant grinned as she ripped the neck of her dress.
As the guard stomped down the hall, Trant’s demeanor changed instantly. Her smirk disappeared, her face became fearful. She stepped back from Dara and cried out.
“Guards! Guards, help! This man is attacking me!”
Belor and Inori waited outside with the first guard, explaining what had happened. After only a few minutes, they saw the second guard return back through the doorway, pulling Dara along by his arm.
“Dame Trant claims that this man assaulted her. Her mouth’s bloody, she struck him in self defense, Senator Karthis is back there as well, he supports her story,” the second guard explained.
“That’s just not true,” Inori interjected. “I was in there, that’s not what happened.”
The first guard looked to the second. “These two claim that Dame Trant started the fight.”
The second shrugged. “Well, the only witness in the room says otherwise. I’m gonna escort this man outside.”
With that, Sir Rostam was ejected from the party. The guard apologized, stating he truly wasn’t sure with whom the fault lied, but under the circumstances he had no choice but to remove Dara from the premises.
Undeterred, Dara took a few minutes to collect himself. He wiped his face, clearing any blood or marks from the strikes, and adjusted his clothing back to appear pristine. He made his way around the side of the Senate as he did so, having seen side entrances behind the gardens earlier. He knew there were dozens of guards at this event, and he could use this to his advantage, but only if his timing was correct.
Ten minutes later, he approached the side door, with only a single guard on duty. The guard raised a hand for Dara to halt as he came close.
“I’m sorry sir, the only access tonight is through the front door,” the guard stated. “I’m gonna have to ask you to use the main entrance.”
“I just came from over there. There is a large amount of people moving about, I was unable to get to the door. As you see, I have my badge here, I was only hoping to get back in quickly,” Dara said, pointing to the Senate badge on his lapel. The guard considered for a moment, before nodding and moving aside.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group moved towards the last of the objectives Lotheed had given them: find out Duke Centimus’ stance on the primogeniture vote. He was present in the library during the Trant fiasco, and watched Dara escorted outside. Belor used the opportunity as a bridge.
“Can’t believe all that happened,” Belor joked to the Senator. “Came up here for a little peace and quiet!”
Duke Centimus laughed and agreed, and Inori joined in helping Belor work his way around to the topic at the heart of the conversation. A few minutes later, Nell arrived, unaware of all that had transpired, and Dara finally filtered back in several minutes after that.
Regardless of the events with Dame Trant, Lotheed’s agents had now finished with the tasks they had been assigned that same morning. Though Inori had been unable to make her deliveries in time, Baron Okerra had been persuaded, and both Lady Pace and Duke Centimus respected the party enough to express their true thoughts behind the abolishing of the old primogeniture.
The party was far from over, however. Who knew where else the night would take them?
Check out the Discord server for a text write-up of #TheStorySoFar (that’s the channel) to get a real quick catch-up to the current episode! Or, look into #WarForTheCrown for fully detailed text versions of the adventures! Also, just come hang out!