Monthly Archives: November 2006

Vorloi, Torenescu and Radu

Feldard greeted the Tribune with a grunt. “No luck yet in finding Skevlos. Saeth and I will be checking the docks shortly but I’d like another look at the tunnels first” He says it as a statement not a question. Then noting what the Tribune is doing, he’ll peer at the map as well. He points out the X’s he recognizes. “So we’re here, that’s the Rattlebone Inn. The guesthouse.. these other two.. one would be the goodwife’s house presumably and this last X.. would be where?”

The Tribune responds that they too have not been able to locate this Skevlos. “We have however confirmed the locations of these other X’s on the map.” Pointing to one of them, he says, “This here is a guest house within the Baron Vorloi’s Mansion, and here is the house of Zweis Radu.”

“Zweis Radu? This name is new. Who is he and how does he fit into this? So goodwife Thanato’s house isn’t marked on the map?” He strokes his beard pondering.

“Zweis is the son of Anton Radu, the head of the Radu family. It is most troubling. The tension between the families is threatening to tear the city apart. And this mystery is at the heart of it.”

“Radu. That’s a name I’ve been expecting. Hmm. I think we should pay them a visit. But I would recommend being accompanied by the guard. This is not likely to be a friendly meeting.”

“I have appreciated your help with this matter thus far, but I have to insist that you leave the investigation of the Radu’s and the Torenescu to us. This is a complicated political situation and best handled through official channels. Tensions are already high. This is not the time to encourage vigilantism.”

Upon hearing these words Miklos see’s that atempting to gain access to the Baron via the Tribune would prove fruitless. Still he might know where he is. “Is the Baron currently in the city, Tribune?”

“I spoke to him about this matter last night. He is most distressed.”

“I would like to discuss some theories we have formulated but I see you are a busy man and I’ll quiet understand if our insights are of no use to you.” Miklos calculated the implied insult that the Tribune would dismiss them without giving them ear. “We are relatively unkown in the city, we have the advantage of not being known, nor are our political creditials sullied by any possible bribery. We have proved to you that we are trustworthy and honest, and are opposed to whatever is going on here. Perhaps you could invest us with some special dispensation to investage this mystery on your behalf? Also Maruc here is a unimpeachable member of the Clergy, surely you could not accuse him of vigilantism?”

Ahh friend Miklos I’m sure the Tribune is far too busy than to worry about us running aroung using his name like a battering ram!” Maruc grinned at the young mage, “Not that you would of course.”

To the Tribune and Feldard he suggested, “But to me a permanent tunnel network would indicate an attempt to make a secret method of communication. You could safely pass secret messages and even arrange secret meetings. Secret meetings imply unlikely bedfellows. Unlikely bedfellows like traditionally antagonistic enemies? Now what would drive such individuals together? Money and Power, naturally. Who has the money and power in the city that these bedfellows might covert?”

“It doesn’t take a genius does it, eh?” Maruc sighed. Why are men so greedy? As if there isn’t enough suffering in the world.

“On the upside, however, if it truly is made up of elements of all three families, it can’t be but a weak faction of each–elsewise, why the secrecy? Who could oppose all the oligarchs united? It would be a lesser faction, seeking to… achieve their goals… through indirect methods.” Saeth shied away from saying kill the Duke openly, but that would be the primary goal, to unseat him and replace him with a ruler of the Veiled Society’s choosing.

This collection of would-be heroes was strange indeed, the Tribune thought to himself. Though he appreciated their good intentions, this Vorloi murder situation was putting him under tremendous pressure, and he had little time to indulge them. “As I have said, we have appreciated your aid thus far, but at this point this is a matter for the justice system to handle. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to return to my duties.”

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A New Day

A new day dawned in Specularum, and breakfast was being served in the Blue Water Inn. Saeth, Feldard, Miklos, Nicolai and Maruc gathered once again in the inn’s main room.

Saeth was certain that this unfinished tunnel formed the key to the mystery. In between bites of egg, she insisted, “I can’t believe their plan was somehow complete with the death of a lesser noble’s neice. As soon as we finish, we should stroll about the area that this last tunnel could be headed for. If their last target could be identified, that could limit our suspects somewhat.

At Seath’s words, Nicolai almost chokes. “A lesser noble’s niece! Baron Vorloi has been as such since that Thyatian Stefan assumed control 30 years ago! He has bankrolled the good Duke since then, and yet made a tidy profit. Ask the loggers of Threshold where their wood goes… to make ships for Vorloi! He puts himself and his family between the old Traladarans and the Duke! But, I’m still worried about that ring. It was too easy to find, and too obvious. I smell a plant.”

“However, to the west of the tunnel in progress would be the Ducal Palace. But I’m not sure who ever is behind this would necessarily be so direct. Slander and discredit your enemy’s allies, but out right warfare seems unlikely”

Miklos put in, “Ok, how about the idea that there is internal conflict within the Vorloi family? I would love to be present when the Tribune questions the Baron. Perhaps the Baron himself is implicated in the construction of the tunnels and they have been taken over by the Veiled Society? Although you’d have to be fairly twisted to murder your own family members. And I wouldn’t want to live in a city where that sort of thing is possible. The tunnel heading in the direction of the Ducal Palace seems to confirm part of Maruc’s theory – namely that the conspiracy goes right to the top.”

“As a member of a fairly well born household I might be able to find out about or perhaps be present at the questioning of the Baron. I’ll see how the land lies with the Tribune before I can promise anything. Maruc being of the Clergy may also have grounds for attendance. but whether the Baron would reveal anything of substance in front of us may be doubtful. I wonder where the Baron is?”

“The worst thing about this is that whatever happens, we will end up on the wrong side of the Veiled Society,” offered Nicolai. “Their influence and network runs deep, and to earn their emnity now is a sure way to have problems in the future. Yes, it would be an idea for Miklos to try and attend the interview with the Baron, but I think I’ll have a chat with the servants and general staff. I might get more out of them than the Baron himself is prepared to say.”

Saeth sighed. It seemed like fate’s whims had stuck her with the dwarf once again. At least this put her in an environ in which she was more familiar than an interrogation of a noble. “I guess that leaves Feldard and I to make a tour of the dockside.” Hopefully she’d be able to stand by the time they’d gotten through the list of taverns that the dwarf had collected.

Saeth sighed. It seemed like fate’s whims had stuck her with the dwarf once again. At least this put her in an environ in which she was more familiar than an interrogation of a noble. “I guess that leaves Feldard and I to make a tour of the dockside.” Hopefully she’d be able to stand by the time they’d gotten through the list of taverns that the dwarf had collected.

Feldard merely grunted over his morning meal at the Elf’s summation. “Docks it is then.. though why don’t we first meet up with the Tribune in the tunnels first and see if his men had any luck with those two overnight. Plus something about the tunnels is nagging at me.”

So, the group gathered themselves and walked a couple blocks to the area where the tunnels had been dug. Curious onlookers gathered around the sites, especially the Vorloi house. Tensions rise as several people speak out against the Torenescu. Clearly, the general sentiment is that they are responsible for Lucia’s death. Some even accuse the Torenescu of being the masterminds behind the Veiled Society.

City guardsmen continue their investigation while also doing crowd control. When asked the location of the Tribune, they direct the group to the Vorloi house. They meet the Tribune inside, where he is studying the parchment Saeth had found in the cellar.

“Good day to you,” he says absentmindedly, his mind occupied with his investigation.

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Pieces of the Puzzle

Ordering an ale from the barkeep, Feldard questioned the man further. “Know you then where the dockworkers find their nightly relaxation?”

“Well, there are a number of establishments near the docks. Let’s see there’s The Hand & Dagger, The Sailor’s Tap Room, The Mirror Bay Mead House, The Salty Sea Dog and Barnacle Bill’s. Might be one or two I’m forgetting.”

Feldard thanked the pint-slinger and returned to his companions table, with ale in hand, picking up bits and pieces of the gossip going around. He shook his head with a sour look forestalling any questioning from them. Good thing, none had taken him up on his bet! He drowned his disappointment with a quaff of his ale.

Saeth waited a moment, sipping her own mug, while the dwarf calmed himself. A calm dwarf was a good dwarf. Or a better dwarf, at any rate. After he’d gone through a second ale, she judged he’d cooled off somewhat.

“I have no sense of the distances underground. With your tunneling… talents–” though the swordswoman saw any talent that required you to be underground as a curse– “have you enough grasp of the distances travelled to see where the pit would be? Behind the bar? In a back room?”

Feldard considered the Elf’s words for a moment, glancing about mentally orientating himself within the tunnels. Then pointed towards the kitchen area. “The kitchen area.. though if I judge our newest friend Nicolai right, he’s already checking that out.”

Nicolai waited for his moment. The waitresses and barkeep were all occupied. He stealthily made his way to the rear kitchen area. He saw a kitchen worker open a hatch and dump some garbage. With his keen hearing, he could hear the foodstuffs and trash go into a chute and make a plop. The worker returned to other duties, so the youthful rogue made his way to have a look at the chute for himself.

Opening the hatch, he couldn’t see very far into the darkness. The chute was fairly narrow, probably too difficult to pass through for anyone larger than a child. It appeared that left this avenue of investigation closed. It appeared the refuse pit’s presence in the tunnels was due to happenstance.

“We need to find this Skevlos fellow. Perhaps down by the docks… ” He finished off his second ale and snorted, then looked towards the priest and the mage, “You are men of learning, so what make you of all this?”

Miklos spread his map that he’d made of the tunnel network out on the tavern table. Thoughts tumbling through his mind. He turned to Maruc.

“An interesting conspiracy is afoot here. We have the players; Fortunato Vorloi, a cousin of Baron Vorloi—currently at sea and has been for weeks. The Vorloi are close allies of Duke Stefan. Slain daughter Lucia Vorloi—killed violently in her own house, tried to reveal her attackers with the letters BAD/BOA/RAD/RAO, which could be Radu?” He took a sip of wine, “The Radu are a prominent Traladarian family embroiled with tensions that must include the Vorloi—if Lucia’s final message is to be believed.”

“Then there are the Torenescu—why would they wish to make a point disrupting the Festival of Lucor? What connection does there lie in the discovery of the ring? Or is it a plant as Nicolai indicated?”

“What are the motives of the Veiled Society? As you can see from my map and compare it with the map the Seath found there appears to be a conspiracy dating back weeks, indeed this times well with the departure of Fortunato does it not?”

“Theosius, our benefactor is Thyatian, as are the Vorloi. Perhaps he might be able to enlighten us further on Thyatian politics?”

Miklos mulled further on his thoughts. “What of the Butcher/Landlord Turano and his tenant dockworker Skevlos? And what of the red hair that was found in dried blood on the dagger at the crime scene, on the bloody rags in Turano’s cellar and in the purple hood in the guest house?”

“Apparently, no one at the Rattlesnake knew their garbage chute leads to a tunnel network?” Hmm, Miklos tried to formulate some sort of pattern that linked all the evidence. “Vorloi, Torenescu, Radu, Veiled Society, Lucia’s murder, Fortunato Vorloi at sea. Dispoiling the Festival. The Ring, The Dagger, Red Hair, Purple Robes.”

“The Old quarter is where all the old families resided, and therefore is at the center of this conflict” Miklos stared at the map.

“Ok here is a hypothosis: In an attempt to weaken the Duke, the local Traladarian clans conspire to cause some sort of coup by planning to assassinate or capture his close ally the Baron. They formulate a new society called the Veiled Society to cover their tracks. They wait until the Baron departs on a long sea journey and they abduct slaves to dig a tunnel from a safe house – The guest house, to the Mansion of the Vorloi.”

Maruc took a long draught of ale, “They are not tunneling experts so they go amiss and break into cellars accidentally. Still they carry on. They succeed in locating the mansion but whilst investigating the mansion in order to plan their abduction or murder of the Baron they find out the mansion isn’t empty – they are discovered by Lucia. They have to get rid of her but she recognises her attackers from their looks or accents. She is stabbed to silence her but she manages to write a message and drag herself away so that her murderers do not realise what she has done.”

“We happen upon them as they try to bury her corpse.” Maruc looked at the Mage as he thought about his theory.

“You assume that their ultimate target was the Duke himself? Via the Baron?” Miklos rasied an eyebrow.

“Also, why if they had already reached their goal would they continue digging?” Miklos downed another mouthful of wine. “No, we have only half a theory. What houses of interest lie west of the tunnel network? Perhaps this new tunnel was a ‘plan b’ after the murder of Lucia?”

“Just a thought—Lucia could have been writting ‘Baron’?” Maruc stared darkly into his beer, he felt no nearer to the solution, but it helped take his mind off the deaths in the tunnel.

The night passed quickly as the group discussed their theories and reviewed the clues they had acquired so far. Finally, last call was made and the group made their way back to the Blue Water Inn.

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Tavern Talk

Maruc had followed the others fairly absentmindedly. The prayer he ha said over the crumbling masonery in the tunnel had left him thougthful. Keen to follow the dwarf Maruc placed faith in his forthright manner. Feldard seemed to cope with the situation more readily than the others. they seemed more self possessed.

In the Inn Marcuc sat down heavily and ordered a strong ale. After todays exploits he deserved a rest so he raxed with an ale in the Rattlesnake while the others busyed themselves.

As he sank further into his seat he dwelt on the red hair of the poor girl and how it had eneded up in so many places?

“What could this mean?” he said aloud. Seeing the confused faces around him he explained himself further. “I mean I personally will investigate further to ascertain the truth.”

“Ascertain where friend Maruc? I have personally ensured we heve missed nothing of import. Still I will glady seek along with you.”

Saeth once again moved to her typical seat against the wall. Her eyes scanned the room. Quickly giving up on finding an individual in this mass of humanity, she looked at floor level, trying to identify the location of the rubbish pit beneath. The pit wouldn’t be in the main room though. Probably in the back behind the kitchen.

Nicolai made his way to the out house as an excuse to scout around the back of the inn.

Feldard also left the party’s table, but he chose to head to the bar and sought out the barkeep. “My good man, I seek a man named Skevlos. Was told he might put me in contact with someone to gain employment. Would he frequent this establishment? And is he here presently?” He sets on the bar one of the coins given him as retainer from Theosius. Seated high on one of the barstools, he glanced over the room looking for anything note – Skevlos, red hair, purple hoods.. anything to further solve this mystery.

Saeth kept half an eye on the dwarf as he strode to the bar. He wasn’t doing a half bad job, not for a humorless dwarf, but he’d need someone to help him out if things went wrong (or even if he just ended up drinking instead of querrying). Someone fleet of wit and foot, more like Lanovar of the Silver Bow than the hero of Rothgar Threehammers and the Queen of Dragons.

“Skevlos?” the bartender thought to himself for a moment. “I’d like to help you friend, but that name is not familiar to me.”

Meanwhile, Nicolai circled the perimeter around the inn, sticking to the shadows. Nothing appeared to be amiss. After searching for several minutes, he returned to the tavern area.

Perhaps, the tunnellers had broken into the refuse pit below by sheer accident and there was nothing sinister going on at the Rattlebone Inn afterall.

As the group sat at the table, they overheard gossip start to spread throughout the room. The news of the tunnels and the death of Lucia Vorloi quickly took over as the main topic of discussion amongst the patrons. They pick up bits and pieces of various conversations.

“The niece of the baron is slain! How could this happen.”

“Did you hear that she insulted the Torenescus? She rebuked Stephanos in front of the entire family!”

“Stephanos deserved it. He’s a pompous snob!”

“They’re all pompous snobs as far as I’m concerned!”

“First, the Torenescu disrupt the Festival of Lucor, and now are no doubt involved with murder. They think their wealth makes them above the law!”

Clearly, these new developments are upsetting to the citizenry.

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Rattlebone Inn

Feldard eyed the butcher Turano skeptically as the group watched the Tribune question the butcher. From time to time, they threw in a few questions of their own.

They learned that Skevlos had been renting from Turano for about a year. He had occasional visitors, but they never made any noise or caused any trouble. Neither Turano nor Skevlos not a member of any prominent family.

“I don’t know if it’ll help all that much, but do you supposed that this Skevlos is one of the individuals we encountered in the tunnels,” offered Saeth. A guest house, a pub, a goodwife’s house, and the Vorloi manor. Surely this entire plot was not merely to kill the young lady Vorloi, could it?

“And the room with the diggers–they were carving a new tunnel. Might we want to consider the buildings above it, where that tunnel’s destination may have been?” Saeth didn’t like this detective work. Things should be simple, straightforward. But what must be done, must be done. “Wherever we end up going, shall we get started?”

Feldard jumped in. “Hmm, how much do you want to bet that this Skevlos frequents the Rattlebone Inn after his shift at the docks? Dockworkers are notorious for enjoying their drink. We go to the Inn first!”

With that said, Feldard bid farewell to the Tribune promising that if they found this Skevlos or other information that they would find means of passing it along to him. Then he set off to find the Rattlebone Inn. It was only a short distance away.

 

It was a typical inn and there seemed to be nothing amiss. The group was able to find a table with a good view of the room. Having been hungry after a full day of exploring the tunnels, the group ordered a hearty meal from a waitress.

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Unanswered Questions

“You look deep in thought my dwarven friend I myself can’t help thinking that there must be some connection that we are missing between these houses. Or those who live therein.”

“I for one think that the least attractive entrance would prove the most fruitful. I’d lay a claim that the exit to the Inn would yeild some fascinating answers – although I’d rather go in by the top with the guard and let those would wish to this exit reveal themselves by climbing down here into a trap?”

“What do you think? There are many avenues of thought here.”

Still down below in the cellar, Feldard regarded the priest. “Checking out the Inn without the guards may prove more fruitful still, and is what I intend to do after this. As for your suggestion of a trap, that would be for the Tribune to decide and from his orders it seems he has other intentions.”

He scrambled up the ladder, followed by the mage and cleric, emerging into the guest house and somewhat disappointed at the lack of a skirmish. He looked over the room, and it’s sparce furnishing then headed to the window, careful to avoid stepping in the muddy tracks, and watched the progress of the Tribune’s men.

One of them opened a desk drawer and pulled out a purple hood. The Tribune walked over to examine the hood.

“Tribune, there was red hair caught in the blood back in the Vorloi house, and under the girl’s fingernails. Can you think of anyone in the Torenescu or Radu clans that has red hair?”

“Red hair in this hood as well.” The Tribune replied. “But the answer to your question is no, so far as I am aware.”

A guard came in to the room. “Sir, we have the owner of the house ready for questioning.”

“Very well. Take me to him.”

As the Tribune departed, Nicolai mused on the nature of the clues they had found. “The writing in blood the Vorloi girl left, could it have been trying to spell out Radu? The ring we found looks like a plant, it was too easy to find, and if it had fallen off in a struggle, then that person would probably have noticed and looked for it. It would be rather incriminating. Hence the question is, what would the Radu gain from killing the Vorloi girl, and could it be a ruse to further encourage tension between the two families? Or have they been behind the friction all along?”

“But that doesn’t explain the tunnels. Why were they dug? Pre-planned escape routes? Or just secret ways around the city? Now I’m just not sure of the answers.”

Nicolai ended his speculation and suggested they go to the main house and observe the owner. It turns out the house belongs to a butcher named Turano. He rented the house to a man named Skevlos, a dock worker. Questioned about hair color, Turano reported that Skevlos had black hair.

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The Guest House

Saeth leapt to the top of the stack of beams, and unrolled the parchment, seeking some hint within about this scheme. It was a map of this area of the city. The Old Quarter. Several buildings were marked with an X.

“Is there anything of note there Mistress Saeth?” Miklos enquired. The Tribune joined the two in examining the document.

Pointing at the X’s, the Tribune explained that they marked the locations of Fortunato Vorloi’s House (where Lucia was killed), the Rattlebone Inn (located above the refuse pit they had passed earlier), and three others, including presumably the house above the cellar they are currently in.

“Odd that they didn’t continue digging once the tunnel came down here,” remarked Saeth as she first entered the room. “Feldard, with your subterranean habits–” she shivered involuntarily “Do you have any observations?”

Feldard explained that this was the oldest part of the tunnel system. “This is likely where the tunnel system began” He looked to the Tribune. “We should see who lives above and question them.”

Indeed, the Tribune had already ordered 3 of his guard to take up positions at the base of the ladder.

She glanced upwards, toward the trapdoor. “This house doesn’t seem to use its cellar. Do we know who it belongs to? Speaking of, the frightened Madame of the first house we looked at, is she one of these… Vorloi?”

“No, Lady Thanato is not related to the Vorloi, nor any of the three families.”

Inside, Saeth rolled her eyes. The cities of the south, despite their radiant names, seemed to be every bit as dirty, corrupt, and evil as their Darokin counterparts.

Nicolai begged everyone to be quiet. Then climbed the ladder to press his ear to the underside of the trapdoor and make out any sounds coming from above. He heard none

In readiness at the base of the ladder, the Tribune nodded up towards Nicolai, and motioned for him to open the trap door. Nicolai inched the trap door open so that he could see the room above. Empty. Drawing his sword, he entered the small house. It appeared deserted, although it seemed that someone had been living here recently.

There was no furnishing other than an old bed, a desk and a chair. There were muddy tracks around the room, leading to and from the trap door. On the desk was a near-empty bottle containing a thick, brownish wine. Looking through the window, it can be seen that this small building was a guest house, located at the rear of a larger house.

The Tribune ordered his men to see if anyone was at home in the larger house.

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