Cedarsmoke

The King's Court

The dwarf wizard is brought to the king. The party is met by an escort of royal guards and the king’s own high cleric presides over the interrogation. Tanule’s forceful treatment of the wizard wins him no points with the gathering crowd. After a faux-pas where the dragonborn makes it seem like he is trying to coerce the very words from the prisoner’s throat with talons grasping the wizard’s neck, the party is off to a bad start.

The wizard pleads his innocence and explains that the party of trying to sell him a false scepter. He then lays down several more accusations and begs the high cleric to bring a brazier of truth.

Under the white-hot glow, the party instinctively realizes that any lies will cast long shadows. The wizard seems to be unaffected and tells lies freely about the party trying to peddle a false scepter. “That’s bullshit!” Adris exclaims, “He’s lying!”

After winning some of the growing crowd’s sympathy, the wizard takes the offensive and asks the party if they had indeed spoken of the king potentially being a doppelganger. Such rumors could spread panic and incite revolt in the dwarf kingdom.

Olimorn leans in and whispers to the dwarf wizard that he will be joining his allies as statues of ash as soon as they are free from the court’s prying eyes. The wizard only smiles confidently, not intimidated in the least.

Adrie stumbles over her answer, but the party finds a response that satisfies the torch. They learn that it can only detect lies, not merely half-truths. They did raise the concern among themselves that the king might be a doppelganger, but they certainly did not accuse him openly, nor did they attempt to incite revolt.

The high cleric interjects. He says that he has heard rumors that the party was planning to deceive the king. Did they not surmise that the real scepter was stolen, and not a fake, and that if this was true, they planned to return a false scepter to the dwarf king instead?

The party curses among themselves – how did the cleric know these things? There must have been spying ears at the dwarven tavern when they plotted among themselves. Tanule answers boldly; what he lacks in tact and diplomacy, he makes up for with honesty. The party planned only to do this because of their suspicions of a plot surrounding the scepter; because of this, they have now discerned the location of the real scepter.

The crowd gasps in amazement and murmurs float among them. Has the king’s scepter really been stolen? Who could be behind such a plot?

Adrie’s keen eye spots a glance exchanged between the wizard and the high cleric. She turns and whispers to Sabellia, who nods. She saw it as well. “So that is how he is able to lie…” She turns upon the high cleric with anger flashing across her face, but Olimorn steps in her path, urging her to have some restraint. Accusing the high cleric openly will require a more tactful approach…

Olimorn reaches out with his arcane magic, silently battling with the high cleric for control of the flame. He may not be able to wrest enough control to let the party lie, but he can certainly even the playing ground by forcing the brazier to do its job.

Before the party has a chance to take advantage of the situation, the high cleric turns on Tanule, asking him of his brother. The crowd and the party are amazed to learn that Talon is wanted for the brutal murder of three dragonborn, and he is known throughout the western lands as Talon the Treacherous.

Tanule answers truthfully; he did not know such things were rumored about his brother.

With a signal from Olimorn that the brazier is working true, Sabellia snaps back at the high cleric, asking him where his allegiances lie, and what his plots are for the dwarven kingdom. The dwarf smiles and answers, truthfully, that he was raised a cleric of Moradin and that he wants only what is best for the kingdom.

The crowd does not look favorably upon the party, who seem to be grasping at straws and lashing out at anyone they can to draw attention away from their own unscrupulous history.

“And what of you, warlock?” the high cleric returns. He asks Sabellia about her statement to the Underwatch, where she professed to have nothing to do with the undead attack on the tavern in the heart of the dwarven city.

Though she professes not to be at fault, the truth of what she carries is revealed, and moreover that the warlock knew what it was that she brought when she came. The crowd is less than impressed with her ‘honest’ response.

The heroes quickly snap back with a question about the high cleric’s interest here. Why is he protecting the dwarf wizard? But the high cleric has the ear of the crowd, and in the momentum their question is lost as he thunders on with another.

The dwarf asks the elves if they indeed from the same circle of druids responsible for the disappearances in the Nearwood. Adris answers, half-truthfully. The brazier is satisfied but the nuance of his wording means that the crowd is not.

Sabellia asks the high cleric if he believes himself to be better suited to be king of Tul Kulumad. The dwarf almost answers, then realizes the shadows are growing longer, and falls silent. The crowd murmurs with dissent, but a few among them realize that truly, every dwarf thinks themselves better suited to rule from time to time. Perhaps the high cleric fell silent out of respect.

The high cleric turns on Avaris, smiling as he moves in for the kill. He repeats the customs of Tul Kulumad, drawing the crowd into agreement with him, then tells Avaris what he sees in him: a thief and a scoundrel. He asks him where he hails from, perhaps expecting the incriminating answer to point toward the alleys of Riverthrough or the halfling dens of New Wrinkletoe. The truth is far worse.

Avaris tells him that he is from Malron, spitting that he’s certainly not there now. The crowd doesn’t care for his excuse — the man is from across the Null Seas, as bad as any pirate from those lands! His party seems equally shocked.

Adris notices worn spots on the high cleric’s fingers and seizes upon the crowd’s fury. He asks the cleric to explain the rings that he normally wears, what they mean, and how similar they are to the rings the party found on each of the dwarves who had tried to sell the king’s scepter to Vellraem. Tanule punctuates every word of his elven ally by dropping one of the retrieved rings to the ground.

The crowd falls silent as they wait anxiously for the high cleric’s response. The dull ringing echoing throughout the chamber finally stops as the last ring clatters to the ground, and the high cleric still hasn’t answered. He tries to think of something, but the brazier is too bright. He stumbles over his words, avoiding the question, but Adris gives him no quarter.

At last, the high cleric storms out of the room with several royal guards in close pursuit.

Olimorn leans forward and whispers once more into the dwarf wizard’s ear, “Told you. You’re a dead man.”

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DracheM

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