Session 4 (William & Cale)
This session started where the last one ended, as William is introduced by the herald at the May Day Althua. Both he and Cale, who will be introduced next, have seen Alexai "the hand and the sword" ?????? speaking with their host, Drial "I am your friend" ?????, in the main tent.
Upon seeing William and Cale, Alexai ducked away into the crowd and left the main tent. William and Drial spend a few minutes exchanging pleasantries, and William is able to determine that Drial knows that the PCs are there to collect a debt, but that he has no idea what that debt is. As Cale is introduced William excuses himself from the conversation, pours two glasses of wine and begins to scan the crowd for Alexai.
Cale's conversation with Drial is much more abbreviated and direct. In essence, he thanks Drial for the invitation to the party in spite of his reputation, and then excuses himself for the express purpose of not taking up Drial's time with meaningless chatter. We know, by this point, that many in polite society believe that Cale had some hand in the death of his siblings; and we also know that that is not true.
Drial remained poised composed during this minute long conversation and it's impossible to tell if he took offense. As Cale made his way out of the main tent, in pursuit of Alexai, he hears the herald announce the presence of Abazai "the cherry blossoms fall" Yvarai. Cale knows that Abazai is trying to raise the necessary ransom to free his brother (Lonor "I am the rival" Yvarai) and that Abazai doesn't wear a sword. All that he knows about Lonor, however, is that he's alive and that his current whereabouts are not a well kept secret (although Cale doesn't actually know where that may be).
As Cale and William moved through the crowds, Cale noticed that Alexai had paused near a group of acrobats in one of the grassy fields between the various tents. Seeing her, and realizing that she was working to keep the bulk of the crowd between her and William - because she hadn't noticed Cale leave the main tent - Cale began to maneuver behind her. More than that, he started subtly using his unwelcome presence to shift the crowd so that she needed to keep backing up closer and closer to a tent wall that didn't have any openings.
William, meanwhile, hadn't seen Alexai yet, and was drawn into a conversation with Baroness Niassa "the ungentle night" Steele. Their conversation was brief, and she seemed to be interested in finding out whether he had an opinion on Duke Dannin's revelation about smart orks at the last Senate session. William responded vaguely and suggested that it would behoove the Senate to assign some of its Vashna (roadmen) to the question, so that an answer could be had one way or the other. Niassa seemed to find this suggestion amusing, but allowed William to change the subject to the party itself and whether it lived up to previous May Day celebrations.
At around this point, William noticed Lady Alexai and excused himself from the conversation with Niassa. Cale also decided that there are too many people around, which may allow Lady Alexai a chance to elude them again. Thinking fast he notices that a great number of servants in this area are carrying empty, or nearly empty, wine bottles, that all of the wine appears to come from the same winery and that it was all bottled in the same year. With these facts in mind, he approaches the nearest Ven, Baroness Maura Burghe, and comments loudly about his vintner warned him about this vintage because, apparently, it was bottled improperly, and tends to cause nightmarish gastrointestinal problems. Maura looks inordinately panicked about this revelation, and hurries into a nearby tent; meanwhile, many of the other Ven move off to - at least - seek a better vintage of wine.
William, clearly the more socially adept representative of Count Tzao, approaches Lady Alexai who appears to concede that she has been caught fair and square. They converse, and she readily admits that she knows why William and Cale have come looking for her. She also directly challenges William's ability to ensure that she pay her debt. After all, this isn't some mere case of wine, or shipment of granite that can be transported by servants from one domain to another. That notwithstanding, William and Cale know that their Count has ordered that the wheels for repayment be set in motion before the end of this Althua. It is determined in the opening salvo of this conversation that she and William have a romantic history and that he views her as "the" woman in his life (i.e. the Irene Adler to his Sherlock Holmes). It is also discovered, although un-revealed, that William is extremely upset about this debt owed, but that he is determined to see his responsibility through to the end. Likewise, it is discovered, but un-revealed, that Alexai is willing to play along and pay down this debt in order to cause William pain.
During this conversation Alexai and William walk into one of the nearby tents - followed by Cale - where they continue to talk on the dance floor. In response to the question about the actual repayment of this debt, William offers up the fact that Lady Gwanal (Edgar's wife) has gotten into the habit of hosting an autumn Salon every year, to which William is always invited. Thus, if Alexai attends as his guest, all of the necessary parties will be present to allow this debt to be repaid. William also notes that this Salon is gaining credibility in the artistic community due, in no-small-part, to Ira's attendance and presentation of some of his smaller works. Further, to ensure that Alexai attends, William insists that she summer with him in his domain. Thanks to some well used risks, Alexai agrees to this plan and the following facts are determined: Alexai is married, and her husband is a Count who is sworn to William's parents. It is also determined that she is barren, but that her husband doesn't know that.
Cale, not wanting to stray too far from William and Alexai simply walks onto the dance floor and stays near enough to them that he can hear most of the conversation. However, he is so focused on what he's listening to, that he stops paying attention to what is around him, and he is run over by Baron Torr " iron does not bend" Adrente and his wife (an unnamed Baroness). Cale manages to remain upright, but the Baron and his wife both end up on the ground. Upon standing, it is clear that Baron Torr is fairly inebriated but he nonetheless squares his shoulders and loudly informs Cale that he believes that his honor has been insulted. Cale responds by questioning Torr's priorities (his wife is still on the floor), and deliberately insulting him for being a drunken boor. Baron Torr responds by declaring that he is no longer insulted, but that he is now well and truly injured by Cale's behavior toward himself and his wife. Cale, once again, responds by deliberately and loudly insulting Torr before helping Torr's wife to her feet and into a chair (it is determined that she has a twisted ankle).
At this Lord Drial makes an appearance and calls for volunteers to sit on a jury and determine whether Baron Torr's complaint of injury is valid. William volunteers on behalf of House Fox, and the following jurors are: Lady Niassa (Elk); Lady S (Falcon); Lady Maura (Bear). Cale and Torr then present their arguments to the Jury (and the assembled Ven witnesses) and Torr's performance is head and shoulders above Cale's. Guilt is all but assured at this point. The Jury deliberations come down to an argument between William, who wants a finding of Insult, and Lady Maura (remember her from earlier) who wants a finding of Injury. Fortunately, William prevails and the Jury orders Cale to pay one-quarter of one season's production of timber to Torr in recompense, and to publicly apologize for his insult.
Cale does so, although he couches it in the most sarcastic and false voice he can muster. Fortunately for him, Baron Torr is just drunk enough not to catch the innuendo, although his wife certainly does. It is determined, however, that his wife isn't going to tell her husband that he was publicly shamed again. Of course, it is also determined that Torr is still seething at everyone involved; up to, and including, the jury.
Cale is then accosted by Baron Abanzai Yvarai, who congratulates Cale for putting that bastard wolf (Baron Torr) in his place. It is revealed that Baron Torr is seeking a formal declaration of revenge from the Senate against Lonor Yvarai for his liaison with Torr's wife. The only thing stopping him is his need for his Count's approval, and his Count is Lady Alexai's husband. Abanzai then explains that he's trying to free his brother, who has been kidnapped by Duke Vangalio Mwrr, without actually having to spend the entire ransom. To that end, he has gathered a group of interested Ven who are willing to risk life and limb to rescue Lonor in exchange for a part of the ransom money (Abanzai reasons that he'll keep a share of the ransom himself, so he's saving money this way). Cale determines that Abanzai's plan is shaky at best, but decides that he's nonetheless interested in helping out. After all, these young Ven seem foolhardy enough that he might be able to make use of them later if he can gain their trust now. Remembering, however, that they're in public, they agree to talk later about the details.
William and Alexai are, at this point, leaving the tent and they see her husband, Count Dosajee "in the Suaven I trust" Steele coming across the lawn with two of his advisers. It is determined that Count Dosajee is a "silly wee man" whose advisers are deadly, effective and may be responsible for his current position in society. He has five total advisers, they are never seen in groups of less than two, and Count Dosajee always has at least two of them with him at all times. They are also completely unknown. That is, they always dress in deep hooded cloaks and robes with expressionless masks. The only differences between them are their various heights and the fact that each mask is of a different precious material. He approaches his wife, nods dismissively at William and, commenting that the hunt is about to begin, escorts her away.
William and Cale spend some time familiarizing themselves with the premise of the hunt that is about to take place. Several peasants have been in attendance at the party as guests (they have been seen from time to time), and they are now preparing to take the place of the traditional fox in the dog hunt. William sees an older Falcon - the Master of the Dogs - tending to the massive canines and is told that all of the peasants are volunteers. They are given an hour head start, and may go in any direction they wish. If they manage to evade capture (and, thus, death) for a full 24 hours then they will have earned the right to be blooded by Baron Drial.
This is where the session wrapped up. Both William and Cale decided not to try and interfere with the hunt in order to give one of the peasants a better shot at winning. Ultimately, none of the peasants survive, but a good time was had by all of the Ven nobles and, really, that's what matters. William was chosen to host the next May Day celebration in the spring. A week after returning home, Lady Alexai honored her agreement and has joined William at his home with her retainers.
Murum aries attigit, Carthago delenda est.
Nihil admittis. Negare omnia. Fac contraria appellis.
Always interested in a PBP or PBEM game.