An Empress Betrayed, Episode 7

“I’m sending this mouse into the Citadel, to seek rumors and hearsay. Perhaps more can be learned about the comings and goings of the council members.” And with that, Afton lifted the tiny varmint to her lips and whispered into its ear. It began to wag its tail excitedly. She set it on the ground, and it immediately scurried down the hallway.

This week’s session starts with the party visiting with their hired scholars. The librarians provide the information that the ceremony involving two steps with the left foot refers to a crowning ceremony. Specifically, it is a rite of passage for the King of Sarpadia. Unfortunately, they also find out that this ceremony is happening tomarrow!

Ambassador Cedric meets with the group at the hideout. A knock can be heard at the door. Delsior opens it, and before him is the Brown Fox, who is hastily putting on his right glove. Just for an instant, the Satyr sees a signet ring with a rose emblem. The Brown Fox enters, and they discuss the clues so far.The party also gives the Brown Fox the needed gargoyle dust, and the Brown Fox says that he will begin the re-animation ritual on the Empress immidiately. It will take exactly 24 hours to complete…

The group travels through the magic circle and arrives early. After passing some Stealth checks (and Diplomacy for Valcora) the group manages to get “back stage”, and goes down a staircase to the basement of the grand hall. Here, they find ladders that take them inside the giant statues lining the parade grounds. Two of the statues have been trapped with mechanical devices. Upon inspecting them more closely, the party can tell that these machines are meant to trigger giant bows that will fire arrows directly at the throne. Unable to disarm them, the party waits in hiding.

Out of the darkness comes General Guren. His eyes are rolled back in his head, and he is walking very stiffly. The PCs manage to tackle him, and hold him down. For about 10 minutes he is completely unresponsive. A successful Arcana check reveals that he is being dominated. He soon comes around, and says that he can remember nothing. But he also reveals that his black out periods began when he started wearing a yellow pendant – a gift from Kaylee, the Elven Wizard. The heroes turn to each other in recognition of this final clue, and agree that Kaylee must indeed be the perpetrator.

The PCs emerge onto the parade grounds after the ceremony. The crowd is milling around and beginning to head for the exits. Each PC tries to follow one of the council members secretly, but all three fail their streetwise roll. The party regroups and heads back to the capitol, and walks to the citadel. At the entrance, they happen to run in to the Court Bard, Xonnith. Delsior notices the signet ring with the rose emblem on his right hand. “My, that is an attractive ring. Are there any others that are like that, or is it one of a kind?”

The Bard wrinkles his brow. “Well, there is only one like this. Why do you ask?”

“Because the Brown Fox wears a ring exactly like that. And since there is only one ring like that, you must be the Brown Fox.”Delsior says.

The Bard smiles, and looks to each of the companions in turn. “I am afraid you have discovered my secret identity. I trust that you will never reveal this information to anyone…”

And with that, the party enters the throne room, to see a magical light coming from the statue of the Empress. Her skin turns from a rocky grey to rosy pink, and she tumbles to the floor unconcious. And then… DUN DUN DUUUUN! Next week, the conclusion…

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