…To the Frustration of Sovacles…
…and of a certain shieldmaiden.
Relvain Dragonpinner was trying to come up with some way to use her fighting skills to impress The Stone-Skinned King in the gladiatorial arena. But Sovacles — obviously a mind-mage controlling the king somehow — kept frustrating her efforts…
…to say nothing of the revenant-assassin.
Shadowfox kept doing things which seemed totally inappropriate to Relvain. Just things one doesn’t do in situations. Like eating a coin. Or jumping into an acrobatic routine.
And yet these demented actions seemed to impress the king more than the rational alternatives the Dragonpinner was offering.
First, when the king appeared distracted by the gladiatorial combat in the arena below, the assassin got his attention by executing acrobatic stunts. Soon the king was clapping and Sovacles was sulking.
Then Shadowfox tried to intimidate Cachlain.
Sovacles blustered, “Threats will not work against the king.”
But Relvain could see the king was shaken. “Perhaps his paranoia makes him susceptible to intimidation.”
Then Shadowfox did something that really got Relvain’s goat. She convinced Krasire to give the Seed of Winter to the king.
“You didn’t even get anything in return,” she fumed. But the king seemed genuinely impressed with the gift. “Even though he thought it was his in the first place. And how are we going to get it back to give to the Daughter of the Frostwhite Forest?”
Bluffing about the danger posed to the king by the Githyanki, Relvain finally began to make some headway. “I guess I was right about his paranoia.” After a failed atttempt at diplomacy by Shadowfox, she bluffed again with even more success at provoking the paranoia in the king’s mind.
Cachlain’s interest returned to the gladiators — Relvain had been unsuccessful in provoking Sovacles to a duel in the arena, but there was still fighting going on down there. So she tried to do with athletic swings of her axe what she had seen Shadowfox do earlier with his acrobatics.
Unfortunately, she dropped the axe and the remained intent on the gladiators below.
Sovacles said, “The king has had enough of your chatter. Leave the court at once.”
The king did not seem to be paying attention, but offered no disagreement. As they were leaving, they saw Bram Ironfell — an old friend of Storm Johnson — go in and arrange for them to be able to stay in the ambassador’s quarters.
During these sessions where Sovacles came down to her cell complaining, Talryn always remembered the visions she had of her betrayal. In those visions, it always seemed that Delis Erinthal was the only one who could save her. Now the betrayal was real. And somehow the visions seemed more real as well. Today Sovacles was boasting about some audience with the king, about how he had foiled some diplomats who seemed to be set on upsetting the agreement with the Githyanki.
Trinity Shadowfox had plenty of time to get to know Bram Ironfell after the dwarf arranged for them to stay. Bram entertained them with tales of closing the gates to the Elemental Chaos.
When talked turned to his family, though, Bram became bitter. His family’s decision to exile him from their estates really grated on him. Though he was a hero in Overlook, his family’s betrayal — over him doing the right thing — convinced him that the Alliance would never stop the Githyanki.
So he had joined them.
Indeed, he was acting as the Githyanki ambassador to Cachlain’s court. He had already procured the right of the Githyanki to use the portals to pass through the Stone-Skinned King’s domain.
Bram invited them to a formal dinner later and Cain accepted. At the dinner, they met other ambassadors they had seen around the court:
- Adrianna Baelsblood, haughty Tiefling, whose slaving business works with Cachlain’s;
- Troke, a Satyr of the Circle of Crownstone; and
- Droeth, a laconic Cyclops who works for a relative of Cachlain named Uluh-couram.
The food was poison with some kind of sleeping draught. As he slipped into unconsciousness, Cain saw Droeth transform into an Oni Spiritmaster.
“Uh-oh,” she thought as Bram’s guards turned into Rakshasas. Bram seemed as surprised at this as she was.
“I hope one of the dwarves can stay awake,” was her last thought as her face fell into her plate.