The Burnt World of Athas

Session 16

"The Orphan Company Remembers..."

The royal assassins parted with their gear and surrendered to the waiting guards. Along the way to their cells they caught an unusual sight: clerics were openly proselytizing about the return of the gods who made Athas. Mostly the party heard portions of a story about how the Goddess Melora and her adherents felled Kalak. The piecemeal story of the battle sounded very familiar…

At the fighting pits the party was separated in cells. Kid made small talk with Harkwood and the other prisoners, as Mulses' Mul cell mates recognized him as an unwanted liberator. They garnered some information about how these fights work, and tried to build goodwill in case the prisoners should be part of the fight. Mulses offered legitimate freedom to the 5 Mul, who were incredulous. 

In the middle of the night Harkwood noticed the guard patrols had stopped. Kid convinced Harkwood to drop some knives, which he did just as flames and electricity began to dance back and forth between the two templars and numerous figures in the darkness. Eventually the younger Templar was stabbed in the back by an invisible figure. As Harkwood turned to face the assassin, another much larger and imposing form leapt out to intercept him. The two traded blows and occasional flashes of magical light punctuated their battle. Trigger, who had been aiding Harkwood, was felled after some time by an arrow. And Harkwood began to falter under the larger brute's relentless blows, eventually letting his guard slip and succumbing.

As the victors walked towards the torch-light, the party recognized Cutter and Gwyn. After some taunting, more figures emerged from the darkness, one holding a thrax at bay with a rope on a stick with an aim to lock it in Kid's cell with him.

The thrax was crazed, mindlessly trying to move in one direction. Kid, sensing an opportunity, made thug holding the thrax double over in hideous laughter. As he dropped the stick everyone tensed for the thrax to attack, but it ran, crazed, to Malachi's cell.  The erstwhile veiled ones left at the sound of approaching guards, with more taunts being exchanged on the exit. The party found the thrax's wounds magically knit, but the guards were able to take control of it.

Later that day, the trial began. Lucien's templar laid out the charges and the allegation they conspired to weaken Tyr on purpose. The crowd seemed subdued, with an air of dread rather than excitement about the gathering.

The accused responded with much more flair, and an excerpt from the chronicles. A cautionary tale for those who betray the company, doubt their loyalty, or seek to destroy them. In the speech Kid mentioned the Free City of Tyr, which drew strong reactions from everyone. Subdued, excited gasps from the crowd, a look of relief on the face of the veiled alliance, and disgust from the few Templars and nobles who didn't hide their emotions well.

The first witness was expected, the dead librarian who established the party as the only ones present when he died, and that the party had been within the archives for some time before. The templar expounded on the cause of death and missing entries for Sukir and the party, although he had to admit there were missing entries for hundred of people who entered Tyr in a week's period. The party only asked if the librarian saw who killed him, which he did not. They dismissed the witness as irrelevant, which remained to be seen.

The next witness accused the party of the murder of Templar Tamara, but was interrupted by their confession. The party in fact called their own witness, the Karrikal who had accompanied Tamara, to confirm the murder. Nil conferred briefly with the party and shared that the Karrikal psionically preserved everything it witnessed, and he asked where he should focus the images. He focused and after some time looking at the Karrikal now instead showed a floating image of what it had seen. Nil started with the party in Blue Spring being observed from a distance, with Demar and her child in their care. He fast forwarded to the fight with the Templars, and the crowd was unable to hide excited shouts as fire and arrows rained back and forth and others hacked and slashed at each other. Eventually Watcher fell to Tamara's magic, and as she pressed her advantage with a series of defilements, he withered away. Screams began to echo from the cart then die down. A glance at Lady Voldon revealed her stone faced, but her knuckles white from clenching her chair. Cheers erupted after Tamara finally fell, but those quickly died down after a stern look from Lucien.

Although this portion mostly backfired, Lucien made the most of the situation, using the Karrikal to show the party in Blue Spring lying about their purpose, Chronicler speaking with Shale about the Veiled Alliance and the company working together at the Black Steppes, and the beginning of the fight where the party attacked, mostly unprovoked.

Next came out Hasan, who appeared terrified. For this witness, three templars cast magic on him, nodding or shaking their heads at the truth of his statements. He answered questions about Hafeeza coming to buy antidotes, that it happened before the reports of the poisoning, and that Hafeeza appeared distraught and was cryptic with her goals. 

The accused questioned Hasan to reinforce that all the reports indicated the poisoning came from Urik, to try to kill the bulk of able bodied individuals. And only the Templars quick work in calling for conscription avoided the tragedy of losing even more people, and also taking a big blow to Tyr's army. The crowd responded well to this, people calling out for vengeance for the warrens, and to remember the sorrows.

The Templar stood to retort and Kid conferred with him, warning that he risked civil war. While the Templar agreed to move on he said this was just a preview; that Lucien would rather the city fall than be in Tithian's control. Kid questioned what the Templars fate would be if that were to happen. 

The Templar changed topics with Hasan, focusing on the conspiracy with Sukir before Kalak's impalement, and the discussions with the party after. Although he tried to lie, the party urged Hasan to share the confession. And to a stunned crowd Hasan said the party told him that they had killed Kalak. Kid clarified that it wasn't totally accurate, and gave a recap of the tree and what had happened, to bewildered stares. The spell casting Templars had moved to Kid, and verified the truth of his statements. This left Hasan alone with Lucien's Templar on the witness dias. And the Templar looked to his patron for guidance.

Lucien clarififed that Hasan is not on trial. So there was no reason to wait for a verdict, and he immediately sentenced him to death for his admission of conspiracy. As the Templar's sword rose the members of the veiled alliance in the crowd began to stir and Kid tried to take him on as one of them, but the sword fell despite these intercessions. Hakar calmed his section of the crowd, and the rest of the arena fell silent.

Sensing that Lucien had gone too far, the party pressed their advantage. They tied together their commitment to Tyr, the bloodlust that had been whipped up against Urik, and their actions to show they had done everything to protect Tyr. They did not mention Kalak's actual plans, however. Tithian took this opportunity to stand and the party tensed to see what he would do. He kept true to his word, he took complete credit for the parties' actions and blasphemed Kalak, whose incompetence would have doomed Tyr. He gave the crowd freedom to call him what he was now that they no longer lived in fear of his power, a fool.

As the crowd responded Tithian spoke with Lucien, who ended his presentation of evidence. The group chose combat rather than a verdict, and turned to their judges to see their votes. 

-Tithian went first, and with no surprise gave the party a boon. Powerful spells to boost their effectiveness significantly. 

-Agis went next, saying that the last Kingslayer became the King of Tyr, he gave the party his boon, the power to choose their field of battle. 

-Tehosian, the older uncaring Templar, said he could not sanction such treasonous actions and would provide a bane, a boost to the enemy combatants at a time he saw fit. 

-Marshastra, the bellicose one who seemed most upset throughout the evidence, gave the party her bane, taking the weapons, equipment, and armor that all entrants would have had to begin. 

-Lucien gave a tirade of the party's actions as disastrous, dulling the audience's hope with the realization that they now faced overwhelming odds against a near god, with their own countervailing power felled. He undid Tithian's boon, as the party hoped.

Lady Voldon then rose to speak for the nobles and merchants. She was clearly emotional at what she had seen, but also clearly credited the party for having actually done as they said: entered into a contract with Demar and done their best to protect her and her child. She stared at Lucien as she threw her boon into the ring, a 2 foot long bag. Kid peered inside at a veritable armory, and drew out a shining metal sword.

The crowd exploded. Sure a majority of Templars seemed to still oppose the party, but the crowd sensed a hope that had not existed just a few minutes ago. It now felt as though this fight was for the very freedom of Tyr.

Comments

Gello10

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