Episode 14: Confession at the Keep Prose in Gokrenxia | World Anvil

Episode 14: Confession at the Keep

Previously, on Tales of the Inner Council

In the catacombs deep beneath the Library of Stoverj, the raven-like Ruling Council member Yahri Negdahe learned of the discovery of ancient, indecipherable runes that has members of the nobility – such as one Lord Kirmani - aflutter. It is rumored to contain secrets pointing to lines of succession for the Imperial throne of the elven Empire. Lines of expressed interest to Lord Mirza, an elven noble who saved the Ruling Council from being poisoned by a treacherous member of the Captain Haruchi's royal guard.   As the Grand Marshall headed off to the Southeastern Spice Docks district on a task of his own design, the Chief Diplomat too set out to the West side of Stoverj with a different goal in mind.

Lower Vaashti District, Southwestern Stoverj

Vath'azen's raven-feathered Chief Diplomat and Arbiter, Lord Yahri Negdahe, rode across the rain-soaked Southern bridge from Stoverj's Ealybai district into the Lower Vaashti district. Lower Vaashti had a feel similar to the Spice Docks situated northeast across the harbor, offering an array of constantly busy piers and moorings for ships, but it lacked the deep water for larger vessels, making it ideal for smaller craft. As a result, one could find fewer stacks of goods, but far greater variety.   He paused a moment, looking out over the harbor. Even with one's visibility clouded by rainfall, it was impossible to miss the imposing green wood of the Dwarven ship Grewinruul anchored there. Yahri didn't make it to this side of the river often, but after his encounter with the Dwarven foreman Brumard Nazarov in the catacombs beneath the Library, he had set out to locate the Kirmani family. Brumard had said "Lord Kirmani's people" were directly receiving information about the excavation of a chamber covered in strange runes, allegedly holding Imperial secrets about lines of succession.   Yahri had asked around in the court, and sure enough the rumors were flying. He'd simply been too engaged with his new responsibilities as a member of the ruling council to keep up with the gossip. It didn't help that he'd been the only member of the council who seemed to be available to the people these past few days. Lord Taibil and Mistress Hua'zur had yet to return from their excursion into Karnwood forest, and the volatile Lord Pa'lakh generally avoided administrative functions. Yahri sighed, hoping there would be more "counsel" in the council in the comings days.   Much to his surprise, the Kirmani family had not been difficult to locate for someone so connected throughout the court. The Kirmani's had apparently been very prominent some sixty years prior, in the early days following the Great War under Vath'azen's wartime leader, Grand Marshall Batu Ch'luun (the father of the late King). Yet something had happened - a scandal of which almost no details were commonly known - causing them to fall out of favor with the Grand Marshall. The Kirmani's had retreated to their home, known as Vest Golwuj, here in Lower Vaashti and rarely engaged with the court.   Vest Golwuj was a small, reconstructed Imperial fort situated on the seashore, at the crossroads where the inland waterways emptied into the harbor. Yahri eyed the people of Lower Vaashti. They had a look of contentment in their eyes and less a sense of burden on their faces. The doors of the houses here were decorated with shells and artifacts recovered from the sea. It had a very different feel from the average folk in the city proper.   Has the crown been so oppressive? He wondered.   Even with the poor weather, it didn't take long to traverse the well-kept roads to Vest Golwuj. The rebuilt Elven fort stood proudly watching over the mouth of the river. Kynekin archers manned its high walls, keeping a vigilant eye. They marked his approach with an audible signal to the guards at the front gate, who snapped to attention.   "Ho there, Lord," called the first, raising one hand to halt and the other palming his sheathed sword. He was an Arjeev male with the spotted, tan and black face of a hyena. His spiked metal armor glistened in the rain and showed no signs of rust or age, a sign it had been well cared for. "What brings you to Kirmani Keep?"   Yahri half-smirked at the grandiose name, but decided this was neither the time nor place to comment. "Good man, I have need to meet with your Lord."   The guard shook his head in response. "I'm sorry, Lord. He's not here at the present."   Yahri cocked his head in mild frustration, staring at the guard. He could hear Jenta's mocking tone in the back of his mind. You should have summoned him to the castle. You're in charge. Act like it.   "Do you know when he'll return?" Yahri sighed.   The hyena-man's eyes narrowed slightly in suspicion. "Mind telling us who's asking?"   The Chief Diplomat straightened in the saddle and brushed back his soggy hood. "Ruling council member," he emphasized, "Lord Yahri Negdahe seeks an audience."   Both guards' eyes widened. "Oh! Sorry mi'Lord! We'd heard about your..." He hesitated, searching for the proper words.   "Good fortune?" Offered Yahri.   The guard nodded vigorously, water flicking from his tall-pointed ears. "Yes, of course. Let's get you inside and out of the rain. Lord Kirmani will probably be back within the hour or so if you're wanting to wait inside out of the rain."   Yahri smiled politely. "Yes, of course."   The guard motioned to his compatriots on the ramparts above and with a deep crack the gates swung open.
The capital city of Vath'azen.
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What follows is an Ironsworn RPG solo session. My notes will generally be captured in the form of: Character Initials: action
  • six-sider/ten-sider/ten-sider-result(Strong, Weak, Miss)
  • Effect
  • Show spoiler
    Oracle: Hold Destiny YN: Gather Information (+wits)
  • Courtier +1
  • 8/3/3-S-Crit!
  • Oracle: Are there guards?
  • 50/50/36 - Yes
  • Oracle: Races?
  • 50/50: Kynekin
  • 63: Arjeev
  • 40: Vyrian
  • YN: Compel (+heart)
  • 8/1/8-W-1M w/complication
  • YN: Uncover the secret of the tunnel
  • Progress: 4/10

  • Drawing Room, Kirmani Keep

    The rich woods comprising the sizable, two-level drawing room in Vest Golwuj were brightly lit by dozens of candles in wall sconces, lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and a large chandelier. Natural grey lighting from the cloudy sky outside filtered in from tall, second-level windows. Beautiful, carefully-restored paintings filled much of the open wall space. Yahri made a mental note to mention these to Chodvar, what with his love of rare paintings.   Intricately carved sideboards lined the room, with various trinkets and artifacts. In the center of the room stood a hefty, low rectangular wooden table with several large pieces of parchment laid out. In sum total, the room felt more like a museum than a place to entertain guests. It was then Yahri realized there was nowhere to sit.   Clearly Lord Kirmani prefers his privacy.   Strolling to the central table, Yahri scanned one of the documents. The parchment was old. Portions of it were smudged and damaged from exposure to the elements. It appeared to be a will, written in flourishing imperial script. The author cited his only two possessions in the world were his apothecary shop here in Lower Vaashti and his family's ancestral warhammer, which had been given the name "Shai'ruguh" for the fear it instilled in its foes at the battle of ... some place that was illegible. It had been passed down from father to son for generations.   Progressing, the will took on a paranoid tone. It seemed the author believed one of his Kynekin slaves was plotting against him (for slavery was commonplace under the empire – during the time of Yahri's grandparents). Having neither family nor children of his own, the author offered these two possessions to anyone who could prove which of his servants ultimately brought about his untimely demise. In closing, the document was stamped with a crest of red and white, an anvil on one side, and a folded banner on the other.   It's too bad most of the Imperial records here were destroyed in the war, Yahri mourned. We'll likely never know who your family was.   An uneasy feeling slowly descended over Vath'azen's Chief Arbiter, sending a shiver down his raven-spine. He scanned the room nervously, but saw nothing amiss. A slight movement at the edge of his vision drew his attention to the balcony on the second floor. Yahri jerked with a start when his eyes met the yellow reptilian gaze of a mahnkii male, watching him silently with a predatory smile.   Clearly relishing Yahri's reaction, the impeccably-dressed deep bluish-green and tan-scaled servant nodded his head respectfully. He wore a high-collared teal tunic trimmed with thick bark-colored bands overlaid with serpentine gold designs. A hood of scales stretched back from his brow, transitioning from blue-green to an almost peach color.  
    Gaspar by dream by WOMBO
    "Welcome, Lord Councilor," he began with a slow air of formality. "My Lord should return shortly. In the meantime, I shall attend you. I am Gaspar, Steward of Kirmani Keep. Have you any needs while we wait?"   The muscles at the base of Yahri's beak curled up in a practiced smile. "I'm fine. Thank you... Gaspar, was it?"   "It is indeed, Lord Councilor."   The two stood in awkward silence, Yahri looking around and tapping his fingers impatiently on crossed arms.   Gaspar cleared his throat. "Lord Negdahe, might I be so bold as to ask a question, more as a citizen of Vath'azen, vice a steward here in the Keep?"   "Of course! Please do!" Yahri was relieved for the distraction, followed immediately by thoughts of... What's that look in his eyes?   "Thank you, Lord," Gaspar nodded. "It has to do with that mahnkii boy that was murdered over in the Spice Docks a few days hence..."   Yahri's shoulders sagged immediately, a knot forming in his gut.   "...and his mother - attacked by the King's Guard in your own throne room for asserting the Grand Marshall be held accountable..."   Yahri threw out his hands, shaking his head in disbelief, his voice pitching up a level. "...Wha...What?! That's not at all what happened! Who's saying such things?!"   Gaspar studied the Chief Arbiter warily. "Well... Everyone? My Lord. At least, that is what's being said outside noble circles, it would seem."   Yahri pinched the bridge of his curved, raven's beak, closed his eyes, and forced himself to breath. "Please know that's not an accurate account of what happened." He shook his head in frustration. "I'll have to address that later. You had a question?"   Gaspar bowed. "Yes. Thank you, Lord Councilor. My question, and the question of many of my kin centers around whether the Grand Marshall will actually be held accountable for his actions. Or will the Ruling Council declare him above such charges simply because of his position and title?"   The weight of the Steward's question fell upon Yahri's soul like hammer on anvil. The issue was so much bigger than he'd wanted to admit.   I am the Chief Arbiter of the new Ruling Council, he contemplated. How I handle this boy's death stands to define a cornerstone of how our fledgling government is perceived. My actions will send a far reaching message, no matter my decision.   Yahri nodded. "I understand and acknowledge your concern, Steward Gaspar. The situation is... complicated, to be sure. But please relay to those with whom you interact that Lord Pa'lakh has not been 'given a pass' as it were, to wantonly murder at a whim. That he killed the Lordling is not under dispute, but that same Lordling was part of a mob burning down the homes of other citizens."   "Myndikin citizens," Gaspar interjected with a hint of disdain.   "Yes, Myndikin citizens. But where do our rights as Kynekin begin and their rights as Myndikin end? Should they not feel safe to make their home in this kingdom that was founded upon the ideals of freedom from tyrannical enslavement?"   Yahri's voice swelled with confidence, his certainty growing as he truly talked through the problem for the first time. "Further, the mob attacked ME, beating and kicking me on the ground. Had Lord Pa'lakh not come to my aid exactly at that time I very well could have died. What do you suppose the price would have been for assaulting our late King Ga'jam? Hmm? I'll tell you. Death. Swift and uncompromising. Without question or trial. The fact the Grand Marshall bothered to give young Lord Enebish along with all the others a warning to disperse immediately instead of just acting should be celebrated. For it demonstrates a restraint that runs counter to his instincts and would not have been shown under either our monarch, or the Imperial rule of generations past. No, the Lordling chose to disobey an order by the Grand Marshall, now a member of this fledgling Ruling Council, and he suffered the consequences of that choice."   "But he was a child!"   "He was..." Yahri dialed back the intensity of his responses, meeting Gaspar's gaze with deep and heartfelt sadness. "Yes, he was. And it is a travesty his life was cut short. I mourn for his loss, and the loss of every young citizen of Vath'azen whether Kynekin or Myndikin, nobility or not. I wish this had never happened... But it did, and all of us must learn from it, and grow together..."   Gaspar considered Chief Arbiter's words carefully, his golden eyes flicking side to side. "You have given me much to think upon, Lord Councilor." He bowed deeply. "I thank you for your willingness to entertain my question." Rising, his tongue flicked quickly into the air. "I believe Lord Kirmani has returned. Please, come with me."
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  • Disputatious
  • Freewheeling
  • Tone: Challenge
  • YN: Face Danger (+heart)
  • Diplomat +1
  • 6/2/6-W-1Sp
  • YN: Endure Stress
  • 9/2/9-W-press on
  • YN: Reach a milestone
  • Protect the Vision of Vath'azen
  • Progress: 4/10

  • Battlements, Kirmani Keep

    The Steward of Kirmani Keep pushed open the heavy outer door at the top of old winding stone stairwell. Cool winds rushed downward through the opening, assaulting the pair with a misting rain mixed with the scent of the sea. Yahri flinched in surprise, which Gaspar, stepping aside, noted with a smirk.   Moving past the Steward and onto the battlements, the raven-feathered noble spied the hulking silhouette of a six-foot tall, bear-like man standing over the parapet, hands clasped silently behind his back, staring out over the harbor. Soggy, short, earth-toned fur covered his wide, flat head and rounded ears. He was dressed in layers of fine-quality clothing the deep blue color of the sea at night, trimmed with subtle lines and clasps of gold. Behind him, Gaspar pulled the door shut, leaving the two alone.  
    Andro Kirmani by dream by WOMBO
    "Lord Councilor Negdahe." The bear-man began soberly without turning. The deep bass in his voice, a stark contrast to Yahri's own high-pitched tone, added weight and authority to the slow-spoken words. "You must forgive me. The notice of your impending visit seems to have been misplaced. I do hope Gaspar wasn't too indelicate."   Yahri struggled to discern whether he was being serious or sarcastic, but forced a genial diplomat's smile and stepped up to the half-wall. "He was... forward... for certain."   "Can you blame him?" Questioned the bear-Lord, cutting Yahri off and taking a more accusatory tone. "You lot have certainly wasted no time making a mess of things." Yahri felt the feathers on his neck flex and ruffle.   "I beg your pardon?"   "Come now," Lord Kirmani chastised, turning his head to meet the Chief Diplomat's gaze. A smoldering fury lurked just beneath the surface. They were of a similar age, by Yahri's estimation. "Surely you can't be pleased with how rapidly things have decayed in the city since the King's passing? Young nobles rioting. Houses and shops burning. Your Grand Marshall murdering one of our own..." Yahri noted the 'us and them' mentality so prevalent in those still trapped in the past, drawing lines of division between the animal-like Kynekin and the smooth-skinned Myndikin.   Kirmani continued his litany of complaints. "...The lack of accountability for his actions. A traitorous member of the Royal Guard. And half of this ridiculous 'Ruling Council' run off on some adventure; Nowhere to be found."   The sickening pit returned in Yahri's stomach, Kirmani's unexpected verbal assault sending ice through his veins. He swallowed hard, pushing down his desire to respond defensively and taking a measured tone in his response. “You are not alone in your disapproval of King Ga’jam’s decision. And yet, it was his decision. If your family considers itself monarchists sworn to the crown of Vath’azen you are also beholden to this decision, regardless of your opinion; a decision, I might add, naming me a Ruling member of this Kingdom - one presently overlooking a great deal of disrespect in the interest of forging a common path forward. What’s more, your words would carry far more weight had the Kirmani family not sequestered themselves from the Court so many years ago. I imagine it’s much easier to criticize and tear down those attempting to make a difference, than be part of the solution yourself.”   The bear-man scowled, stepping aggressively into Yahri’s personal space. He towered over the the Chief Diplomat, peering down through brown eyes. Droplets of rain dripped from Kirmani’s brow and black-nosed snout. “You have no idea the lengths my family and I have gone and will go to keep this Kingdom safe!”   Yahri seized the opportunity to turn the conversation‘s momentum. “And this secret chamber beneath the Library? Strange runes and secrets of the old Empire? Is this part of your grand plan to protect us all?”   Lord Kirmani hesitated, clearly taken aback. His face and eyes softened, like a fire doused with water. "That... is a nasty bit of business. You would do well to steer clear of it."   "And yet here I am, asking you to tell me what's going on."   "Who's asking? A fellow noble of the city or a member of the Ruling Council?"   "Does it matter?"   Kirmani nodded. "It does. As I said, my family has always been loyal to this Kingdom. If my King were to demand it of me, I would tell him. You and the others of the Ruling Council now stand in his stead."   "Then as your Lord Councilor, I am asking: What is this secret chamber business?"   The bear-man sighed, turning away and clasping his hands behind his back once again. His words came slowly, each word carefully chosen. "There is... a well-known poem from the First Age, written in Imperial script, using deep symbolism to speak to the future of the elves. It's called..."   "...the Kosyda Wordihr Elewer", Yahri interjected, trying to curb his enthusiasm. "I'm familiar. It was part of our regular course of study growing up, and is generally believed to point to a buried knowledge that, if revealed, would bring about an unprecedented age of elven power."   "Yes," Kirmani nodded. "Let us say... someone... has been carefully seeding rumors that secret knowledge is buried in the catacombs beneath Stoverj."   "Which would explain Lord Mirza's interest, for certain," Yahri pondered aloud. "But why the secrecy? Because the rumors are lies? To what end?"   "My Lord Councilor, how long have you served as Vath's Chief Diplomat?"   "Three years."   "And in that time, how would you describe the goals and motivations of the remnants of the empire?"   Yahri contemplated for the briefest of moments. "The elves are... fractured... fragmented... with constant infighting and maneuvering for advantage over one another."   Lord Kirmani shifted silently, watching Yahri's mind at work. "So..." Yahri continued. "By seeding false rumors about buried knowledge, someone, hopes to keep the elves off-balance and stoke their internal squabbles? That seems a dangerous game. If this intrigue were to be discovered, surely the empire - broken as it is - would bring to bear the brunt of its wrath upon Vath'azen."   "And do you honestly believe, my Lord Councilor, the elves are not already planning for such things?"   The elf-Lord Mirza's words echoed in the back of Yahri's mind. Rest assured when that time comes, the Kynekin annihilation will be complete.   "Of course they are," he nodded in agreement. "But if this secret knowledge is simply a distraction, what is in that tunnel?"   Lord Kirmani shrugged. "I have no idea, my Lord. Nor do I particularly care if I'm being honest. I would note though, that dwarven foreman Brumard seems particularly obsessed."   Yahri opened his beak to respond when a thunderous rumble echoed across the waters of the harbor, grabbing both of their attention. The pair turned to find smoke rising in the distance from the aft of the massive dwarven vessel Grewinruul. A single figure dove from a gaping hole into the churning waters.   Yahri sighed audibly. "Thank you for your time, Lord Kirmani."   "Please, call me Andro," he countered.   "Andro, then. It appears I have other matters requiring my attention."   "Indeed it does. Farewell then, Lord Negdahe. Know this Kingdom will always have my family's support. Gaspar will see you out."  

    To Be Continued...

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    Andro Kirmani
  • Tone: Attack
  • YN: Compel (+heart)
  • Diplomat +1
  • 6/2/8-W+1M w/counter
  • YN: Know the poem?
  • 60/40 - 51% Yes!
  • YN: Uncover the secret of the tunnel
  • Progress: 6/10
  • YN: Fulfill your vow
  • 6/8/10 - Miss
  • Recommit -8
  • Progress: 0/10
  • Rank: Formidable
  • YN: Make a connection
  • 7/1/2-S
  • Lord Andro Kirmani
  • Imperial Instigator
  • Dangerous
  • Progress: 2/10

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