-Termina advised everyone to go back to their business, and told Ollin that killing guards, even Greenfeet, wasn’t cool, so they needed to get out of sight. She lead them to the Gray Gavel.
-While they waited, Ironbeard showed off his trade agreement with Mr. Deepsilver, which he explained had been the reason for the guards showing up and harassing him. They enjoyed some drinks and got comfortable at the bar, but in a half an hour, a silent sister came in and told Termina and the quartet to go to the director’s palace immediately.
Back at the Director’s palace:
-The Director sat in her office with Cassandra, the leader of the silent sisters when they five of them walked in. Neither of them looked particularly happy. The director called out Termina and Ollin for being involved in the death of two guards, and told them that there would be hell to pay. Ironbeard chimed in and said that the guards tried to extort him after completing a legitimate business deal, but the director was unsatisfied. Ollin apologized deeply, and the director told him that he wasn’t going to prison, but that he was under house arrest (in the palace) for the protection of his people’s diplomat. As for Termina, she said that incidents between the guards were not to be tolerated, and that if it happens one more time, there would be hell to pay. They were dismissed.
-Ethricil was outside, and he was worried, but glad that nothing really terrible happened. He told them that the other diplomats were expected to arrive tomorrow, and that Cassandra would be in charge of security in the palace for the meeting, so they would get assignments from her when the time came. He advised them to hang around the palace in the meantime so they could stay out of trouble.
-Everyone wandered around the palace, taking in the unexpected elegance of Occupation era architecture. While roaming, the director found Arcturus, and gave him a bow of hers. She wasn’t an archer, but a director happens upon all sorts of well-crafted things, which are too many to all be used. She made a comment about how Arcturus’ rugged handsomeness gave him away as the ranger type, and that a real man needed a real weapon, so yeah… The rest of the day passed without event.
-The next day before noon, the other diplomats arrived, and they were introduced to Ethricil. Soon after, Cassandra gathered up all of her guards, the quintet, and the bodyguards from the diplomats. Ollin, a few silent sisters, and all of the bodyguards were to be in the meeting room. Arcturus, [:alphonse | Alphonse]], and some silent sisters were to man the walls. Ironbeard and the rest of the silent sisters were to patrol the hallways.
-In an hour, the meeting was underway. Ollin got the privilege of hearing the statements delivered by all of the negotiators, and in the meantime he took a good look at everyone in the room looking for threats. The people looked okay, but there was a section of the roof that didn’t look quite right…
-Out on the wall, Arcturus and Alphonse were being vigilant. There was a tall mansion almost right across from Arcturus, and he noticed that the curtains in front of the large top-story window opened, and he could see a large rectangular object and a short man in the room. The man disappeared behind the object, then bolted away a few seconds later. This was suspicious, so Arcturus asked one of the guards who’s mansion it was, and she informed him it was Lady Tavion, an old woman who owned several olive orchards outside of the city.
-Back inside, Ollin tried to discreetly warn Ethricil of the oddity he noticed, but others quickly noticed it as well. They stopped and stared.
-Outside, the window of the mansion blew out, and a cannon ball came flying towards the palace. Alphonse tried to deflect it away, but was unable to alter it’s path enough to make it miss entirely. Instead…
-Inside, the side wall of the meeting room blew open, and Ollin was knocked off of his feet. A second or two later, he heard the sound of cracking wood, and then a large thud. Once the dust had cleared enough in the room, he could see a metal sphere about two feet in diameter sitting directly below the weird spot in the ceiling, which had given out from the explosion. Gas started leaking out of it. Ollin and everyone who was conscious and aware tried to pull people out. When Ollin got his first person out, the orc representative’s bodyguard stopped him from going back in, since the gas was highly toxic. They did their best to seal the door for the moment to prevent the gas from spreading. Ironbeard and some of the interior guards showed up and got up to speed. On Ironbeard’s orders, they unsealed the door, and he used weather magic to pick up the wind outside and draw the gas out through the gaping hole in the wall. The kalashek representative had managed to keep some of the others alive by using a warding amulet she had to keep the gas at bay.
-They tended to the wounded and re-secured the perimeter.
-Outside, Arcturus looked around to see if he could get any more details on what was going on near the mansion, and Alphonse used divination magic to observe the same area. Alphonse detected a few people running and informed Arcturus, who used creature magic to call to a seagull and have it follow the people. Then they, along with three silent sisters from who were on the wall, ran down to Lady Tavion’s place to investigate.
-They found a lot of dead bodies, many killed by lacerations, and some killed by blunt force. One servant was still alive, but was in too much shock to answer questions. One of the silent sisters found Lady Tavion bleeding out, with a bruise on the side of her head. Arcturus whipped out the healing potions that the quartet had acquired from Ikta, and administered them. She opened her eyes, and answered all of their questions to the best of her ability. She heard a scream, turned to see a dwarf strike her, then heard something about the docks before passing out. Arcturus mentioned the top story and the cannon, and she said she hadn’t been in there in a long time, but that it was used for storing her art collection. They went to investigate, and found shards of wood and metal. Alphonse put the pieces together in his head and could tell that it was a makeshift single-use cannon that was a poor copy of the Kalashek design. Arcturus and Alphonse left to go check out the docks.
-When they arrived, Arcturus asked the nearest Silent Sister he saw about shady people at the docks. She responded sarcastically, and said that the real lowlifes don’t talk to guards, so he had to mingle to find what he was looking for.
-Instead, Arcturus used creatures magic again to call ship cats to him to ask them to search their ships for anyone who was trying to get out of the city. While he was waiting for them, some thugs walked by talking about this guy called Mirus, and how he was a crazy SOB. Arcturus thought this sounded like the right guy, so he zoned in his hearing and picked up on the rest of their conversation. Apparently Mirus had been involved with getting some Combine agents into The Free Cities a while back, which really got Arcturus’ attention. He filled Alphonse in, and the master illusionist did his thing.
-Alphonse bumped into the two thugs, who quickly grabbed him and asked him what the hurry was. He informed them that he needed to see his friend Mirus and that if they helped, he would pay them. He showed them a bag with a non-trivial amount of gold coins as incentive. They told him to follow. Arcturus maintained a discrete distance from them as he followed. After a few minutes of walking, they arrived at The Lush Lobster, which was a warehouse that had been converted into a bar. An obnoxiously loud man was at the bar proper with a whore on one arm and a bottle in the other, talking to some fellow scumbags. The thugs passed Alphonse off to Mirus.
-Conjuring up a supremely ridiculous bag of treasure, Alphonse set out to bribe Mirus to tell him who he had done the brawl job for. Mirus tried to make Alphonse sweat, but the mage had none of it. He made it out like he was on Mirus’ side, and that they would both benefit from this deal if he played nice. Mirus gave in, and said that the job was pitched to him by a dwarf claiming to be from the Shield Bearers, who wanted him to make a distraction while they moved a large package (which wasn’t originally mentioned to Mirus, but he saw it while the distraction was going on). Alphonse thanked him and left, leaving the incredible bag of fake treasure in Mirus’ hands.
-Arcturus’ cats didn’t have any news for him, so he and Alphonse left to go find Ollin and Ironbeard and have a chat with the Shield Bearers.
-After the wounded were tended to and things had settled down, Ollin went over to the gas bomb to have a look at it. He could tell it was of Combine make by personal experience, and he shared this information with the director. She was alarmed (of the Combine involvement and of Ollin’s knowledge), but he managed to reassure her that he was an enemy of the Combine through and through, and completely trustworthy. She told him that if the Combine was here, then he was the man to lead the investigation to root them out. She lifted the arrest on him, and told him good luck.
-Outside, Ironbeard and Ollin ran into Alphonse and Arcturus, and they caught each other up on the details, then headed over to the Shield Bearer turf.