CruelSummerLord writes "
Xavener felt like the Overking at that moment, reveling in the power he felt. He thought back to the castle he’d painted those months ago, the castle he saw so often in his dreams. The Iron League’s remaining intact allowed that dream to continue, and Xavener knew he was another step closer to making it a reality.
Xavener was all smiles as he considered Weimar and Amyalla
kneeling before him. He was perfectly at ease, sitting on a raised thronelike
chair, surrounded by some of the manor’s most senior guards, the residing priest
of Zilchus and the manor’s castellan. Weimar and Amyalla were helpless and
unarmed, as his guards had confiscated their weapons when they’d turned
themselves in to the guards at the gate of his manor.
Xavener felt like the Overking at that moment, reveling in
the power he felt. He thought back to the castle he’d painted those months ago,
the castle he saw so often in his dreams. The Iron League’s remaining intact
allowed that dream to continue, and Xavener knew he was another step closer to
making it a reality.
“You were both wiser than I’d have given you credit for,”
Xavener said to Weimar and Amyalla. “Turning yourselves in saves me the trouble
of hunting you down.”
“What else could we do?” Amyalla said, a defeated
expression on her face.
“How true,” Xavener said, his smile growing wider.
“Could that lead to some mercy?” Weimar asked, his
expression hopeful. “Maybe a last meal, as reward for saving you the trouble of
having to find us? My magical flagon can serve the finest of drinks at your
bidding, if you like,” Weimar persisted.
Xavener raised an eyebrow, intrigued at how useful such a
treasure could be. He turned to his attending priest.
“Find any lies he speaks,” Xavener instructed the priest,
who cast a spell to do just that.
“I suppose this flagon of yours is poisonous?” Xavener
asked, “able to kill anyone but you who drinks from it?”
“It’s perfectly safe to drink from,” Weimar said, “and the
liquor it produces isn’t poisonous or drugged.”
“Every word the truth,” the priest said to Xavener.
Xavener chuckled to himself, realizing he could afford to
“It won’t be the last meal before your execution,” he said,
“but it will be just as fine.”
The meal Xavener served Weimar, Amyalla and his
highest-ranking minions was fine indeed, and it was only enhanced by Weimar’s
flagon. Weimar started the meal by giving the words of a toast, from which he
poured a generous helping of light, sweet wine to Xavener and the rest of the
dinner party. The wine tasted delicious, and Xavener and his men soon demanded
more. Weimar duly recited another toast, and poured another round of drinks.
Xavener was so pleased with himself that he didn’t notice
how little Weimar or Amyalla were drinking, and neither did his minions. Nor
did Xavener or his minions notice that the next round of drinks was stronger
than the first, or that the third round was even stronger than that. Weimar
continued to toast, and continued to pour, even as the strength of the liquor
increased every time.
One of the magical flagon’s powers was to continually pour
stronger and stronger alcohol.
The other was to keep anyone who drank its alcohol from
noticing how each pour was stronger than the last.
Soon, Xavener and his men saw their vision blurring in
front of them. They were more concerned with remembering the bawdy songs they
were trying to sing than in what Weimar and Amyalla were doing. Dizzy with the
alcohol, Xavener thought nothing of his prisoners. The cabal’s papers and the
Crown of Arumdina were securely locked in a strongbox he kept on a nearby
table, and he’d stored the only key in a secure place before joining his
prisoners for their last meal.
The last thing he saw before falling into a blissful stupor
was Amyalla tipping her hat, decorated with orchids and lilacs, to him.
The guards standing outside the doors to the House Darmen
manor’s feast hall were surprised to see the door open slightly and Xavener
looked out at them. Xavener looked as if he’d been enjoying himself, his
clothes slightly disheveled and the scent of alcohol thick on him, but he bore
the same confident smile he wore when he sat down to dinner.
“I’ve come to an agreement with the prisoners,” Xavener
said, looking from one of the guards to the other. “They’re to work for me in
exchange for their freedom. Go fetch the rest of the prisoners from the dungeon
and return their belongings. They’re to take the estate’s fastest coach for
their departure. Escort the halfling and her human friend to join the rest of
“…My lord?” one of the guards asked in surprise.
“…Must I repeat myself?” Xavener said, his eyes narrowing
“No, my lord!” the guard said as he turned ashen pale.
“Good,” Xavener said, his cheerful mood returning in an
instant. “My men and I are not to be disturbed after that. Is that clear?”
“Of course, my lord,” the other guard said, hastily saluting.
The door closed again, and a few moments passed before
Weimar and Amyalla emerged, again closing the door behind them. The guards at
the doors to the feast hall summoned some of their fellows to carry out what
they thought were Xavener’s orders.
Seline and the rest of the companions felt anger and
despair at being locked in the Darmen manor’s dungeon. Those feelings changed to
confusion when Xavener’s guards released them and returned their belongings.
Their confusion turned to shock when they met up with Weimar and Amyalla in the
manor’s stables as Xavener’s coach was prepared for them. Weimar drove the horses,
while the rest of the companions climbed into the carriage.
Once the coach was some distance from
the manor along the road leading out of Zelradton, the rest of the companions
looked askance at Amyalla in the coach.
“How did you get Xavener to let us go?” Airk asked, his
face lined with worry. “You didn’t bargain the Crown to-“
Amyalla merely tipped her hat in response, and her friends
were startled to see Xavener suddenly sitting in her place. The young nobleman
winked at them before fiddling with a ring on his finger, which caused him to
turn back to Amyalla. Reaching into her pack, she rummaged for a moment until
she found the Crown of Arumdina, which she handed to a grateful Airk. She then
retrieved the letters that Chelor’s cabal needed for their plan, which she
handed to Luna. Luna began reading them intently, casting a spell to give
herself more light as Amyalla spoke.
“I was just lucky Xavener’s on the short side,” Amyalla
said. “My hat can only vary my height so much. It’s a good thing it can vary
clothes, too-I had to add lifts to my boots.”
“So where’s the real Xavener?” Seline said.
“Likely sleeping one off in his dining room,” Weimar said
from the front seat of the coach. The carriage’s front window was left open, and
Weimar was listening to the conversation through it. “I always said my flagon
would come in handy someday!”
“Shouldn’t we have taken some horses instead of a coach?”
“We can carry more supplies this way,” Weimar said from the
front, “and we’ll need less food for only two horses. These ones are stronger
than they look,” he said, gesturing towards the dappled gray horses pulling the
“…You’re right about that,” Revafour said once he’d taken a
good look at them. “They look like they’ve got good reserves of speed, too. But
where are we headed? We’re not going back to Ekehold the way we came, are we?
Xavener and the cabal are both going to be watching it.”
“We were thinking of going straight through the Iron
Hills,” Weimar said. “Remember the maps we bought in Ekehold before we entered
South Province? They showed some roads we could take through the hills to reach
Idee’s northern border fortresses.”
“But what about the conflict we heard about there?” Seline
“If we’re lucky, it might have ended by now,” Weimar said. “Even
if it’s still going on, we might be able to lose any Aerdi pursuers coming
“The cabal’s papers also said Count Fedorik’s doing an
inspection tour of Idee’s hill fortresses right now, too,” Luna said.
How’d they know that? Ma’non’go said, surprised.
“Aerdi spies have been tracking the Count’s movements,”
Luna said, holding up one of the papers she’d been glancing through. “They’ve
mapped out his schedule and when he’s due to be assassinated. The entire plan
is laid out here…”
“Pity we’ll be ruining it,” Revafour said with a smile.
Most of Revafour’s friends returned his smile, but Seline
looked distinctly ill at ease.
“Let me know when the horses need feeding and water,”
Revafour called through the carriage’s window to Weimar. “I can help you, and I
can take over driving if you need a break.”
“Thanks,” Weimar said with a nod.
Revafour turned back to look at the rest of his friends in
the coach. Most of them were discussing how they could watch for pursuers and
what they’d do if the coach was attacked. He realized that he was probably the
only one who noticed how downcast Seline looked.
He knew why she was so distressed, and wasn’t entirely sure
how he should feel about it. "