Best Laid Schemes

For All Your Trouble

Finding Friends, Old and New

Having departed from the palace, we made our way out into the city, discussing all the developments that our visit with the Queen had brought. Nikolai, Daniria, and I decided to hit the books and set our course for the library in hopes of finding any useful information on the Shardmind, the Living Gate, Demogorgon, the Court of Spring, and the Prince of Hearts. Regarding the Shardmind and the Living Gate, there was little information available that was both relevant and new to us. There was a plethora of books on the topic of the Spring Fey and the Prince of Hearts, a subject which I treated like my brief studies before meeting Queen Tiandra – I tried to focus on current events, personal history, and any information that could be used either against the Prince or to sway his opinion toward us. There were tons of stories that, if used against most people, could be perfect blackmail fodder. But this was a self-acknowledged trickster with a long history of playing different fey factions against one another or in such a way as it benefits him, such that I deemed this an unfruitful line of study and quickly moved on to other things. As it pertains to Demogorgon, there was also a very sizable amount of information, some of which was new and some of which was not, but even the most relevant information (discovering the types of beings working for him and some theories/legends about him) seemed to come up just short of offering truly helpful information in actually fighting him.

We asked some of the elder librarians for information on these subjects as well, but didn’t appear to get much further and so we left and discussed our findings by the fountain outside. It was at that point that we all noticed a commotion a few blocks down the street, but couldn’t make out much in the way of details. Just then, Heath came along and made note of the crowd, saying he figured it meant that Xandril was in some sort of trouble. We soon discovered, however, that it was not our sly rogue being harassed or arrested, but Balasar! We had left him behind at Badgermole to recover from the poisoning he had suffered, but apparently he was well enough to try to join us, just not well enough (or not prepared enough) to peacefully enter the city. We were all a bit shocked by this development, and immediately began trying to draw up schemes to get Balasar out of whatever trouble he’d gotten himself into. We figured my recent Knighthood and subsequent rise in stature within the city might be of use, but only once he had been processed at the prison, and perhaps not until the Queen held court again. That being the case, the only thing for us to do was to continue with our plans for the evening and hope that some brilliant idea might arise.

We all went our separate ways then. Nikolai went off to the temple of the Raven Queen, I attended to some shopping and selling of items, and Daniria and her new, brawny but funny Paladin friend Ariadne, agreed to meet me at the Rabid Badger tavern at dusk. I managed to sell both the ruby and golden cup I had acquired in New Beginnings for reasonable prices, and found Heath the bedroll I had promised to find him way back in Renwood. He, too, met us at the Rabid Badger, and we drank the finest mead and wine we could purchase. I may have had a couple too many pints of the mead, however, and ended up (at the psychic urging of my new mane of hair) singing a drunken song about Tiandra’s lovely eyes. The song somehow must have been good, as the next thing I knew, I was leading a procession of pixies through the streets of the city, all singing together and generally being merry. They soon saw that I was headed in the general direction of the prison, and after all the talk of a Dragonborn spy being held captive in the jail, the crowd shifted from drunkenly happy to thirsting for the traitor’s blood. I had hoped to arrive at the steps of the prison and use my position, as both a Knight and as the leader of this drunken parade, to tell the story of Balasar, of all his good deeds, of his pure heart, of his steadfast loyalty, and his love of the Summer Fey (the last part probably being a bit of a stretch). But that never happened.

Instead, the mob that had its mind set on lynching the Dragonborn began to draw everybody’s attention. Daniria and Ariadne both tried to (and succeeded at) distracting the crowd with bluffs about trouble at the city walls and intimidation, weakening the group from 20 or so pixies to only 4. I continued on, however, in hopes that my plan might still work. When I arrived, I found Nikolai arguing with the prison guards but getting nowhere. The tension of the situation and the stress of trying to clear Balasar’s name and free him took over my mind, and my hair (on subconscious cues, I assume) lashed out at the guards and knocked them all unconscious. It continued wildly whipping around in all directions as Nikolai stripped the head guard of his keys and made to free Balasar. It was still lashing around when they returned and even hit the two of them, but not nearly as forcefully as it had the guards. The three of us stepped back outside, where there was mass confusion and anger taking over the scene, and Nikolai told me to get Balasar out of there. My hair wrapped around Balasar’s neck, and did the same to Heath on my other side, and I began marching them away (trying to avoid the assembled crowds at all times).

Behind us, I heard the pixies that had been duped by Daniria and Ariadne returning, shouting and calling for the Dragonborn’s head, and I heard them clash with Ariadne, but could not make much more out of that as my focus was directly forward and not being caught. I later learned that not only did Ariadne hold her own in the brief fight, but Nikolai ended up dispersing both the mob and the guards that were waking with a clever illusion of a Chain Demon that sent them all off terrified. It was risky, but it proved to be a brilliant distraction, and exactly what was needed. I eventually found out by way of Nikolai’s new telepath abilities where I could find Daniria and Ariadne (the inn where they were set to meet), and made my way there quickly and quietly with Balasar and Heath still bound by my new unnaturally strong hair. As we got further away from the rabble, my grip on them relaxed. I received yet another psychic message from my hair, saying essentially not to worry, that it had been watching and it wouldn’t let me come to harm. It referring to itself with some sort of conscience made me think, and I addressed it back by asking who I was communicating with, only to find out it was the Queen herself. I took a few moments to ponder this, and to compose myself, then returned to my companions and before long, we were at the inn. I went into the inn first, paid for a (rather expensive) room, and quickly found my way upstairs to it. The two of them followed and rented their own room, and I left Balasar in the watch of Heath and with a warning not to stray far. I retired to my room, and spent the next several hours sitting at the window, contemplating all that had happened and waiting to see if I could catch a glimpse of any of our party members coming or going, or any trouble still remaining in the streets. I saw nothing of note by the time a few hours had passed, and went to sleep.

That night, I had terrible dreams or, more accurately, visions. I saw the Winter Fey winning and eventually victorious, saw all the terror they brought, saw the destruction of the Summer Court. It was a fitful sleep, even if it was a full night’s worth, and I awoke the next morning to find my room trashed – presumably by my hair acting out the sights of my subconscious. I made my way, later than usual, down into the common room where I found Daniria and Ariadne discussing things. They said they agreed to meet Nikolai at the library at noon, and that Balasar and Heath were staying cooped up in their room until we could determine the best course of action. We all met outside the library, and (given the delicate nature of the situation) decided we needed to find somewhere more private to converse. We inquired about and were shown to a private room near the back of the library, and we made our plans. I explained that we were clear in the eyes of the Queen, and we weighed all the options available, eventually settling on trying to leave the city through the front gates. Our first guise would be, well, the truth – that we were exiting on Queen’s business and off to deliver a message to the Court of Spring. In case Balasar’s presence among us was questioned, and nonchalance failed us, we bound his hands ahead of time so that we could portray him as our prisoner if needed.

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