The party gathered in their magically private camp to discuss and plan the assassination of Kalaz’Ikar Az’Guzuur. Despite the plan having been discussed repeatedly, both Thala and Pony seemed mildly surprised when they learned of it. Both questioned, but neither resisted hard enough to alter the party’s possibly questionable trajectory. The wellbeing of the Pale Quarter and it’s downtrodden denizens were, argued White Kaijo, best served by murdering Kalaz’Ikar. And, in the scheme of things, what was one less spoiled tiefling compared to the hundreds who faced death, disease, and starvation if the Blood King took M’ziir by force?
So they pooled their knowledge, and Ink asked the spirits of the city, and they developed a plan.
Kalaz’Ikar was known as a lover rather than a fighter. He loved music, and carousing, and was known as a bit of a playboy. Indeed, it was his inability (or unwillingness?) to keep his dalliances with gentlemen of interest private that seemed to have created the exploitable rift between he and An’Ikar in the first place.
It was decided that the party would leave M’ziir under the pretense of investigating and patrolling the hills north of the City for goblinoid raiders. Once they got within patrol distance of Bokor Keep (House Ikar’s estate outside the City), they would use the rags and scraps gathered by Pony, and darken Kaijo with soot and mud, in the hopes that, at a distance, they might be mistaken for goblinoids themselves. They would approach the Keep, and the village of Bokor, and see what they could glean at a distance.
The journey north went surprisingly smoothly. Pony scouted ahead, and Sardis guided them. Between the two rangers, the party was able to avoid both goblinoids and the Bokoran patrols on the nearby road. Pony’s scouting, combined with the information the party already had lead to the following conclusions:
— Two factions of goblinoids had, until last night, been warring with each other in the hills around Bokor. Hostilities seemed to have ended somewhat abruptly right about the same time as the known change in the behavior of the Astrologers. The faction that had retreated from the area seemed to be the same as that which had attacked the Dead Falcon Mine a few days earlier
— A giant (likely a troll) and it’s dire wolf pets seem to have been driven out of their known lair in the quarry near Bokor within the last day or two.
— Kalaz Ikar and his party-cronies were probably in the quarry…for funsies?
— The goblinoids in the hills may well have seen the party, but probably hadn’t gotten a good enough look to identify them, and clearly weren’t interested in having a fight about it.
The party decided, based on these guesses, to skip Bokor entirely, and to approach the quarry directly.
As they approached, they heard a distant flute playing a melancholy tune in the late afternoon heat. Wanting to know the lay of the land, they sent Sardis and Pony ahead to scout while the lest lay in wait a distance off.
The bottom of the modest quarry was filled with a small lake. Around a bend in the quarry walls, the rangers could just make out a small camp; perhaps a dozen people drowsing away their hangovers through the afternoon heat. At the nearer, less precipitous end of the quarry stood two teiflings, one clearly a warrior, the other clearly an arcanist of some sort. Bizil’El and Menez’Anir, Kalaz’Ikar’s closest friends from childhood, they guessed. The two were standing on the shore of the lake, at the bottom of the gentle slope that lead down to the lake form this side. They seemed to be fishing.
Atop a small bluff thrust out towards the middle of the cliff, playing his flute, apparently calling up fish from the lake for his friends, sat Kalaz’Ikar Az’Guzuur, Lord of Bokor and husband to An’Ikar, the lady who would be queen. The rangers could not see him clearly, but he seemed peaceful, perhaps a bit sad. Maybe that was just the flute.
As they turned to leave, Pony stumbled on a rock, and was definitely, obviously, noticed by the two fishers. Sardis cursed quietly, but remained hidden. Bizil’El and Menez’Anir called Pony to come closer as they reached for their weapons and laced up bits of loose clothing and armor. They did not seem aggressive, but definitely on-guard.
To her immense credit, Pony played it off perfectly. She cast aside her gobliny rags and approached the tieflings as…well…her freewheelig, drug-dealing, charming self.
Somewhat surprisingly, the tieflings bought it. They called back to Kalaz’ikar, who laughed and suggested she be made welcome. As such, Pony stood with Kalaz’Ikar’s friends and bodyguards, entertaining them, sharing samples of her wares, and thoroughly distracting them while, many yards above and behind them, Kalaz’Ikar looked on in amusement.
Sardis had time to return to the rest of the party and tell them what was going on. The party edged closer, and it was decided that Sardis would attempt to sneak up and all the way around, to where Kalaz’Ikar sat, and murder him as silently as possible. When the inevitable alarm was raised, the rest of the group would rush in and murder the lords friends, and plant the incriminating bracers.
But everything went much more smoothly than expected.
Sardis ghosted up to the bluff without anyone noticing at all. In fact, he got right up behind his target without anyone but Pony seeing him.
When he drove his two warpicks silently through Kalaz’Ikar’s spine, through his neck, and silently drew the dead man’s body down and away into the brush, only Pony saw it. She managed to school her features as she wrapped up her negotiations with the nobles, and turned to depart, leaving them, for a few moments, none the wiser.
Once out of sight, she broke into a run. As she and Sardis reached the rest of the party, urgently whispering that the deed was done and that they needed to go, the shouts of alarm broke out behind them. Kaijo quietly called out for Page who, thankfully, was nearby. He gave the pseudodragon Thuz’Imil’s bracers and urged her to sneak them up to the murder site and leave them there.
Then the party fled southeast, back towards M’ziir.
They went as quickly as they could while still avoiding the goblins of the hills. They were, Pony was quite sure, spotted, perhaps enough to be generally identified, but there wasn’t much for it. None of the group wanted to be caught by Kalaz’Ikar’s friends, or the other Ikar hunters once word reached Bokor.
They made it back to the Pale Quarter without incident. Pony arrived, purposefully, a little after, and from a different direction than the rest of them. She, at least, was definitely going to be associated with Kalaz’Ikar’s death, and they wanted no more sense of connection between her and the rest of the party than was already the case.
As they caught their breath and prepared to meet Bangizi at the “Poop Tubes,” Pony quietly told them that she was going to leave M’ziir for a while. Ostensibly it was because she wanted to create space to help prevent the group from being associated with the assassination. They could all tell, however, that the elf was troubled by Kalaz’Ikar’s death. Still, Pony had never been a member of the Shade, and nobody had expected her to stay involved even as long as she had. With minimal fanfare, the wandering peddler departed, leaving Thala as the lonely voice of discomfort with the goings on.
About and hour after nightfall, the party met Bangizi at the sewer outlet at the northern edge of The Muck. The explorationer was disguised as a halfling beggar, and had brought sufficient Palace Guard tabbards to disguise all of the party. He seemed happy to see them, but got down to business quickly.
As they entered the sewers, the cautioned them to step where he told them, to be quiet, and to follow his instructions without question. They agreed.
The trip through the sewers was predictably unpleasant. The wizards cleaned everyone up early and often, but the stench and the filth was oppressive nonetheless. Several times they had to squeeze and crawl through unmentionably gross spaces (through which Bangizi merely crouched), and at one point, they all hid, somewhat horrified, as some large, slimy, tentacled worm-beast squelched it’s way down a nearby tunnel.
Eventually, sections of sewer started appearing as hewn or natural caves, and the light levels increased to the teltale ubiquitous twilight of the Feywild. As the shift happened, gradually, they found themselves more and more in large, dry passages, sometimes with strange, twisted-yet-beautiful architecture that Ink identified as fomorian. Soon enough, Bangizi lead them to a surprisingly broad spiral stair that lead up to a large, well-lit, subterranean plaza.
The plaza itself was multi-tiered, seemingly several levels broken up by random-seeming gaps and haphazard pillars and stairs between levels, all built within what must have once been a much larger chamber. Each level was only about 8 feet high, and the barely-contained chaos spoke clearly of gnomish construction. Throughout the plaza(s) bustled all manner of gnome-friendly denizens of the feywild, many seemingly engaged in trade at shops or stalls, with eladrin conspicuously absent.
The party stopped and tried not to stare. Bangizi grinned, sketched a bow, and welcomed the party to the Great Square of Ganitipantuperan!
- Quarters/Rooms/Suites for all significant residents and guests
- General guard deployment
- General guard patrol timing and info
- Notes that the Palace Guard has recently been doubled in size, with a lot of new faces and new races. This is why you guys might be able to get away with acting like guards just by wearing tabards. Though, you will still need to put Kaijo in black face (or similar).
- Notes that King Thuz’Imil has been at odds with Martesse, his astrologer, for at least a few days.
- Notes that King Thuz’Imil has been consulting a lot with members of the Beziin Az’Neph, or Keepers of the Blood, which is basically an order of mystic genealogists…
- Notes that Mazzegur (Lady Sheraz’Aal’s astrologer) is living near the Lady’s “guest” suite, but that Mazzegur goes, every night around midnight, to spend several hours in the Astrologer’s Tower with Martesse.
- Martesse lives somewhere in the Astrologer’s Tower.
- The Explorationers have never made it very far inside the Astrologer’s Tower. The entry to the Tower is magically locked (Arcane Lock ritual), and there are no guards posed outside. The Explorationers have peeked and noted enough to be certain that the tower has three levels. The lowest is a receiving and meeting area, the middle seems to be Martesse’s quarters, and the top is the astrolger’s Laboratory. The Laboratory has rooftop access. On the roof, and in the workshop, there are Starglasses (read: telescopes).
- The King’s residence is under constant, heavy guard and on serious lockdown both magically and mechanically.
- The portal through which you guys will enter the Palace is in a ceiling of a “Fightdance Room,” which seems like some sort of training/practice room. It’s about a 20 foot drop to the floor of the room. No ladders or ropes are recommended, but Bangizi understands that you guys probably can’t make the fall. He’s offered to bring one of his Explorationer Apprentices along to lower and then retract a rope, if that will be helpful.
- The portal through which you guys will probably have to leave the Palace is through a latrine, which will be a tight fit for the dragonborn and Sardis.