Tuesday 30 July 2013

FB Thread 22/6/1480+ - Esmerelda post Midsummer Ball


22/6/1480 DR (wee small hours)

22/6/1480 DR – early hours, after Midsummer Ball
Queen Esme sits down at her writing desk at "The Green Tankard". She has already counted out the hundred gold pieces to be given to Marsh after they leave the inn, hopefully it will help keep the rooms to luxury suited for a Queen.
She thinks about the crude, and rude introduction given her at the ball, she lets her face fall for a few seconds, then Galtos enters, she quickly replaces her mask of happiness.
"My dear what a wonderful event, I have never experienced such a grand event, with such gowns, and people." States Galtos.
"Esme, what’s the matter you seem distracted."
"Dunstan, the noble dwarf came and spoke to me in private at one point, I fear a shadow will soon try and fall over our beautiful vale. And I fear I must once more ally myself with a lesser evil, to save the Vale from a greater evil. I only hope my friends see it that way....."
An exhausted Esme, realizes she must do one last hing before she goes to sleep.
"Excuse me, my prince, I think I need to go for a walk in the moonlight before sleep, after tonights excitement, can you keep an eye on things here, I shall walk with a few of the dwarves, and make sure all went well with them"
She knocks on the room the Dwarves are sharing, and asks the Shadow Chain dwarves if they would accompany her on a walk around the town, so she can calm down before sleep.
Esme will engage in small talk, until she believes them to be alone in a quiet area of Loudwater.
"Dunstan has talked to me tonight about the shadovar, and their proposal to you, and your people. He has also told me what he proposed to you would be the best course of action."
She stops and faces them at this, to judge their reactions.
"Although the knight is noble and great in combat, I believe he is wrong in this course I'm afraid. Now I do not know the shadovar that well, nor their religion, only the rumours that reach my queendom. However, I would call on your advice regarding the shadowcults, as the only experts I know of nearby. What is your opinion of Shar and her followers? Forgiving, meglomaniacs?"
" I hear of them as Tyrants" A smile crosses her face, as she remembers herself being called this mere moment ago.
"Rumors of their lack of forgiveness of other religions..."
"How do you feel they will treat you when the banites are gone, you believe they will let you worship your gods, live as you do now?"
Prince Rangrim tugs on his beard, looking puzzled - Esme gets the impression he's not terribly bright. Rangrim: "Serka, you know about religion - what say you?" Serka has had a rather dreamy expression on her face, but sobers up to consider the question.
Serka: "Not forgiving, no. Darkness... Shar is the goddess of the night. Her shadows bind us..." She trails off, and decides to start again. "The Shadovar say they don't want to conquer us; they want an alliance with us, to help rebuild Ammarindar. I don't know a lot about them, but Thane Harvak says they are ruthless and power-hungry, as you say. But their Emissary seemed worried about something - a Great Evil. He seemed to think we could help fight against it. From what I heard tonight, it might be something to do with the Death Cyst of Phaervorul..." Serka launches into her long explanation (same as that given last night) about the Deadhold Cyst and the alliance between the drow of Erylyndyn and the dwarves of Ammarindar that drove back the undead hordes of the Rotted Throne, fifteen centuries ago. The drow built their fortress-enclave Phaervorul on the cyst to watch it and keep it sealed, but dwarven prophecy says that one day it will Breach, and then the two kingdoms must stand together again, or all will perish. If the priest Fr Clintus is right about the red comet, that's a possible sign that the prophecy may be coming true.
Serka: "Emissary Gerin seemed worried about someone called Szass Tam of Thay. He mentioned that name several times while he was with us. A powerful Lich, I think." Rangrim: "Oh, he was just talking about how easy Liches are to kill! Whack 'em upside the head and break their Phylactery, easy-peasy!"
GM: Two of the male Shadowed Chain dwarves are looking at Esme and whispering together (a) do you speak Dwarven and (b) if so what is your Perception bonus at level 12?
I do not speak dwarven.
But I will mention about the batrayal of Thay, and them allying with Orcus.
"Thay has betrayed Bane, to join with Orcus, this must be what the prophecy is about, even my assumptions were wrong. If Shadovar fights against the Vale, we will surely all eb lost, we must convince them that their best hope, is to stand with the banites, against this new threat!"
Esme: ""With Thay moving to Orcus, the god of the underworld. He could be planning to breach the drow fortress, they should go home as soon as possible and pass this information onto the Shadovar. Hopefully this will stop them from wanting to destroy the banites first." Rangrim: "Hmm, er, so... I'll tell the Thane that Orcus threatens the Gray Vale? And you want us to tell the Shadovar too? What do you think they'll do about it? They're on their way to help us clear out the Orcs right now, last I heard!"
"You must tell them, that Thay has made great enemies in the Banites, and that Queen Esme and her people are consumed with a hatred for the Liche, and then follow it with the prophecy about the undead about to breach forward, and then we hope they come to the same conclusion we did, that attacking the banites force, would be a sure way to weaken all the people who should be standing together."
Rangrim scratches his head. "Um... yes..." Serka seems to be summoning up the courage to say something. She pauses, then: "My Queen - we need to know. How strong is your devotion to Bane?"
Esme pauses for a while, she thinks about lying, then she thinks about the importance held in the hands of these few dwarves.
Her face relaxes from the constant facade of happiness and glee it usually has, and turns to one of worry.
"If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said none, and that Illmater was my one true god...however, when I look at how little I have gained from following Illmater in the past year. The lack of hope presented by him, and then I examine the good I have been able to accomplish with the followers of Bane...it worries me, that I no longer feel disgust at the idea of Bane. I fear what I am becoming...I can only hope that I fall in battle before I become the kind of monster I used to hate. Maybe I will need Lirael to do me a kindness..."
The dwarves look to each other, shifting uncomfortably, as Esme finishes. Rangrim has his perpetually puzzled air.
Serka pauses, then says "Th-there is a darkness in all of us. And darkness is a natural part of the world. Even what Bane represents, has its place. But... This is not so important. What matters is that the Shadovar hate Bane. We will tell Thane Harvak what you said. He will decide what to tell the Shadovar, about the danger, but..." She shrugs "...I do not know if they will listen."
Rangrim scratches his nose distractedly. "Oh, Serka, you know it will take months for the Shadovar to finish off the orcs! The Thane said we'd take our time showing the Shadovar where the orc-warrens are. By the time they're done it'll be winter, I expect all this will have blown over. Plenty of time to decide what to tell them, then."
"I will do whatever it takes to protect the vale, so that my child can grow up in an uncorrupted society of freedom..."
A great ruckus is raised near the gates as knowledge of the tigerclaws filters into town.
Rangrim: "Wonder what that is?"
Serka glances towards the docks.
"We better get you back to the Inn, your highnesses."
The Shadowed Chain will escort Esme & Rangrim back to the Green Tankard.
  24 July at 15:29
Dawn next day (22/6/1480) Esme, Galtos and Rangrim are swiftly escorted back to Llorkh to avoid any Tigerclaw entanglements, where Rangrim and co bid farewell; the dwarves will be back in a week for Shieldmeet.
22/6/1480 - evening
Kimberly Pauley:  Jonas Sylverman, 27, Human Wizard has been studying in Waterdeep and traveling the Sword Coast for the last 10 years. He is a cousin of Lirael's. He arrives in Loudwater after hearing rumors of crazy goings-on (and because he has completed his most recent studies) around the time of the ball. He speaks with Lirael, who mentions Esme's James Andrew Joyce) desire to hire a resident wizard for Llorkh and follows behind Esme's return party to arrive the next day in Llorkh. He brings with him a letter of introduction from Lirael and a bottle of Marsh's best from the Green Tankard.
 Jonas: "Queen Esmerelda, you glow even more than my cousin told me. Pregnancy suits you well. I hope that you will find my application suitable. After the intrigues of Waterdeep, I am ready to be of service to an able ruler."
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        Kimberly Pauley Jonas notices that Esme seems reluctant. He hands her a sheaf of papers. "Here are the recipes, my lady. This one is a simple ginger tea and it will ease the stomach. This one is for your aches and pains. I'm quite sure your cook would have all the necessaries...See More
23/6/1480 DR
 Esme is at her desk in her personal apartment in the castle. She pulls her tiny silver statuette of a broken man (her holy symbol of Illmater).

    She writes in tiny neat handwriting on a small scroll:
    "Dear Friend,
    Our enemies grow stronger by the day, Thay is seeking to break out a great army through the drow city, any moment now, as foreseen in the stars. And Shadovar seeks to gain dominance on the vale.
    Our only hope lies int he unification of our forces, and striking at the Shadovar at their weakest, when they are distracted with the Severed Eye Orcs.
    Sweetest Regards,
    The Bane Child, Iron Queen of Lllorkh, Misstress of Battle, Esmerelda"
    Esme, climbs up to her tower of birds, cast aritual to give the bird instructions, and releases the black dove with its message.
    (Cut to seeing the dove, flying towards the Mountain Kings Domain to the North)
27/6/1480 DR - six days since the Midsummer Ball, three days after Kitana's departure, and four days until Shieldmeet, two tired looking soldiers on horseback arrive at the west gate of Llorkh, and are taken to Queen Esmerelda's throne room - big strapping young fellows in scale, their tabards show the flaming hand symbol of Jareth, the commander of Lirael's guards - http://www.hotcancer.com/images/jareth-arms.png They bow to Your Majesty, and one hands you a sealed letter. It's from Arya the Red Wizard. She apologises very nicely, but unfortunately critical matters in the west mean that the Heroes of Loudwater will be unable to attend Shieldmeet as requested, to oversee the signing of the alliance between Queen Valeris, Queen Esmerelda, and Thane Harvak of the Glintshield. "Lirael is gravely ill and the matters that hold us from attending relate directly to that. Once the matter has been attended to I personally shall call upon you to apologise for our absence."

Esme sends the young men to the kitchen to slake their thirst and hunger, and makes the necessary arrangements for them to stay the night with the Piglord men, if they want to rest. Once they have left the room, she scrunches up the message and throws it on the fire.

  • "Ilmater damn it, but she is making me suffer!"

    <I'm assuming my husband has left for Valeris's Souythermn Settlements already?>
  • Simon Newman GM: Yup, Galtos & Vilkar went to Valeris' southern towns on 24/6, three days ago, the same day Kitana & co left. Your wizard Jonas has been splitting his time between investigating what's left in Olaris Vlakos' tower, and hanging around the courtroom being sexy.
  • Simon Newman I have a SHOCKING REVELATION that will occur next day, 28/6 - anything you want to do before I go on to 28/6?
  • Simon Newman Do you send a letter to the Glintshield Dwarves re Shieldmeet?
  • Simon Newman 27/6/1480: Esme sees the messengers attended to. It's getting late, and despite Jonas' ministrations the third trimester of pregnancy is weighing heavily on the young Queen of Llorkh. She retires to her bedchamber - alone, for Prince Galtos is off on a diplomatic mission with Vilkar and sme of the men. Esme does not sleep well. It's hot in the bechambr, stifling, Esme tosses and turns...
  • Simon Newman Esme walks in night-gown through a night garden of black roses and sighing ash-grey willow, ebony-complexioned moss soft on her bare feet. A shadowy figure walks beside her, familiar and companionable, a man - yet she can't quite see who it is. Yet perhaps she knows...
  • Simon Newman Esme stops by a rose, bends to savour the exquisite scent. The dark stranger beside her has remained silent up to now, but now he speaks, tenderly: "Beloved daughter, you have done so well. Many tests yet remain, and the path is hard, yet know that I am with you, always."
  • Simon Newman Esme feels a strong, reassuring hand on her shoulder. Incredible strength - the power to triumph over all that this hard world can place in her way... He speaks again: "And you are right about your sister. I had such great hopes for her, also. But she is failing - has failed. I know that you still seek to redeem her, to place her upon the right path. But..." Here He pauses, and when He speaks again after a long moment, his tone is full of sorrow: "There may come a time, my beloved one. If Valeris cannot be saved... You know what you must do."
  • James Andrew Joyce (OOC: OMFG, I go to get a sandwiche, then Bane, makes an appearance!)
  • James Andrew Joyce Esme turns around quickly and sees,....(her father the viking, bane,...Boris.....Quinn playing a prank...)
  • Simon Newman Esme wakes up, gasping almost tumbling out of her bed. Is that a kick she felt in her tummy?
  • James Andrew Joyce Was the voice my dads, or some other voice? (stil routing for it not to be Bane....Yikes!)
  • Simon Newman Your memory of the dream is already hazy, but yes it did sound like your father, though warmer and more sympathetic than you ever knew him.
  • Simon Newman So, that wasn't actually the SHOCKING REVELATION...
  • James Andrew Joyce Esme, gets up, and goes dwon to the kitchen to get some of her herbal tea, that Jonas gave her the recipe for.

    (Yes she did pen a letter to the dwarves before she went to bed)
  • Simon Newman Eventually Esme lapses back into a deep and dreamless sleep. 28/6: Next morning, Jareth's two men depart back west for Northwood Manor. Jonas Sylverman brews Esme some more of that cramp-easing tea for her breakfast, and massages her feet. No word yet from Prince Galtos & Vilkar, they'll probably be a few more days. The sun sets, Esme is on her throne with Jonas massaging cricks from her shoulders and chatting with Princess Sevilla about drumming technique. Your guards and courtiers stand around, chatting likewise. Then a trumpet-horn blares outside. A moment later, one of your men, a black-clad Banite, dashes into the courtroom, eyes wide, and blurts out: "Your Majesty, Princess Kitana has returned, with her men, and hobgoblins riding giant wolves! And they have booty..."
  • Simon Newman One of your Piglord guard corporals (not a big fan of Kitana) steps forward towards the Banite. "Hobgoblins?! How many?" The Banite soldier looks at him contemptuously: "Thirty, I counted!" The Banite looks to his Queen. "Your majesty, they are swift approaching. Shall we usher them in?"
  • Timothy Walford I think Quinn is rubbing off on me I see "they have booty" and instantly thought something else....
  • Simon Newman Funny you should say that...
  • James Andrew Joyce "30! 30 hundred, or just 30?"

    "Leave the wolves outside, usher in the hobgoblins."

    I whisper to Jonas, "Make sure their are at least a 100 men available at a shout, preferably the more...brave men."
  • James Andrew Joyce I clap my hands.

    "Tell the cook to prepare our best pigs for a feast tonight, and some boars for the wolves feast upon themselves"
  • Kimberly Pauley (First of all, you hear Lirael is gravely ill and you're all, like, "oh bother?" ???!! Dude! Secondly, hey, wasn't Esme's dad a pirate???)
  • Simon Newman GM: Esme instructs Jonas to get 100 men on alert, he hurries out. She orders a feast prepared in the Great Hall. Shortly thereafter, Kitana's arrival is announced. The doors swing open, and in strides Kitana at the head of a band of 14 - 8 Banites (2 less than she left with) and 6 tall, broad-shouldered hobgoblin warriors, all commanders by the look of them. Several of the Banites are lugging treasure chests, one carries a rolled-up carpet that looks suspiciously bulky. Kitana walks proudly, head held high, with a new red velvet sash across her black leather cuirass, eyes shining with the Light of Bane. She carries a small ornate jewel box. Beside her, wearing an identical sash, is an enormous hobgoblin warlord carrying a wicked spear - https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEiV1TAl1LQhp83A7N1_emVE0FH8lxBjJ9PWMRYvhlUGFEbzwtsJi4qFsd14x2kinBKKuC-wa2HDwMXmssmXSQIyr-nEusqyPfDJ4c2MWlAXG-nu7o24DnqD-ALVTW2itEniETPLkqEF4Hy7/s400/Delderosh,+Warlord+of+Korzzbad.jpg - and leading in a naked captive by her collar chain, a tall and statuesque blonde who Esme recognises as Pamela Bardew. Pamela was one of the women Esme helped rescue from the Zelbross slavers, so long ago now; Marsh gave her a job at the (edit) Green Tankard.
  • Kimberly Pauley (ooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh!)
  • Simon Newman Kitana steps forward, and kneels before the throne: "Your Majesty, I have returned! We have had many adventures since I departed your Divine Presence, much to tell. But first let me introduce Warlord Delderosh of Korzzbad..." The huge hobgoblin warlord steps forward, Esme's Pigmen guards taking a nervous step back, and likewise kneels before Esme, lowering his head. He speaks in guttural Common: "Bane Child, my five thousand blades are at your command."
  • Simon Newman Kitana turns and gestures to the other men and hobgoblins, who likewise kneel before the Bane Child - with difficulty for those carrying the treasure chests. Behind Delderosh, a frightened looking Pamela kneels likewise. (Once Esme has given permission to rise) Kitana continues: "Your majesty, allow me to recount my tale...
  • James Andrew Joyce I turn to Sevilla, and whisper into her ear. "Go to my chamber and look after the girl when she arrives as if she were royalty.", and then I shoo her away, loudly stating. "Make sure only the fattest and juiciest pigs are served ffor tonight."

    "Welcome dear friends, let my men releive you of thpse burdenous chests, then let us revel in the story of my wonderful Kitana's journey. And someone take that beautiful slave to my chamber, where she can get to work."
  • Simon Newman As the others step forward with the chests, opening them to reveal masses of silk dresses, silver and gold coin, Warlord Delderosh's eyes widen in surprise and shock. "I am sorry, your Majesty. She mine! Not part of gift!" He tugs on Pamela's chain, bringing her closer, protectively. "Women ours..." Esme can see Kitana looks nervous. "Your Majesty, Bane Child, I agreed with Warlord Delderosh that this would be your gift..." She beckons to the hobgoblin holding the carpet, he lowers it and unrolls it. Out onto the floor rolls another naked blonde woman, this one bound. Esme recognises her vaguely as Lady Jaela Rensard of Alwyck - she made quite a scene at Lady Moonfire's Midsummer Ball, lasciviously dancing with and kissing Quinn Eventide the Bard. Kitana: "This witch has committed terrible crimes against the Goblins your Majesty. She and her servants were taken as forfeit."
  • Simon Newman Sevilla has gratefully departed the courtroom via the side door.
  • Simon Newman As the hobgoblin warlord glowers, Kitana speaks quickly, aware that her great moment of triumph might be about to go horribly wrong: "Your Majesty, on the way to the Goblins we fought with trolls... We lost two men, but we slaughtered them, burned the bodies, took the scorched heads. Then we met the Goblins - the trolls had been eating Goblins... the Goblins were most grateful, they took us to Korzzbad, their capital. I told them of the coming of the Bane Child, but they demanded a sign that my words were true. Evil witches had been stealing Goblin babies from the forest, killing their parents when they tried to resist. We led the Goblins against the witches lair - Rensard manor, in the village of Alwyck..."
  • James Andrew Joyce Afk : Commuting, will be back in 60 mins or more, but continue.
  • Simon Newman Kitana: "We took the palisade - their guards fell before us like wheat before the Reaper! One of the Witches, the Red-Cloak they call Myuni, was not there, but we captured the female, this one, Lady Jaela Rensard..." Kitana pokes the prone Jaela with her foot "...and took her treasures, her servant-women, her dresses, her jewels and coin! Beneath the Rensard Manor we found a room with rows of blackened goblin-skulls, the goblin-babes she had murdered..." The hobgoblins murmur angrily at the mention of this. "The Goblins wished to burn her then, but I told them that the Witch might still serve of use to the Bane Child - she is corrupt, but her magic powers are great, much stronger than that hedge-mage from Elfstree! So we have brought her to you my Liege, that you may decide her fate."
  • Simon Newman (If Esme didn't wish to hear Kitana's long spiel we can retcon that you interrupted it)
  • James Andrew Joyce Nah. Thats great. See bane has saved the day Kim.
  • Simon Newman Kitana smiles hopefully at Queen Esmerelda. "Because Bane is merciful, your Majesty, we left alive those who did not resist. Only those who had served the Witch willingly at her Manor were killed or taken - a dozen women." Warlord Delderosh nods. "I told the people of Alwyck that there was only one true Lord - Bane, and through him the Bane Child, Queen Esmerelda of Llorkh. The elders knelt before me. By all the treasures we found, the Witch must have taxed them heavily - doubtless they will be grateful for your merciful rule. Then we left - most of the Goblin army returned south with a fair share of the treasures, but we returned east, with Warlord Delderosh, his Battle Captains, and their slaves, to bring you your treasure-tribute and tell you what had occurred. I hope this pleases you, your Majesty." Kitana sounds nervous but hopeful as she again bows her head in supplication to the Bane Child.
  • Kimberly Pauley (Yeah, the Bane Child *would* say that...)
  • Kimberly Pauley (and too bad we didn't have time to clear out those trolls...but the Tigerclaws arriving kind of put a wrench in that)
  • Simon Newman Lying on the floor, the blonde Witch(?) Lady Jaela Rensard is gagged and blindfolded, with her ankles bound and her wrists tied behind her. There are bruises on her body. She can't see what is going on, but is clearly terrified as she listens to Kitana's words. The hobgoblin captains look to be in awe of the Bane Child, but also nervous over their Warlord's disagreement with Esme over Pamela Bardew, and aware that they're outnumbered in the Courtroom - their hairy hands stay close to their weapon-hilts. Warlord Delderosh looks tense and a little grumpy, with a possessive paw on Pamela's shoulder as she kneels submissively at his feet. Kitana's Banites are full of the Light of Bane, gazing adoringly at the Bane Child, while the Pigmen guards and Brigand warriors look tense and nervous as they stand around the perimeter of the courtoom, watching the scene. Perhaps Esme is reminded of that other night in this same Courtroom, less than a year ago, when a different monarch sat upon the same throne, shortly to lose it...
  • James Andrew Joyce (OOC: I was thinking exactly the same thoughts)
  • Kimberly Pauley ("Only those who had served the Witch willingly at her Manor were killed or taken - a dozen women."... wondering what the Bane Child is gonna do now...)
  • Simon Newman OOC Pamela Bardew may have erred in using her Sharess-given Powers on Delderosh - now he *really* doesn't want to give her up... Would be funny if that smashed the Banite alliance before it started! >:)
  • Simon Newman GM: As the talking goes on, several of Esme's Pigmen guards take the Rensard treasure chests from Kitana's Banites, as instructed. Kitana hands over the small jewelry-box she was holding. A Pigman Corporal turns to Esme: "Your Majesty, shall we take the silk dresses and the jewel-box to your chambers? And the coin to the Vaults?"
  • Simon Newman One of the chests holds writings - Ritual books, Ammarindar copper writing-plates, and the like.
  • James Andrew Joyce "I gather my strength to stand up quickly with strength and certainty, with none of the weakness Ilmater has bestowed upon me because of Meilikkis gift of pregnancy.

    "Why what a tale, or bravery, and the slaying of evil, and villainy!!"

    "Yes, yes, take the gold to vault, take that chest to the vault too <pointing to the one containing rituals etc>. Split the jewels in half, take 50% to my chamber, the rest to the vault.
    The dresses, shall go to my chambers as well, but before all of this, my Champion! Kitana, must take her share, she obviously has first pick."
  • Simon Newman >>(and too bad we didn't have time to clear out those trolls...but the Tigerclaws arriving kind of put a wrench in that)<< Worked out great for Kitana, though!
  • James Andrew Joyce "I must retire to my chambers now, I am sorry but I wish to save my energy for the feast in a few hours..."

    I pause for a second.

    "Throw her in a cell, preferably the darkest, dampest one we have." <Pointing at the witch>

    "Delderosh, come forward and kneel before me, you too Kitana"

    <I draw my trifecta blade, the same one from my adventuring days, looks like an iron toblerone sword.>

    <When Kitana kneels before me, I shall knight her>

    "I knight you Ser Kitana, Grand Measter of the Fingers of Bane, may you crush enemies in his fist."
  • Simon Newman Kitana smiles happily, looking relieved at Esme's apparently positive reaction. "Thank you your Majesty, but I require no treasure or silken gowns. To serve you faithfully is all the reward I need, all that I could ever ask for!" The Light of Bane shines forth from her glowing, happy, fanatical face.
  • Simon Newman >>"Throw her in a cell, preferably the darkest, dampest one we have." <Pointing at the witch><< The Banites grin, two of the eight haul Lady Jaela to her feet and carry her out of the chamber, bound for the dungeons. Warlord Delderosh hands Pamela's chain over to one of his Battle Captains, before stepping forward and kneeling again before Queen Esme, nervous and trying not to show it. He's been sweating under his heavy armour, giving off a strong musky odour. Kitana comes forward too at the call and kneels beside Delderosh. As Esme knights her 'Ser Kitana, Grand Measter of the Fingers of Bane', she beams with happiness and pride. Delderosh waits.

        James Andrew Joyce "I knight you Ser Delderosh, Knight of the Fingers of Bane, may you crush enemies in his fist."
        <I leave the sword at his throat after having tapped it on his shoulders>
        "I am the Bane Child, his earthly vessel of battle and wroth. I speak for him and command as if he himself were here to talk to you. Don't ever forget that!"
        "I will forgive you your mis-step today, as your free pardon upon being knighted. And the red witch will stand trial under her Ladies court in Loudwater, for her crimes. I will push for her execution, and burning, as a present to you"
        "The girl behind you is mine, don't ever get on the wrong side of me again. I never ask, I say! If I say she is a gift to me, she IS a gift to ME!"
        "If you dont like it, you may leave my court now, with 30 wolf skins and a long walk home, through hostile lands!"
Delderosh quails before the power of the Bane Child. She sees defeat in his red eyes as he flinches.
"Yes, my Liege. I am sorry..."
He gestures to the hobgoblin holding Pamela's chain. He hurries forward and hands the chain to Esme, who off-hands it to a servant. The servant takes Pamela off to Esme's quarters.
Esme's warriors and the hobgoblin captains s had all tensed as Esme threatened Warlord Delderosh, now they relax as he submits to the Bane Child's power. Delderosh turns to one of the other hobgoblins and barks something in Goblin; the other hobgoblin looks angry, but nods.
Delderosh said in Goblin:
"Kruzgak, I'm taking yours instead! The dark-haired one."
When permitted to rise, Delderosh speaks to Esme again, fingering the red sash he wears - it looks to have been made of velvet curtain material, probably from Rensard manor:
"I go talk to men now, get ready for Feast. We have lots to talk 'bout."
 James Andrew Joyce <Once he leaves with his men, I will walk to my chamber to rest, with Kitana to talk to>
"Delderosh, is one of your knights now, I would keep an eye on him. Not all our followers are as loyal as you my sweet!"
"In the next few days, you will have to think about leading our men/goblins, down upon the Shadovar in the mines, I will get a location from the dwarves, so that you can crush them"
 <Outside the door, I will dismiss her, and then walk in to see what awaits...a queens life is hard!>
Esme dismisses Delderosh then rises and repairs to her chambers, walking with Kitana. Kitana nods at Esme's words.
"Your words are wise as always, my liege. May I ask why it was necessary to dishonour him, by taking his woman? Is she important?"
Kitana asks curiously.
 Esme replies:
"You have to make sure, your subordinates, do not mistake themselves for allies."
"I will prepare the men for war against the Shadovar Empire. We will be hopelessly outnumbered, of course."
 She grins playfully:
 "But when has that ever stopped us?" Apparently Kitana has a sense of humour!
Esme:  "I am working on the numbers issue, I have sent word to the Mountain King to join us, and with Shadovar sandwiched between the might of Bane, and the orc forces, they should be easier pickings."
Kitana nods.
 "When the Mountain King learns that we have the Southwood Goblins, he will surely join us. I was thinking that we should first secure Orlbar, with his aid? Then our forces could march together against the Shadovar."
"They say the Shadovar have a hundred thousand warriors, flying fortresses, a Gargantuan Dracolich... Their leaders are Shade Wizards, thousands of years old, the most powerful Sorcerors in all Faerun... It will be a glorious war."
She goes into a slight reverie at the thought.
"I know Delderosh wants to talk battle-plans at the Feast, your majesty. I'll fetch a map of the Vale."
Kitana bows and withdraws. Esme turns to her chamber door...
As Kitana goes off, Esme can hear her talking happily to herself:
"...We will crush the Shadovar, avenge Fzoul Chembryl's failures, the defeat at Zhentil Keep... Then Bane will make Queen Esme the new Grand Preceptor...he he."
 28/6/1480 DR, Evening - The personal quarters of Esmerelda, Queen of Llorkh
 Esme opens the door to her bedchamber, and goes in. Inside she finds blonde Pamela Bardew, still naked but for collar & chain, but looking quite comfortable as she sits on a stool, sipping red wine from a goblet and surveying a selection of Esme's silk dresses that shy Princess Sevilla has laid out on the Royal bed for her. Princess Sevilla by contrast is blushing and avoiding looking at the nubile ex-barmaid as she talks, standing by the bed with eyes firmly on the dresses she's pointing out:
"We think this green one is Shou silk, from Nathlan... That grey one is Cormyrean, Royal Court, but two seasons old I think. The merchants only bring us the cast-offs I'm afraid..."
Both women look up as Queen Esme enters. Pamela Bardew hurriedly stands, and kneels before Esme, head bowed low:
    "Your Majesty, please forgive me. I didn't hear you come in."
ESME: I look at Sevilla.
"I'm sorry dear, but I must ask you to go make sure the feast is prepared properly. I cannot trust anyone else to get all the food correct, and people set in the right places, make sure the General is on my Right, and Kitana on my left."
I turn to Pamela, who I assume is still kneeling.
"Why is it every time I find you, I have to rescue you. Now please stand up put on a dress, and tell me what the hell happened?"
Princess Sevilla curtsies low to her Queen.
"Yes, your Majesty".
 She withdraws.
Once Sevilla has gone, Pamela breathes out:
Pamela's 1478 season Cormyran court dress

She stands, nodding at Esme's words, and slips on the grey Cormyrean court dress - whichever noblewoman once wore it was shorter and less well endowed, but it doesn't look too bad.

"Your Majesty..."
She grins at the words.
 "Esmerelda! I remember when we were serving beer steins together at the Green Tankard?! Remember Sunsteen Urbeth? He's still around... Sorry."
She pauses, sobers.
"I'm working at the Fisher's Friend now - 'least, I *was* working there. I met an amazing woman called Quinn Eventide, a Bard - *mmm*..."
Pamela's expression goes dreamy as she thinks about Quinn for a moment, then she snap back.
 "Quinn's our Festhall Manager now. Anyway, she asked me to spy on Lady Jaela and her consort Lord Myuni at Rensard Manor, in the village of Alwyck. Get hired as a maid, watch for a few days, find out what they were up to. Anything for Quinn, so I went there, they gave me a job alright... You know I used to be Chief Maid to Eclara Travys? Anyway, I'd only been there a day, when..."
"Lord Myuni wasn't there, apparently he'd left a few days earlier. The Goblins attacked at dawn - hundreds of them, it looked like. I was asleep when it started, but I saw Kitana and the warlord, Delderosh, when they broke into the Manor. They were cutting down Jaela's men like they were nothing - her guards, any of the servants who tried to fight. Jaela was on the balcony, using magic - she hit Kitana with a kind of force blast, knocked her over. But it didn't seem to slow her down much. They got to the balcony and grabbed Jaela, then it was over. They looted the place, rounded up all the girls..."
 She looks down, blushing slightly.
"Delderosh picked me... Thanks for rescuing me, again."
"Jaela, I know little of her, but from what I have heard, I have no love of her..."
 "How is Marsh? Without you it must be hard for him to keep the customers happy?" (I frown slightly)
 "I need you to take word to Loudwater of Jaelas imprisonment, I would have you as my Emissary, that way, my banites can still think you are my slave. And you can live in peace."
Pamela nods, and speaks emphatically:
"Marsh really misses you, Esme. Since you left his bed he's been sad and lonely. I spoke to Holly recently, she told me Marsh was even thinking of selling the Green Tankard, if he could get a good price - move to Llorkh, start a new Inn here. He knows he can't be with you - he just wants to be near you."
Pamela listens to Esme's proposal.
 "I'll do whatever you want, Esme. Just tell me what to do. If it's ok with you, I'll go back to the Fisher's Friend. I don't think spying agrees with me much. Although..."
she grins
"...I was kinda doing ok with Delderosh - there's this thing I do with his ears.... ...Praise Be to Sharess. But I didn't fancy being taken to Korzzbad with the others. He has them all here, by the way - all twelve of the maids. They brought us on the Worgs. I don't suppose you can help them, too?"
"Did the maids know what their mistress was doing to the Goblin children?"
Pamela considers the question thoughtfully:
"I don't know for sure - I was only there for a day. But they knew their masters were Warlocks, and that they were up to fishy business. I got the impression they deliberately avoided thinking about what Jaela and Myuni got up to. They didn't seem surprised about the goblin skulls, anyway... I guess they knew, or should have known. I remember a couple of them wisecracking about Jaela's cousin Thaya, how she wouldn't last long once she came back from Waterdeep... They seem to think Jaela probably murdered her father, Sir Golt Rensard. He only died about five months ago, after Jaela returned home with Lord Myuni."
 "Well, I will not waste my time, or small political power to save them from the suffering they reap, from the suffering they observed, and allowed to happen."
"I am a fair Queen, but no-one has ever called me forgiving, monarchy takes it toll on your soul...sometimes I miss being a simple waitress Pamela."
Pamela nods in understanding:
"Well, you're the boss. Your Majesty."
She grins.
"I'll not forget that you saved me, Esme. Anytime I can repay the favour, you only have to ask."
Pamela glances to the bedroom window, overlooking a courtyard full of snarling worgs.
"I get the impression you're using your power here to do good, Esme. If you weren't here, it would be someone worse."
 James Andrew Joyce Esme breaks down into tears, and hugs Pamela.
 "Thank you!"
 "...sob...sometimes, I think...sob...I think that I'm doing more evil than good...sob..."
"I hope Marsh doesn't come to Llorkh, and see me like this. I hate what I pretend to be,..I think Bane is talking to me...or my dead father...I killed him...or I thought I had...sobs"
Pamela hugs Esme back soothingly, rocking her slightly: "It's ok, Esme... It's ok. I understand. We all have to do things we don't like, sometimes..." After more hugs from Pamela, Esme sets to writing her letters. Pamela asks if she can wait in Esme's chambers until the Feast, as she's a bit wary of being on her own right now .
 (Pamela Bardew is VERY good at turning a frown upside down!)
Esme writes letters:
        To the Dwarves :
        "Dear Friends,
I would appreciate the latest location of the Shadovar forces, their numbers, and how they are going about their battle with the Orcs, with Ilmater on your side, we can defeat these evil creatures seeking to take the Vale,
Please trust me in the use of the tools I have at my disposal, throwing two great enemies at each other, might save our beautiful vale! (As I'm sure the Shadowchain, are aware.)
To Loudwater
        "Dear Lady Moonfire,
 It has come to my attention , that one of your vassals has been preying on children. Killing them and keeping the trophies on her premises, unfortunately, when my vassal found out about the location of where this atrocity occurred, he went ahead and assaulted the Manor of Jeala.
Please accept my apologies for this assault on one of your vassals, however, I would like to hold a trial for Jeala, where she can be held to account for her crimes, it would be held in Llorkh, and I will be Judge and Juror, if you have any objection, please make them to my new Emissary, who has delivered this message to you.
All the best,
  The Iron Queen
To Queen Valeris:
"Dear Sis,
 I cannot make it to Shieldmeet, as my new vassals the Goblins of Southshield are staying in Llorkh at the moment.
By the time you read this, i will have taken the lands south of the river, and shall be offering them the protection, you and your men have not been able to give them, in the past few months.
Father sent me a message last night, he hopes you are well,
Esme o x o"
(This is not a letter I am actually sending.)
James Andrew Joyce The letter to the dwarves will be sent by Dove. The letter sent to Louwater will be taken by my new Emissary!
After Esme has sorted that out, she will actually go to sleep for a couple of hours.
Esme dispatches the two letters and uses Animal Messenger to send a dove with one to the Stonefang Tunnel, then lies down to rest. Pamela washes the grime of travel & hobgoblin off her, then does her makeup and hair (this can easily take Pam a couple hours).
An hour later, Esme lies on the bed uncomfortably, trying to rest but not really able to sleep. Over by the dresser, Pamela has brushed her hair, applied red lip-colour and bluish eye-liner, and is now working on a little rouge for her cheeks. She glances over at Esme, sees that the Queen is awake. Pamela:
"Esme... I've been thinking. You know I said I'd do anything for you. Well, I kinda get the impression you don't have a real confidante here. Princess Sevilla seems nice, but... "
Pamela pauses, takes a deep breath.
"...If you'd like me to remain here, pretend to be your serving-slave, I can do that. This doesn't bother me..." she fingers the leather & iron collar at her neck.
"I've been in worse. And... I said I was done with spying, but you know, I could probably find out a lot for you? People talk freely around servants, like we're not really there."
Pamela is obviously nervous about the idea of staying in Llorkh, but wants to repay her debt to Esme; she also seems a bit excited about the possibility of continuing her newfound role as a spy.
There's a knock on the door. From behind the door:
"Milady? It's Kitana. The feast is ready, the Great Hall awaits your pleasure."
Esme: I get out of bed, and ask Pam to help me dress.
"I cannot make this decision for you, you must decide this for yourself, you must take the message back to Loudwater for me tomorrow, make your mind up tonight, what course you would like best, slave/spy, or Embassador. And in the morning I will make the necesary arrangements based on your decision. I cannot guarantee your safety in Llorkh though."
I make my way down to the banquet.
Pamela nods. Esme's guards escort her into the Great Hall, as horns sound and drums roll to announce her presence. Nearly two hundred men, women and hobgoblins are crammed in for the feast; roar of appreciation goes up as Esme enters:
"The Queen! Stand for the Queen! Huzzah!"
The Banite cadre salute and click their heels, as Kitana has been teaching them. Kitana helps Esme to her seat at the high table, as arranged - Kitana to her left Princess Sevilla is sitting left of Kitana, and the magist Jonas Sylverman to Sevilla's left, looking over with concern at the bulky armoured form of Warlord Delderosh sat to Esme's right, a nude, dark-haired and shapely slave girl kneeling behind him - presumably one of the Rensard maids. Delderosh is gripping the slave's collar chain and he casts Esme a nervous look, doubtless worried that she'll demand this one, too. Down below in the main hall, thirty armoured hobgoblin war-captains occupy the centre of the room, eleven more slave girls with them, and outside can be heard the sounds of the worgs enthusiastically feasting. Pamela Bardew, entering with Esme, stands behind her chair and whispers in her ear:
 "Should I sit down? The seat beside Delderosh is free... Or should I stay here?"
Serving-women enter the Hall with the first platters - roast ducklings, archer fish, bowls of stew.
The diners tuck into the first course, and the second is already being distributed - Timbervale pork, and wild boar with orchard-apples.
"Go to the kitchen and get me some of the apple juice, not cider."
 <I meant for the wargs to be kept outside of Llorkh, not just the castle, but the town itself. Only guide or metal dogs allowed inside>
 <On that note I will leave my two remaining defenders curled up around the fireplace behind my chair at the table, yes their is a fireplace at the head of the table...:p>
<When Pamela returns>
 "Go get me the best, juiciest pieces of the food being brought into the room."
<When I talk to Pamela, it is hushed tones, not whispering, but not loud enough to hear over the cajoling, and ruckus>
 "So Lady Kitana, and Ser Delderosh, plans of attack?"