As some of our regular viewers may remember, our intrepid heroes were commissioned by Lord Baron Hyrus Covic, Grand Marshal of the Free City of Weyrcliff, to investigate (and prevent) a suspected assassination attempt against Prince Tavis Summerset and his daughter Abagail. It was believed that the attempt would take place in six days, during a ball in honour of the birthday of the Dowager Princess Martia. The commission was offered on the specific understanding that the party would not inform Lady Snow of the investigation, as she was on friendly terms with several potential suspects among the Fifty Families, Weyrcliff’s ruling elite.
Upon meeting with the Grand Marshal the party was foisted off upon one of his subordinates, Adjutant-Marshal Corland Anvers, who briefed them on what little was known thus far: apparently Ardis Matan, one of the Colour Guard (the soldiers serving as palace guards) had been noticed for spending conspicuously beyond her means at a Silver Street tavern, the Golden Anchor. Upon questioning, she admitted that she had indeed been approached by a man offering her a substantial bribe to allow a group of his associates access to the palace during the forthcoming ball. She had not yet been informed of the precise identity or purpose of the infiltrators. Unfortunately for the investigation, Matan had not survived her initial interrogation; the adjutant-marshal claimed that he believed that her death had been the result of overenthusiasm on the part of her interrogator rather than intent, but admitted he could not be certain.
Further complicating the investigation was the revelation that the list of potential suspects was extensive. With no clear successor should the two royals be removed, almost any of the Families might stand to gain in the power grab that would inevitably ensue – moreover, the succession struggle would almost certainly weaken the city-state’s stranglehold on trade upon the Gulf of Feloria, a strong motive for any number of local powers or mercantile interests.
Accepting the job and its generous pay on the understanding that they would not remain in the city once the time came for the expedition to the Infinity Clock to depart, the party began their investigation. Over the ensuing days they pursued avenues both mundane (Elrich mingling with the poor, Markus scouting the Golden Anchor, Yovan establishing underworld contacts) and exotic (the Warmaiden sorceress Zuli speaking with the spirit of Ardis Matan) in pursuit of the truth.
These investigations revealed a number of things:
- The guard was hired by a man who called himself Gallo. She had few details of what was planned other than what was already known (although she did believe that he had other agents within the Palace), but had planned to meet him again at a dockside inn the night before the ball for final instructions.
- In the event of an attack during the ball the Prince and Princess would usually be immediately escorted to their quarters, which would be placed under heavy guard. These rooms are quite defensible from mundane attack, but are vulnerable to more exotic approaches (such as flight).
- A Dresdan calling himself Kell arrived in the city a couple of weeks ago and is believed still to be present. He is known in the underworld as a skilled assassin who prefers to work with the assistance of locally hired specialists.
- There appears to be unusual tension between the civilians of the lower city and the city guards, including the veteran hobgoblin mercenaries of the Blood Axe Company who serve as the Prince’s crack enforcers.
On top of the above (although probably related to the last point) the investigation revealed that long-simmering discontent amongst the masses was on the verge of reaching a boiling point; at least one of Yovan’s trusted sources believes that the night of the ball will also the setting for a very different sort of party – a full-scale uprising. This report was at least implicitly confirmed by some of Elrich’s contacts in the docklands.
It also seems clear that Weyrcliff’s mercenary navy, the fleet of privateers and corsairs known as the Bullsharks, are involved with the planned revolt and may even be behind it. This is of particular concern since the Sharks are not only the largest military force under the city’s banner, but unlike the guard, the Blood Axes or the knights of the Star Bearer Order they enjoy considerable public support – pirates and raiders they may be, but they are mostly drawn from among the city’s poor and are the key to its ability to control the Gulf (also, of course, their depredations aren’t committed against the city). While usually most of their ships are at sea, investigation revealed that over two thirds of their fifty-ship fleet are currently in port including the massive flagship Calamitous.
Deciding that their best option to find those behind the attack would be to locate the mysterious ‘Gallo’ the party staked out the dockside inn where Matan had expected to receive her final instructions. While ‘Gallo’ didn’t show for the appointment, Yovan and Elrich noted someone else who seemed to be watching the venue and tailed him to another tavern where a man who did answer Gallo’s description was waiting.
And there we shall resume…