Tales of Arestia

Songs of Betrayal

The Journal of Sylvius Modesto

So, we had a bit of an evening. For starters, after some sound and fury, we were joined in our investigations by m friend Elura, who was investigating this whole mess on behalf of poor Tommen’s mistress.

After some searching, we discovered an ancient but recentl-renovated subterranean temple. Now, having already deduced from the assassin’s tools and from the needle/calling-card left behind at the scene that an assassin-cult of Atropos was responsible for the killing, and listening at the door long enough to hear that “the first had fallen, and soon the second and third would follow,” I was certain we’d learned enough to proceed with apprehending them and taking them to the watch.

I encountered some resistance on this point. Apparently, we “had no idea what was on the other side of that door” (three pairs of footsteps), and it had “no way of knowing they were cultists of Atropos” (we had no reason to suspect any other Fallen Star cults were even active within the city, and followers of conventional religions wouldn’t need to hide in catacombs). So I suggested that we “knock,” which is also the point at which my companions either believe I am an absolute buffoon, or else they are just painfully literal-minded, if not both.

In any case, after much hue and cry, we finally kicked in the door, whereupon the inhabitants of the ominous subterranean temple defied all expectation by actually being members of a murder-cult devoted to the goddess of assassins. We defeated and apprehended the rogues, and then searched the temple while Brother Garret de-desecrated (resecrated?) the altar to Atropos.

More interestingly, Elura found three contracts for assassinations, and three not-terribly anonymous clients:

  • Tommen (client: jilted wife)
  • Senator Petarkis (client: imprisoned daughter)
  • Claudio RossetiClaudio Rosetti (client: scorned father of lover)
    This was when Garret and Calina chimed in to note that Senator Petarkis’ daughter was imprisoned by her father after she attempted to elope with Claudio Rosetti, staging her own abduction in order to blackmail a “dowry” out of him. Garret had been commissioned to rescue her, and despite the change in the circumstances of his mission (i.e. she hadn’t been kidnapped) he opted to drag her home nonetheless.

Here again, our opinions diverged. Elura, for example, wanted to seduce a judge into viewing the evidence we’d collected directly rather than taking it to the watch and allowing him to be legitimately exonerated. Some of us, myself included, felt that the job of warning these people that they’d been targeted for assassination and bodyguarding them was likewise a job for the watch, and not concerned citizens. And some of us, myself included, did not believe that the assassins would keep their real contracts and clients, even as ineptly rendered “anonymous” as they were, in a drawer and protected by no kind of code, nor cipher, nor even a decent trap, like contact poison in the ink or something.

That particular debate came to a head when the watch refused to immediately arrest the three clients on the strength of these contracts. Which is fair, it’s hardly damning evidence (I probably could have written those contracts myself if I’d wanted} and it’s not like they’d had time to question the prisoners we’d delivered.

So, after some debate, Gandren’s squire, whom if I may say is a tad aggravating, suggested that Garret arrest them on grounds of heresy. It’s bad enough that we’ve got to manage an overzealous literalist with divine might and no sense of discretion, without people feeding him bad ideas. Nevertheless, that’s what was done.

(And can I say, seeing someone arrested on a charge of heresy, even for consorting with a cult of a Fallen Star, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Consorting with evil forces, I could see as a crime, but a charge of heterodoxy covers all manner of sins. What’s to keep the Church of Aetemisia from declaring the worship of Persephone heretical? Or Calypso? They’re hardly the gleaming paragons of virtue that Artemisians seem to favor).

We showed up at Casa Petarkis and of course Garret took the lead. I mean, he kind if had to, since none of the rest of us were invested with the authority of the church, but it kind of set the tone, and that tone was Selena’s burning hatred of Garret. In the end, Gandren had to place her under some kind of enchantment, lest we be forced to drag her kicking and screaming through the streets.

And this of course is where the real drams began. Father whatshisname had not been warned of our plans nor proffered any evidence prior to Garret’s arrest. Something of a family drama ensued. It turns out that Petarkis had been a major political supporter and financial backer of the church, and the Father was worried about reprisals from Petarkis’ political allies, cutting off the church’s funding and limiting its power. That might seem like a cold calculation, but that funding does bankroll the church’s charitable activities, so that’s food being taken indirectly from the mouths of the needy. Never try to explain that to a holy knight, though.

So I didn’t.

My greater concern is for Selena Petarkis. Her violent, blasphemous ranting has Gandren concerned that she is possessed, but I suspect a more mundane explanation: she hates Garret and hates the church because she feel that both have failed and betrayed, of not outright persecuted, her. In my experience, girls who run off with young men that their fathers disapprove of, are as much “running from” as “running to.” And so whatever prompted her to elope would lie with her home life (and the father who locked her up after having her dragged back to him) as much as (or more than) with her beau.

Given her father’s obvious willingness to resort to the same tactics to destroy the man who stole his daughter from him, that makes Selena’s act less that of a demon-ridden host and more that of a girl who, once all legitimate options had failed her, resorted to an illegitimate one. I’m not sure if that exculpates her any more than being possessed, but I am also not sure it exculpates her any less. But certainly if he father were violent or otherwise abusive, we might look with greater sympathy on the attempt on her life.

In an case, she’s in the church’s care now, and all I can do is speak my opinions before judgment is passed.

More pressing in the moment was question of her lover. While Garret and Father Ican’trememberhisname and Calina all had their personal melodramas, Gandren, his retinue, Elura, and I all went out to drink. While we were out, we decided to hit all the establishments that rogue Claudio was known to frequent, and when I found him I invited myself to his card game and warned him that there was a contract on his life.

Of course, by then Elura was quite drunk and had already composed a ballad of recent events, airing the Petarkis’ dirty laundry all over town. She was drunkenly playing it by then, so I let him know that the two things were related, and he put enough together to also deduce that Selena and her father were in temple custody, after which he stated he had “one more thing to do before he left town.” Which either means he’s going to rescue her, murder the her father, or both. Or possibly kill her or both of them.

My money’s on the rescue attempt, though, and from what I’ve seen so far I kind of hope that he succeeds. Sadly, I doubt that’s likely, since I am not the only one of our merry band of misfits who was privy to that conversation.

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MattWalker

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