“Kosvach, jog his memory.”
(sound of impact)
“Well… that’s where he keeps his memory.” — Vittorio Marvigliazzo and Basilcar Vargari
Ettorio still hasn’t arrived by the time to depart. However, as the group is preparing, a parcel arrives addressed to Vittorio. It contains a hat box, holding his magical hat. There is no signature, so the group simply hopes that Ettorio or another friend is responsible. Vesper, still disguised as a Magran barbarian accented with yellow plaid, attaches herself to the retinue of “Cravino D’Ambergia.” Carenza and a newly disguised Vittorio take Kosvach and the Ladies along, meeting up with Angisera, Basilcar and Venetta Vargari along the way.
Carenza and Vittorio’s team reaches the large corridor outside the Miriadis guest quarters. Vittorio notes that a couple of civilians in the area have subtle cues identifying them as lookouts, possibly for the Prince’s spy network. One casually detaches and wanders off, and Carenza dispatches the Ladies to run him down and put him somewhere safe. The other lookout plays the part of the surprised innocent, but it doesn’t stop Kosvach from decisively subduing him.
They opt for the servant’s entrance into the Miriadis quarters. The staff working in the kitchen is somewhat alarmed to see a group of heavily armed blades enter, but Vittorio gives them a cheerful speech about how it’s all fine, and the servants are immediately caught in his silver tongue. They move through the dining room without a peep, and in a large living area catch a pair of thick-necked Miriadis playing cards. The former Thornshields realize they’re overmatched, but one is conspicuously loud as he asks “What are you doing?” This draws the attention of a small group of mercenaries — likely hired security to replace fallen Miriadis muscle — and the Vargari quickly move to engage and overpower them. Carenza and Vittorio take a set of stairs up to a study, where they find another pyromancer, who quickly closes his book as he sees them coming.
The party for the prince’s son, Gorvari, takes place on an upper story — a ballroom-sized balcony that looks out over the giants’ throne room. The guards accept the mock-D’Ambergia and let his retinue through as well. Vesper and Vestiri survey the gala, and note plenty of potential adversaries and perhaps allies:
- The Prince, his wife Bellacava and son Gorvari, and his brother Galvasso
- Patrios Divaldi, the arcane advisor Azilro, and Helsperia
- Grunestia, Rofogarre, and one of his pyromancer apprentices
- Tacitarus Verastin
- Brightfather Antolio of Kaeal
- Spadio Ironskin
- The renowned courtesan Quillanessa
- Captain Occorro Drakeshand, attended by an unfamiliar woman of subtly sinister bearing
Vesper whispers to Vestiri to get her closer to Tacitarus. She then bobs along in the faux-D’Ambergia’s wake, and exchanges a few words with the Verastin. He agrees to dispel the illusion on the woman, and will wait for the sign from Vesper. With that, she directs Vestiri to bring her close to Rofogarre. He does so with aplomb, engaging the Ruby Seat with a convoluted inquiry about keeping basilisks magically cooled for transport. As the Miriadis attempts to make sense of the tangled conversation, Vesper taps one of her
iron nails to Rofogarre’s cane and says “Vicusi.”
In the Miriadis study, the pyromancer glares at the intruders. But before he can pronounce an arcane syllable, Vittorio blasts him with a wave of infernal presence. “Sit the fuck down,” says the bard, “and wait to be tied up.” The stunned pyromancer obeys, and before he can shake off the compulsion, Kosvach and Basilcar have him in a pair of painful joint locks. The binding and gagging is effortless after that.
Carenza and Vittorio lead the search for infernalist evidence. They find a coffer holding ingots and billets of a greenish steel (recognizable as something derived from Hell’s smelters), a locked box that radiates magic, and paraphernalia in keeping with offering materials for Vaiskathion.
They’re getting the materials assembled when they hear the voices of guards below demanding an explanation. Captain Diandra makes a show of being drawn to the disturbance but with no real forewarning. When she sees the assembled evidence, she smiles and nods.
At the party, the nail does its work. The illusion falls away — Rofogarre has been leaning on a branding iron, one worked into the same pattern found on the skin of the pyromancers and the devil-sworn guards. Immediately Tacitarus invokes his spell, and the woman on Drakeshand’s arm is suddenly revealed as a black-skinned, red-haired, silver-horned devil. She shrieks, and immediately flees. An arcane bolt from the Verastin is just too slow — she leaps over the balcony and falls to the floor below as the bolt smashes out a portion of the rail.
The party, of course, immediately erupts into confusion. Vesper seizes Rofogarre’s branding iron and arm. She’s not strong enough to hold him entirely, but she does delay him until the gnoll “Mustard” can lock him in a hold. The female pyromancer with him reflexively throws a searing spell at Vesper, but doesn’t strike a vital blow. The Sespech responds with a banshee wail that rocks the pyromancer back. Then Gorsino’s voice thunders over the chaos, demanding explanations.
Vestiri, as Cravino, does much of the speaking. He describes his coming into the knowledge that the Miriadis shelter secret diabolists, and that some of those are the very ones “teaching” Gorsino’s son magic. They show him the branding iron, and Vesper tears at the dress of the pyromancer apprentice — but her skin is bare, at least in the place where they’d seen the brand on the other pyromancer. Spadio urges Gorsino to send a group to investigate the Miriadis quarters. The Prince grudgingly agrees, dispatching Helsperia and some guards. While they wait for the findings, Rofogarre tells his side of the story, about how the Miriadis have been hounded by jealous agents, themselves likely diabolists, who are attempting to frame them. He receives little help from Grunestia, as the Topaz Seat is quick to claim that she knew of none of this.
Meanwhile, Helsperia and her guards arrive at the Miriadis quarters. She is not pleased to find that a group of freelancers have already invaded the place, subdued several guests, and accumulated a pile of literally damning evidence. With all the servants as witnesses, she has no choice but to accept Carenza and Vittorio’s explanation.
Eventually Helsperia returns to the party along with Carenza and the Vargari, as well as the captive Miriadis. Vittorio uses the opportunity to slip away, not particularly wanting to inadvertently give Rofogarre extra evidence for his counter-charges of infernalism. Gorsino’s famous temper is on full display when he receives the evidence. He orders Rofogarre, the pyromancers, and the branded muscle into custody. However, he also takes the “D’Ambergia retinue,” Carenza and the Vargari under “protective custody” as well. The blades — with the exception of the absent Ettorio and Vittorio — settle into their spartan quarters to await Prince Gorsino’s decision.