A Spellplagued Land
After his brief conversation with Liam, Arben takes his leave, apologizing for the interruption. “Not a problem at all, Arben,” Liam politely replies. “A candid discussion with companions is always welcome. I will ready myself and be downstairs shortly.”
After closing the door behind Arben, Liam pauses briefly to finish his tea before returning to his morning rituals. “What an odd start to the day,” he thinks to himself, surprised that such strong tensions have developed in the group so quickly, despite the relatively straightforward nature of their task. After a few minutes of reflection, he returns to his prayers, asking Amaunator to guide him on his quest. Now, though, he is more concerned with the animosity between his fellow adventurers than with the threat posed by Jarek.
Liam descends to the main floor of the inn to seek out his traveling companions. He spies Katreena eating alone at the bar, while Arben is enjoying a beverage at a separate table. Based on his earlier conversation with Arben, he realizes that he should have expected them to be avoiding each other, but is nevertheless surprised at the situation. Liam lets out a small sigh before donning his usual smile and approaching Katreena. “Good morning, Katreena,” he says cheerfully. “Would you have a few minutes to join me and Arben in discussing our plans for the day?”
Katreena is deep in thought as she savors the subtle honey flavor of her ham. The sound of approaching footsteps stifles her current notion, and she looks up to see Liam’s handsome face, smiling widely. “Good morning, Katreena.” The sight of Liam and a few of his casual words is enough to buoy Katreena’s mood. “I watched the sunrise today Liam…it was stunning. I can see why you would devote yourself to a diety that represents the splender that is the sun.” Liam seems taken aback at the flattery of Katreena’s words. He stumbles over his next sentence. “Would you have a few minutes to join me and Arben in discussing our plans for the day?” With Liam’s support, Katreena is certain that Arben’s outlook can be rectified. “Of course, Liam.” She gracefully gathers her dishes and moves to Arben’s table. Katreena smiles as she looks down at Arben, still bearing an equivocal look. “May we sit? We have much to discuss.”
Arben waves to the open seats at his table, “please, have a seat. What matters are most pressing to you this morning? Shall we discuss how we are to find Jarek, or what we are to do with him once he is found?”
Katreena settles into one of the high-backed, wooden chairs and gently places her meal and drink in front of her. A serious look crosses her features as she considers her words. “I believe that you already know where Liam and I stand on Jarek’s fate once he is captured. The true issue lies with how best to find and apprehend the rogue. Jamine mentioned that he may associate with a gang of sinister folk who have recently moved into town. Mine and Liam’s character and attire make us rather conspicuous in the lower class establishments of Daggerford; however, we might be able to convince the town council that this matter demands more attention than they have previously given it.” Katreena gestures to Arben with her fork. “You, Tyrick, and Panitari may find more luck in the darker areas of Daggerford.”
Arben turns to Liam. “And you Liam, have you possibly thought this out more thoroughly? Perhaps why it may not be wise to inform the town council of our actions.”
Katreena looks to Liam, silently imploring him to support her. He ponders how best to respond. Katreena quickly grows impatient, speaking before he can voice his thoughts. “We are simply bringing a criminal to justice. I imagine the town council would be pleased to learn that deviants are being removed from their village. If the town council obviously supports Jarek or these other dark figures, then they too deserve punishment.” Katreena notices that her tone has a hint of anger; she recalls a prayer to quell her growing ire.
“Well, it seems as though we’ve arrived at a difficult decision,” Liam chimes in. "Our biggest problem is that we don’t know much about Jarek or who he’s involved with. This is a fairly small town, and our ‘employer’ seemed to indicate that Jarek is a man of some power. If it turns out that the local government is corrupt and we start making our plans known, our enemies could multiply.
“On the other hand, if he is a thorn in the side of the town guard, it would be advisable to receive the guard’s blessing before we eliminate him. Aside from being our legal obligation to do so, it could save us an unsavory encounter with the law in case we are caught in the act.
“I guess my recommendation, then, is that we find out more about Jarek and his associates before we make a decision on this matter.” His opinion stated, Liam then leans back in his creaking wooden chair and anxiously awaits Arben’s and Katreena’s reactions.
Katreena’s eyes narrow as she turns her gaze on Liam. His response leaves her feeling betrayed. With practiced self-control, Katreena smothers the rage growing inside her and calmly waits for Arben’s input.
Arben takes a sip from his cider, suppressing a smile. Letting the mood hang in the air for just a moment, he finally speaks, “Liam is quite right in his suggestion. Of course there is one other matter to consider as well. If we were to get the city guard involved, our chances of reclaiming a certain item would be greatly diminished.” Arben whispers the second part, making sure not to attract the attention of any of the other patrons. “This leads us to the question of the day, then. How exactly do we watch these cloaked figures? I assume that none of us are stealthy enough to stay cloaked in the shadows, so perhaps hiding in plain sight would be our best option.”
Katreena emits an exaggerated sigh, questioning her decision to talk with Arben. Despite the rage continuing to build inside her, Katreena’s retort is surprisingly composed. “I do not believe that we should abandon the authorities so quickly. Law and justice are the tools of the righteous. We should not fear to use them.” She looks at Liam, “As devoted members of honorable faiths, it is our duty to ensure that laws are just and people are protected. If corruption has infected the leadership of this town, it is our obligation to see it destroyed.” Katreena gives Arben a wary look. “I know that you do not share my creed, but surely you can see some benefit to ensuring a lawful administration in Daggerford.” She turns her attention to both Liam and Arben. “If you fear reprisal, then I shall act alone, but my faith will not allow apathy.”
Jamine approaches suddenly, grabbing Arben’s still partially full glass. She leans in and says " it appears as if someone has taken interest in your presence in town." She nods her head towards one of the front windows. She then takes the glass and walks off, making it appear that she simply came to collect the item. Glancing towards the window you notice a cloaked figure looking in. As soon as he sees you he ducks below the window and out of sight.
“Well,” says Arben, “it appears we may not have to seek them out after all.” Turning to Katreena he plainly states, “To answer your question, no I do not see any benefit to including the law in this mattter. Either they have not interfered because they have been bought by Jarek or they merely see no threat in him. Either way they will not be happy with a group of outsiders disrupting their peace because of a bounty.” As Katreen begins to interject Arben holds up a hand to stop her. “And before you again tell me about how this is justice, being told by a man you do not know that someone is villainous does not make it so. You may convince yourself of whatever you must in order to carry out this task, but I intend to be more logical on the matter. A man is holding something that someone else is willing to pay me to take, so I will take it.”
Given his most recent comments, Katreena should be furious with Arben, but a strange tranquility descends upon her. Katreena slowly shakes her head. “Arben, your greed will be your undoing. I will not preach about justice, but I will remind you that Liam and I wish to capture Jarek alive, so that we might determine, of our own volition, whether he deserves the death you so hastily deemed appropriate. With regard to the town council, I will be informing them of Jarek and the dark figures. They deserve to know the truth, so they might reach an appropriate decision. If they are indeed being payed by some lawless individuals, then we can deal with that matter separately.”
Katreena casually stands up, giving Arben an intense stare. “Lastly, do not presume to know my motivations. Destroying the corrupt, criminals, or non-believers brings me little satisfaction. I carry out Torm’s will because He protects the innocent; He has chosen me to be a divine shield for those who cannot defend themselves.” Katreena gestures toward the exit. “We have an opportunity to learn more about Jarek or the dark figures; we should not squander this gift.”