Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Mal and Hanos meet up with Xax and the girls (Celia, Azura, and Zyn) in the streets on the way back to the ship. Storm clouds (possibly druid conjured) collect over the Sandro Bay.

Zyn calls a muster in the cargo bay. Xax suggests going after the elven priestess/terrorist who tried to blow up the church, while Zyn suggests attempting to pass the possible “inspection” by hiding everyone that Nevarus might know, then having Sophie make up and dress Zyn to act as a merchant noble. Everyone else hides (Xax takes the form an anchor). Sophie does her job well; Zyn is unrecognizable as her former self. With druids inspecting the ships in the bay, the Last Born have the option of fighting, running, or dying… or perhaps bluffing. Worse case scenario is only a few get caught and the rest get away; best case is to slip in as allies and avert any future threats as “already checked out.”

The twins watch for the inspections. There are guards in the street from the cultivars watching the bay street and curbing traffic to and from the ships. Inspection groups consisting of a cowled druid, two priestesses, and four guards move between ships. When the inspectors come on board, Zyn welcomes them and identifies the ship “The Adeena.” The inspection goes cleanly, although one of the priestesses recognizes Sophie as the cool-headed priestess at the failed attempt to burn down the temple during the dedication. Xax detects a considerable telepathically-linked psionic item on the druid. When the rest are sent away, Nevarus reveals himself and praises Sophie for her quick thinking, inviting both her and the disguised Zyn to a proper reception at a dinner with the king and queen of Hyetal. Sophie catches a Nevarus casting a lustful eye at Zyn on his way out the door.

It’s decided that Xax can transform into an ornate box (how does he DO that?!) to offer the royal family a few gemstones as a humble gift. Sophie and Zyn (calling herself Nyree) enlist Hanos to be their third; Hanos takes the name “Osteelle Bingles” (which becomes the source of amusement aplenty.) As it takes the ship over an hour to skirt around the Isle Syree to the royal port, Zyn points out Mount Dree and the monastery fortress there, sealed away as part of a deal to keep it from being destroyed during the elven occupation. It is located on the east coast.

The outer edges of Port Syree are armed against shipping traffic, protecting a circular bay. Directly across the bay is a series of wide, step pyramids making up the palace complex. Other non-worships are also docked, presumably pleasure craft or other guests. Inside the disguised smalljammer, Mal is at the ready with Celia to take him in, just in case. An elf and two servicers lead the party of Sophie, Zyn, and Hanos to the dinner table. Nevarus welcomes them all and seats everyone on his side opposite the king and queen. The head of the table is empty; the magistrate prime has taken ill and might not be joining them. Hanos presents “Lord Druid” Nevarus with the gift for the royals; he deems it appropriate and accepts it.

Nevarus introduces the crew to King Nidal and Queen Kiho, then asks Nyree to introduce “Mr. Bingles.” Hanos notes that twelve guards and six servants of mixed breed attend the meal, plus all of the original tapestries have been taken down except for one elven piece of artwork hanging behind the magistrate’s seat. Nevarus discusses the tapestry with Hanos (and other art) through the first course, suggesting a tour of the Hyetalian antiquities at the palace after dinner. The salad course entertains the finer points of elven education and expanding such ideas to all of Hyetal, while during the third course of some chicken-like entree, Nevarus mentions that he could help Sophie rise in ranks in the priesthood due to her quick thinking.

Unexpectedly, the prime magistrate makes an appearance. Following the king and queen’s cue, the Last Born at the table rise in honor of the arrival. As Nevarus graciously seats him, even beneath his cowled appearance, Sophie recognizes her father, Corelleon Fenn, looking far older than he should. The magistrate takes the hand of the priestess who thoughtlessly saved so many, then winks covertly at his daughter before making a hasty exit.

At dessert time, the queen declines while all others eat. Afterward, Nevarus practically orders the king and queen back to their chambers (under guard) with their gift box, then allows the ladies to go to their rooms to freshen up while asking Hanos (as Mr. Bingles) to view the antiquities with him as suggested earlier.

In the royal chambers, Xax takes a risk and mindlinks with the royal couple. While the king seems to feel there is an assassin in the room, Xax convinces them he is there to help them. They reluctantly agree as Xax reveals the deception of infiltrating the palace; the royal couple fear for their people if they should could come up missing but also know this is a rare opportunity.

Meanwhile, Hanos tours the mostly empty trophy room of the palace with Nevarus. They discuss how humans are dying out like old colleagues and agree that too many have no appreciation for longer-lived races with more time afforded to them, seeking to destroy it rather than marvel at it. Just then, Xax sends Hanos all of his info regarding the king and queen. As Hanos finishes his talk with Nevarus, Nevarus departs to elsewhere and Hanos is escorted back to the guest rooms.

Prime goes to speak with Sophie while in communications with Xax. With her father beside himself over his daughter being there so close to the danger, Sophie goes for broke and essentially confesses everything to the magistrate prime. When Sophie mentions her captain, Zyn, by name, the magistrate prime makes his own confession: Zyn is Sophie’s younger half-sister, not to mention himself likely under a curse from Maidyn herself for cheating on Sophie’s mother. When the suggestion is made as to take the magistrate prime with them, it is agreed. But what of Nevarus?

An explosion destroys one of the ships in the northeast part of the bay. Xax dominates guards and gathers the dignitaries; the royal family and the magistrate prime all follow the Last Born out of the palace and to the Nia. Not satisfied with the distraction alone, Hanos goes after Nevarus, whom he discovers is the one (secretly?!) setting off the explosions. Nevarus does nothing to protect himself, only continuing to destroy the ships for the distraction and once asking what Hanos was still doing there. Hanos holds his attack until Navarus leaves, then returns to the ship, unsure if he’s done the right thing by not destroying the lord druid when he had the chance.

Under the cover of an illusionary explosion beneath a starry night sky, the Nia sinks into the bay, seals itself closed, and slips into the seas north of the bay undetected…

CONTINUE READING WITH “Hanos Shot First”

Session XP: 2050 per player

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About Kevin A. Ranson

Content Creator, Horror Writer, Film Critic. Heeding a macabre calling listening to "Mother Ghost Nursery Rhymes" in kindergarten, Kevin started writing in grade school and filled countless notebooks with story ideas while touring the Mediterranean in the US Navy. He is the author of The Spooky Chronicles and the vampire thriller series The Matriarch, creator/critic for MovieCrypt.com and "ghost writer" for horror host Grim D. Reaper. WEBFACEBOOKTWITTER
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