Part 21: Interlude 6Interlude
Somewhere a bell rings, and music begins to drift through the evening. Villagers and nobles, wearing their finest clothes, emerge from the inns and taverns and homes of the village and begin to stream toward the manor house.
Urk comes running up the main drive to join her companions, who loiter just short of the manor grounds. "Cutting it close, huh?" says Deepmind with a touch of reproach.
"URK ALWAYS FASHIONABLY LATE," she retorts.
Athtar waves it off. "We were just going over the facts one last time before going in."
"Not a lot of facts." Minar crosses his arms. "The Belmonts are belligerent assholes with a claim on Dragonholt through Kyric and aren't on great terms with their neighbours, but we don't have any hard evidence that they're backing him."
"At least it seems like the Cunninghams aren't on their side," suggests Aria.
"So I doubt they'll move openly tonight," concurs Athtar. "Or at least, I doubt Leone will. Kyric might, and if he's foiled then Leone can deny all involvement. He may still be uninvolved, in fact."
Urist tries to put all of this together a few times before shrugging. "So... what exactly is our plan for the evening?"
"Same as it was this morning, I think," Deepmind admits. "We play it cool, we stay on guard for Kyric, and we jump in if he tries anything against Rochelle or Phillip. Those two are probably the big targets tonight to look out for."
Athtar frowns. "Phillip I trust to stay out of trouble, but Rochelle..." he shakes his head. "It will be up to Braxton to watch her back. At least she has a capable bodyguard to depend on."
There's a pause as everyone considers the evening ahead. Finally, Urk glances over to Aria. "IS ARIA RE-WEARING SAME DRESS FROM MARIAM'S WEDDING?"
Aria lets out an affronted gasp. "I'm like the only one who dressed up at all! You're all wearing the same travel gear you rolled into town with!"
Deepmind rolls her eyes. "Okay, I think we're about as ready as we're going to get. Just watch each other's backs in there, Kyric might know enough to target us at this point so don't go walking around alone."
Athtar nods in agreement. "Collect what information you can on the three families, and if the spirits are with us then nothing will befall the Fairfaxes tonight."
The meeting breaks up and the party begins to trudge toward the front door, but the mention of spirits causes Urk to hesitate. She takes one last moment to tune her senses, probing the dusk sky for a supernatural hint. In the distance, but getting closer, she feels the presence from her dreams - a mounting dread, sending the local spirits to flight. The sensation sends a shiver down her spine, but it's too later to do anything about it now. They're committed.
An awning has been erected outside the manor's front door, curtained off to transform the space into a foyer. A human woman in black-and-white livery wearing a black domino mask stands before the door, and she bows to the party as they approach.
Aria breezes to the front. "Aria of Nerekhall, party of six."
"Welcome," replies the servant, pulling back the curtain, and allowing the adventurers past the threshold of the masquerade.