Part 36: Act Two Chapter Two - Squiring The Circle
We've been accused of murdering an entire village and are soon to be extradicted to Luskan for a sham trial and summary execution.
It's a sticky wicket and no mistake. Luckily, our boss Axle is on the case. He's figured out a way to get us off on a legal technicality.
: I heard about your troubles with Luskan. I have someone you should meet that can help you... or at least buy you some time.
: This is Sir Edmund, one of Nasher's... favored knights. He can help you become as "favored" as he.
: So if I was made a knight, with my list of crimes, why not the same for a slaughterer of helpless villagers?
This is Sir Edmund. He's our technicality.
Sir Edmund's a cynical, disreputable rogue who owes a few debts to the Shadow Thieves - that's why he's here, after all.
: In battle, the man who cleaves your head from your shoulders won't care about your honor, so leave your pretty stories of chivalry and goodness behind.
: Fight and live. Survivors make their own honor, tell their own tales.
: What do I need to know to become your squire?
I like Edmund, he's pretty chill. He's a lot more interesting than the guy who takes us on in the City Watch questline. Sir Grayson's even more straight-laced and tiresome (read: boring) than Casavir, but without Casavir's note of lonely melancholy.
: Pfeh. Show me a man who knows no fear, and I will show you a fool whose days in this world are numbered.
Edmund's gonna do this the whole way through. Grayson just repeats it to you as-is, but Edmund adds his own commentary which has a damn sight more merit than the code itself.
: That's nonsense, too. The only justice you'll find is at the point of a sword. Your noble lord wants only to know that you have followed his commands, and could care less about your methods.
Sir Edmund channeling the spirit of a famous Chinese communist there.
: Should you obey the lord who asks you to put a village of innocents to the torch? Is that chivalrous? Is it noble?
: Anyway, we're not quite done with the code yet.
: You may safely ignore that vow, as well. Show respect to your enemies when they are dead, and never forget that your brothers can easily turn against you.
It'd be pretty easy for Edmund to be a caricature - as Grayson is Lawful Boring, so Edmund could be Chaotic Stupid: a money-grubbing cheat, liar and thief.
: We are all weak, and everything can defend itself. Remember that, and you might live to receive your spurs from Lord Nasher.
But he's not. He's just thinks people take honour and codes too seriously - or worse, profess to follow them but in fact are worse swindlers than he is. At least Edmund is honest with himself.
It's weird - it's almost as though he has a personality and individual reactions to things, instead of following some kind of obtuse philosophical matrix of incoherent abstract concepts!
: Now there are still some... proprieties we must observe.
: Or perhaps you'd like to speak with your god. No doubt you will be granted an audience for such an auspicious occasion.
: Tell me when you are ready to undertake your vigil, I will take you there.
* * *
Remember these two? Calliope's not the only one with enemies.
: Have you brought what I asked?
Hmm, that's not creepy in the slightest.
: But I shall also need a drop of blood from you to power this ritual.
: My blood... why?
: Very well...
: ...but this stinks of necromancy.
: Nothing of the sort. Necromancy is so... obvious, no subtlety.
: A reflection if you will... drawing from the same fire, the same blood.
: I think she will find this animus elemental more than a match for her.
A word of warning: we may never see the next part of this subplot. In all my previous playthroughs, I've never gotten the animus elemental encounters to trigger.
But you can probably figure it all out from here anyway.
* * *
: It's a good story!
: I waited a good half hour after he left, then picked up my sword and found a nice farm... with a requisite maid... on the outskirts of the city.
: Her name was Bella. It was a beautiful night... well, before her father caught us and chased me off.
: A good thing too, or I would have been absent when Oliman returned.
It's funny how much effort went into the Edmund/Grayson characters, considering we won't see them ever again, at all, after this update.
Seriously. They exist to make us into squires, then disappear forever. To be fair, stuff is going to happen that makes our squireship redundant.
* * *
No, no, no! Trouble follows you around, Shandra!
You know who Sir Edmund reminds me of?
Less devious, perhaps, but the resemblance (in name, looks, character) is uncanny. I'm fairly certain it's not a coincidence.
: Well, I'm glad you offered, because I wasn't leaving anyway. But I like that you didn't put up much of a fight.
: Plus, I wanted to see if any of the Gods would want to inflict further punishment on you.
I won't say I told you so, Shandra, but...
We have a choice of one-liners to toss off dramatically...
...but a fight is inevitable.
Shandra takes punches while Calliope attacks from behind. The assassins almost finish her, but in the end we're just too quick for them.
Shandra probably wouldn't have taken quite such a beating if I hadn't forgotten that she doesn't have the feats to dual-wield swords yet. Oops.
Lesson #1: Looting the dead is what being an adventurer is all about.
: All right, all right...
: Or daggers.
: Could be, I suppose. It's hard to tell with all the blood.
: Here, you take the ring, I don't want to hold on to it.
Like I said earlier, it's very easy to gain Influence with Shandra - simply being appreciative is enough. There aren't any double-blinds or tricks to her, and you'll never miss an Influence opportunity because she's always in the party... which is a load off my mind.
: Sure... actually, in some ways, it was kind of fun.
: Good luck, and hopefully when we see each other again, you'll be Neverwinter's newest squire.
* * *
Edmund returns, and not a moment too soon.
: Mm. I see Luskan's hand in this. Not Torio, though - too sloppy for her. One of her dogs, perhaps.
: They thought to catch you at your weakest moment, and they won't give up. Watch yourself.
You know, I seem to recall someone with the Luskans talking about a "Circle of Blades"...
All right, we made it, we're a success! Squire's the lowest rank of nobility there is, but we made it all the same!
: You'll forgive me if I don't exactly sound thrilled for your "accomplishment." But as much as you'll hear otherwise around Blacklake, I know of no title or cause that makes a man noble.
: And if that lot is noble, then I'm the High Abbot of Tyr.
* * *
A gathering in the throne room of Castle Never. Torio's down at the bottom there.
: And what brings you here? It must be a matter of some urgency.
: I understand that this woman has been accused of a crime, and is to be turned over to Luskan for justice.
: You have heard correctly. What concern is it of yours?
Here it is: the technicality. I hope this sticks.
Torio butts in, spluttering objections.
And Nasher puts her in her place. Sort of.
: I only hear the words of a man shielding a murderer.
We can be as brazen as we like, and Torio can't touch us. Sweet aristocratic immunity!
: And not a moment too soon. I am sure we all see the... convenience in this.
: Then it is true. That means this squire will be tried here, ambassador... not within Luskan's walls.
And she storms off for the second time in two updates.
: But this has bought only a little more time, time we cannot afford to waste. We must find the truth of what happened at Ember, and quickly.
: But you cannot do so here. You have my leave to depart Neverwinter, provide you give your word to return for the trial.
It's tempting just to run off - to Waterdeep, maybe, or around Luskan to the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale. But we still need to get into Ammon Jerro's Haven, and Aldanon's our best bet as to finding its location.
Also, we've only just got our foot in the door in the Neverwinter nobility. Once this Ember business is sorted, the only way for us is up!
And there's something about the King of Shadows some great terrible evil blah blah blah.
: You are to be congratulated on joining the service of Neverwinter and its knights. Serve Neverwinter, and it will serve you.
: For now, go to Port Llast - it should be marked upon your map. Once there, see about visiting Ember as well.