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Orlesian Murder Mystery

Manzai October 4, 2011 User blog:Manzai

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Boss Costard,

I have received your letter. If you know the Comté Marfort still lives, then I can only assume you also know that Taran and Harlow are no longer with me. Whether they live or not, I cannot say. I know I may well face death for our failure in Orlais, but if my choice is to be between that and completing the assignment, I tell you now: I would die before stepping foot in Marfort’s estate again. For the good of the Coterie, you must know what we encountered there.

Our initial plan was Taran’s design. We would bribe a few disgruntled kitchen servants to take the night off and leave their clothes with us. This was a fairly easy matter, as servants in Orlais are given about as much consideration as a Darktowner with chokedamp sickness. From there, it would be simple enough to do away with Marfort the old-fashioned way. We waited until the middle of the night, when the servants’ activity would be at its least. We carefully stole through the hallways of the estate, to the upper floors where the bedrooms should be.

We were forced to check several rooms, not knowing which housed the comté himself, but finally we found it. I picked the lock. Taran and Harlow entered a moment before I did. We had indeed found the master bedroom, but the comté was nowhere to be seen. Only a woman and a small boy, maybe eight or nine years old, met us in the room. The woman had raven hair and strangely captivating yellow eyes. Rather than the typical silk finery of Orlais, she wore a kind of motley outfit—a burgundy sort of cowl-like thing and a black skirt cobbled together from strips of leather. She was… eerily beautiful. The boy at her said had features similar to hers. He had the same black hair but his eyes were hazel. His skin seemed slightly darker. The boy was dressed in the typical fashion for Orlesians his age, breeches and a fine red silk shirt.

The woman addressed us. I could not place her origins, but her accent was not Orlesian. She might have been Fereldan, or maybe even a Marcher. “So,” she said dismissively, “more nameless assassins, come to perpetuate that Grande Game of yours I suppose.” She regarded us. “But you’re not bards, are you? Pray tell, where indeed do you hail from? I should like to know how far the stench of Marfort’s deeds has reached.” Costard, you know Taran was a loyal brother of the Coterie. He would never reveal details of a mission willingly. But I swear on Andraste’s ashes that everything I am about to relate is the Maker’s own truth.

The woman frowned and turned to the boy at her side. “My son,” she said, “these men do not yet see your greatness. We can help them. Ask them to talk to me, please.” The boy said nothing, simply looked in Taran’s direction, and suddenly light shone from Taran’s eyes. He spoke as though he were addressing a great lord, all the details of the assignment pouring from his mouth.

“So that fool has managed to make enemies as far away as the Free Marches,” the woman said. She seemed to consider something for a moment. I was dumbstruck, cowed by my fear at what had been done to Taran. Harlow was closer to her, and in his panic he tried to cast a spell, drawing his knife and cutting himself across his forearm. Before he even completed the cut, the child looked at him and Harlow’s eyes began to glow too. I watched as he began cutting deeper and deeper, sawing at it. I watched, frozen with horror, as it hit the floor and blood cascaded from the wound. With barely a look, this child had compelled an experienced bloodmage to cut his own hand off!

The woman looked vaguely annoyed. “Let us enlighten them, dearest,” she told the boy. Again, that song came, at first on the edge of hearing. I could see the boy, and his mouth was not open, but still I heard a whisper of music inside my head. Harlow and Taran began to levitate, as though invisible hands were hoisting them by the fronts of their shirts. Their eyes began to glow as though the Fade itself were shining out of them, and could see vaporous forms streaming out of their bodies towards the child. The voice was still only a whisper within my head. While I still could, I fled the room. I leapt from a balcony, no longer caring who I might wake up. My only thought was to flee. Despite my efforts, I found myself frozen as well, caught in a paralyzing spell. I heard footsteps behind me as the woman descended the stairs and approached. She stopped before me, facing me. “Marfort is a fool and an ass,” she said to me, “but I will need his wealth and connections to prepare the world for the change that is coming. I have never dealt with this Coterie before. To prevent further trouble, I believe it behooves me to send them a message. You may return to Kirkwall to relay this message. Tell them what you have seen here, and advise them to stay away from Comté Marfort.” The spell wore off. “Leave the estate immediately. Do not return,” she said, turning away.

What else could I do? I obeyed. I left the estate, booked a ship, and didn’t look back until I was halfway to Cumberland. I have returned to my home in Lowtown. Send men if you will. A simple death at the edge of a blade frightens me far less than the wretched fate that befell Harlow and Taran. But kill me or not, I remain loyal to the Coterie. I have returned to relay this woman’s message and implore you and the other bosses to do as she says. If we continue to pursue Marfort this woman and her child will take more of our number.

Harlow was a bloodmage; that child is something else. Something worse. He has greater power than any bloodmage or abomination I’ve ever heard of. If only words could express the terrible power I felt while his song was in my head! A simple thieves guild is not equipped to deal with power like this. I doubt even the Knight-Commander is. Please, Costard, you must give up this contract!

--Dermot, Thief in Law of the Coterie

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