Exalted 3E

How to Get Away With Murder

Publicly available information and “facts” for the party to remember:

*TSB’s Guild bodyguards didn’t see him leave his apartment
*TSB’s body was found in a run down house in one of the worse neighborhoods of Lookshy.
*TSB was brutalized by a blood ape at the murder scene
*TSB was also struck with an almost imperceptible sharp blow to the side of his back, which may have very well been the fatal strike. No normal physician would have detected this wound.
*Lookshy forces responded to complaints of noise and found the rampaging Blood Ape and killed it.
*Documents found in TSB’s study suggest that he was selling important military secrets, spying for the Realm against Lookshy
*TSB has a substantial collection of personal notes, many written in a difficult to decipher code, detailing his thoughts and opinions on many political players in Lookshy
*TSB was killed during the “Festival of the True Realm,” a week long celebration of Lookshy’s history and continued independence
*TSB was seen meeting with two previously unremarkable political players, a noblewoman named Narra Arai and a scarred dragonblooded soldier named Rakkan Marsalle.
*TSB was staying with House Marsalle in an apartment provided by Lookshy. Despite his bad attitude, he was generally considered an honored guest.
*House Marsalle is a constant underdog in Lookshy, a stabilizing force that is usually second-strongest in any affair. They have an unclear history and have sought to compensate with unrelenting devout patriotism.
*Kal Shem has no leads, but has counseled the circle on various political ramifications of their ongoing investigation.
*Tepet Arjen has no leads, but has been noticeably nervous and believes that someone is cracking down on any Realm-friendly forces in Lookshy.

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Notes on the Ongoing Investigation Into the Murder of Thousand Star Bargain

Upon returning to the town of Lookshy, we found ourselves greeted with a weeklong celebration of patriotism and Lookshy’s independence from Lookshy. Thousand Star Bargain was murdered at its onset.

He was found in an abode in the slums belonging to House Marsal. He had been hit over the head from behind, and beaten into a pulp by a blood ape. A closer investigation revealed an expertly applied wound administered from behind to a vital organ, most likely poisoned. Poison unknown. As of yet, no one outside of our allies is aware of this more subtle wound.

Alongside his corpse were papers revealing that Thousand Star had been actively spying for the realm. The information contained in them was sensitive. Upon closer examination they appeared to be genuine.

Upon searching his home, several items of note were revealed. First, a series of encoded messages that have yet to be deciphered, scattered throughout his library. Second, an effective bug out bag, concealed in a hidden compartment of his desk. Third, extensive notes on nearly every person Thousand Star had been in contact with. Among these notes, the entries for Varic and Lilia were irregular. Varic’s in particular appeared to be encoded.

An investigation into his dealings over the past few weeks revealed that he had been seen attempting to escape the attention of The Guild. He had also been seen consorting regularly with Nara Arai, a socialite we do not know much about. She’s been in hiding ever since his death. Next, he was seen arguing with Rakkan Marsal, who was last seen boarding a ship for the realm. It’s also come to light that Thousand Star was delivered a letter almost immediately before his demise that seemed to create a great sense of agitation within him. Due to the nature of the wounds and murder scene, it is also likely that he felt safe with whoever he was with at the time of the attack.

These are the facts of the matter as I’ve noted them. It is possible some of the details are wrong, but I’ve striven to present as clinical an overview of the events as possible. That said, here are the players as I see them.

Thousand Star Bargain – While the exact nature of his surreptitious efforts is as yet unknown, it is clear that he was far more than a simple bargain hunter and realm ambassador. Even accounting for a nominal of skulduggery. Solving his murder is of little interest to me per se; what matters is that someone is playing a dangerous game right in our backyard, and without fully understanding the context in which he worked, we have no chance of getting on even footing with these agitators.

Nightingale – It is clear that she has no love for slavers or anyone who facilitates or encourages their trade. Thousand Star would be a prime target from an ideological point of view. From what I know now, it would be hard to assume their operation would pursue such a bold move, especially when they’re very aware of our presence and interests in the area. That said, the move might make perfect sense if we had the whole picture in front of us. They remain a piece on the board.

House Marsal – A proud house of Lookshy, with unusual connections to Thousand Star. They housed and are investigating the murder of what appears very plainly to be a full blown spy for the realm. It’s embarrassing at the least and maybe suspicious to anyone less trusting. The investigation has also been less than thorough. Do they not care? Do they want to sweep it under the rug? Have they just not gotten around to it in the middle of the festival?

The Guild – They seem to have been fairly connected with Thousand Star, even before they were contracted to be his shadow guard detail. It’s possible Thousand Star may have bit off more than he could chew in their arrangement, and things went bad.

Tagus – Tagus and his crew would also consider it a small victory to remove a force for realm interests like Thousand Star.

Kal Shem – He and more broadly house Osu stand to gain considerably if Marsal ends up looking more culpable for allowing something like this to happen in their territory. Either they let a spy run wild for years, or they let a realm ambassador get murdered on their watch. If we can put a button on this, and let Osu take the credit in a way that doesn’t raise suspicion, it will be one more boon for the rising house and a signal to all that it stands for stability and justice, no matter the victim.

Ra’d Nur – I’m no friend of the realm, or slavers. But I’m also very protective of Lookshy. Considering the sensitive spot we occupy there, and indeed the city’s relatively precarious spot in the region’s power, I would not support a move this bold, that has the capacity to generate this much attention and scrutiny, especially any that might come from the realm. No matter the truth of the matter, I firmly support creating an outcome that looks to our interests. But at the moment it’s a bit more of a headache than I’d care to deal with.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Shit Stain
Time to get excited about stabbing someone in the back

Things are moving pretty quick, but thankfully we have a few moves to play. Heaven’s Second Smile has gone into hiding following the spook he received, and it’s agreed that we should attempt to cast a net.

So: first thing’s first. Joyous Disposition ONCE AGAIN does what she does she…she doesn’t even do it best. She doesn’t even really do it. Why does she keep insinuating herself into positions where she will try and marginally succeed at plying her womanly arts. I do not understand it. It must be a when you only have one hammer arm, everything looks like a nail type situation. She’s going to go back to the 7th Story spot and work her way up the prostitution ranks. The server ranks. But I repeat myself.

Meanwhile Tagus and I are looking into Kagre Mountainhead, the owner of said property. Both to figure out whether or not he has any useful information on Heaven’s Second, and whether we can assert any kind of leverage over him to get that information, either via vowing to protect him from the rampages of a paranoid god of overly theatrical assassinations, or by digging up some good dirt on him and compelling him to cooperate in this absolutely on the level investigation into crimes agains thte heavenly bureaucracy. Unfortunately Tagus was called away on some urgent business, and I had the pleasure of trying to meet Mountainhead myself.

Recalling the finest of my Lookshy Bureaucracy training, I manage to rant at length something about floating decimal points and jade investments. It barely works. I’m pencilled in for what could be considered a pity meeting for a laughable window the next day. That’s fine; once I see him I can let my amazing personality do the rest. But in the meantime I want to do something about the information disadvantage I’d have going in. I sneak into his office that night after being fairly certain everyone else has gone home.

Apparently Kagre is a hard worker because he’s still there. No matter. He seems to sleep as heavily as his name would imply. I go about investigating the office. Notebooks, ledgers, contracts, agreements…everything appears to be on the up and up. The up and up as far as small time but comfortable slimebags goes. One thing stands out, however: a red notebook belonging to Heaven’s Second, and a warning not to open it. That’s fine.

What’s not fine is the bizarre noise I hear emanating from what appears to be a small doll in the shape of a soldier, touch activated, magical, fairly loud. Who touched it? Not me. Not Mountainhead. It was none other than Haunting Porcelain Shadow herself.

I had to hand it to Heaven’s Second; he moves fast. Whether she was here for the notebook, Mountainhead’s life or some combination of both, a sense of stubbornness and professional obligation guaranteed that we would toss a few blades back and forth before anyone left the room. Kagre woke up fairly quickly in the middle of it, thanks to my shouting and the toy making some good noise. She proved that she was fast enough to be a true exigent of an assassin, but when she decided to turn tail and get out of dodge, she wasn’t fast enough to avoid an arrow aimed squarely at her back. I felt a little bad too. You always hope for a clean kill. None of this messy piece by piece, sinew by bone business. I opted to let her off with a firmly implanted warning and tended to Kagre Mountainhead and his boisterous concerns.

He gave us the notebook and a safehouse location known to be frequented by Heaven’s Second. I asked him to get somewhere safe and stay there, but he was impossibly certain that no assassin would ever strike the same target twice. Considering what a shit show heaven’s been so far, maybe he’s right. I have my doubts. He at least agreed to lodge a formal complaint. Heaven’s a slow moving beast, but the more we get it to work for us, the less we have to worry about starting a war on two fronts. I’d rather that be Heaven’s Second’s concern.

After a brief rendevous, a plan is set in motion to let the agents of heaven raid the safehouse while we watch from the sidelines to catch any rabbits that try to scurry away from the thrasher. Amazingly, our presence was not required. The raid manages to grab both Haunting Porcelain and another exigent in the service of Heaven’s Second. The rest of the party is cynical about them staying out of the picture for long, but I’m cynical in a more optimistic way; whatever levers Heaven’s Second has to manipulate probably wont work fast enough to do him any good before we’re through with him. Heaven being extremely slow to act should work both ways; if they’re slow to help us they should be slow to help him. That’s the hope anyway.

Now he’s down two exigents, the agents of Heaven are more aware of his misdeeds, and he’s retreated even further into hiding. It’s a good start, but we should probably press the advantage a little more. We still need to figure out how deep this corruption goes. With any luck, a mysterious set of maps we picked up from the safehouse, that matches with a set of maps Joyous managed to spy on the top floor of the 7th story heaven tavern…place, will guide our way.

Oh yeah, Joyous didn’t really have to fuck anyone. I think. Bodacious success story all around.

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Thank Heaven for Second Smile's lack of eleven
#Heaven #dickholes #bigjumps

So we decided to follow up on Shae’s lead, having Ra’d Nur impersonate Haunting Porcelain Shadow and arrange for a meeting to try to broker a truce. It didn’t go so hot because of course it didn’t- Ra’d isn’t a spy, and Shae isn’t good at anything at all.

He did get feisty though, so we came to the conclusion that he was in on… something. He waxed poetic about… chaos? I’m not sure, I only heard it second hand.

Anyways, we ran from the scene of the confrontation and made a new plan… and now I’m disguised, operating as a working girl in this shitty, heavenly brothel…

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Oh Shit Things are Different Now
Ignis Lampyris's day off

The plan went off with nary a hitch- and the hitches made it better, to be honest. Thanks to some world class improvisation from Ra’d Nur and the natural tendency of the enemies of creation to be in it only for themselves.

Taygus and I perpetrated the beginning of the plan flawlessly, but when we got to the Physician’s operating space with Ignis feigning a state of near death, the Physician didn’t buy it.
Luckily, it didn’t matter- he was more than willing to make some bargains, trading some of his information for Ignis’s supply of Dead Eye Shining’s opus, the red fluid which animated the paper-skinned men of Rathess.

I hope that doesn’t come back to bite us..

Regardless, whilst this was going on, the Princess of Forgotten Kingdoms arrived, sending the place into a tizzy. Ra’d Nur used the confusion of her imminent arrival to don the visage of the Physician and order his servant Oaktooth to move his most prized notes and possessions to a secure location.

That was extremely not secure. From his perspective. We considered it very secure.

Returning to Lookshy, Ignis was able to implement the cure in exchange for spectacular consideration with House Osu, and began the process of propitiating the cure to all of the east, and to the cities of the north that face the Bull of the North.

We then all agreed on some downtime…

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Puppeteer's Disease? More like Puppethere's disease
Joyous Disposition gets entirely too much spotlight, makes a good plan

We finished our conversation with the Hyena lady. She was posturing so hard, it was like Lyra never left.
After a fusillade of bullshit threats and claims from both sides, she “allowed” us to be on our merry way, but not before getting a lot of digs at us for being stupid for getting in with grandmother bright.

I like Grandmother Bright.

After delivering our shipment of Chiaroscuro Glass to Gem, Ignis, Taygus and Ra’d Nur and I sat down to plot our next move. Opinions flew left and right, but Ignis was loudest, all but demanding we stop everything and see her friend Agrona, Great Forks’s goddess of spiteful crafting.

Agrona was largely helpful- not in small part because she more or less considers Ignis her high priestess. She did mostly put to bed the notion that the chalice(which we presume to carry either my spite or my capacity for spite) was dangerous to carry around- Ignis never really came up with a reason it was safe to carry hers around inside her, now that we’re on the subject.

She waxed poetic about what she does and called me broken. I think Ra’d Nur found her a little patronizing when he asked for a weapon to take out Voice of Discord.

In the end, I decided to trust in Ignis’s friends and left the chalice with Agrona rather than take it with us on our next outing.


Ignis has a plan to create a geographic immunity to Puppeteer’s disease.
Puppeteer’s disease is mostly dangerous to people with limited supplies and discipline- an outbreak in Lookshy, even a lookshy under siege, would be contained quickly. Still, it’s a psychological weapon of immense power, and sure to embolden the Despot of Thorn’s many enemies. Ignis’s cure would be a white gloved slap across Mask of Winter’s face- the first meaningful answer in the east to any portion of his power, even if it doesn’t actually diminish his power very much.
There’s just one thing. The cure or ward would be greatly enhanced, or the chance of it failing reduced, if he had access to very high quality notes on the subject.

So we’re going to Thorns.

Some douchebag named the seven degreed physician of seven maladies or something like that is what Ignis considers to be the second best source of information after Mask of Winters’s personal library, so we (I) have concocted a scheme to garner his notes and more.


Joyous Disposition’s… 4? 6? 13? depends on whether you count the pets

-
1: inflict Ignis with Puppeteer’s disease, and make it look bad.
2: sneak into Thorns.
3: Reach the Seven… the Physician, and tell him we (Taygus and I) have an offer to make him.

If( the physician is a coward and brings everyone in) then
enjoy our stay, the plan doesn’t change very much
Else
The Physician takes the bait.
end if
He’ll want to examine Ignis. Hopefully he’ll bring his paperwork and notes.
Meanwhile, Ra’d Nur will procure a fresh skeleton, loan his wicked shadow belt to Ignis, and then infiltrate the Physician’s workplace, procuring everything puppeteer’s disease adjacent from his study. If he leaves them behind, hopefully he will at least have given them a glance, making them easier for Ra’d Nur to pick out.

After we encounter the physician and some sort of cure or not is administered to Ignis, when the Physician leaves the room, Ignis will disappear with the Shadow belt, I will smash the skeleton, and tell the physician that I have eaten her body with Hantha’s charm.

He will probably be pissed but respect the move. He’d wish he could do that.

After that we just have to exfiltrate. Hopefully as faceless unremarkable migrants, but maybe steaming out on a Stormwind Rider. We’ll have to play that part by ear.

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Ardent Bulwark's Trap Disarming Technique
As subtle as those magnificent pecs

Ra’d Nur and I made contact with Grandmother Bright, warden, stateswoman and examplar of the Plaza, an upscale 1st age community within Chiaroscuro, in Creation’s south- seeking a “Gem”, based on the cryptic advice offered to me by the Weaver.
Ultimately this lead us to Aza the tower and Onyx, and some things happened.

It also let me put a spy in the plaza.

My Gethin, Redford, stood by the window in Aza the Tower’s home and watched the comings and goings of the people in the plaza. A bit of conspicuously conspicuous behavior by a robed figure across it lead us to the home of one of the Plaza’s residents.

Big mistake.

The entire thing was a setup by Voice of Discord, that little asshole

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Ra'd's Private To Do List

Things to do

  • Escort a trade caravan carrying premium glass
  • Do something about shadow monsters from another dimension eternally seeking our demise??
  • Do something about the death lord with the power to compel gods to do her bidding
  • Rescue Shea from a grand criminal conspiracy in heaven
  • Clear entire party of murder in gated community city
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6 to go

One of seven
I’ve received my first target, the grand standing loud mouthed showboat that is Magra Osu. It’s a pity, he seems like a likeable guy. As I dawn the sweaty soldier’s uniform I pause for a moment to consider what kind of fate would meet me if I went back on my deal with Jade. Shuddering to think what the ironic side of a suplex coin would look like, I tie the cuffs of my shirt and hide my shining magnificence from the world.
Gazing at my reflection for the last time until my Job is done, I scoop up my helmet and head off to “training”.

Unbeknownst to Magra I’ve spread some information that today he’d be giving a demonstration to the Nobles of Lookshy, he’s known for his tough and efficient training regimen and with all that talk I think the city should have a chance to see what is actually protecting them. On my way through the Bazaar I hear the people chatting, must be a slow day for everyone because talks of a “Splendid demonstration of Lookshy’s might” are all I’m hearing about. A small stop off for some wine and I’m headed off to the fields with several skins tied to my belt.

Jade was right in her description, Magra’s small army is about 500 soldiers deep. Disciplined and strong they stand in the burning heat just outside the city, time to make some friends. I make my way through the ranks and position myself in a group of the soldiers with the cleanest armor, they must be new.

“Wow, it sure is hot out here, good thing I brought so much to drink!” I exclaim opening the first wine flask, “Helps with the nerves too!” I was right, this group hasn’t ever been under this kind of pressure before. I pass around the remaining skins and attempt to liven the mood.

Drums start playing in the distance, the marching cadence has started. I look around and see Magra standing at the head of the ranks, exactly where he is expected to be. Slowly the men and women around me start their march. One-Two-Three-Four, left-right-left-right. Splendid, this is some of the best marching I’ve seen in a long time, I almost feel bad for what I’m about to do.

I slowly start banging on my shield out of tempo, One-TwoTHREE-fourFIVE, my steps become increasingly late, Left-Rightright-left. The cadence begins to break down around me, I deliver a sharp elbow to the soldier behind me and scoop the foot of the soldier behind me. It only takes a minute, the drunken soldiers around me begin to lose track of where they should be standing in line and start to panic.
Before Magra notices there is total chaos in the ranks. I can see the unimpressed and concerned looks of the nobles in the ramparts. I begin to make my friends in to my enemies, taking swings and yelling insults. I’ve just about surrounded myself in a pile of concussed drunken soldiers when Magra arrives.
Predictably I’ve been singled out and am to be made an example of, unfortunately I’m too drunk and incoherent for Magra to yell at as I am dragged to the front of the troops, in perfect view of the ramparts.

I tuned out what ever self-serving speech he decided to give before assuming his battle stance, using a combination of fancy footwork and acting I managed to drunkenly avoid every predictable swing from Magra, and next thing he knew I was upon him. I stumbled to my knees and grabbed him around the waist, in an unbelievable regret only the voice of a blubbering drunk can convey I sob, “Jade Osu sends her regards”.

Ass over tail feather we go, and Magra Osu lays sprawled out in the Lookshy dirt. Maybe I over did it, he’s not seriously hurt but he might not wake up until dinner. Hundreds of soldiers are now closing in upon me, I rush in to the crowd and the resulting bedlam is more than enough to allow me to slip off in to the ranks and eventually back in to the walls of the city.
Six more to go…

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Ra'd and the Regent
Tags: Serious, Original Character, TL:DR Fuel

A local Regent had angered Cynis. Enough to warrant my intervention. Not enough to warrant my direct intervention. Apparently they wanted something a bit more subtle. I was told to be flexible in my execution. Fair enough. Not a soul existed in creation that didn’t trudge through the mud and dirty their feet.

I arrived at the town on a quiet, non-particular day and made my to the inn. Paid for a month’s stay in advance. Set up my desk. Got to work.

Hang around old spymasters enough, manage to loosen their tongues a bit, they’ll be quick to brag about how boring their job is. It’s a funny thing to brag about. They are right though. My first several days are spent listening to, waiting for, and spending good coin on nothing.

Eventually, a name falls into my lap. One belonging to former advisor Yin Medas. The formerly alive, dead for two years, family dispossessed and scattered Yin Medas. I plucked the thread; delicate, fragile, but leading to something.

It was clear after a brief round of questioning that it was a sensitive matter to the Regent. To have his associates tell it, he and Medas had been good friends at one point. Which is why it came as such a shock to the uppercrust when it came out that Medas had plotted with foreign conspirators to corrupt the city and drive the Regent out, all on the cusp of a city wide reinvigoration effort.

Apparently, the city had received an infusion of currency from the local powers that be, in order to upgrade the roads, aqueducts, bridges, municipal buildings, and modernize a local quarry that had recently become strategically important due to shifting regional needs. And lots of parties wanted a slice of that pie.

I tugged on the thread a little more. Word had it Medas had come to the regent earlier at one point and sought to divert the incoming funds to certain guild contacts that would guarantee the usual assortment of kickbacks and favors, at the price of shoddy workmanship and inflated wages. A bargain was struck, and work began. Everything was going swell for them when the regent suddenly developed a conscience. Or maybe he wanted a bigger piece and his play for it fell apart. I wondered what changed? They’d known each other for decades. I suppose Medas made a miscalculation in who he could trust somewhere along the way.

But the regent made a miscalculation of his own. When he tried to have Medas sanctioned via official means, he found all the usual channels glacial, and the populace disinterested. No other official seemed motivated to act, and the people apparently expected their leaders to be financially corrupt. The regent wasn’t exactly forthcoming with his complicity either, which made it challenging for him to make a full throated accusation as well. The two of them apparently met several more times in the following weeks, ending with the regent making a dramatic exit from the Medas house, choked with rage, lips flecked with spittle.

Things moved quickly after that. The regent threw away all pretexts of subtlety and appealed to the peasantry, whipping them into a frenzy. He threw everything he had at Medas, every problem the city faced, every fear the citizen’s had, every bigotry he could appeal to. As a leader, it was irresponsible. It was also effective. Things rapidly became so chaotic that Medas’ co-conspirators had no choice but to offer him up as a scapegoat. Considering the circumstances, I suppose plotting with foreign powers wasn’t the most inappropriate charge to kill the man for. His family name arguably had it worse. The public’s rage was quelled. The funds headed to the city were temporarily halted pending an exhaustingly slow investigation into the affair. The guild’s influence faded back into the shadows.

It took a lot of interviewing, and some interrogating, but I’d managed to put all the pieces together. I’m not sure why I was surprised no one much cared to hear that Medas, while a bastard, had been wrongfully charged, that the regent had lied, and the general populace all been made fools of for some nobles’ political games. It took me a few years to realize. No one wants to admit they’ve been had. Especially not to a stranger. The other officials were all laying low. I would have to tug on a different string.

I decided to take a page from the regent. A bridge had collapsed recently, crushing a group of children that had been playing in the stream below, as well as injuring a local merchant that had been carrying his goods across it. He was a sight. More importantly, he was willing to listen about the regent’s temporarily willing hand in the entire affair. In fact, he was downright pliable. Meanwhile the people were already good and angry in general, but lacked direction.

I introduced the merchant to some third parties interested in seeing him get justice for his suffering. I passed around some more coin. Suddenly other officials were feeling up to officiating again. Word began to spread of a malignant tumor at the heart of the city. Rumors of killings passed off as accidents, state sanctioned guild sabotages, and foreign interests swirled around the regent. So did any scary story I could think to spin off in the taverns. Did you hear that something called puppeteer’s disease is running amok all up and down the Realm? Yeah, it seems like Thorns is on the move. Make sure you look to your family.

The town was absolutely on edge. Even worse, a poor rainy season had seen that their grain harvest for the season was well under par. And that silo didn’t look too sturdy. In fact, just a few alterations would make it critically unstable and likely to fall over during the first serious storm to hit it.

Which made it a particularly dramatic night when just that happened. Torches flaring in and out in the wind and rain. Grain spoiling in the mud and grass. The people once again out of control, and the regent finding himself without many allies as the people looked to extract vengeance on the first authority they could get their hands on. It doesn’t pay to be an interested third party in the middle of a riot, so I chose to make my exit then. I was able to catch a brief glimpse of the regent trying and failing to calm to the masses on my way out. I wondered if he was able to appreciate the circumstances of it all.

Some time later, I had heard that the merchant had been widely praised for his part in bringing the corrupt regime to justice. He was even going to be given some official position to help the citizens heal during their traumatic times. Guild chatter from the area increased. My handler, whatever his masters stake in the affairs were, seemed pleased. As pleased as he ever got, anyway.

As for me, creator strike me down if I ever get involved in politics. It’s a bad joke. I should know. I’ve told enough of them.

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