Part of the Rise of Larket Arc
Summary: Macon returns to Larket to address the mob at Lucy's Crossing that bays for Kelovath's blood. Macon accuses Kelovath of wrongfully framing him in the murder of Andurla, and while Macon cannot provide hard evidence against Kelovath for that murder, he does have evidence to link Kelovath to another crime: the attack on the fort that unleashed a new plague and left guards and a civilian dead. Macon reveals a locked chest which he claims he saw Kelovath hide in thr Chapel of Cyris. "Laedavere", a local priest of Cyris, backs Macon's testimony. Macon then points to the key Kelovath wears on a chain around his neck (a gift from Josleen). The magic key breaks the enchanted lock and inside the chest is a jar of disease! Could it be the very same found in the fort? Local naga Muzo is on the case. The mob, enraged by Macon's rage axe, turns on Kelovath, throws rocks, and chases him from the square.
Later that night, the corpse of Laedavere is found in the chapel. All signs point to Kelovath as the likely murder. Kelovath can soon expect to find himself behind bars.
Hisk-Spittle/Laedavere NPC'd by Gilwen.
A number of Larketians have gathered around the intersection near the southern exit in hopes of catching Kelovath on his way in or out of the city, or maybe just to vent about what the Golden Paladin has been seen doing around these parts lately. Armored Larket Guards sprinkle the crowd, a small percentage of the full force she has to offer, but enough to show some dissent in the ranks, it is one of their own that he is implicated in the slaying of after all. The rumble that those assembled produces is loud and, on top of the anger directed towards the Paladin, is filled with useless suggestions like “We should lock our doors!” and “We should dig a moat!” and even “We should take Larket and push it somewhere else!” but maybe you misheard that last one. Poor Mary at her stall doesn’t seem like she has much of a chance at selling any of her wares today with this crew either absorbing or scareing her customers away.
Macon has taken this opportunity (that he created) to make his return to Larket. He is starting to look the part of a man tossed unceremoniously out of his home. A light brown beard has grown thick and coarse and on occasion seems to irritate the former sheriff. Armor has been shed in favor of a plain dark shirt and pants and he’s wisely chosen to leave that signature axe of his someplace rather than have to explain carrying around a weapon disturbingly similar to the one Kelovath is accused of going on his killing spree with. The exiled councilman has brought a simple broadsword however that hangs at his side and the Rage Stone that had been used to control the mad fermin is concealed somewhere on his person. As the aspiring Death Knight moves through the crowd the strange artifact’s ambient aura adds fuel to the fury of those gathered.
More rumors twist their way through the crowd, some, if they are true, come as news to Macon as he heads towards the large tree at the center of the intersection, “I heard he is here, hiding in the city.”
“He’s brought a witch into Larket with him.” “He’s faking an injury or something.” “Is that Macon?!”
On cue the traitor steps out of the mass of bodies and onto a surface breaking root of the centerpiece tree, placing himself slightly above the rest of them, hands raised at his sides in hopes that the mob will hear him out. “Murderer!” The call comes from a single voice deep in the crowd and silences the rumble of the others.
“Yes.” Macon admits, his voice strong and loud enough for them to hear him in the back row. “That is the lie Kelovath has told you so that he could have me chased from Larket, my home, and assume my place on The Council!” There is a suspicious murmur that spreads through the mob. Given the reason they are here they are just about ready to believe that strong accusation the Death Knight has just made. “Now he has shown his true colors! Killed one of your brothers…” his hands fall from their defensive positioning while he nods to one of the guards in the crowd, “And brought a new plague into our city!” Macon closes his left hand into a fist, “He believes Larket is weak! After -years- he has returned just in time to fight off the Fermin attacking the city? No.” he answers with a shake of his head. “The -Paladin-...” venom drips from that word as it eeks out of the former sheriff’s mouth, “Has manufactured this kingdom’s pain, the mad fermin, the plague, so that -he- can come to the rescue and so you will all hand him the throne in return.” The orator raises his right hand to his chest, indicating himself as he speaks, “He has already removed any on the council that would oppose him. Andurla. Myself. It falls to you now to show Larket’s Strength and bring this killer to justice!” Beneath his clothing the furious aura of The Rage Stone pours outward and this angry group that was already inclined to distrust The Golden Paladin and incites a roar from many gathered.
Kelovath was within the walls of Fort Freedom when Marcel came running into the council meeting room. Quickly, the young guard informed the paladin of what was currently taking place at Lucy’s Crossing. Not much information could have been shared, but hearing that Macon had apparently made his return to Larket brought Kelovath to his feet and sent him running toward the stalls of shops that made up the crossing. Marcel was close behind, as always. Arriving several minutes after the ex-councilman’s convincing speech, the armored paladin and his young guard appeared from the side of the crowd, Kelovath’s eyes locking onto Macon. He didn’t shout or attempt to stop the man in any way. If he were to continue speaking, then so be it. He may be a murderer, but if he sought to speak his mind, then why stop him? The paladin knew which side was the correct one. Marcel, on the other hand, was pushing his way closer to Death Knight, rage building upon his features as the distance between them closed. Kelovath simply stood there and watched, just on the edge of the increasingly angry group of people that have gathered here. It didn’t take long for the rest of the guardsmen that were to accompany Kelovath to arrive. Order would be demanded shortly, but for now, other than Marcel, the recently arrived were patient to hear what else the Death Knight wanted to speak lies about.
Muzo is uncomfortable. When he left the Red Ogre Inn this morning, he had not expected his return walk (slither?) to be impeded by a shouting mob. With Formulae his trusty spellbook clutched close to his chest, the naga winds and slides his way between the angry congregants. "Please excuse, me. Do pardon. Very sorry, thank you. Just, if you could. Much obliged. If I may, thank you." One apology at a time, Muzo makes piecemeal progress through the crossing. An uncharacterist frown bends his scaly, ophidian lips, and he dares not raise his gaze for fear of meeting the angry eyes around him. "Not to be a bother. Could I perhaps? Don't mind me. Quite sorry." With the fermin crisis over, Muzo had assumed (foolishly so, he reprimands himself) that everything would be back to business as usual. Silently, the researcher makes a note to check with the bellhop about the "local climate" before he ever goes outside again. He tries not to listen, but then something happens that he can't quite tune out. Macon's words strike him, and flare of rage blossoms within his chest. Muzo pauses, startled and blinking. It wasn't like him to anger easily. Why had he now? Was it because his heart had recognized some element of truth in Macon's message? Setting aside his discomfort, the naga pauses and looks up, hoping to catch a glimpse of this stirring speaker.
Macon controls the volume of the crowd with his hand movements shaking his fist to to empower their furious outcry and following up by raising his hands, palms outward again to quiet them. Inside the gathering of people the effects of the Rage Stone probably see some aggressive elbows being thrown towards at Marcel and Muzo as their paths through the crowd ruffle some ornery feathers. “Now-...” the traitor begins before another singular voice cuts him off.
“Proof!” The call is followed by a low murmur just before the crowd begins to do the former sheriff’s arguing for him.
“Why would the guard lie for Macon!? He says Kelovath attacked ‘em!” More heated back and forth over how they could believe an Axe Murderer’s word on the subject of Andurla’s slaying goes unresponded to by the Death Knight standing atop a tree root as he has caught sight of the glint of golden armor at the edge of the crowd. The furious artifact on his person amplifies the hatred he feels for the Paladin, causing him to shake slightly as they stare each other down. Macon hadn’t anticipated Kelovath showing himself here, but now that he has the former councilman is pleased despite the look of loathing. There is no need for him to point out the paladin’s arrival as the group of guards that tail him to the crossing alerts the periphery of the mob. Word spreads through them like wildfire and soon they are facing the accused Golden Killer angrily asking what he has to say for himself. The dissent from the crowd and subsequent descent into chaos with Kelovath’s appearance should serve as a cue for the next piece of Macon’s puzzle to fall into place...
The chaotic demands of an angered and fearful crowd, who called for proof from Macon and answers from Kelovath, reverberated off nearby buildings and built up a tremulous cacophony that drew more people into the fold, only to have them fall under the rage stone's influence and lend their voices to the growing riot. But, the northern reaches of the crowd, where parents stood with their children to avoid the dangers that brewed deeper within the mass of bodies, began to quiet and their collected attentions deviated from the men under fire, and to a stooped figure in a threadbare gray robe who moved toward the dais Macon had claimed.
"Why is the Laedavere here?" "The High Priest is here? But he never leaves the Chapel."
These questions and more began to circulate through the crowd, creating a rippling effect that managed to mute the crowd and draw attention from both Macon and Kelovath. The old man, who was as old and as weathered as the robe he wore, moved with a grace that belied his age, and despite the slump and curve of his shoulders that gave the appearance he constantly trying to fold in to himself, his head was held high and his graying blue gaze fixed to Macon with determination. Trailing after him were two acolytes dressed in similar robes and carrying a small chest between the pair of them.
As the whispered words regarding the Religious men and their cargo amassed, the sea of people parted to allow the three men to take a place below Macon before turning to face the crowd once more.
"It brings me much pain and sorrow to watch our city suffer once more after so short a reprieve. We hadn't had the chance to begin to heal from the wounds inflicted by the Fermin and their plague, or mourn for our loved ones lost, before another tragedy struck us." Laedavere's voice was strong, but shook slightly as voices are wont to do after decades of use and time. "My heart has ached with each family who has laid a child, a husband, a wife to rest too soon, but Kelovath's return brought us hope. He helped lend his sword to our cause, and eventually we won against the monsters in our sewers."
Despite the presence of the rage stone, the crowd seemed to fall almost tranquil under Laedavere's words, and agreeing words whispered throughout the gathering- there was still the occasional elbow to the rib when personal space was encroached on, but the anger and fear that had built within the denizens had died down considerably.
"But, it pains my heart to stand here and admit that I am doubtful of Kelovath’s actions as of late. I have prayed to Cyris for understanding, for faith in our new councilman, but unfortunately our God cannot grant me peace in my heart. You see, I witnessed Kelovath enter into the Chapel of Cyris late one night, carrying this chest. All the candles had burned out for the night, but I was still working to care for Cyris’ monument. I would have normally greeted him, or made mention of my presence, but silence drew over me, willed so by our great Lord, and I watched as he defiled the house of Cyris by prying up the floorboards in the southeastern corner and leaving this chest beneath them. I have tried to open the chest by many means, but it is locked tight. This series of events cast doubt into my heart, and so I prayed to Cyris for days before He demanded I reach out to Macon for understanding.” The Godly interference lent a hand toward the story of how Macon was framed, and Laedevere’s gray-blue gaze rounded from the crowd toward Kelovath, and the people turned with him.
“What’s in the chest, Kelovath?”
“Why where you hiding that in the Chapel!?”
“I can’t believe you’d defile the house of Cyris!”
“Open the chest, Kelovath!”
Anger and fear born anew, the crowd’s demands for answers returned, but this time, the paladin was the sole recipient of the ire.
Kelovath still made no attempt to push his way through the crowd. They were angry, at him, and getting in the middle of that would not be wise. He worried some for Marcel, who was at the base of the makeshift-stage now, only seconds away from jumping up there and hauling Macon away. Instead, it seemed someone else was making their way to the gathered crowd. The High Priest Laedavere. But why? The guards that arrived shortly after Kelovath did started making their way to the priest, offering him their protection from the small mob of people. Marcel stopped his forward progress and got out of the way of the priest and his followers. Kelovath stood silent still and listened to the accusation made by the Laedavere. He had no idea what was going on or where that chest came from. First instinct was to turn and simply walk away from the situation before it got worse. But, with Macon right there, he couldn’t bring himself to do so. The murderer was standing within his sights and it would take something strong to pull him away from the ex-councilmember. Without yelling, he spoke, “I did no such thing.” To claim a High Priest of lying was incriminating, but the paladin had to protect himself. And, he was telling the truth. If he were to hide something, the fort made more sense. Or even the temple in Sage. No point in saying that now. Nobody would believe him in this situation. Outnumbered by overly emotional citizens of Larket. He claimed the priest was lying. What else could be done? At least Marcel seemed to believe him. The young guard was shifting his gaze between Kelo and the chest, looking on with obvious disbelief that the paladin would even be seen with something like that. Kelovath was looking at Macon now, narrowing his gaze in hatred.
Muzo cocks his head to the side, trying to gather, contextually, what all has happened. Attacks? Murder? His scaly brow furrows, and Formulae gives an imperceptible rustle within the naga's grasp. Extraordinary claims, Muzo tells himself, bear an extraordinary burden of proof. Macon says he has witnesses, but where is the hard evidence? Were it not for his inexplicable sense of indignation, the bookish researcher would have left then and there, but he's still bewildered and intrigued by this seemingly inexplicable emotional imbalance. Then, as if on cue, the high priest arrives. Aha! Speaking of hard evidence, there it well may be. Rather like the rest of the crowd, Muzo is very curious about this newest development and, though he hadn't know a thing five minutes ago about the murders or intrigue, he's quickly swept up in the unfolding drama. Standing up on his tail some, the alchemist tries to peek over the crowd and get a glance at the fateful chest. Could it really be as bad as they claim? Could it reall be as bad as it *seems*?
Macon remains silent throughout Laedavere’s speech, stealing glances at the Paladin on the outskirts of the crowd to gauge his reaction and anticipate his next move. Turns out there isn’t much of a ‘next move’ to anticipate, other than timid denial, after the revelation by the holy man and so The Death Knight steps off of his stage of a tree root, one hand over the hilt of his blade to steady it upon landing. He stands beside The High Priest and looks over the chest with a feigned curiosity. Once again Macon’s voice rises above all others, booming and commanding attention, “For years this man has served Cyris and Larket! Both You and I know him to stand for this city and justice above all and that his honor is -beyond- question!” All the while the mass of Larketians is clamoring around Kelovath still.
“What’s in the box!?”
“What’s that there!? Around his neck?!” It seems their fury has made some of them more observant than usual as they point out a purple trinket hanging off of Kelovath’s neck.
“A key! -The- key!” Anger’s made them quick to jump to conclusions as well.
“Open it!” several adopt this enraged chant while Macon receives the chest from Laedavere and starts moving into the crowd. Again, he hadn’t anticipated Kelovath’s presence here today let alone that the Paladin would be demanded to open the chest, but it is all working out so beautifully now. Confidently the exiled councilmember walks right by Marcel. He doubts, even in the presence of the Rage Stone, that the young guard or Kelovath will attack him now lest they have to wage war against this sizeable portion of Larket’s population. Still he’s ready to draw his weapon at a moment’s notice should he need to, the chest cradled under his left arm. Should he be allowed to to reach Kelovath The Death Knight smugly presents the chest and lets the mob do the demanding for him. The dark enchantment sealing the box is purposefully weak and with minimal effort it should be openable especially with whatever ‘key’ The Golden Knight seems to have brought along with him.
Kelovath was very unsure of this entire situation. The chest was a mystery. The fact that the high priest seemed to be on Macon’s side of things was confusing. The sudden anger growing from the crowd was overwhelming. And now, the ex-councilmember was making his way easily through the crowd all the while they demand that the paladin open the chest. The key. Jos’s key. It’d open the chest, no doubt, but wouldn’t that prove the accusation? Would he be unlocking some unknown mystery that impossibly links him to the murders? Marcel had followed Macon, much to the mobs dislike, but thankfully the guards nearby stood as a natural deterrent for any violence. Slowly, Kelo’s hand lifted and wrapped around the key hanging from his neck. This all felt unreal to him, but when the chest was presented, he uncontrollably removed the key from his neck. Brown eyes locked onto Macon, narrowing in anger. This was clearly a setup. But unavoidable now. If he refused, the crowd would erupt once more and the guards would most definitely step in. Kelovath slid the key into the lock and turned it. It would unlock it.
Muzo, having completely forgotten that he'd been slithering his way home, now cranes and peeks and tries his best to keep his eyes on the action. Well well! A key to the chest, and this Kelovath fellow certainly seems none too pleased about it. Folding his arms over his chest, the naga scientist watches with pointed interest, very eager to see what comes of this whole key-in-lock experiment. Did it just turn? It's so hard to tell with all the motion and shouting, and Muzo must resist the urge to push his way closer.
Hisk-Spittle hadn't planned for his role in implecating Kelovath to go so smoothly- and, if it was honest, it had expected Macon to screw up in some form or fashion. Behind the old, weathered mask of Laedavere, the rat was grinning in triumph.
To those present, the High Priest of Cyris watched the on goings with an unmistakable look of hurt and a touch of anguish, but once Kelovath was presented with the chest to open, Laedavere turned, refusing to watch the man condem himself, and began his slow trek back to the chapel, shaking his head solemnly while the acolytes that had carried along the chest threw accusing glares back toward Kelovath.
Macon is genuinely surprised to see the chest open via the key, grey eyes widening at the turn and ‘click’ of the enchantment being released. Gasps and shouts from the crowd echo his reaction as he opens the chest so that Kelovath can see inside before anyone else. Once again cradling the now open box in his left arm The Death Knight reaches inside and milks this moment for all it’s worth, pausing dramatically before holding the solitary content of the chest up above his head for the audience to see. It is a simple jar filled about halfway with a gelatinous, rust-colored liquid. There are some reflexive yells and sounds of shock from a few who would have made those noises no matter what Macon had pulled from the chest, and the rest of the crowd indulges in a second or two of silence while they try to make out what that Paladin was hiding. “What is that?” the question rumbles through those gathered in various forms before fear overtakes several of them. Many of the closest to the former and current councilmembers recoil in fear of the worst.
“The Infection!” Indeed the mass’ first guess is the correct answer to this mystery. Men and women scream and shout at the possibility of being exposed to the deadly affliction. The crowd thins a bit as some flee outright, the proximity to the Rage Stone making their flight a bit more fighty than it normally would have been. Others demand the Paladin’s head in the face of this damning evidence.
“Calm yerselves!” Macon demands silence again from the now fearful crowd. “We don’t know yet -what- this is!” he lowers the hand holding the jar and turns it over, examining it himself. “We must have this compared to what is affecting the sick to confirm these suspicions. In the meantime…” The Death Knight finally speaks directly to Kelovath now, “You should stay clear of the fort and any council meetings. You have no place in any decisions for this kingdom.” As the venom drips off of that last statement. An accusation of leniency comes from inside the crowd, but Macon shrugs it off. He has no intention of locking the Golden Knight up, in fact he’d prefer if Kelovath took the chance to flee Larket that he is being given. The former councilman raises his voice again to address those gathered, “And if this is found to be the source of the disease then perhaps Laedavere’s discovery can be a blessing and with analysis a cure can be devised!”
Kelovath grimaced when the lock actually did open. He knew how the key worked, but was kind of hopeful that maybe this one time it’d fail. It did not. The sounds coming from the crowd when the chest was opened turned his stomach. The contents of the container weren’t even shown yet and the mob was turning on him all the more, if that were possible. Then, the jar was presented. At first, the paladin couldn’t figure it out. A jar full of nasty looking liquid. Big deal. Worst build-up ever. But then it clicked, with the help of a member of the mob. The disease. Kelo took a step back (taking the key back, of course) and looked around at the now decreasing amount of people surrounding him. They were running. Off to spread even more rumors and unconfirmed ideas of the current situation. Looking at the guards, it was difficult to tell how they were thinking. Whose side they were on. Eventually, his gaze found Marcel. Even still, the young guard was eying Macon. Possible hint of questioning, but hidden well. The kid was angry. The Rage Stone seemingly effecting him more and more as he remained close to the Death Knight. The anger rising within Marcel found its way to Kelovath, who focused his attention back onto Macon. His composure remained strong and well-reserved, but that step back taken earlier was reversed, the paladin moving closer to the ex-councilmember. “You have no say in the matters of Larket, Macon. Those rights were forfeit when –you- murdered Andurla!” The woman’s name spoke with a fierceness that was very unlike Kelovath. His composure broke, which Marcel of all people saw before Kelo did. The young guard stepped out from behind Macon and promptly directed the paladin in the opposite direction of the Death Knight and away from the mob. A few guards followed, but more remained behind. Kelovath’s outburst was a firm declaration that he’d remain within Larket and that Macon’s words (suggestions?) would not be followed. Marcel, having gotten the councilman under control, peered back to Macon and presented him with a not-so-nice gesture that included a certain finger that may or may not be the middle one.
Muzo narrows his eyes in deep suspicion when Kelovath's own key opens the chest. He gasps alound when the jar emerges. The alchemist needs no prompt from the crowd to realize the drastic turn events have taken; a severed head could be less incriminating. Don't know what it is? Must have it compared? "Ecuse me," Muzo timidly begins as he shoulders his way through the thinning crowd, "pardon me." A scowl breaks his face. "Hey!" The uncharacteristically angry shout is much louder that Muzo realized it would be, and doubtless, he draws the eyes of several mob attendees. Really, it was just Macon's attention he wanted. Pushing up to the center of activity (and pushing his embarassment aside), Muzo approaches Macon rigth about the same time that Marcel ushers Kelovath away. "Excuse me," the snake starts over, "but couldn't help coming forward. The jar. Believe I can be of assistance. Muzo," he hurriedly introduces himself with a quick little two fingered salute, brushing right past the pause where a handshake would normally go, "friend of Larket. Magister. Applied biotic alchemy, Royal Academy, Alithrya." Reaching out, he wiggles a scaly finger at exhibit A, talking a mile a minute and hardly leaving room for breath. "Can confirm contents. Was one of the three that worked on a cure. Familiar with the toxins and pathogens," the corners of his mouth turn down further, "and their effects."
Macon can just barely hide his glee when the revelation appears on the Paladin’s face. A slow, dismissive shake of his head wards off Kelovath’s repeated accusation as if to say ‘You know no one here will believe that now.’ The Death Knight might have gloated, shouting after the group as they fled, but Muzo’s introduction pries his attention away just in time. A little less than half of the remaining mob chases after Marcel, Kelovath, and the guards that stayed with them, tossing stones and insults the Paladin’s way. Their fury subsides slightly the farther they get from Macon and his angry artifact, but the display in the streets is still very public, drawing onlookers from their homes to see the councilman chased on by. Back at the Crossing Macon raises a brow at the credentials being flung at him. They all seem mildly impressive, but for the former sheriff the naga might as well have stopped at ‘friend of Larket.’ “Macon.” The secret Death Knight offers while simultaneously handing over the half-full jar. “I understand that this thing he’s unleashed on the sick bay is different in some way from the plague the Fermin were spreading. We may need to rely on your expertise for another cure here.”
Muzo eagerly accepts the jar, holding it up to the light and gently turning it, initially observing its transluscence, viscosity, and homogeniety. No matter, of course, for the real examination will take place in the laboratory. At Macon's revelation, the naga blinks. "Different?" This bodes ill, and he hisses in agitation. "Ssssscoundrels! No regard for for the suffering of otherssss!" He could nearly shake with anger, the first time Muzo's been this upset many years. "Will see what can be done." Resentfully, the researcher tries to catch a glimpse of Kelovath through the receding mob, and for a moment, perhaps for the first time in his life, he wishes he'd a bit more of the warrior's ire in him so he could chase along and teach that rascal Kelovath a lesson or two himself. "No time to waste," he says, more for his own benefit, as he forcibly pulls his rage-addled mind back onto the rails, "will hurry back to the Inn. Find me there if you need anything else, Macon." Again, the hasty salute--no time for handshakes.
Macon nods once towards Muzo confirming that it is indeed the source of a -new- disease the naga holds in his hand. The parting salute is reciprocated by the former sheriff, “Will do.” With the more furious parts of the crowd tailing Kelovath and his entourage and the self-preservationists fleeing at the sight of the contents of the chest, The Death Knight is left near the center of an even keeled group. He stays behind for some time, looking genuinely happy to be back ‘home’ in Larket without having to hide his identity. He offers answers to some clarifying questions about the accusations he’s thrown around here today, addressing several of the citizens by name, knowing them from his recently ended stint as a councilmember.
Later that evening, long after the Paladin has shaken his pursuers and the mob has completely dispersed, at the Chapel of Cyris in Larket the body of High Priest Laedavere is found by one of the other priests, murdered by blade. So soon after presenting evidence against Kelovath. When news of his death comes out the public outcry will likely be too great for the Pro-Kelovath council to continue to let the Paladin continue to run free...