Episode 2: Winners write the history books (DramaSystem: Heroes of the City)

Episode 2 opens in Odson’s lab with the goblin supplying Elron with a bronze container of a disturbing design (which involved tentacles) containing a deadly plague that could spread quickly through the slums. Now all the Prince has to do is to have it delivered so that it can work its way through the mercenary ranks.

Outside, on the battlements, Xathra overcomes her distaste of the assassin to ask The Nightstalker to help her find the man who killed her father. He, despite knowing the answers already, tells her that he will look into it and the identity of the person who ordered the deed.

The Nightstalker visits Stefan in the watchhouse that he is using as a command post and asks for his support when he tells Xathra the truth. They discuss what really happened all those years ago, when Xathra’s father discovered his wife, Ataria, was carrying the child of another man and swore to make her and the child depart this world once he had cleansed himself with prayer and meditation and how Ataria hired an outsider to save her child and keep her secret. Stefan was shocked but kept his identity as the father (and lover) secret while agreeing to support his former protege.

Balor strode into the throne room and demanded that “Lord” Elron fulfil his duty as host and eulogize King Oriene before his funeral procession departed the city the next day. Despite the insult, he eagerly agrees so as to see the dwarfs gone. Balor then asked the Princess, whom his father had praised, to lead the procession to the city gates and she agrees.

In order to complete the contract (see the end of the previous episode), Stefan, The Nightstalker and Xathra made their way through the sewers into the heart of the territory that wasn’t firmly under the control of the Heroes. There they confronted Dirk, the Firebrand, who accused Stefan (mid-duel) of being as bad as the Archmage and the cause of the peoples’ suffering. The players were expecting a procedural scene, but this spun it on its head and it became dramatic. Stefan challenged Dirk to work with him, and he agreed.

Alec talks to Elron about his dead warrior and the Prince introduces Pira, the chief healer of the elves, to the mage. While they observe, Pira examines the dead warrior and discovers that energies from the unstable edges of the portal at the top of Alec’s spire have started to consume his flesh.  Everybody nearby will start to suffer similar effects over the course of the next few weeks. Eventually the portal energies will do the same to more durable materials — including the tower itself. They also learn that the portal is growing and anyone within five or six floors of it is in danger. Elron responds by ordering the nearby levels evacuated.

Elron asks Pira to spread the plague amongst the mercenaries claiming it is a cure for various diseases that infest the slums and saying that they do not affect the locals who developed an immunity growing up with them. She asks how he got this cure and proposes that its creator should be the one to take credit for it. He tells her that because it comes from a goblin, the people might not trust it. Pira’s ethics won’t allow her to administer a cure from a dubious source without understanding it but offers to examine the cure and then distribute it. Elron tries to force her into action by claiming that time is of the essence, but she tells him that she cannot disobey her principles and he resolves to find some other means to spread it.

The distribution ended up happening off-camera. Possibly the details will come out in a future episode.

Everyone, including Balor, takes part in the funeral procession scene but little of consequence happens. Elron gives the eulogy which praises the dwarfs highly on the assumption that he can undo the damage he does to his own glory more easily once they are gone.

Finally, The Nightstalker, Stefan and Xathra exchange truths and blades on the training grounds. The Nightstalker confesses to the assassination of Xathra’s father and tells her it was her own mother who ordered it. Stefan confesses to being the lover responsible for causing the rift. Xathra flies into a rage and attacks The Nightstalker. Over the course of the fight, his mask is ripped away and his identity as Alec’s twin is revealed. Xathra is shocked by the revelation but it doesn’t prevent her from stabbing him. Alec bursts onto the scene thundering with magic and rage accusing Xathra of betraying herself by fighting for rage instead of honour. She flees the scene leaving her sword behind, her father staring after her, and the twins clutching each other in the rain.

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