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Per Multiversum
Chapter 3 — The Dragon Throne
~ ninth-day, 19th of Flamerule, the Year of Rogue Dragons, dawn
The Dragon's Jaws, Suzail, Cormyr

At dawn the next day, Belvin and Hakam went out back to a garden to pray to their gods. Solisar and Sofi were also up, sitting in the restaurant dining area drinking water.

   A steward came through the door and asked Solisar if he was one of the adventurers staying there as guests of the queen mother. When Solisar answered in the affirmative, the steward explained that their appointment had been scheduled for the afternoon session and that they should arrive after lunch at the Royal Court and show their registration certificate. They were to ask to be directed to the Dragon Throne. Also, they needed to be sure to wear formal attire.

   Jayce came down from his room at the tail end of this, looking hungover. "Everyone has formal attire except for Belvin and Kytharrah," he said. "Do you have a dress to wear, Sofi?"

   "All I own is what I am wearing," she said.

   "Well, we have an afternoon meeting;" said Jayce. "The shops will open soon. After some water, I think I can find some fitting clothes for the minotaur to wear. Would you want to accompany me on a shopping trip, Sofi?"

   "I would love to!" she said. "I have not been shopping since I lived in Sigil."

   So, that morning, Jayce and Sofi perused the shops along the Promenade in a search to find clothing large enough for Kytharrah's bulk. The inn stewards also rolled wooden bathtubs into each of the guest rooms and provided buckets of warm, soapy water. (Solisar, for his part, kindly rejected the tubs; he always remained clean through use of his magic cantrips.)

   When Jayce and Sofi returned from shopping, he gained the assistance of the bar wenches Rustreene and Molly Sara, and they knocked on Kytharrah's door. As the others ate brunch, they worked to make Kytharrah presentable to the queen. At one point, the brunch-partakers heard angry shouting from Sofi, but then all was quiet again. When the door opened, a new Kytharrah emerged from his room, looking a combination of confined but amused. He was wearing a fancy purple vest with the kilt that Ilthian had made him. His fur was braided under the chin and behind the head, and there were bows involved. He smelled clean, and his hooves shined.

   "I present to you Master Kytharrah!" said Jayce with a flourish.

   As they ate the food that Milo brought out for them, Solisar took this opportunity to share some information. "While on the Rock of Bral, I was able to speak with members of the Imperial Fleet about Wa," he began. "They shared a number of details about their space fleet and the history between the Wanese people and the elves.

   "The elves consider Wa a dangerous military dictatorship, which concerns them. They feel that their presence in wildspace upsets the balance there. Wa has not traditionally respected elven wildspace territory, and this led early to several bloody encounters. At first, the elves were victorious, but then Wa developed the tsunami, that vessel about which we also heard from the Shou Embassy on Bral."

   "Yes, I remember that," said Jayce, "the long vessels carrying smaller 'locusts'."

   "Indeed. Things would be much worse except for two factors. First, they thus far have not left the bounds of orbit of Selûne. Second, there was an incident where a captain of a tsunami assaulted a neogi base in the Tears. This tsunami took on six neogi deathspiders simultaneously and destroyed four of them outright. The other two retreated into space, leaving Wa to conquer the neogi's base, which had previously been a scourge to all other races in the Tears of Selûne for decades. They also freed several dozen slaves who were elves, whom Wa returned to us as a token of good will. The Elven Imperial Fleet then made a treaty for peace with Wa for a period of five years. Wa did break the treaty one time and destroyed one of our men-o-war, claiming that they had intelligence from a Shou Lung spy that the ship was secretly a drow vessel. The Fleet believed that such an accusation was absurd, but the peace agreement did hold. The terms of the treaty have since expired, but there has been little conflict since, primarily because, during the five years of peace, Wa has built up its fleet. The elves suspect that they have ten tsunamis in their fleet now.

   "The elves also confirmed that Wa is exceptionally isolationist. They do engage in trade, but generally, they only purchase, not sell, goods. Spelljamming merchants are permitted to land their vessels to sell but are never permitted to leave their ships."

   "I do not understand how they can only purchase, not sell," said Hakam. "Do they have limitless stores of gold?"

   "I believe that they buy and sell by traditional routes with a limited number of Kara-Turan nations," said Solisar, "simply not with spelljamming traders. In any case, if we try to go there in the guise of merchants, we will not be permitted to leave the ship."

   The meal complete, they readied themselves to leave. By now, everyone was dressed in their formal attire.

   "Will you not be joining us to see the queen?" Szordrin asked Sofi, seeing that, while obviously bathed, she was still wearing her usual simple short tunic and pants. He himself was decked out for the occasion, wearing one of his courtier's outfits with purple accents.

   "I will stay with Belvin outside while you all meet the queen," she said.

   "I offered to buy her a dress," said Jayce, "but she refused."

   "It would not be in line with my vows," she said.

   "What if you were only borrowing the dress and returned it?" asked Szordrin. "I would be happy to cover the rental fee for you."

   It looked like Sofi really wanted to say yes.

   Kytharrah patted her on the shoulder. "Come?"

   "No, I gave my promises to Pistis Sophia and chose to refuse clothing beyond what is needed. I am told that some of her followers refuse even this much. This is not a needed visit, at least not for me. I have little to add to whatever you have to say to the queen."

   The group headed back along the Promenade to the Royal Court, to the building where they had registered. Along the way, Sofi spoke to Kytharrah. "Kytharrah, it is very important for a grown-up minotaur like you to be disciplined. I will not be there to help you inside, but try as hard as you can to concentrate on standing tall and still. It will be a game. If you can stay quiet while everyone else is talking, you win!"

   Kytharrah nodded. He liked new games, and he wanted to impress his new horned sister.

   Showing their certificate to some of the Purple Dragons stationed back where they had registered, they were directed up the curved steps on the northern end of the courtyard with the water fountain. At the top of the steps, they followed a paved path on elevated ground, passing through an indoor atrium with a water fountain, gardens, and a glass roof, then to an outdoor garden with a wooden walkway/bridge over an artificial pond full of fish. Belvin and Sofi remained here at the garden, while the others continued. Belvin began trying to converse with the cats, but none of them were terribly keen on talking with an elf. They were more interested in licking themselves and basking on the sun-warmed marble. They had surprising little information to provide about the affairs of humans in the city.

   The others reached a small side building adjacent to a large and ancient hall. There were a large number of Purple Dragons stationed here. They were told that all weapons and magical items had to be removed before entering the Court of the Dragon Throne.

   "All of your equipment will be highly guarded and stored for your return after your audience with the queen."

   One of the guards wore spectacles that gave her the ability to detect magic items. When Hakam was told to remove the phylactery on his forehead, he protested. "This is a religious token of my faith and of no danger to anyone. Its magic is purely divine. To force me to remove it would be unfair bias against the Church of Anachtyr."

   To the others' surprise, Hakam's argument worked, and he was permitted to wear it.

   Kytharrah's bullshoes also posed a problem, but after several examinations from multiple guards, they decided that it was not worth the effort to remove them. They were, after all, literally nailed into Kytharrah's hooves, and they did not have a farrier present with the tools to put them back on again, even were they to have successfully removed them by crowbar.

   Each of them were handed a receipt including a list of each item being held for when they returned. Then they exited from the small building and entered a sort of covered bridge with a marble floor that crossed over into the ancient hall that they had seen. This hall was the center of the Royal Court, the chamber of the Dragon Throne of Cormyr.

   They passed through the double doors at the end of the passage, and one of the posted guards at the corner directed them down the wide hallway and told them to wait in the waiting room until the doors to the inner chamber were opened for the afternoon session.

   They walked south along the high-windowed exterior wall of the building, past another guard and through a small door, where the hallway continued but was narrower now. They passed a closed door on their left, and then they came into a large waiting area, about 25 feet wide and almost twice that long. In the northeast corner of the room was a wide staircase leading up half a story to a set of double doors. The room had tapestries on three of its walls and was furnished with benches and side tables, much like the other administrative building that they had visited the day prior.

   A middle-classed woman was the only occupant when they entered. Solisar acknowledged her presence with a friendly nod. She nodded back, followed by widening eyes when Kytharrah stepped in. As they moved about the room, passing time by looking at the tapestries, (which, once again, included several depictions of cats amongst scenes of military conquest,) the woman approached Solisar and whispered to him, "Is... is that a minotaur?"

   "Indeed, he is a minotaur. His name is Kytharrah, which in my own tongue means, 'Friendly Red Beast.'"

   "You can just call him 'Minotaur', if that pleases you," said Leokas."

   The woman pondered these answers and moved away to her own corner.

   It was not a very long wait before the double doors at the top of the stairs opened, and a Purple Dragon entered. Clearing his voice at the top of the steps, he announced, "Court is now in session. The Dowager Queen is now ready to hear cases. You may enter the viewing area but must wait until called upon for your voice to be heard." He then turned and stepped back through the doorway.

   As they filed over to ascend the steps, Szordrin held back a bit and removed a copper coin from his pouch. He cast a quick spell, while moving the coin between his fingers, and began to monitor the thoughts of those around him.

   They stepped out onto a ten-foot-wide balcony overlooking a massive, high-arched-ceilinged hall. On the southern wall were a pair of impressive tall and narrow stained-glass windows, which provided the chamber's only natural light, and tall tapestries prevented much of even that from reflecting off the old stone walls. Between the windows, resting upright on the ground, was what appeared to be a large stone coffin surrounded by a circle of runes on the stone-tiled floor. Forty or 50 feet across the hall was another balcony, and it was clear from the dress and behavior of those standing or sitting in luscious couches upon it that this was the observation area for the nobles. These were all staring down at the north side of the room.

   There, standing upon a raised dais was a high-backed, imposing throne carved out of black stone into the shape of a dragon, its head at the top, its foreclaws as armrests, and enveloped with large wings. An enormous purple carpet rolled out from under the throne, down the wide steps of the dais and two-thirds of the way toward the coffin. No one sat upon the throne, but standing on the steps several paces in front of the throne was a woman who almost certainly was the queen mother. She wore a blue gown and a slim circlet upon her head with two spires.

   A cluster of peasants were standing some distance from her, ready to make their appeals. A wall of Purple Dragons stood between the peasants and the widowed queen.

   Lady Laspeera was also present, standing to the right of the throne on the dais, as was another War Wizard on the other side.

   Szordrin moved as close as he could to the northern end of the balcony, still rolling the coin in his fingers. The peasants were expressing thoughts of stress and trepidation as they faced the queen, because, for some of them, she was their last chance at justice.

   One of the peasants was called upon to speak, and he stated that his feudal lord had treated him unfairly by demanding the same amount of wheat even though the crop that year had been less. A woman appealed for justice against a merchant who had ripped her off and thus far not been punished by the lower courts. So it went, and Szordrin learned nothing more from their thinking than what they were saying.

   Queen Filfaeril would listen carefully and then give commands to a clerk sitting in the shadows in the northwestern corner, who was furiously taking notes. In most cases, she ordered that the accused be summoned at a later date for his or her side of the story to be presented. While she did her best to listen, the queen seemed frustrated or exhausted from some of reports. When she had made her preliminary judgments, the peasant would leave, and a Purple Dragon would call out the next name on the docket, as told to him by the court clerk in the corner.

   Through all of this, the nobles on the opposite balcony were whispering and muttering among themselves in response to what the peasants were saying, yet they remained silent whenever the dowager queen opened her mouth.

   When the last peasant departed the lower chamber, the name of the woman in the balcony with them was called. She came to the corner and spoke from the railing her case. A noble had wronged her by not paying a promised fee for housecleaning services. As she spoke, there was booing from the other balcony, but this was silenced by a word from the queen and the steady stares of the two War Wizards.

   Szordrin continued to make his way forward, hoping to get within a score of yards of the queen so that he might be able to make out her thoughts, but when this distance was attained, he felt an immediate arcane resistance to the probing of his spell.

   When the middle-class woman in the balcony with them had spoken what she had to say, the queen announced that there would be a recess.

   "Were we forgotten?" said Jayce to the nearest guard. "We were told to present our case during the first afternoon session."

   The guard shrugged. "That is for the queen mother to decide. You should return to the waiting room."

   They looked down and saw the queen leave the dais by passing behind a tapestry on the western wall.

   It had been an hour, but they had little that they could do but return to the room and wait again.

   It was not long, however, before a small door on the eastern wall opened. (It was made to blend in with the wall, though it was not quite so hidden as a secret door would be.) A Purple Dragon entered and spoke to them. "Are you the party that includes...." He held up a piece of parchment. "...Hakamyn Amdul...?"

   "Yes," said Hakam, in a very curt tone, "this is the party of Justiciar Hakam yn Hamdulah el Anachtyr yi Memnon."

   "I apologize, milord," said the guard. "The queen has requested that you follow me posthaste, please."

   He stepped back through the door. Following him, they entered a long, dark, and narrow passageway, which seemed to run between the walls of the waiting room and the throne room. It was so dark that the two humans, Jayce and Hakam, had to carefully walk with their hands along the wall.

   "May I create light?" asked Hakam. The guard permitted it.

   The tunnel passed underneath what they assumed were the stairs to the balcony. Then the tunnel had stairs of its own, which took them up to a 20-foot-by-30-foot room, lit with torches, apparently a secret chamber of sorts. The guard turned and stopped blocking further movement down the passage to elsewhere, which only allowed them the option to crowd into the room.

   Here, the queen mother waited, with a contingent of six Purple Dragon knights with special ornamentation, silver, almost-glowing pendants at their throats shaped like a right-handed open gauntlet with the Purple Dragon symbol in the palm.

   Filfaeril herself had faded blonde hair and icy blue eyes that matched with her royal gown. She was slender, with pale skin, and was likely in her sixth decade. Up close, they could see that sapphires adorned the brow spires in her crown.

   Jayce and Hakam immediately bowed to her, and the others followed their lead.

   "Behold, Filfaeril Selazair Obarskyr, the Dragon Queen," proclaimed one of the knights.
Session: 122nd Game Session - Monday, Oct 12 2020 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Chapter 3 , Recap , Suzail