Corruption of Azim

Chapter 2

Hatching a Plan

Tyrus wondered when Asmodeus would return. They needed to come up with a plan to take care of Renferell. When he had arrived back to the inn, Tyrus found Gaimon playing cards with two men and a Gnomish bard with red hair. He and Shandra joined them for a while. The two men turned out to be miners who had come back to town early to beat the rain.

While the weather outside turned dark and stormy, various people came into the tavern. As the innkeeper had foretold, the tavern was soon busy with townspeople and merchants. After losing most of their gambling money to Gaimon and the Gnome, the two miners tired of the card games and went to the bar to get food and drink. The little bard wandered off to a spot near the front door and started playing a tune on his gittern.

Then Asmodeus finally appeared in the doorway. He shook water from his cloak and then came over to the corner table where the party was sitting. The group discussed what they had learned during the day, especially regarding the mayor.

Shandra noticed that Gaimon was distracted. Looking over, she saw a very beautiful Elvish woman watching the group. The Elf was elegantly dressed and stood out in the crowd. Shandra hushed Tyrus and Asmodeus as the woman approached the group.

The woman walked right up to Asmodeus and greeted him saying, “Asmodeus. I had wondered when you would show up here again.”

Asmodeus smiled. “Elandra. I see you’ve changed your hair color yet again.”

“Do not try to flirt with me, Asmodeus,” Elandra teased. “Or have you forgotten what happened last time? And who are your…” she paused briefly as she surveyed the group, “associates?”

DM
Note that the money gained from playing cards is not significant. I’ll just assume you use it up paying for food and drink.

The party should probably work on a plan to deal with the mayor. Asmodeus would know that Elandra is a source of excellent information, especially regarding the happenings amongst the nobles of Validras.

Eryx
Asmodeus would want to talk to Elandra and other patrons at the bar to gather just some more information, especially regarding Renferrel’s relationship to the nobles and any political background that could help take him down. Family enemies, maybe? Then he, Tyrus, and Shandra would all have a sit-down to discuss possible options. Simply killing the mayor seems not to be a good idea at this point, but maybe stirring up unrest in the local populace to make his grip on the town more tenuous? And if we need to get our violence on, maybe we should lay a trap for some patrol and eliminate a few of the guards, though we should ascertain how many he has in his garrison first.

Whipblade
Tyrus is content to wait for a while. He is excited about having a new sword that’s actually decent. He does want to do something more active, he just doesn’t know what. He just knows that it’s time to make someone pay, but looks to Asmodeus for direction. Shandra advises caution, but adds to Asmodeus’ idea about creating unrest, stating that it might be a good idea to pose as Renferrel’s guards and start waylaying and attacking nearby traders. Then King Heron will have to send troops to take care of Renferrel himself. She also eyes the elven rogue curiously.

Eryx
Also, what happened last time with Elandra? (I would know.)

Whipblade
So… Carl, what do you think of the idea about attacking incoming and outgoing trading caravans from Fallerun?

Eryx
We have to be careful to make sure that it’s not obvious that some guys killed some guards and took their stuff to harrass caravans. Other than that, I kind of like it. Wonder what kind of affect it will have on the natives and on Renferrell. But it would allow us to get our violence on. My character is still waiting on more information. We’ve only been in town a few hours. He’s patient. Still, we should probably wrap up that information gathering and get moving soon. As soon as I can get info from Elandra and some other locals about things happening in the surrounding area, mining disputes, attacks by orcs, whatever they might be, that we might be able to take advantage of, I’ll be ready to rock.

DM
As for what happened last time with Elandra, I was actually purposely leaving that open. Do you have any specific ideas? It does affect your character backstory. Maybe you hooked up? Or maybe she rejected your advances? Or she’s just teasing?

Asmodeus introduced the group. “Elandra, this is Tyrus and his wife Shandra. You’ve probably heard of him—until recently he was Lord of Eridor. And this is Gaimon, who serves as my bodyguard in exchange for opportunities to quench his thirst for violence.

“Colleagues, allow me to introduce Elandra. She is one who shares our hatred of Validras. She always seems to be in possession of valuable information and others’ money, especially that of the other men she spends time with.” The emphasis Asmodeus’ placed on the word other elicited the smirk on Elandra’s face that he was going for.

Elandra curtsied toward Tyrus and jovially said, “Why Lord Tyrus, you look positively well for one so recently decapitated.”

The silence and puzzled looks of the group caught the Elvish woman off guard. “Oh, you don’t know? I thought you would—but of course how could you have known?” She quickly pulled up a seat and began to explain.

“When you escaped from prison, King Heron was furious. You had already upset his plans to ally with Baron Goldhammer once, and he determined that you would not do so again. The Baron was already in Lysidia, but since he had never seen you, Heron executed some other man in your place.

“So now the Baron and most of the kingdom believe you to be dead. Heron’s allies will try to keep the truth secret, and the best way to do that is to get rid of you if they can. You’d best watch your back, lest the Darkrunners get you.”

Tyrus and Shandra shared concerned looks as they pondered this new information.

“What is Renferell’s status as a noble?” Asmodeus asked. “What are his relationships? Does he have any enemies?”

Elandra rolled her eyes. “Renferell isn’t really a noble at all,” she responded. “His connection to the nobility comes only from his uncle, Lord Isley. Because Isley is favored in the King’s court, some of that rubs off on Renferell. Although he’s incompetent, none of the nobles really know about it or care because he’s just the mayor of a small, unimportant town. As for enemies, any of Isley’s enemies would be Renferell’s enemies, though they likely forget about Renferell entirely.”

“Do you think that stirring up unrest in the town would loosen the mayor’s grip? Could we somehow use that against him?” Asmodeus wondered aloud.

Elandra considered this a moment. “Possibly. But the problem is that you risk giving him additional power. If he can convince his uncle that the town is unruly, then he could get additional troops and feel justified in using them to control the town. And Renferell can always just lean on the excuse that this town just isn’t patriotic.”

Shandra had been eying Elandra curiously. Here she chimed in, asking, “What if we posed as Renferell’s guards and started causing trouble? Get Heron to believe that he has to come in with troops to take care of Renferell?”

“An interesting idea,” the Elf replied. “But it would depend on making sure that Heron or other nobles hear about how Renferell is out of control. If the mayor is able to turn too easily to his uncle, then they can keep it quiet to save face.

“That’s really the way to hurt the nobles—you have to attack their outward appearance; discredit them. If you can make Renferell seem like a problem, or incompetent in the eyes of other nobles, then that hurts both him and Isley.

“So yes, that could work. You’d have to be careful that you frame the mayor adequately though, so he looks like a liar when he says he’s not responsible for these atrocities.”

“Right,” Asmodeus agreed. “We have to make sure that it can’t just be chalked up to highway robbers using disguise to harass caravans.”

“Using his troops against him somehow is a good idea though,” said Elandra, “especially if you can make it look like Renferell is mismanaging his troops. Troop movements and money are two things that nobles pay close attention to.

“If you could somehow get Renferell to ask for more troops, but then have them be unneeded… that could really make him look incompetent to the nobles. Make him look like his uncle has to babysit him. If you could ambush and kill off Renferell’s troops while they are defending against some perceived threat,” Elandra spoke slowly here, obviously thinking this out as she spoke, “then when new troops come to help, let them accomplish the original goal easily. Maybe get them to wipe out those packs of Gnolls out North or something.”

“The gnolls?” Asmodeus asked incredulously. “They haven’t bothered the town for years, have they?”

“All the more reason why Renferell would lose face. They aren’t a real threat. The hard part would be to get him to send out troops. You’d have to fake a gnoll attack on the city or abduction or something.”

Gaimon had perked up at the mention of ambushing troops, but the complications of framing the mayor made his head hurt. “Can’t we just kill the mayor and be done with him?” he asked.

“That doesn’t really hurt the nobles, and so it doesn’t help us overthrow the kingdom,” Tyrus responded. “They’ll just assign a new mayor with more troops. But I suppose that Asmodeus’ hatred of Renferell could be good enough reason for us to just kill him off. And it does cause disruption in the kingdom.”

DM
I hope this gives you some more ideas. Here’s the basic rundown:

1. If your plan involves town vs. Renferell then he’ll probably ask his uncle for help and get more troops. Then you’d have to get the town to rebel against Validras. The outcome doesn’t seem good for the town, and from Chapter 1 you’ve learned that many townspeople aren’t willing to fight.

2. If Renferell can show that things aren’t his fault (e.g. those aren’t his troops harassing caravans), then he is justified in getting help and you’ve only really hurt the caravans and travelers.

3. If your plan somehow discredits Renferell, then you can hurt him and Isley both. Make them both look bad: Renferell for being incompetent and Isley for putting him in charge. Actually, #1 could possibly do this too, you just have to be careful how you orchestrate it.

4. Just killing Renferell doesn’t hurt Isley much, but it does get rid of the mayor. One step at a time.

That’s not an exhaustive list, of course. I’m sure you guys can think of some other interesting ideas. I’m trying to leave this relatively open here for you to choose, rather than railroading you into a specific idea.

Also, the Tyrus/Baron Goldhammer info could be useful to you. That info isn’t as focused toward Fallerun though.

Eryx
With all this information, and anything else he gets from the tavern patrons, this is what Asmodeus would propose-a 3 pronged strategy.
1. Stage a Gnoll attack on an outlying farm. Get Renferrell to perceive that the Gnolls are a threat.
2. Kill the guards he sends after the gnolls. Take their uniforms.
3. Using those uniforms, begin to further harass caravans. Could even steal some money and give it to the townsfolk, kind of a Robin Hood thing. If we could involve the MacArthur boy in this, like get him to distribute the money, that would be good. Could both gain an ally for us as well as someone to take the fall should we be caught.

Asmodeus looked around the tavern, wondering if anyone else might have some useful information. Most of the customers seemed to be merchants or local workers. He doubted that they would have anything of much use. A few guards were eating at one table, joining in the crowd watching the Gnomish bard perform for the crowd. They might have some information, but to ask the needed questions he’d probably be raising suspicion.

Returning his attention to the group, Asmodeus listened as they debated a course of action. Soon he spoke up, saying, “I think the best plan of action for now would be to use a three-pronged strategy, incorporating elements of the various ideas.

“First we’ll stage a Gnoll attack on an outlying farm. This will turn Renferell’s attention away from the town. Secondly, we’ll kill the guards which are sent out after the Gnolls. The mayor’s soldiers are really at the core of his power, so killing them will weaken his control.

“We’ll take uniforms from the soldiers we kill and use them to harass caravans. This will be the third piece of our plan. We might even steal some money and distribute it to the townsfolk. I think I know of someone who might be helpful with this.”

Gaimon nodded approvingly at the plan. “It sounds like a good plan. It hurts Renferell in the two places Elandra said nobles care about: soldiers and money.”

He also likes it because it is sufficiently violent, Asmodeus thought.

“It sounds promising,” Elandra replied. “You’ll have to patient to see the results, but as Renferell’s power is disrupted, you may open the door to other opportunities. The Gnoll attack will have to be somewhat convincing, but there aren’t really any good rangers around, so you should be able to trick Renferell and the town pretty easily.”

DM
It seems like your ideas are coming together nicely into a plan. Now you just need to decide how you are going to stage the Gnoll attack. Using some fur and weapons, plus perhaps a touch of magic, you could pull it off.

Or another option would be to fight some real Gnolls to get authentic—or maybe even convince them to do a real attack.

Let me know if there is anything else you want to decide or cover in this scene before we move on.

Eryx
The way I see it, we can stage an attack by gnolls by either a) killing some and using their equipment, bodies, etc. to look like they attacked, or b) just staging an attack ourselves making it look like gnolls as much as possible, but without any “hard evidence.” Asmodeus would defer to Tyrus and Gaimon’s opinion on how to best do this, as he has little field experience with such things. Gaimon would rather do option (a), both because it would be more effective and because it would allow him to do some violence rather soon. What is Tyrus’ opinion on the matter?
Whipblade
Sounds like we need to become more acquainted with the Gnoll population nearby. We should scout it out. We’ll either need to negotiate a deal with the Gnolls, or annihilate a few. Personally, I’m all for the negotiate option, as it has the benefit of being funnier. That, and people will get to see real gnolls. Maybe the gnolls simply need to lure the guards/farmers to us. Although I don’t fancy killing farmers.

“Well then, it sounds like we need to acquaint ourselves with the Gnoll population around here,” Tyrus replied. “They are nocturnal, so we should probably sleep in and get an afternoon start.”

“Agreed,” said Asmodeus. “We can kill a few and use their equipment and bodies.”

“I wonder if we could negotiate with them? They are a violent lot, so perhaps it wouldn’t take much encouragement to get them to attack of their own accord. Then we wouldn’t have to risk being seen in the attack.”

Asmodeus pondered Tyrus’ suggestion. “It is certainly worth a try. If they refuse we’ll just kill them anyway.”

After having concocted a plan, Asmodeus got up and ordered food. Elandra wished the group good luck and then made herself comfortable with some merchants sitting at the bar. Tyrus and Shandra soon went up to their room.

After nursing a few drinks, Gaimon also headed to bed, leaving Asmodeus alone watching the tavern patrons. The crowd was starting to thin out. The little bard had left, so the few remaining patrons all kept to their own tables.

Finally the wheels are in motion to rid this town of the idiot Fenferell, Asmodeus thought. He has let the town slowly die for far too many years.

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