The PCs again rendezvous with Tiadora. She is bedecked brilliantly in all white, looking like a traveling noble on the way to her wedding. She escorts the PCs through the bustling dock city of Farholde.
She takes them to the nicest part of town, a gently sloping hill called Calliver’s Green (see the Gazetteer for more details). This is a gated community and she approaches the guard confidently. “Baron Vandermir is expecting us,” is all she says.
“Of course, my lady. This way,” the somewhat nervous guard answers after consulting a list. Rook manages to sneak a peak, the list reads, “Expect a lady in white and her retinue. Be polite. She has powerful friends. —V.”
There are only six manors in this neighborhood and Tiadora leads the PCs to what is arguably the most impressive and opulent of them. The front door is secured by two guards wearing armor and livery. The guards are polite but firmly insistent that weapons are collected. “No stranger may go before the Baron so armed.”
Arken recognizes that the livery is a variation on the heraldry of House Barca, the royal line deposed by the current Darian regime, and that it marks the guards as servants of the Baron of Westell and Mir, farming towns south of Farholde.
The PCs are relieved of their weaponry (save for a few magically hidden ones), and are brought into the receiving room of the manor. Within this room are the cities most respected individuals being served hors d’oeuvres, wine and a regional brew of beer. The PCs decide to avoid too much discussion, for fear of revealing their true intentions.
As the night passes, all other guests leave, typically in groups. The PCs are escorted to a dining room where they finally meet the Baron himself.
Baron Arkov Vandermir is a handsome half-elf dressed in burgundy and white. He looks quite young, even boyish, but he is more than a century old. His eyes betray a calculating, wicked soul. Introductions are given, and dinner is served; a full 5 course meal of regional delicacies, including some of the finest ales and wines.
Once dinner is complete and the servants are dismissed, the Baron becomes frank. “You come to me as beggars, the last remnants of a forbidden faith. You will promise me much, of that I have no doubt. But all that I am likely to earn from helping you is the inquisitor’s pyre. Tell me, why should I help the likes of you?”
The PCs begin making diplomatic pleas, with no real success. After all, promising a man who’s already the most powerful in the area more wealth and power doesn’t outweigh the value of his life. He counters and is quick to dismiss their offerings.
Suddenly Sir Bruce grows angry with the nature of the Baron’s language, and bursts forth with a truly intimidating threat; if he doesn’t help, he will continue to find himself under the rule of not only a House he despises, but also of a religion that wants him dead, and that his lack of conviction will be his demise…. This sticks with the Baron, and despite his initial bluster, the Baron wants to help them. He has lived his entire life in the shadow of House Darius. His hate for the House and their sun god is a mile wide.
Finally, with his guard broken, the Doctor makes the case of how helping the Knot will only help him in return, and also reinforces that if he chooses the losing side he will find his fortunes and power extinguished. Finally, he expresses his desire to help, and explains how he can.
First, he can provide the party with accomodations and a safe house. His manor is not only opulently appointed with every amenity known to man, it also has a secret tunnel that runs from Calliver Green to a small nondescript hovel at the base of the hill. The PCs can come and go at will without anyone observing their movements.
Second, he can grant the PCs almost total legal immunity in Farholde. As long as they are not caught redhanded doing some heinous deed, his word that they were with him excuses every suspicion of their involvement in a crime. He is loathe to use this influence too much. After all, while the local magistrates are easy to deal with, blatant crimes may eventually draw Mitran inquisitors to Farholde.
Third, he has contacts among the shadier merchants who operate in and around Farholde. He can give the PCs access to poisons and more sinister magic items. He can also fence any items they’ve recovered that may be difficult to otherwise sell.
Fourth, he is a negotiator without peer. If the PCs need someone charmed, bribed or persuaded there are few more qualified people in all of Talingarde to aid them than the Baron.
With the introduction to the Baron accomplished, Tiadora’s mission in Farholde is complete. She reminds them of the small clay tablet given to them by Cardinal Thorn. “Break it when you need to speak with the Master. Be sure not to waste his time. He can be most unforgiving about that. The Seventh Knot is already close at hand.
They arrive tomorrow on a river barge named ‘The Lucky Lady’. You should meet them and come up with a plan for seeing our master’s will done. It matters not to me of course. Not my problem. Goodbye, dearest, and good luck.” And with that, she teleports away to her next assignment.