Emperor Marcus took over the baronial palace as a temporary headquarters while overseeing the reintegration of Vastia into the Avernian Empire. The Vastian nobles portrayed themselves as having been forced to go along with Smyrgway the Third’s schemes. As far as they knew, Argus seemed like the real Imperial heir and the capitulation to the Craggen was difficult to resist with both Argus and Smyrgway supporting it. Given the generally opportunistic and craven nature of Vastian nobility they were eventually allowed to swear fealty and resume their rank in the empire.
Commander Keffin was seen all over the city in the week after its fall. In his wake, disagreements swiftly vanished and chaos was restored to order with rather unusual precision and alacrity.
Baroness Frangelica Castica and her son Esteban arrived by ship from Neveria bearing the prisoner Smyrgway IV, and the sad news that Baroness Homily Neveria had passed away shortly after learning of Marcus’ victory.
There were a few notable exceptions to that Vastian’s “just following orders” narrative.
Smyrgway the 3rd’s second son, something of a blacksheep of the family, name TBD1 (not in my notes) had been banished for not going along with the typical Smyrgway dishonorable behavior. Novius advised that he be recalled to the city of Vastia and evaluated as a candidate for taking over the barony.
The lesser noble TBD2 had bought into Smyrgway’s schemes hook line and sinker. He didn’t even attempt to deny anything is is awaiting trial for high treason.
Smyrgway the 3rd’s first son, Smyrgway the 4th, had been previously captured while operating against Castica along the Castican/Vastian border. He too played up the story that he had simply been going along with this father’s orders. Novius was having none of it having recalled his role in the near capture of Marcus and Baroness Castica in Bella Locale, as well as Smyrgway the 4th’s surly and viperous words which falsely prophesied that they would all beg for his father’s mercy when Marcus’ false imperial regime was at last cast down. Smyrgway the 4th will be held over for trial. Terhali kindly offered to kill him for us, but the emperor wisely refused as that is not how things are done in the empire. As neutralizing troublesome southern nobility had been a large part of his career, Novius subtly indicated that Smyrgway IV was doomed regardless.
Ella the shapechanger continued to try to press her case with Emperor Marcus. The Emperor asked Novius to handle the situation. A long and somewhat rambling interview followed. It rambled because Terhali insisted on advancing her own agenda to reestablish the guild of the Red Leaves and desired Ella’s expertise in several matters. Terhali relented on her recruitment effort and kindly offered to help Ella find peace of mind regarding her past crimes.
Ella expressed her desired to have no further part in violence and to never see another Craggen again. She also expressed regret, without specifically saying so, for having murdered the original Ella to take her form. She preferred to keep looking like Ella (an attractive northern farm girl) due to positive emotional resonance with it. Ella had been born in Craggen captivity and had known no others of her kind other than her mother. The Craggen had killed her mother for disobedience, so Ella had no people left. The Craggen had identified her people as being one of a race constructed by one of the warring factions during the arcana wars. Having no people, and not really known any life other than slavery, Ella was rather directionless. Novius offered to grant her limited freedom within the Empire as long as she followed its laws and provided information about the Craggen, and agreed not to call upon Marcus. Ella accepted, then went off with Terhali to a shrine of the Raven Queen where she received some welcome counseling from its priest.
The Vastian nobles arranged a feast to celebrate Emperor Marcus’ victory. Esteban’s gift of a lovely blue dress to Oli arrived while she was being visited by Gareth and Terhali. Terhali’s dressing assistance did not go over particularly well and ultimately Oli decided to forgo the dress in favor of her usual armor. Terhali and Gareth also explained that Esteban was in fact playing court to her. Based on the fact that Esteban had been widowed within the week, Oli took offense to his not observing a proper mourning period. Oli made no allowances for the rather political and arranged nature of the marriage.
At the ball itself, the Vastian nobles made their oaths of fealty to Marcus. The companions of the Emperor were each honored for their contributions to his victory. Commander Keffin was thanked for his invaluable service in this matter, but no details regarding those services were made public. Esteban sought a dance from Oli and she confronted him with his improper behavior as a widower. Esteban made several reasonable counter pleas, but was unable to significantly defrost Oli’s icy dwarven sense of propriety. Terhali danced the Tarantella with Esteban, but made sure that he was aware of her quite serious threat to take vengeance upon him if he hurt Oli through his romantic overtures.
Terhali’s refreshing brusqueness also broke through Commander Keffin’s customary diffidence and he was actually seen to be enjoying himself at the party, in her company. They had shown up to the ball together wearing matching tuxedos in the very latest style, but Terhali later changed into a more appropriate gown for dancing. Keffin was actually seen happily at ease for the first time in anyone’s memory. He seemed greatly satisfied with himself, but never revealed why.
Deacon Novius and Baroness Frangelica shared several dances, after she persuaded him to forgo his wary guardianship over the proceedings. Their years long custom of flirtation took a more serious turn as the night progressed.