The party awoke after their first night in their new keep to find that Grinkle had erected a small shrine to Grimnir and was kneeling before it, scouring his flesh raw with a pumice stone and reciting prayers of thanksgiving. Yeah, Grimnir got his first worshiper.
Melastasya and Tvoja took a stroll around their new lands and decided that they should immediately start working on making it profitable. The party loaded up the small wagon, hitched up the old worn-out pony, loaded it with a hastily cut-down tree (in which they hid their vast wealth), and headed back to Phlan.
After navigating through the slums, unopposed thanks to Grimnir’s inherent creepiness, they stopped at the gates and pontificated at length about their plans to turn Kryptgarten into a proper freehold, specifically recruiting all of the people that sailed over from Hillsfar to come settle and work there. Professor Aiderns sought out Professor Drummons and the two of them began rounding up the settlers, as well as anyone else in the slums who showed bubo scars or other signs of having survived the plague—so as to encourage considerable herd immunity in the Kryptgarten population.
The others went to the town square where Markos was being officially inducted into the Council. As his first official act, Markos named Grimnir “Squire of Kryptgarten”, the first minor noble of New Phlan, making much ado about the party reclaiming the keep and “securing Phlan’s northern border”. They made plans to meet Markos at the Bitter Blade for dinner to discuss any other work that he might have for them, then went and enrolled at the Public Training Hall.
Tvoja and Melastasya cashed in their letter of introduction from Markos with Professor Lype. Grminir payed Professor Shanal for some private tutoring, giving him 500 gold under the table, as it were.
They then went and found Markos who, over a nice dinner, informed them that he wanted to ‘consolidate his position’ quickly by means of arranging an advantageous marriage—specifically to Elissa Bivant, the ward of Head-Councilman Ulrich Eberhard and heir to a considerable fortune (and heir to a seat on the Council which she cannot occupy by virtue of her gender). He explained that his brother had courted her years ago, when she was just 10, and that Porphyrys Cadorna represented the current competition.
The party set to work laying plans for some match-making, as well as the future of their keep. Grimnir rented out the entire Bitter Blade for the evening to throw a party, inviting all of the Councilmen and other “people of quality” in the city, under the auspices of celebrating his ennoblement and the Autumn Equinox, which was today.
During the day, Melastasya worked the city, dropping 1000 gold crowns to buy up all of the honey in town, and shipping that, along with a number of livestock (pigs, hens, goats, and sheep) and brewing gear (a still, descensory furnace, tubing, barrels) back to the keep.
Tvoja worked her contacts to learn the financial status of the various councilmembers, learning that Councilmen Eberhard and Folbre were both extremely wealthy, as was the Bishop, but that Councilman Cadorna was basically destitute—his family fortune largely tied up in lands in the older and not yet reclaimed sections of town.
When evening came, the party settled in for a party—Traithe, very convincingly dressed as a girl, dealing cards, Melastasya waiting tables, Grimnir playing the host, and Tvoja watching the proceedings from the shadows and providing insight. In attendance were Councilman Eberhard and Elissa, Councilman Werner von Urslingen and his wife Edeltraud, Bishop Braccio of Tyr, accompanied by the card-shark priestess, Sister Erol, Markos, accompanied by his sister Karistina, Councilman Aldron Folbre, accompanied by his sister Trea, and Councilman Porphyrys Cadorna, who arrived alone.
Melastasya engaged Elissa in conversation, being of an age with her, and was invited to become one of her maids, meanwhile working to understand what the girl wanted and how she might be won.
The evening began with a friendly (though high stakes) game of cards—Markos, Porphyrys Cadorna, Werner von Urslingen, Aldron Folbre, Ulrich Eberhard, and Sister Erol (playing on behalf of the Bishop) playing, and Traithe dealing.
Porphyrys was caught cheating early on, but was sufficiently embarrassed by Melastasya spilling a tray of drinks on him that he was not ejected from the game. Traithe managed the table masterfully, arranging for Folbre and Eberhard to win the first several hands and considerably raising the stakes, such that Porphyrys was forced to wager the deed for part of his family’s lands to stay in the game, causing everyone else to offer up deeds as part of the wager as well. Traithe attempted to rig the last hand in Markos’s favor, but that plan failed when Markos, strangely, asked for a completely new draw. By shear luck, the stone-faced boy won anyways, gaining possession of the following lands:
- The priory of St. Conrath of the Woods, a Tyrran parochial holding near Melvaunt (from the Bishop). The priory lands include some fairly profitable sheep farms, but the priory itself has had issues attracting new novices and had fallen into disrepair and is mostly unused.
- An old textile factory on the north-western side of Old Phlan, which was the largest of the remaining Cadorna lands.
- An large manor-house on the north side of Old Phlan, near the old temple of Tyr, which belonged to the Eberhard family.
- Three, very profitable, blocks of residential tenements in the city of Mulmaster from Aldron Folbre.
Grimnir and Markos used Porphyrys’s deed as leverage, signing the lands back to him with the condition that he would never pursue Elissa Bivant, and having the Bishop, the city’s chief judge and legal expert, witness the contract—his cooperation gained by Markos bequeathing the priory back to the diocese as a “gift”. Markos kept his winnings from Eberhard and Folbre, of course.
The party continued to shmooze for some time after the game wound down. They learned that Folbre was rather openly gay (and that apparently he and Markos had a thing going on occasion, and that he had had a thing going with Urslingen’s son back in Hillsfar a couple years ago). Grimnir put the moves on him, resulting in the councilman hanging on his arm most of the evening.
From Elissa they learned that her terms for marriage basically boiled down to getting out from under Eberhard’s thumb and gaining full possession of her family’s rightful seat on the Council—a thing that would require a change of the current laws which forbid women from sitting on the council. Markos tentatively agreed, assuming they could find a way to rewrite the inheritance laws so that he would not lose his seat to his older sister.
The party began angling for how to create a voting coalition to get such a thing passed. The Council seemed pretty split, with three young ones and three old, with the Bishop holding a non-voting seat to avoid creating a tie condition (also since Tyr’s priests are supposed to enforce the laws that exist, not change them). Folbre seemed an obvious ally, since they could agree to help legalize same-sex relationships in exchange for his vote to allow women on the council. They had already used their leverage over Porphyrys, and Eberhard had a clear reason to oppose granting any agency to Elissa. Which left Werner von Ursligen as the deciding vote on the matter.
They saw their possible leverage as:
- Get him into a fairly obvious extra-martial affair (a thing illegal and punishment by being thrown over the wall, naked and unarmed, in the middle of the night), and blackmail him into a yea vote.
- Get his son caught publicly engaging in a same-sex relationship (similarly illegal).
- Play to his racism and agree to vote for Phlan to become human only in exchange for his vote on the gender issues.
Traithe, in female form, attempted to seduce Urslingen over cards later with a mixture of flirtatiousness and a display of not-quite-perfect knife work. She got a very innuendo-laden invite to come to his house in the morning for “private training”. She arrived the next morning to find that the innuendo wasn’t, Urslingen really did teach him/her how to properly handle a pole-arm and sheath a sword, providing Traith with a week’s worth of free, intensive training for his next level of Fighter. Urslingen also agreed to come out to Kryptgarten to provide basic training to the settlers so that they could defend themselves from future hobgoblin attacks.
Grimnir spent a week attending Francis Urslingen’s very hands-on fencing lessons at the Training Hall, which involved a fair amount of going out into the slums and butchering mostly harmless goblins, orcs, and mongrelmen (and at least one dwarf). With some carefully planned flirting and spurning of an attractive female student, he let his interest in men be known to Francis and the two grew quite close…at which point he learned that, for all that Francis was interested in him, the monk was very strictly lawful and would not act on that interest. Which prompted Grimnir to talk Francis into petitioning his father to vote in favor of gender-rights when if it came up in the Council (which of course it will).
The party spent the next week completing their training requirements, hauling more settlers out to Kryptgarten, getting them set up farming (bees, sheep, pigs, poultry, grapes) and brewing (mead…lots of mead), and working with Councilman Urslingen to train the most promising so that they could help defend the keep against the hobgoblin reinforcements they expected to be arriving in a couple of weeks.
A total of 120 settlers made it out to Kryptgarten and, aside from some distrust of ‘The Squire’ settled in quite well. The former cultists of the Chaos Messiah joined Grinkle (with some prodding from Tvoja) in setting up a strange pantheist shrine worshiping Chauntea (goddess of agriculture), Mask (god of thievery and political intrigue), and Grimnir (whom Grinkle and the cultists insist is the demon-prince of personal hygiene).
Grimnir, meanwhile, continued his study of the Tract of Teratology, learning that the resultant creature, and it would indeed be a creature, would have vast flaps of translucent skin and spines growing from back, where it displays the severed heads and dried entrails of its victims.
We’ll be picking up from here…