Winter in Hieron 16: Is There Anyone Else?

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Background[edit | edit source]

Episode description[edit | edit source]


War is coming to Velas. Ordenna is coming to Velas. And while I believe in the strength of the Velasian people and in the resolve of the church and, as much as I would hate to admit it, in the benevolence of Ordennan occupation, I cannot continue to serve our lord if I need to worry about my family, about Rosana and Benjamin living under the heel of Ordennan rule. Of my actions potentially impacting them, of them not getting to see me come home. I know this is a big ask, I need you to get my family to Rosemerrow.

There is another matter that weighs on my mind, Exarch, but I do not know that I have it in me to do what must be done. If you do not hear from me again, we will leave it at that. But if you receive a second letter, please know that it does not come without consideration.

Yours in Service to Him,

Hadrian, Sword of Samothes, Defender of the Undying Fire, Officer of the Order of Eternal Princes

This week on Friends at the Table: Is There Anyone Else?


You offered me a journey to peaceful exile. Well, there is a hill to the south of Rosemerrow, northeast of the Dwarven settlement of Wharfhurst. Wait for me there three weeks from now, at the rising of the second moon. You'll understand the moments our eyes meet.

Your pupil,


Plot[edit | edit source]

Roseheart jail[edit | edit source]

Fero and Throndir arrive at Roseheart Criminal Custody, hoping that Victoria Solomon will now be available to speak to, but she's still locked up in the interrogation room. Knowing that the only ways in are by force or by stealth, Fero tunnels into the room as a giant vole and sees the shriveled, possibly dead bodies of two interrogators on the ground and Victoria seated in the corner, relaxed, with her feet propped up on the table. Fero opens the door for Throndir and, with a flash, the robed figure of Arrell appears in the room behind Fero. Seeing him there, Victoria stands and puts on her hat.

As the two deputies ignore Arrell's suggestion to leave, there is an inward pulse; Arrell seems to deflect something away from himself and the other two feel drained. As Arrell lifts his hand and begins an incantation under his breath, Throndir shoots Arrell with an Arrow of the Word Eater. In doing so, he learns that Arrell sees value in having someone who is not traditionally alive in The Study; he doesn't know what happens if he puts a vampire in one. Throndir also learns that Arrell is on the lookout for Gloria; though less powerful, she could still pose a threat. Recognizing this, Throndir sends Kodiak to fetch her.

Fero tunnels a hole in the ceiling as a possible escape route as Arrell launches magic missiles at Victoria. As another, more powerful, inward pulse hits, and a mist of blood can be seen in the air as it's pulled from them. Fero shifts back to halfling form and yells for her to stop doing that and try something else. Grimly, Victoria complies and condenses the mist into a glowing red blade with which she begins to attack Arrell, who, as he fends her off, slams his staff into the ground and releases a black fog.

Throndir draws the orange orb from the tower and his Ordennan sword and, with it, breaks Arrell's staff. However, Arrell had arranged a fireball spell to be cast upon his staff being broken. A single drop of fire hits the ground and puffs up, bouncing between the droplets of mist and gaining a sickly greenish glow as it engulfs the room.

Throndir enters the realm of Tristero and finds himself in the throne room of Nacre, surrounded by the same black fog. Sitting on the throne is Adelaide, Queen of Death.

"I knew one of you would make it eventually, but I didn't think it would be the Ranger," she tells him, and beckons him to take a seat on the ground in front of her. Adelaide gives Throndir an offer; with a wave of her hand, she shows him the nothing that surrounds Hieron and says that he could fall into it and become at rest, "a rare offer, these days." Alternatively, he can return to the living world and owe her a favor, which she will call upon at a later date.

In the jail, Victoria continues fighting, hurt but with the upper hand against the impaired Arrell, with her sword glowing bigger and brighter each time it cuts into him. Arrell manages to pick up the two pieces of his staff and snap them together, retreating in a flash that scorches the ground.

Throndir feels a tug on the scruff of his neck that feels like an offer, and a bit of heat on his chest where his badge has been placed. He now has two offers available; he could take Adelaide's and remain living, or become a vampire and join the Golden Lance. Drawing on Kindrali's knowledge, he decides to take the latter choice, returning to the room with a headache and flush cheeks.

Gloria and Kodiak arrive, having missed everything. Kodiak can tell something is different, but Throndir is still Throndir. Victoria sits back down, and the others stay, now all connected as suspects.

Major Crimes Division[edit | edit source]

Adaire wakes Sol Cider-Brew up and brings him into the Major Crimes Division, where she learns from a junior detective that, much to their bosses' chagrin, they have not detained anyone for Lutz's murder yet. She then meets with Chief Investigator Bray Tevilton who recognizes her from a wanted sketch and curtly addresses her by her birth name, 'Addie', and scorns the idea that she is now with the Golden Lance. Told that the department only has the resources to take one suspect into protective custody, she decides to hand Sol over in exchange for the department keeping Blake Bromley until past the point at which their execution will be politically useful.

"Look out for your own, huh?" Tevilton asks.

"That's not it at all," counters Adaire. "We're dealing, you know, we're dealing with some fucking magical nonsense and people are apprehending someone who steals vases and shit? Like, it's not—it's stupid."

"The rest of it's all smart? No, that's fine."

"No, I mean, it's all pretty stupid, but, like, you tied my hands here. What am I gonna do, pull my knife on you and make you free everyone? No."

Tevilton tells her he couldn't do that if he wanted, and to let the Golden Lance know that they held up their end of the bargain. He tells her that he believes there is another suspect who they will stop at nothing to locate, but they can't be everywhere.

"That's a nice thing you can tell people when the gnolls kick off some sort of fuckin' war with you guys. I'll be out of town, so."

"You want me to free Mother Glory, I'll go free Mother Glory."

"No, no, I'm just saying."

"Don't put this on me, Ducarte."

"This isn't my town. I'm leaving. Like, what the fuck does it matter to me."

"That's a bigger question, then. If you just keep walking away, you'll never believe in anything. I'll be here when the riots happen, or whatever comes next. I'll keep trying to make things good. You keep walking away."

Finale[edit | edit source]

A dozen guards have surrounded Victoria's interrogation room and the two drained guards have been pulled away. Kel Carolina ushers the others into the room and say they want to hear it all before they make the final call about what to do, perhaps not realizing how hard it is to hold the Golden Lance. Victoria asks the deputies a series of questions about their investigation.

Question Responder Answer Take XP?[note 1]
What happened to Chancellor Lutz? Adaire Arrell is making pocket dimensions to put people in to search for a solution to the Heat and the Dark. Lutz is in one of those and probably not dead. Yes
What created the three scorch marks in Lutz's bedroom? (One on the balcony, one near the window, and one through the bed and into the wall) Hadrian One was for whisking Lutz away, one was for escaping, and one was some sort of offensive blast. No[note 2]
When and where is Ordenna invading the continent? Lem When the next snowstorm happens, they will target Velas. Yes
Who destroyed the New Old Museum? Ephrim Arrell did it. No[note 3]
Who made the hilt? Fero Samothes Yes
Where has Arrell gone? Hella He goes in and out of his magic bubbles and is headed for the New Archives. Yes
Where is the Sect of the Dark Sun headquartered in Hieron? Throndir The City of First Light No[note 4]
What should the Golden Lance do about the undead? Hadrian The Ordennan method is flawed and should be stopped before it kills a lot of people. We can solve this, we don't need to just put a torch to the world. If you agree
Which of the following should the Golden Lance be prioritizing: the wizard Arrell, the star-folk, the Cult of the Dark Sun, or the schism of the New Archives? Throndir It's Arrell. Arrell created a puppet that became my good friend, and then he took all that away. If you agree

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

Fero goes alone to the site of Mother Glory's execution. The snow has turned to hail, with thunder and lightning. When asked about the contract, he tells her they're looking for it.

"I don't know if there's anything I can do to stop this," Fero says.

"Did you try?" asks Mother Glory.

"I thought one of my friends was helping, and then she didn't."

"What did I tell you about counting on people, and how disappointing it can be?"

"I didn't have any other choice. There was no time."

"I don't want my last moments to be teaching a halfling a lesson. But there's always time. Sometimes you've just already spent it."

Mother Glory is prodded onstage with spears. Jerod Shiraz watches, seeing what Rosemerrow thinks of justice and considering if she made the right call deciding who to side with. Obelas, no longer in Viridian Village, watches as well.

Not long after, Fero receives a request to meet with the gnolls in the woods to the southeast. On the way he sees infrastructure he never knew existed, including gnoll paths on the ground and tree branches cut to create roads within the branches. Fero is led to a central village where he meets with a somber Chatterchin, who tells him that the gnolls are lacking leadership and direction, and is asked if he will help.

"If you say it's real," Chatterchin explains, "you know people now, you know Kel, you know all sorts of people who could help if you just—listen, Lutz made it so we could go in there if we had an advocate with us, someone who said we were allowed to be there, a real halfling with a real bloodline, like you, and if you help us, we could, maybe… I mean, you're no Mother Glory, you're a little short, but?"

"Yeah, I'm a little short."

"Heh. Just a joke."

"Is there anybody else?"


"No, I mean, is—I'm curious."

Chatterchin tells Fero they've worked with other halflings sometimes but he is the only one they've brought to the village. Blake is okay but not good with politics, not to mention in jail.

"Anyway, it's not… we all have a lot, I guess, in life."

Closing narration[edit | edit source]

And I think things unfold for the rest of the suspects too. Stornras Glasseye and the Chief-Justiciar Qinta Quatróna apprehend and behead Iduna Fel. Stornras is there, upset but silent. He was her friend, but it was his duty. He feels in his heart that he was betrayed by you, Hadrian. He recognized a familiar taste for justice in you. For his part in Fel's capture and execution, he is given her commission, no longer Captain or Adjutant, he is Justiciar now, and he has the badge, the blade, and the small detachment of Anchor to prove it.

Ariana Slayton, who no one ever checked in on, hears a knock at her door and receives from two guards explaining her execution and the ingredients for a very special cocktail. The treasonous rich don't face spears; they drink themselves to death.

I said before that there is a point at which it becomes less politically valuable to execute someone, even a traitor, that if you're too late you've missed the window of opportunism. And yet, two weeks later, Lenny Lenova is led to the central square of Westshore-upon-Sea. He is paraded around in front of his former subjects, and he's executed, under the moonlight. But this is not an apolitical act or a devotion to honesty or righteousness. It's just another new political play. People are already saying that the sergeant who's cleaning up Westshore has a bright, bright future.

Sol Cider-Brew waits in a cell, confident that Arrell will come and save him, but Arrell doesn't come. It's hard to work that particular spell without a fully-functioning staff. Worse yet for Sol, his jailor is perceptive. When it is time for Sol's execution, it is done with Ordennan steel. Men like that do get theirs. Some just have a little extra time first.

Blake Bromley, on the other hand, is taken to protective custody by the major crimes unit.

[Janine] I wanna be there for that.

[Austin] That's okay, that's good. Are you just in the Mills, waiting for them to show up?

Probably like, leaning against a wall, sort of, you know.

Tevilton's probably there too, just, like, looking over his glasses as he's doing paperwork, and Blake is brought in in handcuffs, and Blake is like, "All right, all right, you don't need to be so pushy! Geez! Knew i could trust you, Adaire."

"Well, I made a promise."

"Sometimes a thief doesn't keep a promise."

"Well, not every thief has a good understanding of valuables. Some valuables can't be stolen. Some have to be paid for."

They give you a little wink and they say, "I get what you're saying. You're saying I'm great."

"That's pretty much what I'm saying."

And then the guard knees Blake in the back and says, "You're still under arrest, pal! Let's go!" And they lead them to a cell that's higher up in the mill. But they will not be executed, and will likely be released or just serve some jail time for theft, or something. Tevilton's still trying to work it out.

Every few nights after that, a new star falls in the distance. and under that uncanny light, Hieron moves. Ordennan warships drift into position just beyond view of Velas. Alyosha, interim Prelate and Exarch of Samothes, begins to gather a Velasian flock to flee the artillery. The Cult of the Dark Sun spreads its message of peaceful hopelessness while Arrell keeps his sights on the New Archives, but he doesn't move yet. He has some repairs to attend to first, and, after all, he's very good at not being seen, and very, very, patient. And there, somewhere, deep to the south, the Boy King Matured, the Last Wolf Alive, Samot, looks with disdain at pieces on a board. There just isn't enough time.

[Art] Austin, I have one more thing I need to do. I need to ask for help.

"Alyosha, I know we haven't worked together long, and I know that I'm already asking a lot of you, but I need one more thing. I need you to get me in front of Arrell. I need his help."

Cast[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Unlike in the Seasons of Hieron Holiday Special, members of the party take experience for every 'correct' answer.
  2. Though the players were right about the offensive blast (on the bed, from breaching the room) and the one on the balcony (from Lutz being transported), they needed more specific information about the one by the window, which was from the magic flash paper used by Blake Bromley to escape.
  3. Although the players were purposefully lying, assuming that they had been responsible themselves for the fire that destroyed the museum, Austin indicated that was not entirely the case.
  4. Austin showed the players an answer, which he said came directly from what Obelas had said to Ephrim and Hadrian. He also would have accepted Canton, the dwarven encampment to the south where the Golden Lance had been investigating.

See also[edit | edit source]