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Midsummer 1372, Night - kronk9
Midsummer 1372, Night
Cell is dark. Night dark, dark inside even when it still light outside. There torch on wall; enough light to see, but not to see very good.

There dripping water, too. Dark, ugly drip, drip, drip, it drive you crazy listening because there is no other sound, nothing but water and torch burning and empty sound bouncing off stone walls. It like they put it there on purpose. Maybe they did put it there on purpose.

That how it supposed to be in this cell. Kronk know this kind of cell. When they bring you here it mean they're not letting you go back.

Man across table is not really ugly. It just the look on his face.

"So," he say, moving some papers on the table. He taking his time; he's enjoying this. "It would seem, my large friend, that we have you."

His name Tagen, I think. Kronk's heard about him. Important guy in the Silverymoon guard, but secret. Most people never see him. Everyone says Silverymoon is good town, and it is. Dwarves and gnomes and half-orcs are all neighbors here. They help each other; they not fight. In other towns, the only reason someone get that close to someone else's house is to set it on fire.

Silverymoon not have much crime, or have people who hate each other--not like other towns Kronk been too, anyway. It good place.

But even good towns need bad people to work for them. Tagen is bad person.

He look through his papers. "Let me see...you're wanted for questioning in Quaevarr in regards to a theft, have at least two warrants from the Dalelands, and..." He whistle silently. "Oooo-weee. Yes, I think there is still a price on your head in Beliard. They don't take well to murder there."

So that baron framed me. Big surprise.

"Of course, I don't have to answer to any of those claims. You have a very big problem right here, with us. Do you know what this is?"

He put little silver thing on the table. Kronk seen it before; it one of the little trinkets Katri try to hold that noble for ransom, the same one they find on Kronk a few hours ago.

But Kronk not say anything. Kronk look at trinket, then at Tagen.

He quiet for a few minutes, then shake his head. Smile. "It doesn't matter if you know what it is or not. All you need to know is whoever has one and isn't supposed to will be in big trouble." He pick it up, wave it in front of Kronk. "You had one, Kronk. And you aren't supposed to. Care to explain how you came by this?"

Kronk not say anything.

"You're wiser than you look. It wouldn't matter if you told us how, Kronk, you'd end up in the same place anyway. We can't let these little things float around from hand to hand."

He sit back, make a gesture with his arms that take in the room, stone walls and all. "See all this? It's all you're going to be seeing from now on." He give a little smile, more to himself this time. "And keep in mind, that's your best option. The Lady Alustriel can ask for execution in cases of treason, after all."

Kronk know how this game played. He want something. Whole time he just building up to it. And now he sit there with grin on his face, waiting for Kronk to ask, plead, beg to save my life, to please please please not let Kronk rot in here.

But Kronk not plead. Kronk can't help without telling him about Katri, and Kronk not do that. Maybe Kronk stupid--Katri is reason Kronk in here. Katri planted trinket on Kronk, she must have. Kronk not know why she do that, it not like her at all. He could tell Tagen about her; maybe it what he really want. Maybe he let Kronk leave dungeon.

Except Kronk can't do that to Katri. Kronk come to Silverymoon once after fighting with ettercap in the Silverwood. Ettercap is nasty, Kronk never fought one before; they bite you with mouth like a giant cockroach, poison you and you not know it.

When Kronk get back to town, he not have any money. He need cure, not know where to get it. Katri find him, take him back to where she staying that week. She leave Kronk, come back a few hours later with stuff. She give it to me, and Kronk got better.

Kronk only find out later she have to spend everything she make that week for cure. Kronk won't hurt her no matter what she's done now.

Tagen not know any of that. But he patient man. He sit and stare at Kronk for long time. Only thing we hear is dripping water.

Tagen is sitting at table. Behind Kronk are two guards, blocking way to door. Kronk still quiet.

"Never do things the easy way, eh?" Tagen kind of smile to himself. "I thought I'd give you a chance to save your own hide. You can drown, or you can give us what we want."

Kronk puzzled. "Drown? Kronk thought they hang people in Silverymoon..."

Tagen look at Kronk for a minute, then give little head shake now. "I guess I was mistaken. You are as stupid as you look. Stupid enough not to know when you've been tricked."

Kronk feel his own fist tighten. Kronk can't help it. Tagen notice.

"Let me tell you a story. It starts with a little waif of a girl. She has a pretty smile and an easy laugh, and she can lure anyone under her spell. A half-orc fighter, fresh from the country, would be easy prey for a con artist like her."

He relax, settle back into his chair, enjoying his story. "Now say she's worked as a pickpocket for several years, made a decent living for herself, but she's getting bored. She sets her eyes for a bigger prize: Alustriel's sceptre. It's in the Silverymoon Palace, hard to get into; it's protected by magic wards. The only way to defeat them is to have a little piece of metal that breaks the effect.

"She's an excellent thief; it's easy enough to obtain them. She has to get several, of course; she can't be sure if they'll all work. And she might need help. So she gets a handful...say four."

Kronk get up, start pacing.

"But the sceptre is guarded closely; she can't just walk out with it, she needs a replacement, something to take its place while she gets away. So she has a forgery made. She has many contacts in the Silverymoon underground--proprietresses who deal in artifacts, perhaps--and gets her a fake sceptre.

"And then it all falls apart: the Silverymoon Guard, of which I'm a member,"--he give little smile--"catches wind of the plot, and begins to make inquiries. It couldn't have come at a worse time: she now has a bag full of incriminating evidence, and if they catch her, she knows she'll go away for a long time."

Kronk shake head. "Not know what you're talking about."

"Ah, but I bet you do. She needs a patsy. A few of them, in fact, people dumb enough to take the fall for her. And then a coincidence falls in her lap that must have had her singing praises to Mask: the Midsummer fair. A pickpocket can plant a token on people just as easily as she can relieve them of one. So she works her way through the crowd, spreading out the damning things like seed..."

"No, no..."

"Except for the sceptre. To get rid of that, she'd need someone especially big, especially dumb...especially drunk." He pause. "And if he thought she was his friend...so much the easier."

Kronk stop. Turn. At full height, Kronk taller than Tagen by a head and half. Look him in the eye. "You...not...know...what...you're talking...about."

"Oh, don't I? Face facts, Kronk." He narrow eyes. "That little slut set you up."

The table is heavy oak. Make loud sound when Kronk knock it over. "YOU LIE!!"

Tagen step back, not scared, but careful. Kronk pick up chair; Kronk not going to listen to this.


He look almost bored. "Before you splinter me like a piece of kindling, which I'm certain you can do," he say, and sound like he care, "take a look behind you."

Kronk turn. Both guards have crossbows, pointed right at Kronk. Kronk throw down chair, raise arms--Kronk done this before.

Everything quiet. Then Tagen pick up the chair, stand behind it. "We're done here. Take this man back to his cell."

"You mean that's it?" one of the guards ask.

Tagen nod, a little tired. "I think we've learned what we were supposed to."
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