While Skeeve is at the Mage’s Guild, Enoch visits the Archives to show them the completed book.
Councilman Relnar looks over the completed work. Clearly disappointed he states, “Well, a deal is a deal. Here is the promised reward.” He hands Enoch 5,000g. This is quite a sum for such a job.
Enoch offers him the book. Relnar looks down like Enoch is offering him the cookbook of a cannibalistic shaman, “I don’t have any use for it. You may keep it.”
While Enoch is at the Archives, Thordek finds a blacksmith that deals in custom-crafted weapons. He negotiates for a new hammer, one with his family crest on the face. The blacksmith tries to up-sell him with a number of useless options like silver trim, gold inlay, fancy types of wood for the shaft, exotic leathers for the handle, and so on. All of these would make the weapon more ornate and less practical. The Dwarf isn’t having any of it. At length the smith realizes that this is a hammer for crunching foes, not hanging over the hearth, and so he relents. Since all of the parts of the weapon are stock, only the head needs to be custom-crafted. They agree on a price, and Thordek is told his weapon will be done by tomorrow afternoon.
While this is going on, Thu’fir goes shopping and purchases a few healing potions, and a net.
Above the square where his comrades are engaging in commerce, Skeeve is standing in the observatory, examining the black cloud to the north. He realizes something: This is one of the tallest buildings in town (aside from the windowless Citadel) and yet only an elf could spot the cloud without the aid of a telescope. Since the city isn’t awash in telescope-bearing citizens with a penchant for watching the daytime horizon, it seems safe to conclude that the group of wizards in this room are the only people in town who know of this.
Skeeve suspects the cloud is Mordan’s doing. He feels he must speak to the queen. Below, he can see the bridge to the citadel is guarded and the gates are closed. He turns to the young elf, “How would someone go about talking to the Queen?”
Several people stiffen at that. They attempt to explain the This Just Is Not Done. You don’t ask to see the Queen. Skeeve insists. Someone suggests going to the office of city affairs and petitioning an official there.
The office in question is just a few doors over. He heads over and sees what can be done. Many commoners are standing in long lines, waiting to talk to an official for various reasons. This place seems to be a point where inhabitants from all over Mar Tesoro can come and appeal to the government. Most people seem to be here so that they can have an official arbiter resolve a civil dispute. Others are here to lodge complaints of one form or another. Skeeve makes some subtle inquiries. He doesn’t want to mention Mordan, so he’s having a hard time convincing people he has some valid reason to be taken seriously, much less have his case brought before a high-ranking official.
There doesn’t seem to be any line that leads to the Queen. In desperation, he simply locates the office of the highest city official he can find, and gets in the appropriate line.
Skeeve stands there for a while. He gathers some gossip on how the city works, but can’t figure out who to see about getting a meeting with the queen. Finally he gets bored and frustrated. He walks to the front of the line and says to someone, “Can I cut in? It’s very important!”
“Not for all the gold in Khelberg. Piss off.”
Skeeve protests, “I think someone might be trying to kill the Queen!”
When Skeeve mentions killing the queen, it was sort of the equivalent of saying, “Hijack a bomb”, to airport security. People around him gasp. Guards show up. He is dragged off. He knew this and anticipated this result, but figured it was the fastest way to get his story to the right people.
What follows is several hours of being bounced around from one office to another and answering the same questions a dozen times. The clumsy stupidity of the system allowed for some hilarious conversations that would nevertheless be hopelessly dull and unfunny to the reader.
This drags on for a while, and eventually Skeeve is placed under house arrest at the inn. The party meets him at his room and he explains what’s been going on.
The officials come back, and decide they want to question the entire party. They were then dragged though the levels of city officials. In the end, the party gave an account of their work for Noreeno and how the Lich got free. They show the phylactery (the orb). One city official decides he needs to call in some of the Mages the city keeps on retainer, so the orb can be destroyed. Then the party has to spend a bunch of time explaining why this is a Really Bad Idea.
This really did drag on for quite some time. Looking back, I think the guys were pretty patient with this.
As evening falls, the Office of City Affairs closes for the evening, and the party is released. However, their travel papers are taken away and they are told not to leave the city.
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