RPG Story: Reconciling the Betrayer
Updated: Aug 11, 2021
Hi guys! This is the continuation of the story from this blog post about betraying the party, and this one about splitting up the party. I recommend giving those a read as they give you some background to what's happening in this story (and they go over some game-play tips!) If you don't read those, I'm afraid you're going to be woefully confused, as the following post is strictly narrative. I hope that won't scare you away, though, because I'm really proud of it and I'd love to know what you all think.
The following story took place in our last D&D session. There was a good amount of time in the middle where are DM, Scott, just happily listened to the story unfolding. If there's any take away from this as a player and DM, I'll offer these thoughts:
1) Players: Make connections and relationships with the other characters. Become interested in their story, supporting their moments, and give them an opportunity to shine. This doesn't have to rest solely on the DMs shoulders. You can shoot questions towards other players to get them involved in a scene.
2) DMs: Give those moments to your players where they can feel AWESOME. Rolling dice is good, but they are there to serve the story (in my opinion) and if a fail or success on a roll will serve that, go for it. But if you're finding you're having players roll for EVERYTHING, try pulling it back a bit. Allow certain things to happen automatically and let the story naturally flow.
Without further ado, I give you the continued adventures of "Books, Brains, and Booze," the adventuring party of The Crown of Gornabaĉ .
As the sun above Dothia lowered toward the horizon, the streets continued to quiet. Arafirith waited in the market for 20 minutes past 5 bells, growing ever more impatient, just as the large Firbolg came into view. Astromel apologised for being late.
"Where could Ophelia be? What if something happened?" Arafirith said, frowning. She continued to scan the thinning crowd, her mood souring by the second.
"Let's not jump to conclusions. How about we give her 10 more minutes before leaving," Astromel eased back against a low stone wall and Arafirith reluctantly agreed.
The room was dark. Thin beams of light cut through the faded curtains, allowing those in the room to faintly see the old stool, a simple table and the mattress on the floor. Laying on the mattress was David, sleeping soundly, using a large oiled leather coat of a dockworker as a blanket. Lerissa's invisible form stood over him like a lion watching its unassuming prey.
As silent as the grave, she went to work. His daggers were moved across the room. Using her picks, the lock on the door clicked closed, making sure they wouldn't be disturbed. She let Maurice out of her backpack and he hid in the corner, the coveted magic stone clutched between his teeth. Lerissa then straddled David, kneeling on the edges of the coat, and so pinning him underneath her. And with her short sword resting just above his throat, she took her dagger in her off-hand and slid it into his gaping, drooling mouth.
"Good morning, Sunshine," Lerissa whispered as his eyes snapped open, "Now, you're going to answer all of my questions, because it'll be much easier to talk with your tongue still attached to your mouth. Do you understand?" He nodded slightly and she slid the dagger out. He licked his lips nervously, eyes darting around searching for the form he could clearly feel above him but couldn’t see.
"Who were you taking the egg to?"
"I was going to take it back," David swallowed, feeling the cold invisible blade against his skin.
"Bullshit. Who are you working for?"
"Charity. Just like you... I was going to take it to her."
"Try again, David. I'm beginning to lose my patience... and you don't want me to lose my patience." As she spoke, she weaved her bardic magic into her words, reaching into his mind, and infusing it with fear. She could feel him tense beneath her, freezing under the weight of terror. "Where were you taking it at 7 bells? Where is the back door?"
"Oh, you know about 7 bells? ….Yeah, fine. That's at the Countess's Ball tomorrow night. I was going to meet the client."
"Who is it, David?"
"Lerissa... you don't want to know that-"
Lerissa pushed the sword into his throat, revealing a bead of red as it cut into the flesh. David took in a swift breath at the pain, his eyes clenched tight as he braced himself. When he opened them again, his captor was now fully visible. Her Tiefling form, a dark shadow in the dimly lit room, the silhouette of her curved horns, red furious eyes intensely staring into his, the short sword at his throat and the blade of a dagger dangerously close to his eye. The gravity of his position was fully realised.
"What's their fucking name," she hissed.
"I only know them as 'J'. I was working with Omir. The original heist... ya know... the one in Silverport. I was going to take the egg and cut the Coin out ... a job within a job, ya know? I called in the guards, was going to get away with the stone myself. Bypass the Coin and make some extra cash by taking it to Omir. He knows we were burglarizing his home, too, and let it happen. He knows. But I was going cut out Omir and meet the client at the Springfeast Ball and give them the stone directly."
Lerissa considered his words, taking in the deceptions, the betrayals upon betrayals.
"There's something you're not telling me, David. What is it?"
The half-elf man squirmed under the pressure, "There's bigger stuff happening, Lerissa... you don't want to know..."
"Tell me everything you know," she growled.
"It... they're part of a plan. To fix all this. They've got some solution."
"What's wrong with 'all this'? Who's 'they'?"
"What's wrong? You and I both have seen how fucked up the world is..."
"Is it something with the Chain?"
"That's some people in it. Not me. I just did the sneaking and stealing stuff. Thought if I got the stone to J first I could get in good with them, ya know? Do it myself, before Omir or anyone else. They... I'm part of something bigger, Lerissa. Thought I could make a difference somehow. I was going to meet J, bring him the stone,” he paused before admitting, “...and I was going to tell him you guys had a second one too." At that point, David deflated, "I'm not going to make it out of this room, am I?"
Lerissa looked at David, his blond hair dirty and unkempt. His green eyes from his Elven heritage. She could see the residue from the glue he used to adhere the fake nose to his face. It was a sad sight from the opulence they had shared in high society parties and blackmailing nobles. More jobs they had worked in the past flooded her mind; the laughs they had shared, the drinks. The first time they met, a few years before. He had become someone that she loosely trusted - as much as one could within the Coin - but that was gone. He had found himself seeking favour with a cult claiming to have the “solution.” And the original heist was still in question. Did everyone work for someone else?
"David... you broke the rule… don't steal from those within the trade."
He opened his mouth to reply but was cut short as Lerissa drove her short sword into his side. He screamed in agony as the blade drove deep. As it made contact, Lerissa released a few words of Infernal, sending the guttural music deep into his mind as if each word was another blade. Blood poured from his ears and nose. He jerked against the coat in an attempt to throw Lerissa off, but he couldn't gain purchase. She responded by driving the short sword upward, cutting into his lungs. And with one quick motion, she drew her dagger across his throat. She hadn't noticed the tears falling down her face until it was over and his unconscious body bled out on the mattress.
Someone smashed into the door, causing it to splinter. The sudden noise pulled Lerissa back to the moment and once more she went to work. She couldn't be found here. The guards would be coming soon.
"David! I know you're in there!" It was Ophelia. She'd found them. Probably by using the scrying mirror. They must've left that morning to get here by now. Lerissa didn't respond but made short work of David's pockets and bag. There was a very ornate, curved dagger with a jade hilt, a pouch with some gold, his hip flask, and a journal. She tucked it all away and just as she was finishing, the door burst open.
Ophelia stood in the doorway, taking in the sight. David's corpse drenched in blood, Maurice's little head sticking out of his hiding spot in the corner, and Lerissa, blood splattered across her front and tear stains on her cheeks.
"Why?" was all that the Moon Elf could manage. She, herself, was covered in her own blood, sweat and tears, and catching her breath from running across town.