Another Kingmaker game
Akiros sighed as he lifted another spoonful of cold fish soup to his lips. The newly constructed pub was limited to only the most basic of local foods. The roads having been due to an unexpected snowstorm. Not that the food was what he came here for anyway. No, he came to hear what has been coming out of Fat Norry’s big mouth.
Lately Akiros had heard of rumors being spread regarding suspicious activities by his fellow council member Topper Red, a man whose position he had once vouched for. Akiros had followed the likely source of these rumors, Topper’s old friend Fat Norry, into this newly founded pub known as The Sweaty Fish. Once inside, Akiros ordered a bowl of the local soup of the month, took it to a table near the crowed bar Norry sat at, and waited.
For all his considerable bulk, Fat Norry was a quite a lightweight when it came to his drink. By his third mug of ale the man’s tongue would become loose enough to talk about nearly anything. After chugging down his first two drinks Norry took note of an improved quality to the ale and inquired with the barkeep, “Say, I don’t recall the local swill being half so fine last time I came in here. You haven’t gotten a new shipment from the north in through these snows, have you?”
“Ah, well that would be thanks to the good men on the council.” responded the barkeep. “Their new brewery managed to crack open a few decent kegs of ale.”
Fat Norry let out a short chuckle and nudged the man sitting next to him.“Well it’s good to hear that the council is managing to crack open something other than skulls. If you only knew the tales I could tell about that lot, but, well… Nah, I’m sure it’s nothing you fine gents would be interested in.”
Norry’s neighbor, intrigued by the opportunity for fresh gossip, asked, “What sort of tales would those be, friend?”
The lummox grinned, “Well, to tell you that I’ll need a fresh drink. This one seems to have disappeared.” After Norry’s new friend obliged the request, he took a deep gulp and began his tale, “You know that red headed fella, the councilor by the name of Topper Red? I happen to know for a fact that he’s the reason that Garry Burin, the retired mining foreman, went and disappeared. Apparently Mr. Burin didn’t take that kindly to the retirement that the council forced on him, started talking out, you know, making a bit of a fuss. Well, Topper tried to poison him he did. Couldn’t stand having no old men talking bad about the council, no sir.” With that Norry paused to gulp down that last of his drink. Akiros, meanwhile, was quite startled by the nature of this accusation. He had expected to hear about Topper’s womanizing, not murder.
One man from the crowd that gathered at the bar spoke up in protest, “What now here? Ain’t no bloody way that charming young lad would be no assassin! I met him once or twice; he seemed like a nice fellow, quite the ladies man. Besides, I ‘happen to know’ that Garry Burin left town on his own, and, less he froze on the way north, he’s still living!” Relieved to hear that at least one person in the crowd didn’t believe this tale, Akiros managed to swallow down another bite of his soup while trying to look inconspicuous.
Fat Norry’s cheeks jiggled as he let out another chuckle. “Left town on his own did he? Well he certainly did leave town, but why do you think he left in this weather? He was scared of what would happen to him! You see, Topper tired to poison the fella but it didn’t quite work out. Mr. Burin lived, and then fled so’s that the council couldn’t fix their mistake!”
The man’s protest continued, “They wouldn’t do that! The council is full of good, righteous folk. Sure, the general is a drunkard, but who isn’t!”
It was clear that most didn’t share his opinion as Norry again countered “Ha! If you think of that lot as righteous I must be a bloody saint! Mark my words, they rule through blood.”
“As a matter of fact,” Norry stopped all of a sudden, and leaned closer to the crowd with a worried look on his face as he whispered, “one of em might be in this very room listening to our conversation right now.” After a long silence, Norry burst into a deep knee slapping belly laugh, soon nervously followed by the rest of the crowd. “Oh, ho ho! Ah, sure, they probably go to The Sweaty Fish all the time just to enjoy a bowl of the fine cuisine!”
With Fat Norry’s all too true jest, and having heard all he needed, Akiros quietly made for the door. He must report this to the council and confront Topper to see if there really was some plot to kill off dissenters.