We find our heroes ensconced in the hobsters’ Seeker-proof safehouse in the “new” part of Isengard. The Empress has been smuggled out of the city, and the party is left to watch and wait for the right moment to act.
Details are sketchy…
We discussed the possibility of some hobbit assistance if it comes to confrontation with the Nazgul.As for other events:
- sized up the forces within the city ( Empress & City guards)
- the Nazgul and 20-30 “Empress Guard” disappeared
- the Usurper seen (via the PalaceCam scroll) hanging out in the Empress’ Solarium; Thaliondor suggesting we go in, Guthwyn suggesting that it’s likely to be trap
- Nwalme unsuccessfully attempting to contact the Empress with news of the Nazgul and other forces’ movement
- Araphor suggesting a whisper campaign to undermine the Usurper’s authority in the city
- Nwalme missing contact with the Empress at the usual time the first day, but succeeding the second – finding her safe in Fangorn Forest
- Starting the whisper campaign, something vague about the Usurper not having the Empress’ true authority; is catches on a bit
- Two men organizing a “trade guild” meeting, discussing the situation with several plainclothes Empress Guard present, and Rene watching. The first man is about half right, but the gist of his arguments are right along the lines we’ve been promoting; the second one is subtly different, and with the urging of several Guardsmen, leads the crowd into marching against the Palace. The march is swiftly and brutally put down; several protesters are killed. The second speaker is seen being paid off by the formerly-dead lieutenant Guard, and is only perfunctorily imprisoned, unlike his counterpart.
- A “buzz war” starting, different versions of what happened at this massacre – some believing it was the Empress’ forces, some believing it was the Usurper’s… two factions of believers, each with a good orator. The two groups end up gathering more and more frequently, guards just watching them, until a time when they congregate at the same time, near each other… and the Usurper-supporting group thrashes the other group, being better armed.
- Usurper dispensing justice in the throne room more often, but fewer people showing up
- Finding out that the Empress has reached Moria
- The Usurper will be raising taxes still higher (Rene’s idea, to affect the conservatives more);
- The Empress is completely under the Usurper’s control, testified to by her well-known hobbit servant
We hear of a skirmish with the army of “evil” Arnor, to the north (King Beren’s men) at one point…
As the buzz escalates, the Usurper calls for a public audience with the Empress in a couple of days in response to pressures to see her. To explain her absence from the public eye, he claims she’s been deathly ill.
We leave the party with some measure of success in promoting its rumors/truths, but preparing for the imminent audience. There are two approaches under consideration: debunking the Usurper’s “Empress” directly, and creating our own illusory one elsewhere in the city to cast doubt over both…