The queen left the meeting first, after inviting all the dignitaries to attend a ball at the Royal Palace that evening to celebrate the alliance. The gathered nobles began to cluster into knots of gossip and speculation or to go their separate ways. Max, struck with a sudden inspiration, dives for his portable alchemy kit, disregarding his surroundings and the odd looks coming from those who take note of him.
Franzibald Amkathra struts over to the party, for no other reason than to deliver backhanded compliments about their defensive stand against the barbarians and insults which he doesn’t even bother to veil regarding the clothing and appearance of “Springland” and his retinue. Kael, taking to his role, brushes Amkathra off coolly, making excuses regarding the rigors of the journey. When he asks Amkathra for help in his situation, Amkathra is both wrongfooted and indignant, but he quickly takes the opportunity to offer the assistance of one of his pages.
The nobleman is careful to instruct the boy to subtly sabotage Springland’s attempt to outfit himself fashionably, but the Caladh and Kael hear the whispered words. With smiles completely feigned, the two noblemen part ways. Max, at this juncture, completes his alchemical work, producing and rapidly quaffing a potion that relieves him of his fatigue and the other discomforts of a forced march.
Outside the embassy, the party apprises Darnan of the circumstances, and begins forming a plan. The ultimate goal is to have Kael pose as Springland, and the others as his retainers. This status will be used to gain access to the ball in hopes of finding some word of the Cormyrian or of Baldrin Springland. Thereafter, the identity can be used to take advantage of the invitation to fly on these airships extended to the nobles of Faerun. Darnan, without offering explanation, simply refuses outright to go along with any plan requiring so much deception. Krobach speaks fluently in support of keeping the party together, and of the need to work as one. Darnan has no answer for this, but is obstinate in his refusal to travel under false pretenses. Leaving the matter unresolved, the rest of the party enters the city, having only a little time before the ball to enact their plan.
Kael’s first forays into the city consist of attempts to find whatever criminal underworld is active in Suzail. His efforts are stymied; the city’s criminals are much too cautious and far too limited in their activities for their services to be discovered easily by a newcomer to the city. He must instead take on the institutions of Suzail on his own, without the assistance of those who already know how to compromise them. So much the better. Kael spends some time in searching out and purchasing components for a simple disguise.
. * * * * * .
Meanwhile, Caladh, Krobach and Max ventured into a clothier’s, guided by Amkathra’s page. Once there, Caladh discovered that his performer’s eye, having taken in the costumes of nobles in all their regalia at the embassy, enabled him to intuit the Cormyrian style. His proficiency allowed him not only to follow the fashions, but to innovate on them, making choices daring and provocative in just the right ways, managing to complement perfectly the stature of each of the party members. He swept about the store, making selections, and ignoring, deflecting, or simply speaking over the page’s “suggestions” at every turn.
Having found the perfect outfits, he turned to the merchant to discuss the matter of payment. The merchant, an enthusiast for fashion in his own right, was favorably disposed toward Caladh, thinking him a fellow-soul in their love of fine clothing. He did seem a bit reluctant at first, but as Caladh spun the tale of his eccentric but generous master, who was loathe to pay in full for anything he had not made at least cursory use of, the merchant came around. Caladh left him with fifty gold (from his own purse) as surety, and promised to return in the morning with the rest of the payment, implying but not promising that his master’s generosity would be expressed at the merchant’s willingness to indulge Springland’s eccentricities.
. * * * * * .
Kael, after disguising himself as a nondescript servant in Springland’s service, walked into the Coffers of Tyr, the single banking institution of Suzail. Taking the posture of a terrified, overwhelmed, and traumatized victim, he squeaked out the tale of Master Springland who blamed him for the loss of his signet ring. The banker, initially skeptical of Kael, demanded to know just what Kael wanted from the bank. Kael persisted in his role, breaking down into tears at of frustration and fear, not knowing what to do in this grand hall of commerce. When he began to gibber with fear at “things” the Master would do if he came back empty-handed, the baker’s pity overcame his officiousness, and he consented to show Kael the insignia on Springland’s signet, and provided him with the address of a smith who would be able to craft a new one.
After leaving the bank, Kael again assumed the guise of the young Lord Springland, and bulled his way into the smith’s workshop, despite the fact that they were nearly ready to close for the day. With his overbearing demeanor dripping with the aristocratic sense of entitlement, Kael demanded a new signet ring, to be ready before the ball that night. The smith and his journeyman managed a serviceable, if ugly, ring in about an hour. For this extraordinary job, they gouged Springland brutally, refusing to budge on the price of ten gold. Kael, quite struck with admiration for the craftmen’s skill and backbone, was unable to express this admiration in any way, needing to maintain the guise of Springland.
Upon returning to the Mounting Stag, he found his party waiting for him draped in Cormyrian finery, and the well-dressed group made its way to the bank to cash their note for one thousand gold. The same banker that Kael had spoken to earlier manned the counter, and received the Lord Springland with an icy reserve. As he cashed the note, he asked archly whether the 37,000 gold he’d withdrawn the day before had proven insufficient. Kael, not at all fazed by this, waved the question aside with assurances that he maintained his affairs in precisely the manner he required, and that the earlier sum had already served a specific purpose. This was, however, the first firm sign the party had had that Springland was in the city, and 37,000 gold was a ludicrous sum, more than the House Springland of Blakholm should ever have possessed.
But this mystery would have to be addressed later. There was a ball to attend. The Royal Palace was as magnificent as the city of Suzail itself had led them to expect, and no effort had been spared in