Faithseeker 2: Trusting Strangers
World of Darkness
The village of Blackfeather Bridge over River Ashaba, at the end of Mirtul in the Year of Wild Magic:
While Eghlen attends to his duties, Selia checks out the only attraction in town — an illusionist's show. The performance blows her away — the fancily-masked illusionist works colourful mist into a variety of shapes, even one resembling her!
Later that evening, a man joins Selia at the inn for supper. He introduces himself as Keldoth, a humble local entertainer. She's glad to meet him. Keldoth recognizes her benevolent nature and martial ability, so he asks for her help. A follower of the Dark Sun has arrived in Blackfeather Bridge to commemorate the anniversary of Ĉyric slaying Leira, the Power of Illusions, by doing the same to the poor, innocent illusionist!
Selia is horrified to hear about such an evil design. She sets out to thwart it immediately. She finds Hervor, a wandering minstrel, who matches the villain's description given by the illusionist. She tries to subtly question him, but her lack of cunning gives away her intent. Hervor tells Selia a story:
There was once a priest of Leira, wielding illusions and mist for a band of adventurers. Together with his brave comrades he conquered an orcish king’s lair, but when the time to split the loot came, he took off with all the treasure, leaving his pals with nothing. Most of the companions gave up searching for the traitor, but a bard with a relentless thirst for justice could not let this horrible deed slide. He tracked the priest to Blackfeather Bridge and was about to confront him, when a fair maiden tricked by Leiran cunning intercepted the avenging bard.
Selia trusts Hervor. They both go to Keldoth's house. They discover that the illusionist lives in a small wooden cottage, married with children. Keldoth’s wife lets Selia and Hervor in, thinking they’re her husband’s friends. Hervor immediately takes ther hostage, demanding the orc king's treasure back. Selia, mortified, screams at Hervor to let the poor woman go, but he’s determined to get his share of the loot back no matter what.
Alarmed by the noise, Keldoth appears in the room. Hervor is distracted by his former comrade's sudden appearance, which gives Keldoth’s wife opportunity to escape. Without the underhanded advantage of holding a hostage, Hervor turns to Selia, asking her to side with him and force Keldoth to pay him back. Keldoth renews his plea for help in ridding himself of the evil bard. Selia listens to both men’s arguments, pledging to carefully consider them.
Keldoth claims the plan to steal the gold from adventuring party was Hervor’s idea, and Keldoth’s only sin was to take it further and not divide the spoils with his accomplice. Besides, he’s now a changed man: the moment Leira was killed by Cyric and Mask, he renounced his faith and his deceitful ways. He spent all the gold to start a honest life in Blackfeather Bridge. Meanwhile, Hervor likely still follows the Mask, god of thievery and intrigue, which makes him a bad person that does not deserve the wealth.
Hervor points out that Keldoth lied to Selia once already, which shows that he still follows Leira’s gospel to “lie and trick people at every occasion”, so she doubt the veracity of the illusionist's words, especially at such a moment.
Selia has a hard time passing the judgment, but eventually decides that even if Keldoth says the truth, he still owes Hervor coin and should pay him back. Hervor immediately takes the matter into his own hands and ransacks the house. Selia tries to comfort the children, expelled from their beds while the bard tears apart their mattresses in search of hidden gold stashes, while Keldoth and his wife argue loudly who's to blame for all this chaos.
Eventually, Hervor gives up the search, having found little of value, and attempts to strike Keldoth, but Selia restrains him. He leaves with pockets barely weighted by the entire family's wealth of coin. Selia feels bad for Keldoth’s wife and gives her most of her own coin. That’s not enough for the – literally – poor woman who also first learned of Keldoth’s past during Hervor’s visit. She throws Keldoth out, sobbing with scorn. Before departing, Keldoth climbs the wall to retrieve a small box hidden in the rafters of the cottage, under the roof. Selia notices it’s full of glass masks, including those she's seen during his illusion performance, but does not understand the deeper meaning of this observation.
Next morning, Keldoth meets Selia in the local tavern. Selia introduces the illusionist to Eghlen and they break fast together. Keldoth asks to join them in their travels, as there is nothing keeping him in Blackfeather Bridge anymore. Selia agrees instantly, but Eghlen hesitates. He does not trust a potential worshiper of Leira. After all, the deceased goddess was a sworn enemy of Ogh Muna, Eghlen’s altorn power. Selia manages to convince her mentor to give Keldoth a chance, arguing that even a Leiran would not lie about his religious allegiance.
Hervor learns that Keldoth is skipping town when Selia approaches him to say goodbye. He decides to follow the party, hoping that the illusionist hid the stolen treasure somewhere on the road and now wants to retrieve it.