"Because I don't like him. And so far this party is boring. And what do I care if he doesn't like me?"
"You seem to have political ambitions independent of your family's interests, Lady Alannah, and he could be dangerous to those even if he isn't personally dangerous to you," replies Marta, suddenly very sober. "Not that I want to talk you out of whatever it is that you believe you can do to help my and my father's situation. Gods know we can use all the help we can get."
Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold
Alannah looks surprised and as if she suddenly remembers that she does, at least to some extent, worry about what happens to her family. "Oh, I mean, you are right. If I were to just 'magic' him" Alannah pauses, questioning the use of the word, "It may not even work, but it would certainly make him mad and an enemy. I was thinking it didn't matter, as I'd be leaving soon, but I guess they would have to deal with him once I'm gone."
"So, do you know of a way we could help that isn't so... obvious?"
"Can you use magic to make him forget things?" Marta asks, tentatively. "I suppose that might help. But otherwise, I'm afraid I don't see any way that you can intervene without making an enemy out of him, other than by tricking him without getting caught at it, or offering him something that he would consider a fair trade for the papers."
Alannah frowns with disappointment, "I don't know of any magic within my abilities that would aid in altering memory. Though the premise is fascinating. As most magically effects are not permanent, he'd remember after they wore off. I think anyway."
"But that brings us full circle to the most obvious solution. Wæmunding wants us to find his family's blade, so we have something... or will... that he wants." She turns reluctantly toward Oskav, "Could you ask your friend... Trog something? To come to join our little discussion absent of his lord? Speaking to him on the matter seems like a good idea and striking a deal over it seems like the most direct approach as murder and enchanting are out of the question."
"He is not my friend, but I can ask. I will make it sound as little like a conspiracy as possible." Oskav bows and holds his arm up for Baldr; and when the bird finds his perch, the dwarf turns and stumps out of the room to go find Trogar.
"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken
"I have an idea. If we can't get the papers we can make them appear illegitimate. If someone were to be caught forging paper of that type, the real ones would appear suspect."
Marta frowns, "So . . . you're proposing to frame a forger who happens to be producing faked copies of invoices from my father's counting house? Or are you suggesting that my father and I should find a forger, hire this person to fake the documents, and then," she trails off, seeming puzzled.
"If you arranged to have forged documents created, you could have them delivered to yourself but claim it was 'in error' and they were supposed to have been delivered to Wæmunding. Coming out with a claim that someone is trying to frame you and blackmail you will cast doubt on any actual attempts to blackmail you. As long as this creates a distraction before war comes, people won't have time to follow up on it. There may be a dark mark as some people believe the rumors, but it should remove the sting of true consequences.
"Why would my father have these documents delivered to the baron?" Marta asks, visibly perplexed by this suggestion. "Their only business with one another is that Wæmunding owns the docks father uses, and so he collects a fee for their use. The fact is that he stole these documents, although I don't imagine the mob will care about such niceties. In any case, this sounds like a peculiarly complicated story to tell to people."
Alannah nods in agreement, "I'm sorry Garren. It might be a great plan, but I don't know if I follow either."
Marta asks, "Do you think it's plausible that the orcs in the northern mountains would hire out their services as soldiers? Mercenaries, I mean? I don't know anything about how you'd even arrange such a thing, but if they were hired to intervene in the fighting with the goblins, or even against the elves, then at least that would make father look less . . . traitorous. That way, he could pass it off that he was arming his hired guards, rather than hostile savages."
Alannah nods at the suggestion, "I had to hire orcish mercenaries north of Morville... or what was once Morville. I think it was more of a coincidence than a standard, but they were all killed before I had too much time to strike up a conversation with any of them to find out more." She pauses to think, "Mercenaries come from all races, I don't think it would be unreasonable to think he might have hired some."
The girl nods, a thoughtful gleam in her eyes. "But it couldn't just be any orcs. They'd have to come from that general area, and preferably from the groups he was dealing with. All the same, uh, clan. Or tribe. I don't actually know anything about orcs or what they call their social groupings. But this makes sense to you?"
"It does. I don't know if Chuul could be helpful here, but we can introduce you if you think it might."
"I wouldn't like to drag him away from the party if you think he's having fun," Marta replies, ignorant of what Chuul is like and how bored he probably is right now.
Alannah chuckles softly, "Oh, I don't think you have to worry about that. Nothing here will be his idea of fun. He's just here because the rest of us came."
Marta accepts this comment with equanimity—attending a social function you don't really want to attend is right in her wheelhouse—and replies, "Then if you think he would be willing to offer some insight, I would be glad to talk to him."
While Marta, Alannah and Garren are arguing the relative sanity of various plans to deal with Wæmunding's blackmail scheme, Oskav's halting progress takes the wizard ever farther from the books and ever closer to the noise and movement of the ball. But he keeps his eyes peeled, and spots the dwarf he's looking for, not far away from where he left him after their last discussion.
Trogar is basically alone, and is propping up the wall as he watches the dancers drifting around the ballroom. He looks bored, but at this point he's eaten. So the only things to do, really, are to dance, gamble, gossip, or get drunk. None of which seem to appeal to the paladin.
Oskav approaches the paladin by entering his field of vision at the earliest opportunity, extending his fellow dwarf the courtesy of not appearing to creep up on him. "Master Trogar," he begins, clearing his throat. "I believe my colleagues and I have need of your counsel. We have begun discussing the matter you brought to us in earnest, but something else has come to our attention; something that might concern your lord, and perhaps even you, by extension."
Baldr interjects. "Probably nothing, right? But maybe you can clear it up for the woman who talks too much and says too little."
Oskav winces. "What he means to say is, Lady Alannah would be grateful for your counsel. I will say no more in mixed company, and would rather not involve you at all, but you really might be able to help us move forward with the quest to recover your lord's missing heirloom if we can put this to bed first."
Trogar spares a careful look across the dance floor to where his lord is still chatting with the Milkmaid, then replies, "I would be glad to help, if I can. Please, lead on."