THE WINTER'S BALL:RANK:
ACT 1, ENTRANCE - A LA VILLE DU SOLEIL
MinstrelSOLO WORD COUNT:
16,000GROUP WORD COUNT:
Must have 4 or less mages. Be A rank or equivalent. Must be in Black Rose and have completed, "To Earthland and Beyond!" Also, while not necessary, it would probably make sense to have a member of the Petals and/or Stigma division within the party.
You receive a letter from a higher-up in the mafia. It's written in blue ink and has almost perfect penmanship. It reads:p r e f a c e ~
To an esteemed member of Black Rose,
As those of you in the mafia know, the politics of Fiore and the surrounding kingdoms are of upmost importance to Black Rose's agenda. It's of the guild's best interest to secure favors from powerful figures just outside of the borders of the Magic Council.i n t r o d u c t i o n ~
In Minstrel, extravagance and public appearance rules all. The French inspired city-state is run by bureaucracy and bureaucracy alone. Known more commonly as "The Grand Game"
, tales of the cutthroat politics are taught worldwide, where stories of blackmail, coercion, and public murder are made into petty World History exams. In reality, the bloodstained marble floors are all-too-real and have a direct hand in global affairs. At its maximum saturation, a complex political situation is at its boiling point. Rumors of treason, assassination, and an impending coup de tat are stirring the the populace. It's up to you, hopefully, who can manipulate this situation to our favor. In Ville du Soleil, the City of the Sun, the capital city of Minstrel, the annual Fete du Anniversaire d'Hiver
-- Party of the Winter's Anniversaire, or the Winter's Ball for short -- is being held. I've secured an invitation to this event. The party is sacred and rooted deep within Minstrel tradition. Any signs of disrespect will be met with severity. Dress and look accordingly. The Empress herself is hosting the party in the Palais Blanche, the White Palace, the which is the queen's most luxurious and most often considered authoritative, palace. Under the shiny exterior, Minstrel is a nation on the verge of war. A nearby nation is regularly attacking the countryside and border cities and the government is only providing small amounts of soldiers.t h o s e i n v o l v e d ~
While partying in Minstrel is a job worthy of award itself, there is more at stake than to gather favors with the nobles of a foreign country. Under the shiny exterior, Minstrel is a nation on the verge of war, civil and international. A nearby nation is regularly attacking the countryside and border cities and the government is only providing small amounts of soldiers. The attackers REALLY want a war and will justify even a larger defense force as means enough to start a full blown war. The Empress doesn't want one, obviously. Even though they have the monetary means, as a nation with roots in diplomacy it would be against their basic philosophies. There are a few figures that you need to know:* Empress Lise
, while benevolent and well-meaning, has been undoubtedly neutral on many political issues. She is often expressed as one of the greatest players of "The Great Game" of the Minstrel courts. Not born of royal or even noble blood, she somehow made her way into the position of Empress. The common seem to think she trained as a priestess in a small priory in the suburbs of Ville du Soleil, who wooed the charms of the former Emperor, marrying into the position of Queen Consort. The old Emperor soon passed, however, and with the public favor, she began ruling as the primary monarch. While a lovely tale of the poor becoming the people's hero and avatar, there HAS to exist some telling secret of her true past. Whether or not you want to investigate into them is up to you. She is kind and thoughtful, but only enough to where she can keep an aloof facade. But anyways... while she wants to aid those in poorer socioeconomic statuses, but the classism of the oldest and most important noble families prevents her from doing so. She also desires to increase the amount of soldiers stationed at the borderlands. With the current tension in The Grand Game, she maybe can be coerced or even persuaded to help people living in the slums on Minstrel as well as those residing near the borders. Her continuing to rule may result in further stagnancy, but is beneficial to on the guild's behalf. She is aware of the threat on her life but is ignoring it purposefully. If we are able to "save" her the entire kingdom would be in our debt.*
A small political faction is quickly gaining a supporting. Unrest with the non-action against the attacks on the country's border, distressed citizens look to a new leader. Baron Jean-Paul III
is the dead Emperor's first cousin and would be fit to sit on the throne. While he was technically next in line to rule, he passed the opportunity to continue working as a general in the army. He's seen first hand the pillaging of the distant, country towns and wants justice for them. He seems to have the greater good in mind. Except... He has no legal right to the throne. He relinquished his right when he allowed Lise to become Empress. The only two conditions for him to have absolute power of the throne is if Lise resigns and hands the throne to him, or if she dies
. Jean-Paul is a determined, straight-to-the-point man. While not a great player of The Great Game, he is not opposed to under-the-table solutions. Needless to say, rumors are circulating. However, he is the one who offered his invitation to us. We must be polite and make talk with him. While not so much as Lise, he is an extremely important political figure. Even the news of him inviting a guild associated with multiple Wizard Saints to the ball is drawing attention to him. And us. While we are established as a neutral party to many nobles, they will not hesitate to associate us with him and his political movement. If he succeeds in getting the throne, his actions will probably end with Minstrel in a bloody war with its enemy. Even if we earn his favor, the new administration will not be of much use to us.*
However, another -- only rumored about -- lurks in the shadows. Only known by an alias, Rouge
. Gossip from the grapevine says they are in leadership of a radical group of the oppressed, lower class citizens. They want change. But how? Who knows. At such an important event, they must have some sort of agency present. To not would be a disservice to their cause. They only want equality. But at what price would that pay for Minstrel? How will the go about it? And what will it provide for Black Rose.t h e t a s k a t h a n d ~(Any important plot elements or events that you should include in your posts are in this color.)
I'll walk you through what will probably transpire. The party begins as soon as the sun sets, but the actual dance starts at midnight. You have about three in-character hours to interact with the attendees and gather evidence before it's time for the dance. *More information on the time-limit later, in this color.
It's currently winter in Minstrel, however, and in Minstrel their winters are warm and dry. Also known "The Land of Masks", every important family in Minstrel has a family-specific style of mask they wear to any important social event. People are recognized not by their facial features, but by their mask. Upon arriving, your foreign state is painfully obvious. Everyone seems to notice.
Attempting to wear any sort of fake familial mask is extremely disrespectful and will neutralize any attempts at gaining favors. You're also either wearing a piece of jewelry that shows the Black Rose insignia or showing your guild tattoo. If we gain even the slightest respect it must be attributed to the family. Be careful, however, as negative actions will also tacked onto the guild. You enter the grounds in a grand frontal garden. Despite the season, flowers are blooming, and the many fountains are glistening under the moonlight. You can choose to greet some of the nobles here. I recommend you make haste inside. The night is short and there is much to be discovered. There are four wings of the main palace, two of which are closed. It might be smart to split up and explore each wing individually. You will attract less attention than if in a group and can cover more ground.
The atrium, which the entrance leads into is a large, high-ceilinged forum with large painting and murals showing the country's history on the walls. To the north, there is an entrance to the North Wing,
where it immediately opens into a two-storied ballroom, which is where the dance is taking place. The upper floor is mostly balcony and windows and many staircases connect it with the lower level. The ballroom has a large amounts of french door, which are wide open, letting the warm, night air inside. Through those doors is a balcony overlooking a nearby lake. Deeper into the wing is a large dining room serving food to any party guest. The Empress is greeting people formally in this room. It might be a good idea to talk to her.
She stands on a slightly raised stage with guards surrounding her. It's also safe to assume she's not in any danger currently. To the west is the Royal Wing, and the palace's Grand Library serves as the entrance to the wing.
Across the library is a hallway leads to the Empress's chambers and her private courtyard. There is no door to the library, but instead a large archway with a single guard leaning against the wall adjacent to the entrance. He looks close to nodding off. If you're quiet enough, you can probably sneak in. Be wary, however. Since there is no door, any loud noises within the library will likely wake him from his slumber.
While in the library, there are a plethora of history books, but no magic tomes in sight. With a little investigation, a secret passage (up to the writer) can be discovered that leads to Empress Lise's private bookroom.
Inside are many suspicious magic tomes, including necromancy and other dark arts. You discover a letter on a desk detailing her studies in the dark magics, which are illegal to practice or study in Minstrel, as well as being perceived as disguising by their society. With these documents as evidence, you could probably blackmail her into seizing the throne, and if she doesn't agree, to be impeached by the public.
Continuing further into the wing, you can enter into the royal bedchambers.
You hear a scream originating from the private courtyard. When you walk in, you see a young man being held at knife-point. A mercenary is threatening him into revealing secret about The Empress, saying "Baron Jean-Paul demands it!" Upon seeing you, he fearfully escapes. The victim reveals himself as Empress Lise's childhood friend, Jaque and that he was being threatened into revealing compromising secrets about Lise under oder of the Baron. With his testimony, you can draw suspicions onto the Baron, making whatever plans he has probably harder to commit to. To the east is the East Wing, also more often referred to as "The Hall of Valor".
More like a museum, it is dimly lit inside and there are giant marble statues of former important Minstrel figures. There are many rooms dedicated to showing off artifacts as well. There is a guard blocking off one of such rooms, when if asked to why she is there, will reveal that a priceless artifact is missing. She is suspicious of the servants, and she then states that they've been wearing a lot more red lately.
She then brushes off her suspicions that they're conspiring with Rouge's radical group and wishes you a good night. The entrance to The Servant's Wing
is within the Hall of Valor, as well. It's off-limits, and there are a few maids standing outside the door. One, in a hushed voice, tells the other that she dropped her key to the wing somewhere within the Hall of Valor.
The other maid assures her that no one would find it, lest if they did they probably wouldn't know what door to put it to. Your character should overhear this, and once retrieving the key, can enter the Servant's Wing.
When first entering, it opens to a kitchen which all of the food being served at the party is made. Hallways expand in all directions. It is up to the player how it come upon, but while within the Servant's Wing, you should discover documents revealing Rouge's infiltration of the castle's workforce. Within these documents, Rouge's true identity is revealed, a maid-turned-adviser of the Empress whom was banished when she was revealed to be pilfering money from royal treasury to the city's peasants. You can collect the documents to reveal her identity later in the job, effectively stifling the rebellious movement for at least a few months. At any point during your investigation (at the writers discretion*), the palace bells will ring, signifying the beginning of the ballroom dance. You must go back to the North Wing and into the ballroom.c o n t i n u a t i o n ~
Proceed to Act 2. The dance begins soon.
I suggest separating into two groups of two. One group explores the Hall of Valor and then the Servant's Wing, where they then find the missing artifact and the information tied to it. The other group tours the ballroom, and then investigate the Royal Wing (both the bedchambers and Grand Library). *The time limit is not enforced but you should write with a sense of urgency in your posts. If you want, you can set it up so that once everyone meets their word count, they must return to the ballroom within an additional 1000 words or be late (and suffer consequences), instead of it being written in at the players' discretion.
None, yet. Beware of your actions in court. You may spur the vices of powerful nobles.
75,000 Jewels, A-Rank EXP, and access to the next job in the sequence.