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Blog 231: Campaign Novelization (End)

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Omg, this is it. This is the last chapter. How's everything, this entire campaign, gonna wrap up in a single chapter? Well, it's possibly more of an open-ended ending than expected. DUN DUN DUN.

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Chapter 42: Terms and Conditions

The six ran up the black marble stairs and between two of the twelve columns carved with the twelve guises of Aroden that supported the massive dome overhead. Mathal kicked the heavy double doors open. The entrance hall stretched east and west as far as the eye could see with multiple staircases winding up to second floors and higher.

“We’ll take it from here.”

Chammady and Eccaridian led them up to the second floor and down a marble hall flanked by two more halls on either side. Their footsteps echoed like stones thrown at the tile.

The door at the end of the hall opened into City Hall’s courthouse, a room most of them had only ever seen as depicted onstage. Mathal had to hand it to Millech, he’d created an incredibly faithful bench setpiece. Fiosa, Moris, Larko, and Sclavo leaned against the wooden jury seating area. Fiosa knocked on the wood. Four heads popped up over the edge, the remaining four members of the noble Council.

“Oh thank Asmodeus you’re here. We vote either of you in unanimously.”

“Not yet,” said Fiosa.

Of course. They couldn’t swear in the Drovenges without some guarantee that the people would actually get a voice or all their effort would be wasted.

Fiosa hopped down from her seat. She walked down the aisle between the pews for the audience, fingers beckoning. Everyone but the final four councillors followed her out of the courtroom.

She led them down the hall to an office lined with bookshelves. Eight plush velvet chairs circled around a mahogany desk and the three chairs behind it. Larko and Sclavo took two of the seats at the desk. They pulled out a three-foot-long, curling sheet of parchment from the drawer as the others took their seats.

Fiosa caught Mathal’s little finger at the doorway. Mathal stepped back into the hall to let Chard and Amaya pass by. They had seats despite Fiosa not having sworn them into her operations.

Fiosa stepped into the hall with her with one seat in front of the desk still unfilled. Mathal’s gut turned to lead as Fiosa shut the door behind her.

“The seat’s not for me.”

“No.”

“It’s for the devil.”

“It doesn’t have to be. Here’s the sitch.”

They could swear in Chammady and Eccaridian today and have them abolish slavery by noon. Then they could be assassinated by nightfall and replaced by a lord-mayor who’d bring it back tomorrow morning. Or worse, a new lord-mayor could pretend to stick with their ruling and bring slavery back under some subtler, nameless form created by a dozen of perfectly legal processes all working together to the same effect.

“We a contract that’ll bind every lord-mayor of Westcrown afterward to the same watch-doggery that we need from Chammady and Eccaridian.”

“That’s gonna be some tricky wording.”

“Larko and Sclavo can handle it. All we need is--”

“--a magic secretary.”

Mathal slumped against the wall opposite Fiosa’s, the marble cool against her sweat-slicked skin.

“If I’d sworn myself to your service, would you have just ordered me to give you my last wish?”

“Never. I’m not asking you to be selfless and think of the people. I’m asking you for a sacrifice. That, I could never order.”

Mathal let out a long sigh.

“When this was all over, I was gonna choose to work for you. Turns out apart from killing, the one thing I’m kinda good at is saving this stupid city.”

But after she used her last wish, she wouldn’t have to make that choice anymore. It was almost worse. Almost.

“I really don’t like slavery.”

Mathal covered her mouth with her hand and spoke into her palm.

“Khazrae.”

Footsteps echoed from the far end of the hall. A fashion disaster stalked through the shadows. Crosael’s floppy hat laid askew over Khazrae’s horns. The cloak of a shepherd laid over one wing. The cloak of a soldier over the other. The spectacles of a scholar rested on the bridge of their nose. They wore the long, pocket-filled jacket of a merchant with a beggar’s satchel tossed over their shoulder. A tailor’s vest peeked out from behind an artist’s apron, cinched with an artisan’s toolbelt. The rubber pants of a fisherman tucked into the muddy boots of a farmer. The gloves of a thief provided the final, mismatched touch.

“Should I ask?”

“If you don’t think you want to know, then you don’t want to know,” Khazrae grinned.

Mathal cackled weakly.

“It’s good to see you.”

“Isn’t it? And hello to you too, Fiosa.”

“The little secretary is all grown up. I’ll give you a moment.”

Fiosa went back into the office, shutting the door. Khazrae leaned back against the wall beside Mathal.

“You picked that last wish pretty fast.”

“Ha. Kinda. Just go with whatever Fiosa, Lark, and Sclavo say in there. That’s the wish.”

“That’s awfully vague.”

“Trust me, it won’t be.”

“Alrighty then.”

Khazrae opened the door but stopped in the doorway.

“You’re not coming in?”

Mathal shook her head. She didn’t want to spend her last hours on Golarion in a stuffy room. She left the building to sit on the City Hall steps and looked out into the plaza.

The few remaining vampires had surrounded Ghontas, beating her into the stone. Her grasping hand shot into the air with the last of her strength. Roaring fire exploded out from her, incinerating the last of the vampires.

The shockwave knocked the silver-suited Oberigo and the gold-suited Drovenge into the reflecting pool with a massive splash. They were just lucky Drovenge’s tear-flames had already burned out.

The two staggered up to their hands and knees in their torn, singed, and now sopping rags. Mathal watched with her chin in her hands as they shouted the other’s name and threw themselves at each other. Others came out to watch from the edges of the plaza. She cackled weakly.

They hadn’t stopped beating the other down by the time that footsteps echoed on the marble behind her. The crowd had grown to fill every street and corner.

Mathal rose to her feet without looking away. Khazrae stopped on the step beside her.

“You were right. That wasn’t vague at all.”

She snorted.

“Yeah. K, I’m ready.”

“For…?”

Mathal held her hand out to them. Khazrae blinked. Then burst into a wild fit of laughter.

“What.”

“Nobody ever reads the whole contract,” said the devil, wiping their eye.

“You mean…”

“I already have your soul back in Hell. The rest of you joins it when you die, however you die. I only came out here to say goodbye.”

“Oh.”

“Oh, indeed.”

Mathal turned back to the plaza, every ounce of her weight replaced with a strange lightness. She smiled quietly.

“Wanna watch a couple nobles beat the [redacted-dact] out of each other before you go?”

“I’d love to.”

Khazrae took her hand. Mathal and the devil sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the shadowed steps of City Hall and watched as the two nobles beat the [redacted-dact] out of each other.

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