A relatively quiet week has passed in the city. Much of Taldor runs on routine, without the need for direct oversight, and while an eerie quiet fell over the city, the citizens maintained their daily lives with little disruption. Talk in the street focused heavily on the Exaltation Massacre and the War for the Crown, with everything from accurate news to wild speculation making the rounds. For now, at least, Oppara seemed to be holding its breath, waiting to see if civil war is inevitable.
After the party has had time to rest and attend to their own matters, Martella sent word to meet her at the Porthmos Club—an exclusive teahouse in Oppara's Aroden's View district. She instructed the party to pack for a long trip through the country, and to bring at least one fine outfit, a suitable hunting outfit, and at least one respectable mask or costume. After a light lunch and small talk, a coach containing all party members and Martella Lotheed departed north. Handing Kyra a sealed scroll case, she explains her plan of forging documents that announce Kyra as the scion to the House Betony since no heir has stepped forward since Lady Allias Betony’s death in nearly a decade.
Martella goes on to explain that her family, The Lotheeds, are tribune to the secondary royal estate in Taldor, the Birdsong Palace in Meratt County. With her father now gone, her half-brother Bartelby has been squandering the estate’s fortunes and denies audience to Lady Eutropia. Martella instructs the party to attend the Tanager Jubilee, use their charms to ensure an easy fit into local society, and then use their skills and alliances to subtly change the county for the better. Only then, once they have won over the hearts of the locals, are they to take the Palace of Birdsong back from the Lotheed family on behalf of Princess Eutropia. With secure alliances, they can then openly show their allegiances and invite their neighbors to join them, using Meratt as a template for what positive changes may await Taldor under Princess Eutropia. She hands the group three vials of her home made concoction she calls Styx oil. A substance which will allow them to erase the last few minutes of memory from someone if they were to make a mistake.
After two more days of travelling, Martella departs and takes her own carriage towards Cassomir just before the group enters Meratt county. After only a few short miles in Meratt, the group is temporarily waylaid by a throng of local merchants trying to make ends meet by selling common wares. They complain repeatedly about the woes of Bartelby and his cronies, particularly concerned with Sir Gul Gusairne, one of the Lotheed cousins who serves as the count’s secret police. A few mention word of the vigilante rumors of the Night Swan and the hopes that he will take out Bartelby or find some way to help him, but most seem generally unconcerned with situations that won’t improve their own stature.
The carriage sets off once more and after two more days of travel the party arrives at their destination, a magnificent, vast two-story palace built around a central gallery, and a tower behind the west wing. Approaching the palace, the party is met by nearly 40 guests, all being fussed over by an army of servants sporting bird masks. Shortly thereafter they are approached by a well-dressed handsome man, Count Bartelby Lotheed, steward of the county of Meratt, landgrave of the Hyden Marches, and tribune of Lotheedar. Kyra quickly uses her social skills along with the information she learned from Martella to impress the Count and make his acquaintance.
As hors d'oeuvres are served at the party, the group quickly spills out in different directions and begins to influence a variety of public figures. Feeling at ease in this social setting, the party quickly begins to influence some of the major players at this event, such as Baron Nicolaus Okerra, Dame Parthena Crabbe with her daughter Sepsinia, Grace Baroness Legate Adella Voinum and Onora Piscum. As they begin to social and learn useful information about each of the key personalities at the event, they also try to create potential allies for Eutropia in the future.
As morning turns to afternoon, the tournament approaches. The count's servants have erected a list, a tilt, and stands for a joust, complete with colorful flags and banners, and happily supply heavy horse mounts, jousting armor, and a small metal shield for guests who wish to participate but neglected to bring appropriate equipment. They also provide blunted jousting lances fitted with metal sheaths (which inflict nonlethal damage) to all competitors. The stands slowly fill with spectators, many bribed with food to come from nearby Lotheedar. Though it takes some persuasion by his companions, Both Reina and Kail enroll themselves in the jousting tournament while Platy and Leiko enroll in the Trucco tournament.