*Aedra Ovistuligr *
Of course, it had to be the fool. I swear to the gods every time that I get sent on a diplomatic mission they test me. They see if I really am this dedicated to my country, if my allegiance is undying. They truly do not know the depths to which one can sink when called upon for country, for gods.
What I do not understand is why this fool. Yablo, the….Entertainer. Known locally as the “wanderlust king”, a shady character who goes around, charming the skirts off of the locals, then stealing their coin, their property deeds, their lives when noone is looking. And most recently, the fool had been seen playing bones with a local man named Drevus Krubb. A man who is now dead, and on the scene was the fools ocarina. Sloppy. Almost too sloppy, but a fool cannot be found to have his wits about him at all times. Those times which test character, we find who becomes the strongest. Either way, he can’t kill well, let’s see if he can lie.
I found him in the depths of darkest corridor of our prisons. Oddly put together for someone who is accused of murder. I approach the cell and produce his prized ocarina, his fathers pride handed down to him.
Tact. If tact fails, then truth. If truth fails, then lies. If lies fail, then utter annihilation. “Lose something? I hear you play it quite well”
“I’ve been told I’m good with my fingers” There goes tact.
“I am not one of your slut bar wenches who’s skirt will drop at the whim of your words, Fool.” When tact fails, truth. I’ve been in his presence for all of 30 seconds and I already want to see him executed. Yes, they must be testing me.
My silence is broken by The Wanderlust King. “You forget my title fair maiden. Yablo ‘the Entertainer’ at your service” he bowed, gesturing for a wide brimmed hat he didn’t have, A wide sweep of his arm to flap a cape noisily.
The ocarina goes away, time to get down to business. I pull out paperwork, a signed pardon from the duke himself in exchange for his service on this escort. Surely there must be a reason for this thief to be pardoned. I prepare the paperwork and pause for a moment. It’s boring into me, a need to know why him, why a criminal over any number of legitimate members of the province. Feign as though I’m signing something. I sit down and continue. “For the records I already know your true name, so there’s no purpose in lying to me about it”. He looks uneasy, as though I’ve struck at a disguise already. I know disguises. We all wear one every day. It’s just a dance of how well put together they are, how much of the demon you allow out, how much of the demon you cage. This one wears thin layers, easily peeled down. I continue with a question I already know the answer to: “So, let us begin. Who were your parents Yablo?”
“Never knew them” Not entirely impressive, I already had the ace on this one. He says it convincingly, like he knows that I’m looking for an answer. Time to dig.
“Who raised you then? Surely you must have had some type of… push into your life, someone who supported you in your formative years?”. I felt like he read me as sympathetic, which was fine. I had questions and he had my answers.
“Wolves. I was raised by wolves”. And now we start the dance. He feeds me a lie to act , I respond with a concerned look, an eyebrow raised at just the right moment. You must understand, A justicars job is that of a diplomat, a judge, and a sympathetic ear all at the same time. My training forced me to overcome my natural inclinations to pity and nuture and replaced them with a desire to find a weak spot, and exploit it in a way that makes your enemy feel like you are doing them a service. I have no doubt he was raised by wolves, but only in metaphor.
“Wolves… very well. Were you raised in the woods by these wolves?” A feign of lack of intelligence coupled with sarcasm. He still doesn’t know about the ace I’ve held in my pocket all along
“Heavens no! I was raised in Jannin”(a blatent lie) “To the former question, I was raised by Joesin and Nala Yonderin, a son of a diamond miner”. (also a lie).
I should clarify: His lies are beautifully constructed. It’s an artform the amount of detail he’s using here. Jannin is known to be a mining town, most commonfolk would accept this as verbatim, and quite frankly I can see why people believe him. It’s as though he wants you to question his facade so he can lie more. His layers are transparent; I wonder if he simply lies because he wants to believe these things himself. Lets change topics and see how he responds.
“Do you have a wife? Children?”
“I am… available, though there are more efficient ways to ask for my hand in marriage than locking me up on accusations of murder, Justicar” Witty. I can almost feel him trying to break my defenses down. He’s trying very hard to be likeable. It might work. I don’t hold it against a dog that feigns interest in people to get a free dinner.
“Should your trial and persecution lead to a guilty verdict and your subsequent execution, to whom will your debts to the state transfer… ‘entertainer’?”
Hand covering his chest, feigning the prick of an arrow through his heart, he responds. “You have me all wrong m’lady. You speak of guilt for a crime of which I did not commit. Further, my ‘debts’ to the state remain unknown to me. Might I ask what it is I owe?”
The dance. He doesn’t know what he’s done. He doesn’t need to, just that he is guilty of a dozen other crimes that we can convict and subsequently hang him of quickly.
“We have you up on much more than Krubb’s murder, Yablo. Hundreds of counts of theft, burglary, evading authorities, blackmail, bribery, forgery of official documents, destruction of official documents, … the list goes on. I have the paperwork inside of my quarters, I can retrieve them if you like”. My first bluff, and an intentional one. He knew full well that I didn’t have the paperwork. He also knew full well that while our accusations wouldn’t hold any weight with him, it would hold absolutely against the people that he had stolen from. Likeable or not, he was still a common thief, and it would be foolish to forget that. Here, the nails have been placed into his psyche. Twist.
“I suppose there is an alternative to sending you to the gallows” Truth hurts more than lies. “We could send you to the mines. A life of picking coal, singing the songs of prisoners and dying slowly on the inside. There are fates worse than death for the wanderlust king.”. He shivered. Peel away all of his layers he doesn’t flinch, show him but one inch of the demon’s skin, and he shakes to the core.
“Perhaps my skills with the ocarina could be used to raise the spirits of the High Inquisitor, or the Magistrate himself? Surely he has heard of my skills with the flute?” For once I’m unsure if he’s being honest with me or simply trying to find a way to break my defenses.
“I believe that we can work with you, but not because of your skills as a musician. Your reputation for masterful disguise and manipulation precedes you, there is a…. certain quality in your work. We have recently come to need one with your skill set for a mission of some importance.” Never forget to stroke the ego. How to con a conman: Make them believe you are their biggest fan. “The Magistrate has offered you a pardon for your crimes, in exchange for your services for a short time. We are to make a trip to the coast of Frichosia, more specifically the capital city of Inalia. Accompany our diplomatic cabinet, aid the state of Jiskadar in attaining vital information, and upon our return you will be relieved of your service and will be free to go back to your life of… intemperance.”
He squirmed for a moment, weighing his options. Give him the demon’s eyes. “Give it some consideration, Yablo. Though you have become errant in your ways, you have the soul of Krevian. I would hate to see you choose your fate out of a desire to be sung about by the bards.” His fathers name. I spend my life gathering information, making smart decisions based on facts, twisting the arm of other diplomats with a smile and making them see the glory of this land. In a brief moment he realized this was all a game. Time to drive the point home.
“The way I see it, if you say no, even Olidammara won’t sing your song in death. Think on these things, friend. I’ll return in the morning”. I turn and walk away, the gravity of the situation sinking in; the demon bearing it’s teeth.