The Trial of Audric Varden, Huntmaster of Malar
Thune last edited by
Huntmaster Audric Varden: Lord Hardcastle.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: My old Friend, you've gotten into some trouble.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Let's see….Magnus- kindly remind me of the charges.
Magnus: Treason, in the form of dealing with the enemies of Cormyr, I think is the only one worth noting, Lord Hardcastle.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Do you plead guilty, or do you intend to waste my time?
Magnus: He pleads not guilty. I take his defense upon myself.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Very well. Convince me, Magnus.
Magnus: The presence of the drow is unquestioned. They are the enemy of every known civilized race. However, the question is not whether the drow fought beside the church, but whether the Huntmaster was complicit. Or do we now execute every member of a church because one made folish decisions? The drow, he claims, were brokered with by either Strider, or Sariesh. One of which is dead already. Without his knowledge.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: By all reports, Magnus, those two were his favored huntlords and his personal lieutenants, or does Varden deny this?
Magnus: People have betrayed their superiors before, have they not, my Lord. A Huntlord to his Huntmaster, a Lord to his sovereign….all theoretical examples, of course. Do you have any witnesses to take the prosecution and show Huntmaster Varden was complicit?
Dhulir Runemagner: Mine lord. We can provide such.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Provide such, Retainer.
Dhulir Runemagner: Prince Thifur, of the Dwarven Embassy, please step forward to the stand to provide testimony.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Prince.
Thifur Thunderhammer: Lord Hardcastle. I would recount the events of my band, leading up to the proof of which Retainer Runemagner speaks.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I will need to ask you to keep it brief. Simply the facts.
Thifur Thunderhammer: When we rescued the Immeril's warband from the Fury faithful that attacked them, they spoke of drow. We split into two groups, I to investigate the temple of malar, they to relieve their High Priest. When we entered the glade, we were ambushed several times by Drow. However, what claimed the lives of my band was when we made it to the entrance of the temple. There, Varden shouted 'Open fire' and three fireballs struck our band simuntaneously. At that same moment. drow flew down from the cliffside, flanking us. How could a man who had no knowledge, and not be complict in the alliance with drow, use such tactics? He was clearly aware of their presence, he -worked- with them. Commanded them.
Dhulir Runemagner: Additionally, M'lord. I was present at the first strike- Wherein Strider commanded the Aid o'the drow in attacking the Elves. When the Dwarves of Thunderholme and Retainer Ebonhawk presented ourselves, they attacked and were slain,, Strider was captured, which be the only reason he nay fell. Both he and Huntsmaster Varden commanded the aid o'the drow during the battle.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Magnus. Convince me.
Magnus: Your -own- retainer's story. [he relaxes, with a bow and a smile] is still circumstancial and speculative. As for Varden's shout, were the drow the -only- forces he had? he was commanding his warriors and archers. As for the attack- who wouldn't defend their own land against an invasion? It was the high priestess of Angharradh, Rethil, who declared divine march- as a secular country, we cannot support either side of warring churches. I would counter-question, why were your Purple Dragons and retainers there at all? Even the retain, I can overlook, given that is your personal command, but the Purple Dragons?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Dhulir was not a retainer at the time. As for Road Captain Danica Chambers:…. We both know many of her actions are suspect and she has continually sought to undermine and side step orders.
Magnus: And yet were you not preparing to march upon the glade with your garrison?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I was preparing an inspection, War Wizard.
Magnus: An…inspection. I see. The soldiers were only to guard the hapless prospectors, I assume. Just "in case" things got out of hand.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Certainly. The forest is dangerous, after all. Werewolves, orcs, goblins- ettins… it is the duty of our soldiers to protect our citizenry, after all.
Magnus: Oh yes, very dangerous. But I still submit your dwarven prosecution did not actually see Varden commanding drow. He merely shouted orders to his own, the drow joined in, probably instructed by his traitorous Huntlords. Can they swear this was not the case? By Lord Moradin? I know a dwarf would not invoke the name of the All-father with a lie.
Thifur Thunderhammer: The attack was too sudden, too co-ordinated. Both forces struck immediately.
Magnus: It seems to me the drow may well have been there for the elves. Rethil would have been wiser not to declare publicly her intention for Divine March.
Dhulir Runemagner: Given the preparations, the defenses, the battle-plan initiated by the Malarites, indeed, even the battle itself, Aye, I will swear it upon mine Oath to Moradin that this was not the case.
Danica Chambers: That is correct, War Wizard. I would like to bring the Court's attention to the poster made by Steward Kendrale of House Hardcastle. It says among other things "the Purple Dragon shall march in the name of Arabel to end the local threat" "Together with the High Priestess Rethil of the Seldarine Shrine, the Tychean Temple and the Axe of Tempus"
Magnus: Because you cannot, in your official capacity as Supreme Commander of military forces, march with a Divine March, whatever your own people do privately.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I may send punitive forces, Magnus, to bring criminals to heel, will you deny that the Temple of Furies did not harbor such?
Magnus: Raaz'haadi was dead. Who else was criminal? By all accounts, the drow were not encountered until after the march began.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Malcolm Strider was reported to have begun blocking legitimate citizenry from entering the Hullack Wood.
Magnus: Then arrest him and try him, lawfully, on those charges. Why is Huntmaster Varden being persecuted for defending his church against a Divine March of the Seldarine?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: If the Huntmaster was not going to reign him in, I will. If the Huntmaster was going to protect criminals, then he is as bad as the criminal himself.
Magnus: I agree, Lord Hardcastle. But the question is, is -that- what he -actually- did?
Lagnar: He killed a dwarf. and his Drow killed four more.
Dhulir Runemagner: Because this was nay a Divine March, War Wizard. The Inspectors sent by Lord Hardcastle were attacked by the Drow and Malarites. The Elves attacked -after- the Huntsmaster had broken law.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I think there is a confusion as to what actually happened…. The elves marched on the Malarites in a section of the Hullack Wood, then the dwarves broke off to confront the Huntmaster. As my Retainer reported. The temple assumed it was under threat, and called upon its allied drow.
Magnus: Are you saying Rethil did not march on the glade? Because if you attacked a church without the banner of a Divine March, you were committing murder without provocation. Is that what you are saying happened?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Dwarven. Which did you encounter first on the way to the glade.
Thifur Thunderhammer: Drow.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Drow, or Varden's heralds?
Dhulir Runemagner: Drow. The Malarites attacked us after the Drow did, almost in unison, but at the same, we defended ourselves.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Then, what happened, as you pursued deeper? And what was your intent when you marched on the glade? Ah, marched to.
Dhulir Runemagner: To inspect the temple as requested.
Thifur Thunderhammer: I marched at the request of Dhulir, then Bannerman at the time, to see the inspection done.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: See?
Thifur Thunderhammer: He is mine kin, and I would not see him harmed
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: We were performing the inspection, though- I will admit… It was perhaps poorly timed.
Danica Chambers: Crown Agents accompanied both Dwarven and Elven groups. They were acting in joint concert, supporting each other strikes. The Elves cut off the Malarites from receiving reinforcements from the Blackbllood Sept, while the Dwarves assaulted the Temple in force. Drow were encountered operating with the Werewolves. The Elves sought to kill every Malarite present in a Divine March.
Dhulir Runemagner: Nay, Lass. I swear such by Moradin, All elves retreated to save their priestess. We proceeded without the aid of them, nor with planned aid.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: So you admit to breaking crown neutrality in marching beside the elves against the faithful of Malar, Road Captain?
Danica Chambers: Yes. Following the orders of Steward Kendrale of House Hardcastle.
Thifur Thunderhammer: By Moradin, we swear. We knew nothing of the Seldarine until arriving in the forest. Such was kept secretive from us.
Huntmaster Audric Varden: As far as I am aware, My huntsmen spotted approaching dwarves, armed for battle, none wearing Hardcastle Insignia. Then I heard battle, I assumed they attacked my men, I ordered my temple to attack any that approach out of an abundance of caution.
Dhulir Runemagner: So ye aided the Drow, Enemies of Cormyr, by attacking legitiment prospectors on behalf of the Warden of the North. Ordering the attack, as ye just admitted.
Danica Chambers: To be fair, Crown Forces were under the impression that the public declaration by the Steward that "Lord Malcolm of the House of Hardcastle sends the finest agents of his Northern Purple Dragon Garrison to end the criminal threat of the Temple of the Furies." was an order to arrest or exterminate.
Magnus: Lord Hardcastle, Chambers is not on trial here. Varden is. May we confine ourselves to the matter at hand? It is not questioned that Rethil declared divine march upon the Church of Malar, as is her right. Now dwarves, with whom the elves have long since had friendly relations in the world, march into the glade, without presenting advance warning, and with weapons out- what was he supposed to think? Granted, misunderstandings may have occurred with bloodshed on both sides, but Varden acted in the best interests of his faith. As is his duty as High Priest. And I know that elves were present there. Or is that fact questioned as well? Just a giant coincidence?
Dhulir Runemagner: They presented themselves after the battle was started.
Magnus: Even if that is so, how is it the Huntmaster's fault?
Dhulir Runemagner: almost an hour, If'n I nay am wrong. Furthermore, Ignorance of the Law does not make one innocent of the law. Cormyrs laws apply nay the less, If I be correct.
Magnus: Varden, were you informed that prospectors were setting out before they did?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I told him myself they would arrive in a few days. He would have been expecting them.
Huntmaster Audric Varden: Days ago, but not just before they came, bearing unsheathed weapons. I was unaware that that his how Prospectors behaved.
Thifur Thunderhammer: In our company. we had a retainer. One Retainer Ebonhawk. Wearing colors.
Dhulir Runemagner: Aye. He was attacked and wounded. Beaten unconcious and nearly killed, By your men and drow.
Huntmaster Audric Varden: And Purple Dragons, also attacking us. Has the King declared the church outlaw?
Magnus: It is also quite troubling, Lord Hardcastle how much of your evidence is coming from your own retainer. Is that generally how it works here?
Dhulir Runemagner: I were nay retainer during the assault, And prince thifurs honor nay be questioned in this matter.
Huntmaster Audric Varden: He wasn't a Retainer before the events took place, Magnus.
Magnus: Well, congratulations on your retain, so soon after this sad event, good dwarf. Most propitious.
Dhulir Runemagner: I have proven myself a plethera of times, War magus.
Magnus: I am sure you have.
Dhulir Runemagner: Including liberating dark hold for the north. If'n ye ask your battlemage.
Magnus: With hundreds of others behind you.
Dhulir Runemagner: If'n ye count fighting off The Chosen of Cyric with twelve men..
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: And two dozen to stand against the Pereghost.
Thifur Thunderhammer: I myself shield my companions from his blows.
Magnus: But, the facts are these. The Huntmaster was rightly expecting a divine march on his Temple. Elves were there. Your own Purple Dragon was there at your command.
Dhulir Runemagner: After He had broken the law.
Magnus: What law?
Dhulir Runemagner: The Purple dragon, by her admission- Marched with the elves.
Danica Chambers: War Wizard. Perhaps I should read out the entire poster?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Don't bother.
Magnus: Lord Hardcastle, I believe we should be called upon to speak, or do you permit constant interruptions in our statements?
Magnus: Now. Your very declaration states violent intent towards the glade. Does that usually precede a prospection?
Magnus: What was the Huntmaster to think, when an army showed up? Had you not made your declaration, I could accept your prosecution.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: The intent to march, Magnus was when Raaz'haadi was still High Priest.
Magnus: You intended to march and destroy four faiths for the sake of one man?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: It seems I was justified, seeing as he attacked the city, tried to assassinate Lord Hawklin….And send dozens of people to the Mausoleum.
Magnus: Indeed so, but if we pre-emptively execute criminals, Lord Hardcastle, I have a few candidates in mind. That's not how the law works.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Varden could have stood aside, and no doubt would have. I am told he even fought the Talassans in the Woods, but some upstart elf hindered him with those treants.
Magnus: And would have been slain, had he not. I submit your…party went there with violent intent.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I shall…concede this point. Yet.... This could have been avoided- entirely, if the Temple of Furies held any actual rights to the temple. However, I shall permit my Retainer to speak.
Dhulir Runemagner: War Magus. Your defense is largely based upon hypotheticals. "What was Varden to think?" or, "What was the intent of your original declaration, but not the secondly anounced mission?" However, It is undeniable. - It has been witnessed, and evidenced that Huntsmaster Varden ordered the attack upon Lord Hardcastles representatives without provocation. As he has himself. Furthermore, he and his men, in concert with the drow, attacked and nearly murdered a hardcastle retainer. If this were a question of what may have happened, or what one may have thought, We would be argueing with the gods for all eternaty. He was witnessed to fight at the side of the drow ; And this, is tetamount to treason, if such be the judgement of Lord Hardcastle.
Danica Chambers: Did you or anyone else, at any time, announce that you were here to conduct an inspection on behalf of Lord Hardcastle? Or in any way inform Huntmaster Varden of your business and that you were not part of the Divine March?
Dhulir Runemagner: Yes, lass, It was announced that were were preparing to go, in addition to the proclomations.
Magnus: Lord Hardcastle. Did the content of this sending involve "inspection", in it? And the charges are his collusion with drow. Your retainer has failed to objectively provide evidence that Huntmaster Varden was complicit with Strider and Sariesh's actions. He has only assumptions. Furthermore, Why is Strider, if he accused of being complicit, allowed to walk free, exactly? Why does the blame fall sorely on Huntmaster Varden? There is a large difference between what he saw, the conclusions drawn, and what actually happened. Just as you said, the Purple dragons were only there to "protect" the "prospectors". Appearances can be quite deceptive.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: If you wish to have Hawklin explain why he allows Strider freedom of the city, then you may ask him, I am not in the habit of overruling my fellow Lords unless it is over a matter that is truly serious.
Magnus: Agreed. Yet, Drow are a threat to national security, you could have had the Purple Dragons detain him.
Magnus: This was not done.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Are you saying I cannot trust Hawklin's judgment, Magnus?
Magnus: This implies you agreed with Lord Hawklin. The blame cannot be placed on the militia. That is for you and he to work out. My point is only, if you did not do so, you agreed with it.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Shall we summon Lord Hawklin then?
Magnus: And Rethil, if it please you.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Ah, Private….?
He Jiang-Xian: Private Jiang Xian, Lord.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Were you there when Hawklin made his decision?
He Jiang-Xian: Yes.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Did he say why?
He Jiang-Xian: Yes. It was just after the declaration that the Church of Malar was outlaw. I did not know what to do with the Huntlord so, I brought him to Lord Commander Hawklin, and, the Lord Commander listened to him. He said that he did not have any idea about the drow and, The Lord Commander allowed him to go free because, I believe, he was sincere and promised to join the next march against the Glade, on the City's side, to prove that he was sincere and so Strider promised to march against Varden. He was allowed to go free pending trial or the truth since, he did not seem as though he would run and, like the Huntmaster, was there . . . To side with the City to find the truth.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: You've some unfaithful hounds, don't you Varden? I think we're almost done here, Magnus. Yet, I think we've a point to address.
Magnus: It seems so, Lord Hardcastle. But that is not his fault, black sheep get in the best of us. Not unlike your retainer, Graeven Akkar. You remember him? Black skin, red yees, white hair, elf…killed for treason?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Varden ordered his temple to attack my man, and, the temple, frankly, had no right to exist.
Magnus: Why not?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: When I removed the furies from Arabel, Magnus, they fled to squat in Emil Wyvernspur's Grove. My Son-In-Law's home.
Magnus: Then why now? Why not simply issue an eviction notice? Was such a notice issued, Varden? Why march in force before legal recourses?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Regardless, I think I will ask the Huntmaster a question-Did you approve of the sale of the Glade to Councilor Kraliqh?
Huntmaster Audric Varden: Yes….
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: So, the Temple of Malar tried to falsely sell Crown property.
Magnus: And Lord Kraliqh falsely tried to buy it. It takes two to make a transaction, my Lord. Or was Lord Kraliqh…unaware of this? If he was, why should the Huntmaster, a man of no letters, be held liable? Bring Lord Kraliqh here to answer as well.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Battlemage. Bring Lord Kraliqh here.
Danica Chambers: The Battlemage is not present, Lord Hardcastle.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Ah, Road Captain. Do so for me.
Danica Chambers: Warden.
Valiant Kraliqh:My Lord Hardcastle. Ah, Huntlord Varden-
Huntmaster Audric Varden: Kraliqh.
Valiant Kraliqh:Huntmaster, I am still waiting on that deed that was promised. Would you happen to have it on you?
Magnus: Audric. Sit. Down.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Councilor Kraliqh- by your comment just now- I assume you weren't aware that the Church of Malar did not, in fact, hold the deed to this land?
Valiant Kraliqh:They do not, Lord Hardcastle?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I dare say, Magnus….While it is not quite worthy of execution, I do say Land Fraud is a serious matter, especially when performed against a Lord of Cormyr, and a member of my own council.
Danica Chambers: Ahem. I have a letter here from Huntlord Strider. It states that, and I quote, "The sale is quite valid and approved by Hardcastle although it is currently under discussion by the council due to certain members of the temples deals with drow." I also witnessed Lord Kralique myself state that it was approved.
Magnus: Yes, estate fraud certainly -is- a serious crime, My Lord. I was unaware the land you held in trust for the king was being bartered away in this fashion. Perhaps Ganrahast should inspect…? With fifty or a hundred war wizards, of course. for his...protection.
Valiant Kraliqh:I will admit, when Lord Hardcastle was informed of this deal with the temple, he laughed and joked, "I can't see how this could go wrong." I admit, I thought he was positively brimming with approval…
Magnus: So he knew about this, and took no action? My. What is this I'm hearing, my Lord?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Magnus, Magnus- I am Warden of the North, I was going to get this to minor, -small- detail contract when I had the time. Undoubtedly. Obviously, Lord Kraliqh was playing a cruel joke.
Magnus: But surely, the victim of such is not subject to punishment?
Dhulir Runemagner: Another issue, War Wizard. What is known is that Varden has attacked, and ordered the attack upon Lord Hardcastles men, assisting Drow, enemies of Cormyr, in doign so. He cannae escape judgement for his own actions, regardless of the reasons for doing so. It be as Danica's breakin' of the crowns neutrality by aiding priestess Rethil, no?
Magnus: Yes, so you say, yet you've little proof of that beyond your suspicions- I say suspicions and not fact. You saw, you assumed. You do not prove.
Dhulir Runemagner: Her actions be her actions. His, as admitted, be his, With the reprocussions of such.
Magnus: By your own words, we should confine ourselves to the matter at hand, now? Or is Chambers on trial here?
Dhulir Runemagner: He attempted to sell the kings lands. He attacked and ordered the attack upon Lord Hardcastles men by his own admission.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: No, Chambers is another matter entirely, and I won't muddy the waters further.
Dhulir Runemagner: He is, in short, guilty by admission.
Danica Chambers: There is the issue of Lord Kralique's signature on the Contract of Sale. In fact, the contract specifically ogligates "Ban any outside Prospectors from exploiting the lands"
Magnus: I'm sorry, my Lord, which trial are we conducting here? Even if Varden is guilty of fraud, that is not a capital crime- or Lord Kraliqh himself is in serious trouble. If it is a serious crime, Varden too, as High Priest, may pay and have the charges struck off. There is no evidence of his collusion of drow. I submit there is no further need to persecute this man.
Dhulir Runemagner: Aside from his own admission and witnesses.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Very well.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Kraliqh. What would you estimate the glade is worth in your esteemed estimation? Hm, as a hunting lodge for exotic meats and furs? Roughly…oh, 30,000 coins. If there is Mythalite? Ten times that.
Magnus: Is there Mythalite? Ganrahast would be very interested if there was Mythalite.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I am sure he would be, Magnus, as I am the sole proprieter of all such minerals, last I checked. I am sure he would wish to ensure the King's edict remains enforced.
Magnus: A man is free to expess interest in anything he wishes, my Lord. That is no crime, I said nothing else.
Danica Chambers: The presence of Mythalite at the Glade has not been established with any certainty. It was a deceit concocted to trick Raaz'Hadi.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Certainly. So, it is well known that 'possibility' has its own value, Kraliqh.
Magnus: Well then, the price of the Huntmaster's freedom is the glade. How…convenient.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: We're delving into speculation, so let us not bore Magnus with business.
Magnus: Very well. In closing. I submit charges of capital crimes be struck.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Granted.
Magnus: The land fraud, is a serious crime, and both parties make monetary payments or equivalents to have the records struck, And Varden be allowed to leave.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Not so fast. Varden shall settle the dispute with Strider. A trial by combat, to determine which of them is truly guilty.
Magnus: That is his internal church matter. And neither of them are nobility, last I checked.
Huntmaster Audric Varden: I'll do it.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: I can always count on you, Huntmaster.
Huntmaster Audric Varden: I'LL DO IT!
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Kraliqh, you're to pay a 50,000 gold fine.
Valiant Kraliqh:Certainly, I shall have the accountants on it at once.
Magnus: Escort Varden to comfortable quarters, not a cell. His duel will be arranged.
Danica Chambers: Dame Kingswood's old rooms. She was a hunter.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Kraliqh, see that Magnus sees the receipt for your fine.
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Also. Dhulir.
Dhulir Runemagner: M'lord?
Lord Malcolm Hardcastle: Prepare a proper inspection this time.
Dhulir Runemagner: Aye, M'lord.