Yish, Clarion, Wubbe, and Cory. Guy at the desk, looks somewhat familiar. He is furiously writing with a quill. When Yish tries to ask a question, the old man puts up a finger, as if he was hushing him. Clarion remembers the old man from the temptation trial. However, he is much older in this trial. Yish calls him the “concierge”.
After the old man finishes writing, he looks up at the crowd and begins asking them questions.
“Why are you here? Why have you continued to take the challenges?”
“What is Bandu to you?”
“What qualifies you to be king, above all other candidates?”
As one begins to speak, each cannot hear the others’ answers. Clearly, Yish, Clarion, Wubbe, and Cory are being interviewed by the old man, each individually, even though they are all in the same space. Each is given a chair to sit in and a side table with a favorite drink (this does not suit Wubbe very well).
“To resurrect my daughter.”
“The place to resurrect my daughter.”
“I am no more or less qualified than any other to be ruler. Anyone can do it.“
“I was curious to find out what was going on in here.”
“It’s the place where people important to my present condition have brought me.”
“When there were some trouble-making ponies in my herd, I took care of them.”
“I am trying to find my friend.”
“It is where I am, at least, and indeed, at most.”
“Absolutely nothing. Me being a king would be a total mistake, and we both know that. (After all, you gave me my favorite drink.)”
Cory’s answers (not revealed).
Now that the final challenge is complete, there is one more day remaining before the suspicious and still-not-perfectly described service by Demon Co. is completed and announced. Clarion spends the day preparing for the announcement day. Marda and Wubbe spend the day war training Wubbe; Marda’s animal companion, a wolf pup of Siph’s is there as well. Cory gathers his forces; he plans to meet the party over on the east gate of the castle. Cory plans to take over the kingdom with the least amount of bloodshed.
On the day of the announcement, Cory, his army, and the party all walk through the east gate without any resistance. Since the castle guards offer no resistance, party members feel this to be suspicious. Yish approaches Cory about this; Cory also feels that this activity is suspicious.
At the main square, there is Cory’s uncle, sitting off to the side of the stage. A Demon spokesperson whom Clarion recognizes. The Demon begins his speech as Cory and his army walk in behind the gathered people. “Thanks everyone, for coming.” Cory and his uncle lock eyes, and a staring contest begins. Yish furtively asks Clarion whether on a scale from 0 to death how bad this announcement situation would turn out (where death is a 10); Clarion responds that the Demon network workers should not cause too much of a problem, since they are happy with the uncle ruling Bandu.
Cory desires to move forward and confront his uncle. At this moment, the uncle leans over and whispers to the presentation Demon. The presentation Demon does not blush (he is a floating, flame-engulfed human skull: a Hatethrall). The uncle now gets up and heads back up to the palace with a small force of guards. Cory pursues his uncle, with Cory’s followers dispersing to take control of key locations. The current guards seem to even offer help to Cory’s followers.
Hiss goes up to the person who seems most in charge among the group of guards left with the party. He salutes Hiss and informs the party that they were assigned to protect the party. The Hatethrall continues hyping the product without revealing what it is when a sudden, loud crashing noise is heard from the palace. The party moves towards the noise. No guards are to be seen, but Cory and his uncle can be seen at the doors of the palace. Cory is standing out from the doors, with the uncle standing in the doorway. Both doors seem to have been blown off their hinges, out from the palace. Yish bemoans the broken doors. Cory’s uncle sees the approaching party. He says, “Oh good. More toys. I’ve been holding back this whole time. But now, it doesn’t matter.” The uncle hunches over and then his arms strangely elongate, and his teeth sharpen, and his skin turns a pale grey. Cory is horrified, but he has his sword drawn, positioned defensively. Yish recognizes that this is some sort of demon possessing the body of the uncle.
Hiss takes the first strike with magic missile. As the creature smiles, baring its scary and sharp teeth, Yish makes a warbling tuba sound to summon a solid note around its neck. The creature then grabs a candelabra from behind him and throws it at Yish (though he misses). To be continued.