Before Ilvani can reply to Fortune’s question or Gruunk’s confusion, the entirety of House Macjyata rocks with the force of a massive explosion—or perhaps an earthquake. A moment later, there is a tremendous crashing downstairs, and you hear a great voice call out:
“This incursion is unwarranted, Urbasano! I gave you no leave to attack one of your sister houses. You will stop this needless violence AT ONCE!”
You peak around the corner and down the stairs just long enough to catch a glimpse of an enormous purple form striding down the hall with long purposeful strides. The giant’s very steps ring with authority.
Matron Urbasano herself hurries out to greet what can only be the fomorian King Bronner himself, but you are much too far away to hear what is said. Nevertheless, the next few hours quickly become a blur of confused activity as House Urbasano forces hurriedly withdraw from their newfound gains. In snatches, you manage to learn that King Bronner has forbidden the Urbasano conquest on the grounds that Matron Urbasano neglected to inform the king of her plans in advance and thereby secure his permission for them. That the king has never before required permission for such a raid seems irrelevant somehow to all involved. However, if this seems capricious, it perhaps begins to make more sense when you later learn that Macjyata’s eldest daughter has somehow become newly betrothed to King Bronner’s youngest son. Such a match will be nearly ruinous for Macjyata, both in terms of social standing and its sheer dowry requirement, but it is still a damn sight better than the utter destruction that Urbasano was about to visit upon her closest neighbors. You can only guess that Matron Urbasano was either unable or, for whatever reason unwilling, to make King Bronner an equal counter-offer to the last-gasp-of-desperation offer that Matron Macjyata obviously made. In any event, in addition to the financial implications, the betrothal gains House Bronner both a new de facto vassal house as well as the opportunity to put not one but two of its drow subordinates firmly down in their respective places. Meanwhile, you yourselves have had an opportunity to learn something about drow schemes. Which is to say that participating in them is a fool’s game.
What’s worse, the next few days within the familiar confines of House Urbasano are utterly unbearable. Matron Urbasano herself is furious, leaving everyone else on edge and fearful. For you, this manifests in gratuitous additional beatings from Modred and his slave drivers, but you are by no means the only ones affected. All of the drow walk around like newly-scalded dogs, and several of the House’s nobles are seen in quiet, urgent argument. Once, one such argument—between the lady Tailen and Nymeria—erupts into open shouts with weapons drawn. Fortunately, Weapons Master Adius is there to calm the situation before things get completely out of control, but the event leaves the household even more on edge than ever. By the end of a week, the matron’s demon-consort Malakus has returned to walk the halls, bringing the ever-present fear of torture and death, even to the House’s nobles. After that, the paranoia reaches a fever pitch.
Curiously, the only thing missing from this toxic stew of fear and punishment is Modred’s personal vengeance. Instead, when he beats you, it’s mostly either mechanical—because you angered someone—or emotional—because he’s angry and wants to work the aggression off somehow, and you’re a convenient target. However, he never once mentions the crystal tree or anything that happened to him down in Macjyata’s basement. After a while, this becomes something of an obvious omission, making the lack of retribution actually more, not less, threatening. From the way he looks at you, especially at Eduardo, you can tell that he hasn’t forgotten. But he’s holding his tongue for some reason. Biding his time.
All of this lasts for a week. By the end of it, you’re showing obvious bruises and beginning to wear down. It’s at this point that you’re called before Tailen.
”Come on, you lot,” Modred says when he comes to fetch you at the end of one particularly long and grueling work day. ”I ain’t about to let you keep the Lady waiting.”