In Which Amadeus Veks Confronts Rurik Dankil
"Not so fast, Son of Roark," echoed the commanding voice of the High Inquisitor after Graz'zt's gruesome display (see "Death of a Cambion"). The Heroes of the Verdant Realm turned to see Amadeus Veks twirling the Crown of Zandikar around his dominant index finger. "We need to talk..." he insisted, pulling out the crown of the late Queen Naresa and eyeing the other Heroes. "...in private," he amended. "Come with me."
As Rurik Dankil followed Veks through Castle Vibrant, the High Inquisitor held a one-sided conversation with the young prince. "You know it's strange, Rurik; there's no written testimony from the little chat we had. I've poured through the transcripts of your allies ad infinitum. It's almost like someone is trying to hide something…"
Veks led Rurik down a long spiraled staircase, into an area deep below the Castle. Once at the bottom, he snatched a standing torch from a stand on the floor and led onward down a seemingly endless dark hallway. Just as the Dwarf was thinking the man mad, the High Inquisitor stopped, turned, and revealed a secret passage with the wave of his hand. Inside the passage was a portal (and one far less evil than those Rurik had previously encountered); Veks beckoned the Prince to step through, and followed closely behind.
On the other side of the portal, Rurik stood face to face with another spiral staircase, this time leading up for further than he cared to imagine. Amadeus Veks continued his monologue as he began his ascent, passing Rurik in the process. "You know, I've worked with your father...now that is a good leader: strong, confident, honest...a man of his word." They soon reached the top of the stairs, where a bold green curtain obscured the room ahead. It was here that Veks added, "You should really try to be more like your father, Rurik," before pulling the curtain away to reveal the very room where Queen Naresa had met her demise at the hands of the Dwarven Prince. The Magic Mirror was there as well, covered, in the place Rurik had seen it last.
Veks tapped the butt of his long torch on the floor, causing a golden flash which recreated the scene of Naresa’s death: the queen climbing the stairs into the secret chamber, tearing the cover off the mirror, and shouting “Where is he?! I need to speak to him NOW!” When she turned to leave and tripped, Rurik appeared as she rolled down the spiral staircase (the very one he and Veks had just climbed). The scene showed him leap into the Magic Mirror as the Queen tumbled to her death.
”Naturally,” narrated the High Inquisitor as the scene played out just as Rurik remembered it, “we revived the Queen, who caught sight of you as she tumbled to her death. As fast as you are and you didn’t even try to help! I really hate to see this, Rurik - this downward spiral. Luckily, I know it is only because you have strayed from the light.”
“She died in her sleep later that night,” he added, then paused and turned to look at Rurik. “Natural causes. Don't you see, Rurik, we knew all along. A Veksing Interrogation was really only a formality."
Veks tapped his torch again and fiery true seeing outlines revealed Malchior positioned on the wall nearby (with the help of his spider climb). The scene replayed the Scorched Bard following Naresa down the stairs to confirm the kill, then returning to the secret chamber and entering the Magic Mirror, only to pull it crashing down behind him.
As Amadeus Veks continued with his pontifications, the scene replayed on a loop in the background. “They say you can tell a man’s character by the company he keeps. Your ‘friends,’ these ‘Heroes of the Verdant Realm,' are no more than agents of chaos, no better than the one defeated earlier today!" Veks continued, the intensity of his speech increasing dramatically as he spoke. "They have corrupted you, Rurik, and their stench permeates to all corners of the Verdant Realm. It is they who compelled you to take the Crown of Zandikar; it is because of them that you took the Rod of Control!” Calmer, Veks added, "It is because of them that our Queen died that day."
As the scene of Naresa’s death restarted anew, Veks paused the sequence. He gestured to the outline of Malchior and spoke with renewed vigor. “And HE! The Scorched Bard is the worst one of them all! His arrogance, his impetuousness, his head-in-the-clouds demeanor, that noise he calls ‘music,’ is impalatable! Even now his chaos spreads across the lands: lowering property values by erecting hideous residential monstrosities, attempting to corrupt future generations with his dins and dissonant cacophanies…” At this the High Inquisitor took a moment to pause and re-center himself. “Rurik, you can still return to the light, but for him I fear it may be too late. You are a prince with extended life and a bright future! He is a Bard, albeit a talented one - perhaps the strongest in all of Argones - but a performer nonetheless. Do not throw away your future, your birthright, your destiny. Turn Malchior over; let us help him atone for his blatant anti-lawlessness; remove your name from this debacle completely.”
As the Dwarf processed what Veks had just proposed, the High Inquisitor added, “There is no need to answer now. Think about what we have discussed here today and act upon it whenever and however you see fit. There will be no need to inform me of your decision either; I have a feeling I will find out shortly after anyway.”
Looking over his shoulder at the dwarven heir, Veks punctuated his statement with, “You are dismissed, Son of Roark.” He continued speaking as he turned back away from the prince. “I hope that when next we meet it is under more…amicable pretenses.”
At this, Amadeus Veks snapped his fingers and the next thing Rurik knew he was standing just inside the front gates of Castle Vibrant. As the enormous double doors swung ajar, he saw the smiling faces of his allies, the Heroes of the Verdant Realm, waiting to greet him as he descended the grand staircase at the entrance to the castle. Rurik thought about how much of his interaction with the High Inquisitor he would share with the group, and how much would need to remain a secret, at least for the time being…