"So," said Sam, "the war that's about to happen between the humans and us is actually being engineered by the cult of Vecna, and the High Provost is a member of the cult. On a scale from one to human sacrifice, how devout would you say he is?"
"Very," answered Ruin. "Devout enough to send us to a remote island to retrieve a major magical artifact related to the god, devout enough to know when we'd retrieved it, and devout enough to be irritated that we went to someone else to have it removed from the wizard Azrael and wouldn't admit that we had it."
There was a moment where Sam tilted her head, and Darvinin could almost see her flipping through old stories and odd bits of knowledge.
"Why do we call it human sacrifice, anyway?" grumbled Leander. "It's not like it's any less egregious to sacrifice someone from one of the other sentient races."
Ruin scowled darkly. "I always assumed it was called that because they were the ones who came up with the idea. Like Newacre Pudding. It got the name because that's where it was invented."
"Oh." Leander looked thoughtful.
"...The Eye of Vecna," Sam said slowly. "That Which Sees All Secrets. You found Vecna's eye."
Ruin nodded, and Baethira said, "Very good, dear. Yes, that's exactly what it was. The High Provost is extremely devout, and he was quite willing to sacrifice my son and his friends to see the Eye restored to his god. He downplays it to the True King and the court, of course, but..."
"...but he rather badly needs to be murdered to death," finished Ruin.
"As soon as we can, dear," said Baethira, her voice soothing.
Oh, good, thought Darvinin. Maybe the whole family's broken. Then, after a moment: But maybe that will carry us through. "So what do you want us to do?"
"Well," said Baethira, "Werendril should return to the border, and be ready to send word if the human forces do attack us... or pass along anything else he hears. Ruin will remain with me until he and the other Twiceborn sail as the King's emissaries. Darvinin and Mistra, I think you should return to the King's Own and do everything you can to protect him -- not just keep him from being killed, but keep him from being compromised. The rest of you... I'd like you to see what you can learn about the cult: what they're doing now, what their goal might be. I've seen a lot of political maneuvering that was designed merely to increase power and influence, but this feels like something else; this feels like a plot with a very specific goal."
Mistra said, "I'm in."
Darvinin squeezed her hand and nodded slowly. "Very well."
Shanna and Sam exchanged a glance, but it was Leander the Elf who spoke up: "This," he said, "sounds like a proper heist."
Baethira nodded. "It will be extremely dangerous; the cult will be on their guard, and may very well know of you already. That's part of why I want Darvinin and Mistra back in the King's Own; to the right, it makes them more visible, and to the left they're some of the few who appreciate what sort of attacks the servants of Vecna tend to use. They aren't looking for a bloody assassination -- at least, not if it will be blamed on them. They'll want control, control gained through influence, misdirection, and obfuscation."
Darvinin nodded at that.
"...But that's also why I wanted to meet you all here. Yes, it might draw their attention; but it gives us a chance to do some things that they might not see coming. And it was Evrimon who gave me the idea. Leander the Elf, would you step into my study? I'd like to consult with you."
Leander stood, straightened, bowed. "I would be honored."