This Epilogue is the very last installment within the With Good Intentions storyline and resolves the remaining storyline effects from Gen Con 2023. You can read about the Gen Con story effects in our recent article here.
During the For the Family multiplayer event at Gen Con, participants were provided a special story decision regarding Vodacce:
Which Vodacce character will have a redemption arc?
Any character in Vodacce was up for grabs, and the participants unanimously decided on lowely Angelo, the Vodacce thug. Therefore, the Epilogue is told through the perspective of Angelo, who is beginning to question whether he’s one of the good guys.
Castille broke Kaspar’s occupation of the Forums while Vodacce claimed the ultimate victory at the first world Championship. To represent this, Castille has indeed toppled Kaspar’s dominance, but thanks in large part to the Don’s assistance and meddling. Perhaps Vodacce has gained more than El Gato thinks they may have?
Taking advantage of the chaos, Yevgeni has walked away with an incredible prize that is sure to give Ussura an advantage in the conflict to come.
by Carmel Rechnitzer
Angelo didn’t exactly know what a “symbolism” was, but by Theus, he was really excited to be doing it for the first time. The sun shone high above the Forum, packed to the brim with gawking commonfolk. He stood in the center of it all like one of those actors under the spotlight at Don Constanzo’s theater. Except he wasn’t going to be singing Opera, he was going to toss Old Iron Kaspar’s desk into the ocean. That meant real prestige. Angelo was actually going to be a part of history, history. Not just pretending to be someone important, like those fools galivanting onstage in pumpkin pants.
What’s more, his best mates were all right there with him. Dante, obnoxiously handsome as ever. Buratino, lumbering and moody despite their victory. Alcee, preemptively drunk for the upcoming party. It was moments like this, Angelo understood, that a person lived for. He had blood on his hands, and he’d certainly failed to make his father proud. But this was it. He would never be as happy, or as close to his friends, as he was about to be in the next twenty five minutes. The moment was so… so! So momentous! He was already feeling melancholy in anticipation of the nostalgia of looking back on this glorious…
Don Constanzo’s hand clapped him on the shoulder. The old man moved with a supernatural silence, even though one would expect his silver-tipped cane to clink as he shuffled. Admittedly, the wind was loud and the crowd ahead was louder. But still… This was Constanzo Scarpa! The blood-drenched Doge of the City of Five Sail’s criminal underground. At this point, honestly, criminal above ground, too. Angelo always expected to hear the fearful “oohs” and “aahs” ahead of his liege’s appearance. The old man made it a game, or maybe a show of power, to place a hand on his targets without being noticed. The Don’s grip was paternal, in the same way that a lashing with a belt was. Angelo had experienced this trick a dozen times, and he still flinched each time.
“You know the plan?” his patron asked.
“Sì, mio signore,” he whispered back. The grip on his shoulder changed to a light-hearted pat.
“Good.” The Don shuffled past him. All the agents of the Red Hand Gang moved with him, to push back the eager onlookers and create a clearing. Once the lines of sight were established, the Don transformed. His crooked back straightened, and his wizened chest barreled out. His cane became a scepter of office, which he swept across the crowd to silence them.
“The Eisen reign of terror is over!” declared the Don. Silence, not cheers, met him. As much as the average Five Sails citizen might eagerly await the return of “normal,” none of them were happy to find it at the Don’s feet. Don Constanzo knew, and didn’t expect them to cheer his name. He simply needed them to know it was his doing.
As choreographed, the second sneakiest person in all of Five Sails prepared to make their appearance. El Gato, fully costumed in black leather and black silk, appeared behind Angelo. On cue, Angelo held up his hand to assist them in climbing on top of the desk. The mysterious burglar did exactly as expected, and stole the ring right off Angelo’s finger. It was second nature to them, and Angelo would honestly bet that El Gato hadn’t done so wittingly. The action was practiced enough to have become second nature. Utterly automatic.
The ring was silver, set with a stunningly rare black opal. While a regular opal was milky white, with rainbow glimmers dancing across the stone… This one was unique. The gem was an ashen gray, and the rainbow glimmers seemed embedded in its multifaceted center. Black opal was possibly the rarest gemstone on all of Théah. What a lucky find this trinket had been. And what a lucky place to find it. Right on the finger of the Musketeer they’d murdered and dumped in the bay last night.
El Gato vaulted onto the desk and held up a victorious fist. The black opal gleamed on their ring finger as they spoke of triumph and freedom. The crowd cheered for them, ecstatic. It was easy to love El Gato. Don Constanzo gave food, safety, and fortune to those who obeyed his iron law. El Gato gave the same to anyone and everyone on a whim. Angelo knew better than to trust such a thief. Any man or woman who could steal so casually couldn’t truly have good intentions, could they?
“From this day forward, the Forum will be administered by the commons! I am the captain of the Castille district, but my loyalty is to this City in all her beauty! No more tyrants. No more occupation!” El Gato announced. “I ask that each District sends her brightest and her kindest to the Forums! Not their nobles, not their masters, not their moneyed! We rule as equals!”
Huh. That wasn’t the plan. Castille got the Forums. Don Constanzo kept the Docks. The Bazaar became neutral ground for wheeling, dealing and stealing. Those were the three tenants of Don Constanzo’s scheme. And it wasn’t like El Gato hadn’t played their part in the scheme… The capricious Cat themselves had told Odette Dubois D’Arrent where Lafayette was being kept. If it wasn’t for them, last night’s double ambush wouldn’t have been possible.
He supposed such was the way of things. He had literally just enacted the Red Hand Gang’s betrayal a moment ago, hadn’t he? The other Musketeers, wherever they stood in the crowd, couldn’t miss their comrade’s ring catching the sunlight. The wrath of Montaigne would descend on Castille and blood would flow. It was only natural that El Gato had a twist of their own to play.
A shame. The twist appealed to Angelo. A Forum administered by regular folks sounded like a dream come true. No more opulent jackasses cutting deals and twisting the arm of the little guy. It was why he’d joined the Red Hand Gang as a youth. His father’s business was sunk in some insurance and lawsuit scheme of a long forgotten mayor. Angelo’s entire family had been rendered destitute by the most impeccably polite monsters society had to offer. Not two years later, as part of a Red Hand raid, he’d stuck a very satisfying knife in a very accommodating back. Loyalty to the Don had paid dividends.
“Bread for the hungry! Justice for the poor! A better tomorrow for us all!” El Gato roared in closing. The crowd cheered for them, like they would never cheer for Angelo. What a pack of idiots. What buffoons. There were no such things as heroes. Not here.
El Gato leapt off the desk and approached Don Constanzo. They moved with undisguised hate, every part of their previously playful movement turning stiff. It was the kind of approach that Angelo would watch out for at a tavern. The angry approach of someone who wanted to kick the teeth out of your skull. The Don didn’t flinch away, or attempt to intimidate El Gato in return. He wore a self-satisfied, sardonic grin. The two shook hands in a perfectly diplomatic fashion. Cold, mechanical, clearly signifying a temporary peace. Angelo knew it also signified a triumph for the Vodacce. Don Constanzo only shook hands with men after he’d ripped and torn a victory from them.
El Gato retreated to give everyone else around, both Castilian and Vodacce, a quick handshake and congratulations. Angelo saw them whisper to Alcee, Dante, and Buratino in turn. He saw each of his friends’ faces twist in surprise. He knew to anticipate their handshake to turn into a brotherly embrace. He expected El Gato to issue a threat or a bribe or maybe just a particularly sharp insult. He didn’t expect their voice to sound so… glum.
“You don’t have to live in fear, Angelo.”
El Gato disappeared into the crowd. Angelo wanted to laugh bravely or maybe shout something manly after them, but couldn’t muster a response in time. He didn’t live in fear. He was an agent of fear. The City feared the Don, and Angelo was the Don’s man. Fear was for everyone else!
So why did that little comment stick like a thorn in his heart?
“Come on, dumbass!” Alcee playfully smacked his cheek. He refocused, and she blew him a flirty kiss, as if to say “sorry.” Angelo shrugged the bewildering comment away. He grabbed his corner of Kaspar’s desk, and helped his fellows usher it out of the Forum. They were going to toss the damn thing in the bay, just like they’d done with the corpses of the Eisen mercenaries and that pathetic musketeer.
Afterwards, they were going to have themselves a proper party, like the one they’d ruined on Saint Terni’s Day. This would be the best night of his life. With Kaspar wounded and missing, with Montaigne about to clash with Castille… The Red Hand Gang was about to reign supreme. This would be the best night of his life so far. Things were only going to get better from here.
One day, I’m going to own these streets! You’ll see! I don’t need your pity, El Gato!
As they hoisted the desk up and away, Don Constanzo surprised him yet again. Theus damn that old creep and his vice-like grip.
“A simple part to play, but performed well,” he told Angelo. “I’m still displeased that the other Musketeers managed to flee yesterday. But you’ve almost redeemed yourself. Do your best to stay in my good graces, now that you’ve found your way to them.”
The Don hustled past the four of them, joining the front of the Voddace procession. Ahead of them were Vittoria Anselmo, an infamous poisoner; Servo Scarpa, a volatile murderer; and Cesca del Rosso, the cruelest witch to ever haunt this soil. Theus damn me, Angelo sighed. Who was he trying to kid? He was positively terrified.
Yevgeni paid no mind to the parade marching its way through the City. He marched against the crowd, eager to make his way back to the Ussuran district. His overwhelming size made sure that even the most empty-headed celebrants managed to notice him and step out of his way. It was less his height, which was above average but not freakish. It was more the broadness of his shoulders. Yevgeni was about twice as wide as any man in the City, and his forearms were thicker than most men’s thighs. He didn’t mean to scare the commonfolk, but in the moment, he appreciated the freedom to simply walk as he pleased.
He had the wounded Nazem slung across one shoulder. He’d practically had to rip that brave, lovesick fool from his sickbed. He was waiting for that Juska woman to return “one final time” before heading home… Too damn bad. If she was really the love of Nazem’s life (and by the Mother, hadn’t the hotshot adventurer had seven of those by now?), she’d chase the two of them down eventually.
He tried to treat the younger man with grace and without too much jostling. Nazem had invaded Kaspar Dietrich’s home to steal from Old Iron’s wife. Without Nazem’s unmatched courage, Yevgenni wouldn’t have the Syrneth Crystal Eye tucked into his rucksack. Still, Nazem should have left his lady love behind and returned home by now.
On his other shoulder perched another irritating ally: Temnota. The obnoxious raven was leaning into his ear and crowing, “eye, eye, eye!”
“Soon, little birdie,” Yevgenni assured him. The raven paid him no mind and kept reciting:
“Eye-Eye! Past, Present, Future Eye!
Gaze on the many seeds of time!
Each one refracted crystal clear.
Spot their sprouts and flowering crowns,
Grab hold the shears of Fate and prune!”
Yevgeni did not begrudge the critter his nonsense poetry. Temnota had yet to explain a single one of its goals, but the raven had confidently led Yevgeni to the City of Five Sails, and now to the Crystal Eye.
First, Yevgeni would use the Syrneth artifact to gaze into his unremembered past and learn who and what he was. Next would come seizing hold of the future. Somewhere in the midst of that, he’d repay the squawking corvid all the favors he was due. Assuming Temnota had good intentions, of course.