5 Coolwater, 960 RM, afternoon
After Lady Hawthorne left his tower, Quion disguised himself in a pilgrim’s robe and made his way to Derry Dale. He had a plan in mind and needed Niamh’s help implementing it. Arriving at Derry Dale, he found Niamh cooking. Quion told Niamh that the man who had assaulted him the previous night was a man named Ward Chaumer from the College of Cli. Chaumer had aspirations of joining the Draconians and was convinced he would be readily accepted. Quion suggested that Niamh enlist Chaumer’s help in investigating Quion’s “murder” under the pretense of assessing his readiness for the force. Quion also hoped that Chaumer would try to implicate whoever had set him onto Quion, probably Candiwyn’s father or betrothed. Quion feared that any direct accusation against Chaumer would lead to the student being “thrown to the wolves” so to speak. He also presented the letter he had received that had led him to the ambush. Niamh assured Quion that she would put his plan into action as soon as she reported for duty, which would be shortly after the evening meal.
Quion returned to the crime scene in an attempt to gain any evidence that had not been obliterated since the attack. Quion determined that there had been three people waiting for him, but not for very long. The woman he had mistaken for Candiwyn was the same size as his former friend, she had been standing in the road. Chaumer and Billy had hidden in the bushes beside the road. Billy was a large man, probably a Swordarm acting as a bodyguard for the wizard. After he had finished his investigation, Quion went to Draconian Headquarters to play dead if Chaumer wanted to study the “body.”
Lady Hawthorne attended the festival to try to relax after delivering Quion’s description of his attackers to the Draconians. While wandering the fair grounds, she spotted Archbishop Edmond Tully also taking in the festival. Lady Hawthorne offered to accompany the Archbishop and the two engaged in a long conversation. Archbishop Tully studied Lady Hawthorne for a moment, “If I may be so bold as to make an observation, Lady Hawthorne. When you first arrived at Crow’s Head Mountain, you were a lost soul. When you returned with the wounded man, Richard, I saw that the fire had returned to your soul. Now, I see that you have changed yet again, your faith seems to have fully returned.”
Lady Hawthorne nodded, “My faith has returned, even stronger that before.”
Archbishop Tully, “Then will you be taking the oath to serve the gods?” This was a very serious question.
Lady Hawthorne paused for a moment, “I believe I will.”
The Archbishop looked into Lady Hawthorne’s eyes, “This is a very serious oath you understand. You are not only dedicating your life to the service of the Trinity, but to the service of your fellow man.”
Lady Hawthorne smiled, “This is the first duty I will committee to under my own choosing.”
The Archbishop also smiled, “Then it would be my honor to perform the ritual for you if you so desire.”
“I would very much like that,” Lady Hawthorne stated, “Would you be available the day after the Baron’s Ball, Elfday?”
”I would. Where would you prefer to have the ceremony take place? In the town or Crow’s Head Mountain?”
“The chapel at Gray Haven actually.” She continued when she saw the surprised looked on the Archbishop’s face, “I have found that to be my place of solace.” The Archbishop agreed and they spent the rest of the day talking about the barony.
Wythri was tending the booth she and Eldamoth had set up in order to sell charms and potions. The business they were doing was quite good. Eldamoth resupplied the booth when needed while Wythri made the sales. Eldamoth approached the booth mid-morning quite excited. A courier from the castle had arrived at the shop requesting both Eldamoth and Wythri’s presence at the ball the following day. Baron du Clef had an important announcement to make and wanted both of them to be present. Wythri had already been planning to attend and advised Eldamoth to acquire a new robe of the occasion. She also assured him that she would speak with Master Wraithchild to find an appropriate escort for her master.
Damien Wraithchild had received Quion’s descriptions of his attackers from Lady Hawthorne and was watching the pavilion that housed the Collage of Cli. He had no trouble spotting the Swordarm Billy, but Chaumer and the woman were not among the wizards entertaining the festival goers. After several hours he went to find Lady Hawthorne and was stopped by Wythri. Wythri asked Damien if he would be her escort to the Baron’s Ball, which he agreed, and since he knew several “ladies” if he could find a suitable escort for Eldamoth. Damien said he would try, not sure if Wythri understood the type of “ladies” he knew. He found Lady Hawthorne talking to the Archbishop so kept his distance.
Benedikt of Crom and Randell Stowes of the Deadly Seven spent some time before their dinner at Derry Dale making themselves presentable. When they arrived at Niamh’s house, they found she had prepared a dinner of stew and fresh bread for them.
Lieutenant O’Derry arrived at Draconian Headquarters in the best mood she had been in since transferring to Foxtown three years ago. She enlisted Sergeant Will’s aid in Quion’s plan and the two of them approached the Collage of Cli’s tent. Niamh introduced herself and asked to speak with Ward Chaumer regarding an investigation she was conducting. She told Chaumer that she had learned that he had applied to enter the Draconians, and since she was investigating a murder with possible thaumic connections, one of the victim’s last words was something like “Chamer,” she would appreciate his help. She could also observe him and write a letter of recommendation for him. Chaumer hesitantly agreed so Niamh lead him to the murder site. She explained that the victim was Quion Rake, a clerk in the employee of Baron du Clef so she was under pressure to find the killer quickly. Quion had also been a student at the College of Cli but had since left the school. She produced the letter Quion had given her to see if Chaumer recognized the hand writing and had any idea who “C” could be. She also told him that the other word Quion had uttered before his death was Candiwyn. Chaumer told Niamh what had happened between Quion and Candiwyn and that Quion was acquitted because the level of spell used in the potion was considered above Quion’s level of learning. He also told Niamh that Candiwyn was still in Drache. Niamh asked is perhaps Candiwyn’s family was behind the attack, but Chaumer denied any knowledge. Sargent Will had been watching Chaumer throughout the conversation and noticed the student getting more and more nervous as the questioning continued, especially when Candiwyn was mentioned. He also noticed that two people, a young woman and a large man, were following them. Arriving at the North Gate, Niamh asked Chaumer if he could detect any residue magic in the area that might help them learn more about the murder. Chaumer tried three times to cast a spell, but after failing, he simply teleported away to his companions and they fled the area. Convinced of Chaumer’s guilt, Niamh sent Will back to Draconian Headquarters to report to Quion while she returned to the Festival to look for Lady Hawthorne and Damien.
The final round of the Taleweaver Competition was beginning as Niamh, Will, and Chaumer left the Festival. The finalists included Emmit’s Jug Band, a local band with lots of enthusiasm; the Crystal Sisters, also a local duo; Raul Reyes, a guitar player from Kidbod; Brandwyn Wright from the Deadly Seven; and the one-eyed man from the previous evening who told the tale of the giants. Bri was in a sticky situation when the last act failed to come to the stage! After all four groups had performed, the crowd could not choose between Raul Reyes and the Crystal Sisters. Baron du Clef was then called to the stage to award the prizes. He presented the Bronze Metal to Emmit’s Jug Band, the Silver Metal to Raulo Rezz, and the Gold Metal to the Crystal Sisters.
Niamh returned to the Festival and quickly found Lady Hawthorne and Damien. She related Quion’s plan and what she and Sergeant Will had learned from Chaumer. At Lady Hawthorne’s request, Damien collected Baron du Clef from the company of the Crystal Sisters. After hearing Niamh’s report, Baron du Clef ordered Ward Chaumer and his associates arrested for assaulting Quion. Niamh gathered up several of the Irregulars while Lady Hawthorne changed into her uniform and collected several of the Baron’s Guards from Gray Haven.
The two groups approached the College of Cli’s pavilion while Damien stealthily approached the back of the tent to prevent the suspects from bolting. Niamh announced the warrant for the arrest of Chaumer and his associates, but Damien came riding around from the back stating the three had already taken horses and fled. Lady Hawthorne quickly mounted her horse Night and the two pursued the three fugitives.
The Draconians returned to headquarters where Niamh gave a quick report to Quion before she and the Irregulars joined the pursuit. After hearing Niamh’s account of the events, Quion went to the Festival grounds and asked for entry to the lead representative’s tent. Quion entered and was greeted by Otiluke the Merry, a member of the Council of Nine consisting of the most powerful wizards in Demoria. Baron du Clef was already there meeting with Otiluke. Quion apologized for the upheaval he had caused, but Otiluke stated that he was the one who should apologize for the attack on Quion and promised that the offenders would be punished. Quion expressed his thoughts that Chaumer and his associates were merely pawns and the person who directed the attack be found. Quion also requested that if at all possible his letter to Candiwyn be delivered to her as was originally intended. Otiluke promised he would see that Candiwyn received the letter, so Quion rewrote the letter. Baron du Clef also added his support to Quion. Quion then returned to Draconian Headquarters to await news from Niamh.
Damien was able to catch up with the woman who was the slowest of the three riders. He jumped from his horse onto hers and stopped her horse. After binding her and leaving her for the Draconians, he and Lady Hawthorne continued the chase for the two men.
6 Coolwater, 960 RM
Lady Hawthorne, Damien, and the Draconians arrived at the Foxton Gate at first light. The guards there told them that two riders had passed through a few hours earlier. With much trepidation, the group stopped to rest their horses and have breakfast before returning to Foxtown.
Returning to Draconian Headquarters, Niamh placed the woman, Natalie Sharp, in a cell and informed Quion the other two had managed to leave the barony. Quion returned to Gray Haven and was assaulted by Cici’s babbling about her time at the Festival. It was not until she paused for a breath that she noticed her master was injured.
Lady Hawthorne returned to Hawthorne Manor and quickly prepared for the Baron’s Ball. She met Sir James in the parlor. They both apologized for not being able to spend more time together. “When I had first heard that you had accepted the position of Captain of the Baron’s Guard, I had assumed the position to be a ceremonial one and that you would not be placed in any danger. So I did not object at that time.” Sir James told her, “Recent events have proven otherwise and so I have requested that Baron du Clef release you from your duty.”
Lady Hawthorne frowned, “Have you now? I assure you that Baron du Clef has my safety and that the barony in the foremost of his mind. I am also well aware of my duties as Captain of the Baron’s Guards and I believe I will continue in that duty. I will also be taking Nathaniel’s place in service to the church in the morning. I believe I will be of greatest service staying here in Foxton in the proximity of Crow’s Head Mountain.”
Sir James frowned, “Then there is nothing I can say to dissuade you from this course?”
Lady Hawthorne smiled, “I believe not.”
Still frowning, Sir James offered his arm to Lady Hawthorne and escorted her to the carriage that was waiting to take them to Gray Haven.
Niamh, Damien, Wythri, Eldamoth, and Mistress Kane arrived at Gray Haven. The castle was lit up both inside and outside. Music from the ballroom spilled out into the courtyard as the carriage arrived. Quion meet Niamh at the entrance to the castle and escorted her in. The ballroom was filled with visiting dignitaries, Mayor Hobbs, Captain Waggoner, and members of the town council. Quion told Niamh what had happened during his meeting with Otiluke and surprised her by dancing with her.
Sir James and Lady Hawthorne arrived and Wythri noticed the attitudes between the two. She and Damien greeted the Hawthornes and were introduced to Sir James. The contingent from the College of Cli arrived, led by Otiluke the Merry who was dressed in outlandishly bright, clashing colors. Sir James excused himself from the conversation with Wythri and Damien to get some wine for himself and Lady Hawthorne.
Baron du Clef entered the ballroom room announced by a trumpeting fanfare. He welcomed his guests to the ball and reminded everyone that an important announcement would be made at the end of the evening’s festivities. He then approached Lady Hawthorne who told him that Ward Chaumer and Billy had fled the barony. Baron du Clef assured her that this issue could be tabled for the moment.
Wythri met Otiluke and was confused by his manner and learned that he knew the Baron while he was a student at the College of Cli. Quion talked with his former classmates and learned the latest news from the College. Lady Hawthorne also was introduced to Otiluke and was amused by his manner. She also kept an eye on Baronet Percy Lelander to make sure he did not get too far into his cups. Quion introduced Niamh to Otiluke who recognized her as a witch but did not have the typical reaction she was used to.
At the end of the Ball, Baron du Clef announced that he would be looking for a court wizard this month. All applicants would have to pass a series of challenges and he would announce his decision by the end of the month.
Otiluke and a slightly inebriated Wythri ended the Festival with a magical fireworks display, each trying to outdo the other.