4pm – Oct 12, 1135 – Willard’s Manse
Late afternoon. We are back in Edmund’s room in Bastion. Abby and I are pretty banged up after the mission to deliver Willard’s gift to the island hideout of his nemesis, Salithius the Perceptive. Reginald’s dead corpse continues to spill blood onto the fine imported carpet on which it rests..
Our arrival has created quite a commotion. Amy comes running into the room, taking in the sight of us and of the bloody mess on the ground.
Edmund reassures her, “Meet Reginald the Sadistic. He had to die and I’m very happy that he caused us no more trouble than he did. We now need to wait for Willard to let us know if he considers this enough of a success.”
“Edmund the Pragmatic,” sighs the mage. “It’s nice to have a title!”
“Has the gift been received?” he wants to know.
Edmund replies for the group. “We delivered it, but had a bit of trouble with his assistant, Reginald”. He explains the scenario, and how it was necessary for me to slit Reginald’s throat to protect his beloved Abby from harm. He mutters and nods perceptibly. I feel a wave of relief.
Willard wants to know our next steps. We have a number of options as we see it:
- To repay our debt to The Elium for raising Willard from the dead.
- To seek contact with The Whip, Isos Warod, a senior figure in The Guild who has been implicated in the MacEachern plot, and through him to bring an end to the manhunt against us.
- To find John MacEachern and follow from him up the list of conspirators until we are able to find some way to end the manhunt.
- To seek Samuel Dix, a senior cleric in the House of Uros, who also has been implicated in the MacEachern plot.
- To seek advice from Abby’s parents, who appear to know more than they are letting on.
“You’ve ruined the priceless rug in your room, Edmund,” she shakes a finger at him. “I knew you were a failure and this simply proves it.” Edmund tries to placate her but Mabel storms out, a ball of rage.
“Fix this, Edmund,” says Willard. “Or else…” Turning to the rest of us, he says, “You will join me for dinner.” With that, we leave the study and head back to our rooms. Edmund can be heard down the stairwell, negotiating with Mabel over a long trip to Olduvai in the next few weeks in order to make up for the mess and to find a similar rug.
An hour or so later, we are gathering in the living room for dinner. Jon laughs quietly and points to the floor, where an identical carpet to the blood soaked mess in Edmund’s room can be found. “Apparently not so rare. I looked at the tag. It came from the market in town,” he adds helpfully, directing the words towards Edmund.
From the dining room can be heard the sounds of conversation. Candles are lit and a woman’s voice is speaking quickly and softly, as if relating a gossipy tale. Willard’s laugh fills the space. We move hurriedly towards the dinning room. There, a stunning young woman is next to Willard. She is wearing a low-cut, pearl encrusted dress. Her hand dances from above his plate to his knee, while she finishes her tale, Willard smiling broadly from beneath a powdered wig and courtly attire. He gestures for us to enter.
Lazelle turns her piercing eyes towards us. “I have seen your likeness before, perhaps on a wanted poster in the town square?” She affects shock, yet it is clear that she is anything but shocked to meet a band of accused murderers for dinner at the home of the most powerful wizard in Bastion. “You killed the honourable Councilman MacEachern, did you not?”, she asks.
Abby responds quickly, blurting “We saw MacEachern alive, just a few days ago. So clearly he isn’t dead”. A moment of silence. Dinner is served, steaming plates of food. Mabel must have been satisfied by Edmund’s kissing-up. Discussion follows the food, but I’m focused on this ravishingly-beautiful woman next to Willard. Someone so young, so beautiful and so aware? It is not likely, not likely, unless…
“Why are so many seeking to kill you? Whom did you offend?” asks Lazelle The surprise on her face looks so very genuine. I resist the urge to applaud her performance. Abby and Jon explain the long chain of events in general terms, including the flight of MacEachern, the Portal, the plot to disrupt the delicate balance of power in Atlin. “Why cant you simply explain yourselves to the Council, tell them what happened?” This elicits some more explanation. Willard looks somewhat amused by the whole to-and-fro. By the time the desserts have been served, the port drunk and the cheese plate exhausted, Lazelle has most of our story and we have gained very little more than we knew at the start of the meal about the mysterious lady companion to Willard. With a graceful farewell, Lazelle leaves Willard’s home.
Many raised eyebrows are turned towards Willard. But he is more intent on the rings that Reginald yielded to Edmund. Edmund tries to draw some information on Lazelle Jon voices the question we all have – that she is Guild or, somehow or other, connected into the rings of interlocking conspiracy surrounding us. There will be no resolution of the mystery tonight. Willard bids his good night and leaves
We decide to set out early the next morning for Sweetwater, to visit the Douglases. With that we retire, one more mystery unsolved.
Vinnik and Edmund are in a lengthy ’embrace’ as we prepare to depart from the living room we were in the night before. Edmund is whispering quickly into Vinnik’s ear as the enormous owl rests on his forearm. Soon, the owl disembarks onto a windowsill, leaving behind a bit of white poop as a parting gift before flying out into the morning light.
We link arms in a circle for the familiar woozy feeling, and arrive in the Douglas study in Sweetwater. It is empty but the mid-morning light is starting to fill the room through the half-drawn curtains of the western window. Abby calls to her parents.
Swiftly we are taken in for a heaping breakfast of pancakes and bacon. We explain part of the story of Willard’s call for help and the many events that have since transpired. “We left so abruptly last time,” says Abby, “I just wanted you to know that we are okay.”
Edmund turns the conversation towards the revelation that Geraldine Douglas is a mage of some skill, and that she began to train Abby in the magic arts. Geraldine explains that nearly everyone has within them the capability of drawing on magical forces. She challenges us to move a cup across the table. Abby does so. Jon appears to do so, but it is later revealed that Edmund caused it to move. I smirk and close my eyes, trying myself to move the cup, and open my eyes with surprise to see that I have succeeded in sliding the cup across the table.
Herbert Douglas changes the topic smartly, asking what our strategy shall be going forward. We come to no firm decision.
7pm – Oct 13, 1135 – Douglas Estate in Sweetwater
Herbert walks into the study, where we are all sitting, sipping wine and chatting amiably. A messenger has arrived, he says, and produces an unmarked parchment, sealed with a ribbon. “I’m not quite sure what it means.” He hands it to Edmund. “Perhaps it is for you”.
Edmund reads the short note aloud: “If you move on, all will be forgotten.”