July 20th: First Light
We survived another night and actually got some sleep.
Amalline told us of her strange dream. She finished seconds before Mistress Bloom came to fetch her away from the undesirables (that would be all of us) and prepare her for her big day. Tempest went with them to guard Ama. Mistress Bloom was not pleased.
Glyph spent a long time fiddling around with rituals, he also muttered something about reading thoughts.. He seems to be trying some new technique that involves exhausting himself nearly to unconsciousness. I find it easier to simply use the correct components, but wizards are odd creatures and Glyph is even odder than most.
I left him to his rituals and went to get some breakfast. On the way, I encountered a maid who was on her way to fetch me. Mr. Crowe, she said was here to see me.
So, I went to speak with my father, Tobias Crowe. He can be imposing and I figured he’d heard that he owed the Duke a bit now for the whole business with my leg.
He was happy to see that I’m not lame, but as I suspected, he’s disgruntled that he now owes someone a bit rather than it being the other way round. He did give me two interesting and possibly useful bits of information.
First: There is an Eladrin envoy coming through the forest to see the Duke. He will be arriving tonight, but there is an ambush planned to ensure he never reaches the palace.
Second: He knows where Robillard is hiding and told me.
The third bit of information from him was less welcome…he’s still looking for a “mate” for me and thinks he may have found someone who will overlook my affliction. Lucky me.
Cu went to the Duke’s practice yard. Finding the Duke busy sparring with his weapons master, Cu took the time to do some training with William (Ama’s brother). While so engaged, Cu discovered that the Duke is very agitated over recent events and that something happened in the dungeons last night.
He also mentioned that someone named Kupral may be coming to visit. Cu didn’t say why, but this is obviously disturbing to him, though I know not why. In asking, I found that Kupral was involved in the Arena in Maldar somehow, so maybe it is just that it is painful for him to recall that time.
Finally, the Duke finished his workout and was able to speak with Cu for a moment.
In their talk, it seems that the Duke had noticed that his daughter is headstrong and stubborn (and isn’t the father always last to figure that out). Cu tried to convince him that he needs to give the girl her freedom and let her do what she must. He wasn’t convinced, but he trusts Cu to protect her, I think.
He also indicated that he has set up supply caches in case Cu has to take Ama to ground. I don’t like the sound of that at all.
Amalline meanwhile, was being bathed, perfumed and clothed as befits her station. Her schedule, she discovered, was completely full. Also, her stepmother wanted to see her as well as Timeon. She was anxious to speak with the Duke about the dream she’d had as well.
Ama and Tempest went down to the formal dining room for some breakfast while I was having mine in the warm, comfy kitchen. Cu rejoined them there and I met them all there as well, after I finished my own repast.
On the way, there was a strange incident though. I could have sworn I saw Ama moving down the hallway toward the chapel. By the time I got there, she was gone. Neither of the altar boys in the chapel had seen her, though one of them thought he’d heard the door open and smelled Jasmine, but he saw no one. Strange.
Glyph arrived at the formal dining room right after I did. He said that shadows have been gathering here, more than we even knew. Something dark is happening and we’re probably not going to like it. I’m starting to understand Nara’s desire to stay in the grove all the time.
After a discussion of all the things we needed to do before Ama’s party, we decided to do the worst bit first and went down to see Lady Anyalka. Selena, her daughter, was there as well.
They wished her a happy birthday and then the Lady began to speak of how worried she and the Duke are about Ama, both for her safety and her character given the provicincials she’s chosen to have as companions. I think she means us, but then, nobles are all arrogance until they need one of us lesser folk.
In any case, she has arranged for some special security for her beloved stepdaughter in the form of some Maldaran Security Service guard who will be arriving soon to protect her.
Soon, means weeks though and until then, Ama should be prepared to be locked down and kept away from the inferiors she’s chosen to spend time with. Oh, and the lady has also found a Maldaran nobleman to marry Ama.
Ama wasn’t happy with any of this, but she smiled through clenched teeth and then walked away not intending to do any of it.
Next, we went to see Timeon, the leech. He had wanted to meet with her alone, but conceded when she told him that we knew about what he’d done.
Turns out he worked for someone he could not resist and could not name (under threat of death as we soon found out). Glyph said he was under some kind of compulsion to not reveal the name. He said if he said the name of his benefactress (he did say it was a woman, beautiful and smelling of Jasmine), his head would explode.
When Glyph touched his mind (and I have to remember he can do that), he found nothing, whatever Timeon was, is gone. The mysterious woman has been visiting him for a year or so, but he has seen her before from after with others. Seems she assumes the form that most pleases the person she is appearing to. For Timeon, this was Ama’s form. The name he called her by was Amalline.
The fact that so many people seem obsessed with Ama is kind of disturbing.
For her, he has been gathering samples of blood from all of his patients of rank and wealth by way of night leeches. This includes Ama and her family as well as nearly anyone of rank and/or importance in the palace. This could be a problem.
So, trying to get around the whole “speak and his head blows up” problem, we asked Timeon to write the name of his benefactress.
We got “The Lady in Silv” before his head exploded.
As a side note, I’ve never seen a head actually explode and it was much messier than I’d ever thought it would be. A head is pretty small, but the whole room was covered in bloody bits with some teeny bits of gray stuff mixed in. I think it was his brain.
Oh, and Ama’s dresses for the day…well, I don’t want to be around when Mistress Bloom sees them. We were a bit, um, coated in gore as well, except for Glyph who has a ritual that keeps him clean.
Our work with the physician done, we went to speak with the Duke, leaving a grisly trail behind us. As we turned the corner, we heard the screams of the first maid who arrived in the room.
As we arrived at the Duke’s audience chamber, Malvena Vol was just leaving.
The Duke made a huge fuss over Ama, but she was drenched in blood, so he probably did have a point, but after finding out that none of the blood was hers, he was a bit calmer. The difference in parents is amazing to me sometimes. My own sire would have simply asked if I had been hurt, I’d have said no and he’d have started in on me for how much money it would cost to clean everything and replace the gowns that were ruined.
In any case, Ama gave him the quick version of what had happened with Timeon, including the head blowing up part.
We talked also about the Lady in Silver. The Duke said she’s a myth from the time of the Night Dragon, nothing more. She was a figure who was said to have helped many people after the attack and then vanished.
I told him about the Eladrin who was on the way. He wasn’t expecting an envoy, but did understand the importance of not having such a personage harmed on his lands. He suggested that we deal with this without his daughter. (I still find it amusing that he thinks Ama would ever be content to sit aside while others do things.)
Meanwhile Wizard Kyman arrived and used some ritual to clean us all. He had listened to what we’d said, but then he went off to Ama’s room to work on getting her gowns to a somewhat presentable condition.
The Duke decided that Ama’s official double could do some of her duties today, including the blessings of the commoners. She could rest (again, Your Grace, have you met your daughter?) and prepare for the evening’s festivities.
We took our leave of the Duke and moved on to see how Kyman was faring in Ama’s gory bedroom.
When we arrived, a maid was still sobbing hysterically outside the room, going on about worms. Kyman wasn’t there and, according to the people gathered there, had never arrived.
We spoke to the hysterical girl about the worms and she said it had been one fat worm that had dropped from his neck, a foot long with tiny legs. I felt sick hearing this, I must report it to the Council as soon as I am able.
The maids captured the thing and put it down the privy.
The worm was a puppet master, but they are supposed to be extinct. The worm finds an inconspicuous site on a body and burrows in, moving to the brain to gain complete control of the host’s body and mind. It is classified as an aberration.
This is very bad.
Since Kyman hadn’t arrived at the room, we went to the tower to see what had diverted him.
He wasn’t there. Lucef was scrubbing the floors again. I wonder if he ever gets any magical training or if he simply spends his life scrubbing the floor. He said that Kyman hadn’t been past since he left with Glyph.
We went on to search the place and didn’t find him in any of the areas he’d normally be in.
In his private workroom, we found young Cadwallis who was very rude to us, and seems to have a particular enmity toward Glyph. He was working on something that he was quite secretive about, but left when challenged leaving his project behind.
Glyph told us it was a Dreammaker, which would, when finished give the user a waking vision of some importance to them…if it was made correctly. Done wrong, it would cause some damage. I didn’t get a straight answer as to whether this damage would be permanent or passing. In any case, Glyph made sure this one wouldn’t work.
So, we went back to the great hall and asked the guards stationed there where Kyman had gone after he left. One said that he had muttered something about cleaning and had headed toward the chapel, the second said that he had scurried away toward the main part of the palace.
Cu rejoined us then (I think I forgot to mention that he went back to the forge while we searched for Kyman). He had made a set of Goliath Steel armor for Ama.
Fish Breath was also brought to Cu. He drank a keg of the wine for the party and was on his way to the dungeon. Cu didn’t stop them, but told him that he’d get him out later on.
We went to the ambush site next, wanting to be there before it all happened. Ama came with us, which will, no doubt, get us in trouble later on.
The ambush site was in a place we in the Council call the Spider Glade, since a particularly nasty family of spiders lives in some trees there. When we arrived, I was surprised to see Nara Blackstaff there. I bounded up to her (I was in my usual lioness form) and sat at her feet. She did not recognize me as she usually does and seemed frightened.
I changed form and spoke with her. She was not herself, if she was even Nara. She was with a group of men, all Elves who were not Druids which was even stranger.
She told us to leave that they would deal with this. We declined and then our time was up, the diplomatic party was on the way. Nara and her group were the ambush.
We fought and killed Nara’s friends while she ran off to intercept the Eladrin. They were clearly ready for an ambush and caught her. They marched back to us and we introduced ourselves.
They were very interested in Amalline.
Seems she’s under arrest for grand theft and murder.
We’re definitely going to be late for the party.