Revelations & Revels
A Blast from the Past
We had only just arrived back from the treasure hunting escapade, when local Magistrate Malik Rotwell decided to come by the tavern and collect his tax levy in the form of a free meal. Of course, he didn’t announce himself … nor did he say anything in advance about expecting to have his choice of the menu selections gratis as collection of our taxes. He ordered. He ate the food he was served. He stood up to leave, not having yet paid, and announced he had collected our taxes. At that point, none of us knew who he was. But we were about to find out.
Raganash treated him as he would any other patron who tried to leave without paying, confronting him at the door. The magistrate took it as a challenge to a duel and they went outside. Last time I tried to stop Raganash, he took a hefty swing at me and I wasn’t of a mind to intervene in this one. I just stood in the doorway to keep what was outside from spilling back inside. It was probably a good thing. Almost too fast to see, the magistrate whipped out his sword and cut off Raganash’s hand. It took all the self-control I possess to get help putting pressure on the bleeding and collect the severed hand. It didn’t seem right to just leave it lying out there.
We bundled Raganash inside and up the stairs. Fiona and Aliella joined the group. Once we got Raganash and the hand upstairs, I let them do what they could and went downstairs to see about hot water and some linens to tear for bandages. Apparently I missed the miracle. According to Fiona, Aliella started chanting and held Raganash’s hand up to his arm and somehow, they rejoined and healed.
Raganash fled to his room in the cellar. We tried over the course of the next several days to get him to come out – or let one of us in – so we could check on his arm and hand. He stubbornly refused. Ever since our encounter with the Shambling Mound, he’s been saying Fiona is “half-mound” and has been somewhat wary of her. It’s also clear he has suspicions when it comes to Darkarus (but then don’t we all?). So now that Aliella has done this miraculous thing … maybe he’s steering clear of all of them. On a hunch, I chased them all out of the place one morning and pounded on the cellar door. I told him everyone else was gone and that I needed to look at his hand to see how it was healing. He agreed. His hand looked like nothing had happened to it. He was willing to show me the various designs he’s been drawing and talk about his ideas on sword crafting. It sounded like he was doing as well in mind and spirits as his body seemed to be doing, so I let him be.
The next day, who should suddenly appear but my former mentor, Sir Alon Mendor and his squire of the year, Ergol. A year or so ago, I might have been delighted to see Sir Mendor. After all, he was the one who showed me wider possibilities than I might otherwise have imagined. I doubt I’ll ever forget how we first met. The barbarian incursions were particularly bad that season and it was the first time my youngest brother was permitted to go out with our forces. My mother and I were at home with the household and a few older men-at-arms to defend the place. A party of barbarians managed to get through my father’s line. They reached the estate and were coming into the manor itself. As I hurried up the main stairs with my mother while the barbarians were bursting through the door, I saw the ropes used for maneuvering the chandelier so the candles could be replaced and lit. I suppose it was fear-induced insanity that moved me to secure the rope around the railing, grab a sword and swing down. I cut two of the barbarians through the mid-section as my father and brothers came inside, accompanied by a knight I’d never seen before. The scene sort of froze for a moment … except for me, still swaying on the rope. My brothers’ jaws were all gaping open; my father looked surprised … maybe a mix of being startled and impressed. After he’d surveyed the scene for a moment, the stranger turned to my father and said, “Actually, I think it should be her.”
That was Sir Alon Mendor. I had no idea what he was talking about at the time – but I was about to find out. He and my father told my mother that I was being offered a position in his school, a finishing school … which it was … sort of. It certainly did refine my manners a bit (even though I try not to let my mother know that) and teach me even more about how to conduct myself in social situations – lots of different social situations, not just at court. But I knew there was going to be a lot more to it than just a finishing school for ladies when my Uncle Ansel, our family fencing master, gave me an early present of my rapier and main gauche, telling me he was giving them to me because I really was the best of the class and that he was thrilled I was given this opportunity.
Suffice it to say I learned a lot under Sir Alon’s tutelage. And I acquired a number of important connections. However, that network of connections had a hand in the unfortunate arrangement that all but forced me to leave home and come to Elweir. So I was not happy to see anyone connected to that awful situation here at all – certainly not in my place.
Seeing him come in, unannounced and unexpected, was surprising enough – but that was not the biggest surprise of his visit. The biggest surprise was that he greeted Aliella as well as me. It turns out she studied with him, too – not that you’d ever guess it the way she acts around combat … or her complete inability to pull watch duty. He invited both of us to join him for a private conversation and Aliella (un)helpfully suggested the common area upstairs.
It was quite clear early in the conversation that she’d been ratting on me to someone in that network for some time. I was furious with her! It did not escape Sir Alon’s notice that I was none too pleased with him, either. He asked why – and I reminded him of the unacceptable arrangement made on my behalf and that they had a role in that. He informed me that he hadn’t been involved in that one and personally considered that arrangement to be a waste of good talent. Well, that softened my attitude toward him considerably.
Then Aliella proceeded to tell him about Colvin – emphasizing the romantic possibilities. I pointed out the potential usefulness of the connection … and then brought up her relationship with Dr. Itu. (She’s been making time with him ever since the incident with Raganash and the magistrate … and oh yeah, Colvin told me more about Malick and warned me to never cross swords with him – as if! Anyway, Aliella’s attitude about Dr. Itu has been softening considerably over the last few days. She’s been going to visit him and help at the Lowtown clinic every chance she gets.) Sir Alon asked what the issue with Dr. Itu is. Before I could respond, Aliella went all dreamy about him. So I just looked at Sir Alon, nodded toward Aliella, and said, “That.”
Sir Alon was very pleased that I’ve been practicing with the Prince’s Guard – and he was very displeased that Aliella had not been practicing at all. He reminded her of that “special room” back at the school. I asked how many times he’d had to put her in it; he only said, “More times than we did you” … which isn’t saying a whole lot since I was only in there once. I came within inches of running the man they put me in there with through with my rapier and they never put me in there again. Then Sir Alon essentially forced her to agree to a practice session the next morning in the alley behind the tavern.
So the next morning, Raganash and I watched them go at it from the upstairs windows. We were even openly betting on how things would go between them. It serves her right for ratting on me like she did – and bringing up my relationship with Colvin. Sir Alon did have to chase her around quite a bit. But eventually she did manage some solid work with her quarterstaff. It was worth every copper I lost to Raganash.
Sir Alon and Ergol left the next day. Villages on the frontier at the edge of the Nylsen Forest have been disappearing and they were going to investigate. Fiona also left. She had no desire to remain in Elweir during the Revels, so she was heading out into nature for the duration of the festivities. Darkarus mentioned something about someone was going to come to talk to us about some sort of job once the Revels had ended.
Aliella wouldn’t have missed the Revels for the world. She did some shows here and some back at the Abyzinian Night. She even hired someone else to entertain here when she was there … and then she got involved in his knife throwing act at one point. It was crazy. In many ways it was a lot like the fall in-gathering back home. Lots of people come to the estate to bring in the harvest and other provisions and store them for the winter. As good hosts, we would feed the workers, serving alongside the usual servants … and it is something of a celebration as well … and with enough drink people start to forget who the noble family is and who the help is. Knowing how to deliver a solid, well-deserved slap came in handy back then and it did again here during the Revels. But sometimes that wasn’t enough. I think every table in the dining area now has at least one gouge from my dagger. I missed the hand every time – just like I meant to do. We did make a good profit from all of it, and now it’s over so maybe life can get back to normal … whatever that is.
Did Darkarus say something about someone coming to talk to us about a possible job when the Revels were over?