This looks like … A Job for Us
Darkarus mentioned … back before the revels, I think … that he had someone who wanted to talk to all of us about a possible job. Apparently something in the gazette caught Darkarus’ fancy as work he could do. But when he made contact with the person responsible for the notice, he was told he could not do it alone. Whoever it was would be willing to meet with us and discuss the matter after the Revels had ended. I’d almost forgotten until the chief steward of the Uril household showed up at our place with quite an entourage.
The company included none other than Branda Uril of Gold’s Reside. (I’d encountered her briefly when I was recently at a ball with Colvin.) She was looking for someone to find out what circumstances led to the death of her son, Tiran, around the time of the late prince’s tragic hunting accident. This was years ago and would likely require a fair amount of delicacy in investigating since there were potential political complications (which would be why Darkarus needed help as he has very limited political connections in Elweir and is seriously lacking in delicacy). This old case was being brought to new light because a cousin of the family had recently been found in hiding. This cousin had disclosed to Branda that Tiran had heard some hint of a plot against the prince shortly before he died and the cousin was convinced this hint had led to Tiran’s murder …which is why the cousin fled from Elweir. The apparent cause of Tiran’s death was as mysterious as it was clear. Tiran was accused of murdering a merchant from Gibberish in Lowtown in the middle of the night. He was executed on the spot by Magistrate Malick Rotwell (yeah, the self same nasty piece of work that took off Raganash’s hand). This swift execution was deemed unusual only in that, had the magistrate waited, he would have received some substantial bribe. Although Tiran was known to be a frequent user of illicit substances, murder was not consistent with his character (and that a merchant of Gibberish should happen to be in Lowtown at night – with money – was an even more bizarre element of the whole story).
The recently returned cousin informed us that Tiran had overheard the troublesome hint at the Colorful Smoke and that the party he had overheard went by the name “the Protectors of Elweir.” One thing I’d picked up on when I was at that ball in Gold’s Reside was that there is some tension between supporters of Duke Coeur (who wants to annex Elweir into his duchy) and supporters of the free-city status quo under Prince Summerset. In a further conversation, Colvin was most helpful in providing the details of the hunting accident that claimed the life of Prince Summerset’s father. The late prince had taken a position where it was difficult for him to be seen by other members of his party. Three of the men hunting with him shot him with their arrows – Lord Drake Saltbraid, Lord Sandover Reed, and Magistrate Lustshine. Each took responsibility for his action and all professed it was an accident. Colvin, who had been present at the time, acknowledged that the claim the shootings had been accidental was quite plausible, given the situation. Colvin also told me that although Tiran was from a fine family, he did suffer from an addiction to illicit smoking products. To his credit, Colvin did not fault Madame Uril at all and saw it as due to a lack of paternal influence due to the untimely death of Tiran’s father. The issue of Tiran’s addiction may have been why he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time so that he overheard the plotting of to so-called Protectors of Elweir. It certainly would have undermined his own credibility as a witness had he even tried to report to anyone what he’d heard.
Through his own contacts at the Colorful Smoke, Darkarus learned that these three men had a long-standing habit of meeting once a week in a private room at that shop. However, getting into that room while they were in there would be very difficult. Darkarus had an idea that might work, but there was no other option if it didn’t … not to mention absolutely no back-up plan if it went very badly and he were discovered spying. So Aliella and I agreed to go as back up. If he weren’t able to find out who were the Protectors of Elweir, we would accidentally stumble into the room as a couple of intoxicated sillies looking for the loo.
To further help in the pretense, we enlisted the Shury Brothers (who happened to be passing through Elweir) to accompany us. (I also found out the Brass Bowl is their local contact point for their illicit substance trade.) The four of us went to the Colorful Smoke a short time after Darkarus had entered the shop. While we waited, we enjoyed a glass of wine and some cigars Darkarus had recommended. (He has okay taste, but I wouldn’t make a habit of any of this … including the company!) When Darkarus showed he had been successful in his efforts, we left shortly after he did.
Back at our own tavern, Darkarus reported that he had been able to listen in on their conversation and he discovered that there was a signed agreement about the assassination which was in the possession of the son of Duke Lothar Coeur who resides in Little Romnel. That document, were it ever revealed, would prove the assassins’ guilt. The so-called “Protectors of Elweir” were none other than Lord Drake Saltbraid, Lord Sandover Reed, and Magistrate Lustshine – the same members of the late prince’s hunting party who had accidentally (on purpose) shot his highness. To further increase the risks for everyone involved, Darkarus had also learned that the three men were aware of the Uril Cousin’s return and that Branda Uril had people looking into the matter of her son’s death … and they discussed how they’d had him killed to keep him from talking about what he’d heard. The longer we sat on this information, the more likely they’d start picking us all off. Raganash knew of someone in town who would likely be able to procure the agreement for us. Who that person was and how he did it, I have no idea (and I’m not sure I want to!). But this mystery person did obtain the document and delivered it to us. Knowing the assassins were aware of the Uril family’s interest in this matter, we did not give the document to the household steward when he came for his regular appointment at our tavern. We let him know that we had it … and that we would deliver it to Madame Uril. I was quite certain he was being watched and would likely be ambushed if the “protectors” had a chance.
I doubt Aliella ever wondered why I took it my head soon after the Revels to go shopping for a day dress. We were going shopping and that’s all that mattered to her. However, it was for just such an occasion as this. In that dress, I could pass as a lady from Gold’s Reside. Aliella dressed as my maid and Fiona passed as a guard along with the men folk. With the pass Madame Uril had entrusted to me, we slipped into Gold’s Reside within the usual flow of traffic.
Madame Uril was stunned, yet satisfied, by the contents of the document we delivered to her. At long last she knew that her son had been framed for the murder as an excuse to kill him – and why this had been done. She had the document delivered to Prince Summerset and the next day we were all assembled, along with the conspirators, for an audience with the prince. Colvin and a couple other members of the Prince’s Guard came to escort us to the palace … and Colvin was looking at me like he’d never quite seen before. He asked “What did you do?” and I grumbled something about “I’m wearing a dress.” (I really wish he wouldn’t do that!)
Having already reviewed the documents and the information that Madame Uril had obtained from her nephew and through us, Prince Summerset was ready to issue his judgments. Because of their rank and status, he declined to have his father’s assassins summarily executed. Instead he opted for in-house confinement to prevent any further conspiring or ability to take such actions. Magistrate Rotwell was allowed to remain in his position because he was a good enforcer, which Lowtown seems to require, and because there was no evidence he was directly connected with the plot. Even less clear was whether or not he knew he was being used to eliminate an inconvenient witness. We were given significant rewards for our efforts – royal pardons (one of which we needed later for the tax on the load we brought back from Simkin Lake), free transit on the Uril’s barge (should we need it) and I was allowed to keep the pass to enter Gold’s Reside.
Apparently, Malick Rotwell was given some additional instructions about his past conduct and guidance for improvement going forward. He came into our tavern again and apologized for the previous incident. Raganash just smiled and waved at him … and, regarding the magistrate with a completely baffled look, I said “What incident?” He quickly fumbled his way back out the door.
Perhaps all is well that ends so well….