Evening of the 5th of Trademeet, year 2009
Even though it was early dusk, the sky was already black. The growing breeze wafted the smell of the sea and of rain to come, up the paved streets of Merrin.
“Gorgauntin’s wrath is soon to set upon us, strangers,” said Bertold, the butler of Castorin Manor. “Better make for shelter,” he finished, as he closed the estate gate behind the Delvers.
“We have a High Lord to question,” spoke Termina Dykestorm, eager to get on with the investigation.
“Aye, aye, that we do, friends,” replied Richard Longbottom, as he straightened his vest and checked up and down the street. “An’ looks like we’re gonna be shelterin up in the finest of establishments, unless Meg rubs this High Lord wrong.” With a snort, Meg Griffin led the party up the street to the High Lord’s keep.
After a few minutes of travel through the sparsely populated streets, the Delvers arrived at a fountain, just outside the keep of the High Lord. “I do hope this human proves cooperative,” said Unulith Amalitain, as he dipped his fingers into the fountain to smooth his hair.
“Well, if Lady Radalia turns out to be related to this High Lord somehow, he should find our business quite interestin,” replied Dick.
“Those guards standing by the front door better not give me any trouble, like those others did before. I haven’t eaten in hours, and I’m not in the mood!” said Meg. With a chuckle, Mr. Longbottom led the gang to the large oaken door of the keep, where two Merrin guards stood looking bored.
With a nod and a yawn, the left guard waved the group through saying, “You lot, speak to Jamison, the Lord’s butler, when you go in.” Returning the nod, Richard and the group strutted right in.
Upon entering, the Delvers found themselves in a spacious and well lit entry chamber. Tapestries depicting sea battles, and ships weathering maelstroms, hung on the cut stone walls, with candled sconces set between each. Much of the floor was covered with expensive-looking rugs of Avarran make. The only other person aside from the Delvers was a slightly over-weight balding man in his later years, sitting in a chair by the entrance to a corridor leading farther into the keep. Looking up, the man stood, and straightened his embroidered overcoat. The man was obviously Jamison, the butler, so the Delvers quickly explained that they needed to speak with the High Lord immediately. It took some convincing indeed, as the High Lord was in mourning over his late son, and Jamison was loathe to disturb him with the instrusion of strangers.
Relenting, the butler led the group down the corridor to the grand hall of the keep, where the High Lord sat in his throne. Actually, Lord Banaard was not sitting so much as lounging, with one leg over an armrest, and slouched over the other. The High Lord made a sad picture. His fine clothes were wrinkled and disheveled, the wine cup on the stand next to him was on its side, its contents staining the tablecloth beneath, the sorrowful melody he played on the lute on his lap, and most of all, the tears glistening on his cheeks. Even after Jamison announced the Delvers, the High Lord did not stop his sad tune, so they all had to wait for the song to end.
Now, the High Lord Banaard is not a young man, quite the contrary, his is old. He was, however, an accomplished musician in his youth, so when he finally concluded his mournful melody, the Delvers were obliged to clap politely. With eyes drowning in tears, the High Lord looked his new company over. “Good Jamison, who are these people? Subjects of mine, here to offer their meager words of consolation over the loss of my only son?” asked George Banaard.
“Nay, m’lord. They are travelers from Shap. They say they have news that concerns you.” replied Jamison the butler.
“Right O’, indeed we do, m’lord. News concerning someone who we think is related to you,” began Richard Longbottom. “You see, me an me friends here think we’ve met yer…daughter.”
“Nonsense, I have no daughter, I had only a son, and he is no more. Oh, Rayn’s abandoned me, and what a sad end my life has come to,” moaned the High Lord. Lord Banaard then slumped back into a sitting position, and reached for his cup, only to find it empty. “Jamison, more wine!” The butler hurried off the fetch another bottle for his master.
“Are you sure, m’lord? Never knew a daughter that you mayhaps…lost?” pried Dick.
“Lost?” said George as he set his lute beside his throne thoughtfully. “Wait! You do not mean Marishalla’s girl?”
Sighing impatiently, Unulith replied, “we do not know the mother’s name, we believe Elissa Radalia, councilwoman of Shap, is your daughter.”
Joy blossoming in his face, the High Lord said, “Radalia you say? Then Rayn has not forsaken me! Luck be praised! Marishalla married a fisherman named Marcus Radalia. But last I heard, Marishalla died a year ago, and Marcus some years before that; I never learned what happened to her daughter…my…my daughter.”
“So what? You went out one night and sexed up some woman you hardly knew?” interjected Meg.
“Not at all!” returned George, taken aback. “Marishalla used to be my wife’s servant, oh so long ago. I was smitten with her. When she told me in secret that she was pregnant with my child, I sent her away to avoid a scandal. I provided her with a generous amount of gold, and asked her to take care of herself, and her daughter; to find someone else to love. When it came time for the birth, I sent her to the best doctor in Merrin. After the birth, I got little news of them except that she married, and I felt she no longer needed me, so I moved on.”
“Well, we have news of Elissa, someone in Merrin tried to assassinate her in order to leave you with no heirs,” said Termina, blunt as usual. With that, the Delvers explained their whole story to the High Lord of Merrin, him listening with growing sternness. Once the Delvers finished the tale, the room was quiet for some time.
“Jamison, send for my noble subjects, and bid them attend me this evening.” commanded Lord Banaard.
“But, m’lord, it grows late, surely they will be nearly in bed by now,” objected the elderly butler.
“I want them in my presence, NOW!” shouted the High Lord, getting to his feet. “I go to take a bath and put on something unsoiled, and I expect all four of them in this hall when I return!” Lord Banaard then strode from the hall.
“Th- the kitchens should be able to provide you with supper, sirs,” offered Jamison before he too fled the hall in a hurry.
“Finally, we’re getting to the bottom of this mystery,” Termina said to her friends.
“Finally, we’re getting something to eat!” replied Meg as she waddled out of the throne room to the kitchens, letting her piggish nose guide her way.