Fruit of the Fallen

The Honor of a Dragonborn

A Friend in Need

Part 14 of The Adventures of The Split Falchion

Marwyn steps off the train car, following Vargard out of the train. He watches crates of grain being carried off the latter portion. The dead of winter is still a month away, but harvest has long passed. A grand city such as Fairhaven often needs storehouses filled with the grain of the fields surrounding it in order to comfortably pass the winter, and such a process often occupies rail, airship, and caravan traffic for months before first frost. I wonder what it was like during the war, Marwyn thinks to himself.
The railyards, like Passage, have been built to the city’s side. The thought of cutting an entryway into the fabled walls of Fairhaven would be too much for any true Aundairian to bear, to say nothing of the space the inner city would have to yield. Thus passengers and shipments approaching the city from the lightning rail needed to pass through the closest city gate. Marwyn remembers, from the brief overhead look he had gotten from Wroat, that the Brelish capital had similar accommodations. A stark difference, however, is that a section of wall had recently been opened in Wroat to allow for large cargo to pass, in order to reduce the impedance to foot traffic. It drastically weakened the city’s defenses there, and necessitated double the normal watch in that area. However, with the new peace, the rulers of the city obviously felt it worth the risk.

“Hold.” The gate guard says, throwing up a hand to block the group’s progress through the gate. “Vargard Garodin and company?”
“Yes?” Vargard responds cautiously.
“Message for you, sir,” the guard hands him a small envelope, sealed with a seal Marwyn didn’t recognize. Vargard clearly did, however, and quickly buries it in his pack.
“Thank you,” he says, and the guard ushers him forward.

“What was that?” Marwyn asks.
“Not now.” Vargard responds, and he picks up the pace once clear of the guard station. A few moments later, he steps into a small alley, and breaks the seal on the letter given. Vargard closely examines it, taking care not to expose the contents to anyone. Vargard grunts as he refolds the letter, returning it to the folds of his pack.
“Anything we should worry about?” Lesani asks.
“No, Les. It can wait. For now, we see Gilmont. We’re meeting him tomorrow in the university courtyard.”
“Are we going to The Crowned Leper again?” Marwyn asks.
“If they have room,” Vargard responds, “Rooms typically fill around this time, people wintering in the city need space after all. There should be space.” Vargard’s confidence is rewarded when the innkeeper informs him of the available rooms, and he pays for a week in advance.
“We’re here for at least a week?” Jorduna asks, hearing this.
“Possibly more. Problem, Jor?”
“No, no. I’m happy to kick back in the high city. Just… curious.” She eyes the posted bar menu with a hungry look. The train had arrived a few hours after noon, and by now it was well into the afternoon. The group orders dinner along with their rooms, and it is quickly brought out. There aren’t any empty tables, though when the group seats itself at the freest one, only occupied by a dwarf, the former occupant uproots, not liking the look of his prospective tablemates.

After the initial burst of gorging, the five settle down and take slow drinks, enjoying the break from their previous day of traveling via rail. “You should think about a new bow,” Vargard mentions to Marwyn, eyeing the elderly stave resting on the half-elf’s shoulder.
“Wh.. why?” Marwyn asks, surprised by the question.
“It’s not…” Vargard pauses to think, “A bow like that’ll work for a town guardsmen who has to menace someone in surrendering, but it’ll barely survive a melee or two.”
“I… I guess you’re right,” Marwyn says in resignation, “I can start looking for one tomorrow…”
“The University of Wynarn should have a good stock of enchanted weapons, from their enchantment training,” Vargard muses, “Gilmont mentioned a reward. Perhaps we could all ‘liberate’ something from there.”
“Sounds good to me,” Jorduna nods, “Could always use good daggers.”
“A magic weapon… yeah, that’d be great,” Marwyn responds, spirits lifted by the thought. He and Cletus stand, and move over to the bar to refill their mugs. They return quickly.
“The mark isn’t troubling you, is it?” Vargard asks.
Marwyn is a bit taken aback by the question, but answers, “No… I haven’t even felt anything since I first woke up in passage.”
“Good. It’s good that all that’s finally over with,” Vargard sighs.
“What made you think of it?” Marwyn continues, curious.
“Gilmont,” Vargard admits, “If it isn’t bothering you then it isn’t a problem.”
“Though I would suggest he keep researching the marks,” Lesani cuts in, “I assume Marwyn would be more comfortable with the mark removed, as opposed to neutralized.”
“Hey, let’s talk about something other than that monster that tried to rip my soul out, ok?” Jorduna asks irritated. The others search for a topic, taking a while to find one. Eventually, Lesani brings up her travels of the past decade, and Marwyn suddenly sits up.
“Gods, how could I have forgotten?” he curses to himself.
“What is it?” Vargard asks, confused.
“Mevalyn! I completely forgot about her,” he says, in a rush, “She should have reached Fairhaven by now. She could be in the city, right now!”
“Oh gods, not her again,” Jorduna complains, remembering.
“Calm down, Marwyn,” Vargard orders, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to run through the city screaming her name after we deal with Gilmont. It’s already getting late anyways, if she’s here, she’s probably already turned in for the night.”
“I…. ok Var,” Marwyn replies.
“Shot down,” Jorduna laughs, and stands to leave, “It is getting late, and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in… what, a week?”
“There was the train,” Lesani corrects her.
“What, you could sleep with all that jostling?”
“Obviously,” Lesani shoots back.
“You elves and your damn trancing,” Jorduna grumbles, before stumbling up towards the steps.
“Wait, Jor,” Vargard yells after her, and tosses a room key towards her. Inebriated as she was, Jorduna still manages to aptly catch the simple iron key. He dispenses the rest of the keys, and stands, “Should probably get some rest myself.”
“Me too,” Marwyn says, still disheartened by the previous exchanged.
“’m stayin’,” Cletus mumbles, remaining at the table with his drink.
“I shall review my supplies and secure my components,” Lesani says, also standing. “By the way, Marwyn, how go your rituals?”
“I,” Marwyn gulps, “I haven’t cast one in a while. Not since the woods…”
“That is perfectly fine,” Lesani placates, “Seeing as your attempt to cast the ritual free of components has so far been unsuccessful, it is wise to not waste them when not necessary. Though I would suggest turning your eye to new rituals, having a diverse ritual book is a very useful advantage.”
“Thanks, Les,” Marwyn says, grateful. He turns, and follows Vargard up the stairs.

The University of Wynarn was as grand as Marwyn remembers as he steps back into the main courtyard, trailing his four companions. No technomancers occupy the main stage at this time, a light rain driving most of the students inside. Marwyn does spot one figure moving across one of the green spaces of the courtyard. Surprisingly, several of the blooms had survived the oncoming cold. Even more surprising, Marwyn recognizes the figure moving across the field.
“Klezard!” Marwyn calls out, and the warforged raises a hand in greeting. It soon returns to work, however, and as Marwyn passes, he says, “Sorry, can’t talk. I’m here on business.”
“Later, perhaps. I have duties I must perform as well,” Klezard responds.
“When the hell did you meet a warforged?” Jorduna asks, as they continue walking towards one of the far towers.
“Last time we were here,” Marwyn responds, “Just sort of… I don’t know, ran into him. Er.. it.”
“Interesting…” Jorduna doesn’t comment further, and Marwyn doesn’t feel confident enough to push the issue.

The group stops just short of the main tower. An elderly dragonborn stands from the bench he had been seated at. “Mr. Garodin, and friends. Thank you for coming,”
“Gilmont, what’s wrong?” Vargard asks, shaking the professor’s hand.
“Not here, please. This is a sensitive matter. Follow me,” Vargard nods, and Gilmont leads the group into the tower. A short time later, Marwyn realizes that he recognizes the route.
“Wait, isn’t this the way to Ner’s office?”
“Professor Omidan? Yes, how did you…” Gilmont looks at Marwyn for a second, stopping halfway up the main staircase of the tower, “Ah, you are the bard Vargard has told me about. Ner is away for the week, and has allowed me use of his office.”
“Something wrong with yours?” Vargard asks.
“No, but Professor Omidan’s is somewhat… more secure. Please, it is not far.” A few more turns later, and the group stands in front of the office of one Ner Omidan. Gilmont withdraws a key and unlocks the office, ushering the five inside.

The room has changed since Marwyn last visited, the desk is now spotless, clear of the sprawl of notes that had once occupied it. In fact, the entire office seemed barren, despite the rows of dusty books that lines the far wall. Gilmont waves a hand in front of a part of the now closed door, and the same rune as before lights up.
“I see Ner is still as cautious as I remember,” Lesani observes.
“Yes, precisely why I…. oh,” Gilmont pauses, “There are not nearly enough chairs here to accommodate you, my apologies.”
“It’s fine Gilmont,” Vargard says, waving away the concern, “You said you had a problem. How can we help?”
“Ah… yes,” Gilmont sighs, and tiredly seats himself at the desk. “Old friend,” Gilmont begins, “I need ask you to perform a terrible deed. I would do it myself… if I had the courage.”
“What do you need?” Vargard asks, a worried tone entering his voice.
“I need you to kill my son.” Gilmont answers simply.
“Woah woah woah, hold on a minute,” Jorduna cuts in, “You want us to do what?!”
“Perhaps it is best if I… explain from the beginning,” Gilmont says, and coughs, clearing his throat.

“I was born on the continent of Argonessan. I won’t bore you with the details of my youth, suffice to say that, after some time, I had found myself endowed with both a healthy son, and the respect of my countrymen as a scholar,” he smiles to himself, “Not as much as I would have garnered as a warrior, true, but I was content with my position. Until the day I wanted more… a greater understanding of magic.”
“Gilmont, what did you do?” Vargard asks, not liking the dark tone that had entered.
“I… contacted a warlock colleague of mine, a fellow I believed to be my friend. I was led to believe he could provide the answers I sought for… a small price.”
“Of what pact was the warlock?” Lesani questions, a serious tone in her voice.
“I… I believed he was a student of Siberys. Though I soon learned of my error, he truly consorted with demons.”
“Surely you didn’t… how could you not…” Lesani tries to find the words.
“I was a fool,” Gilmont admits, “It was the classic story of an overambitious man ignoring caution in search of greater power. I thought nothing of his request to bring my son along for a ‘blessing’ from Siberys.” There’s a pained pause, then Gilmont sighs, and continues, “When I received the promised knowledge… it was then my error became plain. The dark secrets which entered my mind….”
“I am so sorry, friend,” Vargard says.
“I have come to terms with my past,” Gilmont returns, rallying himself, “There is no need for that. Needless to say, when I discovered his betrayal, I used my entire might to strike the traitor down. Our duel lasted so long, however, that it was not until after that I had realized my son…” another pause, “Our clerics determined nothing was wrong with him. I had not the courage to admit what had happened, so they had no reason to suspect a demonic presence. He was but an infant at the time, but by the time he had learned to speak… I fled. Not only my home, but the continent. My honor, irrevocably destroyed by this act. I am not sure if I would survive a return to my country.”
“What.., I’m sorry to ask this, but what exactly happened to your son?” Lesani asks hesitantly.
“His outward manner differed little from any normal child of our race. However, it was clear to me, in every moment that we were alone, that something changed about his behavior. Almost as if… he had stopped trying to mimic what others expected. If his mother had been alive… well, I am not certain if she would have noticed. No matter, it was clear my child was affected by a dark presence.” Gilmont rubs his eyes tiredly, “Do you want to know what his first words were to me? That, which caused my flight? ‘I know, father.’ Dvorcek said nothing else that day, just stared at me with empty eyes. I could not take it.”
“Has he… what has changed that makes you wish us to rid him from the world?” Lesani questions carefully.
“A letter I received,” Gilmont answers, “I would show you if it were in the common tongue. In short words, however, they were orders to present myself one mile outside of the southern city gate, to representatives from Argonessan. My son, in fact.”
“He is coming here? Gods, Craigor…” Vargard says. It was the first time Marwyn had heard Gilmont’s first name.
“Which is why I need your help. We must rid my nation of my mistake. I cannot allow it to be plagued by a demon disguised as my kin.”
“Wait,” Jorduna speaks up, for the first time, “Are we stopping them from taking you in? Because ‘representatives from Argonessan’ typically means a bunch of experienced fighters.”
“I…” Gilmont hesitates, “I will attempt to convince Dvorcek’s retinue of his true nature. Hopefully, they are simply ignorant, though I have no high hopes for my ability to convince them. If it comes to that, then I will need your help to bring down my son. After that, I will my surrender myself to whatever punishment my people wish to bring on me.”
“Craigor,” Vargard says, seriously, “We can help protect you from this. You may petition Aundair for sanctuary, for Sibery’s sake! Aurala knows the contributions you’ve made to this nation.”
“No, Mr. Garodin. That will not be necessary. Though, if you feel you are not up to the task, I would think no ill of you.”
“I cannot deny you assistance, Craigor. Even for a task as ghoulish as this. I will help, as will my men.” Marwyn glances over to Jorduna for a half-second, almost expecting her to protest at Vargard speaking for her. She accepts the words easily, however, and Marwyn reminds himself of the true nature of his profession. It’s been too long, he thinks to himself.
“That is… I am grateful. I must… prepare for this. They will arrive in two day’s time, dusk. You will need meet me here that morning. If there is anything you need…”
“On that note, I have both good and bad news,” Vargard answers, “We have dealt with our phantom. After we deal with this, and you return the university unharmed, I’ll tell you about it. The encounter, however, has left us rather light on equipment. My bard, for example, could use a new bow.”
“Of course, of course,” Gilmont answers, “I hope that I will have the chance to listen. I can show you to our stores. I do not have the influence to allow you to empty them, of course, but a few trinkets removed should not turn too many heads.”
“Thank you,” Vargard responds, and Gilmont stands to lead them out.

“How many daggers does that bring you up to?” Lesani asks, as she watches Jorduna twirl the enchanted dagger she had pulled from the University of Wynarn’s treasury.
“Not enough,” Jorduna answers, grinning. Jorduna, Lesani, and Cletus were back at The Crowned Leper, and Jorduna’s antics were attracting worried glances. “At least the kid got something that won’t shatter the moment he tries to draw an arrow.”
“Must you still call him that?” Lesani asks.
“Ah Les, he doesn’t mind. Besides, someone’s gotta remind him of his place.”
“Ain’t that Var’s job?” Cletus asks, sideways. As usual, the other occupants hide their surprise at his speech.
“Well…” Jorduna tries to think of something, then dismissively says, “Yes, he is our leader. So unless I hear different from him, kid he is except on missions.”
“Speaking of, I am not sure I am comfortable angering Argonessan diplomats,” Lesani changes to subject.
“What? Are you actually afraid of facing them?”
“Of course not. But in their eyes, they are bringing in a traitor to their people. It is a fair chance that the warriors we will face are, essentially, acting with what they view as the highest degree of honor and integrity.”
“Yeah, but, damn Les. I would think you’d sympathize with the guy being called a traitor to their nation?”
Anger enters Lesani’s voice, “What is that supposed to mean, Jor?”
“No..nothing,” Jorduna hurriedly reassures, backing down in surprise at Lesani’s anger.

Meanwhile, Marwyn is at the nearest archery range. He had rarely fired any arrows from a real bow in weeks, and with a possibly approaching, he knew he had to get back into shape. At first, he was surprised at how easy the art came back to him, until he realized with a little dread that it wasn’t him. The bow he was using now was magical, and after a few volleys it became clear that it was assisting his aim. He redoubled his efforts, trying to refine his technique.

An hour passes, and midway into the second, Marwyn begins to notice a certain barrier within the bow. Something that he could, with little effort, breach with focused intent. He does so, curious. The next arrow he fires, rather than merely penetrate the wooden target, causes it to turn slightly blue from chill. The rangemaster angrily yells at him, “Hey! Keep it mundane or I’m throwing you out!”
“S..sorry,” Marwyn stutters, surprised from the bow’s effect. He, of course, knew that it was a cold-enhanced bow. The dragonshard that Vargard had given him to enhance it had only driven home the point. The actual mechanism of the magic would take some getting used to, however. Keeping focus to sustain the effect, as well as the spells he cast over the arrows, would take time and concentration (which would clearly need to be spent elsewhere). He goes to nock another arrow, remembers himself, and deactivates the cold effect.

And in another part of the city, Vargard enters a dark room. “I got your letter,” he says, to a figure sitting at a small, unadorned table. The lighting obscured their features, and the voice was enigmatic. It indicated at the very least a humanoid, though it made no suggestion as to gender.
“Mr. Garodin. I do hope that your business with Shar’Radun was resolved to your satisfaction. I’m glad that this time your stay in Fairhaven isn’t marred by such an enemy.” it says.
“How did you… never mind. Am I to assume you need my services? It’s been a while.”
“Yes, it has. In good time, Mr. Garodin. I believe Professor Gilmont’s… predicament takes priority. You may have my assurances that we will keep the area clear of bystanders.”
“Kind of you.”
“We take care of our friends, Mr. Garodin. If it is of any interest to you, we offered to intercede on Professor Gilmont’s behalf. However, he turned us down.” A pause as the figure takes a small drink, and then resumes, “It goes without saying we would like to avoid a major diplomatic incident.”
“I understand,” Vargard says, grim-faced, “If it comes to it, I… I won’t stop them from taking Craigor. Though I doubt they’ll be too happy leaving us alone after we attack, and kill, one of their number.”
“We may only hope for the best.” The figure stands, and walks towards the far door. They stop, however, one hand on the frame, and turn, “I will require your assistance soon, Mr. Garodin. Expect my missive.”
Vargard, who had remained standing, turns and exits the other door, two guards taking positions by his side and escorting him out.

Vargard returns to The Crowned Leper to see his entire crew sitting around a table. He smiles as he sees them in good spirits. His eyes are momentarily drawn to the glowing blue gemstone bound to Marwyn’s bow. Though seemingly only attached by a thin leather cord, only a fool would try and remove it without its owner’s permission.
“That bow any good?” Vargard asks Marwyn, as he moves to sit at the table.
“Yeah, it is,” Marwyn says, moving over to make room, “Thanks for the dragonshard, by the way.”
“I’m just glad we finally found a use for it,” Vargard returns, “How about the rest of you? Are you prepared?”
“We’re good,” Cletus answers for the three, and the others don’t move to challenge him.
“Excellent. Take tomorrow to ready yourself. We leave for the university at dawn, and from there, it’s Craigor’s show.” They accept this, then continue with their food. Marwyn decides to turn in early. His nerves were starting to act up.

Professor Gilmont greets the group at the main gate of the University of Wynarn, two days later. “Vargard. It is.. not too late to back out of this.”
“I wouldn’t think of it,” Vargard responds. “Shall we depart?”
“Yes,” Gilmont says, businesslike, “If I judge correctly, my people will be scouting the area in advance of my surrender. We are probably too late to set an ambush… although I would not particularly enjoy such a tactic.”
“It’s your call, Craigor. Even if you want to call this off at the last minute, I’ll respect any decision you make.”
“Thank you, friend,” Gilmont replies, obviously grateful at Vargard’s loyalty. “We should depart now. It will likely be an hour to our destination.”
“Agreed.”

Marwyn can clearly tell where the meeting spot will be the moment they depart from Fairhaven. The southernmost gate of Fairhaven is a small one, its place relatively next to one of the main gate (which services the road from Lathleer) means that a larger one was not necessary. The small path that leads from it goes to several nearby hamlets, which farm the fields surrounding the city. There is a notable exception, where the Aundair River cuts through the landscape. While fertile ground, the kingdom of Aundair prohibits farming immediately adjacent to the coast, in order to prevent fouling the waters. Scanning about a mile out from their positions, Marwyn notices a barren area. No foot traffic even graces the area, the depth and breadth of the river preventing convenient travel without a nearby bridge. One could also conceivably scout the location from any of the farmhouses in adjacent plots, provided a small donation were given to the owner.

Marwyn’s guess is right when Gilmont leads the party away from the main road, travelling in a directed line to the barren ground.
“We wait here,” Gilmont says, after they had reached the bank of the Aundair River.
“Fine with me,” Jorduna says. Marwyn busies himself with setting down his supplies and mentally preparing for a possible skirmish. He doesn’t notice Jorduna’s fishing rod until the lure was already halfway across the water.
“Where do you keep that?” Marwyn asks, genuinely confused at how she could hide the tall rod without it being obvious.
“Can’t tell you everything, kid,” she responds, as she patiently waits for a bite.
Cletus is nowhere to be seen, though it can be assumed he is nearby. Lesani, meanwhile, is busy talking with Vargard and Gilmont. “I am to assume only Gilmont will address the dragonborn when they arrive?”
“Correct,” Gilmont answers, “Though it’s likely they will have a translator of the common tongue with them, it’s not likely all will understand you. Further, I do not like introducing the possibility of getting lost in translation into this… delicate situation. And, if my son’s allies cannot be persuaded, well, no amount of diplomacy will help then.”
“Understandable.”

It is several hours later, the bones of an impressively-sized fish lying next to a content Jorduna, when Cletus returns to the group. “They’re close. Half an hour at most,” he informs them, dropping his satchel and detaching his quiver from it. He then points in the direction the dragonborn were assumedly coming from.
Gilmont sighs, and stands from where he had been sitting by the fire Jorduna had built. “How many?”
“10. Maybe 12. Your son green?”
“Y..yes,” Gilmont responds, surprised, “How did you know?”
“’t shows,” Cletus simply answers.
“What of their weapons?” Vargard asks.
“Son’s definitely a paladin. Three others. One could be a cleric, ‘ts always hard to tell. Two archers. Two mages. Two to three with just swords, no sign of holy symbols or likewise,” Cletus reports.
“A paladin…” Gilmont says slowly to himself, only hearing Cletus’ first words, “His deception ran deeper than I thought. If… if it comes to battle, I ask that you try to spare any that you could. But only when it doesn’t place you in danger.”
“We’ll try our best, but our primary objectives are protecting you, and killing your son,” Vargard reasons.
“No,” Gilmont responds definitely, “Your only concern is your own survival, and my son’s demise. If I am slain or captured… you are not to take any risks. I will not have the death of you, or any of your men on my hands.”
“If you are sure, old friend,” Vargard says, his voice suggesting that he regretted every word he spoke.

One Day Later, Dawn

“Wha?!” Marwyn asks to himself, waking. For a moment, he thinks himself in Passage, still recovering from Shar’Radun’s curse. He quickly collects his thoughts, and finds himself back in his room at The Crowned Leper. Cletus isn’t in his bed, though his supplies are placed beside it. His last memory being the few moments before their confrontation with the dragonborn envoy, Marwyn quickly checks himself for any injuries, but finds none.

Marwyn throws open the door to his room, startling a passing gnome (who throws a half-hearted curse his way). By light on the windowsill he sees that it is near dawn, and after locking his room, he heads towards the stairs.

He finds the rest of his team huddled around what has now become their customary table at The Crowned Leper, no other patrons either brave or obstinate enough to challenge them whenever they sit there. He quickly takes a seat, asking as he does so, “What happened? I can’t…”
“Remember anything since before we met the dragonborns,” Jorduna finishes for him, tiredly, “Yes, we’ve had this conversation about four times now. .”
“Six by my count,” Cletus interjects.
“Don’t interrupt him, Jor. He could actually remember something,” Vargard admonishes. “What is the last thing you remember, Marwyn?”
“I… Jor’s right, Var. I can’t remember anything after Cletus came back from the treeline.”
“Blast,” Vargard curses, and sighs, “At the very least, we are unhurt. We’ve only lost a day, as far as I can tell. But I’m more concerned with what happened to Gilmont. University gates opened only half an hour ago, and we were about to leave when…”

“Excuse me,” A robotic voice interrupts, “I have a letter for Marwyn which must be delivered promptly.”
The members of The Split Falchion all turn in surprise at the speaker, besides Marwyn, who greets it, “Klezard, I had meant to visit.”
“As had I. My duties, however, had interfered. In fact, I have only moments here before I must return. My schedule is rather… extensive. However, this letter was entrusted to my safeguard, and I would be derelict to not deliver it as soon as possible.” It hands Marwyn a sealed envelope, and turns to leave.
“Warforged,” Vargard stops it.
“Yes?” Kelzard pauses, not turning.
“You are, of course, a member of the University of Wynarn. Tell me, has there been any news of Professor Gilmont?”
“No, though I would not be aware of any recent developments. We are quite busy with…” a slight pause, “Suffice it to say, I would tell you if I knew anything.”
“Thank you,” Vargard returns, dismissing it.

The others, meanwhile, had been watching Marwyn open the letter. He quickly reads the first line, then skips to the signature at the bottom, reading the rest afterwards.

Marwyn,

I’ve entrusted this letter to the warforged, Klezard, you had spoken so fondly of during our travels to Aundair. Unfortunately, I could not give it to him personally. You can probably guess that a former Cyrian renegade doesn’t have a lot of pull at the most prestigious university in Khorvairre. However, if this letter does manage to reach you, I am staying in The Mired Harper. It’s a grungy place, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? As far as I know I’ll still be here when you arrive. If that changes, I’ll find a way to let you know. I still have quite a few stories I need to share with you, after all.

Love,
Mevayln Aviarch

“What is it?” Jorduna asks impatiently, seeing his eyes finish moving across the page.
“It’s… personal,” Marwyn answers.
“Oh come on,” she complains, but doesn’t press.
“I won’t press further than I have to, but is there anything from Craigor I there?” Vargard asks, slightly more reservedly than Jorduna.
“N…no. It’s from Mevalyn.”
“Ah,” Vargard replies, a brief smile gracing his face, “No need to say anymore. I assume you’ll be soon dashing out of here to buy a bundle of roses and fine wine?”
“Dandelions are her favorite, but…” Marwyn stops, then catches his breath, “Yes. But…”
“Go. I’ll inquire after Gilmont. I doubt that my entry into the university will be delayed this time.”
“Marwyn,” Lesani, who had thus far remained silent and observing, advises, “Be careful. I am not entirely sure what has caused us to lose our memory, though I have detected traces of a curse. Nothing of the level we encountered earlier, to be sure,” she quickly assures him, “Though I am unsure when, if ever, we will be able to regain our lost memories.”

Marwyn nods, and then runs out of the door. He quickly runs back into the inn, nearly missing a tavern maid with arms laden with fresh drink. He sprints to his room, and comes back down with most of his supplies having been hastily stowed on his person. He just barely hears Jorduna ask, “So, what now boss?” as he exits the inn.

By the time he has found and reached The Mired Harper, he is far out of breath, and has to rest against a wall before he can gather the wind to ask the barkeep, “Have, have you a patron of the name Mevalyn Aviarch?”
“Who?” the barkeep asks, annoyed at the interruption towards the end of an otherwise peaceful morning.
“Elven bard. Should have arrived a week ago at most.”
“The Cyrian?” The bartender asks, a serious tone entering his voice.
“Yes!” Marwyn exclaims.
“Wait here. Just a moment,” he says, distractedly. “My records are… in the back. I’ll find her room”
“Thanks!” Marwyn replies. He waits by the bar, taking a place at one of the stools. An attendant brings him a drink he hadn’t ordered, though he accepts it nonetheless.

He is halfway through it when a commanding voice behind him orders, “Stand and surrender. Fairhaven guard, you’re under arrest.”
“What?!” Marwyn exclaims, but notes that six well-armored guardsmen had taken positions behind him. All but their sergeant had drawn weapons. Lost in his own thoughts, as well as the alcohol, Marwyn hadn’t noticed them enter.
“Won’t ask you again, boy.” The sergeant warns him. Marwyn, seriously outnumbered, throws up his hands in surrender. He is quickly restrained, his weapons and pack taken by one of the guards. Marwyn is quickly rushed through the streets, the other denizens paying little attention as they do so. They turn into a fortified building, the nearest jail by the looks of it. Marwyn is quickly processed by a clerk, who was briefly startled by their haste, and then thrown into a cell bordered only by solid, stone walls. Utterly overwhelmed by how fast his fortunes had changed, the impact of what had just happened to him finally hits Marwyn, and he slumps against the far wall of the small cell, uncertain of his future.

Continued in Part 15, The Guile of a Thief – Breaking and Exiting

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