Oct 6: Baron Phelan explains his actions
(Buran) (Chronotopia) (Jonas) (Landsknechts) (Nordika)
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Blitzheim
The City of Clocks. Everywhere in this city of towering architecture, clocks dominate the daily life of the citizens. Decades of work by master craftsmen have overcome the difficulties of technology through tight tolerances, precision and maintenance. Occasionally, a distant explosion of a 'regular emergency' can be heard. The clocks however, from the smallest Chronotopian Egg to Great Gretchen, tick away the seconds dutifully. They are a constant reminder, that following the rules, and doing things precisely and properly will result in a secure, predictable future. The clocks give order to the chaos that surrounds this land.

It has been a few days since the failed assassination attempt on Lord Ruthven. News of it, but few details have made their way into the general populace, and the feeling is that a new Kaizer must be chosen soon. The lack is surely the reason such a disorderly event would occur in Chronotopia. Lord Ruthven has not been seen publicly since the attack, though evidence that he is still involving himself is easily found – In the letters that arrive at Einheimische Keep for the Landsknechts.

The first letter is for Jonas. A writ giving him the authority of a Peace Office, and the ability to make arrests in matters pertaining to treasonous activities in Chronotopia. What these activities might be are not detailed, presumably left up to the highlander's good judgment, or perhaps court approval. In any event it allows him a good deal of power with some very undefined boundaries.

The second letter is for Fadyr Rainscroft. While not exactly a pardon, it does absolve him of criminal responsibility in the murder of the assassin. The signature at the bottom matches the one on Jonas' writ. Ruthven has obviously spent a long time in consultation with a particular judge. The letter states that Fadyr will be given the opportunity to absolve himself with his actions, and that these actions will be detailed in a third letter to Gergesene.

The third letter was not present in the mail, though there was all indications it should be. A squire was sent to inquire if the letter was lost, or misdirected. While this search is underway, the Landsknechts have decided to question Baron Phelan. Presently they stand outside his estates in Blitzheim, the wounded guard, Feskh is with them.

Baron Phelan's Estate
The Estate of the Baron in Blitzheim is almost indistinguishable from the other buildings sharing the street. It is composed of gray stone, with soaring doorways and high arched windows. Bars and heavy curtains keep his private business inside, and a high stone wall ensures that events on the street, stay on the street.
Inside, the walls and floors are composed of white marble. Chandeliers and ornate oil lamps seem to be everywhere. Light is reflected from all surfaces, and for individuals used to Chronotopia's dark days, the bright illumination is disconcerting. Objects seems to have sharp, knife-like edges in the harsh lighting. No carpets, and few wall hangings are present to dull this unpleasant feeling.

Gergesene mutters to the others as he steps down from the carriage's running board, "I mislike this business. A letter misdirected, that was to have contained perhaps vital information? The work of Bosch. But still, we must strike before the iron cools. We must know Phelan's intentions."

A single panther guard stands in front of the main entrance to the building. He holds a polearm, and wears rather ornate armour. His purpose seems to be mostly ornamental, though he is watching the Landsknechts disembark.

Steinhardt drops beside the Korv and straightens his swordbelt across his shoulder. "Indeed, Sir St. Germain, but pray do not decide others' roles more quickly than we can gain knowledge of these events."

"We shall see," the Korv says darkly. "I can only pray that Brother Salvatori has not been mistreated in his captivity."

Fadyr exits the carriage and steps quickly to Sir Gergesene's side. He doesn't voice his concern's, though they echo Sir Steinhardt's words… the Korv seems entirely too biased. "We shall see where the Baron's place in all this is."

Jonas steps out of the carriage and stretches. The roof may be high enough for him, but the seats are built for someone of a lighter build. "Aye," he agrees, "As St. Lupus teaches hunters, 'The patient hunter is more likely to take his quarry, and less likely to hurt his friend.' Let's not jump to conclusions. Bosch would want that, I think."

Feskh steps from the carriage, both his arms bandaged and looking rather unhappy. He doesn't raise his head, and specifically, doesn't look at the other panther guarding the door.

The Korv knight wraps his dark purple cloak around his shoulders and lifts his beak a little. "The light of the Star will show us the path to walk," he declares. "Come, my companions, let us announce our intent to parley."

The Khatta on guard manages to contain his surprise upon seeing Jonas, he is perhaps used to unusual sights. He is however, starting to fidget as the Landsknechts, and the Highlander mount the steps and approach the door he guards.

Fadyr nods, looking ahead and speaking up to the guard on duty. "Hail. We have come to speak with Baron Phelan."

"Ah… yes sirs." The Khatta bows, one hand adjusting his weapon belt. "He was… expecting you a few days ago. He is here now… but his mood is not pleasant. Recent events… "

Gergesene, though diminutive in comparison to the high-horned Cervanis and the ursine, carries himself with dignity as he hops behind and to the side of Sir Rainscroft. "Shall we take that as a refusal to see us?" he kaws sharply.

"No, ah… " The panther seems torn between facing an angry superior with bad news, or a group of Landsknechts on a mission. Neither one a very happy prospect. He decides finally, "He'll want to see you, I'm sure. Follow me."

Gergesene nods stiffly.

With a hint of a smirk, Fadyr follows the panther, keeping a wary eye on his Korv companion.

"Come in please." The panther opens the door, and ushers the group in. He then leads them through to the Audience Chamber. The passage there is distinctly tall, quite wide, and extremely well lit. The bright illumination reveals meticulously clean corners, and little else. The Baron apparently does not lavish much money on decorations. Once at the Chamber the panther turns to the others, "Just wait here a moment, Baron Phelan will arrive momentarily."

The Khatta guard then disappears after a long glance at Feskh.

The Audience chamber is a little more impressive, with a ceiling as high as the outside corridor. The walls and floor are polished white marble, and illuminated by glittering glass chandeliers. A throne sits three steps above the floor, with a large coat of arms looming behind it. In each corner is a suite of armour, and mounted on the walls are finely crafted weapons, and three impressive clocks.

The Korv glances ironically over to Feskh. Not exactly a warm welcome, is that. Finding no suitable perches, he stands to one corner of the group and waits with what he envisions as dignified patience.

Jonas looks about, once again wondering at the curious obsession that these people have with clocks. He stifles a slight yawn, and adjusts the shoulder strap that supports his blade.

Baron Phelan's guards private guards arrive first, ten panther Khattas in armour who divide and take positions along the wall. The Baron then appears from behind the throne, and takes a seat. He is a large grizzled Khatta with graying fur around his muzzles and ears, and a powerfully large frame. He looks down on the assembled visitors. "You wished an audience with me?"

Fadyr tilts his head slightly at the display. "Aye, your Excellency. Certainly you know of an encounter between your guards and those sent by the palace recently?"

The Baron focuses his gazes on the young Cervani, "Yes," is his informative answer. "That is why I sent for you, or specifically, for Gergesene St. Germain. Who are the rest of you who have invited yourselves along?"

Gergesene stands forward. "As you know, I requested audience with you several weeks ago, Baron Phelan. Due to the circumstances of that prior incident, I find it… Advisable to bring certain chosen companions to see that our present one shall go untroubled. Please allow me to present to you… " He nods to the others to introduce themselves in turn.

Fadyr is still wincing inwardly at bypassing introductions when the baron's attention returns to him. "Sir Rainscroft," he offers.

Steinhardt bows to the Lord Phelan, "Sir Steinhardt, milord." In keeping with the Baron's terseness, he volunteers no other information.

Jonas steps forward, announcing, "Jonas MacAlister of the Black Watch. Commissar." He seems to still be a bit unused to the new title.

"You may trust them to hold what we say in confidence, milord," the Korv says. "They are aware of the matter to which we must perforce discuss before the workings of the Grand Machine become overly disturbed."

Baron Phelan casts a strange glance at Jonas when he introduces himself, specifically at his new title, then turns his piercing gaze back to Gergesene. "Its nice to know who I'm talking to. You of course know me. I have some news you may not appreciate, the healer should be here momentarily."

There is a soft creak off to one side, and movement is visible behind it. Then the door silently swings open. A young Khatta guard quietly enters, leading what looks like a spotted Khatta with wings (!) into the room. The two stand quietly to one side, although the winged cat looks more than mildly surprised upon spotting Jonas.

Gergesene draws himself up, eyes widening. This sounds most… unfortunate. He glances over to the others.

Jonas looks over as the door opens. Up until now, he has met Chronotopians – Cervani, Korv, and Khatta – and can accept the existence of the Titanians. This new being, however, leaves him confused. He stands, astonished at her appearance.

Steinhardt glances to the new arrivals, eyes widening slightly.

The Baron waves his hand at the two entering, "This is the Healer Buran, of the Celestial Order… " He pauses when he glances her way, as if seeing her for the first time. "… she will inform you."

Fadyr is no less surprised than the others, blinking a few times at the odd feline.

"I see," the Korv says thinly. A changeling Khatta?

Jonas recovers slightly, noting that the angelic figure lacks any sort of aura or other manifestation of deific power. Not an incarnation of St. Felis, then.

Buran takes note of the assembled, notes the guards and the Baron's rank insignia. She nods politely to all in the room and nods respectfully in his direction.

Gergesene keeps his beak clamped shut, but a winghand slips up to the pin that holds his cloak tight.

The tension in the room is so thick one can almost feel it. There is a slight rustle as Buran shifts her weight and her robes rearrange themselves. She remains silent, but her eyes dart back and forth across those present.

The Baron sits hunched on his great white throne, a brooding gray-black Khatta. His gaze on Buran would not be termed soft, though is less harsh than the looks he has been giving the Landsknechts and the Commissar. "Healer, tell them about your patients."

Fadyr crosses his arm, awaiting the news the healer brings with her.

The Khatta Page standing beside Buran looks at the assembled knights, guards, and the Baron on his throne. He bows and then disappears through the door he entered, closing it quietly behind him.

Buran nods, blinks, and clears her throat softly. Then finally speaks. "I was called by guards and told that there were injured who needed a healer's care. There were two… one looked like one of you – " she indicates Gergesene – "and was very badly wounded. He was losing blood fast, too fast… " Once more the winged cat falls silent: she appears disturbed by what she is saying. A few moments later she goes on. "I couldn't stop it. I'm afraid that I couldn't save him."

Gergesene gasps. "Brother Salvatori… He is dead?"

Jonas blinks. He rests a comforting hand on Gergesene's shoulder. "My condolences on yer loss, Gergesene."

Fadyr regards Buran. His eyes narrow slightly, as the Cervani looks for some reason to not believe her. The Landsknecht finally bows his head with a sigh, finding no way to disbelieve. "Salvatori," he whispers, shaking his head.

Gergesene straightens, as if sensing the awful truth. "Is his body still here? If so… I must ask that we be permitted to see it. And to return it to the Order to which he belongs for a decent burial." His eyes narrow.

"He has already been buried." The Baron informs the room, "He was given the proper rituals."

Gergesene kaws, "Where, precisely, was he buried?"

Gergesene shoots a look around the room, as if expecting someone to show up with a shovel and announce that he's next.

Fadyr frowns, suspicion creeping back into his mind at the baron's words. He looks up, studying Phelan.

Jonas frowns slightly. A highly irregular sort of action, even with a prisoner being the deceased.

"I did not oversee it directly, I don't know. I had him returned to the Celestial order with the funds to pay for his funeral." The grayed panther stares at Gergesene.

Gergesene's wings fluff. He takes a deep breath, evidently about to launch into a long speech.

Steinhardt places a restraining hand on the Korv's shoulder and speaks quietly, "Easy, friend. We may pursue this later. Remember that for which we came here."

Gergesene jumps at the hand on his shoulder! "The reason lies dead," he squawks. "A Korv kin who did none any offense, save to shelter a poor confused boy!"

"I am sorry I could not save your friend, sir Korvani. I did the best I could. But he died peacefully, I can assure you of that," the winged cat says finally. Her ears are visibly drooping during this pronouncement.

The Baron shifts on his throne, to lean on one of the armrests. He places his chin atop his fist and stares down at the Landsknechts. He takes a momentary glance at one of his guards by the wall, flicking his ear in the process, then returns to the group. "Yes."

Fadyr furrows his brow, glancing to the guard out of the corner of his eye.

"My orders did not include slaughtering unarmed opponents. My guards report that it was Feskh who shot the Healer. He will account for that murderous act." The Baron glares at the Khatta prisoner with the Landsknechts.

Jonas watches the Baron carefully, trying to gauge his state of mind and how he will react to questions and accusations.

Buran interjects another comment into the silence. "But there is good news. Another, a stag named Shem, survived. I cared for him for … " she pauses to think – "two weeks. He is conscious and alert, but I've confined him to his bed to rest. He will make a full recovery."

The Baron seems agitated, though how much of that is his natural demeanor is difficult to determine. The guard at the door did warn that he was in a foul mood, so perhaps something else is weighing on the panther's mind. He has the air of someone still in control, though wary.

Fadyr notes quietly, directed mostly to those who stand with him, "Perhaps it would be best if Feskh were turned over to Commissar Jonas, under the circumstances."

Steinhardt nods slightly at Fadyr's suggestion, his gaze moving to the seated Baron. The orders did not include slaughtering unarmed. . What, then, did they include?

Jonas blinks. "P'raps," he says, "but it was on the Baron's orders that the carriage was first threatened. Something for which there has been no explanation."

"Your orders, did they not include stopping a carriage of the Palace, possibly acting under legal orders, with armed force? To take prisoner a small boy untrained and unknowing, even, of his heritage?" the Korv bursts out. "They did not include the fomenting of trouble in the Council, the noising about of heirs not yet considered, not yet trained, unfit to rule save with a regent? Your orders, did they not include sending assassins into Lord Ruthven's own house? Just what did you order, Baron Phelan?"

Steinhardt starts slightly at Gergesene's words. Follow his thoughts they may, but direct accusation under such circumstances is unwise, at best. .

Jonas starts at the outburst. He looks back up at Phelan, anticipating a retaliation from the brooding Khatta.

Fadyr keeps a careful eye on the guards in the room more than Baron Phelan himself, keeping calm and listening closely.

Buran, having given her report, withdraws her hands into the folds of her robe and stands at what passes for attention among the members of her Order. The only sign that she is tuned to the goings-on is her eyes: they flick back and forth following the conversation.

The panther snarls, rising from his seat and shouting down at the Landsknecht, "What right do you have to accuse me in my own house!" His right hand slashes in empty air. At the sides of the room, his guards shuffle and look more attentive.

Fadyr straightens as the guards move. He stands ready, though his hands move no closer to his weapons.

Gergesene says firmly, "The shadows have drawn long across the land of Chronotopia, Baron Phelan. I have seen things – from the skulking of men in the shadows to the whispers of people who will believe a lord tainted without giving him the chance to respond on his own behalf, to show his nature through his works." He lifts his hands upward and out as if appealing to Baron Phelan. "I give you the chance to open the shutters and draw the light of the Star upon these shadows, milord."

Baron Phelan growls, settling back on his seat. His claws are still out, and scrape loudly at the end of the armrest. The heavily marred surface indicates this is a long habit of the panther. "Very well. My orders were to secure the boy, to use intimidation and a show of force, and to defend themselves if attacked."

The Korv boggles.

Jonas grunts. "Why?"

"Because he is too young to rule. Because I had word of a traitor who would want to use him to gain the throne." The graying Khatta replies to Jonas, but focuses an intense glare on Gergesene, "A Landsknecht traitor."

A very slight rustle, but little else, is audible from one side as Buran shifts her weight slightly.

Fadyr notes, "Extreme action based on 'word' of a traitor. Perhaps you would have something that may pass for proof?"

Gergesene starts. "Who has told you these lies?" the Korv says angrily.

Steinhardt's eyes widen, then narrow.

"Lies?" The Baron growls, "Can you account for all of your order? Can you honestly tell me, Sir St. Germain, that there is no Landsknecht that might seek power beyond what he already posses? Can you discount the Landsknechts who have failed in their duties in the past? That none have been tempted by Bosch, or simple, straight, outright power and influence?"

Steinhardt speaks quietly, "He speaks the truth in that, Sir Gergesene. Through Bosch's works, nothing can be made perfect."

"I do not pretend to speak for all of the Landsknechts," Gergesene says heatedly. "But I speak for myself when I say that I have no desire to see Jael seated upon the Kaizer's chair and a regent fixed to his side. I was asked to be sure that he was protected from those who would use him so! And so, you have only helped what you hoped to hinder, milord."

Jonas looks up at the Baron again. "Who told of a bid for power by the Landsknecht?"

Gergesene shoots a look over to the healer. Is she being too quiet?

Upon being noticed, the winged Khatta returns Gergesene's gaze; she lifts an eyebrow and smiles – very faintly – in what one would judge to be a slightly apologetic manner.

"Would that my enemies declare themselves, and my allies as well." The Baron growls quietly to no one in particular, then turns his attention to Jonas. "I determined it myself, from what I know of the late Kaizer Heinrich's affairs, and what my Pages were kind enough to tell me. Overheard whispers from other servants, in the House of Lords, that a Landsknecht was conspiring to find the Heir."

Jonas grunts again. He turns to Gergesene, and asks, "Did ye not say that Talia asked ye to retrieve her son?"

"Yes, she did, when I and Brother Salvatori went to question her after the funeral," the Korv says. He broods, trying to sort out the questions, but his gaze keeps drawing back to the healer.

Fadyr asks outright, "And did all this information give you a specific name of this traitor then?"

The Baron smiles at Fadyr, "Traitors seldom operate in the open where they can be found, they prefer darkness. I have not determined a name, I just warned my guards that they might meet strong opposition."

Jonas smiles briefly, perhaps seeing a solution. "Then, p'raps, someone in the Palace, a page in particular, has been telling tales. Someone overheard yer conversation with Talia, and told someone else, who told someone else," Jonas gestures with his hands, indicating a progression of gossip, "until finally, it reached Duke Phelan, who took it as the worst sort of news."

"What we may have here," he announces, "is a failure to communicate."

Steinhardt's eyes remain narrowed. He shivers slightly, "It would be folly to assume such. All rumors come from a grain of truth."

Gergesene turns to Buran, unable to shake the question. "How did you come to be of the Celestial Order, Healer Buran?" he asks, almost demanding. "And how did you come to be born with wings?"

Jonas shrugs. "There is a grain of truth. Gergesene _was_ seeking the heir, but not for the reasons supposed."

Steinhardt shakes his head slowly, but does not respond to Jonas' comment.

Fadyr offers a polite smile to Phelan in return. "Of course."

Jonas shrugs again at Steinhardt. "It's a bit simple, I'll agree. But some of the worst problems have the simplest solutions."

Buran doesn't look too surprised by the Korv's question… in fact, she looks used to it. She speaks quietly in order not to disturb the others. "My parents abandoned me when I was born. I don't know who they were, or where I am from. I know only that I was abandoned on Rephidim Island and raised by the priesthood there. Apparently they thought I was an Exile… " She shakes her head. "No, only from my own history."

Fadyr sighs quietly and turns to Jonas. "Good Commissar, as the entire incident between the guards happened so short a time after Sir Gergesene, Brother Salvatori and I were asked to find Jael, it could hardly have been source of rumors."

Jonas looks at Fadyr. A brief look of disappointment crosses his face. "Hrm. Ah well, it was worth a guess. If not that, then there is some other source of this rumor, either truthful or planted by someone trying to sow dissension."

Gergesene's frown deepens. "Then you could be – " He stops, trying to think of how to put it delicately. But if she is of the Celestial Order now, surely they would not allow a changeling into their midst? "How long have you served in the Celestial Order now, Healer?"

Fadyr nods. "Aye." He falls silent again, almost wishing for a fight with the guards. It would be so much simpler.

The Baron waits during the discussion, taking the time to carefully observe the healer he has been ignoring so far.

Baron Phelan shifts to lean on the other arm rest. "I suppose since you obviously have the boy, and he has still not made a public appearance, that you are not the one I heard rumors of. I assume you will want to take my servant Feskh under arrest, and the Palace guard as well. Is there anything further you wish to ask?"

"I'm afraid I'm not quite who you think. I am from the priests of Rephidim, here on sabbatical. I came here five months ago to learn of, and from, your Celestial Order… " Buran pauses. "… Apparently, I chose a bad time to come." Her wings rustle a bit as she shifts her weight again.

Sir Rainscroft glances at the others, noting Gergesene's conversation with the healer. He does not speak up, however, seeming as satisfied as he can be under the circumstances.

Buran shakes her head slowly. "I am a healer, and a priestess. I was needed. I stayed."

The Korv flutters his wings as well. Rephidim. THEY might allow any sort of changelings to lurk in their midst. They do not believe in the pure light of the Star as good Chronotopians do. He kaws. "Yes, these are troubled times, Healer Buran. May the Star guide us all." He signs the Star, half-expecting her to cringe from the gesture.

Jonas looks over at the three knights, before saying, "Unless ye'd like to let us know where ye heard the rumor from, Duke Phelan – and I kin understand why ye wouldn't, since yer informants are yer own – I kin think of no other questions at this time."

The healer does not cringe; rather, she nods respectfully at Gergesene's action but does not repeat it herself. "May it guide us well."

The Baron nods, seemingly satisfied. He sits back on his throne, "I don't see that it would serve much purpose, to hold a boy responsible for gossip. I regret not being available sooner, but I have been tied up considerably in both the Houses of Parliament."

Gergesene turns to Baron Phelan and bows. "Milord, I thank you for receiving us. I only wish that news of Brother Salvatori had reached me in time so that I could have attended his funeral. I will light a candle for him in the Cathedral. He was brave and selfless." The Korv's voice is somber, but not possessed of the same dangerous tinge of anger that it held earlier.

Baron Phelan stands, descends the three steps to the floor and returns Gergesene's bow. "I am sorry about that as well, it was not my intention that anyone be hurt. I had hoped a sufficient show of strength would dissuade an attack."

"It is the duty of a Landsknecht," the Korv says quietly. "To be bold against adversity."

Jonas says, "Thankee fer yer time, Duke Phelan. If we do think of something to ask ye, we'll try and send it by messenger, rather than intruding again."

Gergesene gives Jonas a look askance. He is less than pleased with the postal service lately.

The Baron nods thoughtfully at Gergesene's statement, then bows to Jonas as well. With a small sigh he replies, "I expect I will be more available in the days to come. If you have any future questions I will try to respond more promptly. Healer, is your patient well enough to travel?"

Buran turns the question over in her mind for a few moments. "Yes, but gently."

"With your permission, milord," the Korv says. "I'd like to speak with Shem before we go. He can be transferred to the care of the Guard after that. I presume, of course, that he's still on their payroll." The Korv essays a weak joke, smiling a little at the corners of his beak.

The panther nods, "You may take him with you, healer ensure that he travels safely. I have some further business of the House to attend to, so I must leave you now. The servants or guards can give you the necessary assistance. Gentlemen, Lady, Good Day." The Baron bows a final time, and mounts the steps to the Throne.

Fadyr bows to the departing Baron.

Steinhardt starts slightly, eyes refocusing, and bows to the Baron as he departs.

Jonas looks over at Feskh. Left to the tender mercies of the Landsknechts and himself.

Gergesene bows to the Baron and follows the healer.

Jonas turns to Gergesene and speaks softly, "What is the procedure fer such a crime as Feskh's? He is a murderer, true, and the sentence should be death, but is it our place to make such a proclamation? Especially since it almost sounds like an accidental death."

The remaining guards stand at a slightly more relaxed attention, and wait to see if any instructions are forthcoming from the Landsknechts.

"He pulled the trigger on his crossbow," the Korv says tightly. "We will turn him over to the police, and they will hang him high."

After a few glances at each other, and at Feskh, one of the guards steps forward. "We'll bring the Cervani here sirs." He turns to Buran, "How many do you need to help you?"

Steinhardt turns to the other knights. "If it be possible, I would return to the carriage and await you there. . This … session has brought to light certain aspects of recent events that I wish to consider… "

"Sirs… " Feskh begs quietly, then falls silent.

"He's not quite well enough to move too much on his own. We'll need a litter, and two to carry it," Buran says. "And we'd like to see him in his room first, please."

Gergesene nods to Steinhardt. "We should be done by noon, methinks. Until then, comrade."

Jonas looks over at Feskh, questioningly. "Speak, Child o' Felis."

The speaking Khatta looks at Feskh, then back to Buran, "Very well, I'll have three men go get something prepared."

Fadyr nods. "Aye, Sir Steinhardt." He looks to Feskh. True, the Landsknecht was not present, but he cannot help but wonder if Feskh's weapon was truly the one to take Salvatori's life.

Steinhardt nods and moves purposefully towards the door after sketching a quick bow.

Buran nods to the guard. "Thank you."

"I wasn't trying to… it wasn't meant… " Feskh painfully moves his arms in a shrug, attempting to defend the indefensible. "We were under attack, it was unexpected… I just reacted… "

No pity shows in Gergesene's eyes.

"Come, Healer Buran, let us see Shem," the Korv says.

Fadyr shakes his head and whispers, "Too much bloodshed."

Jonas grunts. "Murder is murder, sadly, Child o' Felis." He turns away.

The spottywinged cat briefly glances at Feskh, then nods to the Korv knight. She then turns to the guard and indicates the door. The guard nods and leads Gergesene and Buran to Shem's room.

The others are led to the room as well by a second guard.

Shem is lying on the bed, looking rather bored and staring out the window. As everyone enters he turns and says quite happily, "Sir St. Germain! Hello, have you come for me?"

Gergesene beak-smiles. "Yes, Guardsman. You're to be released as soon as you're able. But there's something I'd like to ask you first."

The recuperating Cervani tries to rise up on one arm, "Of course Sir, what do you want to know?"

Buran moves out from behind Gergesene so that Shem can see her, and smiles reassuringly at him.

"What do you remember of being brought here and treated? Tell me everything you can," the Korv urges the Cervani palace guard.

Led in by a small black Khatta, Sir Steinhardt enters the room and approaches Gergesene. "It appears our postal service is not necessarily as enamoured of Bosch as one would think. This lad found the letter; 'twas awaiting at the carriage." He hands the missing letter to the Korv.

Gergesene looks surprised at Steinhardt's news. "Hmm."

Fadyr looks over at the letter curiously.

A look of distress crosses Shem's face, "Theres not much I remember Sir, beyond being shot down as I burst from the carriage. Since then… I recall some strange dreams. I was asking the same questions of Buran when I finally had my senses about me, and that was just earlier today."

Gergesene nods to Shem to go on while he cracks open the letter. "Did you see Brother Salvatori at any time, Guardsman? What were these strange dreams you had?"

As healers always will be, Buran is worried about her patient. During the Korv's lecture, she conducts a brief final examination of him – checking his eyes, overall color, pulse, and forehead temperature. When she finishes, she makes a satisfied noise and stands next to the cot on which Shem is resting.

"And now, if I may?" Steinhardt sketches a quick bow, nods to the injured Shem, and, murmuring he has something to which he must attend, once again takes his leave.

Jonas nudges Gergesene. He indicates the letter, saying, "Well? Is it fit fer other ears?"

Shem shakes his head, "I don't Sir, and my dreams… were unpleasant. I don't remember much of them. Just things, dragging me down, and bright lights." He gives a small laugh, and waves at the room's illumination. "I think I know the source of some of it."

Buran kneels down beside Shem and asks him, quietly, "How are you feeling?"

This letter is indeed from Ruthven, the flowing script carefully penned on the page.

Gergesene St. Germain
I have been giving some thought to recent events, and revelations. Sir Rainscroft's information that the Assassin was connected with Bosch was crucial in my obtaining a dismissal of the charges against him. He has been allowed to cleanse himself of his crime by seeking out the forces which sponsored this attack. You, and Sir Steinhardt, also pledged to remove the tarnish laid upon our country by that cursed land. I wish you to accompany him. Jonas has been supplied with sufficient authority to deal with matters in Blitzheim. I wish you luck on your quest, and ask that you leave as soon as possible.
Ruthven.

Shem smiles back at Buran, "much better, thank you. I'm starting to feel hopeful."

Gergesene raises his eyebrows. "What was that? Forces dragging you down… Ah yes. Your dream," he says to Shem as he finishes reading through the letter.

Gergesene whispers to Fadyr, "If you would mind distracting Healer Buran for a moment?"

Buran smiles and pats Shem's arm. "I'm glad to hear it. I won't be here after today, so please, take care of yourself."

"You're leaving?" The guardsman blurts, "Where are you going, I wanted to hear about Rephidim and the other places you've been."

Fadyr glances at Gergesene and ponders a moment. He looks to Buran, "Good healer, if you can part from your patient a moment there are a couple questions I would like to ask of you." The Cervani takes a step toward the door and looks to her.

Buran stands and steps into the hall.

Gergesene reaches down as Buran looks away, and pinches Shem's arm.

Shem makes a small noise and rubs at his arm, "What was that about Sir?"

Jonas blinks bemusedly at Gergesene's behavior.

The Korv looks sheepish. "Ah – just testing."

Fadyr nods, walking out after her. "Healer Buran," he asks quietly outside, "you tended to Brother Salvatori. As you may have overheard, the matter of his death may mean another. I would like to be certain what it was that killed him."

Gergesene mutters to Shem but within range of Jonas' hearing, "Things from Bosch can't feel pain. After what happened to Brother Salvatori, I wanted to be sure that, well, you were still you."

Jonas looks askance at Gergesene. "If ye say so, Gergesene." He looks over at Shem, and shrugs.

The convalescent Cervani nods slowly, "I thought I had awoken in Bosch, especially when I saw my healer, but I can assure you, I am myself."

Feskh stands in the hallway, looking glum, and not paying much attention to what Fadyr asks of Buran.

Gergesene beak-smiles. "Well, I will assure your superiors of your outstanding character and actions, Guardsman Shem, you may be assured of that. May the Star shine on our paths." He nods to Shem and turns, evidently done here.

The healer/priestess responds in a low voice barely audible inside the room. "I know that he was shot with a crossbow," she says. "However, whoever pulled him from the street also pulled the arrow out, which made the bleeding worse. Frankly, he might have been saved if the arrow hadn't been removed."

The four panther guardsmen arrive with a litter for Shem, and wait patiently for directions from Buran. They make a point of not looking in Feskh's direction.

Fadyr nods to Buran and says quietly, "Thank you." He turns back to the room and sighs.

Buran's ears droop again, apparently at her frustration in not being able to save Brother Salvatori… an anguish made worse now that she knows who he was, not just a nameless fatality.

Jonas turns again to Gergesene. "What did the letter say?"

Gergesene looks over to Jonas and Fadyr. "Well, we shouldn't keep Sir Steinhardt waiting, my friends," he suggests. "Thank you for your time, Healer Buran."

Gergesene pauses. "I'll discuss that in the carriage," he says.

The priestess motions to the guards to follow her into the room.

"She's supposed to go with you." One of the Khatta guardsmen says.

"Go where?" the Korv echoes, puzzled.

"With the patient, wherever you're taking him." The panther replies.

Fadyr beckons Jonas over, "Commissar, a moment if I may." If he were cheery, it might sound as though he were having fun using that title. Unfortunately, he merely falls back on the formality due to weariness.

Buran says, "Do you think you're ready to travel?" Buran addresses Shem softly, indicating the waiting guardsmen and litter."

Jonas blinks. It takes a moment for him to realize that Fadyr is talking to him. "Aye?" he asks, stepping towards the corner of the room away from everyone else.

Gergesene nods. "Guardsman Shem should be transferred to the infirmary in the Palace," the Korv observes. "I'll speak with the Leftennant about finding Healer Buran suitable quarters."

The Cervani guardsman nods, "I think I'd like to be someplace a little dimmer, and I do feel a little uncomfortable here, away from the palace."

The Panther guardsman looks at the other three, then Gergesene. "I'm sorry, I thought the Baron told us to deliver him to you. I must have misunderstood his orders. I'll make some other arrangements then."

Fadyr speaks quietly to Jonas, to avoid interrupting anyone else. He relays what Buran told him, "It may have been Feskh's bolt that struck Salvatori, but he could have lived were he treated with any sense of competence. They did not even bandage him properly." The Cervani trails off, uncertain what difference it may make. Jonas seems tosee things as strictly right and wrong, with no mercy, but Fadyr has no desire to see more Chronotopian blood spilled.

Jonas nods quietly to Fadyr. "A valid point. A Watcher must be unbiased and fair in his judgment. What is the sentence fer assaulting a priest in this land?"

"Yes," Buran's voice says in Fadyr's direction. "A trained healer would know how to stop the blood, but a layman… " She trails off."

Gergesene kaws, "It's all right, Guardsman. It will be necessary that I speak to the Leftennant on Shem's behalf, in any case. His absence may have been misconstrued."

Since there is a sick patient in need of assistance, Buran's attention is easily shifted from the conversations. She motions to the guards to bring the empty litter beside the cot. They do so, stepping away from it after doing so… giving Buran herself more than one quizzical look.

The healer steps to Shem's side. "Can you walk just a little?" she inquires, motioning to the litter.

The Korv looks over to Shem. A life lost… But still, one has been preserved. "Thank you for taking care of the Guardsman, Healer Buran. I'll see you at the Palace," he says before stepping out the door.

Buran helps Shem to settle himself upon the litter, then brings him the small pile of possessions that had been stored in a small cabinet nearby. On top of the pile is a dark gray feather.

Fadyr sighs softly. "Possibly a time in prison, I am not certain. Best to consult with the other Commissars, friend Jonas."

Jonas grunts. "Agreed. We'll hold him at the Keep until then."

Shem smiles at the healer, brushing her arm in thanks as she gives him his possessions.

Jonas looks over at Shem as Buran hands him his things. "A feather?"

Fadyr nods to Jonas and strides after Gergesene, losing himself in thought again. Walking down the hallway, he mumbles quietly to himself, "Maybe I should stop by the Cathedral… "

The feather flutters slightly in a breeze that comes through the window.

Jonas puts a hand on Feskh's shoulder and pulls him along gently. As they leave the room, following the two Landsknechts, he asks quietly, "Would ye be willing to trade a quick execution fer something less immediate? Like exile?"

Buran motions the Khatta guards to lift the litter, watching carefully as they do. Satisfied, she nods and makes a 'go on' gesture.

The guards pick up Shem's litter, and follow Jonas out the door. The Cervani takes a careful hold of his possessions, especially the feather and replies to the highlander. Shem points to Buran's wings, with a faint smile. "I wanted a keepsake of the one who healed me, and it fell off anyways."

Jonas looks over his shoulder at the injured Cervani. He nods, smiling briefly, before turning back to hear Feskh's answer.

Feskh's eyes are downcast and his voice resigned to his fate. "Yes Commissar, if I had my choice of fate, it would be exile. I have little hope for survival under either choice though."

The priestess-healer's whiskers twitch in amusement at Shem's parting words, and she bows slightly to him.

One of the guards motions to Buran to follow. she gathers her robes about her. "Well, Shem, it appears I'll be going with you for a little while longer, at least," she says, and follows the litter.

---

GMed by John

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Today is 20 days after Candlemass, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)