Topic: Heir of Misfortune – Of Constables, Clowns, and Cults

This topic contains 5 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  HeirofMisfortune 1 year, 1 month ago.

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  • #186397

    HeirofMisfortune
    Participant

    Leaning his wooden chair against the cold worn surface of the Tavern’s walls, Mathieu picked up his mug of ale and took a quick sip. Glancing around the bar and main room, he couldn’t help but notice his traveling companions that had made the arduous trek by stagecoach along the Old Road.
    They seemed….young… or perhaps inexperienced. Many of them had at one point or another in their careers had been on the wrong side of the Law, but in this darkened edge of the sane world such vagaries seemed to matter less and less. Bandits, soldiers, and bounty hunters inhabited every available portion of the room. He could hear them chatter over dice, cards, and mugs of ale about the great wealth to be found in this blighted land.

    “If only his Lordship would hire me,” one of the so-called reformed thugs spoke as he snatched a fine looking bar wench and placed the woman on his lap. “Why, dear Anna, I’d buy five or six nights straight with you.”

    Laughter erupted from the crowd as she playfully hit him a couple of times while giving the man a suggestive wink.

    Bold talk, empty promises, and flattery….. the usual currency to be found in a Tavern aside from the glint of gold.

    Rising from his chair, Mathieu threw down a few coins on the bar and gave a nod to the Tavern keeper. He opened the door and strode into the dying daylight before giving a low whistle. Immediately, his canine companion stood up from where he had been resting and rushed out after him.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    He could tell from the way that the cold air nipped at his exposed flesh that Autumn was fast approaching. In his homeland, this would have been the time for the townsfolk to be bustling about preparing for some festival or another.

    Excluding the sounds and laughter echoing from the Tavern, the atmosphere in this Hamlet was far more…somber.

    To be sure, the place was not as small or dreary as Sir Barristan had described it in his letters. In fact Mathieu had noticed that the Tavern and the buildings that dotted the Town Square seemed to be in various states of reconstruction. It appeared that currently the ancient gothic-style Abbey Church was receiving the most attention as scaffolding was seen along the face of the building.

    However, one particular building stood out amongst the rest. In a place dominated either by wooden houses, straw cottages, and buildings made of dull grey stone – an edifice constructed of red brick would be sure to stick out.
    Mathieu couldn’t help but remark how modern the new building looked – the type of structure you would expect to see at the Capital instead of a backwater town. It was what those in the know would call a “townhouse,” a terraced house that rose to perhaps about four or five floors above ground. There was something quite beautiful about it – symmetrical in form yet highly restrained. The building was surrounded by high white-washed walls which enclosed a small courtyard.

    “Well Liam, I believe that is where we shall find our employer,” spoke Mathieu as he scratched behind the ears of his canine companion.
    Striding across the square from the Tavern toward the red brick building that stood a little distance from the Guild Hall, Mathieu only stopped to drop a gold sovereign into the basket of a…….minstrel? Musician? Jester? The man, whose face was covered by a white mask, had been reclining against a newly refurbished statue that stood at the center of the square. He simply nodded at Mathieu and continued to pluck at the strings of his instrument.

    Mathieu couldn’t help but think at how this place seemed to attract the strangest of people….

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    “Right this way sir, the Master has just adjourned his meeting for supper and he has expressed a desire to dine with you,” said a rather young man dressed in a plain coat, breeches, and a powdered wig.

    Standing up and motioning for Liam, he followed in the wake of the young page as he could see in the distance a set of double doors swing wide open with several individuals streaming out – a few monks and what he took to be the Abbot, physicians and plague doctors from the Sanitarium, and two of the older instructors bearing the sign of the Guild.

    Passing through the doors, Mathieu found himself in a room with several large windows that overlooked a walled garden. The moonlight began to stream in from one of the windows, showing a lone figure dressed in a night blue waistcoat with a band collar scribbling something into a notebook. The man seemed lost in thought. His dark hair was cut short and the countenance of his face……. was like that of the statue that stood in the square.

    There was no mistaking it – this man was indeed the Heir.

    “Your Lordship,” said the youth, “May I present…….err….. what was your name sir?”
    Looking up from his writing, the Heir only smiled. “That’s quite alright Ian. Why don’t you head on down to the kitchen and grab yourself something to eat. Also, if you would be so kind as to check in on our other guests and make sure they are comfortable. I believe many of them will be staying the night.”

    Motioning to Mathieu, “Monsieur…you’ve traveled a long way with your companion. Please accept my hospitality. Ian, when you reach the kitchen, inform Hilda to prepare the Pullet in Almond Sauce for our guest. And a side of mutton……or wait.. 2 sides of Mutton given that we have 2 guests. A pitcher of ale as well. And a small crock of oysters and some bread for myself.”

    Reclining back against his chair, he smiled at Mathieu as the Heir pulled a pack of cards.

    “Now.. Sir Barristan tells me you have an incomprehensible skill at playing 21. Nearly bankrupted half of his company during your days serving as a gendarme. Well monsieur, I would very well like to test your skills as we discuss business.
    You see…… my lands are in need of a good Constable……”

    Mathieu couldn’t help but smile. There was something quite convivial about this noble.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————

    “This town used to have a wonderful Constabulary before the……..short-sightedness of my Ancestor ruined everything.”

    Mathieu tapped the table lightly signaling for another card as he watched the Heir’s face strain a little.

    “Your Lordship, how did it come about that you and your immediate family left these lands? I know you met Sir Barristan during a military campaign and you also made the acquaintance of Reynard right after he took up the cross and pledged his service to the Church. But neither of them ever informed me as to how you found yourself away from this Estate?”

    The Heir sighed and reclined back in his chair.

    “It was my Father you see. He had a falling out with my Grandfather back before he lost his mind pursuing his occult projects. My immediate family ended up in the Capital, and after my father passed away I was able to enroll in University. I eventually joined the Royal Geographic Society and spent little over a decade journeying to far-off places such as the Dark Continent and the Land of the Burning Sands.
    And then I received Grandfather’s letter….”

    He grew silent and poured himself a glass of Port wine.

    “The first few months Mathieu were rather difficult. Reynard and another friend of mine, Dismas, accompanied me to this place. I almost died on the way in due to an unfortunate mishap with the stagecoach.

    Back then, life in the Hamlet had almost come to a screeching halt. I remember in those early days I found myself heavily investing in the Tavern. I bought a modest share in the business and helped the Tavern Keeper refurbish and expand it. And as more adventurers started to show up, I can tell you it started to turn a heavy profit. We were able to open the gambling hall within 2 months time and afterward some rather….shall we say…. “Unfortunate women” started to trickle in on my seneschal’s Stagecoach.”

    “That seems like a rather odd thing your Lordship. That a woman would expose herself to the dangers of th-“
    With a quick motion, the Heir tossed something onto the table. It was red and sparkled in the candlelight.

    “Desperation and the promise of wealth can move mountains. Gems and gold started to flow out in bits and pieces from this land and it stoked the imagination of many. Before, only my Caretaker’s Stagecoach would make the trek along the Old Road to the outside world. He knew all the nooks and crannies to hide in to avoid the roving groups of bandits….or worse.

    These days, as his cargo tends to be basic supplies and armed mercenaries, the bandits and brigands that swarm the woods tend to leave him be.
    But there are others who attempt to make the trek along the Old Road….and they are not as lucky.”
    Standing up from his chair, he motioned for Mathieu and Liam to follow him to the back end of the room. Hanging from the wall was a great map of the region.

    Tapping on the iconic representation of the town, the Heir spoke, “As you can see, my Estate is somewhat isolated. The Hamlet is bordered on three sides by a river and we have our backs to the Sea. The Hamlet itself doesn’t even take up all the land protected by the river. Much of the property to the North is precious Farm land. Past the River on the Northern side you’ll also find Farms hugging its edge. From there – you’ll see a few farms along the open fields and the moors till you find a couple isolated hill top cottages.

    Most of these families and farms keep their distance from the Treeline of the Weald in the West and the Manor in the East.
    Last Winter, we all almost starved to death due to a poor harvest. However, Junia and Dismas had discovered the location of a granary storage within the ancient aqueducts. I sent two adventuring parties in…..and thank the Light everyone came back with Grain stolen from the Beasts below.
    Since that time, the farmers have banded together forming a bit of an Association. I had a building near the Guild Hall refurbished for their use and one of their representatives is actually dining with the Abbot’s delegation in this house as we speak.”

    Ripping off a piece of mutton with his teeth, Mathieu began to assess the situation.

    “I take it then your Lordship, that traffic through the Weald and over the Sea is necessary to make up for any shortfalls in supplies.”
    The Heir only nodded in response.

    “I have been making plans with Sir Barristan. Within a month or two I intend to make a major push against the brigands in the Weald. It will be a War, although perhaps not like the ones you or I have seen Constable. Once we are able to guarantee the safety of travelers along the Old Road, we shall turn our attention to the………..fish men……. who occasionally plague mariners unwise enough to navigate too close to the Cove.

    However there are complications. Seditionists and worse, Cultists have trickled into the region. And that is why I need you Constable. We must be absolutely sure that such dark influences have not taken root in our fair Hamlet – otherwise our campaign against the thugs will fail.
    For this reason I’ve authorized the reinstatement of the Constabulary who will be receiving Militia Training from Sir Barristan….once the Guild Hall is properly equipped for such courses.

    Until then – I can only rely upon you and your canine companion to sniff out the corruption that might be spreading amongst the people. Although both of you will not be alone in this struggle….”

    It was at that moment that both Liam and Mathieu could hear the tinkling of bells as a rather ostentatiously dressed figure carrying a lute and hiding his face behind a white mask slipped into the room…….

    #186558

    HeirofMisfortune
    Participant

    Before the sun had risen, before the cock had crowed, he had been sitting in the early morning cold.

    Resting his arm against the small table that had been brought up to the roof, he sighed a little while nursing the hot cup in front of him.

    For a brief moment, he could pretend he wasn’t on the Estate. That he was back at the Capital….yes.. the Capital… and that he had stepped out to take in a show at the theater. He loved these early morning hours, when he would sit huddled in a corner with his friends debating the great news of the age…. Was a new Crusade on the horizon? Did the Crown Prince seek to usurp his Father?

    And there was of course Katya… With hair like spun-gold, eyes like pools of sapphires, a wicked sense of-

    “Thinking about that Muscovite lass again m’lord?” whispered a voice from behind.

    The Heir nearly jumped from his seat, only to be held down by a firm hand.

    The worn overcoat, the handkerchief around the mouth, the rusted blade and old pistol…..

    It was Dismas.

    Motioning for him to take the other seat, the Heir reached for the other cup and began pouring from a pitcher sitting on the table.

    “Was it that obvious?”

    Staring at the Highwayman, the Heir could imagine a smirk forming behind the handkerchief.

    He sighed again, taking out a spyglass and pointing toward one of the western corners of the Hamlet.

    “Would you and Reynault think less of me old friend, if I admitted that there was a part of me that never wanted to come back to this place. That, given the opportunity, i’d rather be back at the University amongst my peers. Away from all of…..this…” he spoke, pointing to the hamlet and the landscape that stretched out before both men.

    Reaching for the cup, Dismas lifted his handkerchief and drank, only to spit a little out.

    “What in the name of the Ligh-”

    “Its called Coffee. Its the latest rage across the Continent, brought from the Land of the Burning Sands. Nobles and academics tend to congregate in… “coffee houses” and discuss the news of the day while sipping cups. I’ve been told that the Monarchy thinks these places are hot beds of sedition and treason….”

    Looking back at the cup with a skeptical eye, Dismas drank deeply while muttering, “You know.. the Muscovite girl was no good for you. Risky, fickle, and a penchant for expensive things…..”

    The Heir sighed again. “All I ever wanted was a normal life…..”

    He looked up to see Dismas cold eyes staring right back at him while slurping the rest of his drink.

    “Alright alright! Duty calls. Fine. Shouldn’t you be down there right now with our dear Constable Mathieu?”

    The Highwayman shook his head. “The Lawman wanted to work this out with the locals and that…..Jester. What a strange fellow.”

    Pulling his cloak around, the Heir handed over the spyglass to his confidant. “So…..there is a cult….? Within the Hamlet no less..? Who is the leader….?”

    Dismas peered through the glass at a darkened alleyway. He could just make out the form of several men and one woflhound waiting silently near a house.

    “The Jester grew suspicious about the last couple of times you sent parties into the Weald and only one or two people coming back. Some of those men seemed already….afflicted with some form of madness which only manifested while they were in the field. Your new Constable was able to put the pieces together.

    The one thing they all had in common before their excursions into the Weald was…..Venezia.”

    “Venezia? I don’t recall hirin-”

    “She’s one the Whores m’lord, who works at the Tavern… Apparently a favorite amongst the men. I wouldnt know, I prefer a cold stiff drink…”

    It was at that moment that both men were startled by an explosion that shook the air….

    #186717

    HeirofMisfortune
    Participant

    “Mon Frere… Help please!,” screamed Chloe as the fire raged throughout the house, its bright red tongue greedily lapping up all in its path.

    Mathieu charged up the stairs, his face pressed against one of his arms to try and block out the fumes. His sister was trapped in her room by the conflagration, but maybe he could reach her-

    Just then a large flaming timber from the ceiling came crashing down a few steps ahead of him. He could feel the roaring hot flames brush past him as he desperately pressed himself against the wall.

    “Chloe! Chloe!” he yelled as he hopped over another burning pile of furniture.

    The crackling of the bright flames for a moment made a sound like music. His vision began to go blurry and his palms were sweating, no doubt from the intense heat of the fire.

    “Chloe!” he shouted once more, making his way to the burning portal. And there stood is sister, dressed in her nightgown, her brown hair braided as if she were about to step out for a moment. She smiled and calling to her brother…….and then the ceiling came down..

    He screamed and screamed as the fire crept closer.

    This isn’t right.

    …as the fire crept closer….

    This isn’t right at all..

    He could feel it upon him now, searing his flesh like, boiling his blood.

    I saved her! Wait.. I saved her! I ran into the room and pushed us both out the window.

    It was at that moment he recalled everything. How Mama and Uncle were waiting outside with buckets of water. How he and his sister only suffered a minor burn or two. How Chloe grew up into a fine young woman, to be married to a local winemaker….Mathieu’s best friend. And how they both died 7 years ago during the Great Plague.

    He felt his sweaty palms…..no.. he felt a tongue and heard a whimper.

    He heard the crackling flames…..no… he heard the Sound of a Lute…and singing.

    —————————————————————————————————————

    Shaking his head, the Houndsmaster stared down at his loyal wolfhound. Liam had been licking his hands.
    Behind him he heard that Jester, catching a bit of his tune –

    “Whenever I want you, all I have to do is…..Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream…”

    Regaining his bearings, he saw of two of his men, Lucas and Nathan – local farm boys who wanted to join the Constabulary, bleeding on the ground.

    And right that second, he had enough presence of mind to dodge the claw-like appendage that sought to ram itself into Mathieu’s heart.

    Two men stood before him, dressed in odd facemasks with metallic claws strapped to their hands. The look in both their eyes was that of an unnerving focus… Like the stares of madmen.

    Behind them was the brown-haired Whore, dressed in her frock and petticoat. She stared back at Mathieu, who could now see her eyes possessed two Irises and began to chant once more.

    Like a flash of lightning, the Jester sailed over Mathieu armed with his sickle and attempted to strike the Witch but caught only air as she stepped out of the way.

    Mathieu could see rippling muscles on one of the men tense as he prepared to strike the harlequin with the lute. Acting on instinct, he whistled and his faithful hound bounded into action. Dashing forward he lept upon the man and tore at his jugular vine with its white teeth.

    One second later, the cultist was on the ground with a ruby red pool of blood forming beneath him.

    Venezia cursed as she turned and ran, jumping through the open window.

    Before either Mathieu or the Jester could give chase, the other cultist attempted to strike the Houndmaster while uttering some sort of sordid prayer to the Old Gods.

    His frantic attack made contact with Mathieu’s chest, causing him some pain as he started to bleed.

    Grimacing, he was about to whistle to Liam once more, when from behind he heard a sound like a crack of thunder.

    Smoke obscured his vision for a few seconds. Once cleared he saw the other champion on the floor, with a bullet hole in his head.

    Turning abruptly he saw one of the Heir’s boon companions. A thief or brigand…at some point in his life, who had for some unexplicable reason taken on the Heir’s mad crusade. His face obscured by a red handkerchief. What was his name again?

    “Dismas,” said the Jester, “Did you see her outside? She jumped through the window.”

    The highwayman raced downstairs, drawing another pistol and aiming at the fleeing woman’s direction. Another small crack of thunder echoed through the air, as a bullet wizzed past the witch-whore as she dove into the river…

    Holding his bleeding wounds, Mathieu slowly descended the stairs of the rickety shack at this edge of the Hamlet. 3 more of his men were on the ground, wounded but alive…yet babbling incomprehensibly..

    “Constable,” spoke the Highwayman as he replaced his pistol and dagger into their respective holsters.

    “It seems that you’ve had an eventful first day on the job…. let’s hope it gets better from here.”

    Mathieu sighed as Liam bounded toward his master, stopping at his right leg to press his furry body against his.

    #187064

    warrenstein
    Participant

    I love this story, really that motivational…. I hope to see more on this.

    #187137

    HeirofMisfortune
    Participant

    The Tavern – Early Morning

    Mathieu yawned as he slowly trudged toward the bar against the southwall of the main room.

    “2 injured, and 1 gone half insane,” was all he thought as absently stroked his wolfhounds back.

    It was supposed to be an easy collar, he and his men were supposed to take Venezia by surprise. A successful interrogation would have helped him root out any other cult cells connected with her own whether they were in the Hamlet or outside of it.

    Instead the whole blasted thing almost ended in a complete debacle. To be sure, he was unnerved by her sorcery, that ability to rob a person of their confidence and sanity. And thankfully, per the ministrations of the Head Nurse at the Sanitarium, his men would recover.

    He had spent most of the evening interrogating each of the prostitutes that were working at the Tavern – much to chagrin of those mercenaries who were still not under the Heir’s employment. The Heir had also sent out a scouting party into the Weald to try and follow her, but to no avail.

    Tired, exhausted, and frustrated Mathieu plopped down on a stool when all of a sudden the Tavern Keeper laid a large doughy golden brown pie before him.

    ” ‘frum your lads Constable. And your fellow soldiers at the Barracks paid for the ale to go with it.”

    Mathieu smiled a little. The Hamlet might be in short supply of many things, but camaraderie abounded…especially since everyone living in the Hamlet felt under siege. Reaching out, he ripped a portion of the bread covering the pie’s contents.

    ” oh, sir, you dunna eat the dough. Tis a “Coffin” pie. We reuse the crust again and again for cooking.”

    The Constable nodded. He had forgotten that the cuisine of the area might be a little bit different from what he was used to.

    “What’s in the pie then ?”

    “Oh the usual sir. Cocks heads and cocks combs, sheep tongues, bone marrow, chicken, pigeons breasts, oysters, and as a special treat for ya – some veal with nutmeg.”

    Taking a piece of chicken out he tossed it on the ground to Liam.

    “Well old boy, 50/50 right?”

    Liam sniffed the piece of chicken thigh on the ground and whimpered a little.

    “Tavern Keeper…better make that two ales..” as he tossed a rooster head down to his canine companion.

    —————————————————————————————————————————————–

    Carlisle Court (The Heir’s TownHouse) – Early Morning

    Dressed in his night-blue waistcoat, chin-high white shirts with a stunning cravat – the Heir adjusted the white wig that rested upon his head.

    One of the things Grandfather had taught him was that power had much to do with Perception. The wise man would often doubt his senses and seek to test the individual in front of him. However, most people tended to make judgments based purely on looks.

    Had he greeted the townsfolk in rags when he first journeyed here, they would have doubted his authority. Not that taking pains to look clean and neat didnt suit his personality…..but the wig was a bit much.

    Sighing, he rang his bell and the page boy – Ian – came running.

    “Milord?” said the boy dressed in a small coat and breeches to suit his size.

    “Have the guests arrived for Town council?”

    “The Guildmasters are out in the courtyard. Its quite exciting Milord, they are practice dueling each other!”

    The Heir smiled a little. Ian was an excitable boy….

    “And?”

    “Oh right.. I took your message to the Abbey Church this morning. The Abbot and Brother Gibbs will be attending.

    Brother Gibbs….bother… Why in the world would he decide to come….? He was part of that group who wanted me thrown out of the Hamlet since the day I arrived.

    “And did you happen to swing by the Sanitarium?”

    “Of course sir. Nurse Florence will be coming by herself. She apparently is on the verge of some major medical breakthrough. The miss said you’d be quite interested.”

    Florence was a true gem. While he had still lived on the Estate in his youth, she had exposed the secrets and wonders of the medical arts. Because of her, he knew of the corruption which consumes the body at death, of the components of flesh and bone beneath our skin, and the various poultices and herbs often used to treat illness. It inspired him to pursue a career in the medical arts until Fate choice a different path….

    Had she been a man, undoubtedly she would have been the greatest doctor of the age.

    “And the…. Farmer’s Association? Did anyone deign to answer my summons?”

    Ian laughed a little, “Apparently the new head of the association is coming today from the Up-country. He’s being rotated in to fill the position that was vacated by his predecessor a week ago.”

    “From the Up-Country? You mean, they’ve elected someone who lives Past the River? Well this should be interesting. I’m always concerned about those living beyond the River bank. What with all these reports of brigands, witches, and pig-men clawing their way out of the dark.

    Well – first the council, then I have to call my troops together hopefully a little past lunch. Barristan and his men have returned from a bit of a venture into the Weald and have recovered a -”

    It was at that moment that the Heir had caught the boy staring quizzically at his breakfast table.

    “Ian why don’t you take a seat for a moment. And help yourself to perhaps.. some Turtalong and Marmalade?”

    “Turta what?”

    “Turtalong. Its bread that’s boiled and baked. And Marmalade is kind of like……jam….from a fruit that grows in a much much warmer climate than the one we are in.”

    Taking a plate he began to pile one bits for the boy.

    “And you should try some dried pineapple. This is a true rarity, but when you are able to pay with Rubies size of your fist, there is always someone willing to sell to you. And these nuts are called Pistachios… i’m sure you’ll love them.”

    He reclined in his chair, watching the boy marvel over these tiny delights that graced his plate.

    Life had been quite difficult before his arrival. But slowly and steadily, the Heir would bring the Light…a different sort from the Divine Power that protected the people…the Light of Civilization to this backwater…..

    He just had to burn out all the Corruption around him…..

    #188090

    HeirofMisfortune
    Participant

    Carlisle House (Residence of the Heir) – Year 0.5 – Morning

    Town meetings… I hate town meetings.

    “….well of course you would deny it. The fact remains as follows – your Ancestor..”

    My employer seems enchanted with the idea of “freedom of expression” – not realizing the foolishness of allowing the desperate or the mad to speak openly.

    “… I would go so far as to say that the latest Cultist incursion into our Hamlet may even be purpo-”

    “Brother Gibbs,” thundered the Abbot as he placed his cup of wine down. “That is quite enough. Sins of the Fathers are not Sins of the Son.”

    …of course.. there are some of us who do cling to whatever strands of civility afforded to us in this blighted place.

    Placing his cup of spiced wine down, the Heir folded his hands and looked out across the table.

    “Thank you for your thoughts Brother Gibb. Your contributions to these meetings are always…..unique..”

    Turning to face the Abbot, the Heir adjusted his white wig and smiled. “I can of course acknowledge that these trying times has undoubtedly affected the hearts and minds of the people. It isn’t too surprising that some of them may have been seduced by promises of other gods…or monsters. My own mercenaries have often remarked finding strange altars to foreign deities erected in places as diverse as the Weald or the Warrens. But, as I cannot simply snap my fingers and change the attitudes of the people back toward the Light…. What would you have me do?”

    For a soft dandy city-dwelling fop….I can’t help but admit to the nobility of my employer. If he just weren’t so naive at times….

    The Abbot stood up and gazed at the Heir and everyone else seated or standing around the circular table.

    “My friends. Our conflict is not merely a military campaign. It is a war for souls. Without the Faith in the Light, we would have all descended into the darkness that slowly encompassing our Land, and I dare say will cover the whole world. We would do best to combat this encroaching evil by committing ourselves through an act of faith to the Light.”

    Reaching for a walnut which the Heir proceeded to crack open with his bare hands, “But your Grace, your Abbey Church is almost fully restored. I’ve even commissioned a new set of windows and a rather costly circular Rose window to be sent via ship to us…”

    The Old Abbot smiled once more and clutched the well-worn book in his hands, “My son – while I and the People can appreciate the piety and reverence you have shown to the Light, a piety that surpasses that of your forebearers and the Ancestor, what I am proposing is something that will not only lift the spirits of the people, but also drive away this cult problem that has fallen upon us.

    In two months, All Souls Day will be upon us. It would be of great importance if we could reclaim the Relics of Saints Margaret, Louis, and Charles from the collection beneath the floors of your Ancestor’s manor. ”

    There was some muttering from all around the table. Clearing his throat, Barristan responded, “M’lord. We have as yet to progress that far into the dark maze of hazards beneath your family estate. It may not be feasible at this time to fulfill the Abbot’s req-”

    The Heir held is hand up. “A moment dear Barristan. My good Abbot, I was vaguely aware that my Ancestor had collected such religious icons in the past. But Margaret, Louis and Charles? Are they not all pious and holy men and women who met their fates while on Crusade?”

    I see now. Bloody brilliant Abbot……

    “In this time of darkness my Lord, I have no doubt that their examples of sanctification will give courage to the people to drive away their doubts. And it may also inspire others from afar to…..emulate… such holy purpose and action in our situation.”

    ….because now you Can Call a Crusade…!

    “I suppose then that we should endeavor toward completion of this sacred task. We will need to send more scouting parties into the Ruins to find the location of the reliquaries. I suppose now all we would need are some volunteers take on this task.”

    I could see out of the corner of my eye that Reynault, the Crusader who came with the Heir, had stepped forward. He placed his sword on the ground and knelt repledging himself to my employer and the Light. Not too far behind him was that battle-hardened Nun….

    Junia smiled at the Abbot, “Your Grace, my own order, the Sisters of St. Margaret, have longed sought the return of her relics. If our Lord truly does intend to pursue this matter, would you be kind enough to offer a part of the Abbey as a Convent for my Order? In so doing, we will always have Sisters on hand to venerate St. Margaret’s relics as well as lend their aid against the encroaching darkness.”

    The Old Abbot nodded, “We have cleared and renovated so much of the Abbey, acommodating your brethren will be quite easy.”

    A third person step forward.

    Hmph. Of course she would be interested

    “So these Relics… I take it they are kept with other treasures of a more secular nature?” she spoke as she idly fingered her throwing knives.

    “My dear Lady Jane… I didn’t know you had such an interest in the matters of faith and piety. But yes, if you should decide to join this holy cause, feel free to help yourself to the other valuables that may lay near the reliquaries” said the Heir as he gave a playful smirk.

    The Grave Robber’s cat-like eyes seem to dance for a second as she met the gaze of the Heir.

    I’ve been told she was once nobility, just like my employer. Birds of a feather it seems…

    Saying nothing and making very little sound, the Leper Knight came forward, bowing to Heir.

    “Ah.. I believe we have our team than. Stay after Lunch, I will discuss specifics with you all and Sir Barristan…. And with that I believe we can adjourn our meeting for today.. Thank you all for coming.”

    As the crowd broke, I could see the Heir motion to the new Constable. He and his faithful hound padded over to him. It was that moment I could see he was summoning me.

    “Viktor! Please meet our most esteemed Constable Mathieu. Mathieu, Viktor and his two brothers belong to a profession that I am sure you have had some dealings with in your time as gendarme. While I understand the Abbots point, we must not forget dear Venezia. I want you two and the Jester to continue looking into the matter.”

    I extended my hand to the Houndmaster. This was going to be…..an interesting relationship…..

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