Darkness is defeated by torches, flickering evenly from the shops that line Goldsmith Row. The fires display signs for goldsmiths, silversmiths, jewelers and other vendors of luxuries. Private guards serve as a deterrence against those that would burgle the precious goods contained within, strolling up and down the wide road. The gold cloaks, too, are dutiful, passing by on their rounds many times a night.
An almost steady dint seems to creep in from the southwest. There lies Goldsmith Square, and the wagons are ever tangled as they all try to go their separate ways. In the other direction, Visenya’s Hill slowly rises up. At its crest stands a sept of large but not particularly awe-striking size. The hill is mostly cleared of buildings around this sept, and so it sticks out in a rather stark fashion.
The deep blue night sky is clear and cloudless, and the stars glitter. An icy wind blows from the northwest.
The crimson that is so characteristic of Ser Farin Prester’s usual ensambles is now completely absent, replaced by the simple browns and blacks of riding leathers and dyed wools, though his cuffs are still lined with ermine, so as not to give up his social status totally. He sits atop his palfrey, which clops along at a slow gait through the cobbled streets, its rider watching idly at the private guardsmen that inevitably take notice of him. He arrives at the appointed place, and casually looks over towards the position of the sun with his usual air of vague annoyance, though the Gods only know what could be getting to him tonight.
Waiting at goldsmith row are a full score of city watchmen astride their horses, their gold-cloaks billowing behind them in the wind. Strangely enough, only half hold the spears typically carried by watchmen with shortswords in scabbards on their belts. The other half carry longswords in scabbards on their belts and shields are strapped on their backs, covered by the cloaks. Anton similarly has a shield strapped to his back, but the hilt of his two-handed greatsword protrudes ever presently, above his right shoulder.
Anton greets Farin with a wave, as he gets off his horse and walks over. The bulk of his watchmen do the same though a few remain astride and seem to be scanning the surrounding area. “Good day to you Ser Farin. I had thought Lady Aurana would be here as well. I hope the good lady is not still mad at me for what happened the other day. I did not mean to offend in any way, but my duty always comes first. After speaking to goodwoman Margred a few times, I do believe her story and think we will discover the truth here.”
Followed by his squire, and Ser Ryck of the Tumblestone, Ser Luthor Rivers arrives on Goldsmith Row, upon the back of his smoke grey hunter, wearing his customary black wool. However as he approaches, the chain about his shoulders, that marks him as the Warden of the Kingswood, glints in the torch light. Joining the two other knights, Ser Luthor gestures for his companions to a few lengths behind him. “Sers,” he greets both men, with a nod. “I see I am not too late.”
“I have never known you to be,” the Prester lrdling remarks to his cousin, disembarking from his horse. “Good to see you, Coz. This is Ser Anton Piper, the man I made mention of previously.” He then turns, and smiles in Anton’s direction. “And Good Day to you, ser. I thought it best if the lady were not involved in incidents that actively put one at risk. Though she has seemed to come to her senses, and I assume her gratitude to me applies to yourself as well.”
“Ser Luthor? I apologize; I did not realize you would be joining us.” Anton seems genuinely surprised at the knight’s arrival. His watchmen also seem very interested in the sudden appearance of the Warden of the Kingswood. Some quietly mutter to their companions, but one glance from Anton is enough to silence their chatter. Nodding to acknowledge the presence of Ser Ryck, Anton turns back to Farin. “I doubt the lady is happy I took her servant into custody, but I do appreciate your words. I hope we can settle things today so goodwoman Margred may return to her mistress and her duties.” Next, Anton says to Luthor, “I am honoured of course to have you join us, my lord, though I must confess to some confusion regarding your interest in these affairs.”
“And I haven’t been, not in the time you’ve known me anyhow,” Luthor replies warmly to his cousin as he slips off his horse and claps the other man on the shoulder. Then he turns his dark eyes to Ser Anton and examines the man for a moment before extending an arm in greeting. “Ser Anton, I’ve heard much of your work in the city. Well met,” when the greetings are exchanged he takes a moment to answer the knight’s question. “We took some bandits prisoner over a month ago, some of them spoke of having contacts in the city, men who would sell what they took. When Farin told me about this jeweler, I wondered if he might be one of them.”
“I trust ser will not see this as an overstepping of bounds? Your authority will not be questioned; we merely have an interest in the situation. Doubly so, for myself,” Farin explains in Anton’s direction. “Though if we are to settle this matter today, we had best set to work, before our collective presense draws any more attention.” The lordling knight begins to flick his thumb over the edge of the clasp on his morningstar; a smaller version than the war sized variation he usually carries. Apparently, he is prepared for close quarters fighting.
Anton nods his head at Luthor’s words. “Your reasoning is sound my lord. The theft ring we have just begun to uncover appears well-connected and extensive. It would not surprise me in the least to discover a connection to bandits outside of the city. My men and I are happy to aid you in your endeavours.” In reply to Farin’s words, Anton quickly acquiesces, “I understand completely. Please feel free to ask any questions you believe are relevant to the jeweler.” He then points towards one of the shops. “This is the place. My men will stand guard outside, and to ensure no other customers come in to trouble us.”
Nestled amidst the various stores and shops on Goldsmith Row, lies a fairly modest two-story building. Compared to its neighbours, it is unremarkable except for its blandness. A solid oak door rests beneath a simple sign that reads “Owain - Jeweler.” There are windows to either side of the door, though drapes currently obscure any view inside. Anton holds open the door for Luthor and Farin.
Luthor nods his agreement with Farin’s assurances that the Kingswood Company would respect the jurisdiction of the City Watch and Anton’s command. He nods for his knight and squire to remain outside as he follows the other men, sweeping back his cloak to reveal an arming sword. Like Farin, he’s here for a close fight. When the door is opened, he strides through, and moves quickly to the side to allow the others entry.
Farin enters the shop, and scans the room for persons. Finding only the jewler, he clears his throat and quips, in a low mocking tone, “Master Owain, is it? Have you got a moment? There are a few questions that some…interested parties…require answers to. Namely, the City Watch. I /do/ hope you will pardon the intrustion?”
Inside, soft sofas sit underneath each window where customers may relax with small tables positioned so they have a place to put drinks. A counter runs three-quarters of the way across the room and a door at the back leads into what sounds like a workroom. Along the walls, shelves display various tools of the jeweler trade; they all appear in excellent condition. An older man stands behind the counter, he is the only one present and he looks at the newcomers with curiosity.
Master Owain appears as a middle-aged man between 40 and 45 years old. He is dressed in modest attire that has a down-to-earth feel. His face is lined with wrinkles, and his deep blue eyes look tired, while his brown hair is streaked with grey. Looking at Farin in a nonchalant manner, he smiles, “Yes I am he. Please, there is no need to be formal in my shop ser knight. Call me Owain. Are these other sers with you as well? I recognize Ser Luthor of course, the Warden of the Kingswood is known us smallfolk. This other knight, I must confess I have not had the pleasure.” As Owain finishes speaking, his gaze turns to Luthor and Anton. His eyes seem a bit wild and a bead of sweat breaks out on his forehead.
Anton enters followed by 2 watchmen, the rest wait outside. He looks around the store with a dispassionate eye, studying and analyzing little details. Finally, he turns his eyes toward Owain. “I am Ser Anton Piper of the Citywatch, Master Owain.” Anton states in a formal tone and seems to ignore Owain’s request.
Luthor smiles blandly at the shopkeeper’s recognition. “Always good to be recognized, Master Owain,” he says dryly. He moves over to one of the tables and runs a finger along it’s edge while Anton and his men confront the jeweler.
Anton takes out the necklace with the fake sapphire and shows it to Owain. “Is this one of your works, Master?” Taking the necklace in hand, Owain studies it for a few minutes. Anton’s eyes never leave his hands and the necklace during this time. “Yes, it is mine. A woman named Margred brought it in for some repairs. It did not take very long to do. Is there some problem Ser Anton?”
“Yes, the sapphire set in the middle is a fake Master Owain, an excellent forgery,” Anton states as he takes the necklace back. “Any idea how that happened?” Anton asks while staring into Owain’s eyes. Owain looks shocked at Anton’s words. His eyes quickly travel to Luthor and Farin, as if asking them if this is true.
Farin’s eyes are accusational at worst, scrutinizing at best. “You remember the goodwoman’s name?” Farin asks idly, his rigid posture not faltering. “Interesting. Most Master craftsmen are more concerned with the lord or lady providing the order than the servant sent to deal with it. Tell me, do you memorize their names to be more polite, or so that framing them for the forgery and theft comes easier?”
Luthor turns his head to hide a small smile at Farin’s question, when he turns it back his features are stoney, and he’s wearing his Lord’s face. “Master Owain, best fix your eyes upon Ser Anton, you are beyond my help. Were I inclined to give it to you.”
Owain looks stunned by Farin’s words. “I do not know what to say my lords. I am a well-respected jeweler in King’s Landing and my family’s been in this business for four generations. My grandfather once helped design a diamond brooch for the royal family. My reputation speaks for itself. To even suggest something of this nature…” As Owain seems to babble on, Anton interjects in a firm voice, “get to the point Master Owain and answer Ser Farin’s question.”
“Of course, my lord, of course.” Owain takes a deep breath and looks back to Farin. “I remember the goodwoman’s name because we had occasion to chat while my son prepared my tools for the repair. I can assure you that the sapphire in that necklace was genuine when I returned it to her. I give you my word as a member in good standing of the Jeweler’s Guild.” Owain finishes speaking and takes another deep breath as he looks upon the three knights.
Farin looks to his compatriots, clearly not stumped, but not ready to drop any bigger bombs just yet. “Reputation speaks for the past, Master, not the present,” the lordling continues, ignoring the man’s suggestion to drop formality. “You might understand which concerns us /more/ at the moment.”
A hint of a smile appears on Anton’s lips at Farin’s words. He continues to regard the jeweler and states “understand that this is a serious investigation and any falsehoods you state carry grave consequences.” Anton pauses for a moment as he considers the man, then continues, “perhaps it is time to ask the rest of your family to join us Master Owain. I believe their presence is necessary so you may understand the gravity of your situation. Your son, Gareth, in particular, should be here.” The last sentence seems to have been an afterthought, though Anton’s gaze flickers to Owain’s face as he says it, almost as if he’s looking for a reaction.
Owain audibly swallows at the mention of Gareth, but he nods nonetheless. “Yes, Ser Anton. I will call for them.” Owain quickly disappears into the workshop and you hear the sounds of footsteps going up stairs. This is followed by the sound of multiple footsteps coming down the stairs. Owain arrives in the room followed by four other people. His wife and two younger children remain quiet and unassuming, barely making eye contact with the assembled knights. His older son however, looks at the knights with a challenge in his eyes. “This is my wife Derra and my children, Gareth, Loran and Lara.” Owain quickly introduces. Gareth is a young man, 20 years of age. His face shares many characteristics with his father, Master Owain, but whereas the elder man exudes humility, his son radiates overconfidence.
When the jeweler’s family is brought out Luthor’s stoney features give way to a frown. His eyes do not rest on the smallfolk directly but he looks above their heads, arms crossing over his chest.
The Prester knight watches as the smallfolk are paraded around in front of him, his murky green eyes absorbing the scene with an air of bored irritation. However, though not prepped for this issue, he picks up on the look from the son, and matches it with an idea from Anton’s tone. “Tell me, Master Owain,” he begins again, “In what capacity does your son serve here? Is he an apprentice, or mobility for the tools?”
Before Gareth can open his mouth, Owain quickly speaks up, “my eldest son helps around the shop sometimes, but he’s busy with his own affairs. Unfortunately, he’s not interested in continuing my trade. My younger son, Loran, on the other hand, is a gifted apprentice jeweler.” As he finishes speaking, Owain looks proudly at his other son, a shy 15 year old who blushes. Gareth rolls his eyes and looks away, he seems bored.
“If you are truly innocent Master Owain, I am sure you would not have a problem with a search of your workshop?” Anton asks the jeweler while regarding Gareth with a look of disgust. Owain appears surprised by this request and struggles for an answer, as he hems and haws for the moment.
Luthor’s eyes flick to Gareth for a moment and his look is weighing. “Forgive me Ser Anton,” he says to the watch commander, before stepping closer to the jeweler and his family. “But may I ask Gareth here, what the nature of his other affairs are?” he says fixing the jeweler’s son with a hard look.
It is Farin’s turn for the corners of his mouth to twitch upward in a quick half smile of approval, as his cousin jumps in. As Gareth possibly prepares for a response, and Owain hems and haws, Farin addresses the master again, taking advantage of the chaos. “Fear not, Master Jewler. Your stones are safe from us. Unless they, too, are false…?”
Again, Owain cuts in before Gareth can speak. “My son is more of a hawker my lords. He spends much of his time in the streets telling locals of my store and showing off my talents. As I said, he helps around with some chores now and then.” At Farin’s words, Owain stops hesitating and states firmly, “very well my lords, please feel free to search.” As he finishes, Gareth speaks up for the first time, “be careful sers that you do not break anything, we are not rich folk like yourselves.” He then laughs at his own joke.
Luthor nods. “Yes, a hawker. Of course,” he says gamely before taking a seat in one of the chairs to let the goldcloaks do what they do best.
“Careful that you give me no /cause/ to break something, Young Master. I have had enough practice on a Ironborn of your age, and their bones are twice as thick as yours,” Farin taunts the lad, though with that same uncaringly flippant tone.
Anton nods in approval at Farin and with a wave of his hand, the two goldcloaks enter the workshop in the back and begin searching. The sounds of chests being opened and drawers looked through can be heard clearly. Gareth looks defiantly at Anton and Farin, while Owain begins to glance around nervously. Suddenly, the sounds stop and the goldcloaks return. One of them holds a lump of glass-like material and shows it to Anton. Anton then gives the necklace with the fake sapphire to the goldcloak, who begins to compare them by stroking the surface and sides with his hands, followed by holding both up close to his eyes and peering intently at them. After a few minutes, he nods at Anton.
“This is the same material Master Owain. We know the sapphire on the necklace to be a fake, and the material used to make it has been found in your workshop. Stop lying to me now.” Anton’s voice grows cold and his eyes bore into Owain’s with a fierce intensity. Before the jeweler can speak however, Gareth jumps in, “My father recently received a commission from a *baseborn* customer who wanted something to impress a woman.” His sarcastic mention of “baseborn” is reflected by a sneer on his lips, as he continues “the customer is not rich like the nobility, and couldn’t afford a real sapphire. So he asked my father to make him something that looks like one. Is that against the law?” Gareth glares confidently at the assembled nobles.
Luthor snorts. “Let it not be said that my cousin didn’t warn you,” he remarks absently to Gareth. True the boy has a point, there are plenty of reasons why a jeweler might keep glass and paste in his shop. But he doesn’t speak those thoughts now. He just waits and watches.
What Farin Prester lacks for in brute strength, he makes up for with sharp reflexes and an iron grip; both of which come into play, as a gloved hand finds itself wrapped around the lad’s ear, twisting it back. “Watch your tongue, churl,” he sneers. “When you play in deception, you acknowledge that the trust will go against you. A Master Craftsman would not risk his lauded reputation on false jewels, would he?”
Owain watches the preceding events unfold in agony and when Gareth screams out in pain, he quickly attempts to calm things down, “please my lords, please don’t hurt him. He is young and passionate, and speaks before he has time to think. He does speak the truth however, this customer he mentioned is an old friend of mine and to be completely honest, his woman already knows the truth of his sapphire. As a respected jeweler, I could not in good conscience pass off a fake gem as a real one. But this customer and I have been friends since childhood and he truly loves this woman, I could not refuse him. So I told her the truth and she will keep up the charade. I have also made markings on the gem so any respectable jeweler will know its true nature. Please release him my lord.”
Luthor sits back, listening still but not interfering with how Ser Anton or his cousin deal with the jeweler’s son. He does however watch Gareth through his father’s story about how the glass came to be in the shop, looking for his reaction. Well, besides the usual pigheaded obstinance.
“I got much worse for being a passionate youth. Dailey,” Farin grumbles, releasing the boy, whose ear, if not bleeding, is undoubtedly bright red. “The Officer here has attempted persuasion. You continue to balk, Master Jewler. Shall we show you what we can do, instead? I have no qualms holding true to keeping my promise. Bones will break. Do you truly desire this?”
Owain shakes his head firmly at Farin’s question and looks around hoping for an out. Gareth grunts as he’s released and eyes the nobles with anger and resentment. He does however, keep his mouth shut this time. Eyeing Gareth with his detached gaze, Anton clears his throat. While he speaks again, it is to Owain and not his son, “you are right of course Master Owain, perhaps this is all just a coincidence. Perhaps everything you say is the truth.” Anton stops for a moment and continues to regard Gareth with a steely stare. “You know, it is getting quite hot in here, perhaps your son, Gareth here, would be interested in a little stroll. What if some of my watchmen take him outside for a bit, maybe walk him over to the Blue Boar on river row? Maybe leave him there, let him walk back by himself? It is good exercise after all. What do you think Gareth, care to take a trip?”
At the mention of the Blue Boar, both Owain and Gareth immediately share a look. Neither looks pleased, but the change in Gareth’s demeanor is especially telling. His challenging looks and defiant manner disappear in an instant and he seems to shrink in on himself. Both remain silent, and look to see what Anton’s next move is. Anton’s lips curl briefly in a snicker, as he looks to Farin and Luthor. “What say you my lords, the winds tonight are quite refreshing. Perhaps a walk outside would do young Gareth here some good. He seems rather pale.” As Anton finishes, Gareth pales even further.
Farin nods. “Well. We are dressed for it already. Why waste the trip? And the Blue Boar is so very pleasant.”
Anton quickly looks to the two watchmen, who immediately move on Gareth. Before he can say a word, they take him by the arms and begin to march him out. “Make sure the regulars at the Blue Boar see Gareth,” Anton mentions to the two goldcloaks as they move for the door. Owain looks to Farin and Luthor with a pleading gaze.
“Save your breath, Master,” Farin announces to the jewler before his look can turn to words. “We are privy to more than you believe. This will be done faster if you just spit out the rest of it.”
“Wait,” Owain pleads, “if you do that, they’ll kill Gareth. Please, don’t.” Anton stops the watchmen with a gesture and says, “then tell me the truth Master Owain. Are you the one who switched out the jewel?”
Owain noticeably gulps as he looks at the knights. He then stares at Gareth with agony in his eyes for a moment before finally saying, “yes, it was me. I had no choice my lords, please you must believe me. Gareth here owes money, a lot of it. My business is good, but not that good. I had no choice but to make a deal with…” Before the jeweler can finish, his wife Derra suddenly speaks up “stop Owain, stop speaking now. If you say anymore, they’ll kill all of us.” The woman appears frightened and there are tears in her eyes as she looks at Owain and then her son, Gareth. Anton looks with interest at the three smallfolk.
“Goodwoman, if you have dealt with whom you fear to cross, they will kill you lot regardless. There is salvation offered here; but it does not come for free. Tell us the rest. That is your only hope,” the Prester lordling continues. “Unless, of course, Ser Anton can provide another. Do not count on it.”
Luthor blinks his attention caught by the talk of the people at the Blue Boar and what might be done to their family. He takes note of the establishment’s name. Sounds like the sort of place he’d find what he’s looking for.
As Anton opens his mouth to ask a question, the door to the shop suddenly bangs open. A watchman enters quickly, out of breath and speaking rapidly, his words all a jumble. “Commander, you, return, must, now, Tower, they, hands, cut, off, hurry.” He stops abruptly and begins to take a breath.
Farin blinks. “Out with it, man. The Tower? Hand? The Hand is in the Tower? Breathe!”
Luthor rises as well, anxious to hear the man’s message once he’s had a chance to catch his breath.
Breathing deeply for a few moments, the watchman begins speaking in an organized fashion, “I do not know all the details, Commander. Some of the men were going for a shift change at the Traitor’s Tower and heard arguing from up the stairs. They recognized the voices of your men and those of Ser Farin’s. It seems that a reeve arrived shortly prior with some bailiffs and was trying to take that servant of the Lady’s off somewhere. They heard mention of applying the proper punishment and cutting off of hands. Sergeant Holden came running to the barracks and told me to come get you. Please, you must return immediately my lord.”
Anton appears shocked at the words. “A *reeve*? And *bailiffs*?” He speaks those two words in a tone of contempt. Before he says another word however, Anton quickly takes a deep breath to calm himself. Looking to Farin and Luthor, he says “my lords, we must return at once.” Turning to Owain, he says “remain here in your shop. My men will stand guard, once this is settled, we will return to question you further. *Do not lie* to me again!” Anton moves with speed, though not grace, towards the door and his two goldcloaks follow him.
Black leathers twist and fold, as Farin is already halfway to the door, conversing with Luthor, assuming that the man has kept pace or is not too far behind. “I set a few of our less necessary foresters on Margred; they will not move for many things, but a combination of a reeve and baliffs working together might give them pause. They will hold for word from me, if they the baliffs did not come with more men than they. How could this have-” but by then, he is out the door, ahorse, and hardly waiting much for the rest of the entourage.
“They’d best have knocked your picked men on their asses, all the same,” Luthor says. They’re his men damn it, and the hell they’re going to be moving for anyone save the Hand, the King himself, or Luthor. “Or there will be hell to pay.” He follows Farin out the door and calls for his horse which Barion brings him, and he swings into the saddle, forming up with the others as they mount.
Leaving 5 watchmen behind to secure the jeweler’s shop, Anton leads the rest of his company off in a gallop towards the Red Keep.
Red Keep: Traitor’s Tower
The darkness of the tower is illuminated only by the occasional torch set in a sconce along a wall, making shadows seem to dance in the flickering light. None of the graces that many of the other towers of the Red Keep offer are apparent here. Neither tapestries decorate the walls nor broad carpets the floor, and the only furnishings are the occasional rough-hewn bench of wood where a visitor may wait. There are many doors, but none are used as tower cells, instead serving as storage space. It is all of the same red stone, footsteps echoing in a gloomy silence, the sound occasionally interleaved with murmured voices or the creaking noise of a closing door. Guardsmen make their way in and out, sometimes hauling a shackled prisoner down to the prison cells below.
A set of broad stone steps near the entrance of the tower curves downwards into the gloom of the dungeons below.
The scene outside the Traitor’s Tower is chaotic. Margred is in chains and surrounded by a group of men in the uniforms of bailiffs, led by a tall figure. Standing in their way are 4 goldcloaks who refuse to let them get to their horses. Stablehands and servants are standing in confused masses all over the place, trying to not get in the way, but with no intention of missing this spectacle. The lone center of calm appears to be the tall man leading the bailiffs. He stands at 5’11” and has an imposing stature. His dark brown hair is cut short and his green eyes are focused intently. He wears the standard uniform of a reeve and a badge on his breast denotes his station for those who are not familiar with the dress of city officials. His only weapon is a sheathed dagger on his belt.
Standing behind him are 10 bailiffs wearing mail shirts, each carrying the truncheon typically associated with their post. They also have shortswords in scabbards on their belts.
“SERS,” Farin bellows, his silver grey palfrey coming to halt from a burst of speed, skidding ever so slightly and rocking Farin’s figure back as he calls out. His voice is a piercing one, when it needs be; he calls on such a reserve now. “What in the name of the Father is going on here? Who is trying to authorize a punishment on a prisioner of the watch’s and /mine/?”
Luthor’s nimble grey hunter, is reigned in hard before the crowd before the traitor’s tower. From it’s back Luthor scans the crowd with dark eyes scowling. “Who commands here?” he calls adding his own voice to Farin’s in the face of the mob.
“I am Delryn Follard, Reeve of the city and I am taking this prisoner on my own authority. She has been accused of theft and it is my duty to judge her. I have done so and she has been found guilty. I now take her for proper punishment.” The man leadings the bailiffs speaks in a tone of authority and power. He looks up at Farin with a calm gaze, and asks “with whom do I have the honour of speaking?” At Luthor’s words, recognition appears on his face and he addresses the warden, “Ser Luthor, an honour. This business does not affect the Kingswood company however, please stay your hand.”
Arriving with his men, Anton quickly hops off his horse, though he does it in as awkward a fashion as possible. Looking to the 4 goldcloaks who stopped the bailiffs from leaving, Anton nods once in appreciation. He then turns his attention to Delryn. “Goodwoman Margred is in my custody and under my protection, you do not have the authority to take her.” The other goldcloaks are also getting off their horses and move to back their commander. The bailiffs eye the approaching watchmen wearily, though some look on with a challenging gaze.
“You have the honour of addressing Ser Farin Prester,” the lordling counters, affixing reeve with as calm a gaze as he grants. “And bear in mind that we are just as capable of breaking the Goodwoman’s chains as we did Ser Jaesin’s. If you are hungry for a trial, you may have one yet; but this woman is not yours yet, /nor is she guilty./”
Luthor swings down off his horse as well, throwing back his cloak to reveal his blade at his side, and taking their cues from him, Ser Ryck and Luthor’s squire dismount and brandish their still sheathed weapons. “I’ll leave the questions of the law to Lord Ryger,” says Ser Luthor meeting Delryn’s gaze. “But that woman is a servant in what will soon be my cousin’s household. Which may not make it a matter for the Kingswood, but it makes it a matter for me. Lets put her back in the cell before any of us here makes a mistake they won’t get a chance to regret.”
“Once an accusation has been made, it is the duty of a reeve to pass judgment. In this case, I have done so and now take the guilty away for punishment. This is a clear cut case and I see no need for further *goldcloak* involvement.” Delryn scoffs at the word “goldcloak” and continues, “ask your men to back down commander. I have jurisdiction now and these bailiffs are hear to carry out my orders.” The bailiffs smile in amusement and remain relaxed, as if the dialogue is trivial. Some though look worried at the sight of Farin, Luthor and their accompanying entourage.
In response to Farin’s challenge, Delryn smiles and bows to the knight. “Well met Ser Farin. However, I must disagree. The law is clear on this matter. Margred here has been accused of theft and as soon as that happens, it falls into my jurisdiction.” Turning to Luthor, his voice turns cool at the warden’s words. “I am afraid it is not my concern whose household this woman belongs to. She has been accused of a crime and I have judged this crime. That is all that matters to me.” Delryn’s eyes fix on the two knights.
Farin unclasps his morningstar, raising it, and pointing towards Delryn with it, the long spike on the end acting as a finger. “Your writ commands that you hold trial, Reeve. Not even the Justicars may make judgments arbitraily. Produce your writ and establish court, if you think the jurisdiction is yours. If not, produce your blades, for they will serve you much better.”
Luthor chooses not to add to his cousin’s words and instead stands shoulder to shoulder with the man directing his men with a gesture to fan out to the left to better flank the reeve and his men. “But not much better,” he warns cooly. Okay maybe he will add to his cousin’s words.
Anton states in a quiet voice, “formation,” and the remaining 15 watchmen move in military precision. The 8 carrying spears split into two groups of 4, each lowering their spears and surrounding the bailiffs from left and right. The other 7 draw their longswords and bring forward their shields, standing behind Anton who’s done the same thing. Anton then states, in the same, dispassionate and calm voice, “forward.” Very slowly, the entire force begins to advance forward, like a closing vise, upon Delryn and the bailiffs.
The bailiffs however, do not back down. In fact, all 10 transfer their truncheon to their off-hands and draw shortswords with their main-hands. They surround Margred and Delryn in a circle and prepare to meet an attack. Delryn sighs as he speaks from within the ring, “My lords, please consider your actions. You are challenging the authority of a reeve on his own turf. Ser Anton, you yourself, an officer of the city watch in good standing, *accused the woman Margred of theft*. This puts it in my jurisdiction and I have judged. Cease this foolishness before anyone gets hurt.” As Delryn finishes speaking, Anton suddenly stops advancing. He appears to think something over and then, he *smiles*. And he continues to *smile*. It seems quite unnatural. Anton lowers his sword and shield and looks to Farin and Luthor. He motions with his head for them to pause a moment.
Luthor holds up a hand to forstall his own men, but not before drawing his sword. He nods in return to Anton, signalling his intent to stay his hand.
The glint that had been shining off of the head of the lordling’s ‘star fades, as it is brought down beneath the line of light. Farin looks as though he has a great deal to say, but with even greater self control, he remains back for now, standing side to side with his cousin instead.
“Reeve, you state that I accused goodwoman Margred of theft, thereby giving you authority to judge on this matter, correct?” Anton asks slyly. Delryn responds with a cool head nod, “yes, that is correct.” Anton then turns to Farin and asks, “Ser Farin, you were present the day I took custody of goodwoman Margred and in fact, you yourself suggested we place her in the upper levels of the Traitor’s Tower. When this event occurred, did I ever *accuse* the goodwoman of theft?”
“No, Ser. You gave credence to the opposite, in fact. We allowed her to be taken on the grounds that she did not stand accused, but was instead being taken into custody for her own protection,” Farin calls out, his voice raised for all to hear. He then directs the next at the reeve, “Protection that you seek to corrupt. Is this how the justice of the King works, Reeve?”
Delryn finally begins to look nervous, “but surely, in the time since, you’ve questioned the woman many times. You must have accused her.” Anton shakes his head, “never once have I ever accused goodwoman Margred of theft. From the beginning, I have always stated my intention to take her into custody only, but an accusation was never made. I give you my word as a knight and an officer of the city watch. In fact, since the results of my investigation today, I believe goodwoman Margred is not a thief and I hereby release her from custody, to take effect immediately.” Addressing Margred, Anton states formally, “goodwoman Margred, you are now free to return to the service of Lady Aurana.” Turning back to Delryn, Anton smugly adds, “now that she is no longer in custody, and you have nothing to judge, reeve, all that’s happening is you kidnapping a servant of House Buckler and soon, House Prestin. I believe Ser Farin and Ser Luthor has something to say about that.”
Farin, instead, takes this moment to address the Baliffs. “And you, gentlemen. You have worked hard enough to make it to the rank of baliff; should your Reeve continue on his current path, would you throw away your lives /and/ careers to protect him? If you would, my morningstar is eager to respond in kind. What will it be?”
The bailiffs do not move or react to Farin’s words and eye the surrounding people with steely gaze. Looking at the gathered nobles, Delryn’s eyes open wide for a moment, then it appears he catches sight of something far-off and he laughs expansively and spreads his arms wide. “Ah, my lords, I believe a terrible misunderstanding has happened. If no accusation was made, then what am I doing here? HAHA, please accept my gravest apologies. I did not mean to offend anyone at all. I was just doing my job.” He waves to the bailiffs who quickly sheath their swords and lower their truncheons. Delryn then bows to everyone and smiles disingenuously. The bailiffs open the chains holding Margred, who walks swiftly over to stand behind Ser Farin. “Again, accept my humblest apologies everyone.” Delryn bows again, and leads his bailiffs away.
Anton frowns as they move away, though he does sheath his sword and re-strap his shield. Walking over to Farin, Luthor and Margred, he says quietly “he gave up too easily. Something’s wrong.”
Farin watches the men move off, not taking his eyes off of them until the whole lot is cleared off. “He did not produce his writ. All of the men under Ryger I have met are fanatics about the power they wield; they would not have missed an opportunity to show that the King favors them. That he did not is plenty wrong.” He does take Margred, however, protecting her almost as he would his property, rather than a human being, holding her by the wrist with his off hand, his ‘star still out in his right.
The sounds of hoofs on cobblestones are heard as a horse rapidly approaches the gathered nobles. A goldcloak nearly breaks his neck as he jumps off the horse before it has come to a complete standstill. He is one of those left behind to guard Owain and his family. His eyes betray shame before he even opens his mouth to speak. “Commander, after you left, a disturbance broke out in the muddy way, and as the closest watchmen, we were forced to respond. When we came back,” he stops and looks down at the ground.
Anton’s face has become impassive and unreadable; his eyes bore into his man with utter stillness, and he asks quietly “what happened?” Choking back a moan, the man responds “they are dead, commander. Master Owain, his wife Derra, his sons Gareth and Loran, and his daughter Lara. Someone broke in and slit all their throats.” The man refuses to meet his commander’s eyes.
Farin looks back at Margred, noting that both of her hands are securely in place, and then turns to face nothing at all, addressing the open air. “I warned them. Bloody damned fools.” He looks this way and that, and then back to Margred. “Come along Goodwoman; my lady will want to see you as soon as possible.” He looks to Anton and Luthor, adding, “Sers,” and then, just to Luthor. “I owe you, coz.” And then he is gone.
Luthor listens to the goldcloak in closed mouthed silence, his knuckles whitening as he grips the hilt of the sword at his belt. “Seven bloody hells,” Luthor murmurs to himself as the news sinks in. When Farin stops to speak with him, the Warden of the Kingswood nods and clasps his cousin on the shoulder. Then he moves to Anton’s side. “Not to suggest that the goldcloaks can’t handle this, but if you find the bastards who did this, let me know, I’ll lend you whomever I can spare from the Kingswood Company.” Then with that said Luthor too is gone, leaving his men to take care of his horse as he makes his way back to his chambers in the Keep.
Nodding in acknowledgement at Luthor’s words, Anton remains silent as he dismisses his man with a wave of his hand. A second wave sends the rest of his goldcloaks back to their barracks. He stares at the silhouettes of Delryn and his bailiffs for a moment, before turning back to look at Traitor’s Tower. A soft murmur escapes his lips, it is a name: “Dougan Cutter.”