I have to admit, we were all a little mad at Galinndan for selling us out to the Thieves Guild, but none more than Bor. I don’t blame him. He had become quite attached to Skull Ringer. He muttered something about making the rogue’s skull ring. We thought he was joking, but you never could tell.
Galinndan and Althalus joined me for our designated meeting with Vizir Krolf Lorraine. We went to the keep and were forced to disarm ourselves in front of the guards. The castle was situated in the center of the city, with plenty of clear ground around it. My experience told me that those parade grounds and grassy areas would be deadly fields of fire in the event of a siege. From the growth of vines and moss, it was clear that Karn had not seen military action for some time.
From what Matthias had told us about this Vizir, he was a man to not be trusted. We were led to the door of his office. His desk and chair were on a slightly raised pedestal, almost throne-like. He was a tall man, lanky, in flowing purple robes. His face was capped with a jet black goatee and mustache that was finely waxed. His skin was dark, almost leathery, and there was something in the way he moved that told me that Matthias’s assessment of the man was not far off.
He invited us in and extended to us his hand to kiss his ring. I saw this for what it was, an act of domination. Galinndan hesitated. I made the appropriate gesture, then drove right to the point. “We desire an audience with Lord Sklaver. We have message from a killed Gray Rider that is for his eyes only.” I explained to him how the Gray Rider had come to our village and had died, and how we had been asked with his dying breath to find his stolen message and deliver it. Krolf Lorraine was clearly unimpressed.
“His lordship is far too busy to waste time with a pack of mongrels wandering in from some backwater town with a mysterious message. Still, I am curious. Why not provide me the message and I will pass it to him when I have a chance. That should satisfy your alleged need to deliver it.” He waved his hand in the air as if to wave us off.
“We were told to deliver it to the Lord himself. We traveled to the Gellesian Fields at the request of the rider before he died. We have traveled far to complete his ride.” I stood firm.
“Why would Lord Sklaver act on the word of farmers from Whiterock?”
“How do we know we can trust you to deliver the message?”
“How did I know you did not kill this Gray Rider and seeking to profit from delivering his message?” Galinndan replied. I almost whistled.
The Vizir clearly was not used to being questioned. “You are dismissed. Begone!” Our rogue hung his head low and sulked out of the chambers. Lorraine turned to us the moment that the door closed. “Who would kill a Gray Rider? Such an act would bring the wrath of The Herd down upon them. No one slays a rider…they become marked men.”
“It was a woman, Lexa Lyoncraft. She’s the one that stole the message,” I replied.
“Lexa Lyoncraft…well, now I know you are liars. She is nothing more than a rumor on the wind. The Church recognized the threat that the Sisterhood of the Sword presented. They purged them in the name of the faith. All were put to the sword except the handful whose names keep coming up. I doubt she exists…I think it is someone using that name to instill fear. “
“Say what you will, I am speaking the truth.”
“Your story is fraught with flaws and lies woven within your lies. The Gellesian Fields are at the end of our realm in un-ruled lands – the wilds. Our patrols near the edge of that accursed place say that it is haunted land where the dead wander at night. I doubt that farmhands such as you had the mettle to go there, let alone go and come back alive.”
Althalus weighed in on the debate. “We have faced near death many times to deliver this message. We only seek to pass it on and leave. Why would we lie about meeting her and making up such a story?”
The Vizir sneered in response. “You have constructed your little story quite well. But there are mistakes. Namely I have had agents who have seen you consorting in the city with a known man of low repute – Matthias Blackshear. Drummed out of the Royal Guard for failing to perform his duty, any associate of Blackshear’s is presumed to be one of the dregs of society – not worthy of wasting the time of Lord Sklaver with.
“Why would we make up such a story?” I pressed.
“Perhaps you seek to lure away troops from the city, leaving us exposed. Many lords would love the opportunity to seize control of our realm. No. You shall not have an audience.”
I was not surprised. This had been anticipated by Matthias. “You assume responsibility for us not delivering our message,” I curtly warned.
He laughed a deep almost crackling chuckle that reminded me of the story my mother told me as a child, a Vizir named Jafar. “I do not think the realm is any lesser for your failure. If this message is so important, you can give it to me.”
I shook my head. “Thank you sir,” I said bowing as little as possible. We left and returned to the Copper Horse. “How did it go?” Theren asked.
Althalus smiled wryly. “Galinndan got himself kicked out of the audience.” All eyes drifted to the rogue who was clearly embarrassed.
“As Blackshear predicted, he wouldn’t let us in.”
Theren nodded. “Then we go with our fallback plan. This afternoon, we go to court.”
I hope you have enjoyed the saga thus far. Here are the previous parts if you have missed any installments. Enjoy!