Lucien, Elassar, Thal, and company planned to ride from Foxwoerth to Fallond,
a journey of some 40 miles. On the way out of the manor compound, the camp site used by the would-be assassin was visited. Thal used magick to observe what had happened there and reported a physical description of the assassin’s companion to the party, along with a summary of the conversations the two had before the assassin departed to do his evil work. When the assassin did not return by dawn, his companion left to join up with a few of their fellows to ambush Dacre and his companions on the road. All were to be slain, but Dacre without mistake, or they would suffer Earl Maralad’s wrath.
Quick progress was made as the party rode at high speed to the edge of the Five Forests,
where the road met the river Dansis. There they were attacked by four men, two of whom opened with a salvo of sling stones.
Lucien’s groom-cum-valet Robert was knocked unconcsious in the first pass as the troupe swept by. Thal suffered a couple mishaps with his magic in an attempt to influence the course of events, first causing his hair to fall out and shortly afterwards blood began to run from every opening. Additionally, Thal’s fingernails began to grow at an accelerated rate,
extending and curling around until he needed assistance from Elassar to trim them back in order to retain basic function of his hands.
Despite this, most members of the party were successful in combat, including Elassar’s massive dog. One of the attackers was killed. Another, grievously wounded, was set on his horse and ordered to return to his master (Sir Arnold Penwyth, Lord Maralad), and two more were taken prisoner and brought along by the party. Thal attempted to heal his bleeding using a ritual magick and failed, then tried again with a quicker, more difficult spell and succeeded. All trace of the blood was removed from his body, although not his clothing, which was still awash in it. He changed from his bloodied clothes into clean garments, his only other set of fine elfin attire.
The party traveled to the next small village along the road, Tippleberry, in neighboring Tuppenshire. There they sought healing and rest, making use of the midwife and the old wise woman, Widow Beauchamp (BEECH-um), both, to save the lives of the two prisoners and their own man, Robert. Afterwards, Lucien made arrangements with the village reeve, Thomas, for the two prisoners to be held and cared for as long as a year’s time. Lucien had use for these blackguards. They could be instrumental in dragging Penwyth, Lord Maralad, under charges before Parliament … and maybe even winning.
In the morning the party continued on to Fallond. There Thal sought assistance
from the Wizard’s Guild. The party waited patiently outside as Thal followed a path of doors that opened seemingly of their own volition, torches and braziers springing into bright and cheerily dancing flames for his benefit as he approached, coming at last to a staircase where, on calling out, he scared a poor, frail old maid out of a few more of her precious years as she swept up. She conducted him to an expensively appointed solar and informed him the guildmaster Peregrinus would join him momentarily. Thal saw no one else in all the guildhall until he was greeted by a man swathed in some of the costliest silken brocades embroidered in gold, rich sleeves and hems of deepest wine-dark velvet trailing a half-dozen feet behind him, with a tall biretta of velvet so black it seemed to deny the presence of light completely. The soft scents of the perfumes and scented oils with which he was dabbed and in which the sculptured waves of his coif were dressed arrived with the opening of the door through which he entered. He offered his hand and introduced himself in cultured tones as Perigrinus, head of the guild, the light from the two small high round windows glittering across the collection of rings adorning his hand. He remarked at how astonished and how honored he was to receive one who bore elfin blood.
Thal consulted with him, but was at some pains to describe the difficult position in which he found himself, subject to a hex contracted from a mistake in the handling of his Arts but having been left unequipped with the knowledge of any sort of formula for the dispelling of the works of his craft. Pereginus expressed his deep concern that Thal’s master had allowed him out into the world without having equipped him with that lore, and then relief that the rest of his brothers of the guild were occupied or absent. They would have been making an unseemly fuss over him in the hopes to win him as their journeyman for the privilege of teaching him that which he lacked. Dispeling the hex could have easily enough been done, but the guild master had been reluctant to do so only to send him out on his own again, for it would only be a matter of time before he was so vexed again. Returning time and again for such services would damage his reputation and even, all too soon, mark him as a target among his unscrupulous colleagues, someone who might even be bound and exploited. Peregrinus offered the prodigious resources of the guild, and his own as tutor, as a gesture of amity he hoped would not be lost upon the elfs, in the hopes of starting to build a bridge betwixt the mortal practitioners and those among the elfs. If only Thal would consent to join the guild, the papers for which would take a couple of days to prepare and see recorded into the guildhall records and also into the rolls of the city.
Lucien was not happy to lose those two days, but Edred allowed that it was not unlikely that finding a boat to go to Digby, one which the party could hire with reasonable expectation of making port alive and not bound up to be sold for slaves out of the country, could take a couple days.
Those matters resolved, the party went together with Lucien to Fairingay Palace high atop Crown Hill to deliver a letter from Dame Esturme at Foxwoerth to the queen. They stopped a moment to take in the sight of the city spreading out at the foot of the hill and the grand sight of Kingsbridge rising in the distance, gateway to the northern half of the realm. On showing the letter and seal to the guards at the gate, one of the men was told off by their sergeant to conduct the party to the Queen’s Hall, where her majesty was still in residence following the great faire for the month before. They ended up taking somewhat of a circuitous path about the grounds and buildings so their horses could be dropped with Robert at the stables. Queen Islaelia was found in a upper chamber taking her ease with a half-dozen of her fine ladies and a few highly favored and trusted noblemen of the court. The ladies were all a twitter at the presence of the half-elfs, so handsome, even stunning in Thal’s case, they were. Islaelia thanked Lucien for the letter, and stepped into the light from one of the windows to read it, chuckling and smiling in good humor to receive a letter of good cheer from her closest confidante. She paused a moment to shush the ladies, so forward had they become in their unseemly admiration of the two half-elfs, and then finished her reading. She turned back to Lucien and questioned him as to the truth of the rumours from the marches regarding his father’s foef. She listened sharply to his tale, but afterwards insisted on questioning Lucien in detail about what had happened. To spare him having to unpack his heart before her whole suite she commanded the room cleared so he might speak in confidence with her. Ellasar and Thal retired along with the queen’s retinue.