“Most unusual.” he moved the glass flask slightly to the left. “Certainly quite peculiar!” he exclaimed. There was no doubt about it. Someone had drank his wine! He was unused to disappearing beverages, yet this was the second flask lately. In circumstances like these, the evaporation of alcohol was never welcome! He took up the flask, shifting it carefully in his hand. There was almost something green about the black bottle. He sniffed it. “Vanilla? How the…”
“Oh, it was delicious!”
Gerrey looked up, then exhaled in relief. “My dear thief, do you look familiar!” he said.
“I’m sure you’re mixing me up with someone!” Gabe said friendly, “nevertheless, never leave a bottle of cherry wine so lonely again, or it’ll join bottles one and two before you know it”. He had reached Gerrey by now, who stood up and greeted him.
“It’s good to see you, mate!”
“Mutually, milord,” Gabe said with overdone seriousness, “I have been looking all over the place! You sent for me?”
“Yes…” Gerrey began, then he thought of something, “wait how did you steal the first bottle?”
“I came by with a few carriages to drop off crops last week, you were in Wyvernsdale then I believe.”
“I was,” Gerrey said, slightly dryly, “but I forgot the gift!”
“I sure didn’t!” Gabe grinned. “You sent for me?” he asked again.
“Oh, yes, indeed!” Gerrey said shaking himself together slightly. “No good news I’m afraid!” Gabe raised an eyebrow. “Muzwall is dead!” he shouted, before managing to control himself. The bearded man next to him froze.
"The king? Dead? But how…?"
Gerrey leaned against his sturdy wooden desk, grasping it hard and shutting his eyes. “Shocklord,” he said. Something seemed to dawn in Gabe’s eyes.
“He was here?” he exclaimed, leaning against a pillar to support him, “in the North?”
“No,” Gerrey moaned, “that’s the worst part!” He looked up, into Gabe’s bright blue eyes, and began the tale. “Last week, on the council meeting, we came to an agreement. Sir Shocklord’s actions in Ebongrasp were determined to have been treason. Lying to the foreign leaders, he lead to risen tensions, tensions which can devour the Northern Realm if they are left unattended!” Gabe was now looking at him with a piercing look, but made no sound, so Gerrey continued, "it was then decided that he had to go! We all signed the bloody parchment, and the king himself told us he’d send someone to hire a team of assassins from Mon."
Now Gabe spoke up, “but how did Muzwall end up getting killed amidst all this?”
“I’m getting there!” Gerrey said sadly. “He went with team to the Winterkeep to finish him, the bloody idiot! And somehow Shocklord must’ve surprised them!”
“Any survivors?” Gabe asked cautiously.
“None,” Gerrey replied and sighed heavily, “and the traitor still lives!”
After a short moment of utter scilence, Gabe spoke up once again. “With all due respect,” he said slowly, “that does sound rather foolish!”
“You’re telling me?”
“So who rules the Northern Realm now?”
“Lord Crowport of Rosewater,” Gerrey said, "the kings will stated him as Lord Regent, should Muzwall be unreachable. That is actually why you’re here!"
Gabe straightened up. “What?”
The two were suddenly interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Come in!” Gerrey shouted, and a short, bold man with a long silver beard and golden eyes entered. “Excuse me, my Lords!” he said. “Lord Cito has sent me to tell you that two covered wagons arrived from some creatures calling themselves Keela at his doorstep just now!” He looked out the window, spotting the light from the setting sun “sorry, about an hour ago!”
"Was it a Keelish perhaps? Gerrey said, honestly surprised.
“Might have been,” the man said, “anyway, they gave us a letter, addressed to King Muzwall, so Lord Cito wanted me to hand it to you, since you might know what to do with it!”
He handed a light brown parchment roll to the lord, who took it into his hands. “Where are these Keelish now?” he asked, “are they being treated properly?”
“They aren’t treated at all, milord!” the man said, “they left into the night without a word! As soon as the delivery was handed over. The carriages are stored under the keep until we know where they’re headed!”
“Thank you,” Gerrey said, “send my warmest thanks to Lord Cito when you see him!” The man bowed and left the room, shutting the door, slightly too violently.
Gerrey untied it, and unrolled the letter. After reading it out loud, with a rising level of astonishment in his voice, he finally lowered it, threw it onto his desk, and got to work. He placed a piece of paper on the wooden surface and began scribbling on it frantically, then took it up, re-read it, and rolled it together. Then he took the parchment with the Keelish letter, turned it over, and wrote this message:
To Davos Crowport, Lord of Rosewater and Ruler of the Northern Realm
On the back of this you’ll find the letter I received from Kleriel today. The gold is safe for now, the nuggets will be distributed to the families of those who’ve lost sons to the Grimguard, as intended, however the gold bars are tougher. We need to meet to talk this over!
May you find the path,
He then rolled it up as well, then turned to Gabe, who’d been watching him from his pillar, and said, “your task can wait, take this to Ian, it’ll explain everything to him! I want you to help him distribute the gold nuggets. Keep the gold bars safe, and send a parrot when you’re done!”
“Where are you going?” he asked Gerrey.
“I must stay here,” he answered, "I want to be here when Davos’ reply arrives! There’s much to be done, and even more to watch out for!"
Gabe sighed slightly, but nodded, took the paper roll, and headed out of the room.
Gerrey lingered for a minute, just blankly staring out of his window, as the last glimpse of the sun disappeared behind the mountain. Then he too exited the room, climbing the stairs towards on of the towers. Reaching the top, he pulled open a heavy wooden door, only to be bombarded by the screeching of dozens of birds of every color imaginable.
“Hi there boys!” he called out to them, “I got a job for one of you!” He looked around, picked up a larger, red bird with a small, black beak, then tied the parchment to its leg. Taking down a small container, labelled “Citadel” from the wall, he shook it over the bird, and a small amount of blue dust fell down upon it. Almost at once, it took off with a mighty flap of its wings and was gone. Gerrey was left with the box in his hand, staring out into the ever-darkening sky.