Cry of the Glasya Part 6
It’s hot and unpleasant. Summer is not my favourite season of the year. I’m more of a middling spring/fall kind of guy. On the plus side, it’s the perfect excuse to get a use out of basements which mostly stay ignored and neglected all year.
Anyway, let’s continue on with our adventures with bad summons and we’ll see if we can’t finish them soon.
It was the sound of familiar voices that ended Keirn’s tour across the keep’s walls. They were remarkably loud, drifting up from the courtyard like a rabble of angry crows. He peered over the edge, experiencing the peculiar sensation of viewing himself from different eyes.
The four of them stood before the knight captain, pulled from his duties to inspect the new hires. Jeremiah stood regally in his hastily polished suit. The plates of his mail gleamed in the sun overhead. But though he felt he gave off the appearance of some distinguished warrior, from Keirn’s spot it was all too easy to spot the dents in the metal and the worn straps. His boots were dirty from all their hiking and his sword could use a bit more care.
Derrek was far more presentable of the lot, with his brilliant flowing hair and eye catching features. It was unfortunate that he took too little interest in the interaction with their employer, especially when word of the entertainer of the evening was dropped. Keirn could see his shoulders droop at the mention of Licia’s name and the lute tapped limply at his side.
Kait was more taken with the apparent keep than the occupants or work that would be required inside. Amongst the sacks and bags strapped about her like some overburdened mule lay the thin, curved wood of a bow and hand fletched quiver of arrows. Her interests were varied but seemed more consumed by talk of hounds, stables and architecture than it did about rumoured assassins and paranoid dukes.
The only one of their group that paid any attention to the knight captain was the sorcerer himself. And Keirn couldn’t help but frown at his rather seemingly lanky frame draped in the clothes of a traveller with the start of an unkempt beard bristling his face. He appeared far more the vagabond than he thought and couldn’t help but think that his hair could really use a good cutting.
And even then, it was less the required guarding that drew his attention and more the promised feast.
“And when shall this meal be served?”
“The Duke wishes to celebrate at the crack of eve. The sun crests the tips of the distant mountains and makes for an excellent backdrop for the banquet hall.”
“Yes, yes and surely someone will be required to sample his food. You know, to insure that he won’t be poisoned.”
“He does employ a cup bearer.”
“My good sir,” plain clothed Keirn sighed, “we aren’t just talking about the cups. You see, we are adventurers that have travelled far and wide and know our fair share of honourable lords that have fallen to more nefarious means. No, the more sinister poison is mixed in as oils for breads, stews for vegetables or even glazes on hams. There are hams, yes?”
“A… boar is being roasted upon a spit as we speak.”
“Spit-roasted! Heavens, the most foulest of ways to go. I suggest we begin our duties in the kitchens immediately. Best ensure that the foods are cooked to a proper degree that’ll prevent any would-be assassin from murdering the innards.”
“That really isn’t necessary. Mostly you’ll be required to stand guard over the grand ha-”
“Speak no more, fair captain, for you have hired the merry band of Keirn Faden. Amongst our numbers are Kait, the seasoned baker who saved a kingdom through her savory muffins.”
“I did no such-”
“And Jeremiah the Bold! A chef so desired that he was summoned to the wind blasted steppes to show a glorious warlord the perfect wine for decoction. Then there’s Derrek who… who…”
“I’m pretty good at roasting turnips.”
“Who’s pretty damned good at roasting turnips.”
“Look, just report to the quartermaster for some… proper supplies and we’ll get you posted…”
“Your coin is well earned!” called Keirn beckoning for his friends to follow. “We’ll be dressed proper for the feast, you can count on us!”
“And a bloody good feast it was,” guard Keirn muttered, feeling his stomach grumble at the memory. “Only because Jeremiah saved the roast from those incompetent chefs.”
Keirn was tempted to follow his past self and see if he couldn’t once again obtain a sample of the foods before they were served. However, he feared the ramifications of perhaps alerting his past self to his future self’s existence. He was unfamiliar with magicks of time and space but felt such an unnatural occurence would no doubt lead to some greater travesty. No, it was better to identify this assassin and prevent the entire massacre and the kitchens were not the location of the crime.
Even if the boar was delicious.
Keirn hurried along the ramparts, making a strict beeline for the audience chamber. With the knight-captain distracted with his past self, he should be able to hide himself amongst the galleries and discover the identity of the mysterious saboteur.
Accessing the hall from the ramparts proved a far more trying task than Keirn anticipated. It was made further difficult by the noise of his clunking armour and his desire to avoid any confrontation with the steadily increasing amount of bodies in the buildings.
It was remarkable that someone had managed to prepare the summoning with all this attention. How did no one spot something suspicious with all these eyes peeled for anything suspicious?
Keirn emerged into the galleries to find Licia’s performing troupe already taking up their spots. Directions were shouted as the entertainers arranged their equipment. Raucous strings were strummed, horns were touted and the entire symphony seemed intent on blaring as much cacophony as they could while they were not under the pressure of an audience.
They paid Keirn little attention, the regalia on his suit giving him enough explanation for his presence. But, once again, it seemed impossible for anyone to organize the likely rigorous preparations required to summon the demon. This was getting Keirn nowhere.
“How goes the investigation?”
Keirn spun, finding Licia looking at him expectantly. Her fingers tapped her arms impatiently and he could tell she was re-evaluating her previous decision to give him free roam.
“It… uh… goes. Making lots of progress.”
“Is that so?”
“Just checking up on things here. You wouldn’t happen to know anyone that knows magic?”
“I’ve already told you that bards have a tendency for picking up the odd ritual here and there.”
“Rituals, precisely!” Keirn said. “See, there was this seal but it was like hidden so no one would see it.”
“An invisible seal?”
Keirn could tell she wasn’t buying it.
“Yeah, you wouldn’t know if anyone is versed in summoning, would you?”
“Back to blaming me for this supposed murder?”
“No, no. Not you. See, the Duke’s only been here for three years and the Earl…”
Keirn paused as a thought struck him with the full force of a knight’s charge.
“I… need to check something…”
“Indeed. This wouldn’t happen to be the kitchens, would it?”
Keirn cocked his head.
“I saw you, out of your disguise I might add, heading there with some of your confederates. I must say that you managed to get changed rather quickly.”
“Then you know I speak the truth when I say I know Derrek!”
Licia looked over the rails at the entertainers working. Keirn then recalled that his friend had disappeared for a time before the feast.
“You know, I don’t think we ever established how you know him.”
“It’s really not important!” Licia said quickly. “Well, carry on with your search then!”
And she turned, her long braid whipping like a frightened snake as she hurried from the hall.
“I don’t have time for this,” Keirn muttered with a shake of his head. He hurried towards the corridor. He had to find the old Earl’s rooms.
If the guard was to be believed, it would be located near the top floors of the keep. And, presumably, it would still be abandoned if their superstitions still stood. He found the curving staircase ascending to the higher floors, his boots taking the steps as quickly as they could. The clatter of the metal made it sound like a legion of soldiers hurried in his wake.