Vincent gets the news of Sir Jamonson and Malinda’s intention to join him and awaits their arrival. The day they arrive is cold with heavy grey clouds covering the sky and the feel of winter on the wind. Vincent meets them outside Crotella tower with his horse next to him. Sir John also stands with him.
The older knight decided to join after learning of Vincent and the other’s plan, for it is only natural for at least two knights to conduct such business. Which means Sir John’s presence will make the visit less suspicious to others. Both Sir Jamonson and Malinda remove their hoods upon stopping in front of Vincent.
“Good day, Vincent.”, Sir Jamonson greets him with a nod.
“Good day, Sir Jamonson. Malinda.”, Vincent greets them with a respectful nod. “This is Sir knight John. He will be coming with us.”, Vincent explains introducing the older knight.
“Nice to meet you. I am Jamonson.”, Sir Jamonson says introducing himself.
“I am Malinda. Lady Lillian’s head servant.”, Malinda says.
“It is nice to meet both of you.”, Sir John replies to them both.
“Are you both ready?”, Vincent asks.
“Yes.”, Malinda answers.
“And we’re all clear on what to do?”
“Yes, don’t worry Vincent. We are ready.”, Sir Jamonson assures him. With that Vincent mounts his horse. “You look well.”, Sir Jamonson observes. Vincent nods his head silently. Inside Vincent is actually apprehensive, but nonetheless ready to get started. It will take them four days to get to Lord Argon’s mansion. After sharing looks with Sir Jamonson, Malinda, and Sir John they set off.
On their way to the mansion an icy rain falls that makes the ground treacherous in some places and causing the trio to stop for a while. They stop outside the immediate area of the mansion when they arrive.
“Alright, from here Malinda, Sir John, and I will go.”, Vincent announces turning to his three companions. “Malinda, you will traverse the mansion in secret and meet with a servant named either Arita or Hugo.”
Hugo. The name causes Malinda’s eyes to widen. Vincent catches her reaction.
“Hugo? He is Lord Argon’s secretary.”, she says.
“So you know him?”, Sir John asks.
“Yes and I don’t think he can be trusted. Not if Lord Argon trust him.”, Malinda says concerned. Vincent’s eyes narrow and he places his hand to his chin. Sir John also becomes intrigued at the information Malinda gives.
“If what you say is true then there is no doubt Lord Argon is aware of the crown’s actions. This could prove difficult.”, Sir Jamonson offers.
“Nonetheless, we must continue. We will just have to be careful.”, Vincent says somberly. “Let’s begin. Sir Jamonson, keep a look out for an arrow with a cloth tide on it.”, with that Vincent rides off with Sir John and Malinda as she leaves her own horse behind.
Upon reaching the front entrance Malinda departs a distance away and waits for Vincent and Sir John to enter the mansion. After meeting the front guards they both dismount their horses and enter while the other guard takes the horses away. Vincent looks behind him to see Malinda quietly rush in and hide in a corner before the doors close. He nods slightly in acknowledgment and glances to Sir John who also nods.
They are then taken to Lord Argon who is in his studies. The guard tells one of the servants to inform him of Vincent’s and Sir John's visit. Vincent and Sir John wait in the main living room of the mansion. It is full of elegant furniture crafted and fashioned by expert hands and surrounds a bear skinned rug with its mouth opened. The room is lit by candles held by bronze holders and the fireplace glowes with a strong flame.
As they wait Vincent thinks of how he can keep Lord Argon distracted long enough for Malinda. He guesses he will have to play be ear or he could try and find out what Lord Argon knows himself. He looks to Sir John who leans over to Vincent.
“How about you start off the conversation sir? I have an idea I think we should try, but I’m not sure how to bring it up.”, he whispers. Sir John looks at him for a moment then nods.
“Just jump in anytime you feel is right. I don’t have much myself.”, Sir John whispers in reply.
Once the lord enters Vincent and Sir John get to their feet and bow respectfully in greeting.
“Good day, Lord Argon. Please for give our intrusion, but we needed to speak to you of an urgent issue.”, Sir John says to him.
“That’s quite alright, Knight John. Knight Vincent. Though I would have preferred a word of warning I will be happy to speak to you.”, says the lord while bowing respectfully to each of the knights in return. Vincent catches eye of Hugo. He being in here means Malinda will have to meet with Arita.
Vincent eyes him. He is around the age of thirty, although most likely twenty-nine with light brown skin reminiscent of that of the western tribes and green eyes. He also has a square jaw and straight brown hair. Vincent guesses he is a mix of tribal and traditional eastern blood. A trend that began after the first wave of the great plague and becoming ever more common. Vincent also remembers Malinda’s warning of him.
“We just wanted to discuss with you the threat that the lords maybe coming to face recently. As far as from outlaws and others and how possibly the knights could work together with the lords on this issue.”, Vincent says redirecting his attention to Lord Argon and taking the reins of the conversation. Though he catches Hugo leaving the room proving his earlier thought wrong.
“Well I’m glad that you brought that up.”, Lord Argon says taking a seat. “I would actually recommend the lords having their own personal militants who could be present at all times on our manors.”
Vincent raises an eyebrow at the lord’s words. “You mean to have the ability to summon your own personal armies.”, Sir John clarifies.
“We trust you understand why that will not be possible.”, Vincent tells him with steady eyes. By now Malinda should be talking with Akita and seeing what she knows.
“Oh yes, yes. I knew that would be a stretch, but I trust you understand my reasoning.”, Lord Argon counters. Vincent can hear the slimy, malicious intent in his voice, but keeps his composure.
“Well I can assure you the knights and Prince Winston are doing everything we can to keep the kingdom safe from all threats.”, Sir John tells him. Lord Argon merely nods his head.
Suddenly, a risky idea comes into Vincent’s mind. Though he is not sure he decides to try it. “Recently a new development has emerged. We found that those apprehended in Gordowe are also responsible for the Lackburd’s murder.”, Vincent says.
Lord Argon eyes widen with fake surprise, yet Vincent catches the look that comes into them as well though it quickly fades. “Oh really. That is good news.”, the lord says.
“Indeed, those directly responsible have been found to have died, but their leader will take their punishment.”, Vincent says. “Soon it will be over. Do you have anything else to suggest?”
“That will certainly bring peace to the lords.”, Sir John comments.
A moment pass before Lord Argon speaks. “No. I hear the knights are improving any way. My faith is in you.”, he finally speaks. At that moment the sound of a horn being blown rings out. Vincent and Sir John jump to their feet.
“What is that?!”, Vincent asks the lord immediately alert.
“The alarm for an intruder.”, Lord Argon answers rising to his feet.
Vincent’s heart sinks. He looks to Sir John and has no doubt they’re thinking the same thing. It had to be Malinda. They rush off and follow the guards to where the intruder is. They had to get their first.
When they do they find Malinda and Hugo in a hallway. Hugo has Malinda by her arms and wasn’t letting go.
“I am aware of what he has done, but I must remain loyal to him.”, Vincent hears Hugo telling her. He reaches for his sword, but stops. Instead he runs in and separates them both and stays between them. Sir John joins him with alert and focusing eyes.
“Hold it!”, he says. Vincent bites his lip.
Darn it all. This isn’t good, Vincent thinks.
At that moment they are surrounded by guards and Lord Argon comes forward. He spots Malinda and recognizes her immediately.
“Well, well look who we have here.”, he says calmly. “It seems you picked a very unlucky day to come back here you wretch.”, he continues to Malinda with undisguised hatred. “Feel free to arrest her. I will be glad to hear how she got in here.”, Lord Argon continues to Vincent and Sir John.
The two look at each other in the corner of their eyes. They both recognize the situation they are in. They are surrounded with no windows to the outside to alert Sir Jamonson. Vincent looks to Malinda.
“I don’t know how you got in here, but you’ll be coming with us now.”, he says to her. Vincent grabs her hands quickly and puts them gently, but quickly behind her back and pushes her to the ground on her knees. Malinda lets out a sound of surprise and shock. “Play along and we can get out of this.”, he whispers to her.
Malinda gives a slight nod of understanding and Vincent brings her back to her feet. Turning to Sir John he gives a look that the older knight thankfully understands.
“Yes, well a true stroke of luck we were here. We will take her away and question her.”, Sir John says facing Lord Argon.
“Oh no. No, no, no. You can leave her here. I will have her questioned myself.”, Lord Argon objects.
“Really, my lord let us handle it. It will be best that no attention is brought to you.”, Sir John counters.
“He is right, my lord. I’ve seen her before she is Lady Lillian’s servant.”, Vincent adds before beginning to depart. However, he is stopped as the guards place their weapons in his way. Vincent’s eyes move to Lord Argon without his head moving.
“I knew exactly who she is.”, the lord says slowly before trying to grab Malinda from Vincent.
Acting quickly Vincent moves her away from him simultaneously drawing one of his side side daggers and swiping across the lord’s hand. Lord Argon reals his hand back with pain; stopping. Vincent takes the chance to elbow the lord in the chest with the same arm holding the dagger. All the while keeping hold of Malinda with his other head. The impact causes Lord Argon to fall back into some of his men.
During this time Sir John engages a couple other guardsmen; knocking them out or immobilizing them. He then follows Vincent and Malinda as they start to run for the exit.
“Wait, the horses! We need to get to them.” Malinda says through huffs of breath.
“We’ll get them!”, Vincent tells her simply. There is no need to give Sir Jamonson the signal; not as long as they can make it out.
“Seize them...!”, Lord Argon shouts behind them. The trio hurries back to the living room. Once there they encounter another group of guards.
“Looks like we will have to fight after all.”, Sir John says grabbing his sword.
“Let’s just not kill anyone.”, Vincent says. “Malinda, stay by us.”
Vincent and Sir John rush the guards. Vincent locks blades with one, but breaks with a turn that flows into a jab with the hilt of his blade into the man’s side and a hit to his jaw. He then stabs the leg of another as he evades a rush from him. Keeping his blade pointed down Vincent blocks another attack. With a heave of effort Vincent forces his blade in an upward motion with both hands. This causes the guard to lose his weapon and Vincent immobilizing him with a turn that flows into a side swipe to the legs. The result is a clean gash in each leg.
“Let’s go...!”, Vincent shouts quickly once they have an opening. As they run Vincent notices Malinda is holding a fireplace shovel. He guesses she must have knocked out one or two guards back there.
The three are almost to the exit when a sound causes Vincent and Sir John to turn around. They see Hugo has caught up and tackled Malinda. She is struggling under him attempting to throw him off. Vincent takes his dagger and throws it at Hugo with careful aim. It somehow lands squarely in his shoulder causing Hugo to shout in shock and pain. Vincent rushes over and pulls the knife out and kicking Hugo off Malinda.
“Come on.”, he says grabbing Malinda’s hand. Hugo looks on after them as they leave.
“The horses. Where are they?”, Sir John says looking around. Suddenly a whistle sound catches their attention. The trio look to spot Sir Jamonson with all the horses waving them over.
As they hurry down the hill towards him Vincent notices someone is with him. It is only as they draw nearer do he recognizes Ryanah.
“Ryanah! What are you doing?!”, Vincent says as they quickly mount their horses.
“No time to explain. We must get out of her quickly.”, she says beginning to ride leaving everyone else to follow. They follow Ryanah to a small grove far from the mansion. There they hide out among the trees to catch their breaths and for the horses to rest despite the cold. Vincent sits against a tree looking around.
“Don’t worry we’ll be safe here.”, Ryanah tells him.
“Who are you?”, Sir John asks turning his attention to Ryanah.
“My name is Ryanah. I’m a friend of Vincent here.”, she answers.
“She is right. I met her a long time ago before I was a knight.”, Vincent confirms. “What are you doing here and how did you know we would be?”, he continues.
“I seen you would need help. Remember I can read messages in nature.”, Ryanah answers.
“She is telling the truth. She came to me and told me that we needed to get all of your horses back.”, Sir Jamonson informs them.
“I don’t understand. No one else knew what we were doing except Prince Winston and Lady Lillian.”, Malinda speaks confused.
“Ryanah is a wiccan. A talented one at that.”, Vincent explains.
“A wiccan? I thought they didn’t exist anymore.”, Sir Jamonson says.
“Well I’m glad they do. We would have been in trouble if not for you, Ryanah.”, Sir John says. Ryanah bows her head.
“You are welcome.”
“Malinda, what happened back at the mansion?”, Vincent asks directing his attention to her now. She doesn’t respond right away. Instead an unsettling look comes into her eyes.
“I was looking for Arita. I was hoping to meet her instead, but Hugo found me first. It didn’t go the way I thought it would. For a moment it seemed he really would be willing to give information on Lord Argon’s dealings with the bandits. However, for some reason something made him change his mind. He pulled out a horn and I actually attempted to convince him not to blow it, yet after hesitating he blew it anyway.”, Malinda relays her tale.
“So you didn’t find out anything.”, Sir John assumes.
“No. Actually he mentioned something I caught.”, Malinda reveals. “It has something to do with the village Morage.”
“Morage? That is located a little northeast of here and Gordowe in the northwest of it.”, Ryanah says.
“I know that village. It’s where I am from.”, Sir John announces.
“If it’s located between here and Gordowe that must be where the deals and transactions were taking place.”, Vincent guesses.
“You think it’s possible we could find something there? Like a payment that was never picked up?”, Sir Jamonson offers.
“Or a witness.”, Vincent agrees.
“We should head there.”, Sir John speaks.
“No! First we must return to Lumorra. Quickly.”, Ryanah interrupts urgently. Vincent notices the fear and worry in her eyes and guesses that she knows something else.
“Let’s go.”, Vincent says rising to his feet.