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Branwyn gives some gifts before the voyage

Branwyn rose early to pack the rest of her things as well as the gift she had chosen for the Queen of Cornelia. She turned the box over in her hands a few times and then simply sighed and packed it away.

“Is it time to go already?” came a sleepy voice from the bed.

Branwyn smiled and turned around. “Not yet. Just finishing some packing. I also wanted to see the staff before the morning bustle commences. But, since you are awake, I have something for you.”

Branwyn went over to the bed. She knelt down on the floor and pulled a large bundle out from beneath it and placed it on the edge of the bed. Lord Branadarus looked up in surprise. He sat up and reached for his gift. “For me?”

“Yes, for you. I think you deserve a present. I wanted to get you some armor, but a present you won’t use isn’t a very good present at all. Although if it were up to me, I would prefer you extend a little bit more of an effort to protect that heart of yours that I am laying claim to. But that is up to you,” she said, smiling. “Go on, then.”

Branadarus pulled the package onto his lap and started unwrapping. The bundle contained a scabbard for his long sword. It was a made of rich dark leather with intricate braiding and gold at the bottom and the top. The Branadarus crest was etched into the gold. Tiberius held it up examining it. “Thank you,” he said, pulling her up off the floor to kiss her.

“I am very glad that you like it. Now, go back to sleep for a while. We have a big day ahead of us. I’ll be back in a little bit. I need to go,” Branwyn said, slipping away before he could pull her back to bed.

Branwyn made a short detour at the library, picked up three wrapped packages and went to the salon. She was lucky enough to find her three main staff together having tea while the room was theirs. Phillipe jumped up at the sight of Branwyn in the doorway. “Good morning. You are up exceedingly early this morning.”

“Yes, I am. Please sit and finish your tea. I wanted to catch you before the masses descended for last minute packing and breakfast. I just wanted to give each of you something as tokens of my appreciation for all you have done for us this past year and all the trials you have had to endure due to my presence. Correspondence shall resume untampered with and Count Vilmar and Sir Androp shall bring order to all of the chaos I have unleashed upon this city and this household,” Branwyn said with a grin. She deposited a package in front of each of them and then went to the sideboard to make herself a cup of tea.

Atribella opened hers first to find a set of golden hair combs decorated with small pearls. “Branwyn, these are lovely. Thank you.”

“They will catch the sunlight nicely and I will think of you wearing them as you go about town while I am lost in a sunless mist. It will be a very happy thought for me. And you, Joseph, does your gift look familiar?” she said turning to him as he took a finely made dagger inlaid mother of pearl with a silver hilt. Branwyn took out her own that Lord Branadarus had given her and held it up.

“I had one made for you. You stepped in front of danger for me many times this past year. I do not forget such things. And now when I draw this dagger I will think of you and what a true friend you have been.”

Phillipe sat with his package still on his lap. Branwyn gave him a mock frown and waved her hand at him. “Go ahead. Open it! People will be coming in soon.”

Phillipe unwrapped his package to find a crystal ink well with P.G. Esq. etched into the front. Also inside were two quills made of quite unique and distinctive feathers. Phillipe looked up at Branwyn. “Are these?”

She grinned mischievously at her former attaché. “Hippogriff feathers? Of course they are. Did you think Imari was able to collect all the feathers that bird was constantly dropping when it stayed here? Well, I am going to go rouse Lord Branadarus. Finish your breakfast and tea and I shall see you all shortly.” Branwyn paused. “Know that if you ever need me, you have only to send word. But we shall see each other again soon … as soon as I am done being presented to Lord Branadarus’ mother.” She gave an overly dramatic sigh and turned to leave.

Hugh's Baby

As the group is gathering before the morning meeting on 19-5-1267 TGR Atribella corners Hugh as he enters the salon with Mercy on his hip. {others can filter in as they wish}

"Hugh! Put Mercy down. She needs to walk on her own. She is over a year old now after all." Jilly sets a plate of hard boiled eggs on the table for breakfast, "Mercy was walking just fine when you were off all day every day waving around your sword and then doing what ever that was day and night. All those silly hiding things in rooms. It was hard to keep cleaning up after you."

Atribella nodded, "Hugh what are you doing to do with a toddler running around all day? It was bad enough when we had to feed her for you, I am NOT going to chase after a little girl all day long." she said tapping her foot.

Dinner with Mr. Silver - Meeting prior to dinner

The front meeting room was cleaned and ready. Scones and tea places on the table with a decanter of wine ready for stronger needs.

Phillipe guided Mr. Silver into the meeting room. “Ambassador. Mr. Silver is here at your request. May I get you anything?”

Branwyn stood and smiled. “No, thank you, Phillipe. This is lovely. Please close the door.”

She raised the decanter off the tray a bit and said, “A little wine before dinner? I thank you for coming on such short notice. I do appreciate it and would not have asked if it was not a matter of some urgency in which I need your expertise and advice.” After Phillipe had gone, she raised her hand and then swiped it sideways. The meeting room door locked.

Mr. Silver raised an eyebrow but did not turn to look in the direction of the door. “Yes, perhaps some wine would be a nice, all things considered.”

“Good,” Branwyn replied, pouring two glasses and handing him one. “The lock was to keep them out. Not you in. Please have a seat and let me explain. We have a missing Halfling priestess and we believe she is being held captive by green dragons.”

“That does sound serious. I hope you would not presume to think that this unfortunate incident has anything to do with me,” Mr. Silver said calmly.

“Of course not! It’s just … I can’t find her and I didn’t know who else to ask for help.” Branwyn then proceeded to launch into all the details she had been told. The approximate location of where Kenna was taken. The direction the dragon flew and that it was quite young. The numerous tries with the crystal ball to only have seen darkness.

“I can’t retrieve her if I can’t locate her and she could be anywhere in Blumm Woods. So to start, would you have any ideas on how to find her? Why in the world would a dragon wish to hold a woman captive in the middle of nowhere? If Kenna was dead, my crystal ball would show that. And before we go very much further, I hope that you know that I would never break my word to you about the matter we discussed at your last dinner at the manor. Given the circumstances, would you find it acceptable for me to introduce you my colleagues as an expert on the Blumm Woods and its inhabitants, considering your vast estate and so forth? Then perhaps we could discuss these matters over dinner rather than just you and me. Sometimes when I am overly upset about matters, I do not take every option into account and the people I surround myself with more than make up for my shortcomings. I shall do whatever you desire in the matter and we can continue right here if that is more comfortable to you. I just hope that you may help in whichever setting you decide is best. More wine?” Branwyn asked.

Mr Silver smiled and offered his goblet up to be refilled.

"If you do think that your companions will have that many more questions I can answer them at dinner. I can offer up my knowledge of all types of dragons. Aunt Jennevive would find it most amusing I do think. She knows that I believe I am a dragon. Of course she does not believe that so she is trying to ascertain my true motives for believing that. I have to warn you that I cannot give you any details on a precise location."

"It is interesting that she was taken and not eaten. I wonder what purpose she is serving? Is she a particularly portly woman? Or is she good with stories? I can imagine keeping someone around who is particularly entertaining. Though a Green? Armoidal Smaragus Colles Saltus, whose name I will not repeat, would not be interested in such a thing. She is also sleeping unless I am mistaken. Her daughter Shorndal Smaragus might be awake if you say there was a young one nearby. She might be old enough to have restraint and young enough to be curious."

Drinking his wine, "How else can I help you?"

“I did not know that you and Aunt Jennevive had a relationship. Please don’t tell me that she has been invading your privacy. That is something I can address with her privately if you wish,” Branwyn said with some surprise.

“But back to Kenna. She is not particularly portly. She has the build of a typical Halfling. Not much of a meal for a dragon I would think. She is a priestess and a midwife so I am sure that she has her share of interesting stories. Would dragons keep someone just for entertainment? And though it would have been too hopeful of me to think that you had a full directory and maps of all dragons residing in Blumm Woods, I was thinking perhaps you could help us formulate a plan of how to approach such a search. But if you are willing to discuss such things over dinner, then we should join our friends in the courtyard.” Branwyn drew her hand to the left, whispered and the lock to the meeting room released.

Mr Silver smiled and rose from the table, "I would be very glad to share tales with your group. Aunt Jennevive is protective of you and so has done research on many of the people that you associate with. It is one of her better qualities, a curious inquisitive mind. I think you underestimate the value of entertainment."

He nodded to the rest of the people moving to the tables in the courtyard. He spotted Kel and Shi, casually saying (E) Hello, welcome to the city, you are far from the Wildlands, how do you know Ambassador Marquessa Branwyn the Mysterious?"

Glancing at the table he raised his glass, "A toast to pleasing evening."

First Morning Meeting with everyone back except Kenna

Branwyn sat at the table staring into the crystal ball again, looking into the darkness, trying to spot Kenna. Frowning she moved to the couch in front of Phillipe and waited for the others to arrive.

Phillipe handed her a scroll, smiling. "This is the first non-red scroll we have received in quite a while. It came and I thought to hold it for you rather than give it to Marisu to see if you were going to return shortly." He hands her the 1-11-1266|diplomatic pouch from 1-12-1266.

Branwyn put down her teacup and took the scroll. "I thought that the red scrolls would cease with me out of the house for so long. You must tell me if you have any results from your surveillance of the scrolls or whether I shall have to do it now that I am home. But let me read this scroll first."

She carefully unrolled the parchment and read silently and then aloud to the group. "Promising news from the Queen. And it looks like we shall have a new Ambassador in a month or so. The New Years Party may very well be the last one that we shall host for ourselves. I do hope that it goes successfully and we can enjoy ourselves. I think we all deserve it."

Branwyn paused for a moment, having a bit more of her scone before launching into the many other items on her list of things to accomplish and tasks to put into motion. Grateful that she apparently did not need to have an elongated conversation about the political state of Drillian, she moved on.

“If you have no more scrolls I can read and no one is this household has anything to report on their surveillance of the red ribbon scrolls, then I would ask you, Phillipe, to place all of the red ribbon scrolls we have in the house in my bedroom. It seems I shall have to do this myself. As I repeatedly stated that I wanted to do from the beginning,” she frowned pointedly at Phillipe as she finished.

“In any event, we have more work to do. Phillipe, will you please invite Mr. Silver to a meeting with me and an accompanying dinner as soon as he can come? I would like for you to arrange a private meeting with him and myself in the downstairs meeting room, and then I can bring him up to dine with us afterwards.”

“We also need to work together to try to see if we can locate where the dragon took Kenna,” Branwyn continued. “Perhaps Ilero can see if any of his contacts know anything? Or our priests do some sort of divination if they have the ability? We do have a number of Kenna’s personal items to help in casting.’

“I did want to ask Ilero and Lord Branadarus about when I contacted them through the crystal ball. When you heard me speak, was my voice inside your head like a thought? Or was it my voice speaking aloud like I am talking now? I have been hesitant to try to speak to Kenna without discussing it with you two or trying another experiment with a safe subject. It might not be good for Kenna to suddenly have messages reaching both her and her dragon captors.’

“Besides all of those things, I need someone to go through the scrolls we found and make a listing of their subject matter. I am afraid to touch them for fear of turning them into hellhounds and destroying the valuable documents that they are. Once we can discuss how many we have and their content, then we can decide what to do with them.’

“Oh! And do we need to invite our subterranean guests to dinner?” Branwyn asked remembering that Ilero had house guests at the sewer entrance.

Phillipe frowned slightly. "I will be glad to put all the scrolls in your room Branwyn. However we are not receiving any new ones. I stopped getting them when all of them were red and you left. Marisu only answered a couple. The Queen's came separately and I would of course not refuse that one. "

I will arrange for Mr. Silver to come. Our household is so large now perhaps you would like to have tables set up in the courtyard to accommodate everyone? "

Jennevive spoke eagerly, "I will be glad to go through the scrolls you recovered to see what topics they cover. They are likely dry military texts but at least I can amuse my self by inviting Tristan over to go through them with me."

A slight twinge of a sadness struck Branwyn hearing Tristan’s name, but she then turned to Jennevive resolutely. “That is fine, Jennevive. You may peruse them, but I shall have Howard and Hugh with you as well. Howard is quite proficient at transcription and can take the proper notes. And Hugh shall serve as protector of the scrolls. He shall make sure that when I hand you eleven scrolls that you return eleven scrolls when you are finished. When we know what we have, we can have a group meeting and decide what to do with them. Hugh can secure the two scrolls we have already identified, which include,” Branwyn added with a bit of a wicked smile, “the incredibly rare Kayugan priest spell we found. No need for you to look at that one since we know what that is. We’ll just save it until we can discuss the contents of Art Brandish’s collection in its entirety, shall we?”

Branwyn sat back and took another sip of her tea enjoying the rare moment when she felt like she could torture Jennevive for a change rather than having her tormenting the rest of us. But the moment did not last as she still did not feel the issues of the red scrolls had been resolved to her satisfaction. So her attention turned back to Phillipe.

“Yes, the weather is starting to turn warmer. An affair in the courtyard shall be lovely. And do invite Ilero’s guests to come as well. I am sure the fresh air will do them good. You can seat them with Ilero and Kel. I am sure they will all find each other good company. Speaking of company, we do need to get rid of our other guest sooner rather than later. Can you find someone in this city who speaks bugbear? We need to speak with him before we release him. The sooner we can locate a translator, the sooner he will be out of the house.”

“Now, about the scrolls,” Branwyn continued. “Let me make sure I understand what you are telling me. Before I left, you told me that you saw that the ribbons on the scrolls would change color. Some brown ones, for instance, would turn red and then others that were red would turn to their original color, correct? You had five red scrolls, then twelve, and then the next day you only had four. That is what caused me to want the scroll surveillance. I wanted someone awake and looking at the scrolls to see what occurred when the change happened. I have never gotten a report from anyone that this was accomplished. No one has been in the room when the scroll changed. That is what I wanted to do. Watch the magic,” Branwyn sighed.

“Now you are telling me we are not receiving any new ones. That you stopped getting them when all of my scrolls had turned red. Are you telling me that you are turning my incoming correspondence away at the door in fear that the ribbons may turn red? Or are you telling me that no one in this city or beyond is corresponding with the Ambassador of Drillian because neither she nor her staff has responded to any prior correspondence due to these cursed scrolls?”

Phillipe looks a bit chagrined. 'yes that some of your correspondence was lost, we cannot replace that nor did we know it was happening. However after we knew and when you were gone I stopped receiving the scrolls here at the residence. Atribella and I devised a flag signal method to alert people when they could stop by and deliver their messages directly to us. I would have them tell us exactly what they wanted you to know. I have my notes in a separate journal. So far none of those pages have turned red, so I believe it is working. We only had certain types of people come on certain days. Marisu met with the City Council when asked to and Jennevive with the Celestry. I do not have any pressing matters for you that you cannot ignore for another few days. I was surprised by the Queen's missive, I wonder why that did not change colors before you read it?"

Shi'Nynze sat quietly in her chair and listened to the discussion around her. Already full, a half-eaten scone sat on her plate. A bit too dry for her liking, the taste like an note out of tune, and the jam she added too sweet, probably to mask the lacking ripeness of the berries used to make it. The tea was slightly better, but it still was missing the delicate fragrance of morning dew on wild mint or the unfurling leaves of lavender, picked right as the sun crested the horizon. All those subtleties humans had little patience for. This was not her home, she was becoming acutely aware of that, but it was an increasingly interesting place.

Nothing they spoke of at the morning meeting made much sense to her. She at least saw the red scroll in action once to be aware of its importance, but there was still something about a bugbear, another mention of a kidnapping by a dragon, mention of a place called Drillian, and, of course, the upcoming party. If nothing else, Shi knew celebrations. She couldn't wait to see what it was going to be like.

It did not take long in their travels for Shi to realized the group they joined with was no ordinary group, and as time wore on, she was learning exactly how extraordinary they all were. True, she was slightly worried that maybe she was in over her head, but she pushed those thoughts aside. She was out of the Wildlands. She was in a city. There were so many things to see, and do, and experience. And so, while she wasn't exactly a Shadow Guard, she was an elf, and she did what they did best: watch, listen, and try to remain invisible as she soaked it all in. At the rate they were going, she'd quickly have stories to soon rival her grandmother's tales.

Branwyn shook her head sadly. “Things are much clearer now. You have all handled things as well as could be done and I thank you for that. Sometimes I do think it would have been better if I made my own living arrangements to spare you from this aggravation. I am sure you are counting the days until my replacement arrives, Phillipe. Though my replacement might not have my sunny disposition,” she said with a grin.

“I believe the Queen’s missive was given a magical protection by the Royal Mage and so it was immune to any demon influence. I have noticed that I have managed to keep my spell books in tact despite my frequent handling of them. Other non-magical parchments have not been so fortunate. So it seems we have a dozen red scrolls that don’t seem to be changing color. Perhaps they have missed my presence in the household. I think it might be best if we reduce their number. When we have some free time, we should probably go about the business of destroying them or their contents.”

Branwyn poured herself some more tea. “Now back to other important business. In defiance of these cursed scrolls, I would like a red dress for the new year’s celebration. Atribella, can you please bring the dressmaker to the house so we can all be properly outfitted for the party? I am sure Kel and Shi might also like you to take them out to the shops with whoever else would like to go. No sense coming all the way to Dryads Lair and spending all of your time in the manor. Besides,” she said leaning over to Shi, “no one can find the finest goods at the best prices better than Atribella. She is an expert and has been very kind to us considering the number of us in the household and some of our more unusual requests. Marisu, do you have anything to report on the party? Anything you need from any of us?’

“I will be looking into the crystal ball again after lunch, so if anyone I have spoken to with it can tell me if they heard my voice inside their heads or as a regular voice I would appreciate it, or I can experiment in the household as well. Also, perhaps Kel, Shi, or Indigo can try to look into the ball with me. If I can bring up Kenna and they can see in the dark, maybe they can see Kenna while I can’t. I haven’t tried that, but maybe it would work. Other than that, I think I have gone over every issue on my list today. Does anyone have anything else?” she said looking around the room expectantly.

Ilero taps the side of his head. "Hye hear, sound like normal, but t'ink it only in head."

Branwyn smiled happily. "That is exactly how I was hoping it would work. Then the next time I try to contact Kenna I can talk to her and see if she can get to a place where I can see her and maybe where she is."

"And if that doesn't work, I'd be happy to help you see if I can see anything in the darkness," replied Shi, smiling. "I've always wanted to see how such an object works, anyways. It must be fascinating magic. This is for the friend kidnapped by the dragon, yes? After Indigo told us that story about the gnomes and the dragons, Kel reminded me of some of the stories we heard growing up. They have caused some problems for our settlements in the past. You'll certainly want to be prepared for an encounter with a dragon, especially a green one."

Shi was certain she was reminded of those stories to hopefully dissuade her from delaying her return home, but she pushed those thoughts aside as she latched onto something much happier. "And we would love for Atribella to show us around. It is quite a large city. A guide would be wonderful!"

Saving Howard Plum

“PHILLIPE!!” cried Branwyn. As she soon as she felt secure in her footing, she let Howard’s body gently rest near the fountain and recovered his face with the cloak. “PHILLIPE! MARISU!” she called out again. Realizing that the salon might have been a better choice for teleportation given the early hour, Branwyn raced up the stairs and burst into the salon.

As the doors flew open, all eyes in the room turned to meet Branwyn’s. Marisu was sitting at Branwyn’s usual end of the sofa. Phillipe stood holding the dreaded basket of scrolls, while Jennevive sat imperiously in her high backed chair by the fireplace. Johan and Atribella were off to the side waiting for any news or tasks that required their attention.

“So, you’re back, are you? It’s about time. Though I did expect it would be Indigo and Jilly making all the clattering noise and not you. Is everyone else downstairs?” Jennevive asked, recovering first.

All of the losses she had to explain. Anton. Homer. Howard. The losses that she had pushed to the back of her mind in order to keep moving forward suddenly flooded over her and her eyes filled with tears. She shook her head. She took a breath and replied, “No. It’s just me. And Howard. He’s … in the courtyard. He was killed. I brought him back so we can find a priest who can bring him back. By this afternoon, he will have been dead a full day and so there is no time to waste.”

All of them started talking at once. “Please! Please stop. There is much to explain. Yes, much to discuss. And I will tell you absolutely everything. I promise you that. Marisu, I assure you that Ilero and Shur are just fine. The group is currently at Duke Brandish’s hunting cabin and they will be on their way back to the knarr to sail home in short order. But we need to put our energy into arranging for the raising of Howard first. I need you to help me. Who is closest to us here who can do this thing?”

Phillipe took a look at Branwyn and motioned to Atribella. Jennivive watched carefully as Branwyn took the cup from Atribella.

"The Purple family will be distressed about this. I think that it would be best if you were the one who brought back their son. Are you capable of learning Reincarnate? I am certain that the mages guild will be able to provide you with the reading materials to learn it. An apprentice would be grateful for such a thing I am certain."

Branwyn drank some tea and nodded to Atribella gratefully. “Reincarnation is not something that I would be able to learn for years. It is a very advanced spell and much beyond my current capabilities. Besides, I do not believe reincarnation is the best option in any event. I am not so sure that the ... Plum family or Howard himself would appreciate possibly coming back to life as a goblin or a troll.”

She shook her head. “No, I think a simple Raise Dead spell would be the best solution but I need a priest for that. I would think that you would have that capability yourself, Jennevive, but I am not sure you or any Kayugan priest would be willing. Hence my dilemma. Unless you would be willing to do something a little controversial. Now that would be shocking. If not, I’m afraid we are going to have to contact the Greeks.”

Jennevive quirks her head, "I am all about choices for people. You understand that. If you want I will help you speak with him to hear what he wants. But also I think you want to do this no matter that option because you feel responsible for him."

Jennevive let Branwyn take a breath and then stop. After her pause and before Branwyn could speak again Jennivive added, "Of course I will help you with this, but no honest priest will do what you wish. You can do it your self with a bit of help and I will be glad to assist with that. After all the time we have spent together you know that the idea of a random new body would be very intriguing. Perhaps you could force a grand debate on the merits of such reconnecting with a recently departed but deeply loved person."

Jennevive took a sip from her tea and watched Branwyn closely.

Branwyn simply sighed and put her cup down on the sideboard. “Jennevive, my heart weighs most heavily on me today. I do not have time for your games and I do not view Howard’s life as such or as some grand experiment for my or anyone else’s amusement. As far as getting an ‘Honest’ priest? Frankly, I don’t have great concern as to whether a priest is honest or not, just as long as they do what is necessary,” she said, her tone ending quite matter-of-factly.

“However, Jennevive, you do bring up a very good point on one matter and I should appreciate your help speaking with Howard. I will respect what he wants and if he wishes to come back as himself, I would appreciate hearing no more about reincarnation from you. Besides we do need to move his body to the shrine. If we can all come downstairs to the courtyard, we will know what to do next.”

With that, Branwyn turned and headed back downstairs. Johan was first to follow so that he could see if there was anything he could do to help his fellow apprentice. “Thank you, Johan. Help me carry him in.”

By the time the two of them had moved Howard’s body, Marisu, Jennevive, and Phillipe had come downstairs to join them. Branwyn nodded at Jennevive. “Let us see what Howard would like me to do. I wish you to ask him if he would like me to bring him back to us. I know you have limited time to speak, but I want him to know… I want him to know how brave he was and that he was a very talented mage … and most certainly not … Useless,” her voice failed her as the tears came back again. “Tell him.”

(ooc: sorry for not posting sooner, it's been a busy weekend - TMO)

Marisu hurries to catch up. "I'm so sorry Ambassador. Would you like me to contact his family and see what their wishes are? Or wait until after we hear from Howard through Aunt Jennevieve?"

Branwyn laid her hand on Marisu's shoulder. "Thank you. Jennevive should be able to cast now. Let us see what Howard says and then we can go from there. If we do have to contact his family, I would most appreciate your help with that as you would relay such news much better than I ever could."

Jennevive looked at Branwyn carefully. "You have done this sort of thing before. We need to be careful on what we want to ask. Sometimes the dead can be less than direct so we want to make this as clear as possible."

Branwyn grimaced at the thought, remembering now a missed seance she had planned and the results of the previous ones. "We need more than yes or no questions, I will explain later how frustrating that was."

Jennevive nodded, "To be precise then. You want to ask Howard, Do you want to come back to life here? Do you care how Branwyn does it if the answer is yes? And you want to make sure he knows you value his skills and you find him in high regard."

"Should I tell him that last first before asking the questions? Did you have other questions to ask? One that I can think of is asking where is actually is so we can tell his parent's if their son was rewarded by his choices in life."

Branwyn’s jaw dropped a little. “You can ask him that? What comes after? I died and I have no memory of anything after the plague had taken me until the time I was brought back. I thought that was something that the dead aren’t allowed to talk about. It sort of ruins the experience for everyone else if you know what’s coming.”

She then looked at Marisu. “Should we ask that? Can you think of other questions to ask him?”

Looking back at Jennevive though she said, “Definitely tell him how I feel about him first. That I was proud of him and all the rest. And ask him if he wants to come back to life. But do ask him if he wants to come back only if he could come back as himself. Ask if he would want to risk being reincarnated as another race or creature. I need to know that he would accept that risk. For myself, I would rather face my afterlife than come back to this one as an ogre.”

“But everyone keeps talking about his parents. If we bring Howard back, I don’t see that we need disturb his parents with any of this. He is of age and is perfectly capable of making his own decisions. If the spell works. Let’s try not to think about delivering bad news until we absolutely have to. But maybe another question could be to ask if there is anything he would like us to do for him.”

Marisu thinks for a moment. "Can we phrase the second question so he understands the risk that he might come back as non-human? If we just say 'by whatever method possible', he may still assume he would come back as himself. Does that make sense?"

Jennevive closed her eyes and cast a spell over the body. Then her eyes opened and she murmured, 'not useless at all are you'. Jennevie turned to Branwyn, "I am sorry, he is refusing to answer my questions. It happens sometimes and he has the power to resist." She nodded to her self. "What do we do about you now?"

Jennevive took another deep breath. "Very well, so I will have three questions today. Let us see just what the Gods think of Howard."

Stepping up to the altar she lit a stick of incense and circled Howard's body with it. She then held up a bright blue saphire and placed it over Howard's heart.

Intoning clearly, "Is Howard Purple happy where he is?"

Yes he is

Lifting her hand, the saphire was gone. She pulled out a chunk of onyx and placed it on Howard's chest.

"Does Howard Purple want to come back and work with Branwyn the Mysterious again?"

Yes he does

Lifting her empty hand again she pulled out of her pocket and held up a robin egg sized ruby then placed it over Howard's heart.

"Does it matter to Howard Purple what his body is if he comes back?"

He wants to do magic

Jennevive lifted her hand off of Howard's chest, the ruby gone.

Turning to Branwyn, Marisu and the others she said, "You have your answers. What will you do with them?"

Marisu looks at the other two ladies, "I don't know - can he do magic if he's not brought back into his own body?"

“Howard’s soul would transfer to the new body and so yes he would be able to do magic if that body was physically capable of doing what we do to create magic. Like when I became a bugbear, I could still cast my spells. However getting through doorways was a completely different stor …” Branwyn noticed the rapid change of expression that passed over Marisu and Phillipe’s faces. “Oh. We can talk about that later.”

“In any event, thank you, Jennevive. And I see that I owe you some gems,” Branwyn continued. “Howard clearly wants to come back to us. And this reinforces my original thought that we need to raise Howard and not reincarnate him. So we need to find ourselves a priest. And according to Jennevive, we need to find ourselves a less than honest one at that. Would you be willing to do this thing, Jennevive, or do we need to go elsewhere? The only other options I can think of would be to locate a Greek priest in the city or for me to teleport Howard to Loosend. Obviously, if we can keep this activity here at home amongst ourselves, it would be preferable, considering Howard’s family,” Branwyn paused and looked pointedly at Jennevive. “What do you say?”

Marisu stands silent in the background for a moment. "Well, we don't know much about them, so this may be against their beliefs, but we do know a priesthood that owes us at least a little bit, and is rather secretive and aloof. The Temple of Air and Light. If this is something they would be willing to do for us, they'd probably be very good at keeping silent about it."

Jennevive smiled at Branwyn. "For you to owe me a favor of such magnitude? This is why I made Red swear that oath years ago to keep you alive. You are so much more interesting alive than what he wanted to do."

Jennevive leaned over the body of Howard. She placed her hand on his chest and said, "Rise"

{Here we pause till we can make Howard's roll for being raised. That should be done with everyone able to see it happen.}

Marisu's Morning Meetings

21-11-1266 TGR

Phillipe gathered the remaining members of the household together the day after most of the group left upriver. Jennivive took her normal seat. Atribella and Johan stood by Phillipe near the fireplace.

Phillipe did not have his normal basket of scrolls, "Marisu, Good Morning. How would you like to proceed over the next few weeks while the Ambassador is gone?"

Marisu sits in her chair, her hands folded in her lap. She smiles, "Good morning everyone. The house certainly is quieter with everyone gone, isn't it?"

In response to Phillipe's question, she thinks for a moment. "Well, obviously there are some things I can't replace Ambassador Branwyn on. But ideally, by the time she returns, all we'll have left for her is the items that actually require her attention. And by that, I don't mean the ones that claim only the Ambassador must look at it. From my experience, almost everyone thinks their request must be handled personally by the Grand Poobah in charge, when in reality, most of them are best handled by an appropriate Lesser Poobah."

"Let us begin with some of the more mundane smaller requests, so that I can get a good feel for the job, and also so that if I do it wrong, it won't be over something that will start a war."

Phillipe smiles, "If Branwyn has not started a war yet I doubt you will in the time she is gone."

"The key tasks that you could handle for Branwyn while she is gone are attending some of the festivals. Do you feel comfortable representing the Ambassador at the Grand Celestry? There are two events coming up that I had left off of the calendar that I did not think Branwyn would attend."

"Also there is the matter of completing the purchase and delivery of the new Drillian Navy that Branwyn negotiated. The ships will need new names, be rechristened and captains named. If I may make a suggestion, perhaps you could give Captain Indigo a promotion to Admiral? Then he would be in charge of the entire fleet."

Marisu nods her head. "I can certainly handle some festivals, I think. Unless they're the kind where you have to display some sort of superior sorcery."

"As for the ships, completing the purchase and naming should be no issue. Naming captains might be more difficult... what kinds of information do we have about the candidates for me to choose from? I know little about what it takes to be captain a ship. I know Sir Indigo has a naval background of some kind, but I don't know that I've seen him exercise it. Is he truly qualified to be an Admiral of the sort we need here?"

"For Indigo's skills as a sailor or captain I have not seen him do so because I prefer to not go on such adventures as he enjoys. Yet if the Queen has sent him as a Captain he must be qualified. I have sent an urgent message to a person in Rivers Bend for assistance with acquiring captains at Branwyn's request. Perhaps we will hear from them before you need to make a choice. I am not aware that Branwyn was able to look for anyone from the city here but anyone would be a Terraguardian citizen anyway and so Admiral Olana would have taken them as part of his conscripts I would guess. Unless you think there are those who would not want to serve him?"

"I will allow Jennivive to guide you through the festivals, the first is tomorrow."

"The only other normal task that I did not bring this morning is the subject of scrolls. Particularly the red ones. How shall we proceed?"

Marisu nods. "That sounds reasonable. We'll wait for word from Rivers Bend before we start making any decisions upon captains, unless other matters force us to. Without Indigo here, it wouldn't do much good to name him Admiral, and it might be best to get his input before doing so, anyways. Again, if a valid reason comes up that we need an Admiral immediately, we can name him to the post regardless."

She looks over at Aunt Jennivive. "I'll look forward to your advice on the proper etiquette for these festivals and ceremonies, Aunt Jennivive. You've always been very helpful on educating us about local matters. I'd hate to embarrass our kingdom to the big city."

Back to Phillipe, "About the scrolls - do we have a tally of the scrolls that are being replaced by red ribbons, and any idea of how long they last before going back to their original? Except for red ones, I will handle any that you feel I'm capable of responding to. We can read them, I would imagine, and close back up those that are above my level of responsibility and save them for Ambassador Branwyn. Does that sound right?"

Dinner with Admiral Olana on {08-11-1266 TGR}

Admiral Olana pushed back an empty plate and gave his belly a pat. At least they set a good table here. Not quite as good as Dame Colanto’s, but not bad, he thought to himself. He lifted his wine glass and waved it back and forth a few inches above the table until Atribella arrived with the decanter to refill his glass.

Olana nodded and took a large swallow of wine. “Very nice. But I am surprised at the invitation, Ambassador. You haven’t exactly been receptive to any of my proposals, whether it be to assist in this city’s security, or to my offers to provide useful employment for your citizens. So dinner can only mean that you have reconsidered. Or that you want something. And which would that be this evening?”

Branwyn gave a polite little chuckle through gritted teeth. “Can it be something in between? I am sorry if you feel slighted by me, but there are considerations I must take into account while I am positioned here. While I am supportive of having additional security in Dryads Lair, I simply did not feel that interference in the lives of its citizens by my staff would be welcomed and would feel to them like an intrusion. Such things could create quite the opposite effect of what we both want. But perhaps I can offer a possible solution to one of the other difficulties you expressed at the last Council meeting I attended.”

Admiral Olana arched an eyebrow with more than a hint of skepticism. “Pray continue, Ambassador,” he said, reaching for his glass again.

Branwyn put down her glass and folded her hands on the table. “At the last Council meeting, you mentioned that you had patrol boats taking up valuable dock space that were sitting idle. I am prepared to purchase a number of these ships. This would serve to provide me with something I need, and in return would partially alleviate some troubles of yours, as surplus ships would be removed and gold would certainly help with naval recruiting efforts, I am sure.” Branwyn paused to see what the Admiral’s initial reaction would be.

Olana looked at Branwyn carefully.

"You are looking for ships for Drillian's navy. Captain Indigo had expressed an interest in that when you first arrived here in The City. I wonder how you will man the boats if we cannot find the sailors for ours." He takes a sip of his wine. "All the gold in the world will not buy sailors if there are none."

"You really want to purchase ships and boats that will help your Queen? I can sell you four knarrs and twelve keelboats. If you have someone who can sail them you can have all sixteen for thirty thousand gold."

He takes another drink of wine then holds his glass up to be filled again,

"Do tell me how will you sail them back to Drillian?"

Branwyn breathed an inward sigh of relief. She was expecting an outright refusal, insults, laughter or some combination of all three. This she could work with.

Branwyn gave a hint of a smile and said politely, “I will let you know when we have made the proper arrangements. I am quite resourceful when I need to be. We will take four knarrs and four keelboats for 22,000 gold. How soon could we expect to take possession after we have delivered payment?”

Olana shook his head, "The four knarrs and eight keel boats. I have no need for the keel boats if I do not have a larger ship to accompany them. I will settle for 27,000 gold. I am curious how you will sail these. Where will you find your sailors? Why would anyone leave the Royal Navy to work for Drillian? Without men how will you get these ships back there? Do you have some sort of deviant scheme with the necromancer to reanimate all our dead sailors? Drillian must have suffered as many losses as we did."

Regarding Returning to the Forest on {07-11-1266 TGR}

Shurkural and Marisu find Branwyn during one of her rare moments when she's not having to rush around after some emergency or other. Marisu seems oddly nervous, but Shur is gung-ho, although she looks pale and peaked. "Sorry I been out of it. I picked up a bug or something in the snow, I guess. It's got me all worn out. Anyways, do we know when or if we're going back for all the stuff that got left behind? I wouldn't mind going back with you and Indigo and the rest and teach them bugbears a little fear," she says. Marisu nods faintly. "Yes, if I need to go back to .. to help out, I will."

“I am glad that you both got some rest. This has been hard on everyone,” Branwyn said looking at the pair with some concern. “I have been pushing the group to get ready to retrieve our lost items. Perhaps pushing too hard, but I do think it is important. The scrolls are the first priority and I do hope that you may leave as soon as possible to get them at the very least. Atribella, Anton and Hugh are going to get new weapons and armor. I hope they shall be getting you a new bastard sword and another bow set, Shurkural. Not to replace your sword, but to get you through until we find your own.’

Branwyn continued. “The scrolls should be simplest since Jilly buried them and they were not stolen. I think if you travel by water to Northam and then head into the woods, it shall not take long to retrace your steps, get the scrolls, and be done with that portion of it. As for Indigo and I coming along, I do not think this will be possible. I have to be an Ambassador, you know!” she said with a smile. “And we have no idea when Indigo will be back. He has gone home to Gold Hills. He is most likely taking his time, as he has not been home in many years. I believe if we wait for Indigo’s return, our weapons may be lost forever. All that being said, if I cannot persuade the others to take back what has been stolen from us, then I shall go myself with whoever wishes to come along. If this turns out to be the case, then Marisu shall have to act in my stead here at home as she is the only other one of us that is truly from Drillian and can serve Drillian’s interests with the love, loyalty, and knowledge that such a position requires. But I hope it shall not come to that.’

“And yes, by the way, I said, ours. Apparently Anton did not purchase a pick for himself, but took Indigo’s pick with magical properties. So, we have lost almost all of our magic weapons. You know how difficult it is to acquire magical weapons. Indigo received his through adventuring and you received the silvering and magical enhancement from completing a most difficult quest for our Queen,” Branwyn paused. “It worries me. If we want magical weapons to combat the creatures that are only hurt by them, we shall either have to find what was lost, or eagerly and most ardently take on adventuring quests. Magical weapons do not simply fall into people’s laps. They must be earned. In our case ... twice,” she said with a shake of her head.

“What I need all of you to do is come up with a good strategy to locate the weapons. Time is of the essence. As I see it, the best case scenario is that the bugbears that took you liked the weapons and decided to keep them. But bugbears also seem to like bludgeoning weapons best. They may feel they have no use for a sword. I am not sure about the pick. If they sell or trade them, the weapons may travel far. The longer we wait the less chance of ever seeing them again. I have heard early rumblings from the rest of the group, but I am eager to hear what you think.”

Shurkural muses. "Well, I figured I'd just try and track 'em back to their camp and we'd steal everything back, even if we had to kill 'em all first to do it."

Marisu joins in. "Branwyn, do you have the ability to teleport back to where you and Lord Branadarus teleported in to rescue us? We could set up a camp on the outskirts there until you can get enough of us there to start tracing our path back to the bugbear camp where our weapons were kept. You could use your Massmorph spell to change the people into trees until a full squad has been assembled. And if we're willing to spend the time, or the resources to buy Teleport scrolls, we can hire some mercenaries to go with us. Is there a Mass Teleport spell that we might be able to buy on a scroll?"

Branwyn stood there staring at Marisu incredulously, and then she took a deep breath. “I know magic is but a dalliance for you, Marisu, but you would be best served by at least some study. Do you know how powerful a mage you have to be to be able to transport groups in mass? We would have to locate and get such a mage to write such a scroll. And then spend thousands upon thousands of gold to get but one scroll, not to mention two for a return trip. Even simple teleport scrolls would be time consuming and expensive. You don’t just scribble a teleport spell as if you would a shopping list.’

“And then there is the risk. I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but teleportation is not some … not some … rapid transit system. Every teleportation is a risk of death. It took me four trips into places that were not as familiar as the manor to get there and then take you all back. I did this because your lives were at stake. And yes, I would risk my lives for yours any time it is needed. But are you in earnest when you ask me to risk it because you all are too frightened to travel a couple days into the woods for things that you have lost? Hire mercenaries? We are mercenaries. People hire us. We do not hire people to assist us because we are not capable. From everything I have been told, you were but one day into the woods before you were captured and were taken less than a day’s walk to the village. Perhaps you should speak with the others and come up with a reasonable plan. Elsewise, you can all stay home and take up knitting, while Lord Branadarus, myself, and anyone else that isn’t afraid of their own shadow take care of business,”

Branwyn shook her head, not in anger, but in sadness. “You know, all of you had my upmost faith in your abilities. To be honest, I am not sure what to think any more. And I feel like I am repeatedly being put in the position of the reprimanding mother who always has to say no, because I won’t hand over unlimited gold to buy everything that everyone thinks will keep them from any bit of risk or work. A wagon was lost. All the horses paid for on loan were lost. And one of the first suggestions was for me to simply buy everyone more to take out and risk again. This, on top of all the replacement weapons and improved armour. It is all simply assumed that there are no consequences. Things that are lost are simply shrugged off because Branwyn will buy us more. Perhaps the riches that came with this position have spoilt you all. But the reality of it is -- There is no unlimited supply of magic or money that will simply solve our problems. And every time we walk outside our doors there is the risk of death. Death whether you walk from the shore in your travelling clothes or teleport in a suit of plate armour at a cost of thousands of gold pieces. I don’t know what to say any more. Talk to the rest of the group and decide what you are willing and unwilling to do and I will do the rest.”

Marisu's bottom lip drops a bit at Branwyn's rebuke, but she regains her self-control before Branwyn finishes. "I see. I'm sorry, Ambassador, that I've failed you so completely. I was merely trying to come up with a new idea that hadn't yet been mentioned. Obviously, my knowledge of magic and the dangers thereof are not the equal of your own. My magical skills are far below yours, and teleportation hasn't even been mentioned yet. And to correct you, magic is not merely a dalliance for me, I was putting what I thought the needs of the group were and the Queen's mission above my own studies. Apparently that was a mistake in your eyes as well."

She pauses for a moment to put her thoughts into order before continuing. "To explain my ideas about the teleportation, I thought, based on the idea that the magic weapons would have been given to a king or leader, probably at that cave where you rescued us, that it would be simpler and safer to travel directly there, since you already knew the location. Obviously, when you include the apparent danger of teleportation into consideration, that is no longer the case. We'd be safer traveling the long route overland, if Shurkural can successfully retrace our steps in unfamiliar woods over."

She turns to go back to her quarters. "I will go prepare for tomorrow's trip, Ambassador. Thank you again for saving our lives, and being so concerned for us. I'll try not to disappoint you again." She walks off to find Hugh and Atribella to make sure that a rapier and light crossbow and bolts are included in the gear they need to obtain from town before they head out.

Shurkural looks back and forth between the two other women. "So.. ummm... Guess I'll go get my gear ready then, make sure Ilero's all packed up too."

When Marisu returns to her room, she makes sure her door is secured before using a cantrip to muffle the sound of her crying and then to freshen up and remove the evidence that it ever happened.

Dinner Conversations on ??-??-???

Staff Interactions on {01-11-1266 TGR}

Branwyn handed her letter to Master Earwine to Philippe. "This needs to get to Rivers Bend as quickly as possible with enough gold for the recipient to send a message back with similar speed. I will also need an update on our finances. The ships for the Queen must take first priority. It matters not to me if we spend the rest of our days here eating turnips, if it means that we deliver ships to Drillian in time to help Queen Wilamina quash this rebellion back home."

Early Morning Musings After Mistress Waverlyn's Murderer is Revealed on {01-11-1266 TGR}

Branwyn and Lord Branadarus had not discussed the truths that had come to light over dinner the previous evening. She was grateful for that, but knew that long, hard discussions were most likely coming soon. She had hinted to Tiberius that Mistress Waverlyn was not who she seemed to be, but had never told him that the former Drillian Ambassador had tried to instigate a holy war between the Kayugans and the Greeks. And she definitely did not tell him that a spirit of a Greek priestess accused Mistress Waverlyn of murdering her. Branwyn was not sure she would ever reveal that evil deed. It must have come as quite a shock to him. As she lay staring up at the ceiling with Tiberius lightly snoring beside her, she felt fairly certain that he believed that she had no part in such things. But did he understand why she had not spoken of these things earlier? Did he agree with her decision to hold captive the Greek priestess? Once he has fully processed all of this information, he would probably put an end to things, she thought.

Branwyn slipped out from under Lord Branadarus’ arm being careful not to wake him. She rose and put on her dressing gown at the end of the bed. She couldn’t sleep and knew once the day began with the morning meeting she wouldn’t have any time to think things through. And she needed to do just that while everything was still fresh in her mind. Branwyn watched Tiberius sleep for a few moments before leaning down to softly kiss him and then quietly leave the room.

The early morning winter air was bitterly cold as she stepped out into the courtyard, but she welcomed it, took a deep breath and started to replay the night’s events again in her mind.

She could not believe that she almost sent them all away when she heard the ridiculous premise upon which Patron Withorn took the Abbot and her lover into his custody. How does one get so lucky? And why was the Celestry so interested in hunting down Mistress Waverlyn’s murderer? That was a question that did not get answered. Withorn vaguely described Inquisitor Sinthorn who is in league with Father Mortin. If she turned them over to the Celestry would she be playing right into their hands? Perhaps they would use this as justification to start a Crusade no matter what she did. Maybe she should simply let them go free as the Abbott asked. Father Mortin seemed to want a Crusade whether it was on a rampage into the Mist at home or against the Greeks. It seemed not to matter much to him.

“Ohhhh! Stop! I can’t do this,” she cried out loud, running her hands through her hair. “I did the right thing. I did. I did. What choice did I have?” Despite ridiculous rumors, she was not a murderer. She would not … no, could not exact vengeance herself. Another option would be turning the Abbot over to Jennevive and the priests of the Grand Celestry. Branwyn couldn’t do that either. Those priests certainly didn’t need Mistress Waverlyn’s help in despising the Greeks and she didn’t trust any of them to do the right thing for Drillian rather than themselves.

Should she have freed the Abbott and trusted her to tell this priest of Hades that all is well? How does one trust a murderer? The Abbott was ordered to kill and so she hired someone to do the deed. All three involved were assassins in her eyes. But did this Abbott stop a holy war? It seems so. If Mistress Waverlyn wasn’t murdered, Branwyn would be happy and home in Drillian. No one would have known the former Ambassador instigated a crusade. Tristan would have charged off to kill Greeks just like all the other Kayugan zealots. And Branwyn would have stayed far away from all of it. But Waverlyn was killed and Branwyn was sitting in Dryads Lair in the wee hours before dawn trying to do the right thing for a woman she despised and the kingdom she had sworn to serve.

But even with her current course of action, she will have to put her trust in Prince Loplin. Branwyn sincerely hoped that her feelings as to his character were not mistaken, but she supposed she would find out soon enough. And if this works, then she can report that we did what we set out to accomplish. Queen Wilamena can name a true diplomat to replace her and then Branwyn would be finished with all of these dinners and meetings and smiling and bowing.

The cold began to get to her and Branwyn found herself shivering. As she headed back upstairs, she started thinking of all the things she still needed to do before she was replaced. One of which was helping Lord Sam find his parents. Ronwith certainly wasn’t much to go on. She would have to get started on that when she got back from Josclin. And she would have to come up with a reward for the silly Patron Withorn. Branwyn shook her head remembering him waving his hands all over the place trying to bless the wine, wondering how he even ranked a position at the Celestry. He must be some nobleman’s son whose father bought him a place.

Branwyn stopped on the stairs. “Withorn. Ronwith. Same letters. An anagram maybe ? Hmmm … more research,” she murmured and then went back to her room so she could sneak back into bed for an hour or two.

Informal Get Togethers on {24-10-1266 TGR}

Lord Branadarus enters the courtyard of the residence with a large bottle of wine in hand. He pauses and looks around, "Branwyn dear, are you here? Are you still invisible?"

Hearing a voice in the courtyard, Joseph emerged from the stables. He leaned against the doorway with a slight smirk on his face as he watched Lord Branadarus’ eyes darting across the courtyard, apparently looking for something that was clearly not there. He cleared his throat. “Talking to yourself, M’lord? That’s never a good sign. She can’t hear you down here. Mistress Branwyn is up in the salon if that’s what you’re here for.”

Lord Branadarus straightened to his full height and said abruptly. “Thank you. I thought I heard someone in the corridor and assumed it would be Branwyn. I shall go up then. Yes, very well.”

Joseph watched Lord Branadarus go up the stairs to the salon, the smirk not leaving his face.

The doors to the salon were open and Branwyn was pacing about nervously. As she turned to make another lap of the room, she saw Lord Branadarus entering with wine in hand. A large part of her wanted to smile, perhaps even laugh, but she had spent the last hour pacing around the salon thinking that she was going to have to deal with a very angry prince.

“Tiberius! You’re here!” she said, running over and giving him a quick hug. “I’m so sorry for what happened. It was an accident, really. I promise never to do that to you again. Well, unless it’s an emergency. It would be extremely helpful in case of an emergency, don’t you think? Now, that you know of course. And I absolutely didn’t know until I tried it. See, I was experimenting with the crystal balls and it just sort of happened.” Branwyn gestured to the small table where not one, but two crystal balls sat on small stands.

Branadarus keeps Branwyn's hand in his as he walks over to the table. "Two? I know that mages like their magic things but this seems a bit excessive" he says with a twinkle in his eye. Glancing at Branwyn for permission he taps on the right hand one with a fingernail. "So you just say a few words and you can talk to anyone you want? Is it all cloudy like the gypsy fortune tellers?"

"What can you do?"

“They’re not both mine. One is on loan from the Guild. But the one that seems to allow me to talk to people is mine. Who would have thought? We found the crystal ball ages ago while adventuring in Drillian and, well, it’s of no more use than a pretty piece of glass there in all the Mist. I had quite forgotten about it until Howard had brought me one from the Guild to try,” Branwyn started. Seeing what she thought was curiosity rather than anger in Lord Branadarus’ eyes, she continued.

“I wasn’t sure I could use it at all. I mean, really, when you grow up and live in a place where no one can use any form of scrying or divination, why would you bother studying it? But there is magic in me so I hoped that I could get it to work without a specific spell. And it did! It’s funny though. It only seems to work when I think of people. I tried to think of home. That was a ridiculous notion, but I couldn’t help but try. I tried to think of Joyclin, which was the whole point of the experiment, but I could only picture the word. Joyclin means nothing to me and so the ball remained clear.”

Branwyn’s visible excitement at her discoveries grew as she continued to recount her trials. “So, then I thought of Indigo, and I saw him! He was healthy and well and riding along with his caravan. And that’s when we knew that I could get the crystal balls to work and Howard brought up mine from the laboratory. I still thought that if I just concentrated on a place that I have seen that I could make it appear. First, I thought of your dining room, but wasn’t able to see anything. And then, well, I thought of you and there you were out at the Market. Jennevive had suggested that I try to contact someone through the crystal, but I really didn’t think it would work. Which is why of all things, I asked you to bring wine to dinner. But then it appeared you did hear me! But you didn’t know how you were hearing me. So then I was worried of what would happen and what you would think, so I asked you to come here so I could explain. I wasn’t trying to spy on you. I really wasn’t. And I keep giving you reasons to run quickly and far away from me. These are just the kinds of things that happen when I am around. I am not very good simply walking away from new things when they are right in front of me. Are you terribly angry with me?” she asked, looking up at Lord Branadarus.

Branadarus looked down into Branwyn's eyes and smiled. "How could I be mad at you if you want to talk to me so badly that you use magic to make it happen." He leaned down for a long gentle kiss.

Giving Branwyn a chance for a breath, "So who is cooking if you have sent Jilly away to the dark dangerous forests north of the wall? Shall I bring a cook for you?"

"That is a kind offer. Let's see how dinner turns out this evening. I'm sure if we were in dire straits, we would have heard from Atribella. You are very early for dinner, you know. We should probably find something productive to do until then," Branwyn said mischievously, pulling him with her out of the salon and down the hall to her room.

Morning Meeting on 24-10-1266 TGR

A small group gathered in the salon for the morning meeting. Philippe waited for Branwyn to drink some of her tea and ready herself to face what the basket had to offer this morning. “Shall we begin?” he asked.

“Oh why not, Philippe. I do need to see where we are with my calendar before we finish. I am finding myself quite lost as to my schedule. I had asked about setting up a tea with Lord Remorgas as well as Lord Pendergast. Separately, of course. The meeting Lord Remorgas is quite sensitive in nature, and I do not wish our business discussed with other guests or at the dinner table. When are those appointments? Also, I do remember that this mage … umm, Barnabas the Brave I think it was. He was supposed to arrive soon to use the library. Do you know when he is expected?” Branwyn asked, ticking off the nagging thoughts floating around the back of her head.

Hoffman stands guard, at the door, hands on axes, thinking how he tried to make sure there was always an armed guard protecting the Ambassador and wondering for a moment if Fate was talking to him again. He shook it off and considered if he should have brought his club, not knowing what might come from a magical scroll. Miranda had told him somethings could not be killed with his axes, no matter how hard he tried. He smiled thinking of how Miranda looked at him and held his hand. She felt so right, life felt so right with Miranda in his life. Life was so much more worth living, He shook his head and grabbed his axes ready for anything.

Phillipe nodded at Branwyn.

"The mage is here this afternoon to use your library. He will be accompanied by one of your apprentices while he is here. If he gives us a time frame I will tell you later at dinner if he will be here beyond today. Dinner tonight is with Lord Pendergast's son as Lord Pendergast is not in the City at this time. I chose to have Lord Remorgas have to wait till the day after tomorrow's dinner to let him know you were not at his beck and call. When you say sensitive," pauses and looks at the empty space on the couch next to Branwyn, "Does that mean you would like to have your normal guest at dinner tomorrow for the feast? and what about having him at the dinner with Lord Remorgas?"

Also for Master Hoffman, he wanted to have Baron Joytil here for dinner to discuss the residence. Which evening would be appropriate for that?"

“My normal guest? Are you speaking of Lord Branadarus? You are allowed to speak his name, Philippe. He is welcome just about any time he likes. He will be at the feast, and most likely he will arrive for dinner tonight. I just didn’t want anyone else at the tea with Lord Remorgas, except for perhaps Ellenara, since she will be home by then. This was the tea to inform Lord Remorgas that someone wants some harm to come to him. This is the kind of conversation that is best to be had with discretion and some privacy.”

Branwyn turned to Johan and Howard. “If this mage gives you any trouble, be sure and alert me. I would also like to know what the topic is of his research.”

She then turned back to Philippe. “I hope Lord Pendergast’s son is aware of his father’s business and is not a waste of our time. Oh Hoffman,” Branwyn said turning towards him at the door. “You and Miranda might want to be here for that dinner. We are trying to find out more about his request for us to go find the Wand of Magister Penelope the Wonderful, whoever she was. We have to decide if we will accept the quest or reject it, what this wand does and so forth. And you don’t need to stand in the doorway. Come in and sit down with us. Have a scone and some tea. And you can work with Philippe on the dinner for Baron Joytil. Any night that you wish where we don’t have a feast day is fine with me.”

Hoffman suddenly realized he was being talked to and lost his train of thought. "With all due respect Branwyn, I think I am better suited and a better reflection on you if I stand guard. You do not want your guests thinking I am the kind of company you keep. I seem to have an issue talking with even the simplest of locals, no offense Phillippe.

"Master Hoffman, you are the sort of people that Branwyn associates with. I have signed my name to numerous papers stating such things. You are registered as part of her staff and I have signed personally for your permits to carry your weapons around the city. Branwyn paid for Miranda's admission to the Mage Guild. You are much more a part of her household than Anton is and Branwyn has accepted him with few reservations. With everyone off on expeditions now only you and Miranda and Jennevive are here in the residence that came from Drillian with Branwyn."

Glancing back and Branwyn then back to Hoffman, "Who did you want as guests for your dinner with Baron Joytil? I will arrange it as soon as we can."

"You are right Philippe, I know this woman. I was with her early on when she was stabbing at undead and anything else that got in her way. I know how much she misses those day and think she may have brought these demon scrolls on herself just so she has a chance to kill something. Does she give them names? But more important, you proved I am better when I step back as a guard. If this mage we are looking for wanted to cast in the city they would have to register, where would they keep those records?"

Branwyn bit her lip as Hoffman’s words stung and seemed to come out of nowhere. “I always knew that you despised my recklessness and wished that I would be quiet and hide in the face of danger, but I had no idea that your feelings as to my strategy in combat stretched to me personally. If you really hold me in such disdain, I have no idea why you remain in this house. I certainly don’t need a guard, as according to you, I just run around stabbing things. I am sure that I will be fine with my daggers. And if you think for one moment that I brought these demons here on purpose for my own amusement, then it just goes to show that you know nothing about me at all. But, as to your question? Mages register at the Guild. A place that you may not enter. If you would like me to request information at the Guild, feel free to put your request in writing,” Branwyn heaved a heavy sigh and turned to Philippe. “Now, do you have any new scrolls for me this morning?”

Hoffman bows his head "Thank you for proving my point so well as to why I should not be talking to your guests.When someone who knows me as long as you have misunderstood me, how can I expect anyone to understand. I hold no distain for you, only the greatest respect for you living your life on your terms. I am sure you will let me know when you need me." He bows again and leaves the house to wait for Miranda at the apartment.

Discussions About a Ghost

Evening of 22-10-1266 TGR

Meanwhile Hoffman eventually finds Phillipe.

"There you are Phillipe, listen after my travel and a little time off, I wanted to get with the Captain of the Guard, but before seeing him I was hoping you could catch me up with anything notable with regards to his men outside. Any complaints or issues and how much do they know about what has happen in house. Can you catch me up?" he says with a smile.

Phillipe looks up startled at Hoffman. "I did not designate anyone to be captain of the guard. You are the captain I thought you did that when you left to Domvile with Tristan. ::Yawns:: Who did you leave in charge when you went away?"

" Sorry if I was not clear, I'm going to see the Captain of the City Guard, and he supplies the guards just outside the house. Have you had or heard any issue about those guards that I may not be aware?" Hoffman says slowly.

Phillipe shakes his head, "No I have not had any reports from anyone. I have not spoken to the City Guard in a while. The last time he was over to the residence for that Mourning of Megrim dinner. I have been leaving the protection duties in your hands. With all these new missions the ambassador is taking on I have been making sure her paperwork is in order. What can you tell me about the reports of the guards that I can pass along to her?"

Hoffman put his hand on Philipe's shoulder in a comforting motion. "No need, my partner Miranda wants to be more involved with the Ambasador and I need to be more directly involved if I am going to keep her safe. I might try and lessen some of the useless patrols inside and focus more on direct threats. By the way, do you have room on the schedule for me to invite the the Captain of the City guard back to dinner? Would it be presumptuous to invite the former owner of the house for dinner the same night, wasn't that the prince?" ::waits for jaw to drop:: "is that too much?"

Of course I can have the Captain of the City guard attend dinner for you. I will arrange for that to happen tonight. For the former owner of the house of course we cannot invite them..... Phillipe pauses to look at Hoffman closely..... "You are not seriously planning on inviting dead people for dinner are you? Does Branwyn have that ability to make a ghost come and have dinner?"

"If you mean the Baron of Joytil who we are renting the residence from that would take more time to arrange but I can of course accomplish that.