Wherein the young knight's prospects improve as he swears fealty to the earl and is made a bailiff.
While the Earl of Vemion attends the ten days of royal funeral and related ceremonies in Caleme, Sir Arsyn and his companions wait for instructions in Tashal.
Tensions in the city rise amid speculations about the succession. The merchant class seems more and more in support of crowning the Sheriff of Meselyne, while most of the nobles find Sir Maldan's elevation repulsive, but have no clear opposing candidate. It becomes evident that there will be no easy succession as the succession council fails to convene in Caleme as expected after the end of the funeral ceremonies. It is rumoured that the earl of Balim had requested the Archbishop to make a ruling on the validity of the documents presented by Lady Erila Kaphin concerning the legitimacy of the Harabor brothers and Sir Tulath Kaphin and had refused to attend any council with the said parties present until the matter is resolved by the Archbishop.
News of a sharp altercation between the Earls of Balim and Vemion at Caleme over the alleged misbehavior of Balim's vassal, the constable of Kyg, cause alarm in the Caldeth household in Tashal. Pjarri is confronted by the unhappy constable one night at the Spurs. The spiteful constable introduces Pjarri to Terje Harkonsen, an Ivinian much interested in how Pjarri came to possess an axe very similar to the one that Terje's late brother used to carry. A fight or worse is avoided only by the intervention of Haleme's (the innkeeper) goons.
The very next day Earl Declaen returns to Tashal and immediately summons Sir Arsyn. Thanking sir Arsyn for services rendered so far, the earl offers Sir Arsyn a permanent position in his household but demands fealty in return.
After the solemn words of Sir Arsyn, the earl reveals that a couple of years ago he was approached by a prospctor making wild claims about gold on the north shores of lake Tontury. The prospector had not reported his findings to the guild having been thrown out of the guild due to to some felony and was in fact presumed dead for years by everybody who used to know him. Not wanting to cause unnecessary fuss, the earl decided to check whether the prospector was telling the truth. The earl had put Sir Andro in charge of the project.
Since then the prospector's claims had been verified, but due to the uncertainties in the kingdom, the earl decided to wait a bit until reporting the find to the king and the guild. Besides given the location, the mine might even be outside the realm making the question of ownership of the site difficult. Meanwhile, under the desire of gathering more information (and perhaps line the earl's coffers a bit), a small mine was established at the site by the prospector. Sir Andro arranged labour, dealt with nearby Pagaelin and handled transport of the product to Burzyn where the product was exchanged to goods and silver more useful in Kaldor than the rare gold.
Officially Sir Andro acted as bailiff of Uriece manor, which was used as the base for supplying the mine. His primary assistant in the operation and the one actually responsible for the daily operations at the manor was his bastard son Gerrick Asarn.
Given the fate of Sir Andro, the earl is looking for a new bailiff. He also needs to replace Gerrick by somebody more trustworthy. The earl offers this to Sir Arsyn, who has no real chance of refusing the assignment.
The young knight and his retinue set out on their journey to Uriece late morning the next day. Passing the Ternua gate, the party find a drunkard who had been thrown out to a ditch near the gate. To his surprise Sir Arsyn recognizes the poor man as his old acquaintance, Poris. The party load the passed out man on one of their mules before continuing.
Gimri scouting ahead soon discovers that just before them, the constable of Kyg is also journeying to Vemionshire. The party decides to hang back sufficiently to avoid contact. In this they are succesful, but in an unfortunate incident near Ternua, the party preparing to camp for the night encounters an agitated wild pig. Sir Arsyn happy about the discretion grabs a spear and spurs his horse to chase the beast. Due to difficulty in controlling his hackney not used to hunting Sir Arsyn's spear ends up piercing Gimri's hand. The party in need of a physician enter the village where Kyg and his men are residing and thus make their intention to travel to Vemion clear to the constable.
As Gimri is unable to continue on horseback until some healing, the party end up abandoning their horses in Ternua and travel to Nenda by a boat, which is returning upstream after delivering a shipment of wool. While delayed, the party nevertheless reach Uriece through Pendeth without further incident.
At Uriece, the party find a dilapitated wooden manor house with piles of refuse dotting the courtyard. The project to courtyard with a pillar wall has apparently been abandoned already some time ago. The soon to be former master of the house is sleeping despite it being high noon. When he finally arrives he is dismayed by the news, but not particularly surprised. News of his father's disappearance have apparently reached the village. He agrees to assist sir Arsyn in the takeover, but makes sure to mention his close friendship with the earl's son.
In the afternoon, Roul the village reeves comes to meet Sir Arsyn along with some other village folk. In the tour of the fief, the party learns that the village is divided between the regular folk and a small sect of Ilvir-worshippers. While this group is apparently resented by the majority, the two groups keep their distance and there has never been violence over the matter.
Uriece is the location of the relatively little known tree of St Coris, a Laranian holy site. St Coris was one of St. Petryn's companions, a paladin who was killed in an ambush at Uriece. He was buried in haste where he was slain. Later Petryn sent a party to recover his remains for reburial in a more suitable location, but they found that a pear tree had grown on the grave of St Coris and the remains were not moved. Instead a small hermitage was established to tend the tree. The hermitage still exists and now sports a small pear orchard. The pears are used to make cider, which is sometimes claimed to be the source of minor miracles. The bishop of Pagostra reportedly favours the drink and has claimed that its invigorating and refreshing qualities are especially good for the humours during the heat of summer.
Sir Arsyn meets the current occupant of the hermitage, a bitter hunchbacked cleric Toris. The man is obviously not happy with his current position and views the villagers with disdain. Toris resides in the hermitage with a nearly deaf old housekeeper.
Meanwhile Arain is reviewing the books with Gerrick's clerk. Unsurprisingly there is evidence of deceit and the disloyal clerk fingers Gerrick. Arain keeps digging.
The village does not have an inn, but by coincidence two households have signalled fresh batches of ale by placing a freshly cut green bush in front of their houses. So, most of the party spends the evening trying to get to know the locals. Although most remain suspicious of the strangers, some warm up sufficiently for the characters to hear wild speculation about the parties Gerrick keeps sending to the wilderness and somebody had heard in Minarsas that the arrogant Larani priest was sent to Uriece as punishment for some transgression involving a young girl in Tashal.
The next morning, the party is roused by a loud crowd who have gathered in front of the hermitage, demanding the priest to come out. Once there Sir Arsyn learns that in the early morning somebody had ravaged Ollin's daughter, Ollin being one of the half-villeins in the village. While none had actually seen Toris perform the act, he is suspected because of his past to be the villain. Sir Arsyn manages to diffuse the situation by promising to investigate the matter and bringing the culprit to justice whomever it might be.
In the ensuing investigations, Poris, Gimri and Arain establish that the victim, a sixteen-year old youn woman, was assaulted while fetching water. She didn't see the assailant, but he reeked of alcohol. Near the site of the struggle, Poris finds a silver sword of Larani and pieces of broken chain. An interview with Toris seems to make him an unlikely suspect and suspicion is turned to Gerrick who is still sleeping despite it being midday.
Once woken, Gerrick instantly recognizes his silver sword and thus confirms his guilt. When confronted with his crime, he readily admits but claims to have acted within his rights as acting bailiff of the manor. Contradicted, he still shrugs claiming the matter to be of trifling importance, even if a misdemeanor. When sir Arsyn starts talking about the gallows, Gerrick becomes nervous and reminds Sir Arsyn of his friendship with the earl's son.
Faced with a dilemma of possibly angering the earl's son or the villagers and refusing a suggestion to hang Toris to satisfy both, sir Arsyn elects to call Gerrick's bluff. The decision is expedited by Arain pointing out the defrauded funds that must be somewhere in Gerrick's possession. Not wishing to subject him to hanging but hoping to quickly mollify the villagers, Sir Arsyn demands Gerrick to start rectifying the situation by apologizing publicly to Ollin and his daughter and offering compensation.
Back in the village in the midst of Gerrick's humiliation, a gruffy group of travelers with mules enter the scene. Armed and ready for a fight, their leader demands to know what is happening. Gerrick, sensing an opportunity, escapes the party screaming that Sir Arsyn and his companions are nothing but common robbers and highwaymen.
Seeking to resolve the situation without violence, sir Arsyn's attempts at oratory fail miserably. Muga, the leader of the newcomers, is adamant in his demands that sir Arsyn and his companions surrender their weapons to wait until the situation is cleared. Just as Muga orders his men to charge, Arain who had managed to position himself favourably during the confusion steps up and stabs him in the eye. Pjarri's frenzied charge routs the rest, but not before one manages to wound the unfortunate Gimri in the leg.
With Gerrick gone and after tending to Gimri, the party starts the search for Gerrick's stash. The manor house and surrounding buildings are searched from top to bottom. Finally Arain learns from a servant that he had seen Gerrick in nearby woods at an unusual hour. Despite it being late Poris and sir Arsyn take the servant with them to the woods to seek the treasure.
At the manor house Arain and Pjarri are suddenly alerted by the sound of approaching horsemen. Assuming that the approaching party can hardly mean anything good they decide to stay low and hide in the loft of the stables (which is attached to the manor house). Peering through cracks they see half dozen well armed men riding into the court yard. Gerrick is among them, but apparently not of his free will. Arain and Pjarri recognize a couple of the men - they are from the retinue of the constable of Kyg.
The men enter the manor house to search it. Two enter the stables. It is not difficult for Pjarri and Arain to hear through the wall the squeeling of one of the servants after rough treatment and telling that Sir Arsyn left the manor on horseback with the drunkard and one of the servants.
At that time one of the soldiers entering the stables were ascending the ladder to the loft, but was felled by a blow from Pjarri's axe to his face. Dumbstruck his companion has to kneel and touch the face of the fallen man before realizing what had happened. He quickly escapes the stables and bangs the door shut.
After a short while, the leader of the group, introducing himself as Jered comes to parley with Arain and Pjarri. He threatens to burn the house should they not surrender and the men do seem to make some preparations to make this threat true. It seems though that Jered is in no hurry to burn the house. There is also a drizzle making such a plan harder to accomplish.
Pjarri and Arain do hear Jered's men blocking the stable doors and assume him to mean to block them in while ambushing sir Arsyn who is expected to be coming back soon. They start breaking a hole into the roof on the backside of the house. A difficult task to accomplish without too much noise.
Meanwhile sir Arsyn and Poris had been succesful. Despite being cold and wet they are returning in a cheerful mood having recovered Gerrick's treasure. In his mind eye sir Arsyn already sees the destrier he will now be able to afford at the Jedes horse market. Thus they are blissfully unaware of the trap they are walking into.
Arain and Pjarri managed to escape the manor house without alerting the guard Jered left to guard the door of the stables. They discover the ambush site just in time for Arain to be able to shout a warning to Sir Arsyn. Jered, despite now being in less advantageous position as he hoped orders his men to charge. The servant who was with Sir Arsyn and Poris and walking ahead of them is quickly run down, but Poris and sir Arsyn manage to defend themselves.
Sir Arsyn, on horseback, barely manages to control his horse but is able to wheel it around, thwarting Jered's attempt to grab his reins. Riding back and leaving Poris to fend alone for awhile Sir Arsyn turns around to charge. At the same time Pjarri lets out a warcry as he is running at full speed toward Jered's men from their behind.
Jered, seeing the odds turn less favourable, orders his men to lock their shields and withdraw. They had left their horses to graze outside the unfinished palisade and try to back towards there, one of them slipping in the wet grass. Sir Arsyn, trying to attack the small group is having difficulty forcing his horse to do it.
Pjarri is not however similarly hindered and rushes headlong into the shields. Pjarri's first blow hits the shields ineffectually. Jered and one of his companions retaliate one of them missing Pjarri's head by inches as Pjarri is going low to hook his axe to Jered's leg tripping him. Jered does not manage to recover from his fall when the merciless axe falls.
Seeing their leader fall, the rest try to hasten their escape. Sir Arsyn finally manages to get his horse to charge and easily dispatches one of the enemies passing by causing the remaining two to flee in panic. Feeling the adrenaline rush, Sir Arsyn runs one of the fleeing men down before returning to the manor house.
Gerrick and the man left to guard the stables had quietly slipped to the woods during the battle leaving all the horses behind. Thus Sir Arsyn had much to rejoice, for not only had he found the treasure, he had also won decent loot in the form of weapons, three sets of good armor and six horses. His elations were cut short by Arain reminding him that Sir Arsyn could now count on having made the constable of Kyg and Gerrick Asarn, possibly the best friend of the earl's son, implacable foes and that he now had to find a way to defend Uriece against a more contemplated attack while building up a system of supplying the mines and running the clandestine exchange of gold to silver from scratch.
Last edited by PK on Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.