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The Paladin’s Secret - A Play By Forum game of The Burning Wheel


#869

Simon is back on the ship.The smell of smoke and death fills his lungs, he stares down into the eyes of the ships carpenter, the blood flowing from his neck. The man tries to speak, whilst trying to grab the bandage Simon holds firmly in his hands…

Simon reels.

“I need some air.”

He bolts outside.


#870

An old memory resurfaces.
“You killed her.”
“Yes, father.”
“Why?”
“She annoyed me.”
“Do you understand what you did wrong?”
“…Father?”
“Nothing? You feel nothing?”
“You kill people all the time, how is this different?”
“You will not leave this room until you figure out what you did wrong.”
“But she’s… Over there.”
(The door slams shut, a heavy bolt slides into place)

Aulexis’ lily-white skin takes a strange gray cast as the smell assaults her nostrils. She hasn’t smelled this smell in a long time, she had always ensured that bodies were dumped over the side immediately. She doesn’t speak as she retreats, following Simon back up the stairs.

She manages to make it just out the door before she vomits.


#871

As the doors are opened, Warran is hit full force with the scent of death. The reek hangs in the air like a thick fog and he soon notices he is the last one of his party standing in the doorway as Aulexis and Simon flee from the oppressive odor for fresh air.

Warran pauses at first as the force and intensity of the smell just about makes his stomach turn; but, after the initial rush, its power fades and he is able to move forward as he suddenly detects a scent which catches his nose that he has not smelled in a long time.

“Mister Vanderburg, is that fresh Convallaria or essence of Convallaria I detect?” he politely asks.


#872

Kaelin gives the priest a respectful bow. “May I stay for a while? A moment sitting in the peace here may help me order my thoughts.”


#873

“Of course” Father Godwin leaves you in peace, he continues his walk through the graveyard.


“Essence. Look, rubbed into the skin it gives that porcelain effect that is so in vogue these days… That’s why you must be so careful with it, it doesn’t distinguish between living or dead. I hope your friends will be alright.”


#874

Aulexis wipes her mouth with a handkerchief, the revulsion leaving her and some embarrasment is evident on her face.

“I see you’ve no stomach for such smells either.” She addresses Simon. “Mortal corpse-rot is a uniquely foul effluence. Elf flesh does not smell like this, thank the gods. It dries and turns to a fine powder.”


#875

“Aulexis, let us leave this place.”

“Can we return to the officers of the law? There is some information I want from them,”


#876

(( Reminder that Jarek can appear back any time he wants today if he decided to give the messenger the slip ))


#877

"You have my support. I’ll leave a note for Warran. I’d also like to see if we can get some information from Diana’s neighbors.


#878

“That works with my ideas as well. I think a revisit to the house and neighbourhood would be a good next step after my questions.”


#879

Warran rather pensively nods in agreement, “Very true, if I am not mistaken there are a great number of items you use in your trade which must be handled with care. I remember being told several times some of the negative effects certain substances can have on the living skin by a friend of mine. She was very fond of Convallaria…” his voice trails off as he is distracted by the smell of the plant and a distant memory.

He quickly recovers from the distraction, smiles, and responds, “Oh, they should be fine. Perhaps it was something they ate which was not agreeing with them… Anyway, may I examine the body and can you point out the areas associated with her death? I do not want to keep you much longer as you have work to do.”


#880

As the first birds begin to chirp, Jarek quietly swings down from the tree. He takes off back towards the city keeping slightly off the road, but within sight of it. Slightly unnerved by the pulse from the cube, he regrets spending his time at Fyrestpool serenading the workers instead of having Aulexis teach him how to use the knife she gave him.

What was I thinking? Following the messenger and giving him footrubs?! That’s the foulest stench I’ve ever smelled. I bet it’s the foulest stench any of them had ever smelled.


#881

He walks you through everything that he told you earlier, and what he’s done to preserve the body prior to embalming which might account for some discrepancies in what he’s told you and what you can see. It takes the rest of the day, he’s a very painstaking man who relishes detail.


The messenger rolls over in his sleep “Thought as much” he mumbles to himself.


#882

Kaelin will seat myself by the linden tree and let his mind settle in try and make sense of the things they have discovered so far. He listens to the bird song and watches the surrounding area, letting his mind wander and pick over the things that don’t feel right about this situation.

This isolated plot away from the other graves seems odd. Although he was distracted by learning from the guide at the time, Kaelin vaguely remembers Diana from the caravan journey through the Silent Forest. She held herself aloof from those who walked on foot, which felt like a typical separation based on class. Yet she has planned a simple grave away from her peers. Is this something purely associated with the cost, or something more?

He wonders whether the timing of the death was coincided with the election, a time when the watch do not have the resources to investigate thoroughly and would be likely to settle on the first sensible narrative. A good way to hide something, although possibly just a coincidence.

Kaelin also picks over whether to tell his companions about the priest knowing more than he is willing to reveal. He respects the Father’s position, and there isn’t much to gain other than creating a lot more tension if the issue is forced. Perhaps he will mention it as a last resort – he’s not certain enough of how his fellows may react to the priest’s refusal, particularly Aulexis. She’s not likely to take being told ‘no’ especially well.

Perhaps they should try and find Archibald? He might be able to shed a bit more light on recent events around the town, and he seemed to know Diana a little.


#883

As Jarek makes his way back to the city, he feels embarrassed that he will return to his companions empty handed. He mentally reviews the route that they took before leaving the city and resolves to investigate the other houses that he visited with the messenger.


#884

Warran will take notes on what the undertaker says. He will take special notice of the bruising around the neck and will ask the undertaker to describe the differences between bruises to skin while living versus after one has passed on. He will also ask if it could be possible the Lady was drugged when murdered or if there is any evidence which could be looked for in such a circumstance since she did not struggle when she was murdered. In line with this questioning, he will ask as a subject of academic hypothetical possibility, what to look for if she was poisoned and then strangled with the rope to hide the true nature of the crime. Warran encourages the attention to detail and approaches all of the inquires with an air of seeking knowledge and genuine interest.

Much of what is being told to him sounds familiar to the crafts of herbalism and alchemy to a certain degree. Subjects which he found interesting, but ultimately did not have time to study much on. As such, he makes sure to jot down notes.


#885

“There are a great many kind of drugs which might render someone defenceless to this kind of crime, and most of them could not be detected here. If she was drugged, there are no bruises around the mouth, no defence marks and no needle marks. She took it willingly or it was snuck into her food or drink or it was some sort of sorcery. Your best bet to finding out lies not here in the body, though some fellows do hypothesise that the humours would continue to carry substances, I’m afraid I would consider the tasting of her vital liquids to be cannibalism, and cannot allow it. No, you would need to examine the scene.”

“Look here though at the angle of the broken cartilage in the neck compared to the bruise, the ligament was pulled directly towards the centre of the neck, difficult if she was not upright and holding herself properly. The head often lolls around under the influence… I see from your sclera that you are no stranger to alcohol, so you know. This would cause strange shapes in the bruises that are not present. If a drug, or sorcery were used, it would not cause collapse, but rigidity, that narrows it down somewhat. Unless your attacker were forensically aware, and has staged the scene with this knowledge in mind, in which case all bets are off. Your prime suspect in this instance would be me, and then you couldn’t trust a word I’ve been telling you.”

He gives you a broad wink, amused at his own humour.


#886

Warran chuckles at the notion.

Before leaving, Warran inquires if there are any unique marks on the body which can be used to identify her (tattoos, old wounds, etc.), he also asks if and when her son will be notified of her death, and finally he looks at her face one more time to see if it is the same lady who was pointed out to them by Archibald as Diana.


#887

Identification will have taken place before a person is brought here, we are not a municipal facility, only our clients may come here. Ergo, once I have a client in their final care, someone must know who they are and been instructed to bring them to me.

As I told you earlier, I will contact the Lady’s son only when a funeral date has been set, which I can’t do until the enbalming is complete, which I can’t know how long until I have started. It is not my job to initially inform relatives, but yours. Usually you would do this through her legal advocate, the same who informed you that she was my client.


#888

(Whoops, I do not think I typed that the best/ they way I intended… Oh well!)

Once Warran has what he thinks he needs, he thanks Mister Vanderburg for his time and leaves the funeral parlor.