As the knights put on their helmets and gathered ready for the tournament, Caitlin leaned close to Corvala. "Would I have been able to take part?" she asked. Corvala blinked, for her friend didn't look like a warrior woman in her dress. "I expect so," she said, "but it's a bit late now."
She was right. The first joust was already underway, with Arenlor and Venlor thundering towards each other, their mastery of the knightly skills evident in their rock-solid seats on their pounding horses, their steadily-levelled lances aimed at exactly the same space on each others' shields for the correct strike. As they converged, something caught Yoshin's eye - Velran moved his fingers and muttered under his breath. No-one more than a few feet away would have noticed anything, and only a skilled mage like Yoshin would have recognized it, but the knight had just cast a Mage Hand spell. Suspecting possible foul play, Yoshin affected to stumble into Velran, feigning sudden sickness. The knight stepped carefully a little away, commenting caustically that he'd thought elves were supposed to be deft and graceful. Yoshin followed up with a surreptitious Sleep spell, but Velran didn't even notice the effects.
A few moments later, Krizzen appeared next to Yoshin, nodding absently at Velran as the knight glanced at him, then looking down on Yoshin with raised eyebrows. Yoshin muttered his suspicions quietly as the two knights converged again, and once more, something seemed to distract Arenlor at the critical instant, and Venlor scored a resounding hit on his shield to take the first heat amid cheers and a hearty clap on the back from his opponent.
There was a brief break while the pair retired from the field, and then Dorosend and Shellonk took the field for their heat. The first two passes were so closely contested that there was no judging between them; both splintered their lances in fine chivalric fashion against the shield of the other while retaining their seats. On the final pass, however, experience told and the older knight took the better angle by a fraction, and Sir Dorosend was hurled from his saddle to tumble across the greensward. Rueful but unharmed, he sat on the grass for a few minutes to regain his breath, and then left the arena to considerable cheers. He'd acquitted himself most honourably in his first serious tourney, as Corvala was not slow to point out to Caitlin in considerable detail.
Yoshin rubbed his chin in thought. Velran hadn't stirred during the last three tilts, and the sorcerer was beginning to think that his malice was restricted to Arenlor himself.
With Venlor and Shellonk set to compete for the prize, it remained for Arenlor and Dorosend to joust again for third and fourth place. The crowd settled down again, interest in this contest just as keen as it was on the winners'. Yoshin stood, irresolute; he suspected Velran of affecting the outcome, but he wasn't sure, and he didn't want to make a mistake. As he hesitated, his moment was lost. Dorosend and Arenlor spurred their horses across the field, and the knight flicked his fingers. This time there was no doubt - both Krizzen and Yoshin saw it. A small stone, no bigger than two thumbs, lifted from the ground and dashed within an inch of Arenlor's horse's eye. The beast shied, shifting Arenlor so that instead of his shield, the edge of his breastplate was under the oncoming point of Dorosend's lance. The blunted tip struck home and instead of skating off, stopped dead on the vulnerable joint. In a shower of splinters the lance exploded and Arenlor was flung from his horse, his breastplate flapping, to tumble across the grass and sprawl motionless near the tilt fence.
Unaware of the seriousness of the mischance, the audience began to cheer, but fell silent as their liege lay unmoving. As Yoshin and Krizzen began to run, the screams started....
Converging from different directions, Yoshin, Krizzen, Caitlin and Dorosend gathered around the felled nobleman, Yoshin holding slightly back. Dorosend was as pale as a ghost with shock, almost in tears at his unintentional wounding of his liege lord and prospective father-in-law, and directed his varlets to turn the unconcious man over. As he rolled onto his back, gasps went up - his entire chest was crushed, and blood poured from the joints of his armour. Dorosend and his men began unceremoniously cutting the straps of the armour to get it off Arenlor, as Krizzen spread his arms. "Stand back - I'm a priest!" he declared, and his confident tones backed by his seven-foot height assured him of co-operation.
Despite his confidence, Krizzen's healing magic was only fairly basic, but with a massive scaled thumb jammed into the spouting artery he was able to stabilize Arenlor. Caitlin passed him what healing potions she had to hand. A cart was wheeled up under Corvala's supervision, and with enormous care the injured man was lifted into the bed. Ratbag the cat sprang up next to him and sat down out of the way, attracting no attention for the moment as the cart was trundled gently towards Arenlor's manor house. Glancing around, Krizzen realized with little surprise that Velran was gone.
As it disappeard towards the village, Krizzen sought out Arenlor's steward, a neat and efficient man named Vincent. Currently almost overwhelmed by anxious enquires about Arenlor's health, he had little time for Krizzen, but directed him to Irimar, captain of the town guard. Unable to find him in the chaos, the lizardman managed to get Corvala's attention and explain his suspicions. The lady was understandably distracted but agreed to speak again with him after her father was settled.
With Krizzen parked in a corner of the entrance hall, with a burly man-at-arms leaning against an opposite wall to keep an eye on him, Yoshin - for whom Caitlin had vouched assisted with the care of the stricken Arenlor, quietly casting a Mage Armour on him in case any attempt was made to finish him off in his sick-bed. Satisfied that all was under control, Caitlin headed for the door, passing Krizzen on the way. "Where are you off to?" asked the lizardman. "Get the staff," saif Caitlin briefly. Krizzen nodded. "Watch your step," he cautioned, "get a weapon, and if you're attacked - scream loudly!" Once outside the building, Caitlin looked quickly left and right before hiking up her elegant skirts and setting off at a sprint for their inn, where Krizzen's healing staff had been left.
The whole village was astir like a kicked ants' nest. People swirled and crowded, discussing the event in a hundred different clusters of rumour and opinion. Twice Caitlin was recognized as one of the people of quality from the grandstand and questioned as to the Lord's health, losing precious moments as she reassured them that he was being cared for, but that she had urgent business.
Caitlin skidded into the tavern and bounded up the stairs to Krizzen's room. The staff was right where her friend had left it, standing in the corner like a battered walking-stick. Grabbing it, she loped down the hall for her own sumptuous room, where she hesitated a moment over ideas of concealed weapons before scooping up her trusty rapier and settling its' belt around her hips. As she did so, her keen ears picked up the sound of hasty movement through the wall, and she realized she was hearing the sound of Velran hastily packing in the best room next door. For a long moment she paused, tempted by the idea of apprehending the miscreant knight, but Krizzen's words and her own unmartial dress inclined her to caution. Slipping quietly out of the room, she headed back towards Arenlor's house.
On arrival, she delivered it to Yoshin - who, even more paranoid than usual, checked it for magical tampering - and prevailed on Corvala to allow Krizzen in so that the priest could use the staff to heal the lord. Uttering a quick prayer to the Scales of Steel, Krizzen lifted the staff and gently touched it to Arenlor's shattered chest once, twice and a third time. As he lifted it, the shattered ribs lifted back into position and the knight began to breathe more normally. His eyes flickered open, and fastened on Dorosend as he smiled faintly. "By Pelor," he whispered, "that was shrewdly struck, Sir knight," he murmured, and slipped back into ordinary, healing sleep.
Quietly, Corvala ushered everyone out of the room, glancing at Caitlin when Yoshin left Ratbag on the knight's bed. Caitlin nodded - the cat would keep an eye on things - and the door closed quietly as the bad-tempered little cat settled down to watch over the wounded human. Once into the drawing room opposite, Corvala, now very teary-eyed, hugged each of the party in gratitude, and then settled down into an impromptu council of war. Aside from the companions, the three knights Shellonk, Voror and a very relieved Dorosend were present, as well as Irimar the captain of the town guard.
The three adventurers related their tale again, adding their suspicions that there was very foul and distinctly dishonourable play here. Yoshin was selected for this task, and for a moment his nerve failed him at having to present in front of this many people. Help! he thought to himself, I'm trapped in a room with six monkeys and a lizard! Krizzen managed to calm him down and the story was unfolded. As he finished, Corvala looked troubled.
"He's my father's cousin," she said, "his nearest male relative." Yoshin's eyebrows rose. "That may explain why he was concentrating on your father," he said. "Are we sure it was him," asked Caitlin, "not someone pretending to be him?" Corvala described Velran and the three nodded; it was the same man. "What happens if your father dies?" asked Krizzen. "Velran inherits," said Corvala grimly, "as I am unmarried." Sir Dorosend twitched, and his hand stole subconciously to his sword hilt. "It would be a logical next move to marry you and cement the succession, then," said Caitlin, and Corvala shuddered at the idea. Dorosend's knuckles whitened on his sword.
Caitlin sprang to her feet. "I'm going back to the inn," she said, "I want to check a few things," and she left at a dash. Corvala stared after her. "She's a bit weird," said Krizzen reassuringly, "but she has a good heart."
Back at the inn, Caitlin cautiously checked the rooms Velran had occupied, finding them deserted and empty of his possessions. As she left the room, she bumped into a maid, and had to do a bit of very fast talking to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Descending to the bar, she spoke to Corvel the innkeeper. "Have you seen Sir Velran?" she asked. The man's honest brows knitted. "No, m'lady, not since the joust. Shall I send someone to find him for you?" Caitlin nodded. "Send two," she said, "and make sure they're armed!" before dashing out again, leaving the innkeeper scratching his head.
Session Date: 17th Nov 2013