“On second thought, Gallino,” you say, “perhaps I will attend you to the caravan and accept that offer of help.”
The Caravan master nods and leads the way down the hall, away from the woman. You feel her watching you. After you have left her line of sight and are well beyond hearing, you ask, “Gallino, your father has hired a lot of men for one caravan, so I was wondering. Do you deal with attacks fairly often?”
“There were problems a while back, when the battles for the throne started, but lately it’s been pretty quite.”
“Then why was he hiring just yesterday?”
The man sighs. “There was a minor incident about a fortnight ago. A traitor tried to make away with the wagon, but all the goods were recovered. I assured my father that such will not happen again, but he tends to worry regardless.”
“He might be right to worry,” you say somberly. “I would keep your men alert.”
Gallino stops short. “Have you news of danger? From who?” The question was sharp and angry. If the last incident was betrayal, he may be growing tired of it. Can’t say you blame him.
“Let us leave it at anonymous for now. I’m not the sort of making any accusations without proof.”
Studying you, he says nothing for a moment, then rubs his jaw. “Fair enough – for now. I will heed your warnings and take all needful steps to ensure the caravan’s safety. However, if we can defend against any problems, perhaps it might be better not to involve my father.
“What?” You stare at him.
He raises an open hand. “As I said, he does tend to overreact, and at his age, such excitement can be detrimental. He has entrusted the caravan to me. Knowing that the attack is likely, I can quickly take capture and question anyone suspicious. I may be able to secure the proof you wish far easier than you would here.”
“Must admit a similar plan crossed my mind, but I am not sure about witholding this sort of information from Galen.”
Gallino shrugs and laughs. “I admire your loyalty. Do as you must, but it was worth a thought, no? Now let us see about that wood and your helper.”
The caravan was already gathering in the main courtyard with several men shouting orders. Gallino directs you to a supply of wood near the wagon. “Choose what you wish for your work today, at least until you can speak with my father about more. I will go find Malor.”
Carefully, you select a sturdy beam for the main door and a few smaller pieces to mend some of the window latches with, at least until metal ones can be commissioned. By then, Gallino returns with a thin, older man. He is mostly bald and has a large nose over a scruffy beard.
“This is Malor – he has managed countless repairs while on the road, so I can vouch for his skill.”
“Well then, Malor,” you say, “if you would grab that end of the beam, we can get to work and get out of the way of the caravan’s departure.”
“Aye, sir.” The man hefts the beam onto his shoulder without too much strain and you both head for the main door. Malor is indeed a hard worker, with a steady hand for tools. Switching out the rotted beam takes far shorter than you expected. The man also loves to talk, mostly about traveling with the caravan and the girls he’s met. You let him talk only half listening until he starts talking about mutual acquaintances.
“Grislla is a sweet maid, the mistress Selyna’s own chambermaid she is, but that miserable woman works her to hard. Has her delivering notes and secret messages, in the middle of the night sometimes.”
“Messages?” you ask. “Any idea who to?”
“Some to her brother, Natin, which isn’t too bad, but some are to some rich lover she has in the city. Poor Grislla has to walk to some tavern a mile’s walk from here.”
“Does the man meet her? Could she give his name or describe him?”
Malor shakes his head. “Gives it to the tavern owner there. Selyna’s too crafty to let anyone know the name. Don’t want it to get back to her old man, see. Probably ‘cuz she knows the old man’ll be furious, especially after the scandal three winters back.”
“Aye.” The man scowls. “That runt, Natin tried to steal Gallino’s own betrothed, he did. When the girl refused him, the whole thing fell apart and the she disappeared. Some thought she’d run home until they found her body. The whole household was a shoutin’ for days until the old man paid off a bunch of folks and forbade anyone from talking about it. Though any fool can guess what happened, Selyna sided with the runt and has hated Gallino ever since. She’ll lie about anything to get her way and say just about anything to make her and that runt look good.”
You mull over the words as Malor rattles on to a new girl. So, sibling rivalry. You’ve seen betrayal for less, so it’s definitely an optional motive. People tend to see what they want to see so she may honestly believe Gallino the guilty one and Natin beyond such crimes. Then there is also the mysterious lover. You’ve seen plenty of even innocent girls sweet-talked into crime by a man they think loves them.
After you help Malor do the first window latch, you are confident he can continue on his own. It’s still only mid morning so you decide you had better get a few hours of sleep while you can.
In the quiet of your little bedchamber, you stretch out on the straw-stuffed mattress and fall fast asleep.
However, you couldn’t have slept much more than an hour when a knock comes at the door.
“I must speak with you.” Even muffled by the door Selyna’s voice is easy to recognize.
Your weary muscles resist rising and you groan, but go to the door. You find Selyna in the hallway, head bowed and hands gripping her skirt. “I – I came to apologize,” she stammers. “About last night.”
Well, she’s not exactly the picture of penitence, though she’s certainly trying, but she’s far too tense.
“Um, can we talk in your room?” She glances around the hallway.
You sigh but let her in.
She peers around nervously, her gaze snagging on your sword and belongings.
Realizing that you left out the one book you had saved from the monastery, you quickly move to block her view. “What is it you need to say to me?”
“You were with Gallino. What did he tell you? I need to know.”
Choose how to proceed:
“We talked about keeping the caravan safe.” Perhaps a cold splash of reality will scare her into confessing.
“Nothing important.” Lie and play the nice guy. She’s tense and worried about something, maybe if she thinks you’re a friend she’ll slip up.
Voting is Closed.
For those who missed the rules for this game check them out here!
And to see how this adventure began, see Renegade Project #1