(514-08-03) The Very Unwary Secretary
Summary: The Unwary Lord Secretary calls forth four ladies to help discover what happened to missing funds, believing they wouldn't actually discover what happened to them!
Date: August 3, 514
Related: None
eirian gwynaelle heulwen lysanor 

It is known that Lady Esyte, wife to Earl Robert, is pregnant. Perhaps very near to giving birth, some midwives and gossippers say and her cravings have become more and more bizarre the bigger she gets. What is not quite known is that there are funds set aside by the Lady in Waiting to ensure that her every desire is covered financially but as of late, it appears that much of this money has somehow vanished. Well, not vanished, but foul play is definitely suspected.

So the Steward, a very shrewd and calculating man, has sent summons for four Ladies of the Vassal houses that are somewhat known, either for their belonging to a manor that has been noticed for their service record (such as the Dintons), or for their positions within the good Earl's court. Discretion, of course, was begged of the Ladies. And knights would be too loud, too indiscreet, to really be of use in this situation.

Their first task: to meet with a secretary, one Isidore, about this particular turn of events.

And so our heroines find themselves in the Steward's office, where a man in his forties, with squinty eyes and an overlong nose, awaits for them. "Come in, my Ladies, come in," he speaks, in a voice that is far more grating than could ever be pleasant.

Having receieved the summons while in Sarum to seek just the right cloth for a new dress, Gwynaelle made her way to the castle to meet with the secretary at the appointed time. No doubt, there's an air of curiosity about the young Idmiston lady, one perhaps shared with those others she soon finds herself in company with. Nods are given to each, though soon her attention turns to Isidore as he speaks to them all, waiting to find out why exactly they've been called together.

Responding to the somewhat mysterious summons, both Lysanor and Heulwen have made their way through Sarum to the steward's office, talking all the while. "Mother said a summer wedding would be best for spring children, but father said he couldn't possibly arrange the dowry until autumn," Heulwen murmurs to her red-haired cousin, Lysanor, with whose arm hers is currently linked. Her dark head tilts toward the fairer, and she offers the other Dinton lady a tremulous smile. "It doesn't matter to me either way, I suppose." She opens her mouth as if to speak again but is interrupted as the small group is ushered into the room and greeted by the Steward. Wen glances to her cousin, eyebrows arched, and then offers Isidore a brief curtsey after entering.

It takes a thief to know a thief, some might say. Surely that is the reason the daughter of a somewhat maligned house is called to this soiree. Though by the same token she constitutes a figure of considerable discretion. Eirian certainly does not qualify for the gasping beauty or the modest midwife in the corner from this lot. Nonetheless, she steps into the secretary's office after the rest and bends a shallow curtsey to those present. Her dark, lightspun cloak conceals her to the ankles, rippling at the subtle encouragement of her motions. Her arrival is timed almost exquisitely to be early but not too early, and she throws her hood back, giving a slight nod to Isidore. "My thanks for the consideration. If there is aught I might do, I am eager to hear of it."

It has come as some surprise when Lysanor realizes that she had received the same summons as did her cousin, Heulwen. Having only heard a tiny bit about the situation at hand, the pair had much to ponder about on their way to Sarum Castle. Of course, there is some discussion regarding the matter, curious as they both may be, but they do refrain from inquiring further until they finally reach the castle. Much of the discussion has been focused on their betrothals and upcoming weddings andt he like. Eventually, they do join up with the other ladies who were also chosen to lend their aid. A gentle smile is passed along to the other women whom she comes across, gracing the group with a formal curtsey, she too steps forward to finally gain a better grasp of what they have been. "We came as soon as we heard," She speaks of herself and her cousin, "What may we be in assistance with this day?"

Looking more closely, Isidore appears as though he hasn't slept for a few days; his eyes have that reddish tint in them, and huge shadows linger under his eyes, the result of either nights ill-slept or no sleep whatsoever. He leaves the door open for them, before a guard has the office closed to the public. Quick on his feet, this ratty individual opens a door that leads them into the office's chambers proper, rather than the antechamber they have been welcomed to.

The smell inside is, as one would presume, of aged paper and ink, perhaps with a small whiff of dust to accompany such a typical office. Thankfully it is near noon, or else they would have to contend with candlelight, which might make working conditions in the office a little less hospitable. Nevertheless, he ushers them in with a series of entreating hand gestures towards the office, where upon a large desk sits a small pile of papers, likely transaction records as well as the part of the ledger that corresponds to Lady Esyte's discretionary funds. "I tried looking over these papers but I couldn't find anything at all that explains why the treasury is missing so many Librum," Isidore complains, closing the door after them.

Gwynaelle steps within the anteroom, her skirts to rustle after her as she leaves enough room for the others, though as Isidore continues on within, the guard to close the door behind them to the hallway, her feet soon follow after the secretary into the office beyond. Curiously does her gaze sweep the room, nose to wrinkle but a little at the scent and dust that hangs in the hair. Spying ledger and papers upon the desk, she steps closer, to peer at them before her her head tilts to consider the man's words, "Would someone have perhaps taken them out without writing them down?" No, she wouldn't say the Countess, but hinting that it could have been an accident or oversight? Just to be certain.

Right to business, it seems. Heulwen blinks once at Isidore owlishly, having only just stepped into the room. Her gaze falls to the desk, but she does not hurry forward to peer at the ledgers just yet. Instead, she hangs back to allow the others to look should they so choose, and instead she studies the Steward himself. "The treasury is missing money?" she murmurs, pursing her lips in thought and then tipping her head toward Gwynaelle. "Perhaps so, but I doubt that the money is simply sitting around waiting to be pocketed by a random opportunist. Who else has access, Lord Secretary?"

Without helping herself to the pile of ledgers, Eirian slants a discreet look beneath her dark lashes. "There could only be a select number of people aware of its existence. One does not widely advertise the availability of such funds, do they?" The soft tint of her voice colours the same assumption as Heulwen concludes about the same time. She raises those winter bright eyes upon Isidore, measuring his reactions to the questions as her own easy posture straightens a fraction. Her smile fades away after a moment. "Is there anyone which the Countess relied upon to make her deliveries?"

With a curious wonder within her wide eyes, Lysanor trails alongside the others as they quietly move from one room to the next. The state of disarry within the antechamber does come as some surprise, but clearly someone has spent hours or even days here looking over all of this. Though she is tempted to take one of the ledges up to scan quietly, she refrains from doing so just yet, allowing her eyes to sweep over a few within range just as she hears the inquiries and discussion between her cousin and Gwynaelle. "I'm afraid that if you had looked through these various ledgers and documents and have yet to find something of note, then if the treasury is short, well, either something was not documented or.." Embezzlement is at the tip of her tongue, but she is sure that this very well may be on the man's mind at the moment.

To Gwynaelle, Isidore pales at the mere thought of someone taking money from the treasury without writing them down, "If such a thing was possible, my Lady, the Steward would have had my hide before the day was done. No, every single withdrawal from the coffers must be transcribed in duplicate to our records."

Heulwen's question has him pensive for a moment, pacing back and forth like a rat in a cage. "The Steward, myself, the Lady in Waiting and my colleagues. Granted, I wouldn't put it past them to be so inept as to," but realizing he was, perhaps, going on a tangent, he falls silent afterwards.

The Burcombe lady, Eirian's, questions draw some pause from him. "I think that would be possible, my Lady, that the Lady in Waiting counted on someone's discretion to make deliveries."

Lysanor's remark is completed in the secretary's head and he takes in a deep breath to keep himself from going into a nervous fit of stuttering, "P-please, do look them over and see if you can find anything."

<OOC> Galahad says, "To investigate the papers, you can check awareness for a +5 bonus to a stewardship roll!"
Heulwen checked her awareness of 5, she rolled 7.
Gwynaelle check your awareness at 10, you rolled 5.
Lysanor checked her awareness of 9, she rolled 15.
Gwynaelle check your stewardship at 15, you rolled 11.
Heulwen checked her stewardship of 10, she rolled 13.
Lysanor checked her stewardship of 15, she rolled 7.
Eirian checked her awareness of 10, she rolled 13.
Eirian checked her Stewardship of 5, she rolled 11.

Gwynaelle steps forwards, and begins to look through the papers and ledgers. She shares them with the other ladies, passing them on to the next who might wish to take a look as well. Careful note is taken of entries, even going back to see if there's any subtle shifts in numbers to be found anywhere's to account for what's missing.

Galahad pages Lysanor and Gwynaelle: You find out there are a series of … intriguing names on the sheet of paper. There is a large sum being sent to one Sir Caron de Haxton, but that doesn't seem too inconspicuous, on its face. More troublesome, however, is the enormous quantity one Drystan of Sarum is receiving. Considering his name, perhaps he lives in the city.

It's going to take Heulwen longer than a mere glance to note anything of import with the ledgers, but for the sake of formality she accepts the papers passed by Gwynalle, gives them a once-over, and passes them along to Eirian and Lysanor. "Have you questioned everyone else who could potentially be involved, Lord Secretary?"

"Then I would surmise talking to the lady-in-waiting might render a few answers, for she might provide possible contacts for those deliveries. Did she pay the merchants directly out of the Countess' purse or was there a go-between who made those payments?" Eirian raises her fingertips lightly to her throat, allowing the others to review the papers at their leisure. She holds very little rush about doing so, instead pondering varied possibilities aloud in a soft, controlled voice. "I am uncertain whether Her Grace directed the merchants to put a request directly of the treasurer's office or another arrangement was made. An entire possibility this thought goes in the wrong direction, though you could possibly have someone availing themselves of the funds during the process of Her Grace making a request and their delivery being had."

Isidore is prompt to answer Heulwen, after a moment of nervous fiddling with his hands. "I have not, but I can write you a list of everyone who has made transactions with this fund for the past fortnight or so."

Well, isn't this quite the task! Lysanor hovers over the table, turning a keen eye on one ledger after another. While she can read the scribbles written, for the moment her primary focus is on the numbers shown. This is a rather long and tedious task as they go through various different sets of numbers, though eventually, she arches a brow and rather than handing her ledger to Heulwen beside her, she does come to inquire, "This is rather curious, who is this…" Her brow furrows, when she reads the name, "Drystan of Sarum?" After a moment, she tears her attention from the ledger within her hand to look upon Isidore fully.

Gwynaelle frowns a touch as she compares numbers, and just as she's about to speak, Lysanor calls attention to the name of Drystan, her head bobbing a few times, "Noticed that as well." She murmurs aside to the other lady, "And this one, Sir Caron de Haxton?" Not a name she readily recognizes. A finger points out a few entries with the large sums to Lysanor, the other who seems to be paying a good bit of attention to the papers and ledgers as well.

Heulwen leans in closer to Lysanor and scans the document with a little more thoroughness, and her eyebrows rise upward slowly. "I have heard of a, hmm, a Sir Drustan? But I haven't heard of a Drystan. Is there no surname?" She traces the entry with a fingernail before following her cousin's gaze and looking up to Isidore questioningly. "And Haxton? I think maybe a list of those transactions would do us well. If we cannot find the answer on paper, we can perhaps find it with careful questioning. Perhaps someone took a little more than they were supposed to. Who is usually present to conduct the transactions? Is there one person in charge of responding to requests for funds?"

"It does look to be Drystan of Sarum." Lysanor says, sharing her own ledger between the other woman as she is offered one handed by Gwynaelle as well. "If only it were simply a little more." The numbers beside Drystan's name, when they show up every so often, look to be large transactions. "I suppose these could all be legitimate transactions, especially as I do not know what business this Drystan of Sarum conducts." And someone would have found these out earlier, perhaps, unless they were truly overlooked.

The Secretary considers, "Drystan of Sarum is a salesman, from what I know. I found that name strange, since he is a weaver, and this fund isn't quite for articles of clothing," he taps his chin, before Gwynaelle's question has his attention caught for a moment, "That is one of the Earl's men and if I am not mistaken, he is an officer in Up Avon. He was paid for services rendered in transporting something of value to Sarum." But evidently, he doesn't know what. "Perhaps you can still find him; he hasn't left the city, yet."

Heulwen's request has Isidore nodding, heading over to a drawer, which he pulls with a loud, noisy scrape. He reaches for something inside, and produces a sheet of paper, before returning it to the Lady's appraisal.

Eirian checked her heraldry of 3, she rolled 2.

"Drystan, yes…" Gwynaelle agrees with the spelling, making note that it's not the knight. Likewise, there is another large sum near Sir Caron de Haxton's name as well. When explanation is offered for both by Isidore, she hmms, "Talking to both would be good, I believe. More information one has, the better it might be in figuring this all out." Looking to the other ladies, she wonders, "Shall we split up, two to speak with the salesman, the other two to the knight?" A suggestion made.

Heulwen offers Isidore a warm smile in gratitude as he hands over the paper, and she scans it slowly while drawing the tip of her index finger down the page. She shows it to Lysanor as well, just in case her cousin wishes a look, and then offers a quick nod to Gwynaelle in agreement. "Both men would be a good start, and if we end up with nothing to show for the effort then we can at least follow another track. Do you yourself have any suspicions at all, Lord Secretary?"

"Clothing makes a convenient source for bundling other items inside, or converting if the appropriate measures are used. Hide gems in the hemline, for example, put coins in specific spots." The commentary may well be idle on Eirian's part, though she cups her elbow and folds her arm upright. The distant look to her sharpens considerably as she listens to the other two. "Sir Haxton is peculiar to hear. You are certain?" Turning towards Heulwen, she says, "Haxton manor is also to the north. Have you heard of any tourney knights with that surname? I recall more than one, but Sir Caron? My brother spoke highly of him in the past, a sort of upstanding man without a reputation for undehranded dealings."

"That sounds like a good enough plan as any, Lady Gwynaelle." Lysanor says with a nod in agreement to the other woman, though her eyes once more return to the ledgers to see if there is anything else amiss. "I do hope that they are innocent of any wrong doing, but that would place us back at the beginning again. Otherwise, if they catch wind of our snooping, they may very well attempt to make themselves scarce." Her gaze then lights upon Eirian and her own revelation, before she looks between the other women as well, "Now that is quite the important bit of information. Did you wish to speak with him then, Lady Eirian?"

Heulwen checked her heraldry of 9, she rolled 18.

"It could be one of my colleagues, my Lady," Isidore, at least, suspects as much, or so his expression says. "It could also be someone of the Lady-in-Waiting's circle of trust, as they are wont to submit papers on her behalf to conduct dealings. Unfortunately, the element of discretion in these matters make it very difficult for me to pin down one suspect, exactly." He angles his head affirmatively to Eirian, "If it is on the paper, it is perhaps as it says. At any rate, I have some more work to do, my Ladies, but I believe the Steward has assigned a handful of guardsmen to serve as your escorts while you look into these matters. And," he lowers his tone a little, almost sotto-voce, "I hope I can trust with your secrecy."

Heulwen checked her intrigue of 8, she rolled 1.
Gwynaelle check your intrigue at 6, you rolled 18.

Gwynaelle nods to the other's comments and suggestions, listening to each in turn as she looks from one to another. As for the Lord Secretary, she doesn't speak up but to thank him for the guard escort, the lady Idmiston to then ask the others, "Who wishes to speak to whom?"

Lysanor checked her intrigue of 9, she rolled 4.
Eirian checked her intrigue of 8, she rolled 2.

Heulwen folds the paper in half and tucks it into her pouch, tilting her head toward Isidore to listen while she arranges the miscellany within the purse. "Ah, of course, well thank you, Lord Secretary, for the information. And for the guards." She glances to Lysanor and then to the other ladies, eyebrows raised. "My cousin and I are most happy to talk to this Drystan fellow. If he's a weaver, I'm certain we've visited his stand before."

Dipping her chin slightly, Eirian falls quiet for a moment. The secretary has made his purpose clear and dismissed them, and she bears up under the fact rather well. "Let us all hope for the sake of the treasury we can remedy this quietly and respectably." A pleasant notion to voice aloud as it comes. Adjusting the fall of her cloak around her, she says, "Thank you, Lord Secretary, for lending your assistance. I am unsure that splitting our focus is entirely wise in this case, but we can make an amenable arrangement otherwise, I am certain. It may help if two of us remain in the background for Drystan of Sarum to be alert for any troubles that might occur, or oddities which stand out. Then reverse the course for Sir Haxton."

"I do believe that we've encountered Drystan on several occasions more than likely. If we're in luck, then he isn't planning on traveling to peddle his wares any time soon." Lysanor says with a nod in Heulwen's direction, even as she herself attempts to do some straightening out of the ledgers on the table. They may have entered the room into this mess, but there was no need to leave it be. Especially, if it helps to keep the documents organized and easier to manage. "I so no issues with Lady Eirian's suggestion, in fact it would be a wise choice, less one of our suspects decides to steal away beneath our noses, but I do not see that as being likely and if that is the case, then we may have other issues involved." Her gaze on Isidore now, "And yes, thank you for granting us access to these ledgers and sating out inquiries. We will do our best to have this issue sorted out." Then to the others, "So where shall we go first? It may be easier to catch this Drystan at his stand at any point, so perhaps there before he closes shop."

Gwynaelle listens once more, straightening up the papers she might have gone through, leaving them neater than they were before. She canot help but smile when it seems that Lysanor is of the same mind as she. "Agreed then. I would suggest Sir Caron first, so he doesn't leave Sarum before we can talk to him? If Drystan has a shop here, he won't be leaving any time soon.." That is her opinion, however.

Isidore bows to the Ladies, as is courteous, and shows them the door before he closes the offices for the public — and even other courtiers. On the other hand, guards approach the hallway, four in total. After a brief introduction - the apparent leader among them one Awstin of Sarum, some man already in his late twenties and possibly taller than the average Cymric male. Also considerably fatter, but perhaps he is formidable to go with that.

The group will find the knight drowning his sorrows at the Cony. If this is a notable knight at all, he currently doesn't seem the part. A redhaired man in his late twenties, his left arm seems to have been entirely bandaged, with evidence of further treatment by a healer considering the thin strips of cloth that cover his neck — bloody in parts, one might add — and right foot.

Gwynaelle greets the guards, exchanging names, and thanking them all for escorting them. Once they find where Sir Caron is within the city, she looks to Eirian as they step into the Coney. "I do not know what he looks like, or his heraldry.." Someone might be better pointing him out. Though the knight with bandages does gain a look from she, he is not recognized right offhand.

Heulwen checked her heraldry of 9, she rolled 16.
Heulwen checked her recognize of 6, she rolled 19.
<OOC> Galahad says, "I'll give you a +10 to that first roll."

Nothing quite like a giant in height and paunch to escort the ladies. He might be relied upon to defend their honour in a bread-eating contest in addition to being the largest mark in the area for stray arrows, slings, and retorts! Eirian smiles faintly at Gwynaelle's statement upon entering the Cony, the lively watering hole of increasing familiarity to anyone who spends a reasonable amount of time in the city. Among varied customers, her focus seeks out the oddities: bandages, wounds, a shield. After a moment, she stands on tiptoe to peer past Heulwen's shoulder. "Someone perhaps of the Haxton house," she murmurs under her breath, though only those around her might hear. Pale eyes glint towards the ginger from under her lashes. "Though not the man himself. He is too young to be the knight in question, alas."

Heulwen follows closely behind Gwynaelle and beside her cousin, hands clasped in front of her as they move quickly through Sarum and head for the Cony. She hesitates at the door, but only because so large a procession complete with guards may look amiss, and so she gestures to the guards and inquires: "Would you mind so terribly waiting outside? Only, a group of ladies is less suspicious than a group of ladies and the Earl's men, no? Someone will stay close to the door and call to you if it's necessary, but I think we will be fine in such a public place as this." She offers each of the guards in turn a brilliant smile before turning back to Gwyn to usher her through the door into the tavern.

Once inside, and once her eyes have adjusted to the change in light, it does not take long at all for her to spot the man in question, especially with Eirian's assistance. Wennie eyeballs the bandages for a moment before reaching out to touch Lysanor on the arm. "Maybe you can offer some assistance with his wounds, cousin? Or perhaps some clean wrappings. Lady Eirian, I am sure you and Lady—hmm, I did not catch your name," she pauses to gesture to Gwynaelle, "have questions in mind."

Galahad makes a check for Sir Haxton's Awareness at 8, it rolled 15.

For what it is worth, it appears the seemingly younger Sir de Haxton has not noticed the four ladies yet, instead concerning himself solely with matters as belonging to his booze, and what could be a budding alcoholism, considering how quickly he seems to be imbibing the mugs of ale he keeps ordering from the maids. A little wonder he has the money to spare, too; the Cony is not known for its affordability.

Looking to be quite an uncommon sight to see a quartet of young woman being trailed by such a large and lumbering guard among several, though to those who frequent Sarum and especially the castle, this giant of a man may indeed be a familiar. As they are escorted to the Cony, Lysanor's bright eyes scan the room though just as the other have noticed, she does take interest in the heavily bandaged man seated at some random table. From her viewpoint, she is already assessing his damages, as she often does with her healer's mentality. It does, however, seem that this man is the one whom they seek and with Huelwen's suggestion, she nods slowly, for she rarely leaves home without a few pouches filled with bandages and salves hanging at her hip. "By the looks of things, he very well may need to be tended to." So with that said, she makes a polite approach, taking sudden pause in all of her dramatics as if she had only now noticed the man and his injured state. "Pardon me," She starts, lowering herself into a curtsy, "I don't mean to intrude, but I had noticed that some of your bandages have begun to come undone. If you don't mind my assistance, I have some fresh bandages to spare."

Following the comments of the others, Gwynaelle steps to one side to get a better look at the bandaged knight, "You think that is him?" She asks of the others before she smiles and offers to Heulwen, "Gwynaelle de Idmiston." This as Lysanor moves forwards to engage the very man in conversation, offering to rebandage him as needed. Following afterwards, she motions to the maid who might have just taken another drink order from the man, and speaks to her for a moment, "Food, and easy on the ale on your return, please?"

"Hm?" The Paxton knight glances up from a long spell of distraction. But then, there's an absolutely gorgeous redhead just sidling up to him, and his lips twist into a slight, almost flirtatious smile — if it wasn't for the fact the bottom lip was swollen as though he'd gotten punched, anyways. But he presses a hand to his neck after her words, and, as those fingers come up a little red, his brows furrow and he nods once, in thanks, "I would appreciate it, my Lady…?" He glances over his shoulder a moment, and seems about to shout to the servant Gwynaelle speaks to - who very kindly offers her a smile and bows once at her request - but some jolt of pain has him look back to Lysanor once more.

A tavern is a tavern, and ale outranks a collection of ladies in pretty bliauts and no such air of conspiracy about them. None whatsoever prevails where Eirian is involved, for she glides into the place. To Gwynaelle's question, she shakes her head. "A relative, possibly." Then the other woman and the Dinton plunge into the fray, much to her amusement, her pale eyes flickering in mirth. Rather than stray after them, she instead touches Heulwen on the arm and saunters towards an adjacent table presuming this is not the venue full of communal benches and long seats. "I do so delight in the fact we finally have another tourney to amuse ourselves with, lady. Imagine how dreadfully dull the summer would be if we had nothing to occupy ourselves with but needlework and weaving yet another tunic? I will never understand how men go through them so fast." She drops herself down daintily for a seat, feet tucked underneath them. Too many beauties, not nearly enough commonfolk about this place. "If only we could hear if there was anything more on the circuit. I keep hearing news there will be something come to Sarum, but where are all the knights if not here?"

Heulwen watches Lysanor for approximately three seconds before her attention is drawn away by Eirian. Her eyebrows arch upward, but she opts for playing along, sparing a look to Gwynaelle before following after Eirian. She plasters a faint, vapid smile on her face and settles into a seat across from the Burcombe lady, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the table and glance about the tavern. "Aye, I have only just finished patching every hole, rent, tear, and split seam my brothers have managed to acquire. Now I can watch them acquire more at another tournament. Huzzah, indeed." Wen glances sidelong to Lysanor and then back to Eirian, and she tilts her head to the side and says rather loudly, "I haven't any idea. I should ask my dear brother Kamron if he has heard about a tournament."

Lysanor checked her firstaid of 14, she rolled 17.

"Lysanor de Dinton." The red-headed Dinton maiden offers as introduction to the injures, she is merely here to distract the man nevertheless, and she brings out a few of her bandages to begin her work. Still, she maintains a pleasant demeanor, even if she ignores the flirtatious smile on the man's broken face. "With the Saxon threat ever looming over us, it's best to see that every wound, every injury is treated and continues to be treated if need be." For the most part, as the man's wounds more than likely should have beent treated much earlier, less they are left to fester, she merely observes and assesses his condition with a fleeting gaze. "Were you caught in an encounter with the Saxons? I've seen far too many of them as of recent than I'd ever wish on anyone."

Lysanor checked her firstaid of 14, she rolled 19.
Lysanor checked her firstaid of 14, she rolled 19.
Lysanor checked her firstaid of 14, she rolled 10.
Galahad makes a check for Sir de Haxton's Deceitful at 13, it rolled 14.
Critical Success!
Galahad makes a check for Sir de Haxton's Honest at 7, it rolled 7.

"Encounter with the … Saxons?" the good Sir Haxton asks, an eyebrow shooting up almost inquisitively, "oh, no. My cousin did this to me," he reassures Lysanor with a smile. Considering his bruise, and that the cut on his neck must have been done either by spear or sword (the latter is less likely, since it's a grazing wound, however nasty it is), one must say it was definitely a person. But at the same time, one must wonder why he can use his heavily bandaged left hand, after all. That is something an accomplished healer could certainly spot. "Sir Madon de Haxton," he informs the Dinton lady, though his eyes widen after a moment when he realizes that yes, he done screw up.

Listening to the other two, Gwynaelle begins to offer to help Lysanor, but at the knight's words, she ohs, "Would your cousin be…" She pauses, as if trying to think for a moment, "Sir Caron?" Those baby blues are so sweet and innocent! "A pleasure to meet you, Sir Madon." She murmurs in turn.

"Yes, but then you can see the actual knights instead of green squires," Eirian continues in that sunny tone devoid of sense and rippling in awe. The lightest of sighs escapes her and she rests her chin upon the bridge of long interlaced fingers. "Utterly dreadful we have not a single diversion in sport. King Arthur cannot have stolen every capable knight in the land for his court, can they?" And of course, her sharp ears pick up on the name as much as the tender ministrations turned by the Dinton redhead upon the good knight there. She casts for a moment. "Haxton! Oh, I have heard that name spoken of so highly. See, my darling sunshine? We are favoured." Favoured by whom is a question, but she straightens up several inches in a flash so quick, it might beggar belief she was even leaning down at all. "Sir, I must interrupt, I am so terribly sorry. But." Sleeves trail on her tabletop as she clasps her hands together, eyes full of stars and mouth rounded. "Surely you could avail ladies such as ourselves with news of any sort of trials. Or… or perhaps even… a mortal duel? Oh, the very romance of it, how dreadful for you! Lady, you must be sure his wounds are carefully bound. I am sure you have the lightest hands, but it's utterly *thrilling*. And dreadful of course, poor man!"

Critical Success!
Galahad makes a check for Sir Madon's Prudent at 10, it rolled 10.
Heulwen checked her orate of 8, she rolled 3.

Far less the mistress of theatrics, Heulwen can only stare at Eirian for several moments before offering Haxton a weak smile to support her friend's pleas for news. "Of course, yes, please do regale use with the tale of a duel, good sir." She edges forward as well, clasping her hands together atop the table and offering as warm a smile as she can conjure. "I have always wondered what it is that drives men to fight each other, and I have often bickered with brother over whether or not it is love of lady or love of honor. He believes that honor trumps all women, but I believe that a true amor can best honor if the situation warrants. Do tell us, Sir, which was it this time?"

The mention of this man's cousin was not something which Lysanor had expected to hear, even despite Eirian's warning of some deceitful de Haxon whom she had heard of. No, she expected to hear of some tale of heroics and bravery or something along that vein. But a duel? She supposes that sometimes, if not always, they are done for the good of someone's honor. For now, she does not ask and simply goes about in her examining, especially as the others now descend upon him. There is no need to bombard him with so many questions as it is, less they frighten him away! It is when she reaches the bandaged hand that she takes great care and looks to examine it further. If anything, the other women are a distraction for him now and hopefully, he very well drops his guard further, though there are some signs which she can note, being this closely to him, that may hint of a little nervousness or aggravation, perhaps? She cannot be completely certain.

For a moment, it seems like this Paxton knight is the very image of a deer caught in his impending doom. He is completely paralyzed and wide-eyed, glancing between all four ladies with a certain hesitation. He doesn't seem prompt to answer anymore, though he gently pulls himself away from Lysanor, before Gwynaelle's question on who his cousin is have him drawing his lips together, very tightly. Discretion being the better part of valor, he bows his head and attempts to start on his way out. Heulwen's question has him pause, "Neither," he states, finally, and then seems about to retreat upstairs.

Eirian checked her reckless of 10, she rolled 6.
Eirian checked her prudent of 10, she rolled 19.

"Oh Sir de Haxton," Heulwen calls out, affecting a slight pout - indeed, her lower lip does protrude just a bit as she slides out of her chair and takes a step toward him with a hand outstretched as if perhaps to reach for him. "Pray, do not deprive us of your presence so quickly! We have been long without such the daring and - need I say it - daunting presence of a tourney knight, and I just know that judging by your rugged appearance you have a story that would make us positively swoon. And sir, I promise you from the very bottom of my heart, we are in desperate need of swooning. Let us buy you another round of ale to help soothe your dry throat while you tell us of your daring deeds, hmm?" She pats the table beside her seat in beckoning and smiles gently.

As it seems the others have the knight in hand, or more specifically, Heulwen, Gwynaelle falls quiet, standing just to the side as if to keep herself out of view. She'll nod her head, agreeing with Heulwen, to find a seat nearby though she turns attention to any around, to see if others are paying attention to them in any way.

It is fairly obvious that Heulwen's efforts work, because Paxton stops, flashes her something of a cocky grin and joins her at her table, apparently deterred from making an escape, then. "Well, since you would like to hear about it…" He pauses, looking at the ladies before continuing, "My cousin, who the Lady so kindly mentioned," and a nod to Gwynaelle at that, "is a down bastard. He would not let me take the job of helping transport the monthly taxes of Up Avon, so I challenged him to a fight by drawing my sword. He took the challenge, of course," some embellishment, evidently, "but I was smarter. So when he came at me when I had dropped my sword, I grabbed the first piece of stick I could find and WHAM! Smacked him right on the head. Left him in the care of some healers in Up Avon, but I took his summons, got his officers' badge and made the trip here. I even dispatched a bandit on the way, heh, whoreson did not see it coming!"

Just where is the Haxton knight heading? Eirian puts her hands on the table and rises to her feet. "Oh! I apologize, what dread misfortune this is for us to have offended you." The bliaut she wears gathers around her in fluid cloth lines, and she pivots slightly, looking for a path that isn't crowded by so many bodies, chairs and other detritus as taverns and inns gather in abundance. Whatever route the younger knight may take surely has something to do with where she inadvertently interposes herself if a retreat takes place. As it does not, all is absolutely well. "To think you were so bold! The taxes you handled, and a bandit. Oh, that calls for the good ale."

It is as Lysanor had sensed when the man suddenly withdraws and rises from his seat and while she may move oh very slightly from his path, in a sense of politeness, especially with any who may now turn a curious eye to the group of women. Where her eyes follow his path, she is filled with some relief when it is her cousin who coaxes him to explain his tale in more detail. Sauntering from one table to the next to now sit beside Heulwen so that they may listen to this story. "Then, it was a very good thing that you did win your challenge, for even on threat of being robbed by bandits, you have prevailed and made your delivery soundly." With all of this call of ale, a servant eventually brings a round, filling each and ever mug to the brim. "How long have you been asking to assist your cousin in this matter? It is not difficult to see that you are truly a man worthy of the position."

"I have been asking him for months, and there's a friend of mine here, in Sarum, he's a Secretary. Let me tell you, he knows so much about what's going on, who has how much coin… and he told me of an interesting proposal that he reassured me is completely within the bounds of law," Madon continues, perhaps unwisely, duly impressed by not one, but /two/ beautiful ladies sitting right across from him, though he tries, in vain, to meet Heulwen's gaze with the most flirtatious look he can muster. Then he tries the same on Lysanor, perhaps unwisely. You never show obvious interest in two ladies at the same time, let alone if they're cousins. Not that he knows they are, but. "Aye, I would be happy for more ale," he tells Eirian, glancing around to see where a servant might be hiding.

"Aye, indeed, he did you sorely," Heulwen murmurs, taking the knight by his arm and guiding him to their table and to a seat amongst the ladies. She sighs sadly and clucks her tongue, touching lightly at the bandages before pulling away to take up a cup of ale. She shakes her head at the tale, affecting as disapproving a demeanor as possible - on part of the man's cousin, naturally. "Obviously one so easily and soundly beaten as he would have his position usurped by one superior to the task, especially for the sensitive and timely job of collecting taxes." She pauses to take a drink and licks her lips, and then she laughs and touches the knight gently on his arm. "Oo, did I not say this man looked like the greatest storyteller alive, ladies? What sort of proposal did this Secretary make to you? I'm sure, of course, you will find some way to outsmart him at his own game yet. Maybe we can help you."

Gwynaelle is quick to take the tankard of ale from the maid who delivers it to the table, to then turn and offer with a smile of her own to place it before him, "Your ale, Sir Madon.." Oh, now he's got three ladies hanging upon his every word! For surely she will sit at a chair, pulled from another table closer to listen, though she does continue to watch those others around while Heulwen and Eirian get him to talk further.

Wherever the wench is, it may suit her to bring about a flagon of ale, a tankard of something delicious because loose lips sink future careers imperiling the Earl's security. Eirian happily waves at the server, jouncing at the edge of the bench with the vibrational force of a small star. Gwynaelle sees to the drink, but she adds, "More bread for our knight here. As you can see, he is well in need of sufficient victuals. And honey cakes, for afterwards." Technically the man has a quartet, for she draws herself further into the table as her elbows rest on the top and she sighs, a soft outrush of air. "Ladies, you are truly spoiling me. Imagine how stern you must be to perform the very task, and how keen an eye you have. It would almost be a waste in a tourney, rather than on the street and upon the field? Not a role for someone of less than utter conviction." She purses her lips, eyes wide and flowering blue in anticipation. "Do tell us! We cannot be left hanging upon such an unknown ending. I simply cannot bear it."

To his credit, he must have an iron liver, because he drinks the ale quickly, very quickly. It's gone and done by the time he slams the mug back onto the table with a hollow sound to it, and he smiles again, like a fool, to Heulwen. "The proposal," he glances to the four ladies, "was about using these discretionary funds that were set aside for Lady Esyte, and he would do something, maybe change the numbers, or save up some coin from a purchase, something like that. Then, he would split the difference with me and … well, some other fellow he proposed this for. I don't know the man, personally. So far, I've only received the first month's earnings."

Not exactly flirtatious herself, nor does she care to pretend to try, Lysanor does listen with the same rapt attention similar to the other ladies. And then the man so boldly and proudly lets just a small bit of information slip. Well, in this case, the information isn't small at all, nor is it a minor thing, but the man seems pleased. "Oh my, that is such a lovely boon for such diligent work." She starts, though she does not dare exchange glances with the others just yet, for there was no need to act suspicious in any way. "It would seem that your wounds were not received in vain and all of your efforts were worth the trouble. Your friend, the secretary, I'm surprised he isn't here with you now nor the other. It does seem like cause for some celebration."

Heulwen frowns slightly, but the expression is quite fleeting, and she shakes her head slowly over her not so rapidly dwindling mug of ale. The knight may knock them back ever so frequently, but she is content with just the one for the time being. "I consider myself quite canny, but I would never have thought of quite so clever a plan. I am sure this secretary has invested wisely in choosing you, and such a handsome bit of muscle he's adopted, too. But aye, it's unfortunate he isn't here to celebrate with the rest of us. I suppose that leaves you, good sir, to drink up all the ale and the rest of them to rot!"

A gesture to the maid, another round for the knight is thus ordered by Gwynaelle, who seems to be on the same trail of thought as another - more ale, the looser the lips the man might have! Again, the tankard is taken from the maid, and handed to the knight by the lady Idmiston with a flirty smile, "Quite the handsome man, and smart… I'm sure the others are not worth our time.."

"As far as I know the other doesn't like being here, anyway. He prefers the Wainwrights. Feh! The Wainwrights! If you truly want to sleep in a flea-ridden place, you can just request for a bedroll there. I'm sure that fireplace is nice enough, of course," Madon continues, shaking his head. The subsequent mug of ale has him stop, however, a little dizzy, and he glances around to all of them, musters a silly smile before toppling the mug onto himself, spilling some beer onto his now unconscious body.

It seems that no more answers are forthcoming from good Sir Haxton.

More bread, more ale, and the delivery of both shall be accomplished at hopefully record speed given all involved. A sigh of appreciation comes from the captivated Burcombe girl, who rests her chin against the serrated peaks of her knuckles. Information is well earned and received, though she might be fortunate by appearances to have half a clue of what the words mean. Though she can latch onto something in horror. "Fleas! Why would anyone want to threaten themselves with bed lice or fleas?" Her hands vover her mouth and she looks askance at Heulwen as though someone just put a stinking wheel of cheese and rotten flesh on the table. "Quality is such a rarity these days."

"Quality is a rarity, indeed," Heulwen replies, watching the man topple into his drink. She relaxes her vapid smile and stretches her mouth, rubbing at her aching jaw and eyeballing the ladies with something akin to disgust. "I am taking extra time today to thank God that my betrothed is a decent man. Let us leave before he bleeds on me." She scoots away from the unconscious knight gingerly and jumps out of her chair, brushing at her bliaut as if it, too, might have suddenly become infested with fleas. "On to the Wainright, hmm? And then back to the Lord Secretary to inform him of our most interesting findings and to perhaps tell him he has invested poorly in co-conspirators."

On to the Wainwright, indeed.

By the time the conversation was done, it's already getting a little late, what with the afternoon sun starting to recede and pretty shades of orange, blue and red start mingling in the horizon and zenith. When the ladies do arrive, they might find the Wainwright Inn a rather festive place: some bard has been hired to perform for the people today, who are dancing and singing and, most lucratively of all, eating and drinking copiously.

And just who is indulging himself in such worldly pleasures? The weaver, Drystan of Sarum. Perhaps the forty-something old is familiar to Heulwen and Lysanor, if they visit a weaver's stands often. But his prices tend to be a little on the expensive side, and often for no good reason.

Perhaps they might know why, now.

Critical Fail!
Gwynaelle check your recognize at 3, you rolled 20.
Critical Success!
Heulwen checked her recognize of 6, she rolled 6.

Upon arriving at the Wainright, Gwynaelle looks over the crowd within, her foot tapping to the music. Spying someone at the bar, she points over to the young man chatting up the wench there, "I think that is him… " Maybe she ran into him earlier that day in the market, which is why she remembers him? Surely he isn't the weaver!

"He's a bit young," Heulwen says to Gwyn, pitching her voice loud enough to be heard above the music and the general din of people enjoying themselves. Instead, she sweeps her gaze around the tavern, picking through the merrymakers cleanly until she spots the very familiar face. Drystan, the man whose stall she has frequenter herself - often spending more time discussing the art of weaving rather than purchasing his wares, much to the craftsman's mounting displeasure. "That is him," she announces, lifting her chin and pointing right in the weaver's direction seated at a table and enjoying his evening meal. "But he knows me, and isn't particularly fond. Perhaps someone else should speak with him."

Galahad makes a check for Drystan Awareness at 12, it rolled 5.

Despite the disappointment which Lysanor quietly holds for the Haxon that they had just met and the very idea that these men were working together out of simple greed, the uplifting music that fills the Wainwright does help to lighten her mood somewhat, at the very least. She loves a good minstrel song and to listen to tales sung off the lips of bards. They did have a job to do here, however, so once they are inside, very much like Heulwen, she scans the room with sharp eyes. With all of the movement and dancing and merrymaking abound, it's hard for her to pick out anyone within the crowd, but luckily for them, her cousin quickly spots this Drystan in the crowd. Blinking quickly, her eyes now upon him too, she recognizes him as someone whom she sometimes bought her fabrics and materials from, though not as often as the man would have liked, though that is mostly due to his high prices. "Yes, I do recall the man now. Rarely have I done business with him, but that was moreso due to his stifling prices." And without the quality to match them. "I have a feeling that he may recognize me as well," And here her eyes flicker towards Gwynaelle and Eirian, though both very well may have been customers to this scoundrel at some point as well.

The delay of letting the other women go ahead of her now has its purpose set in stone. Eirian jaunts into the Wainwright some moments after the ladies, creating a mental and a physical break between them. The mind has a delicious way of establishing separation by accident when the pattern changes, discarding there might exist any kinds of connection at all. Her ingress comes as another group of people push their way in, swallowing her up in their midst and letting her go after a sonnet of laughter and a few suggestive comments. Forget watchful, she heads straight for a counter for the one thing the Wainwright provides with certainty: a sweet roll. True! Receiving it may take some time, and then the dusky-haired Burcombe has her task set out to find an open seat. One is easier than seating a quartet, but then all those strangers and unfamiliar faces do make the selection process a little more difficult. Where be the scoundrel? Conveniently where she intends to drift past in search of an opening, as it would happen, and she quite fearlessly uses the beacon of Heulwen's dainty chin to give her direction of where to do it. Drystan surely has a spot, and if he does not, dancers tend to rotate through their paces rather often. She need only abide for a moment, lurking nearby. He could just possibly pluck her out of a crowd.

Drystan does have a spot, but he has also noticed the four moving in his direction. For now, he thinks nothing of it, before his attention turns upon Eirian, his head tilting. "Hello," he takes a look at her clothes, realizes she's a bit more upper class than the peasantry here, and adds, "my Lady. May I help you with anything?"

Argh. Not the right one? Well, darnit! Gwynaelle blushes, glancing to the cousins and to the man they soon point out, "Oh.. well.. " Brows furrow slightly as if trying to place the young crafter at the bar before the business at hand is recalled. Another time. Moving further into the place, she pauses when the man looks to Eirian, seeming to speak to her. Unknown are the words, the music and dancers momentarily splitting her from the others and the conversation.

Laughing quietly, and at no risk of being overhead, Heulwen watches as Eirian takes the lead and waltzes straight ahead to make contact with Drystan. She is more than willing to fall back this time around, having exhausted her coquetry with the knight. "I could use a rest," she murmurs to Lysanor, and points toward a seat very close to the door. "And to not be seen by him. Lady Gwynaelle, will you find someplace close so you can listen? I truly do not want to be recognized or I fear it may disrupt everything." With a bob of her head, Wen sidles off to a seat so as not to look awkward standing by the door and waiting.

Eirian checked her Courtesy of 10, she rolled 19.
Eirian checked her Orate of 3, she rolled 10.
Gwynaelle check your courtesy at 4, you rolled 15.
Gwynaelle check your orate at 5, you rolled 11.

Eirian gestures towards the space at the table, her dark grey cloak spilling around her. "Would you permit me to join you? The inn is veritably heaving with people, and finding anywhere close to the performers is tricky." She gestures lightly. "I won't be a burden upon you, I promise."

A single nods is offered to Wen as she and Lysandor make for a table near the door, leaving her to move forwards deeper into the inn. Then, acting as if she'd just spied Eirian, she calls out with a wave to the other lady, "Milady!" Weaving her way through dancers and others, she finally arrives where the other stands near Drystan's table, "Oh.. isn't this music wonderful?" Seeing the sweetroll in her hand, she ohs softly, "How is it? As delicious as it smells?" Then blushing as she glances ot the man at the table, as if realizing that perhaps he and Eirian were talking, she smiles, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt!"

Drystan looks up at Eirian, contemplates his mug of ale, sips from it, and then tells her, "Forgive me, my Lady, but I do not think someone like you should be mingling with the rest of us peasants such as myself."

Being far too familiar with the weaver, though she had not cared to remember his name before, Lysanor watches from afar as she settles in beside Heulwen. She is trying not to look overy suspicious and rather than stare at the happenings around Drystan, she does bring up a bit of small talk with her cousin, even if the topic remains the exact thing she is pretending to ignore, "How do you think they will fare? It seems that the weaver may have spotted us, or at least one of us, but that shouldn't matter overly much. Not with how many customers he must have dealt with. And I'm sure that many of them must have been a touch irate at some point due to his unreasonable price markups."

"As you should wish, sir." Eirian arches an eyebrow towards the man. "Though I should wonder that you think I am so much higher born than you. Ah, as you prefer." She reaches up to pluck her hood over her head, concealing the dusky trail of her hair, and then proceeds on to find another spot. Someone else's turn!

Since Gwynaelle tries shortly after, it is not a surprise he looks to her as well. Drystan, apparently, is in a sour mood. "And you, my Lady? How may I be of service?"

"I think they are getting nowhere," Heulwen murmurs to Lysanor, frowning thoughtfully. "As I had figured. He's a sour old codger anyway, and it's getting late. I'm going to get the guards. The knight gave us more than enough, and I'm an arrest will be enough to loosen his tongue." Wen slips out of her seat out the door, and is gone only for a few moments to fetch the four guards sent to accompany them. When she returns, she lingers by the door and instead allows the knights to make their way slowly through the tight confines of the rundown tavern to fetch up the hapless weaver.

Some of the dancers are startled by their appearance, but the music continues for another minute or two as the knights quietly seize Drystan. It isn't as if they have their weapons out and they're dueling on top of tables or anything. The music begins to die, however, just in time for everyone to hear the leader announce: "Drystan of Sarum, you are hereby under arrest by order of the Earl, and are to be escorted to the keep for questioning. Check him for weapons and then we'll go." The last seems a bit silly and unnecessary considering the scrawny man is likely to be hiding anything on his person, but safety first!

Maybe the ladies did not make much headway with Drystan, but there are four very interested people in doing so. Seeing the results of their lady-like labor with the Haxton knight, the leader of the guards is duly impressed and lends aid when they need the most.

So four very burly men throw open the doors of the Wainwright's Inn and approach Drystan menacingly, grabbing the man by his arms and legs, after Heulwen calls them in. Thus dragged, the weaver nearly pisses his trousers, but he does shout, "Get my friend, Lord Isidore! He knows I'm not guilty!"

Hearing the man's words, Gwynaelle turns to the other laides, "He speaks of the Lord Secretary, same as the other… do you think?" Have they perhaps gone off looking for them, leaving Isidore to make his get away?

It did trouble Lysanor when the Haxon had mentined working with one of the secretaries of the castle. This did leave many questions open in her mind, but once Isidore's very name is uttered from Drystan's lips, her eyes widen before narrowing. "There is only one way to get to the bottom of all of this and that is to confront the Lord Secretary himself." There is this look of distaste upon her features, a stern gaze given to this scoundrel of a merchant.

Gwynaelle check your intrigue at 6, you rolled 18.
Heulwen checked her intrigue of 8, she rolled 9.
<OOC> Galahad says, "That's a success."
<OOC> Galahad also rolls for Eirian.
Galahad makes a check for Eirian's intrigue at 8, it rolled 12.
<OOC> Galahad says, "Another success."
Lysanor checked her intrigue of 9, she rolled 17.

"Well, if nothing else they can bag him for terribly overpriced merchandise," Heulwen murmurs to Lysanor before following the group out of the stuffy tavern and into the fresh air. She looks to the other ladies and nods firmly, letting the cool evening breeze blow the stink of unwashed bodies out of her clothes and air, and she inhales deeply. "I say we speak to the Lord Secretary. Something is amiss, but I find it highly irregular that he would send us on this chase only to uncover his duplicity. Either he has half a brain or he thinks we're a lot of addled ninnies more interested in pretty bliauts and bronze cloak pins."

As it appears that the plan is to take the case to Isidore, they arrive shortly before he actually closes the offices for the day. When they get closer, his stance is one of apprenhension, as perhaps he has gotten quite the talking to from the Steward already. "D-did you find out anything?" He asks, inbetween stutters, unlocking the door with a loud clang and keeping it open for the ladies. And the guards.

Lysanor stands among the other women who do not look particularly happy when they do confront Isidore just as he plans his departure. "Oh, wonderful! I thought that we would have missed you for the evening." She tries to maintain a warm tone despite the underlying tension which may be heard beneath it. "We have had quite a busy day and were able to speak to those we were tasked to do so. They both were quite charming individuals who had some interesting news to relay." Bright blue eyes remain on the man once the door is open, before she turns towards the rest of the ladies, before simply stating to the nervous gentleman, "After you."

Gwynaelle does speak to the head guard once they prepare to follow Isidore into his office, "Would you please step in as well?" A pause, and she asks one of the others, "Should the Steward also be called?" They might wish to hear the information as well, after all.

Adopting that sweet smile common among the beautiful ladies of Dinton, Heulwen stands beside her cousin just outside of the office door and likewise gestures for Isidore to step inside. "Please, Lord Secretary. And yes, can one of you fine men bring the Steward along as well? I am certain he will want to have everything resolved to know that the secretary has seen fit to handle the matter so efficiently." Wen glances to the guards and raises her eyebrows questioningly, wondering if any of them will comply. It is, of course, only a request.

It is simple, then, for one of the guards to offer a nod and head out, to fetch the Steward, just as the Secretary feels compelled to step in. When the Steward does appear, it looks like he is in a particularly foul mood, glaring at the Secretary - likely someone he has little love for - and nods courtesly to the ladies, schooling his expression for something more … respectable, perhaps.

"So how may I help you, my Ladies?"

Knowing full well that they are in the right of this and yet still being a bit in awe of the situation as a whole and nervous at the Steward's presence, Lysanor graces the man with a curtsy upon his entrance, before deciding to relay some of what they had found, "Lord Steward, today several of us ladies had been tasked with a job regarding a discrepency between the ledgers and the treasury. By looking through some of the ledgers, we came across a couple of names with strangely large financial transactions attached to them. And so we set off to speak with a pair of individuals whom were named in our findings." This is a good start anyway.

Gwynaelle curtsey's as well upon the Steward's arrival, gaze taking in the man, and the others, within the room. With Lysanor's start, she soon adds to it, "The first we sought out with a man by the name of Sir Caron de Haxton, though it was his cousin, Sir Madon, that we found in the Coney. He spoke of a deal he'd made with someone, in return to get a bit of coin for turning in the taxes from Up Avon. A deal he supposedly made with one other.. and the Lord Secretary."

"This Sir Madon rendered his brother incapable of doing his duty collecting taxes, and took up his job instead, and in doing so they were able to embezzle money together with the assistance of the merchant Drystan of Sarum - a weaver, among other things, I gather - who was arrested this evening after noting that Isidore here was his co-conspirator," Heulwen supplies, turning to the Steward with a shrug. "The knight drank himself into a stupor at the Cony. I imagine he is still there, or at least someone there will know where he ended up. He was wounded from the fight with his brother, which means that it was recent, therefore they did not have enough time to scrape much off the top." She pauses and glances to Isidore, frowning. "Or the couth to do it in smaller, less noticeable increments."

"Is that so?" the Steward asks of a frightened Isidore, who gets backed up in the corner by a couple of guards after Heulwen makes the startling conclusion. "Take him," is ordered, the Steward clearly disgusted by the Secretary, so all is well that ends well.

Perhaps Isidore thought he could get away with it, after all, they are just Ladies of the realm, right? And the Lady in Waiting and Steward don't understand a single thing about finance as he does, so damn them! But it didn't turn out that way:

First, because the Sir Haxton in the ledgers is actually recovering from his wounds after an unlawful duel with his relative. Who, by now, has been placed under custody of the Earl and is awaiting trial. Evidently he is a lack-wit, so there is some doubt as to what is the more merciful thing to do about Sir Madon de Haxton.

Second, because the over-charging merchant, Drystan, has been cleverly hiding the coins in bolt after bolt of fine cloth, where for every two purchased for Lady Esyte, at least one ends up being 'repurposed' as a means to smuggle the gold out of the Palace, and into the personal coffers of the two skimmers. That one already hangs from the gallows, for there are no such mercies for those of common lineage.

Third, because they didn't count on the ladies who were called upon being smart enough to know when to use force and when to use subtler, more wiley methods. The end result is that Isidore is now on the chopping block, and there's an opening for Ledgerkeeper, in addition to all the ladies receiving their stipends.

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