(514-08-13) No Sh-t, Sherlock
Summary: Elrick is forced to dispense justice in a matter of theft at the Hartshorn Inn.
Date: Around 514-08-13
Related: N/A
eirian elrick 

On the way to Amesbury is the Hartshorn Inn. Often jokingly called the “Heart Shorn,” given the number of bachelor knights who stay there, the place caters to travelers of all levels who take the ferry or travel on the Roman road. Crowds congregate in its common room, drawn by a promise of that most unusual dish: roast pheasant. Pheasant stew, too, for two denarii, and a fine brown ale hearken to travelers.

What sets the Hartshorn apart are its rooms: essentially conjoined huts, connected to the main building. It will never accommodate a huge number of travelers, given the manors and nature of the place, but it’s a popular stopover point. Indeed on the road it’s the only point and the small ferry lines up there.

Here are the bold heroes, reaching the place by evening, brought by their business. The inn is a short distance from several manors between the Bourne and the Avon, eating up those who would rather not pay the steep fees in the city.

No longer a bachelor knight with his station somewhat elevated with his marriage to Eirian, Elrick arrives at the inn with a purpose and that is to see to the safety of the lady that is to deliver a message for the Earl. Though the lands are much safer with the Saxons driven out of the heart of Salisbury, there is always the risk of bandits and other unsavory types, so an escort is warranted for a young lady. The Laverstock knight is more than willing to volunteer for such a duty, to see to her safety.

With their steeds being turned over to the stable boys for safe caring, Elrick dismounts without issue and takes his traveling pack from the saddle, looking over to Eirian. “This should be the best place to rest up, we can ride the rest of the way tomorrow to see the message placed in the right hands.” There is a pause before he adds, not adding too much detail but the newly announced Laverstock should know what he means, “Let me know if you feel discomfort of any sort.”

The horse provides a comfortable ride, but it’s not as though Macha counts as a swayback nag or an iron bull. Helping Eirian down is a simple matter, considering she has long practice at swinging up and hopping down with the assistance of a groom, handmaid, branch or fence post. Thus she receives Elrick’s assistance gladly, and the blood mare stands patiently until freed of the heavier of her burdens. “I shall, though nothing satisfies me so much after a ride as walking about for a bit to loosen up. I might enjoy a ramble about the property before it grows too dark, but let’s see to a room and a meal before my intrepid planning out runs the availability of such things.” Practicality is not her strongest suit, except when it is.

The commons of an inn heaves with activity and this one is no different, the flow of a nutty ale and bread fresh from the oven delivered at quick speed. The long trestle tables invite communal dining, with some crude chairs bellied up to a wall. Two knights lean against the bar, finishing up tankards, and probably settling their tabs up.

Critical failure.
Elrick checks his Recognize of Put Here, Eirian: 20.

Unfortunately, the rampant red lion on one man’s dusty tunic is that of Powys. And the bicolor tree on the other does not immediately hint to him of any particular house, but they could well be Cambrian.

Elrick checks his Heraldry of 10, he rolled 9.

Is that the red lion of Powys? Yes, but much more interesting is that tree. It’s not Cambrian at all. The longer that the confused knight looks upon it, the more he can be certain —possibly from a tourney, or the tales of his family, or just studying too much — that it is Irish. In particular, the Mac Conchobar family, which in effect becomes O’Connor in future fates. They’re a powerful clan in Connacht, the northwestern of the five kingdoms of Ireland, in the sense they are directly related to the kings themselves. But in Ireland, almost everyone is related to a king, for what it’s worth. Heathens.


"A most reasonable decision, Lady Eirian. I, myself, can't wait to shed this armor for the night." Elrick says as he shoots her an amused grin with his side glance, knowing that when she is distracted by something, especially outside, thoughts of food and sleep tend to flee her until there is a sharper reminder from her body. As she finds balance on the ground again, his arm remains for her to take as he escorts her into the inn, pushing the door open ahead of them before leading her inside.

Walking with Eirian towards where the innkeeper awaits, the Laverstock Knight goes through the usual procedures of requesting a room for the night as well as warm meals for the both of them, and attempts at negotiating the price of such accommodations. His gaze does shift towards the pair of knights at the bar, one the men looks familiar though Elrick would be very wrong, mistaking him for someone he had seen before elsewhere.

Luckily for him, before he approaches the knight with a friendly greeting, his eyes also takes in the sigil that is on the other knight's tunic. It is not one that belongs to the knights of Salisbury, and his memories is trying to locate where it may belong. It is a process of not identification but elimination for Elrick, as he realizes that the green tree and yellow acorns is not only not of Salisbury origin but also not of Cambria. The only guess he can venture is that they may be of Irish origin. For now, he does not address the knights further or draw more unnecessary attention to himself and Eirian.

The blithe creature at Elrick’s side generally leaves the business of knighthood and identification of such men to him; she will learn, naturally, but opportunities to identify them have naturally been slim until accepting a post at Robert’s court. Eirian thus nods politely to the knights, same as does to any who make eye contact with her and gauge the fall of her mantle finer than the average labourer. Pivoting towards one of the tables, she gestures to the bench. “Shall I wait here while you arrange for a room, or would you prefer to sit and take stock of things while I manage?”

In marriage as in battle, it helps to pick who leads the charge.

A vivacious blonde wench sails by, carrying two or three tureens on a flat tray. “Special pheasants brought in,” she announces. “Their drippings are something wonderful, and you better hurry! Soon we’ll be all done of them.” Her grin shows a gap tooth, and a saucy smattering of freckles on the apples of her cheeks.

Neither of the knights is armoured, their arms restricted to daggers at their belts. The man in the lion tunic helps the other when they walk away, and it’s apparent quickly how weary and unstable the gentleman appears to be. The bar keep, having handled some transaction with them, watches the pair long after they depart into the low, dark entrance to the Hartshorn’s sleeping quarters. He eventually shakes his head and surreptitiously crosses his heart with his thumb, and goes back about his work.

Elrick would have take the lead if it weren't for the presence of the two knights entering his mind, knights who are very far away from home and in the heart of Salisbury. His answer to Eirian is momentarily delayed, which she would notice, as his gaze watches the outsiders slowly disappear, especially when one is assisting the other. "If you could arrange it this time, Eirian? And a bowl of that pheasant stew the young woman is talking about. I need to go speak to the barkeep briefly and will join you when I am done."

Reaching over with a free hand, the Laverstock Knight offers his beloved and charge a pat on her hand before releasing her so she can conduct business with the innkeeper. He then ventures over to the barkeep, nodding to the man in greeting, "Tankard of ale please, if you have it." Then his gaze shifts towards the direction of the knights that have departed, "Looks like one of them is already deep into his cups, yeah?" A general question as if to start a conversation, nothing too probing.

A light dip of her chin acknowledges Elrick’s request, and the slender Laverstock courtier makes her way towards the bar keep’s wife, who sits at a table working through a ledger very slowly. The conversation following is a light, charming interplay of no consequence because they still gain one room at no discount, though Eirian does not press her status as a diplomat. To what end?

Eirian checks her Courtesy of 10, he rolled 11.

“The main suite has been taken already, but our second best is still available,” says the stout woman, and she holds out her hand. “Four denarii for the night, two now and two at finish. The meal is another coin.”

Such is produced without complaint from Eirian’s purse.

Elrick rolled his Intrigue of 3, he rolled 14.

As for the barkeeper, he squints and slaps a rag down on the wooden bar. Another customer makes his florid cheeks wobble in a nod. “We got a brown and an amber, as you like.” He prepares the wooden mug, a scarred thing, and considers the casks behind him with a glance. When Elrick decides, he pours up. “In their cups? Ain’t drinking nothing but their boiled bone broth and teas, them. Suppose they haven’t got their devil water to support them, but I keep none of it here.”

"Amber is fine, thank you." Elrick says as coin is produced in exchange as his gaze shifts from the room where the two knights are apparently resting for the night before focusing his gaze on the barkeeper, "Devil water? So I take it those knights are not from Salisbury then… certainly didn't look it. Did they mention what they were doing here in Salisbury?" For now the questions are kept at minimum, as not to overwhelm the commoner and also not make it seem like an interrogation.

“Ain’t local. Can’t even fathom half of what they say, their Cymric is so bad.” The keep, by nature of his business, must deal with travelers regularly. “That one’s sick. Give him a wide berth if you know what’s good for you, and may God keep it to gripes and a cold. I told them be on their way in the morning, but the lady paid up so I can hardly turn them out…” Then he almost groans. “Lady folk make the world complicated.”

Eirian checks Siobhan’s Bow of 7, she rolled 14.

While Eirian returns to claim a seat at the table, a small commotion appears through the open doorway the two knights disappeared into. A girl comes running through, holding her arms over her head. Or so it looks, though they’re really covering her ears. A shoe comes sailing after her, the wooden clog bouncing off the floor wide of her.

“You will shut the doors and lock them!” shrills a woman in an accented voice, holding an iron tinge of command. “A thief is on your premises, and I will have every person here questioned and every box searched, every cupboard opened, and every bag turned out until their perfidy is revealed.”

No wonder the little maid goes scrambling ahead of the tall shadow belonging to a much smaller spectre, a slim blonde blazing in anger. At her side is a veiled woman in grey, about the same age of thirty, holding her sleeve.

“Perhaps we should speak quietly with…” A bit late, but Calybrid tries all the same.

As more information is offered, Elrick makes a mental note that the two knights may be escorting a lady, which isn't odd as he is doing the same. But the mention of sickness does bring some concern. He does offer Eirian a brief glance when the barkeep mentions that lady folk makes the world complicated, which the Laverstock replies rather easily, "They do, don't they. But without them, the days would be long and dreadfully boring."

The commotion stops any further conversation with the barkeeper as Elrick's attention immediately shifts towards that same room the two knights disappeared into. Without hesitation, he begins walking in that direction, hand on the hilt of his blade, pulling it only an inch for now, making sure it is clear of the scabbard in case he does need to draw it. Before he can talk to the young maid, the shrilling voice pierces his ears, causing the Laverstock to wince. Since it is the Lady being the source of commotion and not the knights, the blade falls back into the scabbard and hand released.

In a timely fashion as the two ladies appear, Elrick's steps slowing to a stop as he approaches, "My Ladies, please." Trying to placate the iron woman, "What is the issue? Let us resolve this peacefully." And quietly, he would like to add but that would be a touch rude on this part. "I am Sir Elrick de Laverstock, perhaps I can be of assistance."

The ginger maid looks up in something akin to horror. “A sword! Lady!” She backs up, putting herself between Elrick and the pair of women. This is probably unexpectedly amusing given she is but five feet tall and skinny as a broom. Red Maggie she’s called clearly on account of her freckles and ginger state, and she blushes all the way to the roots of her red hair when she realizes it’s not drawn. And she is standing there being a human shield, bringing the diners to nearly simultaneously stare at the commotion.

Cue a dropped spoon here and there. The innkeeper makes a grunt from behind the bar, having a silent conversation with his wife. Unable to move, the wench clutches her plate, and the man himself moves at a lumbering, slow gait for the door. “Now, see here, Lady de Ruile, we’ll have the fuss settled but no locking the door is needed.”

Lady Siobhan advances into the room, shaking off Calybrid and her restraining hand. “I will have none of it,” she announces, loud enough to be heard. “There is a thief in this establishment, and they have taken something precious and dear to me. You, Sir Laverstock, are a knight?” She looks him up and down, noting the sword. “Very well, then I task you with enforcement of justice or mark my words, I will take my complaint to the highest courts in this land if I do not have satisfaction.”

"I mean you no harm, Mistress." Elrick says with a slight shake of a head when the wisp of a girl tries to act as a shield for the ladies. He is neither amused nor offended by the reaction he received. At least the young girl is loyal to the noble she was assigned to, which he would give her credit for, much better than just standing there and screaming in panic.

Being drafted into service by a rather demanding Lady, Elrick can't help but wince inwardly as he tries to look back towards Eirian, wherever she may be hiding, no doubt finding the whole thing amusing from her perspective. He's here to escort her to their destination, not play detective for a lady who may have misplaced her precious heirloom. But as a knight, he can't just shrug off a lady's request, it would be… unchivalrous.

"My lady, are you /sure/ the thief is in here? It may be best for you to sit down at a table while the barkeep kindly brings you a drink so you can let us know what happened." Elrick says as he looks for an open table, wanting to bring this situation under control instead of having accusations being thrown left and right, "What has gone missing and when was the last time you saw the item of yours?"

All tables in the inn are communal, long wooden benches facing a long central table. Diners eat elbow to elbow, Eirian among them. Two such long tables fill the common room, and that makes about fifteen to twenty people present, including staff and Lady Siobhan’s party.

Maggie retreats to stand by Siobhan, almost hiding behind the small noble woman. Calybrid wrings her white hands, uttering something in a language that Elrick cannot understand, a cousin of Cymric by the sound.

Siobhan is undaunted. “I will not sit down. They can all hear it and judge me, if they must.” Her public display of anger is like glass, shining and edged. “We came this very day. I packed my mantle myself at daybreak, so it could only be lost here. But when I sent Maggie to fetch it, the mantle was gone.” Her eyes narrow, bright green and flashing. “We searched the room to no avail. The only conclusion is a thief coming while we were gone.”

When the lady refuses to sit down and prefers to announce to the room that her mantle was stolen, Elrick gives up on trying to get her to remain calm, knowing better than to move an immovable object. However, since the lady is indeed a noble, the Laverstock would take her side until evidence proves otherwise. Looking over to the innkeeper, the knight directs his question, "Master Innkeeper, since this is your tavern, it will be your responsibility to assist us in recovering what has been taken from the Lady. I would require your full cooperation so that this establishment is not tainted with a bad name." This could be taken as a threat or just a fact that is being shared.

There is a pause for that seed to be planted, that it would be in the innkeeper's best interest to answer all of the questions willingly. Elrick does give Eirian a glance to see if she prefers to remain where she is, or join him, leaving the choice to her, before turning his gaze back to the innkeeper. "Since the Lady's part arrived today, who else has had access to the room given to her?"

Eirian is still too busy being trapped among the rushes, as it were, to come out and determine if this call of wolf is accurate. She nevertheless tucks her bliaut close to herself, rising from the bench as she does. “Do you intend to bring everyone into the common room?” She does not use titles, though the tone is far from familiar, conducted in the soft inquiry of someone prepared to act as requested. Two knights are hardly present, and who knows what else.

The innkeeper’s face flushes. He coughs, and then stands up an inch straighter. “I will not have it said that any traveler or guest is treated poorly. Not in the Hartshorn Inn,” he harrumphs. Then he falls silent and turns to face the diners, opening his hands. “I would be most grateful if you would comply with Sir Laverstock’s request, so we might find Lady Siobhan’s mantle.”

He coughs slightly again, choking on pride. The look of many, many eyes are on the knight. Now what?

Since the problem has been dumped on his lap, Elrick can't just give up now. It would only ruin his name and also the Laverstock name, not to mention he and Eirian will be staying here for the night. So he will have to do what he can to solve this bit of mystery and do it in a logical manner. For now, he shakes his head at Eirian, allowing those not in the common room be for now, instead his attention turns to the Lady who is apparently the victim, "Lady Siobhan, since you have arrived, how long was the room left unattended?" First, the Laverstock appears to be trying to narrow down the time frame of when this incident could have occurred.

A few words are exchanged between Calybrid and Siobhan, then she lifts her chin, giving a curt nod. “We went for a walk while Maggie aired out our cloaks and sprinkled them down with lavender. Lady Calybrid made her devotions at high sun and again for the evening, so perhaps an hour each time. Mistress Gale,” a nod to the innkeeper’s wife, “showed us her herbals and simples garden while they improved the room and brought in our dinner.”

“A half hour,” adds Calybrid. “The garden was lovely and the hospitality also.”

Eirian remains where she is, and slips a roll off a basket brought by the wench (learn, autocorrect) into her lap. “Two or three hours, give or take.”

With the time frame set, Elrick moves on to the next question which would then be directed to the lady's maid, "Mistress Maggie, where was the lady's mantle laid out? Was it in the open of the room and do you recall if the mantle was still there when you aired out their traveling cloaks?" The questions remain short for now, awaiting the answer before moving to the next.

Maggie stares up at Elrick, scowling a bit. She doesn’t look the sort to trust him much, either because she’s likely no more than fifteen (or forty, who knows with the Irish…) or he questioned her lady’s purpose. “Wasn’t no mantle tae take out,” she says in terrible Cymric. Her accent could be cut by a cheese knife and served up in slabs of gooey vowel slurs. “They wore their cloaks. I didn’t open no boxes, they were all shut up. Didn’t see no boxes tossed up either when I came back. Didn’t see no problems ‘til her ladyship opened it.”

Calybrid clears her throat softly and asks, “Tea, please?” An herbal chamomile will be brought by the wench after a bit. “Maggie was there when I and Lady a Ruile opened the boxes and discovered the missing property. She was shocked as any of us. I would vouch to her character. She is a good, virtuous girl.” Even if she does show an alarming willingness to be stabbed.

With the maid staring at him, Elrick doesn't make it easy as he stares back with his unimpressed gaze though his eyes do narrow slightly. Not in a menacing manner but as if there is some effort being exerted to understand what Maggie is saying through her thick accent. When Lady Calybrid spoke up, the Laverstock inclines his head respectfully, "I was not putting the maid under suspicion, My Lady, I was hoping that she may have noticed when the mantle had gone missing. It would allow us to focus on a smaller window where the crime took place."

Since the Lady Calybrid did speak up, Elrick decides to throw his next question at her, "The two knights that are with your party, I assume they are your escorts. Were they with you the entire time? I would like to ask if they saw anything out of the ordinary, perhaps someone paying a bit too much attention to when you left your room. Also, is there anything of value in the boxes?" Would be odd if they just took the mantle but left other items of value that may have been easier to be carried off.

Siobhan purses her lips together. “So many ears, Sir, that could take a confidence and do harm. I will not answer that question in front of everyone.” She gestures towards the hall, “If you will go back there, then I will speak to it. Though I still think the doors ought to be shut and to say nothing of the inn’s staff. For all we know there could be a thief under your pay, innkeeper.”

He splutters hearing this, but his wife silences him with a glare. Money is money.

Since what Lady Siobhan says makes sense, Elrick inclines his head in agreement and gestures for the lady to lead the way. However, he does add, for the sake of Innkeeper, since he is trying to show that he is impartial, "If you would, My Lady, afford the Innkeeper and his staff the same courtesy as we avail your maid and knights. That they are innocent of this theft until proven otherwise. They are honest people running an honest establishment here." However, the Laverstock does give Innkeeper and his wife a look, "But I am sure that while we are speaking in privacy, they will ensure that the mantle will not be found in the belongings of their staff."

Siobhan signals Maggie, and the little redhead pops up and starts to race after her. A sharp look corrects that to a ladylike walk. They both head through the doorway and into a short hallway; there are a few rooms here, all branching into odd little huts like someone built an inn around them. The rooms are insulated and thatched, but still part of the main structure. She steps right up to a doorway that presumably leads into her own chamber, scowling until they are alone, when her expression becomes troubled.

“The knights are mine,“ she says, “yes. We are traveling to Amesbury on the morrow that Lady Calybrid might take holy vows. But this seems ill-favoured more than any journey I have made and that includes the Hibernian Sea, twice.” Her face darkens at the memory. “The men took ill on the road, from what I know not. We were to arrange for them to travel by the river and stay with the charitable hospital. You may speak with them, but one is sick with chills and the other barely fit to watch the door. They were in the stables most of the day, what good they may be to you. I can call them for you, but they will be convalescent like as not.”

When the abrasive demeanor fades and is replaced by a troubled one, Elrick feels a bit more uneasy since it means that the situation is worse than it appears right now. When she mentions that both of her guards have taken ill, the Laverstock's concern is verified. "Have faith, My Lady, that your journey with Lady Calybrid to Amesbury will be successful. Let us handle one issue at a time." He pauses as if considering whether he needs to speak to the guards or not, and when he has decided, there is a shake of head, "Let them rest. In their current state, they may not be able to provide the proper details."

A slow sigh is released by the Laverstock as he ponders what the next step is, "Lady Siobhan, would you allow me to take a look at your room and where you stored the mantle? Perhaps the thief left some small clues."

With a nod from Siobhan, Maggie opens the door to the room and reveals a simple arrangement familiar from other stays elsewhere. The round room has a bed set behind curtains to the side, and a large table set with a few cups and bowls waiting to be taken aside. A lady’s set of brushes, combs, and such sits off to the side on a shelf. Several pegs hold ropes that garments might be hung from, secured by their fibulae pins. The plentiful lanterns and candles don’t help with the room being dark, and there is an embroidered coverlet on the bed that probably belongs to one or other of the ladies. Their bags are strewn about on the floor and the bed; clearly the outburst propelled them into motion earlier.

“Lady Calybrid will reach Amesbury if I have any say about it,” Siobhan murmurs. “I swore to see her to God when her husband passed, may his soul rot.” She bites back saying more, and steps aside.

When Elrick steps inside, he does with care and his eyes takes in what details he can with thoroughness. As he had feared, bags are already littered around the floor and bed, not left where they originally were. His lips do thin slightly when Lady Siobhan curses Lady Calybrid's late husband, but does not comment as it is not his business. However, he does offer, as a knight is duty-bound to, "If the knights that were escorting yourself and Lady Calybrid are not able to perform their duties due to sickness, I am sure I can convince Lady Eirian to make a minor change in our route so that we can see you two safely to Amesbury.

With that offered given, the Laverstock returns to his investigations, looking at the bags that are strewn about, asking without glancing over his shoulders, "Which bag was the mantle stored in?"

Critical success.
Elrick checked his Awareness of 10, he rolled 10.

Maggie inches in after Siobhan and shuffles over towards the bed, pointing to a rather unimpressive leather sack with several attached buckles. ”This one. You see it’s still got other things in it.” Her thick accent is heavier, given the agitation following her on this issue.

Elrick can make short work of several of the bags and determine certain anomalies. At least one set of valuable prayer beads is visible, and there are several rather fine sets of clothing visible. More interesting, there are men’s hose folded up messily in a corner on a chair, and they look much darned. Whomever came through, if any, also overlooked a metal knife and other bits of travel gear. The bag itself still has a few items in it, clearly rifled through, either in haste or by a potential thief. It might be hard to countenance how a mantle might actually fit in there, unless squished tightly.

"Thank you, Mistress Maggie." Elrick says with a slight nod of his head as he moves closer towards the bed. His hand remains at his side for now, not wishing to disturb the bags any further with his own fumblings until he looked everything over where they have been left. Then, with his right hand, he may open the bags further to peek at the contents inside, seeing that it has not been emptied, which is puzzling as it still contains a few items in it.

The slightly confounded expression, the Laverstock looks back to the ladies and the maid, "Just how large is the mantle? I am surprised that you were able to fit it inside." There is a pause before he continues to point out a few other objects in the room, "And the thief is a pretty bad thief. There are other items of value that would be easy for him to carry out, "Those prayer beads were left alone, the other sets of clothes were also undisturbed, and that metal knife was not taken." Then he gestures to the hose in the corner of the room, "And who does that belong to?"

Siobhan looks less than happy regarding the situation, and clearly the affront done to her is something she takes personally. But she leaves Elrick time to look through her possessions as he sees fit. His comments do not generate much response from her, and beyond the chamber the sounds of a subdued common room are picking back up. She glares at the door as though it has personal responsibility for her trial.

“May be that a pagan has no need for beads, ” she points out, thereby incriminating a third of the population. Probably unintentional, if she’s Irish. The question of the hose makes her pause. “Those?” A glance follows. “My errand-page’s. Maggie, has he returned from the stables yet?”

Maggie flushes, still clenching her hands. “He ain’t got back yet.”

“Has not returned,” Siobhan corrects her. Maggie repeats herself.

When another party is introduced to the mix that was not mentioned before, Elrick narrows his eyes slightly. Waiting for the lady to finish giving the proper grammar lessons to her maid, he asks "The stables? Was he sent there for a purpose?" Seeing that there is nothing else he can do here as he has more or less inspected what he can, he decides that the stable would be the next best place, wanting to leave interrogating the patrons at the inn as a last resort. "Let us seek out this errand-page of yours, shall we? Maybe he has seen something or know something. Or at least allow us to narrow the time frame from when the mantle went missing."

Siobhan makes a sound of displeasure. “This is why I wanted every door locked and everyone accounted for. I suppose it cannot be helped. Maggie, go outside and if you see anyone try to leave, fetch us. The men are hopeless.” She reaches for her cloak and throws it around herself in a frisson of lavender. Accompanying Elrick back into the main room is easy, and there are many looks seeking resolution or a triumphant moment from the knight as he produces the mantle of Julius Caesar.

Okay, not so much. The stables are through the door and around the yard, not connected to the rest of the building on account of smell and animals. Eirian gives a querying arch of her brows, shifting on her seat to determine if Elrick needs her or will leave her to munching on bread. Calybrid, for her part, finally has her tea.

Alas, no moment of triumph is offered as the mantle was not found in the lady's room, which may not bode well for the innkeeper. But luckily, Elrick has chosen the next location of investigation to be the stables, so the commoners have been offered a brief reprieve before it is their turn to be placed under the magnifying glass.

The look from Eirian is returned with a slight shake of head, let his lady rest from their travels, this matter he will see to himself as the burden of duty was placed upon him. "Lady Siobhan, it would be unfair to the innkeeper to have his place of business barred. But rest assured, if anyone tries to leave before your mantle is discovered, we will have them searched. As is our right." Words are used in attempt to sooth the lady's displeasure as they head towards the stables in search of the errand-page. "My lady, does your errand-page have a task that involves your horses or the stable boys?"

Elrick checks his Awareness of 10, he rolled 15.

Siobhan follows Elrick through the main room, barely giving anyone but Calybrid a look. Her shoulders are back, the refined mask guarding her face. She plays her role, as he does his, a knight and a lady among the others. “Indeed, he was to check that the horses were fit for travel on the morrow, and they would be well kept. As my knights are preoccupied, I had Brus fill their duty.” That means likely four horses, maybe more, in the stables.

Heading out there is simple enough. The innkeeper holds the door open for them and they cross the court in darkening twilight to a dim building, low and divided by wood partitions. In some ways, the horse has a better time of it than the humans. Two grooms are at work throwing hay by the handful at one another. Another boy is deeper in, holding a curry comb.

Being use to stables at the Laverstock manor, Elrick is use to the set up with the smell of horses and stable boys doing their jobs. However, the dimness of twilight beginning to set him causes him to not see the stable boys as clearly, his eyes still adjusting to the disparity of light from inside the inn. "Brus? Are you here?" He calls out, trying to be patient but his tone has a serious edge to it.

The two stable boys stop throwing straw, hay, and dried horse dung at one another. They jerk into action when Elrick appears, startled and immediately acting exactly like the guilty parties they are. Nothing is going on here, no one can see anything, right. A high pitched, “Err, yes?” comes from one with straw sticking out of his hair. “That—Oh, him. Useless kid, he’s sitting around mooning at the horses.” This is spoken with contempt, like one should moon at the serving girls when not knocking them up. Accidents happen.

The young man mooning over the horse is actually brushing it. He looks up slowly at his name and peers out. “I don’t know you,” he says politely to Elrick. “Am I supposed to do something for the Lady Calybrid or the Lady a Ruile? They told me to be out here.” The slow, patient way he talks might suggest he’s a bit slow.

The Laverstock was not here for the two stableboys that were goofing around, so the horsing around is ignored, especially since he did the same when he was younger. "Thank you." Is all that is offered before Elrick heads towards the stall that belongs to the Lady Siobhan. Seeing the youth, and the way the young man talks, the knight allows him to finish before answer, speaking a touch slower himself to make sure what he says is understood. "I am helping Lady a Ruile with something, her mantle has gone missing and we are searching for it. So I need to ask you a couple of questions." Looking over the horse that Brus is working on, he does offer the creature a gentle pat.

The big boned chestnut is a rather tall horse, almost suited to being a plow horse or something a man of great size would ride to mow down ents. Placid eyes regard the knight and the great nose nuzzles at Brus in hopes of a meal. None forthcoming, but he uses the comb to run through the soft summer coat and shortened mane.

“Lady a Ruile lost her mantle?” Brus repeats. He stops combing for a moment, and will every time he speaks. “Oh no. She must be sad. I do not like her sad. She is very good to me.” He looks up at Elrick, his brown eyebrows scrunched together. “Is she sad?”

For Elrick, a horse does not have to be a charger or some other elegant and useful steed to be appreciated. He continues to pat the horse as his gaze looks over Brus. At first he was going to shake his head and answer that the lady is most wroth, but then her realizes he may have to waste time with the youth to explain the difference so instead he nods his head, "Yes, she is unhappy. So I need to help her find her mantle as soon as I can. Will you help me?"

Brus nods and puts the curry comb back on the wall where a peg holds such simple instruments. He has a long, loping stride and no difficulty reaching Elrick in good time. “Oh. Yes, I will help.” Stroking his face, he looks around. “What do you need?”

The other two stable hands are back to throwing straw and laughing a little too loudly.

"Brus, when was the last time you were in the lady's room?" Elrick asks, keeping the questions simple and direct instead of confusing the poor boy with too many details. For now, he will again try to narrow down the time-frame of when the mantle went missing.

The boy thinks on it for a time, and says, “After lunch. I stayed there until she told me to come here. The Knights are sick.” He holds his belly and makes a grimacing face. “They try to hide it, but I know they are sick. In the jakes all day long.“

That suggests the Knights are in terrible shape, at least.

That, at least, narrows down the window of potential thievery down to after midday meal, which does help as he tries to piece it together with the timeline that the two ladies offered up earlier. That means the mantle would have gone missing sometime in the afternoon, possibly at the second devotions with Lady Calybrid or when they visited the innkeeper's wife's garden.

The news of the knights, though, is worrisome but that is a concern for later. A potentially major one that may need to be addressed to the Earl at a later time. For now, he continues with the questions for the boy, "Were any of the lady's bags out of place? And did you notice anyone watching the ladies while in the inn?"

“They all look at her. She's beautiful,” says Brus, awed in the way of young men around powerful women. ”I know they feel jealous. They have angry faces when she turns away. All the ladies get that sour face, except Lady Calybrid. She doesn't get sour about anyone no more since she took a veil.” He shakes his head.

Elrick checks his Recognize of 7, he rolled 4.

Brus seems to be hesitating about something.

When the slow youth goes on a slight rant instead of answering his question, Elrick listens with patience, which appears to be rewarded. This isn't what he was asking for but it does serve a purpose in placing motive on this crime. When Brus begins to hesitate though, Elrick says in a light but encouraging tone, "Go ahead Brus, you adore the lady, don't you? I am here to help her. Help her return to her something she treasures."

Elrick checked his intrigue of 3, he rolled 12.

Critical Success!
You make a check for Brus Trusting at 16, you rolled 16.

Rant would be overkill. Brus simply speaks what he thinks, and no anger flutters through his voice like laundry flapping in the wind. He reaches up to the neckline of his tunic, pulling the fabric back onto his shoulder again. “Lady a Ruile is a good woman. She wouldn’t like me talking.” He sucks his cheeks in and looks back at the horse, almost longing for the dark familiarity of the velvet night in a stable. Arms slump and he gulps his breath. “I… I c-c-can’t. I ask your promise you won’t h-h-hurt her. Please,” he starts to stammer as he speaks quickly, faster than anything up to now. “I’m afraid for her. Don’t l-l-let her be hurt. Y-you’ll not like it, she won’t like it.”

Now Elrick looks a touch puzzled because at first, it appears that Brus may adore the lady when he speaks of how wonderful she is and afraid that he would hurt her. Then there is the fear, as if he was afraid to something that would cause her trouble. "Brus, I won't hurt her. I am a knight, and we are sworn to protect the innocent and the ladies. Lady a Ruile is a noble lady and I will see to her protection. I have already offered to escort her to Amesbury if her knights are not capable due to their sickness."

Elrick checked his awareness of 10, he rolled 2.

"That's the prob-b-blem," stutters Brus, and he clenches his hands at his side. "You will defend the Lady and that's right, v-v-very right, but the other l-l-lady. She won't have n-n-no protection except me." He grabs a handful of his tunic and crushes the cloth in his hand, wringing it in a gesture of deep agitation. Whatever stirs him is very likely loyalty melted into a strong emotion, and it might seem oddly familiar to Elrick if the Laverstock knight has the presence of mind to imagine what he looks like defending his wife. He clamps his mouth together, his cheeks starting to burn red. "I can't fight you but I have to d-d-defend her. She's my… my… my lady now. And Lady a Ruile will be mad and you will hurt her because of the lady and I can't. I just can't."

The agony that Brus is in is certainly extraordinary and as Elrick continues to study the youth, it begins to dawn on him. "Brus, my oath is to protect /all/ ladies. I will not raise a hand against the other woman, or against you." And if the errand-page is this twisted by dual loyalties, the Laverstock can begin to figure out that the person responsible for the missing mantle is Brus's lover or who he is in love with. "Lady a Ruile will be mad, but we will resolve this peacefully. Tell me, who is your lady."

The poor page looks up at Elrick, and if he thinks about it too hard, his expression starts to fall into fear. Doubt is a dark, torn shadow. "Breaca," he says weakly. "Breaca d-d-de T-t-tilshead." The name is mangled as he goes on, his teeth chattering, and he loosens his grip on the tunic to try and stand up straighter. "She pledged herself to me. Promised. I have to… to treat her right. Lady a Ruile won't like this, no."

Love… Elrick knows first hand the trouble it can bring, but also knows the feeling to feel such passion for another. Releasing a light sigh, he shakes his head slightly as he approaches Brus, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder, "Lady a Ruile won't like this, you are right. But if what you and Lady Breaca feel for each other is real, then it is also precious. Tell me, to treat her right, did you intend to gift her Lady a Ruile's mantle?"

Brus shudders a little, and he shakes his head. "No." He crosses his arms and rubs them, as though cold in the warm summer twilight. Looking around, he buttons his dark gaze on his simple leather shoes. "She said it would ease our life. That Lady a Ruile would forget and it wouldn't be no harm."

Now there lies a thorn, a nugget of suspicion creeping up on Elrick, but he will treat Brus gently. "Was this your lady, Lady Breaca's suggestion to you? That if you take the mantle from Lady a Ruile, then she won't notice? And would eventually forget?" The poor young man may have just been used like a unfortunate pawn in a battle between ladies.

The young man stays completely silent and continues to stare at his feet, possibly memorizing every crack in the dirt under them to a microscopic degree. His shoulders droop.

"You can tell me, Brus. I am here to help you as well, not just Lady a Ruile." Elrick says, trying to convince the boy to finish the tale. The final piece of the puzzle is there but he would prefer if the youth produces the mantle himself. "We need to make this right. For you and for Lady a Ruile."

Elrick checked his app of 14, he rolled 13.

You make a check for Brus Trusting at 16, you rolled 10.

A knight holds a certain wonder and allure to them. Even the meanest constitute a symbol of justice and, by extension, Arthur's own power radiating through their person. At least that's the intention, or it could be the sword intimidates a boy no older than seventeen and hardly the brightest man in the yard. Brus shuffles his feet and tries to man up to the burden put on him, gulping, his Adam's apple bobbing hard. Something in Elrick's words strikes a chord, a feel-good promise of things going right. Poor kid probably has no chance to live out the demise of the dream, unaware that many would harm him given the opportunity.

With that admission in place, Elrick nods his head and offers a reassuring squeeze to Brus's shoulder when the young lad is brave enough to speak of the truth. "Brus, give me the mantle and we shall return to the inn. I will talk to Lady a Ruile and have this properly sorted out. You have my word that I will do the best I can to calm the lady, that this was a misunderstanding." The Laverstock did not promise that he would succeed, knowing that it would be an incredibly tall order, but he will most definitely try. One romantic to another it seems.

"I don't… um…" Flaming bright red at the cheeks and brow, the creeping colour runs all the way into Brus' neck. He twitches his shoulders and edges sideways, sidling as a horse might. Shying from the task and his hair prickling, he says under his breath in a rush, "It's in the… the…. nightsoil?"

Elrick checked his valorous of 15, he rolled 18.

Why? Why would you do this, Brus. Is what Elrick really wanted to ask but instead, he tries to steel himself to have to go to where the nightsoil is located and claim the object. But it is poo, who would in their right minds willingly dig into a pile of poo to retrieve an item? The Laverstock is unable to find the courage in this situation to do it himself and with a tinge of embarrassment, put the responsibility on the youth. It is his fault, isn't it? "Brus, let us go where you hid it and retrieve it. We should… probably clean it first before returning it to the lady."

Dogs go through piles of their own waste for interesting items. People pick all sorts of objects from the nightsoil in search of wealth all the time. Manure on the fields is a part of planting for certain lovely crops or flowers, too. Though who conceals a woman's mantle in a pile of shit? Evidently Breaca de Tilshead and poor Brus, that's who. He cannot spare anyone the horrors of the situation and he is still flaming red like an apple, trying to hide his face from the world. "I.. er… don't… the knights made it awful in there." Right, the knights with the gripes? Gods smile on their favoured fools boldly. He pinches his nose and starts shuffling off in no great hurry towards the jakes, basically a board with holes punched in it seated over a pile for the nightsoil collection. The room is cold, stinking of methane, and incredibly dark without a light in there.

Elrick would offer a torch, except he doesn't want to blow the outhouse up with himself and poor Brus in it. So he would just stand guard outside like a dutiful knight, trying not to think about the knights, with their sickness, and the mantle that is no doubt covered with the results of the sickness. Pleasant thoughts, and he can't think of Eirian now, not wanting to have her in the same orbit as what the young lad is doing right now. They will most definitely have to clean it before heading back to the inn and to get that filth out, it may take until the rising of the sun over the horizon.

Brus stops before the door covered by a drape of heavy cloth. He nods jerkily towards the dark place, a candle stuck out at an odd angle from a bracket some distance away. "We… um. W-we put it in there. Dumped it in. I don't know where it is now. You gotta fork through it all, I think."

Stables aren't so different from nightsoil, really. Lots of manure, and mucking out stalls takes the same tools. In fact, said tools are located around the back of the building.

That makes sense and Elrick nods his head, "I will go take a look then, Brus, you stay here and wait." On the move again, the Laverstock would head back to the building that shelters the horses and the stableboys to retrieve the appropriate tool for the job. The only thing he is afraid of is that while they are fishing for the mantle, they may inadvertently drag it through more of the shit. Would Lady a Ruile even want the item back at this point?

Elrick checked his awareness of 10, he rolled 9.

Elrick rolls 2d6 and gets (2 3) for a total of: (5)

The pile of soil is exactly as mucky and horrible as Elrick can imagine. The encrusted tools stand apart, a butt full of water propped off to the side beside a handcart, equally chalky in dirt. These have grooved out a well-worn trail probably towards the nearest field since inns do produce a rather healthy amount of 'special' soil for agriculture. At least some effort has been made to keep the area somewhat clean and tidy, and there are huge, scarred blacksmith's gauntlets to wear at least. Elrick is free to start digging whenever he likes.

A long look is given to Brus first but then without further words exchanged, Elrick heads over to where the blacksmith gauntlets rest so he can slip them on. And if there is a large apron, he would put that on as well. The Laverstock's mission was to escort Lady Eirian to deliver a message. No problem they said, a cakewalk they said. Well, soon, he may be caked in poo while walking over it. But, duty is duty, and the quest for the missing mantle had fallen on him. So without further delay, he steps into the privy and uses the tool to begin scooping out the special soil, praying to Gwyn ap Nudd that the first scoop will be enough. This may be where the concept of the Claw Machine was discovered, except the prize is not a toy but a lady's mantle that has seen much better days.

Brus waits. Elrick told him to wait and so he does, shifting his weight from right foot to left. The look at the inn occasionally speaks to his anxiety for Breaca, Siobhan, and having a square meal. Not the pheasant, likely, but he can dream. He stands there as long as he can, staring down at his feet and back again. The cakewalk for him is burning while he blushes, and that is all he can do.

For Elrick, it's five minutes solid of shoveling shit, the lowliest of tasks. Peasants have five hundred words for poo, and they all come out with colour and consistency. Clay works or the neat logs, the short rabbit pellets, and then heavy shit, runny shit, shit that pours down like a sick flood of green mossy caramel in ways that the Laverstock can likely correlate to horses and their many stomach ailments. Digging through the dark means he at least doesn't know what splatters or he wears. Good, honest work is a shitshow, that's for sure.

But finally around five minutes of forking it to the man, he spots something unusual among the human waste, a very stained, dirty leather bag.

Nope, not the first scoop, or the second, or the fifth. But it takes five full minutes, five agonizing minutes of digging through worse than manure before he manages to strike gold. However, much to his surprise, it isn't a filth covered mantle that is discovered but a leather bag. "Brus!" He calls out to the young man, beckoning him over, "Did you put the mantle in the leather bag first?" Perhaps the boy is a savant! An innocent savant caught in the web that some ladies weave.

You make a check for Brus Dex at 10, you rolled 9.

Misery compounds misery but at least he has a bad to haul out. Black gold clings in clods to the bag, and the strap is mired in the waste left by the leaking back ends of the sick knights. Brus trots over when called, still pinching his nose. He tries to see his path over without stepping in any nightsoil, and actually rather succeeds at escaping that ignominious fortune. Elrick gets a slow look and the moment dawns as he sees whatever is dangling from a pitchfork. "Oh yes. Of course, the mantle has got to stay clean. What lady would want a dirty one?" he says, as if this is plain as the sun in the sky. "I suggested it. Breaca didn't think of it at all. Lady a Ruile is always clean as a marble."

"Well done, Brus. You are right, no lady would want a dirty one. Let us bring this to the water so we can clean off at least the top of the bag so the mantle can be retrieved while keeping it clean." Leaving the soil where it is, he begins bringing it over to where he recalls seeing the water. "Your hands are clean, right Brus? You will be the one to take the mantle out after I have done what I can with these gloves."

There's a great big keg of questionably clean water used to wash the tools, a horse trough, and other sources. Brus follows around the knight like an oversized puppy. "Yes. I keep them washed. Lady a Ruile doesn't want us to be filthy either." He looks at the bag and then wrinkles his nose. "I can get it out."

At first, Elrick would search for a smaller container or large ladle, to scoop some water out of the barrel, not wishing to contaminate the whole thing. If not, then a rag, so that he can dip most of it in water and wipe off the top of the sack as well as the strap. Only after doing a decent job of cleaning would the knight step away so that Brus can extract the mantle without getting any poo on himself.

Critical Fail!
Elrick checked his dex of 8, he rolled 20.

Decontaminating the sack of its filth takes some work, but Brus carries a handkerchief of sorts, and he sacrifices that in the name of Lady a Ruile. While he tries to get it open, Elrick drops the bag in the water and it sinks to the bottom of the butt. Well, isn't that frustrating. Brus yelps, "You gotta get it out!"

Oh shit, the glove was slipping. Slipping! No, stay on you damn blacksmith gloves that are a little too big for the Laverstock. He can feel the grip that the glove had with his hand starting to weaken and sure enough, it slackens enough that the glove is off, along with the bag that he was holding with it. Even without Brus yelping at him like a wounded pup, Elrick decides to say fuck it and reach in courageously to retrieve the shit covered bag, pulling it out quickly. "Dammit!" All that effort to keep himself clean was moot.

Out comes the soaked bag from the fouled water, but at least it's a diluted foul water. Poor Elrick. Brus has a knife at the ready for him. Not to murder the knight, but to spare the contents. He takes the dagger and slice the cheap rawhide thong holding the drenched leather sack closed. He helps break the bindings holding the bag shut, and unwrapping it with some care reveals a glimmer of richly embroidered cloth in lively emerald green and a gorgeous shade of luminous yellow, neat twining motifs of leaves and branches. Birds and small stitched animals prance among the foliage of the lovely knotwork. The thin thing isn't more than two or three inches wide, and probably fairly long given the bulk of it.

"Keep it clean, Brus. I'm going to see if I can find something to clean my hands with…" Hands and arms, and after this mess is resolved, Elrick will take a long, hot bath to scrape himself clean, perhaps even flaying himself in the process just to be sure. Now he begins to look around for another water source as this one is soiled. He will have to talk to the innkeeper as well, to order the stable boys to clean up this mess afterwards, but for now his own cleanliness is the priority. Lady Siobhan is no doubt anxiously waiting and a storm will be raised in the inn if there are any further delays.

Cleaning is a good thing, an important one nevertheless. And with that, Elrick is armed with the missing mantle. Though to him it looks exactly like a girdle, no doubt. Brus wrings his hands in anguish and says, "Remember, you promised to help Breaca. She's a good girl. This was our future. Now it's not there for us."

With mantle in hand, Elrick hears Brus's words and recalls his words earlier nodding his head, "Brus, before we go in, you must understand that life can be complicated. I suggest you remain in the common area while I lead Lady a Ruile into her room and Lady Breaca as well. So we can talk in privacy, as I promised, I will not harm either ladies." There is a pause before he continues, "But sometimes, things are not as they perceived, and it is my duty as a knight to see that the truth is made clear. For everyone."

Brus gives ground to the task of returning into the Hartshorn Inn. He doesn’t want to, that much is clear, but he still trails after Elrick at a trot. Inside the commons have restarted the business of eating and dining, for food will not hold on a knight’s investigation. Nonetheless, the subdued atmosphere suggests a measure of circumspect consideration on the innkeeper’s part. The travelers have not returned to the task of talking with any animation or moving around, and any fresh arrivals are going to be an awkward addition to the masses. The innkeeper’s wife is no longer tallying her ledgers, but keeping a watch over the hallway while the wench keeps serving food up from the little kitchen.

Eirian does look up at her husband when he returns, the raised arc of her eyebrows suggesting interest in his business outcome. Lady a Ruile and Lady Calybrid are nowhere to be seen, Maggie absent as well, though the reasonable chain of thought might be they returned to their rooms at the offense of seeing diners eat when a precious garment or accessory is missing. Heartbreaking!

At least Elrick brings good news for the innekeeper and his wife as he steps through the door with the trophy in hand, the mantle. But with the Lady a Ruile and Lady Calybrid not present, he is unable to present it to them, which may be a good thing as the Laverstock would not have wanted to in such a public setting. He does approach the innkeeper and say, "The mantle has been found, Master Innkeeper, you can return to your business as it does not involve you or your staff. Thank you for the cooperation you have shown." Then with a louder voice, perhaps as a gift to the man for his troubles, he says rather clearly for all to hear, "This is clearly an honest establishment."

With that little bit of diplomacy completed, Elrick now leads Brus to where Eirian is seated, most likely finished with the meal, "Brus, this is Lady Eirian. She is also a Lady and as I go seek out Lady a Ruile and Lady Breaca, I need someone to guard her. Can you do that for me, a favor for a knight?" He does offer his wife a slight nod, his hand holding the item that has gone missing. "My Lady, did you see where the other two ladies went? To their room I assume?"

The innkeeper waits on tenterhooks until Elrick returns, and then a look of pure relief seeps over him. He almost sags an inch when the knight delivers the news. “Oh very good. My thanks, Sir knight, my thanks. You may find yourself here for the evening without cost and, of course, all meals and drink will be covered,” he mutters, trying not to let the others onto the depths of his profound satisfaction. His wife might have words about this loss of income, but likely not. He puffs up slightly and clears his voice. “Of course we are glad to have the estimation of a man like yourself. Now, then, everyone! Eat, drink, and let’s continue on well.”

Eirian reaches for another of the pieces of bread, and she smiles up at the young man approaching her. The scent of both men, especially her husband, is likely to be responsible for the faint paling of her already fair skin, but she can proceed on without complaint in this affair. “I would be glad for the company,” she says to the young man, her tone friendly for all the questions pile up in her luminous blue eyes. Folding her fingers around her knees, she moves aside on the bench. “Please, do sit if you like, master Brus. Ah, Sir Laverstock, the lady said she had her prayers to see to and the other woman and her maid accompanied her. They went back to their room, as far as I saw.”

There is certainly an apologetic look on Elrick when he sees Eirian pale a bit when she smells him. The hell he has gone through he will not describe, for the sake of anyone's appetite. When his wife lets him know where the ladies and the maid went, there is a nod, followed by a bow an

d smile that is just for her, "Thank you, My Lady." He won't say that he will be back shortly because now comes the second part of the quest, to make sure the ladies don't burn the place down or end up murdering each other. Heading down the hall that leads to Siobhan's room, Elrick knocks on the door while announcing himself, "Lady a Ruile? It is Sir Elrick de Laverstock."

Hell will be met with high water and a woman who knows how to reap a garden of its saponin-rich flowers, for one. Cooking ashes make an excellent addition for a good soap, and Eirian’s skill for working these factors together may benefit Elrick in smelling less like a privy and more like a man again. That said, she manages to keep the bread she ate where last she left it, and much working of her throat indicates that burden. She and Brus will no doubt be the most awkward company.

The hallway leads back to the rooms, divided up by their doors. The first where Siobhan is remains shut until Maggie opens it a crack, peering out. “They’re at their prayers,” she says in her indecipherably thick accent, but to a muffled sound from within, opens it wider for Elrick to pass. Calybrid is on her knees facing east, roughly, and murmuring quietly with her hands folded. Siobhan does no such thing, drinking from a metal cup and rising reluctantly when the door opens. “Sir Laverstock. You have news for me, or has this business with my page proved insufficient? The knights are probably conscious still if you need anything.” To the point, that’s her.

When the door opens and Maggie informs him of prayer time, Elrick nods his head understandingly until he is bid to enter. Stepping inside, he inclines his head respectfully, his hands placed together at his back for now along with the mantle. He then nods to the praying form of Lady Calybrid, not wishing to disturb her, "I have news, My Lady, though I can offer it after the Lady's prayers are finished?" He answered in a quiet tone.

“She may be here for the rest of the hour,” Siobhan says simply. “I do not think we interrupt her if we keep our voices down. Come then. Maggie, bring over those buns the kitchen woman delivered. Please sit, Sir Laverstock, and tell me what you discovered?” She gestures to a chair and sits down, smoothing her skirt out around her legs. There could be more to say, but alas, she bides her tongue.

Another glance directed towards Lady Calybrid, Elrick finally nods his head as if in agreement since it may be another hour and his patience can wear thin, despite having gone through such trials already to discover the mantle. Before taking a seat though, he brings the mantle forth, offering it to the Lady Siobhan, "Your mantle, I believe, My Lady?" He says in a quiet, hushed tone.

For a moment, Siobhan sits there silent with her hands out. Calybrid’s prayers continue as she clicks the beads he saw earlier, though she does look back over her shoulder, her white veil swaying slightly as she goes. The pause lingers only a moment, her fingers moving the next bead along. Maggie is a bit more abrupt: she gasps. A sharp look silences her, though mostly to avoid the girl making a fool of herself.

“If I may?” Siobhan awaits the approval before she takes the slim, embroidered girdle. There are only a few seconds really necessary to confirm it, but she turns it over a few times, then reveals another intricate bit of workmanship: an oak tree, acorns festooning the bends, and a small eagle. “There. My husband and my arms, worked together. He of Connaught, I of Salisbury.” Well, relative locations of birth; she isn’t Earl Robert’s missing aunt or anything. “Very much so, Sir. I will owe you more than my thanks for returning this.” Since a piece of leather, embroidery, and the embellishments of stones alone is worth a hefty amount.

When it is indeed the right item, Elrick feels a bit relieved that he did not dig through shit to find the wrong thing. If it had turned out to be the wrong item, he may have just plowed through the window and walked all the way back to Sarum. For now though, he looks at the additional delicate piece of art that was revealed, a look of genuine appreciation shown. "Thank you, My Lady, it was my duty to assist you as you had requested. However, before we continue, I would ask you to keep an open mind as I have more to tell you." His way of a gentle remind to Siobhan to keep calm and quiet, not just for Calybrid's sake. "Do you know of a Lady named Breaca de Tilshead?"

The name is not reason for Siobhan lifting her head as she pets her girdle. All seems to be well in her little world for the moment, a moment due to shatter in seconds. Chances are, Elrick vanishing as this is not a belt from a midden missing from a lady’s care would have his wife in a firestorm of epic proportions. As it is, she shakes her head. Maggie practically vibrates to the point of exploding, though, and finally the Irish noblewoman sighs. A gesture gives her leave to speak.

“That’s the girl who cleaned the room,” blurts out the ginger. “Ain’t no lady though, no with tha’ scowl. Face like she sucked sour milk an’ all.”

Siobhan gestures. “There you have it. We are the only noblewomen here, what with yourself and the other woman excluded.” Sorry, Eirian doesn’t get a name.

It is hard not to watch Maggie, almost in peculiar interest as the young girl almost bubbles over like a boiling pot with a covered lid. On that note, Elrick can only nod his head at the news as he releases a sigh, knowing that this will complicate things, especially for poor Brus. "Very well. My Lady a Ruile, are you pleased with the outcome? That the mantle has been returned to you safely and unharmed?" Now, to convince the ladies to leave the dealing of justice to him. "As promised earlier, if your knights are unable to accompany you and Lady Calybrid to Amesbury tomorrow, I will be glad to provide escort with Lady Eirian."

“It is done, though that … thief…” Siobhan’s eyes narrow a fraction. “She must be dealt with. How did she come in here? How has she obtained my things? We trust our property to not be rifled through and here, to think our trust is betrayed by a common girl.” Her teeth are briefly bared in great dismay when she frowns, finally wrapping up the mantle into a bundle and rising from the chair to put it away among the bags. Calybrid is startled enough to stop her prayers together, and then looks from knight to noblewoman and back.

“We will be glad of your company, Sir Laverstock, as you have shown capability. Now, it seems, I must go wring this daft girl’s neck with my own hands for daring at rudeness.” Siobhan may be small and fair, but her slim white hands would very certainly fit around a serving girl’s throat.

There is a shake of head as Elrick quickly corrects the Lady's assumptions, "It was not the girl, My Lady, not directly. Please, remain calm and stay here. Unfortunately, she may have fancied Brus with a flirting gaze and spun some beautiful story out of the tales that children are told. In the end, the idea was planted that they would be able to run off with the mantle to start a new life together." There he releases a sigh and shakes his head again, "Unfortunately, Brus was struck with the arrow of love which lead to this unfortunate circumstances. I understand you wish swift and harsh justice to be dealt out, but I would beseech you reconsider." There is a pause before he continues.

Siobhan is old enough to find no flight of fancy a possibility, and those who constitute a romantic idyll earn her narrowed eyes. “Brus? The boy is very good with animals and listens, but I cannot imagine he…” Then she puts her hand over her brow. “Yes. I can, a matter of point. That child has no guile and how some common slattern managed to hoodwink him is not beyond me. For I am certain that is the case, he was not plotting against me, whatever poison she drained into his skill.” She places her hands on the tabletop. “We have not even seen this woman except Maggie, though I could well and truly imagine she’s halfway to whatever sorry hovel she calls home rather than face recrimination for abuses against my person and mine. Beseech me however you will, Sir Laverstock, I know when I am within my right and when I am not. What stops me, then, from accusing her as a thief?”

"You are certainly within you right, but my concern was with Brus, My Lady, as well as the proprietor's reputation as well. The boy I would say deserves no punishment, as he has been in enough agony with the situation he was pushed into. He is indeed loyal to you, but the siren's call that affected him lured him to the rocks, unawares. Brus believes that foolish girl to be a lady of a noble manor, unfortunately." There is a pause as he glances towards the doorway, "As for that maid, I will speak with the innkeeper to find out where she lives. He knew nothing of this incident so I do not wish to impugn his good name. You need not trouble yourself further on this trip. After you arrive at Amesbury safely, I will ensure seek out the girl and her parents if that is who she is staying with." What kind of judgement Elrick would delivery would depend on the girl's age.

Clamping her mouth shut, the woman folds her arms across her chest and inclines her head towards the doorway. "Then go forth and do it. I will not be patient forever but I am not unreasonable, and I will not have it said I sought vengeance without consideration."

Maggie and Calybrid are left to the room, and neither of them are moving unless forced by the woman in question to do so.

If Elrick heads into the common room, he finds it much as the same as before.

Glad that Siobhan is at least agreeable in allowing him to carry out the justice, and also for not asking about the details of where the mantle was hidden, Elrick bows his head to the lady. "Thank you Lady a Ruile, you are most kind and understanding. I will see this handled properly, have a good evening." And hopefully that is the end for the night at least, he did promise her and her entourage that he will ride escort.

Departing from the room, Elrick exhales once more and returns to the common room, first heading to where Brus and Eirian are situated, "Brus, thank you for watching Lady Eirian for me. You may return to Lady a Ruile now, she has something to explain to you." For now, he wants the page-errand out of the way before he speaks to the innkeeper.

Brus gets up from the trestle table, almost falling over himself to get away from the petite noblewoman and return to the even smaller one he knows how to deal with. Something about the Salisbury folk and their ways probably has him horrified, though it should be noted he still vaguely smells of the stables and his departure is pleasing for all and sundry. Eirian might actually hope to restore her appetite and colour by the end of the night, if not breathing through her mouth. She nonetheless smiles a fraction towards Elrick in his passing, nodding to him. “Dinner will be available as soon as you prefer.” Which might translate in her world to ‘take a bath and do not return until you have the scent of a field of flowers about you.’

The innkeeper is busy filling cups and helping the kitchen manage all the different tasks a busy crowd, or a subdued one trying to normalize, brings. He’s not hard to spot, mopping his florid face.

The meaning is clear and it would have been something Elrick required of himself as well, he hates smelling like shit, perhaps a bit vain about his appearance and hygiene. After Brus departs, he nods to his lady wife in an understanding manner, "Of course, My Lady, please let the server know I will take dinner in our room after I have finished sorting something out with the innkeeper." It has been a very long day and the end is near, or so he hopes.

Then the Laverstock is off towards the innkeeper, waiting for him to finish dealing with another patron before requesting an aside with the man, "Master Innkeeper, a moment of your time please. I would like to speak with you in privacy." More for the other man's sake as it involves one of his employees, the cleaning maid.

A bit vain is fine where such matters involve the courtly set, as it establishes a valid sort of presence among those who like to smell better and avoid the worst of stenches. Eirian dips her head and rises from the table, sneaking a bun into the folds of her cloak, for one must always have a snack at the ready given her current state. It may barely show, but her appetite actually consists of more than cheese and fruit. At this rate, he'll be forced to actually fetch milk or chicken. The knight's approach to the innkeeper warrants a look and he nods to the bar; the two knights are gone and the wench is run off her feet caring for ten people who want to eat, drink, and be merry. In plain sight just might do the trick, and assures no one can claim he was unreasonable. "O'er here then, and let's have done with your findings. Be sure you got what you need. Bucket and sponge?"

Even he's assuming that Elrick wants to at least attempt a dry bath. Or throw himself into the well and let the two straw-throwing stableboys haul him out after polluting the Hartshorn Inn's water supply. Fabulous time, that. He puffs out his cheeks and starts drawing another cup of ale, preparation or looking busy. "Then, what?"

Heading to the unoccupied bar area, Elrick leans against the counter and releases a sigh as he is reminded of his state of cleanliness, "Afterwards I will ask for a hot bath if possible or something to clean… this filth off of me. But to matters of business first, the findings. I have already spoken Lady a Ruile about it and returned the mantle to her, she is allowing me to deliver justice as is my duty instead of claiming it herself." There is a pause before his eyes focuses on the other man, gaze narrowing slightly, "As I have said earlier, I believe you to be an honest proprietor of this establishment, that has not changed. But one of your staff is not as honest, the maid named Breaca?" There is a pause again after the name is offered, "She spun wool over the lady's errand-page's eyes, tales of how she was a lady from the family of Tilshead, and how she would like to run away with Brus to start a new life. But they would need the lady's mantle to do so. So as you can see, her hand did not physically take the mantle, but she was the puppeteer, the worst of the two in my eyes."

"Deliver justice?" That brings the innkeeper out of his cheery, florid stupor for something entirely else. He stops rubbing down the bar with his cloth, the handsome block of wood already in fairly fine condition. "Breaca?" That brings him up short and he chews on the name. "That little mousy girl has a run of dishonesty? I never put her to it. She hardly says a word to me, flinches whenever I get by." And given he's a bit of a loudmouth, the chances his voice echo through the great room are sufficiently good reason for a girl of uncertain temperament to shy away.

He squints over the room, obviously displeased, given the beetling of his brow, the way his jowls quiver. "A pretty slip if you care for the sort. I see why a boy might put his hat out for her, though not to me. What then, you want to question her? Kitchen's mad busy as it is, not going to lighten up." Then he spots his wife and the wheels turn, giving a conclusion. "If you ask the wife about her garden, you might have some quiet out there if you need. I assume you need, and won't haul her out in the courtyard for a whipping. Supposing you need to, best warn the stablehands. They'll want the horses prepared and tacked. Girl like that probably screams to the high heavens."

Hearing that the girl is usually quiet is not surprising, Elrick nodding his head understandingly, "Perhaps she needed an easier mark." And poor Brus is certainly an easy mark, especially for a pretty little thing. When the suggestion is offered, the Laverstock appears to consider before nodding again, "That may be for the best, I will speak to her in the gardens. Punishment has not been determined yet, it will determine on her answers to my questions. Do you know where she stays, with her family on a farmstead nearby perhaps?"

Brus isn't much of a mark. More of a rut, really, he's that simple. The innkeeper makes an unhappy noise at the back of his throat. "Ask my wife. She did the hiring, at least when the womenfolk and maids go. I pay them and make arrangements when needed for them." No telling what that means. "She can answer the questions. Her references were good though. She's more particular than I am."

The wife in question is still assisting with getting meals out and welcoming the occasional diner to the pleasures of ale and pheasant. She's easy to find there in the thick of it, and call over as need be.

A final nod is given to the innkeeper as Elrick is being passed off to the wife so he will courteously wait again, choosing the more amicable approach than heavy handedly laying his authority down to demand her attention. When there is a window of opportunity where she isn't dealing with someone or greeting another guest, the Laverstock makes his approach, "Mistress, a moment of your time please. There is something of import that we need to discuss, in privacy." Once more wishing to pull her away from the center of attention.

Said opportunity arises after a minute or two. She knows how to read a crowd, as her livelihood depends on it. The inn keep's wife drifts in closer and finally smiles up at the knight, a forced expression that shows a keenness in her eyes that prohibits no fools. Her florid husband might be the business owner, but chances are fair to good she provides substantial brains. Stocky and well-built, if a bit generous, she says, "Mistress Betrys, if you like. It's not bound to be good with you looking like that. Now, come along, let's walk to the door here and keep a smile. No need to upset the hens, you know how it is." Talking while she ambles over to the exit he took to the courtyard, she gives a peek through the door nudged open by her elbow.

"Well, the gardens are this way, since you asked." He didn't, and it matters not one whit.

Inclining his head respectfully, Elrick can tell that it may be easier dealing with the innkeeper's wife, at least to find a solution to this mess. "Of course, Mistress Betrys, and you would be right." Court courtesy allows him to wear the mask rather easily, his visage showing others in the common area that nothing is wrong and that the Laverstock is merely visiting the gardens as an interested patron wont to do. When he is lead to the gardens, Elrick does take a brief look around to ensure no other visible ears are listening in, "Mistress Betrys, as your husband suggested, I am here to speak to you about your maid, Breaca." The name revealed first to see if the innkeeper's wife has anything to volunteer in response before he would move to the more direct concern.

Betrys, bar keep's wife and boon companion, enters the fragrant herb gardens that have more twine than the chalk downs have sheep. She flicks her fingers over her sleeves, picking at a loose thread, though it's a foolish idea to assume she misses anything. "Yes? We've had her since the winter. Did she leave the room dirty? Though I cannot think you actually saw your room yet," she says, scowling back towards Siobhan's general location. It might be wise to assume she doesn't care for the drama, either.

The herb garden is a blessing for Elrick as his nose is now tickled by the fragrances that linger in the air, a much more pleasant scent than what he had to go through. As for the subject of the maid, he can only shake his head as he speaks with a disappointed tone, "Unfortunately, it is much worse than that, Mistress Betrys. She is apparently the cause of the disappearance of Lady a Ruile's mantle. As I have said aloud earlier, I know you and your husband were not privy of the incident, so you are both honest owners of this inn. But I'm afraid your maid, Breaca, is of a different nature."

Elrick makes a check for Courtesy at 10, he rolled 17.

You make a check for Betrys Prudent at 13, you rolled 4.

"Then the girl can account for herself. I am not going to shield a viper to my breast," Betrys says quite flatly. "You stay here, for heaven's sake. You smell like the pigsty, and she can account for that, too." With that said, she rapidly re-enters the Hartshorn Inn and no doubt rustles the feathers. Elrick has about five minutes to cool his heels among the sage and rosemary, among other delicately scented plants that probably make the meals here delightfully rich and flavourful. Then out comes the innkeeper's wife again, escorting a girl she clutches the thin upper arm of. Breaca is pretty enough, a brunette of round face and long limbs, wearing a smock over her long dress. The look on her face is one part confused, another part angry.

"I don't see why this is necessary, Mistress, I was airing out the linens like you asked!" she protests, staggering to a stop in front of the garden. Then she tries to shake off Betrys' hand. "Oh no! No, you can't make me, I'm not that kind of girl! I won't be no bedwarmer, you said this was a good inn. You'll ruin me."

She's given a good shake by the innkeeper's wife. "You ruin yourself, you addled duck. Saints preserve me but you shut your mouth and let him speak."

With the five minutes given, Elrick is able to come up with some sort of plan on how to address the girl and potentially what punishments he will mete out when she gives her side of the story. However, when the feisty girl is brought forth, the Laverstock is already unimpressed, especially since Breaca shows nothing in terms of remorse or guilt, still playing it off as if she were innocent. When Beatrys finishes speaking, the knight takes his turn, "You will be warming no one's bed, Breaca, especially not Brus's. I have found out what happened to Lady a Ruile's mantle, Brus told me the whole story. Now you have one chance at mercy here, use it wisely, for as a knight in service to Earl Robert, I am charged with dispensing the Lord's justice upon criminals."

Breaca looks between the knight and the innkeeper's wife, then frowns. "I don't know what you are talking about. Lady a Ruile is a guest. I cleaned her room, but you're making accusations I don't like." She shakes her dark chestnut head. "This isn't fair, I didn't even know what happened until the noise down in the common room got so loud everyone here to Amesbury would hear. How can you accuse me? All I've been doing is scrubbing the floor and turning the linens out."

And with that, Breaca only damns herself in Elrick's eyes as he sighs and shakes his head, "You were given one chance, Breaca. I had convinced Lady a Ruile to allow me to decide what punishment the guilty deserved and had you been forthcoming with your part in this, I would have been merciful." Once more, he shakes his head in disappointment, "Mistress Betrys, I'm afraid that Breaca here will no longer be in your service. Please find Lady a Ruile and tell her to join me here in the gardens along with Brus. She was most wroth and had ideas on what the punishment should be, I will allow her to determine it as is her right as the slighted party."

"What is he talking about? You can't just accuse me of something I didn't do!" Breaca's voice pitches high and she rounds on Betrys. "I'm not guilty of anything, I don't know what that man is talking about. Lady a Ruile's people talked to me a little, it's true, but they talked to everyone. I was only cleaning and listening to her endless demands to make her happy, and I was running around like there was no tomorrow. I don't see how you can blame me. How can you even blame me, you've never met me at all." She jabs a finger towards the knight, her chin shaking and her eyes bright in wrath and fear.

"Suit yourself, child. Throw yourself on the Lord's mercy and He may guide you to the truth," Betrys says. "I will fetch Lady a Ruile, and Lady Calybrid. She may have more mercy in her heart than some. Sir knight, know the girl is still a child. Nearly a woman, but a child, and whatever you do on her head is still something we must watch."

It appears that Elrick has finished speaking to Breaca, choosing to ignore her babbling as she continues to proclaim her innocence. In the back of his mind, the Laverstock knows that he is not perfectly sure she is guilty and had hoped to receive some sort of confession of the crimes so that this can all be ended, but since that was not the case, Brus will have to be the one to confirm that this girl is indeed his 'lady'. As for Betrys's words, he only nods in agreement, "I understand, but if a child is not properly taught on the rights and wrongs of the world, it would only allow the poisonous seed within her to flourish, she will become a much more dangerous woman when she matures." Today it is a hapless boy who is a bit slow in the head, tomorrow who knows she may prey on.

Lady a Ruile goes sweeping in, summoned by Betrys, and the frosty expression she wears holds an element of frightening composure. Any sufficiently advanced threat appears to be far worse when worn with the icy pallor of a wroth woman, and Siobhan is old enough and wise enough to wield her experience like a knife. Neither of those present quite wields displeasure as a present scourge, and her pent-up anger has not yet been unleashed, serving her like a chained predator. She inclines her head a fraction to Elrick, acknowledging him while dismissing Breaca, looking right through the girl as though no one else stands in the garden. Neither does she forfeit the right of silence, expectant with it.

When the Lady arrives, Elrick bows his head in greeting to her though no words are offered as of yet and he also has more or less dismissed Breaca. For now, he waits to see what Brus's reaction is, to see if there is recognition or if the one who is guilty has wrongly used the maid's name to mask her crimes, to frame another. A test amongst many being used by the Laverstock to ensure that the one that is guilty is indeed found.

Brus and Calybrid will be slower to return, since the boy is reluctant to show up and the slowed steps take some coaxing of the noblewoman. Her white veil and her prayer beads mark her as Christian, without doubt, and her soft voice guides him along. Breaca frowns when she sees the pair of them. "I don't like this," he says quietly. "I don't want to do this, my lady."

When the boy arrives in Calybrid's care, Elrick focuses his gaze on the youth, seeing and understanding his reluctance to partake in the judgement of someone who may have shackled his heart. But this story is not one of budding romance but tragedy and betrayal. One which stirs the knight's heart, but in a dark manner. "Brus." He calls out the name, in a commanding tone to get the young man to look up, to look towards them, and at Breaca.

Siobhan does not even turn around to look at Brus, and he withers the closer he gets to the short blonde radiating deep displeasure. She laces her fingers together at her stomach and waits, while Calybrid demonstrates a quiet composure that none of them can really touch, deflecting fear by being one foot already in the church's realm. She guides Brus along with a touch of her hand at his arm, then says softly, "Have no fear. We are with you, and Lady Siobhan has always treated you well."

Three of them stand apart from Breaca, Beatrys in the middle of the garden already crowded by bodies. The maid thrusts her chin up defiantly like any teenager might, her shoulders rounded and defensive, her hands bundled in her robe. Brus doesn't even look at her, turning bright red again. Maggie's nowhere to be seen, probably a good thing or she might throw a clod of dirt at them. Nor are Lady a Ruile's knights. The poor page mutters something almost inaudible, but it might be 'Yessir.'

"Brus, I'm afraid you have been lied to. Your Lady Breaca is no lady." Elrick says as he dons the mantle of judge in this gathering, addressing the young man who is one of the victims of the crime that has been committed. "You have been betrayed, tricked into stealing something precious from Lady a Ruile. I know I have promised you that I would protect and not harm the ladies involved. However, the only ladies present are Lady a Ruile and Lady Calybrid."

Breaca gawps, her mouth hanging open as the news comes in. She clicks her teeth shut, jaw clenched, and stares at Betrys as if expecting her to intervene. When that fails to happen, she takes a step back, looking around the courtyard like she might run. It doesn't happen but clearly anger bubbles up in her bearing.

"She said she… we were in love… are, um," Brus keeps fighting to speak, and it's at a slow mutter, since he cannot bear to raise his voice or his face. His blush burns in hot red light, an embarrassed lantern. His shoulders twitch and he shies back, but Calybrid pets his arm, whispering confidences.

As the young man begins to stutter, Elrick waits until the Lady Calybrid helps settle Brus before speaking, "I understand, Brus. Unfortunately, those were just honeyed words she used to trick you, to poison your thoughts and loyalty to your Lady a Ruile." There is a pause, letting that sink into the unfortunate youth before he issues another command, "Brus, look up at us. You feel no need to be embarrassed, there have been men older than you, stronger than you, who have fallen prey to such tricks."

Brus jerks his chin up and stares. "Um. Um." He stammers and repeats himself, and then stares at Elrick with a panicky rabbit look. He doesn't have anything else to add, though, and Siobhan continues to play the ice queen while Calybrid acts a near saint.

Only Betrys looks remotely bothered by any of this. "Oh, boy, stop acting like you might be the first person taken by a woman's wiles. Breaca de Tilshead, you surely have something to say for yourself other than 'It wasn't me,' yes? For your tenure here is done if you've committed what he says, and shame on you, shame, for leading some poor boy astray."

Only when Betrys speaks up does Elrick move, shifting to a position that is more or less behind Breaca so that she doesn't turn and run as attention is now being shifted from the boy to the young lady. The Mistress's words were more than enough as it will force the girl to speak, her last words of defense before he will allow Lady Siobhan to render judgement on the guilty.

Breaca flares at the words, bristling even as her voice comes out as an angry squeak. "I'm not responsible for any of this. I haven't taken a thing from you and if he thought I was in love with him for being nice, I can't help that. Can't control what he does or thinks."

And those words are what damns her, for when Breaca shows no remorse or guilt for doing what she did, for manipulating Brus, Elrick's decision is clear. Looking over to Siobhan, he nods at the ice cold lady who has been silent the entire time, "Lady a Ruile, what do you feel is a fitting punishment for this girl, who is not of age to be a woman just yet?"

"She is old enough to profess marriage, she is old enough to stand as a woman. She is no maid of thirteen winters." Siobhan assesses the maid with a critical eye. "You are how old, girl?"

Breaca scowls at her and snaps, "Seventeen."

"Point enough," Siobhan goes on, cutting every word and gives a minute twitch of her fingers. "Seventeen, she knows the law enough, and cannot claim her parents did not teach her. We are all aware the punishments for theft and deceit. They blight her character and she deserves no better. Then you are the arm of the law, Sir knight, what do you advocate for her? For she is by my estimation a woman, and if she were seated before I and my lord husband, we would treat her so."

Elrick is silent for a moment as his gaze drills into the guilty girl, going through the punishments that are usually doles out for thieves. Both whipping and maiming are off the table as even though she may deserve it for the severity of her crimes, as well as how proud she is of her accomplishment, Breaca is still a young woman and he will not physically harm her. In the end, he comes up with what he believes to be fair, in his mind, as punishment for her actions, "Breaca, for your transgressions, you will be placed in the stocks in Wilton for seven days for attempting to steal a noble lady's possession. As for the conceitedness that you have shown to this incident, your hair will be shorn off completely while you serve your punishments in the stocks, a lesson of humility, one that you are in dire need of." With the punishment proclaimed, he looks back to Siobhan, "Lady a Ruile, I trust the judgement is sufficient?"

Siobhan rubs her thumb over her cuticle, and then straightens. "A tennight," she corrects. A small prompting from Calybrid causes her to amend her statement. "She may have Sunday off for her prayers, provided that someone can see her to a Christian house of worship. Or a priest of her gods will observe her. I think having her paraded shorn through Wilton and declared as a thief will amend her future prospects and set her on the right path."

Calybrid murmurs, "Amen," and crosses herself with quiet dignity. Brus is busy trying to catch flies with his open mouth and then he stares at Siobhan. Then Elrick. "Why? She's just… we just wanted to marry. That's all we wanted. Why's she put in the stocks?" His questions are made with the broken sound of a child in a man's body, innocence cracking into pieces.

When Siobhan makes her own corrections to the punishments that was laid out by Elrick, with Lady Calybrid's more forgiving touch included, the knight nods his head before turning to Beatrys, "Mistress Beatrys, I believe we will have the girl bound and secured in the stables. Please have someone summon the guards so that she can be taken to Wilton for punishment as Lady a Ruile, Lady Calybrid, Lady Eirian, and myself still have tasks to see to tomorrow."

As for Brus's innocent question, Elrick can only explain as he did earlier, "Because that was a lie, Brus, one that she has told you so that you would do her bidding. She convinced you of what you wanted, in order to get what she wanted, which was your lady's mantle. That is called stealing, and for some, the punishment is removal of both hands. Your lady is forgiving though, allowing her to serve ten days in the stocks, letting Breaca keep her hands. A kindness, Brus. Now it is best if you escort the ladies back inside for we will be traveling to Amesbury in the morning."

"What, you expect we're to take her to Wilton ourselves? Through Sarum?" Betrys sounds a bit shaken by this fact, jerking alive from the ledger of thoughts and instructions in her head. Hands smooth over her robe and she says, "Amesbury's the nearest big town unless you can find yourself a knight. This late we would have to find a rider, though on the morrow it might be possible. I will try to see to the arrangements."

Breaca's face is white as a ghost, and she screams, "You had no proof! You only had his word and he might have done it and blamed me for whatever this is. There's no justice here, none at all!" Tears start welling up in her eyes and pouring down her face in great rolls, and she backs away from the pair of them, her arms raised to ward off a blow. "I'm innocent. No one is listening to me at all, and you are no knight, you're a blackguard listening to a noble over a commoner, and you wonder so much why the people hate you. We all get hurt because you never listen to us, you think you're all always right and we're all wrong." It's a failed effort when Betrys grabs her like a hock of lamb, hauling her back towards the stables. A bellow from the innkeeper's wife brings the stableboys running out, goggle-eyed at the spectacle.

Brus, on his part, just crumples to his knees and stares at his hands. "I didn't want this. I never meant this. I didn't. I d-d-didn't, B-breaca…"

"I hate you!" she shrieks in response.

At Betrys's words, Elrick nods his head, "You are to make the arrangements, Mistress Betrys, and I choose Wilton because I serve as Lord Knight Earc's Knight-Warden, so I will be returning there once my duties with Lady Eirian is finished." As for the cries of the girl, it falls on deaf ears as the knight no longer is in any mood to listen to her whining. He offers no more words for Brus though as the boy is not under his care, he has done what he could for the poor youth and it is up to Lady Siobhan to deal with the young man. Elrick's gaze does return to the lady though as he says, "Lady a Ruile, I believe my duty here comes to an end. I trust it is to your satisfaction? If so, I will have to see to my own state…" He will not speak further of it as he does not wish to revisit the experience of having to dig through human waste to reclaim the prize. All he wants now is a hot bath and if not, then enough hot water with soap to scrub himself clean. He will not be returning to his lady wife in his current manner.

Lady Siobhan, Lady Calybrid, and Brus take their leave, the poor page trying to stifle his desire to cry and the other two escorting him back into the room to spare his dignity and their own. Breaca's screams are not lessening any until a stablehand shoves a gag in her mouth, and the arrangements are set out by the very unhappy couple owning the Hartshorn Inn. A truer name might never be found, for the broken hearts caused by perfidy and anger will leave a long mark in some lives than others.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License