(514-12-16) Willcott Investigation
Summary: Claire, Drustan and Letha travel to Willcott to investigate the murders of several Willcott family members.
Date: December 16, 514
Related: None
claire drustan garannon letha 


eirlys elsane maeve morlois trindham 

While the winter across Britian has been particularly harsh, it has let up enough as the spring tries to take root in mid-January. However, with the warming temperatures comes the news. There had been numerous deaths caused by influenza across the manors, but the news from one manor hours was of murder most foul. A messenger from Willcott sent a small team from Sarum to investigate the crime, and of course, the invitation was extended to the Stapleford house, as it was their family that was involved in the murder as well.

Waiting for those arriving is Sir Trindham, the Head of House Willcott. With a dark and heavy cloak over his shoulders, it weighs on the young knight heavily as he watches the Churigeon and her team come by, as he handles some of the other details, in paticular the bodies of the deceased.

It feels odd, to return to the manor that was his home in his too brief childhood. Father Garannon's usually so serene demeanor is visibly dampened today; the gaze he casts about the place heavy with sentiment. But his manner is composed, hands folded in the small of his back as he walks over the courtyard, his head lowered just so, in acknowledgement of the tragedy that is looming over everything else. Garannon had arrived with the others, on horseback, a strange sight as below the warm cloak, he is wearing his black priestly cassock as usual. When he walks over now, crossing the distance to his only remaining brother, the youngest Willcott male of the main line does so at a measured pace, his face looking much paler.

"Trindham," Garannon greets in a sigh, his arms extending to offer his brother a brotherly embrace. "Ill tidings, indeed. I came as soon as news reached me."

Letha has never been much of a talker, but the Amazonian knight has been almost entirely silent during the journey to Willcott, her grip on the reigns of her horse almost daily is white-knuckled. All of the rage is kept on the inside, despite the fact that both of her elder sisters lay dead not from sickness and circumstance, but by the hand of a madman. There is only one exception in the obvious containment of ferocity, and that is her solicitousness toward her pregnant cousin.

It's been a rather tumultuous few months for Claire. Marriage, pregnant, raising the dead. It takes a toll on your social life. She's kept around the manor over winter, which isn't a surprise. She's clearly pregnant by this point but still able to ride without issue - at least any voiced issue. Another few weeks and she would have to be carted out here. But when she arrives, she does as a Knight. Wrapped in cloaks, it is still clear she is wearing her sword beneath. Her squire, Ellee, does her best to help disguise the fact that Claire can't mount or dismount without aid. The Stapleford head of house, though, remains quiet. There is only a nod to Ellee before she takes a few steps from the horse, motioning for the other of her clan to do the same. She does not show the same rage but she is clearly -not- happy about the reasons for being here.

While a part of Drustan may have wished that Claire would stay behind, the man is smart enough to know there'd be no stopping her. Thus, even having not directly known the Stapleford women involved, he is attending. As the husband to the current regeant of Stapleford and a strong Knight in his own right, it's perhaps not expected… but respected of him to do so. He bears the raven that he has kept as heraldry from Falt, though oft a grey rather than white. It's upon the padded coat he wears over his chain (insultating the metal between layers). He dismounts easily and thankfully, Ellee is already aiding Claire. It quells the desire to help his wife and focus instead on matters of propriety. Like handing the reins of his charger off to his squire, Cai. Only then does the man step up to fall into place alongside the Keeper.

Trindham steps forth to accept his brother's embrace. "Father." he greets, however, using Garannon's very much earned title. "My wife and our sisters are with Eirlys, who came upon the discovery of the bodies and went quite melancholy and distraught when she saw what had happened." he offers to the man of the cloth. "I have hope to discuss with you her return with you so that she may be sheltered from this for a while and spend time with others that could provide her with support." With that, the knight turns his attention to the others, many he has met in passing as the head of house and the celebration and marriage between their houses. A marriage that now lies in ruins as the grim man offers a nod of his head. "Sirs Stapleford." he greets both women together. "Sir Falt." he offers to Drustan. "I had the windows of the dining hall opened after the discovery to preserve the scene as it was found for the investigation." With that, he's turning to lead the way into the manor house, and down the hallways that lead to the common dining area.

"I had thought my brother Morolis had come down with the malady that has swept through the manors of the north. He had complained of sore limbs, weakness, and illness. But he insisted on continuing to dine with his family. I am still unsure of the circumstand that had brought Lady Maeve de Chalke to our home - but there had been some thought that Lady Elsane had caught with child again and her sister had come to assist her with preparing things." With that, he leads the way into the dining room. And the sight is rather grisly.

Lady Maeve lies on the floor, her face gouged with multiple blade wounds, some shallow, some deep, with the knife firmly embedded in the middle of her bosom.

Morlois and Elsane are tangled in a death embrace, his hands firmly around her throat, his back baring various wounds of where the women fought back, Elsane's fingers buried into Morlois' face as his lips are a dark blue, his skin blemeshed and pale, his veins standing out in blue lines, as her eyes are bulged open, the marks on her throat clearly showing where his hands had gripped her.

Letha checked her awareness of 10, she rolled 15.
Critical Fail!
Letha checked her vengeful of 7, she rolled 20.
Letha checked her firstaid of 10, she rolled 4.
Drustan checked his FirstAid of 10, he rolled 18.
Garannon checked his Awareness of 10, he rolled 18.
Claire checked her Awareness of 12, she rolled 1.
Critical Fail!
Garannon checked his FirstAid of 10, he rolled 20.
Claire checked her FirstAid of 10, she rolled 12.

Garannon nods to the news given about Eirlys. "I can imagine," he says. With the others arriving, and Trindham needing to greet them too, Garannon steps back and moves to the side, his gaze sombre as it flicks down momentarily, his brows furrowing. When Trindham leads them inside, Garannon follows along, finding his way with ease, and offering this and that passing servant a nod of silent greeting. To Trindham's explanations he listens attentively, his blue eyes sweeping the devastating scene as they enter the dining room, until they come to linger on his older brother Morlois, dead, and in his death still that big brute of a menacing presence. Garannon catches his breath.

Letha's nostrils flare at the sight of her dead sisters. She walks closer to the bodies, momentarily fighting the urge to assault Morlois' dead body. She stares at the bodies long and hard before lifting her chin and focusing on Trindham with a direct, fierce stare. "Where is my nephew?" Her tone is filled with threat.

Claire simply nods at the greeting, not returning anything just yet. As the face of the Stapleford family, she spent the trip here schooling herself again on how to give nothing. Outwardly, this is what she shows. No outward anger, no outrage or frustration, simply what people have come to expect from the young woman most of the time. When they enter the hall and see the scene of the crime, Claire takes a moment to hold her finger to her nose, cringing. Being pregnant changes things. It is hard to stay too close and she opts to stnd by an open window and fan her face as she looks over the bodies and their positioning. "Along similar lines to what Sir Letha has asked," Claire speaks up. "There are two children, one to each. Lady Elsane had a son six months ago, if I am not mistaken? Lady Maeve had a two year old daughter that is not at our Manor. I trust they are being looked after here by the family?" She finally lifts her eyes from the grizzly crime and looks over the others.

Spend enough time on a battlefield and you witness dire things. An outright murder of a Lady, however, is not something anyone wishes to see. It's something one often chalks up to the likes of the Saxons. Drustan's pale gaze settles on the two — man and woman — locked in a struggle turned eternal. There's just a tightening of his features. Any further examination is stalled by moving to stand near Claire. There's just a tilt of head and arch of brow in query. He doesn't interrupt nor speak, but- can't blame a man soon to be a first time father.

Trindham straightens himself, preparing for what may come, the knight wore full armor for a reason, after all. "Elenor, Maeve's daughter, is safe with my wife and sisters. Rhycean…" he trails off to give a shake of his head. "From what I was told, there was issues." he draws in a breath as he glances towards the Sarum Churiegon who is coming downstairs, carrying a small bundle in white fur. It does not take much to realize exactly what may be inside that bundle. And what may have been the impetous for the whole situation that is now before them.

Claire checked her Intrigue of 5, she rolled 17.
Garannon checked his Intrigue of 6, he rolled 8.
Letha checked her intrigue of 3, she rolled 11.
Drustan checked his Intrigue of 3, he rolled 16.

Letha holds her arms out for the child. "Give him to me." she insists. "Let me see him." She looks over at Claire, mouth tightening, but her gaze swiftly returns to the fur wrapped bundle. "Explain these issues that you speak of."

Garannon's gaze flits to Trindham when he informs them of his nephew. "Lord have mercy…", the Priest breathes, astonished. His eyes cut to the Chirurgeon carrying his nephew, and Garannon sighs deeply, already anticipating graver news.

When Claire hears what Trindham has to say, it is very hard to not react. Pretty much impossible. She see's the bundle of fur and knows what is inside. Immediate she thinks of her own child and a hand goes to protect her belly. She looks away and swallows, doing her best to get some fresh air. "Yes, please explain so we all may hear. I trust it will be as clear as possible." Claire does her best to look back towards Trindham and give some daring to it, but she can barely manage to look that direction for the moment. For several seconds she can only imagine the pain of losing her own.

There's a flicker in Drustan's gaze as the Chirurgeon appears with the bundle. He shifts a half-step ahead, but less in an attempt to get there before Letha does… than to ensure that his wife is not the one to move forward. When she looks away, his expression is torn. Between relief and concern. Thus, he just steps to place a hand lightly to the small of her back. He leans in, closely, to speak softly to Claire. It is not quite a whisper, so perhaps the words will be overheard in part by the others. Especially in the stillness of death. "This is not Elenor's home." Being a Chalke by father and Stapleford by mother. "Perhaps we should request right to at least foster her, so she may be around family and raised to understand death in a proper way."

Critical Success!
Gareth makes a check for Trindham Honesty at 13, he rolled 13.

The Churiegon looks to Letha and then to Trindham. The knight nods his permission, and Rhycean is brought to Letha. The bundle is unmoving, the body cold. Morlois, at least, granted the child a swift death. Trindham's jaw muscles tighten as he hears the questions, and he reaches up as his head lowers, to rub the bridge of his nose. "Rhycean's parantage had come to question." he says finally, bluntly, laying it on the table. "Much as there had been rumor of who had fathered Morlois himself, there was doubts as to his son's father - and as his hair turned blonde and his eyes did not follow his father's, Morlois had confronted Elsane the night before Maeve's arrival about the truth, from what Eirlys has told me. I was on patrol when this occured."

The knight lifts his head and frowns. "There is no amount of condolence that House Willcott can offer for this." he says quietly as the Churiegon uses the time to start to seperate the bodies and examine the wounds. Elsane's body, immediately, can be seen with bruises on her shoulders of the woman, where she had been grabbed, or shaken roughly.

"Elenor will be released into your custody, of course." Trindham offers. "As you said, she is not a member of our House, and as such, we will allow you to take her back to Chalke, if you wish."

Letha holds the tiny corpse to her, cradling it gently in her strong hands. "To Chalke? No." she looks back to Claire. "These are the children of my sisters. Let my nephew's bones go to rest in the family crypt; let me see to the raising of the one that lives. I am robbed of righteous justice," her head tilts toward Morlois' body, "So grant me this. Please, Sir Claire."

Garannon's eyes linger on Trindham, widening as he digests the words. "He… Morlois…", he begins, but then his voice breaks and the younger Willcott starts anew. "He was lost, and I knew it. I had hoped he'd find the way… But. It seems he did not." The implications of his speech, they flicker in the glance Garannon gives his brother, the one that still lives. Avoiding to look at Morlois, beyond that brief glance he gave him when he entered.

Claire listens to Drustan as she looks out the window. Beneath the cloaks, she hugs herself, doing her best to hide how she feels. She fights the tears, refusing to sob at the idea of a dead child. She forces herself to bight her tongue to keep from letting the hormones send her into a spiral of babbling tears. There is only a nod to Drustan's suggestion before she lifts a hand to wipe the wet streaks from her face. Clearing her throat, she turns suddenly and looks at everyone in turn. Chin lifted, she studiously avoids the bundle while everyone speaks. "He killed the child for a crime it had no control over. The crime of being less than aligned birth." It's clear to anyone in the room that it doesn't sit well. She nearly spits the words, the anger on her face starting to creak in. Her gaze goes to Drustan, then to Letha. "Sir Letha, you'll take the niece and raise her as your own and see to the bones of your nephew. Stapleford will see it's family whole. Likewise we will require a cart to bring your sisters home." She swings her gaze back to Trindham, then, "Stapleford does not look kindly upon the murder of our noble women. These were not honorable deaths."

"I can make a trip to Chalke and explain the reasoning for taking Elenor in person. She is technically a Chalke, as Lady Maeve was, but with her father and her mother both dead… Stapleford can at the very least serve as foster." Drustan does not speak on the death of the child and the reasonings. He, himself, is evidence at what even a bastard can achieve. His father serving as regeant for years and marrying a woman of strong noble birth. It's easier, in the moment, to try to remain a strong, stable force for his wife. "I'm sure Sir Claire would normally do as such, but she is quite busy with matters at home." And being pregnant. "And it will give Sir Letha the time to help the girl adapt to being moved thus and losing her mother." A tilt of head, an arch of brow to Claire. "Unless you would prefer to do so by another means? I wholly agree that Stapleford ought to raise the child, but she is of Chalke and they suffer a loss as well."

Drustan checked his Awareness of 10, he rolled 9.
Letha checked her awareness of 10, she rolled 7.
Claire checked her Awareness of 12, she rolled 3.
Garannon checked his Awareness of 10, he rolled 4.

Where Elenor goes is not Trindham's decision to make, that is between the family of the child to decide, really. The Churiegon speaks up. "Are the remnants of the last meal still about?" she asks as she turns her attention to the dinner table.

"Aye," Trindham said. "They had vegetable and lamb stuffed hagais with a potato stew." he says before he turns his attention to Claire.

"I cannot take back the actions of my brother, Ser Claire. However, we are both bound by the tentaments of our faith, and the souls of /our/ lost family members will be prayed for." he emphazises this, reminding Claire that Elsane and by extension Maeve, and the children were and are members of the House. "We will provide you a cart and work horse to handle the transport of the bodies for return to Stapleford, as well as a driver so that it may be returned."

As he talks, it's Drustan that realizes it first. There is a dead dog under the table. And Morlois' plate had been spilt next to the creature, the remains of the meal spilt upon the ground. The two women's plates are untouched.

"But murder, committed by a vile man…", Garannon finishes Claire's sentence. "And in fact… If he has indeed committed those murders, believe me, he will roast in Hell for it." About which Garannon obviously has no doubt. "I am sorry, and I regret no one stopped Morlois." His gaze flicks to Trindham momentarily. "But, House Willcott as a whole mourns with you." Garannon falls silent then, not interrupting, when Trindham raises his voice. "And pray we shall," the priest assures grimly.

Letha is busy cradling the body of her dead nephew. Does she see the dog and the food? She does. Does it occur to her that her sisters may have poisoned Morlois? It does. Does she care? Nope. Someday there will be a song, and that song will have a very important and relevant line: He had it comin'.

"None shall have their faith denied. Our family should not and would not put upon such a denial to anyone. Least of all the families, we are likely most misunderstood." Claire keeps her gaze on Trindham. Were she gripping Drustan's hand, it would probably snap in half. Maeve was returned to them, with her child, after Chalke lost Garis. They demanded her and the child back. They legally got it and the discussion of Maeve makes her blood simmer a little. It only shows in the slow bow of her head and the very clipped nature of her words. Does she see the dog? After a few moments, yes. But she pays it no mind. She's more concerned about the three dead kin.

"Here," Drustan says suddenly as he looks to the table once again. There's a light, circular rub against Claire's lower back briefly before he's stepping away. It's to direct the chrirgeon, with a gesture towards the dog and the meal spilt upon the ground. "The animal does not appear to have been attacked." There may be a theory blossoming in his mind, but he's leaving it to the expert to decide. "Was it something perhaps in the-" gesture, to what has spilled, "food?"

Gareth makes a check for Churiegon Herbalism at 15, he rolled 3.

The Churiegon, hearing the discussion of Drustan with the others, lifts her brow and makes her way to the table, kneeling down near the dead dog and the food. Though it's spoiled, she smells it, and makes a face, "…almonds." she says mainly to herself. "Sir Trindham, I would ask the cook what he used the food this evening." she offers, picking up the dog to put with the other bodies, as she moves to consider. "It will take me a while to conclude fully, but Sir Morolois' wounds do not suggest anything fatal. Judging by the dog, and the injuries to the two women, there was an agent involved, but I will not know for sure until I can test the food. I'm sorry I cannot give you anymore than that. But this seems to have been a murder, and it will be up to Earl Robert to decide fault and compensation once I have made my report."

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