Mirrored from Sythyry.
Prince Rastomil, or the impostor thereof, had called the city guard to haul off his erstwhile bodyguard Jagraton. This caused a certain amount of conversation, as bodyguard and cityguard strolled away.
Guard-Mage: “I understand that the prince is your former — lover, is it? — back in Inner Ketheria.”
Jagraton: “I am his bodyguard, appointed and hired by the royal family of Barency to protect their son.”
Guard-Mage: “As you wish. In any case, he is no longer in Barency. He is in Hanija, and, in particular, in the domicile of the eccentric Lord Kethji and Lady Noshi. He seems to have placed himself under their protection. Perhaps you could take this as a form of success of your project, and enjoy a vacation?”
Jagraton: “But! That is not the true prince, but a wicked and subtle imposter!”
Guard-Mage: “A peculiar claim. Why do you say that?”
Jagraton: “Aha! I have an evidence! Did you ever meet the prince before?”
Guard-Mage: “No, I cannot say that I have. This makes it difficult for me to tell whether he is an impostor.”
Jagraton: “Are you exceedingly famous in Hanija? I do not mean to insult you — I am certain that you are thoroughly skilled, and quite well-regarded in all those circles which intersect or are tangent to the Guard — but is a newcomer tourist likely to know you by sight?”
Guard-Mage: “I have no such fame. Though your pilot Sythyry and chef Arfaen certainly know me by sight.”
Jagraton: “I assert, and I can have Sythyry and Arfaen confirm, that neither of them knows your name — or at least that neither of them discussed it much in Strayway. Sythyry calls you “The Guard-Mage”. Yet this imposter knew your name and title precisely, at a glance.”
High Lieutenant Mage Zineng (formerly “Guard-Mage”): “A grange full of gods! He did just that! This seemingly-minor event instantly becomes a matter of considerable interest to me. I believe I owe a not insubstantial sum to High Lieutenant Detective Aeji-Ru!”
Jagraton: “What? Why did we suddenly stop strolling along the canal, and start quick-marching towards a guard station in the middle of town? Am I under arrest now?”
L.H.M. Zineng: “You are a surprising witness in a most concernsome situation which L.H.D. Aeji-Ru has been muttering about for years, and the rest of us have thought imaginary. I am no longer so sure. But now Aeji-Ru and I will take the matter under deeper investigation. Captain Geng be damned!”
Jagraton: “This is not wholly comforting.”
L.H.M. Zineng: “You, in any case, are unlikely to be accused of anything. But do not be comforted; the situation is alarming.”
The Suspicious History of Lord Kethji
L.H.D. Aeji-Ru (a Herethroy co-lover with sparkly purple chitin and a very nervous air) enumerated a list of disturbing matters.
The Servants: Lord Kethji and, after their marriage, Lady Noshi hired a number of live-in servants over the decades. These servants have, one and all, become fanatical devotees of the lord and lady, in a matter of days — or hours? They abandoned their families and friends outside, devoting themselves to their labors and masters, rarely or never leaving the island upon which the mansion rests. Now, these servants were generally chosen from among those with few close connections, so abandoning friends and family was no great matter for them … but that is a topic of suspicion to Aeji-Ru as well.
The Blackmail: Lord Kethji and Lady Noshi have been the most successful blackmailers in Hanijan history — or they have not. This is quite difficult to determine, but a handful of death-bed confessions by a handful of nobles and dignitaries suggest that the lord and lady discovered a handful of the wickedest secrets, and applied them with perfect force.
The Prince’s Feast: Jagraton told what he observed and experienced at the feast.
The Old Wizard: Lord Kethji was, in his youth, an intimate of the Rassimel wizard Nanggi-Zi. “A specialist in Mentador and Spiridor,” said Aeji-Ru, “And one with a terribly poor reputation. She had protection from the Duke at the time, and rarely showed herself in public, or she would probably have been lynched. The protection being the first of Lord Kethji’s famous blackmails. Nanggi-Zi herelf died some time ago — roughly when Lady Noshi married Lord Kethji, in fact.”
The Suspicion: So we are suspecting that the Lord and Lady have some wicked Mentador and Spiridor tools left from Nanggi-Zi, and use them in careful and wicked ways.
Jagraton: “You are willing to investigate two powerful nobles of your own city for a string of terrible crimes?”
L.H.M. Zineng: “This is troublesome. our superiors would be very upset if we did so too openly.”
L.H.D. Aeji-Ru: “Unless we were successful!”
L.H.M. Zineng: “Even if we are successful, if — as I suspect — their blackmail is at work among the judiciary and guard.”
L.H.D. Aeji-Ru: “For a fact, a worrisome fact, I have been told, in the strongest of terms, not to pursue this matter.”
Jagraton: “Oddly, I have no such orders. And I have a wizard of my own who is willing to help out.”
L.H.M. Zineng: “Which could prove essential, should the Mentador spells come flying.”