Foul News Comes to Clearwater
(Continued from Riding Hard for Clearwater: Niko)
Around several more bend, they saw the head of the lake, and Clearwater, shining like a jewel.
As they came into view of Clearwater, Niko slowed down not a bit. But his senses went on high alert as he scanned for traces that Thelbane had arrived before his small party.
There were none.
But no matter if he saw traces or not, his course of action would have to be the same. Galloping at speed past watching eyes, he quickly dismounted.
“See to the mounts,” he said, more than a little discomfited that he could not do so himself, “and follow me when you’re able. I’m sure Lord Draupaud will have questions for you both.”
As he made to leave, he turned to both of them, and made a bow to each. “And thank you,” he said.
Then he was gone, racing to find the Lord of the manor.
The guards directed him to the Lord’s private business room, Lord Draupaud’s favourite retreat.
When Niko entered, he was sitting behind the desk, but on seeing him, he half rose to his feet.
“My … son?” he said, painfully. “Why have you returned? Is he dead?”
“Nay,” Niko said, willfully oblivious- or uncaring- of the distress his appearance caused. “There is other evil afoot in Marshend, and it approaches even as we speak.”
He handed Lord Draupaud the dispatches from Derron and Merivel, then waited for Lord Draupaud to read them.
But Lord Draupaud stared at him, then down at the documents, then back up at him once more.
Niko returned the gaze mildly, no reproach or reply visible in his eyes.
Finally he motioned to Niko to take a seat, resumed his own, and began to read, rapidly.
Niko contemplated remaining standing- he would have preferred to, truth be told. But if he had his preference, he wouldn’t be here… especially now. He sat silently.
After a while he looked up.
“Tell me your impressions of what is afoot,” he said.
“My impressions?” Niko returned. “What this one can give you is only an incomplete picture- but Marshend seems to be a dangerous place currently. This mystery Septa had been attacked before we even arrived, and the fact that such a small place had a Septa outside of town with such healing skills is passing strange. I do not think that she has any ill-intent, to the contrary, she seems of a mild disposition, and is given to helping. But she does hide something. As does the warrior woman. As does this man from town. As does the merchant. As does everyone other than Thelbane, who singles himself out only because he is the obvious evil.” Niko shrugged. “This one thinks that not only are the questions there, but the answers too. But everything is too tangled with lies for the truth to be shown.”
“But the one thing this one can tell you is that Thelbane is bad news, and he is apparently headed this way.”