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12 September 2008 @ 07:36 pm
Kin-strife: Part 19  
In which we discuss what to do with the stolen maps; we are spied upon from on high by Celebrindor’s ghastly, grim and ancient raven; Celebrindor threatens to take matters to Heruvorn; the maps are hidden; Pimm shoots Celebrindor’s raven is shot out of the sky - hurrah; Dringol loans Bergil’s alta parma to Brand for copying; Celebrindor, with four cronies, attempts a burglary of the Moonswan; Pimm shoots Celebrindor in the strongroom – nasty; preparations are made for departure, including returning Bergil’s original manuscript to Dringol.

mid-afternoon May 1st 1441

In a tavern not far from the Tower of the Moon we discuss what to do with our ill-gotten gains; in particular, the map of the Minas Ithil sewers (or to be more accurate, the Minas Ithil underground water system as it is composed of both waste and fresh water elements).

Various ideas are bandied about: sew it in a coat as the lining; put it in the Anwar-Serni vault; take it to Pelargir (which itself begs the question of ‘how’). Finally, Ilvren volunteers to sew it in to her pilot’s log, where it will look like another chart and Brand’s concealment spell will make it all but unfindable. Ilvren and Aerin will then take all the maps to the Houses of Healing in Shanty Town pending our joining them when we depart for Pelargir with Ranmes.

With this strategy in mind we leave the tavern but Celebrindor’s crow (or another just like it) quickly picks up our trail and observes our return to the Moonswan from the air. This should have been expected and we must find some way to counter this Valar-bedamned bird or Celebrindor will find the maps all too easily. I feel its eyes upon us all the way back.

On our arrival, the landlord of the Moonswan hands me a letter from Celebrindor requesting that I hand over the ‘item’ he believes in our hands or he ‘will take the matter to Heruvorn’. I advise Brand of the letter and tell him that we shall ignore it. Heruvorn is incompetent and he may be as deeply steeped in perfidy as Celebrindor but I think he will think twice before making any overt moves against me, with my father’s connections.

It takes Ilvren an hour to sew the map in to her logbook. By now it is near dusk. Brand, Pimm and I have an appointment with Dringol in the Eagle & Elf. We decide to leave all together (bar Al-Han left in the Moonswan) and take a roundabout route through the narrowest of alleys in the hope that Celebrindor’s crow will follow us without noticing when the ladies depart. However, Brand and Pimm also take their favourite missile weapons with the clear intention of shooting the bird out of the sky. I do not approve; with the likelihood of a hit being very low, I’d say the chance of hitting an innocent citizen a more likely outcome.

As it happens, despite our best attempts to loose it, I can feel the crow following above. Worse still, when the girls depart for Shanty Town, we all see the evil bird swoop after them. Brand and Pimm raise bow and crossbow, respectively, and despite my protestations, let fly at the half-seen target. The Valar must be on our side for Pimm’s shot flies true and the crow falls with his bolt through its heart. Despite my misgivings it is a superb piece of shooting and it allows the ladies to depart unseen.

So it is with a lighter heart that we reach the Eagle & Elf. Dringol is suitably gushing over Bergil’s alta-parma and it fully lives up to all our expectations, proving to be an inept attempt at pro-Eldacar propaganda (all the nice Valar back Eldacar and Castamir is supported by the likes of Morgoth – if only life were that simple) dressed up as mystical Numenorean epic poetry written by an amateur obsessed with ancient architecture. Like me, Brand is unimpressed by it as a work of art (though we all struggle to conceal our feelings from Dringol) but Brand thinks Bergil’s descriptions of various ruins could be very accurate and precise. If he can identify some of the locations, the missal could be of value to us.

But Dringol is reluctant to part with the only copy of his hero’s epic. He hopes to live to see it published but that will not happen in the current political climate and would be suicidal while Heruvorn governs Minas Ithil. However, at a nudge from Pimm, Brand offers to spend tomorrow copying the scroll and I give my word to return it tomorrow evening. As we leave, it occurs to me that Dringol can have no idea who I am, which is probably just as well. I do hope Bergil met his end of natural causes.

I keep a wary watch about us as we make our way back to the Moonswan but surprisingly the walk is uneventful. We keep just the one room now that the ladies have gone. I think everyone feels a little tense but we all fall asleep quickly enough.

The sound of a bang on the door in the middle of the night wakes Brand and I. My first thought is ‘why can’t Heruvorn’s men wait until dawn’ but strangely we don’t hear any ‘open in the name of Castamir’ or similar demands. We quickly rouse Pimm and Al-Han and start pulling on clothes, expecting to have to answer impertinent questions from some mercenary lacking in humour. In my mind I go over my lines: claiming we borrowed some maps of the local countryside and of locations further abroad with the intent of touring the Raj. I shall deny knowledge of any map of the sewers, claiming with some justification that sewage has never been one of my personal interests. If necessary, I could recall Aerin to reveal her cache of the more innocent maps.

Then we hear the landlord’s querulous voice enquiring of the visitors. There’s no reply, just a swishing sound followed by the thud of a body hitting the floor and suddenly things seem a little more serious. Telling Al-Han to stay put, I lead the others down the stairs with swords drawn and Pimm with his crossbow. I don’t like the idea of having to fight our way out of the inn but if we can escape the building I think I could find my way to one secret passage out the city from behind the Gatehouse.

At the bottom of the stairs we find the landlord. Thankfully he seems unharmed but he just sits in a daze, muttering and mumbling to himself. With a touch, Brand quietly confirms that he’s bewitched.

I hear clinking noises from the strong-room and then the low murmur of a voice. At the door of the strong-room, I see four figures. Three, including one kneeling before the safe, I don’t recognise but the other, standing a little apart, is Celebrindor! Hearing Pimm cock his crossbow, I step smartly aside to allow him a clear shot. There’s a click, thunk and a gasp followed by a splashing noise and I follow the bolt in to the room raising my rapier en-guard.

I find the satisfying spectacle of Celebrindor nailed to the wall with Pimm’s bolt through his heart: once again I congratulate Pimm on his shooting. Stepping toward the other intruders, I command them to surrender as thieves. Two drop their weapons at once and the third takes but another moment. Pimm ties them up while I cover him and Brand sends for the watch.

Other guests of the inn emerge at the sound of the commotion, among them Ranmes. I take care that she sees Celebrindor’s body and hears the testimony of our prisoners. They are hired thieves, of course, hired by Celebrindor to steal the contents of the safe, within which he thought we would keep the maps.

Of course, with the safe opened to show only the treasure we took from the Anwar Serni vault, it looks very much as if Celebrindor was simply an illicit treasure hunter. I play up the apparent image of a scion of a noble family fallen from grace after being coarsened by too much travel in foreign climes. Ranmes purses her lips and comments on how law and order have so completely broken down in Minas Ithil that even the nobility, a person trusted by Heruvorn with the defence of the city, resorts to robbing public hostelries by night.

I have a feeling that if Ranmes’ report is given any weight by Castamir, Heruvorn will not remain long in his post.

By the time the watch arrive, Brand has searched Celebrindor’s body, removing a bloody cloak and a dagger, both of which he says are imbued with some sort of negative magical aura.

The watch accepts the situation at face value and carry Celebrindor’s body away. The prisoner’s are marched off to start their progress through the judicial system and the landlord is led away to the Healers, still burbling confusedly. I hope whatever spell Celebrindor cast on the poor chap can be countered easily. The rest of us go back to bed to enjoy what’s left of the night.

May 2nd 1441

In the morning, we all feel invigorated, despite the broken night. Somehow Middle Earth seems a fairer place now that Celebrindor isn’t in it.

Ranmes seems keen to depart Minas Ithil on schedule and sends Pimm on various errands to ensure all is ready for tomorrow’s departure. Brand, of course, spends the day copying Bergil’s alta-parma. I think it would be remiss to leave the ladies in fear of Celebrindor so I ride to the Houses of Healing in Shanty Town to advise them of his demise and how it came about.

On my return I receive the first of a series of visits from successively higher ranked officers of the watch. All ask variations of the same questions regarding what happened in the night. They look unhappy but it’s all too clear that Celebrindor died whilst engaged in larceny. I think I manage to control my delight.

Ranmes and I discuss Celebrindor: I don’t reveal his true objective but mention his outré behaviour over dinner a few nights ago. She reveals that the three prisoners, under interrogation, confirmed that Celebrindor was involved in ‘dark cults’. She advises me to tell my father at the earliest opportunity as this news will strengthen his influence and the Queen’s as it’s clear that Heruvorn’s administration has failed critically.

In the afternoon, Pimm gets word that his uncle, Bergil’s, house has been sold at auction for 450 crowns. Pimm duly collects, returning late in the afternoon, expressing his intent to convey their shares to his siblings (of which he has eight) and his father in person.

Pimm, Brand and I return Bergil’s original manuscript to Dringol raise a glass to his memory. Then we return to the Moonswan for one last night (save for the ladies, who seem to be more comfortable at the Houses of Healing in Shanty Town).

We all turn in with clearer minds, ready to ride for Pelargir in the morning. I have decided not to cash another of my father’s letters of credit. If further expenses exhaust my last few crowns, I shall draw on my share of the treasure from the Anwar Serni vault.