Tasni had spotted Ueltin leaving the Harper Hall earlier that evening,
heading in the direction of the Hold, and she had an idea where he was
going. The guards would be gathered in the tavern after their days'
work, and hopefully in the perfect mood for telling tales about the past.
She spent some time in her shared room, practising the gitar, but it was
hard to concentrate when her mind kept drifting to speculation about
what he'd find out. Eventually, she gave up and left, making her way
quietly through past the other journeymen's rooms until she got to
Ueltin's. With a quick glance around to make sure no-one was watching,
she slipped inside. Once there, she settled in a chair with some scores
from choir practice and waited for his return.
Ueltin wasn't exactly drunk but he wasn't fully sober either when he
returned from the Tavern. He had to drink some to not raise suspicions.
He was rather surprised too Tasni there when he returned to his room.
"Oh, hi. You know, slipping into men's rooms is a bad habit of yours."
"No-one saw me," she replied unrepentantly, putting the music aside and
leaning forward. "Well? How did it go with the guards? I couldn't wait
until tomorrow to find out. Did they remember the fire?"
"Uh, one question at the time," Ueltin fell to lay on bed, his long legs
hanging out. "I went fine, I paid them rounds to get them drunk and
talkative, entertained them with stories and heard all kind of
interesting things. Sidenote: yours truly isn't fully sober either."
"I never would have guessed," she replied, amused. This was perfect; she
was glad she'd risked coming to his room now rather than waiting for the
morning. As any harper with her speciality knew, a man who was slightly
tipsy might tell more than he would when sober. She got up and came to
sit on the bed beside him. "So, what did they say? Anything about the
"A whole lot," Ueltin replied. Allegro had landed on his belly, and he
scratched the firelizard absently while organizing his thoughts. "There
was few who had been helping to put out the fire. Gilbek's wife was
accepted as an apprentice to Harper Hall, and some of them though this
was his motive. Some thought him innocent. All seem to agree he had left
Hold and maybe accept a job in one of the minor Holds."
"But no-one saw him start the fire," Tasni said thoughtfully. It tallied
with what she'd learned in her own research. The information that he'd
left Emerald Falls, and why, was interesting. "It would have been hard
for him to get work with that suspicion hanging over him, unless he
found a Holder who didn't care that he might have burned the Hall. Or
even approved of it."
"True," Ueltin agreed. "None of them knew which Hold and I didn't dare
to ask too many questions about that subject. We can probably rule out
those Hold, who's Holder was nominated by Lord Corowal. That lefts a
half of them."
"Yes, and he's likely not close by, either, or someone would have seen
or heard of him." Tasni closed her eyes and visualised a map of Emerald
Falls territory, dotted with minor holds. "We could make a list, narrow
it down by what we know of the Holders. Oh!" She sat up, eyes glittering
with excitement. "Whoever it is, they're not too keen on harpers. I'll
look at the reports in the archives from travelling journeymen. You can
always tell when someone's been made to feel unwelcome."
"Good point, or rumours would have filtered to us. Also, the man's
probably changed his name. I know I would. Black Rock houses prison
mines and they employ plenty of guards," Ueltin replied. He thought of
it some more. "But the guards here knows those guards, because of the
regular prison transports."
"Yes, it's more likely to be somewhere without much contact with the
main Hold. They'd need the protection a guard can offer, those isolated
Holds can suffer from bandits." She leaned back on the bed. "I wonder if
there are records of visits from minor Holders up in the Emerald Falls
archives. Someone offered Gilbek a job. If any of them were here between
the fire and the date he left, they'd be a good candidate."
"The headwoman should have records like that, you know, prepping rooms
for guests. And let's not forget cotholders either. Some of them are
prosperous enough to hire a guard or two."
"Hey, we're supposed to be narrowing down the possibilities, not
increasing them," she teased, and poked his arm playfully. "But it's a
good point, he could be at a big farm or cothold. Sounds like I've got a
lot of searching to do in the archives."
"Sorry, but I don't want us to miss something," Ueltin replied. He
yawned. "My apologies, I think I need some shut eye."
"All right, then, Journeyman." Tasni got to her feet. "Don't forget to
drink some water, or you'll have a nasty hangover in the morning."
"Yes, Ma'am," Ueltin grinned.
Last updated on the December 18th 2019