His Grace will not be happy about this intrusion. Not only did someone try to kill him and his wife, but they killed loyal members of his household, hurt everyone who knew these men and shaken their confidence in him a little. He confiscates anything of value on the assassins in order to offer compensation to the families of those slain.
Not only is everyone in the castle abuzz about the assassination attempt on the Duke, but many of the staff are very distraught aver the whole event. Some of the guards may have had dalliances with the female staff.
Lord Glantri has been busy investigating the security breach. He finds the body of one guard in a cellar, stripped of his tunic, helmet and weapons. He also discovers some recent deliveries just dropped where they shouldn’t have been. He asks the Rangers to help him look for a hideout they may have in the nearby country side.
Lord Glantri reluctantly asks for the assistance of the Rangers to search where these assassins came from. He’s sure they can’t have been from very far away. But as the Rangers’ discuss on and on about how to proceed and he shouts at them about their inaction, and that he will take the hunting hounds and search without them, and storms out, slamming the door.
The Rangers find on hunting dog still in the kennels, a young male and they saddle up to begin their search. Malen shifts into a hawk and flies around the area in a widening perimeter. His keen eyesight spots a possible copse of woods and begins his descent. While the rest of the group follow on horse back and follow the hound’s trail.
Lord Glantri eventually find’s the bodies of three more regular people who deliver goods daily to the Duke’s estate, in another forested area.
The Rangers find a small hidden campsite, where they discover the following:
1- The letter sent from Kythros that mentions the arrival of the Rangers.
2- Blank parchment and writing tools.
3- A scroll tube with maps of Castle Darrow and a list of names of people in the duke’s employ.
4- Comprehensive disguise kit and clothing to match local residents, guards, staff, even the Rangers.
5- Some local currency, mostly coppers «wheels» and some silver «bulls».
Jonas will also order the surviving attackers hanged until death ensues, after their thorough interrogation of course. Once dead, the bodies are to be transported and hung up again at various crossroads that lead towards Lord Evor’s lands and estates. Jonas knows his enemies well and this type of attack would be Evor’s style, cowardly and deceitful. But Evor is not stupid enough to leave evidence of his treachery.
Once he is pronounced King, Jonas promises to deal with the «slippery sparrow» once and for all.
After this treacherous attack, Jonas orders his staff and retainers to pack up and prepare for the trip back to his capital, Telok. Progress is slow compared to the Rangers’ regular rythm, but steady.
They only stay in Telok for a day, to make arrangments while Jonas is absent. Sir Colwyn and Sir Marlon are to stay behind to protect the lands and people.
They then set out towards Vale, in Galea. On the way to Middleton, scout report that a force of Knights and Soldiers are heading their way. Without provocation the unknown knights charge the Duke’s forces. Jonas forms up his men and bellows orders atop his charger. Vandien follows his lead and manages to give critical assistance to the Duke.
All four Ranger heroes acquit themselves particularly well, which helps eliminate key threats of the opposing forces, while only taking minor injuries. It also helps the Duke rally his forces to greater effect despite the inferior numbers.
Eventually the enemies forces break and are routed, as few are left. A cheer goes up for The Duke as well as for the Rangers.
The bodies are investigated, and it’s discovered that the knights are in Duke Hanaran’s retinue. Jonas’ faces clouds over in anger, but is quickly suppressed. He files this away for the future. The corpses’ valuable & usable remains are gathered, as well as the horses still living. Then the dead are burned before moving on the next day.
The rest of the trip to the Vale is quiet. And when they are within sight of the city, a messenger is sent ahead. An aevakar herald is sent back with greetings and an invitation to enter the city as friends.