Lodoss Wars: Raven's Night Turn 2 post 1
 
    The next day seems like any other.  The sky above is clear and the birds are singing but you still feel the troubles hanging over your family like storm clouds.  You dress and prepare yourself and come down
to the kitchen for your breakfast.  Your father is already there, brooding over a bowl of porridge and Miss Mina has already begun preparations for afternoon lunch.  You sullenly sit across from your
father and eat your porridge.

   Your father asks, "Have you seen Raif, he hasn't been down for
breakfast?"
 
>>>>  On your way down you looked into his room but he wasn't there, sleeping in as usual.  His bed hadn't even looked slept in for that matter. "No father, he wasn't in...I am beginning to a little worried
about him.  But I doubt my worry will beat my aggravation at him."
 
   Miss Mina, a matronly woman who has worked for your family since before you had come to the household cooks and replies "Something has gotten into that boy, he hasn't been acting right for quiet some time."
 
>>>>   I frown into my bowl of porridge, and excuse myself briefly.  I go straight to my room and take Lawgiver off of its stand, and strap it onto my waist.  (be advised Dave, I take extra care with this weapon,
polishing it every night before bed.)

>>>>  As I come down, I look at my Father simply shrug and say, "It feels like one of those days."
 
    You and your father finish your breakfast and leave for Spider Web Castle to attend to your father's morning appointments.  As you walk down the cobbled streets of the Nobles quarter you see the activity of
servants preparing horses or attending to their masters.  The streets are crowded with people as they rush out to perform their duties.   The mansions in the Quarters all seem to follow the same design and as
you walk you can pick out the station of the inhabitants owner by the quality of the stone work or the number of towers and rooms a place might have.  You can even pick out some of the security precautions that they might have.

    As you draw closer to the castle you see Leean on her way there also.  She's dressed casually in plain linen and has an apron on but she still looks as good as she did when you saw her at the ball.  You notice
she's carrying a plain wicker picnic basket.

    "Hello Baron Mandel, Jonas, may I walk with you kind sirs?" she asks.

     "Certainly, we always enjoy escorting a pretty lass" says Keric with a chuckle, "Don't we Jonas?"

>>>>  "Of course Father," I reply with a rougish grin and offer my arm as escort to her. "My I take the burden Milady." I say pointing to the basket.  Whether she takes my arm or lets me carry the basket, I will
also reply, " You look radiant this morning."  Latter on in the walk, I will whisper in her ear and ask her if she has talked to Raif or not.

  She curtsies as though you were some high class noble and says "Thank you" as you take her arm and basket.  As you lean in to ask her about Raif, you smell the scent of wildflowers at her ear.  She whispers back "I did talk to Raif.  I convinced him that it would be bad to have the  duel today since it is a holy day.  I have to talk to Rofel but I think I can get them to agree to put this off for a fortnight at least."

   You feel relived.  At least now you have time to get to the bottom of this and find out what was so important about that farmer Raif was so concerned about.  You briefly hear Leean and your father talk as you try to piece together what you know so far about Raif's duel.  You find out you have surpassingly little to go on.

>>>>  I precede to mutter under my breath about everything always being complicated, Raif being foolish, et cetera...

   You wend your way towards the castle and as you reach the main guard post Leean says "Watch yourself Jonas, please stay away from Rofel until I've had a chance to talk to him.  I know he'll listen to me" and then excuses herself and goes up the tower to the parapet where her father was last seen.

   You see Vicks and Wedge, two old friends you grew up with, standing guard in their armored chest plates hefting long spears.  Their shields are emblazoned with the crest of the "Royal Police Warders" castle guard
unit and they wave you and Kerik through.  "Good Morning Baron Mandel," they say to your father.  You notice Wedge give you that knowing wink as you pass by.

>>>>   I give Wedge a little shake of my head and nod and say, "Good morning."

   Your father nods his ascent and walks through the busy courtyard.  Already people have lined up to be heard at the Royal Police Warders main court hall or hawkers come to sell their goods, or even merchants
asking for permission to trade in the city.  You and your father head for the Castle keep and the internal court where most of the important decisions are made.  As you make your way through the crowd you see
Marquis Pasha, Chief of the Royal Police Warders headed distractedly through the crowd.  He seems troubled and agitated and absently ducks through the crowd, nearly running into petitioners several times.

     You and your father catch up to him as you pass the guards at the entrance to the castle keep.  He looks up and greets you and Kerik "Oh, so sorry.  How are you two doing this morning."

    You father says "Better then can be expected, and you?  You look distracted.  Is there something I can help you with?  It looks as though somebody has set the weight of the world on you this morning."

    "Yes, well as things the situation becomes more complicated we all have to work a little harder.  I was wondering if I may barrow your son for a moment, he might be of some relief."

    "Why yes" says your father, "I don't see why he can't, he'll only get bored if he stays with me through all of this political intrigue.  It might do him some good."

   If you try getting out of it your father will insist and say there isn't any worry about assassination here in the castle, there are guards everywhere and who would be so stupid to attempt such a thing.  He
promises to meet with you later in the afternoon in the courtyard and disappears around a column on his way up a flight of stairs.

>>>  "How may I be of service Milord?"

    "Now then, where to begin?" says Pasha.  He's a pudgy man in his late 30's who's going premature bald, sweat is trickling down his brow and every once and a while he dabs at it with a white handkerchief.  He
wears flowing dark purple robes and a black cloak in the tradition of high ranking Warders.  "As you know we've been having a problem for months with this thief everyone has been referring to as 'Night Raven'
since he only strikes at night and leaves a raven's feather as a calling card."

   Pasha speaks quietly as you walk towards the gardens at the side of the keep,  "This thief has only struck rich targets who have questionable morals and has never harmed anybody in his escapades.  Last night he struck at Denar Lomit's manse at about 1am (I have know idea how they measure time in Lodoss.  If you have any ideas let me know).  He broke into the house undetected and stole Miss. Lomit's jewels from a
safe in the upstairs bedroom.  He then proceeded to murder the Lomits as they slept.  Denar's hands were left crossed upon his chest and a raven's feather was place over his hart.  I will double the night
patrols due to this incident but I was wondering if you could take a look into this since I know you have some experience working at night?"

     You know he's referring to the time you worked for the thieves guild and wonder how he knows.

>>>  I frown at the word murder, common thieves I have no problem for and will often times let go with warning once things are recovered, but I despise murderers.  "Yes, Iíll help in whatever way I can.  I need
info on all the places he has hit, to see if their is a pattern.  I also have a friend with some Magical knowledge that may help, I need whatever files you may have on the Lomits, and I need a writ from you, so if I am skulking at night, I don't get shot or arrested till morning.  And finally I need to know if he has been approved by the Guild.  They of times do not promote murder to any except those in their guild or
those that have killed theirs."

>>>   "I am sorry Sir, I seem to have gotten carried away."  I say with a gleam in my eye and a faint smile.

    "No, no, that's quiet alright.  I understand your zeal, just being young I guess.  Let me assign one of my men to work with you.  Maybe the two of you can turn something up.  Let me take you to him, he should be at the barracks now."

     You walk with Pasha back through the crowded courtyard to the barracks.  The barracks look like a plain stone cut brick building with a red stucco roof standing about two stories tall.  You can see some
activity inside as police guards change shifts or are getting their gear in order for training.  Pasha marches you through the open front door through the main office room where most minor cases are heard.  Several
officers are sitting around at desks hearing cases or interviewing witnesses.  As you go through the hallway in back of the room Pasha heads for the ready room in the back where you see a lone individual sitting at a table studying a book.  He's dressed in a gray and purple police tunic and has straight blond hair.  He seems intent on studying the manual and doesn't even look up as Pasha approaches.

     You hear Pasha clear his throat, causing the young man to jump.  He leaps to attention and performs a salute.  "Sorry sir, just studying some formulae vitae."

    "Nothing to worry about Colus," says Pasha," I'd like you to meet master Jonas Mandel, he'll be working with you on the Night Raven Case.  Make sure you assist him in any way."

     "Jonas this is one of my best men, Colus Mordar.  He'll be assisting you.  Just wait here a moment and go over the case with Colus and I'll go get those things you requested," and so Pasha leaves the two of you.

>>>   "Nice to meet you," I say holding my hand out, "I hope that I am not stepping on any toes with myself joining onto this case?"

     You look down at the book lying on the table and recognize the language of the writing.  It looks similar to some books you and Raif had stolen in your thieving days long ago.  Raif had held on to those
books and you suppose he probably still has them today.

     "So," says Colus as he settles back in to his chair "do you have any ideas regarding these Night Raven robberies?"
 
>>>   You've heard of them over the past six months or so and just figured somebody with the thieves guild had just been acting creatively.  The only problem was that the thieves guild would never condone such
activities since it drew too much attention from the authorities.  You had also heard from your friend Mihkail (who had heard from a friend who was a priest of Faris) that the local Temple of Faris had been receiving some rather generous donations around the same time that the thefts were occurring.  You had never heard anything about murder.  Could it be that somebody is trying to frame this gentleman thief or has something more sinister occurred?

>>>   "Just a few ideas that have occurred.  One: He is not from the Thieves Guild.  Two: The local Temple of Faris receives generous amounts of money shortly after the robberies.  Three: raven's feathers are not exactly a common commodity...he is either buying them through some back alley market or hunting them himself.  In which case, we need to know if the feathers are from the same bird.  Four, this is the first time murder has been involved.  This worries me the most...because professionals with his amount of success know better and since he is not working for the Guild, now they will have a death warrant on him as well."

     "That's interesting, I hadn't heard that bit about the Temple.  Sounds like this thief was into it for more then money to begin with.  I wonder what changed it," said Colus.

>>>   I then smile at him and say, "Those are the first things that come to mind.  Off the subject, may I inquire what book you are reading."  After his response, I'll ask what he has learned about the case.  When
Pasha returns, I am going to ask a personal favor in return.  If he could look into a farmer that died recently and check him out...a man named Volmer.

     "Oh, that.  It's a basic primer on magic I picked up when I was going to the mage school.  My parents weren't rich enough to pay the price to keep me in so this is all that we could afford.  Besides that
the only thing that I might be able to add to your supposition of the case, this thief doesn't care about money if he's just giving it away.  Either he has a profession that gives him enough to live on and use for
these capers or he's wealthy and can perform robberies on a whim.  Either way he either likes the challenge or is trying to prove a point."

>>   "I agree, but I believe that his success may have made him a little arrogant.  I am unsure about the last case.  Why commit murder?  A killer is different from a thief.  we need to check the Lomas place,
plus ask my friend and see if the Temple has received any funds.  Iíll catch up on my reading of the case tonight."
 
     Pasha returns carry several parchments and a rolled up map.  "Here are the things you asked for Jonas, sorry to keep you waiting.  The map is  of the city and has all of the robberies marked out on it.  Don't
know what good they'll do, it all seems pretty random.  The list of victims is a pretty interesting one.  There are all kinds of people on it, most of them pretty powerful around here, even Lord Weigrief is in
there."

   You notice that there is also a writ of permission for you and Colus to operate at night just as you asked.  You ask Pasha about Volmer.  He tells you "Yes, that's one case were also investigating.  Heard you
brother was very concerned over this one.  He's actually been here to petition us to look into it but we've already closed the case, there just isn't anything to go on.  And for him to accuse Lord Weigrief's son like that, well that's just unfounded.  There isn't any evidence to suggest any such link at all.  If you would like
Colus could take you out to Volmer's place so you can check out things for yourself?"

You plan the direction your going to take with the case with Pasha and Colus for a little while before Pasha excuses himself for some important business he needs to take care of.  After that you wait for Colus to gather your things and then leave for Lomas house.  The castle courtyard is still bustling with activity but as you leave the courtyard and enter the square things begin to get even more crowded.  The King's Castle Square is one of the busiest areas of town due to the open market and all of the businesses that surround it.  The market was place in the Square directly in front of the castle in order to make security for the area easier.  Since Alania is a port town and most goods passing from Flame or Kannon must run through it, many exotic products can be found in the local markets.

    As you pass by the square on your way to Long Leg Rd. many of the hawkers try to catch your eye with striking silks or spices.  You notice that one cute girl give you a wink as she tries to get you to buy jewelry for that special person in your life.  As you get further from the market and the castle things start getting more quiet and peaceful.

>>   As she gives me the wink, I notice that an small silver locket catches my eye.   FLASBACK:  I remember that smiling face of my dead mother wearing one like it, and as I recall my Father had made it for
her.  I smile and inquire, "How much?"  And then absent mindedly forget to haggle and pay the price.  By advised Dave, that I keep my money in various locations on my person for Thievery purposes.

     Long leg rd. passes through some of the more well off neighborhoods and you see more servants and working people as you go.  You reach the house of Lomas and are met by a tall, gangly old butler at the door.  His vulture like nose seems to distract you as he asks you "What may I ask is you business with the mistress, kind sirs?" in a snooty, arrogant tone.

>>   "Yes, can you inform your lady that Master Jonas Mendal and Master Colus of the Palace Warders Police are here to see her. I guess my good man that you know way we are here...time is of the essence."  If he escorts us in, or makes us wait outside will determine my mood about him.  As he leaves us, I'll lean over too Colus and whisper, "charming personality."
>>    "Hey, just remember," I say to Colus," this may not be a Night
Raven, that man did not seem too disturbed."

     "Oh yes, right this way gentleman.  Follow me."  The inside of the house is even more impressive then the outside and you see age old paintings by classic artists and vases from all over the continent as
you walk through the marble tiled halls.  You follow the butler throughout the house until you come to a sitting room lined with books and flowers.
     "Please, make yourself comfortable while I go inform Madame that you are here" and he stalks off.
     You and Colus take refuge in two of the most comfortable seats you have ever seen and wait for the mistress.  If your memory serves you correctly the mistress is the only daughter of the Lomas's, Sidra.  As far as the court gossip goes you have heard that she could be quite a handful at times and had always fought with her parents about one thing or another.  You wonder if she might have had a hand in all of this.  You do recall seeing her at the ball the other night with several young men and for the life of you can't seem to recall her current boyfriends name.

>>   I look around the place sizing up security measures and squinting around.  "Colus, security looks decent here, could the Night Raven perhaps be adept at magic as well?  I am not familiar too much with it
but, could he mask himself with it...as peaceful as the Lomas were at rest , they either knew their assailant or was asleep.  I don't think it is completely natural stealth."

    As you and Colus discus the Lomas case, you hear a somebody sobbing coming down the hall.  You turn and see Sidra Lomas wearing a black mourning dress come through the entrance to the sitting room followed by the gangly butler.  "That will be all Sivraj, I'm sure I'll be fine by myself."

    You stand as Sidra enters the room, tears rolling down her cheeks.  She dabs at them with a dainty little lace handkerchief.  "Have you found the person who killed my parents yet," asks Sidra between sobs.

   "No, we haven't yet Mam, were here to investigate the incident and ask a few questions.  My name is Colus and this gentleman here is Jonas" says Colus.

   "Yes, I saw Jonas last night at the ball.  Oh, if fills me with horror knowing that while I was out having a good time my parents were being murdered," she breaks into a flood of tears at this point.  She steps into your arms and buries her head in your shoulder.  You feel her chest shudder as she sobs on your shoulder, her warm tears soaking through your shirt.

>>  I hold on to her and let her cry.  I know how hard losing parents is.  I let her finish and compose herself, and when she pulls back from me, I reach out and brush her tears from her face with my thumb while cupping her face in my hands.  "We will find the killers Sidra, but we need to ask you a few questions, and investigate the room.  I know that it is going to be hard for you, so at anytime you feel too
uncomfortable, stop.  I know how hard it is to lose your parents, mine where murdered before my eyes when I was a child, so if you ever need to talk, send someone to my estate with word.
>>   Does she truly seem upset or is she faking it?  How is the house
security?

As far as you can tell she seems truly upset but you are by far no expert.  Her tears are real but you've seen Leean cry on demand before so that is no indication although, you remember how you felt when your parents died and you know that Sidra's would have had to do something incredibly mean to her to force her to have them killed.  As far as the houses security system goes you feel you would have a pretty tough time breaking into it but you've done it before.  The walls surrounding the place are 12ft high and probably covered with broken glass but some of the trees growing around the house have limbs that jut over the wall making for easy access to the grounds.  You notice traces of guard dogs as you came in but you know how easy they are to foil.  The main thing that would give you problems are the windows which are barred, so how else would you get in, maybe the chimney?  It's been done before.  The only other alternative would be to use magic and the traces of that would be hard to mask you presume.

"Oh, thank you.  I'm so sorry, I just seem to be falling to pieces.  I think I'll be alright, but you said you have some questions for me?  I'm not sure how useful I can be as a witness since I was at the ball last night.  As far as daddy's business was concerned he left both me and my mother in the dark as far as his dealings were concerned.  I haven't even noticed anybody strange around the neighborhood.  Let me call in Sivraj, he might have noticed something."  She rings a dainty little bell and soon the gangly butler can be heard coming down the hallway.

"You rang, my lady?" says Sivraj.  You notice his rough desert features behind the vulture nose this time.  He's older but he still moves with ease, you'd place him in his 30's or 40's.

"Yes Sivraj, these gentleman would like to ask you a few questions regarding what happened to my parents" says Sidra as she wipes her nose.

"Yes my lady, as you wish," he says as he bows to Sidra.  "How may I be of service?"

Hey buddy, I am thinking that it is pretty common knowledge that myself and Raif are adopted.  But not to many knows our whole past except for our Father, Mihkail, and Dhorgar.  I have not said much about what happened to my parents to Leean.

>>>   "Well, first off, I would like to be up front and honest with you.  This was a well planned murder by someone that had something personal against your Father.  But the question that should be asked is why kill your Mother as well.  Milady, I would feel much better if you would accept extra guards form the Wardens or from someone close to you.  I am not ruling out the fact that this may be a blood feud from another house."  I say while looking her in the eyes and trying to be comforting.  I then transfer my gaze to Sivraj and say.

    "I don't know who could be so angry with my father that they would resort to murder" replies Sidra.  "He had so many friends, it's hard to imagine that he could have been killed so heartlessly."

>>>   "My good man, I need to know about anyone that may of had any personal enmities against Master Lomas, I need info on his business...both partners and antagonists.  Plus me and my colleague would like to take a look at the murder scene."

     "Yes, right this way sir," says Sivraj as he leads you out of the drawing room and back into the hallway.  You begin to pass through the oak paneled hallway and up a grand staircase that winds all the way up to
the upper floors of the house.  You pass many tapestries and carvings on your way and begin to wonder how many people it must take to keep such a place in order, where are the maids?

>>>  "Colus can you think of anything that I may of missed?"  Be advised Dave that I insist on hearing the details from him while we are being escorted to the murder scene.

    "No, I think you've covered it pretty well up until now.  I better watch out or you'll be taking my job pretty soon," jokes Colus.  "I think things will be a little clearer once we see the seen of the
crime."
    "Yes, things have been left as they were since we discovered the murder," says Sivraj," the only thing that has changed is that the master's body and that of his late wife were taken away by your men
early this morning.  We were asked strictly not to disturb anything but just the thought of what has happened causes Mistress Sidra such great distress that I hope we may attend to it once you gentleman are through this afternoon."
    You reach the top flight of stairs and enter the master bedroom at the end of the hallway.  Inside are the most intricate sculptures made of gold and fine jewels you have ever seen and on the other side of the
room a huge tapestry depicting the god Cha Za (the god of fortune) stands behind an ornate little alter to the god.  It looks like Cha Za may have been a little upset at his follower and let his luck run out.  Dwarfed by all of this is the canopied bed that the Lomas' were murdered in.  You can see blood everywhere, as though the Lomas' hadn't even had a chance to get out of bed.  As you look closer you notice that on one
side of the bed the blood seems to pool around the base of the pillow as though the person sleeping on that side had been sleeping when their throat was cut.  On the other side of the bed you notice that the occupant had put up somewhat of a struggle before being finished off due to the amount of blood that had been splattered on the white silk sheets and canopy.  You also notice the bed sheets being torn and ripped asunder.

>>>  "On which side of the bed did Master Lomas sleep?" I inquire.  "Also Colus, can you sense anything?"

Sivraj looks at you squarely and says "he slept farthest from the window, he hated the night chill."

Colus looks around the room a bit and then says "Let me give it a try, I might be able to detect something."  He sits down on the floor next too the alter and takes out some powders and tools from a small hip pouch and begins drawing a pattern on the floor.

     The strangest thing you notice is that the bars on the window seem to have been forced apart and as you look at the point at which they bow out you can see four little indentations on each bar roughly the width
of your fist.  As you put your hand into it seems to fit perfectly indicating that the person who broke in forced the bars apart with their hands.

     "Seems like one of them put up a tremendous fight, didn't anybody hear it," asked Colus as he goes to the window and looks out over the yard.  "Faris, whoever got in through here must have flown, it's a
straight drop four floors down."

     As you look out the window you notice a black ribbon of cloth snagged on a tree 5 feet from the window.  It appears as though whoever broke in used the tree and then jumped over to the bars and pulled them apart.  Such a feat would seem to be impossible by regular human standards but what kind of creature could this Night Raven be?

>>>   I look carefully at windows again and think 'could I have done that, I am immensely strong, but am I even that strong?'  I curse softly under my breath and ask Colus, "Is there any magical residue?

While you pace around the room examining the bed sheets and the Lomasí possessions, you smell the faint odor of incense burning as Colus lights the circle on fire.  With a flash the lines on the floor disappear in a blue nimbus of swirling smoke and sparks and Colus seems to study the smoke for a few minutes before looking up and saying "Yes, the room does seem to be charged with a strange kind of magic I havenít seen before.  I think itís demonic in nature but I canít be sure.  Iíll have to go down to the college and ask to be certain."  He then picks up his things and begins to look over the room with you."

>>>Whatever did this is not a normal human...that is if he is human at all.  Who was in the house last night?

Sivraj stands dejectedly at the door and says "Only me and the maid were in last evening all night. Sidra wasnít in for most of the night.  She must have come in around 1am or later.  I heard her come in and had to let her in through the door."

>>>When were the bodies discovered, and by whom.  And why in the hell wasn't the ruckus heard!"

"The maid discovered them this morning when she came up here to help the Misses prepare for breakfast.  We were downstairs and couldnít hear anything going on up here.  The master enjoyed his privacy."

>>>"Unless magic helped to open the window and silence the room.  Colus, what do you think?"

Colus says "Magic could have done all of this, if that is the case then who could have done it.  There arenít that many places one can pick up magic around here so that should narrow down the list of suspects but considering that one of the most prestigious schools of magic in all of Lodoss resides here that isnít going to be a short list.  I also think one of us will have to go out to that tree and fetch that ribbon of cloth.  We might be able to take it to the Sages College and have one of them take a look at it.  We can also look and see if it matches up with anybodyís cloak."

>>>Also Dave was the windows opened from the outside or inside, could this be a ruse?

No, the bars look very genuine and appear to have been pulled apart from the outside (you can tell from the angle of the bars).   You can even see the traces of the hands as you look at the indentations on the bar.  That would be very hard to duplicate.

You and Colus look around the room but don't notice anything else interesting.   Colus says "well, this isn't getting us anywhere.  Why don't we go over to the College to have that fabric tested.  Then we can go on from there.  We still have to look at the bodies, there might be something there."