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james garrison, 03 Feb '17

Dead Letters, Part Three...

"What letters?" Dunbar wheezed as he shuffled his immense ursine bulk past a stack of precariously piled manuscripts and a slightly singed crate marked 'Caution: Explosives' in three languages.

"These aren't just any old letters my friend--"

"You're paying me a Thousand Marks. You have my attention. Let's keep things professional."

"Ah. Well then," Gnosiomandus knew then that Dunbar still blamed him for the incident last Spring; "Yes. You see, I have come into the possession of a number of misrouted letters that I suspect may date back to before the Occupation..."

"Hmph. Which Occupation? Where did you recover these letters? Rather; who retrieved them for you?"

"Does it matter? Really? What I want to know, why I've come to you, is to engage your services as a professional in determining the contents of these letters..."

"Discretely of course."

"Of course. We cannot afford another...unfortunate episode..."

"I agree. Ramthir was always too hot-headed for their own good, let alone anyone else. Shameful business. Terrible what they did to her in retribution."

"Yes. Terrible."

Neither scholar felt particularly good about what had happened to their former colleague. Both were more than a little relieved to have escaped the wrath of the Administration. Either of them might easily have shared Ramthir's fate but for the grace of bad timing and dumb luck. It was as humbling as it was troubling to them both, a sort of bond they shared uneasily between them.

"You have the letters with you now?"

"Of course." Gnosiomandus pulled forth a musty-smelling and dubiously-stained courier's pouch and presented it to Dunbar.

Dunbar sniffed the thing, wrinkling his over-large roseate nose in distaste.

"Franzikaner. There are Etrurian markings along the side. A patch from Soliznaya and another that was used under the Pruztians during the Second Occupation...ah but this...this is not from the Second Occupation. No. This patch is one of the older ones that the Pruztians copied, badly, from the previous regime. This thing is very likely a few centuries old. How did you come by such a thing?"

"Curious?"

"You knew the answer to that question before you left your room. Of course I'm curious. I wasn't born like this," Dunbar gestured angrily at his shaggy quadrupedal underside; "I wound up like this after poking around into matters that might have best been left alone...but of course I didn't leave well enough alone. Bastards."

"Yes. Truly an apt description for them. So. Ahem. Are you still inclined to examine the contents of the pouch? Discretely. I know for a fact that three of the letters in this pouch bear diplomatic seals..."

"Seals? Diplomatic correspondence from around the time of the First Pruztian Occupation? Of course I'm interested!"

There was a knock at the door.

Both scholars froze momentarily. Their eyes locked one to the other. Each considered their options, escape routes, excuses, what weapons were handy, what spells they could bring to bear most quickly, the usual things one does in such a situation. Gnosiomandus deferred to his associate--it was Dunbar's chambers after all and one ought to accord such a scholar all due respect within their own work-space.

Another knock. More forceful this time.

Dunbar seized the pouch and shoved it under his desk, dislodging numerous papers and folders and such. He pointed to a chair half-buried under more papers, map-rolls, folded sheets of antique vellum and gestured for Gnosiomandus to take a seat. Gnosiomandus carefully shifted the pile of literary debris from the chair to the floor and took his place for what was next, all the while mnemonically rebuilding the most open-ended frameworks for a series of hurtful or mischievous spells he hadn't needed to use in several days.

A gesture and a grunt from Dunbar allowed the massively barred and warded iron-bound door to swing open daintily on its well-oiled hinges.

Beatrice Eberhard, Mistress of the Arenas and one of the three most fearsome women either men had ever met in their lives stalked into the room. With a wave of her taloned left hand the door slammed shut with a tomb-like certainty.

"I require the assistance of you both."

Comments · 1

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  • james garrison said...

    Picking up where we left off previously.

    • Posted 7 months ago