The guardhouse at the gate to the mansion is empty. We knock politely before Nat picks the lock, at Lt. Col Dalish’s orders. We then follow his orders to approach the house, knock again, and then pick that lock, too. The house is empty. We look around and find the kitchen and banquest hall, and then the study where it happened. There are clear signs of the murder, so we spread out and search around. One of the windows is cloudy, with the smell of bourbon. Gross! He was murdered in his wing-back chair by the fireplace. There hs been no effort to clean the place, but it looks like his body didn’t rest here long before being discovered and removed.
Dalish finds holes in the walls that no one else can see. They each contain a single smooth, dark stone. Remy cannot see the hole, nor the apparent illusion covering it. Must be that spell they found first year that covers magic. It takes him a moment to find all three, but when he does, they are all surrounded by Divination magic. Nat sits down with them to identify what they are. They’re crystal balls, but they’re linked, and they record about a month. Just like in that lab where we found our friend trapped in a bottle.
She sets them up to replay the murder over the entire room, scanning through until she finds the right night. We all stand back by the door to watch.
A dark room, dying embers in the fireplace, lightning crashing outside. Wiest stands at the window, breathing burbon fumes onto the surface. He pours himself another drink, and then goes back to watching. The Black Knight suddenly appears behind him. Dalish wants to stop and go back, but I insist we watch it through first. Wiest notices, but keeps on sipping.
It’s been a long time, Sir Knight.
Can I offer you a drink?
No Declan, this is not a personal visit. You know why I’m here.
Yes, of course.
He brings up the lights and the Red Knight is standing right in front of us by the door. I did no jump, I don’t care what Marybeth says. He is blocking the doorway, and simply waves at Wiest.
I have to know. Why do you persist? You were there, you witnessed our sins. You could have stopped us.
Rictus killed the king!
Yes, but why? The King is dead.
The King is Dead. I am not. Would you prefer to stand or sit?
Wiest starts casting a spell, but the Red Knight makes a move which ends his spell before it begins. The Black Knight pushes him into the chair.
Can’t blame a man for trying. The King would have made slaes of us all. We did what we had to do.
The Black Knight kills him in one smooth strike through his chest and the chair.
The King is Dead. Long live the King. Come, we must leave quickly.
And they do.
We go back over it again, more slowly, and picking out details as we can. They have no marking on their armor, but his sword has the royal insignia and the knight’s code engraved on it. He could have been a royal guard or a member of the family. Our official history lessons say that they were all killed with the King or driven away. Looking closely, we notice Aranea watch the whole event from the fireplace. Neither of the knights look at her, so it’s hard to tell if they knew.
Nat scans back through the two weeks before the death. She is spying on him several times in the week prior to his death. He doesn’t have many guests, but Alleria does visit him once. They only converse in small talk, though. Perhaps they were messaging as we do. We skip ahead to after his death. Two hours after the knights leave, a servant discovered his body. Thirty minutes after that, the room is swarming with mages. Aranea checks in from the fire a few times while the mages are around, but no one notices then either. Thirty minutes after the first mages, Prime Illusionist Pyrus arrives. He takes some blood, investigtes the wound, and authorizes removal of the body. The next day, around noon, Diedre arrives in haggard condition. She investigates and casts some spells, but leaves after ninety frustrating minutes.
We need to go see if there are any royalist histories left. Maybe in that library were the tree grew. First, though, let’s check the rest of the house. We find a few magic things, some armor, a mirror, and a ring. There’s some arguement about stealing from a dead Prime, or more specifically, from that dead Prime’s very angry daughter. Nat identifies the mirror as being able to trap souls. Remy says the armor is of a Royal family or their personal guard. Right, whatever, let’s go!
Should we tell Rictus? Why? He’s a jerk and he already knows the Black Knight did it. What about Alleria? We could ask what they talked about. We head for her office at the Tower of Justice, but the door is closed and the office empty. Nat goes in anyway, and gets the note she left her. She’s addressed this one to HeyHey and says she is busy, and can’t help, but we should be sure to attend the deliberative.
We head back across to the city. We head back to my house on the way to everywhere else. Philomena is waiting there and is pretty annoyed at Klyce, who explains he was just trying to protect her. While they talk, I head up to check on Gerald and warn him about spies in the fireplace. It’s kinda fun to scare him, but he really is trying to help. When I come back down, we head out to see Inspector Poissant. Only he’s not an inspector anymore. He’s been promoted to Chief of Police and he’s down at headquarters now. Oh, okay. That’s almost all the way back to the Petals… Not today.
We head over to the Bronx to look for the library. Only, it’s been demolished, and tenaments are being built on the site. The foreman said mages helped remove things and burnt a lot of it. Frustrated, and in disagreement about going to see Poissant now, we head over to get Philomena’s parents. They aren’t terribly thrilled with the idea, but they pack a bunch of luggage and allow us to escort them away. Her mother is looking much better these days, so there’s that at least. The boys pick up some newspapers on the way, and find a bunch of strange stories of abductions and cults warring in the streets. Once we get everyone settled and clean sheets in a private room for Philomena’s parents, we take watches and sleep for the night.
We are all very happy to wake up in the morning unmolested. So happy, we barely argue about heading down to the Police Headquarters to see Chief Poissant. Using Dalish’s military authority, we ask to see him and are passed from receptionist to receptionist until we get to his office. We sit to wait for him, and he arrives a short while later with several officers in tow. He is quite happy to see us, and we offer him congratulations, and he thanks us for helping him get where is is today. He invites us in, dismissing the officers who had come with him.
We ask him if he’s seen the inverted Dawnmother symbol, but he hasn’t. Dalish explains the cult and Marybeth asks after missing persons cases. He says it’s been two months of homeless people disappearing right off the street. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, and no clues to who is doing it, and no bodies turning up dead. Nat explains the vision she had of the cult sacrificing people and their bodies turning to smoke. We ask about the new church in Brooklyn, but he says the Tree Area polices themselves. After couple messages, we decide to show him Marybeth’s brother. He hasn’t seen him, but asks if we can find out where he is supposed to be through our military connections. So, we know where to start looking.
I ask him about the knights. He is staying well and clear, especially after Diedre came and threatened them to send her any reports they might have. He wants nothing to do with our lot. Then he offers us drinks, just as the wall explodes behind him.
Two demons with claws for hands, and three boney devils come storming in from outside in the middle of broad daylight. Oh Dawnmother! This is getting out of hand! We immediately get Poisson out of the room. I whip up a storm outside, and the boys to their best to keep the lights on. Eventually we put them all down. But the office is a disaster, and the attacks are now public.