Chapter 14 - Lunch with Friends
Cydric followed Tithion and Kalis up the circular stairs into the
fresh though muggy air above.
Kalis looked back at Cydric and smirked. "A bit stuffy down there,
eh?" Gleeful shrieks of the children echoed off the stone walls
as the children ran and jumped over low bushes.
"Van; Herrold, stop that this instance!" Kalis chided.
"No," Tithion said as he leaned against the doorway welcoming the hot
sunlight. "Let them play. It has been a long time since we've heard
the joy of children's play."
"There was a time when Sloran and Traa'llor laughed as they do. And
the other children too. These grounds have not always been so
somber." He pointed to one corner where a large crop of hedges made a
straight border. "Over there, we had a small pool, and the children
would make such a commotion that you would think a war had come. And
there, they had a mud pit that was used for the landscaping. They
were not much older than your two when they stormed my home with mud
and grime. They got a stern whipping that day, but looking back, I
just wish I could have joined them."
Kalis stepped beside the grey-bearded noble, "How did you come to
know them; Sloran and Traa'llor?"
"They were abandoned, much like your own. The church had provided some funds for
their care, but I took them in as my own. After a while we had nearly one
hundred children to care for. That was when the Church finally built the
orphanage. But by then, Sloran and Traa'llor were men, and it was time for them
to choose their life path. They chose to stay with me."
Shadow had stepped to the opening of
the staircase not making a sound. His sharp ears caught Tithion's words. Tithion really did seem like a good sort, though there was
no denying he had his secrets. The Phylinx spoke to the other investigators, “I
think we may have taken enough of this noble’s time. Let us head off to the
bar-r-r where Slorran was found and see what we can find out. Purrrhaps there
was a witness?”
Shadow had been considering some of
the things he had learned while they investigated Sloran’s body. He didn’t
receive any spiritual contact as Tithion did… but then, he was never into the
mystical game. His mother always said he was too hard-headed to consider a
wizard’s path. Of course, that was back when she still spoke. She hadn’t said
anything since the day Shadow’s father was killed. The thought traipsed around
the fringes of his mind and he grit his teeth and shook his head angrily to
chase it away.
Stepping out of the tomb into the air above, Shadow faced Tithion and bowed slightly to show respect and gratitude. “We are sorrrry to have intrruded upon your-r-r busy life. Thank you for-r-r your-r-r
Shadow began to walk away back into the dark cold cellar and then paused turning back for one more offer. “If
you would like extrra securrity tonight at your-r-r parrty, I would be happy to
oblige. Whoever-r-r did this to Slorran might not be beyond trrying it to you,
sir-r-r.” Plus, it offered him another opportunity to learn a few more secrets
about Tithion if he accepted.
"Party?" Tithion questioned then realized what the Phylinx
meant. "No, thank you. The ceremony will be a private affair. Only
the family and our closest friends will attend. And as you should
know, Jax has a strong hand on the security." The noble turned and
clutched the pendant that hung from his neck and the Phylinx could
hear Tithion mumble a prayer of guidance.
Almost meekly, the robed aristocrat turned and smiled. I thank you
for your time here and I apologize for my outburst. This..." he
sighed, "this has been a troubling day." He stretched his hand out to
shake the Phylinx' hand. "I am exhausted and will retire at the main
Shadow nodded and went back down the
Cydric stood there for a moment
pondering what Lord Tithion had said. Kalis' children ran around screaming
jumping through the hedges and when Van slipped and scrapped her knee, Cydric
was more than a little shocked at how much attention Kalis was giving her.
The assassin was also a bit taken back when even Tithion showed as much concern as he
did. After all it was just a scrape. In Cydric's childhood he never felt love,
was never babied if injured. No matter what the injury was, it was treated and
he was told to deal with the pain.
Cydric turned to Lord Tithion and said, "My Lord, I can understand now why your
loss of Sloran is so great. You have my deepest sympathy. I'm no fool, I can see
the love a father has for his child. And to out live your child, no matter what
age, must be too much to bare. All of
my fellow inspectors and myself just ask that you bare with us a little longer,
and all this horror will one day fade into a sad memory. Will you please send
for my friend Eric Corbin? I have much to do and a messenger will be more swift
"Certainly, though I still do not know what aid he could be. I will
retire to the house and send a scribe to you." Stretching Tithion headed
back towards the exit of the hedge-maze.
Cydric followed and stood waiting for the
scribe in open view. Once the scribe came Cydric dictated a short note;
'Eric, I need your help in identifying a poison. Lord Tithion's
servant has been
murdered and it appears he was poisoned. I've been made an inspector by
Phineous, I'll explain that later. If you would please make haste to Lord
Tithion's manor I would be most grateful. Signed Cydric.
At that Cydric walked with the scribe to the messenger that would deliver the
note. "Be quick about it lad, the contents of this note are quite important and
helpful to finding Sloran's murderer." As he watched the messenger leave, Cydric
felt his stomach rumbling. 'The dead could wait,' he thought.
By the time Traa'llor returned with the other inspectors, Cydric was already
Tithion and Traa'llor did not join the inspectors in the feast hall, but
instead issued orders to other servants.
"I have grown weary and will leave you to Traa'llor's charge. Good
day gents and lady." With a bit of a flutter to his robe, the lord turned
into the breeze and sat by the fountains.
Entering the feast hall, the inspectors found a simple meal, despite the
grandeur of the hall. A nice mix of foods consisting of spiced and poached
pigeons, potatoes, and honey briskets were set out, and despite the meager look
on such a large table, it had quite a rich flavor. Tithion
certainly had a fine cook. Even the wine had a unique taste that was
not too sweet nor too bitter.
Traa'llor, sitting in the shade against the side of the house, dosed
off. Kalis and the children joined the inspectors and Vandra sat
close to Kanth watching every move the cat-woman made. Herrold spoke incessantly
filled with questions about battles and sword play and begged for the
warriors to show him how to use a sword. However, Kalis politely
"Young boys have no need for violent pursuits." Followed by Herrold's
whining. It was obvious that the late night and constant play was
wearing on his small body.
Vorn seemed famished and shoveled food into his mouth at a frightful pace.
Noticing the probing eyes of Van on her constantly, Kanth
best to manipulate her paws to properly cut and eat her food. It was
a difficult task, but her dexterous and nimble paws worked properly.
Stuffing the pigeon meat into his mouth and swilling it down with the wine, and
finally satisfied, Vorn wiped his mouth with a cloth napkin.
"This is prrim and lady-like," Kanth said to the young girl while
eating. "We don't speak with food in our-r-r mouths. We cut our-r-r
food into one small bite at a time. We use our-r-r utensils in the
manner-r-r that they werre crreated for. We do not place our-r-r
elbows on the table. And finally, we don't stare at Vorn while he
pigs out." Her last statement made the young girl giggle, and she too
had to stifle a laugh herself.
Even Vorn grinned, but being mindful of the time,
he asked the other inspectors, "Hmmm? So were do you all
want to go now? I'll simply follow." Watching to see if anyone was paying
attention, he stood and snuck some honey briskets into his backpack.
The conversation over the meal focused on the clues they had gathered
and Kanth recalled the chest in Phineous' office. Though it looked
like a standard issue footlocker, it was certainly large enough to
fit the artifact that Tithion had described.
Quickly standing and looking about the table, Kanth excused herself
politely and rushed out to find Tithion again. Again, he was sitting facing the fountains, obviously deep in
thought or fading into slumber.
"Lorrd Tithion," she spoke soothingly so as not to startle the man
out of his deep thought. "I needed to ask you one last thing beforre
we delve into the investigation furrther," she stated as the man
turned to her, a look of anxiety and irritation apparent in his
"My apologies for interrupting you yet again. In what manner-r-r was
this arrtifact transporrted? Or-r-r, how was it carrried? You said
it was the size of a map-case, was it carrried as such or-r-r within
The noble blinked several times as he tried to shake the sleep from
his mind. "I do not know. Sloran was traveling by ox cart so it
could have been in anything. Knowing Sloran though, he would have
packed it in a sack filled with grains. He did that often to dissuade
those searching for valuables. Why do you ask?"
"No rreason in parrticular-r-r, I just thought I had stumbled on a clue."
After lunch, Cydric got up from the table and excused himself from the
group. "I'll tell Lord Tithion we're leaving." With that Cydric left.
Joining Kanth near the fountains Cydric gave the lord a short, quick bow and
said, "We're about to head out my lord, thank you for your patience and
understanding in these dark times. If you don't mind, I would like to attend
Sloran's funeral in the off chance that his killer might show up. Sometimes a
murderer will go to the funeral of a man he's killed, just to watch his victim
be lowered in the ground. Sometimes it's to watch the pain and havoc they've
caused the family of the victim. Also if you do not trust Phineous, like myself,
there are other ways to send us a message in case something new should turn up
or be discovered. My friend Eric Corbin can be trusted, or I have my own small
office we could use as a meeting point. Its just a thought. But thank you for
your time and hospitality as well. I hope that in time the pain will subside to
a tolerable level."
"Thank you inspector. I will keep your offer in mind." He stood and
stretched his hand out to shake Cydric's hand. "Please let the black
inspector know he is welcome at the ceremony. I was too overwhelmed
at the moment to properly invite him."
When Tithion and Cydric's hands clasped the noble's expression
changed. His look of weary resignation evaporated with a look of deep concern and focus. Then the moment passed and the noble's eyes darted
back and forth as if searching. He then sat down on his seat and
faced the pool.