One might think that a solitary traveler entering Sesus quietly and without fanfare at the height of the Feast of the Triumvirate would be able to slip by without drawing much notice, but if that traveler was a high-ranking State Magus of great professional and social renown, one would be mistaken.
In fact, although Lord Jeneyeru Nightwise Ereonis had avoided a scene upon docking, the fact of his arrival was known before he ever entered the harbor. The most enterprising correspondents of the newspapers made a habit of loitering about the psychegraph offices of Sesus where a seer or transcriber or runner could easily be bribed for a peak at messages going in and out. So it was that while Jeneyeru was enjoying a light breakfast, a long bath, and a reasonable nap, the afternoon broadsheet edition of the Sesus Daily Herald was being printed. The late supplement that hit the streets in the third quarter of the day included the gossip notice – prepared the day before and held pending confirmation of his presence – that Master Nightwise of the Navigators was in town on Guild business, together with speculations as to which high society salons the famous wizard would grace for luncheon, tea, and supper during his stay.
A smile broke across Aeto Arrowwise’s broad mouth as she read it. “Perfect! What better expert testimony could I hope for?”
She set off immediately for the embassy with the case file under her arm. Was it presumptuous of her to think of approaching a foreign State Magus concerning the case of Lotye O’Tulvar, a lowly thief and swindler? Very probably, but she had not earned the name Arrowwise by aiming low.
For his part, Lord Jeneyeru had not yet seen the broadsheet notice, as he was still working his way through the full morning editions. Lounging on a divan in the afternoon sunlight pouring through the vast windows, his long robe spread luxuriously about him, the wizard was entirely occupied by two news items. The first had consistently made the front pages of all the papers, local, regional and global, for the past few days.
Daughter Beset Off Hammer, was the gist of most of the headlines, followed later by such things as Mystery Summoner Attacks State Vessel and Disturbing Details Emerge in Arian Sea Incident.
“‘The Beast was like nothing seen before,’ say survivors,” the valet, Thimble, read aloud from the Aeldreth Gazette, one of many papers strewn on the floor between his divan and Jeneyeru’s.
“I’ve no doubt,” said Jeneyeru. “Listen to this, from the Herald two days ago.” The piece was tucked away on the inside fold of the fourth page. “Ghost Attack in City Square? Festival Celebrants panicked by gruesome Apparitions, injuring fifteen. ‘They looked like starved and raving ghosts,’ said a fishmonger on the scene, ‘but that square is nowhere near a cemetery.’ The apparitions, dispelled by responding guardians, were reported to be particularly horrifying and threw observers into a panic, triggering a stampede. Up to fifteen bystanders were injured before order was restored. Guardians report several persons are in custody and that the matter is being treated as a case of mischief.”
“Do you think it is related, milord?”
“Perhaps, Thimble, perhaps. Panic-inducing apparitions — it sounds familiar.”
A knock at the door took Thimble away, leaving Jeneyeru to leaf through another paper, looking for any other mention of the crowd panic. When his servant returned, the faerie presented him with a visiting card emblazoned with the crest of the Guild of Law.
“An ambassadorial clerk brought that, milord. He says an Attorney Arrowwise is downstairs, asking for an audience. Something about ghosts, apparently.”
“Indeed?” said Jeneyeru, eyebrow raised as he examined the card. A case of mischief?, he thought, or one of fate? “Have her brought up.”
In but a few minutes, Aeto Arrowwise was led up the grand stairway by a sergeant-at-arms and handed off to Thimble, in the form of a lithe young man, who walked the blue-robed lawyer into the hastily tidied parlor where the Master of Shadows rose to greet her.
“How may I be of service, Mistress Attorney?”
To be continued…