Typical, Peino thought in exasperation when Lafitte assigned his First Mate to carry the letters to the Garrison. Just typical.
His brothers, along with others who had been observing the proceedings so far, leaned in close about him as he finished the letter, which instructed the commander of the Garrison unit at Teur to march his force to Mt. Isolla, there to receive orders from His Serene Highness Peino Starhand Ereonis of the Grand Navigators, or his designee, under the Authority of Marque of the High King, all on a matter regarding acts of banditry.
“There’s a turn, brother,” said Ruili, “but is it a good or a bad one?”
“I am surprised the good captain would wish to part with his assassin,” Jeneyeru added.
“I will never understand that man,” said Peino as he folded the letter and slipped it in between the folds of the sealed letter of marque, “but perhaps ‘tis for the best. We wondered how to be rid of that fellow, and here he is, to be set safely on the road to Teur.”
“But can we trust him with the task?” said Jeneyeru, and Peino laughed softly and bitterly.
“Not at all, but the more I think on it, the more I think the turn turns for us, after all. The King’s marque will attest to no one but me, so even if he attempts to use it unlawfully he will gain nothing but to be distant from us. The worst that might happen is that no soldiers will arrive to support us.”
Ruili and Jeneyeru nodded at Peino’s reasoning. A letter of marque was one of those high legal instruments that was not valid if not enchanted with a Power of Attestation spell. This meant that, like Y’lanna Sparti’s passport, the evidentiary records Aeto Arrowwise dealt with and similar documents, High King Iviar’s letter granting Peino authority to act for the Floating Throne had the power to speak for itself and attest to its own history and who was permitted to use it and who not. No matter who might hand it to the army commander, they would not be able to pass themselves off as anything more than a messenger for Peino Starhand.
It fell to Jeneyeru’s loyal valet, Thimble, to raise the main objection.
“But, begging your lordships’ pardons,” the fae said, inserting his head over his employer’s shoulder, “what of the stronghold? How will the Guild be saved from these wretched bandits if we have no army to run them out once they are in?”
“Aye, Pei,” said Jeneyeru, remembering his stern feelings about Peino’s plan, “you may give not a fig for my guild, but I most certainly do. If I allow you to use the lives and treasures of the Masters as a lure, the least you can give in return is the means to rescue them.”
“Let me go to Teur as well,” Thimble continued. “I can make sure the letters reach their destination, and in the doing, I can lead yon Master Assassin on a fine fae chase to keep him clear of your lordships.”
Ruili and Peino both smiled at the suggestion, but Jeneyeru demurred.
“I am not as willing as Captain Lafitte to be without my best servant at a time like this.”
“But you have Mistress Lotye, Master Nightwise,” Thimble replied. “She is as good a thief as I, for all she is no fae.” In his eagerness, the valet forgot to blush at this rare reference to his pre-valet career with the multifaceted Guild of Spies.
“She has never been to Mt. Isolla before,” Jeneyeru said in counter-point.
“Thimble raises a strong point,” said Peino. “Perhaps it would be wise to have a set of eyes on Lafitte’s man, as a general precaution.”
“Someone to act as emissary for the letters,” Ruili suggested, his dramatic imagination taking up the thread, “someone that fellow can escort as guard, as it were. Someone not immediately suspicious.”
“That lets you out,” Jeneyeru teased Thimble.
“We have our pick of followers of Pwyll,” Peino said, the options ticking off in his mind. With a one-time thief, a one-time spy, and an apparent assassin all on the crew, not to mention the bandits and probably half the faerie hovering around them this very moment, the darker guilds of the law god were well represented on this journey. This preponderance of criminality had not occurred to him before, but he began to think of it now in terms of something that could free him and his brothers to play to their own strengths, as followers of the weather god and the gods of the warrior’s arts.
“Perhaps we should seek a volunteer,” he remarked half jokingly, “or draw straws.”
But even as he smiled at Thimble and all others gathered around, he could not help but feel a concern for anyone who might set out on the road with Beau Bergeron.