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Murder Most Foul
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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11
Another Journey Made

Another Journey Made


Wendthor and his sister went again to listen to the reading of the trial’s transcripts the following day, and following the noon meal their father went to the People’s Hall himself to observe what happened. What he saw and heard disturbed him. Each of those who were part of the deputation had pen and ink by him, and he saw them all writing frequently as they went through each piece of testimony. Even Wendthor was taking notes, as, he realized, were Belrieth and her companion Mariessë as well.

Now that he was hearing the words read aloud, even Benargil found himself questioning some matters that had seemed sound when he’d reviewed the case before. How was it that Hanalgor, a mere guardsman, had come to read so much of the works of Macardion of Dor-en-Ernil to be seen as one truly knowledgeable about the Nameless One and what pleased him and gave him strength to return as he’d done? Why had no one questioned Leverion son of Medril further on the matter of his father’s missing liquor or how the keys were where they belonged when his father led the constable to them? And, if the three accused of the crime had taken the liquor, why had they apparently hidden it away at the time, returning to drink it three days later? How had Garestil been induced to confess to having witnessed the murders, and then to embroider upon the original story to include himself in the actions that led to the children’s deaths, and yet to repeatedly recant what he’d said before and to refuse to testify against the others when the actual trial began? And how was it that it had been determined that a particular knife said to belong to the youth Carenthor had been used in the killing of the children and the removal of the manhood of the one boy? This knife, which was intended for a fisherman and had tines intended to help scale fish on the back side of the blade, had been found in a duck pond inside the eastern wall of Destrier, not far from Carenthor’s house, but also not far from the houses of at six other families. And if Carenthor was said to be the one who cut the manhood from the child, then why was it that Danárion and not Carenthor was condemned to death?

These questions were going through his head as the reading for the day stopped at last. They were not through the whole of the trial, which had gone on for three whole days, but it was nearing the end of the transcript. What was most disturbing to Benargil proved to be the portions that had been left out of the final transcript that had been given him, but that the scribes following the words of the counselors and Enelmir had yet recorded and that were found in the scribes’ works. Often when a question was raised regarding whether or not the jury should be allowed to hear a particular testimony, the twelve Men who were to decide for guilt or innocence would be sent from the room and arguments, some of them apparently very heated, would be held in their absence. And there was no question that Enelmir had ever favored Master Fendril in these arguments. One lawyer from Lebennin who had studied how it was that an individual could be induced to give false evidence against himself was forbidden to speak at length on this before the jury, much less to indicate how it was that he had come to the conclusion that Garestil had been made to do so himself.

“But since Garestil has recanted his confession, by law we cannot reference it in the trial!” Fendril had argued.

"But the fact remains that it is known throughout the region that he did offer a confession, even though few know the particulars of how it was forced from him,” Caraftion had responded. “And so these three young Men are in a cleft stick not of their own making—all know that Garestil confessed, but not the truth of the nature of that confession nor of the inaccuracies it contains. And this witness is not allowed to explain to the jury how it is that his very words proclaim that Garestil himself was not there in those woods or anywhere near the gully where the bodies were found! He cannot show that Garestil to this day cannot say how it is that the children actually died!”

Why had this argument not been there in the transcript he had reviewed?

Nor had the constable Amdir been allowed to explain at length why he had objected to how Hanalgor had carried out the test by water of Garestil. And one youth had been refused the right to confer with his own counsel before he must answer a question that could affect his own impending trial on an unrelated matter—that, too, had been ignored when Umbardacil had made his transcript.

He did not go on the third day, and when the deputation returned for the noon meal all their faces were grave. As for Belrieth, Wendthor, and Mariessë, who’d joined them for the meal, it was plain they were all outraged but were restraining themselves with marked effort.

Berevrion said, soon after they had seated themselves following the Standing Silence, “We will need to go to Destrier this afternoon, and will stay there perhaps three nights. We need to see for ourselves the place where the bodies were found and where the children are said to have died, and we need to speak with a few of the witnesses. A healer saw the bodies and examined them?”

“Yes, Avrandahir, who is from Belfalas. He trained in Rohan, although he has had some training also from the court healers of Lord Forlong in Lossarnach. There are some there who examine the bodies of those found to have died unexpectedly to rule that they did not die by the design of others. Avrandahir lives in Hevensgil, although he serves wherever he is needed within the region under my authority.”

Berevrion nodded. “In the north when there is a question as to how someone died, if at all possible we call upon one of the healers who has trained under Lord Elrond, as they received extensive training on how to recognize cause of death. And as the greatest of these among our own is our Lord Aragorn, we often do not need to go far to find one qualified to determine what has happened to the body both before and after death. Good, then—we will definitely confer with Master Avrandahir. Now, if you will grant us letters patent indicating our authority to question what witnesses we need to accompany those given us by our Lord King, we will finish our meal and prepare to go.”

At this Wendthor looked up from the fowl upon his plate to meet his father’s gaze. “If you will allow it, Father, I would go along as your representative, to see that all is done thoroughly.”

Benargil took a deep breath. Should he allow the boy to go along? But, as Wendthor himself had pointed out, he was almost of age, and ought indeed to be putting into practice the teaching Bilstred had given him. Nor, looking at the determined expression on his son’s face, did Benargil believe that Wendthor would agree to remain should he tell him no. At last he nodded reluctantly. “Then, go indeed as my representative, my son.” He was surprised at how quickly the youth reverted to a pleased grin that reminded him strongly of the child Wendthor had been not so very long ago. But somehow he knew that the young Man would not embarrass himself or bring shame upon his trust.

“I will go as well,” suddenly announced Lyrien, to the surprise of Benargil’s entire household.

“But why?” asked Lady Marien.

“I was one of those who served as a scribe in the original trial,” she explained, “as Master Anorgil determined somehow on their first day. He approached me yesterday to ask why some of the statements in the final transcript do not agree exactly with the scribes’ work I produced, and I told him what I knew of Master Enelmir’s instructions to Master Umbardacil to remove the portions of the trial that the jury did not hear, as such portions have no bearing on how the jury decided their case. He and Lord Berevrion wish to question me further, and this is perhaps best done if we talk as we ride, that the time is not wasted.

“Plus,” she added as if it were an afterthought, “I wish to be out in the countryside once more. It grows stifling at times, remaining ever within Anwar’s walls.”

“Where will you stay within Destrier?” asked Master Bilstred.

“Uncle Normandil has a large house—I have suggested that we might seek to stay there while we are in the village.”

“A good thought. Perhaps I might accompany you as well, then. It is long since I last spent time with my brother.”

Lyrien’s expression grew remote at this, but as she could apparently think of no reason to object it was soon accepted that a party of eleven would ride west, including the members of the deputation, their two guards, Wendthor, the healer and his adult daughter, and Master Caraftion. Benargil was glad that at Marien’s stern look Belrieth decided not to ask to go, too. At least she was yet young enough to abide by her mother’s will.

An hour after the noon meal was finished all gathered in the court beyond the door. As they waited for their horses to be brought around, Benargil told them, “I have sent a messenger to Destrier for you, advising Master Nerwion that you are on your way, and instructing him to make all aware they are to cooperate fully with you.”

“And we thank you for this, my lord,” Berevrion responded with marked courtesy. “If we find we must stay beyond a third night, we will send to so advise you.”

Very soon all were astride, and Benargil watched with mixed relief and apprehension as they rode down the street, Wendthor riding by the side of the northern lord, toward the gates to the city and the Highway west toward Destrier.

*******


The day was hot beneath a blue sky streaked with wisps of cloud, swallows swooping high after insects, and crows calling shrilly after the party as it passed the copses in which they took shelter from the heat of the day. “I pray that it shall not prove too warm for Mistress Lyrien’s comfort,” commented Berevrion as they passed a party of Men and boys, stripped to the waist, raking the cut hay into shocks in a field to the north of the way.

Wendthor, who felt lighthearted beyond his expectation to have been granted this responsibility by his father, glanced back over his shoulder at Lyrien, who rode, apparently brooding, behind Caraftion and between her father and Master Anorgil, Master Bilstred regaling the lawyer with some story while ignoring his daughter’s taciturn nature. “Do not worry for her,” the youth advised his companion. “She seldom complains of aught—or at least, she does not do so aloud. Rather, she allows her silence to speak her disapproval instead.”

“Have you been often to Destrier?” the Man asked, changing the subject.

“Not often—perhaps five times in all of my years. It is a dull place for one as young as I was the last time I was there, I fear. There are few that we would consider sufficiently important to visit, and Father has gone there usually only to review the tithes gathered of the crops for the public stores.”

“Did he go in the wake of the deaths of these children?”

“No. Why? Ought he to have done so?”

“Perhaps,” Berevrion said, looking about him. It was obvious that this had been once a region rich with grain, the source of most of the flour used in the baking of Gondor’s bread, and the grains used in the brewing of its beer and ales. Many fields they passed, however, had obviously lain fallow for too many seasons, and there would be much clearing of scrub necessary before some could be properly sown again. For every two farmsteads they passed where the womenfolk hung out their wash upon the hedges to dry, they passed one or two with empty windows and gaping roofs. “Enemies have passed this way many times, I would wager.”

Wendthor became more solemn. “Indeed. From east and west they have come in the past ten years or more, and we have lost many people.” He pointed to the ruins of a large farmhouse south of the road. “That farm was my grandfather’s property, and it was once very rich. The tenants were prosperous, and very kind. I came here with my grandfather when I was, what? Seven? Their son was older than I and most gracious to as spoiled a child as I was. He took me around the farm and allowed me to gather the eggs and to drive the kine in from the fields, and to bring food to the swine.

“Three years later enemies came by night and slew all on the property, and burned the house and the fields. We haven’t been able to find anyone who would take the place since, as close as it is to the road, as easy as it proved for enemies to approach it.”

The expression on Berevrion’s face as he gave a nod of recognition reassured Wendthor that the northerner truly understood the situation. “So many farms that used to line the road from Bree east to the High Pass were destroyed as well,” he said. “We could not be everywhere. So many died at the hands of orcs, wargs, and brigands, all of them encouraged by Sauron and his minions.” He looked about once more. “At least now there is a chance to bring people back to those lands that the Enemy of us all caused to go empty. Gondor and Arnor will again be filled with fruitful farms and many people, and our cities shall be built anew.” He smiled, and he appeared so confident that Wendthor had no choice but to believe the Man’s predictions would come true.

In the late afternoon they passed another village. “That is Hevensgil,” Wendthor informed his guest. “The largest pottery in Anórien is in that village.”

Berevrion leaned forward to examine the place as they passed it. “So, it was there that the youth Garestil went to learn the art of tumbling,” he said thoughtfully. “On our way back perhaps we should stop there and speak with the potter who taught the youths of Destrier who came to study with him.”

“Young Men of Destrier came this far to study the skills of tumbling?” asked Wendthor. “But how do you know?”

“Master Malthor told us of it, and said that the potter spoke regularly of the progress of his students, and especially that of young Garestil.”

Wendthor was now eyeing the village with more interest as they continued down the road.

Perhaps two miles further they passed yet another ruinous farm north of the roadway. On it the largest structure recognizable was a roofless byre. Harolfileg had been riding not far behind them, and as they passed this his horse sidled away from the place with a snort of distress. Berevrion looked over his shoulder. “What causes your steed discomfort, Master Harolfileg?” he asked.

“There has been evil here,” the Elf said. “Not a recent evil, but one that has yet left its mark upon the land itself.” He shook his head. “I have heard the land lament more than once during our ride. The Dark Lord and his creatures did much to destroy those who dwelt here.”

Berevrion nodded as if he’d expected just such an answer, and turned his attention back toward the road ahead of them.

All were ready for a rest by the time they reached the gates of Destrier. Said gates were open, and guards stood smartly at attention to see them welcomed. Nerwion, Master for the village, came forward to greet them, and hearing that they thought to stay with Master Bilstred’s brother led the way to the home of Master Normandil, a former merchant who had taken a house here after hiring others to manage most of his business. As he led these guests to their destination Nerwion confided, “Indeed, I have been advised by Master Normandil that he hoped you would accept his hospitality during your stay, considering that by this time you must be familiar with his brother within Anwar and Lord Benargil’s household. And,” he added directly to Bilstred and Lyrien, “I suspect he will be very glad to welcome your visit alongside the deputation from our new Lord King.” He resumed his attention on Berevrion. “Do tell us about our new King! What is he like? And it is true that you are one of his kinsmen from the north?”

There was not a good deal of time to satisfy Master Nerwion’s curiosity before they arrived at Normandil’s home, one that proved larger and more private than that of Nerwion himself. They passed through a stone archway into carefully landscaped grounds, in the center of which stood a house built of grey stone, large, three storied, with glazed windows and an imposing door of heavy wooden beams. The door stood open, and waiting in its center stood Master Normandil, a Man a half a head taller than his brother, with eyes that proved shrewd and considering.

“Welcome, my lords!” he said, bowing deeply. “So, you have chosen to accept my invitation to stay in my home? I am honored. And, Bilstred—Lyrien! How wonderful that you are here, too! Enter; enter and be welcomed! Danford—see that my brother’s rooms are prepared to house him and my niece! The grooms will see to your horses. And Master Anorgil, you have come with the deputation? How provident! You see, your father is also my guest, having been resident for the last two days, come here to Destrier from Hevensgil.”

At this Anorgil’s expression had gone quite rigid, although it remained fixedly polite, and Wendthor noted that when he greeted Master Gilflorin it was with a marked lack of warmth.

Soon all sat down to a sumptuous meal that had obviously been prepared in full expectation that they would indeed lodge here during their stay. Master Nerwion’s wife and grown son attended the meal, the young Man seated at the side of Wendthor and obviously chosen to serve as a companion to Lord Benargil’s son.

The first course was of white fish, of which Lord Berevrion ate only sufficient to be polite. However, as during this course he was kept busy describing the coronation of their new King, none made any comment on this. He explained that, yes, he was indeed a kinsman to his Majesty, being the son to the King’s father’s first cousin. He had known the King since they were first judged ready to train with the Rangers of Eriador, and had become one of the Captains of the Rangers himself, going between the forces that patrolled the northern borders of the lands held by the Northern Dúnedain and those that watched over traffic along the great West Road. He explained his duties as the head of the Guild of those who guarded the laws of Arnor, and spoke of how he had served on Aragorn’s Council for several decades. Yes, he was aware of the trading that was done between the remnant of the Northern Dúnedain and other peoples, and would be glad to make those who governed that trade aware of Master Normandil and his network of merchants. And what specifically did Master Normandil trade in?

During the second course it was Normandil who did most of the talking, and not until the third course was served did the conversation become more general. The specific matter that had drawn Lords Berevrion and Erchirion to come north from Minas Tirith into Anórien, however, was not discussed at table, becoming the subject of converse only after the meal was over and all had withdrawn into Normandil’s Great Room to sit at more ease over glasses of a variety of liquors that Normandil’s seneschal offered for their comfort—and, Wendthor suspected, as examples of the wares his master could offer in trade.

“It was a bad business,” Normandil commented, shaking his head. “I’ve discussed it often enough with Master Gilflorin, of course. That three young people of such promise as these showed could choose to offer worship to the dread Master of our enemies? Who could have imagined such a thing?”

Gilflorin nodded his agreement with their host. “Indeed! As if Mordor required even more strength from the rituals attempted by three who were little better than boys themselves. And there has been much discussion as to how it came to be that young Danárion could have come by a copy of such a terrible work as The Book of Shadows.”

“That has been learned,” Wendthor said. “It was the copy of the work held by my grandsire Astúrion, which Master Enelmir found in our library and that he convinced my father to rid himself of. Father carried it to the trash heap himself; and apparently a few days later, when Danárion was released from the madhouse in Anwar, he found it whilst searching for items that might be of use to his family.” He sipped appreciatively at the liqueur he’d been provided with. “But there would be nothing within it that could actually have benefited the Nameless One, as it had been learned that the book itself was fraudulent, not written by the Enemy’s servants but instead by Macardion of Dor-en-Ernil.”

Caraftion, who was listening to the discussion but not taking active part in it, exclaimed, “Really?”

“And you know this to be true, that the book was a fraud?” asked Normandil, his attention riveted on Wendthor’s face.

“Yes—my grandfather indicated on its opening pages that this had been learned by the Lord Steward Turgon and his son, our late Lord Steward Ecthelion, during their investigations of the doings of Macardion when they determined he was a madman whose obsessions threatened the stability of the realm.”

“And this was shared by Lord Ecthelion with my Lord Kinsman during a visit he made here during his younger years,” Berevrion affirmed.

All straightened at this. “Our new King has visited Gondor in the past?” demanded Normandil. “When?”

“As I said, he did so many years ago, although it was not—well, it was not precisely a visit of state. He came under an assumed name and became known to Lord Ecthelion, who treated him with grave courtesy, recognizing that Aragorn had come from Eriador and was perhaps the Heir to Isildur. Never would Aragorn answer the Lord Steward’s questions regarding his parentage with either yea or nay, for he came to honor both the Steward and his son, the late Lord Steward Denethor, and he did not seek to disturb their rule in any way.”

“And why would he who was destined to become King of Gondor come in disguise?”

Berevrion shrugged, playing with his glass. “What can I say? It was deemed proper that Aragorn, for whom great things were likely should it come to be that in his day the final battles against Sauron should be fought—well, it was deemed proper that he should be given time to study the lands over which he might be expected one day to rule. And for this he was granted permission by our Council of Elders to come south for further direct education. He would not be the instrument of discord, so he did not come here as the Heir of Isildur, but as one interested in learning ways of defense, trade, and the implementation of the ancient laws that governed both North and South in the days when Elendil was High King over both Arnor and Gondor. As I said, Ecthelion suspected his origins and destiny, as did his son as well. Aragorn came away with great respect for the capabilities and integrity of both Men, and he would do nothing to put forth any claims until he was certain that both lands would be willing to accept him as King with as little chance for destabilizing Gondor as possible. He knew that only if he proved himself against Sauron would Gondor be likely to accept him as a candidate for the Winged Crown.”

“I see,” commented Master Nerwion. “It appears that your Lord Aragorn has proved most politic in his considerations.”

“Indeed, our Lord King Aragorn Elessar is both politic and wise, but that is only to be expected of one of his breeding and training and education,” Berevrion answered him, his expression thoughtful as he considered the nature of the Master of the village of Destrier. “But what else would be likely to be true of the proper Heir to Elendil and Isildur through the line of Isildur’s son Valandil, all of whom have been recipients of tutelage from the Master of Imladris?”

“And it was Imladris,” Normandil noted, “that our Lord Boromir sought to find when he left Gondor nearly a year past.”

“He found it at the last,” Berevrion told him.

“But he came not home again to his father and the Citadel of Minas Tirith,” noted Master Gilflorin.

“That he did not do, for the Fellowship was assaulted on the slopes of Amon Hen by Uruk-hai sent by Saruman the Traitor, and he fell there, pierced by many of their great black arrows. So have witnessed Aragorn, Prince Legolas Thranduilion, and Gimli Gloin’s son of Erebor, who found him dying where he’d made his stand to defend the Ringbearer’s kinsmen. Aragorn has told that at least three of the many wounds borne by Lord Boromir were mortal, and he could only ease the pain as Boromir took his last breaths. They honored him as they could, giving his body to the river that it not be dishonored by any further enemies who might chance upon it, and they left in pursuit of those orcs who had taken Masters Meriadoc and Peregrin prisoner, seeking to honor your Lord Boromir more fully by taking up the rescue of those he had died defending.”

“These two, Meriadoc and Peregrin—they are kinsmen who accompanied the Cormacolindo southward?”

“Indeed.”

“Did Lord Aragorn and his companions effect the rescue they undertook?”

Berevrion smiled wryly. “Nay—Masters Merry and Pippin were able to escape on their own when their captors were attacked by the Rohirrim, and were well away and in safety when Aragorn, Prince Legolas, and Gimli found the pyre the Riders made of the Uruks’ bodies.” His smile widened. “And both helped to protect many ere the war was won at the end.”

Wendthor interjected, “Master Meriadoc rode to the Battle of the Pelennor with the Lady Éowyn of Rohan, and both struck at the Lord of the Nazgûl, bringing about his death.”

Berevrion added, “And Peregrin helped save Lord Faramir from the fire that nearly ended his life within Minas Tirith, and was wounded saving the lives of at least three others in the battle before the Black Gate. Both are greatly honored by all, as are the Ringbearers themselves.”

Ringbearers? There are more than just one?” Caraftion appeared amazed.

“Frodo Baggins is honored as the Cormacolindo, the one who bore the Ring upon his breast to the Sammath Naur itself. But his companion, Samwise Gamgee, is equally honored as the one who brought his master and friend through Mordor to that place. Neither could have done the journey alone. And there was a short time that Master Samwise bore the Ring himself before he could return it to Frodo.”

“And this Master Samwise is the one they refer to as the Ringbearer’s esquire, then?” asked Normandil. “I see!”

“Indeed. And two truer and more honorable individuals do not walk the surface of Middle Earth, or so I suspect,” replied Berevrion.

“And our new King honors them as well?” inquired Gilflorin.

“I have seen him in converse with Master Frodo, as the Ringbearer prefers to be addressed,” Anorgil said. “They speak of one another as brothers of the heart.”

Berevrion was nodding. “So it is between them.”

After a few moments of consideration, Master Nerwion ventured, “I do not understand why our Lord King interests himself in the doings of those in Destrier.”

“The murder of three children is a capital offense,” the northern lord answered him, “and as the ruler of the realm he must sign the death warrant for Danárion and appoint a witness to the execution for the Crown. But before he would do so, Aragorn seeks to assure himself that the justice dispensed in his name is true justice. And there are those in Minas Tirith who question the testimony of some who gave witness in the trial.”

“None within Destrier would lie regarding such a matter!” Nerwion was bristling at the perceived insult against the integrity of his people.

Gilflorin, however, signaling for his glass to be refilled a third time, shrugged. “Medril’s wife is not precisely known for being the most truthful of individuals, and you know it, Nerwion. Every time something of import happens within the village she insists that she was involved in some manner or another.”

“Medril?” asked Master Bariol. “Is this the Medril whose farm lies east of the village?”

“Yes,” answered Nerwion. “His wife and daughter saw Danárion and the maiden he last courted as they walked away from the gully where lies the ditch in which the children’s bodies were found. She knows the maiden well, for she is the girl’s aunt, the sister of the girl’s father.”

“If Danárion sought to court this young woman, why would he think to take her to see where the bodies of the children were found, hidden in the water?” asked Harolfileg, speaking for the first time since their arrival. “Killing three children to honor the Dark Lord does not appear the type of act that would lead a maiden to look upon him with favor.”

Nerwion’s wife commented, “Perhaps he thought to compel her through fear. If she saw him as powerful, she might be better persuaded to allow him to rule her in other matters as well. There are enough Men about who seek to dominate their wives through threats of violence, and who rule their children by means of fear.”

There were mutual glances among the company at this observation, which none could dispute. The Elf withdrew into himself, obviously disapproving of any who would depend on such tactics to rule their households.

“What kind of questions do you intend to ask?” asked Nerwion.

Erchirion shrugged. “We have many. We know that from the first opening of The Book of Shadows whoever seeks to read it is advised it is known to be fraudulent, for Wendthor has witnessed the inscription made there by his grandsire. Why would the one reading the book ignore that warning and still seek to follow the rituals described therein? How was this ritual supposedly carried out, as no signs of any ritual were reported to have been found anywhere within the area inside or immediately surrounding the gully where the ditch was found? Why did the parents of the three young Men all insist that their sons went not out that night? And if they went not out, how was it that Danárion was able to get to the home of his lady-love, whom we understand lives on a farm south of the village and across the Highway, bring her north unnoted in the dark of the night to the gully, and then lead her away again seen only by Medril’s wife and daughter but no one else? Why is it none missed her in her own home? Are her parents so careless in following the actions of their daughter?”

Anorgil continued the list of questions to be answered: “Why does the constable Amdir question the test by water overseen of the youth Garestil by the guardsman Hanalgor? The other young Man held in the gaol after Carenthor was taken into custody—he admits that Carenthor was held separately from all others. How was it that Carenthor was yet able to speak with him to admit his involvement in the murders, and to describe how it was he sought to strengthen his own manhood by seeking to devour that of the child who was dismembered?” He ignored the revulsion shown by Normandil and those of Nerwion’s family to add, “And what of the charge that the story he told in court is not the same as what he originally told the guardsmen and constables who questioned him?”

“And why were the arguments made when those who sat in the jury were absent as to what the jury would be allowed to hear, arguments that indicate that there was good reason to question the guilt of those accused of this crime, ordered not to be made part of the final transcript of the trial?” asked Wendthor. “I will be Lord of Anwar one day, and I would not wish to find that indications of innocence were kept from me when I must review a case as my father was expected to review this one.”

“If the children of the village who had ponies were known to ride in the common fields south of the village gates, how was it they ended up across the canal east of the village instead? What would lead them to take their ponies into the disused fields there, and how would they get there?” asked Erchirion.

Berevrion sighed and set his now empty glass on the table beside him. “And there are so many more questions we would have answered for us,” he pointed out. “But we have ridden a fair ways today, and should perhaps retire that we might meet early in the morning with the people of Medril’s farm. After all, this is the place closest to where the bodies were found, and there are questions as to his son’s actions and the matter of the liquor said to have been stolen from his storehouse and drunk by the three youths on the night of the murders. Also, his wife and daughter were witnesses questioned in the trial, having seen Danárion and the girl quitting the place where the bodies were found. Master Nerwion, if you will have a constable attend upon us in the morning who can take us and show us the way to Master Medril’s farm, and who would take us also to see the place where the bodies were found, we would be most appreciative.”

Reluctantly, Nerwion indicated he would have Constable Amdir there first thing in the morning, and the King’s deputation and Master Caraftion allowed themselves to be led to the rooms prepared for them.



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