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Aug 01, 2021 11:36 PM
Owls and Blues in Heritage
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The town of Willowvale is quiet and out of the way. Shipments are sent up and down the river at semi-regular intervals, merchants occasionally stop by on their way to more important places, and the nearby estate sits quiet and empty. Someone important once lived there, but that 'once' was a long time ago. For decades, it's stood comparatively quiet, with only minor care from a couple of retainers to keep the entire place from falling to pieces. There are nicer estates in places that are easier to reach, this one's pretty easy to overlook. It makes a nice, scenic backdrop to a sleepy little middle-of-nowhere town, though.

And then a retinue arrives, sent by the lord that owns the estate to clean it up, and suddenly all of Willowvale is bustling in response. The estate needs to be properly cleaned, who wants to be paid money to help? The new staff that are running the place need to be fed, which local farmers would like to be the ones to sell their produce? These things have rotted or rusted in the time the estate was abandoned, who in town can make replacements? The estate will need guards for the lord when he arrives, who here has a strong arm, doesn't ask too many questions, and likes coin?

It's pretty good pay.

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Alanaer son of Enfar has a strong arm and needs money.

He doesn't ask questions, but he's--quietly--very observant.

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A lot of the people that work here have absolutely no idea why Lord Rithan is coming here, and it doesn't look like he's going to stay for very long. This is an awful lot of wasted resources for what looks like a stay of a month or two, at the most.

... There is a particular care towards getting his bedroom set up. Some people gossip that maybe he's quietly gotten married, or this estate is going to belong to a mistress or something.

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Either sounds plausible, but he's not going to make assumptions yet. He does his job diligently and keeps his eyes peeled, his ears open and his mouth shut.

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He's well liked for his taciturn nature and his capable manner.

As such, when the lord himself shows up at the estate, Alanaer gets quietly taken aside and asked if he'd like to be paid extra to work late that night. To help make sure everything goes smoothly.

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That sounds intensely suspicious, so of course he says yes. You can't find out what's going on if you're not around, after all.

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Lord Rithan seems oddly smug, and seems to enjoy showing off his magic's teleportation abilities.

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And in the middle of the very suspicious night, there is a feminine shriek from one of the rooms.

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Well.

He was certainly not warned that any such thing was to happen. Not that he wouldn't have investigated without that convenient excuse.

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The shrieking has evolved into shouting. He can only really hear one side of the conversation.

"- You idiot, do you have any idea how stupid this is - you can't just steal a princess and have people not care -"

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What. The. Fuck.

He knocks on the door.

"M'lord, is there some trouble?"

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"No trouble, thank you, please go -"

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"Like hell there's no - excuse me! I will pay an outrageous sum of money to whomever gets this madman away from m-"

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There is a feminine-sounding squeak and then:

"It's fine, really."

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Like hell it is.

Alanaer likes to think he'd have done the exact same thing even if he hadn't had two sisters, but as it is all he can think of is Larassa's voice replacing this stranger's.

He is very good with a sword, and attendant skills. The door is open and he's inside and then his employer has a large piece of metal somewhere very inconvenient for making trouble for anyone ever again.

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His employer was not expecting this! He does not teleport out of the way, and summarily chokes on his own blood and dies.

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"... Thank you very much for your prompt response," says the princess sincerely, after an awkward pause. "Hello. Would you like a new employer?"

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"That would be very kind of you, seeing as I seem to have just mislaid my old one."

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She hiccups half a giggle, then her princessly dignity reasserts itself and she curtsies politely.

"Excellent. I'm Crown Princess Aliveth Vaslinue, pleasure to make your acquaintance. Would you like to have, ah -" she does a quick tally of all of the jewelry on her person, its net worth, and what she will likely need to pay her way out of trouble in the future, "- my necklace and my bracelet in exchange for your help and directions back to Kivenne, with more compensation when I make it home, or would you like to help escort me back to Kivenne in exchange for, uh. Asylum from whatever trouble doing that would get you, a lot of money, and possibly a nice house somewhere?"

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"If I pick the latter option can I bring my family? They'd be useful for camoflage on the way there, too, my mother and sister are redheads, you'll fit right in."

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"Certainly! That sounds like an excellent idea."

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"Then the latter option sounds excellent." He looks at the corpse on the floor and sighs and shakes his head. "We'd best be off quickly, then, before the other guards discover what's happened."

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"Agreed. We can go out the window, if that would help avoid any trouble. I can fly."

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"Ooh, it might!"

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"Excellent. Though I do glow in the dark while I'm doing it, so, ah. If anyone would notice, please let me know."

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"Well, he didn't tell us he was planning to kidnap someone--come to think of it, with all the speculation that he was prettying the place up for a wife or mistress, we could probably walk right out by pretending you were one of those and had asked me to bodyguard you while you took a walk. As long as no one walks in on this, at least," he adds, gesturing to the body with his sword.

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