Legends of Cobalt

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A Lady’s Aide

“Perfect, you’re all just in time.” A woman in a form-fitting dress emerged from the front door of The Atropa Belladonna. “I am Olivia Tiarna,” She removed a long black glove and extended her hand to Wyanet. “We have collected and interrogated your suspect. Father wishes to speak with you. He sent me and my bodyguard, Fredrick.” She gestured to the towering, armour-clad, blue-scaled Dragonborn behind her. “To escort you back to Wolfhearth.”

Phebes grabbed Olivia’s outstretched hand and shook it like a rag doll. “We need to talk to your dad too. Wait, your dad is Lord Tiarna right?”

Oliva pulled her hand back and slipped her glove on. “Yes, my Father is Lord Tiarna.” She opened the door to a waiting carriage. “Get in, we will take you to the manor.”

Nellie tugged at my sleeve. “Can I come too? I’ve always wanted to ride in a carriage.”

“I’ll ask,” I pulled Nellie in front of me and placed my hands on her shoulders. She felt cold beneath my touch. “Miss Olivia?”

“Yes?” Olivia helped Wyanet into the carriage.

“Is there enough space for us to bring our guide? She’s been pivotal in our affairs, and I don’t want to leave her alone on the street.”

A sad smile creased Olivia’s sharp features. “Of course,” Olivia extended her hand to Nellie. “Come, child, we’ll make room for you.”

Nellie skipped over to Olivia and climbed into the cabin. Bucephalus followed her to the carriage door.

Olivia stepped into Bucephalus’s path. “My apologies, Father, I’m afraid there won’t be enough space inside for everyone. Would you be kind enough to ride on the footboard?”

Fredrick nodded to his mistress and climbed up beside the driver. 

Bucephalus snorted and bowed his head. “I understand, my lady, it is not an issue.”

“I’ll ride with you,” I started toward the rear of the carriage. 

“Mister Von Veltliner,” Olivia called. “There is enough space for you inside, but not our larger companions.”

“I want to chat with Ceph,” I clambered onto the footboard beside Bucephalus. “I’m used to the elements anyway.”

“Very well,” Olivia climbed into her carriage. “Driver, take us back to the house.”

The reigns cracked and the carriage lumbered forward.

“Why didn’t you force your way inside like you did this morning?” I called over the thunder of hooves and clatter of wheels.

“She asked nicely,” Bucephalus pointed his chin at the Dragonborn beside the driver. “And he didn’t get to ride inside either.”

Minutes passed with silence between us.

“Hey, Ceph?”

What?”

“Do you know a lot about the gods?”

“Knowing about the gods is my job, I am a priest after all. Why do you ask?”

“Do you know anything about people who have visions and dreams about the gods?”

Bucephalus remained silent for a few city blocks.

“There are stories about people who have a special relationship with the gods. The Cardinal Conclave has made it a prime directive of the Inquisition to hunt down these people. Some are permitted to train into the clergy. Most of them are executed as heretics. There hasn’t been a confirmed sighting of these, god-children, for a few centuries.” Bucephalus turned his head toward me. “When we have a moment alone, we should have a chat.”

We rode the rest of the way to Wolfhearth in silence. My stiff fingers and numb legs held me in place as we rolled up to the front doors. Fredrick lowered himself from the driver’s bench and helped the women out. Bucephalus and I pried each other off the back. Olivia waved the door guards away and ushered us inside. The door closed and Olivia turned back to face us, “Is our guide crucial for your report to my father?” 

Nellie hid behind Wyanet’s legs.

Wyanet reached a protective hand back to her. “There is nothing of consequence she can add.”

“Perfect,” Olivia smiled. “Simon, Simon get out here, I need you.” Olivia extended a hand to Nellie. “Come along little one, we’ll get you cleaned up.”

Simon appeared from a doorway behind the stairs. “How can I be of assistance Mistress?”

Nellie took Olivia’s hand and stood beside her. 

“This is Nellie,” Olivia replied. “Give her a hot bath, a warm meal and a change of clothes. She’s staying with us tonight.”

Simon nodded. He bent down and offered his elbow to Nellie. “My lady, if you would come with me, I will take care of you.”

Nellie giggled and took Simon’s arm. The pair vanished through the door Simon appeared from.

“Now then,” Olivia smoothed the folds of her dress. “My father is waiting in his study.” 

Olivia slid open the set of doors and we followed her inside. Jack’s cleaver sat on a white cloth on the table between the couches. Lord Tiarna lounged at his desk, a heavy book in his lap.

“Come in, take a seat.” Lord Tiarna clapped his book closed and tossed it on his desk. He crossed the room and took a seat on the couches. Olivia sat beside him and Fredrick stood behind them. “We have interrogated the child you accuse of being The Ripper.”

“You guys got her!?” Phebes jumped to the edge of her seat. “What did she say?”

Lord Tiarna crossed his legs. “I’m getting to that. If you don’t interrupt me, you will find out sooner.”

Phebes, pink-cheeked, sank back. “Sorry.”

“After interrogating Jacqueline, we do not believe her to be the murderer, but…”

“How can that be?” Wyanet clutched the arm of the couch. “She tried to kill us. We saw her kill an innocent woman with that knife there.” Wyanet jabbed a finger at the cleaver on the table.

Lord Tiarna’s nostrils flared and his lip curled. “That, knife, is the issue.”

Olivia placed her hand on her father’s knee. “When Jacqueline’s belongings arrived, I catalogued and examined them. I specifically searched for any items with a magical signature. She possessed three items of note, the most significant one being that cleaver. Have any of you handled it?”

“I did,” I leaned forward. “Why?”

“Did anything strange happen when you first touched the cleaver?”

“A voice I didn’t recognise kept whispering ‘kill’ in the back of my mind.”

“Then my hypothesis is correct. This weapon has a mind of its own. In a manner of speaking.”

Lord Tiarna curled a corner of the cloth over the cleaver. “The weapon itself, not its wielder, is the Ripper. The weapon corrupts your mind and forces you to do what it wants.” 

Phebes gave a nervous laugh. “You’re joking, right? How could a weapon have a mind of its own?”

“It depends on the situation,” Bucephalus leaned on the back of the couch. “Intelligent weapons are rare. The Conclave owns a few that once belonged to long-dead saints. Their owner’s soul bound itself to the weapon to guide future owners. In theory, an evil spirit with enough malice could do the same thing.”

“Why would a child have such a weapon?” Wyanet frowned.

“We asked her about it,” Lord Tiarna replied. “All she could remember was a priest gave it to her. And he ordered her to make as many corpses as possible.”

“Is she still here?” I asked.

“We removed the curse the weapon placed on her. We planned on keeping her for the night to make sure she is sane enough to go back into the world.”

“You informed me you had a report to make to my father.” Olivia angled herself toward Lord Tiarna.

“We do,” I braced my elbows on my knees and laced my fingers. “We think we found where your cult is hiding, but we need help to dig them out. A banshee attacked us when we opened their door, and it sounded like more were on the way when we left.”

“How am I supposed to help?” Lord Tiarna crossed his arms. “That is what I hired you for.”

“Your son, William, offered to assist us if we needed it,” Wyanet replied.

“No, out of the question. William is too important for me to risk based on your suspicion.”

“I’ll do it.” Olivia straightened her legs and smoothed her skirts. “I have no importance to your political game that Ophilia can’t take on in a few years and I’ll also have Fredrick. That gives them two companions when they asked for one and it removes any major risk to the pack.”

“My lady, you do not have to do this,” Bucephalus interjected.

“Nonsense. You asked for help, and it furthers the objectives of my pack. Fredrick is a bonus asset you get with my assistance.”

Lord Tiarna sighed. “There is little point in arguing with her. When she makes up her mind it is rare for her to change it.”

Olivia jumped from her seat. “I’ll have Simon and his staff prepare rooms for you. We’ll begin tomorrow morning after breakfast.”

The story will continue, April 23rd,  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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